Thich Hang Dat: Kumarajiva “The Essential Explanation of The Method of Dhyāna” 禪法要解
A REAPPRAISAL OF KUMĀRAJĪVA’S ROLE IN MEDIEVAL CHINESE BUDDHISM:
AN EXAMINATION OF KUMĀRAJĪVA’S TRANSLATION TEXT ON “THE ESSENTIAL EXPLANATION OF THE METHOD OF DHYANA”
A THESIS PRESENTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENTOF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS IN RELIGIOUS STUDIES,
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST
For many centuries, Buddhologists have considered Kumārajīva as a strong advocate of Mahāyāna Buddhism and an equally strong opponent of Hīnayāna Buddhism. However, this assumption is debatable. My thesis addresses this assumption to determine its validity. Hence, I have reappraised his life, his role and contribution to Medieval Chinese Buddhism, as well as the cultural and social environments prior and contemporary to him. I especially paid attention to the
translation of the meditation texts such as The Essential Explanation of The Method of Dhyāna, to find evidence that either supports or disputes the assumption that Kumārajīva was an advocate of Mahāyāna only. It is my conclusion that Kumārajīva not only advocated Mahāyāna, but also Hīnayāna Buddhism throughout his life and works.