Introducing the Tibetan Language for Dharma Practitioners

Learning the basics of the Tibetan language, including important dharma terms, led by Lama Phurbu Tashi Rinpoche
Tibetan Language for Dharma Practitioners
The Gampopa Center of Annapolis (map)
Sundays, 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM

Registered for the course? Click above to access archived course videos. (Password required.)

Our friend Tree was planing to go to take a Tibetan language course up in Woodstock, New York, for a month. When Rinpoche heard about Tree's plan, he said "It may not be very easy go all the way up there for learn Tibetan. I can teach you Tibetan if you think that will be helpful!" That is how the plan of Tibetan language course manifested. If you are interested, please come and join us. Our Tibetan Language course starts Sunday 8/28, 3:30pm to 5pm. The course will run for 10 weeks, and costs $100, or $80 for Supporting Members.

Course Objectives

To learn how to read, write, and speak, to read and write Tibetan is easier than many other languages but to be able to speak will take time. In this 10 sessions course we will learn some basic every day useful conversations and important Buddhist philosophical terms.




To register online, click the Eventbrite link above. To register via check or cash, please email to arrange your registration. 

"When anyone wants to investigate Buddhist thought today, Tibetan language is the best means through which to do it," said the spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He said besides the acquisition of modern education, the preservation of Tibetan language, culture and Buddhism is important.

The creation of the Tibetan language corresponds to the spread of Buddhism from India into Tibet. In the seventh century, the Tibetan King Srong-btsan-sgam-po systematically prepared the foundation for the transmission of Buddhism to Tibet. Foreseeing the need for a written languagesuitable for translating Buddhist texts from Sanskrit, Srong-btsan-sgam-po appointed a scholar, Thon-mi Sambhota, to travel to India and develop the Tibetan system of writing.

The first writing to use the Tibetan alphabet delineated rules of conduct for all Tibetans to follow. These sixteen rules (link to sixteen rules) were based on moral virtues from the Buddhadharma.

In the eighth century, Tibet’s thirty-eighth king, Trisong Detsen, invited the foremost Buddhist scholars from India to come to Tibet and formally establish the Dharma. He also selected 108 young scholars to be trained as translators in India. Within a single generation, the Vinaya, Sutras, and Abhidharma, as well as many treatises by Mahayana masters and the entire body of Tantras, had been translated.

Tibetan Buddhists regard the Tibetan script as sacred, since it was formed from Sanskrit, a sacred language in India. Accordingly, texts are never put on the ground or stepped over, and damaged pages containing Tibetan script are never thrown away, but are instead burned in a special way.

Since the classical Tibetan language was specifically created for Dharma translation, it contains many specialized words to express Buddhist concepts. For example, there are several different terms that describe “mind,” each with a slightly different meaning. For anyone engaged in the serious study of Tibetan Buddhism, it is important to learn the classical Tibetan language. By understanding the subtlety of Tibetan terms, one can gain a deeper understanding of the texts.