Kumārajīva's biography

Kumārajīva 鸠摩罗什 (343–413; or 350–409) was a famous translator who translated into Chinese many important and influential Mahāyāna Buddhist texts. he was considered as the founder of the Sanlun (三论,Three treatise, i.e. Mādhyamika) School in China.

Kumārajīva was born of noble lineage in the Central Asian city of Kuchā (龟兹). His father was an emigrant Indian Brahman, the son of a former minister of an Indian kingdom, who had renounced his right to his father's position in order to become a monk. And his mother, Jivaka, a Kuchean princess. When his mother left home to become a nun, Kumārajīva also entered the monastic life as a novice at the early age of seven. After two years of his studying the āgamas and Abhidharma texts, his mother took him to Kashmir, where he learnt the Dirghāgama, the Madhyamāgama and the Kṣudraka under the master Bandhudatta for three years. On the way going to Kuchā, his mother let him study the Jñānaprasthāna Śāstra, the Vedas, and the five sciences for more than a year in Kashgar, where he met the Mahāyānist Sūryasoma and the Dharmagupta master Buddhayaśas. He received full ordination in the royal palace at age twenty and studied the Vinaya of the Sarvāstivāda School with the North Indian master Vimalākṣa after returning to Kuchā. Over the next twenty years, he focused on Mahāyāna sūtras and Śāstras, especially the three Śāstras of Nāgārjuna  (150-250) and āryadeva (3rd century) that were later to become the central texts of the Sanlun tradition.

As an accomplished monk, his fame reached China in 379 CE through a report of a Chinese Buddhist monk named Sengjun(僧均). Emperor Fujian of the Former Qin Dynasty dispatched his general Lvguang with an army in order to conquer Kuchā and bring Kumārajīva to Qin capital of Chang‘an. After hearing the Yao family of Later Qin had overthrown Fu Jian, Lv Guang declared himself as a warlord and kept Kumārajīva in Kuchā for seventeen years. Finally the armies of Emperor Yao succeeded in defeating the Lv family, and brought Kumārajīva to Chang‘an in 401 CE.

From 401 to 413, under state sponsorship, Kumārajīva had translated many Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna texts together with his translation bureau. In total, The Chu sanzang ji ji (出三藏记集,early sixth century, A collection of records concerning the Tripitaka) attributes 35 works in 294 fascicles to Kumārajīva. Among the most important texts translated by Kumārajīva are the Diamond SutraAmitabha SutraLotus Sutra, the Vimalakirti Nirdesa SutraMūlamadhyamakakārikā, Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā SūtraMahāprajñāpāramitā Upadeśa which was a commentary (attributed to Nagarjuna) on the Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra.

His translations later on became the important texts for Chinese Buddhism such as the Vinaya and dhyāna sūtras, the Satyasiddhi Śāstra, a Bahuśrutīya treatise by Harivarman, the Śūnyavādin sūtras (especially the Prajñāpāramitā class), and the Mādhyamika treatises. With new transcriptions of names, Buddhist special terms, the interpolated glosses for certain unclear words, and the clear explanation of some specific words without preserving their original Sanskrit words, Kumārajīva and his translation teams are famous for their florid and elegant style. In short, characterized by greater accuracy and widespread influence in Chinese Buddhism, Kumārajīva's activities ushered in the second period of Chinese translations (fifth and sixth centuries).

Kumarajiva also fostered many disciples, more than three thousand by some accounts.  The four main disciples are Daosheng (道生 ), Sengzhao (僧肇), Daorong(道融), and Sengrui (僧叡).

He passed away in 413 CE at the age of seventy.

[src] http://www.thichhangdat.com/files/Master_Thesis.pdf



 Strengthening the Construction of National Cultural Soft Power①

 Some Thoughts on Chinese Religions in the New Century①

 Peace and Harmony as a Choice of Humankind

 Compatibility among Different Civilizations

 World Fellowship of Buddhists 27th General Conference

  World Buddhist conference opens in Shaanxi

 History of Buddhism in Cambodia

  About Us · Desclaimer · Make This Your Homepage
Copyright@2009 longquanzs.org All Rights Reserved