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Title: The Buddhist Catechism
Author: Olcott, Henry Steel, 1832-1907
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_Namō Tassā Bhagavatō Arahatō Sammā Sambuddhassa_






_Approved and recommended for use in Buddhist schools by H. Sumangala,
Pradhana Nayaka Sthavira, High Priest of Sripada and the Western
Province and Principal of the Vidyodaya Parivena_


Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras




In token of respect and affection I dedicate to my counsellor and
friend of many years, Hikkaduwe Sumangala, Pradhāna Nāyaka
Sthavīra and High Priest of Adam's Peak (Sripada) and the Western
Province, THE BUDDHIST CATECHISM, in its revised form.


_Adyar_, 1903.







APPENDIX--The Fourteen Propositions accepted by
  the Northern and Southern Buddhists as a
  Platform of Unity



_Colombo_, 7_th July_, 1881.

I hereby certify that I have carefully examined the Sinhalese version
in agreement with the Canon of the Southern Buddhist Church.  I
recommend the work to teachers in Buddhist schools, mid to all others
who may wish to impart information to beginners about the essential
features of our religion.


_High Priest of Sripada and Galle, and Principal of the Vidyodaya


_April_ 7, 1897.

I have gone over the thirty-third (English) edition of the Catechism,
with the help of interpreters, and confirm my recommendation for its
use in Buddhist schools.




In the working out of my original plan, I have added more questions and
answers in the text of each new English edition of the Catechism,
leaving it to its translators to render them into whichever of the
other vernaculars they may be working in.  The unpretending aim in view
is to give so succinct and yet comprehensive a digest of Buddhistic
history, ethics and philosophy as to enable beginners to understand and
appreciate the noble ideal taught by the Buddha, and thus make it
easier for them to follow out the Dharma in its details.  In the
present edition a great many new questions and answers have been
introduced, while the matter has been grouped within five categories,
_viz._: (1) The Life of the Buddha; (2) the Doctrine; (3) the Sangha,
or monastic order; (4) a brief history of Buddhism, its Councils and
propaganda; (5) some reconciliation of Buddhism with science.  This, it
is believed, will largely increase the value of the little book, and
make it even more suitable for use in Buddhist schools, of which, in
Ceylon, over one hundred have already been opened by the Sinhalese
people under the general supervision of the Theosophical Society.  In
preparing this edition I have received valuable help from some of my
oldest and best qualified Sinhalese colleagues.  The original edition
was gone over with me word by word, by that eminent scholar and
bhikkhu, H. Sumangala, Pradhāna Nāyaka, and the Assistant
Principal of his Pālī College at Colombo, Hyeyantuduve Anunayaka
Terunnanse; and the High Priest has also kindly scrutinised the present
revision and given me invaluable points to embody.  It has the merit,
therefore, of being a fair presentation of the Buddhism of the
"Southern Church," chiefly derived from first-hand sources.  The
Catechism has been published in twenty languages, mainly by Buddhists,
for Buddhists.

H. S. O.

ADYAR, 17_th May_, 1897.



The popularity of this little work seems undiminished, edition after
edition being called for.  While the present one was in the press a
second German edition, re-translated by the learned Dr. Erich Bischoff,
was published at Leipzig, by the Griebens Co., and a third translation
into French, by my old friend and colleague, Commandant D. A. Courmes,
was being got ready at Paris.  A fresh version in Sinhalese is also
preparing at Colombo.  It is very gratifying to a declared Buddhist
like myself to read what so ripe a scholar as Mr. G. R. S. Mead, author
of _Fragments of of a Faith Forgotten_, _Pistis Sophia_, and many other
works on Christian origins, thinks of the value of the compilation.  He
writes in the _Theosophical Review_: "It has been translated into no
less than twenty different languages, and may be said without the
faintest risk of contradiction, to have been the busiest instrument of
Buddhist propaganda for many a day in the annals of that long somnolent
dharma.  The least that learned Buddhists of Ceylon can do to repay the
debt of gratitude they owe to Colonel Olcott and other members of the
Theosophical Society who have worked for them, is to bestir themselves
to throw some light on their own origins and doctrines."

I am afraid we shall have to wait long for this help to come from the
Buddhist bhikkhus, almost the only learned men of Ceylon; at least I
have not been able during an intimate intercourse of twenty-two years,
to arouse their zeal.  It has always seemed to me incongruous that an
American, making no claims at all to scholarship, should be looked to
by the Sinhalese to help them teach the dharma to their children; and
as I believe I have said in an earlier edition, I only consented to
write THE BUDDHIST CATECHISM after I had found that no bhikkhu would
undertake it.  Whatever its demerits, I can at least say that the work
contains the essence of some 15,000 pages of Buddhist teaching that I
have read in connexion with my work.

H. S. O.

ADYAR, 7_th February_, 1903.



The popularity of this little work is proved by the constant demand for
new editions, in English and other languages.  In looking over the
matter for the present edition, I have found very little to change or
to add, for the work seems to present a very fair idea of the contents
of Southern Buddhism; and, as my object is never to write an extended
essay on the subject, I resist the temptation to wander off into
amplifications of details which, however interesting to the student of
comparative religion, are useless in a rational scheme of elementary

The new Sinhalese version (38th edition) which is being prepared by my
respected friend, D. B. Jayatilaka, Principal of Ānanda (Buddhist)
College, Colombo, is partly printed, but cannot be completed until he
is relieved of some of the pressure upon his time.  The Tamil version
(41st edition) has been undertaken by the leaders of the Pañchama
community of Madras, and will shortly issue from the press.  The
Spanish version (39th edition) is in the hands of my friend, Señor
Xifré, and the French one (37th edition) in those of Commandant Courmes.

So the work goes on, and by this unpretending agency the teachings of
the Buddha Dharma are being carried throughout the world.

H. S. O.

ADYAR, 7_th January_, 1905.



The writer of this Catechism has passed away from earth, but, before he
left the body, he had arranged with the High Priest Sumangala to make
some small corrections in the text.  These are incorporated in the
present edition by the High Priest's wish, expressed to me in Colombo,
in November 1907.

I have not altered the numbering of the questions, as it might cause
confusion in a class to change the numbers, if some pupils had the
older editions and some the new.

  ADYAR,                  )
  17_th February_, 1908.  )             ANNIE BESANT




1. Question.  _Of what religion[1] are you?_

Answer.  The Buddhist.

[1] The word "religion" is most inappropriate to apply to Buddhism
which is not a religion, but a moral philosophy, as I have shown later
on.  But, by common usage the word has been applied to all groups of
people who profess a special moral doctrine, and is so employed by
statisticians.  The Sinhalese Buddhists have never yet had any
conception of what Europeans imply in the etymological construction of
the Latin root of this term.  In their creed there is no such thing as
a "binding" in the Christian sense--a submission to or merging of self
in a Divine Being.  _Āgama_ is their vernacular word to express
their relation to Buddhism and the BUDDHA.  It is pure Samskrt, and
means "approach, or coming"; and as "_Buddha_" is enlightenment, the
compound word by which they indicate Buddhism--_Buddhāgama_--would
be properly rendered as "an approach or coming to enlightenment," or
possibly as a following of the Doctrine of SĀKYAMUNI.  The
missionaries, finding _Āgama_ ready to their hand, adopted it as the
equivalent for "religion"; and Christianity is written by them
_Christianāgama_, whereas it should be _Christianibandhana_, for
_bandhana_ is the etymological equivalent for "religion".  The name
_Vibhajja vāda_--one who analyses--is another name given to a
Buddhist, and Advayavādī is a third.  With this explanation, I
continue to employ under protest the familiar word when speaking of
Buddhistic philosophy, for the convenience of the ordinary reader.

2.  Q.  _What is Buddhism?_

A.  It is a body of teachings given out by the great personage known as
the Buddha.

3.  Q.  _Is "Buddhism" the best name for this teaching?_

A.  No; that is only a western term: the best name for it is Bauddha

4.  Q.  _Would you call a person a Buddhist who had merely been born of
Buddha parents?_

A.  Certainly not.  A Buddhist is one who not only professes belief in
the Buddha as the noblest of Teachers, in the Doctrine preached by Him,
and in the Brotherhood of Arhats, but practises His precepts in daily

5.  Q.  _What is a male lay Buddhist called?_

A.  An Upāsaka.

6.  Q.  _What a female?_

A.  An Upāsika.

7.  Q.  _When was this doctrine first preached?_

A.  There is some disagreement as to the actual date, but according to
the Sinhalese Scriptures it was in the year 2513 of the (present)

8.  Q.  _Give the important dates in the last birth of the Founder?_

A.  He was born under the constellation Visā on a Tuesday in May, in
the year 2478 (K.Y.); he retired to the jungle in the year 2506; became
Buddha in 2513; and, passing out of the round of rebirths, entered
Paranirvāna in the year 2558, aged eighty years.  Each of these
events happened on a day of full moon, so all are conjointly celebrated
in the great festival of the full-moon of the month Wesak
(_Vaisākha_), corresponding to the month of May.

9.  Q.  _Was the Buddha God?_

A.  No.  Buddha Dharma teaches no "divine" incarnation.

10.  Q.  _Was he a man?_

A.  Yes; but the wisest, noblest and most holy being, who had developed
himself in the course of countless births far beyond all other beings,
the previous BUDDHAS alone excepted.

11.  Q.  _Were there other Buddhas before him?_

A.  Yes; as will be explained later on.

12.  Q.  _Was Buddha his name?_

A.  No.  It is the name of a condition or state of mind, of the mind
after it has reached the culmination of development.

13.  Q.  _What is its meaning?_

A.  Enlightened; or, he who has the all-perfect wisdom.  The Pālī
phrase is _Sabbannu_, the One of Boundless Knowledge.  In Samskrt it is

14.  Q.  _What was the Buddha's real name then?_

A.  SIDDHĀRTHA was his royal name, and GAUTAMA, or GOTAMA, his
family name.  He was Prince of Kapilavāstu and belonged to the
illustrious family of the Okkāka, of the Solar race.

15.  Q.  _Who were his father and mother?_

A.  King Suddhodana and Queen Māyā, called Mahā Māyā.

16.  Q.  _What people did this King reign over?_

A.  The Sākyas; an Aryan tribe of Kshattriyas.

17.  Q.  _Where was Kapilavāstu?_

A.  In India, one hundred miles north-east of the City of Benares, and
about forty miles from the Himalaya mountains.  It is situated in the
Nepāl Terai.  The city is now in ruins.

18.  Q.  _On what river?_

A.  The Rohīnī, now called the Kohana.

19.  Q.  _Tell me again when Prince Siddhārtha was born?_

A.  Six hundred and twenty-three years before the Christian era.

20.  Q.  _Is the exact spot known?_

A.  It is now identified beyond question.  An archaeologist in the
service of the Government of India has discovered in the jungle of the
Nepāl Terai a stone pillar erected by the mighty Buddhist sovereign,
Asoka, to mark the very spot.  The place was known in those times as
the Lumbinī Garden.

21.  Q.  _Had the Prince luxuries and splendours like other Princes?_

A.  He had; his father, the King, built him three magnificent
palaces--for the three Indian seasons--the cold, the hot, and the
rainy--of nine, five, and three stories respectively, and handsomely

22.  Q.  _How were they situated?_

A.  Around each palace were gardens of the most beautiful and fragrant
flowers, with fountains of spouting water, the trees full of singing
birds, and peacocks strutting over the ground.

23.  Q.  _Was he living alone?_

A.  No; in his sixteenth year he was married to the Princess
Yasodharā, daughter of the King Suprabuddha.  Many beautiful
maidens, skilled in dancing and music, were also in continual
attendance to amuse him.

24.  Q.  _How did he get his wife?_

A.  In the ancient Kshattriya or warrior fashion, by overcoming all
competitors in games and exercises of skill and prowess, and then
selecting Yasodharā out of all the young princesses, whose fathers
had brought them to the tournament or _mela_.

25.  Q.  _How, amid all this luxury, could a Prince become all-wise?_

A.  He had such natural wisdom that when but a child he seemed to
understand all arts and sciences almost without study.  He had the best
teachers, but they could teach him nothing that he did not seem to
comprehend immediately.

26.  Q.  _Did he become Buddha in his splendid palaces?_

A.  No.  He left all and went alone into the jungle.

27.  Q.  _Why did he do this?_

A.  To discover the cause of our sufferings and the way to escape from

28.  Q.  _Was it not selfishness that made him do this?_

A.  No; it was boundless love for all beings that made him devote
himself to their good.

29.  Q.  _But how did he acquire this boundless love?_

A.  Throughout numberless births and aeons of years he had been
cultivating this love, with the unfaltering determination to become a

30.  Q.  _What did he this time relinquish?_

A.  His beautiful palaces, his riches, luxuries and pleasures, his soft
beds, fine dresses, rich food, and his kingdom; he even left his
beloved wife and only son, Rāhula.

31.  Q.  _Did any other man ever sacrifice so much for our sake?_

A.  Not one in this present world-period: this is why Buddhists so love
him, and why good Buddhists try to be like him.

32.  Q.  _But have not many men given up all earthly blessings, and
even life itself, for the sake of their fellow-men?_

A.  Certainly.  But we believe that this surpassing unselfishness and
love for humanity showed themselves in his renouncing the bliss of
Nirvāna countless ages ago, when he was born as the Brāhmana
Sumedha, in the time of Dīpānkara Buddha: he had then reached the
stage where he might have entered Nirvāna, had he not loved mankind
more than himself.  This renunciation implied his voluntarily enduring
the miseries of earthly lives until he became Buddha, for the sake of
teaching all beings the way to emancipation and to give rest to the

33.  Q.  _How old was he when he went to the jungle?_

A.  He was in his twenty-ninth year.

34.  Q.  _What finally determined him to leave all that men usually
love so much and go to the jungle?_

A.  A _Deva_[1] appeared to him when driving out in his chariot, under
four impressive forms, on four different occasions.

35.  Q.  _What were these different forms?_

A.  Those of a very old man broken down by age, of a sick man, of a
decaying corpse, and of a dignified hermit.

36.  Q.  _Did he alone see these?_

A.  No, his attendant, Channa, also saw them.

37.  Q.  _Why should these sights, so familiar to everybody, have
caused him to go to the jungle?_

A.  We often see such sights: he had not seen them, so they made a deep
impression on his mind.

38.  Q.  _Why had he not also seen them?_

A.  The Brāhmana astrologers had foretold at his birth that he would
one day resign his kingdom and, become a BUDDHA.  The King, his father,
not wishing to lose an heir to his kingdom, had carefully prevented his
seeing any sights that might suggest to him human misery and death.  No
one was allowed even to speak of such things to the Prince.  He was
almost like a prisoner in his lovely palaces and flower gardens.  They
were surrounded by high walls, and inside everything was made as
beautiful as possible, so that he might not wish to go and see the
sorrow and distress that are in the world.

