Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms by Fa-Hien

Part 3 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Ajatasatru. From the expression about the "bringing forth of the
King," it would seem that the Sutras or some of them had been already
committed to writing. May not the meaning of King {.} here be extended
to the Vinaya rules, as well as the Sutras, and mean "the standards"
of the system generally? See Davids' Manual, chapter ix, and Sacred
Books of the East, vol. xx, Vinaya Texts, pp. 370-385.

[5] So in the text, evidently for pari-nirvana.

[6] Instead of "high" seats, the Chinese texts have "vacant." The
character for "prepared" denotes "spread;"--they were carpeted;
perhaps, both cushioned and carpeted, being rugs spread on the ground,
raised higher than the other places for seats.

[7] Did they not contrive to let him in, with some cachinnation, even
in so august an assembly, that so important a member should have been
shut out?

[8] "The life of this body" would, I think, fairly express the idea of
the bhikshu.

[9] See the account of Buddha's preaching in chapter xviii.

[10] The sentiment of this clause is not easily caught.

[11] See E. M., p. 152:--"Buddha made a law forbidding the monks to
commit suicide. He prohibited any one from discoursing on the miseries
of life in such a manner as to cause desperation." See also M. B., pp.
464, 465.

[12] Beal says:--"Evil desire; hatred; ignorance."

[13] See chap. xx, note 10.

[14] The Anagamin belong to the third degree of Buddhistic saintship,
the third class of Aryas, who are no more liable to be reborn as men,
but are to be born once more as devas, when they will forthwith become
Arhats, and attain to nirvana. E. H., pp. 8, 9.

[15] Our author expresses no opinion of his own on the act of this
bhikshu. Must it not have been a good act, when it was attended, in
the very act of performance, by such blessed consequences? But if
Buddhism had not something better to show than what appears here, it
would not attract the interest which it now does. The bhikshu was
evidently rather out of his mind; and the verdict of a coroner's
inquest of this nineteenth century would have pronounced that he
killed himself "in a fit of insanity."



From this place, after travelling to the west for four yojanas, (the
pilgrims) came to the city of Gaya;[1] but inside the city all was
emptiness and desolation. Going on again to the south for twenty le,
they arrived at the place where the Bodhisattva for six years
practised with himself painful austerities. All around was forest.

Three le west from here they came to the place where, when Buddha had
gone into the water to bathe, a deva bent down the branch of a tree,
by means of which he succeeded in getting out of the pool.[2]

Two le north from this was the place where the Gramika girls presented
to Buddha the rice-gruel made with milk;[3] and two le north from this
(again) was the place where, seated on a rock under a great tree, and
facing the east, he ate (the gruel). The tree and the rock are there
at the present day. The rock may be six cubits in breadth and length,
and rather more than two cubits in height. In Central India the cold
and heat are so equally tempered that trees will live in it for
several thousand and even for ten thousand years.

Half a yojana from this place to the north-east there was a cavern in
the rocks, into which the Bodhisattva entered, and sat cross-legged
with his face to the west. (As he did so), he said to himself, "If I
am to attain to perfect wisdom (and become Buddha), let there be a
supernatural attestation of it." On the wall of the rock there
appeared immediately the shadow of a Buddha, rather more than three
feet in length, which is still bright at the present day. At this
moment heaven and earth were greatly moved, and devas in the air spoke
plainly, "This is not the place where any Buddha of the past, or he
that is to come, has attained, or will attain, to perfect Wisdom. Less
than half a yojana from this to the south-west will bring you to the
patra[4] tree, where all past Buddhas have attained, and all to come
must attain, to perfect Wisdom." When they had spoken these words,
they immediately led the way forwards to the place, singing as they
did so. As they thus went away, the Bodhisattva arose and walked
(after them). At a distance of thirty paces from the tree, a deva gave
him the grass of lucky omen,[5] which he received and went on. After
(he had proceeded) fifteen paces, 500 green birds came flying towards
him, went round him thrice, and disappeared. The Bodhisattva went
forward to the patra tree, placed the kusa grass at the foot of it,
and sat down with his face to the east. Then king Mara sent three
beautiful young ladies, who came from the north, to tempt him, while
he himself came from the south to do the same. The Bodhisattva put his
toes down on the ground, and the demon soldiers retired and dispersed,
and the three young ladies were changed into old (grand-)mothers.[6]

At the place mentioned above of the six years' painful austerities,
and at all these other places, men subsequently reared topes and set
up images, which all exist at the present day.

Where Buddha, after attaining to perfect wisdom, for seven days
contemplated the tree, and experienced the joy of vimukti;[7] where,
under the patra tree, he walked backwards and forwards from west to
east for seven days; where the devas made a hall appear, composed of
the seven precious substances, and presented offerings to him for
seven days; where the blind dragon Muchilinda[8] encircled him for
seven days; where he sat under the nyagrodha tree, on a square rock,
with his face to the east, and Brahma-deva[9] came and made his
request to him; where the four deva kings brought to him their alms-
bowls;[10] where the 500 merchants[11] presented to him the roasted
flour and honey; and where he converted the brothers Kasyapa and their
thousand disciples;[12]--at all these places topes were reared.

At the place where Buddha attained to perfect Wisdom, there are three
monasteries, in all of which there are monks residing. The families of
their people around supply the societies of these monks with an
abundant sufficiency of what they require, so that there is no lack or
stint.[13] The disciplinary rules are strictly observed by them. The
laws regulating their demeanour in sitting, rising, and entering when
the others are assembled, are those which have been practised by all
the saints since Buddha was in the world down to the present day. The
places of the four great topes have been fixed, and handed down
without break, since Buddha attained to nirvana. Those four great
topes are those at the places where Buddha was born; where he attained
to Wisdom; where he (began to) move the wheel of his Law; and where he
attained to pari-nirvana.


[1] Gaya, a city of Magadha, was north-west of the present Gayah (lat.
24d 47s N., lon. 85d 1s E). It was here that Sakyamuni lived for seven
years, after quitting his family, until he attained to Buddhaship. The
place is still frequented by pilgrims. E. H., p. 41.

[2] This is told so as to make us think that he was in danger of being
drowned; but this does not appear in the only other account of the
incident I have met with,--in "The Life of the Buddha," p. 31. And he
was not yet Buddha, though he is here called so; unless indeed the
narrative is confused, and the incidents do not follow in the order of

[3] An incident similar to this is told, with many additions, in
Hardy's M. B., pp. 166-168; "The Life of the Buddha," p. 30; and the
"Buddhist Birth Stories," pp. 91, 92; but the name of the ministering
girl or girls is different. I take Gramika from a note in Beal's
revised version; it seems to me a happy solution of the difficulty
caused by the {.} {.} of Fa-hien.

[4] Called "the tree of leaves," and "the tree of reflection;" a palm
tree, the /borassus flabellifera/, described as a tree which never
loses its leaves. It is often confounded with the pippala. E. H., p.

[5] The kusa grass, mentioned in a previous note.

[6] See the account of this contest with Mara in M. B., pp. 171-179,
and "Buddhist Birth Stories," pp. 96-101.

[7] See chap. xiii, note 7.

[8] Called also Maha, or the Great Muchilinda. Eitel says: "A naga
king, the tutelary deity of a lake near which Sakyamuni once sat for
seven days absorbed in meditation, whilst the king guarded him." The
account (p. 35) in "The Life of the Buddha" is:--"Buddha went to where
lived the naga king Muchilinda, and he, wishing to preserve him from
the sun and rain, wrapped his body seven times round him, and spread
out his hood over his head; and there he remained seven days in
thought." So also the Nidana Katha, in "Buddhist Birth Stories," p.

[9] This was Brahma himself, though "king" is omitted. What he
requested of the Buddha was that he would begin the preaching of his
Law. Nidana Katha, p. 111.

[10] See chap. xii, note 10.

[11] The other accounts mention only two; but in M. B., p. 182, and
the Nidana Katha, p. 110, these two have 500 well-laden waggons with

[12] These must not be confounded with Mahakasyapa of chap. xvi, note
17. They were three brothers, Uruvilva, Gaya, and Nadi-Kasyapa, up to
this time holders of "erroneous" views, having 500, 300, and 200
disciples respectively. They became distinguished followers of
Sakyamuni; and are--each of them--to become Buddha by-and-by. See the
Nidana Katha, pp. 114, 115.

