The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, by Edward J Thomas

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, by Edward J Thomas

Postby admin » Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:09 am

The Life of Buddha as Legend and History
by Edward J. Thomas
1927

Image

CONTENTS

• Abbreviations
• Pronunciation
• Chronology
• Preface
• Introduction -- the sources
• I. The ancestry of Buddha
• Note on the geography of early Buddhism
• II. The home and family of Buddha
• III. The birth of Buddha
• IV. Infancy and youth
• V. The Great Renunciation
• VI. Austerities and Enlightenment
• VII. The first preaching
• VIII. Spread of the Doctrine
• IX. Legends of the twenty years' wandering
• X. Rival Schools. Devadatta and Ajatasattu
• XI. The last days
• XII. The Order
• XIII. Buddhism as a religion
• XIV. Buddhism as a philosophy
• XV. Buddha and myth
• XVI. Buddha and history
• XVII. Buddhism and Christianity
• Appendix. The Buddhist Scriptures
• The Theravada (Pali) Canon
• Canonical works of other schools
• Bibliography
• Index
• Notes

PLATES

• PLATE I. THE ENLIGHTENMENT
• PLATE II. ABOVE: TEMPTATION BY MARA'S DAUGHTERS; BELOW: GOTAMA'S FLIGHT
• PLATE III. MIRACLE OF THE PAIRS AT SAVATTHI
• PLATE IV. AJATASATTU VISITS BUDDHA

NOTE. -- Plate I is from an image of the ninth century found at the great stupa of Borobudur in Java. It shows the established Indian form of the Buddha image, which had developed from the Gandhara type. It has the earth-touching pose of hands (bhumisparsa-mudra). Pl. II from the Amaravati stupa in the Madras Presidency (2nd cent. A.D.) is an earlier Indian development of the Gandhara type. PI. III (1st cent. B.C.) shows the Gandhara type (North-West India), from which all images of Buddha are derived. The pose is that of turning the Wheel of the Doctrine (Dharmacakra-mudra), in which the Four Truths are being enumerated. Pl. IV from the Stupa of Bharhut or Barhut, a hundred miles south-west of Allahabad (2nd cent. B.C.), belongs to a period before images of Buddha were made. Three stages of the visit of the king to Buddha are shown. as described in the Samannaphala-sutta (below pp. 138, 179). In the bottom left-hand comer he is setting out with his wives. each on an elephant. On the right he is alighting from the kneeling elephant, and above he is saluting Buddha, who is represented only by his footmarks and seat. The inscription down the right-hand pillar is: Ajatasata bhagavato vamdate, 'Ajatasattu reveres the Lord's [feet].

The illustrations are drawn from W. Cohn. Indische Plastik, Bruno Cassirer Verlag, Berlin. 1921.

Image
The Enlightenment
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 31758
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, by Edward J Th

Postby admin » Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:17 am

ABBREVIATIONS

Digha: Digha-nikaya (quoted by vol. and page of text. The pages of the translation, Dialogues of the Buddha, are not given, as this also gives the page number of the text).

Dial.: Dialogues of the Buddha, tr. by T. W. Rhys Davids.

Majjh.: Majjhima-nikaya.

Samy.: Samyutta-nikaya.

Ang.: Anguttara-nikaya.

Jat.: Jataka. (Quotations are always from the Commentary.)

Dhp.: Dhammapada.

Sn.:. Sutta-nipata.

Vin.: Vinaya.

Dpvm.: Dipavamsa.

Mhvm.: Mahavamsa.

Lal.: Lalita-vistara (quoted by page of Calcutta ed., and of Lefmann).

Mvastu: Mahavastu.

Lotus: Saddharmapundarika.

Divy: Divyavadana.

EB.: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed.

ERE.: Hastings' Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics.

JA.: Journal Asiatique.

JPTS.: Journal of the Pall Text Society.

JRAS.: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.

SBE.: Sacred Books of the East.

ZDMG: Zeitschrift der deutschen Morgenlindischen Gesellschaft.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 31758
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, by Edward J Th

Postby admin » Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:18 am

PRONUNCIATION.

The vowels in Pali and Sanskrit are the same as in German or Italian, except that short a has the sound of u in but. The consonants are mostly as in English: g is always hard, c has the sound of ch in church. The dentals, t, d, etc., are true dentals pronounced with the tongue against the teeth. The cerebrals, t, d, etc. (indicated by a dot below) are pronounced with the tongue drawn against the hard palate. In the case of the aspirated letters, th, ph, etc., the sound is a stop plus a simultaneous aspiration. The accent is on the long syllable as in Latin: Suddh- odana, udana, jatakca, nikaya, tusita, Lalita-vistara.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 31758
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, by Edward J Th

Postby admin » Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:20 am

CHRONOLOGY

B.C.


563 Birth of Gotama Buddha.

543 Accession of Bimbisara king of the Magadhas. (Pasenadi king of the Kosalas.)

534 The· Great Renunciation.

539 Cyrus takes Babylon.

528 The Enlightenment.

c. 516 Inscriptions of Darius I mentioning India and Gandhara among his provinces.

490 Battle of Marathon.

491 Accession of Ajatasattu (Death of Pasenadi and destruction of the Sakyas.)

483 Nirvana of Buddha. First Council at Rajagaha.

480-479 Xerxes' expedition against Greece. Indian soldiers in hill army.

459 Accession of Udayabhadda.

443-435 Anuruddha and Munda. Magadha kings.

431-404 Peloponnesian War.

411 Accession of Susuniga.

393 Accession of Kalasoka.

383-2 Second Council at Vesali.

365-343 Ten sons of Kalasoka.

343-321 The nine Nandas, Dhanananda the last of them slain by Canakka.

338 Battle of Chaeronea.

333 Alexander defeats Darius at Issus.

327-5 Alexander's Indian Expedition.

323 Accession of Candagutta.

323 Death of Alexander.

304-3 Treaty between Seleucus Nicator and Candagutta. Residence of Megasthenes at the court of Candagutta. Deimachus at the court of Bindusara.

297 Accession of Bindusara.

269 Accession of Asoka.

265 Coronation of Asoka.

247 Third Council at Pitaliputta.

247-207 Devanampiya Tissa king of Ceylon

246 Mission of Mahinda to Ceylon.

237-6 Death of Asoka.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 31758
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, by Edward J Th

Postby admin » Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:21 am

PREFACE

SINCE the appearance of the epoch-making works of Rhys Davids, Kern, and Oldenberg, the sources for the history of Buddha and Buddhism have been greatly increased. The accessions to our knowledge of the Pali texts are indeed chiefly due to Rhys Davids, but these new data have never been incorporated with previous results, nor has an estimate been made of the extent to which they modify earlier conclusions.

The present work attempts to set forth what is known from the records, and to utilise information that has never yet been presented in a Western form. Even now much of the material is accessible only in works published in Burma, Siam, and Ceylon, but the great work begun by Rhys Davids in establishing the Pali Text Society is still vivified by his spirit, and continues in the fruitful labours of his successors. Not the least of his achievements is the Pali Text Society's Dictionary, now completed by Dr. W. Stede. All the Pali passages quoted in the course of this work have been either translated or retranslated by me in the light of the evidence accumulated by these scholars.

There has been a tendency in Germany and England to depend almost entirely on the Pali sources, neglecting the works of schools preserved in Sanskrit, and in Tibetan and Chinese translations from the Sanskrit, which although often later than the Pali, yet are parallel and more or less independent traditions, and cannot safely be ignored. The Pali itself is no primitive record, but the growth of a long tradition in one school. The Sanskrit needs to be equally closely analysed; and if the result tends to show the historical weakness of a narrative based on one set of records, the final conclusions are all the more reliable.

All the traditions are subordinate to the fact of the establishing of a system of doctrine and a religious order. The earliest form of the doctrine is still a matter of controversy, but it is possible to separate off much that is agreed to be the development of later centuries. One important fact brought out by the comparison of Sanskrit sources is the fundamental doctrinal agreement in the earlier schools, a result which makes it impossible to treat the Pali tradition as a truncated or perverted form of a nobler teaching. Mahayana doctrines are doubtless older than the works in which we find them expounded, but they do not belong to the oldest schools.

How far Buddhism now possesses validity as a religion is a further question, on which opinions diverge greatly. A recent writer has said that" all that has hitherto been held to be the ancient Buddha doctrine is false, inasmuch as its root idea, with the passage of time, has no longer been understood, nay has actually been perverted into its very opposite"1 For this writer Buddhism is "not one religion among many others, but as the most perfect reflection of the highest actuality, the Absolute Religion". It may be that this writer is not so exclusively in possession of the truth as his words seem to imply, but while such views are held, it is surely of the first importance to know what our documents actually say, and what the earliest interpreters thought they meant.

What lies before us, as well as behind us, has been well put by Mrs. Rhys Davids: "When believers in the East and historians in the West will come out of the traditional attitude-when we shall not hear church-editing called Buddha-vacanam, and thought of as Gotama-vacanam -- when we shall no more read: 'The Buddha laid down this and denied that', but 'the Buddhist church did so '-- then we shall at last be fit to try to pull down superstructure and seek for the man . . ."2

My greatest thanks are due to Miss C. M. Ridding of Girton College, who has read and criticised much of the work in manuscript, and to Miss O. G. Farmer, Mary Bateson Fellow of Newnham College, for reading and criticising the proofs. To Professor Sir William Ridgeway, Sc.D., F.B.A., who helped and encouraged me at all stages of the work, I am no longer able to express my thanks and gratitude. I am also greatly indebted for valuable discussions and information on special points to Professor S. N. Dasgupta, Ph.D., Dr. G. S. Ghurye, Reader in Sociology in Bombay University, and Professor K. Rama Pisharoti, M.A., Principal of the Sanskrit College, Tripunittura.

EDWARD J. THOMAS.

PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION

THE accession to our knowledge of Buddhism during the last twenty years have consisted chiefly in establishing the fact of the existence of a Sanskrit Canon parallel to the Pali. When the Pali Scriptures were first brought to light there was a tendency to ignore all the Sanskrit sources. This was at the time inevitable, for the few Sanskrit works then known were very late and mingled with Mahayana doctrines. But now more and more portions of the Sanskrit form of the Scriptures are being discovered. Much of their contents was known from Chinese and Tibetan translations, and the evidence to be drawn from them has already been used in the present work. Although there were many schools or sects, there was only one Canon, with differences of detail and arrangement such as might be expected in the case of records for long preserved by memory. They were in a Prakrit dialect, and were finally committed to writing in Pali by the Theravada school and by the Sarvastivadins in Sanskrit. Another school, of which less is known, was that of the Mahasanghikas. Some examples of these parallel recensions are given in the author's Early Buddhist Scriptures.

Although these schools developed special doctrines, nothing of these divergences is found in the Canon itself. The variants that occur usually refer to historical or legendary events in the narrative portions attached to most of the discourses. The latest and most detailed piece of research on these variant records has been done by Dr. E. Waldschmidt, who has treated the Mahaparinibbana-sutta in great detail. He has collected all the Sanskrit passages that have been recovered and has compared them with the other known documents in Pali, Tibetan, and Chinese. Japanese scholars, in particular M. Anesaki and C. Akanuma, working from the Chinese, have analysed the four collections of discourses (Agamas or Nikayas) common to all known schools, so that it is now possible to form a connected view of the Sarvastivada Canon. The Vinaya of the Sarvastivadins, of which the late M. Finot has edited the fundamental list of rules known as the Pratimoksha-sutra, shows equally clearly how the schools held to their authoritative texts. Here, as in the case of the Suttas, the divergences lie in the legendary matter, in which there came to be wide differences between the various schools. The result of all this is not to weaken the authority of the Pali Canon, but to show how all schools inherited an authoritative series of texts. It reduces the likelihood of the notion that behind this tradition lay a forgotten or misunderstood form of primitive Buddhism.

EDWARD J. THOMAS.
Oriental Faculty Library,
Downing Place, Cambridge.
May, 1948.

______________

Notes:

1 G. Grimm, The Doctrine of the Buddha, the religion of reason. Leipzig, 1926.

2 Majjhima Index, editor's note, p. vi.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 31758
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, by Edward J Th

Postby admin » Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:24 am

INTRODUCTION

ASIA is the grave as well as the cradle of religions. They have disappeared not merely with the crumbling of ancient civilisations, but have been swept away before the victorious progress of new forms of belief. One of the most widely spread of these spiritual conquerors has been Buddhism, extending from India over great portions of southern and central Asia and permeating the ancient religions of China and Japan.

Yet until modern times nothing of the real nature of Buddhism was known. The scientific investigators who followed in the train of Alexander the Great describe various Indian religious sects, but do not specifically mention Buddhism. The first Christian writer to mention Buddha is Clement of Alexandria at the end of the second century, who speaks of " those of the Indians that obey the precepts of Boutta, whom through exaggeration of his dignity they honour as a god." 3 Buddha was also known to the Manichaeans. Al Biruni quotes a work by Mani (c. 216-276 A.D.), the Shiiburkiin, in which the great heretic claims as three of his predecessors Buddha, Zoroaster, and Jesus.4 The Acts of Archelaus (early fourth century), which purport to be the record of a debate between Mani and a bishop Archelaus, speak of a predecessor of Mani, Terebinthus, who spread a report about himself, saying that he was filled with all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was now called not Terebinthus but Budda. He pretended that he had been born of a virgin and brought up by an angel on the mountains.5 This work was known to St. Jerome, and from it he may have got his statement that Buddha was born of a virgin. The Acts do not say that Buddha was of virgin birth, but only that Terebinthus, who called himself Buddha, made that claim. St. Jerome attributes to the gymnosophists the belief that "a virgin gave birth from her side to Budda, the chief person of their teaching."6 His statement about the virgin birth may be as much a confusion as his view that Buddha's followers were the gymnosophists. There were gymnosophists or naked ascetics in India, but they were not Buddhists.

In the thirteenth century MARCO POLO had heard of Buddha in Ceylon, whom he named by his Mongolian title of Sagamoni Barcan, a fact which makes it probable that some of his information came from Mongolia. He describes him as the son of the king of Ceylon and the first great idol-founder, though he knew of his greatness as a moral teacher, and declared that if he had been a Christian, he would have been a great saint of our Lord Jesus Christ, so good and pure was the life he led.7

In 1660 ROBERT KNOX, an English seaman, was taken prisoner by the Singhalese, and remained in captivity nineteen years. He mentions Buddha as "a great God, whom they call Buddou, to whom the Salvation of Souls belongs. Him they believe once to have come upon the earth. And when he was here, that he did usually sit under a large shady Tree, called Bogahah."7 But a much more circumstantial account was given by SIMON DE LALOUBERE, envoy from Louis XIV to the king of Siam in 1687-8.9 He had passages from Pili books translated, which give some of the Buddha legend in an intelligible form. He too thought that Buddha was the son of a king of Ceylon. The Indian missionaries of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were much more astray. The Carmelite PAULINUS A. S. BARTHOLOMAE (1790) confused Buddha with the Hindu God Budha (the planet Mercury), and also tried to identify him with the Egyptian god Thout (Thoth).10

Real knowledge could come only from an actual acquaintance with the Buddhist writings, and in the first half of the nineteenth century two names stand out beyond all others. These are ALEXANDER CSOMA DE KOROS, the Hungarian scholar, and BRIAN HOUGHTON HODGSON, who spent over twenty years in Nepal, and for ten years was British Resident there (1883-48). Csoma set out in 1820 in the hope of finding the origin of his nation, and spent four years in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet. He failed in the object of his search, but at Calcutta he found a copy of the Tibetan Buddhist Scriptures, the Kanjur (Bkah hgyur), and the collection of commentaries and other works forming the Tanjur (Bstan hgyur). His analyses of both these collections, which are mainly translations from the Sanskrit, were published in 1886 and 1889, together with Notices on the life of Shakya, extracted from the Tibetan authorities.

Hodgson's work in its results was even more important. During his residence in Nepal he collected over 400 Sanskrit MSS., which he presented to the Asiatic Society of Bengal, the Royal Asiatic Society, the Societe Asiatique, and other libraries, and besides these many works in modern languages and in Tibetan. Those MSS. presented to Paris libraries came into the hands of the first Sanskrit scholar of Europe, EUGENE BURNOUF, and it was on the basis of these and on the arrangement of the Scriptures as given in Csoma's Analysis that he wrote his Introdudion a l'histoire du Buddhisme indien (1844). He also translated one of the works sent by Hodgson, the Saddharmapundarika, as Le Lotus de la bonne Loi (1852).

Other investigators in this field were not in general directly concerned with the history of Buddhism, but there were two scholars whose work, drawn from Tibetan sources, contributed the most important historical material before the discovery of Pali works. FRANZ ANTON VON SCHIEFNER published in 1845 a life of Buddha from the Tibetan, and in 1847 PHILIPPE EDOUARD FOUCAUX issued the Tibetan text with a French translation of the Lalita-vistara, a life of Buddha down to the beginning of his preaching. The Sanskrit text of the latter began to be published by the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1858. This is the work that became to the scholars of the time the chief source for the legend of Buddha's life.

