dinsdag 18 juli 2017

The man behind Gene Smith and scanning the Tibetan canon: Mangaram

Last year a group of selected ritual specialists, Lerab Ling's umdzes, chopon and a translator -myself- went to Dodrupchen Rinpoche's monastery in Sikkim, to learn the Longchen Nyingtik ritual tradition of Dodrupchen gompa.
There I was able to gather almost their entire collection of publications related to the rituals the Longchen Nyingtik cycle. I arranged for the TBRC, now BDRC, to have all the pechas scanned. In the process I met Mangaram and we decided to have lunch in Delhi. To my surprise he turned out to be the former asistent of the legendary Gene Smith for over 30 years until his passing away a few years ago.

Mangaram: "Smith must have been a reincarnation or so, looking at the karmic connections he had with so many Tibetans and what he accomplished."

"Smith went to Leiden in the Netherlands to study more Sanskrit. Then he decided to go to India to meet the Tibetans who had just fled there from China. During that time, there were not so many flights to India, one had to go by boat. He finally managed to get on an oil tanker to Delhi but got stuck in Egypt because of the war with Pakistan for 2 months. Finally he managed to get to Bombay, after which he went to Kathmandu. After staying there for a bit, teaching English to rich Nepali kids, he went to India."

"Smith was advised not to go to Dharamsala, since then the Indian government would suspect him to be involved with the CIA. So all the Rinpoches and lamas with texts came to him in Delhi. Then he started working for the Library of Congress and they printed many texts. Once, there was a flood in Delhi and the basement were the texts were stores flooded, so they had to print them again."

"I worked in his house and organised all the books. When he moved to Indonesia and later to Egypt, to new York and then to Boston, every time I helped to arrange the bookshelves, since I knew where the books had to be placed. And he was not happy if something was misplaced."

"I often met Dilgo Khyentse rinpoche in Gene Smith's house in Delhi. He said several times I was a monk in my previous life. Dzongsar Khyentse and Rabjam Rinpoches, who were about the same age, always traveled with Dilgo Khyentse rinpoche. Back in the days they were in their teens and in Delhi their favourite thing to do was to go to the cinema and watch movies"

During the last part of Gene Smith's life and after his passing,  Mangaram worked for the TBRC, heading the main branch in India, where almost all of the major collections of the Tibetan canon and collected works have been scanned under his supervision, working with a team of around ten people. The pechas were scanned and then manually cleaned from any noise, meaning black spots and so on.

Most of the work concerning the Tibetan texts has now been done, and his team will soon be reduced to a few people who can be called upon for any remaining jobs. The BDRC will now focus more on other canons, like the Chinese and Pali canons and so the work will move to other countries. Also, most of the major monasteries these days like Shechen, Mindroling and Dzongsar, have upgraded their publication methods from the traditional woodblock printing to digital methods, which can be shared in digital format straight away without the need of scanning them.

We had lunch at Gene Smith's favourite restaurant in Delhi, Have More. The place to go for any Gene Smith admirers!

See also

Documentary about Gene Smith.
For a better and more complete story of his life
https://khyentsefoundation.org/project/gene-smith-and-tbrc and


1 opmerking:

Marieke van Vugt zei

I'll definitely go there when I'll be in Delhi in a few weeks! Thanks so much for sharing!