Nalanda is known as the
ancient seat of learning, where ruins of the great ancient
university have been excavated, is situated at a distance
of 90 km south east of Patna by road & 62 kms from Bodhgaya.
It falls on way to Rajgir. It is also linked by rail with
Patna, Rajgir and Bakhtiyarpur (on Delhi-Howrah main track).
Hieun Tsang, the renowned Chinese traveller
of the seventh century, says that according to tradition the
place owed its name to aNaga of the same name which resided
in a local tank. But he thinks it more probable that Lord
Buddha, in one of his previous births as Bodhisatwa, became
a king with his capital at this place and that his liberality
won for him and his capital the name Nalanda or "Charity
without intermission". The third theory about
the name of the place is that it derived from Nalam plus da.
Nalam means lotus which is a symbol for knowledge and Da means
given the place had many lotuses.
Nalanda has a very ancient
history. It was frequently visited by Lord Vardhamana Mahavir
and Lord Buddha in the 6th century BC. during his sajourns,
the Lord Buddha found this place prosperous, swelling, teeming
with population and containing mango-groves. It is also supposed
to be the birth place of Sariputra, one of the Chief disciple
of the Lord Buddha.
The University of Nalanda was founded in the 5th century by
the Gupta emperors. There were thousands of students and teachers.
The courses of study included scriptures of Buddhism (both
Mahayana and Hinayana Schools), Vedas, Hetu Vidya (Logic),
Shabda Vidya (grammar), Chikitsa vidya (medicine) etc. The
university received royal patronage of the great emperor Harshavardhana
of Kannauj and also pala kings.