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Śikṣānanda(652 - 710)

Śikṣānanda. (C. Shichanantuo; J. Jisshananda; K. Silch'anant'a 實叉難陀) (652-710). A monk from Khotan (C. Yutian), who was an important translator of Buddhist texts into Chinese during the Tang dynasty. The Empress Wu Zetian (r. 690-705) invited Śikṣānanda to the Chinese Capital of Luoyang, asking him to bring from Khotan its Sanskrit recension of the Avataṃsakasūtra (alt. Buddhāvataṃsakasūtra; C. Dafangguang Fo huayan jing), which was longer and more comprehensive than the sixty-roll version then in use in China, which had previously been translated by the Indian monk Buddhabhadra (359-429). Śikṣānanda arrived in Luoyang in 695 and supervised a translation team in rendering this Khotanese recension into Chinese; his team included Bodhiruci (693-727), Yijing (635-713), and Wǒnch'ǔk (613-696). Śikṣānanda and his team finished their translation in 699, after four years of work, in a total of eighty rolls. The translation that Śikṣānanda supervised is typically called within the tradition the "new" (xin) translation, in contrast to Buddhabhadra's "old" translation. (Li Tongxuan's commentary to Śikṣānanda's new rendering of the text is, for example, called the Xin Huayan jing lun; see Huayan jing helun.) Śikṣānanda continued with his translation projects until 705, when he returned to Khotan to care for his aged mother. Some thirteen other translations are attributed to him, including the Laṅkāvatārasūtra and several shorter dhāraṇī sūtras, as well as a version of the Dasheng qixin lun ("Awakening of Faith According to the Mahāyāna"). Emperor Zhongzong (r. 705-710) invited Śikṣānanda to return once again to China in 708, but he died of illness in 710 at the age of fifty-nine without beginning any new translation work. It is reported that after his cremation, his tongue remained untouched by flames—an indication of his remarkable erudition. (Source: "Śikṣānanda." In The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, 820. Princeton University Press, 2014. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46n41q.27.)

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