History tells us that successive Gupta kings constructed additional Viharas which eventually led to the establishment of the Mahavihara. Tibetan historical accounts of Taranatha indicate that Nalanda came into existence at the beginning of the Christian era with the background of the rise of Mahayana Buddhism. He accredited Nagarjuna (1st/2nd century A.D.), with having first propounded the Madhyamika School of Mahayana Philosophy, as its first Acarya and listed all the prominent Acaryas of later times who resided in the Mahavihara. The Chinese traveller Xuanzang also suggests a date which may be pushed back to the 1st century AD. In the 7th century A.D. he said that no monk from the Sangharama has been found guilty of breaking rule for the last seven hundred years.
After the Gupta kings, the Mahavihara never suffered for want of royal assistance. The next important royal patron was the king of ' Kannauj. During his time, the Mahavihara was at the apex of its development and was considered to be a model academic institution whose reputation spread far and wide in the East and Far East. It was during Harsa's reign that the famous Chinese traveller Xuanzang came to Nalanda to study. The cultural legacy of Nalanda was finally taken over by the Pala kings who promoted it for several centuries. The contributions of the Pala Kings to the Mahavihara are preserved in its ruins most of which date back to the Pala period (810-850 A.D.). The conception of Mahavihara-bhikshu-sanghasya perhaps developed during this period for the-earlier Chinese travellers Xuanzang and I-tsing use the term Sangharama. Besides the Mahavihara of Nalanda, some other establishments that flourished during the Pala period also refer to the phraseology indicating the name.
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