Buddhism

Prayer-Wheels of the Buddhists.

TRAVELLING  on the borders of Chinese Tartary, in the country of the Lamas or Buddhists, Miss Gordon Cumming remarks that it was strange, every now and again, to meet some respectable-looking workman, twirling little brass cylinders, only about six inches in length, which were incessantly spinning round and round as they walked along the road. What could they be? Not pedometers, not any of the trigonometrical instruments with which the officers of the Ordnance Survey go about armed? No; she was informed that they were prayer-wheels, and that turning them was just about equivalent to the telling of beads, which in Continental lands workmen may often be seen counting as homeward along the road they plod their weary way.

The telling of beads seems to the Protestant a superfluous piece of formalism: what then are we to think of prayer by machinery? The prayers, or rather invocations, to Buddha—the Buddhists never pray, in the Christian sense—are all closely written upon strips of cloth or paper; the same sentence being repeated some thousands of times. These strips are placed inside a cylinder, revolving on a long spindle, the end of which is the handle. From the wind-cylinder depends a small lump of metal, which, whirling round,communicates the necessary impetus to the little machine, so that it rotates with the slightest possible effort, and continues to grind any required number of acts of worship, while the owner, with the plaything in his hand, carries on his daily work. His religion requires that he should be all his time immersed in holy contemplation of the perfections of Buddha, but to a busy man no such self-absorption is possible. He is content, therefore, to say the sentences aloud at the beginning and end of his devotions, and in the interval twirls slowly, while a tiny bell marks each rotation, and reminds him if he should unconsciously quicken his pace.

Tennyson finely speaks of Prayer as that by which

“The whole round world is every way
Bound by gold chains around the feet of God ;”

but no such efficacy can be ascribed to the cylinders of brass, copper, or gold, which are fashionable among the Buddhists. Yet we must not condemn too unreservedly: Prayer, even among Christians, is apt to degenerate into a dull, mechanical uniformity, and to become scarcely less perfunctory than that which the Tibetans grind out of their prayer-machine.

In a Lama temple, Miss Gordon Cumming once saw a colossal prayer-wheel, which might almost have sufficed for the necessities of a nation. It was turned by a great iron crank, which acted as a handle. The cylinder measured about twelve feet in height, and six to eight feet in diameter. Circular bands of gold and vermilion adorned it, each band bearing the well-known Buddhist ascription, or invocation, “To the jewel on the Lotus.” Of this inscription, multiplied on strips of paper and cloth, the cylinder was full, and each time that it revolved on its axis, the devotee was accredited with having uttered the pious invocation just as often as it was repeated within the cylinder. The whole history of Superstition offers scarcely any fact more curious or suggestive than this method of prayer by machinery; and that such a grotesque extravagance should have emanated from so subtle and metaphysical a faith as Buddhism is an anomaly not easily to be explained.

Each votary who is too poor to possess a prayer-wheel of his own, attends the temple, does homage to the head Lama, receives his benediction, and then, squatting in front of the great wheel, he turns the crank on behalf of himself and his family. But if there be a considerable number of worshippers, the priest himself works the handle, that all may participate simultaneously in the act of prayer.

The use of these machines is traced back for fully fourteen centuries, and is supposed to have originated in the belief that it was a meritorious act, and a patent cure for sin, to be continually reading or reciting portions of the sacred books of Buddha. But as many of the people could not read, a substitute had to be found, and it came to be considered sufficient if they turned over the rolled manuscripts which embodied the invaluable precepts. And as a vast amount of time and trouble was saved by this process, a further simplification became possible and popular,—the invention of wheels termed Tehu-Chor,—great cylindrical bands full of prayers; a cord being attached to the base of the band, which, when the cord was pulled, twirled like a children's toy. Prayer-wheels of this kind are set up in all public places in Tibet, so that the poor who do not possess little pocket Wheels of Devotion may not lose their chance of accumulating merit. In some of the monasteries the rows of small cylinders are so arranged, that the priest, or any passer-by can set them all in simultaneous motion, by just drawing his hand along them.

According to Miss Cumming, who is confirmed by other travellers, the cylinders vary in size, from tiny hand-mills, about as big as a policeman's rattle, to huge machines, eight or ten feet in diameter, worked by a heavy iron crank, or sometimes by wind or water power. The wind prayer-mills are turned by wings, which, like the cylinder, are plentifully covered with prayers. The water-mills are placed over streams, so as to dispense with human aid, and allow the running water to turn them for the general welfare of the village. Through the cylinder passes a wooden axle, which is fastened to a horizontal wheel, whose cogs are turned diagonally to the water.

“One such group of little mills we noticed,” says Miss Cumming,[1] “set in a clear stream half-way between Rarung and Pangi, a lively, rapid river, rushing headlong down the mountain side to join the Sutlej. Having never then heard of prayer-mills, we assumed them to be for corn, as perhaps they were. At all events, we passed them without inspection, to our subsequent infinite regret. These wheels rotate with the action of the water, and so turn the cylinder, which must invariably stand upright. Sometimes several of these are placed almost across the stream, and the rudest form of temple is built over them.

“They are so placed that the wheel must invariably turn from right to left, following the course of the sun; to invert that course would not only involve ill-luck, but would amount to being a sin. Hence the exceeding unwillingness of the people we met to let us tend their little wheels, knowing from sad experience that the English sahibs rather enjoy the fun of turning them the wrong way, and so undoing the efficacy of all their morning's work.

“Some of the little pocket cylinders are very beautifully wrought; some are even inlaid with precious stones. I saw one great beauty which I coveted exceedingly. The owner would on no account sell it. I returned to the temple next morning, wishing at least to make a drawing of it, but I think he mistrusted me, for he and his plaything had both vanished, and I had to be content with a much simpler one of bronze, inlaid with copper. The people have the greatest reluctance to sell even the ugliest old mills. They cling to them as lovingly as you might do to your dear old Bible; but, as I said before, not merely from the charm of association, but from a dread lest a careless hand should turn them against the sun, and so change their past acts of merit into positive sin. So there was a great deal of talk, and many irons in the fire, before I was allowed to purchase two of these, at a price which would have supplied half the village with new ones.”

The prayer-mill sometimes contains the Tibetan prayer, or litany, for the six classes of living creatures, namely, the souls in heaven, the evil spirits in the air, men, animals, souls in purgatory, and souls in hell; but, as a rule, the Lama worship begins and ends in the famous inscription to which we have already alluded—Aum Mani Padmi Hoong  (to the jewel in the lotus.) These mystic words are raised in embossed letters on the exterior of the cylinder, and are closely written on strips of paper inside. All the sacred places are covered with them; the face of the rock, the walls of the temple; just as the Alhambra glitters with its azulejos, its blazoned inscriptions from the Kúran.

This mystic sentence is composed as follows: Aum  or Om, equivalent to the Hebrew Jah  or Jehovah , the most glorious title of the Almighty; Mani, the jewel, one of Buddha's appellations; Padmi, the lotus, in allusion to his lotus-throne; and Hoong, synonymous with Amen. The Buddhists regard this “six-syllabled” charm as a talisman of never-failing efficacy; but by some of the sects it is more or less varied. For instance: the Chinese Fo-ists read it as Aum-mi-to-fuh, which is also one of Buddha's titles; and every devout Fo-ist aims at repeating it at least three hundred thousand times in the course of his life. Some of their priests will shut themselves up in the temples for months at a time, and devote themselves to the dreary task of repetition, hour after hour, day and night. Sometimes, ten or twelve devotees will voluntarily sequester themselves, and continue all day to cry aloud in chorus; and at night they undertake the task successively, one person droning through the monotonous chant while the others sleep. Thus do they think to be heard for their much speaking! Similar excesses of formalism, however, are recorded in the history of mediæval Christianity,—in the biographies of saints and ascetics who have substituted for a practical Christianity and the active performance of social duties the dreary vanity of an unprofitable solitude, spent in the discharge of useless penances.

The Buddhist prayer which is consecrated to Buddha as the Chakravarta Rajah, or King of the Wheel, proves, on examination, to be closely related to that Sun-worship which prevailed in the early ages of the world. The wheel is, in many creeds, the symbol of the sun's chariot, that is, of the revolution of the heavenly bodies. In a sculpture, nearly two thousand years old, on the Bilsah Tepe, Buddha is represented simply by a wheel, overshadowed by the mystic chattah, or golden umbrella, which is a common emblem of his power. His worshippers are represented as making their offerings to the King of the Wheel. “This sacred Wheel of the Law, or Wheel of Faith, is found again and again among the fain and Buddhist sculptures in the caves of Ellora and Ajunta, in most cases projecting in front of Buddha's Lotus-Throne. In one instance an astronomical table is carved above the wheel. In another it is supported on either side by a stag, supposed to represent the fleetness wherewith the sun runs his daily circuit, ‘going forth from the uttermost part of the heaven, and running about unto the end of it again.'”


[1] Miss Gordon Cumming, “From the Hebrides to the Himalayas,” ii. 226, 227.

Hiouen-thsang, a Buddhist Pilgrim.[12]

Hiouen-thsang was born in a provincial town of China, in one of the revolutionary and anarchical periods of the Chinese Empire. His father, having quitted the public service, was able to devote his leisure to the education of his four children, one of whom, Hiouen-thsang, was distinguished at an early age by his genius and his thirst for knowledge. After receiving instruction at a Buddhist monastery, he was admitted as a monk, when only thirteen years old. During the next seven years, he travelled about with his brethren from place to place, in order to profit by the lectures of the most eminent professors; but his peaceful studies were frequently interrupted by the horrors of war, and he was forced to seek refuge in the more remote provinces of the empire.

At the age of twenty he took priest's orders, having already become famous for his multifarious learning. He had studied the chief canonical book of the Buddhist faith, the records of Buddha's life and teaching, the system of ethics and metaphysics, and had completely mastered the works of K'ung-fu-tze and Lao-tse. But, like many inquiring minds, he was tortured by doubt. For six years more he prosecuted his studies in the principal places of learning in China, and was frequently solicited to teach when he had come to learn. Baffled in all his efforts to satisfy his anxious and restless intellect, he resolved at last on paying a visit to India, the parent-land of Buddhism, where he knew he should find the original of the works, which, in their Chinese translation, had proved so dubious and excited so much mistrust. From the records of his pilgrim predecessors he was aware of the dangers of his journey; yet the glory, as he says, of recovering the Law, which was to be a guide to all men, and the means of their salvation, seemed to him worthy of attainment. In common with several other priests, he applied for the Imperial permission to travel out of China. It was refused, and his companions lost heart. But Hiouen-thsang was made of sterner stuff. His mother had often told him how, before his birth, she had had visions of her future offspring travelling to the Far West in search of the law; and he himself had been similarly encouraged.

Having no worldly pleasures to enfeeble him, and believing only in one object as worth living for, he resolved to face danger and difficulty; made his way to the Hoang-Ho, and the place of departure of the caravans for the West, and, eluding the vigilance of the Governor, succeeded in crossing the frontier. He was without friends or helpers; but after spending the night in fervent prayer, found a guide in a person who, next morning, unexpectedly presented himself. For some distance this guide conducted him faithfully, but abandoned him when they reached the Desert. There were still five watch-towers to be passed, and the uncertain track through the Desert was indicated only by skeletons and the hoof-marks of horses. Bravely went the pilgrim on his way, and though misled by the “mirage” of the Desert, he safely reached the first tower. There he narrowly escaped death from the arrows of the watchman, but the officer in command was himself a devout Buddhist, and he not only allowed Hiouen-thsang to proceed, but gave him letters of recommendation to the governors of the other towers. At the last tower, however, he was refused leave to pass, and neither bribes nor entreaties proved of any avail. He was compelled to retrace his steps, and make a long détour, in the course of which he lost his way. His water-bag burst, and for the first time his courage wavered. Should he not return? But no; he had taken an oath never to make a step backward until he had reached India. It were better to die with his face to the West, than return to the East and live.

For four nights and five days he traversed the Desert, without a drop of water to quench his thirst, with no other refreshment than that which he derived from his prayers; and that these should afford any hope or consolation seems strange enough, when we remember that Buddhism held out to him no hope of a God or a Saviour. “It is incredible in how exhausted an atmosphere the Divine spark within us will glimmer on, and even warm the dark chambers of the human heart.” Comforted by his prayers, he resumed his onward march, and in due time arrived at a large lake in the country of the Oigom Tatars, by whom he was received with an abundant hospitality. One of the Tatar Khans insisted that he should reside with him and teach his people; and as he would listen to no remonstrances or explanations, Hiouen-thsang was driven to a desperate expedient. The king, he said, might fetter his body, but had no power over his mind and will; and he refused all food, with a view to put an end to a life which he no longer regarded as of value. In this resolution he persisted for three days, and the Khan, afraid that he would perish, was compelled at last to yield. But he extracted from him a promise that on his return to China he would visit him, and abide with him for three years. At last, after a month's detention, during which the Khan and his court daily attended the lectures of the pious monk, he resumed his journey, attended by a strong escort, and furnished with letters of introduction to the twenty-four princes whose dominions he must cross.

His route lay through what is now called Dsungary, across the Musur-dabaghan mountains, the northern chain of the Belur-tag, the valley of the Yaxartes, Bactria, and Kabulistan. The pilgrim's description of the scenes through which he passed is interesting and vivid; he was a keen observer, and gifted with considerable powers of expression.

Of the Musur-dabaghan mountains he says:—

“The crest of these heights rises to the sky. Since the beginning of the world the snow has been accumulating, and it is now transformed into masses of ice, which never melt, either in spring or summer. Hard shining sheets of snow are spread out until they vanish into the infinite, and mingle with the clouds. If one looks at them, one's eyes are dazzled by the splendour. Frozen peaks impend over both sides of the wood, some hundred feet in height, and some twenty or thirty feet in thickness. It is not without difficulty and danger that the traveller can clear them or climb over them. Sudden gusts of hurricane and tornadoes of snow attack the pilgrims. Even with double shoes, and in thick furs, one cannot help trembling and shivering.”

But as Max Müller justly observes, what is more important in the early portion of our traveller's narrative than any descriptions of scenery, is his account of the high degree of civilisation that then obtained among the tribes of Central Asia. Historians have learned to believe in the early civilisation of Egypt, Babylon, China, India; but they will have to abandon all their old ideas of barbarism and barbarians now that they find the Tatar hordes possessing, in the seventh century, “the chief arts and institutions of an advanced society.” The theory of M. Oppert, who gives to a Turanian or Scythian race the original invention of the cuneiform letters and a civilisation anterior to that of Babylon and Nineveh, ceases to be improbable; since no new wave of civilisation could have touched these countries between the cuneiform period of their literature and history and the epoch of Hiouen-thsang's visit.[13]

“In the kingdom of Okini, on the western portion of China, Hiouen-thsang found an active commerce, gold, silver, and copper coinage; monasteries, where the chief works of Buddhism were studied, and an alphabet derived from Sanskrit. As he travelled on he met with mines, with agriculture, including pears, plums, peaches, almonds, grapes, pomegranates, rice, and wheat. The inhabitants were dressed in silk and woollen materials. There were musicians in the chief cities who played on the flute and the guitar. Buddhism was the prevailing religion, but there were traces of an earlier worship, the Bactrian fire-worship. The country was everywhere studded with halls, monasteries, monuments and statues. Samarkand formed at that early time a kind of Athens, and its manners were copied by all the tribes in the neighbourhood. Balkh, the old capital of Bactria, was still an important place on the Oxus, well-fortified, and full of sacred buildings. And the details which our traveller gives of the exact circumference of the cities, the number of their inhabitants, the products of the soil, the articles of trade, can leave no doubt in our minds that he relates what he had seen and heard himself. A new page in the history of the world is here opened, and new ruins pointed out, which would reward the pickaxe of a Layard.”

Hiouen-thsang passed into India by way of Kabul. Shortly before he reached Pou-lou-cha-pou-lo, the Sanskrit Purushapura, the modern Peshawer, he was informed of a remarkable cave, where Buddha had converted a dragon, and had promised to leave it his shadow, in order that, whenever the fierce passions of its dragon-nature should awake, it might be reminded of its vows by the presence of its master's shadowy features. The promise was fulfilled, and the dragon-cave became a favourite resort for pilgrims. Our traveller was warned that the roads to the cave were haunted by robbers, so that for three years no pilgrim had been known to return from it. But he replied that it would be difficult during a hundred thousand Kalpas to meet once with the true shadow of Buddha, and that having come so near it in his pilgrimage, he could not pass on without paying the tribute of his adoration.

He left his companions in their security, and having, with some difficulty, obtained a guide, proceeded on his way. They had accomplished but a few miles when they were attacked by five robbers. Hiouen-thsang showed them his shaven head and priestly robes. “Master,” said one of the fraternity, “where are you going?” “I desire,” replied Hiouen-thsang, “to adore the shadow of Buddha.” “Master,” said the robber, “do you not know that these roads are full of bandits?” “Robbers are men,” was the answer, “and as for me, when I am going to adore the shadow of Buddha, though the roads might be full of wild beasts, I shall walk on fearless. And inasmuch as I will not fear you, because you are men, you will not be insensible to pity.” These words, in their simple faith, produced a strange effect upon the robbers, who opened their minds to the enlightenment of the wise man's teaching.

Hiouen-thsang resumed his journey, with his guide, and passed a stream which rushed tumultuously between the walls of a precipitous ravine. In the rock was a door opening into a depth of darkness. With a fervent prayer the pilgrim entered boldly, advanced towards the east, then moved fifty steps backwards, and began his devotions. He made one hundred salutations, but saw nothing. This he conceived to be a punishment for his sins; he reproached himself despairingly and wept bitter tears, because he was denied the happiness of seeing Buddha's shadow. At last, after many prayers and invocations, he saw on the eastern wall a dim patch of light. But it passed away. With mingled joy and pain he continued to pray, and again he saw a light, and again it vanished swiftly. Then, in his ecstasy of loving devotion, he vowed that he would never leave the place until he had seen the “Venerable of the age.” After two hundred prayers, he saw the cave suddenly fill with radiance, and the shadow of Buddha, of a brilliant white colour, rose majestically on the wall, as when the clouds are riven, and all at once flashes on the wondering eye the marvellous image of the “Mountain of Light.” The features of the divine countenance were illuminated with a dazzling glow. Hiouen-thsang was absorbed in wondering contemplation, and from an object so sublime and incomparable he could not turn his eyes away.

After he awoke from his trance, he called in six men, and bade them kindle a fire in the cave, that he might burn incense; but as the glitter of the flame made the shadow of Buddha disappear, he ordered it to be extinguished. Five of the attendants saw the shadow, but the sixth saw nothing; and the guide, when Hiouen-thsang told him of the vision, could only express his astonishment. “Master,” he said, “without the sincerity of your faith and the energy of your vows, you could not have seen such a miracle.”

Such is the account which Hiouen-thsang's biographers give of his visit to Buddha's cave; but Max Müller remarks, to the credit of Hiouen-thsang himself, that in the Si-yu-hi, which contains his own diary, the story is told much more simply. After describing the cave, he merely adds:—“Formerly, the shadow of Buddha was seen in the cave, bright, like his natural appearance, and with all the marks of his divine beauty. One might have said, it was Buddha himself. For some centuries, however, it has not been possible to see it completely. Though one does perceive something, it is only a feeble and doubtful resemblance. If a man prays with sincere faith, and if he have received from above a secret impression, he sees the shadow clearly, but cannot enjoy the sight for any length of time.”


From Peshawer the undaunted pilgrim proceeded to Kashmir, visited the principal towns of Central India, and arrived at last in Magadha, the Holy land of the Buddhists. There, for a space of five years, he devoted himself to the study of Sanskrit and Buddhist literature; he explored every place which was consecrated by memories of the past. Passing through Bengal, he travelled southward, with the view of visiting Ceylon, the chief seat of Buddhism. But, unable to carry out his design, he crossed the peninsula from east to west, ascended the Malabar coast, reached the Indus, and after numerous excursions to scenes of interest in North-Western India, returned to Magadha to enjoy, with his old friends, the delights of learned leisure and intellectual companionship.

Eventually, his return to China became necessary, and traversing the Punjab, Kabulistan, and Bactria, he struck the river Oxus, following its course nearly up to its springhead on the remote Pamir tableland; and after a residence of some duration in the three chief towns of Turkistan, Khasgar, Yarkand, and Khoten, he found himself again, after sixteen years of varied experience, in his native land. By this time he had attained a world-wide reputation, and he was received by the Emperor with the honours usually accorded to a military hero. His entry into the capital was marked by public rejoicings; the streets were decked with gay carpets, festoons of flowers, and waving banners. The splendour of martial pomp was not wanting; the civic magistrates lent the dignity of their presence to the scene; and all the monks of the district issued forth in solemn procession.

If this were a triumph of unusual character, not less unaccustomed were the trophies which figured in it.

First, 150 grains of Buddha's dust;

Second, a golden statue of Buddha;

Third, another statue of sandal-wood;

Fourth, a statue of sandal-wood, representing Buddha as descending from heaven;

Fifth, a statue of silver;

Sixth, a golden statue, representing Buddha victorious over the dragon;

Seventh, a statue of sandal-wood, representing Buddha as a preacher; and

Eighth, a collection of 657 Buddhist works in 520 volumes.


Admitted to an audience of the Emperor in the Phœnix Palace, he was offered, but declined, a high position in the Government. “The doctrine of Confucius,” he said, “is still the soul of the administration;” and he preferred to devote his remaining years to the study of the Law of Buddha. The Emperor invited him to write a narrative of his travels, and placed at his disposal a monastery where he might employ himself in peaceful and happy seclusion in translating the works he had brought back from India. He quickly wrote and published his travels, but the translation of the Sanskrit MSS. occupied the rest of his life. It is said that the number of the works he translated, with the assistance of a large staff of monks, amounted to 740, in 1335 volumes. Often he might be seen pondering a passage of difficulty, when suddenly a flash of inspiration would seem to enlighten his mind. His soul was cheered, as when a man walking in darkness sees all at once the sun piercing the clouds and shining in its full brightness; and, unwilling to trust to his own understanding, he used to attribute his knowledge to a secret inspiration of Buddha and the Bôdhisattvas.

