Cover of Lives of Great Monks and Nuns
BDK America
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Anon. (Aśvagoṣha, Nagarjuna); Paramārtha (Vasubandhu); Baochang (Buddhist Nuns); Faxian
Li Rongxi, excepting "Vasubandhu," trans. Albert A. Dalia


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This volume collects the biographies of three great Mahayana masters (Aśvagoṣha, Nagarjuna, and Vasubahndhu), 65 Chinese nuns from the fourth to sixth centuries, and an account of the life and travels in South Asia of the fifth-century Chinese monk Faxian.

Remarkable lives of monks and nuns who furthered the Dharma in its journey from India to Sri Lanka and China


Taishō 2046

Volume 50

The Life of Aśvaghoṣa Bodhisattva

The Life of Aśvaghoṣa Bodhisattva is a biography of Aśvaghoṣa (ca. A.D. 100-160). Biographical references to Aśvaghoṣa are to be found in a number of other works too, but there are discrepancies in contents, dates and place-names. This text remains valuable as an important biography of the famous poet-scholar.

Translated into the Chinese by Kumārajīva as Maming pusa zhuan (馬鳴菩薩傳). 1 fascicle.

Taishō 2047

Volume 50

The Life of Nāgārjuna Bodhisattva

The Life of Nāgārjuna Bodhisattva is a biography of Nāgārjuna (ca. A.D. 150-250), who is revered by all Buddhist schools in Japan as the “Founder of the Eight Schools.”

Translated into the Chinese by Kumārajīva as Longshu pusa zhuan (龍樹菩薩傳). 1 fascicle.

Taishō 2049

Volume 50

Biography of Dharma Master Vasubandhu

This Biography of Dharma Master Vasubandhu catalogs the achievements of this scholar-monk, regarded as having laid the foundations of the Yogācāra School of Mahāyāna Buddhism. While Vasubandhu is celebrated in many works, this is the only independent biography.

Translated into the Chinese by Paramārtha as Posoupandou fashi zhuan (婆藪槃豆法師傳).

Taishō 2063

Volume 50

Biographies of Buddhist Nuns

This text contains the biographies of 65 Chinese Buddhist nuns (Skt. bhikuṇī,  Ch: biqiuni) who lived during the approximately 160-year period between the Eastern Chin and Liang Dynasties. According to the introduction, in former times many virtuous nuns were to be met with, but at the time of the Liang Dynasty when this work was compiled there were few nuns to be found rigorously observing the monastic precepts. Accordingly the author brought together various inscriptions, the recollections of elderly people and other relevant records into this single volume in order to provide examples for future nuns.

Ch. Biqiuni zhuan (比丘尼傳), composed by Bao-chang. 4 fascicles.

Taishō 2085

Volume 51

The Journey of the Eminent Monk Faxian

The Journey of the Eminent Monk Faxian is a record by Faxian himself of his travels in India, and is also known as the Record of Buddhist Kingdoms and the Account of Travels in India Faxian set out on his journey in search of the Dharma in C.E. 399, and passing through Central Asia via the Southern Route, reached Northwest India, and moved on to Central India, visiting temples and shrines on the way. He then made pilgrimages to various sites associated with Śākyamuni, studied Buddhist scriptures and the monastic code, and made copies of numerous texts. From India he crossed over to Ceylon and then returned to China by sea, arriving in 412. This work is an account of his observations and experiences during this journey. It is a valuable source of information on Buddhism and Buddhist culture in India and Central Asia at the start of the fifth century, and is the oldest extant account by a Buddhist monk of his travels in India.

Ch. Gaoseng Faxian zhuan (高僧法顯傳), recorded by Faxian. 1 fascicle.

Table of Contents

A Message on the Publication of the English Tripiṭaka    NUMATA Yehan    v
Editorial Foreword    MAYEDA Sengaku    vii
Publisher’s Foreword    Francis H. Cook    ix

Lives of Great Monks and Nuns

The Life of Aśvaghoṣa Bodhisattva
Translator’s Introduction    Li Rongxi    5
Text of The Life of Aśvaghoṣa Bodhisattva 9

The Life of Nāgārjuna Bodhisattva
Translator’s Introduction Li Rongxi 17
Text of The Life of Nāgārjuna Bodhisattva 21

Biography of Dharma Master Vasubandhu
Translator’s Introduction Albert A. Dalia 31
Text of Biography of Dharma Master Vasubandhu 37

Biographies of Buddhist Nuns
Contents 57
Translator’s Introduction Li Rongxi 61
Text of Biographies of Buddhist Nuns 69

