Naropa: The Dauntless. From TBRC Karma Kagyu musical score from Pelpung Monastery. From TBRC A page from Ripa Bayo’s symbolic teachings, based on his visions and dreams. From TBRC
The Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC) has announced the opening of the TBRC exhibition space on the Google Cultural Institute (GCI) online platform. The TBRC said its partnership with the GCI will enable web users to explore and interact with high-resolution images from selected Tibetan manuscripts.
The GCI contains digital reproductions of millions of artifacts and archives from partners around the world, providing a wealth of cultural material in a virtual museum setting. The GCI’s aim is to ensure a growing online resource of cultural material of historic import is available to all and preserved for the benefit of future generations.
The TBRC is a non-profit organization founded in 1999 by respected scholar and archivist the late E. Gene Smith to preserve and disseminate Tibetan literature. The TBRC ranks its online library as the most extensive single collection of Tibetan literature to have ever existed.
In this initial launch, the TBRC said it was releasing three exhibits comprising pages of rare manuscripts, with curatorial notes and context. These exhibits, now live on the GCI platform, highlight the 84 Mahasiddhas, or tantric Buddhist adepts; notation of the Tibetan Buddhist musical tradition; and the visionary writings of Ripa Bayo, a Tibetan traveler and prophet:
“The Legends of the 84 Mahasiddhas” contains excerpts from the biographies of the 84 Mahasiddhas, as recorded by 12th century Indian scholar Abhayadatta Sri and translated into Tibetan by Möndrup Sherab. This illustrated text tells the stories of the 84 great masters and the paths they took to enlightenment.
“Musical Notation, Divine Invocation” is a collection of written ritual music of monasteries across the Tibetan Buddhist world.
“Ripa Bayo: The Wayfaring Doodler” features illustrations from the writings of Ripa Bayo, or Karma Drubgyu Trinle Rabgye Pel Zangpo (1876–1942). This exhibit showcases his surprisingly modernist vision, his adventurous spirit as a traveler, his prophecies and story-telling, and his ability to wonder at the world.
The TBRC said that the musical scores are still read and played today, while the tales of the 84 Mahasiddhas are told and known by Buddhists around the world. Ripa Bayo’s stories reflect human questions that still resonate: how do we establish our place in a rapidly evolving political and spiritual landscape? What do we make of our changing world?
According to the TBRC, visitors will find human stories in these exhibits—stories of frustration and wonder, suffering, and surprise—signs of the need to make sense of our human place in the cosmic order.
“The manuscripts evidence that this place is not so fixed; with the proper means, we can summon deities with the sounds of horns and cymbals, we can experience prophetic dreams and record the future, we can attain lucid realization of the nature of reality,” said the TBRC. (Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center)