Shravan Krishna 14, Vik.Samvat 2073. Yugabda 5118: 1 August 2016

1.   FESTIVALS: Ladakh celebrates Hemis Festival 2016

 2.  Implement Uniform Civil Code: Rashtra Sevika Samiti




6.  MBA chucks job, roots for environment



9.  Sureshrao Ketkar a role model of dedicated life: Dr. Bhagwat

10. Vishnu Mandir in Greater Toronto installs 50-feet Lord Hanuman statue



13. UNESCO world heritage tag to three more Bharatiya sites

14.  Another PIO becomes junior minister in May's cabinet


16. Two Bharatiyas among 2016 Ramon MagsaysayAward winners

17.  Hindus welcome yoga launch in Minnesota State Fair

18. Building 700 ft Vrindavan temple: A mix of faiths, expertise and nationalities

19.   Self-purification the ultimate solution to achieve social harmony: Indresh Kumar

20.  Australia announces $ 2, 50,000 for 'Festival of India'



23. Gujarati touch to South Asia festival

24. Foreign tourist arrivals grew by 7.3% in June 2016 over same period during last year





1.   FESTIVALS: Ladakh celebrates Hemis Festival 2016: Ladakh's famous two-day Hemis festival organized by the Drukpa Order- the most revered Buddhist lineage of the Himalayas concluded on July 18 at the Hemis Monastery in Leh. Tens of thousands of visitors andP devotees from across the globe participated in this event. The festival celebrates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, the 8th century Bharatiya saint who spread Vajrayana Buddhism throughout the Himalayas. His Eminence Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche, one of the spiritual regents of the Drukpa Order, blessed the event and its participants.

To commemorate this event, participants dress in their traditional attire and don the town in symbols of Ladakhi culture and heritage. The first day of the festival featured the monks of the Drukpa Order performing 'Chams' - an ancient mask dance performed to the sounds of cymbals, drums and long horn  as they recite stories associated with the Drukpa Buddhism. On the second day, a 400 years old embroidered silkthangka (religious tapestry) depicting Guru Padmasambhava was revealed during the festival which is revealed once in 12 years in the early morning hours from dawn till noon.  Tucked in a hidden valley, about 45 kilometres from Leh, the Hemis Monastery is a 400 year old monastery of the Drukpa Order, which has become a focal point of Ladakhi tourism in the recent years. -goTop


2.  Implement Uniform Civil Code: Rashtra Sevika Samiti has passed a resolution demanding immediate implementation of Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha of the Samiti was attended by over 200 kaaryakartrees from all over the country to deliberate on various matters pertaining to the spread and strengthening of its activities. Addressing a press conference at Devi Ahalya Mandir, Nagpur on July 18, the last day of its three-day meeting, Samiti's Pramukh Karyawahika Annadanam Seetha Gayatri said that in all the developed countries all the citizens are treated at par without any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, colour, regions or sex. The term civil code is used to cover the entire body of laws governing relating to property and otherwise in personal matters like marriages, divorce, maintenance, adoption and inheritance. As things stand there are different laws governing these aspects for different communities in Bharat. The Samiti has an opinion that because of the different laws for different communities, there is a rise in separatism, terrorism and the exploitation of women, she said.  -goTop


3. HINDU WAY CAN PROVIDE ALTERNATIVE MODEL OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: BHAGWAT: Describing Hinduism as an inclusive way of living, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghchalak Dr Mohanrao Bhagwat reiterated that Hinduism is more inclusive and not exclusive. He was speaking at the concluding programme of the 3-day mega residential Sanskriti Maha Shibir organised by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) in the UK as part of its Golden Jubilee celebrations.

On the evening of 31st July at Hertfordshire County Show Ground, near Luton, London near about 2200 delegates from different parts of Europe participated in this unique camp.

Bhagwat spoke about the positive aspects of Hinduism which believed in the principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family). Further, he said that the world will flourish when all cultures in their diversity are respected. Expressing his concern over the ongoing conflict between environment and development, Dr Bhagwat said that Hinduism has the answer to mitigating this global conflict and provide an alternative for sustainable development on the values enshrined in Hindu philosophy.

