Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms

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佛 國 記


RECORD

OF THE

BUDDHISTIC KINGDOMS:


Translated from the Chinese

BY

HERBERT A. GILES,

Of H. M.'s Consular Service.





LONDON: TRUBNER & CO.

SHANGHAI: KELLY & WALSH.

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PREFACE.


The "Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms" is a meagre narrative of one of the most extraordinary journey's ever undertaken and brought to a successful issue. A Buddhist priest, named Fa Hsien, travels from China through India to Ceylon, on to Sumatra and back to China by sea; his object being to obtain copies of the Sacred Books of Buddhism for the further enlightenment of his fellow countrymen at home.

This work was translated into French by Remusat, but he did not live to superintend its publication. He had, in fact, only revised about one half, that half being accompanied by valuable and exhaustive notes. In this state it fell — we were almost saying, among thieves — into the hands of Klaproth, who, with the slender assistance of Landresse and his own very considerable aplomb, managed to fill up the blanks of the latter portion, add some bulky notes after the manner, but lacking the scholarship, of Remusat, and generally patch up the whole in a form presentable to the public. This was subsequently translated into English by a Mr. Laidlay.

In 1869 the Rev. S. Beal, Chaplain in Her Majesty's Page:Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms (Faxian, Giles).djvu/14 Page:Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms (Faxian, Giles).djvu/15 Page:Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms (Faxian, Giles).djvu/16 Page:Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms (Faxian, Giles).djvu/17 Page:Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms (Faxian, Giles).djvu/19 Page:Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms (Faxian, Giles).djvu/20 In this book we find India made the Middle Kingdom and China treated as a foreign country. This is because the ecclesiastics give precedence to their religion, which anomaly is not worth arguing about. Again, Yü-t'ien,[1] or as it is now called Ho-t'ien, has been from time immemorial devoted to Mahommedanism, as is amply borne out in "the Illustrated Notices of Western Countries," reproduced in the present dynasty by Imperial authority. Yet Fa Hsien informs us that there were fourteen Buddhist monasteries and several tens of thousands of priests, which statement we need not accept as literally true. Nevertheless, the old Buddhistic records of the Six Dynasties have stood the test of time; and since both the style in which they are written is antique and elegant, and as narratives they have not been equalled in later generations, there is no reason why they should not be preserved to extend the stock of information on such marvellous subjects.

In Fa Hsien's work we have "the third year of Hung Shih, being the cyclical year Chi Hai." According to the History of the Chin dynasty, speaking of Yao Ch'ang, the second year of Hung Shih corresponds with the fourth year of Lung Ngan,[2] and should be the cyclical year Kêng Tzŭ. Fa Hsien's "Record" is therefore one year wrong.[3] On the other hand, the History of the Chin dynasty (§ National Records), speaking of Chao Shih-hu, Page:Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms (Faxian, Giles).djvu/22



RECORD

OF THE

BUDDHISTIC KINGDOMS




CHAPTER I.

Formerly, when Fa Hsien was at Ch'ang-an,[4] he was distressed at the imperfect state of the Disciplines;[5] and, subsequently, in the second year of Hung Shih, the Chihai[6] of the cycle, he agreed with Hui Ching, Tao Chêng, Hui Ying, Hui Wei and others to go to India and try to obtain these Disciplines. They started from Ch'ang-an, crossed the Lung (mountains), and arrived at the country of Ch'ien Kuei[7] where they spent the rainy season.

The rainy season over they went on to the country of Nou T'an, and crossing the Yang-lou range arrived at the garrison city of Chang-yeh. Chang-yeh was in a state of rebellion and the roads impassable; and therefore the Prince, being anxious about them,[8] kept them there at his own expense[9]. Thus they fell in with Chih Yen, Hui Chien, Seng Shao, Pao Yün, Sêng Ching and others; and rejoicing to find their errands the same, they spent the rainy season together. The rainy season over they again went on to Tun-huang, where there is a fortified encampment eighty li from east to west and forty li from north to south.[10] Having stayed here one month and some days, Fa Hsien and others, five in all, went on ahead in the train of some officials[11], and where thus once more separated from Pao Yün and his colleagues. The prefect[12] of Tun-huang gave all necessaries for crossing the desert (of Gobi). In this desert there are a great many evil spirits and hot winds. Those who encounter them (the winds) perish to a man birds above nor beasts below. Gazing[13] on all sides as far as the eye can reach in order to mark the track, it would be impossible to succeed but for the rotting bones of dead men which point the way. After travelling seventeen days, about 1,500 li, they arrived at the country of Shan-shan.[14]


CHAPTER II.

