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  • Locations: Bodh Gaya, India; Delhi, India; London, United Kingdom
  • Program Terms: Fall
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Program Sponsor: Carleton College 
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Click here for a definition of this term Language of Instruction: English Housing Options: Other
Click here for a definition of this term Areas of Study: Anthropology, Asian Studies, Hindi, History, Independent Study, Philosophy, Religion/Theology, Tibetan
Program Description:


C-GEP LogoAbout The Program

Since 1979, the program has been recognized for the academic excellence of its comparative approach to both the theory and practice of Buddhism. The program weaves together the diverse resources of Bodh Gaya, a unique pilgrimage center in northern India, home to more than 40 Buddhist temples within a largely Hindu and Muslim community. Each temple offers a gateway for students to explore a particular culture and region where Buddhism manifests around the world, including Tibet, Sri Lanka, Burma, Japan, Bhutan, and others.

Through comparative study, the program examines each of the three major Buddhist traditions and their historical developments: Theravada, Mahyana and Vajrayana. Students live in a Burmese Vihar, or monastery, where our highly qualified team of faculty and on-site staff provide an engaging and supportive environment. In addition, the program includes group travel to Varanasi and New Delhi, as well as a month-long Independent Study Project at the end of the semester that includes the opportunity to travel to a Buddhist community in India or neighboring countries. 

Educational ApproachBuddhist Studies in India AEA

This program emphasizes a comparative approach to both theory and practice. At the heart of the Buddhist Studies in India program is the desire to allow students to explore this subject from as many different points of view as possible. Western academic models are systematically used in the core courses, while Buddhist philosophies are tested in the Meditation Traditions course.

The diverse are highly qualified program faculty teach a variety of intellectual and cultural viewpoints, creating a stimulating milieu in which genuine inquiry can occur. Participants are encouraged to examine their own cultural and intellectual assumptions as they pursue these studies in a challenging and supportive environment. 

Location: Bodh Gaya, India

It was here in Bodh Gaya, under the Bodhi tree that the prince-ascetic Gotama became the fully enlightened Buddha. For two and a half millennia, Bodh Gaya has been a magnet for pilgrims from all Buddhist cultures who come to venerate this sacred site, each in a fashion unique to his or her own tradition. Thus, within a two-mile radius, temples have been constructed to function with the cultural traditions of Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Japan, China, Bhutan, and Tibet. As well as being a pilgrimage center for Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is home to several thousand Hindus and Muslims. Religious and cultural festivals abound here.

Schedule and Daily Life

The program begins with a three-day program orientation in London. The group will then spend three days in Delhi for further orientation before proceeding to Bodh Gaya. 
Classes are held for nine weeks, followed by the three-week independent study period, which may include independent travel to other areas of India, and a final week in Bodh Gaya. 

Daily Schedule

5:30 am - MeditationGEP India 3
6:30 am - Breakfast
7:30 am - Language Class
8:30 am - Class Period
10:00 am - Tea
10:30 am - Class Period
12:00 pm - Language Practice
1:00 pm - Lunch
4:00 pm - Tea
5:00 pm - Meditation
6:30 pm - Dinner


Lodging and vegetarian meals will be provided at the guest house within the compound of the Burmese Vihar (monastery). Living within a Buddhist monastery, following a rigorous daily schedule and the five basic Buddhist ethical precepts, creates a nourishing environment for study and practice. While residing at the Vihar, it will be necessary for students to follow the five basic Buddhist precepts:

To abstain from taking life.
To abstain from theft.
To abstain from sexual misconduct.
To abstain from lying.
To abstain from intoxicants.

Some may feel these requirements to be too rigorous, but after consideration, it will become clear that any individual consistently deviating from this code would lack the clarity of mind necessary for full participation in this intensive program. The culture and environment of Bodh Gaya generally support the maintenance of these precepts, thus easing the individual's difficulty. 


The Buddhist Studies in India curriculum consists of three components: Required Courses, Core Courses, and Language Courses.
The language of instruction for the required courses and core courses is English.

Students typically enroll in 4 courses (4 semester credits each) for a total of 16 semester credits, comprised of two required courses, one core course, and a language course or an addition core course. 

Required Courses

  • RELG 359: Buddhist Meditation Traditions (Required)Buddhist Studies in India AEA
  • ASST 319: Independent Study (Required)

Core Courses

  • PHIL 318: Buddhist Philosophy
  • SOAN 322: Contemporary Buddhist Culture
  • ASST 319: History of South Asian Buddhism

Language Courses

  • LCST 101: Elementary Hindi
  • LCST 103: Intermediate Hindi
  • LCST 101: Elementary Tibetan
For course syllabi, contact Carleton Global Engagement at

Dates & Fees

Program Dates

The Buddhist Studies in Bodh Gaya, India Program runs every fall semester (late August to mid December).
Fall 2019 dates: August 28, 2019-December 13, 2019.

Program Fees

Fall 2019 program fee for Buddhist Studies in India is $21,905.

The program fee includes tuition, room and board, CISI emergency medical insurance, round-trip London- Delhi- London airfare, and program-related travel within India.

Students are responsible for books and research materials, passport and visa fees, transportation to and from London, and personal expenses.

Buddhist Studies in India AEA

Faculty & Staff

The strength of the Buddhist Studies program comes from a combination of diverse and highly qualified faculty, and a very low student-faculty ratio. A combination of Western and Eastern instructors is utilized in order to ensure a continuity of American educational patterns, as well as access to the indigenous philosophies in their genuine form. Western faculty are responsible for the organization and evaluation of coursework, while the Asian teachers present perspectives of the traditions being studied. The variety of intellectual and cultural viewpoints creates a stimulating milieu in which genuine inquiry occurs. 

Program Director

Dr. Arthur McKeown received a BA magna cum laude, from Dartmouth College. He received a MA and PhD from Harvard University, where his dissertation was titled, From Bodgaya to Lhasa to Beijing: The Life and Times of Sariputra (c.1335-1426), Last Abbot of Bodhgaya. Dr. McKeown has received a Fulbright Fellowship, Reischauer Center Fellowship, as well as the Harvard Certificate of Distinction in Teaching. He has research experience in South Asia and Tibet, and has presented papers at meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the International Association of Buddhist Studies. Dr. McKeown has experience teaching Tibetan Language and Buddhist Studies as an Instructor and Teaching Fellow at Harvrd University. He served on the faculty with the Buddhist Studies in India program from 2010 to 2014 and was the Assistant Program Director in 2015 before being Program Director in Fall 2016.

Consulting Director

C. Robert Pryor earned a BS from the University of Michigan, and a MAT from Antioch University. He studied Anthropology and South Asian religions at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Robert designed the Buddhist Studies in India program, and served as director from 1979 to 2015. He was a consultant for the BBC documentary, In the Footsteps of the Buddha, and collaborated on the book Living This Life Fully: Stories and Teachings of Munindra. Robert is very active at the Yellow Springs Dharma Center which he helped to found in 1993. His interest include: South Asian cultures, pilgrimage, the history of Indian Buddhism, meditation and Buddhism in the West. Robert is Consulting Director for Buddhist Studies in India and Distinguished Visiting Professor in Asian Studies at Carleton College.  

Course Instructors

PHIL 318: Buddhist Philosophy
Daniel McNamara received a BA from Hampshire College and a MA from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. At present he is a PhD candidate in West and South Asian Religions at Emory University. Daniel was a participant in the Buddhist Studies in India Program in 2001 while an undergraduate at Hampshire College. His scholarly interests focus on the translation of Buddhist Mahayana philosophic texts from Sanskrit and Tibetan, as well as the History of Buddhism in Gandhara and Central Asia. He has experience teaching courses in Religious Studies at Emory University and Rangjung Yeshe Institute for Buddhist Studies. In 2005 and 2007 he served as the Assistant Program Coordinator for the Emory Tibetan Studies in Dharamsala Program.

SOAN 322: Contemporary Buddhist Culture
Dr. Jeffrey Cupchik completed his PhD in Ethnomusicology at York University, Toronto, with his dissertation, The Tibetan Buddhist gCod Ritual Meditation Practice. He received his MA from York University and his BMus (Honors) from the University of Toronto. Dr. Cupchik is the author of The Sound of Vultures' Wings: The Tibetan Chod Ritual Practice of the Femal Buddha, Machik Labdron (forthcoming, 2017), as well as numerous academic articles. He has designed and taught courses in Anthropology at St. John Fisher College, the University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music, and York University. Dr. Cupchik has spend considerable time with Tibetan communities in India and North America. His research focuses on the relationship between ritual, music, and health in Tibetan culture. 

ASST 319: History of South Asian Buddhism
Dr. Rebecca Grapevine received a PhD in History from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where her dissertation was titled, Family Matters: Citizenship and Religion in India, 1939-72. She received her MA in history from the University of Michigan and her BA, summa cum laude, in History from Washington University where she was Phi Beta Kappa. She is the recipient of several fellowships including Foreign Languages and Area Studies, American Institute of Indian Studies, and a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship. Dr. Grapevine has experience teaching as a graduate student at the University of Michigan, and she has lived in India for extended periods. During the fall semester of 2015 she taught with the Antioch Buddhist Studies in India Program in Bodh Gaya.

