India may be ranked 145th in education today, but Nalanda University was once a source of knowledge for the world. This ancient university had more than 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers, with a library housing lakhs of books including 90 lakh manuscripts. Let’s take a closer look at this magnificent university.
The Glory Days of Nalanda University:
Nalanda University had eight separate complexes and 10 temples, with many meditation halls and classrooms. The library was located in a 9-storey building and had books on literature, astrology, psychology, law, astronomy, science, warfare, history, maths, architect, and more. Students from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Iran, Greece, Mongolia, and other countries came here to study. There was a row of monasteries and 300 rooms for lectures and mathematics. Each matha had a well in the courtyard. There were also gardens, lakes, and hostels for foreign students.
The Rigorous Entrance Examination:
The entrance examination to Nalanda University was challenging, and only exceptionally brilliant students could get admission. Students had their own union and arranged for their election. The students had no financial worries as education, food, clothes, medicine, and treatment were all free for them. Two hundred villages were donated to the university for its expenses.
The Fall of Nalanda University:
After 800 years, the university was destroyed by Turkic Muslim invaders in 1193, under Bakhtiyar Khilji. The library was burnt down, and the books burned for about 6 months. 1000 monks were burnt alive, and 1000 monks were beheaded. The smoke of burning manuscripts took the form of a huge mountain. After many years, now it is being rebuilt with new architecture and new vision.
Nalanda University was one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world, and it is a shame that it fell into the hands of barbarians. Nevertheless, we must remember and celebrate its legacy as a center of knowledge and learning.