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Rare Tibetan Buddhist Manuscripts Translated into Hindi Poised for Publication

Bihar Research Society officials display Tibetan manuscripts to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. From

Long-awaited Hindi translations of five ancient Tibetan texts on Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy, which the celebrated Indian writer Rahul Sankrityayan (1893–1963) brought to India from Tibet, are ready for publication, pending funding pledged by the chief minister of the Indian state of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, according to a report by the Hindustan Times newspaper.

The initiative to translate these Tibetan manuscripts into Hindi was undertaken by the Bihar government in collaboration with the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS) in 2019, with the aim of making the core principles and philosophy of Buddhism accessible to more people. The Bihar government allocated allocated 19.4 million rupees (US$234,000) in funding for the printing of the Hindi translations. The CIHTS has so far received the first instalment of 1.55 million rupees (US$18,700).

Among the texts poised for publication are the Karma Vibhang Sutra, the Pragyaparmitahridaya Sutra, a collection of books written by Acharya Dipankar Srijnana (980–1053), the Madhyamkalangkar Karika Bhashya Evam Teeka, and a collection of other rare manuscripts.

“These are Tibetan translations of original manuscripts written in Sanskrit on palm leaves about Buddhism and its philosophy that were in possession of old Nalanda and Vikramshila universities,” said a researcher. “These manuscripts were taken to Tibet during the 7th–11th centuries for translation and the propagation of Buddhism. These manuscripts were translated into the Tibetan language under the guidance of scholars on handmade papers and in natural ink.” (Hindustan Times)

According to Prof. Geshe Ngawang Samten, the benefits of translating the Tibetan books into Hindi would extend beyond the people of Bihar to the entire country. 

There are hundreds of books in this collection, covering a wide range of topics, including astrology, tantra, meditation, medicine, philosophy, justice, and law. The translated works can be used to help preserve and promote the old Nalanda tradition of knowledge.

Rahul Sankrityayan. From

“Our vice-chancellor, Prof. Geshe Ngawang Samten, has sent letters to the chief minister twice in the last one year and met him in person in April this year at Rajgir for the message and the second installment of the funding,” said a CIHTS official. (Hindustan Times)

The official noted that the institute had originally proposed publishing five books on 5 May to coincide with Buddha Purnima.

The director-general of Bihar Museum, Anjani Kumar Singh, an advisor to chief minister Kumar, said that he would look into the reasons for the delay on the side of the arts and culture department, which has a memorandum of understanding with CIHTS.

Rahul Sankrityayan was a traveler and literary polymath who became known as the “father of Hindi travel literature.” He concentrated on mastering languages wherever he traveled, paying special attention to Sanskrit, Pali, and Tibetan. He became proficient in all of these languages, as was highly learned in ​literature, philosophy, rare books, and paintings.

Sankrityana brought some 10,000 Tibetan manuscripts back from his four visits to Tibet. Between the seventh and 12th centuries, students and monks studying at the historic universities of Nalanda and Vikramshila in India produced these manuscripts in Sanskrit. Archaeological evidence indicates that when the two universities were destroyed, copies and translations of the texts were taken to Tibet, while the originals were lost.

See more

Hindi translation of rare Tibetan manuscripts await Bihar CM’s message, funds (Hindustan Times)
Five books of Tibetan language will now be available to read in Hindi too, Rahul Sankrityayan brought from Tibet (Bollywood Wallah)
Rare Tibetan manuscripts translated into Hindi seeking Bihar CM’s support (Phayul)

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