Kumārajīva ［鳩摩羅什］ (344–413) (; Kumarajū): A Buddhist scholar and a translator of Buddhist scriptures into Chinese. Another account has him living from 350 through 409. His father was Kumārayāna, the son of a former minister of an Indian kingdom, who had renounced his right to his father’s position in order to become a monk. His mother was Jīvakā, a younger sister of the king of Kucha in Central Asia. When Kumārajīva was seven years old, his mother renounced secular life and traveled with him to India and several other countries to study Buddhism. As a result, Kumārajīva mastered several languages. He first studied Hinayana Buddhism and later received instruction in the Mahayana teachings from Shūryasoma. When he returned home, he spread Mahayana Buddhism, and his reputation became known as far away as China.
In 382 Fu Chien, ruler of the Former Ch’in dynasty, ordered General Lü Kuang and his army to invade Kucha and other countries, and to bring Kumārajīva back to Ch’ang-an, the dynastic capital. Lü Kuang took Kumārajīva prisoner but on the way back learned of the fall of the Former Ch’in dynasty. He decided to remain in Liang-chou, where he held Kumārajīva for some sixteen years. Finally, however, Kumārajīva made his way to Ch’ang-an in 401 at the invitation of Yao Hsing, ruler of the Later Ch’in dynasty. There he was given the position of teacher of the nation and immersed himself in the translation of Buddhist scriptures. According to A Collection of Records concerning the Tripitaka, he translated 35 works in 294 volumes, accomplishing this in a mere ten years. Prominent among his translations were those of the Lotus Sutra, the Larger Wisdom Sutra, the Smaller Wisdom Sutra, the Vimalakīrti Sutra, the Benevolent Kings Sutra, the Amida Sutra, The Ten Divisions of Monastic Rules, The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom, The Treatise on the Middle Way, The One-Hundred-Verse Treatise, The Treatise on the Twelve Gates, and The Treatise on the Establishment of Truth. Prized by later generations for their excellence and clarity, Kumārajīva’s translations profoundly influenced the subsequent development of Buddhism in China and Japan. Kumārajīva also fostered many disciples, more than three thousand by some accounts.