A brilliant history: The first rise of the university form in India, 6th Century BCE to 12th Century CE

8th October 2020 : 14:00 - 15:00

Category: Webinar

Speaker: Shailendra Raj Mehta

Location: Zoom webinar, registration required

Convener: Simon Marginson

Audience: Public

Unknown to most scholars today, India had a very vibrant system of universities from the 6th century BCE to the 12th century AC. During this period, seven universities achieved prominence, and they were in the order of establishment, Taxila, Nalanda, Valabhi, Vikramshila, Odantapuri, Jagaddala, and Somapura.

In this talk, we will discuss the seventeen major innovations that occurred in these universities over these 1800 years. We will also discuss the causes of their ultimate downfall. Just as these universities were being eclipsed, the universities in Europe were rising, and they rediscovered and independently recreated all of these innovations in almost the same order. Briefly, we will also touch upon the six additional innovations in Europe and America. We source every piece of evidence from the archaeological record and from the Classical texts of India, Europe, and East Asia. Overall, we seek to paint a broad picture of the development of the University form over 2600 years. As part of this talk, we will present a lot of material that is not very well known, but which is crucial for the understanding of the longevity and dynamics of this fascinating organisation.