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Home Newsletters So-Wide Space September 2011 - Tipitaka

So-Wide Space September 2011 - Tipitaka

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So-Wide Space September 2011
Report from Richard Gombrich
New critical edition of the Tipitaka
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Project to create a new critical edition of the Tipiṭaka.

by Richard Gombrich

Wat Phra Dhammakāya, near Bangkok, has an ambitious new project to re-edit the Pali Tipiṭaka. The Director of the Dhammachai Tipiṭaka Project is the Ven. Dr. Phramaha Thanavuddho, Assistant Abbot of the monastery and its Director of Education. The scholar in charge is a Sinhalese, Prof. G.A. Somaratne. Prof. Somaratne is also Rector of the Sri Lanka International Buddhist Academy (SIBA), a private Buddhist university in Sri Lanka; he divides his time equally between the two posts. Prof. Somaratne, who has a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, near Chicago, did postgraduate work with me in Oxford for two years, preparing the new edition of Saṃyutta Nikāya vol.1 which was published by the Pali Text Society.

Early this year several Pali scholars round the world were invited to constitute an Advisory Board for the project. They were then sent a sample of the work, a critical edition of the first 27 paragraphs (according to the PTS numeration) of the Brahmajāla Sutta, which is traditionally placed as the first sutta in the Sutta Piṭaka; this was accompanied by a huge critical apparatus, the chief editor’s explanation of the editorial principles followed, and a draft English translation. Scholars were asked for critical feedback in writing, and also invited to a consultative meeting on 28 June.

In the event five scholars were guests at this meeting: Professors Karunadasa and Meegaskumbura from Sri Lanka, Prof. von Hinüber from Germany, Prof. Masefield(a British scholar residing in Bangkok), and myself. The meeting lasted a full day. It was well organized and the participants were all, I believe, pleased with the outcome. The guests arrived with considerable criticisms, in which they appeared to be unanimous; they were listened to courteously and attentively, and after discussion all their main points seem to have been taken. I consider that Prof. Somaratne deserves much credit for this outcome.

This is not the place to go into detail about the project, but we look forward to hearing more of its progress and seeing the first publications. It is intended that the Pali will first be published in latin script but then also in Sinhala script and all the main scripts used for Pali in SE Asia.



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