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Two Great Kashmiri Buddhist Scholars

Buddhayasa

Buddhayasa was a well-known Buddhist scholar of Kashmir and contemporary of Kumarajiva (d. 413). The latter had studied under Buddhayasa. The two were good personal fris. Buddhayasa hailed from a Brahmin family of Kashmir. His father, who did believe in religion of Tathagata and had insulted a monk, suffered from many physical ailments later. The son at the age 13, however, enrolled himself in a monastery under a monk. At the age of 19, he could recite millions of words of Hinayana and Mahayana texts. Since he was quite proud of his learning, others felt jealous of him. Buddhayasa did not join holy orders till the age of 27. For higher learning he moved to Kashgar. Crown Prince Dharmaputra was much impressed with his learning and asked him to stay in the palace. Kumarajiva had also come there. He studied the whole of Abhidharmapitaka under Buddhayasa for a year here. Buddhayasa continued to stay in Kashgar, even after Kumarajiva left for Kucha. The fall of Kucha to Chinese resulted in Kumarajiva being taken as prisoner to China.

This pained Buddhayasa much. He persuaded the Kashgar ruler to s an army to Kucha in 382 AD to fight Chinese aggression, more for the sake of the security of his fri Kumarajiva. Buddhyasa personally accompanied the force which reached there after the fall of Kucha. Later on he too left for China to join Kumarajiva, ignoring the advice of the ruler and quitting secretly. The two outstanding Buddhist savants settled down at Changngan and collaborated to jointly translate four works into Chinese, including the Dirghagama and Dharma-guptaka-Vinaya between 410 and 413. As teacher of Kumarajiva, he received the honorific maha-vibhasa. Buddhayasa loved his homeland and passed his last days in Kashmir.

Gunavarman

Gunavarman was a famous Buddhist scholar from Kashmir. He was a prince from the royal family of Kashmir. His father Sanghananda and grandfather Haribhadra were banished from the Kingdom, the latter for his oppressive rule and the former for his father's lapses. Gunavarman left home at the age of twenty and became a monk, even though he had been offered to head his paternal Kingdom. He mastered the Buddhist cannon in all its sections, and the agamas. He first went to Ceylon and then to Java, where he converted the Royal family to Buddhism. His name and fame attracted the attention of the Chinese emperor. The latter personally invited him. Gunavarman reached Nanking (China) in 431 AD. During his short stay of one year at the Jetavana monastery he was able to translate eleven works into Chinese. It was here that another Kashmiri scholar Dharmamitra collaborated with him in these translations

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

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