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preceptor."1 This causes impossible ages to be given to some of the monks, 170, 140 years, and so on; and 'prophecies about Moggaliputta Tissa and Aśoka have been foisted into the deliberations of the council. The subjects discussed, such as whether an ascetic may sit on seats covered with fringes, may drink whey, whether also he is forbidden to eat after midday, or is allowed a few minutes' grace until the shadow of the declining sun is two inches long, plainly belong to times when monks are fat and idle, not lean and active. Fortunately, too, we can completely disprove this second convocation from pure history. Megasthenes visited Patna B.C. 302 to 298. As Buddha died 470 B.C., and the second convocation took place at Vaiśâlî one hundred years after his death, it must have taken place B.C. 370. So Megasthenes visited Patna, which is about twenty miles from Vaisâlî, not more than seventy years after the second convocation. Instead of finding lazy Buddhist monks living in sumptuous monasteries and entering into puerile disputes about whether or not they were to have fringes to their couches and so on, he found the Buddhists with no other monasteries than the jangal and the mountain waste. Even the rich Brahmins, the official priests, dwelt in those days, as I have



Journ. Beng. As. Soc. vol. vi. p. 724. ? This is the date accepted by Max Müller, Bühler, and the chief authorities.

shown," in a “grove," and slept on skins of beasts and couches of leaves.

“The second convocation,” says Tiele, “said to have been held under a certain King Kâlâśoka, is as little historic as that prince himself.” 2

| From Megasthenes, see p. 162. 2 “ Ancient Religions,” p. 139.




I NOW come to the third convocation said to have been held in the reign of King Aśoka. And here we are on sure ground. Buddhaghosa's account of the thirty-four books“ reaffirmed” at this convocation can be proved to be pure fiction by the best of all possible evidence, the evidence of the Asoka stones. With Buddhaghosa's third convocation, of course, his first and second depart also to the Great Nowhere. I have been considering the building up of the Buddhaghosa legend, rather than seriously arguing against his history of the three convocations.

On the Bairât rock is a list of the “religious works” which Aśoka orders the monks and nuns to get by heart. This list consists of seven tractates; and in the Dhauli Separate Edict the king expressly orders that nothing else shall be recited at his temples except what he expressly enjoins.1

Cunningham, “Corp. Ins. Indicarum,” p. 128.


1. The Summary of Discipline.
2. The Supernatural Powers of the Masters.
3. The Terrors of the Future.
4. The Song of the Muni.
5. The Satra on Asceticism.
6. The Question of Upatishya.

7. The Admonition to Rahula concerning Falsehood, uttered by our Lord Buddha.

Nothing can be more important than this. If the Bairât rock-inscription is genuine, the Ceylon history of the convocations is pure fiction. I brought this argument forward in my “Buddha and Early Buddhism," and only one critic, Dr. Rhys Davids, has ever attempted to meet it. I will consider his answer presently.

It must be remembered that in the old Indian creeds holy books were handed down entirely by recitation. The letters of the alphabet, according to Professor Max Müller, General Cunningham, and the chief authorities, were not known in India until Asoka's day. We know from the Mahâwanso 2 that the holy books of Ceylon were not committed to writing until the reign of King Wattaganini (104 to 76 B.C.). So the books that Asoka ordered to be handed down by the recitation and chantings of his monks must have plainly constituted the entire body

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of the recognized Scriptures. In what way could any other Scriptures come down ? Dr. Oldenberg talks of these seven books as if they were “passages" only, he believing that the large body of Pâli Scriptures of Ceylon was in existence as early as the second convocation 1 But if they were "passages," who was to remember and recite the rest of the voluminous canon? Aśoka's monks were expressly forbidden so to do. In an article in the Saturday Review, generally attributed to Dr. Rhys Davids, reviewing my book “Buddha and Early Buddhism," is a second argument. The authorship perhaps is immaterial; but I give it the additional importance that it may derive from the doctor's name.

This is what he writes of my argument:

"His argument from the titles on the Asoka monuments cannot be seriously urged when know that they are rather descriptions of contents than fixed titles, and may be easily varied.” 2

This means, if I read it aright, that the titles refer to groups of books, not individual volumes.

But will this theory bear discussion any more than the other? The Muni Gâthâ, or Life of Buddha, in the only form that the doctor sanctions, is not a library, but a work that has in his view brevity for its most


1 “Buddhism,” p. 134, note. ? Saturday Review, Nov. 5, 1881.

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