Believing wholeheartedly that Buddha’s wisdom has the potential to positively affect all those who meet with it, Khyentse Foundation is working to make Buddhist texts available in as many languages as possible. A vast number of Buddha’s teachings are still trapped in classical languages and are inaccessible to most people. To make those teachings widely available, we are working to train new translators and to coordinate existing translators and translation efforts.
Our support for translation includes incubating and managing translation efforts, initiating and maintaining translator training programs, and offering awards, grants, and scholarships.
It’s entirely possible that the survival of the Buddhadharma will depend on it being translated into other languages.Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche at the Translating the Words of the Buddha Conference, March 2009, Bir, India
With hundreds of thousands of pages of Buddhist texts available for translation, we and our partners have had to carefully consider how best to approach large-scale translation efforts. One of the first steps has been to agree that the task is far too immense for any one person, organization, or lifetime. Expected to take 40, 60, even 100 hundred years, our projects require the extensive cooperation and dedication of hundreds of translators, editors, and administrators around the world.
Our first major translation effort was to spearhead the development of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, which focuses on translating the Tibetan Buddhist canon from classical Tibetan into modern languages. In 2019 we launched the Kumarajiva Project, a Chinese language project to translate Buddhist texts that don’t currently exist in the Chinese canon, and the Khyentse Vision Project, which is translating Buddhist texts that are specific to the Khyentse lineage. 84000 is now a thriving, fully independent not-for-profit translation organization.
The most immediate obstacle to translating the words of the Buddha into many languages is the lack of qualified translators. We are committed to co-creating and supporting programs to train the next generation of dharma translators by collaborating with academic and Buddhist institutions. Additionally, we offer direct financial support to aspiring translators and Buddhist scholars in the form of Translation Studies Scholarships and Ashoka Grants.
Access for All
In addition to sponsoring major translation efforts, we also offer aid on a smaller scale. With the wish to promote Buddhist wisdom in as many languages as possible, to date we have supported the translation of texts into Polish, Mongolian, Ukrainian, Hebrew, Czech, Spanish, French, Arabic, and other languages.
Unlike some religious traditions that have a single canon, the popularity of Buddhism over the millennia has resulted in the development of numerous canons across Asia, including collections in Tibetan, Chinese, and Pali. Further, while many sutras and other texts are common across these canons, there are a number of additional texts and interpretations that are unique to specific canons. Khyentse Foundation aims to contribute to increasing the number of available texts from all canonical traditions.
For purposes of translation, Buddhist “lineage” refers to the transmission and organizational lineages found within certain forms of Buddhism. Over hundreds of years, lineages have developed around particular approaches to and interpretations of Buddha’s teachings. At present the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism are Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug, with a number of other smaller independent or hybrid schools. The Khyentse lineage, founded by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo in the early 19th century, promotes a nonsectarian approach that emphasizes the importance of all of Buddha’s teachings. Khyentse Foundation’s lineage translation efforts focus primarily on translating the commentarial treatises and “‘treasure teachings” of the Khyentse lineage masters.