Buddhist Records of the Western World by Si-Yu-Ki (2 Vols. in One): Translated from Chinese of Hiuten Tsiang (A.D. 629) by Samuel Beal

Buddhist Records of the Western World by Si-Yu-Ki (2 Vols. in One): Translated from Chinese of Hiuten Tsiang (A.D. 629)

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  • Book Name Buddhist Records of the Western World by Si-Yu-Ki (2 Vols. in One): Translated from Chinese of Hiuten Tsiang (A.D. 629)
  • Author Samuel Beal
  • Language, Pages English, 477 Pgs. (HB)
  • Last Updated 2024 / 06 / 22
  • ISBN 9788120811072

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Buddhist Records of the Western World by Si-Yu-Ki (2 Vols. in One): Translated from Chinese of Hiuten Tsiang (A.D. 629)
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The Chinese Buddhist Pilgrims visited India during the early centuries of the Christian era. The Buddhist literature of China contains the records of their travels, the authenticity of which is vouchsafed by the fact that they embody the testimony of independent eye-witnesses as to the facts related in them

The Principles Chinese Buddhist Pilgrims who visited India and wrote the accounts of their travel were Shih-Fa-Hian (400 A.D.), Sung Yun and Hwei Sang (500 A.D.), Hiuen Tsiang (629 A.D.) and I-tsing (670 A.D.).

Fa-hian wrote Fo-kwo-ki - a work well known in Europe through a translation by M.Abel Remusat. The accounts of Sung Yun and Hwei Sang are derived from the private records of Tao-Yung and Sung-Yun. Hiuen Tsiang the most famous Chinese traveller composed the Ta-t'and-si-yu-ki in twelve books.

The records are very interesting as they refer to the geography, history, manners and religion of the people of the countries West of China, of India in particular, visited by the pilgrims.

The reader who looks into the pages of this book will find ample material for study on some important questions: the different manners and customs of separate people, the various products of the different soils and the diverse class divisions of the society; when Buddhism flourished and when Buddhism declined as also how the devoted pilgrims encountered the perils of travel in foreign and distant lands and endured sufferings by desert, mountain and sea.


THE progress which has been made in our knowledge 0f_ Northern Buddhism during the last few years is due very considerably to the discovery of the Buddhist literature of China. This literature (now well known to us through the catalogues already published) 1 contains, amongst other valuable works, the records of the travels of various Chinese Buddhist pilgrims who visited India during the early centuries of our era. These records embody the testimony of independent eye-witnesses as to the facts related in them, and having been faithfully preserved and allotted a place in the collection of the sacred books of the country, their evidence is entirely trustworthy.

It would be impossible to mention seriatim the various points of interest in these works, as they refer to the geography, history, manners, and religion of the people of India. The reader who looks into the pages that follow will find ample material for study on all these questions. But there is one particular that gives a more than usual interest to the records under notice, and that is the evident sincerity and enthusiasm of the travellers them- selves. Never did more devoted pilgrims leave their native country to encounter the perils of travel in foreign and distant lands; never did disciples more ardently de- sire to gaze on the sacred vestiges of their religion; never did- men endure greater sufferings by desert, mountain, and sea than these simple -minded earnest Buddhist priests. And that such courage, religious devotion, and power of endurance should be exhibited by men so sluggish, as we think, in their very nature as the Chinese, this is very surprising, and may perhaps arouse some consideration.

Buddhist books began to be imported into China during the closing period of the first century of our era. From these books the Chinese learned the history of the founder of the new religion, and became familiar with the names of the sacred spots he had consecrated by his presence. ‘As time went on, and strangers from India and the neighbourhood still flocked into the Eastern Empire, some of the new converts (whose names have been lost) were urged by curiosity or a sincere desire to gaze on the mementoes of the religion they had learned to adopt, to risk the perils of travel and visit the western region. We are r told by I-tsing (one of the writers; these Buddhist records), who live dab out 670 A.D., at 500_years before his time twenty men, or about the number, had found their way through the province of the chuen to the Mahabodhi tree in India, and for them and their fellow- countrymen a Maharaja called Srigupta built a temple. The establishment was called the ‘Tchina Temple." In I-tsing’s days it was in ruins. In the year 290 A.D. we find another Chinese pilgrim called Chu Si-hing visiting Khotan; another called Fa-ling shortly afterwards proceeded to North India, and we can hardly doubt that others unknown to fame followed their example. At any rate, the recent accidental discovery of several stone tablets with Chinese inscriptions at Buddha Gaya,2 on two of which we find the names of the pilgrims Chi-I and Ho- yun, the former in company " with some other priests," shows plainly that the sacred spots were visited from time to time by priests from China, whose names indeed are unknown to us from any other source, but who were impelled to leave their home by the same spirit of religious devotion and enthusiasm which actuated those with whom we are better acquainted.

The first Chinese traveller whose name and writings have come down to us is the Sakyaputra Fa-hian. He is the author of the records which follow in the pages of the present Introduction. His work, the Fo-kwo-ki, was first known in Europe through a translation made by M. Abel Rémusat. But Klaproth claimed the discovery of the book itself from the year 18l6, 4 and it was he who shaped the rough draft of Hémusat’s translation from chap, xxi. of the work in question to the end. Of this translation nothing need be said in this place; it has been dealt with elsewhere. It will be enough, therefore, to give some few particulars respecting the life and travels of the pilgrim, and for the rest to refer the reader to the translation which follows.


A.D. 400.

In agreement with early custom, the Chinese mendicant priests who adopted the Buddhist faith changed their names at the time of their leaving their homes (ordination), and assumed the title of Sakyaputras, sons or mendicants of Sakya. So we find amongst the inscriptions at Mathura the title Sakya Bhikshunyaka or Sakya Bhik-shor added to the religious names of the different bene- factors there mentioned. The pilgrim Fa-hian, therefore, whose original name was Kung, when he assumed the religious title by which he is known to ns, took also the appellation of Shih or the Sakyaputra, the disciple or son, of Sakya. He was a native of Wu—Yang, of the district of Ping-Yang, in the province of Shan-sin He left his home and became a Sramanéra at three years of age. His early history is recorded in the work called Ko-sang-chuen, written during the time of the Liang dynasty, belonging to the Suh family (502-507 A.D.) But so far as we are now concerned, we need only mention that he was moved by a desire to obtain books not known in China, and with that aim set out in company with other priests (some of whom are named in the records)- from Chang’an, A.D. 399, and after an absence of fourteen years returned to Nan- kin, where, in connection with Buddhabhadra (an Indian Sramana, descended from the family of the founder of the Buddhist religion), he translated various works and com- posed the history of his travels. He died at the age of eighty-six.

Fa-hian’s point of departure was the city of Chang’an in Shen-si; from this place he advanced across the Lung district (or mountains) to the fortified town of Chang-yeh in Kan-suh; here he met with sonic other priests, and with them proceeded to Tnn-hwang, a town situated to the south of the Bulunghir river, lat. 39° 30' N., long. 95°E, Thence with four companions he pushed forward, under the guidance, as it seems, of an official, across the desert of Lop to Shen—shen, the probable site of which is marked in the map accompanying the account of Prejevalsky’s journey through the same district; according to this map, it is situated in lat. 38° N., and long. 87° E. It corre- sponds with the Cherchen of Marco Polo. i1`a•hian tells us that Buddhism prevailed in this country, and that there were about 4000 priests. The country itself was rugged and barren. So Marco Polo says, " The whole of this province is sandy, but there are numerous towns and villages.‘ The Venetian traveller makes the distance from the town of Lop five days’ journey. Probably Fa—hian did not visit the town of Cherchen, but after a month in the kingdom turned to the northwest, apparently following the course of the Tarim, and after fifteen days arrived in the kingdom of Wu—i or Wu—ki. This kingdom seems to correspond to Karshar or Karasharh, near the Lake Tenghiz or Bagarash, and is the same as the ’O—ki—ni of Hiuen Tsiang. Prejevalsky took three days in travelling from Kara—moto to Korla, a distance of about 42 miles, so that the fifteen days of Fa-hian might well represent in point, of time the distance from Lake Loh te Karasharh. Our pilgrims would here strike on the outward route of Hiuen Tsiang. It was at this spot they fell in with their companions Pao-yun and the rest, whom they had left at Tun-hwang. These had probably travelled to Karasharh by the northern route, as it is called, through Kamil or Kamul to Pidshan and Turfan; for we read that whilst Fa-hian remained at Karasharh, under the protection of an important official, some of the others went back to Kao-chang (Turfan), showing that they had come that way.

