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In: Numen
In: Yoga Powers


The Gandhāran monk *Dhyānagupta (aka. *Jñānagupta, 528–605) is best known as a prolific chief translator serving at the Sui dynasty capital of Daxing 大興. But before serving the Sui, *Dhyānagupta was a Buddhist wanderer on the Silk Road as a missionary, as a translator of Buddhist texts, and as a refugee. Having made the long journey from Gandhāra to China across the southern route, by 557 *Dhyānagupta settled in the Northern Zhou 北周 state, where he worked as a translator with Jñānabhadra, Jinayaśas, and Yaśogupta. His translation activity came to a sudden halt with the Northern Zhou proscription of Buddhism in 574. After the proscription, *Dhyānagupta fled north, residing at the Türkish court of Tatpar Qaghan until being summoned to the new Sui regime in 586. This paper will use Chinese Buddhist histories and hagiographies to outline the Türkish patronage of Buddhism. I will argue that the life of *Dhyānagupta gives us a unique window into the role played by the Türks in the preservation of Buddhist books and learning during the Zhou proscription.

In: Beyond the Silk and Book Roads
In: Beyond the Silk and Book Roads
Rethinking Networks of Exchange and Material Culture
Silk Road studies has often treated material artifacts and manuscripts separately. This interdisciplinary volume expands the scope of transcultural transmission, questions what constituted a “book,” and explores networks of circulation shared by material artifacts and manuscripts. Featuring new research in English by international scholars in Buddhist studies, art history, and literary studies, the essays in Beyond the Silk and Book Roads chart new and exciting directions in Silk Road studies.
Contributors are: Ge Jiyong, George A. Keyworth, Ding Li, Ryan Richard Overbey, Hao Chunwen, Wu Shaowei, Liu Yi, Lan Wu, Sha Wutian, Michelle C. Wang, and Stephen Roddy.