But investigations of Buddhism had already begun from a very different source. GEORGE TURNOUR of the Ceylon Civil Service in 1836 brought out the Mahavamsa, an ancient history of Buddhism in India and Ceylon, and the first important Pali work to be published. He also edited and translated several discourses of Buddha from the Pali. A controversy at once arose as to whether Pali or Sanskrit was the language of Buddha, but neither party saw that they were begging the main question. How do we know that this language was either Pali or Sanskrit? We have no right to take for granted that either language was the primary one, nor can we assume that because a certain work is in Sanskrit, it is later than any in Pali. But what is certain about the works discovered by Hodgson is that they belong to a very late, and in some cases to a very corrupt stage of Buddhism. All Burnouf's Sanskrit sources were much later than the Pali, except so far as earlier passages were embedded in them. In one branch of these Sanskrit writings the compilers actually claim to have received new revelations from Maitreya, the great being now waiting in heaven to become the future Buddha. It is not surprising that scholars failed to find any historical basis in this material, or even to reach any general agreement or conclusions. H. H. Wilson writing with the results of Burnouf's work before him held it "not impossible, after all, that Sakya Muni is an unreal being, and that all that is related of him is as much a fiction as is that of his preceding migrations."11 The Russian scholar Vasiliev in the same year declared that" Russian, French, English, and German scholars have in fact written much on this subject. I have read through most of their works in my time, but through them I have not learnt to know Buddhism."12

It became clear that, whatever value the Pall Scriptures might have, it would be necessary to investigate them. The investigation, is yet far from being completed, but it is chiefly due to three scholars that the texts have now been printed and made accessible. VICTOR FAUSBOLL, the Danish scholar, in 1854, published the Dhammapada, a collection of religious verses and the first text of the Pilli Scriptures to be edited in Europe. From 1877 to 1896 he edited the Jataka with a long Pali commentary which contains a biography of the earlier life of Buddha. HERMANN OLDENBERG edited the Vinaya (1879-83), the 'Discipline', and in 1881 THOMAS WILLIAM RHYS DAVIDS founded the Pali Text Society. For over forty years this scholar devoted himself to the editing of all the unpublished texts, and through his own devotion and enthusiasm, which inspired a large number of fellow workers, the Sutta and Abhidhamma divisions of the Scriptures are now finally complete in more than fifty volumes. These with Oldenberg's Vinaya form the Pali Canon. The first tendency of Pall scholars was naturally to ignore everything but the Pali tradition, I but we have later learned much about other forms of the Buddhist Canon as existing in Chinese and Tibetan translations. These, although they warn us against trusting exclusively to Pali, only emphasise the relative importance and antiquity of the Pali against the late and degenerate forms that have survived in Nepal and Tibet. It is no longer possible to pit the Lalita-vistara against the Pali as a source of history, and to base theories on documents that can be proved to be accretions and inventions of later centuries.

It is undeniable that in the story of Buddha there has been a growth, and even in the oldest documents we can trace records of varying antiquity. In the following pages an attempt will be made to distinguish the earliest accounts, but this does not touch the fundamental question. Is there a historical basis at all? It must be remembered that some recognised scholars have denied and still deny that the story of Buddha contains any record of historical events. We further have the undoubted fact that various well-known characters once accepted as historical are now consigned to legendary fiction, such as Dido of Carthage, Prester John, Pope Joan, and Sir John Mandeville. The reply to those who would treat Buddha in the same way is not to offer a series of syllogisms, and say, therefore the historical character is proved. The opponents must be challenged to produce a theory more credible.

The matter stands just as in the case of any historical person, say Socrates, Muhammad, or Bonaparte. We have many records, many related facts, dates, and archaeological remains, as well as the actually existing Buddhistic peoples with their systems. Do these data point to an origin in the growth and spread of a myth, in which the religions belief in a god has been gradually converted into an apparently historical event, or is the basis a historical person who lived in the sixth century B.C.? An indolent scepticism which will not take the trouble to offer some hypothesis more credible than the view which it discards does not come within the range of serious discussion. The first step however is not to debate these views, but to present the positive evidence.

THE SOURCES

The Scriptures and their commentaries. -- The Buddhist Scriptures have often been consciously or unconsciously brought into comparison with the writings of the New Testament. The result is extremely misleading unless the differences as historical records are also realised. The composition of the Gospels and Epistles is not without problems, but the questions concerning the origination and growth of the Buddhist Canon are far more complex. Buddhism spread rapidly, and soon split up into schools. The Singhalese Chronicles as well as Buddhist Sanskrit works record the names of eighteen schools that arose before the end of the second century after Buddha's death. Some of these were merely schools and disappeared, but others became definite sects with their own Scriptures. As the authoritative teaching represented by the dogmatic utterances and discourses of the Founder were not recorded in writing, but were memorised by each school, differences inevitably began to appear.13 The earliest period at which we have evidence for the existence of a body of Scriptures approximating to the present Canon is at the third Council held B.C. 247, 236 years after the death of Buddha. But this was only the assembly of one school, the Theravada, and it is the Canon of this school which we now possess. From the Chinese translations and fragments of Sanskrit works still in existence we can be sure that other forms of the Canon already existed in other schools. The Canon of the Theravada, 'the School of the Elders,' is divided, as in the other schools, into the Dhamma, the doctrine as comprised in the Suttas, or discourses, the Vinaya, the disciplinary rules for the monks, and the Abhidhamma, scholastic elaborations of the Dhamma. These are analysed in the Appendix. The original language is held to have been, and probably was in fact, Magadhi, the language of the Magadhas, among whom the doctrine was first spread. But the present Scriptures are preserved by the Singhalese, Burmese, and Siamese in a dialect known from the time of the commentaries as Pali (lit. ' text' of the Scriptures), and there is no general agreement among scholars as to the district where this dialect originated.

In the Dhamma and Vinaya we possess, not a historical framework containing discourses, as in the case of the Gospels, but simply discourses and other dogmatic utterances, to which traditions and commentarial legends have later become attached. This is most clearly seen in the case of the Vinaya, where the whole, except the statement of each rule, is an accretion of legendary matter. But the same is also true of the Discourses. The legends have no sacrosanct character, except perhaps in the eyes of modern pious Buddhists, but are recognised by the commentators as being the traditions of the schools that repeated the texts, and sometimes different versions of the same event are recorded. Certain passages are also expressly recognised as being additions of the revisers.14 In the commentaries proper and in other works based on them we find separate traditions, which later were elaborated into a continuous legend. They often show a distinct development from those preserved in the Canon. The earliest form of the Sanskrit tradition is the collection of legends preserved in the Tibetan Scriptures, chiefly in the Vinaya. The most important have been translated by W. W. Rockhill as Life of the Buddha. Later Sanskrit works are the Mahavastu and the Lalita-vistara, both of them showing traces of being based on originals in a popular dialect, and both of them being canonical in certain schools. The Mahavastu, 'the Great Story,' is drawn from the Vinaya of the Lokottara branch of the Mahasanghika school. It contains, like the Vinaya of other schools, a great mass of legends, and its original basis of disciplinary rules has mostly disappeared or become disguised through its importance as a collection of tales and poems. These often correspond verbally with the Pali texts, but still more with the legends of the Pali commentaries. The Lalita-vistara, 'the extended account of the sports' (of the future Buddha) is a continuous narrative of the life of Buddha from his decision to be born down to his first sermon. In its present form it is a Mahayana sutra, but some portions both in prose and verse correspond closely with Pali passages, and are probably quite as old. They are survivals of a Canon that must once have existed side by side with the Pali, and of the kind which is still found in Tibetan and Chinese translations. Other verse portions are in the so-called gatha-dialect, the dialect of the gathas or verses, also called mixed Sanskrit, but it is essentially Prakrit, a popular dialect, which has been turned into Sanskrit so far as the metre would allow. The Mahayana framework of the whole, in which the compiler has arranged his materials, is necessarily later still. Its date in its present form is put by Winternitz in the third century A.D.

Another Sanskrit work, the Abhinishkramana-sutra, now exists only in a Chinese translation.15 An abridged translation in English has been published by Beal as The Romantic Legend of Sakya-Buddha (London, 1875). According to the Chinese translator it was one of several lives of the kind.. It gives the story of Buddha down to the early period of his preaching, and represents the legend much as it is found in the Mahavastu, but arranged as a continuous story. These three works represent a later stage of the legend than we find in the Pali and Tibetan Vinaya. They are definite compilations by individuals on the basis of the earlier texts and commentaries, and the growth of the legend therein can be easily seen.

In the Pali there is also a similar class of works. The Nidana-katha, forming the introduction to the Jataka commentary, like the Abhinishkramana-sutra gives the story of Buddha down to the events after the Enlightenment, but it also records the previous periods from the time cycles ago, when at the feet of Dipankara, the Buddha of that time, he first formed the resolution to become. a Buddha. The commentary on the Buddhvamsa has a similar account, and also gives, or rather invents, a chronology for the first twenty years of his preaching. It is on such material that still later works in Singhalese and Burmese are based; and now that their sources are accessible, they are chiefly interesting as examples of hagiographical industry. The same is true of the Tibetan work composed in 1734, which has been summarised in German by Schiefner as Eine tibetische Lebensbeschreibung Cakja Muni's, and Klaproth's Vie de Bouddha d'apres les livres mongols. Several other works in Siamese and Cambodian do not need special mention.16

These documents do not in themselves form a basis for a historical account. It is impossible to determine from them any credible chronology, and the Buddhists themselves failed to do so. The various calculations for the date of Buddha's death in Pali and Sanskrit works vary by centuries.

The Chronicles and Puranas. -- The basis for a chronology is found in the two Pali chronicles and the Hindu Puranas, to which may be added the data drawn from Jain works. The Puranas are a number of compositions containing theological, cosmological, and legendary matter in the style of the epic poems. They are the nearest approach to historical works that we find in ancient India, though their aim was not the mere recording of events, but the glorification of the royal patrons at whose courts they were recited. With this purpose they give the genealogies of various ruling families of Northern India, and in these we have a genuine tradition; but the genealogies are fitted on to the general cosmological theories, and are carried back through earlier ages to Manu, the first man of this cycle, the son of Vivasvant or the Sun. Other pedigrees are traced back to Atri, whose son was Soma or the Moon. From the' solar or lunar dynasty various royal lines traced their ancestry, and it was probably due to puranic influence that the ancestry of Buddha was evolved into a solar dynasty, and that Buddha thus received his epithet of adiccabandhu, 'kinsman of the sun.'

The Pali Chronicles in their form as literary works are undoubtedly later than the genealogical portion of the Puranas, and correspond to them in two important features, first in the mythological genealogy down to Buddha's family, which is made a branch of the royal house of the Kosalas, and secondly in the historical traditions of the kings of the Magadhas. The Chronicles have been treated as if the question were that of their historicity as against the testimony of the Puranas, but the real question is whether there is a historical basis for a tradition that in both cases has been preserved by the very imperfect means of oral transmission. The actual historical deductions need not be discussed at this point, as we are concerned only with the question of the possibility of placing the life of Buddha within a definite period of Indian history. What is certain is that the Pali Chronicles of Ceylon do not" stand on their own tottering feet", but that their records of Indian history are traditions that originated in India, and must be judged in conjunction with the rest. They are corroborated in their main outlines by the puranic and Jain traditions; and as they were not composed as royal panegyrics, there is less likelihood of the perversion of facts than in the Puranas.

The chronological relations with general history have been determined by the discovery of Sir William Jones that the Candagutta (Candragupta) of the Chronicles and Puranas is the Sandrocottos of Strabo and Justin, the Indian king who about 303 B.C.17 made a treaty with Seleucus Nicator, and at whose court Megasthenes resided for some years as ambassador. The Chronicles are the Dipavamsa, 'the Island Chronicle,' and the Mahavamsa, 'the Great Chronicle.' The former belongs to the fourth century A.D., and was composed in Pali on the basis of old Singhalese commentaries. The Mahavamsa is a rehandling of the same material with additional matter referring to Singhalese history, and belongs to the fifth century. Both works begin with Buddha's enlightenment and the early events of his preaching, followed by the legend of his miraculous visits to Ceylon, and a list of the dynasties of the kings of this cycle down to Buddha. Then follows the history of the three Councils and the kings of the Magadhas down to Asoka, and the mission of his son Mahinda to Ceylon. The rest consists of the history of Ceylon down to king Mahasena (352 A.D.). The Mahavamsa continued to receive additions recording the history of Ceylon down to a much later period.

The relation of the Pali sources to the Sanskrit has recently been stated by M. Masson Oursel in an interesting note in his Esquisse d'une histoire de la philosophie indienne.

During the second half of the nineteenth century the problem of the Buddhist sources was debated between partisans of the authenticity of the Pali Canon and partisans of the authenticity of the Sanskrit. The first, whose protagonist was Oldenberg, allowed the relative integrity of the Pali Canon preserved in Ceylon. The Sanskrit works, relatively poor, composed chiefly of the Lalitavistara and the Mahavastu, appeared to them fragmentary, derived, and mixed with adventitious elements. The others, who like Burnouf draw from materials brought from Nepal by Hodgson, rely on Northern documents. Noticing the multiplicity of sects attested by the most ancient witnesses they refuse to hold the Pali Canon as solely primitive, although so complete. Minayeff is their chief authority. The twentieth century has renewed the question by minute criticism of texts and widened the discussion. The Sanskrit Canon has been immensely increased by the discovery in Tibetan and Chinese of documents translated from Sanskrit originals now lost, but which put the philologists in possession of methods more and more certain. Further, the Chinese collection has preserved for us not a single Canon, but fragments of several, as well as five Vinayas. Finally, the discoveries in Central Asia make it certain that there existed a plurality of Canons as much developed as the Pali. Hence there is nothing to justify the ancient prejudice that one of these Canons, e.g. the Pali, should be more ancient than the others. Strong presumptions allow us to infer the existence of one or more versions, from which have come both Pali and Sanskrit texts and others as well, without doubt in more ancient dialects.


This passage illustrates the confusion of thought which has existed even in the mere statement of the problem. No scholar maintains that the Pali Canon is" solely primitive", and the discovery of forms of the Canon in Chine se has only helped to lay bare the Sanskrit works as " fragmentary, derived, and mixed with adventitious elements". But the real question in dispute was that of the relative value of the legendary or quasi-historical matter. On this point Senart in writing his Essai sur la legende du Buddha said, "le Lalita Vistara demeure la source principale des recits qui font l'objet des presentes recherches, mais non pas la source unique." That was an intelligible position in 1878, when the Pali Canon was practically unknown, but since then no supporter of the Sanskrit tradition has brought forward anything from the Chinese or from the documents of Central Asia to support the Lalita-vistara as a rival of the Pali. This work is still, as Rhys Davids said, " of about the same value as some mediaeval poem would be of the real facts of the Gospel history."18

On the other hand there is a fact that has not always been. recognised. We have nothing, even in the Pali, at all like "the real facts of the Gospel history" to put in the place of the Sanskrit legend. We have merely other forms of the same legend, some earlier and some later. If it were merely a question of asking what is the net value of the history to be gathered from the Lalita-vistara, we could deal with it very summarily, but it is a legend which has grown, and which we can trace at different stages. More properly speaking it is the growth of a number of legends, which existed separately before they were united in the form of a continuous life in the Lalita-vistara and other lives of Buddha. From this point of view there is no rivalry between schools. Every particle of evidence presents itself either as testimony to the growth of the Buddhist tradition or as material for its historical foundation.

______________

Notes:

3 Strom. I, xv, 71.

4 Al Biruni, Chronol. of ancient Nations, tr. Sachau, p. 190.

5 Hegemonius, Acta Archelai, LXIII, ed. Beeson, Leipzig, 1906. The work is not held to be historical, but Hegemonius used older documents. The reading Buddam varies, but is shown to be correct by the quotations in Epiphanius and the historian Socrates.

6 Adv. Jovin, I 42.

7 Bk. III, ch. 15 (Yule, ii p. 138; Ramusio, III, ch. 23).

8 An Historical Relation of Ceylon, 1681; repr. Glasgow, 1911.

9 Description du Royaume de Siam, Paris, 1691; tr. as A New Historical Relation of the Kingdom of Siam, London, 1693, p. 163 ff.

10 Sidharubam, Rome, 1790, p. 57. The extraordinary difficulties which some of the greatest scholars of this time and later found in getting at the actual records can be seen from Remusat's Melanges posthumes, Paris, 1843.

11 Buddha and Buddhism in JRAS. XVI (1856), p. 248.

12 Buddhism, preface.

13 Learning by memory is sometimes supposed to be a more faithful method of recording than writing. but it is open to greater dangers of corruption. In the case of the Vedas. where there was no doctrinal motive for change, and where extra· ordinary means were taken to preserve a pure text, there are remarkable differences in hymns found in the recensions of the various schools. We find the same feature in passages preserved both in Pali and Sanskrit works. Another fruitful source of corruption due to memorising is the difficulty of determining the source or author. ship of particular documents. The Buddhists themselves, when the ascription of some of the canonical works to Buddha himself has appeared too incongruous. have attributed them to one or other of the more famous disciples.

14 A quite separate problem, which does not concern us at this point, is to determine how far we have Buddha's utterances in the Discourses after discarding the legends; see Ch. XVI.

15 A work with the same title exists in Tibetan.

16 A. Leclere, Lu livres sacres du Cambodge, Paris, 1906.

17 The latest discussion of the chronology is in Hultzsch, Inscr. of Asoka, p. XXXV.

18 Hibbert Lectures, 1881. p. 197.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 31758
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, by Edward J Th

Postby admin » Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:27 am

CHAPTER 1: THE ANCESTRY OF BUDDHA

THERE is no continuous life of Buddha19 in the Scriptures. The isolated events found therein have in some cases been woven by the commentators, along with additional incidents, into a longer narrative. The Jataka commentator, in order to introduce the tales of Buddha's previous births, gives an account of his life down to the time when he is supposed to have begun to illustrate his preaching by these tales. The commentator of the Buddhavamsa is able to specify the various places where Buddha kept Retreat during the rainy season for the first twenty years of his ministry. The Sanskrit works also show a similar development. First there are the separate legends of the commentaries (preserved in the Tibetan) and those of the Mahavastu; and these in the Lalita-vistara and similar works have been elaborated into a regular biography.

It is impossible to draw a strict line between the legends in the Canon and those in the commentaries. Some of the latter are undoubtedly later inventions, but all of them belong to a period far removed from the stage which might be considered to be the record, or to be based on the record, of an eyewitness. Everything, even in the Scriptures, has passed through several stages of transmission, and whatever the period of the actual discourses, the legends by which they are accompanied are in no case contemporary. Some of the scriptural legends, such as the descent from heaven, and the miracles of the birth and death, are just those which show most clearly the growth of apocryphal additions, as well as the development of a dogmatic system of belief about the person and functions of Buddha. Another development is that which makes Buddha the son of a king, and the descendant of a line of ancestors going back to the first king of the present cycle. This cannot be ignored, as it occurs in both the Pali and Sanskrit Scriptures.

The only firm ground from which we can start is not history, but the fact that a legend in a definite form existed in the first and second centuries after Buddha's death. Evidently if this is to be judged from the point of view of its historical value, it must be taken as a whole, the most incredible and fantastic as well as the most seemingly veracious portions. We may reject unpalatable parts, but cannot ignore them without suppressing valuable evidence as to the character of our witnesses.

One element which is usually found unpalatable to modern thought is the miraculous; and one way of dealing with it has been simply to suppress the miraculous features.20 The presence of miracle does not of itself invalidate a legend. The story that a certain arahat attended an assembly may be true, even if we are told that he passed through the air on his way thither. To the chronicler this feature was miraculous, but at the same time quite normal for an arahat. When however we are told that Buddha paid three visits to Ceylon, we get no nearer to historical fact by suppressing the circumstance that he went through the air. The presence of miracle has in fact little to do with the question whether some historical basis underlies a legend. Normal circumstances are quite as likely to be invented as miracles. A much more important means of testing a legend is to compare the different forms in which it appears. It may have been elaborated, or an elaborate legend may have been rationalised. Additional incidents may be inserted in awkward places, or quite contradictory accounts of the same circumstance may be recorded.

It is often possible to make a clear-cut distinction in the strata of tradition in cases where a legend occurs in the Scriptures differing in character and circumstances from one or more versions of it in the commentaries, and where in the latter. contradictory details are found. All such details can be swept away as accretions, and the difference between the strata is found so frequently that we can indicate an earlier stage of tradition when the elaborate stories did not exist. It is not an argument from silence to infer from the canonical accounts of the Enlightenment that when they were compiled nothing was known of the words supposed to have been uttered by Buddha on that occasion. If one version of these words had been preserved, it might represent an old tradition outside the scriptural account. But we find at least six conflicting versions, two of them in the Pali. All of them are more or less intelligent guesses, made by searching tee Scriptures to find out which among Buddha's utterances must have been the first, not an old tradition concerning what those words actually were.21

Another important distinction lies in the fantastic character of the legends of Buddha's life before his enlightenment as compared with those afterwards, when he was residing in a district where the legends began to be collected. It is not till Buddha has left his home and comes to the Magadha country that we find the slightest reference to any historical or geographical fact independent of his personal life. The period of his youth in a distant country, before he won fame and honour as a teacher, would be largely, if not wholly, a blank, and would be all the more easily and eagerly filled up by the imaginations of his disciples.

But if the legends of this period are to be judged, and some estimate of their character as historical evidence is to be made, they must be considered in the form in which they have come down to us, and not after judicious expurgation. They throw light on the character of the canonical accounts, and also illustrate the Buddhist theories of cosmogony and other dogmatic beliefs. It is in fact necessary to start with the beginning of the world, for to this point is traced back the ancestry of Buddha.

In Brahminical thought, as far back as the Vedic period, there is no creation of the world in the Jewish sense. It is periodically evolving and dissolving into its elements, and its originator and preserver as it starts on a new cycle (kalpa) of development is the god Prajapati, or Brahma, with whom he comes to be identified, and as he is known to the Buddhists. This theory of recurring cycles was also Buddhistic, but the view that Brahma was the originator of a new cycle is directly ridiculed in the Buddhist Scriptures. That Brahma. exists the Buddhist did not deny. Brahma in a discourse attributed to Buddha is even made to declare that he is "the subduer, the unsubdued, the beholder of all, the subjecter, god,22 who makes, who forms, the chief appointer, the controller, the father of those that have been and shall be". But this is merely an illusion of Brahma. Really, says the Buddhist, he is as much bound in the 'chain of existence as any other being. He is the first to wake at the beginning of a new cycle, and thinks he is the first of beings. He wishes to have other beings, and when they appear in their turn, thinks he has produced them.23 This is part of the argument directed against those who undertake to explain the origin of the universe and of the soul. Whether they are eternal or not is a question not to be asked by one intent on the goal taught by Buddha.

This teaching, even if it does not go back to Buddha himself is a doctrine found in the Pali Canon. But in the same documents we also find an account of the genesis of the universe. The Patika-sutta24 is a legend, in which a foolish student is dissatisfied because Buddha will not work a miracle or declare the beginning of things. After his departure Buddha declares that he does know, and explains how the universe evolves at a new cycle, expressly rejecting the view that it is the work of a god or Brahma. This is repeated in the Agganna-sutta, and continues with an account of the further development of the first beings. These were at first purely spiritual, but gradually became more and more materialised, until passions and evil practices arose. Thereupon the people assembled, and chose the fairest and ablest, that he might be wroth, reprove, and banish. He became Mahasammata, the first king, and originator of the kshatriya caste. The other three original castes were differentiated subsequently. In this version of the origin of the castes we have another direct contradiction of Hindu theory,25 but a direct imitation of popular Hindu methods, as we find them in puranic literature. Two of the express purposes of a Purana are to explain the origin of the universe and to give the genealogies of royal families.

In the commentaries and the chronicles the descent of the kings is continued down to Buddha, and the whole legend is also found in the Mahavastu and the Tibetan Vinaya.26 The genealogy is that of the Kosala kings, and some of the names are identical with the Kosala genealogies of the Puranas, such as the famous Dasaratha and Rama, and Ikshvaku. There can be no doubt that the Buddhists, not content with simply putting aside unprofitable questions, evolved a theory of the origin of the world in direct opposition to their brahminical rivals. The rivalry appears also in other details, as when the brahmin 'teacher' of the Vedas (ajjhayaka, Skt. adhyapaka) is explained in an uncomplimentary way, and is given the meaning' he who does not meditate' (a-jjhayaka); and although the Sakyas belong to' the race of the Sun, this is said to mean, not that they trace their descent from this primitive ancestor, as in the Puranas, but that two of their predecessors were born from eggs, which were formed from coagulated blood and semen of their father Gautama, and hatched by the sun.27 From one of the eggs came the famous Ikshvaku, who in the Puranas is the immediate son of Manu, son of the Sun. But the Buddhists place between Ikshviku and their primeval king Mahasammata an enormous genealogy, and make Ikshviku merely the ancestor of the later Kosalas and of the Sakya branch of the solar race. The name however in Pali is Okkaka, and it cannot by any device be treated as a form of the name Ikshvaku. But the Buddhist Sanskrit accounts give this puranic name, where the Pali has Okkaka. The Pali is evidently more primitive, as the name of one of Okkaka's sons is Okkamukha (torch-face), a derivative of Okkaka. The form Ikshvaku adopted in the Sanskrit looks like a deliberate accommodation to the name in the puranic story.

In the legend of Ambattha in the Digha the origin of the Sakyas themselves is given. Ambattha, an accomplished young student28 under the brahmin teacher Pokkharasadi, complains to Buddha of the rudeness of the Sakyas to him in their assembly. Buddha tells him of their origin and pure descent from king Okkika, and of Ambattha's own descent from the same king and a slave girl:

But, Ambattha, if you remember your name and clan on your mother's and father's side, the Sakyas are nobly born, and you are the son of a slave-girl of the Sakyas. Now the Sakyas hold king Okkaka to be their ancestor. Long ago king Okkaka, whose queen was dear and pleasing to him, wished to transfer the kingdom to her son, and banished the elder princes [by another wife] Okkamukha, Karakanda, Hatthinika, and Sinipura29 from the kingdom. After their banishment they lived on the slopes of the Himalayas by the banks of a lotus-pool, where there was a great saka-grove. They being apprehensive of their difference30 of caste consorted with their sisters. King Okkaka inquired of the ministers in his retinue where the princes now dwelt. "There is, O king, on the slopes of the Himalayas, by the banks of a lotus-pool, a great saka-grove. Here they now dwell. Being apprehensive of their difference of caste they consort with their sisters." So king Okkaka uttered this fervent utterance: " Able (sakya) truly are the princes. Supremely able truly are the princes."31 Henceforth they were known as Sakyas, and Okkaka was the ancestor of the Sakya race.


This is only part of the complete legend, which is given in full in the Mahavastu, in the Tibetan Vinaya, and in several places in the Pali commentaries. The following is from Buddhaghosa's commentary on the above passage:

This is the story in order.32 Among the kings of the first age, it is said, king Mahasammata had a son named Roja. The son of Roja was Vararoja, of Vararoja Kalyana, of Kalyapa Varakalyana, of Varakalyalyana Mandhata, of Mandhata Varamandhata, of Varamandhata Uposatha, of Uposatha Cara, of Cara Upacara, of Upacara Makhadeva. In the succession of Makhadeva33 there were 84,000 kshatriyas. After these were the three lineages of Okkaka. Of these Okkaka of the third lineage had five queens, Bhatta, Citta, Jantu, Jalini, and Visakha. Each of the five had five hundred female attendants. The eldest had four sons, Okkamukha, Karakanda, Hatthinika, and Sinipura, and five daughters, Piya, Suppiya, Ananda, Vijita, and Vijitasena. After giving birth to nine children she died. Now the king married another young and beautiful king's daughter, and made her his chief queen. She gave birth to a son named Jantu. On the fifth day she adorned him and showed him to the king. The king was delighted, and offered her a boon. She took counsel with her relatives and besought the kingdom for her son. The king reviled her and said, "Perish, base woman, you want to destroy my sons." But she coaxed the king again and again in private, and begged, saying, "O king, falsehood is not fitting," and so on. So the king addressed his sons, "My sons, on seeing the youngest of you, prince Jantu, I gave his mother a boon. She wishes to transfer the kingdom to her son. Do you, taking whatever elephants, horses, and chariots you want, except the state elephant, horse, and chariot, go away, and after my decease come back and rule the kingdom." So he sent them away with eight ministers.

They made lamentations and wept, "Father, pardon our fault," and saying farewell to the king and the royal women they took leave of the king, saying, "We are going with our brothers," and set off with their sisters from the city attended with a fourfold army. Many people thinking that the princes after their father's decease would return and rule the kingdom, decided to go and attend on them, and followed them. On the first day the army marched one league, on the second day two leagues, and on the third three. The brothers took counsel, and said, "This force is great. If we were to crush some neighbouring king and take his land, it would not suffice for us. Why should we oppress others? Jambudipa is great, let us build a city in the forest." So going towards the Himalayas they sought a place for a city.

At that time our Bodhisatta had been born in a noble brahmin's family. He was known as the brahmin Kapila, and leaving the world he became a sage, and having built a hut of leaves dwelt on the slopes of the Himalayas on the banks of a lotus pool in a saka-grove. Now he knew the science of earthquakes, by which he could perceive defects for eighty cubits above in the air and below in the earth. When lions and tigers and such animals pursued the deer and boars,34 and cats went after the frogs and mice, they were not able to follow them on .arriving at that place, but were even menaced by them and turned back. Knowing that this was the best place on the earth he built his hut of leaves there.

On seeing the princes in their search for a place for a city coming to his district, he inquired about the matter, and finding out he showed them compassion, and said, "A city built on the place of this leaf-hut will become the chief city of Jambudipa. Here a single man among those born there will be able to overcome a hundred or even a thousand men. Build the city here, and make the king's palace on the place of the leafhut; for by putting it on this site even the son of a Candala would surpass a universal king in power." "Does not the site belong to you, reverend sir?" "Do not think of it being my site. Make a leafhut for me on a slope, and build a city and call it Kapilavatthu." They did so, and resided there.

Then the ministers thought, " these youths are grown up. If they were with their father, he would make marriage alliances, but now it is our task." So they took counsel with the princes, who said, "we find no daughters of kshatriyas who are like ourselves (in birth), nor kshatriya princes like our sisters, and through union with those of unlike birth the sons who are born will be impure either on the mother's or the father's side. Let us then consort with our sisters." Through apprehension of difference of caste they set the eldest sister in place of mother, and consorted with the rest. As they increased with sons and daughters, their eldest sister became later afflicted with leprosy, and her limbs were like the kovilara flower. The princes thinking that this disease would come upon anyone who should sit, stand, or eat with her, took her one day in a chariot as though going to sport in the park, and entering the forest dug a lotus pool with a house in the earth. There they placed her, and providing her with different kinds of food covered it with mud and came away. At that time the king of Benares named Rama had leprosy, and being loathed by his ladies and dancing-girls in his agitation gave the kingdom to his eldest Bon, entered the forest, and there living on woodland leaves and fruits soon became healthy and of a golden colour. As he wandered here and there he saw a great hollow tree, and clearing a place within it to the size of sixteen cubits he fitted a door and window, fastened ,a ladder to it, and lived there. With a fire in a charcoal vessel he used to lie at night listening to the sounds of animals and birds. Noticing that in such and such a place a lion made a noise, in such a place a tiger, he would go there when it became light, and taking the remains of meat cook and eat it.

One day as he was seated after lighting a fire at dawn, a tiger came attracted by the scent of the king's daughter, and stirring the mud about the place made a hole in the covering. On seeing the tiger through the hole she was terrified and uttered a cry. He heard the sound, noticed that it was a woman's voice, and went early to the place. "Who is there?" he said. "A woman, sir." "Of what caste are you?" "I am the daughter of king Okkaka, sir." "Come out." "I cannot, sir." "Why?" " I have a skin disease."

After asking about the whole matter, and finding she would not come out owing to her kshatriya pride, he made known to her that he was a kshatriya, gave her a ladder, and drew her out. He took her to his dwelling, showed her the medicinal food that he had himself eaten, and in no long time made her healthy and of a golden colour, and consorted with her. The first time she gave birth to two sons, and again to two, and so on for sixteen times. Thus there were thirty-two brothers. They gradually grew up, and their father taught them all the arts.

Now one day a certain inhabitant of the city of King Rama, who was seeking for jewels on the mountain, saw the king and recognized him. "I know your majesty," he said. Then the king asked him all the news. Just at that moment the boys came. On seeing them he asked who they were, and being told that they were Rama's sons he inquired about their mother's family. "Now I have a story to tell," he thought, and went to the city and informed the king. The king decided to bring back his father, went there with a fourfold army, and saluting him asked him to accept the kingdom. "Enough, my son," he replied, " remove this tree for me here and build a city."

He did so, and owing to removing the kola-tree for the city and through doing it on the tiger-path (vyagghapatha), he caused the origin of the two names of the city, Kolanagara35 and Vyagghapajja, and saluting his father went to his own city. When the princes had grown up, their mother said to them, "children, the Bakyas who dwell in Kapilavatthu are your maternal uncles. Your uncles' daughters have the same style of hair and dress as you. When they come to the bathing-place, go there, and let each take the one that pleases him. They went there, and when the girls had bathed and were drying their hair, they each took one and making known their names came away. The Sakya rajas on hearing of it thought, "let it be, to be sure they are our kinsfolk," and kept silence. This is the origin of the Sakyas and Koliyas, and thus the family of the Sakyas and Koliyas making intermarriages caine down unbroken to the time of Buddha.


We learn from the Mahavastu that Ikshvaku was king of the Kosalas, and this is what we should expect. The city from which the princes were banished was Saketa, i.e. Ayodhya. This is rather a late feature, as Savatthi was the earlier capital, and is regularly referred to as such in the Suttas. By the term 'late' we may mean anything within a thousand years of Buddha's death; and within this period we cannot deny the possibility of additions to the Pali as well as to other forms of the Canon. However early we may put the date of a canonical collection, we can certainly deny that such legends formed an original part of it. To the commentator, to whom the legend was evidently true, it was quite natural to assume that the omniscient Buddha knew it, and hence told it.

The descent of kings from the first Sakyas is continued in the Mahavastu, the Tibetan, and the Pali Chronicles; but the differences between each are so great that its interest is chiefly to show that there is no agreement upon one version of the genealogy. The lists in the Chronicles are the most evidently artificial, as several kings who appear in the Jatakas, and who are hence previous incarnations of Buddha, have been inserted.

But there is a special interest in the question of the origin of the legend of the Sakyas. It was pointed out by Fausboll36 that the story has correspondences with the Ramayana story, and one version of this story is found in the Jatakas. This is the Dasaratha-jataka (No. 461). King Dasaratha of Benares has three children, Rama, Lakkhana, and a daughter Sita. The queen dies, and his next queen obtains for her son Bharata the boon that he shall succeed to the kingdom. The king fearing her jealousy banishes Lakkhana and Rama, and Sita chooses to accompany them. They go to the Himalaya for twelve years, as. the soothsayers tell the king that he has so long to live. But at the end of nine years he dies of grief, and Bharata goes to fetch his brothers back. Rama refuses to return until the end of the prescribed twelve years, and for the remaining three years his sandals rule the kingdom, after which he returns as king, and makes Sita his queen.

