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Title: Buddhism, In its Connexion With Brahmanism and Hinduism, and In Its Contrast with Christianity
Author: Monier-Williams, Sir Monier
Language: English
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   He is seated on the Mućalinda Serpent (see p. 480), in an attitude
  of profound meditation, with eyes half closed, and five rays of light
                  emerging from the crown of his head.

                          IN ITS CONTRAST WITH

                 SIR MONIER MONIER-WILLIAMS, K.C.I.E.,
                      BODEN PROFESSOR OF SANSKṚIT,

[Illustration: ]

                               NEW YORK:
                           MACMILLAN AND CO.

                        [_All rights reserved._]


The ‘Duff Lectures’ for 1888 were delivered by me at Edinburgh in the
month of March. In introducing my subject, I spoke to the following

‘I wish to express my deep sense of the responsibility which the writing
of these Lectures has laid upon me, and my earnest desire that they may,
by their usefulness, prove in some degree worthy of the great missionary
whose name they bear.

‘Dr. Duff was a man of power, who left his own foot-print so deeply
impressed on the soil of Bengal, that its traces are never likely to be
effaced, and still serve to encourage less ardent spirits, who are
striving to imitate his example in the same field of labour.

‘But not only is the impress of his vigorous personality still fresh in
Bengal. He has earned an enduring reputation throughout India and the
United Kingdom, as the prince of educational missionaries. He was in all
that he undertook an enthusiastic and indefatigable workman, of whom, if
of any human being, it might be truly said, that, when called upon to
quit the sphere of his labours, “he needed not to be ashamed.” No one
can have travelled much in India without having observed how wonderfully
the results of his indomitable energy and fervid eloquence in the cause
of Truth wait on the memory of his work everywhere. Monuments may be
erected and lectureships founded to perpetuate his name and testify to
his victories over difficulties which few other men could have overcome,
but better than these will be the living testimony of successive
generations of Hindū men and women, whose growth and progress in true
enlightenment will be due to the seed which he planted, and to which God
has given the increase.’

I said a few more words expressive of my hope that the ‘Life of Dr.
Duff’[1] would be read and pondered by every student destined for work
of any kind in our Indian empire, and to that biography I refer all who
are unacquainted with the particulars of the labours of a man to whom
Scotland has assigned a place in the foremost rank of her most eminent

I now proceed to explain the process by which these Lectures have
gradually outgrown the limits required by the Duff Trustees.

When I addressed myself to the carrying out of their wishes—communicated
to me by Mr. W. Pirie Duff—I had no intention of undertaking more than a
concise account of a subject which I had been studying for many years. I
conceived it possible to compress into six Lectures a scholarly sketch
of what may be called true Buddhism,—that is, the Buddhism of the
Piṭakas or Pāli texts which are now being edited by the Pāli Text
Society, and some of which have been translated in the ‘Sacred Books of
the East.’ It soon, however, became apparent to me that to write an
account of Buddhism which would be worthy of the great Indian
missionary, I ought to exhibit it in its connexion with Brāhmanism and
Hindūism and even with Jainism, and in its contrast with Christianity.
Then, as I proceeded, I began to feel that to do justice to my subject I
should be compelled to enlarge the range of my researches, so as to
embrace some of the later phases and modern developments of Buddhism.
This led me to undertake a more careful study of Koeppen’s Lamaismus
than I had before thought necessary. Furthermore, I felt it my duty to
study attentively numerous treatises on Northern Buddhism, which I had
before read in a cursory manner. I even thought it incumbent on me to
look a little into the Tibetan language, of which I was before wholly

I need scarcely explain further the process of expansion through which
the present work has passed. A conviction took possession of my mind,
that any endeavour to give even an outline of the whole subject of
Buddhism in six Lectures, would be rather like the effort of a foolish
man trying to paint a panorama of London on a sheet of note-paper. Hence
the expansion of six Lectures into eighteen, and it will be seen at once
that many of these eighteen are far too long to have been delivered _in
extenso_. In point of fact, by an arrangement with the Trustees, only a
certain portion of any Lecture was delivered orally. The present work is
rather a treatise on Buddhism printed and published in memory of Dr.

I need not encumber the Preface with a re-statement of the reasons which
have made the elucidation of an intricate subject almost hopelessly
difficult. They have been stated in the Introductory Lecture (pp. 13,

Moreover the plan of the present volume has been there set forth (see p.

I may possibly be asked by weary readers why I have ventured to add
another tributary to the too swollen stream of treatises on Buddhism? or
some may employ another metaphor and inquire why I have troubled myself
to toil and plod over a path already well travelled over and trodden
down? My reply is that I think I can claim for my own work an
individuality which separates it from that of others—an individuality
which may probably commend it to thoughtful students of Buddhism as
helping to clear a thorny road, and introduce some little order and
coherence into the chaotic confusion of Buddhistic ideas.

At any rate I request permission to draw attention to the following
points, which, I think, may invest my researches with a distinctive
character of their own.

In the first place I have been able to avail myself of the latest
publications of the Pāli Text Society, and to consult many recent works
which previous writers on Buddhism have not had at their command.

Secondly, I have striven to combine scientific accuracy with a popular
exposition sufficiently readable to satisfy the wants of the cultured
English-speaking world—a world crowded with intelligent readers who take
an increasing interest in Buddhism, and yet know nothing of Sanskṛit,
Pāli, and Tibetan.

Thirdly, I have aimed at effecting what no other English Orientalist
has, to my knowledge, ever accomplished. I have endeavoured to deal with
a complex subject as a whole, and to present in one volume a
comprehensive survey of the entire range of Buddhism, from its earliest
origin in India to its latest modern developments in other Asiatic

Fourthly, I have brought to the study of Buddhism and its sacred
language Pāli, a life-long preparatory study of Brāhmanism and its
sacred language Sanskṛit.

Fifthly, I have on three occasions travelled through the sacred land of
Buddhism (p. 21), and have carried on my investigations personally in
the place of its origin, as well as in Ceylon and on the borders of

Lastly, I have depicted Buddhism from the standpoint of a believer in
Christianity, who has shown, by his other works on Eastern religions, an
earnest desire to give them credit for all the good they contain.

In regard to this last point, I shall probably be told by some
enthusiastic admirers of Buddhism, that my prepossessions and
predilections—inherited with my Christianity—have, in spite of my desire
to be just, distorted my view of a system with which I have no sympathy.
To this I can only reply, that my consciousness of my own prepossessions
has made me the more sensitively anxious to exhibit Buddhism under its
best aspects, as well as under its worst. An attentive perusal of my
last Lecture (see p. 537) will, I hope, make it evident that I have at
least done everything in my power to dismiss all prejudice from my mind,
and to assume and maintain the attitude of an impartial judge. And to
this end I have taken nothing on trust, or at second hand. I have
studied Pāli, as I have the other Indian Prākṛits, on my own account,
and independently. I have not accepted unreservedly any man’s
interpretation of the original Buddhist texts, and have endeavoured to
verify for myself all doubtful statements and translations which occur
in existing treatises. Of course I owe much to modern Pāli scholars, and
writers on Buddhism, and to the translators of the ‘Sacred Books of the
East;’ but I have frequently felt compelled to form an independent
opinion of my own.

The translations given in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’—good as they
generally are—have seemed to me occasionally misleading. I may mention
as an instance the constant employment by the translators of the word
‘Ordination’ for the ceremonies of admission to the Buddhist monkhood
(see pp. 76-80 of the present volume). I have ventured in such instances
to give what has appeared to me a more suitable equivalent for the Pāli.
On the same principle I have avoided all needless employment of
Christian terminology and Bible-language to express Buddhist ideas.

For example, I have in most cases excluded such words as ‘sin,’
‘holiness,’ ‘faith’, ‘trinity,’ ‘priest’ from my explanations of the
Buddhist creed, as wholly unsuitable.

I regret that want of space has compelled me to curtail my observations
on Jainism—the present representative of Buddhistic doctrines in India
(see p. 529.) I hope to enter more fully on this subject hereafter.

The names of authors to whom students of Buddhism are indebted are given
in my first Lecture (pp. 14, 15). We all owe much to Childers. My own
thanks are specially due to General Sir Alexander Cunningham, to
Professor E. B. Cowell of Cambridge, Professor Rhys Davids, Dr.
Oldenberg, Dr. Rost, Dr. Morris, Dr. Wenzel, who have aided me with
their opinions, whenever I have thought it right to consult them. Dr.
Rost, C.I.E., of the India Office, is also entitled to my warmest
acknowledgments for having placed at my disposal various subsidiary
works bearing on Buddhism, some of which belong to his own Library.

My obligations to Mr. Hoey’s translation of Dr. Oldenberg’s ‘Buddha,’ to
the translations of the travels of the Chinese pilgrims by Professor
Legge, Mr. Beal, M. Abel Rémusat, and M. Stanislas Julien, to M. Huc’s
travels, and to Mr. Scott’s ‘Burman,’ will be evident, and have been
generally acknowledged in my notes. I am particularly grateful to Mr.
Sarat Chandra Dās, C.I.E., for the information contained in his Report
and for the instruction which I received from him personally while
prosecuting my inquiries at Dārjīling.

I have felt compelled to abbreviate nearly all my quotations, and
therefore occasionally to alter the phraseology. Hence I have thought it
right to mark them by a different type without inverted commas.

With regard to transliteration I must refer the student to the rules for
pronunciation given at p. xxxi. They conform to the rules given in my
Sanskṛit Grammar and Dictionary. Like Dr. Oldenberg, I have preferred to
substitute Sanskṛit terminations in _a_ for the Pāli _o_. In Tibetan I
have constantly consulted Jäschke, but have not followed his system of

In conclusion, I may fitly draw attention to the engravings of objects,
some of which were brought by myself from Buddhist countries. They are
described in the list of illustrations (see p. xxix), and will, I trust,
give value to the present volume. It has seemed to me a duty to make use
of every available appliance for throwing light on the obscurities of a
difficult subject; and, as these Lectures embrace the whole range of
Buddhism, I have adopted as a frontispiece a portrait of Buddha which
exhibits Buddhism in its receptivity and in its readiness to adopt
serpent-worship, or any other superstition of the races which it strove
to convert. On the other hand, the Wheel, with the Tri-ratna and the
Lotus (pp. 521, 522), is engraved on the title-page as the best
representative symbol of early Buddhism. It is taken from a Buddhist
sculpture at Amarāvatī engraved for Mr. Fergusson’s ‘Tree and
Serpent-worship’ (p. 237).

The portrait which faces page 74 is well worthy of attention as
illustrating the connexion[2] between Buddhism and Brāhmanism. It is
from a recently-taken photograph of Mr. Gaurī-Ṡaṅkar Uday-Ṡaṅkar,
C.S.I.—a well-known and distinguished Brāhman of Bhaunagar—who (with Mr.
Percival) administered the State during the minority of the present
enlightened Mahā-rāja. Like the Buddha of old, he has renounced the
world—that is, he has become a Sannyāsī, and is chiefly engaged in
meditation. He has consequently dropped the title C.S.I., and taken the
religious title—Svāmī Ṡrī Saććidānanda-Sarasvatī. His son, Mr.
Vijay-Ṡaṅkar Gaurī-Ṡaṅkar, kindly sent me the photograph, and with his
permission I have had it engraved.

It will be easily understood that, as a great portion of the following
pages had to be delivered in the form of Lectures, occasional
repetitions and recapitulations were unavoidable, but I trust I shall
not be amenable to the charge of repeating anything for the sake of
‘padding.’ I shall, with more justice, be accused of ‘cramming,’ in the
sense of attempting to force too much information into a single volume.

                                                      _January 1, 1889._


Since writing the foregoing prefatory remarks, I have observed with much
concern that a prevalent error, in regard to Buddhism, is still
persistently propagated. It is categorically stated in a newspaper
report of a quite recent lecture, that out of the world’s population of
about 1500 millions at least 500 millions are Buddhists, and that
Buddhism numbers more adherents than any other religion on the surface
of the globe.

Almost every European writer on Buddhism, of late years, has assisted in
giving currency to this utterly erroneous calculation, and it is high
time that an attempt should be made to dissipate a serious

It is forgotten that mere sympathizers with Buddhism, who occasionally
conform to Buddhistic practices, are not true Buddhists. In China the
great majority are first of all Confucianists and then either Tāoists or
Buddhists or both. In Japan Confucianism and Shintoism co-exist with
Buddhism. In some other Buddhist countries a kind of Shamanism is
practically dominant. The best authorities (including the Oxford
Professor of Chinese, as stated in the Introduction to his excellent
work ‘The Travels of Fā-hien’) are of opinion that there are not more
than 100 millions of real Buddhists in the world, and that Christianity
with its 430 to 450 millions of adherents has now the numerical
preponderance over all other religions. I am entirely of the same
opinion. I hold that the Buddhism, described in the following pages,
contained within itself, from the earliest times, the germs of disease,
decay, and death (see p. 557), and that its present condition is one of
rapidly increasing disintegration and decline.

We must not forget that Buddhism has disappeared from India proper,
although it dominates in Ceylon and Burma, and although a few Buddhist
travellers find their way back to the land of its origin and sojourn

Indeed, if I were called upon to give a rough comparative numerical
estimate of the six chief religious systems of the world, I should be
inclined, on the whole, to regard Confucianism as constituting, next to
Christianity, the most numerically prevalent creed. We have to bear in
mind the immense populations, both in China and Japan, whose chief creed
is Confucianism.

Professor Legge informs me that Dr. Happer—an American Presbyterian
Missionary of about 45 years standing, who has gone carefully into the
statistics of Buddhism—reckons only 20 millions of Buddhists in China,
and not more than 72½ millions in the whole of Asia. Dr. Happer states
that, if the Chinese were required to class themselves as Confucianists
or Buddhists or Tāoists, 19/20ths, if not 99/100ths, of them would, in
his opinion, claim to be designated as Confucianists.

In all probability his estimate of the number of Buddhists in China is
too low, but the Chinese ambassador Liū, with whom Professor Legge once
had a conversation on this subject, ridiculed the view that they were as
numerous as the Confucianists.

Undeniably, as it seems to me, the next place after Christianity and
Confucianism should be given to Brāhmanism and Hindūism, which are not
really two systems but practically one; the latter being merely an
expansion of the former, modified by contact with Buddhism.

Brāhmanism, as I have elsewhere shown, is nothing but spiritual
Pantheism; that is, a belief in the universal diffusion of an impersonal
Spirit (called Brăhmăn or Brăhmă)—as the only really existing
Essence—and in its manifesting itself in Mind and in countless material
forces and forms, including gods, demons, men, and animals, which, after
fulfilling their course, must ultimately be re-absorbed into the one
impersonal Essence and be again evolved in endless evolution and

Hindūism, with its worship of Vishṇu and Ṡiva, is based on this
pantheistic doctrine, but the majority of the Hindūs are merely
observers of Brāhmanical institutions with their accompanying Hindū
caste usages. If, however, we employ the term Hindū in its widest
acceptation (omitting only all Islāmized Hindūs) we may safely affirm
that the adherents of Hindūism have reached an aggregate of nearly 200
millions. In the opinion of Sir William Wilson Hunter, they are still
rapidly increasing, both by excess of births over deaths and by
accretions from more backward systems of belief.

Probably Buddhism has a right to the fourth place in the scale of
numerical comparison. At any rate the number of Buddhists can scarcely
be calculated at less than 100 millions.

In regard to Muhammadanism, this creed should not, I think, be placed
higher than fifth in the enumeration. In its purest form it ought to be
called Islām, and in that form it is a mere distorted copy of Judaism.

The Empress of India, as is well known, rules over more Muhammadans than
any other potentate in the world. Probably the Musalmān population of
the whole of India now numbers 55 millions.

As to the number of Muhammadans in the Turkish empire, there are no very
trustworthy data to guide us, but the aggregate is believed to be about
14 millions; while Africa can scarcely reckon more than that number,
even if Egypt be included.

The sixth system, Tāoism (the system of Lāo-tsze), according to
Professor Legge, should rank numerically after both Muhammadanism and

Of course Jainism (p. 529) and Zoroastrianism (the religion of the
Pārsīs) are too numerically insignificant to occupy places in the above

It is possible that a careful census might result in a more favourable
estimate of the number of Buddhists in the world, than I have here
submitted; but at all events it may safely be alleged that, even as a
form of popular religion, Buddhism is gradually losing its
vitality—gradually loosening its hold on the vast populations once loyal
to its rule; nay, that the time is rapidly approaching when its capacity
for resistance must give way before the mighty forces which are destined
in the end to sweep it from the earth.

                                                                M. M.-W.
  88 Onslow Gardens, London.
      _January 15, 1889._


  Preface                                                               v
  Postscript on the common error in regard to the comparative
          prevalence of Buddhism in the world                         xiv
  List of Illustrations                                              xxix
  Rules for Pronunciation                                            xxxi
  Pronunciation of Buddha, etc. Addenda and Corrigenda              xxxii

                               LECTURE I.
                       Introductory Observations.

  Buddhism in its relation to Brāhmanism. Various sects in Brāhmanism.
      Creed of the ordinary Hindū. Rise of scepticism and infidelity.
      Materialistic school of thought. Origin of Buddhism and Jainism.
      Manysidedness of Buddhism. Its complexity. Labours of various
      scholars. Divisions of the subject. The Buddha, his Law, his Order
      of Monks. Northern Buddhism                                    1-17

                              LECTURE II.
                   The Buddha as a Personal Teacher.

  The Buddha’s biography. Date of his birth and death. His names,
      epithets, and titles. Story of the four visions. Birth of the
      Buddha’s son. The Buddha leaves his home. His life at Rāja-gṛiha.
      His study of Brāhmanical philosophy. His sexennial fast. His
      temptation by Māra. He attains perfect enlightenment. The
      Bodhi-tree. Buddha and Muhammad compared. The Buddha’s proceedings
      after his enlightenment. His first teaching at Benares. First
      sermon. Effect of first teaching. His first sixty missionaries.
      His fire-sermon. His eighty great disciples. His two chief and
      sixteen leading disciples. His forty-five years of preaching and
      itineration. His death and last words. Character of the Buddha’s
      teaching. His method illustrated by an epitome of one of his
      parables                                                      18-52

                              LECTURE III.
             The Dharma or Law and Scriptures of Buddhism.

  Origin of the Buddhist Law (Dharma). Buddhist scriptures not like the
      Veda. First council at Rāja-gṛiha. Kāṡyapa chosen as leader.
      Recitation of the Buddha’s precepts. Second council at Vaiṡālī.
      Ćandra-gupta. Third council at Patnā. Composition of southern
      canon. Tri-piṭaka or three collections. Rules of discipline, moral
      precepts, philosophical precepts. Commentaries. Buddha-ghosha.
      Aṡoka’s inscriptions. His edicts and proclamations. Fourth council
      at Jālandhara. Kanishka. The northern canon. The nine Nepālese
      canonical scriptures. The Tibetan canonical scriptures (Kanjur)

                              LECTURE IV.
                 The Saṅgha or Buddhist Order of Monks.

  Nature of the Buddhist brotherhood. Not a priesthood, not a hierarchy.
      Names given to the monks. Method of admission to the monkhood.
      Admission of novices. Three-refuge formula. Admission of full
      monks. Four resources. Four prohibitions. Offences and penances.
      Eight practices. The monk’s daily life. His three garments.
      Confession. Definition of the Saṅgha or community of monks. Order
      of Nuns. Lay-brothers and lay-sisters. Relation of the laity to
      the monkhood. Duties of the laity. Later hierarchical Buddhism.
      Character of monks of the present day in various countries    71-92

                               LECTURE V.
                The Philosophical Doctrines of Buddhism.

  The philosophy of Buddhism founded on that of Brāhmanism. Three ways
      of salvation in Brāhmanism. The Buddha’s one way of salvation. All
      life is misery. Indian pessimistic philosophy. Twelve-linked chain
      of causation. Celebrated Buddhist formula. The Buddha’s attitude
      towards the Sāṅkhya and Vedānta philosophy of the Brāhmans. The
      Buddha’s negation of spirit and of a Supreme Being. Brāhmanical
      theory of metempsychosis. The Buddhist Skandhas. The Buddhist
      theory of transmigration. Only six forms of existence. The
      Buddha’s previous births. Examples given of stories of two of his
      previous births. Destiny of man dependent on his own acts.
      Re-creative force of acts. Act-force creating worlds. No knowledge
      of the first act. Cycles of the Universe. Interminable succession
      of existences like rotation of a wheel. Buddhist Kalpas or ages.
      Thirty-one abodes of six classes of beings rising one above the
      other in successive tiers of lower worlds and three sets of
      heavens                                                      93-122

                              LECTURE VI.
    The Morality of Buddhism and its chief aim—Arhatship or Nirvāṇa.

  Inconsistency of a life of morality in Buddhism. Division of the moral
      code. First five and then ten chief rules of moral conduct.
      Positive injunctions. The ten fetters binding a man to existence.
      Seven jewels of the Law. Six (or ten) transcendent virtues.
      Examples of moral precepts from the Dharma-pada and other works.
      Moral merit easily acquired. Aim of Buddhist morality. External
      and internal morality. Inner condition of heart. Four paths or
      stages leading to Arhatship or moral perfection. Three grades of
      Arhats. Series of Buddhas. Gautama the fourth Buddha of the
      present age, and last of twenty-five Buddhas. The future Buddha.
      Explanation of Nirvāṇa and Pari-nirvāṇa as the true aim of
      Buddhist morality. Buddhist and Christian morality contrasted

                              LECTURE VII.
         Changes in Buddhism and its disappearance from India.

  Tendency of all religious movements to deterioration and
      disintegration. The corruptions of Buddhism are the result of its
      own fundamental doctrines. Re-statement of Buddha’s early
      teaching. Recoil to the opposite extreme. Sects and divisions in
      Buddhism. The first four principal sects, followed by eighteen,
      thirty-two, and ninety-six. Mahā-yāna or Great Method (vehicle).
      Hīna-yāna or Little Method. The Chinese Buddhist travellers,
      Fā-hien and Hiouen Thsang. Reasons for the disappearance of
      Buddhism from India. Gradual amalgamation with surrounding
      systems. Interaction between Buddhism, Vaishṇavism, and Ṡaivism.
      Ultimate merging of Buddhism in Brāhmanism and Hindūism     147-171

                             LECTURE VIII.
              Rise of Theistic and Polytheistic Buddhism.

  Development of the Mahā-yāna or Great Method. Gradual deification of
      saints, sages, and great men. Tendency to group in triads. First
      triad of the Buddha, the Law, and the Order. Buddhist triad no
      trinity. The Buddha to be succeeded by Maitreya. Maitreya’s heaven
      longed for. Constitution and gradations of the Buddhist
      brotherhood. Headship and government of the Buddhist monasteries.
      The first Arhats. Progress of the Mahā-yāna doctrine. The first
      Bodhi-sattva Maitreya associated with numerous other
      Bodhi-sattvas. Deification of Maitreya and elevation of Gautama’s
      great pupils to Bodhi-sattvaship. Partial deification of great
      teachers. Nāgārjuna, Gorakh-nāth. Barlaam and Josaphat      172-194

                              LECTURE IX.
                  Theistic and Polytheistic Buddhism.

  Second Buddhist triad, Mañju-ṡrī, Avalokiteṡvara or Padma-pāṇi and
      Vajra-pāṇi. Description of each. Theory of five human Buddhas,
      five Dhyāni-Buddhas ‘of meditation,’ and five
      Dhyāni-Bodhi-sattvas. Five triads formed by grouping together one
      from each. Theory of Ādi-Buddha. Worship of the Dhyāni-Buddha
      Amitābha. Tiers of heavens connected with the four Dhyānas or
      stages of meditation. Account of the later Buddhist theory of
      lower worlds and three groups of heavens. Synopsis of the
      twenty-six heavens and their inhabitants. Hindū gods and demons
      adopted by Buddhism. Hindū and Buddhist mythology           195-222

                               LECTURE X.
      Mystical Buddhism in its connexion with the Yoga Philosophy.

  Growth of esoteric and mystical Buddhism. Dhyāni-Buddhas. Yoga
      philosophy. Svāmī Dayānanda-Sarasvatī. Twofold Yoga system. Bodily
      tortures of Yogīs. Fasting. Complete absorption in thought.
      Progressive stages of meditation. Samādhi. Six transcendent
      faculties. The Buddha no spiritualist. Nature of Buddha’s
      enlightenment. Attainment of miraculous powers. Development of
      Buddha’s early doctrine. Eight requisites of Yoga. Six-syllabled
      sentence. Mystical syllables. Cramping of limbs. Suppression and
      imprisonment of breath. Suspended animation. Self-concentration.
      Eight supernatural powers. Three bodies of every Buddha. Ethereal
      souls and gross bodies. Buddhist Mahātmas. Astral bodies. Modern
      spiritualism. Modern esoteric Buddhism and Asiatic occultism

                              LECTURE XI.
 Hierarchical Buddhism, especially as developed in Tibet and Mongolia.

  The Saṅgha. Development of Hierarchical gradations in Ceylon and in
      Burma. Tibetan Buddhism. Northern Buddhism connected with
      Shamanism. Lāmism and the Lāmistic Hierarchy. Gradations of
      monkhood. Avatāra Lāmas. Vagabond Lāmas. Female Hierarchy. Two
      Lāmistic sects. Explanation of Avatāra theory. History of Tibet.
      Early history of Tibetan Buddhism. Thumi Sambhoṭa’s invention of
      the Tibetan alphabet. Indian Buddhists sent for to Tibet. Tibetan
      canon. Tibetan kings. Founding of monasteries. Buddhism adopted in
      Mongolia. Hierarchical Buddhism in Mongolia. Invention of
      Mongolian alphabet. Birth of the Buddhist reformer Tsong Khapa.
      The Red and Yellow Cap schools. Monasteries of Galdan, Brepung,
      and Sera. Character of Tsong Khapa’s reformation. Resemblance of
      the Roman Catholic and Lāmistic systems. Death and canonization of
      Tsong Khapa. Development of the Avatāra theory. The two Grand
      Lāmas, Dalai Lāma and Panchen Lāma. Election of Dalai Lāma.
      Election of the Grand Lāmas of Mongolia. List of Dalai Lāmas.
      Discovery of present Dalai Lāma. The Lāma or Khanpo of Galdan, of
      Kurun or Kuren, of Kuku khotun. Lāmism in Ladāk, Tangut, Nepāl,
      Bhutān, Sikkim. In China and Japan. Divisions in Japanese
      Buddhism. Buddhism in Russian territory                     253-302

                              LECTURE XII.
                  Ceremonial and Ritualistic Buddhism.

  Opposition of early Buddhism to sacerdotalism and ceremonialism.
      Reaction. Religious superstition in Tibet and Mongolia. Accounts
      by Koeppen, Schlagintweit, Markham, Huc, Sarat Chandra Dās.
      Admission-ceremony of a novice in Burma and Ceylon. Boy-pupils.
      Daily life in Burmese monasteries, according to Shway Yoe.
      Observances during Vassa. Pirit ceremony. Mahā-baṇa Pirit.
      Admission-ceremonies in Tibet and Mongolia. Dress and equipment of
      a Lāmistic monk. Dorje. Prayer-bell. Use of Tibetan language in
      the Ritual. A. Csoma de Körös’ life and labours. Form and
      character of the Lāmistic Ritual. Huc’s description of a
      particular Ritual. Holy water, consecrated grain, tea-drinking.
      Ceremonies in Sikkim and Ladāk. Ceremony at Sarat Chandra Dās’
      presentation to the Dalai Lāma. Ceremony at translation of a chief
      Lāma’s soul. Other ceremonies. Uposatha and fast-days.
      Circumambulation. Comparison with Roman Catholic Ritual     303-339

                             LECTURE XIII.
         Festivals, Domestic Rites, and Formularies of Prayers.

  New Year’s Festivals in Burma and Tibet. Festivals of Buddha’s birth
      and death. Festival of lamps. Local Festivals. Chase of the
      spirit-kings. Religious masquerades and dances. Religious dramas
      in Burma and Tibet. Weapons used against evil spirits. Dorje.
      Phurbu. Tattooing in Burma. Domestic rites and usages.
      Birth-ceremonies in Ceylon and Burma. Name-giving ceremonies.
      Horoscopes. Baptism in Tibet and Mongolia. Amulets.
      Marriage-ceremonies. Freedom of women in Buddhist countries.
      Usages in sickness. Merit gained by saving animal-life. Usages at
      death. Cremation. Funeral-ceremonies in Sikkim, Japan, Ceylon,
      Burma, Tibet, and Mongolia. Exposure of corpses in Tibet and
      Mongolia. Prayer-formularies. Monlam. Maṇi-padme or ‘jewel-lotus’
      formulary. Prayer-wheels, praying-cylinders and method of using
      them. Formularies on rocks, etc. Man Dangs. Prayer-flags. Mystic
      formularies. Rosaries. ḍamaru. Manual of daily prayers      340-386

                              LECTURE XIV.
                             Sacred Places.

  The sacred land of Buddhism. Kapila-vastu, the Buddha’s birth-place.
      The arrow-fountain. Buddha-Gayā. Ancient Temple. Sacred tree.
      Restoration of Temple. Votive Stūpas. Mixture of Buddhism and
      Hindūism. Hiouen Thsang’s description of Buddha-Gayā. Sārnāth near
      Benares. Ruined Stūpa. Sculpture illustrating four events in the
      Buddha’s career. Rāja-gṛiha. Scene of incidents in the Buddha’s
      life. Deva-datta’s plots. Satta-paṇṇi cave. Ṡrāvastī. Residence in
      Jeta-vana monastery. Sandal-wood image. Miracles. Vaiṡālī, place
      of second council. Description by Hiouen Thsang and Fā-hien.
      Kauṡāmbī. Great monolith. Nālanda monastery. Hiouen Thsang’s
      description. Saṅkāṡya, place of Buddha’s descent from heaven.
      Account of the triple ladder. Sāketa or Ayodhyā. Miraculous tree.
      Kanyā-kubja. Ṡilāditya. Pāṭali-putra. Aṡoka’s palace. Founding of
      hospitals. First Stūpa. Kesarīya. Ruined mound. Stūpa.
      Kuṡi-nagara, the place of the Buddha’s death and Pari-nirvāṇa

                              LECTURE XV.
                        Monasteries and Temples.

  Five kinds of dwellings permissible for monks. Institution of
      monasteries. Cave-monasteries. Monasteries in Ceylon, Burma, and
      British Sikkim. Monastery at Kīlang in Lahūl; at Kunbum; at Kuku
      khotun; at Kuren; at Lhāssa. Palace-monastery of Potala. Residence
      of Dalai Lāma, and Mr. Manning’s interview with him. Monasteries
      of Lā brang, Ramoćhe, Moru, Gar Ma Khian. Three mother-monasteries
      of the Yellow Sect, Galdan, Sera, and Dapung. Tashi Lunpo and the
      Tashi Lāma. Mr. Bogle’s interview with the Tashi Lāma. Turner’s
      interview with the Grand Lāma of the Terpaling monastery. Sarat
      Chandra Dās’ description of the Tashi Lunpo monastery. Monasteries
      of the Red Sect, Sam ye and Sakya. Monastery libraries. Temples.
      Cave-temples or Ćaityas. The Elorā Ćaitya. The Kārle Ćaitya.
      Village temples. Temples in Ceylon. Temple at Kelani. Tooth-temple
      at Kandy. Burmese temples. Rangoon pagoda. Temples in Sikkim,
      Mongolia, and Tibet. Great temple at Lhāssa; at Ramoćhe; at Tashi
      Lunpo                                                       426-464

                              LECTURE XVI.
                           Images and Idols.

  Introduction of idolatry into India. Ancient image of Buddha. Gradual
      growth of objective Buddhism. Development of image-worship.
      Self-produced images. Hiouen Thsang’s account of the sandal-wood
      image. Form, character, and general characteristics of images.
      Outgrowth of Buddha’s skull. Nimbus. Size, height, and different
      attitudes of Buddha’s images. ‘Meditative,’ ‘Witness,’
      ‘Serpent-canopied,’ ‘Argumentative’ or ‘Teaching,’ ‘Preaching,’
      ‘Benedictive,’ ‘Mendicant,’ and ‘Recumbent’ Attitudes.
      Representations of Buddha’s birth. Images of other Buddhas and
      Bodhi-sattvas. Images of Amitābha, of Maitreya, of Mañju-ṡrī, of
      Avalokiteṡvara, of Kwan-yin and Vajra-pāṇi. Images of other
      Bodhi-sattvas, gods and goddesses                           465-492

                             LECTURE XVII.
                            Sacred Objects.

  Sung-Yun’s description of objects of worship. Three classes of
      Buddhist sacred objects                                     493-495

  Relics. Hindū ideas of impurity connected with death. Hindū and
      Buddhist methods of honouring ancestors compared. Worship of the
      Buddha’s relics. The Buddha’s hair and nails. Eight portions of
      his relics. Adventures of one of the Buddha’s teeth. Tooth-temple
      at Kandy. Celestial light emitted by relics. Exhibition of relics.
      Form and character of Buddhist relic-receptacles. Ćaityas, Stūpas,
      Dāgabas, and their development into elaborate structures. Votive
      Stūpas                                                      495-506

  Worship of foot-prints. Probable origin of the worship of foot-prints.
      Alleged foot-prints of Christ. Vishṇu-pad at Gayā. Jaina pilgrims
      at Mount Pārasnāth. Adam’s Peak. Foot-prints in various countries.
      Mr. Alabaster’s description of the foot-print in Siam. Marks on
      the soles of the Buddha’s feet                              506-514

  Sacred trees. General prevalence of tree-worship. Belief that spirits
      inhabit trees. Offerings hung on trees. Trees of the seven
      principal Buddhas. The Aṡvattha or Pippala is of all trees the
      most revered. Other sacred trees. The Kalpa-tree. Wishing-tree.
      Kabīr Var tree                                              514-520

  Sacred symbols. The Tri-ratna symbol. The Ćakra or Wheel symbol. The
      Lotus-flower. The Svastika symbol. The Throne symbol. The
      Umbrella. The Ṡaṅkha or Conch-shell                         520-523

  Sacred animals. Worship of animals due to doctrine of metempsychosis.
      Elephants. Deer. Pigs. Fish                                 524-526

  Miscellaneous objects. Bells. Seven precious substances. Seven
      treasures belonging to every universal monarch              526-528

    Supplementary Remarks on the Connexion of Buddhism with Jainism.

  Difference between the Buddhist and Jaina methods of obtaining
      liberation. Nigaṇṭhas. Two Jaina sects. Dig-ambaras and
      Ṡvetāmbaras. The three chief points of difference between them.
      Their sacred books. Characteristics of both sects as distinguished
      from Buddhism. Belief in existence of souls. Moral code.
      Three-jewels. Five moral prohibitions. Prayer-formula. Temples
      erected for acquisition of merit                            529-536

                             LECTURE XVIII.
                 Buddhism contrasted with Christianity.

  True Buddhism is no religion. Definition of the word ‘religion.’ Four
      characteristics constitute a religion. Gautama’s claim to be
      called ‘the Light of Asia’ examined. The Buddha’s and Christ’s
      first call to their disciples. The Christian’s reverence for the
      body contrasted with the Buddhist’s contempt for the body.
      Doctrine of storing up merit illustrated, and shown to be common
      to Buddhism, Brāhmanism, Hindūism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism,
      and Muhammadanism. Doctrine of Karma or Act-force. Buddhist and
      Christian doctrine of deliverance compared. Buddhist and Christian
      moral precepts compared. The many benefits conferred upon Asia by
      Buddhism admitted. Religious feelings among Buddhists. Buddhist
      toleration of other religions.

  Historic life of the Christ contrasted with legendary biography of the
      Buddha. Christ God-sent. The Buddha self-sent. Miracles recorded
      in the Bible and in the Tri-piṭaka contrasted. Buddhist and
      Christian self-sacrifice compared. Character and style of the
      Buddhist Tri-piṭaka contrasted with those of the Christian Bible.
      Various Buddhist and Christian doctrines contrasted. Which
      doctrines are to be preferred by rational and thoughtful men in
      the nineteenth century?                                     537-563


The prevalent error in regard to the number of Buddhists at present
existing in the world is pointed out in the Postscript at the end of the
Preface (p. xiv).

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
                           WITH DESCRIPTIONS.


  1. Brass Image of Gautama Buddha obtained by the Author from Ceylon
      He is seated on the Mućalinda Serpent (see p. 480), in an
          attitude of profound meditation, with eyes half closed,
          and five rays of light emerging from the crown of his

  2. Vignette, representing the Ćakra or ‘Wheel’ Symbol with Tri-ratna
      symbols in the outer circle and Lotus symbol in the centre (see
      pp. 521-522)                                        _On Title-page_
      Copied from the engraving of a Wheel supported on a column at
          Amarāvatī (date about 250 A.D.) in Mr. Fergusson’s ‘Tree
          and Serpent Worship.’

  3. Map illustrative of the Sacred Land of Buddhism         _To face_ 21

  4. Portrait of Mr. Gaurī-Ṡaṅkar Uday-Ṡaṅkar, C.S.I., now Svāmī Ṡrī
      Saććidānanda-Sarasvatī                                _To face_  74
      See the explanation at p. xiii. of the Preface.

  5. Magical Dorje or thunderbolt used by Northern Buddhists          323

  6. Prayer-bell used in worship                                      324

  7. Magical weapon called Phur-pa, for defence against evil spirits  352
      Used by Northern Buddhists. Brought from Dārjīling in 1884.

  8. Amulet worn by a Tibetan woman at Dārjīling in 1884              358
      Purchased at Dārjīling and given to the Author by Mr. Sarat
          Chandra Dās.

  9. Hand Prayer-wheel brought by the Author from Dārjīling           375

  10. ḍamaru, or sacred drum, used by vagabond Buddhist monks         385

  11. Ancient Buddhist temple at Buddha-Gayā, as it appeared in 1880
                                                            _To face_ 391
      Erected about the middle of the 2nd century on the ruins of
          Aṡoka’s temple, at the spot where Gautama attained
      From a photograph by Mr. Beglar enlarged by Mr. G. W. Austen.

  12. The same temple at Buddha-Gayā, as restored in 1884   _To face_ 393
      From a photograph by Mr. Beglar enlarged by Mr. G. W. Austen.

  13. Bronze model dug up at Moulmein, representing triple ladder by
      which Buddha is supposed to have descended from heaven (from
      original in South Kensington Museum)                            418

  14. Remains of a colossal statue of Buddha                _To face_ 467
      Probably in ‘argumentative’ or ‘teaching’ attitude (see p.
          481). It was found by General Sir A. Cunningham close to
          the south side of the Buddha-Gayā temple. The date (Samvat
          64 = A.D. 142) is inscribed on the pedestal.

  15. Terra-cotta image of Buddha dug up at Buddha-Gayā               477
      Half the size of the original sculpture. Buddha is in the
          attitude of meditation under the tree, with a halo or
          aureola round his head. Probable date, not earlier than
          9th century.

  16. Sculpture found by General Sir A. Cunningham at Sārnāth, near
      Benares                                               _To face_ 477
      Illustrative of the four principal events in Gautama Buddha’s
          life—namely, his birth, his attainment of Buddhahood under
          the tree, his teaching at Benares, and his passing away in
          complete Nirvāṇa (see p. 387). Date about 400 A.D.

  17. Sculpture of Buddha in ‘Witness-attitude’ on attaining Buddhahood,
      under the tree (an umbrella is above)                           478
      Found at Buddha-Gayā. Date about the 9th century. The original
          is remarkable for its smiling features and for the
          circular mark on the forehead. The drawing is from a
          photograph belonging to Sir A. Cunningham.

  18. Sculpture of Buddha in ‘Witness-attitude’ on attaining Buddhahood
      under the tree                                                  480
      From a niche high up on the western side of the Buddha-Gayā
          temple. It has the ‘Ye dharmā’ formula (p. 104) inscribed
          on each side. It is half the size of the original
          sculpture. Probable date about the 11th century.

  19. Sculpture found at Buddha-Gayā representing the earliest Triad,
      viz. Buddha, Dharma, and Saṅgha                                 485
      The drawing is from a photograph belonging to Sir A.
          Cunningham, described at p. 484.

  20. Votive Stūpa found at Buddha-Gayā                     _To face_ 505
      Probable date about 9th or 10th century of our era.

  21. Clay model of a small votive Stūpa                              506
      Selected from several which the author saw in the act of being
          made by a monk outside a monastery in British Sikkim in
          1884. This model probably contains the ‘Ye dharmā’ or some
          other formula on a seal inside. The engraving is exactly
          the size of the original.

                        RULES FOR PRONUNCIATION.


_A_, _a_, pronounced as in rur_a_l, or the last _a_ in Americ_a_; _Ā_,
_ā_, as in t_a_r, f_a_ther; _I_, _i_, as in f_i_ll; _Ī_, _ī_, as in
pol_i_ce; _U_, _u_, as in b_u_ll; _Ū_, _ū_, as in r_u_de; _Ṛi_, _ṛi_, as
in mer_ri_ly; _Ṛī_, _ṛī_, as in ma_ri_ne; _E_, _e_, as in pr_e_y; _Ai_,
_ai_, as in _ai_sle; _O_, _o_, as in g_o_; _Au_, _au_, as in H_au_s
(pronounced as in German).


_K_, _k_, pronounced as in _k_ill, see_k_; _Kh_, _kh_, as in in_kh_orn;
_G_, _g_, as in _g_un, do_g_; _Gh_, _gh_, as in lo_gh_ut; _Ṅ_, _ṅ_, as
_ng_ in si_ng_ (si_ṅ_).

_Ć_, _ć_, as in dol_c_e (in music), = English _ch_ in _ch_ur_ch_,
lur_ch_ (lur_ć_); _Ćh_, _ćh_, as in chur_chh_ill (_ć_ur_ćh_ill); _J_,
_j_, as in _j_et; _Jh_, _jh_, as in he_dgeh_og (he_jh_og); _Ñ_, _ñ_, as
in si_n_ge (si_ñ_j).

_Ṭ_, _ṭ_, as in _t_rue (_ṭ_ru); _Ṭh_, _ṭh_, as in an_th_ill (an_ṭh_ill);
_ḍ_, _ḍ_, as in _d_rum (_ḍ_rum); _ḍh_, _ḍh_, as in re_dh_aired
(re_ḍh_aired); _Ṇ_, _ṇ_, as in _n_o_n_e (_ṇ_u_ṇ_).

_T_, _t_, as in wa_t_er (as pronounced in Ireland); _Th_, _th_, as
nu_t-h_ook (but more dental); _D_, _d_, as in _d_ice (more like _th_ in
_th_is); _Dh_, _dh_, as in a_dh_ere (more dental); _N_, _n_, as in
_n_ot, i_n_.

_P_, _p_, as in _p_ut, si_p_; _Ph_, _ph_, as in u_ph_ill; _B_, _b_, as
in _b_ear, ru_b_; _Bh_, _bh_, as in a_bh_or; _M_, _m_, as in _m_ap,

_Y_, _y_, as in _y_et; _R_, _r_, as in _r_ed, yea_r_; _L_, _l_, as in
_l_ie; _V_, _v_, as in _v_ie (but like _w_ after consonants, as in

_Ṡ_, _ṡ_, as in _s_ure, ses_s_ion; _Sh_, _sh_, as in _sh_un, hu_sh_;
_S_, _s_, as in _s_ir, his_s_. _H_, _h_, as in _h_it.

In Tibetan the vowels, including even _e_ and _o_, have generally the
short sound, but accentuated vowels are comparatively long. I have
marked such words as Lāma with a long mark to denote this, but Koeppen
and Jäschke write Lama. Jäschke says that the Tibetan alphabet was
adapted from the Lañćha form of the Indian letters by Thumi (Thonmi)
Sambhoṭa (see p. 270) about the year 632.


It is common to hear English-speakers mispronounce the words Buddha and
Buddhism. But any one who studies the rules on the preceding page will
see that the _u_ in _Bud_dha, must not be pronounced like the _u_ in the
English word ‘_bud_,’ but like the _u_ in b_u_ll.

Indeed, for the sake of the general reader, it might be better to write
Booddha and Booddhism, provided the _oo_ be pronounced as in the words
‘wood,’ ‘good.’

                        ADDENDA and CORRIGENDA.

It is feared that the long-mark over the letter A may have been omitted
in one or two cases or may have broken off in printing.

[In this electronic edition, corrections were incorporated in the text;
additions were inserted as new footnotes and tagged—_Corr._]


                               LECTURE I.
          _Introductory. Buddhism in relation to Brāhmanism._

In my recent work[3] on Brāhmanism I have traced the progress of Indian
religious thought through three successive stages—called by me Vedism,
Brāhmanism, and Hindūism—the last including the three subdivisions of
Ṡaivism, Vaishṇavism, and Ṡāktism. Furthermore I have attempted to prove
that these systems are not really separated by sharp lines, but that
each almost imperceptibly shades off into the other.

I have striven also to show that a true Hindū of the orthodox school is
able quite conscientiously to accept all these developments of religious
belief. He holds that they have their authoritative exponents in the
successive bibles of the Hindū religion, namely, (1) the four
Vedas—Ṛig-veda, Yajur-veda, Sāma-veda, Atharva-veda—and the Brāhmaṇas;
(2) the Upanishads; (3) the Law-books—especially that of Manu; (4) the
Bhakti-ṡāstras, including the Rāmāyaṇa, the Mahā-bhārata, the
Purāṇas—especially the Bhāgavata-purāṇa—and the Bhagavad-gītā; (5) the

The chief works under these five heads represent the principal periods
of religious development through which the Hindū mind has passed.

Thus, in the first place, the hymns of the Vedas and the ritualism of
the Brāhmaṇas represent physiolatry or the worship of the personified
forces of nature—a form of religion which ultimately became saturated
with sacrificial ideas and with ceremonialism and asceticism. Secondly,
the Upanishads represent the pantheistic conceptions which terminated in
philosophical Brāhmanism. Thirdly, the Law-books represent caste-rules
and domestic usages. Fourthly, the Rāmāyaṇa, Mahā-bhārata, and Purāṇas
represent the principle of personal devotion to the personal gods, Ṡiva,
Vishṇu, and their manifestations; and fifthly, the Tantras represent the
perversion of the principle of love to polluting and degrading practices
disguised under the name of religious rites. Of these five phases of the
Hindū religion probably the first three only prevailed when Buddhism
arose; but I shall try to make clear hereafter that Buddhism, as it
developed, accommodated itself to the fourth and even ultimately to the
fifth phase, admitting the Hindū gods into its own creed, while Hindūism
also received ideas from Buddhism.

At any rate it is clear that the so-called orthodox Brāhman admits all
five series of works as progressive exponents of the Hindū
system—although he scarcely likes to confess openly to any adoption of
the fifth. Hence his opinions are of necessity Protean and multiform.

The root ideas of his creed are of course Pantheistic, in the sense of
being grounded on the identification of the whole external world—which
he believes to be a mere illusory appearance—with one eternal,
impersonal, spiritual Essence; but his religion is capable of presenting
so many phases, according to the stand-point from which it is viewed,
that its pantheism appears to be continually sliding into forms of
monotheism and polytheism, and even into the lowest types of animism and

We must not, moreover, forget—as I have pointed out in my recent
work—that a large body of the Hindūs are unorthodox in respect of their
interpretation of the leading doctrine of true Brāhmanism.

Such unorthodox persons may be described as sectarians or dissenters.
That is to say, they dissent from the orthodox pantheistic doctrine that
all gods and men, all divine and human souls, and all material
appearances are mere illusory manifestations of one impersonal spiritual
Entity—called Ātman or Purusha or Brahman—and they believe in one
supreme personal god—either Ṡiva or Vishṇu or Kṛishṇa or Rāma—who is not
liable (as orthodox Brāhmans say he is) to lose his personality by
subjection to the universal law of dissolution and re-absorption into
the one eternal impersonal Essence, but exists in a heaven of his own,
to the bliss of which his worshippers are admitted[4].

And it must be borne in mind that these sectarians are very far from
resting their belief on the Vedas, the Brāhmaṇas, and Upanishads.

Their creed is based entirely on the Bhakti-ṡāstras—that is, on the
Rāmāyaṇa, Mahā-bhārata, and Purāṇas (especially on the Bhāgavata-purāṇa)
and the Bhagavad-gītā, to the exclusion of the other scriptures of

Then again it must always be borne in mind that the terms ‘orthodox’ and
‘unorthodox’ have really little or no application to the great majority
of the inhabitants of India, who in truth are wholly innocent of any
theological opinions at all, and are far too apathetic to trouble
themselves about any form of religion other than that which has belonged
for centuries to their families and to the localities in which they
live, and far too ignorant and dull of intellect to be capable of
inquiring for themselves whether that religion is likely to be true or

To classify the masses under any one definite denomination, either as
Pantheists or Polytheists or Monotheists, or as simple idol-worshippers,
or fetish-worshippers, would be wholly misleading.

Their faculties are so enfeebled by the debilitating effect of early
marriages, and so deadened by the drudgery of daily toil and the dire
necessity of keeping body and soul together, that they can scarcely be
said to be capable of holding any definite theological creed at all.

It would be nearer the truth to say that the religion of an ordinary
Hindū consists in observing caste-customs, local usages, and family
observances, in holding what may be called the Folk-legends of his
neighbourhood, in propitiating evil spirits and in worshipping the image
and superscription of the Empress of India, impressed on the current
coin of the country.

As a rule such a man gives himself no uneasiness whatever about his
prospects of happiness or misery in the world to come.

He is quite content to commit his interests in a future life to the care
and custody of the Brāhmans; while, if he thinks about the nature of a
Supreme Being at all, he assumes His benevolence and expects His good
will as a matter of course.

What he really troubles himself about is the necessity for securing the
present favour of the inhabitants of the unseen world, supposed to
occupy the atmosphere everywhere around him—of the good and evil demons
and spirits of the soil—generally represented by rude and grotesque
images, and artfully identified by village priests and Brāhmans with
alleged forms of Vishṇu or Ṡiva.

It follows that the mind of the ordinary Hindū, though indifferent about
all definite dogmatic religion, is steeped in the kind of religiousness
best expressed by the word {deisidaimonia}. He lives in perpetual dread
of invisible beings who are thought to be exerting their mysterious
influences above, below, around, in the immediate vicinity of his own
dwelling. The very winds which sweep across his homestead are believed
to swarm with spirits, who unless duly propitiated will blight the
produce of his fields, or bring down upon him injury, disease, and

Then again, besides the orthodox and besides the sectarian Hindū and
besides the great demon-worshipping, idolatrous, and superstitious
majority, another class of the Indian community must also be taken into
account—the class of rationalists and free-thinkers. These have been
common in India from the earliest times.

First came a class of conscientious doubters, who strove to solve the
riddle of life by microscopic self-introspection and sincere searchings
after truth, and these did their best not to break with the Veda, Vedic
revelation, and the authority of the Brāhmans.

Earnestly and reverently such men applied themselves to the difficult
task of trying to answer such questions as—What am I? Whence have I
come? Whither am I going? How can I explain my consciousness of personal
existence? Have I an immaterial spirit distinct from, and independent
of, my material frame? Of what nature is the world in which I find
myself? Did an all-powerful Being create it out of nothing? or did it
evolve itself out of an eternal protoplasmic germ? or did it come
together by the combination of eternal atoms? or is it a mere illusion?
If created by a Being of infinite wisdom and love, how can I account for
the co-existence in it of good and evil, happiness and misery? Has the
Creator form, or is He formless? Has He qualities and affections, or has
He none?

It was in the effort to solve such insoluble enigmas by their own
unaided intuitions and in a manner not too subversive of traditional
dogma, that the systems of philosophy founded on the Upanishads

These have been described in my book on Brāhmanism. They were gradually
excogitated by independent thinkers, who claimed to be Brāhmans or
twice-born men, and nominally accepted the Veda with its Brāhmaṇas,
while they covertly attacked it, or at least abstained from denouncing
it as absolutely untrue. Such men tacitly submitted to sacerdotal
authority, though they really propounded a way of salvation based
entirely on self-evolved knowledge, and quite independent of all Vedic
sacrifices and sacrificing priests. The most noteworthy and orthodox of
the systems propounded by them was the Vedānta[5], which, as I have
shown, was simply spiritual Pantheism, and asserted that the one Spirit
was the only real Being in the Universe.

But the origin of the more unorthodox systems, which denied the
authority of both the Veda and the Brāhmans, must also be traced to the
influence of the Upanishads. For it is undeniable that a spirit of
atheistic infidelity grew up in India almost _pari passu_ with dogmatic
Brāhmanism, and has always been prevalent there. In fact it would be
easy to show that periodical outbursts of unbelief and agnosticism have
taken place in India very much in the same way as in Europe; but the
tendency to run into extremes has always been greater on Indian soil and
beneath the glow and glamour of Eastern skies. On the one side, a far
more unthinking respect than in any other country has been paid to the
authority of priests, who have declared their supernatural revelation to
be the very breath of God, sacrificial rites to be the sole instruments
of salvation, and themselves the sole mediators between earth and
heaven; on the other, far greater latitude than in any other country has
been conceded to infidels and atheists who have poured contempt on all
sacerdotal dogmas, have denied all supernatural revelation, have made no
secret of their disbelief in a personal God, and have maintained that
even if a Supreme Being and a spiritual world exist they are unknowable
by man and beyond the cognizance of his faculties.

We learn indeed from certain passages of the Veda (Ṛig-veda II. 12. 5;
VIII. 100. 3, 4) that even in the Vedic age some denied the existence of
the god Indra.

We know, too, that Yāska, the well-known Vedic commentator, who is
believed to have lived before the grammarian Pāṇini (probably in the
fourth century B.C.), found himself obliged to refute the sceptical
arguments of Kautsa and others who pronounced the Veda a tissue of
nonsense (Nirukta I. 15, 16).

