Chinese Vegetarianism: Buddhist Roots

"...they only have their right hands cut off." - The Fa-Hsien Account

All south from this is named the Middle Kingdom. In it the cold and heat are finely tempered, and there is neither hoarfrost nor snow. The people are numerous and happy; they have not to register their households, or attend to any magistrates and their rules; only those who cultivate the royal land have to pay (a portion of) the grain from it. If they want to go, they go; if they want to stay on, they stay.

The king governs without decapitation or (other) corporal punishments. Criminals are simply fined, lightly or heavily, according to the circumstances (of each case). Even in cases of repeated attempts at wicked rebellion, they only have their right hands cut off. The king's body-guards and attendants all have salaries.

Throughout the whole country the people do not kill any living creature, nor drink intoxicating liquor, nor eat onions or garlic. The only exception is that of the Chandalas. That is the name for those who are (held to be) wicked men, and live apart from others. When they enter the gate of a city or a market-place, they strike a piece of wood to make themselves known, so that men know and avoid them, and do not come into contact with them. In that country they do not keep pigs and fowls, and do not sell live cattle; in the markets there are no butchers' shops and no dealers in intoxicating drink. Only the Chandalas are fishermen and hunters, and sell flesh meat.


Text taken from Project Gutenberg Etext "Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms, by Fa-Hien" (James Legge translation).

Art taken from "The Enlightenment Of Bodhisattva Kuan-Yin (Avalokiteshvara)" and "Guan Yin in White Clothes".

Last Updated: 10 Jul 2000        Feedback to