From Karasharh Fa-Hian and the others, favoured by the liberality of Kung sun (who was in some way connected with the Prince of Ts’in), proceeded south—west to Khotan. The route they took is not well ascertained; but probably they followed the course of the Tarim and of the Khotan rivers. There were no dwellings or people on the road, and the difficulties of the journey and of crossing the rivers “ceeded power of eon1parison.” After a month and five days they reached Khotan. This country has been identified with .Li-yul of the Tibetan writers? There is some reason for connecting this "land of Li" with the Lieh• chhavis of Vaisali. It is said by Csoma Korosi “ that the Tibetan writers derive their first king (about 250 B.C.) from the Liteabyis or Lichavyis. The chief prince or ruler off the Lichchhavis was called the “great lies? or "the noble lion." This is probably the explanation of Maha-li, used by Spence Hardy as “the name of the king of the Lichawis." Khotan would thus he the land of the lion-people (Simhas). Whether this be so or not, the polished condition of the people and their religious zeal indicate close connection with India, more probably with Baktria. The name of the great temple, a mile or two to the west of the city, called the Nava-sangharama, or royal “new temple,” is the same as that on the south-west of Balkh, described by Hiuen Tsiang; and the introduction of Vaisravana as the protector of this convent, and his connection with Khotan, the kings of that country being descended from him, indicate a relationship, if not of race, at least of intercourse between the two kingdoms.




