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Yijing (monk)

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Yijing
Born Fanyang, China
Died 713
Chang'an, China
Occupation Buddhist monk, traveler
Yijing
Traditional Chinese ??
Simplified Chinese ??
[show]Transcriptions

Excerpt of a scroll from Yijing's Buddhist Monastic Traditions of Southern Asia.


Tenri, Nara, Japan

Yijing's travel map of the 7th century.


Yijing (Chinese: ??; WadeGiles: I Ching; 635713 CE) was a Tang dynasty Chinese
Buddhist monk originally named Zhang Wenming (Chinese: ???). The written records of
his 25-year travels contributed to the world knowledge of the ancient kingdom of
Srivijaya, as well as providing information about the other kingdoms lying on the
route between China and the Nalanda Buddhist university in India. He was also
responsible for the translation of a large number of Buddhist texts from Sanskrit
into Chinese. Yijing's full Buddhist title was "Tripi?aka Dharma Master Yijing"
(??????).

In some 19th-century publications, Yijing's name may appear as I Tsing, following


an antiquated method of Chinese romanization.

Contents [hide]
1 Journey
1.1 To Srivijaya and Nalanda
1.2 Returning to Srivijaya
1.3 Return to China
2 Distribution of Buddhist traditions
3 Buddhism in Srivijaya
4 Translations into Chinese
5 See also
6 Notes
7 References
8 External links
Journey[edit]
To Srivijaya and Nalanda[edit]
Zhang Wenming became a monk at age 14 and was an admirer of Faxian and Xuanzang,
both famed monks of his childhood. Provided funding by an otherwise unknown
benefactor named Fong, he decided to visit the renowned Buddhist university of
Nalanda, in Bihar, India, to further study Buddhism. Traveling by a Persian boat
out of Guangzhou, he arrived in Srivijaya (today's Palembang of Sumatra) after 22
days, where he spent the next six months learning Sanskrit grammar and Malay
language. He went on to record visits to the nations of Malayu and Kiteh (Kedah),
and in 673 after ten days additional travel reached the "naked kingdom" (south west
of Shu). Yijing recorded his impression of the "Kunlun peoples", using an ancient
Chinese word for Malay peoples. "Kunlun people have curly hair, dark bodies, bare
feet and wear sarongs." He then arrived at the East coast of India, where he met a
senior monk and stayed a year to study Sanskrit. Both later followed a group of
merchants and visited 30 other principalities. Halfway to Nalanda, Yijing fell sick
and was unable to walk; gradually he was left behind by the group. He walked to
Nalanda where he stayed for 11 years.

Returning to Srivijaya[edit]
In the year 687, Yijing stopped in the kingdom of Srivijaya on his way back to Tang
China. At that time, Palembang was a centre of Buddhism where foreign scholars
gathered, and Yijing stayed there for two years to translate original Sanskrit
Buddhist scriptures into Chinese. In the year 689 he returned to Guangzhou to
obtain ink and papers (note: Srivijaya then had no paper and ink) and returned
again to Srivijaya the same year.

Return to China[edit]
In year 695, he completed all translation works and finally returned to China at
Luoyang, and received a grand welcome back by Empress Wu Zetian. His total journey
took 25 years. He brought back some 400 Buddhist translated texts.[1][2] Account of
Buddhism sent from the South Seas and Buddhist Monk's Pilgrimage of the Tang
Dynasty are two of Yijing's best travel diaries, describing his adventurous journey
to Srivijaya and India, reporting on the society of India, the lifestyles of
various local peoples, and more.

Distribution of Buddhist traditions[edit]


In the great majority of areas in India, Yijing writes that there were followers of
both "vehicles" (Skt. Yana), with some Buddhists practicing according to the
"Hinayana" and others practicing according to the Mahayana.[3] However, he
describes Northern India and most of the islands of the South Seas (i.e. Sumatra,
Java, etc.) as principally "Hinayana." In contrast, the Buddhists in China and
Malayu are described as principally following the Mahayana.[4]

Yijing wrote about relationship between the various "vehicles" and the early
Buddhist schools in India. He wrote, "There exist in the West numerous subdivisions
of the schools which have different origins, but there are only four principal
schools of continuous tradition." These schools are namely the Mahasa?ghika,
Sthavira, Mulasarvastivada, and Sa?mitiya nikayas.[5] Explaining their doctrinal
affiliations, he then writes, "Which of the four schools should be grouped with the
Mahayana or with the Hinayana is not determined." That is to say, there was no
simple correspondence between a monastic sect and whether its members learned
"Hinayana" or "Mahayana" teachings.[6]

Buddhism in Srivijaya[edit]
Main article: Srivijaya
Yijing praised the high level of Buddhist scholarship in Srivijaya and advised
Chinese monks to study there prior to making the journey to Nalanda in India.

In the fortified city of Bhoga, Buddhist priests number more than 1,000, whose
minds are bent on learning and good practice. They investigate and study all the
subjects that exist just as in India; the rules and ceremonies are not at all
different. If a Chinese priest wishes to go to the West in order to hear and read
the original scriptures, he had better stay here one or two years and practice the
proper rules....

Yijing's visits to Srivijaya gave him the opportunity to meet with others who had
come from other neighboring islands. According to him, the Javanese kingdom of Ho-
ling was due east of the city of Bhoga at a distance that could be spanned by a
four or five days' journey by sea. He also wrote that Buddhism was flourishing
throughout the islands of Southeast Asia. "Many of the kings and chieftains in the
islands of the Southern Sea admire and believe in Buddhism, and their hearts are
set on accumulating good actions."

Translations into Chinese[edit]


Yijing translated more than 60 texts into Chinese, including:

Mulasarvastivada Vinaya (???????)


Golden Light Sutra (???????) in 703 CE.
Diamond Sutra (???????????, T. 239) in 703 CE.
Sutra of the Original Vows of the Medicine Buddha of Lapis Lazuli Radiance and the
Seven Past Buddhas (????????????, T. 451), in 707 CE.
Avadanas (???) in 710 CE.
See also[edit]
flag China portal
icon Buddhism portal
Chinese Buddhism
Vikramashila
Notes[edit]
Jump up ^ ??????? Account of Buddhism sent from the South Seas
Jump up ^ ????????? Buddhist Monk's Pilgrimage of the Tang Dynasty
Jump up ^ Yijing. Takakusu, J. (tr.) A Record of the Buddhist Religion As Practiced
in India and the Malay Archipelago. 1896. p. xxv