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Ruixuan Chen

Academic Staff

Ruixuan Chen


  • Assistant to the HCTS Professorship of Buddhist Studies (Prof. Dr. Michael Radich)

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About Ruixuan Chen

Ruixuan Chen is assistant professor in Buddhist Studies at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS) since April 2018.

Chen’s main field of specialization is the history of Buddhism in ancient and early medieval South and Central Asia. He investigates, first and foremost, processes of scriptural formation, issues of canonicity, interplays between religious idea(l)s and practices, the institution of Buddhist kingship, etc., against the backdrop of the transmission of Buddhism from Indian subcontinent to various cultural spheres along the ancient Silk Routes. By dint of philological and historical methods, he works on primary sources written in a variety of languages, some of which died out around the turn of the first millennium and have yet to be fully deciphered. His work especially draws on manuscripts and inscriptions discovered in the Tarim Basin (present-day Xinjiang, China), which was such a kaleidoscope of diverse cultures and religions as the Mediterranean world in pre-modern times.

His most recent research is directed toward the identification and contextualization of a group of Mahāyāna sūtras, which found their way into the oasis kingdom of Khotan and were partially rendered into an eastern Middle Iranian language (i.e., Khotanese or Khotan Saka) no later than the 5th century CE. He is one of the awardees of the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Grants for Critical Editions and Scholarly Translations 2019, administered by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), for a collaborative project aimed at an English translation of a Sanskrit ‘Buddhist Yoga Manual’ (i.e., the so-called Yogalehrbuch) from Kucha.


Curriculum vitae

Born in 1987, Chen studied first at Fudan University in Shanghai (China), where he completed a BA in Chinese Literature and Linguistics (2009). During the years in Shanghai, he became enchanted with the ancient Indo-Iranian languages and forsook his former plan to investigate Classical Chinese poetry. His early interest in Indo-Iranian antiquity led him in due course to Germany, where he obtained a Magister Artium in Classical Indology, with minors in Tibetan Studies and Indo-European Linguistics, at the University of Munich (2014). He then joined Leiden University (Netherlands) for his doctoral training, under the supervision of Jonathan A. Silk. His doctoral dissertation, titled "The Nandimitrāvadāna: a living text from the Buddhist tradition", was successfully defended (2018) and awarded the rare judicium cum laude. Prior to joining the HCTS, he has held no teaching position elsewhere.

Selected publications

2016. Ruixuan Chen, Review of Matteo De Chiara, The Khotanese Sudhanāvadāna (2 vols.), Indo-Iranian Journal 59.2, pp. 187-215. Leiden: Brill.

2017. Jens-Uwe Hartmann and Chen Ruixuan, “Eine khotanische Bilingue aus Triratnadāsas Guṇāparyantastotra,” in Zur lichten Heimat: Studien zu Manichäismus Iranistik und Zentralsienkunde in Gedenken an Werner Sundermann, pp. 211-220, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

2018. Ruixuan Chen and Diego Loukota Sanclemente, “Mahāyāna sūtras in Khotan: Quotations in Chapter 6 of the Book of Zambasta (I),” Indo-Iranian Journal 61.2, pp. 131-175. Leiden: Brill.

2018. Ruixuan Chen, “An Opaque Pun: Tentative Notes on Kāśyapaparivarta §68,” Indo-Iranian Journal 61.4, pp. 369-295. Leiden: Brill.

2019. Ruixuan Chen, “Vignettes of Buddhist Asceticism: Jottings on Six Fragments in Tocharian B,” Central Asiatic Journal 61.2, pp. 217-256. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.