Magazine article UNESCO Courier

How Buddhism Came to Karnasuvarna

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

How Buddhism Came to Karnasuvarna

Article excerpt

How Buddhism came to Karnasuvarna KARNASUVARNA was 4,400 or 4,500 li in circumference and its capital was over 20 li in circumference. It was a prosperous state with a large population. Its land was low and moist and farming operations there were conducted regularly in accordance with the seasons. Everywhere in the state, there were blooming flowers and trees laden with rare fruits. The climate was temperate and the people were of good character. They were patrons of learning and beleived in both Buddhism and other religions. There were more than ten Buddhist monasteries and over two thousand Brethren who were all adherents of the Sammatiya School. There were also fifty Deva-Temples and the followers of the various religions were very numerous. There were another three Buddhist monasteries where the Brethren did not eat milk products in accordance with the teaching of Devadatta.

Near the capital was the Luoduoweizhi Monastery (or Red Mud Monastery in the language of the T'ang Dynasty). With its spacious rooms and courtyards and lofty pavilions and platforms, it was a magnificent and famous establishment, the resort of illustrious Brethren and scholars from throughout the state. They gathered there to exchange ideas and discuss theories and philosophies.

In earlier years, no one in the state believed in Buddhism. Once,a person of another religion from South India strutted into the capital with a walking stick in his hand, with his stomach girded by a copper sheathing and bearing on his head a light.

Someone asked this person: "Why are you putting such odd things around your stomach and on your head?"

The man answered: "I have too much learning and my stomach would burst out (if not protected by the copper sheathing) and I pity those stupid and ignorant masses, so I bear a light on my head to enlighten them."

He was beating a drum and challenging anyone to debate with him. Ten days went by, and no one dared to ask the man any questions. Even a search through all the elites in the state proved vain. …

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