After a break that lasted about 800 years, classes began today at the Nalanda University in Bihar with 15 students.
The ancient Nalanda University, which functioned from 413 AD to 1193 AD, was renowned internationally as a centre of learning and attracted research scholars from all over the world. It was destroyed in the 12th century by an invading Turkish army.
For now, classes are being held at a conference centre about 100 kms from the state capital of Patna, but in about three years, the university will move to Rajgir, 12 kms from where the original once stood proud.
The revival of the university was mooted by former president APJ Abdul Kalam in 2006.
From over 1,000 applicants, just 15 have been accepted so far for two disciplines – Historical Sciences and the School of Environment and Ecology. Defending the tiny student population, Vice Chancellor Gopa Sabharwal said, “We are a research university and we wanted only the best.”
“I think this university will offer an excellent research opportunity and that’s why I am here,” said Jyotirmayee, a research scholar from Vijaywada.
Foreign students include a Bhutan University dean on study leave and a postgraduate in Buddhist Studies from Japan
The formal inauguration of the university will be held later this month by Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.
The fully-residential university, to be completed by 2020, will eventually have seven schools, all for post-graduate and doctoral students, offering courses in science, philosophy and spirituality, and social sciences. Each discipline will have a maximum of 20 students.