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 15 - Country of Sin-tu (Sindh)

This country is about 7000 li in circuit; the capital city, called P'i-shan-p'o-pu-lo,[1] is about 30 li round. The soil is favourable for the growth of cereals and produces abundance of wheat and millet; It also abounds in gold and silver and native copper. It is suitable for the breeding of oxen, sheep, camels, mules, and other kinds of beasts. The camels are small in size and have only one hump. They find here a great quantity of salt, which is red like cinnabar; also white salt, black salt and rock salt. In different places, both far and near, this salt is used for medicine. The disposition of the men is hard and impulsive; but they are honest and upright. They quarrel and are much given to contradiction. They study without aiming to excel; they have faith in the law of Buddha. There are several hundred saṅghārāmas, occupied by about 10,000 priests. They study the Little Vehicle according to the Sammatīya school. As a rule, they are indolent and given to indulgence and debauchery. Those who are very earnest as followers of the virtue of the sages live alone in desert places, dwelling far off in the mountains and the forests. There night and day they exert themselves in aiming after the acquirement of the holy fruit (of Arhatship). There are about thirty Deva temples, in which sectaries of various kinds congregate.

The king is of the śūdra (Shu-t'o-lo) caste. He is by nature honest and sincere, and he reverences the law of Buddha.

When Tathāgata was in the world, he frequently passed through this country, therefore Aśoka-rāja has founded several tens of stūpas in places where the sacred traces of his presence were found. Upagupta,[2] the great Arhat, sojourned very frequently in this kingdom, explaining the law and convincing and guiding men. The places where he stopped and the traces he left are all commemorated by the building of saṅghārāmas or the erection of stūpas. These buildings are seen everywhere; we can only speak of them briefly.

By the side of the river Sindh, along the flat marshy lowlands for some thousand li, there are several hundreds of thousands (a very great many) of families settled. They are of an unfeeling and hasty temper, and are given to bloodshed only. They give themselves exclusively to tending cattle, and from this derive their livelihood. They have no masters, and, whether men or women, have neither rich nor poor; they shave their heads and wear the Kaṣāya robes of Bhikṣus, whom they resemble outwardly, whilst they engage themselves in the ordinary affairs of lay life. They hold to their narrow (little) views and attack the Great Vehicle.

The old reports state that formerly these people were extremely hasty (impatient), and only practised violence and cruelty. At this time there was an Arhat, who, pitying their perversity, and desiring to convert them, mounted in the air and came amongst them. He exhibited his miraculous powers and displayed his wonderful capabilities. Thus he led the people to believe and accept the doctrine, and gradually he taught them in words; all of them joyfully accepted his teaching and respectfully prayed him to direct them in their religious life. The Arhat perceiving that the hearts of the people had become submissive, delivered to them the three "Refuges" and restrained their cruel tendencies; they entirely gave up "taking life," they shaved their heads, and assumed the soiled robes of a Bhikṣu, and obediently walked according to the doctrine of religion. Since then, generations have passed by and the changed times have weakened their virtue, but as for the rest, they retain their old customs. But though they wear the robes of religion, they live without any moral rules, and their sons and grandsons continue to live as worldly people, without any regard to their religious profession.

Going from this eastward 900 li or so, crossing the Sindh river and proceeding along the eastern bank, we come to the kingdom of Mu-lo-san-pu-lu.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Vichavapura—Julien. Reinaud suggests Vasmapura or Balmapura and Minagara. See Ind. Ant., vol. viii. p. 336 f.

[2]:

Bk. viii.; Burnouf, Introd., pp. 118, 197, 378 f.

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