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Rare Tibetan manuscripts translated into Hindi seeking Bihar CM’s support

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Bihar Research Society officials displaying Tibetan manuscripts collection to Bihar CM Nitish Kumar (Photo/HT)

By Tsering Dhundup

DHARAMSHALA May 17: The much-awaited Hindi translations of the centuries-old Tibetan manuscripts on Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy, which were brought back to India from Tibet by noted author Rahul Sakrityayan, are ready to be published and are waiting for the preface of the book, as well as funds promised by the Bihar Chief minister, according to Hindustan Times.

These are the first five books of more than 50 Tibetan manuscripts on Buddhism being translated into Hindi by the Sarnath-based Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies.

As part of efforts to make Buddhism’s core principles and philosophy easily understandable for the people, the Bihar government in 2019 tied up with the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS), Sarnath, to translate more than 50 Tibetan manuscripts into Hindi. Accordingly, the Bihar government allocated a budget of ₹1.94 crores for the publication of the Hindi translation of the manuscripts. The first instalment of ₹15.50 lakh was released to the institute.

A senior official of the CIHTS said that five books, which have been translated, are awaiting the introductory message of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar for printing. “Our vice-chancellor (Prof. Geshe Ngawang Samten) has sent letters to the chief minister twice in the last year and met him in person in April this year at Rajgir for the message and the 2nd instalment of the fund, ₹25 lacks. However, both are still awaited,” the official told HT, adding that the institute had proposed releasing five books on the auspicious Buddha Purnima (May 5).

The books ready for publication include ‘Karm Vibhang Sutra’, ‘Pragyaparmitahridaya Sutra’, a collection of books written by Acharya Deepankar Shrigyan, ‘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. These manuscripts were taken to Tibet during the 7th-11th centuries to translate and propagate Buddhism. These manuscripts were translated into the Tibetan language under the guidance of scholars on handmade papers and in natural ink,” said a researcher.

The institute had earlier planned to get the five translated versions of the manuscripts by Dalai Lama during his visit to Bodh Gaya between December 28 and 31 in 2022. However, the plan had to be postponed due to a delay in the CM’s message on the books and the 2nd instalment of the agreed amount, said a CIHTS official, quoting a letter to Kumar by the vice-chancellor on December 15, 2022.

Director General of Bihar Museum Anjani Kumar Singh, who is an advisor to the Bihar CM, said that he would inquire into the delay from the Department of Art and Culture, which had signed the MoU with the CIHTS.

Rahul Sankrityayan brought ten thousand Tibetan Buddhist manuscripts from Tibet (from 1929-1938) on his four trips to Tibet. These manuscripts were originally written in Sanskrit by scholars and monks studying at ancient Nalanda and Vikramshila universities in India between 7th to 12 century AD. Their copies and translations were taken to Tibet while the originals were lost when these two universities were destroyed, according to archeological records.

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