Again, Manu—whose law-book, according to Dr. Bühler, was composed
between the second century B.C. and the second A.D., and, in my opinion,
possibly earlier—has the following remark directed against sceptics:—

‘The twice-born man who depending on rationalistic treatises
(hetu-ṡāstra) contemns the two roots of law (ṡruti and smṛiti), is to be
excommunicated (vahish-kāryaḥ) by the righteous as an atheist (nāstika)
and despiser of the Veda’ (Manu II. 11).

Furthermore, the Mahā-bhārata, a poem which contains many ancient
legends quite as ancient as those of early Buddhism, relates
(Ṡānti-parvan 1410, etc.) the story of the infidel Ćārvāka, who in the
disguise of a mendicant Brāhman uttered sentiments dangerously

This Ćārvāka was the supposed founder of a materialistic school of
thought called Lokāyata. Rejecting all instruments of knowledge
(pramāṇa) except perception by the senses (pratyaksha), he affirmed that
the soul did not exist separately from the body, and that all the
phenomena of the world were spontaneously produced.

The following abbreviation of a passage in the Sarva-darṡana-saṅgraha[6]
will give some idea of this school’s infidel doctrines, the very name of
which (Lokāyata, ‘generally current in the world’) is an evidence of the
popularity they enjoyed:—

  No heaven exists, no final liberation,
  No soul, no other world, no rites of caste,
  No recompense for acts; let life be spent,
  In merriment[7]; let a man borrow money
  And live at ease and feast on melted butter.
  How can this body when reduced to dust
  Revisit earth? and if a ghost can pass
  To other worlds, why does not strong affection
  For those he leaves behind attract him back?
  Oblations, funeral rites, and sacrifices
  Are a mere means of livelihood devised
  By sacerdotal cunning—nothing more.
  The three composers of the triple Veda
  Were rogues, or evil spirits, or buffoons.
  The recitation of mysterious words
  And jabber of the priests is simple nonsense.

Then again, the continued prevalence of sceptical opinions may be shown
by extracts from other portions of the later literature. For example, in
the Rāmāyaṇa (II. 108) the infidel Brāhman Jāvāli gives utterance to
similar sentiments thus:—

‘The books composed by theologians, in which men are enjoined to
worship, give gifts, offer sacrifice, practise austerities, abandon the
world, are mere artifices to draw forth donations. Make up your mind
that no one exists hereafter. Have regard only to what is visible and
perceptible by the senses (pratyaksham). Cast everything beyond this
behind your back.’

Furthermore, in a parallel passage from the Vishṇu-purāṇa, it is
declared that the great Deceiver, practising illusion, beguiled other
demon-like beings to embrace many sorts of heresy; some reviling the
Vedas, others the gods, others the ceremonial of sacrifice, and others
the Brāhmans[8]. These were called Nāstikas.

Such extracts prove that the worst forms of scepticism prevailed in both
early and mediæval times. But all phases and varieties of heretical
thought were not equally offensive, and it would certainly be unfair and
misleading to place Buddhism and Jainism on the same level with the
reckless Pyrrhonism of the Ćārvākas who had no code of morality.

And indeed it was for this very reason, that when Buddhism and Jainism
began to make their presence felt in the fifth century B.C. they became
far more formidable than any other phase of scepticism.

Whether, however, Buddhism or Jainism be entitled to chronological
precedence is still an open question, about which opinions may
reasonably differ. Some hold that they were always quite distinct from
each other, and were the products of inquiry originated by two
independent thinkers, and many scholars now consider that the weight of
evidence is in favour of Jainism being a little antecedent to Buddhism.
Possibly the two systems resulted from the splitting up of one sect into
two divisions, just as the two Brāhma-Samājes of Calcutta are the
product of the Ādi-Samāj.

One point at least is certain, that notwithstanding much community of
thought between Buddhism and Jainism, Buddhism ended in gaining for
itself by far the more important position of the two. For although
Jainism has shown more tenacity of life in India, and has lingered on
there till the present day, it never gained any hold on the masses of
the population, whereas its rival, Buddhism, radiating from a central
point in Hindūstān, spread itself first over the whole of India and then
over nearly all Eastern Asia, and has played—as even its most hostile
critics must admit—an important rôle in the history of the world.

To Buddhism, therefore, we have now to direct our attention, and at the
very threshold of our inquiries we are confronted with this difficulty,
that its great popularity and its wide diffusion among many peoples have
made it most difficult to answer the question:—What is Buddhism? If it
were possible to reply to the inquiry in one word, one might perhaps say
that true Buddhism, theoretically stated, is Humanitarianism, meaning by
that term something very like the gospel of humanity preached by the
Positivist, whose doctrine is the elevation of man through man—that is,
through human intellect, human intuitions, human teaching, human
experiences, and accumulated human efforts—to the highest ideal of
perfection; and yet something very different. For the Buddhist ideal
differs toto cælo from the Positivist’s, and consists in the
renunciation of all personal existence, even to the extinction of
humanity itself. The Buddhist’s perfection is destruction (p. 123).

But such a reply would have only reference to the truest and earliest
form of Buddhism. It would cover a very minute portion of the vast area
of a subject which, as it grew, became multiform, multilateral, and
almost infinite in its ramifications.

Innumerable writers, indeed, during the past thirty years have been
attracted by the great interest of the inquiry, and have vied with each
other in their efforts to give a satisfactory account of a system whose
developments have varied in every country; while lecturers, essayists,
and the authors of magazine articles are constantly adding their
contributions to the mass of floating ideas, and too often propagate
crude and erroneous conceptions on a subject, the depths of which they
have never thoroughly fathomed.

It is to be hoped that the annexation of Upper Burma, while giving an
impulse to Pāli and Buddhistic studies, may help to throw light on some
obscure points.

Certainly Buddhism continues to be little understood by the great
majority of educated persons. Nor can any misunderstanding on such a
subject be matter of surprise, when writers of high character colour
their descriptions of it from an examination of one part of the system
only, without due regard to its other phases, and in this way either
exalt it to a far higher position than it deserves, or depreciate it

And Buddhism is a subject which must continue for a long time to present
the student with a boundless field of investigation. No one can bring a
proper capacity of mind to such a study, much less write about it
clearly, who has not studied the original documents both in Pāli and in
Sanskṛit, after a long course of preparation in the study of Vedism,
Brāhmanism, and Hindūism. It is a system which resembles these other
forms of Indian religious thought in the great variety of its aspects.
Starting from a very simple proposition, which can only be described as
an exaggerated truism—the truism, I mean, that all life involves sorrow,
and that all sorrow results from indulging desires which ought to be
suppressed—it has branched out into a vast number of complicated and
self-contradictory propositions and allegations. Its teaching has become
both negative and positive, agnostic and gnostic. It passes from
apparent atheism and materialism to theism, polytheism, and
spiritualism. It is under one aspect mere pessimism; under another pure
philanthropy; under another monastic communism; under another high
morality; under another a variety of materialistic philosophy; under
another simple demonology; under another a mere farrago of
superstitions, including necromancy, witchcraft, idolatry, and
fetishism. In some form or other it may be held with almost any
religion, and embraces something from almost every creed. It is founded
on philosophical Brāhmanism, has much in common with Sāṅkhya and Vedānta
ideas, is closely connected with Vaishṇavism, and in some of its phases
with both Ṡaivism and Ṡāktism, and yet is, properly speaking, opposed to
every one of these systems. It has in its moral code much common ground
with Christianity, and in its mediæval and modern developments presents
examples of forms, ceremonies, litanies, monastic communities, and
hierarchical organizations, scarcely distinguishable from those of Roman
Catholicism; and yet a greater contrast than that presented by the
essential doctrines of Buddhism and of Christianity can scarcely be
imagined. Strangest of all, Buddhism—with no God higher than the perfect
man—has no pretensions to be called a religion in the true sense of the
word, and is wholly destitute of the vivifying forces necessary to give
vitality to the dry bones of its own morality; and yet it once existed
as a real power over at least a third of the human race, and even at the
present moment claims a vast number of adherents in Asia, and not a few
sympathisers in Europe and America.

Evidently, then, any Orientalist who undertakes to give a clear and
concise account of Buddhism in the compass of a few lectures, must find
himself engaged in a very venturesome and difficult task.

Happily we are gaining acquaintance with the Southern or purest form of
Buddhism through editions and translations of the texts of the Pāli
Canon by Fausböll, Childers, Rhys Davids, Oldenberg, Morris, Trenckner,
L. Feer, etc. We owe much, too, to the works of Turnour, Hardy, Clough,
Gogerly, D’Alwis, Burnouf, Lassen, Spiegel, Weber, Koeppen, Minayeff,
Bigandet, Max Müller, Kern, Ed. Müller, E. Kuhn, Pischel, and others.
These enable us to form a fair estimate of what Buddhism was in its
early days.

But the case is different when we turn to the Northern Buddhist
Scriptures, written generally in tolerably correct Sanskṛit (with
Tibetan translations). These continue to be little studied,
notwithstanding the materials placed at our command and the good work
done, first by the distinguished ‘founder of the study of Buddhism,’
Brian Hodgson, and by Burnouf, Wassiljew, Cowell, Senart, Kern, Beal,
Foucaux, and others. In fact, the moment we pass from the Buddhism of
India, Ceylon, Burma, and Siam, to that of Nepāl, Kashmīr, Tibet,
Bhutān, Sikkim, China, Mongolia, Manchuria, Corea, and Japan, we seem to
have entered a labyrinth, the clue of which is continually slipping from
our hands.

Nor is it possible to classify the varying and often conflicting systems
in these latter countries, under the one general title of Northern

For indeed the changes which religious systems undergo, even in
countries adjacent to each other, not unfrequently amount to an entire
reversal of their whole character. We may illustrate these changes by
the variations of words derived from one and the same root in
neighbouring countries. Take, for example, the German words selig,
‘blessed,’ and knabe, ‘a boy,’ which in England are represented by
‘silly’ and ‘knave.’

A similar law appears to hold good in the case of religious ideas. Their
whole character seems to change by a change of latitude and longitude.
This is even true of Christianity. Can it be maintained, for instance,
that the Christianity of modern Greece and Rome has much in common with
early Christianity, and would any casual observer believe that the
inhabitants of St. Petersburg, Berlin, Edinburgh, London, and Paris were
followers of the same religion?

It cannot therefore surprise us if Buddhism developed into apparently
contradictory systems in different countries and under varying climatic
conditions. In no two countries did it preserve the same features. Even
in India, the land of its birth, it had greatly changed during the first
ten centuries of its prevalence. So much so that had it been possible
for its founder to reappear upon earth in the fifth century after
Christ, he would have failed to recognize his own child, and would have
found that his own teaching had not escaped the operation of a law which
experience proves to be universal and inevitable.

It is easy, therefore, to understand how difficult it will be to give
any semblance of unity to my present subject. It will be impossible for
me to treat as a consistent whole a system having a perpetually varying
front and no settled form. I can only give a series of somewhat rough,
though, I hope, trustworthy outlines, as far as possible in methodical

And in the carrying out of such a design, the three objects that will at
first naturally present themselves for delineation will be three which
constitute the well-known triad of early Buddhism—that is to say, the
Buddha himself, His Law and His Order of Monks.

Hence my aim will be, in the first place, to give such a historical
account of the Buddha and of his earliest teaching as may be gathered
from his legendary biography, and from the most trustworthy parts of the
Buddhist canonical scriptures. Secondly, I shall give a brief
description of the origin and composition of those scriptures as
containing the Buddha’s ‘Law’ (Dharma); and thirdly, I shall endeavour
to explain the early constitution of the Buddha’s Order of Monks
(Saṅgha). After treating of these three preliminary topics, I shall next
describe the Law itself; that is, the philosophical doctrines of
Buddhism, its code of morality and theory of perfection, terminating in
Nirvāṇa. Lastly, I shall attempt to trace out the confused outlines of
theistic, mystical, and hierarchical Buddhism, as developed in Northern
countries, adding an account of sacred objects and places, and
contrasting the chief doctrines of Christianity. In regard to the
Buddhism of Tibet, I shall chiefly base my explanations on Koeppen’s
great work—a work never translated into English and now out of print—as
well as on my own researches during my travels through the parts of
India bordering on that country.

And here I ought to state that my explanations and descriptions will, I
fear, be wholly deficient in picturesqueness. My simple aim will be to
convey clear and correct information in unembellished language; and in
doing this, I shall often be compelled to expose myself to the reproach
contained in the expressions, _ćarvita-ćarvaṇam_, ‘chewing the chewed,’
and _pishṭa-peshaṇam_, ‘grinding the ground.’ I shall constantly be
obliged to tread on ground already well trodden.

To begin, then, with the Buddha himself.

                              LECTURE II.
                  _The Buddha as a personal Teacher._

It is much to be regretted that among all the sacred books that
constitute the Canon of the Southern Buddhists (see p. 61)—the only true
Canon of Buddhism—there is no trustworthy biography of its Founder.

For Buddhism is nothing without Buddha, just as Zoroastrianism is
nothing without Zoroaster, Confucianism nothing without Confucius,
Muhammadanism nothing without Muhammad, and I may add with all
reverence, Christianity nothing without Christ.

Indeed, no religion or religious system which has not emanated from some
one heroic central personality, or in other words, which has not had a
founder whose strongly marked personal character constituted the very
life and soul of his teaching and the chief factor in its effectiveness,
has ever had any chance of achieving world-wide acceptance, or ever
spread far beyond the place of its origin.

Hence the barest outline of primitive Buddhism must be incomplete
without some sketch of the life and character of Gautama Buddha himself.
Yet it is difficult to find any sure basis of fact on which we may
construct a fairly credible biography.

In all likelihood legendary histories of the Founder of Buddhism were
current in Nepāl and Tibet in the early centuries of our era; but
unhappily his too enthusiastic and imaginative admirers have thought it
right to testify their admiration by interweaving with the probable
facts of Gautama Buddha’s life, fables so extravagant that some modern
critical scholars have despaired of attempting to sift truth from
fiction, and have even gone to the extreme of doubting that Gautama
Buddha ever lived at all.

To believe nothing that has been recorded about him, is as unreasonable
as to accept with unquestioning faith all the miraculous circumstances
which are made to encircle him as with a halo of divine glory.

We must bear in mind that when Gautama Buddha lived—about the fifth
century B.C.—the art of writing was not common in India[9]. We may point
out, too, that in all countries, European as well as Asiatic—notably in
Greece (witness, for example, the familiar instance of Socrates)—men
have thought more of preserving the sayings of their teachers than of
recording the facts of their lives.

And we must not forget that in India—where the imaginative faculties
have always been too active, and anything like real history is
unknown—any plain matter-of-fact biography of the most heroic personage
would have few charms for any one, and little chance of gaining
acceptance anywhere.

Hence it has happened that the ballads (gāthā) and legends current about
Gautama among Northern Buddhists, bristle with the wildest fancies and
the most absurd exaggerations.

Yet it is not impossible to detect a few scattered historical facts
beneath stories, however childish, and legends, however extravagant. We
shall not at least be far wrong, if, in attempting an outline of the
Buddha’s life, we begin by asserting that intense individuality, fervid
earnestness, and severe simplicity of character, combined with singular
beauty of countenance, calm dignity of bearing, and above all, almost
superhuman persuasiveness of speech, were conspicuous in the great

The earliest authorities, however, never claim for him anything
extraordinary or superhuman in regard to external form. It was only in
later times that Buddhist writers pandered to the superstitions of the
people, by describing the Buddha as possessed of various miraculous
characteristics of mind and body. He is said to have been of immense
stature—according to some, eighteen feet high—and to have had on his
body thirty-two chief auspicious marks (mahā-vyañjana), regarded as
indications of a Supreme Lord and Universal Ruler, eighty secondary
marks (anu-vyañjana), besides one hundred and eight symbols on the sole
of each foot, and a halo extending for six feet round his person.

All that can be said with any degree of probability about his personal
appearance is, that he was endowed with certain qualities, which acted
like a spell, or with a kind of irresistible magnetism, on his hearers.
These must have formed, so to speak, the foundation-stone on which the
superstructure of his vast influence rested.


Unhappily, no authoritative Buddhist scripture gives any trustworthy
clue to the exact year of the Buddha’s birth. The traditions which refer
back his _death_ to a date corresponding to 543 B.C. are now rejected by
modern European scholars. Nor can we as yet accept as infallible the
results of the latest researches, which making use of various other
data, such as the inscriptions on coins, rocks, and columns, place his
death more than a century later. We shall not, however, be far wrong if
we assert that he was born about the year 500 B.C. at Kapila-vastu (now
Bhūila)—a town situated about half-way between Bastī and Ajūdhyā
(Ayodhyā) in the territory of Kosala (the modern Oudh, see pp. 29, 48),
about sixty miles from its capital city Ṡrāvasti (a favourite residence
of Gautama), and about one hundred miles[10] north-west of Benares, and
near the borders of the kingdom of Magadha (now Behār).

His father, named Ṡuddhodana, was a land-owner of the tribe of the
Ṡākyas (a name possibly connected with the Sanskṛit root Ṡak, ‘to be
powerful’), whose territory in the Gorakh-pur district extended from the
lower Nepalese mountains to the river Raptī in Oudh. It has been
conjectured that the Ṡākyas may have been originally a non-Āryan tribe,
connected perhaps with certain nomad immigrants from Tibet or Northern
Asia, who may have immigrated into India at various periods; but even if
this could be proved, it would have to be admitted that the Ṡākyas had
become Āryanized. It is said that the chief families claimed to be
Rājputs, tracing back their origin to Ikshvāku, the first of the Solar
race. It appears, too, that though belonging to the Kshatriya caste,
they were agriculturists, and mainly engaged in the cultivation of rice.
It is also asserted that Ṡākya families were in the habit of taking the
name of the family of the Brāhmans who were their spiritual guides and
performed religious offices for them, and that the family of Ṡuddhodana
took the name Gautama, that is, descendant of the sage Gotama. It does
not, however, seem necessary to account for the name in this manner. It
was an auspicious name, which in ancient times might have been given to
the child of any great land-owner as a proof of orthodoxy, or with the
view, perhaps, of pleasing the Brāhmans and securing their prayers and
good wishes on its behalf.

The father of the Founder of Buddhism was simply a chief of the Ṡākya
tribe—certainly not a king in our sense of the term—but rather a great
Zamīndār or landlord, whose territory was not so large in area as
Yorkshire. His name Ṡuddhodana, ‘one possessed of pure rice,’ probably
indicated the occupation and ordinary food of the peasantry inhabiting
the district belonging to him and subject to his authority. Those who
have travelled much in India must often have met great land-owners of
the Ṡuddhodana type—men to whom the title Mahā-rāja is given much as
‘Lord’ is to our aristocracy. For example, the Mahā-rāja of Darbhanga is
probably a more important personage than Gautama’s father ever was, and
his territory larger than that of Ṡuddhodana ever was.

The name Gautama (in Pāli spelt Gotama) was the personal name
corresponding to that given to all children at the name-giving ceremony.
It was not till his supposed attainment of perfect wisdom that Gautama
assumed the title of Buddha, or ‘the enlightened one.’ But from that
time forward this became his recognized title. Every other name besides
Gautama (or Gotama), and every other title except Buddha (or together,
Gautama Buddha), are simply epithets; for example, Ṡākya-muni, ‘sage of
the tribe of the Ṡākyas;’ Ṡākya-siṉha, ‘lion of the Ṡākyas;’ Ṡramaṇa
(Samano), ‘the ascetic;’ Siddhārtha, ‘one who has fulfilled the object
(of his coming);’ Sugata, ‘whose coming is auspicious;’ Tathāgata, ‘who
comes and goes as his predecessors;’ Bhagavān (Bhagavā), ‘the blessed
lord;’ Ṡāstā (Satthā), ‘the Teacher;’ Aṡaraṇa-ṡaraṇa, ‘Refuge of the
refugeless;’ Āditya-bandhu, ‘Kinsman of the Sun;’ Jina, ‘conqueror;’
Mahā-vīra, ‘great hero;’ Mahā-purusha, ‘great man;’ Ćakravartī,
‘universal monarch.’ Devout Buddhists call him ‘Lord of the World,’ ‘the
Lord,’ ‘World-honoured One,’ ‘King of the Law,’ ‘the Jewel,’ etc.; and
prefer to use the titles rather than the personal name Gautama, which is
thought too familiar.

The names of previous Buddhas, supposed to have existed in previous
ages, are given at p. 136.

Little of the story of the miraculous birth of Buddha is worthy of
repetition. Since, however, a white elephant is reckoned among the
sacred objects of Buddhism, as something rare and precious, it is worth
while mentioning the fable, that when the time came for the Bodhi-sattva
to leave the Tushita heaven (p. 120) and be born on earth as Gautama
Buddha, he descended into the womb of his mother in the form of a white
elephant. He was born under a Ṡāl tree and the god Brahmā received him
from his mother’s side. His mother, Māyā, died seven days afterwards,
and the infant was committed to her sister (Mahā-prajāpatī), a second
wife of Ṡuddhodana.

It is not related of Gautama that, as he grew up, any efforts were made
to imbue him with sacred learning; though, as a Kshatriya, he was
privileged to receive instruction in certain portions of the Veda.

Nor are we told of him that as a Kshatriya he was trained to the
profession of a soldier. It is more probable, that his love of
contemplation developed itself very early, and that from a desire to
humour this not uncommon Oriental propensity, he was allowed to pass
most of his time in the open air.

There is a well-known legend, which relates how Gautama’s relations came
in a body to his father and complained that the youth’s deficiency in
martial and athletic exercises would incapacitate him, on reaching
manhood, from taking part in warlike expeditions. This might be reckoned
among the few trustworthy historical incidents, were the story not
marred by the legendary addition, that on a day of trial being fixed,
the youth, without any previous practice, and of course to the surprise
of all present, proved his superiority in archery and in ‘the twelve

One statement may certainly be accepted without much qualification. It
is said that Gautama was made to marry early, according to the universal
custom throughout India in the present day. No son of any respectable
person in modern times could remain unmarried at the age of sixteen or
seventeen, without, so to speak, tarnishing the family escutcheon, and
exposing the youth himself to a serious social stigma, likely to cling
to him in after-life. In ancient times marriage was equally universal,
and there is no reason to suppose that among Kshatriyas it was delayed
to a much later period of life.

No doubt, therefore, the future Buddha had at least one wife (whose name
was Yaṡodharā, though often called Rāhula-mātā, ‘Rāhula’s mother’), and
probably at least one son, named Rāhula. It is said that this son was
not born till his father was twenty-nine years of age, or not till the
time when a sense of the vanity of all human aims, and a resolution to
abandon all worldly ties, and a longing to enter upon a monastic life
had begun to take possession of his father’s mind.

The story of the four visions, which led to his final renunciation of
the world, is profusely overlaid with fanciful hyperbole, but, however
slight the basis of fact on which it may reasonably be held to rest, it
is too picturesque and interesting to be passed over without notice. I
therefore here abridge the account given in Mr. Beal’s translation of
the Chinese version of the Abhi-nishkramaṇa-sūtra, varying (for the sake
of brevity) the phraseology, but retaining the expression ‘prince’:—

One day the prince Gautama resolved to visit the gardens in the
neighbourhood of his father’s city, desiring to examine the beautiful
trees and flowers.

Then there appeared before his eyes in one of the streets the form of a
decrepid[**decrepit] old man, his skin shrivelled, his head bald, his
teeth gone, his body infirm and bent. A staff supported his tottering
limbs, as he stood right across the path of the prince’s advancing

Seeing this aged person, Siddhārtha inquired of his charioteer:—‘What
human form is this, so miserable and so distressing, the like of which I
have never seen before?’

The charioteer replied:—‘This is what is called an old man.’

The prince again inquired:—‘And what is the exact meaning of this
expression “old”?’

The charioteer answered:—‘Old age implies the loss of bodily power,
decay of the vital functions, and failure of mind and memory. This poor
man before you is old and approaching his end.’

Then asked the prince:—‘Is this law universal?’

‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘this is the common lot of all living creatures. All
that is born must die.’

Soon afterwards another strange sight presented itself—a sick man, worn
by disease and suffering, pale and miserable, scarcely able to draw his
breath, was seen tottering on the road.

Then the prince inquired of his charioteer:—‘Who is this unhappy being?’

The charioteer replied:—‘This is a sick man, and such sickness is common
to all.’

Soon afterwards there passed before them a corpse, borne on a bier.

Then asked the prince:—‘Who is this borne onwards on his bed, covered
with strangely-coloured garments, surrounded by people weeping and

‘This,’ replied the charioteer, ‘is called a dead body; he has ended his
life; he has no further beauty of form, and no desires of any kind; he
is one with the stones and the felled tree; he is like a ruined wall, or
fallen leaf; no more shall he see his father or mother, brother or
sister, or other relatives; his body is dead, and your body also must
come to this.’

Next day on his going out by a different gate there appeared advancing
with measured steps a man with a shaven crown, and monk’s robe—his right
shoulder bare, a religious staff in his right hand, and a mendicant’s
alms-bowl in his left.

‘Who is this,’ the prince inquired, ‘proceeding with slow and dignified
steps, looking neither to the right hand nor to the left, absorbed in
thought, with shaven head and garments of reddish colour?’

‘This man,’ said the charioteer, ‘devotes himself to charity, and
restrains his appetites and his bodily desires. He hurts nobody, but
does good to all, and is full of sympathy for all.’

Then the prince asked the man himself to give an account of his own

He answered:—‘I am called a homeless ascetic; I have forsaken the world,
relatives, and friends; I seek deliverance for myself and desire the
salvation of all creatures, and I do harm to none.’

After hearing these words, the prince went to his father and said, ‘I
wish to become a wandering ascetic (parivrājika) and to seek Nirvāna;
all worldly things, O king! are changeable and transitory.’

Such is an epitome of the legendary story of the ‘four visionary
appearances,’ so called because they are supposed to have been divine
visions or appearances, miraculously produced. The remainder of the
legendary life of Gautama Buddha is interesting and here and there not
without some historical value, and portions of it I now add in an
abridged form.

Very shortly after the occurrences just described, Gautama receives
intelligence of the birth of his son Rāhula. This is the first momentous
crisis of his life, and Gautama remains for a long time lost in profound
thought. He sees in his child the strongest of all fetters, binding him
to family and home. But his mind is made up. He must fly at once, or be
for ever held in bondage. Around him gather the beautiful women of his
father’s household, striving by their blandishments to divert him from
his purpose; but in vain. He seeks the chamber of his wife, and finds
her asleep with her hand on the head of his infant son. He longs for a
last embrace; but fearing to arouse her suspicions hurries away.
Outside, his favourite horse is waiting to aid his flight. He
accomplishes the first stage of what Buddhists call with pride the
Mahābhinishkramaṇa, ‘the great going forth from home;’ but not without
overcoming other still more formidable trials. For Māra, the evil deity
who tempts men to indulge their passions (see p. 120), makes himself
visible, and promises the prince all the glories of empire if he will
return to the pleasures of worldly life.

Finding all his allurements disregarded, Māra alters his method of
attack; he fills the air with mighty thunderings, and creates on the
road before the youthful fugitive’s eyes apparitions of torrents, lofty
mountains, and blazing conflagrations. But nothing alarms or deters him.
‘I would rather,’ he exclaims, ‘be torn to pieces limb by limb, or be
burnt in a fiery furnace, or be ground to pieces by a falling mountain
than forego my fixed purpose for one single instant.’

Arrived at a safe distance from his father’s territory, he exchanges
garments with a passing beggar, cuts off his own hair with a sword, and
assumes the outward aspect and character of a wandering ascetic. The
hair does not fall to the ground but is taken up to the Trayastriṉṡas
heaven (p. 120), and worshipped by the gods.

His first halting-place is Rāja-gṛiha (now Rāj-gīr), the chief city of
Magadha, which, with Kosala (Oudh, pp. 21, 48), afterwards became the
holy land of Buddhism. There he attaches himself as a disciple to two
Brāhmans named Āḷāra (in Sanskṛit Ārāḍa, with epithet Kālāpa or Kālāma)
and Uddaka (Udraka, also written Rudraka, and called Rāma-putta,
Mahā-vagga I. 6. 3), who imbue him with their own philosophical tenets
and theory of salvation. Sufficient evidence exists to warrant a belief
in this part of the story.

No place in India abounds in more interesting Buddhistic remains than
Rāja-gṛiha (about 40 miles south-east of Patnā), proving that it was one
of the most sacred places of Buddhism, consecrated by some of its most
cherished associations. Its Pāli name is Rāja-gaha. It may be
conjectured that the connexion between the metaphysics of Buddhism and
those of Brāhmanism was due to Gautama’s intercourse with the Brāhmans
of this district, and to the ideas he thus imbibed at the earliest stage
of his career.

But to resume our story. Gautama fails to find in Brāhmanical philosophy
that rest and peace for which his soul was craving when he left his

Still there was another way of emancipation and union with the Universal
Soul, taught by the Brāhmans. This was the way of Tapas[11], or
self-inflicted bodily pain and austerity.

From the earliest times a favourite doctrine of Brāhmanism has been,
that self-inflicted bodily suffering is before all things efficacious
for the accumulation of religious merit, for the acquirement of
supernatural powers, and for the spirit’s release from the bondage of
transmigration and its re-absorption into the One Universal Spirit.

Among other forms of self-inflicted pain, religious devotees (Tapasvīs)
sometimes went through the process of sitting all day long unmoved
during the hottest months on a prepared platform or plot of ground,
surrounded by five fires, or by four blazing fires, with the burning sun
above their heads as a fifth[12]. Even gods (and notably Ṡiva) are
described as mortifying themselves by bodily austerities (_tapas_), so
as not to be outdone by men; for according to the theory of Hindūism,
the gods themselves might be supplanted and even ousted from their rank
and position as divinities by the omnipotence acquirable by human
devotees through a protracted endurance of severe bodily suffering.

Hence we are not surprised to find it recorded of Gautama Buddha, that
seeking in vain for rest in the teaching of Brāhmanical philosophy, and
eager to try the effect of a course of self-mortification, he wandered
forth from Rāja-gṛiha to a wood in the district of Gayā, called Uruvilvā
(or Uruvelā).

There, in company with five other ascetics, he began his celebrated
sexennial fast. Sitting down with his legs folded under him on a raised
seat in a place unsheltered from sun, wind, rain, dew, and cold, he
gradually reduced his daily allowance of food to a single grain of rice.
Then holding his breath, he harassed and macerated his body, but all in
vain. No peace of mind came, and no divine enlightenment. He became
convinced of his own folly in resorting to bodily austerity as a means
of attaining supreme enlightenment, and delivering himself from the
evils and sufferings of life.

Rousing himself, as if from a troubled dream, he took food and
nourishment in a natural way, thereby incurring the temporary
disapproval of his five companions in self-mortification. Then, when
sufficiently refreshed, he moved away to another spot in the same
district. There, under the shelter of a sacred fig-tree (Aṡvattha,
_Ficus religiosa_, known as the Pippala or Pīpal), in a village,
afterwards called Buddha-Gayā, he gave himself up to higher and higher
forms of meditation (Jhāna = Dhyāna). In this he merely conformed to the
Hindū Yoga,—a method of attaining mystic union with the Deity, which
although not then formulated into a system, was already in vogue among
the Brāhmans. There can be little doubt that the Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna (see p.
209), and Samādhi of the Yoga were resorted to, even in Gautama’s time,
as a means for the attainment of perfect spiritual illumination, as well
as of final absorption in the Deity.

In Manu VI. 72 it is said:—‘Let him purge himself from all taints
(doshān) by suppression of breath, from sin by restraints of thought
(dhāraṇābhiḥ), from sensual attachments by control, and from unspiritual
qualities by meditation (dhyānena).’

In the later work called Bhagavad-gītā (see p. 95 of this volume) it is
declared:—‘holding his body, head, and neck quite immovable, seated on a
firm seat in a pure spot with Kuṡa grass around, the devotee (Yogī)
should look only at the tip of his nose, and should meditate on the
Supreme Being’ (VI. 11, 12). Further on he is directed to meditate so
profoundly as to think about nothing whatever (VI. 25).

The very Gāyatrī or ancient Vedic prayer (Ṛig-veda III. 62. 10, see p.
78 of this volume)—which is to Hindūs what the Lord’s Prayer is to
Christians, and is still repeated by millions of our Indian
fellow-subjects at their daily devotions—was originally an act of
meditation, performed with the very object Gautama had in view—supreme
enlightenment of mind:—‘Let us meditate (Dhīmahi, root _dhyai_) on the
excellent glory of the divine vivifying Sun, may he enlighten our
understandings.’ Even the selection of a seat under an Aṡvattha tree was
in keeping with Brāhmanical ideas (see ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p.

The first result, however, of his engaging in abstract meditation, was
that he seemed to himself to be as far as ever from the emancipation
which was the one aim of his great renunciation. Why not then return to
the world? Why not indulge again in the pleasures of sense? Why not go
back to home, wife, and child? Thoughts of this kind passed through his
mind, while all his old affections and feelings seemed to revive with
tenfold intensity. Then on one particular night, during this mental
struggle, Māra, the Destroyer and personification of carnal desire,
seized his opportunity. The spirit of evil had bided his time; had
waited to assail the sage at the right moment, when protracted
self-mortification had done its work—when with exhausted strength he had
little power of resistance.

It is certainly remarkable that a great struggle between good and evil,
right and wrong, truth and error, knowledge and ignorance, light and
darkness, is recognized in all religious systems, however false. (See a
notable allusion to this in Ṡaṅkara’s Commentary to Ćhāndogya Upanishad,
p. 26, ll. 2-8.)

The legendary description of the Buddha’s temptation, and of the assault
made upon him by Māra (the deadly spirit of sensuous desire[13]), and by
all his troop of attendants, is so interesting and curious,
notwithstanding its extravagance, that I here abridge it:—

Fiends and demons swarmed about him in the form of awful monsters,
furies, vampires, hobgoblins, armed to the teeth with every implement of
destruction. Their million faces were frightful to behold, their limbs
encircled by myriads of serpents, their heads enveloped in a blaze of
fire. They surrounded the saint and assailed him in a thousand different
ways. Missiles of all kinds were hurled against him; poison and fire
were showered over him—but the poison changed into flowers, the fire
formed a halo round his head.

The baffled evil one now shifted his ground. He summoned his sixteen
enchanting daughters, and sent them to display their charms in the
presence of the youthful saint. But the resolute young ascetic was not
to be lured by their wiles. He remained calm and impassive, and with a
stern face rebuked the maidens for their boldness, forcing them to
retire discomfited and disgraced.

Other forms of temptation followed, and the debilitated ascetic’s
strength seemed to be giving way. But this was merely the crisis. After
rising to higher and higher stages of abstract meditation at the end of
a long night he shook off his foe. The victory was won, and the light of
true knowledge broke upon his mind. A legend relates that in the first
night-watch he gained a knowledge of all his previous existences; in the
second—of all present states of being; in the third—of the chain of
causes and effects (p. 102); and at the dawn of day he knew all things.

The dawn on which this remarkable struggle terminated was the birthday
of Buddhism. Gautama was at that time about thirty-five years of age. It
was then, and not till then, that his Bodhi-sattvaship (see p. 135)
ended and he gained a right to the title Buddha, ‘the Enlightened.’ No
wonder that the tree under which he sat became celebrated as ‘the tree
of knowledge and enlightenment.’ It is remarkable, too, that just as the
night on which the Buddha attained perfect enlightenment is the most
sacred night with Buddhists, so the Bodhi-tree (in familiar language,
Bo-tree) is their most sacred symbol—a symbol as dear to Buddhists as
the Cross is to Christians.

And what was this true knowledge, evolved out of a mind sublimated by
intense meditation?

This is, perhaps, the strangest point of all in this strange story. It
was after all a mere partial one-sided truth—the outcome of a single
line of thought, dwelt upon with morbid intensity, to the exclusion of
every other line of thought which might have modified and balanced it.
It was an ultra-pessimistic view of the miseries of life, and a
determination to ignore all its counterbalancing joys. It was the
doctrine that this present life is only one link in a chain of countless
transmigrations—that existence of all kinds involves suffering, and that
such suffering can only be got rid of by self-restraint and the
extinction of desires, especially of the desire for continuity of
personal existence.

For let it be made clear at the outset, that whatever may be said of the
Christian-like self-renunciation enjoined by the Buddhist code of
morality, the only self it aims at renouncing is the self of
personality, and the chief self-love it deprecates is the self-love
which consists in craving for continuous individual life.

To those who have never travelled or resided much in the East,
indulgence in such a morbid form of pessimism, under glowing skies and
amid bright surroundings, may seem almost an impossibility. But those
who know India by personal experience are aware that its climate is not
conducive to optimistic views of life, and that even in the present day
men of the Buddha type, who seek in various ways to impress their
pessimistic theories of existence on their fellow-men, are not uncommon.

In the course of my travels I frequently met ascetics who had given up
family and friends, and were leading a life of morose seclusion, and
pretended meditation, undergoing long courses of bodily mortification.
Nay, I have even seen men who, to prove their utter contempt for the
pleasures of worldly existence, and to render themselves fit for the
extinction of all personality by absorption into the Universal Soul,
have sat in one posture, or held up one arm for years, or allowed
themselves no bed but a bed of spikes, no shelter but the foliage of
trees[14]. Gautama’s course of protracted cogitation therefore had in it
nothing peculiar or original.

Nor need we doubt that certain historical facts underlie the legendary
narrative. We cannot admit with the learned Senart and Kern that the
life of Gautama was based on a mere solar myth. To us it is more
difficult not to believe than to believe that there lived in the fifth
century B.C. the youthful son of a petty Rāja or land-owner in Oudh,
distinguished from ordinary men by many remarkable qualities of mind and
body—notably by a thoughtful and contemplative disposition; that he
became impressed with a sense of the vanity of all earthly aims, and of
the suffering caused by disease and death; that he often said to
himself, ‘Life is but a troubled dream, an incubus, a nightmare,’ or,
like the Jewish sage of old, ‘All the days of man are sorrow,’ ‘Man
walketh in a vain shadow and disquieteth himself in vain;’ and that like
many other of the world’s philosophers, instead of acquiescing in the
state of things around him, and striving to make the best of them, or to
improve them, he took refuge from the troubles of life in abandoning all
its ties, renouncing all its joys, and suppressing all its affections
and desires.

And again, it is more difficult not to believe than to believe that in
such a man introspection and abstinence, protracted for many years,
induced a condition of mind favourable to ecstatic visions, which were
easily mistaken for flashes of inner enlightenment.

We know, indeed, that eleven centuries later another great thinker arose
among the Semitic races in Western Asia, who went through the same kind
of mental struggle, and that Muhammad, like Gautama, having by his long
fasts and austerities brought himself into a highly wrought condition of
the nervous system, became a fanatical believer in the reality of his
own delusions and in his own divine commission as a teacher.

But the parallel between the Buddha and Muhammad cannot be carried on
much further. And indeed, in point of fact, no two characters could be
more different. For the Buddha never claimed to be the channel of a
supernatural revelation; never represented the knowledge that burst on
his mind as springing from any but an internal source; never taught that
a divine force operating from without compelled him to communicate that
knowledge to mankind; never dreamed of propagating that knowledge to
others by compulsion, much less by the sword. On the contrary, he always
maintained that the only revelation he had received was an illumination
from within—due entirety to his own intuitions, assisted by his
reasoning powers and by severe purgatorial discipline protracted through
countless previous births in every variety of bodily form.

But how did this internal self-enlightenment[15]—the great
distinguishing feature of Buddhism—first find expression? It is said
that the first words uttered by the Buddha at the momentous crisis when
true knowledge burst upon him, were to the following effect:—

‘Through countless births have I wandered, seeking but not discovering
(anibbisan) the maker of this my mortal dwelling-house (gaha-kāraka),
and still again and again have birth and life and pain returned. But now
at length art thou discovered, thou builder of this house (of flesh). No
longer shalt thou rear a house for me. Rafters and beams are shattered
and with destruction of Desire (Taṉhā) deliverance from repeated life is
gained at last’ (Dhamma-pada 153, 154, Sumaṅgala 46).

Contrast with these first utterances of Gautama Buddha the first words
of Jesus Christ:—

‘Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?’ (St. Luke ii.

The Buddha’s first exclamations, as well as the account of his
subsequent sayings and doings, are the more worthy of credit as taken
from the Southern Canon.

The Mahā-vagga (I. 1) tells us that after attaining complete
intelligence, the Buddha sat cross-legged on the ground under the
Bodhi-tree for seven days, absorbed in meditation and enjoying the bliss
of enlightenment. At the end of that period, during the first three
watches of the night, he fixed his mind on the causes of existence. Then
having thought out the law of causation (p. 102), he exclaimed: ‘When
the laws of being become manifest to the earnest thinker, his doubts
vanish, and, like the Sun, he dispels the hosts of Māra.’

Next he meditated for another seven days under a banyan tree, called the
tree of goat-herds (aja-pāla). It was there that a haughty Brāhman
accosted him with the question, ‘Who is a true Brāhman?’ and was told,
‘One free from evil and pride; self-restrained, learned, and pure.’

Then he meditated under another tree for a third period of seven days.
There the serpent (Nāga) Mućalinda (or Mućilinda) coiled his body round
the Buddha, and formed a canopy to protect him from the raging of a
storm—this being one of the trials he had to go through. When it was
over the Buddha exclaimed, ‘Happy is the seclusion of the satisfied man
(tushṭa) who has learned and seen the truth.’

A fourth period of meditation was passed under the tree Rājāyatana,
making four times seven days. May not these symbolize the four stages of
meditation (p. 209)? Later legends, however, reckon seven times seven

During the whole of the interval between the first acquisition of
knowledge and the setting forth to proclaim it, the Buddha fasted, being
too elated to seek food, and only once receiving it from two merchants,
named Tapussa (Trapusha) and Bhallika. These became his first
lay-reverers (p. 89) by repeating the _double_ formula of reverence for
the Buddha and for his doctrine (the Saṅgha not being then instituted,
Mahā-v° I. 4. 5). A later legend relates that they received in return
eight of his hairs which they preserved as relics.

In connexion with the legend of a forty-nine days’ fast, I may mention
that an ancient carving of Gautama was pointed out to me at Buddha-Gayā,
which represents him as holding a bowl of rice-milk divided into
forty-nine portions, one for each day.

With these legends we may contrast the simple Gospel narrative of
Christ’s forty days’ fast in the wilderness.

The Buddha’s first resolution to come forth from his seclusion and
proclaim his gospel to mankind is of course a great epoch with all

And here it should be observed, that, strictly, according to Gautama’s
own teaching he ought to have ceased from all action on arriving at
perfect enlightenment. For had he not attained the great object of his
ambition—the end of all his struggles—the goal of all his
efforts—carried on through hundreds of existences? He had, therefore, no
more lives to lead, no more misery to undergo. In short he had achieved
the summum bonum of all true Buddhists—the extinction of the fires of
passions and desires—and had only to enjoy the well-earned peace
(nirvṛiti) of complete Nirvāṇa. Yet the love of his fellow-men impelled
him to action (pravṛitti). In fact it was characteristic of a supreme
Buddha that he should belie, by his own activity and compassionate
feelings, the utter apathy and indifference to which his own doctrines
logically led (p. 128).

But he did not carry out his benevolent design without going through
another course of temptation (which it is usual to compare with the
temptation of Christ). Evil thoughts arose in his mind, and these were
suggested, according to later legends, by Māra (p. 33), thus:—‘With
great pains, blessed one, hast thou acquired this doctrine (dharma). Why
proclaim it? Beings lost in desires and lusts will not understand it.
Remain in quietude. Enjoy Nirvāṇa’ (Mahā-v° I. 5. 3).

To counteract these malevolent suggestions, the god Brahmā Sahāmpati
(Pāli Sahămpati, p. 210) presented himself and exclaimed:—‘Arise, O
spotless one, open the gate of Nirvāṇa. Arise, look down on the world
lost in suffering. Arise, wander forth, preach the doctrine.’

First the Buddha thought of his two teachers, Āḷāra and Uddaka (p. 29),
but found they were dead. Next he thought of the five ascetics whom he
had offended by his abandonment of the method of gaining true knowledge
through painful austerities. They were at that time prosecuting their
bodily mortifications at Benares in the Deer-park called Isipatana. It
was only natural that the Buddha should think of wending his way in the
first instance to Benares, even if special considerations had not drawn
him there; for that city was the great centre of Eastern thought and
life, the Indian Athens, where all peculiar doctrines were most likely
to gain a hearing.

On his way thither, Upaka, a member of the Ājīvaka sect of naked
ascetics, met him and inquired why his countenance was so bright
(pariṡuddha)? He replied, ‘I am the all-subduer, the all-wise, the
stainless, the highest teacher, the conqueror (p. 135); I go to Benares
to dissipate the world’s darkness’ (Mahā-vagga I. 6. 7).

The five ascetics (Kauṇḍinya = Koṇḍañño, Aṡvajit = Assaji, Vāshpa,
Mahānāma, and Bhadrika) were soon converted by his words, and by merely
repeating the triple formula were admitted at once to his Order of
monks. They constituted, with Gautama, the first six members of the
Saṅgha, or fraternity of men seeking release from the misery of
existence by cœnobitic monasticism.

And of what nature were Gautama Buddha’s first didactic utterances? His
first sermon, delivered in the Deer-park at Benares, is held in as much
reverence by Buddhists as the first words of Christ are by Christians.
It is called Dhamma-ćakka-ppavattana-sutta, or in Sanskṛit
Dharma-ćakra-pravartana-sūtra, ‘the discourse which set in motion the
wheel of the law,’ or ‘of the universal dominance of the true belief.’

The following is the substance of it, as given in the Mahā-vagga (I. 6.
17). It is important to note that the Buddha spoke in the vernacular of
Magadha (now called Pāli), and not to men generally, but to the first
five would-be members of his Order of monks:—

‘There are two extremes (antā), O monks (Bhikkhus), to be avoided by one
who has given up the world—a life devoted to sensual pleasures (kāma),
which is degrading, common, vulgar, ignoble, profitless; and a life
given to self-mortification (ātma-klamatha)—painful, ignoble,
profitless. There is a middle path, avoiding both extremes—the noble
eightfold path discovered by the Buddha (Tathāgata)—which leads to
insight, to wisdom, to quietude (upaṡama), to knowledge, to perfect
enlightenment (sambodhi), to final extinction of desire and suffering

So far there is nothing very explicit in the discourse. Doubtless such
precepts as ‘virtue is a mean’ and that ‘medio tutissimus ibis’ are
useful, though trite, truths; but the difficulty is to prove that the
Buddha’s eightfold path is really a middle course of the kind described;
for the most fanatical enthusiasts will always regard their own creed,
however extravagant, as moderate.

The Buddha, therefore, goes on to propound what he calls the four noble
truths (ariya-saććāni = ārya-satyāni), which are the key to his whole
doctrine. They may be stated thus:—

1. All existence—that is, existence in any form, whether on earth or in
heavenly spheres—necessarily involves pain and suffering (dukkha). 2.
All suffering is caused by lust (rāga) or craving or desire (taṉhā =
trishṇā, ‘thirst’) of three kinds—for sensual pleasure (kāma), for
wealth (vibhava), and for existence (bhava). 3. Cessation of suffering
is simultaneous with extinction of lust, craving, and desire (p. 139).
4. Extinction of lust, craving, and desire, and cessation of suffering
are accomplished by perseverance in the noble eightfold path (ariyo
aṭṭhangiko maggo), viz. right belief or views (sammā diṭṭhi), right
resolve (saṅkappo), right speech, right work (kammanto), right
livelihood (ājīvo), right exercise or training (vāyāmo = vyāyāma), right
mindfulness (sati, p. 50), right mental concentration (samādhi).

And how is all life mere suffering (I.6.19)?—

  ‘Birth is suffering. Decay is suffering. Illness is suffering. Death
  is suffering. Association with (samprayogo) objects we hate is
  suffering. Separation from objects we love is suffering. Not to obtain
  what we desire is suffering. Clinging (upādāna) to the five elements
  (p. 109) of existence is suffering. Complete cessation of thirst
  (taṇhā) and desires is cessation of suffering. This is the noble truth
  of suffering.’

This sermon (called in Ceylon the first Baṇa = Bhāṇa, ‘recitation,’ p.
70) was addressed to monks, and however unfavourably it must compare
with that of Christ (St. Luke iv. 18), addressed not to monks but to
suffering sinners—and however obvious may be the idea that pain must
result from giving way to lust and the desire for life through countless
existences—is of great interest because it embodies the first teaching
of one, who, if not worthy to be called ‘the Light of Asia,’ and
certainly unworthy of comparison with the ‘Light of the World,’ was at
least one of the world’s most successful teachers.

Bear in mind that, as the result of his earliest meditation (pp. 39, 56,
102), the Buddha made ignorance precede lust as the primary cause of
life’s misery.

Of course the real significance of the whole sermon depends on the
interpretation of the word ‘right’ (sammā = samyak) in describing the
eightfold path, and the plain explanation is that ‘right belief’ means
believing in the Buddha and his doctrine; ‘right resolve’ means
abandoning one’s wife and family as the best method of extinguishing the
fires of the passions; right speech is recitation of the Buddha’s
doctrine; right work (Karmānta) is that of a monk; right livelihood is
living by alms as a monk does; right exercise is suppression of the
individual self; right mindfulness (Smṛiti) is keeping in mind the
impurities and impermanence of the body; right mental concentration is
trance-like quietude.

Mark, too, that in describing the misery of life, association with loved
objects is not mentioned as compensating for the pain of connexion with
hateful objects.

The Buddha’s early disciples were not poor men; for the sixth to be
admitted to the Saṅgha was a high-born youth named Yasa. Then this
youth’s father, a rich merchant, became the first lay-disciple by
repeating the _triple_ formula (pp. 40, 78), and his mother and wife
became the first lay-sisters. Next, four high-born friends of Yasa, and
subsequently fifty more became monks. Thus, not long after the first
sermon, Gautama had sixty enrolled monks; all from the upper classes.

In sending forth these sixty monks to proclaim his own gospel of
deliverance, he addressed them thus:—

‘I am delivered from all fetters (p. 127), human and divine. You too, O
monks, are freed from the same fetters. Go forth and wander everywhere,
out of compassion for the world and for the welfare of gods and men. Go
forth, one by one, in different directions. Preach the doctrine
(Dharmam), salutary (kalyāṇa) in its beginning, middle, and end, in its
spirit (artha) and in its letter (vyañjana). Proclaim a life of perfect
restraint, chastity, and celibacy (brahmaćariyam). I will go also to
preach this doctrine’ (Mahā-vagga I. 11. 1).

When his monk-missionaries had departed, Gautama himself followed,
though not till Māra (p. 41) had again tempted him. Quitting Benares he
journeyed back to Uruvelā, near Gayā. There he first converted thirty
rich young men and then one thousand orthodox Brāhmans, led by Kāṡyapa
and his two brothers, who maintained a sacred fire (‘Brāhmanism,’ p.
364). The fire-chamber was haunted by a fiery snake-demon; so Buddha
asked to occupy the room for a night, fought the serpent and confined
him in his own alms-bowl. Next he worked other miracles (said to have
been 3500 in number), such as causing water to recede, fire-wood to
split, fire-vessels to appear at his word. Then Kāṡyapa and his
brothers, convinced of his miraculous powers, were admitted with the
other Brāhmans to the Saṅgha. Thus Buddha gathered round him about a
thousand monks.

To them on a hill Gayāsīsa (Brahma-yoni), near Gayā, he preached his
‘burning’ fire-sermon (Mahā-v° I. 21): ‘Everything, O monks, is burning
(ādittam = ādīptam). The eye is burning; visible things are burning. The
sensation produced by contact with visible things is burning—burning
with the fire of lust (desire), enmity and delusion (rāgagginā dosagginā
mohagginā), with birth, decay (jarayā), death, grief, lamentation, pain,
dejection (domanassehi), and despair (upāyāsehi). The ear is burning,
sounds are burning; the nose is burning, odours are burning; the tongue
is burning, tastes are burning; the body is burning, objects of sense
are burning. The mind is burning, thoughts are burning. All are burning
with the fire of passions and lusts. Observing this, O monks, a wise and
noble disciple becomes weary of (or disgusted with) the eye, weary of
visible things, weary of the ear, weary of sounds, weary of odours,
weary of tastes, weary of the body, weary of the mind. Becoming weary,
he frees himself from passions and lusts. When free, he realizes that
his object is accomplished, that he has lived a life of restraint and
chastity (brahma-ćariyam), that re-birth is ended.’

It is said that this fire-sermon—which is a key to the meaning of
Nirvāṇa—was suggested by the sight of a conflagration. It was Gautama’s
custom to impress ideas on his hearers by pointing to visible objects.
He compares all life to a flame; and the gist of the discourse is the
duty of extinguishing the fire of lusts, and with it the fire of all
existence, and the importance of monkhood and celibacy for the
attainment of this end.

Contrast in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount the words addressed to the
multitude (not to monks), ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall
see God.’

The Buddha and his followers next proceeded to Rāja-gṛiha. Among them
were two, afterwards called ‘chief disciples’ (Agra-ṡrāvakas), Sāriputta
and Moggallāna (or Maudgalyāyana), who died before the Buddha, and
sixteen leaders among the so-called eighty ‘_great_ disciples’
(Mahā-ṡrāvakas); the chief of these being Kāṡyapa (or Mahā-kāṡyapa),
Upāli, and Ānanda (a cousin), besides Anuruddha (another cousin), and
Kātyāyana. Of course among the eighty are reckoned the five original
Benares converts. At a later time two chief female disciples
(Agra-ṡrāvikās) named Khemā and Uppala-vaṇṇā (Utpala-varṇā) were added
(see p. 86). Each leading disciple was afterwards called Sthavira, ‘an
elder,’ or Mahā-sthavira, ‘great elder’ (Pāli Thera, Mahāthera; fem.
Therī). Mark, too, that Bimbi-sāra, king of Magadha, and Prasenajit
(Pasenadi), king of Kosala, were Gautama’s lay-disciples and constant

It was not long before the Buddha’s followers were more formally
incorporated into a monastic Order (Saṅgha), and rules of discipline
drawn up (see pp. 61, 72, 73, 83). And doubtless the success of Buddhism
was due to the carrying out of this idea of establishing a brotherhood
offering a haven of rest to all.

