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, Fa-hien is here on the eastern bank of the Indus, and only crosses to the western bank as described in the next chapter.

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Hwuy-king, Hwuy-tah, and Tao-ching went on ahead towards (the place of) Buddha's shadow in the country of Nagara;[4] but Fa-hien and the others remained in Woo-chang, and kept the summer retreat.[5] That over, they descended south, and arrived in the country of Soo-ho-to.[6]


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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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