With the rise of Buddhism in India, there arose many centres of learning which did not exist before. As a result Buddhist India came to have five major universities which achieved wide fame. These five were NALANDA, Vickramasila, Odantapuri,Jagadalala and Somapura. In the 10th century when Hieun Tsang entered the university, there were 10,000 resident students. It's chancellorship was reserved for India's foremost Buddhist scholar. At that time there were 10,000 students, 1510 teachers, and about 1,500 workers at Nalanda. Students from foreign lands such as Tibet, China, Japan, Korea, Sumatra, Java and Sri Lanka were found there. Admission to Nalanda was by oral examination. This was done by a professor at the entrance hall. He was called Dvara Pandita. Proficiency in Sanskrit was necessary, as it was the medium of instruction. All Chinese monks going to India for higher studies in Buddhism had to go to Java and brush up their Sanskrit. It is reported that of the foreign students only 20% managed to pass the stiff examinations. Of the Indian students only 30% managed to pass and gain admission. Therefore the standard required were high. Casts, creed and nationality were no barriers in keeping with the Buddhist spirit. There were no external students at the university. Nalanda was maintained by the revenue from seven villages which were granted by the king.
- Contributed by Arindam Sen
Landscape view, NALANDA - 1895
Photograph of a landscape view near Nalanda, in Bihar, taken by Alexander Caddy in 1895. Nalanda was originally famous as the sanctuary of Shariputra, one of Buddha's followers. It was visited by Buddha and Ashoka, the Mauryan Emperor, however there are very few archaeological remains from this early period. Nalanda soon achieved the status of a major centre of Mahayana Buddhist studies and by the 7th Century scholars from all over Asia were visiting and studying at the monasteries and university. Today, the site consists of a row of nine ruined Buddhist monasteries and four two-storey square temples with raised central sanctuaries. The outside of the latter were decorated with pilasters and images set in niches. These raised sanctuaries can be seen in the background of this photograph, buried under centuries of accumulated earth.
Copyright © The British Library Board
What happened to Nalanda? Where did it go?
@sumer, it faced invasions and hence vas destroyed.
It faced many invasions n hence destroyed.
Who invaded? Who destroyed it?
It was destroyed by bhaktiyar khilji n den followed by repeated attacks by malik kafur..both belonged to delhi sultanate period...the armies of khilji dynasty massacred all buddhist monks and scholars cuz dey feared d spread buddhism wud b harmful for spread of islam in medieval india,captured d students,sold dem as slaves,nalanda university its architecture n momuments were desecrated and destroyed.d magnificient library was burnt.it was said dat d library burnt for 3 months...such was d end of nalanda
It was catering to multi disciplinary approach but major focus was on buddhist theology,study of tripitakas and buddhist canons..pali and prakrit was d medium of language and occasionaly sanskrit was used..subjects ranging from ethics to philosophy,astronomy to medicine,
RBSI Admin...i wonder how sanskrit was d medium of instruction @ nalanda..may b it was used as a secondary medium but many historical books mention pali and prakrit as d medium of instruction...buddhist monks had reservations against vedas and thus sanskrit wic was considered as brahminical language,,,and most teachings of buddha and mahavira r in prakrit n pali...and by medieval times both languages had not becom extinct...xuan zang[hieun tsang] mentions another language cald as upper buddhist prakrit in his travel memoirs wic was spoken @ nalanda and adjacent areas..besides most rulers frm mauryan times patronised pali,prakrit as these were official languages propagated by buddha than sanskrit...so its skeptical that sanskrit was medium of instruction[needless 2 say wikipedia also mentions sanskrit],,bt buddhacharitra by asvaghosha,xuan zang's travel memoirs mention pali,prakrit
Typo: Note on Nalanda contributed by Arindam Sen . Will soon correct the error.
Yes. Its pali which was used as an easier medium, even by ashoka i think.
What is the latest with Amartya Sen's trying to revive Nalanda ?