[13] This seems to be the meaning; but I do not wonder that some
understand the sentence of the benevolence of the monkish population
to the travellers.



When king Asoka, in a former birth,[1] was a little boy and played on
the road, he met Kasyapa Buddha walking. (The stranger) begged food,
and the boy pleasantly took a handful of earth and gave it to him. The
Buddha took the earth, and returned it to the ground on which he was
walking; but because of this (the boy) received the recompense of
becoming a king of the iron wheel,[2] to rule over Jambudvipa. (Once)
when he was making a judicial tour of inspection through Jambudvipa,
he saw, between the iron circuit of the two hills, a naraka[3] for the
punishment of wicked men. Having thereupon asked his ministers what
sort of a thing it was, they replied, "It belongs to Yama,[4] king of
demons, for punishing wicked people." The king thought within himself:
--"(Even) the king of demons is able to make a naraka in which to deal
with wicked men; why should not I, who am the lord of men, make a
naraka in which to deal with wicked men?" He forthwith asked his
ministers who could make for him a naraka and preside over the
punishment of wicked people in it. They replied that it was only a man
of extreme wickedness who could make it; and the king thereupon sent
officers to seek everywhere for (such) a bad man; and they saw by the
side of a pond a man tall and strong, with a black countenance, yellow
hair, and green eyes, hooking up the fish with his feet, while he
called to him birds and beasts, and, when they came, then shot and
killed them, so that not one escaped. Having got this man, they took
him to the king, who secretly charged him, "You must make a square
enclosure with high walls. Plant in it all kinds of flowers and
fruits; make good ponds in it for bathing; make it grand and imposing
in every way, so that men shall look to it with thirsting desire; make
its gates strong and sure; and when any one enters, instantly seize
him and punish him as a sinner, not allowing him to get out. Even if I
should enter, punish me as a sinner in the same way, and do not let me
go. I now appoint you master of that naraka."

Soon after this a bhikshu, pursuing his regular course of begging his
food, entered the gate (of the place). When the lictors of the naraka
saw him, they were about to subject him to their tortures; but he,
frightened, begged them to allow him a moment in which to eat his
midday meal. Immediately after, there came in another man, whom they
thrust into a mortar and pounded till a red froth overflowed. As the
bhikshu looked on, there came to him the thought of the impermanence,
the painful suffering and insanity of this body, and how it is but as
a bubble and as foam; and instantly he attained to Arhatship.
Immediately after, the lictors seized him, and threw him into a
caldron of boiling water. There was a look of joyful satisfaction,
however, in the bhikshu's countenance. The fire was extinguished, and
the water became cold. In the middle (of the caldron) there rose up a
lotus flower, with the bhikshu seated on it. The lictors at once went
and reported to the king that there was a marvellous occurrence in the
naraka, and wished him to go and see it; but the king said, "I
formerly made such an agreement that now I dare not go (to the
place)." The lictors said, "This is not a small matter. Your majesty
ought to go quickly. Let your former agreement be altered." The king
thereupon followed them, and entered (the naraka), when the bhikshu
preached the Law to him, and he believed, and was made free.[5]
Forthwith he demolished the naraka, and repented of all the evil which
he had formerly done. From this time he believed in and honoured the
Three Precious Ones, and constantly went to a patra tree, repenting
under it, with self-reproach, of his errors, and accepting the eight
rules of abstinence.[6]

The queen asked where the king was constantly going to, and the
ministers replied that he was constantly to be seen under (such and
such) a patra tree. She watched for a time when the king was not
there, and then sent men to cut the tree down. When the king came, and
saw what had been done, he swooned away with sorrow, and fell to the
ground. His ministers sprinkled water on his face, and after a
considerable time he revived. He then built all round (the stump) with
bricks, and poured a hundred pitchers of cows' milk on the roots; and
as he lay with his four limbs spread out on the ground, he took this
oath, "If the tree do not live, I will never rise from this." When he
had uttered this oath, the tree immediately began to grow from the
roots, and it has continued to grow till now, when it is nearly 100
cubits in height.


[1] Here is an instance of {.} used, as was pointed out in chap. ix,
note 3, for a former age; and not merely a former time. Perhaps "a
former birth" is the best translation. The Corean reading of Kasyapa
Buddha is certainly preferable to the Chinese "Sakya Buddha."

[2] See chap. xvii, note 8.

[3] I prefer to retain the Sanskrit term here, instead of translating
the Chinese text by "Earth's prison {.} {.}," or "a prison in the
earth;" the name for which has been adopted generally by Christian
missionaries in China for gehenna and hell.

[4] Eitel (p. 173) says:--"Yama was originally the Aryan god of the
dead, living in a heaven above the world, the regent of the south; but
Brahmanism transferred his abode to hell. Both views have been
retained by Buddhism." The Yama of the text is the "regent of the
narakas, residing south of Jambudvipa, outside the Chakravalas (the
double circuit of mountains above), in a palace built of brass and
iron. He has a sister who controls all the female culprits, as he
exclusively deals with the male sex. Three times, however, in every
twenty-four hours, a demon pours boiling copper into Yama's mouth, and
squeezes it down his throat, causing him unspeakable pain." Such,
however, is the wonderful "transrotation of births," that when Yama's
sins have been expiated, he is to be reborn as Buddha, under the name
of "The Universal King."

[5] Or, "was loosed;" from the bonds, I suppose, of his various

[6] I have not met with this particular numerical category.



(The travellers), going on from this three le to the south, came to a
mountain named Gurupada,[1] inside which Mahakasyapa even now is. He
made a cleft, and went down into it, though the place where he entered
would not (now) admit a man. Having gone down very far, there was a
hole on one side, and there the complete body of Kasyapa (still)
abides. Outside the hole (at which he entered) is the earth with which
he had washed his hands.[2] If the people living thereabouts have a
sore on their heads, they plaster on it some of the earth from this,
and feel immediately easier.[3] On this mountain, now as of old, there
are Arhats abiding. Devotees of our Law from the various countries in
that quarter go year by year to the mountain, and present offerings to
Kasyapa; and to those whose hearts are strong in faith there come
Arhats at night, and talk with them, discussing and explaining their
doubts, and disappearing suddenly afterwards.

On this hill hazels grow luxuriously; and there are many lions,
tigers, and wolves, so that people should not travel incautiously.


[1] "Fowl's-foot hill," "with three peaks, resembling the foot of a
chicken. It lies seven miles south-east of Gaya, and was the residence
of Mahakasyapa, who is said to be still living inside this mountain."
So Eitel says, p. 58; but this chapter does not say that Kasyapa is in
the mountain alive, but that his body entire is in a recess or hole in
it. Hardy (M. B., p. 97) says that after Kasyapa Buddha's body was
burnt, the bones still remained in their usual position, presenting
the appearance of a perfect skeleton. It is of him that the chapter
speaks, and not of the famous disciple of Sakyamuni, who also is
called Mahakasyapa. This will appear also on a comparison of Eitel's
articles on "Mahakasyapa" and "Kasyapa Buddha."

[2] Was it a custom to wash the hands with "earth," as is often done
with sand?

[3] This I conceive to be the meaning here.



Fa-hien[1] returned (from here) towards Pataliputtra,[2] keeping along
the course of the Ganges and descending in the direction of the west.
After going ten yojanas he found a vihara, named "The Wilderness,"--a
place where Buddha had dwelt, and where there are monks now.

Pursuing the same course, and going still to the west, he arrived,
after twelve yojanas, at the city of Varanasi[3] in the kingdom of
Kasi. Rather more than ten le to the north-east of the city, he found
the vihara in the park of "The rishi's Deer-wild."[4] In this park
there formerly resided a Pratyeka Buddha,[5] with whom the deer were
regularly in the habit of stopping for the night. When the World-
honoured one was about to attain to perfect Wisdom, the devas sang in
the sky, "The son of king Suddhodana, having quitted his family and
studied the Path (of Wisdom),[6] will now in seven days become
Buddha." The Pratyeka Buddha heard their words, and immediately
attained to nirvana; and hence this place was named "The Park of the
rishi's Deer-wild."[7] After the World-honoured one had attained to
perfect Wisdom, men build the vihara in it.

Buddha wished to convert Kaundinya[8] and his four companions; but
they, (being aware of his intention), said to one another, "This
Sramana Gotama[9] for six years continued in the practice of painful
austerities, eating daily (only) a single hemp-seed, and one grain of
rice, without attaining to the Path (of Wisdom); how much less will he
do so now that he has entered (again) among men, and is giving the
reins to (the indulgence of) his body, his speech, and his thoughts!
What has he to do with the Path (of Wisdom)? To-day, when he comes to
us, let us be on our guard not to speak with him." At the places where
the five men all rose up, and respectfully saluted (Buddha), when he
came to them; where, sixty paces north from this, he sat with his face
to the east, and first turned the wheel of the Law, converting
Kaundinya and the four others; where, twenty paces further to the
north, he delivered his prophecy concerning Maitreya;[10] and where,
at a distance of fifty paces to the south, the dragon Elapattra[11]
asked him, "When shall I get free from this naga body?"--at all these
places topes were reared, and are still existing. In (the park) there
are two monasteries, in both of which there are monks residing.

When you go north-west from the vihara of the Deer-wild park for
thirteen yojanas, there is a kingdom named Kausambi.[12] Its vihara is
named Ghochiravana[13]--a place where Buddha formerly resided. Now, as
of old, there is a company of monks there, most of whom are students
of the hinayana.

East from (this), when you have travelled eight yojanas, is the place
where Buddha converted[14] the evil demon. There, and where he walked
(in meditation) and sat at the place which was his regular abode,
there have been topes erected. There is also a monastery, which may
contain more than a hundred monks.


[1] Fa-hien is here mentioned singly, as in the account of his visit
to the cave on Gridhra-kuta. I think that Tao-ching may have remained
at Patna after their first visit to it.

[2] See chap. xxvii, note 1.

[3] "The city surrounded by rivers;" the modern Benares, lat. 25d 23s
N., lon. 83d 5s E.

[4] "The rishi," says Eitel, "is a man whose bodily frame has
undergone a certain transformation by dint of meditation and ascetism,
so that he is, for an indefinite period, exempt from decrepitude, age,
and death. As this period is believed to extend far beyond the usual
duration of human life, such persons are called, and popularly
believed to be, immortals." Rishis are divided into various classes;
and rishi-ism is spoken of as a seventh part of transrotation, and
rishis are referred to as the seventh class of sentient beings.
Taoism, as well as Buddhism, has its Seen jin.

[5] See chap. xiii, note 15.

[6] See chap. xxii, note 2.

[7] For another legend about this park, and the identification of "a
fine wood" still existing, see note in Beal's first version, p. 135.

[8] A prince of Magadha and a maternal uncle of Sakyamuni, who gave
him the name of Ajnata, meaning automat; and hence he often appears as
Ajnata Kaundinya. He and his four friends had followed Sakyamuni into
the Uruvilva desert, sympathising with him in the austerities he
endured, and hoping that they would issue in his Buddhaship. They were
not aware that that issue had come; which may show us that all the
accounts in the thirty-first chapter are merely descriptions, by means
of external imagery, of what had taken place internally. The kingdom
of nirvana had come without observation. These friends knew it not;
and they were offended by what they considered Sakyamuni's failure,
and the course he was now pursuing. See the account of their
conversion in M. B., p. 186.

[9] This is the only instance in Fa-hien's text where the Bodhisattva
or Buddha is called by the surname "Gotama." For the most part our
traveller uses Buddha as a proper name, though it properly means "The
Enlightened." He uses also the combinations "Sakya Buddha,"="The
Buddha of the Sakya tribe," and "Sakyamuni,"="The Sakya sage." This
last is the most common designation of the Buddha in China, and to my
mind best combines the characteristics of a descriptive and a proper
name. Among other Buddhistic peoples "Gotama" and "Gotama Buddha" are
the more frequent designations. It is not easy to account for the rise
of the surname Gotama in the Sakya family, as Oldenberg acknowledges.
He says that "the Sakyas, in accordance with the custom of Indian
noble families, had borrowed it from one of the ancient Vedic bard
families." Dr. Davids ("Buddhism," p. 27) says: "The family name was
certainly Gautama," adding in a note, "It is a curious fact that
Gautama is still the family name of the Rajput chiefs of Nagara, the
village which has been identified with Kapilavastu." Dr. Eitel says
that "Gautama was the sacerdotal name of the Sakya family, which
counted the ancient rishi Gautama among its ancestors." When we
proceed, however, to endeavour to trace the connexion of that
Brahmanical rishi with the Sakya house, by means of 1323, 1468, 1469,
and other historical works in Nanjio's Catalogue, we soon find that
Indian histories have no surer foundation than the shifting sand;--see
E. H., on the name Sakya, pp. 108, 109. We must be content for the
present simply to accept Gotama as one of the surnames of the Buddha
with whom we have to do.

[10] See chap. vi, note 5. It is there said that the prediction of
Maitreya's succession to the Buddhaship was made to him in the Tushita
heaven. Was there a repetition of it here in the Deer-park, or was a
prediction now given concerning something else?

[11] Nothing seems to be known of this naga but what we read here.

[12] Identified by some with Kusia, near Kurrah (lat. 25d 41s N., lon.
81d 27s E.); by others with Kosam on the Jumna, thirty miles above
Allahabad. See E. H., p. 55.

[13] Ghochira was the name of a Vaisya elder, or head, who presented a
garden and vihara to Buddha. Hardy (M. B., p. 356) quotes a statement
from a Singhalese authority that Sakyamuni resided here during the
ninth year of his Buddhaship.

[14] Dr. Davids thinks this may refer to the striking and beautiful
story of the conversion of the Yakkha Alavaka, as related in the
Uragavagga, Alavakasutta, pp. 29-31 (Sacred Books of the East, vol. x,
part ii).



South from this 200 yojanas, there is a country named Dakshina,[1]
where there is a monastery (dedicated to) the bygone Kasyapa Buddha,
and which has been hewn out from a large hill of rock. It consists in
all of five storeys;--the lowest, having the form of an elephant, with
500 apartments in the rock; the second, having the form of a lion,
with 400 apartments; the third, having the form of a horse, with 300
apartments; the fourth, having the form of an ox, with 200 apartments;
and the fifth, having the form of a pigeon, with 100 apartments. At
the very top there is a spring, the water of which, always in front of
the apartments in the rock, goes round among the rooms, now circling,
now curving, till in this way it arrives at the lowest storey, having
followed the shape of the structure, and flows out there at the door.
Everywhere in the apartments of the monks, the rock has been pierced
so as to form windows for the admission of light, so that they are all
bright, without any being left in darkness. At the four corners of the
(tiers of) apartments, the rock has been hewn so as to form steps for
ascending to the top (of each). The men of the present day, being of
small size, and going up step by step, manage to get to the top; but
in a former age, they did so at one step.[2] Because of this, the
monastery is called Paravata, that being the Indian name for a pigeon.
There are always Arhats residing in it.

The country about is (a tract of) uncultivated hillocks,[3] without
inhabitants. At a very long distance from the hill there are villages,
where the people all have bad and erroneous views, and do not know the
Sramanas of the Law of Buddha, Brahmanas, or (devotees of) any of the
other and different schools. The people of that country are constantly
seeing men on the wing, who come and enter this monastery. On one
occasion, when devotees of various countries came to perform their
worship at it, the people of those villages said to them, "Why do you
not fly? The devotees whom we have seen hereabouts all fly;" and the
strangers answered, on the spur of the moment, "Our wings are not yet
fully formed."

The kingdom of Dakshina is out of the way, and perilous to traverse.
There are difficulties in connexion with the roads; but those who know
how to manage such difficulties and wish to proceed should bring with
them money and various articles, and give them to the king. He will
then send men to escort them. These will (at different stages) pass
them over to others, who will show them the shortest routes. Fa-hien,
however, was after all unable to go there; but having received the
(above) accounts from men of the country, he has narrated them.


[1] Said to be the ancient name of the Deccan. As to the various
marvels in the chapter, it must be borne in mind that our author, as
he tells us at the end, only gives them from hearsay. See "Buddhist
Records of the Western World," vol. ii, pp. 214, 215, where the
description, however, is very different.

[2] Compare the account of Buddha's great stride of fifteen yojanas in
Ceylon, as related in chapter xxxviii.

[3] See the same phrase in the Books of the Later Han dynasty, the
twenty-fourth Book of Biographies, p. 9b.



From Varanasi (the travellers) went back east to Pataliputtra.
Fa-hien's original object had been to search for (copies of) the
Vinaya. In the various kingdoms of North India, however, he had found
one master transmitting orally (the rules) to another, but no written
copies which he could transcribe. He had therefore travelled far and
come on to Central India. Here, in the mahayana monastery,[1] he found
a copy of the Vinaya, containing the Mahasanghika[2] rules,--those
which were observed in the first Great Council, while Buddha was still
in the world. The original copy was handed down in the Jetavana
vihara. As to the other eighteen schools,[3] each one has the views
and decisions of its own masters. Those agree (with this) in the
general meaning, but they have small and trivial differences, as when
one opens and another shuts.[4] This copy (of the rules), however, is
the most complete, with the fullest explanations.[5]

He further got a transcript of the rules in six or seven thousand
gathas,[6] being the sarvastivadah[7] rules,--those which are observed
by the communities of monks in the land of Ts'in; which also have all
been handed down orally from master to master without being committed
to writing. In the community here, moreover, we got the Samyuktabhi-
dharma-hridaya-(sastra),[8] containing about six or seven thousand
gathas; he also got a Sutra of 2500 gathas; one chapter of the
Parinir-vana-vaipulya Sutra,[9] of about 5000 gathas; and the Mahasan-
ghikah Abhidharma.

In consequence (of this success in his quest) Fa-hien stayed here for
three years, learning Sanskrit books and the Sanskrit speech, and
writing out the Vinaya rules. When Tao-ching arrived in the Central
Kingdom, and saw the rules observed by the Sramanas, and the dignified
demeanour in their societies which he remarked under all occurring
circumstances, he sadly called to mind in what a mutilated and
imperfect condition the rules were among the monkish communities in
the land of Ts'in, and made the following aspiration:--"From this time
forth till I come to the state of Buddha, let me not be born in a
frontier land."[10] He remained accordingly (in India), and did not
return (to the land of Han). Fa-hien, however, whose original purpose
had been to secure the introduction of the complete Vinaya rules into
the land of Han, returned there alone.


[1] Mentioned before in chapter xxvii.

[2] Mahasanghikah simply means "the Great Assembly," that is, of
monks. When was this first assembly in the time of Sakyamuni held? It
does not appear that the rules observed at it were written down at the
time. The document found by Fa-hien would be a record of those rules;
or rather a copy of that record. We must suppose that the original
record had disappeared from the Jetavana vihara, or Fa-hien would
probably have spoken of it when he was there, and copied it, if he had
been allowed to do so.

[3] The eighteen pu {.}. Four times in this chapter the character
called pu occurs, and in the first and two last instances it can only
have the meaning, often belonging to it, of "copy." The second
instance, however, is different. How should there be eighteen copies,
all different from the original, and from one another, in minor
matters? We are compelled to translate--"the eighteen schools," an
expression well known in all Buddhist writings. See Rhys Davids'
Manual, p. 218, and the authorities there quoted.

[4] This is equivalent to the "binding" and "loosing," "opening" and
"shutting," which found their way into the New Testament, and the
Christian Church, from the schools of the Jewish Rabbins.

[5] It was afterwards translated by Fa-hien into Chinese. See Nanjio's
Catalogue of the Chinese Tripitaka, columns 400 and 401, and Nos. 1119
and 1150, columns 247 and 253.

[6] A gatha is a stanza, generally consisting, it has seemed to me, of
a few, commonly of two, lines somewhat metrically arranged; but I do
not know that its length is strictly defined.

[7] "A branch," says Eitel, "of the great vaibhashika school,
asserting the reality of all visible phenomena, and claiming the
authority of Rahula."

[8] See Nanjio's Catalogue, No. 1287. He does not mention it in his
account of Fa-hien, who, he says, translated the Samyukta-pitaka

[9] Probably Nanjio's Catalogue, No. 120; at any rate, connected with

[10] This then would be the consummation of the Sramana's being,--to
get to be Buddha, the Buddha of his time in his Kalpa; and Tao-ching
thought that he could attain to this consummation by a succession of
births; and was likely to attain to it sooner by living only in India.
If all this was not in his mind, he yet felt that each of his
successive lives would be happier, if lived in India.



Following the course of the Ganges, and descending eastwards for
eighteen yojanas, he found on the southern bank the great kingdom of
Champa,[1] with topes reared at the places where Buddha walked in
meditation by his vihara, and where he and the three Buddhas, his
predecessors, sat. There were monks residing at them all. Continuing
his journey east for nearly fifty yojanas, he came to the country of
Tamalipti,[2] (the capital of which is) a seaport. In the country
there are twenty-two monasteries, at all of which there are monks
residing. The Law of Buddha is also flourishing in it. Here Fa-hien
stayed two years, writing out his Sutras,[3] and drawing pictures of

After this he embarked in a large merchant-vessel, and went floating
over the sea to the south-west. It was the beginning of winter, and
the wind was favourable; and, after fourteen days, sailing day and
night, they came to the country of Singhala.[4] The people said that
it was distant (from Tamalipti) about 700 yojanas.

The kingdom is on a large island, extending from east to west fifty
yojanas, and from north to south thirty. Left and right from it there
are as many as 100 small islands, distant from one another ten,
twenty, or even 200 le; but all subject to the large island. Most of
them produce pearls and precious stones of various kinds; there is one
which produces the pure and brilliant pearl,[5]--an island which would
form a square of about ten le. The king employs men to watch and
protect it, and requires three out of every ten such pearls, which the
collectors find.


[1] Probably the modern Champanagur, three miles west of Baglipoor,
lat. 25d 14s N., lon. 56d 55s E.

[2] Then the principal emporium for the trade with Ceylon and China;
the modern Tam-look, lat. 22d 17s N., lon. 88d 2s E.; near the mouth
of the Hoogly.

[3] Perhaps Ching {.} is used here for any portions of the Tripitaka
which he had obtained.

[4] "The Kingdom of the Lion," Ceylon. Singhala was the name of a
merchant adventurer from India, to whom the founding of the kingdom
was ascribed. His father was named Singha, "the Lion," which became
the name of the country;--Singhala, or Singha-Kingdom, "the Country of
the Lion."

[5] Called the mani pearl or bead. Mani is explained as meaning "free
from stain," "bright and growing purer." It is a symbol of Buddha and
of his Law. The most valuable rosaries are made of manis.



The country originally had no human inhabitants,[1] but was occupied
only by spirits and nagas, with which merchants of various countries
carried on a trade. When the trafficking was taking place, the spirits
did not show themselves. They simply set forth their precious
commodities, with labels of the price attached to them; while the
merchants made their purchases according to the price; and took the
things away.

Through the coming and going of the merchants (in this way), when they
went away, the people of (their) various countries heard how pleasant
the land was, and flocked to it in numbers till it became a great
nation. The (climate) is temperate and attractive, without any
difference of summer and winter. The vegetation is always luxuriant.
Cultivation proceeds whenever men think fit: there are no fixed
seasons for it.

When Buddha came to this country,[2] wishing to transform the wicked
nagas, by his supernatural power he planted one foot at the north of
the royal city, and the other on the top of a mountain,[3] the two
being fifteen yojanas apart. Over the footprint at the north of the
city the king built a large tope, 400 cubits high, grandly adorned
with gold and silver, and finished with a combination of all the
precious substances. By the side of the top he further built a
monastery, called the Abhayagiri,[4] where there are (now) five
thousand monks. There is in it a hall of Buddha, adorned with carved
and inlaid works of gold and silver, and rich in the seven precious
substances, in which there is an image (of Buddha) in green jade, more
than twenty cubits in height, glittering all over with those
substances, and having an appearance of solemn dignity which words
cannot express. In the palm of the right hand there is a priceless
pearl. Several years had now elapsed since Fa-hien left the land of
Han; the men with whom he had been in intercourse had all been of
regions strange to him; his eyes had not rested on an old and familiar
hill or river, plant or tree; his fellow-travellers, moreover, had
been separated from him, some by death, and others flowing off in
different directions; no face or shadow was now with him but his own,
and a constant sadness was in his heart. Suddenly (one day), when by
the side of this image of jade, he saw a merchant presenting as his
offering a fan of white silk;[5] and the tears of sorrow involuntarily
filled his eyes and fell down.

A former king of the country had sent to Central India and got a slip
of the patra tree,[6] which he planted by the side of the hall of
Buddha, where a tree grew up to the height of about 200 cubits. As it
bent on one side towards the south-east, the king, fearing it would
fall, propped it with a post eight or nine spans round. The tree began
to grow at the very heart of the prop, where it met (the trunk); (a
shoot) pierced through the post, and went down to the ground, where it
entered and formed roots, that rose (to the surface) and were about
four spans round. Although the post was split in the middle, the outer
portions kept hold (of the shoot), and people did not remove them.
Beneath the tree there has been built a vihara, in which there is an
image (of Buddha) seated, which the monks and commonalty reverence and
look up to without ever becoming wearied. In the city there has been
reared also the vihara of Buddha's tooth, on which, as well as on the
other, the seven precious substances have been employed.

The king practises the Brahmanical purifications, and the sincerity of
the faith and reverence of the population inside the city are also
great. Since the establishment of government in the kingdom there has
been no famine or scarcity, no revolution or disorder. In the
treasuries of the monkish communities there are many precious stones,
and the priceless manis. One of the kings (once) entered one of those
treasuries, and when he looked all round and saw the priceless pearls,
his covetous greed was excited, and he wished to take them to himself
by force. In three days, however, he came to himself, and immediately
went and bowed his head to the ground in the midst of the monks, to
show his repentance of the evil thought. As a sequel to this, he
informed the monks (of what had been in his mind), and desired them to
make a regulation that from that day forth the king should not be
allowed to enter the treasury and see (what it contained), and that no
bhikshu should enter it till after he had been in orders for a period
of full forty years.[7]

In the city there are many Vaisya elders and Sabaean[8] merchants,
whose houses are stately and beautiful. The lanes and passages are
kept in good order. At the heads of the four principal streets there
have been built preaching halls, where, on the eighth, fourteenth, and
fifteenth days of the month, they spread carpets, and set forth a
pulpit, while the monks and commonalty from all quarters come together
to hear the Law. The people say that in the kingdom there may be
altogether sixty thousand monks, who get their food from their common
stores. The king, besides, prepares elsewhere in the city a common
supply of food for five or six thousand more. When any want, they take
their great bowls, and go (to the place of distribution), and take as
much as the vessels will hold, all returning with them full.

The tooth of Buddha is always brought forth in the middle of the third
month. Ten days beforehand the king grandly caparisons a large
elephant, on which he mounts a man who can speak distinctly, and is
dressed in royal robes, to beat a large drum, and make the following
proclamation:--"The Bodhisattva, during three Asankhyeya-kalpas,[9]
manifested his activity, and did not spare his own life. He gave up
kingdom, city, wife, and son; he plucked out his eyes and gave them to
another;[10] he cut off a piece of his own flesh to ransom the life of
a dove;[10] he cut off his head and gave it as an alms;[11] he gave
his body to feed a starving tigress;[11] he grudged not his marrow and
his brains. In many such ways as these did he undergo pain for the
sake of all living. And so it was, that, having become Buddha, he
continued in the world for forty-five years, preaching his Law,
teaching and transforming, so that those who had no rest found rest,
and the unconverted were converted. When his connexion with the living
was completed,[12] he attained to pari-nirvana (and died). Since that
event, for 1497 years, the light of the world has gone out,[13] and
all living beings have had long-continued sadness. Behold! ten days
after this, Buddha's tooth will be brought forth, and taken to the
Abhayagiri-vihara. Let all and each, whether monks or laics, who wish
to amass merit for themselves, make the roads smooth and in good
condition, grandly adorn the lanes and by-ways, and provide abundant
store of flowers and incense to be used as offerings to it."

When this proclamation is over, the king exhibits, so as to line both
sides of the road, the five hundred different bodily forms in which
the Bodhisattva has in the course of his history appeared:--here as
Sudana,[14] there as Sama;[15] now as the king of elephants;[16] and
then as a stag or a horse.[16] All these figures are brightly coloured
and grandly executed, looking as if they were alive. After this the
tooth of Buddha is brought forth, and is carried along in the middle
of the road. Everywhere on the way offerings are presented to it, and
thus it arrives at the hall of Buddha in the Abhayagiri-vihara. There
monks and laics are collected in crowds. They burn incense, light
lamps, and perform all the prescribed services, day and night without
ceasing, till ninety days have been completed, when (the tooth) is
returned to the vihara within the city. On fast-days the door of that
vihara is opened, and the forms of ceremonial reverence are observed
according to the rules.

Forty le to the east of the Abhayagiri-vihara there is a hill, with a
vihara on it, called the Chaitya,[17] where there may be 2000 monks.
Among them there is a Sramana of great virtue, named Dharma-gupta,[18]
honoured and looked up to by all the kingdom. He has lived for more
than forty years in an apartment of stone, constantly showing such
gentleness of heart, that he has brought snakes and rats to stop
together in the same room, without doing one another any harm.


[1] It is desirable to translate {.} {.}, for which "inhabitants" or
"people" is elsewhere sufficient, here by "human inhabitants."
According to other accounts Singhala was originally occupied by
Rakshasas or Rakshas, "demons who devour men," and "beings to be
feared," monstrous cannibals or anthropophagi, the terror of the
shipwrecked mariner. Our author's "spirits" {.} {.} were of a gentler
type. His dragons or nagas have come before us again and again.

[2] That Sakyamuni ever visited Ceylon is to me more than doubtful.
Hardy, in M. B., pp. 207-213, has brought together the legends of
three visits,--in the first, fifth, and eighth years of his
Buddhaship. It is plain, however, from Fa-hien's narrative, that in
the beginning of our fifth century, Buddhism prevailed throughout the
island. Davids in the last chapter of his "Buddhism" ascribes its
introduction to one of Asoka's missions, after the Council of Patna,
under his son Mahinda, when Tissa, "the delight of the gods," was king
(B.C. 250-230).

[3] This would be what is known as "Adam's peak," having, according to
Hardy (pp. 211, 212, notes), the three names of Selesumano,
Samastakuta, and Samanila. "There is an indentation on the top of it,"
a superficial hollow, 5 feet 3 3/4 inches long, and about 2 1/2 feet
wide. The Hindus regard it as the footprint of Siva; the Mohameddans,
as that of Adam; and the Buddhists, as in the text,--as having been
made by Buddha.

[4] Meaning "The Fearless Hill." There is still the Abhayagiri tope,
the highest in Ceylon, according to Davids, 250 feet in height, and
built about B.C. 90, by Watta Gamini, in whose reign, about 160 years
after the Council of Patna, and 330 years after the death of
Sakyamuni, the Tripitaka was first reduced to writing in Ceylon;--
"Buddhism," p. 234.

[5] We naturally suppose that the merchant-offerer was a Chinese, as
indeed the Chinese texts say, and the fan such as Fa-hien had seen and
used in his native land.

[6] This should be the pippala, or bodhidruma, generally spoken of, in
connexion with Buddha, as the Bo tree, under which he attained to the
Buddhaship. It is strange our author should have confounded them as he
seems to do. In what we are told of the tree here, we have, no doubt,
his account of the planting, growth, and preservation of the famous Bo
tree, which still exists in Ceylon. It has been stated in a previous
note that Asoka's son, Mahinda, went as the apostle of Buddhism to
Ceylon. By-and-by he sent for his sister Sanghamitta, who had entered
the order at the same time as himself, and whose help was needed, some
of the king's female relations having signified their wish to become
nuns. On leaving India, she took with her a branch of the sacred Bo
tree at Buddha Gaya, under which Sakyamuni had become Buddha. Of how
the tree has grown and still lives we have an account in Davids'
"Buddhism." He quotes the words of Sir Emerson Tennent, that it is
"the oldest historical tree in the world;" but this must be denied if
it be true, as Eitel says, that the tree at Buddha Gaya, from which
the slip that grew to be this tree was taken more than 2000 years ago,
is itself still living in its place. We must conclude that Fa-hien,
when in Ceylon, heard neither of Mahinda nor Sanghamitta.

[7] Compare what is said in chap. xvi, about the inquiries made at
monasteries as to the standing of visitors in the monkhood, and
duration of their ministry.

[8] The phonetic values of the two Chinese characters here are in
Sanskrit sa; and va, bo or bha. "Sabaean" is Mr. Beal's reading of
them, probably correct. I suppose the merchants were Arabs,
forerunners of the so-called Moormen, who still form so important a
part of the mercantile community in Ceylon.

[9] A Kalpa, we have seen, denotes a great period of time; a period
during which a physical universe is formed and destroyed. Asankhyeya
denotes the highest sum for which a conventional term exists;--
according to Chinese calculations equal to one followed by seventeen
ciphers; according to Thibetan and Singhalese, equal to one followed
by ninety-seven ciphers. Every Maha-kalpa consists of four Asankhyeya-
kalpas. Eitel, p. 15.

[10] See chapter ix.

[11] See chapter xi.

[12] He had been born in the Sakya house, to do for the world what the
character of all his past births required, and he had done it.

[13] They could no more see him, the World-honoured one. Compare the
Sacred Books of the East, vol. xi, Buddhist Suttas, pp. 89, 121, and
note on p. 89.

[14] Sudana or Sudatta was the name of the Bodhisattva in the birth
which preceded his appearance as Sakyamuni or Gotama, when he became
the Supreme Buddha. This period is known as the Vessantara Jataka, of
which Hardy, M. B., pp. 116-124, gives a long account; see also
"Buddhist Birth Stories," the Nidana Katha, p. 158. In it, as Sudana,
he fulfilled "the Perfections," his distinguishing attribute being
entire self-renunciation and alms-giving, so that in the Nidana Katha
is made to say ("Buddhist Birth Stories," p. 159):--

"This earth, unconscious though she be, and ignorant of joy or grief,
Even she by my free-giving's mighty power was shaken seven times."

Then, when he passed away, he appeared in the Tushita heaven, to enter
in due time the womb of Maha-maya, and be born as Sakyamuni.

[15] I take the name Sama from Beal's revised version. He says in a
note that the Sama Jataka, as well as the Vessantara, is represented
in the Sanchi sculptures. But what the Sama Jataka was I do not yet
know. But adopting this name, the two Chinese characters in the text
should be translated "the change into Sama." Remusat gives for them,
"la transformation en eclair;" Beal, in his first version, "his
appearance as a bright flash of light;" Giles, "as a flash of
lightning." Julien's Methode does not give the phonetic value in
Sanskrit of {.}.

[16] In an analysis of the number of times and the different forms in
which Sakyamuni had appeared in his Jataka births, given by Hardy (M.
B., p. 100), it is said that he had appeared six times as an elephant;
ten times as a deer; and four times as a horse.

[17] Chaitya is a general term designating all places and objects of
religious worship which have a reference to ancient Buddhas, and
including therefore Stupas and temples as well as sacred relics,
pictures, statues, &c. It is defined as "a fane," "a place for worship
and presenting offerings." Eitel, p. 141. The hill referred to is the
sacred hill of Mihintale, about eight miles due east of the Bo tree;--
Davids' Buddhism, pp. 230, 231.

[18] Eitel says (p. 31): "A famous ascetic, the founder of a school,
which flourished in Ceylon, A.D. 400." But Fa-hien gives no intimation
of Dharma-gupta's founding a school.



South of the city seven le there is a vihara, called the Maha-vihara,
where 3000 monks reside. There had been among them a Sramana, of such
lofty virtue, and so holy and pure in his observance of the
disciplinary rules, that the people all surmised that he was an Arhat.
When he drew near his end, the king came to examine into the point;
and having assembled the monks according to rule, asked whether the
bhikshu had attained to the full degree of Wisdom.[1] They answered in
the affirmative, saying that he was an Arhat. The king accordingly,
when he died, buried him after the fashion of an Arhat, as the regular
rules prescribed. Four of five le east from the vihara there was
reared a great pile of firewood, which might be more than thirty
cubits square, and the same in height. Near the top were laid sandal,
aloe, and other kinds of fragrant wood.

On the four sides (of the pile) they made steps by which to ascend it.
With clean white hair-cloth, almost like silk, they wrapped (the body)
round and round.[2] They made a large carriage-frame, in form like our
funeral car, but without the dragons and fishes.[3]

At the time of the cremation, the king and the people, in multitudes
from all quarters, collected together, and presented offerings of
flowers and incense. While they were following the car to the burial-
ground,[4] the king himself presented flowers and incense. When this
was finished, the car was lifted on the pile, all over which oil of
sweet basil was poured, and then a light was applied. While the fire
was blazing, every one, with a reverent heart, pulled off his upper
garment, and threw it, with his feather-fan and umbrella, from a
distance into the midst of the flames, to assist the burning. When the
cremation was over, they collected and preserved the bones, and
proceeded to erect a tope. Fa-hien had not arrived in time (to see the
distinguished Shaman) alive, and only saw his burial.

At that time the king,[5] who was a sincere believer in the Law of
Buddha and wished to build a new vihara for the monks, first convoked
a great assembly. After giving the monks a meal of rice, and
presenting his offerings (on the occasion), he selected a pair of
first-rate oxen, the horns of which were grandly decorated with gold,
silver, and the precious substances. A golden plough had been
provided, and the king himself turned up a furrow on the four sides of
the ground within which the building was supposed to be. He then
endowed the community of the monks with the population, fields, and
houses, writing the grant on plates of metal, (to the effect) that
from that time onwards, from generation to generation, no one should
venture to annul or alter it.

In this country Fa-hien heard an Indian devotee, who was reciting a
Sutra from the pulpit, say:--"Buddha's alms-bowl was at first in
Vaisali, and now it is in Gandhara.[6] After so many hundred years'
(he gave, when Fa-hien heard him, the exact number of years, but he
has forgotten it), "it will go to Western Tukhara;[7] after so many
hundred years, to Khoten; after so many hundred years, to
Kharachar;[8] after so many hundred years, to the land of Han; after
so many hundred years, it will come to Sinhala; and after so many
hundred years, it will return to Central India. After that, it will
ascend to the Tushita heaven; and when the Bodhisattva Maitreya sees
it, he will say with a sigh, 'The alms-bowl of Sakyamuni Buddha is
come;' and with all the devas he will present to it flowers and
incense for seven days. When these have expired, it will return to
Jambudvipa, where it will be received by the king of the sea nagas,
and taken into his naga palace. When Maitreya shall be about to attain
to perfect Wisdom (and become Buddha), it will again separate into
four bowls,[9] which will return to the top of mount Anna,[9] whence
they came. After Maitreya has become Buddha, the four deva kings will
again think of the Buddha (with their bowls as they did in the case of
the previous Buddha). The thousand Buddhas of this Bhadra-kalpa,
indeed, will all use the same alms-bowl; and when the bowl has
disappeared, the Law of Buddha will go on gradually to be
extinguished. After that extinction has taken place, the life of man
will be shortened, till it is only a period of five years. During this
period of a five years' life, rice, butter, and oil will all vanish
away, and men will become exceedingly wicked. The grass and trees
which they lay hold of will change into swords and clubs, with which
they will hurt, cut, and kill one another. Those among them on whom
there is blessing will withdraw from society among the hills; and when
the wicked have exterminated one another, they will again come forth,
and say among themselves, 'The men of former times enjoyed a very
great longevity; but through becoming exceedingly wicked, and doing
all lawless things, the length of our life has been shortened and
reduced even to five years. Let us now unite together in the practice
of what is good, cherishing a gentle and sympathising heart, and
carefully cultivating good faith and righteousness. When each one in
this way practises that faith and righteousness, life will go on to
double its length till it reaches 80,000 years. When Maitreya appears
in the world, and begins to turn the wheel of his Law, he will in the
first place save those among the disciples of the Law left by the
Sakya who have quitted their families, and those who have accepted the
three Refuges, undertaken the five Prohibitions and the eight
Abstinences, and given offerings to the three Precious Ones; secondly
and thirdly, he will save those between whom and conversion there is a
connexion transmitted from the past.'"[10]

(Such was the discourse), and Fa-hien wished to write it down as a
portion of doctrine; but the man said, "This is taken from no Sutra,
it is only the utterance of my own mind."


[1] Possibly, "and asked the bhikshu," &c. I prefer the other way of
construing, however.

[2] It seems strange that this should have been understood as a
wrapping of the immense pyre with the cloth. There is nothing in the
text to necessitate such a version, but the contrary. Compare
"Buddhist Suttas," pp. 92, 93.

[3] See the description of a funeral car and its decorations in the
Sacred Books of the East, vol. xxviii, the Li Ki, Book XIX. Fa-hien's
{.} {.}, "in this (country)," which I have expressed by "our," shows
that whatever notes of this cremation he had taken at the time, the
account in the text was composed after his return to China, and when
he had the usages there in his mind and perhaps before his eyes. This
disposes of all difficulty occasioned by the "dragons" and "fishes."
The {.} at the end is merely the concluding particle.

[4] The pyre served the purpose of a burial-ground or grave, and hence
our author writes of it as such.

[5] This king must have been Maha-nana (A.D. 410-432). In the time of
his predecessor, Upatissa (A.D. 368-410), the pitakas were first
translated into Singhalese. Under Maha-nana, Buddhaghosha wrote his
commentaries. Both were great builders of viharas. See the Mahavansa,
pp. 247, foll.

[6] See chapter xii. Fa-hien had seen it at Purushapura, which Eitel
says was "the ancient capital of Gandhara."

[7] Western Tukhara ({.} {.}) is the same probably as the Tukhara
({.}) of chapter xii, a king of which is there described as trying to
carry off the bowl from Purushapura.

[8] North of the Bosteng lake at the foot of the Thien-shan range (E.
H., p. 56).

[9] See chap. xii, note 9. Instead of "Anna" the Chinese recensions
have Vina; but Vina or Vinataka, and Ana for Sudarsana are names of
one or other of the concentric circles of rocks surrounding mount
Meru, the fabled home of the deva guardians of the bowl.

[10] That is, those whose Karma in the past should be rewarded by such
conversion in the present.



Fa-hien abode in this country two years; and, in addition (to his
acquisitions in Patna), succeeded in getting a copy of the Vinaya-
pitaka of the Mahisasakah (school);[1] the Dirghagama and
Samyuktagama[2] (Sutras); and also the Samyukta-sanchaya-pitaka;[3]--
all being works unknown in the land of Han. Having obtained these
Sanskrit works, he took passage in a large merchantman, on board of
which there were more than 200 men, and to which was attached by a
rope a smaller vessel, as a provision against damage or injury to the
large one from the perils of the navigation. With a favourable wind,
they proceeded eastwards for three days, and then they encountered a
great wind. The vessel sprang a leak and the water came in. The
merchants wished to go to the small vessel; but the men on board it,
fearing that too many would come, cut the connecting rope. The
merchants were greatly alarmed, feeling their risk of instant death.
Afraid that the vessel would fill, they took their bulky goods and
threw them into the water. Fa-hien also took his pitcher[4] and
washing-basin, with some other articles, and cast them into the sea;
but fearing that the merchants would cast overboard his books and
images, he could only think with all his heart of Kwan-she-yin,[5] and
commit his life to (the protection of) the church of the land of
Han,[6] (saying in effect), "I have travelled far in search of our
Law. Let me, by your dread and supernatural (power), return from my
wanderings, and reach my resting-place!"

In this way the tempest[7] continued day and night, till on the
thirteenth day the ship was carried to the side of an island, where,
on the ebbing of the tide, the place of the leak was discovered, and
it was stopped, on which the voyage was resumed. On the sea
(hereabouts) there are many pirates, to meet with whom is speedy
death. The great ocean spreads out, a boundless expanse. There is no
knowing east or west; only by observing the sun, moon, and stars was
it possible to go forward. If the weather were dark and rainy, (the
ship) went as she was carried by the wind, without any definite
course. In the darkness of the night, only the great waves were to be
seen, breaking on one another, and emitting a brightness like that of
fire, with huge turtles and other monsters of the deep (all about).
The merchants were full of terror, not knowing where they were going.
The sea was deep and bottomless, and there was no place where they
could drop anchor and stop. But when the sky became clear, they could
tell east and west, and (the ship) again went forward in the right
direction. If she had come on any hidden rock, there would have been
no way of escape.

After proceeding in this way for rather more than ninety days, they
arrived at a country called Java-dvipa, where various forms of error
and Brahmanism are flourishing, while Buddhism in it is not worth
speaking of. After staying there for five months, (Fa-hien) again
embarked in another large merchantman, which also had on board more
than 200 men. They carried provisions for fifty days, and commenced
the voyage on the sixteenth day of the fourth month.

Fa-hien kept his retreat on board the ship. They took a course to the
north-east, intending to fetch Kwang-chow. After more than a month,
when the night-drum had sounded the second watch, they encountered a
black wind and tempestuous rain, which threw the merchants and
passengers into consternation. Fa-hien again with all his heart
directed his thoughts to Kwan-she-yin and the monkish communities of
the land of Han; and, through their dread and mysterious protection,
was preserved to day-break. After day-break, the Brahmans deliberated
together and said, "It is having this Sramana on board which has
occasioned our misfortune and brought us this great and bitter
suffering. Let us land the bhikshu and place him on some island-shore.
We must not for the sake of one man allow ourselves to be exposed to
such imminent peril." A patron of Fa-hien, however, said to them, "If
you land the bhikshu, you must at the same time land me; and if you do
not, then you must kill me. If you land this Sramana, when I get to
the land of Han, I will go to the king, and inform against you. The
king also reveres and believes the Law of Buddha, and honours the
bhikshus." The merchants hereupon were perplexed, and did not dare
immediately to land (Fa-hien).

At this time the sky continued very dark and gloomy, and the sailing-
masters looked at one another and made mistakes. More than seventy
days passed (from their leaving Java), and the provisions and water
were nearly exhausted. They used the salt-water of the sea for
cooking, and carefully divided the (fresh) water, each man getting two
pints. Soon the whole was nearly gone, and the merchants took counsel
and said, "At the ordinary rate of sailing we ought to have reached
Kwang-chow, and now the time is passed by many days;--must we not have
held a wrong course?" Immediately they directed the ship to the north-
west, looking out for land; and after sailing day and night for twelve
days, they reached the shore on the south of mount Lao,[8] on the
borders of the prefecture of Ch'ang-kwang,[8] and immediately got good
water and vegetables. They had passed through many perils and
hardships, and had been in a state of anxious apprehension for many
days together; and now suddenly arriving at this shore, and seeing
those (well-known) vegetables, the lei and kwoh,[9] they knew indeed
that it was the land of Han. Not seeing, however, any inhabitants nor
any traces of them, they did not know whereabouts they were. Some said
that they had not yet got to Kwang-chow, and others that they had
passed it. Unable to come to a definite conclusion, (some of them) got
into a small boat and entered a creek, to look for some one of whom
they might ask what the place was. They found two hunters, whom they
brought back with them, and then called on Fa-hien to act as
interpreter and question them. Fa-hien first spoke assuringly to them,
and then slowly and distinctly asked them, "Who are you?" They
replied, "We are disciples of Buddha?" He then asked, "What are you
looking for among these hills?" They began to lie,[10] and said,
"To-morrow is the fifteenth day of the seventh month. We wanted to get
some peaches to present[11] to Buddha." He asked further, "What
country is this?" They replied, "This is the border of the prefecture
of Ch'ang-kwang, a part of Ts'ing-chow under the (ruling) House of
Tsin." When they heard this, the merchants were glad, immediately
asked for (a portion of) their money and goods, and sent men to
Ch'ang-kwang city.

The prefect Le E was a reverent believer in the Law of Buddha. When he
heard that a Sramana had arrived in a ship across the sea, bringing
with him books and images, he immediately came to the seashore with an
escort to meet (the traveller), and receive the books and images, and
took them back with him to the seat of his government. On this the
merchants went back in the direction of Yang-chow;[12] (but) when
(Fa-hien) arrived at Ts'ing-chow, (the prefect there)[13] begged him
(to remain with him) for a winter and a summer. After the summer
retreat was ended, Fa-hien, having been separated for a long time from
his (fellow-)masters, wished to hurry to Ch'ang-gan; but as the
business which he had in hand was important, he went south to the
Capital;[14] and at an interview with the masters (there) exhibited
the Sutras and the collection of the Vinaya (which he had procured).

After Fa-hien set out from Ch'ang-gan, it took him six years to reach
Central India;[15] stoppages there extended over (other) six years;
and on his return it took him three years to reach Ts'ing-chow. The
countries through which he passed were a few under thirty. From the
sandy desert westwards on to India, the beauty of the dignified
demeanour of the monkhood and of the transforming influence of the Law
was beyond the power of language fully to describe; and reflecting how
our masters had not heard any complete account of them, he therefore
(went on) without regarding his own poor life, or (the dangers to be
encountered) on the sea upon his return, thus incurring hardships and
difficulties in a double form. He was fortunate enough, through the
dread power of the three Honoured Ones,[15] to receive help and
protection in his perils; and therefore he wrote out an account of his
experiences, that worthy readers might share with him in what he had
heard and said.[15]

It was in the year Keah-yin,[16] the twelfth year of the period E-he
of the (Eastern) Tsin dynasty, the year-star being in Virgo-Libra, in
the summer, at the close of the period of retreat, that I met the
devotee Fa-hien. On his arrival I lodged him with myself in the winter
study,[17] and there, in our meetings for conversation, I asked him
again and again about his travels. The man was modest and complaisant,
and answered readily according to the truth. I thereupon advised him
to enter into details where he had at first only given a summary, and
he proceeded to relate all things in order from the beginning to the
end. He said himself, "When I look back on what I have gone through,
my heart is involuntarily moved, and the perspiration flows forth.
That I encountered danger and trod the most perilous places, without
thinking of or sparing myself, was because I had a definite aim, and
thought of nothing but to do my best in my simplicity and
straightforwardness. Thus it was that I exposed my life where death
seemed inevitable, if I might accomplish but a ten-thousandth part of
what I hoped." These words affected me in turn, and I thought:--"This
man is one of those who have seldom been seen from ancient times to
the present. Since the Great Doctrine flowed on to the East there has
been no one to be compared with Hien in his forgetfulness of self and
search for the Law. Henceforth I know that the influence of sincerity
finds no obstacle, however great, which it does not overcome, and that
force of will does not fail to accomplish whatever service it
undertakes. Does not the accomplishing of such service arise from
forgetting (and disregarding) what is (generally) considered as
important, and attaching importance to what is (generally) forgotten?


[1] No. 1122 in Nanjio's Catalogue, translated into Chinese by
Buddhajiva and a Chinese Sramana about A.D. 425. Mahisasakah means
"the school of the transformed earth," or "the sphere within which the
Law of Buddha is influential." The school is one of the subdivisions
of the Sarvastivadah.

[2] Nanjio's 545 and 504. The Agamas are Sutras of the hinayana,
divided, according to Eitel, pp. 4, 5, into four classes, the first or
Dirghagamas (long Agamas) being treatises on right conduct, while the
third class contains the Samyuktagamas (mixed Agamas).

[3] Meaning "Miscellaneous Collections;" a sort of fourth Pitaka. See
Nanjio's fourth division of the Canon, containing Indian and Chinese
miscellaneous works. But Dr. Davids says that no work of this name is
known either in Sanskrit or Pali literature.

[4] We have in the text a phonetisation of the Sanskrit Kundika, which
is explained in Eitel by the two characters that follow, as="washing
basin," but two things evidently are intended.

[5] See chap. xvi, note 23.

[6] At his novitiate Fa-hien had sought the refuge of the "three
Precious Ones" (the three Refuges {.} {.} of last chapter), of which
the congregation or body of the monks was one; and here his thoughts
turn naturally to the branch of it in China. His words in his heart
were not exactly words of prayer, but very nearly so.

[7] In the text {.} {.}, ta-fung, "the great wind,"=the typhoon.

[8] They had got to the south of the Shan-tung promontory, and the
foot of mount Lao, which still rises under the same name on the
extreme south of the peninsula, east from Keao Chow, and having the
district of Tsieh-mih on the east of it. All the country there is
included in the present Phing-too Chow of the department Lae-chow. The
name Phing-too dates from the Han dynasty, but under the dynasty of
the After Ch'e {.} {.}, (A.D. 479-501), it was changed into Ch'ang-
kwang. Fa-hien may have lived, and composed the narrative of his
travels, after the change of name was adopted. See the Topographical
Tables of the different Dynasties ({.} {.} {.} {.} {.}), published in

[9] What these vegetables exactly were it is difficult to say; and
there are different readings of the characters for them. Williams'
Dictionary, under kwoh, brings the two names together in a phrase, but
the rendering of it is simply "a soup of simples." For two or three
columns here, however, the text appears to me confused and imperfect.

[10] I suppose these men were really hunters; and, when brought before
Fa-hien, because he was a Sramana, they thought they would please him
by saying they were disciples of Buddha. But what had disciples of
Buddha to do with hunting and taking life? They were caught in their
own trap, and said they were looking for peaches.

[11] The Chinese character here has occurred twice before, but in a
different meaning and connexion. Remusat, Beal, and Giles take it as
equivalent to "to sacrifice." But his followers do not "sacrifice" to
Buddha. That is a priestly term, and should not be employed of
anything done at Buddhistic services.

[12] Probably the present department of Yang-chow in Keang-soo; but as
I have said in a previous note, the narrative does not go on so
clearly as it generally does.

[13] Was, or could, this prefect be Le E?

[14] Probably not Ch'ang-gan, but Nan-king, which was the capital of
the Eastern Tsin dynasty under another name.

[15] The whole of this paragraph is probably Fa-hien's own conclusion
of his narrative. The second half of the second sentence, both in
sentiment and style in the Chinese text, seems to necessitate our
ascribing it to him, writing on the impulse of his own thoughts, in
the same indirect form which he adopted for his whole narrative. There
are, however, two peculiar phraseologies in it which might suggest the
work of another hand. For the name India, where the first [15] is
placed, a character is employed which is similarly applied nowhere
else; and again, "the three Honoured Ones," at which the second [15]
is placed, must be the same as "the three Precious Ones," which we
have met with so often; unless we suppose that {.} {.} is printed in
all the revisions for {.} {.}, "the World-honoured one," which has
often occurred. On the whole, while I accept this paragraph as
Fa-hien's own, I do it with some hesitation. That the following and
concluding paragraph is from another hand, there can be no doubt. And
it is as different as possible in style from the simple and
straightforward narrative of Fa-hien.

[16] There is an error of date here, for which it is difficult to
account. The year Keah-yin was A.D. 414; but that was the tenth year
of the period E-he, and not the twelfth, the cyclical designation of
which was Ping-shin. According to the preceding paragraph, Fa-hien's
travels had occupied him fifteen years, so that counting from A.D.
399, the year Ke-hae, as that in which he set out, the year of his
getting to Ts'ing-chow would have been Kwei-chow, the ninth year of
the period E-he; and we might join on "This year Keah-yin" to that
paragraph, as the date at which the narrative was written out for the
bamboo-tablets and the silk, and then begins the Envoy, "In the
twelfth year of E-he." This would remove the error as it stands at
present, but unfortunately there is a particle at the end of the
second date ({.}), which seems to tie the twelfth year of E-he to
Keah-yin, as another designation of it. The "year-star" is the planet
Jupiter, the revolution of which, in twelve years, constitutes "a
great year." Whether it would be possible to fix exactly by
mathematical calculation in what year Jupiter was in the Chinese
zodiacal sign embracing part of both Virgo and Scorpio, and thereby
help to solve the difficulty of the passage, I do not know, and in the
meantime must leave that difficulty as I have found it.

[17] We do not know who the writer of the Envoy was. "The winter study
or library" would be the name of the apartment in his monastery or
house, where he sat and talked with Fa-hien.

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest