Grants and Scholarships

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Nils MartinEast Asian Civilizations Research Centre (CRCAO)

Martin’s dissertation, “The Wanla Group of Monuments: 14th-Century Tibetan Buddhist Murals in Ladakh,” prepared at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE) in Paris and defended in March 2022, is a masterful contribution to the history of art and of Buddhism in the Western Himalayas. It further provides a model of interdisciplinary research on painted monuments, combining an excellent command of iconography and stylistic conventions with archaeometric analysis, epigraphy, and a firsthand assessment of literary sources in classical Tibetan. As such, it represents an outstanding contribution to Buddhist studies. “I am extremely honored and grateful to receive this award from the distinguished Khyentse Foundation. I would like to express my special thanks to the members of the jury for carefully examining my application and eventually selecting my dissertation, even more so since it lies outside the historic field of textual studies. “This award comes as a significant recognition of research developed over a decade under the patient, insightful guidance of my supervisor Charles Ramble and my co-advisor Christian Luczanits, and along with the continuous support of my colleagues, friends, and family. It will contribute to publishing it in a form that can be more easily accessed by everyone, including the caretakers of the monuments it considers. At a threshold in my life, it also gives me confidence to pursue my career in academia.” — Nils Martin Read more.

Eric Pema Kunsang

A prolific translator, Erik has put together numerous dharma books. Notable examples include The Light of Wisdom, volumes 1 to 5, by Padmasambhava and Jamgön Kongtrül; Blazing Splendor: The Memoirs of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche; and Mirror of Mindfulness, a commentary on the bardo states by Tsele Natsok Rangdröl. We are grateful for his invaluable translation of these precious dharma texts and for his other contributions to the field, such as his editorial work for 84000 and lately, mentoring the translators for Khyentse Vision Project.

Su-an LinChengchi University of Taiwan

Su-an Lin of Chengchi University of Taiwan received 2020 KF Award for Outstanding PhD Dissertation in Buddhist Studies. Su-an’s dissertation, Dependent-Arising, Two Truths and Logic in Bhāviveka’s Philosophy: Focusing on Chapter One of Prajñāpradīpa and Jewels in the Hand, uses the materials of the Chinese and Tibetan versions to explore Bhāviveka’s metaphysics (the theory of dependent arising and the theory of two truths). It also analyzes the method, which can be traced back to Dignāga’s logic system—of “adding the qualification from the ultimate point of view in the inference.”

Mingyuan GaoDharma Center of Hong Kong

Mingyuan Gao of the Buddha Dharma Center of Hong Kong received 2020 KF Award for Outstanding PhD Dissertation in Buddhist Studies. Mingyuan‘s PhD dissertation, The Buddhist Concept of Vāsanā: From Abhidharma to Early Yogācāra, meticulously presents an in-depth and critical exposition of the development of various connotations of the term vāsanā. “Since there has not been any monograph that studies comprehensively the issue of vāsanā, and only a very few studies have so far paid attention to this concept, Mingyuan’s dissertation is undoubtedly a significant contribution,“ said Venerable Professor Dhammajoti in his nomination letter. “The dissertation is well documented, based on solid primary Sanskrit, Tibetan, Classical Chinese, and Pāli sources. Some important passages in the dissertation are translated for the first time into English, with considerable annotation. It also critically examines a large number of secondary sources by modern scholars in English, Japanese, French, and Chinese.”

Richard SalomonUniversity of Washington

Richard Salomon is Emeritus Professor of Asian Languages and Literature (Sanskrit) and William P. and Ruth Gerberding University Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington (Seattle WA, USA). He has taught at the University of Washington since 1978, and continues to teach there on a post-retirement part-time basis. He is the former president of the International Association of Buddhist Studies and of the American Oriental Society. Since 1996 he has been the director of the University of Washington’s Early Buddhist Manuscripts Project, leading the ongoing international project of editing, translating, and publishing the earliest surviving Buddhist manuscripts. Professor Salomon’s specialties include Sanskrit language and literature, Indian Buddhist literature and textual studies, Indian epigraphy and paleography, early Indian history, Gāndhārī language and Gandhāran studies, and the world history of writing. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Cécile DucherÉcole Pratique des Hautes Études - PSL

