Web and Digital Projects

Digital Dictionary of Buddhism

The Digital Dictionary of Buddhism [DDB] is a large-scale compilation of Chinese logograph-based terms, texts, temples, schools, persons, etc. found in Buddhist canonical sources. I began to compile this dictionary in 1986 in graduate school as a traditional book/paper dictionary, but converted into Web format in 1995, shortly after the creation of the WWWeb.

The first set of data uploaded to the Web contained 3,200 entries, all written by myself. Soon after this, collaborators began to join the project, aiding in both the development of content and technical sophistication. The dictionary was converted into an XML format influenced by TEI. In 2000, the project was joined by Michael Beddow, who created the programming infrastructure, XSLT output, search engine, and web security that is in place up to present, and has continued to maintain and update the system according to new developments in web technology. Over the past decade, the DDB has come to be embraced by the academic field of Buddhist studies to the extent that hundreds of scholars contribute interactively on an ongoing regular basis, providing both substantial new entries and minor corrections. In April of 2013, the DDB passed the threshold of 60,000 entries (the largest of any known Buddhological reference work). It is subscribed to by over 40 universities, is used in the teaching of courses on Buddhism, and is regularly cited in scholarly research articles and monographs. DDB entries have been contributed by more than 90 scholars, many of them acknowledged as leading experts in their sub-areas of Buddhist Studies. I have been responsible for the maintenance of the content of the work in its entirety, having edited and processed every one of the 60,000+ entries contained in the work. Maintenance of the DDB (and the CJKV-E Dictionary, described below) continues to constitute a significant portion of my daily work. One of the aspects of the projects that I believe to be especially noteworthy is that it has achieved a high level of sustainability and growth by a finely-balanced policy of limited free access for casual users and contribution or fee-based access for professional scholars and translators. A more detailed description of the history of the project is available here.

The DDB is also implemented in a interoperative manner with the online SAT Taishō Text Database, wherein when one opens up a text from the online Taishō canon and selects a portion of text with one's mouse, the words in the DDB contained in that text will be displayed in the right-hand window with short definitions and links into the DDB entries themselves. The DDB is also integrated into Jean Soulat's Smarthanzi Chinese lookup and parsing tool, which is available both as a web application and as a standalone Windows application.

The development of this project was supported in 2001-2002 by a JSPS Research Grant-in-aid. Topic: "Development of the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (東アジア仏教電子辞典の開発)."

The CJKV-English Dictionary

The Chinese-Japanese-Korean-Vietnamese/English Dictionary [CJKV-E] originated as part of the DDB project, but the two were separated out from each other as the need for two types of treatment of materials became apparent. The underlying XML infrastructure, search engine, and maintenance and editorial system is very close to that of the DDB. But there are two major differences in content: (1) The CJKV-E seeks to provide comprehensive orthographic information on each individual ideograph, with the broadest coverage possible. (2) The coverage of compound words is focused primarily on the classical texts from the East Asian Confucian and Daoist traditions, along with premodern East Asian history and secular literature. The past two JSPS grants that I have received were devoted to the development of the CJKV-E, and therefore its coverage has expanded rapidly over the past five years, currently exceeding 32,000 entries. Password access policies, editorial policies, and subscription policies are bundled together with the DDB.

The CJKV-E Dictionary has more competition as a Web resource, where Chinese ideographic dictionaries presently abound. However, the CJKV-E is distinguished from the rest of these in its being the only online lexicon of its type that is (1) not merely a computerized aggregation, and (2) not merely a reproduction of an older print dictionary. It is being actively developed in an ongoing manner by scholars in conjunction with the reading of classical texts. As distinguished from the numerous computer-aggregated East Asian language dictionaries proliferating on the Web, each of the entries in this CJKV-E dictionary is human-edited, and usually contains far more detailed information than any other comparable lexicon, being developed while consulting a wide range of authoritative Chinese, Korean, and Japanese sources, and usually through the direct reading of primary classical texts.

Creation and Management of the Worldwide Buddhist Scholar's Network: H-Buddhism

Charles Muller founded the international electronic scholarly discussion group known as H-Buddhism in August, 2001. (For Muller's more detailed personal account of the creation of the list, see buddhist_listserves.html). Since that time, H-Buddhism has become the basic forum of communication among scholars of Buddhist Studies and related fields, with a membership of 1,500 academics and independent scholars. Muller also founded and maintains the H-Buddhism book review system, which has published over 100 reviews of books in Buddhist Studies. H-Buddhism is one of the many H-NET lists supported by Michigan State University, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Japan Foundation. H-Net, Humanities Online is a broad initiative designed to facilitate electronic communications among historians and other social scientists.

