Nalanda has been a seat of knowledge for over eight centuries in the ancient kingdom of Magadha. It has been a renowned centre for learning from the 5th century until it was destroyed by Bakhtiyar Khilji in the 12th century. Nalanda is proclaimed as, “One of the most important universities in the world, was developed not in the medieval west, but right here in India: Nalanda University… was instrumental in producing people who are capable of understanding and articulating what it means to have universal knowledge, knowledge that is applicable across cultures and across times.” (Dr. Geoffrey Durham)
The Nalanda University attracted scholars and students from near and far, some travelling all the way from Tibet, China, Korea and Central Asia in quest of knowledge. It was a centre of excellence not only for Ancient Indian wisdom, Buddhist studies and philosophy but for Medicine and Mathematics, Astronomy and Logic as well. After teaching thousands of students for centuries, Nalanda ceased to exist just as universities were opening up in Bologna, Paris and Oxford at the beginning of the second millennium CE. The shift of centres of knowledge from East to West was symbolic of the eventual transfer of power which followed within half a millennium.
There is now a perfect opportunity to recreate the hallowed universalism of Nalanda as a centre of knowledge. The second millennium CE ended with a tremendous resurgence of Asia after centuries of stagnation, division and decline. Asia is today synonymous with a dynamic entrepreneurial and innovative culture, based on knowledge and enterprise not forgetful of its past yet not afraid to face the future. Asian countries are coming together to forge a continent based on the foundations of peace and harmony. The decision of the East Asian Summit in 2007, at its meeting in Cebu, Philippines, to endorse the plan to re-establish the Nalanda University underscores the commitment to these values. The aim is to rebuild Nalanda as a seat of knowledge.