Translation from Chinese in to English ,Bhikkhu Ding Hui ,Chinese Buddhist Monastery, Lumbini

The famous Chinese pilgrim Bhikkhu Fa Xian (Fa-Hsien) visited India, and during his visit he came to Kapilavastu, Lumbini and ramagrama in 403 A.D. He described these places in his book Records of the Buddhist Kingdom ‘ He mentioned as follows.

The Kapilavastu City was one yojana far away to the east of the sacred place of Kanakamuni Buddha’s birth. The city was bleak and desolate. There were white elephants and lions were walking on the road. It was very difficult for the people to travel.

The city was also like a barren hill, and there were neither king nor the other residents stayed in it, except about 10 monks. A Mahamaya statue was in the palace of Suddhodana, which depicts the prince riding a white elephant to enter his mother’ womb.

People constructed the pagodas at the following places.

Prince Sakyamuni becomes very sad by the sight of the suffering of the people when he went out of the Kapilavastu City.

The place where Asita with his supernormal vision predicted the prince that he would become a Buddha. The place where Devadatta wanted to destroy the Buddha, and he killed an elephant and put it in the gate of the city to stop Buddha. But Ananda with his power took it away.

The place where the prince Sakyamuni showed his many skills, one of them was that he shot an arrow as far as 30 li and the arrow entered the earth at the southeast direction. A fountain sprouted out from the earth. Later the people dug a well there and the travelers could drink water from it.

At the place where the Buddha met King Suddhodana after he achieved enlightenment. It is the place where Upali converted five hundred Sakya youths. Meanwhile the earth shook six times.

At the place where King Virudhaka killed the Sakyas and the Sakyas attained the Srotaapanna phala immediately. The people built a pagoda, which is still there. Several li away from the northeast of the Kapilavastu City, the prince caught a glimpse of the ploughing ceremony sitting under a tree at the royal field.

There was a royal garden at northeast of the Kapilavastu City. It was named Lumbini. Mahayama had a bath in the pond in Lumbini. She walked twenty steps to the north, and raised her hand leaned by a branch of the tree. The prince was born while she was facing the east. The prince walked seven steps in all directions after he was born. Two Dragon Kings bathed the prince’s body immediately. Later the people dug a well there.

The Ramagrama Kingdom was five yojanas to the east of the holy place of Buddha’s birth. The King of the Ramagrama Kingdom was one of the eight kings who obtained the Buddha’s relics and he also built a pagoda, which is named ramagrama Pagoda. And the relics were in it for offering. A dragon King was in the pond near this pagoda and the Dragon King often kept guard to the pagoda and paid worship to it all day and night.

King asoka wanted to open the eight pagodas to make eight-four thousand pagodas. He had already opened seven pagodas except the Ramagrama. The Dragon King appeared when Asoka wanted to damage the ramagrama Pagoda. After asoka saw that the Dragon King was paying worship and was offering to the pagoda. The Dragon King said, ‘if you could do better offering than this, you could damage this pagoda and nobody would stop you’. Asoka knew that no offering in the world would be like this and he couldn’t do better than the Dragon King, so he went back to his country without damaging the pagoda.

The elephants fetched water with their trunks and they took flowers and incense for offering.

Once religious person came from another country, and wanted to pay worship to the pagoda. He was very frightened by the elephants, so he his in a tree to safeguard himself. But he saw the elephants were paying very respectfully worship to the pagoda. He was very mournful and said, ‘here was nobody offering the pagoda, except the elephants’. Therefore, he gave up his own religion and became a Sramanera. He was putting the place in order and cleaned it. He also persuaded the king to make a monastery, and he became the chief monk. Up to now, the chief monk of this monastery is a Sramanera. At the present time some monks are staying in this monastery.

Records of the Western Countries of the Tang Dynasty:

Chinese Bhikkhu Xuan zang (Hsuantsang) was a well known pilgrim to India. He arrived in Kapilavastu, Lumbini and Ramagrama in 636 A.D. He also gave a detailed description of these places in his book Records of the Western countries of the tang Dynasty.

Lumbini was 80 li away to the northeast from the Arrow fountain. There was a pond in Lumbini. The water of this pond was green and clear with flowers. The Asoka tree was 25 steps to the north from the pond, and the prince Siddharthe was born under this tree. A stupa was at the east of the tree and it was the place where two Dragons bathed the prince after his birth. A stupa was built by King Asoka. The newly born prince walked seven steps into four directions. At that time the two Dragons appeared from the earthand they stayed in the sky. Warm and cool water spurted out from the mouth of the Dragons to bathe the prince. Meanwhile from the north stupa two springs spurted with warm and cool water to bathe Mahayama. There are two stupas beside these springs.

Another stupa was in front of these two stupas, where Mahamaya had bathed. It was the place where Sakra held the Bodhisattva after his burth, Four stupas were next to this stupa. It was the place where Sakra held the Bodhisattva after this birth. Four stupas were next to this stupa. It was the place where the Four Heavenly Kings held the Bodhisattva.

