Nalanda in the history of philosophy. An investigation of the textual and material sources

Start - End 
2022 - 2025 (ongoing)
Department of Languages and Cultures
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This project aims to get a better understanding of the social history of Indian philosophy. For this purpose, this project will investigate the history of philosophy at Nalanda, the most important centre of knowledge in early medieval South Asia. Even though many classical philosophical texts from South Asia have been edited and translated in the previous century, our understanding of the social history of Indian philosophy is very limited. We do not know how the different philosophical schools were organised, how they interacted with each other, and what their role in society was. This is quite unsatisfactory since the large number of philosophical texts that have survived indicates that the philosophical schools in South Asia had an important societal function. My project focuses on Nalanda, a Buddhist monastic university that flourished in the East of India from the 6th to the 13th century. This institute attracted thousands of students from all over Asia and was an important centre of philosophy. By bringing together the textual and material sources on Nalanda and its intellectual environment, I will reconstruct the role that Nalanda played in the development of scholastic and tantric philosophy. By analysing the Chinese, Tibetan, and Sanskrit sources in the light of the art historical and archaeological data, this project will reconstruct the history of philosophy at Nalanda and reveal its importance in the global history of thought.