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Nalanda University: 5 Lesser-Known Facts About The Ancient University

The great library of the Nalanda University was called as Dharma Gunj, which means the Mountain of Truth

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Nalanda University was the first International University. Wikimedia Commons
Nalanda University was the first International University. Wikimedia Commons

Nalanda University, an ancient university, was a completely residential university believed to have 2,000 teachers and 10,000 students. The Nalanda ruins reveal through their architectural components the holistic nature of knowledge that was sought and imparted at this University. It suggests a seamless co-existence between nature and man and between living and learning.

The profound knowledge of the Nalanda teachers attracted scholars from places as distant as China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, Mongolia, Turkey, Sri Lanka and South East Asia.

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The famous song “O Mere Raja” from the film ‘Johny Mera Nam’ starring Dev Anand and Hema Malini was shot at the ruins of Nalanda and the Vishwa Shanti Stupa in Rajgir, Bihar. Wikimedia Commons
The famous song “O Mere Raja” from the film ‘Johny Mera Nam’ starring Dev Anand and Hema Malini was shot at the ruins of Nalanda and the Vishwa Shanti Stupa in Rajgir, Bihar. Wikimedia Commons

Here are some lesser-known facts about Nalanda University History: 

1. Nalanda University was an ancient university and also, the first International University. It was built under the patronage of the Gupta Empire in the 5th century AD and remained the best center for learning for over 800 years with around 10,000 students. In fact, 2,000 teachers came from all over the world such as Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia, and Turkey.

2. Nalanda University had the basic purpose of creating a place fit for meditation, for which it was founded by the Buddhist monks. Highly formalized Vedic learning methods helped inspire the creation of large teaching institutions such as Nalanda University, as well as Taxila and Vikramashila.

3. The great library of the Nalanda Vishwavidyalaya was called as Dharma Gunj, which means the Mountain of Truth. The library was said to house hundreds and thousands of volumes of books. The library was attacked several times in past and then later restored by Harshavardhan, the Buddhist king. But the army led by Turkish leader Bakhtiyar Khilji destroyed the complex, massacring all the Buddhist monks in the area.

4. The famous song “O Mere Raja” from the film ‘Johny Mera Nam’ starring Dev Anand and Hema Malini was shot at the ruins of Nalanda Vishwavidyalaya and the Vishwa Shanti Stupa in Rajgir, Bihar.

5. Nalanda Vishwavidyalaya attracts a huge number of tourists every year. It is well connected by road or rail. Rajgiri is the nearest train station. However, the frequency of trains is higher at Patna and Gaya. The best time to visit Nalanda is between October and March.

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Buddhist Monks Wearing Orange Robes Made from Plastic Bottles

Thailand throws 150,000 to 410,000 billion tonnes of plastic into the oceans every year out of a world total

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Buddhist, Monks, Orange Robes
Thailand was the world's sixth biggest contributor to plastic waste in the oceans behind China, Indonesia.

The monks of the Wat Jak Daeng temple on Bangkok’s Bang Kachao island have been wearing orange robes made from plastic bottles and other recycled materials.

“There is not a big difference between the robes (…) I myself wear a recycled plastic robe and they are very similar to the traditional ones,” monk Thipakorn of Wat Jak Daeng, who is also one of the driving forces behind this initiative in a country addicted to plastic, told Efe news.

A commune-level association, which has the financial support of big companies and the patronage of the Royal Palace of Thailand, began to make the seven-piece robes for the monks this year.

According to a 2015 article in Science magazine, Thailand was the world’s sixth biggest contributor to plastic waste in the oceans behind China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka — countries where rapid economic growth has bolstered consumption and waste.

Buddhist, Monks, Orange Robes
The monks of the Wat Jak Daeng temple on Bangkok’s Bang Kachao island have been wearing orange robes made from plastic bottles. Pixabay

The study, led by Professor Jenna R. Jambeck, estimated that Thailand throws 150,000 to 410,000 billion tonnes of plastic into the oceans every year out of a world total of somewhere between 4.8 to 12.7 tonnes annually.

Since the past few months, the Thai authorities have initiated a series of measures and launched environmental policies to try and reduce the non-recyclable plastic consumption in the country.

Plastic bottles are collected for recycling in the Wat Jak Daeng temple, on the southern part of the man-made island, and is surrounded by lush vegetation as the result of environmental measures in place to protect the surroundings.

Some 30 plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) litre-and-a-half bottles are needed to make each set of robes, made up of 30 or 35 per cent recycled materials, while the rest is cotton and other materials, said monk Thipakorn.

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The selected waste is sent to a recycling plant, which in turn sends back fabric made of plastic.

Workers and volunteers in the temple then cut and mend the patterns to make robes.

“Until now, we have made some 200 robes,” Thipakorn added.

Buddhist, Monks, Orange Robes
A commune-level association, which has the financial support of big companies and the patronage of the Royal Palace of Thailand, began to make the seven-piece robes. PIxabay

Some of the garments are given to the monks in the temple, while others are put on sale for worshipers who visit the sanctuary, who can buy them and donate to the monastery.

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Apart from clothing, Wat Jak Daeng also reuses bottle caps and labels to make chairs and other products, setting an example in the fight against the excessive consumption of plastic. (IANS)