Translation & Transmission Conferences

In recent years, a number of conferences dedicated to different aspects of the translation of Buddhist literature have taken place around the world. The 2008 Translators Conference held in Boulder, Colorado was an essential development in the field and paved the way for future conferences. In April 2011 Buddhist publishers and the Tsadra staff, fellows, and grantees gathered from around the world to share their work and ideas. This inspiring meeting was the seed for the development of a concerted effort on Tsadra Foundation’s part to support future conferences.

Tsadra Foundation launched a series of conferences and workshops to provide an international forum for sustained dialogue and the sharing of ideas and experiences for translators of Tibetan texts. With community building our main goal, these gatherings have been an unmitigated success, bring together scholars from 34 different universities with representatives of over 43 translation groups and sangha organizations.

The inaugural conference was held in Keystone, Colorado in October 2014 and the second conference was held at the University of Colorado, Boulder in June 2017. The meetings have included daily keynote speeches from some of the most accomplished scholars of translation and Buddhist studies, such as José Cabezón, Janet Gyatso, David Bellos, Susan Bassnett, and Jan Nattier. There were also special events with such luminaries as Robert Thurman, Jeffrey Hopkins, Thupten Jinpa and Donald Lopez, Jr. The conferences also included specialized workshops for translators and open discussion sessions for practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism.

Explore the content of each session from any one of the conferences in the links above. If you missed any part of the conferences, or want to review a session, all the contents are available online, along with supporting documents, presentations, recordings, and pictures.

The purpose of the Translation & Transmission Conference Series is to provide an international forum for sustained dialogue and the sharing of ideas and experiences, as well as for collective reflection on the larger cultural and societal dimensions of the transmission of Tibetan Buddhism to the contemporary sphere. These conferences are not a showcase for any single project or institution but an opportunity for all to gather in an open and collegial spirit.

Revisit the Conferences

The Proto-History of Buddhist Translation: From Gāndhārī and Pāli to Han-Dynasty Chinese

Discussions of the history of Buddhist translation usually begin with China, where in the middle of the second century Buddhist scriptures were translated into a non-Indian language for the first time. Yet the process of translation itself began many centuries earlier, when the words of the Buddha were rendered into a multitude of Indian vernaculars.

Be Kind to Your Reader

In this first keynote speech of the Translation & Transmission Conference series, we hear from internationally renowned scholar and translator David Bellos on a wide range of topics including his approach to translation, uses and misuses of xenisms, translationese, translation history, and an important reminder to “be kind to the reader.”