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84000 Partners with UC Santa Barbara to Translate the Tibetan Buddhist Canon

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The University of Santa Barbara campus. From ucsb.edu

The Buddhist studies program at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) has announced a new partnership with the nonprofit 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, founded by the renowned Bhutanese lama, author, and filmmaker Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche. The partnership aims to further the work of the 84000 project in translating the entire Tibetan Buddhist canon.

The vision of 84000 is to make the entirety of the Tibetan Buddhist Canon—some 231,000 pages in length—available to English speakers throughout the world. It has relied upon skilled translators around the world including academics, Western monastics, and countless Tibetan teachers and masters.

José I. Cabezón, director of the new initiative and holder of the Dalai Lama Endowed Chair in the Religious Studies Department at UCSB, said: “The study of the scripture is central to the academic study of Buddhism, just as the Bible is to the study of Judaism and Christianity.” (UC Santa Barbara)

Cabezón continued: “But unlike the Bible, the Buddhist canon is vast. In its Tibetan version, it contains 108 volumes. The 84000 project is a decades-long initiative to translate the Tibetan Buddhist canon in its entirety. The Buddhist Studies program, part of UCSB’s religious studies department, is excited to partner with the 84000 Project to realize this historic goal of creating an accurate, readable and freely accessible translation of the Tibetan Buddhist scriptures.” (UC Santa Barbara)

The translation of Tibetan texts, including scriptures, has been central to the training of students at UCSB. Several UCSB students have published translations available on the 84000 website and more are forthcoming. Thus, the current partnership formalizes an existing relationship between UCSB and 84000 and further strengthens commitments to support future translators.

José I. Cabezón. From ucsb.edu

Highlighting the complex multilingual nature of the project, Daigengna Duoer, a doctoral student at UCSB, told Buddhistdoor Global: “I contribute as a Tibetan and Classical Chinese reader/translator for the group. I also consult Japanese scholarship on the text we translate for my fellow translators. Taryn Sue, another woman scholar at UCSB (she has a fascinating monastic experience background and she’s doing her MA here), and I started a separate 84000 translation group recently and we are both Tibetan and Classical Chinese readers. We have teamed with Caley Smith, who is an amazing Sanskrit reader.”

Fabio Rambelli, chair of religious studies at UCSB, described how the project will enhance the understanding of Buddhism: “Often, the academy does not consider translations very highly, but in our case, the accurate understanding of original sources is the basis for our scholarship, and in many cases, original texts cannot be accessed by our students if not in translation. This new translation initiative will further strengthen our commitment to Buddhist Studies on the one hand and to Translation Studies on the other, and hopefully it will encourage more students to engage with translations. It will also give access to Buddhist original sources to many more readers, thus contributing to a better and deeper understanding of the tradition and its cultural components.” (UC Santa Barbara)

“The 84000 is creating a bridge between the past and present and is facilitating the transmission of Buddhist knowledge between different cultural regions and languages,” said Prof. Vesna A. Wallace, associate director of the new initiative’s executive committee. “We are delighted to take part in that global initiative and to be able to strengthen and expand the opportunities of our Buddhist studies program by training and supervising the work of qualified translators into English, and enhancing the scholarly understanding of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist cultures that have expressed themselves in various Asian languages.” (UC Santa Barbara)

Vesna A. Wallace. From prabook.com

See more

In the Words of the Buddha (UC Santa Barbara)
84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha

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