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Monumenta Serica

Journal of Oriental Studies

ISSN: 0254-9948 (Print) 2057-1690 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ymon20

Conceiving the Indian Buddhist Patriarchs in China

Michael Hoeckelmann

To cite this article: Michael Hoeckelmann (2016) Conceiving the Indian Buddhist Patriarchs in
China, Monumenta Serica, 64:2, 513-516, DOI: 10.1080/02549948.2016.1259808

To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/02549948.2016.1259808

Published online: 21 Dec 2016.

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BOOK REVIEWS 513

heißen sollte, sollte jedoch in der alttürkischen Übersetzung das Wort „ävirtimiz“
stehen (vgl. Z. 2196).
Von diesen Kleinigkeiten abgesehen stellt die Arbeit sowohl inhaltlich als auch
methodisch eines der besten Ergebnisse im Projekt der alttürkischen Xuanzang-
Biographie dar. Der Verfasser hat für die alttürkischen Studien eine sehr ausführliche
und wertvolle Forschungsarbeit geleistet und hat gezeigt, dass man noch weitere
interessante Entdeckungen von ihm erwarten kann. Sein Anliegen war es, durch
diese hervorragende Studie das IX. Kapitel einem größeren Publikum bekannt und
für weitere alttürkische Forschungen leicht zugänglich zu machen. Dies ist ihm
voll und ganz gelungen. Die Arbeit von Aydemir allerdings stellt nicht nur für den
Turkologen, sondern auch für den Buddhologen einen großen Gewinn dar. Dem Ver-
fasser sei Dank für diese vorzügliche Arbeit.

AYSIMA MIRSULTAN
Zentralasien Referat, Ostasienabteilung,
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz

STUART H. YOUNG, Conceiving the Indian Buddhist Patriarchs in China. Studies in


East Asian Buddism, 24. Honolulu: Kuroda Institute, University of Hawai‘i Press,
2015. x, 342 pp. Appendices, Bibliography, Index. US$ 60.00 (HB). ISBN 978-0-
8248-4120-1

How was early Indian Buddhism, from the Buddha’s entry into parinirvāṇ a to the
arrival of Buddhism in China in the second century AD, perceived in East Asia?
Until today, scholars often treat South and East Asian Buddhism as two distinct enti-
ties. Historians of East Asian Buddhism often map out the history of that religion in
other parts of the world as a mere precursor for the mature Mahāyāna traditions of
China and Japan. Conversely, historians of South Asian Buddhism often exploit the
hagiographical accounts of Indian patriarchs written in Tibetan or Chinese as
directly reflecting on the lives of those figures in South Asia. Stuart H. Young con-
ceives the history of early Buddhism in India in a different light, by placing the hagio-
graphical accounts of the three Indian Buddhist patriarchs Aśvaghoṣa (Chin.
Maming 馬鳴), Nāgārjuna (Longshu 龍樹), and Ā ryadeva (Tipo 提婆) in their medi-
eval Chinese context. He shows how the early translators and commentators of the
major Mahāyāna “treatises” (śāstra/lun 論) and “bio-/hagiographies” (zhuan 傳) of
those patriarchs used elements familiar to their Chinese audiences to accommodate
them to their new cultural surroundings. Exegetes such as Sengrui 僧叡 (ca. 334–
416), Sengzhao 僧肇 (ca. 374–414), Huiyuan 慧遠 (ca. 334–416), and others,
associated with the famous Kuchaen monk of Indian descent Kumārajı̄va 鳩摩羅
什 (344–413), were also highly versatile in the medieval “Learning of the Profound”
(xuanxue玄學) and the art of “Pure Conversation” (qingtan 清談). However, this
story is not just one of passive assimilation. The Chinese translators took accounts
from earlier Indian literature and created something new in the process, which
Young describes as “imageries” of “Indianness.” They consciously created imageries
of the Indian Other in presenting the lives and works of those patriarchs to their
medieval Chinese readers.
514 BOOK REVIEWS

Building on the extensive groundwork of previous giants of the field – Louis de La


