Translating the Tibetan Canon into Chinese 藏傳佛典漢譯計畫
“We should have done this forty or fifty years ago.”
After 2,500 years, the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni are still a living tradition in both Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism because Buddhist scriptures were translated into the languages of the Chinese and Tibetan people long ago. Both civilizations had the good fortune to have Buddhist translators and scholars who went through major hardships to bring the Dharma back home. Great kings and patrons also provided the necessary causes and conditions to support this work.
Need for Cross-Translation 漢藏佛典互譯計畫的必要性
Although both Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist scriptures are mainly translated from Sanskrit, not all texts are shared by the Tibetan and Chinese canons. The gap between the eras of translation of these two canons is more than 700 years. The Chinese canon has more early Buddhist texts, and the Tibetan canon has more important commentaries written by Indian masters. According to preliminary assessments done by scholars, about 70 percent of the contents overlap, but some of the Chinese Buddhist scriptures are missing in the Tibetan and vice versa. Some texts are more comprehensive in one language and more concise in the other. Filling these gaps through cross-translation is a major step in ensuring that the Buddhadharma will be kept intact in both canons for generations to come.
Historically, the interaction between the Chinese and Tibetan traditions has been very strong. Tibetan kings invited Chinese monks to Tibet, and the Chinese emperors venerated Tibetan masters. Nevertheless, a lot of misconceptions still exist between the two traditions. In the true rimé spirit that Khyentse Foundation encourages cross-translation of the two canons.
KF Initiative 欽哲基金會的新計畫
Following the success of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, Khyentse Foundation hosted a seminar, “Translation of Buddhist Canons: Preparation for Cross-Translation of Tibetan and Chinese Canons,” at the University of Hong Kong in May 2012. Participants included respected Buddhist masters and scholars from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. After much discussion and exchange, the participants agreed that this cross-translation work is extremely urgent and important, and they expressed their willingness to work together to complete this work in one hundred years.
PROGRESS TO DATE 目前的進展
To translate Tibetan Buddhist texts into Chinese, the foundation is sponsoring translator training programs at Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts (DILA) and Fa-Kuang Institute of Buddhist Studies. Through this sponsorship, students and junior translators are able to study Tibetan in Tibetan communities abroad and to take more classes directly related to translating Tibetan texts into Chinese. Great Tibetan and Chinese Buddhist translators not only need to master both the source and target languages but also to understand both cultures deeply. They should also discuss the texts with Tibetan masters to grasp their essence before beginning translation.
Along with the translator training, DILA has completed the seventeenth chapter of Sthiramati’s Commentary on the Adornment of Mahāyāna Sūtras (Mahāyāna Sūtrālamkāra kārikā), and Fa-Kuang Institute has completed the introduction and the first and second chapters of Haribhadra’s Perfection of Wisdom in 25,000 Lines. Also, Professor Ming-yin Xu has completed translation of five works of Atisha.
The present pilot translation project is another major step forward to plan the translation of Tibetan Buddhist texts into Chinese in a systematic manner.
It is estimated that number of texts yet to be translated from Tibetan into Chinese are:
- 15,622 pages in the Kangyur (5,162 pages of Mahayana texts and 10,460 pages of Tantric texts).
- 119,042 pages in the Tengyur (73,502 pages of Mahayana texts and 45,540 pages of Tantric texts)
About 20 senior Chinese and Tibetan scholars have already identified and selected 30 Kangyur texts and 10 Tengyur texts, each with less than 100 pages, as priority texts to jump start the project. During the pilot phase, priority will be given to translating the Kangyur and shorter texts.
This pilot project adopts an open grant application process (based on the successful 84000 model) to attract more senior Chinese translators, Tibetan experts, and their disciples to participate in this translation effort.
Renowned Tibetan scholar Professor Jinsong Xiao has kindly agreed to lead the initiative as the project director. Prof. Xiao is joined by the following scholars as members of the Editorial Committee: Geshe Tenzin Namdol, Prof. Fu-chen Chang, Prof. Yi-yen Huang , Prof. Ben-sheng Liao , Prof. Kuo-Wei Liu , and Prof. Yao-ming Tsai. Jennifer Yo is the Project Coordinator.
This project aims to meet the highest translation standards, with the educated general public as the target audience. The foundation will offer professional translation fees to qualified translators and translation teams, which will foster collaboration between Tibetan scholars and Chinese translators, following the tradition of Buddhist translation institutions.
The foundation hopes that this new initiative will result in a complete set of Buddhist scriptures in Chinese, so that Chinese Buddhists will have access to the teachings of Buddha and past masters that currently exist only in Tibetan.
We welcome qualified translators to join this pilot project by March 15, 2017. Application forms and other related documents can be found here:
- Application Form 申請書。
- Priority Texts 優先翻譯經題。
- Translation Guidelines 翻譯準則。
- Application Guidelines 申請須知。
- Sample Translation 般若波羅蜜多二萬五千 藏文漢譯。