Sri Lanka marks 1600th anniversary of Fa-hsien's visit

In the run-up to Vesak Day happening later this week, The Sri Lanka-China Society is commemorating the 1600th anniversary of Fa-hsien’s visit to Sri Lanka. Fa-hsien was a Buddhist monk from China who travelled west to India to retrieve Buddhist scriptures. His journey took him to Sri Lanka in the year 410, and he travelled back to China by sea through Southeast Asia. His travelogue is recorded in A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms, Being an Account by the Chinese Monk Fa-Hien of his Travels in India and Ceylon in Search of the Buddhist Books of Discipline.

Marking 1600th anniversary of Fa-hsian’s visit
Asian Tribune, 24 May 2010

This year marks the 1600 the anniversary of the itinerant Chinese Buddhist monk Venerable Fa-hsian’s (also known as Faxian) visit to Sri Lanka.

The exact day and month of his arrival in the island is not known but the year, according to Chinese records, is 410 AD. – four years after Bhikku Dhammayana took the first Buddha statue from Sri Lanka to China.

The Sri Lanka-China Society jointly with the Chinese Embassy have organised special religious events this Vesak month at Anuradhapura in memory of Ven. Fa-hsian’s visit.

In a commemorative lecture on the event, Senior Lecturer, Sabaragamuwa University Dr. Hao Weimin said that the key aspects of the age-old ties between his country and Sri Lanka were the Silk Road and Buddhism. He was speaking in Sinhala on ‘China-Sri Lanka Historical relations: An Overview,’ at the Royal Asiatic Society auditorium at the Mahaweli Centre, Colombo. Dr. Weimin’s own parents were born close to Ven. Fa-hsian’s birth place in the Yellow River Valley in China’s Shanxi Province. Fa-hsian’s original name was Kung. Admitted to the Buddhist Order at the age of three he was given the religious name Fa-hsien which means Law Manifest.


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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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