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Fa Hien Biography

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FA HIEN, A Chinese Buddhist monk and traveler. He was a native of Wuyang, in the Province of Shan-si. During the years 399-414 A.D. he traveled extensively in India, Khotan (Yu-than), where he witnessed a great Buddhist festival, and Tibet in company with Hui King and other Chinese pilgrims. From Khotan he journeyed through Kashmir, Kabul, Kandahar, and the Punjab, to Central India, which he reached in 405, after six years of wandering. He remained in India for about 10 years, seeking complete copies of the Vinayapitaka and compiling information regarding Buddhism and the life of its founder, and then went to Ceylon where he copied many sacred texts. From there he embarked for Java, and arrived at his home in China once more in 414. After his return he wrote an account of his travels, called F˝-kue-ki, or story of the Buddhist countries. This journal is concise and chiefly taken up with a description of the sacred spots and objects of the Buddhist faith, which was at that time the dominant religion in India. The narrative has been translated into French by Rémusat (Paris, 1836) and into English by Beal (2d ed., London, 1884), Giles (Shanghai, 1877), and Legge (Oxford, 1886). He died in the monastery of Sin at the age of 88 years. Consult the introduction to Legge's translation; Beazley, Dawn of Modern Geography, vol. i ( 3 vols., Oxford, 1904-06); Giles, History of Chinese Literature (New York, 1901).

The New International Encyclopaedia, Vol. VIII (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1920) 331.