84,000 Translating the Words of the Buddha

Source:     http://84000.co/about/vision/

It is said that the Buddha taught more than 84,000 methods to attain true peace and freedom from suffering. Of these teachings, only 5% have been translated into modern languages. Due to the rapid decline in knowledge of classical languages and in the number of qualified scholars, we are in danger of losing this cultural heritage and spiritual legacy.

84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, a registered global non-profit initiative, aims to translate all of the Buddha’s words into modern languages, and to make them available to everyone, free of charge.

Our Vision

100 years To provide universal access to the Buddhist literary heritage translated into modern languages.
25 years To make all of the Kangyur and related volumes of the Tengyur available in English, and provide widespread accessibility in multiple platforms.
10 years To make a significant portion of the Kangyur and complementary Tengyur texts available in English, and easily accessible in multiple platforms.
5 years To make a representative sample of the Kangyur and Tengyur available in English, and establish the infrastructure and resources necessary to accomplish the long-term vision.

Scope of Our Work

84000’s primary focus will be the Tibetan texts included in the Kangyur and Tengyur (the translation of canonical texts from Pali and Chinese being the province of other organisations).

Our main efforts will be commissioning translations of these texts, particularly those that have not yet been translated. In the initial phase of the project, the emphasis will be on translation into English. Other modern languages, including Chinese, will be included when resources are available.

Translations will be made according to broad, consensual guidelines. Where possible, the translations will be aimed at an educated but non-specialist readership, providing the clear and comprehensive detail required by both scholars and practitioners. Brief introductions, notes, bibliographies, glossaries and other reference material will be included with each text.

After expert review, the translations will be published in the online reading room, free of charge. The online reading room database will provide access to 84000’s translations as they become available, and will reference other existing translations. Print editions will be made available if funding permits.

Scarcity of Existing Translations

To date, less than 5% of the classical Tibetan texts and only 15% of the classical Chinese texts have been translated into modern languages.

Even though much work on canonical texts has already been done, particularly in the last 30 years, the collections are so vast that the percentage remains small. There are some 2,200 classical Chinese canonical texts in 55 massive volumes; while the two Tibetan collections, the Kangyur and Tengyur contain more than 5,200 texts in 325 volumes.

In the case of the Tibetan texts, most of the efforts made by translators, scholars and teachers have gone into works that belong to the non-canonical, indigenous literature of each lineage that have been the traditional basis for study. There are compelling arguments for enlarging the attention given to the works in the Kangyur and Tengyur, which are the common source of all the Tibetan lineages, and an important heritage to be shared with Buddhists everywhere.

Rapid Disappearance of Traditional Knowledge:

Oral lineages of detailed understanding and spiritual practice based on these texts have endured for centuries in traditional Buddhist cultures in Asia, until the present day.

Because of the enormous social, cultural, and political upheavals of the last hundred years, very few people alive today have received the long and intense education, training, and study necessary to understand and interpret the texts. For some texts, the oral interpretive tradition has already been lost.

The number of such scholars and masters is ever dwindling, and it is vital that their unique knowledge of the texts, and of the classical languages in which they are written, be supported in the work of translation.

Survival Risk of Classical Tibetan:

Classical Tibetan is a language of the Tibeto-Burman family, related to other languages of the Himalayan region (and perhaps, very distantly, to Chinese). While the language itself is unrelated to Sanskrit or any other Indic languages, its written script, based on an Indian prototype, was developed in the 7th century for the purpose of translating the sacred Buddhist texts brought to Tibet from India.

The number of people who learn, understand, and use classical Tibetan is rapidly declining, and the language is facing a serious threat to its survival. Translation serves the dual benefit of uncovering the timeless wisdom recorded within these texts, and spurring greater interest in this ancient language.

Demand for Buddhist Texts:

The past few decades have seen a steadily burgeoning interest in the study and practice of Buddhism in the West, as well as a resurgence of interest in some Asian societies that are traditionally associated with Buddhism. Many people find it difficult to deepen their studies or practice because of the lack of Buddhist texts available in languages that they can comprehend.

Prevent Further Losses:

The world saw the destruction of thousands of works in Sanskrit during the political upheavals in India between the 11th and 13th centuries. But the majority of them had been translated into classical Chinese and Tibetan, in which they were preserved until modern times. The upheavals in China and Tibet during the 20th century came perilously close to a second catastrophic destruction; fortunately, most of the literary heritage, including the canonical works, survived, even if other important texts were lost.

Today, it is in our hands to protect these endangered texts from further loss, and to safeguard this precious legacy for future generations.

Completing the Legacy:

Many of the texts in the Tibetan Buddhist collections no longer exist in any other language. When they have been translated, these texts will complement the Pali Canon and Chinese Tripitaka to form the broadest possible base of Buddhist textual collections.

These collections will serve as an important foundation for comparative research across the three main existing schools of Buddhism––the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana.

New insight into the evolution of Buddhist philosophy and narratives over the centuries and across different cultures will be revealed, benefiting both the secular––the academic researchers and general public; and the religious––Buddhist teachers, students and practitioners.

Over the centuries, translation has played a crucial role in the survival and revival of Buddhism.

Buddhist traditions that still exist in some parts of the world, such as Japan, China, Korea, Tibet, Bhutan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Burma, have survived in large part because our ancestors compiled and translated many of the original texts into their own languages.


The first collections of the Buddhist texts were compiled in Pali and Sanskrit. The Pali texts had been taken to Sri Lanka and survived; most of the Sanskrit texts were lost in the Muslim invasions that destroyed the Buddhist culture of northern India between the 11th and 13th centuries. Fortunately, by then most of the texts had already been translated into classical Chinese and Tibetan.

The three major collections of sacred Buddhist texts that have survived are:

  • The Pali Canon or Tipitaka
  • The Chinese Buddhist Canon or Chinese Tripitaka
  • The Tibetan Kangyur and Tengyur

The classical Chinese translations started in the 1st century when Chinese pioneers and Indian scholars began to introduce Buddhism to China. The classical Tibetan translations followed later during the unparalleled state-sponsored cultural transfer of the Buddhist teachings into Tibet from the 8th century onwards .

The Tibetan collection contains a large number of texts not found in the Chinese canon, particularly tantras, and there are some Chinese texts that do not exist in Tibetan.

To ensure the continued survival of these timeless texts, and to make the profound meanings they contain accessible to all, they need to be translated into the languages used in the world today.

84000 Translators

No. of Teams: 33  teams
No. of Translators: 173 translators
No. of Reviewers: 24 reviewers

Abhidhanottara Translation Project:

Dr. David B. Gray, Santa Clara University
Peter-Daniel Szanto, University of Oxford
Shaman Hatley, Concordia University of Montreal
Olga Serbaeva, University of Zurich

Annie Bien and team

Annie Bien, Columbia University
Geshe Dorji Damdul, Tibet House
Dr. Paul Hackett, Columbia University, International Buddhist College
Dr. Robert Thurman, Columbia University
Dr. Shrikant Bahulkar, University of Pune
Dr. Bo Jiang, Columbia University
Leslie Kriesel, Columbia University Press

Anne Burchardi and team:

Dr. Anne Burchardi, University of Copenhagen
Tulku Dakpa Rinpoche, Danakosha Dharma Center
Dr. Ulrich Pagel, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

Bhaiṣajyavastu Translation Team:

Dr. Fumi Yao, The University of Tokyo
Shayne Clarke, McMaster University
Gregory Schopen, University of California
Masahiro Shimoda, The University of Tokyo

Blazing Wisdom Translation Group:

Virginia Blum, Drikung Kagyu Institute
Khenpo Sonam Tobgyal Rinpoche, Riwoche Tibetan Buddhist Temple
Tulku Sherdor Rinpoche, Blazing Wisdom Institute
Meghan Howard, UC Berkeley
Hans C.Schmidt, Blazing Wisdom Institute

Bruno Galasek and Team:

Bruno Galasek
Lama Kunga Thartse Rinpoche, Ewam Choden Tibetan Buddhist Center

Buddhavacana Translation Group:

Gregory Forgues, University of Vienna
Rolf Scheuermann, University of Vienna
Casey Kemp, University of Vienna
Dennis Johnson, University of Vienna Library
Honza Dolensky, University of Vienna
Xie Zhuoran, University of Vienna
Khenpo Konchok Tamphel, Songtsen Library

Dharmachakra Translation Committee:

Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery
Khenpo Trogpa Tulku
Khenpo Urgyen Tenpel
Lama Tenzin Sangpo
Karma Ozer Lama, Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery
Dr. Andreas Doctor, Rangjung Yeshe Institiute/Kathmandu University
Dr. James Gentry, Harvard University
Dr. Joseph McClennan
Dr. Mattia Salvini, Mahidol University
Dr. Thomas Doctor, Kathmandu University
Ven. Ani Jinpa (Eugenie De Jong)
Alex Yiannopoulos
Anders Bjornback
Anna Zilman, Rangjung Yeshe Institute
Benjamin Cassard, Rangjung Yeshe Institute
Benjamin Collett
Catherine Dalton, Rangjung Yeshe Institute/UC Berkeley
Guillaume Avertin
Heidi Koppl
Miguel Fares Sawaya, Rangjung Yeshe Institute
Nika Jovic
Ryan Damron, UC Berkeley/Rangjung Yeshe Gomde California
Timothy Hinkle
Wiesiek Mical, Kathmandu University
Zachary Beer, UC Berkeley

Dharmasagara Translation Group

Raktrul Ngawang Kunga Rinpoche (Pema Dorjee), Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö Institute
Rebecca Hufen, University of Hamburg
Jason Sanche, Siddhartha’s Intent
Shanshan Jia, University of Hamburg
Arne Schelling, Siddhartha’s Intent

Dr. Gareth Sparham

Four Reliances Translations:

David Rawson, Sera Jey Monastic University
Geshe Yama Rinchen, Sera Jey
Karma Samten, Sera Jey
Russell Shipman, Waikato Compassion Meditation Centre

Gangtok Translation Group:

Thomas Cruijsen, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
Khenpo Chowang, Sikkim Institute of Higher Nyingma Studies
Tashi Tenzing, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology

Garchen Buddhist Institute:

H.E. Garchen Rinpoche, Garchen Buddhist Institute
Khenpo Nyima Gyaltsen, Jangchubling Monastery
Ven. Lama Gape, Garchen Buddhist Institute
Khenpo Könchog Mönlam, Jangchubling, Dehradun
Khenmo Trinlay Chödrön, Tibetan Meditation Center
Ven. Lobsang Norbu Shastri, Central University of Tibetan Studies (CUTS)
Ven. Könchog Tharchin, Tibetan Meditation Center
Ven. Master Jian Deng, Chung Tai Chan Monastery
Khenpo Gawang, Pema Karpo Meditation Center
Khenpo Samdrub, Gar Drolma Choling Buddhist Center
Ina Bieler, Garchen Buddhist Institute
Samantha Hung, Dipa Foundation / UCLA
Dr. Kay Candler, St. Joseph’s University
Prof. Dr. Sumanapala Galmangoda, Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies
Mr. Stephen K. Hayes

Karen Liljenberg and team:

Karen Liljenberg, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London
Dr. Ulrich Pagel, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

Karma Gyaltsen Ling:

Maurizio Pontiggia (Lama Tsering Wangchuk), Thessaloniki Buddhist Center ‘Karma Gyaltsen Ling’
Chryse Tringos-Allen, Perrotis College, American Farm School
Dr. Ariadni Gerouki, Thessaloniki Buddhist Center ‘Karma Gyaltsen Ling’

Nalanda Translation Committee:

Scott Wellenbach
Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen, Naropa
Larry Mermelstein
Jacqueline Connaughton
Jessie Litven
Ryan Jones
David Birch
Andy Karr
Linda Lewis
Robert Vogler

Padmakara Translation Group:

Pema Wangyal Rinpoche, Association du Centre d’Etudes de Chanteloube
Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche, Association du Centre d’Etudes de Chanteloube
Dr. John Canti, Padmakara Translation Group
Dr. Gyurme Dorje, University of London
Greg Seton
Charles Hastings

Peter Roberts and team:

Dr. Peter Alan Roberts
Emily Bower, Shambhala International Community
Guilaine Mala
Yeshe Tulku, Sakya Monastery
Geoff Picus

Prof. Peter Skilling

Ratnaśrī Translation Group

His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang, Drikung Kagyu Institute
Acharya Khenpo Konchok Tamphel, Songtsen Library
Khenpo Konchok Sherab, Songtsen Library
Acharya Shanta Kumar Negi, Private Office of His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang
Dr. Kay Candler, St. Joseph’s University ELS