A pillar was near the four stupas, and a horse statue was on the top of the pillar. King Asoka built it. Later the Evil Dragon damaged it with the thunderbolt and it was broken and was lying down on the earth. There was a river near the pillar and it flowed from east to south. The local name was the Oil River. First the Deva made the wonderful oil to bathe Mahamaya to cure the disease after prince was born. After that it became water and flowered south.

Courtesy from The Maha Bodhi.

Economic Impact of Buddhism :P rof. Manik Lal Shrestha

The Sangh (brotherhood of monks) in Buddhism (of all schools) advocated common ownership of property by the Sangh and all member to earn, not for themselves individually but for the sangh. For laymen also Buddhism stressed on. Earning money for maintaining life, not far amassing wealth. Buddhism asked people to refrain from professions which are harmful to others or are immoral. To people of propertied class Buddhism appeated to use their wealth for the benefit and welfare of the community.

Buddhism thus contributed, at that time, to lessen and curb the harmness of feudal exploitation, although not to abolish it. Buddha himself urged the rich to help the poor and thus contribute to some extent to narrow the gap between haves and have-nots.

Buddha was the first among the ancient thinkers of South Asia who believed in collective ownership of property. He even believed that origin of private ownership of property was a degradation. He taught in explict words, ‘First human beings collectively owned and worked in farm land to produce rice. Later they divided farmland among themselves and brought individual ownership. Then some greedy persons stole other’s share of land. To stop such evil acts, people chose a king and entrusted to him the task of preserving peace and order and specifically to protect individuals’ property from infringement by others’. (Aggannyasutta Dighanikaya27)

This tracing the development of earily human society by Buddha reflects his belief that origin of private ownership is a vice, a decadence of social morality. He also believed that concept of private ownership of properity compelled man to put himself under suverainty of a king and to voluntarily accept bondage. Buddha also considered private ownership of properity as the source of’ cheating in balance (weighing) cheating in measurement, bribery, vice of ingratitude, conspriancy, assault, slaughter, slavery (bondage), robbery, looting and murder.

Buddha avocated communal ownership of all wealth and also applied it in his Sangh (brotherhood of monks). He stipulated that a monk could own only 8 articles (6 kinds) as his personal belonging, namely one earthern alms bowl, three chivar (monk’s robes), one thread and needle, one Astura, one waist-band and one water-filter. When his step mother, Nun Prajapati wished to present him a robe woven by herself, Buddha asked her to an individual (Dakkhina Wibhanga Sutta (Mazzhim Nikaya142). But this ‘economic communism’ in which Buddha believed was applied by him only among the monks and not in the whole of society, in the same way as Plato, in his the Republic, advocated common property only among the elite-rulers Buddha’s experiment of socialist ownership failed (like Robet Owen’ experiment) because Buddha did not apply it in the whole society, and also because he adovocated common ownership only in man’s personal belongings and not in means of production. Consequently decadence appeared even among monks who began to amass vast wealth. Commenting on wealthy and luxuriously-living Tibetan monks in the early 20 th century. Japanese monk Ekai Kawaguchi denounced them as ‘staraining at gnats, but swallowing camels’.

Further, Buddha’s failure to transform the society was attributable to the fact that he (624-544 B.C.) lived at the age of transition from slave society to feudal society’ and at a highly stangnant society of South Asia, where the seeds of his idea could not germinate. Buddha’s enlightened views influenced many thinkers, but could not change the economic relationship among the various classes of society of his age. In his life time his ideas gas an impact on the economic attitude of the society in a limited area where he and his disciples worked (i.e. areas of South Nepal and North India ), where many wealthy people were inclined to offer money liberally of charity. His teaching also curbed to a considerable extent unscrupulous attitude and behavior of earning wealth by immoral means. The rulers of some Kingdoms and republics, influenced by Buddha, took measures to ameliorate the sufferings of the poor.

Buddha’s teachings made considerable Impact on the economic life of the society only for some centuries after his death. King Ashok, the ruler of the vast territory of Northern India, tried to implement the principles o a welfare state by protecting the aged, the infirm, the widows and the orphans. Some later rulers (although a few in number), inspired by the teachings of Buddha, took measures to turn the state into a ‘protector and patron’ of the weak and unprivileged. King Srongtsong gompo of Tibet (who lived int the 30’s of the 7 th century), King Munetsongpo (ruled 846-47) of Tibet, King shiv Singh Malla of a principality of Nepal (late 16 th century) tried to become protectors of the poor and missable.

Special mention may be made of Munetsongpo (846-47), who as soon as he ascended the throne in 846 A.D. tried to impose ‘equal distribution of property’ among all his subjects, the poverty-stricken people of Tibet. Declaring that he wished to implement teaching of Buddha, he siezed the property of all and redistributed it equally among all his subjects. After some time it was found that the lazy and prodigal people spent rashly and again became paupers, while the frugal and industrious people became wel-off. Too much enthusiasric to impose equality, he again seized the wealth of all and redistributed equally to all. After he repeated this process for three times in one year, the king was hated widely and his own mother poisoned him to death.

Munetsongpo’s example is that of an imprudent and irrational ‘enthusiastic leveller’ but his example shows the strong impact of Buddha’s ideas on the economic thinking and behavior of the people.

This was at a time when the Buddhist missionaries of Nepal and India were propagating Buddha’s message in different countries of Asia.

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