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The Real Tripitaka and Other Pieces
PARTS I AND II of this book (The Real Tripitaka and Ennin and Ensai) are here printed for the first time. Some of the other pieces have appeared in The Cornhill, Horizon, Lilliput, Ballet and Rider's Review. The Lady Who Loved Insects was published in a limited edition by the Blackmore Press in 1929, but has long been out of print. I should explain that in deference to the wishes of the printer an ordinary S has been used instead of S with a dash over it in words like Siva.
My book, down to page 265, is addressed to the general reader, who may also find the list of translations of Buddhist texts (page 279) useful. The remaining few pages (additional notes, etc.) will enable the specialist to check and criticize my statements, and in some cases to follow up and improve upon my results.
TO ANNA BONER
READERS of the Chinese novel Monkey, which I translated some years ago, have often asked where they could find out more about the real and historic Tripitaka, the pilgrim whose legendary adventures are the subject of the novel. On looking into the matter I found that almost everything European writers have said about him is taken, directly or indirectly, from an incomplete and very imperfect French translation of his biography by Stanislas Julien, published nearly a hundred years ago. Numerous other Chinese sources had, I found, never been used at all. The following is not, however, an attempt to set down everything that can be discovered about the great pilgrim and his travels. I have merely tried to give the general reader a brief outline of the historical (as opposed to the legendary) Tripitaka's career.
He was born in A.D. 602 as the fourth child in a family of fairly high officials. When he was twelve a grand ordination of new Buddhist monks was held at Lo-yang.1Tripitaka's elder brother Ch'ang-chieh was already a monk and Tripitaka longed for the time when he would be old enough to join him at the Pure Land Monastery. On the occasion of this great ordination he was found by Cheng Shan-kuo, the lay official in charge of the proceedings, loitering wistfully at the gates of the public building where the ceremony was to take place. Cheng got into conversation with him, was touched by his eager piety and despite his extreme youth accepted him for ordination. For the next five years Tripitaka lived with his brother at the Pure Land Monastery. In 618 a new dynasty, that of the T'ang, had set up its capital at Ch'ang-an, in the north-west. Conditions in Central China were still very disturbed, and Tripitaka persuaded his brother that it would be better to settle at Ch'ang-an, where law and order had already been restored. It turned out, however, that at Ch'ang-an handbooks of military strategy were the only literature that was studied; 'no one had time for Buddhism or Confucianism.' Most of the Buddhist teachers who had been prominent under the late regime had fled to Ch'eng-tu, far away to the south-west. Tripitaka persuaded his brother that it would be a waste of time to stay any longer at Ch'ang-an. They went first to Han-chung, about 130 miles south-west of Ch'ang-an, and here to their delight they found two learned monks, refugees from Ch'ang-an, with whom they studied for several weeks. At Ch'eng-tu, which had remained unaffected by the famine that had swept over the rest of China, they found a great concentration of Buddhist teachers who had taken refuge there from far and wide. It was a unique opportunity for study and Tripitaka worked unceasingly at every branch of Buddhist knowledge during 620 to 622. But in the autumn of that year he came to the conclusion that he had learnt all that his present masters could teach him and he decided to go back to Ch'ang-an and get fresh opinions about points concerning which he was in doubt. His brother Ch'ang-chieh tried to dissuade him. Ch'ang-chieh had in fact every reason for wishing to stay where he was. He had made a great impression at Ch'eng-tu, not only because of his learning (he could discourse with equal eloquence upon the Buddhist texts, Chinese history and Taoist philosophy), but also because of his personal beauty, which was so striking that whenever he went out into the town people stopped their carriages to look at him.
The Commander-General of Ch'eng-tu, Wei Yun-ch'i, famous for his victory over the Khitans in 605, and several other high officers made friends with the young monk and treated him with great deference. Unable to persuade his brother to go with him, Tripitaka joined a company of merchants, went by boat down the Chia-ling river to the Yangtze and down the Yangtze to Kingchow. Here he was asked to lecture on Buddhist philosophy, and among his hearers was the Emperor's cousin, the Prince of Han-yang, who was then GovernorGeneral of Kingchow. The prince was deeply impressed and loaded Tripitaka with presents, all of which he gave back. He then turned north, submitted a series of questions to a learned monk named Hui-hsiu at Hsiang-chou (the An-yang of modern times, where so many important archaeological discoveries have been made) and then proceeded to Chaochou, somewhat farther north, where he studied Harivarman's Satyasiddhi sa-stra under the monk Tao-shen. He must have found this work rather confusing, as it gives an account of the Universe which differs considerably from that given in the texts he had already studied. Thus he had learnt that there are a hundred different kinds of things, physical and mental. But the Satyasiddhi (or at any rate its interpreters) rearranged things into eighty-four categories. From Chaochou he went west and was soon hard at work again in Ch'ang-an. Things had begun to settle down; the military were not so prominent and many famous Buddhist teachers were holding classes. But most of them specialized in the Maha-ya-na Samgraha, which he had studied exhaustively in the south. He had now spent some fifteen years studying Buddhist philosophy and had mastered the doctrines of all the principal schools. The time had come for him to choose what was to be his own personal belief. He decided that only in India, the home of Buddhism, would he be able to find teachers who would once and for all put an end to his perplexities. So at any rate his biographers tell us. But Tripitaka knew well enough that in India the number of sects and schools was even greater than in China. Obviously, for a variety of reasons, Indian teachers spoke with greater authority; but this, so far from solving his dilemma, would only make it the more acute.
