Lecture: Reconstructing a Tibetan Mahratnakütasutra Collection Translated from Chinese

University of Oxford

Great Compassion Lecture Series in Buddhist Studies

Title: Reconstructing a Tibetan Mahāratnakūṭasūtra Collection Translated from Chinese: New Light on the Early Translation History of Dkon Brtsegs Based on Dunhuang Manuscripts.

Speaker: Dr. Channa Li, The Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia, Austrian Academy of Sciences

Time: 2-3 PM (CEST).  June 14th, 2024.

Online: All Welcome, registration required.

Register link: Online Lecture Registration


Canons, serving as frameworks of accepted norms and standards, are dynamic entities that evolve alongside societal changes and shifting perspectives. This dynamic process of canonization is exemplified in Tibetan Buddhism, where the corpus of authoritative texts has continually expanded and undergone updates or even replacements from the imperial period to the classical era. In this talk, I aim to showcase how Tibetan Buddhists updated the actual translation versions of a mini-canon entitled Dkon mchog brtsegs pa chen po (Skt. Mahāratnakūṭasūtra). Relying on new discoveries of extracanonical texts from Dunhuang, I will argue for the existence of an attempted initiative (or, initiatives) to translate a complete Dkon mchog brtsegs pa chen po from its Chinese parallel Da baoji jing 大寶積經 during the Tibetan imperial time, although most of the translations in this attempted initiative were not collected in the Tibetan canon that gradually took shape after the 14th century. 

Short biography

a Post-doc at the IKGA since 2019, researching the transmission of Buddhism in China. She is also part of the “Sanskrit texts from Tibet” project. Li completed her Ph.D. at Leiden University under the supervision of Prof. J.A. Silk from 2013 to 2019. Li’s field of interest ranges widely from the Buddhist cultures and materials along the Silk Road (esp. Dunhuang, Kizil) to the significance of Buddhist narratives in helping to visualize the ideological history of Buddhism in ancient India, China, and Tibet. Li is the project leader of the FWF Esprit Project “The Future Buddha’s Past Lives – On the Maitreyaparipṛcchā” (2023–2026).
Organizers: Oxford Buddhist Studies Society & Longquan Great Compassion Monastery