The 'Western Pilgrimage', also known as the ' Journey to the West ', is one of the 4 great Chinese classic novels in Chinese literature, published in the 16th century during the Ming dynasty and attributed to Wu Cheng'en. In English-speaking countries, the work is widely known as 'Monkey', the title of Arthur Waley's popular abridged translation
The novel is an extended account of the legendary pilgrimage of the Tang dynasty Buddhist monk Xuanzang ( 602-664 A.D.), known in India as Hiuen Tsang, who traveled to the "Western Regions", that is, Central Asia and India, to obtain Buddhist sacred texts (sūtras) and returned after many trials and much suffering. It retains the broad outline of Xuanzang's own account, 'Great Tang Records on the Western Regions', but the Ming dynasty novel adds elements from folk tales and the author's invention
In Indian history books Xuanzang is called Hiuen Tsang. He was a Chinese Buddhist monk who wanted to study Buddhism in India, and collect Buddhist texts to translate them into Chinese, so that Chinese scholars could study them.
He started his journey from China in 1629, travelling via Kyrgyztan, Uzbegistan, and Afghanistan, reaching India in 1630, where he spent 13 years. He passed through the Khyber pass, visited Taxila, Peshawar, Kashmir, Lahore, Mathura, Kannauj, Kaushambhi, Shravasti, Kapilavastu, Lumbini ( birthplace of Lord Buddha ), Kushinagar ( where Lord Buddha died ), Sarnath ( where he gave his first sermon in the deer park ), Varanasi, Pataliputra ( modern Patna ), Bodh Gaya ( where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment), Nalanda ( where Xuanzang spent 2 years in the great University there studying Buddhism, grammar, logic, Sanskrit, etc ) ), Bangladesh, Kannauj, Amravati, Nagarjunakonda, Kamrup, Kanchi ( capital of the Pallavas ), etc , He attended the 4th Buddhist Council in Kannauj, where he was applauded by Emperor Harshavardhan ).
Going back to China he wrote his book ' Great Tang Records of the Western regions ' .in 645 A.D. and translated 653 Buddhist Sanskrit texts which he had copied and brought back
This book was the basis on which the novel ' Western Pilgrimage ' was written during the Ming dynasty.
In the ' Western Pilgrimage ' mention is made of a monkey called Sun Wukong, who had rebelled against the heavens. He had many powers, and using these powers saved Xuanzang from many dangers on his journey, such as from demons, monsters, robbers, wild animals, etc. It is said that he could always recognize demons in disguise, which others could not.
In my opinion, the Indian people are like Xuanzang, on a long, difficult journey towards establishing a country whose people are prosperous, having decent lives, and a high standard of living. The monkey Sun Wukong are the patriotic, modern minded intellectuals of India , who will help the Indian people from avoiding dangers and pitfalls along this hard, long, dangerous journey, and can recognize fraudulent people, and expose them