Fellowship in Southeast Asian Manuscripts

Dear all,

I don’t know if it’s ok to post this here, but I just thought some of you could be interested in this Fellowship in Southeast Asian Buddhist Manuscripts:

All the best,



Thank you for sharing it here, Elie,


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It’s fantastic to see some resources being put into this area! Understanding and maintaining our manuscripts has been a core part of Buddhist heritage for 2,000 years. We shouldn’t stop now.

To put it in perspective. Consider the Early Buddhist Texts found on SuttaCentral. There are thousands of manuscript copies of these texts. Of these, I’d guess a couple of dozen have been used as the basis for all the modern texts we see in print or digital form. Those couple of dozen were chosen effectively at random, based solely on what happened to be available to editors. Western editors relied on the random sample of manuscripts that happened to make their way into European collections, while Asian editors apparently usually relied on what was available in the monasteries of their own tradition. There’s never been a scientific process to assess the relative value of manuscripts, nor a process to evaluate the process of selection.

That tiny sample of manuscripts was then edited by modern scholars, using the slight resources available to them, and lacking any systematic procedure or means of assessment of their work.

This is not to say that any of these people have done a bad job, or even that it could have been different: workers did what they could with what they had.

But if the manuscripts disappear, we will never have any way of assessing this work. The only Pali texts will be the modern editions. Right now we have a window into the past of Pali manuscripts that lets us see back several hundred years. That window is closing, and if we don’t take care, our only Pali records will go back a little over a century.

The situation is even more dire in the case of later texts, which in many cases have never been published in modern editions.