The Record of the Monasteries of Luoyang:
The Establishment of the White Horse Temple
By Yang Xuanzhi
The establishment of the Baima Temple (Temple of the White Horse) by Emperor Ming of the Han markedthe introduction of Buddhism into China. The temple was located on the south side of the Imperial Drive, three lisoutside the Xiyang Gate.
The emperor dreamed of the golden man sixteen Chinese feet tall, with the aureole of sun and moon radiat-ing from his head and his neck. A "golden god," he was known as Buddha. The emperor dispatched envoys to theWestern Regions in search of the god, and, as a result, acquired Buddhist scriptures and images. At the time,because the scriptures were carried into China on the backs of white horses, White Horse was adopted as thename of the temple.
After the emperor's death, a hall for meditation was built on his tomb. Thereafter stopas were sometimesconstructed even on the graves of the common people.
The scripture cases housed in the temple have survived until this day; to them incense was often burned andgood care was given. At times, the scripture cases gave off light that illuminated the room and hall. As a result,both laymen and Buddhist devotees reverently worshiped as if they were facing the real Buddha.
In front of the stupa were pomegranate trees and grapevines that were different from those grown elsewhere:they had luxuriant foliage and huge fruits. The pomegranates each weighed seven cattles, and the grapes werebigger than dates. The taste of both was especially delicious, superior to all others in the capital. At harvest timethe emperor often came in person to pick them. Sometimes he would give some to ladies in the harem, who in turnwould present them as gifts to their relatives. They were considered rare delicacies. The recipients often hesitatedto eat them; instead, the fruits would be passed on and on to several households.
In the capital there was a saying:“Sweet pomegranates of the White Horse, Each fruit is as valuable as an ox.”