It appears in ancient India there was a style of debate that became associated with Buddhism and is still a part of at least Gulugpa Tibetan Buddhism.

What is it and how would I get started?

  • google.com/search?q=Gelugpa+debate including for example Overview of the Gelug Monastic Education System suggests that the "Gelug" style of debate happens as part of the education, perhaps of adolescents, in monasteries. I don't understand what information/answer/benefit you were hoping for, by posting that question here.
    – ChrisW
    Nov 10, 2014 at 22:52
  • JFGI answers aren't really helpful. You can down vote it if you don't like it. Nov 11, 2014 at 0:38
  • I'm not sure I understand the question, because I'm sure you could Google it and more, and you presumably already have. Having just Googled it briefly myself, I find a wealth of information. Did you want someone like me to summarize some in an answer? If I found such information, was that even concerning the style of debate which you were asking about?
    – ChrisW
    Nov 11, 2014 at 0:54
  • And what about "how would I get started": if it is the kind of debate that involves people shouting during their study-day, presumably you need to be somewhere in person where that's being conducted, which would be country-specific. Mike Olds' answer does seem like a summary of the style of dialog found in suttas, but maybe that's not what you're asking about since you mentioned "Gulugpa".
    – ChrisW
    Nov 11, 2014 at 0:55

1 Answer 1


In the suttas a debate usually takes the form:

I hold such and such to be the case.

the response:

I hold such and such a different case to be the case.

There is no confrontation. No dealing with the other persons argument. You accept or do not accept. You are held to be capable of understanding both arguments and hold the wrong one only because you have not heard the correct one before. Argument concerning cases is held to be 'thinking out loud' and is not done. Again, you are held to be capable of reasoning through all the arguments yourself. The original statement can be made up to three times with the same response being made up to three times. Then a deadlock is declared and the issue is submitted to an authority both can trust.

Here is one example: http://obo.genaud.net/dhamma-vinaya/pts/an/05_fives/an05.166.hare.pts.htm

A later form of debate, not found in the suttas, but found in the controversies that arose around the second Council, involved directly dealing with the substance of the opponant's argument.

You say such and such, but here it is understood that this is the case. Do you agree that here it is understood that this is the case? If so you must agree that your argument is defeated.

I agree that such and such is understood to be the case, but it does not apply in the case I bring up for such and such reasons.

More or less the way a reasonable dialogue would be conducted today, but at an essentially lower level than the earlier form.

There is never any reference to the individual involved, only the issues are discussed.

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