Glad to have a chance to present at a conference in Madrid, Spain about the Obaku Canon in Eurupe.
Conference: When the Himalaya Meets with Alps: International Forum on Buddhist Art & Buddhism's Transmission to Europe
Title: Finding the First Chinese Tripitaka in Europe: The 1872 Iwakura Mission in Britain and the Mystery of Ōbaku Canon in the India Office Library
Abstract: Although the creation of the Chinese Buddhist canon is a well-known event in East Asian cultural sphere, little is known about when and how Westerners became interested in this great textual tradition. As far as I know, the first Chinese Buddhist canon in Europe was a version of Northern Ming Canon which was reprinted in the main section of the Jiaxing canon and later in the Obaku canon in 1673 in Japan because of the promotion of the Jiaxing canon by the Chinese monk Yinyuan Longqi (1592-1673), the founder of the Japanese Obaku Zen tradition. In the late nineteenth century, Max Müller (1823-1900), the early pioneer in comparative religion, started a massive translation project of “Sacred Books of the East.” For this project, a request for Buddhist books was sent to Japan and the Japanese ambassador Iwakura Tomomi (1825-1883), the court noble who initiated the Meiji Restoration, responded with a delivery of an entire set of the Obaku edition to the Indian Office Library in London. (This set of the canon is still housed in London) Sinologist Samuel Beal (1825-1889) and Max Müller’s Japanese student Nanjō Bunyū (1849-1927) translated its entire catalogue into English in 1876 and 1883 respectively. In an attempt to rediscover the first Chinese canon in the West, my paper will investigate various historical events leading to the arrival of this canon in Europe and how Western interests in Eastern religions brought the canon to Britain through diplomatic maneuvers.