National Institute of Informatics - Digital Silk Road Project
Digital Archive of Toyo Bunko Rare Books

> > > >
Color New!IIIF Color HighRes Gray HighRes PDF   Japanese English
0060 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 60 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

New!Citation Information

doi: 10.20676/00000183
Citation Format: Chicago | APA | Harvard | IEEE

OCR Text


14   ACROSS SWAT AND DIR   [Chap. 1

Hsiiantsang's visit to Udyana.

Description of Udyana in Hsi yil- chi.

The people of Udyana.


The expansion of Chinese political influence westwards which soon followed the accession of the Tang dynasty early in the seventh century, is marked also by a considerable increase in the information which Chinese records have preserved about the ` Western Regions ' and India. In the case of Udyana, the advantage derived from this is mainly through the detailed account which Hsuan.tsang, the great monk of the Tang period ', has left of his visit to this territory about the year A. D. 63o. Here, as elsewhere, in the vast area covered by his travels, there is reason to regret that the pious pilgrim's attention was so closely riveted upon matters of sacred tradition and doctrine to the exclusion of more worldly interests. Thus, for example, he fails to mention whether

the kingdom of Wu-chang-na ,60   Nis was then one of the twelve dependent territories of the
ruler of Chia-pi-shih or Kabul, or had a king of its own as a notice of the Tang Annals seems to prove for A.D. 642.1 As in Gandhâra, Hsüan-tsang found Buddhism here fallen low from its once flourishing condition described by the earlier pilgrims. Yet the traditional fame of the region was still great enough to induce him to give a general description of the country and people which presents distinct points of interest.

Hsüan-tsang started for Udyana northward from the city of Udabhanda or Und on the Indus and reached it after six marches across mountains and valleys.2 He describes it as being more than 5,000 li in circumference, and comprising mountains and valleys, marshy plains and elevated plateaus, a description which correctly reflects the varied configuration of Swat ground. The products of the soil, though varied, were not plentiful. There was abundance of grapes, but only little sugar-cane. The country produced gold, iron, and saffron ; 3 there was a vigorous growth of forest, and flowers and fruit-trees flourished. Cold and heat were moderate, with wind and rain at regular seasons. The people were of a soft and pusillanimous character, and by nature inclined to craft and deceit. They were fond of study, but did not pursue it with ardour. The science of magical formulae had become with them an art and a profession. They were chiefly dressed in white calico. Their spoken language, in spite of some differences, bore much resemblance to that of India. The same applied to their written characters and their manners.4

The description of the physical conditions here given is in close accord with the actual aspects of the country. What is said of the character of the people can be explained partly by the

debilitating influence which extensive rice cultivation, as practised in Lower Swat, is known to exercise upon Eastern races ; an influence which the present Pathan settlers, too, relatively recent

immigrants as they are, are believed to be undergoing. The reputation which Udyana enjoyed

as a home of magic is reflected in the legend which Sung )(ün heard in Sarikol of a king who, in order to overcome a wicked dragon of that region, proceeded to Udyana, and after having there studied

the magical incantations of the Brahmans for four years, returned and successfully exorcized the Naga.5 This practice of magical rites must have been closely bound up with the special prevalence of the Mahayana form of Buddhism in these parts. Hence Sir Henry Yule's just observation : ` The doctrines of Sakya, as they prevailed in Udyana in old times, were probably strongly tinged

1 See below. The way in which both the Hsi yii-chi and the Life refer to Ta-li-lo as the former seat of the king of Udyana seems to suggest that there was a local dynasty which had conquered Udyana from that side.

8 Cf. Julien, Mémoires, i. pp. 131 sqq. ; Watters, Yuan Chwang, i. pp. 225 sqq.

3 Gold is washed, though only in very modest quantities,

from the sands of the Swat River ; iron is mentioned in Swat by Aba-l-Fazl (see Raverty, Notes on Afghamslàn, p. 166) and is still smelted from gravel on the Panjkôra headwaters ; see Geograph.Journal, xl. p. 53.

4 Thus Julien ; Watters, loc. cil., translates : ' The rules of their written language were in a rather unsettled state.' '' See Chavannes, Voyage de Song Fun, p. 2 I.