An International Conference: From Xiangyuan to Ceylon: The Life and Legacy of the Chinese Buddhist monk Faxian (337-422)

An International Conference: From Xiangyuan to Ceylon: The Life and Legacy of the Chinese Buddhist monk Faxian (337-422)

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The Chinese Buddhist monk Faxian 法顯 (337-422) is renowned for his heroic pilgrimage to Central and South Asia, which brought him to a number of places of key importance for Buddhism, including Khotan, Udyāna, Gandhāra, Peshawar, Taxila, Tamralipti, and Ceylon. Faxian returned to China (Shandong) in 414, fifteen years after he had left in 399; he was already 62 when he left for the west. Although Faxian is now primarily remembered as a Buddhist pilgrim and translator (the Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya 摩訶僧祇律 and Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra 涅槃經 are two influential texts he translated), his extensive network extended far beyond Buddhist communities. Faxian’s impact upon East Asia requires attention from both Buddhist and non-Buddhist perspectives, within China and beyond.

This conference, exclusively devoted to the different aspects of the eventful life and far-reaching legacy of this complex monk and man, will be the first in a series of conferences on Buddhist cross-border and transcultural roles to be co-sponsored by the newly established Mount Wutai International Institute for Buddhism and East Asian Cultures 五臺山佛教與東方文化國際研究院 and UBC Buddhist Studies Forum, as a part of a multi-year, international and interdisciplinary partnership project on Buddhism and East Religions, recently funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) (www.frogbear.org).

The conference organizers plan to hold the conference in Shanxi 山西, China (primarily Faxian’s hometown Xiangyuan 襄垣,  in Changzhi 長治), between March 25-27, 2017. For scholars whose schedule allows them to do so, we will also arrange, either before or after the conference,  tours to several famous sites in Shanxi (especially Jinci 晉祠).

About thirty scholars, both from China and abroad, have already committed to join this conference. The conference organizers would now like to enlist five to eight additional scholars (especially young scholars from outside China) to join them in Shanxi. The organizing committee welcomes paper proposals on any aspect of Faxian’s complicated life, legacy and impact. In addition to covering all conference-related costs during the conference period, including meals and accommodation, a travel subsidy may also be provided to each of the selected panelists on the basis of need. Interested individuals should email their proposals, along with copies of their updated CV, to Jinhua Chen (jinhuachen2013@gmail.com) by November 30, 2016.