Professors Luis Gómez and Paul Harrison

University of Michigan and Stanford University

"Vimalakīrtinirdeśa: The Teaching of Vimalakīrti, An English Translation of the Sanskrit Text Found in the Potala Palace, Lhasa "

Professor Luis Gómez (1943–2017)

A distinguished scholar of Buddhism, Luis Gómez passed away in Mexico City on September 3, 2017. At the time of his death, he was professor emeritus of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan. He had retired from the faculty on January 1, 2009.

Luis’s scholarship on Buddhism covered a remarkable range of important topics over his career, including Indian, Tibetan, Chinese, and pan-Asian Buddhism, with a particular emphasis on the literature and religious vision of the Mahayana. He wrote a number of groundbreaking articles devoted to the “sudden vs. gradual” dichotomy both in early Chinese Chan and at the Samye Debate in Tibet. Among his books, The Land of Bliss: The Paradise of the Buddha of Measureless Light (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996) is considered the definitive study of the highly influential Buddhist scripture, the Sukhavativyuha Sutra. He also published extensively in Spanish.

Professor Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is George Edwin Burnell Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University, where he has taught since 2006. Educated in his native New Zealand and in Australia, he specializes in Buddhist literature and history, particularly of the Mahayana, and in the study of Buddhist manuscripts in Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan. He has edited and translated several Mahayana sutras, and has published numerous journal articles on Buddhist sacred texts and their interpretation. He is also one of the editors of the series “Buddhist Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection.”

Paul’s current projects include editions, translations, and studies of Mahayana and Mainstream Buddhist sutras and shastras, including the Vajracchedika (Diamond Sutra), Lokanuvartana (Sutra of Conformity with the World), and Shikshasamucchaya (Compendium of Training).

Paul serves as co-director of the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford.

“When word of the discovery of a Sanskrit manuscript of the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa began to circulate in the early 2000s, it sent shock waves throughout the Buddhist Studies world. Long known only in its Chinese and Tibetan translations, leaving scholars to guess what its original Indian terminology might have been, this highly influential text could now be consulted in an original Indic-language version.

“The news that Paul Harrison and the late Luis Gómez had embarked on a project to translate the newly discovered Sanskrit text was thus greeted with widespread enthusiasm. These two scholars, both leading figures in the field of Mahayana sutra literature, were uniquely qualified to produce a translation of this important text. The two worked on the translation over a period of several years, discussing and debating the rendition of every term. After Luis’s passing, Paul brought the project to completion, and the fruits of their joint labors are now available in print.” — Dr. Jan Nattier, an eminent scholar of Buddhist studies, served as this year’s nominating member on the KF Prize for Outstanding Translation committee.