An International Conference: From Xianghuan To Ceylon: The Life And Legacy Of The Chinese Buddhist Monk Faxian (337-422)


The Chinese Buddhist monk Faxian 法顯 (337-422) is renowned for his heroic pilgrimage to Central and South Asia, which brought him to a number of places of key importance for Buddhism, including Khotan, Udyāna, Gandhāra, Peshawar, Taxila, Tamralipti, and Ceylon. Faxian returned to China (Shandong) in 414, fifteen years after he had left in 399; he was already 62 when he left for the west. Although Faxian is now primarily remembered as a Buddhist pilgrim and translator (the Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya  摩訶僧祇律 and Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra  大涅槃經 are two influential texts he translated), his extensive network extended far beyond Buddhist communities. Faxian’s impact upon East Asia requires attention from both Buddhist and non-Buddhist perspectives, within China and beyond.


This conference, exclusively devoted to the different aspects of the eventful life and far-reaching legacy of this complex monk and man, will be the first in a series of conferences on Buddhist cross-border and transcultural roles to be co-sponsored by the newly established Mount Wutai International Institute for Buddhism and East Asian Cultures 五臺山佛教與東方文化國際研究院 and UBC Buddhist Studies Forum, as a part of a multi-year, international and interdisciplinary partnership project on Buddhism and East Religions, recently funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) (www.frogbear.org).


The conference organizers plan to hold the conference in Shanxi 山西, China (primarily Faxian’s hometown Xiangyuan 襄垣,  in Changzhi 長治), between March 25-27, 2017. For scholars whose schedule allows them to do so, we will also arrange, either before or after the conference,  tours to several famous sites in Shanxi (especially Jinci 晉祠).


Committed Panelists include:

  1. Prof. T. H. Barrett (SOAS, U. of London): “Faxian and the meaning of Bianwen變文: The Value of his biography to the study of China”

In 1989 Victor Mair published a monograph entitled T’ang Transformation Texts that has subsequently come to determine the translation used for the term bianwen in English as ‘transformation’.  In 1991 I published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society a comment on Mair’s monograph proposing that a passage in Faxian’s biography noticed by some earlier scholars but not discussed by Mair suggested that other ways of construing the term were possible, and I have subsequently expanded on these remarks in passing.  This year (2016) the erudite Karashima Seishi has also published in the Annual Report of the International Research Institute for Advanced BuddhologySoka University a review of the early evidence for the meaning of bianwen that likewise draws on Faxian, though his explanation differs from and makes no reference to mine.  How does Faxian’s evidence now stand?


  1. Prof. Ester Bianchi (Universita degli Studi di Perugia): “Shi Faxian’s Legacy in Modern China: Remembering and Reshaping a Buddhist Hero”

The great pilgrim monks of the past today enjoy a renewed popularity in China and are taken as models for having been able to harness the unifying power of Buddhism in order to “build cultural bridges, favour friendly relations and promote a reciprocal understanding between civilizations” (Xuecheng, May 2015).

As a matter of fact, Faxian was already taken as an example during the 1930s, when Taixu 太虛 (1890-1947) went twice to South Asia (1939 and 1940), and “called for cooperation between Chinese and Sinhalese Buddhists” (Welch 1968). During the same years, other Chinese monks began to travel to Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma, India and Indochina on pilgrimage or to study vinaya and Pāli language. All of them believed to follow in the footsteps of the pilgrim monks, Faxian first among them. In the letters and articles of these monks, Faxian is described with admiration for his concern for monastic discipline and for the renown he had gained abroad; not only did children in Sri Lanka learn of his travels from their textbooks, but European as well knew of his enterprises thanks to the first translations of his travelogue (Ritzinger 2016). Not surprisingly, one of the English translations of the Faxian Gaoseng zhuan is authored by one of the monks who studied in Sri Lanka (Li Rongxi). Later, in the early years of the Peoples Republic of China, the anniversary of Faxian made a good occasion for exchanging gifts and enhancing friendship relations between China and Sri Lanka (Welch 1972).

The present study focuses on the revival of the image of Faxian in modern and contemporary China, testifying of the fact that the twentieth century was not only a time for “resurrecting Xuanzang” (Brose 2016) but also for resurrecting Faxian.


