Description of Bodh-gaya
Going to the south-west of the sangharama of Silabhadra about 40 or 50 li, and crossing the Nairanjana River we come to the town of Gaya. This town is naturally strong (situated amid crags or precipices). It has but few inhabitants; there are about 1000 families of Brahmans only; they are the offspring (successors) of a Rishi. The king does not regard them as vassals and the people everywhere highly respect them.
To the north of the town 30 li or so there is a pure fountain of water. The tradition handed down in India is that it is called “holy water;” all who bathe or drink there of are cleansed from whatever defilement of sin they have.
To the south-west of the town 5 or 6 li we come to Mount Gaya (Kia-ye), with its somber valley, streams, and steep and dangerous crags. In India the name commonly given to this is the divine (spiritual) mountain. From old days it has been the custom for the ruling sovereign when he comes to the throne, with a view to conciliate his subjects at a distance and to cause his renown to exceed previous generations, to ascend (this mountain) and declare his succession with accompanying ceremonies (religious ceremonies). On the top of the mountain is a stupa about 100 feet high, which was built by Asoka-raja. Divine prodigies are exhibited by it, and a sacred effulgence often shines from it. In old days Tathagata here delivered the P’ao-yun and other sutras.
To the south-east of Mount Gaya is a stupa. This is the spot where Kashyapa (Kia-she-po) was born.
Gayakashyapa and Nadikashyapa’s fire-place
To the south of this stupa are two others. These are the spots where Gayakashyapa (Kia-ye-kia-she-po) and Nadikashyapa (Nai-ti-kia-she-po) sacrificed as fire-worshippers.
To the east of the place where Gayakashyapa sacrificed to fire, crossing a great river, we come to a mountain called Pragbodhi (Po-lo-ki-po-ti). Tathagata, after diligently seeking for six years and not yet obtaining supreme wisdom, after this gave up his penance and accepted the rice-milk (of Sujata). As he went to the north-east he saw this mountain that it was secluded and dark, whereupon he desired to seek enlightenment thereon.
Ascending the north-east slope and coming to the top, the earth shook and the mountain quaked, whilst the mountain Deva in terror spoke thus to Bodhisattva:
“This mountain is not the fortunate spot for attaining supreme wisdom. If here you stop and engage in the ‘Samadhi of diamond,’ the earth will quake and gape and the mountain be overthrown upon you.”
Then Bodhisattva descended, and half-way down the south-west slope he halted. There, backed by the crag and facing a torrent, is a great stone chamber. Here he sat down cross-legged. Again the earth quaked and the mountain shook. Then a Deva of the pure abode (Shuddhavasas) cried out in space,
“This is not the place for a Tathagata to perfect supreme wisdom. From this south- west 14 or 15 li, not far from the place of penance, there is a Pippala (Pi-po-lo) tree under which is ‘a diamond throne.’ All the past Buddhas seated on this throne have obtained true enlightenment, and so will those yet to come. Pray, then, proceed to that spot.”
Then Bodhisattva, rising up, the dragon dwelling in the cave said,
“This cave is pure and excellent. Here you may accomplish the holy (aim). Would that of your exceeding love you would not leave me.”
Then Bodhisattva having discovered that this was not the place for accomplishing his aim, to appease the dragon, he left him his shadow and departed. The Devas going before, led the way, and accompanied him to the Bddhi tree. When Asoka-raja came into power, he signalised each spot up and down this mountain which Bodhisattva had passed, by erecting distinguishing posts and stupas. These, though of different sizes, yet are alike in spiritual manifestations. Sometimes flowers fall on them from heaven; sometimes a bright light illumines the dark valleys. Every year, on the day of breaking up the season of Wass (Varshds), religious laymen from different countries ascend this mountain for the purpose of making religious offerings to the faithful. They stop one night and return.
The Bodhi tree
Going south-west from Mount Pragbodhi about 14 or 15 li, we come to the Bodhi tree. It is surrounded by a brick wall (a wall of piled bricks) of considerable height, steep and strong. It is long from east to west, and short from north to south. It is about 500 paces round. Eare trees with their renowned flowers connect their shade and cast their shadows; the delicate sha herb and different shrubs carpet the soil. The principal gate opens to the east, opposite the Nairaiijana River. The southern gate adjoins a great flowery bank. The western side is blocked up- and difficult of access (steep and strong). The northern gate opens into the great sangharama. Within the surrounding wall the sacred traces touch one another in all directions. Here there are stupas, in another place viharas. The kings, princes, and great personages throughout all Jambudvipa, who have accepted the bequeathed teaching as handed down to them, have erected these monuments as memorials.
Diamond throne (Vajrasana)
In the middle of the enclosure surrounding the Bodhi tree is the diamond throne (Vajrasana). In former days, when the Bhadra-kalpa was arriving at the period of perfection (vivartta), when the great earth arose, this (throne] also appeared. It is in the middle of the great chiliocosm; it goes down to the limits of the golden wheel (the gold circle), and upwards it is flush with the ground. It is composed of diamond. In circuit it is 100 paces or so.