When his last hour approached, he divided all his property among the poor, invited his friends to come and see him, and take a cheerful farewell of the impure body of Hiouen-thsang. “I desire,” he said, “that whatever merits I may have gained by good works may fall upon other people. May I be born again with them in the heaven of the blessed, be admitted to the family of Mi-le, and serve the Buddha of the future, who is full of kindness and affection. When I descend again upon earth to pass through other forms of existence, I desire at every new birth to fulfil my duties towards Buddha, and arrive at the last at the highest and most perfect intelligence.” He died in the year 664.

The life of Hiouen-thsang, and his narrative of travel, have been translated into French by M. Stanislas Julien.[14] The foregoing particulars have been borrowed from a review of M. Julien's work, by Max Müller, which originally appeared in the “Times” of April 17 and 20, 1857.

We translate from Stanislas Julien's “Vie et Voyages de Hiouen-thsang” the Chinese narrative of the pilgrim's last days:—

“After completing his translation of the Pradjñâ, the Master of the Law became conscious that his strength was failing, and that his end was near at hand. Accordingly he spoke to his disciples: ‘If I came into the palace of Yu-hoa-kong, it was, as you know, on account of the sacred book of the Pradjñâ. Now that the work is finished, I feel that my thread of life is run out. When after death you remove me to my last resting-place, see that everything be done in a modest and simple manner. You will wrap my body in a mat, and deposit it in some calm and solitary spot in the bosom of a valley. Carefully avoid the neighbourhood of palace or convent; a body so impure as mine should be separated from it by a great distance.'

“On hearing these words, his disciples broke out into sobs and cries. Drying their tears, they said to him: ‘Master, you have still a reserve of strength and vigour; your countenance is in no wise altered; why do you give sudden utterance to such miserable words?'

“‘I know it through and in myself,' replied the Master of the Law; ‘how would it be possible for you to understand my presentiments?'

“On the first day of the first moon in the spring of the first year Lin-te  (664), the neighbouring interpreters and all the religious of the convent, came to solicit him, with the most pressing earnestness, to translate the collection of the Ratnakoûta soûtra.

“The Master of the Law, yielding to their fervid persistency, made an effort to overcome his weakness, and translated a few lines. Then, closing the Hindu text, he said: ‘This collection is as great as that of the Pradjñâ, but I feel I have not sufficient strength to complete such an enterprise. My last moments have arrived, and my life can be only of short duration. To-day I would fain visit the valley of Lantchi, to offer my last homages to the statues of the innumerable Buddhas.'

“Accordingly, he set forth with his disciples. The monks, at his departure, did not cease to shed tears.

“After this pious excursion he returned to the convent. Thenceforward he ceased to translate, and occupied himself solely in his religious duties.

“On the eighth day, one of his disciples, the monk Hiouen-Khio, originally of Kao-tch'ang, related to the Master of the Law a dream which he had had. He had seen a Fesu-thou  (or Stoûpa,) of imposing aspect and prodigious height, crumble suddenly to the ground. Awakened by the fall, he ran to inform the Master of the Law. ‘The event does not concern you,' said Hiouen-thsang; ‘it is the presage of my approaching end.'

“On the evening of the ninth day, as he crossed the bridge of a canal in the rear of his residence, he fell, and injured his leg. From that moment his strength declined perceptibly.

“On the sixteenth day he cried out, as if awaking from a dream: ‘Before my eyes I see an immense lotus-flower, charming in its freshness and purity.'

“He had another dream on the seventeenth day, in which he saw hundreds and thousands of men of tall stature, who, decorated with garments of embroidered silk, with flowers of marvellous beauty, and jewels of great price, issued from the sleeping-chamber of the Master of the Law, and proceeded to set out, both internally and externally, the hall consecrated to the translation of the holy books. Afterwards, in the rear of that hall, on a wooded mountain, they everywhere planted rich banners of the most vivid colours, and created an harmonious music. He saw moreover, without the gate, an innumerable multitude of splendid chariots loaded with perfumed viands and fruits of more than a thousand kinds, as beautiful in form as in colour; no fruits were there of terrestrial growth! The people brought them to him, one after the other, and offered him a profusion; but he refused them, saying: ‘Such viands as these belong only to those who have obtained the superior intelligence. Hiouen-thsang has not yet arrived at that sublime rank: how could he dare to receive them?' In spite of his energetic refusal they continued to serve him without intermission.

“The disciples who watched by him happening to make some slight sound, he opened his eyes suddenly, and related his dream to the sub-director (Karmmadana ), a certain Hoeï-te.”

“‘And from these omens,' added the Master, ‘it seems to me that such merits as I have been able to acquire during my life have not fallen into oblivion, and I believe, with an entire faith, that it is not in vain one practises the doctrine of the Buddha.'

“Immediately, he ordered the master Kia-chang to make a written list of the titles of the sacred books and the treatises which he had translated, forming altogether seven hundred and forty works and thirteen hundred and thirty-five volumes (livres ). He wrote down also the Kôti  (ten millions) of paintings of the Buddha, as well as the thousand images of Mi-le  (Mâitrêya bôdhisattva ), painted on silk, which he had caused to be executed. There were, moreover, the Kôtis  (one hundred millions) of statuettes of uniform colour. He had also caused to be written a thousand copies of the following sacred books:

Nong-touan-pan-jo-king (Vadjra tchhêdika pradjñâ parâmitâ soûtra).

Yo-sse-jou-laï-pou-youen-kong-te-king (Arya bhagavati bhâichadja gourou poûrwa pranidhâna nâma mahâ yâna soûtra).

Lou-men-t'o-lo-ni-king (Chat moukhi dhârani).

He had ministered to the wants of upwards of twenty thousand persons among the faithful and heretical; he had kindled a hundred thousand lamps, and purchased thousands upon thousands (ocean ) of creatures.

When Kia-chang had finished this long catalogue of good works, he was ordered to read it aloud. After hearing it, the religious crossed their hands and loaded the Master with congratulations. Then he said to them:—“The moment of my death approaches; already my mind grows feeble and seems to be on the point of quitting me. Distribute at once in alms my clothes and goods; let statues be fabricated; and order the religious to recite some prayers.”

On the twenty-third day, a meal was given to the poor, at which alms were distributed. On the same day, he ordered a moulder named Song-kia-tchi, to raise, in the Kia-cheou-tien palace, a statue of the Intelligence (Buddha); after which he invited the population of the convent, the translators, and his disciples, to bid “a joyous farewell to that impure and contemptible body of Hiouen-thsang, who, having finished his work, merited no longer existence. I desire,” he added, “to see poured back upon other men the merits which I have acquired by any good works; to be born with them in the heaven of the Touchitas; to be admitted into the family of Mi-le  (Mâitrêya ); and to serve the Buddha, full of tenderness and affection. When I shall return to earth to pass through other existences, I desire, at each new birth, to discharge with boundless zeal my duties towards the Buddha, and finally to arrive at the Transcendent Intelligence (Anouttara samyak sambôdhi ).”

After having made these adieux, he was silent, and engaged in meditation; then with his dying tongue he faltered forth his bitter regret that he did not enjoy more of the “world of the eyes” (the faculty of seeing), of the “world of the thought” (the faculty of thinking), of “the world of the knowledge which springs from observation” (the knowledge of sensible objects); of the “world of the knowledge which springs from the mind”—l'esprit  (the perception of spiritual things); and that he did not possess the fulness of the Intelligence. Finally, he pronounced two gubhas, which he caused to be repeated to the persons near him:—

“Adoration to Maitrêya Tathagata, gifted with a sublime intelligence! I desire, with all men, to see your affectionate visage.

“Adoration to Maitrêya Tathagata ! I desire, when I quit this life, to be born again in the midst of the multitude who surround you.”

The Master of the Law, after having long fixed his gaze upon Te-hoeï, the sub-director of the convent (Karmmadana ), raised his right hand to his chin and his left upon his breast; then he stretched out his legs, crossed them, and lay down on the right side.

He remained thus, immovable, without taking anything, until the fifth day of the second moon. In the middle of the night his disciples asked him:

“Master, have you at length obtained to be born in the midst of the assembly of Maitrêya ?”

“Yes,” he replied, with a failing voice. And having spoken, his breathing grew rapidly weaker, and in a few moments, his soul passed away.

His servants, feeling quietly, found that his feet were already cold, but that the back part of the head retained its warmth.

On the seventh day (of the second moon) his countenance had not undergone any alteration, and his body exhaled no odour.

The religious of the convent having passed several days in prayers, it was not until the morning of the ninth day that the sad news reached the capital.


The Master of the Law was seven tchi  high; his face was of a fresh complexion. His eyebrows were wide apart, his eyes brilliant. His air was grave and majestic, and his features were full of grace and vivacity. The quality or tone (timbre ) of his voice was pure and penetrating, and his language at times soared to a lofty eloquence, so noble and so harmonious that one could not refuse to listen. When he was surrounded by his disciples, or animated by the presence of an illustrious guest, he would often speak for half-a-day, while his hearers sat riveted in an immovable attitude. His favourite attire was a robe of fine cotton stuff, proportioned to his height and figure; his gait was light and easy; he looked straight before him, throwing his glances neither to the right nor to the left. He was majestic as those great rivers which embrace the earth; calm and shining as the lotus which springs in the midst of the waters. A severe observer of discipline, he was unchanged and unchangeable. Nothing could equal his affectionate benevolence and tender pity, the fervour of his zeal or his inviolable attachment to the practices of the Law. He was reserved in his friendship, made no hasty bonds, and when once he had entered his convent, nothing but an imperial decree could have drawn him from his pious retreat.

On the third day of the second moon (of the period Lin-te,—664), the Master of the Law had sent Hiu-hiouen-pi to inform the Emperor of the wound he had received, and of the malady it had induced.

On the seventh day of the same month the Emperor, by a decree, ordered one of the imperial physicians to take with him medicaments and attend upon the Master of the Law, but by the time he arrived, the Master was already dead. Teou-sse-lun, governor of Fang-tcheou, announced by a report this melancholy event.

At the news, the Emperor shed tears copiously, and cried aloud in his sorrow, declaring that he had just lost the treasure of the empire. For several days he suspended the usual audiences.

All the civil and military functionaries abandoned themselves to groans and tears: the Emperor himself was unable to repress his sobs or moderate his grief. On the next day but one, he spoke to his great officers as follows:

“What a misfortune for my empire is the loss of Thsang, the Master of the Law! It may well be said that the great family of Cakya has seen its sole support shattered beneath it, and that all men remain without master and without guide. Do they not resemble the mariner who sees himself sinking into the abyss, when the storm has destroyed his oars and his shallop? the traveller astray in the midst of the darkness, whose lamp dies out at the entrance to a bottomless gulf?”

When he had uttered these words, the Emperor groaned again, and sighed many times.

On the twenty-sixth day of the same month, the Emperor issued the following decree:

“In accordance with a report addressed to me by Teou-sse-lun on the death of the Master of the Law, Hiouen-thsang, of the convent Yu-hoa-sse, I order that his funeral take place at the expense of the State.”

On the sixth day of the third moon, he issued a new decree as follows:

“By the death of Thsang, the Master of the Law, the translation of the sacred books is stopped. In conformity to the ancient ordinances, the magistrates will cause the translations already completed to be copied carefully: as for the (Indian) manuscripts which have not yet been translated, they will be handed over in their entirety to the director of the convent Ts'e'-en-sse  (of the Great Beneficence,) who will watch over their safety. The disciples of Hiouen-thsang and the translators' company, who previously did not belong to the convent Yu-hoa-sse, will all return to their respective convents.”