  1. Prof. Chen Jinhua (UBC): “Faxian and Huiyuan: Some New Evidence and Consideration”

Not only were Faxian and Huiyuan both from Shanxi, but they were also contemporaries. But they appeared to be two quite distinctly different: while Faxian was one of the most extensively travelling monks in the history of East Asian Buddhism, Huiyuan was reported to have never left his homebase at Mount Lu 廬山 for over thirty years. The orbits of these two famed monks did cross each other though. This article discusses Huiyuan’s association with Faxian, especially in the context of their joint effort to reproduce the Cave of Buddha’s Images (Foying ku 佛影窟) at Mount Lu.


  1. Prof. Chen Ming  陳明(北京大學東方文學研究中心):  佛教故事·地域·圖像:來自法顯和玄奘的記載



  1. Dr. Chen Zhiyuan  陳志遠(中國社科院歷史所): 法顯、智猛與南朝知識界



  1. Dr. Heawon Choi  崔惠源(University of British Columbia): “Faxian’s Translation of the Nirvana Sutra: Its Significance and Legacy”

This paper addresses the Chinese Buddhist monk Faxian (337–422) and his translation of the Nirvana Sutra (Daban nihuan jing 大般泥洹經). Faxian’s Nirvana Sutra is one of the three major Chinese renditions of the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra, along with Dharmakṣema’s Daban niepan jing 大般涅槃經 (also known as the “Northern Edition” of the Nirvana Sutra), which was produced under the Northern Liang dynasty. The third, and later, version is Huiyan and Huiguan’s Daban niepan jing 大般涅槃經 (or “Southern Edition”) that was composed under the Liu Song dynasty. Huiyan and Huiguan’s version is known as a “revision” of the previous renditions by Faxian and Dharmakṣema. This paper discusses Faxian’s translation by focusing on some of the main characteristics of his edition and the significant implications of his work in the history of Chinese Buddhism and Buddhist thought, particularly in relation to the development of the Buddha-nature doctrine and the Nirvana School in China. The paper is divided into three main parts. The first introduces the background and setting in which Faxian obtained an original text of the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra and translated it with his co-workers. The second section discusses the main structure and characteristics of Faxian’s edition as compared to the later versions by Dharmakṣema and Huiyan and Huiguan. Here special attention is paid to the continuity between Faxian’s version and the other editions, thereby suggesting the legacy of Faxian’s work. The final section addresses the impact of Faxian’s Nirvana Sutra on his fellow Chinese Buddhist thinkers, and Daosheng (360–434) in particular. After reading Faxian’s Nirvana Sutra, Daosheng famously proposed that everyone has a Buddha nature. The paper notes that Chinese Buddhists (such as Daosheng) interpreted Faxian’s work in close relation to the intellectual-cultural milieu of the time, which allowed and even encouraged liberal and creative interpretation of scriptures.


  1. Dr. Sally K. Church (Affiliated Researcher, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge): “Faxian and the Silk Road in a Buddhist Age”

Faxian was the first in a long series of Chinese Buddhist monks not only to make the journey from China to India but also to return to China again. On his outward journey he travelled what is today known as the Silk Road, stopping at such places as Dunhuang, Shanshan, Yanyi, Khotan, Zihe, Jiecha, Tuoli, and visiting such key centres as Udyana, Gandhara, Peshawar and Taxila before descending into the Buddhist heartland of India. At the time almost all his stops along the Silk Road were thriving Buddhist centres with monasteries populated by thousands of monks. Having travelled to India by land, he returned to China 14 years later by sea, on what we now call the Maritime Silk Road. This journey was fraught with the dangers of seafaring, but he remained strong, surviving to make important contributions to the transmission of Buddhism to China. This paper focuses on his journeys by land and sea and the state of Buddhism in the sites he visited.


  1. Prof. Max Deeg (Cardiff University, UK/Käte-Hamburger-Kolleg, Bochum University, Germany): “The Neglected Pilgrim: How Faxian’s Record is used in Buddhist Studies”

This paper will focus on the role of Faxian’s Foguo ji, “Record of the Buddhist Kingdoms” (aka Gaoseng Faxian zhuan) in the formation of Buddhist Studies as a discipline in the 19th and 20th century. It will contextualize the text in the emulating historicist approach of the time which, I would claim and hope to show, led to a certain marginalization of the “Record” due to the typical ideological parameters inherent in the positivist and historicist interpretation of sources such as the idea of authenticity and reliability through authorship and through the information given in the source. In this context Faxian’s “Record” had the disadvantage of being relatively short, restricted in terms of geographical range, and being linked to an author about whom not much was known. As a consequence Faxian’s “Record” was and is mostly used in a complementary way to either corroborate pieces of information from other sources – mainly from Xuanzang’s Datang Xiyu ji which had become the main authority,  thereby establishing as the earliest text of its “genre” a historical terminus ad quem, or it has to fill gaps of information in those other sources (e.g. Śrī Laṅkā).


  1. Prof. He Fangyao  何方耀 (華南師範大學): 從法顯西行求法途中之“夏坐”看漢地僧團之律制



  1. Prof. Feng Guodong 馮國棟(University of Zhejiang  浙江大學): 法顯「方等泥洹經」的神異與中土大小乘之爭



  1. Prof. Hou Huiming  侯慧明(山西師範大學歷史與旅遊文化學院):  法顯在佛教中國化進程中的貢獻



  1. Prof. Haiyan Hu-von Hinuber  胡海燕 (International Research Institute of Advanced Asian and Buddhist Studies, Freiburg/Germany):  “Some New Interpretations of FaxIan’s Record Foguoji” 法顯《佛國記》新詮

The aim of this paper is to suggest some new approaches to interpreting Faxian (approx. 342-423) by means of a couple of examples. It deals with certain difficult terms and passages in his travel record, which was written down by himself in Qingzhou (青州) immediately after his returning from South Asia in the year 414 and revised in Jiankang (建康) according to his oral additions two years later.

One of the instances to be discussed is e. g. whether the 700 bangtī (傍梯), which Faxian and his friars crossed in the Indus valley, could mean the Sanskrit term śaṅkupatha, which is attested in early Indian texts concerning the Sanskrit grammar and what´s more depicted in a relief from Bhārhut (2nd century B.C.).

The next topic to be pointed out applies to two opposite words used by Faxian. The fact that Faxian called Central India zhōngguo中國 (“mid-land” or “country in the <world> centre”) and China biāndi邊地 (“border-land”) is well-known. The question, however, of why he did so, had been not answered by scholars until 2011. The paper will provide evidence that the learned Buddhist monk Faxian, who traveled to India in order to search texts containing the monastic rules, based himself in this regard just on the authority of the Vinaya-Piṭaka (律藏).

Faxian decided to venture home by ship in the year 410 and he completed his journey in four stages. During the third and fourth stages in between Ceylon, Sumātra and China, the merchant ship he had boarded found itself in difficulty. During the moment of distress, Faxian prayed twice to the Buddhist divinity Guanshiyin 觀世音 (Avalokiteśvara) asking for protection and blessing. The last example of the paper attempts to analyze that the Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra translated by Dharmarakṣa (竺法護: approx. 231-308) in the year 286, namely the so-called 《正法華經》 could provide the foundation or the influence for Faxian’s worship on Guanyin as patron for seafaring.


第一個例子探討法顯在險渡印度河時,說河邊的懸崖峭壁上有700個“榜梯”,需要一一度過。通過考證巴利利梵文語法的注疏以及巴爾胡特佛塔的一個浮雕(公元前2世紀),本人提出“榜梯”很可能就是印度古代深山裡經常使用的“楔子路”(梵文是: śaṅkhupatha ),《漢書》稱為“懸度”。


作為完整走完“一帶一路”的唯一求法高僧,法顯410年決定乘船回歸漢土。他的水路歸途是分成四段完成的。從獅子國經蘇門答臘至青州的第三段和第四段航海路途中,法顯搭乘的“商人大舶”兩次遭遇海難,而法顯則每次一心祈禱觀音的庇護與救難。這是中國史料最早記載觀音作為航海保護神的記錄。本文的第三個例子試圖證明,286年由竺法護翻譯的 《正法華經》顯然為法顯時代的觀音崇拜奠定了基礎並產生了深刻的影響。


  1. Dr. Ji Yun  紀贇(Buddhist Academy of Singapore 新加坡佛學院): 法顯: 東亞他域游方朝聖僧典範的確立



  1. 14. George A. Keyworth (University of Saskatchewan): “The Other Great Chinese Trepiṭaka in Japan: Faxian as Translator and Exemplary Pilgrim in Medieval Japanese Manuscript Canons”

