Last year some researchers from Oman tried to sail along an ocean route used by traders about four millennia back. They didn’t reach the other end as the boat sank. One of the best captured travels along an ancient route is the one done by the Japanese and Chinese along the silk route which resulted in a wonderful documentary, The Silk Road DVD Collection.
Another well known path is that traveled by Xuanzang (Huen Tsang) who spent a good part of his life in India visiting places like Nalanda, Punjab and Gaya. A recent travelogue on this route was Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud by Sun Shuyun. Now two Chinese Buddhist monks have decided to retrace those steps again. While Xuanzang did his trip entirely on foot, these monks will use all modes of travel. Their trip will be televised and they will also blog.
In addition to religious studies in Nalanda during their stay, the two monks will present a handwritten sutra by famous Chinese calligraphers to the Indian temple.
“The trip is of great significance in religious and cultural exchanges between the two nations,” Monk Mingxian said. Xuanzang’s pilgrimage to India, which was full of trials and tribulations, has become known to more people of coming generations in China largely through the classical fiction “Journey to the west”, commonly known to western readers as “Monkey King”.
Written by Wu Cheng’en ( 1510-1582), “Journey to the west” is one of the four Chinese literary classics. The other three are “The Water Margins”, “Dream of the Red Mansion” and “Romance of Three Kingdoms”. [Chinese monks begin pilgrimage to India]