From the end of the Gupta period in India, religion in India was more into magic and sexual mysticism. This affected even Buddhism and a new branch called Vajrayana appeared in Eastern India in the 8th century and grew in Bihar and Bengal. A version of this branch, modified by local cults and practices was established in Tibet as a result of missions sent from India. The monastery responsible for this was the Vikramasila, in Bihar.
The ruins of this monastery is located a few miles away from Bargaon village, where Nalanda University was located.
The Tibetan Taranatha’s description in his work, History of Indian Buddhism, in the early 18th century and other minor historiographical works and from references in the colophons of a number manuscripts recovered from Tibet elaborate Vikramasila was the greatest and most famous educational establishment of the time. This university was located on the right bank of the Ganges where the holy river flows northwards.
It was in the Augustan period of Buddhist Pala kings of Bengal Vikramasila emerged the pre-eminent position in the contemporary educational structure of the then India.
This stately educational establishment had six noble gates, each of which was guarded by a scholar Buddhist monk officer of the university designated ‘Gate-keeper Scholar’ (Dvarapalaka Pandit) who examined applicants to the university. It is said that these entry examinations were so tough that of ten applicants only three gained admission. The university granted the degree of Pandit, equivalent now to Master of Arts.
The fame and prestige of Vikramasila are recorded in Tibetan records. This institution had a large measure of association with the great scholar Dipankara Srijnana (980-1053 AD), who having completed his education at Odantapuri University, became the head of the Vikramasila (1034-38 AD). [The historic Vikramasila Buddhist university]
The Palas, the last major dynasty to champion Buddhism were responsible for the revival of Nalanda University and the massive building programme at Somapura, which is now in Paharpur in Bangladesh.