Foundation stones laid for Hiuen Tsang museum at Nalanda

Updated on Sep 11, 2022 03:56 PM IST

The Hiuen Tsang museum will showcase relics of the Chinese traveller who taught for years at the ancient Nalanda University

The Hiuen Tsang museum at Nalanda along with a memorial was originally planned in the 1950s. (HT File Photo)
The Hiuen Tsang museum at Nalanda along with a memorial was originally planned in the 1950s. (HT File Photo)

The Nav Nalanda Mahavihar vice chancellor Professor Baidyanath Labh on Friday laid the foundation stones for the Hiuen Tsang museum to mark the Chinese monk’s contributions to Buddhist studies and his visit and stay at the ancient Nalanda University in Bihar.

The foundation stones for the much-awaited museum were laid near the Hiuen Tsang Memorial Hall, located on the premises of the Nav Nalanda Mahavihar, which has been a deemed University under the ministry of culture.

The museum along with the memorial was originally planned in the 1950s.

Chinese monk and traveller Hiuen Tsang arrived as a student and later joined the University as a teacher in 7the Century AD.

The forthcoming museum at Nalanda will showcase Hiuen Tsang’s relic, which is a skull bone, preserved in a crystal casket. At present, this relic casket is at the Patna Museum.

In the 1950s, Bhikkhu Jagdish Kashyap, the great Buddhist scholar and founder director of the Nav Nalanda Mahavihar, requested Zhou En- lai, the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China to provide Hiuen Tsang’s relics which had been preserved at the shrines in China. Kashyap intended to develop a memorial at Nalanda to mark the Chinese traveller’s quest for knowledge and wanted to showcase his relic and life at a museum to commemorate his life bonding with Nalanda and India..

In 1957, the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru received on behalf of the government of India from the spiritual Guru of the Tibetans, Dalai Lama, the relic of Hiuen Tsang in a casket along with some Buddhist texts and a cheque also for the development of Hiuen Tsang memorial hall and museum.

While the Hiuen Tsang memorial hall was inaugurated in the 1980’s and has been run by the Nav Nalanda Mahavihar, the museum had been on the anvil.

“It has been a long pending project of the ministry of culture. We have finally started working over it. The NBCC (National Buildings Construction Corporation) has been given the responsibility to develop the structure,” said Prof Baidyanath Labh.

“The relic of Hiuen Tsang which was intended to be preserved at Nalanda, the land where the Chinese traveller spent years learning and teaching Buddhist philosophies, will be shifted here. At present it is at the Patna Museum,” he said.

“It is a historic moment. The Museum will lead the world towards a new path of global friendship and harmony ,” he added.

Dr Ashok Kumar from the Nav Nalanda Mahavihar said the contributions of Hiuen Tsang in the realm of Buddhist Studies must be acknowledged. “The travel account that he wrote about the life and culture in the state and about the Buddhist Stupas and monks and monasteries in 7th Century AD, has remained the most authentic source of information about ancient Indian history,” he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Reena has been a journalist for over two decades. She has the experience of covering wide range of issues, including art, culture, archaeology, tourism, forest and women issues. She has also authored a book and is a recipient of the ‘Ramdhari Singh Dinkar Award’, given by the government of Bihar.

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