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-nirvana 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 Amanda 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-nirvana 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 viharas; 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 Sakyamuni, 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 tranquillity;" Turnour, as "meditative abstraction;" Burnouf, as "self-control;" 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 nirvana, 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 Fa-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 accomplish.

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 observation.

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 vihara 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-hill;" 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 Fa-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 Radhasami.

[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? Fa-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-nirvana. 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 vihara 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 Fa-hien had in mind. It bears an oblong terrace covered with the ruins of several buildings, especially of a vihara.

[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 Fa-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 Sutras ("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 Hsuan-chwang.

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

[7] The city of "Royal Palaces;" "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 Sakyamuni'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 Fa-hien ascribes it to Ajatasatru. I suppose the son finished what the father had begun.

[8] One of the five first followers of Sakyamuni. He is also called Asvajit; in Pali 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 teachers;" M. B., pp. 290-292, but I have not found the particulars of the attempts on Buddha's life referred to by Fa-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 Sakyamuni. 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 Fa-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, Fa-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 City.[6]


[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 machine;" but the oldest account in the Sacred Books of the East, vol. xx, Vinaya Texts, p. 245, agrees with what Fa-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 Fa-hien.

[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 Fa-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 Fa-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 tails;" 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) vihara is still in existence, with a company of monks, who keep (the ground about it) swept and watered.

North of the vihara two or three le there was the Smasanam, which name means in Chinese "the field of graves into which the dead are thrown."[2]

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 nirvana[5] of Buddha, 500 Arhats collected the Sutras. When they brought the Sutras 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). Amanda was then outside the door, and could not get in.[7] At the place there was (subsequently) raised a tope, which is still existing.

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-nirvana;[15] (and died).


[1] Karanda Venuvana; a park presented to Buddha by king Bimbisara, who also built a vihara 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 Fa-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 Sutras or some of them had been already committed to writing. May not the meaning of King {.} here be extended to the Vinaya rules, as well as the Sutras, and mean "the standards" of the system generally? See Davids' Manual, chapter ix, and Sacred Books of the East, vol. xx, Vinaya Texts, pp. 370-385.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[13] See chap. xx, note 10.

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

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