Śikṣā Nanda (實叉難陀, 652–710) means study Joy. He was from the kingdom of Yutian (于闐), or Khotan, present-day Hetian (和田), in Xinjiang, China. He was accomplished in the doctrines of Mahāyāna and Hīnayāna as well as other studies.
In 695, the first year of the Zhengsheng (證聖) years of Empress Wu (武后則天) of the Tang Dynasty (618–907), Śikṣā Nanda took the Sanskrit text of the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment (Buddhāvataṁsaka-mahāvaipulya-Sūtra) to Luoyang (洛陽), China’s eastern capital.
At the command of Empress Wu, in collaboration with Bodhiruci (菩提流志, 562–727) and Yijing (義淨, 635–713), he translated the text into Chinese at the Dabiankong Temple (大遍空寺) in Luoyang.
This 80-fascicle version (T10n0279) is more comprehensive than the 60-fascicle version (T09n0278) translated by Buddhabhadra (佛馱跋陀羅, 359–429) in the Eastern Jin Dynasty (316–420).
Altogether, Śikṣānanda translated, from Sanskrit into Chinese, nineteen sūtras in 107 fascicles, including the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of the Inconceivable State of Tathāgatas (T10n0301), the 7-fascicle version of the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra (T16n0672), and the Sūtra of the Prophecy Bestowed on Mañjuśrī, which is included in the Great Treasure Pile Sūtra (T11n0310) as its 15th Sūtra, in fascicles 58–60.
In 705, ŚikṣāNanda returned to his homeland. However, upon repeated invitations, in 708, the second year of the Jinglong (景龍) years, once again he went to China. Emperor Zhongzong (唐中宗) went outside the capital city to welcome him respectfully.
Śikṣānanda fell ill and died in the tenth month of 710, the first year of the Jingyun (景雲) years, at the age of fifty-nine. After Cremation of his Body, his tongue remained intact.
His disciples returned his relics and tongue to Yutian and had a memorial Pagoda built for enshrining them. Later on, a seven-story memorial Pagoda was erected at the place where he had been cremated.
It is called the Huayan Sanzang Pagoda, which means Flower Adornment Tripiṭaka Pagoda, because ŚikṣāNanda was the Tripiṭaka master who had translated this Sūtra, the name of which in Chinese is Flower Adornment.