The life and legacy of Kumarajiva

spirit of Buddhism:The exhibition, titled “The Life and Legacy of Kumarajiva,” is on display at the India International Centre in New Delhi till June 26.— Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar  

Buddhism in its various forms spread across the world due to the efforts of monks, scholars and missionaries. One such person was Kumarajiva.

Born in CE 350, he broke political, geographical, cultural and linguistic barriers for a long-cherished mission — propagation of the true spirit of Buddhism.

His father belonged to a politically-powerful Kashmiri family, while his mother was the Princess of Kucha, a kingdom on the Silk Route.


Kumarajiva’s teachings even reached the shores of Japan, where devotees still chant the sutras translated by him in thousands of temples and monasteries.

The exhibition, titled “The Life and Legacy of Kumarajiva,” has been pieced together with the help of photographs and manuscripts at the Art Gallery, India International Centre here, by Shashibala.


Dr. Shashibala specialises in Buddhist art, iconography and Sanskrit as shared heritage and cross cultural connection among Asian countries. Kumarajiva rose to fame as he became a master at both Sanskrit and Chinese, and translated Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit to Chinese, thus laying a strong foundation of Buddhism in China and East Asia.

Unlike other translators during his time, Kumarajiva did not literally translate the text as Chinese parallels of Sanskrit terms were not available. Instead, he prioritised on conveying the meaning as opposed to precise literal rendering.

The exhibition, through various visual aids, tells the journey of Kumarajiva through photographs of places associated with him, murals from caves, sacred objects and manuscripts of the sutras . Most importantly, it shows details his life and journey, and the incidents that helped him spread the teachings of Buddhism.

The exhibition is on till June 26

Kumarajiva became a master at Sanskrit and Chinese, and translated Buddhist scriptures to Chinese

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 10:09:38 PM |

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