Buddhist Philosophy

By Prof. Pradeep Prabhakar Gokhale (Former Professor, Savtribai Phule Pune University, Pune)   |   Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS), Sarnath, Varanasi
Learners enrolled: 1290
About the course:  
Buddhist Philosophy is a four-credit course of 15 weeks duration.
The course deals with :
(a) Early Buddhism, which will include the major doctrines of Buddhism such as the four noble truths, noble eight-fold path, Dependent origination and Nirāṇa and also the Buddha’s approach to caste and gender 
(b) The schools of Buddhism namely Vaibhāṣika, Sautrāntika, Yogācāra and Mādhyamika, covering Śrāvakayāna (Hīnayāna) and Mahāyāna. This part will focus on Vasubandhu and Nāgārjuna in detail
(c) Buddhist logic and Epistemology where the contributions of Diṅnāga and Dharmakīrti will be discussed in detail and 
(d) Different manifestations of Modern Buddhism. There the modern approaches such as engaged Buddhism, secular Buddhism and Buddhist feminism with special reference to the modrn Buddhist thinkers such as Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, Sangharakshita, Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, Satyanarayan Goenka and B. R. Ambedkar will be discussed. 
Pre-requisite for the course:-
Graduation in any subject with the knowledge of English as medium of instruction,  interest in Buddhist studies.

Course type: core or elective: :- Open Elective

Estimated work load every week :- 
8 to 12hours. (Watching videos, reading module contents- (2 or 3 every week), attempting questions and reading related reference materials.) 

Total assignments allotted for the course
(Indicate Graded assignments (which contain marks) and non-graded (those non-marks) ):- 
In all fifteen assignments (one assignment per week) and 15 assignments without marks. In addition there will be five long essay type assignments (One assignment every three weeks). Out of them three assignments will be graded and two non-graded.

Course Status : Completed
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 15 weeks
Category :
  • Multidisciplinary
Credit Points : 4
Level : Undergraduate/Postgraduate
Start Date : 06 Feb 2023
End Date : 22 May 2023
Enrollment Ends : 15 Mar 2023
Exam Date :

Page Visits

Course layout

Week wise schedule (including the assignment to be kept in the week) :- 
Week No.Nos. and Titles of ModulesAssignment to be given to the students
1.Diverse Philosophical views at the time of the Buddha
2. Life and the major Philosophical Views of the Buddha
3. The Buddhist Doctrine of no-self (Anattā)
   Assignment 1 to be submitted next week.     

  Special assignment 1 (Long essay) to be       completed by the end of the 3rd week.

4.  The Law of Dependent Origination (Pratītyasamutpāda) and Twelve Links (Dvādasa Nidāna)
5.  The Concept of Nirvāṇa and the Path leading to Nirvāṇa
6.  The Buddha’s Social Philosophy: A Critique of the Caste System and a Move towards Gender Equality
Assignment 2 to be submitted next week.
7.  Schools of Buddhism: Continuity and Harmony
8. Sarvāstivāda (Vaibhāṣika) and Sautrāntika : Chief Tenets
9. Buddhist Abhidharma according to Vasubandhu: Skandha, Āyatana and Dhātu
   Assignment 3 to be submitted next week.


10.  Ācārya Dharmakīrti on Momentariness: A Brief Exposition

     Assignment 4 to be submitted next week.
 11.  Yogācāra Vasubandhu’s arguments for Mind-only thesis
12.  The Doctrine of Variegated Non-dual Consciousness (Citrādvaita-vāda)
  Special assignment 2 (Long essay) to be       completed by the end of the 6th  week.
13.  Vasubandhu’s Doctrine of Three Natures
14 The problem of other minds: Dharmakīrti and Ratnakīrti
    Assignment 5 to be submitted next week.

15.  Nāgārjuna’s argument in Vigrahavyāvartanī
16.  Nāgārjuna’s Position in Mūlamadhyamakakārikā
17.  The Mādhyamika doctrine of Emptiness (Śūnyatā) 
    Assignment 6 to be submitted next week.

18.  Prāsaṅgika and svātantrika approaches to Mādhyamika philosophy
19. Nāgārjuna’s socio-political thought in Ratnāvali
20.  Candrakīrti’s Introduction to Mādhyamika Philosophy
    Assignment 7 to be submitted next week.

