This course deals with how the Buddha is inextricably linked with Hinduism and was just one in a long line of gurus that the dharmic faith produced. Buddhism was discovered by Orientalists outside of India which is why Gautama Buddha is thought of as a revolutionary religious leader with no ties to any previous school of thought. Buddha's philosophy was shaped by the scriptures and so too were the meditative practices that he learned at the feet of several rishis, who were invariably Hindus. Due to Buddhism's disappearance and its development outside of India, the connection with its roots is either unknown or neglected.
Instructor: Koenraad Elst
Koenraad Elst (°Leuven 1959) distinguished himself early on as eager to learn and to dissent. After a few hippie years, he studied at the KU Leuven, obtaining MA degrees in Sinology, Indology and Philosophy. After a research stay at Benares Hindu University, he did original fieldwork for a doctorate on Hindu nationalism, which he obtained magna cum laude in 1998. As an independent researcher, he earned laurels and ostracism with his findings on hot items like Islam, multiculturalism and the secular state, the roots of Indo-European, the Ayodhya temple/mosque dispute and Mahatma Gandhi's legacy. He also published on the interface of religion and politics, correlative cosmologies, the dark side of Buddhism, the reinvention of Hinduism, technical points of Indian and Chinese philosophies, various language policy issues, Maoism, the renewed relevance of Confucius in conservatism, the increasing Asian stamp on integrating world civilization, direct democracy, the defence of threatened freedoms, and the Belgian question. Regarding religion, he combines human sympathy with substantive skepticism.