नालन्दा महाविहार

( Nalanda mahavihara )

Nalanda (IAST: Nālandā, pronounced [naːlən̪d̪aː]) was a renowned Buddhist mahavihara (great monastery) in ancient Magadha (modern-day Bihar), eastern India. Nalanda is considered to be among the greatest centers of learning in the ancient world. It was located near the city of Rajagriha (now Rajgir) and about 90 kilometres (56 mi) southeast of Pataliputra (now Patna). Operating from 427 until 1197 CE, Nalanda played a vital role in promoting the patronage of arts and academics during the 5th and 6th century CE, a period that has since been described as the "Golden Age of India" by scholars.

Nalanda was established during the Gupta Empire era (c. 3rd–6th century CE), and was supported by numerous Indian and Javanese patrons – both Buddhists and non-Buddhists. Nalanda continued to thrive with t...Read more

Nalanda (IAST: Nālandā, pronounced [naːlən̪d̪aː]) was a renowned Buddhist mahavihara (great monastery) in ancient Magadha (modern-day Bihar), eastern India. Nalanda is considered to be among the greatest centers of learning in the ancient world. It was located near the city of Rajagriha (now Rajgir) and about 90 kilometres (56 mi) southeast of Pataliputra (now Patna). Operating from 427 until 1197 CE, Nalanda played a vital role in promoting the patronage of arts and academics during the 5th and 6th century CE, a period that has since been described as the "Golden Age of India" by scholars.

Nalanda was established during the Gupta Empire era (c. 3rd–6th century CE), and was supported by numerous Indian and Javanese patrons – both Buddhists and non-Buddhists. Nalanda continued to thrive with the support of the rulers of the Pala Empire (r. 750–1161 CE). After the fall of the Palas, the institution was eventually abandoned. Nalanda may have been attacked and damaged by Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji (c. 1200), but it also managed to remain operational for decades (or possibly even centuries) following the raids.

Over some 750 years, Nalanda's faculty included some of the most revered scholars of Mahayana Buddhism. The curriculum of Nalanda included major Buddhist philosophies like Madhyamaka, Yogachara and Sarvastivada, as well as other subjects like the Vedas, grammar, medicine, logic, mathematics, astronomy and alchemy. The university had a renowned library that was a key source for the Sanskrit texts that were transmitted to East Asia by pilgrims like Xuanzang and Yijing. Many texts composed at Nalanda played an important role in the development of Mahayana and Vajrayana. They include the works of Dharmakirti, the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra of Shantideva, and the Mahavairocana Tantra .

The current site of Nalanda is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2010, the Government of India passed a resolution to revive the famous university, and a contemporary institute, Nalanda University, was established at Rajgir. It has been listed as an "Institute of National Importance" by the Government of India.

Early history of the city of Nalanda (1200 BCE–300 CE)  A map of Nalanda and its environs from Alexander Cunningham's 1861–62 ASI report which shows a number of ponds (pokhar) around the Mahavihara.

Archaeological excavations at sites near Nalanda, such as the Juafardih site about 3 kilometres away, have yielded black ware and other items. These have been carbon dated to about 1200 BCE. This suggests that the region around Nalanda in Magadha had a human settlement centuries before the birth of the Mahavira and the Buddha.[1]

Early Buddhist texts state that Buddha visited a town near Rajagriha (modern Rajgir – the capital of Magadha) called Nalanda on his peregrinations.[2][3] He delivered lectures in a nearby mango grove named Pavarika and one of his two chief disciples, Shariputra, was born in the area and later attained nirvana there.[4][5] These Buddhist texts were written down centuries after the death of the Buddha, are not consistent in either the name or the relative locations. For example, texts such as the Mahasudassana Jataka states that Nalaka or Nalakagrama is about a yojana (10 miles) from Rajagriha, while texts such as Mahavastu call the place Nalanda-gramaka and place it half a yojana away.[6] A Buddhist text Nikayasamgraha does state that emperor Ashoka established a vihara (monastery) at Nalanda. However, archaeological excavations so far have not yielded any monuments from Ashoka period or from another 600 years after his death.[7][8]

