World’s Oldest University is Reborn

Store this away for the next time you play Jeopardy! or are at trivia night, or you just meet someone who might be interested to learn about Nalanda University in Eastern India, which was destroyed in 1193, could rise again thanks to a Nobel Prize-winning economist.

During the six centuries of its storied existence, there was nothing else quite like Nalanda University. Probably the first-ever large educational establishment, the college – in what is now eastern India – even counted the Buddha among its visitors and alumni. At its height, it had 10,000 students, 2,000 staff and strove for both understanding and academic excellence. Today, this much-celebrated centre of Buddhist learning is in ruins.

After a period during which the influence and importance of Buddhism in India declined, the university was sacked in 1193 by a Turkic general, apparently incensed that its library may not have contained a copy of the Koran. The fire is said to have burned and smouldered for several months.

[…] Writing when plans for Nalanda were first announced, Jeffery Garten, a professor in international business and trade at the Yale School of Management, said in the New York Times: “The new Nalanda should try to recapture the global connectedness of the old one. All of today’s great institutions of higher learning are straining to become more international… but Asian universities are way behind.” He added: “A new Nalanda could set a benchmark for mixing nationalities and culture, for injecting energy into global subject. Nalanda was a Buddhist university but it was remarkably open to many interpretations of that religion. Today, it could… be an institution devoted to global religious reconciliation.”

The only problem is the plan has to pass Indian Parliament and they still have to raise $1 Billion dollar to rebuild the facility and get the university off the ground.

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