The establishment of Nava Nalanda Mahavihara (Deemed University, Under Ministry of Culture, Government of India) was to develop a centre of Higher Studies in Pali and Buddhism along the lines of ancient Nalanda Mahavihara. From the beginning, the institute functioned as a residential institution, with a limited number of Indian and foreign students. Nālandā and the ruins of the ancient Nālandā Mahāvihāra are almost synonymous. The name Nālandā conjures up a picture of ancient Mahāvihāra, which was a great seat of Buddhist education for nearly 700 years between the 5th to 12th centuries CE. His Excellency, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of the Republic of India had initiated the idea and declared that the ancient seat of Buddhist learning at Nālandā would be revived and thus had emanated the vision of establishing the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara. On November 20, 1951, the foundation stone of the first building was laid with the following engraving : "Let the rays of the sun of Nalanda rise from the summit of this rock in order to brighten the vernacular (lokabhāsā in Pali) after the passing away of its nights of darkness (period of its obscurity)."