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Buddhist center Nalanda destroyed (1193)

Nalanda was a preeminent institution of higher learning until destroyed.
Nalanda was a preeminent institution of higher learning until destroyed.

Nalanda was a center of higher learning in India prior to a Turkish incursion. The center gained international renown and attracted scholars from the far east, west, and middle east. The Gupta Dynasty supported the institution during its peak. However, the Turkish Muslims eventually overran the region, destroyed Nalanda, and murdered its scholars in cold blood.

The Gupta Empire ruled most of India into the seventh century A.D. The University of Nalanda incorporated sometime during the Gupta Dynasty. During its first three centuries, the college focused on liberal academic traditions. However, it shifted to a more eastern Buddhist philosophy sometime in the ninth century.

The Buddhist institution contained at least eight different colleges with red brick buildings. Monasteries cropped up in the region and merged with Nalanda to create a greater learning network. The university gained world renown over its existence. Scholars from Greece, China, and Persia visited Nalanda to study.

After about six centuries of existence, Turkish Muslims arrived, but did not display the same respect as the other foreign visitors. In 1193, the Turks brutally sacked Nalanda, burnt the library, and massacred the scholars. The invaders burnt monks alive or simply beheaded them. The atrocity was designed to supplant Buddhism with Islam. The library smoldered for months.

Nalanda survivors moved to Tibet and formed the Mulasarvastivada Buddhist school. Others remained behind to try and keep Nalanda operational. These efforts ended around 1400 and the site abandoned. In recent years, several countries including India and Japan have discussed restoring the old university at the historic site.

The Gupta Dynasty housed one of the world's first universities. Nalanda thrived for centuries as an institution of higher learning. The school attracted scholars and students from around the world. However, the Turkish Muslims arrived in 1193 to destroy the Buddhist school. Nalanda survived for a time after the destruction, but eventually disappeared into history.