The Khyentse Center for Tibetan Buddhist Textual Scholarship (KC-TBTS) at the Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies, Asia-Africa Institute, University of Hamburg, was established in January 2011 by Prof. Dr. Dorji Wangchuk with the help of a grant from the Khyentse Foundation (see Funding). The Center is devoted to scholarly investigation of Tibetan (primarily Buddhist) texts with the aim of gaining, to the extent possible, an accurate understanding of:
- Tibetan Buddhist philosophy
- Tibet’s rich intellectual history
- Tibetan textual culture, including formal methods and actual practices of what amounted to textual criticism, scholarly editing of Tibetan texts, and Tibetan book culture (including manuscripts and xylographs)
- Formal methods and actual practices of translation (particularly of Buddhist texts) into and from Tibetan
The Main Objectives of the Center
The main objectives of the Center are:
- launching and maintaining the “Indo-Tibetan Lexical Resource” (ITLR), an online database of Indo-Tibetan lexical items that will include Sanskrit and Tibetan entries, and modern renderings of them, along with references to both primary and secondary sources
- organizing and hosting national and international workshops, symposiums, and individual lectures
- facilitating and granting short-term ITLR research fellowships
- developing and supporting research projects focusing on Tibetan Buddhist textual studies
- supporting publications pertaining to Tibetan Buddhist textual studies
- training students to investigate Tibetan Buddhist texts with the use of historical-philological tools and techniques
The Center’s Intellectual Infrastructure
There are three main reasons why the Center’s location at the Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies under the Asia-Africa Institute of the University of Hamburg is an ideal venue for Tibetan Buddhist textual scholarship.
First, the Department has had a long and internationally recognized tradition of Buddhist and Tibetan studies. The University of Hamburg has always attracted individuals wishing to acquire a solid knowledge of Tibetan Buddhist thought as conveyed through the classical Tibetan Buddhist texts themselves. Some of the best scholars in the field worldwide have taught and/or received their training in Hamburg. (For theses in Tibetan and Indo-Tibetan Studies submitted at the Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies, click here.)
Second, the Department has the ideal academic infrastructure for a Center devoted to Tibetan Buddhist textual studies, for it is home to two further centers with related interests: the Numata Center for Buddhist Studies, founded and directed by Prof. Dr. Michael Zimmermann, an Indologist with Indian Buddhism as his field of specialization; and the Centre for Tantric Studies, founded and directed by Prof. Dr. Harunaga Isaacson, a Sanskritist whose wide-ranging expertise includes Buddhist Tantric texts.
Third, the diversity and richness of the philologically oriented components consolidated under the unique Asia-Africa Institute of the University of Hamburg provide ideal academic conditions for pursuing Tibetan Buddhist textual scholarship. The Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, for example, within which the Department is represented in the form of three sub-projects (one of them in the field of Tibetology), has proven to be an excellent vehicle for close and constructive collaboration.
The KC-TBTS Logo
“Dhīḥ is a means of profound wisdom”
(dhīḥ ni blo gros zab mo’i sgo).
— Mi-pham (1846–1912), Nges shes rin po che’i sgron me’i rtsa ’grel. Chengdu: Si-khron-dpe-skrun-tshogs-pa & Si-khron-mi-rigs-dpe-skrun-khang, 2006, p. 55.13.
The syllable dhīḥ used in the logo of the Center is known as the seed syllable of Mañjuśrī, the Bodhisattva or Buddha of wisdom or intellegence. Mi-pham’s explanation of the syllable dhīḥ as “means of profound wisdom” is derived from its denotation as “intelligence,” “wisdom,” “knowledge,” or “science” (hence its occasional rendering into Tibetan as blo gros). The word sgo (dvāra), literally meaning “door,” “gate,” “passage,” or “entrance,” can also mean, by extention, “a way,” “means,” or “medium.”
Logo-Design: Henning Seidel
List of Related Institutions
- Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies
The Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies covers a wide range of topics in terms of both research and teaching. It particularly focuses on cultural, historical and social issues, with special emphasis on religion, intellectual history, and literature.
- Asia-Africa Institute
The Asia-Africa Institute of the University of Hamburg, within which the Department for Indian and Tibetan Studies and the KC-TBTS are situated, is the largest centre for Asian and African Studies in Germany and can look back to more than a 100-year-long history starting with the founding of the “Kolonialinstitut” in the year 1908.
- Centre for Tantric Studies
The Centre for Tantric Studies exists to further the scholarly investigation of tantric traditions. The University of Hamburg, with its outstanding culture of study in the fields of Indic philology, philosophy and religion, offers a superb environment for research in this field.
- The Nepal-German Manuscript Cataloguing Project
The Nepalese-German Manuscript Cataloguing Project (NGMCP) is the successor of the well-known and widely acknowledged Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project (NGMPP).
- Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures
The goal of this Collaborative Research is to contribute to historical and comparative research on manuscript cultures by means of exemplary studies.
- Numata Center for Buddhist Studies
The Numata Center for Buddhist Studies at the University of Hamburg, founded in 2007, has a unique position in the academic world of continental Europe. It aims to strengthen the study of Buddhism, promote understanding of all aspects of Buddhism among the public, and serve as a forum for discussions and other events.