Agustus 07, 2014

I-Ching (I-Tsing) (635–713 C.E.): Buddhist Pilgrim–cum–Travel Writer

I-CHING WAS a Chinese Buddhist pilgrim and was the first to take a sea route to India via Southeast Asia. He learned both the Confucian classics and the Buddhist canon as a child. After developing a sense of mission in Buddhism, he became dissatisfied with the Chinese Buddhist texts, which were full of obscure meanings, and was eager to search the original texts. This served as a strong motivating force behind his pilgrimage to India in 671. The twenty-year odyssey was originally designed for a group of about thirty, but it turned out to be a lonely one for I-Ching, as he was deserted by all his companions when the Persian ship set out at Guangzhou (Canton).

I-Ching chose a sea route to circumvent the growing Arabian strength in Central Asia, which made a land route to India insurmountable. His travel to India turned out to be historically important. He brought from India to China 400 volumes of Buddhist manuscripts. The translations done by I-Ching provided the Chinese Buddhists with more authentic texts, which later gained currency in China. Southeast Asia, especially Srivijaya, played a special role in the success of I-Ching’s pilgrimage. He was indebted to the ruler of Srivijaya, who provided much-needed assistance to his travels to India. On his return trip, he stayed for ten years at Palembang, the capital of Srivijaya and a center for Buddhist study, making use of the expertise of the numerous Buddhist monks there for translating the Buddhist texts into Chinese. He also completed here two books about his travels, in which the existence of the kingdom of Srivijaya was first revealed. His writings are invaluable source materials on early Southeast Asian history.[]


Hans W. Y. Yeung, “I-Ching (I-Tsing) (635–713 C.E.): Buddhist Pilgrim–cum–Travel Writer”, Ooi Keat Gin (ed.), Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia from Angkor Wat to East Timor, (California-Colorado-Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 2004): 628.

0 komentar: