NAVA NALANDA MAHAVIHARA: HISTORY PAST & PRESENT
the early 1950's, in order to revive the lost glory and the heritage of
ancient Nalanda Mahavihara, his ExcellencyDr. Rajendra Prasad, the first
President of the
the insistence of Ven. Bhikkhu Jagdish Kashyap and with this goal in
mind, the Government of Bihar established a research institute called
“Magadh Institute of Post-Graduate Studies and Research in Pali and
Allied Languages and Buddhist Learning” at Nalanda in 1951. It later
came to be known as Nava Nalanda Mahavihara. The inspiration behind the
establishment of this institute was to develop a centre of higher
studies in Pali and Buddhism along the lines of ancient Nalanda
Mahavihara. From the beginning, the institute functioned as a
residential institution, with a limited number of Indian and foreign
present campus of the Mahavihara is 90 km from the metropolis of
the rays of the sun of Nalanda rise from the summit of this rock in
order to brighten the vernacular (lokabhasa in Pali) after the
passing away of its nights of darkness (period of its obscurity).
Bhikkhu Jagdish Kashyap became the Founder-Director of Nava Nalanda
Mahavihara, and continued in that capacity until February 1955.
One of his major accomplishments was the complete publication, in 41
volumes, of a critical edition of the entire Pali Tipitaka in Devanagari
script. It was very popular and quickly went out of print.
(Dr.) Satkari Mookerjee, erudite and peerless scholar of general
Indology, Sanskrit and Philosophy became the second Director of the
first building, designed by well-known artist and architect Padmashri
Upendra Maharathi, upon completion, was formally inaugurated by His
Excellency Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, then Vice-President of the
In 1965, Ven. Kashyap again became Director, remaining at the helm until January 1973. Under his editorship the work of transcribing and editing of Pali texts again gathered momentum. Editing of Pali commentaries (Atthakathas) began. Approximately 30 volumes were edited and some were published.
Nathmal Tatia succeeded Ven. Kashyap in 1973. The year marked the
opening of post-graduate teaching in two additional
subjects―Philosophy, and Ancient Indian and Asian Studies. A
meditation camp was also organized by the Vipassana Acharya Sri Satya
Narayan Goenka at the Mahavihara, which was attended by participants
from all over the country and abroad.
1976 marked the year of the Silver Jubilee for the Mahavihara. As a part of the celebration, ‘Nalanda: Past and Present’, a valuable contribution to the history of Nalanda, was edited by Dr. C. S. Upasak, Director.
January 1980, the Mahavihara hosted its second conference of the
International Association of Buddhist Studies, from
January 1981, the President of India His Excellency Sri Neelam Sanjiv
Reddy laid the foundation stone for the International Hostel for
scholars and students of the Mahavihara.
the beginning, until March 1981, the Mahavihara functioned as a State
Government institution under the Department of Education, Government of
Bihar. His Excellency, the Governor of Bihar, was the Chairman, and the
Director, its head. In order to give the Mahavihara freedom to plan its
own development, the Government of Bihar granted the institute autonomy.
However, lack of funds, a decreasing staff, gradually shrinking
activities, localization and isolation, hindered the development and the
position of the Mahavihara again began to deteriorate.
the glorious past of Nalanda, the esteem and reverence Nalanda receives
from Asian countries, and the immense potential for development as an
institution of international importance, the Government of Bihar decided
to hand it over to the Government of India in December 1990.
in this decision of the Government of Bihar was Prof. Gustav Roth of
The Department of Culture, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India finally assumed responsibility for the institute with full financial liabilities in February 1994.
D.K. Barua was the director from 1996-1999.
April 2000, Dr. Ravindra Panth was appointed Director. In November 2000, the
49th Foundation Day was celebrated with the dedication of a
Buddha statue from
‘First Conference of the Indian Society for Buddhist Studies’, where
various aspects of Buddhism were discussed, was held in August 2001.
Former director Dr. C.S. Upasak presided over the Golden Jubilee
celebration in November 2001. Three publications: ‘A Dictionary of
Early Buddhist Monastic Terms’ written by Dr. Upasak,
‘Papancasudani-Uparipannasa Atthakatha’ edited by the late Prof. Dr.
