The 84000 Buddhist Texts Translation Initiative at UC Santa Barbara

The 84000 Buddhist Texts Translation Initiative (BTTI) is a collaborative project of the UCSB Religious Studies Department and 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha. It was founded in 2021.

The BTTI has four main goals: (1) to promote the translation of the Tibetan Buddhist canon, (2) to promote the study of Buddhist texts, their historical and cultural contexts, and theories and methods of translation, (3) to provide training to students and visiting scholars in translation techniques and practices, and (4) to promote scholarly exchange between scholars with expertise in the translation of Buddhist texts from Tibetan and other Buddhist languages. These activities take place in the classroom, in informal reading groups, and in sponsored talks and conferences.

The BTTI is housed within the Religious Studies Department. It is also affiliated with Translation Studies.

The Religious Studies Department is one of the largest, oldest, and most diverse religious studies departments in the United States. With 24 full-time ladder faculty, 7 full-time lecturers, and numerous affiliated faculty from across the university, the Department teaches a variety of religions and methodological approaches to the study of religion. It also teaches 10 critical languages, including several Buddhist languages: Tibetan, Sanskrit, and Mongolian. Chinese and Japanese are taught in our sister department, East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies.

Buddhist Studies is one of the principal areas of study within the Religious Studies graduate program, with faculty expertise in India, China, Japan, Tibet, and Mongolia. Besides learning about Buddhist history, doctrines, and cultural practices in different areas of the world, Buddhist Studies graduate students also learn to read and translate Buddhist text in specialized text-reading classes. The UCSB Library is also home to the Tibetan Studies Collection and Reading Room.

84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha is a global nonprofit whose goal is to translate the Tibetan Buddhist Canon into modern languages and to make it freely accessible for primary-source scholarship, independent study, and personal practice. It has a 25-year mission to translate the portion of the canon known as the Kangyur, the 108 volumes considered to be the Buddha’s word, and a 100-year mission to translate the Tengyur, 224 volumes of treatises and commentaries written mostly by ancient Indian scholars. Only 23% of the Kangyur has been translated and published to date (read more about 84000’s translation progress here). You can read some of these translations by visiting the 84000 Reading Room.

With the generous support of the 84000, the Buddhist Text Translation Initiative provides translation fellowships for UCSB students and offers public programming related to the translation and study of classical Buddhist texts.