The Founding of the Association

   On October 3, 1949, scholars representative of the fields of Indian and Buddhist Studies gathered in the University of Tokyo's Department of Indian Philosophy and held a meeting to plan the formation of a scholarly association. The attending members were MIYAMOTO Shoson, KANAKURA Ensho, HIGATA Ryusho, HONDA Giei, YAMAGUCHI Susumu, TSUJI Naoshiro, HANAYAMA Shinsho, NAKAMURA Hajime, SAKAMOTO Yukio, NISHI Giyu, and MASUNAGA Reiho. The first general meeting was held at the University of Tokyo on October 15, 1951, bringing about the official establishment of the Association, with Professor Miyamoto as its first Chairman of Directors. This year, 2001, marks the 50th anniversary of the founding. At present the membership of the Japanese Association of Indian and Buddhist Studies exceeds 2,400, making it one of the largest scholarly organizations in the fields of the humanities.
   In addition to aiming for the scholarly advancement of Indian and Buddhist Studies, the Association was founded with the purpose of contributing to the advancement of cultural sciences in general, through close cooperation with scholars in and outside Japan in related fields. The Association Office is located in the Department of Indian Philosophy at the University of Tokyo. The Association has as its members not only individual researchers and scholars, but also organizations, namely research institutions, universities, and junior colleges with departments or lectures relating to Indian Philosophy and Buddhist Studies.


Indian and Buddhist Studies

   The term "Indian Studies," or "Indology," refers broadly to a group of scholarly fields dealing with the culture and materials (both literary and physical) of India. Indian Studies has its western origins in Europe, particularly in Great Britain, in the latter half of the 18th century. It includes and overlaps into the fields of philosophy, religion, linguistics, literature, art, history, and archaeology. Indian Studies more specifically seeks to investigate the thought and language of a wide range of source texts, including classical Sanskrit works, Brahmanical scriptures of the Vedas, Jaina literature, Buddhist documents in Sanskrit, Pali and related languages, poetry, and narrative literature. The contributions by members of the Japanese Association of Indian and Buddhist Studies can generally been classified by the term Indian philosophy, which deals with the various philosophical and religious systems of India, but have also included language and literature.
   "Buddhist Studies," or "Buddhology," refers to the scholarly investigation of Buddhism. Since India is the birthplace of Buddhism and, broadly speaking, Buddhism falls under the category of Indian philosophy and religion, Buddhist Studies can also be regarded as one part of Indian Studies. Needless to say, however, Buddhism was not confined to India, and was transmitted to Tibet, Southeast Asia, China, the Korean Peninsula, Japan, etc., and developed identities and characteristics wherever it spread. For this reason, Buddhism alone encompasses an extremely vast area of study, speaking both geographically and with respect to content. It therefore goes beyond the regional and cultural framework of India. What is called Buddhist Studies takes as its object of investigation not only Indian Buddhism, but the Buddhism of Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, and the Buddhism of East Asia, including Tibet, the Korean Peninsula, Japan, etc. The methodology of Buddhist Studies is the same as that of Indian Studies in that it focuses on objective and scientific investigation. This method of research was introduced from Europe in the Meiji Era into the study of Buddhism in Japan by NANJIO Bunyiu and TAKAKUSU Junjiro. Even prior to that, however, there existed in Japan a long tradition of Buddhist scholarship based on texts in Chinese translation, the fruits of which continue to work as an advantage to Buddhist scholarship in Japan.


Current Activities of the Association

1. The Annual Conference:
   The Academic Conference is a chance for Association members to present the results of their individual research to other scholars, and a chance for feedback and discussion on those results. In addition, it is an opportunity in which scholars of Indian and Buddhist Studies can gather under one large roof, exchange information and deepen friendships. At present the Conference is annual, and is held at one of the member academic institutions in eastern Japan and western Japan alternately. In addition to the general academic presentations, up-to-date issues are discussed in special panels and symposiums every year. There are also various events planned and held by the hosting school. Although it will mean hosting the Conference two years in a row in the same region, since this year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Association, and commemorative events are being scheduled at the University of Tokyo, it has been decided that the Conference will also be held at the University of Tokyo.

2. Scholarly Publications:
   The Japanese Association of Indian and Buddhist Studies publishes a journal, an online treatise database, and the Text Database of the Taisho Tripitaka (SAT). The Association's journal, Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies is put out bi-annually. There have been 98 volumes published to date.
   The Indian and Buddhist Studies Treatise Database is an online database gathering scholarly articles published in Japan relating to Indian and Buddhist Studies. Key words from each article are input as data, making an online search possible based on either a key word or the author's name. Construction of the Database began in 1984 and continues to the present. The Database is available to anyone (provided they agree to the conditions of use) over the Internet at the homepage of Association's Database Center. (http://www.inbuds.net/)
   The Text Database of the Taisho Tripitaka is the result of an ongoing effort to convert the entire Taisho Shinshu Daizokyo (Taisho Tripitaka) into machine-readable text files. The Taisho Shinshu Daizokyo, which includes nearly every Buddhist work in Chinese translation extant, is itself a monumental contribution from Japan to the world. The Database enterprise was begun in 1994 by the Association for Computerization of Buddhist Texts (ACBUT), an arm of the Japanese Association of Indian and Buddhist Studies. All texts input and converted to text files to date are available for download at the ACBUT's homepage.(http://www.l.u-tokyo.ac.jp/~sat/).

3. Commitment to Current Social Issues:
   The Japanese Association of Indian and Buddhist Studies has taken up many problems that have become issues of concern in society at large. The issues considered, such as the brain death/organ transplant debate, the ethics of life, environmental issues, are all current problems common to the entire world. They are also problems for which adequate solutions have not been found. The Association, as an organization responsive to the larger society, is not only committed to working towards academic advancement, but also to responding timely and positively to urgent societal issues.