Ducher’s dissertation is a veritable tour de force of a record of a little-known and now defunct Tibetan lineage, the rediscovery of which sheds more light on the bKa’ brgyud (Kagyu) tradition as a whole and reveals the lineage’s numerous vestiges and influences within the larger Tibetan religious sphere. The dissertation has a clear conceptual framework and offers an interesting assessment of a relatively under-researched area. The work makes a valuable and original contribution to the field, is critical, detailed and meticulous, and includes careful reflection on terminology. It also presents a richly diverse methodology, drawing from the fields of history, sociology, and historical anthropology, and situating itself within wider theoretical frameworks. Ducher’s grasp of her materials is impressive, and although the scope of the project is vast, ranging from the origins of the bKa’ brgyud tradition in India in the tenth century up to the present situation in Tibet’s gZhung Valley, she manages to document the genesis, development, flourishing, and dissolution of the Mar rNgog lineage, as well as its influences on other traditions and later attempts to preserve and revive its practices. Her discussions on hagiography as a valid source of information about religious and social forces and on the concept of lineage are enlightening, and the excursion into Bourdieu’s theories about “capital” is stimulating. “It is a great honor for me to have been awarded this year’s Award for Outstanding PhD Dissertation in Buddhist Studies by Khyentse Foundation. I feel much gratitude and joy that my work on the history of the Mar rNgog bKa’ brgyud lineage is recognized by such a distinguished foundation and can in this way contribute to shedding some light on this central yet relatively forgotten tradition that constitute the core of the bKa’ brgyud tantric wealth,”

Dr. Karl BrunnhölzlNalandabodhi and the Nitartha Institute

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. 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.”

Professor Gao Mingdao

Gao, whose birth name is Friedrich Grohmann, is a German who has lived in Taiwan for more than 40 years. He is an expert in Chinese Buddhist scripture who teaches primarily, and publishes exclusively, in Chinese. Gao’s work is primarily related to Buddhist scripture, including recent translations from Pali to Chinese. At the same time, he teaches on Buddhist texts and classic Buddhist languages in various institutions in Taiwan. He is well known as Gao Laoshi (Lao Shi means teacher) to his students and colleagues in Taiwan."Gao, whose birth name is Friedrich Grohmann, is a German who has lived in Taiwan for more than 40 years. He is an expert in Chinese Buddhist scripture who teaches primarily, and publishes exclusively, in Chinese. Gao’s work is primarily related to Buddhist scripture, including recent translations from Pali to Chinese. At the same time, he teaches on Buddhist texts and classic Buddhist languages in various institutions in Taiwan. He is well known as Gao Laoshi (Lao Shi means teacher) to his students and colleagues in Taiwan.   Let me briefly explain what I mean by this and why these thoughts are so dear to my heart. When I began to learn Chinese half a century ago, it was the classical language I tried to study. Some time later I had the good fortune to be tutored by two Buddhist monks. One was ordained in the Pali tradition, the other in the Tibetan, and both helped me to read Chinese Buddhist texts. But neither of them was Chinese. The bhikkhu was German, the gelong was Hungarian, and all of this started at a small Mongolian temple. That was my first taste of Rimé, Buddhist nonsectarianism, and it has stayed with me all my life.   The second point I wanted to make in the dedication is that I strongly feel that what we generally call “Buddhism” refers to a culture which has its outer and inner aspects. The outer being stupas and steles, images and ideas, scriptures, schools, and so on, while the inner refers to the culture of the heart, of the mind. None of these aspects, it seems to me, should be missing when we try to study dharma, also–or maybe especially–in an academic context.

Wenli FanChinese University of Hong Kong

Wenli Fan of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, was unanimously selected by the KF Dissertation Award Committee for her dissertation, Action and Its Results: A Study Based on Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla. Wenli’s dissertation presents the views of the orthodox Indian schools that endorse the existence of causal activity and examines how Śāntarakṣita establishes the idea of non-activity by discussing his objection to causal activity. In addition, she briefly investigates the history of the concept of non-activity in Buddhist philosophy, showing that Śāntarakṣita contributed to this view by explicitly spelling it out and providing a detailed argument for it.  