This shows certain differences in details from the Ramayana epic. The exiles go to the Himalaya (a common feature in the Jatakas), not to the Deccan. There is no rape of Sita, who is here not the daughter of the king of Videha, but the sister of Rama, and the king in the epic dies soon after Rama's departure. But the names of all the persons mentioned are identical, and the general course of events is the same as those of the Ayodhya-kanda down to and including the installing of the sandals in Rama's absence. Benares replaces Saketa or Ayodhya, and this may be due to the mechanical way in which the king of Benares in the Jatakas is introduced again and again. The form in which we have the Dasaratha-jataka belongs to the fifth century A.D., and is a retranslation into Pali from a Singhalese version. There is no doubt that the epic is older than this, but there is no need to suppose direct derivation in either direction. The legend itself probably existed before the epic, and would still continue to exist in a popular form, independent of the additions or inventions introduced by Valmiki. The verses of the Jataka, unlike those of some of the tales, do not appear to be very old. One is in the Ramayana itself, and five are in the Sammaparibbajaniya-sutta of the Sutta-nipata (578, 576, 583, 585, 591), and they have every appearance of being drawn from the sutta, and not vice versa. The special moral of the Jataka, on the duty of not grieving for the dead, is also a feature of the Ramayana (II, ch. 105).

The importance to us of the Rama story is its resemblance to the Sakya legend. The chief motive is the same: elder sons are banished owing to the jealousy of a favourite wife, who obtains the kingdom for her own son. That the resemblance was also recognised by the Pali commentators is shown by the fact that some of the phraseology in each tale is identical. There is further the unusual feature that as the four banished brothers marry their sisters, so in the Jataka Rama marries his sister Sita. One story has been modelled on the other, and we cannot doubt that the Rama story is the model. The other alternative would be to suppose both the Dasaratha-jataka and the Ramayana to be based on the Sakya legend. It was a favourite theory of Benfey that Buddhism was a great source for Indian legends, but the whole evidence of the Jataka is against it.37 Nonbuddhistic and even antibuddhistic tales have been swept into the collection, and adapted or used without any Buddhistic colouring for the teaching of ethical commonplaces.

Both the Buddhist account of the origin of things and the genealogy and legends of the Sakyas show the influence of Hindu, especially puranic, tradition. The contradictions between the various versions as well as the borrowing of names and pedigrees exclude any probability that we have a basis of history in the Sakya genealogy. The basis is the historical fact of the existence of the Sakyas and Koliyas, on which an imaginative structure of legend has been built. This legend, if not in all its details, has been incorporated in what is usually considered to be the most ancient evidence. It is in fact the most ancient, except in so far as we can succeed in separating strata of evidence in the Canon itself. A preliminary separation can be made, as has been pointed out,38 without any reliance on subjective criteria, by excluding the numerous passages attributed by the texts themselves to authors other than Buddha, and also by separating the legendary parts, which are often recorded as commentary without being treated as Buddha's utterance. A subjective element is introduced as soon as we seek to construct a probable history out of the legends, and it has usually been done in a quite arbitrary manner. The foregoing legends are ignored, and the history begins with the contemporaries of Buddha, the Sakyas and his immediate relatives among them. Further, one form alone of the legend of Buddha's family is taken, or as much of it as appears plausible, and the others are quietly dismissed. It is this portion of the legend which has now to be examined.

NOTE ON THE GEOGRAPHY OF EARLY BUDDHISM

The home of Buddhism lies in what is now South Behar, west of Bengal and south of the Ganges. This was the country of the Magadhas with the capital at Rajagaha (Rajgir). East of these were the Angas, whose chief city was Campa. North of the Magadhas and on the other side of the Ganges were tribes of Vajjis (chief town Vesali), and still farther north the Mallas. West of the Magadhas were the Kasis, whose chief city was Benares on the Ganges. The kingdom of the Kosalas (capital Savatthi or Sravasti) extended north of the Kasis as far as the Himalayas, and on the northern borders were settled the Sakyas and their neighbours on the east the Koliyas. All these are tribal names, and it is misleading to use the terms Anga, Magadha, etc., as if they were names of countries. In the sixth century B.C. the Magadhas and Kosalas had developed out of tribal organisations into two rival kingdoms, the Kasis being absorbed by the Kosalas, and the Angas by the Magadhas. These are all the peoples that have any claim to be connected with the scenes of events in Buddha's life. Our earliest evidence is in the Digha and Majjhima, in which the introductory or legendary passages of the discourses state where Buddha was staying when the discourses were given. The places mentioned cannot be taken as actual evidence contemporary with Buddha. They form rather part of the stock tradition of the two schools of repeaters. But that the tradition is very old is indicated by what is omitted. There is in these collections no indication of places where Buddha actually stayed beyond the countries of the Kasis, Kosalas, Angas, Magadhas, Kurus, Vajjis and Mallas. Even Benares, which occurs over and over again in the commentaries, is rarely mentioned in the Canon.

In several places of the Scriptures a regular list of places is mentioned, and we can see from the variations and the widening geographical range, how it has been gradually extended. Even the shortest form of the list probably represents a later period of greater geographical knowledge than is shown in the stock list of names of localities where discourses were given. It occurs in the Janavasabha-sutta,39 a legend in which Buddha tells the fate of disciples who have died in various countries, and in addition to those mentioned above are given the Cetis and YaIp.sas (Yatsas) west of Prayaga (Allahabad), the Kuru- Pancalas, north-west of the Kosalas, and still further west the Macchas and Surasenas. This list of twelve is further extended in the Anguttara 40 by the addition of four more, the Assakas of South India, the Avantis north of the Vindhyas, and in the extreme north the Gandharas and Kambojas. These are the so-called sixteen powers, and this list of sixteen has been supposed to be very old, perhaps even pre-Buddhistic; but it is much more likely to be due to gradual accretion, especially as the last four names, which are quite absent from the oldest collections, are mentioned frequently in the commentaries and later documents. In the still later Niddesa the list is found with further variations. The Sagaras and the Kalingas of southeastern India are introduced, and the Yonas (Greeks or Persians) are substituted for the Gandharas. The Siamese edition of the Niddesa reduces the number to eleven. In any case only the first six names concern us, as the others never occur as the scenes of any events, and are indeed far distant from the region of the earliest Buddhism. Bengal (Vanga) is nowhere mentioned in the four Nikayas, nor is Ceylon.41

There is no real knowledge of any part of the Deccan. The Assakas of the list of sixteen are said to have been settled on the Godavari, and a single reference to this river is found in the introductory verses to the Parayana section of the Suttanipata (977). The Parayana is indeed old, but it is introduced by a legend expressly called vatthugatha, "verses of the story." There is no reason for thinking that this legend in its present form is of the same age as the Parayana. It is in quite a different style, and like the prose introductions of other discourses of the Suttanipata it explains the occasion of the poems that follow, but most of it is in verse. It is probable that an earlier prose version preceded the verse, as the story still has two endings, the first in prose, and the second in verse, which gives the same matter and uses some of the same phraseology as the prose. It is evident that even though the legend may be old, the same cannot be said of the details that may have been introduced when it was recast. The legend describes a journey which is a circuitous route from the Godavari past Ujjeni, and includes most of the places famous in Buddhist legend, Kosambi, Saketa, Savatthi, Setavya, Kapilavatthu, Kusinara, Pava, Bhoganagara, Vesali, and the city of the Magadhas (Rajagaha). The course of the journey may well represent an actual route established when these places had become the objects of pilgrimage.

There is also a list of cities, which belongs to the same stratum of legend as the list of countries. In the account of Buddha's death Ananda is made to say that the Lord ought not to pass away in a small town like Kusinara: there are great cities like Campa, Rajagaha, Savatthi, Saketa, Kosambi, and Benares.42 Campa of the Angas was near the modern Bhagalpur. Rajagaha is also called Giribbaja. This was the hill-town of old Rajagaha, surrounded by five hills. The new town is said to have been built by Bimbisara. The capital of the Magadhas was afterwards Pataliputta.43 Buddha before his passing away is recorded to have prophesied that the town which Ajatasattu was then building on the Ganges at Pataligama to ward off the Vajjis, would become a chief city Pataliputta. The tradition of the rise of the city implied in the prophecy is evidently all the more trustworthy as history, if it is taken to represent not a prophecy, but the actual knowledge of the compiler at a time when the city was in fact the capital.

Savatthi was the capital of the Kosalas, and its site is discussed below. In the Ramayana the capital is Ayodhya (Pali Ayojjha, modern Oudh or Ajodhya, near Faizabad), and in later works it is identified with Saketa. There can be little doubt that Saketa is the Ayodhya of the Sanskrit books. The difference of name may be due to saketa being the name of the district, in the same way as Benares gets the name Kasi; or Ayodhya, which means 'the unconquerable', may have been a new name given by some victorious king. The probability is that with the extension of the Kosala power to the south Saketa or Ayodhya took the place of Savatthi as the capital. The Ramayana tradition would thus represent a later stage historically than the Buddhistic. Ayojjha is mentioned twice in the Canon (Samy. iii 140, iv 179), and in both places is said to be on the Ganges. But as it was certainly not on this river, this can only be an unintelligent tradition, especially as in one of these passages Kosambi is read for Ayojjha in one MS. Kosambi was the capital of the Vamsas or Vatsas, and was identified by Cunningham with the two villages of Kosam on the Jumna, some ninety miles west of Allahabad. Evidently no weight can be attached to the Samyutta passage which puts it on the Ganges. V. A. Smith held that it was further south, in one of the states of Baghelkhand.44

Vesali (Vaisali), is generally agreed to be the ruins at Basar in the Muzaffarpur District of North Behar.45 Takkasila, known to the Greeks as Taxila, was the capital of the Gandharas. It is frequently mentioned in the commentaries, especially as a place of education. This was no doubt the fact at the time when Buddhism had spread to the North West. But it is never mentioned in the Suttas, and there is no reason to think that it was known in earlier times.

______________

Notes:

19 Buddha, 'the enlightened,' is properly his title only after his enlightenment. Before then he is a Bodhisatta (Skt. Bodhisattva), 'a being of (or destined for) enlightenment: As Buddha he is represented &8being mentioned or addressed by disciples as Bhagava (Bhagavat), 'Lord,' a term common to various Hindu sects as the title of their founder or their special deity. The graceful phrase' the Blessed One', sometimes used to represent this word, is in no way a translation. Tathigata is the title used when he speaks of himself. Etymologically it means 'he who has gone (or come) thus', but the exact sense is disputed. Sakyamuni, 'the sage of the Sakyas: is a common title found in Sanskrit works. Nonbuddhists are made to refer to him by his clan-name Gotama., or as mahasamana, 'the great ascetic: His personal name, Siddhattha or Sarvarthasiddha, is discussed below.

20 E.g. Canon Liddon's life of Buddha in Essays and Addresses, London, 1892, carefully ignores every miraculous feature, though he draws it from one of the latest and most fantastic versions of the story. Cf. also the article Buddha in EB.

21 See Ch. VI.

22 God or Lord, issara (Skt. isvara). It is this word and the question of a god in this sense, as ruler and controller of the universe, that forms the bone of contention between the theistic and atheistic schools of Indian philosophy; cf. Dasgupta, Yoga as philosophy and religion, p. 164.

23 Brahmajala-sutta. Digha, i 18 ff.

24 Digha, iii 1 ff.

25 On the Vedic theory of 'creation' by Prajapati see Rig-veda X 121, and on the origin of the four castes X 90; translated in Vedic Hymns by E. J. Thomas, 1923. That the brahmin theory of caste is deliberately rejected is shown by the Madhura-sutta, where the orthodox view that the brahmin was born from the mouth of Brahma is referred to. Majjh. ii 84; transl. in JRAS. 1894, p. 341 ff.

26 Mvastu, i 338 ff.; Rockhill, ch. i; the genealogies are given in Dpvm. iii, Mhvm. a The story of the origin of things and portions of the genealogies are in the Digha put into the mouth of Buddha. There is no reason to ascribe this to pious fraud. The legends arose and were preserved by memory as anonymous productions. As the doctrine was held that Buddha was omniscient, he must on the Buddhist view have known all these things, and in fact only he could have known them truly. Hence in the codifications of the Scriptures it was quite natural that these records should have been attributed to him.

27 Rockhill, p. 11.

28 Called a young Brahman, Dial., i 109, but he was not of the pure brahmin caste. His name is hill caste name, and the Ambatthas (Ambashthas). as the story shows, were a mixed caste. According to the Law-book of Manu, x 13, they were due, not, as here, to a kshatriya and a slave (presumably sudra), but to a brahmin father and a vaisya mother. The origin of caste is a pre-buddhistic question, and so is the theory that there were four original castes, from which the others are held to have been derived by intermixture. That the modem caste rules and the castes themselves, with .their constant tendency to subdivision, are now very different from those of the Buddhist books or even of the Mahabharata and Manu, requires no proving. But the strictness of caste rules is shown from the legend itself, as the brahmins and kshatriyas could expel a member by shaving his head and pouring ashes on it, refusing him a seat and water and a share in sacrifices and burial rites. Digha, i 98. It needs to be noticed that the views in the Buddhist books concerning caste are the views held at the time of the compilers. What were the actual social rules prevailing in the lifetime of Buddha and in his own tribe is much more problematical.

29 Several of these names are corrupt. The Mahtivastu, i 348, makes six of them, which the editor reduces to five, but four are required by the legend, as will be lean below.

30 Mvastu, i 351, probably more correctly, reads jatisamdosabhayena, 'through fear of corrupting their caste.'

31 There is a pun here, as sakya also means 'belonging to the saka-tree '. This derivation, as Dr. Hoey has shown, may be correct. They would be 'the people of the sal-forest tracts '. The saka is the sal-tree, Shorea robusta, not the teak, Tectona grandis, which is not indigenous in the Nepal Terai forests. JRAS., 1906, p. 453.

32 This is the phrase regularly used by the commentator when he is repeating an earlier account.

33 This king with more of the genealogy occurs in Majjh. ii 74.

34 Reading sukare with the Colombo edition, not sukara.

35 In the Mahavastu version the exiled king's name is given as Kola, and from this the name of the Koliyas is explained. Mvastu, i 353.

36 Indische Studien. v 412 ff. (1862). Fausboll there gives the story of the Sakyas from the commentary on Sn. II 13, now published in the PTS. edition, vol. ii 356 ff.

37 See Jataka Tales, Introd. p. 2 ff.

38 See Introduction and Appendix, p. 250.
 
39 Digha, ii 200 ff.

40 The list of sixteen has been stated to occur several times, but it is merely the same passage repeated (Ang. i 213; iv 252, 256, 260). The sixteen countries are referred to in Lal. 24 (22), where only eight places are named, and Mvastu, i 198; ii 2, where no names are given.

41 Hence the absurdity of calling the doctrine found in Pali writings "southern Buddhism".

42 Digha, ii 146, 169.

43 Known to the Greeks as Palibothra, the modern Patna.

44 JRAS. 1898, 503 ff.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 31758
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, by Edward J Th

Postby admin » Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:29 am

CHAPTER II: THE HOME AND FAMILY OF BUDDHA

THE country of the Sakyas or Sakiyas (Skt. Sakyas) is known only from Buddhist writings. Modern investigation. has placed it in the north-eastern portion of the United Provinces, and along the borders of Nepal between Bahraich and Gorakhpur.46 The earliest information about it is in the introductory passages of the Discourses, which frequently mention the capital Kapilavatthu (Skt. Kapilavastu), various villages or townships of the Sakyas, and Savatthi (Skt. Sravasti), the capital of the Kosalas. From these we learn very little about their geographical position, though we may infer that the names, like those of such well-known places as Rajagaha, Vesali, and Benares, are real. They are just those elements in the tradition that are least likely to have been invented. Our actual knowledge of the places is derived from three sources, the traditions preserved in the commentaries and in compilations based on them, the accounts of the Chinese pilgrims who visited the sacred places, Fa Hien (399-414 A.D.), Hiuen Tsiang (629-645 A.D.), and modern archeological discoveries.

The name of the city from which the Sakya princes were exiled, when they founded Kapilavatthu, is not named in the Pali legend. In the Mahavastu it is called Saketa (Ayodhya), the city of the Kasi-Kosala king. The princes are said to have gone north, and to have founded Kapilavatthu on the slopes of the Himalayas. Saketa appears to be the only place that will fit both forms of the legend, and this suggests that the story as we possess it is not older than the time when Saketa replaced Savatthi as the Kosala capital.47 The city from which the princes started could not be the Savatthi of the Chinese pilgrims, as they place it north-west of Kapilavatthu. In the legend the city is six leagues (yojanas) south of Kapilavatthu, and if we take Childers' reckoning of twelve miles to a yojana, Saketa fits exactly.48 For the pilgrims a yojana appears to have been about seven miles.

Cunningham identified Savatthi with Saheth Maheth, a collection of ruins on the west border of the Gonda district in Oudh on the south of the river Rapti, 58miles from Fyzabad.49 In 1875 A. C. L. Carlleyle, from excavations that he made at Bhuila in the Basti district, held that his own identification of this place with Kapilavatthu was" pretty nearly certain, if not absolutely conclusive". 50 But further discoveries led to an approximate identification of Kapilavatthu at a place east north east of Saheth Maheth, while according to the Chinese pilgrims it was to the south east. The result was that V. A. Smith put Savatthi further north west. He claimed to have discovered it on the Rapti within the borders of Nepal, a few miles north east of Naipalganj Road station.51 But this was only traces of ruins, which according to his calculations agreed more closely with the accounts of the Chinese pilgrims. Even so he had, like Cunningham, to "correct" the distances and figures in the accounts, until he harmonised them by deciding that the Kapilavatthu shown to Fa Hien was a different place from that seen by Hiuen Tsiang. But the discovery of further inscriptions at Saheth Maheth has made it most probable that this place was the site of Savatthi, at least in historical times.52 The difficulty still remains that it is west south west of Kapilavatthu, while the pilgrims put it north west.

More definite results have followed from the discoveries in the region of Kapilavatthu. In March 1895 an inscription on a pillar in the Magadhi language was discovered on the bank of a. large tank called Nigali Sagar, near the village of Nigliva in Nepal, 38 miles north west of Uska Bazar station in the Basti district. It states that King Piyadasi (Skt. Priyadarsin, Asoka's title in inscriptions), after he had been consecrated king fourteen years, increased the stupa of Buddha Konakamana to the double, and having been consecrated [twenty] years came himself and worshipped.53 As this stupa is mentioned by Fa Hien, who puts Kapilavatthu a yojana (some seven miles) east of the stupa, it was at first thought that the site of the city had been determined. )3ut the pillar was not in its original position, and there was no trace of the stupa.54 The next year (1896) a pillar, also within the borders of Nepal and thirteen miles south west of Nigliva, was discovered near the village of Padaria,55 and was found to bear an inscription thus translated by Dr. Hultzsch:56

When king Devanampriya Priyadarsin had been anointed twenty years, he came himself and worshipped (this spot), because the Buddha Sakyamuni was born here. He both caused to be made a stone bearing a horse (?); and caused a stone pillar to be set up (in order to show) that the Blessed one was born here. (He) made the village of Lummini free of taxes, and paying (only) an eighth part (of the produce).


The name of the place in both Pali and Sanskrit accounts is Lumbini.57 A Hindu temple close by now contains a representation in stone of the birth of Buddha from the side of queen Maya.

This fixes the traditional site of Buddha's birthplace, and implies that Kapilavatthu itself must be some miles to the west. But the accounts of the pilgrims are so divergent that no general agreement has been reached in identifying all the sites. V. A. Smith says, "although nearly all the holy places shown to Fa Hien were also shown to Hiuen Tsiang, who notes several others in addition, yet the descriptions vary so materially that it is difficult to believe that the two writers are describing the same places."58 Accordingly Smith came to the conclusion that the Kapilavatthu shown to Fa Hien was at Piprava, nine miles south west of Padaria, and that Tilaura Kot, fourteen miles north west, is the Kapilavatthu seen by Hiuen Tsiang. The view that they saw different places is not at all improbable. The inhabitants of the district would certainly be ready to point out places to sightseers, and there may well have been rival identifications of the legendary sites.

It is clear that the pilgrims came with a knowledge of the legends and of all the miracles, and for them it was only a question of identifying the localities. They appear to have seen all they wished to see, including the places where the youthful Bodhisatta threw the elephant over the city moat, and where be shot an arrow thirty Ii (ten miles). The Kapilavatthu pointed out to Fa Hien was a place where" no king nor people are to be found; it is just like a wilderness, except for priests and some tens of families". Hiuen Tsiang three centuries later found it deserted, and the villages few and waste. Some forty miles further east the pilgrims found in the country of the Mallas the city of Ramagama, and still further on Kusinara, where Buddha passed away. Both places are now unknown.
 
Still another discovery of the highest interest for the later history of Buddha was made two years later, when Mr. W. C. Peppe in 1898 opened at Pipravastupa containing five vessels, one of which bears an inscription in letters like those of the Asokan inscriptions. The contents have been held to be relics of Buddha.59

Throughout the commentaries and Sanskrit works the legend prevails that Buddha was the son of a king, the descendant of a long line of famous ancestors, and that he would have become a universal king, had he not renounced the world. It is only in occasional phraseology, inherited from earlier traditions or due to an actual knowledge of the Sakya tribe, that we find traces of a different state of things. The period of great kingdoms, such as the Kosalas and Magadhas, was probably a recent development, and the title of raja need not have implied more than the head of a tribe. We know of tribes, such as the Vajjis, where the organisation was aristocratic, each of the nobles being a raja. There are traces of aristocratic rule in the legends of the Sakyas. We find the assembly of the Sakyas mentioned and the rajas spoken of in the plural, and there are legends which imply that their city was of little account. In the account of Buddha's death Ananda mentions six great cities where it would be more fitting for Buddha to pass away, but Kapilavatthu is not one of them; and amongst those who receive a share of the relics are king Ajatasattu and the Sakyas of Kapilavatthu, but no king of the Sakyas is mentioned. The Sakyas are treated like the local tribes round them, the Koliyas, Mallas, different groups of Licchavis and others, who were overrun by the empire of the Magadhas. Equally significantly, in a dialogue of king Pasenadi with Buddha, the king describes both himself and Buddha as Kosalas.60

Oldenberg refers to the poem in the Sutta-nipata on the visit of Asita to the infant Buddha as a proof that his father was not a king. Asita is there said to approach the dwelling (bhavana) of Suddhodana. But the purely negative fact that it is not called a palace can scarcely be used as an argument, when it is remembered that the poem is in an elaborate metre, and that the word in question is frequently used of the dwelling of the gods. More important is the poem on the meeting of the Bodhisatta with Bimbisara, soon after the Great Renunciation. When the Bodhisatta arrives as a wandering ascetic at Rajagaha, king Bimbisara goes to see him, offers him wealth, and asks about his birth. The Bodhisatta replies, "there is, O king, a country on the slope of the Himalayas, rich in wealth and heroes, who dwell among the Kosalas. They are descendants of the sun (adicca) by clan, Sakyas by birth. From that family I have gone out, O king, having no longing for sensual desires".61 Similarly in the Sonadanda-sutta, in a long list of praises of Buddha it is said that "the ascetic Gotama has gone forth from a high family, from an unbroken kshatriya family. He has gone forth from a family, rich, of great wealth, of great possessions".62 But these instances are. only traces of a state of things never realised by the chroniclers themselves. All has been overlaid by the legend of a kingly family, which might have attained universal empire. The Suttanipata itself contains the theory of the marks of a Great Man, according to which Buddha would become a universal monarch, unless he should leave the world and become king of the. Dhamma. The brahmin Sela addresses him:

To be a king beseemeth thee,
A lord, a universal king,
A victor of the four-wayed earth,
Lord of the wide Rose-apple land.

The kshatriyas and the lesser kings
Are joined in fealty to thee;
As king of kings and lord of men
Rule thy kingdom, O Gotama.
 

Buddha replies:

A king am I indeed, O Sela,
King of the Dhamma, incomparable.
Through the Dhamma I turn the wheel,
The wheel whose course may not be stayed.


The Sakya tribe belonged to the Gotama clan (gotta, Skt. gotra). A gotra, lit. 'cow-stall', is a clan whose members claim to be all descended from one ancestor -- in this case the ancient brahmin rishi Gotama; and his descendants are known as Gotamas or in Sanskrit by the derived name Gautamas.63 In the same way the descendants of the rishi Vasishtha are Vasishthas (Pali, Vasetthas). This raises a difficulty. Why should a family of the kshatriya or warrior caste, proud of its birth, claim to belong to a brahmin gotra? Oldenberg in the first edition of his Buddha mentioned Burnouf's conjecture as a possible though unsatisfactory explanation, namely, that in the pravara ceremony at the beginning of the Vedic sacrifice the rishi ancestors of the sacrificer are enumerated by the hotar priest in a formula addressed to Agni, but when the sacrificer is not a brahmin, the ancestors of the family priest are enumerated.64 There is not enough evidence to prove whether the fact of this custom was actually the reason for the Sakyas being Gotamas. We do not know how far brahminical customs were established in this region in the sixth century B.C. From the commentators we learn nothing, and it is not likely that they could have explained the social practices in force several centuries earlier. But there are other facts in harmony with the supposition that some such custom may be the explanation. We find the neighbouring tribes of Mallas, who also claimed to be kshatriyas, addressed as Vasetthas after another Vedic rishi Vasishtha, while the first three of the six previous Buddhas are said to be kshatriyas of the Kondanna gotra,65 and Buddha himself is addressed as Angirasa, i.e. descendant of Angiras, who with Gotama is one of the three ancestors of the Gotama clan that are enumerated in the pravara ceremony.66 The later Buddhists appear to have lost all knowledge of the Vedic rishi, for the Tibetan legend explains the name Gautama by making one of Buddha's own ancestors Gautama.67 It would be simple enough if we could thus explain the Gotama of the Sakyas as merely another person of thr same name, but it would not explain Buddha's epithet Angirasa, nor the Vedic name of the Mallas. We may take it as a fact without claiming to be certain of the explanation, that some of these warrior tribes did lay claim to brahmin gotras.

Non-Aryan customs may have survived among these peoples. The names of Sakya villages have largely a most un-Aryan appearance, and in the legends there are incidents that could scarcely have been invented in a completely brahminised community. One· of these is the story of the Sakya princes marrying their sisters. It recurs in the legend of the quarrel between the Sakyas and Koliyas in Buddha's time, when the Koliyas make it a ground of reproach against the Sakyas. Both Buddha and his father marry wives of the prohibited degree within the same gotra.

We have no reason to assume that the peoples of north-east India were Aryan in the sense that the Vedic Indians were Aryan. The- basic population appears to be that of the Kols or Mundas. The language of the Mundas is quite distinct from that of the Dravidians, and is akin to that of the communities now settled on the borders of Assam.68 Brahminism has spread by peaceful penetration, for in spite of its caste exclusiveness the absorption of new tribes has gone on through the centuries. Those who accept the religious rites have become admitted by the fiction of additional castes.69 But beneath all this spread of culture the old beliefs and customs of another civilisation have remained alive.

The story of Buddha's birth and youth is a continuation of the legend of the royal line of the Sakyas, but there is even less of this story to be found in the Canon than there is of the early genealogy of the royal house; and the portions that appear in the Canon are exactly those that are agreed to form no original part of it. Their significance and value will appear when they are analysed at length. Kern has been blamed for combining the legends of different schools into one narrative. This is evidently an unsound method, whether we wish to test the value of the divergent accounts, or merely to reproduce them as they appeared to the various schools of adherents. The result is something that no school would recognise. On the other hand to reproduce the version of merely one branch is to disguise contradictions, and that not completely. In a comparison of the works of different schools we have the clearest proof that the legends have grown, that new names have been added, and implicit or shortly recorded events have been enlarged and interpreted in various ways. No one accepts anyone of the versions as historical, but it is impossible to ignore these developments unless we are to be content with the largely subjective selection of events made by western scholars to produce a plausible or credible narrative.

The legend of the Sakyas which has been given above concludes as follows:

Thus the succession of the Sakyas and Koliyas, making intermarriages with one another, came down to king Sihahanu. Now Sihahanu had five sons, Suddhodana, Amitodana, Dhotodana, Sukkodana, and Sukkhodana.70 Of these Suddhodana ruled the kingdom, and of his wife Mahamaya the Great Being was conceived, after he had fulfilled the Perfections as told in the Nidana of the Jataka.


The Ceylon Chronicles, which draw from the commentaries, add Jayasena, Sihahanu's father, Sihahanu's sister Yasodhara, besides five sons and two daughters Amita and Pamita. The Tibetan gives only four sons, omitting Sukkhodana or Sakkodana, and also Pamita, but adding three other daughters, Suddha, Sukla, and Drona, names evidently modelled on those of the brothers. The Mahavastu also gives these four sons and one daughter Amita. The Pali and the Lalita-vistara know only Maya or Mahamaya and Mahapajapati, as wives of Suddhodana, and according to the PaIi they are the daughters of Anjana, son of Devadaha the Sakya.71 Mahapajapati in the Lalita-vistara also appears as Mahaprajavati, a form that suggests its real meaning, 'rich in offspring '.72 The accounts diverge greatly in the other sources. In the Tibetan their names are Maya and Mahamaya, that is, one name is duplicated, and in the Lalita-vistara as well as in the Tibetan their father's name is Suprabuddha the Sakya. In the Mahavastu Maya has developed into four. According to this curious story her father's name was Subhuti the Sakya of Devadaha, whose wife was a Koliya lady. He had seven daughters, Maya, Mahamaya, Atimaya, Anantamaya, Culiya, Kolivasa, and Mahaprajapati. Suddhodana ordered his ministers to find a suitable wife for him, and they reported that the fairest of all was Maya. He asked for her in marriage, and was told that she would be given to him when her six elder sisters were married. Thereupon Suddhodana asked for all seven and received them. He placed Maya and Mahaprajapati in his seraglio, and gave the five others to his five brothers. There is a contradiction, but in the Mahavastu no surprising one, that just previously Suddhodana is said to have had only three brothers. The Tibetan gives a quite different story, according to which Suprabuddha offered both his daughters to king Sirphahanu for his son prince Suddhodana. He took the younger, Mahamaya, but had to refuse Maya (i.e. according to the other legends Mahapajapati), owing to the Sakya law allowing a man only one wife. Afterwards, when Suddhodana had won a victory, he was allowed two wives and married Maya.

Image
The Genealogies according to the Chronicles

______________

Notes:

45 Cunningham, Arch. S. Report8, i 55; JRAS. 1902, 267.

46 V. A. Smith in P. C. Mukherji, A Report on a Tour of exploration of the antiquities of the Tarai, p. 18. "I am disposed to think that the Sakya country was the Terai extending eastward from the point where the Rapti leaves the hills to the little Gandak, that is to say, between the kingdoms of Sravasti and Ramagrama (E. long. 81° 53' to 83° 49'). The southern boundary cannot at present be defined."

47 The Tibetan, representing a still later invention, says that the city was Potala (in the Indus delta); Rockhill, p. 11. R. S. Hardy (Man. Budh. p. 135) says Benares. This is probably a pure mistake, as Benares in the legend was the city of Rama or Kola, the ancestor of the Koliyas.

48 In Angutt. com. i 384, 406, Savatthi is seven yojanas from Saketa and forty-five from Rajagaha.

49 Four Reports made during the years 1862-65. Arch. Survey, i, p. 330 ff. Anc. Geog. of India, i, p. 407.

50 Report of Tours in the Central Doab and Gorakhpur in 1874-75 and 1875-76. Arch. Survey, xii, p. 108.

51 Kausambi and Sravasti, JRAS. 1898 p. 503; of. S. Konow, Ind. Ant. 1908, p. 180.

52 See Sir J. Marshall, Notes on archaeological exploration in India, 1908-9, JRAS. 1909, p. 1061.

53 Inscriptions of Asoka, ed. Hultzsch, p. 165; cf. Ep. Ind. v I, p. 6.

54 Dr. Fuhrer, who found the pillar, claimed to have also discovered the great stupa itself close by, and gave an elaborate description of it. But unfortunately for himself he next discovered the still more important Padaria pillar, and the further investigation of this led to the revelation of the fictions in his account. It is only necessary to quote V. A. Smith's statement that "every word is false ", and that the inscriptions produced by Fuhrer were "impudent forgeries". Smith came to the conclusion that the pillar had been moved about eight or thirteen miles from its original position either at Sisania or Palta Devi. Mukherji, Report, p. 4. Fuhrer's own account was in Monograph on Buddha Sakyamuni's birth-place in the Nepalese Tarai. Allahabad, 1897. It has been withdrawn from circulation.

55 According to Fuhrer "this deserted site is still locally called Rummindei." Monograph, p. 28. This statement was generally accepted before Dr. Fuhrer's imaginativeness was discovered, and is still incautiously repeated. Yet he admitted that it was not the name used by the present Nepalese officials. "It is a curious fact (he says) that the true meaning of this ancient Buddhistic name has long been forgotten, as the present Nepalese officials believe the word to signify the sthan of Rupa-devi." V. A. Smith said, "the name Rummindei, of which a variant form Rupadei (8ic) is known to the hill-men, is that of the shrine near the top of the mound of ruins." Ind. Ant. 1905, p. 1. This gives no further evidence for Fuhrer's assertion, and it appears that neither the Nepalese officials nor the hill-men called it Rummindei.

56 Inscriptions of Asoka, p. 164; cf. Buhler, JRAS. 1897, pp. 429, 615. The pillar was seen by Hiuen Tsiang, who speaks of the figure of a horse on the top, which by the contrivance of a wicked dragon was broken off in the middle and fell to the ground. The horse has disappeared, and the pillar has been split, apparently by lightning, down to the middle.

57 Jat. i 52; Lal. 94 (82); the name in the adjectival form Lumbineyye occurs once in the Suttas. but only in the legend of Asita attached to the Nalakasutta, see p. 38.

58 In Mukherji, Report, p. 15; cf. his article Kapilavastu in ERE. The theory of two Kapilavatthus is rejected by Dr. Racy and Major W. Vost, JRAS. 1006, pp. 453, 553.

59 The inscription is discussed in Ch. XI, p. 160. There is a curious list of kings, descendants of Ikshvaku, in the Puranas, in which occur in succession Sanjaya, Sakya, Suddhodana, Rahula (or Ratula, or Siddhartha, or Pushkala), and Prasenajit. Sanjaya occurs also in the Buddhist genealogy. Sakya has here been converted from a tribal to a personal name. Buddha himself as Siddhartha. is made king in succession to his father Suddhodana, but is also confused with his own son Rahula, and is succeeded by Prasenajit, the Pasenadi of Pali works, who was the Kosala king contemporary with Buddha. The list appears to be a confused survival of the Buddhist tradition. Vishnu-p. iv 22, 3; Vayu-p. xxxvii 283-4; Matsya-p. cclxxi 12. It is in the still later Bhagavata-purana that Buddha is made the ninth incarnation of Vishnu.

60 Majjhima, ii 124.

61 Sn. 422-3; the same poem with variants in Mvastu, ii, 198-9; the account in Rockhill, p. 27, appears to be a translation of the same poem.

62 Digha, i 115.

63 On gotras see Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 380, and the notes of Jolly in his translation of Vishnu-smrti, p. 106, and Narada-smrti. p. 166. SBE. vii, xxxiii.

64 Aitareya Brahmana, VII 25; cf. the notes in the translations of Haug and Keith.

65 Jotipala in the Sarabhanga-jataka (522) is a Kondanna, but he is a brahmin and son of the family priest. So was the Kondanna was one of Buddha's first disciples, as he was one of the brahmins who prophesied at the name-giving.

66 Asvalayana, Srauta-sutra, 12, 11, 1.

67 Rockhill, p. 10, above p. 5.

68 Baines, Ethnography (Castes and Tribes), § 3. Strassburg, 1912.

69 Baines, ibid., § 4.

70 The names mean respectively, having pure rice, having unmeasured rice, having washed rice, having white rice, having fine rice. In the Mahavastu Amitodana appears as Amritodana, having immortal rice. Sn. com. i 356; Mvs. i 355; Rockhill, p. 13. They are not proper Sanskrit forms but Prakrit.

71 His township Devadaha is Sakyan in all the accounts, and is not, as is some· times said, identical with the Koliya Vyagghapajja or Koliyanagara. It is mentioned three times as a place where a sutta was given. The commentary interprets deva as 'king', and says that the name is from a pool of the Sakyarajas used for festive occasions, called Devadaha because 'placed by the kings '. (Majjh. ii 214.) In Pali it would naturally mean 'pool of the god,' but it is not certain that the name is Pali. In the Maharastu it appears as Devadaha.

72 It has no connexion, though the comparison has been made, with the Vedic god Prajapati, 'Lord of beings.' Windisch says that it is no personal name, but indicates her function, her place in the family. This may once have been its sense, as it occurs with the meaning wife, but in the legend it is merely a proper name. Maya has also troubled the mythologists, and the attempt has been made to connect her with the Maya-doctrine of Vedanta. But the sense of Maya as cosmic illusion does not exist either in Pali or Sanskrit in the works that record her name. Maya is magic power, deception. The idea of the magic power of beauty is often expressed in a woman's name, such as Ummadanti, 'the intoxicating,' Pabhavati, 'the prepossessing,' Manohara, 'captivating the mind.'
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 31758
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, by Edward J Th

Postby admin » Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:31 am

CHAPTER III: THE BIRTH OF BUDDHA

THE date of the birth of Gotama Buddha is usually placed about the year 563 B.C.73 In two places of the Scriptures he is said. to be the son of Suddhodana and queen Maya. The first of these passages in the Mahapadana-sutta is really a legend, which gives not only the length of life, city, caste, parents, and chief disciples, but also in exactly the same phraseology the same details concerning the six previous Buddhas, the first of whom, Vipassin, lived ninety-one cycles before Gotama. The other is in the Buddhavamsa, a poem not reckoned as canonical by all schools, which uses much the same phraseology, and extends the information to twenty-four preceding Buddhas.74 This indicates a growth in the legend, as the series of the last six Buddhas (Vipassin or Vipascit, Sikhin, Vessabhu or Visvabhu, Kakucchanda or Krakucchanda, Konagamana or Kanakamuni, and Kassapa or Kasyapa) is common to other schools.

Extension of the legend went on in other schools also, but in different ways. The Lalita-vistara has a list of fifty-four Buddhas, and the Mahavastu more than a hundred, but both of them include Dipankara, the Buddha under whom Gotama made his resolution to win enlightenment. Even the earliest form of the legend in the Pali tells of the birth, renunciation, enlightenment, and first preaching of Vipassin in almost the same words as are used of Gotama. All the forms of the legend of Buddha's birth assmne that he was the son of a king. It is generally agreed that this is unhistorical, and it has been usual to deduct the evidently incredible portions and leave the rest as history. It is true that we find passages which speak merely of Buddha belonging to a high kshatriya family, and of pure descent on both sides for seven generations back, but these passages show no knowledge of the names and incidents connected with his birth. It is only in the legend of his kingly descent that we find any mention of his parent's names, and the question remains for consideration whether we are justified in selecting from this legend the portions that appear credible, or whether the whole legend is not the invention of a period that added the names not only of Buddha's uncles and cousins, but also of his wife and parents.75

Portions of this legend exist in the Canon. As a continuous account it appears first in the Jataka commentary and Lalita-vistara. Gotama, having in a previous birth made the resolution under Dipankara to become a Buddha, was reborn after many births in the Tusita heaven,76 where he stayed until the due time for his rebirth in his last existence. When the gods announce that a new Buddha is to arise, the Bodhisatta makes five investigations, and considers first the time. In the early period of a cycle, when the years of men are more than 100,000, they do not recognise what old age and death is, and hence it is not the time to preach to them. Nor is it when the age is too short, as the exhortation has no time to take effect, but it is when the age of men is about a hundred years. As the age was then a hundred, he saw that it was the time to be born. Next he considers the continent, and chooses Jambudipa (Rose-apple Island), that is, India, according to the ancient geographical conception; which makes it one of the four great islands of the world with mount Meru in the middle. Thirdly he considers the country. This is Majjhimadesa, 'the Middle District,' for that is where Buddhas, great disciples, and universal monarchs are born, and therein is Kapilavatthu.77 Fourthly he considers the family, which is brahmin or kshatriya, not of any lower caste; and as the kshatriya, the warrior caste, was then in honour, he chose that, and said, " king Suddhodana shall be my father." Then considering the qualities of a mother he chose queen Mahamaya, Maya the great, and saw that her life would last ten (lunar) months and seven days. In the Lalita-vistara the parents are omitted from the investigations, but the Bodhisatta describes the sixty-four qualities required for the family, and thirty-two for the mother, and from the description the gods identify the parents. He then took leave of the gods and descended to earth, and according to the Lalita-vistara appointed the Bodhisatta Maitreya, who is to be the next Buddha, as viceroy in heaven in his place.

The story that follows of the conception and birth has two features that make an analysis of its different forms worth while. We possess the account in the Canon itself as well as in later works, and thus have an example of the historical aspect of the oldest evidence. Secondly, the whole story has been brought into comparison with the miraculous birth in the Gospels, and it forms one of the elements in the question of the historical relations between Buddhism and Christianity. The canonical account is given in the Discourse of the Wondrous and Marvellous Events.78 in which the favourite disciple Ananda recites to Buddha the events of the conception and birth. Ananda is also made to state that he heard them from the Lord. This is not an inspired statement, but natural for a commentator to make, for to him it was obviously true. Ananda was held to have learnt and recited all the discourses, and the truth concerning the marvellous events could only have come from Buddha.

Face to face, reverend one, have I heard from the Lord, face to face have I received: "born mindful and conscious, Ananda, the Bodhisatta was born in a Tusita body." And, reverend one, that the Bodhisatta, mindful and conscious, was born in a Tusita body, this I remember as a wondrous and marvellous thing of the Lord.79

Mindful and conscious the Bodhisatta stayed in the Tusita body.

Throughout his full span of life the Bodhisatta stayed in the Tusita body.

Mindful and conscious the Bodhisatta descending from the Tusita body entered the womb of his mother.

When the Bodhisatta descending from the Tusita body entered the womb of his mother, then in the world with its gods, Maras, and Brahmas, among the creatures with ascetics, brahmins, gods, and men, appears80 a boundless great splendour surpassing the divine majesty of the gods. And in the spaces between the worlds, gloomy, open, dark, of darkness and obscurity, where too this moon and sun so mighty and majestic are unable to shine, even there a boundless great splendour appears surpassing the divine majesty of the gods. And the beings that have been reborn there perceive one another by that splendour, and think, "surely, sirs, there are other beings that have been reborn here." And this universe of ten thousand worlds shakes and trembles and quakes, and a boundless great splendour appears in the world surpassing the divine majesty of the gods.

When the Bodhisatta has entered his mother, four gods approach her to protect the four quarters (saying), "let nought human or superhuman or anything else hurt the Bodhisatta or the Bodhisatta's mother."

When the Bodhisatta has entered his mother, the Bodhisatta's mother has the regular moral qualities of abstaining from taking life, from theft, from wrongful indulgence in sensual desires, from falsehood, and from occasions of carelessness in the use of intoxicants.

When the Bodhisatta has entered his mother, there arises in the Bodhisatta's mother no thought of men connected with the senses, and the Bodhisatta's mother is not to be overcome by any man of passionate heart.

When the Bodhisatta has entered his mother, the Bodhisatta's mother. is in possession of the five senses, and is surrounded and endowed with the five senses.

When the Bodhisatta has entered his mother, no sickness arises in the Bodhisatta's mother, she is happy with unwearied body. And the Bodhisatta's mother sees within her body the Bodhisatta with all his limbs and complete sense-organs. Like a beryl jewel, pure, noble, eight-sided, excellently worked, and threaded with a blue, yellow, red, white, or yellowish thread: a man who could see might take it in his hand, and looking at it say, "this beryl jewel, pure, noble, eight-sided, excellently worked, is threaded with blue, yellow, red, white, or yellowish thread." Even so the Bodhisatta ...

When the Bodhisatta has been born seven days, the Bodhisatta's mother dies. She is reborn in a Tusita body.

As other women give birth nine or ten (lunar) months after conception, not so does the Bodhisatta's mother give birth. The Bodhisatta's mother .gives birth to the Bodhisatta ten months after conception. As other women give birth sitting or lying down, not so does the Bodhisatta's mother give birth. The Bodhisatta's mother gives birth to the Bodhisatta standing.

When the Bodhisatta is born, first the gods take him, and then human beings.

When the Bodhisatta is born, he does not fall to the ground. Four gods take him and set him before his mother, saying, "rejoice, lady. A mighty son has been born to thee."

When the Bodhisatta is born, he is born clean, unstained with liquid, unstained with phlegm, unstained with blood, unstained with any filth, but pure and clean. Just as when a gem is placed on Benares cloth, the gem does not stain the cloth, nor the cloth the gem-and why? On account of the pureness of both -- even so when the Bodhisatta is born, he is born clean...

When the Bodhisatta is born, two streams of water fall from the sky, one of cold and one of hot water, wherewith they perform the washing for the Bodhisatta and his mother.

As soon as born the Bodhisatta firmly standing with even feet goes towards the north with seven long steps, a white parasol being held over him [by the gods]. He surveys all the quarters, and in a lordly voice says, " I am the chief in the world, I am the best in the world, I am the first in the world. This is my last birth. There is now no existence again."[/quote]

This is followed by the description of an earthquake in the same terms as it took place at his conception. These events occur in a continuous story in the Nidanakatha, and it is in this form that they arc the best known:

At that time in the city of Kapilavatthu the festival of the full moon day of the month Asalha (June-July) had been proclaimed, and many people celebrated it. Queen Maya. from the seventh day before full moon celebrated the festival without intoxicants and with abundance of garlands and perfumes. Rising early on the seventh day she bathed in scented water, and bestowed a great gift of 400,000 pieces as alms. Fully adorned she ate of choice food, took upon herself the uposatha vows, entered her adorned state bedchamber, lay down on the bed, and falling asleep dreamt this dream: the four great kings, it seemed, raised her together with the bed, and taking her to the Himalayas set her on the Manosila tableland of sixty leagues beneath a great sal-tree seven leagues high, and stood on one side. Then their queens came and took her to the Anotatta lake, bathed her to remove human stain, robed her in heavenly clothing, anointed her with perfumes, and bedecked her with divine flowers. Not far away is a silver mountain, and thereon a golden mansion. There they prepared a divine bed with its head to the east, and laid her upon it. Now the Bodhisatta became a white elephant. Not far from there is a golden mountain, and going there he descended from it, alighted on the silver mountain, approaching it from the direction of the north. In his trunk, which was like a silver rope, he held a white lotus, then trumpeting he entered the golden mansion, made a rightwise circle three times round his mother's bed, smote her right side, and appeared to enter her womb. Thus when the moon was in the lunar mansion Uttarasalha,81 he received a new existence. The next day the queen awoke and told her dream to the king. The king summoned sixty-four eminent brahmins, showed them honour, and satisfied them with excellent food and other presents. Then when they were satisfied with these pleasures, he caused the dream to be told, and asked what would happen. The brahmins said, "be not anxious, O king, the queen has conceived, a male not a female, and thou shalt have a son, and if he dwells in a house he will become a king, a universal monarch; if he leaves his house and goes forth from the world, he will become a Buddha, a remover in the world of the veil (of ignorance)."


Then follows the account of the earthquake, and a list of the thirty-two signs that appear at this time. The first of them is the boundless great light; and as though desirous to behold its glory the blind receive their sight, the deaf hear, the dumb speak, the cripples become straight-limbed, the lame walk, and the fire in all the hells is extinguished. The other events down to the birth follow much as in the Discourse, and then the narrative continues:

Queen Mahamaya bearing the Bodhisatta for ten months like oil in a bowl, when her time was come, desired to go to her relatives' house. and addressed king Suddhodana, "I wish, O king, to go to Devadaha, the city of my family." The king approved, and caused the road from Kapilavatthu to Devadaha to be made smooth and adorned with vessels filled with plantains, flags, and banners, and seating her in a golden palanquin borne by a thousand courtiers sent her with a great retinue. Between the two cities and belonging to the inhabitants of both is a pleasure grove of sal-trees named the Lumbini grove. At that time from the roots to the tips of the branches it was one mass of flowers, and from within the branches and flowers hosts of bees of the five colours and various flocks of birds sported, singing sweetly.

When the queen saw it, a desire to sport in the grove arose. The courtiers brought the queen and entered the grove. She went to the foot of a great sal-tree, and desired to seize a branch. The branch like the tip of a supple reed bent down and came within reach of her hand. Stretching out her hand she seized the branch. Thereupon she was shaken with the throes of birth. So the multitude set up a curtain for her and retired. Holding the branch and even while standing she was delivered. At that moment the four pure-minded Mahabrahmas came with a golden net, and therewith receiving the Bodhisatta set him before his mother, and said, "rejoice, O queen, a mighty son has been born to thee." And as other beings when born come forth stained with impure matter, not so the Bodhisatta. But the Bodhisatta like a preacher of the Doctrine descending from the seat of Doctrine, like a man descending stairs, stretched out his two hands and feet, and standing unsoiled and unstained by any impurity, shining like a jewel laid on Benares cloth, descended from his mother. Nevertheless to do honour to the Bodhisatta and his mother two streams of water descended from the sky, and performed the regular ceremony on the bodies of the Bodhisatta and his mother. Then from the hands of the Brahmas, who stood and received him in a golden net, the four Great Kings received him on a ceremonial robe of antelope skin soft to the touch, and from their hands human beings received him on a silken cushion, and when he was freed from the hands of human beings, he stood on the earth and looked at the eastern quarter. Gods and men then worshipped him with scented garlands, and said, " Great Being, there is here none like thee, much less superior anywhere." So having examined the four quarters, the intermediate quarters, the nadir and the zenith, ten quarters, and not seeing anyone like himself he said, "this is the northern quarter,"82 and took seven steps. While Mahabrahma held a white parasol over him, and Suyama a fan, and other divinities followed with the other symbols of royalty in their hands, he stopped at the seventh step, and raising his lordly voice, "I am the chief in the world," he roared his lion-roar.


On this day seven other beings also came into existence: the Tree of Enlightenment, the mother of Rahula (his future wife), the four vases of treasure, his elephant, his horse Kanthaka, his charioteer Channa, and Kaludayin the minister's son. They all appear again in the legend. The Bodhisatta was escorted back to Kapilavatthu the same day by the inhabitants of both cities. His mother died, as the mothers of all Bodhisattas do, seven days afterwards. The day of his conception was the fullmoon day of Uttarasalha. the second of the two lunar constellations from which the month Asalha or Asadha (June-July) takes its name. This corresponds with the traditional date of his birth on the full moon day of Visakha or Vaisakha (April-May).83 But in the Lalita-vistara this is given as the date of the conception. and there are many other differences in the Sanskrit account. It describes the descent of the Bodhisatta in the form of an elephant as an actual event, and immediately adds in verse an evidently older account of the same event, but described as a dream of queen Maya. On waking she goes with her women to a grove of asoka-trees and sends for the king, who is unable to enter, until the gods of the Pure Abode inform him of what has happened. She asks him to send for brahmins, and they interpret the dream. Then follows an elaborate description of the state of the Bodhisatta and his worship by innumerable gods and Bodhisattas during the ten months.

Maya makes no mention of her intention to go to Devadaha. but merely wishes to go and sport in the Lumbini grove.84 She expresses her wish to the king in verse, and speaks there of sal-trees, but in the following prose she seizes not a sal branch, but a plaksha at the moment of birth. Both Lalitavistara and Mahavastu say that the Bodhisatta came from her right side, and particularly add that her right side was uninjured.85 Finally the Bodhisatta is brought back to the city not on the same day, but on the seventh day after.

It is clear that neither form of these legends as it stands can be taken as a record of events. But why should the Nidana-katha be treated as at least in outline possible history, and the others ignored? Apparently because the Pali is held to be the older. This is pure illusion. It is not the question of the age of the Canon, but the quite different matter of the age of the commentary, and we have no reason to think the Pali to be older than the Lalila-vistara. The commentary is based on an older commentary in Singhalese, which goes back to older material that originated in India. But the Lalita-vistara also contains earlier matter, and it has not gone through such a process of retranslation, other than the sanskritising of a more popular dialect. The result is that the language of the Sanskrit often corresponds verbally with passages in the Pali Canon, and much more closely than does the Pali commentary, which has passed from a translation into Singhalese and back into Pali. The legendary, possibly traditional, matter in both the Pali and Sanskrit comes from earlier commentaries, and we have no reason to hold one to be more worthy of credit than the other.86

The doctrinal aspect of the incarnation of a Bodhisatta or potential Buddha involves some of the most, characteristic features of Hindu belief. The Vedic religion had developed on the philosophical side into the doctrine of the soul (atman) as an ultimate reality, either as the one universal soul, or as an infinity of souls involved in matter. Buddhism appears to know only this second form, as it appears in the Sankhya philosophy and Jainism, and this it denied by asserting that there was nothing behind the physical and mental elements that constitute the empirical individual. These elements are always changing, but they are never totally dispersed, until the power that holds them together and impels them to rebirth is extinguished. This power is thirst, craving, desire for existence (tanha, Skt. trsna).

At death the individual transmigrates, and passes into a new body and a new existence, which is more or less happy according to the amount of good or bad action (karma) that he has previously performed. Transmigration according to Buddhist theory may take place in various ways, but in the case of one who is reborn as a human being there are normally present the father, the mother of childbearing age, and the gandhabba, the disembodied individual to be reincarnated.87

The oldest accounts of Buddha's ancestry appear to presuppose nothing abnormal about his birth, and merely speak of his being well born both on his mother's and father's side for seven generations back.88 According to the later legend he is born not as other human beings, but in the same way as a universal king he descends from the Tusita heaven by his own choice, and with this his father is not concerned. This is not properly a virgin birth, but it may be called parthogenetic, that is, Suddhodana was not his progenitor. The Lalita-vistara says that at the time of the midsummer festival Maya approached the king to ask a boon, and said that she was taking upon herself the eightfold Uposatha vows. "O lord of men, make not of me an object of desire . . . Be there nought unmeritorious to thee, O king; for a long time grant me to undertake the vows of morality."89 This is also implied in the Nidanakatha, not only by the narrative itself but also by the queen undertaking the Uposatha vows for a definite period.

An attempt has been made to find the doctrine of the virgin birth in the Mahavastu (i 147) which Barth translated, "pas meme en pensee, elles (les meres des Bodhisattvas) n'ont aucun rapport charnel avec leur epoux."90 But the text really says, "even in thought no passion (raga) arises in them for any men, beginning with their husbands," and that the Mahavastu does not really differ from the doctrine of the other works is shown by its recording the request of the queen to Suddhodana (ii 5, i 201), "it is my wish, O delight of the Sakyas, to pass the night without thee."91

It is this story in which Mr. A. J. Edmunds proposes to find Indian influence on Christianity. He brings it into connexion with the words of St. Luke, i, 85: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee." It is unnecessary to expound him, as the whole force of the comparison lies in the alleged resemblance of the stories before us. Is there enough similarity between the stories to make us think that the Gospel account is a corrupt borrowing of the Indian one? A final consideration may be left until the other more striking parallels have been considered.

______________

Notes:

73 This depends on the date of death at the age of eighty, the traditional Singhalese date of which is 544 B.C. It is not an ancient tradition, but one made by calculating backwards and adding together the regnal years of the Magadha kings. The reason for modifying it is that Asoka is said in the Chronicles to have been consecrated 218 years after the Nirvana. and if we place the date of the accession of his grandfather Candragupta in 323 B.C., this gives the date 483 B.C. As the fundamental date which determines the others is the date of the treaty of Candragupta with Seleucus Nicator, and this is not quite certain, there are still a few years of uncertainty. There is also the fact that we cannot directly verify the number 218, but it is in harmony with what we know from the Puranas and Jain works of the sequence of the Magadha kings. The excess in the Singhalese computation may have arisen through fractions of years in the reigns of successive kings being reckoned as whole years. The calculations of other schools do not need discussion. A common one in China and Japan is 1067B.C. Fourteen other dates are given by Csoma from Tibetan sources. Gram. Tib. § 255.

74 This does not mean that there were only twenty-four preceding Buddhas, but that only these twenty-four prophesied of Gotama. There are still others mentioned in the poem.

75 See Ch. XV and XVI.

76 The universe from the lowest hell to the limit. of existence is divided into the world of desire (kama), the world of form, and the formless world. The Tusita heaven is the fourth of the six heavens of the world of desire.

77 The commentator here quotes the Vinaya commentary, but the places that define the Middle District are unidentifiable. It is evidently not the same as the classical Madhyadesa of Manu, ii 21.

78 Acchariyabbhutadhamma-sutta, Majjh. iii, US. The identical events are recounted of Vipassin Buddha in Mahapaddna-sutta, Digha, ii 12.

79 The introductory and concluding sentences of this paragraph are repeated in all the following paragraphs with the corresponding changes of wording.

80 Here the tense changes to the present, not the historic present, because the events are held to happen to all Bodhisattas.

81 The Indian lunar zodiac is divided into 27 or 28 constellations. The Buddhists preserved the whole 28, Niddesa, i 382. The list of them is given in Lal. 502-6; Divy. 639 ff.; Mahavyutpatti 165. Cf. Sun, Moon, and Stars (Buddhist) in ERE.

82 This can also mean, "this is the supreme quarter." There is here probably a play on words, as there certainly is in Lal. 96 (84), where he takes seven steps to each of the four quarters, the nadir, and the zenith, and at each utters a phrase which contains a pun on the name of the quarter. In the canonical account (above, p. 31), he is merely said to go towards the north.

83 This is also the traditional date of his enlightenment and his death. Although the year was probably at this time solar, the months were lunar. and intercalation was necessary. In 1922 the Feast of Wesak (Visakha) in Ceylon was at full moon on May 10.

84 In Mvastu, ii 18 her father Subhuti sends to the king with the message," let the queen come and give birth here."

85 Lal. 109 (96); Mvastu ii 20. St. Jerome seems to have had a knowledge of this incident; cf. Introduction.

86 On the name Lumbini see p. 19. Dr. Hackmann (Buddhism as a Religion. p. 2) says: "On the spot where the child was born, some hundreds of years later. King Asoka raised a memorial tablet with an inscription commemorating the event. and it was this tablet which was discovered in December, 1896; so that both the event and the spot where it took place are beyond all doubt." It is only necessary to note the extraordinary reasoning that infers the certainty of an event because a legend existed some hundreds of years later.

87 Majjh. i 266; Avadanasat. 13 f.

88 Digha, i 113.

89 Lal. 46 (42).

90 Journ. des Savants, aout, 1899, p. 468.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 31758
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, by Edward J Th

Postby admin » Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:37 am

CHAPTER IV: INFANCY AND YOUTH

ON the day of the Bodhisatta's birth a sage (isi, Skt. rishi) named Asita, 'the black,' dwelling in the Himalayas beholds the gods of the heaven of the Thirty-three sporting in the sky, and inquires of them the reason of their delight. They tell him that the Bodhisatta has been born in the world of men in a village of the Sakyas in the Lumbini country, and that he will turn the Wheel of the Doctrine in the park Isipatana (the deer-park at Benares). Asita goes to the dwelling of Suddhodana and asks to see the boy. The Sakyas show him the child, and he is filled with delight and receives much joy. He recognises in him the marks of a Great Man, and declares, "supreme is he, the highest of men." Then remembering his own passing away he weeps, and the Sakyas anxiously ask if there will be misfortune for the boy. Asita replies that he sees nothing hurtful to the boy: he will attain Enlightenment and preach the Doctrine, but Asita is pained because his own life is short, and he will not be able to hear the Doctrine preached. The sage returns and rouses his nephew Nalaka. When his nephew shall hear of the coming of a Buddha, he is to go and inquire, and practise the religious life with that Lord. Nalaka dwells with guarded senses in expectation of the Victor, and when the time has arrived goes to Buddha and asks him about the state of a monk (muni).

This is a summary of what is probably the oldest version of the story of Asita, the Buddhist Simeon, as given in the Nalaka-sutta of the Sutta-nipata. It forms a good example of what frequently passes as canonical matter. A number of the separate poems of this work contain prose introductions stating the circumstances in which they were given. No one maintains that they are as old as the poems, and they may quite well be centuries later. In the case of several poems of this work the introductions are in verse, and are clearly marked off from the poems themselves by being called vatthugatha, 'verses of the story,' as in the case of this sutta. The question of the date of the sutta is quite different from the question of the origin of the legend and of its becoming attached to this sutta. It is clearly late, as is shown by the reference to the thirty-two marks; and as it is in general agreement with the Sanskrit accounts, there is nothing to prove that it is as early as the pre-Christian era. The sutta itself has not the slightest reference to the legend, and is merely an instance of a discourse which has had a legendary account of the circumstances of its delivery attached to it.

In the Lalita-vistara there are two versions, prose and verse, and there is no trace of their being connected with the Nalaka-discourse. Their chief difference from the Pali is that the interview with the king is given in detail, while in the Pali, although Suddhodana's dwelling is mentioned, the conversation takes place only with the Sakyas. The prose is as follows:

Then king Suddhodana assembling all the Sakyas investigated whether the boy would become a king, a universal ruler, or whether he would renounce the world to wander as an ascetic. And at that time on the side of a peak of the Himalayas dwelt a great sage named Asita, having the five attainments, together with his nephew Naradatta. At the moment when the Bodhisatta was born he beheld many marvellous wonders: the gods over the space of the sky making the word "Buddha" resound, waving their garments, and coursing hither and thither in delight. He thought, what if I were to observe? He observing with his divine eye beheld all Jambudvlpa, and in the great city called Kapila, in the house of king Suddhodana, the boy who had been born, shining with the brilliance of a hundred merits, honoured by all the world, and adorned with the thirty-two marks of a great man. And beholding again he addressed his pupil Naradatta.


Hereupon he tells his pupil of the birth of a son to Suddhodana, and recites to him the prophecy which he afterwards repeats to the king.

So the great sage Asita with his nephew Naradatta like a royal swan rose up and flew through the air to the great city of Kapilavatthu, and on arriving laid aside his magic power, entered Kapilavatthu on foot; arrived at the abode of king Suddhodana, and stood at the door of the house. Now Asita the sage beheld at the door of king Suddhodana's house many hundred thousand beings assembled, so he approached the doorkeeper and said, "go, man, inform king Suddhodana that a sage is standing at the door." Then the doorkeeper approached king Suddhodana and with clasped hands said to the king, " know, O king, that an aged sage, old and advanced in years stands at the door, and says that he desires to see the king." The king prepared a seat for Asita and said to the man, "let the sage enter." So the man coming out of the palace told Asita to enter. Now Asita approached king Suddhodana and standing in front of him said, "victory, victory, O king, live long, and rule thy kingdom righteously." Then the king paid reverence to the feet of Asita, and invited him to a seat; and seeing him seated in comfort said, "I remember not to have seen thee, O sage. With what purpose hast thou come hither? What is the cause?" Thereupon Asita said to the king, "a son has been born to thee, O king; desiring to see him I have come." The king said, "the boy is asleep. O sage, wait a short while until he wakes." The sage said, "not long, O king, do such great beings sleep. Such good beings are by nature wakeful." Thus did the Bodhisatta out of compassion for Asita the great sage make a sign of awaking. Then the king taking the boy Sarvarthasiddha well and duly in both hands brought him into the presence of the sage. Thus Asita observing beheld the Bodhisatta endowed with the thirty-two marks of a great man and adorned with the eighty minor marks, his body surpassing that of Sakra, Brahma, and the world-protectors, with glory surpassing a hundred and thousand-fold, and he breathed forth this solemn utterance: "marvellous verily is this person that has appeared in the world," and rising from his seat clasped his hands, fell at the Bodhisatta's feet, made a rightwise circuit round, and taking the Bodhisatta stood in contemplation. He beheld the Bodhisatta's thirty two marks of a great man, endowed with which a man has two careers and no other. If he dwells in a house, he will become a king, a universal monarch.92 ... But if he goes forth from a house to a houseless life, he will become a Tathagata, loudly proclaimed, a fully enlightened Buddha." And looking at him he wept, and shedding tears sighed deeply.

The king beheld Asita weeping, shedding tears, and sighing deeply. And beholding him the hair of his body rose, and in distress he hastily said to Asita, " why, O sage, dost thou weep and shed tears, and sigh deeply? Surely there is no misfortune for the boy?" At this Asita said to the king, " O king, I weep not for the sake of the boy. There will be no misfortune for him, but I weep for myself. And why?, I, O king, am old, aged, advanced in years, and this boy Sarvarthasiddha will without doubt attain supreme complete enlightenment. And having done so will turn the supreme Wheel of the Doctrine that has not been turned by ascetic or brahmin, or god, or Mara, or by any other in the world; for the weal and happiness of the world will he teach the Doctrine. The religious life, the Doctrine, good in the beginning, good in the middle, good in the end, complete in the letter and the spirit, whole, pure, he will proclaim... As, O king, an udumbara flower at some time and place arises in the world,93 even so at some time and place after countless cycles reverend Buddhas arise in the world. This boy will without doubt attain supreme complete enlightenment, and having done so will take countless beings across the ocean of transmigration to the other side and establish them in the immortal state. But we shall not see that. Buddha-jewel. Hence, O king, I weep, and in sadness I sigh deeply, for I shall not be able to reverence him. As it is found in our mantras, Vedas, and law-books, not fit is it that the boy Sarvarthasiddha should dwell in a house. And why?"


Hereupon Asita gives the list of the thirty-two marks94 and the eighty minor marks, and repeats his prophecy. The king is delighted, falls at the feet of his son, and utters a verse in reverence.

So the king gratified the great sage Asita together with Naradatta his nephew with suitable food, and having given him robes made a rightwise circuit round him. Then Asita by his magic power departed through the air and arrived at his hermitage. Thereupon Asita said to Naradatta his nephew, "when thou shalt hear, Naradatta, that a Buddha has arisen in the world, then go and abandon the world under his teaching. This shall be for a long time for thy weal and welfare and happiness."


This is immediately followed by the same account in verse, and in the elaborate classical metre known as sardulavikridita. Unlike some of the verse recensions of the incidents it does not differ essentially from the prose. One peculiarity both of the prose and the verse is that Asita takes with him his nephew and pupil, here called Naradatta, though he flies through the air by his magic power, without any mention of the mode of locomotion of his pupil. In the Mahavastu version his pupil is called Nalaka as in the Pali, but Asita is there said to come from the south. He is the son of a brahmin of Ujjeni, and lives in a hermitage on the Vindhya mountains. But the most striking difference from the canonical Pali account is the Pali of the Nidana-katha, which is as follows:

On the very day (of his birth) the assembly of the gods in the heaven of the Thirty-three sported rejoicing and shaking their garments, saying, "in the city Kapilavatthu, to king Suddhodana, a son is born. This boy will sit on the seat of Enlightenment and become a Buddha." At that time an ascetic named Kaladevala, possessor of the eight attainments, who frequented the house of king Suddhodana, went after his meal for the sake of being in the open air to the dwelling of the Thirty-three, and seated there in the open air saw the gods, and asked, "why are you sporting with such delighted minds? Tell me too the cause." The gods said. "sir, a son is born to king Suddhodana. He will sit on the seat of Enlightenment, and becoming a Buddha will turn the wheel of the Doctrine, and we shall be able to see his infinite Buddha-grace, and hear the Doctrine. For this cause are we delighted." The ascetic hearing what they said quickly descended from the world of the gods, entered the royal abode, and sitting on the seat prepared for him said, "they say a son has been born to thee, O king, I would see him." The king ordered the boy arrayed in his adornments to be brought, and wished to cause him to do reverence to the ascetic. The Bodhisatta's feet turned up and placed themselves on the ascetic's matted hair. For there is no one fitting to be reverenced by the nature of a Bodhisatta, and if in their ignorance they had put the Bodhisatta's head at the feet of the ascetic, the ascetic's head would have split into seven pieces. The ascetic thought it was not fitting to destroy himself, and arose from his seat and stretched out his clasped hands to the Bodhisatta. The king seeing the marvel himself did reverence to his son. The ascetic had the memory of forty past cycles and of forty to come, eighty in all, and seeing that the Bodhisatta possessed the signs he called to remembrance whether he would become a Buddha or not, and knowing that he would certainly become a Buddha said, "this is a marvellous person," and smiled. Then calling to remembrance whether he should be able to see him when he had become a Buddha, he saw that he would not be able, but having died he could not attain enlightenment through a hundred or even a thousand Buddhas, and would be reborn in the Formless world. And thinking, "such a marvellous person, when he has become Buddha, I shall not be able to see: great verily will be my loss," he wept. The people seeing this asked, "our noble one just now smiled, and then began to weep. Can it be, reverend sir, that there will be any misfortune to our noble son?" "There will be no misfortune to him. Without doubt he will become a Buddha." "Then why didst thou weep ?" "Thinking that I shall not be able to see him when he has become Buddha; great verily will be my loss, and lamenting for myself I weep," he said. Then thinking whether there was anyone among his relatives who would be able to see him or not when he had become Buddha, he called to remembrance and saw his nephew, the boy Nalaka. He went to his sister's house and said, "where is thy son Nalaka?" "In the house, noble one." "Summon him." When Nalaka had come to his presence he said, "my dear, in the family of king Suddhodana a son has been born, an embryo Buddha. After thirty-five years he will become a Buddha. Thou wilt be able to see this. Renounce the world even to-day." The boy had been born in a house possessing wealth of eight hundred and seventy millions, and thinking that his uncle would not command him without a reason, got yellow robes and an earthen bowl from a shop, removed his hair and beard, put on the yellow robes, and stretching out his clasped hands in the direction of the Bodhisatta said, "my going forth is under the leadership of that supreme being." He then made obeisance to him, put his bowl in a bag, swung it over his shoulder and entering the Himalayas lived the life of an ascetic. After the Great Enlightenment he came to see Buddha, who repeated to him the discourse" the Way of Nalaka". Then he returned to the Himalayas, attained arahatship, continued to live for seven months following the most excellent path, and standing near a golden hill attained complete Nirvana.


