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Nalanda University in Bihar reopens after 800 years

Approximately 800 years after the ancient education institution was ruined, on September 1, 2014, Nalanda University (also known as University of Nalanda), in Bihar’s Rajgir district, commenced its first academic session. Nalanda is a Central University in Rajgir, about 55 miles south east of Patna, near Nalanda, Bihar, India. The university is envisioned to re-establish the older Nalanda University which was one of the oldest ancient higher-learning institutions. Nobel Laureate Dr. Amartya Sen is the Chancellor of the University.


Historical studies advocate that the University of Nalanda was originally established in the 5th century AD during the reign of a Gupta King called Śakrāditya (also known as Kumāragupta, reigned (415-55)). Both Xuanzang ((602-664) a Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveller, and translator) and Prajñavarman (a Bengali Buddhist writer) cite Śakrāditya as the founder. A Seal discovered at the site also confirms Śakrāditya as the founder of the University. Śakrāditya’s identity is uncertain and who is not a historical character, he might  have been either Kumaragupta I or Kumaragupta II.

Some buildings were constructed by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka the Great (273–232 BCE). As per the Historians, Nalanda prospered between the reign of the Gupta king Śakrāditya and 1197 CE, supported by patronage from Buddhist emperors like Harsha as well as later emperors from the Pala Empire.

Nalanda University (NU) was one of the world’s first residential universities, as it had dormitories for students. In its peak it housed over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. The complex was built with red bricks and its ruins occupy an area of 14 hectares. The university was respected as an architectural masterpiece, and was marked by a tall wall and one gate. There were 8 distinct compounds and 10 temples, together with many meditation halls and classrooms. There were lakes and parks on the grounds. The library was located in a 9-storied building where meticulous copies of texts were produced.

Xuanzang (a Tang Dynasty Chinese pilgrim and scholar) studied, taught and spent nearly 15 years at Nalanda University. He left thorough descriptions of the university in the 7th century. Yijing ((635–713 CE), was a Tang Dynasty Chinese Buddhist monk, originally named Zhang Wenming) also left information about kingdoms lying on the route between China and the Nālandā university. He was translated a large number of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Chinese.

At its peak, the university appealed scholars and students from China, Greece, Indonesia,  Japan, Korea, Persia, Tibet and Turkey. The subjects taught comprised: Astronomy, Architecture, History, Law, Linguistics, Medicine, Metallurgy, Pharmacology,  Public HealthReligion and Sculpture. 

Nalanda University was ruined 3 times by invaders, but reconstructed only twice:-

  • First Destruction: By the Huns under Mihirakula during the reign of Skandagupta (455–467 AD). Later, Skanda’s successors started the restoration, developing it with even larger buildings, and gifted it with ample resources to let the university sustain itself in the longer span.
  • Second Destruction: By the Gaudas in the early 7th century. This time, the Bauddha King Harshavardhana (606–648 AD) restored the Buddhist university.
  • Third Destruction: Destroyed in a Turkish attack led by Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1193. Scholars also mark this event as a late milestone in the fall of Buddhism in India. The Persian historian Minhaj-i-Siraj, in his records the ‘Tabaqat-i Nasiri’, reported that thousands of monks were burned alive and thousands beheaded as Khilji tried his best to uproot Buddhism.

Notable scholars who studied at Nalanda included:

Asanga, Aryadeva, Dharmakirti, Dharmapal, Harshavardhana, Hwui Li, Nagarjuna, Padmasambhava, Shantarakshita, Suvishnu, Vasubandhu and Xuanzang (the reputed founder of Buddhism in Tibet). Shilabhadra (Silavadra) was a Buddhist monk and philosopher. He is best known as being an abbot (a man who is the head of a monastery) of Nālandā monastery in India, He was an expert on Yogācāra teachings, and was personal tutor of the Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan: New President of Turkey

TurkeyRecep Tayyip Erdogan was sworn in as 12th President of Turkey. He was sworn-in a ceremony held at Parliament of Turkey in Ankarra.

The ceremony was attended by Heads of state from a number of countries in Eastern Europe, Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East. Previously he was Prime Minister of Turkey from 2003 to 2014, and he was chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Ahmed Davutoglu: New PM of Turkey

TurkeyTurkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has been named the new Prime Minister of the country. He will succeed Recep Tayyip Erdogan as PM. A close ally of Mr Erdogan, Mr Davutoglu has held the job of foreign minister since 2009. On August 10, 2014, Mr Erdogan won the country’s first direct presidential poll.

India becomes permanent member of Washington Accord

A long wait for India ended when the country became a permanent member of the Washington Accord, an esteemed international treaty on engineering studies and mobility of engineers across signatory countries including the US, the UK and Australia. Permanent membership reflects on the country’s stature in the technical education space. Until now, India has been just a provisional member since 2007.

The meeting of the International Engineering Alliance of WA member nations met in Wellington, New Zealand and gave India the signatory status to join the select group of nations who are permanent signatories to the Washington Accord (WA). This will ensure highest quality assurance standards to be implemented in our technical and engineering programmes and provide global mobility to our engineering graduates​. It will significantly enhance their employment opportunities around the world.

The Washington Accord:

It is an international accreditation treaty for professional engineering academic degrees, between the bodies responsible for accreditation in its signatory nations. Initially when the Washington Accord came into force in 1989, only 6 developed countries were its members.

As of 2014, the signatories are: Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong China, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The accord acknowledges that there is significant uniformity of programs accredited by those signatories. Every signatory countries recognizes the graduates of accredited programs by every other signatory countries as having met the academic requirements for entry to the practice of engineering. Recognition of accredited programs is not retroactive but takes effect only from the date of admission of the country to signatory status.

The treaty covers undergraduate engineering degrees under Outcome-based education approach. The accord doesn’t take into account engineering technology and postgraduate programs, although some engineering technology programs are covered under the Sydney Accord and the Dublin Accord. Only qualifications granted after the signatory country or region became part of the Washington Accord are recognized. The pact is not directly responsible for the licensing or registration of Professional Engineers and Chartered Engineers, but it does cover the academic prerequisites that are part of the licensing processes in countries party to the accord.