U Dhammaratana and Dr. U Zagrivibhansa, and ‘Buddhism Universal
Perspective – Proceedings of the First National Seminar’ edited by
Dr. Panth, were released.
three day international seminar on ‘Buddhism and Literature’ was
held in February 2002, attended by scholars from
In July 2002, twenty-nine young scholars and students participated in the 21 days spoken Pali workshop, organised for the first time in India.
Heritage of Nalanda and it’s Continuity’, a 35 minute documentary
film narrating the ancient history of Nalanda and its continuity in the
form of Nava Nalanda Mahavihara was completed in 2002.
The film was completed and released by his Excellency the President of
India, Bharat Ratna Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on May 30th 2003.
The film was completed and released by his Excellency the President of India, Bharat Ratna Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on May 30th 2003.
The main goals of Nava Nalanda Mahavihara are to develop an institute similar to that of the old Viharas, where teachers and students lived together devoting themselves to studies and higher academic pursuits for the promotion of higher studies and research in Pali language and literature and Buddhism through Tibetan, Sanskrit, Chinese, Mongolian, Japanese and other Asian languages; to maintain a modern and rich library in order to facilitate teaching and research; to accommodate monks, nuns and lay scholars versed in traditional monastic learning and acquaint them with current methods of research and comparative study; to collaborate with similar institutes in India and abroad for research; to send scholars to recognised Buddhist educational centres to learn about other traditions and to re-establish ancient cultural ties; to host eminent scholars from around the world; to critically edit, translate and publish Buddhist works from Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, Mongolian and other languages; to compile and publish original work on different aspects of Buddhism; and to provide facilities for and organise courses for the practice and theory of Vipassana Meditation.
academic activities of the Mahavihara include teaching and research,
seminars and conferences, special convocations, publications and the
maintenance and ongoing development of a library.
Courses Of Study
and research are the primary activities of the Mahavihara.
the Mahavihara offers a one-year certificate course in Pali and two-year
diploma courses in Pali.
Mahavihara is affiliated with
the Mahavihara in affiliation with
courses include post-graduate courses in English, Hindi, Sanskrit,
Tibetan, and Indian Culture and Civilisation, a course on Vipassana and
Buddhist Studies (Applied Buddhism), a one year research methodology
course, language courses in Thai, Singhalese, Mongolian, Burmese,
Vietnamese, and Cambodian, based on demand, and a course pertaining to
Buddhism in light of modern science. There are also plans to start
computer courses and courses related with Cultural Tourism related with
Seminars, Conferences, Lectures and other Events
Mahavihara organizes national and international seminars, conferences
and workshops with themes pertaining to Buddhism, and history and
year, the institute celebrates Buddha Purnima day in May, Abhidhamma day
in October at the time of Pavarna, Sports day in October, Foundation day
in November and Water festival in February. Students also have the
opportunity to participate in an annual educational tour.
Mahavihara confers the degree of Vidya-Varidhi honoris causa to eminent
scholars and social workers who have devoted their lives to the cause of
Pali or Buddhist studies and culture. The first convocation was held to
honour Prince Vongsavong of
Nalanda had a rich heritage of attracting scholars from Southeast Asian
countries. Efforts are now being made to revive this tradition.
Applications are welcome from serious scholars interested in pursuing
independent or collaborative research. For further information, please
write to the Director at Nava Nalanda Mahavihara.
present the library is housed in a two-story building known as the
comprising the Wheaton Loan Collection given by the U.S. Government were
also an important donation, consisting of valuable dictionaries,
encyclopaedias, journals and other reference books, a good collection of
books on modern thought, including books on psychology, metaphysics,
ethics, logic, sociology, and cultural anthropology.
(Burma), Sri Lanka, Thailand and Kampuchia (Cambodia), Japan and South
Korea donated complete sets of the Pali Tipitaka published in their
respective scripts, including Atthakathas, and other miscellaneous works
to the Mahavihara. A complete set of the Chinese Tripitaka and other
miscellaneous works presented by the Peoples’ Republic of China, a
complete set of Kanjur and Tanjur donated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
of Tibet, a complete set of the Tibetan Tripitaka (Peking edition) with
its catalogue, Derge and Lhasa editions of Kanjur and Derge as well as
s-Nar-thang editions of Tanjur are also invaluable treasures in the
library of the Mahavihara. Bearing in mind the current trends in
research, the library of the Mahavihara subscribes to research journals
and periodicals related to Indology and Buddhist learning.
