This is a bloging site dedicated to Tibetan translation work, tools, resources, concepts, people and much more. The name comes from one of the great Tibetan translators, Drogmi Lotsawa. Also see the Treasury of Lives biography.



Sakya Library

SachenKungaNyingpoAnother great source of Classical Tibetan texts is the Sakya Library. This collection was instituted by the great Sakya teacher Ven. Khenchen Appey Rinpoche, Currently this online collection has:

  • – “Rare and Precious Buddhist Scriptures”, published in 2012 by the International Buddhist Academy in conjunction with Sachen International of Lama Guru, Kathmandu, Nepal.
  •  “The Collection of the Eighteen Renowned Scriptures: Root texts and Commentaries”, published in 2011 by Sachen International in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The first collection has many Sakya commentaries. The second collection has many important Tengyur texts as well.


Tsadra Foundation – Damngak Rinpoché Dzö

JamgonKongtrulAnother qualified and great resource of Tibetan texts online are the offerings from Tsadra Foundation such as  Jamgön Kongtrül‘s Treasury of Precious Instructions (gdams ngag rin po che’i mdzod). All the 18 Volumes of this monumental collection is available at this web site, both in Tibetan Unicode as well as in Wylie. You could also do searches across this collection.

This monumental collection brings together the most important instructions from the most renowned masters of the eight great practice lineages in Tibet.

For example, here is Atisha‘s Lamp On the Path To Enlightenment:  ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་ལམ་གྱི་རིམ་པའི་གཞུང་བྱང་ཆུབ་ལམ་གྱི་སྒྲོན་མ་.




Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC)

SakyaPanditaToday we have plenty of web sites with Tibetan text material – just do a web search with a Tibetan sentence or part of a sentence. In many cases it’s not clear about where the text came from, who edited it, what was the purpose, was this a critical edition or a raw version, does the texts have added typos or misprints and so on. It does not help either that we don’t have a contemporary Tibetan buddhist culture where the source defines the version, similar to the Derge Printing House with its specific Kangyur and Tengyur prints.

It means we need to be careful and use resources and web sites that we know have a history and a known background.

One of these major sites is Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center,  or now called Buddhist Digital Resource Center. Thanks to the efforts of Gene Smith this site has millions of scanned pages available as PDF downloads. Today any serious practitioner could apply for an account at this web site. The site is very easy to use, do a search and you will find texts related to the search. Many other sites now also links to the volumes and texts at this site.

Here’s one example: Collected Works of the Sakya Masters. Sakya Pandita’s thub pa’i dgongs pa rab tu gsal ba (ཐུབ་པའི་དགོངས་པ་རབ་ཏུ་གསལ་བ།).

THL Tibetan to English Translation Tool

VajrapaniThis site now has a Resources page that will list various resources available for translators, tools, web sites, text archives and much more.

But to start with, THL Tibetan to English Translation Tool is a very useful tool for doing quick translations of terms or whole sentences. You could paste in Wylie or Unicode Tibetan and the online translation tool will provide a breakdown of the words and terms, with input from various translation sources (Rangjung Yeshe, Jeffery Hopkins, Dan Martin and many others.)

We will talk more about this tool and how to use it in future postings.

The Beauty of Simple Text Files

Manjushri-2There are so many options concerning saving Tibetan material on a computer. Today  Tibetan Unicode encoding is available on all major platforms so the issue of saving Tibetan in a good long term text format is solved.

Now focus is important as a writer or translator. If there are distractions, then the work will be delayed.  A good example is thinking about layout and formatting. This should be a separate process after the translation is done.

Also if a specific document format is used then long term it’s not sure if the format survives with companies and software packages that are no longer around. But plain text will most likely survive for a very long time.

So the recommendation is to use plain text files using UTF-8 encoding. This means that you could use any good editor for the translation work and import the material to other layout programs. It is also very easy to export this to web pages and other databases.  Computer  searches on your computer will also be easy across multiple files. Finally it makes it possible for you to find the editor that you like. My preferred editor today is Atom, more about that later.


Where to Start?

ManjushriThis is maybe the first question that comes up concerning learning to read classical Tibetan and possibly translate it, for personal use or for the public.

You need a first step and then a continuation taking more steps. Take just anything in Tibetan and try to see patterns. Find the same patterns in other parts of the text.

Look at existing translations, see how parts and the whole are translated. This is very similar to how programmers look at existing source code to understand how it was built and how to use the same elements for future coding purposes.