The Sino-Indian cultural relation began through Buddhism. It was a common ground for intellectual and spiritual interest and intercourse between India and China.
The present work is a translation of a seventh-century text Kao-Seng-Chuan (Biographies of Eminent Monks) by the renowned Chinese monk-scholar I-ching (A.D. 614-713). It consists of biographies of fifty-six monks. Among the chinese pilgrim-monk-scholars who visited India, Fa-hsien, Hsuan-chuang and I-ching are best known for having played the greatest role in the history of Sino-Indian cultural relation. However, the fifty-six monks whose adventurous travels and experiences are recorded in this book are no less important as active promoters of the most cordial relations between the two great countries.
Most of these fifty-six monks from China visited India on pilgrimage and for collection of texts to enrich Buddhist literature in their own homeland. In this book I-ching has also given a vivid, though not full-length, description of the premier University of Nalanda attracted the Chinese monks in a large number for higher studies.
Written with insight, realism and clarity, I-ching’s book is thought provoking. All these features are carefully preserved in this translation which will no doubt evoke interest among scholars as well as general readers.
About the Author
Latika Lahiri, the translator of I-ching’s work (Kao-Seng-Chuan), was born in 1923 in undivided Bengal. She obtained her M.A. Degree in Ancient Indian History and Culture from the University of Calcutta. She had the opportunity to study under Dr. P.C. Bagchi, one of the great exponents of Sino-Indian cultural relations.
Miss Lahiri was in China in 1956-59 on Government of India’s scholarship to study Chinese language (modern and classical) and history of Buddhism in Beijing University. There she started working on the present work under the able guidance of Dr. J. Xien Lin, the well-known Indologist and the Director of the Beijing University. She also studied the Lungmen Caves under Professor Feng, retired Professor of Indian Philosophy, Tokyo University.
Miss Lahiri has published a number of papers and articles on Lungmen Caves in various well-known academic journals. She has translated and published the Grottoes of Mai-chi Mountain (the Life of Dr. Dwarakanath Kotnis) written by Mr. Gao Liang.