This ancient University was the first residential international university of the world, 2,000 teachers and 10,000 monks students from all over the Buddhist world lived and studied here. Nalanda is a place to understand the cultural richness of India during 5th century AD. And the Significance of Buddhism in India's History
Nalanda flourished under the patronage of the Gupta Empire as well as emperors like Harsha and later, the rulers of the Pala Empire. At its peak, the school attracted scholars and students from as far away as Tibet, China, Korea, and Central Asia. It was very likely ransacked and destroyed by an army of the Muslim Mamluk Dynasty under Bakhtiyar Khilji in c. 1200 CE.
Today there is a Renaissance happening at Nalanda as people once again all over the word think back and acknowledge the high Degree of scholarship and study that took place there over 1000 years ago
As historian Sukumar Dutt describes it, the history of the Nalanda Mahavihara "falls into two main divisions—the 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 Gupta age; the second, one of gradual decline and final dissolution from the ninth century to the thirteenth—a period during which the Tāntric developments of Buddhism became most pronounced in eastern India under the Pālas …
Xuanzang (also known as Hiuen Tsang) travelled around India between the years of 630 and 643 and visited Nalanda first in 637 and then again in 642, spending a total of around two years at the monastery.:237 He was warmly received in Nalanda where he received the Indian name of Mokshadeva:8 and studied under the guidance of Shilabhadra, the venerable head of the institution at the time.:111 He believed that in Shilabhadra he had at last found an incomparable teacher to instruct him in Yogachara, a school of thought that had then only partially been transmitted to China, and the reason why Xuanzang had made the arduous overland journey to India in the first place. Besides Buddhist studies, the monk also attended courses in grammar, logic, and Sanskrit, and later, also lectured at the Mahavihara.
Taranatha, the 17th-century Tibetan Lama, states that the 3rd-century BCE Mauryan and Buddhist emperor, Ashoka, built a great temple at Nalanda at the site of Shariputra's chaitya. He also places 3rd-century CE luminaries such as the Mahayana philosopher, Nagarjuna, and his disciple, Aryadeva, at Nalanda with the former also heading the institution. Taranatha also mentions a contemporary of Nagarjuna named Suvishnu building 108 temples at the location. While this could imply that there was a flourishing centre for Buddhism at Nalanda before the 3rd century, no archaeological evidence has been unearthed to support the assertion. When Faxian, an early Chinese Buddhist pilgrim to India, visited Nalo, the site of Shariputra's parinirvana, at the turn of the 5th century CE, all he found worth mentioning was a stupa
The Palas established themselves in North-eastern India in the 8th century and reigned until the 12th century. Although they were a Buddhist dynasty, Buddhism in their time was a mixture of the Mahayana practised in Nalanda and Vajrayana, a Tantra-influenced version of Mahayanist philosophy. Nalanda was a cultural legacy from the great age of the Guptas and it was prized and cherished. The Palas were prolific builders and their rule oversaw the establishment of four other Mahaviharas modelled on the Nalanda Mahavihara at Jagaddala, Odantapura, Somapura, and Vikramashila respectively. Remarkably, Odantapura was founded by Gopala, the progenitor of the royal line, only 6 miles (9.7 km) away from Nalanda
Join us at Golden Turtle Travel for a Tour around both Nalanda and Rajgriha. Leaving early in the morning from Bodhgaya