North side of South Square of Big Wild Goose Pagoda, north end of Yanta South Road, Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province
Dacien Temple: 50 Yuan RMB (student with ID: 30 Yuan RMB; free of charge for military personnel, retired and disabled and senior people older than 70 with ID)
Dacien Temple was built by the Crown Prince Li Zhi of Tang in the 22ed year of the Tang Zhenguan period of Emperor Taizong (648 AD), in memory of his deceased mother Queen Wende. This temple was grand and magnificent with a quiet environment, and was the biggest royal temple in Chang’an City. Master Tang Xuanzang was the Abbot here, managed the translation of Buddhist sutras and started one of the eight Chinese Buddhist schools, the School of Weishi (Vijnanavada). Hence, Dacien Temple became the birthplace of the School of Weishi (Vijnanavada). The doctrine of the School of Weishi (Vijnanavada) holds that all the rules (dharma) are ruled by shi (vijnana). And everything in the universe is realized by vijnana. Hence the name of Weishi (Vijnanavada).
In the 1st year of Tang Zhenguan period, Tang Xuanzang went to the west with a distance of 25,000 kilometers and arrived at the Buddhist Centre Nalanda Temple to get the Buddhist scriptures. He brought back 150 Sarira, 7 statues, and 657 volumes of Buddha scriptures and classics. He finished the translation of Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra (Dabore Jing), the Heart Sutra (Xin Jing), Vijnaptimatratasiddhi-sastra (Chengweishi Lun), and so on.
For the preservation of these scriptures, statues and relics, Sarira, Xuanzang personally supervised the construction of Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a 7-storey tower in the temple. Legend has it that in a Theravada Temple in India, the cook monk saw a flock of wild geese flying over the sky, and he thought: "If only I could get a goose to cook for the Abbot!” Just then, a goose fell down, hit the ground and died on the spot. This was the manifestation of the Bodhisattva who sacrificed himself for charity, for the sake of others. Monks in the temple were moved. They held a solemn ceremony and buried the goose. They also built a pagoda on the spot where the goose fell down, and named it the “Goose Pagoda”, in honor of this goose as the Bodhisattva's incarnation. The Tang Buddhist Master Xuanzang visited and paid his respects to the Goose Pagoda when he travelled in a pilgrimage for Buddhist scriptures in India, and used this name for the pagoda in Dacien Temple.
In Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, there are records of the geography, cities and towns, agriculture and local customs of 110 countries that he had been to and 28 countries that he only heard of during his journey to the West Regions. After 1,300 years, British archaeologists and Indian scholars had the English translations of Great Tang Records on the Western Regions and tracked the descriptions in ancient India maps, and revealed the history of the medieval India, including the symbol of India, the headstone of Ashoka Pillar. India historian Ali said: "Without the works of Xuanzang and Faxian, the rebuilding of Indian history is impossible.” Therefore, Dacien Temple has been very important in the history of Buddhism in China, and has attracted much attention in the Buddhist community.
Today, the Brahma chanting still comes from Dacien Temple. After thousands of years, it still has countless visitors with the burning incense. In Big Wild Goose Pagoda, there are also a lot of cultural relics, including the most precious two pieces of pattra-leaf Scriptures: with a length of 40cm and a width of 7 cm. There wasn’t any paper in ancient India, and people wrote on pattra leaves instead. All the 657 Buddhist scriptures that brough back by Xuanzang along the Silk Road were written in pattra leaves. There are numerous Sanskrits on them, and it is said that less than 10 scholars in the world can read them.