Along Huen Tsang's path

I have found travelogues to be more interesting when they have an angle to it. For example Walking the Bible is a journey from Egypt to Jerusalem along the path followed by Moses. Chasing Che is a motorcycle trip along the route that Che Guevera took. Jaya Ganga: In Search of the River Goddess is travel from the origins to the end of river Ganga and Chasing the monsoon is a journey of a man following the path of monsoons in India. All those are books I have enjoyed reading and now along similar lines there is a new book Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud by Shuyun Sun which follows the path taken by Huen Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim who toured India during in the 7th century.

Instead of trekking in the neighbourhood, however, she had a grander idea. As a history student, she had been fascinated by Huien Tsang, not because he is one of the most popular figures in Chinese folklore, but because so little is known about him.
The monk who travelled to India in the 7th century is generally regarded as a foolish man in China, as his more popular fictional self, the Monkey King, protagonist of one of China

10 thoughts on “Along Huen Tsang's path

  1. Quite interesting. I recall talking about Huein Tsang to a Chinese colleague and getting a blank stare. I tried all spellings / mispellings (Tsang, Sang, Xang etc) to make sure.
    More than surprise, I was shocked that she didn’t know of the famous traveller. But this article seems to clarify this more – if you’re never *taught* about Tsang, how would you ever know he existed.
    It was more proof that history is more subjective than objective …

  2. True..Travelogue is always interesting and in some cases the only source for understanding a place, or people..I have always been intrigued by the fact that not many Indians in the past (read as during the medieval or pre-Christ era), or at least none that I am aware of, made an effort to note down their experiences abroad or even across India….Considering the fact that India had trade links with many nations dating back to thousands of years, an account of experiences like those from many merchants of Venice would have been quite interesting….An account of India itself from Indians would have provided a native account about her especially in the pre-Christ era….Are you aware of any of our own Huen Tsangs or Marco Polos? Or, were Indians not interested in recording history?

  3. P@L, Megasthenes who was the Greek ambassador during the time of Chanakya/Chandra Gupta Maurya wrote a book called Indica about life in 3rd century BC India. I think that book was lost and only references to that survive.
    Das, I went through exactly the same conversation with a Chinese clasmate and she had no idea about Huien Tsang

  4. Among the books that I have come acoss, “chasing the mountain of light: across India on the trail of Kohinoor” by Kevin Rushby and “Arrow of the blue-skinned god: retracing the ramayana through India” by Jonah Blank are travelogues similar in nature. Interesting reads – both of them.

  5. Funny, I was talking to a Chinese friend of mine and I found out that the Chinese do not pronounce the name as ‘Hueng Tsang’ the way we do. When I described his journey, he recognized the name immediately. The next time I talk to him, I will find out the exact Chinese name and post it here.

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