The long-awaited dream of setting up an international university at
Nalanda, the famous Buddhist centre of learning in Bihar, is about to
come true.The Bihar assembly unanimously approved the University of
Nalanda Bill for setting up an international university.Nobel laureate
Amartya Sen and Scholar like Lord Meghanand Desai have agreed to be
part of an international group of consultants for setting up the
university. The state government will also rope in experts from
Singapore , Japan,Korea ,China for the university.
Japan and Singapore have shown interest in investing about $100 million
in the university. Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama has offered to
donate Buddhist artefacts to the proposed university.
The University of Nalanda Bill, 2007, states that the
international university would strive to create a world free of war,
terror and violence.Mr.Nitish Kumar,the chief minister of Bihar said:
"This (bill), which is not only for Bihar or even India, will act as a
facilitator for what will emerge as a centre for renaissance of the
east. I strongly feel that the university will become a reference point
for international relations and a centre for peace and resolution of
disputes," he said.
In its first phase, the university will offer only post-graduate,
research, doctoral and post-doctoral degrees. The university will
impart courses in science, philosophy and spiritualism along with other
subjects. An internationally known scholar will be the chancellor of
the university and 1,137 students from both India and abroad will be
enrolled in the first year. By the fifth year, the number will go up to
4,530 and in the second phase, student enrolment will increase to
The university, spread over a 500 acres, will have a 1:10
faculty-student ratio. The architectural remains of the ancient Nalanda
university are all set to become the second World Heritage site in
Bihar after the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya.
India has approached Unesco (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organisation) to turn Nalanda university into a World Heritage site.
The university, a fifth century architectural marvel, was home to over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers.
Nalanda is the Sanskrit name for "giver of knowledge". The Nalanda
University, which existed until 1,197 AD, attracted students and
scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey,
besides being a pedestal of higher education in India.
Though it was devoted to Buddhist studies, the varsity also trained
students in subjects like fine arts, medicine and mathematics.The
proposed university will be fully residential like the ancient Nalanda
seat of learning. In the first phase it will have seven different
schools with 46 foreign faculty members and over 400 Indian academics,
The university will impart courses in science, philosophy and
spiritualism along with other subjects. An internationally known
scholar will be the chancellor of the university. Nalanda is the
Sanskrit name for "giver of knowledge".
Much before the Oxford,Bologna,Harvard or Yale came into existence
,Nalanda was the greatest univversity. Founded in 427 in northeastern
India,now a state called Bihar, and surviving until 1197, Nalanda was
the first great university in recorded history.
The university was an architectural and environmental masterpiece. It
had eight separate compounds, 10 temples, meditation halls, classrooms,
lakes and parks. It had a nine-story library where monks meticulously
copied books and documents so that individual scholars could have their
own collections. It had dormitories for students, perhaps a first for
an educational institution, housing 10,000 students in the university’s
heyday and providing accommodations for 2,000 professors.
. Its demise was a result of the burning of the buildings by Muslim
invaders. Nalanda represents much of what Asia could use today ? a
great global university that reaches deep into the region’s underlying
cultural heritage, restores many of the peaceful links among peoples
and cultures that once existed, and gives Asia the kind of soft power
of influence and attraction that it doesn’t have now. Asia can
rediscover its ancient roots, using the Nalanda project as a
The rebuilt university should strive to be a great intellectual center,
as the original Nalanda once was. The original Nalanda was the first to
conduct rigorous entrance exams. The old university had world-class
professors who did groundbreaking work in mathematical theorems and
astronomy. It produced pre-eminent interpreters and translators of
religious scriptures in many languages.
The new Nalanda should try to recapture the global connectedness of the
old one. . A new Nalanda, starting as it will from scratch, could set a
benchmark for mixing nationalities and cultures, for injecting energy
and direction into global subjects and for developing true
Though, Nalanda was a Buddhist university, it was remarkably open to
many interpretations of that religion. Today it could perform a vital
role consistent with its original ethos ? to be an institution devoted
to religious reconciliation on a global scale. . Can Asia pull this
off? for their benefit or the world’s.