Call for Papers: From Chang’an to Nālandā: The Life and Legacy of the Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang (c. 602-664)

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Call for Papers

An International Conference: From Chang’an to Nālandā: The Life and Legacy of the Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang (c. 602-664)

August 17-19, 2018; Xi’an, China

The Chinese Guiyuan Society of Promoting the Xuanzang culture (中國歸元玄奘文化促進會), assisted by the Jintai Cultural Academy in Shannxi 陝西金臺書院, the UBC Buddhist Studies Forum, and the Research Institute of Xuanzang 玄奘研究院 at the Northwest University 西北大學 in China,  cordially invites proposals for an international conference on “From Chang’an to Nālandā: The Life and Legacy of the Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang (c. 602-664)” (從長安到那爛陀:玄奘其人及其遺產) to be held between August 17-19, 2018, in Xi’an, China. This conference, exclusively devoted to the different aspects of the eventful life and far-reaching legacy of this complex monk and man, will be the first in a series of conferences on Xuanzang and East Asian Culture to be sponsored by the newly established Chinese Guiyuan Society of Promoting the Xuanzang culture.

Xuanzang 玄奘 (c. 602-664) was neither the first Chinese Buddhist monk to complete the perilous journey across central Asia to India and back to Chang’an to leave a detailed record of his travels (Bianji’s 辯機 Da Tang xiyu ji 大唐西域記, T no. 2087), maybe nor has he been considered the most influential translator of Sanskrit—or Indic language—Buddhist texts into Chinese (roughly 1330 rolls), nor was he even the first Chinese monastic to delve into complicated and voluminous Indian commentaries. But Xuanzang is undeniably the most famous Chinese pilgrim who traveled to Central and South Asia in search of sacred scriptures, translator of Buddhist scriptures into Chinese, and—especially in Japan—he is considered to be the founder of a separate tradition of East Asian Yogācāra exegesis (Hossō 法相宗). He is credited with translating the largest book in the Chinese Buddhist canon, Mahāprajñāpāramitā-sūtra (Da bore boluomiduo jing 大般若波羅蜜多經 in 600 rolls), numerous arcane Indian commentaries, developing a “new” system of translating Sanskrit into Chinese, and, long before the publication of Wu Cheng’en’s 吳承恩 (1501-1582) legendary Journey to the West (Xiyouji 西遊記), Xuanzang became the most famous Chinese Buddhist monk. The impact of Xuanzang upon East Asia requires attention from both Buddhist and non-Buddhist perspectives, within China and beyond.

Approximately thirty scholars, from mainland China and abroad, have already committed to join this conference. We would now like to enlist ten additional scholars to join us in Xi’an. The organizing committee welcomes paper proposals on any aspect of Xuanzang’s complicated life, legacy, and impact, including but not limited to:

  • Xuanzang: Biographical and Hagiographical Study
  • Xuanzang and Yogācāra Buddhism
  • Xuanzang and the Guiyuan Temple
  • Xuanzang and Tang Politics
  • Xuanzang and Buddhist Arts
  • Xuanzang and Buddhist Translation
  • Xuanzang and East Asian Literature
  • Xuanzang in the Context of Sino-Indian Cultural Communication
  • Xuanzang’s Impact on East Asian Buddhism
  • Xuanzang and the Silk Road

In addition to covering all conference-related costs during the conference period, including meals and accommodation, a travel subsidy may also be provided to each of the selected panelists on the basis of need. Interested individuals should email their proposals, along with copies of their updated CV, to by April 20, 2018.

A conference volume, to be published in Europe or North America, will collect all the papers in English, plus the English translations of several papers written in non-English languages; a Chinese volume, to be published in China, will include the Chinese versions for all non-Chinese papers in addition to those papers contributed by our colleagues based in China. Only scholars who are confident in finishing their draft papers by the end of July and publishable papers by the end of November, 2018 are encouraged to apply.