Which was the oldest university in India?

Submitted by aurora on Tue, 03/04/2008 - 22:13

Nalanda University in India.jpg Nalanda University in India dates back to 427, when it was founded for Buddhist studies. It is believed to be one of the oldest institutions and the first residential International University in the world. The site of Nalanda is located in the Indian state of Bihar,about 55 miles south east of Patna, and was a center of learning from 427 CE to 1197 CE partly under the Pala Empire It has been called "one of the first great universities in recorded history.

Some remains of Nalanda University: Image 1

Nalanda was one of the world's first residential universities, i.e., it had dormitories for students. 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. Nalanda 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 Nalanda University covered every field of learning, and it attracted pupils and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey.Courses were drawn from every field of learning, Buddhist and Hindu, sacred and secular, foreign and native.

The seal of Nalanda University set in terracotta on display in the ASI Museum in Nalanda (image on the right)

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 Although Nalanda 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 India.The name may derive from one of Shakyamuni's former births , when hewas a king whose capital was here. Nalanda was one of his epithets meaning. This place saw the rise and fall of many empires and emperors who contributed in the development of Nalanda University. Many monasteries and temples were built by them. Kingarshwardhana 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 schoolof Logic and Dharmpala- the Brahmin scholar, taught here. The famous Chinese traveller 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. The seal of Nalanda University set in terracotta on display in the ASI Museum in Nalanda In 1193,the Nalanda University was sacked by Muslim armies under Bakhtiyar Khilji; The invaders cared nothing for the university and the fact that it was aleading learning center. They also cared nothing for the numerous historic texts and scrolls in the university. When the Tibetan translator Chag Lotsawa visited them in 1235, he found it damaged and looted, but still functioning with a small number of monks.Ahir considers the destruction of the temples, monasteries, centersof learning at Nalanda and northern India for the demise of ancient Indian scientific thought in mathematics, astronomy, alchemy, and anatomy.

Two more views of the university's remains