Vikramshila University – Where Knowledge Lay underneath the Earth

Vikramshila-University-Bhagalpur

A number of monasteries grew up during the Pāla period in ancient Bengal and Magadha. According to Tibetan sources, five great Mahaviharas stood out: Vikramashila, the premier university of the era; Nalanda, past its prime but still illustrious, Somapura, Odantapura, and Jagaddala. The five monasteries formed a network; “all of them were under state supervision” and there existed “a system of co-ordination among them . . it seems from the evidence that the different seats of Buddhist learning that functioned in eastern India under the Pāla were regarded together as forming a network, an interlinked group of institutions,” and it was common for great scholars to move easily from position to position among them.

Vikramshila – Where Knowledge Lay underneath the Earth. Lets Discover the Place

— The remains of the ancient university have been partially excavated at village Antichak in the Bhagalpur district, Bihar state, India, and the process is still underway.

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— According to scholar Sukumar Dutt, Vikramaśīla appears to have had a more clearly delineated hierarchy than other mahaviharas

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— The monastery, or residence for the Buddhist monks, is a huge square structure, each side measuring 330 metres having a series of 208 cells, 52 on each of the four sides opening into a common verandah.

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— The Stupa is a sacred solid structure raised over the body remains or belongings of Buddha or a distinguished monk; or to commemorate any event associated with them. But some stupas are merely symbolic made for worship by the monks. Avotive stupa is a miniature stupa erected by a devotee in gratitude of fulfillment of his desire.

The main stupa at the centre
The main stupa at the centre

— The walls of both the terraces are decorated with mouldings and terracotta plaques which testify the high excellence of terracotta art flourishing in the region during Pal period (8th to 12th centuries).

Walls decorated with the attractive statues of the regional Devi Devtas
Walls decorated with the attractive statues of the regional Devi Devtas

— To the north of monastery a number of scattered structures including a Tibetan and a Hindu temple have been found. The entire spread is over an area of more than one hundred acres.

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Never miss out the short documentary on this historically important place. The documentary is directed By Mr. Nikhil Prakash 

Reference:

  1. Vajrayogini: Her Visualization, Rituals, and Forms by Elizabeth English. Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-329-X pg 15
  2. Buddhist Monks And Monasteries Of India: Their History And Contribution To Indian Culture. by Dutt, Sukumar. George Allen and Unwin Ltd, London 1962. pg 352-3
  3. Scott, David (May 1995). “Buddhism and Islam: Past to Present Encounters and Interfaith Lessons”. Numen 42 (2): 141–155. doi:10.1163/1568527952598657.
  4. “Excavated Remains at Nalanda – UNESCO World Heritage Centre”. Whc.unesco.org. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
Sanskriti
A girl from the capital of Bihar, trying to understand the past underdevelopment of Bihar and exploring the ways to improve the status of the State

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