Course Outline

Lecturer: Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa.
Teaching Assistant: Ven. Gyanabodhi (

Questions can be sent by email to the Teaching Assistant. You are also welcome to discuss the topic with other students at:

Examination and Requirements

Students are required to read all the lecture notes and read the relevant material to each topic. One Essay Paper is to be written, in accordance with the topics listed below. The final examination is in the form of online written examination. Please contact your Teaching Assistant for this course for the guidance.

Course Outline:

The following ten topics will be discussed.

Unit 1-The Indian Background and Emergence of Buddhism
Unit 2-The First Buddhist Council
Unit 3-The Second and Third Buddhist Council
Unit 4-Main teachings of Buddhism (Part I)
Unit 5-Main Teachings of Buddhism (Part II)
Unit 6-Main Teachings of the Buddha (Part III, Ethical teachings)
Unit 7-Establishment of Buddhism
Unit 8-Popularisation of Buddhism in India
Unit 9 and 10-Buddhist schools
Unit 11 and 12-Arising of Mahayana
Unit 13-Contents of Early Mahayana scriptures

Suggested Essay Topics:

You can also select your own essay topics related to above topics. Here are the some topics you can write on:

1. Give an account of the early Buddhist monastic organization.

2. Explain the factors which led to the rapid popularity of Buddhism during the time of the Buddha.

3. Bring out the importance and significance of monastic rituals in respect to the well being of the Buddhist order.

4. Explain how the four noble truth constitute all the Buddhist doctrines.

5. Higher ordination.

6. The position of women in Buddhism.

7. Elucidate the different aspects of early Buddhism.

8. Make comprehensive notes on the origin of Indian Buddhism.

9. Rainy retreats

10. The reaction of the Buddha to his social and religious background.

Required Reading

1. Notes provided by Prof. Kapila
2. Akira, Hirakawa. A History of Indian Buddhism: From Sakyamuni to Early Mahayana.
Translated by Paul Groner. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990.

Prof. Kapila is specialized on Buddhist Pali literature. Prof. Hirakawa Akira is a renowned Japanese scholar whose book took references from Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese.

Recommended for Reading

1. Bapat, P.V. '2500 years of Buddhism' Government of India. 1959.
2. Conze, Edward. 'Buddhist Thought in India'. University of Michigan Press.1962.
3. Dutt Nalinaksha. Buddhist Sects in India'. Motilal Barnarsidass. 1987.
4. Hajime Nakamura. 'Indian Buddhism:A Survey with bibliographical notes'. KUFC Publications. 1980.
5. Harvey, Peter. 'An Introduction to Buddhism'. Cambridge University Press. 1990.
6. Hazra, K.L. 'The Rise and Decline of Buddhism in India'. Munshiram Manoharlal. 2000.
7. Lamotte, E. 'History of Indian Buddhism:From the origin to the Saka era. France Institute
Orientaliste. 1988.
8. Pande, G.C. 'Studies in the Origin of Buddhism'. Motilal Barnarsidass. 1955.
9. Skilton, Andrew. 'Concise History of Buddhism'. Barnes and NObles. 2000.
10.Thapar, Romilar. 'Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas'. Oxford University Press. 1998.
11.Warder, A.K.'Indian Buddhism' Motilal Banarsidass. 2000.
12.Winternitz, Maurice. 'A History of Indian Literature'. Vol.1. Motilal Barnarsidass. 1981.