AEA Study Abroad in Argentina
“An incredible academic, personal, and spiritual experience.” – Dustin, Albion College

India

Buddhist Studies in Bodh Gaya, India

A semester of study and meditation while living in a Buddhist monastery near the site of Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment.

Fall Semester (late-August to mid-December).

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study abroad in IndiaSince 1979, this program has become recognized for the academic excellence of its comparative approach to both the theory and practice of Buddhism. The program weaves together the diverse resources of Bodh Gaya, a unique pilgrimage center in northern India, home to more than 40 Buddhist temples within a largely Hindi and Muslim community. Each temple offers a gateway for students to explore a particular culture and region where Buddhism manifests around the world, including Tibet, Sri Lanka, Burma, Japan, Bhutan, and others.

Through comparative study, the program examines each of the three major Buddhist traditions and their historical development: Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Students live in a Burmese Vihar, or monastery, where our highly qualified team of faculty and on-site staff, led by Director Robert Pryor, provide an engaging and supportive environment. In addition, the program includes group travel to Varanasi and New Delhi, as well as a month-long Independent Study Project at the end of the semester that includes the opportunity to travel to a Buddhist community in India or neighboring countries.

“The understanding that I had of Buddhism before coming on this program was like a few drops of water in a tea cup compared to the ocean of wisdom that I have been introduced to over the last three months.” – Eileen, Princeton University

 

Educational Approach

This program emphasizes a comparative approach to both theory and practice. At the heart of the Buddhist Studies in India program is the desire to allow students to explore this subject from as many different points of view as possible. Western academic models are systematically used in the core courses, while Buddhist philosophies are tested in the Meditation Traditions course.

The diverse and highly qualified program faculty teach a variety of intellectual and cultural viewpoints, creating a stimulating milieu in which genuine inquiry can occur. Participants are encouraged to examine their own cultural and intellectual assumptions as they pursue these studies in a challenging and supportive environment.

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Contact Us to speak with past participants of the program directly!

The Buddhist Studies in India curriculum consists of three components: Core Courses; Language Courses; and Required Courses (see course descriptions below).

Typically, students enroll in 4 courses, including the two required classes, one core course, and a language course or an additional core course.

Each course is 4 semester credits. Typically, students earn 16 semester credits on the program.

Contact AEA for course syllabi.

“It is a once in a lifetime and once on this planet experience. There is no other way to learn what can be learned here.” – Hannah, UC Davis

Required Courses

RELS 350 Buddhist Meditation Traditions (required)

BUDI 396 Independent Study: Selected Topics (required)

Core Courses

PHIL 318 Buddhist Philosophy

ANTH 330 Contemporary Buddhist Culture

HIST 320 History of South Asian Buddhism

Language Courses

LLCH 158 Introductory Hindi

LLCH 258 Intermediate Hindi

LLCT 159 Introductory Tibetan

Bodh Gaya, India

It was here in Bodh Gaya, under the Bodhi tree that the prince-ascetic Gotama became the fully enlightened Buddha. For two and a half millennia, Bodh Gaya has been a magnet for pilgrims from all Buddhist cultures who come to venerate this sacred site, each in a fashion unique to his or her own tradition. Thus, within a two-mile radius, temples have been constructed to function with the cultural traditions of Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Japan, China, Bhutan, and Tibet. As well as being a pilgrimage center for Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is home to several thousand Hindus and Muslims. Religious and cultural festivals abound here.

The Burmese Vihar, which is right across the street from the Phalgu River, is within a ten-minute walk of both the Mahabodhi Temple and the central bazaar. Like most pilgrimage towns in India, Bodh Gaya can be crowded, dirty, and noisy. Depending on your mood, this can be exhilarating one day and frustrating the next.

Schedule and Daily Life

The program begins with a three-day program orientation in London. The group will then spend three days in Delhi for further orientation before proceeding to Bodh Gaya.

Classes are held for nine weeks, followed by the three-week independent study period, which may include independent travel to other areas of India, and a final week in Bodh Gaya.

Daily Schedule in Bodh Gaya
5:30 am – Meditation
6:30 am – Breakfast
7:30 am – Language Classes
8:30 am – Class Period
10:00 am – Tea
10:30 am – Class Period
12:00 pm – Language Practice
1:00 pm – Lunch
4:00 pm – Tea
5:00 pm – Meditation
6:30 pm – Dinner

This schedule is followed Monday through Friday. Language classes meet daily, while Philosophy, History, and Anthropology meet three times each week. During the weekends we continue with meditation practice and also have occasional field trips to sites of interest.

Accommodations

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLodging and vegetarian meals will be provided at the guest house within the compound of the Burmese Vihar (monastery). Living within a Buddhist monastery, following a rigorous daily schedule and the five basic Buddhist ethical precepts, creates a nourishing environment for study and practice. While residing at the Vihar, it will be necessary for students to follow the five basic Buddhist precepts:

      1. To abstain from taking life.
      2. To abstain from theft.
      3. To abstain from sexual misconduct.
      4. To abstain from lying.
      5. To abstain from intoxicants.

Some may feel these requirements to be too rigorous, but after consideration, it will become clear that any individual consistently deviating from this code would lack the clarity of mind necessary for full participation in this intensive program. The culture and environment of Bodh Gaya generally support the maintenance of these precepts, thus easing the individual’s difficulty.

The Buddhist Studies Program’s strength comes from a combination of diverse and highly qualified faculty, and a very low student: faculty ratio. A combination of Western and Eastern instructors is utilized in order to ensure a continuity of American educational patterns, as well as access to the indigenous philosophies in their genuine form. Western faculty are responsible for the organization and evaluation of coursework, while the Asian teachers present perspectives of the traditions being studied. This variety of intellectual and cultural viewpoints creates a stimulating milieu in which genuine inquiry occurs.

Program Director
C. Robert Pryor received a BS from the University of Michigan, an MAT from Antioch University, and attended the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, where he studied Anthropology and South Asian religions. He designed the Antioch Buddhist Studies Program, and since 1979 has taken groups of students to India as program director. In 1987 he founded Insight Travel, offering pilgrimages to Buddhist and Hindu sites in northern India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. He served as consultant for the BBC documentary, In the Footsteps of the Buddha, and collaborated on the book Living This Life Fully: Stories and Teachings of Munindra. His interests include: South Asian cultures, pilgrimage, the history of Indian Buddhism, meditation and Buddhism in the West.

Buddhist Philosophy
Dr. Arthur McKeown received a BA magna cum laude, from Dartmouth College. He received an MA and PhD from Harvard University where his dissertation was titled, From Bodhgaya to Lhasa to Beijing: The Life and Times of Sariputra (c.1335-1426), Last Abbot of Bodhgaya. Dr. McKeown has received a Fulbright Fellowship, Reischauer Center Fellowship, as well as the Harvard Certificate of Distinction in Teaching. He has research experience in South Asia and Tibet, and has presented papers at meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the International Association of Buddhist Studies. Dr. McKeown has experience teaching Tibetan Language and Buddhist Studies as an Instructor and Teaching Fellow at Harvard University. He served on the faculty with the Antioch Buddhist Studies program in 2010–2014, and will be the Assistant Program Director in 2015.

Contemporary Buddhist Culture
Dr. Scot Brackenridge received a PhD in Chinese Religions and an MA in Chinese Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He spent the last decade of the twentieth century traveling in Asia, and has spent the twenty-first century to-date studying and teaching Asian religions. From 2010-2013 he taught for and directed programs in Taiwan, Thailand, India, Turkey, and China for Global College of Long Island University. His research focuses on the arrival of Buddhism in China, and how South Asian philosophy formed a dynamic partnership with the contemporary Daoist and Confucian cultural landscape. His translation of a commentary to the Yijing (I Ching) was included in the recently published Readings in Later Chinese Philosophy, Bryan Van Norden and Justin Tiwald, eds.

