Tibetan Studies in India Program
As part of an ongoing academic exchange program with the Tibetan universities in exile in India, each year the Five Colleges send 15 students to spend interterm studying Buddhist philosophy, Tibetan history and culture, and Tibetan textual analysis in an intensive program taught by the faculty of the Central University of Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, India. This research and teaching university was established and is jointly administered by the Tibetan Government in exile and the Ministry of Education of India. Students live in a guesthouse or hostel on the campus of the Central University of Tibetan Studies.
The Location in Sarnath, India
Sarnath is a small village on the outskirts of Varanasi (Benares) in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Varanasi is an ancient city of about two million on the river Ganges and is a major pilgrimage site for Hindus. Sarnath, the location of the Buddha's first teaching after attaining enlightenment, is a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists and an important archaeological site. The program also takes full advantage of its location outside of the ancient city of Benares to visit Hindu temples and museums, attend classical Indian music concerts, and participate in other educational and cultural opportunities.
Students will live in a guesthouse or hostel on the campus of the Central University of Tibetan Studies. Each student is assigned a Tibetan "buddy" student from the Central University, and there is ample opportunity for interaction with the Tibetan students and with other friends in and around Sarnath. All participating students must travel and remain with the group.
Is there an application form?
Yes, the form is online. Please follow the instructions on Applying to the Program.
Do I need a passport to apply?
Yes. You will need a current passport with two blank pages for the India visa application. You must have the passport in hand when you apply to the program.
I know that one of my references has to be a professor. Who should the other one be?
Anyone who knows you well and can attest to your interpersonal skills, maturity and suitability for an intensive program in a very challenging cultural context.
What are the selection criteria?
No hard criteria. We look for people who have good academic reasons for undertaking this program and who seem to be academically serious and mature. We try to balance the group by areas of study and to make sure that students from all of the Five Colleges can participate. Having done some preparatory work, or having some previous multicultural experience is an advantage but is not necessary.
Can first-year students apply?
No. First-year students are not eligible for this program.
Are there any prerequisites?
Do I need to speak a language?
English is essential. No other language is necessary, but Tibetan and Hindi are great assets.
How many students go on this trip?
Fifteen from the Five Colleges.
Will our classes be taught in English?
Some of the classes will be taught by English-speaking professors; some will be taught through translators.
What does my fee cover?
Your visa, round-trip air fare from Boston, all transportation, food and lodging and program-related costs in India, ground transport from Boston to your home campus.
What doesn't it cover?
Your passport, getting to Boston, gifts for your mom, stuff you might want to buy in India, your medical preparation, your discretionary spending in India.
How much more money do I need?
That depends on your medical insurance (immunization costs and coverage varies), how far you will be from Boston at Christmas, and how much you like to spend on yourselves and friends. Hard to say in general.
If I am not a Smith College student, how do I get financial aid?
Talk to the appropriate folks on your campus.
If I am a Smith student, can I get financial aid?
Yes. You may apply for an International Experience Grant to help cover the costs of the program. Visit https://www.smith.edu/studyabroad/funding_ieg.php for more information. *Note that the application deadline for this grant may differ from the application deadline for the
Tibetan Studies in India Program.
Can I make my own travel arrangements?
No. You must travel with the group.
Can my partner come?
Do I need shots to come on the trip?
Yes. You will need to consult your own doctor, but most people get immunized against hepatitis A and B, typhoid and tetanus, and they take malaria pills. Some also immunize against meningococcal meningitis.
If I don't take the course for credit do I still need to go to class?
Absolutely. Participation in all program activities and attendance at all classes is required.
Do I have to attend the introductory classes?
Do we get to tour around India?
No. You will be in Sarnath/Varanasi almost the entire time, except for a weekend trip to Bodh Gaya and Raj Gir and two days in Delhi.
Is this really academically intense?
Where do we live when we are there?
At a very nice guest house on the campus.
What is the food like?
Vegetarian Indian and Tibetan. Very good, very healthy. While vegan diets can be accommodated at the guest house where we will spend most of our time, the program is unable to guarantee accommodations for those with special food restrictions or severe food allergies.
What will the weather be like?
Cool at night, warm during the day, probably no rain. You will need a sweater or light jacket, but also clothes suitable for warm weather.
Please note that this itinerary is tentative and is subject to change.
- December 27, 2018: Departure from Boston (Logan) late afternoon
- December 28, 2018: Arrive New Delhi late evening
- December 29, 2018: Travel by air to Sarnath
- January 19, 2019: Travel by air to New Delhi in morning
- January 22, 2019: Travel to Boston (Logan), via Paris
- January 23, 2019: Arrival on campus
Students must attend six introductory classes during the fall semester. Classes are held in Dewey House Common Room between 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, October 30, 2018
- Thursday, November 1, 2018
- Tuesday, November 6, 2018
- Thursday, November 8, 2018
- Tuesday, November 13, 2018
- Thursday, November 15, 2018
Smith students who participate in the program must take the six introductory evening classes at Smith College as well as enroll in BUX 253 Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy and Hermeneutics, a three-credit January term course. Five College students should check with their home institution or the program director for information about obtaining credit.
While in residence at Sarnath, there will be daily lectures in Buddhist philosophy, close reading and discussion of important Buddhist treatises, hermeneutics and special lectures on such topics as Tibetan medicine, art, history and culture taught by the faculty and staff of the Central University of Tibetan Studies. Arrangements for language instruction can be made for any students who wish to pursue this.
- HH the Dalai Lama, Freedom in Exile (Harper Perennial)
- Stanley Wolpert, India (University of California Press)
- John Powers, A Concise Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism(Snow Lion)
- Rupert Gethin, The Foundations of Buddhism (Oxford University Press)
- Sam van Schaik, Tibet: A History (Yale University Press)
- Melvyn Goldstein, The Snow Lion and the Dragon (University of California Press)
- Atisa and Geshe Sonam Rinchen, Atisha's Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment (Snow Lion)
- Duckworth et al, A Philosophical Legacy in India and Tibet: Dignaga's Investigation of the Percept, (Oxford University Press)
- Santideva, Vesna Wallace and B. Alan Wallace, trans., A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life (Snow Lion)
- Paul Williams, Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations, 2nd edition (Routledge)
- Diana Eck, Benares: City of Light (Columbia University)
- Jay L. Garfield, Engaging Buddhism: Why it Matters to Philosophy (Oxford University Press)
- Georges Dreyfus, The Sound of Two Hands Clapping(University of California Press)
Applications and Letters of Recommendation must be received by Thursday, October 11, 2018, by 4 p.m.
Preference will be given to students for whom this program would be an integral part of their program of studies and who have undertaken relevant preparations (such as the previous study of Buddhism, Tibetan studies or Asian studies.); however, no previous experience is required.
The program costs approximately $2,500, which includes all travel from Logan International Airport and back to campus, accommodations and visa fees. This does not include books, medical expenses, passport or pocket money.
Deposit and Payment
Students accepted into the program must pay a nonrefundable $300 deposit by Monday, October 22, 2018, with the balance due by Monday, November 26, 2018.
Any Smith College student can apply for an International Experience Grant through the study abroad office, regardless of their financial aid status. Students from other campuses should check financial aid options through their study abroad office.