Revival of Ancient Nalanda Mahavihara

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What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in News?
  • The Ancient Nalanda Mahavihara
  • Revival of Nalanda University
  • Features of the New Nalanda University Campus
  • Highlights of the PM's Address at the New Nalanda University Inauguration

Why in News?

  • The Prime Minister of India inaugurated the new campus of Nalanda University in Rajgir, Bihar.
  • The new campus is near the ancient ruins of Nalanda University, which was established through the Nalanda University Act 2010, enacted following a decision made at the 2nd East Asia Summit in the Philippines in 2007.

The Ancient Nalanda Mahavihara:

  • Nalanda was a renowned Buddhist mahavihara (great monastery) in ancient and medieval Magadha (modern-day Bihar), near the city of Rajagriha (now Rajgir) and about 90 kms southeast of Pataliputra (now Patna).
  • It was established by Kumargupta I - the ruler of Gupta Empire (c. 3rd to 6th century CE), and is considered to be among the greatest centres of learning in the ancient world.
  • It played a vital role in promoting the patronage of arts and academics during the 5th and 6th century CE, a period that has since been described as the "Golden Age of India" by scholars.
  • The chronicles of seventh century Chinese traveller Hsuan Tsang provide the most detailed description of ancient Nalanda.
  • After Guptas, Nalanda continued to thrive with the support of the rulers of the Pala Empire and may have been attacked (in 1190s) and damaged by Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji - a Turko-Afghan military general.
  • After being lost for six centuries, the university was rediscovered in 1812 by Scottish surveyor Francis Buchanan-Hamilton.
  • Later (in 1861), it was officially identified as the ancient university by Sir Alexander Cunningham.
  • The current site of Nalanda is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Government of India enacted a law in 2010 to revive the famous university
  • The contemporary Nalanda University at Rajgir has been listed as an "Institute of National Importance" by the Government of India.

Revival of Nalanda University:

  • In a bid to revive its legacy, the idea to re-establish Nalanda University was proposed by former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam in 2006.
  • In 2007, the proposal to re-establish Nalanda was endorsed at the East Asia Summit in Mandaue, Philippines, and was reiterated in the East Asia Summit of 2009, in Hua Hin, Thailand.
  • This vision gained momentum with the passing of the Nalanda University Bill in 2010 in the Indian Parliament, leading to its operational launch in 2014 from a temporary location near Rajgir.
  • Former president Pranab Mukherjee laid the foundation stone for the permanent campus in 2016 at Pilkhi village, Rajgir.
  • Construction commenced in 2017 and the university became fully functional by 2022, culminating in the inauguration of the new campus recently.
  • In total, 17 countries other than India, including Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, etc - have helped set up the university.

Features of the New Nalanda University Campus:

  • The architecture of the university, situated on a sprawling 455 acres of land, fuses both the modern and ancient styles.
  • The new campus integrates eco-friendly architecture, ensuring a net-zero carbon footprint.
  • The university currently operates six schools, covering Buddhist studies, historical studies, ecology, sustainable development, languages, literature, and international relations.
  • Additionally, it hosts four centres specialising in Bay of Bengal Studies, Indo-Persian Studies, Conflict Resolution, and a Common Archival Resource Center.
  • It offers a range of programs including postgraduate and doctoral research courses, short-term certificate courses, and scholarships for international students, reflecting its commitment to global academic excellence.

Highlights of the PM's Address at the New Nalanda University Inauguration:

  • Nalanda University is a proclamation of the fact that knowledge cannot be destroyed by fire.
  • Nalanda University would add a new dimension to the idea of world brotherhood and become the identity of India’s development journey.
  • The Renaissance of Nalanda will tell the world about India’s capacity and will help India become a global hub for knowledge and education.
  • History was proof that all developed countries became economic and cultural leaders only after they made a mark in the field of education.
  • India currently has 23 IITs, 21 IIMs and has witnessed the setting up of one university every week in the last 10 years, along with establishment of an industrial training institute every 10 days.
  • Major reforms are going on in the education sector, which includes the National Education Policy 2020.

Q.1. Why is the period during the Gupta empire known as a golden age? 

The Gupta Age (from the mid-3rd century CE to mid-6th century CE) is called the golden age because of the advancements in art, literature, religion, medicine, and science. Many later Indian societies were inspired by the Gupta.

Q.2. What is the East Asia Summit (EAS)?

The EAS is a regional forum held annually (first summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2005) by leaders of the 18 nations (ASEAN + Six + Russia and the United States). It plays an important role in the regional architecture of Asia-Pacific.

Source: Narendra Modi in Bihar highlights: ‘Nalanda is an identity, an honour, ’ says PM | IE | IE