LCST 101: Tibetan Language
Punya Prasad Parajuli received a BA in Physics, an MA in Anthropology, and an MA in Nepalese History, Culture and Archeology from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He has also received an MA in Buddhist Studies from Magadh University, Bodh Gaya, India. Punya is actively involved in translating Tibetan and Sanskrit texts into Nepali. He has been a Tibetan language instructor at the Center for Nepalese and Asian Studies, Tribhuvan University, and a Sanskrit language teacher at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling and Shechen Monasteries in Kathmandu. Punya taught Tibetan language with the Buddhist Studies program in 2006, 2009, and 2011 - 2015. He has also been a Tibetan language and cultural instructor as well as a research guide for Cornell University students studying Buddhist Culture in Nepal.

LCST 101 and 103: Hindi Language
Dr. Gaurav Agarwal received a BA in Hindi Literature, History and Political Science; an MA, MPhil, and a PhD in Hindi Literature from the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. He leads the youth section in the Rajasthan chapter of "Sahitya Parishad" and is a regular participant in poetry seminars. Dr. Agarwal was a member of the core organizing team for the second World Council of Elders of Ancient Traditions and Culture's International Summit held in Jaipur. He is Head of Department and teaches Hindi at Poddar International College, Jaipur; and has also been an instructor in the Hindi Language Programs organized by the American Institute of Indian Studies for America university students in Jaipur. Dr. Agarwal has taught Hindi language with the Buddhist Studies program since 2010. 

RELG 359: Buddhist Meditation Traditions
Seminars for this course are led by Dr. Arthur McKeown, Program Director.

Meditation Instructors

U Hla Myint was born and educated in Myanmar (Burma). He became a novice monk at the age of ten and a fully ordained bhikkhu at twenty. After completed the traditional academic training for monks in Burma he practiced Vipassana under the guidance of Sayadaw U Pandita at this center he was especially helpful to foreign meditators. After twenty-two years as a monk, U Hla Myint became a householder, and now has a wife and two children. He lives in Pyin Oo Lwin near Landalay in the Shan Hills where he primarily works on translation projects for Sayadaw U Pandita. U Hla Myint also spends some of his time assisting at Sawadaw U Pandita's Panditarama Meditation Center near Rangoon.

Buddhist Studies in India AEAEkai Koremastu Osho was born and raised in Japan, but began his formal Zen practice while a university student in California where he was affiliated with the San Francisco Zen Center. In 1979 he returned to Japan for formal monastic training at Eiheiji the principle Soto Zen monastery. Returning to America in 1983 he founded Kojin-an which later became the Oakland Zen Center. At the request of teacher Narasaki Roshi he retuned to Japan in 1987 to become the director of an International Zen monastery, Shogoji, in Kyushu. From 1994 to 1996 he was again at Eiheiji, and was also the Practice Director at Zuigakuin Temple in Yamanashi Prefacture. At present he lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he is the founder and spiritual director of Jikishoan Buddhist Community. 

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche is the aboot of Ka-Nying Ling Monastery and the founder of Rangjung Yeshe Institute, a college for Buddhist Studies and Boudhanath, Nepal. Born in Tibet and educated at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim under the guidance of H.H. Karmapa XVI, he is the holder of Drikung Kagyu and Nyingma lineages. Rinpoche is a scholar and master of both Dzogchen and Mahamudra practice. He has taught meditation and philosophy to many Western students, while also supervising a large shedra or traditional monastic training center in Nepal. He regularly teaches in Europe and North America where he has meditation centers in Denmark, Germany, and California. Rinpoche is the author of several books including The Union of Dzogchen and Mahamudra, Indisputable Truth and Present Fresh Wakefulness


Teaching Assistant and Dorm Advisor
Alex Baskin received a BA summa cum laude in Philosophy from Tufts University. While a student at Tufts, he participated in the 2011 Antioch Buddhist Studies program in Bodh Gaya. Alex has worked as a paralegal with the Law Office of Iannella & Mummolo, as a counselor with the Nitzanim Program for Teens on a six-week tour of Israel, and as a counselor with the Gesher Summer Program for two seasons. More recently, he has worked at the Friend Street Hostel in Boston and volunteered at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center. Alex has also helped facilitate a teen medication retreat at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA. He writes fiction and poetry, and loves independent films and coffee. Alex has served as the Teaching Assistant and Dorm Advisor with the Buddhist Studies program since 2014. 

Vihar Manager
Erica Ruiz Vargas received her BA in Physics and Mathematics from he Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo, Mexico, and her MA in Mathematics from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. She has taught mathematics at the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo, Mexico as well as shamatha meditation at the Tibetan Buddhist Center: Casa Tibet in Morelia. Erica is a practitioner of Vajrayana Buddhism who helped to organize events and was in charge of the bookstore at Casa Tibet, Morelia. She was also a participant in the Shamatha Project: a longitudinal study investigating mediative quescence, loving-kindness, and human flourishing. Erica now lives in South Asia in order to dedicate her time to the study and practice of Vajrayana Buddhism. 

Buddhist Studies in India AEA