Representatives from IOP Attend Seminar on Buddhist Scholar Kumārajīva
Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) representatives attended an international seminar titled "Kumārajīva: Philosopher and Seer" in New Delhi from February 3-5. The seminar, organized by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, introduced the most current research on Kumārajīva (344-413)--the Buddhist scholar responsible for translating many key Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Chinese.
One of the most important and well-known texts agreed to have been translated by Kumārajīva is the Lotus Sutra. Prized by later generations for their excellence and clarity, Kumārajīva's translations profoundly influenced the subsequent development of Buddhism in China and Japan
Among the scholars in attendance at the seminar was International Academy of Indian Culture Director Professor Lokesh Chandra. Yoichi Kawada, director of IOP, and Matsuhisa Yamada, professor emeritus of Osaka Kyoiku University and researcher at IOP, were among the 27 speakers presenting their research on Kumārajīva.
At the conference's opening session on February 3, Professor Chandra introduced a historical perspective on how the Buddhist scriptures translated by Kumārajīva were brought to Japan and eventually became the foundation of the Soka Gakkai's philosophy and its activities for the promotion of peace and human dignity.
On February 4, Secretary of the Ministry of Culture Jawhar Sircar attended and told the participants that the conference represented an important opportunity to learn about the great achievements of Kumārajīva and his spirit.
Dr. Kawada then presented his research on Kumārajīva and Nichiren, describing how Nichiren learned the essential teachings of Buddhism from the Lotus Sutra, and then expressed its essence as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which Nichiren asserted could help individuals to awaken to their inherent Buddha nature.
Kumārajīva was born in the Central Asiatic city of Kucha. He converted to Mahayana Buddhism from Hinayana Buddhism during his time in Kashgarh, and while living in Liang-chou for some 16 years, developed his translation skills. At the invitation of Yao Hsing, ruler of the Later Ch'in dynasty, Kumārajīva moved to Ch'ang-an in 401 where he was given the position of teacher of the nation and immersed himself in the translation of Buddhist scriptures.
[Adapted from an online report from the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and an article in the February 15, 2011, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photo courtesy of Bharat (India) Soka Gakkai]