In this version there is no rishi but a tapasa, an ascetic who practises austerities. His name is Kaladevala, 'Devala the black,' and he is not a stranger to the king, but gets his living by frequenting the palace. On seeing the boy he smiles and then weeps. This incident of smiling and weeping is a very common Indian folktale feature. These striking differences can be explained from the source of the story. It comes from the Singhalese commentary retranslated into Pali. Hence the rishi appears as a tapasa, and his name Asita becomes the synonymous Kala (-devala).95

Not only Seydel and Edmunds, but also Pischel, see in this story the original of the story of Simeon (Luke ii, 22-32). The differences between them, says Pischel, are less than the correspondence. Edmunds also brings in the appearance of the angels to the shepherds (Luke ii, 8-15), as parallel to the gods sporting in the sky. Nevertheless Asita was not expecting a Buddha, he did not depart in peace, but with lamentation, and he did not live to see the Buddha come. What constitutes a preponderance of resemblances depends on very subjective considerations, and the question can only be fairly judged when all the similar stories have been taken into account.

On the fifth day the ceremony of name-giving took place. A hundred and eight brahmins were invited to the festival at the palace, and eight of these were interpreters of bodily marks. On the day of the conception they had had a dream, and seven of them held up two fingers and prophesied that one who had such marks as the Bodhisatta would become either a universal king or a Buddha; but the eighth, a young man known from his clan as Kondanna, held up one finger, and prophesied his Buddhahood as a certainty. The brahmins also told the king that his son would leave the world after seeing the four signs, an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and an ascetic. Accordingly guards were stationed at the four quarters to prevent these four from coming to the sight of his son.

This is the account of the Nidana-katha, which omits to mention the name bestowed, but later on uses the name Siddhattha, which in the Lalita-vistara is Siddartha, 'he whose aim is accomplished,' but the latter authority, as well as the Mahavastu, usually gives the name as Sarvarthasiddha, 'he who has accomplished all his aims.' There is no real contradiction between these forms, since as they are significant and of practically the same meaning, the variation is quite conceivable. But these late authorities are the only evidence. The name according to the Lalitavistara does not bear its obvious meaning, but was given to the Bodhisatta by Suddhodana, because his own aims had all been accomplished. It is a natural title to be applied by his disciples to the enlightened Buddha, and it may naturally be inferred that a mere epithet has been converted into a proper name, and that the divergent stories of the name-giving have been built upon it.

The most striking example of a variety of legends based upon a single incident is seen in the way in which a passage of the Scriptures has been expounded in at least four ways. In the Majjhima96 Buddha in describing his strivings before enlightenment says that while practising austerities he remembered that at the time when his father the Sakyan was working, he was seated beneath the cool shade of a roseapple tree, and attained the first trallce.96 When was this, and what was the work? That is the kind of question that the commentator has to answer, and if he does not know, he must invent. Hence we get the explanation in the commentary on the Majjhima, which is repeated in the Nidanakatha. It is to the effect that on a certain day the state ploughing of the king took place. There were a thousand ploughs, a hundred and eight of which were of silver for the courtiers, except one golden one for the king. The farmers ploughed with the rest. The boy was taken and placed on a couch within a screen beneath a rose-apple tree. The nurses left him, and he sat up cross-legged, practised in and out breathing, and attained the first trance. On the return of the nurses the shadows of the other trees had turned, but that of the rose-apple had stood still. The king was informed, and on coming and seeing the miracle he did reverence to his son, saying, "My dear, this is the second reverence paid to thee."97

According to the Mahavastu the boy was taken by the king with his seraglio to the park. In this version he was old enough to walk about, and came to a farming village, where he saw a serpent and a frog turned up by the ploughs. The frog was taken for food and the serpent thrown away. This roused great agitation in the Bodhisatta, and he sat during the morning beneath a rose-apple tree and attained the first trance. Five rishis, who came flying through the air on their way from the Himalayas to the Vindhyas, were not able to pass beyond him, and they were informed by the gods of the reason why. They alighted and recited verses in his honour. At meal time the boy could not be found, but after a search by the ministers he was discovered under the tree, the shadow of which had not moved, and the king came and did reverence to his feet.

The Lalita-vistara has two versions, prose and verse, closely connected with the Mahavastu account, as many of the verses and the incident of the rishis are the same. But it is there said to have taken place after the Bodhisatta had grown. He set out with a number of courtiers' sons to look at a farming village, and after seeing it entered a park, sat cross-legged beneath a rose-apple tree, and attained the whole four degrees of trance. The rishis arrived and recited their verses. His father not seeing him was anxious, and he was found under the shadow of the tree by one of the courtiers.

The Tibetan puts the event still later in life. It was at the age of twenty-nine, after he had seen the four signs that warned him to leave the world. His father to divert his mind had sent him to a farming village, where he saw the toil of the ploughmen, and set them free. Then he meditated under the tree as before. The same account is implied in the Divyavadana, where it is mentioned between the seeing of the four signs and the great Renunciation.98

The Sanskrit accounts relate a story which appears to have arisen in the same way from the explanation in a commentary of a canonical expression.99 Buddha is called devatideva, 'god surpassing the gods.' The chapter in the Lalita-vistara on 'Taking to the temple' is devoted to this. At his birth the chief Sakyas assembled and asked the king that the boy should be taken to the temple. The king approved, and ordered Mahapajapati to adorn the boy. While she was doing so, with a most sweet voice he asked his aunt where he was being taken. On learning he smiled, and in three verses pointed out that the gods had already addressed him as devatideva, and that there was no god like him, much less greater. But he went, conforming to the custom of the world. As soon as the Bodhisatta's right foot was set in the temple, the unconscious images of the gods, Siva, Skanda, Narayana, Kuvera, Moon, Sun, Vaisravana, Sakra, Brahma, the World-protectors, and others were all -upset from their places, fell at the Bodhisatta's feet, and showing their own shapes praised him in verses.

In the Mahavastu version the temple is that of the goddess Abhaya, 'without fear or danger,' a name that is known as the title of several gods. In the Tibetan account he is worshipped by his father on this occasion as devatideva, and that is why he is called god surpassing the gods. Here again the Divyavadana tradition is the same as the Tibetan.100

Among the very late additions to the story in the Lalitavistara is the visit of the Bodhisatta to the writing school. He is taken there in great pomp, and the writing master Visvamitra falls on the ground before his glory. The boy takes the writing tablet, asks which alphabet his master is going to teach him, and gives a list of sixty-four kinds, including those of the Chinese and the Huns. When the boys repeat the alphabet, at each letter a moral truth is uttered, which begins with, or contains that letter, and this takes place through the wonderful power of the Bodhisatta.

Of the life of the Bodhisatta between the events of his birth and his renunciation we have only one incident mentioned in the Canon, that is, Buddha's account of his luxurious life as prince:

I was delicate, O monks, extremely delicate, excessively delicate. In my father's dwelling lotus-pools had been made, in one blue lotuses, in another red, in another white, all for my sake. I used no sandalwood that was not of Benares, my dress was of Benares cloth, my tunic, my under-robe, and cloak. Night and day a white parasol was held over me so that I should not be touched by cold or heat, by dust or weeds or dew.

I had three palaces, one for the cold season, one for the hot, and one for the season of rains. Through the four rainy months, in the palace for the rainy season, entertained by female minstrels I did not come down from the palace; and as in the dwellings of others food from the husks of rice is given to the slaves and workmen together with sour gruel, so in my father's dwelling rice and meat was given to the slaves and workmen.101


The portion of this description that refers to the three palaces recurs several times, recorded of different individuals, and is so general that it might have been told of Buddha without the help of a single word of tradition. It is evidently an older stage of legend than what we find in the commentaries, as will be seen more especially from the immediately following part which describes the great Renunciation. This stage is important in suggesting that all the additional details of the stories that have been grouped round the incident of the three palaces are purely imaginary. There are two accounts in the Pali commentaries and several in Sanskrit. Of the latter it is sufficient to take the Lalitavistara version as typical. They all differ among themselves in ascribing different motives to the events and in· altering their sequence.

The Pali commentary on the above passage describes the wonderful details of the three palaces, which were built for the Bodhisatta when he reached his sixteenth year, and then continues:

Thus when the three palaces were ready, the king thought that as his son was grown up, he would raise the royal parasol over him and see the glory of his kingdom. He sent letters to the Sakyas saying, "my son is grown up, and I intend to establish him in the kingdom. Let all send the girls that have grown up in their houses to this house." On hearing the message they said, "the young man is merely fair and fit to look upon, but he knows no art. He will not be able to support a wife. We will not send our daughters." When the king heard this, he went into his son's presence and said, " what art should the Bodhisatta show, my son?" "I must string the bow requiring the strength of a thousand men, so let it be brought." The king had it brought and gave it to him. The Great Being sitting on a couch had the bow brought to him, and wrapping the string round his toe he drew it with his toe and strung the bow. Taking a stick in his left hand he drew it with his right and struck the string. The whole city was roused. People asked what the sound was, and said it thundered. But others said, "do you not know that it is not thundering, but that prince Angirasa has strung the bow requiring the strength of a thousand men? He is striking the string, and that is the sound of the blow." By so much the minds of the Sakyas were decided. The Great Being asked what else he was to do. (Twelve marvellous feats with the bow are then described.) And this "Was not all, but on that day the Great Being conforming to the custom of the world displayed all his art. Then the Sakya kings arrayed each his own daughter and sent them. They were forty thousand dancing girls. So the Great Being dwelt in his three palaces like a god.


The Jataka commentary tells or' the palaces and of the dancing-girls provided by his father, when he had reached the age of sixteen, but does not say that they were given by the Sakyas, and it adds, "the mother of Rahula was his chief queen." Then it proceeds to give the story of his feats with the bow, which were performed at the request of the Sakyas, not to prove his fitness for marriage, but because they wondered what one who had learnt no art would do if a war broke out.

The simplicity of this story has been contrasted with the Sanskrit legend, but it does not show any nearer approach to history. It shows a stage in which two commentators of one school had not yet agreed on the same story, and one of them does not even mention his marriage. Oldenberg tells us that one of the later texts gives the name of Buddha's wife as Bhaddakacca, and that it allows us to assume that she was his only legitimate consort. He also says that the northern texts give other names. It is probable that Oldenberg did not consider this account strictly historical, but by ignoring all the other evidence he makes it appear as if the Pali gave a single account, which may go back to early tradition. The later text to which he refers is Morris's edition of the Buddhavamsa (XXVI 15): "Bhaddakacca (or Bhaddikacca) by name was his wife, Rahula was the name of his son." But the Colombo edition of the commentary, which quotes this passage, ignores Bhaddakacca. It gives the name as Yasodhara, a name popularly supposed to be confined to 'northern texts,' and it also gives the reading of other recensions, which have Subhaddaka. The name Bhaddakacca itself, like Subhaddaka, is only a metrical adaptation of Bhadda Kaccana, or as in the Mahavamsa Bhaddakaccana She is in fact mentioned in an older text (Ang. i 25), in a list of thirteen nuns, and is there said to be the chief of those who had obtained supernatural psychic powers (abhinna), but she is not called Buddha's wife. It is the commentary that says she married the Bodhisatta. It tells us little that is definite, except that she was the daughter of Suppabuddha the Sakya, and it gives a wrong explanation of her name. Kaccana is a brahmin clan name, like Gotama, but the commentator knows so little of this that he explains it as being for kancana 'gold,' and says that she was so called because her body was like fine gold. It is clear that the identification with Buddha's wife is commentarial, and that four different names in the Pali -- for the above names are not all -- would not have been invented, if there had been an old authoritative tradition.102

Pischel's treatment of the question is still more surprising. He tells us that "we do not learn the name of Buddha's wife from the old texts. These always call her Rahulamata, 'the mother of Rahula'". The old texts to which he refers are the Jatakas, but they do not mention her at all. It is the late commentary thereon that calls her the mother of Rahula, but even then not always. In the commentary on two of the Jatakas (281 and 485) she is called Bimba and Bimbasundari, 'Bimba the beautiful.' This tradition does not stand alone, as the commentary on the Mahapadanasutta in giving a list of the wives of the last seven Buddhas also calls her Bimba, and adds that "queen Bimba after the birth of prince Rahula was known as the mother of Rahula". The Jinacarita, a thirteenth century work composed in Ceylon, which follows the commentaries closely, calls her in one place Yasodhara and in another Bimba (vv. 172, 895). As the name Yasodhara is given to her in the Mahiivastu and in Asvaghosha's poem, as well as in the Pali, and the poetical variant Yasovati occurs in the Lalitavistara, it was evidently accepted by various schools, and appears to be a wider if not older tradition than Bhadda, Subhaddaka, and Bimba.

In the prose of the Lalitavistara Buddha's wife is Gopa103 and daughter of the Sakya Dandapani. When the king decides to give a wife to his son, five hundred Sakyas offer their daughters, and the king decides to let him choose. His choice falls on Gopa, but her father refuses until he has proved his skill in the arts, which include not only archery, but also writing, arithmetic, and many other sciences.104 And the Bodhisatta conforming to the practice of the world lived with Gopa in the midst of eighty-four thousand women.

In spite of its many marvels this version has an interest in being like the Pali an attempt to fill up the blank between his birth and enlightenment. It differs from both the Pali accounts in placing the incident of the three palaces not at the time of his marriage, but thirteen years later, when he was already reflecting on abandoning the world. The commentaries have taken a canonical incident, and as in the case of the meditation under the rose-apple tree, have developed it in various ways.

______________

Notes:

91 Even this view is not shared by all schools, for the Tibetan Vinaya is explicit in recognizing the union of the parents, Rockhill, p. 15, quoted more in detail by Foucaux, Rgya tch'er rol pa, vol. 2, p. xxi.

92 Here the text gives a reference to a full list of a universal monarch's attributes.

93 The udumbara being a kind of fig has no visible flowers. In the Suttanipata 5, one who seeks reality in existing things is said to be like one who looks for a flower on udumbara trees.

94 See the list in Ch. XV.

95 The name probably comes from that of a brahmin rishi, Asita Devala; cf. Windisch in Kuhn Festschrift, p. 1 ff. There are still further differences in the Tibetan. Nalaka on leaving the world goes to Benares and first joins a company of brahmins, amongst whom he becomes known as Katyayana, and after his conversion as Mahakatyayana, that is, he is identified with one of the greatest of the disciples. Rockhill, p. 18.

96 Majjh. i 246 (quoted in full below, p. 64 fl.); Lal. ch. xviii 330 (263). This is an example of an old canonical passage embodied in the latter work. Except for variants and additions it corresponds verbally with the Piai, but for pitu sakkassa kammante 'during the work of my father the Sakyan,' it reads pitur udyane, 'in my father's park.' Hence the difference in the Sanskrit accounts, which all refer to a park. Cf. Mvastu, ii 45 ff.; Rockhill, p. 22. For the trances see p. 181.

97 The ceremonial ploughing may have reference to an actual ancient custom, but there is no reason to assume that it was Sakyan. If it were a custom known to the commentator, it would have to be sought not among the Sakyas, but in the country where the commentary was compiled.

98 Rockhill, p. 22; Divy. p. 391. This story too has been made the original of one of the Gospel events. The reader may be invited to conclude which, before consulting eh. xvii.

99 Lal. 134 (117); Mvastu, ii 26; Rockhill, p. 17. According to van den Bergh van Eysinga it is the original of the story of the Baptism.

100 Rockhill, p. 17; Divy. 391.

101 Ang. i 145; the same in a more elaborate form in Mvastu, ii 115; cf. Majjh. i 504, where Buddha tells of the three palaces, and Digha ii 21, where the same is told of Vipassin Buddha. In Vin. i 15 it is told of Yasa.

102 Even in the Buddhavamsa the mention of his wife is probably an addition. In this work the biography of Buddha occurs twice, first as a prophecy of Dipankara, who gives the names of his mother and father, but not his wife, and then tells of his enlightenment and chief disciples. In the second form, as recited by Buddha, the names of his three palaces, his wife and son, and other details are added.

103 Still other names are given by Rockhill, but he has combined several legends, and has not made it clear whether Buddha had three wives, or whether inconsistent accounts have been mixed up.

104 In the list of these there is considerable resemblance to the lists of the accomplishments of the hero in the romances of Kadambari and Dasakumaracarita.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 31758
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Next

Return to Ancien Regime

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests

cron