Text, Translation, and Transmission

DATE: Thursday-Saturday, October 18-20, 2007

PLACE: Toll Room, Alumni House, UC Berkeley

FORMAT: Conference

SPONSORS: Center for Buddhist Studies



"Text, Translation, and Transmission" is a two-day conference being held in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Numata Chair program.

The goal of the event is to honor the contribution of Bukkyô Dendô Kyôkai (BDK) to the field of Buddhist Studies, as well as to celebrate the tremendous achievements that have taken place in the field over the past twenty years.

Representatives from each of the 19 North American and European Buddhist Studies programs that have received Numata Chairs will present papers on the three aspects of Buddhist scholarship that the BDK has traditionally valued:

  • The study of texts (their production and reception)
  • The practice of translation (both textual and cultural), and
  • The study of the historical transmission of Buddhism across time and place



All panels are free and open to the public.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Opening reception by invitation

Friday, October 19, 2007
Panel I - Translating Buddhist Doctrine
9:30 am - 11:45 am

Dan Arnold, University of Chicago
Understanding and/as the Translation of Buddhist Philosophy

Parimal Patil, Harvard University
A Buddhist Historiography for Buddhist Philosophy

Shoryu Katsura, Ryukoku University
A Shift of Buddhist Logic from Dignāga to Dharmakīrti

Leslie Kawamura, University of Calgary
Translation of Yogācāra Buddhism: Chinese, Tibetan and Sanskrit Texts

Moderator: Alexander von Rospatt, University of California, Berkeley

11:45 am - 1:00 pm - Lunch break

Panel II - Early Buddhist Literatures
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Michael Zimmermann, Hamburg University
The Pierced Foot: The Transformation of an Episode from the Buddha's Life

Phyllis Granoff, Yale University
Birds, Babes, and Bodhisattvas: Truth and Fiction in the Life of the Buddha

Moderator: Richard Payne, Institute of Buddhist Studies

2:30 pm - 3:00 pm - Coffee break

Panel III - Beyond Doctrine
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Alexander von Rospatt, University of California, Berkeley
The Last Phase of Sanskrit Buddhist Literature: Remarks on the Svayambhūpurāṇa

Richard Payne, Institute of Buddhist Studies
Translating Ritual, Translating Buddhism: Moving Beyond our Obsession with Doctrine

Moderator: Lisa Grumbach, Institute of Buddhist Studies

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Reception/Dinner (for participants and attendees)
Jodo Shinshu Center
2140 Durant Avenue, Berkeley

Saturday, October 20, 2007
Panel IV - Transmissions in Tibetan Buddhism
9:00 am - 11:15 am

Lara Braitstein, McGill University
Re/Writing History: Politics and Religion in the Life of the 10th Zhwa dmar pa

Robert Mayer, University of Oxford
The Dunhuang Thabs kyi zhags pa padma phreng Manuscript: A Source for Understanding the Transmission of Mahāyoga in Tibet

Tadeusz Skorupski, University of London
How and Why New Buddhist Traditions Arise

Peter Verhagen, Leiden University
Latter-day Lo-tsā-bas: Translation Activities in 18th-century Tibet

Moderator: Patricia Berger, University of California, Berkeley

11:15 am - 12:30 pm - Lunch break and photo session

Panel V - Interpreting Chinese Textual Traditions
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

James Benn, McMaster University
Hybrid Cosmologies in the Śūramgama Sutra

Natasha Heller, University of California, Los Angeles
Epistolary Chan

Koichi Shinohara, BDK Publication Committee
The Buddhist Culture of the Seventh Century Anthology 'Fayuan zhulin' ('The Jade Forest in the Dharma Garden')

Moderator: Robert Sharf , University of California, Berkeley

2:00 pm - 2:15 pm - Coffee break

Panel VI - Rethinking Sources
2:15 pm - 3:45 pm

Jamie Hubbard, Smith College
Textual Communities in the Production, Translation, and Transmission of Buddhist Scriptures, Then and Now

Michel Mohr, University of Hawaii
On the Proper Use of Traps and Snares: Reflections on Language and Translation

