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 XXXIV

Fa-Hian returning towards Pataliputra, kept along the course of the Ganges, and after going ten yojanas in a westerly direction, arrived at a vihara called “Desert” (Kwang-ye), in which Buddha resided. Priests still dwell in it. Still keeping along the course of the Ganges and going west twelve yojanas, we arrive at the country of Kasi and the city of Banaras. About ten li or so to the north-east of this city is the chapel of the deer park of the Rishis. This garden was once occupied by a Pratyeka Buddha. There are always wild deer reposing in it for shelter. When the Lord of the World was about to arrive at supreme wisdom, all the devas in space began to chant a hymn and say, “The son of Suddhodana-raja, who has left his home to acquire supreme wisdom, after seven days will arrive at the condition of Buddha.” The Pratyeka Buddha hearing this, immediately entered Nirvana. Therefore the name of this place is the deer park of the Rishi.

The world-honoured Buddha having arrived at complete knowledge, men in after ages erected a vihara on this spot. Buddha being desirous to convert Ajnata Kaundinya and his companions, known as the five men, they communed one with another and said, “This Sramana Gautama having for six years practised mortifications, reducing himself to the daily use of but one grain of hemp and one of rice, and in spite of this having failed to obtain supreme wisdom, how much less shall he now obtain that condition by entering into men’s society and removing the checks he placed upon his words and thoughts and actions! To-day when he comes here, let us carefully avoid all conversation with him.” On Buddha’s arrival the five men rose and saluted him, and here they have erected a tower; also on the following spots, viz., on a site sixty paces to the north of the former place, where Buddha, seated with his face to the east, began to turn the wheel of the law (to preach) for the purpose of converting Kaundinya and his companions (known as) “the five men;” also on a spot twenty paces to the north of this, where Buddha delivered his prediction concerning Maitreya; also on a spot fifty paces to the south of this, where the dragon Elapatra asked Buddha at what time he should be delivered from his dragon-form; in all these places towers have been erected which still exist. In the midst (of the park) there are two which still have priests dwelling in them.

Proceeding northwest thirteen yojanas from the park of the deer, there is a country called Kausambi. There is a there called Ghoshira-vana (the garden of Ghoshira), in which Buddha formerly dwelt; it is now in ruins. There are congregations here, principally belonging to the system known as the Little Vehicle. Eight yojanas east of this place is a place where Buddha once took up his residence and converted an evil demon. They have also erected towers on various spots where he sat Dr walked for exercise when he was resident in this neighbourhood. There are sanghardmas still existing here, and perhaps a hundred priests.

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