Thursday, 23 June 2011

Nalanda, Bihar

Nalanda was a great Buddhist centre and a center of learning. Today, Nalanda is a part of the Budhist circuit, i.e. all the destinations that were associated with the life of Lord Buddha.

The University of Nalanda, established during Gupta Period, was a center of international repute and a residential university more than ten thousand students. Students from various parts of the world come to Nalanda to study Buddhism, Vedas, Logic, Grammar, Medicine, Meta-Physics, Prose Composition and Rhetoric. Students from China, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Java, and Sumatra would come and study here at the University of Nalanda. The university was involved mainly in research and deep study of intrinsic truth. 

The library of the university had a huge collection of literature and books, which according to some scriptures numbered 9 million volumes. The remnants of the university are scattered in an area of some 14 hectares even now. The fact itself shows that the university was flourishing in a large area and catered the need of a huge section of the students. 

Chinese traveler Hsuan Tsang, who came here as faculty lived for some twelve years and taught at the university, describes the versatility of the university. Though a large part of the university has been explored, a huge portion remains unexcavated. It is believed that the Nalanda University could accommodate 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers easily. The famous Chinese traveler describes that the university had such a wonderful scholars that each was outshining another. 

Later on a monument was built at the place in 12th century AD. Later, invaders destroyed the whole university and burnt the entire campus including the manuscripts. The whole knowledge was in this way was destroyed by the Turkish invader Bakhtiar Khilji. Some of the rare collections are left and can be found in the museum. 

Indian government has tried its best to restore the ancient glory of the place, and in this effort in the year 1951 an international center for Buddhist studies was founded. The centre is also accompanied by another modern institution located at the same place- the Nava Nalanda Mahavir Research. The institute houses some of the rare manuscripts. 

Places to See:

The memorial was built in the memory of Hieun-Tsang, the famous Chinese traveler and scholar. Hieun Tsang came to India in fifth century AD and studied at the famous university of Nalanda. He stayed at the place for twelve years and wrote in great length about the people and society of contemporary India. Historians consider his writing authentic and relevant and his writings form a great source of information on ancient India.

Nalanda University, once great center of higher learning, is now in ruins. The ruins of Nalanda University take you to the glorious past. The ruins of the university are spread in 14 hectares. Chinese traveler Hieun Tsang writes that the university had more than ten thousand students and more than one thousand faculty members. Students from Java, Sumatra, Sri Lanka, and other near by countries would come to study at the Nalanda University. Buddhism, spirituality, Vedas, and other life sciences were the subjects taught here.

Nav Nalanda Vihar
In the year 1951 Indian government decided to reestablish the past glory of Nalanda and in this effort it decided to institute a center of higher learning. The center aims to study Buddhism and its essence in modern times. Near the place is another institute which aims to research the ancient language Pali, which is now out of tongue in India


Kundalpur is located at the distance of 1.6 kilometers from the remnants of the Nalanda University. The place is an important destination for Jains, particularly for the Digambar sect of the Jains. Digambar Jain followers believe that the 24th and the last Tirthankar, Lord Mahavira was born here. Being linked to Mahavir’s birth place, people built many temples at the place which are major tourist attractions here.

Surya Mandir
Surya Mandir houses numerous statues of Hindu gods and goddesses. Located adjacent to ruins of the University of Nalanda, the temple has Buddha’s statues other than the statues Hindu deities. The temple is primarily dedicated to Sun God which reminds us of Greek god ‘Apollo.’

Any society which has a glorious history wants to save the same in various methods, and one of them is to preserve all those historical materials in a museum. The museum meant to preserve the golden past of Nalanda was instituted in the year 1971. The museum has a huge collection of ancient manuscripts and Buddhist statues. Archeologists found these manuscripts during excavation of the sites at Nalanda. 


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