Robert Mayer and team:

Dr. Robert Mayer, University of Oxford
Dr. Cathy Cantwell, University of Oxford
Khenpo Gyurme Tsultrim, Shechen Shedra
Ven. Changling Rinpoche, Shechen Monastery
Lopon P. Ogyan Tanzin, Central University of Tibetan Studies (CUTS)
Lama Kunzang Dorje, Jangsa Gompa
Prof. Vesna Wallace, UC Santa Barbara

Robert Miller and team:

Robert Miller (Ven. Lozang Zöpa), Lhundrub Chime Gatsal Ling
Diana Finnegan (Ven. Lhundup Damchö)
Haiyan Hu-von Hinüber, Konfuzius-Institutan der Universität Freiburg
Matthew Wuethrich
Maurice Ozaine, Konfuzius-Institutan der Universität Freiburg
Geshé Tséwang Nyima, Drepung Loseling
Geshé Rinchen Ngödrup, Sera Je Monastery

Sakya Pandita Translation Group

(Tsechen Kunchab Ling and International Buddhist Academy):

Ven. Khenpo Kalsang Gyaltsen, Tsechen Kunchab Ling
Ven. Dr. Khenpo Ngawang Jorden, International Buddhist Academy
Rev. Dr. Chodrung Kunga, Vassar College/Tsechen Kunchab Ling
Ven. Lama Jampa Losal, International Buddhist Academy
Dr. C. Upender Rao, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Yangchen Dolkar Tsatultsang, International Buddhist Academy
Ven. Jampa Tenzing Bhutia, International Buddhist Academy
Ven. Tashi Sangpo, International Buddhist Academy
Ven. Ngawang Tenzin Gurung, International Buddhist Academy
Christian Bernert, Institute for Buddhist Studies
Emma T. Cobb, University of Vienna
Julia C. Stenzel, International Buddhist Academy

Sarasvatī Translation Team:

Dr. Shenghai Li, Harvard University
Zhuo Siyu, Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT)
Steven Rhodes, Shambhala Publications

Sonam Tsering and team:

Sonam Tsering, Columbia University
Norzin Dolma

Tenpa Tsering and team:

Tenpa Tsering, Central University of Tibetan Studies (CUTS)
Khentrul Gyurme Dorje, Mindroling Monastery Clement Town
Davis A. Baltz, Sarnath International Nyingma Institute

The Norwegian Institute of Palaeography and Historical Philology (PHI):

Jens Braarvig, University of Oslo
David Welsh
Fredrik Liland, University of Oslo
Andrew Skilton, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

Tibetan Classics Translators Guild of New York:

Dr. Geshe Lozang Jamspal, International Buddhist College
Dr. Toy-Fung Tung, John Jay College
Natalie Hauptman, Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center
Irene Cannon-Geary, Columbia University
Norman Guberman
Thomas Kyle Fischer, Burke Library, Columbia University

UCSB Buddhist Studies Translation Group:

Jake Nagasawa, University of California, Santa Barbara
Erdene Baatar Erdene-Ochir, University of California, Santa Barbara
Jaakko Takkinen, University of California, Santa Barbara
José I.Cabezón, University of California, Santa Barbara

University of Calgary Buddhist Studies:

James B. Apple, Ph.D., University of Calgary
Shinobu A. Apple,Ph.D., University of Calgary

University of Toronto:

Prof. Frances Garrett, University of Toronto
Khenpo Kunga Sherab, University of Toronto
Dr. Gareth Sparham, UC Berkeley
Ben Wood, University of Toronto
Amanda Goodman, University of Toronto

University of the West:

Dr. Joshua Capitanio, University of the West
Victor Gabriel, University of the West
Dr. Miroj Shakya, University of the West

Vikramashila Translation House:

Samantha Hung, Dipa Foundation / UCLA
H.H. the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, Drikung Kagyu Institute
Khenpo Nyima Gyaltsen, Kagyu College
Nubpa Rinpoche, Rinchen Ling Monastery
Khenpo Konchok Monlam, Kagyu College
Tracy Howard, Columbia University
Meghan Howard, UC Berkeley
Ven. Konchog Tharcin, Tibetan Meditation Center
Ven. Master Jian Deng, Chung Tai Chan Monastery
Kay Candler, St. Joseph’s University



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