Kumarajiva (AD 344-413), spent much of his life in the Buddhist kingdom of Kucha on the Northern Silk Road (Xiyu ‘West Region’ today’s Xinjiang). An expert in languages and Buddhist texts, he was invited to China in AD 385. As a result of internal Chinese politics Kumarajiva was held prisoner at an outpost for about sixteen years. Later around (AD 401) when he arrived at his destination, Chang-an, he was put in charge of a large project to translate Buddhist Scriptures into Chinese.
His time in captivity associating with ordinary Chinese people held him in good stead, as he learnt the everyday language which helped him translate the substance of the Buddhist texts. In eleven years of translation work he and his students translated 384 volumes of Buddhist texts including: Prajnaparamita Texts, the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra, Surangama Sutra, and The Lotus Sutra plus many commentaries and other Buddhist texts, particularly Madhyamika teachings. (more…)