Xuan Zang

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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Xuanzang's travel route

Xuan Zang (ह्वेन त्सांग) or Xuanzang (c. 602 – 664), born Chen Hui or Chen Yi (Chen I), was a Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveller, and translator who described the interaction between China and India in the early Tang dynasty.

Variants of his name

Less common romanizations of "Xuanzang" include Hieun Tsang, Hwan Thsang, Hhuen Kwan, Hiouen Thsang, Hiuen Tsang, Hiuen Tsiang, Hsien-tsang, Hsyan-tsang, Hsuan Chwang, Yuan-chau, Huein-Tsang Huisheng Hsuan Tsiang, Hwen Thsang, Xuan Cang, Xuan Zang, Shuen Shang, Xuanzhang, Yuan Chang, Yuan Chwang, and Yuen Chwang. Hsüan, Hüan, Huan and Chuang are also found.

Tang Monk (Tang Seng) is also transliterated /Thang Seng/.[1]


Born in what is now Henan province around 602, from boyhood he took to reading religious books, including the Chinese classics and the writings of ancient sages.

While residing in the city of Luoyang, Xuanzang was ordained as a śrāmaṇera (novice monk) at the age of thirteen. Due to the political and social unrest caused by the fall of the Sui dynasty, he went to Chengdu in Sichuan, where he was ordained as a bhikṣu (full monk) at the age of twenty. He 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, Xuanzang developed the desire to visit India. He 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.

He became famous for his seventeen-year overland journey to India, which is recorded in detail in the classic Chinese text Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, which in turn provided the inspiration for the novel Journey to the West written by Wu Cheng'en during the Ming dynasty, around nine centuries after Xuanzang's death.[2]

About India

Harihar Panda[3] writes ... The earliest Chinese writers (e.g. Chang-k'ien and his successors) employ the term Shentu and Hsien-tsu (Sindhu) which is soon replaced by T'ien Chu succeeded by Intu. During the period of Xuanzang and I-tsing such names as Si-fang (the west), Wu-tien (the five countries of India), A-ti-ya-t'i-sha (Aryadesha), Po-lo-menkuo or Fan-Kuo (Brahmarashtra) and Indra Vardhana were also other connotations of India.

Early life

Xuanzang was born Chen Hui (or Chen Yi) around 602 in Chenhe Village, Goushi Town, Luozhou (near present-day Luoyang, Henan) and died on 5 February 664[4] in Yuhua Palace (in present-day Tongchuan, Shaanxi). His family was noted for its erudition for generations, and Xuanzang was the youngest of four children. His ancestor was Chen Shi, a minister of the Eastern Han dynasty. His great-grandfather Chen Qin served as the prefect of Shangdang present-day Changzhi, Shanxi) during the Eastern Wei; his grandfather Chen Kang was a professor in the Taixue (Imperial Academy) during the Northern Qi. His father Chen Hui was a conservative Confucian who served as the magistrate of Jiangling County during the Sui dynasty, but later gave up office and withdrew into seclusion to escape the political turmoil that gripped China towards the end of the Sui. According to traditional biographies, Xuanzang displayed a superb intelligence and earnestness, amazing his father by his careful observance of the Confucian rituals at the age of eight. Along with his brothers and sister, he received an early education from his father, who instructed him in classical works on filial piety and several other canonical treatises of orthodox Confucianism.

Although his household was essentially Confucian, at a young age, Xuanzang expressed interest in becoming a Buddhist monk like one of his elder brothers. After the death of his father in 611, he lived with his older brother Chén Sù (later known as Zhǎng jié) for five years at Jingtu Monastery in Luoyang, supported by the Sui state. During this time he studied Mahayana as well as various early Buddhist schools, preferring the former.

In 618, the Sui Dynasty collapsed and Xuanzang and his brother fled to Chang'an, which had been proclaimed as the capital of the Tang dynasty, and thence southward to Chengdu, Sichuan. Here the two brothers spent two or three years in further study in the monastery of Kong Hui, including the Abhidharma-kośa Śāstra. When Xuanzang requested to take Buddhist orders at the age of thirteen, the abbot Zheng Shanguo made an exception in his case because of his precocious knowledge.

Xuanzang was fully ordained as a monk in 622, at the age of twenty. The myriad contradictions and discrepancies in the texts at that time prompted Xuanzang to decide to go to India and study in the cradle of Buddhism.

He subsequently left his brother and returned to Chang'an to study foreign languages and to continue his study of Buddhism. He began his mastery of Sanskrit in 626, and probably also studied Tocharian. During this time, Xuanzang also became interested in the metaphysical Yogacara school of Buddhism.

His Journey

  • In 629, Xuanzang reportedly had a dream that convinced him to journey to India. Tang China and the Göktürks were at war at the time and Emperor Taizong of Tang had prohibited foreign travel.
  • He subsequently travelled across the Gobi Desert to Kumul (modern Hami City), thence following the Tian Shan westward, arriving in Turpan in 630. Here he met the king of Turpan, a Buddhist who equipped him further for his travels with letters of introduction and valuables to serve as funds.
  • Moving further westward, Xuanzang escaped robbers to reach Karasahr, then toured the non-Mahayana monasteries of Kucha.
  • Further west he passed Aksu before turning northwest to cross the Tian Shan's Bedel Pass into modern Kyrgyzstan. He skirted Issyk Kul before visiting Tokmak on its northwest, and met the great Khan of the Göktürks, whose relationship to the Tang emperor was friendly at the time.
  • After a feast, Xuanzang continued west then southwest to Tashkent, capital of modern Uzbekistan.
  • From here, he crossed the desert further west to Samarkand. In Samarkand, which was under Persian influence, the party came across some abandoned Buddhist temples and Xuanzang impressed the local king with his preaching.
  • Setting out again to the south, Xuanzang crossed a spur of the Pamirs and passed through the famous Iron Gates.
  • Continuing southward, he reached the Amu Darya and Termez, where he encountered a community of more than a thousand Buddhist monks.
  • Further east he passed through Kunduz, where he stayed for some time to witness the funeral rites of Prince Tardu, who had been poisoned. Here he met the monk Dharmasimha, and on the advice of the late Tardu made the trip westward to Balkh (modern Afghanistan), to see the Buddhist sites and relics, especially the Nava Vihara, which he described as the westernmost vihara in the world. Here Xuanzang also found over 3000 non-Mahayana monks, including Prajnakara,[6] a monk with whom Xuanzang studied early Buddhist scriptures. He acquired the important text of the Mahāvibhāṣa here, which he later translated into Chinese.
  • Prajñakara then accompanied the party southward to Bamyan, where Xuanzang met the king and saw tens of non-Mahayana monasteries, in addition to the two large Buddhas of Bamiyan carved out of the rockface.
  • The party then resumed their travel eastward, crossing the Shibar Pass and descending to the regional capital of Kapisi (about 60 kms north of modern Kabul), which sported over 100 monasteries and 6000 monks, mostly Mahayana. This was part of the fabled old land of Gandhara. Xuanzang took part in a religious debate here, and demonstrated his knowledge of many Buddhist schools. Here he also met the first Jains and Hindu of his journey.

