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Etext prepared by John Bickers, jbickers@ihug.co.nz
and Dagny, dagnyj@hotmail.com


Being an Account by the Chinese Monk Fa-Hien of his
Travels in India and Ceylon (A.D. 399-414) in Search of the
Buddhist Books of Discipline

Translated and annotated
with a Corean recension of the Chinese text




Several times during my long residence in Hong Kong I endeavoured to
read through the "Narrative of Fa-hien;" but though interested with
the graphic details of much of the work, its columns bristled so
constantly--now with his phonetic representations of Sanskrit words,
and now with his substitution for them of their meanings in Chinese
characters, and I was, moreover, so much occupied with my own special
labours on the Confucian Classics, that my success was far from
satisfactory. When Dr. Eitel's "Handbook for the Student of Chinese
Buddhism" appeared in 1870, the difficulty occasioned by the Sanskrit
words and names was removed, but the other difficulty remained; and I
was not able to look into the book again for several years. Nor had I
much inducement to do so in the two copies of it which I had been able
to procure, on poor paper, and printed from blocks badly cut at first,
and so worn with use as to yield books the reverse of attractive in
their appearance to the student.

In the meantime I kept studying the subject of Buddhism from various
sources; and in 1878 began to lecture, here in Oxford, on the Travels
with my Davis Chinese scholar, who was at the same time Boden Sanskrit
scholar. As we went on, I wrote out a translation in English for my
own satisfaction of nearly half the narrative. In the beginning of
last year I made Fa-hien again the subject of lecture, wrote out a
second translation, independent of the former, and pushed on till I
had completed the whole.

The want of a good and clear text had been supplied by my friend, Mr.
Bunyiu Nanjio, who sent to me from Japan a copy, the text of which is
appended to the translation and notes, and of the nature of which some
account is given in the Introduction, and towards the end of this

The present work consists of three parts: the Translation of Fa-hien's
Narrative of his Travels; copious Notes; and the Chinese Text of my
copy from Japan.

It is for the Translation that I hold myself more especially
responsible. Portions of it were written out three times, and the
whole of it twice. While preparing my own version I made frequent
reference to previous translations:--those of M. Abel Remusat, "Revu,
complete, et augmente d'eclaircissements nouveaux par MM. Klaproth et
Landress" (Paris, 1836); of the Rev. Samuel Beal (London, 1869), and
his revision of it, prefixed to his "Buddhist Records of the Western
World" (Trubner's Oriental Series, 1884); and of Mr. Herbert A. Giles,
of H.M.'s Consular Service in China (1877). To these I have to add a
series of articles on "Fa-hsien and his English Translators," by Mr.
T. Watters, British Consul at I-Chang (China Review, 1879, 1880).
Those articles are of the highest value, displaying accuracy of
Chinese scholarship and an extensive knowledge of Buddhism. I have
regretted that Mr. Watters, while reviewing others, did not himself
write out and publish a version of the whole of Fa-hien's narrative.
If he had done so, I should probably have thought that, on the whole,
nothing more remained to be done for the distinguished Chinese pilgrim
in the way of translation. Mr. Watters had to judge of the comparative
merits of the versions of Beal and Giles, and pronounce on the many
points of contention between them. I have endeavoured to eschew those
matters, and have seldom made remarks of a critical nature in defence
of renderings of my own.

The Chinese narrative runs on without any break. It was Klaproth who
divided Remusat's translation into forty chapters. The division is
helpful to the reader, and I have followed it excepting in three or
four instances. In the reprinted Chinese text the chapters are
separated by a circle in the column.

In transliterating the names of Chinese characters I have generally
followed the spelling of Morrison rather than the Pekinese, which is
now in vogue. We cannot tell exactly what the pronunciation of them
was, about fifteen hundred years ago, in the time of Fa-hien; but the
southern mandarin must be a shade nearer to it than that of Peking at
the present day. In transliterating the Indian names I have for the
most part followed Dr. Eitel, with such modification as seemed good
and in harmony with growing usage.

For the Notes I can do little more than claim the merit of selection
and condensation. My first object in them was to explain what in the
text required explanation to an English reader. All Chinese texts, and
Buddhist texts especially, are new to foreign students. One has to do
for them what many hundreds of the ablest scholars in Europe have done
for the Greek and Latin Classics during several hundred years, and
what the thousands of critics and commentators have been doing of our
Sacred Scriptures for nearly eighteen centuries. There are few
predecessors in the field of Chinese literature into whose labours
translators of the present century can enter. This will be received, I
hope, as a sufficient apology for the minuteness and length of some of
the notes. A second object in them was to teach myself first, and then
others, something of the history and doctrines of Buddhism. I have
thought that they might be learned better in connexion with a lively
narrative like that of Fa-hien than by reading didactic descriptions
and argumentative books. Such has been my own experience. The books
which I have consulted for these notes have been many, besides Chinese
works. My principal help has been the full and masterly handbook of
Eitel, mentioned already, and often referred to as E.H. Spence Hardy's
"Eastern Monachism" (E.M.) and "Manual of Buddhism" (M.B.) have been
constantly in hand, as well as Rhys Davids' Buddhism, published by the
Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, his Hibbert Lectures, and
his Buddhist Suttas in the Sacred Books of the East, and other
writings. I need not mention other authorities, having endeavoured
always to specify them where I make use of them. My proximity and
access to the Bodleian Library and the Indian Institute have been of
great advantage.

I may be allowed to say that, so far as my own study of it has gone, I
think there are many things in the vast field of Buddhist literature
which still require to be carefully handled. How far, for instance,
are we entitled to regard the present Sutras as genuine and
sufficiently accurate copies of those which were accepted by the
Councils before our Christian era? Can anything be done to trace the
rise of the legends and marvels of Sakyamuni's history, which were
current so early (as it seems to us) as the time of Fa-hien, and which
startle us so frequently by similarities between them and narratives
in our Gospels? Dr. Hermann Oldenberg, certainly a great authority on
Buddhistic subjects, says that "a biography of Buddha has not come
down to us from ancient times, from the age of the Pali texts; and, we
can safely say, no such biography existed then" ("Buddha--His Life,
His Doctrine, His Order," as translated by Hoey, p. 78). He has also
(in the same work, pp. 99, 416, 417) come to the conclusion that the
hitherto unchallenged tradition that the Buddha was "a king's son"
must be given up. The name "king's son" (in Chinese {...}), always
used of the Buddha, certainly requires to be understood in the highest
sense. I am content myself to wait for further information on these
and other points, as the result of prolonged and careful research.

Dr. Rhys Davids has kindly read the proofs of the Translation and
Notes, and I most certainly thank him for doing so, for his many
valuable corrections in the Notes, and for other suggestions which I
have received from him. I may not always think on various points
exactly as he does, but I am not more forward than he is to say with

"Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri."

I have referred above, and also in the Introduction, to the Corean
text of Fa-hien's narrative, which I received from Mr. Nanjio. It is
on the whole so much superior to the better-known texts, that I
determined to attempt to reproduce it at the end of the little volume,
so far as our resources here in Oxford would permit. To do so has not
been an easy task. The two fonts of Chinese types in the Clarendon
Press were prepared primarily for printing the translation of our
Sacred Scriptures, and then extended so as to be available for
printing also the Confucian Classics; but the Buddhist work
necessarily requires many types not found in them, while many other
characters in the Corean recension are peculiar in their forms, and
some are what Chinese dictionaries denominate "vulgar." That we have
succeeded so well as we have done is owing chiefly to the
intelligence, ingenuity, and untiring attention of Mr. J. C. Pembrey,
the Oriental Reader.

The pictures that have been introduced were taken from a superb
edition of a History of Buddha, republished recently at Hang-chau in
Cheh-kiang, and profusely illustrated in the best style of Chinese
art. I am indebted for the use of it to the Rev. J. H. Sedgwick,
University Chinese Scholar.

James Legge.

June, 1886.


The accompanying Sketch-Map, taken in connexion with the notes on the
different places in the Narrative, will give the reader a sufficiently
accurate knowledge of Fa-hien's route.

There is no difficulty in laying it down after he crossed the Indus
from east to west into the Punjab, all the principal places, at which
he touched or rested, having been determined by Cunningham and other
Indian geographers and archaeologists. Most of the places from Ch'ang-
an to Bannu have also been identified. Woo-e has been put down as near
Kutcha, or Kuldja, in 43d 25s N., 81d 15s E. The country of K'ieh-ch'a
was probably Ladak, but I am inclined to think that the place where
the traveller crossed the Indus and entered it must have been further
east than Skardo. A doubt is intimated on page 24 as to the
identification of T'o-leih with Darada, but Greenough's "Physical and
Geological Sketch-Map of British India" shows "Dardu Proper," all
lying on the east of the Indus, exactly in the position where the
Narrative would lead us to place it. The point at which Fa-hien
recrossed the Indus into Udyana on the west of it is unknown.
Takshasila, which he visited, was no doubt on the west of the river,
and has been incorrectly accepted as the Taxila of Arrian in the
Punjab. It should be written Takshasira, of which the Chinese
phonetisation will allow;--see a note of Beal in his "Buddhist Records
of the Western World," i. 138.

We must suppose that Fa-hien went on from Nan-king to Ch'ang-an, but
the Narrative does not record the fact of his doing so.


Life of Fa-Hien; Genuineness and Integrity of the Text of his
Narrative; Number of the Adherents of Buddhism.

1. Nothing of great importance is known about Fa-hien in addition to
what may be gathered from his own record of his travels. I have read
the accounts of him in the "Memoirs of Eminent Monks," compiled in
A.D. 519, and a later work, the "Memoirs of Marvellous Monks," by the
third emperor of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1403-1424), which, however, is
nearly all borrowed from the other; and all in them that has an
appearance of verisimilitude can be brought within brief compass.

His surname, they tell us, was Kung, and he was a native of Wu-yang in
P'ing-Yang, which is still the name of a large department in Shan-hsi.
He had three brothers older than himself; but when they all died
before shedding their first teeth, his father devoted him to the
service of the Buddhist society, and had him entered as a Sramanera,
still keeping him at home in the family. The little fellow fell
dangerously ill, and the father sent him to the monastery, where he
soon got well and refused to return to his parents.

When he was ten years old, his father died; and an uncle, considering
the widowed solitariness and helplessness of the mother, urged him to
renounce the monastic life, and return to her, but the boy replied, "I
did not quit the family in compliance with my father's wishes, but
because I wished to be far from the dust and vulgar ways of life. This
is why I chose monkhood." The uncle approved of his words and gave
over urging him. When his mother also died, it appeared how great had
been the affection for her of his fine nature; but after her burial he
returned to the monastery.

On one occasion he was cutting rice with a score or two of his fellow-
disciples, when some hungry thieves came upon them to take away their
grain by force. The other Sramaneras all fled, but our young hero
stood his ground, and said to the thieves, "If you must have the
grain, take what you please. But, Sirs, it was your former neglect of
charity which brought you to your present state of destitution; and
now, again, you wish to rob others. I am afraid that in the coming
ages you will have still greater poverty and distress;--I am sorry for
you beforehand." With these words he followed his companions into the
monastery, while the thieves left the grain and went away, all the
monks, of whom there were several hundred, doing homage to his conduct
and courage.

When he had finished his noviciate and taken on him the obligations of
the full Buddhist orders, his earnest courage, clear intelligence, and
strict regulation of his demeanour were conspicuous; and soon after,
he undertook his journey to India in search of complete copies of the
Vinaya-pitaka. What follows this is merely an account of his travels
in India and return to China by sea, condensed from his own narrative,
with the addition of some marvellous incidents that happened to him,
on his visit to the Vulture Peak near Rajagriha.

It is said in the end that after his return to China, he went to the
capital (evidently Nanking), and there, along with the Indian Sramana
Buddha-bhadra, executed translations of some of the works which he had
obtained in India; and that before he had done all that he wished to
do in this way, he removed to King-chow (in the present Hoo-pih), and
died in the monastery of Sin, at the age of eighty-eight, to the great
sorrow of all who knew him. It is added that there is another larger
work giving an account of his travels in various countries.

Such is all the information given about our author, beyond what he
himself has told us. Fa-hien was his clerical name, and means
"Illustrious in the Law," or "Illustrious master of the Law." The Shih
which often precedes it is an abbreviation of the name of Buddha as
Sakyamuni, "the Sakya, mighty in Love, dwelling in Seclusion and
Silence," and may be taken as equivalent to Buddhist. It is sometimes
said to have belonged to "the eastern Tsin dynasty" (A.D. 317-419),
and sometimes to "the Sung," that is, the Sung dynasty of the House of
Liu (A.D. 420-478). If he became a full monk at the age of twenty, and
went to India when he was twenty-five, his long life may have been
divided pretty equally between the two dynasties.

2. If there were ever another and larger account of Fa-hien's travels
than the narrative of which a translation is now given, it has long
ceased to be in existence.

In the Catalogue of the imperial library of the Suy dynasty (A.D. 589-
618), the name Fa-hien occurs four times. Towards the end of the last
section of it (page 22), after a reference to his travels, his labours
in translation at Kin-ling (another name for Nanking), in conjunction
with Buddha-bhadra, are described. In the second section, page 15, we
find "A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms;"--with a note, saying that it
was the work of the "Sramana, Fa-hien;" and again, on page 13, we have
"Narrative of Fa-hien in two Books," and "Narrative of Fa-hien's
Travels in one Book." But all these three entries may possibly belong
to different copies of the same work, the first and the other two
being in separate subdivisions of the Catalogue.

In the two Chinese copies of the narrative in my possession the title
is "Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms." In the Japanese or Corean
recension subjoined to this translation, the title is twofold; first,
"Narrative of the Distinguished Monk, Fa-hien;" and then, more at
large, "Incidents of Travels in India, by the Sramana of the Eastern
Tsin, Fa-hien, recorded by himself."

There is still earlier attestation of the existence of our little work
than the Suy Catalogue. The Catalogue Raisonne of the imperial library
of the present dynasty (chap. 71) mentions two quotations from it by
Le Tao-yuen, a geographical writer of the dynasty of the Northern Wei
(A.D. 386-584), one of them containing 89 characters, and the other
276; both of them given as from the "Narrative of Fa-hien."

In all catalogues subsequent to that of Suy our work appears. The
evidence for its authenticity and genuineness is all that could be
required. It is clear to myself that the "Record of Buddhistic
Kingdoms" and the "Narrative of his Travels by Fa-hien" were
designations of one and the same work, and that it is doubtful whether
any larger work on the same subject was ever current. With regard to
the text subjoined to my translation, it was published in Japan in
1779. The editor had before him four recensions of the narrative;
those of the Sung and Ming dynasties, with appendixes on the names of
certain characters in them; that of Japan; and that of Corea. He
wisely adopted the Corean text, published in accordance with a royal
rescript in 1726, so far as I can make out; but the different readings
of the other texts are all given in top-notes, instead of foot-notes
as with us, this being one of the points in which customs in the east
and west go by contraries. Very occasionally, the editor indicates by
a single character, equivalent to "right" or "wrong," which reading in
his opinion is to be preferred. In the notes to the present
republication of the Corean text, S stands for Sung, M for Ming, and J
for Japanese; R for right, and W for wrong. I have taken the trouble
to give all the various readings (amounting to more than 300), partly
as a curiosity and to make my text complete, and partly to show how,
in the transcription of writings in whatever language, such variations
are sure to occur,

"maculae, quas aut incuria fudit,
Aut humana parum cavit nature,"

while on the whole they very slightly affect the meaning of the

The editors of the Catalogue Raisonne intimate their doubts of the
good taste and reliability of all Fa-hien's statements. It offends
them that he should call central India the "Middle Kingdom," and
China, which to them was the true and only Middle Kingdom, but "a
Border land;"--it offends them as the vaunting language of a Buddhist
writer, whereas the reader will see in the expressions only an
instance of what Fa-hien calls his "simple straightforwardness."

As an instance of his unreliability they refer to his account of the
Buddhism of Khoten, whereas it is well known, they say, that the
Khoteners from ancient times till now have been Mohammedans;--as if
they could have been so 170 years before Mohammed was born, and 222
years before the year of the Hegira! And this is criticism in China.
The Catalogue was ordered by the K'ien-lung emperor in 1722. Between
three and four hundred of the "Great Scholars" of the empire were
engaged on it in various departments, and thus egregiously ignorant
did they show themselves of all beyond the limits of their own
country, and even of the literature of that country itself.

Much of what Fa-hien tells his readers of Buddhist miracles and
legends is indeed unreliable and grotesque; but we have from him the
truth as to what he saw and heard.

3. In concluding this introduction I wish to call attention to some
estimates of the number of Buddhists in the world which have become
current, believing, as I do, that the smallest of them is much above
what is correct.

i. In a note on the first page of his work on the Bhilsa Topes (1854),
General Cunningham says: "The Christians number about 270 millions;
the Buddhists about 222 millions, who are distributed as follows:--
China 170 millions, Japan 25, Anam 14, Siam 3, Ava 8, Nepal 1, and
Ceylon 1; total, 222 millions."

ii. In his article on M. J. Barthelemy Saint Hilaire's "Le Bouddha et
sa Religion," republished in his "Chips from a German Workshop," vol.
i. (1868), Professor Max Muller (p. 215) says, "The young prince
became the founder of a religion which, after more than two thousand
years, is still professed by 455 millions of human beings," and he
appends the following note: "Though truth is not settled by
majorities, it would be interesting to know which religion counts at
the present moment the largest numbers of believers. Berghaus, in his
'Physical Atlas,' gives the following division of the human race
according to religion:--'Buddhists 31.2 per cent, Christians 30.7,
Mohammedans 15.7, Brahmanists 13.4, Heathens 8.7, and Jews 0.3.' As
Berghaus does not distinguish the Buddhists in China from the
followers of Confucius and Laotse, the first place on the scale really
belongs to Christianity. It is difficult to say to what religion a man
belongs, as the same person may profess two or three. The emperor
himself, after sacrificing according to the ritual of Confucius,
visits a Tao-sse temple, and afterwards bows before an image of Fo in
a Buddhist chapel. ('Melanges Asiatiques de St. Petersbourg,' vol. ii.
p. 374.)"

iii. Both these estimates are exceeded by Dr. T. W. Rhys Davids
(intimating also the uncertainty of the statements, and that numbers
are no evidence of truth) in the introduction to his "Manual of
Buddhism." The Buddhists there appear as amounting in all to 500
millions:--30 millions of Southern Buddhists, in Ceylon, Burma, Siam,
Anam, and India (Jains); and 470 millions of North Buddhists, of whom
nearly 33 millions are assigned to Japan, and 414,686,974 to the
eighteen provinces of China proper. According to him, Christians
amount to about 26 per cent of mankind, Hindus to about 13,
Mohammedans to about 12 1/2, Buddhists to about 40, and Jews to about

In regard to all these estimates, it will be observed that the immense
numbers assigned to Buddhism are made out by the multitude of Chinese
with which it is credited. Subtract Cunningham's 170 millions of
Chinese from his total of 222, and there remains only 52 millions of
Buddhists. Subtract Davids' (say) 414 1/2 millions of Chinese from his
total of 500, and there remain only 85 1/2 millions for Buddhism. Of
the numbers assigned to other countries, as well as of their whole
populations, I am in considerable doubt, excepting in the cases of
Ceylon and India; but the greatness of the estimates turns upon the
immense multitudes said to be in China. I do not know what total
population Cunningham allowed for that country, nor on what principal
he allotted 170 millions of it to Buddhism;--perhaps he halved his
estimate of the whole, whereas Berghaus and Davids allotted to it the
highest estimates that have been given of the people.

But we have no certain information of the population of China. At an
interview with the former Chinese ambassador, Kwo Sung-tao, in Paris,
in 1878, I begged him to write out for me the amount, with the
authority for it, and he assured me that it could not be done. I have
read probably almost everything that has been published on the
subject, and endeavoured by methods of my own to arrive at a
satisfactory conclusion;--without reaching a result which I can
venture to lay before the public. My impression has been that 400
millions is hardly an exaggeration.

But supposing that we had reliable returns of the whole population,
how shall we proceed to apportion that among Confucianists, Taoists,
and Buddhists? Confucianism is the orthodoxy of China. The common name
for it is Ju Chiao, "the Doctrines held by the Learned Class,"
entrance into the circle of which is, with a few insignificant
exceptions, open to all the people. The mass of them and the masses
under their influence are preponderatingly Confucian; and in the
observance of ancestral worship, the most remarkable feature of the
religion proper of China from the earliest times, of which Confucius
was not the author but the prophet, an overwhelming majority are
regular and assiduous.

Among "the strange principles" which the emperor of the K'ang-hsi
period, in one of his famous Sixteen Precepts, exhorted his people to
"discountenance and put away, in order to exalt the correct doctrine,"
Buddhism and Taoism were both included. If, as stated in the note
quoted from Professor Muller, the emperor countenances both the Taoist
worship and the Buddhist, he does so for reasons of state;--to please
especially his Buddhist subjects in Thibet and Mongolia, and not to
offend the many whose superstitious fancies incline to Taoism.

When I went out and in as a missionary among the Chinese people for
about thirty years, it sometimes occurred to me that only the inmates
of their monasteries and the recluses of both systems should be
enumerated as Buddhists and Taoists; but I was in the end constrained
to widen that judgment, and to admit a considerable following of both
among the people, who have neither received the tonsure nor assumed
the yellow top. Dr. Eitel, in concluding his discussion of this point
in his "Lecture on Buddhism, an Event in History," says: "It is not
too much to say that most Chinese are theoretically Confucianists, but
emotionally Buddhists or Taoists. But fairness requires us to add
that, though the mass of the people are more or less influenced by
Buddhist doctrines, yet the people, as a whole, have no respect for
the Buddhist church, and habitually sneer at Buddhist priests." For
the "most" in the former of these two sentences I would substitute
"nearly all;" and between my friend's "but" and "emotionally" I would
introduce "many are," and would not care to contest his conclusion
farther. It does seem to me preposterous to credit Buddhism with the
whole of the vast population of China, the great majority of whom are
Confucianists. My own opinion is, that its adherents are not so many
as those even of Mohammedanism, and that instead of being the most
numerous of the religions (so called) of the world, it is only
entitled to occupy the fifth place, ranking below Christianity,
Confucianism, Brahmanism, and Mohammedanism, and followed, some
distance off, by Taoism. To make a table of per-centages of mankind,
and assign to each system its proportion, is to seem to be wise where
we are deplorably ignorant; and, moreover, if our means of information
were much better than they are, our figures would merely show the
outward adherence. A fractional per-centage might tell more for one
system than a very large integral one for another.







Fa-hien had been living in Ch'ang-gan.[1] Deploring the mutilated and
imperfect state of the collection of the Books of Discipline, in the
second year of the period Hwang-che, being the Ke-hae year of the
cycle,[2] he entered into an engagement with Kwuy-king, Tao-ching,
Hwuy-ying, and Hwuy-wei,[3] that they should go to India and seek for
the Disciplinary Rules.[4]

After starting from Ch'ang-gan, they passed through Lung,[5] and came
to the kingdom of K'een-kwei,[6] where they stopped for the summer
retreat.[7] When that was over, they went forward to the kingdom of
Now-t'an,[8] crossed the mountain of Yang-low, and reached the
emporium of Chang-yih.[9] There they found the country so much
disturbed that travelling on the roads was impossible for them. Its
king, however, was very attentive to them, kept them (in his capital),
and acted the part of their danapati.[10]

Here they met with Che-yen, Hwuy-keen, Sang-shao, Pao-yun, and Sang-
king;[11] and in pleasant association with them, as bound on the same
journey with themselves, they passed the summer retreat (of that
year)[12] together, resuming after it their travelling, and going on
to T'un-hwang,[13] (the chief town) in the frontier territory of
defence extending for about 80 le from east to west, and about 40 from
north to south. Their company, increased as it had been, halted there
for some days more than a month, after which Fa-hien and his four
friends started first in the suite of an envoy,[14] having separated
(for a time) from Pao-yun and his associates.

Le Hao,[15] the prefect of T'un-hwang, had supplied them with the
means of crossing the desert (before them), in which there are many
evil demons and hot winds. (Travellers) who encounter them perish all
to a man. There is not a bird to be seen in the air above, nor an
animal on the ground below. Though you look all round most earnestly
to find where you can cross, you know not where to make your choice,
the only mark and indication being the dry bones of the dead (left
upon the sand).[16]


[1] Ch'ang-gan is still the name of the principal district (and its
city) in the department of Se-gan, Shen-se. It had been the capital of
the first empire of Han (B.C. 202-A.D. 24), as it subsequently was
that of Suy (A.D. 589-618). The empire of the eastern Tsin, towards
the close of which Fa-hien lived, had its capital at or near Nan-king,
and Ch'ang-gan was the capital of the principal of the three Ts'in
kingdoms, which, with many other minor ones, maintained a semi-
independence of Tsin, their rulers sometimes even assuming the title
of emperor.

[2] The period Hwang-che embraced from A.D. 399 to 414, being the
greater portion of the reign of Yao Hing of the After Ts'in, a
powerful prince. He adopted Hwang-che for the style of his reign in
399, and the cyclical name of that year was Kang-tsze. It is not
possible at this distance of time to explain, if it could be
explained, how Fa-hien came to say that Ke-hae was the second year of
the period. It seems most reasonable to suppose that he set out on his
pilgrimage in A.D. 399, the cycle name of which was Ke-hae, as {.},
the second year, instead of {.}, the first, might easily creep into
the text. In the "Memoirs of Eminent Monks" it is said that our author
started in the third year of the period Lung-gan of the eastern Tsin,
which was A.D. 399.

[3] These, like Fa-hien itself, are all what we might call "clerical"
names, appellations given to the parties as monks or sramanas.

[4] The Buddhist tripitaka or canon consists of three collections,
containing, according to Eitel (p. 150), "doctrinal aphorisms (or
statements, purporting to be from Buddha himself); works on
discipline; and works on metaphysics:"--called sutra, vinaya, and
abhidharma; in Chinese, king {.}, leuh {.}, and lun {.}, or texts,
laws or rules, and discussions. Dr. Rhys Davids objects to the
designation of "metaphysics" as used of the abhidharma works, saying
that "they bear much more the relation to 'dharma' which 'by-law'
bears to 'law' than that which 'metaphysics' bears to 'physics'"
(Hibbert Lectures, p. 49). However this be, it was about the vinaya
works that Fa-hien was chiefly concerned. He wanted a good code of the
rules for the government of "the Order" in all its internal and
external relations.

[5] Lung embraced the western part of Shen-se and the eastern part of
Kan-suh. The name remains in Lung Chow, in the extreme west of

[6] K'een-kwei was the second king of "the Western Ts'in." His family
was of northern or barbarous origin, from the tribe of the Seen-pe,
with the surname of K'eih-fuh. The first king was Kwo-kin, and
received his appointment from the sovereign of the chief Ts'in kingdom
in 385. He was succeeded in 388 by his brother, the K'een-kwei of the
text, who was very prosperous in 398, and took the title of king of
Ts'in. Fa-hien would find him at his capital, somewhere in the present
department of Lan-chow, Kan-suh.

[7] Under varshas or vashavasana (Pali, vassa; Spence Hardy, vass),
Eitel (p. 163) says:--"One of the most ancient institutions of
Buddhist discipline, requiring all ecclesiastics to spend the rainy
season in a monastery in devotional exercises. Chinese Buddhists
naturally substituted the hot season for the rainy (from the 16th day
of the 5th to the 15th of the 9th Chinese month)."

[8] During the troubled period of the Tsin dynasty, there were five
(usurping) Leang sovereignties in the western part of the empire ({.}
{.}). The name Leang remains in the department of Leang-chow in the
northern part of Kan-suh. The "southern Leang" arose in 397 under a
Tuh-fah Wu-ku, who was succeeded in 399 by a brother, Le-luh-koo; and
he again by his brother, the Now-t'an of the text, in 402, who was not
yet king therefore when Fa-hien and his friends reached his capital.
How he is represented as being so may be accounted for in various
ways, of which it is not necessary to write.

[9] Chang-yih is still the name of a district in Kan-chow department,
Kan-suh. It is a long way north and west from Lan-chow, and not far
from the Great Wall. Its king at this time was, probably, Twan-yeh of
"the northern Leang."

[10] Dana is the name for religious charity, the first of the six
paramitas, or means of attaining to nirvana; and a danapati is
"one who practises dana and thereby crosses {.} the sea of misery."
It is given as "a title of honour to all who support the cause of
Buddhism by acts of charity, especially to founders and patrons of
monasteries;"--see Eitel, p. 29.

[11] Of these pilgrims with their clerical names, the most
distinguished was Pao-yun, who translated various Sanskrit works on
his return from India, of which only one seems to be now existing. He
died in 449. See Nanjio's Catalogue of the Tripitaka, col. 417.

[12] This was the second summer since the pilgrims left Ch'ang-gan. We
are now therefore, probably, in A.D. 400.

[13] T'un-hwang (lat. 39d 40s N.; lon. 94d 50s E.) is still the name
of one of the two districts constituting the department of Gan-se, the
most western of the prefectures of Kan-suh; beyond the termination of
the Great Wall.

[14] Who this envoy was, and where he was going, we do not know. The
text will not admit of any other translation.

[15] Le Hao was a native of Lung-se, a man of learning, able and
kindly in his government. He was appointed governor or prefect of
T'un-hwang by the king of "the northern Leang," in 400; and there he
sustained himself, becoming by and by "duke of western Leang," till he
died in 417.

[16] "The river of sand;" the great desert of Kobi or Gobi; having
various other names. It was a great task which the pilgrims had now
before them,--to cross this desert. The name of "river" in the Chinese
misleads the reader, and he thinks of crossing it as of crossing a
stream; but they had to traverse it from east to west. In his
"Vocabulary of Proper Names," p. 23, Dr. Porter Smith says:--"It
extends from the eastern frontier of Mongolia, south-westward to the
further frontier of Turkestan, to within six miles of Ilchi, the chief
town of Khoten. It thus comprises some twenty-three degrees of
longitude in length, and from three to ten degrees of latitude in
breadth, being about 2,100 miles in its greatest length. In some
places it is arable. Some idea may be formed of the terror with which
this 'Sea of Sand,' with its vast billows of shifting sands, is
regarded, from the legend that in one of the storms 360 cities were
all buried within the space of twenty-four hours." So also Gilmour's
"Among the Mongols," chap. 5.



After travelling for seventeen days, a distance we may calculate of
about 1500 le, (the pilgrims) reached the kingdom of Shen-shen,[1] a
country rugged and hilly, with a thin and barren soil. The clothes of
the common people are coarse, and like those worn in our land of
Han,[2] some wearing felt and others coarse serge or cloth of hair;--
this was the only difference seen among them. The king professed (our)
Law, and there might be in the country more than four thousand
monks,[3] who were all students of the hinayana.[4] The common people
of this and other kingdoms (in that region), as well as the
sramans,[5] all practise the rules of India,[6] only that the latter
do so more exactly, and the former more loosely. So (the travellers)
found it in all the kingdoms through which they went on their way from
this to the west, only that each had its own peculiar barbarous
speech.[7] (The monks), however, who had (given up the worldly life)
and quitted their families, were all students of Indian books and the
Indian language. Here they stayed for about a month, and then
proceeded on their journey, fifteen days walking to the north-west
bringing them to the country of Woo-e.[8] In this also there were more
than four thousand monks, all students of the hinayana. They were very
strict in their rules, so that sramans from the territory of Ts'in[9]
were all unprepared for their regulations. Fa-hien, through the
management of Foo Kung-sun, /maitre d'hotellerie/,[10] was able to
remain (with his company in the monastery where they were received)
for more than two months, and here they were rejoined by Pao-yun and
his friends.[11] (At the end of that time) the people of Woo-e
neglected the duties of propriety and righteousness, and treated the
strangers in so niggardly a manner that Che-yen, Hwuy-keen, and Hwuy-
wei went back towards Kao-ch'ang,[12] hoping to obtain there the means
of continuing their journey. Fa-hien and the rest, however, through
the liberality of Foo Kung-sun, managed to go straight forward in a
south-west direction. They found the country uninhabited as they went
along. The difficulties which they encountered in crossing the streams
and on their route, and the sufferings which they endured, were
unparalleled in human experience, but in the course of a month and
five days they succeeded in reaching Yu-teen.[13]


[1] An account is given of the kingdom of Shen-shen in the 96th of the
Books of the first Han dynasty, down to its becoming a dependency of
China, about B.C. 80. The greater portion of that is now accessible to
the English reader in a translation by Mr. Wylie in the "Journal of
the Anthropological Institute," August, 1880. Mr. Wylie says:--
"Although we may not be able to identify Shen-shen with certainty, yet
we have sufficient indications to give an appropriate idea of its
position, as being south of and not far from lake Lob." He then goes
into an exhibition of those indications, which I need not transcribe.
It is sufficient for us to know that the capital city was not far from
Lob or Lop Nor, into which in lon. 38d E. the Tarim flows. Fa-hien
estimated its distance to be 1500 le from T'un-hwang. He and his
companions must have gone more than twenty-five miles a day to
accomplish the journey in seventeen days.

[2] This is the name which Fa-hien always uses when he would speak of
China, his native country, as a whole, calling it from the great
dynasty which had ruled it, first and last, for between four and five
centuries. Occasionally, as we shall immediately see, he speaks of
"the territory of Ts'in or Ch'in," but intending thereby only the
kingdom or Ts'in, having its capital, as described in the first note
on the last chapter, in Ch'ang-gan.

[3] So I prefer to translate the character {.} (sang) rather than by
"priests." Even in Christianity, beyond the priestly privilege which
belongs to all believers, I object to the ministers of any
denomination or church calling themselves or being called "priests;"
and much more is the name inapplicable to the sramanas or bhikshus of
Buddhism which acknowledges no God in the universe, no soul in man,
and has no services of sacrifice or prayer in its worship. The only
difficulty in the use of "monks" is caused by the members of the sect
in Japan which, since the middle of the fifteenth century, has
abolished the prohibition against marrying on the part of its
ministers, and other prohibitions in diet and dress. Sang and sang-kea
represent the Sanskrit sangha, constituted by at least four members,
and empowered to hear confession, to grant absolution, to admit
persons to holy orders, &c.; secondly, the third constituent of the
Buddhistic Trinity, a deification of the /communio sanctorum/, or the
Buddhist order. The name is used by our author of the monks
collectively or individually as belonging to the class, and may be
considered as synonymous with the name sramana, which will immediately
claim our attention.

[4] Meaning the "small vehicle, or conveyance." There are in Buddhism
the triyana, or "three different means of salvation, i.e. of
conveyance across the samsara, or sea of transmigration, to the shores
of nirvana. Afterwards the term was used to designate the different
phases of development through which the Buddhist dogma passed, known
as the mahayana, hinayana, and madhyamayana." "The hinayana is the
simplest vehicle of salvation, corresponding to the first of the three
degrees of saintship. Characteristics of it are the preponderance of
active moral asceticism, and the absence of speculative mysticism and
quietism." E. H., pp. 151-2, 45, and 117.

[5] The name for India is here the same as in the former chapter and
throughout the book,--T'een-chuh ({.} {.}), the chuh being pronounced,
probably, in Fa-hien's time as tuk. How the earliest name for India,
Shin-tuk or duk=Scinde, came to be changed into Thien-tuk, it would
take too much space to explain. I believe it was done by the
Buddhists, wishing to give a good auspicious name to the fatherland of
their Law, and calling it "the Heavenly Tuk," just as the Mohammedans
call Arabia "the Heavenly region" ({.} {.}), and the court of China
itself is called "the Celestial" ({.} {.}).

[6] Sraman may in English take the place of Sramana (Pali, Samana; in
Chinese, Sha-man), the name for Buddhist monks, as those who have
separated themselves from (left) their families, and quieted their
hearts from all intrusion of desire and lust. "It is employed, first,
as a general name for ascetics of all demoninations, and, secondly, as
a general designation of Buddhistic monks." E. H., pp. 130, 131.

[7] Tartar or Mongolian.

[8] Woo-e has not been identified. Watters ("China Review," viii. 115)
says:--"We cannot be far wrong if we place it in Kharaschar, or
between that and Kutscha." It must have been a country of considerable
size to have so many monks in it.

[9] This means in one sense China, but Fa-hien, in his use of the
name, was only thinking of the three Ts'in states of which I have
spoken in a previous note; perhaps only of that from the capital of
which he had himself set out.

[10] This sentence altogether is difficult to construe, and Mr.
Watters, in the "China Review," was the first to disentangle more than
one knot in it. I am obliged to adopt the reading of {.} {.} in the
Chinese editions, instead of the {.} {.} in the Corean text. It seems
clear that only one person is spoken of as assisting the travellers,
and his name, as appears a few sentences farther on, was Foo Kung-sun.
The {.} {.} which immediately follows the surname Foo {.}, must be
taken as the name of his office, corresponding, as the {.} shows, to
that of /le maitre d'hotellerie/ in a Roman Catholic abbey. I was once
indebted myself to the kind help of such an officer at a monastery in
Canton province. The Buddhistic name for him is uddesika=overseer. The
Kung-sun that follows his surname indicates that he was descended from
some feudal lord in the old times of the Chow dynasty. We know indeed
of no ruling house which had the surname of Foo, but its adoption by
the grandson of a ruler can be satisfactorily accounted for; and his
posterity continued to call themselves Kung-sun, duke or lord's
grandson, and so retain the memory of the rank of their ancestor.

[11] Whom they had left behind them at T'un-hwang.

[12] The country of the Ouighurs, the district around the modern
Turfan or Tangut.

[13] Yu-teen is better known as Khoten. Dr. P. Smith gives (p. 11) the
following description of it:--"A large district on the south-west of
the desert of Gobi, embracing all the country south of Oksu and
Yarkand, along the northern base of the Kwun-lun mountains, for more
than 300 miles from east to west. The town of the same name, now
called Ilchi, is in an extensive plain on the Khoten river, in lat.
37d N., and lon. 80d 35s E. After the Tungani insurrection against
Chinese rule in 1862, the Mufti Haji Habeeboolla was made governor of
Khoten, and held the office till he was murdered by Yakoob Beg, who
became for a time the conqueror of all Chinese Turkestan. Khoten
produces fine linen and cotton stuffs, jade ornaments, copper, grain,
and fruits." The name in Sanskrit is Kustana. (E. H., p. 60).



Yu-teen is a pleasant and prosperous kingdom, with a numerous and
flourishing population. The inhabitants all profess our Law, and join
together in its religious music for their enjoyment.[1] The monks
amount to several myriads, most of whom are students of the
mahayana.[2] They all receive their food from the common store.[3]
Throughout the country the houses of the people stand apart like
(separate) stars, and each family has a small tope[4] reared in front
of its door. The smallest of these may be twenty cubits high, or
rather more.[5] They make (in the monasteries) rooms for monks from
all quarters,[5] the use of which is given to travelling monks who may
arrive, and who are provided with whatever else they require.

The lord of the country lodged Fa-hien and the others comfortably, and
supplied their wants, in a monastery[6] called Gomati,[6] of the
mahayana school. Attached to it there are three thousand monks, who
are called to their meals by the sound of a bell. When they enter the
refectory, their demeanour is marked by a reverent gravity, and they
take their seats in regular order, all maintaining a perfect silence.
No sound is heard from their alms-bowls and other utensils. When any
of these pure men[7] require food, they are not allowed to call out
(to the attendants) for it, but only make signs with their hands.

Hwuy-king, Tao-ching, and Hwuy-tah set out in advance towards the
country of K'eeh-ch'a;[8] but Fa-hien and the others, wishing to see
the procession of images, remained behind for three months. There are
in this country four[9] great monasteries, not counting the smaller
ones. Beginning on the first day of the fourth month, they sweep and
water the streets inside the city, making a grand display in the lanes
and byways. Over the city gate they pitch a large tent, grandly
adorned in all possible ways, in which the king and queen, with their
ladies brilliantly arrayed,[10] take up their residence (for the

The monks of the Gomati monastery, being mahayana students, and held
in great reverence by the king, took precedence of all others in the
procession. At a distance of three or four le from the city, they made
a four-wheeled image car, more than thirty cubits high, which looked
like the great hall (of a monastery) moving along. The seven precious
substances[11] were grandly displayed about it, with silken streamers
and canopies hanging all around. The (chief) image[12] stood in the
middle of the car, with two Bodhisattvas[13] in attendance upon it,
while devas[14] were made to follow in waiting, all brilliantly carved
in gold and silver, and hanging in the air. When (the car) was a
hundred paces from the gate, the king put off his crown of state,
changed his dress for a fresh suit, and with bare feet, carrying in
his hands flowers and incense, and with two rows of attending
followers, went out at the gate to meet the image; and, with his head
and face (bowed to the ground), he did homage at its feet, and then
scattered the flowers and burnt the incense. When the image was
entering the gate, the queen and the brilliant ladies with her in the
gallery above scattered far and wide all kinds of flowers, which
floated about and fell promiscuously to the ground. In this way
everything was done to promote the dignity of the occasion. The
carriages of the monasteries were all different, and each one had its
own day for the procession. (The ceremony) began on the first day of
the fourth month, and ended on the fourteenth, after which the king
and queen returned to the palace.

Seven or eight le to the west of the city there is what is called the
King's New Monastery, the building of which took eighty years, and
extended over three reigns. It may be 250 cubits in height, rich in
elegant carving and inlaid work, covered above with gold and silver,
and finished throughout with a combination of all the precious
substances. Behind the tope there has been built a Hall of Buddha,[15]
of the utmost magnificence and beauty, the beams, pillars, venetianed
doors, and windows being all overlaid with gold-leaf. Besides this,
the apartments for the monks are imposingly and elegantly decorated,
beyond the power of words to express. Of whatever things of highest
value and preciousness the kings in the six countries on the east of
the (Ts'ung) range of mountains[16] are possessed, they contribute the
greater portion (to this monastery), using but a small portion of them


[1] This fondness for music among the Khoteners is mentioned by Hsuan
and Ch'wang and others.

[2] Mahayana. It is a later form of the Buddhist doctrine, the second
phase of its development corresponding to the state of a Bodhisattva,
who, being able to transport himself and all mankind to nirvana, may
be compared to a huge vehicle. See Davids on the "Key-note of the
'Great Vehicle,'" Hibbert Lectures, p. 254.

[3] Fa-hien supplies sufficient information of how the common store or
funds of the monasteries were provided, farther on in chapters xvi and
xxxix, as well as in other passages. As the point is important, I will
give here, from Davids' fifth Hibbert Lecture (p. 178), some of the
words of the dying Buddha, taken from "The Book of the Great Decease,"
as illustrating the statement in this text:--"So long as the brethren
shall persevere in kindness of action, speech, and thought among the
saints, both in public and private; so long as they shall divide
without partiality, and share in common with the upright and holy, all
such things as they receive in accordance with the just provisions of
the order, down even to the mere contents of a begging bowl; . . . so
long may the brethren be expected not to decline, but to prosper."

[4] The Chinese {.} (t'ah; in Cantonese, t'ap), as used by Fa-hien,
is, no doubt, a phonetisation of the Sanskrit stupa or Pali thupa; and
it is well in translating to use for the structures described by him
the name of topes,--made familiar by Cunningham and other Indian
antiquarians. In the thirteenth chapter there is an account of one
built under the superintendence of Buddha himself, "as a model for all
topes in future." They were usually in the form of bell-shaped domes,
and were solid, surmounted by a long tapering pinnacle formed with a
series of rings, varying in number. But their form, I suppose, was
often varied; just as we have in China pagodas of different shapes.
There are several topes now in the Indian Institute at Oxford, brought
from Buddha Gaya, but the largest of them is much smaller than "the
smallest" of those of Khoten. They were intended chiefly to contain
the relics of Buddha and famous masters of his Law; but what relics
could there be in the Tiratna topes of chapter xvi?

[5] The meaning here is much disputed. The author does not mean to say
that the monk's apartments were made "square," but that the
monasteries were made with many guest-chambers or spare rooms.

[6] The Sanskrit term for a monastery is used here,--Sangharama,
"gardens of the assembly," originally denoting only "the surrounding
park, but afterwards transferred to the whole of the premises" (E. H.,
p. 118). Gomati, the name of this monastery, means "rich in cows."

[7] A denomination for the monks as vimala, "undefiled" or "pure."
Giles makes it "the menials that attend on the monks," but I have not
met with it in that application.

[8] K'eeh-ch'a has not been clearly identified. Remusat made it
Cashmere; Klaproth, Iskardu; Beal makes it Kartchou; and Eitel,
Khas'a, "an ancient tribe on the Paropamisus, the Kasioi of Ptolemy."
I think it was Ladak, or some well-known place in it. Hwuy-tah, unless
that name be an alias, appears here for the first time.

[9] Instead of "four," the Chinese copies of the text have "fourteen;"
but the Corean reading is, probably, more correct.

[10] There may have been, as Giles says, "maids of honour;" but the
character does not say so.

[11] The Sapta-ratna, gold, silver, lapis lazuli, rock crystal,
rubies, diamonds or emeralds, and agate. See Sacred Books of the East
(Davids' Buddhist Suttas), vol. xi., p. 249.

[12] No doubt that of Sakyamuni himself.

[13] A Bodhisattva is one whose essence has become intelligence; a
Being who will in some future birth as a man (not necessarily or
usually the next) attain to Buddhahood. The name does not include
those Buddhas who have not yet attained to pari-nirvana. The symbol
of the state is an elephant fording a river. Popularly, its
abbreviated form P'u-sa is used in China for any idol or image; here
the name has its proper signification.

[14] {.} {.}, "all the thien," or simply "the thien" taken as plural.
But in Chinese the character called thien {.} denotes heaven, or
Heaven, and is interchanged with Ti and Shang Ti, meaning God. With
the Buddhists it denotes the devas or Brahmanic gods, or all the
inhabitants of the six devalokas. The usage shows the antagonism
between Buddhism and Brahmanism, and still more that between it and

[15] Giles and Williams call this "the oratory of Buddha." But
"oratory" gives the idea of a small apartment, whereas the name here
leads the mind to think of a large "hall." I once accompanied the
monks of a large monastery from their refectory to the Hall of Buddha,
which was a lofty and spacious apartment splendidly fitted up.

[16] The Ts'ung, or "Onion" range, called also the Belurtagh
mountains, including the Karakorum, and forming together the
connecting links between the more northern T'een-shan and the Kwun-lun
mountains on the north of Thibet. It would be difficult to name the
six countries which Fa-hien had in mind.

[17] This seems to be the meaning here. My first impression of it was
that the author meant to say that the contributions which they
received were spent by the monks mainly on the buildings, and only to
a small extent for themselves; and I still hesitate between that view
and the one in the version.

There occurs here the binomial phrase kung-yang {.} {.}, which is one
of the most common throughout the narrative, and is used not only of
support in the way of substantial contributions given to monks,
monasteries, and Buddhism, but generally of all Buddhistic worship, if
I may use that term in the connexion. Let me here quote two or three
sentences from Davids' Manual (pp. 168-170):--"The members of the
order are secured from want. There is no place in the Buddhist scheme
for churches; the offering of flowers before the sacred tree or image
of the Buddha takes the place of worship. Buddhism does not
acknowledge the efficacy of prayers; and in the warm countries where
Buddhists live, the occasional reading of the law, or preaching of the
word, in public, can take place best in the open air, by moonlight,
under a simple roof of trees or palms. There are five principal kinds
of meditation, which in Buddhism takes the place of prayer."



When the processions of images in the fourth month were over, Sang-
shao, by himself alone, followed a Tartar who was an earnest follower
of the Law,[1] and proceeded towards Kophene.[2] Fa-hien and the
others went forward to the kingdom of Tsze-hoh, which it took them
twenty-five days to reach.[3] Its king was a strenuous follower of our
Law,[4] and had (around him) more than a thousand monks, mostly
students of the mahayana. Here (the travellers) abode fifteen days,
and then went south for four days, when they found themselves among
the Ts'ung-ling mountains, and reached the country of Yu-hwuy,[5]
where they halted and kept their retreat.[6] When this was over, they
went on among the hills[7] for twenty-five days, and got to K'eeh-
ch'a,[8] there rejoining Hwuy-king[9] and his two companions.


[1] This Tartar is called a {.} {.}, "a man of the Tao," or faith of
Buddha. It occurs several times in the sequel, and denotes the man who
is not a Buddhist outwardly only, but inwardly as well, whose faith is
always making itself manifest in his ways. The name may be used of
followers of other systems of faith besides Buddhism.

[2] See the account of the kingdom of Kophene, in the 96th Book of the
first Han Records, p. 78, where its capital is said to be 12,200 le
from Ch'ang-gan. It was the whole or part of the present Cabulistan.
The name of Cophene is connected with the river Kophes, supposed to be
the same as the present Cabul river, which falls into the Indus, from
the west, at Attock, after passing Peshawar. The city of Cabul, the
capital of Afghanistan, may be the Kophene of the text; but we do not
know that Sang-shao and his guide got so far west. The text only says
that they set out from Khoten "towards it."

[3] Tsze-hoh has not been identified. Beal thinks it was Yarkand,
which, however, was north-west from Khoten. Watters ("China Review,"
p. 135) rather approves the suggestion of "Tashkurgan in Sirikul" for
it. As it took Fa-hien twenty-five days to reach it, it must have been
at least 150 miles from Khoten.

[4] The king is described here by a Buddhistic phrase, denoting the
possession of viryabala, "the power of energy; persevering exertion--
one of the five moral powers" (E. H., p. 170).

[5] Nor has Yu-hwuy been clearly identified. Evidently it was directly
south from Tsze-hoh, and among the "Onion" mountains. Watters hazards
the conjecture that it was the Aktasch of our present maps.

[6] This was the retreat already twice mentioned as kept by the
pilgrims in the summer, the different phraseology, "quiet rest,"
without any mention of the season, indicating their approach to India,
E. H., p. 168. Two, if not three, years had elapsed since they left
Ch'ang-gan. Are we now with them in 402?

[7] This is the Corean reading {.}, much preferable to the {.} of the
Chinese editions.

[8] Watters approves of Klaproth's determination of K'eeh-ch'a to be
Iskardu or Skardo. There are difficulties in connexion with the view,
but it has the advantage, to my mind very great, of bringing the
pilgrims across the Indus. The passage might be accomplished with ease
at this point of the river's course, and therefore is not particularly

[9] Who had preceded them from Khoten.



It happened that the king of the country was then holding the pancha
parishad, that is, in Chinese, the great quinquennial assembly.[1]
When this is to be held, the king requests the presence of the Sramans
from all quarters (of his kingdom). They come (as if) in clouds; and
when they are all assembled, their place of session is grandly
decorated. Silken streamers and canopies are hung out in, and water-
lilies in gold and silver are made and fixed up behind the places
where (the chief of them) are to sit. When clean mats have been
spread, and they are all seated, the king and his ministers present
their offerings according to rule and law. (The assembly takes place),
in the first, second, or third month, for the most part in the spring.

After the king has held the assembly, he further exhorts the ministers
to make other and special offerings. The doing of this extends over
one, two, three, five, or even seven days; and when all is finished,
he takes his own riding-horse, saddles, bridles, and waits on him
himself,[2] while he makes the noblest and most important minister of
the kingdom mount him. Then, taking fine white woollen cloth, all
sorts of precious things, and articles which the Sramans require, he
distributes them among them, uttering vows at the same time along with
all his ministers; and when this distribution has taken place, he
again redeems (whatever he wishes) from the monks.[3]

The country, being among the hills and cold, does not produce the
other cereals, and only the wheat gets ripe. After the monks have
received their annual (portion of this), the mornings suddenly show
the hoar-frost, and on this account the king always begs the monks to
make the wheat ripen[4] before they receive their portion. There is in
the country a spitoon which belonged to Buddha, made of stone, and in
colour like his alms-bowl. There is also a tooth of Buddha, for which
the people have reared a tope, connected with which there are more
than a thousand monks and their disciples,[5] all students of the
hinayana. To the east of these hills the dress of the common people is
of coarse materials, as in our country of Ts'in, but here also[6]
there were among them the differences of fine woollen cloth and of
serge or haircloth. The rules observed by the Sramans are remarkable,
and too numerous to be mentioned in detail. The country is in the
midst of the Onion range. As you go forward from these mountains, the
plants, trees, and fruits are all different from those of the land of
Han, excepting only the bamboo, pomegranate,[7] and sugar-cane.


[1] See Eitel, p. 89. He describes the assembly as "an ecclesiastical
conference, first instituted by king Asoka for general confession of
sins and inculcation of morality."

[2] The text of this sentence is perplexing; and all translators,
including myself, have been puzzled by it.

[3] See what we are told of king Asoka's grant of all the Jambudvipa
to the monks in chapter xxvii. There are several other instances of
similar gifts in the Mahavansa.

[4] Watters calls attention to this as showing that the monks of
K'eeh-ch'a had the credit of possessing weather-controlling powers.

[5] The text here has {.} {.}, not {.} alone. I often found in
monasteries boys and lads who looked up to certain of the monks as
their preceptors.

[6] Compare what is said in chapter ii of the dress of the people of

[7] Giles thinks the fruit here was the guava, because the ordinary
name for "pomegranate" is preceded by gan {.}; but the pomegranate was
called at first Gan Shih-lau, as having been introduced into China
from Gan-seih by Chang-k'een, who is referred to in chapter vii.



From this (the travellers) went westwards towards North India, and
after being on the way for a month, they succeeded in getting across
and through the range of the Onion mountains. The snow rests on them
both winter and summer. There are also among them venomous dragons,
which, when provoked, spit forth poisonous winds, and cause showers of
snow and storms of sand and gravel. Not one in ten thousand of those
who encounter these dangers escapes with his life. The people of the
country call the range by the name of "The Snow mountains." When (the
travellers) had got through them, they were in North India, and
immediately on entering its borders, found themselves in a small
kingdom called T'o-leih,[1] where also there were many monks, all
students of the hinayana.

In this kingdom there was formerly an Arhan,[2] who by his
supernatural power[3] took a clever artificer up to the Tushita
heaven, to see the height, complexion, and appearance of Maitreya
Bodhisattva,[4] and then return and make an image of him in wood.
First and last, this was done three times, and then the image was
completed, eighty cubits in height, and eight cubits at the base from
knee to knee of the crossed legs. On fast-days it emits an effulgent
light. The kings of the (surrounding) countries vie with one another
in presenting offerings to it. Here it is,--to be seen now as of


[1] Eitel and others identify this with Darada, the country of the
ancient Dardae, the region near Dardus; lat. 30d 11s N., lon. 73d 54s
E. See E. H. p. 30. I am myself in more than doubt on the point.
Cunningham ("Ancient Geography of India," p. 82) says "Darel is a
valley on the right or western bank of the Indus, now occupied by
Dardus or Dards, from whom it received its name." But as I read our
narrative, Fa-hien is here on the eastern bank of the Indus, and only
crosses to the western bank as described in the next chapter.

[2] Lo-han, Arhat, Arahat, are all designations of the perfected Arya,
the disciple who has passed the different stages of the Noble Path, or
eightfold excellent way, who has conquered all passions, and is not to
be reborn again. Arhatship implies possession of certain supernatural
powers, and is not to be succeeded by Buddhaship, but implies the fact
of the saint having already attained nirvana. Popularly, the Chinese
designate by this name the wider circle of Buddha's disciples, as well
as the smaller ones of 500 and 18. No temple in Canton is better worth
a visit than that of the 500 Lo-han.

[3] Riddhi-sakshatkriya, "the power of supernatural footsteps,"="a
body flexible at pleasure," or unlimited power over the body. E. H.,
p. 104.

[4] Tushita is the fourth Devaloka, where all Bodhisattvas are reborn
before finally appearing on earth as Buddha. Life lasts in Tushita
4000 years, but twenty-four hours there are equal to 400 years on
earth. E. H., p. 152.

[5] Maitreya (Spence Hardy, Maitri), often styled Ajita, "the
Invincible," was a Bodhisattva, the principal one, indeed, of
Sakyamuni's retinue, but is not counted among the ordinary
(historical) disciples, nor is anything told of his antecedents. It
was in the Tushita heaven that Sakyamuni met him and appointed him as
his successor, to appear as Buddha after the lapse of 5000 years.
Maitreya is therefore the expected Messiah of the Buddhists, residing
at present in Tushita, and, according to the account of him in Eitel
(H., p. 70), "already controlling the propagation of the Buddhistic
faith." The name means "gentleness" or "kindness;" and this will be
the character of his dispensation.

[6] The combination of {.} {.} in the text of this concluding
sentence, and so frequently occurring throughout the narrative, has
occasioned no little dispute among previous translators. In the
imperial thesaurus of phraseology (P'ei-wan Yun-foo), under {.}, an
example of it is given from Chwang-tsze, and a note subjoined that {.}
{.} is equivalent to {.} {.}, "anciently and now."



The travellers went on to the south-west for fifteen days (at the foot
of the mountains, and) following the course of their range. The way
was difficult and rugged, (running along) a bank exceedingly
precipitous, which rose up there, a hill-like wall of rock, 10,000
cubits from the base. When one approaches the edge of it, his eyes
become unsteady; and if he wished to go forward in the same direction,
there was no place on which he could place his foot; and beneath where
the waters of the river called the Indus.[1] In former times men had
chiselled paths along the rocks, and distributed ladders on the face
of them, to the number altogether of 700, at the bottom of which there
was a suspension bridge of ropes, by which the river was crossed, its
banks being there eighty paces apart.[2] The (place and arrangements)
are to be found in the Records of the Nine Interpreters,[3] but
neither Chang K'een[4] nor Kan Ying[5] had reached the spot.

The monks[6] asked Fa-hien if it could be known when the Law of Buddha
first went to the east. He replied, "When I asked the people of those
countries about it, they all said that it had been handed down by
their fathers from of old that, after the setting up of the image of
Maitreya Bodhisattva, there were Sramans of India who crossed this
river, carrying with them Sutras and Books of Discipline. Now the
image was set up rather more than 300 years after the nirvana[7] of
Buddha, which may be referred to the reign of king P'ing of the Chow
dynasty.[8] According to this account we may say that the diffusion of
our great doctrines (in the east) began from (the setting up of) this
image. If it had not been through that Maitreya,[9] the great
spiritual master[10] (who is to be) the successor of the Sakya, who
could have caused the 'Three Precious Ones'[11] to be proclaimed so
far, and the people of those border lands to know our Law? We know of
a truth that the opening of (the way for such) a mysterious
propagation is not the work of man; and so the dream of the emperor
Ming of Han[12] had its proper cause."


[1] The Sindhu. We saw in a former note that the earliest name in
China for India was Shin-tuh. So, here, the river Indus is called by a
name approaching that in sound.

[2] Both Beal and Watters quote from Cunningham (Ladak, pp. 88, 89)
the following description of the course of the Indus in these parts,
in striking accordance with our author's account:--"From Skardo to
Rongdo, and from Rongdo to Makpou-i-shang-rong, for upwards of 100
miles, the Indus sweeps sullen and dark through a mighty gorge in the
mountains, which for wild sublimity is perhaps unequalled. Rongdo
means the country of defiles. . . . Between these points the Indus
raves from side to side of the gloomy chasm, foaming and chafing with
ungovernable fury. Yet even in these inaccessible places has daring
and ingenious man triumphed over opposing nature. The yawning abyss is
spanned by frail rope bridges, and the narrow ledges of rocks are
connected by ladders to form a giddy pathway overhanging the seething
cauldron below."

[3] The Japanese edition has a different reading here from the Chinese
copies,--one which Remusat (with true critical instinct) conjectured
should take the place of the more difficult text with which alone he
was acquainted. The "Nine Interpreters" would be a general name for
the official interpreters attached to the invading armies of Han in
their attempts to penetrate and subdue the regions of the west. The
phrase occurs in the memoir of Chang K'een, referred to in the next

[4] Chang K'een, a minister of the emperor Woo of Han (B.C. 140-87),
is celebrated as the first Chinese who "pierced the void," and
penetrated to "the regions of the west," corresponding very much to
the present Turkestan. Through him, by B.C. 115, a regular intercourse
was established between China and the thirty-six kingdoms or states of
that quarter;--see Mayers' Chinese Reader's Manual, p. 5. The memoir
of Chang K'een, translated by Mr. Wylie from the Books of the first
Han dynasty, appears in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute,
referred to already.

[5] Less is known of Kan Ying than of Chang K'een. Being sent in A.D.
88 by his patron Pan Chao on an embassy to the Roman empire, he only
got as far as the Caspian sea, and returned to China. He extended,
however, the knowledge of his countrymen with regard to the western
regions;--see the memoir of Pan Chao in the Books of the second Han,
and Mayers' Manual, pp. 167, 168.

[6] Where and when? Probably at his first resting-place after crossing
the Indus.

[7] This may refer to Sakyamuni's becoming Buddha on attaining to
nirvana, or more probably to his pari-nirvana and death.

[8] As king P'ing's reign lasted from B.C. 750 to 719, this would
place the death of Buddha in the eleventh century B.C., whereas recent
inquirers place it between B.C. 480 and 470, a year or two, or a few
years, after that of Confucius, so that the two great "Masters" of the
east were really contemporaries. But if Rhys Davids be correct, as I
think he is, in fixing the date of Buddha's death within a few years
of 412 B.C. (see Manual, p. 213), not to speak of Westergaard's still
lower date, then the Buddha was very considerably the junior of

[9] This confirms the words of Eitel, that Maitreya is already
controlling the propagation of the faith.

[10] The Chinese characters for this simply mean "the great scholar or
officer;" but see Eitel's Handbook, p. 99, on the term purusha.

[11] "The precious Buddha," "the precious Law," and "the precious
Monkhood;" Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha; the whole being equivalent to

[12] Fa-hien thus endorses the view that Buddhism was introduced into
China in this reign, A.D. 58-75. The emperor had his dream in A.D. 61.



After crossing the river, (the travellers) immediately came to the
kingdom of Woo-chang,[1] which is indeed (a part) of North India. The
people all use the language of Central India, "Central India" being
what we should call the "Middle Kingdom." The food and clothes of the
common people are the same as in that Central Kingdom. The Law of
Buddha is very (flourishing in Woo-chang). They call the places where
the monks stay (for a time) or reside permanently Sangharamas; and of
these there are in all 500, the monks being all students of the
hinayana. When stranger bhikshus[2] arrive at one of them, their wants
are supplied for three days, after which they are told to find a
resting-place for themselves.

There is a tradition that when Buddha came to North India, he came at
once to this country, and that here he left a print of his foot, which
is long or short according to the ideas of the beholder (on the
subject). It exists, and the same thing is true about it, at the
present day. Here also are still to be seen the rock on which he dried
his clothes, and the place where he converted the wicked dragon.[3]
The rock is fourteen cubits high, and more than twenty broad, with one
side of it smooth.

Hwuy-king, Hwuy-tah, and Tao-ching went on ahead towards (the place
of) Buddha's shadow in the country of Nagara;[4] but Fa-hien and the
others remained in Woo-chang, and kept the summer retreat.[5] That
over, they descended south, and arrived in the country of


[1] Udyana, meaning "the Park;" just north of the Punjab, the country
along the Subhavastu, now called the Swat; noted for its forests,
flowers, and fruits (E. H., p. 153).

[2] Bhikshu is the name for a monk as "living by alms," a mendicant.
All bhikshus call themselves Sramans. Sometimes the two names are used
together by our author.

[3] Naga is the Sanskrit name for the Chinese lung or dragon; often
meaning a snake, especially the boa. "Chinese Buddhists," says Eitel,
p. 79, "when speaking of nagas as boa spirits, always represent them
as enemies of mankind, but when viewing them as deities of rivers,
lakes, or oceans, they describe them as piously inclined." The dragon,
however, is in China the symbol of the Sovereign and Sage, a use of it
unknown in Buddhism, according to which all nagas need to be converted
in order to obtain a higher phase of being. The use of the character
too {.}, as here, in the sense of "to convert," is entirely
Buddhistic. The six paramitas are the six virtues which carry men
across {.} the great sea of life and death, as the sphere of
transmigration to nirvana. With regard to the particular conversion
here, Eitel (p. 11) says the Naga's name was Apatala, the guardian
deity of the Subhavastu river, and that he was converted by Sakyamuni
shortly before the death of the latter.

[4] In Chinese Na-k'eeh, an ancient kingdom and city on the southern
bank of the Cabul river, about thirty miles west of Jellalabad.

[5] We would seem now to be in 403.

[6] Soo-ho-to has not been clearly identified. Beal says that later
Buddhist writers include it in Udyana. It must have been between the
Indus and the Swat. I suppose it was what we now call Swastene.



In that country also Buddhism[1] is flourishing. There is in it the
place where Sakra,[2] Ruler of Devas, in a former age,[3] tried the
Bodhisattva, by producing[4] a hawk (in pursuit of a) dove, when (the
Bodhisattva) cut off a piece of his own flesh, and (with it) ransomed
the dove. After Buddha had attained to perfect wisdom,[5] and in
travelling about with his disciples (arrived at this spot), he
informed them that this was the place where he ransomed the dove with
a piece of his own flesh. In this way the people of the country became
aware of the fact, and on the spot reared a tope, adorned with
layers[6] of gold and silver plates.


[1] Buddhism stands for the two Chinese characters {.} {.}, "the Law
of Buddha," and to that rendering of the phrase, which is of frequent
occurrence, I will in general adhere. Buddhism is not an adequate
rendering of them any more than Christianity would be of {to
euaggelion Xristou}. The Fa or Law is the equivalent of dharma
comprehending all in the first Basket of the Buddhist teaching,--as
Dr. Davids says (Hibbert Lectures, p. 44), "its ethics and philosophy,
and its system of self-culture;" with the theory of karma, it seems to
me, especially underlying it. It has been pointed out (Cunningham's
"Bhilsa Topes," p. 102) that dharma is the keystone of all king
Priyadarsi or Asoka's edicts. The whole of them are dedicated to the
attainment of one object, "the advancement of dharma, or of the Law of
Buddha." His native Chinese afforded no better character than {.} or
Law, by which our author could express concisely his idea of the
Buddhistic system, as "a law of life," a directory or system of Rules,
by which men could attain to the consummation of their being.

[2] Sakra is a common name for the Brahmanic Indra, adopted by
Buddhism into the circle of its own great adherents;--it has been
said, "because of his popularity." He is generally styled, as here,
T'een Ti, "God or Ruler of Devas." He is now the representative of the
secular power, the valiant protector of the Buddhist body, but is
looked upon as inferior to Sakyamuni, and every Buddhist saint. He
appears several times in Fa-hien's narrative. E. H., pp. 108 and 46.

[3] The Chinese character is {.}, "formerly," and is often, as in the
first sentence of the narrative, simply equivalent to that adverb. At
other times it means, as here, "in a former age," some pre-existent
state in the time of a former birth. The incident related is "a Jataka

[4] It occurs at once to the translator to render the characters {.}
{.} by "changed himself to." Such is often their meaning in the
sequel, but their use in chapter xxiv may be considered as a crucial
test of the meaning which I have given them here.

[5] That is, had become Buddha, or completed his course {.} {.}.

[6] This seems to be the contribution of {.} (or {.}), to the force of
the binomial {.} {.}, which is continually occurring.



The travellers, going downwards from this towards the east, in five
days came to the country of Gandhara,[1] the place where Dharma-
vivardhana,[2] the son of Asoka,[3] ruled. When Buddha was a
Bodhisattva, he gave his eyes also for another man here;[4] and at the
spot they have also reared a large tope, adorned with layers of gold
and silver plates. The people of the country were mostly students of
the hinayana.


[1] Eitel says "an ancient kingdom, corresponding to the region about
Dheri and Banjour." But see note 5.

[2] Dharma-vivardhana is the name in Sanskrit, represented by the Fa
Yi {.} {.} of the text.

[3] Asoka is here mentioned for the first time;--the Constantine of
the Buddhist society, and famous for the number of viharas and topes
which he erected. He was the grandson of Chandragupta (i.q.
Sandracottus), a rude adventurer, who at one time was a refugee in the
camp of Alexander the Great; and within about twenty years afterwards
drove the Greeks out of India, having defeated Seleucus, the Greek
ruler of the Indus provinces. He had by that time made himself king of
Magadha. His grandson was converted to Buddhism by the bold and
patient demeanour of an Arhat whom he had ordered to be buried alive,
and became a most zealous supporter of the new faith. Dr. Rhys Davids
(Sacred Books of the East, vol. xi, p. xlvi) says that "Asoka's
coronation can be fixed with absolute certainty within a year or two
either way of 267 B.C."

[4] This also is a Jataka story; but Eitel thinks it may be a myth,
constructed from the story of the blinding of Dharma-vivardhana.



Seven days' journey from this to the east brought the travellers to
the kingdom of Takshasila,[1] which means "the severed head" in the
language of China. Here, when Buddha was a Bodhisattva, he gave away
his head to a man;[2] and from this circumstance the kingdom got its

Going on further for two days to the east, they came to the place
where the Bodhisattva threw down his body to feed a starving
tigress.[2] In these two places also large topes have been built, both
adorned with layers of all the precious substances. The kings,
ministers, and peoples of the kingdoms around vie with one another in
making offerings at them. The trains of those who come to scatter
flowers and light lamps at them never cease. The nations of those
quarters all those (and the other two mentioned before) "the four
great topes."


[1] See Julien's "Methode pour dechiffrer et transcrire les Nomes
Sanscrits," p. 206. Eitel says, "The Taxila of the Greeks, the region
near Hoosun Abdaul in lat. 35d 48s N., lon. 72d 44s E. But this
identification, I am satisfied, is wrong. Cunningham, indeed, takes
credit ("Ancient Geography of India," pp. 108, 109) for determining
this to be the site of Arrian's Taxila,--in the upper Punjab, still
existing in the ruins of Shahdheri, between the Indus and Hydaspes
(the modern Jhelum). So far he may be correct; but the Takshasila of
Fa-hien was on the other, or western side of the Indus; and between
the river and Gandhara. It took him, indeed, seven days travelling
eastwards to reach it; but we do not know what stoppages he may have
made on the way. We must be wary in reckoning distances from his
specifications of days.

[2] Two Jataka stories. See the account of the latter in Spence
Hardy's "Manual of Buddhism," pp. 91, 92. It took place when Buddha
had been born as a Brahman in the village of Daliddi; and from the
merit of the act, he was next born in a devaloka.



Going southwards from Gandhara, (the travellers) in four days arrived
at the kingdom of Purushapura.[1] Formerly, when Buddha was travelling
in this country with his disciples, he said to Ananda,[2] "After my
pari-nirvana,[3] there will be a king named Kanishka,[4] who shall on
this spot build a tope." This Kanishka was afterwards born into the
world; and (once), when he had gone forth to look about him, Sakra,
Ruler of Devas, wishing to excite the idea in his mind, assumed the
appearance of a little herd-boy, and was making a tope right in the
way (of the king), who asked what sort of thing he was making. The boy
said, "I am making a tope for Buddha." The king said, "Very good;" and
immediately, right over the boy's tope, he (proceeded to) rear
another, which was more than four hundred cubits high, and adorned
with layers of all the precious substances. Of all the topes and
temples which (the travellers) saw in their journeyings, there was not
one comparable to this in solemn beauty and majestic grandeur. There
is a current saying that this is the finest tope in Jambudvipa.[5]
When the king's tope was completed, the little tope (of the boy) came
out from its side on the south, rather more than three cubits in

Buddha's alms-bowl is in this country. Formerly, a king of Yueh-she[6]
raised a large force and invaded this country, wishing to carry the
bowl away. Having subdued the kingdom, as he and his captains were
sincere believers in the Law of Buddha, and wished to carry off the
bowl, they proceeded to present their offerings on a great scale. When
they had done so to the Three Precious Ones, he made a large elephant
be grandly caparisoned, and placed the bowl upon it. But the elephant
knelt down on the ground, and was unable to go forward. Again he
caused a four-wheeled waggon to be prepared in which the bowl was put
to be conveyed away. Eight elephants were then yoked to it, and
dragged it with their united strength; but neither were they able to
go forward. The king knew that the time for an association between
himself and the bowl had not yet arrived,[7] and was sad and deeply
ashamed of himself. Forthwith he built a tope at the place and a
monastery, and left a guard to watch (the bowl), making all sorts of

There may be there more than seven hundred monks. When it is near
midday, they bring out the bowl, and, along with the common people,[8]
make their various offerings to it, after which they take their midday
meal. In the evening, at the time of incense, they bring the bowl out
again.[9] It may contain rather more than two pecks, and is of various
colours, black predominating, with the seams that show its fourfold
composition distinctly marked.[10] Its thickness is about the fifth of
an inch, and it has a bright and glossy lustre. When poor people throw
into it a few flowers, it becomes immediately full, while some very
rich people, wishing to make offering of many flowers, might not stop
till they had thrown in hundreds, thousands, and myriads of bushels,
and yet would not be able to fill it.[11]

Pao-yun and Sang-king here merely made their offerings to the alms-
bowl, and (then resolved to) go back. Hwuy-king, Hwuy-tah, and Tao-
ching had gone on before the rest to Negara,[12] to make their
offerings at (the places of) Buddha's shadow, tooth, and the flat-bone
of his skull. (There) Hwuy-king fell ill, and Tao-ching remained to
look after him, while Hwuy-tah came alone to Purushapura, and saw the
others, and (then) he with Pao-yun and Sang-king took their way back
to the land of Ts'in. Hwuy-king[13] came to his end[14] in the
monastery of Buddha's alms-bowl, and on this Fa-hien went forward
alone towards the place of the flat-bone of Buddha's skull.


[1] The modern Peshawur, lat. 34d 8s N., lon. 71d 30s E.

[2] A first cousin of Sakyamuni, and born at the moment when he
attained to Buddhaship. Under Buddha's teaching, Ananda became an
Arhat, and is famous for his strong and accurate memory; and he played
an important part at the first council for the formation of the
Buddhist canon. The friendship between Sakyamuni and Ananda was very
close and tender; and it is impossible to read much of what the dying
Buddha said to him and of him, as related in the Maha-pari-nirvana
Sutra, without being moved almost to tears. Ananda is to reappear on
earth as Buddha in another Kalpa. See E. H., p. 9, and the Sacred
Books of the East, vol. xi.

[3] On his attaining to nirvana, Sakyamuni became the Buddha, and had
no longer to mourn his being within the circle of transmigration, and
could rejoice in an absolute freedom from passion, and a perfect
purity. Still he continued to live on for forty-five years, till he
attained to pari-nirvana, and had done with all the life of sense and
society, and had no more exercise of thought. He died; but whether he
absolutely and entirely /ceased/ to be, in any sense of the word
/being/, it would be difficult to say. Probably he himself would not
and could not have spoken definitely on the point. So far as our use
of language is concerned, apart from any assured faith in and hope of
immortality, his pari-nirvana was his death.

[4] Kanishka appeared, and began to reign, early in our first century,
about A.D. 10. He was the last of three brothers, whose original seat
was in Yueh-she, immediately mentioned, or Tukhara. Converted by the
sudden appearance of a saint, he became a zealous Buddhist, and
patronised the system as liberally as Asoka had done. The finest topes
in the north-west of India are ascribed to him; he was certainly a
great man and a magnificent sovereign.

[5] Jambudvipa is one of the four great continents of the universe,
representing the inhabited world as fancied by the Buddhists, and so
called because it resembles in shape the leaves of the jambu tree. It
is south of mount Meru, and divided among four fabulous kings (E. H.,
p. 36). It is often used, as here perhaps, merely as the Buddhist name
for India.

[6] This king was perhaps Kanishka himself, Fa-hien mixing up, in an
inartistic way, different legends about him. Eitel suggests that a
relic of the old name of the country may still exist in that of the
Jats or Juts of the present day. A more common name for it is Tukhara,
and he observes that the people were the Indo-Scythians of the Greeks,
and the Tartars of Chinese writers, who, driven on by the Huns (180
B.C.), conquered Transoxiana, destroyed the Bactrian kingdom (126
B.C.), and finally conquered the Punjab, Cashmere, and great part of
India, their greatest king being Kanishak (E. H., p. 152).

[7] Watters, clearly understanding the thought of the author in this
sentence, renders--"his destiny did not extend to a connexion with the
bowl;" but the term "destiny" suggests a controlling or directing
power without. The king thought that his virtue in the past was not
yet sufficient to give him possession of the bowl.

[8] The text is simply "those in white clothes." This may mean "the
laity," or the "upasakas;" but it is better to take the characters in
their common Chinese acceptation, as meaning "commoners," "men who
have no rank." See in Williams' Dictionary under {.}.

[9] I do not wonder that Remusat should give for this--"et s'en
retournent apres." But Fa-hien's use of {.} in the sense of "in the
same way" is uniform throughout the narrative.

[10] Hardy's M. B., p. 183, says:--"The alms-bowl, given by
Mahabrahma, having vanished (about the time that Gotama became
Buddha), each of the four guardian deities brought him an alms-bowl of
emerald, but he did not accept them. They then brought four bowls made
of stone, of the colour of the mung fruit; and when each entreated
that his own bowl might be accepted, Buddha caused them to appear as
if formed into a single bowl, appearing at the upper rim as if placed
one within the other." See the account more correctly given in the
"Buddhist Birth Stories," p. 110.

[11] Compare the narrative in Luke's Gospel, xxi. 1-4.

[12] See chapter viii.

[13] This, no doubt, should be Hwuy-ying. King was at this time ill in
Nagara, and indeed afterwards he dies in crossing the Little Snowy
Mountains; but all the texts make him die twice. The confounding of
the two names has been pointed out by Chinese critics.

[14] "Came to his end;" i.e., according to the text, "proved the
impermanence and uncertainty," namely, of human life. See Williams'
Dictionary under {.}. The phraseology is wholly Buddhistic.



Going west for sixteen yojanas,[1] he came to the city He-lo[2] in the
borders of the country of Nagara, where there is the flat-bone of
Buddha's skull, deposited in a vihara[3] adorned all over with gold-
leaf and the seven sacred substances. The king of the country,
revering and honouring the bone, and anxious lest it should be stolen
away, has selected eight individuals, representing the great families
in the kingdom, and committing to each a seal, with which he should
seal (its shrine) and guard (the relic). At early dawn these eight men
come, and after each has inspected his seal, they open the door. This
done, they wash their hands with scented water and bring out the bone,
which they place outside the vihara, on a lofty platform, where it is
supported on a round pedestal of the seven precious substances, and
covered with a bell of /lapis lazuli/, both adorned with rows of
pearls. Its colour is of a yellowish white, and it forms an imperfect
circle twelve inches round,[4] curving upwards to the centre. Every
day, after it has been brought forth, the keepers of the vihara ascend
a high gallery, where they beat great drums, blow conchs, and clash
their copper cymbals. When the king hears them, he goes to the vihara,
and makes his offerings of flowers and incense. When he has done this,
he (and his attendants) in order, one after another, (raise the bone),
place it (for a moment) on the top of their heads,[5] and then depart,
going out by the door on the west as they entered by that on the east.
The king every morning makes his offerings and performs his worship,
and afterwards gives audience on the business of his government. The
chiefs of the Vaisyas[6] also make their offerings before they attend
to their family affairs. Every day it is so, and there is no
remissness in the observance of the custom. When all the offerings are
over, they replace the bone in the vihara, where there is a vimoksha
tope,[7] of the seven precious substances, and rather more than five
cubits high, sometimes open, sometimes shut, to contain it. In front
of the door of the vihara, there are parties who every morning sell
flowers and incense,[8] and those who wish to make offerings buy some
of all kinds. The kings of various countries are also constantly
sending messengers with offerings. The vihara stands in a square of
thirty paces, and though heaven should shake and earth be rent, this
place would not move.

Going on, north from this, for a yojana, (Fa-hien) arrived at the
capital of Nagara, the place where the Bodhisattva once purchased with
money five stalks of flowers, as an offering to the Dipankara
Buddha.[9] In the midst of the city there is also the tope of Buddha's
tooth, where offerings are made in the same way as to the flat-bone of
his skull.

A yojana to the north-east of the city brought him to the mouth of a
valley, where there is Buddha's pewter staff;[10] and a vihara also
has been built at which offerings aremade. The staff is made of
Gosirsha Chandana, and is quite sixteen or seventeen cubits long. It
is contained in a wooden tube, and though a hundred or a thousand men
ere to (try to) lift it, they could not move it.

Entering the mouth of the valley, and going west, he found Buddha's
Sanghali,[11] where also there is reared a vihara, and offerings are
made. It is a custom of the country when there is a great drought, for
the people to collect in crowds, bring out the robe, pay worship to
it, and make offerings, on which there is immediately a great rain
from the sky.

South of the city, half a yojana, there is a rock-cavern, in a great
hill fronting the south-west; and here it was that Buddha left his
shadow. Looking at it from a distance of more than ten paces, you seem
to see Buddha's real form, with his complexion of gold, and his
characteristic marks[12] in their nicety clearly and brightly
displayed. The nearer you approach, however, the fainter it becomes,
as if it were only in your fancy. When the kings from the regions all
around have sent skilful artists to take a copy, none of them have
been able to do so. Among the people of the country there is a saying
current that "the thousand Buddhas[13] must all leave their shadows

Rather more than four hundred paces west from the shadow, when Buddha
was at the spot, he shaved his hair and clipt his nails, and
proceeded, along with his disciples, to build a tope seventy or eighty
cubits high, to be a model for all future topes; and it is still
existing. By the side of it there is a monastery, with more than seven
hundred monks in it. At this place there are as many as a thousand
topes[14] of Arhans and Pratyeka Buddhas.[15]


[1] Now in India, Fa-hien used the Indian measure of distance; but it
is not possible to determine exactly what its length then was. The
estimates of it are very different, and vary from four and a half or
five miles to seven, and sometimes more. See the subject exhaustively
treated in Davids' "Ceylon Coins and Measures," pp. 15-17.

[2] The present Hilda, west of Peshawur, and five miles south of

[3] "The vihara," says Hardy, "is the residence of a recluse or
priest;" and so Davids:--'the clean little hut where the mendicant
lives." Our author, however, does not use the Indian name here, but
the Chinese characters which express its meaning--tsing shay, "a
pure dwelling." He uses the term occasionally, and evidently, in this
sense; more frequently it occurs in his narrative in connexion with
the Buddhist relic worship; and at first I translated it by "shrine"
and "shrine-house;" but I came to the conclusion, at last, to employ
always the Indian name. The first time I saw a shrine-house was, I
think, in a monastery near Foo-chow;--a small pyramidical structure,
about ten feet high, glittering as if with the precious substances,
but all, it seemed to me, of tinsel. It was in a large apartment of
the building, having many images in it. The monks said it was the most
precious thing in their possession, and that if they opened it, as I
begged them to do, there would be a convulsion that would destroy the
whole establishment. See E. H., p. 166. The name of the province of
Behar was given to it in consequence of its many viharas.

[4] According to the characters, "square, round, four inches." Hsuan-
chwang says it was twelve inches round.

[5] In Williams' Dictionary, under {.}, the characters, used here, are
employed in the phrase for "to degrade an officer," that is, "to
remove the token of his rank worn on the crown of his head;" but to
place a thing on the crown is a Buddhistic form of religious homage.

[6] The Vaisyas, or bourgeois caste of Hindu society, are described
here as "resident scholars."

[7] See Eitel's Handbook under the name vimoksha, which is explained
as "the act of self-liberation," and "the dwelling or state of
liberty." There are eight acts of liberating one's self from all
subjective and objective trammels, and as many states of liberty
(vimukti) resulting therefrom. They are eight degrees of self-
inanition, and apparently eight stages on the way to nirvana. The tope
in the text would be emblematic in some way of the general idea of the
mental progress conducting to the Buddhistic consummation of

[8] This incense would be in long "sticks," small and large, such as
are sold to-day throughout China, as you enter the temples.

[9] "The illuminating Buddha," the twenty-fourth predecessor of
Sakyamuni, and who, so long before, gave him the assurance that he
would by-and-by be Buddha. See Jataka Tales, p. 23.

[10] The staff was, as immediately appears, of Gosirsha Chandana, or
"sandal-wood from the Cow's-head mountain," a species of copper-brown
sandal-wood, said to be produced most abundantly on a mountain of (the
fabulous continent) Ullarakuru, north of mount Meru, which resembles
in shape the head of a cow (E. H., pp. 42, 43). It is called a "pewter
staff" from having on it a head and rings and pewter. See Watters,
"China Review," viii, pp. 227, 228, and Williams' Dictionary, under

[11] Or Sanghati, the double or composite robe, part of a monk's
attire, reaching from the shoulders to the knees, and fastened round
the waist (E. H., p. 118).

[12] These were the "marks and beauties" on the person of a supreme
Buddha. The rishi Kala Devala saw them on the body of the infant Sakya
prince to the number of 328, those on the teeth, which had not yet
come out, being visible to his spirit-like eyes (M. B., pp. 148, 149).

[13] Probably="all Buddhas."

[14] The number may appear too great. But see what is said on the size
of topes in chapter iii, note 4.

[15] In Singhalese, Pase Buddhas; called also Nidana Buddhas, and
Pratyeka Jinas, and explained by "individually intelligent,"
"completely intelligent," "intelligent as regards the nidanas."
This, says Eitel (pp. 96, 97), is "a degree of saintship unknown to
primitive Buddhism, denoting automats in ascetic life who attain to
Buddhaship 'individually,' that is, without a teacher, and without
being able to save others. As the ideal hermit, the Pratyeka Buddha
is compared with the rhinoceros khadga that lives lonely in the
wilderness. He is also called Nidana Buddha, as having mastered the
twelve nidanas (the twelve links in the everlasting chain of cause
and effect in the whole range of existence, the understanding of which
solves the riddle of life, revealing the inanity of all forms of
existence, and preparing the mind for nirvana). He is also compared
to a horse, which, crossing a river, almost buries its body under the
water, without, however, touching the bottom of the river. Thus in
crossing samsara he 'suppresses the errors of life and thought, and
the effects of habit and passion, without attaining to absolute
perfection.'" Whether these Buddhas were unknown, as Eitel says, to
primitive Buddhism, may be doubted. See Davids' Hibbert Lectures, p.



Having stayed there till the third month of winter, Fa-hien and the
two others,[1] proceeding southwards, crossed the Little Snowy
mountains.[2] On them the snow lies accumulated both winter and
summer. On the north (side) of the mountains, in the shade, they
suddenly encountered a cold wind which made them shiver and become
unable to speak. Hwuy-king could not go any farther. A white froth
came from his mouth, and he said to Fa-hien, "I cannot live any
longer. Do you immediately go away, that we do not all die here;" and
with these words he died.[3] Fa-hien stroked the corpse, and cried out
piteously, "Our original plan has failed;--it is fate.[4] What can we
do?" He then again exerted himself, and they succeeded in crossing to
the south of the range, and arrived in the kingdom of Lo-e,[5] where
there were nearly three thousand monks, students of both the mahayana
and hinayana. Here they stayed for the summer retreat,[6] and when
that was over, they went on to the south, and ten days' journey
brought them to the kingdom of Poh-na,[7] where there are also more
than three thousand monks, all students of the hinayana. Proceeding
from this place for three days, they again crossed the Indus, where
the country on each side was low and level.[8]


[1] These must have been Tao-ching and Hwuy-king.

[2] Probably the Safeid Koh, and on the way to the Kohat pass.

[3] All the texts have Kwuy-king. See chapter xii, note 13.

[4] A very natural exclamation, but out of place and inconsistent from
the lips of Fa-hien. The Chinese character {.}, which he employed, may
be rendered rightly by "fate" or "destiny;" but the fate is not
unintelligent. The term implies a factor, or fa-tor, and supposes
the ordination of Heaven or God. A Confucian idea for the moment
overcame his Buddhism.

[5] Lo-e, or Rohi, is a name for Afghanistan; but only a portion of it
can be here intended.

[6] We are now therefore in 404.

[7] No doubt the present district of Bannu, in the Lieutenant-
Governorship of the Punjab, between 32d 10s and 33d 15s N. lat., and
70d 26s and 72d E. lon. See Hunter's Gazetteer of India, i, p. 393.

[8] They had then crossed the Indus before. They had done so, indeed,
twice; first, from north to south, at Skardo or east of it; and
second, as described in chapter vii.



After they had crossed the river, there was a country named Pe-
t'oo,[1] where Buddhism was very flourishing, and (the monks) studied
both the mahayana and hinayana. When they saw their fellow-disciples
from Ts'in passing along, they were moved with great pity and
sympathy, and expressed themselves thus: "How is it that these men
from a border-land should have learned to become monks,[2] and come
for the sake of our doctrines from such a distance in search of the
Law of Buddha?" They supplied them with what they needed, and treated
them in accordance with the rules of the Law.

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