SOAS University of London

Department of Religions and Philosophies

Buddhist Rituals

Course Code:
Course Not Running 2016/2017
Unit value:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 1
Although in principle Buddhism maintains a negative and critical attitude towards rituals and devotional practices, from the very early period and throughout the entire Buddhist history, the Buddhist traditions of India and beyond have adopted indigenous rituals and practices, and devised a great variety of their own rituals.

This course explores the mythic, doctrinal and other dimensions of Buddhist rituals, identifies the various sources of ritual power, examines the structural patterns of various rituals, surveys the different categories of rituals, and analyses the most important groups of rituals. The Vinaya derived rituals, the Bodhisattva vows and practices, the tantric consecrations, homa rites, and funeral rites are studied in some detail. Some attention is also given to the practice of divination, astrology and magic.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

In addition to becoming acquainted with the major categories of Buddhist rituals and sourcse material, students should gain a unique inside into the living dimensions of Buddhism and the Buddhist way of transforming Buddhist theories into ritualized activities. 

Method of assessment

One 6,000 word essay (worth 90%)
One 15mns class presentation (worth 10%)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules