Nalanda University: From Golden Age Glory to Devastating Destruction by Bakhtiyar Khilji

 If we talk about a great university today, the names that first come to mind are Oxford and Cambridge. But let me tell you an amazing thing, about 1500 years ago the story was quite different, because at that time there was a university in India which is one of the oldest universities in the world today, its name is Nalanda University.

it was one of the world's first universities, flourishing for over 700 years.

Nalanda University was a treasure trove of knowledge. It taught not only religious texts but also many subjects such as literature, theology, logic, medicine and philosophy. And what's more, there was a 9-storey library built to provide a wealth of knowledge on every subject, containing not lakhs or two lakhs but more than 90 lakh books.

Nalanda also suffered the brunt of attacks many times, but finally in the 12th century, Bakhtiyar Khilji burnt Nalanda to ashes in an attack and it is believed that its library burnt for 3 months and the treasure of knowledge that was carefully preserved was lost in smoke. The ruins of which can still be seen on this 57 acre site.

So the question arises that what happened in such a big and prestigious university that Nalanda University of that time has become just a history today, so let's know the history of Nalanda University

Before we go into why Nalanda University was burnt down, let's find out why Nalanda University was so special.

The Golden Age of India

So let's talk about Nalanda University. It was started during the Gupta Dynasty, the same Gupta Dynasty whose rule is called the Golden Age of India.

A center for Buddhist scholars, it attracted students and teachers from all over Asia, making it almost an international institution.

Nalanda University was the first university in the world where accommodation facilities were available for students and thousands of monks, saints, gurus and disciples lived together. They all lived and studied together. In fact, Nalanda was almost an international institution. Chinese monks like Xuan Zang, Yijing, Huichao lived, studied and taught here.

Scholars and monks from Sri Lanka and Tibet also came here to study and then spread the knowledge they learned here to their own countries. Today, universities document their lectures and seminars so that the knowledge can be passed on to future generations. As we all know, knowledge only compounds over time, but in the old days there was only one way to store knowledge, it was kept in the form of manuscripts or books in a library or university.

Such universities used to be the main seat of Buddhism at that time and that is why those who survived Bakhtiyar's atrocities fled to Tibet to save their lives

In fact, the Dalai Lama himself has commented that the Tibetan Buddhist tradition is a direct continuation of the Nalanda tradition. Apart from this, great mathematicians like Aryabhata were also the heads of this university. From this we know that Nalanda was not only an epicenter of Indian culture and Buddhism, but also of educational and scientific research. So now, when the university was so important, why would anyone want to destroy it?

The Nalanda University Destroyed Story

The story of the destruction of Nalanda University began in the year 1193 when Bakhtiyar Khilji entered India. Bakhtiyar Khilji was from the Khilji dynasty of Afghanistan. He had obtained a position in the Delhi Sultanate, but he was not getting any decent work there.

The destruction of Nalanda was a major setback for education and scholarship in India and Asia.

But even then, after showing his bravery in a few battles, the owner of the land gave him shelter in his army and state. And since then, it was as if his luck had opened up. Because in this state, he not only got shelter but also jagirs. And what was to happen then? He immediately started invading some parts of Bihar and making it his own. And this is where the story of the destruction of Nalanda University begins.

During this time, Khilji's health was deteriorating badly and he was suffering from a serious illness. Even the doctors who came with him were not able to cure him. So in such a situation, Khilji got the news that there is only one person who can cure him and that is Acharya Rahul Shribhadra, the head of the Ayurvedic department of Nalanda.

The Great Acharya Rahul Shribhadra

At first, Khilji ignored this, but when his condition worsened, he was forced to come to Acharya Ji. But even then, the arrogance was not going away from his tongue. Khilji even challenged Acharya Ji that he would not take any medicine given by him and if he is really intelligent, then he should cure him without any medicine.

He was reputed to have high medical knowledge and skill.

And Acharya Ji agreed to this and after a few days he allowed him to read the Quran. Now Khilji started reading the Quran and within a few days his health started improving. Seeing this, Khilji was stunned and tried to find out the whole truth.

And then Acharya Ji told him that he had applied medicine on the pages of the Quran, so when he was turning the pages, the medicine was slowly being absorbed into his body. Hearing this, Khilji was furious and said that he could not tolerate the fact that people of other religions and countrymen had such education and knowledge that his countrymen did not have. And that's where the evil idea came to his mind. He thought that if he wanted to conquer this whole country, then first he would have to attack its roots, which is the education here. And in this anger, he set fire to the entire Nalanda University.

Books Burned in Nalanda University

A university that was such an important center of education and knowledge in India that it took 3 months to burn the 90 lakh books present in it. Here I would like to clarify that this may seem like just a story to some people because the information that is available in the public domain right now tells something like this. But one thing is not just a story, that is that Nalanda was destroyed and it was destroyed by Bakhtiyar Khilji. And this is not being said by our Indian history.

Boasted a 9-story library with over 9 million books, a treasure trove of knowledge on various subjects.

Rather, the Persian Muslim historian Minhaj-us-Siraj, who wrote in 1260, himself described the entire incident and the losses that occurred in it in detail in his book Tabakat I Nasiri.

So before Nalanda University was burnt down, this university had been teaching the world for 700 years. But despite this, Nalanda could not withstand the test of time. Therefore, on the initiative of Dr. Abdul Kalam, Nalanda was reborn as a modern international university. Universities like Nalanda are proof that India's knowledge has been illuminating the world for centuries. We hope that history will repeat itself and every person looking for the best education will say, "It happens only in India."