Pataliputra to Bodha-gaya
To the south-east of the old city there is the Sangharama called K’iu-cha-’o-lan-mo (Kukkutarama), which was built by Ashoka-raja when he first became a believer in the religion of Buddha. It was a sort of first-fruit (preparation in planting the root of virtue), and a pattern of majestic construction (lofty building’). He gathered there a thousand priests; a double congregation of lay people and saints made their offerings of the four necessary things, and provided gratuitously all the articles for use. This building has long been in ruins, but the foundation walls are still preserved.
By the side of the Sangharama is a great stupa called 0-mo-lo-kia (Amalaka), which is the name of a fruit used as a medicine in India. King Ashoka having fallen sick and lingering for a long time, felt that he would not recover, and so desired to offer all his possessions (gems and valuables) so as to crown his religious merit (to plant high the field of merit). The minister who was carrying on the government was unwilling to comply with his wish. Some time after this, as he was eating part of an Amalaka fruit, he playfully 34 put the half of it (in the hand of the king) for an offering. Holding the fruit in his hand he said with a sigh to his minister,
“Who now is lord of Jambudvipa? “
The minister replied, “Only your majesty.”
The king answered, “Not so! ‘I am no longer lord; for I have only this half fruit to call my own ! Alas ! the wealth and honour of the world are as difficult to keep as it is to preserve the light of a lamp in the wind ! My wide-spread possessions, my name and high renown, at close of life are snatched from me, and I am in the hands of a minister violent and powerful. The empire is no longer mine; this half fruit alone is left! “
Then he commanded an attendant officer to come, and he addressed him thus:
“Take this half fruit and offer it in the garden (drama) of the cock (monastery] to the priests, and speak thus to the venerable ones, ‘He who was formerly lord of Jambudvipa, but now is master of only this half Amala fruit, bows down before the priests (chief priest). I pray you (on behalf of the King) receive this very last offering. All that I have is gone and lost; only this half fruit remains as my little possession. Pity the poverty of the offering, and grant that it may increase the seeds of his religious merit.’’
The Sthavira, in the midst of the priests, spoke thus in reply :
“Ashoka-raja by his former deeds may hope to recover. Whilst the fever has held his person, his avaricious ministers have usurped his power and amassed wealth not their own. But this offering of half a fruit will secure the king an extension of life.”
The king having recovered from his sickness gave large offerings to the priests. Moreover he ordered the manager of the affairs of the convent (Tin-see Karmmadana) to preserve the seeds 35 of the fruit in a vessel of liquid fit for the purpose, and he erected this stupa as a mark of gratitude for his prolonged life.
To the north-west of Amalaka stupa, in the middle of an old sangharama, is a stupa; it is called “establishing the sound of the ghanta (Kin-t’i).” At first there were about 100 sangharamas in this city; the priests were grave or, the stone or kernel. The be addressed to the other priests, Karmmadana is the steward of the and not to the messenger from the convent king. It appears to me that they and learned, and of high moral character. The scholars among the heretics were silent and dumb. But afterwards, when that generation of priests had died out, their successors were not equal to those gone before. Then the teachers of the heretics, during the interval, gave themselves to earnest study with a view to the mastery. Whereupon they summoned their partisans, numbering 1000 to 10,000, to assemble together within the priest’s precincts, and then they addressed them saying, with a loud voice, “ Strike loudly the ghanta and summon all the learned men ; let the foolish ones also stop and dispute ; if we are wrong, let them overthrow us “ (or, to overthrow their errors).
They then addressed the king and asked him to decide between the weak and the strong. And now the heretical masters were men of high talent and marked learning; the priests, although numerous, were weak in their points of verbal discussion.
The heretics said,
“We have got the victory ; from this time forth let no sangharama dare to sound the ghanta to call together a congregation.”
The king confirmed this result of the discussion, and, in agreement with it, bound the priests to the penalty. They on their part retired with shame and chagrin. For twelve years the ghanta was not sounded.
