102 Facts About Xuanzang


Xuanzang was ordained as a sramanera at the age of thirteen.


Xuanzang 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, where Xuanzang developed the desire to visit India.


Xuanzang 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.


Xuanzang was concerned about the competing Buddhist theories in variant Chinese translations.


Xuanzang sought original untranslated Sanskrit texts from India to help resolve some of these issues.


Xuanzang defied his nation's ban on travel abroad, making his way through central Asian cities such as Khotan to India.


Xuanzang visited, among other places, the famed Nalanda monastery in modern day Bihar, India where he studied with the monk, Silabhadra.


Xuanzang departed from India with numerous Sanskrit texts on a caravan of twenty packhorses.


Xuanzang's return was welcomed by Emperor Taizong in China, who encouraged him to write a travelogue.


Xuanzang's travelogue is a mix of the implausible, the hearsay and a firsthand account.


Less common romanizations of "Xuanzang" include Hyun Tsan, Hhuen Kwan, Hiuan Tsang, Hiouen Thsang, Hiuen Tsang, Hiuen Tsiang, Hsien-tsang, Hsyan-tsang, Hsuan Chwang, Huan Chwang, Hsuan Tsiang, Hwen Thsang, Hsuan Chwang, Hhuen Kwan, Xuan Cang, Xuan Zang, Shuen Shang, Yuan Chang, Yuan Chwang, and Yuen Chwang.


Xuanzang's family was noted for its erudition for generations, and Xuanzang was the youngest of four children.


Xuanzang's ancestor was Chen Shi, a minister of the Eastern Han dynasty.


Xuanzang's great-grandfather Chen Qin served as the prefect of Shangdang during the Eastern Wei; his grandfather Chen Kang was a professor in the Taixue during the Northern Qi.


Inspired, at a young age, Xuanzang expressed interest in becoming a Buddhist monk like his brother.


The myriad contradictions and discrepancies in the Chinese translations at that time prompted Xuanzang to decide to go to India and study in the cradle of Buddhism.


Xuanzang knew about Faxian's visit to India and, like him, sought original untranslated Sanskrit texts from India to help resolve some of these issues.


Xuanzang started his pilgrimage to India in either 627 or 629 CE, according to two East Asian versions.


The date when Xuanzang's pilgrimage started is not resolved in any of the texts that Xuanzang himself wrote.


Yet, one version by Huili, states that Xuanzang met Yabghu Qaghan, someone who died in 628 CE according to Persian and Turkish records.


In other words, some of the details in the surviving versions of Xuanzang biography were invented or a paleographic confusion introduced an error, or the Persian-Turkish records are unreliable.


Xuanzang declined and they equipped him further for his travels with letters of introduction and valuables to serve as funds.


Xuanzang observed that the country of Agni had more than ten monasteries following the Sarvastivada school of Hinayana Buddhism, with two thousand monks who ate "three kinds of pure meat" with other foods, rather than vegetarian food only that would be consistent with Mahayana Buddhist teachings.


The biographies of Xuanzang then describe implausible tales of a dragon race.


Xuanzang describes more monasteries, such as the Eastern Cakuri monastery and Ascarya monastery, with Buddha's footprints and Buddha idols.


Xuanzang crossed the countries of Samarkand, Mimohe, Kaputana, Kusanika, Bukhara, Betik, Horismika and Tukhara.


Xuanzang describes warring factions of Turk chieftains in control, with "illness and pestilence" rampant.


Xuanzang describes supernatural monsters, fishes and dragons living in this lake.


Xuanzang adds that the Hinayana Buddhist schools were followed in all these regions.


Xuanzang was told that it was cast in separate parts and then joined up together.


The citizens of this country, adds Xuanzang, fondly recall "King Kanishka of Gandhara".


Xuanzang describes miraculous events from a Buddhist stupa, such as raging flames bursting out of them leaving behind stream of pearls.


Xuanzang states that India is a vast country over ninety thousand li in circuit, with seventy kingdoms, sea on three sides and snow mountains to its north.


