Digital Rare Book :
On Yuan Chwang's travels in India, 629-645 A.D.
By Thomas Watters
Edited after his death by T. W. Rhys Davids and S. W. Bushell
Published by Royal Asiatic Society, London - 1904
Read Book Online:
Download pdf Book:
In the year 629, the year after the arrival of Muhammad's envoys at Canton and thirty odd years after the landing of Pope Gregory's missionaries in England, a certain learned and devout Buddhist named Yuan Chwang stated out from Sian-fu (Singan), Tai-tsung's capital, upon a great journey to India. He was away sixteen years, he returned in 645, and he wrote an account of his travels which is treasured as a Chinese classic. One or two points about his experiences are to be noted here because they contribute to our general review of the state of the world in the seventh century A. D.
Yuan Chwang was as eager for marvels and as credulous as Herodotus, and without the latter writer's fine sense of history, he could never pass a monument or ruin without learning some fabulous story about it (Chinese ideas of the dignity of literature perhaps prevented him from telling us much detail of how he travelled, who were his attendants) how he was lodged, or what he ate and how he paid his expenses details precious to the historian; nevertheless, he gives us a series of illuminating flashes upon China, Central Asia, and India in the period now under consideration.
His journey was an enormous one. He went and came back by way of the Pamirs. He went by the northern route, crossing the desert of Gobi, passing along the southern slopes of the Thien Shan, skirting the great deep blue lake of Issik Kul, and so to Tashkend and Samarkand, and than mere or less in the footsteps of Alexander the Great southward to the Khyber Pass and Peshawur. He returned by the south-ern route, crossing the Pamirs from Afghanistan to Kashgar, and so along the line of retreat the Yue-Chi had followed in the reverse direction seven centuries before, and by Yarkand, along the slopes of the Kuen Lun to rejoin his former route near the desert end of the Great Wall. Each route involved some hard mountaineering. His journeyings in India are untraceable; he was there fourteen years, and he went all over the peninsula from Nepal to Ceylon.
At that time there was an imperial edict forbidding foreign travel, so that Yuan Chwang started from Sian-fu like an escaping criminal. There was a pursuit to prevent him carrying out his project. How he bought a lean red-coloured horse that knew the desert paths from a strange grey-beard, how he dodged a frontier guard-house with the help of a "foreign person" who made him a bridge of brushwood lower down the river, how he crossed the desert guided by the bones of men and cattle, how he saw a mirage, and how twice he narrowly escaped being shot by arrows when he was getting water near the watch-towers on the desert track, the reader will find in the Life. He lost his way in the desert of Gobi, and for four nights and five days he had no water; when he was in the mountains among the glaciers, twelve of his party were frozen to death. All this is in the Life; he tells little of it in his own account of his travels.
He shows us the Turks, this new development of the Hun tradition, in possession not only of what is now Turkestan, but all along the northern route. He mentions many cities and considerable cultivation. He is entertained by various rulers, allies of, or more or less nominally tributaries to, China, and among others by the Khan of the Turks, a magnificent person in green satin, with his long hair tied with silk.
"The gold embroidery of this grand tent shone with a dazzling splendour; the ministers of the presence in attendance sat on mats in long rows on either side all dressed in magnificent brocade robes, while the rest of the retinue on duty stood behind. You saw that although it was a case of a frontier ruler, yet there was an air of distinction and elegance. The Khan came out from his tent about thirty paces to meet Yuan Chwang, who, after a courteous greeting, entered the tent. After a short interval envoys from China and Kao-chang were admitted and presented their despatches and credentials, which the Khan perused. He was much elated, and caused the envoys to be seated, then he ordered wine and music for himself and them and grape-syrup for the pilgrim. Hereupon all pledged each other, and the filling and draining of the wine cups made a din and bustle, while the mingled music of various instruments rose loud: although the airs were the popular strains of foreigners, yet they pleased the sense and exhilarated the mental faculties. After a little, piles of roasted beef and mutton were served for the others, and lawful food, such as cakes, milk, candy, honey, and grapes, for the pilgrim. After the entertainment, grape-syrup was again served, and the Khan invited Yuan Chwang to improve the occasion, whereupon the pilgrim expounded the doctrines of the 'ten virtues,' compassion for animal life, and the paramitas and emancipation. The Khan, raising his hands, bowed, and gladly believed and accepted the teaching."
Yuan Chwang's account of Samarkand is of a large and prosperous city, "a great commercial entrepôt, the country about it very fertile, abounding in trees and flowers and yielding many fine horses. Its inhabitants were skilful craftsmen, smart and energetic." At that time we must remember there was hardly such a thing as a town in Anglo-Saxon England.
As his narrative approached his experiences in India, however, the pious and learned pilgrim in Yuan Chwang got the better of the traveller, and the book becomes congested with monstrous stories of incredible miracles. Nevertheless, we get an impression of houses, clothing, and the like, closely resembling those of the India of to-day. Then, as now, the kaleidoscopic variety of an Indian crowd contrasted with the blue uniformity of the multitude in China. In the time of Buddha it is doubtful if there were reading and writing in India ; now reading and writing were quite common accomplishments. Yuan Chwang gives an interesting account of a great Buddhist university at Nalanda, where ruins have quite recently been discovered and excavated. Nalanda and Taxilla seem to have been considerable educational centres as early as the opening of the schools of Athens. The caste system Yuan Chwang found fully established in spite of Buddha, and the Brahmins were now altogether in the ascendant. He names the four main castes we have mentioned in Chap. 'viii, § 6 (q. v.), but his account of their functions is rather different, The Sudras, he says, were the tillers of the soil. Indian writers say that their inflation was to wait upon the three "twice born" castes above them.
But, as we have already intimated, Yuan Chwang's account of Indian realities is swamped by his, accumulation of legends and pious inventions. For these he had come, and in these he rejoiced. The rest, as we shall see, was a task that had been set bun. The faith of Buddha which in the days of Atoka, and even so late as Kaniska, was still pure enough to be a noble inspiration, we now discover absolutely lost in a wilderness of preposterous rubbish, a philosophy of endless Buddhas, tales of manifestations and marvels like a Chris mas pantomime, immaculate conceptions by six-tusked elephants, charitable princes giving themselves up to be eaten by starving tigresses, temples built over a sacred nail-paring, and the like. We cannot give such aeries here; if the reader lies that sort of thing, he must go to the publications the Royal Asiatic Society or the India Society, where he will find a delirium of such imaginations. And in competition with this Buddhism, intellectually undermined as it now was and smothered in gilded decoration, Brahminism was everywhere gaining ground again, as Yuan Chwang notes with regret.
I hv read it
Hueng Tsang (Xuanzang ) fully ordained a monk in 622, . 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 left his brother and returned to Chang'an to study foreign languages and to continue his study of Buddhism. He mastered Sanskrit in 626, and studied Tocharian. During this time, Xuanzang became interested in the metaphysical Yoga, school of Buddhism.
Just what I wanted to get hold of!
Amitava & Kumārajīva, were from a Kashmiri Brahmin noble family in (334–413 CE) Kumārajīva a Buddhist monk, scholar, and translator. He first studied teachings of the Sarvastivada schools, later studied under Buddhasvāmin, and finally became a Mahāyāna adherent, studying the Madhyamaka doctrine of Nagarjuna. Kumārajīva settled in Chang'an, which was the imperial capital of China. He is mostly remembered for the prolific translation of Buddhist texts written in Sanskrit to Chinese he carried out during his later life Kumārajīva's father Kumārāyana was from a Kashmiri Brahmin noble family and his mother was a Kuchean princess who significantly influenced his early studies. His grandfather is supposed to have had a great reputation. His father became a monk, left India, crossed the Pamirs and arrived in Kucha where he became the royal priest. The sister of the King Jiva married him and they produced Kumārajīva. Jīva joined the Tsio-li nunnery, north of Kucha, when Kumārajīva was just seven. When his mother Jīva joined the Tsio-li nunnery, Kumārajīva was just seven but is said to have already committed many texts and sutras to memory. He proceeded to learn Abhidharma, and after two years, at the age of nine, he was taken to Kashmir by his mother to be better educated under Bandhudatta. There he studied Dīrgha Āgama, Madhyama Āgama and the Kṣudraka, before returning with his mother three years later. On his return via Tokharestan and Kashgar, an arhat predicted that he had a bright future and would introduce many people to Buddhism. Kumārajīva. When his mother Jīva joined the Tsio-li nunnery, Kumārajīva was just seven but is said to have already committed many texts and sutras to memory. He proceeded to learn Abhidharma, and after two years, at the age of nine, he was taken to Kashmir by his mother to be better educated under Bandhudatta. There he studied Dīrgha Āgama, Madhyama Āgama and the Kṣudraka, before returning with his mother three years later. On his return via Tokharestan and Kashgar, an arhat predicted that he had a bright future and would introduce many people to Buddhism. Kumārajīva stayed in Kashgar for a year, ordaining the two princely sons of Tsan-kiun (himself the son of the king of Yarkand) and studying the Abhidharma Piṭaka of the Sarvastivada under the Kashmirian Buddhayaśa, as well as the four Vedas, five sciences, Brahmanical sacred texts, astronomy. He studied mainly Āgama and Sarvastivada doctrines at this time. In 379 CE, Kumārajīva's fame reached China when a Chinese Buddhist monk named Seng Jun visited Kucha and described Kumārajīva's abilities. Efforts were then made by Emperor Fu Jian of the Former Qin Dynasty to bring Kumārajīva to Qin capital of Chang'an To do this, his general Lu Guang was dispatched with an army in order to conquer Kucha and return with Kumārajīva. Fu Jian is recorded as telling his general, "Send me Kumārajīva as soon as you conquer Kucha." However, when Fu Jian's main army at the capital was defeated, his general Lu Guang declared his own state and became a warlord in 386 CE, and had Kumārajīva captured when he was around 40 years old Being a non-Buddhist, Lu Guang had Kumārajīva imprisoned for many years, essentially as booty. During this time, it is thought that Kumārajīva became familiar with the Chinese language. Kumarajiva was also coerced by Lu into marrying the Kutcha King's daughter, which resulted in his chastity vow being negated After the Yao family of Former Qin overthrew the previous ruler Fu Jian, the emperor Yao Xing made repeated pleas to the warlords of the Lu family to free Kumārajīva and send him east to Chang'anWhen the Lu family would not free Kumārajīva from their hostage, an exasperated Yao Xing had armies dispatched to Liangzhou in order to defeat the warlords of the Lu family and to have Kumārajīva brought back to them Finally the armies of Emperor Yao succeeded in defeating the Lu family, and Kumārajīva was brought east to the capital of Chang'an in 401 CE The Amitābha Sūtra was translated from Sanskrit into Chinese by Tripiṭaka Master Kumārajīva in 402 CE, but may have existed in India as early as year 100 CE, composed in a Prakrit language. Amitābha Sūtra The Amitābha Sūtra (traditional Chinese:is a popular colloquial name for the Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra. The Amitābha Sūtra is a Mahāyāna Buddhist text, and it is one of the primary sūtras recited and upheld in the Pure Land Buddhist schools. the bulk of the Amitava Sutra, conderably shorte than pure land sutra consist of a discourse Buddha gave at jeta grove in Srivati to his desciple Sariputra. The talk concerned the wonderous adornment that await the righteous in the western pure land of Sukhavati as well as thebeings that reside there, including the Buddha Amitava. The text also describes what one must do to be reborn there. Journey To The West Official US Release Trailer (2014) - Stephen Chow Movie HD : http://bit.ly/sxaw6h Subscribe to COMING SOON: http://bit.ly/H2vZUn Like us on
there are a number of good translations of the "travels" of Xuanzang (玄奘) -- some are good -- the older ones don't tend to fall within this decscription
Interested to learn