Chapter 2.7 of the Jaina text Sutrakritanga states that Nalanda is a "suburb" of capital Rajagriha, has numerous buildings, and this is where Mahavira (6th/5th century BCE) spent fourteen varshas – a term that refers to a traditional retreat during monsoons for the monks in Indian religions. This is corroborated in the Kalpasutra, another cherished text in Jainism. However, other than the mention of Nalanda, Jaina texts do not provide further details, nor were they written down for nearly a millennium after Mahavira's death. Like the Buddhist texts, this has raised questions about reliability and whether the current Nalanda is same as the one in Jaina texts.[7] According to Scharfe, though the Buddhist and Jaina texts generate problems with place identification, it is "virtually certain" that the modern Nalanda is near or the site these texts are referring to.[9]

Faxian visit (399–412 CE)

When Faxian, a Chinese Buddhist pilgrim monk, visited the city of Nalanda, there probably was no university yet. Faxian had come to India to acquire Buddhist texts, and spent 10 years in India in the early fifth century, visiting major Buddhist pilgrimage sites including the Nalanda area. He also wrote a travelogue, which inspired other Chinese and Korean Buddhists to visit India over the centuries; in it he mentions many Buddhist monasteries and monuments across India. However, he makes no mention of any monastery or university at Nalanda even though he was looking for Sanskrit texts and took a large number of them from other parts of India back to China. Combined with a lack of any archaeological discoveries of pre-400 CE monuments in Nalanda, the silence in Faxian's memoir suggests that Nalanda monastery-university did not exist around 400 CE.[9][10]

Foundation (5th century)  Nalanda was founded by the Gupta emperors in the early 5th century and then expanded over the next 7 centuries.

Nalanda's dateable history begins in the 5th century. A seal discovered at the site identifies a monarch named Shakraditya (Śakrāditya - r. c. 415–455 CE) as its founder and attributes the foundation of a sangharama (monastery) at the site to him.[11][12] This is corroborated by the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang travelogue.[12] The tradition of formalised Vedic learning "helped to inspire the formation of large teachings centres," such as Nalanda, Taxila, and Vikramashila.[13]

 Nalanda clay seal of Kumaragupta III. The inscription is in Sanskrit, late-Gupta script, the man shown has Vaishnava mark on his forehead, and seal has Garuda-vahana on upper face.[14]

In the Indian tradition and texts, kings were called by many epithets and names. Scholars such as Andrea Pinkney and Hartmut Scharfe conclude that Shakraditya is same as Kumaragupta I. He was one of the kings in the Hindu dynasty of the Guptas.[9][15] Further, numismatic evidence discovered at Nalanda corroborate that Kumaragupta I was the founder patron of the Nalanda monastery-university.[11][12]

His successors, Budhagupta, Tathagatagupta, Baladitya, and Vajra, later extended and expanded the institution by building additional monasteries and temples.[16] Nalanda, thus flourished through the 5th and 6th centuries under the Guptas.[17] These Gupta-era contributions to Nalanda are corroborated by the numerous Buddhist and Hindu seals, artwork, iconography and inscriptions discovered at Nalanda, which are in the Gupta-style and Gupta-era scripts.[18][19] During this period, the Gupta kings were not the only patrons of Nalanda. They reflect a broad and religiously diverse community of supporters. It is remarkable, states Scharfe, that "many donors were not Buddhists; the emblems on their seals show Lakshmi, Ganesha, Shivalinga and Durga".[20]

Rulers in northeast India bequeathed villages to help fund Nalanda; the king of Sumatra contributed villages for the monastery's endowment. A special fund was also established to support scholars from China.[21]

Post-Gupta dynasty (550–750 CE)  Seal of Harsha found in Nalanda[22]

After the decline of the Guptas, the most notable patron of the Nalanda Mahavihara was Harsha (known as Śīlāditya in some Buddhist records). He was a seventh-century emperor with a capital at Kannauj (Kanyakubja). According to Xuanzang, Harsha was a third generation Hindu king from the Vaishya caste, who built majestic Buddhist viharas, as well as three temples – Buddha, Surya and Shiva, all of the same size.[23] He states (c. 637 CE), "a long succession of kings" had built up Nalanda till "the whole is truly marvellous to behold".[24]

