Summer Course on Vinaya

Australian Association of Buddhist StudiesA summer short course on Vinaya will be taught by Professor Shayne Clarke (of McMaster University) at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. It is being run as an intensive class (3 hours per day) between Feb 10 and 19, 2020.  

The course will be taught at the 500-level (MA-level) but advanced undergraduates may be admitted with the permission of the instructor. Details about the course are below. Please see the University of Otago website to register. For enquiries, please email Associate Professor Benjamin Schonthal (

RELS521 Readings in Buddhist Texts

Buddhist monastic law codes (Vinayas) are undoubtedly the most important literary sources for understanding how Buddhism was not only meant to be practised in India some time around the turn of the Common Era, but also for how it was actually practised. Despite their importance, these texts are commonly read only superficially and uncritically, in part perhaps because we already “know” from modern traditions and our own preconceived and often hopelessly romanticized notions how Buddhist monks and nuns are supposed to live the religious life.

The aim of this seminar is to increase students’ familiarity with both the content and structure of canonical Indian Buddhist monastic law codes and how scholars have utilized such texts in order to improve our understanding of various aspects of Buddhist monasticism in India including but not limited to socio-economic realities and the development of legal traditions. Students will be required to read not only passages from canonical texts (in translation), but also commentaries thereon and scholarly articles which engage with this material.

Students will develop a critical awareness and appreciation for the scope of material found in Indian Buddhist monastic law codes, a familiarity with recent scholarship in Buddhist Studies in general and Vinaya Studies in particular, critical reading and thinking skills, and basic research skills.

The paper will be taught (distance learning) by Visiting Professor, Shayne Clarke, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster University and a leading authority on Buddhism and Buddhist law.


Gold leaf covered schist reliquary

Gold leaf covered schist reliquary in the form of a stupa. Kusana period, North Western India. National Museum, Karachi, Pakistan. Copyright: Huntington, John C. and Susan L.Huntington Archive