Henry Albery's picture
August 26, 2019 to August 31, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, East Asian History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology, South Asian History / Studies

As part of our recently initiated collaborate project—‘An English Translation of a Sanskrit ‘Buddhist Yoga Manual’ from Kučā’, awarded The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Grants for Critical Editions and Scholarly Translations 2019—we would like to invite applications from three young scholars in Europe to participate in a week-long reading retreat to take place 26th–31st August 2019, at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany.


The goal of our translation project is to render the first English translation of the so-called “buddhistisches Yogalehrbuch” (YL), a ‘Buddhist Yoga Manual’ from Kučā, located on the Northern Silk Road of the Tarim Basin. The YL comprises several fragmentary birch-bark manuscripts written in a local Sanskrit and North Turkestan Brāhmī, which first came to light in the excavations of the Third German Turfan Expedition (1905-07) at a Buddhist monastic complex in Qïzïl, Kučā. The text was found to detail a hitherto unique visionary meditation schema, primarily concerned with elucidating how a yogācāra (‘practitioner of yoga’) should conduct meditation. It describes a quite unique visual and psychosomatic meditational technique, certain contents and idiosyncrasies of which are shared with other meditation (chan jing 禪經) and visualisation (guan jing 觀經) sūtras, dated to c. 5th century CE, as well as with epigraphic and visual features of meditative scenes, painted as murals in what are likely meditation caves at Qïzïl, Toyok, and Šorčuq. Due to these peculiarities, we suggest the work belongs to a forgotten Buddhist meditation tradition and lost Kučā canon. This text has unfortunately not received the attention it deserves and our translation project is designed to remedy this issue.


The reading retreat represents the first in a series of collective events that shall focus on honing the English translation of the Sanskrit text. We can offer travel and accommodation to three young scholars with an interest, for example, in Buddhism in Central Asia and China in the c. 5th century CE, Buddhist meditation, yoga, and philosophical traditions, or Buddhist meditational art, to participate in the process. Due to the nature of the project it is imperative the candidate has a good level of Sanskrit. Familiarity with other Buddhist languages (Chinese, Pāli, Tibetan) is desirable but not essential. To apply, please send a brief outline (no more than 500 words) by 15th July to detailing your academic background, interests and motivations in applying, in addition to your curriculum vitae.


Project Members:

Zhao Wen, Nankai University, Tianjin

Henry Albery, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Chen Ruixuan, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Constanze Pabst von Ohain, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Yamabe Nobuyoshi (Project Advisor), Waseda University, Tokyo