Earlier, on July 29, Dr Mohanrao Bhagwat inaugurated the Sanskriti Mahashibir-2016. Sahsarakaryavah Dattatreya Hosabale, Dr Ram Vaidya of HSS UK Unit, other senior functionaries were present during the inaugural. During the three-day camp, there were discussions on 'Sanskaar' (values of life), 'Sewa' (selfless service) and 'Sangathan' (community spirit).

The Mahashibir was addressed among others by Swami Dayatmananda, Head, Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre UK, Swami Nirliptananda, Head, London Sewashram Sangh UK and Acharya Vidya Bhaskar, Omkarananda Ashram Switzerland.  -goTop


4. HRSC SETS UP LIBRARIES WORTH KSHS.2.5M IN FIFTEEN SCHOOLS: Hindu Religious & Service Centre (HRSC) committee members made a trip on 23rd July 2016 to Wamunyu, 120kms in Machakos District of Kenya.  A donation of Kenyan Shs. 2.5million was made to 14 schools of Educational Libraries, Metal Cupboards to store the Books, Fuel Efficient Jikos and 100 Mango Seedlings were planted in each of the 14 Schools.

A warm welcome was accorded by around 2500 students, parents, teachers, Wamunyu Area Chief and the Education Officer. Students from various schools entertained the guests with songs, dances and poems. The entertainment by the students conveyed a very good message to the public to refrain from stealing and corruption.  -goTop


5. COMPASSION OFFERS SOLUTION TO MANY PRESENT-DAY CONCERNS: BHAGWAT: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat pitched for spread of compassion as he said practising the value offers solution to many present-day concerns like extremism of all forms, materialism and self-centredness among people.

"We need to understand what is at the core of our religious traditions. Satya (truth) and shuchita (piousness) are at its core and both are not possible without compassion." Bhagwat said.

He was speaking during launch of a book titled "Compassion in 4 Dharmic Traditions" compiled by Prof Ved Nanda for Oberoi Foundation on 26th July at New Delhi. The event was attended by BJP veteran LK Advani and Union Minister for Science, Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan. Advani suggested that no religion permits criticism of the other and stressed that "one who does not perceive as wrong religion-based ideologies is the one who accepts other religions too".  -goTop


6.  MBA chucks job, roots for environment: Anil Satapathy, who belongs to the tribal area of Mayurbhanj in Odisha, studied MBA in Rajasthan and was hired by a pharmaceutical company in Ahmedabad. He never took up the job. In 2002, he started working with an NGO that dealt with water-related issues in Dahod.

Satapathy's work since 2012 has focused on select villages in Panchmahal and Chhota Udepur districts. It involves water conservation for which he encouraged tribals to repair four check dams. He has also spurred the tribal people to work on afforestation and has so far motivated them to plant around 15,000 trees - mostly medicinal - in eight villages. Satapathy drew like-minded people, including professionals and even retired government servants, to his campaign. "Environmental, social and economic development is interlinked. Education is a must for development," he said.  -goTop


7. BAL GOKULAM CHILDREN TO SHAPE FUTURE OF BHARAT: Bal Gokulam, a forum designed to enable children to rediscover Hindu cultural roots, learn ancient values in an enjoyable manner and to develop a sense of sewa as well as service to humankind, has emerged as a big children movement. In Hyderabad, 50 Bal Gokulams are run in various apartment complexes. One of such Bal Gokulams at RV Avaneendra Apartments in Miyapur celebrated its fifth annual function on July 17. The participating children demonstrated various cultural activities. It was attended by more than 250 parents and others in the nearby apartment areas

Retd DCP Shri S Satyanarayana highlighted the need of yoga and the important role it plays in everyone's life. He said these kinds of programmes are the need of the hour for the present generation, and they need to reach out to more localities. Shri Ayush Nadimpalli, RSS Prant Prachar Pramukh explained how the Bal Gokulam is shaping the future of Bharat through saving the culture and heritage and making children proud of their past and cultural roots. Bal Gokulam Mahanagar Pramukh Shri Vikrant Shah and RSS IT Milan Karyavah Shri Milind Shakhai were also present.  -goTop


8. REFORM & EQUITY IN CALIFORNIA TEXTBOOKS APPROVED: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on July 14 that the State Board of Education approve the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, which will update and upgrade history and social science instruction in California.

Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation also announced that important progress had been made in the effort to ensure that Hinduism and Bharat are presented equitably and accurately in the aforementioned framework. Approved after a nearly two-year long process, the framework, with the input from multiple Hindu American community groups, parents and schoolchildren, now incorporates prominent mention of Hinduism's pluralistic ethos, Hindu sages of diverse backgrounds, and the importance of the Bhakti movement.  -goTop


9.  Sureshrao Ketkar a role model of dedicated life: Dr. Bhagwat: "Senior Pracharak and former Sharirik Pramukh Sureshrao Ketkar was a sparkling example of a perfectly dedicated life. He relentlessly worked for the nation and the society. He accepted, adopted and imbibed the RSS in his personality and lived for it all through his life to maintain a flow of its tradition.  A firm resolve to continue with that tradition will be the true tribute to this great soul", said RSS Sarsanghchalak Dr Mohanrao Bhagwat at Nagpur on 22nd July.

Bhagwat was speaking at a condolence meeting organised to mourn the loss of Sureshrao Ketkar who passed away recently at Latur after a prolonged illness. Tributes were paid to late Ketkar by a several organisations including Rashtra Sevika Smaiti, BJP, VHP, VKA, BKS, ABVP etc.  -goTop


10. Vishnu Mandir in Greater Toronto installs 50-feet Lord Hanuman statue: A 50 feet idol of Lord Hanuman was installed on July 2, in Vishnu Mandir in Richmond Hill in Greater Toronto area, which was established in 1979. Morari Bapu, a popular Hindu Kathakaar from Bharat, led the installation ceremony. This temple has a tagline "Institution that nurtures families from Cradle to Golden years". The Mandir also regulates a Canadian Museum of Bharatiya Civilization exhibiting Hinduism, Anand Bhavan Senior's Home, Academy of Learning & Montessori School for 2.5 to 6-year-old, Global Care Outreach Program in Guyana, Bal-Vihaar program for 5-16 years-old, toddler's program, sangeet Academy for encouraging Bharat's music and dance, and Lakshmi Sabha Women's Club for the enrichment of women-mentioned a report.

Lord Hanuman, the devotee of Lord Rama, is greatly worshipped in Hinduism and is known for his incredible strength and devotion towards Rama. Hinduism has about one billion supporters around the globe and it is the third largest religion.  -goTop


11.  FIGHTING AGAINST DROUGHT WITH A DIFFERENCE: RSS Jankalyan Samiti Maharashtra did a commendable job while dealing with the drought hit regions of the state. During the drought, the State Government made various efforts to supply drinking water to the affected people, but it proved inadequate, as there was no provision for storing such water. The Janakalyan Samiti, while taking timely initiatives provided water tanks with the capacity of 2,000 and 5,000 liters in about 200 villages, which proved to be as the great relief to the affected people. In addition to it, the Samiti provided water through tankers to 52 villages in Latur, Beed, Dharashiv, Solapur, Pune, Parabhani and Sambhajinagar Districts.

Apart from it, the Samiti organised cattle camps in 17 villages wherein the cattle were provided feed throughout the drought period. Four cattle camps in Latur, three in Beed, two in Dharashiv, two in Solapur, one in Sangali, one in Nagar, two in Nashik, two in Pune were organised. A total of 14,403 cattle were provided with feed in all these camps.

In order to provide drinking water, the Samiti made arrangements at 20 places in Latur city and also at famous temple in Tuljapur. As a part of the long term solution, the Samiti undertook massive escavation work at various ponds and small rivers in Latur, Dharashiv, Jalna, Sambhajinagar, Parbhani, Solapur, Nagar, Beed, Satara and Pune.