The Mahavihara also houses a collection of Manuscripts. Currently, planning is going on to catalogue and preserve the manuscript and rare book collection.
Nava Nalanda Mahavihara is primarily a research institute, emphasis has
been given to research and publication projects from the beginning. The
Mahavihara undertakes long and short term projects. Short-term projects
include doctoral student research, and publication of research volumes
and monographs by staff members and research scholars. Long-term
projects include publication of Pali texts not yet published in
Devanagari script, compilation of a Pali-Hindi Dictionary, Hindi
translation of the entire Pali Tipitaka, cataloguing, critical
decipherment and publication of manuscripts.
Mahavihara published the entire Pali Tipitaka in 41 volumes and some
commentaries in Devanagari script for the first time in the 1950’s.
Eight Nava Nalanda Mahavihara Research Volumes have been published. A
selection of other publications related to Buddhism have been published
scope of research and publications include Pali language and literature,
Sanskrit Buddhist texts, Tibetan texts, Buddhist philosophy, cultural,
social and religious history of Buddhist countries of
education program in Pali and Indian Culture
of 41 volumes of the Pali Devanagari Tipitaka
of a Concordance to the Pali Tipitaka
Translation of the Pali Tipitaka
study of the Pali, Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian and Tibetan Tipitakas
The current director, Dr. Ravindra Panth, is the head of the Institute.
He is assisted by the registrar for internal functioning. The current
faculty consists of nine assistant professors, four guest lecturers and
two visiting professors. Two senior scholars are also in residence at
the institute helping with the compilation of a Pali-Hindi dictionary
Certificate in Pali:
A Buddhist monk or nun who has completed 12 years of studies (10+2)
education from a recognised Board in
Diploma in Pali:
A Buddhist monk or nun having passed the Certificate Course in Pali from
Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, or holding an equivalent degree, or B.A. with
Pali as one of the subjects from an
A candidate possessing a degree from the Pali Diploma Course from Nava
Nalanda Mahavihara, or B.A. (Hons.) with Pali as one of the subjects
from an Indian University or any recognised foreign University, or
possessing the degree of Pandit Parikkha in Pali from Sri Lanka, or
Pathamagyi Examination in Pali from Burma, or Pali Gride VI of the
Examination Bureau from Thailand, or Mahapatiyatti Uttama-Vijja from
Buddhikavityalaya from Cambodia, or Sanskrit Acharya from Kameshwar
Singh Dharbhanga Sanskrit University, or Pali Visarda from Bengal, or
Upadhi from Bangladesh and Assam Sanskrit Association, or any equivalent
degree from a recognised University is eligible for admission to this
two year course.
M.A. in Pali:
A candidate possessing the Pali Acharya degree from
M.A. in Ancient
Indian and Asian Studies: This course is open to those who have completed a
B.A. (Hons.) degree in Ancient Indian and Asian Studies from any
M.A. in Philosophy:
This course is open to those who have completed a B.A. (Hons.) degree in
philosophy from any
A candidate applying for a research programme must have an M.A
degree from an
Diploma Courses in
Hindi, Tibetan, Sanskrit, English: The language courses are of two years
duration. Hindi, English, Tibetan, and Sanskrit are required for M.A.,
students. Ph.D. students, those enrolled in the Pali Diploma course or
Pali Acharya Course at
are available from Nava Nalanda Mahavihara-803111, Nalanda,
students should apply through their respective embassies in
begin mid-July and finish in the middle of May every year.
English Proficiency Test administered by the Mahavihara is required
before admission is given for any course.
Accommodation: As far as possible, students are provided with free
accommodation. For monk students there are two hostels. Approximately 75
students can be accommodated. At the moment there is no accommodation facilities for female students. Accommodation for females can be made
available in the nearby
Medical: A Medical Officer is available weekly for consultations.
Activities during April 2003 – March 2004