Support Tibetan Culture: AIBS & The Buddhist Canons Research Database

The American Institute of Buddhist Studies, nonprofit 501c3, was founded in 1972, at the request of H.H. the Dalai Lama and the late Geshe Ngawang Wangyal with the mandate to translate and publish the originally Indian Buddhist scientific, spiritual, and artistic works collected in the Tengyur (bstan ‘gyur) collection of Tibetan translations from Sanskrit and other Indic languages. Under the continuing, kind and skillful inspiration of the Tibetan master sages, led by H.H. the Dalai Lama, we are just beginning to translate, interpret, understand, and put into practice the teachings contained in these works.

Translation Conference

Since it’s founding the American Institute of Buddhist Studies has worked to translate works from the Tengyur and its associated Tibetan literature, educate translators, develop informal & formal academic networks through the Tengyur Translation Initiative, Treasury of Buddhist Sciences & Indic Sciences publications, online resources such as The Buddhist Canons Research Database, and international educational conferences. Your support is needed in continuing this important work.

Digital Humanities Nomination for Best Tool or Suite of Tools

The Buddhist Canons Research Database has been nominated for a 2014 Digital Humanities Award in the Best Tool or Suite of Tools category and needs your vote. The Digital Humanities Awards are a set of annual awards where the public is able to nominate resources for the recognition of talent and expertise in the digital humanities community. The resources are nominated and voted for entirely by the public.

To vote for the AIBS Buddhist Canons Research Database please visit Digital Humanities Awards.

Tibetan Pecha

About the Tengyur Collection

Throughout the first millennium CE, all of India’s classical “outer” arts and sciences (Tibetan: rigs gnas; Sanskrit: vidyāsthāna) — including linguistics, medicine, astronomy, political theory, ethics, painting, sculpture, architecture, and so on — as well as all of her classical “inner” arts and sciences (philosophy and the sciences of mind, meditation, yoga, and so on) engendered numerous renaissances across all of Asia. The knowledge comprising these arts and sciences was distilled and preserved in the thousands of scientific treatises held by the great Indian Buddhist university libraries such as those of Nalanda, Vikramashila, and Odantapuri.

It is estimated that the holdings of these Indic treasuries amounted to over one hundred times the holdings of the Library of Alexandria. While much of the explicitly Buddhist tradition was later lost in India, most of the essential treatises were systematically translated into Tibetan by teams of scholars during the 7th–12th centuries CE. The resulting collection, preserved as the Tibetan Tengyur (bstan ‘gyur), consists of translations of about 4000 Sanskrit works by over 700 Indian authors.

Ruins of Nalanda University

AIBS Tengyur Translation Initiative

The Nalandā Library, Jewel Treasure Ocean (Ratnodadhī), was the greatest of the libraries of the classical world, especially in the field of the Inner Sciences. It was destroyed around 800 years ago, along with up to 30 million texts suspected to have been available there and at its sister universities, Vikramaśīla, etc. Fortunately, the 4000 most important masterpieces have survived, preserved in the Tibetan Tengyur Collection in lucid Tibetan translations.

The Buddhist Canons Research Database

The Buddhist Canons Research Database is a resource that offers complete bibliographic information (with internal crosslinks and links to external resources) for the roughly 5,000 texts contained in the Tibetan Buddhist canon, and offers both general and targeted full text search access to those texts.

Launched in 2010, the Buddhist Cannons bibliographic database was deployed as an online resource to enable the research community to document and track editions and translations of texts in the Buddhist canon. Designed to facilitate research in canonical materials, related texts in the two halves of the canon and in the bibliography of secondary literature in world languages were cross-linked to allow for rapid accessing of information, including direct links to page images and e-text as well as documentation and links to parallel e-texts in Sanskrit and Chinese. In 2011 the interface to the database was redesigned for localization in nine languages. In 2013, the BCRD was formally launched with a redesigned interface, and full-text searching of the Kangyur and Tengyur was added, complete with page-by-page reference information and links to available e-text.

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