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Dzogchen, Chinese Buddhism and the Universal Mind - Hsuan Tsang
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Hsuan Tsang


Then in the seventh century, between the years of 626 and 645, a Chinese Buddhist scholar by the name of Hsuan Tsang traveled overland through Central Asia to Kashmir and India. He remained in India for many years, during which time he mastered Sanskrit and Buddhist philosophy. After returning to China again, at the request of the Emperor, he wrote a full account of what he had seen in Central Asia and in India. This account, the Si-yu-ki or "The Memoirs of Western Countries," has become on of the primary historical sources on India for that period. Hsuan Tsang was especially interested in the Yogachara philosophy and so he collected manuscripts of the principal Sanskrit texts and later while in China he translated them into Chinese. As a translator, he was principally interested in introducing this Indian school of Mahayana Sutric Buddhism into his native land; consequently, his writings are more Indian in spirit than Chinese and contrast markedly with the more purely Chinese reactions to Buddhism which preceded him.


His most famous work was the Ch'eng Wei Shih Lun. This work is much more than a faithful translation of a Yogachara Sanskrit text, for it consists of Vasubandhu's Vijnaptimatrata-siddhi and Trimshika combined with Hsuan Tsang's own comments. Thus, even though Hsuan Tsang became the founder of the Pure Consciousness School in China, in his extensive writings he nowhere mentions Tibetans and Dzogchen and his Chinese Sutric school could not be source of Dzogchen, as Evans-Wents appears to suggest in the above quotation.