Thursday, January 15, 2015

Nalanda University, Bihar

As a follow up to my previous blog, my visit to Nalanda monastery made me interested and curious about the original Nalanda university in India. So here is something that I found out -

Nalanda was a large Buddhist monastery in ancient Magadha (modern day Bihar), India. Located about 95 km southeast of Patna – centre of learning from the fifth century CE to c 1200 CW and was at its high of glory during the Gupta era.
Covering an area of around 12 hectares the residential school, constructed mostly in red bricks, during its heyday it claimed to have accommodated 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. There were eight separate compounds and ten temples, along with many other meditation hall and classrooms. Lakes and parks created a sense of peace and tranquility.
The library was an immense complex separated into three large buildings. The largest building known as the Ratnadadhi (Ocean of Gems) was nine stories high and housed most of the sacred manuscripts. Though the exact number of volumes of the library is not known, it is estimated to have been in the hundreds of thousands. The library had not only religious manuscripts but also had texts on such subjects as grammar, logic, literature, astrology, astronomy and medicine and attracted pupils and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey.
It is believed that the library burned for three months after invaders set fire to it, ransacked and destroyed the monasteries and drove the monks from the side.

Now around 800 years after it was razed to the ground, the University reopened its doors with the first academic session starting on September 2014 with 15 students, five of whom were women, in temporary facilities in nearby Rajgir. The modern complex is expected to be finished by 2020 and will have seven schools for postgraduate and doctorate students.

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