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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Xuan Zang or Xuanzang (c. 602 – 664), born Chen Hui or Chen Yi (Chen I), was a Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveller, and translator who described the interaction between China and India in the early Tang dynasty.

Variants of his name

Less common romanizations of “Xuanzang” include Hieun Tsang, Hwan Thsang, Hhuen Kwan, Hiouen Thsang, Hiuen Tsang, Hiuen Tsiang, Hsien-tsang, Hsyan-tsang, Hsuan Chwang, Yuan-chau, Huein-Tsang Huisheng Hsuan Tsiang, Hwen Thsang, Xuan Cang, Xuan Zang, Shuen Shang, Xuanzhang, Yuan Chang, Yuan Chwang, and Yuen Chwang. Hsüan, Hüan, Huan and Chuang are also found.

Tang Monk (Tang Seng) is also transliterated /Thang Seng/.[1]

Introduction

Born in what is now Henan province around 602, from boyhood he took to reading religious books, including the Chinese classics and the writings of ancient sages.

While residing in the city of Luoyang, Xuanzang was ordained as a śrāmaṇera (novice monk) at the age of thirteen. Due to the political and social unrest caused by the fall of the Sui dynasty, he went to Chengdu in Sichuan, where he was ordained as a bhikṣu (full monk) at the age of twenty. He later travelled throughout China in search of sacred books of Buddhism.

At length, he came to Chang’an, then under the peaceful rule of Emperor Taizong of Tang, Xuanzang developed the desire to visit India. He knew about Faxian‘s visit to India and, like him, was concerned about the incomplete and misinterpreted nature of the Buddhist texts that had reached China.

He became famous for his seventeen-year overland journey to India, which is recorded in detail in the classic Chinese text Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, which in turn provided the inspiration for the novel Journey to the West written by Wu Cheng’en during the Ming dynasty, around nine centuries after Xuanzang’s death.[2]

About India

Harihar Panda[3] writes … The earliest Chinese writers (e.g. Chang-k’ien and his successors) employ the term Shentu and Hsien-tsu (Sindhu) which is soon replaced by T’ien Chu succeeded by Intu. During the period of Xuanzang and I-tsing such names as Si-fang (the west), Wu-tien (the five countries of India), A-ti-ya-t’i-sha (Aryadesha), Po-lo-menkuo or Fan-Kuo (Brahmarashtra) and Indra Vardhana were also other connotations of India.

Early life

Xuanzang was born Chen Hui (or Chen Yi) around 602 in Chenhe Village, Goushi Town, Luozhou (near present-day Luoyang, Henan) and died on 5 February 664[4] in Yuhua Palace (in present-day Tongchuan, Shaanxi). His family was noted for its erudition for generations, and Xuanzang was the youngest of four children. His ancestor was Chen Shi, a minister of the Eastern Han dynasty. His great-grandfather Chen Qin served as the prefect of Shangdang present-day Changzhi, Shanxi) during the Eastern Wei; his grandfather Chen Kang was a professor in the Taixue (Imperial Academy) during the Northern Qi. His father Chen Hui was a conservative Confucian who served as the magistrate of Jiangling County during the Sui dynasty, but later gave up office and withdrew into seclusion to escape the political turmoil that gripped China towards the end of the Sui. According to traditional biographies, Xuanzang displayed a superb intelligence and earnestness, amazing his father by his careful observance of the Confucian rituals at the age of eight. Along with his brothers and sister, he received an early education from his father, who instructed him in classical works on filial piety and several other canonical treatises of orthodox Confucianism.

Although his household was essentially Confucian, at a young age, Xuanzang expressed interest in becoming a Buddhist monk like one of his elder brothers. After the death of his father in 611, he lived with his older brother Chén Sù (later known as Zhǎng jié) for five years at Jingtu Monastery in Luoyang, supported by the Sui state. During this time he studied Mahayana as well as various early Buddhist schools, preferring the former.

In 618, the Sui Dynasty collapsed and Xuanzang and his brother fled to Chang’an, which had been proclaimed as the capital of the Tang dynasty, and thence southward to Chengdu, Sichuan. Here the two brothers spent two or three years in further study in the monastery of Kong Hui, including the Abhidharma-kośa Śāstra. When Xuanzang requested to take Buddhist orders at the age of thirteen, the abbot Zheng Shanguo made an exception in his case because of his precocious knowledge.

Xuanzang was fully ordained as a monk in 622, at the age of twenty. The myriad contradictions and discrepancies in the texts at that time prompted Xuanzang to decide to go to India and study in the cradle of Buddhism.

He subsequently left his brother and returned to Chang’an to study foreign languages and to continue his study of Buddhism. He began his mastery of Sanskrit in 626, and probably also studied Tocharian. During this time, Xuanzang also became interested in the metaphysical Yogacara school of Buddhism.

