Exhibition documents life of lesser-known Buddhist monk

Exhibition documents life of lesser-known Buddhist monk
June 24 22:14 2016 Print This Article

An ongoing photo exhibition here reflects upon the life and legacy of a lesser known character from Indian history – Buddhist monk Kumarajiva.

The 10-day-long exhibition titled, “The Life and Legacy of Kumarajiva,” underway at India International Centre here, throws light on the achievements of the scholar through a wide range of manuscripts and photographs.
Shashibala who has curated the exhibition says that not many people are aware of the country’s rich heritage and the contribution of icons like Kumarajiva often go undocumented.

“India has given so much to the world outside. We have sent the best of our sons as teachers and monks across world to disseminate the philosophy and culture, transcendental and moral values, literature etc. However, Indians are not much aware of their own heritage,” she says.

Kumarajiva, who was born to a Kashmiri father and the then Princess of Kucha (a kingdom on the Silk Route), was a master of both Sanskrit and Chinese who rendered Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit to Chinese, laying a strong foundation of Buddhism.

“He was a teacher who was so great that a Chinese emperor had sent an army to capture him. He was taken as a war booty and later on was appointed as Rajya Guru in China,” says Shashibala, who works as a researcher at the International Academy Of Indian Culture.

The exhibition chronicles the monk’s life journey through the medium of photographs of sites he had visited, cave murals, holy objects and manuscripts of the sutras that he had translated.

“The exhibition is like a home coming of the great philosopher where one can see the austere landscape of the places associated with him, brilliant murals from the caves and other sacred objects, manuscripts of sutras and the royal personages who were pious and dedicated,” says the curator.
Shashibala also says that Kumarajiva’s legacy spans upto

the shores of Japan, where even today thousands of devotees at temples and monasteries chant sutras translated by him.

Talking about why figures like Kumarajiva remain unnoticed in the pages of history, she says, “There are not many who are researching on such great people because they have never been a part of out curriculum at schools or colleges.

“We are not aware of these figures. There should be an awareness about this glorious past. Indian historians have not used documents that are available outside India like in China, Japan, Mongolia, Tibet, or the rest of South East Asia where there is so much inscriptional evidence.”

Kumarajiva is also credited with the creation of new terminology for Chinese because parallels of Sanskrit terms were not available, besides “trans-creating” the texts because matching the Buddhist concepts with those of other philosophers like Tao and Confucius philosophy were not possible.

“Through translations by Kumarajiva monk-scholars, philosophers, artists and devotees could internalize the Buddhist philosophy deeply,” Shashibala says.

The exhibition is set to conclude on June 26

SOURCE : http://www.business-standard.com


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