Khyentse Foundation Prize for Outstanding Buddhist Translation Awarded
Dr. Karl Brunnhölzl Wins Prize for First Translation of a Text on the Yogācāra School of Mahāyāna Buddhism
Dr. Karl Brunnhölzl received the 2019 Khyentse Foundation Prize for Outstanding Translation for his translation of A Compendium of the Mahāyāna: Asaṅga’s Mahāyānasaṃgraha and Its Indian and Tibetan Commentaries, 3 volumes, published by Snow Lion in 2018.
The first complete English translation of Asaṅga’s text, it presents a full overview and examination of the Yogācāra School of Mahāyāna Buddhism. It discusses in detail the nature and operation of the eight kinds of consciousness, the often-misunderstood notion of “mind only” (cittamātra), dependent origination, the cultivation of the path and its fruition in terms of the four wisdoms, and the three bodies (kāyas) of a buddha. (Read an excerpt of the text’s introduction.)
The prize highlights the major significance of the entire Yogacara tradition in general, as well as Asanga’s Mahasamgraha and its commentarial tradition in specific, as being a major Indian Buddhist system of thought and practice that has been vastly influential over many hundreds of years in numerous countries.
Paul Harrison, George Edwin Burnell Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University, one of the panelists who decided on the award, commented, “These translations, which are of excellent quality, would be enough to justify the award, but when one takes into account the stupendously detailed annotation and the various discussions of specific issues, one cannot but be impressed by the magnitude of this contribution to the study of Mahāyāna. Three volumes, over 1,700 pages, testifies to an erudition as prodigious as the stamina which must have been required to pull it all together. I have to say the introduction to the whole set of translations is in itself worth the price of admission and changed my view of Yogācāra entirely.”
This annual KF Translation Prize, with a token award of US$8,000 to recognize excellence in translation from the main classical languages of Buddhism—Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese—into English, is awarded for translation of a coherent work, be it from a sutra, commentary, treatise, biography, history, liturgy, or practice manual from any tradition of Buddhism.
Dr. Brunnhölzl said, “I feel very honored and privileged to receive this award. More importantly though, the prize highlights the major significance of the entire Yogācāra tradition in general, as well as Asanga’s Mahāyānasaṃgrahaand its commentarial tradition in specific, as being a major Indian Buddhist system of thought and practice that has been vastly influential over many hundreds of years in numerous countries. It is my wish that these volumes may be a small contribution toward Yogācāra receiving the attention and appreciation in the English-speaking world that it deserves.”
With the aim of encouraging and honoring excellence in translation works that make the Buddhist heritage accessible to a broader public, Khyentse Foundation founder and chairman Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, along with KF Adviser and renowned scholar Peter Skilling, initiated the Khyentse Foundation Prize for Outstanding Translation in 2010. Dr. Brunnhölzl’s translation is the seventh work to win this award. Previous winners of the prize are listed at khyentsefoundation.org/awards.
About Karl Brunnhölzl
Dr. Brunnhölzl is a teacher, interpreter, and translator in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Originally trained as a medical doctor, he studied Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophy at the Marpa Institute for Translators in Kathmandu, founded by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche. He also studied Tibetology, Sanskrit, and Buddhology at Hamburg University. Since 1989, he has been a translator and interpreter from Tibetan, English, and Sanskrit. He is presently involved with Nalandabodhi and the Nitartha Institute as a teacher and translator.