Introduction to Buddhism explores the origin, philosophy and broader cultural milieu of early Buddhism as it developed in India, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. Specific attention will be given to the life of the Buddha and the embodiment of core Buddhist principles such as non-self, mindfulness, and nirvana. Concepts including the Four Noble Truths, the Eight-fold Path, karma and dharma will be discussed in a comparative manner. Our second class will examine the expansive spread of Buddhism into Tibet, East Asia and the West. Attention will be given to the development of Mahayana thought, particularly the Bodhisattva ideal and its diverse cultural expressions. Concepts such as impermanence and co-dependent origination will be covered by reading masters like Nagarjuna and Shantideva. Contemporary practices and Buddhism’s spread to America will also be discussed. Textual excerpts from Buddhist sutra literature in Pali as well as various Mahayana Buddhist texts will contextualize interactive class discussions.
Srinivas Reddy is a disciple of Sri Partha Chatterjee, a direct disciple of the late sitar maestro Pandit Nikhil Banerjee. Srinivas is a professional concert sitarist and has given numerous recitals in the US, India and Europe. He has three albums to his credit: GITA (1999), Sitar & Tabla (2001) and Hemant & Jog (2008). In 2011 Srinivas graduated from UC Berkeley with a PhD in South and Southeast Asian Studies. Under the guidance of Professor George Hart he studied Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu literary traditions. His translation of the work entitled Giver of the Worn Garland was published by Penguin Books in 2010.