Records of the lives of the High Masters
Who Dared To Make Translations! 

-from the lectures of Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
Translated by Disciple Bhiksuni Heng Chˇ¦ih 

High Sanghin Vighna 1 was from India. His grandfather and father were both externalists who cultivated the worship of fire. Fire for them was the supreme ultimate, and they kept a fire constantly burning in their home, respecting, revering, and worshipping it, as one should the Buddha.

One day a sramana, who cultivated dharmas of the Small Vehicle and was an expert in the use of extremely efficacious mantras, passed by Vighna's household at dusk and asked to spend the night. He received permission from Vighna's father, but because the family cultivated an externalist way, they were reluctant to welcome a sramana.

"What are we going to do with him?" they worried, and finally told him, "You can stay here, but not in the house; you'll have to sleep outside." They were taking precautions lest someone try to destroy their religion. 

Applying his spiritual penetrations, the sramana recited a "fire extinguishing mantra" and their object of worship, the fire on their altar, died. Everyone in the family passed from initial alarm to panic. They rushed outside to bow before the sramana in repentance, and invited him inside to spend the night. They knew they had done something wrong.

The sramana then recited a "fire producing mantra" and the altar fire suddenly reappeared. The family of fire worshippers thought, "This is strange. We've been serving fire a long time, but we don't have his spiritual penetrations. It's miraculous!"

Upon seeing these awe-inspiring feats which far surpassed those of his family, Vighna believed in the sramana and wished to leave the home life to follow him and cultivate the Way. His parents, recognizing the power of the sramana, gave their consent. After he left the home life, Vighna concentrated on reading and reciting sutras. In one day he was able to read and learn to recite from memory twenty or thirty thousand words.

In the third year of the reign period Huang Wu, in the Eastern Wu dynasty, 2 Vighna went to the state of Wu 3 where he studied ChineseˇXremarkably slowly! Neither he nor his companion Lu Yen 4 could master the language, but nonetheless they proceeded to force some translations. How did they do it? They used dictionaries to look up every word. Since they translated in this way, their writing was stilted and cumbersome. They translated many small Buddhist Sutras this way.

The only existent copies were written out in large characters, and these sutras were lost when the original copies disintegrated. Nevertheless, the merit of these two Dharma Masters is great. Having previously been followers of an externalist way, they took refuge with the Triple Jewel and translated sutras at a time when no Chinese translations of sutras yet existed. It was much more difficult to translate then than it is today, when scientific devices help speed the process. Although Vighna's ability with the Chinese language was not very good, he dared to translate, and his courageous efforts should be remembered by all of us.


Buddhist Calendar

April 17 Birthday of the Great Master Ch'ang Jen

18 Birthday of Cundi Bodhisattva

   Birthday of the Venerable Master Hua

19 The Great Master Ch'ang Chih left the home life.

May   6 Birthday of Manjusri Bodhisattva. 

10 Birthday of Sakyamuni Buddha.

30 Birthday of Medicine Master Bodhisattva.

June  13 Birthday of Ch'ieh Lan Bodhisattva.

July   2 Birthday of Wei T'ou Bodhisattva.

14 The Great Master Ch'ang Jen's Enlightenment.

16 The Great Master Ch'ang Chih's Birthday.

18 Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva 's Enlightenment.

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