December 12, 2014
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Emperor Harshavardhana (Harsha) lived between 590 AD – 647 AD and served the northern part of India. He patronized Nalanda University, whose curriculum encompassed “..virtually the entire range of world knowledge then available. Courses were drawn from every field of learning, Buddhist and Hindu, sacred and secular, foreign and native. Students studied science, astronomy, medicine, and logic as diligently as they applied themselves to metaphysics, philosophy, Samkhya, Yoga-shastra, the Veda, and the scriptures of Buddhism. They studied foreign philosophy likewise.” It is said that the university accommodated over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers, and students/ scholars from regions like Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey where attracted to this school of learning. The following excerpt is taken from the book Spirituality in management: Means or End? authored by SK Chakraborty and Debangshu Chakraborty.
A remarkable value-underpinning for such a complete king as Harsha was, when still quite young, his reluctance to ascend the throne. Considerable persuasion was needed to make him the king after his father’s death. Non-attachment and humility were elements of character which never deserted him throughout his career as a great king.
The most remarkable proof of Harsha’s rajarshi leadership lay in his ‘quinquennial convocation’ of tyaga and seva (renunciation and service), the two strongest pillars of Bharat’s sanatan culture and society… This event used to take place at Prayag over a 2-month period. The process began with the worship of the images of Aditya, Shiva and Buddha for the first three days. For the next twenty days selected Buddhists and Brahmins were gifted with gold, pearls, garments, food etc. The next forty days were devoted to giving alms and sustenance to the poor, the orphans, the destitutes from far and near. Even the King’s belongings were given away. By the end of this maha-yajna in the vast ‘arena of charity’, all the accumulated wealth in the king’s coffers used to be exhausted – so much so that Harsha had to beg a second hand garment from his sister Rajyasri at the closing hour of the event.