Part I
Introduction ix
Shih Fa-hian xi
Sung Yun xv
Hiuen Tsaing xviii
Buddhist literature in China xx
Travels of Fa-hian or fo-kwo-ki xxiii
The Mission of Sung Yung and Hwei-sang lxxxiv
Preface to the Tatiasng si-yu-ki by Ghang yeh 1
Book I. Thirty four countries 7-68
Introduction by Chang yueh 7
1 Country of 'O-ki-ni(Akni) 17
2 Kingdom of K'iu-chi (Kucha) 19
3 Poh-luh-kia (Baluka or Aksu) 24
4 Nu-Chih-kien (Nujkend) 29
5 Che-shi (Chaj or Tashkand) 30
6 Fei-han (Ferghanah) 30
7 Su-tu-li-sse-na (Sutrishna) 31
8 Sa-mo-kien (Samarkand) 32
9 Mi-mo-ho (Maghian) 33
10 K'ie-po-ta-na (Kebud) 33
11 K'iuh-shwang-ni-kia (Kashania) 34
12 Ho-han (Kuan) 34
13 Pu-ho (Bokhara) 34
14 Fa-ti (Betik) 35
15 Ho-li-sih-mi-kia (Khwarazm) 35
16 Ki-shwang-na (kesh) 36
Book I Continued
17 Ta-mi (Termed) 38
18 Chi-i-ngoh-yen-na (Chaghanian or Saghanian) 39
19 Hwuh-lo-mo (Garma) 39
20 Su-man (Suman and Kulab) 40
21 Kio-ho-yen-na (kubadian) 40
22 Hu-sha (Wakhsh) 40
23 Kho-to-lo (Khotl) 40
24 Kiu-mi-to (Kumidha or Darwaz and Roshau) 41
25 Fo-kia-lang (Baghlan) 43
26 HI-lu-sih-min-kien (Rui-Samangan) 43
27 Ho-lin (Khulm) 43
28 Po-ho or Fo-ho-lo (Balkh) 43
29 Jui-mo-to (Jumadha) 48
30 Hu-shi-kein (juzgana) 48
31 Ta-la-kien (Talikan) 48
32 Kie-chi (Gachi or Gaz) 49
33 Fan-yen-na (Bamiyau) 49
34 Kia-pi-shi (Kapisa) 54
Book II Three Countries 69-118
(1) Names of India 69
(2) Extent of India 70
(3) Measures of Length 70
(4) Astronomy, the Indian Calendar, &c 71
(5) Towns and Buildings 73
(6) Seats, Clothing, &c 75
(7) Dress, Habits, &c. 75
(8) Cleanliness, Ablutions, &c 77
(9) Writing, Language, Literature, the Vedas, Study . 77
(10) Buddhist Schools, Books, Discussions, Discipline 80
(11) Castes, Marriage. 82
(12) Royal Race, Troops, Weapons. 82
(13) Manners, Justice. 83
(14) Forms of Politeness 85
(15) Medicines, Funeral Customs, &c 86
(16) Civil Administration, Revenues, &c 87
(17) Plants and Trees, Cultivation, Food, Drink, &c 88
(18) Commercial Transactions 89
1. Country of Lan-po (Lamghan) 90
2. Na-kie-lo-ho (Nagarahara) 91
3. Kien-t'o-lo (Gandhara) 97
Book III. Eight Countries 119-164
1 U-chang-na (Udyana) 119
2 Po-lu-lo (Bolor) 135
3 Ta-ch'a-shi-lo (Takshasila) 136
4 Sang-ho-pu-lo (Simhapura) 143
5 Wu-la-shi (Urasa) 147
6 Kia-shi-mi-li (Kasmir) 148
7 Pun-nu-tso (Punacha) 163
8 Ho-lo-she-pu-lo (Rajapuri) 163
Book IV Fifteen Countries 165-205
1 Tseh-kia (Takka) 165
2 Chi-na-po-ti (Chinapati) 173
3 She-lau-t'o-lo (Jalandhara) 175
4 K'iu-lu-to (Kuluta) 177
5 She-to-t'u-lu (Satadru) 178
6 Po-li-ye-to-lo (Paryatra) 179
7 Mo-t'u-lo (Mathura) 179
8 Sa-t'a-ni-shi-fa-lo (Sthanesvara) 183
9 Su-lo-k'in-na (Srughna) 186
10 Mo-ti-pu-lo (Matipura) 190
11 P'o-lo-hih-mo-pu-lo (Brahmapura) 198
12 Kiu-pi-shwang-na (Govisana?) 199
13 'O-hi-chi-ta-lo (Ahikshetra) 200
14 Pi-lo-shan-na (Virasana?) 201
15 Kie-pi-ta (Kapitha) 202
Book V – Six Countries 206-240
1 Kie-jo-kio-she-kwo (Kanyakubja) 206
2 'O-yu-t'o (Ayodhya) 224
3 'O-ye-mu-khie (Hayumukha) 229
4 Po-lo-ye-kia (Prayaga) 230
5 Kiao-shang-mi (Kausambi) 235
6 Pi-so-kia (Vaisaka) 239
Additions and corrections 241


