Hyecho (Korean pronunciation: [hjeːtɕʰo]; 704–787), Sanskrit: Prajñāvikrama; pinyin: Hui Chao, was a Buddhist monk from Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.

慧超 also 惠超
Revised RomanizationHyecho

Hyecho studied esoteric Buddhism in Tang China, initially under Śubhakarasiṃha and then under the famous Indian monk Vajrabodhi who praised Hyecho as "one of six living persons who were well-trained in the five sections of the Buddhist canon."

On the advice of his Indian teachers in China, he set out for India in 723 to acquaint himself with the language and culture of the land of the Buddha.

Memoir of the pilgrimage to the five kingdoms of IndiaEdit

During his journey of India, Hyecho wrote a travelogue in Chinese named "Memoir of the pilgrimage to the five kingdoms of India" (Chinese: 往五天竺國傳, in Korean Wang ocheonchukguk jeon).

The travelogue reveals that Hyecho, after arriving by sea in India headed to the Indian Kingdom of Magadha (present-day Bihar), then moved on to visit Kushinagar and Varanasi. However Hyecho's journey did not end there and he continued north, where he visited Lumbini (present-day Nepal), Kashmir, the Arabs.[1] Hyecho left India following the Silk Road towards the west, via Agni or Karasahr,[2] to China where the account ends in 729 CE.

He referred to three kingdoms lying to the northeast of Kashmir which were "under the suzerainty of the Tibetans…. The country is narrow and small, and the mountains and valleys very rugged. There are monasteries and monks, and the people faithfully venerate the Three Jewels. As to the kingdom of Tibet to the East, there are no monasteries at all and the Buddha's teaching is unknown; but in [these above-mentioned] countries the population consists of Hu, therefore they are believers."[3]

Rizvi goes on to point out that this passage not only confirms that in the early eighth century the region of modern Ladakh was under Tibetan suzerainty, but that the people were of non-Tibetan stock.

It took Hyecho approximately four years to complete his journey. The travelogue contains much information on local diet, languages, climate, cultures, and political situations.

It is mentioned that Hyecho witnessed the decline of Buddhism in India. He also found it quite interesting to see the cattle roaming freely around cities and villages.

The travelogue was lost for many years until a fragment of it was rediscovered by Paul Pelliot in the Mogao Caves in China in 1908 and was subsequently translated into different languages over the years; the original version of Wang ocheonchukguk jeon. The original fragment is now in France.

Excerpt: Hyecho on JibinEdit

One of the important excerpts from Hyecho's work relates to his visit Jibin (Kapisa) in 726 CE: for example, he reports that the country was ruled by a Turk King, thought to be one of the Turk Shahis, and that his Queen and dignitaries practice Buddhism (三寶, "Triratna"):[4][5]

Text of the visit of Jibin by Hyecho: he reports that the Turk King, Queen and dignitaries practice Buddhism (三寶, "Triratna"). 726 CE.[4][6]


From Lampaka (覽波國, Kashmir), I again entered the mountains. After eight days journey I arrived at the country of Kapisa (Jibin 罽賓國)). This country is also under the authority of the king of Gandhara (建馱羅). During the summer the king comes to Kapisa and resides here because of the cool temperature. During the winter he goes to Gandhara and resides at that warm place because there is no snow and it is warm and not cold. In the winter the snows accumulate in Kapisa. This is the reason for the cold. The natives of the country are Hu (Barbarians) people; the king and the cavalry are Turks (突厥, "Tuque"). The dress, language, and food of this place are mostly similar to Tokharistan (吐火羅國), though there are small differences. Whether man or woman, all wear cotton shirts, trousers, and boots. There is no distinction of dress between men and women. The men cut their beards and hair, but the women keep their hair. The products of this land include camels, mules, sheep, horses, asses, cotton cloth, grapes, barley, wheat, and saffron. The people of this country greatly revere the Three Jewels (三寶). There are many monasteries and monks. The common people compete in constructing monasteries and supporting the Three Jewels. In the big city there is a monastery called Sha-hsi-ssu. At present, the curly hair (ushnisha, 螺髻) and the relic bones of the Buddha are to be seen in the monastery. The king, the officials, and the common people daily worship these relics. Hinayana (小乘) Buddhism is practised in this country. The land is situated in the mountains. On the mountains there is no vegetation. [It looks] as if the land had been burned by fire."

— Original text and translation of the Hyecho on Jibin.[7][8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Yang, et al (1984), pp. 52-58.
  2. ^ Sen (1956), p. 186.
  3. ^ (Petech, The Kingdom of Ladakh, p. 10), Rizvi (1996), p. 56.
  4. ^ a b Kuwayama, Shoshin (1976). "The Turki Śāhis and Relevant Brahmanical Sculptures in Afghanistan". East and West. 26 (3/4): 405–407. ISSN 0012-8376.
  5. ^ Su-Il, Jeong. The Silk Road Encyclopedia. Seoul Selection. p. 782. ISBN 978-1-62412-076-3.
  6. ^ Su-Il, Jeong. The Silk Road Encyclopedia. Seoul Selection. p. 782. ISBN 978-1-62412-076-3.
  7. ^ Jan, Yun-Hua; Iida, Shotaro; Yang, Han-Sung (1984). The Hye Ch'O Diary: Memoir of the Pilgrimage to the Five Regions of India (Religions of Asia Series) (English and Korean Edition). Asian Humanities Pr. pp. 50–51. ISBN 978-0895810243.
  8. ^ Paragraph 0977c05 in "T51n2089_001 遊方記抄 第1卷 CBETA 漢文大藏經". tripitaka.cbeta.org.


  • Sen, Surendranath (1956). India Through Chinese Eyes: Sir William Meyer Endowment Lectures 1952–53. University of Madras.
  • Fully digitized "Wang ocheonchukguk jeon" on International Dunhuang Project website
  • W. Fuchs (ed. and transl.), "Huei-ch'ao's Pilgerreise durch Nordwest-Indien und Zentral-Asien um 726," Sitzungberichten der Preußischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil-hist. Klasse, XXX, (Berlin, 1939): 426-469.

External linksEdit