IN PATNA. FA-HIEN'S LABOURS IN TRANSCRIPTION OF MANUSCRIPTS, AND INDIAN STUDIES FOR THREE YEARS.
From Varanasi (the travellers) went back east to Pataliputtra. Fa-hien's original object had been to search for (copies of) the Vinaya. In the various kingdoms of North India, however, he had found one master transmitting orally (the rules) to another, but no written copies which he could transcribe. He had therefore travelled far and come on to Central India. Here, in the mahayana monastery, 1 he found a copy of the Vinaya, containing the Mahasanghika 2 rules,--those which were observed in the first Great Council, while Buddha was still in the world. The original copy was handed down in the Jetavana vihara. As to the other eighteen schools, 3 each one has the views and decisions of its own masters. Those agree (with this) in the general meaning, but they have small and trivial differences, as when one opens and another shuts. 4 This copy (of the rules), however, is the most complete, with the fullest explanations. 5
He further got a transcript of the rules in six or seven thousand gathas, 6 being the sarvastivadah 7 rules,--those which are observed by the communities of monks in the land of Ts'in; which also have all been handed down orally from master to master without being committed to writing. In the community here, moreover, we got the Samyuktabhi- dharma-hridaya-(sastra), 8 containing about six or seven thousand gathas; he also got a Sutra of 2500 gathas; one chapter of the Parinir-vana-vaipulya Sutra, 9 of about 5000 gathas; and the Mahasan- ghikah Abhidharma.
In consequence (of this success in his quest) Fa-hien stayed here for three years, learning Sanskrit books and the Sanskrit speech, and writing out the Vinaya rules. When Tao-ching arrived in the Central Kingdom, and saw the rules observed by the Sramanas, and the dignified demeanour in their societies which he remarked under all occurring circumstances, he sadly called to mind in what a mutilated and imperfect condition the rules were among the monkish communities in the land of Ts'in, and made the following aspiration:--"From this time forth till I come to the state of Buddha, let me not be born in a frontier land." 10 He remained accordingly (in India), and did not return (to the land of Han). Fa-hien, however, whose original purpose had been to secure the introduction of the complete Vinaya rules into the land of Han, returned there alone.