October 2017

“I would like to sincerely thank the Khyentse Foundation for having selected my book for their Prize for Outstanding Translation, and Dr. Anja Hartman for taking time out of her extremely busy schedule to travel to Vienna today to make the official presentation. I also thank Prof. Alram for having taken time out of his  busy schedule to attend today, to Prof. Kellner for having facilitated this event, and to Cynthia Peck-Kubazcek for her tremendous care and efforts in arranging the many aspects of this presentation. Although there are many other books produced by my esteemed colleagues here in Vienna more worthy of the prize than mine, I am nevertheless deeply honoured to be the recipient of this prestigious award. I am sure that Candrakīrti, the author of the text I translated, who lived in the seventh century CE, would be thrilled were he alive today to see his work acknowledged by such a remarkable Foundation, and by extension, by its exceptional founder and head, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, held by the Tibetan tradition to be an emanation of Mañjuśrī, the bodhisattva  associated with prajñā, insight, who is repeatedly mentioned and praised by Candrakīrti in his works.

“I have long admired the wide-ranging activities and impressive achievements of the Khyentse Foundation, especially its dedication to excellence in scholarship, indeed critical scholarship, in Buddhist Studies, and its support of scholars both in the modern university system and in traditional monastic and lay settings. I have seen first hand the fruits of its generosity at the University of Vienna’s Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, where, for example, it facilitated the introduction of full-semester courses that were focused on translation theory and methods, as well as a pioneering intensive summer school on translation that in 2014 I had the privilege of teaching. The “Translating and Transferring Buddhist Literature Workshop ,” a very stimulating international conference, at which I and colleagues from Vienna and around the world presented papers, was also financed by the Foundation within the context of the Department’s Buddhist Translation Studies (BTS) project. It further enabled semester-long stays of traditional khenpos who taught courses in the Department and additionally provided invaluable guidance to advanced students, and it has been financing, via a Khyentse Foundation Doctoral Scholarship, one of the Department’s most promising doctoral students.

“I also have a connection with the University of Hamburg’s “Khyentse Centre for Tibetan Buddhist Textual Scholarship” in my function as a contributor and an editor for the Indo-Tibetan Lexical Resource, the ITLR, a unique online database that collects and contextualizes lexical items, a treasure house that will be of tremendous value for future generations of scholars. And finally, as one of the members of the committee which chooses the Khyentse Foundation’s “Outstanding PhD Dissertation in Buddhist Studies in Europe,” which is awarded every second year, I do a little work for the Foundation.

“What surprised me most when I was informed about the prize was that it was awarded to a book that deals with extremely challenging philosophical material, and to a translation “decorated” with long and very detailed footnotes, many of a philological nature, replete with Sanskrit, Tibetan and Pāli citations from numerous other Indian philosophical and scriptural works, and with extended discussions about readings in the group of manuscripts I used to produce the edition on which the translation is based. In an age where scholars are usually asked by publishers to remove most footnotes in order to make their books more “reader friendly,” the Austrian Academy of Sciences Press allowed me to leave my annotation exactly as it was – for which I am extremely grateful since it was written with the aim of explaining and contextualizing the translation, and without which the translation would be much more difficult for the non-Madhyamaka specialist to understand. It was therefore most heartening to hear that a book that not infrequently manages to get just two to three lines of translation on a page due to the extensive annotation would be even considered for such an award, and it seems to demonstrate the Foundation’s real commitment to encouraging and even championing critical scholarship and the philological effort.”