A Record of Buddhistic kingdoms: being an account by the Chinese monk Fa-hsien of travels in India and Ceylon (A.D. 399-414) in search of the Buddhist books of discipline eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 148 pages of information about A Record of Buddhistic kingdoms.

James Legge.

Oxford:  June, 1886.

[ Picture:  Sketch Map Of Fa-Hien’s Travels ]

The accompanying Sketch-Map, taken in connexion with the notes on the different places in the Narrative, will give the reader a sufficiently accurate knowledge of Fa-hien’s route.

There is no difficulty in laying it down after he crossed the Indus from east to west into the Punjab, all the principal places, at which he touched or rested, having been determined by Cunningham and other Indian geographers and archaeologists.  Most of the places from Ch’ang-an to Bannu have also been identified.  Woo-e has been put down as near Kutcha, or Kuldja, in 43d 25s N., 81d 15s E. The country of K’ieh-ch’a was probably Ladak, but I am inclined to think that the place where the traveller crossed the Indus and entered it must have been further east than Skardo.  A doubt is intimated on page 24 as to the identification of T’o-leih with Darada, but Greenough’s “Physical and Geological Sketch-Map of British India” shows “Dardu Proper,” all lying on the east of the Indus, exactly in the position where the Narrative would lead us to place it.  The point at which Fa-hien recrossed the Indus into Udyana on the west of it is unknown.  Takshasila, which he visited, was no doubt on the west of the river, and has been incorrectly accepted as the Taxila of Arrian in the Punjab.  It should be written Takshasira, of which the Chinese phonetisation will allow;—­see a note of Beal in his “Buddhist Records of the Western World,” i. 138.

We must suppose that Fa-hien went on from Nan-king to Ch’ang-an, but the Narrative does not record the fact of his doing so.

INTRODUCTION

Life of Fa-Hien; Genuineness and Integrity of the Text of his Narrative; Number of the Adherents of Buddhism.

1.  Nothing of great importance is known about Fa-hien in addition to what may be gathered from his own record of his travels.  I have read the accounts of him in the “Memoirs of Eminent Monks,” compiled in A.D. 519, and a later work, the “Memoirs of Marvellous Monks,” by the third emperor of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1403-1424), which, however, is nearly all borrowed from the other; and all in them that has an appearance of verisimilitude can be brought within brief compass.

His surname, they tell us, was Kung, and he was a native of Wu-yang in P’ing-Yang, which is still the name of a large department in Shan-hsi.  He had three brothers older than himself; but when they all died before shedding their first teeth, his father devoted him to the service of the Buddhist society, and had him entered as a Sramanera, still keeping him at home in the family.  The little fellow fell dangerously ill, and the father sent him to the monastery, where he soon got well and refused to return to his parents.

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A Record of Buddhistic kingdoms: being an account by the Chinese monk Fa-hsien of travels in India and Ceylon (A.D. 399-414) in search of the Buddhist books of discipline from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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