An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xu gaosengzhuan 續高僧傳

Mar 17, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Xu gaosengzhuan 續高僧傳 "Continued biographies of eminent monks", also known as Tang gaosengzhuan 唐高僧傳, is a collection of biographies of Buddhist monks compiled by the Tang period 唐 (618-907) monk Daoxuan 道宣. It is a sequel to Huijiao's 慧皎 book Gaosengzhuan 高僧傳 from the Liang period 梁 (502-557). The first version of the book was finished in 645, yet the transmitted 30 juan "scrolls" in fact end in the year 665. It includes not only biographies of Tang period monks but also supplements persons from the Southern and Northern Dynasties period 南北朝 (300~600) not included in Huijiao's original book, especially such from the north of China. The whole books included 498 biographies, with an appendix of 229 biographies. The structure of the chapters is the same as in the Gaosengzhuan, in which monks are grouped according to their activities and strenghts, but Daoxuan changed the names of some chapters (Shentong/yi 神通 to Gantong 感通, Wangshen 亡身 to Yishen 遺身, Songjing 誦經 to Dujing 讀經), unified the chapters Jingshi 經師 and Changdao 唱導 to the chapter Zake 雜科, and added the new chapter Hufa 護法 "Protectors of the dharma". Another difference to the Gaosengzhuan is that Daoxuan does not add eulogies (zan 贊) at the end of the chapters. He also included monks in his biographic collection that were still living during his time, like Huijing 慧淨, Huixu 慧休 or Fachong 法沖. The Xu gaosengzhuan is an important source of the history of Buddhism of the Southern and Northern dynasties period and its relation to politics and society. Is has been written much less care for details than the Gaosengzhuan, and some errors have crept in, like double biographies or wrong chronologies.
The Xu Gaosengzhuan is included in the Buddhist Canon Taishō Tripitaka 大正新脩大藏經 (T 2060). The most important modern edition has been published in 1991 by the Shanghai guji press 上海古籍出版社 as part of the the Gaosengzhuan heji 高僧傳合集.

1.-4. 譯經 Yijing Translators
5.-15. 義解 Yijie Commentators
16.-20. 習禪 Xichan Professionals in meditation (from the Chan/Zen School 禪宗, the Tiantai School 天臺宗, and the Three Stages School 三階教)
21.-22. 明律 Minglü Experts in the vinaya
23.-24. 護法 Hufa Protectors of the dharma
25.-26. 感通 Gantong Sensitivity
27. 遺身 Yishen Those leaving behind their body
28. 讀誦 Dujing/song Specialists preaching the sutras
29. 興福 Xingfu Monks arousing happiness and fortune
30. 雜科 Zake Miscellanous professionals
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 2251.