Apart from distributing water containers to 200 families of Latur city, the Samiti made food arrangements for 60 students from the drought his areas appearing for examinations of 11th and 12th standard.  -goTop


12. DATTATREYA HOSABALE PAID TRIBUTES TO BASAVESHWARA STATUE IN LONDON: RSS Sahsarakaryavah Dattatreya Hosabale paid tribute to Sri Basaveshwara statue in London on 28th July. The Former Mayor of Lambeth Dr Neeraj Patil had invited him on behalf of The Basaveshwara Foundation.

Dattatreya Hosabale expressed his tribute to Basaveshwara for contribution to democracy and social justice. He said, "I am extremely pleased to see the statue of an Indian philosopher in the backdrop of British Parliament overlooking the river Thames".  -goTop


13. UNESCO world heritage tag to three more Bharatiya sites: After the inclusion of Nalanda University of Bihar in the UNESCO list of world heritage, Capitol Complex in Chandigarh and Khangchendzonga National Park (KNP) in Sikkim also made up to the list on July 17.The decision was taken during the the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee at Istanbul in Turkey. The Khangchendzonga National Park is the first 'mixed' heritage site from Bharat to make it to the list. A 'mixed site' means the heritage has qualities of both natural and cultural significance. The development has made the list of Bharatiya sites at UNESCO' World heritage list to 35, which includes 27 cultural sites, seven natural sites and one mixed.

Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) was established in 450 CE under the patronage of the Gupta emperors, notably Kumara Gupta.  -goTop


14.  Another PIO becomes junior minister in May's cabinet: British lawmaker Alok Sharma has been named parliamentary under secretary of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), becoming the second Bharatiya-Origin minister in PM Theresa May's cabinet.The 48 year old MP who had previously served in a special role of infrastructure envoy for Bharat in the David Cameron led Government, was named in the latest set of junior ministerial posts announced by Downing Street on July 17. He was first elected to the British parliament in May 2010 and was re-elected in May 2015 from Reading West.In his new role in the FCO, Sharma will work closely with newly appointed foreign secretary Boris Johnson and is likely to be handed the charge of Bharatiya affairs.  -goTop


15. INDIAN FILM: SUPERSTAR RAJINI, INDIA'S DOUGHY, BALD MEGA HERO: Rajinikanth, a balding 65-year old doyen of Tamil cinema, has acted in over 200 films. In "Kabali" he is an ageing gangster, who serves 25 years in a Malayasian jail and returns home in search of his family. The flashback shows a young Rajini as a union leader fighting for the rights of the downtrodden Tamil minority in Malayasia.

Kabali raked in $16m on its opening weekend in India and another $12.6m overseas, smashing box-office records. On Friday July 22, tickets fetched 1,500-5,000 rupees ($23-$75 on the black market. A few companies in south India declared a holiday; Air-Asia, a low-cost carrier, flew fans in planes with a Kabali-themed livery (Rajini's face painted in super-size on the fuselage) for a special screening in Chennai. "It was like a carnival", says Arun V, a consultant who drove from Bangalore to Chennai to catch the film. (From 'The Economist',  July 30th 2016 issue).  -goTop


16. Two Bharatiyas among 2016 Ramon MagsaysayAward winners: Human rights activist Bezwada Wilson (50) and Carnatic musician Thodur Madabusi Krishna (40) are winners of the 2016 Magsaysay Award from Bharat. Other winners are Dompet Dhuafa from Indonesia, the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, Vientiane Rescue from Laos and Conchita CarpioMorales of the Philippines.