About forty-five years elapsed between Gautama’s attainment of
Buddhahood and his death. During that period he continued teaching and
itinerating with his disciples; only going ‘into retreat’ during the
rains. A list of 45 places of residence is given. He seems to have
resided oftenest at Ṡrāvastī (p. 21) in the monastery Jetavana given by
Anātha-piṇḍika; but the whole region between Ṡrāvastī and Rāja-gṛiha (p.
29), for nearly 300 miles, was the scene of his itineration. Favourite
resorts near Rāja-gṛiha were the ‘Vulture-peak’ and Bambu-grove
(Veḷu-vana); but continual itineration was one chief means of
propagating Buddhism.

It is said that his death occurred at Kuṡi-nagara[16] (Kusinārā), a town
about eighty miles east of Kapila-vastu—the place of his birth—when he
was eighty years of age, and probably about the year 420 B.C.[17]

The story is that Gautama died from eating too much pork (or dried
boar’s flesh[18]). As this is somewhat derogatory to his dignity it is
not likely to have been fabricated. A fabrication, too, would scarcely
make him guilty of the inconsistency of saying ‘Kill no living thing,’
and yet setting an example of eating flesh-meat.

These were his words when he felt his end near:—

‘O Ānanda, I am now grown old, and full of years, and my journey is
drawing to its close; I have reached eighty years—my sum of days—and
just as a worn-out cart can only with much care be made to move along,
so my body can only be kept going with difficulty. It is only when I
become plunged in meditation that my body is at ease. In future be ye to
yourselves your own light, your own refuge; seek no other refuge. Hold
fast to the truth as your lamp. Hold fast to the truth as your refuge;
look not to any one but yourselves as a refuge’ (Mahā-parinibbāna-sutta
II. 32, 33).

Afterwards he gave a summary of every monk’s duties, thus:—‘Which then,
O monks, are the truths (=the seven jewels, p. 127) it behoves you to
spread abroad, out of pity for the world, for the good of gods and men?
They are: 1. the four earnest reflections (Smṛiti, Sati-paṭṭhāna, on the
impurities of the body, on the impermanence of the sensations, of the
thoughts, of the conditions of existence, p. 127); 2. the four right
exertions (Sammappadhāna, viz. to prevent demerit from arising, get rid
of it when arisen, produce merit, increase it); 3. the four paths to
supernatural power (Iddhi-pāda, viz. will, effort, thought, intense
thought); 4. the five forces (Pañća-bala, viz. faith, energy,
recollection, self-concentration, reason); 5. the proper use of the five
organs of sense; 6. the seven ‘limbs’ of knowledge (Bodhy-aṅga, viz.
recollection, investigation, energy, joy, serenity, concentration of
mind, equanimity); 7. the noble ‘eightfold path’ (p. 44). See
Mahā-parinibbāna III. 65.

Then shortly before his decease, he said, ‘It may be, Ānanda, that in
some of you the thought may arise:—The words of our Teacher are ended;
we have lost our Master. But it is not thus. The truths and the rules of
the Order, which I have taught and preached, let these be your teacher,
when I am gone’ (VI. 1).

‘Behold now, O monks, I exhort you:—Everything that cometh into being
passeth away; work out your own perfection with diligence’ (III. 66).

Not long after his last utterances the Buddha, who had before through
intense meditation attained Nirvāṇa or extinction of the fire of
desires, passed through the four stages of meditation (p. 209) till the
moment came for his Pari-nirvāṇa, whereby the fire of life also was
extinguished. A couch had been placed for him between two Ṡāl trees (p.
23), with the head towards the north. In sculptures he is represented as
lying on his right side at the moment of death, and images of him in
this position are highly venerated.

The chief men of Kuṡi-nagara burnt his body with the ceremonies usual at
the death of a Ćakravartin or Universal Ruler, which the Buddha claimed
to be.

Then his ashes were distributed among eight princes, who built Stūpas
over them (Buddha-vaṉsa 28).

A legend states that when the Buddha died there was an earthquake. Then
the gods Brahmā and Indra appeared and the latter exclaimed: ‘Transient
are all the elements of being; birth and decay are their nature; they
are born and dissolved; then only is happiness when they have ceased to
be’ (Mahā-p° VI. 16).

Contrast with Buddha’s last words the last words of Christ: ‘Father,
into Thy hands I commend my Spirit.’

A greater contrast than that presented by the account of the Buddha’s
death and the Gospel narrative of the death of Christ can scarcely be

Of course as a result of discourses during forty-five years, a large
number were gathered into Gautama’s monastic Order. His first aim was
the founding of this Order, and his chief sermons were to his monks; but
he accepted all men and ultimately multitudes attached themselves to him
as lay-brethren (p. 87).

In fact Gautama’s doctrine of a universal brotherhood, open to all,
constituted the corner-stone of his popularity. He spoke to them in
their own provincial dialect, which could not have differed much from
the Pāli of the texts—and he enforced his words by dialogues, parables,
fables, reiterations, and repetitions. Probably he was the first
introducer of real preaching into India, and by his practical method he
seemed to bring down knowledge from the clouds to every man’s door.

The following parable is an example: ‘As the peasant sows the seed but
cannot say: the grain shall swell to-day, to-morrow germinate, so also
it is with the disciple; he must obey the precepts, practise meditation,
study the doctrine; he cannot say to-day or to-morrow, I shall be
delivered. Again: as when a herd of deer lives in a forest a man comes
who opens for them a false path and the deer suffer hurt; and another
comes who opens a safe path and the deer thrive; so when men live among
pleasures the evil one comes and opens the false eightfold path. Then
comes the perfect one and opens the safe eightfold path of right belief,
etc.’ (p. 44, Oldenberg, 191, 192).

Six rival heretical teachers are alluded to. His chief opponent was his
cousin Devadatta, who set up a school of his own, and is said to have
plotted against the Buddha’s life. His efforts failed (Ćulla-vagga VII),
and he himself came to an untimely end. Possibly he may have belonged to
the rival Jaina sect (Nigaṇṭha) of naked ascetics, of which the great
leader was Vardhamāna Mahāvīra Nāta-putta (=Jñāti-putra).

Gautama’s teaching gained the day. It claimed universality, and was
aptly symbolized by a wheel rolling among all alike. Yet at first it had
no attractions for the poor and the child-like.

By degrees, a fuller system, adapted in an ascending scale to laymen,
novices, monks, nuns, and Arhats, was developed—a system which had its
abstruse doctrines suited to men of philosophical minds, as well as its
plain practical side. This constituted the Buddhist Dharma, which was
ultimately collected in certain sacred books to be next described.

                              LECTURE III.
         _The Law (Dharma) and Sacred Scriptures of Buddhism._

Probably most educated persons are aware that Buddhists have their own
sacred scriptures, like Hindūs, Pārsīs, Confucianists, Muhammadans,
Jews, and Christians. It is not, however, so generally known that in one
important particular these Buddhist scriptures, constituting the
Tri-piṭaka (p. 61), differ wholly from other sacred books. They lay no
claim to supernatural inspiration. Whatever doctrine is found in them
was believed to be purely human—that is, was held to be the product of
man’s own natural faculties working naturally.

The Tri-piṭaka was never like the Veda of the Brāhmans, believed to be
the very ‘breath of God’[19]; the same care, therefore, was not taken to
preserve every sound; and when at last it was written down the result
was a more scholastic production than the Veda.

Moreover, it was not composed in the Sanskṛit of the Veda and Ṡāstras—in
the sacred language, the very grammar and alphabet of which were
supposed to come from heaven—but in the vernacular of the part of India
in which Buddhism flourished. Indeed, it is a significant fact that
while the great sages of Sanskṛit literature and philosophy, such as
Vyāsa, Kumārila, and Ṡaṅkara, in all probability spoke and taught in
Sanskṛit[20], the Founder of Buddhism preferred to communicate his
precepts to the people in their own vernacular, afterwards called Pāli.
Nevertheless, he never composed a single book of his own. In all
probability he never wrote down any of his own precepts; for if writing
was then invented, it was little practised, through the absence of
suitable materials. This is the more remarkable as Buddhism ultimately
became an instrument for introducing literary culture among uncivilized

All that Gautama did was to preach his Dharma, ‘Law,’ during forty-five
years of itineration, and oral teaching. It was not till some time after
his death that his sayings were collected (p. 97), and still longer
before they were written down. Itineration, recitation of the Law, and
preaching were the chief instruments for the propagation of Buddhism.

At present the Buddhist Canon is about as extensive as the
Brāhmanical[21], and in both cases we are left in doubt as to the date
when the books were composed. How, then, did their composition take

All that can be said is that at three successive epochs after the
Buddha’s death, three gatherings of his followers were held for the
purpose of collecting his sayings and settling the true Canon, and that
a fourth assembly took place much later in the North.

The first of these assemblages can scarcely with any fitness be called a
Council. Nor can the fact of its meeting together in any formal manner
be established on any trustworthy historical basis. It is said that a
number of monks (about five hundred, called Mahā-sthavirāḥ, ‘the great
elders,’ Pāli Mahā-therā) assembled in a cave called Sattapaṇṇi, near
the then capital city of Magadha—Rāja-gṛiha, now Rāj-gīr—under the
sanction of king Ajāta-ṡatru, during the rainy season immediately
succeeding the death of Gautama, to think over, put together, and
arrange the sayings of their Master, but not, so far as we know, to
write them down.

There, in all likelihood, they made the first step towards a methodical
arrangement. But even then it is doubtful whether any systematic
collections were composed. The assembled monks chose Kāṡyapa (or
Mahā-kāṡyapa, p. 47), the most esteemed of all the Buddha’s surviving
disciples, as their leader, and chanted the Thera-vāda (Sthavira-v°),
‘words of the elders,’ or precepts of their Founder preserved in the
memory of the older men; the rules of discipline (Vinaya) being recited
by Upāli[22], and the ethical precepts (Sūtra), which constituted at
first the principal Dharma[23] (_par excellence_, in contradistinction
to the Vinaya), being imparted by Gautama’s favorite Ānanda (p. 47);
while the philosophical doctrines—then undeveloped—were communicated by
the president, Kāṡyapa. If any arrangement was then made it was probably
in two collections—the Vinaya and Dharma (say about 400 B.C.)

In regard to the Dharma, two main lines were, in all likelihood, laid
down as the basis of all early teaching. The first consisted of the four
sublime verities, as they are called—that is, of the four fundamental
truths originally taught by the Founder of Buddhism, namely, the
inevitable inherence of suffering in every form of life, the connexion
of all suffering with indulgence of desires, especially with craving for
continuity of existence, the possibility of the cessation of suffering
by restraining lusts and desires, and the eightfold course leading to
that cessation (see p. 44).

The second line of doctrine probably consisted of an outline of the
twelve-linked chain of causality (nidāna), which traced back all
suffering to a still deeper origin than mere lusts and desires—namely,
to ignorance (p. 103).

It is not, however, at all likely that any philosophical or metaphysical
doctrines were clearly and methodically formulated at the earliest
assembly which took place soon after Gautama’s death. It is far more
probable that the first outcome of the gathering together of the
Buddha’s disciples was simply the enforcing of some strict rules of
discipline for the Order of monks, and this may have taken place soon
after 400 B.C.

After a time, certain relaxations of these rules or unauthorized
departures from them (ten in number, such as reception of money-gifts,
eating a second meal in the afternoon, drinking stimulating beverages,
if pure as water in appearance[24]), began to be common. The question as
to whether liberty should be allowed in these points, _especially in the
first_, shook the very foundations of the community. In fact the whole
society became split up into two contending parties, the strict and the
lax, and a second Council became necessary for the restoration of order.
All ten points were discussed at this Council, said to have consisted of
700 monks and held at Vaiṡālī (Vesālī, now Besārh), 27 miles north of
Patnā, about 380 B.C.[25] The discussions were protracted for eight
months, and all the ten unlawful relaxations were finally prohibited.

It has been observed that this second Council stands in a relation to
Buddhism very similar to that which the Council of Nicæa bears to

The exact date, however, of either the first or second assemblies cannot
be determined with precision.

Not long afterwards occurred the political revolution caused by the
well-known Ćandra-gupta (= Sandra-kottus)—sometimes called the first
Aṡoka (or disparagingly, Kālāṡoka). This man, who was a low-born Ṡūdra,
usurped the throne and founded the Maurya dynasty, after killing king
Nanda and taking possession of Pāṭaliputra (or Palibothra, now Patnā,
the then metropolis of Magadha or Behār), about 315 B.C. He extended the
kingdom of Magadha over all Hindūstān, and became so powerful that when
Alexander’s successor, Seleukos Nikator (whose reign commenced about 312
B.C.), invaded India from his kingdom of Bactria, so effectual was the
resistance offered by Ćandra-gupta, that the Greek thought it politic to
form an alliance with the Hindū king, and sent his own countryman,
Megasthenes, as an ambassador to reside at his court.

To this circumstance we owe the earliest authentic account of Indian
customs and usages, by an intelligent observer who was not a native; and
Megasthenes’ narrative, preserved by Strabo, furnishes a basis on which
a fair inference may be founded that Brāhmanism and Buddhism existed
side by side in India on amicable terms in the fourth and third
centuries B.C. There is even ground for believing that king Ćandra-gupta
himself favoured the Buddhists, though outwardly he never renounced his
faith in Brāhmanism.

Ćandra-gupta’s reign is thought to have lasted until 291 B.C., and that
of his son and successor, Vindusāra, from 291 to (say) about 260 B.C.
Then came Ćandra-gupta’s grandson, the celebrated Aṡoka (sometimes
called Dharmāṡoka), who, though of Ṡūdra origin, was perhaps the
greatest Hindū monarch of India.

It was about this period that Gautama Buddha’s followers began to
develope his doctrines, and to make additions to them in such a way that
the Abhi-dharma or ‘further Dharma’ had to be added to the Ṡūtra which
constituted the original Dharma (p. 56). Even in Gautama’s time there
were great dissensions. Afterwards differences of opinion increased, so
that before long eighteen schools of schismatic thought (p. 158) were
established. The resulting controversies were very disturbing, and a
third Council became necessary. It consisted of a thousand oldest
members of the Order, and was held in the 16th or 17th year of Aṡoka’s
reign at Patnā (Pāṭali-putra), about 244-242 B.C.

This third Council was, perhaps, the most important; for through its
deliberations the decision was arrived at to propagate Buddhism by
missions. Hence missionaries, supported by king Aṡoka (see p. 66), were
sent in all directions; the first being Mahinda (Mahendra), the king’s
son, who carried the doctrine into Ceylon.

Dr. Oldenberg has shown that in a part of the Tri-piṭaka now extant, the
first and second Councils are mentioned but not the third. The plain
inference is that the portion of the Buddhist Canon in which the second
Council is described cannot be older than that Council. Yet in all
likelihood a great part of the Vinaya (including the Pātimokkha and the
Khandhaka, p. 62) was composed before the second Council—possibly as
early as about 400 B.C.—and the rest of the Canon during the succeeding
century and a half before the third Council—that is, from 400 to 250
B.C. It was composed in the then vernacular language of Magadha
(Māgadhī), where all three Councils were held.

It seems, however, probable that in each district to which Buddhism
spread the doctrine of its founder was taught in the peculiar dialect
understood by the inhabitants. It even appears likely that when Gautama
himself lived in Kosala (Oudh) he preached in the dialect of that
province just as he taught in Māgadhī when he resided in Magadha. The
Ćulla-vagga (V. 33. I) makes him direct that his precepts should be
learnt by every convert in the provincial dialect, which doubtless
varied slightly everywhere. In time it became necessary to give fixity
to the sacred texts, and the form they finally assumed may have
represented the prevalent dialect of the time, and not necessarily the
original Māgadhī Prākṛit[26]. This final form of the language was called
Pāli[27] (or Tanti), and no doubt differs from the earlier Aṡoka
inscription dialect, and from Māgadhī Prākṛit as now known.

Some think that the Pāli resulted from an artificial infusion of
Sanskṛit. It is said that nearly two-fifths of the Pāli vocabulary
consists of unmodified Sanskṛit.

At any rate, it was in this language that the Buddhist Law was carried
(probably by Mahendra) into Ceylon, and the whole Canon is thought by
some to have been handed down orally till it was written down there
about 85 B.C. Oral transmission, we know, was common in India, but if
edicts were written by Aṡoka (p. 67), why should not the Law have been
written down also?

As, however, Pāli was not spoken in Ceylon, the Pāli commentaries
brought by Mahendra were translated by him into Sinhalese, and the Pāli
originals being lost, were not retranslated into Pāli till about the
beginning of the fifth century of our era.

Turning next to the final arrangement of the Pāli Canon, we find that it
resolved itself into three collections (called Tri-piṭaka, Pāli
Tipiṭaka, ‘Three baskets,’ the word piṭaka, however, not occurring in
the early texts), namely: 1. Yinaya, ‘discipline’ for the Order; 2.
Sūtra-(Pāli Sutta), ‘precepts,’ which at first constituted the principal
Dharma, or moral Law (p. 56); 3. Abhi-dharma (Abhi-dhamma), ‘further
Dharma,’ or additional precepts relative to the law and philosophy.

This division was not logical, as each collection may treat of the
subjects belonging to the others.

Taking, then, in the first place, the Vinaya or discipline portion of
the Buddhist bible, we ought to observe that a portion of it (the
Pātimokkha) is not only the oldest, but also the most important in its
bearing on the whole theory of Buddhism. For, as we shall point out more
fully hereafter, the Buddha’s paramount aim was to convince others that
to get rid of ignorance, gain knowledge, practise morality, and obtain
deliverance, it was incumbent on a wise man to renounce married life and
become a member of a monastic Order.

Pure Buddhism, in fact, was pure monachism—implying celibacy, poverty,
and mendicancy—and this could not be maintained without rules for
discipline and outward conduct, which, as adopted by the Buddha, were
simply a modification of the rules for the two religious orders of the
Brahma-ćārī and Sannyāsī, already existing in Brāhmanism.

With regard to the classification of the Vinaya rules, they were divided
into three sets: _a._ the Khandhaka, in two collections called
Mahā-vagga (Mahā-varga), ‘great section,’ and Ćulla-vagga, ‘minor
section’ (vagga = varga); _b._ the Vibhaṅga (including the two works
called Pārājika and Pāćittiya), or a systematic arrangement and
explanation of certain ancient ‘release-precepts’ (pratimoksha-sūtra,
Pāli Pātimokkha) for setting free, through penances, any who had
offended against the Order; _c._ Parivāra-pāṭha, or a comparatively
modern summary of the above two divisions.

Mark, however, that the Vinaya abounds in details of the life and
teaching of Gautama.

The second Piṭaka, called Sutta (Sūtra), ‘precepts,’ contains the
ethical doctrines which at first constituted the whole Buddhist Law. It
consists of five Nikāyas, or collections, viz. _a._ the Dīgha, or
collection of 34 long suttas, among which is the Mahā-parinibbāna-sutta
(one of the oldest parts of the Canon after the Pātimokkha); _b._ the
Majjhima, or collection of 152 suttas of middling length; _c._ the
Saṃyutta, or collection of 55 groups of joined suttas, some of them very
short; _d._ the Aṅguttara, or miscellaneous suttas in divisions, which
go on increasing by one (aṅga); _e._ the Khuddaka, or minor collection,
consisting of fifteen works.

According to one school, this fifth Nikāya is more correctly referred to
the Abhi-dhamma Piṭaka. In character, however, it conforms more to the
Sutta. Of its fifteen works, perhaps the most important are the
following six:—

The Khuddaka-pāṭha, ‘short readings;’ the Dhamma-pada, ‘precepts of the
Law’ (or ‘verses of the Law,’ or ‘footsteps of the Law’); the Jātaka
(with their commentaries), a series of stories relating to about 550[28]
previous births of the Buddha (p. 111), which have formed the basis of
many stories in the Pañća-tantra, fables of Æsop, etc.; the
Sutta-nipāta, ‘collection of discourses;’ the Thera-gāthā ( =
Sthavira-g°), ‘verses or stanzas by elder monks;’ Therī-gāthā, ‘verses
by elder nuns.’

The other nine are the Udāna, containing 82 short suttas and joyous
utterances of the Buddha at crises of his life; the Itivuttaka, ‘thus it
was said’ ( = ity ukta), 110 sayings of the Buddha; the Vimāna-vatthu,
on the mansions of the gods (which move about at will and sometimes
descend on earth); the Peta-vatthu ( = Preta-vastu, Peta standing for
Preta and Pitṛi), on departed spirits; the Niddesa, a commentary on the
Sutta-nipāta; the Paṭi-sambhidā, on the supernatural knowledge of
Arhats; the Apadāna (Sanskṛit Avadāna), ‘stories about the achievements’
of Arhats; the Buddha-vaṉsa, or history of the 24 preceding Buddhas (the
Dīgha mentions only six) and of Gautama; the Ćariyā-piṭaka, ‘treasury of
acts,’ giving stories based on the Jātakas, describing Gautama’s
acquisition of the ten transcendent virtues (p. 128) in former births.

The works included in this Sutta-piṭaka frequently take the form of
conversations on doctrine and morality, between Gautama, or one of his
chief disciples, and some inquirer. As constituting the ethical Dharma,
they are the most interesting portion of the Canon.

With regard to the third Piṭaka, called Abhi-dhamma (Abbhi-dharma,
‘further dharma’), which is held by modern scholars to be of later
origin and supplementary to the Sutta (p. 62), it contains seven prose
works[29]. Moreover, it was once thought to relate entirely to
metaphysics and philosophy; but this is now held to be an error, for all
seven works treat of a great variety of subjects, including discipline
and ethics. Metaphysical discussions occur, but it is probable that
originally Buddha kept clear of metaphysics (see p. 98).

Besides the numerous works we have thus described as constituting the
Tri-piṭaka or three collections of works of the Southern Buddhists,
there are the Pāli commentaries called Aṭṭha-kathā (Artha-kathā,
‘telling of meanings[30]’), which were translated into Sinhalese,
according to tradition, by Mahendra himself. Afterwards the original
Pāli text was lost and some of the commentaries were retranslated into
Pāli by Buddha-ghosha, ‘he who had the very voice of Buddha,’ at the end
of the fourth and beginning of the fifth century of our era.

The Mahā-vaṉṡa or ‘history of the great families of Ceylon,’ a
well-known work (written in Pāli by a monk named Mahā-nāma in the fifth
century and translated by Turnour), gives an account of this writer[31].
It says that a Brāhman youth, born near Buddha-Gayā in Magadha, had
achieved great celebrity as a disputant in Brāhmanical philosophy. This
youth was converted by a Buddhist sage in India, and induced to enter
the Buddhist monastic Order. He soon became renowned for his eloquence,
and was on that account called Buddha-ghosha. He wrote a commentary,
called Aṭṭha-sālinī, on the Dhamma-saṅgani, a work belonging to the
Abhi-dharma. He also wrote a most valuable Pāli compendium of Buddhist
doctrine called Visuddhi-magga, ‘path of purity,’ and a commentary on
the Dharma-pada containing many parables. He went to Ceylon about A.D.
430 for the purpose of retranslating the Sinhalese commentaries into
Pāli. His literary reputation stands very high in that island, and he
was instrumental in spreading Buddhism throughout Burma.

It may be noted that the two important Pāli works, Mahā-vaṉṡa and
Dīpa-vaṉṡa (Dvīpa-vaṉṡa), perhaps the oldest extant histories of Ceylon,
are also fairly authentic sources for Buddhistic history before Christ.

Turn we now to the Mahāyāna or ‘Great Vehicle.’ This cannot be said to
possess any true Canon distinct from the Tri-piṭaka, though certain
Nepalese Sanskṛit works, composed in later times, are held to be
canonical by Northern Buddhists.

To understand this part of the subject we must revert to the great king
Aṡoka. It is usual to call this second and more celebrated Aṡoka the
Constantine of Buddhism. Being of Ṡūdra origin he was the more inclined
to favour the popular teaching of Gautama, and, as he was the first king
who adopted Buddhism openly (about 257 B.C.) he doubtless did for
Buddhism very much what Constantine did for Christianity.

The Buddhist system then spread over the whole kingdom of Aṡoka, and
thence over other portions of India, and even to some outlying
countries. For gradually during this period most of the petty princes of
India, from Peshāwar and Kashmīr to the river Kistna, and from Surat to
Bengal and Orissa, if not actually brought under subjection to the king
of Magadha, were compelled to acknowledge his paramount authority.

This is proved by Aṡoka’s edicts, which are inscribed on rocks and stone
pillars[32] (the earliest dating from about 251 B.C.), and are found in
frontier districts separated from each other by enormous distances.

These inscriptions are of the greatest interest and value, as furnishing
the first authentic records of Indian history. They are written in a
more ancient language than the Pāli of Ceylon, and in at least three
different dialects. Ten of the most important are found on six rocks and
five pillars (Lāṭs), though numerous other monuments are scattered over
Northern India, from the Indian Ocean to the Bay of Bengal, from the
Vindhya range on the south to the Khaibar Pass on the north[33].

In these proclamations and edicts (one of which was addressed to the
third Buddhist Council), king Aṡoka, who calls himself Priya-darṡī (Pāli
Piya-dassī), issues various orders. He prohibits the slaughter of
animals for food or sacrifice, gives directions for what may be called
the first hospitals, i. e. for treating men and even animals medically,
appoints missionaries for the propagation of Buddhist doctrines,
inculcates peace and mercy, charity and toleration, morality and
self-denial, and what is still more remarkable, enjoins quinquennial
periods of national humiliation and confession of sins by all classes,
accompanied by a re-proclamation of the Buddha’s precepts. Aṡoka, in
fact, became so zealous a friend of Buddhism, that he is said to have
maintained 64,000 Buddhist monks in and around the country of Magadha,
which was on that account called the land of monasteries (Vihāra = the
modern Bihār or Behār).

No doubt it was Aṡoka’s propagation of Buddhism by missions in various
countries—where it came in contact with and partly adopted various
already existing indigenous faiths and superstitions—that led to the
ultimate separation of the Buddhist system into the two great divisions
of Southern and Northern.

Indeed, the formation of a Northern School, as distinct from a Southern,
became inevitable after the conversion of Kanishka, the Indo-Scythian
king of Kashmīr, who came from the North, and became a zealous Buddhist.
He probably reigned in the second half of the first century (A.D.), and
extended his dominions as far as Gujarāt, Sindh, and even Mathurā (see
p. 167, note 2).

It was during Kanishka’s reign that a fourth Council[34] was held at
Jālandhara in Kashmīr, under Pārṡva and Vasu-mitra. It consisted of 500
monks, who composed three Sanskṛit works of the nature of commentaries
(Upadeṡa, Vinaya-vibhāshā, Abhidharma-vibhāshā) on the three Pāli
Piṭakas. These were the earliest books of the Mahā-yāna or Northern
School, which afterwards formulated its more developed doctrines on the
Indus, while the Pāli Canon of the South represented the true doctrine
promulgated on the Ganges.

Kashmīr was a centre of Sanskṛit learning, and Kanishka, who was a
patron of it, became to Northern Buddhism what Aṡoka had been to
Southern. Hence in process of time other Northern Buddhist books were
written in Sanskṛit, with occasional Gāthās or stanzas in an irregular
dialect, half Sanskṛit, half Prākṛit.

It is usual to enumerate nine Nepalese canonical scriptures
(Dharmas):—1.Prajñā pāramitā, ‘transcendent knowledge,’ or an abstract
of metaphysical and mystic philosophy; 2. Gaṇḍa-vyūha; 3.
Daṡa-bhūmīṡ-vara (describing the ten stages leading to Buddhahood); 4.
Samādhi-rāja; 5. Laṅkāvatāra; 6. Saddharma-puṇḍarīka, ‘Lotus of the True
Law;’ 7. Tathāgaṭa-guhyaka (containing the secret Tantric doctrines); 8.
Lalita-vistara (giving a legendary life of Buddha); 9. Suvarṇa-prabhāsa.
The eighth is probably as old as the 2nd century of our era, and next
comes the sixth. Tibetan translations were made of all of them. These
extend to 100 volumes and are collectively called Ka’gyur or Kan’gyur
(Kanjur). We owe our knowledge of these to the indefatigable Hungarian
traveller, Alexander Csoma de Körös.

Copies of the Sanskrit works were brought to England by Mr. B. H.
Hodgson. The sixth has been translated by Burnouf and recently by H.
Kern. Dr. Rājendralāla-mitra has edited the eighth. As to the
non-canonical works M. Senart has edited part of the Mahā-vastu, and
Professor E. B. Cowell and Mr. R. A. Neil, the Divyāvadāna. They contain
interesting old legends—some about the achievements of Aṡoka, some about
Buddha himself, some perhaps from lost Vinaya books.

As to the Pāli written character, it is a question whether that current
in the holy land of Buddhism, or in Ceylon, or in Siam (Kambodia), or in
Burma—that is, Devanāgarī, Sinhalese, Kambodian, or Burmese—should be
used. Many think Burmese most suited to it, and in Europe the Roman
character is preferred.

It should be added that the recitation (Bhāṇa, Sanskṛit root Bhaṇ, ‘to
speak;’ in Sinhalese spelt Baṇa) of the Law is one of the principal
duties of monks, the reciter being called Bhāṇaka. A peculiar mode of
intoning is called Sara-bhañña (sara = svara). The Buddha, they say, is
not extinct, for he lives in the Dharma and in the Saṅgha, in the Law
and in the monks who recite it. Hence the importance of recitation in
the Buddhist system (p. 84).

                              LECTURE IV.
                _The Saṅgha or Buddhist Order of Monks._

Perhaps the first point made clear by the study of the Buddhist
Scriptures is, that the Buddha never seriously thought of founding a new
system in direct opposition to Brāhmanism and caste. Even his Order or
fraternity of Monks, which attained a world-wide celebrity and spread
through a great part of Asia, was a mere imitation of an institution
already established in India. He himself was a Hindū of the Hindūs, and
he remained a Hindū to the end. His very name, Gautama, connected him
with one of the most celebrated Hindū sages, and was significant of his
original connexion with orthodox Brāhmanism. It is true he was a
determined opponent of all Brāhmanical sacerdotalism and ceremonialism,
and of all theories about the supernatural character of the Vedas (see
p. 53); but, being himself a Hindū, he never required his adherents to
make any formal renunciation of Hindūism, as if they had been converted
to an entirely new faith; just as, if I may say so with all reverence,
the Founder of the Christian Church, being Himself a Jew, never required
His followers to give up every Jewish usage.

Nor had the Buddha any idea of courting popularity as a champion of
social equality and denouncer of all distinctions of rank and ancient
traditions—a kind of Tribune of the people, whose mission was to protect
them from the tyranny of the upper classes.

There was, no doubt, at one time a prevalent opinion among scholars that
Gautama aimed at becoming a great social reformer. It was generally
supposed that he began by posing before his fellow-countrymen in a
somewhat _ad captandum_ manner as a popular leader and liberator, whose
mission was to deliver them from the tyranny of caste. But such an
opinion is now known to be based on mistaken assumptions. What ought
rather to be claimed for him is that he was the first to establish a
universal brotherhood (Saṅgha) of cœnobite monks, open to all persons of
all ranks. In other words, he was the first founder of what may be
called a kind of universal monastic communism (for Buddhist monks never,
as a rule, lived alone), and the first to affirm that true
enlightenment—the knowledge of the highest path leading to saintship—was
not confined to the Brāhmans, but open to all the members of all castes.
This was the only sense in which he abolished caste. His true followers,
however, constituted a caste of their own, distinguished from the laity.
From the want of a more suitable term we are forced to call them

And this Order of monks was not a hierarchy. It had no ecclesiastical
organization under any centralized authority. Its first Head, Gautama,
appointed no successor. It was not the depository of theological
learning. Nor was it a mediatorial caste of priests, claiming to mediate
between earth and heaven. It ought not to be called a Church, and it had
no rite of ordination in the true sense. It was a brotherhood, in which
all were under certain obligations of celibacy, moral restraint,
fasting, poverty, itineration and confession to each other—all were
dominated by one idea, and pledged to the propagation of the one
doctrine, that all life was in itself misery, and to be got rid of by a
long course of discipline, as not worth living, whether on earth or in
heaven, whether in present or future bodies. The founding of a monastic
brotherhood of this kind which made personal extinction its final aim,
and might be co-extensive with the whole world, was the Buddha’s
principal object.

In point of fact, the so-called enlightenment of mind which entitled him
to Buddhahood, led him at the early stage of his career into no abstruse
or transcendental region of thought, but took a very practical
direction. It led him to see that an association of monks offering
equality of condition to high and low, rich and poor, and a haven of
refuge to all oppressed by the troubles of life, would soon become
popular. His Order started with first ten, then fifty, then sixty
original members (see p. 45), but its growth soon surpassed all
anticipations, and its ramifications extended to distant countries,
where, like the branches of the Indian fig-tree, they sent down roots to
form vigorous independent plants, even after the decay of the parent
stem. On this account it was called the fraternity of the four quarters
(Ćātuddisa, Mahā-vagga VIII. 27. 5) of the globe.

In brief, a carefully regulated monastic brotherhood, which opened its
arms to all comers of all ranks, and enforced on its members the duty of
extending its boundaries by itinerancy, and by constantly rolling onward
the wheel of the true doctrine (Law), constituted in its earliest days
the very essence, the very backbone of Buddhism, without which it could
never have been propagated, nor even have held its own.

But we repeat that in this, his main design, Gautama was after all no
innovator; no introducer of novel ideas.

Monachism had always been a favourite adjunct of the Brāhminanical
system, and respect for monastic life had taken deep root among the
people. Thus we find it laid down in its most authoritative exponent,
Manu’s Law-book (Book VI), that every twice-born man was bound to be
first an unmarried student (Brahma-ćārī), next a married householder,
and then at the end of a long life he was to abandon wife and family and
become a Sannyāsī, ‘ascetic,’ or Bhikshu, ‘mendicant,’ wandering from
door to door. In fact, it was through these very states of life that
Gautama himself, as a Kshatriya, was theoretically bound to have passed.

Hindū monks, therefore, were numerous before Buddhism. They belonged to
various sects, and took various vows of self-torture, of silence, of
fasting, of poverty, of mendicancy, of celibacy, of abandoning caste,
rank, wife and family. Accordingly they had various names. The Brāhman
was called a Sannyāsī, ‘one who gives up the world.’ Others were called
Vairāgī, ‘free from affections;’ Yogī, ‘seeking mystic union with the
Deity;’ Dig-ambara, ‘sky-clothed,’ ‘naked;’ Tapasvī, ‘practising
austerities;’ Yati, ‘restraining desires;’ Jitendriya, ‘conquering
passions;’ Ṡramaṇa, ‘undergoing discipline;’ Bhikshu, ‘living by alms;’
Nirgrantha, ‘without ties.’ Such names prove that asceticism was an
ancient institution. The peculiarity about Gautama’s teaching in regard
to monachism was that he discouraged[36] solitary asceticism, severe
austerities, and irrevocable vows, though he enjoined moral restraint in
celibate fraternities, conformity to rules of discipline, upright
conduct, and confession to each other.


 Seated, as a Brāhman Sannyāsī, in meditation (described at p. xiii of
                             the Preface).

His usual mode of designating his monks was by the old term Bhikshu
(Pāli Bhikkhu), ‘living by alms,’ to indicate their poverty. They were
also called Ṡrāmaṇera and Ṡramaṇa (Pāli Sāmaṇera, Samaṇa), as subject to
monastic discipline[37]. Those who entered the stream leading to
Arhatship (p. 132) were called Ārya.

The term Ṡrāvaka, ‘hearers,’ seems to have been used in the Hīna-yāna
system to denote great disciples only, and especially those ‘great
disciples’ (p. 47) of Gautama who heard the Law from his own lips, and
were afterwards called Sthaviras and became Arhats (p. 133). They had
also the title Āyushmat, ‘possessing life.’

We perceive again the close connexion between Brāhmanism and Buddhism;
for clearly the Brahma-ćārī and Sannyāsī of the one became the Ṡrāmaṇera
or junior monk, and Ṡramaṇa or senior monk of the other.

As to the name Ṡramaṇa (from root Ṡram, ‘to toil’), bear in mind that,
although Buddhism has acquired the credit of being the easiest religious
system in the world, and its monks are among the idlest of men—as having
no laborious ceremonies and no work to do for a livelihood—yet in
reality the carrying out of the great object of extinguishing lusts, and
so getting rid of the burden of repeated existences, was no sinecure if
earnestly undertaken. Nor was it possible for men to lead sedentary
lives, whose only mode of avoiding starvation was by house to house

As to the form of admission, there was no great strictness in early
times, when all applicants were admitted without inquiry. It was only
when the Order increased that murderers, robbers, debtors, soldiers and
others in the King’s service, lepers, cripples, blind, one-eyed, deaf
and dumb, and consumptive persons, and all subject to fits were

Originally it was enough for the Buddha to have said, ‘Come (ehi),
follow me.’ This alone conferred discipleship. In time, however, he
commissioned those he had himself admitted to admit others. Then the
form of admission to the brotherhood was divided into two stages, marked
by two ceremonies, which have been very unsuitably compared to our
ordination services for deacon and priest. At any rate the term
‘ordination’ is wholly misleading, if any idea of a priestly commission
or gift of spiritual powers be implied.

The youthful layman who desired admission to the first degree, or that
of a novice, had to be at least fifteen years old[39] (Mahā-v° I. 50);
and such novices had to be at least twenty (from conception) before the
second rite or admission to the full monkhood.

The first rite was called pravrajyā (pabbajjā), ‘going forth from home’
(Mahā-v° I. 12). Persons admitted to this first degree of monkhood were
called Ṡrāmaṇera (Sāmanera), ‘novices,’ though they were also called
‘new’ or ‘junior monks’ (Navako Bhikkhu). They might be admitted by a
senior monk without appearing before any formal conclave; but not
without the consent of their parents, and not without attaching
themselves to a religious teacher (upādhyāya) after their admission. It
is said that Gautama was urged by his father Ṡuddhodana to require the
sanction of parents, in rather touching and remarkable words, to the
following effect:—

‘The love for a son cuts into the cuticle (ćhavi); having cut into the
cuticle, it cuts into the inner skin (ćamma); having cut into the inner
skin, it cuts into the flesh; having cut into the flesh, it cuts into
the tendons (nhāru or nahāru); having cut into the tendons, it cuts into
the bones; having cut into the bones, it reaches the marrow
(aṭṭhi-miṅjā), and abides in the marrow. Let not Pabbajjā, therefore, be
performed on a son without his father’s and mother’s permission’
(Mahā-vagga I. 54).

The admission ceremony of a novice was extremely simple, and confined to
certain acts and words on the part of the candidate, witnessed by any
competent monk. The Saṅgha, as a body, took no part in it. The novice
first cut off his hair, put on three yellow ragged garments
(tri-ćīvara), adjusted the upper robe so as to leave the right shoulder
bare, and then before a monk repeated three times the three-refuge

  ‘I go for refuge to the Buddha (Buddhaṃ ṡaraṇaṃ gaććhāmi).’
  ‘I go for refuge to the Law (Dharmaṃ ṡaraṇaṃ gaććhāmi).’
  ‘I go for refuge to the Order (Saṅghaṃ ṡaraṇaṃ gaććhāmi).’

Very remarkably, this, the only prayer of true Buddhism, resembled the
Gāyatrī or sacred prayer of the Veda (repeated by the Brahma-ćārī) in
consisting of three times eight syllables. But if the Buddhist novice
had a right to the Brahma-ćārī’s sacred cord (upavīta), this was
probably abandoned on admission. He was then instructed in the Ten
Precepts (Dasa-sīla or sikkhā-pada), which were really ten prohibitions
(Mahā-vagga I. 56), requiring ten abstinences (veramaṇī):—

1. from destroying life (pāṇātipato = prāṇātipāta); 2. from taking
anything not given (adinnādāna); 3. from unchastity (abrahmaćariyā); 4.
from speaking falsely (musā-vāda = mṛishā-vāda); 5. from drinking strong
drinks (surā); 6. from eating at forbidden times (vikāla-bhojana); 7.
from dancing, singing, music, and worldly spectacles (visūka); 8. from
garlands, scents, unguents or ornaments; 9. from the use of a high or
broad bed; 10. from receiving gold or silver. The prohibition not to
receive money, even in return for religious teaching or any supposed
spiritual benefits conferred, was held to be most important, and was for
a long time obeyed, though in the end monasteries became owners of large
property and landed estates.

Of course the Upasampadā, or admission to full monkhood (described
Mahā-vagga I. 76), was a more formal ceremony. A conclave (Saṅgha) of at
least ten monks was required. The candidate had to appear before them,
but was first instructed by some competent and learned monk as to the
nature of the rite and the questions he would have to answer. This
instructor also directed him to choose some other monk competent to act
as his Upādhyāya (upajjhāya) or teacher for five years after his
admission, and made him provide himself with an alms-bowl and with the
usual yellow monkish vestments. Then his first instructor presented
himself before the conclave and informed them that the candidate was
ready to be admitted. Thereupon the novice came forward, adjusted his
upper garment so as to cover the left shoulder, bowed down before the
feet of the assembled monks, seated himself on the ground, and, raising
his joined hands, asked three times for admission to the full monkhood,
thus:—‘I entreat the Saṅgha for full monkhood (Upasampadā), have
compassion on me and uproot me (ullumpatu mām) from the world,’ repeated

Thereupon he was questioned [not, as in our Ordination Service: ‘Are you
inwardly moved by the Holy Spirit to take upon you this office?’ Not:
‘Will you apply all your diligence to frame and fashion your own life
and that of your family so as to be wholesome examples?’ but] thus:—Are
you free from leprosy, boils, consumption, fits, etc. Are you a male?
Are you a free man and not in the royal service? Are you free from
debts? Have you the consent of your parents? Are you full twenty years
old? Have you an alms-bowl and vestments? What is your name? What is
your teacher’s name?

If the answers were satisfactory the candidate was admitted. After
admission no prayer was pronounced [such as in our Ordination Service:
‘We beseech Thee, merciful Father, send on Thy servant Thy heavenly
blessing that he may be clothed with righteousness’[40]]; but he was
informed that he was to trust to only four Resources (nissaya), and to
abstain from four chief forbidden acts (akaraṇīyāni). These four
Resources and four Prohibitions were then communicated to him thus:—

First the four Resources as follow:—(1) Broken morsels given in alms for
food; (2) Rags from a dust-heap for clothes; (3) Roots of trees for an
abode; (4) Liquid putrefying excreta of cows for medicine. Note,
however, that, in practice, indulgences (atirekha-lābha) were in all
four cases allowed; such as, better food when it happened to be given,
or when invited to dinner by rich laymen; linen, cotton, or woollen
garments, if dyed yellow and in three pieces (but only one change was
allowed); houses, huts, or caves to dwell in, when not itinerating;
ghee, honey, or molasses when out of health (Mahā-v° I. 30. 4).

Next the four chief Prohibitions (compare the Ten Prohibitions, p. 78),
viz.:—(1) Unchastity and sexual acts of any kind; (2) Taking anything
not given, even a blade of grass; (3) Killing any living thing, even an
ant, or worm, or plant; (4) Falsely claiming the extraordinary powers of
a perfected saint (uttarimanussa-dhamma. Mahā-v° I. 78. 2).

Clearly there were great temptations to gain celebrity by claiming such
powers, or else this fourth prohibition would not have terminated the

So soon as a man was admitted to full monkhood, he went through a five
years’ course of instruction in the entire doctrine and discipline,
under the preceptor (Upādhyāya, Āćārya) who had been previously chosen
and was required to be of at least ten years’ standing.

This was a modification of the Brāhmanical rule that a student
(Brahma-ćārī) should study under his preceptor for thirty-six years, or
less, until he knew the Veda.

The full Buddhist monk had in theory to dwell under trees or in huts
formed of leaves (pāṇ-sālā = paṇṇa-sāla = parṇa-ṡālā); but practically
he resided in collections of simple mud or brick tenements, in cells, or
in rows of caves hewn out of rocky hills. At any rate, collections of
monastic dwellings, called Vihāras[41], were his usual abode during
Vassa (or the rainy season, see p. 82); and at such times he had
fellow-monks (saddhivihārika) living in companies around him, or in the
same monastery.

Strict discipline was supposed to be enforced, and yet there was no
central authority, no Chief Hierarch, no Archbishop whom he was bound
‘reverently to obey.’

Offences against the four forbidden acts were called Pārājikā āpatti,
‘offences meriting expulsion from the community of monks (Saṅgha).’

Then there were thirteen Saṅghādisesā āpatti, as well as certain Dukkata
or less serious offences, requiring only confession before the Saṅgha,
and dealt with by a Saṅgha-kamma, or act of a conclave of monks imposing
some penance. There were penances (Prāyaṡ-ćitta) for lying,
prevarication, abusive language, destroying vegetable or animal life,
etc. (see Pātimokkha, Pāćittiyā dhammā, and pp. 62, 84). The following
practices were also incumbent on all monks:—

(1) The wearing vestments given by laymen (not purchased) and consisting
of three lengths of yellow-coloured rags; or, if entire lengths of
cotton cloths were given, the saleable value had to be destroyed by
tearing them into at least three pieces, and then sewing them together;
(2) The owning no possessions except the three cloths, a girdle, bowl,
razor, needle, and water-strainer to prevent the swallowing of
animalculæ; (3) The living only on food collected in a wooden bowl by
daily going from house to house, but without ever asking for it; (4) The
eating at mid-day the one meal so collected and at no other time; (5)
The fasting on four prescribed days; (6) The abiding in one spot for
three or four months during Vassa, ‘the rains’ (from middle of June to
middle of October), when itineration would involve trampling on
vegetable and insect life; (7) The refraining from a recumbent posture
under all circumstances; (8) The visiting cremation-grounds for
meditation on the corruption of the body.

In truth it might almost be said that in every movement and action, in
waking and sleeping, in dressing and undressing, in standing and
sitting, in going out and coming in, in fasting and eating, in speaking
and not speaking, the Buddhist monk had to submit to the most stringent

It was a noteworthy feature in Buddhist monachism that monks were never
allowed to appear in public in a state of even semi-nudity. ‘Properly
clad,’ says the Sekhiyā dhammā (4), ‘must the monk itinerate.’ ‘Not
nakedness,’ says the Dhamma-pada (141), ‘can purify a mortal who has not
overcome desires.’ The monk’s three garments (tićīvara = tri-ćīvara)
were an inner one (antara-vāsaka), another wound about the thighs
(saṅghāṭī) and an upper robe (uttarāsaṅga) worn loosely and brought
round over the left shoulder. This constituted an important distinction
between the Buddhist monks and the Jaina and other naked ascetics whose
want of decency the Buddha condemned.

The Buddhist monk’s daily life probably began by meditation and by his
reciting or intoning (Bhāṇa, Sarabhañña) portions of the Law, or by
hearing it recited, followed perhaps by lessons in doctrine, or by
discussions or by confessions. Next came itineration for food, followed
by the one noon-day meal. Then came rest and further meditation and
recitation, while possibly the senior monks preached to laymen. Such
preaching took place especially during Vassa. In later times the daily
duties included offering flowers, etc., at sacred shrines, and repeating
so-called prayers, which were merely forms of words used as charms.

To illustrate the immensely meritorious efficacy of constant recitation
of the Law, a story is told of five hundred bats that lived in a cave
where two monks daily recited the Dharma. These bats gained such merit
by simply hearing the sound that when they died they were all re-born as
men and ultimately as gods.

Doubtless quarrels and faults of omission and commission occurred among
the monks, especially during their residence together in Vassa
(miscalled the Buddhist Lent). We read of six monks named Ćhabbaggiya
who were constantly committing offences. Hence a day called Pavāraṇā
(Pravāraṇā), ‘invitation,’ was kept at the end of Vassa, when all were
invited to assemble for confession and for felicitation, if harmony had
been preserved.

An important part of every monk’s duties was confession on Uposatha
(Upavasatha) or fast-days (miscalled the Buddhist sabbaths)—which were
kept at first on two days in each month, at full and new moon
(corresponding to the Darṡa and Paurṇamāsa days of Brāhmanism), and
afterwards also at the intermediate days of quarter-moon. On these four
Uposatha days the Pātimokkha or general confession (p. 62) was recited.
The confession was by monks to each other, not by laymen to monks,
though the four days were also observed by laymen, and we know that
Aṡoka enjoined periodical ceremonies, and expression of sorrow for sins
on the part of all his subjects. Such confession did not cause remission
of sin or absolution in our sense, but only release from evil
consequences by penances (p. 62).

We have learnt, then, that Buddhist monks were not under irrevocable
vows. They undertook to obey rules of discipline, but took no actual
vows—not even of obedience to a superior. Buddhist monkhood was purely
voluntary, so that all were free to come and go. It had nothing
hereditary about it like the rank of a Brāhman.

We have also learnt, that the term ‘priest’ is not suitably applied to
Buddhist monks. For true Buddhism has no ecclesiastical hierarchy, no
clergy, no priestly ordination; no divine revelation, no ceremonial
rites, no prayer, no worship in the proper sense of these terms. Each
man was a priest to himself in so far as he depended on himself alone
for internal sanctification.

Evidently, too, all Buddhist monks were integral parts of one organic
whole. It is true that in the end they were collected in various
monasteries, each of which practically became an independent Saṅgha
(each under one Head). But in theory all were parts of one and the same
brotherhood, which was republican and communistic in its constitution.
And this word Saṅgha cannot be correctly rendered by ‘church,’ if by
that term is meant an ecclesiastical body with legislative functions,
embracing clergy and _laity_ united in a common faith and under one
Head; for as founded by the Buddha, it was not this. It was simply a
vast fraternity intended to embrace all monks of the four quarters
(ćaturdiṡa) of the world, from the Buddha himself and the perfected
Arhat (p. 133), to every monk of the lowest degree, but not a single
layman. Indeed in its highest sense the Saṅgha comprised only true
Nirvāṇa-seeking monks who had entered the paths of true sanctification
(p. 132).

And here observe that, notwithstanding the stigma attached to unmarried
women in India, Gautama in the end permitted an Order of Nuns (Pāli
Bhikkhunī) and female novices (Sāmaṇerī, p. 47). The Ćulla-vagga (X. I.
3) relates how women were indebted to the intercession of a monk,
Gautama’s cousin Ānanda, for permission to form an Order, and how
Mahā-prajāpatī, the Buddha’s nurse (p. 24), became the first nun; yet
when Ānanda first asked: ‘How are we monks to behave when we see women?’
Gautama replied: ‘Don’t see them.’ ‘But if we should see them, what are
we to do?’ ‘Don’t speak to them.’ ‘But if they speak to us, what then?’
‘Let your thoughts be fixed in deep meditation’ (Sati upaṭṭhāpetabbā.
Mahā-parin° V. 23).

Clearly the Buddha was originally a misogynist as well as a misogamist,
and wished his followers to be misogynists also. Even when he had been
induced to admit the justice of the plea for women’s rights, he placed
his nuns under the direction of monks. They could only be admitted by
monks, and were subject to the male Order in all matters of discipline.
They were under eight special obligations, one of which was to rise up
in the presence of a monk, even if a novice.

The Buddha’s exhortation to the first nun is noteworthy:—‘Whatsoever, O
Gotamī (Mahā-prajāpatī), conduces to absence of passion, to absence of
pride, to wishing for little and not for much, to seclusion and not to
love of society, to earnest effort and not to indolence, to contentment
and not to querulousness, verily that is the true doctrine’ (Ćulla-v° X.

It was certainly a great gain for a woman when she was permitted to
become a nun (or a Therī); for, as a nun, she could even attain
Arhatship. This is clearly laid down in Ćulla-vagga X. 1. 3. 4. No
woman, however, could attain to Buddhahood without being born as a man,
so that it could scarcely be said that in Buddha there is ‘neither male
nor female.’

Such, then, was the monachism which constituted the very pith and marrow
of Buddhism. All truly enlightened disciples of Buddha were monks or

Let us not forget, however, that in practice Buddhism admitted
lay-brothers, lay-sisters, married householders and working-men, as
necessary adjuncts.

Yet they were only appendages. Of course the Buddha knew very well that
it was not possible to enforce celibacy on all his followers. He knew
that having prohibited his monks from making or taking money or holding
property, they would have to depend on lay-associates and householders
for food, clothing, and habitation, and that, if every layman were to
become a monk, there would be no work done, no food produced, no
children born, and in time no humanity—nay, no Buddhism—left.

Universal monkhood, in short, might have been a consummation to be aimed
at in some Utopia; but was practically unattainable. In fact Gautama had
to take the world as he found it, and the very idea of a world
perpetuating itself—according to his own theory of a constant succession
of birth, decay, and reproduction—implied that a youth, on reaching
manhood, married, had children, worked and earned a livelihood for their
support. He could not impose this burden on others.

Besides, the generality of people were in Gautama’s day what they are in
India now-a-days—bent on early marriage, and resolute in working hard
for a livelihood. Even Manu only enjoined celibacy on young religious
students and on old men, though there were occasional cases of perpetual
(naishṭhika) Brahma-ćārins.

Without doubt, celibacy in instances of extraordinary sanctity has
always commanded respect in India; but in no country of the world has
married life been so universally honoured. It is not very likely, then,
that the following sentiments, enunciated by the Buddha, could have met
with general approval:—

‘A wise man should avoid married life (abrahma-ćariyam) as if it were a
burning pit of live coals’ (Dhammika-Sutta 21).