On this the thousand Buddhas of the Bhadra-kalpa have sat and entered the diamond Samadhi; hence the name of the diamond throne. It is the place where the Buddhas attain the holy path (the sacred way of Buddhahood). It is also called the Bodhimanda. When the great earth is shaken, this place alone is unmoved. Therefore when Tathagata was about to reach the condition of enlightenment, and he went successively to the four angles of this enclosure, the earth shook and quaked; but afterwards coming to this spot, all was still and at rest. From the time of entering on the concluding portion of the kalpa, when the true law dies out and disappears, the earth and dust begin to cover over this spot, and it will be no longer visible.
After the Nirvdna of Buddha, the rulers of the different countries having learned by tradition the measurement of the diamond throne, decided the limits from north to south by two figures of Kwan-tsz’-tsai (Avalokiteshvara) Bodhisattva, there seated and looking eastward.
The old people say that “as soon as the figures of this Bodhisattva sink in the ground and disappear, the law of Buddha will come to an end.
The figure at the south angle is now buried up to its breast. The Bodhi tree above the diamond throne is the same as the Pippala tree.
In old days, when Buddha was alive, it was several hundred feet high. Although it has often been injured by cutting, it still is 40 or 50 feet in height. Buddha sitting under this tree reached perfect wisdom, and therefore it is called the (Samyak sambddhi} tree of knowledge (Pu-ti-JSodhi). The bark is of a yellowish-white colour, the leaves and twigs of a dark green. The leaves wither not either in winter or summer, but they remain shining and glistening all the year round without change. But at every successive Nirvana-day (of the Buddhas) the leaves wither and fall, and then in a moment revive as before. On this day (of the Nirvana?) the princes of different countries and the religious multitude from different quarters assemble by thousands and ten thousands unbidden, and bathe (the roots) with scented water and perfumed milk; whilst they raise the sounds of music and scatter flowers and perfumes, and whilst the light of day is continued by the burning torches, they offer their religious gifts.
After the Nirvana, of Tathagata, when Ashoka-raja began to reign, he was an unbeliever (a believer in heresy), and he desired to destroy the bequeathed traces of Buddha; so he raised an army, and himself taking the lead, he came here for the purpose of destroying (the tree). He cut through the roots; the trunk, branches, and leaves were all divided into small bits and heaped up in a pile a few tens of paces to the west of the place. Then he ordered a Brahman who sacrificed to fire to burn them in the discharge of his religious worship. Scarcely had the smoke cleared away, when lo! a double tree burst forth from the flaming fire, and because the leaves and branches were shining like feathers, it was called the “ashes Bodhi tree.” Asoka-raja, seeing the miracle, repented of his crime. He bathed the roots (of the old tree) with perfumed milk to fertilise them, when lo! On the morning of the next day, the tree sprang up as before. The king, seeing the miraculous portent, was overpowered with deep emotion, and himself offered religious gifts, and was so overjoyed that he forgot to return (to the palace). The queen, who was an adherent of the heretics, sent secretly a messenger, who, after the first division of night, once more put it down. Ashoka-raja in the morning coming again to worship at the tree, seeing only the mutilated trunk, was filled with exceeding grief. With the utmost sincerity he prayed as he worshipped; he bathed the roots with perfumed milk, and in less than a day again the tree was restored. The king, moved by deep reverence at the prodigy, surrounded the tree with a stone (brick) wall above 10 feet, which still remains visible.
In late times Sashanka-raja (She-shang-kia), being a believer in heresy, slandered the religion of Buddha, and through envy destroyed the convents and cut down the Bodhi tree, digging it up to the very springs of the earth; but yet he did not get to the bottom of the roots. Then he burnt it with fire and sprinkled it with the juice of the sugar-cane, desiring to destroy it entirely, and not leave a trace of it behind.
Some months afterwards, the king of Magadha, called Purnavarma (Pu-la-na-fa-mo), the last of the race of Ashoka-raja, hearing of it, sighed and said,
“The sun of wisdom having set, nothing is left but the tree of Buddha, and this they now have destroyed, what source of spiritual life is there now?”
He then cast his body on the ground overcome with pity; then with the milk of a thousand cows he again bathed the roots of the tree, and in a night it once more revived and grew to the height of some 10 feet. Fearing lest it should be again cut down, he surrounded it with a wall of stone 24 feet high. So the tree is now encircled with a wall about 20 feet high.
