Monday, August 6, 2012

Destruction of Nalanda University by Muslim Invaders

These are selected articles from Wikipedia on the subject. When they destroyed Buddhism in India, they did it with the sole purpose of spreading their religion. It was a holy war to them, not a territorial issue or ethnic issue. I will explain more on these latter issues later. Read on:-

In 1193, the Nalanda University complex was destroyed by Afghan Khilji-Ghilzai Muslims under Bakhtiyar Khalji; this event is seen as the final milestone in the decline of Buddhism in India. He also burned Nalanda's a major Buddhist library and Vikramshila University[citation needed], as well as numerous Bhuddhist monasteries in India. When the Tibetan translator, Chag Lotsawa Dharmasvamin (Chag Lo-tsa-ba, 1197–1264), visited northern India in 1235, Nalanda was damaged, looted, and largely deserted, but still standing and functioning with seventy students. Mahabodhi, Sompura, Vajrasan and other important monasteries were found to be untouched. The Ghuri ravages only afflicted those monasteries that lay in the direct of their advance and were fortified in the manner of defensive forts.

By the end of the 12th century, following the Muslim conquest of the Buddhist stronghold in Bihar, Buddhism having already declined in the south declined in the North as well as survivors retreated to Nepal, Sikkim and Tibet or escaped to the South of the sub-continent.

In 1193, the Nalanda University was sacked by[11] the fanatic Bakhtiyar Khilji, a Turk;[12] this event is seen by scholars as a late milestone in the decline of Buddhism in India. The Persian historian Minhaj-i-Siraj, in his chronicle the Tabaqat-I-Nasiri, reported that thousands of monks were burned alive and thousands beheaded as Khilji tried his best to uproot Buddhism and plant Islam by the sword[13] the burning of the library continued for several months and "smoke from the burning manuscripts hung for days like a dark pall over the low hills."[14]

Buddhism was in decline all over India during this time due to various reasons. The continuous rise of the Brahmins’ power and caste system in everyday life was a direct threat to Buddhist philosophy, which displaced its political and social base.[15] The Bhakti movement resulted construction of many Hindu temples which undermined Buddhist philosophy.[15] This decline continued after the last Buddhist emperor under Pala dynasty in the 12th century, followed by destruction of Buddhist monasteries by Muslim conquerors.[16]

The last throne-holder of Nalanda, Shakyashribhadra, fled to Tibet in 1204 CE at the invitation of the Tibetan translator Tropu Lotsawa (Khro-phu Lo-tsa-ba Byams-pa dpal). In Tibet, he started an ordination lineage of the Mulasarvastivadin lineage to complement the two existing ones.

When the Tibetan translator Chag Lotsawa (Chag Lo-tsa-ba, 1197–1264) visited the site in 1235, he found it damaged and looted, with a 90-year-old teacher, Rahula Shribhadra, instructing a class of about 70 students.[17][18] During Chag Lotsawa's time there an incursion by Turkish soldiers caused the remaining students to flee. Despite all this, "remnants of the debilitated Buddhist community continued to struggle on under scarce resources until c. 1400 CE when Chagalaraja was reportedly the last king to have patronized Nalanda."[19]

Ahir considers the destruction of the temples, monasteries, centers of learning at Nalanda and northern India to be responsible for the demise of ancient Indian scientific thought in mathematics, astronomy, alchemy, and anatomy.[20]

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