East Asia Library acquires two new sets of Tibetan Buddhist canonical texts

August 13, 2018
Joshua Capitanio
Kanjur and Tanjur

The East Asia Library recently acquired two large sets of Tibetan Buddhist canonical materials, the comparative (dpe bsdur ma) editions of the Kanjur (Bka' 'gyur) and Tanjur (Bstan 'gyur), which contain over four thousand Buddhist texts in the Tibetan language.

Tibetan Buddhists have traditionally divided the vast quantity of Indic Buddhist literature that was transmitted to Tibet into two canonical collections.  The Kanjur/Kangyur contains scriptural texts such as sutras and tantras that were believed to have been spoken by the Buddha, while the Tanjur/Tengyur contains translations of treatises and commentaries written by later authors.  There are a number of different manuscript and printed editions for each of these collections.  These new comparative editions of the Kanjur and Tanjur were produced by a large team of scholars working in the PRC for over twenty years.  Bound in codex form rather than the traditional looseleaf format (known as pothi or pecha), these new versions consist of critical editions based largely on the well-known Dege (Sde rge) printing of the Kanjur and Tanjur, accompanied by a critical apparatus showing variant readings from a number of other editions, including the Yongle, Lithang, Beijing (Kangxi), Narthang, Cone, Urga, and Zhol editions of the Kanjur, and the Beijing, Narthang, and Cone versions of the Tanjur.  The addition of the critical apparatus makes this collection an extremely valuable resource for scholars working with these Tibetan canonical materials.  Due to copyright restrictions, these sets cannot be accessed through the Buddhist Digital Resource Center, the large database of electronic Tibetan Buddhist texts to which Stanford subscribes, so we are glad to be able to finally make these important research materials available for Stanford scholars.

The comparative Kanjur and Tanjur are currently housed in SAL1&2, Stanford Libraries' on-campus auxiliary library facility.  They can be viewed during SAL1&2's regular operating hours, or users may page individual volumes to the library of their choice.  A catalog of the comparative Kanjur is currently available, and a similar catalog for the comparative Tanjur is forthcoming.