by Walter Jayawardhana
Beginning this academic year, India’s University of Mumbai will be offering year a Master’s degree course in Buddhist studies (acronym MA-BS), as by a university official.
According to the source, the post graduate degree is being offered in response to the growing demand from the student community.
Suraj Pandit, the chairman of the Ad-Hoc Committee for Budddhist Studies, asserted in regard to the MA-BS: “there is no course in the subject offered by the university or affiliated colleges. And while courses in Pali literature, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese and other South East Asian languages do form a part of Buddhism, there has always been a lack of an inclusive study of the subject. This course offers a comprehensive study of the Buddhist religion and philosophy, art-architecture, epigraphy, ethics, literature, etc.” .
The MA-BS course will be employing multiple methodological approaches, including a study of Buddhist literature in Pali, Tibetan, Sanskrit, art and architecture in India and abroad, development of Buddhist ethics and philosophy, etc. There will be a definitive focus on the Buddhist worldview and its socio-cultural analysis. Field trips, wherever required, will be also be included in the program.
Due to an absence of a department for Buddhist studies, these courses are being offered through an ad hoc committee, “These are some of our oldest subjects, taught in the affiliated institutes of the university since 1939. Yet, no department in lieu has been set up by university till the day,” explains Pandit. “The board has submitted a proposal to set up a respective department for integrated studies in the above subjects to the vice-chancellor of the university. Apart from requests from many students and teachers for a department, even K. Sankarnarayan, director of K.J. Somaiya Centre for Buddhist Studies, has extended his support to our initiative.”
Interested applicants will be required to hold a bachelor’s or equivalent degree from the University of Mumbai or any other UGC-recognised university. Admissions will begin following the BA results announcement this year. Forms will be available at St. Xavier’s College, Mahapalika Marg, Mumbai and the admission process will be conducted at the postgraduate section of the Fort campus, Main Building, First Floor, University of Mumbai.