Peter Skilling, founder of the Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation, is Visiting Numata Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of California at Berkeley for the fall semester, 2005.
Professor Skilling is teaching a course titled ‘Perspectives on the Buddhism of Greater Jambudvipa’, focusing mainly on the literature and culture of premodern Thailand. He also gives a Pali reading class, using liturgical texts to introduce students to the texts that are part of the everyday life of Thai Buddhists. Khyentse Foundation supports the Fragile Palm Leaves project, which preserves and studies ancient Buddhist texts in several Southeast Asian languages, including Pali. The project has collected palm-leaf manuscripts to prevent them from being dispersed to private collections around the world. The manuscripts are being cataloged, and a scanning project has been initiated in conjunction with the Lumbini International Research Institute (Lumbini, Nepal).
Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation is nonsectarian and non-national. One of its aims is to broaden the horizons of Buddhist Studies in Southeast Asia by publishing books on other Buddhist traditions. The first volume with this aim will be a history and survey of the Tibetan Buddhist canons (the Kanjur and Tanjur), written in Thai. It is hoped that the volume will appear next year.