Preserving Classical Tibetan Language

Maitreya at Thikse Monastery

Texts translated by Guild members are presented in bilingual (Tibetan and English) or trilingual (Sanskrit, Tibetan, and English) editions to facilitate the learning of Tibetan by the student.

This site will provide access to completed and future translations, and to current projects.

In addition, Genla’s chief concern has been to preserve the Tibetan language by improving the ability of native and refugee Tibetans to read the ancient treasury of Tibetan Buddhist scriptures and to spell correctly based on these ancient texts. This would also facilitate communication among Tibetan speakers of modern spoken and written Tibetan.

Cultural genocide in Tibet has devastated Tibet’s traditional educational institutions. One effect is that Tibetans from different parts of Tibet and other Himalayan regions have difficulty understanding another dialect both orally and in writing, as there is often no common spelling for many words.  In addition, the daily use by native Tibetan speakers of other languages such as Chinese and English has meant the loss of knowledge of their traditional language by younger generations of Tibetan speaking peoples.  Many cannot read the Tibetan canon of Buddhist sutras, their Indian commentaries and the great collection of Tibetan commentaries, nor other more modern writings by Tibetan scholars and writers.

torma offering

To correct this loss of the ability to read and translate classical Tibetan, Genla has emphasized learning classical Tibetan pronunciation and spelling of ancient Buddhist texts, whether one is a native English or Tibetan speaker. The study of the ancient Buddhist texts requires knowing the ancient classical spelling of Tibetan. By studying Tibetan using its ancient pronunciation both lay and monastic Tibetans and non-Tibetans from Tibetan culture areas, as well as Tibetan scholars anywhere, would be able to read and understand the vast corpus of the Tibetan canon and also communicate better with each other.


In Tibetan monasteries in India, Genla has encouraged intensive reading of the Tibetan Buddhist sutras and commentaries using the ancient Tibetan pronunciation of all letters of a word. In addition in order to improve spelling in other ways, he has encouraged essay writing as emphasized in Western universities.