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Tibetan Studies in India
Tibetan Studies in India

As part of an ongoing academic exchange program with the Tibetan universities in exile in India, each year the Five Colleges send fifteen students to spend January term 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. The University is a research and teaching university established and jointly administered by the Tibetan Government in exile and the Ministry of Education of 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 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. In addition, the program will take 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.

The course of studies will include six introductory evening classes at Smith College during the fall semester.  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.

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.

Jay L. Garfield is a professor of philosophy, logic and Buddhist studies at Smith College and visiting professor of Buddhist studies at the Harvard Divinity School. He is a specialist in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and has been directing this program since its inception in 1991. He will accompany the students from the United States, provide academic support while in India, and facilitate in-country travel arrangements.

There are six required introductory classes prior to departure.