Timeless Buddhist wisdom uncovered at Bhutan lit fest

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Thimphu : The spirit of Buddhism and the many philosophies surrounding the religion were explored on the opening day of the "Mountain Echoes" literary festival which aims to celebrate "Untouched Beauty, Unexplored Ideas and Unstoppable Voices" from the heart of the Himalayas.

Acclaimed scholar Khenpo Sonam Phuntshok presented an insightful session on "Translating the Sutras" on Thursday at the Royal University of Bhutan.

Phuntshok was seen in conversation with Veer Singh, the founder of the Dehradun-based Vana Foundation, which "aspires to make India the world's beacon of light for spiritual wisdom".

The session took the audiences on a journey through centuries as the duo talked about ancient Buddhist transcripts which have not yet been translated into modern languages.

"With each edition of the festival, it is our aim to celebrate the shared histories and narratives of Bhutan and India. This year, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations between India and Bhutan, we are focusing on a yet unexplored aspect of the two nations," said festival Co-Director Tshering Tashi.

"The teachings of the Buddha play a key role in the cultural heritage and spiritual legacy of both countries and we are proud to present to global audiences a glimpse of the work being done by the 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha," he said.

Launched in 2010 as a project under Khyentse Foundation, the "84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha" mission aims to uncover the timeless wisdom written in ancient Tibetan scriptures such as the Kangyur and the Tengyur.

A team of 210 Buddhist scholars and translators from different nationalities are currently working together to translate these texts into modern languages, with an aim to eventually publish the work online for audiences from the world over.

As of today, the team has successfully published over 2,500 translated pages.

Once fully translated, the texts will play a crucial role in the survival and revival of Buddhism, the panellists said.

The project aims to make available to people of all nationalities everything they need to follow the Buddha's infinite path to liberation.

In 2015, the organization met its five-year goal of creating a representative sample of the Kangyur and Tengyur available in English.

As of now, the panellists claimed, the translated works have been viewed over 8.3 million times by readers from over 239 countries.

Resonating with a mix of the old-world charm and the contemporary vibe, Mountain Echoes literary festival has set the pace for discussions on ancient cultures and contemporary issues.

An initiative of the India-Bhutan Foundation and India's literary agency, Siyahi, the three-day festival will reach its culmination on August 25.