Last modified on 1 September 2014, at 16:45

Nalanda University

For the ancient town and university, see Nalanda.
Nalanda University
Nalanda University Logo.png
University Logo
Established 5th century by Gupta Kings
Chancellor Amartya Sen[1][2]
Vice-Chancellor Gopa Sabharwal[3]
Location Rajgir, near Nalanda, Bihar, India
Campus Urban
446 acres (180 ha)
Website Nalanda University(official)

Nalanda University (also known as University of Nalanda) is a Central University in Rajgir, near Nalanda, Bihar, India. The first academic session began on September 1, 2014. Over 1,000 applications from students around the world were received. It was initially decided to enroll 40 students – 20 each in two schools – but after scrutiny and interview only 15 were selected. [4] The university is intended to re-establish the older Nalanda University which was one of the oldest ancient higher-learning institutions. Originally the university was established in the 5th century AD by Gupta Kings.



The seal of Nalanda University set in terracotta on display in the ASI Museum in Nalanda
The remnants of the library of Nalanda University which is reported to have burned for three months after invaders set fire to it, ransacked and destroyed the monasteries, and drove the monks from the site.

Historical studies suggest that the University of Nalanda was established during the reign of a king called Śakrāditya.[5] Both Xuanzang and Prajñavarman cite him as the founder, as does a seal discovered at the site.[6]

Nalanda University was one of the world's first residential universities, as it had dormitories for students. It is also one of the most famous universities. In its heyday it accommodated over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers.[7] The university was considered an architectural masterpiece, and was marked by a lofty wall and one gate. Nalanda had eight separate compounds and ten temples, along with many meditation halls and classrooms. On the grounds were lakes and parks. The library was located in a nine-storied building where meticulous copies of texts were produced.

The Tang Dynasty Chinese pilgrim and scholar Xuanzang studied, taught and spent nearly 15 years at Nalanda University.[8] He left detailed accounts of the university in the 7th century.[9] Yijing also left information about kingdoms lying on the route between China and the Nālandā university. He was responsible for the translation of a large number of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Chinese.

Destruction and demiseEdit

Nalanda University was destroyed three times by invaders, but only rebuilt twice. The first destruction was by the Huns under Mihirakula during the reign of Skandagupta (455–467 AD). But Skanda's successors promptly undertook the restoration, improving it with even grander buildings, and endowed it with enough resources to let the university sustain itself in the longer term.[10]

The second destruction came with an assault by the Gaudas in the early 7th century. This time, the Bauddha king Harshavardhana (606–648 AD) restored the Buddhist university.[10]

The final blow came when the university was violently destroyed in a Turkish attack led by Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1193.[10][11] this event is seen by scholars as a late milestone in the decline of Buddhism in India. The Persian historian Minhaj-i-Siraj, in his chronicle the Tabaqat-i Nasiri, reported that thousands of monks were burned alive and thousands beheaded as Khilji tried his best to uproot Buddhism.[citation needed]


At its peak, the university attracted scholars and students from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Turkey, Greece, and Persia.[7][12][13] The subjects taught included religion, history, law, linguistics, medicine, public health, architecture, metallurgy, pharmacology, sculpture and astronomy.

Notable scholars who studied at Nalanda included Harshavardhana, Vasubandhu, Dharmapal, Suvishnu, Asanga,Dharmakirti, Shantarakhsita, Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Padmasambhava (the reputed founder of Buddhism in Tibet), Xuanzang and Hwui Li.[14] Shilabhadra (Silavadra) was the teacher of the Chinese traveler/monk Hiuen Tsang during 645 AD. He came from Comilla, Bangladesh.

Formation and reconstructionEdit

Nalanda University BillEdit

On 28 March 2006 then President of India A.P.J.Abdul Kalam proposed the idea while addressing the Joint Session of the Bihar Vidhan Mandal for revival of Nalanda university. The Nalanda University Bill, 2010[15] was passed on 21 August 2010 in Rajya Sabha and 26 August 2010 in Lok Sabha. The bill received Presidential assent on 21 September 2010[16] thereby becoming an Act. The University came into existence on 25 November 2010, when the Act was implemented.

International fundingEdit

Japan and Singapore are financing the construction work, with contributions totaling around US$100 million.[17] Gopa Sabharwal has been appointed the first Vice-Chancellor of this university in February 2011.