‘Full of hindrances is married life, defiled by passion. How can one who
dwells at home live the higher life in all its purity?’ (Tevijja-Sutta

And in reality Buddha’s anti-matrimonial doctrines _did_ excite
opposition. The people murmured and said, ‘He is come to bring
childlessness among us, and widowhood, and destruction of family-life.’
Indeed, the two facts—first, that the foundations of Buddhism were not
laid (as those of Christianity notably are), on the hallowed hearth of
home and on the sacred rock of family-life with its daily round of
honest work; and—secondly, that the precept enjoining monkhood and
abstinence from marriage was not combined with any organized
ecclesiastical hierarchy under a central government, are sufficient to
account for the circumstance that Buddhism never gained any real
stability in India.

No doubt lay-brethren were always welcomed; but they were bound to
Buddhism by very slender ties in regard to dogma, and were only expected
to conform to the simplest possible code of morality.

Probably the only form of admission for a layman was the repetition of
the 24 syllables of the three-refuge (tri-ṡaraṇa) formula:—‘I go for
refuge to the Buddha, his Law and his Order’ (p. 78). It was of course
understood that he was to abstain from the five gross sins (p. 126), but
he was already bound to do so by the rules of Hindū caste and
family-religion. The chief test of his Buddhism was his readiness to
serve the monks. It was for this reason, I think, that lay-adherents
were not called, as might have been expected, Ṡrāvakas, ‘Hearers,’ but
simply Upāsakas, ‘Servers,’ and in the case of women Upāsikās. They
could not be called disciples of Buddha in the _truest sense_, unless
they entered his monastic Order.

Of course the majority of Buddhist householders never cared to do this.
Their chief religion consisted in giving food and clothing, earned by
daily toil, to the monks[42]. If they failed in this, there was only one
punishment. They were forbidden the privilege of giving at all, and so
of accumulating a store of merit. No monk was allowed to ask them for a
single thing. Of course, too, the majority of Buddhist householders were
worldly-minded; they were no believers in ultra-pessimistic views of
life. They looked for a life in some heaven, not Nirvāṇa. Yet in theory
all laymen might enter the paths of sanctification (p. 132), and
thousands of earnest men are said to have done so[43].

A layman’s progress, however, towards Arhatship, except through monkhood
and abandoning the world, was almost hopelessly barred. At page 264 of
the Milinda-pañha it is implied that an earnest layman might become an
Arhat, even while still a layman, but he had either to enter monkhood or
else to pass away in Pari-nirvāṇa (p. 140) at the moment of becoming so.

The best proof of the truth of this view of the matter is, that after a
layman had attached himself to the Buddha, the Law, and the Order, he
was not required to undergo any initiatory ceremony, like baptism, or to
receive any stamp of membership, or to assume a peculiar dress, or to
give up all belief in his family religion, or caste-customs. In short,
he did not as a lay-brother break entirely with Hindūism.

That universal tolerance was of the very essence of Buddhism is
indicated by Aṡoka’s twelfth edict:—‘The beloved of the gods honours all
forms of religious faith—there ought to be reverence for one’s own faith
and no reviling of that of others.’ Compare p. 126.

Nor did Gautama himself ever set an example of intolerance. He never
railed at the Brāhmans. He treated them with respect, and taught others
to do so; and even adopted the title Brāhmaṇa for his own saints and
Arhats (Dhamma-pada 383-423).

What he opposed was priestcraft and superstition, not Brāhmanism; as
indeed other reformers had done before him. Probably the great
receptivity of Buddhism was one of the causes that led to its decay in

Yet Gautama’s victory over one of the most inveterate propensities in
human nature—the tendency to seek salvation through a mediatorial caste
of priests—was a wonderful achievement. This is proved by the fact that
his followers in other countries became re-entangled in a network of
priestcraft, even more enslaving than that out of which he had rescued

Koeppen, Rhys Davids, and other writers have well shown that the
Buddhism of Tibet, with its Pope-like grand Lāmas—its cardinals and
abbots, monks and mendicant friars, nuns and novices, canonized saints
and angelic hosts, temples and costly shrines, monasteries and
nunneries, images and pictures, altars and relics, robes and mitres,
rosaries and consecrated water, litanies and chants, processions and
pilgrimages, confessions and penances, bell-ringing and incense—is in
everything, except doctrine, almost a counterpart of the Romish system.
How little could the Buddha have foreseen such a development of his
brotherhood of monks, whose chief duties were meditation and

And what is to be said of the present condition of the Buddhist
monkhood? Do we see anywhere evidences of that enlightenment of mind
which Buddhism claims as its chief characteristic?

When I was travelling in Ceylon, I met a few learned monks, but the
majority seemed to me idle, ignorant, and indifferent.

In Burma the monks are called Pungīs (Phongies), and are a little more
active. Every youth in Burma is supposed for a time to inhabit a

In Tibet the monks are called Lāmas (a lower title being Gelong) and
constitute a large proportion of the population. They are slaves to
gross superstitions. Some are mere devil-charmers, a belief in the power
of evil spirits being the chief religion of the people.

In China the monks are called Ho-shang (or Ho-sang). They constitute the
only section of the population who have a right to be called Buddhists,
though, after all, they are mere pseudo-Buddhists. Professor Legge
informs me that he has known a few learned men among them, and learned
works have been written by them. But the general testimony of Europeans
in China is that the mass of the monks there are simply drones, or
aimless dreamers, who go through their repetitions by rote. Almost all
are conspicuous for apathy, inertness, and a vacant idiotic expression
of countenance.

Clearly we have in their condition an example of the fact that even
moral restraint, if carried to the extreme of extinguishing all the
natural affections and desires, must inevitably be followed by a
Nemesis. Surely we have in these monkish fraternities an illustration of
the truth that any transgression of the laws of nature, common-sense,
and reason—any suppression of the primary instincts of humanity, must in
the end incur the penalty attached to every violation of the eternal
ordinances of God.

                               LECTURE V.
               _The Philosophical Doctrines of Buddhism._

One of the most noteworthy points in the early history of Buddhistic
thought is that while Gautama Buddha denied the existence of Brahmā as a
personal Creator, and repudiated the Veda and all Vedic sacrifices and
ceremonial observances, he at the same time made the philosophical
teaching of the Brāhmans the point of departure for his own peculiar
philosophical teaching.

Another noteworthy point is that while Buddhism was undoubtedly a
modification of philosophical Brāhmanism, the latter was also modified
by an interchange with Buddhistic ideas.

It may certainly be questioned whether Gautama himself, in the early
stages of his career, ever caused much offence to the most orthodox
Brāhmans by the free expression of his opinions. He did not spare either
his criticism or sarcasm, but it is well known that the Brāhmans were
not only tolerant of criticism; they were equally critical themselves,
and delighted in controversial discussions, as they do to this day.

In the Tevijja-Sutta an account is given of a discussion in which,
though Gautama expressed himself strongly, he does not seem to have
excited any wrath in his opponent—a Brāhman named Vāsettha.

The argument attributed to the Buddha is so remarkable that a portion of
it may be given here:—

‘Then you say, Vāsettha, that not one of the Brāhmans, or of their
teachers, or of their pupils, even up to the seventh generation, has
ever seen Brahman (the God of the Brāhmans) face to face. And that even
the Ṛishis of old, the utterers of the ancient verses, which the
Brāhmans of to-day so carefully intone and recite precisely as they have
been handed down—even they did not pretend to know or to have seen where
or whence or whither Brahman is. So that the Brāhmans versed in the
three Vedas have forsooth said thus: “To a state of union with that
which we know not and have not seen, we can show the way and can say:
‘This is the straight path, this is the direct way which leads him who
acts according to it, into a state of union with Brahman[44].’”

‘Now what think you, Vāsettha? Does it not follow, this being so, that
the talk of the Brāhmans, versed though they be in the three Vedas, is
foolish talk?

‘Verily, Vāsettha, that Brāhmans versed in the three Vedas should be
able to show the way to a state of union with that which they do not
know, neither have seen—such a condition of things has no existence.

‘As when a string of blind men are clinging one to the other, neither
can the foremost see, nor can the middle one see, nor can the hindmost
see, just so is the talk of the Brāhmans versed in the three Vedas[44].’

These no doubt were trenchant words, but it might easily be shown that
the Brāhmans themselves did not scruple to use almost as strong language
against their own revelation. For instance, the Ćhāndogya Upanishad (p.
473) speaks of the Veda as ‘mere name’ (nāma eva). The Bṛihadāraṇyaka
Upanishad declares that when a man is in a condition of knowledge, ‘the
gods are no gods to him, and the Veda no Veda;’ and the Muṇḍaka
describes the sacrificial Veda as inferior to Brahma-vidyā.

And in truth every Hindū was allowed to choose one of three ways of
securing his own salvation.

The first was ‘the way of works’ (Karma-mārga), that is to say, of
sacrifices (Yajña), of ceremonial rites, of lustral washings, penances
and pilgrimages, as enjoined in the Mantra and Brāhmaṇa portion of the
Veda, in Manu, the Law-books and parts of the Purāṇas.

The second was ‘the way of faith’ (bhakti), meaning by that term
devotion to one or other of certain commonly worshipped personal
deities,—a way leading in later times to the worship of Ṡiva and Vishṇu
(unfolded in the Purāṇas), and involving merely heart-devotion, without
sacrificial or ceremonial acts.

The third was ‘the way of knowledge’ (Jñāna), as set forth in the

The mediæval Brāhman Kumārila—a really historical teacher—advocated the
first way; another teacher of less note, Ṡāṇḍilya, advocated the second;
another celebrated historical teacher, Ṡaṅkara, advocated the third.

Even in Gautama’s time any one of these ways or all three together might
be chosen, so long as the authority of the Brāhmans was not impugned.

This, at least, is the general teaching of the Bhagavad-gītā—an eclectic
work which is the most popular exponent of the Hindū creed[45].

Yet even the Author of the Bhagavad-gītā had a preference for the way of
knowledge. In one passage (II. 42) he describes the Veda as ‘mere
flowery doctrine’ (pushpitā vāć), and is careful to point out that works
must be performed as acts of devotion leading to absorption into the
Supreme (Brahma-nirvāṇam).

Indeed there can be no doubt that it was generally held by the Brāhmans
of Buddha’s time that the way of knowledge was the highest way. But this
way was not open to all. It was reserved for the privileged few—for the
more intellectual and philosophically-minded Brāhmans. The generality of
men had to content themselves with the first and second ways.

What the Buddha then did was this:—First he stretched out the right hand
of brotherhood to all mankind by inviting all without exception to join
his fraternity of celibate monks, which he wished to be co-extensive
with the world itself. Then he abolished the first and second ways of
salvation (p. 95), that is, Yajña, ‘sacrifices,’ and Bhakti, ‘devotion
to personal gods,’ and substituted for these meditation and moral
conduct as the only road to true knowledge and emancipation. And then,
lastly, he threw open this highest way of true knowledge to all who
wished to enter it, of whatever rank or caste or mental calibre they
might be, not excepting the most degraded.

Without doubt the distinguishing feature in the Buddha’s gospel was that
no living being, not even the lowest, was to be shut out from true

And here it will be necessary to inquire more closely into the nature of
that knowledge which the Buddha thus made accessible to every creature
in the universe.

Was it some deep mystery? Some occult doctrine of physical or
metaphysical science? Some startling revelation of a law of nature never
before imparted to the world? Was the Buddha’s open way very different
from the old, well-fenced-off Brāhmanical way?

Of one point we may be certain. He was too sensible to cast aside all
ancient traditions. Nor was he a mere enthusiast claiming to be the sole
possessor of a new secret for regenerating society.

Unhappily, however, we are here met by a difficulty. The Buddha never,
like Muhammad, wrote a book, or, so far as we know, a line. He was the
Socrates of India, and we are obliged to trust to the record of his
sayings (see p. 38). Still we have no reason to doubt the genuineness of
what was for some time handed down orally in regard to the doctrines he
taught, and we are struck with the fact that Gautama called his own
knowledge _Bodhi_ (from _budh_, ‘to understand’), and not _Veda_ (from
_vid_, ‘to know’). Probably by doing so he wished to imply that his own
knowledge was attainable by all through their own intuitions, inner
consciousness, and self-enlightening intellect, and was to be
distinguished from _Veda_ or knowledge obtainable through the Brāhmans
alone, and by them through supernatural revelation only. Hence, too, he
gave to every being destined to become a Buddha the title Bodhi-sattva
(Bodhi-satta), ‘one having knowledge derived from _self-enlightening
intellect_ for his essence.’

But it should be noted, that even in the choice of a name derived from
the Sanskrit root _budh_, the Buddha only adopted the phraseology of the
Sāṅkhya philosophy and of the Brāhmaṇas. The Sāṅkhya system made Buddhi,
‘intellect,’ its great principle (Mahat), and the Ṡatapatha-brāhmaṇa
called a man who had attained to perfect knowledge of Self
prati-buddha[46]. It may be pointed out, too, that Manu (IV. 204) uses
the same root when he calls his wise man Budha.

Moreover, the doctrines which grew out of his own special knowledge
Gautama still called _Dharma_ (Dhamma), ‘law,’ using the very same term
employed by the Brāhmans—a term expressive of law in its most
comprehensive sense, as comprising under it the physical laws of the
Universe, as well as moral and social duties.

In what, then, did the Buddha’s Dharma differ from that of the Brāhmans?
One great distinction certainly was that it contained no esoteric
(rahasya) and metaphysical doctrines in regard to matter and spirit,
reserved for the privileged few; yet some of its root-ideas were after
all mere modifications of the Sāṅkhya, Yoga, and Vedānta systems of
philosophy. His way of knowledge, though it developed into many paths,
had the same point of departure. It was a knowledge of the truth, that
all life was merely one link in a series of successive existences, and
inseparably bound up with misery. Moreover as there were two causes of
that misery—lust and ignorance—so there were two cures.

The first cure was _the suppression of lust and desire_, especially of
all desire for continuity of existence.

The second cure was _the removal of ignorance_. Indeed Ignorance was,
according to Gautama, the first factor in the misery of life, and stands
first in his chain of causation (p. 102). Not, however, the Vedāntist’s
ignorance—not ignorance of the fact that man and the universe are
identical with God, but ignorance of the four truths of Buddhism (p.
43):—ignorance that all life is misery, and that the misery of life is
caused by indulging lusts, and will cease by suppressing them.

It would be easy to show how all Indian philosophy was a mere scheme for
getting rid of the bugbear of metempsychosis, and how common was the
doctrine that everything is for the worst in the worst of all possible
worlds. This was taught by the Brāhmans five centuries B.C., and
continued to be a thoroughly Hindū idea long after the disappearance of
Buddhism. Witness the following from the Maitrāyaṇi Upanishad:—

  In this weak body, ever liable
  To wrath, ambition, avarice, illusion,
  To fear, grief, envy, hatred, separation
  From those we hold most dear, association
  With those we hate; continually exposed
  To hunger, thirst, disease, decrepitude,
  Emaciation, growth, decline and death,
  What relish can there be for true enjoyment?

Also the following, from Manu (VI. 77):—

  This body, like a house composed of the (five) elements, with bones
  for its rafters, tendons for its connecting links, flesh and blood for
  its mortar, skin for its covering; this house filled with impurities,
  infested by sorrow and old age, the seat of disease, full of pain and
  passion, and not lasting—a man ought certainly to abandon.

Also Bhartṛi-hari (Vairāgya-ṡataka III. 32. 50):—

  Enjoyments are alloyed by fear of sickness,
  High rank may have a fall, abundant wealth
  Is subject to exactions, dignity
  Encounters risk of insult, strength is ever
  In danger of enfeeblement by foes,
  A handsome form is jeoparded by women,
  Scripture is open to assaults of critics,
  Merit incurs the spite of wicked men,
  The body lives in constant dread of death—
  One course alone is proof against alarm,
  Renounce the world, and safety may be won.

  One hundred years[47] is the appointed span
  Of human life, one half of this goes by
  In sleep and night; one half the other half
  In childhood and old age; the rest is passed
  In sickness, separation, pain, and service—
  How can a human being find delight
  In such a life, vain as a watery bubble?

No doubt this kind of pessimism has always found advocates in all ages,
and among all nations in Europe as well as in Asia. It was a favourite
idea with the Stoics, and it has found favour with Schopenhauer, Von
Hartmann, and other modern philosophers; and Shakespeare makes Hamlet
give expression to it.

Happily the general tone of European philosophical thought is in another
key, and the admirers of Aristotle still constitute a majority in
Europe. The great Stagirite described God as ‘Energy,’ and in dealing
with Solon’s dictum that ‘no man can be called happy while he lives,’
gave expression to a different belief. A good man’s virtuous energies,
he asserted, are in this present life a genuine source of happiness to
him; misfortunes cannot shake his well-balanced character; he surmounts
the worst sufferings by generous magnanimity[48].

Even in the East a greater than Aristotle and no less an Authority than
the true ‘Light of the world’—bade men rejoice and leap for joy under
the most trying circumstances of life, and prize His gift of Eternal
Life as their highest good.

In India, on the contrary, the Upanishads and systems of philosophy
which followed on them, all harped on the same string. They all dwelt on
the same minor key-note. Their real object was not to investigate truth,
but to devise a scheme for removing the misery believed to result from
repeated bodily existence and from all action, good or bad, in the
present, previous, and future births.

The Sāṅkhya (I. 1) defines the chief aim of man to be deliverance from
the pain incident to bodily life and energy; or according to the Nyāya
(I. 2), from the pain resulting from birth, actions, and false
knowledge; while the Vedānta considers that ignorance alone fetters the
soul of man to a body, and the Yoga defines the divine Purusha (= the
perfect man of Buddhism) as a being unaffected by pain (kleṡa), acts,
consequences of acts, and impressions derived from acts done in previous
births (āṡaya = saṉṡkāra).

Gautama’s sympathy with these ideas is shown by the twelve-linked chain
of causation, put forth by him as an accompaniment to his four
fundamental truths (p. 43), and thus expressed (Mahā-vagga I. 1. 2):—

From Ignorance comes the combination of formations or tendencies
(instincts derived from former births[49]); from such formations comes
consciousness (vijñāna); from consciousness, individual being
(nāma-rūpa, name and form); from individual being, the six organs of
sense (including mind); from the six organs, contact (with objects of
sense); from contact, sensation (vedanā); from sensation, desire (lust,
thirst, taṉhā = tṛishṇā); from desire, clinging to life (upādāna); from
clinging to life, continuity of becoming (bhava); from continuity of
becoming, birth; from birth, decay and death; from decay and death,

It is difficult to discover a strictly logical sequence in this curious
twelve-linked chain. The first link is a cause, the ten following are
both causes and effects, while the last is an effect only. The second
(saṃkhārā) is presented to us afterwards as one of the Skandhas (p.
109), and we have the whole inverted in a kind of circular chain in the
form of question and answer, thus:—

What is the cause of misery and suffering? _Answer_—Old age and death.
What is the cause of old age and death? _Answer_—Birth. Of birth?
_Answer_—Continuity of becoming. Of continuity of becoming?
_Answer_—Clinging to life. Of clinging to life? _Answer_—Desire. Of
desire? _Answer_—Sensation or perception. Of sensation? _Answer_—Contact
with the objects of sense. Of contact with objects? _Answer_—The organs
of sense. Of the organs? _Answer_—Name and form, or individual being. Of
individual being? _Answer_—Consciousness (viññāṇa = vijñāna). Of
consciousness? _Answer_—Combination of formations or tendencies (or
those material and mental predispositions derived from previous births
which tend to form character, compare p. 109). Of such formations?

In making Ignorance (Avidyā) the first cause of the misery of life,
Gautama agreed with the Vedānta (though he explained Ignorance
differently, see p. 99), while in the remaining chain of causes (Nidāna)
we detect his sympathy with the Sāṅkhya theory of a chain of producers
and products.

His own scheme of causation (often called Paṭićća-samuppādo) occupies an
important place in Buddhistic philosophy, as supplementary to, and
complementary of, the four truths (p. 43). It was thought out before
them (see p. 39) and is equally revered.

It is on this account that the following celebrated formula is
constantly repeated like a short creed, and is found carved on numerous
Buddhist monuments:—

‘Conditions (or laws) of existence which proceed from a cause, the cause
of these hath the Buddha explained, as also the cessation (or
destruction) of these. Of such truths is the Great Ṡramaṇa the

This was the formula repeated by Assaji to Sāriputta and Moggallāna (p.
47), when they wished to join the Buddha and asked for a summary of the
spirit (artha), not the letter (vyañjana), of his doctrine (Mahā-v° I.
23. 5). Certainly the sorites-like form of statement in the scheme of
causation had charms for Oriental thinkers.

Moreover the Buddha’s method of clothing old truths in a new dress,
or—to adopt another metaphor—his plan of putting new wine into old
bottles, had in it something very attractive to all Indian minds.

Of what kind, then, was the new dress in which Gautama clothed the great
central doctrine of Indian philosophy—the doctrine of metempsychosis,
involving the perpetuation of the misery of life?

The Buddha, like all Indians, was by nature a metaphysician. He had
great sympathy with the philosophy of the Upanishads. How was it that he
disbelieved in the existence of Spirit as distinct from bodily organism?
A little consideration will perhaps make clear how he was brought to his
own peculiar agnostic view.

Probably before his so-called enlightenment and attainment of true
knowledge, he was as firm a believer in the real existence of one
Universal Spirit as the most orthodox Brāhman. He had become imbued with
Brāhmanical philosophy while sitting at the feet of his two teachers
Āḷāra and Uddaka (p. 29). At that time there were no definite or
formulated philosophical systems, separated from each other by sharp
lines. But the Sāṅkhya, Yoga, and Vedānta systems were assuming shape,
and the doctrines they embodied had been foreshadowed in the Upanishads,
and were orally current.

In short, it had been repeatedly stated in the Upanishads, that nothing
really existed but the one universally present impersonal Spirit, and
that the whole visible world was really to be identified with that

Then it followed as an article of faith that man’s spirit, deluded into
a temporary false idea of separate independent personal existence by the
illusion of ignorance, was also identical with that One Spirit, and
ultimately to be re-absorbed into it.

Further, it followed that man’s spirit, while so deluded and so
separated for a time from the One Spirit, was compelled to migrate
through innumerable bodily forms, and that such migration entailed
misery, from which there was no escape except by a process of
disillusionment, that is, by dissipating the illusion of separate
individuality, through the acquisition of perfect knowledge leading to
re-union with the One Spirit, as the river blends with the ocean. And
such knowledge was best gained by suppression of the passions,
abandonment of all worldly connexions, and abstinence from all action.
Finally, it was held, with apparent inconsistency, that the storing up
of merit by good works assisted in effecting this object by raising a
man, not yet fit for union with the supreme Spirit, to forms of
existence in which such union might be accomplished.

Now it is obvious that to believe in the ultimate merging of man’s
personal spirit in One impersonal Spirit, is virtually to deny the
ultimate existence of any human spirit at all. Nay more—it is virtually
to deny the existence of a supreme universal Spirit also.

For how can a merely abstract universal Spirit, which is unconscious of
personality, be regarded as possessing any real existence worth being
called true life?

To assert that such a Spirit is pure abstract Entity or (according to
Vedānta phraseology) pure Existence (without anything to exist for),
pure Thought or even pure Consciousness (without anything to think
about, or be conscious about), pure Joy (without anything to rejoice
about), is practically to reduce it to pure non-entity.

All that Gautama did, therefore, was to purge Brāhmanism of a dogma
which appeared to him to be a mere sham (Brahma-jāla I. 26).

He simply eliminated as incapable of proof the doctrine of a purely
abstract, incorporeal spirit or self, whether human or divine. The
assertion that any soul or self or Ego really existed (Atta-vādo) was an
error. It formed one of the constituents of Upādāna (p. 109), and was
the first of the ten fetters (Sakkāya-diṭṭhi, p. 127).

And with the rejection of this dogma, as incapable of demonstration, he
found himself compelled to reject also, as beyond the range of man’s
cognizance, the doctrine of any Supreme Being higher than the perfectly
enlightened man. Like Kapila in the Sāṅkhya aphorisms (I. 92, V. 10) he
felt bound to admit: ‘It is not proved that there is a God.’

This, indeed, is the chief foundation on which rests the assertion that
Buddhism is a mere system of atheistic negations. And there can be no
doubt that from one point of view its statements are steeped in
negations, or rather perhaps in evasions. Its morality has been
described as more negative than positive; but this is scarcely correct,
and it would be fairer to say that it delights in telling men to abstain
from doing evil, rather than in urging them to active exertions for the
good of others. It has many positive precepts.

But if there was no probability of a soul existing separately from a
body after death, how could there be any soul-transmigration? How could
there be any agreement between the teaching of the Buddha and that of
the Brāhmans, in regard to this important central dogma? The real fact
was that the divergence of the Buddhist doctrine from the Brāhmanical,
as stated in the Upanishads, was not greater than was to be expected
from the difference of belief between the two systems in regard to the
existence of soul.

Plato, we know, held that souls ‘found their prisons in the same
natures’ at death, so that an effeminate man might be re-born as a
woman, a tyrannical man as a wolf, and so on. In Manu’s Law-book is set
forth a triple order of soul-transmigration through lower, middle, and
higher planes of existence, resulting from good, middling, and bad acts,
words, and thoughts. Thus—to instance only the lower—the soul of a man
who spoke ill of his teacher was destined to pass into an ass or a dog
(II. 201), the soul of a thief might occupy a mouse (XII. 62), the soul
of one who neglected his caste-duties might pass into a demon (XII. 71,
72); and greater crimes might lead to the soul’s being condemned to
occupy plants, stones, and minerals. Then there was also an intermediate
condition of the soul. According to one idea it went to the moon;
according to another it became a hungry ghost which required food to be
offered to it at the Ṡrāddha ceremonies.

This theory of transmigration, according to the Hindūs, explained the
origin of evil. Evil must proceed from antecedent evil, and the
resulting penalty must be borne by the evil-doer in succeeding
existences. This was the terrible incubus which it was the great object
of Indian philosophers to remove. It was equally Gautama’s object, but
how could he accept soul-transmigration, denying as he did the existence
of any spirit, as distinct from material organization? He therefore put
forth a view of his own, thus:—Every being is composed of five
constituent elements called Skandhas (Pāli Khandha), which have their
source in Upādāna (p. 103) and are continually combining, dissolving,
and recombining, viz. 1. Form (_rūpa_), i. e. the organized body. 2.
Sensation (_vedanā_) of pain or pleasure, or of neither, arising from
contact of eye, ear, nose, tongue, skin, and mind with external objects.
3. Perception (_sañña_ = _sañjñā_) of ideas through the same sixfold
contact. 4. Aggregate of formations (_saṃkhāra_ = _saṉskāra_, i.e.
combination of properties or faculties or mental tendencies, fifty-two
in number, forming individual character and derived from previous
existences; compare the similar saṃkhārā pl. at p. 102). 5.
Consciousness (_viññāṇa_ = _vijñāna_) or thought[51]. This fifth is the
most important. It is the only soul recognized by Buddhists.
Theoretically it perishes with the other Skandhas, but practically is
continued, since its exact counterpart is reproduced in a new body.

For although, when a man dies, all the five constituents of existence
are dissolved, yet by the force resulting from his actions (_karma_),
combined with _Upādāna_, ‘clinging to existence’ (one form of the
fetters at p. 127), a new set of five, of which consciousness is still
the dominant faculty, starts into being. The process of the new creation
is so instantaneous that it is equivalent to the continuance of the same
personality, pervaded by the same consciousness; though each personality
is only really connected with the previous by the force of acts done and
character formed in each—such force operating through Upādāna. In short,
to speak of transmigration of souls in Buddhism gives a wrong idea.
Metempsychosis with Buddhists resolves itself into continuous
metamorphosis or Palingenesis. For no true Buddhist believes in the
passing of a soul from one body to another, but rather in the passing on
of what may be called act-force, or of the merit and demerit resulting
from a man’s acts, so as to cause a continuous succession of
transformations—a succession which may be compared to the rolling on of
a wheel through different scenes and over every variety of ground; or to
the burning on, through day and night, of a flame which is not the same
flame at the beginning of the day and end of the night, and yet is not
different. It is this act-force (Karma), combined with Upādāna,
‘clinging to existence’ (=abhi-niveṡa in the Yoga II. 9), which is the
connecting link between each man’s past, present, and future bodies.

In its subtle and irresistible operation it may be compared to stored-up
chemical or electric energy. It is a force which continually creates and
re-creates the whole man, and perpetuates his personal identity through
separate forms, whether it compels him to ascend or descend in the scale
of being.

Yet to say that personality is transmitted, when there is no
consciousness of any continuity of identity, amounts, after all, to
denial of continuous existence.

Be it observed, too, that the scale of existence is limited in Buddhism
to six classes of beings—gods, men, demons, animals, ghosts, and
dwellers in hell (p. 121). Transmigration is not extended, as in the
Brāhmanical system, to plants, stocks, and stones; though a man could be
born as a tree-god (p. 112).

Gautama Buddha himself was merely the last link in a long chain of
corporeal forms, and he had been preceded by twenty-four Buddhas, who
were to previous ages of the world what he was to the present. Every one
of these Buddhas was gifted with the faculty of recollecting his
previous personalities, and Gautama often gave an account of his own
former existences. The stories of about five hundred and fifty of his
births (Jātakas) are even now daily repeated to eager listeners in every
Buddhist country, and are believed to convey important lessons, though
full of puerilities.

The interchange of ideas between Brāhmanism and Buddhism is well
exemplified not only by the twenty-five Buddhas, who correspond to the
fourteen Manus, or representative men, in each world-period (Antara),
but also by the birth-stories, many of which are mere modifications of
old fables long current in India, while others have been imported from
Buddhism into Sanskṛit literature. They constantly remind one of similar
stories in the Pañća-tantra, Hitopadeṡa, Rāmāyaṇa, and Mahā-bhārata. The
noteworthy point about the repeated births of Gautama Buddha is, that
there appears to have been no Darwinian rise from lower to higher forms;
but a mere jumble of metamorphoses. Thus we find him born four times as
Mahā-brahmā, twenty times as Indra, once as a hare, eighty-three times
as an ascetic, fifty-eight as a king, twenty-four as a Brāhman, once as
a gamester, eighteen times as a monkey, six as an elephant, eleven as a
deer, once as a dog, four times as a serpent, six as a snipe, once as a
frog, twice as a fish, forty-three times as a tree-god, twice as a pig,
ten times as a lion, four as a cock, twice as a thief, once as a
devil-dancer, and so on. He was never born as a woman, nor as an insect,
nor as a Preta, nor an inhabitant of hell (p. 119), and in all his
births he was a Bodhi-sattva (pp. 98, 135). And in all he suffered and
sacrificed himself for the good of the world.

Here is the substance of an account of Gautama’s birth as a hare, given
by himself (Ćariyā-Piṭaka I. 10, translated by Dr. Oldenberg):—

‘In one of my lives I was a hare living in a forest. I ate grass and did
no one any harm. An ape, a jackal, and an otter dwelt with me. I used to
teach them their duties and tell them to abstain from evil and give alms
on the four fast-days in every month. They did as I told them, and gave
beans, corn, and rice. Then I said to myself:—Suppose a worthy object of
charity passes by, what can I give him? I live on grass only; I cannot
offer a starving man grass; I must give him myself. Thereupon the god
Ṡakra, wishing to test my sincerity, came in a Brāhman’s form and asked
me for food. When I saw him I said joyfully:—“A noble gift will I give
thee, O Brāhman; thou observest the precepts; thou painest no creature;
thou wilt not kill me for food. But go, collect wood, place it in a
heap, and kindle a fire. Then I will roast myself, and thou may’st eat

‘He said:—“So be it,” and went and gathered wood and kindled a fire.

‘When the wood began to send forth flame, I leaped into the midst of the
blazing fire.

‘As water quenches heat, so the flames quelled all the sufferings of
life. Cuticle and skin, flesh and sinews, bones, ligaments, and heart—my
whole body with all its limbs—I gave to the Brāhman.’

Perhaps the best and most often recited Jātaka is the last birth but
one, in which he was born as prince Vessantara (Vaiṡyāntara). This is
called the Mahā-jātaka, ‘great birth.’ It may be summarized thus:—

‘Vessantara (afterwards Buddha) was so liberal that he gave to every one
who asked. Among his possessions was a white elephant, which had the
power of bringing down rain whenever it was needed. At last he gave away
this also to a neighbouring country suffering from drought. This so
incensed his own people that they persuaded the king his father to
banish him with his wife and two children to the forest. They set out in
a chariot drawn by horses. First he gave away the horses and next the
chariot to Brāhmans who begged for them. Then when another Brāhman asked
for the children, Vessantara gave them up too, saying: “May I for this
act become a Buddha!” In short his sufferings and theirs in banishment,
and his generosity to every one, led to his recall with great
rejoicings. When he died he was born again in the Tushita heaven, whence
he descended as a white elephant into the womb of Māyā, and was born as
Gautama’ (p. 23).

Another wise man of the East, who lived long before Gautama, spoke of
‘the path of the just shining more and more unto the perfect day.’ Of
this kind of progressive advance towards higher planes of perfection,
the Indian sage knew nothing. Nor to the Buddha, of course, would the
Christian idea of ‘original sin,’ or of imputed Perfection have conveyed
any meaning whatever. With Gautama, righteousness and unrighteousness,
holiness and sin, were the product of a man’s own acts. They were
produced by no one but himself, and they were merely troublesome forces
(see p. 124) causing, in the one case, a man’s re-birth either in one of
the heavens or in higher earthly corporeal forms, and, in the other, his
re-birth in one of the hells or in lower corporeal forms. ‘Not in the
heavens,’ says the Dhamma-pada (127), ‘not in the midst of the sea, not
if thou hidest thyself in the clefts of the mountains, wilt thou find a
place where thou canst escape the force resulting from thy evil

Here also is the substance of a passage in the Deva-dūta-sutta
(translated by Dr. Oldenberg):—

‘Do not relatives and friends welcome a man who has been long
travelling, when he returns safely to his home? Even so, a righteous
man, when he passes from this world to another, is welcomed by his good
works, as by friends.

‘Through the six states of transmigration does the power of our actions
lead us. A life in the heavens awaits the good. The wardens of hell drag
the wicked before the king of hell, Yama, who says to them:—“Did you
not, when on earth, see the five divine messengers, sent to warn you—the
child, the old man, the sick, the criminal suffering punishment, and the
dead corpse?”

‘And the wicked man answers:—“I did see them.”

‘And didst thou not think within thyself:—“I also am subject to birth,
old age, death. Let me be careful to do good works?”

‘And the wicked man answers:—“I did not, sire; I neglected in my folly
to think of these things.”

‘Then king Yama pronounces his doom:—“These thy evil deeds are not the
work of thy mother, father, relations, friends, advisers. Thou alone
hast done them all; thou alone must gather the fruit.” And the warders
of hell drag him to the place of torment, rivet him to red-hot iron,
plunge him in glowing seas of blood, torture him on heaps of burning
coal; and he dies not, till the last residue of his guilt has been

And this Buddhist theory of every man’s destiny being dependent on his
own acts is quite in keeping with Brāhmanical ideas. ‘In that (new body)
he is united with the knowledge gained in the former body, and then
again goes on working for perfection; for even against his will he is
forced on (from one body to another) by his former works’ (Bhagavad-gītā
VI. 43, 44). And again:—‘The act committed in a former birth
(pūrva-janma-kṛitaṃ karma), that is called one’s destiny;’ and again,
‘As from a lump of clay a workman makes what he pleases, even so a man
obtains whatever destiny he has wrought out for himself’ (Hitopadeṡa,
Introduction). In Brāhmanism the influence of Karma or ‘act’ in
determining every being’s form at the time of his own re-birth is

Thus also the Nyāya of Gautama (III. 132) affirms that the new body
(after death) is produced through the irresistible force of actions done
in the previous body (pūrva-kṛita-phalānubandhāt tad-utpattiḥ). The
cosmogony of the same philosophy (Vaiṡeshika branch), taught that the
concurrence of eternal atoms to form the world was the result of
Adṛishṭa or the ‘unseen force’ derived from the acts of a previous

We are reminded, too, of our poet’s own sentiment: ‘Our deeds still
travel with us from afar, And what we have been makes us what we are;’
and of Don Quixote’s saying, ‘Every man is the son of his own works;’
and of Wordsworth’s, ‘The child is father of the man;’ and of
Longfellow’s, ‘Lives of great men all remind us, we can make ourselves

In short, we are the outcome of ourselves. Nor can ceremonies avail
aught, nor can devotion to personal gods avail aught, nor can anything
whatever possess the slightest efficacy to save a man from his own acts.

It is said that Buddhism leaves the will unfettered; but surely fatalism
is taught when the force of one’s own deeds in previous births is held
to be irresistible.

The only creator, then, recognized by true Buddhists is Act-force. ‘My
action is the womb that bears me,’ says the Aṅguttara Nikāya. It is this
Act-force that creates worlds. It is this Act-force, in conjunction with
Upādāna (p. 109), that creates all beings in any of the six classes into
which they are divided—gods, men, demons, animals, ghosts, and the
dwellers in hell. We often talk of the force of a dead man’s acts—of his
being dead and yet speaking. It is this force which in Buddhism resists
death; for no force can ever be lost.

And what does the modern Positivist philosopher assert? He maintains
that both body and mind are resolved into their elements at death. The
only immortal part of us consists in the good deeds, words, thoughts,
and influences we leave behind us, to be made use of by our descendants
and improved on for the elevation of humanity. And the aggregate of
these, combined with the force of will, constitute, according to the
Buddhist, a power strong enough to re-create not only human beings but
the whole material world.

It was thus that the force of Gautama’s own acts had constantly
re-created him through a long chain of successive personalities,
terminating in the perfect Buddha, who has no further births to undergo.

Turn we now to that division of the Buddhist system which concerns
itself with the external universe, and seeks to explain its
constitution, form, and the various divisions of which it consists.

And here we must be careful to note the peculiar views of Buddhism,
notwithstanding the large admixture of Brāhmanical ideas.

For Buddhism has no cosmogony like the Sāṅkhya, Vedānta, and Vaiṡeshika.
Nor does it explain the creation of the universe, in our sense. It only
concerns itself with cosmology, and it dissents from Brāhmanical
cosmology in declining to admit the eternity of anything whatever,
except change or revolution or a succession of revolutions. Buddhism has
no Creator, no creation, no original germ of all things, no soul of the
world, no personal, no impersonal, no supramundane, no antemundane

It might indeed have been supposed that since Gautama denied the eternal
existence of either a personal God or of Spirit, he would at least have
given eternal existence to matter.

But no; the only eternal things are the Causality of Act-force and the
succession of cause and effect—the eternity of ‘Becoming,’ not of

The Universe around us, with all its visible phenomena, must be
recognized as an existing entity, for we see before our eyes evidence of
its actual existence. But it is an entity produced out of nonentity, and
destined to lapse again into nonentity when its time is fulfilled.

For out of nothingness it came, and into nothingness must it return—to
re-appear again, it is true, but as a new Universe brought into being by
the accumulated force of its predecessor’s acts, and not evolved out of
any eternally existing spiritual or material germ of any kind.

It is thus that Universe after Universe is like a succession of
countless bubbles for ever forming, expanding, drifting onwards,
bursting and re-forming, each bubble owing its re-formation to the force
generated by its vanished predecessor. The poet Shelley might have been
called a Buddhist when he wrote:

  Worlds on worlds are rolling ever
    From creation to decay;
  Like the bubbles on a river,
    Sparkling, bursting, borne away. (Hellas.)

Or like lotuses, for ever unfolding and then decaying, each decay
containing the germ of a new plant; or like an interminable succession
of wheels for ever coming into view, for ever rolling onwards,
disappearing and reappearing; for ever passing from being to non-being,
and again from non-being to being. It was this ceaseless rotation that
led to the wheel being adopted as the favourite symbol in Buddhism (p.

Christianity recognizes in a very different way this ‘law of
circularity’ in the physical world, as the Rev. Hugh Macmillan has ably
pointed out.

As to the question from whom? or whence? or how? came the original force
or impetus that started the first movement, the Buddha hazarded no
opinion. He held this to be an inexplicable mystery—an insoluble riddle.
He confessed himself to be a thorough Agnostic. He saw nothing but
countless cycles of causes and effects, and never undertook to explain
the first cause which set the first wheel in motion. It was not, then,
without a deep significance that Gautama placed Ignorance first in his
chain of Causation (p. 102. Note, however, the explanation given at p.

After all, these Buddhistic speculations amount to little else than
Brāhmanism stripped of some of its transcendental mysticism. We know,
for example, that the true Vedānta philosophy makes the Universe proceed
out of an eternal Illusion, or Ignorance associated with the impersonal
Spirit Brahman, into which it is again absorbed.

Can it be affirmed, then, a Buddhist might say, that either this pure
impersonal Spirit (or Ignorance) is virtually very different from pure

What says the author of Ṛig-veda X. 120?—

  In the beginning there was neither naught nor aught,
  Then there was neither sky nor atmosphere above.
  Then first came darkness hid in darkness, gloom in gloom;
  Next all was water, all a chaos indiscreet,
  In which the One lay void, shrouded in nothingness.

Then as to the vast periods called Kalpas or ages, during which (as in
Brāhmanism) constant Universes are supposed to appear, disappear, and

Let it be supposed, say Buddhist writers, that a solid rock forming a
vast cube sixteen miles high, and the same in length and breadth, were
lightly rubbed once in a hundred years with a piece of the finest cloth,
and by this slight friction reduced in countless ages to the size of a
mango-seed; that would still give you no idea of the immense duration of
a Buddhist Kalpa.

And what, in conclusion, is the existing Universe? Buddhist writers make
it consist of an infinite number of Ćakkavālas (Ćakra-vālas) or vast
circular planes, which for convenience may be called spheres. Each
sphere has thirty-one Satta-lokas (Sattva-lokas) or dwelling-places of
six classes of living beings, rising one above the other and distributed
under three world-systems, built up in successive tiers through infinite
space, below, upon, and above Mount Meru (or Sumeru)—the ideal central
point of the whole. This gigantic mythical mountain forms the mighty
base or pivot of the sphere.

First comes Hell with 136 divisions, to receive 136 varieties of
offenders, all in tiers one above the other, and lying deep under the
earth in the lower regions of the Ćakra-vāla. To be re-born in Hell
(Naraka) is the worst of all the six kinds of existence, reserved for
the worst evil-doers, and although the punishment is not eternal, its
shortest duration is for five hundred years of Hell, each day equalling
fifty years of Earth. In Brāhmanism there are twenty-one hells (Manu IV.
88-90). Buddhism originally had only eight. The most terrific (Avīći) is
for revilers of Buddha and his Law.

Above the subdivisions of Hell come the other sensuous worlds
(Kāma-lokas), thus:—(2) the world of animals; (3) that of Pretas or
ghosts; (4) that of Asuras or demons; (5) the earth, or world of men,
with concentric circles of seven seas.

Having distributed all possible places of habitation for migrating
beings under the three heads of Hell, four lower worlds, and twenty-six
heavens (described at p. 206), Buddhism holds that there are only six
forms or ways (gati) of existence through which living beings can pass,
and under which every thing that has life must be classed, and of these
the first two ways are good, the last four bad, thus:—1. Gods; 2. Men;
3. Asuras, or demons, inhabiting spaces under the earth; 4. Animals; 5.
Pretas, or ghosts, recently inhabitants of earth, and ever consumed with
hunger and thirst; 6. Beings undergoing torment in the hells.

As to the gods, bear in mind that Buddhism recognized most of the
deities of Hindūism. See p. 206.

Such gods existed in subtle corporeal forms, and, though not omnipotent,
were capable of working benefit or harm. They were subject to the
universal law of dissolution, and after death were succeeded by others,
so that there was not one Brahmā or one Ṡakra, but many successive
deities so named, and many classes of deities under them. They had no
power of effecting any person’s salvation. On the contrary, they had to
see to their own, and were inferior to the perfected man.

Moreover, to be born in the world of the gods seems not to have implied
any vast accumulation of merit, for we read of a certain frog that from
simply listening to the Buddha’s voice, while reciting the Law, was born
as a god in the Trayastriṉṡa heaven (Hardy, p. 392).

In short, the constant revolving of the wheel of life in one eternal
circle, according to fixed and immutable laws, is perhaps after all the
sum and substance of the philosophy of Buddhism. And this eternal wheel
or circle has, so to speak, six spokes representing six forms of

When any one of the six classes of beings dies, he must be born again in
some one of these same six classes, for there are no other possible ways
(gati) of life, and he cannot pass into plants, stones, and inorganic
matter, as in the Brāhmanical system (see p. 108). If he be born again
in one of the hells he is not thereby debarred from seeking salvation,
and even if he be born in heaven as a god, he must at some time or other
leave it and seek after a higher state still—that of the perfect man who
has gained Nirvāṇa and is soon to achieve the one consummation worth
living for, the one crown worth striving for—extinction of personal
existence in Pari-nirvāṇa (see pp. 138-142).

                              LECTURE VI.
   _The Morality of Buddhism and its chief aim—Arhatship or Nirvāṇa._

The first questions suggested by the subject of this lecture will
probably be:—

How could a life of morality be inculcated by one who made all life
proceed from ignorance, and even virtuous conduct in one sense a
mistake, as leading to continuity of life, and therefore of suffering?
How could the Buddha’s first commandment be, ‘Destroy not,’ when his
ideal of perfection was destruction? How could he say, ‘be active,’ when
his theory of Karma (pp. 110, 114) made action conduce to misery?

The inconsistency is evident, but it is no less true that,
notwithstanding the doctrine that all existence entails misery, and that
all action, good or bad, leads to future births, Gautama taught that the
life of a man in higher bodily forms, or in one of the heavens, was
better than a life in lower forms, or in one of the hells, and that
neither a higher form of life nor the great aim of Nirvāṇa could be
attained without righteous action, meditation, and true knowledge.

Buddhism, indeed, as we have seen, could not hold forth as an incentive
to good behaviour any belief in a Creator rewarding and punishing his
creatures according to their works, or pardoning their sins. It could
not inculcate piety; for in true Buddhism piety was impossible; yet like
Manu (II. 6) it made morality (ṡīla) the basis of Law (Dharma); it
stimulated good conduct by its doctrine of repeated births, and by
pictures of its numerous heavens, and it deterred men from unrighteous
acts by its terrible places of torment.

Let it then be made clear from the first that Buddhism, in inculcating
morality, used no word expressive of morality, as founded on the love
and fear of God, or of sin as an offence against God.

In Buddhism the words kleṡa (kileso), ‘pain,’ and akuṡala, ‘demerit,’
take the place of ‘sin,’ and its perfect saint is said to be ‘free from
pain’ (nishkleṡa) and from demerit, not from sin in our sense. By an
unrighteous act it meant an act producing suffering and demerit of some
kind (p. 113), and it bade every man act righteously in order to escape
suffering and to accumulate merit (kuṡala), and thus work out his own
perfection—that is to say, his own self-extinction.

Doubtless Buddhism deserves credit for laying stress on right belief,
right words, right work, instead of on ceremonial rites; and on the
worship of Hindū gods; but it had its own idea of right. It urged
householders to abandon the world, or else to be diligent in serving its
monks for the working out of their own salvation; and while making
morality, meditation, and enlightenment its indispensable factors in
securing perfection, it made perfection consist in freedom from the
delusion that ‘I am;’ and in deliverance from an individual existence
inseparably bound up with misery.

Mark, too, another contradiction. It inculcated entire self-dependence
in working out this kind of perfection, and yet it set before its
disciples three guides; namely, the Buddha’s own example, the Law
(Dharma), and the example of the whole body of monks and perfected
saints (Saṅgha).

We now turn to its fuller moral system, keeping this distinct from its
philosophy and metaphysics, and freely admitting that there are in
Buddhist morality many things, true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, and
of good report.

It is fair to point out at the outset that Buddhist morality was not a
purely external matter. It divided men into the outwardly correct and
internally sincere. The mere outwardly correct Buddhists might include
monks as well as laymen, though a higher standard of profession was
expected of monks. The internally sincere were the really earnest
seekers after perfection (monks and laymen), and were divided into four
classes, representing four conditions of the inner life, lower, higher,
still higher, and highest, culminating in perfect Saintship, Arhatship,
and Nirvāṇa (p. 132).

At the same time there was not much hope of saintship except through
celibacy and monkhood; for in true Buddhism the notion of holy
family-life was almost a contradiction in terms.

Of course the Buddhist moral code soon passed beyond the eightfold path
propounded by Gautama in his first sermon (see p. 44), and Dr. Oldenberg
has shown that in the absence of a systematically arranged code, we may
still trace out amid a confusion of precepts the three leading duties of
external moral conduct (ṡīla), of internal mental concentration
(samādhi), and of acquiring true wisdom (paññā = prajñā). Compare Dr.
Wenzel’s ‘Friendly Epistle,’ 53.

The five fundamental rules of moral conduct (ṡīla), or rather,
prohibitions, were promulgated very early:—

1. Kill not any living thing. 2. Steal not. 3. Commit not adultery. 4.
Lie not. 5. Drink not strong drink. These five, having reference chiefly
to one’s neighbour, were called the fivefold law _for all classes_,
including laymen. They were taken from Brāhmanism, but in the vows of
the Sannyāsī the fifth was not included. It was Buddhism probably that
first interdicted strong drink. It prohibited too what the Brāhmans
allowed—killing for sacrificial purposes.

Five others of a more trivial character for monks (often given in a
different order, p. 78) were added:—

6. Eat no food, except at stated times. 7. Use no wreaths, ornaments, or
perfumes. 8. Use no high or broad bed, but only a mat on the ground. 9.
Abstain from dancing, singing, music, and worldly spectacles. 10. Own no
gold, or silver of any kind, and accept none (Mahā-vagga I. 56). [This
Buddhist Decalogue may be contrasted with the Mosaic Decalogue.]

All ten were binding on monks only, and for the third was then
substituted ‘be absolutely chaste.’

Sometimes not only the first five but the first eight were held to be
binding on laymen.

Another was added in later times:—Never think or say that your own
religion is the best. Never denounce the religion of others (see p. 90).

Then, although only the first half of the eightfold path (p. 44) was
said to be necessary for lay-brethren, the whole was for monks, who also
had to observe the special practices already described (p. 76).

All gambling and games of chance were prohibited (Tevijja-Sutta II).
Compare Manu IX. 221-228.

Sometimes five renunciations are named:—of wife, of children, of money,
of life, of craving for existence in future births.

Then sometimes three (sometimes four) corrupting influences (āsava =
āsrava) are enumerated—of lust (kāma), of life, of ignorance, (of

Most important to be got rid of are the ten fetters (saṃyojana, p. 45)
binding a man to existence:—

1. Belief in the existence of a personal self or Ego (sakkāya-diṭṭhi);
2. Doubt (vićikitsā); 3. Ceremonial practices (sīlabbata = ṡīla-vrata);
4. Lust or sensuality (kāma); 5. Anger (paṭigha); 6. Craving for life in
a material form (rūpa-rāga) either on earth or in heaven; 7. Longing for
immaterial life (arūpa-rāga) in the higher heavens; 8. Pride (māna); 9.
Self-exaltation (auddhatya); 10. Ignorance. Of these, 1, 3, and 4, with
diṭṭhi, ‘wrong belief,’ are the four constituents of Upādāna, ‘clinging
to existence’ (p. 109).

The seven jewels of the law (p. 49) are—1. the five contemplations or
reflections; 2. the four right exertions (p. 50); 3. the four paths to
supernatural power (p. 50); 4. the five moral forces (p. 50); 5. the
right use of the five organs of sense; 6. the seven limbs of knowledge
(p. 50); 7. the eightfold path (p. 44).

The five above-named reflections are—1. on the thirty-two impurities of
the body; 2. on the duty of displaying love (Maitrī) towards all beings;
3. on compassion for all who suffer; 4. on rejoicing with all who
rejoice; 5. on absolute indifference (upekshā) to joy or sorrow. These
contemplations (bhāvanā) in Buddhism take the place of prayer. The last
is the highest. The first is also a Sati-paṭṭhāna (p. 49). They must not
be confused with the meditations (Dhyānas, p. 209).

Then come six (or ten) transcendent virtues called Pāramitās, ‘leading
to the further shore,’ for Arhats. These, too, every Bodhi-sattva had to
practise before he could attain Buddhahood. They were:—1. Generosity or
giving (Dāna) to all who ask, even the sacrificing of limbs or life for
others; this is most important; 2. Virtue or moral conduct (Ṡīla); 3.
Patience or tolerance (Kshānti); 4. Fortitude or energy (Vīrya); 5.
Suppression of desire (Nekkhamma = naishkāmya), or, according to some,
profound contemplation; 6. Transcendental wisdom (Pañña = Prajñā). To
which are added—7. Truth (Satya); 8. Steadfast resolution (Adhishṭhāna);
9. Good-will or kindness (Maitra); 10. Absolute indifference or
imperturbability or apathy (Upekshā), resulting in a kind of ecstatic

This kind of memorial tabulation in lists of 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, etc., is of
course a product of later Buddhism.

I now give examples from the Dharma-pada:—

‘By oneself is evil done; by oneself is one injured; by oneself is evil
left undone; by oneself is one purified; no one purifies another.’
(Compare Manu IV. 240.)

‘Better than dominion over the earth, better than going to Heaven, or
having sovereignty over the worlds, is the attainment of the first step
in sanctification.’

‘Not to commit evil, to accumulate merit by good deeds (kusalassa
upasampadā), to purify the heart, this is the doctrine of the
Enlightened’ (165, 178, 183).

‘As a frontier town is guarded[52] within and without, so guard
thyself.’ (Dh. 315.)

‘He who holds back rising anger like a rolling chariot, him I call a
real driver; any other merely holds the reins.’ (Dh. 222. Compare Manu
II. 88.)

