In an ongoing effort to raise awareness among Indians of the value of their own heritage, 84000 and Siddhartha’s Intent India co-hosted a symposium entitled “Translating the Words of the Buddha: Preserving a Priceless Legacy of India” on the morning of October 27, 2013, at the India International Centre in New Delhi.
About 200 people attended the event, including Mr. Ashok Thakur from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, ambassadors from the Bhutan, Dominican Republic and Italy embassies, Dr. Tempa Tsering from the Foundation of Universal Responsibility of HHDL, Her Eminence Jetsun Pema, Lama Lobzang from Asoka Mission and International Buddhist Confederation, professors and students from Delhi University, Jawarlhal Nehru University and Lady Sree Ram College, publishers, Buddhist teachers, scholars and students.
The program opened with the melodious Sanskrit chanting of Vidya Rao, followed by an introduction by Naresh Mathur, General Secretary of Siddhartha’s Intent India.
Photo: Sarah KC Wilkinson
Illustrating the current state of Buddhism in India, 84000 Chair Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche recalled the time when his Indian taxi driver, a self-declared Christian, asked Rinpoche with utmost sincerity, “Where does your god come from?”
Venerable Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, Professor Peter Skilling and Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan then discussed the history of translation and the connection between the Tibetan canon and Indian history. Reminded that the Tibetan language was created for the purpose of translating the Buddha’s words from Sanskrit, it was proposed that the “verbatim” Tibetan canon is closer to the original Sanskrit teachings than the canons that were forced to paraphrase. As the morning continued, attendees were asked to consider whether——with the Sanskrit canon essentially lost and preserved only in its Tibetan translation——an accurate history of India could be written without reviewing these not-yet-translated texts.
Photo: Ushnisha Ng
Questions concerning the presentation and issues of translation were then addressed in a panel consisting of Huang Jing Rui, executive director of 84000, and the scholars, teachers and hosts of the event.
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche closed the event by stressing that the highly realized masters of Tibet owed their accomplishments to India. Having claimed Buddhism as one of the greatest and most successful exports of India, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche implored the Indians in the audience to reclaim their legacy and spread the word, so “taxi drivers don’t ask me where my god comes from anymore.”
See the photo slideshow from the event below: