Posted on: 24 February 2017

From World’s Education Capital to Depths of Illiteracy – Part III
By Sahana Singh

This final article in our series describes the destruction of key universities and the era of darkness, which descended after aeons of learning. Even as the broken pieces were being put together again, the country came under the damaging educational policies of the British rule from which it has never recovered.

Imagine a group of horsemen riding into the campus of a world-famous university, mowing down students and professors until their bodies lie scattered everywhere. Imagine the same scene repeated at other universities, one after the other. And imagine all this in a time when there were no computers, no digital storage devices and no clouds to save the knowledge accumulated over generations. Mindless violence unleashed on the foremost universities of the time – Nalanda, Vikramshila and Odantapuri by Mohammad Bakhtyar Khilji and his men sent shock waves through Indic lands in the 13th century. The sacredness associated with institutions and persons of learning was violated in a manner never seen in India before.

The attack was chronicled by Minhaj-i-Siraj, principal historian of the Delhi Sultans in Tabaqat-i-Nasiri, who described the slaughter of thousands of “Brahmins” with shaven heads.

“There were a great number of books there; and, when all these books came under the observation of the Musalmans, they summoned a number of Hindus that they might give them information respecting the import of those books; but the whole of the Hindus had been killed.” (A.S.Altekar, 1944)

It is ironic that Bakhtyar Khilji hailed from a tribe in what is known as Afghanistan today, which practised Buddhism for centuries before being overrun by Ghaznavids and converting to Islam. In subsequent years, as Muslim rule spread and consolidated in different parts of India, many more universities were destroyed, such as Jagaddala, Somapura, Valabhi, Kashmir and others. As the news spread, scholars abandoned their colleges even before the Muslim invaders appeared. In Banaras, one of India’s ancient centres of education, when several hundreds of temples were destroyed by Qutubuddin Aibak in the 12th century, many learned Brahmins who taught there fled to southern India along with their families (A.S.Altekar, 1944). Some of the scholars who escaped from Vikramshila and other universities, such as Sakya Sribhadra and Vibhutichandra made their way to Tibet, another hub of higher learning (Mookerjee, 1960). Records maintained by Buddhist monks at Tibet give accounts of the destruction of Indian universities. Translations of Sanskrit texts preserved in Tibet help to give some idea of the books that were found in the libraries of the great Indian universities (Sharma R. N., 2012).

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Picture captioned “The end of Buddhist Monks, A.D. 1193” in Hutchinson’s Story of the Nations (Pg 169) shows Bakhtyar Khilji trying to make sense of the manuscripts that fell into his hands. - Wikimedia Commons.

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One thing I have never understood is how could Bakhtiyar Khilji and his small band of horsemen capture entire Bengal? What was the local Hindu army doing? Could they not protect the Universities? How is it that small group of people from Khilji tribe of Afghanistan can penetrate deep into Bengal without resistance? They did not even know the local terrain!!!

It's not all black and white as it seems Ghaznavids had large number of Hindus in their armies The core of the Ghaznavid army was the slave force (ghilman). The slave army of Ghaznavids consisted of Indians/Hindus, Turks and some Tajiks. The Indians/Hindus in the army resembled the Turks in their lack of home ties , lack of local connections. The Indians/Hindus had their own commander, the "Sipahsalar-i-Hinduyan" , and had their own quarters in Ghazni. Religion was not bar to their employment , and the anonymous historian of Sistan (in Tarikh-i-Sistan) complains bitterly of the slaughter and violence to the Muslims and Christians of Zarang in 1003 AD by Mahmud's pagan Indian troops. The Turks predominated in the slave army but Hindu soldiers formed a counterweight to the Turk soldiers. When the Turkish commander of the army in India, Ahmad Inaltegin , proved rebellious , Sultan Masud have this important post to a Hindu ghulam , one Tilak , formerly an official translator in the administration. The Indian campaigns of Ghaznavids provided constant supply of the Indian ghulams. In one of the campaign, 53,000 captives were carried off from Qannauj , and those slaves could be bought for two to ten dirhams in Ghazni. Hindu soldiers were generally more reliable and loyal than Turks. When the brief reign of Muhammad bin Mahmud Ghaznavi was collapsing and many if his troops were defecting to his elder brother Masud, it was Muhammad's Hindu soldiers under their commander Suvendhray who remained loyal. Reference: "Ghaznaved military organization" by C.E.Bosworth (The plate is from Jami‛ al-Tawarikh with caption "Mahmud of Ghazni crossing the Ganges"

This is history of invaders or colonizers but what is happening in Indian universities today. Degenration of intellect,scholarship and faculty.

All the best knowledge of India 🇮🇳 were destroyed! We know so little about our own history! Maybe Harappa language was decoded then! Sad.....ignorance still prevails!