In accordance with the ancient Indian traditions of supporting temples and monasteries, inscriptions found at Nalanda suggest that it received gifts, including grants of villages by kings to support its work. Harsha himself granted 100 villages and directed 200 households from each of these villages to supply the institution's monks with requisite daily supplies such as of rice, butter, and milk. This supported over 1,500 faculty and 10,000 student monks at Nalanda.[25][16] These numbers, however, may be exaggerated. They are inconsistent with the much lower numbers (over 3000) given by Yijing, another Chinese pilgrim who visited Nalanda a few decades later. According to Asher, while the excavated Nalanda site is large and the number of viharas so far found are impressive, they simply cannot support 10,000 or more student monks. The total number of known rooms and their small size is such that either the number of monks must have been far less than Xuanzang's claims or the Nalanda site was many times larger than numerous excavations have so far discovered and what Xuanzang describes.[26][27][note 1]

Xuanzang's visit (630–643 CE)

Xuanzang travelled around India between 630 and 643 CE,[28] visiting Nalanda in 637 and 642, spending a total of around two years at the monastery.[29] He was warmly welcomed in Nalanda where he received the Indian name of Mokshadeva[30] and studied under the guidance of Shilabhadra, the venerable head of the institution at the time. He believed that the aim of his arduous overland journey to India had been achieved as 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. Besides Buddhist studies, the monk also attended courses in grammar, logic, and Sanskrit, and later also lectured at the Mahavihara.[31]

 A page from Xuanzang's Great Tang Records on the Western Regions or Dà Táng Xīyù Jì

In the detailed account of his stay at Nalanda, the pilgrim describes the view out of the window of his quarters thus,[32]

Moreover, the whole establishment is surrounded by a brick wall, which encloses the entire convent from without. One gate opens into the great college, from which are separated eight other halls standing in the middle (of the Sangharama). The richly adorned towers, and the fairy-like turrets, like pointed hill-tops are congregated together. The observatories seem to be lost in the vapours (of the morning), and the upper rooms tower above the clouds.

Xuanzang returned to China with 657 Sanskrit texts and 150 relics carried by 20 horses in 520 cases. He translated 74 of the texts himself.[28][33]

Yijing's visit (673–700 CE)

In the thirty years following Xuanzang's return, no fewer than eleven travellers from China and Korea are known to have visited Nalanda,[34] including the monk Yijing. Unlike Faxian and Xuanzang, Yijing followed the sea route around Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. He arrived in 673 CE, and stayed in India for fourteen years, ten of which he spent at the Nalanda Mahavihara.[35] When he returned to China in 695, he had with him 400 Sanskrit texts and 300 grains of Buddha relics which were subsequently translated in China.[36]

Unlike Xuanzang, who also described the geography and culture of seventh-century India, Yijing's account primarily concentrates on the practice of Buddhism in India and detailed descriptions of the customs, rules, and regulations of the monks at the monastery. In his chronicle, Yijing notes that revenues from 200 villages (as opposed to 100 in Xuanzang's time) had been assigned toward the maintenance of Nalanda.[25] He described there being eight vihara with as many as 300 cells.[37] According to him, Nalanda monastery has numerous daily Nikaya procedures and rules for the monks. He gives many examples. In one subsection he explains that the monastery has ten great pools. The morning begins with the ghanta (bell) being rung. Monks take their bathing sheets and go to one of these pools. They bathe with their underwear on, then get out slowly to avoid disturbing anyone else. They wipe their bodies, then wrap this 5-foot long and 1.5-foot wide sheet around the waist, change their clothes with this wrap in place. Then rinse, wring and dry the sheet. The entire procedure, says Yijing, is explained in the Buddhist Nikaya procedures. The day must begin with bathing, but bathing after meals is forbidden. The Nalanda Nikaya has many such daily procedures and rituals set out for the monks to follow.[38]

Korean and Tibetan pilgrims  Replica of the seal of Nalanda set in terracotta on display in the Archaeological Survey of India Museum in Nalanda

