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20th June 2024 (10 Topics)

Nalanda University

Context

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the new campus of Nalanda University at Rajgir, Bihar. The University is conceived as a collaboration between India and East Asia Summit (EAS) countries. The University has a deep connection with history. The original Nalanda University, established around 1600 years ago, is considered to be amongst the first residential universities in the world. The ruins of Nalanda were declared as a UN Heritage Site in 2016.

Key-facts regarding Nalanda University:

  • Nalanda University holds a significant place in the history of education, serving as one of the oldest residential universities globally.
  • Establishment: It was established around 427 CE by Gupta Emperor Kumaragupta I. Later, it also received patronage from Harshavardhana and the Pala rulers. 
  • Founded 1600 years ago, Nalanda is recognized as the world's first residential university, pre-dating Oxford and Bologna by over 500 years.
  • Curriculum: The university offered a diverse range of subjects including Buddhist scriptures, philosophy, mathematics, logic, astronomy, and medicine.
  • Regarded as the second-oldest university in the world after Takshashila, it served as a residential campus and existed for 800 years.
  • Decline: Nalanda began its decline during the late Pala period but faced devastation during Bakhtiyar Khilji's invasion around 1200 CE. The library, housing millions of manuscripts, was famously burned for three months.
  • Historical Travellers: Accounts from Chinese travelers like Hiuen-Tsang and I-Tsing provide detailed insights into the university's academic and cultural richness.
  • UN Heritage Site: The ruins of Nalanda were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016, underscoring its global historical significance.

Fact Box: Takshila

  • Founded in: 5th-6th century BCE. 
  • The world’s first University was established in Takshila or Taxila or Takshashila (now in Pakistan).
  • This centre of learning was an important Vedic/Hindu and Buddhist center of learning.
  • Chinese travellers like Fa Hian (Faxain) and Huien Tsang (XuanZang) also speak of Takshila in their writings.
  • Takshashila is perhaps best known because of its association with Chanakya (Chanakya's famous treatise ArthaShastra is said to have been written in Takshashila).

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