Born in a Dalit family involved in manual scavenging in Karnataka, Wilson has spent last 30 years fighting against the practice. Krishna, often referred to as the enfant terrible of Carnatic music, has constantly challenged the inherent non-inclusivity of the genre. He has won the award for showing that music can indeed be a deeply transformative force in personal lives and society.  -goTop


17.  Hindus welcome yoga launch in Minnesota State Fair: Hindus have commended Minnesota State Fair, claimed to be "one of the largest expositions in the world", for introducing yoga this year. Called "The Great Yoga Get-Together at Carousel Park" and asking fair-goers to "stop by to try different styles of yoga", it will offer experienced instructors leading a variety of classes and will also include activities, prize drawings and giveaways and sharing information about the benefits of yoga.  -goTop


18. Building 700 ft Vrindavan temple: A mix of faiths, expertise and nationalities - The Chandrodaya Temple being built in Vrindavan at 700 ft, will be three times the height of Delhi's Qutub Minar. But what is more unique about the project is that the temple is being constructed - both in terms of funding and logistical support - by people of several faiths and nationalities.

A project by Bengaluru devotees of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON), the temple is being worked on by 25 specialist consultants from across the world. The core architectural team itself comprises of people from different faiths. Narsimha Dass, the senior vice-president and project director said Krishna had never meant the message of Bhagavad Gita only for Hindus, and was for everyone who believed. "This has been the driving spirit of ISKON... (which is why) even in the construction of the temple, people from all faith including Muslim, Hindu, Christian or Sikh are involved and this makes it a structure of international acceptance," he added.

"Planned at a cost Rs 700 crore, the temple will have four halls - one for Acharya Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKON, one for Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu, one for Radha Krishna and the Astha Sakhis, and one for Sri Krishna Balaram, Dass said, "Once constructed, it will be the tallest and largest religious structure inBharatcovering an area of 5 acres".  -goTop


19.   Self-purification the ultimate solution to achieve social harmony: Indresh Kumar: "To thwart the destruction of our culture and traditions the whole society needs to cleanse the internal dirt by rising above caste, religion and all kinds of discriminating tendencies", said Indresh Kumar, senior RSS functionary. 

He was addressing a gathering at Kurukshetra University on a seminar organised by Forum for Awareness of National Security (FANS) on the role of police, society, and panchayat in curbing drug abuse, female foeticide, unemployment and caste-based discrimination.

The seminar was addressed by Mahamandaleswar Yateendra Nath Giri, Indresh Kumar, Haryana Minister Ram Vilas Sharna, Air Marshall R C Bajpai, Dr Kamal Gupta, MLA, Kapil Agrawal, MLA, Reshma Singh, Subhash Yadav IG, Rajpal IG and others.

The speakers in the seminar debated on social evils such as drug abuse, corruption, murder, domestic violence, caste-based discrimination, community conflicts, riots and all other such things that have flourished due to an unethical and contaminated mindset of society.  -goTop


20.  Australia announces $ 2, 50,000 for 'Festival of India: Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's coalition government has announced $ 2,50,000 to support the 'Confluence: Festival of India in Australia' this year. The Australian High Commission in New Delhi had in an official release said the festival will be held from August to November and will bring an exciting and diverse program of the finest classical and contemporary performing and visual arts from India to the audiences across six Australian cities. The festival will also include a number of community activities and collaborations with local artists.  -goTop


21. CENTRE PAYS TRIBUTE TO MISSILE MAN WITH LIFE-SIZE STATUE: A life-size statue of former President APJ Abdul Kalam was unveiled on 27th July at Pei Karumbu near Rameswaram as a tribute to the 'Missile Man' on his first death anniversary. The Modi Government also announced inclusion of his hometown Rameswaram under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) by relaxing the eligibility norms under the Central scheme.

Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu unveiled the statue of Bharat Ratna Kalam at an event at Pei Karumbu which was attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Pon Radhakrishnan among many other dignitaries.

Parrikar also laid a wreath as a tribute to the former president.   -goTop


22. HOMAGE TO SWAMI PURNANAND JI: Swami Purnannanda ji who had done yeomen service to the Hindu society in Mauritius for over 50 years breathed his last on 22nd July 2016. Born in 1926 in Gujrat, Swami ji migrated to Mauritius in 1962 and founded Sanatan Sarvodaya Sabha and constructed Sanatan Sarvodaya Ashram in 1972. Swami ji has performed hundreds of kathas in so many remote villages apart from the bigger ones and towns in Mauritius. His last rites were performed in Bharat near Jamnagar.

