Buddhist Studies at the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute (KIBI), New Delhi - Buddhist Studies Part 3

Studying Buddhism at the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute, New Delhi - Buddhist Studies Part 3


Karmapa International Buddhist Institute
KIBI, main building
This post is the third in a series on Buddhist Studies and aims at giving you some idea what it’s like to engage in Buddhist Studies at the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute (KIBI) in New Delhi, India. After attempting in my first post on Buddhist Studies to answer the question of why one would engage at all in Buddhist Studies, I recently presented several good reasons for doing Buddhist Studies at the Universityof Vienna

Thus, having already given you an example of an esteemed Western academic institution offering a program in Buddhist Studies, this article will now present a corresponding program at a private Buddhist institute: the KIBI in New Delhi. This program might be particularly interesting for practicing Buddhists who want to study under the guidance of Buddhist masters and in close contact with the living Buddhist tradition.

I have chosen to introduce this particular institute for the simple reason that I’ve studied there myself. Therefore, the institute is quite familiar to me, and I feel comfortable telling you about the program. Instead of merely presenting my own personal view, I asked some of my former co-students and friends to contribute by sharing some of their experiences and feelings about the program.

“One learns true words of wisdom that are still applicable in one’s life years after.”

History of the Institute

Karmapa International Buddhist Institute
KIBI is one of the oldest Tibetan Buddhist institutes, like the Rangjung Yeshe Institute or the Kopan Monastery in Nepal, both of which offer programs for a worldwide audience. The institute developed out of the wish of His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, spiritual leader of the Kagyu school. In 1973 he made a request to the Indian government for land for the institute, which he then received in 1979.

Due to the demise of the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa in 1981, construction could only be completed in the year 1990. Since then, the institute has been actively operating to provide Buddhist education to students from various parts of the world.
Karmapa International Buddhist Institute
As it turns out, it has not only become a place where the West can learn about the East, but both have been of mutual influence.

“It was a major culture shock for me to be in the midst of so many 'foreigners' studying Buddhism at KIBI. I vividly remember my Mexican friend Eduardo quizzing me provocatively, "How are you a Buddhist?" Indignantly, as I come from a Tibetan family background, I had answered: "My parents are Buddhist, so were there parents and so on ... Therefore, I am a Buddhist." He had then remarked, "Oh it seems you have your birth in Buddhism while I have my mind and heart in Buddhism." This statement made me reflect about the real essence of what it meant to be a Buddhist.
My three years in KIBI may have been the result of good karma of past lives. I was not even interested in being there, but it was my family that wanted me to stay there with my uncle who was teaching in KIBI. 

Initially, and before my time in KIBI, the ritualistic aspects of Buddhism such as chanting, the drums and cymbals etc., seemed rather outdated and superstitious to me. Fortunately, KIBI shattered all my misconceptions about Buddhism in my 3 years there. This is particularly remarkable since I did not even attend classes, but gathered bits and pieces of the teachings in tea shops, cafeterias and through personal questions and answers with the resident teachers.

One can only imagine the possible benefits for students who properly followed the progressive courses. KIBI gave me the precious gift of a profound appreciation for the depth of Buddhist wisdom. I forevermore refer to my three years in KIBI as the 'golden years of my life'. And I will remain forever grateful to all the foreigners who showed me what it meant to be a real Buddhist.“

Phuntsok Rabten

Since 2012 KIBI is run by the Karmapa International Buddhist Society (KIBS). KIBS is a newly founded charitable society by H.H. the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa. It has been established to systematize the religious training centers, educational institutes and charity works under his supervision. President of the Society is currently Prof. Sempa Dorje. He is one of the teachers of H.H. the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa and a highly regarded retired Professor of the Buddhist University in Sarnath.

Location of the Institute

KIBI is situated in the peaceful Qutab Institutional Area in the south of India’s thriving capital. It is a wonderful surrounding for KIBI, which aims to combine the best of both ancient and the modern ways.
Its exact address is:   
                                        19/20 Qutab Institutional Area
                                        New Delhi – 110016

Karmapa International Buddhist Institute
KIBI is housed in a beautiful four-story building constructed in the style of traditional Tibetan architecture. The institute overlooks the greenery of a town jungle and faces the distant Qutab Minar with its Ashokan pillar.

Jogging and walking in the huge park, and the wild animals there.

Karmapa International Buddhist InstituteKarmapa International Buddhist Institute
Karmapa International Buddhist InstituteKarmapa International Buddhist Institute


Karmapa International Buddhist Institute
Gyalwa Karmapa after an event in the auditorium
The four-story main building houses a large shrine hall, an auditorium, lecture halls, a well-equipped Buddhist library, offices for the administration and a lounge. Breakfast and two meals a day are offered to teachers and students in the dining hall at the basement.

“The time at KIBI has been extremely precious for me on many different levels. And what I marvel at is the family feeling I still have with (almost) everyone I studied with at KIBI. For me, KIBI was much more than just Buddhist Studies. Living in the energy field there seemed to speed up everything from purifying old karma up to stiff ideas and wrong views. Especially in my first year, I often felt like being in the middle of an emotional or psychological tornado. All I could do was let go and relax - meditation in action? Once I got past that and the culture shock I got from India, I started to enjoy travelling around: Bodhgaya just a night away on the night train, and Dehradun just a trip on the night bus. What a great opportunity to travel to all the Buddhist places on a weekend or in the vacation.”

KIBI offers boarding for its students. Surrounding the main building in a semicircle are further offices as well as the housing tracts with rooms for teachers, guest lecturers, foreign students and visitors (attached or common bathroom). There is a high chance that your teachers and co-students will feel like family after living and studying so closely with them for a long period of time.

I loved the tea parties and specially the gift party and our capacity to fit more than 20 people in one room.

What types of programs are offered at KIBI? How is it like to go through the program? 

Here the link to the second post about the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute (KIBI)

More information about KIBS and KIBI can be found here:

KIBI on Facebook
KIBS on Facebook
KIBS Europe on Facebook

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