It is delightful to know that a Bhutanese Lama is heading a team of Buddhist scholars to translate the Buddhist Canon or Kangyur into English. This is, of course, a globally colossal task indeed!
The Bhutanese Lama is none other than the internationally renowned Bhutanese Buddhist master, His Eminence Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche. His father was the Dzogchen master, Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, the son of Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche, and his mother was Aum Jamyang, the daughter of Mahasidha Lama Sonam Zangpo.
Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche was born in 1961 at a remote sacred and solitary site of Khenpajong in Lhuentse, stated to have been re-discovered by Ugyen Pema Lingpa, the famous Bhutanese Terton. He was recognized as the re-incarnation of HE Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro(1893-1959). From early childhood, he studied with some of the outstanding contemporary masters of the time, notably HE Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche(1910-1991).
The Buddhist Canon known as Kangyur refers to the translated words of the Buddha, compiled in a collection which contains the scriptures of both the sutras. The translation of the Kangyur, from the classical Dharma language of Choekey to English, the Buddhist teachings will no doubt become well established and fully assimilated throughout the world and serve as an unceasing source of inspiration. The vast and profound body of teachings expounded by the Buddha is the ultimate source of benefit and happiness for all beings.
A majority of the teachings by the Buddha, all three yanas, are presently preserved only in the Choekey language. The gargantuan effort being initiated by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, in translating the rich corpus of Buddhist literature, will definately be a boon within the global community and also help to enhance the profound development philosophy of Gross National Happiness enunciated by our beloved 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the modern turbulent world of materialism.
The Choekey literally means “dharma language” which is a specialized version of the language used to express the Buddhist teachings as opposed to the Phalkey, a common version of the language used for general communication in Bhutan.
The Choekey is a beautiful language, powerful and interesting, in its own right. And what’s more, the knowledge of the classical Choekey can contribute significantly to one’s dharma study and practice. In fact, to study the classical Choekey is to study dharma. The Buddhist texts were written and translated by self realized masters who were also great literary masters with the sole motive to liberate the sentient beings. The specialized language that they created to convey the innermost essence of the Buddha’s teachings is profoundly inspirational. The classical language Choekey is a finely crafted vehicle fashioned by enlightened beings to awaken the mind.
Historically, the Buddhist translation works have played a crucial role in spreading Buddhism, particularly to the west. Over the last three to four decades, Buddhism has won tremendous respect and acknowledgement in the world at large, due largely to its universal characteristic dimension that Buddhism is not culturally bound to any particular society, race or group. Generally, it moves very easily from one culture to another because Buddhism emphasizes on the internal practice rather than on external practices highlighting on the way you develop your mind rather than the way you dress.
In Bhutan, we call Buddhists as Nangpa meaning an “insider” as the spiritual practice and view of Buddhism is mainly concerned with the development of the mind. At the same time, Buddhism does not maintain that our world and existence are controlled by supernatural beings or by any supernatural power outside of our own mind.
The vast and profound body of teachings expounded by the Buddha is impecably recorded in the Kangyur, the rich vein of authentic scriptural material and the ultimate source of benefit and happiness for all beings.
If one knows not the alphabet of Choekey, one has lived only half a human life.
By Sangye Wangdi
Bhutan Professional Translation Services