Patna, September 2: Classes opened Monday at the Nalanda University, an ancient international centre for learning in Bihar, after a break of over 800 years with 15 students, its vice chancellor said. "We have formally started the academic session of Nalanda University Monday morning in the International Convention Centre at the Buddhist pilgrim town of Rajgir," told Vice Chancellor Gopa Sabhrawal. Rajgir is about 100 km from Patna.
Sabhrawal said the ancient Nalanda University functioned from 413 AD to 1193 AD. Classes for the School of Historical Sciences and the School of Environment and Ecology have started for the first session 2014-15. She said there was an introduction session for students as well as faculty members as it was the first day of the classes, revived after over eight centuries.
"We have completed the first step towards a big mission for revival of ancient Nalanda university. Now more hard work has to be done for it," she said. Sabhrawal said that the launch of the academic session of the university was a low key affair because the formal inauguration would take place in mid-September after formal opening by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, who will be chief guest, and university will also invite ambassadors of the East Asian countries.
She said that till now 15 students have been enrolled in the university and more will be enrolled in coming days as the process of their application scrutiny and interview is still on. "We strongly hope that more foreign students will join the university because our thrust is research along with study," Sabhrawal said. She said the university has attracted over 1,000 applications from around the world. University Dean Anjana Sharma said eight faculty members have joined the university so far and many more would join this month and in October.
Sharma said Upinder Kaur, daughter of former prime minister Manmohan Singh, will be a visiting faculty at the university. Kaur is teaching history at Delhi University. The university will come up in Rajgir, 12 km from where the ancient Nalanda University stood till the 12th century, when it was razed by an invading Turkish army.
The formal inauguration is expected in mid-September, Sabhrawal said. The fully-residential university, to be completed by 2020, will eventually have seven schools, all for post-graduate and doctoral students, offering courses in science, philosophy and spirituality, and social sciences.