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4th June 2008 : An International Seminar on Buddhism and Textual Studies


Professor Richard Gombrich of Oxford University is to talk on the importance of textual studies for understanding Buddhism.

Professor Richard Francis Gombrich, one of the world’s best known scholars on Buddhism, is coming to speak at an international seminar on “Buddhism and Textual Studies” organised by the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities in collaboration with the College of Religious Studies, Mahidol University, on the 4th June 2008 at the Royal River Hotel, Bangkok.

The title of Professor Gombrich’s talk is: “Why textual studies are necessary if we are to understand Buddhism”. Drawing on his long experiences in Buddhist Studies, Professor Gombrich will discuss the immense value of textual analysis for understanding Buddhist thought and the importance of creating proper textual editions for achieving this goal.

Professor Gombrich is a British Indologist, specialising in Sanskrit, Pali, and Buddhism. He was the Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University from 1976 to 2004 and is currently the Academic Director of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. He was also for a time the President of the Pali Text Society. Professor Gombrich made himself known with his first book Precept and Practice, a ground-breaking anthropological investigation of the relationship between Buddhist textual ideology and modern Buddhist practice in Sri Lanka. His recent research has focused more greatly on early Buddhism. In particular he has revealed significant connections between early sections of the Pali canon and Brahmanical texts, especially the Upanishads. Professor Gombrich's comparative method has opened the door to new areas of research and has shed a great deal of light on both Buddhist thought and Buddhist early history.

Professor Gombrich’s best known publications include: Precept and Practice (1971), The Perfect Generosity of Prince Vessantara (with Margaret Cone, 1977), The World of Buddhism (co-edited with Heinz Bechert, 1984), Theravada Buddhism (1988), Buddhism Transformed (with Gananath Obeyesekere, 1988), How Buddhism Began (1996).

A central purpose of the seminar on “Buddhism and Textual Studies” is to launch a new international PhD Programme in Buddhist Studies at Mahidol University. Buddhist Studies is a huge discipline and, to reflect this diversity, the programme covers a wide range of topics. In addition to Pali Buddhism, the lecturers on the programme also teach Mahayana Buddhism, Southeast Asian Buddhism, contemporary Buddhism, and Hinduism. A major emphasis of the programme is to stress the importance of reading Buddhist texts in their original language (particularly Sanskrit and Pali), rather than relying on secondary sources. Students will, however, also become thoroughly familiar with the enormous wealth of international scholarship in Buddhist Studies.

In addition to Professor Gombrich, four other eminent scholars will also give talks on the topic of Buddhism and textual studies: Professor Dr Nalini Balbir (Paris University), Dr Peter Skilling (École française d'Extrême-Orient), Dr Toshiya Unebe (Nagoya University), and Assistant Professor Dr Prapod Assavavirulhakarn (Chulalongkorn University). The seminar will be chaired by Dr Pathompong Bodhiprasiddhinand, Director of the PhD Programme, who will give summaries of the lectures in Thai.

Notes to the editors

1.The website of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies is available at:

2.The International PhD Programme in Buddhist Studies of Mahidol University is available at

3. For more details and to reserve a place at the seminar on the 4th June 2008, please visit:



Post Date : April 29, 2008


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