Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nalanda University: It is to be revived as Harvard of Bihar !!

Nalanda emerged as a University much before the learning centres were set up in Europe. The ruins tell the story of learning cum monastic centre which had students from Korea,Japan,China,Tibet, Greece,Turkey and many other countries.

The Bazar shadowing the entry to the ruins is filled with Tum Tums,Tata(cars) and Tibetans.During the time i.e.end of Dec.2011when we went to this unforgettable place, there were about 90% of the tourists from Budhist countries.The Bazar is rich source of money to the exchequer of Bihar. The Nalanda University is an architect's delight. During its heyday, the university offered Sanskrit,public health,medicine and economics in the truly Budhist traditions. The Centre had eight compounds,10 temples,meditation halls, classrooms,lakes and parks. It accommodated 10,000 students and more than 2000 teachers.

The idea for Revival of Nalanda as a centre of higher learning was proposed by the then President of India,Shri A.P.J.Abdul Kalam in 2006. The Nalanda University Bill 2010 was passed by both houses of Parliament and became an Act. The first phase of this reconstruction and revival is likely to begin by mid 2014. It will be different from today 's Oxford or Standford.It will not be modern materialistc centre of learning. It will be rather be a path to Nirvana.

The new Campus will be designed through global design competition.It would be committed to a sustainable environment and one of the first school will be the one on ecology and environment Each section of the new interdisciplanary buildings will "speak to each other the way scholars would like do".

It could be that the revival of this Varisty and other religious places like Ayodhaya,Thiruvananthapuram and other heritage places (as envisaged) could be regeneration of new India where there is no materialism,secterian hatred and misunderstandings. Perhaps there would be no sunset.

Bihar could be once again Vihar of Buddhists values, of middle path, away from excruciating pain and mindless ecstasy. It could be as Green as this as this route to Nalanda shows.
Read more: http://goo.gl/HCeho

Nalanda University and Buddha's last sermon

Nalanda - the first university of the world - is close to the place where Buddha delivered His last sermon. Ruins of Nalanda stretches out below us, a poem in red. The remains of this ancient monastic university, located on the way from Patna to Rajgir consist of classrooms, stupas, monk's cells and temples. The crimson of the bricks glows in the light of the midday sun,” said Kauusalya anthanam writing a news feature on the world’s first university, the Nalanda.

“Some of the bricks look worn with age while others look bright and new; one admires their quality and endurance for the university is said to have flourished from the 5th to the 12th Century A.D. I have only to shut my eyes to think of the robed monks making their way across the impressive structures to attend classes in logic, grammar or medicine, and above all Buddhist studies. All the subjects Nalanda was famous for and that brought students here from many countries” the journalist from the Hindu said further.

Spanning dynasties

Nalanda was believed to have been visited by Buddha and Mahavira in the 6th Century B.C. Mahavira is said to have often spent the rainy season here, according to Jain texts. The ruins conjure up a panorama of planned and well-executed architecture. During the excavations, nine levels of construction were discovered, contributed to by the various dynasties - the Gupta, Sunga and Pala rulers. The ruins are at various levels. Presiding over them all are the grand ruins of the great temple with the shallow stepsleading up to it. Our guide,Santhanam said an elderly man, has a Masters in Pali.

“The curved shape that forms the base on the ground is typical of the architecture of the Gupta dynasty while the bricks in the reconstructed ruins are an intermingling of various centuries,” he says.

“As one walks up the steps to a reconstructed parapet or down to the granary or the cell of the monks with its stone beds, it is easy to visualise their way of life. The Chinese pilgrim Fa Hien perhaps visited Nalanda in the 4th Century A.D. while Hiuen Tsang did so in the 7th Century A.D., our guide goes on. Hiuen Tsang's lyrical description when he came here during the reign of King Harshavardhana who was a great patron of Nalanda matches the poetic name of the university that derived from the lotus, the symbol of knowledge: “where an azure pool winds around the monasteries, adorned with the full-blown cups of the blue lotus…”

“Nalanda spread its fragrance till the invasion by the Turks destroyed it in the 12th Century. The university was also devastated by fire. It vanished from view, an obscure mound till Francis Buchanan discovered it in 1812. But it was Sir Alexander Cunningham who identified it as Nalanda in 1861. The Archaeological Survey of India took up the excavation in a big way in the early years of the last century. At the archaeological museum nearby we see magnificent images of the Buddha, terracotta figures and artifacts recovered from the site. But what is unique is the image of Trailokyvijaya trampling over Siva and Parvati, testifying to the tussle between Buddhism and Hinduism.