‘Let a man overcome anger by gentleness, let him overcome the evil by
good; the parsimonious by liberality, the liar by truth.’ (Dh. 223. Manu
VI. 47, 48.)

‘The fully enlightened finds no satisfaction even in heavenly pleasures;
but only in suppression of desires.’

‘One by one, little by little, moment by moment, a wise man frees
himself from personal impurities as a refiner blows away the dross of
silver.’ (Dh. 187, 239.)

‘There is a treasure laid up in the heart, a treasure of charity,
purity, temperance, soberness. A treasure, secure, impregnable, that no
thief can steal; a treasure that follows after death. (Compare Manu IV.
241.) Universal science, all the perfections, supernatural knowledge,
supreme Buddhaship itself this treasure can procure.’ (Childers’

The following are some of the blessed states described in the
Mahāmaṅgala-sutta. They prove that Gautama required married men to
discharge their duties faithfully.

‘The succouring of mother and father, the cherishing of child and wife,
and the following of a peaceful calling, this is the greatest blessing’
(maṅgalam uttamam).

‘The giving alms, a religious life, aid rendered to relations, blameless
acts, this is the greatest blessing.’

‘Reverence and humility, contentment and gratefulness, the hearing of
the Law at the right time, this is the greatest blessing.’

‘Patience and lowly speech, association with religious men, recitation
of the Law at the right time, this is the greatest blessing.’

‘Self-mortification and chastity, discernment of the noble truths,
perception of Nirvāṇa, this is the greatest blessing.’

In the Aṅguttara (II. iv. 2) it is said that no adequate return can be
made by children to parents ‘even by menial service.’ With Gautama, to
honour father and mother was better than to worship the gods of heaven.

Many other examples might be given. Not only was a man forbidden to
kill, he was never to injure.

Then in the Rājovāda Jātaka we have the story of the one king ‘who
overcomes the strong by strength, the soft by softness, the good by
goodness, and the wicked by wickedness;’ and of the other king ‘who
conquers anger by calmness, the wicked by goodness, the stingy by gifts,
the liar (alika-vādinam) by truth.’

Other precepts require a man to exercise charity and respect towards all
aged persons, teachers, servants, and animals. He was to set an example
of self-sacrifice.

It is recorded of Gautama Buddha that on one occasion he plucked out his
own eyes, and that on another he cut off his own head, and that on a
third he cut his own body to pieces to redeem a dove from a hawk.

Yet we repeat that with all this apparently sublime morality no true
idea of sin, as displeasing to a Holy God, was connected with the
infraction of the moral code. Nor did a Buddhist always avoid harming
others from any true reverence for life. He was to cherish the life of
others, but his chief motive was the fear that by not doing so he would
entail the misery of continuous life on himself; and his chief motive
for avoiding anger was that it was incompatible with that equanimity,
which ought to characterize every wise man who aimed at the extinction
of his own personality.

The ease with which charitable acts might be performed is amusingly
illustrated by a story told in Huc’s travels in Tibet. A certain zealous
fellow-traveller (who considered that it was quite possible to be at the
same time a good Buddhist and a good Christian) invited the French
missionaries to co-operate with him in performing charitable acts to
commemorate the termination of a fatiguing journey, especially by
providing worn-out travellers, like themselves, with horses. The
missionaries pleaded their own poverty, but to their surprise were told
that they were only required to draw horses on paper, which were taken
to the edge of a precipice, thrown up into the air, and, certain
formularies being recited, were carried away by the wind and changed
into real horses by the power of Buddha.

Let us by no means, however, shut our eyes to the praiseworthy feature
of the Buddhist system mentioned at page 125—its recognition of the need
of inner purity and sanctification—an inner Buddhism of the heart,
without which even a monk was no true Buddhist. Of course the Law could
be observed superficially without any real heart-belief or heart-purity.

When the inner heart-condition of a Buddhist is described, he is said to
be walking on one of four paths (ćattāro Maggā), and is then called
Ariyo (= Ārya), ‘worthy of reverence’ (distinguished from Pṛithag-jana,
‘an ordinary professing Buddhist’). To avoid confounding these paths
with the eightfold path (p. 44) it would be better to speak of them as
four stages of inner sanctification. Dhyāna, ‘meditation,’ of four
kinds, is the chief means of entering and passing through these stages
(p. 32), which once entered can never be abandoned.

The first stage is that of the man—be he monk or layman—who is just
converted, by an inner awakening, to true heart-Buddhism. This man has
freed himself from the first three fetters—namely, delusion of self,
doubts about the Buddha’s doctrine, and dependence on external rites (p.
127). He is called Sotāpanno, ‘one who has entered the stream’
(Srota-āpanna), _inevitably_ carrying him onwards—though not necessarily
in the same body—to the calm ocean of Nirvāṇa, and his state is called
Sotāpatti. He can only be re-born as a god or man, but not in the four
lower births (p. 121).

Mark that the doctrine of ‘perseverance’ is a remarkable feature in this
phase of the Buddhist system.

The second stage is that of the man who has nearly freed himself from
the first five fetters, but has a sufficient number left to cause one
more birth on the earth. He is called Sakad-āgāmī (Sakṛid-āg°).

The third stage is that of the man who is quite free from the first five
fetters. Such a man can only be re-born in a Brahmā heaven, from which
he reaches Nirvāṇa. He is therefore called An-āgāmī, ‘one who will not
come back to earth.’

The fourth stage is that of the completely freed man who attains
Arhatship (Arahattaṃ) in this life, and will at death experience no
re-birth. There is, of course, a difference between one who has only
just entered each stage of the journey and one who has reached the
terminus. And this Arhatship is open to all (even to women), though only
likely to be attained by true monks or true nuns. The name Arhat (Pāli
Arahā, in Ceylon Rahat), ‘most deserving’ (root _arh_), is significant
of the highest merit; for the Arhat is perfect, freed from all pain
(nishkleṡa), from all the ten fetters, from all attachment to existence
(upādāna) whether on earth or in heaven, and from all re-creative
Act-force. He has already entered Nirvāṇa, and while still living he is
dead to the world. He is the Jīvan-mukta, ‘emancipated living man,’ of
the Yoga. By the force of the fourth Dhyāna, he has gained the Abhijñās
(Abhiññā), or ‘transcendent faculties of knowledge,’ the inner eye,
inner ear, knowledge of all thoughts, and recollection of previous
existences, and the extraordinary powers over matter called Iddhi (=
Ṛiddhi). In short he is Asekha, ‘one who has nothing to learn.’

Although, theoretically, a layman and even beings existing in other
spheres, might enter the stream leading to Arhatship (see p. 90) without
becoming monks, yet it is evident that as a rule it was only likely to
be entered by persons who renounced the world and led a celibate
monastic life.

But of Arhats there are three grades:—

First, the simple Arhat (described above), who has attained perfection
through his own efforts and the doctrine and example of a supreme
Buddha, but is not himself such a Buddha, and cannot teach others how to
attain Arhatship, though he associates with others.

Secondly, and second in rank, but far above the simple Arhat, the
Pratyeka-Buddha or Solitary Saint, who has attained perfection for
himself and by himself alone, and not as a member of any monastic Order,
nor through the teaching of any supreme Buddha (except in some former
birth). This solitary hermit-like Arhat—a kind of concentration of
isolated or selfish sanctity—is symbolized by a rhinoceros. He does not
appear on earth at the same time with a supreme Buddha, and has not the
same epithets (p. 23) applied to him.

Thirdly, the supreme Buddha or Buddha _par excellence_ (once a
Bodhi-sattva), who, having by his own self-enlightening insight attained
perfect knowledge (sambodhi), and having, by the practice of the
transcendent virtues (p. 128) and through extinction of the passions and
of all desire for life, become entitled to that complete extinction of
bodily existence (pari-nirvāṇa), in which the perfection of all
Arhatship must end, has yet delayed this consummation that he may become
the Saviour of a suffering world—not in the same manner as the God-sent
Saviour of Christianity, but by teaching men how to save themselves.
This is the supreme Buddha, the founder of the whole monastic Order,
immeasurably superior both to Pratyeka-Buddhas and to all mere Arhats.

He said of himself (Mahā-vagga I. 6, 8),—‘I am the all-subduer
(sabbābhibhū); the all-wise; I have no stains; through myself I possess
knowledge; I have no rival (paṭipuggalo); I am the chief Arhat—the
highest teacher; I alone am the absolutely wise (Sambuddha); I am the
Conqueror (Jina); all the fires of desire are quenched (sītibhūto) in
me; I have Nirvāṇa (nibbuto).’ See p. 42 of this volume.

This seems a marvellous assumption on the part of one who never claimed
to be other than a man; yet he had taken the idea from Brāhmanism, which
held that its saints could surpass all gods (Brahmă only excepted).

Such supreme Buddhas, who are perfect knowers, and also perfect teachers
of the truth, are only manifested on the earth at long intervals of

Gautama is the fourth Buddha of the present age (Bhadra-Kalpa). He was a
Kshatriya; his three mythical predecessors—Kraku-ććhanda, Kanaka-muni,
and Kāṡyapa—having been sons of Brāhmans. He is to be followed by the
fifth Buddha, Maitreya (a name meaning ‘full of love towards all
beings’), but not until the doctrine of Gautama has passed out of men’s
memory after five thousand years (p. 181). In their previous existences
Gautama and his predecessors were, (see pp. 98, 112,) Bodhi-sattvas[53],
‘beings who have knowledge (derived from intellect) for their essence,’
a name borne by all destined to become supreme Buddhas as well as by the
first of Gautama’s successors, Maitreya.

This coming Buddha is, as we shall see hereafter, an object of universal
reverence among later Buddhists of all sects as a kind of expected
Messiah or Saviour. Often, indeed, he is more honoured than Gautama
himself, because he is interested in the present order of things, as
well as in the future, while Gautama Buddha and all his predecessors
have passed away into non-being.

Twenty-four mythical Buddhas (the first being Dīpaṃkara, ‘Light-causer’)
are held to have appeared[54] before Gautama in preceding cycles of
time. Many particulars about them are given, including their
birth-places, the length of their lives and their statures. Gautama
himself is said to have met some of them during his transmigrations.
Even the trees under which they achieved supreme wisdom are enumerated.

Sometimes the last six of the twenty-four are reckoned with Gautama
Buddha as constituting seven principal Buddhas[55], who seem to have
been grouped together to correspond with the Brāhmanical seven Manus of
the present Kalpa. Usually, however, Gautama is held to be the last of
twenty-five Buddhas.

Clearly, then, the principal lines of Buddhist moral teaching all
converge to one focus—to the perfected Arhat or rather to a still
brighter point of light in the perfect Buddha waiting for his reward—the
nectar of the eternal state of complete Nirvāṇa.

And this compels us to attempt some explanation of Nirvāṇa. In the first
place forty-six synonyms of it are given in the Abhidhānappadīpikā, e.g.
Mokkha or Mutti, ‘deliverance,’ Nirodha, ‘cessation,’ Taṉhakkhaya
(tṛishṇā-kshaya), ‘destruction of lust,’ Arūpa, Khema, Kevala, Apavagga,
‘emancipation,’ Nibbuti (= nirvṛiti), ‘quietude,’ Amata (Amṛita),
‘deathless nectar.’

The following is from Rhys Davids’ Jātaka (p. 4): ‘One day the wise
Sumedhā fell a-thinking, thus:—“Grievous is re-birth in a new existence,
and the dissolution of the body in each successive place where we are
re-born. I am subject to birth, to decay, to disease, to death. It is
right, being such, that I should strive to attain the great deathless
Nirvāṇa, which is tranquil, and free from birth, decay, sickness, grief,
and joy.

‘“For as in this world there is pleasure—the opposite of pain—so where
there is existence there must be its opposite, the cessation of
existence; and as where there is heat there is also cold which
neutralizes it, so there must be a Nirvāṇa that extinguishes (the fires
of) lust and the other passions; and as in opposition to a bad and evil
condition there is a good and blameless one, so where there is evil
Birth there must also be Nirvāṇa, called the Birthless, because it puts
an end to all re-birth.

‘“Just as a man who has fallen into a heap of filth, if he beholds afar
off a great pond covered with lotuses of five colours, ought to seek
that pond, saying, ‘By what way shall I arrive there?’ but if he does
not seek it, the fault is not that of the pond; even so where there is
the lake of the great deathless Nirvāṇa.”’

What, then, is the proper definition of Nirvāṇa (Pāli Nibbāna)? In
venturing on an explanation of so controverted a term, I feel rather
like a foolhardy person walking barefoot over thorny ground.
Nevertheless I may fearlessly assert two things about it.

The first is, that the term Nirvāṇa was not originated by Gautama. It
was an expression common to both Brāhmanism and Buddhism, and most of
its synonyms such as moksha, apavarga, and nirvṛiti are still common to
both. It was current in Gautama’s time, and certainly occurs in the
Mahā-bhārata, parts of which are of great antiquity.

In the celebrated episode of that poem called Bhagavad-gītā[56], V. 24,
we find the following:—

‘That Yogī who is internally happy, internally satisfied and internally
illumined, attains extinction in the Supreme Being, and becomes that
Being’ (Yo ’ntaḥsukho ‘ntarārāmas tathāntarjyotir eva yaḥ, | Sa Yogī
Brahma-nirvāṇaṃ[57] Brahma-bhūto ’dhigaććhati).

The second point is that it would be about as unreasonable to expect
that Nirvāṇa should always be explained in one way as to restrict
Brāhmanism and Buddhism—two most elastic, comprehensive, and Protean
systems, which have constantly changed their front to suit changing
circumstances and varying national peculiarities at different epochs and
in different countries—to one hard and fast outline.

It is certainly singular that although the term Nibbāna (Sanskṛit
Nirvāṇa)—like some of the crucial theological terms of Christianity—has
led to endless discussions, it does not occur often in the Pāli texts.
The word Arahattam, ‘Arhatship,’ is more common.

Nirvāṇa, of course, originally means ‘the state of a blown-out flame.’
Hence its first meaning is properly restricted to the complete
extinction of the three chief fires[58] of lust, ill-will, and delusion,
and a total cessation of all evil passions and desires[59], especially
of the desire for individual existence (name and form).

Following on this is the state of release from all pain and from all
ignorance, accompanied by a sense of profound rest—a state achieved by
all Arhats while still living in the world[60], and notably by the
Buddha at the moment when he attained Buddhahood, forty-five years
before his final Pari-nirvāṇa. Nirvāṇa then is not necessarily the
annihilation of all existence. It is the absence of kleṡa (p. 124), as
in the Yoga system, and corresponds very much to the Brāhmanical
Apavarga, described in the Nyāya, and defined by a commentator,
Vātsyāyana, to be Sarva-duḥkha-ćheda (‘the cutting off of all pain’). In
short, it is Arhatship.

But besides Nirvāṇa we have the expression Pari-nirvāṇa. This is not
merely the blowing out of the fires of the passions but also the entire
cessation of re-births, with extinction of all the elements or seeds of
bodily existence. This took place when the Buddha died or ‘passed away’
after innumerable previous deaths. Practically, however, in Buddhism the
death of every ordinary being amounts to this kind of Nirvāṇa; for, if
there is no recollection of any former state of existence in the new
being created by Karma, what is every death but utter personal

Now with regard to the Nirvāṇa of Arhatship, no one can have come in
contact with the natives of India in their own country, without
observing that for a genuine aristocratic Brāhman to allow others to see
him give way to any passion, to exhibit any emotion or enthusiasm, is
regarded as a proof of weakness.

We can easily understand, therefore, that when the Buddha exhorted his
followers to strive after a wholly impassive condition, he addressed a
sympathetic audience.

Long before his exhortations were heard in India, his fellow-countrymen
held persons in the highest respect who claimed to have entirely
suppressed their passions. The only peculiarity in Gautama’s teaching
was that he made this object incumbent on all true Buddhists alike,
without exception. And this state of absolute imperturbability is well
indicated to the eye by the usual attitude of the images which, after
Gautama’s death, were carved to represent him—an attitude of passionless
composure, and dignified calm.

In the interesting Pāli work Milinda-praṡna (Milinda-pañho), containing
a conversation on the subject of Nirvāṇa between King Milinda (Menander)
and the monk Nāgasena (supposed to have lived about 140 B.C.), the
latter compares it to the pure water which quenches fire, and to the
fathomless Ocean freed from trouble and impurities, which no river,
however vast, can fill to overflowing; and to the Air, which cannot be
seen or explained, though it enters our bodies and fills us with life;
and to Space, which is eternal and infinite, and beyond the power of man
to conceive.

I trust I shall not shock my Indian friends if I illustrate this
condition by a comparison of my own drawn from the animal creation. In
crossing the Indian Ocean, when unruffled by the slightest breeze, I
have sometimes observed a jelly-fish floating on the surface of the
transparent water, apparently lifeless. The creature is evidently
neither asleep nor awake. It certainly is not thinking about anything,
and its consciousness is doubtful. All that can be affirmed about it is
that it seems to be drinking in the warm fluid in a state of lazy
blissful repose.

No Buddhist, at least, could look at such a sight without being reminded
of this idea of Nirvāṇa—the idea of, so to speak, floating in perfect
repose and peace and cessation from all pain, and all work, and even all
thought, on a kind of ocean of half conscious, half unconscious
beatitude. It is not consciousness, neither is it unconsciousness. It is
symbolized by a full-blown, perfectly formed lotus—a frequent emblem of
perfection—reposing on a calm mirror-like lake.

With regard to Pari-nirvāṇa[61]—the complete termination of migrations
and passing away of all the elements of bodily existence—if this is to
be distinguished from the Brāhmanical idea of absorption into an
impersonal spirit—whereby the Ego of personal identity is destroyed—it
is a distinction without much difference.

Strictly, however, in Buddhism the dissolution of the body leaves no
surviving personality or individuality, and consequently Pari-nirvāṇa is
not properly described either as absorption into a void (ṡūnya) or as
annihilation. It is simply the absolute termination of a series of
conscious bodily organizations. The Buddha himself evaded dogmatic
definitions, and would probably have said:—it is not life, neither is it
non-life; it may be compared to infinite space (ṡūnya) which is not to
be comprehended or explained.

We should also bear in mind that although Nirvāṇa and Pari-nirvāṇa
constitute the ultimate goal to which all the morality of a true
Buddhist tends, they have no place either in the aims or thoughts of the
ordinary adherents of Buddhism at the present day.

The apex of all the desires, the culminating point of all the ambition
of the most religiously-minded Buddhists of modern times, points to a
life in one of the heavens, while the great mass of the people aim only
at escaping one of the hells, and elevating themselves to a higher
condition of bodily existence in their next birth on this earth, and
perhaps on that very part of this earth which is the scene of their
present toils, joys, and sorrows.

It only remains for me to caution those who may be impressed with the
beauty of some of the precepts of the moral code and its theory of
perfection, as ending in Pari-nirvāṇa, against deducing therefrom too
optimistic an estimate of the Buddhist system. Buddhist morality is like
a showy edifice built on the sand. It is a thoroughly fair-weather
structure, incapable of standing against flood, storm, and tempest.

It may be summed up in a few words as a scheme for the establishing of a
paradox—for the perfecting of one’s self by accumulating merit with the
ultimate view of annihilating all consciousness of self—a system which
teaches the greatest respect for the life of others, with the ultimate
view of extinguishing one’s own.

It must, in short, be clearly understood that if any comparison be
instituted between Buddhism and Christianity in regard to the
self-abnegation, or self-sacrifice which each claims to inculcate, the
self to be got rid of in Buddhism is not the selfishness condemned by
Christianity, but rather the self of individuality—the self of
individual life, and personal identity.

To be righteous in a Christian sense a man must be God-like, and to be
righteous in a Buddhistic sense a man must be Buddha-like; but the
righteousness of the Buddhist is not the perfection of holiness by the
extinction of sin committed against God, but the perfection of
merit-making, with the view of earning happiness for himself in a higher
state hereafter.

For every Buddhist is like a trader who keeps a ledger, with a regular
debtor and creditor account, and a daily entry of profit and loss.

He must not take, make, or hoard money. He is forbidden to store up a
money-balance in a worldly bank, but he is urged to be constantly
accumulating a merit-balance in the bank of Karma.

In conclusion, let the Buddha enforce his own moral teaching in his own
way, by allegory and illustration drawn from real life:—When asked by a
Brāhman ‘why he did not plough and sow and earn his own bread?’ he
replied to the following effect: ‘I do plough and sow and eat immortal
fruit (Amata = Amṛita); my plough is wisdom (paṇṇā); my shaft is
modesty; my draught-ox, exertion; my goad, earnest meditation (sati); my
mind, the rein. Faith (saddhā) in the doctrine is the seed I sow;
cleaving to life is the weed I root up; truth is the destroyer of the
weed; Nirvāṇa and deliverance from misery are my harvest.’
(Kasi-bhāradvāja-sutta of the Sutta-nipāta.)

This may be compared with St. Luke viii. 11-15; but have we not here a
contrast rather than a comparison?

Perhaps some may think that the contrast is not unfavourable to
Buddhism. Nay, possibly some may complain that I have not enlarged
sufficiently on the remarkable resemblance between certain moral
precepts in the Buddhist code and in the Christian. I admit this
resemblance—I admit that both tell us:—not to love the world; not to
love money; not to show enmity towards our enemies; not to do
unrighteous or impure acts—to overcome evil by good, and to do to others
as we would be done by.

Nay, I admit even more:—I allow that some Buddhist precepts go beyond
the corresponding Christian injunctions. For Buddhism prohibits all
killing—even of animals and noxious insects. It demands total abstinence
from stimulating drinks—disallowing even moderation in their use. It
excludes all who aim at perfect sanctity from the holy estate of
matrimony. It bids a man, if he strives after perfection, abandon the
world and lead a life of monkhood. In fine, its morality is essentially
a monkhood-morality. It enjoins total abstinence, because it dares not
trust human beings to be temperate. How indeed could it trust them when
it promises them no help, no divine grace, no restraining power?

The glory of Christianity is that having freely given that grace and
that power to man, it trusts him to make use of the gift. It seems to
speak to him thus:—Thy Creator wills to trust thee and to be trusted by
thee; He has endowed thee with freedom of choice, and therefore respects
thy liberty of action. He imposes no rule of total abstinence in regard
to natural desires; He simply bids thee keep them within bounds, so that
thy moderation may be known unto all men; He places thee in the world
amid trials and temptations and says to thee, ‘My grace is sufficient
for thee’ and by its aid thou mayest overcome them all.

Yes, the grand difference between the morality of Buddhism and the
morality of Christianity is not in the letter of the precepts, but in
the principle and motive power brought to bear on their application.

Buddhism says:—Be righteous by yourselves, and through yourselves, and
for the getting rid of all life in yourselves. Christianity says:—Be
righteous through the power of God’s gift of eternal life in His Son. In
a word, Buddhism founds its morality on self. Christianity founds its
morality on Christ.

The Buddha said to his followers:—Take nothing from me, trust to no one
but to yourselves.

Christ said, and says to us still:—Take all from me; take this free
gift. Put on this spotless robe. Eat this Bread of Life. Drink this
Living Water.

Think you that any one who receives a priceless gift, is likely
willingly to insult the Giver of it? Think you that any one who accepts
a snow-white robe is likely willingly to soil it by impure acts? Think
you that any one who tastes life-giving Bread is likely to relish husks?
or that any one who draws deep draughts at a living Well is likely to
prefer the polluted water of a stagnant pool?

Beware, then, of judging by the mere letter; or, should you insist on so
judging, bear in mind that everywhere the Buddha’s Law is a dead letter,
because the Buddha is dead; just as the Sermon on the Mount would be a
dead letter, if Christ were dead.

Finally, let me say to the admirers of Buddhism:—

If you insist on placing its moral code on the same level with that of
Christianity, ask yourselves one plain question—Who would be the more
likely to lead a godly, righteous, and sober life, a life of moderation
and temperance, a life of holiness and happiness—the man who has learnt
his morality from the dead, the extinct Buddha, or the man who draws his
morality and his holiness from the living, the eternal, the life-giving

                              LECTURE VII.
        _Changes in Buddhism and its disappearance from India._

In the preceding Lectures I have confined myself chiefly to the
consideration of what may be called _true Buddhism_ as taught by its
Founder and developed by his immediate followers and disciples during
the first two or three centuries of its existence in the land of its
birth, India.

To attempt an explanation of all the subsequent phases of Buddhism
would, as I have before stated, require the command of unlimited time.
All I can hope to accomplish in the concluding Lectures is to give a
very general idea of the nature of the changes Buddhism underwent before
it died out in India, and of its corruptions in some of the countries
bordering on India and in North-eastern Asia.

And I may add that those who desire correct views on this subject, ought
not to trust to mere inferences and theories founded on a critical
perusal of the so-called Sacred Books of the Buddhists. For it is
certain that without any practical experience of what Buddhism has
become in modern times—I mean such an experience as can only be gained
by residing or travelling in countries where Buddhism now prevails—the
mere study of its ancient scriptures is likely to be misleading.

At the same time book-knowledge is indispensable, and it is essential to
bring to the study of later Buddhism a scholarlike acquaintance with
Sanskṛit and Pāli. Even a knowledge of Tibetan ought to be added. Nor
ought the inquirer to be ignorant of the science of comparative
religion, seeing that the principles of that science may throw light on
many difficult questions.

For example, a student of comparative religion will be prepared to
expect that all religious systems will diverge more or less from their
original type in the hands of enthusiastic disciples, who are ever
inclined to amplify their master’s teaching and to explain it
differently according to each man’s peculiar temperament and mental
bias, until in the end the original deposit of simple doctrine becomes
overlaid with layer upon layer of adventitious matter.

Nor will he be surprised to find that the tendency of every religious
movement is towards deterioration and disintegration. Nor will it appear
strange to him that the chief conservative force is antagonism. As time
goes on disagreements among the followers of any great leader seem to be
inevitable, and always lead to sectarian divisions and subdivisions. Yet
it is this opposition of religious parties that usually operates to
mitigate the worst extremes of corruption, and tends to bring about
re-forming movements.

Even the progress of Christianity—as history shows too well—furnishes
illustrations of the law of deterioration, disintegration, and
re-formation. At all events, it is certain that no study of the New
Testament is likely to give a true idea of the varying condition of the
Christian religion as exhibited at the present day in different parts of
the world.

But here it is important to caution the student of religions against
forcing a comparison between two systems of doctrine like Christianity
and Buddhism, which are radically and essentially opposed to each other.

The unchristianlike incrustations and divisions which have marred the
original teaching of the Head of our religion exist _in spite_ of
Christianity. They are not the result of any development of its first
principles; whereas, on the contrary, the corruptions and schisms of
Buddhism are the natural and inevitable outcome of its own root-ideas
and fundamental doctrines.

In proof of this let us revert for a moment to the insight we have
gained into the origin of Buddhism.

It will be seen that the most remarkable feature of the Buddha’s
teaching, so far as it has been stated in the preceding Lectures, was
that he altogether ignored the existence in human nature of any
spiritual aspirations, affections, or instincts higher than or distinct
from the natural aspirations, affections, and instincts of humanity; and
of any force outside of human nature capable of aiding a man’s own
efforts in his struggle for salvation. Not that he reviled, or poured
contempt on the religion prevalent among his fellow-countrymen, but that
he found no place in his system for an external Ruler and Controller of
the Universe, and would have stultified his own teaching had he
acknowledged a Supreme Creator, guiding and upholding all things by His
will, and always at hand to co-operate with His creatures and listen to
their supplications.

If it were possible, in short, to condense into a categorical statement
the scattered utterances of a man whose teaching was rarely dogmatic, we
might affirm that it was to the effect that for any man to depend on a
Being higher than himself, or to centre the noblest affections of his
nature on a merciful, just, and holy God, whose presence he yearned for,
whose aid he prayed for, and to whose image he longed to be
assimilated—was a mere delusion, though perhaps a harmless one. He
therefore set aside every supposed supernatural revelation as useless
and incapable of proof. He prescribed no prayer, he enjoined no form of
worship, he established no real church, and instead of a priesthood or
clergy, ordained to aid men in their progress heavenwards or to console
them in the trials of life, he founded an Order of Monks pledged to
denounce human life as not worth living, and bound to abstain from all
participation in human affairs.

It is true that he deserves commendation for having substituted moral
conduct for useless superstitious rites, but his moral code had no other
aim than the suppression of lusts and desires (p. 139, note 2), and his
peculiar stoical philosophy had no other object than the removal of the
ignorance which obstructed the path to true knowledge—the knowledge that
all life is fraught with pain and misery, and not worth perpetuating.

It is admitted, too, that its moral precepts were of a high order; but
it promised man no divine aid in observing them, it supplied him with no
motive power except the selfish hope of benefiting himself in future
states of corporeal existence, and it provided no remedy in case his
attempts to obey its injunctions ended in failure. How, indeed, could it
do any of these things when its only idea of sin was not the infraction
of God’s law, but the commission of an act fraught with evil
consequences to the doer?

Furthermore, it was guilty of the inconsistency of bidding a man cherish
a fellow-feeling for others and diligently engage in all good works,
while it made his true salvation depend on his giving up all love for
wife and children, and setting before himself, as his final goal, a
condition of absolute indifference and inactivity.

What, therefore, I am at present concerned to point out is that, if the
essential doctrines of primitive Buddhism were of the character thus
summarized, a rebound from one extreme to another became inevitable, and
that such a reaction was due to the very nature of the original teaching
of its Founder. In point of fact it was not a development that took
place, but a recoil—like the recoil of a spring held down for a time by
a powerful hand and then released. And this resulted from the simple
working of the eternal instincts of humanity, which insisted on making
themselves felt notwithstanding the unnatural restraint to which the
Buddha had subjected them; so that every doctrine he taught developed by
a kind of irony of fate into a complete contradiction of itself.

Let us take a few examples:—

Buddhism, we know, started with the doctrine that all idea of marriage,
or of happy home-life, was to be abandoned by wise men—by all who aimed
at becoming true Buddhists (in direct contradistinction, we may note, to
the primary Christian truth that it is not good for created man to be
alone, and that therefore his Creator created a help meet for him—a
truth confirmed in a remarkable manner by the Founder of the Christian
Church when He gave the first sign of His divine commission at a
marriage ceremony).

What, then, followed on the Buddha’s original unnatural teaching in
regard to marriage?

Of course an immediate result was that, although according to the
Buddha’s ordinance any one who aimed at perfect sanctity was bound to
lead a celibate life, the rule against marriage was admitted to be
inapplicable to the majority of human beings living in the world. The
mass of the people, in short, were necessarily offenders against the
primary law of Buddhism. Though called lay-Buddhists, they were not
‘wise men’ in the Buddhist sense of the term (pp. 86, 88). There is even
evidence that among certain monkish communities in Northern countries
the law against marriage was soon relaxed. It is well known that at the
present day Lamaseries in Sikkim and Tibet swarm with the children of
monks, though called their nephews and nieces[62]. And far worse than
this, Buddhism ultimately allied itself with Tāntrism or the worship of
the female principle (ṡakti), and under its sanction encouraged the
grossest violations of decency and the worst forms of profligacy.

It was the same in regard to the unnatural vow of poverty. Monasteries
and Lamaseries now possess immense revenues, and monks are often wealthy

Then again, what resulted from the Buddha’s ignoring the existence of a
God, and telling his disciples to abstain from depending on any Being
higher than what man himself could become? Of course this was opposed to
every man’s innermost sense of his own needs and of his own nature. For
man is so constituted that he cannot be happy without loving and
trusting a Being higher than himself—a Being who takes the initiative in
loving His creatures and is the proper object of their loftiest
affections. Nor can man in his secret heart regard either himself or any
one of his fellow-men as a being worthy of his highest adoration. Nor
can he set his affections on a blank or an abstraction. And so, in spite
of the Buddha’s teaching, his followers would act on their own
convictions. They would believe in beings higher than themselves, and in
a personal Creator knowable and lovable by themselves, and knowing and
loving His creatures. Nay, they ultimately converted the Buddha himself
into the very God he denied, calling him ‘The chief god of all the gods’

Again, what was the effect of the Buddha’s leading men to believe that
all supernatural revelation was unneeded—that all enlightenment came
from within, and that every man was competent to think out true
knowledge for himself by the exercise of his own reasoning powers, in
the way that the Buddha himself had done?

Of course the result was that the generality of men who shrank from the
effort of thinking out truth for themselves, and were wholly destitute
of any faculty for doing so, insisted on believing in a revelation from
an external power, and ended in attributing infallibility to the
Buddha’s own teaching, and worshipping the Law of Buddhism—as a visible
embodiment of their deceased teacher—with all the ardour of enthusiastic

Furthermore, what followed on the Buddha’s denying that any prayer,
however earnest, could have any power to modify the operation of natural

Of course men longed for some form of supplication to a higher power,
and so the Buddha’s disciples not only composed prayer-formularies, but
invested the mere letters and syllables of such forms with an efficacy
which no other body of religionists has ever thought of attributing to
prayer of any kind.

They not only repeated mystical sentences, which were called prayers,
though really mere charms, believing that an occult virtue was inherent
in the words, but invented a method of manufacturing such sentences
(Dhāraṇī) like marketable commodities.

They fabricated prayers, in fact, by machinery, inscribing them on
wheels or on rolls inserted in cylinders, which in the present day are
made to revolve by hand or by the force of water and wind, and will
possibly, with the spread of science, be impelled by steam-power, so
that each revolution may count for an infinite number of repetitions,
and be set down to the credit of the owner or manager of the mechanism.

Yet again, what was the inevitable consequence of the Buddha’s rejection
of the doctrine that any benefit could accrue to human beings from
religious services conducted by regularly ordained priests, and of his
instituting in their stead an Order of Monks, who were little better
than a community of drones, contributing nothing to the wealth of the
world, doing nothing of any utility to any one, and taught to regard
inaction as the path of true wisdom?

Naturally, men craved for spiritual helpers, guides, and intercessors,
and so by degrees these very monks conducted elaborate religious
services, and a complicated hierarchy was organized in Tibet, even more
intricate and far-reaching in its ramifications than that of the modern
Romish Church.

And once more, what resulted from the Buddha’s objection to provide
visible images and material objects of worship, with a view to stimulate
devotion or aid meditation?

Of course concrete and objective Buddhism of some kind became a
necessity. It became essential to make concessions to the weakness and
infirmity of human nature, which required external aids, and declined to
be devoted to an ideal void, or to meditate on a pure abstraction. Even
the Founder of Buddhism himself seems to have felt, as we shall see,
that his hold on the memory of his followers would depend on their
venerating certain objects and symbols after his death. Unhappily for
the purity of Buddhism, but quite in conformity with the inveterate
tendencies of humanity, the Buddha’s disciples pushed veneration of
external objects to an extreme. They were not contented with mere
reverence shown to the relics of the Buddha’s burnt body and the shrines
containing them. They worshipped the tree under which he attained
Buddhahood, the seat on which he sat, the prints of his feet, his shadow
supposed to be impressed on rocks, the utensils he used, the books
containing the Law, the wheel which symbolized both the propagation and
the character of his doctrine, and finally bowed down before carved
representations of his body and images of all kinds. It is remarkable
that in Buddhist countries idols are far more numerous than among any
other idolatrous people in the world.

Lastly, what resulted from the Buddha’s teaching that the ultimate end
to which men’s efforts ought to be directed was Nirvāṇa—that is, the
total extinction of all individual existence and personal identity?

Of course men instinctively recoiled from utter self-annihilation, and
so the Buddha’s followers ended in changing the true idea of Nirvāṇa and
converting it from a condition of non-existence into a state of hazy
beatitude in celestial regions, while they encouraged all men—whether
monks or laymen—to make a sense of dreamy bliss in heaven, and not total
extinction of life, the end of all their efforts.

But it was not only this natural and inevitable recoil to the opposite
extreme that ultimately brought about an entire change in primitive
Buddhism. Another cause must also be taken into account.

We have already explained the nature of the tie which bound Buddhism to
Brāhmanism, from the first day on which Gautama sat as a disciple at the
feet of the Brāhman philosophers Udraka and Āḷāra (p. 29). Now, although
this tie was soon loosened, and although the Buddha struck out a line of
his own, and a separation took place, yet the two systems stood on so
much common ground that they were always ready to draw together again.

At all events, it is probable that one system never expelled the other,
and that the constant attrition and contact which took place between
Brāhmanism and Buddhism, led to a considerable splitting up of the
original fabric of Buddhism, involving, of course, many divisions and
subdivisions of Buddhistic thought, some of which were closely allied to
the later developments of Brāhmanical philosophy.

In the Sarva-darṡana-saṅgraha four principal sects of Buddhism are
enumerated, which must have taken root early on Indian soil.

These four were the Vaibhāshika, Sautrāntika, Mādhyamika, and Yogāćāra.
Of these the first two with their subdivisions[63] were realistic, and
were established—though not perhaps thoroughly formulated and
systematized—in very early times, long before the council of Kanishka;
while the two later schools are described as idealistic, the Mādhyamika
being a Buddhistic form of the Vedānta philosophy, and the Yogāćāra
agreeing generally with the Yoga system.

Indeed there is good evidence that Buddhism developed in India a greater
number of schools and phases of thought than Brāhmanism itself. Some
authorities enumerate eighteen divisions (corresponding perhaps to the
eighteen original disciples, pp. 47-73) which existed in king Kanishka’s
time—that is, in the first century of our era, while others specify
thirty-two; and in the fourth century we find the Chinese traveller
Fā-hien (p. 160) making allusion to as many as ninety-six (Dr. Legge’s
translation, p. 62).

We cannot wonder then that the author of the Sarva-darṡana-saṅgraha
expressed himself in rather strong language to the following effect:—

‘Though the venerated Buddha be the only one teacher, his disciples are
manifold; just as when the sun has set, the thief and other evil doers,
the theological student and others understand that it is time to set
about their occupations, according to their several inclinations.’

Yet, after all, it was chiefly in the North, and in consequence of the
council held by Kanishka, India’s greatest Buddhist king after Aṡoka[64]
(see p. 69), that the original features of Buddhism underwent the
greatest change and became overlaid with coating after coating of
extraneous matter. It was there, in Northern regions, in the valley of
the Indus, that the Protean system called Mahā-yāna arose, and grew, by
the operation of the usual laws of accretion, conglomeration,
disintegration, and reintegration, into a congeries of heterogeneous
doctrines, including the worship of Bodhi-sattvas, deified saints, and
personal gods.

Naturally the adherents of this wider method spoke disparagingly of the
simpler system prevalent in the South, whose sacred books were the
Tri-piṭaka of Ceylon written in the ancient vernacular (Pāli). That
system they designated Hīna-yāna, ‘the defective method,’ not denying
however that their own enlarged system grew out of and included the
simpler one.

There arose, too, a third method, or ‘vehicle’ of salvation, called ‘the
middle method’ (Madhyama-yāna). This, however, is not so well known,
and, being a compromise between the other two, never gained many
adherents, though it is still recognized in Tibet—the Tibetans often
speaking of Tri-yāna, or ‘the three vehicles.’

At all events, it is only necessary for practical purposes to recognize
the distinction of the Great and Little Vehicle—the Mahā-yāna[65] and
the Hīna-yāna. And it may be stated generally that the inhabitants of
Nepāl, Tibet, China, Manchuria, Mongolia, and Japan have always shown a
preference for the Mahā-yāna, or ‘Great Vehicle,’ while the people of
Ceylon, Burma, and Siam have always preferred the ‘Little Vehicle.’

At the same time, it is important to note that while the Buddhists of
Northern countries are supposed to be disciples of the Mahā-yāna or
Great Way of Salvation, the Buddhism of each Northern country differs
greatly from that of the other, and that the countries nearest to India
have still further complicated the Mahā-yāna system by adopting mystical
doctrines, and introducing magic and other practices supposed to aid in
the acquisition of supernatural powers.

It must also be borne in mind that, although the Mahā-yāna or Great
Method originated on the Indus, and the Hīna-yāna or Little Method, on
the Ganges, the two streams of teaching were not always confined to
these two areas, even on Indian soil.

In point of fact they were often intermixed, and the changes thus
brought about in Buddhism will become more evident by referring to the
narratives of three well-known Buddhist travellers from China.

Buddhism was introduced into China between 58 and 75 of our era[66], but
it was not till much later that Chinese pilgrims visited India—the holy
land of Buddhism.

The first traveller of whom we have any record was a certain Chinese
Buddhist monk named Fā-hien, who set out on a pilgrimage to India about
the year 399 of our era, with the definite object of searching for and
carrying back to China complete copies of the Vinaya or Rules of
discipline for the Order. He wrote a very simple and straightforward
account of his travels[67]—which lasted for fourteen years—and of his
visits to all the spots in India held most sacred by Buddhists. He was
followed by a Chinese traveller of less mark, named Sang Yun, who
started about 518 A.D., and seems to have ended his journey at Peshawar,
or at least not to have penetrated much further South. Peshawar, we
know, was a great Buddhist centre, and there was a fine Stūpa there,
containing the alms-bowl of Buddha. Then after another interval a much
more celebrated Chinese pilgrim named Hiouen Thsang[68] started for
India (A.D. 629-644). The narrative of his travels for about fifteen
years is perhaps the best known and most commonly quoted of the three.
In Chang Yueh’s preface[69] to these travels Hiouen Thsang is described
as ‘a Doctor of the three Piṭakas, and is said to have translated 657
works from the original Sanskṛit. In all the districts through which he
journeyed he learnt the dialects and investigated the deep secrets of

All three travellers give information in regard to the prevalence of
Buddhism in India up to the seventh century of our era, and the
narratives of two—Fā-hien and Hiouen Thsang—are invaluable for the light
they throw on the changes which Buddhism underwent in the interval of
their travels. Here and there the pilgrims exaggerate, especially when
they venture on numerical statistics or write from hearsay; but on the
whole their accounts may be accepted, and we learn that Hiouen Thsang
found some monasteries in ruins which were flourishing in Fā-hien’s
time, and that the Mahā-yāna had supplanted the earlier form of
Buddhism, or rather co-existed with it in many parts of the South as
well as of the North, and was to be found even in Ceylon[70].

And this brings us face to face with the greatest change of all—the
total dying out of Buddhism in the place of its origin. How is it to be
accounted for that no adherents of either the greater or lesser Buddhist
systems—of either the Mahā-yāna or Hīna-yāna—are to be found in India at
the present moment?

The problem is difficult of solution, and I can only offer a few
suggestions for its elucidation.

In the first place, I think it may be confidently asserted that the
disappearance of Buddhism from India was a very gradual process, and
unattended by any serious or violent religious revolution.

We have already alluded to the tolerant, liberal, and eclectic spirit
which has characterized Buddhism ever since the period of its first
promulgation at Benares.

Such toleration of the doctrines and ideas of co-existing systems had
its advantages, especially in the early stages of the Buddhistic
movement. It certainly had a prophylactic effect in warding off violent
attacks, and helped to promote the diffusion of Buddhism throughout the
numerous countries to which it ultimately spread. In India itself, as we
have already seen, Buddhism was never aggressive or combative. Its motto
everywhere was persuasion and conciliation. Composure, tranquillity, and
absence of acrimony were stamped on all its features. The very
foundation on which it was reared—the very establishment of a celibate
monastic Order, by means of which true knowledge was to be
propagated—had in it something altogether agreeable to the spirit and
usages of Brāhmanism.

We have seen, too, that the Buddha took care to show his respect for
Brāhmanical traditions, even while promulgating a philosophical theory
and preaching doctrines opposed to all sacerdotalism, priestly
privileges, supernatural revelation, and Vedic ceremonial.

It does not, of course, follow that the great teacher, to whom the
majority of Asiatic races have for centuries looked as their chosen
example, had not the courage of his opinions, and was not competent to
fill the rôle of a religious reformer.

The real fact was that he was too wise to enter upon any open crusade
against inveterate customs and ideas. The peculiar calm of an Indian
atmosphere, though occasionally disturbed by political storms sweeping
from distant regions, has rarely been stirred by violent religious
antagonisms. The various currents of Hindū religious life have flowed
peacefully side by side, and reformers have generally done their work
quietly. As for Gautama, there can be little doubt that his whole career
was stamped with the impress of his early surroundings, and that he
imbibed his tolerant ideas from the Brāhmanism in which he had been

It has been usual to blame the Brāhmans for their arrogant
exclusiveness, but their arrogance has been rather shown in magnifying
their own caste-privileges and carrying them to an extravagant pitch,
than in preventing any discussion of their own dogmas, or in resenting
any dissent from them.

The very essence of Brāhmanism was tolerance. Every form of opinion was
admissible under a system which made every person and every object in
existence manifestations of the one Being, Brahmă.

The only delicate ground, on which it was dangerous for any reformer to
tread, was caste. The only unpardonable sin was infringement of
caste-rules. Nor was any one tempted to adopt the rôle of a violent
agitator, when all were free to express any opinion they liked without
hindrance, provided they took care to abstain from any act of
interference with caste-privileges.

It does not appear, in short, that the preachers of either Buddhism, or
Vaishṇavism, or Ṡaivism, or Ṡāktism, or of any form of these sectarian
systems, ever incurred the special animosity of the Brāhmans or of each
other, or ever indulged in very violent denunciations of each other’s
religious doctrines.

In real truth, these systems of doctrine were all evolved out of
Brāhmanism. They were, therefore, not only tolerated by Brāhmanism, but
accepted as the inevitable outcome of its own pantheistic creed.

No doubt each received at first a strong stamp of individuality from its
founder, marking it off from other systems, but with the lapse of years
the deeper shades of difference grew fainter. Then it became a question
which should become merged in the other. In such a competition between
rival systems Buddhism had less chance of holding its own than either
Vaishṇavism or Ṡaivism; for its root-ideas—as we have seen—were not
rooted in the eternal instincts of human nature.

Buddhism, in fact, could never have maintained itself in India till the
twelfth or thirteenth century of our era, had it not gradually, and to a
great extent through interaction with Vaishṇavism and Ṡaivism, dropped
its unnatural pessimistic theory of life and its unpopular atheistic
character, and accommodated itself to those systems.

But Buddhism in parting with its ultra-pessimism and its atheistic and
agnostic ideas, lost its chief elements of individuality and its chief
independent stand-point.

Vaishṇavism, on the other hand, was quite alive to its own interests,
and had an eye to the spread of its own doctrines. It took care to adopt
all the popular features of Buddhism. It vied with Buddhism in
inculcating universal love, toleration, liberality, benevolence, and
abstinence from injury. It preached equality, fraternity, and even in
some cases the abolition of caste distinctions. It taught a succession
of incarnations or rather descents (Avatāra[71]) of divine beings upon
earth (as Buddhism taught a succession of Buddhas), and it even adopted
the Buddha himself as one of the incarnations of Vishṇu.

This, indeed, is the best explanation of what has happened at Purī in
Orissa, where a temple once dedicated to Gautama Buddha, and supposed to
contain a relic of his burnt body, was afterwards dedicated to the
Jagannāth form of Kṛishṇa and supposed to enshrine one of his bones, and
where low-caste and high-caste both eat together the food cooked in the
house of that popular god.

The same may be said of the interaction which took place between
Buddhism and Ṡaivism; for Ṡaivism, of course, was quite as bent on the
propagation of its own creed as other systems were. It vied with
Buddhism in encouraging abstract meditation, and although it had less
sympathy than Vaishṇavism had with that system, it approached in some
respects so closely to its rival, that when Buddhism disappeared from
India, images of Gautama were converted into representations of Ṡiva
seated in profound contemplation.

Ultimately, the interaction between the three systems proceeded to such
a point that each was influenced and modified by the other; each learnt
something, or adopted some practice from the other.

It was thus, too, that Ṡāktism, i. e. the worship of energy or force
(Ṡakti), identified with Ṡiva’s consort, was imported into Buddhism; its
doctrine of the self-evolution of all things from Prakṛiti having much
that harmonized with the Buddhist theory of the origin of the Universe.
Thus, too, even Tāntrism in its worst forms became intermixed with
Buddhistic practice.

Enough, then, has been said to justify the assertion that Buddhism was
not forcibly expelled from India by the Brāhmans. It simply in the
end—possibly as late as the thirteenth century of our era—became blended
with the systems which surrounded it, though the process of blending was

It would certainly be easy to prove from the records of the three
Chinese travellers, that Buddhism and Brāhmanism existed together in
Northern and Central India as quite distinct systems till at least the
seventh century of our era, if not always quite amicably, yet without
any violent internecine conflict. Bitter controversies between the two
rival creeds are without doubt clearly alluded to, and Fā-hien in one
passage states that ‘the Brāhmans with their contrary doctrine became
full of hatred and envy in their hearts[72].’ Yet, on the other hand, we
find that at a Council held by the great Buddhist king Ṡilāditya
(Harsha-vardhana), whose meritorious acts are fully described by Hiouen
Thsang (ch. v), and who had his capital at Kanouj, in the year 634 of
our era[73], controversial points relating to both Buddhism and
Brāhmanism were discussed in a tolerant spirit, though it is said that
in discussing questions between the Northern and Southern Buddhists, the
‘Little Vehicle’ was condemned.

Again, the Buddhist drama called Nāgānanda, ‘joy of the snake
world[74],’ throws great light on the amicable relations existing
between the various sectarians and religionists in the days of king
Ṡilāditya. It is the only Sanskṛit play in which the Nāndī or opening
prayer invokes the power of Buddha, thus:—

‘“On whom dost thou meditate, putting on a pretence of religious
abstraction, yet opening thine eyes? See, saviour that thou art, thou
dost not pity us sick with the shafts of Love. Falsely art thou
compassionate. Who is more cruel than thou?” May Buddha, the conqueror,
who was thus jealously addressed by the Apsarasas (daughters) of Māra
(p. 34), protect you!’

Professor E. B. Cowell has shown in his valuable Preface that both this
play and the sister Hindū play called Ratnāvali were probably put forth
or at least patronised by Harsha-vardhana (Ṡilāditya), and that both
were probably acted at the same period, the king being as much a Hindū
as a Buddhist. Hiouen Thsang praises Harsha-vardhana for his support of
Buddhism, but in his description of the two Convocations held by that
king, states that both Buddhists and Brāhmans were equally honoured by
him, and intimates that half his subjects held one doctrine and half the
other. In the second Convocation which took place at Prayāga (now
Allahābād) eighteen kings were present and 500,000 monks and laymen. On
the first day the statue of Buddha was installed; on the second day that
of the Sun, and on the third that of Ṡiva. Alms were distributed to
Brāhmans and Buddhists alike, and even to the Nirgranthas or Jaina naked

Again the well-known play called Mālatī-Mādhava (by Bhava-bhūti, who
lived at Kanauj in the beginning of the eighth century) has an opening
prayer addressed to Ṡiva, and yet a female Buddhist ascetic and her
attendant constitute two of the principal dramatis personæ, proving that
an intermixture of the two creeds prevailed everywhere.

It was also during the reign of Ṡilāditya that the immense monastery at
Nālanda near Rāja-gṛiha formed a seat of learning, which might suggest a
comparison with the learned monkish communities and even with the
universities of mediæval Europe[75]. In that monastery might be seen
several thousand novices and monks of the eighteen Buddhist schools—all
of them supported by royal grants, and thus enabled both to perform
their religious duties, and to prosecute the study of philosophy, law,
and science in literary ease. It is probable that if disputes and
disagreements upon burning questions occurred, they rarely led to
serious conflicts, and were not general throughout India, but confined
to particular localities; and I think it may be safely affirmed that if
Buddhism was ever anywhere persecuted, it never anywhere persecuted in

I myself was much struck in a visit I paid to Ellora in the Nizām’s
territory by the evidence I there saw of the friendly tolerance which
must have prevailed between Brāhmans, Buddhists, and Jains. Brāhmanical,
Buddhist, and Jaina caves are there seen side by side, and their inmates
no doubt lived on terms of fairly friendly tolerance, much as the
members of the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Wesleyan communions live in
Europe at the present day.

Even at Benares, the stronghold of Brāhmanism, I witnessed similar
proofs of amicable mutual intercourse, and at Nāsik—the Benares of
Western India—the proximity of the Buddhist caves and ruined monasteries
which I visited, made it abundantly clear that Brāhmans and Buddhists
agreed to differ and to avoid serious quarrels.

It must nevertheless be admitted, that in the extreme South of India,
and perhaps eventually at Benares and a few other strongholds of
Brāhmanism, the difference between the systems became so accentuated as
to lead to grievous conflicts. Whether blood was shed it is impossible
to prove; but it is alleged, with some degree of probability, that
violent crusades against Buddhism were instituted by Kumārila and
Ṡaṅkara—two well-known Southern Brāhmans noted for their bigotry—in the
seventh and eighth centuries of our era. It does not appear, however,
that they were very successful either in the conversion or extermination
of Buddhists.

It may, I think, be confidently affirmed that what ultimately happened
in most parts of India was, that Vaishṇavas and Ṡaivas crept up softly
to their rival and drew the vitality out of its body by close and
friendly embraces, and that instead of the Buddhists being expelled from
India, Buddhism gradually and quietly lost itself in Vaishṇavism and
Ṡaivism. In fact, by the beginning of the thirteenth century very little
Buddhism remained on Indian soil. In a philosophical drama, called ‘the
Rise of the Moon of Knowledge’ (Prabodha-ćandrodaya), written probably
about the twelfth century, the approaching triumph of Brāhmanism over
Buddhism is clearly indicated; for the Buddhist and other heretical
sects are represented as belonging to the losing side.

Yet, after all, it is scarcely correct to say that Buddhism ever wholly
died away in India. Its name indeed perished there, but its spirit
survived, and its sacred places remain to this day. Its ruined temples,
monasteries, monuments, and idols are scattered everywhere, while some
of these have been perpetuated and adopted by those later phases of
Hindūism which its own toleration helped to bring into existence.

At all events it may be safely affirmed that the passing away of the
Buddhistic system in India was on the whole like the peaceful passing
away of a moribund man surrounded by his relatives, and was at least
unattended with any agonizing pangs[76].

