The travels of Fa-Hian (400 A.D.)

by Samuel Beal | 1884 | 20,385 words | ISBN-10: 8120811070

This is the English translation of the travel records of Fa-Hian (or, Faxian): a Chinese Buddhist monk who traveled by foot from China to India between A.D. 399 and A.D. 412. The full title is: The travels of Fa-Hian: Buddhist-country-records; By Fa-hian, the Sakya of the Sung (Dynasty) [Date, 400 A.D]. This work is an extract of the book “Buddhi...

Chapter XXV

From this going five yojanas eastward, we arrive at the country of Vaisali. To the north of the city of Vaisali there is the vihara of the great forest, which has a two-storied tower. This chapel was once occupied by Buddha. Here also is the tower which was built over half the body of Ananda. Within this city dwelt the lady Amrapali, (who built) a tower for Buddha; the ruins still exist. Three li to the south of the city, on the west side of the road, is the garden which the lady Amrapali gave to Buddha as a resting-place.

When Buddha was about to enter Nirvana, accompanied by his disciples, he left Vaisali by the western gate, and turning his body to the right, he beheld the city and thus addressed his followers: “In this place I have performed the last religious act of my earthly career.” Men afterwards raised a tower on this spot. Three li to the north-west of the city is a tower called “the tower of the deposited bows and clubs.” The origin of this name was as follows:—On one of the upper streams of the Ganges there was a certain country ruled by a king. One of his concubines gave birth to an unformed foetus, whereupon the queen being jealous, said, “Your conception is one of bad omen.” So they closed it np in a box of wood and cast it into the Ganges. Lower down the stream there was another king, who, taking a tour of observation, caught sight of the wooden box floating on the stream. On bringing it to shore and opening it, he found inside a thousand children very fair, well formed, and most unique. The king hereupon took them and brought them up. When they grew up they turned out to be very brave and warlike, and were victorious over all whom they went to attack. In process of time they marched against the kingdom of the monarch, their father, at which he was filled with consternation. On this his concubine asked the king why he was so terrified; to whom he replied, “The king of that country has a thousand sons, brave and warlike beyond compare, and they are coming to attack my country; this is why I am alarmed.” To this the concubine replied, “Fear not! but erect on the east of the city a high tower, and when the rebels come, place me on it; I will restrain them.” The king did so, and when the invaders arrived, the concubine addressed them from the tower, saying, “You are my children. Then why are you rebellious?” They replied, “Who are you that say you are our mother?” The concubine replied, “If ye will not believe me, all of you look up and open your mouths.” On this the concubine, with both her hands, pressed her breasts, and from each breast proceeded five hundred jets of milk, which fell into the mouths of her thousand sons. On this the rebels, perceiving that she was indeed their mother, immediately laid down their hows and clubs. The two royal fathers, by a consideration of these circumstances, were able to arrive at the condition of Pratyeka Buddhas, and the tower erected in their honour remains to this day. In after times, when the Lord of the World arrived at supreme reason, he addressed his disciples in these words, “This is the place where I formerly laid aside my how and my club.” Men in after times, coming to know this, founded a tower in this place, and hence the name. The thousand children are in truth the thousand Buddhas of this Bhadrakalpa. Buddha, when standing beside this tower, addressed Ananda thus, “After three months I must enter Nirvana,” on which occasion Mararaja so fascinated the mind of Ananda that he did not request Buddha to remain in the world. Going east from this point three or four li there is a tower. One hundred years after the Nirvana, of Buddha there were at Vaisali certain Bhikshus who broke the rules of the Vinaya in ten particulars, saying that Buddha had said it was so, at which time the Arhats and the orthodox Bhikshus, making an assembly of 700 ecclesiastics, compared and collated the Vinaya, Pitaka afresh. Afterwards men erected a tower on this spot, which still exists.

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