Monday, November 23, 2009

Introduction to Nava Nalanda Mahavihar

Nava Nalanda Mahavihar is a Deemed University and a research Institute specialized in the field of Pali and Buddhism. It integrates and unfolds knowledge in threefold manner as per the Buddhist tradition namely: Pariyatti (Theoretical Knowledge), Patipatti (Practice) and Pativeda (Experience). While Nava Nalanda Mahavihara is the Place of Pariyatti, Nava Nalanda Mahavihara Sanskritik Gram (NNMSG) is conceptualized for Engaged Buddhism.

Buddhism besides being a popular religion also offers spiritual and philosophical teachings in a very secular way and its beliefs are invariably a way of life. Engaged Buddhism is where the principles of Buddha’s teachings are taken beyond the boundaries of a temple and used to coexist in harmony with other beings; loving kindness and compassion to all living. It is a contemporary approach that is actively involved with the social, economic, social and ecological problems of society. Its philosophical and ethical roots lie deeply within traditional Buddhist philosophy and values, which it applies it to contemporary problems.

Buddhism talks about how to be at home in the universe, right conduct of an individual in the society and responsibility of individuals towards the larger environment. It has references about Buddha preaching on right livelihood, the necessity to save money, and about benefiting from the natures abundance without exploiting it.

At NNMSG, we plan to involve community and design together sustainable livelihoods from the growing tourism. To encourage the awareness of public and letting them participate in an informed interaction and develop a coherent system that would entail privileges and obligations to maintaining the vast heritage of Nalanda while benefiting from it. The responsibility of conserving lies with the community and the tourists and there is a strong need for education about our resources and to put in place a directive to preserve what is discovered so far and for all that is still to be unearthed.

The project began with a Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) in an effort to start a dialogue among people about the issues and provide them with the opportunity to participate in the decision process. It would imbibe the concern of all citizens at various relevant levels and enabled these communities to assess the situation.

It helps the communities to identify and explore the opportunities for the scope of improvement to make it a beneficial process for the people and the surroundings. This process will increase interaction and analysis of current problems and provide bases for sustainable solutions necessary to effect changes throughout the project implementation.

PRA is a useful method to gather baseline information to capture public opinion and fortify decision making. PRA was selected to facilitate early and genuine community involvement in the tourism project which could initiate large-scale changes in the Vicinity of Remains of ancient Nalanda University and could be used as a guideline for similar community owned tourism project at Nalanda and around. This PRA exercise was conducted in collaboration with Department of tourism (Government of Bihar).

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