However, to a certain extent he had already made up his mind. We are told that one of his main objects in going to India was to get the Sanskrit text of the Yoga Sa-stra, a gigantic compendium of Idealist philosophy, of which only certain portions had hitherto reached China. It would seem that he was already veering towards the Yoga School, which (in the words of a rather later pilgrim) taught that 'the Outside does not exist, but the Inside does. All things are mental activities only'. To use a modern illustration: sometimes we think that odd noises we hear on the telephone were made by the distant person to whom we are talking when in reality they are due to a defect in our own receiving apparatus. According to the Yoga School, all our beliefs about the outside world, and its existence as apart from Mind, are misinterpretations rather of that kind. The later pilgrim's definition is, however, only a rough, popular description of the School's main belief. There were numerous sub-Schools and varieties of interpretation.
It was unlawful to leave China without obtaining the permission of the Government. Whether this applied to monks as well as to laymen was an open question. The Government did not want to lose trained officials or agricultural labourers, but it was less concerned about monks, who were in any case, economically speaking, a burden to the community. Long afterwards, when Tripitaka returned from India and apologized for having left China without leave, the Emperor (as we shall see) took the view that permission was not necessary. 'Your case, as a monk, was quite different from that of laymen', he said. Tripitaka did indeed apply for permission, partly no doubt because he believed that it was necessary to do so, and partly also because he hoped for official support for his mission, in the shape of credentials, escort, supplies and so on, which would greatly facilitate his journey. His application, however, was 'intercepted by officials' and never passed on to the proper authority. What happened, I think, was this. The virtual head of the Government at this time was a certain Hsiao Yu (A.D.574-6 47), who was a fervent Buddhist and even at one time applied for permission to retire from public life and become a monk. He spent his leisure at monasteries, discussing Buddhist philosophy. He met Tripitaka and became convinced that the young man had a great future before him. Hsiao Yu's brother Hui-ch'uan was a monk at the Chuang-yen monastery in Western Ch'ang-an. Tripitaka was living at the Ta-chio monastery, some distance away, and Hsiao Yu proposed that Tripitaka should move to the Chuang-yen. There is, I think, little doubt that it was Hsiao Yu himself who, anxious to have Tripitaka at hand to clear up points about the Eighteen Kinds of Nothing, the Stored Consciousness (A-layavijna-na) and the like, held up his request for a passport. Tripitaka made up his mind to go to India without permission and without official support. He knew that under these circumstances the journey would be a difficult one and to make sure that he was capable of facing the ordeals that awaited him, he submitted himself to a series of endurance tests, experimenting (we are told) with 'every hardship known to man'. He also went to various foreigners in Ch'angan for language lessons, learning perhaps the necessary traveller's phrases in Tocharian and some north Indian vernacular.
It happened that owing to untimely frosts the harvest had failed and a decree was issued ordering both monks and laymen to disperse so far as possible to parts of China that were relatively less affected. Taking advantage of this general dispersal, in the autumn of 629, he set out for the West. Before starting he dreamt that he saw Mount Sumeru, the King of Mountains, standing in the midst of the Great Sea. It was made of gold, silver, beryl and crystal and was of supreme beauty. He longed to cross the Sea and climb the mountain, but there was no boat or raft. Not at all intimidated he walked straight into the water. Under his foot there sprang up at once a lotus made of stone. No sooner did he stand upon it than it vanished and reappeared a few feet ahead of him. In this way, from stepping-stone to stepping-stone, he walked dry-footed to the base of the magic mountain. But when he tried to climb it he found that the sides were too steep; again and again he lost his foothold and slid down towards the Sea. Then suddenly a great wind buffeted against him and bore him straight up to the mountain-top. Vast spaces opened all around him, coloured by the mountain's golden glint. This dream gave him great encouragement.
STARTS ON HIS JOURNEY
At Liang-chou in western Kansu he was asked to expound the Scriptures and stayed for some weeks. The place was thronged by merchants from Central Asia and beyond the Pamirs. They were deeply impressed by Tripitaka's explanations of the Scripture of the Great Decease (Nirva-na Su-tra) and other books, and carried back to their countries enthusiastic accounts of him, which greatly facilitated his subsequent travels. The officials at Liang-chou had come rather tardily to the conclusion that monks as well as laymen needed official permission to leave China. Tripitaka was already at Kua-chou, the next large town to the west, when a warrant for his arrest was issued. Fortunately it fell into the hands of a Government clerk at Kua-chou who happened to be a devout Buddhist. He took the warrant to Tripitaka and tore it to shreds before his face, but naturally advised him to get away from Kua-chou as quickly as possible. The casual companions, monks and laymen, whom he had picked up during his journey, had all left him, and he badly needed someone to guide him safely across the Chinese frontier. He was praying (in the most literal sense) for guidance, in the Buddhahall of the monastery where he was staying, when a Central Asian came in, said his prayers to Buddha and then hung about near where Tripitaka was praying. They got into conversation. The man said his name was Bandha, and that he wanted to take the Five Vows--that is to say, not to become a full monk, but a kind of dedicated layman. Tripitaka administered the vows and Bandha presently reappeared with a gift of cakes and fruit. Tripitaka told him of his predicament and it turned out that his new disciple knew the way and was willing to act as guide.
