Translating the Four Nikayas

Dear blog-friends, my apologies for abandoning you for the past several weeks, or is it months now? I have, as you may have suspected, been occupied with other things, primarily with doing work for SuttaCentral.

One of the reasons for my focus on SuttaCentral is that I am planning on taking an extended break in order to translate Pali suttas.

Since it’s mainly concerning SuttaCentral, I’ve put the main post on our Discourse forum, where you can read all about it and voice your comments:

Read about my translation project.

9 thoughts on “Translating the Four Nikayas

  1. Totally awesome! I seriously can’t wait to read your translations. Sorry I haven’t been able to make it to the workshops. If I don’t see you before you go, I hope you have a really ‘great time’ on your sabbatical and look forward to hopefully seeing you again in the future. All the best!! Stuart

  2. This is great to hear, places like access to insight and Forest Sangha Productions are one of the main reasons I was able to learn about Buddhism, having an open source translation of the Four Nikayas sounds like something that will certainly help spread the Dhamma to more people.

  3. I have a question about one of your stated goals for your translation. It is commendable that you want to use plain and simple language, and that you want to make your translation easily readable by those not highly skilled in English. But isn’t trying to achieve such a goal a bit risky? Could using language that is very plain fail to provide a translation with the subtlety and details it needs to be accurate? I worry that too much desire for a translation to be fun and easy to read will result in a translation that doesn’t reflect the fullness and richness of the original text.

    • Hi Armen, this is an important question; but can I ask you to post it over on Discourse? I’d like to keep the main discussion of this over there, and it’s something other people probably would like to hear about, too.

  4. I’ve been a long time Dhamma talk listener but only recently came across your talks and I just really wanted to say thank you so so much. I’ve been walking, very cautiously and perhaps a little bit nervously, down the path towards monasticism and your words have provided much appreciated reinforcement that I’m doing the right thing. Thank you.

  5. Excellent news re your translation project. I like the ‘plain English’ version of a quote you put up….. “If they make a bad choice, consciousness goes to a bad place.” Bravo and well done . I am also interested to see a new Sutta Nipata in this vein. Seems to me there is nothing very ‘minor’ or ‘small’ about much of the Khuddaka Nikāya. And SuttaNipata does seem to hold some really ancient layers that havent been gussied up so much as some of the ‘bigger’ collections. Perhaps we should be thankfull for the shambolic ‘archiving’ of the old reciters and or scribes who used such vague categories to arrange things by. Calling it small or minor seems to deterred a lot of interest and ‘fiddling’ with some of the material over time. Pity though that putting this collection ‘last’ carries on .
    Again, excellent work
    cheers and mudita
    John Allan

    • I must say I agree, and do hope to get around to the Sutta Nipata. Actually, that text is very dear to my heart. When I was a young monk, I memorized most of it; it has a unique flavor to it.

  6. This will be an amazing project, made even better because it is CC-Zero (is CC0 Buddhism becoming a thing? I hope it’s becoming a thing…). That means no restrictions, and they can keep circulating forever, just like the Pali originals. I know the translations will be great, and I’m glad that there are a few words like “samadhi” that are being kept untranslated. That term is very special in Indian religious culture, and cannot be translated easily. This is why translators into Chinese also tended to keep them as transliterations (sanmei, sanmodi, sanmoti). You know that, though, and I have every confidence you will make the right decisions for the project. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your support! I’m writing an article now, as it happens, on Buddhism and copyright. I surely hope that CC0 becomes the new normal for Buddhist copyright. Not only can things keep circulating, they can evolve and change.

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