Some Facts from our History

Posted on August 8, 2010


The great seats of learning in ancient India like Nalanda, Vikramasila, Pataliputra, and Tamralipti are said to have contained libraries of their own and striven hard for the promotion of education and learning in the country. The library in ancient times was called either Saraswati-bhandara or Pustaka bhandara.

The fall of Nalanda at the hands of the Turks is a story too deep for tears. Like Nero, Bakhtiar Khilji, its destroyer in 1205 A.D., laughed while Nalanda burnt. The City of Knowledge, which took several centuries to build, took only a few hours to be destroyed. Legend has it that when some monks fell at the feet of the invader to spare at least its world-famed library, Ratnabodhi, he kicked them and had them thrown in the fire along with the books. The monks fled to foreign lands, citizens became denizens and Nalanda was relegated to a memory.

Many of these universities were sacked, plundered, looted by the Islamic onslaught. They destroyed temples and libraries and indulged in most heinous type of vandalism. These were particularly heinous crimes. The burning of the Library of Nalanda ranks with the destruction of the Library of Alexandria as the two most notorious acts of vandalism in the course of Islamic expansion. Nalanda, Vikramshila, Odantapura, and Jagddala as the universities destroyed by Mohammed Bakhtiar Khilji around 1200 A.D