It has been estimated that US$500m will be required to build the new facility, with a further US$500m needed to sufficiently improve the surrounding infrastructure. The group is looking for donations from governments, private individuals and religious groups.[7]

The State Government of Bihar handed over 443 acres of sprawling land acquired from local people, to the University, where construction work has begun. It is a dream project of the former Indian president APJ Abdul Kalam.[18]

Infrastructure and architectureEdit

For best architectural design, a global competition was held for construction of an international state-of-the-art institution.[19][20] Vastu Shilpa Consultants have been selected as the winner of the design competition with dbHMS providing the triple net-zero energy, water and waste strategic plan.[21]


The Academic Session of the University has been scheduled to start on 1 September 2014 with 40 Students in the School of Historical Sciences and the School of Environment and Ecology. A hotel operated by Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation in Rajgir would provide initial hostel accommodation.[4]

Organization and administrationEdit

Governing BoardEdit

In 2007, the Government of India constituted a Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG) under the Chairmanship of Professor Amartya Sen to examine the framework of international co-operation, and proposed structure of partnership, which would govern the establishment of this University as an international centre of education. The University of Nalanda is proposed to be established under the aegis of the East Asia Summit (EAS), as a regional initiative. The NMG also has representatives from Singapore, China, Japan and Thailand.

Later the Nalanda Mentor Group was renamed the Governing Board of Nalanda University.[22]

The Governing Board of Nalanda University[22] consists of:

Schools and departmentsEdit

  • School of Historical Studies
  • School of Environment and Ecological Studies
  • School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religion
  • School of Languages and Literature
  • School of International Relations and Peace Studies
  • School of Information Sciences and Technology
  • School of Business Management (Public Policy and Development Studies)[23]


  • On 9 December 2006, the New York Times detailed a plan to spend $1 billion to revive Nalanda University near the ancient site. A consortium led by Singapore and including China, India, Japan and other nations will attempt to raise $500 million to build a new university and another $500 million to develop necessary infrastructure.[13]
  • On 28 May 2007, Merinews reported that the revived university's enrolment will be 1,137 in its first year, and 4,530 by the fifth. In the second phase, enrolment will reach 5,812.[24]
  • On 12 June 2007, News Post India reported that the Japanese diplomat Noro Motoyasu said that "Japan will fund the setting up an international university in Nalanda in Bihar." The report goes on to say that "The proposed university will be fully residential, like the ancient seat of learning at Nalanda. In the first phase of the project, seven schools with 46 foreign faculty members and over 400 Indian academics would come up." ... "The university will impart courses in science, philosophy and spiritualism along with other subjects. A renowned international scholar will be its chancellor."[25][26]
  • On 5 May 2008, NDTV reported that, according to Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, the foundation of the university would likely be in the year 2009 and the first teaching class could begin in a few years from then. Sen, who heads the Nalanda Mentor Group, said the final report in this regard, is expected to be presented to the East Asia Summit in December 2008.
  • On 11 May 2008, The Times of India reported that host nation India and a consortium of East Asian countries met in New York to further discuss Nalanda plans. It was decided that Nalanda would largely be a post-graduate research university, with the following schools: Buddhist Studies, Philosophy, and Comparative Religion; Historical Studies; International Relations and Peace; Business Management and Development; Languages and Literature; and Ecology and Environmental Studies. The objective of the university was claimed to be "aimed at advancing the concept of an Asian community...and rediscovering old relationships."[31]
  • On 16 December 2010, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao contributed US$1 million for the Nalanda University during his visit to India.[32]
  • In May 2011, George Yeo confirmed his support of the project to Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.[33] During May, Nitish Kumar also met SM Krishna to receive reassurement that the Central Government would allocate sufficient funds to the project.[34]
  • On 7 July 2011, iNewsOne reported that a global competition will be held to get the best architectural design for the Nalanda International University at the ancient seat of learning in Bihar, officials said. For the sake of the best design for Nalanda university, a global competition will be held soon,' said N.K. Singh, a member of the Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG) headed by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.[35]
  • On 16 September 2011, Zee News reported that former president APJ Abdul Kalam has dissociated himself from the upcoming Nalanda International University in Bihar.[29][36][37]
  • On 15 Nov 2011 the Economic Times announced that China's ambassador to India, Zhang Yan had handed over a cheque of USD 1 million for the building of a Chinese-type library.[38]
Rear view of Sariputta's stupa.
  • On 1 May 2012, Zee News announced that architecture students from the National University of Singapore had drawn up a master plan for the revival of the ancient Nalanda University. They wished to present this draft plan to the Nalanda University directors later this year and participate in the final competition for Nalanda campus master plan, according to Ng Si Jia, the group leader of the architecture students from the National University of Singapore.[39]
  • Times of India reported that the work for the construction of the University would begin by December 2013.[40] It would be a "Net Zero" campus and will use green technologies like DEVAP. Vastu Shilpa Consultants of Ahmedabad won the Architecture Design Contest for the university and will build the campus.
  • In May 2014, Times of India reported that Nalanda University will start classes from September 2014.[41]