Andy RotmanSmith College

​​For the last 25 years, Andy Rotman has engaged in textual and ethnographic work on the role of narratives, images, and markets in South Asia and the religious, social, and political functions that they serve. This focus is apparent in his research on early Indian Buddhism, South Asian media, and the modern economies of the North Indian bazaar. He currently serves as professor of Religion, Buddhist Studies, and South Asia Studies at Smith College. “This award is incredibly gratifying. I worked for decades, literally, on this material, and I’m thrilled to receive this kind of recognition,” said Rotman, who is currently traveling in India for research on his next work. 

Christopher V. JonesSt Peter’s College Oxford

Christopher V. Jones of St Peter’s College, Oxford University, has been selected by the KF Dissertation Award Committee for his dissertation, The use of, and controversy surrounding, the term atman in the Indian Buddhist tathagatagarbha literature. His thesis deals with the complex and controversial use of the term atman (“self”) in Indian Buddhist tathagatagarbha literature. The work is based on a close analysis of all the main available Indian sources relevant to this topic (either in Sanskrit or in Tibetan or Chinese translation), but is not confined to the philological analysis of these texts. His thesis deals with the complex and controversial use of the term atman (“self”) in Indian Buddhist tathagatagarbha literature. The work is based on a close analysis of all the main available Indian sources relevant to this topic (either in Sanskrit or in Tibetan or Chinese translation), but is not confined to the philological analysis of these texts.

Mao YufanThe Chinese University of Hong Kong

According to Professor Saerji, a member of the selection committee, “It has clear explanations, deep analysis, and annotated translation, and is certain to contribute to our understanding of late Indian Buddhist Philosophy.” The thesis focuses on two texts: The Establishment of External Objects (Bāhyārthasiddhikārikā), written by Śubhagupta; and the chapter “The Examination of the External Objects (Bahirarthaparīkṣā)” in the Commentary on the Summary of Truth (Tattvasangrahapañjikā), written by Shāntarakshita and his disciple Kamalaśīla.

Wulstan Fletcher and John CantiPadmakara Translation Group

Canti and Fletcher are two of the original founders of Padmakara Translation Group, based in the Dordogne, France. Padmakara has earned a distinguished reputation for its clear and accurate literary style in its translations of seminal Tibetan Buddhist texts into English, French, German, and Spanish. As a medical doctor and a former Benedictine monk, respectively, Canti and Fletcher have travelled a colorful path to becoming highly respected translators. Padmakara's list includes Nagarjuna's Letter to a Friend, Treasury of Precious Qualities, The Excellent Path to Enlightenment, The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones, Lady of the Lotus-Born, and the two books read by nearly every Tibetan Buddhist, The Way of the Bodhisattva and The Words of My Perfect Teacher. "What makes their translations so special is that Wulstan and John are practitioners first, translators second," said Cangioli Che, Khyentse Foundation's executive director.

Dr. Anne MacDonaldInstitute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, Austria

Dr. MacDonald is a researcher at the Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, Austria. Her primary focus is the development of Madhyamaka thought in India and Tibet. Her research on Chandrakirti’s Prasannapada and Madhyamakavatarabhaṣya is based on newly available manuscripts of these works. “Although the title suggests clarity, the text is actually quite challenging,” said Dr. MacDonald in an article published in Der Standard, a Viennese newspaper. The Prasannapada, written in Sanskrit by the 7th century scholar Chandrakirti, is a commentary on Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika. “I would like to sincerely thank Khyentse Foundation for having selected my book for their Prize for Outstanding Translation…I am sure that Chandrakirti 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 Manjushri, the bodhisattva associated with prajna, insight, who is repeatedly mentioned and praised by Chandrakirti in his works.

Dr. David HigginsUniversity of Lausanne

Dr. David Higgins received Khyentse Foundation Award for Outstanding PHD Dissertations in Buddhist Studies, 2014-15, for his thesis, The Philosophical Foundations of Classical Dzogchen in Tibet: Investigating the Distinction Between Dualistic Mind and Primordial Knowing. Dr. Higgins holds a doctorate from the University of Lausanne (2012), where he completed his thesis on the philosophical foundations of the Tibetan Great Perfection tradition under the supervision of Prof. Tom Tillemans. The thesis was published in 2013 in the Wiener Studien zur Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde series at the University of Vienna. “Dr. Higgins’ work is a truly masterful analysis and overview of the Tibetan Nyingma tradition’s reception, understanding, and, to some extent, reinterpretation of a topic of crucial philosophical and soteriological importance,” said Dr. Appleton.

