Situated slightly southeast of Nepal’s center, Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal and the largest city in the country. For centuries, the city has been a center of religious art and architecture of both Hindu and Buddhist traditions. The Centre for Buddhist Studies is located in Boudhanath in the Kathmandu valley about a half hour drive from Kathmandu. Boudhanath is regarded as one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites in South Asia because it contains one of the world’s largest and holiest reliquary mounds (the Jarung Kashor Stupa, also refered to as “the Boudha Stupa”) where Buddhists from all over Asia come to offer ritual reverence. Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche’s monastery, where the Centre for Buddhist Studies is located, is a major training facility for Tibetan monks and nuns, surrounded by both Tibetan refugee and Nepali communities. It is a place where BC students have the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in the cultures of living Tibetan Buddhism and Nepali life. The city is renowned for the beauty of its ancient temples and city squares.
The Center for Buddhist Studies is part of Kathmandu University which was established in 1991 as a nonprofit university under the auspices of the King of Nepal. The School of Arts offers a B.A. degree in Buddhist Studies and Himalayan Languages through its Centre for Buddhist Studies.
The program focuses on in-depth study of Buddhist philosophy and literature, their relation to Buddhist practices of meditation and ritual, and rapid learning of languages both to converse with Tibetan spiritual leaders and laity and to read Buddhist texts with authority. Courses on Buddhist philosophy and literature are taught by classically trained Tibetan monk-scholars (“Khenpos,”) supported by an internationally respected team of Tibetan- English translators. Modern perspectives on Buddhist thought, history, and culture are taught by Western scholars. Courses are taught in English or with English translation. Students are also entered into intensive study of colloquial Tibetan language.
The program is notable for being centered at one of the great monastic study centers in Nepal, Ka-Nying Shedrup Ling, run by one of the most learned Tibetan Lama Abbots: Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche. He is interested in the meeting of modern disciplines and institutions with ancient Buddhist philosophy and meditation methods. A hallmark of the Centre for Buddhist Studies has been its ability to combine traditional Buddhist monastic learning with crucial aspects of modern academic scholarship. The faculty is comprised of scholars from both of these traditions, thus constituting a unique environment of learning and expertise.
Students who spend a semester at CBS have the rare opportunity to study classical Buddhist philosophy, theology, and either spoken Tibetan or Nepali as well as history and cultural studies from modern scholars in an atmosphere that welcomes modern perspectives and religious pluralism. Additional course offerings include Buddhist ritual and meditation as well as some translation projects. Students interested in Buddhism, comparative religion, comparative theology, and comparative philosophy come away enriched for future undergraduate or graduate studies in comparative and international disciplines.
The Centre for Buddhist Studies staff holds a formal orientation at the beginning of the semester. CBS has a full two-week program introducing living in Nepal, a brief introduction to Nepali culture and language, and a general introduction to the monastery, CBS, as well as health and security.
BC on-site coordinator, Gregory Sharkey, SJ, works with students in Nepal, and keeps close contact as a mentor to students. CBS staff members are available to offer assistance throughout the semester.
As an integral part of the program, BC students live with local Tibetan or Nepali families that have been carefully selected by the Centre for Buddhist Studies. This provides students with more exposure to Tibetan or Nepali language and a chance to experience life among people in the local community. Families provide breakfast and dinner to the students, while lunch is served Monday to Friday at CBS’s restaurant.
Each Autumn, typically during 'reading week' at CBS, Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, the abbot of the monastery, offers special teachings in Bodhgaya, India, site of the Buddha's enlightenment. BC Nepal program participants are welcome to join Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and his students on the Bodhgaya trip. Interested students, who are responsible for their own travel, accommodations and meals, should contact CBS to determine the cost of the pilgrimage and make arrangements to take part.