A vihara (Mahabodhi Temple)
To the east of the Bodhi tree there is a vihara about 160 or 170 feet high. Its lower foundation-wall is 20 or more paces in its face. The building (pile) is of blue tiles (bricks) covered with chunam (burnt stone, lime); all the niches in the different storeys hold golden figures. The four sides of the building are covered with wonderful ornamental work; in one place figures of stringed pearls (garlands), in other figures of heavenly Rishis. The whole is surrounded by a gilded copper Amalaka fruit. The eastern face adjoins a storyed pavilion, the projecting eaves of which rise one over the other to the height of three distinct chambers; its projecting eaves, its pillars, beams, doors, and windows are decorated with gold and silver ornamental work, with pearls and gems let in to fill up interstices. Its sombre chambers and mysterious halls have doors in each of the three storeys.
Niches like chambers
To the right and left of the outside gate are niches like chambers; in the left is a figure of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, and in the right a figure of Maitreya (T’se-shi) Bodhisattva. They are made of white silver, and are about 10 feet high.
History of Mahabodhi Temple
On the site of the present vihdra Ashoka-raja at first built a small vihara. Afterwards there was a Brahman who reconstructed it on a larger scale. At first this Brahman was not a believer in the law of Buddha, and sacrificed to Mahesvara. Having heard that this heavenly spirit (god) dwelt in the Snowy Mountains, he forthwith went there with his younger brother to seek by prayer (his wishes). The Deva said,
“Those who pray should aim to acquire some extensive religious merit. If you who pray have not this ground (of merit), then neither can I grant what you pray for.”
The Brahman said, “What meritorious work can I set about, to enable me to obtain my desire? “
The god said,
“If you wish to plant a superior root (growth] of merit, then seek a superior field (in which to acquire if). The Bodhi tree is the place for attaining the fruit of a Buddha. You should straightway return there, and by the Bodhi tree erect a large vihara, and excavate a large tank, and devote all kinds of religious offerings (to the service). You will then surely obtain your wishes.”
The Brahmans having received the divine communication, conceived a believing heart, and they both returned to the place. The elder brother built the vihara, the younger excavated the tank, and then they prepared large religious offerings, and sought with diligence their heart’s desire (vow). The result followed at once. The Brahman became the great minister of the king. He devoted all his emoluments to the work of charity. Having finished the vihara, he invited the most skilful artists to make a figure (likeness) of Tathagata when he first reached the condition of Buddha.
Years and months passed without result; no one answered the appeal. At length there was a Brahman who came and addressed the congregation thus:
“I will thoroughly execute (paint and mark} the excellent figure (or distinguishing points) of Tathagata.”
They replied, “For the purpose of doing this, what do you require?”
“Place in the vihara a pile of scented earth and a lighted lamp; then when I have gone in, fasten the doors. After six months you may open them again.”
Then the priests did as he directed. After four months, the six not being passed, the priests being astonished at the strange circumstance, opened the door to see what had happened. In the vihara they found a beautiful figure of Buddha in a sitting position, the right foot uppermost, the left hand resting, the right hand hanging down. He was sitting facing the east, and as dignified in appearance as when alive. The throne was 4 feet 2 inches high, and 12 feet 5 inches broad. The figure was n feet 5 inches high; the two knees were 8 feet 8 inches apart, and the two shoulders 6 feet 2 inches. The signs and marks (of a Buddha) were perfectly drawn. The loving expression of his face was like life, only above his right breast the material was not yet completely rounded off. Having seen no man, they were satisfied that this was a miracle, and all of them were filled with strong emotion (piteously sighed) as they diligently sought to find out the secret (earnestly inquired in order to know).
Now there was a Sramana who was passing the night there. He was of an honest and truthful heart, and being affected by the circumstance (just related), he had a dream, in which he saw the forementioned Brahman, who addressed him thus:
“I am Maitreya Bodhisattva. Fearing that the mind of no artist could conceive the beauty of the sacred features, therefore I myself have come to paint and delineate the figure of Buddha. His right hand hangs down in token that when he was about to reach the fruit of a Buddha, and the enticing Mara came to fascinate him, then the earth-spirits came to tell him thereof.
The first who came forth advanced to help Buddha to resist Mara, to whom Tathagata said, ‘Fear not! By the power of patience he must be subdued! ‘
Mara-raja said, ‘Who will bear witness for you? ‘Tathagata dropped his hand and pointed to the ground, saying, ‘Here is my witness.’
On this a second earth-spirit leapt forth to bear witness (to testify). Therefore the present figure is so drawn, in imitation of the old posture of Buddha.”
The brethren having understood this sacred miracle (spiritual reflection), were all moved with a tender emotion, and they placed above the breast, where the work was as yet unfinished, a necklace of precious stones and jewels, whilst on the head they placed a diadem of encircling gems, exceedingly rich.
Sashanka-raja having cut down the Bodhi tree, wished to destroy this image; but having seen its loving features, his mind had no rest or determination, and he returned with his retinue homewards. On his way he said to one of his officers,
“We must remove that statue of Buddha and place there a figure of Mahesvara.”
