Hat tip to @PaulkBiba for this – the most complete record of the words of the Buddha, plus many millions of pages of related commentaries, teachings and works such as medicine, history, and philosophy are now online thanks to the Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC) and Internet Archive (IA).
The Internet Archive Blog explains,
BDRC’s founder, E. Gene Smith, spent decades collecting and preserving Tibetan texts in India before starting the organization in 1999. Since then, as a neutral organization they have been able to work on both sides of the Himalayas in search of rare texts.
Several months ago in a remote monastery in Northeast Tibet, a BDRC employee photographed an old work and sent it in to their library. It was a text that the tradition has always known about, but which was long considered to have been lost. It’s very existence was unknown to anyone outside of the caretakers of the monastery that had safeguarded it for centuries.
The Kadampa school, active in the 11th and 12 centuries, was known to scholars – they knew who had started the tradition and where it fit in the history of Buddhism – but most of the writings from that period had not survived the centuries. And yet suddenly here was a lost classic of this tradition, the only surviving manuscript of the work: The exposition on the graduated path by Kadam Master Sharawa Yontan Drak (1070-1141).
Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the BDRC is also digitizing fragile palm leaf manuscripts in Thailand, Sanskrit texts in Nepal, and the entire Tibetan collection of the National Library of Mongolia.
Brewster Kahle, founder of Internet Archive, said,
In 2011 we announced that we had digitized every historic work in Balinese, and this year we are making Tibetan literature available. We hope that this is a trend that will see the literatures of many more cultures become openly available.