39.  Q.  _Was he so kind-hearted that the King feared he might really
wish to leave everything for the world's sake?_

A.  Yes; he seems to have felt for all beings so strong a pity and love
as that.

40.  Q.  _And how did he expect to learn the cause of sorrow in the

A.  By removing far away from all that could prevent his thinking
deeply of the causes of sorrow and the nature of man.

41.  Q.  _How did he escape from the palace?_

A.  One night, when all were asleep, he arose, took a last look at his
sleeping wife and infant son; called Channa, mounted his favourite
white horse Kanthaka, and rode to the palace gate.  The _Devas_ had
thrown a deep sleep upon the King's guard who watched the gate, so that
they could not hear the noise of the horse's hoofs.

42.  Q.  _But the gate was locked, was it not?_

A.  Yes; but the _Devas_ caused it to open without the slightest noise,
and he rode away into the darkness.

43.  Q.  _Whither did he go?_

A.  To the river Anomā, a long way from Kapilavāstu.

44.  Q.  _What did he then do?_

A.  He sprang from his horse, cut off his beautiful hair with his
sword, put on the yellow dress of an ascetic, and giving his ornaments
and horse to Channa, ordered him to take them back to his father, the

45.  Q.  _What then?_

A.  He went afoot towards Rājagrha, the capital city of King
Bimbisāra, of Magadha.

46.  Q.  _Who visited him there?_

A.  The King with his whole Court.[2]

46a.  Q.  _Thence whither did he go?_

A.  To Uruvela, near the present Mahābōdhi Temple at Buddha

47.  Q.  _Why did he go there?_

A.  In the forests were hermits--very wise men, whose pupil he
afterwards became, in the hope of finding the knowledge of which he was
in search.

48.  Q.  _Of what religion were they?_

A.  The Hindu religion: they were Brāhmanas.[3]

49.  Q.  _What did they teach?_

A.  That by severe penances and torture of the body a man may acquire
perfect wisdom.

50.  Q.  _Did the Prince find this to be so?_

A.  No; he learned their systems and practised all their penances, but
he could not thus discover the cause of human sorrow and the way to
absolute emancipation.

51.  Q.  _What did he then do?_

A.  He went away into the forest near Uruvela, and spent six years in
deep meditation, undergoing the severest discipline in mortifying his

52.  Q.  _Was he alone?_

A.  No; five Brāhman companions attended him.

53.  Q.  _What were their names?_

A.  Kondañña, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahānāma, and Assaji.

54.  Q.  _What plan of discipline did he adopt to open his mind to know
the whole truth?_

A.  He sat and meditated, concentrating his mind upon the higher
problems of life, and shutting out from his sight and hearing all that
was likely to interrupt his inward reflections.

55.  Q.  _Did he fast?_

A.  Yes, through the whole period.  He took less and less food and
water until, it is said, he ate scarcely more than one grain of rice or
of sesamum seed each day.

56.  Q.  _Did this give him the wisdom he longed for?_

A.  No.  He grew thinner and thinner in body and fainter in strength
until, one day, as he was slowly walking about and meditating, his
vital force suddenly left him and he fell to the ground unconscious.

57.  Q.  _What did his companions think of that?_

A.  They fancied he was dead; but after a time he revived.

58.  Q.  _What then?_

A.  The thought came to him that knowledge could never be reached by
mere fasting or bodily suffering, but must be gained by the opening of
the mind.  He had just barely escaped death from self-starvation, yet
had not obtained the Perfect Wisdom.  So he decided to eat, that he
might live at least long enough to become wise.

59.  Q.  _Who gave him food?_

A.  He received food from Sujatā, a nobleman's daughter, who saw him
sitting at the foot of a nyagrodha (banyan) tree.  He arose, took his
alms-bowl, bathed in the river Nerañjāra, ate the food, and went
into the jungle.

60.  Q.  _What did he do there?_

A.  Having formed his determination after these reflections, he went at
evening to the Bōdhi, or Asvattha tree, where the present
Mahābōdhi Temple stands.

61.  Q.  _What did he do there?_

A.  He determined not to leave the spot until he attained perfect

62.  Q.  _At which side of the tree did he seat himself?_

A.  The side facing the east.[4]

63.  Q.  _What did he obtain that night?_

A.  The knowledge of his previous births, of the causes of rebirths,
and of the way to extinguish desires.  Just before the break of the
next day his mind was entirely opened, like the full-blown lotus
flower; the light of supreme knowledge, or the Four Truths, poured in
upon him.  He had become BUDDHA--the Enlightened, the all-knowing--the

64.  Q.  _Had he at last discovered the cause of human misery?_

A.  At last he had.  As the light of the morning sun chases away the
darkness of night, and reveals to sight the trees, fields, rocks, seas,
rivers, animals, men and all things, so the full light of knowledge
rose in his mind, and he saw at one glance the causes of human
suffering and the way to escape from them.

65.  Q.  _Had he great struggles before gaining this perfect wisdom?_

A.  Yes, mighty and terrible struggles.  He had to conquer in his body
all those natural defects and human appetites and desires that prevent
our seeing the truth.  He had to overcome all the bad influences of the
sinful world around him.  Like a soldier fighting desperately in battle
against many enemies, he struggled: like a hero who conquers, he gained
his object, and the secret of human misery was discovered.

66.  Q.  _What use did he make of the knowledge thus gained?_

A.  At first he was reluctant to teach it to the people at large.

67.  Q.  _Why?_

A.  Because of its profound importance and sublimity.  He feared that
but few people would understand it.

68.  Q.  _What made him alter this view?_[5]

A.  He saw that it was his duty to teach what he had learnt as clearly
and simply as possible, and trust to the truth impressing itself upon
the popular mind in proportion to each one's individual Karma.  It was
the only way of salvation, and every being had an equal right to have
it pointed out to him.  So he determined to begin with his five late
companions, who had abandoned him when he broke his fast.

69.  Q.  _Where did he find them?_

A.  In the deer-park at Isipatana, near Benares.

70.  Q.  _Can the spot be now identified?_

A.  Yes, a partly ruined stūpa, or dagoba, is still standing on that
very spot.

71.  Q.  _Did those five companions readily listen to him?_

A.  At first, no; but so great was the spiritual beauty of his
appearance, so sweet and convincing his teaching, that they soon turned
and gave him the closest attention.

72.  Q.  _What effect did this discourse have upon them?_

A.  The aged Kondañña, one who "understood" (_Anna_), was the first to
lose his prejudices, accept the Buddha's teaching, become his disciple,
and enter the Path leading to Arhatship.  The other four soon followed
his example.

73.  Q.  _Who were his next converts?_

A.  A rich young layman, named Yasa, and his father, a wealthy
merchant.  By the end of three months the disciples numbered sixty

74.  Q.  _Who were the first women lay disciples?_

A.  The mother and wife of Yasa.

75.  Q.  _What did the Buddha do at that time?_[6]

A.  He called the disciples together, gave them full instructions, and
sent them out in all directions to preach his doctrine.

76.  Q.  _What was the essence of it?_

A.  That the way of emancipation lies in leading the holy life and
following the rules laid down, which will be explained later on.

77.  Q.  _Tell me what name he gave to this course of life?_

A.  The Noble Eightfold Path.

78.  Q.  _How is it called in the Pālī language?_

A.  _Ariyo atthangiko maggo_.

79..  Q.  _Whither did the Buddha then go?_

A.  To Uruvela.

80.  Q.  _What happened there?_

A.  He converted a man named Kāshyapa, renowned for his learning and
teacher of the Jatilas, a great sect of fire-worshippers, all of whom
became also his followers.

81.  Q.  _Who was his next great convert?_

A.  King Bimbisāra, of Magadha.

82.  Q.  _Which two of the Buddha's most learned and beloved disciples
were converted at about this time?_

A.  Sāriputra and Moggallāna, formerly chief disciples of
Sañjaya, the ascetic.

83.  Q.  _For what did they become renowned?_

A.  Sāriputra for his profound learning (_Prajña_), Moggallāna
for his exceptional spiritual powers (_Iddhi_).

84.  Q.  _Are these wonder-working powers miraculous?_

A.  No, but natural to all men and capable of being developed by a
certain course of training.

85.  Q.  _Did the Buddha hear again from his family after leaving them?_

A.  Oh yes, seven years later, while he was living at Rājagrha, his
father.  King Suddhodana, sent a message to request him to come and let
him see him again before he died.

86.  Q.  _Did he go?_

A.  Yes.  His father went with all his relatives and ministers to meet
him and received him with great joy.

87.  Q.  _Did he consent to resume his old rank?_

A.  No.  In all sweetness he explained to his father that the Prince
Siddhārtha had passed out of existence, as such, and was now changed
into the condition of a Buddha, to whom all beings were equally akin
and equally dear.  Instead of ruling over one tribe or nation, like an
earthly king, he, through his Dharma, would win the hearts of all men
to be his followers.

88.  Q.  _Did he see Yasodharā and his son Rāhula?_

A.  Yes.  His wife, who had mourned for him with deepest love, wept
bitterly.  She also sent Rāhula to ask him to give him his
inheritance, as the son of a prince.

89.  Q.  _What happened?_

A.  To one and all he preached the Dharma as the cure for all sorrows.
His father, son, wife, Ānanda (his half-brother), Devadatta (his
cousin and brother-in-law), were all converted and became his
disciples.  Two other famous ones were Anuruddha, afterwards a great
metaphysician, and Upāli, a barber, afterwards the greatest
authority on Vinaya.  Both of these gained great renown.

90.  Q.  _Who was the first Bhikkuni?_

A.  Prajāpatī, the aunt and foster-mother of Prince
Siddhārtha.  With her, Yasodharā and many other ladies were
admitted into the Order as _Bhikkhunis_ or female devotees.

91.  Q.  _What effect did the taking up of the religious life by his
sons, Siddhārtha and Ānanda, his nephew, Devadatta, his son's
wife, Yasudharā, and his grandson, Rāhula, have upon the old King

A.  It grieved him much and he complained to the Buddha, who then made
it a rule of the Order that no person should thenceforth be ordained
without the consent of his parents if alive.

92.  Q.  _Tell me about the fate of Devadatta?_

A.  He was a man of great intelligence and rapidly advanced in the
knowledge of the Dharma, but being also extremely ambitious, he came to
envy and hate the Buddha, and at last plotted to kill him.  He also
influenced Ajātashatru, son of King Bimbisāra, to murder his
noble father, and to become his--Devadatta's--disciple.

93.  Q.  _Did he do any injury to the Buddha?_

A.  Not the least, but the evil he plotted against him recoiled upon
himself, and he met with an awful death.

94.  Q.  _For how many years was the Buddha engaged in teaching?_

A.  Forty-five years, during which time he preached a great many
discourses.  His custom and that of his disciples was to travel and
preach during the eight dry months, but during the season of Way--the
rains--he and they would stop in the pānsulas and vihāras which
had been built for them by various kings and other wealthy converts.

95.  Q.  _Which were the most famous of these buildings?_

A.  Jetāvanārāma; Veluvanārāma; Pubbārāma;
Nigrodhārāma and Isipatanārāma.

96.  Q.  _What kind of people were converted by him and his disciples?_

A.  People of all ranks, nations and castes; rājas and coolies, rich
and poor, mighty and humble, the illiterate and the most learned.  His
doctrine was suited to all.

97.  Q.  _Give some account of the decease of the Buddha?_

A.  In the forty-fifth season after his attaining Buddhahood, on the
full-moon day of May, knowing that his end was near, he came at evening
to Kusināgāra, a place about one hundred and twenty miles from
Benares.  In the sāla grove of the Mallas, the Uparvartana of
Kusināgāra, between two sāla trees, he had his bedding spread
with the head towards the north according to the ancient custom.  He
lay upon it, and with his mind perfectly clear, gave his final
instructions to his disciples and bade them farewell.

98.  Q.  _Did he also make new converts in those last tours?_

A.  Yes, a very important one, a great Brāhmana pandit named
Subhadra.  He had also preached to the Mallya princes and their

99.  Q.  _At day-break what happened?_

A.  He passed into the interior condition of _Samādhi_ and thence
into Nirvāna.

100.  Q.  _What were his last words to his disciples?_

A.  "Bhikkhus," he said, "I now impress it upon you, the parts and
powers of man must be dissolved.  Work out your salvation with

101.  Q.  _What convincing proof have we that the Buddha, formerly
Prince Siddhārtha, was a historical personage?_

A.  His existence is apparently as clearly proved as that of any other
character of ancient history.

102.  Q.  _Name some of the proofs?_

A.  (1) The testimony of those who personally knew him.

(2) The discovery of places and the remains of buildings mentioned in
the narrative of his time.

(3) The rock-inscriptions, pillars and dagobas made in memory of him by
sovereigns who were near enough to his time to be able to verify the
story of his life.

(4) The unbroken existence of the Sangha which he founded, and their
possession of the facts of his life transmitted from generation to
generation from the beginning.

(5) The fact that in the very year of his death and at various times
subsequently, conventions and councils of the Sangha were held, for the
verification of the actual teachings of the Founder, and the handing
down of those verified teachings from teacher to pupil, to the present

(6) After his cremation his relics were divided among eight kings and a
stūpa was erected over each portion.  The portion given to King
Ajātashatru, and by him covered with a stūpa at Rājagrha, was
taken, less than two centuries later, by the Emperor Asoka and
distributed throughout his Empire.  He, of course, had ample means of
knowing whether the relics were those of the Buddha or not, since they
had been in charge of the royal house of Patna from the beginning.

(7) Many of the Buddha's disciples, being Arhats and thus having
control over their vital powers, must have lived to great ages, and
there was nothing to have prevented two or three of them, in succession
to each other, to have covered the whole period between the death of
the Buddha and the reign of Asoka, and thus to have enabled the latter
to get from his contemporary every desired attestation of the fact of
the Buddha's life.[8]

(8) The "Mahāvansa," the best authenticated ancient history known to
us, records the events of Sinhalese history to the reign of King
Vijaya, 543 B.C.--almost the time of the Buddha--and gives most
particulars of his life, as well as those of the Emperor Asoka and all
other sovereigns related to Buddhistic history.

103.  Q.  _By what names of respect is the Buddha called?_

A.  Sākyamuni (the Sākya Sage); Sākya-Simha (the Sākyan
Lion); Sugata (the Happy One); Satthta (the Teacher); Jina (the
Conqueror), Bhagavat (the Blessed One); Lokanātha (the Lord of the
World); Sarvajña (the Omniscient One); Dharmarāja (the King of
Truth); Tathāgata (the Great Being), etc.

[1] See the definition of _deva_ given later.

[2] For an admirable account of this interview consult Dr. Paul Carus'
_Gospel of Buddha_, page 20, _et seq._

[3] The term Hindū, once a contemptuous term, used by the
Musalmāns to designate the people of Sindh, whom they conquered, is
now used in an ecclesiastical sense.

[4] No reason is given in the canonical books for the choice of this
side of the tree, though an explanation is to be found in the popular
legends upon which the books of Bishop Bigandet and other European
commentators are based.  There are always certain influences coming
upon us from the different quarters of the sky.  Sometimes the
influence from one quarter will be best, sometimes that from another
quarter.  But the Buddha thought that the perfected man is superior to
all extraneous influences.

[5] The ancient story is that the God Brahmā himself implored him
not to withhold the glorious truth.

[6] Brāhmanism not being offered to non-Hindūs, Buddhism is
consequently, the oldest missionary religion in the world.  The early
missionaries endured every hardship, cruelty, and persecution, with
unfaltering courage.

