Nalanda University was once located in the town of Rajgir in India’s Bihar state. It is considered among the first few international universities in the world and India’s most valuable treasures. Moreover, it was a hub of Buddhist learning and is considered among the world’s first residential universities. It played a pivotal role in promoting arts and academics during ancient times. In this blog, we will explore one of the greatest questions associated with this epicenter of learning, who destroyed Nalanda University and why. Let’s get started with learning.
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About the University
- Nalanda University was a prestigious university during the reign of the Gupta dynasty, globally renowned for its excellence in academics.
- It was founded by King Kumaragupta somewhere around 5th-6th century BC.
- Ever since its inception, the university has been recognized as an important learning and cultural centre in the whole world.
- Even today, the university is remembered for having a massive well-organized library known as Dharma Gunj. It was filled with thousands of manuscripts, renowned Buddhist scholars as the faculty, and an exceptionally large campus.
- Nalanda University was also home to students from countries like China, Japan, and Korea.
- Although the curriculum of the university was centred on Buddhist studies, it also emphasized other branches like mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy.
Who Destroyed Nalanda University and Why?
Nalanda University was destroyed by Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khilji who is associated with laying down the foundations of Muslim rule in Bengal. However, the exact reasons behind this demolition are still debatable as historians put forward varying points of view such as:
- Religious fanaticism: Since Bakhtiyar Khilji was a devout Muslim, he might have destroyed Nalanda University to suppress other religions.
- Ransacking: Nalanda was home to a vast treasury filled with all kinds of treasures. Therefore, it is also believed that Khilj destroyed and plundered it to loot its wealth.
Attacks on Nalanda University
- Hunas: The first attack on Nalanda University occurred somewhere between 455 and 470 AD. Hunas, a central Asian tribal group, attacked Nalanda during the reign of the Gupta Empire. The primary motive behind this attack was to plunder and loot the treasures.
- Gaudas: The second attack occurred during the early 7th century and was commenced by Goudas Rajvansh, the emperor of Bengal. It is believed that the attack was motivated by political rivalry among the rulers.
- Bakhtiyar Khilji: The third attack on Nalanda University came from Bakhtiyar Khilji. It was the most destructive of all attacks that demolished the university and left the ruins. Furthermore, it is believed that the university kept burning for 3 months.
What was the Impact of the Destruction?
The impact of the destruction of Nalanda University was devastating, especially for the Buddhist community.
- The destruction of Nalanda University led to a decline in the number of Buddhist scholars.
- It resulted in massive destruction and loss of Buddhist knowledge.
- Since it was a major centre of scientific and technological innovation, the demolition resulted in slow progress in these fields.
Nalanda University Reconstruction
The initiative to reconstruct Nalanda University is a remarkable and praiseworthy endeavour. In the past few years, there has been a growing interest in its rebuilding.
- The idea to rebuild Nalanda University was first put forward by A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the former President of India. It all happened in 2006 during his address to the Bihar State Legislative Assembly.
- The government of India passed the Nalanda University Act in 2010 which gave a headstart to the project. This major act provided the legal framework for the establishment of the new Nalanda University.
- In September 2014, Nalanda University opened its fates to the first batch of students after almost eight centuries.
As mentioned before, the prestigious Nalanda University was ransacked and destroyed by Muhammad Bakhtyar Khalji somewhere is 1193 CE to 1200 CE.
The Nalanda University was situated in the town of Rajgir in Bihar, India. It was a major learning center dedicated to Buddhism. Moreover, it is believed that the university was demolished to eliminate the potential intellectual and spiritual beliefs that competed with the Islamic religion.
The Nalanda University was built by Kumaragupta of the Gupta Dynasty in the 5th century BC.
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