Xuan Zang in Kathmandu

Petra Cave Monastery lay on the main Silk Road Highway where Chinese caravans on their way to or returning from the main markets of the day would spend their time on and off. The message the monk missionaries were giving out at the Petra Monastery greatly appealed to them and they in turn encouraged some of the monks to make the long journey back to mainland China accompanying them.

Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang) (602 – 664) was born at the right time and at the right place. He was already an ordained monk, youthful and full of enthusiasm and had studied Taoist literature that was then available in China. He was very much attracted by what the visiting Kirati Mongolian monks had to offer and decided to follow them to the place where the Great Teacher was born and where he had turned the Wheel of Life.

During the years he spent in his quest, he had arrived in Kathmandu in 637 A.D. but was greatly disappointed at what he saw, that Deo (Hindu gods) being worshiped in Buddhist temples. (Please note, he uses Deo Worshiping instead of Hinduism and Western World for India because the words Hinduism and India were not yet invented.) After fifteen years travelling and learning through many parts of India and Nepal, Xuan Zang returned to China in 645 A.D. with 657 manuscript copies of Buddhist theology.

Xuan Zang had observed there was a lake in Kathmandu whose surface would catch fire if a burning stick was thrown into it. Fourteen centuries later, modern Chinese geologists have identified it to be source of natural gas, methane and are scientifically harvesting the gas for domestic consumption.

Yet another Chinese monk named Wang Hsuan Tse had been to Kathmandu at least three times between 643 and 664 A.D. and he too had collected manuscript copies of Mahayana Buddhism from Nepal.

It is relevant to note that those manuscripts are safely deposited in Chinese Archives and the ones from Nepal are bi-lingually written in Sanskrit and Newari. These manuscripts provide us with a vital clue that they were authored by Nepalese scholars and that they were written before the arrival of the Brahmins in Nepal because Brahmins do not read Newari.

Another Chinese monk Fa Hsien, in 441 A.D, on his return voyage from Sri Lanka, his ship was driven off course by cyclone and he force landed in an obscure island and he has recorded in his journal that the native population to be Deo Worshippers.

Photo: Courtesy Wikipedia

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