Digitization and Web Publication of the Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms, by William Soothill and Lewis Hodous

Prior to the creation of the DDB, the “Soothill Dictionary” (originally published in 1937, containing about 13,000 entries) was the primary Chinese-English dictionary of Buddhist terms used by western scholars. Since the copyright had expired, we digitized it and distributed it under a Creative Commons license. The data was also incorporated into the DDB in corrected and revised form. The process of scanning and OCR was undertaken by Ms. Yasuko Suzuki, a student at Toyo Gakuen University. Final corrections and XML markup were applied by Charles Muller. This work was supported by a JSPS Research Grant-in-aid (2002-2004). Topic: "Digitization and Web Publication of the Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms (by William Soothill) and The Korean Buddhist Canon: A Descriptive Catalogue (by Lewis Lancaster)" (仏教辞典の電子化とインタネット掲載). Award: 1,700,000 yen. See http://www.acmuller.net/soothill/.

Digitization and Web Publication of the The Korean Buddhist Canon: A Descriptive Catalogue (by Lewis Lancaster)

In 1979, Lewis Lancaster (emeritus, UC Berkeley), published this landmark work that identified every text in the Korean Buddhist woodblock canon (高麗大蔵經) and cross-referenced these with the works listed in all other major Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, and Sanskrit canons and catalogues. With the permission and encouragement of the author, and with the support of a JSPS Grant-in-aid (仏教辞典の電子化とインタネット掲載), we scanned and OCR'd this book, supplied XML markup, and published it on the web at http://www.acmuller.net/descriptive_catalogue/. Scanning and OCR were carried out by Maki Miyaji. Final corrections and XML markup were applied by Charles Muller.

Digitization of the Indexes of the Major East Asian Buddhist Reference Works

With the initial support of a 1998-2000 JSPS Research Grant-in-aid under the topic of "Compilation of an Index of Terms from East Asian Historical Sources (東洋史関係語彙索引の編集)," we digitized (by scanning and OCR) the indexes of East Asian Buddhological reference works. These indexes were integrated with the indexes that were digitized in other projects in Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, to create a master index of East Asian Buddhist terms. This index, which contains 300,000 terms, is being updated regularly and maintained by Charles Muller at http://www.buddhism-dict.net/ddb/allindex-intro.html. The indexes digitized by Muller are as follows:

  1. Dongguk University Research Center for Buddhist Culture, ed. Kankoku bukkyō kaidai jiten 韓國佛解題辭典. Tokyo: Kokusho kangyōkai, 1982. {digitized by Charles Muller}
  2. I Jeong 李政. Hanguk bulgyo inmyeong sajeon 韓國佛教人名辞典 (The Korean Buddhist Biographical Dictionary). Seoul: Bulgyo sidaesa, 1993. {digitized by Charles Muller and Asa Suzuki} [HBIS]
  3. I Unheo, ed. Bulgyo sajeon 佛教辞典. 1961; Rpt. Seoul: Hongbeobweon, 1971. {Digitized by Yumi Okawa, Natsuko Mikami 三上夏子 and Hitomi Kakuta 角田仁美 (students of Toyo Gakuen University), 2006-2007. Final corrections by Charles Muller }
  4. Kamata Shigeo 鎌田茂雄, ed. Chūgoku bukkyōshi jiten 中国仏教史辞典. Tokyo: Tokyodō shuppan, 1981. {digitized by Yumi Ōkawa and Charles Muller}
  5. Nakamura Hajime 中村元, ed. Bukkyōgo daijiten 佛教語大辭典. Tokyo: Tokyo shoseki, 1985. -- {digitized by Charles Muller and Maki Miyaji}
  6. Ono Gemmyō 小野玄妙, ed. Bussho kaisetsu daijiten 佛書解説大辭典. Tokyo: Daitō shuppansha, 1999. {digitized by Charles Muller and Maki Miyaji}
  7. Saitō Akitoshi 齋藤昭俊 and Naruse Yoshinori 成瀬良徳, ed. Nihon bukkyō jinmei jiten 二本仏教人名辞典. Tokyo: Shinjinbutsu ōraisha, 1993. {digitized by Charles Muller and Megumi Katahira}
  8. Ui Hakuju 宇井伯寿, ed. Bukkyō jiten 佛教辭典. Tōkyō : Daitō Shuppansha, 1965. {digitized by Stefan Grace, Erez Joskovich, and Charles Muller}

H-Buddhism Zotero Bibliography Project

In March of 2012, I initiated the H-Buddhism Zotero Bibliography Project. This project brings the power of crowdsourcing to the construction of a fieldwide bibliography maintained by, and maintained for academic specialists of Buddhism. Presently supported by more than 90 scholars from around the world, our collection contains over 6,800 entries. Using the power of Zotero and Open Source, scholars may upload and download data freely, output bibliographies in their word processor and other software.