views updated


Daoxuan (596–667) was one of the most versatile and prolific Chinese monks of the medieval period. Son of a prominent official, he became a monk at an early age and soon earned a reputation for erudition and industry. Although sources disagree on Daoxuan's place of origin, he lived for most of his adult life in or near the Tang capital at Chang'an, where he worked for a brief period at the translation center of the great translator Xuanzang (ca. 600–664) and served as abbot of Ximing Monastery. Daoxuan's writings include a catalog of Buddhist texts, various historical works, numerous works on the monastic regulations, and records of his visionary encounters with divine beings.

Daoxuan's most influential historical works are a large compilation of accounts of monks titled Xu gaoseng zhuan (Further Biographies of Eminent Monks) and Guang hongming ji (Expanded Collection of the Propagation of Light), a collection of documents by more than 130 authors relating for the most part to debates between Buddhists and their detractors at court. Daoxuan's most important work on the monastic regulations, Sifenlü shanfan buque xingshichao (Notes on Conduct: Abridgements and Emendations to the Four-Part Regulations), attempts to provide a handbook for monastic practice based on the Dharmaguptakavinaya (Chinese, Sifen lü).

Various legends circulated about Daoxuan's life, the most famous of which were that a spirit placed a tooth of the Buddha in his protection and that he was the reincarnation of the sixth-century monk Sengyou.

See also:Biographies of Eminent Monks (Gaoseng zhuan); History; Vinaya


Shinohara, Koichi. "Changing Roles of Miraculous Images in Medieval Chinese Buddhism: A Study of the Miraculous Images Section of Daxuan's Ji-shenzhou Sanbao Gantonglu." In Images, Miracles, and Authority in Asian Religious Traditions, ed. Richard Davis. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998.

Shinohara, Koichi. "The Kaṣāya Robe of the Past Buddha Kāśyapa in the Miraculous Instruction Given to the Vinaya Master Daoxuan (596–667)." Chung-hwa Buddhist Journal 13 (2000): 299–367.

John Kieschnick