Resources for Studying Buddhism

Glancing through our resources page, I noticed our lack of sites on Buddhism. Sure enough, I had a few things on hand that anyone researching Buddhism in Japan or Buddhism in general will find quite useful. I’m not an expert in this area, but I’ll do my best to describe a couple of the great sites out there below. If you have anything to add, by all means leave a comment or email us!

The SAT Daizōkyō Text Database

SAT Database

The SAT Daiōkyō Text Database (http://21dzk.l.u-tokyo.ac.jp/SAT/index_en.html) is a collection of Buddhist canonical texts, the Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō, or Taishō Triptaka, in digital form produced by a committee at the University of Tokyo which aims to enhance the usability of these sources for researchers. As their website states,

[This database] reflects the results of our latest research regarding the methods of accurate gathering and confirmation of academic information. This is based on four main principles: (1) assuring the reliability of textual sources; (2) construction of a sustainable collaboration system for researchers; (3) achievement of cooperation between research projects while respecting individual independence, and (4) offering an interface that can apply these various functions in an integrated manner.

The site is available for access in both English and Japanese, and includes a useful User’s Guide to aid beginners in navigating the huge amount of material included in the collections, with additional instructions on the main search page.

The main search/browsing area neatly organizes the texts by title and volume, and allows the user to jump to a desired section by text, volume, or page number, with the text of the page appearing in the middle section of the webpage. There are useful options to alter your reading experience of the main text as presented, such as viewing it with or without kaeriten.

SAT main

SAT imageOn the left browsing sidebar there are also additional tabs for useful research tools and images of the text itself that can be accessed while browsing the typed text in the main reading frame to the right. This is especially useful for those who need or want to see the original printed text or double-check the accuracy of the database’s reproduction in type.

To the right, there are also mobile (and closable) sidebar windows with additional digital research tools, such as the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism for cross-referencing while you read. Also for the convenience of reading, there’s an option to collapse the header section of the site (via a little arrow on the right) so you can maximize your reading space. Aside from making available these very important works in the field of Buddhist studies, the SAT database’s major advantage and accomplishment seems to be its eminent ease of use and integration of digital resources into one place to create a seamless research experience for users, pooling the knowledge of a variety of top scholars in the field and their research tools.

Digital Dictionary of Buddhism

DDB

One of the digital resources integrated into the SAT Daiōkyō Text Database is the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism 電子佛教辭典 (http://www.buddhism-dict.net/ddb/ ). The DDB contains an extensive amount of information that includes more than just dictionary resources, but at its heart is:

a compilation of Chinese logograph-based terms, texts, temple, schools, persons, etc. found in Buddhist canonical sources. The Chinese-Japanese-Korean-Vietnamese/English Dictionary [CJKV-E] is a compilation of Chinese logographs, as well as logograph-comprised compound words, text names, person names, etc., found in East Asian Confucian, Daoist, Neo-Confucian texts, as well as other historical sources. Its information on individual logographs is intended to be comprehensive, including pronunciations and meanings from ancient and modern sources from the Sinitic cultural sphere including China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Modern-day compound words are included incidentally, but the coverage of modern materials is not intended to be comprehensive.

DDB topicalSearching the dictionary can be done through a standard search engine entry box, or through browsing via a wide array of topical indexes, including radical, strokes, persons, temples, schools, texts, or places, maybe of which are then subdivided by geographical area to cover a huge range of locales.

In the spirit of continuing to build the DDB as a resource for scholars, unlimited access is based on contributions to the database. You can gain 2 years of unlimited access with a 350 word or greater contribution to the contents, or through paid subscription. Those who want only limited use can gain it for a total of 10 searches by entering a “guest” username, and others may gain unlimited access if their institution has a paid subscription.

But even if you aren’t looking to do extensive searches for content, there are a number of other external resources on the site that will be incredibly helpful for people in the religious studies field, including a list of lexical resources such as the Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon, or a list of textual databases and collections, such as the Thesaurus Literaturae Buddhicae or the Chinese Buddhist Electronic Text Association (CBETA). Also useful is the DDB’s extensive background information on the resource itself, including a handy guide on how to cite its material. If you have a chance and this is your field of inquiry, definitely check out what the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism has to offer.

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That’s it for now, but if anyone has other suggestions of additions, or would like to review some of the databases they use for studying Buddhism or religion in Japan, feel free to shoot us an email and let us know!

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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