In addition to Chinese pilgrims, Buddhist pilgrims from Korea also visited India about the same time as Xuanzang and Yingji. The Chinese travelogues about India became known in the 19th century and have been well published. After mid-20th century, the Korean pilgrim journeys have come to light. For example, monks such as Kyom-ik began visiting Indian monasteries by the mid-6th century. They too carried Indian texts and translated them, producing 72 chuan of translated texts. In the mid-7th century, the Silla (Korean: 신라) monk Hyon-jo visited and stayed at several Indian monasteries, including three years at Nalanda, his visit corroborated by Yingji. He sent his students Hye-ryun and Hyon-gak to Nalanda for studies, the latter died at Nalanda. They adopted Indian names to interact with the fellow students; for example, Hye-ryun was known as Prajnavarman and it is this name that is found in the records. According to Korean records, monks visited India through the ninth century – despite arduous travel challenges – to study at various monasteries, and Nalanda was the most revered.[39][40]

In and after the 7th century, Tibetan monks such as Thonmi Sambhota came to Nalanda and other Indian monasteries to study, not only Buddhism, but Sanskrit language, grammar and other subjects. Sambhota is credited with applying the principles of Sanskrit and its grammar to remodel Tibetan language and its script. It was after Sambhota's first return from Nalanda that the Tibetan king adopted Buddhism and committed to making it the religion of his people.[41] Tibetan monks lived closer to Nepal, Sikkim and eastern India, with simpler travel itineraries than the Koreans and others. Tibetans continued to visit Magadha during the Pala era, and beyond through the 14th century, thereby participated in the crucible of ideas at Nalanda and other monasteries in Bihar and Bengal.[42] However, after the 8th century, it was the esoteric mandala and deities-driven Vajrayana Buddhism that increasingly dominated the exchange.[41]

Pala dynasty (750–1200 CE)  Avalokisteshvara in Khasarpana Lokesvara form from Nalanda, 9th-century.

The Palas established themselves in eastern regions of India in mid-8th century and reigned until the last quarter of the 12th century, they were a Buddhist dynasty. However, under the Palas, the traditional Mahayana Buddhism of Nalanda that inspired East Asian pilgrims such as Xuanzang was superseded by the then newly emerging Vajrayana tradition, a Tantra-imbibed, eros- and deity-inclusive esoteric version of Buddhism.[43] Nalanda continued to get support from the Palas, but they subscribed to Vajrayana Buddhism and they were prolific builders of new monasteries on Vajrayana mandala ideas such as those at Jagaddala, Odantapura, Somapura, and Vikramashila. Odantapura was founded by Gopala, the progenitor of the royal line, only 9.7 kilometres (6 mi) from Nalanda.[44] These competing monasteries, some just a few kilometres away from Nalanda likely drew away a number of learned monks from Nalanda.[45][46]

Inscriptions, literary evidence, seals, and ruined artwork excavated at the Nalanda site suggest that Nalanda remained active and continued to thrive under the Palas.[47] Kings Dharmapala and Devapala were active patrons. A number of 9th-century metallic statues containing references to Devapala have been found in its ruins as well as two notable inscriptions. The first, a copper plate inscription unearthed at Nalanda, details an endowment by the Shailendra King, Balaputradeva of Suvarnadvipa (Sumatra in modern-day Indonesia). This Srivijayan king, "attracted by the manifold excellences of Nalanda" had built a monastery there and had requested Devapala to grant the revenue of five villages for its upkeep, a request which was granted. The Ghosrawan inscription is the other inscription from Devapala's time and it mentions that he received and patronised a bhikṣu named Viradeva, who had studied all the Vedas in his youth, and who was later elected the head of Nalanda.[48][49]

Inscriptions issued between the 9th and 12th centuries attest gifts and support to Nalanda for the upkeep of the monastery, maintenance of the monks, copying of palm leaf manuscripts (necessary for preservation given the Indian tropical climate).[50] One inscription also mentions the destruction of a Nalanda library of manuscripts by fire, and support for its restoration.[50] Another 10th-century inscription quotes Bhadracari of the Sautrantikas tradition, attesting the activity of diverse schools of Buddhism at Nalanda.[51] Another Nalanda inscription from the 11th century mentions a gift of "revolving bookcase".[52]

While the Palas continued to patronise Nalanda liberally, the fame and influence of Nalanda helped the Palas. The Srivijaya kingdom of southeast Asia maintained a direct contact with Nalanda and the Palas, thus influencing the 9th to 12th century art in Sumatra, Java, southern Thailand and regions that actively traded with the Srivijaya kingdom. The influence extended to the Indonesian Shailendra dynasty. The Indonesian bronzes and votive tablets from this period show the creativity of its people, yet the iconographic themes overlap with those found at Nalanda and nearby region. Monks from Indonesia, Myanmar and other parts of southeast Asia came to Nalanda during the Pala rule.[53][54]