[7] At the Second Council there were two pupils of Ānanda,
consequently centenarians, while in Asoka's Council there were pupils
of those pupils.



106.  Q.  _What is the meaning of the word Buddha?_

A.  The enlightened, or he who has the perfect wisdom.

107.  Q.  _You have said that there were other Buddhas before this one?_

A.  Yes; our belief is that, under the operation of eternal causation,
a Buddha takes birth at intervals, when mankind have become plunged
into misery through ignorance, and need the wisdom which it is the
function of a Buddha to teach.  (See also Q. 11.)

108.  Q.  _How is a Buddha developed?_

A.  A person, hearing and seeing one of the Buddhas on earth, becomes
seized with the determination so to live that at some future time, when
he shall become fitted for it, he also will be a Buddha for the guiding
of mankind out of the cycle of rebirth.

109.  Q.  _How does he proceed?_

A.  Throughout that birth and every succeeding one, he strives to
subdue his passions, to gain wisdom by experience, and to develop his
higher faculties.  He thus grows by degrees wiser, nobler in character,
and stronger in virtue, until, finally, after numberless re-births he
reaches the state when he can become Perfected, Enlightened, All-wise,
the ideal Teacher of the human race.

110.  Q.  _While this gradual development is going on throughout all
these births, by what name do we call him?_

A.  Bōdhisat, or Bōdhisattva.  Thus the Prince Siddhartha Gautama
was a Bōdhisattva up to the moment when, under the blessed Bōdhi
tree at Gayā, he became Buddha.

111.  Q.  _Have we any account of his various rebirths as a

A.  In the Jātakatthakathā, a book containing stories of the
Bōdhisattva's reincarnations, there are several hundred tales of
that kind.

112.  Q.  _What lesson do these stories teach?_

A.  That a man can carry, throughout a long series of reincarnations,
one great, good purpose which enables him to conquer bad tendencies and
develop virtuous ones.

113.  Q.  _Can we fix the number of reincarnations through which a
Bōdhisattva must pass before he can become a Buddha?_

A.  Of course not: that depends upon his natural character, the state
of development to which he has arrived when he forms the resolution to
become a Buddha, and other things.

114.  Q.  _Have we a way of classifying Bōdhisattvas?  If so,
explain it._

A.  Bōdhisattvas--the future Buddhas--are divided into three classes.

115.  Q.  _Proceed.  How are these three kinds of Bōdhisats named?_

A.  Pannādhika, or Udghatitajña--"he who attains least quickly";
Saddhādhika, or Vipachitajña--"he who attains less quickly"; and
Viryādhika, or Gneyya--"he who attains quickly".  The Pannādhika
Bōdhisats take the course of Intelligence; the Saddhādhika take
the course of Faith; the Viryaāhika take the course of energetic
Action.  The first is guided by Intelligence and does not hasten; the
second is full of Faith, and does not care to take the guidance of
Wisdom; and the third never delays to do what is good.  Regardless of
the consequences to himself, he does it when he sees that it is best
that it should be done.

116.  Q.  _When our Bōdhisattva became Buddha, what did he see was
the cause of human misery?  Tell me in one word._

A.  Ignorance (Avidyā).

117.  Q.  _Can you tell me the remedy?_

A.  To dispel Ignorance and become wise (Prājña).

118.  Q.  _Why does ignorance cause suffering?_

A.  Because it makes us prize what is not worth prizing, grieve when we
should not grieve, consider real what is not real but only illusionary,
and pass our lives in the pursuit of worthless objects, neglecting what
is in reality most valuable.

119.  Q.  _And what is that which is most valuable?_

A.  To know the whole secret of man's existence and destiny, so that we
may estimate at no more than their actual value this life and its
relations; and so that we may live in a way to ensure the greatest
happiness and the least suffering for our fellow-men and ourselves.

120.  Q.  _What is the light that can dispel this ignorance of ours and
remove all sorrows?_

A.  The knowledge of the "Four Noble Truths," as the Buddha called them.

121.  Q.  _Name these Four Noble Truths?_

A.  1.  The miseries of evolutionary existence resulting in births and
deaths, life after life.

2.  The cause productive of misery, which is the selfish desire, ever
renewed, of satisfying one's self, without being able ever to secure
that end.

3.  The destruction of that desire, or the estranging of one's self
from it.

4.  The means of obtaining this destruction of desire.

122.  Q.  _Tell me some things that cause sorrow?_

A.  Birth, decay, illness, death, separation from objects we love,
association with those who are repugnant, craving for what cannot be

123.  Q.  _Do these differ with each individual?_

A.  Yes: but all men suffer from them in degree.

124.  Q.  _How can we escape the sufferings which result from
unsatisfied desires and ignorant cravings?_

A.  By complete conquest over, and destruction of, this eager thirst
for life and its pleasures, which causes sorrow.

125.  Q.  _How may we gain such a conquest?_

A.  By following the Noble Eight-fold Path which the Buddha discovered
and pointed out.

126.  Q.  _What do you mean by that word: what is this Noble Eight-fold
Path?_  (For the Pālī name see Q. 79.)

A.  The eight parts of this path are called _angas_.  They are: 1.
Right Belief (as to the law of Causation, or Karma); 2. Right Thought;
3. Right Speech; 4. Right Action; 5. Right Means of Livelihood; 6.
Right Exertion; 7. Right Remembrance and Self-discipline; 8. Right
Concentration of Thought.  The man who keeps these _angas_ in mind and
follows them will be free from sorrow and ultimately reach salvation.

127.  Q.  _Can you give a better word for salvation?_

A.  Yes, emancipation.

128.  Q.  _Emancipation, then, from what?_

A.  Emancipation from the miseries of earthly existence and of
rebirths, all of which are due to ignorance and impure lusts and

129.  Q.  _And when this salvation or emancipation is attained, what do
we reach?_


130.  Q.  _What is Nirvāna?_

A.  A condition of total cessation of changes, of perfect rest, of the
absence of desire and illusion and sorrow, of the total obliteration of
everything that goes to make up the physical man.  Before reaching
Nirvāna man is constantly being reborn; when he reaches Nirvāna
he is born no more.

131.  Q.  _Where can be found a learned discussion of the word
Nirvāna and a list of the other names by which the old Pālī
writers attempt to define it?_

A.  In the famous Dictionary of the Pālī Language, by the late
Mr. B. O. Childers, is a complete list.[1]

132.  Q.  _But some people imagine that Nirvāna is some sort of
heavenly place, a Paradise.  Does Buddhism teach that?_

A.  No.  When Kūtadanta asked the Buddha "Where is Nirvāna," he
replied that it was "wherever the precepts are obeyed".

133.  Q.  _What causes us to be reborn?_

A.  The unsatisfied selfish desire (Skt., _trshnā_; Pālī,
tanhā) for things that belong to the state of personal existence in
the material world.  This unquenched thirst for physical existence
(_bhāva_) is a force, and has a creative power in itself so strong
that it draws the being back into mundane life.

134.  Q.  _Are our rebirths in any way affected by the nature of our
unsatisfied desires?_

A.  Yes, and by our individual merits or demerits.

135.  Q.  _Does our merit or demerit control the state, condition or
form in which we shall be re-born?_

A.  It does.  The broad rule is that if we have an excess of merit we
shall be well and happily born the next time; if an excess of demerit,
our next birth will be wretched and full of suffering.

136.  Q.  _One chief pillar of Buddhistic doctrine is, then, the idea
that every effect is the result of an actual cause, is it not?_

 A.  It is; of a cause either immediate or remote.

137.  Q.  _What do we call this causation?_

A.  Applied to individuals, it is Karma, that is, action.  It means
that our own actions or deeds bring upon us whatever of joy or misery
we experience.

138.  Q.  _Can a bad man escape from the outworkings of his Karma?_

A.  The _Dhammapada_ says: "There exists no spot on the earth, or in
the sky, or in the sea, neither is there any in the mountain-clefts,
where an (evil) deed does not bring trouble (to the doer)."

139.  Q.  _Can a good man escape?_

A.  As the result of deeds of peculiar merit, a man may attain certain
advantages of place, body, environment and teaching in his next stage
of progress, which ward off the effects of bad Karma and help his
higher evolution.

140.  _What are they called?_

A.  _Gati Sampatti_, _Upādhi Sampatti_, _Kāla Sampatti_ and
_Payoga Sampatti_.

141.  Q.  _Is that consistent or inconsistent with common sense and the
teachings of modern science?_

A.  Perfectly consistent: there can be no doubt of it.

142.  Q.  _May all men become Buddhas?_

A.  It is not in the nature of every man to become a Buddha; for a
Buddha is developed only at long intervals of time, and seemingly, when
the state of humanity absolutely requires such a teacher to show it the
forgotten Path to Nirvāna.  But every being may equally reach
Nirvāna, by conquering Ignorance and gaining Wisdom.

143.  Q.  _Does Buddhism teach that man is reborn only upon our earth?_

A.  As a general rule that would be the case, until he had evolved
beyond its level; but the inhabited worlds are numberless.  The world
upon which a person is to have his next birth, as well as the nature of
the rebirth itself, is decided by the preponderance of the individual's
merit or demerit.  In other words, it will be controlled by his
attractions, as science would describe it; or by his Karma, as we,
Buddhists, would say.

144.  Q.  _Are there worlds more perfectly developed, and others less
so than our Earth?_

A.  Buddhism teaches that there are whole _Sakwalas_, or systems of
worlds, of various kinds, higher and lower, and also that the
inhabitants of each world correspond in development with itself.

145.  Q.  _Has not the Buddha summed up his whole doctrine in one
gāthā, or verse?_

A.  Yes.

146.  Q.  _Repeat it?_

A.  _Sabba pāpassa akaranm,
    Kusalassa upasampadā
    Sachitta pariyo dapanam--
    Etam Buddhānusāsanam._

    "To cease from all evil actions,
    To generate all that is good,
    To cleanse one's mind:
    This is the constant advice of the Buddhas."

147.  Q.  _Have the first three of these lines any very striking

A.  Yes: the first line embodies the whole spirit of the _Vinaya
Pitaka_, the second that of the _Sutta_, the third that of the
_Abhidhamma_.  They comprise only eight Pālī words, yet, as the
dew-drop reflects the stars, they sparkle with the spirit of all the
Buddha Dharma.

148.  Q.  _Do these precepts show that Buddhism is an active or a
passive religion?_

A.  To "cease from sin" may be called passive, but to "get virtue" and
"to cleanse one's own heart," or mind, are altogether _active_
qualities.  Buddha taught that we should not merely not be evil, but
that we should be _positively_ good.

149.  Q.  _Who or what are the "Three Guides"[2] that a Buddhist Is
supposed to follow?_

A.  They are disclosed in the formula called the Tisarana: "I follow
Buddha as my Guide: I follow the Law as my Guide: I follow the Order as
my Guide."  These three _are_, in fact, the Buddha Dharma.

150.  Q.  _What does he mean when repeating this formula?_

A.  He means that he regards the Buddha as his all-wise Teacher, Friend
and Exemplar; the Law, or Doctrine, as containing the essential and
immutable principles of Justice and Truth and the path that leads to
the realisation of perfect peace of mind on earth; and the Order as the
teachers and exemplars of that excellent Law taught by Buddha.

151.  Q.  _But are not some of the members of this "Order" men
intellectually and morally inferior?_

A.  Yes; but we are taught by the Buddha that only those who diligently
attend to the Precepts, discipline their minds, and strive to attain or
have attained one of the eight stages of holiness and perfection,
constitute his "Order".  It is expressly stated that the Order referred
to in the "Tisarana" refers to the "Attha Ariya Puggala"--the Noble
Ones who have attained one of the eight stages of perfection.  The mere
wearing of yellow robes, or even ordination, does not of itself make a
man pure or wise or entitle him to reverence.

152.  Q.  _Then it is not such unworthy bhikkhus as they, whom the true
Buddhist would lake as his guides?_

A.  Certainly not.

153.  Q.  _What are the five observances, or universal precepts, called
the Pañcha Sīla, which are imposed on the laity in general?_

A.  They are included in the following formula,, which Buddhists repeat
publicly at the vihāras (temples):

I observe the precept to refrain from destroying the life of beings.

I observe the precept to refrain from stealing.

I observe the precept to abstain from unlawful sexual intercourse.[3]

I observe the precept to refrain from falsehood.

I observe the precept to abstain from using intoxicants.

154.  Q.  What strikes the intelligent person on reading these Sīlas?

A.  That one who observes them strictly must escape from every cause
productive of human misery.  If we study history we shall find that it
has all sprung from one or another of these causes.

155.  Q.  In which Sīlas is the far-seeing wisdom of the Buddha most
plainly shown?

A.  In the first, third and fifth; for the taking of life, sensuality,
and the use of intoxicants, cause at least ninety-five per cent of the
sufferings among men.

156.  Q.  _What benefits does a man derive from the observance of these

A.  He is said to acquire more or less merit according to the manner
and time of observing the precepts, and the number observed; that is,
if he observes only one precept, violating the other four, he acquires
the merit of the observance of that precept only; and the longer he
keeps that precept the greater will be the merit.  He who keeps all the
precepts inviolate will cause himself to have a higher and happier
existence hereafter.

157.  Q.  _What are the other observances which it is considered
meritorious for the laity as such to undertake voluntarily to keep?_

A.  The _Atthanga Sīla_, or the Eightfold Precept, which embraces
the five above enumerated (omitting the word "unlawful" in the third),
with three additional; _viz._:

I observe the precept to abstain from eating at an unseasonable time.

I observe the precept to abstain from dancing, singing, music and
unbecoming shows, and from the use of garlands, scents, perfumes,
cosmetics, ointments, and ornaments.

I observe the precept to abstain from using high and broad beds.

The seats and couches here referred to are those used by the
worldly-minded for the sake of pleasure and sensual enjoyment.  The
celibate should avoid these.

158.  Q.  _How would a Buddhist describe true merit?_

A.  There is no great merit in any merely outward act; all depends upon
the inward motive that provokes the deed.

159.  Q.  _Give an example?_

A.  A rich man may expend lakhs of rupees in building dāgobas or
vihāras, in erecting statues of Buddha, in festivals and
processions, in feeding priests, in giving alms to the poor, or in
planting trees, digging tanks, or constructing rest-houses by the
roadside for travellers, and yet have comparatively little merit if it
be done for display, or to hear himself praised by men, or for any
other selfish motives.  But he who does the least of these things with
a kind motive, such as love for his fellow-men, gains great merit.  A
good deed done with a bad motive benefits others, but not the doer.
One who approves of a good deed when done by another shares in the
merit, _if his sympathy is real, not pretended_.  The same rule applies
to evil deeds.

160.  Q.  _But which is said to be the greatest of all meritorious

A.  The _Dhammapada_ declares that the merit of disseminating the
Dharma, the Law of Righteousness, is greater than that of any other
good work.

161.  Q.  _What books contain all the most excellent wisdom of the
Buddha's teachings?_

A.  The three collections of books called _Tripitakas_ or "_Three

162.  Q.  _What are the names of the three Pitakas, or groups of books?_

A.  The _Vinaya Pitaka_, the _Sutta Pitaka_ and the _Abhidhamma Pitaka_.

163.  Q.  _What do they respectively contain?_

A.  The first contains all that pertains to morality and the rules of
discipline for the government of the Sangha, or Order; the second
contains instructive discourses on ethics applicable to all; the third
explains the psychological teachings of the Buddha, including the
twenty-four transcendental laws explanatory of the workings of Nature.