Journey in India

  • His travels included, passing through Hunza and the Khyber Pass to the east, reaching the former capital of Gandhara, Purushapura (Peshawar), on the other side.
  • Peshawar was nothing compared to its former glory, and Buddhism was declining in the region. Xuanzang visited a number of stupas around Peshawar, notably the Kanishka Stupa. This stupa was built just southeast of Peshawar, by a former king of the city. In 1908, it was rediscovered by D.B. Spooner with the help of Xuanzang's account.
  • Reaching Oḍḍiyāna, he found 1,400 old monasteries, that had previously supported 18,000 monks. The remnant monks were of the Mahayana school.
  • Thereafter he headed to Taxila, a Mahayana Buddhist kingdom that was a vassal of Kashmir, which is precisely where he headed next. Here he found 5,000 more Buddhist monks in 100 monasteries.
  • During this time, Xuanzang writes about the Fourth Buddhist council that took place nearby, ca. 100 AD, under the order of King Kanishka of Kushana.
  • He visited Chiniot and Lahore as well and provided the earliest writings available on the ancient cities.
  • before climbing up to visit predominantly non-Mahayana monasteries in the Kulu valley and
  • turning southward again to Bairat and then
  • Xuanzang travelled up the river to Shrughna, also mentioned in the works of Udyotakara,
  • before crossing eastward to Matipura, where he arrived in 635, having crossed the river Ganges. At Matipura Monastery, Xuanzang studied under Mitrasena.[9]
  • It is believed he also visited Govishan present day Kashipur in the Harsha era, in 636, Xuanzang encountered 100 monasteries of 10,000 monks (both Mahayana and non-Mahayana), and was impressed by the king's patronage of both scholarship and Buddhism. Xuanzang spent time in the city studying early Buddhist scriptures,
  • before setting off eastward again for Ayodhya (Saketa), homeland of the Yogacara school.
  • Xuanzang now moved south to Kausambi (Kosam), where he had a copy made from an important local image of the Buddha.
  • Xuanzang now returned northward to Sravasti,
  • travelled through Terai in the southern part of modern Nepal (here he found deserted Buddhist monasteries) and
  • In 637, Xuanzang set out from Lumbini to Kusinagara, the site of Buddha's death,
  • before heading southwest to the deer park at Sarnath where Buddha gave his first sermon, and where Xuanzang found 1,500 resident monks.
  • Travelling eastward, at first via Varanasi,
  • He was then accompanied by local monks to Nalanda, the greatest Indian university of Indian state of Bihar, where he spent at least the next two years. He was in the company of several thousand scholar-monks, whom he praised. Xuanzang studied logic, grammar, Sanskrit, and the Yogacara school of Buddhism during his time at Nalanda. René Grousset notes that it was at Nalanda (where an "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") that Xuanzang met the venerable Silabhadra, the monastery's superior.[10] Silabhadra had dreamt of Xuanzang's arrival and that it would help spread far and wide the Holy Law.[11] Grousset writes: "The Chinese pilgrim had finally found the omniscient master, the incomparable metaphysician who was to make known to him the ultimate secrets of the idealist systems...The founders of Mahayana idealism, Asanga and Vasubandhu...Dignaga...Dharmapala had in turn trained Silabhadra. Silabhadra was thus in a position to make available to the Sino-Japanese world the entire heritage of Buddhist idealism, and the Siddhi Xuanzang's great philosophical treatise...is none other than the Summa of this doctrine, the fruit of seven centuries of Indian Buddhist thought."[12]
  • From Nalanda, Xuanzang travelled through several countries, including Pundranagara, to the capital of Pundravardhana, identified with modern Mahasthangarh, in Bangladesh. There Xuanzang found 20 monasteries with over 3,000 monks studying both the Hinayana and the Mahayana. One of them was the Vāśibhã Monastery (Po Shi Po), where he found over 700 Mahayana monks from all over East India.[13]
  • After crossing the Karatoya, he went east to the ancient city of Pragjyotishpura in the kingdom of Kamarupa at the invitation of its Hindu king Kumar Bhaskar Varman and spent three months in the region. He gives detailed account about culture and people of Kamrup.
  • In AD 645, when Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang was passing through the Uttarapatha, Udabhanda or Udabhandapura was the place of residence or secondary capital of emperor of Kapisa which then dominated over 10 neighboring states comprising Lampaka, Nagara, Gandhara and Varna (Bannu) and probably also Jaguda. About Gandhara, the pilgrim says that its capital was Purushapura; the royal family was extinct and country was subject to Kapisa; the towns and villages were desolate and the inhabitants were very few. It seems that under pressure from Arabs in the southwest and the Turks in the north, the kings of Kapisa had left their western possessions in the hands of their viceroys and made Udabhanda their principal seat of residence. The reason why Udabhandapura was selected in preference to Peshawar is at present unknown but it is possible that the new city of Udabhanda was built by Kapisa rulers for strategic reasons.[14]

Return to China

  • He arrived in the capital, Chang'an, on the seventh day of the first month of 645, and a great procession celebrated his return.[15]
  • On his return to China in AD 645, Xuanzang was greeted with much honor but he refused all high civil appointments offered by the still-reigning emperor, Emperor Taizong of Tang. Instead, he retired to a monastery and devoted his energy in translating Buddhist texts until his death in AD 664. According to his biography, he returned with, "over six hundred Mahayana and Hinayana texts, seven statues of the Buddha and more than a hundred sarira relics."[16]

Chronology of Xuanzang's travels

Approximate Chronology of Xuanzang's travels as provided by Alexander Cunningham in Appendix-A in his book The Ancient Geography of India: I. The Buddhist Period, Including the Campaigns of Alexander, and the Travels of Hwen-Thsang. By Sir Alexander Cunningham, pp.563-568, is given below. For content on Wiki click place name. Chinese name is also given after the place name. For Online reference click link to Cunningham in last column.


Year Date Description References
629 AD August 1 Left Liang-cheu, in 8th month of 3rd year of Ching-kwang, on horseback Juliens's 'Hiouen Thsang' Vol.i. 14
December-1 Akini, about 1200 miles, including 2 months' detention on the way Vol.i. 15,39
December-28 Baluka, about 500 miles.
630 AD January-10 Issikul, about 250 miles.
February-10 Talas, about 600 miles.
March-5 Samarkand, about 500 miles.
March-20 Khulm (Hu-o), halt for 1 month Vol.i. 62
April-20 Balkh.
April-30 Bamian. Snowstorm on road to Kapisa Vol.i. 71
May-10 Kapisa (Afghanistan): Kiapishe. Halt till end of summer Cunningham,p.18-26; Julien Vol.i. 75
Bagram (Afghanistan):Kiu-lu-sa-pang Cunningham,p.26-32
Kabul (Afghanistan):Kophene Cunningham,p.32-39
August-15 Lamghan (Afghanistan):Lan-po. Halt 3 days . Cunningham,p.42-43; Julien, Vol.i. 75
August-15 Nagarahara (Jalalabad Afghanistan): Na-ki-lo-ho. Halt 2 months (?) to visit holy places. Cunningham,p.43-46
November-1 Gandhara:Kien-to-lo, Capital- Peshawar :Pu-lu-sha-pulo. Visits holy spots. Cunningham,p.47-49
Pushkalavati (Charsadda, Pakistan): Pu-se-kia-lo-fa-ti Cunningham,p.49-51
Palodheri (Pakistan):Po-lu-sha Cunningham,p.51-52
December-1 Utakhanda (Hund, Swabi, Pakistan): U-to-kia-han-cha Cunningham,p.52-57
Salatura (Lahor, Swabi, Pakistan):So-lo-tu-lo Cunningham,p.57-58
Peshawar (Pakistan):Pu-lu-sha-pu-lo Cunningham,p.78-81
631 AD January-1 Udyana ():U-chang-na. Visits holy places. Cunningham,p.81-83
March-1 Source of Subhavastu (Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan): Su-po-fa-su-tu ; frost and ice. Cunningham,p.81-83
Bolor (Balti):Po-lu-lo Cunningham,p.83-84
April-1 Returns to Utakhanda.
April-10 Taxila (Shah-dheri, Pakistan):Ta-cha-shi-lo. Halt 1 month (?) to visit holy places. Cunningham,p.104-121
May-25 Sinhapura (Ketas, Chakwal, Pakistan):Seng-ho-pu-lo Cunningham,p.124-128
June-15 Returns to Taxila.
July-10 Urasa (Rash, Dhantawar, Muzafarabad):U-la-shi Cunningham,p.103-104
August-10 Kashmir. Halt 2 entire years. Cunningham,p.89-103; Julien's Vol.i.96
Baramulla(Kashmir):Hu.se.kia-lo Cunningham,p.128,129
633 AD October-1 Leaves Kashmir.
October-10 Punach (Punch, Jammu and Kashmir):Puan-nu-tso Cunningham,p.91,99
October-20 Rajauri (Jammu and Kashmir):Ko-lo-she-pu-lo Cunningham,p.129-130
November-10 Tseka (Taki, Northern Punjab):To.no. kia-tse.kia Cunningham,p.148-154
November-15 Sakala or Sangala (Sangla-wala-Tiba, Sialkot ):She-kie-lo Cunningham,p.179-192
November-25 Large town (? Kusawar or Kasur). Halt 1 month Cunningham,p.199-200;Julien's Vol.i.101
634 AD January-1 Chinapati (Patti, Tarn Taran, Punjab):Chi-na-po-ti. Halt 14 months. Cunningham,p.200-203; Julien's Vol.i.101
Thanesar Cunningham,p.328-336
Prithudaka (Pehowa) Cunningham,p.336-337
Amin Kurukshetra Cunningham,p.337
635 AD March-15 Jalandhara (Punjab). Halt 4 months Cunningham,p.136-141; Julien's Vol.i.102
August-1 Kuluta (Kullu, Himachal Pradesh):Kiu-lu-to Cunningham,p.142-143
September-10 Satadru (Sirhind, Fatehgarh Sahib, Punjab):She-to-tu-lo Cunningham,p.144-148
September-25 Pariyatra (Bairat, Jaipur, Rajasthan):Poli-ye-to-lo Cunningham,p.337-345
October-5 Mathura (UP) Cunningham,p.374-375
October-25 Thanesar or Sthaneswara (Haryana) Cunningham,p.328
Gokantha (?Gunana, Yamunanagar Haryana):Kiu-hoen-cha Cunningham,p.345
November-1 Srughna (Sugh): Su-lu-kin-na. Sugh in Jagadhari (Yamunanagar). Halt 4½ months, for whole winter and half spring. Cunningham,p.345-348; Julien, Vol.i.106
636 AD March-15 Madawar (Mandawar Bijnor): Mo-li-pu-lo. Halt 4½ months, for half spring and whole summer. Cunningham,p.348-350;Julien Vol.i.109
Mayapura (Haridwar):Mo-yu-lo Cunningham,p.351-355
