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Hualin International Journal of Buddhist Studies 4.2 (2021): 202–239;
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Wheel that Crossed the Borders: Buddhist and Non-Buddhist Religions)

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From Huisong 慧嵩 (fl. 511–560) to Xuanzang 玄奘 (602?–664): The ‘Borderland Complex’ in the Transmission of Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma

Temple University

Abstract: Born in Gaochang 高昌 and already a specialist in the Heart of Scholasticism with Miscellaneous Additions (Skt. *Saṃyuktābhidharmahṛdayaśāstra; Ch. Za apitan xin lun 雜阿毘曇心論) at a young age, Huisong was sent by his king to Northern China. Later, despite repeated invitations from the king of Gaochang, Huisong refused to return to his homeland, which he considered as ‘peripheral and barbaric’ (bianbi 邊鄙). Huisong’s determination to stay in China contributed to the transmission of Abhidharma. An examination of Huisong’s social network reveals that there are two lines that connect Huisong to Xuanzang. However, in the Study Notes on the Treasury of Abhidharma (Jushe lun ji 俱舍論記), a text compiled by Xuanzang’s student Puguang 普光 (fl. 645–664), the arguments of the two most significant figures on these lines of transmission were refuted with evidence from the Indian texts newly translated by Xuanzang. This shows not only the doctrinal linkage, but also the differences between Huisong and Xuanzang. While for Huisong China was indeed a center of Buddhist studies as opposed to the ‘barbaric’ Gaochang, Xuanzang and Puguang most likely regarded China as a Buddhist borderland as opposed to India. These ‘Borderland complexes’ motivated both scholarly exchange and the construction of religious orthodoxy.

Keywords: Huisong, Xuanzang, Puguang, Borderland Complex, Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma


About the Author: Lu Huang 黃露 is currently a graduate student in the Department of Religion at Temple University. She obtained a B.A. from Nanjing University and an M.A. from Peking University. In 2019 she became a University Fellow at Temple University. Her interests include the study of scholastic debates within the Indian Sarvāstivāda School, the role of pre-Xuanzang Chinese Abhidharma specialists, social network analysis, Buddhist pilgrimage at Mount Jizu, and Buddhist history in Southwest China. Besides classical Chinese and Sanskrit, she has studied Tibetan. At Temple University she teaches a wide range of courses including Religions in the WorldIntroduction to Buddhism, and Death and Dying.


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