164.  Q.  _Do Buddhists relieve these books to be inspired, or
revealed, by a Divine Being?_

A.  No; but they revere them as containing all the parts of that most
Excellent Law, by the knowing of which man may break through the
trammels of _Samsāra_.

165.  Q.  _In the whole text of the three Pitakas how many words are

A.  Dr. Rhys-Davids estimates them at 1,752,800.

166.  Q.  _When were the Pitakas first reduced to writing?_

A.  In 88-76 B.C., under the Sinhalese King, Wattagamini, or three
hundred and thirty years after the Paranirvāna of the Buddha.

167.  Q.  _Have we reason to believe that all the discourses of the
Buddha are known to us?_

A.  Probably not, and it would be strange if they were.  Within the
forty-five years of his public life he must have preached many hundreds
of discourses.  Of these, in times of war and persecution, many must
have been lost, many scattered to distant countries, and many
mutilated.  History says that enemies of the Buddha Dharma burnt piles
of our books as high as a coco-nut tree.

168.  Q.  _Do Buddhists consider the Buddha as one who by his own
virtue can save us from the consequence of our individual sins?_

A.  Not at all.  Man must emancipate himself.  Until he does that he
will continue being born over and over and over again--the victim of
ignorance, the slave of unquenched passions.

169.  Q.  _What, then, was the Buddha to us, and all other beings?_

A.  An all-seeing, all-wise Counsellor; one who discovered the safe
path and pointed it out; one who showed the cause of, and the only cure
for, human suffering.  In pointing to the road, in showing us how to
escape dangers, he became our Guide.  He is to us like one leading a
blind man across a narrow bridge over a swift and deep stream and so
saving his life.

170.  Q.  _If we were to try to represent the whole spirit of the
Buddha's doctrine by one word, which word should we choose?_

A.  Justice.

171.  Q.  _Why?_

A.  Because it teaches that every man gets, under the operations of
unerring KARMA, exactly that reward or punishment which he has
deserved, no more and no less.  No good deed or bad deed, however
trifling, and however secretly committed, escapes the evenly-balanced
scales of Karma.

172.  Q.  _What is Karma?_[4]

A.  A causation operating on the moral, as well as on the physical and
other planes.  Buddhists say there is no miracle in human affairs: what
a man sows that he must and will reap.

173.  Q.  _What other good words have been used to express the essence
of Buddhism?_

A.  Self-culture and universal love.

174.  Q.  _What doctrine ennobles Buddhism, and gives it its exalted
place among the world's religions?_

A.  That of _Mitta_ or _Maitreya_--compassionate kindness.  The
importance of this doctrine is moreover emphasised in the giving of the
name "Maitri" (the Compassionate One), to the coming Buddha.

175.  Q.  _Were all these points of Doctrine that you have explained
meditated upon by the Buddha near the Bo-tree?_

A.  Yes, these and many more that may be read in the Buddhist
Scriptures.  The entire system of Buddhism came to his mind during the
Great Enlightenment.

176.  Q.  _How long did the Buddha remain near the Bo-tree?_

A.  Forty-nine days.

177.  Q.  _What do we call the first discourse preached by the
Buddha--that which he addressed to his five former companions?_

A.  The _Dhammacakka-ppavattana sutta_--the Sūtra of the Definition
of the Rule of Doctrine.[5]

178.  Q.  _What subjects were treated by him in this discourse?_

A.  The "Four Noble Truths," and the "Noble Eightfold Path".  He
condemned the extreme physical mortification of the ascetics, on the
one hand, and the enjoyment of sensual pleasures on the other; pointing
out and recommending the Noble Eightfold Path as the Middle Path.

179.  Q.  _Did the Buddha hold with idol-worship?_

A.  He did not; he opposed it.  The worship of gods, demons, trees,
etc., was condemned by the Buddha.  External worship is a fetter that
one has to break if he is to advance higher.

180.  Q.  _But, do not Buddhists make reverence before the statue of
the Buddha, his relics, and the monuments enshrining them?_

A.  Yes, but not with the sentiment of the idolater.

181.  Q.  _What is the difference?_

A.  Our Pagan brother not only takes his images as visible
representations of his unseen God or gods, but the refined idolater, in
worshipping, considers that the idol contains in its substance a
portion of the all-pervading divinity.

182.  Q.  _What does the Buddhist think?_

A.  The Buddhist reverences the Buddha's statue and the other things
you have mentioned, only as mementoes of the greatest, wisest, most
benevolent and compassionate man in this world-period (Kalpa).  All
races and people preserve, treasure up, and value the relics and
mementoes of men and women who have been considered in any way great.
The Buddha, to us, seems more to be revered and beloved than any one
else, by every human being who knows sorrow.

183.  Q.  _Has the Buddha himself given us something definite upon this

A.  Certainly.  In the _Mahā Pari-Nirvāna Sutta_ he says that
emancipation is attainable only by leading the Holy life, according to
the Noble Eight-fold Path, not by eternal worship (_āmisa
pūjā_), nor by adoration of himself, or of another, or of any

184.  Q.  _What was the Buddha's estimate of ceremonialism?_

A.  From the beginning, he condemned the observance of ceremonies and
other external practices, which only tend to increase our spiritual
blindness and our clinging to mere lifeless forms.

185.  Q.  _What as to controversies?_

A.  In numerous discourses he denounced this habit as most pernicious.
He prescribed penances for Bhikkhus who waste time and weaken their
higher intuitions in wrangling over theories and metaphysical

186.  Q.  _Are charms, incantations, the observance of lucky hours and
devil-dancing a part of Buddhism?_

A.  They are positively repugnant to its fundamental principles.  They
are the surviving relics of fetishism and pantheistic and other foreign
religions.  In the _Brāhmajāta Sutta_ the Buddha has
categorically described these and other superstitions as Pagan, mean
and spurious.[6]

187.  Q.  _What striking contrasts are there between Buddhism and what
may be properly called "religions"?_

A.  Among others, these: It teaches the highest goodness without a
creating God; a continuity of life without adhering to the
superstitious and selfish doctrine of an eternal, metaphysical
soul-substance that goes out of the body; a happiness without an
objective heaven; a method of salvation without a vicarious Saviour;
redemption by oneself as the Redeemer, and without rites, prayers,
penances, priests or intercessory saints; and a _summum bonum_, _i.e._,
Nirvāna, attainable in this life and in this world by leading a
pure, unselfish life of wisdom and of compassion to all beings.

188.  Q.  _Specify the two main divisions of "meditation," i.e., of the
process by which one extinguishes passion and attains knowledge?_

A.  _Samatha_ and _Vidarsama_: (1) the attenuation of passion by
leading the holy life and by continued effort to subdue the senses; (2)
the attainment of supernormal wisdom by reflection: each of which
embraces twenty aspects, but I need not here specify them.

189.  Q.  _What are the four paths or stages of advancement that one
may attain to?_

A.  (1) Sottāpatti--the beginning or entering into which follows
after one's clear perception of the "Four Noble Truths"; (2)
Sakardāgāmi--the path of one who has so subjugated lust, hatred
and delusion that he need only return once to this world; (3)
_Anāgami_--the path of those who have so far conquered self that
they need not return to this world; (4) _Arhat_--the path of the holy
and worthy Arhat, who is not only free from the necessity of
reincarnation, but has capacitated himself to enjoy perfect wisdom,
boundless pity for the ignorant and suffering, and measureless love for
all beings.

190.  Q.  _Does popular Buddhism contain nothing but what is true, and
in accord with science?_

A.  Like every other religion that has existed many centuries, it
certainly now contains untruth mingled with truth; ever gold is found
mixed with dross.  The poetical imagination, the zeal, or the lingering
superstition of Buddhist devotees have, in various ages, and in various
lands, caused the noble principles of the Buddha's moral doctrines to
be coupled more or less with what might be removed to advantage.

191.  Q.  _When such perversions are discovered, what should be the
true Buddhist's earnest desire?_

A.  The true Buddhist should be ever ready and anxious to see the false
purged away from the true, and to assist, if he can.  Three great
Councils of the Sangha were held for the express purpose of purging the
body of Teachings from all corrupt interpolations.

192.  Q.  _When?_

A.  The first, at Sattapanni cave, just after the death of the Buddha;
the second at Valukarama, in Vaisali; the third at Asokarama Vihāra,
at Pātaliputra, 235 years after Buddha's decease.

193.  Q.  _In what discourse does the Buddha himself warn us to expect
this perversion of the true Doctrine?_

A.  In the _Sanyutta Nikāya_.

194.  Q.  _Are there any dogmas in Buddhism which we are required to
accept on faith?_

A.  No: we are earnestly enjoined to accept nothing whatever on faith;
whether it be written in books, handed down from our ancestors, or
taught by the sages.

195.  Q.  _Did he himself really teach that noble rule?_

A.  Yes.  The Buddha has said that we must not believe in a thing said
merely because it is said; nor in traditions because they have been
handed down from antiquity; nor rumours, as such; nor writings by
sages, merely because sages wrote them; nor fancies that we may suspect
to have been inspired in us by a Deva (that is, in presumed spiritual
inspiration); nor from inferences drawn from some haphazard assumption
we may have made; nor because of what seems an analogical necessity;
nor on the mere authority of our own teachers or masters.

196.  Q.  _When, then, must we believe?_

A.  We are to believe when the writing doctrine or saying is
corroborated by our own reason and consciousness.  "For this," says he
in concluding, "I taught you not to believe merely because you have
heard, but when you believed of your own consciousness, then to act
accordingly and abundantly."  (See the _Kālāma Sutta_ of the
_Anguttara Nikāya_, and the _Mahā Pari Nirvāna Sutta_.)

197.  Q.  _What does the Buddha call himself?_

A.  He says that he and the other Buddhas are only "preachers" of truth
who point out the way: we ourselves must make the effort.

198.  Q.  _Where is this said?_

A.  In the _Dhammapada_, Chapter xx.

199.  Q.  _Does Buddhism countenance hypocrisy?_

A.  The Dhammapada says: "Like a beautiful flower full of colour
without scent the fine words of him who does not act accordingly are

200.  Q.  _Does Buddhism teach us to return evil for evil?_

A.  In the _Dhammapada_ the Buddha said: "If a man foolishly does me
wrong, I will return to him the protection of my ungrudging love; the
more evil comes from him, the more good shall go from me."  This is the
path followed by the Arhat.[7]  To return evil for evil is positively
forbidden in Buddhism.

201.  Q.  _Does it encourage cruelty?_

A.  No, indeed.  In the Five Precepts and in many of his discourses,
the Buddha teaches us to be merciful to all beings, to try and make
them happy, to love them all, to abstain from taking life, or
consenting to it, or encouraging its being done.

202.  Q.  _In which discourse is this stated?_

A.  The _Dhammika Sutta_ says: "Let him (the householder) not destroy,
or cause to be destroyed, any life at all, or _sanction the act of
those who do so_.  Let him refrain from even hurting any creature."[8]

203.  Q.  _Does it approve of drunkenness?_

A.  In his _Dhammika Sutta_ we are warned against drinking liquors,
causing others to drink, or sanctioning the acts of those who drink.[9]

204.  Q.  _To what are we told that drunkenness leads?_

A.  To demerit, crime, insanity, and ignorance--which is the chief
cause of rebirth.

205.  Q.  _What does Buddhism teach about marriage?_

A.  Absolute chastity being a condition of full spiritual development,
is most highly commended; but a marriage to one wife and fidelity to
her is recognised as a kind of chastity.  Polygamy was censured by the
Buddha as involving ignorance and promoting lust.

206.  Q.  _In what discourse?_

A.  The _Anguttara Nikāya_, Chapter iv, 55.

207.  Q.  _What does it teach as to the duty of parents to children?_

A.  They should restrain them from vice, train them in virtue; have
them taught arts and sciences; provide them with suitable wives and
husbands, and give them their inheritance.

208.  Q.  What is the duty of children?

A.  To support their parents when old or needy; perform family duties
incumbent on them; guard their property; make themselves worthy to be
their heirs, and when they are gone, honour their memory.

209.  Q.  _What of pupils to the teacher?_

A.  To show him respect; minister to him; obey him; supply his wants;
attend to his instruction.

210.  Q.  _What of husband to wife?_

A.  To cherish her; treat her with respect and kindness; be faithful to
her; cause her to be honoured by others; provide her with suitable
ornaments and clothes.

211.  Q.  _What of the wife to her husband?_

A.  To show affection to him; order her household aright; be hospitable
to guests; be chaste; be thrifty; show skill and diligence in all

212.  Q.  Where are these precepts taught?

A.  In the Sigālovāda Sutta.

213.  Q.  Do riches help a man to future happiness?

A.  The Dhammapada says: "One is the road that leads to wealth, another
the road that leads to Nirvāna."

214.  Q.  Does that mean that no rich man can attain Nirvāna?

A.  That depends on which he loves most.  If he uses his wealth for the
benefit of mankind--for the suffering, the oppressed, the
ignorant--then his wealth aids him to acquire merit.

215.  Q.  But if the contrary?

A.  But if he loves and greedily hoards money for the sake of its
possession, then it weakens his moral sense, prompts him to crime,
brings curses upon him in this life, and their effects are felt in the
next birth.

216.  Q.  _What says the "Dhammapada" about ignorance?_

A.  That it is a taint worse than all taints that a man can put upon

217.  Q.  _What does it say about uncharitableness towards others?_

A.  That the fault of others is easily perceived, but that of oneself
difficult to perceive; a man winnows his neighbour's faults like chaff,
but his own fault he hides, as a cheat hides the bad die from the

218.  Q.  _What advice does the Buddha give us as to man's duty to the

A.  He says that a man's net income should be divided into four parts,
of which one should be devoted to philanthropic objects.

219.  Q.  _What five occupations are said to be low and base?_

A.  Selling liquor, selling animals for slaughter, selling poison,
selling murderous weapons, and dealing in slaves.

220.  Q.  _Who are said to be incapable of progress in spirituality?_

A.  The killers of father, mother, and holy Arhats; Bhikkhus who sow
discord in the Sangha; those who attempt to injure the person of a
Buddha; those who hold extremely nihilistic views as to the future
existence; and those who are extremely sensual.

121.  Q.  _Does Buddhism specify places or conditions of torment into
which a bad man's Karma draws him on leaving this life?_

A.  Yes.  They are: Sanjīva; Kālasūtra; Sanghāta; Raurava;
Mahā-Raurava Tāpa; Pratāpa; Avīchi.

222.  Q.  _Is the torment eternal?_

A.  Certainly not.  Its duration depends on a man's Karma.

223.  Q.  _Does Buddhism declare that non-believers in Buddha will of
necessity be damned for their unbelief?_

A.  No; by good deeds they may enjoy a limited term of happiness before
being drawn into rebirth by their unexhausted _tanhā_.  To escape
rebirth, one must tread the Noble Eight-fold Path.

