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Caroline Rhys Davids
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/14/20

Caroline Augusta Foley Rhys Davids
Born: 27 September 1857, Wadhurst, England
Died: 26 June 1942, Chipstead, England
Nationality: British
Alma mater: University College London
Scientific career
Fields: Buddhist Studies
Institutions: School of Oriental and African Studies, Victoria University of Manchester (today University of Manchester)

Caroline Augusta Foley Rhys Davids (1857–1942) was a British writer and translator. She made a contribution to economics before becoming widely known as an editor, translator, and interpreter of Buddhist texts in the Pāli language. She was honorary secretary of the Pāli Text Society from 1907, and its president from 1923 to 1942.[1]

Early life and education

Caroline Augusta Foley was born on 27 September 1857 in Wadhurst, East Sussex, England to John Foley and Caroline Elizabeth Foley (née Windham). She was born into a family with a long ecclesiastic history: her father, John Foley, served as the vicar of Wadhurst from 1847–88; her grandfather and great grandfather had served as rector of Holt, Worcestershire and vicar of Mordiford, Herefordshire, respectively. Two years before her birth, five of her siblings died within one month in December 1855/January 1856 from diphtheria and are commemorated in the church of St Peter and St Paul, Wadhurst.[2][3] One surviving brother, John Windham Foley (1848–1926), became a missionary in India and another, Charles Windham Foley (1856–1933), played in three FA Cup Finals for Old Etonians, being on the winning side in 1852; he later had a career as a solicitor.[4]

Rhys Davids was home schooled by her father and then attended University College, London studying philosophy, psychology, and economics (PPE). She completed her BA in 1886 and an MA in philosophy in 1889. During her time at University College, she won both the John Stuart Mill Scholarship ...

In 1841 [John William Kaye] resigned from the army and began to write for newspapers such as the Bengal Harkaru. In 1844 he started the Calcutta Review while also writing a novel based in Afghanistan. In 1856 he entered the civil service of the East India Company, and when in 1858 the government of India was transferred to the British crown, he succeeded John Stuart Mill as secretary of the political and secret department of the India office.

-- John William Kaye, by Wikipedia

and the Joseph Hume Scholarship. It was her psychology tutor George Croom Robertson who "sent her to Professor Rhys Davids",[5] her future husband, to further her interest in Indian philosophy. She also studied Sanskrit and Indian Philosophy with Reinhold Rost.

Reinhold Rost (1822–1896) was a German orientalist, who worked for most of his life at St Augustine's Missionary College, Canterbury in England

St Augustine’s College in Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom, was located within the precincts of St Augustine's Abbey about 0.2 miles (335 metres) ESE of Canterbury Cathedral. It served first as a missionary college of the Church of England (1848-1947) and later as the Central College of the Anglican Communion (1952-1967).

The mid-19th century witnessed a "mass-migration" from England to its colonies. In response, the Church of England sent clergy, but the demand for them to serve overseas exceeded supply. Colonial bishoprics were established, but the bishops were without clergy. The training of missionary clergy for the colonies was “notoriously difficult” because they were required to have not only “piety and desire”, they were required to have an education “equivalent to that of a university degree”. The founding of the missionary college of St Augustine’s provided a solution to this problem.

The Revd Edward Coleridge, a teacher at Eton College, envisioned establishing a college for the purpose of training clergy for service in the colonies: both as ministers for the colonists and as missionaries to the native populations...

-- St Augustine's College, Canterbury, by Wikipedia

and as head librarian at the India Office Library, London.

He was the son of Christian Friedrich Rost, a Lutheran minister, and his wife Eleonore Glasewald, born at Eisenberg in Saxen-Altenburg on 2 February 1822. He was educated at the Eisenberg gymnasium school, and, after studying under Johann Gustav Stickel and Johann Gildemeister, graduated Ph.D. at the University of Jena in 1847. In the same year he came to England, to act as a teacher in German at the King's School, Canterbury. After four years, on 7 February 1851, he was appointed oriental lecturer at St. Augustine's Missionary College, Canterbury, founded to educate young men for mission work. This post he held for the rest of his life.

In London, Rost met Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson, and was elected, in December 1863, secretary to the Royal Asiatic Society, a post he held for six years.

Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson, 1st Baronet, GCB FRS (5 April 1810 – 5 March 1895) was a British East India Company army officer, politician and Orientalist, sometimes described as the Father of Assyriology. His son, also Henry, was to become a senior commander in the British Army during World War I...

Rawlinson was appointed political agent at Kandahar in 1840. In that capacity he served for three years, his political labours being considered as meritorious as was his gallantry during various engagements in the course of the Afghan War; for these he was rewarded by the distinction of Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1844.

Serendipitously, he became known personally to the governor-general, which resulted in his appointment as political agent in Ottoman Arabia. Thus he settled in Baghdad, where he devoted himself to cuneiform studies. He was now able, with considerable difficulty and at no small personal risk, to make a complete transcript of the Behistun inscription, which he was also successful in deciphering and interpreting. Having collected a large amount of invaluable information on this and kindred topics, in addition to much geographical knowledge gained in the prosecution of various explorations (including visits with Sir Austen Henry Layard to the ruins of Nineveh), he returned to England on leave of absence in 1849.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in February 1850 on account of being "The Discoverer of the key to the Ancient Persian, Babylonian, and Assyrian Inscriptions in the Cuneiform character. The Author of various papers on the philology, antiquities, and Geography of Mesopotamia and Central Asia. Eminent as a Scholar".

Rawlinson remained at home for two years, published in 1851 his memoir on the Behistun inscription, and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He disposed of his valuable collection of Babylonian, Sabaean, and Sassanian antiquities to the trustees of the British Museum, who also made him a considerable grant to enable him to carry on the Assyrian and Babylonian excavations initiated by Layard. During 1851 he returned to Baghdad. The excavations were performed by his direction with valuable results, among the most important being the discovery of material that contributed greatly to the final decipherment and interpretation of the cuneiform character. Rawlinson's greatest contribution to the deciphering of the cuneiform scripts was the discovery that individual signs had multiple readings depending on their context. While at the British Museum, Rawlinson worked with the younger George Smith.

An equestrian accident in 1855 hastened his determination to return to England, and in that year he resigned his post in the East India Company. On his return to England the distinction of Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath was conferred upon him, and he was appointed a crown director of the East India Company.

The remaining forty years of his life were full of activity—political, diplomatic, and scientific—and were spent mainly in London. In 1858 he was appointed a member of the first India Council, but resigned during 1859 on being sent to Persia as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary. The latter post he held for only a year, owing to his dissatisfaction with circumstances concerning his official position there. Previously he had sat in Parliament as Member of Parliament (MP) for Reigate from February to September 1858; he was again MP for Frome, from 1865 to 1868. He was appointed to the Council of India again in 1868, and continued to serve upon it until his death. He was a strong advocate of the forward policy in Afghanistan, and counselled the retention of Kandahar.

Rawlinson was one of the most important figures arguing that Britain must check Russian ambitions in South Asia. He was a strong advocate of the forward policy in Afghanistan, and counselled the retention of Kandahar. He argued that Tsarist Russia would attack and absorb Khokand, Bokhara and Khiva (which they did – they are now parts of Uzbekistan) and warned they would invade Persia (present-day Iran) and Afghanistan as springboards to British India.

He was a trustee of the British Museum from 1876 till his death. He was created Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 1889, and a Baronet in 1891; was president of the Royal Geographical Society from 1874 to 1875, and of the Royal Asiatic Society from 1869 to 1871 and 1878 to 1881; and received honorary degrees at Oxford, Cambridge, and Edinburgh.

-- Sir Henry Rawlinson, 1st Baronet, by Wikipedia

Through Rawlinson he became on 1 July 1869 librarian at the India Office, on the retirement of FitzEdward Hall, and imposed order on its manuscripts.

Fitzedward Hall (March 21, 1825 - February 1, 1901) was an American Orientalist, and philologist. He was the first American to edit a Sanskrit text, and was an early collaborator in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) project...

He graduated with the degree of civil engineer from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy in 1842, and entered Harvard in the class of 1846. His Harvard classmates included Charles Eliot Norton, who later visited him in India in 1849, and Francis James Child. Just before his class graduated but after completing the work for his degree he abruptly left college and took ship out of Boston to India, allegedly in search of a runaway brother. His ship foundered and was wrecked on its approach to the harbor of Calcutta, where he found himself stranded. Although it was not his intention, he was never to return to the United States. At this time, he began his study of Indian languages, and in January 1850 he was appointed tutor in the Government Sanskrit College at Benares. In 1852, he became the first American to edit a Sanskrit text, namely the Vedanta treatises Ātmabodha and Tattvabodha. In 1853, he became professor of Sanskrit and English at the Government Sanskrit College; and in 1855 was appointed to the post of Inspector of Public Instruction in Ajmere-Merwara and in 1856 in the Central Provinces.

In 1857, Hall was caught up in the Sepoy Mutiny. The Manchester Guardian later gave this account:[2] "When the Mutiny broke out he was Inspector of Public Instruction for Central India, and was beleaguered in the Saugor Fort. He had become an expert tiger shooter, and turned this proficiency to account during the siege of the fort, and afterwards as a volunteer in the struggle for the re-establishment of the British power in India."

In 1859, he published at Calcutta his discursive and informative A Contribution Towards an Index to the Bibliography of the Indian Philosophical Systems, based on the holdings of the Benares College and his own collection of Sanskrit manuscripts, as well as numerous other private collections he had examined. In the introduction, he regrets that this production was in press in Allahabad and would have been put before the public in 1857, "had it not been impressed to feed a rebel bonfire."

He settled in England and in 1862 received the appointment to the Chair of Sanskrit, Hindustani and Indian jurisprudence in King's College London, and to the librarianship of the India Office. An unsuccessful attempt was made by his friends to lure him back to Harvard by endowing a Chair of Sanskrit for him there, but this project came to nothing. His collection of a thousand Oriental manuscripts he gave to Harvard...

In 1869 Hall was dismissed by the India Office, which accused him (by his own account) of being a drunk and a foreign spy, and expelled from the Philological Society after a series of acrimonious exchanges in the letters columns of various journals.

-- Fitzedward Hall, by Wikipedia

He secured for students free admission to the library. He retired in 1893 after 24 years of service at the age of 70. His successor as head librarian of the India Office Library became the Orientalist and Sanskritist Charles Henry Tawney (1837-1922).

Rost gained many distinctions and awards. He was created Hon. LL.D. of Edinburgh in 1877, and a Companion of the Indian Empire in 1888. He died at Canterbury on 7 February 1896.[1]

-- Reinhold Rost, by Wikiedia

Thomas Rhys Davids was elected a fellow of University College in 1896. Caroline Rhys Davids was awarded an honorary D.Litt. degree by the Victoria University of Manchester (today University of Manchester) in 1919.[6]


As a student, she was already a prolific writer and a vocal campaigner in the movements for poverty relief, children's rights, and women's suffrage.

Before moving into Buddhist studies, Rhys Davids made a contribution to Economics. She wrote seventeen entries for Palgrave Dictionary of Political Economy (1894-99/1910), including "Rent of ability," "Science, Economic, as distinguished from art," "Statics, Social, and social dynamics," as well as twelve biographical entries. Her entry, "Fashion, economic influence of," was related to her 1893 Economic Journal article, "Fashion," and reflects an unusual economic interest (see Fullbrook 1998). She also translated articles for the Economic journal from the German, French and Italian, including Carl Menger's influential 1892 article "On the Origin of Money".[7] In 1896 Rhys Davids published two sets of lecture notes by her former teacher and mentor George Croom Robertson: one on psychology[8] and one on philosophy.[9]

George Croom Robertson (10 March 1842 – 20 September 1892) was a Scottish philosopher. He sat on the Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage and his wife, Caroline Anna Croom Robertson was a college administrator.

He was born in Aberdeen. In 1857 he gained a bursary at Marischal College, and graduated MA in 1861, with the highest honours in classics and philosophy. In the same year he won a Fergusson scholarship of £100 a year for two years, which enabled him to pursue his studies outside Scotland. He went first to University College, London; at the University of Heidelberg he worked on his German; at the Humboldt University in Berlin he studied psychology, metaphysics and also physiology under Emil du Bois-Reymond,...

Emil Heinrich du Bois-Reymond (7 November 1818 – 26 December 1896) was a German physician and physiologist, the co-discoverer of nerve action potential, and the developer of experimental electrophysiology.

Du Bois-Reymond was born in Berlin and spent his working life there. One of his younger brothers was the mathematician Paul du Bois-Reymond (1831–1889). His father was from Neuchâtel, and his mother was a Berliner of Huguenot origin.[1][2]

Educated first at the French College in Berlin, du Bois-Reymond enrolled in the University of Berlin in 1838. He seems to have been uncertain at first as to the topic of his studies, for he was a student of the renowned ecclesiastical historian August Neander, and dallied with geology and physics, but eventually began to study medicine with such zeal and success as to attract the notice of Johannes Peter Müller (1801–1858), a well-known professor of anatomy and physiology...

During 1840 Müller made du Bois-Reymond his assistant in physiology, and as the beginning of an inquiry gave him a copy of the essay which the Italian Carlo Matteucci had just published on the electric phenomena of animals. This determined the work of du Bois-Reymond's life. He chose as the subject of his graduation thesis Electric fishes, and so commenced a long series of investigations on bioelectricity. The results of these inquiries were made known partly in papers communicated to scientific journals, but also and chiefly by his work Investigations of Animal Electricity, the first part of which was published in 1848, the last in 1884.

-- Emil du Bois-Reymond, by Wikipedia

and heard lectures on Hegel, Kant and the history of philosophy, ancient and modern. After two months at the University of Göttingen, he went to Paris in June 1863. In the same year he returned to Aberdeen and helped Alexander Bain with the revision of some of his books.

In 1864 he was appointed to help William Duguid Geddes with his Greek classes, but he devoted his vacations to working on philosophy. In 1866 he was appointed professor of philosophy of mind and logic at University College, London. He remained there until he was forced by ill-health to resign a few months before his death, lecturing on logic, deductive and inductive, systematic psychology and ethics...

Together with Bain, he edited George Grote's Aristotle, and was the editor of Mind from its foundation in 1876 till 1891.

The society's annual conference, organised since 1918 in conjunction with the Mind Association, (publishers of the philosophical journal Mind), is known as the Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association, and is hosted by different university departments in July each year.

The Mind Association is a philosophical society whose purpose is to promote the study of philosophy. The association publishes the journal Mind quarterly.

Mind is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Mind Association....

Early on, the journal was dedicated to the question of whether psychology could be a legitimate natural science. In the first issue, Robertson wrote:

Now, if there were a journal that set itself to record all advances in psychology, and gave encouragement to special researches by its readiness to publish them, the uncertainty hanging over the subject could hardly fail to be dispelled. Either psychology would in time pass with general consent into the company of the sciences, or the hollowness of its pretensions would be plainly revealed. Nothing less, in fact, is aimed at in the publication of Mind than to procure a decision of this question as to the scientific standing of psychology.

-- Mind (journal), by Wikipedia

It was established in 1900 on the death of Henry Sidgwick [one of the founders and first president of the Society for Psychical Research; a member of the Metaphysical Society, and the Cambridge Apostles, a lifelong homosexual, married to Eleanor Mildred Balfour, sister to Arthur Balfour], who had supported Mind financially since 1891 and had suggested that after his death the society should be formed to oversee the journal.

-- Mind Association, by Wikipedia

The first edition of the society's proceedings, the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society for the Systematic Study of Philosophy, now the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, was issued in 1888.

-- Aristotelian Society, by Wikipedia

Robertson had a keen interest in German philosophy, and took every opportunity to make German works on English writers known in the United Kingdom. In philosophy he was a follower of Bain...

Alexander Bain (11 June 1818 – 18 September 1903) was a Scottish philosopher and educationalist in the British school of empiricism and a prominent and innovative figure in the fields of psychology, linguistics, logic, moral philosophy and education reform. He founded Mind, the first ever journal of psychology and analytical philosophy, and was the leading figure in establishing and applying the scientific method to psychology. Bain was the inaugural Regius Chair in Logic and Professor of Logic at the University of Aberdeen, where he also held Professorships in Moral Philosophy and English Literature and was twice elected Lord Rector of the University of Aberdeen...

In 1836 he entered Marischal College where he came under the influence of Professor of Mathematics John Cruickshank, Professor of Chemistry Thomas Clark and Professor of Natural Philosophy William Knight. Towards the end of his undergraduate degree he became a contributor to the Westminster Review with his first article entitled "Electrotype and Daguerreotype," published in September 1840. This was the beginning of his connection with John Stuart Mill, which led to a lifelong friendship. He was awarded the Blue Ribbon and also the Gray Mathematical Bursary. His college career and studies was distinguished especially in mental philosophy, mathematics and physics and he graduated with a Master of Arts with Highest Honours.

In 1841, Bain substituted for Dr. Glennie the Professor of Moral Philosophy, who, due to ill-health, was unable to discharge his academic duties. He continued to do this three successive terms, during which he continued writing for the Westminster, and also helped John Stuart Mill with the revision of the manuscript of his System of Logic (1842). In 1843 he contributed the first review of the book to the London and Westminster...

Although his influence as a logician and linguist in grammar and rhetoric was considerable, his reputation rests on his works in psychology. At one with the German physiologist and comparative anatomist Johannes Peter Müller in the conviction psychologus nemo nisi physiologus (one is not a psychologist who is not also a physiologist), he was the first in Great Britain during the 19th century to apply physiology in a thoroughgoing fashion to the elucidation of mental states. In discussing the will, he favoured physiological over metaphysical explanations, pointing to reflexes as evidence that a form of will, independent of consciousness, inheres in a person's limbs. He sought to chart physiological correlates of mental states but refused to make any materialistic assumptions. He was the originator of the theory of psychophysical parallelism which is used widely as a working basis by modern psychologists. His idea of applying the scientific method of classification to psychical phenomena gave scientific character to his work, the value of which was enhanced by his methodical exposition and his command of illustration. In line with this, too, is his demand that psychology should be cleared of metaphysics; and to his lead is no doubt due in great measure the position that psychology has now acquired as a distinct positive science. Bain established psychology, as influenced by David Hume and Auguste Comte, as a more distinct discipline of science through application of the scientific method. Bain proposed that physiological and psychological processes were linked, and that traditional psychology could be explained in terms of this association. Moreover, he proposed that all knowledge and all mental processes had to be based on actual physical sensations, and not on spontaneous thoughts and ideas, and attempted to identify the link between the mind and the body and to discover the correlations between mental and behavioural phenomena.

William James calls his work the "last word" of the earlier stage of psychology.

-- Alexander Bain, by Wikipedia

and John Stuart Mill. He and his wife, the college administrator Caroline Anna Croom Robertson, were involved in social work; he sat on the Committee of the National Society for Women's Suffrage, and was actively associated with its president, John Stuart Mill. He also supported the admission of women students to University College.

-- George Croom Robertson, by Wikipedia

Rhys Davids was on the editorial board of the Economic Journal from 1891 to 1895.

T. W. Rhys Davids encouraged, his then pupil, Caroline to pursue Buddhist studies and do research about Buddhist psychology and the place of women in Buddhism. Thus, among her first works were a translation of the Dhamma Sangani, a text from the Theravāda Abhidhamma Piṭaka, which she published under the title A Buddhist manual of psychological ethics: Being a translation, now made for the first time, from the original Pāli, of the first book in the Abhidhamma Piṭaka, entitled: Dhamma-sangaṇi (Compendium of States or Phenomena) (1900); a second early translation was that of the Therīgāthā, a canonical work of verses traditionally ascribed to early Buddhist nuns (under the title Psalms of the Sisters [1909]).

Rhys Davids held two academic positions: Lecturer in Indian Philosophy at Victoria University of Manchester (today University of Manchester) (1910-1913); and Lecturer in the History of Buddhism at the School of Oriental Studies, later renamed the School of Oriental and African Studies (1918-1933). While teaching, she simultaneously acted as the Honorary Secretary of the Pāli Text Society which had been started by T. W. Rhys Davids to transcribe and translate Pāli Buddhist texts in 1881. She held that position from 1907 until her husband's death in 1922; the following year, she took his place as President of the Society.[10]

Her translations of Pāli texts were at times idiosyncratic, but her contribution as editor, translator, and interpreter of Buddhist texts was considerable. She was one of the first scholars to translate Abhidhamma texts, known for their complexity and difficult use of technical language. She also translated large portions of the Sutta Piṭaka, or edited and supervised the translations of other PTS scholars. Beyond this, she also wrote numerous articles and popular books on Buddhism; it is in these manuals and journal articles where her controversial volte-face towards several key points of Theravāda doctrine can first be seen.

After the death of her son in 1917 and her husband in 1922, Rhys Davids turned to Spiritualism. She became particularly involved in various forms of psychic communication with the dead, first attempting to reach her dead son through seances and then through automatic writing. She later claimed to have developed clairaudience, as well as the ability to pass into the next world when dreaming. She kept extensive notebooks of automatic writing, along with notes on the afterlife and diaries detailing her experiences. These notes form part of her archive jointly held by the University of Cambridge[11] and the University of London.[12]

Although earlier in her career she accepted more mainstream beliefs about Buddhist teachings, later in life she rejected the concept of anatta as an "original" Buddhist teaching. She appears to have influenced several of her students in this direction, including A. K. Coomaraswamy, F. L. Woodward, and I. B. Horner.


The fighter ace Arthur Rhys Davids. He died in action on 23 October 1917, aged just twenty.

Caroline Augusta Foley married Thomas William Rhys Davids in 1894. They had three children: Vivien Brynhild Caroline Foley Rhys Davids (1895-1978), Arthur Rhys Davids (1897-1917), and Nesta Enid (1900-1973).

Vivien won the Clara Evelyn Mordan Scholarship to St Hugh's College, Oxford in 1915,[13] later serving as a Surrey County Councillor, and receiving an MBE in 1973.[14] Arthur was a gifted scholar and a decorated World War I fighter ace, but was killed in action in 1917. Neither Vivien nor Nesta married or had children.

Rhys Davids died suddenly in Chipstead, Surrey on 26 June 1942. She was 84.

Works and translations


• Buddhism: A Study of the Buddhist Norm (1912)
• Buddhist Psychology: An Inquiry into the Analysis and Theory of Mind in Pāli Literature (1914)
• Old Creeds and New Needs (1923)
• The Will to Peace (1923)
• Will & Willer (1926)
• Gotama the Man (1928)
• Sakya: or, Buddhist Origins (1928)
• Stories of the Buddha : Being Selections from the Jataka (1929)
• Kindred Sayings on Buddhism (1930)
• The Milinda-questions : An Inquiry into its Place in the History of Buddhism with a Theory as to its Author (1930)
• A Manual of Buddhism for Advanced Students (1932)
• Outlines of Buddhism: A Historical Sketch (1934)
• Buddhism: Its Birth and Dispersal (1934) - A completely rewritten work to replace Buddhism: A Study of the Buddhist Norm (1912)
• Indian Religion and Survival: A Study (1934)
• The Birth of Indian Psychology and its Development in Buddhism (1936)
• To Become or not to Become (That is the Question!): Episodes in the History of an Indian Word (1937)
• What is your Will (1937) - A rewrite of Will & Willer
• What was the original gospel in 'Buddhism'? (1938)
• More about the Hereafter (1939)
• Wayfarer's Words, V. I-III - A compilation of most of C. A. F. Rhys Davids articles and lectures, mostly from the latter part of her career. V. I (1940), V. II (1941), V. III (1942 - posthumously)


• A Buddhist manual of psychological ethics or Buddhist Psychology, of the Fourth Century B.C., being a translation, now made for the first time, from the Original Pāli of the First Book in the Abhidhamma-Piţaka, entitled Dhamma-Sangaṇi (Compendium of States or Phenomena) (1900). (Includes an original 80-page introduction.) Reprint currently available from Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-4702-9.
• Psalms of the Early Buddhists: Volume I. Psalms of the Sisters. By C. A. F. Rhys Davids. London: Pāli Text Society, 1909, at A Celebration of Women Writers
• Points of controversy; or, Subjects of discourse; being a translation of the Kathā-vatthu from the Abhidhamma-piṭaka, Co-authored with Shwe Zan Aung (1915)


• On the Will in Buddhism By C. A. F. Rhys Davids. The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. (1898) pp. 47–59
• Notes on Early Economic Conditions in Northern India By C. A. F. Rhys Davids. The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. (1901) pp. 859–888
• The Soul-Theory in Buddhism By C. A. F. Rhys Davids. The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1903) pp. 587–591
• Buddhism and Ethics By C. A. F. Rhys Davids. The Buddhist Review Vol. 1 No. 1. (1909) pp. 13–23
• Intellect and the Khandha Doctrine By C. A. F. Rhys Davids. The Buddhist Review. Vol. 2. No. 1 (1910) pp. 99–115
• Pāli Text Society By Shwe Zan Aung and C. A. F. Rhys Davids. The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. (1917) pp. 403–406
• The Patna Congress and the "Man" By C. A. F. Rhys Davids. The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. (1929) pp. 27–36
• Original Buddhism and Amṛta By C. A. F. Rhys Davids. Melanges chinois et bouddhiques. July 1939. pp. 371–382

See also

• Buddhism and psychology
• Indian psychology


1. 'DAVIDS, Caroline A. F. Rhys', Who Was Who, Oxford University Press, 2014. accessed 28 Sept 2017[permanent dead link]
2. "Church Guide" (PDF). Wadhurst Parish Church. p. 13. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
3. Payne, Russell (21 May 2012). "The Foley Family. A tragedy from the past (The Secrets of Wadhurst Church)". YouTube. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
4. Warsop, Keith (2004). The Early F.A. Cup Finals and the Southern Amateurs. Soccer Data. p. 79. ISBN 1-899468-78-1.
5. Revell, Alex. (1984). Brief Glory: The Life of Arthur Rhys Davids. William Kimber, p.14.
6. University of Manchester, Register of Graduates And Holders of Diplomas And Certificates 1851–1958 [filed under Davids]
7. Robert W. Dimand. (1999) Women Economists in the 1890s: Journals, Books and the Old Palgrave. Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 21 (3): 272
8. Robertson, George, Croom. (1896a). Elements of Psychology. Ed. by Davids, C. A. F. Rhys. 1896. ... i/mode/2up
9. Robertson, George, Croom. (1896b) Elements of General Philosophy. Ed. by Davids, C. A. F. Rhys.
10. 'DAVIDS, Caroline A. F. Rhys', Who Was Who, Oxford University Press, 2014. accessed 28 Sept 2017[permanent dead link]
11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 October 2017. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
12. ... 1f66355c86
13. ... 34-1935/41
14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 April 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2016.


• 'DAVIDS, Caroline A. F. Rhys', in Who Was Who, Oxford University Press, 2014. (online edn, April 2014) accessed 28 Sept 2017[permanent dead link]
• Neal, Dawn. (2014) The Life and Contributions of CAF Rhys Davids. The Sati Journal, 2: 15–31. ... hys_Davids
• Robert W. Dimand. (1999) Women Economists in the 1890s: Journals, Books and the Old Palgrave. Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 21 (3): 269
• Snodgrass, Judith (2007). "Defining Modern Buddhism: Mr. and Mrs. Rhys Davids and the Pāli Text Society." Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 27:1, 186–202. ... grass.html.
• Wickremeratne, Ananda. The Genesis of an Orientalist: Thomas William Rhys Davids and Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1984. ISBN 0-8364-0867-5.
• Stede, W. (1942). "Caroline Augusta Foley Rhys Davids: (27th September, 1857 – 26th June, 1942)", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 3, 267-268

External links

• Mrs. Rhys Davids' Dialogue with Psychology (1893-1924) By Teresina Rowell Havens. Philosophy East & West. V. 14 (1964) pp. 51–58
• Records of Caroline Rhys Davids at Senate House Library, University of London
• "LC Online Catalog - Caroline Rhys Davids". Retrieved 13 April 2016.
• University of Cambridge Library Archive Collection - Rhys Davids Family
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Sat Aug 15, 2020 4:25 am

Xiong Shili
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/14/20

This is a Chinese name; the family name is Xiong.

Xiong Shili 熊十力 熊十力
Born: 1885, Huanggang, Hubei, Qing Empire
Died: 23 May 1968 (aged 82–83), Shanghai, People's Republic of China
Organization: Tianjin Nankai High School; Peking University; Nanjing University
Movement: New Confucianism

Xiong Shili (Chinese: 熊十力; pinyin: Xióng Shílì; Wade–Giles: Hsiung Shih-li, 1885 – May 23, 1968) was a Chinese essayist and philosopher whose major work A New Treatise on Vijñaptimātra (新唯識論, Xin Weishi Lun) is a Confucian critique of the Buddhist Vijñapti-mātra "consciousness-only" theory popularized in China by the Tang-dynasty pilgrim Xuanzang.

Xiong is widely regarded as the thinker who laid down the basis for the revival of Confucianism during the twentieth century, and the main voice in contemporary Chinese philosophy who called for a revival of the Confucian dao.
He felt it could provide a guide for the country during its tumultuous period following the May Fourth Movement in 1919.[1]:127 He felt that national survival was predicated on a sense of community, which in turn could only come from trusting commitments from the people involved. He believed that the most urgent task for the educated elite in China was to raise the cultural awareness and sensitivity of the people that the clash between the West and China was not solely a clash of economic strength and military might, but also a conflict between basic human values.[2]:248 While he led a fairly secluded life throughout his career as a teacher and his association with the academic community did not begin until he was in his late thirties, his views have influenced scholars to this day.


Xiong was born to a poverty-stricken family in the Huanggang, Hubei. His father was a village teacher who died of tuberculosis when Xiong was ten years old, forcing him to work as a cowherd for his neighbor to support his family. By his twenties, he was a dedicated revolutionary in the Republican Revolution that ended the Qing dynasty and ushered in China's first republic. Disgusted over corruption in politics, and what he termed "latent feudalism" among the revolutionaries, he began to study Buddhism in 1920 at the China Institute for Inner Learning (支那內學院) in Nanjing headed by Ouyang Jingwu (欧阳境无), perhaps the most influential lay Buddhist thinker of the twentieth century. At this time, the Chancellor of Peking University, Cai Yuanpei, sent Liang Shuming to Nanjing to ask Ouyang Jingwu to recommend one of his students to teach Buddhist Logic (因明學, Yinming Xue) and Yogacara philosophy (唯识论) in the Philosophy Department at Peking University. Ouyang Jingwu recommended Xiong and passed Liang Shuming a draft on which Xiong had been working entitled An Outline of Consciousness-only. Impressed with Xiong's work, Cai Yuanpei, on Liang's recommendation, invited Xiong to Peking University where Xiong, much to the chagrin of Liang Shuming, destroyed his draft and instead wrote and published in 1932 what is now considered his major work A New Treatise on Consciousness-only (新唯识论, xin weishi lun). In his New Treatise, Xiong criticized the old Yogacara masters, such as the brothers Vasubandhu and Asanga (4 c.), as well as their successors, Dharmapala (530-561) and Xuanzang (c. 602–664), for their theory of seeds in which seeds, stored in the eight or 'storehouse' consciousness (alayavijnana), become discrete causal agents that 'perfume' (bring into being) all mental and physical dharmas. However, he also used the insights of Buddhism to reconstruct Confucianism. Much of his philosophy is influenced both by Buddhism and by his study of the Book of Changes, which he regarded as the fundamental classic of Confucianism.

Xiong felt that his mission was to assist China in overcoming its social and cultural crisis, and simultaneously to search for truth. He felt compelled to find and develop the dao of Confucius to meet the force of Western culture. In his outline of the main point of the New Treatise he wrote (in reply to Mou Zongsan):

Now again we are in a weak and dangerous situation. With the strong aggression of European culture, our authentic spirit has been extinct. People are accustomed to self-disregard, self-violence, self-abandonment. Everything is copied from the outside, with little self-establishment. Hence the New Treatise must be written.

The first edition of the New Treatise was written in Classical Chinese, and in 1944 Xiong published a Colloquial Chinese version which was in actuality a complete rewriting of the original work. In 1958–59 Xiong published On Original Reality and Function and Illuminating the Mind. Together, these two books form a revised account of his New Treatise.[1]:129

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Xiong stayed on the mainland and continued to lecture at Peking University. While he wasn’t required to criticize his earlier thinking in terms of Marxism, and he even received government funding in publishing some of his writings after 1949, he was still subjected to physical abuse at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. After seeing Confucianism suffer another cultural and political blow, he died at the age of 84 in 1968.[1]:129


Daily decrease and daily renovation

Xiong's preference of Confucianism is partially because he felt that Buddhism over-emphasizes the negative or passive aspects of human nature. Because of this, it fails to provide a positive and active guide to human life. This is something that Confucianism provided with its trend towards humanist thought. He labels Buddhism a learning of ‘daily decrease,’ a philosophy that points out the darker aspects of human nature and then directs us to eliminate it. Xiong’s view of humanity was brighter. He felt that the meaning of human life is not confined to the elimination of the negative, but also involves the cultivation of the brighter aspects of human nature. He found Confucianism to uphold original human goodness; an original benevolence is insisted upon in Orthodox Confucianism. The role of the human dao is to develop this fundamental goodness. Xiong felt that the human dao lies in expanding the good root of the original mind and having it grow daily.[1]:130–31

Original reality and function

Xiong felt that the central theory of his New Treatise was to show that original reality, (what he also refers to as ti 體 and substance), and the material world, (which he calls yong 用, or function. Cf. Ti yong) are one. The two cannot be split into separate realms. He admits that they should be described using different terms, and can be spoken of as such, but are not actually two separate entitites. Original reality is the cause of all transformations, while function is the myriad of manifestations of original reality. Original reality is hidden, function is visible. He uses the metaphor of the ocean and the waves to illustrate this point.[1]:132

This is different from the notion of substance in mainstream western philosophy, which does not allow substance to embrace dynamism. Plato’s Forms, for example, are static and normative. Xiong's substance changes and transforms unceasingly to become function.[2]:225

"This meaning is subtle and profound. It is best illustrated in terms of the relationship between the ocean and all the waves. 1. The ocean is analogous to original reality; 2. All the water in the ocean is manifested as waves. This is analogous to original reality's manifestation as function of ten thousand things, that is, one function and another. 3. All the waves are analogous to the innumerable functions; 4. All the waves are mutually assimilable to a whole; this is analogous to the mutual assimilation of all the functions into a whole. From the above, we can see that the metaphor of the ocean and the waves best illuminates the relation between original reality and function."[1]:133

The idea that reality and function are in fact, one unit, is a metaphysical claim that is key to Confucianism. This means that the phenomenal flux of change is not illusory, but is intrinsically meaningful. Thus, if original reality is in daily life, human lives should be devoted to daily cultivation in order to attain the vision of original reality.

Change and transformation

Xiong believed that the world is in a state of constant change, and that the ability of changing into all things is exactly what characterizes original reality. He also refers to original reality as "eternal transformation" or "the ability to change". Furthermore, he suggested that the perpetual transformation of original reality consists of "opening" and "closing", two tendencies of change. Closing refers to the tendency of transformation that forms things; through integration and consolidation, or materialization, various physical things are formed. Simultaneously, there is a tendency of opening. This tendency is of being strong, vigorous and not materialized. Both tendencies are indispensable, and they are responsible for the apparent distinction between matter and mind, a distinction that Xiong held is not real.

Between the two, however, Xiong refers to the opening tendency as "mind" and consciousness—the tendency in which original reality manifests its true nature. Like the Buddhist theory of Mere Consciousness, Xiong's philosophy claims consciousness as the ultimate reality. Along these lines, he considered the universe to be living and vital, not a stagnant mechanism.[3]

Original reality and humanity

Tu Wei-Ming's essay on Xiong Shili’s quest for authentic existence,[2] includes a quote that exemplifies where Xiong's philosophy was coming from on a personal level. He was driven by "a great wish to search for truth as a ground for 'peace of mind and a meaningful existence ...' I searched within myself with a singleness of purpose. I thought that the truth is not remote from us ... After a long time, I suddenly awoke to the realization that what I inwardly witnessed agreed entirely with the idea of 'great change' in the Confucian transmission ... hence my own understanding of Confucianism was not derived from book learning. Only after my inner experience had already embodied it did I feel that my understanding of it was in complete harmony with what was recorded in the books."

The first sentences of the New Doctrine state that "the original reality of all things is neither the objective world separate from the mind, nor that is comprehensible through knowledge; it must be comprehended through reflective seeking and confirming".[1]:43, 247

This has two important implications, one, that the human mind and original reality are not separate; and two, original reality must be grasped through reflection on what is in the human mind. Because original reality and the human mind are not separate, this means that in order to know reality, you must first get to know your own mind. This is the cultivation of virtue.

Habituated mind and original mind

For Xiong Shili, the human mind is distinguished by the habituated mind and the original mind. The habituated mind is the mind of thought, emotions, and the will. It is inclined to see the world as external to the self and is motivated by self-desires. Additionally, it uses "calculative understanding", which is a method of thinking that is deliberative and logical, bound to scientific rationality and sense experience. In contrast, the original mind is our real nature, at one with reality. It uses "nature understanding", which is an inward process of intuitive experiencing that points back to the mind itself to discover the original reality within it. Xiong speaks of calculative understanding as fit for seeking reason in the external world, the physical world. He states that we must use it carefully, and if we take original reality as an external object to infer and inquire into, then it is fundamentally wrong. He says that original reality can be comprehended, differing from Kant on this point. He stated that we must realize that original reality is in each one of us, and that we cannot seek to know it in external things. We must turn inward and allow original reality to present itself.[1]:139–40

Major works

• A New Treatise on Consciousness-only (新唯識論)
• A Refutation of the Refutation of the New Treatise on Consciousness-only (破破新唯識論)
• Origins of Confucianism (源儒)
• Essay on Substance and Function (體用論)
• Essential Sayings of Shili (十力語要)
• First Continuation of the Essential Sayings of Shili (十力語要初續)
• Essentials for Reading the Classics (讀經示要)
• A Comprehensive Explanation of Buddhist Terms (佛家明相通釋)
• On Change (乾坤衍)
• Conservative Buddhist Clandestine Opposition to Xuan Zang During the Tang Dynasty (唐世佛學舊派反對玄奘之暗潮)[4]


1. Yu, Jiyuan (2002). "Xiong Shili's Metaphysics of Virtue". In Cheng, Zhongying; Bunnin, Nicholas (eds.). Contemporary Chinese Philosophy. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers.
2. Tu, Wei-ming (1976). "Hsiung Shih-li's Quest for Authentic Existence.". In Furth, Charlotte (ed.). The Limits of Change: Essays on Conservative Alternatives in Republican China. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Publishers.
3. Ng, Yu-Kwan (2003). "Xiong Shili's Metaphysical Theory About the Non-Separability of Substance and Function". In Makeham, John (ed.). New Confucianism: A Critical Examination. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 235.
4. Zhongguo Zhexue Shi Lunwen Chuji [Initial Collection of Essays on the History of Chinese Philosophy]. Beijing. 1959. pp. 97–103.

Further reading

• Rošker, Jana. "New Approaches in Modern Chinese Epistemology: Xiong Shili (1885–1968) and the Synthesis of Qualitative and Quantitative Understanding." Searching for the Way: Theory of Knowledge in Pre-modern and Modern China. Hong Kong: Chinese UP, 2008. Print.
• Rošker, Jana S. "Modern Confucian Synthesis of Qualitative and Quantitative Knowledge: Xiong Shili". Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 2009, Vol. 36, No. 3, p. 376–390
• Ti, Chih-chʻeng. "The contemporary neo-confucian rehabilitation: Xiong Shili and his moral metaphysics". PhD Diss. University of California, Berkeley, May 1990.
• Zhang, Dainian, "Xiong Shili". Encyclopedia of China (Philosophy Edition), 1st ed.
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Part 1 of 3

Chapter 3: An Ecumenical Vision for Global Mission [Taixu/Tai Hsu] [Bodhi Society] [Right Faith Buddhist Society of Hankou]
Excerpt from Toward a Modern Chinese Buddhism: Taixu's Reforms
by Don Alvin Pittman




During the last thirty years of his life, in addition to his efforts in the field of monastic education, Taixu devoted considerable energy to the establishment of regional and world Buddhist organizations. Xuming asserts that the reformer's growing interest in the 1920s in the global organization of Buddhists reflected a definite strategic decision on his part. At first, Taixu believed that the reorganization and reform of the monastic and lay communities within the Chinese Buddhist household would lead, rather naturally and directly, to the spiritual transformation of the nation and, eventually, of the entire world. However, given the failures and obstacles related to this internal Chinese reformation, Taixu began to think more expansively about organizing an ecumenical Buddhist movement on a global scale. Thus, while continuing efforts at institutional reform within the Chinese sangha, he hoped to find a way to bring together progressive-minded monks and laypeople from many nations who were prepared to commit themselves to a Buddhist mission to the world. It would be the conversion of the Christian West that would facilitate the thorough revitalization of Buddhism in East Asia and the shaping of a global Buddhist culture in which the enlightenment of every living being would be possible.1

Yet except for his brief visits to Taiwan and Japan in 1917, it was not until after 1923 that the Chinese master had any concrete opportunities to ...

[PAGES 106, 107 AND 108 MISSING]

national chapter of the World Buddhist Federation. Through these offices, permission was eventually obtained from the Ministry of the Interior for official Chinese delegates to be sent to the forthcoming Tokyo gathering of the world organization. Taixu continued to ponder how to organize effectively both monastic and lay Buddhists in a single national association with local chapters. 15

The East Asian Buddhist Conference convened in Tokyo, November 1-3, 1925, as planned the previous year.16 The Chinese delegation of twenty, led by Daojie and Taixu, included Chisong, Hongson, Wang Yiting, Hu Ruilin, and others.17 Buddhist representatives also attended from Korea and Taiwan. The only non-Asian Buddhist in attendance was the Mahayana scholar Bruno Petzold. Taixu began his major address with an assessment of global tensions and divisions. Asserting that only the compassionate spirit of Buddhism could save the modern world from continuing warfare and strife, he observed that some people simplistically associated these evils with capitalism and imperialism, which they sought to resist. However, he claimed, these calamities were more profoundly related to the blatantly materialistic desires that provided the foundation for all contemporary technological and consumer societies. Only Buddhism, with its teachings of no-self. the ten basic precepts, and perfect enlightenment, can constitute an effective antidote to the spiritual poison of modern materialism, Taixu concluded.

Commenting on the significance of Taixu's participation in the conference, the Japanese editors of the international journal The Eastern Buddhist later quoted the Chinese reformer as declaring:

The world today stands in urgent need for some means of salvation and I think only Buddhism can save the world, because various kinds of remedies have been tried and found wanting. Socialism has been proposed as a means to cure the evils of capitalism, and anarchism as an antidote to Imperialism. Thus far they have, however, failed to effect any cure of the social and international troubles from which the present world is suffering. In order to understand the reason for this failure, one must remember that these "isms" have been worked out by minds which have not been perfectly free from the three basic evils: Avarice, Hate, and Lust. These evils, if unchecked, will always manifest themselves in such crimes as robbery, murder, and adultery. Any remedy or means of cure for the present troubled world worked out by minds which are not yet perfectly free from such evils will tend only to increase the troubles instead of checking or preventing them.

To use the teachings of the ancient sages like Confucius or the precepts of the Prophets like Jesus Christ or Muhammad as a means of cure for the troubles of the present world is also inadequate, because the teachings of these ancient worthies have lost their hold on man's mind in the present materialistic world; for the religious beliefs of the Christians or Moslems have been shaken and the doctrines of these prophets about the Creator, the God, etc., have been disproved in the light of modern scientific discoveries, For the present skeptical world, only Buddhism with its teachings about the ten virtues as the starting point and Nirvana and "Perfect Enlightenment" as the ultimate object can be an effective remedy for the evils of the present world.18

Taixu grounded his appeal for ecumenical cooperation in East Asia in a frank evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of both Chinese and Japanese Buddhists. His principal argument was that each partner needed the other, and that what virtues Chinese Buddhists lacked might be prevalent among Japanese Buddhists, while certain virtues found wanting among Japanese Buddhists might be evident among the Chinese. Thus he declared that "as the Chinese and Japanese Buddhists now come in close touch with each other, they should learn each other's good points and work together for the propagation of the Buddhist religion." 19

With regard to the major weaknesses of Chinese Buddhist monks, Taixu charged that historically they had had lime interest in social service or educational ministries; that they had been so divided among different lineages and schools that they had failed to accomplish many important common goals; that they had generally been recluses without interest or involvement in community or national affairs; and that because they had not valued a modern, scientific education and an awareness of current events, they had not been able to contextualize their preaching to appeal to contemporary minds. Paradoxically, Taixu averred, the primary virtues of Chinese Buddhist monks represented the other side of the same coin. The community's most respected monks, he stated with appreciation, had always led lives of devotion and austerity, giving themselves to Study and contemplation. Although the community had divided into different traditions, Chinese Buddhists at their best had maintained a tolerant and liberal perspective. Like the Buddha, they had displayed a universal outlook, viewing all persons as members of the same family. Finally, they had retained the principal features of primitive Buddhism, despite transformations since the religion's introduction into China.

With regard to the good points and shortcomings of the Buddhist monks in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, Taixu asserted in a parallel fashion:

Of their good points there are four: (1) They organize themselves into bodies, which by cooperation are capable of doing charity work or carrying out large scale education campaigns for the benefit of the public; (2) Japanese monks are better trained for the work of propagating the Buddhist religion; (3) they are patriotic and often render useful, though worldly, services to the country and the community; and (4) their minds being more susceptible to Western thoughts and ideals, they are capable of making the Buddhist teachings acceptable to the modern mind. Regarding their shortcomings: (1) they are less devout in their religious life and unable to undergo the austerities of a religious recluse. as can their brethren in China and Tibet; (2) they are more sectarian and have no unity among the different sects; (3) they are too patriotic and nationalistic to pay much attention to the Buddha's teachings of universal brotherhood; and (4) they learn too much of modern scientific studies as to tinge the Buddhist teachings they preach with a touch of Modernism. 20

In conclusion, cognizant of heightening concerns throughout East Asia about Japanese expansionism -- and perhaps aware that some in his own delegation remained suspicious of their hosts' motives -- Taixu implored members of the Buddhist assembly not to permit nationalism to divide them or governments to co-opt their religious tradition and institutions for their own purposes.21 Indeed, he called for new measures of ecumenical cooperation to explore together appropriate means for preaching the Dharma and increasing popular devotion and morality. He advocated the establishment of an international Buddhist university and also encouraged the organization of compassionate social services for the general public. These included programs for famine and disaster relief work, aid to the aged and disadvantaged, promotion of new industries, and construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, and utilities. If all these new programs could be established, Taixu asserted, the Buddhists' critically important global mission might be advanced throughout the world. The immediate task of Asian Buddhists, he argued, was to modernize their own tradition, to bring the "Supreme Light" to the present world of darkness, and "to propagate the Buddhist religion among the Europeans and Americans whose civilization has been responsible for bringing about a world in which sensual desires and animal passions were reigning supreme."22

Taixu considered the trip to Japan a successful one for the Chinese delegation. [t also presented him with the opportunity to travel around the country for several weeks after the conference to meet with prominent Japanese scholars such as Nanjio Bunyiu, Takakusu Junjire, and D. T. Suzuki. The editors of The Eastern Buddhist subsequently remarked, "The visit of Chinese Buddhists in such a number and under such a management never took place in the history of both countries, Japan and China, and this was surely a great event to be recorded in big red letters in the annals of Eastern Buddhism."23 Taixu's leadership even prompted Mizuno Baigye, who had worked closely with the Japanese Foreign Ministry in arranging the conference, to proclaim:

For Taixu the Buddhists of Japan are new colleagues and good partners for future efforts to spread East Asian culture throughout the world. Let us hope that Buddhists of both countries will take Taixu as their central paradigm and mutually hold on to their strong points and rectify their shortcomings in order that we might look forward to the propagation of Buddhism in all the world."

Declaring a third international Buddhist conference "a desideratum for world peace for humanity," a standing committee for future international conferences was appointed. Selected to represent China were Ma Jinxun, director-general of the China Buddhist Federation, Beijing, and Hu Ruilin, former governor of Fujian and the new director of the Chinese Buddhist Federation, Beijing. Appointed for Japan were Kubokawa Kyokiyo, director-general of the Japan Buddhist Federation, Tokyo, and Mizuno Baigye, president of the Shina Jiho (China Times). A small committee for cooperation in promoting Buddhist social welfare work was also appointed, consisting of Wang Yiting, manager of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Shanghai, and Watanabe Kaikyoku, member of the Board of Directors of the journal The Young East.25

Then thirty-five years old, Taixu was pleased with the accomplishments that these events represented in relation to his goal of increased international Buddhist cooperation. At the same time, according to Xuming, he was well aware that his enthusiasm for Buddhist ecumenism was not shared by all and that a new strategy was needed for promoting his Buddhist reform movement. Accordingly, after 1925, while continuing to promote Buddhist ecumenism in preparation for a more unified global mission, the Chinese master thought it increasingly important to address directly intellectual and religious leaden in the West. Xuming states that this new approach was reflected in the reformer's assertion that "if we want to constitute a new society based on right faith in the Buddhist Dharma, we should spread Buddhism as an international culture. And the preliminary step we have to take is to change the thinking of western intellectuals."26 What seemed a rather distant possibility for a Chinese Buddhist master who spoke no European languages became distinctly more real when, after the 1925 Tokyo conference, Dr. W H. von Solf, a German scholar serving at the time as ambassador to Japan, invited Taixu to visit Germany -- an invitation that, within a few years, the reformer was actually able to accept.

As significant as these mid-1920s international conferences were for Taixu's dream of an ecumenical Buddhist reform movement and a reenergized global mission, Welch's caution against an overly generous evaluation of the actual accomplishments of the World Buddhist Federation is well taken. As a viable organization, both the national and world federations functioned for only two years. A subsequent international conference, initially planned for Beijing, was never convened. Welch observes that, from the very beginning, the Federation was always greater on paper than in reality:

Elected to the council of the World Buddhist Federation in 1924 was Reginald Johnston, who had once published a book: about Chinese Buddhism, but was hardly a Buddhist himself. In fact, he had refused to attend the conference in 1923, as had Liang Qichao, who was also listed as a council member -- an honor of which he was perhaps unaware at the time. It seems almost certain that three other council members (Dixian,Yinguang, and Ouyang Jingwu) had not authorized the use of their names, since they were not on good terms with Taixu.

In brief, the World Buddhist Federation fell somewhat short of representing either Buddhism or the world. It was essentially a meeting between the Japanese and Taixu. Yet it was a significant step ahead in his career, for it showed that he had learned how to create organizations on paper and how to think: on a global scale.27


In the years immediately following the 1925 Tokyo conference, Taixu became increasingly discouraged by the ongoing bloody civil war in China. In fact, the warfare temporarily forced both his Wuchang Buddhist Institute and the Right Faith Buddhist Society of Hankou to cease functioning in October 1926, when the Nationalist army took Wuhan.28 Taixu was further disheartened by the aggressive, insensitive pursuit of economic and political interests in China both by Japan and by western nations. In reaction to foreign domination of Chinese interests, rising winds of Chinese nationalism swept the country in the mid-1920s. Growing popular resentment toward all forms of imperialism contributed to nationwide protests and occasional strikes, as in the May Thirtieth Incident of 1925, complicating cooperative ventures with the Japanese.29

Taixu was troubled, of course, by the failure of the World Buddhist Federation to maintain its promising ecumenical work. He was disappointed as well by the poor response to his efforts with the World Buddhist New Youth Society and its proposed World Propaganda Team (Shijie xuanchuan dui), neither of which was successful.30 His cooperative work with Zhang Taiyan, Wang Yiting, and others to establish an All-Asia Buddhist Education Association (Quanya fohua jiaoyu she), later renamed with the less ambitious title of the Chinese Buddhist Education Association (Zhonghua fohua jiaoyu she), also came to nothing.3I These ecumenical failures contributed to Taixu' s conviction that he needed to direct some of his energies toward finding ways to engage western intellectuals directly in considering the religio-philosophical heritage of Mahayana Buddhism.

As noted earlier, to Taixu the West represented a form of human civilization that was simultaneously fascinating and open to severe criticism. He wanted very much to visit Europe and the United States, not only to experience firsthand the vitality and ethos of western technological societies, but also, through his presentations in the West, to counter preconceptions about Chinese Buddhism that were prevalent there. Prejudicial views of the religion, he argued, were the result of Christian triumphalism, oversimplifications, and simple misunderstandings. Their attitudinal and relational consequences were quite hurtful to Chinese Buddhists and harmful to chances for world peace. Indeed, Reichelt once observed that, when discussing such misconceptions, "the voice and burning eyes of Taixu were witness to a very real pain and grief."32 Therefore, an important aim for the reformer became spreading the news throughout Europe and the United States about Chinese Buddhism's modern revival -- and about the possibility of a new global Buddhist movement that could ultimately transform not only East Asia but the entire world.

In a remarkable 1927 interview with Clarence H. Hamilton, Taixu shared his dream of a modern Buddhist mission to the West. During the discussion, the monk asked Hamilton to state his own perspective on an issue that Lewis Lancaster has in recent years referred to as the " portability" of Chinese Buddhism.33 Taixu had been contemplating the difficulties of cross-cultural mission and how to distinguish Chinese Buddhism's cultural "Chineseness" from its Buddhist essence. After describing Taixu's appearance -- his full mustache and horn-rimmed spectacles, round cheeks and boyish countenance, medium height, robust build, and "dark, thoughtful eyes" -- Hamilton recounts a quite interesting dialogue:

"Do you think," he [Taixu] said, "that Buddhism will penetrate and spread in the West?"

The question came as a surprise. I did not know that Taixu included the West in his purposes, though I had long known of the universal claims of Buddhism itself. But after all, it was natural, considering that he is an ardent propagandist as well as reformer. I essayed an answer.

"If the truth that is in Buddhism," I said, "can be put in a form that the Western mind can understand it has a chance of spreading, as does all truth eventually." Then I thought of the images and elaborate ceremonies I had witnessed in the temples and added: "But I do not believe that the forms and rites of the religion as these have been developed in the Orient can ever be taken over by the West any more than it is likely that purely Western forms of Christianity will survive in the East."

"Forms and ceremonies," the monk replied, "are but incidental. It is the truth that matters." ...

Then he told us that at the present time in Beijing National University where he had given a series of lectures there are seven or eight young men who are carefully studying Western knowledge and languages with the dominant purpose of fitting themselves to lecture on Buddhism before the people of the West. When' said in reply that Buddhism as a philosophy is already studied in Western university centers, that even as a religion it has some temples in California, and that Japanese monks have already been known to lecture there he replied eagerly, "Yes, that is well known to me. But Buddhism in California is for the Asian peoples residing there. Our purpose is not to spread the doctrine of the Buddha before those who already know it, but to carry it far and wide among the people of the West who yet are ignorant, particularly of the Northern Buddhism such as we have in China and Japan."

"But you say," he went on, his thought still busy with his first question, "that the truth of Buddhism must be made comfortable to the Western mind. Let me ask if you think that the Western mind is by nature favorable or unfavorable to Buddhist truth." ...

"I do not think," I said to Taixu, "that the dominant values cherished by the Western mind are very favorable to Buddhism as I understand it. The West values striving, achievement, reformation in the concrete outer world of nature and human affairs. But Buddhism seems to me to exalt contemplation, meditation, the quest for inward peace and poise -- a type of achievement indeed, hut one which is subjective and mystic, which tends to still the restlessness of endeavor in the external world. That Buddhism could appeal to a majority in the West is most doubtful. There are those, however, in the West who find its dominant tendencies too much for them. Such find the thought of ceaseless striving a burden and long for peace and rest. Such are likely to have the mystic taste most sensitive to the values of Buddhism."

A graver look deepened on the thoughtful countenance of the monk when my words were interpreted to him, as though some oft-recurring but not very happy reflection were stirred. "But has not Western striving," he said, "resulted in a European War? It would seem to me that after such an experience a larger proportion of the Western people must feel the need for something like Buddhism. Surely after such a catastrophe they will the more willingly listen to us. Mere striving cannot be the final word." 14

While Taixu considered these matters and contemplated how to present the Dharma to western intellectuals, he was able to arrange a meeting with Chiang Kai-shek in Nanjing on June 23, 1928, seeking his support for a national organization of Buddhist monks and laymen. Chiang had just returned from a confrontation with Japanese forces at Ji'nan in Shandong province as the Northern Expedition advanced on Beijing against the last remaining warlord, Zhang Zuolin (1873-1928). By the time of their meeting, the Nationalist forces had captured Beijing, and Zhang had been killed trying to escape. Chiang believed that he was finally in a position to consolidate his power, unite China, and progressively establish his country as a world power. The general, who would soon marry Soong Meiling in a Christian ceremony, and who became a Christian convert himself in 1930, listened attentively to Taixu's assertions that a modernized, reformed Buddhism had a major role to play in China and the world. The Mahayana Buddhist master stated:

Buddhism is an expression of the highest ideals of the people of the world. In particular its devotion to saving the world has no equal among other forms of learning or religion. [Yet] it must adapt to the ideas of our time and to the contemporary life of our country. Then and only then can the religion be promoted without any obstacles. This time of beginning political tutelage is a time of reform. The best idea is to establish a single Buddhist organization able to unify both monastic and lay followers so that it may benefit the citizens' prosperity, the country's strength, the government's orderly rule. and common goodness.35

Chiang commended Taixu for his remarks and introduced him to other government officials, who at that point were not at all encouraging about a specifically "religious" association (zongjiao hui). According to Yinshun, they suggested instead a more "timely" consideration of a Buddhist "study" organization (foxue hui). As a result, on July 28. 1928. Taixu established the Chinese Buddhist Study Association (Zhongguo foxue hoi), hoping that it might develop into a truly representative national body. Although this did not happen,16 soon after his meeting with Chiang Kai-shek and other Guomindang officials, Taixu was able to use these contacts, as well as his ambassadorial invitation co visit Germany, to obtain official support for a major tour of Europe, the United States, and Japan. He departed in August 1928 and did not return until late April 1929.


As Dongchu points out, the tour did give the reformer an opportunity to tell interested westerners about the Buddhist revival in China and to discuss his proposal for a World Buddhist University (Shijie fohua daxue). later renamed the World Buddhist Institute (Shijie foxue yuan), an idea that Taixu had first put forth in 1925. Similar proposals had been made by others about the same time, including Bruno Petzold, who at the 1925 East Asian Buddhist Conference in Tokyo had also urged the creation of an "Institute of Mahayana Buddhism" designed "to investigate Mahayana Buddhism and explain it to the Western world."37 Similarly, the German diplomat-scholar W H. von Solf, acknowledging the need for westerners to learn more about eastern Buddhism and its potential contribution to human community, proposed "a comprehensive Mahayana institute in Tokyo or Kyoto."38 The structure of Taixu's proposed educational institution was first outlined as shown in Table 2. Xuming notes that the idea was later refined, and the hoped-for institute restructured, as indicated in Table 3.

The editors of LiJixu dashi huanyou ji (A Record of the Venerable Master Taixu's World Travel) have documented how Taixu was warmly greeted as an important dignitary by diplomats of the Chinese legations in Europe and the United States. He was photographed with government and civic leaders and provided with funds for donations to host organizations. On September 15, 1928, he was first welcomed to Paris, where he was to spend more than thirty days. On September 27 he addressed a group of scholars who had invited him to speak on the relationship of Buddhism to science, philosophy, and religion. He took the opportunity to begin his assault on the many misconceptions of Buddhism that he judged to be prevalent in the West. During his speech, Taixu remarked:

Common people consider Buddhism to be concerned with a negative emptiness. However, this is really not so. Buddhism is concerned with developing our perspectives on human life until they become perfect. Thus, it concerns the never ending development and progress of our cosmological nature. Therefore, Buddhism is most complete, while the final result of the theories of all non-Buddhist schools will, on the contrary, come to nothing.

If we are able to understand the truth concerning the whole universe -- that there is neither birth nor death, beginning nor end -- then we will recognize that if the Absolute is a divine spirit (shen), then we are also divine spirits; if a god (shangdi), then we are also gods; if a Buddha (fo), then we are also buddhas.39

During the final days of September and the early days of October, Taixu focused on his forthcoming lectures but also accepted several invitations to meet with diplomats, with local Buddhist leaders concerned with how better to organize themselves in France, and even with the Roman Catholic archbishop, who wanted to discuss the developing anti-religion movement in China and issues related to religious freedom. On October 14, he delivered an important lecture at the Musee Guimet, sponsored jointly by the Association Franco-Chinoise and Association Francaise des Amis de l'Orient [Franco-Chinese and French Association of Friends of the Orient], entitled "Le Bouddhisme dans l'histoire: Ses nouvelles tendances" (A History of Buddhism and Its New Movements; Ch. Foxue yuanliu ji qi xin yundong), at which he was introduced as "Son Eminence Taixu, President de l'Union Bouddhiste Chinoise." ["His Eminence Taixu, President of the Chinese Buddhist Union."]40

Table 2. The World Buddhist University

World Buddhist University (Shijie fohua daxue)
Secular Studies / Religious Studies
Western Studies / East Asian Studies / Doctrinal Studies / Ethical Studies
Science Department / Religious Studies Department / Nikaya Studies Department / Vinaya Studies Department
Philosophy Department / Political Science Department / Wisdom Studies Department / Meditation Studies Department
Arts and Literature Department / Arts and Literature Department / Yogacara Studies Department / Mantrayana Studies Department

Source: Dongchu, Zhongguo fojiao jindai shi (A History of Modern Chinese Buddhism). 1:302.

Table 3. The World Buddhist Institute

World Buddhist Institute (Shijie foxue yuan)
Religious Research / Doctrinal Research / Practical studies / Attainment studies
The collection and study of religious implements used in Buddhist practice in various countries / Nikaya Buddhist studies, based primarily on Indian and Southeast Asian sources / Vinaya studies, focusing on the bodhisattva precepts / Studies of faith
The editing and study of historical materials on Buddhism from various countries / Mahayana Buddhist studies, based primarily on Indian and Tibetan source4s / Meditational studies, focus on the Chan tradition / Studies of morality
The examination and editing of Buddhist texts from various countries / Chinese Buddhist studies, based on the synthetic schools of China and Japan / Esoteric studies, with extensive research into mantras / Studies of concentration (samadhi)
The preparation of Buddhist literature from various countries for publication / Studies of new European and American forms of Buddhism / Pure Land studies on various heavens and pure lands / Studies of wisdom

Source: Xuming, Taixu dashi shengping shiji (A Record of the Life of the Venerable Master Taixu), 27, and Manzhi and Mochan, eds., Taixu dashi huanyou ji (A Record of the Venerable Master Taixu's World Travel). 141-142.
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Part 2 of 3

On October 20, a meeting of interested friends was convened at the Musee Guimet for an initial conference about his ideas for a "World Buddhist Institute" (Shijie foxue yuan). According to Yinshun, Taixu donated 5,000 French francs at the time to support its consideration.41 The subsequent public announcement of the "Project d'Organization d'un Institut International Bouddhiste" ["Organization Project of an International Buddhist Institute"] highlighted the universal charity and moral discipline of Buddhism's nearly five hundred million adherents. It emphasized the historic and continuing role of the Buddhist community in Asia, as well as the new hope that surrounded Taixu's great efforts to spread the Dharma in the West.

Buddhism's foundational principles of wisdom and compassion, the announcement claimed, would help alleviate human suffering throughout the world and eliminate evils such as war, poverty, prostitution, and alcoholism. The bulletin also revealed that although a permanent site had not yet been selected for the headquarters of the new institute, which already had branches in Nanjing and Singapore, they would eventually be located in "une grande capitale, centre cosmopolite intellectual et artistique." ["a great capital, intellectual and artistic cosmopolitan center."]42 Taixu had been successful in fostering some excitement and international competition for the site of the institution's headquarters. The provisional committee that was announced for Paris included some prominent scholars, such as Alfred Foucher, Marcel Granet, Rene Grousset, Louis Laloy, Sylvain Levi, Jean Przyluski, and Louis Renou, although questions were soon raised about the legitimacy of the list.43 The Paris chapter of the World Buddhist Institute, which was to become "Les Amis du Bouddhisme," was subsequently established with Grace Constant Lounsbery (1877-1965) as its founding president.44

by Grace Constant Lounsbery
Poems of Revolt, and Satan Unbound

O Thou Mother, and mistress, and muse,
Through the desperate days of the year,
When the ghosts of dead hours haunt the hearth,
With compassion and comfort be near.

In the whip of a merciless wind,
How the world with its weariness writhes,
While the barren tree silently points
To the fugitive moon in the skies.

All my heart is an ember consumed,
And my youth is a garment outworn,
For the roses of love that is fled,
In the present have put forth a thorn.

In the pitfalls and snares of the past
I have fallen, and sinned against thee,
I have bowed to the yoke of the world,
I thy poet, thy chosen, born free.

I have clothed me in manifold lies
That my days might be wrapped in their ease,
I have hated thy truth, I have strayed
Through the perilous pathways of peace.

I have murmured the maxims of men
With the lazy indulgence of slaves,
I have walked with the fool, I have hid
From thy light in the dark of thy caves.

I have said, "They are legion, alas,
"Shall I war with impossible things,
"Shall I follow the path of the sun,
"To the sound of invisible wings?"

"For men move as the universe moves
"In a circle that does not advance,
"Shall I tilt with our destiny, dare
"Risk the delicate shaft of my lance?"

But the hope of my heart has betrayed
All the reasoned reflection of man,
Shall the soldier seek peace at the hearth
When the battle cry rouses the van?

In the night, in the terrible night
Comes the moaning and mourning of men;
And the sound of the serpent of Strife,
Like the hissing of snakes in a den.

For in heaven, alas, is no god
While a victim is writhing in hell,
Yea, and who shall cry out in his pride,
"Though the world weep, with me all is well"?

Therefore, out of the rapture of rest,
I who fled am returned unto thee,
With a song and the sword thou hast blest
To do battle, till all men be free.

Even were it a dream, then the dream
Is in truth worth a cycle of pain.
Who shall say that the sun shall not gleam
Behind torrents and tempests of rain!

On October 22, Taixu delivered another major lecture, sponsored by the Societe Theosophique de France [Theosophical Society of France], entitled "Expose concis des principes du Bouddhisme Chinois." ["Concise outlines the principles of Chinese Buddhism."] As with earlier presentations in France, Taixu's effectiveness was severely hampered by a translator apparently ill-prepared to deal with the master's thick Zhejiang dialect, frequent extemporaneous remarks, and Buddhist technical vocabulary. 45 Moreover. the Chinese reformer clearly underestimated the level of sophistication in Buddhist studies of the majority of those in his audiences. Most of his listeners were interested in a carefully crafted description of, and thoughtful reflection on, the practice of contemporary Chinese Buddhism. Taixu's principal aim was to present the essence of Mahayana to western audiences in their own religio-philosophical terms, highlighting the religion's compatibility with modern, scientific patterns of thought while downplaying its coincidental East Asian cultural garb. As a result, the perception of many in the audience was that Taixu was more concerned with impressing westerners with his knowledge of science and philosophy-which surely he was -- than in discussing in detail, as they had hoped, the theoretical, cultic, and institutional dimensions of the revitalization of Buddhism in China.

Nevertheless, Taixu was able to offer a brief synopsis of his vision for a modern form of Buddhism that could effectively serve as the unifying ideology for a global civilization. Even in his October 14 Paris lecture at the Musee Guimet, with its rather elementary review of the history of Buddhism and its development in China-which would surely have bored an informed audience even if the translation into French had been felicitous -- the Chinese reformer did speak briefly of his own efforts at Buddhist reform and mention his plans for a World Buddhist Institute. Emphasizing Buddhism's norms for social responsibility, he claimed that the ancient religion could become the foundation of a modern global culture by synthesizing the traditional eastern emphasis on developing human sentiments and the traditional western emphasis on developing human reason:

I have devoted myself to the study of Buddhism for more than twenty years. After ten years of study and examination, I attained the marvelous enlightenment mind of the buddhas, which allowed me to understand thoroughly all of the schools of Mahayana and Nikaya Buddhism, as well as all of the theories of religion, philosophy, and science. From a universal and profound study of the realm of human ideas, I know the great usefulness of the whole of Buddhism, which used to be overshadowed by each separate people's prejudices and unique practices so that it would not be realized as a universal culture.

However, now because of the trend of the world's uniform, mechanized culture and the developments in communication, we ought to be able to propagate clearly and distinctly a Buddhism which advances beyond all kinds of racial and tribal obstacles of a territorial era and is able to blend thoroughly every people's culture in both East and West so as to make Buddhism a guide for all human thought and action ....

Moreover, we may consider that now all the people of the world are living in a time of great interdependence, when all in the world are compatriots, born into one body, as nearly everyone already knows. So if you benefit another person, then you will have benefited both of you. If you harm another person, then you will have harmed both of you. If you use force to destroy the world's peace in striving for your own private victory, not only is this not benevolence (ren), it is also the height of ignorance. Therefore, I wish to explicate the true Buddhist doctrines of no-ego and mutual becoming, so as to enlighten all the peoples of the world, and change their thoughts of competing with one another in order to struggle for survival into thoughts of helping one another in order to attain coexistence, co-prosperity, and peace. Consequently I have begun to expand a new Buddhist movement for the entire world.46


I know about letting the world alone, not interfering. I do not know about running things. Letting things alone: so that men will not blow their nature out of shape! Not interfering, so that men will not be changed into something they are not! When men do not get twisted and maimed beyond recognition, when they are allowed to live -- the purpose of government is achieved.

Too much pleasure? Yang has too much influence. Too much suffering? Yin has too much influence. When one of these outweighs the other, it is as if the seasons came at the wrong times. The balance of cold and heat is destroyed; the body of man suffers.

Too much happiness, too much unhappiness, out of due time, men are thrown off balance. What will they do next? Thought runs wild. No control. They start everything, finish nothing. Here competition begins, here the idea of excellence is born, and robbers appear in the world.

Now the whole world is not enough reward for the "good," nor enough punishment for the "wicked." Since now the world itself is not big enough for reward or punishment. From the time of the Three Dynasties men have been running in all directions. How can they find time to be human?

You train your eye and your vision lusts after color. You train your ear, and you long for delightful sound. You delight in doing good, and your natural kindness is blown out of shape. You delight in righteousness, and you become righteous beyond all reason. You overdo liturgy, and you turn into a ham actor. Overdo your love of music, and you play corn. Love of wisdom leads to wise contriving. Love of knowledge leads to faultfinding. If men would stay as they really are, taking or leaving these eight delights would make no difference. But if they will not rest in their right state, the eight delights develop like malignant tumors. The world falls into confusion. Since men honor these delights, and lust after them, the world has gone stone-blind.

When the delight is over, they still will not let go of it: they surround its memory with ritual worship, they fall on their knees to talk about it, play music and sing, fast and discipline themselves in honor of the eight delights. When the delights become a religion, how can you control them?

The wise man, then, when he must govern, knows how to do nothing. Letting things alone, he rests in his original nature. He who will govern will respect the governed no more than he respects himself. If he loves his own person enough to let it rest in its original truth, he will govern others without hurting them. Let him keep the deep drives in his own guts from going into action. Let him keep still, not looking, not hearing. Let him sit like a corpse, with the dragon power alive all around him. In complete silence, his voice will be like thunder. His movements will be invisible, like those of a spirit, but the powers of heaven will go with them. Unconcerned, doing nothing, he will see all things grow ripe around him. Where will he find time to govern?

-- The Way of Chuang Tzu, by Thomas Merton

During his visit to England, which began on October 23, 1928, Taixu spoke with a number of scholars interested in East Asian culture and in aspects of the Buddhist tradition, such as the humanist philosopher Bertrand Russell, who had spent almost a year, in 1920- 1921, in China. On November 4, Taixu delivered a lecture at 'he London chapter of the Maha Bodhi Society entitled "The Relation of Nikaya to Mahayana Buddhism"; the next evening he regaled the Buddhist Lodge in London on "The Necessity of Cooperation in Buddhist Research." In a subsequent London address, he spoke of the need for the World Buddhist Institute to explore the importance of a scientific Buddhism (kexue de foxue) that is in accord with the advanced knowledge of modern science, an experientially verified Buddhism (shizheng de foxue) ,hat actually demonstrates its truths, a human-centered Buddhism (rensheng de foxue) that is concerned with the progressive improvement of human life, and a global Buddhism (shijie de foxue) that is intent on becoming, through mission, the single visionary and ethical guide for all people.47

After a brief visit to Belgium, from November 6 through 15, Taixu traveled to several cities in Germany for a series of meetings and lectures. Not surprisingly, one of his concerns there was to speak out against extreme expressions of nationalism. He was alarmed by insensitive, belligerent forms of nationalism that could pull the world into another global war. Although he made no direct reference to the government or to the political situation in Germany at the time, which would have been offensive to some of his hosts, Taixu was surely aware of the timeliness of such a message in view of the growing Nazi movement in the country fueled by Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, published just a few years earlier. In contradistinction to a divisive, fanatical nationalism, Taixu called for the type of nationalism that he claimed Sun Yat-sen had advocated-that is, a nationalism messing equality, peace, and cooperation among all peoples of the earth. This one specific type of nationalism (minzu zhuyi), he asserted, was essentially the same as internationalism (shijie zhuyi) and was a principal aim of the world Buddhist movement.48 When discussing World War I with an official of Germany's Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Taixu also remarked:

In the past, Europe's foundation has been religious faith, which has nurtured morality. However, because of the advancement of contemporary scientific knowledge, 'he religion in which Europe formerly had faith [i.e., Christianity] is now difficult to maintain. Therefore, from the perspective of a scientific intellect, Europe ought to attain the highest and most perfect Buddhist Dharma as the new faith of a modern Europe, so as to press forward in the cultivation of morality.49

Taixu's major address at the China Institute in Frankfurt, on December 14, 1928, was announced as "Die Historischen und Modernen Richtungen im Buddhismus" ["The historical and modern directions in Buddhism"] and later published as "Buddhistische Studien der Buddhismus in Geschichte und Gegenwart." ["Buddhist Studies of Buddhism Past and Present."] It was virtually the same address as his October 14 lecture in Paris. After detailing Buddhism's development in three primary cultural centers even after its disappearance from India -- namely, in Ceylon and Southeast Asia, in Tibet, and in China, Korea, and Japan -- Taixu spoke of the exciting potential that existed for Buddhists to reach out in the modern era, as cultures converged, and transform the entire world. Once again, he outlined a "Buddhism for human life" (rensheng fojiao), emphasizing the importance of adopting the ten Buddhist precepts as the disciplinary foundation of a society concerned with achieving true happiness. He spoke of a "scientific Buddhism" that freely acknowledges the insights and gifts of modern science but is able to perfect scientific theories. Taixu also tried to explain what he meant by an " experientially verified Buddhism" (the term in the German text is "Der bewuste Buddhismus," or a "conscious Buddhism") that discerns the ultimate truth in the silent illumination of an expanded consciousness beyond spoken or written words. Finally, he emphasized a "global Buddhism" that would become the indispensable crucible in which the cultural tendencies of East and West, intuition and reason would fuse to form the religio-philosophical foundations of a universal civilization. "This is an outline of our new Buddhist movement," he concluded. "In order to realize these principles, we have developed a project for an institute for Buddhist research. If you see in this an appeal in harmony with your innermost consciousness, then come join with us!" 50

Taixu was subsequently elected to the executive committee of the German Research Academy for Chinese Culture. The respected sinologist Richard Wilhelm, acknowledging the statute of those scholars listed on the provisional French committee for the World Buddhist Institute, wrote to his German colleagues to solicit participation on a committee there. Noting the significance of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition as a religious force past and present, Wilhelm stressed the fact that the international institute being founded by the Venerable Taixu was not "ein religioses Propaganda Institut" ["a religious Propaganda Institute"] but "ein Institut wissenschaftlicher Forschung." ["an institute of scientific research"] 51 In a brief description of Taixu's efforts, soon published in the scholarly journal Sinica -- which included a fine pen-drawn portrait of the Chinese reformer -- Wilhelm praised Taixu for his reform-minded organizational skills, his global vision, his modern humanitarian emphasis on religious instruction. and his impressive knowledge of western philosophy and science, which "Buddhism could both promote and further enlighten." 52

On January 30, 1929, Taixu left Germany and returned to Paris, where he participated in several meetings before departing for the United States just over a week later. When he arrived in New York on February 22, 1929,Taixu began a busy schedule of meetings with scholars and religious leaders. On March 5, he was a featured speaker, along with the Confucian scholar Chen Huanzhang, at an "East and West" luncheon in New York City.53 The New York Times reported the following day that attending representatives of both oriental and western religio-philosophical traditions "pledged their support to the associations known as the Threefold Movement, the Union of East and West, the League of Neighbors, and the Fellowship of Faiths, in its program to promote world peace and racial, religious, and cultural unity."54 The Chinese reformer was quoted as speaking of Buddhism as "the tolerant, receptive, universal faith which is essential to the realization of world unity, in itself a great union of broad-spirited people." 55 Taixu also lectured at Yale University, the Hartford Seminary Foundation, Northwestern University, the Berkeley School of Religion, and other places. A5 Welch indicates, he spoke in the impressive red robes and regalia of a Chinese Dharma master and was generally well received. 56 Taixu appealed to his audiences for help with his efforts, flattering the Americans as "pioneers in the movement for world peace":

My ambition in life is to increase human fellowship, virtue, and intelligence, and to achieve universal peace and happiness. In order to realize this wish, it is necessary to effect an integration of civilization, both ancient and modern, Oriental and Occidental. and to create a universal civilization for this progressive development of mankind. For this reason, I have been traveling in various parts of the world, endeavoring to study the civilizations of the various peoples, and to find the elements of unity.

The English, French, and German schools with whom I have had the pleasure of conferring. all agree that Buddhism is a very essential foundation for the unification of the various civilizations. The tendency in the East to emphasize religious and ethical contemplation, and the tendency in the West to emphasize material achievement, are both one-sided. Buddhism, on the other hand, teaches the harmonious relationship between man and the universe. It removes the barriers between the different civilizations and will hasten the proper development of their peculiar virtues. It will promote mutual understanding of the different peoples and secure a universal peace.

Furthermore, mankind living amidst scientific discoveries and material development needs an ideal and faith to improve its felicity, virtue. and intelligence. The medieval conceptions of faith have come into contradiction with scientific thought and are no longer adequate. Buddhism, on the other hand. is entirely in accord with science and satisfies the need of the present generation.

But during its long history, Buddhism has become a complicated subject of study. An investigation into the doctrines of the various sects and the teachings in the different languages requires international cooperation of all who are interested.

Buddhist scholars in England, France. Germany. Belgium. Switzerland. Holland, Ceylon, Japan, and other places, as well as those in China, have already outlined a plan for the organization of an international Buddhist Institute and have already established a provisional bureau in Paris. The American people are the pioneers in the movement of world peace and will undoubtedly give their strong cooperation toward the early realization of these plans. The location of the projected institute may be in Europe. in America. or in China. The French friends have already offered a suitable location in Paris. I welcome opinions and suggestions regarding this contemplated project.57

When in Chicago, Taixu was pleased to receive word of an important meeting that had recently been held at the Buddhist Lodge in London. On March 1, 1929, in response to his earlier visit to England, representatives of various organizations (the Burma Society, the Japanese Students' Association, the Buddhist Lodge, etc.) had formed a "London Buddhist Joint Committee." The committee announced that its principal purpose was to represent in London the World Buddhist Institute founded by Taixu, although it would also be at liberty to represent in that city "any other Buddhist movement which may subsequently be formed."58 Inspired by the ecumenical and missionary message of the Chinese reformer, the elected chairman of the Joint Committee, the noted jurist and Buddhist scholar Christmas Humphreys, outlined an entirely new and energetic program of cooperative activities in Great Britain and Ireland. A number of resolutions were passed calling for new measures of organization to propagate Buddhism among various immigrant communities, as well as to sponsor new lecture series and small group meetings to "arouse interest in the Buddhist movement among Londoners." 59

Taixu, then thirty-nine years old, returned to China from the United States in late April 1929, arriving in Shanghai feeling rather optimistic about the future of his program of modernization and reform. He was encouraged by the response that he had received in the West to his plans for a World Buddhist Institute and to his call for greater cooperation among Buddhists around the globe, and obviously pleased that many had recognized him as a religious leader with both a vision for the modern reformation of Buddhism and a realistic plan for carrying it out. A. C. March, of the Buddhist Lodge of London, had concluded, for example, that "Taixu is a very practical man. He is no dreamer .... Now that China has definitely entered the work of establishing Buddhism throughout the world as a universal religion, we may expect great results to follow."60

Despite such estimations and expectations, Taixu's plans for an international center for Buddhist studies were never realized, however. Because of continuing rivalries within the Chinese sangha, lack of sufficient funding in difficult economic times both at home and abroad, and the chaos of the bitter Sino-Japanese War that marked the beginning of World War II in East Asia, the research institute for which Taixu had labored never materialized in China, France, Germany, or elsewhere. The Buddhist master did rename the library of his seminary in Wuchang "The Library of the World Buddhist Institute," and he and his disciples often referred to some of the seminaries that he controlled as special units of the envisioned international organization. Yet to Taixu's great disappointment, he was never able to capitalize on the promising foundations that he had begun to build.


Before Taixu found another opportunity for international travel -- ten years later, in 1939 -- two significant developments had further dimmed his initial optimism about modernizing the Buddhist community. First, Taixu lost his bid to shape the work of the Chinese Buddhist Association founded in Shanghai in April 1929, in response to renewed threats to the Buddhist establishment in China that had arisen while he was en route back from the United States. In addition to sporadic appropriations of Buddhist property in central China, there was Professor Tai Shuangqiu of National Central University's influential proposal, in May 1928, for a broad confiscation of Buddhist institutions and properties for educational purposes -- an old idea that the Ministry of the Interior was more than happy to reconsider as the Guomindang improved its political and military position. Dongchu notes that the Buddhist response was organized primarily under the leadership of Yuanying, the disciple of Eight Fingers with whom Taixu had been friends since 1906:

Convened in 1928 in Nanjing was a National Conference on Education (Quanguo jiaoyu huiyi), which proposed the transformation of monasteries and temples everywhere into schools, and the use of all the monasteries' properties as an endowment. Because of this, Yuanying began to organize the Jiangsu-Zhejiang Buddhist Federation (Jiang Zhe fojiao lianhe hui), of which he was elected president, and on behalf of which he put forward petitions to the capital. Eventually, he was successful.61

Although Professor Tai's sweeping proposal was not adopted, in part perhaps because of Yuanying's efforts, the government did soon effect, in January 1929, the "Regulations for the Control of Monasteries and Temples" (Simiao guanli tiaoli). According to Yinshun, in response to the government's action, on April 12, 1929 the Jiangsu Zhejiang Buddhist Federation convened representatives from seventeen provinces in Shanghai for a National Conference of Buddhist Representatives (Quanguo fojiao daibiao huiyi). The result was the establishment of the Chinese Buddhist Association (Zhongguo fojiao hui).62 Yuanying was elected president. Taixu was elected to the standing committee of the association after his return to China later that month. Yet although earlier in his career the reformer had formed a special bond with Yuanying for jointly revitalizing Chinese Buddhism, he was never able to work cooperatively with his older and more conservative colleague. Dongchu claims that two of the reasons for this were Yuanying's inability to accept change and his ambiguous and vacillating posture on Buddhist modernization. "Strictly speaking," Dongchu asserts, "the primary reason why Yuanying and Taixu could not cooperate resulted from the fact that sometimes Yuanying displayed a sympathetic attitude with regard to Buddhist reform and sometimes an antagonistic one."63

According to the government's revised legislation, passed in December 1929, "Regulations for the Supervision of Monasteries and Temples" (Jiandu simiao tiaoli), the authority of the Chinese Buddhist Association, along with its local affiliated associations, was newly recognized to address questions of property ownership and financial accountability. Nevertheless, Taixu was not pleased with the overall direction of the national organization. Finally resigning from the standing committee, Taixu directly attacked the association's record when its third national conference convened on April 10, 1931:

Now that the [immediate problem] of confiscating monastery property to support educational ventures has been defused, if one brings up again the idea of reorganizing the sangha and its monasteries in order to establish new educational ventures, etc., one is considered to be making a nuisance of oneself .... What is called the general office of the Chinese Buddhist Association has on its staff not a single monk or Buddhist layman of correct faith. If this is so, how can it constitute the most important organization of Buddhists in the whole country, and how will it be able to gain the trust of all of our country's Buddhists and to promote Buddhist interests? Now, I would say if the Chinese Buddhist Association wishes to continue: (1) it must carefully select talented and moral monks and Buddhist laymen of right faith for its standing committee and its office staff. Twice each month, it should report the association's business for review by the general administrative committee and each provincial Buddhist association, so that its affairs are based on open examination; (2) at the very least, it ought to collect normal dues of $30,000, so that besides the standing committee and the office staff having stable operating funds, it can also produce not less than 10,000 copies of the association's newsletter and also provide for the urgently needed "All-China Training Class for Monastic Staff Concerning the Business Affairs of all Buddhist Associations." ... If we cannot rise to meet the challenge, we ought simply to close up the Chinese Buddhist Association. I wish that we could first become determined about these things, then afterwards hold another election of officers.64

When new elections were held for the executive committee of the association, the forty-one-year-old Taixu and his more reformist-minded colleagues -- Renshan. Wang Yiting, and Xie Zhuchen -- dominated the committee. In light of this development, Yuanying and the more conservative leaders promptly resigned. Taixu and his group immediately chose to move the offices of the association from Shanghai to more friendly territory, the Pilu si in Nanjing. From there, during the months of late spring, the reformer carried on a busy schedule of lectures, including one before the Young Men's Christian Association. However, with the resignations, charges that the April elections were invalid, and, most importantly, a movement by uncooperative conservative conservative leaders and their constituencies to withhold financial support, the executive committee was finally forced to acknowledge that it had no way to proceed.65 Conceding the hopelessness of the circumstances, Taixu resigned on June 3, 1931, with a bitter denunciation of those who sought to defend the status quo against any serious attempt to reform or modernize the practice of Chinese Buddhism. As he remarked, "There is no call for me to waste any more of my energy on the Chinese Buddhist Association."66

When the standing committee met on June 14 to consider these developments. it was Taixu's lay disciple Wang Yiting who tried to mediate the impasse. Wang recommended, first, that those conservative leaders who had resigned be reappointed and politely asked to serve once again. Second, he suggested that the official headquarters be moved back to Shanghai, to be managed by Yuanying with the personal assistance of Wang himself. Taixu would be asked to manage the branch office in Nanjing, with the help of Xie Zhuchen. As Yinshun observes. with the ultimate acceptance of these surprising proposals, "Taixu's efforts with the Chinese Buddhist Association were completely negated .... [Moreover,] because Yuanying opposed any Buddhist reform. the relationship between Taixu and Yuanying could never thereafter be restored."67 Disappointed, Taixu turned his attention in other directions, hoping that, in time, his reformist agenda would receive broader support within the Chinese sangha.
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Although politically defeated in his efforts with the Chinese Buddhist Association and frustrated by conservative Buddhist masters who criticized him, Taixu continued his multifaceted work with his own enthusiastic disciples. encouraging evangelistic preaching, teaching, and social service ministries. In a report published in the China Christian Yearbook, 1932-1933, Reichelt described only one of a number of what he termed "Buddhist revival meetings" that had been organized by the reformer and his students during the previous year. Providing readers with a sense of how these events were staged, and some idea of their effectiveness, Reichelt wrote:

I will give my impression of one of the Buddhist revivals as held during the last year. I select the Wuhan centre, more specially the city of Hankou. Taixu spent several weeks there in the summer of 1932. He was accompanied by some of his best disciples, and as he had sent in advance from the Wuhan centre some of his strongest and best followers, the field was well prepared.

The lectures and group meetings were mostly held in the Buddhist layman's Association Building (Fojiao hui) and the daily attendance was very good: 500-700 every day. The lectures were usually held in the afternoon. It was a remarkable sight to see the type of people who came. The majority were men, from various walks of life, but mostly from the upper classes, merchants, lawyers, doctors and government officials. An astonishing large percent of students and young, well educated people filled the hall. The rooms were prepared and the external arrangements and images were simple. It was pointed out to me that the new Buddhism in China does away with many of the meaningless images.

After a short and impressive act of worship, Taixu ascended the platform and sitting cross-legged on the seat of honour gave his well-thought out address. He spoke apparently with little emotion. but eloquently and logically. With an undercurrent of fervor he brought his ideas home with striking power to the attentively listening audience. After every meeting a new group of inquirers was received into the brotherhood. This solemn act took place upstairs in a specially prepared room. All of the inquirers paid homage to the great ouster who sat there motionless and received on behalf of the "Sangha" (the communion of saints) an almost divine adoration.

It was a strange sight to see people from the upper classes, many of whom were moulded in the new and democratic ideas of the new China, prostrating themselves and taking refuge in Buddha. Dharma, and Sangha. Most of them were apparently in dead earnest. They came undoubtedly from genuine religious motives ....

Already there were several thousands of Taixu's followers in Wuhan. But never before had they had an experience like this. With a haughty air and smiling faces did Taixu's young helpers inform me that the number of lay disciples in Wuhan had increased to 30.000. And they added: "Among them are sixteen doctors, doctors partly educated abroad, and they have promised to conduct a dispensary for the poor, free of charge -- because now they have entered the path ...

Most interesting were also the evening meetings held in the ground floor hall with the gilded image of Amitabha in the background, flooded with splendour from a multitude of electric bulbs. There was singing of Buddhist songs, playing of the organ, testimonies, etc. In brief, all that they had seen of the external technique of a Christian street-chapel meeting in a big city was utilized.68[/quote]

In addition to Taixu's loss of status and position within the Chinese Buddhist Association, a second major development further dimmed his optimism about his modernization and mission movement within the larger Buddhist community. The devastation and civil disruption wrought by the Japanese invasion of China in 1937. and the desperate war of resistance until 1945, quickly changed the national and international context for religious reforms. Japan had progressively pressured China from its base in Manchuria, where in 1932 it formally established the puppet state of Manchukuo (Manzhouguo), with the last Qing emperor, Puyi, enthroned as emperor. Chiang Kai-shek sought temporarily to avoid a direct confrontation with Japan, while engaged in a bitter struggle for power with the Communists under Mao Zedong, even though Japan continued its efforts to destabilize north China. Finally, however, Japan acted decisively in an assault designed to bring China under Japanese control within three months, providing an additional support base for its expected confrontation with Russia. As Fairbank has noted, "Japan's full-scale aggression in 1937, first near Beijing on July 7, then at Shanghai in August, really opened World War II, which in China lasted a full eight years, longer than the war in Europe."69

As soon as the hostilities began, according to W. Y. Chen, "the Chinese Buddhist Association sent an open letter to Japanese Buddhists, appealing for concerted action to stop the Japanese militarists' drive in north China and expressing the hope that they would 'roar like a lion' (zuo shjzj hou), or 'raise a thundering voice' (chu dalei yin) to wake up the Japanese militarists from their continental dream."70 Taixu immediately cabled the Japanese Buddhist Association from Lu Shan in Jiangxi province, requesting their assistance in persuading the Japanese government to find a peaceful resolution.71 Just that spring, in March, alert to the building tensions, the Chinese master had worked with the Japanese Buddhists of the Higashi Honganji temple in Shanghai in the consideration of his plans for an "International Buddhist Peace Society" (Fojiaotu guoji heping hui), plans that these events obviously dashed.72 Now, not mincing words, he pleaded in the cable with the leaders of the Japanese association:

All in the whole world who are born from the Buddha's mouth and are bodhisattvas born of the Dharmakaya have one body and mind and certainly cannot be divided by race or nationality. Yet the authorities of your country at this time, giving expression to their unenlightened greed, have ordered your military to forcibly take north China, to engage in acts of provocation in its ports, thus becoming criminals who destroy the peace of East Asia and the world. They have not only damaged the security of Japanese citizens residing in China, they have also repeatedly massacred Chinese military personnel and civilians who were not resisting. They have engaged in killing, stealing, and raping without principle. There is not a crime of which they are not guilty. As a result, all in China and the world look upon your country with animosity as an extreme example of ignorance and inhumanity! ... Representing China's three hundred million Buddhists, I ask your association, leaders of Japan's thirty million Buddhists, with your great compassion and wisdom, quickly to stop the unenlightened greedy anger of your government's authorities, so that the military may be withdrawn and returned to Japan, China apologized to, the demonic war's prosecution ceased, and Buddhism's compassion clearly nude manifest. I hope your association can do all that it can about this!73

Taixu also sent a message to the Chinese Buddhist community, offering counsel as to their responsibilities in the crisis:

Now that our country. East Asia, and perhaps the entire world is on the brink of a great struggle, all of us, based on Buddhist mercy and compassion, must: (1) earnestly and steadfastly maintain the Buddhist Dharma, so as to pray that the invading country may stop its cruelties and the people's peace may be protected; (2) under the government's unified leadership, prepare courageously to protect the country; and (3) practice rear guard work, like providing first aid to wounded soldiers, taking care of refugees, burying the dead, teaching people how to get into air-raid shelters, immunize themselves against epidemics, and do other commonsense things in a time of war. Everyone as he or she chooses must work earnestly at what is needed! 74

In the fall of 1937, Chiang Kai-shek moved his government's offices from Nanjing far to the west, to Chongqing, Sichuan, as Japanese troops outflanked the Chinese forces attempting to defend Shanghai. The Japanese proceeded rapidly inland to occupy the capital, Nanjing, in mid-December, brutally massacring thousands of civilians in the infamous "Rape of Nanjing." In response to Taixu's call for the Chinese Buddhist community to prepare for service, the Right Faith Buddhist Society of Hankou (Hankou fojiao zhengxin hui), which Taixu served as Guiding Master, organized a first-aid corps (jiuhu jun). In fact, Chou Hsiang-kuang reports:

After the fall of Nanjing,Taixu was supervising the organization of Buddhist first-aid corps by members of the Right Faith Association of Hankou and also instructed the students of the Sino-Tibetan Buddhist College of Chongqing to receive first-aid training to go to the front. Such Buddhist organizations for first-aid work won national recognition for the famous Golden Swastika first-aid corps.75

Other Buddhist groups took up similar preparations, in large part, according to W. Y. Chen, because of a government order "that military training be required of Buddhist monks":

To the National Government a petition was presented in 1936 requesting that they [Buddhist monks] be trained in relief work rather than in taking up arms, as it is against the Buddhist Commandments to injure life. This petition was accepted, and Buddhist monks have been trained in first aid and other relief work in many places. In August 1937, the Chinese Buddhist Association wired to fourteen cities near Shanghai, where training in relief work had been going on, asking that from five to ten of their best trained men from each place be sent to Shanghai for concentrated training. When the war broke out in Shanghai, these men, working closely with the World Red Swastika Association (Shijie hongwan. zi hui), went to the front, and through thick and thin have carried on relief work which is worthy of all praise.76

The Japanese continued their conquest of the country as the Chinese fought valiantly while withdrawing farther into the interior. Wuhan, which had become Chiang Kai-shek's military headquarters, was finally occupied after a prolonged battle in December 1938, two months after Guangzhou had fallen. As Immanuel Hsu notes. international sanctions against Japan were not immediately forthcoming, both because of the United States's stubborn insistence on neutrality and because of the European countries' own concerns about imminent threats from Nazism and Fascism. Nevertheless, he comments:

In spite of everything, the Japanese could not quickly win the war. Tokyo finally resigned itself to a stalemate; it adopted the policy of living off the conquered land with the help of puppet governments. On October 1937, a Mongolian Autonomous Government was created in Chahar and Suiyan, with Inner Mongolian Prince De [De Wang, or Demchukdonggrub, b. 1902] as the figurehead ruler. On December 14, another puppet "provisional government" was established in Beijing, with Wang Kemin as the front man; it governed the five northern provinces of Hebei, Chahar, Suiyuan, Henan, and Shandong. On March 28, 1938, a third puppet government was set up at Nanjing under the formal leadership of Liang Hongzhi, with jurisdiction over the three eastern provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Anhui. But none of the three leaders had the national stature necessary to achieve unification.77

Although Chiang Kai-shek vowed to continue the desperate war of resistance, at this point much of the Chinese populace and many Guomindang leaders expressed despair and a sense of hopelessness in their national suffering. Taixu was disheartened both by the dire circumstances of the nation as well as by the increasingly dim prospects of any significant change within the Buddhist sangha. Soon after the fall of Nanjing, he wrote a brief essay entitled "Wo de fojiao geming shibai shi" (The History of My Failed Buddhist Revolution) , confessing his disappointments both in himself and in the conservative leaders who opposed his reformist goals:

My failures doubtlessly have resulted from the considerable strength of my opponents and from my own weaknesses. For the most part, my ideas were sufficiently good, but my efforts to put them into practice were not. Even though I could instruct others, when it came to actually leading others, I was unable, so 1 ran into the situation of putting things in motion but not being able to maintain leadership of them. Still in the end, though, I have confidence that my theories and my instructions were good. If we had persons who could adequately put things into practice and lead others, then certainly we could establish the Buddhist principles and systems adapted to a modern China.

My past failures and weaknesses came from my own many personal characteristics and from many unique circumstances that I encountered. For example, in the first period [of my efforts,] it was by chance that I ignited the fervor of the Buddhist reformation, and in the second period, it was unexpectedly that I initiated the now common practice of lecturing and starting schools. In the third period, it was unexpectedly that 1 organized the leadership of the Chinese Buddhist Association. By and large, these things happened by chance. They did not result from extensive planning, consideration, and strenuous effort. Therefore, because frequently these things resulted from my attitude of responding to situations according to the circumstances, it was easy to become disorganized and difficult to remain firm and resolute.

Although I am doing my best with regard to my goals and activities, given my premature decline in body and mind, 1 can only, according to each situation, try to eliminate my karma; I cannot make any new contributions. The following generations should know my weak points and their causes and correct themselves and do their best. Having had high expectations of me, they should not judge me too harshly. Then perhaps my Buddhist theories and instructions will not lose their usefulness as those who come after me take my failures as the mother of their successes.78


During the war years, Taixu was fortunate enough to be able to arrange travel abroad one more time. In 1939, in consultation with government officials in Chongqing, he organized a Chinese Buddhist Goodwill Mission (Fojiao fangwen tuan) to South Asia. The Chinese Buddhist master departed in November of that year, via the new Yunnan- Burma highway, and did not return until May 1940. Members of his entourage included Cihang, Weifang, Weihuan, and other monks who had studied Buddhism in countries of Southeast Asia. Also included in the mission were two lay members who served as interpreters: Professor Tan Yunshan, director of the China College in Rabindaranath Tagore's International University, and Professor Chen Dingmo from Guangdong.79

In Burma, Ceylon, India, and Malaya, Taixu was warmly and enthusiastically received almost everywhere. At his first major stop, in Rangoon, on December 6, 1939, more than two thousand monks and ten thousand laypeople met him at the train station.80 Taixu's primary personal agenda was "to worship at Buddhist holy places, to visit with Buddhist leaders in each locale, to help foster the feelings of being joined together in one faith, and to preach transformation through the Buddha's Dharma."81 Yet Chiang Kai-sheks's government had pledged financial backing for the goodwill mission to South Asia specifically so that Taixu could seek political support for China in its costly war of resistance against the Japanese. Aware that the Japanese had been using Buddhism for propaganda purposes in Southeast Asia for years, Guomindang leaders thought that perhaps the well-known reformist monk could effectively promote its cause in countries with significant Buddhist populations.82 Therefore, according to Yinshun, during these visits Taixu was supposed to proclaim "that because of the struggle of the Chinese for an independent existence and for fairness and justice, all Buddhists were unanimously in harmony with them in working for it." 83

How seriously Taixu took this "official" task on behalf of the Republican government has been questioned by a Ceylonese informant interviewed by Welch who did not recall, in the midst of Taixu's widely attended presentations in the country, any attempt to garner support against Japanese aggression.84 Based on Yinshun's brief account of the trip, it would appear that, in his addresses, Taixu often referred to the perilous situation in the contemporary world, to China's war of resistance, and to rumors of an expanding global war -- but without expressly condemning Japan. In India, Taixu seemed once again to blame the world's problems primarily on the nature of western culture, which he described as an aggressive materialistic culture that was infecting and destroying China and India, the two other great cultural spheres in the world.85 An emphasis on morality, established on the foundation of the Buddhist "cosmological viewpoint," was the only effective antidote to this destructive infection, he maintained.

Taixu's approach to the foreign mission trip was based on his recognition that better Chinese relations with citizens of the countries of South and Southeast Asia was desirable both for a global Buddhist mission and for Chinese national sovereignty. Thus, in his conversations in the region, he emphasized the history of affable intercultural and international relations between China and the countries that he visited. In addition, he highlighted the beneficial relations that existed at the time between the Chinese Buddhist community and the Nationalist government in China, even when that meant stretching the truth for political reasons. Although Taixu was not the outspoken anti-Japanese propagandist that the Guomindang hoped for, his role as an official representative of the Chinese government was obvious. The editors of the journal China at War, for example, record in their account of his trip that "at many places, he was addressed as 'His Holiness Taixu, Buddhist Archbishop of the Chinese National Government. "'86 They also note:

In India, Abbot Taixu presented a silver pagoda to the historic Mahabodhi temple at Bodhgaya, on behalf of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, as a token of China's deep appreciation of Indian civilization and culture. He told those who welcomed him that though he was in India he did not feel that he was in a foreign country. He realized that although centuries intervened, the spirit with which India in the past received Chinese pilgrims was still there.

In China, Abbot Taixu said on one occasion, Buddhism had its ups and downs but the National Government was making a supreme effort to rehabilitate Buddhism by reforming the monasteries and priests. He also hoped that it would be possible in the future to cultivate the age-old friendly relationship between the two countries more closely ....

The day he stepped on Ceylon soil, the Chinese Buddhist leader said: "China and Ceylon have had contact with each other not only in recent times but also for a long period stretching back into the past. The Buddhism that was taken to China was not only from India through the Sanskrit language but also from Ceylon through the Pali language."

To Ceylon Buddhists, Abbot Taixu, also on behalf of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, presented a pagoda-shaped casket as a token of goodwill of the Chinese people toward the Buddhists in Ceylon.

The mission also had a successful trip to the Malay states.87

In Taixu's first address upon returning to China in May 1940, delivered at Yunnan University (Yunnan daxue), the first thing he noted was the high respect that his hosts had for the valiant Chinese defense of their country against the ruthless aggression of the Japanese. He remarked that although the leaders of Japan had said publicly that their military could defeat China in three to six months, people in the countries he had visited "knew that not in six months, not in a year, or a year and a half, not even in fifty years would our enemies be able to destroy China. On the contrary," he asserted. "Japan will probably soon destroy itself. While in former days those countries sympathized with, believed, and sided with Japan, now," he concluded, "all of them have turned and believe and side with us."88

Whether or not Taixu fully satisfied the Chinese government's expectations, he did apparently accomplish many of his own personal goals in Buddhist ecumenical dialogue. The Chan master favorably impressed many monks and laypeople in his host countries by his vegetarianism and careful observance of Theravada disciplines. Moreover, he was well received by the many Buddhist leaders with whom he met to discuss strategies for the realization of religious cooperation and unity. This was particularly true in the case of the great Buddhist scholar of Ceylon, G. P. Malalasekera. with whom Taixu visited at length in late February and early March. The two leaders discussed possibilities both for a Chinese-Ceylonese Culture Association (Zhong Xi wenhua xiehui) and for a World Buddhist Federation (Shijie fojiao lianhe hui), since the federation that Taixu had helped to establish in 1923 had long since ceased to function.

When Malalasekera expressed his opinion that a cultural exchange association was the most practical idea for the time being, Taixu responded that he would first have to report to the Chinese government. 89 Nothing further developed. Yet as Xuming indicates, in 1950, three years after Taixu's death, when Malalasekera founded the World Fellowship of Buddhists (Shijie fojiaotu youyi hui), he specifically credited the Chinese reformer, remarking, "Having been inspired by Taixu's world Buddhist movement, I initiated it."90 Comments Welch, "Thus the ecumenical impulse that had originated with Dharmapala in 1893 and had been transmitted from Yang Wenhui to Taixu to Dr. Malalasekera, returned to reach its fulfillment in Ceylon a half a century after it began there."91


During the last seven years of his life, Taixu continued to encourage both national and international Buddhist cooperation and organization, and to promote education and programs of social welfare. In his autobiography, John Blofeld recalled his interesting visit with the reformer in Chongqing, where Taixu based most of his activities during the war years:

In war-scarred Chongqing, grey and battered city built upon a thousand flights of muddy steps at the confluence of two rivers, where a cloudy sky is so common that "the dogs bark at the sun," and where Japanese planes rained death once each day for months on end, both duty and inclination led me to the war-lapped islands of peace which still survived in that ravaged land. My duty lay in cultivating the acquaintance of Chinese intellectual leaders, in visiting widely scattered universities which had taken refuge far inland, and in arranging for limited help to be given in the form of teachers of English, books and laboratory equipment, and of fellowships and scholarships for Chinese scholars going to Britain. Among the scholars with whom my work brought me in contact was the Venerable Taixu, sometimes called by Westerners "the Chinese Buddhist Pope," on account of his efforts to unite the various temples and laymen's organizations into a single body powerful enough to defend itself against government depredations. The National and Provincial Governments, composed largely of officials who had been nurtured on the anti-religious propaganda forming part of the school curriculum during the time of the Guomindang Government, were constantly requisitioning temple lands and monastery buildings for other purposes, and sometimes so that individual officials could get further revenues into their own hands. Temples and monasteries had been powerless to resist, as there was no "Church" organization, each of the larger temples and each of the laymen's associations being self-governing communities ....

Taixu's dream was to have a well-knit organization like that of the Tibetan or Catholic Churches not, as his enemies averred, in order to throw the weight of religion into the political game, but both as a measure of self-defense and in order to have some means of bringing all temples and all monks up to the high standard already achieved by the best of them. I never came to know him intimately, partly because his Zhejiang dialect was so thick .... In appearance, he was a short, tubby man who shaved his head in the orthodox style but wore a long, drooping "Mandarin" mustache. His eyes were kind and his face mirrored essential goodness of heart, without suggesting either saint or sage. He was, I think, a born administrator of the son that every organized religion requires to look after those material aspects of its welfare with which contemplatives and recluses cannot be bothered, and for which they seldom have the right capacity.

Once, while we were sitting upon the terrace of a bombed temple in the heart of the city, ... Taixu told me of his plans for establishing modern schools in all the larger monasteries, both for the improvement of Buddhist scholarship and to teach the novices something of modern science, English and other "lay" subjects.

"There is a lot of opposition to my scheme even from among Buddhists," he observed. "People are so prejudiced against innovations. They do not see that, if Buddhism is to hold its own in a modern world, it must be modernized. If not, the Government will do to us what your Henry VIII did to the Catholic missionaries in England."

My surprise at this display of unmonkish erudition caused him to smile gleefully. Then he added, speaking through an interpreter who understood his peculiar dialect and could render it into Mandarin: "The authorities are good to the Christian missionaries. Why? Because China owes them its first modern universities and countless schools at every level from kindergarten to college. Why should we Buddhists continue to lag behind?"92

In January 1941, Taixu proposed the establishment of a Committee for the Reorganization of Chinese Buddhism (Zhongguo fojiao zhengli weiyuan hui), probably hoping that his patriotic efforts on behalf of the Nationalist government might contribute to its prompt approval of the plan. Offices were prepared at the Ciyun si on Lion Mountain (Shizi Shan) near Nan'an. Yet according to Yinshun, the Ministry of the Interior (Neizheng bu) refused to cooperate in the matter with the Ministry of Social Affairs (Shehui bu), so the proposal could not be immediately approved and the plan realized.93 Welch suggests that the primary reason for the refusal was the Ministry of the Interior's desire "to continue taking over monastic property unchallenged," a desire on which a compromise could be reached only after the conclusion of the war.94 For Taixu, now in his early fifties, reorganization would have to wait.

Taixu's ecumenical concerns, however, were increasingly being extended to interreligious cooperation and dialogue. In January 1943, he participated in the founding of the Association of Chinese Religious Believers (Zhongguo zongjiaotu lianyi hui).95 Its executive directors were a remarkable group of leaders who included, in addition to the Buddhist master Taixu, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Nanjing Paul Yu Bin (1901-1978), the Protestant Methodist Bishop Chen Wenyuan, the "Muslim General" Bai Chongxi (1893-1966), and the "Christian General" Feng Yuxiang (1882-1948).96 According to the China Handbook. 1937-1945, the interreligious association, which in 1945 had a membership of three hundred, was organized "to advance freedom of religion with special emphasis on spiritual enrichment and social service. [Its] principal activity is to pool together efforts of people embracing various religious faiths for the furtherance of the cause of peace among all nations."97

All those associated with the organization's founding had close ties to the Guomindang, and it may have been political interests more than religious sensibilities that actually drew the group together. A few informants in Taiwan have suggested that the "interreligious association" was actually a bai shoutao (literally, a "white glove"), meaning that rather than representing a real grassroots organization, it was made up of a select group of religious leaders with connections to the Guomindang who were called together when special needs arose. In fact, not all members of the group were recognized for their exemplary religious tolerance and their interest in interreligious dialogue and cooperation. During the Northern Expedition of the late 1920s, for example, the Muslim General Bai Chongxi was reported to have led his troops in destroying virtually all the Buddhist monasteries in Guangxi province and expelling the monks. The Christian General Feng Yuxiang, who was known for the strict moralistic elements of his military discipline, encouraged similar anti-Buddhist actions in several northern provinces. Welch states that "a resident of Henan in 1931-32 recalls that Feng's troops went about Buddhist temples breaking the heads off stone and bronze images and using wooden ones for fire wood (a policy suggested to him by his Christian advisers)."98

Nevertheless, as Joseph Kitagawa notes, the organization continued to function after moving its operations to Taiwan in 1949.99 It was still in existence in 1988, when it commemorated the death ten years earlier of its last charter member, Paul Yu Bin, who in Taiwan reestablished Fu Jen (Furen) Catholic University, formerly of Beijing, and was made a cardinal. According to Howard Boorman, Yu Bin had once served as a member of the National Assembly and was a member of the ruling party, although Kang Junbi, a staff representative of the interreligious organization, specifically claims that he "was not a member of the Guomindang."100

One of the last major efforts undertaken by the organization during Yu Bin's lifetime was a goodwill tour of the United States in the fall of 1977. Concerned that President Jimmy Carter might endanger Taiwan by altering U.S. foreign policy and recognizing the People's Republic of China -- which, of course, he did the following year -- Cardinal Yu Bin, Presbyterian minister and President of the Taiwan Council of Churches Chen Xizun (C. C. Chen), Executive Director of the Chinese Muslim Association Haji Ahmed S. T. Xie, and Executive Director of the Chinese Buddhist Association the Venerable Wuming, among others, called on Americans to join them in "speaking out for the liberty of belief for all people of the world," something they feared they would lose if Taiwan fell into the hands of the Communists.101

Whatever forces and interests led to the organization's establishment in 1943, Taixu believed in its announced purposes and sought to use its forum to advance his own dialogical agenda. In May 1945, upon attending a celebration commemorating the second anniversary of the interreligious association, Taixu wrote, for example:

With regard to the inability of the human spirit to manage material things, that certainly comes from the fact that the human spirit is not healthy enough. That is to say that religious believers have not really taken responsibility for treating and curing the human spirit. This is truly the duty of believers of every religion! In examining the reasons for this failure to do our duty -- whether it results from the fact that we do not do our best to accomplish good, do not nuke use of things appropriately, or do not seek harmony with one another -- I feel that first we must establish friendly relations among the several historic global religions. If the several historic global religions can amicably advance the extent of their mutual understanding, they will be able not only to avoid conflicts caused by misunderstandings -- to the point that the religions utilize their energies to fight and destroy one another -- but can each benefit from learning from the others' experiences. They can nuke up for their own deficiencies and expand on their own strengths, so as to do their best skillfully to reach their potential. Subsequently, the brilliant and luminous spirit of each religion will command humanity's admiration and respect, enough so as to be able to restore and advance humanity's health.

The announced responsibilities of the Association of Chinese Religious Believers are five: to support policies that build up the country and defeat the enemy [Japan], to respect religious freedom, to lift up spiritual cultivation, to practice diligently social service, and to promote world peace ....

If the Association of Chinese Religious Believers takes on such a great mission as this, how can each member but strive to achieve these goals with great determination? How can the government and society be but compelled to help it?102

In a similar way, Taixu served, from 1944 until his death, as an executive director of the Philosophy of Life Institute (Rensheng zhexue yanjiu hui). Founded in Chongqing on October 21, 1944, the institute reported an interreligious membership of three hundred in 1945. Its stated purpose was "to study philosophy of life for a fuller understanding of the ultimate aim in life, realization of an ideal social set-up, and furtherance of the building of a new state."103 Operating at least one branch institute, its activities included sponsoring lectures, publishing periodicals, compiling a life philosophy series, instituting an awards program for outstanding books on life philosophy, and other cultural projects. Bishop Paul Yu Bin (who in 1969 had become the second Chinese to be designated a cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church) served as the institute's president. In addition to Taixu, the executive directors included well-known Guomindang members and government officials Hu Shuhua and Liang Hancao.104

After the end of World War II, Taixu renewed his efforts to gain control of a truly national Buddhist organization. In 1945, his earlier plan for a reorganizing committee to oversee Buddhist affairs (filed with the government in 1941, after his goodwill mission to South Asia) was substantially approved by the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Social Affairs. Therefore, Taixu was able to lead in the establishment of the Committee for the Reorganization of Chinese Buddhism (Zhongguo fojiao zhcngli weiyuan hui), which eventually acted to revive the Chinese Buddhist Association (Zhongguo fojiao hui), originally founded in Shanghai in 1929. The nine-member organizing committee consisted of six monks -- Taixu, Xuyun, Yuanying, Changyuan, Quanlang, and Zhangjia, the Mongolian Living Buddha Hutukhtu (1889-1957), and three laymen -- Li Zikuan (1882-1973), Qu Wenliu (1881-1937), and Huang Qinglan. Chosen for the three-member standing committee were Taixu, Zhangjia, and Li Zikuan, the old revolutionary who was Taixu's lay disciple. The selection, in effect, gave Taixu majority control of the fledging organization for the last two years of his life.105 As Taixu wrote at the time of the government's action,

Now fortunately the people's war of resistance has been won, and the reconstruction of the country can begin. The Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior have applied for and received permission from the Executive Yuan for the establishment of a "Committee for the Reorganization of Chinese Buddhism." Within six months or a year we will convene a representative assembly of all Buddhists in the country to forge a strong national Buddhist association, with branch organizations in each province, city, and county, in order to adapt rapidly to the necessity of becoming a new China and one of the world's Big Four Powers (si qiang) and also of nuking Buddhism into a new Buddhism for a new China. 106

However, hopes for a peaceful new China as one of the Big Four Powers were soon shattered in civil strife. In late 1945, after unsuccessful attempts by the United States to mediate the growing postwar struggle between Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist troops and Mao Zedong's Communist forces, President Truman appointed General George C. Marshall a special presidential ambassador to China. In January 1946, Marshall's negotiations remarkably achieved a cease-fire. Soon a Political Consultative Conference was convened between the Guomindang and Chinese Communist Party to discuss possibilities for a coalition government and a joint national army. Yet with the two sides extremely distrustful of the other, and each confident that it could win a military contest, the negotiated cease-fire was short-lived, and the preliminary plans for a coalition government soon dashed in the bloody eruption of civil warfare. Conceding failure, and frustrated at the total unwillingness of the two parties to compromise, Marshall was recalled to the United States and departed China in January 1947.

Troubled by these tense political developments, Taixu nevertheless began preparatory efforts for a national Buddhist assembly. In addition, he continued administration of his various ministries in south China, working to revitalize Buddhist practice for a new Chinese society and the new world order that he hoped would dawn. Discouraged by the lack of progress toward needed economic and social reforms in the country, in late 1946 Taixu even considered forging more direct means of Buddhist involvement in political affairs. According to Yinshun, "feeling deeply that the sangha ought to coordinate with the revolutionary movements in politics, Taixu entertained the idea of organizing a political party."107 Yet the Buddhist master ultimately recognized that this would be divisive and counterproductive. Thus, on the one hand, he urged his followers to be knowledgeable about and involved in political efforts for reform, and accordingly, they became active members of diverse political parties: the Guomindang, the Democratic Socialist Party, the Youth Party, and even the Communist Party. On the other hand, in February 1946, Taixu stated explicitly his view that Buddhism should not organize a political party.108

In the summer of 1946, Taixu was appointed chairman of the board of trustees of the Buddhist Culture Society (Fojiao wenhua she), which Li Zikuan founded primarily to distribute his master's writings. Work began on a Buddhist dictionary, as well as on the society's most important project, Taixu dashi quanshu (The Complete Works of the Venerable Master Taixu). The Chinese reformer also began to serve that summer as chairman of the board for the Chinese Buddhist Hospital (Zhongguo fojiao yiyuan) established in Shanghai's Xizhu si, helped provide guidance for the opening of the Buddhist Youth Association of Shanghai (Shanghaishi fojiao qingnian hui), and went to the capital to preach the Dharma in a prison.

In February 1947, Taixu went to the Yanqing si near Ningpo to deliver what would be his last series of lectures, "The Bodhisattva's Context for Learning" (pusa xue chu). On March 5, he attended the seventh meeting of the Committee for the Reorganization of Chinese Buddhism, which convened in the Yufo si in Shanghai. The most significant decision from that session was the agreement to hold the first representative national assembly of Chinese Buddhists on May 27 in Nanjing -- an assembly over which Taixu would not be able to preside, although his dream of a new Chinese Buddhist Association would be realized there. On March 17, twelve days after the committee's planning conference was convened, Taixu died suddenly at the Yufo si in Shanghai. He was fifty-seven years old.

Taixu's death was reported to be the result of a stroke brought on by high blood pressure, "an illness," Welch quips, "consistent with his temperament."109 Reichelt adds that the monk's death was hastened by "bomb shock" that Taixu had suffered during a Japanese air attack on the suburbs of Chongqing.110 Whatever the exact cause of his death, the controversial Buddhist master died with a number of his close disciples, both monastic and lay, chanting the name of Maitreya at his side. Indeed, they "prayed that Taixu might be reborn above in the Tusita heaven, so that he might come again among humanity."111

After more than three thousand people came to the Shanghai monastery to pay their respects, Taixu's body was transported to the Haichao si in Hangzhou, where, on April 8, Master Shanyin, one of Taixu's closest friends in the sangha (daoyou) and an editor for Haichao yin, preached the Dharma and presided over the cremation ceremony. 112 Yinshun states that Taixu's devoted followers searched carefully through the ashes and collected more than three hundred sacred relics. He also testifies, with a note of personal piety, that Taixu's "heart was not damaged, but was a whole relic, which sufficiently proves the greatness of the power of Taixu's bodhisattva vow."113

On June 6, the Nationalist government issued a statement of commendation that read:

The monk Taixu made a profound study of philosophy and his goals and conduct were pure and exemplary! All of his life, throughout this country and beyond it, he propagated religious teachings. The power of his vow was great! During the Sino-Japanese War, he organized a first aid corps of Buddhist monks that went with the troops to be of service to them. His patriotism was especially worthy of praise! It is with very deep regret that we now hear of his death. We are responding by issuing this proclamation to recognize his loyalty and scholarship.114

Notes the monk Xuming:

When the Venerable Master Taixu died in Shanghai on March 7, 1947, in China and in all parts of the world, all who had ever met him or heard of him grieved. For although he was a Buddhist master in China, his compassion, great vow, and influence extended far beyond the limits of China. Indeed, he took the peace and happiness of all the peoples of the world as his responsibility, taking up as his great tasks the reformation of Chinese Buddhism and the Buddhist transformation of the entire world.115

Taixu was a central figure in the movement to reform and revitalize Chinese Buddhist communities in the Republican period. He was a committed modernist who tried to effect change through a number of controversial initiatives. Many Chinese revered him as one who truly understood the Dharma and lived in harmony with the Dao. Some thought him an exemplary leader whose mission contributed not only to the vitality of the Buddhist community but to the nation's cause in years of crisis. Others, both inside and outside of the Chinese sangha, questioned the purity of his motives and faulted him for pride and self-interest. Many conservative leaders within the monastic community did not like his humanist leanings and distrusted his utopian visions for a reorganized religious community. Thus Welch is correct in stating that the majority of Chinese Buddhists in Taixu's time felt considerable ambivalence about him:

They were pleased that one of their own had managed to become so famous, and they acknowledged the value of some of his ideas, but he did not correspond to their concept of what a monk ought to be. He seemed to them to talk about Buddhism more than he practiced it. The monks they most respected -- Xuyun, Yinguang, Dixian, Hongyi, Laiguo, Tanxu -- were persons for whom practice was of the essence, who remained aloof from the world rather than seeking for status in it, who wanted to restore Buddhism to what it had been rather than make it into something new. They feared that, if it were made into something new as Taixu seemed to be proposing. it would no longer be Buddhism.116

Making Chinese Buddhism into "something new" was at the heart of Taixu's career. When the reformer spoke of a "new Buddhism," "new monks," and a "new global culture," many naturally wanted to cling to the old and familiar. Yet Taixu believed that the scientific revolution had redefined the context for religious commitment in the modern era. Chinese Buddhists, he argued, could not simply "go back" to revalorize the common practices of the past; preaching the Dharma effectively in the future would require something more. Going boldly forward naturally meant reaching back to recover the courageous and caring spirit of the one who originally discovered the Dharma in our age, but it simultaneously meant change and adaptation to a new and evolving social world.
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Part 1 of 2

Defining Modern Buddhism: Mr. and Mrs. Rhys Davids and the Pali Text Society
by Judith Snodgrass
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East
Vol. 27, No. 1, 2007
© 2007 by Duke University Press



Early Western Buddhist scholarship was archetypically “orientalist” both in the various senses implied by Edward Said’s work on the West’s colonization of knowledge of the Orient and in the proud lineage of the dedicated and immaculate translation and interpretation of Asian-language primary sources. In this article I examine the work of Thomas William Rhys Davids (1843–1922) and Caroline Augusta Foley Rhys Davids (1857–1942), his wife and colleague in scholarship. T. W. Rhys Davids founded the Pāli Text Society in 1881 and served as its chairman until his death in 1922. Caroline, whom he married in 1894, then continued in the position. Together they dominated Pāli studies for sixty years. Their contribution includes the almost complete publication of the Pāli canon, a Pāli dictionary, numerous expository works, and the training of a large number of colleagues and students to perpetuate their influence. More than just pioneers in the field, they have provided the standard interpretation of Pāli Buddhism. They are, to extend Charles Hallisey’s observation, the “inaugural heroes” of academic studies of Buddhism.1 While unquestionably an orientalist construct, the features of Buddhism they documented and validated through their meticulous and dedicated study of Pāli texts remain the basis not only of Western understanding of Buddhism but of many modern Buddhist movements in Asia. They established the parameters of the rational humanist schools of Buddhism that are characteristic of what Donald Lopez has usefully referred to as modern Buddhism.2


• Helena Petrovna Blavatsky 1
• Sir Edwin Arnold 6
• Henry Steel Olcott 15
• Paul Carus 24
• Shaku Soen 35
• Dwight Goddard 49
• Anagarika Dharmapala 54
• Alexandra David-Neel 59
• D. T. Suzuki 68
• W. Y. Evans-Wentz 78
• T'ai Hsu 85
B. R. Ambedkar 91

We must now turn to the evaluation of means. We must ask whose means are superior and lasting in the long run. There are, however some misunderstandings on both sides. It is necessary to clear them up. Take violence. As to violence, there are many people who seem to shiver at the very thought of it. But this is only a sentiment. Violence cannot be altogether dispensed with. Even in non-communist countries a murderer is hanged. Does not hanging amount to violence? Non-communist countries go to war with non-communist countries. Millions of people are killed. Is this no violence? If a murderer can be killed, because he has killed a citizen, if a soldier can be killed in war because he belongs to a hostile nation, why cannot a property owner be killed if his ownership leads to misery for the rest of humanity? There is no reason to make an exception in favour of the property owner, why one should regard private property as sacrosanct.

The Buddha was against violence. But he was also in favour of justice, and where justice required, he permitted the use of force...

"Does the Tathagata prohibit all war, even when it is in the interest of Truth and Justice?"

Buddha replied. You have wrongly understood what I have been preaching. An offender must be punished, and an innocent man must be freed. It is not a fault of the Magistrate if he punishes an offender. The cause of punishment is the fault of the offender. The Magistrate who inflicts the punishment is only carrying out the law. He does not become stained with Ahimsa. A man who fights for justice and safety cannot be accused of Ahimsa. If all the means of maintaining peace have failed, then the responsibility for Himsa falls on him who starts war. One must never surrender to evil powers. War there may be. But it must not be for selfish ends...."

There are of course other grounds against violence such as those urged by Prof. John Dewey. In dealing with those who contend that the end justifies the means is [a] morally perverted doctrine, Dewey has rightly asked what can justify the means if not the end? It is only the end that can justify the means.

Buddha would have probably admitted that it is only the end which would justify the means. What else could? And he would have said that if the end justified violence, violence was a legitimate means for the end in view. He certainly would not have exempted property owners from force if force were the only means for that end. As we shall see, his means for the end were different. As Prof. Dewey has pointed out that violence is only another name for the use of force and although force must be used for creative purposes a distinction between use of force as energy and use of force as violence needs to be made. The achievement of an end involves the destruction of many other ends, which are integral with the one that is sought to be destroyed. Use of force must be so regulated that it should save as many ends as possible in destroying the evil one. Buddha's Ahimsa was not as absolute as the Ahimsa preached by Mahavira the founder of Jainism. He would have allowed force only as energy. The communists preach Ahimsa as an absolute principle. To this the Buddha was deadly opposed...

As to Dictatorship, the Buddha would have none of it. He was born a democrat, and he died a democrat...

The Bhikshu Sangh had the most democratic constitution. He was only one of the Bhikkus. At the most he was like a Prime Minister among members of the Cabinet. He was never a dictator...

The Communists themselves admit that their theory of the State as a permanent dictatorship is a weakness in their political philosophy. They take shelter under the plea that the State will ultimately wither away. There are two questions, which they have to answer. When will it wither away? What will take the place of the State when it withers away? To the first question they can give no definite time. Dictatorship for a short period may be good, and a welcome thing even for making Democracy safe. Why should not Dictatorship liquidate itself after it has done its work, after it has removed all the obstacles and boulders in the way of democracy and has made the path of Democracy safe. Did not Asoka set an example? He practised violence against the Kalingas. But thereafter he renounced violence completely. If our victor’s to-day not only disarm their victims, but also disarm themselves, there would be peace all over the world...

The Communists have given no answer. At any rate no satisfactory answer to the question what would take the place of the State when it withers away, though this question is more important than the question when the State will wither away. Will it be succeeded by Anarchy? If so, the building up of the Communist State is an useless effort. If it cannot be sustained except by force, and if it results in anarchy when the force holding it together is withdrawn, what good is the Communist State? The only thing which could sustain it after force is withdrawn is Religion. But to the Communists Religion is anathema. Their hatred to Religion is so deep seated that they will not even discriminate between religions which are helpful to Communism and religions which are not. The Communists have carried their hatred of Christianity to Buddhism without waiting to examine the difference between the two. The charge against Christianity levelled by the Communists was two fold. Their first charge against Christianity was that they made people other worldliness and made them suffer poverty in this world. As can be seen from quotations from Buddhism in the earlier part of this tract, such a charge cannot be levelled against Buddhism.

The second charge levelled by the Communists against Christianity cannot be levelled against Buddhism. This charge is summed up in the statement that Religion is the opium of the people. This charge is based upon the Sermon on the Mount which is to be found in the Bible. The Sermon on the Mount sublimates poverty and weakness. It promises heaven to the poor and the weak. There is no Sermon on the Mount to be found in the Buddha's teachings. His teaching is to acquire wealth. I give below his Sermon on the subject to Anathapindika one of his disciples.

Once Anathapindika came to where the Exalted One was staying. Having come, he made obeisance to the Exalted One, and took a seat at one side, and asked, "Will the Enlightened One tell what things are welcome, pleasant, agreeable, to the householder but which are hard to gain."

The Enlightened One having heard the question put to him said "Of such things the first is to acquire wealth lawfully."

"The second is to see that your relations also get their wealth lawfully."

"The third is to live long and reach great age."...

"Thus to acquire wealth legitimately and justly, earn by great industry, amassed by strength of the arm and gained by sweat of the brow is a great blessing. The householder makes himself happy and cheerful and preserves himself full of happiness; also makes his parents, wife, and children, servants, and labourers, friends and companions happy and cheerful, and preserves them full of happiness."...

The Russians are proud of their Communism. But they forget that the wonder of all wonders is that the Buddha established Communism so far as the Sangh was concerned without dictatorship. It may be that it was a communism on a very small scale, but it was communism without dictatorship, a miracle which Lenin failed to do...

It has been claimed that the Communist Dictatorship in Russia has wonderful achievements to its credit. There can be no denial of it. That is why I say that a Russian Dictatorship would be good for all backward countries. But this is no argument for permanent Dictatorship. Humanity does not only want economic values, it also wants spiritual values to be retained. Permanent Dictatorship has paid no attention to spiritual values, and does not seem to intend to. Carlyle called Political Economy a Pig Philosophy. Carlyle was of course wrong. For man needs material comforts. But the Communist Philosophy seems to be equally wrong, for the aim of their philosophy seems to be fatten pigs as though men are no better than pigs. Man must grow materially as well as spiritually. Society has been aiming to lay a new foundation was summarised by the French Revolution in three words: Fraternity, Liberty and Equality. The French Revolution was welcomed because of this slogan. It failed to produce equality. We welcome the Russian Revolution because it aims to produce equality. But it cannot be too much emphasised that in producing equality, society cannot afford to sacrifice fraternity or liberty. Equality will be of no value without fraternity or liberty. It seems that the three can coexist only if one follows the way of the Buddha. Communism can give one but not all.

-- B. R. Ambedkar, Excerpt from "A Modern Buddhist Bible: Essential Readings from East and West", by Donald S. Lopez, Jr.

• Lama Govinda 98
• R. H. Blyth 106
• Mahasi Sayadaw 116
• Shunryu Suzuki 127
Buddhadasa 138

Buddhadasa (1906-93) was born in southern Thailand, the son of a merchant, and was educated at Buddhist temple schools. It was customary for males in Thailand to be ordained as a Buddhist monk for three months at the age of twenty and then return to lay life. Buddhadasa decided to remain a monk and quickly gained a reputation as a brilliant thinker, meditator and teacher. However, rather than moving through the monastic hierarchy in the capital, he returned home in 1932, after several years of study in Bangkok, to establish a meditation and study centre, which he called Wat Suan Mokkhabalarama (the 'Garden of the Power of Liberation'). Buddhadasa spent most of his life at this forest monastery overlooking the sea. Here the resident monks devoted more time to meditation practice and less time to merit-making activities than did many Thai monks. The centre attracted thousands of guests and visitors each year, with more than a thousand receiving meditation instruction annually.

In addition to his activities as a meditation teacher, Buddhadasa was to become the most prolific author in the history of the Theravada Buddhist tradition, his writing in many cases being transcriptions of lectures given at his monastery. Just as Buddhadasa showed little interest in the administrative programmes of the Thai Buddhist sangha, in his writings he eschewed the more formal style of traditional scholastic commentary in favour of a more informal, and in many ways controversial, approach in which he called many of the more popular practices of Thai Buddhism into question. For example, he spoke out strongly against the practice of merit-making in which laypeople offer gifts to monks in the belief that they will receive material reward in the next life. Although this has traditionally been the dominant form of lay practice, Buddhadasa argued that it only keeps the participants in the cycle of rebirth because it is based on attachment, whereas the true form of giving is the giving up of the self. This is not a solitary pursuit, however. Because of dependent origination, people live in a shared environment connected by social and natural relations. This state is originally one of harmony that has fallen out of balance because of attachment to 'me' and 'mine'.

Again we find that the various forms of existing governments are explained as debased copies of the true model or Form of the state, of the perfect state, the standard of all imitations, which is said to have existed in the ancient times of Cronos, father of Zeus.

-- The Open Society and Its Enemies, by Karl R. Popper

By diminishing attachment and craving, both personal and social well-being are achieved in a society in which leaders promote both the physical and spiritual well-being of the people. Buddhadasa calls such a form of government 'dhammic socialism'. In the passage that follows, Buddhadasa argued that the best form of government for small countries such as Thailand is a 'dictatorial socialism' based on classical Buddhist principles, with leadership provided by a king who embodies ten royal virtues.


The Buddha developed a socialist system with a 'dictatorial' method. Unlike liberal democracy's inability to act in an expeditious and timely manner, this dhammic dictatorial socialism is able to act immediately to accomplish what needs to be done. This approach is illustrated by the many rules in the vinaya against procrastination, postponement and evasion. Similarly, the ancient legal system was socialistic. There was no way that someone could take advantage of another, and its method was 'dictatorial' in the sense that it cut through confusion and got things done.

Now we need to look more closely at the system of kingship based on the Ten Royal Precepts or Virtues. This is also a form of dictatorial socialism. The best example is King Asoka. Many books about Asoka have been published, in particular concerning the Asokan inscriptions found on rock pillars throughout his kingdom. These were edicts about Asoka's work which reveal a socialist system of government of an exclusively dictatorial type. He purified the sangha by wiping out the heretics, and he insisted on right behavior on the part of all classes of people. Asoka was not a tyrant, however. He was a gentle person who acted for the good of the whole society. He constructed wells and assembly halls, and had various kinds of fruit trees planted for the benefit of all. He was 'dictatorial' in the sense that if his subjects did not do these public works as commanded, they were punished.

After King Asoka gave his orders, one of his officials, the Dhammajo or Dhammamataya, determined if they had been faithfully followed out through all the districts of the kingdom. If he found a transgressor a 'dictatorial' method was used to punish him. The punishment was socialistic in the sense that it was useful for society and not for personal or selfish reasons.

The final piece of evidence supporting King Asoka's method occurred at the end of his life, when all that remained of his wealth was a half of a tamarind seed. Before he died he gave even this away to a monk. What kind of person does such an act -- a tyrant or a socialist? That King Asoka also preserved the ideals of a Buddhist dictatorial socialism is also supported by an examination of his famous rock and pillar edicts.

Socialism in Buddhism, furthermore, is illustrated by the behavior of more ordinary laymen and laywomen. They live moderately, contributing their excess for the benefit of society. For example, take the case of the Buddhist entrepreneur or sresthi. In Buddhism, sresthi are those who have alms houses (Thai: rong than). If they have no alms houses they cannot be called sresthi. The more wealth they have the more alms houses they possess. Do capitalists today have alms houses? If not, they are not sresthi as we think of them during the Buddhist era which was socialistic in the fullest sense. The capitalists during the Buddhist era were respected by the proletariat rather than attacked by them. If being a capitalist means simply accumulating power and wealth for oneself, that differs radically from the meaning of sresthi as one who uses his or her wealth to provide for the well-being of the world.

Even such terms as slave, servant, and menial had a socialistic meaning during the Buddhist era. Slaves did not want to leave the sresthi. Today, however, 'slaves' hate capitalists. Sresthi during the Buddhist era treated their slaves like their own children. All worked together for a common good. They observed the moral precepts together on Buddhist sabbath days. The products of their common labor were for use in alms houses. If the sresthi accumulated wealth, that would be put in reserve for use later in the alms houses. Today things are very different. In those days slavery was socialistic and did not need to be abolished. Slave and master worked for the common good. The kind of slavery which should be abolished exists under a capitalist system in which a master treats slaves or servants like animals. Slaves under such a system always desire freedom, but slaves under a socialist system want to remain with their masters because they feel at ease. In my own case, for example, it would be easier to be a common monk than to bear the responsibilities of being an abbot. Similarly, a servant in a socialist system has an easier life than a master (Thai: nai), and is treated as a younger family member.

In the Buddhist view, sresthi are those who have alms houses, and a great sresthi has many of them. They have enough for their own use and share from their excess. Buddhists have espoused socialism since antiquity, whether at the level of king, wealthy merchant or slave. Most slaves were content with their status even though they could not, for instance, be ordained as monks. They could be released from their obligations, or continue them, as they chose. Slaves were recipients of love, compassion, and care. Thus, one can see that the essence of socialism in those days was pure and totally different from the socialism of today.

Let us look again at the Ten Royal Precepts or Virtues (dasarajadhamma) as a useful form of Buddhist socialism. Most students at secondary and college level have studied the canonical meaning of the dasarajadhamma, and did not find it of much interest. In Buddhism this is called the ten dhamma of kingship: dana (generosity), sila (morality), pariccaga (liberality), ajjava (uprightness), maddava (gentleness), tapo (self-restraint), akkodha (non-anger), avihimsa (non-hurtfulness), khanti (forbearance), avirodhana (non-opposition).

Dana is giving or the will to give; sila is morality, those who possess morality (sila-dhamma) in the sense of being the way things are (prakati) freed from the forces of defilement (kilesa); pariccaga means to give up completely all inner evils such as selfishness; ajjava is truthfulness; maddava is to be meek and gentle toward all citizens; tapo or self-control refers to the fact that a king should always control himself; akkodha means to be free from anger; avihimsa is the dhamma which restrains one from causing trouble to others, even unintentionally; khanti is being tolerant or assuming the burden of tolerance; avirodhana is freedom from guilt. A king who embodies these ten virtues radiates the spirit of socialism. Why need we abolish this kind of kingship? If such a king was a dictator, he would be like Asoka whose 'dictatorial' rule was to promote the common good and to abolish the evil of private, selfish interest.

Let us now look at the way in which the Samuhanimit monastery (wat) in Phumriang District was built as an example of Buddhist dictatorial socialism. An inscription in the monastery tells us that the wat was built during the third reign under the sponsorship of the Bunnag family, and that it was built in four months. To finish the wat in four months called for 'dictatorial' methods. Thousands of people from the city were ordered to help complete the work and occasionally physical punishment was used. The labor force made bricks, brought stones, animals, trees - everything they could. After the work was finished, the head of the monastery in the city who had resided at one of the city wats was forced to be the abbot at Wat Samuhanimit. To be sure, dictatorial methods were used in the establishment of this monastery, but the end result benefited everyone.

The character of the ruler is the crucial factor in the nature of Buddhist dictatorial socialism. If a good person is the ruler, the dictatorial socialism will be good, but a bad person will produce an unacceptable type of socialism. A ruler who embodies the ten royal virtues will be the best kind of socialistic dictator.
This way of thinking will be totally foreign to most Westerners who are unfamiliar with this kind of Buddhist kingly rule. A good king is not an absolute monarch in the ordinary sense of that word. Because we misunderstand the meaning of kingship we consider all monarchial systems wrong. The king who embodies the ten royal virtues, however, is a socialist ruler in the most profound or dhammic sense, such as the King Mahasammata, the first universal ruler, King Asoka, and the kings of Sukhodaya and Ayudhaya. Kingship based on the ten royal virtues is a pure form of socialism. Such a system should not be abolished, but it must be kept in mind that this is not an absolute monarchy. In some cases this form of Buddhist dictatorial socialism can solve the world's problems better than any other form of government.

People today follow the Western notion that everyone is equal. Educated people think that everyone should have the right to govern, and that this is a democratic system. However, today, the meaning of democracy is very ambiguous. Let us ask ourselves what the kind of democracy we have had for at least one hundred years has contributed to us as citizens. Questioning this kind of worldly democracy may make us suspect. I, myself, am not afraid to be killed because of rejecting this kind of democracy. I favor a Buddhist socialist democracy which is composed of dhamma and managed by a 'dictator' whose character exemplifies the ten royal virtues (dasarajadhamma). Do not blindly follow the political theories of someone who does not embody the dasarajadhamma system, the true socialist system which can save humankind. Indeed, revolution has a place in deposing a ruler who does not embody the dasarajadhamma, but not a place within a revolutionary political philosophy which espouses violence and bloodshed.

The dasarajadhammic system is absolute in that it depends essentially on one person. It was developed to the point where an absolute monarch could rule a country or, for that matter, the entire world as in the case of the King (raja) Mahasammata.
The notion of a ruler (raja) needs to be better understood. The title, raja, was given to the first ruler thousands of years ago when people first became interested in establishing a socialist society. We also need to rethink the notion of caste or class (varna). The ruling class (ksatriya) has come to be despised and people advocate its abolition. Such an attitude ignores the fact that a ruling class of some kind is absolutely necessary; however, it should be defined by its function rather than by birth. For example, there must be magistrates who constitute a part of a special class of respected people.

In the representative system, the reason for everything must publicly appear. Every man is a proprietor in government, and considers it a necessary part of his business to understand. It concerns his interest, because it affects his property. He examines the cost, and compares it with the advantages; and above all, he does not adopt the slavish custom of following what in other governments are called Leaders.

-- Rights of Man, by Thomas Paine

Caste or class (varna) should be based on function and duty rather than on birth. Varna determined by inherited class should be abolished. The Buddha, after all, abolished his own varna by becoming a monk and prescribing the abolition of others' inherited class statuses. But class by function and responsibility should not be abolished. It is the result of kamma. For instance, kamma dictates that a king should rule, and that a Brahman should teach or should be a magistrate in order to maintain order (dhamma) in the world. Class in this sense should not be abolished. The ruling class (ksatriya-varna) should be maintained, but as part of the dasarajadhammika system to govern the world.

There was another system of government typical of small countries during the time of the Buddha, e.g. the Sakya and Licchavi, worthy of examination. The Licchavis, for example, were governed by an assembly composed of 220 people of the ksatriya class. The elected head of the assembly acted as a king, having been chosen to rule for a designated period of time, e.g. seven months. The best of those born into the ksatriya class were chosen as members of the assembly. One may imagine how progressive their kingdom was. Such was the Sakya kingdom of the Buddha. Large kingdoms like Kosala could not conquer these small states because they were rooted in dhammic socialism. When they gave up this system of government social harmony was undermined which resulted in their destruction. The Buddha used the Licchavis as an example of a people who followed a socialist style of life careful in personal habits, attentive to the defense of the nation, and respectful of women -- but who departed from this way and were eventually destroyed. Western scholars have not written very much about this ancient type of government in which the king and his assembly ruled by the dasarajadhamma. But this type of government, an enlightened ruling class (ksatriyavarna) based in the dasarajadhamma is, in fact, the kind of socialism which can save the world.

The sort of socialism I have been discussing is misunderstood because of the term, raja. But a ruler who embodies the ten royal virtues represents socialism in the most complete sense -- absolute, thorough, effective -- like King Asoka and other rulers like him in our Thai history. For example, upon careful study we can see that Rama Khamhaeng ruled socialistically, looking after his people the way a father and mother look after their children. Such a system should be revived today. We should not blindly follow a liberal democratic form of government essentially based on selfish greed.

The last point I want to make and one especially important for the future is that small countries like our own should adhere to a system of 'dictatorial dhammic socialism' or otherwise it will be difficult to survive. An illusory democracy cannot survive. Liberal democracy has too many flaws. Socialism is preferable, but it must be a socialism based on dhamma. Such dhammic socialism is by its very nature 'dictatorial' in the sense I have discussed today. In particular, small countries like Thailand should have democracy in the form of a dictatorial dhammic socialism.

An ancient proverb which is rarely heard goes, 'You must ignite the house fire in order to receive the forest fire.' Elders taught their children that they should burn an area around their huts in order to prevent forest fires from burning down their dwellings. If small countries like our own have a dictatorial dhammic socialist form of government, it will be like burning the area around the house in order to protect us from the forest fire. The forest fire can be compared to violent forms of socialism or to capitalism, both of which encompass the world today. A dictatorial dhammic socialism will protect us from being victimized by either capitalism or violent forms of proletarian revolution.

-- Bhikkhu Buddhadasa, 'Dictatorial Dhammic Socialism' in Dhammic Socialism (Bangkok: Thai Inter-religious Commission for Development, 1986), pp. 189-93.

• Philip Kapleau 146
• William Burroughs 154
• Alan Watts 159
• Jack Kerouac 172
• Ayya Khema 182
• Sangharakshita 186
• Allen Ginsberg 194
• Thich Nhat Hanh 201
• Gary Snyder 207
• Sulak Sivaraksa 211
• The Dalai Lama 217
• Cheng Yen 227
• Fritjof Capra 236
• Chogyam Trungpa 244

-- Introduction, Excerpt from "A Modern Buddhist Bible: Essential Readings from East and West", by Donald S. Lopez, Jr.

Lopez’s premise is that there are forms of Buddhism found around the contemporary world—in the West and in Asia—that share sufficient key beliefs and practices to be seen as a new school, a Buddhist sect of the global era. While it is in no way monolithic, its various manifestations have arisen over the past century as a result of Western imperialism and its scholarship, of encounters of traditional Buddhist societies with modernity, and, more recently, of political upheavals that have caused migrations of Buddhist populations to the West. Lopez offers a lineage for the new “sect,” tracing it from Ceylonese Buddhist resistance to missionaries in 1876, through writings of early Theosophists, a selection of familiar Western and Asian practitioners and popularizers, culminating in the culturally hybrid teachings of Chogyam Trungpa, founder of the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado.3 D. T. Suzuki and other major figures in Western writing are awarded a place in the lineage. Oddly, however, the Rhys Davids are not.4 Their absence is underlined by Lopez’s description of modern Buddhism, which encapsulates the interpretation they propagated precisely: “It is ancient Buddhism, and especially the enlightenment of the Buddha 2,500 years ago, that is seen as most modern, as most compatible with the ideals of the European enlightenment that occurred so many centuries later. . . . Indeed, for modern Buddhists, the Buddha knew long ago what Europe would only discover much later.”5 Modern Buddhism is thoroughly humanist. The Buddha is a historical hero who taught “a complete philosophical and psychological system, based on reason and restraint, as opposed to ritual, superstition and sacerdotalism, demonstrating how the individual could live a moral life without the trappings of institutional religion.” 6 Its practice is egalitarian, lay centered, and socially committed, imbued with modernity’s ideals of reason, empiricism, science, universalism, tolerance, and the rejection of religious orthodoxy. It is an understanding of Buddhism that depends on a human founder as a model of the path to personal development.

While no Buddhist questions the historical existence of the Buddha Sakyamuni, until the emergence of modern Buddhism in the mid-nineteenth century he was not seen as the founder of the religion, or as the only Buddha, but as one of a series of Buddhas born into the world to teach the eternal dharma. This is made abundantly clear in the archaeology of Indian Buddhism—the bas-reliefs of Bharhut and ornate gateways of the Sanchi stupas represent previous Buddhas—in its earliest texts and in any number of schools of Buddhism persisting through to the present. T. W. Rhys Davids himself speaks of the tedious repetition of the lives of previous Buddhas that differ only in the details of names and places and the type of tree under which the Buddha attained awakening.7 As he explained, of each parallel incident mentioned the text repeats, “This, in such a case, is the rule.” His explanation of the meaning of “Tathāgata,” one of the most commonly used titles of the Buddha, also makes this point: “Tathāgata is an epithet of the Buddha. It is interpreted by Buddhaghosa . . . to mean that he came to earth for the same purposes, after having passed through the same training in former births, as all the supposed former Buddhas; and that, when he had so come, all his actions corresponded with theirs.”8 The shift in focus to the humanity of the Buddha as Founder of the religion is a defining feature of modern Buddhism, a mark of modernity, the necessary rupture with the past that marks the modern, but it is not one that was necessarily supported by the evidence on which the nineteenth-century scholars in this study based their conclusions.

In this article I revisit the work of T. W. and C. A. F. Rhys Davids to elucidate the social and historical contingencies and discursive practices that gave shape to this humanist Buddhism, to demonstrate the function of the technologies of knowledge and the dynamics of discourse in its formation and dissemination. Their work is useful in this endeavor precisely because their unquestionable dedication, impeccable scholarship, and immense contribution to Buddhist studies and the ongoing esteem in which they are held directs one away from simplistic notions of orientalism as error or colonial denigration of subject cultures. Extending the focus to the Pāli Text Society enables a consideration of Asian agency and participation in the process. It also offers an alternative lineage for modern Buddhism, one equally enmeshed in the East-West encounters of colonialism and modernity but that recognizes the complicity of academic philology and the institutional practices of scholarship in the process.

An alternative lineage for modern Buddhism, one equally enmeshed in the East-West encounters of colonialism and modernity, that recognizes the complicity of political forces in the process.

-- Freda Bedi, by Altruistic World Online Library

Colonial Beginnings

T. W. Rhys Davids’s interest in Pāli began while he was serving in the Ceylon Civil Service (1864–72). His association with Buddhism at this time was incidental—to learn Pāli he had to study with a bhikkhu. His first translation, typical of the historical bias of his time, was in numismatics and epigraphy, an outcome of his posting to the archaeologically rich area of Anuradhapura, and led in 1877 to his Ancient Coins and Measures of Ceylon, which contained the first attempt to date the death of the Buddha.9 He did not write on Buddhism until after his return to Britain, and a modest comment on how little he knew about Buddhism at that time, which is quoted by Ananda Wickremaratne, suggests that he was invited to do so because of popular interest in Buddhism.10 His first book, the highly influential Buddhism: A Sketch of the Life and Teachings of Gautama, the Buddha (1878), was compiled from the material then available in translation.11 This book established his reputation as a Buddhist scholar. It was followed by his translations Buddhist Birth Stories and Buddhist Suttas, both published in 1880.12 During the influential Hibbert Lectures of 1881, he announced the founding of the Pāli Text Society, confidently predicting the publication of the whole of the texts of the Sutta and Abhidhamma Pitakas in “no very distant period.”13 The inaugural committee of management included, among others willing to undertake translation, the Pāli scholars Victor Fausboll, Hermann Oldenberg, and Emile Senart. There was clearly a growing interest and activity in Pāli translation by this time. The formation of the Pāli Text Society institutionalized the study of Buddhism and the interpretation of it, which had begun much earlier. It is necessary therefore to look briefly at the earlier period.

Gotama: The Buddha of Robert Spence Hardy

Beginnings are always problematic, but a key date in this narrative is 1854, the year in which eminent Sanskrit scholar H. H. Wilson, then director of the Royal Asiatic Society, declared the start of Buddhist studies. There was now, he believed, sufficient material from diverse sources to provide “the means of forming correct opinions of Buddhism, as to its doctrines and practices.” 14 The occasion was the publication of three books, two books by the Reverend Robert Spence Hardy, Eastern Monachism (1850) and Manual of Budhism (1853), and the posthumous publication of Eugene Burnouf’s Le lotus de la bonne loi, which appeared about the same time.15 Hardy’s work offered the first systematic account of Theravada Buddhist beliefs and practices and so provided a framework to structure the fragmentary knowledge collected to that date, the work of Alexander Csoma, Brian Houghton Hodgson, George Turnour, and others who were pioneers in the field. Though Hardy’s book was compiled from Singhalese sources rather than from the older and therefore more authoritative Pāli texts, in the absence of these, they were the uncontested authority on the “Buddhism of the South,” and when juxtaposed with Burnouf’s translations of the Sanskrit texts of Northern Buddhism they provided the basis for the cross-cultural comparisons that would reveal the essence of Buddhism, the “reality” concealed under the various local elaborations.16 Buddhist studies, as distinct from Sanskrit and Pāli translations or the missionary study of local practices, could now begin.

A most important feature of Hardy’s work was that it offered the first thorough narrative of the life of the Buddha, a “biography” pieced together by Hardy from various sources, covering his previous births through to his death, cremation, and the distribution of his relics.17 As the designation “Buddhism” suggests, Westerners had assumed, ordering the world through a Christian gaze, that the Buddha, whose image was so prevalent in Buddhist cultures, was the founder of the religion. The search for a life of the Buddha was therefore central to early studies, the logical prerequisite of the scholarly paradigms of the time—the pattern of contemporary Biblical scholarship—that sought to retrieve the very words of the Founder from the sacred texts.18 The search had been frustrated by the fact that the Buddhist texts had been composed for a different purpose. While they recount numerous episodes in the Buddha’s life, they nowhere offered the kind of life narrative Westerners sought in a biography.19

Hardy’s books now seem an unlikely basis for a field of study. He was a Wesleyan missionary to Ceylon from 1825 to 1847 and had studied Singhalese to more efficiently know the religion he aimed to supplant. He was quite explicit about his antipathy to his subject. In 1839 he had published the pamphlet The British Government and Idolatry in Ceylon, a savage attack on Buddhism aimed at undermining the British government’s patronage of “the religion of the country” stipulated in the Kandyan Convention of 1815 that had ceded control of the country to Britain.20 In the preface to Eastern Monachism he wrote: “I ask no higher reward than to be an humble instrument in assisting the ministers of the cross in their combats with this master error of the world, and in preventing the spread of the same delusion, under another guise, in regions nearer home.”21 The “master error” as he saw it was atheism; its “other guise” was materialist philosophy, which in a climate of crisis in the clash between traditional Christian teaching and new developments in science was gathering interest in Europe. This Western crisis would also inform the work of T. W. and C. A. F. Rhys Davids and was a key factor in creating a public interest, an audience for knowledge of Buddhism in the West.

Eastern Monachism opened with an unequivocal statement of the historical humanity of Gautama. “About two thousand years before the thunders of Wycliffe were rolled against the mendicant orders of the west, Gotama Budha [sic] commenced his career as a mendicant in the east, and established a religious system that has exercised a mightier influence upon the world than the doctrines of any other uninspired teacher.”22 By opening with a reference to the fourteenth-century reformer John Wycliffe, Hardy immediately introduced two now familiar features of Western interpretation: the origin of Buddhism as a reaction against the priestcraft and ritual of institutionalized religion, and the role of the Buddha as a social reformer. The body of the work, as the title suggested, compared the Ceylonese sangha (clerical community) to the Roman Catholic clergy and implied that the modern Buddhist teachings are as far removed from the teachings of the Founder, as in his Wesleyan view, the Church of Rome is from the teachings of Jesus. Buddhism, as it is practiced in Ceylon, he wrote, is a degeneration from and ritual elaboration of the Buddha’s original teaching.

Hardy wrote on Buddhism to show its errors, and the greatest error from his perspective was that the Buddha was just a man, a great man, as was Wycliffe, but nothing more than a man. Buddhism, his teaching, was therefore “uninspired,” and left man “unaided.” “Without the . . . lightening of the Divine Eye, the thunder of the Divine Voice . . . the principle of good in man will soon be overwhelmed. . . . With these radical defects”, he concluded, “it is unnecessary to dwell on the lesser.”23

Despite Hardy’s conviction, the humanity of the Buddha was far from decided in the mid-nineteenth century. Wilson, working with the same materials, concluded that even “laying aside the miraculous portions” of the sacred texts, it was, “very problematical whether any such person as Sakya Muni ever lived.” 24 He lists numerous problems such as the discrepancies in dating his life and the lack, at that time, of any archaeological evidence of Kapilavāstu, the site of the Buddha’s early life. What concerned him most was that the names of people and places in the narrative strongly suggested allegorical signification. It was for him “all very much in the style of Pilgrim’s Progress” (247–48). “It seems possible, after all,” he concluded, “that Sakya Muni is an unreal being, and that all that is related of him is as much fiction as is that of his preceding migration, and the miracles that attended his birth, his life, and his departure” (247–48). Wilson was content to leave the question open, concluding that “although we may discredit the actuality of the teacher, we cannot dispute the introduction of the doctrine” (248). In 1854 the historical existence of the Buddha might have been generally assumed but was by no means academically established. This would be the work of the Rhys Davids.

T. W. Rhys Davids: Gautama and the Texts of Buddhism

T. W. Rhys Davids began his Pāli studies almost thirty years later with an unquestioning assumption of the historical reality of the Buddha. His sources were numismatics and epigraphy; gleanings from Turnour’s translation of the chronicle of the transmission of Buddhism to Ceylon, the Mahavamsa; and, significantly, the works of Hardy.25 Basic to Rhys Davids’s analytical approach to the Pāli texts was the knowledge that, even at the most generous estimate, they had been written at least a century or more after the passing of the Buddha. They were the work of his followers from a much later date, shaped by their desire to express their reverence for him.26 They were necessarily of a much later invention, since it was, in his opinion “difficult to believe that even his immediate disciples would have spoken of him in the exaggerated forms in which occasionally he is described.”27 Starting from a conviction of the Founder’s historical reality, he simply dismissed the various names of the Buddha that caused Wilson’s doubt as “honorifi c epithets” inspired by hero worship. The particular problem for him was that “their constant use among the Buddhists tended . . . to veil the personality of Gautama.”28 The Buddha was necessarily external to texts, and the texts were necessarily elaborated.

Rhys Davids’s concern here articulates the difference between traditional Theravada Buddhist focus on the Buddha as teacher of the eternal dharma and model of the path to awakening and the assumptions of the modern humanist scholarship he represents. Like Hardy, he chose to refer to the Buddha as “Gautama.” He rejected the personal name Siddhartha (literally “He who has accomplished his aim”), said to have been given to the Buddha as a child, and the commonly used Sakyamuni, “Sage of the Sakyas,” as obviously later marks of respect. Gautama, by contrast, was a simple family name, and as he explained in a footnote, one that had historical credibility. It was still used in a region that the archaeologist Alexander Cunningham had, by this time, identified with Kapilavāstu.29

This historical displacement between the life of the Buddha and the texts of Buddhism was crucial for T. W. Rhys Davids. The great value of Buddhism to him was that the vast collection of its extant sacred texts preserved a record of the evolution of its religious thought from its development out of Brahmanism in the fifth century BCE right through to the present. He first presented this theme, one that would inform his life’s work, in a public lecture in 1877 titled “What Has Buddhism Derived from Christianity?” which Mrs. Rhys Davids chose to publish in the memorial volume of the Journal of the Pāli Text Society following her husband’s death in 1922.30

After explaining in detail the extraordinary similarities between the two great religions, he established that, not only did Buddhism derive nothing from Christianity, there could have been very little influence in either direction. The similarities therefore were the result of the working out of a universal principle, “the same laws acting under similar conditions” (53). His lesson was that the transformation of Gautama into the Buddha that could be so clearly traced through the texts allowed Christians to see more clearly how Jesus had been transformed into the Christ (52–53). In particular, the Buddhist texts showed how a charismatic human being, a great humanist philosopher who had risen up against the ritual, priestcraft, and institutional religion of his time, had over time been deified by his followers. The extraordinary similarities in their lives, the parallel events, strengthened his case. Buddhism was a “religion whose development runs entirely parallel with that of Christianity, every episode, every line of whose history seems almost as if it might have been created for the very purpose of throwing the clearest light on the most difficult and disputed questions of the origins of the European faith” (52).

This was not only the theme of the first lecture, Mrs. Rhys Davids relays, but a passion he retained throughout his life. She recalls that only weeks before his death he encouraged three Japanese students who visited him to follow the path: “Can you trace in the history of your Buddhism,” he asked, “at what time its votaries began to ascribe divine attributes and status to the Buddha? This is worth your investigating.”31 It was the basis of the Hibbert Lectures and recurs throughout his work. Both Rhys Davids use the name Gautama (alternately Gotama) very pointedly to emphasize that the hero was a man. The title “Buddha” was for them evidence of precisely the deification process they worked to expose, the process whereby “Jesus, who recalled man from formalism to the worship of God, His Father and Their Father, became the Christ, the only begotten son of God Most High, while Gotama, the Apostle of Self-Control and Wisdom and Love, became the Buddha, the Perfectly Enlightened, Omniscient one, the Saviour of the World.”32 Buddhism was, to use T. W. Rhys Davids’s expression, “a mirror which allowed Christians to see themselves more clearly.”33 As a foreign religion its very “otherness” provided the emotional distance, the unfamiliarity, and the lack of attachment necessary for people to be able to see how the process of the deification of a great man and the manufacture of sacred texts operated. The principle could then be applied to reveal how the words of Jesus, his humanist morality, had similarly become obscured and sacralized through the well-intentioned, and thoroughly natural, elaborations of his disciples.

It was a call for reform within his own society and offered a solution to the question of the time: what does Christianity mean in an age of science that calls into question “its divine origin and supernatural growth”?34 His consistent refrain was that Christianity, like any other religion, should be able to stand scientific scrutiny. 35 In the Hibbert Lectures delivered in the series Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion in 1881, he specifically compared the Buddha to the philosophers of the European Enlightenment.36 In the preface to his translation of the Dhamma Kakka Ppavattana Sutta (1880), he wrote:

When after many centuries of thought a pantheistic or monotheistic unity has been evolved out of the chaos of polytheism . . . there has always arisen at last a school to whom theological discussions have lost their interest, and who have sought a new solution to the questions to which the theologies have given inconsistent answers, in a new system in which man was to work out here, on earth, his own salvation. It is their place in the progress of thought that helps us to understand how it is that there is so much in common between the Agnostic philosopher of India, the Stoics of Greece and Rome, and some of the newest schools in France and Germany and among ourselves.37

This same quotation is reproduced in the memorial volume forty-two years later. In this scheme the Buddha plays various roles. First he is equated with Jesus as a humanist teacher and founder of a religion, rising up against Brahmanism just as Jesus rejected Judaism. The Buddha, Jesus, and the Enlightenment thinkers all reacted against the ritual and institutional trappings of religion. Developing this scheme, Rhys Davids likens Mahayana Buddhism, a later development, to the Church of Rome. The quotation above associates the Buddha and Jesus with the philosophies and Stoics as agnostics, people “for whom theological discussions have lost their interest,” at a time when “theologies have given inconsistent answers”—such as Rhys Davids believed they were in nineteenth-century Christendom— people who “seek a solution in [a] secular system of self-reliance.”38 They were examples of people seeking a solution in a secular system of self-reliance. T. W. Rhys Davids used the history of Buddhism to establish the idea of a universal pattern of evolution, something that must inevitably unfold. By presenting original Buddhism, Gautama’s humanist philosophy, as the pinnacle of religious thought in India and demonstrating its affinity with nineteenth-century speculation, Rhys Davids proposed that post-Enlightenment secularized Protestant Christianity was the culmination of religious evolution in the West. That is, the new developments in European philosophy, far from being a threat to orthodox religion, the “master error” as Hardy and his colleagues saw them, were the pinnacle of its evolution.

Hardy humanized Gautama to demonstrate the inadequacy of an ethical system that did not depend on God, and though his books fell into obscurity after those of Rhys Davids appeared, his position continued to be argued by fellow Christian defenders such as Barthelemy Saint-Hilaire. As the first line of his book The Buddha and His Religion declared, “In publishing this book I have but one purpose in view: that of bringing out in striking contrast the beneficial truths and greatness of our spiritualistic beliefs.”39 He, like Hardy, was alarmed by the growing interest in atheistic and agnostic ideas and used Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacies of a Godless system. However, the positions of the advocates of free thought and of its enemies both insisted on and depended on the Buddha’s being nothing more than a man. “In the whole of Buddhism there is not a race of God. Man, completely isolated, is thrown upon his own resources,” wrote Saint-Hilaire.40 “Agnostic atheism was the characteristic of the [Buddha’s] system of philosophy,” wrote Rhys Davids.41 The difference was that Saint-Hilaire’s statement was a condemnation; Rhys Davids’s was one of approval. Their contest over the future of Christianity in an age of science reinforced the humanity of Gautama. Though their aims are diametrically opposed, their contest confirmed, contrary to Asian traditions and the evidence of the texts, that the Buddha was nothing more than a man.42
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Part 2 of 2

Consuming Knowledge: The Popular and the Academic

Mrs. Rhys Davids chose to publish the 1877 lecture as a memorial to Thomas not only because it encapsulated the theme he developed throughout his life’s work but because, as she put it, “scanty justice” had been done to his contribution as a popularizer. The lecture had been presented at St. George’s Hall in London. As Mrs. Rhys Davids comments, “He lectured much and in many places, in single lectures and in series, and for the most part to audiences of a more popular stamp than those who attended the Hibbert lectures. Very often he spoke to working men, and loved doing so, for he found them among his keenest listeners.”43 He gave a large number of public lectures, as she explained, partly because of “an incorrigible missionary spirit” (35), but also out of economic necessity. His position as professor of Pāli in University College, London, between 1882 and 1904, was paid on a casual basis. Though he held a number of positions of respect and responsibility, he did not hold a salaried academic position until his appointment to the chair of comparative religion in the Victoria University, Manchester, in 1904.44

In giving him his due as an “inaugural hero,” a foundational figure in the field of Buddhist studies, creator of a tradition of Pāli scholarship that he certainly deserves, one overlooks the fact that, as Mrs. Rhys Davids put it, “most of his books were more popular than academical” and that his work as a popularizer had a wide impact. 45 Many of his books were written for a general audience, beginning with the classic Buddhism, which was published in 1878 under the auspices of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in its series Non-Christian Religious Systems. It went through many editions and sold well. The 1882 edition, just four years after the first, is inscribed “Tenth Thousand.” The Hibbert Lectures came out in 1881 in the series On the Origin and Growth of Religion; Buddhism: Its History and Its Literature appeared in 1896 in the History of Religions series; Buddhist India, a survey of the social and political conditions in which Buddhism arose, was published in 1903 in the Story of the Nations series (this was written after his first visit to India in 1899–1900 and reinforced his early research into historical background of the Buddha); and Early Buddhism (1908) was part of Constable’s series Religions, Ancient and Modern. He also wrote entries on “Buddha” and “Buddhism” for the Encyclopaedia Britannica. These works reached a much wider audience than did the limited editions of the books and journals of the Pāli Text Society.

The mission of the popular work is not easily separated from the academic publications. It shines through in his prefaces, introductory essays, and footnotes to his translations of Pāli texts, as examples already quoted indicate. The association between Gautama and the philosophes, for instance, is quite explicitly made by a footnote to a brief account of Gautama’s life. Rhys Davids mentions that, after preaching his first sermon, the Buddha retired for some time to a quiet life in Migadaya Wood. The note appended to this apparently innocuous comment informs the reader that many modern leaders of metaphysical thought, notably Spinoza, Descartes, Berkeley, Hobbes, Locke, Comte, Mill, and Spencer, have similarly been private, nonprofessorial men and that Leibnitz, Hume, and Schopenhauer are striking exceptions.46 The commentary sits outside the body of the text, but nevertheless inflects the reading of it, as does the association of the Buddha and the philosophes in the introduction to the translation.

The humanist project also impacted on the translation. Although T. W. Rhys Davids advised against translating Buddhist technical terms such as nirvana, aware that any word borrowed from the vocabulary of Christianity would inevitably carry Christian connotations, it was he who first translated the equally difficult term bodhi with the English word “Enlightenment,” its capitalization denoting its association with the European philosophes.47 This remains standard usage. R. C. Childers’s Pāli-English dictionary (1872–75), the only one available at the time, explicitly defined bodhi in distinction from the deductive knowledge and learned knowledge of the European Enlightenment. In another example, Rhys Davids spoke of the attainment of Buddhahood as “the crisis under the Bo-tree,” and interpreted it as a psychological experience rather than a religious one.48 In his Pāli dictionary he writes: “Nibbana is purely and solely an ethical state to be reached in this birth by ethical practices, contemplation and insight. It is therefore not transcendental.”49

Asian Buddhists and the Pali Text Society

The Pāli Text Society nevertheless had the strong support of Asian Buddhist elites from its inauguration. The king of Siam was its patron, extending his duty as dhammaraja to this foreign venture, and fully 50 percent of individual subscribers were Ceylonese bhikkhus. Two Japanese monks, Kenjū Kasawara Nanjō Bun’yū, who were at Oxford studying with Max Muller at the time, became life members. The first issue of the society’s journal reproduced a letter from more than seventy of the most prominent members of the sangha offering advice, manuscripts, and translation assistance. Letters of benediction from Ceylonese Theras show enthusiasm for the project, gratitude to the scholars who volunteered to do the work, but also a degree of apprehension. They warned against confusing the Pitaka texts with commentaries and noncanonical works, mentioned past blunders by Europeans, and strongly suggested they obtain the assistance of learned Theras of Ceylon.50 They provided a list of thirty suitable and willing bhikkhus. 51 This strong Asian Buddhist support continued. A summary of the society’s financial records in 1922 shows that about half of its funds from its inauguration up to that time, both in general donations and donations to the separate dictionary support fund, came from Asian benefactors. Even though the translators worked for the love of it, production costs were considerable. The society could not have carried out its work without them.52

Asian Buddhist patrons funded a number of the society’s publications.53 This was not only a gesture of support and a modern transformation of the traditional merit-making practice of sponsoring the propagation of the dharma. It was also a way of ensuring that texts they considered important were disseminated in the West. Asian patronage and endorsement did not guarantee prompt publication, however. When the prominent Ceylonese Buddhist reformer Anagarika Dharmapala passed through England on his way to Chicago in 1893, he presented Rhys Davids with a manuscript of Yogāvacara’s Manual. When it eventually appeared thirteen years later, retranslated by Mrs. Rhys Davids, she explained that it had been published even then only because “it was incumbent upon us to meet the wishes of one who had shown the Society so much generosity.”54 It was clearly not a priority from her point of view. She apologized that “the publication of a translation of it now, when so much important matter in the Pāli canon is still only accessible to Pāli readers, may seem untimely,” and further undermined its authority by criticizing the quality of the manuscript and the late date of its composition. She warned the reader that this was not original Buddhism; it was of historical interest but was of little value to those who seek the Founder’s true gospel. In spite of the importance it held for practicing Buddhists, the editor’s preface effectively excluded the work as a nonauthoritative copy of a nonoriginal text, on a subject of dubious relation to Buddhism. Even the translated title colored its reception. Mysticism was the antithesis of humanism.

My point is the difficulty Asian Buddhists had in being heard, even though they made considerable attempts to intervene in the discourse. Language was a problem: few local translators would have the specialist vocabulary. They had neither the established authority nor the connections needed for access to a reputable metropolitan publishing house and its systems of distribution. Other obstacles were the rules of the Western academic paradigm that determined which texts were relevant and authoritative representations of Buddhism. These were determined in relation to Western interest, not the recommendation of Asian Buddhists. Though enthusiastic partners in the project to publish the Pāli canon, the aims of the society and its Asian patrons diverged.

East-West Collaboration

The Abhidhammattha-sangaha was another work published only after determined Asian initiative. This time, however, there was strong Asian involvement in the production of the English text. The Ceylonese sangha had urged its publication in 1881, the year the Pāli Text Society was founded, as the best introduction to the study of Theravada Buddhist philosophy, the Abhidhamma. It was eventually published in 1910 after a Burmese group, the Buddhist Society of the Buddhasāsana Samāgama, brought Mrs. Rhys Davids into contact with Burmese scholar Shwe Zan Aung (1871–1932).

There were several reasons for the delay in bringing this text to print, as Mrs. Rhys Davids explained.55 When she began work with the society after her marriage, she was unaware of the advice given by the Thera in 1881. She was interested in the Abhidhamma Pitakas, but in the pursuit of the original demanded by the discipline had “judged it better to get on with the Abhidhamma sources themselves.”56 Her translation of the first book of the Abhidhamma Pitaka was published in 1900 as A Buddhist Manual of Psychological Ethics from the Pāli of the Dhammasangani. 57 Aung sent her his manuscript in 1905, “offered most generously to defray the expenses of printing, and waited three years—till the autumn of 1908” while she translated the work herself.58 The final version was a collaborative effort, “the first attempt to treat of Buddhist philosophy by East and West working hand in hand.”59 Aung is credited with the translation of the published work, Mrs. Rhys Davids with revising and editing it.

Mrs. Rhys Davids comments favorably on both the knowledge of subject matter and the mastery of idiomatic English of her Burmese colleague, but an appendix to the book compiled from almost three hundred folio pages of Aung’s criticisms and her editorial responses to them testifies to the considerable negotiation between them.60 The editor included it because of its value in elucidating some of the terms and concepts that most puzzle inquirers.61 It stands as a testimony to the disagreements between them over points of interpretation—the limits of the philological method when viewed from within the tradition—but also to the ideal of academic objectivity and openness to critique that quality scholarship demanded. The appendix, in particular, is a monument to the generous attitude to constructive critique, to the willingness to acknowledge errors and accept advice that was part of the mission of the society from the start.62

The degree of intense and constructive criticism is apparent from their respective introductory essays. Mrs. Rhys Davids scrutinized the texts used by Aung, their chronology and dating, indicating the problems she had with his disregard for such basics.63 He used sources from several different periods including those of his contemporary teacher, the reformer Ledi Sayādaw, whose innovations, she wrote, “have not yet met with any general acceptance among readers trained in the established commentarial traditions.” 64 She nevertheless conceded the value of the work as “an expression of the living meaning” of Buddhist philosophical terms in contrast to the “etymological connotation” (her emphasis) of Western philological expertise.65 Aung complained of the inadequacy of the philological method: translations based on the literal rendering of terms too often “have for us Buddhists no meaning whatever.” 66 In a thoughtful reflection on the difficulties of translation, Mrs. Rhys Davids agrees that words “may be used in a sense that has very little direct relation to the etymological sense creating pitfalls for the unaided Westerner, and for this we need the living tradition to help us.” 67 Much of the appendix is devoted to the discussion of the precise inflections of various terms available in English to render Buddhist concepts.68 An example of this, and evidence of Aung’s Western education, is when Aung questions the editor’s translation of visesato as “intuitive knowledge”: “I am not clear in what sense you use ‘intuitive’ to express vivesato, which connotes superiority over other kinds of knowledge. Surely not in the Mansellian sense? Or are you restricting ‘intuitions’ to perceptions a priori? . . . Nor do I think you have used it in a Lockean sense since there is no immediate comparison between the two ideas; much less, therefore, is Spinoza’s usage compatible.” 69

Competing Systems of Authority

The effort expended in the exercise of cotranslation indicates the care taken by both sides to preserve the integrity of their systems of validation. For the editor, this meant strict adherence to the rules of academic philology and care for the correct dating of texts, with deference given to the earliest; identifying authorship and authority; mapping changes; seeking the rational; dismissing the “elaborations” and the “metaphysical.” Mrs. Rhys Davids excluded the sections on meditational states, for example, on the grounds that they were evidence of contamination from Mahayana Buddhism.70 Her guiding principle was that “the culture that is distinctly Buddhist of the Theravādin sort is mainly comprised under the twin branches, philosophy of mind (psychology and logic) and philosophy of conduct and ethics.”71 Though this now resonates with popular Western understanding of Buddhism, the modern Burmese Buddhist Aung was aware of how limiting it was.

Aung worked between the two systems. He had graduated with a bachelor of arts from Rangoon College (1892), where he had begun his study of Pāli under Western scholars Emil Forchammer and James Gray.72 He came to Pāli via philology and began studying Buddhist philosophy three years later under learned Buddhists U. Gandhamā and Ledi Sayādaw.73 As a spokesman for Burmese Buddhism, he was bound to preserve doctrinal integrity. The patriarchs of the lineage were for him not simply later voices, nor could he easily dismiss the work of his teacher. As he explained to the editor in response to her question on the authority of Buddhist belief: “I am only acting as a mouthpiece of my country’s teachers. I have no theories of my own, I am at best an interpreter of Burmese views based on Ceylon commentary and the works of Buddhaghosa.” 74 He would later attempt to articulate the Buddhist rules of truth and the system of “strict critical comparison of different parts of the scripture”; Buddhists exegetists “have their own rules of criticism which they rigorously apply.”75 The tension of his position is evident:

But I fear you would be expecting too much of me if you were to ask me to test our traditional philosophic theories by modern science and criticism. . . . I do not ask the West to swallow all that is said in Buddhist books. But I think it is just as well that the West should have a candid statement of all that is calmly said by Buddhists on authority. Else a partial study of what we think and say would give rise to misconceptions as regards Buddhist terminology.76

Yet he happily turned to science, in this case hypnosis, when it seemed to offer validation for Buddhist teaching: “Those who have been accustomed to associate mind with brain, may scoff at the idea of the Arūpa-world. And yet modern hypnotism, in a small way, shows the likelihood of the existence of a world with thought, minus brain activity. How far these Buddhist beliefs are, or are not, borne out by modern science, it is for each scientific generation to declare.”77 Aung’s responses to Mrs. Rhys Davids’s criticisms of the text in his introductory essay, and the critique of the appendix, is framed within Western philosophy, showing both his command of the field and its inadequacy to accommodate Buddhist concepts.78

Aung was an outstanding example of the modern Western-educated Asian elite that formed in Asia in the late nineteenth century, both in countries under colonial rule and in Japan, which was not. As a class they were committed to science and modernity, aware of, and pursuing, intellectual movements in the West, but with a commitment to the intellectual achievements of their heritage. His essay in Compendium of Philosophy is a revised and expanded version of an article titled “The Processes of Thought,” which he had published in the Burmese English-language journal Buddhism. Though undated, it must predate his contact with Mrs. Rhys Davids in 1905. The existence of the journal, and this presentation of a rational scientific Buddhism written by a Western-educated Buddhist layman, is indicative of a local movement toward modern Buddhism at this time.

Buddhism and Asian Modernity

Aung shared with the Buddhist nationalists of Ceylon, Thailand, and Japan a desire to bring knowledge of Buddhism to the West, to demonstrate Buddhist intellectual priority. The Pāli Text Society provided a vehicle for this. A considerable proportion of the essays in the journal were written by Asian Buddhists. Aung dedicated the Compendium of Philosophy to “that small but devoted band of scholars, living and dead, whose self sacrificing labours have paved the way for the appreciation by Western Aryans of the teaching of the GREATEST OF THE ARIYAS” (emphasis in original).79 The frontispiece quotes the Sanyutta-Nikâya (chap. iv, verse 194) of the Pāli canon, speaking of the messengers from the East passing the message of nibbana to the messengers from the West. The publication in 1910 is still celebrated in Burma, with a current Web site declaring it “an epoch in the history of modern Buddhist scholarship and study,”80 reminding us that Asian participation in the international was also a performance available for reinterpretation in the indigenous discourses of nationalism and Buddhist revival.81

On the Death of the Founder

The Buddhism created by the text-centered study was rational, humanistic, validated by the apparatus of Western scholarship, and centered on the historical actuality of Gautama the man and was unabashedly different from Buddhist practice. As T. W. Rhys Davids himself wrote, “The Buddhism of the Pāli Pitakas is not only a quite different thing from Buddhism as hitherto commonly received, but antagonistic to it.”82 Nevertheless, when he died, letters from India, Ceylon, Burma, and Japan paid tribute to him, showing deep gratitude for his promotion of Buddhism in the West. He has been “able to place before the world the best we had ever acquired in our history”;83 he “had appeared at a time when missionary prejudice was misrepresenting Buddhism and undermining the [faith of our young people] and beckoned them back to the glories of Buddhism”;84 “he has done for us what no others have done or can do.”85 The tributes encapsulate the interconnected issues of emerging Asian modernity in a world where being modern was defined in Western terms and of the Pāli Text Society’s role in promoting, extending, and enabling indigenous Buddhists’ initiatives in the process. The interest Buddhism had aroused in the West as a religion of science, a philosophy comparable to that of the latest Western thought, and a religion for the modern world—precisely the features that attracted Rhys Davids—provided the opportunity for pride in local heritage and an indigenous basis for a modern national identity. It made Buddhism acceptable to the Western-educated Asian elites, and with their support, the religious reform already initiated within certain clerical circles was brought into a more general public arena.

Buddhist reform had begun in Ceylon much earlier in the nineteenth century, and though its origins predate the British rule there, the Christian missions undeniably played a part in its formation. In the early 1860s Mohottivatte Gunananda, who had apparently decided to fight Christianity on its own terms formed the Society for the Propagation of Buddhism, in obvious imitation of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. This was the start of “protestant Buddhism,” consciously modeled on Christian forms, Christian models of education, Sunday schools, the publishing of pamphlets and tracts, and even down to adopting an oratorical style of the Evangelists.86 Mohottivatte argued in the Western manner, quoting from the Bible to disprove the omniscience and omnipotence of God. At the famous event at Panadure in 1873 where a group of fifty monks led by Mohottivatte successfully debated against missionaries—the start of Lopez’s lineage of modern Buddhism— he quoted passages from the Old Testament as evidence of devil worship and blood sacrifice in Christianity and countered the missionaries’ attacks on Buddhist cosmology with Biblical accounts of the sun moving around a stationary earth.87 This was a turning point in attracting public support from Buddhism. Mohottivatte published a Sinhalese version of The Questions of King Milinda in 1878.88

The point is that the formation of the Pāli Text Society was preceded by at least two decades of active indigenous reform. During this time local Buddhist leaders attempted to defend Buddhism against Christian attacks, to show the comparative worth of Buddhism against Christianity, and to win the support of the local Western-educated elite on whom the future leadership of the society depended. Mohottivatte’s initiative in inviting Theosophists Henry Steele Olcott and Helena Blavatsky to Ceylon in 1879 shows how he had made the most of Western interest in Buddhism in this campaign. He organized the tour to start from the Buddhist strongholds of the south so that by the time they arrived in the capital Colombo, they were already famous as “The White Buddhists” from the press reports that preceded them.89 It is no surprise that Buddhist reform leaders would greet the formation of the Pāli Text Society two years later with enthusiastic support. The work of the Pāli Text Society continued the reform trajectory, but because of its status, its authority, and its institutionalization within Western publishing circles, it was able to lift the initiatives to another plane.

Gautama in Modern Asia

Buddhist modernity in Asia had also produced its own rationalized version of the life of the Buddha, often using historical and geographical detail to add a sense of modern scientific credibility to the accounts. They tended not to discard the miraculous in the way that Rhys Davids had done, but to interpret it symbolically, accepting the canon in its entirety, but giving it a meaning of contemporary relevance, a retelling for the times in the manner of the long tradition of sacred texts.90 In some cases the humanity of the Buddha was emphasized by adding personal details and incidents not found in the traditional narratives. The result was an equally earthbound Gautama, but the authority of the canon was not impeached. In a negotiation between the demands of modernity and the integrity of tradition, they offered a sacred biography rather than a scientific history.91 Since the historicity of the Buddha was always accepted, if not central, the Western construct was seen less as a challenge than as a partial representation.

There can be no doubt that Asian Buddhist leaders, such as Shwe Zan Aung and Mohottivatte, were well aware of the deficiencies of the Western construct of Buddhism as a representation of their religion, but the Buddhism it offered—the epitome of Enlightenment humanist values, a rational religion, one that could withstand scientific scrutiny—was immensely useful in their own projects of creating Asian Buddhist modernities. As the tribute from the Indian reform leader Mahashchandra Ghosh, a representative of the Hindu reform movement the Brahmo Samaj, suggested, the work of T. W. Rhys Davids and his colleagues had produced the Buddhist equivalent of the modern Hinduism that Rammohan Roy and the Brahmo Samaj sought to construct: the basis of an indigenous modernity that the nation’s educated elite could adopt with pride.

Orientalism Redeployed

Perhaps the clearest demonstration of the value of Rhys Davids’s work is in the famous lecture delivered by the charismatic lay Buddhist reform leader from Ceylon, Anagarika Dharmapala, at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago, 1893. The lecture consisted almost entirely of quotes from Western authorities. He repeated Rhys Davids’s scheme of religious development but gave it the twist of Asian priority. “It is a remarkable indication of the subtlety of Indian speculation that Gautama should have seen deeper than the greatest of modern idealists.” 92 He accepted the rational image of Gautama but rejected the Western interpretation of the doctrine that it was created to support: Western scholars had but scratched the surface. Positivists find it a positivism, while materialists thought it a materialist system; agnostics see it as agnostic. The list goes on mentioning Schopenhauer’s pessimism, Fitche’s pantheism, monotheism, theism, and idealism. All are rejected. Buddhism may contain the wisdom of these Western systems of thought but cannot simply be equated with them. Gautama had the answers to questions the West was only now asking, and India had produced this man twenty-five hundred years ago.

I have written elsewhere on the importance of Buddhism at the World’s Parliament of Religions. Apart from the papers by Buddhist representatives from Ceylon, Siam, and Japan, each of whom presented an interpretation of their religion in negotiation with the existing assumptions of the Western discourse, it was the topic of a number of papers by missionaries and theologians, demonstrating the continuing centrality of Buddhism in the debates on the future of Christianity.93 The parliament was an extension of the lineage we have already seen. Dharmapala and the Japanese delegates had met before, and the brotherhood forged on the basis of shared agendas for promoting modern Buddhism at the event would continue into the pan-Asian movements of the early twentieth century. The event also brings Paul Carus and D. T. Suzuki into the lineage. The shared heritage of the pilgrimage sites of the Buddha’s life in India championed by the Mahabodhi Society, formed by Dharmapala in 1890, created a platform for a pan-Asian Buddhist brotherhood of modern nationalist Buddhism, and inserts the Rhys Davids into the lineage proposed by Lopez.


Research on German orientalism has shown the need to extend the scope of orientalist analysis beyond the colonial context that Said insists on. The simplest way of achieving this is to recognize Said’s undeniably influential work as a case study of the much more general process of the way one society forms knowledge of another.

James Clifford made a similar observation in his review of Orientalism in 1980.94 Sheldon Pollack’s studies of naturalizing inequalities in Indian society, and of the impact of German Indology in the National Socialist state, alerted him to the possibility that orientalism might be “powerfully understood with reference to the national political culture in which it is practiced.” As he put it, “Orientalist constructions in the service of colonial domination may be only a specific historical instance of a larger, transhistorical, albeit locally inflected, interaction of knowledge and power.”95 Scholars of Japan have usefully applied an “orientalist critique” inspired by Orientalism to Western writings on Japan, though regularly prefaced by the observation that Japan was never a colony of the West. The point is that much of the valuable work inspired by Said’s book does not fit within the bounds of the colonial, and that which does, such as the work of the Rhys Davids, cannot be accounted for with a one-dimensional, one-sided image of power as nothing more than domination.

I suggest that rather than stretch orientalism to encompass such situations, one return to the Foucauldian concepts from which Said worked. From this perspective Said’s orientalism offers a well-documented and potent example of the mutually generative power/knowledge nexus, of the technologies of discourse at play in the particular historical context of French colonial power in the Middle East. By repositioning the work within its Foucauldian inspiration, its colonial context becomes a particular example of a set of relations of power such as those that are also intrinsic to nationalism and imperialism, to situations of contest within a nation, or among contesting contributors to a field of discourse at any of its multiple levels.96 Colonialism is then no longer the determining or defining mode. The overarching binaries implied by the colonial model are disrupted and, as the processes shaping the definition of modern Buddhism show, create a space for local agency, local scholars, and vernacular scholarship, inviting complexity into the analysis. The hegemonic power of colonial domination gives way to a more subtle vision of the micropolitics of contest and negotiation.

The work of the Rhys Davids undeniably took place in a colonial context and exhibits many of the key characteristics of orientalism described by Said. Most obvious, it created an object that had much more to do with Western concerns of the time than with the lived reality of Asia; it denigrated this contemporary lived reality; it glorified a distant past against which the present was unfavorably measured; and it provided tools for maintaining Western domination in Asia. Yet the Pāli Text Society was strongly supported by Asians; the knowledge produced was appropriated by them and redeployed to indigenous advantage. In this example, returning to Said’s Foucauldian inspiration creates space to consider the importance of Asian agency in the formation of modern Buddhism. It also revives the importance of the technologies of discourse: the socially and historically determined processes that determine who might speak, on what topics, and with what authority and that control the publication and distribution of knowledge.

While the marginalization and silencing of Asian voices in Western discourse described by Said was very real, the process by which this occurred was not simply a colonial power of suppression. The story of modern Buddhism points to the more subtle operation of what Michel Foucault has referred to as “the regime of truth,” that is, the assembly of exclusionary rules within any society that control who might speak, with what authority, on what subjects, and from what perspectives, the rules that determine how scholarship must be carried out and that even extend to the processes of peer review, publication, distribution, and circulation of knowledge.

Western scholars who attempted to challenge the established truth similarly went unheard. 97 The construct of Pāli Buddhism performed too important a function in the crucial discourses on the future of Christianity in the time of science to allow its modification, and the rules operated to preserve its integrity, to limit unauthorized speech. For Asian Buddhists to successfully intervene in the Western discourse, to have their voices heard, and to challenge existing Western knowledge, they needed to play the game on Western terms. In time this did happen, as seen to a limited extent with Shwe Zan Aung.

Western domination of these rules takes on a particular importance in the late-nineteenth-century context of social change in Asia and the increasing dissemination of knowledge through the popular press. Buddhist traditions of lineage defined by the direct transmission of teaching from master to disciple were replaced in modern Buddhism by transmission through the discursive modes of public lectures and publications, the networks of modern communications. It is therefore subject to the formative processes of reading, interpretation, appropriation, to the play of discursive fields. Foucault’s attention to discourse therefore seems a most appropriate tool for tracing its history.



1. Charles Hallisey, “Roads Taken and Not Taken in the Study of Theravâda Buddhism,” in Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism Under Colonialism, ed. Donald S. Lopez (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 31–61. The term was coined by Said to describe the founders of orientalism: “builders of the field, creators of a tradition, progenitors of the Orientalist brother hood”; people who established a central authority, created a vocabulary, and set rules that could be used by others. Edward Said, Orientalism (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978), 122.

2. Donald S. Lopez, A Modern Buddhist Bible: Essential Readings from East and West (Boston: Beacon, 2002).

3. Ibid., 244. Chogyam Trungpa’s system of teachings combines Buddhist teachings with other forms of Asian culture, especially the traditional arts of Japan.

4. I do not mean to imply that this is an oversight. There is simply a limit to what can be included in an anthology, and Lopez has chosen to highlight the less familiar connections. Ibid., xl.

5. Ibid., x.

6. Ibid., xiv. Lopez is referring to Henry Steele Olcott’s understanding of Buddhism. It could describe T. W. Rhys Davids’s position equally well, perhaps better, since Rhys Davids did not share Olcott’s interest in the less than scientific aspects of spiritualism.

7. He emphasized the point with a comparative table. T. W. Rhys Davids, “Introduction to the Mahāpadana Suttanta,” in Dialogues of the Buddha, translations from the Dīgha Nikaya, Sacred Books of the Buddhists, ed. T. W. Rhys Davids and C. A. F. Rhys Davids (London: Oxford University Press, 1910), 3:1; tables appear on 6 – 7. John S. Strong, in The Buddha: A Short Biography (Oxford: Oneworld, 2001), 10–14, describes the process of repetition as creating a pattern of actions on how to be a Buddha, “a biographical paradigm, a Buddha-life blueprint, which they, and all buddhas, follow” (12). The repetition, the message that this Buddha, Sakyamuni, was not unique, but that he followed the pattern of many others, was precisely the point. This was also the point of auspicious signs on the body of the Buddha, noted at his birth.

8. “The Foundation of the Kingdom of Righteousness,” T. W. Rhys Davids’s translation of the Dhamma Kakka Ppavattana Sutta, in Buddhist Sutrâs, vol. 2, Sacred Books of the East (Oxford: Clarendon, 1881; repr., Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1980), 147.

9. T. W. Rhys Davids, Ancient Coins and Measures of Ceylon (London: International Numismata Orientalia, 1877; repr., New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1996). First published as three articles in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland in 1875; see Ananda Wickremaratne, The Genesis of an Orientalist (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1984), 145. Wickremaratne gives a detailed account of his life in Ceylon as well as revisiting his work.

10. Wickremaratne, Genesis, 145.

11. T. W. Rhys Davids, Buddhism: A Sketch of the Life and Teachings of Gautama, the Buddha (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1881); C. A. F. Rhys Davids, “The Passing of the Founder,” Journal of the Pāli Text Society (1923): 5. His first translation would appear soon after this, and subsequent editions replace references to previous work with those of his own. The name “Gautama” is alternatively spelled “Gotama.” There is no consistency in the texts. I have chosen to use “Gautama” throughout, except where I am quoting the work of others.

12. T. W. Rhys Davids, Buddhist Birth Stories (London: Trubner, 1880); and Rhys Davids, Buddhist Suttas (Oxford: Clarendon, 1880). The five volumes of the Vinaya Texts translated by T. W. Rhys Davids and Hermann Oldenberg were nearing completion in 1881.

13. T. W. Rhys Davids, Hibbert Lectures: Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as Illustrated by Some Points in the History of Indian Buddhism (London: Williams and Norgate, 1881), app. 3, “Pāli Text Society,” 233.

14. H. H. Wilson, “On Buddha and Buddhism,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 16 (1854): 235.

15. Rev. R. Spence Hardy, Eastern Monachism (London: Williams and Norgate, 1850); and Hardy, Manual of Budhism (London: Partridge and Oakey, 1853). For a detailed account of early English-language writing on Buddhism, see Philip Almond, The British Discovery of Buddhism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). Burnouf’s Le lotus de la bonne loi was first published in 1852. Eugene Burnouf, Le lotus de la bonne loi (The Lotus Sutra), 2 vols., new ed., with preface by S. Levi (Paris: Maissonneuve, 1925) (Bibliotheque orientale, vols. 9–10).

16. The terms Northern Buddhism and Southern Buddhism were used in early scholarship as equivalents of Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism, respectively. While they reflected the observed geographical presence of these schools of Buddhism at the time, they are problematic, not least because they conceal the widespread presence of Mahayana Buddhism throughout South and Southeast Asia in earlier history.

17. Wilson, “On Buddha and Buddhism,” 245–46.

18. Hallisey, “Roads Taken and Not Taken,” 36, describes the positivist histories of the time and the logic of seeking knowledge of the man to enable the rescue of his words from the sacred texts.

19. See the introduction to Strong, Buddha, for a concise overview of the problems of the biography in Buddhism, what is available in the various texts, and the functions of the various retellings.

20. Rev. Robert Spence Hardy, The British Government and Idolatry in Ceylon (Colombo, Sri Lanka: n.p., 1839). Further details on Hardy are in Judith Snodgrass, Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 194–202. For further details on the Kandyan Convention and its implications for the definition of Buddhism in mid-nineteenth-century Ceylon, see K. M. De Silva, Social Policy and Missionary Organizations in Ceylon, 1840–1855 (London: Longmans, 1965); and Kitsiri Malalgoda, Buddhism in Sinhalese Society, 1750–1900: A Study of Religious Revival and Change (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976).

21. Hardy, preface to Eastern Monachism, ix (emphasis added).

22. Ibid.

23. Hardy, Eastern Monachism, 339.

24. Wilson, “On Buddha and Buddhism,” 247.

25. See C. A. F. Rhys Davids, “Passing of the Founder.” His first attempt to date the death of the Buddha appeared in 1877 in T. W. Rhys Davids, Ancient Coins and Measures. His entry “Buddhism” in the Encyclopaedia Britannica appeared in 1876. He would continue the pursuit in his Buddhist India (London: Unwin, 1903) and Early Buddhism (London: Constable, 1908). (His work remains authoritative; Hallisey, “Roads Taken and Not Taken,” 55 n. 25.)

26. For his own description of his method, see T. W. Rhys Davids, Buddhism, 16–17.

27. T. W. Rhys Davids, preface to Buddhist Suttas, 2:xx.

28. T. W. Rhys Davids, Buddhism, 28 (emphasis added).

29. T. W. Rhys Davids, Buddhism, 27–28. He lists the terms used in the texts: the Buddha, the Enlightened One; Sakya sinha, the Lion of the Sakyas; Sakyamuni, the Sakya sage; Sugata, the happy one; Sattha, the teacher; Jina, the Conqueror; Bhagava, the Blessed One; Loka natha, the Lord of the World; Sarvajna, the Omniscient One; Dharma raja, the king of righteousness; and many others. He discusses the possibility that Siddhartha might simply reflect a local preference for grand names. On Cunningham’s discovery of Buddhist sacred sites, see Janice Lesko, Sacred Traces: British Explorations of Buddhism in South Asia (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2003).

30. T. W. Rhys Davids, “What Has Buddhism Derived from Christianity?” Journal of the Pāli Text Society (1923): 37–63.

31. C. A. F. Rhys Davids, ed., “Report of the Pāli Text Society for 1922,” Journal of the Pāli Text Society (1923): 31.

32. T. W. Rhys Davids, “What Has Christianity Derived From Buddhism?” 52.

33. T. W. Rhys Davids, Hibbert Lectures.

34. T. W. Rhys Davids, “What Has Buddhism Derived from Christianity?” 51.

35. T. W. Rhys Davids, Hibbert Lectures, 31.

36. Ibid. In 1878, Max Muller had addressed the theme from the point of view of Sanskrit texts, which he studied seeking the mutually dependent evolution of language and religion.

37. T. W. Rhys Davids, introduction to “Foundation of the Kingdom of Righteousness,” 145 (emphasis added). The message is repeated elsewhere. See, e.g., T. W. Rhys Davids, Hibbert Lectures, 30.

38. T. W. Rhys Davids, Hibbert Lectures, 30.

39. J. Barthelemy Saint-Hilaire, The Buddha and His Religion (London, 1860; repr., London: Bracken Books, 1996), 11. The book was first published in French (Paris: Didier, 1860). Saint-Hilaire’s work carried more academic authority because he had studied Sanskrit, but the first edition relied very heavily on Hardy. A 1914 edition updated the references to include Rhys Davids and other later works.

40. Saint-Hilaire, The Buddha and His Religion, 13.

41. T. W. Rhys Davids, Buddhism, 207.

42. In Snodgrass, “Alterity: Buddhism as the Other of Christianity,” in Presenting Japanese Buddhism, I discuss at greater length how this discursive engagement shaped Western knowledge of Buddhism.

43. C. A. F. Rhys Davids, “Editorial note,” Journal of the Pāli Text Society (1922–23): 35.

44. This was the first university post created in Britain for that purpose. His teaching covered all religions except those of Greece and Rome, which were covered by the teachers of classics. Ibid., 15–16. He held numerous positions: secretary and librarian of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1885–1904; president of the Manchester Oriental Society; and president of the India Society, 1910. Among his awards are doctor of laws, University of Edinburgh; doctor of letters, Manchester University; and doctor of science from Copenhagen and Sheffield. For details of his financial position, see Wickremaratne, Genesis, chap. 10. His main source of income before 1904 was his position as secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society.

45. C. A. F. Rhys Davids, “Editorial note,” Journal of the Pāli Text Society (1923): 35.

46. T. W. Rhys Davids, Buddhism, 53.

47. Previous translations such as Hardy’s had simply referred to “attaining bodhi ” or “achieving Buddhahood.”

48. Robert Caesar Childers, A Dictionary of the Pali Language (London: Trubner, 1875; repr., New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1993); T. W. Rhys Davids, Buddhism, 55.

49. Pāli Text Society Dictionary, 427b, quoted in Guy Richard Welbon, Buddhist Nirvana and Its Western Interpreters (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), 231.

50. Journal of the Pāli Text Society (1882): 5.

51. The work of translation was done almost exclusively by Western scholars who volunteered their services. The accounts show some honorariums for translators, but the amounts are small.

52. T. W. Rhys Davids, “Report for 1882,” Journal of the Pāli Text Society (1922–23): 60–65. The one- or two-guinea annual subscriptions of many Westerners are dwarfed by the £700 of the king of Siam and the £500 each of the Japanese Baron Iwasaki and Kojiro Matsukata. Most generous of all was Edward T. Sturdy, Esq., who donated £800.

53. Several volumes were published under the patronage of the king of Siam, others by the raja of Bhinga. The ranee of Bhinga made separate substantial donations.

54. C. A. F. Rhys Davids, “Preface,” in Manual of a Mystic (Yogâvacara’s Manual), trans. L. Woodward (London: Pāli Text Society by H. Milford, 1916), vii. The raja of Bhinga not only had subsidized the printing but also had arranged for a translation by a Ceylonese bhikkhu. This was apparently discarded.

55. C. A. F. Rhys Davids, preface to Compendium of Philosophy: Being a Translation Now Made for the First Time from the Original Pāli of the Abhidhammattha- Sangaha, trans. and with introductory essay and notes by Shwe Zan Aung, rev. and ed. C. A. F. Rhys Davids (London: H. Frowde for the Pāli Text Society, 1910), xvii.

56. Ibid., xi.

57. C. A. F. Rhys Davids, A Buddhist Manual of Psychological Ethics from the Pāli of the Dhamma-sangani (London: Royal Asiatic Society, 1900).

58. C. A. F. Rhys Davids, preface to Compendium, xi.

59. Ibid., xii.

60. C. A. F. Rhys Davids and Shwe Zan Aung, appendix, Compendium, 221-85.

61. C. A. F. Rhys Davids, preface to Compendium, xii.

62. T. W. Rhys Davids, “Report from 1882,” Journal of the Pāli Text Society (1882): 5. Aung also contributed an introductory essay; Shwe Zan Aung, “An Introductory Essay to the Compendium of Philosophy,” 1-76. An earlier version was published in the English-language Burmese journal Buddhism, 1, no. 2 (n.d).

63. Also of interest is that the English translation of the title successfully positioned the book out of the exotica of Asian belief systems and into the mainstream of the Dewey system, filed as philosophy. Books on Buddhism sit around 294; Buddhist Birth Stories is in mythology, 398; Compendium is with philosophy at 181.4. Dhamma-sangani (Buddhist Manual of Psychological Ethics) is at 294.3, among Buddhist texts.

64. C. A. F. Rhys Davids, preface to Compendium, ix. Ledi Sayādaw (1846–1923), a modern reformer, revived the practice of vipassana meditation and wrote on Buddhism in the vernacular language to make it widely accessible. He is another patriarch of modern Buddhism.

65. Ibid., xiv.

66. Aung, discussion on the translation of the term “Javana,” in appendix, Compendium, 246 (emphasis in original).

67. C. A. F. Rhys Davids, preface to Compendium, xiv.

68. Aung, appendix, Compendium, 245–50.

69. Aung, appendix, Compendium, 225.

70. C. A. F. Rhys Davids, preface to Compendium, xvii – xxi.

71. Ibid., xxii, xvii.

72. Ibid., xiii. Aung was in government service, appointed treasury officer and headquarter’s magistrate at Henzada.

73. Ibid., xiii.

74. Aung, appendix, Compendium, 283–84.

75. Shwe Zan Aung, “Buddhism and Science,” Journal of the Burma Research Society (1911–77), (accessed 1 June 2006). The online version gives no date or page numbers. It is interesting to note that this English-language journal with Burmese distribution began shortly after the publication of the Compendium.

76. Aung, appendix, Compendium, 284–85.

77. Ibid., 285. Mrs. Rhys Davids’s footnote commented that this is “on all fours” with Fechner in mind on plants.

78. Ibid., 85, 64.

79. Aung, dedication in Compendium, frontispiece.

80. “Shwe Zan Aung, One of Burma’s Greatest Scholars,” Irrawaddy 9, no. 1 (2001), database/2001/vol9.1/culture.html (accessed 29 May 2006). The article commemorates his 130th birthday anniversary.

81. For a case study of Japan, see James Ketelaar, “Strategic Occidentalism: Meiji Buddhists at the World’s Parliament of Religions,” Buddhist-Christian Studies 11 (1991): 37–56.

82. T. W. Rhys Davids, Buddhist Suttas, 2:xxv.

83. C. A. F. Rhys Davids, “Report of the Pali Text Society for 1922,” Journal of the Pāli Text Society (1922): 28-31, reproduces extracts from some of the many messages of condolence that she had received.

84. D. C. Alwis Hewavitarne, “Report for 1922,” Journal of the Pāli Text Society (1922): 29–30.

85. Mahashchandra Ghosh, Hazaribagh Representative, General Committee of the Sadhara Brahmo Samaj, ibid., 28.

86. On the Ceylonese Buddhist reform movements in the nineteenth century, see Malalgoda, Buddhism in Sinhalese Society.

87. J. M. Peebles, The Great Debate: Buddhism and Christianity Face to Face (Colombo, Sri Lanka, n.d.), 154.

88. For an account of the pamphlets and publications, see Malalgoda, Buddhism in Sinhalese Society, 228.

89. The ship called into Colombo, but Mohottivatte requested that they not disembark until the second port of call, Galle. See Henry Steele Olcott, Old Diary Leaves, Second Series, 1878–83 (Adyar, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1974), 157–58.

90. Strong, in Buddha, describes the tellings and uses of the life of the Buddha through tradition. See also Frank E. Reynolds, “The Many Lives of the Buddha,” in The Biographical Process: Studies in the History and Psychology of Religion, ed. Frank E. Reynolds and Donald Capps (The Hague: Mouton, 1976), 37-62.

91. Reynolds, The Biographical Process, 3. The traditional versions continue to circulate with full mythological poetry.

92. Anagarika Dharmapala, “The World’s Debt to Buddhism,” in Return to Righteousness, ed. Ananda Guruge (Colombo, Sri Lanka, 1896), 4.

93. Snodgrass, Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West.

94. James Clifford, review of Orientalism, by Edward Said, History and Theory 19 (1980): 204–23. As Clifford observed, Said’s Orientalism was itself a discursive strategy, part of the “speaking back” of a postcolonial subject.

95. Sheldon Pollock, “Deep Orientalism? Notes on Sanskrit and Power beyond the Raj,” in Orientalism and the Post-Colonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia, ed. Carol A. Breckenridge and Peter van de Veer (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), 76.

96. Michel Foucault, “Truth and Power,” in Michel Foucault: Power/Knowledge, ed. Colin Gordon (Brighton, UK: Harvester, 1980), 109–33.

97. Emile Senart, e.g., who proposed in his Essai sur la legend du Buddha (Essay on the Legend of the Buddha) (Paris, 1875) that the Buddha was an allegorical figure, was dismissed for relying on later texts.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:58 pm

St John's Wood
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/17/20

By the time we reached St John’s Wood (a name that was familiar to me from correspondence with Christmas Humphreys, who lived there), the sun had come out from behind the clouds and was shining on the slate roofs and neat little front gardens with their roses, delphiniums, and antirrhinums.

-- Moving Against the Stream: The Birth of a new Buddhist Movement, by Sangharakshita [Dennis Lingwood]

London borough: Westminster Camden
Ceremonial county: Greater London
Region: London
Country: England
Sovereign state: United Kingdom
UK Parliament: Westminster North
London Assembly: West Central; Barnet and Camden

St John's Wood is a district in the City of Westminster, west London, lying about 2.5 miles (4 km) northwest of Charing Cross. Traditionally the northern part of the ancient parish and Metropolitan Borough of Marylebone, it extends east to west from Regent’s Park to the Edgware Road, with the Swiss Cottage area of Hampstead lying to the north.[1][2]

The area is best known for Lord's Cricket Ground, home of Marylebone Cricket Club, Middlesex CCC, and a regular international Test Cricket venue. It also includes the Abbey Road Studios, well known through its association with the Beatles.


Once part of the Great Middlesex Forest, from 1238 it was, as St. Johns Wood Farm, a property of St John's Priory, Clerkenwell (the Knights of St John of Jerusalem [Knights Hospitaller]). This area was equivalent to what was then the north part of Marylebone.

The Priory allocated the estate estate to agricultural tenants as a source of produce and income.[3] The estate remained Crown property until 21 March 1675 (1676) when Charles II granted the St John's Wood estate to Charles Henry Wotton[4]. On 22 March 1732 (1733) City merchant Henry Samuel Eyre (1676-1754) acquired the majority of the estate, around 500 acres, from Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield. The St John's Wood estate came to be known as the Eyre estate in the 19th century after it was developed by the Eyre brothers. The estate still exists much reduced geographically.

Built environment

A masterplan for the development of St John's Wood was prepared in 1794 but development did not start until 1804 when Henry Samuel Eyre II (1770-1851) and Walpole Eyre (1773-1856) held their first auction.[5] St John's Wood developed from the early 19th century onwards. One of the first developers was James Burton.[6] It was among the first London suburbs with lower-density villa housing and frequent avenues, but fewer communal garden squares. Most of the villas have since been subdivided and replaced by small apartment blocks or terraces.[7] This pattern of development has made it one of the most expensive areas of London.[8]

It is an affluent neighbourhood,[9] with the area postcode (NW8) ranked by Forbes magazine as the fifth most expensive in London, based on average home prices in 2007.[10] According to a 2014 survey, St John's Wood tenants pay the highest average rent in London, at £1,889 per week.[11]

The area is home to St. John's Wood Church Grounds, which contains the only nature reserve in the City of Westminster. Much of the neighbourhood is covered by a conservation area, a small part of which extends into neighbouring Camden.[12]

St John's Wood is the location of Lord's Cricket Ground, home of Middlesex County Cricket Club, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), an international test cricket grounds known as the Home of Cricket[13] on account of its role as the original headquarters of cricket. Lords opened in 1810, replacing Lord's Old Ground, also in St John’s Wood, which had been in operation since 1787 and which was subsequently redeveloped as Dorset Square.

Abbey Road Studios are located in Abbey Road, where The Beatles recorded, notably the Abbey Road album, the cover of which features the band crossing the road.

The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery was formerly based at St John's Wood Barracks. The regiment moved to Woolwich on 6 February 2012; the barracks has been demolished and the site developed as upmarket housing.[14] Grove Road power station in Lodge Road was a former electricity generating station that operated from 1902 until its closure and demolition in 1969. It is now the site of two major high-voltage electricity sub-stations.[15]


For education in St John's Wood, see List of schools in the City of Westminster.
The area has various schools, both state and independent:

• 3 House Club
• Robinsfield Infant School
• Saint Christina's Primary School
• Barrow Hill Junior School
• George Eliot Primary School
• Quintin Kynaston Community Academy
• The American School in London
• Arnold House School

Places of worship

St John's Wood has a range of places of worship.


• Abbey Road Baptist Church
• St John's Wood Church (Church of England)
• St Mark's Church, Hamilton Terrace (Church of England)
• The Church of Our Lady (Roman Catholic)


• London Central Mosque


• St John’s Wood United Synagogue
• The Liberal Jewish Synagogue
• The New London Synagogue
• Saatchi Shul

Transport and locales

Neighbouring locations:

• Belsize Park to the north-east
• Hampstead to the north
• Kilburn to the north-west
• Lisson Grove to the south
• Maida Vale to the south-west
• Marylebone to the south
• Primrose Hill to the east
• Regent's Park to the south
• Swiss Cottage to the north

The nearest London Underground stations are St John's Wood and Swiss Cottage on the Jubilee line; Maida Vale, Marylebone and Warwick Avenue on the Bakerloo line; and Baker Street on Bakerloo line, Jubilee line, Hammersmith & City line, Metropolitan line and Circle line.

The nearest London Overground station is South Hampstead.

Notable residents

Commemorative blue plaques

• Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema OM (1836–1912), painter, at 44 Grove End Road[16]
• Gilbert Bayes (1872–1953), sculptor, at 4 Greville Place[17]
• Sir Joseph Bazalgette (1819–1891), civil engineer, at 17 Hamilton Terrace[18]
• Sir Thomas Beecham CH (1879–1961), conductor and impresario, at 31 Grove End Road[19]
• George Frampton (1860–1928), sculptor, at 32 Queen's Grove[20]
• William Powell Frith (1819–1909), painter, at 114 Clifton Hill[21]
• Guy Gibson V.C. (1918–1944), pilot and leader of the Dam Busters, at 32 Aberdeen Place[22]
• Thomas Hood (1799–1845), poet, at 28 Finchley Road[23]
• Thomas Huxley (1825–1895), biologist, at 38 Marlborough Place[24]
• Melanie Klein (1882–1960), psychoanalyst, at 42 Clifton Hill[25]

Past and present residents

• Michael Algar – musician and songwriter
• David Alliance, Baron Alliance – businessman and politician
• A. J. Ayer – philosopher, was born and grew up in the area[26]
• Douglas Bader – distinguished World War II fighter pilot, was born there
• Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium – member of the Belgian royal family
• Chili Bouchier – actress
• Charles Bradlaugh – founder and first president of the National Secular Society lived at 20, Circus Road, house since demolished, now St John's Wood library
• Richard Branson – entrepreneur, founder of Virgin Group[27]
• Sarah Burton – fashion designer
• James Caan – entrepreneur
• Christabel Cockerell – British painter
• Wayne Daniel – Middlesex and West Indian cricketer
• Jill Esmond – actress, first wife of Laurence Olivier
• Vanessa Feltz – broadcaster
• Andy Fletcher – musician (Depeche Mode)
• Leonard N. Fowles – organist/composer
• Lucian Freud – artist
• Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau – member of the Dutch Royal Family (Wellington Hospital)
• Noel Gallagher – musician and songwriter
• Sidney Frank Godley VC – soldier, school caretaker
• Avram Grant – football manager
• Daphne Guinness – socialite
• Tony Hicks – musician
• Stephen Hough – concert pianist
• Eric Idle – actor and comedian[28]
• Andy Irvine – child actor and folk musician[29]
• Kia Joorabchian – businessman
• Nigel Kennedy – violinist
• Imran Khan – cricketer, and Pakistani politician and current prime minister[27]
• Lillie Langtry – actress[7]
• John Lawford – Royal Navy officer
• Damian Lewis – actor
• Sir John Major[27] – former prime minister
• Terry Manning – music producer
• Stella Margetson – novelist and author
• Sir Paul McCartney – musician[30]
• Ewan McGregor – actor
• Jonathan Rhys Meyers – actor
• Sir Jonathan Miller – writer, opera director, physiologist and sculptor
• Kate Moss – model[citation needed]
• Elisabeth Murdoch – businesswoman and daughter of Rupert Murdoch[31]
• Alex Prior – singer/composer
• Keith Richards – rock musician and songwriter of The Rolling Stones lived on Carlton Hill in the 1960s.[32]
• Nicolas Roeg - director and cinematographer
• Mark Ronson – musician, DJ, singer, and record producer
• Georgina Castle Smith – children's writer
• Mel Smith – comedian, actor, film director
• Gregg Sulkin – actor
• Sachin Tendulkar – cricketer
• James Tissot – French painter and illustrator; sold his house at 17 (now 44) Grove End Road to Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
• Norman Shanks Kerr – physician
• Jihadi John – British Islamic extremist[citation needed]
• John Weston – cricketer
• Clarissa Dickson Wright – chef[citation needed]
• Dornford Yates (1885–1960), English novelist, real name Cecil William Mercer, at Elm Tree Road

St John's Wood in literature, music and television

• Henstridge Place and Woronzow Road London NW8 featured in the “Give Us This Day Arthur Daley’s Bread” episode of the popular U.K. television series Minder.
• Count and Countess Fosco live at No. 5 Forest Road, St. John's Wood in Wilkie Collins's 1859 sensation novel The Woman in White.
• Irene Adler lives there (in Briony Lodge on Serpentine Avenue) in Arthur Conan Doyle's 1891 Sherlock Holmes story "A Scandal in Bohemia".
• In the first instalment of John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga, The Man of Property (1906), Young Jolyon lives on fictional Wistaria Avenue with his second wife and family.
• St John's Wood is the home of fictional characters Bingo and Rosie Little in P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster short stories and novels, written from the early 1920s onward.
• Referenced in the Rolling Stones song, "Play with Fire", released in 1965.
• The protagonist of J.G. Ballard's novel Millennium People (2003), is a psychologist who lives in St. John's Wood, which he abandons to join a middle-class rebellion.
• Appears in two books by Howard Jacobson, as the setting for his 2004 book The Making of Henry, followed in his 2010 Man Booker Prize winning novel The Finkler Question as the planned location for the Museum of Anglo-Jewish Culture.
• Violet Hill, a street and area off Abbey Road with Violet Hill Gardens and Violet Hill Hospital, is the source of the name in Coldplay's 2008 song "Violet Hill".
• Due to the conveniently close location to Elstree Studios, (just over 10 miles), St John's Wood was used extensively for location shooting for many of the ITC adventure shows of the 1960s and 1970s, including The Saint (TV series), Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), The Persuaders! and Return of the Saint.
• Duran Duran’s video for their first single "Planet Earth" was shot at St. Johns Wood with Russell Mulcahy in December 1980.
• It is noted in Robbie William's Christmas album song,' Idlewild'. He had 'never been to St John's Wood'.


1. "Camden Council: St John's Wood (East and West) conservation area appraisal and management strategy at 1.1 measures "3.83 hectares" otherwise the area is in Westminster and at 5.3 "Eyre's estate" [approximately equal in size] measured 500 acres". Retrieved 27 March 2018.
2. "Westminster Council: St John's Wood Conservation Area Appraisal: 3.6 Sale of land in St John's Wood by the Crown began in the early 18th century. Henry Samuel Eyre acquired the largest portion in 1732: a 500 acre estate that stretched roughly from what is now Rossmore Road to Swiss Cottage, bounded by Hamilton Terrace to the west and Avenue Road to the east"(PDF). Retrieved 27 March 2018.
3. Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales Vol. 3 "JOHN'S WOOD (ST.)", p.1067, 1870-72, John Marius Wilson archived
4. Galinou, Mireille. (2010). Cottages and villas : the birth of the garden suburb. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-300-16726-9. OCLC 639574771.
5. Galinou (2010). Yale. pp. 61 & 88. Missing or empty |title=(help)
6. "Celebrating the birth in July 1761 of James Burton, the founder of St Leonards-on-Sea and builder-developer in Bloomsbury". Victoria County History. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
7. Elrington, C R (Editor); Baker, T F T; Bolton, Diane K; Croot, Patricia E C, "A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 9, p.60–63", 1989. Retrieved 24 January 2011
8. "U.K.'s Most Expensive Postcodes". Forbes. 12 December 2007. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
9. Sherwood, Bob (7 April 2010). "Affluent enclave sitting on political front line". Financial Times.
10. "In Pictures: London's Most Expensive Postcodes". Forbes.
11. Prudence Ivey (20 November 2014). "St John's Wood tenants pay the highest rent in London - Hampstead & Highgate Property". Retrieved 7 June 2017.
12. ^
13. "Lord's". Cricinfo. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
14. Ross Lydall (6 February 2012). "Final salute: St John's Wood bids farewell to the King's Troop after two centuries – UK – News". Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
15. "St. John's Wood LPN Regional Development Plan" (PDF). UK Power Networks. 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
16. Plaque detail at English Heritage
17. Plaque detail
18. Plaque detail
19. Plaque detail
20. Plaque detail
21. Plaque detail
22. Plaque detail
23. Plaque detail
24. Plaque detail
25. Plaque detail
26. Anthony Quinton. "ALFRED JULES AYER". Retrieved 7 June 2017.
27. "St. John's Wood".
28. Prudence Ivey (10 November 2014). "For sale: Monty Python star Eric Idle's St John's Wood house - Hampstead & Highgate Property". Retrieved 7 June 2017.
29. O'Toole, Leagues (2006). The Humours of Planxty. Ireland: Hodder Headline. ISBN 0-340-83796-9.
30. Fusion Advertising & Design. "Area Guide to St John's Wood – Property guide to St John's Wood from". Retrieved 25 May 2012.
31. Jonathan Prynn (15 October 2014). "Rupert Murdoch's daughter buys home in St John's Wood for £38.5m after split from husband Matthew Freud". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
32. Detailed in Richards' 2010 autobiography, "Life"

External links

Media related to St. John's Wood at Wikimedia Commons

• History of St John's Wood
• Map of St John's Wood and the surrounding districts
• & (advertising & marketing)
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Tue Aug 18, 2020 12:28 am

Robin Banerjee [Buddharakshita]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/17/20

In Calcutta I lost no time contacting Robin Banerjee, the idealistic young Bengali whom I had met in Singapore. He was there as part of the Congress Medical Mission to Malaya, we had become good friends, and on the Mission’s return to India we had agreed that as soon as I was free we would meet in Calcutta and somehow work together. When my leave ended I therefore said goodbye to my uncle and his family, and Robin and I moved first to the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture and then, a month or so later, to the Maha Bodhi Society. We were not very happy in either place. In neither of them did we find the sort of conditions that were, we believed, essential to our ethical and spiritual development. Moreover, towards the end of March, when we were staying at the Maha Bodhi Orphanage and looking after the boys, there occurred a renewal of the communal rioting of the previous year. Throughout the city Muslims attacked Hindus and Sikhs, and Hindus and Sikhs retaliated by attacking Muslims. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed, and I witnessed more bloodshed and violence than I had ever seen while in the army. Calcutta was not a particularly healthy place to be just then. But the Maha Bodhi Society’s headquarters, to which the orphans had been removed for their safety, was not a particularly healthy place either, morally and spiritually speaking, and the longer my friend and I stayed the more we became aware of this unpleasant fact. When I left Calcutta the following month to attend an inter-religious gathering in Ahmedabad, on the other side of the country, as a representative of Buddhism, it was therefore with the hope that I would be able to contact other Buddhists and make arrangements for us to join a more genuinely Buddhist organization.

At the week-long Dharma Parishad, which was dominated by Hindu holy men of various colourful persuasions, I met Pandit-ji, an aged Bengali scholar of venerable appearance who had plans for the revival of Buddhism in India. He invited me to accompany him to Kishengunj in the UP, I accepted, and not long after our arrival there we were joined by Robin. Pandit-ji had assured me that his plans had the approval and support of Anandamayi, the famous Bengali mystic, who was then staying at her ashram in Kishengunj with a band of devotees; but as the weeks passed it became obvious that Anandamayi, many of whose followers believed her to be a divine incarnation, had not the slightest interest either in Buddhism or in Pandit-ji’s schemes. She was an orthodox Hindu who insisted on the strict observance of the caste system. But Pandit-ji refused to give up hope. When Anandamayi left for her ashram in Raipur we left for Raipur too, and when she left Raipur for Delhi he and Robin followed her there. I remained in Raipur, studying and meditating, and after a week or so Robin rejoined me. Eventually the three of us were reunited in Kasauli, a hill station in East Punjab where Anandamayi had stayed the previous year. Here Robin and I discovered that none of Pandit-ji’s schemes (he now talked of starting a girls’ boarding school in Anandamayi’s name) had ever progressed beyond the fund-raising stage and that the old man was well known for his chicanery. Shocked and horrified, we decided we would have nothing more to do with religious organizations of any kind. We would give up the household life and go forth as homeless wanderers in search of Truth. Having shaved our heads and dyed our clothes saffron (I had already adopted Indian dress), on the morning of 18 August, three days after Independence Day [15 August 1947], we accordingly left Kasauli on foot for the plains.
The path of our descent was spanned by a series of double and even triple rainbows, through which we passed as though through a triumphal arch. It was an auspicious beginning.

But the auspiciousness did not last. Our intention had been to study Buddhism in Ceylon and perhaps become monks there, but as we had no means of identification and refused to disclose our nationality (we had decided that as sadhus we had none) on our arrival at Colombo we were not allowed to land and had to return to India by the same boat. Disappointed but not downhearted, we therefore travelled to Cape Comorin, the southernmost point of India, and having paid a visit to the famous Kenya Kumari temple started walking up through what then was the princely state of Travancore, eventually settling at Muvattupuzha, a subdivisional town in the interior, where we took up our abode in a deserted ashram situated on a low ridge amid rice-fields.

We stayed in Muvattupuzha for about eighteen months. During that time we learned something of the history and culture of the state (now part of Kerala), and came to appreciate its distinctive character; we also picked up a little Malayãlam. The reason for our settling in Muvattupuzha was that we wanted to deepen our experience of meditation, which we had not been able to do while on the move, and our day was organized accordingly. We meditated in the morning, rising before dawn, and again in the evening, sometimes sitting on until quite late. During the day we studied (Buddhism in my case, English in Robin’s), paced up and down the veranda, or sat contemplating the view. We also experimented with periods of fasting and silence, and once or twice a month we went calling on the ashram’s supporters, some of whom we got to know quite well. This arrangement suited me perfectly, but it soon proved too restrictive for Robin, who for a while therefore put his abundant energies into plans for starting an industrial school at the ashram, leaving me to my studies and literary work.

I was thus enabled to reflect on the Dharma uninterruptedly for long periods. Six years ago I had read the Diamond Sûtra and realized that I was a Buddhist. Since then I had delved not only into Buddhist but also into many Hindu scriptures, as well as into Western philosophy and Christian mysticism, and though my commitment to the Buddha and his teaching was basically unimpaired I needed to get the various spiritual and intellectual influences that had been impinging upon me into some kind of perspective, especially as I was now living in a predominantly Hindu environment. I needed to clarify my doctrinal position as a Buddhist. This I did with the help of the first fifty discourses of the Majjhima-Nikãya or Collection of Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, Šãntarakëita’s encyclopedic Tattvasaægraha or Compendium of Principles, and Mrs Rhys Davids’ meaty little book on Buddhism in the Home University Library series. I concentrated on three basic formulations of the Buddha’s teaching: the doctrine of dependent origination (or conditioned co-production), the Four Noble Truths, and the Three Characteristics of Conditioned Existence. Though all three formulations were well known to me, I had not previously given them much systematic attention; but at that juncture, as I have written elsewhere, ‘they occupied my mind virtually to the exclusion of everything else. Besides reflecting on them during the day I meditated on them at night. Or rather, as I meditated, flashes of insight into the transcendental truths of which they were the expression in conceptual terms would sometimes spontaneously arise.’ By the time these ‘sessions of sweet silent thought’ had come to an end, and Robin had switched his energies from plans for an industrial school to the intensive practice of hatha yoga, including prãäãyãma or breath control, I had succeeded in clarifying my ideas on a number of important doctrinal issues. As a result, my approach to the Dharma changed, becoming as much a rational understanding of principles as an emotional response to an ideal.

Our eighteen months in Muvattupuzha were followed by six weeks in Kanhangad, in North Malabar, with the famous Swami Ramdas, and six weeks in Tiruvannamalai, in the Tamil country, with the still more famous Ramana Maharshi. In Tiruvannamalaiwe stayed in a cave on the slopes of Arunachala, the Hill of Light, from which we had a panoramic view of the courtyards, shrines, and gopurams of the great Shiva temple below. Once a day we descended to the town for alms, and every few days we walked round the hill to the ashram, in the hall of which the Maharshi sat giving darshan to sixty or seventy inmates and visitors. [One night I had a vision. I saw Amitãbha, the Infinite Light, the Buddha of the West. Ruby-red in colour, he sat cross-legged on an enormous red lotus and held up by the stalk a single red lotus in full bloom. The lotus on which he was seated floated on the sea, across which the light from the red hemisphere of the setting sun made a glittering golden pathway. Visions had come to me before, but this one was unique, and it stirred me deeply. I took it to mean that our apprenticeship to the homeless life had come to an end, and that it was time for us to return to North India and seek ordination in one of the Buddhist centres there.

But we did not leave the South immediately. Friends we had met at Tiruvannamalai invited us to Bangalore, and from there another friend took us on a ten-day excursion into the heart of what then was the princely state of Mysore. We drove through vast sandalwood forests, visited marvellously beautiful Hindu temples, and spent a night at an important centre of Jain pilgrimage, where a 60-foot nude statue of Gomateshwara towered against the sky.

Shravanabelagola (Kannada: ಶ್ರವಣಬೆಳಗೊಳ) is a city located in the Hassan district in the Indian state of Karnataka and is 158 km from Bangalore. The statue of Gomateshwara or Bahubali, at Shravanabelagola is one of the most important Jain pilgrim centers. It reached a peak in architectural and sculptural activity under the patronage of Gangas of Talakad.

In Kannada language, "Bel" means white while "kola", the pond, is an allusion to the beautiful pond in the middle of the town.

The 57 feet monolithic statue of the Bhagavan Gomateshwara Bahubali is located on the Vindyagiri. It is considered to be the world's largest monolithic stone statue and was erected by Chamundaraya, a general of King Gangaraya. The base of the statue has an inscriptions in Kannada and Tamil, as well as the oldest evidence of written Marathi, dating from 981 AD. The inscription praises the Ganga king who funded the effort, and his general Chamundaraya, who erected the statue for his mother. Every twelve years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is covered with milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins. The next Mahamastakabhisheka will be held in 2018.

Gomateshwara Bahubali, by Purushottam Samarai

We even penetrated into the Shringeri Math, the Vatican of Hinduism, and met the Shankaracharya. In Bangalore itself we made the acquaintance of Yalahankar Swami, a one-eyed guru with highly unconventional methods of dealing with his disciples’ egos, who was reputed to be 600 years old. At his suggestion we spent some time in the nearby mountains, where we found shelter in a ruined temple that at night was surrounded by leopards. We then left for Bombay.

In Bombay we stayed with a devotee of Swami Ramdas, who besides taking us to see the Kanheri Caves, an ancient Buddhist monastic complex, also bought us tickets for our journey to Benares. From Benares, after spending a few days sightseeing, we walked out to Sarnath, where the Buddha had first taught the Dharma and where we hoped to be ordained. We were disappointed. The Sinhalese monks of the Maha Bodhi Society wanted nothing to do with the two barefoot, penniless strangers (since leaving Kanhangad we had not been handling money), and we therefore decided to walk up to Kushinagar, where the Buddha had died, and seek ordination there. It was the worst time of year to be doing so. The hot wind was blowing, the temperature was 120°F or more, and people were dropping dead from the heat. But there was no alternative. Doing as much of our walking as we could in the early morning, and at night staying at temples and ashrams, we covered the distance in ten days.

The Burmese senior monk in Kushinagar received us kindly, ordained us as šrãmaneras or novice monks on Vaishakha Purnima Day, the anniversary of the Buddha’s Enlightenment, named Robin Buddharakshita and me Sangharakshita (previously we were Anagarikas Satyapriya and Dharmapriya), and told us to go and preach the Dharma to his disciples in Nepal. Up through the jungles of the Terai we therefore went, still on foot, but now carrying bowls with which to go for alms in the traditional Buddhist manner. We spent two months in Nepal, in the course of which we visited Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, and ministered as best we could to the spiritual needs of the tiny Buddhist communities in Butaol and Tansen. Longer we could not stay, as the autocratic Rana regime was still in power and our unauthorized presence aroused the suspicions of the local police.

Buddharakshita and I therefore returned to Benares. Here we parted company. Buddharakshita left for Ceylon, while I went to live with Bhikkhu Jagdish Kashyap at Buddha Kuti, his cottage on the campus of the Benares Hindu University, where he was professor of Pali and Buddhist philosophy.

I was sorry to lose my friend, but also relieved. The practice of prãnãyãma, which on Ramdas’s advice he had given up, had inflamed his naturally hot temper, and relations between us were at times strained.
I stayed at Buddha Kuti for nine months, studying Pali, Abhidhamma, and logic, and making extensive use of the University library. With a monk from Sarnath, I went on pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya, the scene of the Buddha’s Enlightenment.

-- Moving Against the Stream: The Birth of a new Buddhist Movement, by Sangharakshita [Dennis Lingwood]

Robin Banerjee
Banerjee in his later years
Born: 12 August 1908, Baharampur, West Bengal, India
Died: 6 August 2003 (aged 94)
Nationality: Indian
Occupation: environmentalist, painter, photographer, documentary filmmaker
Awards: Padma Shri (1971)

Robin Banerjee (12 August 1908 – 6 August 2003) was a noted wildlife expert, environmentalist, painter, photographer and documentary filmmaker who lived at Golaghat in the Indian state of Assam.


Robin Banerjee was born on 12 August 1908 at Baharampur in West Bengal and received primary schooling at Santiniketan. He went on to pursue medical education at the prestigious Calcutta Medical College in Kolkata, and later at Liverpool (1934) and Edinburgh (1936).

Banerjee had joined the Royal Navy in 1937 at Liverpool, and saw action in World War II. After the war, Banerjee decided to move back to India. In 1952, he visited Assam as a locum-tenens to a Scottish doctor. in 1952 he joined Chabua Tea Estate, Assam, as Chief Medical Officer, and later moved to the Dhansiri Medical Association, Bokakhat as the Chief Medical Officer.

During a visit to Kaziranga National Park some time in the 1950s, Banerjee fell in love with the wilds of Assam and decided to settle down at Golaghat, near Kaziranga. Banerjee's first film on the Kaziranga National Park (one of the most important refuges of the Indian rhinoceros) on Berlin TV in 1961 was one of the first widely distributed media items on the park to reach Western audiences. It also garnered him international recognition as a wildlife film-maker. He made 32 documentaries in his career as a film-maker, and was the recipient of 14 international awards.

Banerjee remained a bachelor, and worked actively as an environmentalist besides his film-making career. Well known and loved among the local community as "Uncle Robin", he donated lands for setting up the local school, and health camps. He was particularly active regarding issues concerning Kaziranga National Park and was the founder of the non-governmental organization Kaziranga Wildlife Society, which actively protects the interests of the park.

Recognition and remembrance

He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1971, an honorary Doctorate of Science from Assam Agricultural University (AAU) in 1991, and also an honorary Ph.D. from Dibrugarh University. A book based on his life and experiences has been written in Assamese named "Xeujia Xopunar Manuh".

Robin Banerjee died at his residence suffering from old age ailments on 6 August 2003. The pyre of Dr Banerjee was lit by his caretaker Jitoo Tamuli. The cremation was attended by Assam Minister of State for Tourism Ajanta Neog. The Golaghat district administration declared a half-holiday in memory of Banerjee.

Robin Banerjee told everyone, "Think twice before you kill an animal, think twice before you catch a butterfly, think before you cut a tree, because it may be the last member of the species that is left in the world."

Uncle Robin's Museum

Banerjee's house on Mission Road in Golaghat is a tourist spot for wildlife lovers[1] and, in 2009, was converted into a natural history museum and contains a large number of his photographs and paintings. It is named Uncle Robin's Museum, containing natural history items from all over India (especially Kaziranga), and other personal collections of Robin Banerjee, including a set of toys from across the world that he collected.[2]

The Natural History Museum[3] or the Uncle Robin's Museum also known as the Robin Banerjee Museum is a Science and History Museum located on Mission Road in the tea city of Golaghat. The museum is contains dolls, artefacts, mementos, movies and other personal collections of Dr Banerjee's lifetime.[4] There are 587 dolls and 262 other show pieces.[5]


Uncle Robin's Museum is situated in the house of the late Dr. Robin Banerjee,[6] a Padma Shri awardee naturalist and environmentalist in Golaghat.[7]

It was named Uncle Robin’s Museum, containing natural history items from all over India (especially Kaziranga), and other personal collections of Dr. Robin Banerjee.

Today it is a tourist spot[8] for wildlife lovers, and for other enthusiasts to see a large number of Banerjee's photographs and paintings.

The museum is jointly maintained by ABITA (Assam Branch of Indian Tea Association)[9] and Golaghat District administration.


Robin Banerjee altogether made 32 documentaries, as listed below:

• Kaziranga (50 min)
• Wild Life of India (35 min)
• Rhino Capture (30 min)
• A Day at Zoo (45 min)
• Elephant Capture (20 min)
• Monsoon (20 min)
• Nagaland (30 min)
• Echidna, & On Wild Fowls (Australia)
• Lake Wildness (35 min)
• 26 January (India) (40 min)
• Flying Reptiles of Indonesia (50 min)
• Through These Doors (35 min)
• Animals of Africa (50 min)
• Underwater (50 min)
• Peace Game (30 min)
• Flowers of Africa (40 min)
• Adventures of Newfoundland (45 min)
• Dragons of Komodo Island (35 min)
• Underwater World of Snakes (50 min)
• White Wings in Slow Motion (winner of the Madame Pompidou Award) (60 min)
• The World of Flamingo (50 min)
• Wild but Friendly (55 min)
• Birds of Africa (45 min)
• Dresden (60 min)
• My Nature (60 min)
• Birds of India (50 min)
• Wild Flowers of the world (45 min)
• The Monarch Butterfly of Mexico (60 min)
• Alaskan Polar Bear (180 min)
• In the Pacific (55 min)
• Call of the Blue Pacific part I & II (45 min)
• So They May Survive (40 min)


• 1971: Padma Shri
• 1991: Honorary Doctorate of Science from Assam Agril University, Jorhat
• 1994: Honorary PhD from Dibrugarh University
• 2001: 'Prakiti Konwar' from Prakiti (an NGO), Jorhat, Assam
• 2001: Service to Society through individual excellence NECCL, Guwahati, Assam

See also

Science and Nature Museum, Golaghat


1. Swati Mitra, ed. (2011), Assam Travel Guide, Delhi: Eicher Goodearth, p. 107, ISBN 978-93-80262-04-8
2. "Uncle Robin’s dream finally takes shape - DoNER ministry to preserve and turn wildlife expert’s house into nature tourism hub", The Telegraph (India), 12 August 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
3. "Uncle Robin's Natural History Museum to be opened for public, The Sentinel". Sentinel Correspondent. 6 August 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
4. "Dr. Robin (Uncle) Banerjee – August 12, 1908–August 5, 2003".
5. "Robin Banerjee Museum".
6. "Assam Travel Guide, page 107". Assam Tourism. 2011.
7. "Poor preservation of Dr Robin Banerjee's house". Assam Tribune. 1 August 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
8. "From Sir, with love, The Hindu". Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty. 3 February 2008.
9. "Naturalist Dr Robin Banerjee's Death Anniversary Observed, The Eastern Today". ET Correspondent. 6 August 2016.
• Personalities of Golaghat district. Retrieved on 2007-03-22
• Another government article on Robin Banerjee. Retrieved on 2007-03-22
• Lover of the wild, Uncle Robin no more.[dead link] The Sentinel (Gauhati) 2003-08-06 Retrieved on 2007-03-22
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Anandamayi Ma
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/176/20

Sri Anandamayi Ma
Studio photo of Anandamayi Ma
Born: Nirmala Sundari[1], 30 April 1896, Kheora, Brahmanbaria, Bengal, British India (Now Bangladesh)
Died: 27 August 1982 (aged 86), Kishenpur, Dehradun, Uttrakhand, India
Religion: Sanatana Dharma - Eternal Dharma
Order: Self-realization
Philosophy: Vedic

Anandamayi Ma (née Nirmala Sundari; 30 April 1896 – 27 August 1982) was a Bengali Saint, described by Sivananda Saraswati (of the Divine Life Society) as "the most perfect flower the Indian soil has produced."[2] Precognition, faith healing and miracles were attributed to her by her followers.[3] Paramahansa Yogananda translates the Sanskrit epithet Anandamayi as "Joy-permeated" in English. This name was given to her by her devotees in the 1920s to describe her perpetual state of divine joy.[4]


Early life

Ramna Kali Mandir in 1967

Anandamayi was born Nirmala Sundari Devi on 30 April 1896 to the orthodox Vaishnavite Brahmin couple Bipinbihari Bhattacharya and Mokshada Sundari Devi in the village of Kheora, Tipperah District (now Brahmanbaria District), in present-day Bangladesh.[4][1] Her father, originally from Vidyakut in Tripura, was a Vaishnavite singer known for his intense devotion. Both parents were from well regarded lineages, though the family lived in poverty. Nirmala attended village schools of Sultanpur and Kheora for approximately 2–4 months.[5] Although her teachers were pleased with her ability, her mother worried about her daughter's mental development because of her constantly indifferent and happy demeanor. When her mother once fell seriously ill, relatives too remarked with puzzlement about the child remaining apparently unaffected.

In 1908 at the age of twelve years, 10 months, in keeping with the rural custom at the time, she was married to Ramani Mohan Chakrabarti of Bikrampur (now Munshiganj District) whom she would later rename Bholanath.[5][6] She spent five years after her marriage at her brother-in-law's home, attending to housework in a withdrawn meditative state much of the time. It was at Ashtagram that a devout neighbor Harakumar, who was widely considered insane, recognised and announced her spiritual eminence, developed a habit of addressing her as "Ma", and prostrated before her morning and evening in reverence.[7]

When Nirmala was about seventeen, she went to live with her husband who was working in the town of Ashtagram. In 1918, they moved to Bajitpur, where she stayed until 1924. It was a celibate marriage—whenever thoughts of lust occurred to Ramani, Nirmala's body would take on the qualities of death.[8]

On the full moon night of August 1922, at midnight, twenty-six-year-old Nirmala enacted her own spiritual initiation.[9] She explained that the ceremony and its rites were being revealed to her spontaneously as and when they were called for.[7] Although uneducated on the matter, the complex rites corresponded to those of traditional, ancient Hinduism, including the offerings of flowers, the mystical diagrams (yantra) and the fire ceremony (yajna). She later stated, "As the master (guru) I revealed the mantra; as the disciple, I accepted it and started to recite it."[10]


Anandamayi Ma on a 1987 stamp of India

Nirmala moved to Shahbag with her husband in 1924, where he had been appointed as the caretaker of the gardens of the Nawab of Dhaka.[6] During this period Nirmala went into ecstasies at public kirtans.[5] Jyotiscandra Ray, known as "Bhaiji," was an early and close disciple. He was the first to suggest that Nirmala be called Anandamayi Ma, meaning "Joy Permeated Mother", or "Bliss Permeated Mother". He was chiefly responsible for the first ashram built for Anandamayi Ma in 1929 at Ramna, within the precinct of the Ramna Kali Mandir.[11] In 1926, she reinstated a formerly abandoned ancient Kali temple in the Siddheshwari area.[6] During the time in Shahbag, more and more people began to be drawn to what they saw to be a living embodiment of the divine.[12]


Anandamayi Ma Ashram, Haridwar (Kankhal)

From her shift Dehradun onwards various scholars were drawn to Anandamayi Ma's light, gift, power and message of love, though she continued to describe herself as "a little unlettered child". Prangopal Mukerjee[5] Mahamahopadhyay Gopinath Kaviraj, Sanskrit scholar, philosopher, and principal of Government Sanskrit College in Varanasi and Triguna Sen were among her followers.[6]

Triguna Sen (24th December,1905 – 11th January,1998) was Union Minister for education in Government of India. He got Padma Bhushan in 1965. He was first Vice-Chancellor of Jadavpur University (from 1956 to 1966) and Banaras Hindu University.

Banaras Hindu University (Hindi: [kaʃi hind̪u viʃvəvid̪yaləy], BHU), formerly Central Hindu College, is a public central university located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. It was established jointly in 1916 by Maharaja of Darbhanga Rameshwar Singh, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Sir Sunder Lal and British Theosophist and Home Rule League founder Annie Besant. With over 30,000 students residing in campus, it is the largest residential university in Asia.

-- Banaras Hindu University, by Wikipedia

He was a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1967 to 1974.

-- Triguna Sen, by Wikipedia

Uday Shankar, the famous dance artist, was impressed by Anandamayi Ma's analysis of dance, which she used as a metaphor for the relationship between people and God.[6] She was a contemporary of the well known Hindu saints like Udiya Baba, Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharshi, Swami Ramdas, and Paramahansa Yogananda.[4]


Ma died on 27 August 1982 in Dehradun, and subsequently on 29 August 1982[1] a Samadhi (shrine) was built in the courtyard of her Kankhal ashram, situated in Haridwar in North India.[6][13]

Teachings and public image

"As you love your own body, so regard everyone as equal to your own body. When the Supreme Experience supervenes, everyone's service is revealed as one's own service. Call it a bird, an insect, an animal or a man, call it by any name you please, one serves one's own Self in every one of them."

-- Ananda Varta Quarterly

Anandamayi Ma never prepared discourses, wrote down, or revised what she had said. People had difficulty transcribing her often informal talks because of their conversational speed. Further the Bengali manner of alliterative wordplay was often lost in translation. However her personal attendant Gurupriya Devi, and a devotee, Brahmachari Kamal Bhattacharjee, made attempts to transcribe her speech before audio recording equipment became widely available in India.[7]

"Who is it that loves and who that suffers? He alone stages a play with Himself; who exists save Him? The individual suffers because he perceives duality. It is duality which causes all sorrow and grief. Find the One everywhere and in everything and there will be an end to pain and suffering."[14]

A central theme of her teaching is "the supreme calling of every human being is to aspire to self realization. All other obligations are secondary" and "only actions that kindle man's divine nature are worthy of the name of actions". However she did not advise everyone to become a renunciate. She would dismiss spiritual arguments and controversies by stating that "Everyone is right from his own standpoint".[5] She did not give formal initiations and refused to be called a guru, as she maintained that "all paths are my paths" and "I have no particular path".[15]

She did not advocate the same spiritual methods for all: "How can one impose limitations on the infinite by declaring this is the only path—and, why should there be so many different religions and sects? Because through every one of them He gives Himself to Himself, so that each person may advance according to his inborn nature."
She herself has said (ref. Mother Reveals Herself), all forms of sadhana, known and unknown, just occurred to her in the form of a lila (play) without any conscious effort on her part. Thus her Sadhana cannot be slotted into a specific area, for to do so would mean that she was somehow limited to that area and her mastery was also limited. She welcomed and conversed with devotees of different paths and religions from Shaivaite, Vaishnavite, Tantric, or from Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism. Everyone was welcome and she was equally at ease while giving guidance to all practitioners of different faiths. Even now, the Muslim population of Kheora still refer to her as "our own Ma".[7]

She taught how to live a God-centered life in the world and provided the living inspiration to enable thousands to aspire to this most noble ideal.[5] She also advocated spiritual equality for women; for example, she opened up the sacred thread ritual, which had been performed by men only for centuries, to women, but only those who met the moral and personal requirements. Her style of teaching included jokes, songs and instructions on everyday life along with long discourses, silent meditation and recommended reading of scriptures.

She frequently referred to herself in the third person as either "this body" or "this little girl", which is a common spiritual practice in Hinduism in order to detach oneself from Ego.[16] Paramhansa Yogananda wrote about her in his book Autobiography of a Yogi.[1][17] His meeting with her is recounted in the chapter titled "The Bengali 'Joy-Permeated Mother'", where she explains her background:

"Father, there is little to tell." She spread her graceful hands in a deprecatory gesture. "My consciousness has never associated itself with this temporary body. Before I came on this earth, Father, I was the same. As a little girl, I was the same. I grew into womanhood, but still I was the same. When the family in which I had been born made arrangements to have this body married, I was the same... And, Father, in front of you now, I am the same. Ever afterward, though the dance of creation change around me in the hall of eternity, I shall be the same.[18]"

The Publication Department of the Shree Shree Anandamayee Sangha in Varanasi regularly publishes her teaching in the periodical Amrit Varta quarterly in English, Hindi, Gujarati and Bengali. The Sri Sri Anandamayi Sangha in Haridwar organizes the annual Samyam Mahavrata congregation to devote a week to collective meditation, religious discourse and devotional music.[5]

See also

• Bhakti yoga
• Robert Adams
• Ravi Shankar


1. Hawley, John Stratton (2006). "Anandamayi Ma: God came as a Women". The life of Hinduism. Univ. of California Press. pp. 173–183. ISBN 0520249135.
2. Mother, as Seen by Her Devotees. Shree Shree Anandamayee Sangha. 1995.
3. Chaudhuri, Narayan (1986). That Compassionate Touch of Ma Anandamayee. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 16–18, 24–26, 129–133. ISBN 978-81-208-0204-9.
4. Lipski, Alexander (1993). Life and Teaching of Sri Anandamayi Ma. Motillal Benarsidass Publishers. p. 28.
5. Introduction Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, As the Flower Sheds Its Fragrance, Shree Shree Ma Anadamayee Sangha, Kankhal, Haridwar; Retrieved: 8 December 2007
6. Ghosh, Monoranjan (2012). "Anandamayi, Ma". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
7. Richard Lannoy; Ananadamayi: Her Life and WisdomArchived 30 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine; Element Books Ltd; 1996; ISBN 1-85230-914-8
8. McDaniel, June (1989). The Madness of the Saints: Ecstatic Religion in Bengal. University of Chicago Press. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-226-55723-6.
9. In Hindu diksha, when the mind of the guru and the disciple become one, then we say that the disciple has been initiated by the guru.
10. Hallstrom, Lisa Lassell (1999). Mother of Bliss. Oxford University Press. p. 39. ISBN 0-19-511647-X.
11. Lipski, Alexander (1993). Life and Teaching of Sri Anandamayi Ma. Motillal Benarsidass Publishers. p. 66.
12. Hallstrom, Lisa Lassell (1999). Mother of Bliss. Oxford University Press. pp. 42–43. ISBN 0-19-511647-X.
13. Life History: Chronology of Mothers life Archived 21 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine Anandamayi Ma Ashram Official website. "Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi arrives at noon, Ma's divine body given Maha Samadhi at about 1.30 pm near the previous site of an ancient Pipal tree, under which she used to sit on many occasions and give darshan."
14. Ananda Varta, Vol. 28, No. 4, p. 283.
15. Mataji's Methods Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, As the Flower Sheds Its Fragrance, Shree Shree Ma Anadamayee Sangha, Kankhal, Haridwar; Retrieved: 8 December 2007
16. Aymard, Orianne (1 May 2014). When a Goddess Dies: Worshipping Ma Anandamayi after Her Death. ISBN 978-0199368631.
17. Sharma, Arvind (1994). "Women in Hinduism". Today's Woman in World Religions. State University of New York Press. pp. 128–130. ISBN 0-7914-1687-9.
18. Hallstrom, Lisa Lassell (1999). "Anandamayi, Ma". Indian Religions: A Historical Reader of Spiritual Expression and Experience. Hurst & Company, London. p. 538.


• Banerjee, Shyamananda (1973). A Mystic Sage: Ma Anandamayi: Ma Anandamayi. s.n.
• Bhaiji (1975). Sad Vani: A Collection of the Teaching of Sri Anandamayi Ma. translated by Swami Atmananda. Shree Shree Anandamayee Charitable Society.
• Bhaiji. Matri Vani — From the Wisdom of Sri Anandamayi Ma. translated by Swami Atmananda.
• Chaudhuri, Narayan (1986). That Compassionate Touch of Ma Anandamayee. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 81-208-0204-7.
• Datta, Amulya Kumar. In Association with Sri Ma Anandamayi.
• Fitzgerald, Joseph; Alexander Lipski (2007). The Essential Sri Anandamayi Ma: Life and Teaching of a 20th Century Indian Saint. World Wisdom. ISBN 978-1-933316-41-3.
• Ganguli, Anil. Anandamayi Ma the Mother Bliss-incarnate.
• Ganguly, Adwaita P (1996). Yuga-Avatar Sri Sri Ma Anandamayee and Universal Religion. VRC Publications. ISBN 81-87530-00-6.
• Giri, Gurupriya Ananda. Sri Ma Anandamayi.
• Joshi, Hari Ram (1999). Ma Anandamayi Lila, Memoirs of Hari Ram Joshi. Kolkata: Shree Shree Anandamayee Charitable Society.
• Kaviraj, Gopinath (1967). Mother as Seen by Her Devotees. Varanasi: Shree Shree Anandamayee Sangha.
• Lipski, Alexander (1983). Life and Teachings of Sri Anandamayi ma. Orient Book Distributors.
• Maschmann, Melita (2002). Encountering Bliss: My Journey Through India with Anandamayi Ma. trans. S.B. Shrotri. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 81-208-1541-6.
• Mukerji, Bithika (1998). A Bird on the Wing — Life and Teachings of Sri Ma Anandamayi. Sri Satguru Publications. ISBN 81-7030-577-2.
• Mukerji, Bithika (2002). My Days with Sri Ma Anandamayi. India: Indica Books. ISBN 81-86569-27-8.
• Mukerji, Bithika (1970). From the Life of Sri Anandamayi Ma. India: Sri Sri Anandamayi Sangha, Varanasi.
• Ramananda, Swami (2002). Bliss Now: My Journey with Sri Anandamayi Ma. India: Select Books. ISBN 978-1-59079-019-9.
• Ray, J. Mother As Revealed To Me, Bhaiji.
• Yogananda, Paramhansa (1946). Autobiography of a Yogi. New York: Philosophical Library.

External links

• Anandamayi Ma at Curlie
• Works by or about Anandamayi Ma at Internet Archive
• A timeline of events
• MatriVani, a compendium of Anandamayi's teachings
• The personal papers of Anandamayi are in the Andover-Harvard Theological Library at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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