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Mindful Training
༈ གླང་རེ་ཐང་པ་རྡོ་རྗེ་སེང་གེས་མཛད་པའི་བློ་སྦྱོང་ཚིག་བརྒྱད་མ་བཞུགས་སོ།
Eight Verses for Mind-Training Composed by Geshe Langri Thangpa Dorjee Singghe (1054-1123).
Audio: H.H. the Dalai Lama
1 སེམས་བསྐྱེད།
༈ བདག་ནི་སེམས་ཅན་ཐམས་ཅད་ལ།
May I consider sentient beings,
dearer than the Wish-Fulfilling Gem.
Best wishes in mind,
Forever hold them dear.

2 སྙིང་རྗེ།
Whenever whoever I am with
May I see myself least important.
And sincerely others in mind,
Hold them dearly highest.

3 བསམ་གཏན།
Always observe my behaviour.
Negative thoughts may arise,
[and]Hurt myself and others.
Confront and suppress it with force.

4 བཟོད་པ།
For unpleasant sentient being is,
Overwhelmed by bad-karma and suffering.
When stumble upon rare treasure,
Cherish and empathise.

5 སྦྱིན་པ།
Out of envy others may,
Insult, abuse and treat me unjustly.
May I accept [freewill] defeat and loss,
And offer victory to them.

6 ཤེས་རབ།
Whom I have helped,
With great expectation.
Did immense harm and unjust in return.
May I see him as my true teacher.

7 ཚུལ་ཁྲིམས།
In essence, directly or indirectly,
Offer total wellness to mothers.
Suffering and pain of mothers,
Inconspicuously take upon myself.

8 བརྩོན་འགྲུས།
All above be free from
eight compromises of Acquired Concept.
Recognizing all phenomena is illusory,
May I be free from bondage of disgusting Attachment.
*mother: sentient beings
Transliteration: karma

Ancient Buddhist Nalanda University- Rise and Fall

Ancient Nalanda University (NU) was established in 66 BC(700 years passed – 634AD = 66) according to Hiuen Tsiang (634AD). A passage from The Life of HT, page 112 reads, “The priests dwelling here, are, as a body, naturally (or, spontaneously) dignified and grave, so that during the 700 years since the foundation of the establishment, there has been no single case of guilty rebellion against the rules.”

It was the largest residential University in the world. Although Taxila, now in Pakistan, was established much earlier in 700BC, yet NU was much bigger in terms of number of scholars. In 634AD HT wrote that there was 10,000 scholars and 6 monasteries. Five of the six monasteries were built by five consecutive princes of the same family, and the sixth by their successor, who is called king of Central India.

Originally, Nalanda must have been known as Nala as reported by Fa Hien in 399AD. Look at the archeological script found at the site by Sir Cunningham in ASI report Volume 3,1871-72, Plate XXXI, which clearly shows word “Na and La” very similar to Tibetan scripts.

Today, it lay in ruins in Bihar, India. Google Map or Google Earth coordinate is (25° 8'7.21"N 85°26'35.84"E).

Library consist of 3 buildings and each one them was 9 stories high. Collection was enormous over the centuries. Hundreds of thousands of scriptures, books and texts were lost when Muslim invader set library on fire which burned for months.

All conceivable knowledge of that era were taught except war. Beside Buddhism (Comparative philosophy: VajraYana, MahaYana, HinaYana or Theravada, Yogacara, MadhyaMaka, ChittaMatra, Vaibhasika, Sautrantrika), Language, Grammar, Math, Logic, Magic, Vedas, Alchemy, Astronomy, and Yoga were taught.

HT wrote in Life page 112 that “The Sangharamas[Karma: Monasteries] of India are counted by myriads, but this is the most remarkable for grandeur and height. The priests, belonging to the convent, or strangers (residing therein) always reach to the number of 10,000, who all study the Great Vehicle, and also {the works belonging to) the eighteen sects, and not only so, but even ordinary works, such as the Yedas and other books, the HetuVidya[Karma: logic], SabdaVidya[Karma: language and Grammar], the ChikitsaVidya[Karma: Medicine], the works on Magic (AtharvaVeda), the Sankhya[Karma: A Hindu Philosophy]; besides these they thoroughly investigate the ‘miscellaneous’ works.”

