Ambassador Dr. Palitha Kohona was the chief guest speaker at the 1689th birth anniversary celebration of monk Fa Xian at the city of Linfen in Shanxi. While marveling at the incredibly arduous journey undertaken by Fa Xian, he welcomed the revival of the spirit of adventure, travel and discovery by today’s inheritors of the Fa Xian tradition. He said that Sri Lanka was ready to welcome Chinese travellers in the same spirit as it had welcomed Fa Xian 1600 years ago.
Dr. Kohona shared the same thoughts at a meeting with the Secretary of the Party Leadership Committee, Hao ZhongXiang.
Fa Xian was born in Linfen and Linfen hosts an elaborate Fa Xian (Pa Hien) memorial. He started his epic journey in search of the original Vinaya (discipline) texts of the order of Buddhist monks at the age of 65. He learned Sanskrit at 70 in order master the texts available in India. After crossing the scorching Gobi Desert and traversing the daunting Hindu Kush mountains on foot, he reached Taxila. In India, he acquired the texts that he wanted and visited the holy places of Buddhism. Given Lanka’s reputation as a centre of Buddhist learning, he traveled to the “Lion Kingdom” by sea. After spending two years in the Lankan capital, Anuradhapura at the Abhayagiri Monastery, he returned to his homeland at the age of 79 via Java with his precious collection of Buddhist texts. He wrote about his pioneering and daunting journey (Records of Buddhist Kingdoms) and translated the holy texts to Chinese. His influence on Chinese Buddhism is seminal. Due to the impact Fa Xian’s journey had on opening up trade and travel routes, he could be described as an early pioneer of the BRI concept and globalisation.
Today, Linfen is priding itself as the birthplace of Fa Xian and may even be considering setting up an adventure travel option along the route taken by the indomitable Fa Xian.