Xuanzang and the Silk Route

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Item Code: IDK293
Author: Lokesh Chandra, Radha Banerjee
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788121511865
Pages: 314 (Throughout B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.2 X 8.7"
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Book Description

We are happy to place in the hands of scholars the erudite collection of papers, presented I an international seminar on 'Xuanzang and the Silk Route' in 2003, at the IGNGA.

The noted Chinese traveler and Buddhist pilgrim, Xuanzang, reached India in AD 630, after an arduous journey across Central Asia. Fourteen years of his life (AD 630-644) were spent visiting Buddhist temples and monasteries, cities and places of interest in the Indian sub-content. A keen observer of men and affairs, and a devout monk, he has left behind a fascinating and authentic account of India's history, geography, economy and society of the times when King Harsha (AD 606-647) ruled over northern India and the Chalukyan ruler Pulakesin II (AD 609-642) held sway in the Deccan, along with Narasimha Varman I (AD 630-668) of Kanchi in the southern most regions.

Xuanzang came to India in search of Buddhist texts which were not available in China. He studied his favourite text Yogacarabhumi sastra under the famous teacher Silabhadra of Nalanda. He recorded the historical sites of the Silk Route/ Sutras route/ Dharmaratna route by which he came to India. Hs account of India and description of the Silk Route countries are valuable for the political and cultural history of Afghanistan and Gandhara. His study of the Bamiyan monasteries and colossal Buddhas has inspired art historians to make a through study of the cultural history of Afghanistan.

Xuanzang went back to China with a great corpus of authentic Buddhist texts. Completely at home in both Sanskrit and Chinese, he provided translation of seventy seven texts, which greatly exceed in precision and intelligibility those produced in earlier periods. A symbol and instrument of cultural exchange between to ancient civilizations in Asia, he was not of the greatest disseminators of Buddhist faith in China. He provided, through his life work, a perennial source of inspiration to succeeding generation of inter cultural translator and bridge makers.

The volume celebrates the life, times and achievements of Xuanzang. It speaks of his seminal efforts in uniting, binding, harmonizing Yogacara and Madhayamika, Dhyana and prajana interpretation of Buddhism. It places his visit to Bamiyan and his undying sprit, informed by wisdom and compassion, against the background of the recent destruction of Bamiyan in and his undying spirit, informed by wisdom and compassion, against the background of the recent destruction of Bamiyan in an orgy of intolerance and violence. It recalls his communion with the syncretic vision, which inspired the creation of the Maitreya and Vairocana Buddhas at Bamiyan, transcending divisive sectarianism. It recollects his lost work on the harmony of schools. It remembers him as the dauntless pilgrim, who traveled thousands of miles, faced unknown perils, and inspired creation of the illustrated emakimono scroll, many Dun Huang paintings, and, folkloristic narratives on his eventful journey to the West. It recapitulates his role as an advisor for emperor and empresses, who effected a meeting of sacerdotium and regnum, the spiritual and temporal.

Xuanzang thus fulfilled the mission he set out in Si-yu-ki. 'At this time, the Buddhist schools were mutually contentious. They hastened to grasp the end without regarding the beginning. They seized the power and rejected the reality. So, there followed the confused sounds of Yes and No and perpetual words. On this, he (Xuanzang) proposed to examine thoroughly the literature of the perfumed elephant. He took his staff, dusted his clothes and set off for distant regions.

Sir Aurel Stein wrote of Xuanzang; 'When we meet a figure of such immense personal achievement, all hence of importance to a phase human cultural history, we may well ask how history would be different had he not lived. Although history is about what really happened, asking such a non historical question can help us to appreciate better what really happened.'

I thank Prof. Lokesh Chandra and Dr. Radha Banerjee for editing this volume with empathy and dedication. I thank the learned scholars who have contributed to this volume. I record my appreciation for Messrs Munshiram Manoharlal for bringing out the volume with care that it deserves. I hope that it will be received well by scholars.

From the Jacket

China as we know is a great civilization and Xuanzang's (who is popularly known as Hsuan-tsang) visit to India was a grea event. The noted Chinese traveler and Buddhist pilgrim, Xuanzang, reached India in AD 630, having undertaken arduous journey across Central Asia. A Chinese emperor called him "the jewel of the empire," Nearly fourteen years of his life (from AD 630 to AD 644) were spent visiting Buddhist temples and monasteries, cities and places of interest in the Indian subcontinent. He was a keen observer of men and affairs. Apart from being a devout monk, he has left behind a fascinating and authentic account of India's history, geography, economy, and society of the times when King Harsha (AD 606-47) ruled over northern India. This volume contains articles on the life and achievement of Xuanzang. Dharmamaster Xuanzang came to India particular in search of Buddhist texts which were not available in China. He studied his favourite text Yogacarabhumisastra under the famous teacher Shilabhadra of Nalanda. He was a great recorder of historical sites of the Silk Route. His description of the silk Route countries in Afghanistan and Gandhara are valuable for the political and cultural history of these lands. The study of Bamiyan monasteries and colossal Buddhas have inspired Art historians to make a through study of the Cultural history of Afghanistan.

The articles in this present volume show, through wide range of studies, not only Xuanzang's love and knowledge of Buddhism, but only an account of various countries and their cultural heritage.

About the Author

Prof. Lokesh Chandra is a renowned scholar of Tibetan, Monogolian and Sino-Japanese Buddhism. He has to his credit over 500 works and text editions. Among them are: Tibetan-Sanskrit Dictionary, Dictionary of Buddhist Iconography, in 15 vols., and Material for the History of Tibetan literature. He was nominated by President of Republic of India to the Parliament from 1974 to 1980 and again from 1980 to 1986. He was a Vice-President of Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Chairman of India Council for Historical Research. He is he Director of International Academy of India Culture, New Delhi.

Dr. Radha Banerjee is a Senior Research officer of Kalakosha division of IGNGA. She is a student of Buddhism and Buddhist Art. She has published several articles on Indian and Chinese Buddhist art in International journals and a book entitled.

Astamahabodhisattva in Art and Literature. At present she is working on her forthcoming book on Avalokitesvara – A Syncretic Deity and India's Contribution to the Art and Culture of Central Asia. She is also the Executive Editor of IGNCA's Research Journal Kalakalpa.

Foreword vii
Introduction ix
1.Aspects of the Two Colossal Buddhas at Bamiyan
Marylin M. Rhie
2.Bamiyan and the International Gandhara Tradition
Ronald M. Bernier
3.Buddhism in Bamiyan
S.K. Pathak
4.The Buddhism of Bamiyan: Symbols of Afghanistan's Forlorn Past
Juliette (Jet) van Krieken-Pieters
5.Buddhist Temples beyond the Great Wall
Nandana Chutiwongs
6.Empress Wu, Maitreya and Xuanzang
Patricia Karetzky
7.The Etymology of the Word Bamiyan and Hsuan-tsang
Lokesh Chandra
8.The Folkloristic Aspects of the Characters in the Novel "Journey to the West"
Priyadarsi Mukherji
9.India and Afghanistan: Past, Present and Future
B.B. Lal
10.India's Northwestern Cultural Area and its Impact in China
Charles Willemen
11.Legendary Xuanzang: Some of His Narratives Reported in Central Asian Art
Chhaya Bhattacharya-Haesner
12.Mahayana and Hinayana in Central Asian Buddhist History – according to Hsuan-tsang and other evidence
Mariko Namba Walter
13.Mahayana-Vajrayana Buddhism and Buddhist Deities from Xinjiang
Radha Banerjee
14.A Sino-Sanskritic Linguistic Fragment from Tung Huang
Saroj Kumar Chaudhari
15.Sutras Translated by Xuanzang and Dunhuang Wall-Paintings
Fan Jinshi
16.The Syncretic Symbolism of the Cosmic Buddhas of Bamiyan, Afghanistan
Mary Storm
17.Suye and the Journey to the West
Grigory Semenov
18.The Thirteenth century restoration of Bodhgaya
W.B. Douglas
19.Xuanzang's Contribution to Chinese Buddhism
Malati J. Shendge
20.Xuanzang's Stay at Nalanda as Depicted in the "Scroll on the Tripitaka Master Xuanzang"
Ineke Van Put
Note an contributors 291
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