'No Shadow at Luozhou': The Meaning and Significance of a Summer Solstice Event

Center for Buddhist Studies Colloquium with Bangwei Wang

Friday, April 08, 2005
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
243 Royce Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Yijing (I-tsing)'s Accounts of the Inner Law Sent Home from the South Sea (Nan-hai Ji-gui Nei-fa-zhuan) was a well-known work of the 7th Century that broadly described Buddhist disciplinary life in India and Southeast Asia during his time. In the book, while talking about how to reckon time according to observing sundial, Yijing said that on the day of the Summer Solstice "in contrast to other places no shadow is cast at Luozhou." Luozhou, roughly speaking, is today's Luoyang in China. It is located between the 34 and 35 degrees of the north latitude. From the astronomical point of view, at this latitude it is impossible that this happens at any time or in any season. Is this a mistake in Yijing's book or is there any other meaning behind it? It has become a question or riddle since the end of 19th century when J. Takakusu published his English translation of Yijing’s book. Takakusu explained that here "Luozhou" means probably Central India. Recently, Professor Wang discovered that in China at a place in Central China people can indeed see on the day of the Summer Solstice at an ancient observatory that there is "no shadow" in the sun. In the lecture, together with showing the photos taken at that place on June 21, the day of the Summer Solstice of 2004, Professor Wang will discuss the related questions and the meaning behind it.

Bangwei Wang got his PhD degree in Indian language and literature at Beijing University in 1987. In 1992 he was promoted professor in Sino-Indian culture and Buddhist studies at the Faculty of Oriental Studies where he works until today. Since 1984 he has published a number of academic books and articles, mostly in China, some also in Germany, France and India. These include the research on the history of Chinese Buddhist pilgrimage and the Accounts of Masters Xuanzang and Yijing, e.g. Biographies of the prominent monks who went in search of the law in the western regions during the Great Tang: A newly collated and annotated text, with an introduction and appendices (in Chinese, 1988, 2000), Accounts of the inner law sent home from the South Sea: A study with a newly collated and annotated text (in Chinese, 1995, 2000). Others are on the subject of the Buddhist Sino-Indian history in general sense, e.g. "Xie Linyun and his Explanations of the Fourteen Sanskrit svaras: The earliest approach to Indian phonology in mediaeval China" (in Chinese), "Buddhist Nikayas through Ancient Chinese Eyes" (in English), "The Indian Origin of the Chinese Buddhist Chan School's Patriarch Tradition" (in English), "Mahayana or Hinayana: A reconsideration on the yana affiliation of An Shigao and his School" (in English) and "New evidence on Wang Xuance’s missions to India" (in English).

Cost : Free

Sponsor(s): Center for Buddhist Studies, Asia Institute

Center for Buddhist Studies • 11385 Bunche Hall • Box 951487 • Los Angeles, CA 90095-1487
Tel: (310) 825-2089 • Fax: (310) 206-3555 • Email: buddhist@international.ucla.edu

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