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Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
(Sanskrit: कुमारजीव, simplified Chinese: 鸠摩罗什; traditional Chinese: 鳩摩羅什; pinyin: Jiūmóluóshí; Wade–Giles: Chiu1 mo2 lo2 shih2, 344–413 CE)[1] was a Buddhist monk, scholar, and translator from the Kingdom of Kucha. He first studied teachings of the Sarvastivadin schools, later studied under Buddhasvāmin, and finally became an adherent of Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism, studying the Mādhyamaka doctrine of Nāgārjuna. Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
settled in Chang'an
Chang'an
during the Sixteen Kingdoms
Sixteen Kingdoms
era. He is mostly remembered for the prolific translation of Buddhist texts written in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
to Chinese he carried out during his later life.

Contents

1 Life

1.1 Family and background 1.2 Childhood and education 1.3 Early fame in Kucha 1.4 Capture, Imprisonment and Release 1.5 At Chang'an

2 Translation style 3 Legacy 4 See also 5 Notes 6 References 7 External links

Life[edit] Family and background[edit] Kumārajīva's father Kumārāyana
Kumārāyana
was from the present day Kashmir[2][3][4] and his mother was a Kuchan princess who significantly influenced his early studies. His grandfather Ta-to is supposed to have had a great reputation. His father, who was a Brahmin[5][6] became a monk, left Kashmir, crossed the Pamir Mountains and arrived in Kucha, where he became the royal priest. The sister of the king, Jīva, also known as Jīvaka, married him and they produced Kumārajīva. Jīvaka joined the Tsio-li nunnery, north of Kucha, when Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
was just seven. Childhood and education[edit] When his mother Jīvaka joined the Tsio-li nunnery, Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
was just seven but is said to have already committed many texts and sutras to memory. He proceeded to learn Abhidharma, and after two years, at the age of nine, he was taken to Kashmir
Kashmir
by his mother to be better educated under Bandhudatta. There he studied Dīrgha Āgama, Madhyama Āgama and the Kṣudraka, before returning with his mother three years later. On his return via Tokharestan
Tokharestan
and Kashgar, an arhat predicted that he had a bright future and would introduce many people to Buddhism. Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
stayed in Kashgar
Kashgar
for a year, ordaining the two princely sons of Tsan-kiun (himself the son of the king of Yarkand) and studying the Abhidharma
Abhidharma
Piṭaka of the Sarvastivada under the Kashmirian Buddhayaśa, as well as the four Vedas, five sciences, Brahmanical sacred texts, astronomy. He studied mainly Āgama and Sarvastivada
Sarvastivada
doctrines at this time. Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
left Kashgar
Kashgar
with his mother Jīvaka at age 12, and traveled to Turpan, the north-eastern limit of the kingdom of Kucha, which was home to more than 10,000 monks. Somewhere around this time, he encountered the master Suryasoma, who instructed him in early Mahayana
Mahayana
texts. Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
soon converted, and began studying Madhyamaka
Madhyamaka
texts such as the works of Nagarjuna. Early fame in Kucha[edit]

The Statue of Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
in front of the Kizil Caves
Kizil Caves
in Kuqa County, Xinjiang, China

In Turpan
Turpan
his fame spread after beating a Tirthika
Tirthika
teacher in debate, and King Po-Shui of Kucha
Kucha
came to Turpan
Turpan
to ask Kumārajīva personally to return with him to Kucha
Kucha
city. Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
obliged and returned to instruct the king's daughter A-kie-ye-mo-ti, who had become a nun, in the Mahāsannipāta and Avatamsaka Sutras. At age 20, Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
was fully ordained at the king's palace, and lived in a new monastery built by king Po-Shun. Notably, he received Vimalākṣa who was his preceptor, a Sarvāstivādin monk from Kashmir, and was instructed by him in the Sarvāstivādin Vinaya Piṭaka. Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
proceeded to study the Pañcaviṁśatisāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, one of the longer Prajñāpāramitā texts. He is known to have engaged in debates, and to have encouraged dialogue with foreign monks. Jīvaka is thought to have moved to Kashmir. Capture, Imprisonment and Release[edit]

White Horse Pagoda, Dunhuang, commemorating Kumarajiva's white horse which carried the scriptures to China, c. 384 CE

In 379 CE, Kumārajīva's fame reached China
China
when a Chinese Buddhist monk named Seng Jun visited Kucha
Kucha
and described Kumārajīva's abilities. Efforts were then made by Emperor Fu Jian (苻堅) of the Former Qin
Former Qin
Dynasty to bring Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
to Qin capital of Chang'an.[7] To do this, his general Lü Guang was dispatched with an army in order to conquer Kucha
Kucha
and return with Kumārajīva. Fu Jian is recorded as telling his general, "Send me Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
as soon as you conquer Kucha."[8] However, when Fu Jian's main army at the capital was defeated, his general Lü Guang declared his own state and became a warlord in 386 CE, and had Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
captured when he was around 40 years old.[9] Being a non-Buddhist, Lü Guang had Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
imprisoned for many years, essentially as booty. During this time, it is thought that Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
became familiar with the Chinese language. Kumarajiva was also coerced by Lü into marrying the Kutcha King's daughter, which resulted in his chastity vow being negated.[10] After the Yao family of Former Qin
Former Qin
overthrew the previous ruler Fu Jian, the emperor Yao Xing made repeated pleas to the warlords of the Lü family to free Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
and send him east to Chang'an.[11] When the Lü family would not free Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
from their hostage, an exasperated Yao Xing had armies dispatched to Liangzhou in order to defeat the warlords of the Lü family and to have Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
brought back to them.[11] Finally the armies of Emperor Yao succeeded in defeating the Lü family, and Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
was brought east to the capital of Chang'an
Chang'an
in 401 CE.[11] At Chang'an[edit] At Chang'an, Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
was immediately introduced to the emperor Yao Xing, the court, and the Buddhist leaders. He was hailed as a great master from the Western regions, and immediately took up a very high position in Chinese Buddhist circles of the time, being given the title of National Teacher. Yao Xing looked upon him as his own teacher, and many young and old Chinese Buddhists flocked to him, learning both from his direct teachings and through his translation bureau activities. Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
appeared to have a major influence on Emperor Yao Xing's actions later on, as he avoided actions that may lead to many deaths, while trying to act gently toward his enemies. At his request, Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
translated many sutras into Chinese. Yao Xing also built many towers and temples. Because of the influence of Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
and Yao Xing, it was described that 90% of the population became Buddhists.

The second era of translators A. D. 400 was that of Kumaradjiva of Kashmir. There can be no doubt that he made use of SH and S as separate letters for he never confounds them in his choice of Chinese characters. The Chinese words already introduced by his predecessors he did not alter, and in introducing new terms required in the translation of the Mahayana
Mahayana
literature, the texts of the 大乘 Dacheng, or "greater vehicle," he uses SH for SH and usually B for V. Thus the city Shravasti was in Pali
Pali
Savatthi and in Chinese Sha-ba-ti. Probably Kumaradjiva himself speaking in the Cashmere dialect of Sanscrit called it Shabati.[12]

Translation style[edit]

Section of the Diamond Sutra, a handwritten copy by Zhang Jizhi, based on Kumarajiva's translation from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
to Chinese

Kumarajiva revolutionized Chinese Buddhism, in clarity and overcoming the previous "geyi" (concept-matching) system of translation through use of Daoist and Confucian terms. His translation style was distinctive, possessing a flowing smoothness that reflects his prioritization on conveying the meaning as opposed to precise literal rendering.[13] Because of this, his renderings of seminal Mahayana texts have often remained more popular than later, more literal translations, e.g. those of Xuanzang.[14] Sengrui had some influence on this final polished style, as the final editor of his translation works. Kumarajiva has sometimes been regarded by both the Chinese and by western scholars as abbreviating his translations, with later translators such as Xuanzang
Xuanzang
being regarded as being more "precise." According to Jan Nattier, this is actually an erroneous and mistaken view, and the main difference was due to the earlier versions of Kumarajiva's source texts:[15]

