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Chasing the Monk's Shadow

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  52 ratings  ·  15 reviews
In the seventh century AD, the Chinese monk Xuanzang (earlier spelt as Hiuen Tsang or Hsuan Tsang) set off on an epic journey to India to study Buddhist philosophy from the Indian masters. Travelling along the Silk Road, through the desolate wastes of the Gobi desert and the icy passes of Central Asia, braving brigands and blizzards, Xuanzang finally reached India, where h ...more
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published December 28th 2005 by Penguin Global
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Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
After re-reading Richard Bernstein's "In the footsteps" travelogue of the monk recently and hating it as much the second time as the first time I read it, I was delighted to discover that Mishi Saran had written her own book to trace the travels of the great Chinese translator and monk Xuanzang. This book was everything Bernstein's was not. She is fluent in the language and very respectful of the people she encounters along the way. A good sport and a free spirit, she leaves her life in Hong Kon ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
I was looking forward to read this book after reading its description, but disappointed after completing it. Hats off to the author for taking such an adventurous long journey. There are some parts of book which was interesting, but most of the book was kind of boring. I felt like some things are missing even though author tried to include Xuanzang's and her own travel experience.

This is my first travelogue(but I have gone through a fare share of travel blogs and documentaries) and may be my ex
Dalia Singh
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
I had different expectations from this book. the journey was great and kudos to the author for taking it, but the information was very superficial and didn't satisfy me. there are parts which are interesting, but overall, the book failed to impress. the context switching was random, there were parts where author's own ideas of things overpowered the actual account and the story telling itself was not good.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review
There are some books that one wishes went on forever, for the vicarious experience offered is incredible. This is one of those. Long after the pages have been completed, the journey promises to stay in my mind.

It is now exactly a decade since Mishi Saran started on her journey - to follow a monk who had himself made a journey of over 10000 miles, 14 centuries before her time. Xuanzang, who I last met in my history text from school, the monk with the neat backpack.

The book hooked me right from
Kedar Kulkarni
Oct 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Xuanzang pronounced Shwezang in the Chinese was an incredible monk and mishi Saran the author does a decent job catching up with him as she travel through china and the Indian subcontinent.The books style is a travel memoir with the travel being, following the footsteps of this monk he walked, she takes every possible vehicle imaginable.I would have liked a little more walking for some reason, and a little less personal anecdotes and more quotations from Xuanzang's original text.There is also on ...more
May 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book in a small bookstore in Kathmandu after reading the back "An Indian woman with a China craze, a Chinese Monk with an Indian obsession; we had the same schizophrenia, the monk and I. It seemed logical to take the same road." The author follows the footsteps of Xuanzang, the 7th century buddhist monk who traveled from China to India to find and translate the Yogacara Buddhist texts. She takes the silk road through Uzbekistan, Kyrgstan, and Afghanistan into various provinces o ...more
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
On the surface the book is about exploration of the great journey. Kudos to the author for taking on an exciting journey. The book has interesting tidbits of life along the silk road and parallel commentary from Xuan Tsang/sources. Yet, the author shows only a superficial interest in the monk's journey/psychology. Granted, this is a very difficult topic considering the geopolitical and culture difficulties. But the author does not seem drawn to Xuan Tsang as a person or history in general any mo ...more
Vamshi Krishna
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Mishi Saran traces the enthralling journey of the most famous historian xuangxang after 800 years of his monumental travel to the medivial India.The Mesmer hangs in the atmosphere while reading this book; the reader is filled with a nostalgia, something unknown that one longed for previously, but forgotten as the times passed, is forced to enter the reader's memory while scrolling these pages. the reader somehow finds himself in the enlightening journey, with xuanxuang,and the joy of travel.One ...more
Pramod Pant
It was a great enterprise taken up. But Mishi Saran floundered. It's sorrowful to be a woman who needs protection of men or of numbers, frequently of both.

One feels sad that half of us are still haunted by the feeling that they are potential victims of men to such an extent.

Contrast with the great monk's journey couldn't be starker.
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: travel readers
With this unique travel book, Mishi represents the perfect global citizen to me. The idea for this book came from her ability to blend her roots with her interests. Simultaneously telling the story of Xuanzang's journey and her own, Mishi writes with honesty, humor and heart.
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Such a fascinating idea, both in concept and execution. Wish I could travel the world like this as well.
Jan 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2011
A difficult book in terms of the language, but if you can handle that, then it's a very interesting read.
Anuradha Miraji
Good book of a woman, who went in the footsteps of her teacher.
Sep 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
liked her style...
Harpreet padda
rated it it was ok
May 02, 2017
Inderjeet Mani
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Oct 11, 2019
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Tom Carter
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Dec 05, 2014
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Chani Jensen
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Avinash Mamtora
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Mishi Saran’s first novel, The Other Side of Light, (HarperCollins India, 2012) was shortlisted for the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize. Her first book, a travelogue, Chasing the Monk’s Shadow: A Journey in the Footsteps of Xuanzang, (Penguin, 2005) was shortlisted for the 2006 Hutch Crossword Book Award and long-listed for the Lettres Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage. Her journalism has appear ...more

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