Nagarjuna Bodhisattva in Southern India
At this time lived (Na-kia-’o-la-chu-na) Nagarjuna Bodhisattva in Southern India, as a youth of high renown for scholarship. When grown up he assumed a lofty title. Giving up his home and its pleasures, he practiced himself in the acquisition of the deepest and most excellent principle of learning, and arrived at the first earth (the first degree). He had a great disciple called (Ti-po) Deva, a man illustrious for wisdom and spiritual energy. This man, arousing himself to action, said,
“At Vaisali the followers of learning (Buddhist learners) have been defeated in argument by the heretics, and now for twelve years, days, and months together, they have not sounded the ghanta. I am bold enough to wish to overturn the mountain of heresy and to light the torch of true religion.”
“The heretics of Vaishali are singularly learned; you are no match for them. I will go myself.”
“In order to trample down some rotten stems why should we overthrow a mountain? I am bold enough to think that by the instructions I have received I can silence all the heretics. But let my master assume the side of the heretics, and I will refute you according to the points of the thesis; and according as the question is decided, let my purpose to go or not be settled.”
Then Nagarjuna took the side of the heretics, and Deva set himself to overthrow his arguments. After seven days Nagarjuna lost his superiority (was defeated), and said with a sigh,
“False positions are easily lost; erroneous doctrines are defended with difficulty. You yourself can go; you will overthrow those men.”
Deva Bodhisattva’s early reputation being known tlo the heretics of Vaisali, they forthwith called an assembly, and went at once to the king, saying,
“ Maharaja! You formerly condescended to attend to us and bind the Sramanas, not to sound the ghanta. We pray you issue an order that no foreign Srarnana be allowed to enter the city, lest they should combine together to bring about an alteration in the former law.” The king consented to their request, and gave strict orders to his officers to carry it out (to spy narrowly).
Deva having come to the city, was not able to enter it; having understood the order, he made arrangements to change his garments, and wrapped up his kashaya, robe in a bundle of grass (shrubs) ; then tucking up his garments, he went straight on with his bundle on his back, and entered the city. Having come to the middle of the city, he threw away his grass bundle, put on his robes, and came to this sangharama, intending to stop there.
Knowing few people there, he had no place to lodge, and so he took up his night’s rest in the Ghanta Tower, and at early dawn he struck it (the ghanta) with all his might.
The people hearing it, on investigating the matter, found that the stranger of yester night was a travelling Bhikshu. Forthwith all the sangharamas repeated the sounds (of the ghanta).
The king hearing the noise, and inquiring about it closely, could not ascertain the origin of it all; coming to this sanghdrdma, they at length charged Deva with the deed. Deva answering said,
“The ghanta is struck to assemble the congregation ; if it is not used for that purpose, what use is it ? “
The king’s people answered,
“In former days the congregation of priests having been defeated in argument, it was decided the ghanta should not be sounded any more, and this is twelve years since.”
“Is it so ? Nevertheless, I venture to sound afresh the drum of the law.”
The messenger told the king saying,
“There is a strange Sramana who wishes to wipe out the former disgrace (of the priests).”
Then the king assembled the men of learning (the Buddhists), and said, by way of decree, “Whoever is defeated shall die, as a proof of his inferiority.”
Then the heretics came together with their flags and drums, and began to discuss together with respect to their opinions; each displayed the point of his argument to his best ability. Then Deva Bodhisattva, having mounted the preaching-throne, attending to their former arguments, and following each point, refuted them one by one. In less than one hour he refuted the sectaries, and the king and his ministers being satisfied, raised this venerable monument in honour of his extreme virtue (reverence).
An old foundation of the dwelling place of a Brahman
To the north of the stupa built where the ghanta was sounded is an old foundation. This was the dwelling place of a Brahman that was inspired by demons. At the beginning there was in this city a Brahman who had constructed for himself a hut in a wild and desert spot far from the haunts of men; he sacrificed to demons, seeking religious merit. By the assistance of such spiritual connection he discoursed in a high tone and disputed with eagerness. The report (echo) of his eloquent discourses resounded through the world. If any one came to propose a difficult question, he answered him after letting down a curtain. Old men of learning and of high talent could not wrest from him his precedence. Officers and people were silenced in his presence, and looked on him as a saint. At this time lived Asvaghosha Bodhisattva (0-shi-po-kiu-sha-pu-sa). His wisdom embraced all subjects, and in his career he had traversed the arguments of the three Vehicles (Little, Great, and Middle Vehicle? ). He constantly spoke (about the Brahman) thus:
“This Brahman is learned without a master; he is skilful without examining the ancients; he lives apart in the gloomy desert, and arrogates a great name. It is all done by the connivance of the evil spirits and the assistance of occult powers; this is the way he does it! Men, therefore, on account of his eloquence derived from the devil, are unable to reply, and exalt his renown and say he is invincible. I will go to his place, and see what all this means, and expose it.”
