Hyecho Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

: Prajñāvikram; Hui Chao in Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

Pinyin is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. It is also often used to teach Mandarin Chinese and spell Chinese names in foreign publications and used as an input method to enter Chinese characters into...

, was a Korean
Korean people
The Korean people are an ethnic group originating in the Korean peninsula and Manchuria. Koreans are one of the most ethnically and linguistically homogeneous groups in the world.-Names:...

 Buddhist monk from Silla
Silla was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, and one of the longest sustained dynasties in...

, one the three Korean kingdom
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

s of the period.

"You complain of the long way home to the west,

and I sigh at the endless road to the east."


Hyecho studied esoteric Buddhism in Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, initially under Subhakarasimha
Śubhakarasiṃha was an eminent Indian Buddhist monk and master of Esoteric Buddhism, who arrived in the Chinese capital Chang'an in 716 CE and translated the , better known as the Mahāvairocana Sūtra...

 and then under the famous Indian monk Vajrabodhi
Vajrabodhi was an Indian buddhist monk and Esoteric Buddhist teacher in Tang China. He is one the eight patriarchs in Shingon Buddhism....

 who praised Hyecho as "one of six living persons who were well-trained in the five sections of the Buddhist canon."

On the advice of his Indian teachers in China, he set out for India in 723 CE to acquaint himself with the language and culture of the land of the Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...


Memoir of the pilgrimage to the five kingdoms of India

During his journey of India, Hyecho wrote a travelogue in Chinese named Wang ocheonchukguk jeon
Wang ocheonchukguk jeon
Wang ocheonchukguk jeon is a travelogue by Buddhist monk Hyecho, who traveled from Korea to India, in the years 723 - 727/728 CE....

(往五天竺國傳) which means, "Memoir of the pilgrimage to the five kingdoms of India."

The travelogue reveals that Hyecho, after arriving by sea in India headed to the Indian Kingdom of Magadha
Magadha formed one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas or kingdoms in ancient India. The core of the kingdom was the area of Bihar south of the Ganga; its first capital was Rajagriha then Pataliputra...

 (present-day Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

), then moved on to visit Kusinagar and Varanasi
-Etymology:The name Varanasi has its origin possibly from the names of the two rivers Varuna and Assi, for the old city lies in the north shores of the Ganga bounded by its two tributaries, the Varuna and the Asi, with the Ganges being to its south...

. However Hyecho's journey did not end there and he continued north, where he visited Lumbini
Lumbinī is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi district of Nepal. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who as the Buddha Gautama founded the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha lived between roughly 563 and 483 BCE...

 (present-day Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

) and Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

. Hyecho left India following the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 towards the west, via Agni or Karashahr, to China where the account ends in 729 CE.

He referred to three kingdoms lying to the northeast of Kashmir which were:

"under the suzerainty of the Tibetans…. The country is narrow and small, and the mountains and valleys very rugged. There are monasteries and monks, and the people faithfully venerate the Three Jewels

Three Jewels
The Three Jewels, also called the Three Treasures, the Siemese Triples, Three Refuges, or the Triple Gem , are the three things that Buddhists take refuge in, and look toward for guidance, in the process known as taking refuge.The Three Jewels are:* BuddhaTaking refuge in the Three Jewels is...

. As to the kingdom of Tibet to the East, there are no monasteries at all and the Buddha's teaching is unknown; but in [these above-mentioned] countries the population consists of Hu, therefore they are believers. (Petech, The Kingdom of Ladakh, p. 10)."

Rizvi goes on to point out that this passage not only confirms that in the early eight century the region of modern Ladakh
Ladakh is a region of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of the Republic of India. It lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent...

 was under Tibetan suzerainty, but that the people were of non-Tibetan stock.

It took Hyecho approximately four years to complete his journey. The travelogue contains much information on local diet, languages, climate, cultures, and political situations.

It is mentioned that Hyecho witnessed the decline of Buddhism in India. He also found it quite interesting to see the cattle roaming freely around cities and villages.

The travelogue was lost for many years until a fragment of it was rediscovered by Paul Pelliot
Paul Pelliot
Paul Pelliot was a French sinologist and explorer of Central Asia. Initially intending to enter the foreign service, Pelliot took up the study of Chinese and became a pupil of Sylvain Lévi and Édouard Chavannes....

 in the Dunhuang
Dunhuang is a city in northwestern Gansu province, Western China. It was a major stop on the ancient Silk Road. It was also known at times as Shāzhōu , or 'City of Sands', a name still used today...

 grotto in China in 1908 and was subsequently translated into different languages over the years; the original version of Wang ocheonchukguk jeon. The original fragment is now in France.

See also

  • Korean Buddhism
    Korean Buddhism
    Korean Buddhism is distinguished from other forms of Buddhism by its attempt to resolve what it sees as inconsistencies in Mahayana Buddhism. Early Korean monks believed that the traditions they received from foreign countries were internally inconsistent. To address this, they developed a new...

  • Silk Road transmission of Buddhism
    Silk Road transmission of Buddhism
    The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism to China is most commonly thought to have started in the late 2nd or the 1st century CE.The first documented translation efforts by Buddhist monks in China were in the 2nd century CE, possibly as a consequence of the expansion of the Kushan Empire into the...

  • List of Korea-related topics
  • List of Silla people
  • Wang ocheonchukguk jeon
    Wang ocheonchukguk jeon
    Wang ocheonchukguk jeon is a travelogue by Buddhist monk Hyecho, who traveled from Korea to India, in the years 723 - 727/728 CE....

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