We are not the Center of the Universe
from Khenpo Ngawang Dorjee
On February 18, 2012 I created a website and called it the Great Treasury of Tibetan Buddhist Culture (Nang bstan rig mdzod chen mo) because it is a depository for the Tibetan religion, culture, and local traditions.
The reason for creating this website is that, much like a butter lamp in the wind, the Tibetan language and culture have reached a vulnerable situation. If we do not protect and preserve this religious culture soon, it may disappear. If it disappears, it would not only be a loss for the Tibetan people, but a unique culture would be lost to all of humanity.
Although there are a few different means for preserving Tibetan culture, I think a digital depository for Tibetan culture is the best means for its swift preservation. For example, if Tibetan religious and cultural texts were digitized and uploaded to the internet, as long as the internet remains, Tibetan culture will never diminish. Thus I have decided to digitize the entire corpus of Tibetan culture.
The Goals of Rigzod
Although there are some other digital centers for Tibetan culture, these have all proven to be insufficient for different reasons. Some are centers for the buying and selling of Tibetan texts and goods.
Some are empty advertisements and examples of mere self-promotion. Some suffer from a biased approach in which only one sect or place is presented and all other religious or regional cultures are ignored. Finally there are some sites which use interfaces that are littered with English words or words of other languages that make these sites difficult to navigate for visitors who lack sufficient knowledge of those foreign languages.
Such websites do not meet the needs for quickly preserving the Tibetan culture. Rimdzod’s goals entail directly redressing these inadequacies.
The Unique Features of the Rigzod Website
The Great Treasury of Tibetan Buddhist Culture has four features that other similar websites have failed to achieve.
First, the interface is solely expressed in the Tibetan language for Tibetan speakers and without the use of foreign terminology or languages. Second, we plan to represent all elements of Tibetan religion and culture without any sectarian bias or distinction.
Third, unlike other sites that merely display scanned pdf documents intended for reading, all of our texts will be input so that they can be fully utilized for searching and copying.
Finally, because new technology, such as Apple’s iPod, iPhone, iPad, and so forth, continues to become widely available, our website will uniquely offer modern Tibetan ebooks with full covers and tables of contents available to the public for free download.
The Rigzod Strategy
Starting with the two corpuses of the Tibetan canon, the Translated Words of the Buddha (Kangyur) and the Translated Treatises (Tengyur), we plan to ecumenically input and upload all major texts and collected works of Tibetan scholars, works about traditional Tibetan culture, contemporary literature, the Gesar Epic, and even terminology from songs, sayings, games, entertainment, and other realms of daily life.
We plan to have these works both available on the website itself and in downloadable ebook format.
The Accomplishments of Rigzod
Over the past year, together we have finished inputting over 150 texts which are currently available for download and reading on the Cultural Treasury website.
About the website
We have a daily usage on our website of 600-700 hits mostly from inside Tibet. These visitors are using the website to download ebooks for free.
In addition, many people inside Tibet from monasteries and schools are sending me Tibetan texts so that I can convert them to ebooks too. We now have more than 150 ebooks on the website, the majority of which have come directly from Tibet.
The Challenges Rigzod Faces
The primary obstacle for the continuation of this work has been funding. Dr. Thupten Jinpa from Canada has contributed to fund a year of salaries for two individuals for the input of Tibetan texts. Therefore, we now have two Tibetans in India working on this project. Other than that, we have no financial support for the Tibetan Cultural Treasury project, and Thupten Jinpa’s generous contribution is set to expire at the end of this year.
All other expenses have come out of my own personal funds. Although I have dedicated myself to working on this project even if it takes the of my life, our goals can be more quickly accomplished with financial support. Such support will go in particular to the following:
- The ongoing input of Tibetan texts.
- The maintenance and development of our website.
- A more powerful, desktop computer for the development of ebooks.
Because our work cannot continue without further funding, I humbly request your financial support. Thank you very much for your consideration.
Khenpo Ngawang Dorjee
1889 Fiddlestick Ln
Charlottesville, VA 22903