Sarnath International Nyingma Institute Poised to Complete First-ever Encyclopedic Kangyur Catalogue

Sarnath International Nyingma Institute, Uttar Pradesh. From

Khyentse Foundation, a nonprofit founded by the renowned Bhutanese lama, filmmaker, and author Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, has announced that a landmark project to compile a comprehensive “encyclopedia” of the Tibetan Kangyur—a collection of sacred texts representing the collected teachings of the Buddha—is almost complete.

The Kangyur Karchag, a project of Sarnath International Nyingma Institute, will summarize the 368 sutras contained in the Kangyur that have been translated into Tibetan. A total of 51 writers and researchers from all Tibetan Buddhist traditions, based in Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Tibet, have been dedicating their time to the initiative.

“The Kangyur Karchag project has already exceeded its initial goals,” Khyentse Foundation shared in a recent news update. “As of 1 December 2022, more than 335 of the 368 sutras in the Kangyur have been summarized. The work is directed by Khenpo Ju Tenkyong from Larung Gar Institute in China, who recently finished editing a 223-volume Tibetan terminological dictionary. The researchers compare Tibetan editions of the Kangyur with those in Chinese, Pali, and Sanskrit, while the writers consult available commentaries, often reading 20–30 commentaries for sutras that are well known. The first full draft of the karchag  [Tib. roughly translated as “catalogue”] will be ready by the end of January 2023 and the final version by early 2024.” (Khyentse Foundation)

SINI director Tsering Palmo Gellek. Photo by Briana Blasko. From

“The Kangyur is at the root of the teachings of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas,” Khenpo Ju Tenkyong explained. “There are so many branches of Buddhism, so many different texts and traditions, but the Kangyur is the taproot that connects them all and from which they all arise. There is no teaching of the buddhas without the Kangyur.” (Sarnath International Nyingma Institute)

The Sarnath International Nyingma Institute (SINI) was established in 2013 with the aspiration to share the Buddhadharma with as many people as possible. Located in Sarnath, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, SINI is one of more than 20 organizations founded by the revered lama Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche (b. 1935), who was instrumental in introducing the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism to the United States. SINI is directed by the youngest of Tarthang Tulku’s three daughters, Tsering Palmo Gellek.

“The sutras are initially synopsized in Tibetan with the intention to benefit monasteries, shedras, and Buddhist scholars,” said Khyentse Foundation. “A condensed version of the karchag will make the material accessible to laypeople and form a springboard for the development of curriculum materials for Tibetan schools. There are also plans to render the summaries in English and Chinese and to make them available online.” (Khyentse Foundation)

Kangyur Karchag editors, from left: Lopons Tsering Nyima, Thupten Gyatso, Thupten Lobsang, and Khenpo Ju Tenkyong. Photo by Patrick Dowd. From

Launched by Tarthang Tulku in 2019, the Kangyur Karchag project is intended to be first-ever truly comprehensive Tibetan Buddhist encyclopedia of the Kangyur. Although the Kangyur has been catalogued before, the SINI’s execution can be considered unique. 

“[The others] were [mostly] missing introductions, which can immediately inform the reader of all the essential information within the sutra,” said Khenpo Ju Tenkyong. “Some previous karchags did have short introductions, but none were as thorough or as comprehensive as the ones we are writing. It’s like we’re creating an ‘ID card’ for each sutra.

“We try to draw out the main instruction from each sutra, the heart-essence that readers should take away after reading. In particular, we consider how these sutras can most benefit people in the modern world. We strive to show all people, no matter their background, how relevant these sutras are to their own lives. These are not just ancient books—these are pith instructions to show us how to make the best use of our precious human life.” (Khyentse Foundation) 

Khyentse Foundation was 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.

The foundation awarded annual grants to SINI in 2019 and 2020 to partially support the Kangyur Karchag project. In 2021, a further three-year award was made in support of the catalogue and other SINI programs.

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.

See more

Khyentse Foundation
Sarnath International Nyingma Institute
The Kagyur Karchag Encyclopedia Project (Sarnath International Nyingma Institute)
An Update On The Kagyur Karchag Project (Sarnath International Nyingma Institute)

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