They were to meet next day, but the morning and the afternoon went by without any sign of Bandha. At last, 'when the sun was down among the grass', Bandha appeared, followed by an aged Central Asian riding a skinny roan horse. Thinking that this old gentleman might prove a very inconvenient addition to the party, Tripitaka was much annoyed. The modern equivalent of Bandha--the chauffeur who at the last moment produces an uncle or grandfather who is apparently destined to occupy the only comfortable seat in the car, is familiar to all travellers. It turned out, however, that on this occasion 'uncle' had come nominally to give advice about the demons and other perils that would be encountered (he had been across the desert to Hami thirty times), but more immediately to plant upon Tripitaka the skinny roan horse, which was said to know the way almost as well as its master. It suddenly occurred to Tripitaka that a fortune-teller at Ch'ang-an had said to him: 'I see you leaving China on a skinny roan horse. You are riding on a lacquered saddle with an iron stud in front of the saddle-hump.' As uncle's horse and saddle were exactly as described, Tripitaka agreed to exchange horses, and the old man (who had, I suspect, made a scandalously good bargain) went off in high spirits. Tripitaka and Bandha, having ridden till darkness fell, spread their saddle-cloths on the ground and went to sleep. Shortly afterwards Tripitaka woke up, to find that Bandha was creeping towards him, knife in hand. He was about ten paces away, when he turned back and lay down again on his mat. Tripitaka got up and very naturally began praying to Kuan-yin, who protects us against robbers and assassins, and continued to do so till it seemed certain that his companion was again fast asleep. It must have been a considerable relief to him when Bandha announced next day, after they had walked a mile or two, that he had changed his mind. He could not risk crossing the frontier illicitly; his family responsibilities were too great. Tripitaka said he must do as he thought best. 'Yes, but if you go on alone and are caught,' said Bandha, 'the first thing you will do is to try to get off by putting the blame on me. ''I swear', said Tripitaka solemnly, 'that sooner will I suffer myself to be torn to small shreds than bring you into this business.' And he called 'heaven and earth, the moon and the stars' to bear witness to his words.
HE LEAVES CHINA
He set off alone. Suddenly the whole desert became peopled with swarms of barbarian riders, some on horseback, some on camels. But while he looked at them the shapes blended and changed, soon losing all solidity, and when he came level with them, vanishing altogether. They were the terrifying apparitions for which this desert is famous. Soon, however, he heard a voice in the sky saying, 'Do not be afraid, do not be afraid I' and emboldened by it was able to pick his way with indifference amid the phantom throngs.
He tried to slip past the first frontier 'beacon post' under cover of night. He was seen and shot at by the bowmen on guard; but when he came boldly forward, calling out that he was a monk, he was well received and taken to see the captain of the post, a well-meaning man who told Tripitaka he would never succeed in getting to India. If he wanted instruction in Buddhism he had far better go to Tun-huang, only a day's journey away, and consult the monk Chang-chiao, who was extremely learned. 'I am a Tun-huang man myself', the captain explained. Tripitaka was obliged to point out that he had been coached by all the best Masters in Central China and would hardly be able to learn anything fresh 'at this Tun-huang of yours'. The captain did not press the point, but instead gave Tripitaka provisions for his further desert crossing and an introduction to the officer at the next frontier post.
After he had successfully passed this next post a terrible disaster overtook him. He upset his water-container and lost the whole supply intended to last till he was across the desert. He was without water for four nights and five days.2 But this terrible experience was his last real privation during the course of his journey to India. At Hami he fell in with envoys from the kingdom of Turfan, farther west. The dynasty that ruled Turfan was founded by a Chinese from western Kansu about A.D. 504. The government and institutions were modelled on those of China: but there was much less bureaucratic machinery (filing of papers and so on) and the king and his sons dealt personally with legal disputes. In the Audience Hall was a picture of 'the Duke of Lu asking Confucius about Government'. There was a college where the Confucian Classics were taught, but the sounds attached to the ideograms were native Turfanese words, not Chinese sounds.3 As in China, however, Buddhism existed alongside of Confucianism, and when the king of Turfan heard that Tripitaka was on his way, he sent an escort to meet him, and when he arrived wanted to install him as head of the Buddhist Church in Turfan. When every species of petting and cajolery had failed to induce Tripitaka to give up his Indian project, the king lost his temper and shouted, 'You'll either stay here or be sent back to China. So think it over!' Tripitaka hunger-struck for three days and this, on top of his previous hardships, reduced him to such a state of weakness that the king became alarmed, and decided to let him go, on condition that he stayed three years in Turfan on his way back. The king, however, died in 640 and Tripitaka, on his return from India in 645, found as we shall see that the kingdom of Turfan had ceased to exist.
Having reconciled himself to Tripitaka's departure the king equipped him for the journey in a truly royal fashion. He was given a hundred ounces of gold, thirty thousand 'silver coins', and five hundred rolls of silk--a provision reckoned as sufficient to keep him for twenty years. He was allotted thirty horses, twenty-five men-servants and four monks-in-attendance. He was also given letters of recommendation, along with suitable gifts, to the rulers of twenty-four countries.4 Henceforward, though a journey across the Pamirs can never in any circumstances be lacking in hardship and danger, he travelled as comfortably and as safely as the conditions of the time permitted. His escort was large enough to make bandits at any rate accept a compromise. On the way to Kharashahr his party was confronted by a band of robbers, but was able to bribe it to withdraw. A different fate awaited some Central Asian merchants who had joined Tripitaka's caravan. Anxious to skim the cream of the market they went on ahead, met bandits and were killed to a man.
