We rely on numerous qualified partners in a variety of disciplines to fulfill our mission.
Every preservation project is unique in that it represents a distinct cultural identity that needs to be understood and honored.
Although our organization is relatively new, many of the personnel working with ALL today have been involved in the world of preservation for over 30 years. These scholars, technologists, and translators have provided us with the predominance of our libraries content.
Our global partnerships reflect the depth and breadth of our commitment to a quality preservation process and library product.
These partnerships include relationships in technology, training, sponsorship, funding, and academia.
The Asian Legacy Library currently partners with seven preservation operations located across Mongolia, Nepal, and India. These multi-disciplinary teams contribute a combination of skills within the preservation process, whether it be scanning, inputting, cataloguing, or distributing.
Very often there is cross-over, for example when the scanning that was completed in one center is digitally transferred and input in another. This creates an economy of means for greater efficiency and productivity.
The Bylakuppe Preservation Center employs ten skilled librarians knowledgeable of the Tibetan language and who focus on transcribing challenging and difficult-to-read Tibetan Buddhist classics into machine readable files.
Currently the team is working on the Nartang Tengyur, an important edition of the classic Indian commentaries.
There are both subtle and major differences between Tibetan editions of the Kangyur and Tengyur. As such, there is great benefit in having multiple editions of the Kangyur and Tengyur in the library. This will enable scholars, translators, and researchers to compare information that could be lost if only one edition were preserved.
The Hunsur Preservation Center currently employs eight skilled librarians knowledgeable in the Tibetan language and who focus on transcribing Tibetan Buddhist classics from manuscripts and xylographs into machine readable text files.
Currently, the Hunsor team is working on the Tibetan-Russian-English Dictionary, by Yuri Roerich, a prominent 20th century Tibetologist. Additional classics are input on request.
Palghat (Palakkad), Kerala, India
For 40 years, Dr. V. N. Ramachandran of Phlghat—in the southern Indian state of Kerala—has been at the forefront of text preservation. His work has led him across the length and breadth of India, photographing and digitizing manuscripts and rare books held in state and private collections. For nearly half a century, this extraordinary digital repository has supported the work of scholars of Indology, and a parade of scholars from around the globe have worn a path to his door to benefit from his guidance and expertise.
ALL proudly hosts Dr. Ramachandran’s collection of unique, unpublished manuscripts and rare printed materials in Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, and English. At the heart of the collection are the palm-leaf manuscripts of Sanskrit knowledge systems including medicine (Ayurveda), philosophy, and contemplative practices.
TENZIN DICKYI LARSOE (TDL) PRESERVATION CENTER
The TDL center currently employs seven skilled librarians knowledgeable in the Tibetan language and who focus on transcribing Tibetan Buddhist classics from manuscripts and xylographs into machine readable text files. The staff just completed inputting the Blue Annals, a very important book written in 1476 by Go Lotsawa Zhonnu-pel. It is a historical survey focusing on the dissemination of various sectarian spiritual traditions throughout Tibet.
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
ALL’s Varanasi center for Indology is uniquely positioned in a city viewed as sacred by various religions and spiritual seekers for thousands of years. It is the nerve center for all of ALL’s South Asian preservation efforts. Equally dedicated to Hindu and Buddhist Sanskrit materials, the center is engaged in digitizing manuscript archives, as well as printed and manuscript Sanskrit materials throughout northern India.
THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MONGOLIA
The National Library of Mongolia (NLM), founded in 1921, houses text collections representing close to 1,000 years of the accumulated cultural knowledge of greater Mongolia and the Asian Steppe. From the 13th century on, the body of work currently residing at NLM was held in private libraries, homes, and institutions, forming a cultural bedrock in Mongolia. During the period of Soviet occupation, this bedrock was broken apart and nearly destroyed, as scores of books were burned or scattered at the order of central bureaucratic rule in Ulaanbaatar. The books that escaped destruction were consolidated at NLM. What remains there today––over 100,000 volumes in the Tibetan, Mongolian, Chinese, and Manchu languages––is of critical significance. Ranging across topics including grassland and resource management, early medical technology, pharmacology, political science, philosophical and religious systems, and the arts, NLM and its holdings serve as a vital record of history and cultural innovation through much of East and Central Asia.
Since 2001, Asian Legacy Library (ALL) has maintained strong relations with NLM administration, offering its expertise in technology and scholarship. In 2018, ALL and NLM initiated a formal partnership. NLM is eager to complete the preservation of this important collection.