   Special assignment 3 (Long essay) to be    completed by the end of the 9th week.
21.  Buddhist Epistemology in juxtaposition with Nyāya
22.  Pramāṇa-samplava and Pramāṇa-vyavasthā
     Assignment 8 to be submitted next week.

23.  Diṅnāga and Dharmakīrti on perception and pseudo-perception
24.  Diṅnāga’s theory of inference (1)
25.  Diṅnāga’s theory of inference (2) 
    Assignment 9 to be submitted next week.
26.  Fallacies: of Thesis, Probans and Instance according to Diṅnāga
27.  Dharmakīrti on Prameya and Pramāṇa

Assignment 10 to be submitted next week.  Special assignment 4 (Long essay) to be   completed by the end of the 12th week.

28.  Transition from Diṅnāga to Dharmakīrti: Part I: Inference for Oneself
29.  Transition from Diṅnāga to Dharmakīrti: Part II: Inference for others
30.  Buddhist Approach to Language
   Assignment 11 to be submitted next week.

31.  Buddhism Beyond Religion: Some Modern Approaches
32.  Buddhism and modern values
Assignment 12 to be submitted next week.
33.  The concept of Engaged Buddhism
34.  Secularist Trends in Modern Buddhism 35.  Buddhist Feminism

Assignment 13 to be submitted next week.     Special assignment 5 (Long essay) to be completed by the end of the 15th week.

36.  His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as a Modern Buddhist Leader
37.  Thich Nhat Hanh’s approach to Buddhism
Assignment 14 to be submitted next week.

38.  Vipassanā-centric Contemporary Approach to Buddhism: S. N. Goenka
39.  Sangharaksita’s approach to Buddhism 40.  B. R. Ambedkar’s interpretation of Buddhism
  Assignment 15 to be submitted at the end of     the week week.

Books and references

Suggested Books and References :

(A) The Books Available on Internet:
1. Ambedkar, B. R. 1997 (1957). The Buddha and His Dhamma. Nagpur: Buddha Bhoomi Publications.
(PDF Available on Internet as http://ycis.ac.in/CEGC%20Library/English/Buddha%20and%20His%20Dhamma.pdf
2. Bodhi, Bhikkhu. (2000).
Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma: The Abhidhammattha Sangha of Acariya 
3. Anuruddha. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society.
(Available on Internet as http://enlight.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-MISC/misc140395.pdf)
4. Davids, Rhys, T. W. (1962). Buddhism: Its History and Literature. London & New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Ltd. Available in Internet Archives as https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.279742
5. Narada (1988): The Buddha and His Teachings, Buddhist Missionary Society, Kuala Lumpur (Malasia)
(Fourth Edition) Available on Internet as PDF https://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/buddha-teachingsurw6.pdf
6. Narada. 1973. Buddhism in Nutshell. Hawaii: First Chinese Buddhist Association of Hawaii.
(Soft copy available as https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/narada/nutshell.html )
7. Gokhale, Pradeep P. (1992), Inference and Fallacies Discussed in Ancient Indian Logic with Special Reference to Nyāya and Buddhism, Delhi: Sat Guru Publications
(The book is available in Archives as https://archive.org/details/InferenceAndFallaciesDiscussedInAncientIndianLogicPradeepP.Gokhale )
8. Dalai Lama. H. H. (2011). Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World. USA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
E-copy of the book available as http://www.tibhomes.org/thsmie/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Ethics_for_a_Whole_World-Study_Guide-Project_Clear_Light-3.pdf
9. Dalai Lama. H. H. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living…
E-copy is available as http://www.e4thai.com/e4e/images/pdf/The%20Art%20of%20Happiness.pdf

(B) Buddhist Suttas in Translation available on Internet
1. Dhammacakkappavattanasutta (Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi)
5. Internet Links for Buddha’s Teachings:

(C) Other Useful Books:
1. Bhagwat, N. K. 2006. Buddhist Philosophy of the Theravāda. Delhi: Bharatiya Kala Prakashan.
2. Deokar, Mahesh A., “Life of the Buddha: A Socially Engaged Narrative”, in Deokar Lata Mahesh (Ed.) Saṃkathā Department of Pali, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, 2021
3. Dutt, N. –Early Monastic Buddhism, Firma K.L.Mukhopadhyay, Calcutta, 1971
4. Kalupahana, D – Buddhist Thought and Ritual, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt Ltd. Delhi, 2001 
5. Siderits, Mark –Buddhism as Philosophy, Ashgate Publishing Limited, Great Britain, 2007
6. Kalupahana, D. – A History of Buddhist Philosophy: Continuities and Discontinuities, MotilalBanarsidass Publishers Pvt Ltd. Delhi, 2006
7. Gokhale, Pradeep P.(Ed.): Classical Buddhism, Neo-Buddhism and the Question of Caste, Routledge, London and New York, 2021
8. Gross, Rita M. : “Buddhism After Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism”, State University of New York Press, 1992.
9. Tripathi, Ramshankar - Bauddha Darshan Prasthan, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, Varanasi.
10. Siderites, Mark and Katsura, Shoryu: Nāgārjuna’s Middle Way: Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, Wisdom Publication, Boston, 2013
11. Chattopadhyay, M. – Walking along the paths of Buddhist Epistemology, D. K. Printworld, New Delhi, 2007
12. Vyas, C.S. – Buddhist Theory of Perception with special Referene to Pramāṇavārttika of Dharmakīrti, Navrang, New Delhi, 1991   
13. Hetubindu as in Gokhale, Pradeep (Ed. And Tr.) Hetubindu of Dharmakīrti: A Point on Probans, Delhi: Satguru Publication (1997)
14. Queen, Christopher S., and Sallie B. King, eds. (1996). Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Liberation Movements in Asia. Albany: State University of New York Press.
15. Mcmahan David L., (2008). The Making of Buddhist Modernism. Oxford: University Press.
16. Hart William. (1988): Vipassana Meditation. The Art of Living as taught by S. N. Goenka. Vipassana Research Institute, Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri.

Instructor bio

Prof. Pradeep Prabhakar Gokhale (Former Professor, Savtribai Phule Pune University, Pune)

Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS), Sarnath, Varanasi
Course Coordinator of the Course:- 
Prof. Pradeep Prabhakar Gokhale,
Former Professor, Department of Philosophy, 
Savtribai Phule Pune University, Pune 
Email Id: pradeepgokhale53@gmail.com
Mobile and whatsapp No.: +91- 8983385018

Prof. Pradeep P. Gokhale was awarded Ph. D for his work on “Fallacies discussed in Ancient Indian Logic” completed under the supervision of Prof. S. S. Barlingay.  He taught for 31 years in the post-graduate Department of Philosophy of Savitribai Phule Pune University. Since January 2012 he was Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Research Professor (Chair Professor) in Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath till 2018.

Presently he is an Honorary Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pali and Buddhist Studies, Savitribai Phule Pune University.  His research areas are   Classical Indian Philosophy and logic, Particularly heterodox systems of Indian philosophy: Buddhism, Jainism and Cārvāka; Social Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Ambedkar studies and Contemporary Buddhism. 

The books authored by him include: Inference and fallacies Discussed in Ancient Indian Logic (Satguru Publication); The Logic of Debate (Annotated transation of Dharmakīrti’s Vādanyāya) (Satguru Publication); A Point on Probans (Annotated Translation of Dharmakīrti’s Hetubindu (Satguru Publication); Lokāyata/Cārvāka: A Philosophical Inquiry (OUP), and Yogaūtra of Patañjali: A New Introduction to the Buddhist Roots of the Yoga System (Routledge). The books edited by him include: The Philosophy of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (IPQ Publication) and Classical Buddhism, Neo-Buddhism and the Question of Caste (Routledge). He has co-authored Recollection, Recognition and Reasoning: A Study in the Jaina Theory of Paroksa-Pramāna with S. S. Antarkar and Meenal Katarnikar (Indian Books Centre, Delhi)

He has to his credit: around sixty articles in English and seventy articles in Marathi published in various journals and anthologies.

Coordinator of the Course :-
Professor Geshe Ngawang Samten
Vice Chancellor, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, Varanasi.

Professor Geshe Ngawang Samten,  possesses a rare combination of education on modern lines as well as the Tibetan monastic system.  He obtained Geshe Lharampa degree, from Gaden Shartse monastery, equivalent to Ph.D. degree in the modern system. 

