Faxian’s Biography and His Contributions to Asian Buddhist Culture: Latest Textual Analysis

  •  Xican Li    


To provide more updated and accurate information on Faxian, an eminent monk of ancient China’s Jin Dynasty (266–421 CE), the present study conducts a literature survey to analyze his native region. It is found that Faxian was actually born in modern Linfen City in Shanxi Province, not Xiangyuan County as previously described. In his childhood, he became a novice monk and was compassionate toward the poor. To search out and collect Buddhist scriptures, Faxian undertook a westward pilgrimage to India from 399 to 412 CE. During this hard and dangerous pilgrimage, Faxian burst into tears three times. Finally, he succeeded in bringing a trove of Buddhist scriptures back to China from India. For the rest of his life, along with Buddhabhadra, he was engaged in translating Buddhist scriptures into Chinese. These translated scriptures were highly beneficial for Chinese Buddhism, especially the precepts (sila-vinaya) and Mahāyāna works. Faxian himself is demonstrated to have been a Mahāyāna Buddhist follower. His pilgrimage experience was recorded in his work “Record of Buddhist Kingdoms”, which provides important information about ancient Asian kingdoms. Faxian’s story promoted Asian tourism relevant to Buddhist culture. As a pioneer in the 4th century, Faxian started a new era of westbound pilgrimage to ancient India, including the similar pilgrimages of Xuanzang and Yijing in the 7th century. Even today, Faxian continues to strengthen friendship among Asian countries.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1916-9655
  • ISSN(Online): 1916-9663
  • Started: 2009
  • Frequency: semiannual

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