Kumarajiva


Kumarajiva

Kumārajīva; (also Kiu-kiu-lo, Kiu-mo-lo-che, Kiu-mo-to-tche-po, Tang-cheu), (b. 344 CE – d. 413 CE) was a Kuchean Buddhist monk, scholar and translator whose father was from an Indian noble family, and whose mother was a Kuchean princess who significantly influenced his early studies. He first studied teachings of the Sarvastivada schools, later studied under Buddhasvāmin, and finally became a Mahayāna adherent, studying the Madhyamika doctrine of Nagarjuna. He settled in Chang'an. He is mostly remembered for the prolific translation of Buddhist texts written in Sanskrit to Chinese he carried out during his later life.

Family

Kumārajīva's father Kumārāyana (also "Kiu-mo-yen") was an intelligent man from a noble family in India, while his grandfather Ta-to is supposed to have had a great reputation. His father became a monk, left India, crossed the Pamirs and arrived in Kucha where he became the royal priest. The sister of the king, Jīva, married him and they produced Kumārajīva. Jīva joined the Tsio-li nunnery, north of Kucha, when Kumārajīva was just seven.

Childhood and Education

When his mother Jīva joined the Tsio-li nunnery, 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 by his mother to be better educated under Bandhudatta. There he studied Dīrghāgama, Madhyāgama and the Kṣudraka, before returning with his mother three years later. On his return via Tokharestan and Kashgar, an arhat predicted that he had a bright future and would introduce many people to Buddhism. Kumārajīva stayed in Kashgar for a year, ordaining the two princely sons of Tsan-kiun (himself the son of the king of Yarkand) and studying the "Abhidharmapiṭaka" of the Sarvastivada under the Kashmirian Buddhayaśa, as well as the four Vedas, five sciences, Bhahmanical sacred texts, astronomy. He studied mainly Agama and Sarvastivada doctrines at this time.

Kumārajīva left Kashgar with Jīva at age 12, and traveled to Turfan, 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 Mahayanaist Suryasoma, who instructed him in early Mahayana texts. Kumārajīva soon converted, and began studying sunyavada texts, such as the works of Nagarjuna.

In Turfan his fame spread after besting a Tirthika teacher in debate, and King Po-Shui of Kucha came to Turfan to ask Kumārajīva personally to return with him to Kucha city. Kumārajīva obliged and returned to instruct the king's daughter A-Kie-ye-mo-ti, who had become a nun, in the "Mahāsannipāta" and "Mahāvaipulya" sūtras.

At age 20, 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 Sarvāstivādan monk from Kashmir, and was instructed by him in the Sarvāstivādan "Vinayapiṭaka". Kumārajīva proceeded to study the "Pañcaviṁśati-sāhasrikā" sūtra, one of the longer Perfection of Wisdom texts, relatively obscure at the time. He is known to have engaged in debates, and to have encouraged dialogue with foreign monks. Jīva is thought to have moved to Kashmir.

When about 40 years old, a Chinese force captured Kucha and took away Kumārajīva as part of their booty. Initially he was to be taken to the capital, but the local non-Buddhist leader instead kept him locked up for many years. During this time, it is thought that Kumārajīva learnt Chinese. Later, this local leader was bested in a war, and finally Kumārajīva was taken to the capital, Chang'an, whereupon he was immediately introduced to the King, Yao Xing, the court, and other local and non-local 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. Yao Xing looked upon him as a teacher, and many young and old Chinese Buddhists flocked to him, learning both from his direct teachings and through his translation bureau activities. The latter revolutionized Chinese Buddhism, in clarity and overcoming the previous "ge-yi" (concept-matching) system of translation through use of Daoist and Confucian terms.

Legacy

Among the most important texts translated by Kumārajīva are the "Diamond Sutra", "Amitabha Sutra", "Lotus Sutra", the "Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra", "Mūlamadhyamakakārikā" and the "Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā sutra". His translation was distinctive, possessing a flowing smoothness that reflects his prioritization on conveying the meaning as opposed to precise literal rendering. Because of this, his renderings of seminal Mahayana texts have often remained more popular than later, more exact translations.

Kumarajiva had four main disciples: 道生 Daosheng, 僧肇 Sengzhao, 道融 Daorong, and 僧叡 Sengrui.

References

*Puri, B. N. "Buddhism in Central Asia", Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi, 1987. (2000 reprint)
* [http://www.sra.co.jp/people/aoki/Buddhism/HannyaShingyou/PrajnaParamitaHrdayaSutra.html The Heart Sutra of Prajna Paramita]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kumârajîva — Kumarajiva Kumārajīva ou Kumarajiva (sanscrit : कुमारजीव; chinois traditionnel : 鳩摩羅什 Jiūmóluóshí) 334 417 ou 350 409 [1], est un moine bouddhiste koutchéen polyglotte et érudit, versé dans la littérature védique, le canon pali… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Kumārajiva — Kumarajiva Kumārajīva ou Kumarajiva (sanscrit : कुमारजीव; chinois traditionnel : 鳩摩羅什 Jiūmóluóshí) 334 417 ou 350 409 [1], est un moine bouddhiste koutchéen polyglotte et érudit, versé dans la littérature védique, le canon pali… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Kumārajīva — Kumarajiva Kumārajīva ou Kumarajiva (sanscrit : कुमारजीव; chinois traditionnel : 鳩摩羅什 Jiūmóluóshí) 334 417 ou 350 409 [1], est un moine bouddhiste koutchéen polyglotte et érudit, versé dans la littérature védique, le canon pali… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Kumarajiva — Kumārajīva ou Kumarajiva (sanskrit : कुमारजीव; chinois traditionnel : 鳩摩羅什 Jiūmóluóshí) 334 417 ou 350 409 [1], est un moine bouddhiste koutchéen polyglotte et érudit, versé dans la littérature védique, le canon pali (tipitaka) et les… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Kumarajiva — Kumārajīva (chin. 鳩摩羅什 / 鸠摩罗什, jiū mó luó shí, W. G. Chiu1 mo2 lo2 shih2, jap. Kumarajū; * 343; † 413) war ein im zentralasiatischen Königreich Kucha geborener Mönch und Gelehrter. Mit zu seinen wichtigsten Arbeiten gilt die Übersetzung des Lotos …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Kumârajîva — Kumārajīva (chin. 鳩摩羅什 / 鸠摩罗什, jiū mó luó shí, W. G. Chiu1 mo2 lo2 shih2, jap. Kumarajū; * 343; † 413) war ein im zentralasiatischen Königreich Kucha geborener Mönch und Gelehrter. Mit zu seinen wichtigsten Arbeiten gilt die Übersetzung des Lotos …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Kumarajiva — (Skt; Jpn Kumaraju) (344 413 dc.) fue un estudioso y traductor de escrituras budistas al chino. Contenido 1 Biografía 2 Traducciones 3 Véase también 4 Bibliografía …   Wikipedia Español

  • Kumārajīva — (chinesisch 鳩摩羅什 / 鸠摩罗什 Jiūmóluóshí, W. G. Chiu1 mo2 lo2 shih2, jap. Kumarajū; * 343; † 413) war ein im zentralasiatischen Königreich Kucha geborener Mönch und Gelehrter. Mit zu seinen wichtigsten Arbeiten gilt die Übersetzung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • KUMARAJIVA — KUM RAJ 壟VA (344 413) Un des plus grands traducteurs chinois de textes bouddhistes. Kum raj 稜va est né à Kuc d’un père ancien brahmane qui s’est converti au bouddhisme, puis marié à une princesse de Kuc . Sa mère, entrée en religion, l’emmène,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Kumarajiva — ▪ Buddhist scholar born 343/344 died 413       Buddhist scholar and seer, famed for his encyclopaedic knowledge of Indian and Vedantic learning. He is recognized as one of the greatest translators of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Chinese …   Universalium


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.