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THE

UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE.

SEPTEMBER, 1878.

PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.

A STUDENT of that primitive faith Persia, India, there would indeed which has become transformed into be a feast for the curious. modern Christianity may now and The difficulty with Buddhism is again, in the difficulties of critical not that there are too few records, analysis, find himself indulging a

but too many.

The Buddhist wish for the discovery of a fifth canon in China alone includes gospel. He would welcome the nearly fifteen hundred distinct simple and unadulterated collec- works. tion of inspired sayings which The peculiar interest in Chinese Matthew is recorded as having versions of books that have their made in the original Hebraic origin in India, is that they afford tongue; he would even be glad of a security that the originals have the Gospel of Marcion, or of that not been tampered with, or rather according to the Egyptians, or the a means of discovering in what Nazarenes, or the Hebrews, or of portions they are scarcely open to any one of those numerous orderly suspicion of modification from narratives referred to by the primitive form. Wherever is found polished later editor, Luke. Or a parallelism, amounting almost the English scholar might be both to identity, between passages of a inquisitive and proud if among work in Pali (the native tongue of ancient British relics there could Buddhism), and a Chinese version but be disentombed a record giving of it made fifteen hundred years the unconventional views of Simon ago, the evidence is good that the the Zealot, who is said to have passage so found has remained travelled westward as far as our intact during that period at least, in island, and to have been crucified spite of those changes of sectarian here. Or if any of the notes of feeling, which almost insensibly unbelieving Thomas should be leave their marks upon a text. found, rendered into the languages A recently published translation of the countries he is traditionally from Chinese into English of an reported to have visited, Parthia, authentic Buddhist work,* when

* Texts from the Buddhist canon, commonly known as “ Dhammapada," with accompanying narratives. Translated from the Chinese by Samuel Beal, Professor of Chinese, University College, London. (Trübner and Co., 1878.)

rear.

compared with a version already There have I stood where Asok’s pillar high made from the Pali,* affords an Through thousand years doth Asok's

mandate's bear; excellent verification of Buddhist

There still it stands unmoved athwart doctrines before they had become

the sky; thinly drawn out into metaphysics One of the mightiest world did ever and intellectuality, or extended into florid idolatry to suit the Whether perpetuated in writing, ignorant.

or orally, as was the manner of Between five or six centuries ancient priests, whose memories by before the era by which we reckon practice and the worldly uneventbegins, is the date of the young fulness of their life, far transprince who grew up into the com- cended what we know of memory manding prophet, the founder of -while probably they had division Buddhism. When he died, leaving of labour even in tradition, and no written teachings behind him, stored a book or two each indi. as the story goes, his cousin and vidual the Buddhistic collecdisciple Ananda took up the task tions were soon gathered into a of collecting the words of wisdom canon bearing the name of “the that his memory, and possibly the Three Baskets.” But, in spite of memory of others also, had stored. the anxious care that had been Probably a great portion, although bestowed, the pious collectors had put into form, was held in memory been human, with their little ten—not in manuscript-and only dencies to bias, their little incapapromulgated orally. Councils of cities of understanding, like ourdisciples met to revise these grow- selves, and there soon came to be ing collections-growing first, no disputes among the defenders of doubt out of accruing recollections, the faith. afterwards by the additions of The first redaction is said to ingenious commentators, editors, have taken place immediately after and improvers. It must not be the death of Sakya-muni, under forgotten that the prophet did not the care of five hundred monks, launch his gospel upon ears unac

three of the principal disciples of customed to the words of philo- the master sharing the task of sophy, but introduced it into the gathering together his words. The midst of the grand and long-esta- next redaction took place in about blished religious tenets of his a century, for discord had already country, from which beliefs more- arisen, and the Buddhist leaders over his own differed, as would felt the necessity of assembling to appear, rather by being a heighten- decide upon difficult questions of ing or reawakening of them than canonicity a contradiction.

Something over four centuries The third of these Buddhist after the time of the master councils was held under King there were eighteen separate sects Asoka, about two centuries and a of Buddhists. Eighteen sects in half before our era. Of this Asoka four hundred years! At the same there are authentic inscriptions in rate, this would only allow Chrisexistence of the date named.

tendom in its eighteen hundred Hindu versifier of the present years to have eighty bodies disgeneration writes :

As a

senting from one another.

