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.

Course Instructors

PHIL 318: Buddhist Philosophy

Dr. D. Mitra Barua teaches and conducts research on Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia as well as the Buddhist diaspora in North America. With an MA in Buddhist philosophy and PhD in religious studies, Mitra received training in both textual and social scientific study of religion. His dissertation-based monograph Seeding Buddhism with Multiculturalism (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019) explains what being Buddhist means in Sri Lankan Buddhism across three distinct times and spaces: colonial Ceylon, postcolonial Sri Lanka and immigrant-friendly Canada. Mitra’s current research examines Buddhism in the India-Bangladesh-Myanmar border region with an emphasis on centuries-long Buddhist transnational networks across the region and beyond. He also taught and conducted research at the University of Saskatchewan, Cornell University, and Rice University.

SOAN 322: Contemporary Buddhist Culture

Darcie Price-Wallace is a doctoral candidate in Religious Studies at Northwestern University. She holds an MA in History of Religions and an MA in Social Work from the University of Chicago. She recently completed fieldwork in Buddhist monasteries in the northwestern Himalayan regions of India under a Fulbright-Nehru Student Grant. Her dissertation examines textual narratives and oral histories of ordained Himalayan and Tibetan women alongside a contemporary ordination movement for female monastics, paying attention to how such rhetoric is relevant for sustaining ethics of care in present day monastic communities. She taught anthropology on the Buddhist Studies in India program in 2018.

ASST 319: History of South Asian Buddhism

Dr. Gaurav Agarwal received a BA in History, Hindi Literature, and Political Science. He completed an MA in Indian History and received an MPhil and PhD in Hindi. His areas of expertise are Indian Culture, History and Literature. He has also earned a three and half year diploma in Yoga and Naturopathy. He has been invited regularly as a panelist, lecturer, and/or moderator on various topics related to Indian culture, history, and contemporary issues. 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 currently working as Head of Department for the faculty of Arts at Poddar International College, Jaipur. Dr. Agarwal has taught with the Buddhist Studies in Bodh Gaya program since 2010.

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 2011–2018. He has also been a Tibetan language and culture instructor and research guide for Cornell University students studying Buddhist Culture in Nepal.

LCST 101: Hindi Language

To be announced.

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

Assistant Director for Community Life

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 been studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism for the last 17 years, and in 2017 was a participant in the Shamatha Project: a longitudinal study investigating meditative quiescence, loving-kindness, and human flourishing. She has also completed all the requirements for becoming a licensed teacher (AZ teacher license in process) and has volunteered as a teacher in India (high-school, math and English). She enjoys chocolate, dancing, and exercising a bit every day. She’s been working for the program since 2015 and thinks of Bodhgaya as a second home.

Wellness Coordinator

Jamie Boyd is the proud Mother of two and a Traditional Chinese Medicine Provider in San Diego, California. She has been in private practice since 2006 and is the Owner and Director of a very busy integrative medicine wellness center. She has her MS in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and her BA in Religion and Asian Studies from Bard College. She is currently enrolled at Five Branches University for her Doctorate in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She attended the Buddhist Studies program as a student in 1998 and returned in 2007 as the Teaching Assistant. Her love and commitment to this program has inspired her to return with her two daughters, to help support and educate the students to be proactive in their wellness and to optimize their ability for self care while traveling. She will also be coordinating the facilitation of medical services with our local medical doctors to ensure prompt, comprehensive medical attention and supervise the students’ follow through in medical  care.

Teaching Assistant and Resident Adviser

Molly Mansfield received her BA from Sewanee: The University of the South, majoring in Environmental Arts and Humanities. Her focus was on Spiritual Ecology and the correlation between environmental and social injustice. She is particularly interested in how religious communities can be involved in developing creative solutions to environmental and social justice problems.  Molly studied with Buddhist Studies in India in 2015, and served as the program’s Assistant Vihar Manager in 2018.  Her independent study in Himachal Pradesh focused on the relationship between Buddhism and the environment, and how Buddhist leaders, such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, are enacting change and environmental stewardship within their communities. Following graduation from Sewanee, Molly accepted the position of Student Affairs Manager for The School for Field Studies in Bhutan. After spending this spring working with a three-month Tibetan Buddhist retreat in the French Pyrenees, Molly steps into the role of Program Coordinator at Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche's Buddhist center in Northern California. She looks forward to returning to the program in a new role to support students’ study abroad experience in Bodh Gaya.

Assistant Vihar Manager

Frank Wahrheit graduated in 1997 from the teaching hospital Klinikum Karlsruhe (Freiburg University) with a BA (equivalent) in Intensive Medical Care. During his practical work in intensive care, his deep interest in Buddhism brought him to India and Nepal. For the last 20 years, he has studied Buddhist philosophical treatises and Tibetan and Nepali language formally and informally both at Rangjung Yeshe Institute Nepal as well as at monastic universities in Kathmandu and elsewhere. He has great interest in trekking to pilgrim sites in the Himalayas, cooking, and a deep appreciation for classical music.