At Kucha, a little farther on, Tripitaka had his first experience of what he regarded as heretical Buddhists-followers of the Hi-naya-na (the Lesser Vehicle). In doctrine they were most of them Materialists; that is to say, they believed that the outside world--the things we smell, hear, feel and so on--really exists, whereas Tripitaka (as we have seen) thought that the world is merely a series of misconceptions originating in consciousness and having no real existence of their own. They were not vegetarians, though the pretence had to be kept up that what they ate had not been killed specially for their consumption. Great Vehicle (Maha-ya-na) monks, such as Tripitaka, of course read the Little Vehicle scriptures, just as Christians read the Old Testament; but they regarded them as containing doctrines that were only gradual steps towards the final truths that are taught in the Great Vehicle (Maha-ya-na) books. There were no separate Little Vehicle monasteries 'in China. The five thousand monks at Kucha were all Hi-naya-nists and when Tripitaka was entertained by the king of the country, he was naturally offered meat. To the king's astonishment he would not eat it. 'I know that your Gradual Teachings leave it open to you to do so. But I have learnt the Great Vehicle which teaches otherwise.'
The great pundit of the place, a certain Mokshagupta, was at first inclined to treat Tripitaka rather contemptuously, as an ordinary visitor rather than as a fellow-philosopher. When he heard that he was going to India he told him that he would find everything he could possibly want 'here at Kucha'; and proceeded to name a number of common Little Vehicle books, all of which had long been known in China. 'But have you the Yoga Sa-stra?' asked Tripitaka. 'Why should you want a heretical book like that?' asked Mokshagupta. 'No true follower of Buddha studies it.' This horrified Tripitaka. 'Are you not aware,' he said, 'that the Yoga Sa-stra was preached by Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future, and that by calling it heretical you risk being cast into the nethermost pit of Hell?' Accused by Mokshagupta of never having really understood the profundities of the Little Vehicle, Tripitaka proceeded to turn the tables by cross-examining Mokshagupta about the meaning of a number of passages in the Abhidharma-kosa, that great compendium of Buddhist philosophy. It was quite evident that he did not understand them. Finally Mokshagupta, very much put out, denied that a passage quoted by Tripitaka occurred in the Kosa at all. The king's uncle, a distinguished monk, was sitting close by, and confirmed that the passage quoted did actually occur in the text; he even fetched a copy of the Kosa and found the passage. It must have been a considerable relief to Mokshagupta when this pert young Chinese intellectual set out for Tokmak, at that time in the hands of the Western Turks. On the way, Tripitaka had another narrow escape. His party encountered a band of about two thousand Turkish bandits. But it so happened that they were quarrelling about the division of a haul they had recently made, and showed no interest in Tripitaka's caravan.
The party then entered the T'ien Shan range, at this point some forty miles wide, by the Bedel Pass and travelled through the mountains for seven days. Over a third of the escort and an even higher proportion of their animals 'died of hunger or cold'. This implies that some specific disaster, such as an avalanche or ice-fall, must have befallen them. A well-equipped and well-provisioned party would not normally suffer losses on this scale, on a route that was the main line of communication between the Western Turks and their dependencies in the Tarim Basin. The Life mentions that at some points huge blocks of ice had broken away from the seracs on the glacier and fallen across the track. Probably a sentence indicating that part of the caravan was destroyed by one of these ice-falls has dropped out of the text.
Making their way along the side of the Issyk Kul they reached Tokmak, where they met the Khan of the Western Turks, who had come there on a hunting expedition. He wore a green silk gown. His head was bare save for a silken filet that bound his forehead and hung down to the ground. Two hundred captains stood round him, all in robes of brocade and with plaited hair. The Turks were fireworshippers, and as fire is produced from wood there was a tabu against the use of wood for bedsteads and the like. Tripitaka had to make the best of an iron bedstead. At dinner grape-juice was tactfully provided for Tripitaka (all Buddhists, both of the Great and the Little Vehicle, were forbidden to drink wine), and afterwards the Khan asked for a sermon. Thinking no doubt that a philosophical theme would be too difficult for the Turks to understand, he began with the Ten Commandments (against killing, stealing, adultery, lying, slander, tale-bearing, idle talk, greed, anger, perverse opinions), and the need to treasure and cherish the lives of fellow-creatures. He then went on to speak of Release through Higher Wisdom. The Khan smote his head with his hand, in sign of delighted acceptance of Tripitaka's teaching. 'I shouldn't go to Indika', he said afterwards (this is what the Turks called India). 'It is very hot there. The tenth month is like our fifth month here. I should think by the look of you that you would simply melt away. The people are like savages and have no manners. It's not worth going to see them.' But when Tripitaka rejected this advice, the Khan gave him a young man who had spent some years in China and was a good linguist to accompany him to Afghanistan.
SAMARKAND AND AFGHANISTAN
The next place of importance that they reached was Samarkand. The king and his subjects were fire-worshippers. There were two Buddhist monasteries, but they were now uninhabited. When the travellers tried to camp in one of them, the local people set fire to the place and drove them away. After a day or two the king, who had not treated the strangers with much respect on their arrival, allowed Tripitaka to preach to him, was deeply impressed and asked to receive Vows of Abstinence. Shortly afterwards two of the monks who were accompanying Tripitaka ventured to go and say their prayers at the remaining monastery. Again the people set fire to it and drove them away. Tripitaka informed the king, who ordered that the incendiaries were to be arrested and their hands cut off. At Tripitaka's entreaty the sentence was changed to one of flogging and expulsion from the town.
At Kunduz, in what is now northern Afghanistan, Tripitaka found a protector in the person of the Turkic ruler Tardu, a son of the great Khan whom he had met at Tokmak and brother-in-law of the king of Turfan, from both of whom Tripitaka brought letters for Tardu. Recently the Turfan princess had died and during Tripitaka's stay at Kunduz Tardu married again and was poisoned by his new wife who put her lover on the throne. It was (one must suppose) discouraging for Tripitaka, after successfully winning the patronage of Tardu, to have to begin all over again with Tardu's murderers; but he seems to have adapted himself to the situation. The funeral and the coronation ceremonies took several weeks and it was during this time of enforced delay (for it would have been rude to start while the ceremonies were in progress) that he got to know Dharmasimha, a monk who had studied in various parts of India and had a great reputation 'West of the Pamirs', while 'of the monks from Sogdiana and Khotan there was not one who dared converse with him'. It was therefore not unnatural that when Tripitaka sent a message to enquire how many scriptures and treatises this Master knew, Dharmasimha's disciples were very much annoyed. The Master himself, however, smiled complacently. 'Tell him', he said, 'that I understand them all and am ready to answer any questions he likes to ask.' Tripitaka knew that Dharmasimha had not studied the Great Vehicle and tactfully confined himself to a few questions about the tenets of the Materialist School. It became evident that he did not really understand even these (in Tripitaka's view) rudimentary doctrines, and he was obliged to admit, in the presence of his mortified disciples, that Tripitaka had got the better of him. After that they had many pleasant meetings. Dharmasimha applauded every word that Tripitaka said and kept on admitting that this young Chinese monk was far more than a match for him.
The new Khan was very keen that Tripitaka should make a detour to visit Balkh, his secondary Capital ('Little City'), which lay over a hundred miles west of the direct route southward to India. It had been the Capital in ancient days of the Persian satrapy of Khora-sa-n and subsequently of the Greek kingdom of Baktria. At Balkh, too, took place the most famous wedding in ancient history, that of Alexander the Great with Roxana, daughter of the Baktrian baron Oxyartes. Since the second century A.D. it had been a famous centre of Buddhism, and the New Monastery (to the southwest of the town) was one of the most splendid in the whole Buddhist world. Accompanied by some monks from Balkh who had come to Kunduz to attend the murdered Khan's funeral, Tripitaka accordingly set out for Balkh. Here he made friends with Prajna-kara, a Lesser Vehicle monk from the Takka country, the part of the Punjab that runs along the Kashmir frontier. For the first time since he left China Tripitaka had now found a Buddhist teacher whom he did not regard as a humbug. Prajna-kara could, of course, only interpret the scriptures of the Lesser Vehicle, which Tripitaka regarded as imperfect revelations; but he knew them very well, and his answers to questions about doubtful points were 'very detailed and well thought out'. With this new friend Tripitaka crossed the Hindukush. He suffered far greater hardship than amid the glaciers of the T'ien Shan. He was in dense cloud all the time, and there was a continual blizzard. At some places the snow on the road lay as much as twenty or thirty feet deep.
On reaching Ba-miya-n he found about a thousand Hi-naya-na monks belonging to a rather littleknown sect, the Lokottara (Transcendental) School, who came near to the Great Vehicle in that they did not accept the world ordinarily presented to our senses as real; the belief in it arises merely from perversity (viparyaya). But there are transcendental realities, such as those achieved in the phases of consciousness called the Destruction of sorrow (nirodha) and the Road (ma-rga) that leads to that destruction. Tripitaka must have felt the same sort of thrill on coming across those sectarians (unknown to Ta-rana-tha History of Buddhism) as an entomologist feels when he lights upon a rare butterfly.
On arriving at Ka-pisi-, some forty miles north of Kabul, he found that the monks were almost all Maha-ya-nists (Great Vehicle). His travelling companion Prajna-kara objected to staying in a Great Vehicle monastery, and they ended by putting up at the Sharaka Monastery, which was Hi-naya-na. The monks told Tripitaka that the monastery had been founded by the son of a monarch (devaputra) of Ci-na,5 whom the Indo-Scythian king Kanishka (second century A.D.?) had taken as a hostage. The prince, whose portrait, we are told, occurred several times in the wall-paintings of the monastery, 'in face, dress and ornaments looked much the same as a Chinese'. The founder had buried treasure at the feet of the great King of Spirits, whose image guarded the entrance to the Buddha-hall, as an emergency-fund in case the monastery needed extensive repairs. As the pagoda was now in a bad condition it was suggested that Tripitaka's arrival from 'Ci-na' marked the moment as appropriate for utilizing this Chinese fund. In his presence they dug a hole outside the gate and found a copper vessel containing several hundred pounds of gold and ten pearls. Shortly afterwards the king of Ka-pisi- invited Tripitaka to attend a great gathering of Buddhist philosophers at one of the Great Vehicle monasteries. Present were the Maha-ya-nist Manojna-ghosha, the Materialist A-ryavarman and the quasi-Materialist Gunabhadra whose sect believed that matter exists at the moment of perception, but has not existed in the past and will not exist in the future. Each of them was completely master of his own little set of doctrines. Only Tripitaka, so his biographer tells us, was equally proficient in every species of doctrine, and was able to reply to every possible question in the terms of the questioner's own sect.