Destruction during Turkic conquest (c. 1200 CE)

Archeological excavations in the site during 1920-1921 discovered a thick layer of ashes on the uppermost strata, across many buildings separated by some distance; this suggests that Nalanda was subject to a catastrophic fire.[55] Traditionally, this is held to be arson, blamed upon the troops of Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji who had plundered the region c. 1200 CE, and cited to be the leading cause of Nalanda's demise – a passage from Minhaj-i-Siraj's Tabaqat-i Nasiri which actually describes the destruction of Odantapura Vihar (var. Bihar Sharif[56]), a monastery just a few miles from Nalanda, is offered in support.[55] While such a reading is misplaced, it is true that the Nalanda was raided by Khalji.[55]

The Tibetan records are the second source of the events at Nalanda in the late 12th century and much of the 13th century. These were the decades of widespread systematic destruction of monasteries in this region, and historical records in Tibet affirm that monks from Nalanda and nearby monasteries such as the Vikramashila monastery who "survived the slaughter, fled to Tibet", according to Scharfe.[57] Among the Tibetan records, the most useful is the biography of the Tibetan monk-pilgrim, Dharmasvamin discovered in 1936 and in bsdus-yig style, Tibetan script. It is useful because Dharmasvamin met the fleeing monks and famous scholars during his studies from about mid 1200s to 1226, he had learnt Indian languages and Sanskrit, he walked to and stayed in Nepal starting in 1226 and visited Bihar about 1234, including spending one monsoon season in Nalanda. He described the condition in the decades after the sack of Nalanda and other Buddhist monasteries in Magadha-region of India. His account states that the destruction of Nalanda was not an accident or misunderstanding but a part of the widespread destruction of Buddhist monasteries and monuments including a destruction of Bodhgaya. The vast manuscript libraries of Magadha had been mostly lost. Other Tibetan monks and he had shifted to Nepal, as the place to study, copy and move manuscripts to Tibet. According to his account, the Turushka-Qarluq (Turk) conquest extended from about 1193 to 1205, the destruction was systematic with "Turushka soldiers razing a monastery to the ground and throwing the stones into Ganges river", states Roerich. The fear of persecution was strong in the 1230s, and his colleagues dissuaded him from going to Magadha. According to George Roerich, "his [Chag lo-tsa-ba Chos-rje-dpal, Dharmasvamin] account conveys something of the anxiety of [the Buddhist community of] those days."[58]

Chapter 10 of Dharmasvamin's biography describes Nalanda in c. 1235 CE. Dharmasvamin found it "largely damaged and deserted". Despite the perils, some had re-gathered and resumed the scholastic activities in Nalanda, but at a vastly smaller scale and with donations from a wealthy Brahmin layperson named Jayadeva.[58][59] His account states:

There resided a venerable and learned monk who was more than ninety years old, the Guru and Mahapandita Rahulasribhadra. Raja Buddhasena of Magadha honored this Guru and four other Panditas, and about seventy venerable ones (monks).

— Dharmasvamin (Translator: George Roerich)[60]

While he stayed there for six months under the tutelage of Rahula Shribhadra, Dharmasvamin makes no mention of the legendary library of Nalanda which possibly did not survive the initial wave of Turkic attacks. He also states that some structures had survived, with "eighty small viharas, built of bricks and many left undamaged" but "there was absolutely no one to look after them".[58] He recites the arrest of their patron and lay-supporter Jayadeva by Muslim soldiers who threaten to kill him for honouring (supporting) the monks of Nalanda. Jayadeva sends them a message that the Turushka soldiers are sure to kill "Guru [Rahulasribhadra] and his disciples" and they should "flee!".[61]

