Supporting the Three Years “Oceans Of Knowledge” Project for the Protection and Promotion of Tibetan Culture

Project location: INDIA, Dharamsala
Project start date: October 2008 - Project end date: June 2010
Project number: 2008-44
Beneficiary: The Tibet Bureau

The Tibetan language and culture continue to be undermined by the Chinese authorities in Tibet. Recent policies in Tibet clearly indicate the suppression of Tibetan language and cultural practices by Tibetans, which are the core of Tibetan society. Cultural preservation inevitably concerns safeguarding the methods of communication involved in its transmission. A civilisation's culture depends upon its language and cannot survive without it.

In 2005 the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Dharamsala., India, launched the project Ocean of Knowledge, aiming at translating, and producing documentaries on various scientific topics (eg. Our Solar System, Human Body, Physics etc. ), to later distribute them free of charge to all Tibetan educational institutions. In 2008 the Nando Peretti Foundation decided to support this ambitious project through a grant awarded to the Tibet Bureau.

Key goals of the Oceans of Knowledge Project were:

1) Help young Tibetans to become fluent in modern scientific thoughts without losing their unique Tibetan cultural heritage
2) Translate scientific terms so modern ideas can be expressed in Tibetan
3) Encourage young Tibetans to take an interest in scientific study
4) Provide meaningful employment in the Tibetan community for science graduates



Final report (July 2010)

The project was intended as a powerful tool to introduce modern subjects into Tibetan language. The attempt was also to educate the monks and the nuns about modern science and other modern subjects through modern technology. Tibetan language and literature has reached a critical stage. It has rich vocabulary in traditional subjects but lacks various correct words and terminology relating to scientific concepts which Tibetans in exile have encountered and discovered abroad. The underlying idea of the whole project is that the most effective way of preserving this ancient language, it is then imparting modern subjects in it.
Moreover, Buddhism is based on logical reasoning and Science is based on experiments and proves. Some of the Buddhist principles such as the law of cause and effect and the interdependent origination go very parallel with quantum physics and theory of Relativity. Buddhist presentation of Mind and Modern Psychology has so many things to learn and share with each other.

With these aims in mind, the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics started translating and dubbing in Tibetan language a series of DVDs on Eight Planets and Human Body. They were distributed to the monasteries and the nunneries in India, and Nepal through the Department of Religion and Culture, and to the schools in India and Nepal through the Department of Education, CTA, Dharamsala. In the traditional literature the earth is flat, the Sun Moves around the earth and the moon has its own light. By watching these DVDs the monks and the nuns learnt so many new things about the universe.

As for the actual implementation of the project, the project was located in Sarrah College, Dharamsala. With the NPF assistance, a series of Physics episodes were translated and dubbed in the Tibetan language.
This was a quite complex work. In doing the transcription work, a person had to listen to the DVD and transcript word by word. When the episode transcription was done, then it was sent to the translator. After it was translated into Tibetan, it was sent to the Editor to edit and make sentences of the same length as the English version. Later on, it was sent to the Research and Translation Committee of IBD to check the meaning of the translation. After that, the script was brought to the Lab where the narrator would read the Tibetan version and the Technician would dub the Tibetan language with what is called as lip sinking.
The lab technician and the narrator constituted the full time staff of this project. The translator, the transcription person, the editor and the Research and Translation Committee's staff were instead hired when ever it was needed.

think global, act local
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