All events are free and open to the public

Fall Term 2015

March 9 – August 31, 2015 (extended through September 4, 2015)
Revealing the Treasures of Buddhist Studies at Berkeley
Doe Library, Bernice Layne Brown Gallery
Sponsor: Library

Revealing the Treasures of Buddhist Studies at Berkeley

This exhibit celebrates the intellectual contributions, as well as the global impact and legacy, of UC Berkeley's unique program in Buddhist studies. It features publications of alumni and faculty, as well as Berkeley's manuscript collections that made this research possible. While the scholarship presented here reflects the broad interdisciplinary orientation of the Berkeley program, it is grounded in the philological expertise — the ability to work with often arcane Buddhist canonical materials that survive in languages such as Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese — that is the hallmark of the Berkeley program.

This exhibit recognizes the scholars who founded the Group in Buddhist Studies, their precursors, and those who continue to lead the program today. It features samples of East Asian Buddhist canons, Mongolian and Tibetan texts, Dunhuang manuscript canons, sacred texts of Nepalese Buddhism, Southeast Asian palm-leaf manuscripts, The Tipiṭaka, an edition of the Pali given by King Chulalongkorn of Siam, as well as European publications of Buddhist studies. The exhibit highlights the evolution, breadth, and remarkable success of Buddhist studies scholarship at Berkeley through materials housed at The Bancroft Library, C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Doe Library, South/Southeast Asia Library, and Northern Regional Library Facility.

Download the exhibition guide here.

Event Contact: 510‑643‑0850


Thursday, September 24, 2015, 5 pm
2015-2016 Numata Lecture
Gender and Awakening: Sexual Transformation in Mahāyāna Sūtras

Jan Nattier, Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies
IEAS conference room, 180 Doe

It is commonly held that the rise of the Mahāyāna opened new spiritual horizons for Buddhist women. Many modern writers, especially those inspired by feminist theory, have seen the non-dualistic language that abounds in many Mahāyāna scriptures as evidence that dualities of any sort—including dualities based on gender—were not important in Mahāyāna circles, thus creating a more egalitarian atmosphere for female practitioners. Just as a previous generation of scholars, inspired above all by the work of Hirakawa Akira, saw the Mahāyāna as having increased the status of lay people, so in more recent times the Mahāyāna has often been portrayed as eradicating previously existing barriers to the spiritual attainments of women.

A close look at the Mahāyāna scriptures that have come down to us, however, paints a significantly different picture. In this paper I will examine one subset of narratives featuring female characters: those recounting sexual transformation, in which women either suddenly (within a single lifetime) or gradually (at some point during the course of rebirth) turn into men. In contrast to the view that gender differences were not important in Mahāyāna circles, I will argue that these tales encode a decidedly non-egalitarian vision of what women can (and cannot) achieve.

Jan Nattier is Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of California, Berkeley (fall 2015). She did her undergraduate work in comparative religion (specializing in Buddhism) at Indiana University, where she also began graduate training in the Department of Uralic and Altaic Studies. She completed her Ph.D. at Harvard University under the Committee on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies (specializing in classical Mongolian and Tibetan). She has taught at Macalester College, the University of Hawaii, Stanford University, Indiana University, and the University of Tokyo, in addition to serving as a member of the International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology (Soka University). Her monographs include Once Upon a Future Time: Studies in a Buddhist Philosophy of Decline (Asian Humanities Press, 1991), A Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path according to the Inquiry of Ugra (Ugraparipṛcchāsūtra) (University of Hawai'i Press, 2003), and A Guide to the Earliest Chinese Buddhist Translations (Soka University, 2008).

Saturday, September 26, 2015, 9 am – 5 pm
Archaeology of Knowledge: New Archival and Material Discoveries in Mongolia
145 Dwinelle Hall
Free and open to the public

Note: Registration required at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/archaeology-of-knowledge-new-archival-and-material-discoveries-in-mongolia-a-uc-berkeley-event-tickets-17468149706

Co-sponsored by the Institute of East Asian Studies, Center for Buddhist Studies, Townsend Center for Humanities, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and the Mongolia Foundation, this conference is a celebration of the revival of Mongolian Studies at UC Berkeley.

Mongol spaces have always been heavily trafficked intersections, sites of mediation, and global circuits of people and exchange in the heart of Asia. Recent archaeological discoveries are shedding new light on Mongolia's complex history. Experts from Mongolia who have been working with these new discoveries join Berkeley and other scholars in analyzing these new finds and their implications for our understanding of Mongolia's past.


Morning Session
8:30: Registration, tea, coffee
9-9:15: Welcome Greeting, Professor Kevin O'Brien
9:15-9:50: Keynote speech, Ms. Batchimeg, Member of Parliament
9:50-10: Welcome from Prime Minister Zayabaatar
10-12: Panel 1: Discoveries in Early Archeology

Lunch Break
12-1 pm

Afternoon Session
1-3:30: Panel 2: Buddhist Discoveries and Later Sources
3:45-4:45: Panel 3: Community Leadership Presentations
4.45-5.00: Closing Remarks: Looking to the Future

Tuesday, September 29, 2015, 5 pm
Buddhism in Burma (Title TBA)
Jason Carbine, Whittier College
IEAS Conference Room, 180 Doe

Thursday, October 1, 2015, 5 pm
Contribution of Professor Michael Hahn to the study of Buddhist Narrative Literature
Shrikant Bahulkar, Department of Pali, Savitribai Phule Pune University, India
3335 Dwinelle Hall

Thursday, October 29, 2015, 5 pm
Title TBA
Anne Blackburn, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University
370 Dwinelle Hall

Friday-Saturday, November 6-7, 2015
Buddhist Ritual Music
Alumni House – Zellerbach Playhouse

This symposium is focused on traditional Buddhist ritual music to consider its importance for studying the evolution of Buddhist culture as well as the interaction between Buddhist music and traditional musical culture outside the monastery in China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Thailand.

It will include presentations by scholars in the field of ethnomusicology, Buddhist studies and/or religious studies and performances by Buddhist monastics, renowned in their home countries for their musicality in ritual chanting.

Tentative Program

Friday, November 6, 2015

1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Toll Room, Alumni House
Program TBA

7:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Zellerbach Playhouse
Line-up TBA

Saturday, November 7, 2015

9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Toll Room, Alumni House
Program TBA

1:30 pm – 4:10 pm
Zellerbach Playhouse
Line-up TBA

4:30 pm – 6:20 pm
Toll Room, Alumni House
Program TBA

8:00 pm – 10:15 pm
Zellerbach Playhouse
Line-up TBA

Thursday, November 12, 2015, 5 pm
Title TBA
Mahesh A. Deokar, Department of Pali, Savitribai Phule Pune University, India
3335 Dwinelle Hall

Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 5 pm
Title and Location TBA
Lata Deokar, Department of Pali, Savitribai Phule Pune University, India

Spring Term 2016

Thursday, February 11, 2016, 5 pm
2016 Khyentse Lecture
Donald S. Lopez, University of Michigan
The Faculty Club, Heyns Room

Thursday, April 7, 2016, 5 pm
Title TBA
Douglas Duckworth, Department of Religion, Temple University
IEAS Conference Room, 180 Doe