In what we may call the standard Sino-Japanese Buddhist canons of the medieval period in East Asia, two distinct biographies of eminent Chinese trepiṭakas and pilgrims to India, Xuanzang 玄奘 (Genjō, c. 602-664) and Faxian 法顯 (337-ca. 422), figure prominently. Xuanzang has enjoyed considerable repute in Japan since the establishment of Kōfukuji 興福寺 in Nara, by the powerful Fujiwara 藤原 family in the late seventh-century. Little attention has been paid, however, to the notoriety of Faxian in Japan, where curious twelfth-century copies of eighth-century versions of his biography, Faxian zhuan/Hokkenden (Z. 1194, T. 2085), have been preserved within only three of the eight, extant manuscript canons (Shōgozō 聖語藏, Nanatsu-dera 七寺一切經, Matsuo shrine  松尾社一切經). In this paper I investigate the provenance of these quite early and reliable manuscript editions of the Faxian zhuan, and reveal some of the textual differences between printed, received editions of this account of Faxian’s life and travels and these Japanese texts. Through analysis of colophons to Faxian’s translations of the MahāyānaMahāparinirvāṇā-sūtra (Daban nihuan jing 大般泥洹經, Z. 137, T. 376) and the so-called non-Mahāyāna version (Daban niepan jing 大般涅槃經, Z. 774, T. 7), which were widely—and explicitly—circulated in medieval Japan among Nara 南都六宗, Shingonshū 真言宗, and Tendai 天台宗 Buddhists, it is evident that the legacy of Faxian as an archetypal pilgrim, translator, and teacher may rival apparent admiration for Xuanzang in medieval Japan.


  1. Prof. Kim Haewon  金惠瑗(Department of Asia, the National Museum of Korea): “Monasteries and Images in Faxian’s Record on Anuradhapura”

This paper examines Faxian’s accounts on Sri Lanka focusing on important images and monasteries in Anuradhapura, the political and religious center of the island kingdom during his two-year stay in early fifth century. Of particular interest are the records on the Bodhi Tree shrine, the installation of Buddha’s Tooth Relic, and the blue jade image in Abhayagiri vihara. These subjects will be discussed in relation to historical records, archaeological sites, and surviving Buddhist images in an effort to demonstrate the significance of Faxian’s accounts and pilgrimage.


  1. Prof. Kim Minku  金玟求(The Chinese University of Hong Kong): “Images of the Buddha ‘Walking’ (jingxing 經行) in the Record of Faxian”

On his pilgrimage in India, Faxian takes note of the specific sites where the Historical Buddha and other sacred figures once “walked.” Glossed curiously as jingxing 經行, the term resurfaces in record of Xuanzang too, whose pilgrimage was taken two centuries later. Perhaps these Chinese travelers were triggered by certain information on-site to make such peculiar distinction about the historical nature of where they visited. In fact, James Legge (1815-97) suggested peripatetic or perambulatory promenades known as caṃkramaṇa existed in those sites. On the other hand, it is noteworthy that a few inscriptions of Kuṣān date are specifically associated with the places of “walking” (caṃkame). More prominently, the receptacles of these epigraphic records are nothing but the famous colossal kapardin-type standing statues of Mathūran production associated with the determined monk Bala and company. This paper explores various issues at this juncture of archaeological evidence and the Chinese pilgrim’s witness.


  1. Prof. Lim Sang-hee  林祥姬(Dongguk University): 法顯傳의 文獻學的 研究 [“Faxian Zhuan: Several Issues in Textual Criticism” (Korean)]

The text, Faxian zhuan is a record of Faxian, who made pilgrimage to India in the early fifth century, and was in circulation under varied titles and forms. In the scriptural catalogues (jinglu 經錄) complied between the Sui and the Tang found are such titles as Foyou Tianzhu ji 佛遊天竺記, Liyou Tianzhu ji zhuan 歷遊天竺記傳, and Faxian zhuan; and in secular histories and collectanea Faxian zhuan and Foguo ji 佛國記. With the text getting incorporated into the woodblock canons carved since the Song period, the circulation of Faxian zhuan was significantly boosted and widely diffused into East Asia.

Among fifteen canons under discussion dated from the Song to the modern times, a total of thirteen redactions of Faxian zhuan is found, which can be grouped by textual criticism under three stemmata. First, the Zhaocheng 趙城 Canon tradition includes one redaction of the text titled Xi daoren Faxian cong Chang’an xingxi zhi Tianzhu zhuan 昔道人法顯從長安行西至天竺傳. Second, the Chongning 崇寧 Canon tradition includes eight redactions under the title of Faxian zhuan. Third, the Second Koryŏ 高麗 Canon tradition includes four redactions under the title of Gaoseng Faxian zhuan 高僧法顯傳.

The Chongning tradition predominated the circulation of printed editions in China, while both Zhaocheng and Second Koryŏ traditions remained obscure until the modern times. But both are of great import, as the Zhaocheng Canon is based on the Kaibao 開寶 Canon, that is, the first woodblock canon, thus presumably more akin to an ur-textual tradition, and the Second Koryŏ Canon was a result of collating various then-accessible pre-existing traditions.


  1. Prof. Liu Xuejun  劉學軍(江蘇第二師範學院文學院): 《法顯遊記與中古紀行文學之關係》



  1. Prof. Liu Yuan-ju  劉苑如(台灣中央研究院): 法顯與劉裕集團

法顯(338?-423?)法師有感於當時所傳的律藏殘闕,於東晉隆安 (399) 離開長安,前往天竺求法,歷經十三年回到青州時,正值劉裕(363-422)在晉朝末期收復北方的青、兗、司三州,積極造宋稱帝的時期。法顯上岸後即受到劉裕之弟劉(兗)青州(道憐,368-422)的邀請,在京口一冬一夏,建立了龍華寺;稍後在義熙十二年至十四年間,由劉氏集團中的孟顗、褚叔度(378-424)為檀越,於建業道場寺與佛馱跋陀羅(buddhabhadra, 359-429)共同翻譯經、律;最後法顯赴荊州辛寺終老。在法顯回國後的經歷中,隱隱可見國家與佛教兩種權力的交鋒,本文的目的有三:第一,釐析劉裕集團的佛國建構;第二,重溯晉宋之際佛教內部的交際網絡與佛學背景;第三,探討其在中國佛教發展史的意義。


  1. Prof. Qu Jinliang  曲金良(中國海洋大學): 法顯“浮海東還”的歷史與當代意義


  1. 法顯浮海東還傳記的歷史文獻價值。這是中外歷史上以親身航海經歷描述記錄東海—印度洋海上絲綢之路實際狀況的世界第一人。
  2. 法顯浮海東還的歷史作用。一是親自帶來了佛經佛像等佛教原典,二是反映了佛教在南海-印度洋海路上的歷史原貌;三是記錄了南海-印度洋的海上航路;四是記錄了南海-印度洋的海上商貿狀況。
  3. 法顯浮海東還的歷史影響。一是引發了後世佛僧的大量海路求法;二是促進了佛教在中土的廣泛傳播;三是奠基了佛經翻譯、佛教東傳的中國化道路;四是開啟了宗教傳播成為“海上絲綢之路”重要內涵的歷史;五是留下了大量相關“海歸”文化遺產,如青島法顯登岸處、平度與青州佛教造像、徐州華龍寺等,以及法顯東歸的精神意義。
  4. 法顯浮海東還的當代意義。


  1. Prof. Michael Radich (Victoria University of Wellington): “Was the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra大般涅槃經 T7 translated by Faxian 法顯?”

In the Taishō canon, the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra  大般涅槃經 T7 is attributed to Faxian. However, on the basis of an examination of reports in the catalogues about various Chinese versions of the Mainstream Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra, Iwamatsu Asao  岩松淺夫once questioned whether Faxian ever translated any such text. Iwamatsu argued further, on the basis of unspecified features of translation terminology and phraseology, that T7 should be reascribed to Guṇabhadra 求那跋陀羅. This paper will examine the problem of the attribution of T7 on the basis of a detailed examination of its language.


  1. Dr. Nicolas Revire (Thammasat University, Bangkok): “‘Please Be Seated’: The Account of Faxian and Related Legends on the First Buddha Image”

In this paper, I compare and examine several legendary traditions relating to the appearance of the “first” icon of the living Buddha. The legend is well known across Buddhist Asia and was particularly influential in first-millennium China. Faxian 法顯 (337– ca  422), one of the first Chinese pilgrims to travel to India in the early 400s CE, left a fairly detailed report on this “first image” of the Buddha. The account given in his important travelogue, A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms (or Foguo ji 佛國記), states that King Prasenajit of Śrāvastī ordered the statue to be executed in sandalwood during the Buddha’s lifetime, when the Lord departed on a preaching journey. Many related legends from China, Japan, Tibet, Sri Lanka, and even mainland Southeast Asia exist. But, according to this copious literary evidence, what exactly did the “sandalwood” model look like? While these narratives may enjoy numerous variations and additions, all versions — starting with Faxian’s ― agree that the sandalwood image was originally intended to be seated on a throne, despite common and later assertions that it was a standing statue. This paper thus proposes a different interpretation for the appearance of the first “enthroned” Buddha image.


