Buddhism in Contemporary India

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The purpose of the course is to understand Buddhism as a religious minority in modern and contemporary India. The course will analyze the history of the disappearance of Buddhism in India and its re-emergence in modern India and how this relates to Indian political history, society and caste. The course tries to understand the reasons for the re-emergence of Buddhism in India such as colonialism, the British discovery of Buddhist monuments and India's Buddhist past, creation of transnational modern Buddhism, and caste discrimination and political developments in South Asia. The course will identify Buddhist minorities in India and how they differ in terms of teachings, ethnicity and caste. The course will in particular present and analyze B. R. Ambedkar's views of Buddhism, the teachings and practices of Navayana Buddhists, and Buddhism as a Dalit religion in contemporary India.

Learning Outcomes

The student shall by the end of the course have gained the following learning outcome defined in knowledge, skills, and general competence:


The student

  • has good knowledge of the decline and later revival of Buddhism in India, characteristics of modern Buddhism and the different forms of Buddhism in India since the 1890s
  • has thorough knowledge of the main events in the history of Buddhism and caste in the Indian colonial period and contemporary society
  • can outline B.R. Ambedkar's interpretations of Buddhism and the religious teachings and practices of Navayana Buddhism


The student

  • can analyze and deal critically with the place and forms of Buddhism in Indian history and in contemporary Indian society
  • can articulate this in written essays and in written discussions
  • can critically assess other students' writings through peer-reviews

General competence:

The student

  • can analyze, assess, and articulate the reasons for the emergence, decline and revival of religious minorities in societies in independent short essays using the terminology and concepts of the course literature can problematize stereotypes about religious minorities

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Autumn and spring, but not regularly

Place of Instruction

Online course, and therefore not restricted to Bergen.
Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge
The course literature is in English. Students should therefore have a sound knowledge of English.
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
Admission to the Master's Programme Religious Minorities or other Master's Programmes at the UiB
Teaching and learning methods

The teaching and student activities in this course will entirely take place online.


  • short introductory videos
  • readings
  • following each video/reading there will be a short quiz, that tests the students basic understanding of the video/reading
  • individual feedback on discussion postings and essays from the instructor participation in online discussions
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

In this course the following compulsory requirements have to be approved in order to sit for the examination:

  • Course quizzes following videos and/or texts. There will be between 1 and 5 quizzes per week, and successful completion of at least 70 % of the quizzes is required.
  • discussion posting that answers one of more questions as well as a responses to postings by other students.
  • comments on essays of other students (peer-reviewed assignments)

Compulsory requirements are evaluated with "approved/not approved."

Forms of Assessment

The examination consists of two papers:

1 essay (500 words) - 30% of the total grade 1 essay (2000 words) - 70% of the total grade

Both parts of the assessment must be passed in order to pass the examination. The examination will be given a total grade.

The exam assignment will be given in English.

The exam can be submitted in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading Scale
A graded marking scale (A to F) is used. A is the top grade and F means Failed.
Assessment Semester
The course is normally assessed in the teaching semester only.
Reading List

The reading list consists of around 500 to 700 pages.

The reading list is published by December 1st. for the spring semester.

Course Evaluation
The course unit will be evaluated regularly
Examination Support Material
Programme Committee
The Programme Committee for The Study of Religion
Course Coordinator
The Programme Committee for The Study of Religion
Course Administrator
Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion