The Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS) was envisioned by Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru in consultation with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama with a view to educate the youths of Tibet and the Himalayan border region.
Established in 1967, CIHTS initially functioned as a special constituent wing of Sampurnananda Sanskrit University, Varanasi. The Govt. of India declared the Institute to be a "Deemed to be a University" on 5th April, 1988. Until 2000, the Institute was headed by Ven. Samdhong Rinpoche, the now Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government in Exile. The Institute is currently headed by Geshe Ngawang Samten and is ably assisted by learned faculty members in achieving its goal of excellence in the field of Tibetology, Buddhology and Himalayan Studies.
CIHTS is also a premier Research Institute, with a substantial staff of research scholars and many visitors from other academic Institutions in India and from around the world. It provides a platform for interaction between Buddhist and non-Buddhist Indian philosophical schools; between Buddhist and Western Philosophers; and between Buddhist scholars and scientists.
The National Assessment and Accredition Council accredited CIHTS with 5 Stars which is the highest grading of quality assurance after assessing the academic standard of the Institute by a peer team of experts. It is the only university institution in Varanasi, and one of the two in the entire of Northern India, to recieve the highest grading.
The CIHTS campus occupies 22 acres and houses Shantarakshita Library, hostels for students, classrooms, assembly halls, quarters for staff and so forth. It is beautifully landscaped and offers a very peaceful place for study and research.
The Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies is located in Sarnath, approximately 10km (6m) from the city of Varanasi (Banares) in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Sarnath is one of the four principal Buddhist pilgrimage sites, being the location of Buddha Shakyamuni's first teaching after gaining enlightenment. It contains important sacred and archeological sites and an excellent archaelogical museum as well as Buddhist temples representing many Buddhist traditions.
The objectives of the Institute have been carefully thought out by eminent scholars in the Indian Goverment under the guidance of His Holiness Dalai Lama. The objectives are:
- To preserve the Tibetan culture and tradition (via CIHTS Educational System)
- To restore ancient Indian sciences and literature preserved in the Tibetan Language, but lost in the original (via Research Department)
- To offer an alternative educational facility to students of Indian border areas who formerly availed the opportunity of recieving higher education in Tibet.
- To accomplish gains of teaching and scope of research in traditional subjects in a framework of the modern university system of education with the provision for award of degrees in Tibetan studies.
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