The English translation project of the Buddhist Canon began in January 1982, when Rev. Dr. Yehan Numata, the founder of BDK (Society for the Promotion of Buddhism), established the Editorial Committee of the English Tripiṭaka Translation Project in order to make knowledge of Buddhism available to many people throughout the world. The Buddhist scriptures known as "sutras" constitute a part of the Tripiṭaka (three collections). "Tripiṭaka" is comprised of the Sutra Pitaka, the Discipline Pitaka, and the Commentary Piṭaka. "Piṭaka" in "Tripiṭaka" means "collection." The Collection of Sutras refers to the teachings taught by the Buddha, the Collection of Discipline refers to the regulations of the lives of monks and nuns, and the Collection of Commentaries refers to the commentaries on the first two collections. The English Translation of the Buddhist Canon is based on the Taisho Buddhist Canon. From 1924, the late Dr. Junjiro Takakusu (1866-1945), who is known as the father of modern Indian Buddhist Studies in Japan, along with the late Rev. Kaikyoku Watanabe (1872-1933) took ten years to compile a great collection of Chinese translations of Buddhist scriptures. The collection incorporated the scriptures from India and China as well as important literatures and scriptures of Japanese Buddhism. The academic value of those books are highly regarded in the world as a standard of Chinese translations of Buddhist scriptures. translation project of the Buddhist Canon can be said to be one of the greatest heritages of the Oriental world and the project attracted the world’s attention even though it had to overcome great difficulties.
The late Rev. Dr. Yehan Numata originally started the English Translation of the Buddhist canon and Publication Project in January 1982. Although BDK had already translated “The Teaching of Buddha” into various languages and distributed them to hotels throughout the world at the time, he made up his mind to translate all the Buddhist scriptures from which “The Teaching of Buddha” had been drawn, and that was the beginning of the English translation project of the “Taisho Canon.” The project surprised most people in Buddhist Studies. Japanese scholar monks were skilled in the Chinese language, and they traditionally used the Chinese translations as they were. Therefore, no one ever thought of translating the Chinese canon intor English since it had not even been translated into Japanese. Everyone could not believe that it would happen, however, Yehan Numata established the Editorial Committee of the English Buddhist Canon only six months after he first came up with the idea, and he then established the Numata Center for Translation and Research in Berkeley, California in the United States two years later. The editorial committee selected 139 works for the first stage of its project and decided that they would publish those translations in 100 volumes, which amounted to one-tenth of the entire canon. Realizing the extreme difficulty of translating the voluminous Taisho Buddhist Canon in a short period of time and of completing everything by the end of the twentieth century, the Editorial Committee established the Publication Committee in the Numata Center in 1991, and published the “Mahāyānasaṃgraha” as the very first volume in 1993. As of today, 81 works have been translated and published in 48 volumes to make up the “English Buddhist Canon.” The remaining works are being translated by Buddhist scholars in over ten countries throughout the world. We are making every effort to complete the first stage of the project at the earliest possible time.
BDK publishes the English Tripiṭaka Translations as print books, and also makes the texts available for people throughout the world to read on the internet. BDK distributes PDF versions of the English Tripiṭaka Translations through the BDK official website and collaborates with the SAT Daizōkyō text database project. Every year, we publish 『MAHAPITAKA』, which is the English Tripiṭaka Translation project newsletter. The newsletter reports the latest news of the project with information about the future publication schedule and makes available reviews of previously published volumes. In addition to the publications themselves, it shares reports from translators who have participated in academic conferences and thereby conveys the current international situation Buddhist studies.
We are pleased to be able to make available the fruits of the BDK TripiṬaka Translation Series in collaboration with the SAT Daizōkyō text database project. This is the entrance page to the BDK English translations in the SAT website. In the following pages, you can not only browse the English translations but also consult the original Chinese texts and Digital Dictionary of Buddhism, along with a range of other resources.