The officer having received the order, was moved with fear, and, sighing, said,
“If I destroy the figure of Buddha, then during successive kalpas I shall reap misfortune; if I disobey the king, he will put me to a cruel death and destroy my family; in either case, whether I obey or disobey, such will be the consequences; what, then, shall I do?”
On this he called to his presence a man with a believing heart (i.e., a believer in Buddha) to help him, and sent him to build up across the chamber and before the figure of Buddha a wall of brick. The man, from a feeling of shame at the darkness, placed a burning lamp (with the concealed figure); then on the interposing wall he drew a figure of (or, he made a figure of) Mahe6vara-deva.
The work being finished, he reported the matter. The king hearing it, was seized with terror; his body produced sores and his flesh rotted off, and after a short while he .died. Then the officer quickly ordered the intervening wall to be pulled down again, when, although several days had elapsed, the lamp was still found to be burning (un-extinguisher).
The figure still exists in its perfect state as it was made by the sacred art of the god. It stands in a dark chamber; lamps and torches are kept burning therein; but those who wish to see the sacred features cannot do so by coming into the chamber; they should in the morning reflect the sunlight by mear 6 of a great mirror on the interior of the room; the sacred marks may then be seen. Those who behold them find their religious emotions much increased.
Tathagata obtained complete enlightenment (Samyak sambodhi) on the eighth day of the latter half of the Indian month Vaishakha (Fei-she-kie), which is with us the eighth day of the third month. But the Sthavira School (Shang-tso-pu) says on the fifteenth day of the second half of Vaishakha, which corresponds with us to the fifteenth day of the third month. Tathagata was then thirty years old, or, according to others, thirty-five years.
Walking place of Buddha
To the north of the Bodhi tree is a spot where Buddha walked up and down. When Tathagata had obtained enlightenment, he did not rise from the throne, but remained perfectly quiet for seven days, lost in contemplation. Then rising, he walked up and down during seven days to the north of the tree; he walked there east and west for a distance of ten paces or so. Miraculous flowers sprang up under his foot-traces to the number of eighteen.
Afterwards this space was covered in by a brick wall about three feet high. According to the old belief, these holy traces thus covered in, indicate the length or shortness of a man’s life. First of all, having offered up a sincere prayer, then count the measurement (or, pace the distance and measure); according as the person’s life is to be long or short, so will the measurement be greater or less.
A large stone
On the left side of the road, to the north of the place where Buddha walked, is a large stone, on the top of which, as it stands in a great vihara, is a figure of Buddha with his eyes raised and looking up Here in former times Buddha sat for seven days contemplating the Bodhi tree; he did not remove his gaze from it during this period, desiring thereby to indicate his grateful feelings towards the tree by so looking at it with fixed eyes.
A large vihara
Not far to the west of the Bodhi tree is a large vihara in which is a figure of Buddha made of teou-shih (brass), ornamented with rare jewels; he stands with his face to the east. Before it is a blue stone with wonderful marks upon it and strangely figured. This is (the place where) Buddha sat on a seven-gemmed throne made by Sakra Deva-raja when Brahma-raja built a hall for him of seven precious substances, after he had arrived at complete enlightenment. Whilst he thus sat for seven days in reflection, the mysterious glory which shone from his person lit up the Bodhi tree. From the time of the holy one till the present is so long that the gems have changed into stone.
A Ashoka stupa about 100 feet high
Not far to the south of the Bodhi tree is a stupa about IOO feet high, which was built by Ashoka-raja. Bodhisattva having bathed in the Nairanjana river, proceeded towards the Bodhi tree. Then he thought,
“What shall I do for a seat? I will seek for some pure rushes when the day breaks.”
Then Sakra-raja (Shi) transformed himself into a grass-cutter, who, with his burden on his back, went along the road. Bodhisattva addressing him said,
“Can you give me the bundle of grass you are carrying on your back?”
The assumed grass-cutter, hearing the request, offered the grass with respect. Bodhisattva having received it went onwards to the tree.
Not far to the north of this spot is a stupa. Bodhisattva, when about to obtain enlightenment (the fruit of Buddha), saw a flock of blue birds rising up (rohin?) according to the lucky way. Of all the good omens recognised in India this is the most so.Therefore the Devas of the pure abodes (Suddhavdsas) accommodated their proceedings to the customary modes of the world, and caused the birds thus to encircle him as spiritually (miraculously) indicating his holiness.
Two stupas besides the great road
To the east of the Bddhi tree, on the left and right of the great road, there are two stupas (one on each side). This is the place where Mara-raj a tempted Bodhisattva. Bodhisattva, when on the point of enlightenment, was tempted by Mara to become a Chakravarttin (Lun-wang) monarch. On his refusing, he went away heavy and sorrowful. On this his daughters, asking him, went to try to entice the Bodhisattva, but by his spiritual power he changed their youthful appearance into that of decrepit old women. Then leaning together on their sticks they went away.
