Kumārajīva; (also Kiu-kiu-lo, Kiu-mo-lo-che, Kiu-mo-to-tche-po, Tang-cheu), (b. 344 CE – d. 413 CE) was a Kuchean Buddhist monk, scholar and translator whose father was from an Indian noble family, and whose mother was a Kuchean princess who significantly influenced his early studies. He first studied teachings of the Sarvastivada schools, later studied under Buddhasvāmin, and finally became a Mahayāna adherent, studying the Madhyamika doctrine of Nagarjuna. He settled in Chang'an. He is mostly remembered for the prolific translation of Buddhist texts written in Sanskrit to Chinese he carried out during his later life.
Kumārajīva left Kashgar with Jīva at age 12, and traveled to Turfan, the north-eastern limit of the kingdom of Kucha, which was home to more than 10,000 monks. Somewhere around this time, he encountered the Mahayanaist Suryasoma, who instructed him in early Mahayana texts. Kumārajīva soon converted, and began studying sunyavada texts, such as the works of Nagarjuna.
In Turfan his fame spread after besting a Tirthika teacher in debate, and King Po-Shui of Kucha came to Turfan to ask Kumārajīva personally to return with him to Kucha city. Kumārajīva obliged and returned to instruct the king's daughter A-Kie-ye-mo-ti, who had become a nun, in the Mahāsannipāta and Mahāvaipulya sūtras.
At age 20, Kumārajīva was fully ordained at the king's palace, and lived in a new monastery built by king Po-Shun. Notably, he received Vimalākṣa who was his preceptor, a Sarvāstivādan monk from Kashmir, and was instructed by him in the Sarvāstivādan Vinayapiṭaka. Kumārajīva proceeded to study the Pañcaviṁśati-sāhasrikā sūtra, one of the longer Perfection of Wisdom texts, relatively obscure at the time. He is known to have engaged in debates, and to have encouraged dialogue with foreign monks. Jīva is thought to have moved to Kashmir.
When about 40 years old, a Chinese force captured Kucha and took away Kumārajīva as part of their booty. Initially he was to be taken to the capital, but the local non-Buddhist leader instead kept him locked up for many years. During this time, it is thought that Kumārajīva learnt Chinese. Later, this local leader was bested in a war, and finally Kumārajīva was taken to the capital, Chang'an, whereupon he was immediately introduced to the King, Yao Xing, the court, and other local and non-local Buddhist leaders. He was hailed as a great master from the Western regions, and immediately took up a very high position in Chinese Buddhist circles of the time. Yao Xing looked upon him as a teacher, and many young and old Chinese Buddhists flocked to him, learning both from his direct teachings and through his translation bureau activities. The latter revolutionized Chinese Buddhism, in clarity and overcoming the previous "ge-yi" (concept-matching) system of translation through use of Daoist and Confucian terms.
Kumarajiva had four main disciples: 道生 Daosheng, 僧肇 Sengzhao, 道融 Daorong, and 僧叡 Sengrui.
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