The Biography of Lokakṣema in the Gaoseng zhuan: the first translation of Chinese Mahāyāna Sūtras


  • Prapakorn Bhanussadit DCI Center for Buddhist Studies
  • Wilaiporn Sucharitthammakul Philosophy and Religion Department, Faculty of Humanities, Kasetsart University
  • Maythee Pitakteeradham DCI Center for Buddhist Studies



biogaphy, Lokakṣema, Gaoseng zhuan, translation, Mahāyāna Sūtras


This article has endeavored to provide a deeper understanding of the biography of Lokakṣema [支樓迦讖] as found in the Gaoseng zhuan, the earliest translations of Chinese Mahāyāna Sūtras. It not only has presented a Thai translation of Lokakṣema's biography but also has delved into the crucial facets of his life, shedding light on the authentic texts attributed to him. This comprehensive exploration has served as a valuable resource for those engaged in the study of Lokakṣema's biography in Thai, offering fundamental insights into early Chinese Buddhism and the pivotal role played by Lokakṣema in establishing Mahāyāna Buddhism in China. The article has employed content analysis, drawing from primary sources, ancient Chinese scriptures, and contemporary research by scholars specializing in Lokakṣema's biographical content. The findings have revealed Lokakṣema's origins in the Yuezhi region and his arrival in China between 147-189 CE. Notably, he collaborated with the Indian monk Zhu Foshuo, and his teachings left a lasting impact, exemplified by his disciple Zhi Liang. Scholars, past and present, have relied on information from Chinese scriptures and specific translation styles to authenticate Lokakṣema's texts. The Mahāyāna sūtras translated by Lokakṣema have attested to his pioneering role in introducing Mahāyāna Buddhism to Chinese society and have served as models for subsequent translations. Studying Lokakṣema's life has provided valuable insights and has provided a basis for deeper investigations into the methods and mechanisms employed in translating Mahāyāna Buddhist scriptures during the Eastern Han Dynasty. This, in turn, has significantly enriched our comprehension of the evolution of Mahāyāna Buddhism within the context of China.


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How to Cite

Bhanussadit, P. ., Sucharitthammakul, W., & Pitakteeradham, M. . (2023). The Biography of Lokakṣema in the Gaoseng zhuan: the first translation of Chinese Mahāyāna Sūtras. Academic and Research Journal of Liberal Arts (Online), 18(2), 100–123.



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