Huijiao (慧皎) 497~554
Huijiao was a Liang dynasty monk.
Huijiao’s most noted contribution was his authorship of the Biographies of Eminent Monks (《高僧傳》), based on Sengyou’s (僧祐) Chusanzangji Ji (《出三藏記集》) and Baochang’s (寶唱) Biographies of Famous Monks (《名僧傳》). The Biographies collected significant life stories of 257 monks over a period of 453 years from 67 (Emperor Ming of Han dynasty) to 519 (Emperor Wu of Southern Liang dynasty). This was the first time such a compilation of eminent monks was undertaken. This was done in Jiaxiang Monastery (嘉祥寺).
Huijiao justified the writing of the Biographies in a letter to an acquaintance as “for spreading the Way and explaining the Teaching, nothing surpasses eminent monks” (GSZ 14.4 T.422c) (Kieschnick 1997, 7). Spreading the way could be effectively done through powerful rulers, and so Kieschnick surmised that the Biographies was written for politically powerful figures. Emperor Yuan of Liang dynasty had a copy of the Biographies (Kieschnick 1997, 7). This book could also be written to provide monks with exemplars or ideals worth emulating (Kieschnick 1997, 54).
This compilation became an important foundation for the ensuing Continuation of the Biographies of Famous Monks (《續高僧傳》). The Continuation compiled by Huixuan of the Tang dynasty collected an additional 500 monks up to 645 (about 144 years). The subsequent Biographies of Famous Monks Compiled in the Song《宋高僧傳》was also influenced by Huijiao’s pioneering effort.
Huijiao also authored 《涅槃經義疏》 and 《梵網經疏》.
Kamata, Shigeo, and Shiqian Guan. 鎌田茂雄著；關世謙譯. 1982. Zhongguo fo jiao shi. 中國佛教史. Taibei Shi: Xin wen feng chu ban gong si. 臺北市： 新文豐出版公司. Pp. 74~75.
Kieschnick, John. 1997. The eminent monk: Buddhist ideals in medieval Chinese hagiography. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
Muller, Charles. Digital Dictionary of Buddhism. http://www.buddhism-dict.net. On June 4, 2009.
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