A Blessed Pilgrimage

by Dr. Yutang Lin | 1990 | 18,562 words

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Part 10 - The Ancient Center Of Buddhist Studies

Nalanda University

Our bus took us to the remains of Nalanda University. The huge campus stretched as far as one could see. The remains of buildings were arranged in an orderly fashion. We found the ruins of magnificent temples and relics of several story high dormitories. The scope of the campus we saw was already awe inspiring, not to mention adding the few hundred acres on either side, that some said were part of the original campus waiting to be excavated. The past grandeur of Nalanda University, as the center of study for the Buddhist world, became vividly real in my imagination. Professor Pryor gave us a brief description of this ancient Buddhist University: It was sponsored by the King through his donation of the tax collections from 64 nearby villages. The official language used in teaching was Sanskrit. At each of the four cardinal points of the campus was a gate with a senior professor serving as the "gate keeper," i.e. the director of the entrance examinations. One needed only to pass the oral examination given by one of these Elders to become a student and study here for an indefinite time.

Aspirants came from all over Asia and lived in dormitories outside, which were classified according to their geographical origins. Thus, students from the same area could tutor these newcomers in their native language to prepare them for the entrance examination. Then I added a few remarks on the highlights of the life of Hsuan Tsang, the famous Chinese monk who pilgrimaged to India and studied here for several years. We returned back to Bodhgaya in the evening. That night I went to the Mahabodhi Temple, and while circumambulating the compound I relit the lights that had been blown out by the wind.

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