Dharmasvamin also provides an eyewitness account of an attack on the derelict Mahavihara by the Muslim soldiers stationed at nearby Odantapura (now Bihar Sharif) which had been turned into a military headquarters. Only the Tibetan and his nonagenarian instructor stayed behind and hid themselves while the rest of the monks fled.[62][63] Another Tibetan source is that of Lama Taranatha, but this is from the late 16th century, and it is unclear what its sources were. The Taranatha account about Buddhism in India repeats the legendary accounts of Nalanda from the Buddha and Ashoka periods found in Xuanzang and other sources, then shifts to centuries of the 2nd-millennium. It describes Islamic raids in 12th-century India, states that whole of Magadha fell to the Turushka (Turks, a common term for Muslims in historic Indic and Tibetan texts).[25] Their armies, asserts Taranatha, destroyed Odantapuri as well as Vikramashila. Given the hundreds of years of gap between the events and Taranatha's account, and no clear chain of sources within the Tibetan tradition of record keeping, its reliability is questionable.[64]

Legendary accounts

Tibetan texts such as the 18th-century work named Pag sam jon zang and 16th/17th-century Taranatha's account include fictional Tibetan legends. These include stories such as a king Cingalaraja had brought "all Hindus and Turuskas [Muslims]" up to Delhi under his control, and converted from Brahmanism to Buddhism under the influence of his queen, and he restoring the monasteries.[65]

Others state that a southern king built thousands of monasteries and temples again, Muslim robbers murdered this king, thereafter Nalanda was repaired by Mudita Bhadra and a minister named Kukutasiddha erected a temple there.[citation needed]

One popular story describes the tale of two angry Tirthika (Brahmanical) monks, who gain magical powers by tantric siddha, spread ashes that erupt a fire that destroyed one of Nalanda's three libraries – Ratnodadhi, but magical water poured out of a manuscript that prevented damage and learned Buddhist monks rewrote the texts that were damaged.[citation needed]

However, there is no evidence for the existence of such a king (or sultan), minister, Muslim robbers, thousands of Buddhist monuments built in India between the 13th and 19th century, or of any significant Nalanda repairs in or after the 13th century.[66][67][note 2][note 3]

Continued influence

Johan Elverskog – a scholar of religious studies and history, states that it is incorrect to say Nalanda's end was sudden and complete by about 1202, because it continued to have some students well into the 13th century. Elverskog, relying on Arthur Waley's 1932 paper, states that this is confirmed by the fact a monk ordained in 13th-century Nalanda travelled to the court of Khubilai Khan. He adds that it is wrong to say that Buddhism ended in India around the 13th or 14th century or earlier, because "[Buddha] Dharma survived in India at least until the 17th-century".[70]

Impact of its destruction and influence on Tibetan Buddhist Tradition

After the Islamic conquest, the destruction and the demise of Nalanda, other monasteries and Buddhist culture from the plains of Bihar and Bengal, the brand memory of "Nalanda" remained the most revered in Tibet. The last throne-holder of Nalanda, Shakyashri Bhadra of Kashmir,[71] fled to Tibet in 1204 at the invitation of the Tibetan translator Tropu Lotsawa (Khro-phu Lo-tsa-ba Byams-pa dpal). Some of the surviving Nalanda books were taken by fleeing monks to Tibet.[72][73] He took with him several Indian masters: Sugataśrī, (an expert in Madhyamaka and Prajñāpāramitā); Jayadatta (Vinaya); Vibhūticandra (grammar and Abhidharma), Dānaśīla (logic), Saṅghaśrī (Candavyākaraṇa), Jīvagupta (books of Maitreya), Mahābodhi,(Bodhicaryāvatāra); and Kālacandra (Kālacakra).[74]

In 1351, Tibetans committed to recreating a monastery in the heart of Tibet, staffing it with monk-scholars from diverse Buddhist schools, and name it the "Nalanda monastery" in the honour of the ancient Nalanda, according to the Blue Annals (Tibetan: དེབ་ཐེར་སྔོན་པོ).[41] This institution emerged north of Lhasa in 1436 through the efforts of Rongtön Mawé Sengge, then expanded in the 15th century. It is now called the Tibetan Nalanda, to distinguish it from this site.[75]

Tibetan Buddhist tradition is regarded to be a continuation of the Nalanda tradition. The Dalai Lama states:[76]

Tibetan Buddhism is not an invention of the Tibetans. Rather, it is quite clear that it derives from the pure lineage of the tradition of the Nalanda Monastery. The master Nagarjuna hailed from this institution, as did many other important philosophers and logicians...

The Dalai Lama refers to himself as a follower of the lineage of the seventeen Nalanda masters.[77]

An Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra manuscript preserved at the Tsethang monastery has superbly painted and well preserved wooden covers and 139 leaves. According to its colophon it was donated by the mother of the great pandita Sri Asoka in the second year of the reign of King Surapala, at the very end of the 11th century.[78] Nalanda still continued to operate into the 14th century as the Indian monk, Dhyānabhadra was said to have been a monk at Nalanda prior to his travels in East Asia.[79]

Under the East India Company and British Empire (1800–1947)  A statue of Gautama Buddha at Nalanda in 1895.

After its decline, Nalanda was largely forgotten until Francis Buchanan-Hamilton surveyed the site in 1811–1812 after locals in the vicinity drew his attention to some Buddhist and Brahmanical images and ruins in the area.[67] He, however, did not associate the mounds of earth and debris with famed Nalanda. That link was established by Major Markham Kittoe in 1847. Alexander Cunningham and the newly formed Archaeological Survey of India conducted an official survey in 1861–1862. Systematic excavation of the ruins by the ASI did not begin until 1915 and ended in 1937.[80] The first four excavations were led by Spooner between 1915 and 1919. The next two were led by Sastri in 1920 and 1921. The next seven seasons of archaeological excavations through 1928 were led by Page. These efforts were not merely digging, observation and cataloguing of discoveries, they included conservation, restoration and changes to the site such as drainage to prevent damage to unearthed floors.[81] After 1928, Kuraishi led two seasons of excavations, Chandra led the next four. The last season was led by Ghosh, but the excavations were abbreviated in 1937 for financial reasons and budget cuts. Chandra and final ASI team leaders noted that the "long row of monasteries extend further into the modern village of Bargaon" and the "extent of entire monastic establishment can only be determined by future excavations".[81]

Post–independence (Post-1947)  Rear view of the ruins of the Baladitya Temple in 1872.

Post independence, the second round of excavation and restoration took place between 1974 and 1982.[80] In 1951, the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara (New Nalanda Mahavihara), a modern centre for Pali and Buddhism in the spirit of the ancient institution, was founded by the Government of Bihar near Nalanda's ruins at the suggestion of Rajendra Prasad, India's first president.[82] It was deemed to be a university in 2006.[83]

1 September 2014 saw the commencement of the first academic year of a modern Nalanda University, with 15 students, in nearby Rajgir.[84] Nalanda University (also known as Nalanda International University) is an international and research-intensive university located in the historical city of Rajgir in Bihar, India. It was established by an Act of Parliament to emulate the famous ancient university of Nalanda, which functioned between the 5th and 13th centuries. The idea to resurrect Nalanda University was endorsed in 2007 at the East Asia Summit, represented mostly by Asian countries including China, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam, apart from Australia and New Zealand, and as such, the university is seen as one of the flagship projects of the Government of India. It has been designated as an "Institution of National Importance" by the Parliament, and began its first academic session on 1 September 2014. Initially set up with temporary facilities in Rajgir, a modern campus spanning over 160 hectares (400 acres) is expected to be finished by 2020. This campus, upon completion, will be the largest of its kind in India, and one of the largest in Asia.[85]

^ Tewari, Rakesh (2016). EXCAVATION AT JUAFARDIH, DISTRICT NALANDA. ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA. pp. 6–8 Layers 13, the uppermost deposit of Period I, has provided a C14 date of 1354BCE it may thus be seen that the C14 dates of Period I and II are consistent and justifiably indicate that the conventional date bracket for NBPW requires a fresh review at least for the sites in Magadh region. ^ KA Nilakanta Sastri 1988, p. 268. ^ Buswell & Lopez 2013, Entry for Nālandā. ^ Scharfe 2002, p. 148. ^ Dutt 1962, p. 328. ^ Ghosh 1965, pp. 2–3. ^ a b Pinkney 2014, pp. 116–117 with footnotes. ^ Ghosh 1965, pp. 4–5. ^ a b c Scharfe 2002, pp. 148–149 with footnotes. ^ Deeg, Max (2019), "Chinese Buddhist Travelers: Faxian, Xuanzang, and Yijing", Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190277727.013.217, ISBN 978-0-19-027772-7 ^ a b Monroe 2000, p. 166. ^ a b c Dutt 1962, p. 329. ^ Frazier, Jessica; Flood, Gavin (30 June 2011). 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