Forthwith he went to his cabin and addressed him thus:
“I have long felt respect for your illustrious qualities; pray keep up your curtain whilst I venture to express my mind to you.”
But the Brahman, maintaining an air of proud indifference, let down his curtain in order to reply, and to the end would not face his adversary.
Asvaghosha feeling in his heart the presence of the evil spirits, his feelings revolted, and he finished the discussion; but as he retired he said,
“I have found him out, and he shall be overthrown.”
Going straight-way to the king, he said,
“Pray condescend to permit me to propose a subject and discuss it with that lay- doctor!”
The king, hearing the request, said with feeling,
“Do you know your man? Unless well learned in the three vidyas and in the six supernatural faculties, who can discuss with him?”
Giving permission, he himself ordered his chariot in order to be present during the discussion, and to decide as to the victory.
Then Asvaghosha discoursed on the minute words of the three Pitakas, and alluded to the great principles of the five Vidyas, and nicely divided the length and breadth of his argument with a high and various discourse. Then the Brahman following in the argument, Ashvaghosha said,
“You have lost the thread of the subject. You must follow my points consecutively.”
The Brahman then was silent and closed his mouth.
Asvaghosha finding fault, said,
“Why do you not solve the difficulty? Call the spirits to your help to give you words as quickly as you can;”
And then he lifted up his curtain to see how he looked.
The Brahman, terrified, cried out, “Stop! stop!”
Asvaghosha, retiring, said,
“This doctor has forfeited his high renown. ‘A hollow fame lasts not long,’ as the saying is.”
The king answered and said,
“Without the eminent ability of a master, who can detect the errors of the ignorant? The acumen of the person who knows men casts honour on his ancestors, and shuts out possibility of superiority among his successors. The country has a standing rule that such a person should ever be honoured and remembered.”
An old ruined sangharama
Leaving the south-west angle of the city and going about 200 li, 38 there is an old ruined sangharama, by the side of which is a stupa which from time to time reflects a divine light and displays many miracles. This place is frequented by crowds from a distance and near by, who offer up their prayers in worship. There are traces where the four past Buddhas sat and walked to and fro.
Sangharama of Tiladaka
To the south-west of the old sangharama about 100 li is the sangharama of Tiladaka (Ti-lo-shi-kia). This building has four halls, belvideres of three stages, high towers, connected at intervals with double gates that open inwards (deeply]. It was built by the last descendant of Bimbisara-raja (Pin-pi-sha-lo). He made much of high talent and exalted the virtuous. Learned men from different cities and scholars from distant countries flock together in crowds, and reaching so far, abide in this sangharama. There are 1000 priests in it who study the Great Vehicle.
In the road facing the middle gate there are three vihdras, above which are placed the connected succession of metal rings (circles) with bells suspended in the air; below they are constructed storey above storey, from the bottom to the top. They are surrounded by railings, and the doors, windows, the pillars, beams, and staircases are all carved with gilt copper in relief, and in the intervals highly decorated. The middle vihara contains an erect image of Buddha about thirty feet high.
On the left is an image of Tara (To-lo) Bodhisattva; on the right, one of Avalokitesvara (Kwan-tsz’-tsai) Bodhisattva. Each of these images is made of metallic stone; their spiritually composed appearance inspires a mysterious awe, and their influence is felt from far (or, spreads far). In each vihara there is a measure of relics which emit a supernatural brilliancy, and from time to time shed forth miraculous indications.
A great mountain of blue-clouded marble
To the south-west of the Tiladaka sanghdrdma about 90 li we come to a great mountain of blue-clouded (variegated) marble, dark and tangled with wood. Here the divine Rishis dwell; poisonous snakes and savage dragons inhabit their dens, whilst numerous beasts and birds of prey dwell in the forests. On the top is a large and remarkable rock, on which is built a stupa about ten feet or so high. This is the place where Buddha entered on ecstatic meditation. Of old, when Tathagata descended as a spirit (to be born) he rested on this rock, and entered here the samdhi called “perfectly destroyed,” and passed the night so. Then the Devas and spiritual saints offered their offerings to Tathagata, and sounded the drums and heavenly music, and rained down great flowers. Tathagata leaving his ecstasy, the Devas all reverenced him, and raised a stupa composed of gold, silver, and precious stones. Now so long time has elapsed since then, that the precious substances are changed into stone. No one has visited the spot for ages; but looking at the mountain from a distance, one can see different kinds of beasts and snakes turning round it to the right. The Devas and Rishis and spiritual saints accompany them in a body, praising and worshipping.
On the eastern summit of the mountain there is a stupa. Here Tathagata formerly stood for a time beholding the country of Magadha.
A convent of Gunamati
To the north-west of the mountain 30 li or so, on a declivity of the mountain, is a sangharama; it is flanked by a high precipice, and the lofty walls and towers stand up in intervals of the rocks. The priests are about fifty in number, who all study the great Vehicle.
This is the place where Gunamati (Kiu-na-mo-ti) Bodhisattva overcame the heretic. In the early time there was in this mountain a heretic called Madhava (Mo-ta-po), who at first followed the law of the Sankhya (Seng-kie) system, and practised the acquirement of wisdom. He had studied to the bottom the doctrine of “the extreme void,” as found in the orthodox and erroneous (books). His fame was great, and surpassed that of former teachers, and outweighed all then living. The king honoured him exceedingly, and named him “the treasure of the country.” The ministers and people regarded him with admiration, and spoke of him as “the teacher of the household.” The learned men of the neighbouring countries acknowledged his merits and honoured his virtue, and compared him to the most eminent of his predecessors; a man, verily ! highly accomplished. He had as his means of subsistence two towns of the district, and the surrounding houses paid him for the privilege of building (tenant dues?).
At this time in Southern India there lived Gunamati Bodhisattva, who in his youth had displayed great talents and acquired in early life a brilliant reputation. By close study he had penetrated the meaning of the three Pitakas, and investigated the four truths. Hearing that M a d h a v a discussed on the most mysterious and subtle questions, he desired to humble him by overcoming him (in argument). He ordered one of his followers to carry a letter thus written (to his adversary):
“I have heard with all respect of Madhava’s virtuous ease. You must now, without thought of fatigue, take up again your ancient studies, for in three years’ time I intend to overthrow your brilliant reputation.”
And so in the second and third years he sent a messenger with the same tidings; and now when he was about to go to meet him, he again wrote a letter, saying:
“The appointed period has expired; your studies, such as they are, I am now coming (to investigate); you ought to know the fact.”
Madhava now was alarmed, and gave orders to his disciples and to the inhabitants of the towns: “From this time forth give no hospitality to the Sramana heretics; let this order be generally known and obeyed.”
At this time Gunamati Bodhisattva, with his staff in hand, arrived at the town of Madhava. The people who guarded the town, in agreement to the order, would give him no hospitality. 48 The Brahmans, moreover, deriding him, said, “What mean you by your shaven head and your singular dress ? Begone from this ! there is no place here for you to stop.”
Gunamati Bodhisattva desiring to overthrow the heretic, sought to remain the night in the town, and so he said with gentle words,
“You, in pursuing your worldly studies, observe a pure conduct. I also, in studying higher truth, observe a pure line of conduct. Our life being alike, 50 why do you exclude me? “
But the Brahmans would have no words with him, and only drove him from the place. Leaving the town, he went into a great forest in which savage beasts prowled about to destroy all passers-by. At this time there was a faithful brother who, fearing (the risk he ran from) the beasts and the prickly thorns, hastened to him, staff in hand. Having met him, he said to the Bodhisattva,
“In Southern India there is a Bodhisattva called Gunamati, of far-spread renown; because this man wants to come here to discuss principles of belief, the master of the town, being afraid of him and his fame, has strictly enjoined to give no shelter to the Sramanas, and because I am afraid lest some accident should happen to him, I have cone to accompany him in his journey, and to assure him of safety (that he may rest free from fear of the other)!’
“Most kind believer, I am Gunamati.”
The disciple having heard this, with the greatest reverence replied to Gunamati thus:
“If what you say be true, you must go quickly (onwards).”
