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Tang Studies 18-19 (2000-01) The Birth of a Polymath: The Genealogical Background of the Tang Manit-Scientist Yixing (673-727) JINHUACHEN UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA The Tang monk-scientist Yixing -1J (673-727)was by any standard a polymath. As a monk, he is primarily remembered for his role in propagating Esoteric Buddhism in China. He was perhaps the most important disciple of Subhakarasin:ma (Shanwuwei =gf~-N [637-735]),the chief transmitter of the Womb-matrix (Skt. garbhadhatu, Ch. taizangjie §-EtiiiJl!.) line of Indian Esoteric Buddhism in China. Yixing assisted Subhakarasin:ma in translating the principal Esoteric Buddhist scripture, the Mahavairacana-sutra, into Chinese under the title Dari jing *B*~(Sutra afthe Great Sun), on which he also composed a voluminous commentary entitled Darijing shu *B *~m(or Darijing yishi *B *~~~). As the only commentary on the Darijing in East Asia, the Darijing shu exerted a far-reaching and long-lasting influence on the formation of various East Asian Esoteric Buddhist traditions. Before his involvement in Esoteric Buddhism, Yixing had received training in other Buddhist traditions including Vinaya, Tiantai, and Chan. His instructor in meditation was none other than Puji ~~ (651-739),who came to be recognized by most Northern Chan followers as their seventh patriarch. What is even more remarkable is that Yixing probably, as I shall argue, also studied under Shenxiu ffr$%= (606?-706),Puji's teacher and the most prominent Northern Chan master. As for Yixing's connection to Vinaya and Tiantai, he is known to have studied at the Yuquansi 3S:~~ (in present-day Hubei), which, though principally a Tiantai center, was open to influence from a variety of Buddhist traditions including Vinaya. Those who trained Yixing in Tiantai and Vinaya included Huizhen rg~ (a.k.a. Wuzhen II~~,673-751), Daoyi m~ (679-754),and Hongjing sb-jt(var. Hengjing 'IN*, 6341 Chen: Yixing's Genealogical Background 712),the last of whom was probably responsible for Yixing's decision to become a monk.1 Yixing's intense interest in and broad knowledge of Vinaya and Tiantai are fully demonstrated in his Darijing shu.2 In addition, he wrote a now missing vinaya work titled Tiaofu zang ~%H{:*~(Canon [of Vinaya for] Regulating and Controlling [One's Mind]; in ten juan). His Darijing shu also attests to his knowledge of Taoism. He was drawn to Taoism from his youth, probably as a result of his enthusiasm for science, in which area he has come to be known beyond the borders of China.3 By focusing on Yixing's genealogical background, this article aims to study Yixingfrom a point of view which has, to the best of my knowledge, so far eluded scholarly attention.4 This focus of I Yixing's discipleship under Huizhen and Daoyi is recorded in Li Hua's **(71O?766 ?) epitaphs for the latter two monks; see Quan Tang wen ~~:x (rpt. Beijing: Zhonghua, 1987), 319.3236b-38a, 3233a-35a. The primary sources for Yixing's connection to Hengjing are found in two historical works by the Japanese monk Saicho lfJi ~ (767-822) (see below). 2 Yixing's extensive use of Tiantai ideas in his Darijing shu was noticed by Saicho, who discussed this question in one of his polemical works; see Chen Jinhua ~*~., Making and Remaking History: A Study of Tiantai Sectarian Historiography (Tokyo: International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 1999), 130-31. 3 As a scientist, Yixing's achievements encompassed the areas of astronomy, mechanics , mathematics, and the calendar. See Li Di *~, Tangdai tianwenxuejia Zhang Sui m1-t7(:X~~5:&~ (Shanghai: Shanghai renmin chubanshe, 1964); Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, vol. 3: Mathematics and the Sciences of the Heavens and the Earth (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1959),37-38,270-71,282-83; Antonino Forte, Mingtang and Buddhist Utopias in the History of the Astronomical Clock: The Tower, Statue and Armillary Sphere Constructed by Empress Wu (Rome and Paris: Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, Ecole fran9aise d'Extreme-Orient, 1988),246-49. 4 A number of significant studies have been made on Yixing's biographical sources. The following are merely some of the most noteworthy. Shimizutani Kojun m7J~Jff)of Bingzhou Mz~'f'I...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1759-7633
Print ISSN
0737-5034
Pages
pp. 1-39
Launched on MUSE
2021-04-08
Open Access
No
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