Interpreting the past
Buddhist texts get rewritten
By Christina L. Esparza Staff Writer
There are three sacred Buddhist canons written in Pali,which is used in
"The version in Sanskrit is not available really in a series or a uniform published form," said Ananda Guruge, dean of academic affairs at University of the West, who is one of the foremost Buddhist scholars in the world.
But Shakya, who with his father and others at the Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Methods in Nepal, is transliterating - changing the words into corresponding words of another language - the Sanskrit texts for Internet use.
The texts were found in a dusty stack in the national archives in
The project started in 2003 with a $30,000 grant from Most
Venerable Master Hsing Yun, founder of the university and the
After funding ran out, there was abreak before the master awarded another $18,000.
Shakya and his team have uploaded about 9,000 pages of the text so far, but that is barely a dent: If any version of the canon were stacked up, the texts would be 5 feet high. However, the texts up on the Internet have already been used in research by hundreds of Buddhist scholars around the world, officials said. "Sanskrit is nearly lost," Shakya said. "It's lying on the floor and collecting dust. In 100 years, it will turn to dust."
Using a hard copy of the text and translating software, Shakya memorizes what each keystroke on a QWERTY keyboard translates to in Sanskrit.
He could sit behind his computer for eight or nine hours at a time, transliterating the canon line-by-line.
"Some believe Sanskrit is totally wiped out of the world," Shakya said. "But from our perspective, it's still alive."
Shakya said the Sanskrit language is rarely spoken, but is used in Buddhist rituals. However, a Sanskrit canon could not be found anywhere in
Sanskrit, he said, is the only major Buddhist canon that is not easily available.
"It's \ an important milestone for Buddhism and the university is proud to be a part of it," Schmidt said.
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