Vallé Poussin, D.T. Suzuki, and others – Young wants to break out of the prevailing
tradition of seeing texts regarding those patriarchs only as a reflection of early
Indian Buddhism. The book is divided into six chapters, plus an “Introduction”
(pp. 1–24) and “Conclusion” (pp. 243–250). The author explicitly does not
concern himself with the three patriarchs’ influence on the development of Buddhist
philosophy in China (p. 5). Instead, he focuses on the hagiographic images of them
in textual and visual sources, both originally in Chinese and translated from Indic
languages.
Aśvaghoṣa, Nāgārjuna, and Ā ryadeva are three of the most important figures in
Indian Buddhism of the first few centuries of the Common Era. Believed to have
lived at the end of the “Semblance Dharma” (xiangfa 像法) or during the “Final
Dharma” (mofa 末法) period, five hundred to one thousand years after the historical
Buddha entered parinirvāṇ a, they were held out as paragon figures who single-
handedly resurrected the dharma from oblivion. Thus, they became models for
Chinese dharma teachers who lived through that era of fragmentation and
warfare known as the Six Dynasties (Liuchao 六朝, 220–589). Only the unification
under the Sui (581/589–618) and Tang (618–907) dynasties made China itself the
heartland of Buddhism. All three patriarchs were introduced to China in the early
fifth century through Kumārajı̄va and paragon figures in the development of
Mahāyāna doctrine, in particular the Madhyamaka (Zhongguan pai 中觀派 or
Sanlun zong 三論宗) school. The idea that all three lived at the end of the Semblance
Dharma period is central to an understanding of their role in the transmission of
Buddhism to China. Without their heroic feats, there would have been no dharma
to transmit. By introducing the tripartite division of time since the Buddha’s pari-
nirvāṇ a into five-hundred-year periods of “True Dharma” (zhengfa 正法), Sem-
blance Dharma, and Final Dharma, their translators could cast themselves in the
roles of teachers who embarked on the world-historical mission of resurrecting
the dharma.
Nāgārjuna, the most influential of the three, is the alleged author of two of the three
treatises (sanlun 三論) that form the basis of the eponymous school of Buddhism in
China: the Middle Treatise (Madhyamakaśāstra, Zhong lun 中論) and the Twelve
Gates Treatise (Dvādaśanikāyaśāstra, Shi’ermen lun 十二門論). He is also attributed
the Great Perfection of Wisdom Treatise (Mahāprajñāpāramitāsá ̄stra, Da zhidu lun
大智度論). Ā ryadeva is mostly known for his authorship of the third foundational
treatise of Chinese Madhyamaka, the Hundred Treatise (Sataś ́ āstra, Bai lun 百論).
Kumārajı̄va translated all of those, and also Aśvaghoṣa’s poetry, which adorned the
Scripture on Seated Dhyāna Samādhi (Zuochan sanmei jing 坐禪三昧經) and who,
during medieval times, was also the putative author of the Mahāyāna Awakening
of Faith (Dasheng qixin lun 大乘起信論). As a proponent of meditation (dhyāna),
Aśvaghoṣa also became a crucial link between Indian Buddhism and various
schools of Chan/Zen 禪 in East Asia. The translations are all accompanied by the
Chinese text, and while it is applaudable to retain the line breaks of the Chinese
sources, it sometimes overstretches the space used for printing the Chinese.
The first chapter, “Buddhist Sainthood in Dharmic History” (pp. 25–66), explores
the earliest chronologies of Indian Buddhism after the Buddha entered parinirvāṇ a.
It centers on accounts of Aśvaghoṣa, Nāgārjuna, Ā ryadeva, and other figures, who
did not belong to the direct disciples of the historical Buddha, such as the famous
BOOK REVIEWS 515

convert King Aśoka (Ayu wang 阿育王). The “Chang’an 長安 group” around Kumā-
rajı̄va not only had to grapple with the question when the Semblance Dharma period
had ended, but also with their own physical remoteness from the “Dharmic Middle
Kingdom” (zhongguo 中國, madhayadeśa), i.e., India. For that, they could take
recourse to China’s own line of sages and the cyclical model of time prevalent
since the third century BC, which also counted dynasties in five-hundred-year
cycles, and Chinese models of sainthood in the Confucian, Daoist, and Divine Trans-
cendents (shenxian 神仙) traditions. For that purpose, they used media such as the
biography of Aśvaghoṣa, the oldest version of which is preserved in the Nanatsu
Temple 七寺 in Nagoya 名古屋 (Japan), and their own commentaries to their trans-
lations of Buddhist scriptures and treatises, such as Sengzhao’s Vimalakı̄rti Com-
mentary (Zhu weimojie jing 注維摩詰經).
Chapter Two, “An Indian Lineage Severed” (pp. 67–110), focuses on the lineage of
Indian patriarchs as presented in the Tradition of the Causes and Conditions of the
Dharma-Treasury Transmission (Fu fazang yinyuan zhuan 付法藏因緣傳) and
Sengyou’s Record of the Masters and Disciples of the Sarvāstivādin Sect (Sapoduo
bu shizi ji 薩婆多部師資記 or Sapoduo bu xiangcheng zhuan 薩婆多部相承傳).
The former text depicted the line of patriarchs as broken off even before Buddhism
reached China. By presenting the patriarchs as retrievers of the dharma but their
lineage as broken off, Sengyou and the others could cast themselves into roles
similar to those of Aśvaghoṣa, Nāgārjuna, and Ā ryadeva. Just as those Indian
monks, they rescued the dharma from oblivion in the Final Dharma period at the
court of the Later Qin 後秦 (ca. 384–417) in Chang’an.
Chapter Three, “Salvation in Writing and the Annex of Indian Buddhism”
(pp. 111–151), examines the changing images of Aśvaghoṣa, Nāgārjuna, and
Ā ryadeva in the writings of Guanding 灌頂 (561–632), Jizang 吉藏 (549–623),
and Xuanzang 玄奘 (602–664), after the Sui and Tang had reunified China in the
late sixth century. Other than under the preceding Northern Dynasties period, the
Sui and Tang emperors, some of which lavishly patronized Buddhism, were no
longer reigning over an age of declining dharma, but one of flourishing of the reli-
gion, and sometimes were even cast into the roles of living bodhisattvas.
Chapter Four, “Nāgārjuna Divine and the Alchemy of Hagiography” (pp. 152–
185), shows how Chinese and Japanese Pure Land (Jingtu/Jō do 淨土) masters
such as Tanluan 曇鸞 (ca. 476–572) turned Nāgārjuna both into an object of devo-
tion as well as a subject of magical rituals and other apotropaic or therapeutic prac-
tices. Just as the early Daoist figure Ge Hong 葛洪 (283–343), Nāgārjuna had
written on subjects such as alchemy and thaumaturgy, for instance in the Treatise
on the Five Sciences (Wuming lun 五明論).
Chapter Five, “An Indian Silkworm God in China” (pp. 186–216), contains
material that the author published in his article “For a Compassionate Killing.
Chinese Buddhism, Sericulture, and the Silkworm God Aśvaghoṣa” in Journal of
Chinese Religions 41 (2013) 1, pp. 25–58. The chapter focuses on Aśvaghoṣa’s
transformation into a patron god or bodhisattva of silk production towards the
end of the Tang.
Chapter Six, “Buddhist Saints to Bridge the Sino-Indian Divide” (pp. 217–242),
focuses on the repertoires of “Indianness” mentioned above, and the special position
Aśvaghoṣa, Nāgārjuna, and Ā ryadeva enjoyed as representatives of an original,
Indian Buddhism in comparison with other Indian saints and gods. The appendices
516 BOOK REVIEWS