Part II
Book VI: Four Countries
1 Shi-lo-fu-shi-ti (Sravasti) 1
2 Kie-pi-lo-fa-su-tu (Kapilavastu) 13
3 Lan-mo (Ramagrama) 26
4 Kiu-shi-na-kie-lo (Kusinagara) 31
Book VII: Five Countries 44-81
1 P'o-lo-ni-sse (Varanasi) 44
2 Chen-shu (Ghazipur) 61
3 Fei-she-li (Vaisali) 66
4 Fo-li-shi (Vrijji) 77
5 Ni-po-lo (Nepal) 80
Book VIII Mo-kie-to (Magadha) 82-137
Book IX Magadha (Continued) 138-185
Book X: Seventeen Countries 186-234
1 I-lan-na-po-fa-to (Hiranyaparvata) 186
2 Chen-po (Champa) 191
3 Kie-chu-hoh-khi-lo (Kajughira or Kajingarha) 193
4 Pun-na-fa-t'an-na (Pundravarddhana) 194
5 Kia-mo-lu-po (Kamarupa) 195
6 San-mo-ta-cha's (Somatata) 199
7 Tan-mo-li-ti (Tamralipti) 200
8 Kie-lo-na-su-fa-la-na (Karnasuvarna) 201
9 U-ch'a (Udra) 204
10 Kong-u-t'o (Konyodha?) 206
Book X: Continued
11 Kie-ling-kia (Kalinga) 207
12 Kiao-sa-lo (Kosala) 209
13 'An-ta-lo (Andhra) 217
14 To-na-kie-tse-kia (Dhanakataka) 221
15 Chu-li-ye (Chulya or Chola) 227
16 Ta-lo-pi-ch'a (Dravida) 228
17 Mo-lo-pi-kiu-ch'a (Malakuta) 230
Book XI: Twenty Three Countries 235-282
1 Sang-kia-lo (Simhala) 235
2 Kong-kin-na-pu-lo (Konkanapura) 253
3 Mo-ho-la-ch'a (Maharashtra) 255
4 Po-lu-kie-ch'e-p'o (Bharukachha) 259
5 Mo-la-p'o (Malava) 260
6 'O-ch'a-li (Atali) 265
7 K'ie-ch'a (Kachha) 266
8 Fa-li-pi (Valabhi) 266
9 'O-nan-to-pu-lo (Anandapurra) 268
10 Su-la-ch'a (Surashtra) 268
11 Kiu-che-lo (Gurjjara) 269
12 U-che-yen-na (Ujjayini) 270
13 Chi-ki-t'o (?) 271
14 Mo-hi-shi-fa-lo-pu-lo (Mahesvarapura) 271
15 Sin-tu (Sindh) 272
16 Mu-lo-san-p'u-lo (Mulasthanapura) 274
17 Po-fa-to (Parvata) 275
18 'O-tin-p'o-chi-lo (Atyanabakela) 276
19 Lang-kie-lo (Langala) 277
20 Po-la-sse (Persia) 277
21 Pi-to-shi-lo (Pitasila) 279
22 'O-fan-ch'a (Avanda?) 280
23 Fa-la-na (Varana or Varnu) 281
Book XII: Twenty Two Countries 283-326
1 Tsu-ku-ch'a (Tsaukuta) 283
2 Fo-li-shi-sa-t'ang-na (Parsusthana) 285
3 'An-ta-lo-po (Andarab) 286
Book XII: Continued
4 K'woh-si-to (Khost) 287
5 Hwoh (Kunduz) 287
6 Mung-kin (Mumjan) 288
7 'O-li-ni (Ahreng) 289
8 Ho-lo-hu (Ahreng) 289
9 Ki-li-seh-mo (Krishma, or Kishm) 289
10 Po-li-ho (Bolor) 289
11 Hi-mo-ta-lo (Himatala) 290
12 Po-to-chang0na (badakshan) 291
13 In-po-kin (yamgan) 291
14 Kiu-lang-na (kurana) 292
15 Ta-mo-sih-teh-ti (Termistat) 292
16 Shi-k'i-ni (Shikhnan) 295
17 Shang-mi (Sambi) 296
18 K'ie-pan-t'o (Khabandha) 298
19 U-sha (Och) 394
20 Kiesha (Kashgar) 306
21 Cho-kiu-kia (Chakuka? Yarkiang) 307
22 Kiu-sa-ta-na (Khotan) 309
Index 327
Correction 370


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