Academic Development in the West

Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Humanities, Budapest Centre for Buddhist Studies

Another way in which KF supports Buddhist “child” countries is through strengthening the academic study of Buddhism so that Buddhist studies can thrive in universities as a major part of the study of philosophy. The foundation now works with more than 40 universities around the world, and most of them are in “new” Buddhist countries, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and many places in Europe. One example is KF’s collaboration with Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in Hungary, where the Budapest Center for Buddhist Studies was established in 2012 with the support of the foundation. The university is now offering its first Master’s Degree in Buddhism in Hungarian and has recently established the Department of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies.

Founded in 1635 in Budapest, Hungary, Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) is the oldest continually working university in Hungary. With 16 institutes and more than 30,000 students, it is also the largest institution of higher education in Hungary.

The ELTE Budapest Centre for Buddhist Studies was founded in 2012 and Khyentse Foundation has started to support it since 2013. The second support cycle (2016 – 2021) is currently in progress. In terms of its length and the spectrum of the fields it supports, this cycle is much larger than the previous one (2013 – 2016). With this grant, the Budapest Centre for Buddhist Studies is able to finance:
– A Tibetologist researcher position (the Khyentse Fellow)
– The Khyentse Lecture Series, which every semester invites two Hungarian and one renowned international scholar to lecture on Tibetan and/or Buddhist subjects
– A yearly Hungarian Buddhological conference and a biannual international Buddhological conference
– Enlarging the centre’s library

The 2018 – 2019 academic year saw further achievements at the Budapest Centre for Buddhist Studies. The first Buddhist MA program has been accepted by the Hungarian Accreditation Committee. The Master’s Degree program (in Hungarian) started in September 2019, and six students enrolled in the program. The plan is to shift from Hungarian to English after 2 years. In May 2019, the new Department of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies was established. According to Dr. Imre Hamar, an internationally recognized expert in Chinese Buddhist commentaries, Tibetology is regarded as a national discipline in Hungary. “It was Sándor Kőrösi Csoma [a Hungarian philologist and orientalist, author of the first Tibetan-English dictionary and grammar book] who first uncovered the treasures of the Tibetan culture for the Western world. His scholarly achievements have been highly recognized throughout the world up to the present day. Tibetan has been taught at ELTE since 1942, the centenary of Kőrösi Csoma’s death.”

The Budapest Centre also hosted a series Khyentse lectures and conferences last year, with topics ranging from Mongolian Buddhism to Dunhuang and cultural contacts along the Silk Road. The centre hosted visiting lecturers such as Prof. Saerji from Peking University and Dr. Stefano Zacchetti of Oxford University.