‘Vaishali’ festival of democracy

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    Syllabus: GS1/Art & Culture

    Context

    • Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to organise a festival of democracy in Nalanda University, Bihar.

    About:

    • The ‘Vaishali’ festival of democracy was organised by the Union Culture Ministry in ‘Bharat Mandapam’ as part of the side events of the G-20 Summit.
    • The exhibition titled “Bharat: mother of democracy” was aimed at highlighting the democratic ethos of India.
    • It holds significant historical and cultural importance, as it commemorates the birthplace of democracy and celebrates the enduring values of democratic governance.

    Ancient city of Vaishali:

    • It is a great Buddhist pilgrimage and birthplace of Lord Mahavira, the last Tirthankar of Jainism. It is believed to be the first republic in the world.
    • Buddha visited this place thrice, delivered his last sermon and announced his Nirvana here at Vaishali.
    • After the death of Buddha, the Second Buddhist Council was held at Vaishali.

    Gana or Sangha:

    • It was a different form of government of the Magadha empire.
    • In a gana or a sangha there were many rulers, each one was known as a raja who performed rituals together. They also met in assemblies, and decided what had to be done and how, through discussion and debate.
      • However, women, dasas and kammakaras could not participate in these assemblies.
    • Both the Buddha and Mahavira (about whom you will read in Chapter 7) belonged to ganas or sanghas.
    • Ajatshatru, the great Magadh King, annexed Vaishali in the fifth century BC and after that Vaishali gradually lost its glory and power.
    • UNESCO declared the ruins of Nalanda Mahavihara, a world heritage site.
    Nalanda University

    – It was a centre of higher learning that attracted scholars from different parts of the country as well as the world from the 5th century CE to 12th century CE.
    – It was located in present day Rajgir, Bihar.
    – The courses of study offered by Nalanda University covered a wide range, almost the entire circle of knowledge then available.
    1. Students at Nalanda studied the Vedas and were also trained in fine arts, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics and the art of warfare.
    – The Chinese scholars I-Qing and Xuan Zang visited Nalanda in the 7th century CE and noted that as many as one hundred discourses happened on a daily basis, in a variety of disciplines through the methods of debate and discussions.
    1. Xuan Zang himself became a student of Nalanda to study yogashastra. He has mentioned that the Chancellor of Nalanda, Shilabhadra, was the highest living authority in yoga. 

    Source: TH