Odantapuri

Odantapuri (also called Odantapura or Uddandapura) was a Buddhist Mahavihara in what is now Bihar, India. It was established by the second Pala Emperor Dharma Pala in the 8th century.[1] It is considered the second oldest of India's Mahaviharas after Nalanda University and was situated in Magadha.

Acharya Ganga jee of Vikramashila was a student at this Mahavihara. According to the Tibetan records there were about 12,000 students at Odantapuri which was situated at a mountain called Hiranya Prabhat Parvat and by the bank of the river Panchanan.

In the modern era, it is situated in Bihar Sharif, headquarters of Nalanda district.

In a Tibetan history of the Kalachakra tantra[2] by Ngakwang Künga Sönam, 27th Sakya Trizin (Wylie: ngag dbang kun dga' bsod nams,1597–1659), it is mentioned that Odantapuri was administered by "Sendha-pa", the Tibetan referent for a Śrāvakayāna Buddhist school. According to the Tibetan historian Tāranātha, King Mahāpāla supported 500 Śrāvakasaṅgha bhikshus at Odantapuri. As an annex to this monastery, he built a monastery called Uruvasa, where he supported 500 Sendha-pa or Sendhava Sravaka.[3] During the reign of King Rāmapāla, a thousand monks, belonging to both Hinayana and Mahayana, lived in Odantapuri and occasionally even twelve thousand monks congregated there.[4] According to Peter Skilling, the "Sendha-pa" Śrāvaka-s could possibly have been Sāmmatīya-s since the probable derivation of "Sendha-pa" is from the Sanskrit saindhava or ‘residents of Sindh’ where the Sāmmatīya-s were the predominant school.[5] Tāranātha links the Sendhapa or Sendhava Śrāvaka monks at the Mahabodhi at Bodhgaya to the “Singha Island”, i.e. Sri Lanka, and “other places”.[6]

A number of monasteries grew up during the Pala period in ancient Bengal and Magadha. According to Tibetan sources, five great mahaviharas stood out: Vikramashila, the premier university of the era; Nalanda, past its prime but still illustrious, Somapura Mahavihara, Odantapuri, and Jagaddala.[7] The five monasteries formed a network; "all of them were under state supervision" and there existed "a system of co-ordination among them . . it seems from the evidence that the different seats of Buddhist learning that functioned in eastern India under the Pala were regarded together as forming a network, an interlinked group of institutions," and it was common for great scholars to move easily from position to position among them.[8]

The university perished, along with Nalanda, at the hands of Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji around 1193.[citation needed]