C.V. Starr East Asian Library Receives Bön Canon Gift from the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center

NEW YORK, August 19, 2008 On June 16, the C.V. Starr East Asian Library acquired as a generous donation a 501-volume set of the Bön Canon from the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center in New York City. The Bön religion, despite having incorporated many influences from Tibetan Buddhist schools, remains distinct for tracing its doctrine and teachings to Shenrab Miwo and its historical roots to the ancient kingdom of Shangshung, which is said to have stretched from western Tibet into what is now northern India and Pakistan.


The Canon contains two sections: the Bön Kanjur (179 volumes) and the Bön Tanjur (322 volumes). The Kanjur—more precisely the “Ka”—is primarily comprised of teachings attributed to Shenrab Miwo. The edition donated to Columbia University was published by the Ancient Tibetan Text Publishing House (Lhasa) and printed in Chengdu in 1999. It most closely represents the content of the Belkyung manuscript Kanjur from eastern Tibet, and includes an especially valuable unnumbered volume which records the teaching lineages.

The Tanjur—here called the “Katen”—contains the commentaries of later teachers and treasure-revealers, or finders of hidden texts. The edition donated to Columbia was compiled and published in 1998 by Sokdé Tenpé Nima Rinpoché from Nagchukha. It includes 22 volumes unavailable in preceding editions. As a set, these versions of the Bön Kanjur and Tanjur comprise one of the later and more inclusive formations in a canonization process dating back to at least the fifteenth century.

Users may access the Bön Canon in the Rare Books Room of the C.V. Starr East Asian Library. Please contact the Tibetan Studies Librarian (lh2112@columbia.edu) for information on catalogs and other finding aids for locating individual titles or authors.

The C. V. Starr East Asian Library is one of the major collections for the study of East Asia in the United States, with over 820,000 volumes of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, and Western language materials, as well as some holdings in Mongol and Manchu, and over 6,500 periodical titles. The collection, established in 1902, is particularly strong in Chinese history, literature, and social sciences; Japanese literature, history, and religion, particularly Buddhism; and Korean history. The Library’s website is located at: www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/indiv/eastasian/.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services, is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 25 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries at www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb is the gateway to its services and resources.

8/19/08 LMK