Moderator: Duncan Williams , University of California, Berkeley



Dan Arnold is Assistant Professor of the Philosophy of Religion in the University of Chicago Divinity School. Considering Indian Buddhist philosophy as an integral part of the broader tradition of Indian philosophy, he has been especially interested in issues disputed between Buddhist schools and the orthodox Brahmanical school of Pūrva Mīmāsā. His current work has to do with modern notions of intentionality as useful in thinking through central issues in classical Buddhist epistemology and philosophy of mind. His first book — Buddhists, Brahmins, and Belief: Epistemology in South Asian Philosophy of Religion (Columbia University Press, 2005) — won an American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion. His essays have appeared in such journals as Philosophy East and West, the Journal of Indian Philosophy, Asian Philosophy, and the Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies.

James Benn is Associate Professor of Buddhism and East Asian Religions in the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster University. He received his B.A. and M.A. from St. John's College at Cambridge in Oriental Studies (Chinese) from 1982 to 1986, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in Chinese Buddhism from 1995 to 2001. He is the author of Burning for the Buddha: Self-immolation in Chinese Buddhism (Hawaii 2007). Some of his areas of interest include Buddhism and Taoism in medieval China, physical and material aspects of religious practice, relics, self-immolation, tea, and apocrypha.

Patricia Berger, Associate Professor of Chinese Art, received her Ph.D. in the History of Art in 1980 from the University of California, Berkeley. Before joining the Berkeley faculty in 1997, she served as Curator of Chinese Art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and taught at Oberlin College and the University of Southern California. Her most recent book, Empire of Emptiness: Buddhist Art and Political Authority in Qing China (University of Hawaii, 2003) deals with the 18th-century Qing court's use of Buddhist art in their relationship with Mongolia and Tibet. She also co-authored a series of exhibition catalogs on Buddhist art in China and Inner Asia, including Latter Days of the Law: Images of Chinese Buddhism (University of Hawaii, 1994), Mongolia: The Legacy of Chinggis Khan (Thames and Hudson, 1995), Tibet: Treasures from the Roof of the World (Bowers Museum, 2003), and Three Emperors (Royal Academy, London, 2006). Her current research focuses on Buddhist painting and photographic portraiture in early 20th-century China and Inner Asia. She is currently chair of the Department of the History of Art.

Lara Braitstein is Assistant Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism in the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University. She received her Ph.D. from McGill University in 2005 and teaches courses on Classical Literary Tibetan, Mahayana Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism. Her principal areas of research include esoteric traditions of Tibetan and Indian Buddhism, Classical Tibetan literature, and Buddhist Sanskrit literature. Her work has appeared in the Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies, Studies in Religion, and Consciousness, Literature and the Arts.

Jinhua Chen is Associate Professor of East Asian Buddhism at the University of British Columbia. His research covers monastic historiography and biography, and the state-church relationship in medieval China and Heian Buddhism.

Frances Garrett is Assistant Professor of Tibetan Buddhism in the Department for the Study of Religion. She received her PhD from the University of Virginia in 2004. She is intrigued by how Buddhist voices command a growing literary, ideological, social and political presence in the formative twelfth-fifteenth centuries in Tibet. A history of ideas that weaves across sectarian and disciplinary boundaries, her first book, Religion, Medicine and the Human Embryo in Tibet (forthcoming from Routledge in 2008) links aspects of Tibetan medicine to expressions of culture, religion, art and literature through a study of embryology in Tibetan literature. Current projects consider the intersections between tantric practice, ritual and occult knowledge, and medical theory, and what these tell us about the processes of institutional and ideological change in "renaissance" Tibet.

Phyllis Granoff is Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University and is also Chair of the South Asian Studies Council. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in Sanskrit and Indian Studies and Fine Arts. Her research interests include the development of classical Hinduism, medieval Jainism, and early Mahayana approaches to image worship.

Lisa Grumbach is Tamai Professor of Buddhist Studies at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford (2005), specializing in Japanese Buddhism and Japanese religious history. Her current research and teaching interests include the interactions between Buddhism and Shinto, and Japanese religious landscape.

