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 XXX

Some 300 paces north of the old town, on the west side of the road, is the Kalandavenuvana vihara. It still exists, and a congregation of priests sweep and water it. Two or three li to the north of the chapel is the Shi-mo-she-na (Samasana), which signifies “the field of tombs for laying the dead.” Striking the southern hill and proceeding westward 300 paces, there is a stone cell called the Pippala cave, where Buddha was accustomed to sit in meditation after his midday meal. Still west five or six li there is a stone cave situated in the northern shade of the mountain and called Che-ti. This is the place where 500 Arhats assembled after the Nirvana of Buddha to arrange the collection of sacred books. At the time when the hooks were recited three vacant seats were specially prepared and adorned. The one on the left was for Sariputra, the one on the right for Mudgalyayana. The assembly was yet short of 500 by one Arhat; and already the great Kasyapa was ascending the throne when Ananda stood without the gate unable to find admission; on this spot they have raised a tower which still exists.

Still skirting the mountain, we find very many other stone cells used by the Arhats for the purpose of meditation. Leaving the old city and going north-east three li, we arrive at the stone cell of Devadatta, fifty paces from which there is a great square black stone. Some time ago there was a Bhikshu who walked forward and backward on this stone meditating on the impermanency, the sorrow, and vanity of his body (life). Thus realising the character of impurity, loathing himself, he drew his knife and would have killed himself. But then he reflected that the Lord of the World had forbidden self-murder. But then again he thought, “Although that is so, yet I am simply anxious to destroy the three, poisonous thieves (evil desire, hatred, ignorance).” Then again he drew his knife and cut his throat. On the first gash he obtained the degree of Srotapanna; when he had half done the work he arrived at the condition of Anagamin, and after completing the deed he obtained the position of an Arhat and entered Nirvana.

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