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0236 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 236 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Identity of Mounts Go§rnga and



` In the scarp of the "Cow's Horn " (Go§rnga) hill there is a dwelling carved in the rocks, where there is an Arhat plunged in the ecstasy which destroys thought ; he awaits the coming of Maitreya Buddha. During several centuries constant homage had been paid to him. In recent times the rocks 6 have fallen in and obstructed the entrance. The king of the country sent soldiers to remove the fallen rocks, but swarms of black wasps attacked the men with poisonous stings. Hence to the present day the rock entrance has remained closed'.

Hsüan-tsang's reference to the prophecy which Buddha was believed to have made on Mount Gogrnga about the future foundation of Khotan and its attachment to the Law has enabled Mr. Rockhill to recognize in this sacred site the Gogirsa mountain, where the legend recorded by the Tibetan ` Annals of Li-yul ' makes Buddha stay for seven days on his visit to the lake of Li-yul and predict its future conversion into the land of Khotan 7. The designation of Go.tirsa (cow's head) mountain, which this Tibetan legend gives to the site, is close enough to the Go.trnga of Hsüan-tsang's text, and we find distinct mention in the ` Annals of Li-yul' of a temple and monastery at the site. In the passage relating the prediction, the Blessed One is said to have ` remained for seven days for the weal of mankind in the temple to the left-hand side of the great figure on the Goçircha mountain, where there is now a little tchaitya ' 6. We read subsequently, in the account of Vijayavirya's reign, that ` this king built on the Oxhead mountain (Goçircha), the Hgen-to-shan vihâra' 9.

The identity of the sacred hill thus variously designated as Mount Gogrnga and Gogirsa is now fortunately established with certainty through some interesting passages which M. Sylvain Lévi has recently brought to light from Chinese and Tibetan sources, and at the same time interpreted with critical accuracy. The Chinese translation of the Siiryagarbha-sutra made by Narendrayagas between the years 589 and 619 A.D., in a list of holy spots (pilha) sanctified by the presence of a Bodhisattva, mentions the residence and Caitya of the saint Chü-mo-so-lo

lisiang ,   ' `    , or Gomasalagandha, near Mount Niu-t`ou (Oxhead : Gogirsa), on the
steeply-scarped bank of the river in Yü-t`ien 10. In the Tibetan version of this text the same passage is reproduced thus: ` In the Kha-§a country, at the place of " the Earth's breast " (Sa'i-nu-ma, i.e. Kustana), on the mountainous bank of the Gomati, close to Mount " Cow's Horn " (Glare-ru, i.e. Gogrnga), there resides Go-ma-sa-la Gandha ' 11. A comparison of the two versions leaves no doubt as to the application of the names Go§rnga and ` Cow's Head' to the same sacred hill, and further supplies a valuable indication by placing the saint's residence on the steep bank of the river called Gomati.

We find another reference to this river, which clearly corresponds to the Kara-kash, coupled with Mount Gogirsa in a passage of the Yin-i, a Buddhist exegetical work composed during the eighth to ninth century12. In a brief notice on Yü-t`ien, to which we shall have again to

Gosirsa mountain

of Tibetan texts.

s Rémusat's ` Sur, l'escarpement du mont ' suits the actual locality better than Julien's (and Beal's) ` Dans les cavernes du mont '. The expression rendered by Julien's ` une chambre creusée dans le roc ' and Beal's great rock-dwelling ', is manifestly the same as the one which Hsüan-tsang regularly uses for the designation of natural caves, and which in Julien's version usually appears as grande maison en pierre'; comp. e. g. the descriptions of the sacred caves near Rajgir (Râjagrha, in Bihar) Mémoires, ii. pp. 14 sq., 27, 32, &c., with my notes on these caves in Ind. Ant., 1901, pp. 57 sqq.

9 Julien : ' les bords de la montagne ' ; Rémusat, ' les roches ', which are manifestly what is meant.

7 See above, pp. 159 sq. ; Rockhill, Life of the Buddha, pp. 232 sq.

s The form Goçircha used here is manifestly only an imperfect transcription of Skr. Gosirsa ` cow's head'.

9 See Rockhill, loc. cit., p. 238. According to a cornmunication from Mr. Thomas, the correct form of the name as given in the text is The original permits equally of the rendering of the name by ` Cow's head mountain '. See also App. E.

10 Compare S. Lévi, Notes chinoises sur l'Inde, iv. pp. 3 r, 40. " See S. Lévi, loc. cit., iv. p. 40.

12 Compare S. Lévi, loc. cit., p. 39.