HT continues “There are 1000 men who can explain twenty collections of Sutras and Sastras; 500 who can explain thirty collections, and perhaps ten men, including the Master of the Law[Karma: HT himself], who can explain fifty collections. Silabhadra[Karma: Abbot of Nalanda] alone has studied and understood the whole number. His eminent virtue and advanced age have caused him to be regarded as the chief member of the community. Within the Temple they arrange every day about 100 pulpits for preaching, and the students attend these discourses without any fail, even for a minute (an inch shadow on the [Sun] dial).”

Silabhadara was the Abbot of Nalanda in 634AD when HT paid visit. HT studied under him for 10 years.

8 separate compounds, lakes, parks, 10 temples and 12,000 residents requires planning and architectures of high standard. Otherwise, sustaining so much for so long would not be possible.

Buddhism had a huge followers in terms of geography. Buddhist influence had to be deep and profound that people built Buddhist structure (Viharas-shrines, Sangharamas-Monasteries, Stupa) which are now in ruins today. Such ruins, without much effort, can be found in Swat valley, Pakistan, Afghanistan and almost everywhere in North India. These countries are contagious or landlocked. History had given different names for these places. For instance, present Bihar was Magadha, Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir was Gandhara, Swat valley was Udiyana etc.

Two major invasions of Nalanda took place. First one was the invasion of Hephthalites or White Huns in 5th Century AD. Hsuan Tsang, the famous Chinese monk pilgrim cum traveler, who passed through Gandhara one hundred years later, heard about the destruction and recorded that Gandhara,

“Mihirakula overthrew Stupas and destroyed monasteries, altogether one thousand and six hundred foundations.”

Somehow Buddhism and Nalanda University recovered from it and revived

Second invasion by Muslim(Islam) around 13th Century dealt a death blow to Buddhism from India and University of Nalanda.

The story of a destruction of Maha Vihara at Odantapura, Bihar, in 1198 was told long afterwards in 1243 by an eye-witness to the Persian historian Minhaz. In his book, Tabaquat-I-Nasiri, he reported as follows (refer to Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India, Part V, 3, by Sukumar Dutt):

“Most of the inhabitants of the places were Brahmanas with shaven heads (Buddhist Monks). They were put to death. Large numbers of books were found there, and when the Mahammadans saw them, they called for some person to explain the contents. But all of the men were killed[none was alive who can read Sanskrit, the killing of monks was so thorough]. It was discovered that the whole fort and city was a place for study [madrasa- Muslim word for Vihara]: in the Hindi language the word Bihar (i.e. Vihara) means a college.”…this passage refers to Nalanda University.

Author continues that thousands of monks were burned alive and yet more thousands beheaded, and the burning of the library[Nalanda] continued for several months.

Hindus were more fortunate because they were not conspicuous except for the robe which can be disguised. Monks, on the other hand, were residents of Nalanda University and could not grew back their shaved head overnight. Location and shaved head gave away who they were and paid the ultimate price for being a Buddhist monk.

Extinction of civilization, normally, occurs when there were epidemic, natural disaster like volcanic eruptions or Tsunami. How Buddhist weres annihilated to extinction from India was a new dimension to history.

In 1235 AD the Tibetan pilgrim Chag Lotsawa found a 90 year old teacher, Rahula Shribhadra, with a class of seventy students. Rahula Shribhadra managed to survive through the support of a local Brahmin and did not leave until he had completed educating his last Tibetan student.

Historical Record (629 – 645AD)
” Journey to the west” episode was based on Xuanzang or Hiuan Tsiang(HT).

Hiuen Tsiang (HT) was a Chinese Buddhist monk and a scholar. He was the most famous Buddhist pilgrim and traveler. HT spent 16 years (629-645AD) on tour.

In Sumarkhand (Uzbakistan) HT saw some abandoned Buddhist temples. At Amu Darya (border between Uzbakistan/Afghanistan) HT met more than thousand Buddhist monks.

