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

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

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


[1] Mentioned before in chapter xxvii.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[10] See chapter ix.

[11] See chapter xi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

[5] See chap. xvi, note 23.

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

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

[8] They had got to the south of the Shan-tung promontory, and the foot of mount Lao, which still rises under the same name on the extreme south of the peninsula, east from Keao Chow, and having the district of Tsieh-mih on the east of it. All the country there is included in the present Phing-too Chow of the department Lae-chow. The name Phing-too dates from the Han dynasty, but under the dynasty of the After Ch'e {.} {.}, (A.D. 479-501), it was changed into Ch'ang- kwang. Fa-hien may have lived, and composed the narrative of his travels, after the change of name was adopted. See the Topographical Tables of the different Dynasties ({.} {.} {.} {.} {.}), published in 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 Fa-hien, because he was a Sramana, they thought they would please him by saying they were disciples of Buddha. But what had disciples of Buddha to do with hunting and taking life? They were caught in their own trap, and said they were looking for peaches.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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