He was a well-wisher and strong supporter of Sangh. Several Sangh adhikaris have stayed at Sarvodaya Ashram, Triolet over the last four decades. While paying rich tributes to Swamiji, Dr Shankarrao Tatwawadi, former Vishwa Vibhag samyojak described the demise as great loss to Hindu society in Mauritius.  -goTop


23. Gujarati touch to South Asia festival: Tushar Unadkat, a Barodian settled in Canada, became the first Gujarati to direct the grand festival. Organized on July 16-17, the festival was organized by Gerrard India Bazaar BIA - a non-profit organization registered in Canada. "The unique feature of this year's fest was 'gully' that gave visitors an experience of rural areas in south Asian countries. From rangoli exhibitions, roadside tea-vendors and kite exhibition to an array of visual, literary and performing arts, the festival offered everything to the participants," Unadkat told from Canada.  -goTop


24. Foreign tourist arrivals grew by 7.3% in June 2016 over same period during last year: Drawing positive results in tourism in the country, the month of June 2016 saw 7.3% growth in Foreign Tourist arrivals over the same period in 2015. Also in a major highlight, Rs. 10,732 Crore rupees were collected in Foreign Exchange Earned (FEE) through Tourism in June 2016.  -goTop


25. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Dr Mohan Bhagwat RSS Sarsanghachalak and Dattatreya Hosabale sahsarkaryavaha returned to Bharat from UK while Saumitra Gokhale samyojak Vishwa Vibhag returned to USA after the Sanskriti Mahashibir in UK. Dr Ram Vaidya sahsamyojak will start tour of Kenya, and East African countries, Mauritius, Seychelles and Nigeria.Visitors: Ma. Prof Ved Nanda, Surjit Deb, and Pravin Dhir - USA; Anil Nene - UK; Yashwant Sharma - Thailand; Ma. Jaiprakash Goel - Hong Kong; Sanjiv Bhakri - Australia; Ajay Singh - New Zealand.

FOOD FOR THOUHGT: He who has let go of hatred, who treats all beings with kindness and compassion, who is always serene, unmoved by pain or pleasure, free of the "I" and "mine, self-controlled, firm and patient, his whole mind focused on me --- that is the man I love best. -  The Bhagavad Gita  -goTop





Ramakant Tiwari

Today, Nalanda is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and hopefully this tag will bring tourists from around the world to this ancient institution and compel the authorities to protect and preserve this important piece of our civilisational history

"Nalanda Mahavihara arya vikshu sanghasya", these words were inscribed on several plaques, discovered while excavating a huge mound covered with wild vegetation in Bargaon, an obscure village of Bihar in 1861. Thus was established, beyond doubt, the existence of an elite educational institution at Nalanda that had also been mentioned by Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang in his famous travelogues. The legendary British Director of the Archeological Survey of India, Sir Alexander Cunningham, had declared the travelogues as an authentic chronicle of history and not merely a figment of imagination.

Today, the historic site at Nalanda has been included as a World Heritage Site by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. It is a great honour and tribute for all that the site carries in itself.

'Nalanda' is syntax of 'Nalam' ie the lotus of wisdom and 'Da' ie the deliverer. True to its name, the fourth century Nalanda Mahavihara was the first major residential university in the world, financially and otherwise, supported not only by native monarchs but also by overseas patrons from place such as Java and Sumatra. After flourishing and disseminating world-class education for more than 600 years, it was finally burnt into ashes by Muslim barbarian-invaders who had no respect for other faiths, talent and achievements, in 1193. Sixth century monarch Kumargupta of the Gupta dynasty was the founder-patron of the Mahavihara. During the reign of King Harsa of Kannauj, in 606-647 AD, the university evolved into a dynamic, international institution, enjoying patronage from all over. The royal patronage ended with the Pal dynasty that ruled over Bengal and Bihar of today. Three more contemporaries viz Vikramsila and Odantapuri in Bihar and Somapura Mahavihara in Paharpur (now in Bangladesh), were also supported by the Pal dynasty. Of these, Vikramsila posed tough competition for Nalanda with respect to academic excellence and research. Hindu and Buddhist monarchs were equally disposed towards these institutions in terms of financial support and patronage.