August-1 Brahmapura (Lakhanpur or Vairat-pattan): Po-lo-ki-mo-pu-lo Cunningham,p.355-356
August-5 Returns to Madawar.
August-10 Govisana (Kashipur,Uttarakhand): Cunningham,p.357-359
August-15 Ahichhatra (Ram Nagar,Bareilly): Ahi-chi-ta-lo Cunningham,p.359-363
August-20 Pilosana (Atranji-Khera, Etah):Pi-lo-shan-na Cunningham,p.364-369
August-25 Sankisa (Farrukhabad):Seng-kia-she Cunningham,p.369-373
September-1 Kanoj. Halt 3 months Cunningham,p.376-382; Julien Vol.i.113
December-1 Ayuto (Ayodhya/Kakupur):Sha-chi Cunningham,p.382-387
December-4 Hayamukha (Daundia-khera, Unnao):O.ye.mu.khi Cunningham,p.387-388
December-7 Prayaga (Allahabad) Cunningham,p.388-391
December-10 Kausambi. Cunningham,p.391-398
December-13 Kusapura (Sultanpur) (UP) Cunningham,p.398-401
December-16 Vaisakha, or Saketa, or Ajudhya. Cunningham,p.401-407
December-20 Sravasti (Sahet-Mahet, Gonda) (UP) Cunningham,p.407-414
December-25 Kapilavastu (Lumbini, Nepal) Cunningham,p.414-420
December-28 Ramagrama (Nawalparasi , Nepal) Cunningham,p.420-423
Anoma River (Nepal, Kapilavastu Cunningham,p.423-429
Pippalavana (Sahankat, Rudrapur) Cunningham,p.429-430
637 AD January-1 Kusinagara (Uttar Pradesh) Cunningham,p.430-433
January-3 Kahaon/(?Khukhundo) (Gorakhpur, UP) Cunningham,p.433-434
January-12 Banaras or Varanasi (UP) Cunningham,p.435-438
January-20 Garjapatipura (Dighwara, Saran district, Bihar:Chen-chu Cunningham,p.438-442
January-25 Vaisali (Bihar):Chen-shu-na Cunningham,p.443-446
January-30 Vriji (Bihar):Fo-li-shi Cunningham,p.447-450
February-5 Nepal:Ni.po.lo Cunningham,p.450-452
February-15 Returns to Vaisali.
February-20 Magadha. Capital, Pataliputra ( Palibothra) Cunningham,p.452-455
March-1 Bodh Gaya, Kurkihar, Kusagarapura, Rajagriha, Nalanda, Giryak (Indrasila Guha), Bihar. Long stay. Visits all the holy places ; returns to Nalanda for 15 months. Study of language — say altogether 22 months. Juliens's 'Hiouen Thsang' Vol.i.152 Vol.i.164
Bodh Gaya (Gaya, Bihar):Ti-lo-shi-kia or Ti-lo-tse-kia Cunningham,p.455-459
Kurkihar (Gaya, Bihar):Kiu-kiu-cha-po-tho Cunningham,p.459-460
Kusagarapura (Rajgir, Bihar) :Fo-tho-fa-na Cunningham,p.461-467
Rajagriha(Rajgir, Bihar) Cunningham,p.467-468
Nalanda (Bihar) Cunningham,p.468-471
Indrasila Guha (Giryak, Nalanda, Bihar) Cunningham,p.471-473
Bihar (Nalanda, Bihar) Cunningham,p.473-475
639 AD January-1 Hiranya-parvata (Munger, Bihar):I-lan-na-po-fa-ta Cunningham,p.476-477
January-5 Champa (Bhagalpur, Bihar) Cunningham,p.477-478
January-10 Kankjol (Rajmahal, Sahibganj, Jharkhand):Kie-chu-u-khi-lo, or Kie-ching-kie-lo. Cunningham,p.478-479
January-15 Paundra Varddhana (Mahasthangarh, Bangladesh):Pun-na-fa-tan-na Cunningham,p.480-481
February-20 Kamarupa (Assam):Kia-mo-leu-po Cunningham,p.500-501
March-20 Samatata (South-eastern part of the Bengal):San-mo-ta-cha Cunningham,p.501-504
April-10 Tamralipti (Bengal):Tan-mo-li-ti Cunningham,p.504
April-20 Kirana Suvarna (Singhbhum, Jharkhand) Cunningham,p.504-510
May-5 Orissa: U-cha or Oda Cunningham,p.510-512
May-15 Ganjam (Orissa):Kong-yu-to Cunningham,p.513-515
May-30 Kalinga(Orissa):Kie-ling-kia Cunningham,p.515-519
June-20 Kosala (Vidarbha, or Berar):Kiao-sa-lo Cunningham,p.519-527
July-20 Andhra :An-to-lo Cunningham,p.527-529
July-30 Dhanakakata (Amaravti, Maharashtra) :To.na.kie.tse.kia. Halt 6 months Cunningham,p.530-545;Julien Vol.i.189
640 AD February-1 Jorya (Thanjavur,Tamil Nadu:Chu-li-ye, or Jho-li-ye Cunningham,p.545-548
February-20 Dravida (Ta-lo-pi-cha). Capital Kanchipura, or Conjeveram (Kien-chi-pu-lo) Cunningham,p.548-549; Julien Vol.i.190
April-1 Malyakuta (Malabar):Mo-lo-kiu-cha or Chi-mo-lo Cunningham,p.549-550
