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Buddhist Studies as a Discipline and its Role in the

By Ven. Prof. Kotapitiye Rahula
B.A. Hons. (Peredeniya), M.A. (Peradeniya), PhD (Peradeniya)
Director, Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Kelaniya, Anunāyaka, Supreme Sangha Council of the Kotte Chapter of Siyam Mahā Nikaya, Sri Lanka

KeyNote Address Presented at 10th Worldwide Conference on Buddhist Studies 2015


Is Buddhist Research studies a discipline, or is it still in a proto-disciplinary phase in its evolution? Or is it rather a super-disciplinary entity that functions as a home for disciplines? What is the relationship of Buddhist Studies to the (sub) disciplines from which it draws? Does Buddhist Researches require homogeneity for its coherence and perpetuation as a field of academic inquiry? Does it in reality have such homogeneity? The last years has been witness to the increase of a body of theoretical literature whose purpose it is to check out the concept of disciplinarily. How do disciplines develop? What social, institutional and rhetorical practices are used in the building and construction of their sense of coherence and unity? What are their natural subdivisions? How do disciplines change, and how do they react to modifications in the intellectual climate? How do they engage with one another? These are just a few of the concerns raised in the field that has come to be referred to as “disciplinary research studies,” and this ought to be the very first goal of present Buddhist scholars to review Buddhist Studies because of this current body of literature.

The 2nd objective derives from the very first and is in a sense more urgent. If, as I think is clear, divergent methodological methods to the study of Buddhism are emerging, then the time has come for us to seriously think about these alternative methodologies and to ask what role methodological reflection should play in the field today. For the past numerous years different techniques to the study of Buddhism have emerged that challenge what they require the classical paradigm.


Buddhist education targets at a personality transformation into a highest type of mankind through ethical, intellectual and spiritual perfection. These 3 professors of excellence of human life certainly lead a man through ordinary joy to supra ordinary joy, which is the highest accomplishment we all are similarly trying to find. For that reason, the Buddhist education is grounded on the primary psychological need of all living beings.


The goal of Buddhist education is to achieve knowledge. In Sanskrit, the language of ancient India, the Buddhist wisdom was called Anuttara-Samyak-Sambhodi implying the ideal supreme knowledge. The Buddha taught us that the primary goal of our practice was to achieve this ultimate wisdom. The chief objective of Buddhist education is all round advancement of kid’s character. This includes his physical, psychological, ethical and intellectual advancement. The other objectives of Buddhist Education are to make a complimentary male, a smart, smart, moral, non-violent & nonreligious guy.

Buddhist Education was wide open and offered to individuals of all strolls of life. The system of Buddhist education targeted at restoring our intrinsic nature. It also teaches outright equality which originated from Buddha’s recognition that all sentient beings possess this innate knowledge and nature. Buddha’s teaching helps us to realize that inherent, best, supreme wisdom.With knowledge, we can then solve all our issues and turn suffering into joy.

In the Buddhist period, faith was provided top concern and education was imparted through it. The chief goal of education was proliferation of faith and inculcation of spiritual sensations and education served as a mean to attain freedom or nirvana. Preparation for life, there was an arrangement for imparting wordily and practical knowledge together with spiritual education so that when the students got in regular life they might be able to earn their livelihood.

In the early duration Buddhist Education was restricted within the monasteries and only for the members of the monastery. However in the future it was open to all; even ordinary people got scope to have education in those institutions. In modern days Buddhist Education became large open and embraced individuals of all strolls of life. Buddhist Education made innovative modification in the society. The Buddhists in the world first made Education open to all.

The Core of Buddha’s teaching includes three significant points, discipline, meditation and knowledge. Knowledge is the goal and deep meditation or concentration in the essential process toward attaining knowledge. Discipline through observing the precepts, is the technique that assists one to attain deep meditation; knowledge will then be recognized naturally. Buddha’s entire mentor as communicated in the sutras never truly depart from these three points.

Buddhist Education system developed on the basis of some fundamental concepts. This education gave emphasis on the ethical, psychological and physical development and likewise to divert the trainees towards the Sangha guidelines and assist them to follow it. The main tension was provided to have a clear concept of Tripitaka which consists of Sutta Pitaka, Vinaya Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka. The entire Tripitaka includes Buddhas mentors, message, approach and guidelines for the Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunies. The curriculum was primarily spiritual in nature. It was since the chief objective of education was to achieve liberation. So the research study of the spiritual books was crucial. This kind of curriculum was implied just for the monks.

Besides these spinning, weaving, printing of the clothes, customizing, sketching, accountancy, medications, surgical treatment and coinage were the other topics of Buddhist education. At the preliminary stage medium of education was native tongue, later on it consisted of Pali and Prakrit and in the list below days Sanskrit likewise consisted of as a medium of guideline. Especially the Mahayana Educators achieved difference in practicing Buddhism in Sanskrit. An unique Sanskrit Buddhist literature developed. Reference may be made here that at the hands of Nāgārjuna, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Shāntideva, Aryādeva and Candrakīrti Buddhist approach and literature made remarkable progress through Sanskrit. In later duration according to the need of the society and professional education, art, sculpture, architecture, medication also consisted of in the syllabus. Buddhist Education came out from the religious arena and went out for the benefit of the humanity.


In the ancient period Buddhist Monasteries and in the later period Buddhist Universities played significant function in developing Buddhist Education. The main objective of Buddhist Education is to make a free man, a smart man, a sensible, moral, skilled, non-violent and nonreligious male. Buddhist Education makes guy sensible, humanist, sensible and devoid of superstitious notions.

It is a matter of excellent pride that Buddhist Education crossed Indian Sub-continent and expanded approximately Sri Lanka, China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, Mongolia, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodian, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, with the rise and advancement of Buddhism in those countries. In those nations Buddhist Education has made incredible progress with the inclusion of modern topics in the syllabus.

Picked Bibliography

  1. Altekar A. S.,( 1965 ), Education in Ancient India., Varanasi, Nandkishore & Brothers
  2. Ananda, W P Gurge, (1971 ), The Contribution of Buddhism to Education. (A paper presented in International Seminar on Buddhism, Delhi
  3. Bapat, P.V. (1971 ), 2500 Years of Buddhism, Delhi
  4. Goyal S. R. (1987 ), A History of Indian Buddhism,, Meerut, Kusumanjali Prakasan
  5. Hazra, K.L. (2009 ), Buddhism in India: A historic study, Delhi, Buddhist World Press
  6. Keay, F.E, (1992) Ancient Indian Education: A Query into Its Origin, Advancement, and Suitables, New Delhi, Cosmo Publications
  7. Mookerji, Radha Kumud, (1947 ), Ancient Indian Education: Brahamanic and Buddhist, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass
  8. Singh, Bhanu Pratap, (1990 ), Goals of Education in India: Vedic, Buddhist, Medieval,
    Bristish and Post‐Independence, Delhi, Ajanta Publications

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