Buddhist records of the Western world (Xuanzang)

by Samuel Beal | 1884 | 224,928 words | ISBN-10: 8120811070

This is the English translation of the travel records of Xuanzang (or, Hiuen Tsiang): a Chinese Buddhist monk who traveled to India during the seventh century. This book recounts his documents his visit to India and neighboring countries, and reflects the condition of those countries during his time, including temples, culture, traditions and fest...

Chapter 1 - Country of Sang-kia-lo (Simhala)

Note: Siṃhala or Ceylon was not visited by Hiuen Tsiang, for reasons given in the last book. Fa-hian, however, resided in the island for two years (cap. 40).[1]

The kingdom of Siṃhala is about 7000 li in circuit;[2] the capital is about 40 li round. The soil is rich and fertile; the climate is hot; the ground is regularly cultivated; flowers and fruits are produced in abundance. The population is numerous; their family possessions are rich in revenues. The stature of the men is small. They are black complexioned[3] and fierce by nature. They love learning and esteem virtue. They greatly honour religious excellence, and labour in the acquisition of religious merit. This country was originally (called) Pāo-chu[4] (Ratnadvīpa), because of the precious gems found there. It was occupied by evil spirits.[5]

After this there was a king of a country of Southern India, whose daughter was affianced in a neighbouring country. On a fortunate day, having paid a complimentary visit, she was returning when a lion met her on the way. The servants of the guard left her and fled from the danger. Resting alone in her car, her heart was resigned to death. At this time the lion king, taking the woman on his back, went away and entered a lone valley in the deep mountains.[6] He caught the deer and gathered the fruits according to their season, with which to nourish her. In the course of time she brought into the world a boy and a girl. In form and features they resembled human beings, but in disposition they were like the beast tribes.

The youth gradually grew up, and was possessed of great bodily strength, so that he could subdue the wildest beasts. When he came to man's estate,[7] the wisdom of his manhood also came, and he asked his mother, saying, " What am I to be called? My father is a savage beast, and my mother is a human creature. But as you differ in kind, how can you have lived together?" Then the mother related the old story, and told it to her son. Her son, replying, said, "Men and beasts are of different kinds. We ought to hasten away from this." The mother replied, " I should have fled long ago, but I cannot help myself." Then the son from that time forth stopped at home whenever his father, the lion, roamed forth through the mountain passes, with a view to escape the difficult (position in which they were placed). And now on a certain occasion, his father having gone forth, he proceeded to carry away his mother and sister to a village inhabited by men. The mother then said, "You ought, both of you, to keep this matter secret, and say nothing about the first transaction, for if people were to come to hear of it, they would lightly esteem us."

On this she returned to her father's country, but it no longer belonged to her family, and the sacrifices of her ancestors had all died out. Having taken refuge in the town, all the men addressed her, saying, " From what kingdom do you come?" She said, "I belong to this country. Having wandered through strange places, we have come back, mother and son together (to our home)."

Then the village people were moved with pity, and provided them with necessary food. And now the lion king returning to his place, saw no one there. Thinking with affection of his son and daughter, he was moved with rage, and went away through the mountains and valleys, and roamed through the towns and villages, roaring frightfully and destroying the people, slaughtering and mangling every living thing. The town-folk went forth, therefore, to pursue and capture him, in order to kill him. They beat the drums, sounded the conch, and with their bows and spears formed a large company; but yet they lagged behind (delayed) in order to escape danger. Then the king, fearing that their courage was little,[8] organised a band of hunters to capture the lion. He himself went with an army consisting of the four kinds of troops, amounting to tens of thousands, and beat through the woods and jungle, and traversed the mountains and valleys (in search of their prey). The lion raising his terrible roar, men and beasts flee in consternation.

Not being captured in the hunt, the king again made a proclamation, and promised that whoever captured the lion and freed the country from the affliction should be largely rewarded and his reputation widely published.

The son, hearing the royal decree, spake to his mother and said, "We have suffered much from hunger and cold. I certainly will answer to the appeal. Perhaps we may thus get enough to support us."

The mother said, "You ought not to think of it; for though he is a beast, yet he is still your father. What though we be wretched through want? this is no reason why you should encourage a wicked and murderous thought."[9]

The son said, "Men and beasts are of a different kind. What room is there for the question of propriety in such a matter as this? Why should such a thought interfere with my plan?" So seizing a knife and concealing it in his sleeve, he went forth to answer to the appeal. On this a thousand people and ten thousand horsemen assembled in crowds (like the clouds and vapour). The lion lay hid in the forest, and no one dared to approach him. On this the son forthwith advanced to him, and the father, tame and crouching, forgot in his sense of loving affection all his previous hate. Then he (the son) plunged the knife into the middle of his bowels, but he still exhibited the same love and tenderness, and was free from all anger or revengeful feeling even when his belly was ripped up, and he died in agony.[10]

The king then said, "Who is this man who has done such a wonderful deed?" Allured by promises of reward on the one hand, and alarmed by fear of punishment on the other, if he kept back anything, he at last revealed the whole from beginning to end, and told the touching story without reserve. The king said, "Thou wretch! if thou wouldest kill thy father, how much more those not related to thee! Your deserts indeed are great for delivering my people from the savage cruelty of a beast whose (passions) it is difficult to assuage, and whose hateful tempers are easily aroused; but to kill your own father, this is a rebellious (unnatural) disposition. I will reward your good deed largely, but you shall be banished from the country as the punishment of your crime. Thus the laws will not be infringed and the king's words not violated." On this he prepared two large ships (boats) in which he stored much provision (cured rice or other grain). The mother he detained in the kingdom, and provided her with all necessary things as the reward of the service done. The son and daughter each were placed in a separate boat, and abandoned to the chance of the waves and the wind. The boat in which the son was embarked, driven over the sea, came to this Ratnadvīpa. Seeing it abounded in precious gems, he took up his abode here.

Afterwards merchants seeking for gems frequently came to the island. He then killed the merchant chief and detained his children. Thus he extended his race. His sons and grandsons becoming numerous, they proceeded to elect a king and ministers and to divide the people into classes. They then built a city and erected towns, and seized on the territory by force; and because their original founder got his name by catching a lion,[11] they called the country (after his name) Siṃhala.

The boat in which the girl was embarked was driven over the sea till it reached Persia (Po-la-sse), the abode of the western demons, who by intercourse with her engendered a clan of women-children, and therefore the country is now called the Country of the Western Women;—this is the reason.

The men of the Siṃha kingdom are small in stature and black-complexioned; they have square chins and high foreheads; they are naturally fierce and impetuous, and cruelly savage without hesitation. This is from their inherited disposition as descended from a beast; but another version of the story is that they are very brave and courageous.

The records of the Buddhist religion say: In the middle of a great iron city of this Ratnadvīpa (P'ao-chu) was the dwelling of the Rākṣasī women (Lo-t'sa). On the towers of this city they erected two high flagstaffs with lucky or unlucky signals, which they exhibited according to circumstances[12] (to allure mariners), when merchants came to the island (Ratnadvīpa). Then they changed themselves into beautiful women, holding flowers and scents, and with the sound of music[13] they went forth to meet them, and caressingly invited them to enter the iron city; then having shared with them all sorts of pleasure, they shut them up in an iron prison, and devoured them at their leisure.

At this time there was a great merchant of Jambudvīpa called Sang -kia (Siṃha) whose son was called Sang -kia-la (Siṃhala). His father having grown old, he was deputed to take charge of the house (family); he embarked, therefore, with 500 merchants to seek for precious stones; driven by the winds and waves, they came to Ratnadvīpa.

Then the Rākṣasīs, displaying the lucky signal, began to wave it, and went forth with scents and flowers and the sound of music to meet them, and invite them to enter the iron city. The prince of the merchants accordingly, matched with the queen of the Rākṣasīs, gave himself up to pleasure and indulgence. The other merchants also selected each one a companion, and so, in the course of time, a son was born to each. After this, the Rākṣasīs, feeling tired of their old partners' love, (were preparing to) shut them up in the iron prison, and to seek new companions among other merchants.

At this time, Sang -kia-la, moved in the night by an evil dream, and impressed with a sense of its bad augury, sought some mode of escape, and coming to the iron stronghold, he heard the sounds of piteous cries within. Forthwith he climbed a great tree, and questioned them, saying, "Who are you thus bound, and why these miserable cries?" They replied, "Do you not know then that the women who occupy this place are all Rākṣasīs? In former days, they allured us to enter the city with festive sounds of music, but when you arrived, they shut us up in this prison, and are gradually devouring our flesh. Now we are half eaten up; your turn too will soon come."

Then Sang -kia-la (Siṃhala) said, "By what device then may we escape this danger?" They replied, and said, "We hear that on the sea-board there is a divine horse,[14] and whoever prays with supreme faith he will safely carry him across."

Siṃhala haying heard this, secretly told the merchants his companions to assemble altogether on the sea-shore and there to offer up fervent prayers for deliverance. Then the divine horse came and addressed the men and said, "Each one of you grasp my hairy coat and look not behind; then will I deliver you and transport you across the sea out of danger's way. I will conduct you back to Jambudvīpa, to your happy homes (country)."

Then the merchants, obeying his directions, did each one implicitly as commanded. They seized the hairy coat (of the divine horse). Then he mounted aloft, traversed through the clouds, and passed the sea to the other side.

Then the Rākṣasīs, perceiving all at once their husbands had escaped, spake one to another in surprise, and asked where they had gone. Then, taking each her child, they traversed to and fro the air. Perceiving, then, that the merchants had just left the shore, they issued a general order to unite in their flight to follow them. Not an hour had passed but they encountered them, and then, with mingled joy and tears, they came, and for a time restraining their grief they said, "We thought ourselves happy when first we met you, and made it our care to provide you homes, and for long have loved and cherished you, but now you are departing and deserting your wives and children, leaving them desolate. Who can bear the terrible grief that afflicts us! We pray you stay your departure and turn again with us to the city."

But the minds of the merchants were as yet unwilling to consent. The Rākṣasīs, seeing their words had no effect, had recourse to seductive blandishments, and by their conduct excited the feelings of the merchants; in consequence of which, being unable to suppress their tender emotions, their steadfastness forsook them, and, hesitating to go on, they paused, and at length returned in company with the Rākṣasīs. The women, saluting and congratulating each other, closely holding to the men, went back.

Now the wisdom of Siṃhala was deep, and his firm purpose remained unchanged, and so he succeeded in traversing the ocean, and thus escaped the danger.

Then the queen of the Rākṣasīs returned alone to the iron city; on which the other women addressing her said, "You are without wisdom or astuteness, and so you are abandoned by your husband; since you have so little cleverness or capacity you cannot dwell here." On this the Rākṣasī queen, taking her child, hastened her flight after Siṃhala. She indulged before him in excessive blandishments and entreated him tenderly to return. But Siṃhala repeated with his mouth some spiritual charms, and with his hand brandishing a sword, he said, "You are a Rākṣasī and I am a man, men and demons belong to different classes, there can be no union between such; if you trouble me further with your entreaties I will take your life."

The Rākṣasī woman, knowing the uselessness of further parley, darted through the air and disappeared. Coming to Siṃhala's house, she addressed his father Siṃha, and said, "I am a king's daughter belonging to such and such a country. Siṃhala took me as his wife, and I have borne him a son. Having collected gems and goods, we were returning to my lord's country when the ship, driven by the winds and the sea, was lost, and only I, my child, and Siṃhala were saved. After crossing rivers and mountains with great difficulty, hungry and worn out, I said a word displeasing to my husband, and I found myself deserted, and as he left me he let fall bitter words and raged on me as if he were a Rākṣasa.[15] If I attempt to return, my native country is a very long distance off; if I stop, then I am left alone in a strange place: staying or returning I am without support. I have, therefore, dared to tell you the true state of things."

Siṃhala said, "If your words be true, you have done right." Then she entered the king's house to dwell there. Not long after Siṃhala came, and his father addressing him said, "How is it you esteemed riches and gems so much and made so little of your wife and child?" Siṃhala said, "This is a Rākṣasī." Then he related the whole previous history to his father and mother; then his relatives angry on account of the whole affair, turned on her to drive her away; on which the Rākṣasī went to the king and entreated him. The king wished to punish Siṃhala, but Siṃhala said, "The delusive influence of Rākṣasī is very great."

Moreover, the king, regarding his son's words as untrue, and being moved in his mind (feelings) by her fascination, addressed Siṃhala and said, "Since you have decided to reject this woman, I will now protect her in my after-palace." Siṃhala said, "I fear she will cause you some misfortune, for the Rākṣasas eat only flesh and blood."

But the king would not listen to Siṃhala's words, and accordingly took her as his wife. In the middle of the night following this, flying away, she returned to Ratnadvīpa, and calling together 500 Rākṣasa demon women, they all came to the king's palace, and there, by means of destructive charms and sorceries, they killed all living things within the building and devoured their flesh and drank their blood, whilst they carried off the rest of the corpses and with them returned to the "island of gems."

The next day, early, all the ministers were assembled at the king's gates, which they found fast closed, and not able to be opened. After waiting a long time, and not hearing any sounds of voices within, they burst open the doors and gates, and pressed forward together (into the house). Coming to the palace hall, they found no living thing therein but only gnawed bones. The officers looking at one another in astonishment, then bent down their heads in their confusion, and uttered lamentable cries. Being unable to fathom the cause of the calamity that had happened, Siṃhala related to them from beginning to end the whole story. The ministers and people then saw from whence the evil came.

On this, the ministers of the country, the aged men and different officers, inquired in order as to the best person to appoint to the high dignity (of the throne). All looked in the direction of Siṃhala, (so conspicuous for) religious merit and wisdom. Then speaking together, they said, "With respect to a ruler, the selection is no trivial matter; he needs to be devout and wise, and at the same time of quick natural parts. If he be not good and wise, he would not be able to give lustre to the succession; if he have no natural parts (skill or tact), how could he direct the affairs of state? Now this Siṃhala appears to be such a man: he discovered in a dream the origin of the calamity;[16] by the effect of his virtue he encountered the divine horse, and he has loyally warned the king of his danger. By his prudence he has preserved himself; the succession should be his."

The result of the deliberation being known, the people joyfully raised him to the honourable position of king. Siṃhala was desirous of declining the honour, but was not able to do so. Then keeping to the middle course, he respectfully saluted the different officers of state, and forthwith accepted the kingly estate. On this, he corrected the former abuses, and promoted to honour the good and virtuous; then he made the following decree, "My old merchant friends are in the country of the Rākṣasīs, but whether alive or dead I cannot tell. But in either case I will set out to rescue them from their danger; we must equip an army. To avert calamities and to help the unfortunate, this is the merit of a kingdom; to preserve treasures of precious stones and jewels, is the advantage of a state."

On this he arrayed his troops and embarked. Then on the top of the iron city the evil flag was agitated.[17]

Then the Rākṣasīs seeing it, were filled with fear, and putting in practice their seducing arts, went forth to lead and cajole them. But the king, thoroughly understanding their false artifices, commanded the soldiers to recite some charmed words and to exhibit their martial bearing. Then the Rākṣasīs were driven back, and fled precipitately to rocky islets of the sea; others were swallowed up and drowned in the waves. On this they destroyed the iron city and broke down the iron prison; they delivered the captive merchants, obtained large stores of jewels and precious stones, and then summoning the people to change their abodes, he (Siṃhala) founded his capital in the "island of gems," built towns, and so found himself at the head of a kingdom. Because of the king's name the country was called Siṃhala. This name is also connected with the Jātakas, relating to śākya Tathāgata.

The kingdom of Siṃhala formerly was addicted to immoral religious worship, but after the first hundred years following Buddha's death the younger brother of Aśokarāja, Mahendra by name, giving up worldly desires,sought with ardour the fruit of Arhatship. He gained possession of the six supernatural powers and the eight means of liberation; and having the power of instant locomotion, he came to this country. He spread the knowledge of the true law and widely diffused the bequeathed doctrine. From his time there has fallen on the people a believing heart, and they have constructed 100 convents, containing some 20,000 priests. They principally follow the teaching of Buddha, according to the dharma of the Sthavira (Shang-ts'o-pu) school of the Mahāyāna sect.[18] When 200 years had elapsed,[19] through discussion, the one school was divided into two. The former, called the Mahāvihāravāsinas[20] (Mo-ho-pi-ho-lo-chu-pu), was opposed to the Great Vehicle and adhered to the teaching of the Little Vehicle; the other was called Abhayagirivāsinas ('O-p'o-ye-k'i-li-chu-pu);[21] they studied both vehicles, and widely diffused the Tripiṭakas. The priests attended to the moral rules, and were distinguished for their power of abstraction and their wisdom.[22] Their correct conduct was an example for subsequent ages; their manners grave and imposing.

By the side of the king's palace is the vihāra of Buddha's tooth, several hundred feet high, brilliant with jewels and ornamented with rare gems. Above the vihāra is placed an upright pole on which, is fixed a great Padmarāja (ruby) jewel.[23] This gem constantly sheds a brilliant light, which is visible night and day for a long distance, and afar off appears like a bright star. The king three times a day washes the tooth of Buddha with perfumed water,[24] sometimes with powdered perfumes. Whether washing or burning, the whole ceremony is attended with a service of the most precious jewels.

(The country of Siṃhala,[25] formerly called the Kingdom of Lions, is also called the Sorrowless Kingdom;[26] it is the same as South India. This country is celebrated for its precious gems; it is also called Ratnadvīpa. Formerly, when śākyamuni Buddha took an apparitional body called Siṃhala, all the people, and priests, in honour of his character, made him king,[27] and therefore the country was called Siṃhala. By his mighty spiritual power he destroyed the great iron city and subdued the Rākṣasī women, and rescued the miserable and distressed, and then founded a city, and built towns, and converted this district. In order to disseminate the true doctrine, he left a tooth to be kept in this land, firm as a diamond, indestructible through ages. It ever scatters its light like the stars or the moon in the sky, or, as brilliant as the sun, it lights up the night. All those who fast and pray in its presence obtain answers, like the echo (answers the voice). If the country is visited by calamity, or famine, or other plague, by use of earnest religious prayer, some spiritual manifestation ever removes the evil. It is now called Si-lan-mount,[28] but formerly Siṃhala country.

By the side of the king's palace is the vihāra of Buddha's tooth,[29] which is decorated with every kind of gem, the splendour of which dazzles the sight like that of the sun. For successive generations worship has been respectfully offered to this relic, but the present king of the country, called A-li-fun-nai-'rh (Alibunar'?), a man of So-li (Choḷa),[30] is strongly attached to the religion of the heretics and does not honour the law of Buddha; he is cruel and tyrannical, and opposed to all that is good. The people of the country, however, still cherish the tooth of Buddha.[31] )

By the side of the vihāra of Buddha's tooth is a little vihāra which is also ornamented with every kind of precious stone. In it is a golden statue of Buddha; it was cast by a former king of the country, and is of the size of life. He afterwards ornamented the head-dress (the uṣṇiṣa) with a precious gem.

In course of time there was a robber who formed the design to carry off the precious stone, but as it was guarded by a double door and a surrounding balustrade, the thief resolved to tunnel out an entrance underneath the obstacles, and so to enter the vihāra and take the jewel. Accordingly he did so, but on attempting to seize the gem, the figure gradually raised itself higher, and outreached the grasp of the thief. He, then, finding his efforts of no avail, in departing sighed out thus, "Formerly when Tathāgata was practising the life of a Bodhisattva, he cherished in himself a great heart and vowed that for the sake of the four kinds of living things he would of his compassion give up everything, from his own life down to his country and its towns. But now the statue which stands in his place (bequeathed) grudges to give up the precious stone. His words, weighed against this, do not seem to illustrate his ancient conduct." On this the statue lowered its head and let him take the gem. The thief having got it, went to the merchants to sell it; on which they all exclaimed and said, "This is the gem which our former king placed on the head-dress of the golden statue of Buddha. Where have you got it from, that you want to sell it surreptitiously to us?" Then they took him to the king and stated the case. The king then asked him from whom he had procured the gem, on which the thief said, "Buddha himself gave it to me. I am no robber." The king not believing him, ordered a messenger to be sent immediately to ascertain the truth. On arriving he found the head of the statue still bent down. The king seeing the miracle, his heart was affected by a sincere and firm faith. He would not punish the man, but bought the gem again from him, and ornamented with it the head-dress of the statue. Because the head of the figure was thus bent on that occasion, it remains so until now.

By the side of the king's palace there is built a large kitchen, in which daily is measured out food for eight thousand priests. The meal-time having come, the priests arrive with their pātras to receive their allowance.[32] Having received and eaten it, they return, all of them, to their several abodes. Ever since the teaching of Buddha reached this country, the king has established this charity, and his successors have continued it down to our times. But during the last ten years or so the country has been in confusion, and there has been no established ruler to attend to this business.

In a bay on the coast of the country the land is rich in gems and precious stones.[33] The king himself goes (there) to perform religious services, on which the spirits present him with rare and valuable objects. The inhabitants of the capital come, seeking to share in the gain, and invoke the spirits for that purpose. What they obtain is different according to their religious merit. They pay a tax on the pearls they find, according to their quantity.

On the south-east corner of the country is Mount Laṅkā.[34] Its high crags and deep valleys are occupied by spirits that come and go; it was here that Tathāgata formerly delivered the Ling-kia-king (Laṅkā Sūtra or Laṅkāvatāra).[35]

Passing seawards to the south of this country some thousands of li, we arrive at the island of Narakira (Na-lo-ki-lo). The people of this island[36] are small of stature, about three feet high; their bodies are those of men, but they have the beaks of birds; they: grow no grain, but live only on cocoa-nuts.

Crossing the sea westward from this island several thousands of li, on the eastern cliff of a solitary island is a stone figure of Buddha more than 100 feet high. It is sitting facing the east. In the head-ornament (uṣṇīṣa) is a stone called Yueh-ngai-chu (Chandrakānta). When the moon begins to wane, water immediately runs down from this in a stream along the sides of the mountain, and along the ravines of the precipices.[37]

At one time there was a band of merchants who were driven by the winds and waves during a storm, till they reached this solitary island. The sea-water being salt, they were unable to drink it, and were parched with thirst for a long time. But now on the fifteenth day, when the moon was full, from the head of the image water began to trickle forth, and they obtained deliverance. They all thought that a miracle had been wrought, and were affected with a profound faith; they determined then to delay on the island. Some days having elapsed, as soon as the moon began to be hidden behind the high steeps, the water did not flow out. Then the merchant-chief said, "It cannot have been specially on our account that the water ran down. I have heard that there is a pearl 'loved by the moon,' when the moon's rays shine full on it, then the water begins to flow from it. The gem on the top of the statue of Buddha must be one of this sort." Then having climbed the mountain to examine the case, they saw that it was a Chandrakānta pearl in the head-ornament of the figure. This is the origin of the story as it was told by those men.

Crossing the sea many thousand li to the west of this country, we come to a large island renowned for its precious stones (or Mahāratnadvīpa); it is not inhabited, except by spirits. Seen from a distance on a calm night, a light seems to shine from mountains and valleys. Merchants going there are much surprised to find nothing can be procured.

Leaving the country of Ta-lo-pi-ch'a (Drāvida) and travelling northwards,[38] we enter a forest wild, in which are a succession of deserted towns, or rather little villages.[39] Brigands, in concert together, wound and capture (or delay) travellers. After going 2000 li or so we come to Kong-kien-na-pu-lo (Koṅkanāpura).[40]

Footnotes and references:


For the various names by which this island has been known, we may refer to Vincent (Navigation of the Ancients, etc.) Colonel Yule doubts whether we owe the name Ceylon or Seilan to Siṃhala (Marco Polo, ii. p. 254, note 1). Childers traces the derivation of the word Elu to this name Sīhala (Notes on the Sinhalese Language). See Ind. Ant., vol. xiii. pp. 33 ff.


For the exaggerated reports concerning the size of this island, we may refer to Tennent's Ceylon, cap. i., and Yule, Marco Polo (vol. ii. p. 254, n. 1). The circuit of the island is really under 700 miles. We must therefore allow 10 li to the mile if Hiuen Tsiang's statement is to be received. Fa-hian is much more nearly correct in his figures, but in his account we must substitute length for breadth (cap. 37).


This must refer to the Tamil population. The Siṅhalese are tall and comparatively fair.


That is, the "isle or islet of gems." So it was called by the Arabs of the ninth century (Yule, op. cit., p. 255). The Javanese word for precious stone is sela, and from this, some think, comes the word Sailān or Ceylon (ibid.) In any case the name itself, "gem-island," was an old one; the regular formation would give us Ratnadvīpa.


The construction of the text and context is a little unusual. It seems to imply that because the island abundantly possessed gems and precious stones, it was a resting-place for demons and spirits, or demons. Of course it refers to the Rakshasīs or Yakkhinīs. Comp. Weber, Rāmāyaṇa, p. 25 (Boyd's translation).


For notices of this legend see Prof. Vasconcellos Abreu, Fragmentos d'uma tentativa de Estudo scoliastico da Epopeia Portugueza (Lisboa, 1880), pp. 40-75; or Ind. Ant., vol. xiii. pp. 33 ff.; Dīpavaṃśa, ch. ix.; Lassen, Ind. Alt., vol. i. p. 241 n. ; Burnouf, Introd., pp. 198 f. It owes its origin probably to the rape of a woman during a seaboard raid. Some of the northern tribes (invaders of India) affected the name of lion (siṃha or li). Compare Fo-sho, v. 1788. There are three events (obscure in themselves, yet perhaps connected) which happened in India about the time of Buddha: (1.) The invasion of north-west of India by the Vṛjjis; (2.) the incursion of Yavanas into Orissa; (3.) the invasion and conquest of Ceylon by Vijaya. These events may have had a mutual relationship; the pressure of the Vṛjjis from the north-west would drive the intermediate tribes on Orissa, and from Orissa some of the adventurers would start for fresh conquests by sea. Precisely similar events occurred in the west a few centuries afterwards. Compare Fergusson, Cave Temples of India, p. 58; Beal, Abstract of Four Lectures, Introduction, ix., x., xi., and also the sculptures in the Gaṇeśa Gumpha and Rani ka Nur caves, Fergusson, op. cit., pl. 1.


Reached the age of twenty years.—Julien.


The virtue (viz., of manliness) which influenced them did not prevail (far).


Wicked, i.e., unnatural, against nature.


The cave pictures from Ajaṇṭā given in Mrs. Speir's Life in Ancient India, pp. 300 ff. seem to refer to the history of Vijaya and the "lion" legend; see also Burgess, Cave Temples, etc., pp. 312 f.


Chih-sse-tseu, lion-catching; this seems also to be the meaning of siṃhala, where "la" means to catch or take. The Dipavaṃśa brings Vijaya, the son of Siṃha, from Siṃhapura in Lāla (Gujarāt).


"If circumstances were propitious, they agitated the lucky flag or drapery; if they were unfortunate or unlucky, they moved the unpropitious signal." It would seem to mean that if a ship drew near the shore as if to anchor, then the favourable flag or signal was shown; but if she kept away on her voyage, then the unfavourable signal was displayed. Or it may mean that the signal was to allure mariners.


The curious parallel between the ways of these Rākshasīs and the Sirens has attracted frequent notice. Compare Pausanias, book x. cap. vi. Seirênôn nêsos anapleôs ostôn["(Homer in his poem says) that the island of the Sirens was full of bones" (M.B.)], viz., of those who had listened to their songs. Homer, Odys., xii. 178, etc., with the account in the text and in the Romantic Legend of Buddha, p. 339. See also Ind. Antiq., vol. x. p. 291, and the Academy, Aug. 13, 1881, pp. 120, 121.


The horse is called Kesi in the Abhinishkramana Sūtra (Romantic Legend, loc. cit.) The reference appears to be to the change of monsoon, which would favour the departure of merchants (see note in the Romantic Legend). Avalokiteśvara is often spoken of as a white horse, i.e., as one who came across the sea.


Or, it may be, "as if I were a Rākshasī," and so Julien translates it. In this case we should supply the symbol "niu" (woman); but I observe that in the previous sentence where Siṃhala draws his sword he calls her a Rākshasa, not a Rākshasī, so that either translation is correct.


Viz., of the Rākshasīs.


It would seem that "the evil flag" was a signal to warn the Rākshasīs of danger.


The Mahāyāna, or Great Vehicle, is generally supposed to have been unknown in the Southern school; but it is an elastic term, and in the present instance would refer probably to the developed doctrine (in what direction we hardly know) of the old school of the Sthaviras or elders.


That is, as it seems, two hundred years after the introduction of Buddhism into Ceylon. If so, the period referred to would be about the time of the reduction of the three piṭakas to writing in Ceylon, viz., B.C. 75. Does the phrase just following this, "they widely diffused the Tripiṭakas," refer to this event?


This school evidently followed the teaching of the Mahāvihāra priest. The Mahāvihāra was about 7 li to the south of the capital Anurādhapura. It was built by Devanampiyatissa, about 250 B.C. (Fa-hian, C. 39.) Compare Dīpavaṃsa (Oldenberg), xix. 10. Oldenberg makes some remarks respecting the Aṭṭhakathā preserved in this monastery, op. cit. Introd., pp. 6, 7. See for some notice of the vihāra, Beal, Fa-hian, p. 159, n. 1.


For some account of the Abhayagiri vihāra see Dīpavaṃsa, xix. 14, 17; Beal's Fa-hian, p. 151, n. 1. It seems to have been the vihāra in which the tooth-relic was exhibited, Fa-hian, 157.


"Meditative powers" and "wisdom." This would indicate a developed form of belief. It corresponds to the "chi kwan" school of Tien-tai in China. The same steps which led to the formation of the school there may have marked the development in Ceylon. It represents a compromise between quietism and practice of rules.


For some notice of rubies of Ceylon, see Marco Polo, book iii. cap. xiv.


Or, every day thrice washes, etc.


This and the following paragraphs are interpolated in the text; they belong to the time of the Ming dynasty (third year of Yung-lo, A.D. 1405). I have translated a portion of the passage. The remainder of the section, records a mission sent to the same king of Ceylon, Alibunar, by the Emperor of China (Ch'heng Tsu), under the direction of the eunuch Ch'hing Ho; his object was to offer incense and flowers. Having arrived, he exhorted the king to respect the teaching of Buddha and to expel the heretics. The king being enraged, desired to slay him, but Ch'hing Ho being aware of the plot, escaped. Again the same ambassador was sent to receive the homage of foreign states, and came to Ceylon (Si-lan-shan-kwo, the country of the Seilan mountain). The king rebelliously refused to pay any respect to the embassage, and collected 50,000 soldiers to block the way and to destroy the ships. Ch'hing Ho having learned the purpose of the king, sent secretly by a circuitous way to the ships, and got 3000 soldiers by night to march on the royal city. Being surrounded by the enemy's troops, they defended the city for six days, and then having treated the king with contumely, they opened the gates in the morning, and fought their way for twenty li; when the daylight began to fail, they offered up prayers to the sacred tooth, and suddenly an unusual light shone before them and lighted them on their way. Having reached their ships, they rested in peace, and arrived at the capital in the ninth year of Yung-loh (A.D. 1412), the seventh month, and ninth day.


Or the Aśoka kingdom. Compare the Aśoka garden of Rāvaṇa, in the Rāmāyaṇa.


To do him honour.


Si-lan-shan. Shan corresponds to giri, the name therefore would be Silangiri, reminding us of the Sirenum scopuli of Virgil, æn. v. 864. It is evident that this name was given to Ceylon before the Portuguese arrived in India.


This has been already stated in the previous section. For an account of Buddha's tooth and the vihāra, see Beal's Fahian, p. 153, n. 1.; Eastern Monachism, by Spence Hardy, pp. 224, 226.


For Soli see Marco Polo (Yule), vol. ii. p. 272. The Choḷas had just before this conquered the Pallavas.


[The rest of this passage was related in note 25. (M.B.)]


Fa-hian also alludes to this charitable mode of feeding the priest, p. 155, op. cit.


Marco Polo (cap. xvi.) alludes to the pearl-fisheries off the west coast of Ceylon. He mentions Bettelar as the place of rendezvous. Colonel Yule thinks that this is Putlam, the Pattāla of Ibu Batuta. With reference to the account given by Marco Polo of the fishery, it is curious how, in all its particulars (except that of the charmers) it agrees with the arrangements of the pearl-fishery at La Paz, on the coast of Lower California. I have visited that fishery, and inquired into its management. The merchants fit out the boats and pay the gangs of divers (armadores); the shells are brought up in the same way as described by Marco Polo. The heap each day is divided into three parts-one for the State (estado), one for the Church (The Virgin), one for the chief merchant (armador), or sometimes, when the divers do not receive pay, they have a proportion of the last heap for themselves. The sharks which abound at La Paz can be seen swimming in the neighbourhood (so clear is the water under a cloudless and rainless sky), but the divers fear only one kind, which they call the Tintero (the tiger shark). They dive just as Marco Polo describes, and I may add that I never found one of them (experts though they were) remain down more than 58 seconds.


Laṅkā is sometimes spoken of as a city, sometimes as a mountain, and at other times applied to the whole island. Moreover, it is sometimes distinguished from Ceylon, it and described as on the same meridian as Ujjayinī. The mountain is spoken of as three-peaked (trikūṭa) in the Rāmāyana. It was the abode of Rāvana.


The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra or the Saddharma Lankāvatāra Sūtra belongs to the later development and is of a mystical character. It refers everything to "the heart," which is simply the all-pervading ātman. There are three translations of the sūtra in China; see B. Nanjio, Catalogue, 175, 176, 177. The title of 176, the "entering-Laṅkā-sūtra," would almost justify us in considering this sūtra as belonging to Vaishṇavism. Bodhidharma, who arrived in China, A.D. 526, from South India, attached his faith to the teaching of this sūtra; it was therefore composed before his time. The earliest translation in China (No. 175) , dates from A.D. 443, but this is incomplete; the next (No. 176) dates from A.D. 513; the third from A.D. 700. The following quotation from Csoma Korösi is found in Spence Hardy's Manual of Buddhism, p. 356. "The second treatise or sūtra in the fifth volume of the Mdo is entitled in Sanskrit ārya Laṅkāvatāra mahāyāna Sūtra, a venerable sūtra of high principles (or speculation) on the visiting of Lankā. This was delivered at the request of the lord of Lankā by Shakya, when he was in the city of Lanākā on the top of the Malaya mountain, on the seashore, together with many priests and Bodhisattvas." It is stated by Hodgson that the Laṅkāvatāra is regarded in Nepal as the fourth dharma; "it consists of 3000 slocas, and states that Rāvaṇa, lord of Lankā, having gone to the Malayagiri mountain, there heard the history of the Buddhas from śakya Sinha, and obtained Boddhynana" (ibid.) Laṅkāgiri, then, is probably the same as Mount Potaraka spoken of at the end of the tenth book.


Perhaps the Maldive Islands; but see Yule, Marco Polo, ii. 249. Nārikera means cocoa-nut.


Julien translates, "when the moon is about to reflect its light from this jewel (d'y reflichir sa lumière);" but the literal rendering is, "when the moon is about to turn back its light," that is, "to wane."


Both General Cunningham and Mr. Fergusson give the direction north-west. This is a mistake (Anc. Geog., p. 552; J. R. A. S., vi. 266); but Hwui-lih has north-west. He moreover says that the pilgrim return to the north-west. If we adopt the reading north, then the route would be a return one. The origin, as it seems, of the error in direction must be traced to M. V. de St. Martin (Mémoire, p. 400), who seems to adopt Hwui-lih's text as his guide.


The passage may also be translated "passing through (or by) a deserted town and many little villages."


Hwui-lih gives Kin-na-pu-lo, although in Julien we find Kong-kin-na-pu-lo. It may be an error in the text. In the passage before us the country is Kong-kin-na-pu-lo, which is restored by Julien to Koṅkaṇāpura. It is stated that this country is in Southern India. There is no agreement as to the site of the capital M. V. de St. Martin takes the pilgrim north-west to Vānavāsi (Mémoire, p. 401). General Cunningham thinks that Anagundi on the northern bank of the Tūṅgabhadrā river is the place indicated {Anc. Geog., p. 552), whilst Mr. Fergusson would take the pilgrim from Nāgapaṭṭaṇ to the centre of the Maisūr plateau somewhere east of Bednore (J. R. A. S., N. S., vol. vi. p. 267). Assuming, however, that his route was north, and that he was returning towards the neighbourhood of Chānda, we should have to look for the capital of Kong-kin-na near Golkonda.

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