Khyentse Center for Tibetan Buddhist Textual Scholarship Established at the University of Hamburg
In the summer of 2010, Professor Wangchuk of the University of Hamburg conceived and proposed the Khyentse Center for Tibetan Buddhist Textural Scholarship. After months of discussion and preparation, the Foundation approved the funding for the initial setup, and the Khyentse Center was formally established at the University of Hamburg in January 2011.
Professor Wangchuk, who is professor of Tibetology in the university’s Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies, was greatly inspired by Rinpoche’s vision in promoting the study of Buddhist textual traditions through the activities of Khyentse Foundation. According to Professor Wangchuk, “The Khyentse Center at the University of Hamburg fits well in the broader framework of Khyentse Foundation’s agendas and aspiration and is unique in its academic focus, form, and function, not only in Europe, but worldwide. It is a true tribute to Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s vision and activities.”
Professor Wangchuk also said that the Khyentse Center will be “a stronghold of rigorous investigation of Tibetan (primarily Buddhist) texts that has the aim of gaining an accurate understanding of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and Tibet’s rich intellectual history.” The main objectives of the center will be to strengthen Tibetan Buddhist textual scholarship, enhance academic exchange in the field, and promote cooperation between researchers and students from Europe, North America, and Asia.
Under the direction of Professor Wangchuk, the Khyentse Center will carry out the following activities:
- Launch and maintain the Indo-Tibetan Lexical Resource (ITLR). (See sidebar.)
- Train students to investigate Tibetan Buddhist texts by using historical and philological tools and techniques.
- Host and organize national and international workshops, lectures, and symposiums.
- Facilitate and coordinate short-term research visits and ITLR fellowships for established scholars and students.
- Develop and support research projects on Tibetan Buddhist textual studies.
- Support publications pertaining to Tibetan Buddhist textual studies.
- Promote and establish cooperation between the center and international institutions and scholars, particularly from the target regions in Tibet/China, India, Nepal, and Bhutan.
- Organize and facilitate invitational lectures.
Following the success of the establishment of the Khyentse Chair of Buddhist Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, Khyentse Foundation is conducting a Global University Survey to ascertain the state of Buddhist study programs in universities around the world and to identify areas where support will create the greatest benefit. An interim report on the survey is expected later this year. The Khyentse Center at the University of Hamburg is another milestone in our effort to promote academic excellence in Buddhist studies around the world.
A Digital Treasury
The Indo-Tibetan Lexical Resource
One of the immediate objectives of the Khyentse Center for Tibetan Buddhist Textual Scholarship is to launch and maintain the Indo-Tibetan Lexical Resource (ITLR), an online database of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist terminology that will include Sanskrit, Tibetan, and modern renderings, with references to both primary and secondary sources.
The database will be a digital treasury of reliable and comprehensive lexical resources for students and researchers in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies who are focusing on textual scholarship, including translation projects aimed at a wide readership. It will also provide the necessary infrastructure for collaborative research and cooperation among scholars and both traditional and modern academics. In particular, the ITLR will be of immense value to translators engaged in 84000, another major effort supported by Khyentse Foundation, in translating the words of the Buddha.
The International Institute for Digital Humanities (DHII) in Tokyo and the SAT Text Database of the University of Tokyo—devoted to the digitization of the Chinese Buddhist canon—are collaborating with the ITLR to provide technical expertise and support. The institutions are represented by Dr. Kiyonori Nagasaki, general manager of DHII, who also works for SAT; and Dr. Toru Tomabechi of DHII. It has been agreed that DHII/SAT will develop the database and interface design and will provide ongoing IT support, hosting, and maintenance.
Dr. Kiyonori Nagasaki and Dr. Toru Tomabechi are pictured above.