History of South Asian Buddhism
Dr. Rebecca Grapevine received a PhD in History from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where her dissertation was titled, Family Matters: Citizenship and Religion in India, 1939-72. She received her MA in history from the University of Michigan and her BA, summa cum laude, in History from Washington University where she was Phi Beta Kappa. She is the recipient of several fellowships including Foreign Languages and Area Studies, American Institute of Indian Studies, and a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship. Dr. Grapevine has experience teaching as a graduate student at the University of Michigan, and she has lived in India for extended periods. In addition she has experience working with the University of Michigan-Delhi University Undergraduate Research Program where she advised undergraduates at the University of Michigan, and helped them connect with their peers at Delhi University.

Tibetan Language
Punya Prasad Parajuli received a BA in Physics, an MA in Anthropology, and an MA in Nepalese History, Culture and Archeology from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He has also received an MA in Buddhist Studies from Magadh University, Bodh Gaya, India. Punya is actively involved in translating Tibetan and Sanskrit texts into Nepali. He has been a Tibetan language instructor at the Center for Nepalese and Asian Studies, Tribhuvan University and a Sanskrit language teacher at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling and Sechen Monasteries in Kathmandu. Punya taught Tibetan language with the Antioch Buddhist Studies program in 2006, 2009, and 2011-2014. He has also been a Tibetan language and culture instructor as well as a research guide for Cornell University students studying Buddhist Culture in Nepal.

Hindi Language
Dr. Gaurav Agarwal received a BA in Hindi Literature, History and Political Science; an MA, MPhil, and a PhD in Hindi Literature from the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. He leads the youth section in the Rajasthan chapter of “Sahitya Parishad” and is a regular participant in poetry seminars. Dr. Agarwal was a member of the core organizing team for the second World Council of Elders of Ancient Traditions and Culture’s Interantional Summit held in Jaipur. He is Head of Department and teaches Hindi at Poddar International College, Jaipur; and has also been an instructor in the Hindi Language Programs organized by the American Institute of Indian Studies for American university students in Jaipur. Dr. Agarwal has taught Hindi language with the Antioch Buddhist Studies program since 2010.

Buddhist Meditation Traditions
Seminars in this course will be led by Professor Robert Pryor, Program Director.

Meditation Faculty

Vipassana
U Hla Myint was born and educated in Myanmar (Burma). He became a novice monk at the age of ten and a fully ordained bhikkhu at twenty. After completing the traditional academic training for monks in Burma he practiced Vipassana meditation at the Mahasi Thathana Meditation Center in Yangon (Rangoon). He then taught Vipassana under the guidance of Sayadaw U Pandita at this center where he was especially helpful to foreign meditators. After twenty-two years as a monk U Hla Myint became a householder, and now has a wife and two children. He lives in Pyin Oo Lwin near Mandalay in the Shan Hills where he primarily works on translation projects for Sayadaw U Pandita. U Hla Myint also spends some of his time assisting Sayadaw U Pandita at Panditarama Meditation Center near Rangoon.

Zen
Ekai Korematsu Osho was born and raised in Japan, but began his formal Zen practice while a university student in California where he was affiliated with the San Francisco Zen Center. In 1979 he returned to Japan for formal monastic training at Eiheiji the principal Soto Zen monastery. Returning to America in 1983 he founded Kojin-an which later became the Oakland Zen Center. At the request of his teacher Narasaki Roshi he returned to Japan in 1987 to become the director of an International Zen monastery, Shogoji, in Kyushu. From 1994 to 1996 he was again at Eiheiji, and was also the Practice Director at Zuigakuin Temple in Yamanashi Prefecture. At present he lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he is the founder and spiritual director of Jikishoan Zen Buddhist Community.

Vajrayana
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche is the abbot of Ka Nying Shedrup Ling Monastery and the founder of Rangjung Yeshe Institute, a college for Buddhist Studies in Boudhanath, Nepal. Born in Tibet and educated at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim under the guidance of H.H. Karmapa, he is the holder of Drikung Kagyu and Nyingma lineages. Rinpoche is a scholar and master of both Dzogchen and Mahamudra practice. He has taught meditation and philosophy to many Western students, while also supervising a large shedra or traditional monastic training center in Nepal. He regularly teaches in Europe and North America where he has meditation centers in Denmark, Germany, and California. Rinpoche is the author of several books including The Union of Dzogchen and Mahamudra, Indisputable Truth and Present Fresh Wakefulness.