Faculty & Staff

Buddhist Studies in IndiaThe strength of the Buddhist Studies program comes from a combination of diverse and highly qualified faculty, and a very low student-faculty ratio. A mix of Western and Eastern instructors helps ensure a continuity of American educational patterns, as well as access to the indigenous philosophies in their genuine form. Western faculty are responsible for the organization and evaluation of coursework, while the Asian teachers present perspectives of the traditions being studied. This variety of intellectual and cultural viewpoints creates a stimulating milieu in which genuine inquiry occurs.

Program Director

Dr. Arthur McKeown received a BA magna cum laude from Dartmouth College. He received an MA and PhD from Harvard University, where his dissertation was titled From Bodhgaya to Lhasa to Beijing: The Life and Times of Sariputra (c.1335-1426), Last Abbot of Bodhgaya. Dr. McKeown has received a Fulbright Fellowship, Reischauer Center Fellowship, as well as the Harvard Certificate of Distinction in Teaching. He has research experience in South Asia and Tibet, and has presented papers at meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the International Association of Buddhist Studies. Dr. McKeown has experience teaching Tibetan Language and Buddhist Studies as an Instructor and Teaching Fellow at Harvard University. He served on the faculty with the Buddhist Studies in India program from 2010 to 2014 and was the Assistant Program Director in 2015 before becoming Program Director in Fall 2016.

Consulting Director

C. Robert Pryor earned a BS from the University of Michigan, and an MAT from Antioch University. He studied Anthropology and South Asian religions at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Robert designed the Buddhist Studies in India program, and served as director from 1979 to 2015. He was a consultant for the BBC documentary, In the Footsteps of the Buddha, and collaborated on the book Living This Life Fully: Stories and Teachings of Munindra. Robert is very active at the Yellow Springs Dharma Center which he helped to found in 1993. His interests include: South Asian cultures, pilgrimage, the history of Indian Buddhism, meditation and Buddhism in the West. Robert is Consulting Director for Buddhist Studies in India and Distinguished Visiting Professor in Asian Studies at Carleton College. 

Course Instructors

PHIL 318: Buddhist Philosophy

Lopon Damchoe Wangmo, M.T.S., M. T. B., graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 2018. She graduated from Nyagyur Nyingma Institute’s nine-year course in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy in 2012. She has been teaching Buddhist philosophy in Canada, the United States, India, and Nepal since 2010. She has served as an interpreter for several Tibetan lamas and published numerous translations from classical Tibetan in to English. Her research interests include Tibetan ‘bar-dar’ literature, the works of Rongzom and Mipham, and early Indian Buddhist historiography.

SOAN 322: Contemporary Buddhist Culture

Darcie Price-Wallace is a doctoral candidate in Buddhist Studies at Northwestern University. She completed an MA in History of Religions and an MA in Social Work from the University of Chicago and is the recipient of fellowships from the Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster for Asian Studies, the American Institute of Indian Studies, and Foreign Languages and Area Studies. She recently completed one-year of her dissertation fieldwork in the northwestern Himalayan regions of India under a Fulbright-Nehru Student Grant. She researches textual and oral histories of ordained Tibetan women alongside a contemporary full ordination movement for nuns (bhikṣuṇī/dge slong ma) within the Karma Kagyu lineage. Her dissertation examines precedents for ordination within different Tibetan lineages, paying attention to how such rhetoric is relevant for present day monastic and lay communities.

ASST 319: History of South Asian Buddhism

Dr. Roberta Prado received her MA (Laurea) magna cum laude from the Department of Hindi, Faculty of Oriental Languages and Literature in 2003 at the University Ca’ Foscari Venezia in Italy. She also received an MA at Benares Hindu University. She went on to receive her PhD in Sanskrit, Tantric Literature, and Indian History at Benares Hindu University (BHU) in 2015, where she completed a dissertation on the Varahi Tantra. She has studied with Indian scholars and traditionally trained pandits, and has published papers in both English and Sanskrit. She has a wide breadth of experience living, studying, and traveling in India for extended periods.  

LCST 101: Tibetan Language

Punya Prasad Parajuli received a BA in Physics, an MA in Anthropology, and an MA in Nepalese History, Culture and Archeology from Tribhuvan University, Nepal.  He has also received an MA in Buddhist Studies from Magadh University, Bodh Gaya, India. Punya is actively involved in translating Tibetan and Sanskrit texts into Nepali. He has been a Tibetan language instructor at the Center for Nepalese and Asian Studies, Tribhuvan University and a Sanskrit language teacher at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling and Shechen Monasteries in Kathmandu. Punya taught Tibetan language with the Buddhist Studies program in 2006, 2009, and 2011–2015. He has also been a Tibetan language and culture instructor as well as a research guide for Cornell University students studying Buddhist Culture in Nepal.