With 10,000 students on campus, 2,000 teachers from Bharatvarsa, China, Tibet, Siam, Persia, Korea, Java, Sri  Lanka, Japan, Sumatra, Nepal and Greece, Nalanda Mahavihara spread across a 50 square kilometre area had mind-boggling infrastructural facilities. Revenue collected from 200 villages underwrote all expenses, and campus education was completely free.

Nalanda also had an interesting admission procedure. With four gates on four sides, every student aspirant was required to outdo the learned gatekeepers with his intellectualism and answers at the gate itself, before being allowed to enter into the campus for admission. With one Nagarjuna being the first Principal-Master of the Mahavihara, it had very eminent scholars like Vasubandhu, Asanga, Silabhadra, Dharmakriti and Aryadeva as faculty teachers.

The entire Mahavihara was always pulsating with scholarly discussions, debates, intellectual arguments and intellectual rejoinders with advanced education offered in disciplines like theology, geography, logic, mathematics, philosophy, grammar, metallurgy, metaphysics, aviation, architecture, chemistry, cosmology, astrology and astronomy, tantra, medicine and surgery, ayurveda, and the languages. It produced scholars like Aryabhatta, Varahamihira, Kalidasa and Vatsayayana. Hiuen Tsang too taught for sometime after completing his education therein.

The Nalanda campus, the first residential university in the world, was equipped with 108 units with every unit having 30 well-furnished rooms, central assembly hall, various prayer halls and numerous stupas scattered around. Parks, pavements, rest-halls, water canal flowing through the campus, excellent drainage system and a gigantic central kitchen adorned the campus. Every student-room had a stone-bed, locker, book-shelves and a place to pursue meditation.

Ratna-Sagar, Ratna-Ranjika and Ratna-Uday were three huge libraries. The nine storied Ratna-Sagar central library was the largest of its kind in the world, had some of the finest manuscripts in the world and the collection of books was so huge that the marauders, when they attacked the place, had to spend a whole six months before they could burn down the whole place.

The campus was a marvel of architecture, and reflected the amalgamation of two different architectural schools ie the Gupta and the Pal. In its town planning too, Nalanda was marvellous. When other contemporary civilizations were struggling to become civilised human beings, Nalanda offered wisdom and lifestyle of the highest order.

The gradual decline of Nalanda began with the augmenting influence of Buddhist tantra, and the final nail in the coffin was struck by Bakhtiyar Khilji, one of the generals of Qutb-ud-din Aibak, in the year of 1193.

The Mughals destroyed Nalanda and Vikramsila Mahaviharas in one go, they beheaded and burnt alive most of the students and teachers, vandalised entire campus beyond wildest imagination, set the library building with invaluable manuscripts on fire - the ugly dance of destruction continued for days together. A glorious intellectual history of 700 years was destroyed in the most despicable and brutal manner.

Nalanda was re-discovered in the early 19th century. After the area was deserted, it became a dense jungle. A new village with the name Bargaon came up on the same location later. When British geographer Buchanan Hamilton wrote a study on several Hindu and Buddhist images scattered around the village, Sir Cunningham conducted a scientific excavation in 1861.

With the study of a large number of inscriptions, coins, copper plates, idols etc recovered from the site, the amazing splendour of Nalanda came to the fore. There were several subsequent rounds of excavations - in 1872, then from 1915 to 1936, and even between 1974 and 1982, which revealed artifacts like images, murals, plaques, the Mahavihara seal and the finest terracotta. Most of these are preserved in museums in Patna, Nalanda and Kolkata.

Today, Nalanda is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and hopefully this tag will bring tourists from around the world to this ancient institution and compel the authorities to protect and preserve this important piece of our civilisational history. (Daily Pioneer, 25 July 2016 -goTop

Shri Vishwa Niketan