His Journey

  • In 629, Xuanzang reportedly had a dream that convinced him to journey to India. Tang China and the Göktürks were at war at the time and Emperor Taizong of Tang had prohibited foreign travel.
  • Xuanzang persuaded some Buddhist guards at Yumen Pass and slipped out of the empire through Liangzhou (Gansu) and Qinghai in 629.[5]
  • He subsequently travelled across the Gobi Desert to Kumul (modern Hami City), thence following the Tian Shan westward, arriving in Turpan in 630. Here he met the king of Turpan, a Buddhist who equipped him further for his travels with letters of introduction and valuables to serve as funds.
  • Moving further westward, Xuanzang escaped robbers to reach Karasahr, then toured the non-Mahayana monasteries of Kucha.
  • Further west he passed Aksu before turning northwest to cross the Tian Shan‘s Bedel Pass into modern Kyrgyzstan. He skirted Issyk Kul before visiting Tokmak on its northwest, and met the great Khan of the Göktürks, whose relationship to the Tang emperor was friendly at the time.
  • After a feast, Xuanzang continued west then southwest to Tashkent, capital of modern Uzbekistan.
  • From here, he crossed the desert further west to Samarkand. In Samarkand, which was under Persian influence, the party came across some abandoned Buddhist temples and Xuanzang impressed the local king with his preaching.
  • Setting out again to the south, Xuanzang crossed a spur of the Pamirs and passed through the famous Iron Gates.
  • Continuing southward, he reached the Amu Darya and Termez, where he encountered a community of more than a thousand Buddhist monks.
  • Further east he passed through Kunduz, where he stayed for some time to witness the funeral rites of Prince Tardu, who had been poisoned. Here he met the monk Dharmasimha, and on the advice of the late Tardu made the trip westward to Balkh (modern Afghanistan), to see the Buddhist sites and relics, especially the Nava Vihara, which he described as the westernmost vihara in the world. Here Xuanzang also found over 3000 non-Mahayana monks, including Prajnakara,[6] a monk with whom Xuanzang studied early Buddhist scriptures. He acquired the important text of the Mahāvibhāṣa here, which he later translated into Chinese.
  • Prajñakara then accompanied the party southward to Bamyan, where Xuanzang met the king and saw tens of non-Mahayana monasteries, in addition to the two large Buddhas of Bamiyan carved out of the rockface.
  • The party then resumed their travel eastward, crossing the Shibar Pass and descending to the regional capital of Kapisi (about 60 kms north of modern Kabul), which sported over 100 monasteries and 6000 monks, mostly Mahayana. This was part of the fabled old land of Gandhara. Xuanzang took part in a religious debate here, and demonstrated his knowledge of many Buddhist schools. Here he also met the first Jains and Hindu of his journey.
  • He pushed on to Adinapur[7] (later named Jalalabad) and Laghman, where he considered himself to have reached India. The year was 630.

