1 ‘NALANDA CULTURE’ AS AN ARCHETYPAL OF GLOBAL EDUCATION IN ETHICS: AN APPROACH

Thứ năm - 09/05/2019 12:39
by Anand Singh



 
NALANDA CULTUREAS AN ARCHETYPAL OF GLOBAL EDUCATION IN ETHICSAN APPROACH

by Anand Singh*







ABSTRACT

Buddhism has made a unique contribution to global culture, growth of education, and ethics. Indian Buddhism as a monastic institution developed an inimitable educational ethics based on śramanic tradition. It created plethora of knowledge in the field of Abhidharma, epistemology, metaphysics and other disciplines of education. The Mahāvihāra tradition, otherwise known as Buddhist universities was started first time in Nālandā monastic complex in the early centuries of the common era. This mode of education was different from monastic education. In this scholastic tradition not only the Buddhist curriculum but also knowledge of all disciplines was taught. It was really a cosmopolitan approach in which people from different faiths, from different parts of the world could come, reside, and embrace variety of knowledge with all super specialties. It was a first kind of model which promoted global education ethics to global citizens. In fact, Buddhism innovated this style that how a humanitarian ethics could be universalized through the teachings of the Buddha. The aim here was that settling moral dilemmas in the monastic and general context have a limited chance of producing an enduring fruitful and educational outcome because dilemmas are




*. Prof. Dr., School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions, Nalanda University, Nalanda, India.
 


typically constructed by arbitrarily ruling out meaningful options. Therefore, the scrutiny on moral subjects needs to be accompanied by the exploration of alternatives through philosophical inquiry and ethical values. However, ethical inquiry does not happen by itself, something needs to provide an opportunity for it to occur. Settling immediate moral dilemmas is not the goal of monastic ethical inquiry; the initial concern is to conduct ourselves in regard to such matters. Therefore, encouraging people to engage in ethical inquiry in the monasteries is a matters of genuine ethical concern. Nālandā has been precursor of other such Buddhist universities in India and the world and its contribution could be rightly said as ‘Nalanda Culture. The contemporary world also needs such a wonderful model to solve, accept, and propagate global education in ethics.
  1. EVOLUTION OF NALANDA CULTURE

The foundation of this Buddhist landscape in Nālandā was accentuated with frequent visits of the Buddha and delivery of some of his important suttas and also because of birth places of two of his most important disciples Sariputta and Mahamoggalana in Nālandā sacred zone. The special geographical attention has been given in the Ganga Valley where Nālandā was connected to Buddhism and monastic education. The foundation of Buddhism in Nālandā was laid by the Buddha but its real ascendancy began in the age of Asoka in the 3rd century BCE and it generated substantial level of scholarship especially of Mahāyāna Buddhism because of its development as a great Centre of learning since the Gupta age onwards. Nālandā` is situated in the Mid Ganga Valley (24030N to 27050’ N and 81047’ E to 87050E) in its southern fringes Ganga plains with Chotanagpur gneissic formation and circumference in the north, south, east, and west by Patna, Gaya, Navada and Jahanabad districts of Bihar respectively. The geographical feature leaves an imprint on landscape of Nālandā through monastic establishments, ritual practices, population structure, and life style. It concerns with linking geography and cosmology in the mind of religious followers and worshippers and in that sense existence of a sacred space that incorporates such religious ideas is evident from time immemorial. (Kong, 1990). The general process involved in
 


spreading of such ideas is through diffusion between believers and non-believers sometimes deliberately by the monastic institution in a hope that the people will adhere their ideas and practices.

It showsspecialbondbetweenBuddhismandotherphenomenon which starts with experience and observation about the spatial attributes of Buddhism and then those doctrinal and ecological aspects in form of relationship with another phenomenon. Their beliefs and attempts to demonstrate the input also offer the spatial and ecological virtues of another existing phenomenon. Religious pattern is so important and interrelated with the life pattern of numerous communities of a sacred complex. The main credential is that the religious beliefs and practices influence the natural environment, sacred complex and spatial characteristics of a natural and cultural phenomenon. (Stoddard and Prorok, 2003). The characteristics of sacred complex is the manifestation of power that requires to regulate and command. It consists of a specific regional zone that incorporates all the propensities associated with the land. Frequently sacred sites are confronted with accompanying issues of ownership, maintenance and access to site as well as its identification as sacred. The stakes are high when local population and faithful develop trust that certain territory belong to him. (Ibid: 2003:762) It might be true for Nālandā monastic establishment when it was fully developed as a university and because of numerous land grants and patronages the sacred space of Nālandā was closely defined. But early phase of Nālandā has no such sacred boundary. The monks and lay followers visited the site, and stayed but monopolizing the properties was not the feature of the early Buddhism. The economic life of monasteries was basically run and maintained on gift of nissaya i.e. food, dress, medicine and shelter. The features of land grant to monasteries developed only in early centuries of common era. The teachers of Nālandā as deliverer of the knowledge, as disciplinary or epistemic authority, as motivator or even as generator of knowledge has a local function in traditional educational settings. They worked to direct the group toward auto facilitation where each member of the community can enjoy some experience of leadership and nurturing the process as a whole. Here the goal of the facilitators is to distribute their function amongst the members and to experience the dialogue 
as one among many monastic members, albeit one with a special role. Also, the teacher models the skill of group dialogue and makes complicated interventions related to the psychodynamic structure of the student as a whole or the conceptual structure of the argument that the student is involved with. Since this work of clarification and generation of new ideas out of confrontation is a nonlinear process, it is accompanied by branching, recursion, the emergence of some unpredictable and irrelevant materials and the presence of communicative noise. Nālandā encompassed arena to understand and describe the spatial variations among the followers, virtues, and activities considered as sacred.

