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Report Siddharta's last secret : the author, Erich Follath follows in the footsteps of a legendary monk

Marco Polo, and maybe even the Ibn Battuta is known as great travellers of the middle ages whose curiosity led them to the borders of the then known world. But

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Report Siddharta's last secret : the author, Erich Follath follows in the footsteps of a legendary monk

Marco Polo, and maybe even the Ibn Battuta is known as great travellers of the middle ages whose curiosity led them to the borders of the then known world. But Xuanzang, a Buddhist monk from China, which was 629 of Luoyang in Henan against the will of the Emperor up to overcome in order to cross deserts and mountains to find the original writings of the religion's founder, Siddhartha Gautama? He used the silk road, today, at the latest, since 2013, President Xi Jinpings announced the construction of a "silk road belt" and "Maritime silk road" of the 21st century. Century has gained importance. China in mind more than the revival of old trade routes. China is officially the networking of Eurasia, the development of new economic areas and the political stability in the Region.

The political scientist and Journalist Erich Follath has a soft spot for Asia, and for a year on the road, to follow the traces of this in India and China revered monk – an adventurous company that led him powers only to the two major Asian, but also in the Central Asian States to be involved in the new silk road of China. Especially in China, the monk monuments.

on-the-Go in the footsteps of the silk, all the pictures in street view 1 of 6Foto: Ekaterina Khvan12.07.2012 15:56Auf the traces of the historical silk road can transform tourists in Kyrgyzstan. Ekaterina Khvan, Kyrgyz...previous Next

In "Siddharta's last secret. A journey on the silk road to the sources of Buddhism“ takes Follath in 13 reports in an attempt to be on the one hand, the historical figure of Xuanzang's and his work, and to search, on the other hand, in the world of today to the footsteps of the great Buddhist scholars. In Xuanzang's serves him the book "journey to the West" as a guide.

He was a despotic Emperor had directed first describes the life of this exceptional monk who grew up to 600 in poor conditions at Luoyang on the Yellow river in the turmoil of the times, in which almost the realm. Probably, it was thanks to his Buddhist mother, he has to Believe, after the sudden death of their parents, the example of his brother following with the Buddhist. He gets twelve years in the "monastery of the White horse" is one of the rare government scholarships, and power in spite of political turmoil, rapidly career. But the more Xuanzang deals with the Buddhist teaching, the more doubts come to him, whether the Chinese Translators have always worked correctly, whether you could have enough Sanskrit, which he learned in addition to other languages. He decided, come what may travel, in the Buddha's home in India, the original writings of track to bring you back to China and translate there. This project succeeds to an almost 17-year-old adventurous journey.

Video 05.07.2016, 07:16 Uhr01:48 Min.Dead pants on the silk road

The journey leads Follath of Luonyang to Turfan in China, to Bishkek in modern Kyrgyzstan, to Samarkand in Uzbekistan, the former metropolis on the silk road, Peshawar in Pakistan, through India, to Nalanda, where you would like to leave with a new University Tradition of scholarship under Xuanzang resurgence. Seen in this way, the legacy of Xuanzang's in India and China is alive, but mainly in Xian, where the journey of the scientist ended and the famous wild goose pagoda to witness from the monastery, he, the friend of the Emperor, had once founded.

Xuanzang is in the reports and, thus, the presence of the cities more or less present. But Follath experienced on his journey to a region of the world that is in a rapid transformation process. Despite all the change, there are constants: "The great Bazaar of the city, the traveler would know of at that time in any case. All the indications are that the type of the presented Goods and their arrangement, nothing has changed,“ Follath in Samarkand. But the "Singing dunes" in China, he is amazed not bad, as the tourists themselves to pay at vending machines with credit card "the current Bank statement will be sent in a matter of seconds on the mobile phone".

Follath, the question often arises, what China seeks with its silk road initiative, really? It is just a selfless promotion of the economy for the neighbors, or the need to make as many States as possible with loans? And China still uses Confucianism and Buddhism as a soft power, causing India concern. Because there, in the mother country of Buddhism, where only 1.5 percent of the population are Buddhists, not to deal so expertly with the legacy of Xuanzang's like in China, the power in the countries of the Region, a lot of advertising. About Kyrgyzstan embarking on the Advertise in China, was less a matter of the heart rather than a pragmatic decision, get to hear Follath. He speaks with many people, taxi drivers, students, and Official, and portrays a colorful picture full of contradictions from Central Asia.

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Daniel Kestenholz

Erich Follath: Siddharta's last secret. A journey on the silk road to the sources of Buddhism. DVA, Munich 2018. 382 pages, 24 €.

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