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Saturday, July 20th, 2024

Why did Khilji burn down Nalanda University? Know 7 special things about the world’s best university


Nalanda University… the oldest university in the world. It existed 500 years before the establishment of Oxford University. The world considered it a unique centre of knowledge. Home to more than 90 lakh books. Nalanda University has a history of more than 7 centuries. Today, it is famous as Nalanda Ruins. The one who turned that unprecedented university into ruins was Bakhtiar Khilji. Today, that place is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, when the new Nalanda University has been inaugurated, it becomes necessary to turn some pages of history.

Nalanda University: The world’s first residential university

Founded in 427 AD, Nalanda University is considered the world’s first residential university. It was a prestigious institution of ancient times, where more than 10,000 students from East and Central Asia came to study.

The one whose strength Dalai Lama acknowledged is Nalanda

The one whose strength Dalai Lama acknowledged is Nalanda

People from all over Asia came here to study medicine, logic, mathematics and most importantly, Buddhist principles. They were taught by the most respected scholars of the time. The Dalai Lama once said, ‘Nalanda is the source of all the Buddhist knowledge we have received’.

Aryabhatta himself was its leader, that Nalanda University

Aryabhatta himself was its leader, that Nalanda University

It is believed that in the 6th century, Aryabhata, known as the Father of Indian Mathematics, headed this university. The university regularly sent its best scholars and professors to countries like China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Sri Lanka to propagate Buddhist teachings and philosophy.

The world’s richest reserve Nalanda University

The world's richest reserve Nalanda University

The Nalanda library contained more than 9 million handwritten, palm-leaf manuscripts. It was the world’s richest repository of Buddhist knowledge. The complex was so vast that the fire set by the invaders burned for three months. The 23-hectare site excavated today is believed to be just a small part of the university’s original campus.

Nalanda Vishwavidyalaya: Three attempts were made to wipe it out

Nalanda Vishwavidyalaya: Three attempts were made to wipe it out

Scholars say that the attack in which Nalanda University was destroyed was not the first attack on this university. Before that, in the 5th century, Huns under the leadership of Mihirkul had attacked it. For the second time, in the 8th century, it suffered serious damage due to the attack of the Gauda king of Bengal.

Bakhtiyar Khilji’s attack on Nalanda University

Bakhtiyar Khilji's attack on Nalanda University

In the 1190s, the university was destroyed by a group of invaders led by the Turko-Afghan military general Bakhtiar Khilji. Khilji sought to wipe out this centre of Buddhist knowledge during his/her conquest of northern and eastern India.

Why did Khilji attack Nalanda University?

Why did Khilji attack Nalanda University?

More than eight centuries have passed since that incident. Some scholars dispute the widespread belief that Nalanda was destroyed because Khilji and his/her troops felt its teachings rivaled those of Islam. While the overthrow of Buddhism may have been a driving force behind the attack, HD Shankalia, a leading Indian archaeologist, wrote in his/her 1934 book, ‘The University of Nalanda’, that jealousy over the fortress-like nature of the complex and stories of its prosperity were the reasons for the invasion.

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