alldmn - 16th October 2023

A Lineage of Wisdom in Nepal

Nepal stands out as a singular place for the study of Buddhism as it is home to the most important collection of Buddhist Sanskrit texts in the world. Ancient Nepalese lore speaks of the Kathmandu Valley as a sacred site engineered by Mañjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom. And still today, the city is understood as being a divine mandala.  Kathmandu is a vibrant center where ancient scriptures are not only recited but performed and practiced every day in some of its  myriad temples. It has been said that Nepalese Buddhism, having developed in close connection to Hindu traditions for over 1,500 years, offers a unique window to what Mahayana Buddhism might have been in Medieval India. 

In the heart of Lalitpur, one of three sacred cities of the Kathmandu Valley, we are honored to partner with the Nagarjuna Institute of Buddhist Studies (NIBS). NIBS was founded in 1980 by the late Min Bahadur Shakya, one of the premier modern scholars and preservationists of Newar Buddhism. Throughout his life, he was committed to preserving ancient texts and facilitating inter-tradition dialogue, carrying out extensive work in Tibetan Buddhism, and having a keen interest in Theravāda. His commitment to non-sectarianism reflects the Nepalese ethos of embracing diverse traditions with honor and respect. The torch of his legacy is carried forward by his sons: NIBS Director, Dr. Miroj Shakya, associate professor at the University of the West, California, and NIBS Managing Director, Milan Shakya. Both stand out as accomplished scholars in their own right. Also on board are female members of the Shakya family, including the promising Diya Shakya Together, we fortify this rich preservationist lineage, ensuring that wisdom thrives.

At NIBS, ALL employs seven full-time professionals, including experts in ancient Nepalese scripts. They meticulously scan and input manuscripts, primarily sourced from Kathmandu’s libraries and private collections. To date, they have completed the preservation of over 140 manuscripts, in scripts such as Ranjana, Prachalit, and Bhujimol. The damage of the 2015 earthquake, combined with insufficient institutional funding and a waning interest in younger generations, amplifies the urgency of our preservation mission. Thanks to our generous donors, we’ve been able to sustainably support NIBS, and we hope to continue doing so in the future.

Dedication of merit from Arya Nagarjuna’s Praise to Ultimate Reality:

तेन पुण्येन लोको ऽयं व्रजतां सौगतीं गतिम् ॥

tena puṇyena loko ‘‘yaṃ vrajatāṃ saugatīṃ gatim ||

By this merit may the world reach the path of the Well-Gone One.

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