Journey in India

  • Xuanzang left Adinapur, which had few Buddhist monks, but many stupas and monasteries.
  • His travels included, passing through Hunza and the Khyber Pass to the east, reaching the former capital of Gandhara, Purushapura (Peshawar), on the other side.
  • Peshawar was nothing compared to its former glory, and Buddhism was declining in the region. Xuanzang visited a number of stupas around Peshawar, notably the Kanishka Stupa. This stupa was built just southeast of Peshawar, by a former king of the city. In 1908, it was rediscovered by D.B. Spooner with the help of Xuanzang’s account.
  • Xuanzang left Peshawar and travelled northeast to the Swat Valley.
  • Reaching Oḍḍiyāna, he found 1,400 old monasteries, that had previously supported 18,000 monks. The remnant monks were of the Mahayana school.
  • Xuanzang continued northward and into the Buner Valley, before doubling back via Shahbaz Garhi to cross the Indus river at Hund.
  • Thereafter he headed to Taxila, a Mahayana Buddhist kingdom that was a vassal of Kashmir, which is precisely where he headed next. Here he found 5,000 more Buddhist monks in 100 monasteries.
  • He went to Kashmir in 631, met a talented monk Samghayasas, and studied there.
  • Between 632 and early 633, he studied with various monks, including 14 months with Vinītaprabha, 4 months with Chandravarman and “a winter and half a spring” with Jayagupta.
  • During this time, Xuanzang writes about the Fourth Buddhist council that took place nearby, ca. 100 AD, under the order of King Kanishka of Kushana.
  • He visited Chiniot and Lahore as well and provided the earliest writings available on the ancient cities.
  • In 634, Xuanzang arrived in Matipura, nowadays known as Mandawar.[8]
  • In 634, he went east to Jalandhar in eastern Punjab,
  • before climbing up to visit predominantly non-Mahayana monasteries in the Kulu valley and
  • turning southward again to Bairat and then
  • Mathura, on the Yamuna river. Mathura had 2,000 monks of both major Buddhist branches, despite being Hindu-dominated.
  • Xuanzang travelled up the river to Shrughna, also mentioned in the works of Udyotakara,
  • before crossing eastward to Matipura, where he arrived in 635, having crossed the river Ganges. At Matipura Monastery, Xuanzang studied under Mitrasena.[9]
  • From here, he headed south to Sankasya (Kapitha), said to be where Buddha descended from heaven,
  • then onward to the northern Indian emperor Harshavardhana‘s grand capital of Kanyakubja (Kannauj).
  • It is believed he also visited Govishan present day Kashipur in the Harsha era, in 636, Xuanzang encountered 100 monasteries of 10,000 monks (both Mahayana and non-Mahayana), and was impressed by the king’s patronage of both scholarship and Buddhism. Xuanzang spent time in the city studying early Buddhist scriptures,
  • before setting off eastward again for Ayodhya (Saketa), homeland of the Yogacara school.
  • Xuanzang now moved south to Kausambi (Kosam), where he had a copy made from an important local image of the Buddha.
  • Xuanzang now returned northward to Sravasti,
  • travelled through Terai in the southern part of modern Nepal (here he found deserted Buddhist monasteries) and
  • thence to Kapilavastu, his last stop before Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha.
  • In 637, Xuanzang set out from Lumbini to Kusinagara, the site of Buddha‘s death,
  • before heading southwest to the deer park at Sarnath where Buddha gave his first sermon, and where Xuanzang found 1,500 resident monks.
  • Travelling eastward, at first via Varanasi,
  • He was then accompanied by local monks to Nalanda, the greatest Indian university of Indian state of Bihar, where he spent at least the next two years. He was in the company of several thousand scholar-monks, whom he praised. Xuanzang studied logic, grammar, Sanskrit, and the Yogacara school of Buddhism during his time at Nalanda. René Grousset notes that it was at Nalanda (where an “azure pool winds around the monasteries, adorned with the full-blown cups of the blue lotus; the dazzling red flowers of the lovely kanaka hang here and there, and outside groves of mango trees offer the inhabitants their dense and protective shade”) that Xuanzang met the venerable Silabhadra, the monastery’s superior.[10] Silabhadra had dreamt of Xuanzang’s arrival and that it would help spread far and wide the Holy Law.[11] Grousset writes: “The Chinese pilgrim had finally found the omniscient master, the incomparable metaphysician who was to make known to him the ultimate secrets of the idealist systems…The founders of Mahayana idealism, Asanga and Vasubandhu…Dignaga…Dharmapala had in turn trained Silabhadra. Silabhadra was thus in a position to make available to the Sino-Japanese world the entire heritage of Buddhist idealism, and the Siddhi Xuanzang’s great philosophical treatise…is none other than the Summa of this doctrine, the fruit of seven centuries of Indian Buddhist thought.”[12]
  • From Nalanda, Xuanzang travelled through several countries, including Pundranagara, to the capital of Pundravardhana, identified with modern Mahasthangarh, in Bangladesh. There Xuanzang found 20 monasteries with over 3,000 monks studying both the Hinayana and the Mahayana. One of them was the Vāśibhã Monastery (Po Shi Po), where he found over 700 Mahayana monks from all over East India.[13]
  • He also visited Somapura Mahavihara at Paharpur in the district of Naogaon, Bangladesh.
  • After crossing the Karatoya, he went east to the ancient city of Pragjyotishpura in the kingdom of Kamarupa at the invitation of its Hindu king Kumar Bhaskar Varman and spent three months in the region. He gives detailed account about culture and people of Kamrup.
  • Later, the king escorted Xuanzang back to the Kannauj at the request of king Harshavardhana, who was an ally of Kumar Bhaskar Varman, to attend a great Buddhist council there which was attended by both of the kings.
  • Xuanzang turned southward and travelled to Andhradesa to visit the Viharas at Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda. He stayed at Amaravati and studied ‘Abhidhammapitakam’. He observed that there were many Viharas at Amaravati and some of them were deserted.
  • He later proceeded to Kanchi, the imperial capital of Pallavas and a strong centre of Buddhism.
  • Traveling through the Khyber Pass of the Hindu Kush, Xuanzang passed through Kashgar, Khotan, and Dunhuang on his way back to China.
  • In AD 645, when Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang was passing through the Uttarapatha, Udabhanda or Udabhandapura was the place of residence or secondary capital of emperor of Kapisa which then dominated over 10 neighboring states comprising Lampaka, Nagara, Gandhara and Varna (Bannu) and probably also Jaguda. About Gandhara, the pilgrim says that its capital was Purushapura; the royal family was extinct and country was subject to Kapisa; the towns and villages were desolate and the inhabitants were very few. It seems that under pressure from Arabs in the southwest and the Turks in the north, the kings of Kapisa had left their western possessions in the hands of their viceroys and made Udabhanda their principal seat of residence. The reason why Udabhandapura was selected in preference to Peshawar is at present unknown but it is possible that the new city of Udabhanda was built by Kapisa rulers for strategic reasons.[14]

