Xuanzang has mentioned in his “Travel” accounts about the first monastic unit by King Sakraditya. Hwui Lun also describes that Nalanda University was built by the old king Sakraditya for Bhikshu of north India. And that he had to struggle a lot to establish the monastery here and it was later kings who finished the obstruction and later developed it as a magnificent centre in whole of Jambudvipa.
Xuanzang further describes that this first monastery was not under use and that suggests that it had served its useful life and was already out of purpose by the 7th century. At the time of Xuanzang’s visit there was a tradition where 40 monks visited the Monastery everyday and took their meal there.
The Verbatim from,
Yuan Chwang’s travels in India by Thomas Watters, Vol-2, P-165,
“In the monastery built by Sakraditya”, the pilgrim continues “there is now an image of Buddha and every day 40 brethren are sent to take their food there to requite the bounty of founder”.
Samuel Beal in his translation of The “Records of western Countries” on page no 170,
The King said “in the hall of the monarch who first began the sangharama I will place a figure of Buddha, and I will feed forty priests of the congregation everyday to show my gratitude to the founder.”
The King mentioned here is possibly Harsavardhan to whom Xuanzang mentions as the king from central India who must have started the tradition as a sign of respect for the founder of the university. Based on this evidence we can safely assume that 1st monastery was not a paramount structure. The contemporary structure of first monastery is “Temple no 3” which is just a 5’ 8” square and 4’ 6” high stupa in the innermost layer. The bricks found in the innermost levels were made of earth mixed with straw and rice husk and not properly burnt. And this could be one possible reason why the monastery no 1 was in ruins at the time of Xuanzang. In later centuries new monasteries were built following a plan in a row from north to south, and possibly no structures were built over this first monastery.
The descriptions of It-sing who visited 40 years after Xuanzang says all he saw were the foundations of the Sakraditya monastery. It-sing doesn’t mention about the tradition of the 40 Monks paying visit to the Sakraditya monastery this shows the tradition initiated by King Harsavardhan ended with his departure from the scene. We have accounts of Hwui Lun, who has mentioned that Sakraditya had to struggle a lot to establish the monastery here and it was later kings who finished the obstruction and later developed it as a magnificent centre in whole of Jambudvipa.
As per the details the site of monastery must be north of present “Monastery no 1B”. Most possible location of monastery by Sakraditya was somewhere in the courtyard north of 1B and East of temple no 3 but we have no conclusive evidence as yet.