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6 LESSON –20-08-2010- -20810 Free Online e-Nālandā University-Historical Background:Aims & objectives:WISDOM IS POWER-There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. -Buddha Quote
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6 LESSON 22810 Free Online e-Nālandā University

Awakened One Shows the Path to Attain Ultimate Bliss



Free Online e-Nālandā University

About us

landā University is the only University meant for imparting learning exclusively Online. The University is named after the famous landā University of Ancient Jambudvipa, i.e, PraBuddha Bharath. 

At present, the University is functioning from



Aims & objectives:


To Provide educational opportunities to those who are unable to take up formal education and are still desirous to upgrade their educational wisdom and acquire knowledge in various fields of learning through online education.

To provide flexibility in matters of eligibility for enrolment for higher education, age of entry, choice of course, methods of learning, conduct of examination and operation of programmes.

To make provision for research for advancement and dissimination of Wisdom.

To provide special facilities to groups like, elderly people, in-service personnel, housewives, people living in remote areas, socially disadvantaged people of the society and all others who wish to upgrade their skill and acquire higher academic wisdom through online education.

To lay emphasis on conventional courses, leading to award of wisdom

To create awareness for self-sufficiency and equip people with wisdom and higher wisdom to enable them to become suitable for the Awakened One’s path for attaining Ultimate Bliss.

To provide course for rural, agricultural, industrial and commercial needs of people and design learning material for improving socio-economic condition of the masses.

To bring awareness in women, children and down-trodden of their awaken-ness,social rights, duties and legal status in society.







Using such an instrument

The University has been re-organized to function through the following Schools of Learning :

Jambudvipa, i.e, PraBuddha Bharath scientific thought in







Historical Background:


Towards the Southeast of Patna, the Capital City of Bihar State in Ancient Jambudvipa, i.e, PraBuddha Bharath, is a village called the ‘Bada Gaon’, in the vicinity of which, are the world famous ruins of Nālandā University

Founded in the 5th Century A.D., N

ālandā is known as the ancient seat of learning. 2,000 Teachers and 10,000 Students from all over the Buddhist world lived and studied at Nālandā, the first Residential International University of the World. A walk in the ruins of the university, takes you to an era, that saw Jambudvipa, i.e, PraBuddha Bharath leading in imparting wisdom, to the world - the era when Jambudvipa, i.e, PraBuddha Bharath was a coveted place for studies. The University flourished during the 5th and 12th century. 

Although Nālandā is one of the places distinguished as having been blessed by the presence of the Buddha, it later became particularly renowned as the site of the great monastic university of the same name , which was to become the crown jewel of the development of Buddhism in Jambudvipa, i.e, PraBuddha Bharath. The name may derive from one of Shakyamuni’s former births , when he was a king whose capital was here. Nālandā was one of his epithets meaning “insatiable in giving.” 

This place saw the rise and fall of many empires and emperors who contributed in the development of Nālandā University. Many monasteries and temples were built by them. King Harshwardhana gifted a 25m high copper statue of Buddha and Kumargupta endowed a college of fine arts ere. Nagarjuna- a Mahayana philosopher, Dinnaga- founder of the school of Logic and Dhammpala- the scholar, taught here.

The famous Chinese traveler and scholar, Hieun-Tsang stayed here and has given a detailed description of the situations prevailing at that time. Careful excavation of the place has revealed many stupas, monasteries, hostels, stair cases, meditation halls, lecture halls and many other structures which speak of the splendour and grandeur this place enjoyed, when the place was a centre of serious study. 

A large number of ancient Buddhist establishments, stupas, chaityas, temples and monastery sites have been excavated and they show that this was one of the most important Buddhist centres of worship and culture.

Pali Buddhist Literature, too, has ample references to Nālandā, which used to be visited by Lord Buddha. During the days of Buddha, Nālandā was apparently a very prosperous temple city, a great place of pilgrimage and the site of a celebrated university. It is said that King Asoka gave offerings to the Chaitya of Sariputta at Nālandā and erected a temple there. Taranath mentions this and also that Nagarjuna, the famous Mahayana philosopher of the second century A.D., studied at. Nālandā Nagarjuna later became the high-priest there. 

The Gupta kings patronised these monasteries, built in old Kushan architectural style, in a row of cells around a courtyard. Ashoka and Harshavardhana were some of its most celebrated patrons who built temples and monasteries here. Recent excavations have unearthed elaborate structures here. Hiuen Tsang had left ecstatic accounts of both the ambiance and architecture of this unique university of ancient times. Modern historians have tentatively dated the founding of a monastery at Nālandā as being in the fifth century. However, this may not be accurate. For example, the standard biographies of the teacher Nagarjuna, believed by most historians to have been born around 150 AD, are quite specific about his having received ordination at Nālandā monastery when he was seven years old. Further, his teacher Rahulabhadra is said to have lived there for some time before that. We may infer that there was a monastery or monasteries at Nālandā long before the foundation of the later Great Mahavihara. 

At the time Hsuan Chwang stayed at Nālandā and studied with the abbot Shilabhadra, it was already a flourishing centre of learning. In many ways it seems to have been like a modern university. There was a rigorous oral entry examination conducted by erudite gatekeepers, and many students were turned away. To study or to have studied at Nālandā was a matter of great prestige. However, no degree was granted nor was a specific period of study required. The monks’ time, measured by a water clock, was divided between study and religious rites and practice. There were schools of study in  which students received explanations by discourse, and there were also schools of debate, where the mediocre were often humbled, and the conspicuously talented distinguished. Accordingly, the elected abbot was generally the most learned man of the time.

The libraries were vast and widely renowned, although there is a legend of a malicious fire in which many of the texts were destroyed and irrevocably lost. The complex was built with red bricks and its ruins occupy an area of 14 hectares. At its peak, the university attracted scholars and students from as far away as ChinaGreece, and PersiaNālandā was sacked by Turkic Muslim invaders under Bakhtiyar Khalji in 1193, a milestone in the decline of Buddhism in India. In 2006, SingaporeChinaIndiaJapan, and other nations, announced a proposed plan to restore and revive the ancient site as Nālandā International University. The great library of Nālandā University was so vast that it is reported to have burned for three months after the Moguls set fire to it, sacked and destroyed the monasteries, and drove the monks from the site.


During the Gupta age, the practice and study of the mahayana, especially the madhyamaka, flourished. However, from 750 AD, in the Pala age, there was an increase in the study and propagation of the tantric teachings. This is evidenced by the famous pandit Abhayakaragupta, a renowned tantric practitioner who was simultaneously abbot of the Mahabodhi, Nalanda and Vikramashila monasteries. Also Naropa, later so important to the tantric lineages of the Tibetan traditions, was abbot of Nālandā in the years 1049-57. 

Much of the tradition of Nalanda had been carried into Tibet by the time of the Muslim invasions of the twelfth century. While the monasteries of Odantapuri and Vikramashila were then destroyed, the buildings at Nālandā do not seem to have suffered extensive damage at that time, although most of the monks fled before the desecrating armies. In 1235 the Tibetan pilgrim Chag Lotsawa found a 90 year old teacher, Rahula Shribhadra, with a class of seventy students. Rahula Shribhadra managed to survive through the support of a local person and did not leave until he had completed educating his last Tibetan student.



Nalanda means “insatiable in giving.”

The Chinese pilgrim-monk Xuanzang gives several explanations of the name Nālandā. One is that it was named after the Nāga who lived in a tank in the middle of the mango grove. Another – the one he accepted – is that Shakyamuni Buddha once had his capital here and gave “alms without intermission”, hence the name.

Sariputta died at the village called ‘Nalaka,’ which is also identified as Nālandā by many scholars.


In the time of the Buddha (500 BCE)

The Buddha is mentioned as having several times stayed at. Nālandā When he visited Nālandā he would usually reside in Pāvārika’s mango grove, and while there he had discussions with Upāli-Gahapati and Dīghatapassī, with Kevatta, and also several conversations with Asibandhakaputta.

The Buddha visited Nālandā during his last tour through Magadha, and it was there that Sariputta uttered his “lion’s roar,” affirming his faith in the Buddha, shortly before his death. The road from Rājagaha to Nālandā passed through Ambalatthikā

from Nālandā it went on to Pātaligāma. Between Rājagaha and Nālandā was situated the Bahuputta cetiya.

According to the Kevatta Sutta,  in the Buddha’s time Nālandā was already an influential and prosperous town, thickly populated, though it was not until later that it became the centre of learning for which it afterwards became famous. There is a record in the Samyutta Nikaya,[14] of the town having been the victim of a severe famine during the Buddha’s time. Sāriputta, the right hand disciple of the Buddha, was born and died in Nālandā.

Nālandā was the residence of Sonnadinnā. 

King Asoka (250 BC) is said to have built a stupa in the memory of Sariputta. According to Tibetan sources, Nagarjuna taught there.

Founding of the university and the Gupta heyday

Historical studies indicate that the University of Nālandā was established during the reign of the Gupta emperor Kumaragupta. Both Xuangzang and Prajñavarman cite him as the founder, as does a seal discovered at the site.

As historian Sukumar Dutt describes it, the history of Nālandā university “falls into two main divisions–first, one of growth, development and fruition from the sixth century to the ninth, when it was dominated by the liberal cultural traditions inherited from the Gutpa age; the second, one of gradual decline and final dissolution from the ninth century to the thirteen–a period when the tantric developments of Buddhism became most pronounced in eastern India.”

Founding of the university and the Gupta heyday

Historical studies indicate that the University of Nālandā was established during the reign of the Gupta emperor Kumaragupta. Both Xuangzang and Prajñavarman cite him as the founder, as does a seal discovered at the site.

As historian Sukumar Dutt describes it, the history of Nālandā university “falls into two main divisions–first, one of growth, development and fruition from the sixth century to the ninth, when it was dominated by the liberal cultural traditions inherited from the Gutpa age; the second, one of gradual decline and final dissolution from the ninth century to the thirteen–a period when the tantric developments of Buddhism became most pronounced in eastern India.”

In the Pāla era

A number of monasteries grew up during the Pāla period in ancient Bengal and Magadha. According to Tibetan sources, five great Mahaviharas stood out: Vikramashila, the premier university of the era; Nalanda, past its prime but still illustrious, Somapura, Odantapurā, and Jaggadala. The five monasteries formed a network; “all of them were under state supervision” and there existed “a system of co-ordination among them . . it seems from the evidence that the different seats of Buddhist learning that functioned in eastern India under the Pāla were regarded together as forming a network, an interlinked group of institutions,” and it was common for great scholars to move easily from position to position among them.

During the Pālā period the Nālānda was less singularly outstanding, as other Pāla establishments “must have drawn away a number of learned monks from Nālānda when all of them . . came under the aegis of the Pālās.”

Decline and end

In 1193, the Nālandā University was sacked by an Islamic fanatic 

Bakhtiyar Khilji, a Turk;  this event is seen by scholars as a late milestone in the decline of Buddhism in India. The Persian historian Minhaj-i-Siraj, in his chronicle the Tabaquat-I-Nasiri, reported that thousands of monks were burned alive and thousands beheaded as Khilji tried his best to uproot Buddhism and plant Islam by the sword; the burning of the library continued for several months and “smoke from the burning manuscripts hung for days like a dark pall over the low hills.”

The last throne-holder of, Nālandā Shakyashribhadra, fled to Tibet in 1204 CE at the invitation of the Tibetan translator Tropu Lotsawa (Khro-phu Lo-tsa-ba Byams-pa dpal). In Tibet he started an ordination lineage of the Mulasarvastivadin lineage to complement the two existing ones.

When the Tibetan translator Chag Lotsawa (Chag Lo-tsa-ba, 1197–1264) visited the site in 1235, he found it damaged and looted, with a 90-year-old teacher, Rahula Shribhadra, instructing a class of about 70 students. During Chag Lotsawa’s time there an incursion by Turkish soldiers caused the remaining students to flee.

Ahir considers the destruction of the temples, monasteries, centers of learning at  Nālandā and northern India to be responsible for the demise of ancient Indian scientific thought in mathematics, astronomy, alchemy, and anatomy.[25]

Destruction of the University

Historians agree the University was attacked during the invasion of Bakhtiyar Khilji, however it was still functioning as reported by the Tibetian Translator Chag Lotsawa who visited the University,years after this invasion. He has described the functioning of the University in his travel memoirs. The intense power struggle between Buddhists and the Brahmanisms of that time has cited by numerous historians to have contributed to the destruction of the University in later years, well after the invasion of Bakhtiyar Khilji. According to Historian Prakash Buddh, the Yajna a fire sacrifice performed by Hindus resulted in a great conflagration which consumed Ratnabodhi, the nine-storeyed library of the Nalanda University. In his Social history of India, the historian Sadasivan says The enormous manuscript library of the University was set of fire by Trithikas (sect of Brahmins) with the support of Jainas due to the mounting jealousy they nurtured against the great center of learning. Despite all this, Nalanda was functioning up until 1400 CE and Chagalaraja of Bengal is said to be the last king who patronized this University.


Nālandā was one of the world’s first residential universities, i.e., it had dormitories for students. It is also one of the most famous universities. In its heyday it accommodated over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. The university was considered an architectural masterpiece, and was marked by a lofty wall and one gate. Nālandā had eight separate compounds and ten temples, along with many other meditation halls and classrooms. On the grounds were lakes and parks. The library was located in a nine storied building where meticulous copies of texts were produced. The subjects taught at Nālandā University covered every field of learning, and it attracted pupils and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey.

The Tang Dynasty Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang left detailed accounts of the university in the 7th century. Xuanzang described how the regularly laid-out towers, forest of pavilions, harmikas and temples seemed to “soar above the mists in the sky” so that from

their cells the monks “might witness the birth of the winds and clouds.” Xuanzang states: “An azure pool winds around the monasteries, adorned with the full-blown cups of the blue lotus; the dazzling red flowers of the lovely kanaka hang here and there, and outside groves of mango trees offer the inhabitants their dense and protective shade.” 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.”

The entrance of many of the viharas in Nālandā University ruins can be seen with a bow marked floor; bow was the royal sign of Guptas’.


The library of Nālandā, known as Dhamma Gunj (Mountain of Truth) or Dhammagañja (Treasury of Truth), was the most renowned repository of Buddhist knowledge in the world at the time. Its collection was said to comprise hundreds of thousands of volumes, so extensive that it burned for months when set aflame by Muslim invaders. The library had three main buildings as high as nine stories tall, Ratnasagara (Sea of Jewels), Ratnodadhi (Ocean of Jewels), and Ratnarañjaka (Delighter of Jewels).


According to an unattributed article of the Dharma Fellowship (2005), the curriculum of Nālandā University at the time of Mañjuśrīmitra contained:

…virtually the entire range of world knowledge then available. Courses were drawn from every field of learning, Buddhist and Hindu, sacred and secular, foreign and native. Students studied science, astronomy, medicine, and logic as diligently as they applied themselves to metaphysics, philosophy, Samkhya, Yoga-shastra, the Veda, and the scriptures of Buddhism. They studied foreign philosophy likewise.

Berzin (2002) outlines the “four systems of Buddhist tenets” or “four doxographies” (Tibetan: grub-mtha’) taught at N, the Vaibhashika (Tibetan: bye-brag smra-ba) and Sautrantika(Tibetan: mdo-sde-pa) of Nālandā the Sarvastivada (Tibetan: thams-

cad yod-par smra-ba); and the Chittamatra (Sanskrit: sems-tsam-pa) and Madhyamaka (Tibetan: dbu-ma-pa) of the Mahayana:

In the Indian Mahayana Buddhist monasteries, such as Nālandā, monks studied four systems of Buddhist tenets. Two – Vaibhashika and Sautrantika – were subdivisions of the Sarvastivada school within Hinayana. The other two – Chittamatra and Madhyamaka – were subdivisions within Mahayana.

Influence on Buddhism

A vast amount of what came to comprise 

Tibetan Buddhism, both its sutric Mahayana traditions and its Vajrayana traditions, stems from the late (9th–12th century) Nalanda teachers and traditions. The scholar Dharmakirti (ca. 7th century), one of the Buddhist founders of Indian philosophical logic, as well as and one of the primary theorists of Buddhist atomism, taught at Nalanda.

Other forms of Buddhism, like the Mahayana followed in Vietnam, China, Korea and Japan, found their genesis within the walls of the ancient university.

According to Hwui-Li, a Chinese visitor, Nālandā was held in contempt by some 

Theravadins for its emphasis on Mahayana philosophy. They reportedly chided King Harshavardhana for patronizing Nālandā during one of his visits to Orissa, mocking the “sky-flower” philosophy taught there and suggesting that he might as well patronize a Kapalika temple.


A number of ruined structures survive. Nearby is the Surya Mandir, a Hindu temple. The known and excavated ruins extend over an area of about 150,000 square metres, although if Xuanzang’s account of Nālandā ’s extent is correlated with present excavations, almost 90% of it remains unexcavated. Nālandā is no longer inhabited. Today the nearest habitation is a village called Bargaon.

In 1951, a modern centre for 

Pali (Theravadin) Buddhist studies was founded nearby by Bhikshu Jagdish Kashyap, the Nava Nālandā Mahavihara. Presently, this institute is pursuing an ambitious program of satellite imaging of the entire region.

The Nālandā  Museum contains a number of manuscripts, and shows many examples of the items that have been excavated. India’s first Multimedia Museum was opened on 26 January 2008, which recreates the history of Nālandā using a 3D animation film narrated by Shekhar Suman. Besides this there are four more sections in the Multimedia Museum: Geographical Perspective, Historical Perspective, Hall of Nālandā and Revival of Nālandā.

Plans for revival

Main article: Nālandā  International University

§  On 9 December 2006, the New York Times detailed a plan in the works to spend $1 billion to revive Nālandā University near the ancient site. A consortium led by Singapore and including China, India, Japan and other nations will attempt to raise $500 million to build a new university and another $500 million to develop necessary infrastructure.

On 28 May 2007, Merinews reported that the revived university’s enrollment will be 1,137 in its first year, and 4,530 by the fifth

§  In the ’second phase’, enrolment will reach 5,812.

§  On 12 June 2007, News Post India reported that the Japanese diplomat Noro Motoyasu said that “Japan will fund the setting up an international university in Nālandā in Bihar”. The report goes on to say that “The proposed university will be fully residential, like the ancient seat of learning at Nālandā. In the first phase of the project, seven schools with 46 foreign faculty members and over 400 Indian academics would come up.” … “The university will impart courses in science, philosophy and spiritualism along with other subjects. A renowned international scholar will be its chancellor.

§  On 15 August 2007, The Times of India reported that Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has accepted the offer to join the revived Nālandā  International University sometime in September 2007.”

§  NDTV reported on 5 May 2008 that, according to Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, the foundation of University would likely be in the year 2009 and the first teaching class could begin in a few years from then. Sen, who heads the Nālandā Mentor Group, said the final report in this regard, is expected to be presented to the East Asia Summit in December 2008.

§  On 11 May 2008, The Times of India reported that host nation India and a consortium of East Asian countries met in New York to further discuss Nālandā plans. It was decided that Nālandā would largely be a post-graduate research university, with the following schools: School of Buddhist studies, philosophy, and comparative religion; School of historical studies; School of International Relations and Peace; School of Business Management and Development; School of Languages and Literature; and, School of Ecology and Environmental Studies. The objective of the school was claimed to be “aimed at advancing the concept of an Asian community…and rediscovering old relationships.”

 Nalanda layout 1b.JPG

The seal of Nalanda University set in terracotta on display in the ASI Museum in Nalanda

Wide view of the other (back) side of Sariputta’s Stupa.

As they stood, before the Nalanda University was excavated.

The Sariputta Stupa

Back side view of Sariputta Stupa

Front view of Sariputta Stupa

Nalanda Heritage

Nalanda University

Nalanda StupaNalanda monastary sitesNalanda








Approaching the ruins

Monastery #4

View from the upper floor

Many of the 108 monasteries that once existed here have two or more floors, with 30 or 40 rooms per floor. Only 11 monasteries have been excavated so far. Many of the rest are thought to lie buried under the surrounding villages.

Steps and passages (more)





Well inside monastery #4

Each monastery had a well, often with an octagonal cross-section.

Monastery #4 entrance (more)

Monks’ rooms

Shrine across Monastery #4

Across each monastery was a chaitya, or temple, with an image of the Buddha.

A monk’s room from above

Passageway (more)

The local guides say that this is where the visiting scholar Hiuen Tsang meditated, in a dark corner at the end of this corridor (the end where the photographer stands).

Wood fired ovens

These ovens apparently served multiple needs -- cooking ovens, smelting copper, and other laboratory work.

Bathroom with drains

Not a toilet but a bathing / washing place. Well-designed open drains are a common sight in these monasteries.











Catwalk between
Monasteries #1 and #4

Adjacent monasteries were connected by these catwalk like constructions. A narrow corridor between monasteries (this one used as the main entrance to the ruins) is typical.

One monk per room,
up to 40 rooms per floor

View of Temple #3 from
Monastery #1

Monastery #1 courtyard
and grain storage (left)

Temple #12 (more)

Temple #12 steps etc.

Brickwork sample

View from temple #12

Monastery #8 (more)

Monastery #9

Octagonal well

Podium in Monastery #9

Each monastery had one. It housed a Buddha image and/or was used as a lectern by the teachers.

Former monks’ quarters

University corridor (1, 2)

Area near Monastery #4

Temple #13






















Temple #2  

Stone base, brick top

Musician woman

Amorous couple


Amorous couple

Amorous couple

Warrior with sword

Half-human musician

Path leading to the ruins

Bodhi trees in the park

With the ruins of Nalanda directly behind

ASI museum at Nalanda

Nalanda Overview





















Nalanda University Ancient Ruins, Bihar . . .
Nalanda University Ancient Ruins, Bihar

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