English Translation

The English translation of the Sanghata was prepared by Ven. Lhundup Damcho and completed in January, 2006. Translating from Tibetan, she consulted the Sanskrit to clarify the many places where the Tibetan was ambiguous. The Sanskrit was also at times ambiguous (or multivalent), and in those same places you may find the English to be open to multiple interpretations.

The English translation of the Arya Sanghata Sutra that is available on this website differs from the version that had circulated until January, 2006 in several fundamental ways, although both were produced by the same translator.

First, this new English translation of the Arya Sanghata Sutra is a complete translation from the Tibetan, and was prepared by making continual reference to the original Sanskrit. The earlier version combined two different translations: the first half was a rough draft of the translator’s rendering of the Tibetan, and for the second half of the translation, we had taken a translation from Sanskrit made by a Sri Lankan scholar in the 1960s, that was itself based on an incomplete set of Sanskrit manuscripts.

For this new translation, the translator has read through the entire text in Tibetan with Geshe Lhundub Sopa, relying extensively on his vast knowledge. Alongside the Tibetan, she read the Sanskrit, allowing the Sanskrit to guide choices as to how to read the Tibetan in places where multiple interpretations were possible or where the language was unclear in Tibetan.

Readers may notice a number of places where the content seems to have changed significantly compared to the earlier draft translation. Because this new translation was prepared by consulting the original Sanskrit, in the many places throughout the text where Tibetan words and phrases could potentially be translated in several different ways, the new translation now relies on Sanskrit to guide choices among the various implicit meanings in the Tibetan.

Another very visible change is in the presentation of Sanskrit names. Since so many people have been using this translation for recitation, the translation adopts the Clay Sanskrit Library system (pdf) of phoneticizing the Sanskrit names, so as to make them easier for English-speakers to pronounce. Long words in Sanskrit have been hyphenated and divided into their basic elements, where permissible. An accent mark appears above the syllable that receives the most stress.

In general, the new translation aims to combine the highest possible degree of literal accuracy with language that reads smoothly in English. However, it does not paraphrase to yield an easier or more poetic reading experience, where this would mean compromising the literal accuracy of the translation. In some places the new translation should clarify points left unclear in the earlier translation, but one thing this translation does not seek to do is clear away the many moments of ambiguity and uncertainty inherent in the Sanghata. The Sanskrit and Tibetan versions of the Sanghata themselves leave many points open for our further contemplation and discussion, and where that happens, the English aims to preserve those points of ambiguity as well. This translation is not meant to 'improve on' or 'clarify' the Tibetan and Sanskrit texts; simply to render them into English as faithfully as possible, leaving it to the reader to ponder the possible meanings.

Pronouncing Sanskrit Names

For ease of pronunciation during recitation, you will note that for longer Sanskrit names, an accent mark was placed on the syllable that should be stressed and words have been broken up with hyphens (in accordance with the rules of Sanskrit grammar, or sandhi). For ease of recitation, rather than use the Sanskrit diacritics (accent marks) that are standard in scholarly works, this translation follows the Clay Sanskrit Library (CSL) conventions.

Download the English translation in other formats

Why protected pdf?

The English translation of the Sanghata Sutra is distributed as a protected pdf file to safeguard the sutra against distortion. These are the words of Buddha and while reproducing of the Sanghata is very much encouraged, modifying it is not.  The earlier translation had been copied and posted on some websites in an altered and, in one case, highly truncated form.

Other English editions

This is the only complete translation into English from Tibetan, but other English translations of the Sanghāta have been produced from the Sanskrit and Khotanese.

The Sanghāta was translated from Sanskrit into English in 1967 by the late Sri Lankan scholar, R.A. Gunatilaka. This translation was submitted by Gunatilaka to Cambridge University as his PhD dissertation, but was never published.

The Khotanese manuscripts of the Sanghāta have been edited, and an English translation of the Khotanese Sanghāta was prepared by Giotto Canevascini, a scholar working in Switzerland. This translation of the Khotanese was published under the title The Khotanese Sanghātasūtra: A Critical Edition.