Toru Funayama

Buddhism in Kashmir During the 8th Century, as Seen from Chinese Sources

  • Datum: Mi., 22. Mai, 16 Uhr
  • Ort: Institut für Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens, Seminarraum 2
  • Organisation: Helmut Krasser (IKGA)
  • Kooperation: FWF-NFN “The Cultural History of the Western Himalaya from the 8th century”

Thema/ Topic

The eighth century is a unique period in the sense that it was the final period Chinese sources minutely record about Buddhism in Kashmir. As is well known, after the renowned activity of Xuanzang (d. 664), who left the most extensive Chinese records of Kashmir, two pilgrims provide us with Kashmiri Buddhism in the eighth century: One is Huichao (or Hyecho from Silla), who visited Kashmir around 725, and the other is Wukong, who went to Kashmir and received full ordination in 759. There are also several remarkable accounts of diplomatic activities between China and Kashmir especially during the Kaiyuan era (713–741). It is noteworthy that Indian monks, who went to China around this period, were more or less connected with Esoteric Buddhism and some of them are recorded to have had the origin in Kashmir. For some reason, however, China started to lose a close relationship with this land in the latter half of the eighth century, and Chinese records of Kashmir suddenly became poor regarding the religious situations in the ninth century and later. On the other hand, it was around the mid eighth century that that what is called logico-epistemological tradition of Buddhism (or pramāṇa-Buddhism) started to become significant and eminent Buddhist thinkers such as Arcaṭa and Dharmottara subsequently appeared in Kashmir. This line of tradition made an immeasurable influence not only on the development of Buddhism in the same area but also on the formation of scholastic Buddhism in Tibet.

In his talk, Prof Funayama will pay special attention to some historical descriptions available in Chinese sources and attempt to explore basic characteristics of Kashmiri Buddhism in the eighth century, as the period prior to the beginning of the Kashmiri pramāṇa school. In particular, by examining some important biographies of Indian monks, who brought Tantric Buddhist texts to China, he wants to propose the hypothesis that, contrary to our common assumption, Tantric Buddhism did not prevail in Kashmir, at least not in a clear form, during the eighth century. Prof Funayama will also introduce an interesting account which shows an earlier phase of political relations between Kashmir and Tibet in 724 CE.


Toru Funayama is professor of Buddhist studies at the Institute for Research in Humanities at Kyoto University, Japan. His research mainly covers Chinese Buddhism in the Six Dynasties period (especially in the fifth and sixth centuries) and Buddhist epistemology and logic in India, particularly Kamalaśīla’s (ca. 740-795) theory of perception. His research interests include characteristics of Chinese Buddhist apocryphal scriptures, Buddhist scholastic tradition, the theory and legends of bodhisattva practice, and the notion of saintliness in India and China.