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The Return Of Nalanda In The 21st Century

July 2007
The Return Of Nalanda In The 21st Century

It's not just cutting-edge American universities that are making headway in India these days. Plans are also afoot to revive an ancient university, long known to be of the greatest early centers of learning in recorded history. Founded in the 5th century B.C. as an institution for Buddhist studies, it grew quickly, added other subjects to the curriculum, and went on to flourish for many centuries, attracting both learners and the learned not only from India but also from Southeast Asia, East Asia and West Asia. Located in present-day Bihar, Nalanda housed 2000 scholars and 10,000 students at the peak of its influence. In early 2007, an old gate belonging to the university was found near the ruins. In Singapore this month, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen is leading a panel of experts to explore the revival plans for this ancient seat of learning. The chief minister of Bihar is acquiring 500 acres for it, as per one source, and "in the first phase of the project, seven schools and 46 foreign faculty members and over 400 Indian academics would be established." If UNESCO adds the Nalanda ruins to its list, Bihar will be home to a new World Heritage Site and a new World Class University for the 21st century.

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