Silk Road Angel Tours

Dunhuang of China.

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In the classic novel Journey to the West, a monk entitled the Tang Priest, goes on a pilgrimage to India to fetch the Buddhist scriptures back to China. Together with his disciples Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand, he overcomes 81 hardships and his mission is successful. The novel is a collection of Legends, but in history there really was such a monk. His Buddhist name was Xuanzang.

     Xuanzang ( 602-664 ) renounced the world and became a monk when he was young. He acquired a good command of the Buddhist classics, and he found that there were a great many errors in the translated Buddhist scriptures. Therefore, he decided to go to Tianzhu ( today’s Indian Peninsula ), the birthplace of Buddhism, to study and bring back authentic scriptures.

      Xuanzang started his journey to the west in 627. he crossed mountains and deserts, overcoming hardships, and finally reached Tianzhu after a journey of a whole year.

      Xuanzang studied in Tianzhu and stayed there for as long as 15 years, rendering homage to six Buddhist Holy Lands successively. His sincere commitment to Buddhism and unswerving determination moved many Tianzhu people. Some kings even sent several people to copy Buddhist sutra for him. In return, Xuanzang introduced them some Buddhist scripture that had been lost. Xuanzang also learned the language of Tianzhu, attended huge gatherings concerning Buddhist learning and delivered speeches on many occasions. Xuanzang’s erudition won the respect of the Tianzhu people.

At the age of 42, Xuanzang returned to Chang’an ( today’s Xian ), bringing back 657 Buddhist scriptures. He then commenced the work of translating the Buddhist scriptures. He translated 74 Buddhist scriptures altogether, amounting to about 1.305 volumes.

 Xuanzang was not only an eminent monk, but also a great translator and an envoy for friendship between China and India. He made great contributions to the development of Chinese culture, and for cultural exchanges between China and India and other countries.