Return to China

  • He arrived in the capital, Chang’an, on the seventh day of the first month of 645, and a great procession celebrated his return.[15]
  • On his return to China in AD 645, Xuanzang was greeted with much honor but he refused all high civil appointments offered by the still-reigning emperor, Emperor Taizong of Tang. Instead, he retired to a monastery and devoted his energy in translating Buddhist texts until his death in AD 664. According to his biography, he returned with, “over six hundred Mahayana and Hinayana texts, seven statues of the Buddha and more than a hundred sarira relics.”[16]

Chronology of Xuanzang’s travels

Approximate Chronology of Xuanzang’s travels as provided by Alexander Cunningham in Appendix-A in his book The Ancient Geography of India: I. The Buddhist Period, Including the Campaigns of Alexander, and the Travels of Hwen-Thsang. By Sir Alexander Cunningham, pp.563-568, is given below. For content on Wiki click place name. Chinese name is also given after the place name. For Online reference click link to Cunningham in last column.

[p.563]:

[p.568]:
Sir Alexander Cunningham[17] writes that – The above chronology gives the approximate dates as nearly as can determine them, partly from the facts stated, and partly from his lengthened experience of travelling in India. The estimated dates are well supported by facts noted in the histories of Ceylon, Sindh, and Kashmir; but he here repeats, that on Hwen Thsang‘s arrival at Kanchi, in February, 640, he heard of the assassination of the King of Ceylon. This must have been Raja Buna Mugalan, who was put to death in A.D. 639.

Another proof of the general accuracy of estimate of the pilgrim’s rate of travelling is afforded by his statement made to the Great Abbot of the Nalanda Monastery that his travels had occupied three years.1 This period must refer to the actual time spent in travelling, as his recorded halts at various places for the purpose of study, before he reached Nalanda, amount to four years and seven months. These halts, as stated in his life, are as follows : —

Halt at
period (Years-months)

Kapisa, one whole summer
0 – 3

Kashmir, two entire years 2
2 – 0

a large town (Kasur ?)
0 – 1

Chinapati
1 – 2

Jalandhar
0 – 4

Srughna, whole winter and half spring
0 – 4½

Madamar, half spring and whole summer
0 – 4½

Total halt
4 – 7

1 Julien’s ‘ Hiouen Thsang,’ i. 147.

[p.569]: Adding to these recorded halts the three years said to have
been spent in travellings the whole period elapsed, between the pilgrim’s departure from Liang-cheu in August, 629, and the date of his conversation with the Great Abbot, is seven years and seven months, which fixes his arrival at Nalanda in February, 637 A.D., the date according to my estimate being 1st March, 637.

The chronology here detailed follows the route indicated in the Life of Hwen Thsang, which differs from that given in the Memoirs after the departure of the pilgrim from Maheswarapura in April, A.D. 641. According to the Memoirs, the route was as follows : —

A.D. 641,

Apr. 5, Maheswarapura.
June 1, Sindh.
July 10, Multan.
„ 20, Polofato or Shorkot. Halt 2 months.
Oct. 20, Udumbara.
Nov. 30, Langala.
Dec. 13, Pitasila, or Patala.
„ 20, Avanda, or Bahmana.

A.D. 642,

Feb. 10, Falana, or Banu.
Mar. 1, Tsaokiuto, or Ghazni.

By this route the pilgrim would have reached Tsaokiuto just two years and two months earlier than by the other route, and as the date of his return to China is fixed with certainty, this long period of upwards of two years is wholly unaccounted for in the record of the pilgrim’s travels. It seems almost certain, therefore, that it must have been spent in revisiting Magadha, as stated in the ‘ Life.’

In the ‘ Life’ it is recorded that at the end of his second visit to Magadha, after two years’ study, the pilgrim had a dream, in which the Bodhisatwa Manju Sri appeared to him, and foretold the death of King Siladitya in ten years.1 The king’s death is then noted to have taken place at the end of

1 Julien’s ‘ Hiouen Thsang,’ i. 215.

[p.570]:
the period Yong-hoei, or in A.D. 650. According to this
date, the pilgrim’s two years’ residence in Magadha must have been from A.D. 638 to 640. But I find it quite impossible to reconcile this date with the detailed statements of his travels. If, however, we might refer the dream to the end of his first visit to Magadha, in November A.D. 638, which would seem to have also extended to about two years, then the date of Siladitya‘s death would be fixed to A.D. 648, which is the very year assigned for it in the Chinese account of India by Ma-twan-Lin.1 In the 22nd of the years Ching-kwan (A.D. 648), the Emperor of China sent an ambassador to Magadha, but before his arrival Siladitya was dead. The information obtained by this ambassador is, I think, more trustworthy than the account of Hoei-li, the biographer of Hwen Thsang, as the former had no object to serve in making an erroneous statement, while the latter was obliged to support the prophetic announcement of Hwen Thsang‘s dream. I am, therefore, inclined to adopt A.D. 648 as the true date of Siladitya‘s death, and to refer the period of the pilgrim’s dream to the close of his first visit to Magadha in A.D. 638.

According to this view, the greater part of his two years’ study at Nalanda must be referred to his first visit in A.D. 637-638, to which I have assigned a period of twenty-two months, which, added to his subsequent two months’ study for the resolution of doubts2 at his second visit, makes up the total period of two years’ study at Nalanda. The longer period of five years’ study of all the works of both Buddhists and Brahmans, which is mentioned in another place,3 I understand to refer to the whole duration of his three principal halts, namely, at Kashmir for two years, at Chinapati for fourteen months, and at Nalanda for two years, which, taken in round numbers, amount to just five years.

1 Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, 1837, p. 69 ; anonymous English translation. See also Journ. Asiatique, 1839, 398 ; Frencli translation by M. Pauthier.

2 Julien’s ‘ Hiouen Thsang,” i. 211.

3 Ibid. i. 171.

See also

References

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A portrait of Xuanzang

Xuanzang (玄奘, Xuán Zàng, Hsüan-tsang, Xuanzang, original name Ch’en I, honorary epithet San-tsang, also called Mu-ch’a T’i-p’o, Sanskrit: Moksadeva, or Yüan-tsang) was a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler and translator who traveled on foot from China to India in the early Tang period and studied at the great Nalanda monastery. When he returned, he brought with him some 657 Sanskrit texts. With the emperor’s support, he set up a large translation bureau in Chang’an (present-day Xi’an), drawing students and collaborators from all over East Asia. He is credited with the translation of some 1,330 fascicles of scriptures into Chinese. Influenced by the Yogacara school, he established the Weishi (“Ideation Only”) school of Buddhism. Though it flourished for only a short time, its theories regarding perception, consciousness, karma, and rebirth found their way into the doctrines of other, more successful, schools. A Japanese monk, Dosho, who studied under him, founded the Hosso school, the most influential school of Buddhism in Japan during the seventh and eighth centuries.

Xuanzang’s detailed account of his travels, (大唐西域記, ), has become one of the primary sources for the study of medieval Central Asia and India. The classic Chinese novel was inspired by his life.

Life

Xuanzang was born near Luoyang, Henan, China, in 602 as Chén Huī or Chén Yī (陳 褘).[1] He became famous for his seventeen year trip to India, during which he studied with many famous Buddhist masters, especially at the famous center of Buddhist learning at Nālanda University. His strongest personal interest in Buddhism was in the field of Yogācāra (瑜伽行派) or (唯識).

Name

Xuanzang is also known as Táng-sānzàng (唐三藏) in Mandarin; in Cantonese as and in Vietnamese as . Less common romanizations of Xuanzang include and . In Japanese, he is known as , or (Xuanzang-sanzang). In Vietnamese, he is known as (Tang buddhist monk), (“Tang Three Collection” monk), (the Han-Vietnamese name of )

Sānzàng (三藏) is the Chinese term for the Tripitaka scriptures, and in some English-language fiction he is addressed with this title.

Early Life

Xuanzang was born near Luoyang, Henan, China, in 602 as Chén Huī or Chén Yī (陳 褘), into a family which had possessed erudition for generations. He was the youngest of four children. His great-grandfather was an official serving as a prefect, his grandfather was appointed as professor in the Imperial College at the capital. His father was a conservative Confucianist who gave up office and withdrew into seclusion to escape the political turmoil that gripped China at that time. According to traditional biographies, Xuanzang displayed unusual intelligence and earnestness, surprising his father with his careful observance of the Confucian rituals at the age of eight. Along with his brothers and sister, he received an early education from his father, who instructed him in classical works on filial piety and several other canonical treatises of orthodox Confucianism.

Although his household in Chenhe Village of Goushi Town (緱氏 gou1), Luo Prefecture (洛州), Henan, was essentially Confucian, at a young age Xuanzang expressed interest in becoming a Buddhist monk as one of his elder brothers had done. After the death of his father in 611, he lived with his older brother Chensu (later known as Changjie) for five years at Jingtu Monastery (淨土寺) in Luoyang, supported by the Sui Dynasty state. During this time he studied both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, preferring the latter.

In 618, the Sui Dynasty collapsed and Xuanzang and his brother fled to Chang’an, which had been proclaimed as the capital of the Tang state, and thence southward to Chengdu, Sichuan (Szechwan, 四川, in western China). Here the two brothers spent two or three years at the monastery of Kong Hui, in the study of Buddhist scriptures, including the (“Abhidharma Storehouse Treatise”). When Xuanzang asked to take Buddhist orders at the age of thirteen, the abbot Zheng Shanguo made an exception in his case because of his precocious knowledge.

