Naropa University's founding was inspired by Nalanda University, established in Northern India in the 5th century, CE.
At Nalanda, Buddhist philosophy and the discipline of meditation provided an environment in which scholars, teachers, and students from many countries and religious backgrounds came to study, debate, and share their respective traditions.
The university takes its name from the 11th century abbot of Nalanda University, Naropa.
As one of Nalanda University's most learned teachers and scholars, Naropa also recognized that the acquisition of knowledge alone was not the primary way to achieve wisdom and a deep understanding of the world—that knowledge was only one part of the equation.
This insight remains a vital element of Naropa University's educational mission.