“From Nalanda we hop over to Rajgir, just 12 km away. We stop at the base of the hill at the small ropeway station. A chair car appears swinging before me, someone thrusts me in, slams the horizontal bar and before I know it I am airborne with only my prayers to keep me company. Eyes shut, I manage to reach the top. But is it worth it! The domed white structure that houses images of the Buddha in the four corners is striking.

“But more impressive is the fact that the Buddha would climb up here to Griddhakuta or Hill of the Vultures to deliver his sermons to his disciples and to the crowds gathered below.

“After descending the hill and travelling a short distance, we are brought to earth with a nasty thud as we near the remnants that are claimed to have been a royal jail. It is believed King Bimbisara of Magadha was imprisoned here by his son Ajathashatru in an unforgivable hurry to get the throne.

The last sermon

“We soon come upon a magnificent sight in Kolhua — a huge stupa surrounded by smaller ones. Towering above them is the Asokan pillar mounted by the lion — he sits there firmly, lord of all that he surveys and witness to the events of the past 2,300 years! The plaque says this was where Buddha preached his last sermon and announced his approaching nirvana.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nalanda the first University of world !!


“The ruins of Nalanda stretch out below us, a poem in red. The remains of this ancient monastic university, located on the way from Patna to Rajgir consist of classrooms, stupas, monk’s cells and temples. The crimson of the bricks glows in the light of the midday sun,” said Kauusalya Santhanam writing a news feature on the world’s first university, the Nalanda.

“Some of the bricks look worn with age while others look bright and new; one admires their quality and endurance for the university is said to have flourished from the 5th to the 12th Century A.D. I have only to shut my eyes to think of the robed monks making their way across the impressive structures to attend classes in logic, grammar or medicine, and above all Buddhist studies. All the subjects Nalanda was famous for and that brought students here from many countries” the journalist from the Hindu said further.


Spanning dynasties

Nalanda was believed to have been visited by Buddha and Mahavira in the 6th Century B.C. Mahavira is said to have often spent the rainy season here, according to Jain texts. The ruins conjure up a panorama of planned and well-executed architecture. During the excavations, nine levels of construction were discovered, contributed to by the various dynasties — the Gupta, Sunga and Pala rulers. The ruins are at various levels. Presiding over them all are the grand ruins of the great temple with the shallow stepsleading up to it. Our guide,Santhanam said an elderly man, has a Masters in Pali.

“The curved shape that forms the base on the ground is typical of the architecture of the Gupta dynasty while the bricks in the reconstructed ruins are an intermingling of various centuries,” he says.

“As one walks up the steps to a reconstructed parapet or down to the granary or the cell of the monks with its stone beds, it is easy to visualise their way of life. The Chinese pilgrim Fa Hien perhaps visited Nalanda in the 4th Century A.D. while Hiuen Tsang did so in the 7th Century A.D., our guide goes on. Hiuen Tsang’s lyrical description when he came here during the reign of King Harshavardhana who was a great patron of Nalanda matches the poetic name of the university that derived from the lotus, the symbol of knowledge: “where an azure pool winds around the monasteries, adorned with the full-blown cups of the blue lotus…”

“Nalanda spread its fragrance till the invasion by the Turks destroyed it in the 12th Century. The university was also devastated by fire. It vanished from view, an obscure mound till Francis Buchanan discovered it in 1812. But it was Sir Alexander Cunningham who identified it as Nalanda in 1861. The Archaeological Survey of India took up the excavation in a big way in the early years of the last century. At the archaeological museum nearby we see magnificent images of the Buddha, terracotta figures and artifacts recovered from the site. But what is unique is the image of Trailokyvijaya trampling over Siva and Parvati, testifying to the tussle between Buddhism and Hinduism.

“From Nalanda we hop over to Rajgir, just 12 km away. We stop at the base of the hill at the small ropeway station. A chair car appears swinging before me, someone thrusts me in, slams the horizontal bar and before I know it I am airborne with only my prayers to keep me company. Eyes shut, I manage to reach the top. But is it worth it! The domed white structure that houses images of the Buddha in the four corners is striking.

“But more impressive is the fact that the Buddha would climb up here to Griddhakuta or Hill of the Vultures to deliver his sermons to his disciples and to the crowds gathered below.

“After descending the hill and travelling a short distance, we are brought to earth with a nasty thud as we near the remnants that are claimed to have been a royal jail. It is believed King Bimbisara of Magadha was imprisoned here by his son Ajathashatru in an unforgivable hurry to get the throne.

The last sermon

“We soon come upon a magnificent sight in Kolhua — a huge stupa surrounded by smaller ones. Towering above them is the Asokan pillar mounted by the lion — he sits there firmly, lord of all that he surveys and witness to the events of the past 2,300 years! The plaque says this was where Buddha preached his last sermon and announced his approaching nirvana.