present analyses and translations of the Nagoya “Nanatsu-dera Tradition of


Aśvaghoṣa Bodhisattva” (App. 1, pp. 251–263), “The Canonical Tradition of
[Ā rya]Deva Bodhisattva” (App. 2, pp. 265–282), and “The Ritual Manuals of
Aśvaghoṣa Bodhisattva” (App. 3, pp. 283–290).
Possible points of critique at this excellently written treatise is that it is sometimes
so densely written – both regarding argumentative style as well as layout and font –
that it can hurt the eye. The latter can, of course, not be held against the author, but it
would have been fortunate for an uninitiated reader, who does not share Young’s
immense learning in Indian and medieval Chinese Buddhism, to have a concise intro-
duction into the lives and works of Aśvaghoṣa, Nāgārjuna, and Ā ryadeva. Their
“actual” biographies (even though, after reading this book, one may be convinced
that such a thing does not exist) should have been introduced at the beginning.
Young, however, decides to delay the discussion of their lives until he reaches the
appendix. Each chapter also seems to have been conceived (no pun intended) as a
separate article, which causes some repetitions, not only of aspects of the argument
but also of Chinese characters after their first occurrence. Apostrophes are notor-
iously missing from the transcriptions of Chinese names (e.g., Daoan instead of
Dao’an 道安).
As the last point: Acknowledgments are a hugely difficult and underrated genre in
academic publishing, and those by Young belong to the best this author has read in a
long while. He does not just list names and thank them generically for their support,
but relates a personal anecdote for each of them, which is sometimes cryptic, but
humorous even to those who are not familiar with the circumstances.
To summarize: Stuart H. Young’s Conceiving the Indian Buddhist Patriarchs in
China adds a new and hitherto unexplored chapter to the fascinating stories and his-
tories of early Buddhism in China. It opens up new trajectories for the study of a
wide range of topics regarding medieval China, not only of Buddhism and religion
but also of matters of ethnicity and cultural identity, the Self and the Other. Young
successfully breaks free from the one-hundred-year-old dispute about “Sinification
of Buddhism” (Kenneth K.S. Ch’en, Peter N. Gregory) versus “Indianization of
China” (Hu Shih). He shows the imagery and appropriation of India in early
medieval China in religion, philosophy, art, and literature as a conscious and multi-
faceted process. That process created an entirely new and heightened sense of
cultural self-awareness on the side of the Chinese out of the images that were
transmitted to China from India over the course of a millennium.

MICHAEL HOECKELMANN
Hong Kong Baptist University

JONG PHIL PARK, Art by the Book. Painting Manuals and the Leisure Life in Late
Ming China. Seattle – London: University of Washington Press, 2012. xii, 309 pp.
Bibliography, Index, Glossary, Appendices, 117 illustrations (16 in colour). US$
50.00 (HB). ISBN 978-0-295-99176-4

In recent years, the inquiry into printmaking and book culture in early modern
China has been the object of increased scholarly interest of which the exhibition
The Printmaker’s Ingenuity and Craft. Ming and Qing Prints in the National

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