Xuanzang was fully ordained as a monk in 622, at the age of twenty. He began the study of Buddhist philosophy, but was troubled by the myriad contradictions and discrepancies in the texts available at that time. Not satisfied with the explanations of his Buddhist masters, he decided to go to India and study in the cradle of Buddhism. He subsequently left his brother and returned to Chang’an to study foreign languages and to continue his study of Buddhism. He began his mastery of Sanskrit in 626, and probably also studied Tocharian. During this time Xuanzang also became interested in the metaphysical Yogacara school of Buddhism.

Pilgrimage

In 629, Xuanzang reportedly had a dream that convinced him to journey to India. The Tang Dynasty and Eastern Türk Göktürks (known in medieval Chinese sources as Tūjué, 突厥) were waging war at the time; and Emperor Tang Taizong, the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty, prohibited foreign travel. Xuanzang persuaded some Buddhist guards at the gates of Yumen to let him go, and slipped out of the empire via Liangzhou (Gansu), and Qinghai province. He subsequently traveled across the Gobi desert to Kumul (Hami), thence following the Tian Shan (天山, “celestial mountains”) westward, arriving in the oasis city of Turfan (تۇرپان; Turpan, 吐魯番, Tǔlǔfān) in 630. Here he met the king of Turfan, a Buddhist who equipped him further for his travels with letters of introduction and valuables to serve as funds.

Moving further westward, Xuanzang escaped robbers to reach Yanqi, then toured the Theravada monasteries of the ancient kingdom of Kucha. Further west he passed Aksu before turning northwest to cross the Tian Shan’s Bedal Pass into modern Kyrgyzstan. He skirted Issyk Kul before visiting Tokmak on its northwest, and met the great Khan of the Western Türk, whose relationship to the Tang emperor was friendly at the time. After a feast, Xuanzang continued west then southwest to Tashkent (Chach/Che-Shih), capital of modern day Uzbekistan. From here, he crossed the desert further west to Samarkand. In Samarkand, which was under Persian influence, the party came across some abandoned Buddhist temples and Xuanzang impressed the local king with his preaching. Setting out again to the south, Xuanzang crossed a spur of the Pamir Mountains and passed through the famous Iron Gates. Continuing southward, he reached the Amu Darya and Termez, where he encountered a community of more than a thousand Buddhist monks.

Further east he passed through Kunduz, is a city in northern Afghanistan, where he stayed for some time to witness the funeral rites of Prince Tardu, who had been poisoned. Here he met the monk Dharmasimha, and on the advice of the late Tardu made the trip westward to Balkh (modern day Afghanistan), to see the Buddhist sites and relics, especially the Nava Vihara Buddhist monastery, or Nawbahar, which he described as the westernmost monastic institution in the world. Here Xuanzang also found over 3,000 Theravada monks, including Prajnakara, a monk with whom Xuanzang studied Theravada scriptures. He acquired the important Mahāvibhāṣa text here, which he later translated into Chinese. Prajnakara then accompanied the party southward to Bamyan, where Xuanzang met the king and saw many Theravada monasteries, in addition to the two large Bamyan Buddhas carved out of the rockface. The party then resumed their travel eastward, crossing the Shibar pass and descending to the regional capital of Kapisi (about 60 km north of modern capital Kabul), which sported over 100 monasteries and 6,000 monks, mostly Mahayana. This was part of the fabled old land of Gandhara, the ancient kingdom Mahajanapada. Xuanzang took part in a religious debate here, and demonstrated his knowledge of many Buddhist sects. Here he also met the first Jains and Hindus of his journey. He pushed on to Jalalabad and Laghman, where he considered himself to have reached India. The year was 630.

India

Xuanzang left Jalalabad, which had few Buddhist monks, but many stupas and monasteries. He passed through Hunza and the Khyber Pass to the east, reaching the former capital of Gandhara, Peshawar, on the other side. Peshawar was nothing compared to its former glory, and Buddhism was declining in the region. Xuanzang visited a number of stupas around Peshawar, notably the Kanishka Stupa, built southeast of Peshawar, by a former king of the city. (In 1908 it was rediscovered by D.B. Spooner with the help of Xuanzang’s account.)

Xuanzang left Peshawar and traveled northeast to the Swat Valley. Reaching Udyana, he found 1,400 old monasteries that had previously supported 18,000 monks. The remnant monks were of the Mahayana school. Xuanzang continued northward and into the Buner Valley, before doubling back via Shabaz Gharni to cross the Indus river at Hund. Thereafter he headed to Taxila, a Mahayana Buddhist kingdom that was a vassal of Kashmir, which he visited next. Here he found 5,000 more Buddhist monks in 100 monasteries. He met a talented Mahayana monk and spent his next two years (631-633) studying Mahayana alongside other schools of Buddhism. During this time, Xuanzang wrote about the Fourth Buddhist council that took place nearby, ca. 100 C.E., under the order of King Kanishka of Kushana.

