Guenther, H.

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PeopleGuenther, H.

Herbert V. Guenther(1917 - 2006)

Dr. Herbert Guenther (1917-2006) was one of the first translators of the Vajrayana and Dzogchen teachings into English. He was well known for his pioneering translations of Gampopa's Jewel Ornament of Liberation and Longchenpa's ངལ་གསོ་སྐོར་གསུམ་, ngal gso skor sgum, which was published as a trilogy under the title Kindly Bent to Ease Us.

He was born in Bremen, Germany, in 1917. He studied in Munich and Vienna, and then taught at Vienna University from 1943 to 1950. He then lived and taught in India, at Lucknow University from 1950 to 1958, and the Sanskrit University in Varanasi from 1958 to 1963. He then went to the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, where his students included Leslie Kawamura, Kennard Lipman, Steven Goodman and James Valby.

According to Steven Goodman, Guenther used to say that a good translator must do two things: 1) translate Tibetan terms based on the genre and approach in which they are being used, and 2) continually refine one's translation choices.

Guenther had many admirers and although many of his translation choices never caught on, his work did have a clear and undeniable influence on many translators. (Source Accessed July 22, 2020)

Also see Steven Goodman's article "Death of a Pioneer".

See a list of terms used by Guenther in translation on Rigpa Wiki here.

Herbert V. Günther on Wikipedia

"1. To give an example, if someone were to 'translate' the French il a le mal de tête as 'he has the evil of the earthenware pot,' which is the correct philological rendering and then were to claim that this is what the French understood by that phrase, he would be considered insane, but when someone proclaims such absurdities as 'embryo of Tathāgatha,' 'substantial body', 'eminated incarnation Body,' and so on, which are not even philologically correct but merely reveal utter incomprehension of the subject matter, by a strange volte-face, he is said to be a scholar."

~ "Bodhisattva - The Ethical Phase in Evolution" in The Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhism, page 123, note 1.

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