Nalanda – Who Destroyed It?

Nalanda was one of the most important and ancient universities of India. We in this article will try to discuss a little about the university and how it was destroyed. It was a Buddhist monastery. It was built by Buddhist monks in the ancient kingdom of Magadha. Today it is located in the state of Bihar. Today it is also an UNESCO World heritage site.

The Nalanda University was a popular university and students from all over the world came to study here. They were given formal education in this place. The Jain and Buddhist ways of learning helped to inspire a lot of students. The university was patronised by the Gupta Empire in the 5th and 6th century. The university was always encouraged by the Gupta Empire and as a result it flourished till the 19th century. Students and scholars would travel for days to come here to study.

The students of Nalanda University studied a variety of subjects and they could specialize in any field that they wanted to. Sanskrit, logic, Vedas, medicine and many other subjects were taught in Nalanda. The students studied Mahayana as well as Hinayana sects of Buddhism.

The question that arises is what happened to this university. How were it ransacked and how this glorious history was destroyed? By 7th century Buddhism started to lose its importance in India. The primary reason was that many felt it was taking young men away from the family path. The university was attacked many times. It was destroyed by the army of the Mamluk dynasty of the Delhi sultanate and under the supervision of Bakhtiyar Khalji. This university was first attacked in 1200 CE. Many did not really understand why a university was attacked. It is a peaceful place where students and scholars studied. Well the historians felt that the universities were big and well built. With a large number of people staying inside. The attackers were mostly foreigners who did not know much about Buddhism. They thought these structures were forts and they attacked them. They destroyed the university and killed all the priests who were inside. The Turkish invaders had destroyed the university and the library. The Nalanda University had a huge library with a lot of books and scriptures all these were destroyed by the attackers. Some say that universities and the Viharas were also repaired from time to time. However, they could never gain back the old glory.

The university was forgotten as Buddhism lost its importance in the country.  The university was in such a bad shape that it was forgotten and abandoned eventually. In the 19th century during an excavation the university was again discovered by the archaeological survey of India. The excavation that was done in 1915 revealed eleven monasteries and six temples made of bricks. The temples were very nicely arranged on the ground. The total area covered was 12 hectares or 30 acres. A lot of sculptures, coins and inscriptions were found in the ruins. These items that were found are placed in the Nalanda Archaeological museum. Some of the manuscripts could also be found and you can find them in the various museums across the world.

After the total area was dug the university was found and it became a place of prime importance for all the Buddhist tourists. The Nalanda university bill was passed in 2010 and the whole ancient university was established again. The university was once a store house of a lot of knowledge and the knowledge had to be imparted from one generation to the other. However, something wrong happened in between and the whole university was destroyed along with all the ancient manuscripts. If these manuscripts and knowledge was there it would be good for us to understand more about how Buddhism evolved and developed. The knowledge that was lost with the destruction of the Nalanda University will perhaps never be revived. A glorious history and knowledge bank that is lost for ever. We hope that the readers will find this article interesting and informative as well. Anything destroyed can be revived not knowledge that is lost.

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