The opinions expressed on the starting note on this thread and by many of its contributors reflect the standard errors which have become the currently accepted mainstream wisdom, it seems no amount of effort will be able to dent the relentless march of "progress" Just a while back RBSI had posted a excellent note on Buddhism, but all that seems to be water under the bridge with a return to 18 th century British "scholarship" in short course of time. Anyway more feeble voice -- Nalanda was a significant center of learning even before Siddharth became Buddha. In fact on gaining enlightenment, he went to Nalanda to debate, and the upper hand in those debates, in the true tradition of Indian philosophy, was what established Siddharth as Buddha in great measure. Siddharth has said nothing that goes against the caste system, and in fact was a proponent of the caste system. He is on record that he could achieve Budhhahood because he was born a Kshatirya and the evolution of soul to higher castes took him closer to enligtement. The later Sangha;s were primarily supported by the mercantile castes, and from the foundation of belief in Karma effecting future, looked down on castes indulging in adham karma. In fact, looking down on castes such as butchers etc, started only after Buddhism became stronger. Sanskrit -- most of the work in Buddhism was by high scholars which was in Sanskrit, in fact one of the chief efforts of the Monks who took the religion to Tibet and elsewhere was translation. Even today some of the oldest surviving copies in Tibetian diasopra are in Sanskrit. Buddha himself was not against Brahminism in any form, he has spoken warmly of it on various occasions. Very little in Buddhism is anti Brahminical
It was burnt by Islamic forces, much like the library at Alexandria and many such precious things all over the world : all in the name of 'the all merciful'.
It was a multidisciplinary school, Buddhism and in fact theology of both Buddhist and other Indian mats (including the atheist schools) were not the largest part. The Buddhist aspect of Nalanda is most prominent because that is the part of education at Nalanda that survived through the efforts of the Chinese and Tibetan scholars, who were most interested in the Buddhist part. The other is lost, we only have some vague references, but we know that would be the case since the estimates of size of Nalanda are too large for it to merely correspond to the size of Buddhist teachings mentioned by travelers.
In the current era, not many would call to go to India for seeking knowledge. In the 7th century one such Chinese traveler, Xuanzang, disenchanted with the quality of Buddhist texts and teachers available to him, decided to go ‘west ‘ to India and spent 17 years traveling, visiting places associated with the Buddha’s life, learning Sanskrit, and studying with Buddhist masters, most notably at the Nalanda University. The subjects like grammar, logic, philosophy, metaphysics, astronomy, medicine, and theology were taught all in Sanskrit. Before returning to China, he gathered hundreds of Sanskrit texts, and other artifacts, loaded them on pack animals, and set off for home. For the remainder of his life, he worked to translate into Chinese many of the 600 odd books that survived his journey (many lost when he was crossing the Indus) and wrote commentaries on them. When Buddhism died out in India, its texts lost forever, these translations became the only version of the Indian originals. Nalanda was more like a school of higher learning. . Prospective students had to be at least 20 years old and submit to an oral exam at the university entrance and as stated earlier, many failed ( much similar situation faced by aspiring chartered accountants these days). They had to demonstrate deep familiarity with a host of subjects and with old and new books in many fields and all such books were written in Sanskrit.,
The Parliament passed a bill in August 2010 approving plans to rebuild the university, which was founded in the fifth century. There is hope the proposed new campus will one day attract thousands of the finest teachers and students from around the globe, just as the university did centuries ago. But money has been slow in coming to turn the $1 billion dream into reality, despite the support of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Indian government. A mentor group has been formed headed by Amartya Sen said the proposed university will have schools like Buddhist studies, philosophy and comparative literature, historical studies and ecology and environmental studies, etc.
...further, the subject matter here, Nalanda University was formed somewhere around the 4th and the 5th century. This was also stated by Xuanzang in his travel reports.
Nalanda's history goes back to 6th and 5th century B.C. According to Jaina text Mahavira spent 14 rainy seasons. Pali Buddhist literature also contains taht in the "course of his sojourns Buddha often visited the place which is mentiuoned as prosperous swelling, teeming with population and containing a mango grove called Pavarika. The distance from Rajagriha to Nalanda is given as a Yojana.( ref: Hirananda Shastri ( Kapila vatsyana's father in law) a Buddhist scholar in "Proceedings of the fifth oriental conference" Lahore1930) In Mahasudassana Jataka, Nala a place near Rajagriha is mentioned as the birthplace of Sariputra, one of Buddha's chief disciple. this is also supported by some Tibetan texts and Taranatha's history o Buddhism, a 17th century Tibetan work. Hiuen Tsang says in his memoirs that the place got its name from a naga of the same name which resided in a local tank. or from Buddha who in his previous birth was a king with his capital in this place and it was his charity which gave the sobriquet Nalanda or "charity without intermission" to his capital.(Ref: Buddhist Records of the Western world", S Beal 1906) Taranatha, 17th century scholar wrote that it was Ashoka who erected a temple in memory of Sariputra and gave offerings to an already existing Chaitya. He also mentions that Nagarjuna the Mahayana philosopher and alchemist of 2nd century was a student in this university and later became a high priest at Nalanda. Suvishnu a Brahmana and contemporary of Nagarjuna built one hundred and eight temples at Nalanda The alumini of the university were a veritable who's who of the Buddhist world of yore...including Aryadeva a philosopher of Madhyamika school, Asanga of Yogacharya school and his brother Vasubandhu a high priest of Nalanda.
