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NEWS

84000 Announces New Translation Milestone, Publishing Their First Text from the Tibetan Tengyur

Storage room of canonical text printing blocks. Image courtesy of 84000

84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, a global nonprofit initiative founded by the renowned Bhutanese lama, author, and filmmaker Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche to translate, preserve, and share the Tibetan Buddhist Canon, has announced the organization’s first full translation of a text from the Tibetan Tengyur. Totaling some 161,800 pages, the Tengyur is composed of the translated commentaries on the Buddha’s teachings by the great Indian Buddhist masters and scholars.

“We are delighted to celebrate the publication of our very first translation from the Tengyur: The Long Explanation of the Noble Perfection of Wisdom in One Hundred Thousand, Twenty-Five Thousand, and Eighteen Thousand Lines,” 84000 said in an announcement shared with BDG. “This publication represents not only the culmination of dedicated work by many members of our translation team, but a significant milestone for the organization and a big step toward our vision of making the Tibetan Buddhist canon accessible in English, for the benefit of all.”

84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha is a long-term undertaking to translate and publish all surviving canonical texts preserved in the Classical Tibetan language—70,000 pages of the Kangyur (the translated words of the Buddha) in 25 years and 161,800 pages of the Tengyur (the translated commentaries on the Buddha’s teachings by the great Indian Buddhist masters and scholars) in 100 years. According to 84000, less than 5 per cent of the canon had hitherto been translated into a modern language, and due to a rapid decline in the knowledge of Classical Tibetan and in the number of qualified scholars, the world is in danger of losing an irreplaceable cultural and spiritual wisdom legacy.

“The Kangyur texts are the real raw material of the huge range of Buddhist views, beliefs, and practices. But over the last many centuries in Tibet, the Kangyur texts have mainly been explored and studied through the commentaries and treatises that organize and systematize them—both those written by Indian scholars in the Tengyur and those written later by Tibetans,” 84000 explained. 

“Many of the Kangyur texts that remain to be translated or finalized are quite difficult, and to translate and interpret them well it is essential for us to consult commentaries in the Tengyur,” said 84000. “While we are reading, consulting, and studying those commentaries anyway as part of the work on translating a Kangyur ‘root’ scripture, it makes sense to produce a translation of the commentary, too, so that we can share its explanations with our readers. These Tengyur commentaries are the ones we have been working on, or plan to work on in the near future even before the translation of the whole Kangyur is complete. Indeed, they will help us complete the translation of the Kangyur.”

The Long Explanation text from the Tengyur, just published by 84000, was translated by Canadian Buddhist scholar and former Buddhist monastic Dr. Gareth Sparham, in consultation with Kensur Geshe Lobsang Gyaltsen from Ladakh, who was the 80th abbot of Drepung Gomang Monastery in Mundgod, India, from 2015–21, and Geshe Kalsang Damdul from Tibet, who served as assistant director of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala (1983–2014) and then director (2014–18).

The Long Explanation was translated by Buddhist scholar and former monastic Dr. Gareth Sparham, in consultation with Kensur Geshe Lobsang Gyaltsen and Geshe Kalsang Damdul. Image courtesy of 84000

“84000 is concentrating particularly on the word-by-word commentaries [from the Tangyur] that are most directly applicable to the parallel translation of Kangyur texts and will be the greatest help to readers in understanding them,” 84000 shared. “Our first Tengyur text to be published, as a commentary on the three long Prajnaparamita Sutras, is very much of that kind. It has not only been very helpful in our work translating those sutras, but will be an excellent guide for readers who wish to study these difficult texts in detail. Most of the other Tengyur translations now in progress are of tantra commentaries, while a few sutra commentaries including another Prajnaparamita work are in the pipeline.”

Since its founding 12 years ago,* 84000—named for the number of teachings the Buddha is said to have given—has awarded more than US$6 million in grants to teams of translators around the world, including Tibetan scholars and Western academics. In just 12 years, with the endorsement of all four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, 84000 continues to strive forward, supported by some of the most learned living teachers of the Vajrayana tradition.

Born in Bhutan in 1961, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is the son of Thinley Norbu Rinpoche and was a close student of the Nyingma master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910–91). He is recognized as the third incarnation of the 19th century Tibetan terton Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820–1892), founder of the Khyentse lineage, and the immediate incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö (1893–1959). 

In addition to 84000, Rinpoche’s projects include Khyentse Foundation, established in 2001 to promote the Buddha’s teaching and support all traditions of Buddhist study and practice; Siddhartha’s Intent, an international collective of Buddhist groups supporting Rinpoche’s Buddhadharma activities by organizing teachings and retreats, distributing and archiving recorded teachings, and transcribing, editing, and translating manuscripts and practice texts; Lotus Outreach, which directs a range of projects to ensure the education, health, and safety of vulnerable women and children in the developing world; and Lhomon Society, which promotes sustainable development in Bhutan through education.

We will be making available to people of all nationalities, everything they need to follow the Buddha’s infinite path to liberation.

(Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche)

* 84000 Launches Video Campaign to Mark 10 Years of Preserving the Tibetan Buddhist Canon (BDG) and 84000 Announces that 25 Per Cent of the Tibetan Kangyur Is Now Freely Available in English (BDG)

See more

84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
The Long Explanation of the Noble Perfection of Wisdom in One Hundred Thousand, Twenty-Five Thousand, and Eighteen Thousand Lines (84000)
Welcome to the Reading Room (84000)

Related news reports from BDG

UPDATE: 84000 Launches Crowdfunding Campaign to “Bring 10,000-pages of the Buddha’s Words to Life”
84000 Announces that 25 Per Cent of the Tibetan Kangyur Is Now Freely Available in English
84000 Announces World’s First Complete English-Language Catalog of the Tengyur
UPDATE: 84000 Launches New App, with Insights from Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
84000 Founds Assistant Professorship in Buddhist Studies at the University of Toronto
84000 Partners with UC Santa Barbara to Translate the Tibetan Buddhist Canon
84000 Launches Special Edition of The Hundred Deeds Sutra Illustrated by Children in Lockdown
84000 Announces the Historic Publication of a Major Buddhist Sutra Never Before Available in English
84000 Offers “Sūtras for Well-Being” for a World Grappling with Pandemic
84000 Launches Video Campaign to Mark 10 Years of Preserving the Tibetan Buddhist Canon

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