We suffered due to Hindu rulers of that time .....who has divided Hindu communities into casts ,and become protector without having capabilities of protector

All rulers ruled our country still rules and we know very well our history gujrat riots etc bla bla if someone says Hindu Muslims i feel ashamed because my wife is Hindu and I am a Muslim ohhhh God when will be a complete civilised. Sorry for my worst English

Indian civilization was brutally destroyed by Muslims and systematically by Britishers. Still these so called secular Historians of India are not ready to accept it

Hampi was the glorious capital of the Vijayanagara Empire from 1343 to 1565, when it was besieged by the Deccan Sultanates'... Hampi was chosen because of its rich heritage, culture and treasures that outshone the other Sultanate's...It was savagely ransacked and left in ruins..It's time we rebuild our glorious centers of world civilization..I have spent months appreciating the works of great times..Time we rise and restore our relics..Only People can do it and not Tolerant Ape's of Pappu's West..Certainly not Communists... ‎

Truth is; those illiterate idiots have not learnt till now. Only thing they have is Money, no wisdom in their heads. Its empty.

We believe in someone coming to save us. It's good and true to have good friends. Most important fact we forget to save ourselves. We have not learnt over our entire history and civilisation. Rule and influence of external powers will always be the key to our society, unless we wake up

Rule number one and the only rule: Always be prepared to win wars. After winning decimate the enemy and convert the remaining so that in future they are forced to follow a peaceful path.

"If it is in the Quran then this book is redundant, so burn it; if it is not in the Quran this book is blasphemy, so burn it" - these were the famous words uttered before burning down the entire library of Alexandria. And nothing has changed, except the price of oil, which is why such "politeness" is being displayed.

Dear All History as we know is what is shown to us by the historians.. Not everything written by the historians is true. Most of the history is distorted by Historians due to many reasons. we should apply common sense and review the situation. They say thousands of temples and lakhs of hindus were killed. Muslims ruled India for 900 years. if they wanted there would have not spared a single temple.. The battles fought then were political wars.. before muslims there were hindu Kingdoms Rajputs, Cholas, guptas, mauryas, kadambas,hoysalals and hundreds pandavas kauravas.. when they fought hindus killed hindus.. and hindus blood was spilled. And the winning kindoms destroyed the building's and places of worship of the loosing kindoms. . Ashoka was called Chand Ashoka because he killed thousands in battles after that he converted to Buddhism. You can see the army of shivaji had Muslim commanders who died for Shivaji and Muslim armies had hindu commanders who died for muslims. . these are facts you can research. . Not all that is written by historians is true.. Dear friends Muslims ruled for 900 years and contriuted in ART, ARCHITECTURE, LITERATURE, REVENUE SYSTEM, LAND REFORMS, MILITARY AND ROCKET TECHNOLOGY. . and many more. . AND still Hindus and Muslims are living peacefully. . some Communal elements and politicians for their selfish gains hsve distorted history and put seeds of hatred between muslims and hindus. . lets get together and fight these communal elements and bring peace and serenity in our country. . LONG LIVE INDIA AND LONG LEAVE INDIANS

Itihaasa means definitely it was carried out like this. Whether agree or not.. Whether it is suitable for present situation or not one should know the fact. From true facts itself we can build our future.

this is a myopic view of history that suffers from selective memory...unfortunately, the biggest' collaborators' of the invaders were the very same 'twice-born' folks :and the so-called 'dubashis ' ...the invader and the collaborator have together trampled on the once vibrant matriarchal societies of India..

Same situation for Muslims now all over the world. Muslim Ulemas are failing to preach true Islam. We have the same situation from the caucauses to Middle east Africa. Now US next India. The cycle goes on and on. Humanity wins in the end.

All please do not forget. There were no boundaries back then. The village one was born in was the homeland. Rest was foreign lands. To attack and war was the main occupation other than farming. This happened evrwere around the world. Its just that we had a lot to lose because we were the superpower then as we had universities and other civilisations were still loving in caves nd painting on walls.

As another example in current day let's say some talented finance analyst succeeded in figuring out how to eradicate money laundering but he did that at WTC and was killed before informing anyone about it.

Further the huge stock of books in three libraries of Nalanda were all burnt to ashes and it took more than 50 days to complete the crime. A dark fog of smoke hung over the nearby hill for about one month.

Dear friends,a sincere request to all of you. Just now saw few children in the make-up of various Gods begging( as trained by their agents) to the devotees who are visiting the places of worship. This is very painful and pathetic. The scriptures say that if you pray in the night of. MAhashivratri, your wishes are fulfilled. I have decided to pray to Lord shiva for the wellbeing of such children. Hope you will also do the same and join the whole humanity in this Yagnya! 🙏🏻

This is a result of lack of unity in us. Muslims invaders ruined of our education system our richness and worst our culture. Had our forefathers remained united we would have rich. Rich by wealth,power ,culture and education system.

Feel sad as we go more and more deep in historical's that we showed no unity,no strength and our blood did not boil seeing injustice and cruelty.

Why do conquering nations,through their thugs,first burn down those incredible places of learning!plunder antiquities, mindless,still happens

I cry my heart breaks at the murder of innocent people and lost knowledge. What was it they feared so much that drove them to such evil?

Destroying all university's all over india by Khilji in 13 Th century is difficult to digest.

Very sad when knowlegment is destroyed because through books we can know people history.Education means democracy ,freedom and progress. If people don't these 3 pillara,they have nothing. Thanks Shivamil Tiwari to share this very interesting piece of your history.!

Only huge migration due to holocaust happened in Goa! Do you know anywhere else in India?