HT went to Balkh (Afghanistan) where he met Dharma Simha (Tibetan-ChoeKyiSinghe). Balkh is the oldest city in the region. During that time, 7th Century, there were hundreds of Sangharamas(monasteries) with 3,000 Theravada Buddhist monks. Navbahar (New Temple) was most famous and head priest was a Kashmiri Pramukh(Barmakids).

Note: Before the Arabic marauders, Navbahar was already a victim of Zoroastrian fire-temple.

He crossed into Kapisi (about 60 km north of modern Kabul) where he saw 100 monasteries and 6,000 mostly Mahayana monks.

Buddhism was on decline in Peshawar except for few Stupas, notably the Kaniska Stupa. He went to Udyana (Swat Valley) and found 1,400 old monasteries that had previously supported 18,000 monks. Few monks left were Mahayana school.

Texila or Takhasila (Rewalpindi) lay at the crossroad of three major trade routes- Kashmir, Pataliputra and Puskalavati(Peshawar). Here, HT found 5,000 monks and 100 monasteries. During this visit by HT, Fourth Buddhist Council took place by order of King Kaniska of Kushana (A huge region comprise of modern north Afghanistan, southern Tajikistan, Uzbekistan).

Mathura, a Hindu dominion, had 2,000 Buddhist monks. Kahyakubja(Modern Kanauji, Uttra pradesh) had 100 monasteries and 10,000 monks (Mahayana and Theraveda). He was in Sankasya (twenty-three miles west of Fatehgarh, Uttar Pradesh) where Buddha descended from Heaven.

Varanasi had 1,500 monks and he stayed at Nalanda University for 10 years before he return to China. On his way back to China, HT was invited guest of King of Assam (Karmarupa).

One wonders how such wanton destruction and carnage are humanly possible, without modern ammunitions, but fact remains that they still do. Taliban in Afghanistan destroyed Buddha of Bamyan in 1999. Many Buddhist ruins in Swat Valley (Udiayana) are being destroyed this very day and age.

Historical facts need little help especially Buddhist history. History is a chronological event that human civilization has passed through and left its footprint in the form of bones, artifacts, monuments and dwellings that modern science can date them accurately. However, inherent obstacle is obviously the date. Eastern world, albeit great history, lacks consensus point of reference concerning time. Egyptians, Hindus, Tibetans and Chinese calculate years in relation to Kings and their social events. Such a point of reference is meaningful within its domain but makes no sense when it is compared to rest of the world outside its domain. Stories or anecdotes can be helpful but it lacks acceptability and most of all, if wrong, distorts history.

For instance, Bon religion was there in Tibet before Buddhism arrived. However, new Bon philosophy is akin to Buddhism. If somehow, Bon was there in India before Buddha then one may conclude that Buddhism did not begin with Gautama Buddha which is absurd.

Nalanda University and Nagarjuna:
With above new date of establishment of NU ie 66 BC, there is no discrepancy in confirming that Nagarjuna did attend NU in his formative years.

Aryadeva was NagarJuna’s principal disciple who saved Nalanda with his victory in a debate which was reported, also, by HT in his travelogue.

Where was Buddha born? Nepal or Bihar, India.

Unless climate was different from today’s Bodh Gaya, Gautama Buddha must be from Bihar, India. A Himalayan resident cannot survive the heat of plain India for so long- six years of meditation under a tree.

However, many believes that Gautama Buddha was born in present Lumbini, Nepal. In the past Lumbini in Nepal was called Rumindei. For more go here http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-ENG/buh.htm

Padamasambhava or Guru Rinpoche was born in Ugen Ul, a Tibetan name. Ujjain(also known as Ujjayini, Avanti, Avantikapuri) is in Western Madhiya Pradesh. In ancient India it was called Ujjayini. King Asoka the great was from here. It is said that Asoka who become Buddhist built about 84,000 Stupas. Some historians point to Swat Valley, Pakistan, as Udyana. Both these places sound similar to Ugen.

The Life of Hsuan-Tsang by Hui-li and Yen-ts'ung (Complete Chinese Text Translated into English)

a Youtube footage of Nalanda ruins