To the north-west of the Bodhi tree in a vihara is the image of Kasyapa Buddha. It is noted for its miraculous and sacred qualities. From time to time it emits a glorious light. The old records say, that if a man actuated by sincere faith walks round it seven times, he obtains the power of knowing the place and condition of his (former?) births.
Two brick chambers
To the north-west of the vihara of Kasyapa Buddha there are two brick chambers, each containing a figure of an earth-spirit. Formerly, when Buddha was on the point of obtaining enlightenment, Mara came to him, and each one (or one) became witness for Buddha. Men afterwards, on account of his merit, painted or carved this figure of him with all its points of excellence.
To the north-west of the wall of the Bodhi tree is a stupa called Yuh-kin-hiang (the saffron scent, Kunkuma); it is about 40 feet high; it was built by a merchant chief (sreshthi) of the country of Tsao-kiu-ch’u (Tsaukuta).
In old days there was a merchant-prince of this country who worshipped the heavenly spirits and sacrificed to them with a view to seek religious merit. He despised the religion of Buddha, and did not believe in the doctrine of “deeds and fruits.”
After a while, he took with him some merchants to engage in commercial transactions (to take goods for having or not having, i.e., for exchange). Embarking in a ship on the southern sea, a tempest arising, they lost their way, whilst the tumultuous waves encircled them. Then after three years, their provisions being gone and their mouths parched with thirst, when there was not enough to last the voyagers from morning till evening, they employed all their energies with one mind in calling on the gods to whom they sacrificed. After all their efforts no result followed (their secret desire not accomplished), when unexpectedly they saw a great mountain with steep crags and precipices, and a double sun gleaming from far. Then the merchants, congratulating themselves, said,
“We are fortunate indeed in encountering this great mountain; we shall here get some rest and refreshment.”
The merchant-master said,
“It is no mountain; it is the Makara fish; the high crags and scarped precipices are but its fins and mane; the double suns are its eyes as they shine.”
Scarce had he finished when the sails of the ship began to draw; on which the merchant-master said to his companions,
“I have heard say that Kwan-tsz’-tsai Bodhisattva is able to come to the help of those in difficulties and give them rest; we ought then with all faith to call upon that name.”
So with one accord and voice they paid their adorations and called on the name. The high mountains disappeared, the two suns were swallowed up, and suddenly they saw a Sramana with dignified mien and calm demeanor holding his staff, walking through the sky, and coming towards them to rescue them from shipwreck, and in consequence they were at their own country immediately.
Then because their faith was confirmed, and with a view not to lose the merit of their condition, they built a stupa and prepared their religious offerings, and they covered the stupa from top to bottom with saffron paste. After thus, conceiving a heart of faith, those who were like-minded resolved to pay their adoration to the sacred traces; beholding the Bodhi tree, they had no leisure for words about returning ; but now, a month having elapsed, as they were walking together, they said in conversation,
“Mountains and rivers separate us from our native country, and now as to the stupa which we built formerly, whilst we have been here, who has watered and swept it?”
On finishing these words and coming to the spot (where this stupa stands), they turned round in token of respect; when suddenly they saw a sttipa rise before them, and on advancing to look at it, they saw it was exactly like the one they had built in their own country. Therefore now in India they call it the Kunkuma stupa.
Stupa beside a Nyagrodh Tree
At the south-east angle of the wall of the Bodhi tree is a stupa by the side of a Nyagrodha (ni-ken-liu) tree. Beside it there is a vihara in which is a sitting figure of Buddha. This is the spot where the great Brahmadeva exhorted Buddha, when he had first acquired enlightenment, to turn the wheel of the excellent law.
A great stupa within the wall of Bodhi-tree
Within the walls of the Bodhi tree at each of the four angles is a great stupa. Formerly, when Tathagata received the grass of good omen (Santi), he walked on the four sides of the Bodhi tree from point to point; then the great earth trembled. When he came to the diamond throne, then all was quiet and peaceable again. Within the walls of the tree the sacred traces are so thick together that it would be difficult to recite each one particularly.
Old house of the two shepherd-girls
At the south-west of the Bodhi tree, outside the walls, there is a stupa; this is where the old house of the two shepherd-girls stood who offered the rice-milk to Buddha. By the side of it is another stupa where the girls boiled the rice; by the side of this stupa Tathagata received the rice.
A great tank
Outside the south gate of the Bodhi tree is a great tank about 700 paces round, the water of which is clear and pure as a mirror. Nagas and fishes dwell there. This was the pond which was dug by the Brahmans, who were uterine brothers, at the command of Mahesvara (Ta-thseu-thsai).
Still to the south there is a tank; formerly, when Tathagata had just acquired perfect enlightenment, he wished to bathe; then Sakra (Shi), king of Devas, for Buddha’s sake, caused a pond to appear as a phantom.
A great stone
On the west is a great stone where Buddha washed his robes, and then wished to dry them; on this, Sakra, king of Devas, brought this rock from the great Snowy Mountains.
By the side of this is a stupa; this is where Tathagata put on (?) the old garments offered him.
Still to the south in a wood is a stupa; this is where the poor old woman gave the old garments which Tathagata accepted.
Muchilinda’s lake and a small vihara
To the east of the pond which Sakra caused to appear, in the midst of a wood, is the lake of the Naga king Muchilinda (Mu-chi-lin-t’o). The water of this lake is of a dark blue colour, its taste is sweet and pleasant; on the west bank is a small vihara in which is a figure of Buddha. Formerly, when Tathagata first acquired complete enlightenment, he sat on this spot in perfect composure, and for seven days dwelt in ecstatic contemplation. Then this Muchilinda Naga-raja kept guard over Tathagata; with his folds seven times round the body of Buddha, he caused many heads to appear, which over-shadowed him as a parasol; therefore to the east of this lake is the dwelling of the Naga.
To the east of the tank of Muchilinda in a vihara standing in a wood is a figure of Buddha, which represents him as thin and withered away.
A Pippala tree
At the side of this is the place where Buddha walked up and down, about 70 paces or so long, and on each side of it is a Pippala tree.
Both in old times and now, among the better classes and the poor, those who suffer from disease are accustomed to anoint the figure with scented earth, on which they get cured in many cases. This is the place where Bodhisattva endured his penance. Here it was Tathagata subdued the heretics and received the request of Mara, and then entered on his six years’ fast, eating a grain of millet and of wheat each day; his body then became thin and withered and his face marred. The place where he walked up and down is where he took the branch of the tree (as he left the river) after his fast.
By the side of the Pippala tree which denoted the place of Buddha’s fast is a stupa; this is where Ajnata-Kaundinya and the rest, to the number of five, resided. When first the prince left his home, he wandered through the mountains and plains; he rested in forests and by wells of water. Then Suddhodana-raja ordered five men to follow him and wait on his person. The prince having entered on his penance, then Ajnata Kaundinya and the rest gave themselves also to a diligent practice of the same.
To the south-west of this spot there is a stupa. This is where Bodhisattva entered the Nairanjana river to bathe.
Bodhisattva received the rice-milk
By the side of the river, not far off, is the place where Bodhisattva received the rice-milk.
A stupa at merchant-offering place
By the side of this is a stupa where the merchant-prince (householder) offered him the wheat and honey. Buddha was seated with his legs crossed beneath a tree, lost in contemplation, experiencing in silence the joys of emancipation. After seven days he aroused himself from his ecstasy. Then two merchant-princes travelling by the side of the wood were addressed by the D6va of the place thus:
“The prince-royal of the Sakya family dwells in this wood, having just reached the fruit of a Buddha. His mind fixed in contemplation, he has for forty-nine days eaten nothing. By offering him whatsoever you have (as food} you will reap great and excellent profit.”
Then the two merchants offered some wheat-flour and honey from their travelling store. The World-honoured accepted and received it.
A stupa where Devas offered golden dish to Buddha
By the side of the merchant-offering place is a stupa. This is the spot where the four Deva-rajas presented (Buddha) with a patra. The merchant-princes having made their offering of wheat-flour and honey, the Lord thought with himself in what vessel he should receive it. Then the four Deva-rajas coming from the four quarters, each brought a golden dish and offered it. The Lord sat silently and accepted not the offerings, on the ground that such a costly dish became not the character of a hermit. The four kings casting away the golden dishes, offered silver ones; afterwards they offered vessels of crystal (po-ch’i), lapis-lazuli (liu-li), cornelian (ma-nao), amber (Jcu-ch’i), ruby (chin chu), and so on.
The Lord of the World would accept neither of them. The four kings then returned to their palaces and brought as an offering stone patras, of a deep blue colour and translucent. Again presenting these, the Lord, to avoid accepting one and rejecting the others, forthwith joined them all in one and accepted them thus. Putting them one within the other, he made one vessel of the four. Therefore may be seen the four borders on the outside of the rim (of the dish).
A stupa where Tathagat preached His mother
Not far from this spot is a stupa. This is the place where Tathagata preached the law for the sake of his mother. When Tathagata had acquired complete enlightenment, he was termed “the teacher of gods and of men.” His mother, Maya, then came down from heaven to this place. The Lord of the World preached to her according to the occasion, for her profit and pleasure.
A dry pool and a stupa
Beside this spot is a dry pool, on the border of which is a stupa. This is where in former days Tathagata displayed various spiritual changes to convert those who were capable of it.
A stupa where Kashyapas were converted
By the side of this spot is a stupa. Here Tathagata converted Uravilva-Kas’yapa (Yeu-leu-pin-lo-kia-she- po) with his two brothers and a thousand of their followers. Tathagata, for the purpose of following out his office as “illustrious guide,” according to his opportunity (or in a suitable way), caused him (i.e., Kashyapa) to submit to his teaching.
On this occasion, when 500 followers of Uravilva-Kas’yapa had requested to receive the instruction of Buddha, then Kashyapa said,
“I too with you will give up the way of error.”
On this, going together, they came to the place where Buddha was. Tathagata, addressing them, said,
“Lay aside your leather garments and give up your fire-sacrificing vessels.”
Then the disciples, in obedience to the command, cast into the Nairanjana River their articles of worship (service or use). When Nadi-Kashyapa (Nai-ti-kia-she-po) saw these vessels following the current of the river, he came with his followers to visit his brother. Having seen his conduct and changed behaviour, he also took the yellow robes. Gaya-Kasyapa also, with two hundred followers, hearing of his brother’s change of religion, came to the place where Buddha was, and prayed to be allowed to practise a life of purity.
A stupa where Tathagata overcame the fiery Naga
To the north-west of the spot where the Kasyapa brothers were converted is a stupa. This is the place where Tathagata overcame the fiery Naga to which Kasyapa sacrificed. Tathagata, when about to convert these men, first subdued the object of their worship, and rested in the house of the fiery Naga of the Brahmacharins. After the middle of the night the Naga vomited forth fire and smoke. Buddha having entered Samadhi, likewise raised the brilliancy of fire, and the house-cell seemed to be filled with fiery flames. The Brahmacharins, fearing that the fire was destroying Buddha, all ran together to the spot with piteous cries, commiserating his fate. On this Uravilva-Kasyapa addressed his followers and said,
“As I now gather (see), this is not a fire, but the Sramana subduing the fiery Naga.”
Tathagata having got the fiery dragon firmly fixed in his alms-bowl, on the morrow came forth holding it in his hand, and showed it to the disciples of the unbelievers.
A stupa at the place of the Nirvana of 500 pratyeka Buddha
By the side of this monument is a stupa, where 500 Pratyeka Buddhas at the same time entered Nirvana.
To the south of the tank of Muchilinda Naga is a stupa. This indicates the spot where Kasyapa went to save Buddha during an inundation. The Kasyapa brothers still opposing the divine method, all who lived far off or near reverenced their virtue, and submitted themselves to their teaching. The Lord of the World, in his character as guide of those in error, being very intent on their conversion, raised and spread abroad the thick clouds and caused the torrents to fall. The fierce waves surrounded the place where Buddha dwelt; but he alone was free from the flood. At this time Kasyapa, seeing the clouds and rain, calling his disciples, said,
“The place where the Shraman dwells must be engulfed in the tide!”
Embarking in a boat to go to his deliverance, he saw the Lord of the World walking on the water as on land; and as he advanced down the stream, the waters divided and left the ground visible. Kasyapa having seen (the miracle), his heart was subdued, and he returned.
The house of the blind Naga
Outside the eastern gate of the wall of the Bodhi tree, 2 or 3 li distant, there is the house of the blind Naga. This Naga, by the accumulated effect of his deeds during former existences, was born blind, as a punishment, in his present birth. Tathagata going on from Mount Pragbodhi, desired to reach the Bodhi tree. As he passed this abode, the eyes of the Naga were suddenly opened, and he saw Bodhisattva going on to the tree of intelligence (Bodhi). Then addressing Bodhisattva, he said,
“Virtuous master! Erelong you will become perfectly enlightened! My eyes indeed have long remained in darkness; but when a Buddha appears in the world, then I have my sight restored. During the Bhadra-kalpa, when the three past Buddhas appeared in the world, then I obtained light and saw (for a while); and now when thou, O virtuous one! didst approach this spot, my eyes suddenly opened; therefore I know that you shall become a Buddha.”
A stupa where Mara tried to frighten Bodhisattva.
By the side of the eastern gate of the wall of the Bodhi tree is a stupa. This is where Mara-raja tried to frighten Bodhisattva. When first Mara-raja knew that Bodhisattva was about to obtain perfect enlightenment, having failed to confuse him by his enticements or to terrify him by his arts, he summoned his host of spirits and arranged his demon army, and arrayed his soldiers, armed with their weapons, as if to destroy the Bodhisattva. On this the winds arose and the rains descended, the thunders rolled
in space and the lightning gleamed, as it lit up the darkness ; flames of fire and clouds of smoke burst forth ; sand and hailstones fell like lances, and were as arrows flying from the bow. Where upon the Bodhisattva entered the samadhi of “great love,” and changed the weapons of the host to lotus flowers. Mara’s army, smitten by fear, retreated fast and disappeared.
Two stupas built by Sakra
Not far from this are two stupas built by Sakra, king of Devas, and by Brahma-raja.
The Mahabodhi sangharama by King of Sinhala
Outside the northern gate of the wall of the Bodhi tree is the Mahabodhi sangharama. It was built by a former king of Sinhala (Ceylon.) This edifice has six halls, with towers of observation (temple towers) of three storeys; it is surrounded by a wall of defence thirty or forty feet high. The utmost skill of the artist has been employed; the ornamentation is in the richest colours (red and blue).