Fascicle One
     Baochang’s Preface 69
     1. Jingjian of Bamboo Grove Nunnery in the Jin Dynasty 71
     2. An Lingshou of Jian-xian Nunnery in the Spurious Zhao Dynasty 73
     3. Zhixian of the Western Nunnery in Si-zhou 75
     4. Miaoxiang of North Mountain in Hong-nong 76
     5. Kang Minggan of Jian-fu Nunnery 77
     6. Tanbei of Northern Yong-an Nunnery 79
     7. Huizhan of Jian-fu Nunnery 80
     8. Sengji of Yan-xing Nunnery 80
     9. Daoxing of the Eastern Nunnery in Lou-yang 81
     10. Daorong of New Grove Nunnery 82
     11. Lingzong of the Western Nunnery in Si-zhou 84
     12. Zhi Miaoyin of Jian-jing Nunnery 85
     13. Daoyi of Empress He’s Nunnery 86

Fascicle Two: The Song Dynasty
     14. Huiguo of Jing-fu Nunnery 89
     15. Fasheng of Jian-fu Nunnery 90
     16. Huiyu of Niu-mu Nunnery in Jiang-ling 91
     17. Daoqiong of Jian-fu Nunnery 92
     18. Daoshou of Qi-huan Nunnery in Jiang-ling 93
     19. Shi Xuanzao of Tai-xuan-tai Nunnery in Wu Prefecture 94
     20. Shi Huiqiong of Nan-an Nunnery 95
     21. Puzhao of Zhang-guo Nunnery in Nan-pi 96
     22. Shi Huimu of the Nunnery of Zhu-ge Village in Liang Prefecture 97
     23. Fasheng of the Southern Nunnery in Wu County 98
     24. Sengduan of Yong-an Nunnery 99
     25. Guangjing of the Middle Nunnery in Guang-ling 100
     26. Shanmiao of Shu Prefecture 101
     27. Sengguo of Guang-ling 103
     28. Jingcheng of Bamboo Grove Nunnery in Dong-xiang in Shan-yang 104
     29. Faxiang of Tai-xuan-tai Nunnery in Wu Prefecture 105
     30. Yeshou of Eastern Qing-yuan Nunnery 106
     31. Fabian of Jing-fu Nunnery 108
     32. Daozong of San-ceng Nunnery in Jiang-ling 109
     33. Huijun of Zhu-yuan Nunnery 110
     34. Baoxian of Pu-xian Nunnery 110
     35. Fajing of Pu-xian Nunnery 112
     36. Huiyao of Yong-kang Nunnery in Shu Prefecture 113

Fascicle Three: The Qi Dynasty
     37. Fayuan of Zeng-cheng in Dong-guan 115
     38. Tanche of Southern Yong-an Nunnery 116
     39. Sengjing of Chong-sheng Nunnery 117
     40. Sengmeng of Qi-ming Nunnery in Yan-guan 118
     41. Miaozhi of Hua-yan Nunnery 120
     42. Zhisheng of Jian-fu Nunnery 121
     43. Senggai of Chan-ji Nunnery 123
     44. Faquan of Eastern Qing-yuan Nunnery 125
     45. Jinghui of Pu-xian Nunnery 126
     46. Tanjian of Fa-yin Nunnery 126
     47. Jinggui of Fa-yin Nunnery 127
     48. Huixu of Ji-shan Nunnery 128
     49. Chaoming of Qi-ming Nunnery in Qian-tang 131
     50. Tangyong of Fa-yin Nunnery 132
     51. Dele of Qi-xing Nunnery in Shan County 132

Fascicle Four: The Liang Dynasty
     52. Jingxiu of Chan-lin Nunnery 135
     53. Sengnian of Chan-lin Nunnery 139
     54. Tanhui of Chang-le Nunnery in Cheng-du 140
     55. Feng of Lang-zhong Nunnery in the Illegal Capital of Gao-chang 143
     56. Huisheng of Xian-ju Nunnery of the Liang Dynasty 145
     57. Jingxian of Eastern Qing-yuan Nunnery 145
     58. Jingyuan of Zhu-yuan Nunnery 146
     59. Jingxing of Zhu-yuan Nunnery 147
     60. Shi Lingyu of Southern Jin-ling Nunnery 148
     61. Sengshu of Xian-ju Nunnery 149
     62. Miaoyi of Western Qing-yuan Nunnery 151
     63. Shi Huihui of Le-an Nunnery 151
     64. Shi Daogui of Di-shan Nunnery 152
     65. Shi Faxuan of Zhao-ming Nunnery in Shan-yin 153

The Journey of the Eminent Monk Faxian
Translator’s Introduction Li Rongxi 157
Text of The Journey of the Eminent Monk Faxian 163

Glossary 215
Bibliography 223
Index 225
A List of the Volumes of the BDK English Tripiṭaka (First Series)