School of Divinity appoints first lecturer in Buddhist Languages

The School of Divinity are delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Upali Sraman as our first ever lecturer in Buddhist Languages.

Colour head and shoulders photo of Dr Upali Sraman
Dr Upali Sraman

Upali is a Buddhist monk in the Theravāda tradition who has achieved a PhD in Religion at Emory University. His doctoral project, titled 'Bending the Body, Keeping the Mind Upright:The Pedagogy of Bodily Comportment in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya' focuses on exploring how Vinaya (discipline) is taught to novices in their initial years of monastic training. It sets out to do so by examining 1) scenes of instruction of novices in the canonical Mulasarvastivada texts,  and 2) the contents of a key manual for training novices attribute to Nagarjuna with its commentaries.

In addition to completing his PhD, Upali has also received an MDiv from Harvard University in the United States of America, studying there from 2013-2016. He joined Harvard Divinity School as a Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Scholar, through an effort of the Buddhist Ministry Initiative that brings Asian students trained in Buddhist history and traditions to the Divinity School for a year of study.

This post, largely funded by a Khyentse Foundation grant to the Edinburgh Buddhist Studies (EBS) network, will allow us to expand the provision of Buddhist Studies courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. In particular, it will bring Sanskrit teaching back to the University, with introductory and intermediate classes running from the 2023-24 academic year, for students of religion, linguistics, classics and Asian studies. In addition to teaching Sanskrit, he will offer courses on other aspects of Buddhist culture, supervise dissertations, and be a steering committee member of EBS, contributing to their growing schedule of events and activities.

I am delighted to join as a lecturer of Buddhist languages and cultures at the Edinburgh School of Divinity. My doctoral dissertation focuses on the pedagogical and ethical implications of bodily comportment in monastic training as reflected in Buddhist narratives in Pali, Sanskrit, and Tibetan languages. My research on Buddhist monasticism has led me to read extensively on theories and practices of embodiment and ethical formation across cultures. I am also interested in how Buddhism interacts with other religions and how religions in South Asia share sacred figures, pilgrimage sites, and devotional practices. I look forward to contributing to the vibrant community of scholars at Edinburgh and to the possibility of collaborating on shared projects.

Dr Upali Sraman

We look forward to welcoming Upali to New College next semester.