Yan Fodiao, also known as Yan Diao, added the wordfo(Buddha) in his name after becoming a monk to show that he had some relationship withfo.He lived approximately in the second century. Since he was the first Chinese monk in Chinese Buddhist history and the first Buddhist scholar in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), Yan Fodiao possessed an important position in Chinese Buddhist history.
At that time, the Buddhism was just introduced intoChinaand was treated as a foreign religion. It was prohibited for a Chinese to become a monk while Yan Fodiao was an exception. Yan apprenticed to hierarch An Shih Kao tostudy Buddhism and helped translate sutras. Yan Fodiao was very smart. He could comprehend beyond his mentor throughout the courses of study and translation. With the development of his knowledge on Buddhism, Yan Fodiao became the first person of the Han nationality to produce Buddhist writings.
As the first Chinese monk and Buddhist scholar and translator, Yan Fodiao is one of the most important figures in Buddhist history although he has no biography. Among piles of his translationsFa Jing Jing(Legal Mirror Sutra) is the most important one, which was completed by Yan Fodiao and Iranian merchantAn Xuan Jushi.Yan Fodiao explained the sutras translated by An Shih Kao, which influences Chinese Buddhism greatly.