NAGARJUNA INSTITUTE OF BUDDHIST STUDIES PRESERVATION CENTER (NIBS)
Geographically positioned between the Indian sub-continent and the Tibetan plateau, Nepal has served as a vital crossroads for migration, trade, and cultural exchange for nearly two millennia of recorded history. Untouched by invasions beginning in the 12th century that disrupted Hindu culture and virtually eliminated Buddhism from the sub-continent, Nepal’s surviving manuscript culture and collections provide unique windows to the otherwise lost to the antiquity of South Asia. It is no exaggeration to say that much of what is known of the original Sanskrit Buddhist texts is thanks to the preservation efforts in Nepal, and that much of what remains to be discovered about the histories of both Vedic Hinduism and Indian Buddhism depends upon Nepal’s cultural inheritance.
At present, ALL and its partner institution in Kathmandu, the Nagarjuna Institute of Buddhist Studies, are engaged in two projects dedicated to the preservation of texts that form the core of sacred and social life for the Newar Buddhist community of the Kathmandu Valley.
The first focuses on the Nine Sutra (nava-sūtra) collection of Mahayana Buddhist scriptures. Sometimes reverently called the Nine Jewels, these texts heralded the rise of Universal Vehicle (Mahāyāna) Buddhism in India 2,000 years ago, and today remain central to Mahayana Buddhist theory and practice from northern India to Japan.
Of equal importance is the ALL-NIBS multi-year project to locate, digitize, catalog, and digitally input thousands of pages of dharanis, looked upon by followers of Mahayana Buddhism for the past 2,000 years as records of some of the Buddha’s most profound teachings.
In 1992, one of our early preservation partners concluded an agreement with the Russian Academy of Sciences to create a joint catalog of the massive Tibetan Buddhist manuscript collection at the Oriental Library of St. Petersburg. A similar agreement was created with the University of St. Petersburg, and work began under the joint directorship of Dr. Lev Savitsky and Michael Roach, with the input team of Thupten Pelgye, Jampa Namdrol, and Ngawang Kheatsun. The project was funded through a grant from the Buddhist Cultural Exchange Research Institute of Yuisho Ji, Japan, facilitated by their director Reverend Nisanku.
After almost 20 years of continuous work, the Catalog of Tibetan Buddhist Manuscripts held at the St Petersburg Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences is completed. It records extensive details of 141,000 volumes of ancient Buddhist works and is quite possibly the most extensive catalog ever compiled of classical Asian wisdom literature.
In 2003, one of ALL’s primary preservation partners arranged and signed an agreement with the Ladakh Gonpa Association to digitally catalog both monastic and potential private collections throughout Ladakh.
The Ladakh Gonpa Association is the central organization of Buddhist monasteries located in the capital of Leh. It is run by a governing body consisting of fifteen lama members belonging to all four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. There are thirty-four major monastic institutions in Ladakh.
Five Ladakhi monks were hired and trained from established monasteries, each of which represented one of the four major sects of Buddhism. An office was created in the headquarters of the Gonpa Association where the catalog data of 29 monastery manuscript collections was organized and which is now safeguarded in the ALL-digital library. Over 19,000 titles are listed, each of which is searchable within 21 descriptive categories.
Established by Swami Kuvalayananda in 1924, the Kaivalyadhama Institute, located in the state of Maharashtra in western India, follows the undiluted principles of traditional Ashtanga Yoga by Master Patanjali.
Kaivalyadhama was founded with the purpose of merging yogic traditions with modern science, and to make this knowledge relevant and accessible to our contemporary world.
Our preservation teams were permitted to digitally catalog and scan the Library of Kaivalyadhama during the period of 2006 through 2009. Over 80,000 book titles in the form of Sanskrit manuscripts and printed books were recorded. The subjects included Ayurveda medicine, physical asana practices, philosophical commentary on traditional yogic practices, meditation, curative practices, and more. The library collection of the Kaivalyadhama Institute is available on the ALL digital platform.
Asian Legacy Library is proud to partner with Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC). BDRC and ALL share a mission to preserve and share literary heritage. BDRC’s Buddhist Digital Archives (BUDA) provides digital research tools and provides access to millions of pages of Buddhist texts contributed by BDRC and its many partners. ALL is both a beneficiary of and contributor to that work. As beneficiary, ALL uses many of BDRC’s texts for its input work, transcribing scans character by character so they can be searched. As a contributor, ALL and BDRC are actively engaged on a joint project to digitize and make accessible the National Library of Mongolia.
Asian Legacy Library is proud to receive funding for its preservation work from the Khyentse Foundation, established in 2001 by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.
The mission of ALL is closely aligned with the mission of the Khyentse Foundation. Khyentse Foundation supports organizations and individuals engaged in the preservation of seminal Buddhist texts in Tibetan, Pali, Sanskrit, and other Asian languages. Many of these texts contain the Buddha’s teachings as well as rich historical detail about such topics as metaphysics, ethics, philosophy, psychology, medicine, poetry, and art.