Buddhist Studies for spiritual solace


Sangita Shrestha

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Most people of the modern world are heading towards materialistic gains and living a life of tension. Buddhism teaches people about spirituality for living life peacefully. And to acquaint people on Buddhism and related matters, various universities have been providing academic degree on this subject.

Under the affiliation of Tribhuvan University (TU), Bachelor’s level Buddhist Studies is offered at the Patan Multiple Campus and Padma Kanya Multiple Campus (PK) since 2008 (2065 BS) while at the Central Department of Buddhists Studies, Masters and PhD courses are being run.

The Lumbini College of Buddhism and Himalayan Studies affiliated to Lumbini Buddhist University has recently introduced Buddhist Studies in the Master’s level. And one can also do PhD from the Lumbini Buddhist University. Kathmandu University, Centre for Buddhist Studies at Rangjung Yeshe Institute also offers Bachelor’s and Master’s level programme for the same.

About the course

The Buddhist Studies deals with various subject matters related to Buddha — history, language, culture, architecture, archaeology, iconography, way of living, Buddhism in context of geography, as per Dr Milan Ratna Shakya, Chairperson of Central Department of Buddhist Studies, TU, Kirtipur. 

He adds, “In this course one needs to study Buddha’s teaching, cultural development from his time, trends found around the world, language and literature.” 

Vedraj Gnawaly, Lecturer of Buddhist Studies at TU shares, “Buddhist Studies is generally the detailed study of Buddha, human activities revolving around his philosophies and development of historical, psychological, cultural and social perspectives which comes under humanities and social science.” 

And this course studies “human activities using the scientific tools like research” according to Dr Ramesh Kumar Dhungel, Executive Chairman of Lumbini College of Buddhism and Himalayan Studies. 

And students of Buddhist Studies also “tend to know about how to live life in a fruitful way and in the direction of positivity” as per Ranjana Bajracharya, Co-ordinator of Buddhist Studies at PK , who feels the subject should be made compulsory as people of the present world need peace and correct direction for a better society. 

Positive impacts

Most of the students of this subject are already working as different professionals. And students feel that besides career development they can live a peaceful and positive life after studying this subject.

Minu Lama, MA Ist year student at TU shares, “I work as a tourist guide and most foreigners want to know about Buddha as Nepal is the birthplace of Buddha and origin of Buddhism. So, to know about real Buddhism I came to study this course.”

Meanwhile 40-year old Nani Hira Prajapati, studying BA IIIrd year at PK opines, “For developing better human behaviour in one’s lifetime one must study this subject. I am even suggesting my children to pursue this subject.”

Artists and tourist guides among others can take advantage from it as they are able to know even minute details about Buddha related matters, according to Dr Shakya. They can also justify why things like a particular idol, mandalas et cetera are there in a certain way, he adds. 

Narayan Prasad Nepali, working in an academic field is a student of MA Ist year at Lumbini College of Buddhism and Himalayan Studies. He thinks, “Nepal is birthplace of Buddha and looking at the expansion of Buddhism worldwide, it can be said that Nepal is likely to become an international hub for research of issues of Buddhism.”

Putting more light on the benefits of this subject, Sarita Manandhar, a student of MA Ist Year at TU says, “The course teaches one to be independent which is the lesson of life. It also teaches to have mutual understanding among people.” 

The course is also a plus point for those who want to go abroad for further studies as international institutes welcome those students who have studied this course, as per Dr Dhungel.

Scope and challenges

After completion of the course, “One can be involved in various fields of research work, tourism and also work as translator, academician, travel writer and at archaeology department of the country,” claims Dr Shakya.

Despite the number of advantages, there are problems as well faced by this subject. The main challenge is lack of particular textbook as the course covers a vast area. Lama shares, “One must devote more time while studying this course. As for understanding few topics according to syllabus one has to read the whole book where it also becomes a costly affair.”

Eligibility criteria 

Those who are willing to study Buddhist Studies or Buddhism and Himalayan studies in the Master’s level should have completed their Bachelor’s degree in any faculty for both universities. Meanwhile students from any faculty who have completed their intermediate level are eligible to apply for Bachelor’s level.

(Source: The Himalayantimes)