TALKING TEXTS & TRANSLATION
The series is hosted by Karin Meyers, Academic Director of Mangalam Research Center.
Translating the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa Sūtra
Dr. Paul Harrison
Thursday, 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.”