The stūpas, monasteries and other sanctified sites are identified by observable religious structure and ceremonies. Certain ceremonies were performed only at certain specific sites such as stūpas of Sariputta and Mahāmoggalana had special worshipping for them. It creates frequent motivation for religious journeys to that sacred sites by the believers and followers. The ceremonial events within the sīmā of sacred site are important factor for emergence of sacred religious geography of Nālandā. The spatial and environmental dimensions, religious behaviours, artifacts and attitude are important features to examine because spiritually motivated convictions and actions play an important role in human affairs. (Ibid, 2003:759). The geography of Buddhism in Nālandā is primarily concerned with how religious form affect landscape. It has internal and external dimensions which relate to its ethics and ceremonies. The effect of myth on development of landscape and its implications in the perception of space is also important. Religious experience symbolizes space by assessing religious values to natural phenomenon. The question lies in transforming the powers of religion upon the landscape and why in different cultures have different adaptability and susceptibility. (Issac, 1959-60). The cultural geography of any sacred complex is concerned with two kinds of relationship, the interaction between a culture and its complex earth environment and secondly the spatial interaction among different cultures. As society and economy became more complex, symbolism and abstraction of ecological concerns increase the process of assimilation. It became intensified as tradition moves from ethnic to universal. (Sopher,  1981). In Nālandā
Buddhism is imbued with doctrine, myth, ethics, and ceremonies. It is experimental, part of the lived world and such is inextricably social. Here homogeneity between religious elements and physical environment could be introspected and it is an ordering experience relating to other relations. It is structuring in congruence and accord with social relations. The religious acts as elements of the landscape can be treated as visible and physical. The important elements of landscape like shelter, population, economic resources, occupation and genre can be examined to deal with the religious phenomenon of the region. The way of life and human use of environment has not only been directed towards people but it also orients towards sacred. (Deffontaines, 1953). Another important factor that could be seen in Nālandā monastic complex is avoidance of conflict for any economic cause. A mechanism to avoid conflict developing within the settlement was that people often shifted to new areas where the same structure was repeated and internal tension was avoided. Such migration of a certain group began the process of totem and origin of myth of many descent groups mentioned in Buddhist literature. Such migrations are known in the Ganga valley since the late second to the first millennium BCE. The spread of Painted Grey ware sites from dense concentration in the upper Ganga-Yamuna doab to lesser concentration in central and southern doab and the area east of doab would suggest such migrating pattern.(Thapar, 2000).