LCST 101 and 103: Hindi Language

Dr. Gaurav Agarwal received a BA in Hindi Literature, History and Political Science; an MA, MPhil, and a PhD in Hindi Literature from the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur.  He leads the youth section in the Rajasthan chapter of “Sahitya Parishad” and is a regular participant in poetry seminars. Dr. Agarwal was a member of the core organizing team for the second World Council of Elders of Ancient Traditions and Culture’s International Summit held in Jaipur. He is Head of Department and teaches Hindi at Poddar International College, Jaipur; and has also been an instructor in the Hindi Language Programs organized by the American Institute of Indian Studies for American university students in Jaipur. Dr. Agarwal has taught Hindi language with the Buddhist Studies program since 2010.

RELG 359: Buddhist Meditation Traditions

Seminars for this course are led by Dr. Arthur McKeown, Program Director.  

Meditation Instructors

Vipassana

Ācariya U Hla Myint was born and educated in Myanmar (Burma). He became a novice monk at the age of ten and a fully ordained bhikkhu at twenty. He has 22 years of monastic training and a PhD in Buddhist Studies and Pali language. A former assistant meditation instructor at Mahasi Meditation Center in Burma, he remained a close disciple, translator, and teaching assistant of the late Sayadaw U Pandita. He has translated numerous Burmese dhamma books and dhamma discourses and has authored Meditation Lectures, Conditional Relations in Daily Life (from the Abhidhamma) and Pali Language Lessons for English Readers. After his years as a monk, U Hla Myint became a householder, and now has a wife and two children. U Hla Myint divides his time between his home in Pyin Oo Lwin near Mandalay in the Shan Hills, Sayadaw U Pandita's Panditarama Meditation Center near Yangon, and San Jose.

Zen

Ekai Korematsu Osho was born and raised in Japan, but began his formal Zen practice while a university student in California where he was affiliated with the San Francisco Zen Center.  In 1979 he returned to Japan for formal monastic training at Eiheiji the principal Soto Zen monastery.  Returning to America in 1983 he founded Kojin-an which later became the Oakland Zen Center. At the request of his teacher Narasaki Roshi he returned to Japan in 1987 to become the director of an International Zen monastery, Shogoji, in Kyushu. From 1994 to 1996 he was again at Eiheiji, and was also the Practice Director at Zuigakuin Temple in Yamanashi Prefecture.  At present he lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he is the founder and spiritual director of Jikishoan Zen Buddhist Community.  

Vajrayana

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche is the abbot of Ka-Nying Shedrup Ling Monastery and the founder of Rangjung Yeshe Institute, a college for Buddhist Studies in Boudhanath, Nepal. Born in Tibet and educated at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim under the guidance of H.H. Karmapa XVI, he is the holder of Drikung Kagyu and Nyingma lineages. Rinpoche is a scholar and master of both Dzogchen and Mahamudra practice. He has taught meditation and philosophy to many Western students, while also super­vising a large shedra or traditional monastic training center in Nepal. He regularly teaches in Europe and North America where he has meditation centers in Denmark, Germany, and California. Rinpoche is the author of several books including The Union of Dzogchen and Mahamudra, Indisputable Truth and Present Fresh Wakefulness.

Staff

Teaching Assistant and Dorm Advisor

Ella Weisser graduated from Wesleyan University in 2017 with a BA in English Literature. During her junior year, she participated in the Bodh Gaya Buddhist Studies Program, after which she spent a semester living in Delhi to intern at The Caravan Magazine. Following graduation, she returned to Bodh Gaya to work as the Kitchen Manager for the Buddhist Studies Program. In her spare time Ella likes to read and make woodblock prints.

Vihar Manager

Erica Ruiz Vargas received her BA in Physics and Mathematics from the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo, Mexico, and her MA in Mathematics from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. She has taught mathematics at the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo, Mexico as well as shamatha meditation at the Tibetan Buddhist Center: Casa Tibet in Morelia. Erica is a practitioner of Vajrayana Buddhism who helped to organize events and was in charge of the bookstore at Casa Tibet, Morelia. She was also a participant in the Shamatha Project: a longitudinal study investigating meditative quiescence, loving-kindness, and human flourishing. Erica now lives in South Asia in order to dedicate her time to the study and practice of Vajrayana Buddhism.