Course Outline: BP405 Buddhism, Upanishads and Advaita Vedanta, 2009/2010, Semester 2

Basic Data
Bachelor of Arts (Buddhist Studies)
Second Semester (November 30, 2009 – March 27, 2010) Academic year 2009/2010
Credit / status: 
3 credits / Minor Subject
Course Organization: 

The course will be lecture-based and will follow the introduction to Buddhist and Upanishadic teachings and proceed to examine scholastic interpretation of Early Buddhist doctrinal concepts presented by Madhyamaka and Yogācāra schools of Mahayana tradition. Finally, the course will be concluded with a critical examination on the relation between Mahayana scholastic interpretation of Buddhism and Sankara’s non-dualist interpretation of Upanishads with special reference to the views presented by the modern scholars on the subject. Lectures will be conducted on the following topics:

  • Lecture 1: An introduction to Early Buddhism and Upanishads.
  • Lecture 2: The conception of reality – Buddhism and Upanishads
  • Lecture 3: The conception of the universe – Buddhism and Upanishads
  • Lecture 4: The conception of liberation – Buddhism and Upanishads
  • Lecture 5: A comparative study of Buddhist and Upanishadic teachings
  • Lecture 6: Madhyamaka interpretation of Pratityasamutpada
  • Lecture 7: Madhyamaka interpretation of the conception of Nirvāna
  • Lecture 8: Madhyamaka doctrine of two truths
  • Lecture 9: Madhyamaka Absolutism - a critical examination
  • Lecture 10: Yogācāra conception of reality
  • Lecture 11: Yogācāra conception of the universe
  • Lecture 12: Yogācāra conception of three truths
  • Lecture 13: Sankara,s interpretation of Upanishads
  • Lecture 14: Advaitavadantic concept of the Absolute and Madhyamaka and Yogācāra concept of the Absolute.
  • Lecture 15: Views of the modern scholars on the relation between Buddhism and Upanishads.
Course Requirements: 

The students are expected to have a basic knowledge on the subject covered in the course description. The class participation, question and discussion will be encouraged. A suitable amount of time will be allocated at the end of the course for the review and preparation for the examination. Attendance at lectures 80%, a written assignment on a topic of the student’s choice of between 1000 and 1500 words and a final examination will be required.

Allocation of Marks: 
  • Class participation and attendance: 5 %
  • Written assignment: 15 %
  • Mid-term examination: 20 %
  • Final examination: 60 %
Course Objectives: 

The students are expected to obtain from this course a comparative knowledge of Buddhism and Upanishads and also an accurate knowledge of the difference between Buddhism and Upanishads.


All tests, assignments and examinations are graded as follows with grade point and numerical marks:

Grade Performance Grade value Percentage Equivalence
A+ Excellent 4.0 90-100
A Almost Excellent 3.75 85-89
A- Fairly Excellent 3.5 80-84
B+ Very Good 3.25 75-79
B Good 3.0 70-74
B- Fairly Good 2.75 65-69
C+ Fair 2.5 60-64
C Satisfactory 2.25 55-59
C- Minimum Satisfactory 2.0 50-54
D+ Fairly Poor 1.5 40-49
D Poor 1.0 30-39
F Fail 0.0 29 or less
I Incomplete
W Withdrawn
WF Withdrawn because of failure
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