History of Dhammachai Tipiṭaka Project
Although the Lord Buddha passed away into Nirvana a long time ago, the absolute truth in his teachings is still beneficial and has been a guiding light for mankind for over 2600 years. Since the Buddha’s time, his disciples preserved and transmitted the Dhamma originally by way of mukkhapatha, “oral recitation”. This lasted until around 400 B.E. during the reign of King Vatta Gamani Abhaya, the pious Sinhala King of Sir Lanka, when the Pāli Tipiṭaka was first inscribed on palm leaves. Since then the Pāli Tipiṭaka, commentaries, sub-commentaries and sub-sub-commentaries have been transmitted by inscribing on the palm-leaf manuscripts which can be divided into 4 main traditions as follows:
Our ancestors had put a lot of effort into inscribing and preserving these palm-leaf manuscripts which have significant historical and cultural values as Buddhist documentary heritage. Unfortunately, over time the precious manuscripts have disappeared through "natural" causes and lack of knowledge of methods of preservation. Nowadays, very few people can read, preserve and make use of the manuscripts.
On the other hand, the Pāli Tipiṭaka has been reproduced in various scripts such as Sinhalese, Burmese, Khom, Thai, Lao, Lanna, Devanagari and Roman. There is no doubt that those editions of the Pāli Tipiṭaka have been extremely valuable and have been
appreciated among Buddhists and scholars of Buddhist Studies. However, it was some time ago that they were produced. The editorial process was limited to skills and technology available at that time.
Moreover, the number of palm-leaf manuscripts and other references such as dictionaries in those days were few. Furthermore, Lanna manuscripts, one of the most important references of the Pāli Tipiṭaka, have not been fully studied. Thus, Wat Phra Dhammakaya has launched “The Dhammachai Tipiṭaka Project” computerized database of the Pāli Tipiṭaka in order to support the Buddhist studies by all interested parties.
Objectives of the Project
1. To preserve the ancient palm-leaf manuscripts as Buddhist documentary heritage.
2. To create the Tipiṭaka databases that will link text to images of the manuscripts. This system will greatly facilitate the academics on Buddhist Studies.
3. To spread the teachings of the Lord Buddha throughout the world with various translated editions.
Contributions of the Project
Hundreds of manuscripts of all traditions will be preserved for future generations as Buddhist documentary heritage. This will give academics on Buddhist Studies worldwide easy access to our databases of the images of the manuscripts via internet. There is no need for them to travel to places where the manuscripts are kept or to ask for permission to access the manuscripts and to copy the text. Thus our ancestors’ great effort to create the manuscripts will bear fruit in our generation. Moreover, the texts will be translated into various languages, making it easier for everyone to understand the teachings of the Lord Buddha.