Popular cultureEdit

Based on inspiration from ancient Nalanda University, Naropa University was established in 1974 at Boulder, Colorado in the United States of America.[42]


  1. ^ "Amartya Sen to be chancellor of Nalanda International University". Daily News and Analysis. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "Amartya Sen named Nalanda University Chancellor". The Times of India. 20 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "DNA special: How PMO shot down Pranab’s choice for Nalanda Vice Chancellor". Daily News and Analysis. Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Nalanda International University begins its first Session". IANS. Retrieved 1 Sep, 2014. 
  5. ^ Altekar, Anant Sadashiv (1965). Education in Ancient India, Sixth, Varanasi: Nand Kishore & Bros.
  6. ^ Sukumar Dutt (1962). Buddhist Monks And Monasteries of India: Their History And Contribution To Indian Culture. George Allen and Unwin Ltd, London. p. 329. ISBN 81-208-0498-8. 
  7. ^ a b c Buncombe, Andrew (4 August 2010). "Oldest university on earth is reborn after 800 years". The Independent (London). Retrieved 13 July 2011. 
  8. ^ "The new Nalanda University". Retrieved 13 July 2011. 
  9. ^ Rene Grousset (1971). In the Footsteps of the Buddha. Orion Press. p. 159. ISBN 0-7661-9347-0. 
  10. ^ a b c "Nalanda's glorious past a uniting factor in future". Retrieved 13 July 2011. 
  11. ^ Scott, David (May 1995). "Buddhism and Islam: Past to Present Encounters and Interfaith Lessons". Numen 42 (2): 141. doi:10.1163/1568527952598657. 
  12. ^ Nalanda Digital Library. "Nalanda Digital Library-Nalanda Heritage-Nalanda,the first residential international University of the World". Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  13. ^ a b "Really Old School," Garten, Jeffrey E. New York Times, 9 December 2006.
  14. ^ "Nalanda University – History". Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  15. ^ "Bill No. XLIX of 2010: THE NALANDA UNIVERSITY BILL, 2010". Retrieved 4 November 2011. 
  16. ^,%202010%20(39%20OF%202010).pdf
  17. ^ "Nalanda International University: A Great Initiative". Retrieved 18 August 2008. 
  18. ^ Sinha, Ashish (14 August 2008). "Nalanda University set to reopen in '10, Amartya on faculty?". The Times of India. Retrieved 14 August 2008. 
  19. ^ "Global competition for Nalanda university design". Retrieved 13 July 2011. 
  20. ^ "Global design competition for Nalanda university". Retrieved 13 July 2011. 
  21. ^ "Winner of Design Competition". Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  22. ^ a b "Governing Board of Nalanda University". Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  23. ^ "The Seven schools of Nalanda University". Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  24. ^ "Nalanda Int’l University: A commendable initiative", K.jha, Ashok, Merinews, 28 May 2007.
  25. ^ "Japan Eager To Invest in Nalanda University," News Post India, 12 June 2007.
  26. ^ "Press release (PR) distribution / newswire service from India PRwire". 16 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  27. ^ "Kalam to join Nalanda University soon," The Times of India, 15 August 2007.
  28. ^ "Kalam to join Nalanda Univ soon". Hindustan Times. 15 August 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  29. ^ a b "APJ Kalam dissociates himself from Nalanda Univ". 16 September 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  30. ^ "Kalam not ready to reconsider decision on Nalanda: Nitish, IBN Live News". 19 September 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  31. ^ "Nalanda to move from ruins to riches", 11 May 2008.
  32. ^ "China contributes USD 1 million for Nalanda University [ News # 106258]". 16 December 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  33. ^ "The Straits Times". The Straits Times. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  34. ^ "CM seeks funds for Nalanda university – TOI Mobile | The Times of India Mobile Site". 19 May 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  35. ^ [1][dead link]
  36. ^ "Kalam opts out of Nalanda University revival project". Hindustan Times. 18 September 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  37. ^ "APJ Abdul Kalam dissociates himself from Rs 2000 crore Nalanda University project". The Times of India. 16 September 2011. 
  38. ^ "China donates one million $ for Nalanda University revival". The Times of India. 15 November 2011. 
  39. ^ "Singapore students' master plan for Nalanda Univ". 1 May 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  40. ^ "Nalanda University campus work to begin this December". The Times of India. 13 June 2013. 
  41. ^
  42. ^ "The Story of Naropa University". Naropa University. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 

External linksEdit


Coordinates: 25°04′48″N 85°16′12″E / 25.08000°N 85.27000°E / 25.08000; 85.27000