Friday, July 26, 2013

Hui Chao: Bactrian Pilgrimage (726 AD)


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"I arrived in Tokharistan (Tuhuoluo-guo). The home city of the king is called Balkh. At this time the troops of the Arabs are there and they occupy it. Its King, Wives and Court was forced to flee one month's journey to the east and lives in Badakhshan. Now Balkh belongs to the Arabs' domain."....Huichao.... 726 AD

Hyecho (704–787 CE), Sanskrit: Prajñāvikram; Hui Chao in Chinese Pinyin, was a Korean Buddhist monk...wrote a travelogue in Chinese named Wang ocheonchukguk jeon (往五天竺國傳) which means, "Memoir of the pilgrimage to the five kingdoms of India.".....It took Hyecho approximately four years to complete his journey. The travelogue contains much information on local diet, languages, climate, cultures, and political situations."

During his journey through the lands south of the Hindu Kush in around 726 CE, the Korean pilgrim Huichao stayed for some time at the court of the Kabul Shah, who may well have been "Khorasan Tegin Shah". Huichao recorded that Kabul and Zabul were then ruled by Turkic kings, who were Buddhists, and that the King of Kabul was supposed to have been the uncle of the ruler of Zabul.".....

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"Phrom Ge-sar was the successor of Sahi Tegin (700-738 CE) "King of Khurasan'.......the Kushan territories of Gandhāra and Udayana..... in 739, Tegin Shah abdicated the throne of Gandhara in favour of his son, Fu-lin-chi-p'o (also known as Fromo Kesaro, the Bactrian form of his name).........this victory occurred during the Reign of Fromo Kesaro (739-746 AD) and may have contributed to his transformation in later historical tradition into the Tibetan national hero Phrom Ge-sar, whose figure still survives today in the folklore of the territory of ancient Gandhara...The ancient coins read in Bactrian script: "The Glory Increased! The Majestic Sovereign!".. The territory was defined by natural boundaries: the Hindu Kush mountain range ... Beyond the foothills north of Gandhara was the ancient region of Udayana...".

"the Korean pilgrim Huichao...he continued north, where he visited Lumbini (present-day Nepal), Kashmir, the Arabs. Hyecho left India following the Silk Road towards the west, via Agni or Karashahr, to China where the account ends in 729 CE......referred to three kingdoms lying to the northeast of Kashmir which were under the suzerainty of the Tibetans…. The country is narrow and small, and the mountains and valleys very rugged. There are monasteries and monks, and the people faithfully venerate the Three Jewels. As to the kingdom of Tibet to the East, there are no monasteries at all and the Buddha's teaching is unknown... in the early eighth century the region of modern Ladakh was under Tibetan suzerainty, but that the people were of non-Tibetan stock."......

"The travelogue was lost for many years until a fragment of it was rediscovered by Paul Pelliot in the Dunhuang grotto in China in 1908..."

"Wang ocheonchukguk jeon.....; "An account of travel to the five Indian kingdoms"...... is a travelogue by Buddhist monk Hyecho, who traveled from Korea to India, in the years 723 - 727/728 CE.......Written in Classical Chinese, the lingua franca of East Asia at the time, the work was long thought to be lost. However, a manuscript turned up among the Dunhuang manuscripts during the early 20th century. It was bought by French explorer and archaeologist Paul Pelliot in 1908, and is now owned by the National Library of France......The manuscript scroll contains 5,893 classical Chinese characters in 227 lines. It originally consisted of three volumes, however volume one and later section of volume three are lost. It is 28.5 centimeters in width and 358.6 centimeters in length, is the first known overseas travelogue written by a Korean and contains information about the political, cultural and economic customs of India and central Asia at that time. The five Indian kingdoms in the work's title refer to West, East, North, South and Central India, but it also contains information about the Byzantine Empire (Greater Fu-lin), the Arabs, Persia and several Central Asian states."......

"His record is regarded as one of the most valuable works of travel literature in the world, along with Great Tang Records on the Western Regions written by the seventh century Chinese dharma master Xuanzang, The Travels of Marco Polo of the 13th century, and The Journey by the 14th-century Muslim traveler Ibn Batutta.".....

"Bamiyan Valley “A month later, Hyeocho arrives in Gandhara, where Buddhist art reached brilliant heights. He goes north from there, passing through Oddiyana, and then west, to Afghanistan. He visits Bamyan and then heads to Tokhara.” - Northeast Asian History Foundation

Mount Wutai “After completing his journey across India, Central Asia and China, Hyecho returned to Changan early in the eleventh month of 727. Thereafter, he devoted himself to scriptural study and translation along with his teacher. In the fifth month of 780 he entered nirvana at Qinyuan Puti Temple on Mount Wutai in China.” - Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea (CHA) Korean Heritage Summer Webzine 2011 (Vol.4.No.2)

Samarkand ..... It is also mentioned that Arab rulers turned ancient temples into mosques. “Only in Samarkand is there one monastery and monk, who does not know how to revere the “Three Jewels”. In these countries of the Hu people, both the beard and hair are cut. People like to wear white caps made of cotton.” – From the Diary of Hyecho

Lumbini “The Four Great Stupas of Central India – The third one is situated in Kapilavastu, the city where the Buddha was born. The Asoka tree is still there but the city is already ruined. There is a stupa but no monks or inhabitants. The city is situated at the northernmost part of the country. The forests are mostly deserted and there are many bandits on the road. It is very difficult for those on pilgrimage to go safely.” - From the diary of Hyecho

Yang, Han-sung et al. (1984). The Hye Cho's Diary: Memoir of the Pilgrimage to the Five Regions of India (1984). Translation, text and editing by Yang, Han-sung et al. Religions of Asia series (Berkeley, Calif.); no. 2. UNESCO Collection of Representative Works. Berkeley, Calif.: Asian Humanities Press; Seoul: Po Chin Chai. ISBN 0-89581-024-7.


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….July 2013


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