As a result of his outstanding achievement in the field of research, he was promoted to the position of Professor of Buddhist Philosophy.  He is also actively engaged in Hindi translations of Buddhist texts in Sanskrit and Tibetan. Professor Samten, with his special interest in the philosophy of Nagarjuna, published the definitive critical edition of the Ratnāvali with its commentary as the result of his post-graduate research. He is credited with important publications, such as a critical edition of Abhidhammattha-Saṅgaho, a critical edition of Sanskrit and Tibetan versions of the Piṇḍikṛta and the Pañcakrama of Nagarjuna, and co-authored The Ocean of Reasoning, an annotated English translation of the commentary on Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamaka Karika by the Tibetan master thinker Tson-Kha-Pa, published by Oxford University Press. The Ocean of Reasoning is acclaimed far and wide. 

He has contributed to the improvement of academic standards at CIHTS, particularly through teaching and research. He is instrumental in promoting Buddhist Studies in India. A number of Indian universities have greatly been benefited by his scholarship and insight in formulating courses and initiating Buddhist studies.  He strongly advocates to make the education system instrumental in transforming the students through inculcation of value along with development of skills in various fields. 

He frequently travels across the continents lecturing to academic audiences in the United States, Europe, Australia, Russia, some of the Asian countries and as well in India. He has been in action at various national and international seminars, workshops and conferences. He has held Visiting Professorship at Hampshire, Amherst and Smith Colleges in the USA and at the University of Tasmania in Australia.

In virtue of his sagacity and wisdom, Professor Samten has been on numerous academic bodies of universities and expert committees of the Ministries of Government of India, and as a member on the boards of several Institutes in USA, Canada, Thailand, France and Austria. He has also served in the Editorial Board of International Association of Tibetan Studies in Harvard. He has been the Vice President of Association of Indian Universities, and has served chairman/member of various expert committees constituted by the University Grant Commission of India.

In 2009, he has been awarded Padma Shri (one of the country’s highest civilian awards) by       the President of India for his distinguished services in the field of education and literature.

In 2016, he has been awarded Vesak Samman by the Government of India in recognition of his outstanding lifelong achievement in the fields preservation, development and promotion of Indian philosophy, arts and culture within and outside India, as well as his lifelong services towards dissemination of Buddhist studies and establishment of academic institutions.

He is currently the Vice-Chancellor of Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, Varanasi.

Teaching Assistants for the Course:-
Name: Ashish Sangle, 
Email : kira.ashish@gmail.com
Phone number : +91-7028991181
Pursued Batchelor of Technology (Electrical Engineering) (2012); M.A. in Philosophy (2014); UGC JRF in Philosophy (2013, 2014); and currently doing Ph. D. in philosophy in the Department of Philosophy, Savitribai Phule Pune University.  He is also holding the post of Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy, Savitribai Phule Pune University since 2016. He has taught courses on Early Buddhism, Mahāyāna Buddhism, Nāgārjuna and Buddhist Epistemology at post-graduate level. He has contributed a chapter on Buddhism to a Text book (“Early Buddhism and Jainism”) prepared by the University under Distance Education Program.  

Course certificate

The Interested Learners (Students, Working Professionals, and Life-Long Learners) can enroll and learn this MOOC course for free. 

If you want to get SWAYAM Certificate for this course, you have to register for SWAYAM Examination and write the proctored examination conducted by National Testing Agency (NTA: https://swayam.nta.ac.in/) in its various exam centres across India. The SWAYAM examination fee for this course is Rs. 1000, to be paid at the time of Exam registration. 
Marks Distribution:
In this course, 30 Marks will be allocated for Internal Assessment (assignment/ discussion forum/ activity) and 70 Marks will be allocated for external proctored examination.

A  minimum of 40 % passing marks (i.e. at-least 12 marks in Internal Assessment & 28 Marks in external proctored examination) will be required for being eligible for SWAYAM Certificate.

Kindly note:- The students enrolled in Universities/Institutions/Colleges can avail Credit Transfer as per UGC SWAYAM Regulations, 2021 for this course. The Host University for this Credit Transfer will be Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS), Sarnath, Varanasi.

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