News

Dharma Realm Buddhist University launches the first Graduate Certificate Program in Buddhist Translation in the United States

Jun 7, 2021

After a successful pilot, the two-semester Graduate Certificate Program is now a permanent offering at the University  

Ukiah, CA (June 7, 2021) – Dharma Realm Buddhist University (DRBU), the Northern California university and community dedicated to liberal education in the broad Buddhist tradition, announced the launch of the first Graduate Certificate Program in Buddhist Translation in the United States. The two-semester program offers students the rare opportunity to immerse themselves in ancient eastern languages at the graduate level, with a curriculum that integrates translation of Buddhist texts with study, practice, and service in a monastic setting. Ten students earned the Graduate Certificate after a two year pilot of the one-year program. Prospective students can apply through June 18, 2021 for the program beginning Fall 2021, or submit an application for future rolling admissions. For more information, visit drbu.edu/academics/iitbt/certificate-buddhist-translation. 

The program was developed by Founding Director Bhikshuni Heng Yi, a nun who studied under noted Buddhist academic Robert Buswell Jr., while earning her Doctor of Philosophy from University of California Los Angeles in Buddhist Studies. Alongside Heng Yi is Assistant Director Bhikshuni Heng Yin, a nun and experienced translator who received her Master of Arts from University of California Berkeley in Asian Studies. Similar to DRBU’s Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Master of Arts in Buddhist Classics, the Buddhist Translation Program is centered around reading and discussion of classical primary texts, with an emphasis on self-transformation. 

“Grounded in Buddhist practice, students will gain an understanding and appreciation of Buddhist texts through close reading and translation practice,” says Heng Yi. “The program offers the unique opportunity to engage in ancient translation traditions. Through a self-transformative process integrating contemplative exercises with shared inquiry, students strive to understand the original texts and interpret them into a modern language.” 

The Buddhist Translation program was created in the spirit of DRBU’s founder, Venerable Master Hua, who vowed to bring Buddhadharma to the West and translate the Buddhist canon into the languages of the world. 

Heng Yi adds, “When I first read Venerable Master Hua’s books, a very strong sense of calling enveloped me and I knew I had to do something to realize his vision. I hope to help bring back the type of translation institute that once thrived, when talents from all directions gathered together to engage in Buddhist translation, under the guidance of Masters Xuanzang and Kumarajiva. The certificate program is our first step in that endeavor.”

The program consists of five courses: an introduction to translation theory and practice past and present; methods and theories of interpretation; a seminar focusing on appreciation of Buddhist, Chinese, and Western classics; a Buddhist Chinese course; and a hands-on translation workshop. 

For over two thousand years, translation has been an indispensable part of the history and transmission of Buddhism. When Buddhism first came to China from India, one of the most important tasks was the translation of the Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Chinese. This work was often conducted in large assemblies, such as when National Master Kumarajiva led an assembly of over 800 people for more than a decade in translating dozens of texts in hundreds of scrolls. Emulating the translation assemblies of ancient times, the Graduate Certificate Program in Buddhist Translation brings together talented individuals in a collaborative endeavor to study and translate Buddhist texts. 

The Buddhist canon presents itself as a vehicle to wisdom and liberation, a set of tools for self-transformation. Approaching the texts in this spirit, the Buddhist Translation Program regards translating them as an opportunity to delve deeply into their meaning and develop understanding in an engaged, interactive way.

About Dharma Realm Buddhist University
Dharma Realm Buddhist University is a small private university and community dedicated to liberal education in the broad Buddhist tradition—a tradition characterized by knowledge in the arts and sciences, self-cultivation, and the pursuit of wisdom. The University offers two degree programs centered around reading and discussion of classical primary texts at its Ukiah, California campus: Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Master of Arts in Buddhist Classics. Dharma Realm Buddhist University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). For more information, please visit www.drbu.edu.