Dr. Jens Wilhelm BorglandDepartment of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo

Dr. Jens Wilhelm Borgland received Khyentse Foundation Award for Outstanding PHD Dissertations in Buddhist Studies, 2014-15, for his thesis, A Study of the Adhikaranavastu: Legal Settlement Procedures of the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya. Dr. Borgland earned his PhD from the Department of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo. He has been teaching Sanskrit at the University of Oslo and is a guest researcher at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies. He also holds a master of philosophy degree in Asian and African studies with specialization in Sanskrit and a bachelor of arts degree in cultural and social sciences with a major in religious studies, both from the Department of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo.

Venerable Dhammajoti

Venerable Dhammajoti is an international figure, known for his publications, teaching, and lectures and seminars in English and in Chinese. In addition to his long activity in Sri Lanka, he has lectured in India, Japan, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Canada, and Europe. In 2013 he delivered the keynote address, “Samghabhadra’s Contribution to our Understanding of Abhidharma,” at the International Conference on Abhidharma at the University of Ghent in Belgium. Born in Malaysia in 1949, Venerable Dhammajoti is sometimes known as “Kuala Lumpur Dhammajoti” or “KL Dhammajoti.” He became a monk in the Theravadin tradition and studied at Kelaniya University in Sri Lanka, where he earned his MA in 1970 for a study of Skandhila's Abhidharmaavatara and his PhD in 1990 for a thesis on the Chinese versions of the Dhammapada. His research has been especially devoted to the study of the Sarvastivada Abhidharma, and his book on this topic is now in its third edition. Venerable Dhammajoti has also studied the Pali-Theravadin tradition, and he encourages the comparative study of the Pali and other traditions. He maintains his links with Sri Lanka, and since moving to Hong Kong has invited noted Sri Lankan academics to join hands in the training of a new generation of scholars of Buddhism.

Mark BlumUniversity of California, Berkeley

Professor Mark Blum has been awarded the 2015 Khyentse Foundation Prize for Outstanding Translation. Professor Blum holds the Shinjo Ito Distinguished Chair in Japanese Studies, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, at the University of California, Berkeley. He translated Volume I of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra from Dharmaksema’s 5th-century Chinese version. This is the first translation into English of this important sutra, an exposition of Buddha nature (tathagatagarbha). Professor Peter Skilling noted the tremendous significance of this sutra, saying, “The Nirvana sutra is encyclopedic, drawing on traditional sutras, narratives of the life of the Buddha, jatakas, and avadanas, to weave complex metaphysical dialogs on key questions that Indian Buddhists faced as they moved inexorably towards new frontiers of thought. The Buddha, great monks like Sariputra, bodhisattvas like Manjushri, and the bodhisattva Kasyapa engage in spirited discussions using similes and debate to explore the dynamics of liberation.”

Dr. Chao Tung-MingNational Taiwan University

Dr. Chao’s dissertation is on the Chinese Yogācāra School of Buddhism, entitled “A Study of Fundamental Transformation in the Cheng Weishi Lun and Kuiji’s Commentaries.” It focuses primarily on “the basis to be transformed,” which is basis, and “the path that operates transformation,” which is non-discriminating wisdom. He delves into Dharmapala’s view of the four aspects theory of cognition. It is a rigorous and in-depth analysis that appeals greatly to Buddhist academics. Professor Liu Kuo-Wei, one of the selection committee members, said that “Mr. Chao’s dissertation provides in-depth philosophical analysis on the thoughts of the Chinese Yogācāra.” Professor Saerji, another selection committee member, remarked that Dr. Chao’s dissertation is “a good study, with deep textual analysis and convincing arguments, that increases our understanding of Sino-Indian Buddhism.”

Professor Mark Siderits and Professor Shōryū Katsura

Professor Mark Siderits and Professor Shōryū Katsura were awarded the 2014 Prize for Outstanding Translation at the International Association for Buddhist Studies 17th Congress at the University of Vienna in July. Professor Peter Skilling, KF Fellow and founder and president of the Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation, presented the award to Katsura and Siderits for their new translation of Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. Professor Skilling said, “Professor Katsura was a board member of the IABS for many years, so this is a particular honor and pleasure for us at the IABS to give this prize here.” Professor Siderits gave a short speech thanking KF and Wisdom Publications. He also thanked Professor Katsura for making the project so much fun. KF Academic Development Committee member Greg Forgues and others from the KF team were present for the ceremony.

Venerable Bikkhu BodhiChuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, New York

Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi was awarded the 2013 Khyentse Foundation Prize for Outstanding Translation for publication of The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Aṅguttara Nikāya (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2012). Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi is chief abbot of Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, New York. The Aṅguttara Nikāya (roughly, “Collection of Discourses Arranged by Numbers, in Ascending Order”) is the second longest of the four basic suttas or discourse collections of the Pāli canon, and the repository of many important and influential teachings not found elsewhere. With this award, Khyentse Foundation wishes to recognize not just the prodigious achievement that the publication of The Numerical Discourses represents in itself, but also Bhikkhu Bodhi’s lifetime of dedication to the task of rendering the Buddha’s words accessible to a wider English-speaking audience. Among other things, this dedication has resulted in his translation of the even more voluminous Saṃyutta Nikāya (2000) and his joint rendition (with Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli) of the Majjhima Nikāya (1995). No other living scholar has made a contribution of such magnitude to the translation of Buddhist scriptures into a modern language. Bhikkhu Bodhi is truly a worthy recipient of the Khyentse Foundation Prize for Outstanding Translation.

Professor Peter SkillingFrench School of Asian Studies, Bangkok

Professor Skilling is a Buddhist scholar, historian, researcher, translator, poet, and lecturer on a wide range of subjects, from history and philosophy to Buddhist art, archaeology, epigraphy, and related areas. At present he is a researcher with the French School of Asian Studies, based in Bangkok. His fields of research include the early history of Mahayana Buddhism, the history of Pali in Southeast Asia, the history of the Buddhist orders of nuns, and the archaeology and literature of South and Southeast Asia. His research is conducted in numerous languages, including English, French, Tibetan, Pali, Sanskrit, and Thai. He is president of the Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation, a nonsectarian organization that supports the preservation and study of the Buddhist literature of Southeast Asia. The Foundation preserves a large collection of palm-leaf manuscripts in Pali and Southeast Asian languages. Professor Skilling has served as an adviser to Khyentse Foundation since 2007 and has provided wise guidance in the Foundation’s growth, especially in the development of ideas relating to academia, scholarship, and translation projects. He has initiated many successful KF projects, including the KF Award for Excellence in Buddhist Studies, the KF Outstanding Translation Award, and the KF Best Dissertation Award, now in the formative stage. Some of Prof. Skilling’s publications include Mahasutras: the Great Discourses of the Buddha, Wat Si Chum, and How Theravada is Theravada?

Todd Lewis and Subarna Man TuladarCollege of the Holy Cross, Nepal Bhasa Institute

Professor Todd Lewis of College of the Holy Cross (Worchester, Massachusetts) and Subarna Man Tuladar of Nepal Bhasa Institute received the first Khyentse Foundation Prize for Outstanding Translation for his translation from Newari into English of Sugata Saurabha: An Epic Poem from Nepal on the Life of the Buddha by the Nepali poet Chittadhar Hridaya (Oxford University Press, 2010). Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and Professor Peter Skilling presented the award in Bodhgaya, India. The Sugata Saurabha tells the life of the Buddha in nineteen cantos of Newari verse. Chittadhar Hridaya (1906-1982), a prominent literary figure, composed much of the work while serving a five-year prison sentence for publishing a poem in his native language, and completed it after his release from prison. It was originally published in Kolkata in 1949. In addition to the clear and elegant translation of the poem itself, the book offers background information about the literary, cultural, and religious context of the text. The translated poem is not simply a window into another culture; it is an aesthetic experience that moves the reader to an enhanced understanding of the life of the Buddha. The spirit of the translation lives up to the request of the poet, who shortly before his death in 1982 expressed his desire that the poem should “read well in English, so that the reader can understand the beauty [of] the original.”