Leaving the deep forest, they stopped awhile on the open plain; the faithful believer, following with his torch (?) and holding his bow, kept guard on the right and left. The (first) division of the night being past, he addressed Gunamati and said,
“It is better for us to go, lest men, knowing that you have come, should plot together to kill you.”
Gunamati, expressing his gratitude, said,
“I dare not disobey you! “
On this, following him, they came to the king’s palace and said to the door-keeper, there is a Sramana here who has come from a distance; he prays the king to agree in condescension to permit him to discuss with Madhava.
The king hearing the news, moved by his feelings, said,
“This man is bereft of reason,”
and then he ordered an officer to go to the place where Madhava was, with this royal order:
“There is a foreign Sramana come here who seeks to discuss with you. I have now ordered the hall for the discussion to be prepared and watered; I have told those in the neighbourhood and far off to await the usual arrangements after your coming. Pray condescend to come forthwith.”
Madhava asked the messenger of the king,
“This surely is the doctor Gunamati of South India.”
“ Yes,” he said, “ it is he.”
Madhava hearing this, his heart was very sad, but as he could not well avoid the difficulty, he set out for the hall of discussion, where the king, the ministers, and the people were all assembled desiring to hear this great controversy. Gunamati first laid down the principles of his school, and continued his speech till the setting of the sun. Then Madhava excusing himself on account of his age and infirmities, to defer his answer, asked permission to retire and meditate. He would then return and answer every objection (difficulty) in order. At the early morn he returned and ascended the throne, and so they went on to the sixth day, but on that day he vomited blood- and died. When on the point of death he gave this command to his wife,
“You have high talent; do not forget the affront paid to me.”
When Madhava was dead, she concealed the fact and had no funeral ceremonies; and clothing herself in shining apparel, she entered forthwith the assembly where the discussion was held, and a general clamor was raised as the people said one to another,
“Madhava, who boasted of his talents, is unable to reply to Gunamati, and so he sends his wife to make up for his deficiency.”
Gunamati, addressing the wife, said,
“He who could bind you, has been bound by me.”
Madhava’s wife, seeing the difficulty, retired. The king then said,
“What secret words are these at which she remains silent? “
“Alas! Madhava is dead!and his wife desires to come and discuss with me! “
The king said, “How know you this ? Pray explain it to me.”
Then Gunamati said, “When the wife came her face was pale as death, and her words were toned in bitter enmity. I knew therefore that Madhava is dead! ‘ Able to bind you,’ is a phrase applicable to her husband.”
The king having sent a messenger to verify the statement, he found it even so; then the king in gratitude said,
“The law of Buddha is a mysterious one! Eminent sages succeed one another without interruption; with no personal object they guard themselves in wisdom and use their secret knowledge for the purpose of converting (transforming the world). According to the old rules of the country the praises of such a sage (or, of your virtue) should be ever celebrated.”
“Whatever poor talents I have, I reserve them for the benefit of all that lives; and when I would draw them to the truth first of all I subdue their pride, then use the influences of converting power. Now then, in this case, king, let the descendants of Madhava’s territory for a thousand generations employ themselves in the service of a sanghdrdma. Your instructions will extend, then, from age to age, and your reputation will be immortal. Persons of a pure faith, conscious of protection, their religious merit will benefit the country for ages. They will be nourished as the priests are, and so the faithful will be encouraged to honour their virtue.”
On this he founded the sangharama to celebrate the victory.
At first, after the defeat of Madhava, six Brahmans (pure-lived men), fleeing to the frontiers, told the heretics of the reverse they had suffered, and they selected men of eminent talent with a view hereafter to wipe out their disgrace.
The king having a sincere respect for Gunamati, went in person, and addressed the following invitation to him:
“Now the heretics, not measuring their strength aright, have plotted together, and dare to sound the drum of discussion. Pray, sir, condescend to crush these heretics.”
Gunamati replied, “Let those who wish to discuss come together! “
Then the learned men among the heretics were rejoiced, and said, “We shall be sure of the victory today!” The heretics then laid down their principles with energy for the purpose of opening the discussion.
Gunamati Bodhisattva replied,
“Now those heretics who fled from the difficulty they were in of obeying the king’s command, these are mean men. What have I to do to discuss with and answer such persons?”
Then he added,
“There is a young servant here by the pulpit who has been accustomed to listen to these discussions. He is well acquainted with abstract questions from attending by my side and listening to the high language of the disputants.”
