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Nalanda and the ruins of the acient Nalanda Mahavihara are almost synonymous. The name Nalanda conjures up a picture of ancient Mahavihara, which was a great seat of Buddhist education for nearly 700 years between the 5th to 12th centuries AD.

The contribution of the Nalada Mahavihara, Nalanda in the development of Buddhist education is widely recognized. Many great Acaryas of Nalanda had helped is dissemination of Knowledge and Buddhist culture throught the world.

His Excellency, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first president of the Republic of India had initiated the idea and declared that the ancient seat of Buddhist learning at Nalanda would be revived and thus had emanated the vision of establishing the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara. On November 20, 1951, the foundation stone of the first building was laid with the following engraving :

“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).”

At the insistence of Ven. Bhikshu Jagadish 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.

Bhikshu Jagadish 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 PaliTipitaka in Devanagari script. It was very popular and quickly went out of print.

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.

On November 13, 2006, the University Grant Commission accorded the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, Nalanda the status of a Deemed to be University.

The present campus of the Mahavihara is some 100 kms 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.