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English Phonetics Guṇavarman
Sort Name Guṇavarman
Chinese Script 求那跋摩‎
Birth:   367
Death:   431

Tibetan calendar dates


Biographical information

Gunavarman. (C. Qiunabamo; J. Gunabatsuma; K. Kunabalma 求那跋摩‎) (367–431 CE). A Kashmiri monk who was an important early translator of Buddhist vinaya and bodhisattva preceptive materials into Chinese. He was a prince of Kubhā, who was ordained at the age of twenty and eventually became known as a specialist in the Buddhist canon (trepiṭaka). Upon his father's death, he was offered the throne, but refused, and instead embarked on travels throughout Asia to preach the dharma, including to Java, where he helped to establish the Buddhist tradition. Various miracles are associated with the places he visited, such as fragrance wafting in the air when he meditated and a dragon-like creature who was seen ascending to heaven in his presence. In 424 CE, Guṇavarman traveled to China and was invited by Emperor Wen of the Liu Song dynasty to come to the capital in Nanjing. Upon his arrival, a monastery was built in his honor and Guṇavarman lectured there on various sūtras. During his sojourn in China, he translated some eighteen rolls of seminal Buddhist texts into Chinese, including the Bodhisattvabhūmi, and several other works associated with the bodhisattvaśīla, the Dharmaguptaka vinaya (Sifen lü), and monastic and lay precepts. Guṇavarman was a central figure in founding the order of nuns (bhikṣunī) in China and he helped arrange the ordination of several Chinese nuns whose hagiographies are recorded in the Biqiuni zhuan. (Source: "Guṇavarman." In The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, 337–38. Princeton University Press, 2014.

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