This land is rugged and barren. The clothes of the people are coarse, like those of the Chinese, the only difference being that they use felt and serge.[15] The King of the country is a convert[16] to Buddhism. There may be some 4,000 priests, all belonging to the Lesser Development.[17] The religion of India is universal among the people and Shamans[18] of these[19] kingdoms: but there are distinctions of refinement and coarseness (in their practice of it). From this point travelling westwards, the nations that one passes through are all the same in this respect, except that the Tartar dialects they speak are not the same. However the Buddhist priests all study Indian books and the Indian spoken language. (Fa Hsien and his companions) having stayed here somewhat more than a month, again travelled north-west for fifteen days and arrived at the country called Wu-i.[20] The priests of the Wu-i country also number over 4,000, all belonging to the Lesser Development. The religious observances are properly attended to.[21] When the Shamans of the land of Ch'in[22] arrive here, they are all unprepared[23] for the rites of these priests. Fa Hsien having obtained the protection of Fu Hsing-t'ang and Kung-sun[24] remained two months and some days after which he returned to Pao Yun and the others.[25] They all agreed that the people of the Wu-i country did not cultivate politeness or their duty towards their neighbour,[26] and were cold[27] in their treatment of strangers. Subsequently,[28] Chih Yen, Hui Chien, and Hui Wei went back to Kao-ch'ang in order to obtain necessaries for the journey; but Fa Hsien and his party, being provided with these things by Fu and Kung-sun, went on forthwith towards the south-east. The country was uninhabited, and the difficulties of travelling by land and water and the hardships they went through were beyond all comparison. After being on the road a month and five days they arrived at Yü-tien.[29]

CHAPTER III.

This country is fertile and prosperous. The people are well off and all converts to Buddhism. They play religious music to each other for amusement.[30] The priests number several tens of thousands,[31] mostly belonging to the Greater Development.[32] They all obtain their food from a common fund.[33] The people live scattered about;[34] and before the door of every house they build small pagodas. The smallest may be about two chang[35] high. They build houses for travelling priests[36] and entertain all who arrive, giving them anything else they may want. The King of the country lodged Fa Hsien and his companions comfortably in a monastery called Chü-ma-ti belonging to the Greater Development. At the sound of the gong,[37] three thousand priests assemble to eat. When they enter the refectory their demeanour is grave and orderly: they sit down in a regular order; they all keep silence; they make no noise with their bowls etc.; and when the attendants[38] serve more food they do not call out to each other but only make signs with their hands.[39] Hui Ching, Tao Chêng, and Hui Ta, started in advance towards the country of Chieh-ch'a, but Fa Hsien and the others wishing to see the procession of the images remained three months and some days. In this country there are fourteen large monasteries without counting the smaller ones. Beginning on the 1st of the 4th moon, they sweep and water the streets inside the city and decorate the principal thoroughfares. Over the city gate they stretch a large awning with all kinds of ornamentation, and there the King and Queen[40] and maids-of-honour reside. The priests of the Chü-ma-ti monastery belong to the Greater Development, which[41] is Q KECOKD OF THE deeply vcucratGa by the King. They take the first place iu the processions. At a distance of three or four li from the city a four-wheeled image car is made, over thirty (Chinese) feet in height, looking like a movable pavilion, and adorned with the seven precious substances, ^ ^ ^-ith streaming pennants and embroidered canopies. The image is placed in the middle of the car, with two attend- ants P'u-sas^^ and followed by all the demi-gods. These are beautifully carved in gold and silver, and suspended iu the air.^* When the image is one hundred paces from the city gate, the King takes off his cap of state and puts on new clothes. Then, barefoot, holdmg flowers and incense in his hand, he proceeds with his attendants out of the gate to meet the image, bows down his head to the ground, scatters the flowers and burns the incense. "When the image enters the city, the Queen and maids-of- honour on the top of the gate scatter far and wide^^ all kinds of flowers, which fall in clouds, and thus decorate the implements of worship.^ The cars are all difi'erent ; and each monastery has a day for its procession,' '^ beginning at the Ist of the 4th moon and lasting to the 14th when the processions terminate 13. Gold, silver, emeralds, crystal, rubies, amber, and agate. 14. Bodbisatvas. 15. Tbe text reads ^ ^ §^ M^'^ ^^ M iM ^' ^^r. Beal translates, "all are made of gold and silver, wbilst glittering gems are bung suspended iu tbe air." He has put tbe comma on tbe wrong side of J^> . IG. Tbe text is, ^ ^ ^ g. Mr. Beal skips over tbe puzzling 5g. 17. in y^ Hi JS 'K :Br • ^^^'- ^^^^ translates tbe two middle words as "sumptuously," and eitber includes tberein or omits altogctber tbe two following words '[It M. . 18. A friend would persuade us to render tbis passage as if a single procession of images visited tbe different monasteries in turn. 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This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

