Currently, it is widely acknowledged that the Pāli Tipiṭaka, the scriptures of the Theravada Buddhist tradition, serves as a "Dhamma-cetiya" - a repository where a complete set of inscribed palm-leaf manuscripts resides. Regrettably, these invaluable manuscripts have succumbed to the effects of time, influenced by climatic conditions, pests, ignorance of people, and inadequate storage. Furthermore, there exists a scarcity of individuals capable of comprehending the ancient scripts employed in these manuscripts.
Hence, the Digital Humanities Center (DHC) bears the responsibility of devising programs to support all facets of the project, spanning from the initial step of digitizing the palm-leaf manuscripts to the final stage of producing the critical version of the Pāli Tipiṭaka. At present, our efforts are concentrated on constructing a database analysis system and associated programs. These tools establish a connection between the text stored within the database and the original manuscript images. They facilitate a direct textual comparison of each manuscript, perform statistical analyses on these comparisons, and generate comprehensive reports designed for the editorial process.
The MSJ program was developed to keep relevant information and distinctive attributes of the manuscripts, including their location, script, page count, dimensions, condition, etc. The APMS program assumes the role of generating digital images for selected manuscripts, a crucial step before transliteration. It divides five-folio digital image files into discrete, one-folio digital images.
As depicted in the illustration, the upper frame pertains to odd-numbered pages situated at the front of the folios, while the lower frame corresponds to even-numbered pages on the reverse side of the same folios. Subsequent to cropping, all image files will be automatically organized in sequence based on their Anka numbers (pagination indicators on palm-leaf manuscripts, formed by combining consonants with vowels and positioned at the center of the left-hand margin on the reverse side of each folio).
The data entry program, referred to as ODEM, grants online accessibility to manuscript images, enabling project staff to methodically input the manuscript content into the database, page by page. They proficiently read Pāli texts inscribed in different local scripts, and then meticulously transliterate them into Pāli Roman script, as outlined in the CSAM.
The ITAP program analyzes the transcribed data sourced from ODEM and generates a comprehensive synoptic table. This table serves as a resource for researchers well-versed in linguistics, archaeology, and Buddhist studies, enabling them to meticulously review, align, and validate the entire dataset. Should they identify instances where certain clusters of words could be disentangled, they will diligently explore opportunities for revision and realignment.
After the alignment process is completed, the resulting output will be passed on to the Editing Program (EP). Subsequently, equipped with specialized technical knowledge, researchers will undertake a diligent examination of the texts, scrutinizing each word methodically and impartially. Their decisions will rest upon solid evidence drawn from existing manuscripts and supplementary materials, without any bias.
The Dhammachai Tipiṭaka Project will finalize the examination of the palm-leaf manuscripts and release the “Dhammachai Edition of Pāli Tipiṭaka” in 2 distinct formats: a printed critical edition and a digital version. The digital version is being developed through the D-Tipital program and will be accessible online. It will provide users with a Book View, Text View, and Synoptic View for convenient analysis, along with additional features such as retrieving the original manuscript image, adding comments, and a range of reading tools.