TREASURY OF LIVES
General Editor: Alexander Gardner
An illustrated website of biographies of religious figures in Tibetan Buddhism. Each biography is linked with the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC) and Himalayan Art Resources (HAR). Independent scholars, professors, and graduate students, including Dan Martin, Cyrus Stearns, Sarah Jacoby, Ron Garry, and Gyurme Dorje, wrote the biographies and essays now on the site. Gene Smith and Jeff Watt have been invaluable advisors for the site at all stages. The website is a project of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation. Contributions to this collaborative effort are welcome.
The Treasury website is designed to associate each biography with five categories: tradition, community, historical period, geography, and natural landmark. Traditions are broadly conceived as having either institutional or doctrinal independence. Community includes both monastic institutions and clan structures. Geography includes both “traditional” and contemporary organizations of Tibetan space: one can browse via the Tibetan categories of U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo, within which are further divisions, or by contemporary provinces, prefectures, and counties. The category of "Natural Landmarks" includes mountains, lakes, and caves with which religious figures are associated. All of these categories – known as “facets” in the terminology of the web – can be combined with each others to optimize browsing, so that user might, for example, browse for 13th century Kagyu lamas who were associated with Kailash, expand it to include Sakya, or narrow it to exclude all but Drigung Kagyu.
The Treasury uses both Extended Wylie and the phonetic system created for the Rubin Museum of Art: no diacritics, no umlauts, no acute accents. The site anticipates multiple phonetic rendering of names, acknowledging the lack of a single authoritative system, particularly useful for those times when the proper Wylie spelling is not known. Searches for Phagmodrupa or Phakmodrupa will both be directed to Pagmodrupa. The Treasury database is borrowed from the Person records of TBRC, and the goal is to provide a biography of every known Tibetan religious figure, excluding those still living. There are currently over 150 biographies, with about 75 more in the editing stage. Comments by Alexander Gardner, 10/14/09.