Lecture Series

Hosted by Karin Meyers, Academic Director of Mangalam Research Center.


Tools for the Budding Lotsawa: A Hands-on Introduction to Resources for the Interpretation and Translation of Tibetan Buddhist Texts

Professor James Gentry
September 29, 2023
10:30am - 12pm & 1:30pm - 3pm

This workshop with Professor James Gentry (Stanford University) will be held in person and online. It is appropriate for students who have already begun their study of classical Tibetan and ideally suited for those who have also studied some Sanskrit.

The recent explosion of online Buddhist textual resources and translation tools is certainly a welcome development. Nonetheless, it can leave students of Buddhist scripture perplexed about how to navigate the plethora of options available and ensure the quality of their resource materials. This workshop introduces a set of key resources—dictionaries, grammars, encyclopedias, indexes, websites, etc.—foundational for the interpretation and translation of Buddhist texts from Tibetan into modern languages. Its aim is to help equip students, translators, and scholars relatively new to the study of Buddhism in the Tibetan language with the toolkit necessary to advance their training and help them evaluate the scope and merit of the various resources available. It will address resources for Buddhist texts translated into Tibetan from Sanskrit or Chinese source texts, as well those for indigenous Tibetan compositions.

Two sessions on Friday, September 29, 2023: 10:30am – 12pm and 1:30pm – 3:00 pm PDT at Mangalam Research Center, 2018 Allston Way, Berkeley or on Zoom. If you are in the Bay Area do come in person as we will also be handling some physical books.

James Gentry is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies. He specializes in Tibetan Buddhism, with particular focus on the literature and history of its Tantric traditions. He is the author of Power Objects in Tibetan Buddhism: The Life, Writings, and Legacy of Sokdokpa Lodrö Gyeltsen, which examines the roles of Tantric material and sensory objects in the lives and institutions of Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhists.


Reading as Ritual: Rethinking Textual Engagement Through the Mahāyāna Sūtras

Dr. Natalie Gummer
Monday, March 13, 2023

Textual engagement always takes place within a cosmology of reading that shapes and is shaped by metaphors that instruct us in specific reading practices and their promised effects. In this presentation, Gummer explores what “reading” entails when we situate Mahāyāna sūtras within the sacrificial cosmology that they themselves assume and invoke. She also offers some comparative reflections on the quite different cosmologies that are assumed and invoked in contemporary reading practices

Natalie Gummer, who received her PhD in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University, is Professor of Religious Studies at Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin. Her research examines textual practices in premodern Mahāyāna Buddhist literary cultures and their potential value in contemporary ethical and philosophical debates. She is editor of The Language of the Sūtras: Essays in Honor of Luis Gómez and is currently completing a book on performativity and embodiment in Mahāyāna sūtras.

This event will held be in-person at Mangalam Research Center, 2018 Allston Way in downtown Berkeley. Please register in advance. 


Translating the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa Sūtra

Dr. Paul Harrison
April 21, 2022

In 1999, a Sanskrit version of the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa, long thought lost, was discovered in the Potala Palace in Lhasa by a team of scholars from Taishō University in Japan, who then presented it to the world in a series of landmark publications. Previous English renderings of this classic Mahāyāna text had been based on Chinese or Tibetan translations and not the Indic Sanskrit. Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages sponsored a three-week workshop on the newly discovered text in 2010, led by five eminent scholars. At the end of the workshop, the decision was made to prepare a full translation.

Building on the initial efforts of workshop participants and working closely with Luis Gómez before he passed away, Paul Harrison, the George Edwin Burnell Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University, has carried the English translation to completion. The result is a careful and scholarly treatment of this enduring text by two dedicated interpreters and translators of Buddhist literature. Elegantly translated and easily readable, this is a major contribution to the study and understanding of this playful and complex text.

Join Mangalam Research Center Academic Director, Karin Meyers for an interview with Paul Harrison on the text, translation and place of the work in Mahāyāna Buddhist thought.

Paul Harrison (he/him) is the George Edwin Burnell Professor of Religious Studies, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, and Co-Director of the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford University. He specializes in Buddhist literature and history, especially that of the Mahāyāna, and in the study of Buddhist manuscripts in Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan. He is the author of The Samādhi of Direct Encounter with the Buddhas of the Present, and numerous articles on Buddhist sacred texts and their interpretation. He is also one of the editors of the series “Buddhist Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection.”


Computing the Dharma

Dr. Ligeia Lugli
July 31, 2021

A lecture by Ligeia Lugli, Director of the Buddhist Translator’s Workbench.


Sound & Meaning: Chanting in the Study of Buddhist Sanskrit

Dr. Mattia Salvini
July 22, 2021

This talk discusses how chanting helps in learning Sanskrit and also facilitates the understanding of Buddhist philosophical texts.

Support Talking Texts & Translation

Your offering will support the speaker for their time and help offset the costs of hosting these conversations. Mangalam Research Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all donations are tax-deductible.