Why Modi visited Daxingshan Temple and Ci’en Temple

(chinaculture.org)
Updated: 2015-05-14 18:38:40

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) pays a visit to Daxingshan Temple in Ti'an, Shaanxi province on Thursday. [Photo by Li Xiaokun/China Daily]

On his first day in China, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a visit to Daxingshan Temple and Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Ci'en Temple in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, on Thursday.

During the Sui and Tang Dynasties (581-907), Buddhism prevailed widely in Chang'an (today's Xi'an). Xuan Zang, a seventh-century Chinese monk and traveler, stayed in India for 16 years to seek Buddhist scriptures, translated and spread Buddhist thought.

Meanwhile, many monks from China and India translated Buddhist sutras and promulgated Buddhist doctrines. At that time, the Daxingshan Temple and Ci'en Temple became two of three sutras translation sites, together with Jianfu Temple.

Built in 652 during the Tang Dynasty, Ci'en temple functioned to collect Buddhist materials that were brought from India by the hierarch Xuanzang. Xuanzang, as the temple's first abbot, supervised the construction of Big Wild Goose Pagoda. With the support of royalty, he asked 50 hierarchs to the temple to translate Sanskrit sutras into Chinese, a total of 1,335 volumes, which heralded a new era in the history of translation.

Emperor Akihito of Japan and President Ram Baran Yadav of Nepal visited the temple and spoke with the monks when they were in Xi'an.

Ci'en Temple is now a hotspot for tourists throughout the world.[Photo from the Internet]

Situated in the business quarter of southern Xi'an, Daxingshan Temple is a pure and peaceful Buddhist space in the prosperous metropolis. Originally built in 265-289 in the Jin Dynasty (265-420), this temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in China and a birthplace of Chinese Tantric Buddhism (Vajrayana).

Tantric Buddhism was introduced to China by three Indian monks in Kaiyuan reign of the Tang Dynasty (713-741). All of them once expounded the Buddhism text and guided the Buddhist practice in Daxingshan Temple. Moreover, many Indian monks and students translated Buddhist sutras and promulgated Buddhist doctrines in this temple in the Tang Dynasty.

According to Chinese experts, Modi visited the two temples because their cultural background. The both temple showed the history of cultural exchanges between China and India.

Jiang Jingkui, the head of South Asia Research Center in Beijing University, told the Beijing News in a recent interview that Xi'an is the merger point of the culture from China and India.

“Modi plans to visit the Terracotta as well as the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. This will be a good and important signal. It will be helpful to improve the cultural exchange and cooperation between the both countries. ” Jiang said.

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