  1. Dr. Shao Tiansong  邵天松(三江學院文學與新聞傳播學院): 日本石山寺藏《法顯傳》寫本研究

《法顯傳》(又名《佛國記》《歷游天竺記傳》等),東晉法顯撰。法顯於東晉隆安三年(公元399年)從長安出發,西行求法,義熙八年(公元412年)歸抵嶗山登陸。該書作爲佛教傳入中國後第一本記錄至印度取經歷程的行記,記載了一千五六百年以前中亞、南亞和東南亞的歷史、地理、宗教、風俗等情況,因此《法顯傳》一書具有極高的史料價值,歷代藏經均有著錄。章巽先生1985年曾以北京圖書館(今國家圖書館)所藏南宋刊印的《思溪圓覺藏》本《法顯傳》爲底本,同時以《崇寧藏》本、《毗盧藏》本、《資福藏》本、《磧砂藏》本、《趙城金藏》本、《大正藏》本 (章巽先生校注中雲,參考的是《高麗藏》本。但據其說明,此《高麗藏》乃是據《大正藏》的排印本。我們認爲雖然《大正藏》的主體部分是以《高麗藏》爲底本,但二者畢竟不同,所以根據實際情況,還是以表述成《大正藏》本為宜。) 、《津逮秘書》本、《學津討原》本、《支那內學院》本以及《水經注》中引《法顯傳》的文字部分進行參校。尤其值得注意的是章巽先生還用用了三種日本古寫本進行了參校,這三種古寫本分別是日本長寬二年(1164年)石山寺藏《法顯傳》寫本、日本鐮倉初期《法顯傳》寫本殘本、日本應永七年南禪寺藏《法顯傳》寫本。章巽先生特別指出:“石本(筆者按,即石山寺藏《法顯傳》寫本)雖較刻本難認,且較多錯別字,但細細探尋,佳處實多。”



  1. Dr. Jue-wei Shi  釋覺瑋(Nan Tien Institute, Wollongong, Australia): Living Faxian’s Legacy in Modern Times: Connecting Past and Present, East and West

Faxian’s legacy is far-reaching.  Not only has he inspired many Chinese pilgrims to traverse the Silk Roads in search of “original” Buddhist texts, Faxian’s Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms has served as an important travelogue for international relations.  Almost 1,600 years later, it is still a source of inspiration, but to an American artist volunteering in a Chinese Buddhist temple.

In 2014, artist Dr. Nancy Cowardin from southern California was inspired to paint 25 chapters of the text derived from James Legge’s translation and annotation of Faxian’s Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms.  This endeavor was Part 2 of a series of art projects that a multi-disciplinary team of volunteers created for the Buddha’s Birthday Education Project that I initiated two years earlier.  In this Project, we made accessible Buddha’s Birthday celebrations documented in Chinese literary texts using various art and animation forms.  It was inevitable that the research led artists to the Spread of Buddhism along the Silk Roads and the pilgrims’ travelogues of Buddha’s Birthday celebrations in these kingdoms.  Faxian’s Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms contained some of the earliest descriptions.

After completing a well-researched painting of a Northern Wei Buddha’s Birthday celebration documented in the Record of Buddhist Monasteries in Luoyang and a Silk Road scroll in 2012, Cowardin was motivated to work on the Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms in 2013.  The paintings were later hand-bound into an exquisite coffee-table book.  Together with the paintings were extracts from the Record as well as carefully-researched maps of his journey.  Since she began on this piece of work about the same age when Faxian undertook his treacherous trip to the west, Cowardin felt that she had personally undertaken the pilgrimage together with Faxian.  This book has been exhibited at the Buddha’s Birthday Education Project worldwide tour as a part of its mission to educate the public on the journey of Buddha’s birthday celebrations from its hometown to the world over.

