Finally, Buddhist texts in Marathi

By Varsha Torgalkar, Pune Mirror, Feb 2, 2016

BARTI and govt-appointed committee will oversee translation of the Tripitaka as part of Dr Ambedkar's 125th birth anniversary

Maharashtra, India -- In a much-delayed but nevertheless welcome initiative, the Maharashtra government has finally decided to translate the precious Buddhist scripture, Tripitaka, into Marathi to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary year of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Despite the rich heritage that Marathi literature commands and the state having produced several renowned Buddhist scholars, there are no complete translations of the Buddha's sermons available in Pali.

In August 2015, the Babasaheb Ambedkar Research and Training Institute (BARTI) put forward a proposal to the social justice ministry, which in turn passed a government resolution to constitute the committee for the same on January 13.

Said BARTI director-general D R Parihar, "The philosophical teachings of Gautam Buddha are conserved in Pali language. The Buddha delivered sermons in language that the common man could understand. Studying the literature helped Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar to better understand the values of equality, freedom, fraternity and social justice — the basis of the directive principles of the Constitution of India. Vipashyana Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri, has published Tripitakas in Pali and we will take help from the centre.

The committee will have nine members, including the minister for social justice, the vice chancellor of Savitribai Phule Pune University and the director-general of BARTI. Gautam Chabukswar, MLA of Pimpri and a member of the committee, expressed satisfaction that the government had finally acceded to this longpending demand of Ambedkar followers. "Within a month, we will hire Pali, Buddhist and Marathi scholars to translate 140 Granthas or 50,000 pages of the Tripitaka. It is a mammoth task and will require five years according to primary estimates. The government will decide on the funding once we finalise the proposal," he said.

The Pali language department at SPPU, one of the few centres of Buddhist philosophy and the language in the state, will play a major role in the project. Head of department Mahesh Devkar, one of the experts on the government- constituted committee, said, "Though no complete and standardised translation is available, scholars in different time frames have partially translated it into Marathi."

Elaborating on the Tripitaka, he said, "Buddhist scripture is divided into three sections — Sutta Pitaka, Vinaya Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka. Sutta Pitaka is a message for the common people while Vinaya Pitaka guides the Buddha Bhikhhu on life as a monk. Abhidhamma Pitaka is a complete analysis of the Buddhist doctrine."