Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India: Their History and Their Contribution to Indian Culture

By Sukumar Dutt | Go to book overview

6
Contemporaries and Near-Contemporaries of Hsüan-tsang and I-tsing

IN the seventh century, when Hsüan-tsang and I-tsing visited India, the age of the 'Ācārya śstra-masters', Fathers of the Mahāyāna, as we have said already, had long passed away. The legends about them recorded by the pilgrims were stories gleaned from fading tradition.

But in the train of the ācāryas came later many monk-scholars of different orders and of various accomplishments. They stand, however, in a separate rank; they were philosophers, logicians, grammarians, commentators and schoolmen, who were more systematizers of learning than original or creative thinkers. But about this generation of scholars, the legends are neither so bedimmed by time nor so vague in content as those of their precursors, the earlier ācāryas. Several of them were not too far back in time from the Chinese pilgrims of the seventh century: some were their senior contemporaries.

The names of monk-scholars that occur in the record of I-tsing have been carefully listed by Takakusu in the Introduction to his English translation of the work.1 Takakusu has placed under two chronological divisions the successors of the ācāryas who find mention in I-tsing's record as being: (i) those of 'late years', and (ii) those referred to as contemporaries or personal acquaintances, of whom some are mentioned by Hsüan-tsang also.


AD 550-670

Among the monk-scholars of this period, JINA was a famous logician. He must have belonged to the early part of this period-- probably his rise to fame was at its beginning. The elders among the scholars are designated 'Bodhisattvas' by the Chinese pilgrims and Jina has that designation.

He was probably a man of Andhra, and a legend about him was heard by Hsüan-tsang at a monastery near Ajanta with which Jina's name was associated and is recorded by him. In this legend it is said that he received direction from the heavenly Maitreya to specialize in YogĀcāra philosophy. 'Then having given himself to profound study, he developed the teaching of the Hetuvāda Śāstra

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1
Takakusu A Record of Buddhist Religion, Intro., p. lviii.

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