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Hsuan Tsang - The epic travel and first account of Assam's history
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Hsuan-Tsang (Xuanzang/Hiuen Tsang) was a world-famous Chinese Budhdist Monk, traveler and scholar whose recorded accounts of India during his sixteen years long visit to the country is still considered as the greatest account of 7th century Indian history by any foreign traveler. His travel in India also included Kamrupa (then Assam) and his detailed and auhtentic writings about the region gave the first base to the Assam's factual history.

Hsuan-Tsang was born in 602 AD in China to a scholastic family. He obtained Budhdhist Monk at young age dreamed of travelling to India, a country where Buddhism was born and still the greatest learning place of buddhism. After an extremely rigorous and dreadful journey, Hiuen Tsang, put his first foot steps in Indian in 630 AD. Tsang visited almost all important buddhists piligrimage in India and also learned more about the religion in the famous Nalanda University.

Assam, then known as Kamrupa, was ruled by the great king Kumar Bhaskar Varman (Burman). Bhaskar Varman was the greatest king of Kamrupa, he not only strengthen the empire with military power, but also brought prosperity in education, culture and religion. He was a very learned king and he himself invited a scholar like Hiuen Tsang into his empire. Hiuen Tsang accepted this courteous invitation and visited Kamrupa during 642-643 AD. Hiuen-Tsang stayed in the capital of Bhaskar Varman for a month under the utmost respect and desire from the king and left a very good account of the Kamrupa region.

Statue of Hsuan Tsang in Nalanda University

Hiuen Tsang in his account described Kumar Bhaskar Varman as the "The aristrocatic King of eastern India". He was a devotee os Shiva and followed Shaivasim, but being a learned king, he patronaged Buddhism too. Tsang wrote - "The frontier of Kamrupa extends about 10000 'Li' (approx. 2720 km) and the capital is around 30 Li". Although the land has slopes, it's very productive. Local people are mostly involved in cultivation. People cultivates jackfruits and coconuts. These trees are planted very deftly. Dams are erected on rivers or lakes bringing forth the streams, which keep flowing all the year. " Huan Tsang also provided a detail account of the climate and people. "The climate of the region is tropical and wet. People belonging to this place are simple, honest and nodest by nature. They are aggressive at times. They have sharp minds and very intelligent. The people are fair in complexion with a copper or yellow tinge. They are short in height and have a flat nose." About the local language, Hiuen Tsang mentioned that "The language they speak varies from the laguage spoken in the central India." On the religion Tsang reprts - "Noatives of Kamrupa worshipped Gid and use to offer sacrifices to gratify their revered God. The empire has various temples beloging to various tribes. Although the king himself was a devout Saivite Brahmin, he was not opposed to the spread of Buddhism."

Bhaskar Varman's contemporary ally king of whole Northern India, Harshavardhan, was very much impressed by Hsuan Tsang's visit to Kamrupa. Harshvardhan invited Hsuan Tsang from Kamrup to Kannauj and honoured both Bhaskarvarman and Tsang.

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