Nitin, by the time Mahayana Buddhism evolved (Nagarjuna etc), Sanskrit became widely adopted in Buddhism. Even though the Buddha had prioritized Prakrits over Sanskrit due to his anti-brahmanical stance, by the time of Mahayana, Buddhism had become widely spread across the entire country and even in Central Asia etc. Hence it became essential to use Sanskrit, since it was the lingua franca among the educated. All the existing Mahayana and Vajrayana literature from China and Tibet are translations from Sanskrit. Since Theravada is a much older school of Buddhism, the main language in it has persisted as Pali. Not so with the later branches.
"Siddharth has said nothing that goes against the caste system, and in fact was a proponent of the caste system. He is on record that he could achieve Budhhahood because he was born a Kshatirya and the evolution of soul to higher castes took him closer to enligtement." - it would be helpful if you could provide any kind of source for this statement. It is hard to believe and flies in the face of everything Early Buddhism stood for.
By sources I mean some reference to suttas in the Pali canon ofcourse, not the opinions of some revisionist historians.
According to Jain text Mahavira spent 14 rainy seasons at Nalanda which was a suburb ( Bahiriya) of Rajagriha. Pali Buddhist literature also contains in the "course of his sojourns Buddha often visited the place which is mentioned as prosperous, swelling, teeming with population and containing a mango grove called Pavarika. The distance from Rajagriha to Nalanda is given as a Yojana.( ref: Hirananda Shastri ( Kapila vatsyana's father in law) a Buddhist scholar in "Proceedings of the fifth oriental conference" Lahore1930) ..so we can safely say that history of Nalanda goes back 6th 5th century B.C. In Mahasudassana Jataka, Nala a place near Rajagriha is mentioned as the birthplace of Sariputra, one of Buddha's chief disciple. this is also supported by some Tibetan texts and Taranatha's history o Buddhism, a 17th century Tibetan work. Hiuen Tsang says in his memoirs that the place got its name from a naga of the same name which resided in a local tank. or from Buddha who in his previous birth was a king with his capital in this place and it was his charity which gave the sobriquet Nalanda or "charity without intermission" to his capital.(Ref: Buddhist Records of the Western world", S Beal 1906) Taranatha, 17th century scholar wrote that it was Ashoka who erected a temple in memory of Sariputra and gave offerings to an already existing Chaitya. He also mentions that Nagarjuna the Mahayana philosopher and alchemist of 2nd century was a student in this university and later became a high priest at Nalanda. Suvishnu a Brahmana and contemporary of Nagarjuna built one hundred and eight temples at Nalanda The alumini of the university were a veritable who's who of the Buddhist world of yore...including Aryadeva a philosopher of Madhyamika school, Asanga of Yogacharya school and his brother Vasubandhu a high priest of Nalanda.....to be continued!
The Archaeological Museum at Nalanda also states that the Nalanda University was formed around the 4th and the 5th Century AD. The antiques excavated from the site relate to the period 5th to the 12th century and some from period little earlier. How is it that none related to the period 500 BC (though, I agree, that much has yet to be excavated)? Nalanda may have been a knowledge centre in the 5th century BC, but isn't it possible that the university site is completely different from the Nalanda of the 5th century BC? Many of the temples around the university site have been dated aound 100 BC to 150 AD.
Arindam, I was coming to that ... if we go with taranatha's statements we have to believe that Nalanda was a centre of learning as early as 2nd century A.D. but the earliest datable archaeological find is probably the forged copper-plate of Samudragupta and a coin of Kumaragupta.
The dichotomy can only be solved with further research....to refute Taranatha statement we also have Fa-Hien the chinese piligrim of early 5th cent, who does not mention the monastic establishments of nalanda...though he mentions Nalo, birth place of sariputra and of a stupa existing there.
To my knowledge, Nalanda means Giver of knowledge. It was the native place of Sariputt & Mahamogalayan, the two early disciples of Buddha who were Brahmins and did a lot to codify the teachings of Buddha. In their honor, this place of learning was started in the lifetime of Buddha itself. It was built and destroyed several times till Bakhtiar Khilji finally completely destroyed it in 1198. The 7 storey edifice by which Nalanda is known today is by some account Sariputt memorial.
There's no issue with copper plate and coin found. There is no denying that Nalanda existed earlier too. But were the university (so said to be 500 AD, let's say) and the 'learning centre' of 500 BC the same site? Couldn't the temples have been the 'learning centres' in the period prior to 500AD? And then with the growth of Buddhism an actual university came up around 400-500 AD...
