Symbiosis International University Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

Buddhist Philosophy: The Indian Tradition

 Brief Overview 

This course will introduce students of any academic background the fundamentals of Buddhist thought and philosophy. Given the sheer breadth of Buddhist philosophy, this course will cover only the Indian traditions. The syllabus will thus include the origins of Buddhism and then move to Mahayana Buddhism, and Vajrayana (tantric) Buddhism. The philosophical context in which the Buddha taught will be introduced to the students, after which they will study basic philosophical and soteriological concerns as seen in the writings of Indian Buddhism. The course is a basic introduction to the subject and does not presuppose any prior subject knowledge on the part of the student.

 Course Objectives 

  • To summarize the basic concepts of Buddhism as found in the Indian Tradition.
  • To review the fundamental philosophical concerns that lead to the rise and growth of Buddhist thought in India.
  • To discuss and review the various schools of Buddhist philosophy in India.
  • To identify and distinguish the differentiating characteristics of the various schools of Buddhist philosophy within the Indian Tradition. 

 Teaching Methodology 

  • The class sessions will be a mix of interactive lectures and discussions.
  • Regular readings will be provided to students and discussions and class leads will be held based on these.
  • Audio-visual aids are incorporated wherever applicable.
  • Reading and discussion of research papers / book chapters are incorporated within the class structure so as to reinforce and ensure that students are abreast with literature n the subject
  • Self-study and practice forms a part of the pedagogy of this course.  



 Course Outline 





The Buddha, his Life and Philosophical Context

o   Philosophical context of pre Buddhist India

o   The Buddha and his Life

o   Our knowledge of the Buddha himself

10 hrs


Fundamental Teachings of Mainstream Buddhism

o   The Four Noble Truths

o   Anantman (No-Self)

o   Dependent Origination (Paticcasamutpada)

o   Karma

o   Buddhist Meditation

o   Abhidhamma



Schools of Mahayana Buddhism

o   Origins and features of Mahayana Buddhism

o   Schools of Mahayana Buddhisms

o   Mahayana Philosophy

o   Buddha in the Mahayana Tradition



 Introduction to Buddhist Tantra

o   Features of Buddhist Tantra

o   Tantric practice in the Buddhist Tradition

o   Vajrayana and its Place in the Buddhist Tradition