School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions
Nālandā University in general and the School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy, and Comparative Religions, in particular, are about transcending geographical borders to share a new kind of international common sense and global responsibility. Nālandā is also about the gift of knowledge (ancient vidyā-dāna) that is meant to foster inspiration for a transformed global world rooted in cooperation and sharing — knowledge must be spread, shared, and not just compounded or kept for oneself alone. Since its ancient inception, Nālandā has played a major role in sharing and exchanging knowledge across the globe. The actors who played a major part in these ‘exchanges’ were the Buddhist monks or teachers (ācāryyas) Sūbhakarasiṁha , Nāgārjuna, Atīśa, Nāgajñāna (a disciple of Nāgārjuna), his pupil Vajrabodhi, Amoghavajra (from India), Vajrabodhi’s disciple Huiguo (from China), Samantabhadra (from India or Śrī Laṅkā), Huiguo’s pupil Bianhong (from Java), and Kūkai (from Japan). Being a veritable cradle of Buddhist and Hindu learning, it was Nālandā that attracted such a great number of influential teachers and students from around India and the world. In accordance with this venerable heritage, the School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy, and Comparative Religions seeks to promote a fertile intellectual churning ground, where the students and teachers feel comfortable and become enriched to share knowledge and inspire one another.
This School gives special emphasis to the study of Buddhist ideas and values in relation to other philosophical and religious traditions. The wider social-historical-cultural contexts of the development of Buddhist traditions are examined through an innovative and interdisciplinary curriculum. The School fosters critical thinking and explores the wider cultural and historical contexts of Buddhism in different regions of Asia. The academic study of Buddhism, Philosophy, and Comparative Religions incorporates the study of textual and archaeological sources, and it supplements it with the historical and philosophical study of different forms of Yoga from the Indus Valley to the present times. The dynamics of the spread of Buddhist ideas, art, literature; archaeology of key Buddhist sites across Asia; the study of primary texts, inscriptions, and Buddhist art and other artefacts; the comparison of and interactions between various religious and philosophical traditions of Asia; and the theory and methods of the study of religious, philosophical, and Yoga traditions constitute some of the focus areas of the School. The modern manifestations of Buddhism and Yoga traditions and their contemporary relevance could also be areas examined at the school.
The skills imparted to students extend from rigorous reading of literary and philosophical texts to archaeological training. The School emphasizes the study of Buddhism and its adjacent religious traditions such as Sāṁkhya, Vedānta and Tantra in their full range of spiritual, regional, and cultural contexts. It studies Buddhism, Yoga, Meditation, and other religious traditions, their history, culture and ideas from a Religious Studies perspective which includes critically reflected and applied theory and methodology.
The School as well offers training in classical languages like Pāli, Sānskrit, and Tibetan. With its strong emphasis on the Language component, the Master’s program emphasizes the reading of the primary Buddhist texts in different languages and other religious texts with the objective of developing skills integral to pursuing a qualified Post Graduate research work with high standards of academic credibility.
This School inspires collaborative research and teaching and engages in a wide range of interdisciplinarity. Graduates in this School will be eligible for employment in Regional Studies, Area Studies, Religious Studies, Yoga Studies organizations that work with intercultural and multi-cultural issues. Training in Buddhist, Religious Studies, Yoga, and Philosophy imparts transferable interdisciplinary skills enabling graduates to pursue careers in varied fields such as in Indology, Philology, Buddhology, Comparative Linguistics, Archaeology, other than opening up professional avenues as Museum curators, Archivists/Librarians, Commentators on Tantra and Yoga, Peace Activists, Cultural Administrator, and so on.
The School gives special emphasis to the study of Buddhist ideas and values and their historical development in relation to other philosophical and religious traditions.