Khyentse Foundation has made a commitment to fund Buddhist Studies programs at the Institute of East Asian Studies at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in Budapest, Hungary. With this funding the university will establish an additional faculty position and offer more courses in Buddhism and Tibetan language to the university’s BA students. The new faculty member will also lead the development of an MA program in Buddhist Studies and coordinate the activities of their newly created Budapest Center of Buddhist Studies. KF has committed to supporting the additional faculty position for 1 year, with future funding to cover a 3-year pilot program if the initial year meets the objectives of the proposal.
The Center of Buddhist Studies at ELTE was established in 2012 to meet increasing demand for undergraduate and graduate studies in Tibetan Buddhism, but until now lacked the resources to develop its programs. According to the department’s Professor Imre Hamar, an internationally recognized expert in Chinese Buddhist commentaries, the time is ripe for supporting ELTE.
KF’s Academic Committee strongly advocates the support of Buddhist Studies in countries where Buddhism once thrived. The KF global survey report of Buddhist Studies departments around the world indicates that Buddhism has a long history in Hungary and that it suffered greatly during the Soviet occupation. Founded in 1635, ELTE is the oldest continually working university in Hungary. With 16 institutes and 8,000 students, it is also the largest institution of higher education in Hungary. According to Dr. Hamar, Tibetology is regarded as a national discipline in Hungary. “It was Sándor Kőrösi Csoma 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, at our university alone.”
Dr. Sydney Jay conducted a survey of the existing program through interviews and an on-site visit to the university campus in January, 2013, and found Dr. Hamar to be in a key position to lead the expansion of Buddhist Studies in the department. Dr. Hamar anticipates that the increased activity at the Center of Buddhist Studies, as well as university-sponsored public seminars and lectures, will have a positive impact on the Buddhist community in Hungary.