BEIJING: Two senior BJP leaders have set out on a 11,050 km journey to connect with places traversed by Kumarajiva, the Indian Buddhist monk who brought Buddhism from India to China in the 4th century AD and left a lasting influence on the Chinese society and culture.
Tarun Vijay, a former MP, and Tejasvi Surya, the sitting MP from Bangalore South, set off their journey offering their prayers at the White Horse Pagoda in Dunhuang in China's Gansu province, where Kumarajiva's first arrival is recorded.
The pagoda commemorates Kumarajiva's white horse, which believed to have carried Buddhist scriptures all the way from Kucha to Dunhuang in China in 4th century AD.
"Though Chinese travellers like Xuanzang and Faxian are well known in India with their life stories mentioned in the text books, Kumarajiva, who had the biggest influence on the Chinese society and culture is hardly remembered and celebrated in India," Vijay said in a statement.
"He remains the strongest bridge between the two countries and the people hence we are here to celebrate his memory, to revive his great works in India and to reconnect with the Chinese youth through Kumarajiva, who is highly respected and studied in China," Vijay said.
Surya said the people knew very little about the great Indian monk who went to China taking the message of Buddha.
"This shows how little we know about the great Indian monks who went to China taking the message of Buddha and becoming great bridge of friendship. More such studies need to be launched," he said.
The Chinese scholars who participated in the launch of the journey on Tuesday included President of Sichuan university's Jinjiang College He Zhiwei, Director of South Asia Study Centre Sichuan university's Liu Jiawei and scholars Prof Liang Yuan Kang and Yao Yuxin.
Vijay said that he has been working on Kumarajiva's life and history for the last ten years.
He visited Mor stupa in Gobi Desert, near Kashgar in China's Xinjiang province earlier and plans to write a comprehensive book on Kumarajiva with pictures of the expedition.
They also brought with them specially collected sacred soil from the Sarnath Stupa and Ganga Water Kalash from Kashi to be offered at the Kumarajiva Temple on Thursday, the statement said.