Spiritual programme

Introductory courses

Introductory courses

Root Institute offers a unique opportunity to learn about Buddhism through two different but complimentary environments. Students are able to listen, learn and discuss Buddhist philosophy with our resident geshe and visiting senior Western Teachers in the traditional class environment. Buddhism then steps off the page and into the day-to-day through pilgrimage to the holy sites of the Buddha and interaction in socially engaged projects.

Nowhere else in the world can you learn, reflect and meditate on the teachings of the Buddha in this way.

We offer three signature courses for those new to Buddhism as well as students who have a basic understanding of the teachings.

Essence of Buddhism with Geshe Ngawang Rabga – 3-days

These three day courses are taught once a month in Tibetan by our resident geshe, Geshe Ngawang Rabga and translated into English. (Hindi translations will be available in the future.)

It is an excellent opportunity for students to connect with the depth of wisdom and experience of a monastic trained Lharampa Geshe.

Geshe Rabga focuses on the essential Buddhist concepts such as:

  • The Four Noble Truths
  • 12 Links of Dependent Arising
  • Relative Truth and Ultimate Truth
  • Nature of the Mind

Taste of Buddhism – 5-days

These five day courses are taught in English throughout the season by visiting senior Western teachers. They present the ancient teachings of Tibetan Buddhism through a contemporary framework, encouraging each student to reflect and apply the teachings to their own personal lives and create lasting positive change.

Students will also have meditation and practice sessions at the Mahabodhi Stupa.

Subjects covered include:

  • Nature of the Mind
  • Two Truths (Relative and Ultimate)
  • Karma and Delusions
  • Death and Impermanence

Experience Buddhism at the root – 10-days

Our signature 10 day introductory course is renowned for its experiential component of pilgrimage and practice. Students will spend the first few days grounding their minds in the wisdom of the Buddha before adventuring out to the Buddha’s land of Bodhgaya.

Pilgrimages include the holy sites of:

  • Mahabodhi Stupa
  • Vulture’s Peak, Rajgir
  • Ancient Nalanda University
  • Mahakala Cave & Sujata or Gurupada

Subjects are similar to our Taste of Buddhism course, but more in-depth:

  • Meditation
  • Anger
  • Nature of Mind
  • Karma
  • Two Truths (Relative and Ultimate)
  • Tools for a Compassion life
  • Death and Impermanence

It is mandatory for students to attend every session, no matter which program they attend. Students who repeatedly miss sessions will be asked to leave without a refund.

Consequently it is strongly recommended that students live on site and take advantage of our extensive library, peaceful surroundings and wholesome dining experience!

While schedules may change with teacher preference.

Being in retreat

Gifting yourself the opportunity to do retreat will take you away from your conventional life so it’s important to prepare yourself mentally for what this entails. Taking part in retreat requires discipline, flexibility and energy. You will be required to relinquish technology, including your phone and participate fully in periods of silence.

Your retreat will be made up of students from India and abroad. You will also be asked to consider your fellow students and attend every session with them.

This retreat environment can be quite unfamiliar. Some people may not experience much discomfort while others may find their minds react. It’s good to be aware of the following:

  • Silence can be confronting
    Silence reduces our distractions, leaving us with more time and space to experience what arises in our mind. Any discomfort or confusion can be lessened if you arrive with an open, caring mind towards yourself.

  • It can take a few days for your mind to settle into the schedule
    If the retreat schedule is different to your normal day-to-day then your mind may experience some initial ups and downs. It’s good to remember that your fellow retreat students are likely to experience the same, so you will not be the only one having challenges. Retreat leaders are an excellent support for you.

  • We’re all in this together
    Being part of a retreat is not just about your individual experience. The retreat is founded on the collective and students who do not participate fully will have a direct impact on the retreat experience of others. As His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama says, we are interdependent, relying on each other to attain ultimate happiness.

  • Consider that there is more than one way
    Some of the teachings, discussions and practices you do may not conform to your expectations or beliefs. That’s okay. Buddhism does not ask you to accept everything. Keep an open mind if you find yourself reacting to something. Take things slowly, reflect and don’t allow your inner reaction to influence the experience of those around you.

With this mindfulness you can transform any potential negative experience into a positive one.

If you wish to register, it is important to read about registration, the requirements of course/retreat discipline, and guidelines of behaviour in a Dharma environment, which are linked at the bottom of the booking form.

Introductory courses in the 2016–17 season

Guidelines of behaviour in a Dharma environment

Root Institute is a meditation centre with resident nuns and monks and not a guesthouse, so couples, and men and women, must have separate accommodation.

If participating in courses or retreats, friends and family of the same gender will also be asked to stay in separate rooms to help support silence and their focus on the course / retreat.

We ask all our guests and visitors to observe the following rules of discipline in order to maintain an atmosphere conducive to inner reflection and meditation:

  • Respect all life: do not intentionally kill any living being, even small insects.

  • Respect others' property: do not steal or take anything not freely given.

  • Be honest and straightforward: do not lie or intentionally deceive others.

  • Be celibate: no sexual activity; this also includes no holding hands, hugging, massages and other physical displays of affection.

  • Be alert and mindful*: avoid intoxicants such as alcohol, drugs and cigarettes; we encourage you to stop smoking while here, but if this is impossible, one can smoke outside the gates.

  • Be considerate of others' silence: keep silence in the appropriate areas and at all times during residential courses, especially in the Gompa and the dormitories; no singing or playing music and, in general, maintain a quiet demeanour while on the property.

  • Be considerate of the monks and nuns: dress respectfully; please no shorts above the knee, tank-top shirts or tight and revealing clothing.


Please note that those in service or teaching in FPMT centers and projects do not engage in the practice of Shugden.

* Also, please be aware:
In April 2016 the Bihar state government passed laws totally prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state, with very severe penalties, up to capital punishment for those involved in manufacture! Please ensure you do not carry any alcohol with you in Bihar.

General information about the spiritual programme

Our spiritual programme now runs from beginning of September through to end of April.

On the appropriate dates in the Tibetan calendar year-round, however, we observe the standard pujas of the Gelug tradition and these are drop-in sessions which anyone can attend. If you are in Bodhgaya and would like to come along, please feel welcome to join us for:

  • Tara puja
  • Medicine Buddha puja
  • Lama Ch'opa ts'og offering
  • Protector puja

Unless otherwise indicated, registration is required for all spiritual programme events except drop-in sessions, Festival of Lights & Merit, and Mahabodhi Stupa events.

If you are interested in doing intensive individual practice at Root Institute, please go to Blessings > Personal retreat.