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The Great Tibetan Translator
The Great Tibetan Translator
Ralf Kramer

The Great Tibetan Translator

Life and Works of rNgog Blo ldan shes rab (1059–1109)

INDUS VERLAG, Munich 2007
180 pages, cloth-binding
ISBN 978-3-940659-00-2

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Second only to the famous Rin chen bzang po (958–1055) in receiv­ing the title of a “Great Translator” (lo chen) during the period of the “Later Propa­gation” (phyi dar) of Buddhism in Tibet, rNgog lo tsā ba Blo ldan shes rab (or rNgog lo) was one of the most influential figures in the establishment of Tibetan Buddhist scho­las­ticism. After having devoted seventeen years of his life to the study of Sanskrit under scholars in Kashmir, India and Nepal, he became renowned for his more than fifty painstaking trans­lations and revi­­sions of Bud­dhist scriptures. Apart from being the foremost Tibetan trans­lator of works on Buddhist logic and epistemology (Pra­mā­ṇa), rNgog lo’s activities as a commentator and teacher are regarded as fundamen­tal for the later devel­opment of this field of learning in Tibet, and his tradition came to be well-known in Tibetan literature as the “rNgog tradition” (rngog lugs).

This book presents a detailed exami­nation of rNgog lo’s life based on the available Tibetan accounts, including his biography (rnam thar) written by Gro lung pa Blo gros ’byung gnas (fl. late 11th to 12th c.). Annotated trans­lations of great parts from the latter work (one of the earliest surviving examples of the rnam thar genre, possibly unique regarding its complicated and elegant style) are included in the book. rNgog lo’s oeuvre as a translator and writer is dealt with in detail, making the book an important source on this hitherto little studied scholar and his tradi­tion.

Ralf Kramer was curator for Tibetan & Himalayan Studies at the Bodleian Library (University of Oxford) from 2000 to 2005 and currently works as curator for Tibet & India at the Bavarian State Library in Munich.