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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)

Vikramashila (विक्रमशिला) was one of the two most important centres of Buddhist learning in India during the Pala empire, along with Nalanda. Vikramashila was established by King Dharmapala (783 to 820) in response to a supposed decline in the quality of scholarship at Nalanda. Atisha, the renowned pandit, is sometimes listed as a notable abbot.


  • Vikramshila विक्रमशिला, जिला भागलपुर, बिहार, (p.850)


Vikramashila (village Antichak, district Bhagalpur, Bihar) is located at about 50 km east of Bhagalpur and about 13 km north-east of Kahalgaon, a railway station on Bhagalpur-Sahebganj section of Eastern Railway. It is approachable through 11 km long motorable road diverting from N.H.80 at Anadipur about 2 km from Kahalgaon.

Vikramashila is known to us mainly through Tibetan sources, especially the writings of Tāranātha, the Tibetan monk historian of the 16th-17th centuries.[1]

Vikramasila was one of the largest Buddhist universities, with more than one hundred teachers and about one thousand students. It produced eminent scholars who were often invited by foreign countries to spread Buddhist learning, culture and religion. The most distinguished and eminent among all was Atiśh Dipankar, a founder of the Sarma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Subjects like philosophy, grammar, metaphysics, Indian logic etc. were taught here, but the most important branch of learning was tantrism.


It prospered for about four centuries before it was destroyed by Bakhtiyar Khilji during fighting with the Sena dynasty along with the other major centres of Buddhism in India around 1200.[2]


The remains of the ancient university have been partially excavated at village Antichak in the Bhagalpur district, Bihar state, India, and the process is still underway. Meticulous excavation at the site was conducted initially by B. P. Sinha of Patna University (1960–69) and subsequently by Archaeological Survey of India (1972–82).

It has revealed a huge square monastery with a cruciform stupa in its centre, a library building and cluster of votive stupas.[3] To the north of monastery a number of scattered structures including a Tibetan and a Hindu temple have been found. The entire spread is over an area of more than one hundred acres.

The monastery, or residence for the Buddhist monks, is a huge square structure, each side measuring 330 metres having a series of 208 cells, 52 on each of the four sides opening into a common verandah. A few brick arched underground chambers beneath some of the cells have also been noticed which were probably meant for confined meditation by the monks.

The main stupa built for the purpose of worship is a brick structure laid in mud mortar which stands in the centre of the square monastery. This two-terraced stupa is cruciform on plan and about 15 metres high from the ground level accessible through a flight of steps on the north side. On each of the four cardinal directions there is a protruding chamber with a pillared antechamber and a separate pillared mandapa in front. In the four chambers of the stupa were placed colossal stucco images of seated Buddha of which three were found in situ but the remaining one on north side was possibly replaced by a stone image after the clay image was somehow damaged.

About 32 metres south of the monastery on its south west corner and attached with the main monastery through a narrow corridor is a rectangular structure identified as a library building. It was air-conditioned by cooled water of the adjoining reservoir through a range of vents in the back wall. The system was perhaps meant for preserving delicate manuscripts.

A large number of antiquities of different materials, unearthed from this place in the course of excavation, are displayed in the site museum maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.


विक्रमशिला (p.850): विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[4] ने लेख किया है ..... विक्रमशिला, ज़िला भागलपुर, बिहार में स्थित है। विक्रमशिला में प्राचीन काल में एक प्रख्यात विश्वविद्यालय स्थित था, जो प्रायः चार सौ वर्षों तक नालन्दा विश्वविद्यालय का समकालीन था। कुछ विद्वानों का मत है कि इस विश्वविद्यालय की स्थिती भागलपुर नगर से 19 मील दूर कोलगाँव रेल स्टेशन के समीप थी। कोलगाँव से तीन मील पूर्व गंगा नदी के तट पर बटेश्वरनाथ का टीला नामक स्थान है, जहाँ पर अनेक प्राचीन खण्डहर पड़े हुए हैं। इनसे अनेक मूर्तियाँ भी प्राप्त हुई हैं, जो इस स्थान की प्राचीनता सिद्ध करती हैं।

अन्य विद्वानों के विचार में विक्रमशिला, ज़िला भागलपुर में पथरघाट नामक स्थान के निकट बसा हुआ था। बंगाल के पाल नरेश धर्मपाल ने 8वीं शती ई. में इस प्रसिद्ध बौद्ध महाविद्यालय की नींव डाली थी। यहाँ पर लगभग 160 विहार थे, जिनमें अनेक विशाल प्रकोष्ठ बने हुए थे। विद्यालय में सौ शिक्षकों की व्यवस्था थी। नालन्दा की भाँति विक्रमशिला विश्‍वविद्यालय भी बौद्ध संसार में सर्वत्र सम्मान की दृष्टि से देखा जाता था। इस महाविद्यालय के अनेक सुप्रसिद्ध विद्वानों में दीपांकर श्रीज्ञान अतीश (Atish Dipankar) प्रमुख थे। ये ओदंतपुरी के विद्यालय के छात्र थे और विक्रमशिला के आचार्य। 11वीं शती में तिब्बत के राजा के निमंत्रण पर ये वहाँ पर गए थे। तिब्बत में बौद्ध धर्म के प्रचार-प्रसार में इनका योगदान बहुत महत्त्वपूर्ण समझा जाता है।

12वीं शती में यह विश्वविद्यालय एक विराट् शिक्षा–संस्था के रूप में प्रसिद्ध था। इस समय में यहाँ पर तीन सहस्र विद्यार्थियों की शिक्षा के लिए समुचित व्यवस्था थी। संस्था का एक प्रधान अध्यक्ष तथा छः विद्वानों की एक समीति मिलकर विद्यालय की परीक्षा, शिक्षा, अनुशासन आदि का प्रबन्ध करती थी। 1203 ई. में मुसलमानों ने जब बिहार पर आक्रमण किया, तब नालन्दा की भाँति विक्रमशिला को भी उन्होंने पूर्णरूपेण नष्ट–भ्रष्ट कर दिया। बख़्तियार ख़िलजी ने 1202-1203 ई. में विक्रमशिला महाविहार को नष्ट कर दिया था। यहाँ के विशाल पुस्तकालय को आग के हवाले कर दिया था, उस समय यहाँ पर 160 विहार थे जहां विद्यार्थी अध्ययनरतथे। इस प्रकार यह महान् विश्वविद्यालय, जो उस समय एशिया भर में विख्यात था, खण्डहरों के रूप में परिणत हो गया।


  1. "Excavated Remains at Nalanda - UNESCO World Heritage Centre"
  2. Scott, David (May 1995). "Buddhism and Islam: Past to Present Encounters and Interfaith Lessons". Numen 42 (2): 141–155. doi:10.1163/1568527952598657.
  3. ASI to develop ancient site of Vikramshila Mahavihara, The Times of India, 10 October 2009.
  4. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.850