In 633, Xuanzang left Kashmir and journeyed south to Chinabhukti (thought to be modern Firozpur), where he studied for a year with the monk-prince Vinitaprabha.

In 634 he went east to Jalandhara, an ancient city in eastern Punjab, before climbing up to visit predominantly Theravada monasteries in the Kulu valley in the north-west of India, and turning southward again to Bairat and then Mathura, on the Yamuna river, a major tributary river of the Ganges (Ganga). Mathura, despite being primarily Hindu, had 2,000 monks of both major Buddhist branches. Xuanzang traveled up the river to Srughna before crossing eastward to Matipura, where he arrived in 635, having crossed the river Ganges. From here, he headed south to Sankasya (Kapitha), said to be where Buddha descended from heaven, then onward to the northern Indian emperor Harsha’s grand capital of Kanyakubja (Kanauji). Here, in 636, Xuanzang encountered 100 monasteries of 10,000 monks (both Mahayana and Theravada), and was impressed by the king’s patronage of both scholarship and Buddhism. Xuanzang spent time in the city studying Theravada scriptures, before setting off eastward again for Ayodhya (Saketa), homeland of the Yogacara school. Xuanzang now moved south to Kausambi (Kosam), where he had a copy made from an important local image of the Buddha.

Xuanzang now returned northward to Sravasti, traveled through Terai in the southern part of modern Nepal (where he found deserted Buddhist monasteries) and thence to Kapilavastu, his last stop before Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha. Reaching Lumbini, he would have seen a pillar near the old Ashoka tree that Buddha is said to have been born under. This was from the reign of emperor Ashoka, and records that he worshipped at the spot. (The pillar was rediscovered by A. Fuhrer in 1895.)

In 637, Xuanzang set out from Lumbini to Kusinagara in Kushinagar district, the site of Buddha’s death, before heading southwest to the deer park at Sarnath where Buddha gave his first sermon, and where Xuanzang found 1,500 resident monks. Traveling eastward, at first via Varanasi, Xuanzang reached Vaisali, Pataliputra (Patna) and Bodh Gaya. He was then accompanied by local monks to Nalanda, the great ancient university of India, where he spent at least the next two years in the company of several thousand scholar-monks, whom he praised. Xuanzang studied logic, grammar, Sanskrit, and the Yogacara school of Buddhism during his time at Nalanda.

Return to China

When Xuanzang returned to the Tang capital of Ch’ang-an in 645, after an absence of sixteen years, he was welcomed by cheering crowds. The Emperor received him in audience, and was so impressed by Xuanzang’s tales of foreign lands that he offered him a post the government, which was declined.

Xuanzang had brought with him some 657 Sanskrit texts, packed in 520 cases. With the emperor’s support, he set up a large translation bureau in Chang’an (present-day Xi’an), drawing students and collaborators from all over East Asia. He is credited with the translation of about 73 texts, containing 1,330 fascicles of scriptures, including some of the most important Mahayana scriptures, into Chinese. Xuanzang died on February 5, 664.[1] Out of respect, the T’ang emperor canceled all audiences for three days after his death.

Thought and Works

Xuanzang was known for his industrious translation of Indian Buddhist texts to Chinese. Some lost Indian Buddhist texts were subsequently recovered from translated Chinese copies. He is credited with writing or compiling the (成唯識論, Discourse on the Theory of Consciousness-only), as a commentary on these texts.
In 646, at the Emperor’s request, Xuanzang completed his book “Journey to the West in the Great Tang Dynasty” (大唐西域記, Ta-T’ang Hsi-yü-chi), which, with its wealth of detail, has become one of the primary sources for the study of medieval Central Asia and India. He was known for recording the events of the reign of the northern Indian emperor, Harsha. This book was first translated into French by the Sinologist Stanislas Julien in 1857. There was also a biography of Xuanzang written by the monk Huili (慧立). Both books were first translated into English by Samuel Beal, in 1884 and 1911 respectively.[2][3] An English translation with copious notes by Thomas Watters was edited by T. S. Rhys Davids and S.W. Bushell, and published posthumously in London in 1905. These books are however all seriously outdated and full of inaccuracies, and recent attempts are not much better.

Wei-shih School

Xuanzang ‘s main interest was the Yogacara (Vijñanavada) school. Together with his disciple K’uei-chi, he founded the Wei-shih (Consciousness Only, or Ideation Only), school in China. Its doctrine was set forth in Hsüan-tsang’s (“”), a translation of the essential Yogacara writings, and in K’uei-chi’s commentary. Its main premise was that the universe is but a representation of the mind.