On the fifth day of the third moon appeared the following decree:

“On the day of the funeral of the Master of the Law, Hiouen-thsang, I permit the male and female religious of the capital to accompany him with banners and parasols  to his last resting-place. The Master of the Law shone by his noble conduct and his eminent virtues, and was the idol of his age. Wherefore, now he is no more, it is just that I should diffuse again abundant benefits to honour the memory of a man who has had no equal in past times.”

His disciples, faithful to his last wishes, formed a litter of coarse mats, removed his body to the capital, and deposited it in the convent of the Great Beneficence, in the middle of the hall devoted to the labours of translation. United by the sentiment of a common sorrow, they uttered such cries as might have shaken the earth. The religious and the laics of the capital hastened to the spot, and poured out tears mingled with sobs and cries. Every day the crowd was swollen by fresh arrivals.

On the fourteenth day of the fourth month, preparations were made for his interment in the capital of the West. The male and female religious, and a multitude of the men of the people, prepared upwards of five hundred objects necessary for the celebration of his obsequies; parasols of smooth (unia ) silk, banners and standards, the tent and the litter of the Ni-ouan  (Nirvâna;) the inner coffin of gold, the outer one of silver, the so-lo  trees (salas,) and disposed them in the middle of the streets to be traversed by the procession. The plaintive cadences of the funereal music, and the mournful dirges of the bearers resounded even to Heaven. The inhabitants of the capital and of the districts situated within a radius of five hundred li  (fifty leagues,) who formed the procession, exceeded one million in number. Though the obsequies were celebrated with pomp, the coffin of the Master nevertheless was borne upon a litter composed of rude coarse mats. The silk manufacturers of the East had employed three thousand pieces of different colours in making the chariot of the Nirvâna, which they had ornamented with flowers and garlands, loaded with precious stones. They had asked permission to place the body of the Master of the Law upon this resplendent catafalque; but afraid of infringing his dying command, his disciples had refused. So it went first, bearing the Master's three robes and his religious mantle, of the value of one hundred ounces of silver; next came the litter constructed of coarse mats. Not one of the assistants but shed copious tears or was almost choked with grief!

Upwards of thirty thousand religious and laics spent the night near his tomb.

On the morning of the fifteenth day the grave was closed; then, at the place of sepulture, an immense distribution of alms was made, and the crowd afterwards dispersed in silence.

On the eighth day of the fourth moon of the second year of the Tsong-tchang period (669,) the Emperor decreed that the tomb of the Master of the Law should be transported into a plain, situated to the west of the Fan-tch'ouen  valley, and that a tower should be erected in his honour.[15]


[12] The following sketch is founded on M. Stanislas Julien's “Voyages des Pélerins Buddhistes,” and on Max Müller's review of that valuable work.

[13] Max Müller, p. 36.

[14] Voyages des Pélerins Bouddhistes. Vol. I. Histoire de la Vie de Hiouen-thsang, et ses Voyages dans l'Inde, depuis l'an 629 jusqu'en 645, par Hoeï-li et Yen-thsong; traduite du Chinois par Stanislas Julien.

Vol. II. Mémoires sur les Contrées Occidentales, traduits du Sanscrit en Chinois, en l'an 648, par Hiouen-thsang, et du Chinois en Français, par Stanislas Julien. Paris, 1853-1857. B. Duprat.

[15] Hoeï-li terminates the last book of his biography of the Master with a long and pompous panegyric of Hiouen-thsang. This morceau, which forms (says Stanislas Julien,) twenty-five pages in the Imperial edition and ten in the Nan-king, offers an analysis of the life and voyages of the Master of the Law; but it contains no new fact or one of any interest in relation to the history and geography of India or the Buddhist literature. No English version has appeared of M. Julien's elaborate translation of the Chinese History of Hiouen-thsang.

The Religion of the Buddhists

In the century and a half which passed between the date of Kalaçoka of Magadha, the council of the Sthaviras at Vaiçali, and the reign of Vindusara, the doctrine of the Enlightened had continued to extend, and had gained so many adherents that Megasthenes could speak of the Buddhist mendicants as a sect of the Brahmans. The rulers of Magadha who followed Kalaçoka, the house of the Nandas, which deposed his son, and the succeeding princes of that house, Indradatta and Dhanananda, were not favourable to Buddhism, as we conjectured above. If the Buddhist tradition quoted extols and consecrates the descent and usurpation of Chandragupta, this must be rather due to the services his grandson rendered the believers in Buddha than to any merits of his own in that respect. The accounts of the Greeks about the religious services of the Indians towards the end of the fourth century B.C., the description given by Megasthenes of the Indian philosophers and their doctrines, as well as his express statement that the Brahmans were the more highly honoured among the Indian sages, leave no doubt that the Brahmans maintained their supremacy under the reign of Chandragupta. Of Vindusara the Buddhists tell us that he daily fed 600,000 Brahmans.

In the doctrine of Buddha the philosophy of the Indians had made the boldest step. It had broken with the results of the history of the Arians on the Indus and the Ganges, with the development of a thousand years. It had declared internecine war against the ancient religion, and called in question the consecrated order of society. The philosophy capable of such audacity was a scepticism which denied everything except the thinking Ego, which emptied heaven and declared nature to be worthless. Armed with the results of an unorthodox speculation, and pushing them still further, Buddha had drawn a cancelling line through the entire religious past of the Indian nation. The world-soul of the Brahmans existed no longer; heaven was rendered desolate; its inhabitants and all the myths attaching to them were set aside. No reading, no exposition of the Veda was required; no inquiry about the ancient hymns and customs. The contention of the schools about this or that rite might slumber, and no sacrifice could be offered to gods who did not exist. Dogmatism was banished in all its positions and doctrines; the endless laws about purity and food, the torturing penances and expiations, the entire ceremonial was without value and superfluous. The peculiar sanctity of the Brahmans, the mediatory position which they occupied in the worship between the gods and the nation, were valueless, and the advantages of the upper castes fell to the ground. And this doctrine, which annihilated the entire ancient religion and the basis of existing society, and put in their place nothing but a new speculation and a new morality, had come into the world without divine revelation, and was without a supreme deity, or indeed any deity whatever. Its authority rested solely on the dicta of a man, who declared that he had discovered truth by his own power, and maintained that every man could find it. That such a doctrine found adherence and ever increasing adherence is a fact without a parallel in history. The success of it would indeed be inconceivable, if the Brahmans had not themselves long prepared the way for Buddha, if the harsh contrast in which Buddha placed himself to the Brahmans had not been in some degree a consequence of Brahmanism.

The wildly-luxuriant and confused imagination of the Brahmans had produced a moderation, a rationalistic reaction in faith, worship, and morality no less than in social life. The speculative conception of Brahman had never become familiar to the people. The ceaseless increase in the number of gods and spirits, their endless multitude, had lessened the value of the individual forms and the reverence felt for them. The acts of the great saints of the Brahmans went far beyond the power and creative force of the gods. The saints made the gods their playthings. Could it excite any great shock when these playthings were set aside? The Brahmans dethroned the gods, and themselves fell in this dethronement. They allowed that sacrifice and ritual, and the pious fulfilment of duties and expiations, the entire sanctification by works, was not the highest aim that men could and ought to attain; that asceticism, penance, and meditation ensured something higher, and could alone lead back to Brahman; was it not a simple consequence of this view that Buddha should set aside the whole service of sacrifice and form of worship? The Brahmans granted that the distinction of caste could be removed, at any rate in the three higher orders, by the work of inward sanctification; was it not logical that Buddha should declare the distinction of castes altogether to be unessential? According to the Brahmans nothing but deep and earnest meditation on Brahman could raise man to the highest point, to reabsorption into Brahman, and therefore the Sankhya doctrine could consistently maintain that meditation free from all tradition was the highest aim, that only by unfettered knowledge could liberation from nature be attained; while Buddha was enabled to find ready credence to his position that neither asceticism nor penance, neither sacrifice nor works, but the knowledge of the true connection of things guided men to salvation. From all antiquity the Indians had allowed human devotion to have a certain influence on the gods; in the oldest poems of the Veda we find the belief that the correct invocation brings down the deities and exercises compulsion over them. Following out this view, the Brahmans had developed the compulsion exercised upon the gods to such a degree that fervour of asceticism and holiness conferred divine power—power over nature; they held that man could attain the highest point by penance and meditation; that he could draw into himself and concentrate there the divine power and essence. Was it not an easy step further in the same path when Buddha taught that the highest, the only divine result, which he admitted, the knowledge of truth, could be attained by man's own power; that his adherents and followers, when the rishis of the Brahmans had been gifted with so many mighty, divine, and super-divine powers, had not the least difficulty in believing that the Enlightened had found absolute truth; that by his own power he had attained the highest wisdom and truth? If the man who had duly sanctified himself, attained, according to the Brahmanic doctrine, divine power and wisdom, Buddha on his part required no revelation from above. By his own nature and his own power, by sanctification, man could work his way upwards to divine absolute liberty and wisdom.

To religious tradition and the Veda Buddha opposed individual knowledge; to revelation of the gods the truth discovered by men, to the dogmatism of the Brahmanic schools the doctrine of duties; to sacrifice and expiation the practice of morality; to the claims of the castes personal merit; to lonely asceticism common training; to the caste of the priests a spiritual brotherhood formed by free choice and independent impulse. But two essential points in the Brahmanic view of the world, that the body and the Ego  are the fetters of the soul, that the soul must migrate without rest, he not only allowed to stand, but even insisted on them more sharply to the conclusion that existence is the greatest evil and annihilation the greatest blessing for men, inasmuch as freedom from evil can only be attained by freedom from existence, and freedom from existence only by annihilation of self. Salvation is the negation of existence. But not only the bodily life of the individual must be annihilated, the spiritual root of his existence must be torn up and utterly destroyed. "What wilt thou with the knot of hair, or with the apron (i. e. with the Brahmanic asceticism); thou art touching merely the outside; the gulf is within thee?"[663]

The Sankhya doctrine had announced that Brahman and the gods did not exist, but only nature and the soul. Buddha in reality struck out nature also. According to his doctrine there was neither creation nor creator. The existence of the world is merely an illusion; there is nothing but a restless change of generation and decay, an eternal revolution (sansara ). Hence the world is no more than a total of things past and perishable, in which there is but one reality, one active agency. This is the souls of men and animals, breathing creatures. These have been existent from the first, and remain in existence till they find the means of their annihilation and accomplish it. They have created the corporeal world, by clothing themselves with matter, and this robe they change again and again. The Brahmans had taught that "the desire which is in the world-soul is the creative seed of the world" (p. 132). Buddha, transferring this to the individual souls, taught that the desire and yearning for existence, by which individual creatures were impelled, produced existence. Existences are the fruit of the inalienable impulse inherent in the soul; this brings the evil of existence upon the soul, and causes it in spite of itself to cleave thereto; "it is the chain of being" in which the soul is fettered. This desire (kama ) is a mistake; it rests on an inability to perceive the true connection between the nature of existence and the world; it is not only a mistake but a sin, nay, sin itself, from which all other sins arise; desire is the great, original sin, hereditary sin (kleça ).[664]

