A ceremony to mark the introduction of SuttaCentral.net to Sri Lanka was held on May 31 at the Nelum Pokuna with the blessings of the Maha Sangha and Ven. Ajahn Sujato.
Venerable Ajahn Sujato
“The world is afflicted by death and decay. But the wise do not grieve, having realized the nature of the world.” – Gautama Buddha
Perhaps it is this knowledge that fuels the desire of more and more people across the world to seek the wisdom of Buddhism.
In fact, research conducted by the Pew Research Centre in 2015 revealed the number of Buddhists, around the world, is expected to increase from 488 million to about 511 million between 2010 and 2030.
The research points towards verity, that people across the world are more aware of and interested in Buddhism.
These developments are evidently the culmination of efforts by enthusiasts, who toil to impart the wisdom of the Buddha. Since its introduction to the island in the 3rd century BC, Buddhism has withstood turbulent times, including a struggle to revive the religion during the times of colonial endorsement of other religions.
Despite evidence to suggest Buddhist links between the ancient Greeks through the Middle Ages, it was the labour of Western scholars and philosophers that shed light on Buddhism in the West.
The Western world had little or no awareness about what unifying wisdom or spirituality linked countries stretching from Sri Lanka to China. Max Müller, Alexander Cunningham, Eugene Burnouf, Rhys-Davids and Arthur Schopenhauer were some of the key figures who changed Western thinking and delved into oriental studies, which ultimately led to the search of Buddhist knowledge in the West.
"The objective of this website is to remove any obstruction or barrier of understanding the Buddha’s teachings. It is also freely available to anyone who seeks the wisdom of Buddhism, free of charge"
Along came figures such as the Irishman Laurence Carroll who was ordained in Burma as Venerable Dhammaloka and campaigned against the colonial powers on behalf of the Burmese. Henry Steel Olcott, a Buddhist modernist is revered for his labours in interpreting Buddhism through a Westernised lens and for leading the Buddhist revival in Ceylon.
Today Sri Lanka is set to be introduced to SuttaCentral, an online platform containing early Buddhist texts including a vast collection of teachings attributed to the Buddha and his earliest disciples. www.suttacentral.net contains the traditional texts known as the Thripitaka or “Three Baskets”, which are regarded as sacred canon in all schools of Buddhism.
SuttaCentral hosts the texts in original languages – especially Pali - as well as translations in 40 languages, including Sinhala.
Unique to SuttaCentral, however, are the comparisons and parallels, which illustrate the relationship between these collections, said the Public Liaison for SuttaCentral, Deepika Weerakoon.
“The objective of this website is to remove any obstruction or barrier of understanding the Buddha’s teachings. It is also freely available to anyone who seeks the wisdom of Buddhism, free of charge,” she added.
The principal founding member of this platform is Venerable Ajahn Sujato, hailing from Australia. Born Anthony Best, to a liberal Catholic family in Perth, he left a promising career as a musician after travelling to Thailand, where he discovered the forest tradition of Ven. Ajahn Chah.
It is commonly known in the West as the Thai Forest Tradition; a lineage of Theravada Buddhist monasticism. The tradition is distinguished from other Buddhist traditions by its doctrinal emphasis of the notion that the mind precedes the world.
Ven. Ajahn Sujato took higher ordination in 1994. He spent his years in Thailand in monasteries and remote hermitages, where he learned in depth of the practices of loving-kindness or Metta. Upon his return to Australia, he not only founded the Santi Forest Monastery in New South Wales but also penned several guides including the ‘A Swift Pair of Messengers’ and ‘A History of Mindfulness’.
One of his most important interests, however, is the development of SuttaCentral.net since its founding in 2004. “Ven. Ajahn Sujato invested almost 15 years on the development of SuttaCentral,” said Deepika.
"A new translation of the four Pali volumes or Nikāyasis made available through SuttaCentral created under the guidance of Ven. Ajahn Sujato. Oral traditions of Buddhism were once recorded in ancient texts to preserve the teachings of Lord Buddha. Ven. Ajahn Sujato has converted these to the modern languages of our time to make the teachings of Buddhism more accessible."
His tireless efforts have brought together a team of international scholars to bring Lord Buddha’s teachings from diverse traditions under one platform, which can be accessed from anywhere in the world. “This is not a Government funded effort. This project was funded by the people. It is heartening to know that people reach out to us in search of Dhamma as we have an average of 2,000 visitors to the site every day, from all over the world,” she added.
A ceremony to mark the introduction of SuttaCentral (www.suttacentral.net) to Sri Lanka was held on May 31 at the Nelum Pokuna in collaboration with the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress with the blessings of the Maha Sangha and Ven. Ajahn Sujato.
“The main purpose of this event is to promote to the Sri Lankan general public how to conveniently access and apply the teachings of the Buddha as a daily habit,” Deepika explained. The ceremony was marked by a chanting of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, followed by a sermon by Ven.
SuttaCentral, an online platform containing early Buddhist texts including a vast collection of teachings attributed to the Buddha
SuttaCentral.net contains the traditional texts known as the Thripitaka regarded as sacred canon in all schools of Buddhism.
Not a Government funded effort. This project is funded by the people.
As their latest project, a new translation of the four Pali volumes or Nikāyas is made available through SuttaCentral created under the guidance of Ven. Ajahn Sujato. Oral traditions of Buddhism were once recorded in ancient texts to preserve the teachings of Lord Buddha. Ven. Ajahn Sujato has converted these to the modern languages of our time to make the teachings of Buddhism more accessible.
The contents of four volumes will be indexed by search engines so that the contents will appear in Google search results while the URL previews such as on Twitter, Facebook are also available.
The translations emphasise on accuracy and clarity and make navigation easy with the clear and easy guidance.
It also gives us a way of reliably and consistently referencing the Pali text at a granular level, something that has never before been possible. With cutting-edge progressive web applications and technologies, the platform is ideal for anyone seeking to start a journey towards mindfulness.