Among the various travelogues, Hiuen Tsiang's Si-yu-ki or Records of the
Western World, is regarded to be the most valuable source-book for the study of
ancient Indian history. Si-yu-ki is not merely a travel-diary recording Hiuen
Tsiang's visit to various places in India and the places en route, but is also
an account of the conditions of India during the seventh century. This journey
was undertaken by Hiuen Tsiang primarily with a view to visiting the Buddhist
places of pilgrimage and to seek answers to the questions agitating his mind. He
was inspired in this by the recollection of similar journeys undertaken
centuries ago by his predecessors, Fa-hien, Sung Yun and many others. In the
present volume, Samuel Beal has included, for the sake to completeness, Travels
of Fa-hian or Fo-Kwo-Ki. The mission of Sung-Yun and Hwei-Sang and the preface
to the Si-Yu-Ki by Chang Yueh.
Samuel Beal made an enormous contribution to Buddhist
Studies and the translation of Chinese travellers tales.