This presentation will examine how east meets west and past meets present in modern day through an inter-disciplinary project involving history, Buddhism, and art.  It extends the definition of ‘pilgrimage’ beyond a physical journey.  Cowardin’s experience may offer insight into a pilgrimage undertaken by a Buddhist today who wishes to partake in a sacred journey.  Issues that surfaced include encounters with ambiguous information, cultural differences between the artist and the sponsoring temple, as well as presentation methods (e.g. whether to preserve quality with one coffee table book or reduce quality but use internet technology to improve accessibility).  The extent to which skillful means may be employed will also be explored.

Faxian’s legacy has lived beyond China and the medieval period.  He remains an inspiration to many, even to this day.  This presentation will showcase the original exquisite coffee-table book, the spiritual journey of its artist, and the issues faced in multicultural societies when east meets west and past meets present.


  1. Prof. Sheng Kai 聖凱(清華大學): 敦煌遺書《毗尼心》與莫高窟196窟“戒壇窟”



  1. Prof. Sobhitha Thero (Department of History, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka): “Monk Faxian and Sri Lanka”

After China received Buddhism in the first century AD some Chinese monks were interested in going to India in order to worship Buddhist religious places, learn Buddhism and collect Buddhist canons. Monk Faxian was one of the monks who well accomplished this task in the fifth century AD. He started his journey from Chang’an in 399 AD and after visiting Mid Asian countries and India, came to Sri Lanka in 410 AD. He stayed in Sri Lanka for two years. Having returned to China he wrote his famous autobiography, “A Record of Buddhist Countries”. Chapters 37, 38 and 39 of this work contain invaluable information with regard to the history of Sri Lanka in general and the history of Buddhist monasteries of Sri Lanka in particular. One of the purposes of this article is to examine the significance of this work as a primary source in the study of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

A marked development of the relationship between Sri Lanka and China could be observed within a few decades after monk Faxian’s arrival in Sri Lanka. It could be surmised that this was due to his arrival in Sri Lanka. Therefore, examining the contribution made by Faxian in the development of Sino Sri Lankan relationship is also another objective of this research. A further aim of this research is to examine the studies already done on Faxian and his book by some Sri Lankan scholars.

Literary as well as archaeological sources would be used in this research. Attention would be paid to literary sources along with Chinese, English and Sinhala secondary sources. Also a comparison between Faxian’s record and evidence of archaeological sources of Abhayagirivihara in Anuradhapura will be undertaken.


  1. Prof. Sun Yinggang 孫英剛(浙江大學歷史系): 法顯所見雀離浮圖在中土的影響

布路沙不邏成為貴霜王朝的首都,這裡也被打造成為佛教中心。除了將佛缽從佛陀故地運到這裡安置之外,迦膩色伽還建造了可能是當時最為高大恢宏的紀念碑性建築——迦膩色伽大塔(Cakra Stupa)。這座位於布路沙不邏的佛教建築,對遙遠的中國本土也產生了影響,它頻繁地以“雀離浮屠”、“雀離浮圖”、“雀離佛圖”等名字出現在漢文典籍中。布路沙不邏的這座偉大佛塔,在數百年間應該是世界上最高的建築。當來自東土西行求法或者巡禮的中國僧人如法顯從阿富汗的高山上下到犍陀羅平原時,首先看到的,就是這座令人震驚的宏偉高塔。漢文史料中,都明確把這座雀離浮圖和迦膩色伽連在一起。這座塔,正是建造在罽尼吒城(布路沙不邏)的。城和塔,都以君主迦膩色伽的名字命名。而“雀離浮圖”,是“輪王塔”的意思,顯指迦膩色伽的佛教法王身份。關於這座偉大佛塔的記載,基本都出自漢文史料。因為這座佛塔太過偉大和有名,所以沿著絲綢之路東來的路上,很多佛塔也用雀離的名字命名。


