Vinaya, Tang Buddhism, history of Buddhist monasticism
The Life of Daoxuan:
According to Others and in His Own Words
The present research focuses on the life of Daoxuan. More importantly, it sets to see why this monk is so linked to and respected in the field of vinaya. Is it because a great number of his works are devoted to that subject, or simply that he lives up to the vinaya stipulation? Furthermore, it is one of the key tasks of this study to explore why Daoxuan is the first Chinese monk ever to define hufa as an ideal that monks should aspire for and installed it as one the ten categories of the eminent monks in his Xu gaoseng zhuan. Daoxuan, at a certain point, even goes on to declare the hufa as the most prominent among the ten ideals when the survival of the Buddha-dharma is concerned. What is his understanding of hufa, and since it is so greatly viewed, what does Daoxuan to hufa?
Similarly, the present research is intrigued by the fact that Daoxuan is the first monk to cite evidence from Sifen lü nearly two centuries after its introduction into China and claims this text is Mahāyāna. What the reason(s) behind his move? Why is it him not anyone else? What equally makes up the core of this study is to understand, as part of Daoxuan’s life, why he is the first monk to introduce the recitation of Yijiao jing, the believed last instructions of the Buddha, to be conducted alongside the full ordination ceremony. To answer all the questions, this research unfolds its sections to explore the life of Daoxuan that recorded in the works of others and related in his own words.
Identifying the greatest number ever of the books pertaining to the life of Daoxuan, classifying the sources, enabling contrast and comparison, pointing out the source origins/first times, establishing his extant works, giving conclusions, and offering conjectures are the ways that the present thesis fulfils its overriding aim: to enhance the understanding of the life of Daoxuan. Through this study, we see Daoxuan emerge from the sources as a diligent student, a tireless traveller, a Mahāyāna-aspired vinaya master, a prolific writer, and an indefatigable hufa monk. Each of these Daoxuans defines on its own right a separate aspect of his life; however, only when they are viewed through the hufa perspective, the various otherwise independent aspects of his life becomes coherent, so does our understanding of Daoxuan.
Master of Arts SOAS London UK, 2012
Master of Arts Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies University of Kelaniya Sri Lanka, 2011
Bachelor of Arts, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, 2009