Revolutions have concrete dates like the familiar July 4, 1776, but no such date does justice to the build-up. Such dates ignore the tectonic movements of history, the pregnant pauses and sudden spikes under the surface, without which volcanoes remain dormant and mountains don't move. Without the preexisting global fault lines of colonialism, the Enlightenment and the mental makeup of settlers, July 4, 1776, means nothing. In truth, the history of July 4, 1776, and everything after that date, goes back hundreds of years.
Naropa University's history, then, dates back to around the 5th century.
Naropa University is based on Nalanda University. Established under the auspices of Mahayana Buddhism, Nalanda flourished in India from the 5th to the 12th centuries. At Nalanda, Buddhist philosophy and the discipline of meditation provided the environment in which scholars, artists and healers from many Asian countries and religious traditions came to study, debate and learn from one another.
Contemporaries knew Nalanda for its joining of intellect and intuition, and for the atmosphere of mutual appreciation and respect among different contemplative traditions. This has become the ongoing inspiration for the development of Naropa University. Particularly renowned for bringing together scholarly wisdom with meditative insight was Nalanda's 11th-century abbot, a great Buddhist scholar, teacher and practitioner named Naropa, for whom the present-day Naropa University is named.
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