Rare Buddhist manuscripts get digitalized for Internet home

ANI, September 22, 2005

Dharamshala, India -- By using modern technologies many scholars are making knowledge of Buddhism available for the general public and youngsters. Many Buddhist scholars in Dharamshala town are digitalizing rare Buddhist manuscripts to preserve them and give them a virtual home on the Internet.

Funded by the National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM), the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, has taken on the task of locating, collecting and cataloguing all available Tibetan manuscripts in and around the Himachal Pradesh.

The Institute, a centre for Tibetan studies, located in the adapted home of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, is a warehouse of Tibetan artefacts and manuscripts.

Known for housing the largest collection of Tibetan manuscripts outside Tibet, the Institute plays a key role in the collection of data on Tibetan manuscripts and its compilation.

Once digitalized, the collected information and scripts will be sent over to NMM for further dissemination.

According to Lobsang Shastri, the head of NMM (Tibetan, posting of manuscripts on the Internet would take at least two years. He says:

"This will be very useful to all the students and research scholars who are interested in manuscripts, which are available in India. The whole data will be sent to the main office of National Manuscript Mission and they will send them to the internet, one or two years after."

So far, authorities have covered the Kangra district and are now working in Lahul and Spiti districts.

At present, 108 Kanjur, the collection of teachings by Lord Buddha himself, has been completed.

The library houses over 80,000 manuscripts and documents, 6,000 photographs and hundreds of thangkas (painted and embroidered Tibetan banner), statues and other artefacts.

Tibetans' sacred texts are divided into two main categories- namely, Bka'-'gyur or Kanjur ("Translated Word"), and Bstan-'gyur or Tenjur (Transmitted Word), which consist of words of Buddhist religious teachers.

The various sects of Tibetan Buddhism recognise the scared texts of the Tibetan Buddhist canon, which consist of more than 300 volumes and thousands of individual texts.

The NMM, a five-year project, was launched in 2003 by the Department of Culture of the Statel Government to preserve India's manuscripts and making them easily accessible for research purposes.