224.  Q.  _What is the spiritual status of woman among Buddhists?_

A.  According to our religion they are on a footing of perfect equality
with men.  "Woman," says the Buddha, in the _Chullavedalla Sutta_, "may
attain the highest path of holiness that is open to man--Arhatship."

225.  Q.  _What does a modern critic say about the effect of Buddhism
on woman?_

A.  That "it has done more for the happiness and enfranchisement of
woman than any other creed" (Sir Lepel Griffin).

226.  Q.  _What did the Buddha teach about caste?_

A.  That one does not become of any caste, whether Pariah, the lowest,
or Brāhmana the highest, by birth, but by deeds.  "By deeds," said
He, "one becomes an outcast, by deeds one becomes a Brāhmana" (See
_Vassala Sutta_).

227.  Q.  _Tell me a story to illustrate this?_

A.  Ananda, passing by a well, was thirsty and asked Prakrti, a girl of
the Mātanga, or Pariah, caste, to give him water.  She said she was
of such low caste that he would become contaminated by taking water
from her hand.  But Ananda replied: "I ask not for caste but for
water"; and the Mātanga girl's heart was glad and she gave him to
drink.  The Buddha blessed her for it.

228.  Q.  _What did the Buddha say in "Vasala Sutta" about a man of the
Pariah Sopāka caste?_

A.  That by his merits he reached the highest fame; that many Khattiyas
(Kshattriyas) and Brāhmanas went to serve him; and that after death
he was born in the Brāhma-world: while there are many Brāhmanas
who for their evil deeds are born in hell.

229.  Q.  Does Buddhism teach the immortality of the soul?

A.  It considers "soul" to be a word used by the ignorant to express a
false idea.  If everything is subject to change, then man is included,
and every material part of him must change.  That which is subject to
change is not permanent: so there can be no immortal survival of a
changeful thing.[10]

230.  Q.  _What is so objectionable in this word "soul"?_

A.  The idea associated with it that man can be an entity separated
from all other entities, and from the existence of the whole of the
Universe.  This idea of separateness is unreasonable, not provable by
logic, nor supported by science.

231.  Q.  _Then there is no separate "I," nor can we say "my" this or

A.  Exactly so.

232.  Q.  _If the idea of a separate human "soul" is to be rejected,
what is it in man which gives him the impression of having a permanent

A.  _Tanhā_, or the unsatisfied desire for existence.  The being
having done that for which he must be rewarded or punished in future,
and having _Tanhā_, will have a rebirth through the influence of

233.  Q.  _What is it that is born?_

A.  A new aggregation of Skandhas, or personality[11] caused by the last
generative thought of the dying person.

234.  Q.  _How many Skandhas are there?_

A.  Five.

235.  Q.  _Name the five Skandhas?_

A.  Rūpa, Vedanā, Saññā, Samkhārā,_ and _Viññāna_.

236.  Q.  _Briefly explain what they are?_

A.  __Rūpa_, material qualities; _Vedanā_, sensation; _Saññā_,
abstract ideas; _Samkhārā_, tendencies of mind; _Viññāna_,
mental powers, or consciousness.  Of these we are formed; by them we
are conscious of existence; and through them communicate with the world
about us.

237.  Q.  _To what cause must we attribute the differences in the
combination of the five Skandhas which make every individual differ
from every other individual?_

A.  To the ripened Karma of the individual in his preceding births.

238.  Q.  _What is the force of energy that is at work, under the
guidance of Karma, to produce the new being?_

A.  Tanhā--the will to _live_.[12]

239.  Q.  _Upon what is the doctrine of rebirths founded?_

A.  Upon the perception that perfect justice, equilibrium and
adjustment are inherent in the universal system of Nature.  Buddhists
do not believe that one life--even though it were extended to one
hundred or five hundred years--is long enough for the reward or
punishment of a man's deeds.  The great circle of rebirths will be more
or less quickly run through according to the preponderating purity or
impurity of the several lives of the individual.

240.  Q.  _Is this new aggregation of Skandhas--this new
personality--the same being as that in the previous birth, whose
Tanhā has brought it into existence?_

A.  In one sense it is a new being; in another it is not.  In
Pālī it is--"_nacha so nacha añño_" which means not the same nor
yet another.  During this life the _Skandhas_ are constantly
changing;[13] and while the man A. B., of forty, is identical, as
regards personality, with the youth A. B., of eighteen, yet, by the
continual waste and reparation of his body, and change of mind and
character, he is a different being.  Nevertheless, the man in his old
age justly reaps the reward of suffering consequent upon his thoughts
and actions at every previous stage of his life.  So the new being of a
rebirth, being the same individuality as before, but with a changed
form, or new aggregation of _Skandhas_, justly reaps the consequences
of his actions and thoughts in the previous existence.

241.  Q.  _But the aged man remembers the incidents of his youth,
despite his being physically and mentally changed.  Why, then, is not
the recollection of past lives brought over by us from our last birth,
into the present birth?_

A.  Because memory is included within the _Skandhas_; and the
_Skandhas_ having changed with the new reincarnation, a new memory, the
record of of that particular existence, develops.  Yet the record or
reflection of all the past earth-lives must survive; for, when Prince
Siddhārtha became Buddha, the full sequence of his previous births
was seen by him.  If their several incidents had left no trace behind,
this could not have been so, as there would have been nothing for him
to see.  And any one who attains to the fourth state of _Dhyāna_
(psychical insight) can thus retrospectively trace the line of his

242.  Q.  _What is the ultimate point towards which tend all these
series of changes in form?_

A.  Nirvāna.

243.  Q.  _Does Buddhism teach that we should do good with the view of
reaching Nirvāna?_

A.  No; that would be as absolute selfishness as though the reward
hoped for had been money, a throne, or any other sensual enjoyment.
Nirvāna cannot be so reached, and the unwise speculator is
foredoomed to disappointment.

244.  Q.  _Please make it a little clearer?_

A.  Nirvāna is the synonym of unselfishness, the entire surrender of
selfhood to truth.  The ignorant man aspires to nirvānic happiness
without the least idea of its nature.  Absence of selfishness is
Nirvāna.  Doing good with the view to getting results, or leading
the holy life with the object of gaining heavenly happiness, is not the
Noble Life that the Buddha enjoined.  Without hope of reward the Noble
Life should be lived, and that is the highest life.  The nirvānic
state can be attained while one is living on this earth.

245.  Q.  _Name the ten great obstacles to advancement, called
Sanyojanas, the Fetters?_

A.  Delusion of self (_Sakkāya-ditthi_); Doubt (_Vicikicchā_);
Dependence on superstitious rites (_Sīlabbata-parāmāsa_);
Sensuality, bodily passions (_Kāma_); Hatred, ill-feeling
(_Patigha_); Love of life on earth (_Rūparāga_); Desire for life
in a heaven (_Arūparāga_); Pride (_Māna_); Self-righteousness
(Uddhacca); Ignorance (_Avijjā_).

246.  Q.  _To become an Arhat, how many of these fetters must be

A.  All.

247.  Q.  _What are the five Nirwāranas or Hindrances?_

A.  Greed, Malice, Sloth, Pride, and Doubt.

248.  Q.  _Why do we see this minute division of feelings, impulses,
workings of the mind, obstacles and aids to advancement so much used in
the Buddha's teachings?  It is very confusing to a beginner._

A.  It is to help us to obtain knowledge of ourselves, by training our
minds to think out every subject in detail.  By following out this
system of self-examination, we come finally to acquire knowledge and
see truth as it is.  This is the course taken by every wise teacher to
help his pupil's mind to develop.

249.  Q.  _How many of the Buddha's disciples were specially renowned
for their superior qualities?_

A.  There are eighty so distinguished.  They are called the Asīti
Mahā Sāvakas.

250.  Q.  _What did the Buddha's wisdom embrace?_

A.  He knew the nature of the Knowable and the Unknowable, the Possible
and the Impossible, the cause of Merit and Demerit; he could read the
thoughts of all beings; he knew the laws of Nature, the illusions of
the senses and the means to suppress desires; he could distinguish the
birth and rebirth of individuals, and other things.

251.  Q.  _What do we call the basic principle on which the whole of
the Buddha's teaching is constructed?_

A.  It is called Paticca Samuppāda.[14]

252.  Q.  _Is it easily grasped?_

A.  It is most difficult; in fact, the full meaning and extent of it is
beyond the capacity of such as are not perfectly developed.

253.  Q.  _What said the great commentator Buddha Ghosha about it?_

A.  That even he was as helpless in this vast ocean of thought as one
who is drifting on the ocean of waters.

254.  Q.  _Then why should the Buddha say, in the Parinibbāna Sutta,
that he "has no such thing as the closed fist of a teacher, who keeps
something back"?  If his whole teaching was open to every one's
comprehension why should so great and learned a man as Buddha Ghosha
declare it so hard to understand?_

A.  The Buddha evidently meant that he taught everything freely; but
equally certain is it that the real basis of the Dharma can only be
understood by him who has perfected his powers of comprehension.  It
is, therefore, incomprehensible to common, unenlightened persons.

255.  Q.  _How does the teaching of the Buddha support this view?_

A.  The Buddha looked into the heart of each person, and preached to
suit the individual temperament and spiritual development of the hearer.

[1] Mr. Childers takes a highly pessimistic view of the Nirvānic
state, regarding it as annihilation.  Later students disagree with him.

[2] _Saranam_.  Wijesinha Mudaliar writes me: "This word has been
hitherto very inappropriately and erroneously rendered _Refuge_, by
European Pālī scholars, and thoughtlessly so accepted by native
Pālī scholars.  Neither Pālī etymology nor Buddhistic
philosophy justifies the translation.  _Refuge_, in the sense of a
_fleeing back or a place of shelter_, is quite foreign to true
Buddhism, which insists on every man working out his own emancipation.
The root _Sr_ in Samskrt (_sara_ in Pālī) means to move, to go;
so that _Suranim_ would denote a moving, or he or that which goes
before or with another--a Guide or Helper.  I construe the passage
thus: _Gachchāmi_, I go, _Buddham_, to Buddha _Saranam_, as my
Guide.  The translation of the _Tisarana_ as the "Three Refuges," has
given rise to much misapprehension, and has been made by anti-Buddhists
a fertile pretext for taunting Buddhists with the absurdity of taking
refuge in non-entities and believing in unrealities.  The term refuge
is more applicable to Nirvāna, of which _Saranam_ is a synonym.  The
High Priest Sumangala also calls my attention to the fact that the
Pālī root _Sara_ has the secondary meaning of killing, or that
which destroys.  _Buddham saranam gachchhāmi_ might thus be rendered
"I go to Buddha, the Law, and the Order, as the destroyers of my
fears--the first by his preaching, the second by its axiomatic truth,
the third by their various examples and precepts."

[3] This qualified form refers, of course, to laymen who only profess
to keep five precepts; a Bhikkhu must observe strict celibacy.  So,
also, must the laic who binds himself to observe eight of the whole ten
Precepts for specified periods; during these periods he must be
celibate.  The five Precepts were laid down by Buddha for all people.
Though one may not be a Buddhist, yet the five and eight Precepts may
profitably bo observed by all.  It is the taking of the "Three Refuges"
that constitutes one a Buddhist.

[4] Karma is defined as the sum total of a man's actions.  The law of
Cause and Effect is called the _Patice a Samuppada Dhamma_.  In the
_Anguttara Nikaya_ the Buddha teaches that my action is my possession,
my action is my inheritance, my action is the womb which bears me, my
action is my relative, my action is my refuge.

[5] After the appearance of the first edition, I received from one of
the ablest Pālī scholars of Ceylon, the late L. Corneille
Wijesinha, Esq., Mudaliar of Matale, what seems a better rendering of
_Dhammacakka-ppavattana_ than the one previously given; he makes it
"The Establishment of the Reign of Law".  Professor Rhys-Davids
prefers, "The Foundation of the Kingdom of Righteousness".  Mr.
Wijesinha writes me: "You may use 'Kingdom of Righteousness,' too, but
it savours more of dogmatic theology than of philosophic ethics.
_Dhammacakkappavattana suttum_ is the discourse entitled 'The
Establishment of the Reign of Law'."  Having shown this to the High
Priest, I am happy to be able to say that he assents to Mr. Wijesinha's

[6] The mixing of these arts and practices with Buddhism is a sign of
deterioration.  Their facts and phenomena are real and capable of
scientific explanation.  They are embraced in the term "magic," but
when resorted to, for selfish purposes, attract bad influences about
one, and impede spiritual advancement.  When employed for harmless and
beneficent purposes, such as healing the sick, saving life, etc., the
Buddha permitted their use.

[7] A Buddhist ascetic who, by a prescribed course of practice, has
attained to a superior state of spiritual and intellectual development.
Arhats may be divided into the two general groups of the
_Samathayanika_ and _Sukkha Vipassaka_.  The former have destroyed
their passions, and fully developed their intellectual capacity or
mystical insight; the latter have equally conquered passion, but not
acquired the superior mental powers.  The former can work phenomena,
the latter cannot.  The Arhat of the former class, when fully
developed, is no longer a prey to the delusions of the senses, nor the
slave of passion or mortal frailty.  _He penetrates to the root of
whatsoever subject his mind is applied to_ without following the slow
processes of reasoning.  His self-conquest is complete; and in place of
the emotion and desire which vex and enthral the ordinary man, he is
lifted up into a condition which is best expressed in the term
"Nirvānic".  There is in Ceylon a popular misconception that the
attainment of Arhatship is now impossible; that the Buddha had himself
prophesied that the power would die out in one millennium after his
death.  This rumour--and the similar one that is everywhere heard in
India, _viz._, that this being the dark cycle of the _Kali Yuga_, the
practice of Yoga Vidyā, or sublime spiritual science, is
impossible--I ascribe to the ingenuity of those who should be as pure
and (to use a non-Buddhistic but very convenient term) psychically wise
as were their predecessors, but are not, and who therefore seek an
excuse!  The Buddha taught quite the contrary idea.  In the _Nīga
Nikāya_ he said: "Hear, Subbhadra!  The world will never be without
Arhats if the ascetics (Bhikkhus) in my congregations _well and truly
keep my precepts_."  (_Imeccha Subhaddabhikkhu samma vihareiyum asunno
loko Arahantehiassa._)

[8] Kolb, in his _History of Culture_, says: "It is Buddhism we have to
thank for the sparing of prisoners of war, who heretofore had been
slain; also for the discontinuance of the carrying away into captivity
of the inhabitants of conquered lands."

[9] The fifth Sīla has reference to the mere taking of intoxicants
and stupefying drugs, which leads ultimately to drunkenness.

[10] The "soul" here criticised is the equivalent of the Greek
_psuche_.  The word "material" covers other states of matter than that
of the physical body.

[11] Upon reflection, I have substituted "personality" for
"individuality" as written in the first edition.  The successive
appearances upon one or many earths, or "descents into generation," of
the _tanhaically_-coherent parts (_Skandhas_) of a certain being are a
succession of personalities.  In each birth the _personality_ differs
from that of the previous, or next succeeding birth.  Karma the _deus
ex machina_, masks (or shall we say reflects?) itself, now in the
personality of a sage, again as an artisan, and so on throughout the
string of births.  But though personalities ever shift, the one line of
life along which they are strung like beads, runs unbroken, it is ever
_that particular line_, never any other.  It is therefore
individual--an individual vital undulation--which is careering through
the objective side of Nature, under the impulse of Karma and the
creative direction of Tanhā and persists through many cyclic
changes.  Professor Rhys-Davids calls that which passes from
personality to personality along the individual chain, "character" or
"doing".  Since "character" is not a mere metaphysical abstraction, but
the sum of one's mental qualities and moral propensities, would it not
help to dispel what Professor Rhys-Davids calls "the desperate
expedient of a mystery" (_Buddhism_, p. 101), if we regarded the
life-undulation as individuality and each of its series of natal
manifestations as a separate personality?  We _must_ have two words to
distinguish between the concepts, and I find none so clear and
expressive as the two I have chosen.  The perfected individual,
Buddhistically speaking, is a Buddha, I should say; for a Buddha is but
the rare flower of humanity, without the least supernatural admixture.
And, as countless generations--"four_ asankhyyas_ and a hundred
thousand cycles" (Fausboll and Rhys-David's _Buddhist Birth Stories_,
No. 13)--are required to develop a man into a Buddha, and _the iron
will to become one runs throughout all the successive births_, what
shall we call that which thus wills and perseveres?  Character, or
individuality?  An individuality, but partly manifested in any one
birth, built up of fragments from all the births.

The denial of "Soul" by Buddha (see _Sanyutta Nikāya_, the _Sutta
Pitaka_) points to the prevalent delusive belief in an independent
personality; an entity, which after one birth would go to a fixed place
or state where, as a perfect entity, it could eternally enjoy or
suffer.  And what he shows is that the "I am I" consciousness is, as
regards permanency, logically impossible, since its elementary
constituents constantly change and the "I" of one birth differs from
the "I" of every other birth.  But everything that I have found in
Buddhism accords with the theory of a gradual evolution of the
perfected man--_viz._, a Buddha--through numberless natal experiences.
And in the consciousness of that individual who, at the end of a given
chain of births, attains Buddhahood, or who succeeds in attaining the
fourth stage of Dhyāna, or mystic self-development, in any of his
births anterior to the final one, the scenes of all these serial births
are perceptible.  In the _Jātakat-thavannana_--so well translated by
Professor Rhys-Davids--an expression continually recurs which, I think,
rather supports such an idea, _viz._: "Then the Blessed One _made
manifest an occurrence hidden by change of birth_," or "that which had
been hidden by," etc.  Early Buddhism then clearly held to a permanency
of records in the Ākāsha, and the potential capacity of man to
read the same when he has evolved to the stage of true individual
enlightenment.  At death, and in convulsions and trance, the _javana
chittā_ is transferred to the object last created by the desires.
The will to live brings all thoughts into objectivity.

[12] The student may profitably consult Schopenhauer in this
connection.  Arthur Schopenhauer, a modern German philosopher of the
most eminent ability, taught that "the Principle or Radical, of Nature,
and of all her objects, the human body included, is, intrinsically what
we ourselves are the most conscious of in our own body, _viz._, Will.
Intellect is a secondary capacity of the primary will, a function of
the brain in which this will reflects itself as Nature and object and
body, as in a mirror...  Intellect is secondary, but may lead, in
saints, to a complete renunciation of will, as far as it urges "life"
and is then extinguished in Nirvāna (L. A. Sanders in _The
Theosophist_ for May 1882, p. 213).

[13] Physiologically speaking, man's body is completely changed every
seven years.

[14] This fundamental or basic principle may be designated in
Pālī, _Nidāna_--chain of causation or, literally, "Origination
of dependence".  Twelve _Nidānas_ are specified, _viz._:
_Avijjā_--ignorance of the truth of natural religion;
_Samkhāra_--causal action, karma; _Viññana_--consciousness of
personality, the "I am I"; _Nāma rūpa_--name and form;
_Salayatana_--six senses; _Phassa_--contact, _Vedanā_--feeling,
_Tanhā_--desire for enjoyment; _Upādāna_--clinging,
_Bhava_--individualising existence; _Jāti---birth, caste; _Jarā,
narana, sokaparidesa, dukkha, domanassa, upāyāsa_--decay, death,
grief, lamentation, despair.



256.  Q.  _How do Buddhist Bhikkhus differ from the priests of other

A.  In other religions the priests claim to be intercessors between men
and God, to help to obtain pardon of sins; the Buddhist Bhikkhus do not
acknowledge or expect anything from a divine power.

257.  Q.  _But why then was it worth while to create this Order, or
Brotherhood, or Society, apart from the whole body of the people, if
they were not to do what other religious orders do?_

A.  The object in view was to cause the most virtuous, intelligent,
unselfish and spiritually-minded persons to withdraw from the social
surroundings where their sensual and other selfish desires were
naturally strengthened, devote their lives to the acquisition of the
highest wisdom, and fit themselves to teach and guide others out of the
pleasant path leading towards misery, into the harder path that leads
to true happiness and final liberation.

258.  Q.  _Besides the Eight, what two additional observances are
obligatory upon the Bhikkhus?_

A.  I observe the precept to abstain from dancing, singing and
unbecoming shows.

I observe the precept to abstain from receiving gold or silver.

The whole _Dasa_, or _Bhikkhu Sīla_ or Ten Precepts, are binding on
_all_ Bhikkhus and _Samaneras_, or novices, but optional with lay

The _Atthanga Sīla_ are for those who aspire to higher stages beyond
the heavenly regions,[1] aspirants after Nirvāna.

259.  Q.  _Are there separate Rules and Precepts for the guidance and
discipline of the Order?_

A.  Yes: there are 250, but all come under the following four heads:

Principal Disciplinary Rules {_Pātimokkha Samvara Sīla_).

Observances for the repression of the senses (_Indriya Samvara

Regulations for justly procuring and using food, diet, robes, etc.,
(_Paccaya Sannissita Sīla_).

Directions for leading an unblemished life (_Ajivapari Suddha Sīla_).

260.  Q.  _Enumerate some crimes and offences that Bhikkhus are
particularly prohibited from committing?_

A.  Real Bhikkhus abstain from:

Destroying the life of beings;


False exhibition of "occult" powers to deceive anybody;

Sexual intercourse;


The use of intoxicating liquors, and eating at unseasonable times;

Dancing, singing, and unbecoming shows;

Using garlands, scents, perfumes, etc.;

Using high and broad beds, couches, or seats; receiving presents of
gold, silver, raw grain and meat, women, and maidens, slaves, cattle,
elephants, etc.;


Using harsh and reproachful language;

Idle talk;

Reading and hearing fabulous stories and tales;

Carrying messages to and from laymen;

Buying and selling;

Cheating, bribing, deception, and fraud;

Imprisoning, plundering, and threatening others;

The practice of certain specified magical arts and sciences, such as
fortune-telling, astrological predictions, palmistry, and other
sciences, that go under the name of magic.  Any of these would retard
the progress of one who aimed at the attainment of Nirvāna.

261.  Q.  _What are the duties of Bhikkhus to the laity?_

A.  Generally, to set them an example of the highest morality; to teach
and instruct them; to preach and expound the Law; to recite the
_Paritta_ (comforting texts) to the sick, and publicly in times of
public calamity, when requested to do so; and unceasingly to exhort the
people to virtuous actions.  They should dissuade them from vice; be
compassionate and tender-hearted, and seek to promote the welfare of
all beings.

262.  Q.  _What are the rules for admission into the Order?_

A.  The candidate is not often taken before his tenth year; he must
have the consent of his parents; be free from leprosy, boils,
consumption and fits; be a free man; have no debts; and must not be a
criminal or deformed or in the royal service.

263.  Q.  _As a novice what is he called?_

A.  _Samanera_, a pupil.[2]

264.  Q.  _At what age can a Samanera be ordained as _Sramana_--monk?_

A.  Not before his twentieth year.

265.  Q.  When ready for ordination what happens?

A.  At a meeting of Bhikkhus he is presented by a Bhikkhu as his
proposer, who reports that he is qualified, and the candidate says: "I
ask the Sangha, Reverend Sirs, for the _Upasampada_ (ordination)
ceremony, etc."

His introducer then recommends that he be admitted.  He is then

266.  Q.  _What then?_

A.  He puts on the robes and repeats the Three Refuges {_Tisarana_) and
Ten Precepts (_Dasa Sīla_.)

267.  Q.  _What are the two essentials to be observed?_

A.  Poverty and Chastity.  A Bhikkhu before ordination must possess
eight things, _viz._, his robes, a girdle for his loins, a
begging-bowl, water-strainer, razor, needle, fan, sandals.  Within
limitations strictly specified in the Vināya, he may hold certain
other properties.

268.  Q.  _What about the public confession of faults?_

A.  Once every fortnight, a _Patimokka_ (Disburdenment) ceremony is
performed, when every Bhikkhu confesses to the assembly such faults as
he has committed and takes such penances as may be prescribed.

269.  Q.  _What daily routine must he follow?_

A.  He rises before daylight, washes, sweeps the vihāra, sweeps
around the Bo-tree that grows near every vihāra, brings the
drinking-water for the day and filters it; retires for meditation,
offers flowers before the dāgoba, or relic-mound, or before the
Bo-tree; then takes his begging-bowl and goes from house to house
collecting food--which he must not ask for, but receive in his bowl as
given voluntarily by the householders.  He returns, bathes his feet and
eats, after which he resumes meditation.

270.  Q.  _Must we believe that there is no merit in the offering of
flowers (mala pūjā) as an act of worship?_

A.  That act itself is without merit as a mere formality; but if one
offers a flower as the sweetest, purest expression of heartfelt
reverence for a holy being, then, indeed, is the offering an act of
ennobling worship.

271.  Q.  _What next does the Bhikkhu do?_

A.  He pursues his studies.  At sunset he again sweeps the sacred
places, lights a lamp, listens to the instructions of his superior, and
confesses to him any fault he may have committed.

272.  Q.  _Upon what are his four earnest meditations
(Sati-patthāna) made?_

A.  1.  On the body, Kayānapassānā.
    2.  On the feeling, Vedanānupassānā.
    3.  On the mind, Chittānnpassānā.
    4.  On the doctrine, Dhammānupassānā.

273.  Q.  _What is the aim of the four Great Efforts

A.  To suppress one's animal desires and grow in goodness.

274.  Q.  _For the perception by the Bhikkhu of the highest truth, is
reason said to be the best, or intuition?_

A.  Intuition--a mental state in which any desired truth is
instantaneously grasped.

275.  Q.  _And when can that development be reached?_

A.  When one, by the practice of Jñāna, comes to its fourth stage of

276.  Q.  _Are we to believe that in the final stage of Jñāna, and
in the condition called Samādhi, the mind is a blank and thought is

A.  Quite the contrary.  It is then that one's consciousness is most
intensely active, and one's power to gain knowledge correspondingly

277.  Q.  _Try to give me a simile?_

A.  In the ordinary waking state one's view of knowledge is as limited
as the sight of a man who walks on a road between high hills; in the
higher consciousness of Jñāna and _Samādhi_ it is like the sight
of the eagle poised in the upper sky and overlooking a whole country.

278.  Q.  _What do our books say about the Buddha's use of this

A.  They tell us that it was his custom, every morning, to glance over
the world and, by his divine (clairvoyant) sight, see where there were
persons ready to receive the truth.  He would then contrive, if
possible, that it should reach them.  When persons visited him he would
look into their minds, read their secret motives, and then preach to
them according to their needs.

[1] The Upāsaka and Upāsika observe these on the Buddhist
_Uposatha_ (Sabbath) days (in Skr. _Upavasata_).  They are the 8th,
14th and 15th days of each half lunar month.

[2] The relationship to his Guru, or teacher, is almost like that of
godson to godfather among Christians, only more real, for the teacher
becomes father, mother, family and all to him.



279.  Q.  _As regards the number its followers, how does Buddhism at
this date compare with the other chief religions?_

A.  The followers of the Buddha Dharma outnumber those of every other

280.  Q.  _What is the estimated number?_

A.  About five hundred millions (5,000 lakhs or 500 crores): this is
five-thirteenths, or not quite half, of the estimated population of the

281.  Q.  _Have many great battles been fought and many countries
conquered; has much human blood been spilt to spread the Buddha Dharma?_

A.  History does not record one of those cruelties and crimes as having
been committed to propagate our religion.  So far as we know, it has
not caused the spilling of a drop of blood.  (See footnote
_ante_--Professor Kolb's testimony.)

282.  Q.  _What, then, is the secret of its wonderful spread?_

A.  It can be nothing else than its intrinsic excellence: its
self-evident basis of truth, its sublime moral teaching, and its
sufficiency for all human needs.

283.  Q.  _How has it been propagated?_

A.  The Buddha, during the forty-five years of his life as a Teacher,
travelled widely in India and preached the Dharma.  He sent his wisest
and best disciples to do the same throughout India.

284.  Q.  _When did He send for his pioneer missionaries?_

A.  On the full-moon day of the month _Wap_ (October).

285.  Q.  _What did he tell them?_

A.  He called them together and said: "Go forth, Bhikkhus, go and
preach the law to the world.  Work for the good of others as well as
for your own....  Bear ye the glad tidings to every man.  Let no two of
you take the same way."

286.  Q.  _How long before the Christian era did this happen?_

A.  About six centuries.

287.  Q.  _What help did Kings give?_

A.  Besides the lower classes, great Kings, Rājās and
Mahārājās were converted and gave their influence to spread
the religion.

288.  Q.  _What about pilgrims?_

A.  Learned pilgrims came in different centuries to India and carried
back with them books and teachings to their native lands.  So,
gradually, whole nations forsook their own faiths and became Buddhists.

289.  Q.  _To whom, more than to any other person, is the world
indebted for the permanent establishment of Buddha's religion?_

A.  To the Emperor Ashoka, surnamed the Great, sometimes Piyadāsi,
sometimes Dharmāshoka.  He was the son of Bindusāra, King of
Magadha, arid grandson of Chandragupta, who drove the Greeks out of

290.  Q.  _When did he reign?_

A.  In the third century B.C., about two centuries after the Buddha's
time.  Historians disagree as to his exact date, but not very greatly.

291.  Q.  _What made him great?_

A.  He was the most powerful monarch in Indian history, as warrior and
as statesman; but his noblest characteristics were his love of truth
and justice, tolerance of religious differences, equity of government,
kindness to the sick, to the poor, and to animals.  His name is revered
from Siberia to Ceylon.

292.  Q.  _Was he born a Buddhist?_

A.  No, he was converted in the tenth year after his anointment as
King, by Nigrodha Samanera, an Arhat.

293.  Q.  _What did he do for Buddhism?_

A.  He drove out bad Bhikkhus, encouraged good ones, built monasteries
and dāgobas everywhere, established gardens, opened hospitals for
men and animals, convened a council at Patna to revise and re-establish
the Dharma, promoted female religious education, and sent embassies to
five Greek kings, his allies, and to all the sovereigns of India, to
preach the doctrines of the Buddha.  It was he who built the monuments
at Kapilavastu, Buddha Gāya, Isipatana and Kusinārā, our four
chief places of pilgrimage, besides thousands more.

294.  Q.  _What absolute proofs exist as to his noble character?_

A.  Within recent years there have been discovered, in all parts of
India, fourteen Edicts of his, inscribed on living rocks, and eight on
pillars erected by his orders.  They fully prove him to have been one
of the wisest and most high-minded sovereigns who ever lived.

29.5.  Q.  _What character do these inscriptions give to Buddhism?_

A.  They show it to be a religion of noble tolerance, of universal
brotherhood, of righteousness and justice.  It has no taint of
selfishness, sectarianism or intolerance.  They have done more than
anything else to win for it the respect in which it is now held by the
great pandits of western countries.

296.  Q.  _What most precious gift did Dharmāshoka make to Buddhism?_

A.  He gave his beloved son, Mahinda, and daughter, Sanghamitta, to the
Order, and sent them to Ceylon to introduce the religion.

297.  Q.  _Is this fact recorded in the history of Ceylon?_

A.  Yes, it is all recorded in the Mahāvansa, by the keepers of the
royal records, who were then living and saw the missionaries.

298.  Q.  _Is there some proof of Sanghamitta's mission still visible?_

A.  Yes; she brought with her to Ceylon a branch of the very Bodhi tree
under which the Buddha sat when he became Enlightened, and it is still

299.  Q.  _Where?_

A.  At Annrādhapura.  The history of it has been officially
preserved to the present time.  Planted in 306 B.C., it is the oldest
historical tree in the world.

300.  Q.  _Who was the reigning sovereign at that time?_

A.  Dēvanampiyatissa.  His consort, Queen Anula, had invited
Sanghamitta to come and establish the Bhikkhuni branch of the Order.

301.  Q.  _Who came with Sanghamitta?_

A.  Many other Bhikkhunis.  She, in due time, admitted the Queen and
many of her ladies, together with five hundred virgins, into the Order.

302.  Q.  _Can we trace the effects of the foreign work of the Emperor
Ashoka's missionaries?_

A.  His son and daughter introduced Buddhism into Ceylon: his monks
gave it to the whole of Northern India, to fourteen Indian nations
outside its boundaries, and to five Greek kings, his allies, with whom
he made treaties to admit his religious preachers.

303.  Q.  _Can you name them?_

A.  ANTIOCHUS of Syria, PTOLEMY of Egypt, ANTIGONUS of Macedon, MARGAS
of Cyrene, and ALEXANDER of Epiros.

 304.  Q.  _Where do we learn this?_

A.  From the Edicts themselves of Ashoka the Great, inscribed by him on
rocks and stone pillars, which are still standing and can be seen by
everybody who chooses to visit the places.

305.  Q.  _Through what western religious brotherhoods did the Buddha
Dharma mingle itself with western thought?_

A.  Through the sects of the Therapeuts of Egypt and the Essenes of

306.  Q.  _When were Buddhist books first introduced into China?_

A.  As early as the second or third century B.C.  Five of
Dharmāshoka's monks are said--in the Samanta Pasādika and the
Sārattha Dīpanī--two Pālī books--to have been sent to
the five divisions of China.

307.  Q.  _Whence and when did it reach Korea?_

A.  From China, in the year A. D. 372.

308.  Q.  _Whence and when did it reach Japan?_

A.  From Korea, in A. D. 552.

309.  Q.  _Whence and when did it reach Cochin China, Formosa, Java,
Mongolia, Yorkand, Balk, Bokhara, Afghanistan and other Central Asian

A.  Apparently in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D.

310.  Q.  _From Ceylon, whither and when did it spread?_

A.  To Burma, in A.D. 450, and thence gradually into Arakan, Kamboya
and Pegu.  In the seventh century (A.D. 638) it spread to Siam, where
it is now, as it has been always since then, the State religion.

311.  Q.  _From Kashmir, where else did it spread besides to China?_

A.  To Nepāl and Tibet.

312.  Q.  Why is it that Buddhism, which was once the prevailing
religion throughout India, is now almost extinct there?

A.  Buddhism was at first pure and noble, the very teaching of the
Tathagata; its Sangha were virtuous and observed the Precepts; it won
all hearts and spread joy through many nations, as the morning light
sends life through the flowers.  But after some centuries, bad Bhikkhus
got ordination (_Upasampada_) the Sangha became rich, lazy, and
sensual, the Dharma was corrupted, and the Indian nation abandoned it.

313.  Q.  _Did anything happen about the ninth or tenth century A.D. to
hasten its downfall?_

A.  Yes.

314.  Q.  _Anything besides the decay of spirituality, the corruption
of the Sangha, and the reaction of the populace from a higher ideal of
man to unintelligent idolatry?_

A.  Yes.  It is said that the Mussalmāns invaded, overran and
conquered large areas of India; everywhere doing their utmost to stamp
out our religion.

315.  Q.  _What cruel acts are they charged with doing?_

A.  They burnt, pulled down or otherwise destroyed our vihāras,
slaughtered our Bhikkhus, and consumed with fire our religious books.

316.  Q.  _Was our literature completely destroyed in India?_

A.  No.  Many Bhikkhus fled across the borders into Tibet and other
safe places of refuge, carrying their books with them.

317.  Q.  _Have any traces of these books been recently discovered?_

A.  Yes.  Rai Bhādur Sarat Chandra Dās, C.I.E., a noted Bengali
pandit, saw hundreds of them in the vihāra libraries of Tibet,
brought copies of some of the most important back with him, and is now
employed by the Government of India in editing and publishing them.

318.  Q.  _In which country have we reason to believe the sacred books
of primitive Buddhism have been best preserved and least corrupted?_

A.  Ceylon.  The _Encyclopaedia Britannica_ says that in this island
Buddhism has, for specified reasons, "retained almost its pristine
purity to modern times".

319.  Q.  _Has any revision of the text of the Pitakas been made in
modern times?_

A.  Yes.  A careful revision of the Vināya Pitaka was made in Ceylon
in the year A.D. 1875, by a convention of the most learned Bhikkhus,
under the presidency of H. Sumangala, Pradhāna Sthavīra.

320.  Q.  _Has there been any friendly intercourse in the interest of
Buddhism between the peoples of the Southern and those of the Northern
Buddhist countries?_

A.  In the year A.D. 1891, a successful attempt was made to get the
Pradhāna Nayakas of the two great divisions to agree to accept
fourteen propositions as embodying fundamental Buddhistic beliefs
recognised and taught by both divisions.  These propositions, drafted
by Colonel Olcott, were carefully translated into Burmese, Sinhalese
and Japanese, discussed one by one, unanimously adopted and signed by
the chief monks, and published in January 1892.

321.  Q.  _With what good result?_

A.  As the result of the good understanding now existing, a number of
Japanese bhikkhus and samaneras have been sent to Ceylon and India to
study Pālī and Samskrt.

322.  Q.  _Are there signs that the Buddha Dharma is growing in favour
in non-Buddhistic countries?_[1]

A.  There are.  Translations of our more valuable books are appearing,
many articles in reviews, magazines and newspapers are being published,
and excellent original treatises by distinguished writers are coming
from the press.  Moreover, Buddhist and non-Buddhist lecturers are
publicly discoursing on Buddhism to large audiences in western
countries.  The Shin Shu sect of Japanese Buddhists have actually
opened missions at Honolulu, San Francisco, Sacramento and other
American places.

323.  Q.  _What two leading ideas of ours are chiefly taking hold upon
the western mind?_

A.  Those of Karma and Reincarnation.  The rapidity of their acceptance
is very surprising.

324.  Q.  _What is believed to be the explanation of this?_

A.  Their appeals to the natural instinct of justice, and their evident

[1] See Appendix.



325.  Q.  _Has Buddhism any right to be considered a scientific
religion, or may it be classified as a "revealed" one?_

A.  Most emphatically it is not a revealed religion.  The Buddha did
not so preach, nor is it so understood.  On the contrary, he gave it
out as the statement of eternal truths, which his predecessors had
taught like himself.

326.  Q.  _Repeat again the name of the Sutta, in which the Buddha
tells us not to believe in an alleged revelation without testing it by
one's reason and experience?_

A.  The Kālāma Sutta, of the Anguthara Nikāya.

327.  Q.  _Do Buddhists accept the theory that everything has been
formed out of nothing by a Creator?_

A.  The Buddha taught that two things are causeless, _viz._,
Ākāsha, and Nirvāna.  Everything has come ont of Ākāsha,
in obedience to a law of motion inherent in it, and, after a certain
existence, passes away.  Nothing ever came out of nothing.  We do not
believe in miracles; hence we deny creation, and cannot conceive of a
creation of something out of nothing.  Nothing organic is eternal.
Everything is in a state of constant flux, and undergoing change and
reformation, keeping up the continuity according to the law of

328.  Q.  _Is Buddhism opposed to education, and to the study of

A.  Quite the contrary: in the _Sigālowāda Sutta_ in a discourse
preached by the Buddha, He specified as one of the duties of a teacher
that he should give his pupils "instruction in science and lore".  The
Buddha's higher teachings are for the enlightened, the wise, and the

329.  Q.  _Can you show any further endorsement of Buddhism by science?_

A.  The Buddha's doctrine teaches that there were many progenitors of
the human race; also that there is a principle of differentiation among
men; certain individuals have a greater capacity for the rapid
attainment of Wisdom and arrival at Nirvāna than others.

330.  Q.  _Any other?_

A.  Buddhism supports the teaching of the indestructibility of force.

331.  Q.  _Should Buddhism be called a chart of science or a code of

A.  Properly speaking, a pure moral philosophy, a system of ethics and
transcendental metaphysics.  It is so eminently practical that the
Buddha kept silent when Malunka asked about the origin of things.

332.  Q.  _Why did he do that?_

A.  Because he thought that our chief aim should be to see things as
they exist around us and try to make them better, not to waste time in
intellectual speculations.

333.  Q.  _What do Buddhists say is the reason for the occasional birth
of very good and wise children of bad parents, and that of very bad
ones of good parents?_

A.  It is because of the respective Karmas of children and parents;
each may have deserved that such unusual relationships should be formed
in the present birth.

334.  Q.  _Is anything said about the body of the Buddha giving out a
bright light?_

A.  Yes, there was a divine radiance sent forth from within by the
power of his holiness.

335.  Q.  _What is it called in Pālī?_

A.  Buddharansi, the Buddha rays.

336.  Q.  _How many colours could be seen in it?_

A.  Six, linked in pairs.

337.  Q.  _Their names?_

A.  Nīla, Pita, Lohita, Avadata, Mangastā, Prabhasvra.

338.  Q.  _Did other persons emit such shining light?_

A.  Yes, all Arhats did and, in fact, the light shines stronger and
brighter in proportion to the spiritual development of the person.

339.  Q.  _Where do we see these colours represented?_

A.  In all vihāras where there are painted images of the Buddha.
They are also seen in the stripes of the Buddhist Flag, first made in
Ceylon but now widely adopted throughout Buddhist countries.

340.  Q.  _In which discourse does the Buddha himself speak of this
shining about him?_

A.  In the _Mahā-Parinibbana Suttā_, Ānanda his favourite
disciple, noticing the great splendour which  came  from  his  Master's
body, the Buddha said that on two occasions this extraordinary shining
occurs, (_a_) just after a Tathāgatā gains the supreme insight,
and (_b_) on the night when he passes finally away.

341.  Q.  _Where do we read of this great brightness being emitted from
the body of another Buddha?_

A.  In the story of Sumedha and Dipānkāra Buddha, found in the
_Nidānakathā_ of the _Jātaka_ book, or story of the
reincarnations of the Bodhisattva Siddhārtha Gautama.

342.  Q.  _How is it described?_

A.  As a halo of a fathom's depth.

343.  Q.  _What do the Hindus call it?_

A.  _Tejas_; its extended radiance they call Prākāsha.

344.  Q.  _What do Europeans call it now?_

A.  The human aura.

345.  Q.  _What great scientist has proved the existence of this aura
by carefully conducted experiments?_

A.  The Baron Von Reichenbach.  His experiments are fully described in
his _Researches_, published in 1844-5.  Dr. Baraduc, of Paris, has,
quite recently, photographed this light.

346.  Q.  _Is this bright aura a miracle or a natural phenomenon?_

A.  Natural.  It has been proved that not only all human beings but
animals, trees, plants and even stones have it.

347.  Q.  _What peculiarity has it in the case of a Buddha or an Arhat?_

A.  It is immensely brighter and more extended than in cases of other
beings and objects.  It is the evidence of their superior development
in the power of _Iddhī_.  The light has been seen coming from
dāgobas in Ceylon where relics of the Buddha are said to be

348.  Q.  _Do people of other religions besides Buddhism and
Hindūism also believe in this light?_

A.  Yes, in all pictures of Christian artists this light is represented
as shining about the bodies of their holy personages.  The same belief
is found to have existed in other religions.

349.  Q.  _What historical incident supports the modern theory of
hypnotic suggestion?_

A.  That of Chullapanthaka, as told in the Pālī Commentary on the
_Dhammapada_, etc.

350.  Q.  _Give me the facts._

A.  He was a bhikkhu who became an Arhat.  On that very day the Buddha
sent a messenger to call him.  When the man reached the Vihāra, he
saw three hundred bhikkhus in one group, each exactly like the others
in every respect.  On his asking which was Chullapanthaka, every one of
the three hundred figures replied: "I am Chullapanthaka."

351.  Q.  _What did the messenger do?_

A.  In his confusion he returned and reported to the Buddha.

352.  Q.  _What did the Buddha then tell him?_

A.  To return to the vihāra and, if the same thing happened, to
catch by the arm the _first_ figure who said he was Chullapanthaka and
lead him to him.  The Buddha knew that the new Arhat would make this
display of his acquired power to impress illusionary pictures of
himself upon the messenger.

353.  Q.  _What is this power of illusion called in Pālī?_

A.  _Manomaya Iddhī_.

354.  Q.  _Were the illusionary copies of the Arhat's person material?
Were they composed of substance and could they have been felt and
handled by the messenger?_

A.  No; they were pictures impressed by his thought and trained
will-power upon the messenger's mind.

355.  Q.  _To what would you compare them?_

A.  To a man's reflection in a mirror, being exactly like him yet
without solidity.

356.  Q.  _To make such an illusion on the messenger's mind, what was

A.  That Chullapanthaka should clearly conceive in his own mind his
exact appearance, and then impress that, with as many duplicates or
repetitions as he chose, upon the sensitive brain of the messenger.

357.  Q.  _What is this process now called?_

A.  Hypnotic suggestion.

358.  Q.  _Could any third party have also seen these illusionary

A.  That would depend on the will of the Arhat or hypnotiser.

359.  Q.  _What do you mean?_

A.  Supposing that fifty or five hundred persons were there, instead of
one, the Arhat could will that the illusion should be seen by all
alike; or, if he chose, he could will that the messenger should be the
only one to see them.

360.  Q.  _Is this branch of science well known in our day?_

A.  Very well known; it is familiar to all students of mesmerism and

361.  Q.  _In what does our modern scientific belief support the theory
of Karma, as taught in Buddhism?_

A.  Modern scientists teach that every generation of men is heir to the
consequences of the virtues and the vices of the preceding generation,
not in the mass, as such, but in every individual case.  Every one of
us, according to Buddhism, gets a birth which represents the causes
generated by him in an antecedent birth.  This is the idea of Karma.

362.  Q.  _What say the Vāsettha Sutta about the causation in

A.  It says: "The world exists by cause; all things exist by cause, all
beings are bound by cause."

363.  Q.  _Does Buddhism teach the unchangeableness of the visible
universe; our earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, the mineral,
vegetable, animal and human kingdoms?_

A.  No.  It teaches that all are constantly changing, and all must
disappear in course of time.

364.  Q.  _Never to reappear?_

A.  Not so: the principle of evolution, guided by Karma, individual and
collective, will evolve another universe with its contents, as our
universe was evolved out of the Ākāsha.

365.  Q.  _Does Buddhism admit that man has in his nature any latent
powers for the production of phenomena commonly called "miracles"?_

A.  Yes; but they are natural, not supernatural.  They may be developed
by a certain system which is laid down in our sacred books, the
Visuddhi Mārga for instance.

366.  Q.  _What is this branch of science called?_

A.  The Pālī name is Iddhi-vidhanānā.

367.  Q.  _How many kinds are there?_

A.  Two:  _Bāhira_, _i.e._, one in which the phenomena-working power
may be temporarily obtained by ascetic practices and also by resort to
drugs, the recitation of _mantras_ (charms), or other extraneous aids;
and _Sasaniks_, that in which the power in question is acquired by
interior self-development, and covers all and more than the phenomena
of _Laukika Iddhī_.

368.  Q.  _What class of men enjoy these powers?_

A.  They gradually develop in one which pursues a certain course of
ascetic practice called _Dhyāna_.

369.  Q.  Can this Iddhi power be lost?[1]

A.  The _Bāhira_ can be lost, but the _Sasanika_ never, when once
acquired.  _Lokottara_ knowledge once obtained is never lost, and it is
by this knowledge _only_ that the absolute condition of Nirvāna is
known by the Arhat.  And this knowledge can be got by following the
noble life of the Eightfold Path.

370.  Q.  _Had Buddha the Lokottara Iddhī?_

A.  Yes, in perfection.

371.  Q.  _And his disciples also had it?_

A.  Yes, some but not all equally; the capacity for acquiring these
occult powers varies with the individual.

372.  Q.  _Give examples?_

A.  Of all the disciples of the Buddha, Mogallāna was possessed of
the most extraordinary powers for making phenomena, while Ānanda
could develop none during the twenty-five years in which he was the
personal and intimate disciple of the Buddha himself.  Later he did, as
the Buddha had foretold he would.

373.  Q.  _Does a man acquire these powers suddenly or gradually?_

A.  Normally, they gradually develop themselves as the disciple
progressively gains control over his lower nature in a series of

374.  Q.  _Does Buddhism pretend that the miracle of raising those who
are dead is possible?_

A.  No.  The Buddha teaches the contrary, in that beautiful story of
Kisā Gotami and the mustard-seed.  But when a person only seems to
be dead but is not actually so, resuscitation is possible.

375.  Q.  _Give me an idea of these successive stages of the Lokottara
development in Iddhī?_

A.  There are six degrees attainable by Arhats; what is higher than
them is to be reached only by a Buddha.

376.  Q.  _Describe the six stages or degrees?_

A.  We may divide them into two groups, of three each.  The first to
include (1) Progressive retrospection, _viz._, a gradually acquired
power to look backward in time towards the origin of things; (2)
Progressive foresight, or power of prophecy; (3) Gradual extinction of
desires and attachments to material things.

377.  Q.  _What would the second group include?_

A.  The same faculties, but inimitably developed.  Thus, the full Arhat
possesses perfect retrospection, perfect foresight, and has absolutely
extinguished the last trace of desire and selfish attractions.

378.  Q.  _What are the four means for obtaining Iddhī?_

A.  The will, its exertion, mental development, and discrimination
between right and wrong.

379.  Q.  _Our Scriptures relate hundreds of instances of phenomena
produced by Arhats: what did you say was the name of this faculty or

A.  _Iddhī vidha_.  One possessing this can, by manipulating the
forces of Nature, produce any wonderful phenomenon, _i.e._, make any
scientific experiment he chooses.

380.  Q.  _Did the Buddha encourage displays of phenomena?_

A.  No; he expressly discouraged them as tending to create confusion in
the minds of those who were not acquainted with the principles
involved.  They also tempt their possessors to show them merely to
gratify idle curiosity and their own vanity.  Moreover, similar
phenomena can be shown by magicians and sorcerers learned in the
_Laukika_, or the baser form of _Iddhī_ science.  All false
pretensions to supernatural attainment by monks are among the
unpardonable sins (_Tevijja Sutta_).

381.  Q.  _You spoke of a "deva" having appeared to the Prince
Siddhārtha under a variety of forms; what do Buddhists believe
respecting races of elemental invisible beings having relations with

A.  They believe that there are such beings who inhabit worlds or
spheres of their own.  The Buddhist doctrine is that, by interior
self-development and conquest over his baser nature, the Arhat becomes
superior to even the most formidable of the devas, and may subject and
control the lower orders.

382.  Q.  _How many kinds of devas are there?_

A.  Three: _Kāmāvācharā_ (those who are still under the
domination of the passions); _Rūpāvācharā_ (a higher class,
which still retain an individual form): _Arāpāvācharā_ (the
highest in degree of purification, who are devoid of material forms).

383.  Q.  _Should we fear any of them?_

A.  He who is pure and compassionate in heart and of a courageous mind
need fear nothing: no man, god, _brahmarakkhas_, demon or deva, can
injure him, but some have power to torment the impure, as well as those
who invite their approach.

[1] Sumangala Sthavīra explains to me that those transcendent powers
are permanently possessed only by one who has subdued all the passions
(_Klesa_), in other words, an Arhat.  The powers may be developed by a
bad man and used for doing evil things, but their activity is but
brief, the rebellious passions again dominate the sorcerer, and he
becomes at last their victim.

[2] When the powers suddenly show themselves, the inference is that the
individual had developed himself in the next anterior birth.  We do not
believe in eccentric breaks in natural law.


The following text of the fourteen items of belief which have been
accepted as fundamental principles in both the Southern and Northern
sections of Buddhism, by authoritative committees to whom they were
submitted by me personally, have so much historical importance that
they are added to the present edition of THE BUDDHIST CATECHISM as an
Appendix.  It has very recently been reported to me by H. E. Prince
Ouchtomsky, the learned Russian Orientalist, that having had the
document translated to them, the Chief Lamas of the great Mongolian
Buddhist monasteries declared to him that they accept every one of the
propositions as drafted, with the one exception that the date of the
Buddha is by them believed to have been some thousands of years earlier
than the one given by me.  This surprising fact had not hitherto come
to my knowledge.  Can it be that the Mongolian Sangha confuse the real
epoch of Sākya Muni with that of his alleged next predecessor?  Be
this as it may, it is a most encouraging fact that the whole Buddhistic
world may now be said to have united to the extent at least of these
Fourteen Propositions.

H. S. O.


I  Buddhists are taught to show the same tolerance, forbearance, and
brotherly love to all men, without distinction; and an unswerving
kindness towards the members of the animal kingdom.

II  The universe was evolved, not created; and its functions according
to law, not according to the caprice of any God.

III  The truths upon which Buddhism is founded are natural.  They have,
we believe, been taught in successive kalpas, or world-periods, by
certain illuminated beings called BUDDHAS, the name BUDDHA meaning

IV  The fourth Teacher in the present kalpa was Sākya Muni, or
Gautama Buddha, who was born in a Royal family in India about 2,500
years ago.  He is an historical personage and his name was
Siddhārtha Gautama.

V  Sākya Muni taught that ignorance produces desire, unsatisfied
desire is the cause of rebirth, and rebirth, the cause of sorrow.  To
get rid of sorrow, therefore, it is necessary to escape rebirth; to
escape rebirth, it is necessary to extinguish desire; and to extinguish
desire, it is necessary to destroy ignorance.

VI  Ignorance fosters the belief that rebirth is a necessary thing.
When ignorance is destroyed the worthlessness of every such rebirth,
considered as an end in itself, is perceived, as well as the paramount
need of adopting a course of life by which the necessity for such
repeated rebirths can be abolished.  Ignorance also begets the illusive
and illogical idea that there is only one existence for man, and the
other illusion that this one life is followed by states of unchangeable
pleasure or torment.

VII  The dispersion of all this ignorance can be attained by the
persevering practice of an all-embracing altruism in conduct,
development of intelligence, wisdom in thought, and destruction of
desire for the lower personal pleasures.

VIII  The desire to live being the cause of rebirth, when that is
extinguished rebirths cease and the perfected individual attains by
meditation that highest state of peace called _Nirvāna_.

IX  Sākya Muni taught that ignorance can be dispelled and sorrow
removed by the knowledge of the four Noble Truths, _viz._:

1. The miseries of existence;

2. The cause productive of misery, which is the desire ever renewed of
satisfying oneself without being able ever to secure that end;

3. The destruction of that desire, or the estranging of oneself from it;

4. The means of obtaining this destruction of desire.  The means which
he pointed out is called the Noble Eightfold Path, _viz._: Right
Belief; Right Thought; Right Speech; Right Action; Right Means of
Livelihood; Right Exertion; Right Remembrance; Right Meditation.

X  Right Meditation leads to spiritual enlightenment, or the
development of that Buddha-like faculty which is latent in every man.

XI  The essence of Buddhism, as summed up by the Tathāgathā
(Buddha) himself, as:

  To cease from all sin,
  To get virtue,
  To purify the heart.

XII  The universe is subject to a natural causation known as "Karma".
The merits and demerits of a being in past existences determine his
condition in the present one.  Each man, therefore, has prepared the
causes of the effects which he now experiences.

XIII  The obstacles to the attainment of good karma may be removed by
the observance of the following precepts, which are embraced in the
moral code of Buddhism, _viz._: (1) Kill not; (2) Steal not; (3)
Indulge in no forbidden sexual pleasure; (4) Lie not; (5) Take no
intoxication or stupefying drug or liquor.  Five other precepts which
need not be here enumerated should be observed by those who would
attain, more quickly than the average layman, the release from misery
and rebirth.

XIV  Buddhism discourages superstitious credulity.  Gautama Buddha
taught it to be the duty of a parent to have his child educated in
science and literature.  He also taught that no one should believe what
is spoken by any sage, written in any book, or affirmed by tradition,
unless it accord with reason.

Drafted as a common platform upon which all Buddhists can agree.


Respectfully submitted for the approval of the High Priests of the
nations which we severally represent, in the Buddhist Conference held
at Adyar, Madras, on the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th of January,
1891 (A.B. 2434).

  Japan  . . . . . ( Kozen Gunaratana
                   ( Chiezo Tokuzawa
  Burmah . . . . .   U. Hmoay Tha Aung
  Ceylon . . . . .   Dhammapala Hevavitarana.
  The Maghs of
  Chittagong . . .   Krshna Chandra Chowdry, by
                     his appointed Proxy, Maung
                     Tha Dwe.


Approved on behalf of the Buddhists of Burmah, this 3rd day of
February, 1891 (A. B. 2434):

Tha-tha-na-baing Saydawgyi; Aung Myi Shwebōn Sayadaw; Me-ga-waddy
Sayadaw; Hmat-Khaya Sayadaw; Hti-lin Sayadaw; Myadaung Sayadaw;
Hla-Htwe Sayadaw; and sixteen others.


Approved on behalf of the Buddhists of Ceylon this 25th day of
February, 1891 (A.B. 2434); Mahannwara upawsatha puspārāma
vihārādhipati Hippola Dhamma Rakkhita Sobhitābhidhāna
Mahā Nāyaka Sthavirayan wahanse wamha.

(Hippola Dhamma Rakkhita Sabhitābhidhana, High Priest of the
Malwatta Vihare at Kandy).

                                          (Sd.) HIPPOLA.

Mahanuwara Asgiri vihārādhipati Yatawattē
Chandajottyābhidhana Mahā Nāyaka Sthavirayan wahanse
wamha--(Yatawattē Chandajottyābhidhana, High Priest of Asgiri
Tihare at Kandy).

                                          (Sd.) YATAWATTE

Hikkaduwe Srī Sumangala Sripādasthāne saha Kolamba palate
pradhāna Nāyaka Sthavirayo (Hikkaduwe Srī Sumangala, High
Priest of Adam's Peak and the District of Colombo).

                                          (Sd.) H. SUMANGALA

Maligawe Prāchina Pustakālāyadhyakshaka Surīyagoda
Sonuttara Sthavirayo (Suriyagoda Sonuttara, Librarian of the Oriental
Library at the Temple of the Tooth Relic at Kandy).

                                          (Sd.) S. SONUTTARA

Sugata Sāsanadhaja Vinayā chāriya
Dhammalankārābhidhāna Nāyaka Sthavira.

                                          (Sd.) W. DHAMMALANKARA

Pawara neruttika chariya Mahā Vibhavi Subhuti of Waskaduwa.

                                          (Sd.) W. SUBHUTI


Accepted as included within the body of Northern Buddhism.

  Shaku Genyu        (Shingon    Shu)
  Fukuda Nichiyo     (Nichiren    " )
  Sanada Seyko       (Zen         " )
  Ito Quan Shyu      ( "          " )
  Takehana Hakuyo    (Jodo        " )
  Kono Rioshin       (Ji-Shu      " )
  Kiro Ki-ko         (Jodo Seizan " )
  Harutani Shinsho   (Tendai      " )
  Manabe Shun-myo    (Shingon     " )


Accepted for the Buddhists of Chittagong.

  Nagawa Parvata Vihāarādhipati
  Guna Megu Wini-Lankara,
  Harbing, Chittagong, Bengal.


The Buddhist Catechism has been compiled from personal studies in
Ceylon, and in part from the following works:

  _Vinaya Texts_ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Davids and Oldenberg.
  _Buddhist Literature in China_ . . . . . . Beal.
  _Catena of Buddhist Scriptures_  . . . . . Do.
  _Buddhaghosa's Parables_ . . . . . . . . . Rogers.
  _Buddhist Birth Stories_ . . . . . . . . . Fausboll and Davids.
  _Legend of Gautama_  . . . . . . . . . . . Bigandet.
  _Chinese Buddhism_ . . . . . . . . . . . . Edkins.
  _Kalpa Sutra and Nava Patva_ . . . . . . . Stevenson.
  _Buddha and Early Buddhism_  . . . . . . . Lillie.
  _Sutta Nipāta_  . . . . . . . . . . . . Sir Coomara Swami.
  _Nāgananda_ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Broyd.
  _Kusa Jataka_  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Steele.
  _Buddhism_ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rhys-Davids.
  _Dhammapada_ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fausboll and Max Müller.

  _Romantic History of Buddha_ . . . . . . . Beal.
  _Udānavarga_  . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rockhill.
  _Twelve Japanese Buddhist Sects_ . . . . . B. Nanjio.
  _The Gospel of Buddha_ . . . . . . . . . . Paul Carus.
  _The Dharma_ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Do.
  _Ancient India_  . . . . . . . . . . . . . R. C. Dutt.
  _The "Sacred Books of the East" Series_  . Max Müller's Edition.
  _Encyclopædia Britannica_

    Printed by
   Annie Besant
  Vasanta Press
  Adyar Madras

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