From 1989 through 2008, more than two million texts have been offered to over 3,300 monasteries and nunneries in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Ladakh, and Tibet. These offerings constitute the most extensive donation of texts in Buddhist history.
The Yeshe De Project was founded by Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche in 1981 to focus efforts and resources on Tibetan text preservation and translation. Named after the prolific Tibetan translator, Yeshe De (pronounced "yay-shay Day), this project began researching and collecting texts from around the world.
The Yeshe De staff is an entirely non-profit operation. All our books are given free of charge. All staff members have made a commitment to this work and donate their services as a spiritual practice. With over thirty years of publishing experience, the Yeshe De staff has developed the skills to maximize resources and minimize waste.
In 1989, Tarthang Rinpoche founded the World Peace Ceremony in Bodhgaya, India, the place where the Buddha demonstrated enlightenment. Tarthang Rinpoche quickly saw that the World Peace Ceremony would be an ideal setting for a mass distribution of texts directly to Tibetan practitioners, monks and nuns, monasteries, libraries, and centers located throughout the Buddhist areas of the Himalayas and Indian sub-continent.
The intention in preparing and distributing books at the World Peace Ceremony has been to create a comprehensive set of study materials for Tibetans committed to their heritage.
Message from the Founder of the Yeshe De Project
Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche
"In 1981, some ten years after its founding in America, Dharma Press completed a 120-volume collection of the Tibetan Buddhist Canon. An eight-volume Research Catalogue and Bibliography was released in 1983. That same year, I founded the Yeshe De Project to focus on text preservation and distribution, and soon we began work on Great Treasures of Ancient Teachings.
To date, we have managed to print 627 atlas-sized western-style volumes, preserving over 2,000 Tibetan pothi that hold more than 30,000 titles by nearly 400 authors. Our hope is that this enormous set, when completed, will help restore the monastic libraries destroyed in the 1960s and revitalize Dharma study and practice.
Beginning in 1989, the Yeshe De Project took on the additional task of preparing texts that I selected from Great Treasures to offer directly to the Sangha attending the annual rNying-ma sMon-lam Chen-mo (World Peace Ceremony).
Over the last fifteen years, we have been able to provide practitioners of all four Tibetan schools with classical Mahayana teachings of enormous value at this crucial point in Dharma history.
For over 2,500 years, the teachings of the Enlightened Ones uplifted all civilizations that came in contact with their spiritual power and beauty. Transmitted throughout Asia by realized masters, the texts and teaching lineages opened the path of liberation for countless beings. They inspired rich traditions of sacred art and instilled a deep love of knowledge, fostering compassionate, peaceful action that harmonized the human and natural realms.
The Land of Snow played a special role in this transmission, for it housed and preserved the most comprehensive collection of Dharma texts of any Buddhist land. For more than thirteen hundred years, even as the Dharma declined across most of Asia, these texts, transmitted through unbroken lineages of enlightened masters, have kept vital the living spirit of Enlightenment.
Some fifty years ago, the forces of aggression, confusion, and greed gravely endangered the transmission of the Tibetan Dharma traditions. The exodus generated by a program of systematic destruction made our civilization’s treasures available to the rest of the world. If the survival of this tradition can be assured, humanity may reap untold benefit. The Dharma could transform the world’s suffering and dark despair and alleviate the meaninglessness and chaos that increasingly oppress individuals and societies.
To support the continuity of Tibet's ancient tradition to the next generation, the Yeshe De Project has distributed, completely free of charge, more than one million Dharma books to individuals, libraries, monastic colleges, monasteries, nunneries, retreat centers, and settlements—more than 3,300 centers in India, Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan, Ladakh, and Tibet.
Considering our limited resources and knowledge, the magnitude of this unusual and possibly unprecedented accomplishment challenges the imagination. Only full-hearted engagement in vigorous and thoughtful effort, sustained by the blessings of the lineage over a long period of time, has enabled this project to succeed. Working for the higher purpose of preserving the wisdom of the East, we enjoy the challenge of applying the technology of the West to the preservation of universally beneficial wisdom. And we have the satisfaction of knowing that every book we print has the power to bring clarity, peace, joy, and love into the world. We hope these scriptures endure for a long time to come.
If anyone would like to join in this deeply meaningful work, they are very welcome. We need people with Tibetan language skills, as well as those who would like to offer their technical expertise in typesetting, printing, and binding. If you wish to perfect your skills or learn new ones, working intensively with us for a year or more will surely increase your level of mastery.
Another way to further this project is to contribute financial support, for we have few large sponsors and no government grants. For the most part we rely only the funds we raise among our own organizations. We are not certain how much longer we will be able to continue, for at the end of every year, our resources are stretched to the breaking point. But the beauty of the Dharma is irresistible, and the need is urgent. So we make great efforts to print as much as we possibly can.
Please know that any support you offer will make a truly significant difference. In return, I assure you that your contribution will not be wasted: It will flow into a stream of merit that will never be lost until all beings reach Enlightenment. Such is the power of the truth and goodness of Dharma. I wish you every opportunity to connect with this blessing."
Tarthangpa Kunga Gellek
Director of the Yeshe De Project Odiyan, USA, 2005