The statue of Buddha is cast of gold and silver, decorated with gems and precious stones. The stupas are high and large in proportion, and beautifully ornamented; they contain relics of Buddha. The bone relics are as great as the fingers of the hand, shining and smooth, of a pure white colour and translucent. The flesh relics are like the great true pearl, of a bluish-red tint.
Every year on the day of the full moon of (the month wJien) Tathagata displayed great spiritual changes; they take these relics out for public exhibition. On these occasions sometimes a bright light is diffused, sometimes it rains flowers. The priests of this convent are more than 1000 men; they study the Great Vehicle and belong to the Sthavira (Shang-tso-pu) school. They carefully observe the Dharma Vinaya, and their conduct is pure and correct.
Story of the king of Ceylon
In old days there was a king of Ceylon, which is a country of the southern sea, who was truthful and a believer in the law of Buddha. It happened that his brother, who had become a disciple of Buddha (a houseless one), thinking on the holy traces of Buddha, went forth to wander through India. At all the convents he visited, he was treated with disdain as a foreigner (a frontier countryman). On this he returned to his own country.
The king in person went out to a distance to meet him, but the Sramana was so affected that he could not speak. The king said,
“What has so afflicted you as to cause this excessive grief?”
The Sramana replied,
“I, relying on the dignity of your Majesty’s kingdom, went forth to visit the world, and to find my way through distant regions and strange cities. For many years all my travels, during heat and cold, have been attended with outrage, and my words have been met with insults and sarcasm. Having endured these afflictions, how can I be light-hearted?”
The king said, “If these things are so, what is to be done?”
He replied, “In truth, I wish your Majesty in the field of merit would undertake to build convents throughout all India. You would thus signalise the holy traces, and gain for yourself a great name; you would show your gratitude for the advantage derived from your predecessors, and hand down the merit thereof to your successors.”
He replied, “ This is an excellent plan; how have I but just heard of it?”
Then he gave in tribute to the king of India all the jewels of his country. The king having received them as tribute, from a principle of duty and affection to his distant ally, he sent messengers to say, “What can I now do in return for the decree ? “
The minister said, “The king of Sinhala salutes the king of India (Maha Sri raja). The reputation of the Maharaja has spread far and wide, and your benefits have reached to distant regions. The Sramanas of this inferior country desire to obey your instructions and to accept your transforming influences. Having wandered through your superior country in visiting the sacred traces, I called at various convents and found great difficulty in getting entertainment, and so, fatigued and very much worn by affronts, I returned home. I have therefore formed a plan for the benefit of future travelers; I desire to build in all the Indies a convent for the entertainment of such strangers, who may have a place of rest between their journey there and back. Thus the two countries will be bound together and travelers be refreshed.”
The king said, “I permit your royal master to take (for this purpose) one of the places in which Tathagata has left the traces of his holy teaching.”
On this the messenger returned home, having taken leave of the king, and gave an account of his interview. The ministers received him with distinction and assembled the Sramanas and deliberated as to the foundation of a convent. The Sramanas said,
“The (Bodhi) tree is the place where all the past Buddhas have obtained the holy fruit and where the future ones will obtain it. There is no better place than this for carrying out the project.”
Then, sending all the jewels of the country, they built this convent to entertain priests of this country (Ceylon), and he caused to be engraved this proclamation on copper, “To help all without distinction is the highest teaching of all the Buddhas; to exercise mercy as occasion offers is the illustrious doctrine of former saints. And now I, unworthy descendant in the royal line, have undertaken to found this sangharama, to enclose the sacred traces, and to hand down their renown to future ages, and to spread their benefits among the people. The priests of my country will thus obtain independence, and be treated as members of the fraternity of this country. Let this privilege be handed down from generation to generation without interruption.”
For this cause this convent entertains many priests of Ceylon.
Numerous sacred traces
To the south of the Bodhi tree 10 li or so, the sacred traces are so numerous that they cannot be each named. Every year when the Bhikshus break up their yearly rest of the rains, religious persons come here from every quarter in thousands and myriads, and during seven days and nights they scatter flowers, burn incense, and sound music as they wander through the district and pay their worship and present their offerings. The priests of India, according to the holy instruction of Buddha, on the first day of the first half of the month Sravana enters on Wass. With us this is the sixteenth day of the fifth month; they give up their retreat on the fifteenth day of the second half of the month Asvayuja, which is with us the fifteenth day of the eighth month.
In India the names of the months depend on the stars, and from ancient days till now there has been no change in this. But as the different schools have translated the accounts according to the dialects of the countries without distinguishing one from the other, mistakes have arisen, and as a consequence contradictions are apparent in the division of the seasons. Hence it is in some places they enter on Wass on the sixteenth day of the fourth month, and break up on the fifteenth day of the seventh month.