The Journey of Xuanzang 11 & 12

For information on the background of this series see The Introduction.

Part Eleven:

Having returned from his travels Xuanzang’s next concern was to get the materials he had brought back translated into Chinese. For this he needed the patronage of the Tang Emperor Taizong.

The Emperor though is not a Buddhist and is more interested in having Xuanzang write his memoirs about the countries he traveled in, especially along the Silk Road, which the Emperor is trying to reconquer.

Xuanzang sets about doing both his memoirs and the translation work. His interest had always been in the voluminous Yogacarabhumi Sastra, and he oversaw the translation of that work, which by itself took the writing of around one million Chinese characters, besides many other works.

During this time he also managed to convert the Emperor, and he then persuaded him to write a Preface for his translation. Buddhism flourishes under the Emperor, and he builds the Ci’en temple for Xuanzang, who later himself builds the famous Wild Goose Pagoda to house his scriptural treasures.

Part Twelve:

In the final episode in this series Xuanzang faces opposition from courtiers around the Emperor which he manages to overcomes; but when he requests equal status for Taoism and Buddhism he is turned down.

With his health in decline he returns to his birthplace, Luoyang, where he manages to have his parents re-interred. Later he moves to the Imperial Family’s former country estate, which is now the Yuhua Temple.

There he completes his final great work, a translation of the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra (200,000 stanzas in Sanskrit), before announcing his retirement. Shortly afterwards at age 64 he died, having spent his life devoted to the understanding and propagation of the Mahayana.


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Some Stills from the Documentary







1 comment to The Journey of Xuanzang 11 & 12

  • J-R

    Finally finished the 12 episodes. What an incredible story.

    I’m not a Buddhist (I am a Christian) but I have much respect for Xuanzang for never giving up, standing up for what he believed in, and seeing his goals until the bitter end. That is one thing that transcends beliefs: the power of one’s determination and a strong will to see it through to the end.

    I feel kinda silly now for discovering this man through Journey to the West, ha ha.

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