At Deer Park, as at Nalanda centuries ago, students come together from a vast array of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. While English is the primary language of instruction at the Institute, the study of classical languages enables students and practitioners to enter more deeply into the authentic meaning of the scriptures and philosophical treatises.
The Nalanda tradition has been well preserved in the Tibetan Buddhist system of study and practice, which today is followed by great numbers of people all over the world. Most international students of Tibetan Buddhism study and practice using translated texts, yet with the effort to learn to read the texts in Tibetan, a fuller world of meaning opens to them as they discover the nuances that only the original language can convey. At the same time, there is a pressing need for more translators to translate the vast Tibetan canon into English and other languages. With both these aims in mind, Deer Park Institute has made a priority of offering courses in classical Tibetan language. Annual month-long intensive Classical Tibetan courses have been offered since 2006, at both beginners and intermediate levels. In addition, since 2010, the Institute has been developing a comprehensive Tibetan language curriculum, covering both classical and modern spoken Tibetan.
Deer Park also offers regular short courses and workshops in Sanskrit, the original language of Mahayana Buddhist scriptures and most classical Hindu texts. Participants in these courses study key Buddhist texts such as the Praises to Twenty-One Taras and Samantabhadra’s Aspiration, learning both the meaning of the words and the way to chant them with correct pronunciation and traditional melody. Regular Sanskrit mantra-chanting workshops are also held alongside other Buddhist courses, and philosophy teachings at the Institute are often opened with traditional Sanskrit and Pali chants.