* Buddhaghosha's Parables. Translated from Burmese by Capt. H. T. Rogers, R.E. With an Introduction, containing “ Buddha's Dhammapadam, or Path of Virtue ; translated from Pali, by F. Max Müller.

In his preface to the “Dhamma- This is a most lame and impopada," Max Müller refers to “the tent conclusion, and in each case problem, so often started, whether in which an accepted Christian it is possible to distinguish between text has been discovered to be the Buddhism and the personal teach- gloss of a commentator, and not ing of Buddha.” He argues as

found in the earliest manuscripts, follows: “We possess the Budd- and is at the same time manifestly hist canon, and whatever is found at variance from the doctrine of in that canon we have a right to Christ, Professor Müller's arguconsider as the orthodox Buddhist ment can evidently be reduced to doctrine. But as there has been an absurdity. Had he said simply no lack of efforts in the Christian the Three Baskets are the accepted theology to distinguish between scriptures of orthodox Buddhism, the doctrine of the founder of our the Four Gospels of orthodox religion and that of the writers of Christianity, he would have uttered the Gospels; to go beyond the that which, if a truism, is at least canon of the New Testament, and

a fact. to make the dóyla of the Master It is disappointing to find a the only solid rule of faith, so the distinguished student of comparasame want was felt at a very early tive religious lore so resigning period among the followers of himself to the abandonment of a Buddha. King Asoka, the Indian difficulty. It must, however, be Constantine, had to remind the allowed that western civilisation is assembled priests at the great still very young in philosophic council which had to settle the experience. Doctrinal fetters have Buddhist canon that what had long cramped the mind, and prebeen said by Buddha, that alone vented its expansion in the ethical was well said.'

direction. Moreover, the leading “ Works attributed to Buddha, race of Europe has not long but declared to be apocryphal, or emerged from insular barbarism, even heterodox, existed already at and four centuries ago was almost that time (246 B.c.). Thus we are without culture in foreign languages by no means without authority for and foreign thought. The time distinguishing between Buddhism is not long past when, if a few and the teaching of Buddha; the bones of an extinct animal had only question is, Whether in our been placed before a naturalist, and time such a separation is still he were asked to reconstruct the practicable.”

whole anatomy upon their basis, "My belief is,” continues Pro- he would have smiled with the fessor Müller, “that, in general, superior wisdom of ignorance upon all honest inquirers must oppose his inquirer's absurd folly. Now a 'No' to this question, and confess he will not only build up the pro that it is useless to try to cast a bable anatomical form, but cerglance beyond the boundaries of tainly eliminate from the bones the Buddhist canon. What we find placed before him such as do not in the canonical books in the so- consist with the others as having called Three Baskets' is orthodox belonged to a creature of a given Buddhism and the doctrine of type. Buddha, similarly as must May we not hope, therefore, that accept in general whatever we find as sympathetic study of ancient in the Four Gospels as orthodox philosophy progresses, the power Christianity and the doctrine of

may be found to grow of distinChrist."

guishing between characteristic

we

expressions of thought, as is done whole, of what has been long with different varieties of bones ? accepted as the logia. For example, And that to body forth the after a little investigation, we have thoughts of a distinctive thinker found no difficulty in expunging with more or less fulness and certi- the whole of the fable, which goes tude we shall require but to have by the name of Gotama's battle before us authentic relics known with Mára (Mára himself seems to to have proceeded from him. partake of the nature of the Evil

Professor Müller somewhat One, Death and Cupid). There is fritters away the force of his nega- no more mystery in the very logia tive, and, while professing to main- of Gotama than in works on other tain his stronghold, abandons his religions. We find no authority separate forts, when he continues for the predictions regarding disas follows in respect to the Budd. tinguished persons who lived in hist scriptures:

after times.” “Still, with regard to certain Mr. D’Alwis says further, “The doctrines and facts, the question, I Three Baskets do not contain think, ought to be asked again and entirely the words of Gotama. again, whether it may not be pos

