Nalanda University is an epitome of excellent architecture and higher learning during the 5 century. The ruins of the site cover an area of 14 hectares, which is located in Nalanda, Bihar. It is called ‘one of the first finest and greatest universities in world history’. It was known as the largest Buddhist monastery in Magadha, presently known as Bihar. Students and Scholars from various countries like China, Greece, Korea, Persia, Sri Lanka, Central Asia and many more were attracted to the ancient capital of higher wisdom and learning. Nalanda University flourished under the patronage of the Gupta Dynasty with 10,000 students and 1,500 teachers. The University was the first institute which imparted knowledge of law, politics, philosophy, arts and science. Magadh was a centre of Buddhism, that made a higher influence on other monks as well.
It is more likely the scholars who came from different countries, wrote journals and descriptions which brought us into the knowledge, a whole lot about Nalanda University. Xuanzang and Yijing were pilgrims from China who have mentioned in their travelogue the greatness of Nalanda University. The beauty of this place was impeccable. The holistic and divine surrounding gave a perfect example of harmony between man and nature.
As per the inscriptions, travelogue and artefacts, historians say Nalanda was the capital of Magadha. Back then this place was identified as capital for Jain and Buddha preachings as two founders and preachers: Jain preacher, Mahavir, who had spent 14 rainy seasons and Buddha preacher, Gautam Buddha, who enlightened with a source of life and knowledge at this very place. In the 3rd century, Mauryan ruler, Ashoka, also made the place important by building the temple, which later on continued by two Mahayana philosopher Nagarjuna and Aryadeva as an institution for learning and teachings of Mahayana. So initially it was monk monastery who taught teachings of Mahayana.
Nalanda University along with Taxshilla had a glorious past from 5 century to 12 century CE. It was the center of knowledge, learning and wisdom. Even the teachers here were known for their profound and deep knowledge in their fields. Students and scholars around the world would visit Nalanda University to gain knowledge and stay to satiate hunger for learning. The students have imparted the knowledge and teachings of Mahayana by the monks. The Gupta Dynasty made a remarkable contribution to building Nalanda University and facilitating all kinds of requirements of monks. The Gupta kings were Brahmins, so they knew the value of learned people in a society. Kumargupta contributions made it flourish during his reign. All the successors of Gupta Dynasty made their contribution and skills to build Nalanda University greatest of all during their rule. It was king Harsh, ruler of Kannauj was the only patron who converted into Buddhist and served the monks for the university. Scholars learned a variety of subjects like Hinyana (with all 18 sects), Mahayana, medical science, Philology and Grammar, a complete study of Vedas, Sanskrit, law astronomy, city planning and many more.
Later when Pal dynasty came into existence, who were builders, started patronizing the University. They followed Mahayana and Tantric education, It was the inner conflict and rise of black magic(tantra vidya) made the university decline from its glory.
With the invasion of Muslim rulers, all scripts and inscriptions were destroyed by Bakhtiyar Khilji of the Mamluk Dynasty. The army ransacked the university and massive destruction was made around. It is believed that the army of Bakhtiyar Khilji burnt the records and inscriptions for 3 months. n 1193CE, Bakhtiyar Khilji, served in Awadh as a commander and wanted to raise the reign. So he attacked Nalanda Univesity and tried to destroy all the inscription and artefacts related to Buddhism. His army sacked and demolished various parts of the university. They even killed hundreds of monks and tried burning library, which took around 3 months made further generation lacking inscription in the present date.
Nalanda University was one capital of learning higher studies was at its peak during 5 century to 12 century for a variety of subjects. The Gupta Dynasty played an important role in building and patronizing Nalanda University. But during the Pal dynasty, the rise in tantric practice made it lose its charm and started declining. With the invasion of Turkish commander, Bakhtiyar Khilji ransacked and destroyed the University. This can be considered a major loss of inscripts, those were written for the welfare of society. The remains of Nalanda University still tell their story of glory and the decline with time.