Nalanda University was the most coveted seat of Learning in Ancient Times. It is said that a prospective student was first interviewed by erudite Gatekeepers and many students were sent back. To study or to have studied at Nalanda was a matter of great prestige .
According to some people,it existed in 150 AD, but few Historians claim that it was built around 5th Century AD. University of Nalanda was established during the reign of a king called Śakrāditya. 2000 Teachers and 10,000 Students from all over the world lived and studied at Nalanda, the first Residential International University of the World. The University flourished during the 5th and 12th century.
In the University, neither a degree was granted nor was a specific period of study was required. The monks’ time, measured by a water clock, was divided between study and religious rites and practice.There were schools of study in which students received explanations by discourse, and there were also schools of debate, where the mediocre were often humbled, and the conspicuously talented distinguished. Accordingly, the elected abbot was generally the most learned man of the time.
The libraries were vast and widely renowned, although there is a legend of a malicious fire in which many of the texts were destroyed and irrevocably lost.
During the Gupta age,the practice and study of the mahayana, especially the madhyamaka, flourished. However, from 750 AD, in the Pala age, there was an increase in the study and propagation of the tantric teachings.This is evidenced by the famous pandit Abhayakaragupta, a renowned tantric practitioner who was simultaneously abbot of the Mahabodhi, Nalanda and Vikramashila monasteries. Also Naropa, later so important to the tantric lineages of the Tibetan traditions, was abbot of Nalanda in the years 1049-57.
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