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History of Nalanda University

Updated on August 14, 2014
Nalanda University
Nalanda University

Nalanda University

Nalanda near Patna grew to be the foremost Buddhist monastery and educational centre in the north. Most of the information that is available about Nalanda University during the 6th and 7th centuries A.D. is due to the accounts left by the Chinese pilgrims, Hiuen-Tsang who lived here for three years in the first half of the 7th century and I-Tsing who stayed here for ten years towards the later part of the same century. From Chinese accounts, it is evident that about one thousand and five hundred teachers and ten thousand monk students lived in Nalanda. However, at the time of I-Tsing, the numerical strength of students studying at the University was about three thousand. Nalanda attracted students from places as distant as China and South-east Asia. The excavations at Nalanda have revealed a large area of well-constructed monasteries and temples. Nalanda was supported by the income from a number of villages which the monastery acquired over the years through donations. These villages and estates covered the expenses of the University, which was thus able to provide free educational facilities and residence to most of its teachers and students.

Admission to studentship in the University was extremely strict. Intending students came from all parts of India and even beyond. They were lodged in a Guest House and some learned professors, who acted as Great Scholars, entered into conversation with them and closely observed their mental qualities, conduct and mode of life for many days, where-after the selection was made. All academic activities as well as the lives of the inmates were regulated by very strict rules of discipline and with due regard to punctuality, the time being announced at regular intervals from a water clock. Out of the total number of 10,000 resident monks at Nalanda, 8500 were students and 1500 belonged to the ranks of teachers. Of these, there were 1000 teachers who could explain twenty collections of Sutras, 500 teachers specialized in thirty collections, and perhaps, 10 in fifty collections. In Hiuen-Tsang's time, monk Shilabhadra was the Rector of the University. Before him, monk Dharmapala of Kanchi was the Rector as well as a teacher of Shilabhadra also. Hiuen- Tsang was the pupil of Shilabhadra. After Shilabhadra, monk Dharmakirti became the Rector.

The teaching was carried on in hundreds of lectures to large and small groups or classes, from morning till sunset. The Seminar system of questions and discussions was adopted by the teachers. The courses of study offered by Nalanda University covered a wide range of subjects, almost the entire circle of knowledge then available. They were drawn from different fields of learning, Brahmanical and Buddhist, sacred and secular, philosophical and practical, science and arts etc. However, great emphasis at Nalanda was given to Mahayana learning (the Great Vehicle), along with the study of 18 sects, the Vedas and other books, the Hetuvidya, Sabdavidya, the Chikitsavidya, the words on Magic or Atharvaveda, the Samkhya, and the Sanskrit Grammar etc. After the study was over, the award ceremony was solemnized and degrees were awarded to students, taking into account their merit and social status.

Information on the Nalanda University Library is given in Tibetan accounts from which we understand that the library, situated in a special area known as Dharmagana, comprised three huge buildings called Ratnasagara, Ratnadadhi and Ratnaranjaka. Of these, Ratnasagara was a nine-storeyed building, which housed the collection of manuscripts and rare sacred works, like Prajnaparamita Sutra etc. In 1197-1203 A.D., Bukhtiyar Khilji destroyed Nalanda and set fire to the establishment.


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      Muskan Ali Shah 4 years ago

      I am so much liking THE NALANDA UNIVERSITY . I wish in this century also we can see like this great university . I want more and more knowledge about NALANDA UNIVERSITY . It's real education place in India .

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      yamuna ranganathan 4 years ago

      i would like to study in this beautiful university

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      dibyani 4 years ago

      i love it because i had personally visit it

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      anwaar samdani 4 years ago

      it is very very good work of all world basically in India.

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      kashish walia 4 years ago

      nalanda university, after reading information about it i realize the real cost of education , thanks o lot to gautam buddha.

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      Ritu raj singh Goyal 4 years ago

      I Love Nalanada University because my sir was telling that was very good

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      rajeev kushwaha 4 years ago

      i like nalnda university because nalnda university was first in world

      india had change if nalnda university present in india.

      student comes to india to study but indian student not will have to go to study abrod if nalnda present in india

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      Samraj19 5 years ago

      Nalanda shows the sovereignty of the Buddhism in India

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      rajiv ranjan from ranchi 5 years ago

      proud of nalanda univ and related a.d.m people. should be recomo

      ded for issu

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      nalanda a place where found the empire state of education by buddha and hindus but a bad element of kings worst nalanda because he want to spread islam by wrong way

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      Anand 5 years ago

      This is the first university in the whole world. Even in that time itself, it is having the 350 subjects like medicine, art, architect etc... . At present, all the biggest universities like Harvard, Californiya teches the subjects which is goes from here only. What a heart breaking matter is that, all the indian students goes there & study that subject which goes from here. Please think about it folks.

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      saksham tyagi class 7 5 years ago

      I like this university very much and want to rebuild this university because this university is soul of India

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      Anand kumar 5 years ago

      Amazing quality of all attributes who belongs to n.u like stud,faculty

      i listen gatekeeper was also high qualified

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      BAHADUR SG 5 years ago


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      sujitha muthukrishnan 5 years ago

      since, where is the university? this is a greatest university in our India. We are all miss it that

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      Vishnu 5 years ago

      I like nalandha very much i wish it may exist now for us.,

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      PBS KUMAR 5 years ago

      A brief story just I have heard in lecture class by Mr. R. Rangarajan, one of the eminent scholer. In his speech few points discussed on this NALANDA UNIVERSITY in ancient days. As an I am proved that great eduction of origion was done in those days. But still we are not recongnizing ourself.

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      dhanyaduraisamy 5 years ago

      It is nice but i do want to know how you got these information of nalanda university

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      Dhananjay meshram 6 years ago

      India must develop this sites & focus attention to atract the world towards such beautiful haritages.

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      Chawla & Co Ltd 6 years ago

      The above article is very interesting & informative. Its very excited to know about education system in the history of India.