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The Cao Tang temple


     The Caotang temple is located at the north foot of Guifeng Mountain in the Caotangying village of the Huxian County, 50 more kilometers southwest of the city of Xian.
      The Caotang temple became a scared monastery where Buddhist Abbe Kumarajiva translated Buddhist scriptures. Kumarajiva, born in India, who have inborn talents and was called a prodigy when he was young. At the age seven, he left home travel with his mother and became a monk. He was already versed in the three Buddhist classics: mainly Sutrapitaka( Jing Zang), Vinayapitaka ( Lu Zang),and Abhidha Grmapitaka( Lun Zang). Then he gained the name, Master Tripitaka( Master of Three Buddhist Classics). After miscellaneous up and downs, Kumarajiva was invited to Chang’an in 401 A.D by Yao Xing, king of the later Qin, and was treated as the national master.
      He stayed with 3000 other monks in the imperial garden, where 97 sets of Buddhist scriptures were translated from Sanskrit into Chinese, the greatest effort ever undertaken till that day in Chinese history. Because of his versatility in both Sanskrit and Chinese, Kumarajiv’s translation was appreciated by every one. He has been referred to as the three greatest translators of Buddhist scriptures in China. The translations office of that day was a simple thatch-roofed house; hence the name the Caotang Temple.
      At this temple, Kumarajiva translated Madhyawikasastra, Satasastra and Twelve Sastra, all of which were very popular Buddhist classics Sect. He also translated Satyasiddhi Satra which was also very popular. He was thus regarded as the founder of the Cheng Shi Sect. Kumarajiva’s translation of Buddhist scriptures covered eight out of ten main Buddhist sects in China, making great contributions to the cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries. The Three Classics were Sect was introduced into Japan in the Tang Dynasty, gaining still more fame for Kumarajiva among Buddhist circles there.
      Kumarajia died in 413 A.D and was buried in this temple. A stone pagoda of unique brilliance was set up at the western side of the temple during the Tang dynasty. The inscriptions on the monument read “In the memory of the Yao Qin Master Kumarajiva”. According to historical records, the stones for the pagoda were contributed by the Western Regions then. The eight-sided, twelve-storied pagoda is 2.34 meters high and is engraved with jade of eight different colors; hence the name “ Pagoda of Eight Treasure Stones”. It is a pagoda of such exquisite workmanship that the whole structure is truly a rarity.

      A well inside the temple possess quite a unique character it emits gusts of mist now and then. The “Annals of Huxain County” reads “there is a piece of stone on one side, halfway down the well. The legend goes that whenever there is a snake lying on the stone, the mist would come out, clouding over the southwestern part of Chang’an” The mist traveling as far as the ancient imperial capital of Changan under favorable winds, represented one of the Eight Famous scenic Attractions of the central Shannxi plain- The Mist of the Caotang Temple. The real cause of the mist, however, might be geothermal vapor, which, once out of the well, gets mixed with the smoke of the incense over the temple. An elegant and antique-looking pavilion has been built over the well. It has the inscriptions by the famous calligrapher and Buddhist Zhao Pu Chu “ The misty well”.
     The temple is richly planted with lush cry presses and bamboo, and fragrant flowers. The quite environment and fresh air make it an ideal place for the tourists.

 
 

 

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