Natasha Heller is Assistant Professor in Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA, on leave this year to complete a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC Berkeley. She received an M.A. in Buddhist Studies from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. from the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. Her dissertation was a study of the Chan monk Zhongfeng Mingben (1263-1323) and his literati followers. She specializes in the intellectual and religious history of China, with a particular focus on the intersection of Buddhism and literati culture.

Jamie Hubbard is Professor of Religion and Yehan Numata Lecturer in Buddhist Studies at Smith College where he has taught since 1985. He has a long interest in the relationship between text, rhetoric, and institution, particularly in the social-political realm involving questions of heresy and orthodoxy. He also dabbles in the production of digital Buddhist texts and research tools and likes to steal books. He is currently finishing a translation of the Yuimagyo-gisho for the Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research.

Shoryu Katsura is Professor of Indian Philosophy and Buddhist Studies at Ryukoku University, Japan. Although Professor Katsura's research is focused on Buddhist logic and epistemology (namely, philological and philosophical studies of Buddhist logicians, such as Dignaga and Dharmakrti), his expertise extends over a wide range of Buddhist studies including the study of Mahayana sutras, Mahayana Buddhist philosophy, Abhidharma philosophy, and Tibetan linguistics. Besides Japanese and English, Professor Katsura has expertise in German, French, Sanskrit, Pali, Classical Tibetan, and Classical Buddhist Chinese. He has published a lengthy list of books, book chapters, refereed articles, translations, and articles in reference works in both English and Japanese.

Leslie Kawamura is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Calgary. In 1961, he received an M.A. in Buddhist History from Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan, and in 1964, a M.A. in Buddhist Philosophy from Kyoto University. In 1974, he completed a Ph.D. in Far Eastern Studies at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. His major interest is in the study of the Indian Yogacara tradition, especially the foundational period of Maitreya/Asanga and Vasubandhu, using the Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan sources and the studies done in Japanese. Currently, he is working on the Dharma-dharmata text attributed to Asanga/Maitreya. He has been instrumental in establishing the Asian Studies Collaborative Major Program at the University of Calgary and serves as the Coordinator of that program for the Faculties of General Studies, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Kawamura is the author of 10 books, as well as numerous articles. He has served on the boards of 16 Professional Societies, and is the recipient of over 50 awards from various granting agents, institutes, and donors.

Robert Mayer is a Research Officer at the University of Oxford. He and his wife, Dr. Cathy Cantwell, also a Research Officer at Oxford, conduct their research jointly. Their research interests include the early rNying-ma tantric tradition, critically editing old Tibetan texts, and Dunhuang tantric texts. Current work includes a detailed study of the complete Dunhuang Phur-pa materials, a critical edition of the Thabs-kyi zhags-pa padma 'phreng-ba including a comparative study of its commentary, and a comparative analysis of early Bon and rNying-ma Phur-pa traditions. Their most recent joint publication presents exploratory critical editions of two rNying-ma tantras.

Michel Mohr is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Hawaii (as of August 2007). His research focuses on Japanese religions, with a special emphasis on the Tokugawa and Meiji periods. Interest in nondenominational approaches to religious experience often leads him to explore links with non-Buddhist forms of religiosity. His recent publications include the article "Chan and Zen" for The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Second Edition (2005), and chapters for two volumes in the series The Kōan (2000) and Zen Classics (2006). After having taught in Europe and spent almost twenty years in Japan, he is now based in Honolulu.

Parimal G. Patil is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, where he teaches in the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies and the Committee on the Study of Religion. His primary research interests are in South Asian intellectual practices and their relevance to much broader issues in the study of religion, philosophy, and area studies. His first book, "Against a Hindu God" (Columbia, forthcoming) focuses on the final phase of Buddhist philosophy of religion in India. Other forthcoming work includes a book length study of the Buddhist theory of exclusion at Vikramas'i-la, and articles on the history of Sanskrit "logic," philosophical aesthetics, and Buddhist narrative literature.

