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Write a short note on Nalanda University

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  • Last Updated : 28 Nov, 2022
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In ancient Magadha, the Buddhist monastic university Nalanda was well-known. among the greatest centers of study in the ancient world, and is regarded by historians as the first residential university in history. In the fifth and sixth centuries CE, a time that academics have since referred to as the Golden Age of India, Nalanda was crucial in advancing the patronage of the arts and education.

When the Gupta Empire was in power, several Indian sponsors helped create Nalanda. Its faculty over a span of 750 years comprised some of the most renowned experts in Mahayana Buddhism. Grammar, medicine, logic, and mathematics were among the six main Buddhist schools and philosophies taught by Nalanda Mahavihara, along with Yogacara and Sarvastivada. A significant number of the books written at Nalanda contributed to the growth of the Mahayana and Vajrayana schools of Buddhism. By the time Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji’s army plundered and destroyed it, it had been partially reconstructed, and it had survived until around the year 1400 CE.

Nalanda University

At the time that Chinese pilgrim Xuan Zang traveled to India, Nalanda was a center of study. He spent time learning in Nalanda with other pilgrims, and he characterized it as:

  1. The Nalanda professors were individuals of the finest talent and ability. They firmly adhered to the Buddha’s teachings.
  2. Everyone was required to abide by the severe restrictions of the monastery.
  3. All during the day, discussions take place. The young and the aged helped each other in turn.
  4. Men of learning from many cities came here to clear up their questions.

The gatekeeper grilled newcomers with challenging inquiries. After responding to such inquiries, they are only permitted to enter. Seven to eight people out of 10 are unable to respond. Due to its dedication to the growth of India as a powerful force in the fourth century, the college of Nalanda gained significant notoriety, respect, and importance in earlier times and climbed to remarkable stature.

At its height, the institution attracted students and researchers from all over the world, including individuals from Tibet, China, Korea, and Central Asia. The formation of significant showing institutions was aided by the highly organized Buddhist examining methods. The Shailendra tradition of Indonesia was also contacted, according to archaeological evidence, and one of its kings built a cloister within the complex. In the fifth and sixth centuries, the Gupta Empire supported Nalanda, and later under Harsha, the king of Kannauj, Nalanda flourished. The Gupta era’s open social practices contributed to a period of growth and prosperity that lasted until the ninth century CE. The hundreds of years that followed were marked by increasing degradation, and it was during this time that the Pala Empire in eastern India saw the tantric advancements of Buddhism become widely articulated.

The teachers and practices at Nalanda have a significant influence on how Tibetan Buddhism, including its Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions, came to exist. Researcher in Nalanda, Shantarakshita was responsible for the eighth-century expansion of Buddhism in Tibet. Khri-soon-deu-tsan, the Tibetan monarch, welcomed him. He later established the cloister at Samye and served as the institution’s first abbot. He and his student Kamalashila essentially taught the Tibetans how to reason. One of the major exponents of Buddhist atomism as well as one of the Buddhist philosophers of Indian reason, the researcher Dharmakirti, taught at Nalanda.

Destruction under Bakhtiyar Khalji

Nalanda and other nearby monasteries, including the Odantapuri Vihar, were demolished and the decline of the Ghurid dynasty general Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji was started. Three sources that are consistent but contain certain gaps that cause doubts and a small disagreement about the precise date support this destruction. A Muslim historian provides the first piece of proof. The second is Buddhist monks’ records that were uncovered in Tibet. The third form of proof comes from archaeological digs when layers of charcoal deposits were found covering damaged artwork, ruins, and Nalanda library remnants.

Sample Problems

Question 1: What subjects were taught at Nalanda University?


One of the most esteemed educational institutions in the Gupta era was Nalanda University. Students from all over the world came to study and work on subjects including the Vedas, logic and grammar, medicine, yoga, and Buddhist beliefs.

Question 2: Who founded Nalanda University?


In the fifth century C.E., Kumaragupta I of the Gupta Dynasty established Nalanda University.

Question 3: Name some patrons of Nalanda university.


King Harshavardhana of Kannauj, a well-known monarch, also financed Nalanda University.

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