Faxian (337 – c. 422 CE) was a Chinese Buddhist monk
A Bhikkhu or Bhikṣu is an ordained male Buddhist monastic. A female monastic is called a Bhikkhuni Nepali: ). The life of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis is governed by a set of rules called the patimokkha within the vinaya's framework of monastic discipline...

 who traveled to India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 and Kapilavastu
Kapilavastu is the name of a region of ancient Shakya kingdom that is considered a holy pilgrimage place for Buddhists. The search for the Buddha's birthplace following the accounts left by Xuanzang and Faxian involved various searches in the late 19th century...

 in today's Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

 between 399 and 412 to acquire Buddhist scriptures. His journey is described in his important travelogue, A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms, Being an Account by the Chinese Monk Fa-Xian of his Travels in India and Ceylon in Search of the Buddhist Books of Discipline.

He is most known for his pilgrimage to Lumbini
Lumbinī is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi district of Nepal. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who as the Buddha Gautama founded the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha lived between roughly 563 and 483 BCE...

, the birthplace of Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

. Faxian is a Chinese pilgrim and scholar who visited India during the reign of Chandragupta II
Chandragupta II
Chandragupta II the Great, very often referred to as Vikramaditya or Chandragupta Vikramaditya in Sanskrit; was one of the most powerful emperors of the Gupta empire in northern India. His rule spanned c...

. Faxian claimed that demons and dragons were the original inhabitants of Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

On Faxian's return to China, after a two-year stay in Ceylon, a violent storm drove his ship onto an island that was probably Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

. Faxian landed at Laoshan
Laoshan is a famous mountain in Qingdao, Shandong province, China. It lies about 30 km east of the downtown of Qingdao, and is an important tourist destination. It is the highest coastal mountain in China, peaking at 1132.7m. It is known as one of the birthplaces of Taoism.-History:Laoshan...

 in what is now Shandong
' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

 province, 30 km east of the city of Qingdao
' also known in the West by its postal map spelling Tsingtao, is a major city with a population of over 8.715 million in eastern Shandong province, Eastern China. Its built up area, made of 7 urban districts plus Jimo city, is home to about 4,346,000 inhabitants in 2010.It borders Yantai to the...

, and went to Shandong's then-capital, Qingzhou
Qingzhou , formerly Yidu County , is a county-level city, which is located in the west of Weifang City, Shandong Province, China. Qingzhou is a dynamic industry city, and also grows a great number of farm products...

, where he remained for a year translating and editing the scriptures he had collected.

His work is a travel book, filled with accounts of early Buddhism, and the geography and history of numerous countries along the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

s at the turn of the 5th century CE. Faxain visited India in the early fifth century AD. He is said to have walked all the way from China across icy desert and rugged mountain passes. He entered India from the north-west and reached Pataliputra. He took back with him Buddhist texts and images sacred to Buddhism.

Translation of Faxian's work

The following is from the introduction to a translation of Faxian's work by James Legge
James Legge
James Legge was a noted Scottish sinologist, a Scottish Congregationalist, representative of the London Missionary Society in Malacca and Hong Kong , and first professor of Chinese at Oxford University...



  • Online edition of the Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms, University of Adelaide
    University of Adelaide
    The University of Adelaide is a public university located in Adelaide, South Australia. Established in 1874, it is the third oldest university in Australia...

     Library, Australia
    Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...


See also

  • Buddhism in China
    Buddhism in China
    Chinese Buddhism refers collectively to the various schools of Buddhism that have flourished in China since ancient times. Buddhism has played an enormous role in shaping the mindset of the Chinese people, affecting their aesthetics, politics, literature, philosophy and medicine.At the peak of the...

  • Fa Hien Cave
    Fa Hien Cave
    Fa Hien Cave is a cave in the district of Kalutara, Western Province, Sri Lanka, named after the Buddhist monk Faxian . The cave is important for the Late Pleistocene human skeletal remains discovered there in the 1960s and 1980s....

  • Hyecho
    Hyecho , Sanskrit: Prajñāvikram; Hui Chao in Chinese Pinyin, was a Korean Buddhist monk from Silla, one the three Korean kingdoms of the period."You complain of the long way home to the west,and I sigh at the endless road to the east."...

  • Silk Road transmission of Buddhism
    Silk Road transmission of Buddhism
    The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism to China is most commonly thought to have started in the late 2nd or the 1st century CE.The first documented translation efforts by Buddhist monks in China were in the 2nd century CE, possibly as a consequence of the expansion of the Kushan Empire into the...

  • Song Yun
    Song Yun
    Song Yun was a Chinese Buddhist monk who was sent by the devout Buddhist Empress Hu 胡 of the Northern Wei Dynasty with some companions including the monk Hui Zheng, Fa Li and Zheng Fouze, to northwestern India to search for Buddhist texts...

  • Xuanzang
    Xuanzang was a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler, and translator who described the interaction between China and India in the early Tang period...

  • Yi Jing
    Yi Jing
    I Ching is one of Chinese classic texts.I Ching may also refer to:* I Ching , a Tang Dynasty Buddhist monk* I Ching , fictional, blind martial artist published by DC Comics...

  • Zhang Qian
    Zhang Qian
    Zhang Qian was an imperial envoy to the world outside of China in the 2nd century BCE, during the time of the Han Dynasty...

  • Zheng He
    Zheng He
    Zheng He , also known as Ma Sanbao and Hajji Mahmud Shamsuddin was a Hui-Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who commanded voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa, collectively referred to as the Voyages of Zheng He or Voyages of Cheng Ho from...

External links

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