students looking for books of their interest Students looking for books at Library
Photo: Karma Jangchub
staff typing dharma textsStaff typing Dharma Texts to publish
Photo: Karma Jangchub

A Brief History of the Vajra Vidya Library

At the sacred site of Forest of the Sages, located in present-day Sarnath near Varanasi, the Buddha in his kindness first bestowed the nectar of the Dharma that clams and refreshes. In the vicinity of this major Buddhist site lies the Library of Vajra Vidya Institute, founded by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. Through the Thrangu Charitable Trust, he was able to purchase a good piece of land, and the corner stone of the building was laid on December 12, 1993. By the New Year of 1999, the building was completed and then expanded over the years.

So that it would not be a library just in name, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche sought out as many of the texts by the scholars and meditation masters of the Dakpo Kagyu tradition that he could find in Tibet, Nepal, India, Bhutan, and also abroad. In addition, with a great purpose in mind, he began publishing from Vajra Vidya Library. The single gate opening into to the peace that brings benefit and joy to immense numbers of living beings is the Buddha’s teachings, which were given in accord with the disposition, capacity, and interest of disciples, and which are contained in the Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma. This is all included in the Dharma of scripture and realization whose nature is excellent.

The reason that such precious teachings could remain in our world up until now is due to several causes. The teachings were held by great and genuine beings, by bodhisattvas, and by emanations of noble individuals, who were inconceivable scholars and masters of meditation. They had arrived at the zenith of an exemplary life in which they were learned, conscientious, and good.

In particular, the members of the councils that gathered the Buddha’s teachings wrote down the words of the Buddha that belonged to an excellent continuum of the genuine Dharma. Texts from the past were received and kept in many places, such as the main shrine hall at Nalanda University. People took care of these volumes, which served as representations of the Buddha’s speech, and so they did not deteriorate but flourished. This happened just as the bodhisattva Shantideva described it: “By reading and reciting Dharma in the temples, / May it spread and be preserved.”

Also, many translators, scholars and meditation masters, who were emanations of great beings on the bodhisattva levels, came to the cool and refreshing country of Tibet. They made excellent translations of the Buddha’s speech and the treatises of Indian masters, which were then carved in woodblocks for printing. To house the texts, libraries and other structures were built on temple land, and extensive, virtuous activity was performed to hold, preserve, and expand these teachings.

This made it possible for the teachings to be preserved until the present day. Many people in countries all over the world have been able to enter the gate of the precious Dharma and have the chance to enjoy the nectar of the teachings, profound and vast. They have brought, and continue to bring, many benefits in general, and in particular, disease, wars, mental afflictions, and cruel

 treatment of others have been pacified. Further, if we examine well using our intelligence that can discriminate between what is correct and not, we can ultimately discover the definitive meaning.

Libraries filled with scriptures are extremely important: they are the root of all the Buddha’s teachings, the source of well-being and happiness for living beings, and critical for holding, maintaining, and expanding the teachings. Seeing the supreme importance of sustaining the lineage of these wonderful temples with their libraries, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche built the Vajra Vidya Library with the intention of giving his complete support to the continued existence of the temples and their treasures, created by the kindness of past Tibetan translators and scholars. In particular, Thrangu Rinpoche wished to preserve the special scriptures of the scholars and masters in the Kagyu tradition, the peerless protector of beings, led by the glorious Gyalwang Karmapa, the Buddha himself, and his heart sons. The texts include the tradition of commentary on major texts—sutras, tantras, and texts on logic—as well as oral and key instructions with their continuous and authentic blessing. All these writings are vast, profound, and replete with glorious and beneficial qualities. In maintaining this legacy and opening the doors to its future, Thrangu Rinpoche is helping to sustain the practices of explaining, debating, and writing about the Dharma. These scriptures are critical for listening, contemplating, and meditating on the precious teachings.

Furthermore, without regard for life or limb, the translators and scholars of the past went through tremendous difficulties to write down the Buddha’s teachings and the key instructions on palm leaves, and other types of paper, and carry these heavy volumes on their backs to Tibet, where they could spread the teachings in the dark country. Contrary to the way things are now, in those days, it was not easy to make copies of texts.  One had to write out by hand the books that were needed, and further, ink, paper, and funding in general was extremely difficult to find. Nevertheless, for the sake of the precious Dharma, the translators and scholars disregarded hardship and exhaustion; through a vast aspiration to lead all others to enlightenment and through intense effort, they elucidated the Buddha’s teachings that shone like the sun.

Compared to their efforts, ours are like the water in the hoofprint of an ox measured against the vast ocean. However, not to be lost in idleness or indolence, we marshaled the forces of diligence and took them as our model.  Following the example of the deeds of the previous translators and scholars, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche built the Vajra Vidya Library. Here, the precious scriptures of the Victorious One and the treatises that comment on them in general, and in particular, the texts of oral and key instructions from the practice lineages of the eight great chariots were brought into the modern era through computers and other electronic devices, which allowed these teachings to be published and distributed. Today, we can directly hear and see the results of this great undertaking to serve and honor the precious teachings, which are certain to bring great benefit to all living beings and to the Dharma.

Composed at the Vajra Vidya Library in Varanasi by Tashi Phuntsok on February 5, 2013.