玄奘西游 Xuanzang's Journey to the West
In the classic novel Journey to the West, a monk, the Tang Priest, goes on a pilgrimage to India to fetch the Buddhist scriptures back to China. Together with his disciples Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand, he overcomes 81 hardships and his mission is successful. The novel is a collection of legends, but in history there really was such a monk. His Buddhist name was Xuanzang.
Xuanzang (602-664 AD) renounced the world, and became a monk. He acquired a good command of the Buddhist classics, and he found that there were a great many errors in the translated Buddhist scriptures. Therefore, he decided to go to Tianzhu (today's Indian Peninsula), the birthplace of Buddhism, to study and bring back the authentic scriptures.
Xuanzang started his journey to the west in the first year (627 AD) of the Zhenguan reign period of the Tang Dynasty. He crossed mountains and deserts, overcoming numerous hardships, and finally reached Tianzhu after a journey of whole year.
During his journey to the west, Xuanzang traveled through over 70 countries, and studied in Tianzhu for 15 years.
At the age of 42, Xuanzang returned to Chang'an, bringing back more than 650 Buddhist scriptures. He then commenced the work of translating the Buddhist scriptures. He translated 74 Buddhist scriptures altogether, amounting to about 1,300 volumes.
Xuanzang was not only an eminent monk, but also a great translator and an envoy for friendship between China and India. He made great contributions to the development of Chinese culture, and for cultural exchanges between China and India and other countries.