Xuanzang adds that it has its own ancient customs, such as measuring its distance as "yojana", equal to forty li, but varying between thirty to sixteen depending on the source.


Xuanzang includes a section on the differences between the Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhist communities.


Xuanzang describes Lampaka as the territory of north India, one whose circuit is more than 1000 li and where all monasteries studied Mahayana Buddhism.


The travelogue states that Xuanzang went into a dark cave here where dangerous beings lived, recited Srimaladevi Simhanadasutra, and they became Buddhists.


Gandhara has numerous holy Buddhist sites, and Xuanzang visited and worshipped all of them.


Xuanzang calls the stupas and the Buddha images in this region as "magnificent" and made with "perfect craftmanship".


Xuanzang arrived in Taxila, after crossing a river with "poisonous dragons and evil animals".


Xuanzang was received by the king, and numerous monks from the Jayendra monastery.


Xuanzang had treatises with 960,000 words written on copper plates and had them stored in a newly built great stupa.


Xuanzang stays in Kashmira for two years and studies the treatises with them.


Xuanzang describes many events where he is helped by both Buddhists and non-Buddhists.


Yet, elsewhere, Xuanzang recites the implausible tale of meeting a Brahmin who was 700 years old and had two associates, each over a 100 year old, who had mastered all of the Hindu Vedas and the Buddhist Madhyamika sastra.


Xuanzang stayed with this implausibly old Brahmin for a month, and studied the Madhyamika sastra with him.


About 30 li southeast from these temples is Salatura, which says Xuanzang was the birthplace of rishi Panini and the author of "Sabda-vidya-sastra".


Xuanzang thoroughly studied all written and spoken language, words in ancient and his times, then created a treatise of one thousand stanzas.


Xuanzang recites the hearsay stories he heard about Mahirakula's continued cruelty and destruction of 1600 stupas and monasteries.


Xuanzang then describes the surviving monasteries in Sagala with hundreds of Buddhist monks, along with its three colossal stupas, each over 200 feet tall, two built by Ashoka.


Xuanzang visited the country of Chinabhukti next, which he states got its name because a region west of the Yellow river was a vassal state of king Kanishka.


Xuanzang describes another colossal stupa that is over 200 feet tall built by Ashoka.


Near this, states Xuanzang, are numerous small stupas and large Buddhist caves.


From Jalambhara, Xuanzang travelled northeast through jagged peaks, deep valleys and dangerous trails into the Himalayan country of Kuluta.


Xuanzang describes the ritual carrying and worship of the Buddha and Buddhist deities in this country with incense and flowers scattered in streets.


Xuanzang describes the sastras composed and under study at the major Buddhist monasteries of Matipura.


Southeast of here, states Xuanzang, is the country of Ahicchattra with ten monasteries and a thousand monks belonging to the Sammitiya sect of Hinayana Buddhism.


Kapitha, states Xuanzang, has a "beautifully constructed monastery with many lofty and spacious buildings adoerned with exquisite carvings".


Xuanzang then recites, at length, the story of prince Shiladitya and how he constructed both major monasteries and temples, feeding hundreds of Buddhist monks and hundreds of Hindu Brahmins on festive days.


Xuanzang describes numerous monasteries in the southeast of its capital, along with large Buddhist temple made of stone and brocks, with a thirty feet tall Buddha statue.


About 100 li to the southeast of Shiladitya's capital, states Xuanzang, is the Navadevakula city on the eastern bank of Ganges eiver.


Xuanzang adds that Kausambi is the place that Buddhists text predict is where the Buddha Dharma will come to an end in a distant future, therefore anyone who comes to this place feels sad and "sheds tears".


Xuanzang headed northeast, crossed Ganges river again, and this came to the country of Vishaka.


Xuanzang calls its people sincere and honest by custom, fond of learning.


In Fascicle 6 of the travelogue manuscript, Xuanzang focuses on some of the holiest sites in Buddhism.


Xuanzang begins with Shravasti, describing it to be a country of over six thousand li in circuit.


Xuanzang saw the decaying remains of Prasenajit's palace, then to its east the Great Dhamma Hall stupa, another stupa and a temple for the maternal aunt of the Buddha.


Xuanzang saw all the monuments associated with the Sravasti legends with the Buddha, though many of these were in dilapidated condition.


From Sravasti, Xuanzang travelled southeast to the country of Kapilavastu.


Xuanzang describes a Buddhist temple with painting of a prince riding on a white horse, as well many Buddhist monuments and legends about the Buddha's early life in this region, as well as those of the Sakya clan.


Xuanzang describes many monuments and sites he was able to see where numerous legends of the Buddha played out, including the site where he was creamted.


Xuanzang starts with Baranasi, stating the country has Ganges river to its west.


Xuanzang describes many more stupas, pillars and monasteries in Baranasi country.


Xuanzang describes the Svetapura monastery with lofty buildings and magnificent pavilions.


Xuanzang then travelled to the country of Nepala, near the Snow Mountains.


The people here, says Xuanzang, are rude and disparaging by nature, but skilled in craftsmanship.


In Fascicle 8 of the travelogue, Xuanzang begins with the country of Magadha.


Xuanzang then describes several legends associated with Ashoka, along with several stupas and monasteries he found in good condition.


Xuanzang studied logic, grammar, Sanskrit, and the Yogacara school of Buddhism during his time at Nalanda with Silabhadra.


Xuanzang describes Nalanda as a place with "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".


Xuanzang visited Kamarupa, Samatata, Tamralipti, Kalinga and other regions, which Xuanzang calls as "domain of east India".


Xuanzang turned southward and travelled towards Andhradesa to visit the viharas at Amaravati Stupa and Nagarjunakonda.


Xuanzang observed that there were many Viharas at Amaravati and some of them were deserted.


Xuanzang later proceeded to Kanchi, the imperial capital of Pallavas, and a strong center of Buddhism.


Xuanzang continued traveling to Nasik, Ajanta, Malwa; from there he went to Multan and Pravata before returning to Nalanda again.


Xuanzang arrived in the capital, Chang'an, on the seventh day of the first month of 645,16 years after he left Chinese territory, and a great procession celebrated his return.


On his return to China in 645 CE, Xuanzang was greeted with much honor but he refused all high civil appointments offered by the still-reigning emperor, Emperor Taizong of Tang.


Xuanzang is credited with the translation of some 1,330 fascicles of scriptures into Chinese.


Xuanzang was known for his extensive but careful translations of Indian Buddhist texts to Chinese, which have enabled subsequent recoveries of lost Indian Buddhist texts from the translated Chinese copies.


Xuanzang is credited with writing or compiling the Cheng Weishi Lun as a commentary on these texts.


Xuanzang returned to China with three copies of the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra.


Xuanzang was being encouraged by a number of his disciple translators to render an abridged version.


In 646, under the Emperor's request, Xuanzang completed his book, The Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, which has become one of the primary sources for the study of medieval Central Asia and India.


Xuanzang wrote a large treatise on Yogacara Buddhist philosophy, the Cheng Weishi Lun.


Xuanzang has preserved the records of the political and social aspects of the lands he visited.


Xuanzang's account has shed welcome light on the history of 7th century Bengal, especially the Gauda kingdom under Shashanka, although at times he can be quite partisan.


Xuanzang received the best education on Buddhism he could find throughout India.


Much of this activity is detailed in the companion volume to Xiyu Ji, the Biography of Xuanzang written by Huili, entitled the Life of Xuanzang.


Xuanzang's style was, by Chinese standards, cumbersome and overly literal, and marked by scholarly innovations in terminology; usually, where another version by the earlier translator Kumarajiva exists, Kumarajiva's is more popular.


Part of Xuanzang's remains were taken from Nanjing by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army in 1942, and are now enshrined at Yakushi-ji in Nara, Japan.


In November 1965, the relic of Xuanzang was returned by the Japanese government to Taiwanese government and eventually enshrined in Xuanzang Temple, Taiwan.