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Xaunzang And The Silk Roads

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In 629 C.E. Xaunzang, a young monk, set out on a quest of faith, a mission to attain, expand, and understand the teachings of the Buddha. Against the wishes of the emperor, Xaunzang would begin his journey as a fugitive seeking refuge in the night for travel. Unbeknownst to him, Xaunzang would return home from his journey a hero and champion for his faith sixteen years later in 645 C.E. Xaunzang's journey would lead him down the "Silk Road", a network of trade and commerce throughout Southeast and Central Asia. The road would bring Xaunzang across many miles, many cultures, and many kingdoms presenting many hardships, opportunities, and experiences along the way.

Xaunzang's journey would commence under great difficulty which forshadows the hardships that Xaunzang would face on his long journey. Forbidden by Emperor Taizong from setting forth on his quest Xaunzang must set out under the cover of darkness, encountering many who advise him to heed the Emperor's commands. Yet, Xaunzang holds firm to his mission and continues west toward the Taklamakan desert. It is in the Taklamakan desert that Xaunzang would encounter his first true hardship, the results of which would give Xaunzang's journey a special significance. After praying his way out of an assassination attempt, Xaunzang is stranded without water in the vastness of the Taklamkan desert. Miraculously, Xaunzang's horse is able to lead Xaunzang to safety and refuge at a watering hole and two days later to the oasis that was his original destination. The factors of Xaunzang's salvation seemed miraculous and stamped his quest with a seal of importance. This was only the first of many hardships that Xaunzang would encounter along his journey. Other hardships he would face include entanglements with foreign kings, assassination attempts, attacks by marauders, and kidnappings by pirates. Xaunzang comes out of these hardships unscathed and with a better understanding of his mission.

Xaunzang was ultimately victorious in his mission. This was the result of many factors including his Buddhist ideal of overcoming hardships in this life in order to achieve a better one in the next, the kindness and charity of the royals and dignitaries who accepted him along his journey, the notoriety he gain while on his journey, and pure luck. After narrowly surviving assassination attempts, attacks by marauders, and kidnappings by pirates Xaunzang's mission must have gained a kind of ordination in the eyes of Xaunzang and most assuredly push him forward in his quest. Xaunzang came across many cultures and customs all with kings or officials living in accordance with the people of the land. Some of the kings Xaunzang meets are of native birth, others of foreign land, but all have their own way of dealing with the traveling pilgrim. Without the help and charity of the kings who accepted Xaunzang would most likely have had to end his journey short of fulfilling his task. Xaunzang receives aid from many kings along his journey, the first being the very first kingdom that Xaunzang encounters on his journey. After Xaunzang refusal to stay and the King of Turfans threat of captivity, the king renounces

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