Khyentse Foundation, a nonprofit founded by the renowned Bhutanese lama, filmmaker, and author Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, has presented this year’s award for Outstanding PhD Dissertation in Buddhist Studies for Asia to Malaysian scholar Eng Jin Ooi of Thailand’s Mahidol University.
“Eng Jin Ooi, of the Department of Humanities, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities of Mahidol University, received this year’s award for Outstanding PhD Dissertation in Buddhist Studies for Asia for his dissertation ‘Transmission of the Milindapañha with a Comparative Analysis of the Siamese Recensions,’” Khyentse Foundation stated in an announcement shared with BDG.
Sharing his thoughts with Khyentse Foundation on receiving the award, Eng Jin noted:
I am indeed honored and grateful to be selected as the recipient of this year’s Khyentse Foundation Dissertation Award. It’s a pleasure to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to my supervisor, Prof. Peter Skilling, whose vast expertise and selfless efforts have helped me navigate the intricate terrain of Southeast Asian Buddhism, manuscript traditions, and textual studies. I am indebted to him for his patience in encouraging me in academic research. I am deeply indebted to my co-supervisors Dr. Giuliano Giustarini and Assistant Professor Kengo Harimoto for their invaluable support and advice, to the academic team at Mahidol University who have supported me along my journey, to the selection committee for recognizing my work, to my family and friends, and to Khyentse Foundation for making this possible. This award encourages and inspires me to continue my efforts to understand and contribute to the field of Buddhist textual transmission and history.
In his letter of recommendation for Eng Jin’s award nomination, Associate Professor Pagorn Singsuriya, head of Mahidol University’s Department of Humanities, wrote in part:
Eng Jin’s thesis is a product of original research in the Pāli language and it significantly advances the understanding of scriptures. This is also the first time such comparative studies have been done on any particular Pāli text. The work has contributed immensely to the history of Pāli literature, codicology, and ethics.
The foundation also shared an excerpt from the report of a KF Dissertation Award Asia Committee reviewer:
This extensive and well-researched article certainly merits publication after some revisions. The author has provided an original, meticulously presented analysis of the Siamese textual tradition of the Milindapañha, along with its broader context in Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, India, and China. The result is [the] first substantial piece of research to not only describe in detail the ways in which printed Siamese recension of the Milindapañha differs so stridently from the Pali Text Society’s Romanised edition, but also to provide a well-evidenced account of how this recension developed through the combination of various textual lineages found in manuscript form between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.
Khyentse Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche in 2001 with the aim of promoting the Buddha’s teaching and supporting all traditions of Buddhist study and practice. The foundation’s activities include major text preservation and translation projects, support for monastic colleges in Asia, a worldwide scholarship and awards program, development of Buddhist studies at major universities, training and development for Buddhist teachers, and developing new modes of Dharma-inspired education for children.
Khyentse Foundation’s achievements over the last 20 years include: more than 15 million pages of Buddhist texts preserved and made available online; education provided for the children of more than 1,000 families; support for Buddhist studies at more than 35 major universities through endowed chairs and professorships, graduate support, and the establishment of Buddhist studies centers; more than US$1 million in sponsorship for Buddhist teacher-training granted; sacred Buddhist texts translated into more than 15 languages, thanks to the efforts of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, the Kumarajiva Project, and the Khyentse Vision Project; over US$1.8 million in funding granted to uphold Buddhism in its mother countries, including grassroots partnerships to revitalize interest in Buddhism in India; more than 2,000 scholarships and awards in recognition of excellence in Buddhist study and practice; support for over 3,000 monks and nuns to maintain the tradition of Buddhist scholarship in a monastic setting; and more than 120 open-access Ashoka and Trisong grants distributed to support Dharma and well-being programs.
The foundation gives four different awards for academic achievement: Academic Excellence in Buddhist Studies; Prize for Outstanding Translation; Award for Outstanding PhD Dissertation in Buddhist Studies, Europe and Asia; and The Khyentse Fellowship. The foundation established the Award for Outstanding PhD Dissertation in 2013, and has presented the award each year to an outstanding PhD candidate with a dissertation in the field of Buddhist studies. The US$8,000 award alternates annually between Asia and Europe for dissertations based on original research that significantly advance our understanding of the subject or Buddhist scriptures studied.
“The next round of nominations for the Khyentse Foundation Outstanding PhD Dissertation Award will be open from 1 October through 31 December,” Khyentse Foundation stated. “Accredited institutions that offer PhD programs in Buddhist studies or religious studies in Europe are invited to nominate one dissertation that was completed during the academic years 2021–22.”
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 Khyentse Foundation, his projects include 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; 84000, a non-profit global initiative to translate the words of the Buddha and make them available to all; 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.
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