The sacred landscape of Nālandā was developed because a number of factors already existed there. Nālandā is mostly covered by alluvial soil except the hilly region of Rājagriha. The whole region is marked by four types of soil formation; clay loam, fine loam, loam, and coarse loam mainly take from alluvium deposits of the southern Ganga plain. These alluvial deposits have been brought from southern uplands and is relatively coarser in nature. Nālandā lacks ox-bow lakes and in narrow Gangapar plain at the west of the river Karmanasa, a special topography is arising from the contacts of the plains with small, flat topped, and heavily eroded hillocks supported by embayment of alluvium soil. The relief east of Karmanasa is free from the pent land topography. The southern edge is more regular. The lower Son Valley is physiographic. In Magadha- Anga plain a number of hills such as the Barabar, Jethian and Nāgarjuni hills, etc are found. (Singh, 1993). The rich alluvium 
soil and growing agrarian structure produced sufficient economic growth. The people not only could feed their family, sell it for profit but also gifted to the bhikkhus and the bhikkhunis for religious merits. (Singh, 2018). The region is known for paddy cultivation and it is the main crop of the Magadha- Anga region. The multitude of references of bhatta (rice) in almsgiving in Buddhism literature, shows importance of paddy cultivation. The lay followers usually invite the monks for meals (bhatta). Sometimes selected monks were invited (salakabhatta) and sometimes the whole saṃgha was invited (samghabhatta). The people who sponsored such meals were known as bhattar. The bhattauddesaka is considered to be supervisor who assign particular monks to visit particular house. (Findly, 2003). The wide stretch of flood plain of north Bihar provides vast land for it. The banks of jheels and chaurs gave a marshy land outlook to landscape. Buddhist texts informs about paddy cultivation and the varieties of rice as much as Vedic literature mentions cows. (Thapar, 2001). This region is also dominated by forests, hills and caves. Rājagriha is an important hill side and Barabar, Jethian, Rajapinda had lot of caves. It facilitated meditation for the monks and nuns, an important requisite for them to attain nibbāna. In the Theragātha and the Therīgātha numerous suttas are mentioned, praising Gijjhakuta and its surroundings. Another factor is that Nālandā was also able to develop sacred spots to attract not only monks and nuns but also lay followers. It was not only the Buddha who preached some of the important suttas here but also number of Buddhist monks like Sariputta, Mahāmoggalana born  and took mahāparinibbāna here. A number of prominent scholars like Nāgarjuna and Padmasambhava were associated with it. So since early age Nālandā was pilgrimage for the Buddhist followers. It may be said that all religion in their development exhibit more or less manifest culture that include ceremonies, symbols, and behaviours. Because of such development the religious phenomenon appears in real relationship with the earths surface and so examined spatially. It depends on three concepts; sanctity, ceremonies and toleration. There are two types of sanctity, nature-magic, which is identified with space or things and historical -religious which is related to a person or an event. It will lead to sanctification or vice-versa. It is important here to acknowledge the virtues of ceremonies, religious arrangements and their applications. It can distinguish between religious ceremonies that is oriented to life from perpetual ceremonies that is more oriented to commandments and prohibitions. (Fickeler, 1962). The idea of toleration could be seen in Nālandā and had been noticed during the age of the Buddha. In this age Nālandā was an important Centre of Jains and Ᾱjivikas. Both Vardhamana Mahāvira and Makkhaliputta Gośala resided here. In the early centuries of common era absorption of Brāhmanical deities and vice versa are quite visible in sculptures and architecture of Nālandā. However hostilities also could be seen in art and literature where Brāhmanical and Buddhist ideologies contesting with each other not only in literary debates but also visible in images and arts.

Imparting practical knowledge and learning were applauding aspect of the study at Nālandā. The theoretical teachings were also introduced in the lives of the monks practically. Education as conceived and understood by the custodians and professors of Nālandā did mean their all around development that is intellectual, moral and spiritual and aesthetic. (Chaudhry, 2000). Inside the Mahāvihāra, monks and nuns were trained to live a highly moral and spiritual life according to the precepts laid down by the Buddha. Outside of the Mahāvihāra, Nālandā education covered both leading a successful and peaceful life in the society and at times to prepare the self to be propsperous. I-ching informs that sometimes the monks of Nālandā Mahāvihāra went to the Kings court and after showing their abilities in Buddhist scriptures get monetary help or academic/administrative positions. Even people who had not earned degree from Nalanda, boasted of having education from here. The Chinese travelers say that even those who stole the name of Nālandā were all treated with respect wherever they went. (Beal, 1969). All educational institutions are extended shadows of its great teachers, scholars and alumnus. Nālandā, was alike the extended shadow of its scholars and students. At one point of time as many as 10.000 resident monks resided at Nālandā. (Beal, 1973). The curriculum at Nalanda was a skillful blend of secular and religious knowledge. It included language and grammar, arts, medicine, logic and philosophy, as well as exhaustive study of the works of 
the eighteen sects of Buddhism. It had students from countries like Korea, Japan, China, Tibet and other parts of Asia.
  1. NALANDĀ  CULTURE’  AS  AN  ARCHETYPAL  OF  GLOBAL EDUCATION
 
    1. Nālandā Mahāvihāra was situated in a region where people embraced a wide variety of beliefs from the many branches of the Buddhist faith and it represents throughout the land to the worlds other major religions and to beliefs which lie out with religious traditions. Such diversity enriches this region and serves as an inspiring and thought-provoking background for monks and students to develop their own beliefs and values. Religious and moral education enabled them to explore the Indias other religions and views which are independent of their religious belief. It supports in developing and reflecting upon their values and their capacity for moral judgement. Through developing awareness and appreciation of the value of each individual in a diverse society, religious and moral education stimulates responsible attitudes to other people. This awareness and appreciation had assisted in counteracting prejudice and intolerance as they consider issues such as sectarianism and discrimination more broadly. Such benevolent attitude in academic curriculum is still possible.
 
    1. Religious and moral education is a process where monks and novices engaged in a search for meaning, value and purpose in life. This involves both the exploration of beliefs and values and the study of how such beliefs and values could be articulated. They must become aware that beliefs and values are fundamental to monastic system, families, and to the fabric of society in communities, local and global. There is an intrinsic value in learning about religion as well as learning from religion, as students develop their understanding of diversity in our society and their own roles in it. The skills of reflection, critical thinking and an enhanced understanding of the beliefs and values of others are all crucial in this process.
 