:We also visit the stupa now in ruins, which marks the spot where one eighth of the relics of the Buddha were buried. As we drive back to Patna, the past seems more potent than the present and the intervening centuries, a mirage.”
Read more:http://goo.gl/jtUpH

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Panel spoils varsity office shift plan of Nalanda University !!


A parliamentary panel has slammed South Block and the Nalanda Mentor Group’s attempt to set up an important department of the upcoming Nalanda University in New Delhi and not in Bihar.

In its report tabled in both the Houses on the functioning of the external affairs ministry (MEA), the parliamentary standing committee directed the ministry to review its plan to have a school of international studies and a project office in Delhi.

In the report tabled on May 8, the committee recommended that the school “be set up on the main university campus”. The report did not name Nalanda University vice-chancellor Gopa Sabharwal but “desire(d) that the responsibility to develop this institution should be given to those who are devoted, genuine and committed to make selfless efforts for development of this prime institution while sitting at the location of the institution and certainly not in Delhi”.

It said it was “not at all convinced with the reasons furnished by” the MEA about the location of the school and project office in Delhi. The committee “strongly” felt that the idea to set up the school and project office in Delhi “will defeat the very purpose of setting up the Nalanda University and are against the spirit of the idea of setting up of the university at the ancient place of knowledge”.

The MEA had put forth the governing board of the university’s reasons to shift its VC’s office and the school to New Delhi in front of the committee. The board has cited lack of toilet facilities, sewage connections, water supply and other basic amenities in Rajgir as reasons for the shift.

MEA officials had told the parliamentary committee that having a project office in Delhi would make it easier for its officials to interact with the university. They also argued that the roads between Patna and Rajgir were very narrow and congested and it can take upto five hours to cover the nearly 100km stretch.

In the governing board meeting, it was argued that the VC office and its staff cannot function out of the building in Rajgir provided by the Bihar government as a camp office because of the absence of toilet and sewage facility and that extensive construction work is required to make the premises habitable. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen heads the governing board.

Responding to media reports that she was trying to shift the vice-chancellor’s office to Delhi, Sabarwal said such reports were based on certain presumptions, which were far from truth. “The commitment of the governing board and the university to Rajgir and Bihar is unquestionable and absolute. University officials are frequently in Rajgir and also Patna, and are closely monitoring the progress on the site and on other related issues. The fact that the university is launching its academic programme with the schools of historical studies and ecology and environment, proves beyond doubt that Nalanda University is rooted in its setting. Both schools have a resonance with a rich historical legacy of Bihar and the bucolic setting of the university,” she said.

On the plan to set up the school of international relations and peace studies in Delhi, she said it was too early to talk about a school that is not being set up in the immediate future. “The justification for having some part of that school in Delhi, when it is founded, is that the Diplomatic Corps and the MEA are both in Delhi and it makes sense for Nalanda University to draw upon both these groups for the school,” she said.

“Moreover our Act permits that the university can open centres anywhere in India or abroad,” Sabharwal told The Telegraph over phone from Delhi.

She said that an office of the university needed to be set up at Delhi because it was an international project and having an office was a must for liaison purpose. “We want to make things clear at the outset that the university would be located very much in Bihar and there was no point making an issue out of things which are being done at present to secure the foundations of the project,” added the VC.

The parliamentary panel also berated the MEA for projecting a huge outlay of nearly Rs 600 crore for the university for the fiscal 2012-13. The Planning Commission approved only Rs 15 crore for the sam fiscal.

The BJP MP Ananth Kumar-headed committee “noted” that during the 11th Five Year Plan period, there were several instances of the plan panel making “inadequate allocations”. It blamed the MEA for making “inappropriate projections” that led to the Planning Commission allocating less funds.

The committee said it was “dismayed to observe the lack of progress” on Nalanda University. It said it was “not at all convinced by the ministry’s justification in making such huge projections” of Rs 598.5 crore for 2012-13 when the university is yet to embark on the Global Designs Competition.

The parliamentary panel said it was “concerned about the contents of the curriculum and the standards and quality of the academic courses to be introduced in the Nalanda University”.

It said the university should emerge as a valuable resource for promotion of studies and research in oriental cultures, literary tradition and languages and civilization based on the native knowledge systems and it should act as a living repository of cultural and literary traditions of the region.
Read more: http://goo.gl/FRws0

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dr. Amartya Sen: Nalanda University-World's Oldest University and Contemporary Asia !!

When the oldest European university, Bologna, was established in 1088, a Buddhist institution of learning, Nalanda University, which was based in India (with students from all over Asia), was already more than 600 years old. Nalanda disappeared  from view a thousand years ago, but as this ancient university is re-established through a combined pan-Asian initiative, we have to ask: how are the traditions of intellectual pursuit and cross-border cooperation relevant today?

Nobel Prize-winning economist and one of India’s leading thinkers Amartya Sen looks at the "new" Nalanda and addresses these issues. Dr. Sen, Thomas W. Lamont University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University, will discuss the revival of the ancient Indian Buddhist university of Nalanda and its relevance for contemporary Asia.
Read more: http://goo.gl/B9drW

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nobel Laureaute Amartya Sen wants best talent to revive Nalanda University !!

Nobel Laureaute Amartya Sen, who heads the governing board of the proposed Nalanda University, wants it to be a world class institution reflecting the best talent from around the globe.

Sen said there was a "huge resistance in having a non-parochial global understanding" as the basis of the new institution coming up with the involvement of several countries including China, Singapore and Japan.

The commitment to learn from institutions across the world is something that must be kept in mind in the effort to recreate the 11th century University, which attracted scholars and educators from across the world, he said at a conference to mark the 100th birth anniversary of the renowned Indologist, Professor Ji Xianlin (1911-2009).

The Governing Board of the University also held a meeting in Beijing on Saturday to discuss the future of the varsity.

China has already pledged support to the efforts to revive the 11th century centre of learning.

India's ancient school of learning, Nalanda, is being revived under an international initiative by the East Asia Summit with the active involvement of the Ministry of External Affairs.

The Governing Board, led by Sen, was invited to hold a board meeting in China by Premier Wen Jiabao following last year's meeting of the East Asia Summit.

Sen pointed out that none of the Indian universities figured in the top 200 universities determined by a survey this month and said the effort at Nalanda was to create a world class institution brining in the best of talent from all countries.

The varsity was expected to start functioning from 2013 academic session. But Sen earlier this month blamed "over bureaucratic control" and "difficulty" in getting funds for the delay in setting up the varsity.

Speaking on the occasion, George Yeo, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, said the world was now watching the critical relationship between the United States and China.

But the second half of the 21st century will change the situation and relationship between China and India would become a critical factor, he said.
Read more: http://goo.gl/Ta5gl

Seven Wonders of India: Nalanda University, Bihar !!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Singapore students’ master plan for Nalanda University !!

Singapore: A group of architecture students here have drawn up a master plan for the revival of ancient Nalanda University in India which had East Asian and Chinese students during its functional period from 5th Century CE to 1197 CE.

"We will present the draft plan to the Nalanda University directors later this year and hope to participate in the final competition for Nalanda campus master plan," Ng Si Jia, the group leader of the architecture students from the National University of Singapore (NUS), said.

Architecture students, researchers, academics and diplomats met yesterday at the Nalanda-Siriwijaya Centre at NUS to discuss and review the plan, 'The Nalanda University: A Mother Plan for the 21st Century Campus'.

Singapore students’ master plan for Nalanda Univ
The plan was put together by the all Chinese group of 14 architecture students and includes two students from the Nanjing University of China who are in Singapore on a student exchange programme.

The modern building concept-based plan stresses on including local farming on the 150-ha of the 180-ha site to make it self-sufficient in food supplies and incorporating the contribution of the community within the vicinity as has been the case at the ancient centre when 200 villages supplied food to the campus residents.

The plan also emphasizes on inculcating local cultural, environmental and ecological elements in the campus though the revived university would draw international students, including from China, according to the presentation.

Singapore students’ master plan for Nalanda Univ
Singapore's top architect and NUS Adjunct Professor Tay Kheng Soon took the students on a week-long tour of India and visited the ruins of Nalanda in Bihar as well as the site for the new university, "to get them the feel of area" before working on the plan.

While it was only a study project, the target would be to participate in the eventual design and plan, stressed Miss Ng, who will graduate later this year from the NUS.

"But we will continue to pursue this project," she added, stressing that it was a life-time experience of visiting India and the Nalanda site from January 30 to February 6 this year, during which they met Vice Chancellor Gopa Sabharwal.

Prof Tay said he believed the revival of Nalanda would help change the current faculty-based teaching to more open concepts.

International students would join the Nalanda University, which was scheduled to be functional from 2013.

Singapore, India, China and Japan are leading the main sponsors for reconstructing the University, estimated to cost USD 1 billion. More donations were being sought for the university project.
Read more:http://goo.gl/eobxl

A brief and Incredible History of Nalanda University

India has always been revered as a land of learning. From ancient sciences to arts, philosophy, and literature, the country has always be...