Hiuen Tsang visit to India

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Hiuen Tsang visit to India

Hiuen Tsang

Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim visited India during the reign of Harsha. He made an extensive tour of different parts of North and South India recording minute details of the standard of living of the people, their social, economic life, religion and culture, etc. He spent about 14 years 630-644 A.D. in Harsha’s capital, Kannauj receiving his hospitality. He compiled all his experiences in a book titled Si-Yu-Ki. Hiuen Tsang’s account is a veritable mine of information regarding the social, political and religious condition of 7th Century India.

According to Hiuen Tsang’s account, Kannauj surpassed the glory of Pataliputra in respect of pomp and splendor. Harsha convened a grand assembly at Kannauj in 642 A.D. It was attended by twenty leading kings and innumerable priests and monks representing Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The religious assembly began with a colorful procession in front of which a golden image of Lord Buddha was carried on by an elephant. After the procession was over, Harsha performed a ceremonial worship of Buddha and entertained the people with a dinner. Then in the assembly Hiuen Tsang explained the doctrines of the Mahayana school.

Hiuen Tsang also referred to a solemn festival which was held at the end of every five years at Prayaga at the sacred confluence of the Ganges and the Yamuna. The festival was held for 75 days. It was highlighted by worships, religious discourses, royal charities, etc. Several lacs of people including monks and priests attended the festival. Harsha erected a temporary shrine to Lord Buddha and after ceremonial worship of the image, Harsha made costly offerings as a mark of devotion. Harsha presented the wealth accumulated during the preceding five years and gave it away to the poor, Brahmins, saints of different religious faiths. He died in 646 or 647 A.D.

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