Parting with Prajna-kara, who returned to Balkh, he went on to Nagaraha-ra, near the modern Jala-la-ba-d. It was here that hundreds of thousands of years ago Sa-kyamuni Buddha, in a former existence, met Di-pamkara the former Buddha and, in a manner recalling the story of Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth, spread his deer-skin mantle on the muddy ground, that his great successor might not dirty his feet. He then, going one better than Sir Walter Raleigh, knelt down and let his long hair fall across the mantle, so as to make a softer carpet. Tripitaka was the sort of sightseer who is a trial to vergers. When the old monk in charge of the sacred site told him this story, Tripitaka at once asked how the place where this event happened could still be in existence. Several cosmic cycles had passed since then, and it is well known that at the end of every cycle the whole universe is destroyed by fire. Even Mount Sumeru is completely burnt out. The verger was equal to the occasion. 'No doubt', he said, 'when the Universe was destroyed this holy site was also destroyed. But when the Universe came into being again, the site reappeared in its old place. We all know that Mount Sumeru is still there; so why should this holy site not also be in its old place? Bear that in mind, and you won't be bothered with any further doubts.'
About four miles to the south was a pagoda in which a very famous relic--Buddha's skull-cap--was kept. Pilgrims mixed clay with powdered sandalwood (no doubt sold on the premises) and placed it on the top of the skull, drawing omens from the markings on the clay. 'To prevent disputes' a tariff had been fixed; it cost one gold coin to look at the skull-cap, but five to 'take an imprint'.
Tripitaka got an image of the Bodhi-tree (ficus religiosa), the tree under which Buddha had his Awakening. The verger told him that very few pilgrims got this sign, and that it meant it was his lot also to be 'awakened'. He was also shown Buddha's eye-ball, his walking-stick and a number of other relics, and by the time he was through, the visit had cost him in gratuities fifty gold coins, one thousand little silver coins, four silk banners, two lengths of brocade and two cassocks.
The escort allotted to him by the authorities at Ka-pisi- were in a hurry to get home and were not best pleased when Tripitaka discovered that not far off was another marvel which must at all costs be visited--a cave where Buddha had 'left his shadow', after his combat with the dragon Gopa-la. The cave was only about four miles away, but it was high up on the face of a rock-cliff, and was extremely difficult to get to. Moreover, the district was said to be infested by robbers. Tripitaka refused to be put off. 'In a million cosmic periods', he said to his escort, 'one might never once get the chance to see the Buddha's shadow. I have no intention of leaving this district without seeing it and paying my respects. You can travel on slowly, and I will catch you up.' The news that for some years past visitors to the cave had seen no 'shadow' at all did not discourage him. After trying in vain, at a monastery on the way to the cave, to get someone to show him the way, he met a small boy who told him that the monastery owned a farm that was quite near the cave. The boy took him to the farm, where he spent the night and found an old man who promised to show him the way. They had barely gone a mile when they met five robbers with drawn swords. Tripitaka removed his hat, that they might see his tonsure, and explained that he was going to worship in the cave. 'Didn't people tell you that you would meet robbers?' they asked. 'Even robbers are men,' said Tripitaka, 'and as I am on my way to worship the Buddha I should not be afraid even if I met a pack of wild beasts, let alone human beings such as you gentlemen.' The robbers suddenly felt a religious impulse and said they too would come to the cave and worship Buddha.
The cave was very dark, and from the entrance they could see nothing at all. The old man instructed Tripitaka to go straight on till he could touch the far wall and then retreat fifty steps. He did so, and then prostrated himself with great devoutness over a hundred times. But he could still see nothing at all. In despair he began to recite various stanzas in praise of Buddha, including those which led to Sri-ma-la-'s6 vision, in which Buddha appeared to her 'suspended in space, sending forth radiance on all sides, displaying to her his incomparable form'. As he did so there suddenly appeared on the wall of the cave a great light the size of a beggingbowl; but after a moment it disappeared. He prostrated himself once more and the light came back, this time the size of a dish; but this too vanished. Tripitaka now made a vow that he would not go away till he had seen Buddha's 'shadow'. The whole cave then became full of light and he saw the Buddha's shadow gleaming on the wall. His body and clothes were orange-coloured. The upper part of the image was perfectly clear, but below it was not very distinct. On either side and behind appeared Bodhisattvas, saints and monks, visible in every detail. He called to the old man and the robbers to come in and burn incense, but in the glare of the flame they made to light the incense the images disappeared. They hastily put out the flame. Out of the six all but one saw the miracle. For some minutes it was distinctly visible and they were able to strew flowers and make other offerings. Then the cave again became dark. The robbers asked to have Buddhist vows administered to them, and destroyed their swords and cudgels. Tripitaka returned in triumph and joined his impatient escort.
ARRIVAL IN INDIA
They came next to Peshawar, the capital of Gandha-ra. Once a place of great importance, it had now been annexed by Ka-pisa. Only one corner of the town was still inhabited, containing about a thousand families. There were many monasteries, but most of them were in ruins and no longer inhabited. Uddiya-na, in the Swat valley to the north-east, was also (Tripitaka found) in a derelict state. It had once had nearly twenty thousand monks; but now there was only a scattered remnant. They were, however, all Maha-ya-nists, which was unusual in north-western India, and paid special attention to Meditation (Dhya-na). They were well read in the Maha-ya-na texts, but had not, Tripitaka thought, more than a superficial understanding of them. They were very strict in their observance of the Monastic Rules and were expert in the use of magic spells. One European writer has suggested that they represented a development in Buddhism 'which could only revolt such a purely intellectualist metaphysician' as Tripitaka. I do not think, however, that Tripitaka mentions the addiction of these monks to spells with any reprobation. The belief that words have magic power was common to almost everyone in the Far East; Confucian scholars (as opposed to the mass of the Chinese population) were perhaps the only exception. Tripitaka himself thought it worthwhile to bring back from India and translate several books of spells, for example the Amoghapa-sa Su-tra and the Su-tra of the Eleven-faced Avalokitesvara, which contains spells for charming holy water, incense, firewood, medical herbs, and so on. The conception of him as 'a purely intellectualist metaphysician' seems to me radically false. I doubt whether such a description could be applied to any Buddhist Master known to us, whether in India or China. The strongly emotional side of his religion and his devout cult of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is constantly apparent throughout his career.
The next place where Tripitaka halted for any length of time was Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. He had a magnificent reception. At the travellers' rest-house (dharmasa-la) outside the town he was met by the king and his whole Court, together with all the monks of the place, attended by a thousand servants carrying banners and umbrellas. The air was thick with the smoke of incense and the streets strewn with flower-offerings. Next day he dined at the Palace, to meet the great Buddhist philosopher Sanghayasas and nine other learned monks. Sanghayasas was getting on for seventy and in poor health. But he was so pleased with Tripitaka that he agreed to give him special coaching. And indeed the programme arranged was a very strenuous one. In the morning Sanghayasas lectured on the great eclectic treatise, Abhidharma-kosa. In the afternoon (and this must have been a little confusing) he lectured on the Nya-ya-nusa-ra which confutes the Kosa, defending the old-fashioned Pluralist system of the Materialists against the Kosa's quasiIdealism. The evening was devoted to studies that belonged to general Indian education rather than to Buddhism; that is to say, to grammar and logic. That there could not be a distinctively Buddhist grammar is obvious; for at this period Hindus and Buddhists alike used Sanskrit, and grammar merely meant the tabulation of sounds, inflexions, conjugations and so on, as used in Sanskrit. I doubt, too, whether there was any system of logic that was distinctively Buddhist or confined to Buddhists.
Logic is, after all, a weapon of argument and is useless unless it can form a bridge between the minds of people who hold opposing views. The introduction of Indian logic into China was perhaps Tripitaka's most important achievement. Most of the texts he brought back dealt with subjects that were already to some extent familiar in China; but systematic treatises dealing with logic were almost unknown and, as we shall see later, they caused a considerable stir even in the lay intellectual world.
The unchanging West stuck to Aristotle's logic and its derivates for over two thousand years, and so far as logic is part of general education in Europe (for example, in Catholic seminaries) it is still based on Aristotle. The more modern forms of logic are studied only by a handful of specialists. India, on the other hand, produced many systems of logic and many forms of syllogism. Unlike the system of Aristotle, none of the Indian systems of logic was regarded as sacred and unalterable or piously preserved for century after century. Each, whether nominally Hindu, Jain or Buddhist, was reviewed, attacked and amended. Here, however, we are only concerned with two forms of Buddhist logic--the Old Logic of Asanga and Vasubandhu (first half of fourth century A.D.) and the New Logic of Vasubandhu's pupil Digna-ga. In the earlier system we find logic (i.e. the analysis of what arguments are cogent) figuring merely as one part of a general theory about how to triumph in an intellectual tournament. To use valid arguments is, of course, important; but it is equally important to have perfect elocution, to speak a pure and correct Sanskrit, not to show any nervousness, not to speak out of one's turn, and so on.
Logic is in its essence, I have suggested above, an attempt by people who differ in opinion to find common laws of thought that can serve as a groundwork to discussion; for evidently without such a common groundwork no discussion is possible. The old Buddhist Logic, essentially an applied logic, does not presuppose a single technique of argument appropriate to all occasions. One must remember whether one is arguing in the Palace of a king or in the house of a Chief Minister; before a Brahmin, at a Great Assembly of philosophers; with experts, or merely with those who would like to become experts. It also presupposes that potentates have no fixed ideology and are ready to be talked into becoming patrons of the School that puts its case in the most convincing way. This idea is perhaps partly connected with the fact that so many of the rulers in northern India had for centuries past been foreigners--Greeks, Indo-Scythians, White Huns, Turks and so on. Their own religions were intimately bound up with their particular culture and way of life. They knew that it was a political impossibility to force their cults and beliefs upon India and they had either to attempt impartiality or make up their minds which sect it would be politically advantageous to support. In either case it was necessary for them to acquaint themselves with the views of the various sects, and disputations in the presence of a king are a feature in the biographies of many great teachers, both Hindu and Buddhist. The thirteenth-century Mongol conquerors of China, who eventually decided in favour of Lamaistic Buddhism, were in much the same position. Readers of William of Rubruck will remember the great disputation between Buddhists, Christians and Mohammedans at the bidding of Mongka Khan, who vult cognoscere qui melius credant, 'wants to know which of them hold the better belief'.
Some idea of the dramatic atmosphere in which the old Indian disputations were carried on can be got from the following passage, which describes the closing scene of the tourney. 'My words', says the loser, 'are not good; your words are better. My views are not good; your views are better. My contention is unreasonable; yours is reasonable. Mine is feeble; yours is strong. My argument has been defeated; yours is established. I have spoken on this occasion with all the eloquence of which I am capable. If a better idea should ever occur to me, I will tell you about it; but for the present I will drop the subject and say no more.' The loser is said to be 'cast into the place of punishment'. The Chinese translators took this in a figurative sense, but the Tibetan translators take it literally, and I think there is no doubt that the phrase originally meant just what it says--the defeated orator was thrown into prison.
These disputations, then, were scenes of intense drama, ending in a recantation and submission that recall the closing scenes of heroic encounters in the epics and legendary plays. And indeed the art of philosophic disputation and that of the secular drama developed concurrently. A verse by the great dramatist Ka-lida-sa is said to refer to the logician Digna-ga, and Digna-ga himself is credited with a play, the Kundama-la-.
