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Narrative of Hiouen Thsang. Translated by myself, from the “Mémoires
sur les Contrées Occidentales de Hiouen Thsang" of M. Stanislas Julien, translator of the original Chinese work. Vol. i., pp. 353–376.
KINGDOM OF P'O-LO-NI-SSE.
(Váránasi). The kingdom of Po-lo-ni-sse (Váránasí, Benares) is about four thousand lis (667 miles)' in circuit. To the west, near the Ganges, is the capital, which is from eighteen to nineteen lis (three miles and upwards) long, and from five to six lis (about one mile) broad. The villages lie very near together, and contain a numerous population. Families of very great wealth, whose houses are stored with rare and precious things, are to be seen. The people are gentle and polished, and esteem most highly men given to study. The greater portion of them believe in the heretical doctrines [Hinduism]; and few revere the Law [religion] of Buddha. The climate is temperate, grain is abundant, the fruit-trees are luxuriant, and the earth is covered with tufted vegetation. There are thirty [Buddhist] monasteries, containing about three thousand devotees, who, all, study the principles of the school Tching-liang-pou (the school of the Sammatiyas), which holds to the Minor Vehicle. There
1 Taking the common reckoning of six lis to the mile. M. St. Martin assigns only five lis to the mile.
2 According to M. Julien, whose explanation is based on a Chinese Dictionary, the Buddhists recognize Five Vehicles, that is to say, five means, used by as many classes of eminent men, for the attainment of beatification.
are a hundred temples of the [Hindu) gods, and about ten thousand heretics [Hindus], who, for the most part, worship the god Ta-tseuthsaï (Maheswara Deva). Some cut off the hair, others reserve a tuft upon the crown of the head, go naked, and are destitute of any kind of clothing (the Nirgranthas). Some besmear their bodies with ashes (the Páśupatas), and zealously practise severe austerities, in order to obtain release from life and death, [that is, from transmigration]
In the capital there are twenty temples of the [Hindu] gods. Towers of many storeys are seen there; and magnificent chapels, constructed of stone, skilfully carved, and of richly painted wood. Umbrageous trees cover them with their shade; and streams of clear water flow in all directions. The statue of the god (Maheswara Deva), in Teou-chi (brass), is little less than a hundred feet in height. Its aspect is grave and majestic; and, at sight of it, one is filled with respectful awe, as if it were, indeed, alive.
To the north-east of the capital, and to the west of the river of Po’-lo-ni-sse (Váráņasí, that is, the Ganges), is a Stúpa (or sacred tower], built by king Wou-yeou (Asoka), about one hundred feet high. A stone column stands over against it, of blue colour, bright as a mirror, and of a highly polished surface, in which one may always discover the shadow of Jou-laï (the Tathagata).
Passing on about ten lis north-east from the river of Poʻ-lo-ni-sse (Váránasi), he reached the Monastery of the Deer Park (Mrigadáva), which is divided into eight sections, and is entirely surrounded by walls. There you see balustrades and two-storeyed pavilions, of admirable construction. The devotees—of whom there are as many as fifteen hundred-study the doctrine of the school Tching-liang-pou, holding to the Minor Vehicle. In the midst of the walled enclosure is a Vihara, two hundred feet in height, surmounted by an 'An-mo-lo (Amra, or mango), wrought in embossed gold. The foundations and stairs are of stone. All round the monument there are a hundred rows of niches, made of brick, arranged one above another,
1 This shows that the hundred temples,' with the ten thousand heretics' attached to them, comprised the number in the entire kingdom of Benares. In like manner, the thirty (Buddhist) monasteries,' with their three thousand occupants, refer not merely to the city, but to the whole kingdom, the city included.
each of them containing a statue of Buddha, in embossed gold. In the centre of this Vihára stands a statue of Buddha, in Teou-chi (brass). It has exactly the height of Jou-laï (the Tathágata), who is represented turning the Wheel of the Law [i.e., preaching].
To the south-west of the Vihára is a stone Stúpa, erected by king Wou-yeou (Asoka). Although its base is embedded in the earth, it has about a hundred feet of elevation. In front of this monument, a stone column has been set up, some seventy feet high• The stone is smooth as jade, and shines like a mirror. Those who pray fervently discern in it a multitude of figures ; on all occasions, every one sees there images that answer to his virtues or his vices. It was at this spot that Jou-laï (the Tathagata), after having attained to perfect knowledge, began to turn the Wheel of the Law.
The Stúpa on the side of the aforesaid marks the place where 'O-jo-kiao-tch'in-jou ('Ajnáta Kauņdinya), etc. [the other companions of Buddha), having seen the Pou-sa (the Bodhisattwa) relinquish his austerities, suddenly desisted from following him and from watching over his safety. Having arrived at this place, they gave themselves up to meditation.
The Stúpa on the side of that last-mentioned occupies the site where five hundred Pratyeka-Buddhas (To-kio) entered Nie-pan (Nirváņa) together. There are, also, three other Stúpas. The three last Buddhas reposed on that spot, and there walked for exercise.
