Excavated Remains at Nalanda
Nalanda is one of the most ancient international centers of education and learning equivalent to modern universities, with a very rich library. An inscribed seal written "Sri-Nalandamahavihariy-Arya-Bhikshu-Sanghasya" identifies the site as Nalanda Mahavihara.
Nalanda has a very ancient history and goes back to the days of Mahavira and Buddha in sixth and fifth centuries B.C. Many references in the Pâli Buddhist literature mention about Nâlandâ. It is said that in course of his journeys Buddha often halted at this place. It is also the place of birth and nirvana of Sariputra, one of the famous disciples of Buddha.
The place rose into prominence in 5th Century A.D. as a great monastic-cum-educational institution for oriental art and learning in the whole Buddhist world, attracting students from like Hiuen Tsang and I-Tsing from China and other distant countries. The galaxy of luminaries associated with it includes Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Vasubandhu, Dharmapala, Suvishnu, Asanga, Silabhadra, Dharmakirti, Shantarakshita. Another important mention in history, is that around second century, Suvishnu built one hundred and eight temples at Nalanda to prevent the decline of the Hînayâna and Mahâyâna schools of Buddhism.
Various subjects like theology, sabda-vidyâ grammar, hetu-vidyâ (logic), astronomy, metaphysics, chikitsâ-vidyâ medicine and philosophy were taught here. The accounts of pilgrim state that Nâlandâ was bustling with literary activities.
Nâlandâ had now acquired a celebrity spread all over the east as a centre of Buddhist theology and educational activities. This is evident from the fact that within a short period of thirty years following Hiuen Tsang's departure, no less than eleven Chinese and Korean travelers are known to have visited Nalanda.
Life lead by Nalanda monks is regarded as the ideal to be followed by the Buddhist all over the world. This celebrity status persisted through ages. It is also attributed that a detailed history of Nalanda would be the history of Mahayanist Buddhism.
The institution was maintained by the revenue collected from the villages bestowed specifically for the purpose by the contemporary rulers as evident from inscriptions. Royal patronage was therefore the key note of the prosperity and efficiency of Nâlandâ.
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