Who was the first Chinese Traveller to India?

By Ritesh|Updated : September 6th, 2022

The first Chinese Traveler to India was Faxien, often referred to as Fa-Hien, in the early fifth century. He came to look for the Buddhist scriptures, which was the reason for his visit. China Buddhist monk and translator Faxian, also well known as Fa-Hien, Fa-Hsien, and Sehi, lived from 337 to 422 AD.

First Chinese Traveller To India - Faxien

  • He went on foot from China to India for the collection of Buddhist writings.
  • Between 399 and 412 AD, he spent more than 9 years in India before setting off on his grueling journey, visiting sacred Buddhist sites in Central, Southeast Asia, and South.
  • His travelogue Record of Buddhist Kingdoms (Foguo Ji) describes his voyage.
  • His autobiography is an unbiased account of early Buddhism in India.
  • He brought several Sanskrit writings, many of which serve as the terminus ante quem for historical names, events, texts, and ideas, and whose translations influenced East Asian Buddhism.

Faxian Memoirs:

The diaries of Faxian provide an unbiased account of the societies and cultures of the locations he visited, particularly 400 CE ancient India.

  • His interpretations of the Sanskrit manuscripts he brought to China are a crucial tool for establishing the dates of texts, specific people, and Buddhist traditions.
  • He claims to have fled India from Tamralipti, an east coast port, around 409.
  • However, a few of his Chinese traveling companion pilgrims decided to remain in India.

His works:

  • Record of Buddhist Kingdoms, James Legge (1886, trans. ), Asian Educational Service, 1993; Narrative of the Chinese Monk Fâ-Hien of his Travels in India and Ceylon (399-414 CE) in Search of Buddhist Books of Discipline;
  • Herbert A. Giles (1877, trans.), A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms: Translated from the Chinese, Cornell University Library (June 25, 2009);

Summary:

Who was the first Chinese Traveller to India?

Chinese Buddhist monk and translator Faxian, also known as Fa-Hien, was the one who came first to India from China. He journeyed by foot from China to India for a collection of Buddhist writings.

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