Then Gunamati, leaving the pulpit, said to the servant,
“Take my place, and carry on the discussion.”
Then all the assembly was moved with astonishment at this extraordinary proceeding. But the servant, sitting by the pulpit, immediately proceeded to examine the difficulties proposed. His arguments were clear like the water that wells from the fountain, and his points were true as the sound of the echo. After three replies the heretics were defeated, and once more they were obliged to hide their disgrace and clip their wings. From this time forth the sangharama endowed the endowment of the town and dwellings.
A convent of Shilabhadra
South-west of the convent of Gunamati about 20 li we come to a solitary hill on which is a convent called (the sangharama of) Silabhadra (Shi-lo-po-t’o-lo). This is the convent which the master of shastras after his victory caused to be built out of the funds of a village which were given up. It stands by the side of a single sharp crag like a stupa. It contains some sacred relics of Buddha. This master of shastras belonged to the family of the king of Samatata (San-mo-ta-ch’a), and was of the Brahman caste. He loved learning and had gained a wide reputation.
Travelling through the Indies to examine into and seek after religious truth, he came to this kingdom, and in the sangharama of Nalanda (Na-lan-t’o) he encountered Dharmapala Bodhisattva (Hu-fa-pu-sa). Hearing him explain the law, his understanding was opened, and he requested to become a disciple. He inquired into the most subtle questions, and investigated the way of deliverance to its conclusion; and thus having reached the highest point of intelligence, he established his fame over men of his time, even to distant countries.
There was a heretic of South India who delighted in examining profound questions and searching out hidden matters, in penetrating obscure and abstruse points of doctrine. Hearing of Dharmapala’s fame, the pride of self rose up within him, and, moved by profound envy, he passed over mountains and rivers in order to sound the drum and seek discussion. He said,
“I am a man of Southern India. It is reported that in the king’s country there is a great master of sdstras; I am but ignorant, yet I would wish to discuss with him.”
“It is true, as you affirm,”
the king said; and forthwith he sent a messenger to ask Dharmapala thus:
“There is a heretic of Southern India who has come from a long distance here, and desires to discuss with you. Will you condescend to come to the hall of assembly and discuss with him? “
Dharmapala having heard the tidings, gathered up his garments and went, whilst Shilabhadra and the inferior disciples surrounded him as he advanced. Then Shilabhadra (the chief disciple) addressed him thus:
“Whither guest thou so quickly?”
Dharmapala answered, “Since the sun of wisdom went down, and only the lamp of the inherited doctrine burns quietly, the heretics like clouds of ants and bees have risen ; therefore I am now going to crush that one in discussion.”
“As I have myself attended at various discussions, let me destroy this heretic.” Dharmapala, knowing his history, allowed him to have his way.
At this time Silabhadra was just thirty years old. The assembly, despising his youth, feared that it would be difficult for him alone to undertake the discussion. Dharmapala knowing that the mind of his followers was disturbed, hastened to relieve them and said,
“In honouring the conspicuous talent of a person we do not say, ‘He has cut his teeth’ (count his years according to his teeth). As I see the case before us now, I feel sure that he will defeat the heretic; he is strong enough.”
On the day of discussion (assembly for discussion) the people came together from far and near; both old and young in numbers assembled. Then the heretical teacher on his part laid open his case with great emphasis, and penetrated to the utmost the abstruse points (of his argument]. Silabhadra followed his arguments (principles), and refuted them by profound and subtle allegations. The heretic, his words being exhausted, was covered with shame and retired.
The king, in order to reward the virtue (of Silabhadra), gave him the revenues of this town as a bequest. The master of Shastras, declining the offer, said,
“A master who wears the garments of religion (dyed garments) knows how to be contented with little and to keep himself pure. What would he do with a town? “
The king in reply said,
“The King of the Law has passed into the obscure (abode), and the vessel of wisdom has been engulfed in the stream. If there are no distinctions now made (between the learned and ignorant), then no encouragement is given to the scholar to press forward in the attainment of religion. Pray, of your pity, accept my offering.”
The doctor, not persisting in his refusal, accepted the town and built this sangharama, vast and magnificent, and endowed it with the revenues of the town, as a means of providing it with the offerings necessary for religious service.