"Hsuan-tsang stands out
as a pilgrim-scholar, master-translator, epic hero of Chinese narrative
literature, and as the most outstanding source for the history and
archaeology, philosophy and geography, of India, Central Asia and
China. His 'Record' has been translated and annotated in full and
several times. His 'Life' written by his direct disciples Hui-Li and
Yen-ts'ung was summarised in French by S. Julien in 1853. Its first
half was translated into English by Samuel Beal in 1888, but the second
half was just summarised. As late as 1951, the famous British Sinologist
Arthur Waley regretted: "...almost everything European writers
have said about him is taken, directly or indirectly, from an incomplete
or very imperfect French translation of his biography by Stanislas
Julien, published nearly a hundred years ago".
Mr. Li Yung-hsi was the first Chinese scholar to translate the complete
ten chapters of the 'Life' of Hsuan-tsang into English. They were
published in 1959 by The Chinese Buddhist Association, Peking. This
translation presents the personality of the master in vivid terms.
It is a fresh and lively narrative that captures the ambience of the
master and his disciple-biographers. It contains interesting correspondence
between Hsuan-tsang and Indian teachers Jnanaprabha and Prajnadeva.
It is reproduced in this volume by the gracious permission of Mrs.
Zhang Hui Ji, the wife of late Mr. Li Yung-hsi. It differs in details
from the renderings of Beal and is an important work to be compared
with the earlier translation. The limpid flow of the language gives
a flavour of the Chinese style and a first-hand account by the disciples
of Hsuan-tsang who were witnesses to his strenuous efforts. This translation
is a valuable addition to literature on Buddhism, Hsuan-tsang and
the Silk Route.
Areas Of Interest:Buddhism,
History of India, Central Asia and China, Ancient Geography, Archaeology
and allied disciplines.