To the side of the place where the three Buddhas walked for exercise there is a Stupa. It was there that Mei-ta-li-ye-pou-sa (Maitreya Bodhisattwa) received a prediction announcing that he should attain to Buddhahood. Of yore, when Jou-laï (the Tathágata) was at Rájagļiha (Wang-che-tching), on [Mount] Vulture-Peak (Gșidhrakúța), he addressed the Pi-tsou (Bhikhshus) as follows: “In coming ages, when the inhabitants of this island of Tchen-pou shall have become just and upright, and when men shall attain a longevity of eighty thousand years, a Po-lo-men (Brahman) child named T'se-chi (Maitreya) will be born there. His body will be of the colour of the purest gold, and will shed abroad a lustrous radiance. He will renounce his family, will attain to superior knowledge (Paramabodhi), and, at three great synods, will expound the Law for the behoof of all men. Those whom he will convert and save are
the numerous mortals to whom I have bequeathed my Law, in order to conduct them to happiness. To the Three Jewels? they will, with their whole heart, pay profound reverence.
Whether they remain with their families or quit them, whether they observe the precepts or transgress them, all will have the happiness of being converted and guided to good; all will obtain the fruit of Bodhi, and final deliverance. By explaining the Law in the three great Synods, he will save the disciples to whom I have bequeathed my Law. Subsequently, he will convert their virtuous friends who have the same vocation.
“At that moment, T''se-chi-pou-sa (Maitreya Bodhisattwa), having heard these words of Buddha, rose from his seat, and said to Buddha: “I desire to become this Honourable of the Age, under the name of T'se-chi (Maitreya).' Then Jou-laï (the Tathágata) spoke to him as follows: 'Agreeably to the wish you have just expressed, you shall see this fruit, face to face, [that is, you shall become that Buddha). What I have just declared will be owing to the influence of your instructions.'»
To the west of the place where T'se-chi-pou-sa (Maitreya Bodhisattwa) received this prediction, there is a Stúpa. It was there that Chi-kia-pou-sa (Sákya Bodhisattwa) received, likewise, a prediction. In the Age of the Wise (Bhadrakalpa), when the life of man lasted for twenty thousand years, Kia-ye-po-fo (Káśyapa Buddha) appeared in the world. He turned the Wheel of the excellent Law, converted mortals, and received from Hou-ming-pou-8a (Prabhápála (?) Bodhisattwa) the following prediction : “This Pou-sa (Bodhisattwa), in the ages to come, at the time when the life of man shall last for a hundred years, will obtain the dignity of Buddha, under the name of Chikia-meou-ni (Sákya Muni).
A short distance from the place where Chi-kia-pou-sa (Sákya Bodhisattwa) received this prediction, to the south, are ancient stone seats, erected on the spot where the four last Buddhas walked for exercise. They are about fifty paces in length, and seven feet in height, and consist of blue stones. A statue of Jou-laï (the Tathágata), in the attitude of walking, is placed there. Its body surpasses
i In Sanskrit, triratna or ratnatraya. These, on the authority of M. Julien, are Buddha, the Visible Communion of Saints, and the Law.
human stature ; and its entire appearance exhibits an imposing majesty. From the top of the fleshy cone which projects from the head, flows a mass of waving hair. Celestial prodigies are seen there, and the divine power displays itself with effulgence.
Within the enclosure of the monastery-walls is a multitude of sacred monuments. There are several hundred Viháras and Stúpas. We notice only two or three ; for it would be difficult to describe them in detail.
West of the walls of the Seng-kia-lan (Sangháráma, monastery), is a reservoir of pure and limpid water, about two hundred paces in circuit. Here Jou-laï (the Tathágata) formerly bathed.
A little further to the west is a great reservoir, one hundred and eighty paces in circuit. Here Jou-laï (the Tathagata) washed his devotee's water-pot.
A little further to the north is another reservoir, one hundred and fifty paces in circuit. Here Jou-laï (the Tathagata) washed his garment. These three reservoirs are haunted by dragons. The water is deep, sweet to the taste, pure, and transparent. It never either increases or diminishes. When men of proud hearts come to bathe in these reservoirs, the Kin-pi-lo (Kumbhíras, alligators) destroy a great number of them; but, should a pious person come, he may draw water without any fear.
On the side of the reservoir where the Buddha washed his garments is a large square stone, on which may be seen the marks of the Kiacha (Kásháya, brown vestment) of Jou-lai (the Tathagata). The threads of the cloth have a brilliant hue, and stand out distinctly, as if they were carved. Men animated with a sincere faith come here, daily, to offer their adoration. But, should heretics or evil-doers trample on this stone contemptuously, the king-dragon, who lives in this reservoir, at once unchains the winds and the rain.
A short distance from these reservoirs is a Stúpa. In ancient times, when Jou-laï (the Tathágata) was leading the life of a Pou-sa (Bodhisattwa), and was a king of elephants, armed with six tusks, a hunter, wishing to carry off these valuable ivories, clothed himself, craftily, with a Kia-cha (Kásháya, or devotee's brown garment), bent his bow, and awaited his prey. The king of the