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Monks Retrace Xuanzang's Historic Journey to India
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As part of the "Year of China-India Friendship" celebrations, two Buddhist monks from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, Mingxian and Huizai respectively, started yesterday on their journey to India that retraces the footsteps of their legendary predecessor Xuanzang (602-664).


From Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, the monks will, over the next four months, traverse the route taken by Xuanzang, a Buddhist pilgrim, from China to India some 1,300 years ago. Xuanzang was on a mission to obtain Buddhist scriptures and to study. He returned to China 17 years later.


Mingxian and Huizai will pass through Shaanxi, Gansu and Xinjiang before crossing into Pakistan and Nepal on their way to Nalanda, the once famous seat of Buddhist learning in India.


But unlike Xuanzang, Mingxian and Huizai are not in search of Buddhist scriptures.


"The journey aims to better promote communication and cultural exchange between China and India," the venerable Shenghui, administrative vice president of the China Buddhist Association, said at yesterday's sending-off ceremony.


The project, which is coorganized by the China Buddhist Association, the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the China Xuanzang Research Center, also hopes to highlight Xuanzang's enduring spirit in promoting Buddhism, he said.


"Xuanzang searched for the real Buddhist scriptures by traveling to India and translated the texts into Chinese," he said. "Today, his enduring spirit should still be respected and better promoted and his successors' journey will help give the public a better understanding of Buddhism."


A total of 108 monks from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao and four leading actors from the CCTV television series, Journey to the West, which is based on Xuanzang's story, also attended yesterday's ceremony.


(China Daily July 20, 2006)


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