His Holiness to Address Tengyur Translation Conference in Sarnath

[Monday, 10 January 2011, 3:10 p.m.]

DHARAMSHALA: His Holiness the Dalai Lama will address Tuesday (11 January) the ongoing conference on the translation of one of the Tibet’s most precious treasure of the Buddha’s teachings known as ‘Tengyur’ at the Central University of Tibetan Studies (CUTS) in Sarnath.

The four-day ‘Tengyur Translation Conference: In the Tradition of the 17 Pandits of Nalanda’, which began on 8 January, is being jointly organised by CUTS and the American Institute of Buddhist Studies at Columbia University.

The conference is aimed at focusing on issues pertaining in particular to the translation of the Tibetan Tengyur not only into English, but also Sanskrit, Hindi, Chinese and other languages, according to the organisers. The conference is part of the long-term project initiated by the American Institute of Buddhist Studies at Columbia University and Tibet House US of translating the Tengyur into English and other modern languages, and to publish the many works in a collection called ‘The Treasury of the Buddhist Sciences’. The project received the support of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for its historic initiative to support, create, and publish authoritative English translations, studies, and editions of the entite Tibetan Tengyur and its associated literature.

The works of the foremost Indian scholars of Nalanda tradition are presently preserved in the collection of their writings known as Tengyur in Tibetan translation. It took teams of Indian masters and great Tibetan translators over four centuries to accomplish the historic task of translating them into Tibetan. Most of these books were later lost in their Sanskrit originals, and relatively few were translated into Chinese. The Tengyur is truly one of the Tibet’s most precious treasures, a mine of understanding that Tibetans have preserved in Tibet for the benefit of the whole world.

The Buddhist culture that flourished in Tibet can rightly be seen to derive from the pure tradition of Nalanda, which comprises the most complete presentation of the Buddhist teachings. Foremost Indian scholars of Nalanda Monastic University such as Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Aryaasanga, Dharmakirti, Candrakirti and Shantideva wrote the scriptures that we Tibetan Buddhists study and practise.

“When translated into Tibetan, these works in turn inspired Tibet’s own enlightenment renaissance. Accordingly, the Buddhist teachings in these Tengyur texts are deemed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many other great Tibetan masters to be of the highest value,” the organisers said in a statement.

Expressing his support to the American Institute of Buddhist Studies’ Tengyur translation project in 2007, His Holiness the Dalai Lama had said: “At the present time, when there is a great emphasis on scientific and technological progress, it is extremely important that those of us who follow the Buddha should rely on a sound understanding of his teaching, for which the great works of the renowned Nalanda scholars provide an indispensable basis.”

“… It surely will require the intelligent and creative efforts of generations of translators from every tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, in the spirit of the scholars of Nālandā, although we may hope that using computers may help complete the work more quickly,” His Holiness said.

“As it grows, The Treasury of the Buddhist Sciences series will serve as an invaluable reference library of the Buddhist Sciences and Arts. This collection of literature has been of immeasurable benefit to us Tibetans over the centuries, so we are very happy to share it with all the people of the world. As someone who has been personally inspired by the works it contains, I firmly believe that the methods for cultivating wisdom and compassion originally developed in India and described in these books preserved in Tibetan translation will be of great benefit to many scholars, philosophers, and scientists, as well as ordinary people,” he added.

Participants from different countries like the US, Canada, Germany, France, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Russia, Taiwan, Japan and Nepal are taking part in the conference.

Kalon Tripa Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, who left Dharamsala for Varanasi yesterday, will also attend the conference.