  1. Prof. Wang Bangwei 王邦維(北京大學東方文學研究中心): 關於《法顯傳》中的竭叉國



  1. Prof. Wang Xuemei 王雪梅(西華師範大學歷史文化學院): 描摹與改造: 法顯所傳彌勒信仰考述



  1. Dr. Wu Weilin 吳蔚琳(深圳大學): 法顯譯《摩訶僧祇律》研究述評以及幾點再思考

法顯譯《摩訶僧祇律》是一部大眾部的律典。國內外學界這部律典有不少研究,出版發表了Buddhist Monastic Discipline: The Sanskrit Pratimoksa Sutras of the Mahasanghikas and MulasarvastivadinsMonastic Discipline for the Buddhist NunsDie Abhisamācārikā Dharmāḥ: Verhaltensregeln fur buddhistische Mönche der Mahāsāṃghika Lokottaravādins, 《僧祇律在華的譯出、弘揚與潛在影響》、《〈摩訶僧祇律〉情態動詞研究》、《〈摩訶僧祇律〉の構造》、《〈摩訶僧祇律〉記述之文學故事概觀》等研究論著。通過整理歸納,筆者發現,前輩學人的研究成果大致可分成梵漢文本對勘研究、詞類研究、戒律學研究三大類。本文擬對這三大類研究成果進行綜合述評,並通過對《摩訶僧祇律》中“三杖”用法的再考察、“園民”的考釋等例證對《摩訶僧祇律》的文本研究提出幾點思考。


  1. Prof. Xue Keqiao  薛克翹(中國社會學院亞太所): 從法顯“五天竺”到玄奘“五印度”



  1. Prof. Yan Yaozhong  嚴耀中(復旦大學文史研究院): 法顯與玄奘所見外道之比較


  1. Yang Weizhong 杨维中(University of Nanking 南京大學): 从《佛国记》若干细节论法显“其人恭順,言輒依實”的品格









  1. Prof. Zhang Jian 張箭(四川大學歷史文化學院): 剖析法顯航渡美洲說 (An Analysis of the So-called Theory of Buddhist Monk Faxian’s Sailing to America in the 5th Century)

法顯《佛國記》所記的從斯裡蘭卡到耶婆提的航行日期應該斷句和理解為九天或十天,而非九十多天。任何人在這麼短的或一個月的時間內是不可能駕乘木帆船橫渡太平洋到達美洲的。法顯所記的到達耶婆提之前的航向是一直向東,而非東—東南—東北—北—東。法顯說的從耶婆提回中國廣州的航向前期百余日是東北向,後期十二日是西北向。結果最後到達中國青島。這既是基本航行計劃,也是實際航線。走這樣的航向航線,是不可能從墨西哥到中國的。《羅摩衍那》稱爪哇為雅哇德維帕,托勒密稱爪哇為雅巴迪歐,它們後來演變為爪哇德維帕 (Javadvipa),最後簡稱為爪哇(Java)。它們與墨西哥的阿卡普爾科沒有絲毫關系。而且阿卡普爾科是16世紀才興起的一座城鎮。這個地名的形成晚了爪哇1700多年。因此,古代的阿卡普爾科和它的所謂前身耶卡婆爾只是一個烏有之鄉。所以,所謂法顯航渡美洲說不過是個天方夜譚。The voyage time from Ceylon to Yepoti recorded by Faxian’s The Record of Buddhist Kingdoms should be punctuated and comprehended as 9 or 10 days instead of more than 90 days. Therefore, it is impossible for anyone to cross the Pacific by a junk in such short period or within a month. The only orientation of navigation before reaching Yepoti recorded by Faxian is eastward straight instead of eastward→ southeastward→northeastward→northward→eastward. Faxian tells us clearly that the orientation of navigation from Yepoti back to the Chinese Guangzhou is northeastward in earlier more than 100 days, then northwestward in later 12 days. In the end they reached the Chinese Qingdao. This was their basic plan of voyage and their actual course of voyage also. Via such orientation and course it is impossible to reach China from Mexico. The Ramayana calls Java Yav(w)adv(w)ipa and Ptolemy names it Iabadia, which were changed to Jav(w)adv(w)ipa afterwards, and simplifies as Java at last. They have nothing to do with the Mexican Acapulco. Furthermore, Acapulco was a town that emerged only in 16th century. The formation of this place name is later than Java for more than 1,700 years. The so-called ancient Acapulco and its predecessor Yecapole is just a Utopia. Therefore, the doctrine of Buddhist Monk Faxian’s Sailing to America is like an Arabian Nights.


  1. Prof. Zhang Xuesong 張雪松(中國人民大學): 從法顯生平管窺晉宋之際中國佛教戒律的實踐與流傳



  1. Prof. Zhang Yong   張勇 (四川大學文學與新聞學院): 眾食”、“客僧”暨“四方僧房”考——法顯所見的西域僧侶客居風習