May-10 Returns to Dravida.
June-20 Konkanapura (Maharashtra):Kong-kien-na-pu-lo Cunningham,p.552-553
July-20 Maharashtra: Mo-ho-la-cha Cunningham,p.553-556
August-10 Bharoch (Gujarat) : Po-lu-kie-che-po Cunningham,p.326-327
September-1 Malwa (Madhya Pradesh):Mo-la-po Cunningham,p.490-492
October-10 Vadari or Eder (Surat):O-cha-li Cunningham,p.494-495
October-15 Kheda Gujarat, or Khaira:Kie-cha Cunningham,p.492-493
November-1 Vallabhi (Vallabhipur, Bhavnagar , Gujarat) Cunningham,p.316-324
November-16 Anandapura (Vadnagar,Gujarat):O.nan.to.pulo Cunningham,p.493-494
November-26 Surashtra (Gujarat):Su-la-cha Cunningham,p.324-326
641 AD January-1 Gurjjara (Western Rajasthan):Kiu-che-lo,capital - Barmer :Pi-lo-mi-lo Cunningham,p.312-316
February-20 Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh):U-she-yen-na Cunningham,p.489-490
March-20 Jajhoti (Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh):Chi-chi-to Cunningham,p.481-485
April-5 Maheswarapura (Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh):Mo-hi-shi-fa-lo-pu-lo Cunningham,p.488-489
May-15 Returns to Surashtra.
June-20 Udumbara or Kachh (Gujarat:O-tien-po-chi-lo) Cunningham,p.302-304
July-30 Langala or Biluchistan (Pakistan):Lang-kie-lo Cunningham,p.310-311
August-13 Pitasila or Patala (Lower Sindh,Pakistan): Pi-to-shi-lo Cunningham,p.277-287
August-20 Avanda or Brahmanabad (Pakistan):O-fan-cha Cunningham,p.267-277
September-1 Sindh. Capital Alor:Pi-chen-po-pu-lo. Halt 20 days. Cunningham,p.249-262
October-10 Multan (Pakistan):Meu-lo-san-pu-lo Cunningham,p.219-224,230-241
October-20 Polofato/ (Solofato) (Shorkot, Jhang, Pakistan:Po-la-fa-to. Halt 2 months. Cunningham,p.203-207
642 AD April-1 Returns to Magadha. Halts 2 months, to resolve doubts. Vol.i.211
August-5 Revisits Kamarupa. Halts one month ; messengers sent to different kingdoms Vol.i.236
November-1 Starts for Kanyakubja, or Kanoj, " in beginning of winter," in company with King Siladitya. Vol.i.242
December-25 Arrives in last month of the year. Religious assembly at Kanoj ; discussions for 18 days Vol.i.242. Vol.i.246
643 AD March-1 Prayaga. Grand religious assembly held in 2nd month of spring; Lasts for 75 days Vol.ii.257. Vol.i.252.
May-25 Kausambi. 7 days' march Vol.i.260.
July-1 Pilosana. March 1 month, halt 2 months Vol.i.261.
Sep-20 Jalandhara. Halt 1 month Vol.i.261.
Nov.15 Sinhapura.
Dec.15 Taxila. Halt 7 days Vol.i.264.
Dec.25 Fords the Indus on an elephant ; therefore in midwinter to Utakhanda. Halt 1 month and 20 days Vol.i.264.
644 AD March-15 Reaches Lamghan (Lan-po) (Afghanistan) with the king in 1 month Cunningham,p.42-43;Vol.i.265.
June-15 Falana (Banu,Pakistan):Fa-la-na. 15 days' march Cunningham,p.84-87
June-20 Opokien (Afghan):O-po-kien Cunningham,p.87-89
June-25 Ghazni (Afghanistan): Tsau-ku-ta Cunningham,p.39-42
July-1 Urddhasthana/Vardasthana/Wardak, or Ortospana, or Kabul.:'Fo-li-shi-sa-tang-na,Hu-phi-na Cunningham,p.32-39
July-5 Kapisa. Halt. Religious assembly 7 days Vol.i.266.
July-20 Andarab. Cross snowy mountains, and frozen streams.
Aug.-1 Tukhara. Halt 1 month.
Sep.-1 Munkan.
Sep.-3 Himatala.
Sep.-8 Badakshan.
Sep.-10 Kiepokian
Sep.-12 Kuilangnu.
Sep.-25 Pamer.
Sep.-26 Kopanto. Halt 20 days.
Oct.-10 Great rock.
Oct.-12 Ush.
Oct.-15 Kashgar.
Oct.-22 Yarkand.
Nov.-2 Kotan. Halt 7 days.
Nov.-13 Khima. Sandy desert.
Nov.-16 Nijang. Great desert.
Nov.-21 Tukhara.
Nov.-29 Chemotana.
Dec.-13 Nafopo.
645 AD Jan.-1 Frontier of China, after some detours.
April-1 Enters the capital of Western China, in spring of 645 (first moon of spring, nineteenth year of Ching-kwang) Vol.i.292.

[p.568]: Sir Alexander Cunningham[17] writes that - The above chronology gives the approximate dates as nearly as can determine them, partly from the facts stated, and partly from his lengthened experience of travelling in India. The estimated dates are well supported by facts noted in the histories of Ceylon, Sindh, and Kashmir; but he here repeats, that on Hwen Thsang's arrival at Kanchi, in February, 640, he heard of the assassination of the King of Ceylon. This must have been Raja Buna Mugalan, who was put to death in A.D. 639.

Another proof of the general accuracy of estimate of the pilgrim's rate of travelling is afforded by his statement made to the Great Abbot of the Nalanda Monastery that his travels had occupied three years.1 This period must refer to the actual time spent in travelling, as his recorded halts at various places for the purpose of study, before he reached Nalanda, amount to four years and seven months. These halts, as stated in his life, are as follows : —

Halt at period (Years-months)
Kapisa, one whole summer 0 - 3
Kashmir, two entire years 2 2 - 0
a large town (Kasur ?) 0 - 1
Chinapati 1 - 2
Jalandhar 0 - 4
Srughna, whole winter and half spring 0 - 4½
Madamar, half spring and whole summer 0 - 4½
Total halt 4 - 7

1 Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' i. 147.

[p.569]: Adding to these recorded halts the three years said to have been spent in travellings the whole period elapsed, between the pilgrim's departure from Liang-cheu in August, 629, and the date of his conversation with the Great Abbot, is seven years and seven months, which fixes his arrival at Nalanda in February, 637 A.D., the date according to my estimate being 1st March, 637.

The chronology here detailed follows the route indicated in the Life of Hwen Thsang, which differs from that given in the Memoirs after the departure of the pilgrim from Maheswarapura in April, A.D. 641. According to the Memoirs, the route was as follows : —

A.D. 641,

Apr. 5, Maheswarapura.
June 1, Sindh.
July 10, Multan.
„ 20, Polofato or Shorkot. Halt 2 months.
Oct. 20, Udumbara.
Nov. 30, Langala.
Dec. 13, Pitasila, or Patala.
„ 20, Avanda, or Bahmana.

A.D. 642,

Feb. 10, Falana, or Banu.
Mar. 1, Tsaokiuto, or Ghazni.

By this route the pilgrim would have reached Tsaokiuto just two years and two months earlier than by the other route, and as the date of his return to China is fixed with certainty, this long period of upwards of two years is wholly unaccounted for in the record of the pilgrim's travels. It seems almost certain, therefore, that it must have been spent in revisiting Magadha, as stated in the ' Life.'

In the ' Life' it is recorded that at the end of his second visit to Magadha, after two years' study, the pilgrim had a dream, in which the Bodhisatwa Manju Sri appeared to him, and foretold the death of King Siladitya in ten years.1 The king's death is then noted to have taken place at the end of

1 Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' i. 215.

[p.570]: the period Yong-hoei, or in A.D. 650. According to this date, the pilgrim's two years' residence in Magadha must have been from A.D. 638 to 640. But I find it quite impossible to reconcile this date with the detailed statements of his travels. If, however, we might refer the dream to the end of his first visit to Magadha, in November A.D. 638, which would seem to have also extended to about two years, then the date of Siladitya's death would be fixed to A.D. 648, which is the very year assigned for it in the Chinese account of India by Ma-twan-Lin.1 In the 22nd of the years Ching-kwan (A.D. 648), the Emperor of China sent an ambassador to Magadha, but before his arrival Siladitya was dead. The information obtained by this ambassador is, I think, more trustworthy than the account of Hoei-li, the biographer of Hwen Thsang, as the former had no object to serve in making an erroneous statement, while the latter was obliged to support the prophetic announcement of Hwen Thsang's dream. I am, therefore, inclined to adopt A.D. 648 as the true date of Siladitya's death, and to refer the period of the pilgrim's dream to the close of his first visit to Magadha in A.D. 638.

According to this view, the greater part of his two years' study at Nalanda must be referred to his first visit in A.D. 637-638, to which I have assigned a period of twenty-two months, which, added to his subsequent two months' study for the resolution of doubts2 at his second visit, makes up the total period of two years' study at Nalanda. The longer period of five years' study of all the works of both Buddhists and Brahmans, which is mentioned in another place,3 I understand to refer to the whole duration of his three principal halts, namely, at Kashmir for two years, at Chinapati for fourteen months, and at Nalanda for two years, which, taken in round numbers, amount to just five years.

1 Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, 1837, p. 69 ; anonymous English translation. See also Journ. Asiatique, 1839, 398 ; Frencli translation by M. Pauthier.

2 Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang," i. 211.

3 Ibid. i. 171.

See also

External links


  1. Christie 123, 126, 130, and 141
  2. Cao Shibang (2006). "Fact vs. Fiction: From Record of the Western Regions to Journey to the West". In Wang Chichhung. Dust in the Wind: Retracing Dharma Master Xuanzang's Western Pilgrimage. p. 62.
  3. Prof. H.C. Raychaudhuri, as a Historian by Harihar Panda, 2007,p. 138
  4. Wriggins 1996, pp. 7, 193
  5. Note sur la chronologie du voyage de Xuanzang." Étienne de la Vaissière. Journal Asiatique, Vol. 298, 1. (2010), pp. 157-168.[1]
  6. http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-AN/an160809.htm
  7. Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and monthly record (Great Britain) Volume 1, page 43 (Science) 1879.
  8. http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-AN/an160809.htm
  9. Men and Thought in Ancient India by Radhakumud Mookerji, 1912 edition published by McMillan and Co., reprinted by Motilal Banarasidass (1996) page 169
  10. René Grousset. In the Footsteps of the Buddha. JA Underwood (trans) Orion Press. New York. 1971. p159-160.
  11. René Grousset. In the Footsteps of the Buddha. JA Underwood (trans) Orion Press. New York. 1971. p159-160.
  12. Rene Grousset. In the Footsteps of the Buddha. JA Underwood (trans) Orion Press. New York. 1971 p161
  13. Watters II (1996), pp. 164-165. Li (1996), pp. 298-299
  14. The Geography of Ancient and Medieval India, 1971, p 292-93, Dr D. C. Sircar.
  15. Wriggins 186-188.
  16. Strong 2007, p. 188.
  17. The Ancient Geography of India: I. The Buddhist Period, Including the ...By Sir Alexander Cunningham, pp.563-568

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