The Old Logic laid down detailed and complicated rules for the conducting of a debate. The New Logic7, said to have been founded by Digna-ga (c. A.D. 380), deducted the proper ways of carrying on a debate from a very much smaller set of axioms, simplified the set form in which an argument was to be stated, and above all enumerated and defined with scrupulous care the different kinds of argument which ought not to be accepted--the famous Thirty-Three Fallacies.
China too, about a thousand years before Tripitaka's day, at a time when rival sects were trying to capture the patronage of local rulers who had no decided ideology, had produced a somewhat similar system of logic; but it died out when (at the end of the third century B.C.) a dynasty arose that was totalitarian as regards ideas as well as in its politics. Tripitaka and his contemporaries knew nothing of this ancient Chinese logic. A few Indian texts containing rules for the carrying on of debates had been translated into Chinese from A.D. 472 onwards. But the New Logic was Tripitaka's special gift to China. He did not, however, translate any of its texts till twelve years after his return.
The starting-point of this long digression was, as the reader will remember, Tripitaka's evening lessons in grammar and logic at the capital of Kashmir. His quickness in mastering new subjects astonished his companions. Among them were a number of monks who although they were not to be compared in learning with the venerable Sanghayasas, were nevertheless pretty formidable hecklers. All of them, Visuddhasimha, Jinabandhu, Sugatamitra, Vasumitra and the rest, did everything in their power to catch Tripitaka out. But he answered all their conundrums with complete lucidity and assurance, and it was his questioners who 'were baffled and put to shame'. He was at Srinagar for two years.
IN THE PUNJAB
In the spring of 633 he set out once more on his journeys and near Sa-kala, the modern Sialkot in the eastern Punjab, after this long period of intellectual adventures, material disaster once more overtook him. When passing through a great forest he and his companions met fifty robbers who after stripping them of all they possessed, even the clothes they were wearing, with drawn swords chased them into the bed of a dried-up pond and began to truss them up with ropes. At this point a young monk who was with him noticed that in the thick growth of creepers and thorns that covered the bed of the pond there was a gap just large enough to squeeze through. He and Tripitaka broke away and reaching the far side of the pond ran full tilt for nearly a mile. They came at last upon a Brahmin, ploughing his field. They told him what had happened and unyoking his plough-ox he hastened to the nearest village and blew on his conch. In response to this signal some eighty villagers appeared with whatever arms they could lay hold of and rushed off to the place where the robbers had been met. The robbers, seeing that they were outnumbered, disbanded and took refuge in the depths of the forest. Tripitaka unstressed his companions, supplied them with clothing lent by the villagers and led them to the village. They were naturally much shaken by their adventure and were all in tears. Only Tripitaka treated the whole thing as a joke and appeared not to be in the least upset by what had happened. 'After all,' he said, 'we are alive, and that is what matters most. In one of our most widely read books8 it is said "Life is the world's greatest treasure". You and I are still alive, so that our greatest treasure is not lost. What need to get depressed about trifles like clothing and money?'
Next day, on the borders of the Takka country, in a great forest of mango-trees, they met a Brahmin who though he claimed to be seven hundred years old seemed both mentally and physically like a man of thirty. He said that many centuries ago he had been a disciple of Na-ga-rjuna, and was well versed in this Master's Madhyamika, as well as in the Hundred Verses by Na-ga-rjuna's disciple A-ryadeva. He was also good at the Vedas and other Hindu books. Two servants looked after him, both of whom claimed to be over a hundred. He and Tripitaka got on extremely well. Only half of the Hundred Verses existed in China and no doubt Tripitaka was delighted to get this opportunity of hearing about the missing half. The Brahmin, who in his woodland retreat was unable to provide for Tripitaka and his twenty companions, sent to the nearest town for food. The inhabitants were nearly all Hindus and consequently not as a rule well disposed towards Buddhist visitors. But such extraordinary accounts of Tripitaka's powers had already spread from Kashmir that when they heard the messenger proclaim, 'The monk from China is here. He has just been robbed of everything, even his clothes', they forgot their sectarian prejudices and three hundred prominent townsmen at once set out, each bringing a length of striped cloth and a load of food and drink.
When they had laid their gifts at his feet Tripitaka blessed the townsmen. There were many formulae of blessing. One that he may well have used was: 'Peace and security to you who have two feet. Peace and security to yours that have four feet. Peace be to all your goings and peace to your returns. When you plough your fields may you have your desire, when you sow your seed, may you have your desire.' He then explained to them about cause and effect, and how men, in this incarnation or another, reap the fruit of all their deeds. With one accord, Tripitaka's biography tells us, they discarded Hinduism and became confirmed Buddhists. They went back to the town so happy that they chattered and laughed, danced and skipped all the way home'--an idyllic scene of light-hearted religious conversion.
At Ci-nabhukhti, said to correspond to the modern Ferozepore, just to the south of the Sutlej River, he studied for over a year with Vini-taprabha, a north Indian prince who had become a monk and written commentaries on Great Vehicle works, including one on the Trimsika-, the thirty verses which sum up the doctrine of the extreme Idealists. An immense body of literature had grown up round these verses, and a summary9 of this literature, made under Tripitaka's direction in the winter of 659, became the standard text-book of Idealism in China and Japan. He was able also to continue his study of logic, as Vini-taprabha was an authority upon the Nya-yamukha