Monday, August 27, 2012

Ancient Indian Universities A Platonic Academy of Education !!

Nalanda was an old center for higher learning which was located in the State of Bihar, India. It came up in 427 and was operational till 1197. Located in northeastern part of India, it was not far away from Nepal’s southern border of today’s time. Its devotion was towards Buddhist studies but the university also used to train students in medicine, astronomy, war art, fine arts, mathematics and politics. This center of education had 8 separate compounds, meditation halls, lakes, parks, 10 temples and classrooms. It had one nine-story library where monks scrupulously copied documents and books so that each scholar could have a set of his own.

It had hostels for students. This made it the first educational institution, which housed 10,000 students inside the university’s premises. It also provided accommodations to 2,000 professors. This university attracted scholars and pupils fromJapan,Tibet,Persia,Korea,China,IndonesiaandTurkey. This site has large number of little monasteries where monks studied and lived. Many of these monasteries were rebuilt over centuries. One of the cell belongs to Naropa, one among the few who were responsible for bringing Buddhism to Tibet along with luminaries of Nalanda such as Padmasambhava and Shantirakshita. A small opening of cell reveals one tiny room, where Naropa used to meditate.

Although this site was one pilgrimage destination from the first century A.D., it is also important because Buddha often came to this
site with his two chief disciples namely Moggallana and Sariputra. A large stupa famous as Sariputra’s Stupa, marks a spot not just where his remnants are entombed, it is also supposedly to be his birthplace. Nalanda’s major significance comes from Buddhist roots as a learning center. Hsuan Tsang a famous pilgrim from China came here and taught and studied for five years in the university in seventh Century A.D. for about 700 years in between fifth and twelfth Centuries, this ancient university was center of Buddhist studies and scholarship in ancient world.
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