The Wei-shih school flourished under Xuanzang and K’uei-chi, but its subtle philosophy and detailed analysis of the mind and senses was alien to Chinese tradition, and the school declined soon after their death. Its theories regarding perception, consciousness, karma, and rebirth found their way into the doctrines of other more successful schools. Xuanzang’s closest and most eminent student K’uei-chi, (Kuiji, 窺基, 632–682 ) became recognized as the first patriarch of the Faxiang school (Dharma-character, 法相宗) school. A Japanese monk, Dosho, arrived in 653 to study under Xuanzang. He returned and introduced the doctrines of the Wei-shih school to Japan, where, known as the Hosso school, it became the most influential Buddhist school during the seventh and eighth centuries.

Legacy

Statue of Xuanzang at the Great Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an.

Xuanzang’s journey along the so-called Silk Roads, and the legends that grew up around it, inspired the Ming novel (Xiyou ji), one of the great classics of Chinese literature. The Xuanzang of the novel, also known as “TripiṠaka,” is the reincarnation of a disciple of Gautama Buddha, and is protected on his journey by three powerful disciples. One of them, the monkey, became a popular favourite in Chinese culture. In the Yuan Dynasty, there was also a play by Wu Changling (吳昌齡) about Xuanzang obtaining scriptures.

Relics

A skull relic purported to be that of Xuanzang was held in the Temple of Great Compassion, Tianjin until 1956, when it was taken to Nalanda, allegedly by the Dalai Lama, and presented to India. The relic is now in the Patna museum. The Wenshu Monastery in Chengdu, Sichuan province also claims to have part of Xuanzang’s skull.

See also

  • Silk Road transmission of Buddhism
  • Buddhism in China
  • Zhang Qian
  • Faxian
  • Sun Wukong
  • Genjō-sanzō
  • Hyecho
  • Yi Jing

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 (Westview Press, 1996). Revised and updated as (Westview Press, 2003,

    Sally Hovey Wriggins,(Westview Press, 1996). Revised and updated as(Westview Press, 2003, ISBN 0-8133-6599-6 ), 7, 193.

  2. Samuel Beal, 2 vols., Translated by Samuel Beal (London, 1884; Reprint: Delhi, Oriental Books Reprint Corporation, 1969).

  3. Samuel Beal, (London, 1911; Reprint Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi, 1973).

References

  • Beal, Samuel (trans.). 1884. . 2 vols. London, 1884. Reprint: Delhi, Oriental Books Reprint Corporation, 1969.
  • ———. 1911. . London, 1911. Reprint Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi, 1973.
  • Bernstein, Richard. 2001. . Alfred A. Knopf, New York. ISBN 0-375-40009-5
  • Grousset, René. 1971. . New York: Grossman Publishers. ISBN 0670400211 ISBN 9780670400218
  • Li, Rongxi (trans.). 1995. . Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research. Berkeley, California. ISBN 1-886439-00-1
  • ———. 1995. . Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research. Berkeley, California. ISBN 1-886439-02-8
  • Watters, Thomas (trans.). 1996. Reprint. New Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal. ISBN 81-215-0336-1
  • Saran, Mishi. 2005. . Penguin/Viking, New Delhi.
  • Sun Shuyun. 2003. (retracing Xuanzang’s journeys). Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-00-712974-2
  • Wriggins, Sally Hovey. 2004. . Boulder, Colorado, WestviewPress. ISBN 0-8133-6599-6
  • Waley, Arthur. 1952. . London: G. Allen and Unwin.
  • Wriggins, Sally Hovey. 1996. . Westview Press. Revised and updated as . Westview Press, 2003. ISBN 0-8133-6599-6

All links retrieved October 11, 2020.

General Philosophy Sources

Credits

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【正版电影持续更新 欢迎订阅:https://bit.ly/2Up5E33 】
唐朝贞观年间,年青的玄奘法师为求佛法真谛冒死偷渡出境,一路上遭遇千难万阻,天灾人祸,却也深得民间疾苦。官兵围堵、徒弟背叛、埋身沙海、断水绝粮,玄奘法师一心求法,最终抵达印度,在印度弘扬善念静心修佛,等到从无遮大会辩论成功回国时,已经是年逾50了。
中文名:大唐玄奘
外文名: Xuan Zang
导 演:霍建起
艺术指导:王家卫
编 剧: 邹静之
主 演: 黄晓明 徐峥 蒲巴甲 罗晋 汤镇业 赵文瑄 谭凯 楼佳悦
片 长:115分钟
上映时间:2016年4月29日
类 型 :历史

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Xuan Zang (大唐玄奘) – Trailer Original


Representante da China na seleção para o Oscar 2017 de Filme de Estrangeiro.

Xuan Zang (大唐玄奘) - Trailer Original

Xuan Zang Behind the scene


Xuan Zang Behind the scene

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