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 3 - Country of Mo-ho-la-ch’a (Maharashtra)

This country is about 5000 li in circuit. The capital[1] borders on the west on a great river. It is about 30 li round. The soil is rich and fertile; it is regularly cultivated and very productive. The climate is hot; the disposition of the people is honest and simple; they are tall of stature, and of a stern, vindictive character. To their benefactors they are grateful; to their enemies relentless. If they are insulted, they will risk their life to avenge themselves. If they are asked to help one in distress, they will forget themselves in their haste to render assistance. If they are going to seek revenge, they first give their enemy warning; then, each being armed, they attack each other with lances (spears). When one turns to flee, the other pursues him, but they do not kill a man down (a person who submits). If a general loses a battle, they do not inflict punishment, but present him with woman's clothes, and so he is driven to seek death for himself. The country provides for a band of champions to the number of several hundred. Each time they are about to engage in conflict they intoxicate themselves with wine, and then one man with lance in hand will meet ten thousand and challenge them in fight. If one of these champions meets a man and kills him, the laws of the country do not punish him. Every time they go forth they beat drums before them. Moreover, they inebriate many hundred heads of elephants, and, taking them out to fight, they themselves first drink their wine, and then rushing forward in mass, they trample everything down, so that no enemy can stand before them.

The king, in consequence of his possessing these men and elephants, treats his neighbours with contempt. He is of the Kṣattriya caste, and his name is Pulakeśi (Pu-lo-ki-she). His plans and undertakings are wide-spread, and his beneficent actions are felt over a great distance. His subjects obey him with perfect submission. At the present time śīlāditya[2] Mahārāja has conquered the nations from east to west, and carried his arms to remote districts, but the people of this country alone have not submitted to him. He has gathered troops from the five Indies, and summoned the best leaders from all countries, and himself gone at the head of his army to punish and subdue these people, but he has not yet conquered their troops.

So much for their habits. The men are fond of learning, and study both heretical and orthodox (books). There are about 100 saṅghārāmas, with 5000 or so priests. They practise both the Great and Small Vehicle. There are about 100 Deva temples, in which very many heretics of different persuasions dwell.

Within and without the capital are five stūpas to mark the spots where the four past Buddhas walked and sat. They were built by Aśoka-rāja. There are, besides these, other stūpas made of brick or stone, so many that it would be difficult to name them all.

Not far to the south of the city is a saṅghārāma in which is a stone image of Kwan-tsz'-tsai Bodhisattva. Its spiritual powers extend (far and wide), so that many of those who have secretly prayed to it have obtained their wishes.

On the eastern frontier of the country is a great mountain with towering crags and a continuous stretch of piled-up rocks and scarped precipice. In this there is a saṅghārāma constructed, in a dark valley. Its lofty halls and deep side-aisles stretch through the (or open into the) face of the rocks. Storey above storey they are backed by the crag and face the valley (watercourse).[3]

This convent was built by the Arhat āchāra (O-che-lo).[4] This Arhat was a man of Western India. His mother having died, he looked to see in what condition she was reborn. He saw that she had received a woman's body in this kingdom. The Arhat accordingly came here with a view to convert her, according to her capabilities of receiving the truth. Having entered a village to beg food, he came to the house where his mother had been born. A young girl came forth with food to give him. At this moment the milk came from her breasts and trickled down. Her friends having seen this considered it an unlucky sign, but the Arhat recounted the history of her birth. The girl thus attained the holy fruit (of Arhatship). The Arhat, moved with gratitude[5] for her who had borne and cherished him, and remembering the end of such (good) works, from a desire to requite her, built this saṅghārāma. The great vihāra of the convent is about 100 feet or so in height; in the middle is a stone figure of Buddha about 70 feet or so high. Above it is a stone canopy of seven stages, towering upwards apparently without support. The space between each canopy[6] is about three feet. According to the old report, this is held in its place by the force of the vow of the Arhat. They also say it is by the force of his miraculous powers; others say by the virtue of some magical compound; but no trustworthy account has yet explained the reason of the wonder. On the four sides of the vihāra, on the stone walls, are painted[7] different scenes in the life of Tathāgata's preparatory life as a Bodhisattva: the wondrous signs of good fortune which attended his acquirement of the holy fruit (of a Buddha), and the spiritual manifestations accompanying his Nirvāṇa. These scenes have been cut out with the greatest accuracy and fineness.[8] On the outside of the gate of the saṅghārāma, on the north and south side, at the right hand and the left, there is a stone elephant.[9] The common report says that sometimes these elephants utter a great cry and the earth shakes throughout. In old days Jina (or Channa) Bodhisattva[10] often stopped in this saṅghārāma.

Going from this 1000 li or so to the west,[11] and crossing the Nai-mo-t'o (Narmadā) river, we arrive at the kingdom of Po-lu-kie-che-p'o (Bharukachheva; Barygaza or Bharoch).[12]

Footnotes and references:


There have been various surmises as to the name of this capital. M. V. de St. Martin names Devagiri or Daulatābād, but this is not on a river. General Cunningham thinks Kalyāṇ or Kalyāṇī is the place intended, to the west of which flows the Kailāsā river; but this is due south of Bharoch (the next station) instead of east. Mr. Fergusson names Toka, Phulthamba, or Paitan. However, the distance and direction from the capital of Koṅkaṇāpura is about 400 miles N.W. This seems to bring us near the river Tapti, or perhaps the Ghirnā river.


That is, śīlāditya of Kanauj (vol. i. p. 210 ss.)


This must refer to the famous Bauddha rock-temples at Ajaṇṭā, in the Indhyādri range of hills, cut in the lofty and almost perpendicular rocks that hem in a wild secluded glen. See Fergusson and Burgess, Cave Temples, pp. 280-347; Arch. Sur. West. Ind. Reports, vol. iv. pp. 43-59.


In the inscription on the Chaitya cave, No. xxvi., at Ajaṇṭā, we read that "The ascetic Sthavira Achala, who glorified the faith and was grateful, caused to be built a mountain dwelling (śailagṛha) for the Teacher, though his desires were fulfilled" (Arch. Sur. West. Ind. Reports, vol. iv. p. 135). This apparently decides the name of the Arhat mentioned here. But as the Chinese translation of the name is "So hing" (he who does, or, the doer), we retain the equivalent āchāra.


Compare the words of the inscription given in the preceding note, "who glorified the faith and was grateful."


See the drawings of Cave xix. and of the dāgaba in it, Buddhist Cave Temples (Arch. Sur. W. Ind. Rep., vol. iv., pl. xxx., xxxi.; Cave Temples, pl. xxxvi., xxxvii.) The measurements given "by report" are vastly exaggerated, as such matters very often are in India. But possibly there may have been a structural building against the face of the rock, with a dāgaba of larger dimensions, though by no means of the size indicated in the text. It is more probable, however, that the report is only an exaggerated account of the rock-cut chaityas. Hiuen Tsiang does not appear to have visited them personally.


In mosaic, "carved and inlaid" (teou low).


This must refer to the famous Ajaṇṭā frescoes.


This seems to refer to two elephants in alto rilievo that were sculptured on the rock in front of Cave xv., but which are now scarcely recognisable. See Fergusson and Burgess, Cave Temples, p. 306.


Jour. R. As. Soc., vol. xx. p. 208.


Hwui-lih gives north-west. M. Julien has translated it north-east, by mistake (Vie, etc., p. 203).


Bharoch appears in a Pāli inscription at Junnar (Arch. Sur. West. Ind. Rep., vol. iv. p. 96) under the form Bhārukachha; in Sanskrit it is Bharukaccha (Bṛh. Saṃh., v. 40, xiv. II, xvi. 6; Vassilief, p. 45) and Bhṛgukachchha (Bhāg. Pur., viii. 18, 21; As. Res., vol. ix. p. 104; inscrip. in J. Amer. Or. Soc., vol. vii. p. 33) or Bhṛgukshetra—from the locality being the traditional residence of the sage Bhṛguṛshi. The Bhārgava Brāhmaṇs of Bharoch are the representatives of an early colony of the school of Bhṛgu. Bhārukachha is represented by the Greek Barugaza emporion of Ptolemy (lib, vii. c. I, 62) and of the author of the Periplus Mar. Eryth. (s. 42, etc.); Strabo (lib. xv. c. I, 73) has Bargosê. See Lassen, I. A., vol, i. pp. 113, 136. It was from Bharoch the śramaṇa came who burnt himself at Athens.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: