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Title: A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms
 - Being an account by the Chinese monk Fa-hsien of travels in India and Ceylon (A.D. 399-414) in search of the Buddhist books of discipline
Author: Faxian
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms
 - Being an account by the Chinese monk Fa-hsien of travels in India and Ceylon (A.D. 399-414) in search of the Buddhist books of discipline" ***


A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms

Being an Account by the Chinese Monk Fâ-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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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 Rémusat, “Revu, complété, et
augmenté d’éclaircissements 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”
(Trübner’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 Î-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 Fâ-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 Rémusat’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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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 Sûtras 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 Sâkyamuni’s history, which were current so early (as it
seems to us) as the time of Fâ-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 Pâli 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 Fâ-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-châu 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.


June, 1886.

[Illustration: Sketch Map Of Fâ-Hien’s Travels]

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 Fâ-Hien’s route.

There is no difficulty in laying it down after he crossed the Indus
from east to west into the Punjâb, 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 43° 25′ N., 81° 15′ 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 Fâ-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
Punjâb. 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 Fâ-Hien went on from Nan-king to Ch’ang-an, but
the Narrative does not record the fact of his doing so.


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

1. Nothing of great importance is known about Fâ-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 Wû-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. Fâ-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
Sâkyamuni, “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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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, Fâ-Hieny” and again, on page 13,
we have “Narrative of Fâ-Hien in two Books,” and “Narrative of
Fâ-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, Fâ-Hieny” and then, more at large,
“Incidents of Travels in India, by the Sramana of the Eastern Tsin,
Fâ-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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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 1_2.

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

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 ally” 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 percentages 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.



Fâ-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 Hwăng-che, being the Ke-hâe year of the
cycle,(2) he entered into an engagement with Kwuy-king, Tâo-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 Fâ-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


(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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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 Shen-se.

(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.
Fâ-Hien would find him at his capital, somewhere in the present
department of Lan-chow, Kan-suh.

(7) Under varshas or vashavasana (Pâli, 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 Fâ-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 nirvâna; 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

(16) “The river of sandy” 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. Fâ-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. Fâ-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. Fâ-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 Fâ-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 nirvâna.
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 Fâ-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 (Pâli, 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 denominations, 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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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 time).

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 nirvâna, may be
compared to a huge vehicle. See Davids on the “Key-note of the ‘Great
Vehicle,’” Hibbert Lectures, p. 254.

(3) Fâ-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 Fâ-Hien, is,
no doubt, a phonetisation of the Sanskrit stupa or Pâli 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. Rémusat 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 honoury” 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 Sâkyamuni 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-nirvâna. 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
Fâ-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) Fâ-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 Fâ-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 old.(5)


(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, Fâ-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 nirvâna. 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
Sâkyamuni’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 Sâkyamuni 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 “kindnessy” and this will be the character of his

(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 Fâ-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 Sûtras and Books of Discipline. Now the image was
set up rather more than 300 years after the nirvâna(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

(3) The Japanese edition has a different reading here from the Chinese
copies,—one which Rémusat (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 note.

(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

(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 Sâkyamuni’s becoming Buddha on attaining to
nirvâna, or more probably to his pari-nirvâna 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
officery” but see Eitel’s Handbook, p. 99, on the term purusha.

(11) “The precious Buddha,” “the precious Law,” and “the precious
Monkhoody” Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha; the whole being equivalent to

(12) Fâ-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 Fâ-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 Soo-ho-to.(6)


(1) Udyana, meaning “the Parky” just north of the Punjâb, 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
nirvâna. 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 Sâkyamuni 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-culturey” 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 Sâkyamuni, and every Buddhist saint. He appears several times in
Fâ-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 vihâras 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 Punjâb, 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 Fâ-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

(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-nirvâna,(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 goody” 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 height.

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 contributions.

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 Fâ-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 Sâkyamuni, 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 Sâkyamuni 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-nirvâna
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 nirvâna, Sâkyamuni 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-nirvâna, 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-nirvâna 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, Fâ-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 Punjâb, 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
bowly” 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 “upasakasy” 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 Rémusat should give for this—“et s’en
retournent apres.” But Fâ-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 endy” 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 vihâra(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 vihâra, 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 vihâra 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 vihâra,
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 vihâra, 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 vihâra, 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 vihâra stands in a square of thirty paces, and
though heaven should shake and earth be rent, this place would not

Going on, north from this, for a yojana, (Fâ-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 vihâra also has
been built at which offerings are made. The staff is made of Gosîrsha
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 vihâra, 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

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, Fâ-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 vihâra,” says Hardy, “is the residence of a recluse or
priesty” 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-housey” 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 vihâras.

(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 heady” 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 nirvâna. 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 existence.

(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
Sâkyamuni, 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 Gosîrsha 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 nirvâna). 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. 146.


Having stayed there till the third month of winter, Fâ-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 Fâ-Hien, “I cannot live any longer. Do you
immediately go away, that we do not all die herey” and with these words
he died.(3) Fâ-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 Fâ-Hien. The Chinese character {.}, which he employed, may
be rendered rightly by “fate” or “destinyy” 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 Punjâb, 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.


(1) Bhida. Eitel says, “The present Punjâby” i.e. it was a portion of

(2) “To come forth from their familiesy” that is, to become celibates,
and adopt the tonsure.


From this place they travelled south-east, passing by a succession of
very many monasteries, with a multitude of monks, who might be counted
by myriads. After passing all these places, they came to a country
named Ma-t’aou-lo.(1) They still followed the course of the P’oo-na(2)
river, on the banks of which, left and right, there were twenty
monasteries, which might contain three thousand monks; and (here) the
Law of Buddha was still more flourishing. Everywhere, from the Sandy
Desert, in all the countries of India, the kings had been firm
believers in that Law. When they make their offerings to a community of
monks, they take off their royal caps, and along with their relatives
and ministers, supply them with food with their own hands. That done,
(the king) has a carpet spread for himself on the ground, and sits down
in front of the chairman;—they dare not presume to sit on couches in
front of the community. The laws and ways, according to which the kings
presented their offerings when Buddha was in the world, have been
handed down to the present day.

All south from this is named the Middle Kingdom.(3) In it the cold and
heat are finely tempered, and there is neither hoarfrost nor snow. The
people are numerous and happy; they have not to register their
households, or attend to any magistrates and their rules; only those
who cultivate the royal land have to pay (a portion of) the grain from
it. If they want to go, they go; if they want to stay on, they stay.
The king governs without decapitation or (other) corporal punishments.
Criminals are simply fined, lightly or heavily, according to the
circumstances (of each case). Even in cases of repeated attempts at
wicked rebellion, they only have their right hands cut off. The king’s
body-guards and attendants all have salaries. Throughout the whole
country the people do not kill any living creature, nor drink
intoxicating liquor, nor eat onions or garlic. The only exception is
that of the Chandalas.(4) That is the name for those who are (held to
be) wicked men, and live apart from others. When they enter the gate of
a city or a market-place, they strike a piece of wood to make
themselves known, so that men know and avoid them, and do not come into
contact with them. In that country they do not keep pigs and fowls, and
do not sell live cattle; in the markets there are no butchers’ shops
and no dealers in intoxicating drink. In buying and selling commodities
they use cowries.(5) Only the Chandalas are fishermen and hunters, and
sell flesh meat.

After Buddha attained to pari-nirvâna,(6) the kings of the various
countries and the heads of the Vaisyas(7) built vihâras for the
priests, and endowed them with fields, houses, gardens, and orchards,
along with the resident populations and their cattle, the grants being
engraved on plates of metal,(8) so that afterwards they were handed
down from king to king, without any daring to annul them, and they
remain even to the present time.

The regular business of the monks is to perform acts of meritorious
virtue, and to recite their Sûtras and sit wrapt in meditation. When
stranger monks arrive (at any monastery), the old residents meet and
receive them, carry for them their clothes and alms-bowl, give them
water to wash their feet, oil with which to anoint them, and the liquid
food permitted out of the regular hours.(9) When (the stranger) has
enjoyed a very brief rest, they further ask the number of years that he
has been a monk, after which he receives a sleeping apartment with its
appurtenances, according to his regular order, and everything is done
for him which the rules prescribe.(10)

Where a community of monks resides, they erect topes to Sariputtra,(11)
to Maha-maudgalyayana,(12) and to Ananda,(13) and also topes (in
honour) of the Abhidharma, the Vinaya, and the Sûtras. A month after
the (annual season of) rest, the families which are looking out for
blessing stimulate one another(14) to make offerings to the monks, and
send round to them the liquid food which may be taken out of the
ordinary hours. All the monks come together in a great assembly, and
preach the Law;(15) after which offerings are presented at the tope of
Sariputtra, with all kinds of flowers and incense. All through the
night lamps are kept burning, and skilful musicians are employed to

When Sariputtra was a great Brahman, he went to Buddha, and begged (to
be permitted) to quit his family (and become a monk). The great Mugalan
and the great Kasyapa(17) also did the same. The bhikshunis(18) for the
most part make their offerings at the tope of Ananda, because it was he
who requested the World-honoured one to allow females to quit their
families (and become nuns). The Sramaneras(19) mostly make their
offerings to Rahula.(20) The professors of the Abhidharma make their
offerings to it; those of the Vinaya to it. Every year there is one
such offering, and each class has its own day for it. Students of the
mahayana present offerings to the Prajna-paramita,(21) to Manjusri,(22)
and to Kwan-she-yin.(23) When the monks have done receiving their
annual tribute (from the harvests),(24) the Heads of the Vaisyas and
all the Brahmans bring clothes and other such articles as the monks
require for use, and distribute among them. The monks, having received
them, also proceed to give portions to one another. From the nirvâna of
Buddha,(25) the forms of ceremony, laws, and rules, practised by the
sacred communities, have been handed down from one generation to
another without interruption.

From the place where (the travellers) crossed the Indus to Southern
India, and on to the Southern Sea, a distance of forty or fifty
thousand le, all is level plain. There are no large hills with streams
(among them); there are simply the waters of the rivers.


(1) Muttra, “the peacock cityy” lat. 27d 30s N., lon. 77d 43s E.
(Hunter); the birthplace of Krishna, whose emblem is the peacock.

(2) This must be the Jumna, or Yamuna. Why it is called, as here, the
P’oo-na has yet to be explained.

(3) In Pâli, Majjhima-desa, “the Middle Country.” See Davids’ “Buddhist
Birth Stories,” page 61, note.

(4) Eitel (pp. 145, 6) says, “The name Chandalas is explained by
‘butchers,’ ‘wicked men,’ and those who carry ‘the awful flag,’ to warn
off their betters;—the lowest and most despised caste of India, members
of which, however, when converted, were admitted even into the ranks of
the priesthood.”

(5) “Cowriesy” {.} {.}, not “shells and ivory,” as one might suppose;
but cowries alone, the second term entering into the name from the
marks inside the edge of the shell, resembling “the teeth of fishes.”

(6) See chapter xii, note 3, Buddha’s pari-nirvâna is equivalent to
Buddha’s death.

(7) See chapter xiii, note 6. The order of the characters is different
here, but with the same meaning.

(8) See the preparation of such a deed of grant in a special case, as
related in chapter xxxix. No doubt in Fâ-Hien’s time, and long before
and after it, it was the custom to engrave such deeds on plates of

(9) “No monk can eat solid food except between sunrise and noon,” and
total abstinence from intoxicating drinks is obligatory (Davids’
Manual, p. 163). Food eaten at any other part of the day is called
vikala, and forbidden; but a weary traveller might receive unseasonable
refreshment, consisting, as Watters has shown (Ch. Rev. viii. 282), of
honey, butter, treacle, and sesamum oil.

(10) The expression here is somewhat perplexing; but it occurs again in
chapter xxxviii; and the meaning is clear. See Watters, Ch. Rev. viii.
282, 3. The rules are given at length in the Sacred Books of the East,
vol. xx, p. 272 and foll., and p. 279 and foll.

(11) Sariputtra (Singh. Seriyut) was one of the principal disciples of
Buddha, and indeed the most learned and ingenious of them all, so that
he obtained the title of {.} {.}, “knowledge and wisdom.” He is also
called Buddha’s “right-hand attendant.” His name is derived from that
of his mother Sarika, the wife of Tishya, a native of Nalanda. In
Spence Hardy, he often appears under the name of Upatissa (Upa-tishya),
derived from his father. Several Sastras are ascribed to him, and
indeed the followers of the Abhidharma look on him as their founder. He
died before Sâkyamuni; but is to reappear as a future Buddha. Eitel,
pp. 123, 124.

(12) Mugalan, the Singhalese name of this disciple, is more
pronounceable. He also was one of the principal disciples, called
Buddha’s “left-hand attendant.” He was distinguished for his power of
vision, and his magical powers. The name in the text is derived from
the former attribute, and it was by the latter that he took up an
artist to Tushita to get a view of Sâkyamuni, and so make a statue of
him. (Compare the similar story in chap. vi.) He went to hell, and
released his mother. He also died before Sâkyamuni, and is to reappear
as Buddha. Eitel, p. 65.

(13) See chapter xii, note 2.

(14) A passage rather difficult to construe. The “families” would be
those more devout than their neighbours.

(15) One rarely hears this preaching in China. It struck me most as I
once heard it at Osaka in Japan. There was a pulpit in a large hall of
the temple, and the audience sat around on the matted floor. One priest
took the pulpit after another; and the hearers nodded their heads
occasionally, and indicated their sympathy now and then by an audible
“h’m,” which reminded me of Carlyle’s description of meetings of “The
Ironsides” of Cromwell.

(16) This last statement is wanting in the Chinese editions.

(17) There was a Kasyapa Buddha, anterior to Sâkyamuni. But this
Maha-kasyapa was a Brahman of Magadha, who was converted by Buddha, and
became one of his disciples. He took the lead after Sâkyamuni’s death,
convoked and directed the first synod, from which his title of
Arya-sthavira is derived. As the first compiler of the Canon, he is
considered the fountain of Chinese orthodoxy, and counted as the first
patriarch. He also is to be reborn as Buddha. Eitel, p. 64.

(18) The bhikshunis are the female monks or nuns, subject to the same
rules as the bhikshus, and also to special ordinances of restraint. See
Hardy’s E. M., chap. 17. See also Sacred Books of the East, vol. xx, p.

(19) The Sramaneras are the novices, male or female, who have vowed to
observe the Shikshapada, or ten commandments. Fâ-Hien was himself one
of them from his childhood. Having heard the Trisharana, or threefold
formula of Refuge,—“I take refuge in Buddha; the Law; the Church,—the
novice undertakes to observe the ten precepts that forbid—(1)
destroying life; (2) stealing; (3) impurity; (4) lying; (5)
intoxicating drinks; (6) eating after midday; (7) dancing, singing,
music, and stage-plays; (8) garlands, scents, unguents, and ornaments;
(9) high or broad couches; (10) receiving gold or silver.” Davids’
Manual, p. 160; Hardy’s E. M., pp. 23, 24.

(20) The eldest son of Sâkyamuni by Yasodhara. Converted to Buddhism,
he followed his father as an attendant; and after Buddha’s death became
the founder of a philosophical realistic school (vaibhashika). He is
now revered as the patron saint of all novices, and is to be reborn as
the eldest son of every future Buddha. Eitel, p. 101. His mother also
is to be reborn as Buddha.

(21) There are six (sometimes increased to ten) paramitas, “means of
passing to nirvâna:—Charity; morality; patience; energy; tranquil
contemplation; wisdom (prajna); made up to ten by use of the proper
means; science; pious vows; and force of purpose. But it is only prajna
which carries men across the samsara to the shores of nirvâna.” Eitel,
p. 90.

(22) According to Eitel (pp. 71, 72), A famous Bodhisattva, now
specially worshipped in Shan-se, whose antecedents are a hopeless
jumble of history and fable. Fâ-Hien found him here worshipped by
followers of the mahayana school; but Hsuan-chwang connects his worship
with the yogachara or tantra-magic school. The mahayana school regard
him as the apotheosis of perfect wisdom. His most common titles are
Mahamati, “Great wisdom,” and Kumara-raja, “King of teaching, with a
thousand arms and a hundred alms-bowls.”

(23) Kwan-she-yin and the dogmas about him or her are as great a
mystery as Manjusri. The Chinese name is a mistranslation of the
Sanskrit name Avalokitesvra, “On-looking Sovereign,” or even
“On-looking Self-Existent,” and means “Regarding or Looking on the
sounds of the world,”=“Hearer of Prayer.” Originally, and still in
Thibet, Avalokitesvara had only male attributes, but in China and Japan
(Kwannon), this deity (such popularly she is) is represented as a
woman, “Kwan-yin, the greatly gentle, with a thousand arms and a
thousand eyesy” and has her principal seat in the island of P’oo-t’oo,
on the China coast, which is a regular place of pilgrimage. To the
worshippers of whom Fâ-Hien speaks, Kwan-she-yin would only be
Avalokitesvara. How he was converted into the “goddess of mercy,” and
her worship took the place which it now has in China, is a difficult
inquiry, which would take much time and space, and not be brought after
all, so far as I see, to a satisfactory conclusion. See Eitel’s
Handbook, pp. 18-20, and his Three Lectures on Buddhism (third
edition), pp. 124-131. I was talking on the subject once with an
intelligent Chinese gentleman, when he remarked, “Have you not much the
same thing in Europe in the worship of Mary?”

(24) Compare what is said in chap. v.

(25) This nirvâna of Buddha must be—not his death, but his attaining to


From this they proceeded south-east for eighteen yojanas, and found
themselves in a kingdom called Sankasya,(1) at the place where Buddha
came down, after ascending to the Trayastrimsas heaven,(2) and there
preaching for three months his Law for the benefit of his mother.(3)
Buddha had gone up to this heaven by his supernatural power,(4) without
letting his disciples know; but seven days before the completion (of
the three months) he laid aside his invisibility,(4) and Anuruddha,(5)
with his heavenly eyes,(5) saw the World-honoured one, and immediately
said to the honoured one, the great Mugalan, “Do you go and salute the
World-honoured one.” Mugalan forthwith went, and with head and face did
homage at (Buddha’s) feet. They then saluted and questioned each other,
and when this was over, Buddha said to Mugalan, “Seven days after this
I will go down to Jambudvipay” and thereupon Mugalan returned. At this
time the great kings of eight countries with their ministers and
people, not having seen Buddha for a long time, were all thirstily
looking up for him, and had collected in clouds in this kingdom to wait
for the World-honoured one.

Then the bhikshuni Utpala(6) thought in her heart, “To-day the kings,
with their ministers and people, will all be meeting (and welcoming)
Buddha. I am (but) a woman; how shall I succeed in being the first to
see him?”(7) Buddha immediately, by his spirit-like power, changed her
into the appearance of a holy Chakravartti(8) king, and she was the
foremost of all in doing reverence to him.

As Buddha descended from his position aloft in the Trayastrimsas
heaven, when he was coming down, there were made to appear three
flights of precious steps. Buddha was on the middle flight, the steps
of which were composed of the seven precious substances. The king of
Brahma-loka(9) also made a flight of silver steps appear on the right
side, (where he was seen) attending with a white chowry in his hand.
Sakra, Ruler of Devas, made (a flight of) steps of purple gold on the
left side, (where he was seen) attending and holding an umbrella of the
seven precious substances. An innumerable multitude of the devas
followed Buddha in his descent. When he was come down, the three
flights all disappeared in the ground, excepting seven steps, which
continued to be visible. Afterwards king Asoka, wishing to know where
their ends rested, sent men to dig and see. They went down to the
yellow springs(10) without reaching the bottom of the steps, and from
this the king received an increase to his reverence and faith, and
built a vihâra over the steps, with a standing image, sixteen cubits in
height, right over the middle flight. Behind the vihâra he erected a
stone pillar, about fifty cubits high,(11) with a lion on the top of
it.(12) Let into the pillar, on each of its four sides,(13) there is an
image of Buddha, inside and out(14) shining and transparent, and pure
as it were of _lapis lazuli_. Some teachers of another doctrine(15)
once disputed with the Sramanas about (the right to) this as a place of
residence, and the latter were having the worst of the argument, when
they took an oath on both sides on the condition that, if the place did
indeed belong to the Sramanas, there should be some marvellous
attestation of it. When these words had been spoken, the lion on the
top gave a great roar, thus giving the proof; on which their opponents
were frightened, bowed to the decision, and withdrew.

Through Buddha having for three months partaken of the food of heaven,
his body emitted a heavenly fragrance, unlike that of an ordinary man.
He went immediately and bathed; and afterwards, at the spot where he
did so, a bathing-house was built, which is still existing. At the
place where the bhikshuni Utpala was the first to do reverence to
Buddha, a tope has now been built.

At the places where Buddha, when he was in the world, cut his hair and
nails, topes are erected; and where the three Buddhas(16) that preceded
Sâkyamuni Buddha and he himself sat; where they walked,(17) and where
images of their persons were made. At all these places topes were made,
and are still existing. At the place where Sakra, Ruler of the Devas,
and the king of the Brahma-loka followed Buddha down (from the
Trayastrimsas heaven) they have also raised a tope.

At this place the monks and nuns may be a thousand, who all receive
their food from the common store, and pursue their studies, some of the
mahayana and some of the hinayana. Where they live, there is a
white-eared dragon, which acts the part of danapati to the community of
these monks, causing abundant harvests in the country, and the
enriching rains to come in season, without the occurrence of any
calamities, so that the monks enjoy their repose and ease. In gratitude
for its kindness, they have made for it a dragon-house, with a carpet
for it to sit on, and appointed for it a diet of blessing, which they
present for its nourishment. Every day they set apart three of their
number to go to its house, and eat there. Whenever the summer retreat
is ended, the dragon straightway changes its form, and appears as a
small snake,(18) with white spots at the side of its ears. As soon as
the monks recognise it, they fill a copper vessel with cream, into
which they put the creature, and then carry it round from the one who
has the highest seat (at their tables) to him who has the lowest, when
it appears as if saluting them. When it has been taken round,
immediately it disappeared; and every year it thus comes forth once.
The country is very productive, and the people are prosperous, and
happy beyond comparison. When people of other countries come to it,
they are exceedingly attentive to them all, and supply them with what
they need.

Fifty yojanas north-west from the monastery there is another, called
“The Great Heap.”(19) Great Heap was the name of a wicked demon, who
was converted by Buddha, and men subsequently at this place reared a
vihâra. When it was being made over to an Arhat by pouring water on his
hands,(20) some drops fell on the ground. They are still on the spot,
and however they may be brushed away and removed, they continue to be
visible, and cannot be made to disappear.

At this place there is also a tope to Buddha, where a good spirit
constantly keeps (all about it) swept and watered, without any labour
of man being required. A king of corrupt views once said, “Since you
are able to do this, I will lead a multitude of troops and reside there
till the dirt and filth has increased and accumulated, and (see)
whether you can cleanse it away or not.” The spirit thereupon raised a
great wind, which blew (the filth away), and made the place pure.

At this place there are a hundred small topes, at which a man may keep
counting a whole day without being able to know (their exact number).
If he be firmly bent on knowing it, he will place a man by the side of
each tope. When this is done, proceeding to count the number of men,
whether they be many or few, he will not get to know (the number).(21)

There is a monastery, containing perhaps 600 or 700 monks, in which
there is a place where a Pratyeka Buddha used to take his food. The
nirvâna ground (where he was burned(22) after death) is as large as a
carriage wheel; and while grass grows all around, on this spot there is
none. The ground also where he dried his clothes produces no grass, but
the impression of them, where they lay on it, continues to the present


(1) The name is still remaining in Samkassam, a village forty-five
miles northwest of Canouge, lat. 27d 3s N., lon. 79d 50s E.

(2) The heaven of Indra or Sakya, meaning “the heaven of thirty-three
classes,” a name which has been explained both historically and
mythologically. “The description of it,” says Eitel, p. 148, “tallies
in all respects with the Svarga of Brahmanic mythology. It is situated
between the four peaks of the Meru, and consists of thirty-two cities
of devas, eight one each of the four corners of the mountain. Indra’s
capital of Bellevue is in the centre. There he is enthroned, with a
thousand heads and a thousand eyes, and four arms grasping the vajra,
with his wife and 119,000 concubines. There he receives the monthly
reports of the four Maharajas, concerning the progress of good and evil
in the world,” &c. &c.

(3) Buddha’s mother, Maya and Mahamaya, the _mater immaculata_ of the
Buddhists, died seven days after his birth. Eitel says, “Reborn in
Tushita, she was visited there by her son and converted.” The Tushita
heaven was a more likely place to find her than the Trayastrimsas; but
was the former a part of the latter? Hardy gives a long account of
Buddha’s visit to the Trayastrimsas (M. B., pp. 298-302), which he
calls Tawutisa, and speaks of his mother (Matru) in it, who had now
become a deva by the changing of her sex.

(4) Compare the account of the Arhat’s conveyance of the artist to the
Tushita heaven in chap. v. The first expression here is more

(5) Anuruddha was a first cousin of Sâkyamuni, being the son of his
uncle Amritodana. He is often mentioned in the account we have of
Buddha’s last moments. His special gift was the divyachakshus or
“heavenly eye,” the first of the six abhijnas or “supernatural
talents,” the faculty of comprehending in one instantaneous view, or by
intuition, all beings in all worlds. “He could see,” says Hardy, M. B.,
p. 232, “all things in 100,000 sakvalas as plainly as a mustard seed
held in the hand.”

(6) Eitel gives the name Utpala with the same Chinese phonetisation as
in the text, but not as the name of any bhikshuni. The Sanskrit word,
however, is explained by “blue lotus flowersy” and Hsuan-chwang calls
her the nun “Lotus-flower colour ({.} {.} {.});”—the same as Hardy’s
Upulwan and Uppalawarna.

(7) Perhaps we should read here “to see Buddha,” and then ascribe the
transformation to the nun herself. It depends on the punctuation which
view we adopt; and in the structure of the passage, there is nothing to
indicate that the stop should be made before or after “Buddha.” And the
one view is as reasonable, or rather as unreasonable, as the other.

(8) “A holy king who turns the wheely” that is, the military conqueror
and monarch of the whole or part of a universe. “The symbol,” says
Eitel (p. 142) “of such a king is the chakra or wheel, for when he
ascends the throne, a chakra falls from heaven, indicating by its
material (gold, silver, copper, or iron) the extent and character of
his reign. The office, however, of the highest Chakravartti, who hurls
his wheel among his enemies, is inferior to the peaceful mission of a
Buddha, who meekly turns the wheel of the Law, and conquers every
universe by his teaching.”

(9) This was Brahma, the first person of the Brahmanical Trimurti,
adopted by Buddhism, but placed in an inferior position, and surpassed
by every Buddhist saint who attains to bodhi.

(10) A common name for the earth below, where, on digging, water is

(11) The height is given as thirty chow, the chow being the distance
from the elbow to the finger-tip, which is variously estimated.

(12) A note of Mr. Beal says on this:—“General Cunningham, who visited
the spot (1862), found a pillar, evidently of the age of Asoka, with a
well-carved elephant on the top, which, however, was minus trunk and
tail. He supposes this to be the pillar seen by Fâ-Hien, who mistook
the top of it for a lion. It is possible such a mistake may have been
made, as in the account of one of the pillars at Sravasti, Fâ-Hien says
an ox formed the capital, whilst Hsuan-chwang calls it an elephant (P.
19, Arch. Survey).”

(13) That is, in niches on the sides. The pillar or column must have
been square.

(14) Equivalent to “all through.”

(15) Has always been translated “heretical teachersy” but I eschew the
terms _heresy_ and _heretical_. The parties would not be Buddhists of
any creed or school, but Brahmans or of some other false doctrine, as
Fâ-Hien deemed it. The Chinese term means “outside” or “foreign;”—in
Pâli, anna-titthiya,=“those belonging to another school.”

(16) These three predecessors of Sâkyamuni were the three Buddhas of
the present or Maha-bhadra Kalpa, of which he was the fourth, and
Maitreya is to be the fifth and last. They were: (1) Krakuchanda (Pâli,
Kakusanda), “he who readily solves all doubtsy” a scion of the Kasyapa
family. Human life reached in his time 40,000 years, and so many
persons were converted by him. (2) Kanakamuni (Pâli, Konagamana), “body
radiant with the colour of pure goldy” of the same family. Human life
reached in his time 30,000 years, and so many persons were converted by
him. (3) Kasyapa (Pâli, Kassapa), “swallower of light.” Human life
reached in his time 20,000 years, and so many persons were converted by
him. See Eitel, under the several names; Hardy’s M. B., pp. 95-97; and
Davids’ “Buddhist Birth Stories,” p. 51.

(17) That is, walked in meditation. Such places are called Chankramana
(Pâli, Chankama); promenades or corridors connected with a monastery,
made sometimes with costly stones, for the purpose of peripatetic
meditation. The “sitting” would be not because of weariness or for
rest, but for meditation. E. H., p. 144.

(18) The character in my Corean copy is {.}, which must be a mistake
for the {.} of the Chinese editions. Otherwise, the meaning would be “a
small medusa.”

(19) The reading here seems to me a great improvement on that of the
Chinese editions, which means “Fire Limit.” Buddha, it is said, {.}
converted this demon, which Chinese character Beal rendered at first by
“in one of his incarnationsy” and in his revised version he has
“himself.” The difference between Fâ-Hien’s usage of {.} and {.}
throughout his narrative is quite marked. {.} always refers to the
doings of Sâkyamuni; {.}, “formerly,” is often used of him and others
in the sense of “in a former age or birth.”

(20) See Hardy, M. B., p. 194:—“As a token of the giving over of the
garden, the king poured water upon the hands of Buddha; and from this
time it became one of the principal residences of the sage.”

(21) This would seem to be absurd; but the writer evidently intended to
convey the idea that there was something mysterious about the number of
the topes.

(22) This seems to be the meaning. The bodies of the monks are all
burned. Hardy’s E. M., pp. 322-324.


Fâ-Hien stayed at the Dragon vihâra till after the summer retreat,(1)
and then, travelling to the south-east for seven yojanas, he arrived at
the city of Kanyakubja,(2) lying along the Ganges.(3) There are two
monasteries in it, the inmates of which are students of the hinayana.
At a distance from the city of six or seven le, on the west, on the
northern bank of the Ganges, is a place where Buddha preached the Law
to his disciples. It has been handed down that his subjects of
discourse were such as “The bitterness and vanity (of life) as
impermanent and uncertain,” and that “The body is as a bubble or foam
on the water.” At this spot a tope was erected, and still exists.

Having crossed the Ganges, and gone south for three yojanas, (the
travellers) arrived at a village named A-le,(4) containing places where
Buddha preached the Law, where he sat, and where he walked, at all of
which topes have been built.


(1) We are now, probably, in 405.

(2) Canouge, the latitude and longitude of which have been given in a
previous note. The Sanskrit name means “the city of humpbacked
maidensy” with reference to the legend of the hundred daughters of king
Brahma-datta, who were made deformed by the curse of the rishi
Maha-vriksha, whose overtures they had refused. E. H., p. 51.

(3) Ganga, explained by “Blessed water,” and “Come from heaven to

(4) This village (the Chinese editions read “forest”) has hardly been
clearly identified.


Going on from this to the south-east for three yojanas, they came to
the great kingdom of Sha-che.(1) As you go out of the city of Sha-che
by the southern gate, on the east of the road (is the place) where
Buddha, after he had chewed his willow branch,(2) stuck it in the
ground, when it forthwith grew up seven cubits, (at which height it
remained) neither increasing nor diminishing. The Brahmans with their
contrary doctrines(3) became angry and jealous. Sometimes they cut the
tree down, sometimes they plucked it up, and cast it to a distance, but
it grew again on the same spot as at first. Here also is the place
where the four Buddhas walked and sat, and at which a tope was built
that is still existing.


(1) Sha-che should probably be Sha-khe, making Cunningham’s
identification of the name with the present Saket still more likely.
The change of {.} into {.} is slight; and, indeed, the Khang-hsi
dictionary thinks the two characters should be but one and the same.

(2) This was, no doubt, what was called the danta-kashtha, or “dental
wood,” mostly a bit of the _ficus Indicus_ or banyan tree, which the
monk chews every morning to cleanse his teeth, and for the purpose of
health generally. The Chinese, not having the banyan, have used, or at
least Fâ-Hien used, Yang ({.}, the general name for the willow) instead
of it.

(3) Are two classes of opponents, or only one, intended here, so that
we should read “all the unbelievers and Brahmans,” or “heretics and
Brahmans?” I think the Brahmans were also “the unbelievers” and
“heretics,” having {.} {.}, views and ways outside of, and opposed to,


Going on from this to the south, for eight yojanas, (the travellers)
came to the city of Sravasti(1) in the kingdom of Kosala,(2) in which
the inhabitants were few and far between, amounting in all (only) to a
few more than two hundred families; the city where king Prasenajit(3)
ruled, and the place of the old vihâra of Maha-prajapti;(4) of the well
and walls of (the house of) the (Vaisya) head Sudatta;(5) and where the
Angulimalya(6) became an Arhat, and his body was (afterwards) burned on
his attaining to pari-nirvâna. At all these places topes were
subsequently erected, which are still existing in the city. The
Brahmans, with their contrary doctrine, became full of hatred and envy
in their hearts, and wished to destroy them, but there came from the
heavens such a storm of crashing thunder and flashing lightning that
they were not able in the end to effect their purpose.

As you go out from the city by the south gate, and 1,200 paces from it,
the (Vaisya) head Sudatta built a vihâra, facing the south; and when
the door was open, on each side of it there was a stone pillar, with
the figure of a wheel on the top of that on the left, and the figure of
an ox on the top of that on the right. On the left and right of the
building the ponds of water clear and pure, the thickets of trees
always luxuriant, and the numerous flowers of various hues, constituted
a lovely scene, the whole forming what is called the Jetavana

When Buddha went up to the Trayastrimsas heaven,(8) and preached the
Law for the benefit of his mother, (after he had been absent for)
ninety days, Prasenajit, longing to see him, caused an image of him to
be carved in Gosîrsha Chandana wood,(9) and put in the place where he
usually sat. When Buddha on his return entered the vihâra, this image
immediately left its place, and came forth to meet him. Buddha said to
it, “Return to your seat. After I have attained to pari-nirvâna, you
will serve as a pattern to the four classes of my disciples,”(10) and
on this the image returned to its seat. This was the very first of all
the images (of Buddha), and that which men subsequently copied. Buddha
then removed, and dwelt in a small vihâra on the south side (of the
other), a different place from that containing the image, and twenty
paces distant from it.

The Jetavana vihâra was originally of seven storeys. The kings and
people of the countries around vied with one another in their
offerings, hanging up about it silken streamers and canopies,
scattering flowers, burning incense, and lighting lamps, so as to make
the night as bright as the day. This they did day after day without
ceasing. (It happened that) a rat, carrying in its mouth the wick of a
lamp, set one of the streamers or canopies on fire, which caught the
vihâra, and the seven storeys were all consumed. The kings, with their
officers and people, were all very sad and distressed, supposing that
the sandal-wood image had been burned; but lo! after four or five days,
when the door of a small vihâra on the east was opened, there was
immediately seen the original image. They were all greatly rejoiced,
and co-operated in restoring the vihâra. When they had succeeded in
completing two storeys, they removed the image back to its former

When Fâ-Hien and Tao-ching first arrived at the Jetavana monastery, and
thought how the World-honoured one had formerly resided there for
twenty-five years, painful reflections arose in their minds. Born in a
border-land, along with their like-minded friends, they had travelled
through so many kingdoms; some of those friends had returned (to their
own land), and some had (died), proving the impermanence and
uncertainty of life; and to-day they saw the place where Buddha had
lived now unoccupied by him. They were melancholy through their pain of
heart, and the crowd of monks came out, and asked them from what
kingdom they were come. “We are come,” they replied, “from the land of
Han.” “Strange,” said the monks with a sigh, “that men of a border
country should be able to come here in search of our Law!” Then they
said to one another, “During all the time that we, preceptors and
monks,(11) have succeeded to one another, we have never seen men of
Han, followers of our system, arrive here.”

Four le to the north-west of the vihâra there is a grove called “The
Getting of Eyes.” Formerly there were five hundred blind men, who lived
here in order that they might be near the vihâra.(12) Buddha preached
his Law to them, and they all got back their eyesight. Full of joy,
they stuck their staves in the earth, and with their heads and faces on
the ground, did reverence. The staves immediately began to grow, and
they grew to be great. People made much of them, and no one dared to
cut them down, so that they came to form a grove. It was in this way
that it got its name, and most of the Jetavana monks, after they had
taken their midday meal, went to the grove, and sat there in

Six or seven le north-east from the Jetavana, mother Vaisakha(13) built
another vihâra, to which she invited Buddha and his monks, and which is
still existing.

To each of the great residences for monks at the Jetavana vihâra there
were two gates, one facing the east and the other facing the north. The
park (containing the whole) was the space of ground which the (Vaisya)
head Sudatta purchased by covering it with gold coins. The vihâra was
exactly in the centre. Here Buddha lived for a longer time than at any
other place, preaching his Law and converting men. At the places where
he walked and sat they also (subsequently) reared topes, each having
its particular name; and here was the place where Sundari(14) murdered
a person and then falsely charged Buddha (with the crime). Outside the
east gate of the Jetavana, at a distance of seventy paces to the north,
on the west of the road, Buddha held a discussion with the (advocates
of the) ninety-six schemes of erroneous doctrine, when the king and his
great officers, the householders, and people were all assembled in
crowds to hear it. Then a woman belonging to one of the erroneous
systems, by name Chanchamana,(15) prompted by the envious hatred in her
heart, and having put on (extra) clothes in front of her person, so as
to give her the appearance of being with child, falsely accused Buddha
before all the assembly of having acted unlawfully (towards her). On
this, Sakra, Ruler of Devas, changed himself and some devas into white
mice, which bit through the strings about her waist; and when this was
done, the (extra) clothes which she wore dropt down on the ground. The
earth at the same time was rent, and she went (down) alive into
hell.(16) (This) also is the place where Devadatta,(17) trying with
empoisoned claws to injure Buddha, went down alive into hell. Men
subsequently set up marks to distinguish where both these events took

Further, at the place where the discussion took place, they reared a
vihâra rather more than sixty cubits high, having in it an image of
Buddha in a sitting posture. On the east of the road there was a
devalaya(18) of (one of) the contrary systems, called “The Shadow
Covered,” right opposite the vihâra on the place of discussion, with
(only) the road between them, and also rather more than sixty cubits
high. The reason why it was called “The Shadow Covered” was this:—When
the sun was in the west, the shadow of the vihâra of the World-honoured
one fell on the devalaya of a contrary system; but when the sun was in
the east, the shadow of that devalaya was diverted to the north, and
never fell on the vihâra of Buddha. The mal-believers regularly
employed men to watch their devalaya, to sweep and water (all about
it), to burn incense, light the lamps, and present offerings; but in
the morning the lamps were found to have been suddenly removed, and in
the vihâra of Buddha. The Brahmans were indignant, and said, “Those
Sramanas take out lamps and use them for their own service of Buddha,
but we will not stop our service for you!”(19) On that night the
Brahmans themselves kept watch, when they saw the deva spirits which
they served take the lamps and go three times round the vihâra of
Buddha and present offerings. After this ministration to Buddha they
suddenly disappeared. The Brahmans thereupon knowing how great was the
spiritual power of Buddha, forthwith left their families, and became
monks.(20) It has been handed down, that, near the time when these
things occurred, around the Jetavana vihâra there were ninety-eight
monasteries, in all of which there were monks residing, excepting only
in one place which was vacant. In this Middle Kingdom(21) there are
ninety-six(21) sorts of views, erroneous and different from our system,
all of which recognise this world and the future world(22) (and the
connexion between them). Each had its multitude of followers, and they
all beg their food: only they do not carry the alms-bowl. They also,
moreover, seek (to acquire) the blessing (of good deeds) on
unfrequented ways, setting up on the road-side houses of charity, where
rooms, couches, beds, and food and drink are supplied to travellers,
and also to monks, coming and going as guests, the only difference
being in the time (for which those parties remain).

There are also companies of the followers of Devadatta still existing.
They regularly make offerings to the three previous Buddhas, but not to
Sâkyamuni Buddha.

Four le south-east from the city of Sravasti, a tope has been erected
at the place where the World-honoured one encountered king
Virudhaha,(23) when he wished to attack the kingdom of Shay-e,(23) and
took his stand before him at the side of the road.(24)


(1) In Singhalese, Sewet; here evidently the capital of Kosala. It is
placed by Cunningham (Archaeological Survey) on the south bank of the
Rapti, about fifty-eight miles north of Ayodya or Oude. There are still
the ruins of a great town, the name being Sahet Mahat. It was in this
town, or in its neighbourhood, that Sâkyamuni spent many years of his
life after he became Buddha.

(2) There were two Indian kingdoms of this name, a southern and a
northern. This was the northern, a part of the present Oudh.

(3) In Singhalese, Pase-nadi, meaning “leader of the victorious army.”
He was one of the earliest converts and chief patrons of Sâkyamuni.
Eitel calls him (p. 95) one of the originators of Buddhist idolatory,
because of the statue which is mentioned in this chapter. See Hardy’s
M. B., pp. 283, 284, et al.

(4) Explained by “Path of Love,” and “Lord of Life.” Prajapati was aunt
and nurse of Sâkyamuni, the first woman admitted to the monkhood, and
the first superior of the first Buddhistic convent. She is yet to
become a Buddha.

(5) Sudatta, meaning “almsgiver,” was the original name of
Anatha-pindika (or Pindada), a wealthy householder, or Vaisya head, of
Sravasti, famous for his liberality (Hardy, Anepidu). Of his old house,
only the well and walls remained at the time of Fâ-Hien’s visit to

(6) The Angulimalya were a sect or set of Sivaitic fanatics, who made
assassination a religious act. The one of them here mentioned had
joined them by the force of circumstances. Being converted by Buddha,
he became a monk; but when it is said in the text that he “got the
Tao,” or doctrine, I think that expression implies more than his
conversion, and is equivalent to his becoming an Arhat. His name in
Pâli is Angulimala. That he did become an Arhat is clear from his
autobiographical poem in the “Songs of the Theras.”

(7) Eitel (p. 37) says:—“A noted vihâra in the suburbs of Sravasti,
erected in a park which Anatha-pindika bought of prince Jeta, the son
of Prasenajit. Sâkyamuni made this place his favourite residence for
many years. Most of the Sûtras (authentic and supposititious) date from
this spot.”

(8) See chapter xvii.

(9) See chapter xiii.

(10) Arya, meaning “honourable,” “venerable,” is a title given only to
those who have mastered the four spiritual truths:—(1) that “misery” is
a necessary condition of all sentient existence; this is duhkha: (2)
that the “accumulation” of misery is caused by the passions; this is
samudaya: (3) that the “extinction” of passion is possible; this is
nirodha: and (4) that the “path” leads to the extinction of passion;
which is marga. According to their attainment of these truths, the
Aryas, or followers of Buddha, are distinguished into four
classes,—Srotapannas, Sakridagamins, Anagamins, and Arhats. E. H., p.

(11) This is the first time that Fâ-Hien employs the name Ho-shang {.}
{.}, which is now popularly used in China for all Buddhist monks
without distinction of rank or office. It is the representative of the
Sanskrit term Upadhyaya, “explained,” says Eitel (p. 155) by “a
self-taught teacher,” or by “he who knows what is sinful and what is
not sinful,” with the note, “In India the vernacular of this term is
{.} {.} (? munshee (? Bronze)); in Kustana and Kashgar they say {.} {.}
(hwa-shay); and from the latter term are derived the Chinese synonyms,
{.} {.} (ho-shay) and {.} {.} (ho-shang).” The Indian term was
originally a designation for those who teach only a part of the Vedas,
the Vedangas. Adopted by Buddhists of Central Asia, it was made to
signify the priests of the older ritual, in distinction from the Lamas.
In China it has been used first as a synonym for {.} {.}, monks engaged
in popular teaching (teachers of the Law), in distinction from {.} {.},
disciplinists, and {.} {.}, contemplative philosophers
(meditationists); then it was used to designate the abbots of
monasteries. But it is now popularly applied to all Buddhist monks. In
the text there seems to be implied some distinction between the
“teachers” and the “ho-shang;”—probably, the Pâli Akariya and
Upagghaya; see Sacred Books of the East, vol. xiii, Vinaya Texts, pp.
178, 179.

(12) It might be added, “as depending on it,” in order to bring out the
full meaning of the {.} in the text. If I recollect aright, the help of
the police had to be called in at Hong Kong in its early years, to keep
the approaches to the Cathedral free from the number of beggars, who
squatted down there during service, hoping that the hearers would come
out with softened hearts, and disposed to be charitable. I found the
popular tutelary temples in Peking and other places, and the path up
Mount T’ai in Shan-lung similarly frequented.

(13) The wife of Anatha-pindika, and who became “mother superior” of
many nunneries. See her history in M. B., pp. 220-227. I am surprised
it does not end with the statement that she is to become a Buddha.

(14) See E. H., p. 136. Hsuan-chwang does not give the name of this
murderer; see in Julien’s “Vie et Voyages de Hiouen-thsang,” p. 125,—“a
heretical Brahman killed a woman and calumniated Buddha.” See also the
fuller account in Beal’s “Records of Western Countries,” pp. 7, 8,
where the murder is committed by several Brahmacharins. In this passage
Beal makes Sundari to be the name of the murdered person (a harlot).
But the text cannot be so construed.

(15) Eitel (p. 144) calls her Chancha; in Singhalese, Chinchi. See the
story about her, M. B., pp. 275-277.

(16) “Earth’s prison,” or “one of Earth’s prisons.” It was the Avichi
naraka to which she went, the last of the eight hot prisons, where the
culprits die, and are born again in uninterrupted succession (such
being the meaning of Avichi), though not without hope of final
redemption. E. H. p. 21.

(17) Devadatta was brother of Ananda, and a near relative therefore of
Sâkyamuni. He was the deadly enemy, however, of the latter. He had
become so in an earlier state of existence, and the hatred continued in
every successive birth, through which they reappeared in the world. See
the accounts of him, and of his various devices against Buddha, and his
own destruction at the last, in M. B., pp. 315-321, 326-330; and still
better, in the Sacred Books of the East, vol. xx, Vinaya Texts, pp.
233-265. For the particular attempt referred to in the text, see “The
Life of the Buddha,” p. 107. When he was engulphed, and the flames were
around him, he cried out to Buddha to save him, and we are told that he
is expected yet to appear as a Buddha under the name of Devaraja, in a
universe called Deva-soppana. E. H., p. 39.

(18) “A devalaya ({.} {.} or {.} {.}), a place in which a deva is
worshipped,—a general name for all Brahmanical temples” (Eitel, p. 30).
We read in the Khang-hsi dictionary under {.}, that when Kasyapa
Matanga came to the Western Regions, with his Classics or Sûtras, he
was lodged in the Court of State-Ceremonial, and that afterwards there
was built for him “The Court of the White-horse” ({.} {.} {.}), and in
consequence the name of Sze {.} came to be given to all Buddhistic
temples. Fâ-Hien, however, applies this term only to Brahmanical

(19) Their speech was somewhat unconnected, but natural enough in the
circumstances. Compare the whole account with the narrative in I Samuel
v. about the Ark and Dagon, that “twice-battered god of Palestine.”

(20) “Entered the doctrine or path.” Three stages in the Buddhistic
life are indicated by Fâ-Hien:—“entering it,” as here, by becoming
monks ({.} {.}); “getting it,” by becoming Arhats ({.} {.}); and
“completing it,” by becoming Buddha ({.} {.}).

(21) It is not quite clear whether the author had in mind here Central
India as a whole, which I think he had, or only Kosala, the part of it
where he then was. In the older teaching, there were only thirty-two
sects, but there may have been three subdivisions of each. See Rhys
Davids’ “Buddhism,” pp. 98, 99.

(22) This mention of “the future world” is an important difference
between the Corean and Chinese texts. The want of it in the latter has
been a stumbling-block in the way of all previous translators. Rémusat
says in a note that “the heretics limited themselves to speak of the
duties of man in his actual life without connecting it by the notion
that the metempsychosis with the anterior periods of existence through
which he had passed.” But this is just the opposite of what Fâ-Hien’s
meaning was, according to our Corean text. The notion of “the
metempsychosis” was just that in which all the ninety-six erroneous
systems agreed among themselves and with Buddhism. If he had wished to
say what the French sinologue thinks he does say, moreover, he would
probably have written {.} {.} {.} {.} {.}. Let me add, however, that
the connexion which Buddhism holds between the past world (including
the present) and the future is not that of a metempsychosis, or
transmigration of souls, for it does not appear to admit any separate
existence of the soul. Adhering to its own phraseology of “the wheel,”
I would call its doctrine that of “The Transrotation of Births.” See
Rhys Davids’ third Hibbert Lecture.

(23) Or, more according to the phonetisation of the text, Vaidurya. He
was king of Kosala, the son and successor of Prasenajit, and the
destroyer of Kapilavastu, the city of the Sakya family. His hostility
to the Sakyas is sufficiently established, and it may be considered as
certain that the name Shay-e, which, according to Julien’s “Methode,”
p. 89, may be read Chia-e, is the same as Kia-e ({.} {.}), one of the
phonetisations of Kapilavastu, as given by Eitel.

(24) This would be the interview in the “Life of the Buddha” in
Trübner’s Oriental Series, p. 116, when Virudhaha on his march found
Buddha under an old sakotato tree. It afforded him no shade; but he
told the king that the thought of the danger of “his relatives and
kindred made it shady.” The king was moved to sympathy for the time,
and went back to Sravasti; but the destruction of Kapilavastu was only
postponed for a short space, and Buddha himself acknowledged it to be
inevitable in the connexion of cause and effect.


Fifty le to the west of the city bring (the traveller) to a town named
Too-wei,(1) the birthplace of Kasyapa Buddha.(1) At the place where he
and his father met,(2) and at that where he attained to pari-nirvâna,
topes were erected. Over the entire relic of the whole body of him, the
Kasyapa Tathagata,(3) a great tope was also erected.

Going on south-east from the city of Sravasti for twelve yojanas, (the
travellers) came to a town named Na-pei-kea,(4) the birthplace of
Krakuchanda Buddha. At the place where he and his father met, and at
that where he attained to pari-nirvâna, topes were erected. Going north
from here less than a yojana, they came to a town which had been the
birthplace of Kanakamuni Buddha. At the place where he and his father
met, and where he attained to pari-nirvâna, topes were erected.


(1) Identified, as Beal says, by Cunningham with Tadwa, a village nine
miles to the west of Sahara-mahat. The birthplace of Kasyapa Buddha is
generally thought to have been Benares. According to a calculation of
Rémusat, from his birth to A.D. 1832 there were 1,992,859 years!

(2) It seems to be necessary to have a meeting between every Buddha and
his father. One at least is ascribed to Sâkyamuni and his father (real
or supposed) Suddhodana.

(3) This is the highest epithet given to every supreme Buddha; in
Chinese {.} {.}, meaning, as Eitel, p. 147 says, “_Sic profectus sum_.”
It is equivalent to “Rightful Buddha, the true successor in the Supreme
Buddha Line.” Hardy concludes his account of the Kasyapa Buddha (M. B.,
p. 97) with the following sentence:—“After his body was burnt, the
bones still remained in their usual position, presenting the appearance
of a perfect skeleton; and the whole of the inhabitants of Jambudvipa,
assembling together, erected a dagoba over his relics one yojana in

(4) Na-pei-kea or Nabhiga is not mentioned elsewhere. Eitel says this
Buddha was born at the city of Gan-ho ({.} {.} {.}) and Hardy gives his
birthplace as Mekhala. It may be possible, by means of Sanskrit, to
reconcile these statements.


Less than a yojana to the east from this brought them to the city of
Kapilavastu;(1) but in it there was neither king nor people. All was
mound and desolation. Of inhabitants there were only some monks and a
score or two of families of the common people. At the spot where stood
the old palace of king Suddhodana(2) there have been made images of the
prince (his eldest son) and his mother;(3) and at the places where that
son appeared mounted on a white elephant when he entered his mother’s
womb,(4) and where he turned his carriage round on seeing the sick man
after he had gone out of the city by the eastern gate,(5) topes have
been erected. The places (were also pointed out)(6) where (the rishi)
A-e(7) inspected the marks (of Buddhaship on the body) of the
heir-apparent (when an infant); where, when he was in company with
Nanda and others, on the elephant being struck down and drawn to one
side, he tossed it away;(8) where he shot an arrow to the south-east,
and it went a distance of thirty le, then entering the ground and
making a spring to come forth, which men subsequently fashioned into a
well from which travellers might drink;(9) where, after he had attained
to Wisdom, Buddha returned and saw the king, his father;(10) where five
hundred Sakyas quitted their families and did reverence to Upali(11)
while the earth shook and moved in six different ways; where Buddha
preached his Law to the devas, and the four deva kings and others kept
the four doors (of the hall), so that (even) the king, his father,
could not enter;(12) where Buddha sat under a nyagrodha tree, which is
still standing,(13) with his face to the east, and (his aunt)
Maja-prajapati presented him with a Sanghali;(14) and (where) king
Vaidurya slew the seed of Sakya, and they all in dying became
Srotapannas.(15) A tope was erected at this last place, which is still

Several le north-east from the city was the king’s field, where the
heir-apparent sat under a tree, and looked at the ploughers.(16)

Fifty le east from the city was a garden, named Lumbini,(17) where the
queen entered the pond and bathed. Having come forth from the pond on
the northern bank, after (walking) twenty paces, she lifted up her
hand, laid hold of a branch of a tree, and, with her face to the east,
gave birth to the heir-apparent.(18) When he fell to the ground, he
(immediately) walked seven paces. Two dragon-kings (appeared) and
washed his body. At the place where they did so, there was immediately
formed a well, and from it, as well as from the above pond, where (the
queen) bathed,(19) the monks (even) now constantly take the water, and
drink it.

There are four places of regular and fixed occurrence (in the history
of) all Buddhas:—first, the place where they attained to perfect Wisdom
(and became Buddha); second, the place where they turned the wheel of
the Law;(20) third, the place where they preached the Law, discoursed
of righteousness, and discomfited (the advocates of) erroneous
doctrines; and fourth, the place where they came down, after going up
to the Trayatrimsas heaven to preach the Law for the benefit of their
mothers. Other places in connexion with them became remarkable,
according to the manifestations which were made at them at particular

The country of Kapilavastu is a great scene of empty desolation. The
inhabitants are few and far between. On the roads people have to be on
their guard against white elephants(21) and lions, and should not
travel incautiously.


(1) Kapilavastu, “the city of beautiful virtue,” was the birthplace of
Sâkyamuni, but was destroyed, as intimated in the notes on last
chapter, during his lifetime. It was situated a short distance
north-west of the present Goruckpoor, lat. 26d 46s N., lon. 83d 19s E.
Davids says (Manual, p. 25), “It was on the banks of the river Rohini,
the modern Kohana, about 100 miles north-west of the city of Benares.”

(2) The father, or supposed father, of Sâkyamuni. He is here called
“the king white and pure” ({.} {.} {.}). A more common appellation is
“the king of pure rice” ({.} {.} {.}); but the character {.}, or
“rice,” must be a mistake for {.}, “Brahman,” and the appellation=
“Pure Brahman king.”

(3) The “eldest son,” or “prince” was Sâkyamuni, and his mother had no
other son. For “his mother,” see chap. xvii, note 3. She was a daughter
of Anjana or Anusakya, king of the neighbouring country of Koli, and
Yasodhara, an aunt of Suddhodana. There appear to have been various
intermarriages between the royal houses of Kapila and Koli.

(4) In “The Life of the Buddha,” p. 15, we read that “Buddha was now in
the Tushita heaven, and knowing that his time was come (the time for
his last rebirth in the course of which he would become Buddha), he
made the necessary examinations; and having decided that Maha-maya was
the right mother, in the midnight watch he entered her womb under the
appearance of an elephant.” See M. B., pp. 140-143, and, still better,
Rhys Davids’ “Birth Stories,” pp. 58-63.

(5) In Hardy’s M. B., pp. 154, 155, we read, “As the prince
(Siddhartha, the first name given to Sâkyamuni; see Eitel, under
Sarvarthasiddha) was one day passing along, he saw a deva under the
appearance of a leper, full of sores, with a body like a water-vessel,
and legs like the pestle for pounding rice; and when he learned from
his charioteer what it was that he saw, he became agitated, and
returned at once to the palace.” See also Rhys Davids’ “Buddhism,” p.

(6) This is an addition of my own, instead of “There are also topes
erected at the following spots,” of former translators. Fâ-Hien does
not say that there were memorial topes at all these places.

(7) Asita; see Eitel, p. 15. He is called in Pâli Kala Devala, and had
been a minister of Suddhodana’s father.

(8) In “The Life of Buddha” we read that the Lichchhavis of Vaisali had
sent to the young prince a very fine elephant; but when it was near
Kapilavastu, Devadatta, out of envy, killed it with a blow of his fist.
Nanda (not Ananda, but a half-brother of Siddhartha), coming that way,
saw the carcase lying on the road, and pulled it on one side; but the
Bodhisattva, seeing it there, took it by the tail, and tossed it over
seven fences and ditches, when the force of its fall made a great
ditch. I suspect that the characters in the column have been
disarranged, and that we should read {.} {.} {.} {.}, {.} {.}, {.} {.}.
Buddha, that is Siddhartha, was at this time only ten years old.

(9) The young Sakyas were shooting when the prince thus surpassed them
all. He was then seventeen.

(10) This was not the night when he finally fled from Kapilavastu, and
as he was leaving the palace, perceiving his sleeping father, and said,
“Father, though I love thee, yet a fear possesses me, and I may not
stay;”—The Life of the Buddha, p. 25. Most probably it was that related
in M. B., pp. 199-204. See “Buddhist Birth Stories,” pp. 120-127.

(11) They did this, I suppose, to show their humility, for Upali was
only a Sudra by birth, and had been a barber; so from the first did
Buddhism assert its superiority to the conditions of rank and caste.
Upali was distinguished by his knowledge of the rules of discipline,
and praised on that account by Buddha. He was one of the three leaders
of the first synod, and the principal compiler of the original Vinaya

(12) I have not met with the particulars of this preaching.

(13) Meaning, as explained in Chinese, “a tree without knotsy” the
_ficus Indica_. See Rhys Davids’ note, Manual, p. 39, where he says
that a branch of one of these trees was taken from Buddha Gaya to
Anuradhapura in Ceylon in the middle of the third century B.C, and is
still growing there, the oldest historical tree in the world.

(14) See chap. xiii, note 11. I have not met with the account of this
presentation. See the long account of Prajapati in M. B., pp. 306-315.

(15) See chap. xx, note 10. The Srotapannas are the first class of
saints, who are not to be reborn in a lower sphere, but attain to
nirvâna after having been reborn seven times consecutively as men or
devas. The Chinese editions state there were “1000” of the Sakya seed.
The general account is that they were 500, all maidens, who refused to
take their place in king Vaidurya’s harem, and were in consequence
taken to a pond, and had their hands and feet cut off. There Buddha
came to them, had their wounds dressed, and preached to them the Law.
They died in the faith, and were reborn in the region of the four Great
Kings. Thence they came back and visited Buddha at Jetavana in the
night, and there they obtained the reward of Srotapanna. “The Life of
the Buddha,” p. 121.

(16) See the account of this event in M. B., p. 150. The account of it
reminds me of the ploughing by the sovereign, which has been an
institution in China from the earliest times. But there we have no
magic and no extravagance.

(17) “The place of Liberationy” see chap. xiii, note 7.

(18) See the accounts of this event in M. B., pp. 145, 146; “The Life
of the Buddha,” pp. 15, 16; and “Buddhist Birth Stories,” p. 66.

(19) There is difficulty in construing the text of this last statement.
Mr. Beal had, no doubt inadvertently, omitted it in his first
translation. In his revised version he gives for it, I cannot say
happily, “As well as at the pool, the water of which came down from
above for washing (the child).”

(20) See chap. xvii, note 8. See also Davids’ Manual, p. 45. The latter
says, that “to turn the wheel of the Law” means “to set rolling the
royal chariot wheel of a universal empire of truth and righteousnessy”
but he admits that this is more grandiloquent than the phraseology was
in the ears of Buddhists. I prefer the words quoted from Eitel in the
note referred to. “They turned” is probably equivalent to “They began
to turn.”

(21) Fâ-Hien does not say that he himself saw any of these white
elephants, nor does he speak of the lions as of any particular colour.
We shall find by-and-by, in a note further on, that, to make them
appear more terrible, they are spoken of as “black.”


East from Buddha’s birthplace, and at a distance of five yojanas, there
is a kingdom called Rama.(1) The king of this country, having obtained
one portion of the relics of Buddha’s body,(2) returned with it and
built over it a tope, named the Rama tope. By the side of it there was
a pool, and in the pool a dragon, which constantly kept watch over (the
tope), and presented offerings to it day and night. When king Asoka
came forth into the world, he wished to destroy the eight topes (over
the relics), and to build (instead of them) 84,000 topes.(3) After he
had thrown down the seven (others), he wished next to destroy this
tope. But then the dragon showed itself, took the king into its
palace;(4) and when he had seen all the things provided for offerings,
it said to him, “If you are able with your offerings to exceed these,
you can destroy the tope, and take it all away. I will not contend with
you.” The king, however, knew that such appliances for offerings were
not to be had anywhere in the world, and thereupon returned (without
carrying out his purpose).

(Afterwards), the ground all about became overgrown with vegetation,
and there was nobody to sprinkle and sweep (about the tope); but a herd
of elephants came regularly, which brought water with their trunks to
water the ground, and various kinds of flowers and incense, which they
presented at the tope. (Once) there came from one of the kingdoms a
devotee(5) to worship at the tope. When he encountered the elephants he
was greatly alarmed, and screened himself among the trees; but when he
saw them go through with the offerings in the most proper manner, the
thought filled him with great sadness—that there should be no monastery
here, (the inmates of which) might serve the tope, but the elephants
have to do the watering and sweeping. Forthwith he gave up the great
prohibitions (by which he was bound),(6) and resumed the status of a
Sramanera.(7) With his own hands he cleared away the grass and trees,
put the place in good order, and made it pure and clean. By the power
of his exhortations, he prevailed on the king of the country to form a
residence for monks; and when that was done, he became head of the
monastery. At the present day there are monks residing in it. This
event is of recent occurrence; but in all the succession from that time
till now, there has always been a Sramanera head of the establishment.


(1) Rama or Ramagrama, between Kapilavastu and Kusanagara.

(2) See the account of the eightfold division of the relics of Buddha’s
body in the Sacred Books of the East, vol. xi, Buddhist Suttas, pp.

(3) The bones of the human body are supposed to consist of 84,000
atoms, and hence the legend of Asoka’s wish to build 84,000 topes, one
over each atom of Sâkyamuni’s skeleton.

(4) Fâ-Hien, it appears to me, intended his readers to understand that
the naga-guardian had a palace of his own, inside or underneath the
pool or tank.

(5) It stands out on the narrative as a whole that we have not here
“some pilgrims,” but one devotee.

(6) What the “great prohibitions” which the devotee now gave up were we
cannot tell. Being what he was, a monk of more than ordinary ascetical
habits, he may have undertaken peculiar and difficult vows.

(7) The Sramanera, or in Chinese Shamei. See chap. xvi, note 19.


East from here four yojanas, there is the place where the heir-apparent
sent back Chandaka, with his white horse;(1) and there also a tope was

Four yojanas to the east from this, (the travellers) came to the
Charcoal tope,(2) where there is also a monastery.

Going on twelve yojanas, still to the east, they came to the city of
Kusanagara,(3) on the north of which, between two trees,(4) on the bank
of the Nairanjana(5) river, is the place where the World-honoured one,
with his head to the north, attained to pari-nirvâna (and died). There
also are the places where Subhadra,(6) the last (of his converts),
attained to Wisdom (and became an Arhat); where in his coffin of gold
they made offerings to the World-honoured one for seven days,(7) where
the Vajrapani laid aside his golden club,(8) and where the eight
kings(9) divided the relics (of the burnt body):—at all these places
were built topes and monasteries, all of which are now existing.

In the city the inhabitants are few and far between, comprising only
the families belonging to the (different) societies of monks.

Going from this to the south-east for twelve yojanas, they came to the
place where the Lichchhavis(10) wished to follow Buddha to (the place
of) his pari-nirvâna, and where, when he would not listen to them and
they kept cleaving to him, unwilling to go away, he made to appear a
large and deep ditch which they could not cross over, and gave them his
alms-bowl, as a pledge of his regard, (thus) sending them back to their
families. There a stone pillar was erected with an account of this
event engraved upon it.


(1) This was on the night when Sâkyamuni finally left his palace and
family to fulfil the course to which he felt that he was called.
Chandaka, in Pâli Channa, was the prince’s charioteer, and in sympathy
with him. So also was the white horse Kanthaka (Kanthakanam Asvaraja),
which neighed his delight till the devas heard him. See M. B., pp.
158-161, and Davids’ Manual, pp. 32, 33. According to “Buddhist Birth
Stories,” p. 87, the noble horse never returned to the city, but died
of grief at being left by his master, to be reborn immediately in the
Trayastrimsas heaven as the deva Kanthaka!

(2) Beal and Giles call this the “Ashes” tope. I also would have
preferred to call it so; but the Chinese character is {.}, not {.}.
Rémusat has “la tour des charbons.” It was over the place of Buddha’s

(3) In Pâli Kusinara. It got its name from the Kusa grass (the _poa
cynosuroides_); and its ruins are still extant, near Kusiah, 180 N.W.
from Patna; “about,” says Davids, “120 miles N.N.E. of Benares, and 80
miles due east of Kapilavastu.”

(4) The Sala tree, the _Shorea robusta_, which yields the famous teak

(5) Confounded, according to Eitel, even by Hsuan-chwang, with the
Hiranyavati, which flows past the city on the south.

(6) A Brahman of Benares, said to have been 120 years old, who came to
learn from Buddha the very night he died. Ananda would have repulsed
him; but Buddha ordered him to be introduced; and then putting aside
the ingenious but unimportant question which he propounded, preached to
him the Law. The Brahman was converted and attained at once to
Arhatship. Eitel says that he attained to nirvâna a few moments before
Sâkyamuni; but see the full account of him and his conversion in
“Buddhist Suttas,” p. 103-110.

(7) Thus treating the dead Buddha as if he had been a Chakravartti
king. Hardy’s M. B., p. 347, says:—“For the place of cremation, the
princes (of Kusinara) offered their own coronation-hall, which was
decorated with the utmost magnificence, and the body was deposited in a
golden sarcophagus.” See the account of a cremation which Fâ-Hien
witnessed in Ceylon, chap. xxxix.

(8) The name Vajrapani is explained as “he who holds in his hand the
diamond club (or pestle=sceptre),” which is one of the many names of
Indra or Sakra. He therefore, that great protector of Buddhism, would
seem to be intended here; but the difficulty with me is that neither in
Hardy nor Rockhill, nor any other writer, have I met with any
manifestation of himself made by Indra on this occasion. The princes of
Kusanagara were called mallas, “strong or mighty heroesy” so also were
those of Pava and Vaisali; and a question arises whether the language
may not refer to some story which Fâ-Hien had heard,—something which
they did on this great occasion. Vajrapani is also explained as meaning
“the diamond mighty heroy” but the epithet of “diamond” is not so
applicable to them as to Indra. The clause may hereafter obtain more

(9) Of Kusanagara, Pava, Vaisali, and other kingdoms. Kings, princes,
brahmans,—each wanted the whole relic; but they agreed to an eightfold
division at the suggestion of the brahman Drona.

(10) These “strong heroes” were the chiefs of Vaisali, a kingdom and
city, with an oligarchical constitution. They embraced Buddhism early,
and were noted for their peculiar attachment to Buddha. The second
synod was held at Vaisali, as related in the next chapter. The ruins of
the city still exist at Bassahar, north of Patna, the same, I suppose,
as Besarh, twenty miles north of Hajipur. See Beal’s Revised Version,
p. lii.


East from this city ten yojanas, (the travellers) came to the kingdom
of Vaisali. North of the city so named is a large forest, having in it
the double-galleried vihâra(1) where Buddha dwelt, and the tope over
half the body of Ananda.(2) Inside the city the woman Ambapali(3) built
a vihâra in honour of Buddha, which is now standing as it was at first.
Three le south of the city, on the west of the road, (is the) garden
(which) the same Ambapali presented to Buddha, in which he might
reside. When Buddha was about to attain to his pari-nirvâna, as he was
quitting the city by the west gate, he turned round, and, beholding the
city on his right, said to them, “Here I have taken my last walk.”(4)
Men subsequently built a tope at this spot.

Three le north-west of the city there is a tope called, “Bows and
weapons laid down.” The reason why it got that name was this:—The
inferior wife of a king, whose country lay along the river Ganges,
brought forth from her womb a ball of flesh. The superior wife, jealous
of the other, said, “You have brought forth a thing of evil omen,” and
immediately it was put into a box of wood and thrown into the river.
Farther down the stream another king was walking and looking about,
when he saw the wooden box (floating) in the water. (He had it brought
to him), opened it, and found a thousand little boys, upright and
complete, and each one different from the others. He took them and had
them brought up. They grew tall and large, and very daring, and strong,
crushing all opposition in every expedition which they undertook. By
and by they attacked the kingdom of their real father, who became in
consequence greatly distressed and sad. His inferior wife asked what it
was that made him so, and he replied, “That king has a thousand sons,
daring and strong beyond compare, and he wishes with them to attack my
kingdom; this is what makes me sad.” The wife said, “You need not be
sad and sorrowful. Only make a high gallery on the wall of the city on
the east; and when the thieves come, I shall be able to make them
retire.” The king did as she said; and when the enemies came, she said
to them from the tower, “You are my sons; why are you acting so
unnaturally and rebelliously?” They replied, “If you do not believe
me,” she said, “look, all of you, towards me, and open your mouths.”
She then pressed her breasts with her two hands, and each sent forth
500 jets of milk, which fell into the mouths of the thousand sons. The
thieves (thus) knew that she was their mother, and laid down their bows
and weapons.(5) The two kings, the fathers, thereupon fell into
reflection, and both got to be Pratyeka Buddhas.(6) The tope of the two
Pratyeka Buddhas is still existing.

In a subsequent age, when the World-honoured one had attained to
perfect Wisdom (and become Buddha), he said to is disciples, “This is
the place where I in a former age laid down my bow and weapons.”(7) It
was thus that subsequently men got to know (the fact), and raised the
tope on this spot, which in this way received its name. The thousand
little boys were the thousand Buddhas of this Bhadra-kalpa.(8)

It was by the side of the “Weapons-laid-down” tope that Buddha, having
given up the idea of living longer, said to Ananda, “In three months
from this I will attain to pavi-nirvânay” and king Mara(9) had so
fascinated and stupefied Ananda, that he was not able to ask Buddha to
remain longer in this world.

Three or four le east from this place there is a tope (commemorating
the following occurrence):—A hundred years after the pari-nirvâna of
Buddha, some Bhikshus of Vaisali went wrong in the matter of the
disciplinary rules in ten particulars, and appealed for their
justification to what they said were the words of Buddha. Hereupon the
Arhats and Bhikshus observant of the rules, to the number in all of 700
monks, examined afresh and collated the collection of disciplinary
books.(10) Subsequently men built at this place the tope (in question),
which is still existing.


(1) It is difficult to tell what was the peculiar form of this vihâra
from which it gets its name; something about the construction of its
door, or cupboards, or galleries.

(2) See the explanation of this in the next chapter.

(3) Ambapali, Amrapali, or Amradarika, “the guardian of the Amra
(probably the mango) tree,” is famous in Buddhist annals. See the
account of her in M. B., pp. 456-8. She was a courtesan. She had been
in many narakas or hells, was 100,000 times a female beggar, and 10,000
times a prostitute; but maintaining perfect continence during the
period of Kasyapa Buddha, Sâkyamuni’s predecessor, she had been born a
devi, and finally appeared in earth under an Amra tree in Vaisali.
There again she fell into her old ways, and had a son by king
Bimbisara; but she was won over by Buddha to virtue and chastity,
renounced the world, and attained to the state of an Arhat. See the
earliest account of Ambapali’s presentation of the garden in “Buddhist
Suttas,” pp. 30-33, and the note there from Bishop Bigandet on pp. 33,

(4) Beal gives, “In this place I have performed the last religious act
of my earthly careery” Giles, “This is the last place I shall visit;”
Rémusat, “C’est un lieu ou je reviendrai bien longtemps apres ceci.”
Perhaps the “walk” to which Buddha referred had been for meditation.

(5) See the account of this legend in the note in M. B., pp. 235, 236,
different, but not less absurd. The first part of Fâ-Hien’s narrative
will have sent the thoughts of some of my readers to the exposure of
the infant Moses, as related in Exodus.

(6) See chap. xiii, note 14.

(7) Thus Sâkyamuni had been one of the thousand little boys who floated
in the box in the Ganges. How long back the former age was we cannot
tell. I suppose the tope of the two fathers who became Pratyeka Buddhas
had been built like the one commemorating the laying down of weapons
after Buddha had told his disciples of the strange events in the past.

(8) Bhadra-kalpa, “the Kalpa of worthies or sages.” “This,” says Eitel,
p. 22, “is a designation for a Kalpa of stability, so called because
1000 Buddhas appear in the course of it. Our present period is a
Bhadra-kalpa, and four Buddhas have already appeared. It is to last 236
million years, but over 151 millions have already elapsed.”

(9) “The king of demons.” The name Mara is explained by “the murderer,”
“the destroyer of virtue,” and similar appellations. “He is,” says
Eitel, “the personification of lust, the god of love, sin, and death,
the arch-enemy of goodness, residing in the heaven Paranirmita
Vasavartin on the top of the Kamadhatu. He assumes different forms,
especially monstrous ones, to tempt or frighten the saints, or sends
his daughters, or inspires wicked men like Devadatta or the Nirgranthas
to do his work. He is often represented with 100 arms, and riding on an
elephant.” The oldest form of the legend in this paragraph is in
“Buddhist Suttas,” Sacred Books of the East, vol. xi, pp. 41-55, where
Buddha says that, if Ananda had asked him thrice, he would have
postponed his death.

(10) Or the Vinaya-pitaka. The meeting referred to was an important
one, and is generally spoken of as the second Great Council of the
Buddhist Church. See, on the formation of the Buddhist Canon, Hardy’s
E. M., chap. xviii, and the last chapter of Davids’ Manual, on the
History of the Order. The first Council was that held at Rajagriha,
shortly after Buddha’s death, under the presidency of Kasyapa;—say
about B.C. 410. The second was that spoken of here;—say about B.C. 300.
In Davids’ Manual (p. 216) we find the ten points of discipline, in
which the heretics (I can use that term here) claimed at least
indulgence. Two meetings were held to consider and discuss them. At the
former the orthodox party barely succeeded in carrying their
condemnation of the laxer monks; and a second and larger meeting, of
which Fâ-Hien speaks, was held in consequence, and a more emphatic
condemnation passed. At the same time all the books and subjects of
discipline seem to have undergone a careful revision.
    The Corean text is clearer than the Chinese as to those who
    composed the Council,—the Arhats and orthodox monks. The leader
    among them was a Yasas, or Yasada, or Yedsaputtra, who had been a
    disciple of Ananda, and must therefore have been a very old man.


Four yojanas on from this place to the east brought the travellers to
the confluence of the five rivers.(1) When Ananda was going from
Magadha(2) to Vaisali, wishing his pari-nirvâna to take place (there),
the devas informed king Ajatasatru(3) of it, and the king immediately
pursued him, in his own grand carriage, with a body of soldiers, and
had reached the river. (On the other hand), the Lichchhavis of Vaisali
had heard that Ananda was coming (to their city), and they on their
part came to meet him. (In this way), they all arrived together at the
river, and Ananda considered that, if he went forward, king Ajatasatru
would be very angry, while, if he went back, the Lichchhavis would
resent his conduct. He thereupon in the very middle of the river burnt
his body in a fiery ecstasy of Samadhi,(4) and his pari-nirvâna was
attained. He divided his body (also) into two, (leaving) the half of it
on each bank; so that each of the two kings got one half as a (sacred)
relic, and took it back (to his own capital), and there raised a tope
over it.


(1) This spot does not appear to have been identified. It could not be
far from Patna.

(2) Magadha was for some time the headquarters of Buddhism; the holy
land, covered with vihâras; a fact perpetuated, as has been observed in
a previous note, in the name of the present Behar, the southern portion
of which corresponds to the ancient kingdom of Magadha.

(3) In Singhalese, Ajasat. See the account of his conversion in M. B.,
pp. 321-326. He was the son of king Bimbisara, who was one of the first
royal converts to Buddhism. Ajasat murdered his father, or at least
wrought his death; and was at first opposed to Sâkyamuni, and a
favourer of Devadatta. When converted, he became famous for his
liberality in almsgiving.

(4) Eitel has a long article (pp. 114, 115) on the meaning of Samadhi,
which is one of the seven sections of wisdom (bodhyanga). Hardy defines
it as meaning “perfect tranquillityy” Turnour, as “meditative
abstractiony” Burnouf, as “self-controly” and Edkins, as “ecstatic
reverie.” “Samadhi,” says Eitel, “signifies the highest pitch of
abstract, ecstatic meditation; a state of absolute indifference to all
influences from within or without; a state of torpor of both the
material and spiritual forces of vitality; a sort of terrestrial
nirvâna, consistently culminating in total destruction of life.” He
then quotes apparently the language of the text, “He consumed his body
by Agni (the fire of) Samadhi,” and says it is “a common expression for
the effects of such ecstatic, ultra-mystic self-annihilation.” All this
is simply “a darkening of counsel by words without knowledge.” Some
facts concerning the death of Ananda are hidden beneath the darkness of
the phraseology, which it is impossible for us to ascertain. By or in
Samadhi he burns his body in the very middle of the river, and then he
divides the relic of the burnt body into two parts (for so evidently
Fâ-Hien intended his narration to be taken), and leaves one half on
each bank. The account of Ananda’s death in Nien-ch’ang’s “History of
Buddha and the Patriarchs” is much more extravagant. Crowds of men and
devas are brought together to witness it. The body is divided into four
parts. One is conveyed to the Tushita heaven; a second, to the palace
of a certain Naga king; a third is given to Ajatasatru; and the fourth
to the Lichchhavis. What it all really means I cannot tell.


Having crossed the river, and descended south for a yojana, (the
travellers) came to the town of Pataliputtra,(1) in the kingdom of
Magadha, the city where king Asoka(2) ruled. The royal palace and halls
in the midst of the city, which exist now as of old, were all made by
spirits which he employed, and which piled up the stones, reared the
walls and gates, and executed the elegant carving and inlaid
sculpture-work,—in a way which no human hands of this world could

King Asoka had a younger brother who had attained to be an Arhat, and
resided on Gridhra-kuta(3) hill, finding his delight in solitude and
quiet. The king, who sincerely reverenced him, wished and begged him
(to come and live) in his family, where he could supply all his wants.
The other, however, through his delight in the stillness of the
mountain, was unwilling to accept the invitation, on which the king
said to him, “Only accept my invitation, and I will make a hill for you
inside the city.” Accordingly, he provided the materials of a feast,
called to him the spirits, and announced to them, “To-morrow you will
all receive my invitation; but as there are no mats for you to sit on,
let each one bring (his own seat).” Next day the spirits came, each one
bringing with him a great rock, (like) a wall, four or five paces
square, (for a seat). When their sitting was over, the king made them
form a hill with the large stones piled on one another, and also at the
foot of the hill, with five large square stones, to make an apartment,
which might be more than thirty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and
more than ten cubits high.

In this city there had resided a great Brahman,(4) named Radha-sami,(5)
a professor of the mahayana, of clear discernment and much wisdom, who
understood everything, living by himself in spotless purity. The king
of the country honoured and reverenced him, and served him as his
teacher. If he went to inquire for and greet him, the king did not
presume to sit down alongside of him; and if, in his love and
reverence, he took hold of his hand, as soon as he let it go, the
Brahman made haste to pour water on it and wash it. He might be more
than fifty years old, and all the kingdom looked up to him. By means of
this one man, the Law of Buddha was widely made known, and the
followers of other doctrines did not find it in their power to
persecute the body of monks in any way.

By the side of the tope of Asoka, there has been made a mahayana
monastery, very grand and beautiful; there is also a hinayana one; the
two together containing six or seven hundred monks. The rules of
demeanour and the scholastic arrangements(6) in them are worthy of

Shamans of the highest virtue from all quarters, and students,
inquirers wishing to find out truth and the grounds of it, all resort
to these monasteries. There also resides in this monastery a Brahman
teacher, whose name also is Manjusri,(7) whom the Shamans of greatest
virtue in the kingdom, and the mahayana Bhikshus honour and look up to.

The cities and towns of this country are the greatest of all in the
Middle Kingdom. The inhabitants are rich and prosperous, and vie with
one another in the practice of benevolence and righteousness. Every
year on the eighth day of the second month they celebrate a procession
of images. They make a four-wheeled car, and on it erect a structure of
four storeys by means of bamboos tied together. This is supported by a
king-post, with poles and lances slanting from it, and is rather more
than twenty cubits high, having the shape of a tope. White and
silk-like cloth of hair(8) is wrapped all round it, which is then
painted in various colours. They make figures of devas, with gold,
silver, and lapis lazuli grandly blended and having silken streamers
and canopies hung out over them. On the four sides are niches, with a
Buddha seated in each, and a Bodhisattva standing in attendance on him.
There may be twenty cars, all grand and imposing, but each one
different from the others. On the day mentioned, the monks and laity
within the borders all come together; they have singers and skilful
musicians; they pay their devotion with flowers and incense. The
Brahmans come and invite the Buddhas to enter the city. These do so in
order, and remain two nights in it. All through the night they keep
lamps burning, have skilful music, and present offerings. This is the
practice in all the other kingdoms as well. The Heads of the Vaisya
families in them establish in the cities houses for dispensing charity
and medicines. All the poor and destitute in the country, orphans,
widowers, and childless men, maimed people and cripples, and all who
are diseased, go to those houses, and are provided with every kind of
help, and doctors examine their diseases. They get the food and
medicines which their cases require, and are made to feel at ease; and
when they are better, they go away of themselves.

When king Asoka destroyed the seven topes, (intending) to make
eighty-four thousand,(9) the first which he made was the great tope,
more than three le to the south of this city. In front of this there is
a footprint of Buddha, where a vihâra has been built. The door of it
faces the north, and on the south of it there is a stone pillar,
fourteen or fifteen cubits in circumference, and more than thirty
cubits high, on which there is an inscription, saying, “Asoka gave the
jambudvipa to the general body of all the monks, and then redeemed it
from them with money. This he did three times.”(10) North from the tope
300 or 400 paces, king Asoka built the city of Ne-le.(11) In it there
is a stone pillar, which also is more than thirty feet high, with a
lion on the top of it. On the pillar there is an inscription recording
the things which led to the building of Ne-le, with the number of the
year, the day, and the month.


(1) The modern Patna, lat. 25d 28s N., lon. 85d 15s E. The Sanskrit
name means “The city of flowers.” It is the Indian Florence.

(2) See chap. x, note 3. Asoka transferred his court from Rajagriha to
Pataliputtra, and there, in the eighteenth year of his reign, he
convoked the third Great Synod,—according, at least, to southern
Buddhism. It must have been held a few years before B.C. 250; Eitel
says in 246.

(3) “The Vulture-hilly” so called because Mara, according to Buddhist
tradition, once assumed the form of a vulture on it to interrupt the
meditation of Ananda; or, more probably, because it was a resort of
vultures. It was near Rajagriha, the earlier capital of Asoka, so that
Fâ-Hien connects a legend of it with his account of Patna. It abounded
in caverns, and was famous as a resort of ascetics.

(4) A Brahman by cast, but a Buddhist in faith.

(5) So, by the help of Julien’s “Methode,” I transliterate the Chinese
characters {.} {.} {.} {.}. Beal gives Radhasvami, his Chinese text
having a {.} between {.} and {.}. I suppose the name was Radhasvami or

(6) {.} {.}, the names of two kinds of schools, often occurring in the
Li Ki and Mencius. Why should there not have been schools in those
monasteries in India as there were in China? Fâ-Hien himself grew up
with other boys in a monastery, and no doubt had to “go to school.” And
the next sentence shows us there might be schools for more advanced
students as well as for the Sramaneras.

(7) See chap. xvi, note 22. It is perhaps with reference to the famous
Bodhisattva that the Brahman here is said to be “also” named Manjusri.

(8) ? Cashmere cloth.

(9) See chap. xxiii, note 3.

(10) We wish that we had more particulars of this great transaction,
and that we knew what value in money Asoka set on the whole world. It
is to be observed that he gave it to the monks, and did not receive it
from them. Their right was from him, and he bought it back. He was the
only “Power” that was.

(11) We know nothing more of Ne-le. It could only have been a small
place; an outpost for the defence of Pataliputtra.


(The travellers) went on from this to the south-east for nine yojanas,
and came to a small solitary rocky hill,(1) at the head or end of
which(2) was an apartment of stone, facing the south,—the place where
Buddha sat, when Sakra, Ruler of Devas, brought the deva-musician,
Pancha-(sikha),(3) to give pleasure to him by playing on his lute.
Sakra then asked Buddha about forty-two subjects, tracing (the
questions) out with his finger one by one on the rock.(4) The prints of
his tracing are still there; and here also there is a monastery.

A yojana south-west from this place brought them to the village of
Nala,(5) where Sariputtra(6) was born, and to which also he returned,
and attained here his pari-nirvâna. Over the spot (where his body was
burned) there was built a tope, which is still in existence.

Another yojana to the west brought them to New Rajagriha,(7)—the new
city which was built by king Ajatasatru. There were two monasteries in
it. Three hundred paces outside the west gate, king Ajatasatru, having
obtained one portion of the relics of Buddha, built (over them) a tope,
high, large, grand, and beautiful. Leaving the city by the south gate,
and proceeding south four le, one enters a valley, and comes to a
circular space formed by five hills, which stand all round it, and have
the appearance of the suburban wall of a city. Here was the old city of
king Bimbisara; from east to west about five or six le, and from north
to south seven or eight. It was here that Sariputtra and Maudgalyayana
first saw Upasena;(8) that the Nirgrantha(9) made a pit of fire and
poisoned the rice, and then invited Buddha (to eat with him); that king
Ajatasatru made a black elephant intoxicated with liquor, wishing him
to injure Buddha;(10) and that at the north-east corner of the city in
a (large) curving (space) Jivaka built a vihâra in the garden of
Ambapali,(11) and invited Buddha with his 1250 disciples to it, that he
might there make his offerings to support them. (These places) are
still there as of old, but inside the city all is emptiness and
desolation; no man dwells in it.


(1) Called by Hsuan-chwang Indra-sila-guha, or “The cavern of Indra.”
It has been identified with a hill near the village of Giryek, on the
bank of the Panchana river, about thirty-six miles from Gaya. The hill
terminates in two peaks overhanging the river, and it is the more
northern and higher of these which Fâ-Hien had in mind. It bears an
oblong terrace covered with the ruins of several buildings, especially
of a vihâra.

(2) This does not mean the top or summit of the hill, but its
“headland,” where it ended at the river.

(3) See the account of this visit of Sakra in M. B., pp. 288-290. It is
from Hardy that we are able to complete here the name of the musician,
which appears in Fâ-Hien as only Pancha, or “Five.” His harp or lute,
we are told, was “twelve miles long.”

(4) Hardy (M. B., pp. 288, 289) makes the subjects only thirteen, which
are still to be found in one of the Sûtras (“the Dik-Sanga, in the
Sakra-prasna Sutra”). Whether it was Sakra who wrote his questions, or
Buddha who wrote the answers, depends on the punctuation. It seems
better to make Sakra the writer.

(5) Or Nalanda; identified with the present Baragong. A grand monastery
was subsequently built at it, famous by the residence for five years of

(6) See chap. xvi, note 11. There is some doubt as to the statement
that Nala was his birthplace.

(7) The city of “Royal Palacesy” “the residence of the Magadha kings
from Bimbisara to Asoka, the first metropolis of Buddhism, at the foot
of the Gridhrakuta mountains. Here the first synod assembled within a
year after Sâkyamuni’s death. Its ruins are still extant at the village
of Rajghir, sixteen miles S.W. of Behar, and form an object of
pilgrimage to the Jains (E. H., p. 100).” It is called New Rajagriha to
distinguish it from Kusagarapura, a few miles from it, the old
residence of the kings. Eitel says it was built by Bimbisara, while
Fâ-Hien ascribes it to Ajatasatru. I suppose the son finished what the
father had begun.

(8) One of the five first followers of Sâkyamuni. He is also called
Asvajit; in Pâli Assaji; but Asvajit seems to be a military title=
“Master or trainer of horses.” The two more famous disciples met him,
not to lead him, but to be directed by him, to Buddha. See Sacred Books
of the East, vol. xiii, Vinaya Texts, pp. 144-147.

(9) One of the six Tirthyas (Tirthakas=“erroneous teachersy” M. B., pp.
290-292, but I have not found the particulars of the attempts on
Buddha’s life referred to by Fâ-Hien), or Brahmanical opponents of
Buddha. He was an ascetic, one of the Jnati clan, and is therefore
called Nirgranthajnati. He taught a system of fatalism, condemned the
use of clothes, and thought he could subdue all passions by fasting. He
had a body of followers, who called themselves by his name (Eitel, pp.
84, 85), and were the forerunners of the Jains.

(10) The king was moved to this by Devadatta. Of course the elephant
disappointed them, and did homage to Sâkyamuni. See Sacred Books of the
East, vol. xx, Vinaya Texts, p. 247.

(11) See chap. xxv, note 3. Jivaka was Ambapali’s son by king
Bimbisara, and devoted himself to the practice of medicine. See the
account of him in the Sacred Books of the East, vol. xvii, Vinaya
Texts, pp. 171-194.


Entering the valley, and keeping along the mountains on the south-east,
after ascending fifteen le, (the travellers) came to mount
Gridhra-kuta.(1) Three le before you reach the top, there is a cavern
in the rocks, facing the south, in which Buddha sat in meditation.
Thirty paces to the north-west there is another, where Ananda was
sitting in meditation, when the deva Mara Pisuna,(2) having assumed the
form of a large vulture, took his place in front of the cavern, and
frightened the disciple. Then Buddha, by his mysterious, supernatural
power, made a cleft in the rock, introduced his hand, and stroked
Ananda’s shoulder, so that his fear immediately passed away. The
footprints of the bird and the cleft for (Buddha’s) hand are still
there, and hence comes the name of “The Hill of the Vulture Cavern.”

In front of the cavern there are the places where the four Buddhas sat.
There are caverns also of the Arhats, one where each sat and meditated,
amounting to several hundred in all. At the place where in front of his
rocky apartment Buddha was walking from east to west (in meditation),
and Devadatta, from among the beetling cliffs on the north of the
mountain, threw a rock across, and hurt Buddha’s toes,(3) the rock is
still there.(4)

The hall where Buddha preached his Law has been destroyed, and only the
foundations of the brick walls remain. On this hill the peak is
beautifully green, and rises grandly up; it is the highest of all the
five hills. In the New City Fâ-Hien bought incense-(sticks), flowers,
oil and lamps, and hired two bhikshus, long resident (at the place), to
carry them (to the peak). When he himself got to it, he made his
offerings with the flowers and incense, and lighted the lamps when the
darkness began to come on. He felt melancholy, but restrained his tears
and said, “Here Buddha delivered the Surangama (Sutra).(5) I, Fâ-Hien,
was born when I could not meet with Buddha; and now I only see the
footprints which he has left, and the place where he lived, and nothing
more.” With this, in front of the rock cavern, he chanted the Surangama
Sutra, remained there over the night, and then returned towards the New


(1) See chap. xxviii, note 1.

(2) See chap. xxv, note 9. Pisuna is a name given to Mara, and
signifies “sinful lust.”

(3) See M. B., p. 320. Hardy says that Devadatta’s attempt was “by the
help of a machiney” but the oldest account in the Sacred Books of the
East, vol. xx, Vinaya Texts, p. 245, agrees with what Fâ-Hien implies
that he threw the rock with his own arm.

(4) And, as described by Hsuan-chwang, fourteen or fifteen cubits high,
and thirty paces round.

(5) See Mr. Bunyiu Nanjio’s “Catalogue of the Chinese Translation of
the Buddhist Tripitaka,” Sutra Pitaka, Nos. 399, 446. It was the former
of these that came on this occasion to the thoughts and memory of

(6) In a note (p. lx) to his revised version of our author, Mr. Beal
says, “There is a full account of this perilous visit of Fâ-Hien, and
how he was attacked by tigers, in the ‘History of the High Priests.’”
But “the high priests” merely means distinguished monks, “eminent
monks,” as Mr. Nanjio exactly renders the adjectival character. Nor was
Fâ-Hien “attacked by tigers” on the peak. No “tigers” appear in the
Memoir. “Two black lions” indeed crouched before him for a time this
night, “licking their lips and waving their tailsy” but their
appearance was to “try,” and not to attack him; and when they saw him
resolute, they “drooped their heads, put down their tails, and
prostrated themselves before him.” This of course is not an historical
account, but a legendary tribute to his bold perseverance.


Out from the old city, after walking over 300 paces, on the west of the
road, (the travellers) found the Karanda Bamboo garden,(1) where the
(old) vihâra is still in existence, with a company of monks, who keep
(the ground about it) swept and watered.

North of the vihâra two or three le there was the Smasanam, which name
means in Chinese “the field of graves into which the dead are

As they kept along the mountain on the south, and went west for 300
paces, they found a dwelling among the rocks, named the Pippala
cave,(3) in which Buddha regularly sat in meditation after taking his
(midday) meal.

Going on still to the west for five or six le, on the north of the
hill, in the shade, they found the cavern called Srataparna,(4) the
place where, after the nirvâna(5) of Buddha, 500 Arhats collected the
Sûtras. When they brought the Sûtras forth, three lofty seats(6) had
been prepared and grandly ornamented. Sariputtra occupied the one on
the left, and Maudgalyayana that on the right. Of the number of five
hundred one was wanting. Mahakasyapa was president (on the middle
seat). Ananda was then outside the door, and could not get in.(7) At
the place there was (subsequently) raised a tope, which is still

Along (the sides of) the hill, there are also a very great many cells
among the rocks, where the various Arhans sat and meditated. As you
leave the old city on the north, and go down east for three le, there
is the rock dwelling of Devadatta, and at a distance of fifty paces
from it there is a large, square, black rock. Formerly there was a
bhikshu, who, as he walked backwards and forwards upon it, thought with
himself:—“This body(8) is impermanent, a thing of bitterness and
vanity,(9) and which cannot be looked on as pure.(10) I am weary of
this body, and troubled by it as an evil.” With this he grasped a
knife, and was about to kill himself. But he thought again:—“The
World-honoured one laid down a prohibition against one’s killing
himself.”(11) Further it occurred to him:—“Yes, he did; but I now only
wish to kill three poisonous thieves.”(12) Immediately with the knife
he cut his throat. With the first gash into the flesh he attained the
state of a Srotapanna;(13) when he had gone half through, he attained
to be an Anagamin;(14) and when he had cut right through, he was an
Arhat, and attained to pari-nirvâna;(15) (and died).


(1) Karanda Venuvana; a park presented to Buddha by king Bimbisara, who
also built a vihâra in it. See the account of the transaction in M. B.,
p. 194. The place was called Karanda, from a creature so named, which
awoke the king just as a snake was about to bite him, and thus saved
his life. In Hardy the creature appears as a squirrel, but Eitel says
that the Karanda is a bird of sweet voice, resembling a magpie, but
herding in flocks; the _cuculus melanoleucus_. See “Buddhist Birth
Stories,” p. 118.

(2) The language here is rather contemptuous, as if our author had no
sympathy with any other mode of disposing of the dead, but by his own
Buddhistic method of cremation.

(3) The Chinese characters used for the name of this cavern serve also
to name the pippala (peepul) tree, the _ficus religiosa_. They make us
think that there was such a tree overshadowing the cave; but Fâ-Hien
would hardly have neglected to mention such a circumstance.

(4) A very great place in the annals of Buddhism. The Council in the
Srataparna cave did not come together fortuitously, but appears to have
been convoked by the older members to settle the rules and doctrines of
the order. The cave was prepared for the occasion by king Ajatasatru.
From the expression about the “bringing forth of the King,” it would
seem that the Sûtras 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 Sûtras, 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-nirvâna.

(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 nirvâna. 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 nirvâna. 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


(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 Sâkyamuni 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 Fâ-Hien.

(4) Called “the tree of leaves,” and “the tree of reflectiony” 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 Sâkyamuni 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 them.

(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
Sâkyamuni; 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
earthy” 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 loosedy” 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 Sâkyamuni, 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.


Fâ-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 vihâra, 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 vihâra 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 nirvâna; 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 vihâra 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 vihâra of the Deer-wild park for
thirteen yojanas, there is a kingdom named Kausambi.(12) Its vihâra 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) Fâ-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 riversy” 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 Sâkyamuni, who gave him
the name of Ajnata, meaning automat; and hence he often appears as
Ajnata Kaundinya. He and his four friends had followed Sâkyamuni 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
nirvâna had come without observation. These friends knew it not; and
they were offended by what they considered Sâkyamuni’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 Fâ-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 “Sâkyamuni,”=“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 vihâra to Buddha. Hardy (M. B., p. 356) quotes a statement
from a Singhalese authority that Sâkyamuni 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 flyy” 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. Fâ-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.
Fâ-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 vihâra. 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) Fâ-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). Fâ-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 Sâkyamuni held? It does not
appear that the rules observed at it were written down at the time. The
document found by Fâ-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 vihâra, or Fâ-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 Fâ-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

(8) See Nanjio’s Catalogue, No. 1287. He does not mention it in his
account of Fâ-Hien, who, he says, translated the Samyukta-pitaka Sutra.

(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 vihâra, 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 Fâ-Hien stayed two
years, writing out his Sûtras,(3) and drawing pictures of images.

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


(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

(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 Fâ-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 vihâra, 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 vihâra 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-nirvâna (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-vihâra. 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-vihâra. 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 vihâra within the city. On fast-days the door of that vihâra is
opened, and the forms of ceremonial reverence are observed according to
the rules.

Forty le to the east of the Abhayagiri-vihâra there is a hill, with a
vihâra 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 Sâkyamuni 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 Fâ-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 Sâkyamuni,
the Tripitaka was first reduced to writing in Ceylon;—“Buddhism,” p.

(5) We naturally suppose that the merchant-offerer was a Chinese, as
indeed the Chinese texts say, and the fan such as Fâ-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 Sâkyamuni 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 worldy” 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 Fâ-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 Sâkyamuni 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
    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 Sâkyamuni.

(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.” Rémusat gives for them, “la
transformation en eclairy” Beal, in his first version, “his appearance
as a bright flash of lighty” 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 Sâkyamuni 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 Fâ-Hien gives no intimation
of Dharma-gupta’s founding a school.


South of the city seven le there is a vihâra, called the Maha-vihâra,
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 vihâra 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. Fâ-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 vihâra 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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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 Sâkyamuni 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 Fâ-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. Fâ-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 vihâras. See the Mahavansa,
pp. 247, foll.

(6) See chapter xii. Fâ-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.


Fâ-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) (Sûtras); 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.
Fâ-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

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, (Fâ-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.

Fâ-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. Fâ-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 Fâ-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 (Fâ-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 Fâ-Hien to act as
interpreter and question them. Fâ-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
(Fâ-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, Fâ-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
Sûtras and the collection of the Vinaya (which he had procured).

After Fâ-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
Fâ-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

(2) Nanjio’s 545 and 504. The Agamas are Sûtras 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 Collectionsy” 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 Pâli 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 Fâ-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. Fâ-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 1815.

(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
Fâ-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. Rémusat, 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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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 Fâ-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, Fâ-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 Fâ-Hien.

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 - Being an account by the Chinese monk Fa-hsien of travels in India and Ceylon (A.D. 399-414) in search of the Buddhist books of discipline" ***

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