and/or www.mantra.com/jai (Dr. Jai Maharaj)
2009-03-17 08:09:32 UTC
Monday, March 16, 2009
Nalanda: A Forgotten Genocide
Thousands of tourists from all over the world visit the
ruins of Nalanda every year, located in Bihar a northern
state in India. Some visit it for spiritual uplifting while
others visit the ruins to marvel its architectural glory.
For followers of dharmic traditions, Nalanda has been a
sacred place since the days of Buddha. Indeed, Buddhist
texts mention that The Enlightened One himself had visited
Nalanda several times. It is also a sacred place in the
Jain faith. It is believed that Mahavira, a central figure
in Jainism, is said to have attained Moksha (Salvation)
Nalanda as a university was established by the Gupta
Emperors (who followed the Vedic religion) around 450 CE.
Nalanda is considered the world's first modern university.
It was the first university with a campus structure for
higher studies. In its glory days it is said to have
housed more than 10,000 students along with 2,000 teachers,
monks and priests. Although it was considered mainly a
center of Buddhist studies, it was also a center of Vedic
and Jain studies. In addition to theology many secular
subjects such as science, mathematics, and medicine were
taught. It housed students and scholars from India, Japan,
China, Tibet, Indonesia, Vietnam and Korea. It had one of
the largest libraries in the world which was housed in a
nine storey building. In addition to the millions of books
that were invaluable treasures in the field of
spirituality, theology, science, and medicine, there were
many original sacred texts dating back to the time of the
Buddha. From the fifth to the twelfth century, it had a
continuous patronage from both Hindu and Buddhist kings and
Here is an extract of Nalanda University description from
Nalanda was one of the world's first residential
universities, i.e., it had dormitories for students. It is
also one of the most famous universities. In its heyday it
accommodated over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. The
university was considered an architectural masterpiece, and
was marked by a lofty wall and one gate. Nalanda had eight
separate compounds and ten temples, along with many other
meditation halls and classrooms. On the grounds were lakes
and parks. The library was located in a nine storied
building where meticulous copies of texts were produced.
The subjects taught at Nalanda University covered every
field of learning, and it attracted pupils and scholars
from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and
Turkey. The Tang Dynasty Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang left
detailed accounts of the university in the 7th century.
Nalanda was sacked in 1192 by Bhaltiyar Kalji, a Turkic
general under the Islamic rulers who had just conquered
Delhi. Below is a dramatization of how this tragic event
[The year was 1192 and Mohammad of Gaur had invaded India
from Afghanistan to conquer Delhi. This was his second
attempt to conquer the Hindu heartland. He had been
squarely defeated by the Rajput king Prithviraj in 1191,
the first time he had attempted his conquest. Some
historians even mention that the troops of Prithviraj had
captured Mohammad and had brought him to their king, where
Mohammad begged for his life. Prithviraj, as a follower of
dharma, decided to free him with a warning that he should
never invade India again.
But Mohammad had different ideas. A year later, he invaded
India again, and this time he was successful, and
Prithviraj was vanquished. His conquest of Delhi in 1192 is
marked by many historians as the beginning of Islamization
of India. He appointed his ex-salve Qutb-ud-din aybak as
the de-facto Sultan of Delhi.
The sultan was, however, not satisfied with just being the
ruler of Delhi and the surrounding areas. He brought his
General Bhaltiyar Kalji to his court and gave him these
"Kalji, I want you to march towards the Bay of Bengal and
bring this entire Kafir (infidel) land under my rule. It is
time for us to spread the teachings of the Holy Prophet,"
declared the Sultan.
General Kalji was ecstatic. For him, there was nothing more
sacred than conforming to the words of the Holy Quran.
Indeed, there we no soldier who was more faithful to the
teachings of Islam than Kalji himself.
As he marched east towards the Bay of Bengal with his large
force of disciplined troops, his task seemed easier than he
had ever imagined. One after another, centers of Kafir
power were leveled, and the idolaters were shown the Truth
as taught by the Holy Prophet. They had marched for several
days along the river Ganges and were now a few miles from
Nalanda in Bihar. Bihar, known as Magadha in the ancient
days, was where Buddha had attained Enlightenment. It was a
land adorned with Buddhist Viharas and Stupas. It was also
a land full of Hindu & Jain temples. Bihar was where all
the three dharmic traditions had coexisted peacefully and
had flourished throughout the ages.
As Kalji stopped his troops a couple of miles from the
Nalanda complex, he was awed by its size and grandeur. What
is this magnificent complex? He wondered. He ordered his
soldier Abdulla to investigate.
"Abdulla, go and find out what that complex is. No other
Kafir structure has piqued so much curiosity in me," the
Abdulla went towards the complex gate where the guard
stopped him. The guard informed him that, as the tradition
went, he had to answer three questions before he entered
the complex. He asked him to answer three questions about
spiritual knowledge concerning Maya, Dharma, and God. This
was a test that was mandated for anyone who wanted to enter
the university. Unable to answer, Abdulla got irritated
and went back to his master and reported what had
transpired at the gate. This time, the general himself
galloped towards the gate and ordered his men to follow
him. The guard stopped General Kalji and asked him the same
questions he had asked Abdulla, but Kalji had no time for
that charade. He had more important matters to address, and
Nalanda was simply a distraction. He calmly drew his sword
and beheaded the guard.
General Kalji was furious that a non-believer had
questioned his authority and had tried to stop him from
entering the complex. However, as a devout Muslim, he
realized that it was time to pray. He and his troops turned
west towards Mecca and knelt down and prayed to Allah the
Most Magnificent and the Most Merciful.
As he prayed, he remembered the command "And obey Allah and
the Messenger, that you may be shown mercy." Further
echoing in his mind were the following commandments: "and
those who disbelieve, for them is destruction and He has
made their deeds ineffective," "go and destroy each and
every symbol of idolatry. Do not spare single idolaters,"
and "so when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then
smite the necks until when you have overcome them."
After the prayers were over, General Kalji and his troops
were truly energized. The general ordered the troops to
swarm the university and spare no infidels. Thousands of
monks and students were beheaded and blood flowed in
streams. Temples, Stupas, and statues were destroyed. Those
who could run tried to save their lives by hiding in the
library as no one inside the university was taught to be a
fighter. Moreover, they had no arms and were defenseless.
Finally, the general and his men came in front of the
library. An old monk came from inside and begged the
general to spare at least the library.
"Books will do no harm, please do not destroy the library,"
begged the old monk.
"Books that spread falsehood surely have no place in this
world," declared the general as he scoffed at the old monk.
He, however, wanted to be certain about one thing.
"Is there a copy of the Holy Quran inside?" asked the
"No, there is not," replied the monk.
The answer infuriated the general beyond limits. The monks
had to be punished as stated in Surah 48.13, "And if any
believe not in Allah and His Messenger, We have prepared,
for those who reject Allah, a Blazing Fire!"
"Then, it is settled. Burn the library," he ordered his
troops as he swung his sword again, beheading the old monk.
As the library was engulfed in flames trapping those who
had taken refuge in the building, General Kalji, who was
utterly disgusted at the practice of idolatry he had just
witnessed, addressed his soldier Abdulla.
"Brother Abdulla, It is going to take a long time to
eradicate idolatry from Hindustan. Insha'Allah, we will
succeed one day, and we will clean this place forever. We
shall make this Kafir land truly Dar Al-Islam.]
Historians believe that it took several months for the
library to burn down. Knowledge that was collected and
preserved over more than a millennium was lost. Indeed,
many historians conclude that this was the beginning of the
decline of Buddhism in India. It was also the beginning of
the demise of ancient Indian scientific thought in
mathematics, astronomy, metallurgy, and medicine.
It is only in the twenty-first century there has been a
concerted effort in reviving the past glory of Nalanda
University. Driven by a common Buddhist heritage, a Nalanda
Mentor Group consisting of representatives from India,
China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and many other Asian
countries has been recently established. These countries
have even committed to millions of dollars to this effort.
The Nalanda Group is headed by Amartya Sen, a Noble
Laureate in economics. The hope is that a revived Nalanda
will help create understanding among peoples across the
world which will foster global peace.
What happened in Nalanda on that fateful day more than
eight hundred years ago was not only a genocide of human
life; it was also genocide of knowledge. Let us pray that
men like General Kalji do not get the chance to repeat
events like those in 1192.
-From Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Om asatho maa sad gamaya
Thamaso maa jyothir gamaya
Mrithyor maa Amritham gamaya
[Lead me from untruth (unreal) to Truth (Real);
Lead me from darkness to Light;
Lead me from death (temporary) to Immortality (Eternal)]
Author, "The Courtesan and the Sadhu, A novel about Maya,
Dharma, and God"
End of forwarded message from M. Prakash
Hindu Holocaust Museum
Hindu life, principles, spirituality and philosophy
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