The design of the Indian Nationality Room highlights an ancient Indian educational tradition which reached its zenith at Nalanda University in Central India during the 7th.-12th. century, A.D. Nalanda attracted thousands of students, including many from outside of India. At its zenith it epitomized a period of Indian history that is referred to as the age of Indian Renaissance. This was a period that not only saw more political and artistic unity than at any other time, it also represented the peak of India's artistic development in music, painting, literature, drama and architecture.
Nalanda University was renowned in its day as a great center for learning, and this is illustrated in several ways throughout the Indian Nationality Room. Upon the corridor wall are three watercolor panels created by the Indian artist M.S. Chandrasekhar, which show male and female international students; also shown is the 7th century Chinese traveler Hsuan Tsang saying farewell to Nalanda's renowned monk-scholar Silabhadra while he takes away the sutras that he learned from during his two years at Nalanda; finally, the right panel shows international visitors who came to Nalanda. Directly across from the Chandrasekhar panels is a bronze replica of a 9th century copper plate bearing the seal of Nalanda University and the Sanskrit words upon the plate are King Devapaladeva's mandate exhorting villagers of the five communities around Nalanda to provide maintenance and supplies for the monks. This meant that student monks were exempt from begging for daily food and they could devote their entire day to their studies.
At the end of the Indian Nationality Room is a replica of a fragment from Stupa Number 3, considered the stupa of Sariputra (Buddha's disciple and the treasurer of the faith). From one of the towers and staircases at Stupa Number 3 various Buddhas and Boddhisatvas were found modelled from stucco. Such elements inform the appearance of the replica shown here.
The written word is shown in abundance in the Indian Nationality Room, which pays homage to the library tradition found at Nalanda. A stone plaque along the window wall presents an excerpt from the Rig Veda in scripts representing the sixteen official languages of India, "Let noble thoughts come to us from every side." The seal of Nalanda University is shown upon the professor's lectern and the chalkboard doors. Display cases show, among many items, Vedic books and various other books related to the rich tapestry of people and beliefs in India.
Crowning the lintel above the entrance is a stone carving of the Lions of Sarnath, from the 3rd century Emperor Asoka. Emblematic of goodwill and knowledge, the lions symbolize power, courage and confidence; all of this rests upon a full-blooming lotus which exemplifies life and creative aspiration.
Throughout the Indian Room, the virtues of education are shown within a developmental history of this most famous ancient Indian University. It is fitting that the synergy created by this image of Nalanda University within the University of Pittsburgh inspires visitors to consider that "truth alone triumphs (Satyameva Jayate)."
The Indian Nationality Room Committee is very active throughout the year promoting Indian culture. Please click here for information about the annual Indian Independance Day celebration, held in the Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh.
Saroj Bahl, Chair, Indian Nationality Room Committee
Rashmi Ravindera, Co-Chair, Indian Nationality Room Committee
Dr. Karan Singh, Honorary Chair International Committee
ARCHITECT/DESIGNER: Deepak Wadhwani AIA, Renaissance 3 Architects
CHIEF ARTISTIC CONSULTANT: Rajeev Sethi
STYLE: Nalanda, 7th-12th. century A.D.
DEDICATED: January 9th, 2000
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Created by Marie Mazzocco, updated by Michael Walter, October 2008.
Sound clips edited by John Rehbun and Carl Kuzmich from the Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education (CIDDE) at the University of Pittsburgh