Academic writing by






In 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 Republic of India, declared that the ancient seat of Buddhist learning at Nalanda would be revived.

At 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 students.

The present campus of the Mahavihara is 90 km from the metropolis of Patna , situated on the southern bank of the historical lake, Indrapuskarani. Close to the northern bank lie the ruins of the ancient University of Nalanda .

On November 20, 1951, the foundation stone of the first building was laid by His Excellency, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Engraved upon it are the following words:

Let 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).

Ven. 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.

Prof. (Dr.) Satkari Mookerjee, erudite and peerless scholar of general Indology, Sanskrit and Philosophy became the second Director of the Mahavihara on March 1, 1955 in place of Ven. Bhikkhu J. Kashyap who was appointed Honorary Director. He streamlined teaching and research programmes and edited the first three Nava Nalanda Mahavihara research volumes.

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 Republic of India, in March 1956.

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.

Dr. 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.

In January 1980, the Mahavihara hosted its second conference of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, from Wisconsin, U.S.A. One hundred and fifty delegates from 15 countries and 5 continents participated.

In 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.

From 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.

Considering 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.

Instrumental in this decision of the Government of Bihar was Prof. Gustav Roth of Germany , who joined the Mahavihara as Director in 1982. With the support of his mentor, the Governor of Bihar, His Excellency, Dr. A.R. Kidwai, he prevailed upon the Government of Bihar and the Government of India to join together to preserve the Mahavihara. He proposed that the Government of India assume responsibility to develop the Mahavihara, and integrate it with the existing Xuanzang Memorial Hall thus turning it into a full-fledged university. This proposal is gradually materializing.

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.

Dr. D.K. Barua was the director from 1996-1999.

In 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 Myanmar in a new shrine room near the old International hostel. In December 2000, the first National Seminar entitled ‘Buddhism in Universal Perspective’ was held.

The ‘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.  

A three day international seminar on ‘Buddhism and Literature’ was held in February 2002, attended by scholars from India and abroad. In March 2002, a National Symposium on ‘Buddhism and the Culture of Northeast India’ was held.

In July 2002, twenty-nine young scholars and students participated in the 21 days spoken Pali workshop, organised for the first time in India.

The 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 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.



The 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

Teaching and research are the primary activities of the Mahavihara.

Presently, the Mahavihara offers a one-year certificate course in Pali and two-year diploma courses in Pali.

The Mahavihara is affiliated with Kameshwar Singh Darbhanga Sanskrit University , for the Pali Acharya Course (traditional degree).

Similarly, the Mahavihara in affiliation with Magadh University in Bodh Gaya conducts M.A. courses in Pali, Philosophy, and Ancient Indian and Asian Studies, following the syllabus of the University. Courses leading to the Ph.D. and D.Litt. degree are also offered in conjunction with Magadh University . Over 90 scholars, Indian and foreign, have been granted Ph.D. degrees from Magadh University . Research topics include Pali language and literature, Buddhist philosophy, culture, the social and religious history of Buddhist countries and other topics related to Buddhism.

Future 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 Buddhist sites.


Seminars, Conferences, Lectures and other Events

The Mahavihara organizes national and international seminars, conferences and workshops with themes pertaining to Buddhism, and history and culture of India . Seminars are also occasionally organized in collaboration with other institutes. The Bhikkhu Jagadish Kashyap Memorial Lecture is organised annually to celebrate the birth anniversary of Ven. J Kashyap.

Every 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.


Special Convocations

Nalanda 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 Laos , who because of the tradition and importance of the ancient Nalanda Mahavihara, during his visit to India in 1966, expressed a wish to receive a degree from Nalanda. The Government of India made a special request that the Mahavihara hold a convocation and confer the degree of ‘Vidya-Varidhi’ Honoris Causa on him. This had a great impact on Buddhist countries towards the regeneration of cultural kinship between India and the countries of East, South and Southeast Asia . Thereafter the institute began bestowing this degree on deserving individuals.


Research Opportunities 

Ancient 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.  



At present the library is housed in a two-story building known as the Library Building , which contains sixteen research cubicles with two large rooms on either side. The library grew quickly as a result of the opportunity to purchase a number of personal libraries. Presently, the library includes over 45,000 books, various journals and a rare manuscript collection. Donations and purchases were made from¾the late Rash Bihari Mukherjee, from Hoogly, West Bengal ; Prof. (Dr.) Nalinaksh Datta, Former University Professor and Head of the Department of Pali, University of Calcutta ; and Prof. (Dr.) K. Venkat Ramanan, Director, Cheena Bhavan, Santiniketan, West Bengal . The library of the late R.B. Mukherjee deserves special mention as it offered the library a complete set of the Sacred Books of the East, valuable publications of the Pali Text Society, a rare collection of books on Indian philosophy, a rich collection of Classical English literature including the Variorum edition of the complete works of William Shakespeare, works of Goethe in German, an important French dictionary, and collected works of French authors Cornielle and Racine.

Books 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.

Myanmar (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.


As 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.

The 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 as well.

The 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 Southeast Asia and other topics related to Buddhism. 

List of Publications

Future Projects

Distant education program in Pali and Indian Culture

Publication projects:

Reprinting of 41 volumes of the Pali Devanagari Tipitaka

Compilation of a Concordance to the Pali Tipitaka

Hindi Translation of the Pali Tipitaka

Comparative 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 project.  



Certificate in Pali: A Buddhist monk or nun who has completed 12 years of studies (10+2) education from a recognised Board in India or abroad is eligible for this course. The course is of one year duration. The curriculum consists of two papers, 100 marks each, conducted by the Institute. Students are awarded certificates of Proficiency by the Institute upon completion.  

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 Indian University or any recognised foreign University is eligible for admission to this two year course. The Institute conducts examinations and awards Diploma certificates upon completion.  

Pali Acharya: 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. Kameshwar Singh Dharbhanga Sanskrit University in Darbhanga conducts examinations and awards degrees to successful candidates.  

M.A. in Pali: A candidate possessing the Pali Acharya degree from Kameshwar Singh Dharbhanga Sanskrit University , or holding a B.A. (Hons.) from an Indian University in Pali is eligible for admission in the M.A. Pali Course. Graduates of foreign Universities should ascertain whether their degree is equivalent to that required before seeking admission. The Institute follows the syllabus of Magadh University in Bodh Gaya.  


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 Indian University or recognised foreign University, or Acharya degree from Kameshwar Singh Dharbhanga Sanskrit University .  

M.A. in Philosophy: This course is open to those who have completed a B.A. (Hons.) degree in philosophy from any Indian University or recognised foreign University, or Acharya degree from Kameshwar Singh Dharbhanga Sanskrit University .  

Research Programme:  A candidate applying for a research programme must have an M.A degree from an Indian University or an equivalent degree from any recognised foreign University in any Indological subject. Research topics must be related to Buddhism. A synopsis of the topic should be attached to the admission application. A Ph.D. candidate will be eligible to submit a thesis to Magadh University after two years. Likewise, a D.Litt candidate will be eligible to submit a thesis three years after enrolment.  

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 Kameshwar Singh Dharbhanga Sanskrit University are also eligible.  

Applications are available from Nava Nalanda Mahavihara-803111, Nalanda, Bihar , India

Foreign students should apply through their respective embassies in India .

Courses begin mid-July and finish in the middle of May every year.

An English Proficiency Test administered by the Mahavihara is required before admission is given for any course.  

Facilities for Students 

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 Chinese Temple , by the students themselves. Kitchens and dining rooms are also available.

Medical: A Medical Officer is available weekly for consultations. 

Activities during April 2003 – March 2004   

  1. On July 2nd 2003 H.E. the Governor of Bihar, Justice M. Rama Jois visited Nava Nalanda Mahavihara and Xuanzang Memorial Hall, Naladna. He showed a great interest in the Library and Manuscript Section. 


  1. Nava Nalanda Mahavihar organised a Seminar and exhibition entitled “Nalanda: Interface of Buddhism & Environment” on 24th – 25th November, 2003 at Royal Banquet Hall, Thimphu , Bhutan under auspecies of Festival of India in Bhutan - 2003 . The function was inaugurated by the Chief Justice of Bhutan. Seventeen Scholars, eight from India and nine from Bhutan Participated in the Seminar. The exhibition was an attempt to explore the relationship between the teachings of the Lord Buddha, environment and the ancient institute of Nalanda Mahavihara . A sapling of Bodhi tree from Bodhgaya Main Temple and a black stone statue of Lord Buddha made by the artisans of Patharkatti were presented to Bhutan Government as a good will gesture by Mrs. Bhavnaben Chikhalia Hon’ble Minister for State, Ministry of Tourism & Culture, Government of India at the valedictory function on 25th November.
  1. Shri Jagmohan Ji, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Tourism & Culture has unveiled the Statue of Xuanzang at Xuanzang Memorial Hall, Nalanda and Inaugurated the newly constructed residential buildings of Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, Nalanda in gracious presence of Hon’ble Minister, Shri George Fernandes, Minister of Defense, Government of India on 12th February, 2004 .                                                                                               















































































































































































Ancient Nalanda Mahavihara

Nava Nalanda Mahavihara

Main Aims




Administration & Faculty


Nalanda & Surroundings

Xuan Zang Memorial