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Big Wild Goose Pagoda

The Big Wild Goose Pagoda was built in 652A.D. and stands in what was formerly the Temple of Great Marternal Grace. Legend has it that the temple was built by Emperor Tang Gaozong in honor of his deceased mother Empress Wende. It was built to house and protect the Buddhist scriptures brought back from Iindia by the travelling monk Xuan Zang. This impressive, fortress-like wood and brick building rises to 64m and 7-story tall.

XuanZang and Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Xuanzang’ surname was Chen. He is born in AD602. At the age of 13, he became a monk in Lonyang(important state city in Tang dynasty). He was an erudite, firm and persistent monk, fearless of dangers. He is also a translator and friendly envoy for Sino-foreign cultural exchange. In his twenties, he had already achieved a high level in Buddhism research. At that time, there were all varied of schools of Buddhism in Tang Empire. The lack of Buddhist classics and the improper translation of the Buddhist Scripture created lots of difficulties in the study of Buddhism. In this connection, he made up his mind to go to India, the cradle of Buddhism, to study and investigate them.

At that time, the road to the Western Regions was not open and the journey was full of obstacles. The authorities prohibited people going westward in fear of their safety. He left the Celestial Empire at the year of 627AD. He travelled across the deserts and mountain ranges of central Asia .From the demon-haunted desert his route traversed the frozen waste of the Pamir’s and the Ice Mountain which was ‘precipitous and seemed as high as the sky. Since the creation of the world, it has been covered with snow which has accumulated and turned into ice that never melted whether in winter or summer. Cold mist mingle with cloud, and when one looked up one could see only white snow without end’ after two years of difficult and dangerous journey, Xuanzang arrived at Nalanda Temple in India.

At that time, Nalanda Temple was India’s highest institute of learing and Buddhist Holy land. It had 10,000 monks and Buddhist scholars. They studied Mahayan (one sect of Buddhism) classics, medicine, logic, important documents and techniques. There were 10 senior monks, who were able to explain 50 titles of Scripture texts. The leader of Temple was Master Jiexian, respected as Great Master.

Xuanzang was very popular in this Temple and enjoying the highest respect. He even entitled to ride an elephant as means of transportation, a special honors reserved for high rank monk. He formally had been accepted Jiexian as his official student, studied there for 5 years, and finally was promoted as deputy master monk. In AD 643,Xuanzang was invited to preach Buddhist Scripture in the city of Kanyabujba. Present at the event were kings from 18 countries and more than 3000 monks. Xuanang achieved a high degree of honors and was acknowledged as a first-class scholar in India.

Xuanzang studied various schools of Buddhism and established deep friendship with Indian monks. The king of India persuaded Xuanzang to stay in India and promise to build 100 temples for him. However, he yearned for his motherland and hoped to return home as soon as possible. The king cannot but reluctantly bid farewell to the great scholar from the east.

In the spring of AD645, at the age of 44,Xuanzang returned to Chang’an(XI’AN).He bought with him the Buddhism classics, collected in India and sent them to Ci’en( the temple of Great Marternal Grace) temple .In AD 652,Xuanzang personally took part in the transportation of bricks and stone to build the Big Wild Goose Pagoda to preserve the relics and text he had brought from India. Although Big Wild Goose Pagoda had undergone several major renovations, the main structure remained the same and it has become a valuable monument and landmark of Xi’an. In AD 664, Xuanzang died in Yuhua(Jade) Temple of Chang’an at the age of 63.

Xuanzang was well versed both in Chinese and Sanakit.His translation was accurate and fluent. The translation workshop under his leadership educated and trained many translation élites, elevating Chinese translation level to a new high. He also introduced Indian logic to China, promoting the development of logic in China.

The spirit of Xuanzang is still highly respected all over the world today. Indian people regard him as sage. Indian museum displays his images of searching for Scripture. His DA TANG XI YU JI( Tang Dynasty Travels in the Western Regions, his biography) recorded what he had seen and heard in more than 130 state-cities.  The book wrote about their geographies, histories, climates, products, natural environment and social custom. It is not only an exquisite literary work, but also a famous historic and geographic work. It has been translated into English, French, Japanese and many other foreign languages. Many countries had institutes and societies devoted solely to the studies on Xuanzang. For example, 1961 Japanese academic community organized the Society of Xuanzang.



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