 


  1. Khoten.
  2. Or A.D. 400.
  3. As Chi Hai 己亥 would be only the third year of Lung Ngan, or A.D. 399. But, granting that the 三 is not a misprint for 二, we make Fa Hsien to be two years wrong. For if the second year of Hung Shih was 庚子, the third would be 辛丑 or A.D. 401.
  4. Now Hsi-an Fu 西安府, the capital of Shan-hsi 山西.
  5. One of the three classes into which the Sacred Books of Buddhism are divided:—(1) 經 ching, aphorisms (of Buddha himself); (2) 律 , disciplines; and (3) 論 lun, discourses (on theology, metaphysics etc).
  6. 己亥, or A.D. 399.
  7. 亁歸,the name of a prince. Mr. Beal writes these two characters Kon Kwei. 耨檀 Nou t'an in the next sentence is also the name of a prince.
  8. The words 慇懃 have been omitted by Mr. Beal.
  9. Literary, "became their patron" 檀越
  10. About 26 miles by 13. We may here notify the reader that throughout this translation we shall keep to the Chinese measurements whether in li, feet, or inches. It is difficult to determine what was the exact value of either at the time when this volume was written. Julien fixes the li at 1/2 of the English mile, and the foot may possibly have been near about what it is now-a little larger than the English foot.
  11. The text has 隨使先發. Rémusat gave, "à la suite de quelques ambassadeurs," and it is difficult to get anything else out of the text as it stands. Mr. Beal has, "made arrangements to set out in advance of the others," which implies that he has changed 隨 into 遂, though he does not say so or even allude to the doubt fulness of the passage. But see Chapter IV, note 1
  12. 太守
  13. Mr. Beal's rendering of the following sentence would be rather a hindrance than an aid to the student of the text. He has avoided the difficulties of construction by giving a not over correct paraphrase.
  14. "At present called the desert of Makhaï." Beal.
  15. This 褐 is still commonly used in Peking by the working classes. Peking carters are often called 車褐子
  16. Mr. Beal has "well affected to;" but 奉法 is stronger than that. Cf. 奉敎 used in the present day for actual conversion to Christianity.
  17. "La petite translation consiste dans la morale et le culte extérieur." Rémusat. The Hinayana.
  18. Ascetics.
  19. The word 諸 chu, all, frequently precedes 國 in this narrative with the meaning we have here given to it.
  20. 𠌥夷. Rémusat changes 夷 into 胡 "qui a la même valeur," and explains it as the Ouigour country.
  21. The text has 法則齊整 which Mr. Beal wrongly joins to the following sentence and translates "When Fah Tsih and Tsai Tch'ang (two Buddhist priests of the land of Thsin, arrived at this country, they were unable to conform to some of the customs of the religious community)." For the four characters quoted above Rémusat has "Ils sont, quant à la loi, exacts et bien reglés," in which he mistakes for 則 a particle. But 法則 is quite as common a term as 稅則. Mr. Beal's rendering is absurd.
  22. 秦 China, from the name of "a feudal state which arose with Fei-tsz' 非子 B.C. 897, and gradually extended over the whole of Shensi and Kansuh, till, in B.C. 221, under the Emperor First 秦始皇帝 it subdued all China, and was called the Ts'in dynasty."Williams.
  23. Unaccustomed to.
  24. This passage has been a stumbling-block to M. Remusat and Mr. Beal alike; in fact, the latter follows servilely the extraordinary translation of his predecessor. The text runs,—法顯得符行堂公孫經理住二月餘, and out of these characters Mr. Beal sees no difficulty in extracting this result:—"Fa Hian, therefore, having obtained a pass, proceeded to the palace (hall) of the reigning Prince, Kung Sun, where he remained two months and some days." There is some excuse for Rémusat who only wrote out his translation in the rough and never put the finishing touches; but what is to be urged in deference to Mr. Beal who can calmly hand over such a version to the uninitiated public without even hinting that there is a difficulty of any kind? Of the correctness of our own translation there can be no reasonable doubt, and the only stone an adverse critic could possible cast is one that we shall anticipate him by throwing ourselves. It is rather unusual to give the surname 姓 and name 名 of one of two people (Fu Hsing-t'ang), and only the surname of the other (Kung-sun). But almost in the next line they are spoken of as Fu and Kung-Sun.
  25. Who, as Mr. Beal justly supposes, had by this time arrived at the Wu-i country.
  26. 義 which Mr. Beal omits as if it were part of 禮.
  27. Literally, thin 薄.
  28. The whole of this passage differs grammatically speaking from MM. Rémusat and Beal's translations, though the general sense is the same.
  29. Khoten. Rémusat.
  30. M. Rémusat:—"c'est la loi qui leur procure la félicitè dont ils jouissent." Mr. Beal:—"take delight in attending to ther religious duties." The text:—以法樂相娛. The character 樂 is here unquestionably yo music, and not joy. We also venture to think that our own translation is the only one which disposes satisfactorily of 相 "to each other."
  31. Mr. Beal translates "ten thousand men," and says he prefers "taking sho as a verb." But such a preference is totally uncalled for and inadmissible.
  32. "La grande translation a pour base une théologie abstruse, une ontologie raffinée, le mysticisme le plus exalte." Rémusat. The Mahayama.
  33. The text is 皆有家食 and it is truly somewhat tempting to copy Mr. Beal and make them all sit down to dinner together. But the sentence means that there is a single fund for the support of all the priests, and that the revenues of the various temples, contributions of subscribers &c., are all thrown into a common stock from which an allowance of so much is made for the keep of each member mentioned are too great to admit of Mr. Beal's translation.
  34. 人民星居. Mr. Beal says "this is a perplexing passage," but the phrase is common enough in ordinary books, novels, and often met with in proclamations. Compare 星羅棋布.
  35. Twenty Chinese feet.
  36. 四方僧. Literally, "priests from the four quarters." Mr. Beal makes this improvement on Rémusat's "de forme carrée."
  37. The text is 三千僧其犍槌食. Mr. Beal's note says "Kien for Kien-ti, i.e., Ghantâ or Gong." We have nothing better to offer, and commit this sentence to the ingenuity of our readers. At the same time we must object to Mr. Beal's idea that the three thousand priests take their meal together. 共 only implies that the hour was the same.
  38. 凈人 has been utterly ignored by M. Beal whose translation is otherwise a considerable improvement on Rémusat's absurd rendering. Mr. Beal gives "when they (i.e. the priests) require more food there is no chattering one with the other, but etc." Now as we have just been told that "they all keep silence" it would seem unnecessary to repeat the remark in another form. Further 喚 never means to chatter. The 凈人 are the menials who wait upon the priests. Their heads are shaved but have not been branded with three (or more) marks 三戒 that are the pride of an ordained priest, and signify to the public that he has renounced for ever flesh, wine and woman.
  39. Mr. Beal wrongly joins 指 with 手, and translates it "fingers," instead of with 麾. The text is 但以手指麾.
  40. The text is 王及夫人采女 translates "the King and the court ladies, with their attendants."
  41. Not the priests, as Mr. Beal renders it in defiance of grammar.