[W]here Kumarajiva's work can be compared with an extant Indic manuscript – that is, in those rare cases where part or all of a text he translated has survived in a Sanskrit
Sanskrit
or Prakrit
Prakrit
version – a somewhat surprising result emerges. While his translations are indeed shorter in many instances than their extant (and much later) Sanskrit counterparts, when earlier Indic-language manuscript fragments are available they often provide exact parallels of Kumarajiva's supposed "abbreviations." What seems likely to have happened, in sum, is that Kumarajiva was working from earlier Indian versions in which these expansions had not yet taken place.

Legacy[edit] Among the most important texts translated by Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
are the Diamond Sutra, Amitabha Sutra, Lotus Sutra, the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra, Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, Mahāprajñāpāramitāupadeśa
Mahāprajñāpāramitāupadeśa
which was a commentary (attributed to Nagarjuna) on the Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra. Kumarajiva had four main disciples: Daosheng, Sengzhao, Daorong (道融), and Sengrui. See also[edit]

Chinese Translation Theory Silk Road transmission of Buddhism

Notes[edit]

^ Pollard, Elizabeth (2015). Worlds Together Worlds Apart. 500 Fifth Ave New York, NY: W.W. Norton Company Inc. p. 287. ISBN 978-0-393-91847-2.  ^ Upinder Singh, A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century, Pearson Education India (2008), p. 523 ^ Moti Chandra, Trade and Trade Routes in Ancient India, Abhinav Publications (1977), p. 180 ^ David Howard Smith, Chinese Religions From 1000 B.C. to the Present Day, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (1971), p. 115 ^ http://www.pib.nic.in/newsite/feacontent.aspx?relid=69558 ^ http://old.longquanzs.org/eng/articlecontent.php?id=1342 ^ Kumar, Yukteshwar. A History of Sino-Indian Relations. 2005. p. 107 ^ Duan, Wenjie. Dunhuang
Dunhuang
Art: Through the Eyes of Duan Wenjie. 1995. p. 94 ^ Nan, Huai-Chin. Basic Buddhism: Exploring Buddhism
Buddhism
and Zen. 1997. p. 84 ^ Sun Yat-sen Institute for Advancement of Culture and Education, Nanking (1938). Ching-hsiung Wu, ed. T'ien hsia monthly, Volume 7. Kelly and Walsh, ltd. p. 455. Retrieved 2011-05-29. (Original from the University of Michigan) ^ a b c Kumar, Yukteshwar. A History of Sino-Indian Relations. 2005. p. 108 ^ The Chinese recorder and missionary journal, Volume 3. FOOCHOW.: American Presbyterian Mission Press. 1871. p. 217. Retrieved 2010-06-28. (Original from Harvard University) ^ Nattier 1992, pg. 186 ^ Nattier 1992, pg. 188 ^ Nattier, Jan (2003), A few good men: the Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
path according to the Inquiry of Ugra: p. 60

References[edit]

Nattier, Jan. The Heart Sutra: A Chinese Apocryphal Text?. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies Vol. 15 (2), 153-223 (1992). Puri, B. N. Buddhism
Buddhism
in Central Asia, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi, 1987 (2000 reprint) Lu, Yang (2004). Narrative and Historicity in the Buddhist Biographies of Early Medieval China: The Case of Kumārajīva, Asia Major, Third Series, 17 (2), 1-43  This article incorporates text from The Chinese recorder and missionary journal, Volume 3, a publication from 1871 now in the public domain in the United States.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kumarajiva.

Works by Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
at Project Gutenberg Works by or about Kumārajīva
Kumārajīva
at Internet Archive

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 106964949 LCCN: n50052023 ISNI: 0000 0000 8172 1598 GND: 104083298 SUDOC: 050795228 BNF: cb13547195r (data) NLA: 36730695 NDL: 00318891

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