I-TSING, 671-695 C.E.

MeetingBuddha1

 

At a distance of ten days’ journey from the Mahabodhi Vihara [in Bodh Gaya] we passed a great mountain and bogs; the pass is dangerous and difficult to cross. It is important to go in a company of several men, and never to proceed alone. At the time I, I-Tsing, was attacked by an illness of the season; my body was fatigued and without strength. I sought to follow the company of merchants, but carrying and suffering as I was, became unable to reach them. Although I exerted myself and wanted to proceed, yet I was obliged to stop a hundred times in going five Chinese miles. There were there about twenty priests of Nalanda, and with them the venerable Teng, who had all gone on in advance. I alone remained behind, and walked in the dangerous defiles without a companion. Late in the day, when the sun was about to set, some mountain brigands made their appearance; drawing a bow and shouting aloud, they came and glared at me, and one after another insulted me. First they stripped me of my upper robe, and then took off my under garment. All the straps and girdles that were with me they snatched away also. I thought at that time, indeed, that my last farewell to this world was at hand, and that I should not fulfil my wish of a pilgrimage to the holy places. Moreover, if my limbs were thus pierced by the points of their lances, I could never succeed in carrying out the original enterprise so long meditated. Besides, there was a rumour in the country of the West (India) that, when they took a white man, they killed him to offer a sacrifice to heaven (Devas) . When I thought of this tale, my dismay grew twice as much. Thereupon I entered into a muddy hole, and besmeared all my body with mud. I covered myself with leaves, and supporting myself on a stick, I advanced slowly.

The evening of the day came, and the place of rest was as yet distant. At the second watch of night I reached my fellow-travellers. I heard the venerable Teng calling out for me with a loud voice from outside the village. When we met together, he kindly gave me a robe, and I washed my body in a pond and then came into the village. Proceeding northwards for a few days from that village, we arrived first at Nalanda and worshipped the Root Temple (Mulagandhakuti), and we ascended the Gridhrakuta (Vulture) mountain, where we saw the spot on which the garments were folded. Afterwards we came to the Mahabodhi Vihara. . . .

From A Record of the Buddhist Religion as Practised in India and the Malay Archipelago (A.D. 671-695) by I-Tsing. Translated by J. Takakusu. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1896.

Liberate this article!

This article is available to subscribers only. Subscribe now for immediate access to the magazine plus video teachings, films, e-books, and more.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Log in.