Research Paper

Origin of Nalanda Mahavihara: Structure as Evidence and Seal as Symbol


Year: 2022, Volume: 13, Page/Article: 1, DOI:

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Following the discovery of ruins of Nālandā Mahāvihāra, multiple questions were raised, a plethora of speculations were made, and stifling conjectures were advanced about the origin, evolution, and decline of the greatest academic institution of the world. Multiple excavations through the years have yielded a lot of information about the structures and functions of the Mahāvihāra, which are well corroborated by the literary evidences.

Though the bulk of the monastic sites is still not excavated due to habitation over the mounds and other factors. Still, scattered surveys and excavations have provided information revealing enough to facilitate a re-examination of the hypothesis developed on Nālandā. The knowledge furthered by the excavations and supplemented by the epigraphic and literary sources has raised many questions about some of the established myths related to the foundation/founder of the Mahāvihāra, the nomenclature of Nālandā, and origin of the structural form of Nālandā seals. Could Śakrāditya be the founder? Was Nālandā the first Mahāvihāra? This paper examines these questions with the support of new archaeological sources and literary arguments