Yang Xuanzhi

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Yang Xuanzhi (Chinese: 楊衒之) was a Chinese writer and translator of Mahayana Buddhist texts into the Chinese language, during the 6th century, under the Northern Wei Dynasty.

Yang wrote "The Monasteries of Luoyang" (Chinese: 洛陽伽藍記; pinyin: Luòyáng Qiélánjì; Wade–Giles: Luo-yang Chia-lan ji)[1] [2] in 547. This text relates the introduction of Buddhism to China around 70 CE:

The establishment of the Baima Temple (Temple of the White Horse) by Emperor Ming (AD 58–75) of the Han marked the introduction of Buddhism into China. The temple was located on the south side of the Imperial Drive, three leagues (li) outside the Xiyang Gate. The Emperor dreamt of the golden man sixteen Chinese feet tall, with the aureole of sun and moon radiating from his head and his neck. A "golden god", he was known as Buddha. The emperor dispatched envoys to the Western Regions in search of the god, and, as a result, acquired Buddhist scriptures and images. At the time, because the scriptures were carried into China on the backs of white horses, White Horse was adopted as the name of the temple. (tr. Theobald 2010)

His book also contains the first known account of the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma, founder of Zen, whom he met in Luoyang around 520. He describes him as a man of Central Asian origin, who claims to be 150 years old and to have traveled extensively throughout Buddhist lands. He also wrote that Bodhidharma expressed praise for the beauty of the Buddhist temples in Luoyang, and that he chanted the name of the Buddha frequently:

Seeing the golden disks at the top of the monastery's stupa reflecting in the sun, the rays of light illuminating the surface of the clouds, the jewel-bells on the stupa blowing in the wind, the echoes reverberating beyond the heavens, Bodhidharma sang its praises. He exclaimed: "Truly this is the work of spirits." He said: "I am 150 years old, and I have passed through numerous countries. There is virtually no country I have not visited. But even in India there is nothing comparable to the pure beauty of this monastery. Even the distant Buddha realms lack this." He chanted homage and placed his palms together in salutation for days on end.
Hsiu-Fan Monastery had a statue of a fierce thunderbolt bearer guarding the gate. Pigeons and doves would neither fly through the gate nor roost upon it. Bodhidharma said: "That catches its true character!"[citation needed]


  1. ^ Yang Xuanzhi. "Buddhist Monasteries in Luoyang 洛陽伽藍記". Chinese Buddhist Electronic Text Association (CBETA) (in Chinese). Taishō Tripiṭaka. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Yang, Xuanzhi. "Buddhist Monasteries in Luoyang 洛陽伽藍記". NTI Buddhist Text Reader. Nan Tien Institute. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 


  • "Zen-A way of life", by Christmas Humphreys ISBN 0-07-141981-0
  • "A Record of Buddhist Monasteries in Lo-Yang" by Yang Xuanzhi(杨衒之),translated by Yi-t'ung Wang(王伊同,Princeton University Press,Princeton,New Jersey,1983
  • "Memories of Lo-yang: Yang Hsuan-chih and the Lost Capital (493–534)" Jenner, William John Francis. New York: Clarendon Press, Oxford University Press, 1981.
  • Theobald, Ulrich (2010), Luoyang qielan ji 洛陽伽藍記 "The Monasteries of Luoyang".