None of them are free from addisible to advance a step further, tions, and the discourses themeven with the conviction that we selves show that they are not cannot arrive at results of apodictic without omissions. The formal certainty ? If it happens that on conclusion of several of the Sútras, certain points we find in different which is everywhere identically the parts of the canon, not only same, is essentially the language of doctrines differing from each other, the disciples. .. The Kathá but plainly contradictory to each Vatthupakarana, the third book of other, it follows, surely, that only the Abhidhamma, was added by one of these can have belonged to Moggaliputta Tissou, with the Buddha personally. In such a avowed intention of refuting the case, therefore, I believe we have a doctrines in the apocryphal and right to choose, and I believe we heterodox works' to which Max shall be justified in accepting that Müller refers. . . . Then, again, view as the original one, the one we have grave doubts as to the peculiar to Buddha himself, which genuineness of some of the books harmonises least with the later . the language of which, both system of orthodox Buddhism." as regards style and grammar, is

There is a large amount of force different from the undoubted logia in Professor Müller's concluding of Gotama. Again, there is suggestion, and we may remark it reason to believe that Ananda, the as curious that he has not carried beloved pupil of Gotama, imported on his parallelism of Buddhism much of his own ideas into the with Christianity in regard to the Pari-nibbána Sutta." applicability of the very searching The similarity between the test he puts forward.

account above given, and the quesAnother Buddhistic student, Mr. tions arising out of the growth of D’Alwis, of Ceylon, takes a very the Christian Scriptures, such as different view from that of Pro- the dogmatic interpolations, the fessor Max Müller; he urges that methods of the anti-heretical “ It is indeed possible, according fathers, the Johannine influences, to hints given by Buddha himself, &c., may be noted by the way, and to separate his genuine doctrines will be interesting to the historical from the greater part, if not the student.

.

The order of the Three Baskets Jerome and to have been repeated or orthodox Buddhist Scriptures, by Ratramnus, would seem to be will throw some light upon the an afterthought of foolish folgrowth of a body of religious doc- lowers; the legend is represented trine. The three great divisions on very early temple sculptures. are Sermons, Ethics, Metaphysics. A conjecture has been hazarded, Can we not, to speak broadly, from some peculiarities of burial follow the course of the great rites and other indications, that the prophet, and hear the sermon? walk Sakyas, who are unknown in the with the disciples, and be treated records of India, were foreigners, to ethics, instead of to the burning and of a Scythian royal family. A heart words of an inspired preacher? short time before the reputed birth remove a little further and come of the Muni, the Scythians had upon the disputatious doctors with

poured over Media, Judea, and their metaphysics?

Asia Minor; and it is considered By what tests can we discover possible that one branch of these the prophet's own utterances invaders had penetrated at an amongst imitations ? His mission earlier date into Northern India. is humanitarian ; his utterances It is probable that reference is must manifest a human tenderness made to them in the description, more markedly than an ethical “ It is a mighty nation, it is systematisation. He will at times an ancient nation, a nation whose be exceedingly simple from love of language thou knowest not, nor the little ones (intellectually speak- understandest thou what they ing). At times from the difficulty say. Their quiver is as an open of drawing down heavenly truths sepulchre, they are all warriors :" into a lower and crasser sphere, he (Jerem. v. 15-17.) will resort to fable, and will scatter There is a legend cited from caskets for the wise, parables of Wassiljew's “ Buddhismus," by enshrined significance, even para- Schlagintweit in his “Buddhism in doxes of startling form that live Tibet,” to the effect that the Sakya and are not forgotten, by reason as tribe had been involved in a disas. it were, of the very audacity of trous war during the life of the their conception.

Buddha, and was nearly extermiIt may be well to repeat here in nated, its surviving members being brief the story of Gautama's life. compelled to wander. Legendary in part though it be, it gested that a son of the race may no doubt contains a valuable pro- thus have been led to view exist. portion of fact.

ence as the source of pain and Sakya, or Siddharta, was the son sorrow, rather than through the of Raja Suddhodana, of the clan of circumstances described in the story the Gautamas, who lived at Kapila, presently to be related. But it near Gorukpur, on the confines of may be remarked that the effect of Nepaul and Oude. The date of his a nomad life upon the members of birth is not known with absolute a warlike clan is likely to be rather certainty, but 623 B.c. is most gene- in the direction of increased hardi. rally accepted. His mother. Sudd- hood and martial qualities, than in hodana's queen, was named Maya. the direction of deep analysis of She died seven days after his birth, the problems of existence. A tenand the child was brought up by a dency to a contemplative and earmaternal aunt. The story respect- nest life, however, the idleness and ing his birth from the side of a luxury of a court might by reaction virgin, which is said to have reached foster in a sensitive nature.

It is sug

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