Nalanda Mahavihara – One of The Greatest Universities of Ancient World Founded in 413 A.D.

Nalanda Mahavihara, Bihar, India

Upon arrival at Nalanda Mahavihara we were greeted by R. B. Prasad – The guide. An old man having immense knowledge about Nalanda and its history. He enhanced our knowledge as follows:

– This place was visited by Lord Buddha 2500 years ago. Lord Buddha first sermon was at Sarnath nearby Varanasi. Second at Gridhakuta mountain in Rajgir and third at Nalanda. After 1000 years of Lord Buddha Nalanda University was established by Samrat Kumaragupta in 413 A.D.

– This is an educational location. Chinese traveler Xuanzang visited Nalanda in the 7th Century A.D. and did 15 years of learning. He said: Nalanda had been the center of Buddhist art, culture, and civilization.

– According to Xuanzang there were three Universities in those times:
1. Takshila (now in Pakistan) 2. Nalanda and 3. Vikramshila in Bhagalpur.

– At Nalanda total number of students was 10,000 and the number of teachers was 1,500. They came from different countries for higher studies such as Tibet, China, Japan, Thailand, Korea, Sri Lanka, Mangolia, and Indonesia.

– There were four entrance gates – North, South, East, and West.

– Interviews were taken before admission at the entrance gate. Example: what was the name of this country during Buddha period.

– Out of 100 students only 10 were qualified to enter University.

– Once admitted to Nalanda University the study period was of 12 years.

– Total of 108 subjects were taught at Nalanda. Provisional names – Itihaas, Pali, Sanskrit, Geography, Engineering, Medical, Tantra, Yoga etc.

– Nagarjuna was the first Vice-Chancellor of Nalanda University. He came from Nagarjunakonda, Andhra Pradesh. He was a great philosopher of Mahayana.

– Aryaveda, Vashubandhu, Dharampala, Suvishnu, Dharamkirti, Sheelbhadra, Atish Deepankar, Guru Padmasambhava were few more great scholars who visited Nalanda.

– Nalanda was destroyed and burnt in 1200 A.D. by Bhaktiyar Khilji. 400 it was made and 1200 it turned into ruins and ashes. Bhaktiyar Khilji burnt all three libraries. The library was in flame for 6 months.

– Nalanda was earlier known as Kundalpur. Kundalpur was the Jain spot. Lord Mahaveer was born in Kundalpur.

– During Buddha period India was known as Jumbu Dweep.

– Hemington Buchanan – a Britisher first notice this place. The actual excavation was between 1915 – 1940. Only one km is excavated to date but it is said that 90% is still to be excavated.

– Buddhaghosa – a famous scholar said: There were 52 lotus lakes in Nalanda. Lotus is known as Nalam in pali language and Lake as Da that is why the area is known as Nalanda. Second scholar Huensang wrote – Lord Buddha disciple Sariputra village name was Nalo that is why Nalam and later known as Nalanda.

– Nalanda was a multi-storeyed building made of Chuna, Surkhi, Bel ka Gudda, Chana ka Besan, Urad Dal ka Besan aur Gond all mixed together into cement bricks.

– Only 1,000 rooms are excavated to date though there are 10,000 rooms. One room for one student was the concept.

– Temple inside the University was built by King Ashoka. Dalai Lama visited and offer candles.

– There are also students’ graves who died during their studies at Nalanda University.

Fantastic information. Thanks to R. B. Prasad. He showed us the entrance of a secret locations for meditation for four people, temples, multi-story buildings, lecture halls, conference halls, students rooms, community cooking hall, toilets etc while sharing knowledge about them. We also discuss about the song picturization at Nalanda between Dev Anand and Hema Malini from the movie ‘Johny Mera Naam’ during the early 70s. It was a fruitful tour. Knowledge enhanced. Donations.