Richard Payne is Professor of Buddhist Studies and Dean of the Institute of Buddhist Studies. He received his Ph.D. at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. His current research and teaching interests include tantric fire ritual, ritual historiography, and ritual structure. Some of his publications include Approaching the Land of Bliss: Religious Praxis in the Cult of Amitaabha (ed. with Kenneth K. Tanaka, 2004), Tantric Buddhism in East Asia (ed., 2006), and Discourse and Ideology in Medieval Japanese Buddhism (ed. with Taigen Leighton, 2006).

Alexander von Rospatt is Professor and current Chair of South & Southeast Asian Studies at UC Berkeley. He received his B.A. from the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) in 1985, and his M.A. (1988), Ph.D. (1993) and Habilitation (2000) at the University of Hamburg. He specializes in the doctrinal history of Indian Buddhism, and in Newar Buddhism. His first book (Stuttgart, 1995) sets forth the development and early history of the Buddhist doctrine of momentariness. A new book manuscript deals with the periodic renovations of the Svayambhu Stupa of Kathmandu. Based on Newar manuscripts and several years of fieldwork in Nepal, he reconstructs the ritual history of these renovations and their social contexts. His current research project is on life cycle rituals of old age among the Newars.

Robert Sharf is Professor of Buddhist Studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at UC Berkeley. He works primarily in the area of medieval Chinese Buddhism, but he also dabbles in Japanese Buddhism, Buddhist art, ritual studies, and methodological issues in the study of religion. He is the author of Coming to Terms with Chinese Buddhism: A Reading of the Treasure Store Treatise (2002), co-editor of Living Images: Japanese Buddhist Icons in Context (2001), and is currently working on a book tentatively titled "How to Read a Zen Koan." In addition to his appointment in EALC, he serves as Chair of the Center for Buddhist Studies and Director of Religious Studies at UC Berkeley.

Koichi Shinohara is Senior Lecturer of Religious Studies at Yale University. Before coming to Yale in 2004 he taught at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. For the past several years his work has centered around the writings of an influential commentator on monastic practices and historian Daoxuan (596-677) and his collaborator Daoshi (d.u.) at the Ximingsi monastery in the capital city. He has also examined in some detail the evolution of the cult of Buddha images attributed to King Asoka and worked on Tiantai Buddhist biographies, exploring the religious and political circumstances surrounding the composition of the biography of the founding figure of the school Zhiyi (539-98) and the way lineages of abbots at local monasteries were transformed into a Buddhist universal history by 12th-century Tiantai Buddhist historians. He is currently working on a project on the presentation of Buddhist culture in the 7th-century Chinese anthology, Fauyuan zhulin, and the impact of esoteric ritual on miracle stories in China and Japan.

Tadeusz Skorupski is a Reader in Buddhist Studies at SOAS, University of London. His academic competence in Buddhist Studies covers history, doctrines, scriptures, iconography, and rituals. Some of his publications include: Body, Speech and Mind: Buddhist Art from Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia and China (1998); (with G. Dorje, T. Nima) An Encyclopedic Tibetan-English Dictionary (2001); Kriyasamgraha: Compendium of Buddhist Rituals (2002); editor of Buddhica Britannica Series (vols. 1-10) and The Buddhist Forum (vols. 1-6).

Duncan Ryuken Williams is Associate Professor of Japanese Buddhism in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at UC Berkeley, as well as Chair of Berkeley's Center for Japanese Studies. He received his B.A. in Religious Studies at Reed College (1991), his M.T.S. at Harvard Divinity School (1993), and his Ph.D. in Religion at Harvard University (2000). He works primarily on Japanese Buddhist history, Buddhism and environmentalism, and American Buddhism. He is the author of The Other Side of Zen: A Social History of Soto Zen Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan (Princeton, 2005), translator of four Japanese books, and editor of three volumes including American Buddhism (Curzon, 1999) and Buddhism and Ecology (Harvard, 1997). He is currently completing a manuscript entitled "Camp Dharma: Japanese-American Buddhism and the World War Two Incarceration Experience" (forthcoming, UC Press) and an edited volume, "Issei Buddhism in the Americas: The Pioneers of the Japanese-American Buddhist Diaspora." His next project focuses on Buddhism and bathing practices in Japan through the themes of healing and purification.

Peter Verhagen is Lecturer of Buddhology, Tibetology, and Indian Philosophy in the Department of Languages and Cultures of India and Tibet at Leiden University. His initial field of research lay in the grammatical traditions of India and Tibet, in particular the indigenous systems of linguistic description of both Sanskrit and Tibetan as they were cultivated in the context of Tibetan Buddhism. (Main publications: A History of Sanskrit Grammatical Literature in Tibet. Volume 1: Transmission of the Canonical Literature (Leiden, 1994) and Volume 2: Assimilation into Indigenous Scholarship (Leiden, 2001), and two series of articles: 'Tibetan Expertise in Sanskrit Grammar' and 'Studies in Tibetan Indigenous Grammar'.) More recently, his research has focused on the theories of textual interpretation as they were developed within Mahāyāna and, to a lesser extent, Tantric Buddhism in India and Tibet. This research primarily addresses the theoretical principles and practical techniques underlying scriptural interpretation, as they were formulated within the scholastic traditions of Mahāyāna Buddhism in India and Tibet, and which specifically pertain to the interpretation of statements attributed to the Buddha. (Series of articles: 'Studies in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Hermeneutics'.) At present he is initiating research on the (auto-) biography of a polymath hierarch of the Karma Bka'-brgyud-pa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, Si-tu Paṇ-chen Chos-kyi-'byung-gnas, a prominent figure in the cultural life of 18th-century Tibet. (Earlier work on Si-tu, series of articles: 'Notes apropos to the Oeuvre of Si-tu Paṇ-chen Chos-kyi-'byung-gnas (1699?-1774)'.)

Michael Zimmermann Michael Zimmermann is Professor of Indian Buddhism at the Asia-Africa-Institute of Hamburg University in Germany. His publications include A Buddha Within: The Tathagatagarbhasutra, The Earliest Exposition of the Buddha-Nature Teaching in India (2002). He is editor of the volume Buddhism and Violence (2006).



The conference "Text, Translation, and Transmission" will be held in the Alumni House, UC Berkeley.

Campus map

Directions to the Alumni House

The Alumni House is located in the southwest region of campus. Please find the Alumni House in section D3 of this campus map.


If traveling by BART, exit the Richmond-Fremont line at the Berkeley station (not North Berkeley). When you leave the BART station, walk south down Shattuck Avenue to Bancroft Avenue (two or three blocks depending on which station exit you leave from) and turn left. Walk three blocks to Dana Street and turn left onto campus. The Alumni House will be on your right, across from Haas Pavilion.

From Interstate 80

To reach the site by car from Interstate 80, exit at the University Avenue off-ramp in Berkeley. Take University Avenue east to Oxford Street and turn right. Oxford becomes Fulton Street in a couple of blocks. Turn left onto Durant Avenue, then left onto Telegraph Avenue. Turn left onto Bancroft Avenue. The Alumni House is located on campus, closest to the intersection of Bancroft Avenue and Dana Street. The Alumni House is located across from Hass Pavilion.

From Highways 24/13

To reach us from Highways 24/13, exit 13 at Tunnel Road in Berkeley. Continue on Tunnel Road as it becomes Ashby. Turn right at Telegraph and drive approximately one mile north to Bancroft Way and turn left. The Alumni House is located on campus, closest to the intersection of Bancroft Avenue and Dana Street. The Alumni House is located across from Hass Pavilion.

Directions to campus are also available at www.berkeley.edu/visitors/traveling.html


There are various public parking lots and facilities near campus and in downtown Berkeley. This list includes municipal and privately owned parking lots and garages open to the public. Please consult signs for hours and fees prior to entering the facilities.

For parking near the Alumni House, we recommend the following lots:

  • MLK Student Union Garage (Bancroft Way, between Telegraph Ave. and Dana St.)
  • Sather Gate Garage (two blocks south from the UC Berkeley Campus. One-half block west of Telegraph Avenue, with entrances on both Durant Avenue and Channing Way).
More information is available on the UC Berkeley Parking and Transportation page.