It is very much possible but they are mere speculations in our part ....and we require datable evidences to prove that theory...
You seem unaware that Pali canon is a fraction of Buddhist text also if you are already prejudiced as expressed by your hate speech against those who offer a few different from the colonial whitewashing, there is no evidence which will change your mind.
The effort with which Amartya Sen is associated, is some what of a non starter. Combination of incompetence and politics.
Nalanda as a learning center existed before 5th century AD that much is clear. Wiki quotes Xuanzang thus Xuanzang also writes: "The lives of all these virtuous men were naturally governed by habits of the most solemn and strictest kind. Thus in the seven hundred years of the monastery's existence no man has ever contravened the rules of the discipline. The king showers it with the signs of his respect and veneration and has assigned the revenue from a hundred cities to pay for the maintenance of the religious."  Xyanzang was 602-664. So that takes the foundation of the university at least to 100 BCE. The question only is how much older. I will go with original dating of Siddarth Gautam in 15-16th century rather than later revisionist colonial fantasy.
In claiming that Nalanda of pre 5th century was not THE excavated structure but some other building in Nalnda region is saying "Macbhet was not written by Shakspeare but some one of the same name"
Good one Sumer!! :)
In any case http://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/caste-and-exclusion-in-sinhala-buddhism/ The Buddhavamsa, a Pali language scripture part of the Theravada or Hinayana tradition, indicates that Gautama, the Buddha was born into the Kshatriya caste. The future Buddha, Maitreya will be born into the Brahmana caste. The three Buddhas prior to Gautama were Kakusanda, Konagamana and Kassapa, all of whom belonged to the Brahmana caste. The Lalitavistara, a 3rd century Buddhist scripture, explicitly mentions that a Buddha can only be born a Brahmana or Kshatriya and can never come from any of the “lower castes”. There was little room for those of humble birth, low origin and without lineage to be a Buddha. Old Sinhala language religious documents such as the Pujavaliya, the Saddharmaratnavaliya, the Kadayimpoth, and the Niti Nighanduwa refer to an elaborately ordered caste hierarchy in Buddhist Sri Lanka. In the 2nd century BC, the famed Sinhala king Dutugemenu had a son by the name of Saliya. Saliya was exiled because he had married the outcaste girl Asokamala. In the 11th century AD, King Vijaybahu denied access to the lower Sinhala castes to venerate Buddha’s foot print at the summit of Sri Pada in central Sri Lanka. The lower castes were confined to a terrace much further down. King Nissanka Malla in the 12 century felt threatened by the dominant Sinhala caste, the Govigama. He warned them in stone inscriptions to never aspire to high office. Much later, the Siam Nikaya, the Buddhist Sangha in Sri Lanka, denied membership to those who were not of the Govigama caste. This forced the Karava, the Salagama and Durava castes to seek ordination in Myanmar. Many others converted to Christianity in protest. A quote from the Mahavibhasa, a 2nd century Buddhist text would be appropriate. It mentions ‘What the Aryans say is the truth, what others say is not true. And why is this? The Aryan ones understand things as they are. The common folk do not understand. Furthermore, they are called Aryan truths because they are possessed by those who are conceived in the womb of an Aryan woman’. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ In case you want to delve into original statements. "There are these four castes--kshatriyas, brahmins, vai.syas, and .sûdras. Of these four castes, two--the kshatriyas and the brahmins--are given precedence, to wit, in salutation, homage, obeisance, and due ministry." so far in recognizing the lesson taught by the facts of life, the Buddha clinches the matter with a favourite quotation:-- "Moreover, it was the Brahmâ Sana"m-kumâra who uttered this stanza-- The kshatriya is best among folk who heed lineage. He who knows and acts aright is best among gods and men. Now this stanza, Amba.t.tha, was well sung and not ill sung by the Brahmâ Sana"m-kumâra, well said and not ill said, sensible and not senseless. I, too, Amba.t.tha, join in saying that the kshatriya is best among folk who heed lineage," etc. http://www.sacred-texts.com/journals/jras/1894-14.htm So yes, Siddarth, and Buddhism often associated Kingship with Bodhistva
Thank u Satyakam and Mita,for sharing.
Check out Ashoka - The search of India's Lost Emperor. By Chatles Allen just out on Abacus India It's an eye opener to Indian history.
RBSI, we commentators may find "The life of Hiuen Tsiang"translated by Samuel Beal from the original biography by Huili interesting http://archive.org/details/ajf4729.0001.001.umich.edu
The ASI published - Nalanda Guide Book - by A. Ghosh , which you're quoting from, Mita, is also pretty interesting.
well most of it has been plagiarised from A Ghosh!! ....but then he is an authority...