    1. Learning through religious education enabled monks to recognize religion as an important expression of human experience and learning about the beliefs, values, practices and traditions of Buddhism.Itexploredanddevelopedknowledgeandunderstandinof different sects of Buddhism and investigated the responses which religious and non-religious views can offer to questions about the nature and meaning of life. It also advances their beliefs, attitudes, values and practices through reflection, discovery, and critical evaluation which further makes a positive difference to the world by putting their beliefs and values into action.
    1. Logic, epistemology, and moral education were essential part of every students educational experience in Nālandā. The experiences and outcomes relating to the development of their own beliefs and values do not form a separate context but intertwined with the experiences and outcomes for Buddhism. When planning for religious and moral education, Buddhist institutions can take account of the communities and the context in which modern society lives and learns. Through their learning in religious and moral education people will develop an understanding of Buddhism, which has shaped the history and traditions of many countries of Asia and continues to exert an influence on global values.
 
    1. It is also a fundamental truth that some of the students of Nālandā Mahāvihāra had a range of faiths and views. Indeed, their experiences and outcomes led to extending their learning far beyond the local context to global context. Now adopting the same view of active learning approaches and collaborative learning will encourage people to discuss and share ideas, experiences and moral challenges in a variety of ways. It will develop skills for life and wosrk.
 
    1. It was also a tradition in Nālandā that students from within any faith were treated with compassion and care. It should be inculcated in contemporary societies too. While some may wish to apprise their faith, others may not. One should not assume that any person should be automatically drawn upon as a source of information. Viewpoints independent of religious belief can be considered within the learning and teaching approaches adopted for Buddhism. The experiences and outcomes in growth of beliefs and values support the development of wider understanding  and  infuse  learning and teaching. Above all, it is the teacher who carries the stimulus and challenge critical ideas in accomplishing aspirations for all. It is imperative to acknowledge local conditions and communitexpectations. It is also important to avoid superficial treatment of too many religious views and too many characteristics which is potentially puzzling. However, while one or more dimensions of Buddhism will be studied in depth, teachers may also desire to draw upon carefully selected aspects of other religions, possibly in the context of interdisciplinary erudition.
    1. The context of inquiry often leads educators to appropriate points where viewpoints independent of religious belief, and traditions can be measured. The processes associated with the idea of personal search remain a key component of learning in Buddhism. The context of study should encourage the development of persons own beliefs and values in addition to developing his knowledge and understanding of values, practices, and traditions. This can be achieved through consideration of, reflection upon and response to the challenges presented by religious beliefs and values.
 
    1. Nālandā Cultureencourages  that  beliefs  and  values is embedded in the framework of exploring religions and its viewpoints. Eighteen types of teachings were taught in the Mahāvihāra and the Pandits recognized that assessment of religious and moral education will focus on peoples knowledge and understanding of religious practices and traditions and on their skills in making them informed, responsive to issues and morality. By practicing this, the students will be able to demonstrate their progress through increasingly reflective responses to the beliefs, values, practices and traditions for themselves and others. Values such as tolerance, wisdom, compassion and integrity are constantly being passed through all aspects of the life as a community. These can be further developed through exploration and discussion in religious and moral education. The people should be given opportunities to participate in service to others and to meet people who demonstrate their faith in action. They will learn from all those who offer inspiration, challenge and support.
 
    1. The ethical education based on curriculum of Nālandā gives experiences and encourages links with other areas of the learning to provide learners with deeper, more enjoyable and active understandings. These experiences lead much to the growth of the following capacities in a person, he becomes a successful learnerpoised and accountable individual and effective contributor. Religious and moral education has strong associations with learning for humanism, enterprise, creativity and sustainability. Nālandā Culture’ offer opportunities to relate religious and moral education to global contexts and to raise contemporary moral and ethical issues. The expressive learning fetches means through reflecting upon the learning and values of others. It raises awareness and understanding of different views and beliefs and promote discussion and debate.
    1. What ‘Nālandā Culture’ implores that is an understanding of religion is a part of society and should be addressed within its own social framework. It is getting increasing consensus in contemporary multi-cultural society. The increase in Buddhist- based adaptability and religious plurality have reinforced this awareness. It emphasizes the important role Buddhism has to play in facilitating intercultural dialogue about the safeguarding and promotion of compassion, and peace. In addition, it organizes meetings with different religious communities and enters into a dialogue in order to exchange ideas on common concerns such as education and human rights. Not to engage in dialogue makes it easy to develop a stereotypical perception of the other religions and cultures, create a climate of mutual suspicion, tension, and anxiety, and generally foster intolerance and discrimination.





 
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