Hence the existence of men is in itself the product of sin. The perpetual yearning for existence ever draws the soul after the death of the body into new existence, impels it into the corporeal world, and clothes it with a new body. "All garments are perishable, all are full of pain, and subject to another."[665] Each new bodily life of the soul is the fruit of former existences. The merit or the guilt which the soul has acquired in earlier existences, or brought upon itself, is rewarded or punished in later existences; here also Buddhism retains the doctrine of the Brahmans that the prosperity or misfortune of man is regulated according to the acts of aformer existence. The total of merit and guilt accumulated in earlier existences determines the fortune of the individual; it forms the rule governing the kind of regeneration, the happy or unhappy life, the fate which rules each soul, the moral order of the world. If the merit is greater than the guilt, man is not born as an animal but as a man, and in better circumstances, with less trouble and sorrow to go through; and according as a man bears these, and practises virtue in this life, are the future existences defined. It is the duty of man to acquire a tolerable existence for himself by his merit, and also to remove the active guilt of earlier deeds, which are not always punished in the next but often in far later existences, and to destroy the yearning after existence in the soul. This is done by the knowledge which perceives that existence is evil, that all is worthless, and consequently lessens and removes the yearning after existence. This removal is rendered more complete by renunciation, the resolution to receive no conceptions or impressions, and hence to feel no desire for anything; by placing ourselves in a condition where we are incapable of feeling, and therefore incapable of desire. With this annihilation of desire the fetters of the soul are broken; man is separated from the revolution of the world, the alternation of births, because nothing more remains of that which makes up the soul, and thus there is no substratum left for a new existence.[666]

There were converted Brahmans who declared that a penance of twelve years did not confer so much repose as the truths which Buddha taught.[667] For the satisfaction of the interest in philosophic inquiry, to which earnest minds among the Brahmans were accustomed, the speculative foundation of Buddha's doctrine provided amply and with sufficient subtilty. Others might be attracted by the wish to be relieved from tormenting themselves any longer with the formulas of the schools and the commentaries on the Veda. And if the Brahmans objected to the disciples of Buddha that they punished themselves too little, there were without doubt members of the order who found the Buddhist asceticism more agreeable than the Brahmanic.

But the most efficient spring of the success of Buddha's doctrine did not lie in this. It lay in the practical consequences which he derived from his speculation or connected with it. The prospect of liberation from regeneration, of death without resurrection, the gospel of annihilation, was that which led the Indians to believe in Buddha. To the initiated he opened out the prospect that this life would be the last; to the laity he gave the hope of alleviation in the number and kind of regenerations. And as this doctrine proclaimed to all without exception an amelioration in their future fortunes, and declared that every one was capable of liberation, it was at the same time a gospel of social reform. Even among the Kshatriyas and Vaiçyas there were, no doubt, many who were quite agreed that the privilege of birth, which the Brahmans claimed in such an extravagant manner, ought to give way to personal merit. To all who were oppressed or pushed into the background the way was pointed out, to withdraw from the stress of the circumstances which confined and burdened them; every one found a way open for him to escape from the trammels of caste. The doctrine of the Brahmans excluded the Çudras entirely from good works and liberation. The doctrine of Buddha was addressed to all the castes, and destroyed the monopoly of the Brahmans even in regard to teaching. The natural and equal right of every man, whatever be his origin, to sanctification and liberation from evil was recognised; the Buddhist clergy were recruited from all the orders. The Çudra and even the Chandala received the initiation of the Bhikshu. The attraction of this universality was all the greater, especially for the lower orders, because Buddha, following the whole tendency of his doctrine, turned more especially to the most heavily laden; in his view wealth and rank were stronger fetters to bind men to the world than distress and misery. "It is hard," the Enlightened is declared to have said, "to be rich and to learn the way;" and in a Buddhist inscription of the third century B.C. we read, "It is difficult both for the ordinary and important person to attain to eternal salvation, but for the important person it is certainly most difficult."[668]Finally, the doctrine of Buddha was also a gospel of peaceful life, of mutual help and brotherly love. The quietistic morality of obedience, of silent endurance, which the disciples of Buddha preached, corresponded to the patient character which the Indians on the Ganges had gained under the training of the Brahmans and their despotic princes, and to the instinct of the nation at the time. As Buddha's doctrine justified and confirmed submission towards oppression, it also pointed out the way in which to alleviate an oppressed life for ourselves and for others. The gentleness and compassion which Buddha required towards men and animals, suited the prevailing tone of the people; men were prepared to avail themselves of them as the means of salvation; and this patient sympathetic life, without the torments of penances and expiations,without the burden of the laws of purification and food, without sacrifice and ceremonial, was enough to guide future regenerations into the "better" way.

The Brahmans had never established a hierarchical organisation; they had contented themselves with the liturgical monopoly of their order, with their aristocratic position and claims against the other castes. It was only as presidents at the feasts of the dead in the clans that they exercised a powerful censorship over their fellows, as we have seen; a censorship involving the most serious civic consequences for those on whom its sentence fell. At the head of the Buddhists there was no order of birth; the first place was taken by those who lived by alms, and were content to abandon the establishment of a family. The two vows of poverty and chastity withdrew the initiated among the Buddhists from the acquisition of property, from the family, and life in the world; their maintenance consisted in the alms offered to them. In this way they were gained for the interests and the work of their religion to an extent that never was and never could be the case with the Brahmans who did not remove the obstacles of the family by celibacy, and indeed could not do so, because their pre-eminence was founded on birth. The Brahman was and must be the father of a family; he must provide for himself and his family, while the Bhikshus without care for themselves or their families gave themselves up exclusively to their spiritual duties. All the legal precepts of the Brahmans, which made the maintenance of their order by gifts the duty of the other castes, could not set their families free from the care of their support and property; even the book of the law was obliged to allow the Brahman to carry on other occupations besides the sacrifice and study of the Veda; it could do no more than demand that the Brahman father, when he had begotten his children and established his house, should retire into solitude to do penance and meditate (p. 184, 242). Buddhism excluded its clergy entirely from the family and social life; it permitted them to live together in communities, combined all the initiated into one great brotherhood, and thus gained a firmer connection, a better organisation of its representatives, a body engaged in constant work and preparation without any other interests than those of religion. "He is not a Brahman," we are told in an old Buddhist formula, 'the Foot-prints of the Law,' "who is born as a Brahman." "He is a Brahman who is lean, and wears dusty rags, who possesses nothing, and is free from fetters."[669] The entrance into this community was open; Buddha imparted the consecration of the mendicant to every one in whom he found belief in his doctrine and the desire to renounce the world; and said, "Come hither; enter into the spiritual life." With this simple formula the reception was complete.[670] This pillar of Buddhism was never shaken, though after the second council of Vaiçali (433 B.C.) a certain knowledge of the canonic scriptures, the sutras and the Vinaya, as fixed by that assembly, was required in addition to the qualifications of poverty and chastity. Buddha had fixed that admission into the clerical order could not take place before the twentieth year. After the pattern of the Brahman schools (p. 178) it was the custom to receive boys and youths as novices as soon as the parents gave permission, and one of the consecrated was found willing to undertake the instruction of the novice. At a later time this institution of the noviciate found a far more solid basis in the monastic life of the Bhikshus than that which the isolated Brahman could offer to the pupils in his own house. The novice (Çramanera ) might not kill anything, or steal, or lie; he must commit no act of unchastity, drink no intoxicating liquor, eat nothing after mid-day, neither sing nor dance, neither adorn nor anoint himself, and receive no gold or silver. When the period of instruction was over, the admission took place in the presence of the assembled clergy of the monastery. When he had taken the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the newly-initiated received the yellow robe and the mendicant's jar with the admonition: "To have no intercourse with any woman, to take away nothing in secret, to wear a dusty garment, to dwell at the roots of trees, to eat only what others had left, and use the urine of cows as a medicine."[671]

With his entrance into the community of the initiated, the Bhikshu had left the world behind, and broken the fetters which bound him to his kindred. If married before his admission, he was no longer to trouble himself for his family: "those who cling to wife and child are, as it were, in the jaws of the tiger." He is separated from his brothers and sisters, and great as is the importance elsewhere attached in Buddhism to filial affection, he is not to lament the death of his father or mother. He is free from love; he holds nothing dear; for "love brings sorrow, and the loss of the loved is painful."[672] He is without relations; nothing but his mendicant's robe is his own; he may not work. Not even labour in a garden is permitted to him; worms might be killed in turning up the earth. Thus for the initiated the fetters of family, possessions, and the acquisition of property, which bind us most strongly to life, are burst asunder. He has nothing of his own, and consequently can feel no desire to keep his possessions, or pain at their loss; he inhabits an "empty house."[673] The rules of external discipline were not too many. Beard, eye-brows, and hair were to be shaved, a regulation which arose in contrast to the various hair-knots of the Brahmanic schools and sects, and was an extension of the Brahmanic view of the impurity of hair. With the Buddhists the hairs are an impure excretion of the skin, refuse which must be thrown away; the tonsure was performed at every new and full moon.[674] The Bhikshu was never to ask for a gift, he must receive in silence what is offered. If he receive more than he requires, he must give the remainder to others. He must never eat more than is required for his necessities, nor after midday, nor may he eat flesh. Even among the Buddhists the rules of food are tolerably minute, and many of the prescripts of the Brahmans were adopted by them. Essential importance was attributed to moderation; desires were not to be excited by unnecessary satisfaction. The Bhikshu must especially guard against women. He must not receive alms from the hand of a woman, or look on the women he meets, or speak with them, or dream of them. "So long as the least particle of the desire which attracts the man to the woman remains undestroyed, so long is he fettered like the calf to the cow;"[675] and Buddha is said to have declared that if there were a second passion as strong as the passion for women no one would ever attain liberation. It was reasons of this kind, of modesty and chastity, which made it a rule for the Bhikshus, in contrast to the nudity of the Brahmanic penitent, never to lay aside his garments: his shirt and yellow garment which came over the shirt as far as the knee—the rule required that it should be made of sewn rags—and his mantle, worn over the left shoulder. The Bhikshu is to watch himself like a tower on the borders, without a moment's intermission,[676] and bridle his desires with a strong hand, as the leader holds back the raging elephant with the spear.[677] He must always bear in mind that the body is a tower of bones, smeared with flesh and blood, the nest of diseases; that it conceals old age and death, pride and flattery; that life in this mass of uncleanness is death.[678] In contrast to the multitude who are driven by desire like hunted hares,[679] he is to live without desire among those who are filled with desire; the passions which run hither and thither like the ape seeking fruit in the forest, which spring up again and again like creeping-plants if they are not taken at the roots, he must tear up root and all, and strive after the sundering of the toils, the conquest of Mara (p. 481) and his troop. Freedom from desire is "the highest duty; and he is the most victorious who conquers himself."[680] Victory is won by taming the senses, and schooling the soul; no rain penetrates the well-roofed house, no passion the well-schooled spirit.[681] "A man is not made a Bhikshu by tonsure," nor by begging of another, nor by faith in the doctrine, but only by constant watchfulness and work. The Bhikshu who fails in these had better eat hot iron than the fruits of the field; the "ill practised restraint of the senses leads into hell."[682]

We know that the Bhikshus had to support each other mutually in this work. Following the pattern of the master they passed the rainy season, in common shelter, in monasteries. These, as we saw (p. 378), existed as early as the reign of Kalaçoka. At first they sought protection in hollows of the mountains like the cave of Niagrodha, near Rajagriha. Then these caves were extended artificially, and in this way they came by degrees to be cave cloisters with halls for assembly of considerable extent. In the detached monasteries the halls were the central points, and the monks had separate cells on the surrounding wall. The description given in the sutras of these Viharas is far from discouraging. Platforms, balustrades, lattice-windows were provided, and good places for sleeping. The sound of metal cymbals or bells summoned the monks to prayer or to meeting. In these monasteries the elders instructed the disciples, those who had advanced on the way of liberation, the less advanced. The four 'truths' were considered in common (p. 340); in common the attempt was made "to cleave the twenty summits of uncertainty with the lightning of knowledge." In the place of the sacrifice, expiations, and penances by which the Brahmans held that crimes, and sins, and transgressions of the rules of purity could be done away, Buddha had established the confession of sin before the brethren. Had a brother failed in the control of desire, and been over-mastered by his impulses, he was to acknowledge his error before the rest. As Buddha removed painful asceticism, so he desired no external and torturing expiations. "Not nakedness," we are told in the footsteps of the law, "nor knots of hair (such as the Brahman penitents wore), nor filthiness, nor fasting, nor lying on the earth, nor rubbing in of dust, nor motionless position, purify a man;"[683] the only purification is the conquest of lust, the amelioration of the mind. Not on works, but on the spirit from which they proceed, does Buddha lay the chief weight. Sins when committed could be removed only by improvement of spirit, by the pain of remorse. Confession was the proof and confirmation of remorse, and thus the confirmation of a good mind. In Buddha's view confession removed the sin when committed, and was immediately followed by absolution.[684] In the monasteries the initiated fasted in the days of the new and full moon, and after the fast came the confessional. The list of duties was read;[685] after every section the question was thrice asked whether each of those present had lived according to the precepts before them. If a confession was made that this had not been the case, the offence was investigated, and absolution given by the president of the meeting. In accordance with Buddha's command a common confession of all the brethren in every monastery took place after the rainy season before the mendicants recommenced their travels.[686] At a later time it was common at confession to divide the offences into such as received simple absolution, such as required reproof before absolution, such as were subject to penance, and lastly such as involved temporary or entire expulsion from the community. Obstinate heresy and unchastity entailed complete expulsion; the man who indulged in sexual intercourse could no longer be a disciple of Buddha. The penances imposed for errors of a coarser kind were very slight and are so still; the performance of the more menial services in the monastery, otherwise discharged by the novices, or the repetition of a forced number of prayers. No one was compelled because he had once taken a vow to observe it for ever; any initiated person could and still can come back into the world at any moment. The vow was not binding for the whole of life, and no one was to discharge his duties against his will.

Among the Bhikshus the authority of age was maintained; respect was paid to experience, proved virtue, and wisdom; the teacher ranked above the pupil, the older believer before the younger. Hence the Sthaviras,i. e. the elders, held the foremost place among them. Still it was not years, but liberation from the evil of the world, that made the Sthavira.[687] Each monastery had a Sthavira at the head, whom the Bhikshus had to obey, for in addition to vows of poverty and chastity they took vows of obedience. Nevertheless Buddhism gave the greater weight to the feeling and sense of equality and brotherly love. Authority resided less in the Sthavira than in the assembly of the initiated. Had not the first disciples of Buddha established his sayings in common at the first council at Rajagriha, even though one of his most beloved followers presided over them? The second synod at Vaiçali was conducted in the same way; the community of the Bhikshus (sangha, the assembly) had given their authoritative sanction to the rules of discipline, which were to have general currency, after they had been fixed by the elders. The monasteries were similarly organised; there also the community gave the consecration of the priest, heard confession, imposed penances, ordered temporary or complete expulsion under the presidency of the Sthavira.

There were merits of another kind among the Bhikshus which transcended the rank of the teachers, of the elder, of the head of the monastery. These were the merits of religious service, of deeper knowledge, of more complete conquest over the natural man, the Ego. The Aryas, i. e. the honourable or the rulers, who had learned "the four truths" (p. 340), formed a privileged class of the Bhikshus. On the path "which is hard to tread,"[688] the path of Nirvana, the Buddhists distinguish four stages. The first and lowest has been entered upon by the Çrotaapanna; he cannot any longer be born again as an evil spirit or an animal; and has only seven regenerations to pass through.[689] The second stage is reached by the Sakridagamin, i. e. "the once-returning;" who will only be born once after his death. The third stage is that of the Anagamin, the not-returning, who has to expect his regeneration in the higher regions only, not as a man. On the highest stage stands the Arhat; he has entered on the path which neither the gods nor the Gandharvas know; his senses have entered into rest; he has overcome the impulse to evil as well as the impulse to good; he desires nothing more, neither here nor in heaven. He has "left behind every habitation, as the flamingo takes his way from the sea;"[690] the gods envy him; he has attained the end after which all the Bhikshus strive; he has arrived at Nirvana, and is in the possession of supernatural powers. When he wills, he dies, never to be born again. Like the Brahmans the Buddhists attempted to express in numbers the eminence and value of those who had gone through the four stages. The Çrotaapanna surpasses the ordinary man ten thousand-fold; The Sakridagamin is a hundred thousand times higher than the Çrotaapanna, the Anagamin a million times higher than the Sakridagamin. The Arhat is free from ignorance, free from hereditary sin, i. e. free from desire, and attachment to existence; he is free from the limitation of existence, and therefore from the conditions of it. He possesses the power to do miracles, the capacity of surveying in one view all creatures and all worlds; of hearing all the sounds and words in all the worlds; he has knowledge of the thoughts of all creatures, and remembrance of the earlier habitations, i. e. of the past existences of all creatures.[691]

Buddha's system required, at bottom, that every man should renounce the world, and take the mendicant's robes, in order to enter upon the path of liberation. This requirement could not be realised any more than the demand of the Brahmans that every Dvija should go into the forest at the end of his life and live as a penitent; the Catholic view of the advantage of monastic over secular life has not brought all Catholics into monasteries; how could the Church live and the world exist if every one abandoned the world? Yet the Enlightened was of opinion that help might be given even to those who could not leave the world. In contrast to the pride and exclusiveness of the Brahmans it was precisely the promise of help to all, the strongly-marked tendency to relieve every one, even the meanest, the sympathy with the sorrows of the oppressed, the turning aside from the powerful and rich to the lonely and poor,—it was the fact that mendicants took the highest place in the new Church—which won adherents to Buddha's teaching from the oppressed classes of the people. If the layman, so Buddha thought, resolved to live according to the precepts of his ethics, he would not only lighten the burden of existence for himself and others; by the practice of these virtues he attained such merit that his regenerations became more favourable, and followed in "good paths," so that he was allowed eventually to receive initiation and thus attain the end of sorrows, death without any return to life. He who would adopt this doctrine, had only to declare that it was his will to perform the commands of its ethics. The formula of entrance and adoption into the community of the believers in Buddha ran thus: "I take my refuge in Buddha; I take my refuge in the law (dharma ); I take my refuge in the community (sangha )," i. e. of the believers. With this declaration the convert took a pledge not to kill anything that had life, not to steal, to commit no act of unchastity, not to babble, nor lie, nor calumniate, nor disparage, nor curse; not to be passionate, greedy, envious, angry, revengeful. The layman is to control his appetites as far as possible, to moderate his selfishness, and in the place of his natural corrupt desires to put the right feeling of contentment and submission, of beneficence, and pity, and love to his neighbour, a feeling out of which, in Buddha's view, "the avoidance of evil and doing of good" spontaneously arose. This repose, patience, and moderation would cause even the laymen to bear the evils of existence more lightly, and keep themselves as far as possible from the complications of the world. His adherence to the doctrines of Buddha was to be shown in the first instance by gifts to the clergy. The Church had no means of subsistence except the alms of the laymen; their gifts, in the eyes of the Buddhists, bringsalvation for the giver no less than the receiver; the latter ought humbly to beg the clergy to accept their presents.[692]

Buddha's doctrine acknowledged no God. It was man who by the power of his knowledge could attain to absolute truth; who by the force of his will, the eradication of desire, the sacrifice of his goods and his body for his nearest relations, the annihilation of his own self, would win complete virtue and sanctity. "Self is the protector and the refuge of self,"[693] But were the inculcation of prayers and precepts, the discussion of the sayings of Buddha, on which they rested, enough to make the laity and clergy able and willing to observe and perform them? Must there not be some proof that these doctrines could be carried out, that they had the most beneficial results, that the object at which they aimed was really attainable? Clergy as well as laity needed a living pattern to strive after, a fixed support and rule on which they could lean in their conscience, their thoughts, actions, and sufferings, and by which they could measure themselves. This pattern was given in the person of the master, in his life, his acts, his end. His life and actions were to be the subject of meditation; on this a man might raise and elevate himself; after that pattern every one should guide his acts and thoughts. If the initiated clung to his lofty wisdom which saw through the web of the worlds, and could liberate self from nature and annihilate it, the picture of the mendicant prince, who had left palace and wife and child and kingdom and treasures in order to share and alleviate the lot of the poorest, could not be of less influence on the hearts of the laity. This wonderful religion had no object of worship beside the person of the founder; on this it must be concentrated. The pious remembrance of the profound teacher, thankfulness for the salvation which he brought into the world, the study of the pattern of wisdom and truth which he gave, of the ideal of perfect sanctification and liberation, displayed in him,—these motives quickly made Buddha an object of reverence, and ere long of worship, though to himself and his disciples he was no more than a mere man. In this religion of man-worship Buddha took the place of God; he was God to his believers.

But the religion could not long remain contented with a thoughtful remembrance, a vague recollection, and assurances of reverence towards the departed as the means of arousing the heart and elevating the spirit. Some external excitement, some symbol or sensuous sign was needed, however rationalistic in other respects Buddha's doctrine might be. But he who brought salvation and liberation into the world lived no longer in the other world; he was dead, never to rise again. Nothing was left of him but the bones and ashes of his body. We know that in ancient times the Aryas buried their dead; and afterwards they burned them. The additional emphasis which the old conceptions of the impurity of the corpse, the worthlessness of the flesh, had received in the system of the Brahmans, was no doubt the reason why they sought to remove the remains of the cremation, the ashes and bones, by throwing them into water. Buddha did not treat the body better than the Brahmans; with him, though not strictly the cause, it was the bearer and medium of the destruction and pain of mankind, inasmuch as in his eyes the perverse direction of the soul and its dependence on existence were destruction. This body, which Brahmans and Buddhists vied with each otherin regarding as a perishable and worthless vessel containing the Ego, which a man must either break asunder, or liberate himself from it, the relics of which had been considered for so many centuries as impure and spreading impurity, received quite a new importance in the Buddhist religion. Not long after the death of the Enlightened, when the generation of disciples who had seen him and lived with him had passed away, the need of some representation and idea of the pattern and centre of these thoughts and efforts, of the person of their teacher, impelled the believers to pay honour to his ashes and bones, to his relics. This honour was soon extended to the bones of his leading disciples, a form of worship which must have been shocking to the Brahmans. Similar honour was then paid to the robes and vessels which Buddha had used, to his mendicant's garment, his staff, his jar for alms and pitcher, and also to the places which he had sanctified by his presence. Two centuries after the death of the Enlightened, this worship of relics and pilgrimage to the holy places were established customs. The believers in Buddha travelled to Kapilavastu, his father's city. There they beheld the garden in which Buddha had seen the light, the pool in which he was washed, the ground on which he had contended in exercises with his fellows, the places where he had seen the old man, the sick man, and the corpse. In the neighbourhood of Uruvilva on the Nairanjana pilgrims visited the dwellings where Buddha had lived for six years as an ascetic, at Gaya the sacred fig-tree under which in the night truth was revealed to him. Not far from thence was the place where the maiden of Uruvilva had given food to the son of Çakya, where he had first announced his doctrine to the two merchants. At Rajagriha the stone was pointed out which Devadatta had hurled from the height of the vulture mountain on Buddha. Even the bamboo garden at this city, which Buddha was said to have taken pleasure in frequenting, and the place at Çravasti where he had held his disputations with the Brahmanic penitents, were shrines of pilgrimage.[694]

From the same need of representing and realising the religious example, and of elevating the heart and spirit to that pattern, which gave rise to the worship of relics and shrines, there sprang, in addition, the worship of the pictures of Buddha. He who had placed the body of man so low was now thought to have had a body of the greatest beauty; his perfect wisdom and virtue had found expression in the most perfect body. The sutras compare Buddha's gentle eye with the lotus; they even tell us of the thirty-two signs of complete beauty, and the eighty-four marks of physical perfection in his body.[695]

Buddha's doctrine was definitely based on the fact that man must liberate himself by his own power and wisdom, and to himself and his disciples Buddha was a man and no more, but in a nation so eager for miracles and inclined to believe in them, Buddha's life and actions inevitably became surrounded with the supernatural. He could not remain behind the Brahman penitents and saints, who had done great miracles. Could anything so great as Buddha's life and doctrine have occurred without a miracle; was a mission possible without miracles; could the greatest mission, the liberation of the world from misery, have taken place without being accredited by miracles? Could he who had reached the summit of wisdom and virtue have been without supernatural powers? That sanctification and meditation were and must be followed by such powers, was a matter of course among the Indians. Even in the third century B.C. miraculous powers were ascribed to the Bhikshus who had attained the fourth stage in the path, and therefore the same must have been done even earlier for Buddha himself. The same legends which represent Buddha as saying to king Prasenajit of Ayodhya: "I do not bid my disciples perform miracles; I tell them; Live so that your good deeds may remain concealed, your errors confessed,"[696] surround his birth and his penances at Gaya (p. 337 ff. 356) with miraculous signs; and in the disputations with the Brahmans they represent him as contending in miracles also, and gaining the victory. But these and other miracles of Buddha, though he travels with his disciples through the air, are nevertheless not to be compared with the achievements of the Brahmanic penitents, narrated in the Brahmanas and the Epos. They are for the most part the healing of disease and restoration to life, intended to bring out his compassion for living creatures,[697] and beside these the exercise of the miraculous powers which the Buddhists ascribe to all who have attained the fourth stage in the path (p. 472).

It was not only the miraculous acts of the saints which forced their way from Brahmanism into Buddhism; even the gods and spirits, the heaven and hell of the Brahmans, had a place in the new religion. The old divinities of the Indian nation, as we have seen, could only maintain a very subordinate position in the system of the world-soul, inferior to that soul and to the great power of the rishis. They also had become emanations of the world-soul; though ranked among the earliest of these, they came immediately after the great saints of old time. But every penitent who by his asceticism concentrated a larger part of the power of the world-soul in himself, became superior to Indra and to the personal Brahman. The same position in respect to the ancient deities and the personal Brahman was allotted to Buddha. From the beginning of the third century B.C. he appears to have been worshipped by his followers as a god.[698] This was due not merely to the desire to place the power of the penitent, of meditation and knowledge, higher than the power of the gods, but also to the deep necessity on the part of the new religion and the believers in Buddha to possess a God. Later legends put the deities far below Buddha. He converts the spirits of the earth, of the air, of the serpents to his doctrine, and in return these spirits serve and obey him. Even the great gods come and listen to his words, and Buddha declares the new law to Brahman and to Indra.[699] In the relic-cell of a stupa of the second century B.C. Brahman is holding a parasol over Buddha, and Indra anoints him out of a large shell to be king of gods and men.[700]

Thus to his believers Buddha is not only the lion, the bull, and the elephant, stronger than the strongest, mightier than the mightiest, surpassing all men in compassion and good works, beautiful beyond the most beautiful of mankind; not only is he the king of doctrine, the ocean of grace, the founder of the eternal pilgrimages, he is also the father of the world, redeemer and ruler of all creatures, god of gods, Indra of Indras, Brahman of Brahmans. Nothing, of course, is now said of independent action, or power on the part of these Indras and Brahmans. To later Buddhism they are a higher but completely human class of beings; in the retinue of Buddha they are only a troop of supernumerary figures whose essential importance consists merely in bowing themselves before Buddha, serving him, and placing in the fullest light his power and greatness. Like men, these deities have to seek the light of higher wisdom, the salvation of liberation by effort and labour. To Indra, for instance, the Buddhists assign no higher dignity than that of the first stage of illumination; he stands on the level of the Çrotaapanna.[701]

In this transformation, which we find in the later writings of the Buddhists, the entire Indian and Brahmanic view of the world reappears in its widest extent. The divine mountain Meru forms the centre of the earth. Beneath it, in the deepest abyss, is hell. The Buddhists are even more minute than the Brahmans in describing the torments and subdivisions of hell, and with them also Yama is the god of death and the under world.[702] On the summit of Meru Indra is enthroned, who with the Buddhists also is the special protector of kings, and with him are the thirty-three gods of light (p. 161). In the Buddhist mythology the evil spirits, the Asuras, attack Indra and the bright spirits, as in the Vedic conception; but the Asuras could not advance further than the third of the four stages which the Buddhists ascribed to Meru, after the analogy of the four truths and the four stages of sanctification. The Gandharvas have to defend the eastern side of Meru against the Asuras; the Yakshas (the spirits of the god Kuvera, p. 161), the northern; the Kumbhandas (the dwarfs), the southern; and the Nagas or serpent spirits, the western side. In the Buddhist view the earth, the divine mountain, and the heaven of Indra above it make up the world of desire and sin. Indra and his deities are supreme over certain supernatural powers, but they are powerless against the man who has controlled himself;[703] they propagate themselves like men, are subject to the doom of regeneration, and can decline into lower existences. In this sense, with the Buddhists, the evil spirit of desire and sensual pleasure is enthroned over the heaven of Indra; his name is Kama or Mara; he is the cause of all generation, and hence of the restless revolution of the world, and of all misery. Above this heaven of the god of sin, which is filled with innumerable troops of the spirits of desires, begin the four upper heavens, the heaven of the liberated, into which those pass who have delivered themselves from sensual appetite, desire, and existence.[704]

Among the Buddhists there could be no question of the worship of these unreal deities, without power to bless or destroy. Their cultus was limited to the person of the founder, the symbols and memorials of his life, the relics of his body, the places sanctified by his presence. But they could not slay animals in sacrifice to the relics or the Manes of Buddha, nor invite the extinguished etherealized dead to the enjoyment of the soma. Of what value was the blood or flesh of victims to one who would never wake again; and how could they offer bloody sacrifices to one with whom it was the first commandment not to slay any living thing? Agni could carry no gift up to him who was perfected; and moreover Buddha had himself expressly forbidden sacrifice by fire; the Buddhists were to tend the law as the Brahmans tended the fire.[705] They could only place offerings of flowers, fruits, and perfumes at the sacred shrines, before the relics of the Enlightened, as signs of thankfulness and reverence, as symbols of worship (puja ). Prayer was in reality unknown to a cultus which was directed to a deceased man, and not to a deity. Believers must be content with the symbols of reverence, with singing hymns of praise and thanksgiving to the Enlightened, for having discovered truth, proclaimed liberation, shown pity, and brought help to all creatures; they must limit themselves to the confessions which these doctrines comprised, to hearing moral exhortations, to pronouncing and wishing blessings: "that all creatures may be free from sickness and wicked pleasure, that every man may become an Arhat in the future regeneration."[706] The gradual elevation of the position of Buddha, and the more complete apotheosis which was granted to him, led to direct invocations of the Enlightened. As the benefactor of all creatures he was besought for his blessing; as the liberator he was entreated to confer the power of liberation, and liberation. When after the end of the third century B.C.statues of Buddha stood in the halls of the Viharas, it became usual to invoke Buddha to be present in these statues. By the consecration which they underwent at the hands of the priests they received a ray of the spirit of Buddha, and thus acquired a beneficent miraculous power.

At morning, midday, and evening, i. e. at the times when it was customary among the Aryas to offer prayers, or gifts, or strew grains of corn, the monks of the Enlightened were summoned to prayers. At the new and full moon, when the Bhikshus fasted, and met for confession, the laity also discontinued their occupations, assembled to read the law, or hear preachers, or utter prayers. In no religious community was prayer so frequent and so mechanical as among the Buddhists, and this is still the case. Greater festivals were celebrated at the beginning of the spring, in the later spring, and at the end of the rainy season. The festival held at the new moon in the first month of spring, is said to have been a festival in commemoration of the victory which Buddha won in the disputation and contest of miracles with the Brahmanic penitents (p. 356). Buddha himself is said to have indulged in secular enjoyment for eight days after this success. As a fact, it was, no doubt, the customary spring festival—a remnant of the old Arian custom, to celebrate in the spring the victory gained by the spirits of light and the clear air over the gloom of the winter—which the Buddhists now celebrated in honour of their great teacher. At the full moon of the month Vaiçakha in the later spring, the day was celebrated on which the Enlightened saw the light for the salvation of the world. With the Buddhists the rainy season was the sacred season, the time for reflection and retirement. At the end of the rains Buddha had always revisited the world, in order to announce to it salvation; and like him, his followers, the Bhikshus, who could not leave the Vihara in the rainy season, returned on this day to the world, in order to recommence their wanderings and preaching for the salvation of living creatures. This return of the teachers to the world was marked by a great festival, at which the Bhikshus received presents from the laity; sermons were preached, and processions held in which the lamps, no doubt, represented the light returning after the gloom of the rains, or the light of salvation which Buddha had kindled for the world.

The combination of the clergy and laity in the Buddhist church was even less close than the connection of the Brahmanic priesthood with the other orders. In their traditional position at the funeral feasts of the families the Brahmans retained the guidance of certain corporations. With the Buddhists the care of souls lay entirely in the hands of the wandering Bhikshus, the mendicant monks, unless indeed in a few cases laymen attached themselves of their own free will to some not too distant monastery. But the separation of the Bhikshus from the family and house, their exclusive devotion to teaching and religion, the constant mission and preaching which occupied them for two-thirds of the year, throughout the spring and the hot season, quickly showed itself more efficacious than the sacrificial service of the Brahmans, which was linked with house and home. These travelling monks, who could enter into closer relations with the people because they had no impurities to avoid, such as in many cases entirely excluded the Brahmans from the lower castes, caused their exhortations and counsel to be heard in every house; they were asked about thenames to be given to new-born children; they assisted at the ceremony of the cutting of the hair of boys when they reached the age of puberty, at marriages and burials, and undertook prayers for the happy regeneration of the dead. And not only were the Bhikshus nearer the people, and more easily brought into relations with them, but they obtained far greater hold on their conscience than the Brahmans. This was not merely due to the precepts of their practical morality, which included the whole life and activity of the believers, and of the application and observance of which they took account in the confessional—a duty devolving on the laity as well as the clergy—the doctrine of regeneration was developed more fully in Buddhism, and formed more distinctly the centre of the system than among the Brahmans.

We saw that it was the active force of merit or guilt in earlier existences which fixed the fate of the individual in the kind of regeneration, in the happiness or misfortune of his life. In the same way the good and evil of this life had its effects. "He who goes out of the world, him his deeds await"[707]—such is the formula of the Buddhists. The various divisions of hell, the distinctions of the castes, which with the Buddhists counted as gradations of rank among men (p. 362), the heavenly spirits and the ancient gods, which had been received into the Buddhist heaven, served to increase the graduated series of regenerations to a considerable degree. "He who has lived foolishly goes into hell after the dissolution of the body;"[708]he is born again as a creature of hell in a department of greater or less torment according to his guilt. The less guilty are born again as evil spirits. Higher in the scale stood regeneration as an animal; among animal regenerations the Buddhists counted birth as an ant, louse, bug, or worm the worst. Among mankind men were born again in a bad or good way, in a lower or higher caste, under easier or harder circumstances, according to their guilt or merit. Birth as a heavenly spirit counted higher than any human regeneration; higher still was birth as a god. But even when born again as a god, man was still under the dominion of desire; as we have seen, Indra only held the rank of a Çrotaapanna. From this stage it was possible to decline; it was by further conquest and liberation that a man must work his way upwards. Above the heaven of Indra and Mara, in the four high heavens, dwelt the spirits which had liberated themselves from desire and existence; in the lowest of these were the spirits who, though free from desire, are fettered by plurality,i. e. by ignorance; in the next, the heaven of clearer light, are those who, though free from desire and ignorance, are not so free that they cannot again sink under their dominion; the highest heaven but one receives the spirits who have no relapse to fear; and in the highest of all are the Arhats who have exhausted existence. As we see, the Buddhists avail themselves of the Brahmanic heaven and hell, and the intervals which the Brahmans place between regenerations in hell or in Indra's heaven, in order to construct out of them a more complete system. In this the process of the purification of the soul ascends from the lowest place in hell through the evil spirits, the creeping, flying, and four-footed animals, through men of all positions in life, and then through the heavenly spirits and deities to the highest heaven, till the point is reached at which all earlier guilt is exhausted, and the total of merit so extended that the original sin of the soul, desire and its possibility, is removed; and thus liberation from existence takes place, the Ego  is extinguished. It is an inconsistency, no doubt, that those who have annihilated themselves and the roots of their existence by attaining Nirvana, shall still have a kind of existence in the highest heaven; but by this means the system was made more complete and realistic.

And not merely this wide development of the system of regenerations, but the practical application of it must have given the Bhikshus greater power over the consciences and heart of the nation than that exercised by the Brahmans. Buddha had known his own earlier existences. The tradition of the Singhalese ascribes to him 550 earlier lives before he saw the light as the son of Çuddhodana. He had lived as a rat and a crow, as a frog and a hare, as a dog and a pig, twice as a fish, six times as a snipe, four times as a golden eagle, four times as a peacock and as a serpent, ten times as a goose, as a deer, and as a lion, six times as an elephant, four times as a horse and as a bull, eighteen times as an ape, four times as a slave, three times as a potter, thirteen times as a merchant, twenty-four times as a Brahman and as a prince, fifty-eight times as a king, twenty times as the god Indra, and four times as Mahabrahman. Buddha had not only known his own earlier existences (p. 345), but those of all other living creatures; and this supernatural knowledge, this divine omniscience was, as we have seen, ascribed to those who after him attained the rank of Arhats. Though it did not reside in the full extent in Anagamins, Sakridagamins, Çrotaapannas, and still less in all the Bhikshus, it was nevertheless found in an imperfect degree in all "who advanced on the way." The people believed that the Çramanas could not only foretell from the present conduct of a man his future lot, and his regenerations in hell, among animals or men, but that they could also declare his future in this life from his previous existences. Hence the Bhikshus were masters not of the future only but also of the past of every man; and as they had his fate completely in view, the rules which they laid down from this point received an importance calculated to ensure their observance.[709]

It was no hindrance to morality that in this doctrine every man had his fate in his own hands at least so far that he could alleviate it for the future, and the practical results which the ethics of the Buddhists achieved on the basis of this imaginary background of regeneration are far from contemptible. The essential points in the Buddhist ethics, the moderate, passionless life, and patience and sympathy, have been dwelt upon (p. 355). It was not without value that the Buddhists taught, that no fire was like hatred and passion, and no stream like desire;[710] that the desires bring little pleasure and much pain; only he who controlled himself lived in happiness, and contentment is the best treasure.[711] He who merely saw the deficiencies of others, his offences would increase; and he who was always thinking: Such a man injured me, annoyed me, will never attain repose. Hard words were answered with hard words; therefore a man should bear slighting speeches patiently, as an elephant endures arrows in the battle, and lives without enmity among his enemies.[712] To tend fire for a hundred years, or offer sacrifice for a thousand,[713] was of no avail; neither the penance of the moon nor sacrifice changes anything in the evil act, even though it were offered for a year.[714] Those who lie and deny the acts they have done will go into hell.[715] The evil act pursues the doer; there is no place in the world in which to escape it; it destroys the doer unless it is conquered and covered by good deeds.[716] Duties come from the heart; if the act is good it leaves no remorse in the heart. A man should give alms though he has but little; the covetous will not come into the world of the gods. These earnest exhortations to acquire before all things the feeling which gives rise to good works, to extinguish offences by confession and good actions, to moderate greed and covetousness, to live contentedly and peaceably, to be gentle in our deeds, could not be without effect. This peaceableness the Buddhists showed in the tolerance they extended to those who were of a different faith than their own; and for the family the rules of affection impressed on children towards their parents, of chastity and forbearance impressed on husbands and wives, were wholesome and advantageous in their results.[717] The limitations set up by the arrangement of the castes, worship, and custom of the Brahmans began to waver; man was guided from the fortune of birth, the sanctification of works, to his inward effort, and led to the moral education of self. Disposition and personal merit obtained the first place in the community, and fixed a man's fortune in a future life. Thus the pride of higher birth as against the lower born has to give way; and hence slaves were treated with greater kindness. Fantastic as was the heaven and hell reconstructed by the Buddhists, marvellous as was the elevation of a man to be god, superstitious as was the worship of relics, exaggerated as was the conception of the way, the increasing supernatural power of him who was attaining liberation, and indubitable as was the tendency of Nirvana to end in the last instance in mere stolid indifference—the individual and morality were again restored by this doctrine and placed in their rights; society could again acquire free movement in personal intercourse and free choice of a vocation; all men were in reality equal, and could help each other as brothers.

Footnotes:

[663]"Dhammapadam," translated by A. Weber, v. 394.

[664]Köppen, "Religion des Buddha," s. 294.

[665]"Dhammapadam," v. 277.

[666]Supra, p. 348. "Dhammapadam," v. 418. Köppen, loc. cit. 289 ff.

[667]Burnouf, "Introd." p. 170.

[668]Köppen, "Religion des Buddha," s. 131.

[669]"Dhammapadam," v. 395.

[670]Köppen, "Rel. des Buddha," s. 336.

[671]Köppen, loc. cit. s. 338.

[672]"Dhammapadam," v. 211.

[673]"Dhammapadam," v. 373.

[674]Köppen, loc. cit. s. 343.

[675]"Dhammapadam," v. 284.

[676]"Dhammapadam," v. 315.

[677]"Dhammapadam," v. 327.

[678]"Dhammapadam," v. 149, 154.

[679]"Dhammapadam," v. 343.

[680]"Dhammapadam," v. 103, 274, 334.

[681]"Dhammapadam," v. 15.

[682]"Dhammapadam," v. 308, 312.

[683]"Dhammapadam," v. 141.

[684]Burnouf, "Introd." p. 274.

[685]There are 227 commands and prohibitions among the Singhalese at the present day, and 253 among the Tibetans.

[686]Köppen, loc. cit. s. 367 ff.

[687]"Dhammapadam," v. 260.

[688]"Dhammapadam," v. 270.

[689]Schlagintweit, "Buddhism in Tibet," p. 191 ff.

[690]"Dhammapadam," v. 20, 94, 181, 412. Cf. v. 267.

[691]Köppen, "Relig. des Buddha," s. 411. The supernatural powers of the Arhats are mentioned in the inscriptions of Açoka, and the ordination service of the Çramanas forbade them to boast falsely of supernatural powers. Köppen, loc. cit. s. 413.

[692]Köppen, loc. cit. s. 358 ff.

[693]"Dhammapadam," v. 300.

[694]Supra, p. 339, 357. Köppen, loc. cit. s. 63-118.

[695]Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 381. Köppen is undoubtedly right in regarding the worship of relics as older than the worship of images. The worship of relics and pilgrimages was in vogue when Açoka became a convert to Buddhism, but nothing is there said of the worship of images. I do not think it a certain fact that there were no images in the grottoes of Buddhagaya which date from Açoka and his grandson Daçaratha; sockets and niches for images are found there (Cunningham, "Survey," 1, 46), and the images may have been removed later; it is more decisive that in the transference of Buddhism to Ceylon, nothing is said of the transportation of images, though we do hear of relics. Rajendralala Mitra ("Antiq. of Orissa," p. 152), concludes from Panini, who as we have seen lived, according to M. Müller and Lassen, in the second half of the fourth century B.C., that at that time there were little idols of Vasadeva, Vishnu, Çiva, and the Adityas. We may assume that the worship of images came into vogue towards the end of the third century, and afterwards rose rapidly.

[696]Burnouf, "Introd." p. 170.

[697]Burnouf, "Introd." p. 180, 195, 262.

[698]This date would be fixed if the passage in Clement of Alexandria: "The Indians who follow the doctrines of Butta, whom they regard with the greatest reverence as a god," certainly came from Megasthenes. Megasth. fragm. 44, ed. Müller.

[699]Burnouf, loc. cit. p. 132, 139.

[700]This is the Mahastupa of king Dushatagamani of Ceylon. Lassen, loc. cit. 2, 426, 454.

[701]Köppen, "Relig. des Buddha," s. 402, 430.

[702]"Dhammapadam," v. 44, 235, 237.

[703]"Dhammapadam," v. 105.

[704]Köppen, loc. cit. 235 ff.

[705]"Dhammapadam," v. 392.

[706]Köppen, loc. cit. s. 554 ff.

[707]"Dhammapadam," v. 230.

[708]"Dhammapadam," v. 141.

[709]Köppen, loc. cit. s. 320, 489 ff.

[710]"Dhammapadam," v. 251, 202.

[711]"Dhammapadam," v. 186, 199.

[712]"Dhammapadam," v. 134, 320, 197.

[713]"Dhammapadam," v. 106, and at the beginning.

[714]"Dhammapadam," v. 70; supra, p. 170 f.

[715]"Dhammapadam," v. 177, 306, 224.

[716]"Dhammapadam," v. 161, 173, 223.

[717]"Dhammapadam," v. 332. Köppen, loc. cit. s. 472.