Khyentse Center for Tibetan Buddhist Textual Scholarship Celebrates Its First AnniversaryMar 8th, 2012
“Particular thanks go to Khyentse Rinpoche himself, without whose enlightened visions and support this powerful momentum would not be set in the first place.”
— Professor Dorji Wangchuk, University of Hamburg
The Khyentse Center for Tibetan Buddhist Textual Scholarship (KC-TBTS) at the University of Hamburg marked its one-year anniversary on January 6, 2012. Professor Dorji Wangchuk, who conceptualized KC-TBTS, looked back on the year with “gratitude, delight, and optimism.” He is “very hopeful that with consistent and persistent efforts, the Center will truly become and remain a stronghold of Tibetan Buddhist textual scholarship, where cutting-edge text-based research of the intellectual culture and history of Tibetan Buddhism can be pursued.”
With all of its projects, KC-TBTS aspires to preserve, elucidate, and make available precious Buddhist texts through modern methods. In 2011, the center focused much of its effort on developing and improving the digital treasury of the Indo-Tibetan Lexical Resource (ITLR). Prominent scholars from international universities now form the ITLR’s advisory and editorial board, and important collaboration with the International Institute for Digital Humanities in Tokyo and the SAT Text Database of the University of Tokyo (DHII/SAT) is contracted for at least four more years.
The goal to provide a reliable and comprehensive research tool and resource for anyone who is interested exploring the intellectual world of Buddhism (scholars as well as translators who are aiming for wide readership) is well on its way to realization. The ITLR will present text resources in four main Buddhist languages: Sanskrit, Pali or Middle Indic, Tibetan, and Chinese. Khotanese Buddhism, of which there are very few specialists worldwide, will also be included.
KC-TBTS and DHII/SAT held four fruitful conferences in 2011 to test and address conceptual, structural, editorial, and technical database issues. In terms of online content, a large portion of the ITLR’s success depends on research fellows inputting lexical elements into its database. In 2011, KC-TBTS hosted Dr. Giuliana Martini (Assistant Research Professor, Dharma Drum Buddhist College, Taipei), who input early Agama materials, and Dr. Peter Szanto (Oxford University), who uploaded Buddhist Tantric works. Both fellows also tested and experimented with the database, helping to resolve technical and schematic difficulties. This year’s the center will host two fellows. Dr. Kenichi Kuranishi (affiliated with Taisho University) will focus on Buddhist Tantric resources. Dr. Ann MacDonald, from the Austrian Academy of Sciences and member of the ITLR editorial board, will input Madhyamaka material. In addition, in accordance with the wishes of the late Gene Smith and with the agreement of KF, the University of Hamburg has free access to all scanned material in the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Library.
KC-TBTS also initiated the first stage of development of another online resource: the Bibliographic Repository Project. This project is envisioned as a “reservoir of bibliographies of mainly secondary sources relevant for Tibetan textual scholarship.” Bibliographies will include references to critical editions, translations, and studies of Tibetan texts and to biographical and philosophical studies concerning Tibetan authors.
In May, KC-TBTS launched its own bilingual (English-German) website to publicize and link the center’s various work and programs, including an ongoing lecture series on textual studies by international scholars and a planned publication series on Tibetan and Indo-Tibetan Textual Scholarship. The center will also host an important symposium, “Cross-Cultural Transmission of Buddhist Texts,” in July, 2012, focused on translation efforts. That same month, KC-TBTS and its Tokyo ITLR partners will participate and present in the Digital Humanities Conference in Hamburg.