                             LECTURE VIII.
             _Rise of Theistic and Polytheistic Buddhism._

In the preceding Lecture we have endeavoured to show generally how
Buddhism was evolved out of Brāhmanism, how it flourished side by side
with Brāhmanism, and how after a chequered career and protracted
senility in the land of its birth—lasting for at least fifteen
centuries[77]—it ultimately merged its individuality in Vaishṇavism and
Ṡaivism, or, in other words, disappeared and became lost in a composite
system called Hindūism.

We have now to trace more closely the gradual sliding of a simple
agnostic and atheistic creed, into a variety of theistic and
polytheistic conceptions.

We have already seen how the expansion of the Hīna-yāna into the
Mahā-yāna became an inevitable result of the Buddha’s own teaching—in
other words, how a rebound from atheism to theism was as unavoidable as
the return swing of a heavy pendulum. We need only repeat here that it
could not have been otherwise, when a teacher, who never claimed to be
more than a man, attempted to indoctrinate his human followers with
principles opposed to the inextinguishable instincts and eternal
intuitions of humanity.

In fact the teachers of the Mahā-yāna school were not slow to perceive
that, if Buddhism was to gain any hold over the masses, it was essential
that it should adapt itself to their human needs. It became imperatively
necessary, as a simple preservative measure, to convert a cold
philosophical creed, based on an ultra-pessimistic theory of existence,
into some sort of belief in the value of human life as worth living. And
if life was not to be an invariable current of misery it followed that
there must also be some sort of faith in a superintending God
controlling that life, and interesting Himself in Man’s welfare.

Unfortunately, having once advanced beyond definite limits, the more
progressive teachers found it impossible to draw the line at any given

No doubt the theistic movement began by simple saint-worship—that is, by
veneration for the extinct Buddha as for a perfect saint. This was
accompanied by homage offered to his relics and to various memorials of
his person.

Then mere veneration and homage led to actual worship, and the Buddha,
who from first to last made his own perfect humanity an essential
principle of his teaching, became elevated to a pinnacle far above
humanity and converted into a veritable god.

Next, it is easy to see that a further development of the theistic
movement became inevitable.

For indeed it was only natural that in process of time some of the more
eminent of the Buddha’s followers should become almost equally revered
with himself. It was not, however, till some time after their death that
they received any homage resembling that accorded to their Master.

It was then that, instead of being thought of as extinct, according to
the orthodox Buddhist doctrine, they were continually elevated in the
imagination of their admirers to heavenly regions of beatitude.

Of course this constant increase of saint-worship tended to land men by
degrees in a mass of theistic and polytheistic conceptions.

And polytheism could not prevail in Eastern countries without its usual
reverse side—polydemonism; and polydemonism could not prevail without
its usual adjuncts of mysticism and magic. And all of these again
entailed idolatry, relic-worship, fetish-worship, and various other
gross superstitions.

Such was the natural termination of the process of degeneration. Let us
now trace it more in detail.

And in the first place it must not be forgotten that Gautama himself
seems to have foreseen this result.

He seems to have been quite aware of the ineradicable tendency inherent
in the nature of human beings, impelling them to elevate their saints
and heroes to the position of gods. He therefore took pains to make his
beloved disciple and cousin Ānanda understand that the truth embodied in
the Dharma or Law which he had taught, was all that ought to take his
place and represent him when he was gone.

Accordingly we learn from ancient inscriptions that for many years
afterwards the only allowable object of veneration among primitive
Buddhists was the Law—that is, the precepts, rules, and ordinances
propounded by Gautama himself—many of which may have been committed to
writing in early times, though oral transmission was at first the usual
rule, as it was among Brāhmans.

In time, however, the interconnexion between Brāhmanism and Buddhism,
and the tendency to group sacred objects in triads[78], which showed
itself very early in Hindū religious thought and mythology, seems to
have led to the idea of a corresponding triple arrangement of venerated
objects among Buddhists. Hence three precious things—sometimes called
the three jewels (_tri-ratna_), or the ‘three Holies[79]’—came first to
be held in honour and then actually worshipped; a kind of personality
being accorded to all three, very similar to that supposed to belong to
the three chief gods of the Hindū Pantheon.

This triad of personalities consisted of (1) the Buddha himself, that is
to say, Gautama Buddha, or the Buddha of the present age of the world;
(2) his Dharma or Law, that is, the word and doctrine of the Buddha
personified, or so to speak incarnated and manifested in a visible form
after his Pari-nirvāṇa; and (3) his Saṅgha or Order of monks, also in a
manner personified—that is, embodied in a kind of ideal impersonation or
collective unity of his true disciples.

This last word, Saṅgha, which means in Sanskṛit ‘a collection’ or
‘assemblage,’ is sometimes, as we have already seen (p. 85), very
unsuitably rendered by the expression ‘Buddhist Church.’ It simply
denotes ‘the collective body of Buddhist monks;’ that is to say, the
entire monastic fraternity, comprising in its widest sense the whole
assemblage of monks, Arhats, Pratyeka-Buddhas, Bodhi-sattvas, perfected
Buddhas and not yet perfected saints of all classes, whether on the
earth or in any other division of the Universe; but not including—be it
carefully borne in mind—the still vaster community of living persons
constituting the whole body of the Buddhist laity.

These three, then,—the Buddha, his Law, and his Order of Monks,—passed
into the first three divine personifications of early theistic Buddhism,
commonly known as the first Buddhist Triad.

Hence we find that the Khuddaka-pāṭha or ‘lesser readings[80]’ of the
fifteen divisions of the Khuddaka-nikāya (p. 63) begins thus:—

‘I put my trust in the Buddha, in the Law, in the Order’ (repeated three

‘Ye beings (Bhūtāni) here assembled of earth and air, let us bow, let us
bow before the Buddha, revered by gods and men. May there be prosperity!

‘Ye beings of earth and air, let us bow before the Law.

‘Ye beings of earth and air, let us bow before the Order of Monks.’

When Fā-hien was on his return home and in great peril at sea, he
committed his life to the protection of the Saṅgha, saying:—‘I have
travelled far in search of the Law, let me, by your dread and
supernatural power, return from my wanderings and reach my

And again, on ending his travels, he gratefully acknowledged that he had
been guarded in his perils by the dread power of the ‘three honoured
ones’ or ‘three precious ones’ or ‘three Holies’—thus acknowledging the
personality of the Law as well as of the Buddha himself and of the
Saṅgha or collective body of Monks[81].

But it must be borne in mind that this did not necessarily imply any
worship of images. It is certain that for a long time even Buddha
himself was not represented visibly. This is proved by the sculptures on
the Bharhut Stūpa. Even in the present day the simple expression of
trust in the three revered ones constitutes the only formula of worship
current in Ceylon. It is true that images of the Buddha are now common
in that country, and while travelling there I saw numbers of persons
offering homage and flowers to these images. But no prayer was addressed
to them, and I noticed no visible representations of the personified Law
or Saṅgha[82].

Nor, when I was at the Buddhist monastery near Darjīling, did I see any
image of the Law side by side with that of Gautama, though every book
examined by me in the temple-library began with the words:—Namo
Buddhāya, ‘reverence to the Buddha;’ namo Dharmāya, ‘reverence to the
Law;’ namo Saṅghāya, ‘reverence to the Order.’ The only visible symbol
of the three so-called ‘Holies’ was a long staff with three prongs, like
the Indian Tri-ṡūla.

It seems clear, therefore, that while, in process of time, images of
Gautama Buddha were multiplied everywhere—and, as we shall see, in
various attitudes and shapes—images of the personified Law and Saṅgha
were never common, and indeed rarely found, except among Northern
Buddhists. Those images of the Law which I have examined are in the form
of a man[83] with four arms and hands, two of which are folded in
worship, while one holds a book (or sometimes a lotus) and the other a

Sometimes, however, the representation of a book alone is held to be a
sufficient symbol of the Law.

The Saṅgha, on the other hand, is generally symbolized by the image of a
man with two arms and hands, one of which, as in the images of Buddha,
rests on the knees and the other holds a lotus.

And it may be observed here that of the three images of the Buddha, the
Law, and the Order, sometimes one occupies the central position and
sometimes the other. This circumstance has led scholars to speak of what
it is the fashion to term a Buddhist trinity; but in real fact neither
Buddhism nor Brāhmanism has any trinity in the true meaning of the term,
for although Buddhists claim a kind of tri-unity for their triad, and
say that the first contains the second, and that the third proceeds from
the first two and contains them, yet the first is clearly never regarded
as either the Father or Creator of the world, in the Christian sense.

It appears, in fact, that the earliest Buddhist worship was exactly what
might have been expected to follow on the death of a religious Reformer
and author of a new system. It was merely the natural expression of deep
reverence for the founder of Buddhism, his doctrine, and the collective
body of his disciples.

So simple a form of worship, however, did not long satisfy the
devotional aspirations of the Buddha’s followers, even in the sacred
land of pure Buddhism.

The mere offering of homage, either to a system of Law, or to a
community of living monks or to departed human saints—even though their
memory was kept alive by visible representations, and stimulated by
meditation and repetition of prayer-formularies—had in it nothing
calculated to support or comfort men in seasons of sickness,
bereavement, or calamity. This kind of simple Buddhism might have
satisfied the needs of men in times of peace and prosperity. Under other
conditions it broke down. It could offer no shelter and give no help
amid the storms and tempests of life. Hence the development of the later
phases of the Mahā-yāna system, the chief feature of which was a marked
change in the meaning attached to the term ‘Bodhi-sattva.’

This change will be better understood if we go back to what has already
been mentioned (at p. 98). We have before explained that, according to
the original theory of Buddhism, a Bodhi-sattva is one who has knowledge
(derived from self-enlightening intellect) for his essence; that is, he
is a being who through all his bodily existences is destined in some
final existence to become a Buddha, or self-enlightened man. Until his
final birth, however, a Bodhi-sattva is a being in whom true knowledge
is rather latent and undeveloped than perfected. Gautama had been a
Bodhi-sattva of this character (see p. 134), the merit of whose actions
(Karma) in each of his countless previous existences (see p. 109) had
been transmitted to succeeding corporeal forms, till in the state
immediately preceding his last birth on earth he existed as a
Bodhi-sattva in the Tushita heaven (see p. 120). There he continued
until the time came for him to be born on earth as the Buddha of the
present age, when he entered the right side of his mother in the form of
a white elephant (p. 23)[85].

And it may be repeated here that the white elephant, as something rare
and beautiful of its kind, was simply symbolical of the perfect
Arhatship which he was destined to achieve in the ensuing birth.

Born, then, at last as the child Gautama, son of Ṡuddhodana, and
purified by a long observance of the six transcendent virtues (p. 128),
he ultimately attained to perfect knowledge and Arhatship under the
Bodhi-tree, and in so attaining passed from the condition of a
Bodhi-sattva to that of the highest of all Arhats—a supreme Buddha.
Then, after about forty-five years of diligent discharge of his
self-imposed task as a teacher of the right way of salvation, he
ultimately passed away in Pari-nirvāṇa, or absolute non-existence.

It is important, however, to remember, that at the moment of his
attaining Buddhahood he had transferred the Bodhi-sattvaship to
Maitreya, ‘the loving and compassionate one,’ who became the
Buddha-elect, dwelling and presiding as his predecessor had done in the
heaven of contented beings (Tushita; see p. 120). There he watches over
and promotes the interests of the Buddhist faith, while awaiting the
time when he is to appear on earth as Maitreya, or the fifth Buddha of
the present age. His advent will not take place till the lapse of five
thousand years after the Nirvāṇa of Gautama, when the world will have
become so corrupt that the Buddhist Law will be no more obeyed, nor even

No wonder then that this Maitreya—whose very name implies love and
tenderness towards mankind, and who was destined to become, like
Gautama, a Saviour of the world by teaching its inhabitants how to save
themselves—became a favourite object of personal worship after Gautama
Buddha’s death. Even when the worship of other Bodhi-sattvas was
introduced, Maitreya retained the distinction of being the only
Bodhi-sattva worshipped by all Buddhist countries, whether in the South
or in the North. Not that Gautama’s memory was neglected. He was, of
course, held to be superior to Maitreya, who was still a mere
Bodhi-sattva or Buddha-designate. But the feeling towards Gautama
Buddha, after his Nirvāṇa and death, became different, and the object of
bringing flowers and offerings to his shrines was simply to honour the
memory of a departed, not an existing saint. It was a mere mechanical
act, fraught with beneficial consequences, but not supplying any real
religious need. On the other hand actual prayers were addressed to
Maitreya, as to a living merciful being, whose favour it was
all-important to secure, and whose heaven was believed to be a region of
perfect love and contentment, to which all his worshippers were

In Hiouen Thsang’s Travels a heavenly Ṛishi is represented as
saying:—‘No words can describe the personal beauty of Maitreya. He
declares a law not different from ours. His exquisite voice is soft and
pure. Those who hear it can never tire; those who listen are never

In fact, the aspirations of few pious Buddhists in early times ever led
them to soar higher than the happiness of living with Maitreya and
listening to his voice in his own Tushita heaven.

It is true that afterwards when the worship of the Dhyāni-Buddha
Amitābha came into vogue in Northern countries this Buddha’s heaven,
called Sukhāvatī, fabled to be somewhere in the Western sky, seems to
have taken the place of the heaven of Maitreya. But this belongs to a
later phase of Buddhism, to be explained when we speak of the
Dhyāni-Buddhas (p. 203).

It was for Maitreya’s Tushita heaven that Hiouen Thsang, and other
devout men of his day, prayed on their death-beds, and the one Chinese
inscription found at Buddha-Gayā is full of expressions indicative of
the same longing[87].

If then, we are able to enter into the feelings of Buddhists everywhere
in depending on the living, loving, and energizing Maitreya, rather than
on the extinct Buddha who existed only in their memories, we shall find
it less difficult to understand how it came to pass that the idea of, so
to speak, canonizing every great saint or popular head of a monastic
community, and elevating him at death to the position of a Bodhi-sattva
like Maitreya, living in permanent regions of bliss, and able to help
his votaries to the same position, came into vogue.

It may make the course of development of Theistic Buddhism clearer if we
here revert to the early constitution of the Buddhist monastic
brotherhood, and endeavour to show how the homage paid to eminent and
saint-like men led, first to the multiplication of Bodhi-sattvas, and
then to polytheism and every form of polytheistic superstition.

A full explanation of the early monastic system is given in the learned
work of Koeppen[88]. It is clear that as long as Gautama was alive he
was the sole Head of the brotherhood of monks. After his death the
Headship (as in the Christian brotherhood after the death of Christ) was
not assigned to any one leader. The Buddha himself forbade this. The
term Saṇgha at that time merely denoted a republican fraternity of
monks, bound by no irrevocable vows and subject to no hierarchical
Superior, but all intent on following the example, and propagating the
doctrines of their departed leader. Soon, however, the formation of
separate centres of union and teaching became inevitable, and the term
Saṇgha was then applied to each separate society, and sometimes even to
a separate Conclave of each society, as well as to the whole body. It
seems at least certain that each monastic association had the right to
admit monks, to hear confession, and to excommunicate. Naturally, too,
in course of time it became necessary for each society to have some sort
of governing body and choose a kind of president, and this presiding
officer was originally the senior monk, and accordingly had the simple
title of Sthavira (Thera), ‘Elder.’ This title appears to have been
introduced immediately after Gautama’s death.

It is believed that ever since the time of the great Aṡoka, Sthaviras or
Elders who became actual superintendents of monasteries, exercised
administrative powers, like those of Abbots; each over his own monastic
community. This was the first kind of Headship recognized. It was simply
a superiority of age.

As to any still higher form of authority corresponding to that of Pope,
Archbishop, or Bishop, and extending over several monasteries, this did
not belong to early Buddhism or to its earliest developments. Lists of
uninterrupted series of pretended Buddhist Hierarchs exist, but are mere
fanciful fabrications. Nevertheless, it is certainly a historical fact
that along with the superiority of mere age, seniority, and experience,
there rapidly grew up _pari passu_ a superiority of knowledge, learning,
and sanctity, which were generally, though not invariably, combined in
the person of the presiding Elder.

Any one, in fact, who was distinguished for the practice of the highest
degree of meditation, for complete acquaintance with the Law, for
special purity of conduct, and perfect fulfilment of the precepts, was
naturally elevated above the class of ordinary Bhikshus. Such a monk was
from the earliest times dignified by the title Arhat, ‘very reverend,’
i. e. more worthy of honour than the generality. Arhat, in short, was
from the first a name for the higher grade of saint-like Bhikshu. Such a
man, too, before long, was raised to a still higher level in the
estimation of his fellow-monks. He was believed to have delivered
himself from all the consequences of acts, whether bad or good—from all
the fetters (see p. 127) of life, and therefore from all re-birth. He
was even elevated to a still loftier pinnacle. He was believed by his
superstitious admirers to possess unlimited dominion over nature, space,
time, and matter; to be all-seeing, all-powerful, and capable of working
every kind of miracle. Then, of course, at death he passed away in
Pari-nirvāṇa and was, so to speak, canonized. Be it noted, however, that
such canonization was never accorded to an Arhat till after his
departure from the world.

Probably the immediate disciples of Gautama Buddha—that is, his
so-called ‘great pupils’ (see p. 47), were all considered perfect
Arhats. And these perfect Arhats were probably the only saints of the
earliest period of Buddhism. Yet there was one who surpassed them all by
an immeasurable interval, and that one was Gautama Buddha himself. It
was the distinguishing mark of a supreme Buddha that he was infinitely
greater than all other Arhats, because he had not only gained perfect
knowledge himself, but had become the Saviour of the whole world by
imparting to men the knowledge of how they were to save themselves.

It seems, therefore, only natural that the followers of Buddha, and
probably the Buddha himself, before his decease, should have thought it
desirable to establish a more systematic gradation of saintship by
filling up the immense gap between ordinary Arhats and the supreme
Buddha. It was this that led to the idea of Pratyeka-Buddhas, that is,
self-dependent solitary Buddhas[89] (see p. 134), as well as to the
notion of a still higher being called a Bodhi-sattva, who, as the
Buddha-designate and future successor of Gautama, occupied a still more
exalted intermediate position than a Pratyeka-Buddha.

Of course it became difficult to fix on any living man, or any recently
deceased saint worthy of the highest stage of Bodhi, to which a being
about to become a perfect Buddha was supposed to attain.

The first to be so elevated (though apparently not by Gautama himself)
was, as frequently mentioned before, the mythical individual Maitreya.
He was, we repeat, for a long time the only Bodhi-sattva recognized by
all Buddhists alike, whether adherents of the Hīna-yāna or Mahā-yāna.
But he was not a historical personage, like Gautama or his immediate
disciples. He was a mere mythological personification of that spirit of
love—of that kindly and friendly disposition towards all living beings
by force of which Buddhism hoped one day to conquer the world, and win
it over to itself.

And in conformity with his mythical character, and probably to prevent
the rivalry of pretenders among future ambitious heads of monasteries,
he was not to appear for five thousand years, till the teaching of
Gautama had lost its power.

Indeed, it was only to be expected that this rank should at first have
been accorded to one person alone—just as in worldly affairs there could
be only one Heir-apparent to the throne.

Such was the more simple doctrine of early Buddhism in regard to the
relative position of the members of the Buddhist community.

How then did the teachers of the Mahā-yāna proceed to amplify this

They taught that there were two methods of salvation or, so to speak,
two ways or two vehicles—the Great and the Little (Mahā-yāna and
Hīna-yāna)—and indeed two Bodhis or forms of true knowledge which these
vehicles had to convey[90]. The former was for ordinary persons, the
latter for beings of larger talents and higher spiritual powers. The
‘Little Way’ was the simple doctrine, which had many Arhats but only one
Bodhi-sattva; the ‘Great Way,’ on the other hand, was the wider and
broader, which had many Bodhi-sattvas as well as many Arhats. He who
satisfied the usual requirements of Saintship received the rank of an
Arhat in both systems. But in the wider system every one who aimed at
unusual sanctity on the one hand, and knowledge (Bodhi) on the other,
might walk on the Great road leading to Bodhi-sattvaship, and receive
the title Bodhi-sattva.

We have seen (p. 136) that the Hīna-yāna, or ‘Little system,’ taught
that there were only twenty-four Buddhas who had preceded Gautama. Three
of these (viz. Kraku-ććhanda, Kanaka-muni, and Kāṡyapa), with Gautama as
a fourth, had appeared in the present age, and only one Bodhi-sattva
(Maitreya) was to come.

But according to the ‘Great System,’ it was a mistake to limit the
acquisition of the highest Saintship in this manner. It maintained that
there would be numberless supreme Buddhas (and, in addition to them,
self-taught, solitary Buddhas, called Pratyeka-Buddhas), as well as
numberless Bodhi-sattvas, even in the present age of the world. In other
words, it propounded the doctrine that the practice of the six (or ten)
transcendent virtues (p. 128), and especially the acquisition of
transcendent wisdom (prajñā pāramitā), might qualify many saints for the
attainment of Bodhi-sattvaship and Buddhaship. According to one theory,
there were to be at least a thousand Bodhi-sattvas, followed by a
thousand Buddhas, while, according to others, Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas
were to be reckoned by myriads.

But this theory of numberless Bodhi-sattvas involved an entirely new
view of their nature and of the meaning of the term.

In fact, the Bodhi-sattvas of the more developed Mahā-yāna school were
not Bodhi-sattvas at all, according to the strict sense of the term. It
is true they resembled the genuine Bodhi-sattva in having gone through a
long series of existences leading them at last to perfect saintship and
to a heaven of their own, but they were under no obligation to give up
their Bodhi-sattvaship, quit their celestial abodes, or descend
ultimately as human Buddhas upon earth.

Furthermore, they never appeared to aim at Pari-nirvāṇa like their
earthly counterparts. Their most obvious _raison d’être_ seems to have
been to supply the need of personal objects of worship, and though in
Tibet they were believed to have their own secondary corporeal
emanations—sometimes called their ‘incarnations,’ but more properly
described as descents (avatāra) of portions of their essence in a
constant succession of human saints,—they never really left their own
permanent stations in the heavenly regions. Indeed, it is probable that
the chief cause of their popularity, as personal objects of adoration,
was that they were able to help their worshippers to attain to the same
permanent and unchangeable regions of bliss.

It was thus that the ‘Great Vehicle’ took up an attitude which raised it
not only above the simple effort to suppress the passions and desires,
but also above the hopeless Nihilism of early Buddhism; for it soon
became the fashion for the most devoted and pious of Buddhist monks to
aspire to the title and actual blessedness of Bodhi-sattvaship rather
than to the doubtful blessedness of utter personal annihilation involved
in Buddhahood. At any rate the numerous Bodhi-sattvas of the ‘Great
Method’ appear to have remained quite contented with their condition, so
long as it involved perpetual residence in the heavens, and quite
willing to put off all desire for Buddhahood and Pari-nirvāṇa.

Without doubt, this more amplified system was the result of a reaction
of Brāhmanism on Buddhism. It was at first a mere plan for creating a
close Hierarchy like that of the Brāhman caste—that is to say, a
privileged class of men possessed of higher knowledge and sanctity and
superior to the majority of Bhikshus of the common stamp. Then it soon
developed into a scheme for satisfying the craving of the masses for
divinities of some kind to whom they might appeal for help in time of

In all probability the first to receive the title of Bodhi-sattva, next
to Maitreya, were the most celebrated Arhats before mentioned, who were
immediate disciples of Gautama, not however till death had separated
them from their human frames, when, as a matter of course, they received
a kind of worship like that accorded to all leaders of men, just as the
earliest saints, heroes, and teachers of Brāhmanism did.

To specify all the Arhats who were elevated to the rank of Bodhi-sattva
and became objects of veneration in later times would be a difficult and
unprofitable task.

We may also dismiss, as unworthy of note, statements such as that in the
Lalita-vistara, in which it is declared that 32,000 Bodhi-sattvas joined
the Buddha’s assembly in the Jetavana garden. But we may notice the
quasi-deification of a few historical personages mentioned by the two
Chinese travellers, whose account of the state of Buddhism in India from
the fourth to the seventh centuries has been so often quoted.

First of all came the immediate followers and so-called ‘great pupils’
(see p. 47) of Gautama, namely, his two chief disciples, Ṡāri-puttra and
Moggallāna (Maudgalyāyana = Modgala-puttra)[91], both of whom are
believed to have died before him. Then came the three great leaders at
the first Council: 1. Kāṡyapa (pp. 46, 55); 2. Gautama’s cousin and
beloved pupil Ānanda; 3. Upāli (note, p. 56).

Next to these perhaps the most celebrated teacher elevated to
Bodhi-sattvaship was Nāgārjuna[92]—noticed before as the alleged founder
of the Mahā-yāna system and its introducer into Tibet. According to one
account he was the son of a Brāhman of Vidarbha, and taught Buddhism in
the south of India. He had a celebrated disciple named Deva (or
Ārya-deva)[93]. Nāgārjuna was at any rate a great teacher and developer
of the Mahā-yāna. A legend relates that he was skilled in magic, and was
able thereby to prolong his own and a Southern Indian king’s life
indefinitely. This caused great grief to the mother of the
Heir-apparent, who instigated her son to ask Nāgārjuna for his own head.
Nāgārjuna complied with the request, and cut his own head off with a
blade of Kuṡa grass, nothing else having the power to injure him. He is
said by Hiouen Thsang to have lived in Southern Koṡala about 400 years
after the death of Gautama, and is worshipped under different epithets
in Tibet, China, Mongolia, and even Ceylon. Probably he lived in the
first or second century—Beal places him between A.D. 166 and 200.
Wassiljew considers him a wholly mythical personage. The additions he
made to Buddhist doctrines were undoubtedly great. When he died Stūpas
were erected to his memory, and in some places he was even worshipped as

Among other deified, or partially deified Bodhi-sattvas, whose images
and Stūpas (p. 161) the Chinese pilgrims found scattered in various
parts of India, may be mentioned, those of the mythical Buddhas who
preceded Gautama, especially Kāṡyapa[94]. Then we have Rāhula (son of
Gautama), the patron of all novices, and founder of the realistic school
called Vaibhāshika[95]; Dharma-pāla, Vasu-mitra (or Vasu-bandhu),
Aṡva-ghosha, Guṇamati, Sthiramati, and others. In this practice of
deifying their saints, Buddhists merely followed the example of the
adherents of Hindūism. And we may add that this tendency is constantly
repeating itself in the religious history of all nations.

There is even a tendency to press the saints of other countries into the
service. This is remarkably exemplified in the history of Barlaam and
Josaphat, current in Europe in the Middle Ages. The zealous Roman
Catholics of those days thought that they could not exclude so noble a
monk as Buddha from the catalogue of their own saints, and so they
registered him in their list as St. Josaphat (Josaphat being a
corruption of Bodhisat). Colonel Yule, in his Marco Polo, states that a
church in Palermo is dedicated to this saint.

And here mention may be made of a modern deified Hindū teacher or sage,
named Gorakh-nāth, who is said to have gone from India into Nepāl, and
is worshipped there as well as at Gorakh-pur and throughout the Panjāb.
Very little is known about him, and he belongs more to Hindūism than to
Buddhism. Some say that he was a contemporary of Kabīr (1488-1512), and,
according to a Janamsākhī, he once had an interview with Nānak, the
founder of the Sikh sect. Such legendary accounts as are current are
wrapped in much mystery. One legend describes him as born from a lotus.

Others describe him as the third or fourth in a series of Ṡaiva
teachers, and the founder of the Kānphāṭā sect of Yogīs. The remarkable
thing about him is that he succeeded in achieving an extraordinary
degree of popularity among Northern Hindūs and among some adherents of
Buddhism in Nepāl. His tomb is in the Panjāb, and he is to this day
adored as a kind of god by immense numbers of the inhabitants of North
Western India under the hills.

But the canonization of such historical teachers in India and their
elevation to semi-divine rank did not satisfy the craving of the
uneducated masses, either among Buddhists or Hindūs, for personal
deities, possessed of powers over human affairs far greater than any
departed human beings, however eminent. In Buddhism the supposed
existence of the more god-like Bodhi-sattva Maitreya—venerated by both
the Mahā-yāna and the Hīna-yāna schools—was not sufficient to satisfy
this craving.

Hence the ‘Great Vehicle’ soon began to teach the existence of numerous
mythological Bodhi-sattvas, other than Maitreya, to whom no historical
character belonged, but whose functions were more divine.

                              LECTURE IX.
                 _Theistic and Polytheistic Buddhism._

In the preceding Lecture I have endeavoured to sketch the rise of
theistic and polytheistic Buddhism.

We have now to turn our attention to its development, especially in
regard to the worship of mythical Bodhi-sattvas, and of the Hindū gods
and other mythological beings.

Some of the Bodhi-sattvas of the Mahā-yāna or Great System were merely
quasi-deifications of eminent saints and teachers. Others were
impersonations of certain qualities or forces; and just as in early
Buddhism we have the simple triad of the Buddha, his Law, and his Order,
so in Northern Buddhism the worship of mythical Bodhi-sattvas—other than
Maitreya—was originally confined to a triad, namely (1) Mañju-ṡrī, ‘he
of beautiful glory;’ (2) Avalokiteṡvara, ‘the looking-down lord,’ often
called Padma-pāṇi, ‘the lotus-handed;’ (3) Vajra-pāṇi or Vajra-dhara,
‘the thunderbolt-handed.’

These three mythical Bodhi-sattvas were not known to early Buddhists,
nor to the Buddhists of Ceylon. They are not even found in the oldest
books of the Northern School (such as the Lalita-vistara), though they
occur conspicuously in the Saddharma-puṇḍarīka.

All we can say with certainty is, that when Fā-hien visited Mathurā on
the Jumnā 400 years after Christ, their cult certainly existed there at
that time.

We shall not be far wrong if we assert that it was adopted in about the
third century of our era.

As already indicated (see p. 175), the idea of the first Buddhist
triad—the Buddha, the Law, and the Monastic Order—accepted by the
adherents of both Vehicles—was probably derived from the earliest
Brāhmanical triad. (See also Brāhmanism and Hindūism, pp. 9, 44. 74.)

In the same way the second Buddhist triad introduced by the advanced
teachers of the ‘Great Vehicle,’ viz. Mañju-ṡrī, Avalokiteṡvara (=
Padma-pāṇi), and Vajra-pāṇi, corresponded to the later Hindū triad
(tri-mūrti) of deities, Brahmā, Vishṇu, and Ṡiva.

I have explained in ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism’ (pp. 54, 73) how the gods
Vishṇu and Ṡiva gradually usurped the position of the god Brahmā, whom
they dispossessed of his co-equality with themselves, and how the whole
mythology of the Hindūs, which was originally complicated by a large
admixture of pre-Āryan and Vedic elements, ultimately became more
simplified by arranging itself under the two heads of Vaishṇavism and
Ṡaivism, all other mythological personages being regarded as forms of
either Vishṇu or Ṡiva.

In contradistinction to this, we find that each member of the two
Buddhist triads holds its own, and we are led on to a system which
bewilders us by ever increasing complications—a system which preserves
the individuality of its own triads and deified saints, and yet
recognizes almost all the gods, demigods, demons, and supernatural
beings of Hindūism.

I propose now to offer some account of the development of the Buddhist
Pantheon, beginning with the mythical conceptions peculiar to Buddhism,
and passing on to those held in common with Hindūism.

And first as to the second Buddhist triad above-named, it may be noted,
as a proof of the very gradual growth of Buddhistic mythology, that in
the earlier developments of Buddhism the three Bodhi-sattvas
constituting that triad have very restricted functions.

When I visited the Buddhist caves at Ellora, I noticed that in the
ancient sculptures there, Padma-pāṇi and Vajra-pāṇi (but not Mañju-ṡrī)
are represented as attendants of the human Buddha.

Of course it is easy to understand that the duty of guarding the Buddha
ultimately expanded into that of watching over and protecting the whole
Buddhist world, though it is difficult to determine which of the three
mythical Bodhi-sattvas became first celebrated for the effective
discharge of this duty, or to which of the three chronological
precedence ought to be assigned.

Without taking the order already given, we may begin with Padma-pāṇi as
the most popular, and may note that he has a name, Avalokiteṡvara,
composed of the two Sanskṛit words avalokita, ‘looking down[96],’ and
Īṡvara, ‘lord,’ the latter being the Brāhmanical name for the Supreme
God—a name wholly unrecognized by early Buddhism, but assigned by the
Hindūs to the three personal gods, Brahmā, Vishṇu, and Ṡiva, especially
to the latter.

In the duty of watching over and protecting the whole Buddhist world,
Avalokiteṡvara (= Padma-pāṇi), that is, ‘the lord who looks down with
pity on all men,’ certainly takes the lead, and his name was in keeping
with the reputation for answering prayer which he soon achieved.

In the Lāmism of Tibet, he is, as we shall see hereafter, a kind of
divine Pope, existing eternally in the heavens as Vicar of one of the
Buddhas of the present age, but delegating his functions to a succession
of earthly Popes in whom he is perpetually incarnated and re-incarnated,
while at the same time preserving his own personality in his own heaven.

Indeed, the popularity of his worship is one of the chief
characteristics of the Mahā-yāna system, and is not confined to Tibet,
though he is believed to be the special patron of that country. It is he
who during the continuance of the present age of the world presides over
the whole cycle of soul-migration. In a word, the temporal welfare of
all living beings, and of all who have to wander through the worlds of
the gods, men, demons, ghosts, animals, and livers in hell, is
especially assigned to him.

People, therefore, pray to him more frequently than to any other
Bodhi-sattva, and not only for release from the misery of future
re-births, but in all cases of present bodily danger and domestic
affliction. Hence he has numerous other names or epithets, such as ‘God
of mercy,’ ‘Ocean of pity’ (Karuṇārṇava), ‘Deliverer from fear’
(Abhayaṃ-da), ‘Lord of the world’ (Lokeṡ-vara), ‘World-protector’
(Loka-pāla), ‘Protector of the Āryas’ (Ārya-pāla); and the Chinese
traveller Fā-hien says of himself, that he prayed in his heart for the
aid of Avalokiteṡvara when in great peril during a storm at sea.

That his worship was very prevalent among Buddhists of the Mahā-yāna
School all over India, as well as in Tibet, from the fourth to the
seventh century, is attested also by Hiouen Thsang. Both travellers tell
us that they frequently met with his images, which were often placed on
the tops of mountains. Possibly this fact may account for the name he
acquired of the ‘Looking-down lord.’ Or, on the other hand, it is
possible that his name may have led to the selection of high situations
for his temples and images.

And it may be observed here that although Avalokiteṡvara bears a close
resemblance in character to Vishṇu, yet his images often conform to the
Brahmā type, and sometimes to that of Ṡiva[97]. He has generally several
faces—sometimes even eleven or twelve—and usually four or eight arms.
These faces are placed one above the other in the form of a pyramid, in
three tiers, and probably indicate that he looks down on all three
worlds, namely, the worlds of desire, of true form, and of no form (pp.
213, 214), from all points of the horizon.

Note, however, that two of his hands are generally folded, as if adoring
the Buddha, while his two other hands hold such emblems as the lotus and
wheel (especially the lotus). This distinguishes the images of the mere
Bodhi-sattva Avalokiteṡvara from those of the god Vishṇu, who, although
he has four arms, is never represented in an attitude of adoration.
Note, too, that the many-headed images of Avalokiteṡvara probably belong
to the later phase of the Mahā-yāna, when he was regarded as an
emanation or spiritual son of the Dhyāni-Buddha Amitābha, whose head
forms the eleventh above his own ten. There are descriptions of earlier
idols, which make it probable that Avalokiteṡvara was originally
represented in ordinary human shape.

When his worship was introduced into China the name he received was
Kwan-she-yin or Kwan-yin (in Japan Kwan-non)—a name denoting (according
to Professor Legge) ‘one who looks down on the sounds of the world, and
listens to the voices of men.’

We know that each of the chief Hindū gods had his female counterpart or
Ṡakti, who is often more worshipped than the male. Similarly the female
counterpart of the male Avalokiteṡvara is the form of the god chiefly
worshipped in China and Japan[98]. In those countries he is only known
in the feminine character of ‘goddess of mercy,’ and in this form is
represented with two arms, but oftener with four or more, and even with
a thousand eyes.

The connexion of Avalokiteṡvara with Ṡiva, as well as with Vishṇu, is
proved by the fact that in some characteristics Kwan-yin corresponds to
the Durgā form of Ṡiva’s wife, and in others to the form called Pārvatī,
who, as dwelling on mountains, may be supposed to look down with
compassion on the world.

As to Vajra-pāṇi (or Vajra-dhara), ‘the thunderbolt-handed,’ this
Bodhi-sattva corresponds in some respects to Indra. He is the fiercest
and most awe-inspiring of all the Bodhi-sattvas, and was, in time,
converted into a kind of Buddhistic form of Ṡiva, resembling that god in
his character of controller of the demon-host and destroyer of evil
spirits. Hiouen Thsang describes how eight Vajra-pāṇis surrounded the
Buddha as an escort, when he journeyed to visit his father Ṡuddhodana.
Vajra-pāṇi is of course a popular object of veneration in all Northern
Buddhist countries, where a dread of malignant spirits is so prevalent
that the waving to and fro of an implement symbolizing a thunderbolt
(Vajra, or in Tibetan Dorje) is practised as a method of keeping them at
bay and averting their malice.

Nevertheless, Vajra-pāṇi is not so popular as the third Bodhi-sattva,
Mañju-ṡrī, ‘he of glorious beauty,’ also called Mañju-ghosha, ‘having a
beautiful voice,’ and Vāgīṡvara, ‘lord of speech.’ This Bodhi-sattva, as
‘wisdom personified,’ and as ‘lord of harmony,’ may be regarded as a
counterpart of the Brāhmanical Brahmā or Viṡva-Karman, the supposed
creator of the universe. Brahmā, however, in his character of chief god,
needed no Buddhistic substitute, having been incorporated by name into
Buddhism. Mañju-ṡrī, as ‘lord of speech,’ seems also to be a counterpart
of Brahmā’s consort Sarasvatī.

According to some, a learned and eloquent Brāhman teacher, named
Mañju-ṡrī, introduced Buddhism from India into Nepāl about 250 years
after the Nirvāṇa of Buddha, and the mythical Mañju-ṡrī may have been a
development of the historical personage. His worship is mentioned by
both Fā-hien and Hiouen Thsang[99], and seems to have been very popular.

A personification of Prajñā pāramitā, ‘transcendent wisdom,’ is also
named. And indeed it seems natural that so soon as the Buddhists began
to personify qualities and invest them with divine attributes, learning
should have been among the first selected for deification, as it was by
the Hindūs in early times.

Mark, however, that the popular Mañju-ṡrī has no place assigned to him
in the Dhyāni-Buddha theory.

This mystical theory was a later development. It may be explained
thus:—The term Dhyāna (Jhāna) is a general expression for the four
gradations of mystic meditation which have ethereal spaces or worlds
corresponding to them (p. 209), and a Dhyāni-Buddha is a Buddha who is
supposed to exist as a kind of spiritual essence in these higher regions
of abstract thought.

That is to say, every Buddha who appears on earth in a temporary human
body—with the object of teaching men how to gain Nirvāṇa—exists also in
an ideal counterpart, or ethereal representation of himself, in the
formless worlds of meditation (p. 213). These ideal Buddhas are as
numerous as the Buddhas, but as there are only five chief human Buddhas
in the present age—Kraku-ććhanda, Kanaka-muni, Kāṡyapa, Gautama, and the
future Buddha Maitreya—so there are only five corresponding
Dhyāni-Buddhas:—Vairoćana, Akshobhya, Ratna-sambhava, Amitābha, and
Amogha-siddha (sometimes represented in images as possessing a third
eye). But this is not all; each of these produces by a process of
evolution a kind of emanation from himself called a Dhyāni-Bodhi-sattva,
to act as the practical head and guardian of the Buddhist community
between the interval of the death of each human Buddha and the advent of
his successor. Hence there are five Bodhi-sattvas—Samanta-bhadra,
Vajra-pāṇi, Ratna-pāṇi, Padma-pāṇi (= Avalokiteṡvara), and
Viṡva-pāṇi—corresponding to the five Dhyāni-Buddhas and to the five
earthly Buddhas respectively. In Nepāl five corresponding female Ṡaktis
or Tārā-devīs are named (see p. 216).

It is remarkable that the Chinese pilgrims from the fifth to the seventh
centuries, while often mentioning the Bodhi-sattvas, make no allusion to
any of the Dhyāni-Buddhas—whence we may gather that Amitābha, though
adopted into Indian Buddhism, was not actually worshipped in India at
least as a personal god.

In point of fact, it was only the Buddhism of the North which was not
satisfied with the original triad of the Buddha, the Law, and the
Monkhood. It, therefore, invented in addition five triads, each
consisting of a Dhyāni-Buddha, a Dhyāni-Bodhi-sattva, and an earthly
Buddha, though of these triads only one was of importance, namely, that
consisting of Amitābha, Avalokiteṡvara, and the human Buddha, Gautama.
But the Lalita-vistara does not mention this theory.

It should be observed, too, that an important addition to the Mahā-yāna
doctrine was made in certain Northern countries about the tenth century
of our era.

A particular sect of Buddhists in Nepāl, calling themselves Aiṡvarikas,
propounded a theory of a Supreme Being (Īṡvara), to whom they gave the
name of a ‘primordial Buddha’ (Ādi-Buddha), and who was declared to be
the source and originator of all things, and the original Evolver of the
Dhyāni-Buddhas, or Buddhas of contemplation, while they again were
supposed to evolve their corresponding Dhyāni-Bodhi-sattvas.

It is clear, of course, that this addition was a mere adaptation of
Buddhism to Brāhmanism, and that the Ādi-Buddha was invented to serve as
a counterpart of the One Universal Spirit Brahmă—the one eternally
existing spiritual Essence, from which all existing things are mere

Sometimes, however, this Ādi-Buddha is said to have produced all things
through union with Prajñā (mentioned before, p. 202), in which case he
is rather to be identified with the personal Creator Brahmā.

Observe, moreover, that even in early times one of the
Dhyāni-Buddhas—the one called Amitābha, ‘diffusing infinite light,’—lost
his purely abstract character, and was worshipped by Northern Buddhists
as a personal God. He is in the present day held by them to be an
eternal Being, the ideal of all that is beautiful and good, who receives
his worshippers into a heaven called Sukhāvati, ‘paradise of pleasures’
(see p. 183).

But it must also be noted that neither Ādi-Buddha nor Amitābha, when
regarded as personal gods, were held to be Creators of the World in the
Christian sense. They were merely Supreme rulers outside and above it;
for Northern Buddhists agree with Southern in thinking that the world
exists of itself, and that its only Creator is the force of its own

We pass on now to consider how far and with what modifications the
mythology of Brāhmanism and Hindūism was incorporated into Buddhism.

I have already pointed out that although the Buddha changed the
character of much of the existing mythology, he never prohibited his
lay-followers from continuing their old forms of worship, or bowing down
before the deities honoured by their fathers and grandfathers.

Apart indeed from the shrewd policy of not assuming an attitude of
hostility to popular creeds and usages, the tolerant tendency and
universality of the Buddha’s teaching obliged him, in common
consistency, to recognize, and as far as possible appropriate, the
various religious elements existing around him, and to subordinate them
to his own purposes.

In fact, according to the theory of true Buddhism, as has been well
pointed out by other writers, there was only one system of doctrine and
only one Law—that Law (Dharma) which Gautama Buddha came to renovate for
the benefit of the world in the present age.

Hence all the apparently conflicting creeds, dogmas, forms, ceremonies,
and usages of all nations, tribes, and races, were in reality mere
outcomes, or dim recollections, or corruptions, of that one and the same
universal Dharma which countless Buddhas had preached to mankind, in
countless ages before the time of Gautama, and would continue to preach
in ages to come.

Hindūism, therefore, like all other creeds, was contained in the Dharma
of Buddhism, and the great object of Gautama’s advent was not to uproot
the old religion, but to purify it from error and restore it.

It was on this account that he regarded the Hindū gods as occupying a
place in his own system, though not without some modification of the
nature of their supposed position, offices, and functions.

And here it will be necessary to give an account of the later Buddhist
theory of twenty-six successive tiers of heavens, one rising above the
other (p. 120).

In the centre of the world-system stands, as we have seen, the vast mass
of the mythical mountain Meru. On the upper portion of this stupendous
axis of the universe and above the eight chief hells and the worlds of
animals, ghosts, demons, and men, is situated the lowest heaven of the
gods, where abide the four Mahā-rājas, ‘great champions,’ or guardians
of the earth and the heavens against the demons, who are ever engaged in
assailing them from their world below. These four are represented in
full armour, with drawn swords; one quarter of the heavens being
assigned to the guardianship of each; viz. the East to Dhṛita-rāshṭra,
king of the Gandharvas; the South to Virūḍhaka, king of the Kumbhāṇḍas;
the West to Virūpāksha, king of the Nāgas; the North to Kuvera
(Vaiṡravaṇa), king of the Yakshas. The inhabitants of this heaven are
called Ćatur-mahārāja-kāyikas, or simply Mahārājika-devāhḥ. Above this
lowest heaven, and on the highest summit of the world’s axis, Meru, is
enthroned the god Ṡakra (Indra), known in the Veda as god of the
atmosphere. He is lord of a heaven of his own, and no god is more
popular among Buddhists or oftener named in their legends; yet he is
inferior to Mahā-brahmā and to Māra (p. 208). Buddha himself was Indra
in some of his births (p. 111). To this heaven he ascended to preach the
Law to his mother.

Hence we may infer that in the early days of Buddhism, Indra, who was
perhaps the chief god of the Ṛig-veda, was still the favourite god of
the people.

His heaven forms the second tier, reckoning from the lowest upwards (see
p. 120), and is called Trayastriṉṡa (Tāvatiṉsa), that of the
thirty-three divinities—as recognized in the Vedic hymns—consisting of
the three groups of eleven Rudras, eight Vasus, and twelve Ādityas,
together with personifications of Heaven and Earth.

The remaining heavens of the gods, which rise in succession above the
lowest and above Indra’s and therefore in the sky above Mount Meru, are
the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. These are not illuminated by the
sun and moon, since the gods who live in them give out a sufficient
light from their own persons. The first of them, or third of the
heavens, is inhabited by beings called Yāmas. They were known to the
Brāhmans and probably presided over the periods of the day. They are
called ‘strifeless,’ because they have not to take part in the war
constantly being waged by the gods of the two lower heavens against the
demons (Asuras), who are unable to advance into the regions above Meru.

The fourth heaven is that of the Tushitas or ‘perfectly contented
beings.’ It is a peculiarly sacred region, as it is the home of all the
Bodhi-sattvas destined to become Buddhas. Gautama Buddha once dwelt
there, and Maitreya now presides in it.

The fifth heaven is inhabited by the Nirmāṇa-rati-devāḥ, that is,
‘beings who constantly enjoy pleasures provided by themselves.’

The sixth heaven, and the highest of the Deva-lokas, is the abode of the
Para-nirmita-vaṡa-varti-devāḥ, ‘beings who constantly enjoy pleasures
provided for them by others.’ These beings are also called Māras, and
are ‘lords of sensuous desires.’ When the theory of races of gods was
invented, it led to the figment of millions of Māras ruled over by a
chief Māra, who tempts men to indulge their passions (pp. 28, 33, 41),
and is always on the watch to enter the citadel of the body by the gates
of eye, ear, etc. (see note, p. 129). One of Māra’s names is Kāma,
‘desire.’ He is superior to all the gods of the worlds of sense, even to
Ṡakra or Indra. In every Ćakravāla or Universe of worlds there is a
Māra. He is sometimes called the Buddhist Satan, but this is misleading.
He is rather a superior god, whose power consists in exciting sensual or
carnal desires.

So far, then, the heavens are all worlds of sense,—like the earth and
the lower regions,—and are spheres inhabited by beings who have sexual
feelings and live active lives. But at this point in the ascent upwards
all sensuality ceases, and we are introduced to beings who enjoy a
higher condition of existence in which there is no distinction of sex,
and all sensuous desires and objects have lost their hold over the
frame—a condition supposed to be induced by the exercise of mystical
abstract meditation (Dhyāna, Pāli Jhāna).

The importance of Dhyāna or intense abstract meditation in the Buddhist
system has been pointed out before (p. 32). It is the chief religious
exercise in which a true follower of Buddha can engage, and although it
is divided into four stages, the man who exercises himself perfectly in
any one of the four, becomes so sublimated and refined that he cannot be
re-born in any of the sensuous heavens, or in any region lower than the
Brahmā worlds.

The first stage of Dhyāna consists in fixing (Dhāraṇā) the mind and at
the same time exercising the thinking faculties on some object, in such
a way that a state of ecstatic joy and serenity is attained.

The second consists in concentrating the mind or soul so intensely on
itself that the thinking faculties cease to act and only ecstatic joy
and serenity remain.

In the third, nothing remains but perfect serenity.

The fourth is a trance-like condition of utter indifference and torpor,
in which there is neither any exercise of thought, nor any conscious joy
or serenity, but the whole being is released from the fetters of sense
and soars to a transcendental condition, characterized by latent energy
and a power of working miracles (p. 133).

These four stages of abstract meditation must not be confused with the
four earnest reflections and the five contemplations (pp. 49, 127),
which are not so abstract and require more earthly objects on which to
be exercised.

The fourth and last Dhyāna is also called Samādhi, and properly means
such a perfect concentration of the soul’s faculties, that the soul
becomes merged in itself. It is often used to denote an ecstatic
condition, scarcely to be distinguished from trance or hypnotism or
catalepsy. Those devotees in India who practise it are buried, not
burnt, and their tombs are called Samādhs.

To return now to Buddhist Cosmology, the theory of later Buddhism is
that he who has practised the first Dhyāna will rise at death to one of
the three tiers of heavens connected with that first Dhyāna, i.e. to the
first and lowest of the four groups of worlds of true form (rūpa), in
which all sexual distinctions are obliterated.

This first or lowest group consists of the worlds of the Brahmās, a high
order of gods divided into three classes with three tiers of abodes.

The first class of Brahmā gods, inhabiting the first or lowest of the
tiers of the Brahmā abodes, consists of the Brahma-parisajjā devāḥ, or
beings who constitute the retinue of the god Mahā-brahmā—the chief of
all the Buddhist gods.

The second class of Brahmā gods, inhabiting the second tier, consists of
the Brahma-purohitā devāḥ, ‘beings who are the ministers of

The third class of Brahmā gods, inhabiting the highest of the three
tiers, consists of the Mahā-brahmās, ‘great Brahmās,’ of whom
Mahā-brahmā is the chief.

The inhabitants of these three worlds are sometimes called the
Brahma-kāyikā devāḥ, ‘gods having a Brahmā form.’

It is important, however, to note that Brahmā or Mahā-brahmā, sometimes
called Brahmā Sahām-pati, ‘lord of those who have to suffer[100],’ is
the king of _all_ the higher heavens (p. 214), ruling there, as Mara and
Indra do in the lower worlds and heavens of sense and desire. Out of
deference to Brāhmanism he has been adopted as the chief god of the
Buddhist Pantheon, and yet he is far inferior to the Buddha.

Furthermore, it is to be observed that every Ćakra-vāla or ‘system of
worlds’ (see p. 120) has its own Mahā-brahmā ruling over its own higher
heavens, and that as there are countless Ćakra-vāla, so there are
countless Mahā-brahmās. Nor is any of these chief gods eternal. Each has
to pass into some other form of existence at the end of vast periods of
time, and is then succeeded by another. Gautama Buddha himself was born
four times as Mahā-brahmā (see p. 111).

The second group of worlds of true form has also three tiers of heavens
like the first, and is assigned as an abode to those who have risen to
the second degree of contemplation.

The characteristic of these three heavens is that they are regions of
true light—not of the sun’s light, but of mental enlightenment, and each
of the three is inhabited by beings who have raised themselves to
different heights of knowledge and intelligence.

In the first are the Parīttābhā (Parĭttābhā) devāḥ, ‘beings of
circumscribed or limited enlightenment;’ in the second are the
Apramāṇābhā (Appamāṇābhā) devāḥ, ‘beings of infinite light;’ in the
third are the Ābhāsvarā (Ābhassarā) devāḥ, ‘beings of the clearest

The third group of worlds of true form has again three tiers of heavens,
which are assigned to those who have raised themselves to the third
stage of contemplation.

The peculiarity of these three seems to be that they are regions of the
greatest purity, and that each of the three is the abode of beings
distinguished by higher and higher degrees of purity. In the first are
the Parītta-ṡubhā (Parītta-subhā) devāḥ, ‘gods or beings of limited
purity;’ in the second are the Apramāṇa-ṡubhā (Appamāna-subhā) devāḥ,
‘beings of unlimited purity;’ in the third are the Ṡubha-kṛitsnā
(Subha-kiṇṇā) devāḥ, ‘beings of absolute purity.’

The fourth group of worlds of true form has seven tiers of heavens,
occupied by those beings who have risen to the fourth or highest grade
of abstract meditation (Dhyāna), which is really a state of meditating
on nothing and of complete indifference to all concrete objects. These
beings are the emancipated Arhats who have delivered themselves from the
cycle (Saṃsāra) of constant re-birth (p. 134).

In the first tier are the Vṛihat-phalā (Vehapphalā) devāḥ, ‘beings
enjoying great reward;’ in the second are the Asañjñi-sattvā
(Asañña-sattā) devāḥ, ‘beings lost in total unconsciousness;’ in the
third are the Avṛihā (Avihā) devāḥ, ‘beings who make no efforts;’ in the
fourth are the Atapā (Atappā) devāḥ, ‘beings who never endure any pain;’
in the fifth are the Sudarṡā (Sudassā) devāḥ, ‘beings who see clearly;’
in the sixth are the Sudarṡino (Sudassī) devāḥ, ‘beings of beautiful
appearance;’ in the seventh are the Akanishṭhā (Akaniṭṭhā) devāḥ,
‘highest of all beings.’ In this last must be included all Arhats and

High above the worlds of true form and above the abode of pure
contemplative beings, rise the four heavens of formless entities—beings
who have no material frames, even of the subtlest kind, but are mere
abstractions, such as the Dhyāni-Buddhas (pp. 202, 203).

In the first of these formless heavens (Arūpa-loka) are the
Ākāṡānantyāyatanā devāḥ, ‘beings who are capable of conceiving the idea
of infinite space;’ in the second are the Vijñānānantyāyatanā devāḥ,
‘beings who are capable of conceiving the idea of infinite
intelligence;’ in the third are the Akiñćanyāyatanā devāḥ, ‘beings who
can conceive the idea of absolute nonentity,’ or, in other words, that
nothing whatever exists anywhere; in the fourth and highest of all are
the Naivasañjñānāsañjñāyatanā devāḥ (Nevasaññānāsaññāyå-), ‘beings who
abide in neither consciousness nor unconsciousness.’ This is the most
sublime of all conditions, but these heavens belong to mystical

Subjoined is a synopsis of all the heavens and their inhabitants
explained above (see Koeppen i. 260).

            _Heavens of beings liable to sensuous desires._

    (1) Heaven of the four Mahā-rājas.
    (2) Heaven of the Trayastriṉṡas.
    (3) Heaven of the Yāmas.
    (4) Heaven of the Tushitas.
    (5) Heaven of the Nirmāṇa-rati-devāḥ.
    (6) Heaven of the Para-nirmita-vaṡa-vartins.

               _Heavens of beings possessing true forms._

                             First Dhyāna.

    (7) Heaven of the Brahma-parisajjā devāḥ.
    (8) Heaven of the Brahma-purohitā devāḥ.
    (9) Heaven of the Mahā-brahmā devāḥ.

                             Second Dhyāna.

    (10) Heaven of the Parīttābhā devāḥ.
    (11) Heaven of the Apramāṇābhā devāḥ.
    (12) Heaven of the Ābhāsvarā devāḥ.

                             Third Dhyāna.

    (13) Heaven of the Parītta-ṡubhā devāḥ.
    (14) Heaven of the Apramāṇa-ṡubhā devāḥ.
    (15) Heaven of the Ṡubha-kṛitsnā devāḥ.

                             Fourth Dhyāna.

    (16) Heaven of the Vṛihat-phalā devāḥ.
    (17) Heaven of the Asañjñi-sattvā devāḥ.
    (18) Heaven of the Avṛihā devāḥ.
    (19) Heaven of the Atapā devāḥ.
    (20) Heaven of the Sudarṡā devāḥ.
    (21) Heaven of the Sudarṡino devāḥ.
    (22) Heaven of the Akanishṭhā devāḥ.

                    _Heavens of formless entities._

    (23) Heaven of the Ākāṡānantyāyatanā devāḥ.
    (24) Heaven of the Vijñānānantyāyatanā devāḥ.
    (25) Heaven of the Akiñćanyāyatanā devāḥ.
    (26) Heaven of the Naiva-sañjñānāsañjñāyatanā devāḥ.

This elaborate description of higher and higher conditions of future
existence may be contrasted with the reticence of the Bible and its
simple allusion to a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth

The description, however, belongs to later Buddhism. It enables us to
understand the true position of the Buddhist gods. They merely
constitute one of the six classes of beings, and, as they have to go
through other forms of life, are inferior to Arhats and Buddhas.

Mahā-brahmā is often named, whereas Vishṇu, the popular god of the
Hindūs, is neglected. In point of fact he was, as we have seen,
represented by Padma-pāṇi (Avalokiteṡvara, p. 198), who seems to have
taken his place in later Buddhism.

At all events the more modern form of Vishṇu called Kṛishṇa, who is
generally worshipped by the lower orders of Hindūs as the most popular
god of mediæval Hindūism, has not been adopted by the inhabitants of
Buddhist countries.

When I was at Kandy in Ceylon I found one solitary shrine (Devālī)
dedicated, not to Kṛishṇa, but to Mahā-Vishṇu. It was near the
well-known Tooth-temple and appeared almost deserted. The shrine was at
the end of a bare room, and contained a small silver-gilt image of
Mahā-Vishṇu (as Vishṇu is called when worshipped by Buddhists, just as
the chief of the Brahmā gods is called Mahā-Brahmā) about half a foot
high. In the hands of the image was a thin metal bar with a kind of
locket or amulet suspended from it, while round its neck was a long
rosary and in front of the body a large plate for offerings. The folding
doors of the sanctuary had representations of the sun and moon.

Turning to the god Ṡiva, we may note that he was adopted by later
Buddhism in his character of Yogī, or Mahā-yogī (see ‘Brāhmanism and
Hindūism,’ p. 83). Then, as the Buddhism of the North very soon became
corrupted with Ṡaivism and its accompaniments, Ṡāktism, Tāntrism, and
Magic, so in Northern countries various forms of Ṡiva—such as Mahā-Kāla,
Bhairava, Bhīma—and of his wife (Pārvatī, Durgā, etc.), are honoured,
and their images are found in temples. Sometimes bloody sacrifices are
offered to them.

Among the female deities forms of Tārā are chiefly worshipped, and
regarded as Ṡaktis of the Buddhas.

It is even held by the disciples of the more advanced
Mahā-yāna—especially in Nepāl—that there are five Ṡaktis or female
Energies (corresponding to the five human Buddhas), whose names are
given in corresponding order thus:—Vajra-dhātrī, Loćanā, Māmakī,
Pāṇḍarā, and Tārā or Tārā-devī (the latter being the Tārā _par

But the goddess Tārā was also worshipped by Buddhists in India proper;
for we find that Hiouen Thsang alludes to having seen images of Tārā
Bodhi-sattva[102] in the country of Magadha.

I may mention, too, that in a dilapidated building, which contains the
Vajrāsana or thunderbolt throne of Gautama at Buddha-Gayā (in the same
country of Magadha), I noticed in a shrine near the temple, an image of
Tārā-devī, which, from the crown of fresh flowers encircling its head,
appeared to have been recently worshipped by some Buddhist pilgrims, who
had arrived on the day of my visit in 1876.

The god Indra, usually called Ṡakra (Sakka), is, as we have seen, the
most popular god of the early Buddhist Pantheon (pp. 51, 207). He is a
friendly deity and never exerts evil influences over men, like Māra. On
the contrary, if any good man is in need of his services he descends
from his own heaven to render assistance; and the fact of his aid being
required is made known to him by his throne becoming hot.

The Dharma-pada (107, 392) mentions Agni, god of fire, and again (48),
Antaka, god of death, sometimes identified with Māra or with Yama,
‘ruler in Hell.’ A form of Yama called Yamāntaka is also recognized.

In Ceylon I observed several shrines to Kanda-Kumāra, a form of Skanda
(son of Ṡiva), who is said to have received the gift of healing from

There also I observed shrines of Saman (sometimes spelt Samanta,
sometimes Sumana), the tutelary deity of Adam’s Peak, which is thence
called Samanta-kūṭo and Sumana-kūṭo.

Then there were shrines dedicated to a demoniacal goddess called Paṭṭini
(regarded sometimes as protecting from small-pox), and to certain good
and evil genii, called Năths (Nāthas?) as in Burma.

No doubt the worship of devils and demons existed in Ceylon long before
the introduction of either Brāhmanism or Buddhism. At Colombo in 1877 I
witnessed a so-called devil-dance, performed late at night before the
then Governor, Sir William Gregory.

First, three men dressed in coarse, loose, jet-black dresses, engaged in
a wild dance together. They had shaggy hair, blackened faces daubed with
white paint, and a set of six or eight long projecting false teeth,
which protruded far below the lower lip, sometimes one, sometimes two at
a time. Their legs were completely covered with small bells, which
rattled like chains when they moved. In their hands they held three
flaring torches, branching from one handle. At intervals they increased
the glare and smoke from these torches by sprinkling resin upon them.

Their dance was of the wildest description, in a circle, sometimes
moving in and out, and crossing each other, and all the while beating
the ground violently with their jingling legs, which kept time to the
noisy music of tom-toms, flagiolets, horns, etc., played by attendant
musicians. These three men were supposed to represent the various forms
of typhus fever. At intervals during their dance they assumed frightful
black masks with hideous open mouths.

Then with them were two other dancing demons dressed in red, not so
hideous in appearance, who also danced holding torches. These
represented another form of devil. They danced in the interval of the
two performances of the black devils. There were also three men dressed
in reddish garments, who formed part of the group and moved about
quietly among the others. They were described to me as devil-charmers or

Every disease—every calamity has its presiding demon, and all such
demons are the servants of Buddha.

In regard to the other supernatural beings and figments of Hindū
mythology adopted, with a few unimportant modifications, by Buddhists,
the first that call for mention are the Pretas (see p. 121).

The Pretas are beings of the nature of ghosts and goblins who have
recently inhabited the earth, and are often of gigantic size and
terrific appearance, with dried-up limbs, hairy countenances, enormous
bellies, ever consumed with hunger and thirst, and yet never able to eat
and drink by reason of their contracted throats. Some are represented as
trying to swallow sparks of fire; others try to eat up dead bodies, or
their own flesh. Possibly this form of re-birth was invented to deter
the laity from withholding food from the monks. The Pretas inhabit a
region above the hells. Some, however, assign them habitations above the
surface of the earth or in desert places on the earth itself.

The Asuras or Daityas are evil demons who, like the Titans of Greek
mythology, are always at war with the gods. They dwell under the
foundations of Mount Meru, as far underneath the surface of the earth as
their great enemy Indra is above it. In short, if he may be supposed to
live at the zenith, they live at the nadir, and their battle-field is on
the slopes of Meru.

Closely connected with them are the Rākshasas, who are also enemies of
the gods and are represented as monsters of frightful form and
man-eating propensities. They haunt cremation-grounds and cemeteries and
way-lay human beings in solitary places to devour them.

Then there is a class of very malignant demons called Piṡāćas (described
in ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 242), who are the authors of all evils.

On the other hand, the Yakshas and Yakshiṇīs are a class of good genii
ruled over by Kuvera, ‘god of wealth,’ who is often referred to in
Buddhist writings under his patronymic Vaiṡravaṇa (Pāli Vessavaṇo)[103].
These beings are commonly represented in sculptures in human form and
held to be harmless, though some Buddhist legends describe them as
cruel. Stories are told about some of them being converted to Buddhism.

Then come the Nāgas, who are constantly alluded to. They properly belong
to a class of serpent-demons, having human faces with serpent-like lower
extremities, who live in one of the lower regions below the earth called
Pātāla, or under the waters. They are introduced into Buddhist
sculptures as worshippers of the Buddha and friends of all Buddhists,
but usually represented as ordinary men. The Nāga Mućalinda (also
Mućilinda), who sheltered Buddha, was a real serpent (see p. 39).
Nāga-kanyās or female Nāgas (serpents from the waist downwards) are also
not uncommon[104]. In Kashmīr Nāgas are connected with fountains and the
sources of rivers.

Then there are the Mahoragas, ‘great dragons,’ who also belong to the
Nāga class of demons.

We ought also to notice the Kumbhāṇḍas, a class of demons who attend on
Virūḍhaka (p. 206); the Garuḍas, a bird-like race ruled over by the
mythical Garuḍa, king of birds and enemy of the Nāgas and serpents; the
Apsarases, or nymphs produced at the churning of the ocean. These last
are sometimes described in Hindū mythology as the Hūrīs of Indra’s
heaven, who are assigned to heroes killed in battle. In Buddhist
sculptures they are represented as beautiful females, who are properly
the wives of Indra’s celestial musicians called Gandharvas.

Finally, mention should be made of the Kinnaras and Kinnarīs—beings who
ought properly to be represented with human bodies and equine heads, and
are, like the Gandharvas, heavenly musicians. It is even recorded in one
legend that the Buddha himself in a former life was a Kinnarī.

All this proves the close connexion of Buddhism with the Hindūism which,
like Buddhism, grew out of Brāhmanism. In short, the one mythology is so
interpenetrated with the other, that Buddhism in making proselytes
throughout Eastern Asia could not avoid propagating Hindū mythological
doctrines along with its own.

The consequence was that Hindūism, though often regarded as an
unproselyting and wholly national religion, really exercised a vast
influence outside its own boundaries and among alien races.

It is, at any rate, a remarkable fact that no mythological system has
ever spread over so large an area of the earth’s surface as that which,
originating in India, was accepted to a great extent by all Buddhist
communities. And this Indo-Buddhistic system of mythology, with its, to
us, absurd idolatry, rests on an extremely subtle form of pantheism,
which is not to be brushed aside as too contemptible for investigation.

It is usual to denounce all such systems as simple Heathenism; but
‘Heathenism’ means the religion of ‘the nations’—the religion evolved by
the men of all countries out of their own imaginations and by their own
natural faculties, without the aid of any true supernatural revelation.

And assuredly this religion of human nature is still a strong citadel
entrenched behind the formidable forces of pride, passion, prejudice,
and ignorance. Yet the walls of the fortress have numerous weak places,
which the wise missionary, armed with the still more powerful forces at
his command, will endeavour to discover and quietly undermine. By
patient and quiet working he must win the day.

With man, speed and rapidity of action are supposed to be the chief
evidences of progress and the chief factors in success. The Evangelist,
on the other hand, is a worker for God and a fellow-worker with God, and
ought not to be discouraged by the tardy advance of the Truth which he
advocates. He may have his moments of despondency, but he has only to
look around and observe that God works everywhere throughout His own
Universe by slow and almost imperceptible processes. The ripe fruit
falls from the tree in a second, but its maturity is not effected
without a whole year of gradual preparation.

                               LECTURE X.
     _Mystical Buddhism in its connexion with the Yoga philosophy._

The first idea implied by Buddhism is intellectual enlightenment. But
Buddhism has its own theory of enlightenment—its own idea of true
knowledge, which it calls Bodhi, not Veda. By true knowledge it means
knowledge acquired by man through his own intellectual faculties and
through his own inner consciousness, instincts, and intuitions, unaided
by any external or supernatural revelation of any kind.

But it is important to observe that Buddhism, in the carrying out of its
own theory of entire self-dependence in the search after truth, was
compelled to be somewhat inconsistent with itself. It enjoined
self-conquest, self-restraint, self-concentration, and separation from
the world for the attainment of true knowledge and for the
accomplishment of its own _summum bonum_—the bliss of Nirvāṇa—the bliss
of deliverance from the fires of passion and the flames of
concupiscence. Yet it encouraged association and combination for mutual
help. It established a universal brotherhood of celibate monks, open to
persons of all castes and ranks, to rich and poor, learned and unlearned
alike—a community of men which might, in theory, be co-extensive with
the whole world—all bound together by the common aim of self-conquest,
all animated by the wish to aid each other in the battle with carnal
desires, all penetrated by a desire to follow the example of the Buddha,
and be guided by the doctrine or law which he promulgated.

Cœnobitic monasticism in fact, as we have already pointed out, became an
essential part of true Buddhism and a necessary instrument for its

In all this the Buddha showed himself to be eminently practical in his
methods and profoundly wise in his generation. Evidently, too, he was
wise in abstaining at first from all mystical teaching. Originally
Buddhism set its face against all solitary asceticism and all secret
efforts to attain sublime heights of knowledge. It had no occult, no
esoteric system of doctrine which it withheld from ordinary men.

Nor did true Buddhism at first concern itself with any form of
philosophical or metaphysical teaching, which it did not consider
helpful for the attainment of the only kind of true knowledge worth
striving for—the knowledge of the origin of suffering and its remedy—the
knowledge that suffering and pain arise from indulging lusts, and that
life is inseparable from suffering, and is an evil to be got rid of by
suppressing self and extinguishing desires.

In the Mahā-parinibbāna-sutta (Rhys Davids, II. 32) is recorded one of
the Buddha’s remarks shortly before his decease:—

‘What, O Ānanda, does the Order desire of me? I have taught the law
(desito dhammo) without making any distinction between esoteric and
exoteric doctrine (anantaram abahiram karitvā). In the matter of the
law, the Tathāgata (i.e. the Buddha) has never had the closed fist of a
teacher (āćariya-muṭṭhi)—of a teacher who withholds some doctrines and
communicates others.’ In short, he was opposed to mysticism.

Nevertheless, admitting, as we must, that early Buddhism had no
mysteries reserved for a privileged circle, we must not shut our eyes to
the fact that the great importance attached to abstract meditation in
the Buddhist system could not fail in the end to encourage the growth of
mystical ideas.

Furthermore, it is undeniable that such ideas were, in some countries,
carried to the most extravagant extremes. Efforts to induce a
trance-like or hypnotic condition, by abstracting the thoughts from all
bodily influences, by recitation of mystical sentences, and by
superstitious devices for the acquisition of supernatural faculties,
were placed above good works and all the duties of the moral code.

We might point, too, to the strange doctrine which arose in Nepāl and
Tibet—the doctrine of the Dhyāni-Buddhas (or ‘Buddhas of
Meditation’)—certain abstract Essences existing in the formless worlds
of thought, who were held to be ethereal and eternal representatives of
the transitory earthly Buddhas. These have been adverted to in a
previous Lecture (see p. 202).

Our present concern is rather with the growth and development of
mystical Buddhism in India itself, through its connexion with the system
of philosophy called Yoga and Yogāćāra.

The close relationship of Buddhism to that system is well known; but the
various practices included under the name Yoga did not owe their origin
to Buddhism. They were prevalent in India before Gautama Buddha’s time;
and one of the most generally accepted facts in his biography is that,
after abandoning his home and worldly associations, he resorted to
certain Brāhman ascetics, who were practising Yoga.

What then was the object which these ascetics had in view?

The word Yoga literally means ‘union’ (as derived from the Sanskṛit root
‘yuj,’ to join; compare the English word ‘yoke’), and the proper aim of
every man who practised Yoga was the mystic union (or rather re-union)
of his own spirit with the one eternal Soul or Spirit of the Universe. A
true Yogī, says the Bhagavad-gītā (VI. 13, 25), should be indifferent to
all earthly things. To him a clod, a stone, and gold should be all

Doubtless this was the Buddha’s first aim when he addressed himself to
Yoga in the fifth century B.C., and even to this hour, earnest men in
India resort to this system with the same object.

In the Indian Magazine for July, 1887 (as well as in my ‘Brāhmanism and
Hindūism,’ p. 529), is a short biography of a quite recent religious
reformer named Svāmī Dayānanda-Sarasvatī, whose acquaintance I made at
Bombay in 1876 and 1877, and who only died in 1883. The story of his
life reads almost like a repetition of the life of Buddha, though his
teaching aimed at restoring the supposed monotheistic doctrine of the

It is recorded that his father, desiring to initiate him into the
mysteries of Ṡaivism, took him to a shrine dedicated to the god Ṡiva;
but the sight of some mice stealing the consecrated offerings, and of
some rats playing on the heads of the idol, led him to disbelieve in
Ṡiva-worship as a means of union with the Supreme Being. Longing,
however, for such union and for emancipation from the burden of repeated
births, he resolved to renounce marriage and abandon the world.
Accordingly, at the age of twenty-two, he clandestinely quitted his
home, the darkness of evening covering his flight. Taking a secret path,
he travelled thirty miles during the night. Next day he was pursued by
his father, who tried to force him to return, but in vain. After
travelling farther and farther from his native province, he took a vow
to devote himself to the investigation of truth. Then he wandered for
many years all over India, trying to gain knowledge from sages and
philosophers, but without any satisfactory result, till finally he
settled at Ahmedābād. There, having mastered the higher Yoga system, he
became the leader of a new sect called the Ārya-Samāj.

And here we may observe that the expression ‘higher Yoga’ implies that a
lower form of that system had been introduced. In point of fact, the
Yoga system grew, and became twofold—that is, it came in the end to have
two objects.

The earlier was the higher Yoga. It aimed only at union with the Spirit
of the Universe. The more developed system aimed at something more. It
sought to acquire miraculous powers by bringing the body under control
of the will, and by completely abstracting the soul from body and mind,
and isolating it in its own essence. This condition is called Kaivalya.

In the fifth century B.C., when Gautama Buddha began his career, the
later and lower form of Yoga seems to have been little known.
Practically, in those days, earnest and devout men craved only for union
with the Supreme Being, and absorption into his Essence. Many methods of
effecting such union and absorption were contrived. And these may be
classed under two chief heads—bodily mortification (tapas) and abstract
meditation (dhyāna).

By either one of these two chief means, the devotee was supposed to be
able to get rid of all bodily fetters—to be able to bring his bodily
organs into such subjection to the spiritual that he became unconscious
of possessing any body at all. It was in this way that his spirit became
fit for blending with the Universal Spirit, of which it was originally a

We learn from the Lalita-vistara that various forms of bodily torture,
self-maceration, and austerity were common in Gautama’s time.

Some devotees, we read, seated themselves in one spot and kept perpetual
silence, with their legs bent under them. Some ate only once a day or
once on alternate days, or at intervals of four, six, or fourteen days.
Some slept in wet clothes or on ashes, gravel, stones, boards, thorny
grass, or spikes, or with the face downwards. Some went naked, making no
distinction between fit or unfit places. Some smeared themselves with
ashes, cinders, dust, or clay. Some inhaled smoke and fire. Some gazed
at the sun, or sat surrounded by five fires, or rested on one foot, or
kept one arm perpetually uplifted, or moved about on their knees instead
of on their feet, or baked themselves on hot stones, or submerged
themselves in water, or suspended themselves in air.

Then, again, a method of fasting called very painful (atikṛiććhra),
described by Manu (XI. 213), was often practised. It consisted in eating
only a single mouthful every day for nine days, and then abstaining from
all food for the three following days.

Another method, called the lunar fast (VI. 20, XI. 216), consisted in
beginning with fifteen mouthfuls at full moon, and reducing the quantity
by one mouthful till new moon, and then increasing it again in the same
way till full moon.

Passages without number might be quoted from ancient literature to prove
that similar practices were resorted to throughout India, with the
object of bringing the body into subjection to the spirit. And these
practices have continued up to the present day.

A Muhammadan traveller, whose narrative is quoted by Mr. Mill (British
India, i. 355), once saw a man standing motionless with his face towards
the sun.

The same traveller, having occasion to revisit the same spot sixteen
years afterwards, found the very same man in the very same attitude. He
had gazed on the sun’s disk till all sense of external vision was

A Yogī was seen not very long ago (Mill’s India, i. 353) seated between
four fires on a quadrangular stage. He stood on one leg gazing at the
sun, while these fires were lighted at the four corners. Then placing
himself upright on his head, with his feet elevated in the air, he
remained for three hours in that position. He then seated himself
cross-legged, and continued bearing the raging heat of the sun above his
head and the fires which surrounded him, till the end of the day,
occasionally adding combustibles with his own hands to increase the

I, myself, in the course of my travels, encountered Yogis who had kept
their arms uplifted for years, or had wandered about from one place of
pilgrimage to another under a perpetual vow of silence, or had no place
to lie upon but a bed of spikes.

As to fasting, the idea that attenuation of the body by abstinence from
food facilitates union of the human soul with the divine, or at any rate
promotes a keener insight into spiritual things, is doubtless as common
in Europe as in Asia; but the most austere observer of Lent in European
countries would be hopelessly outdone by devotees whose extraordinary
powers of abstinence may be witnessed in every part of India.

If we now turn to the second method of attaining mystic union with the
Divine Essence, namely, by profound abstract thought, we may observe
that it, too, was everywhere prevalent in Buddha’s time.

Indeed, one of the names given by Indian philosophers to the One
Universal Spirit is Ćit, ‘Thought.’ By that name, of course, is meant
pure abstract thought, or the faculty of thought separated from every
concrete object. Hence, in its highest state the eternal infinite
Spirit, by its very nature, thinks of nothing. It is the simple
thought-faculty, wholly unconnected with any object about which it
thinks. In point of fact, the moment it begins to exercise this faculty,
it necessarily abandons for a time its condition of absolute oneness,
abstraction, and isolation, to associate itself with something inferior,
which is not itself.

It follows, therefore, that intense concentration of the mind on the One
Universal Spirit amounts to fixing the thought on a mere abstract
Essence, which reciprocates no thought in return, and is not conscious
of being thought about by its worshipper.

In harmony with this theory, we find that the definition of Yoga, in the
second aphorism of the Yoga-sūtra, is, ‘the suppression (nirodha) of the
functions or modifications (vṛitti) of the thinking principle (ćitta).’
So that, in reality, the union of the human mind with the infinite
Principle of thought amounts to such complete mental absorption, that
thought itself becomes lost in pure thought.

In the Ṡakuntalā (VII. 175) there is a description of an ascetic engaged
in this form of Yoga, whose condition of fixed meditation and immovable
impassiveness had lasted so long that ants had thrown up a mound as high
as his waist, and birds had built their nests in the long clotted
tresses of his tangled hair.

Not many years ago, I, myself, saw at Allahābād near the fort a devotee
who had maintained a sitting, contemplative posture, with his feet
folded under his body, in one place for twenty years. During the Mutiny
cannon thundered over his head, and bullets hissed around him, but
nothing apparently disturbed his attitude of profound meditation. Even
Muhammadans practise the same. The Russian correspondent of the _Times_
states (Sept. 18, 1888) that he saw in a mosque at Samarkand men who
voluntarily remained mute and motionless for forty days. On a curtain
being pulled aside he beheld a motionless figure seated in profound
meditation like a squatting mummy. The guide said that a cannon fired
off in front of his face would have left him equally unmoved.

It is clear, then, that, supposing Gautama to have made up his mind to
devote himself to a religious life, his adoption of a course of profound
meditation was a most usual proceeding.

A large number of the images of Buddha represent him sitting on a raised
seat or throne (called the Bodhi-maṇḍa), with his legs folded under his
body, and his eyes half-closed, in a condition of abstraction
(samādhi)—sometimes called Yoga-nidrā; that is, a trance-like state,
resembling profound sleep. (Compare frontispiece.)

He is said to have seated himself in this way under four trees in
succession (see p. 39 of these Lectures), namely, under the Bodhi-tree
or sacred fig-tree, under the Banyan-tree, under the Mućalinda-tree
(protected by the serpent), and under the Rājāyatana-tree.

And those four successive seats probably symbolized the four recognized
stages of meditation[105] (dhyāna) rising one above the other, till
thought itself was converted into non-thought (see p. 209).

We know, too, that the Buddha went through still higher progressive
stages of meditation at the moment of his death or final decease
(Pari-nirvāṇa), thus described in the Mahā-parinibbāna-sutta (Davids,
VI. 11):

‘Then the Venerable One entered into the first stage of meditation
(pathamajjhānam); and rising out of the first stage, he passed into the
second; and rising out of the second, he passed into the third; and
rising out of the third, he passed into the fourth; and rising out of
the fourth stage, he attained the conception of the infinity of space
(ākāṡānañćāyatanam, see p. 214); and rising out of the conception of the
infinity of space, he attained the conception of the infinity of
intelligence (viññāṇañćāyatanam); and rising out of the idea of the
infinity of intelligence, he attained the conception of absolute
nonentity (ākiñćaññāyatanam); and rising out of the idea of nonentity,
he entered the region where there is neither consciousness nor
unconsciousness; and rising out of that region, he entered the state in
which all sensation and perception of ideas had wholly ceased.’ (See p.
213 of these Lectures.)

Clearly, even four progressive stages of abstraction did not satisfy the
requirements of later Buddhism in regard to the intense sublimation of
the thinking faculty needed for the complete effacement of all sense of
individuality. Higher and higher altitudes had to be reached, insomuch
that the fourth stage of abstract meditation is sometimes divided and
subdivided into what are called eight Vimokhas and eight Samāpattis—all
of them forms and stages of ecstatic meditation[106].

A general name, however, for all the higher trance-like states is
_Samādhi_, and by the practice of Samādhi the six transcendent faculties
(Abhiññā) might ultimately be obtained, viz. the inner ear, or power of
hearing words and sounds, however distant (clair-audience, as it might
be called); the inner eye, or power of seeing all that happens in every
part of the world (clair-voyance); knowledge of the thoughts of others;
recollection of former existences; the knowledge of the mode of
destroying the corrupting influences of passion; and, finally, the
supernatural powers called Iddhi, to be subsequently explained.

But to return to the Buddha’s first course of meditation at the time
when he first attained Buddhahood. This happened during one particular
night, which was followed by the birthday of Buddhism.

And what was the first grand outcome of that first profound mental
abstraction? One legend relates that in the first watch of the night all
his previous existences flashed across his mind; in the second he
understood all present states of being; in the third he traced out the
chain of causes and effects, and at the dawn of day he knew all things.

According to another legend, there was an actual outburst of the divine
light before hidden within him.

We read in the Lalita-vistara (chap. i) that at the supreme moment of
his intellectual illumination brilliant flames of light issued from the
crown of his head, through the interstices of his cropped hair. These
rays are sometimes represented in his images, emerging from his skull in
a form resembling the five fingers of an extended hand (see the

Mark, however, that Gautama’s meditation never led him to the highest
result of the true Yoga of Indian philosophy—union with the Supreme
Spirit. On the contrary, his self-enlightenment led to entire disbelief
in the separate existence of any eternal, infinite Spirit at all—any
Spirit, in fact, with which a spirit existing in his own body could
blend, or into which it could be absorbed.

If the Buddha was not a materialist, in the sense of believing in the
eternal existence of material atoms, neither could he in any sense be
called a ‘spiritualist,’ or believer in the eternal existence of
abstract spirit.

With him Creation did not proceed from an Omnipotent Spirit or Mind
evolving phenomena out of itself by the exercise of will, nor from an
eternal self-existing, self-evolving germ of any kind. As to the
existence in the Universe of any spiritual substance which was not
matter and was imperceptible by the senses, it could not be proved.

Nor did he believe in the eternal existence of an invisible Self or Ego,
called Soul, distinct from a material body. The only eternity of true
Buddhism was an eternity of ‘becoming,’ not of ‘being’—an eternity of
existences, all succeeding each other, and all lapsing into nothingness.
If there were any personal gods they were all inferior to the perfect
man, and all liable to change and dissolution.

In brief, the Buddha’s enlightenment consisted, first, in the discovery
of the origin and remedy of suffering, and, next, in the knowledge of
the existence of an eternal Force—a force generated by what in Sanskṛit
is called Karman, ‘Act.’ The accumulated force of the acts of one
Universe produced another.

Every man, therefore, was created by the force of his own acts in former
bodies, combined with a force generated by intense attachment to
existence (upādāna). Who or what started the first act, the Buddha never
pretended to be able to explain. He confessed himself in regard to this
point a downright Agnostic. The Buddha himself had been created by his
own acts, and had been created and re-created through countless bodily
forms; but he had no spirit or soul existing separately between the
intervals of each creation. By his protracted meditation he attained to
no higher knowledge than this, and although he himself rose to loftier
heights of knowledge than any other man of his day, he never aspired to
other faculties than were within the reach of any human being capable of
rising to the same sublime abstraction of mind.

He was even careful to lay down a precept that the acquisition of
transcendent human faculties was restricted to the perfected saints
called Arhats; and so important did he consider it to guard such
faculties from being claimed by mere impostors, that one of the four
prohibitions communicated to all monks on first admission to his
monastic Order was that they were not to pretend to such powers (see p.

Nor is there any proof that even Arhats in Gautama’s time were allowed
to claim _superhuman_ faculties and the power of working physical

By degrees, no doubt, powers of this kind were ascribed to them as well
as to the Buddha. Even in the Yinaya, one of the oldest portions of the
Tri-piṭaka, we find it stated (Mahā-vagga I. 20, 24) that Gautama Buddha
gained adherents by performing three thousand five hundred supernatural
wonders (Pāli, pāṭi-hāriya; see p. 46). These were thought to be
evidences of his mission as a great teacher and saviour of mankind; but
the part of the narrative recording these, although very ancient, is
probably a legendary addition.

It is interesting, however, to trace in portions of the early
literature, the development of the doctrine that Buddhahood meant first
transcendent knowledge, and then supernatural faculties and the power of
working miracles.

In the Ākaṅkheyya-sutta (said to have been composed in the fourth
century B.C.) occurs a remarkable passage, translated by Prof. Rhys
Davids (S.B.E., p. 214):—

‘If a monk should desire through the destruction of the corrupting
influences (āsavas), by himself, and even in this very world, to know
and realise and attain to Arhatship, to emancipation of heart, and
emancipation of mind, let him devote himself to that quietude of heart
which springs from within, let him not drive back the ecstasy of
contemplation, let him look through things, let him be much alone.

‘If a monk should desire to hear with clear and heavenly ear, surpassing
that of men, sounds both human and celestial, whether far or near; if he
should desire to comprehend by his own heart the hearts of other beings
and of other men; if he should desire to call to mind his various
temporary states in the past, such as one, two, three, four, five, ten,
twenty, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand births, or his births
in many an age and æon of destruction and renovation, let him devote
himself to that quietude which springs from within.’

Then, in the Mahā-parinibbāna-sutta (I. 33, Rhys Davids) occurs the

‘At that time the blessed One—as instantaneously as a strong man would
stretch forth his arm, or draw it back again when he had stretched it
forth—vanished from this side of the river, and stood on the further
bank with the company of the brethren.’

And, again, the following:—

‘I call to mind, Ānanda, how when I used to enter into an assembly of
many hundred nobles, before I had seated myself there, or talked to
them, or started a conversation with them, I used to become in colour
like unto their colour, and in voice like unto their voice. Then, with
religious discourse, I used to instruct, incite, and quicken them, and
fill them with gladness. But they knew me not when I spoke, and would
say, “Who may this be who thus speaks? a man or a god?” Then, having
instructed, incited, quickened, and gladdened them with religious
discourse, I would vanish away. But they knew me not even when I
vanished away; and would say, “Who may this be who has thus vanished
away? a man, or a god?”’—(Mahā-parinibbāna-sutta III. 22, Rhys Davids.)

Such passages in the early literature afford an interesting
exemplification of the growth of supernatural and mystical ideas, which
led to the ultimate association of the Buddhistic system with Ṡaivism,
demonology, magic, and various so-called spiritual phenomena.

I now proceed to show that the development of these ideas in Buddhism
resulted from its connexion with the later Yoga, which developed similar

In the aphorisms of this later Yoga, composed by Patañjali, eight chief
requisites are enumerated (II. 29); namely, 1. abstaining from five evil
acts (yama); 2. performing five positive duties (niyama); 3. settling
the limbs in certain postures (āsana); 4. regulating and suppressing the
breath (prāṇāyāma); 5. withdrawing the senses from their objects
(pratyāhāra); 6. fixing the thinking faculty (dhāraṇā); 7. internal
self-contemplation (dhyāna); 8. trance-like self-concentration

These eight are indispensable requisites for the gaining of Patañjali’s
_summum bonum_—the complete abstraction or isolation (kaivalya) of the
soul or spirit in its own essence—and for the acquirement of
supernatural faculties.

Taking now these eight requisites of Yoga in order, we may observe, with
regard to the first, that the five evil acts to be avoided correspond to
the five commandments in Buddhism, viz. ‘kill not,’ ‘steal not,’ ‘commit
no impurity,’ ‘lie not.’ The fifth alone—‘abstain from all worldly
enjoyments’—is different, the Buddhist fifth prohibition being ‘drink no
strong drink’ (p. 126).

With regard to the second requisite, the five positive duties
are—self-purification, both external and internal (both called ṡauća);
the practice of contentment (saṃtosha); bodily mortification (tapas);
muttering of prayers, or repetition of mystical syllables (svādhyāya, or
japa), and contemplation of the Supreme Being.

The various processes of bodily mortification already described (see p.
228) were repudiated by Buddhism.

As to the muttering of prayers, the repetition of mystic syllables such
as Om (a symbol for the Triad of gods), or of any favourite deity’s
name, is held among Hindūs to be highly efficacious[107]. In a similar
manner among Tibetan Buddhists the six-syllabled sentence: ‘Om maṇi
padme Hūm’—‘Om! the jewel in the lotus! Hūm!’—is used as a charm against
the sixfold course of transmigration (see pp. 121, 371-373).

Mystical syllables are very common. Sir A. Cunningham gives the
following as current in Ladāk:—Bhyo, Rakmo-bhyo! Rakmo-bhyo-bhyo! Ru-lu,
Ru-lu, Hūm Bhyo Hūm! (Ladāk, 386.)

Other mystical syllables (such as Sam, Yam, Ram, Lam, etc.) are supposed
to contain some occult virtue.

The third requisite—posture—would appear to us a somewhat trivial aid to
the union of the human spirit with the divine; but with Hindūs it is an
important auxiliary, fraught with great benefit to the Yogī.

The alleged reason is that certain sitting postures (āsana) and cramping
of the lower limbs are peculiarly efficacious in producing bodily
quietude and preventing restlessness. Some of the postures have curious
names, for example:—Padmāsana, ‘the lotus posture;’ ‘vīrāsana, ‘the
heroic posture;’ siṉhāsana, ‘the lion posture’ (see note, p. 336);
kūrmāsana, ‘tortoise posture;’ kukku-ṭāsana, ‘cock posture;’
dhanur-āsana, ‘bow posture;’ mayūrāsana, ‘peacock posture.’ In the first
the legs are folded under the body and the right foot is placed on the
left thigh, and the left on the right thigh.

In short, the idea is that compression of the lower limbs, in such a way
as to prevent the possibility of the slightest movement, is most
important as a preparation for complete abstraction of soul.

Then, as another aid, particular mystical twistings (called mudrā) of
the upper limbs—of the arms, hands, and fingers—are enjoined.

Even in Muhammadan countries certain movements of the limbs are
practised by devotees with the view of uniting the human spirit with the
Divine. Those who have seen the whirling and ‘howling’ dervishes at
Cairo can testify that fainting fits result from their violent
exertions, inspirations, expirations, and utterances of the name of God,
and such fits are believed to be ecstatic states of union with the

The fourth requisite—regulation and suppression of the breath—is perhaps
the one of all the eight which is most difficult for Europeans to
understand or appreciate; yet with Hindūs it is all-important. It is
sometimes called Haṭha-vidyā. Nor are the ideas connected with it wholly
unknown in Europe.

According to Swedenborg[108], thought commences and corresponds with

‘When a man thinks quickly his breath vibrates with rapid alternations;
when the tempest of anger shakes his mind his breath is tumultuous; when
his soul is deep and tranquil, so is his respiration.’ And he adds: ‘It
is strange that this correspondence between the states of the brain or
mind and the lungs has not been admitted in science.’

The Hindū belief certainly is that deep inspirations of breath assist in
concentrating and abstracting the thoughts and preventing external
impressions. But, more than this, five sorts of air are supposed to
permeate the human body and play an important part in its vitality. They
are called Prāṇa, Vyāna, Apāna, Samāna, Udāna. In the Ćhāndogya
Upanishad (V. 19, etc.) they are described as if they were divine beings
to be adored and to be honoured by offerings of food. The Haṭha-dīpikā
says: ‘As long as the air remains in the body, so long life remains.
Death is the exit of the breath. Hence the air should be retained in the

In regulating the breath, the air must first be drawn up through one
nostril (the other being closed with the finger), retained in the lungs,
and then expelled through the other nostril. This exercise must be
practised alternately with the right and left nostril. Next, the breath
must be drawn forcibly up through both nostrils, and the air imprisoned
for as long a time as possible in the lungs. Thence it must be forced by
an effort of will towards the internal organs of the body, or made to
mount to the centre of the brain.

The Hindūs, however, do not identify the breath with the soul. They
believe that a crevice or suture called the Brahma-randhram at the top
of the skull serves as an outlet for the escape of the soul at death. A
Hindū Yogī’s skull is sometimes split at death by striking it with a
sacred shell. The idea is to facilitate the exit of the soul. It is said
that in Tibet the hair is torn out of the top of the head, with the same

In the case of a wicked man the soul is supposed to escape through one
of the lower openings of the body.

The imprisonment of the breath in the body by taking in more air than is
necessary for respiration, is the most important of the breath
exercises. It is said that Hindū ascetics, by constant practice, are
able by this means to sustain life under water, or to be buried alive
for long periods of time. Many alleged feats of suspended animation are
of course mere and sheer trickery. It seems, however, open to question,
whether it may not be possible for human beings of particular
constitutions to practise a kind of hibernation like that of animals, or
acquire some power of suspending temporarily the organic functions. A
certain Colonel Townsend is said to have succeeded in doing so.

A well-known instance of suspended animation occurred in the Panjāb in
1837. A Hindū Yogī was there, by his own request, buried alive in a
vault for forty days in the presence of Runjit Singh and Sir Claude
Wade; his eyes, ears, and every orifice of his body having been first
stopped with plugs of wax. Dr. McGregor, the then residency surgeon,
also watched the case. Every precaution was taken to prevent deception.
English officials saw the man buried, as well as exhumed, and a
perpetual guard over the vault was kept night and day by order of Runjit
Singh himself. At the end of forty days the disinterment took place. The
body was dried up like a stick, and the tongue, which had been turned
back into the throat, had become like a piece of horn. Those who exhumed
him followed his previously-given directions for the restoration of
animation, and the Yogī told them he had only been conscious of a kind
of ecstatic bliss in the society of other Yogīs and saints, and was
quite ready to be buried over again.

What amount of fraud there may be in these feats it is difficult to say.
They may possibly be accounted for by the fact that Indian Yogīs have
studied the habits of hibernating animals; but in some cases the secret
introduction of food has been detected.

I may add that it is commonly believed throughout India that a man whose
body is sublimated by intense abstract meditation never dies, in the
sense of undergoing corruption and dissolution. When his supposed death
occurs he is held to be in a state of trance, which may last for
centuries, and his body is, therefore, not burnt, but buried—generally
in a sitting posture—and his tomb is called a Samādh.

With regard to the fifth requisite—the act of withdrawing the senses
from their object, as, for example, the eye from visible forms—this is
well compared to the act of a tortoise withdrawing its limbs under its

The sixth requisite—fixing the principle of thought—comprises the act of
directing the thinking faculty (ćitta) towards various parts of the
body, for example, towards the heart, or towards the crown of the head,
or concentrating the will-force on the region between the two eyebrows,
or even fixing the eyes intently on the tip of the nose. (Compare
Bhagavad-gītā VI. 13.)

The seventh and eighth requisites—viz. internal self-contemplation and
intense self-concentration—are held (when conjoined with the sixth) to
be most important as leading to the acquisition of certain supernatural
powers, of which the following are most commonly enumerated:—(1) Animan,
‘the faculty of reducing the body to the size of an atom;’ (2) Mahiman,
or Gariman, ‘increasing the size or weight at will;’ (3) Laghiman,
‘making the body light at will;’ (4)Prāpti, ‘reaching or touching any
object or spot, however apparently distant;’ (5) Prākāmya, ‘unlimited
exercise of will;’ (6) Īṡitva, ‘gaining absolute power over one’s self
and others;’ (7) Vaṡitā, ‘bringing the elements into subjection;’ (8)
Kāmāvasāyitā, ‘the power of suppressing all desires.’

A Yogī who has acquired these powers can rise aloft to the skies, fly
through space, pass through the key-hole of a door, pierce the mysteries
of planets and stars, cause storms and earthquakes, understand the
language of animals, ascertain what occurs in any part of the world, or
of the universe, recollect the events of his own previous lives, prolong
his present life, see into the past and future, discern the thoughts of
others, assume any form he likes, disappear, reappear, and even enter
into another man’s body and make it his own.

Such were some of the extravagant ideas which grew with the growth of
the Yoga system, and were incorporated into the later developments of

We learn from Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās that in the monastery of Galdan in
Tibet there is at this moment a college specially devoted to the
teaching of Esoteric and Mystical Buddhism; while magic and sorcery are
taught in the monasteries founded by Padma-sambhava (see pp. 272, 274,

Of course it was only natural that, with the association of Buddhism
with the later Yoga and Ṡaivism, the Buddha himself should have become a
centre for the growth of supernatural and mystical ideas.

Hence the Buddha is fabled by his followers to have ascended to the
Trayastriṉṡa heaven of Indra, walked on water, stepped from one mountain
to another, and left impressions of his feet on the solid rock. Although
in the Dhamma-pada it is twice declared (254, 255), ‘There is no path
through the air.’

Perhaps the climax was reached when the later doctrine made every Buddha
possess a threefold existence or three bodies, much in the same way as
in Hindūism three bodies are assigned to every being.

The first of the Buddha’s bodies is the Dharma-kāya, ‘body of the Law,’
supposed to be a kind of ethereal essence of a highly sublimated nature
and co-extensive with space. This essence was believed to be eternal,
and after the Buddha’s death, was represented by the Law or Doctrine
(Dharma) he taught. The idea seems to have been invented as an analogue
to Brahman, or the Universal spiritual Essence of Brāhmanism[109].

The second body is the Sambhoga-kāya, ‘body of conscious bliss,’ which
is of a less ethereal and more material nature than the last. Its
Brāhmanical analogue appears to be the intermediate body (belonging to
departed spirits) called Bhoga-deha, which is of an ethereal character,
though composed of sufficiently gross (sthūla) material particles to be
capable of experiencing happiness or misery.

For observe that it is an essential part of the Hindū doctrine of
transmigration or metempsychosis, that a soul _without a body_ is
incapable of feeling either happiness in heaven or pain in hell.

The third body is the Nirmāṇa-kāya, ‘body of visible shapes and
transformations,’ that is to say, those various concrete material forms
in which every Buddha who exists as an invisible and eternal essence, is
manifested on the earth or elsewhere for the propagation of the true

The Brāhmanical analogue of this third body appears to be the earthly
gross body, called Sthūla-ṡarīra.

It is evident that the extravagances of mystical Buddhism have their
counterparts in Brāhmanism.

There is a Brāhmanical legend which relates how the great Brāhman sage
Ṡaṅkarāćārya entranced his gross body, and then, having forced out his
soul along with his subtle body, entered the dead body of a recently
deceased king, which he occupied for several weeks.

The Yoga of the Brāhmans, in fact, held that adepts, skilled in occult
science, might throw their gross bodies into a state of unconsciousness,
and by a determined effort of will project or force out the ethereal
body through the pores of the skin, and make this phantasmal form
visible in distant places[110].

And now it is declared to be a fact that a community of Buddhist
‘Brothers’ called Mahātmas, are living at this moment in the deserts of
Tibet, who, having emancipated their interior selves from physical
bondage by profound abstract meditation, have acquired ‘astral’ bodies
(distinct from their gross bodies), with which they are able to rise in
the air, or move through space, by the mere exercise of will.

Sir Edwin Arnold on the other hand, in his ‘India Revisited’ (p. 273),
states that he asked Ṡrī Weligama of Ceylon whether there existed
anywhere Mahātmas, who elevated in this way above humanity, possessed
larger powers and more profound insight than any other living
philosophers? Weligama answered, ‘No! such do not exist; you would seek
them vainly in this island, or in Tibet, or in Siam, or in China. It is
true, O my friend, that if we had better interpretations of the Lord
Buddha’s teaching, we might reach to heights and depths of power and
goodness now quite impossible, but we have fallen from the old wisdom,
and none of us to-day are so advanced.’

I believe that the Psychical Research Society once sent delegates to
India who inquired into this subject, and exposed the absurdity of some
of the alleged phenomena.

Curiously in agreement with these extravagant notions are the beliefs of
various uncivilized races. Dr. Tylor, in his ‘Primitive Culture’ (i.
440), relates how the North American Indians and others believe that
their souls quit their bodies during sleep, and go about hunting,
dancing, visiting, etc. It is stated by Mr. Finn, late H. M. Consul for
North Persia, that he never could induce his Persian servants to awaken
him in the morning. They gave as their reason that the soul during sleep
wanders away from the body, and that a sleeper will die if awakened
before the soul has time to rejoin the body. The Indian tribes in
Central Brazil have the same belief, so says Dr. Karl von den Steinen
(recently quoted in the _Times_ newspaper).

Furthermore it is clear that the possibility of acquiring supernatural
faculties is not an idea confined to one country.

Old legends relate how Simon Magus made statues walk; how he flew in the
air; how he lept into the fire, made bread of stones, changed his shape,
assumed two faces, made the vessels in a house move of themselves
(Colonel Yule’s Marco Polo, i. 306).

We are told that the phenomena of European spiritualism are to be kept
distinct from those of Asiatic occultism. Modern spiritualism, it is
said, requires the intervention of ‘mediums,’ who neither control nor
understand the manifestations of which they are the passive instruments;
whereas the phenomena of occultism are the ‘achievements of a conscious
living operator,’ produced on himself by an effort of his own will.
According to Mr. Sinnett, the important point ‘which occultism brings
out is, that the soul of man, while something enormously subtler and
more ethereal and more lasting than the body, is itself a material body.
The ether that transmits light is held to be material by any one who
holds it to exist at all; but there is a gulf of difference between it
and the thinnest of gases.’ In another place he advances an opinion that
the spirit is distinct from the soul. It is the soul of the soul.

And again: ‘The body is the prison of the soul for ordinary mortals. We
can see merely what comes before its windows; we can take cognisance
only of what is brought within its bars. But the adept has found the key
of his prison, and can emerge from it at pleasure. It is no longer a
prison for him—merely a dwelling. He can project his soul out of his
body to any place he pleases with the rapidity of thought[111].’

It is perhaps worth noting that many believers in Asiatic occultism hold
that a hitherto unsuspected force exists in nature called Odic force (is
this to be connected with Psychic force?), and that it is by this that
the levitation of entranced persons is effected.

Others, like the Yogīs, maintain that any one may lighten his body by
swallowing large draughts of air, and by an effort of will forcing this
air to diffuse itself through every part of the frame. It is alleged
that this phenomenon has been actually witnessed.

The connexion, however, of similar phenomena with feats of conjuring is
undeniable. In the Asiatic Monthly Journal (March, 1829), an account is
given of a Brāhman who poised himself _apparently_ in the air, about
four feet from the ground, for forty minutes, in the presence of the
Governor of Madras. Another juggler sat on three sticks put together to
form a tripod. These were removed, one by one, and the man remained
sitting in the air[112].

Long ago Friar Ricold related that ‘a man from India was said to fly.
The truth was that he did walk close to the surface of the ground
without touching it, and would seem to sit down without any substance to
support him’ (Colonel Yule’s Marco Polo, i. 307).

On the other hand, it is contended, that ‘since we have attained, in the
last half-century, the theory of evolution, the antiquity of man, the
far greater antiquity of the world itself, the correlation of physical
forces, the conservation of energy, spectrum analysis, photography, the
locomotive engine, electric telegraph, spectroscope, electric light, and
the telephone (to which we may now add the phonograph), who shall dare
to fix a limit to the capacity of man[113]?’ Few will deny altogether
the truth of such a contention, however much they may dissent from
Colonel Olcott’s theosophical views.

There may be, of course, latent faculties in humanity which are at
present quite unsuspected, and yet are capable of development in the

According to Sir James Paget, in his recent address on ‘Scientific
Study,’ many things, now held to be inconceivable and past man’s
imagination, are profoundly and assuredly true, and it will be in the
power of Science to prove them to be so[114].

Most persons will assent to these propositions, and at the same time
agree with me when I express my conviction that mystical Buddhism and
Asiatic occultism are no more likely than modern European spiritualism,
to bear the searching light of true scientific investigation.

Nevertheless the subject of mystical Buddhism ought not to be brushed
aside as unworthy of consideration. It furnishes, in my opinion, a
highly interesting topic of inquiry, especially in its bearing on the
‘neo-Buddhism,’ and ‘Theosophy’ of the present day. At all events it is
clear from what we have advanced in the present Lecture, that the
practices connected with spiritualism, mesmerism, animal magnetism,
telepathy, clairvoyance, thought-reading[115], etc., have their
counterparts in the Yoga system prevalent in India more than 2,000 years
ago, and in the practices of mystical Buddhism prevalent in Tibet and
the adjacent countries for many centuries.

‘The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is
done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the

                              LECTURE XI.
_Hierarchical Buddhism, especially as developed in Tibet and Mongolia._

Early Buddhism was, as we have seen, opposed to all ecclesiastical
organization. It had no hierarchy in the proper sense of that term—no
church, no priests, no true form of prayer, no religious rites, no
ceremonial observances. It was simply a Brotherhood consisting of men
who had renounced all family ties, all worldly desires—even all desire
for life—and were pledged to devote themselves to meditation, recitation
of the Law, self-restraint, and the accumulation of merit, not for the
sake of saving others, but for their own deliverance.

It was on this account that when the Buddha died he abstained from
appointing a successor, and gave no directions to his followers as to
any particular form of government. All that he said was, ‘Hold fast to
the Law; look not to any one but yourselves as a refuge.’ In short, the
Society (Saṅgha) he left behind was a simple brotherhood of monks which
claimed some kind of corporate authority for the enforcement of
discipline, but had no Head except the Law. Nor did Buddhism for a long
time think of contravening the last injunctions of its Founder. Nor has
it ever attempted to establish a universal hierarchy under one Head and
under one central authority, and although the great Kāṡyapa as president
of the first Council (p. 55) is sometimes held to have been the first
successor of Buddha, and Ānanda the second (p. 56), these men never
claimed any supremacy like that of Popes. In point of fact Buddhism
simply organized itself in separate monastic institutions according to
local ideas and necessities. And indeed the exigencies of healthy
growth, and even the simple instinct of self-preservation compelled the
scattered members of the Buddhist Brotherhood to attempt some such
organization very soon after the death of their Founder. In ancient
times communication was carried on with difficulty, and the Buddhist
Brotherhood could only hold together by combining for mutual support in
various centres, and adopting some sort of monastic government.

It was thus that every collection of monks naturally tended to
crystallize into a distinct organized society with certain definite

Naturally, the earliest constitution of each was moulded according to
the family pattern. The living Head of every monastery was a kind of
spiritual father, while its inmates were his children, and these, again,
resolved themselves into two classes: the first consisting of the more
youthful members of the society; the second, of those whose more mature
experience entitled them to greater respect and reverence. Then, again,
some kind of pre-eminence was assigned to individuals who were
remarkable for greater knowledge, or sanctity of character.

It is easy to understand, therefore, how it happened that the Saṅgha or
collective community of monks was compelled in the end to establish
several gradations of rank and position among its members.

The following were soon recognized:—1. The Ṡrāmaṇera or ‘novice’ (who
began by being a Ćhela or ‘pupil’ under education); 2. The Ṡramaṇa (also
called Bhikshu) or full monk; 3. The Sthavira or ‘elder,’ who was merely
superior to others in virtue of his age; 4. The Mahā-sthavira or ‘great
elder’ (sometimes called Sthaviraḥ Sthavirāṇām); 5. The Upādhyāya and
Āćārya. These last were teachers of different kinds, who received honour
in virtue of their knowledge; the two positions of elder and teacher
being frequently united in the President of particular monasteries.

No doubt gradations of this kind existed in very early times in India,
Ceylon, and Burma. But in India the whole Buddhistic Order of monks
passed away.

In Ceylon and Burma, on the contrary, Buddhism has held its own. It may
even now be found in a purer form in those countries and in Siam than in
any other region of Eastern Asia, although it must be borne in mind
that, when it was introduced there, it was grafted on serpent-worship,
Nāga-worship[116], demon-worship, and Nath-worship[117], with all of
which, as well as with the worship of numerous Hindū gods, it continues
to be adulterated in the present day.

The Sinhalese (Koeppen, i. 207, 386) give a list of the first five
successive enforcers of discipline (viz. Upāli, Dāsaka, Sonaka, Siggava,
and Moggali-putta), and another list of ten successive Sthaviras or
elders, beginning with Sāri-putta. These lists are untrustworthy,
especially as omitting the great Kāṡyapa.

And I may here state that the condition of Buddhism in Ceylon is a
subject which I have had an opportunity of investigating personally. I
visited Ceylon in 1877, and had many interesting conversations with
intelligent monks, heads of monasteries, and a few really learned men,
including a leading monk named Sumaṅgala, who described himself to me as
‘High Priest of Adam’s Peak[118].’

I found, too, that a lofty idea prevails in Ceylon in regard to the
status of the monkhood. Theoretically, a true monk is regarded as a kind
of inferior Buddha, and revered accordingly. There are boy-pupils,
novices, and full monks, as in Burma (see p. 259). The
admission-ceremonies resemble those before described (p. 77). Admission
confers no priestly powers. Those monks who are Anglicized by contact
with our civilization call themselves ‘priests,’ but they are not real
priests, and have no sacerdotal functions except teaching, intoning the
Law, and preaching. They live as celibates and cœnobites in Pān-sālās
(‘houses made of leaves,’ p. 430), or monastic buildings of the simplest

The number of such monks is said to be about 8,000, and their chief
duties are supposed to be to meditate a great deal, to perform Baṇa,
that is, to recite the Tri-piṭaka with its commentary the Aṭṭha-kathā in
a sing-song voice, to repeat constantly the three-refuge formula (p.
78)[119], to teach and to preach, to fast and to make confession to each
other on at least four days in every month, at the four changes of the
moon called Uposatha (or commonly Poya) days (see p. 84); these days
being generally in modern times made to coincide with the Christian

True Buddhism does not require monks to perform public religious
services in temples. Nor is it the daily practice of monks to set the
people an example of worshipping and presenting offerings there. So far
as I was able to observe, the duty of visiting temples belongs rather to
the laity. The monks receive offerings, rather than present them. As to
their dress, it resembles that represented in the Buddha’s images, and
ought to consist of three pieces of cloth stained yellow or of a dull
yellowish colour. The principal garment is in one piece, but torn and
sewn together again, the object being to reduce its value and assimilate
it to a dress made of rags. The end of the dress is brought over the
left shoulder, and generally so as to leave the right shoulder bare. In
some cases both shoulders are covered, or the right partially so.

A good deal of care seems to be taken in Ceylon to instruct the youthful
members of the Order in Pāli; that is, in the language of their sacred
books (p. 60), and to make them conversant with the sacred texts.

I visited two principal colleges for monks at Kandy, which enjoy a
reputation rather like that of Oxford and Cambridge in our own country.
One is called Mālwatte, and the other Āsgīrīya. In the former I noticed
a large central hall, in which the ceremony of admission to the monkhood
takes place.

At Colombo there has been recently a revival of learning, and a modern
Oriental College (called Vidyodaya), for the cultivation of Sanskṛit,
Pāli, and Sinhalese, has been established under the superintendence of
the learned Sumaṅgala, ‘the High Priest of Adam’s Peak,’ mentioned

Each monastery in Ceylon has a presiding Head, and generally a temple
and library attached, with considerable property in land, but there is
clearly no organized hierarchy in the proper sense of the term, and no
supreme authority like that of an Archbishop; though it is said that the
Heads of the two Kandy Colleges exercise a kind of control over the
after-career of the monks they have trained. I found that a certain
amount of intelligence and learning exists among the monks both at
Colombo and Kandy, but it must be evident to every impartial observer
that the habit of living in houses apart from the laity, of repeating
the Law by rote, and of engaging in a kind of meditation which generally
amounts to thinking about nothing in particular, must tend, in the
majority of instances, to contract the mind, induce laziness, and give a
vacant and listless expression to the countenance. It may be safely
affirmed that the chief religious aim of the Buddhists of Ceylon is to
acquire merit with a view to ‘better’ themselves in future states of
existence, and that their highest aspiration is to attain to the heaven
of Indra (Ṡakra, p. 207). They have no real desire for Nirvāṇa (p. 141),
and still less for Pari-nirvāṇa (p. 142).

Passing on to Burma we may remark that although in Burma, as in Ceylon,
a pure form of Buddhism has prevailed ever since its introduction by
Buddha-ghosha (p. 65), and is still existent, yet we find that the purer
system is mixed up, as in Ceylon, with the worship of Nāgas, demons,
spirit-gods called Naths (commonly spelt Nats, p. 217), and with a kind
of Shamanism derived from the surrounding hill-tribes.

In regard to the gradations of the monkhood a more complete organization
exists in Burma than in Ceylon.

To begin with the boy-pupils:—In Burma nearly all boys become inmates of
monastic houses (called Kyoung) with the one object of learning to read
and write. They are simply school-boys and nothing more. Indeed, until
our advent, the monasteries monopolized the education of the country,
and to a great extent do so still. The real gradations are as follow:—

1. The Sheṅ or Shiṅ, that is Ṡrāmaṇeras or novices. These are properly
youths of at least fifteen years of age (but see p. 307); their hair is
cut off and yellow garments are put on for a time.

It should be noted that every male throughout Burma is required to enter
a monastery and become a novice for a portion of his life, if only for a
single Vassa. This is because the Buddha taught that every true Buddhist
ought to conform to his example and become a monk, although he wisely
abstained from imposing any irrevocable vows. The whole process is often
merely formal, and sometimes only lasts for seven days.

2. The Pyit-seṅ or Pyit-siṅ (sometimes pronounced Patzin) or full monks,
who have the title Pungī or Phungī (sometimes spelt Phungee or Phongie),
‘full of great glory,’ when they have been at least ten years members of
the order. They correspond to the Ṡramaṇas, and are by Europeans called
Talapoins (from their carrying fans of palm leaves). Their dress usually
consists of three pieces of yellow cotton cloth.

3. The Hsayā (always a Phungī) or Head of a separate monastery, who
corresponds to the Abbot of European countries.

4. The Gaiṇ-ok or provincial Head, who has a kind of episcopal
jurisdiction over all the monasteries of a district.

5. The Thāthanā-paing (Thāthanā = Sanskṛit Ṡāsanā) or supreme rulers,
who correspond to Archbishops. They superintend all religious affairs.
According to Mr. Scott, there are now eight of them.

Occasionally instances occur of hermit-monks who lead solitary lives,
and sit motionless in meditation for years.

In Siam the gradations of monkhood are nearly similar to those in Burma,
and we learn from Mr. Alabaster that the monastic vow is not binding for
life, but can be cancelled at any time. This rule leads to every Siamese
man spending at least three months of his life in a monastery.

We have now to pass from Ceylon, Burma, and Siam to Tibet (properly
called Bod or Bot or Bhot, Sanskṛit Bhoṭa). And here we leave the
simpler forms of Buddhism and are brought face to face with that highly
developed system which, though nominally resulting from an expansion of
the Hīna-yāna, ‘Little Method,’ into the Mahā-yāna, ‘Great Method’ (p.
158), was really the product of a still further expansion of the ‘Great
Method’ and its combination with other creeds.

In truth, Tibetan Buddhism is so different from every other Buddhistic
system that it ought to be treated of separately in a separate volume,
as Koeppen has done. In his elaborate and excellent work on this subject
he has remarked that for the development of a hierarchy no circumstance
is more favourable than isolation, and that this advantage was offered
in the highest degree by Tibet. Up to the moment of its conversion to
Buddhism a profound darkness had rested on it. The inhabitants were
ignorant and uncultivated, and their indigenous religion, sometimes
called Bon, consisted chiefly of magic based on a kind of Shamanism.

To describe exactly what Shamanism is would be no easy task. The word is
said to be of Tungusic origin[120], and to be used as a name for the
earliest religion of Mongolia, Siberia, and other Northern countries.

Perhaps we shall not be far wrong in asserting that the two principal
constituents of Shamanism are the worship of nature and the dread of

The inhabitants of Tibet and Mongolia and indeed of other Northern
countries believed that spirits, good and bad, influenced the whole
course of nature. They held that such spirits were able either to cause
or to avert diseases and disasters, to control the destinies of men, and
even to decide the fate of the lower animals. Hence it is easy to
understand that the chief function of the Shamans, or wizard-priests,
was to exorcise evil demons, or to propitiate them by sacrifices and
various magical practices. In this way they pretended to prevent storms,
pestilences, and other calamities. They were supposed, too, to
understand omens and to predict the future by watching the flights of
birds, by examining the shoulder-blades of sheep, and by similar
devices. Shamanism, in fact, with its Tibetan offshoot, Bon, had much in
common with the lowest types of Ṡaivism, Ṡāktism, and Tāntrism, with
which the Buddhism of Northern India, Nepāl, and the countries bordering
on Tibet, had already become adulterated.

When, therefore, this mixed form of Buddhism advanced from those
countries into Tibet, its approach was not resisted as an intrusion. On
the contrary, Tibetan Shamanism, although it had possession of the
field, was quite ready to meet the new religion halfway. The result was
an alliance, or rather perhaps an amalgamation; and this led to the
establishment of a complex religious system which I have ventured to
call Lāmism[121].

Lāmism, then, is a form of Buddhism which, although based on the
Hīna-yāna and Mahā-yāna of India, is combined with Shamanism,
Ṡiva-worship, and magic, and has a marked individuality and a peculiar
hierarchical organization of its own. This organization has been
compared to that of the Roman Catholic Church. Doubtless in its great
receptivity Buddhism may have borrowed from Christianity, but Lāmism
possesses certain unique features which distinguish it from every other
system in the world.

Unfortunately few Europeans have, as yet, penetrated into Tibet, and its
sacred literature has been little studied. It follows therefore that the
various gradations of the Tibetan hierarchy are not easily described,
and only a general idea of them can be given.

We ought first to note the boy-pupil called Genyen, sometimes spoken of
as Bandi or Bante (= Bandya[122], a term more properly applicable to
monks). Boy-pupils are inmates of every Tibetan monastery; but under
exceptional circumstances a pupil may live with his parents. He may be
received after seven years of age, and until fifteen, as in Burma (p.
259). He is placed under a full monk, who teaches him and makes him
promise to keep the five chief commandments (p. 126). Though sometimes
called a novice he is merely under education, and not necessarily a
candidate for the monkhood. The real degrees of the Lāmistic hierarchy,
as explained by Koeppen and others, are as follow:—

1. First and lowest in rank comes the novice or junior monk, called
Gethsul (Getzul), who has been admitted after fifteen years of age to
the first stage of monkhood by a Khanpo Lāma or his representative. His
hair is cut off and he wears the monkish garments, and has 112 rules to
observe. He waits on the full monk, and assists in all functions except
blessing and consecrating. He has been compared to the deacon of the
European ecclesiastical system, but the comparison is misleading, as
shown at p. 76.

2. Secondly and higher in rank we have the full monk, called Gelong (or
Geloṅ). He corresponds to the Bhikshu, who has received complete
consecration, and is often called by courtesy a Lāma (see note, p. 262),
though he has no real right to that title. He is not properly a priest,
yet it is certain that in Tibet he often discharges sacerdotal
functions. The ceremony of admission to the full monkhood can only be
performed after the twentieth year, and binds the recipient to 253 rules
of discipline[123].

3. Thirdly we have the _superior Gelong_ or Khanpo (strictly mKhan po),
who has a real right to the further title Lāma, and from his higher
knowledge and sanctity sometimes becomes a kind of head-teacher
(Sanskṛit Upādhyāya or Āćārya). As the chief monk in a monastery he may
be compared to the European Abbot; but in respect of consecration he is
only a Gelong. Nor are any of the higher grades of monks—so far as the
forms of consecration are concerned—higher than Gelongs and Khanpos.

At this point, however, we have to note the special peculiarity of the
Lāmistic system, namely, that some of the higher Khanpo Lāmas are
supposed to be living re-incarnations or re-embodiments of certain
canonized saints and Bodhi-sattvas who differ in rank. These are called
Avatāra Lāmas (see p. 190), and of such there are three degrees, which
we may denote by the letters A. B. C. as follow:—

A. The lowest degree of Avatāra Lāma. He may be called an ordinary
Khubilghan (from a Mongolian word—written by Huc, Hubilghan). He
represents the continuous re-embodiment of an ordinary canonized saint
(p. 188), or founder of some great monastery. He is higher by one degree
than the Khanpo Abbot, as presiding over a more important monastery.

B. A higher grade of Avatāra Lāma called Khutuktu. He exercises a kind
of episcopal jurisdiction over a still more important monastery than
that presided over by the ordinary incarnated Lāma. He represents the
incarnation of a higher Bodhi-sattva or deified saint, but he sometimes
claims to be an incarnated Buddha.

C. The highest Avatāra Lāma commonly called a Supreme or Grand Lāma. He
is not an incarnation of a mere ordinary Bodhi-sattva (p. 188), but a
continuous re-embodiment of either a supreme Buddha or of his
Bodhi-sattva. The two notable examples of this highest degree are the
Dalai and Panchen Lāmas, who claim an authority, like that of a Pope or
Archbishop, over extensive regions outside their own monasteries. They
will be more fully described in the sequel (see p. 284).

It may be stated generally, therefore, that the Lāmistic hierarchy
consists of three lower and three higher grades. We have, besides, to
reckon certain other distinctions of rank, such as those of the
Rab-jampa, ‘doctor of theology or philosophy,’ the Ćhorje (strictly
Ćhos-rje), ‘lord of the faith.’ These are sometimes associated with the
Khanpo or Abbot, though slightly inferior in rank to that dignitary. It
is said that the Ćhorje often acts as a kind of coadjutor Abbot.
Practically they rank below the incarnated or Avatāra Lāmas. Moreover,
in every monastery there are numerous other subordinate officials; for
example, schoolmasters, teachers who explain the Law and guide the
studies of the brotherhood, precentors or choirmasters, secretaries,
collectors of revenue, treasurers, stewards, overseers, physicians,
painters, sculptors, manufacturers of relics, of amulets, of rosaries,
of images, and in some monasteries-especially those of the Red
sect—astrologers, fortune-tellers, magicians (Ćhos-kyong or Ćhos-kyoṅ),
and exorcists. The Lāma is not only the priest; he is the educator,
schoolmaster, physician, astrologer, architect, sculptor, painter; he is
‘the head, the heart, the oracle of the laity.’

There is also a whole class of mendicant Lāmas, who have vowed to live a
vagabond life for a certain number of years. They are better known than
some others, for they often find their way into British territory.

When I was staying at Dārjīling, I encountered two specimens of the
vagabond class who came from some distant part of Tibet. They called
themselves Lāmas, though, of course, they had no real right to that
title. They were clothed in ragged garments made up of thirty-two
patches of different cloths, and wore thick buskins to protect them from
the snows. Then they carried a kind of knapsack or wallet of goat-skin
behind their backs, and in their hands a sort of sacred drum or tabour
called ḍamaru (see p. 384).

According to M. Huc, these vagabond Lāmas travel for the sake of
travelling. They wander through China, Manchuria, Southern Mongolia,
Kuku Nūr, Tibet, Northern India, and even Turkestān.

There is scarcely a river which they have not crossed; a mountain which
they have not ascended; a Grand Lāma before whom they have not
prostrated themselves; a people among whom they have not lived, and of
whom they do not know the manners and language.

It should be noted that when an incarnated Lāma is the spiritual Head of
a monastery there is generally a temporal Head to manage its affairs.

Then we must not forget that Tibetan Buddhism has also its organized
female hierarchy, on the highest steps of which are female Khutuktus and
incarnated Abbesses, as well as lower gradations of nuns and novices,
living together in their own convents.

The rules of discipline for the whole Lāmistic hierarchy fill at least
thirteen out of the 108 volumes of the Tibetan Canon (see p. 272). They
do not differ materially from those of other Buddhist countries. The 253
rules of the Pratimoksha-sūtra (see p. 62) are said to contain commands
and prohibitions relating to five sides of the monastic life—conduct,
dress, food, habitation, and occupation.

It must be borne in mind that early Lāmism, like true Buddhism, had
properly no secular priesthood and encouraged no intercourse with the
outer world, except for the reception of alms and food from the laity.
All grades of the hierarchy were supposed to live together as one
celibate fraternity in monastic seclusion, apart from mundane
associations. Their only duties were to meditate, recite the Law, and
obey certain strict rules of discipline. This strictness of discipline,
however, was not long borne with equal patience by the whole fraternity.
It soon became irksome to a large section, and the same state of things
which arose in early Buddhism and generally arises in all religious
communities, occurred in Lāmism. The fraternity of Lāmas became split up
into two chief parties or sects—the strict and the lax. We shall see in
the end that these two sects were distinguished from each other by the
colour of their garments, and especially of their caps, the former
adopting yellow and calling themselves Gelug pa or Galdan pa, the latter
adopting red (Shamār). Of course the lax or Red-cap sect soon infringed
the rule in regard to celibacy, and allowed the marriage of monks under
certain conditions, though such marriages seem at first to have been

It is said, indeed, that in Nepāl, under modern Gorkha rule, the
celibate occupies a lower position than the married monk, to whom the
services in the temples are committed. It is said, too, that the Lāmas
of Sikkim and other northern countries constantly have children living
with them, though they do not admit them to be their own (p. 152). Yet,
for all that, celibacy is the rule, and nominally, at any rate, the
great majority of Lāmistic monks in Eastern Asia are unmarried
cœnobites, who live together in monasteries.

Certainly in no other country in the world are monasteries so numerous
or on so vast a scale as in Tibet and Mongolia (see p. 426).

And, indeed, in all probability it was the difficulty of enforcing
discipline and order in these immense establishments, without some
method of securing obedience to a presiding Head acceptable to all the
inmates, that led to that strange re-incarnation or ‘Avatāra’ theory
which is one chief distinguishing feature of Lāmism.

The process by which this remarkable theory was developed is so
interesting and so important in relation to the subject of the present
Lecture that it deserves careful investigation, and to clear the ground
we must here make a brief digression and advert to some circumstances in
the early history of Tibet and Mongolia, as given in Koeppen’s laborious

We learn from him that Nya Khri Tsanpo, who lived in the Yarlung valley,
was the first king of Tibet. After several successors came Srong Tsan
Gampo. This king was born in 617, and, according to a legend, exhibited
at his birth certain marks of perfection like those of Amitābha or
Avalokiteṡvara (p. 198). He is worshipped as a great Conqueror and

In the year 632, or about the time when Muhammad died in Arabia, he
began the work of civilizing his subjects. To this end he directed his
minister Thumi (or Thonmi) Sambhoṭa to proceed to India, and make
himself acquainted with Buddhist writings. This great man was the first
to design the Tibetan alphabet on the model of the Indian letters then
in use (called Lañćha), but rejecting certain consonants and certain
vowels as unsuitable for the representation of Tibetan sounds, and
adding six new letters. Hence he was the first to introduce the art of
writing along with Buddhism into Tibet.

It may be noted here that Buddhism, to its great credit, has generally
given some sort of literary education to the barbarous nations to which
it has imparted its own doctrines. It has also made the vernacular of
the people its medium of instruction, though it has not always
translated its sacred literature or ritualistic formularies into that

The first Tibetan author was Thumi Sambhoṭa himself, who is said to have
composed a grammar and other books during his sojourn in India. An
important work translated by him into the vernacular was the Maṇi
Kambum—a Tantra work, alleged to have been revealed by Amitābha and his
son Avalokiteṡvara. This book describes the introduction of Buddhism
into Tibet as well as the origin of the well-known six-syllabled
prayer-formula of Tibet—Om maṇi padme Hūm (see pp. 371-374). It contains
100,000 precepts.

The teaching of Thumi Sambhoṭa seems to have been of an orthodox
character. He may perhaps be regarded as the founder of the strict
school of Tibetan Buddhism (already mentioned), which was afterwards
called Kadampa, and finally developed into the Yellow-robed sect, as
distinguished from the Red. After Thumi Sambhoṭa the propagation of
Buddhism in Tibet was chiefly carried on by the two princesses, wives of
King Srong Tsan Gampo, called Dolkar and Doljang. They were worshipped
under the name Dolma, as forms of the wife of Ṡiva or of the goddess
Tārā; one being called the white mother, and the other, the dark;
representing the mild and fierce forms of Ṡiva’s consort[124].

The first two Lāma monasteries in Tibet (called Lā brang and Ra mo che,
founded about A.D. 650; Edgar, p. 38) were erected at Lhāssa[125] by
them or in their honour, and each monastery contained a renowned
wonder-working image, which each princess had brought with her (see pp.
440, 441, 492).

After King Srong Tsan Gampo, Buddhism declined in Tibet. One of his
successors, named Khri Srong De Tsan, who was born in 728 A.D. and
reigned from 740 to 786, tried to restore it. For this purpose, he sent
for religious teachers in great numbers from India. These seem to have
brought with them a very corrupt form of Buddhism, which aimed chiefly
at counteracting the evil influences of demons by magical spells.

First came Ṡānta Rakshita, with twelve companions from Bengal.

Then the celebrated Padma-sambhava was sent for out of the land of
Udyāna (= Dardistān)—west of the Indus, north of Peshawar—where the
people were addicted to Ṡaivism and witchcraft. It was under him that
the great monastery at Sam ye (strictly Sam yas) was built (see p. 448).
He was celebrated for his skill in magic, sorcery, and alchemy, and
became the real founder of the Red sect, after instructing several young
Tibetans in his own lore. At the same time he was remarkable for his
knowledge of Indian languages, and was active in promoting a taste for
literature in Tibet. It redounds much to his credit that he was the
first to further the translation of the whole Buddhist Canon (almost
entirely from Sanskṛit books) into Tibetan.

But the sacred books had by that time greatly increased, so that the
Tibetan Canon commonly called Kanjur (or more strictly Kangyur and
Ka-gyur, pp. 70, 267) consisted of at least 108 volumes.

Then we have the Tanjur (Tangyur) consisting of 225 folio volumes of
translations, commentaries, and treatises, corresponding to the
Aṭṭha-kathā of Ceylon (p. 65), and embracing works on all subjects
(often mere translations from the Sanskṛit), such as grammar, logic,
rhetoric, poetry, medicine, astrology, alchemy, magic, and the use of

A sect called Urgyanpa (or Urgyenpa), another called Brugpa (or Dugpa or
Dukpa), another called Sakyapa—all belonging to the Red-clothed (in
Tibetan, Shamār) Lāmas who are numerous in Nepāl, Bhutān, Sikkim, Ladāk,
and in portions of Southern Tibet—follow the rules of Padma-sambhava.

After Khri Srong De Tsan came a number of kings who caused Buddhism to
decline; but in the second half of the eleventh century it began to
recover, and learned men were sent for from Kashmir and India, one of
whom was Atīsha (strictly Atīṡa), who might be called the re-founder of

He had an eminent Tibetan pupil named Brom Ton (Brom-sTon or Brom
Bakshi[126]). All violent opposition to Buddhism then ceased. Monastery
after monastery was founded in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

Three of the most important were (1) Raseng (or Ra-deng, strictly Ra
sGreng), north-east of Lhāssa, founded by Brom Ton in 1058; (2) Sakya
(see p. 448), situated in the district of Tsang, south-west of Shigatse,
and founded by Koncho Yalpo, whose son was the first Grand Lāma of this
monastery; (3) Brikhung (also written Brikuṅ or Briguṅ or Brigung), four
days’ journey north of Lhāssa, founded by Koncho Yalpo’s son.

Atīsha belonged to a school which did not favour Ṡaivism and sorcery in
the way that Padma-sambhava had done, and his pupil, Brom Ton of the
Raseng monastery, was the founder of the sect called Kadampa[127], which
enforced great strictness of monastic life—a sect which, as we have
already mentioned, had its earliest origin in the teaching of Thumi
Sambhoṭa, and whose tenets were adopted by the celebrated reformer Tsong
Khapa (p. 277), the real founder of the Yellow sect.

On the other hand, the monks of the Sakya monastery belonged to the more
lax school, and were therefore followers of Padma-sambhava. No doubt
these two chief monasteries of Raseng and Sakya maintained at first
their own separate independence, the presiding Lāma of each claiming
equal authority with the other. Then in process of time, a rivalry
sprang up between them. Moreover the Brikhung monastery strove with the
Sakya, each trying to acquire predominance. Ultimately they appealed to
the Chinese authorities, who decided that the highest position belonged
to the monastery of Sakya and to the Red sect.

And here we have to turn for a short time to Mongolia. That country
received its Buddhism, or rather Lāmism, from Tibet. It is well known
that the great Mongol conqueror, Jenghiz Khān, conquered Tibet about
A.D. 1206[128]. Before that period the Mongolians had come in contact
with various religious cults; for example, with Zoroastrianism,
Buddhism, and Islām.

They had even had some experience of Christianity; for Nestorian
Missions existed in Central Asia in the fifth and sixth centuries of our
era, and penetrated to China in the seventh century. All these religions
strove to convert the Mongolians, who soon became an important nation
through the conquests of Jenghiz Khān. That conqueror, however, had a
very simple religion of his own. He believed in one God in heaven, and
one king on earth; that is, he believed that God had given him the
dominion of the whole world, and he set himself to conquer the world.
Yet he tolerated all religions. ‘As the hand,’ he said, ‘has many
fingers, so there are many ways to show men how they may reach heaven.’

Khubilai (1259-1294), the greatest of all the descendants of Jenghiz and
Sovereign of a vast empire, was the first to elevate his people above a
mere life of rapine and plunder; and it struck him that the best method
of civilizing them would be by adopting and promoting Buddhism, which
the greater number of the races subject to him already professed.

Between the indigenous Shamanism of Northern countries and the doctrines
of Confucius, or of Islām, or of Christianity, there were no points of
contact; whereas Shamanism, as we have seen, had much common ground with
Northern Buddhism, which had become mixed up with Ṡaivism and magic.

It was this that led Khubilai to adopt the Lāmistic or Tibetan form of
Buddhism. He also thought it wise to conciliate the spiritual potentates
of Tibet, who had for many centuries taken all real power out of the
hands of their temporal chiefs.

And among Lāmistic prelates, the Head of the Monastery of Sakya and of
the Red school in Southern Tibet had, as we have seen, acquired a kind
of sovereignty. Many monks of this Red sect married, according to the
practice of the Brāhmans, and remained householders till a son and heir
was born to them. At that time they had a presiding monk, called Sakya
Paṇḍita, and the Emperor Khubilai appointed Mati-dhvaja, the Paṇḍita’s
nephew, to succeed him as Head of the monastery, conferring on him a
certain amount of temporal power and making him a kind of tributary
ruler of Tibet. He was known as the Phaspa (strictly Phags pa),
‘excellent Lāma,’ and in return for the supremacy granted to him, was
required to consecrate or crown the emperors of Mongolia.

Koeppen observes that Khubilai was thus the creator of the first
Lāmistic Pope; just as Pepin and Charlemagne were of the first Christian

The Mongolians also owe their written character and literature to
Buddhism. It was Phaspa Lāma who invented the Mongolian alphabet. Taking
the Tibetan alphabet as his model, he invented a square character with a
thousand syllables. He then undertook a new revision of the Buddhist
sacred writings, causing the Tibetan sacred texts (Kanjur) to be
compared with the Chinese. It is said that this lasted from the year
1285 to 1306.

Twenty-nine learned men, versed in the Tibetan, Ugrian, Chinese, and
Sanskṛit languages, were occupied on the task of collation, and a few
years later, the first Mongolian translation of the sacred texts was
begun by the Sakya Lāma Ćhoskyi Odser.

Khubilai, no doubt, was a great promoter of Buddhism, and founded many
monasteries in Mongolia, and a celebrated one at Peking.

After the elevation of the Phaspa Lāma to quasi-temporal as well as
spiritual sovereignty very little is known about the state of Buddhism
in Tibet, except that the successive Heads of the Sakya monastery
maintained their position under Khubilai’s successors, and of course
perpetuated and extended the doctrines of the Red school of Buddhism.
Probably they resided at Lhāssa, and possibly at the Mongolo-Chinese

In 1368, the last Mongol emperor was expelled by the founder of the Ming
dynasty, after Jenghiz’s family had occupied the throne of China for
about a century.

The emperors of this dynasty did their best to bring Tibet under the
Chinese Government, and to conciliate the Tibetan Lāmas by gifts,
titles, and other favours. But they thought it politic to prevent the
predominance of any one monastery. Hence they made three other Heads of
monasteries equal in rank to the Sakya Lāma, and encouraged antagonism
between them. This facilitated the great Reform which Lāmism underwent
in the time of the Emperor Jong lo—a reform brought about by the
celebrated Tsong Khapa, sometimes called the Luther of Lāmistic

Tsong Khapa, whose name is as much celebrated in Mongolia and Tibet and
among the Kalmuk Tartars as that of the founder of Buddhism, is said to
have been born in the year 1355 or 1357 of our era, in the land of Amdo,
where the celebrated monastery of Kunbum or Kumbum—situated North of
Tibet on the borders of China—now stands. All sorts of legends, but none
worth repeating, are related about him. We may note, however, a probable
tradition that a learned Lāma, ‘with a long nose and bright eyes,’ who
had settled in the land of Amdo, and may possibly have been a Roman
Catholic priest, became his teacher.

In process of time, Tsong Khapa set out on a journey from Amdo to Tibet,
his object being to acquire a knowledge of the doctrine from original
sources. He is said to have studied the Law of Buddha at Sakya,
Brikhung, and Lhāssa. It was in this way that he became impressed with
the necessity of purifying and reforming the discipline of Tibetan
Buddhism, which the Red sect had corrupted by allowing the marriage of
monks and by laxity in other matters. Innumerable pupils gathered round
him, all of whom adopted, as their distinguishing mark, the orthodox
yellow garments of primitive Buddhism, and especially the yellow cap (p.
268); while the followers of Padma-sambhava and the more corrupt school
wore red garments and a red cap.

Tsong Khapa soon acquired vast influence, and in the year 1409 was able
to build on a hill about thirty miles from Lhāssa, the afterwards
celebrated monastery called Galdan (or Gahdan) of the Yellow school. Of
this Tsong Khapa was the first Abbot. His followers, however, rapidly
became too numerous to be comprehended within so limited an area. Hence
there arose in the immediate neighbourhood of Lhāssa, two other great
monasteries, Brepung (also written Dapung, etc., see p. 442), founded by
Jam-yang Ćhos-rje, and Sera ‘the Golden,’ founded by Byam Ćhen Ćhos-rje.

These three monasteries once held 30,000 monks of the Yellow sect, but
now have only 16,500.

Tsong Khapa wrote many works, which enjoy a quasi-canonical authority
among the adherents of the reformed sect. Many of them exist in
Mongolian translations, but they have not yet been fully examined.

Undeniably, Tsong Khapa’s chief merit was that he caused his followers
to revert to the purer monastic discipline, especially to the rule of
celibacy. He also purified the forms of worship, and greatly restricted
without altogether prohibiting the use of magical rites. Tsong Khapa,
too, is said to have re-established the original practice of retirement
for religious meditation at certain seasons, although as there was no
rainy season in Tibet, another period had to be chosen.

Travellers in Tibet have often described the many points of resemblance
between the Roman Catholic and Lāmistic systems, such as the Popedom,
the celibacy of the priesthood, the worship of saints, confession,
fasting, processions, holy water, bells, rosaries, mitres, croziers,
etc. These resemblances and coincidences will be more fully noted in a
subsequent Lecture (see pp. 338, 339).

It is possible that Tsong Khapa may have imbibed some of his notions
from his instructor at Amdo already named (p. 277), who was either a
Roman Catholic missionary, or was familiar with the constitution of the
Romish hierarchy. On the other hand, it is certain that celibacy,
confession, and fasting existed in Buddhism before the teaching of
Christ, and long before that of Tsong Khapa.

In fact, Tsong Khapa’s reformation had been to a certain extent
anticipated, as we have seen, by the school of Kadampa, founded in the
eleventh century, by Atīsha’s disciple, Brom Ton (p. 273).

Very little more is known about Tsong Khapa. He died in the year 1419,
or, as his disciples believe, ascended to heaven, and that ascension is
still celebrated during the festival of Lamps by all orthodox Buddhists
of the Lāmistic Church (see pp. 345, 346).

When some time after his death, he was canonized, he was regarded by
some as an incarnation of Amitābha, or by others of Mañju-ṡrī, or by
others of Vajra-pāṇi (see p. 195), or even of the Mahā-kāla form of
Ṡiva, and his image is generally found in the temples of the Yellow
sect, and often between the two images of the Dalai Lāma and the Panchen
Lāma, on the right and left respectively.

His followers of the Yellow school called themselves Gelugpa (or
Gelukpa), ‘adherents of virtue’ (or, Gal-danpa from their monastery);
their principal characteristic being that they adhered to the purer

The chief point of interest in connexion with Tsong Khapa is the bearing
of his reformation on the development of the Avatāra theory already
mentioned (see pp. 190, 265).

It is said that Tsong Khapa himself, like Gautama Buddha, had two chief
pupils, and that he appointed these two to succeed him with equal
authority as Heads of the orthodox sect. He is also credited with having
been the first to promulgate the doctrine that no election of successors
to his two pupils would at any time be needed, as each of them on dying
would be constantly re-born in a supernatural manner.

There is, however, no historical foundation for such a statement.
Indeed, according to the opinion of some, the two Grand Lāmas were
merely the lineal successors of the two eminent Lāmas, Atīsha and his
pupil Brom Ton (see p. 273).

After all, it seems most likely that the whole Avatāra theory was an
invention of some shrewd Head Lāma, who, perceiving that the strict
enforcement of celibacy would prevent any hereditary succession, like
that possible in monasteries of the Red school, and foreseeing that it
would be necessary to prevent the suicidal divisions to which the
intrigues of an election to the Headship of monasteries—especially of
Grand Lāma monasteries—would be likely to give rise, bethought himself
of a compromise between hereditary succession and election. After more
than one trial, the system was found to work so well that it was
eventually adopted with little modification by all Northern Buddhists,
and even by those of the Red sect.

The date of its invention is as uncertain as the name of the inventor.
All that can be said is, that it cannot be traced back to an earlier
period than the fifteenth century.

And here we must again guard against the confusion of thought likely to
arise from the usual practice of translating Avatāra by ‘incarnation.’

We have seen that the doctrine of transmigration (gati) through various
embodiments, as applicable to all beings, is a fundamental dogma both of
Brāhmanism and of Buddhism, though in Buddhism transmigration properly
means a mere continuous transformation and reconstruction of the
elements (Skandhas) of being (p. 109).

The idea is very dimly, if at all, adumbrated in the Mantra portion of
the Veda.

It is more clearly traceable in one of the Brāhmaṇas, and distinctly
enunciated in the Ćhāndogya Upanishad (V. x. 7) thus:—‘He whose conduct
has been good, quickly attains to some good embodiment as a Brāhman,
Kshatriya, or Vaiṡya. He whose conduct has been bad, assumes an inferior
embodiment, as a dog, a hog, or a Ćaṇḍāla.’ In Manu the theory is fully

Now it is true that in Buddhism this kind of transmigration may be
described as a continuous series of incarnations, although genuine
Buddhism denies the separate existence of a soul between each
incarnation (see p. 110).

But the doctrine of repeated incarnations of one individual in six forms
of life is quite distinct from the Tibetan Avatāra theory. This theory
not only recognizes the separate existence of an immaterial essence or
soul, but also teaches that the Head Lāma of certain monasteries is the
living, visible embodiment, for the time being, of the continuous
descent (avatāra) on earth of a portion of the essence of the canonized
Founder of a monastery or of a celestial Bodhi-sattva or Buddha, who
will perpetually continue to descend from heaven and re-appear in human
forms for the welfare of the world (see p. 109)[129].

A similar idea, we know, prevails in India, where the doctrine of the
descent (avatāra) of portions of the essence of Vishṇu and other gods is
common. There is, however, a noteworthy distinction in the Hindū
doctrine, because the descents of Vishṇu are not continuous and
uninterrupted (see ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ pp. 47, 107-116); and
although every great Hindū teacher is supposed to be the embodiment of a
portion of the essence of a deity, each such embodiment is isolated and

And here note that one theory is that the continuous descents of
Bodhi-sattvas and Buddhas into human forms were effected by means of
their third changeable body (Nirmāṇa-kāya, p. 247), which belonged to
Bodhi-sattvas as well as to Buddhas; or, according to another theory,
through rays of light proceeding from the essences of the Bodhi-sattvas,
just as the Bodhi-sattvas themselves were held by some to have been
generated by rays of light proceeding from the Dhyāni-Buddhas.

Or again, the Dhyāni-Buddhas might incarnate themselves not only
intermediately through their Dhyāni-Bodhi-sattvas, but by the
transmission of rays of light directly from their own essences into a
continuous succession of human beings of pre-eminent sanctity.

Hence it is clear that the Avatāra Lāma is no example of the working of
either Hindū metempsychosis or of Buddhist metamorphosis. And indeed,
re-birth, through transmigration and transformation, according to the
ordinary Hindū and Buddhist theories, is regarded as a kind of natural
act, whereas continuous incarnation through the descent of a portion of
a celestial essence into human bodies is a supernatural act.

Of course, as we have stated, there were lower and higher Avatāras,
corresponding to the difference in rank of Saints and Bodhi-sattvas (see
pp. 190, 265).

Examples of the highest Avatāras are the two quasi-Popes, or spiritual
Kings, who are supreme Lāmas of the Yellow sect—the one residing at
Lhāssa, and the other at Tashi Lunpo (Krashi Lunpo), about 100 miles
distant, in a south-westerly direction, not far from the town of
Shigatse (or Shigatze, capital of the province of Tsang), and not very
far from our Indian frontier.

The Grand Lāma at Lhāssa is the Dalai Lāma, that is, ‘the Ocean-Lāma, or
one whose power and learning are as great as the ocean;’ a half
Mongolian half Tibetan title—Dalai (or Tale) meaning in Mongolian
‘Ocean,’ and Lāma meaning in Tibetan ‘a superior Teacher’ (see note, p.
262). He has also the Tibetan title of rGyamthso Rinpoche (Rin-po-će),
‘Ocean-Jewel’ (the Tibetan equivalent for Dalai being rGyamthso).

The other Grand Lāma who resides in the monastery of Tashi Lunpo, is
known in Europe under the names of the Tashi Lāma (sometimes written
Teshu Lāma) or Panchen Lāma (called in Mongolian Bogdo Lāma). He has the
Tibetan title of Panchen Rinpoche (Pañ-ćen Rin-po-će), ‘the great Paṇḍit
Jewel’ (Pan being equivalent to Paṇḍita, and chen meaning great).

Hence Tashi Lunpo is the second metropolis of Lāmism (see p. 443). It is
said to have been built by Gedun grub pa, the chief pupil of the
Reformer Tsong Khapa, in 1445 (see p. 291).

Neither of these Grand Lāmas are Popes in the European sense, for
neither are elected by a conclave of chief Lāmas.

The belief is that when they quit their bodies at death, they re-appear
after nine months, or occasionally after the second or third year, in
children whose bodies they have occupied from conception.

The Dalai Lāmas are held to be continuous re-incarnations of the
Dhyāni-Bodhisattva Avalokiteṡvara (p. 197), while the Panchen Lāmas are
continuous re-incarnations of his father the Dhyāni-Buddha Amitābha (p.

Hence, as the father is superior to the son, and the master to the
pupil, the Panchen Lāma at Tashi Lunpo might reasonably have ranked
above the Dalai Lāma at Lhāssa. But, as Avalokiteṡvara is the special
patron of the Lāmistic Church in Tibet, his incarnation at Lhāssa is
practically a more important personage than the incarnated Dhyāni-Buddha
at Tashi Lunpo. Some hold that the Panchen Lāma is only a re-incarnation
of Tsong Khapa, who was identified with Mañju-ṡrī.

It is said that the Dalai Lāma exercises secular authority over about
four millions of people, including monks; although in the present day
political power has to a great extent been taken from him by the Chinese
Government, which has two permanent Commissioners or Residents (called
Ampas) at Lhāssa, and sometimes sends a special Envoy (Kin-Tche)[130].

The real fact is, that since mere children, who are too young to have
received any education, are elevated to the Grand Lāmaship, and most of
them either die naturally or are made to die before they have gained any
knowledge, the re-incarnated Lāmas are generally unfit to govern, and in
monasteries which have an Avatāra Grand Lāma, an elected chief Lāma acts
as regent or administrator of affairs, while the incarnated Buddha is
supposed to lose himself in sublime heights of meditation and receive
divine homage[131]. This elected Regent also governs during the
intervals of the incarnations, and at Lhāssa he is the real Head and
most powerful Tibetan official. He is called Nomun-khan or Nomin-khan
(or No min han).

The manner in which the Avatāra doctrine is carried into practice has
varied at different times.

It is alleged that formerly the departing Lāma, before he transferred
himself to another body, was in the habit of revealing where and in what
family he would be re-incarnated. Or occasionally it happened that
children of two or three years of age called out suddenly, as if
impelled by some spiritual influence, ‘I am a living Buddha, I am the
chief Lāma of such and such a monastery.’

Or more commonly the sacred books were consulted; or the official
soothsayers gave their opinion.

But the usual rule was that at the death of the Dalai Lāma the
interpretation of the traditions and oracles about his re-birth and the
duty of discovering the family in which he was to appear were committed
to the Panchen Lāma. When the Panchen Lāma himself died, the Dalai Grand
Lāma did the same service for him.

It was only natural that the holy land of Tibet, and especially the holy
city of Lhāssa, should have been most fruitful in re-incarnations, and
should even have supplied foreign countries with them.

When Messrs. Huc and Gabet were travelling in Mongolia they were about
to pass a certain Lāmistic convent without stopping, when a Lāma came
out and invited them to enter, that they might have an opportunity of
paying adoration to the saint enthroned within. ‘Our saint,’ he said,
‘is not a mere man. In our small convent we have the happiness to
possess a living Buddha! Two years ago he deigned to descend from the
holy mountains of Tibet, and he is now seven years old.’ These living
Buddhas, according to M. Huc, are very numerous. Sometimes a clever Lāma
builds a small temple and attracts a few disciples. Then by degrees his
reputation increases. Other Lāmas build their cells near the temple, and
bring it into fashion, and proclaim him to be a living Buddha.

It is said, indeed, that some spiritual Heads of the Hierarchy in Lhāssa
have contrived to instal their illegitimate children in the Headship of
distant Lāmaseries, so that occasionally the supposed living Buddha is
really the son of some Tibetan Grand Lāma.

In the present day the Emperor of China exercises so great an influence
in the nomination of both the Dalai and Panchen Lāmas, that the
co-operation of the Lāmistic priesthood has become little more than a
form. Still the form is gone through, and the following description
(chiefly resting on the authority of Koeppen and Huc) may give some idea
of the whole process.

When the Dalai Lāma dies, or rather when his soul—which consists of a
portion of the essence of Avalokiteṡvara—has cast off one body with the
object of entering another, the names of all the male children born at
the time of his death in Tibet have to be sent in to the great monastery
of Lā brang at Lhāssa, and those parents who have reason to suspect that
their children are re-incarnations, are obliged to notify the fact.

A true decision cannot be arrived at until three children have been
found, or rather (as is practically the case) until three candidates
have been set up for election who are accepted by the Chinese Government
or its representatives.

The first stage in the process of election is to write the names of
these three children on lots, and place them in a golden urn. Then the
Khutuktus assemble together in solemn conclave. For six days they remain
in retirement. During all that period they are supposed to fast and to
be engaged in repeating prayers. On the seventh day, the leading
Khutuktu draws a lot, and the infant or child whose name comes out is
proclaimed Dalai Lāma. The Panchen Lāma and the representatives of China
must be present at the time[132].

In a similar manner, the Panchen Lāmas, Khutuktus, and ordinary Avatāra
Lāmas are elected.

The Mongolian mode of election is thus described by M. Huc. (The
quotation is not literal, and is abridged.)

  The election and enthronization of the living Buddhas is extremely
  curious. When a Grand Lāma is ‘gone away,’ that is to say, is dead,
  the event is by no means made a matter of mourning in the convent.
  There are no tears or regrets, for every one knows that the living
  Buddha will soon re-appear. The apparent death is only the
  commencement of a new existence, a new link added to a boundless and
  uninterrupted chain of successive lives—a simple palingenesia. While
  the saint is in the chrysalis state, his disciples are in the greatest
  anxiety, and the grand point is to discover the place where their
  master has returned to life. If a rainbow appears, they consider it as
  a sign sent to them from their Grand Lāma, to assist them in their

  Every one then goes to prayers, and especially the convent which has
  been widowed of its Buddha is incessant in its fastings and orisons,
  and a troop of chosen Lāmas set out to consult the Churchun or diviner
  of hidden things. They relate to him the time, place, and
  circumstances under which the rainbow has appeared: and he then, after
  reciting some prayers, opens his books of divination, and at length
  pronounces his oracle; while the Tartars who have come to consult him,
  listen on their knees with the most profound devotion.

  ‘Your Grand Lāma,’ they say, ‘has returned to life in Tibet—at such a
  place—in such a family;’ and when the poor Mongols have heard the
  oracle, they return full of joy to their convent, to announce the
  happy news. Sometimes the living Buddha announces himself, at an age
  when other infants cannot articulate a word; but whether his place of
  abode be found by means of the rainbow, or by this spontaneous
  revelation, it is always at a considerable distance, and in a country
  difficult of access. A grand procession is then made, headed by the
  king, or the greatest man in the country, to fetch the young living
  Buddha. The Mongols often go through incredible fatigue and hardships,
  traverse frightful deserts, and sometimes, after being plundered by
  robbers, stripped of everything, and compelled to return, set out
  again with undiminished courage. When the living Buddha is found,
  however, he is not saluted Grand Lāma without a previous examination.
  Doubtless, the simple Mongols are in this matter often the dupes of
  those who have an interest in making a Grand Lāma of the baby. The
  title of the living Buddha having been confirmed, he is conducted in
  triumph to the monastery of which he is to become Grand Lāma; and as
  he passes along, the Tartars come in great troops and prostrate
  themselves before him, and bring him offerings. As soon as he arrives
  at the convent, he is placed on the altar, and every Tartar, from the
  highest to the lowest in the land, bows down before this child. There
  is no Tartar kingdom which does not possess one of these living
  Buddhas; but there is always another Grand Lāma, chosen among the
  members of the royal family, with whom the real government of the
  convent rests. The famous maxim ‘Le roi règne et ne gouverne pas’ has
  been of old application among the Tartars. [See note p. 306 of these

It should be noted that the Lāmistic community like to keep up the
fiction of these re-incarnations; and therefore they pretend to
ascertain the genuineness of every re-birth by clear signs. Hence before
a re-born saint is installed, his identity is established by his passing
a kind of examination before a solemn assembly, thousands of witnesses
being present.

Some of the books, clothes, and sacred or secular utensils which the
dead Lāma was in the habit of using, are brought and mixed with others.
The child is then asked to pick out the true ones, or he has to answer
questions as to the events in his previous state of existence. If the
replies are satisfactory, he is installed as the re-born Lāma amid great

Koeppen asserts that no positive information as to the relationship
between the Dalai and Panchen Lāmas is forthcoming. Some maintain that
both hierarchical systems developed simultaneously. Some say that the
Panchen Lāma of Tashi Lunpo was the first Grand Avatāra Lama, while
others hold that the elevation of the Panchen Lāmas took place later,
and only resulted from the increase in importance of the Tashi Lunpo
monastery in which they reside (p. 284).

The Dalai Lāmas may be enumerated as follow:—

The first is said to have been Gedun grub pa (otherwise pronounced Gedun
dubpa). Probably he was the nephew and chief pupil of the Reformer Tsong
Khapa. It was he who founded the monastery of Tashi Lunpo in 1445, and
he is by some therefore called the first Lāma of that monastery. His
birth is supposed to have occurred in 1391 or 1419, and his death in
1473 or 1476. Then he was born again after ten months as Gedun GyamThso
(or Gedun Yamtso), the second Grand Lāma, who is held by some to have
been the real founder of the Avatāra system of perpetual succession by
reincarnations. He filled the Dalai Lāma Chair from 1474 or 1476 to 1540
or 1542.

The third embodiment took place in 1543, and bore the name Sod nam
GyamThso (or Sod nam Yamtso), ‘sea of virtue.’ He was the first who
really took the half Mongolian title of Dalai Lāma. Moreover, he
laboured hard to spread Buddhism among the Mongolians, and founded the
first Great Lāma’s Chair in Mongolia.

In his fourth re-birth, the Dalai Lāma took the name of Yon Jan Yam
Thso, ‘ocean of merit,’ and lived up to his 14th year (until 1602) in
Mongolia, when he moved to Lhāssa.

The fifth Dalai Lāma was the great Navang Lobsang (strictly Ngag dBang
bLo bSang), ‘wise speaker or eloquent sage,’ who is the most celebrated
of all. According to some he was the first real Dalai Lāma, those who
preceded him being merely supreme Lāmas of the Yellow school. His career
lasted from 1617 to 1682. He was a kind of Lāmistic Innocent. But his
long minority led to political disturbances. In the end, Navang Lobsang
overcame all difficulties, and as a sign that the power of a king of
Tibet had been made over to him, built on one summit of the triple hill
Potala, where once the royal castle had stood, that palatial
monastery—that wonderful Lāmistic Vatican—in which he still resides in
his continual re-incarnations (see p. 330).

Indeed the successors of Tsong Khapa had good reason to be satisfied
with their position at that time. They had overshadowed the Red sect, or
reduced it to comparative unimportance. They had won over Mongolia,
which greatly aided them in their struggle for dominion. Monastery after
monastery arose there. The sacred books had been translated into the
Mongolian language, and thousands of Mongolians came every year with
rich presents to worship the re-born Lāmas at Lhāssa, or sent their sons
there for education.

When Navang Lobsang died, his death was concealed by the Regent, and
great intriguing followed. In the interregnum two Dalai Lāmas were
successively set up and deposed. These are not reckoned in the list of
legitimate Dalai Lāmas.

Then a child was chosen, who had all the signs of being called to the
Lāmaship. This was Lobsang Kalsang Yamthso; he is reckoned the sixth
Dalai Lāma. He died in 1758, after gaining some repute as a writer.

The seventh Dalai Lāma was Lobsang Jampal (or Champal) Yamthso, who is
believed to have died in either 1805 or 1808.

The next was Lungtog YamThso, who died a mere infant in 1815 or 1816. He
had three child-successors, who were all killed as minors by the acting
Regent. The last child was made away with in 1837.

If these three children are reckoned, Ge Mure YamThso must be regarded
as the eleventh Dalai Lāma. He died in 1855. The twelfth was born in
1856, and seems to have lived till 1874.

The discovery of the present Dalai Lāma is thus related by Sarat Chandra

  After the death of an incarnate Lāma, his soul is said ordinarily to
  remain in the spiritual world for a space (called Bardo) of at least
  forty-nine days. In 1875, one year after the demise of the late Dalai
  Lāma, Thinle Gya-tsho, the Regency and the College of Cardinals at
  Lhāssa consulted the celebrated oracle of Nachung Chhoskyong about the
  re-appearance of the Dalai. The oracle declared that the Grand Lāma
  could only be discovered by a monk of the purest morals. Accordingly
  the Shar-tse Khanpo of the Galdan monastery, who was well known for
  his virtuous character and his profound knowledge of the sacred books,
  proceeded to Chhoikhor Gya, where he sat in profound meditation for
  full seven days. On the night of the last day he saw a vision, in
  which a voice from heaven directed him to go and see a miraculous
  sight in the Ya-tsho lake of Chhoikhor Gya. Awaking from his sleep,
  the Khanpo went to the lake, where in the crystal-like water he saw
  the incarnate Grand Lāma sitting in the lap of his mother and caressed
  by his father. The house with its furniture was also visible. All on a
  sudden this mirage-like appearance disappeared, and he heard the
  neighing of a horse. So much of his dream being fulfilled, he
  proceeded on the horse to the province of Kong-po, and, on the way, he
  happened to call at the house of a rich and respectable family of the
  district of Tag-po. Here he recognized the house, the family, and the
  child he had seen in the lake, and at once declared that the real end
  of his journey was obtained. On his report the Government officials
  and the College of Cardinals, headed by the Regent, visited Tag-po and
  escorted the infant with its parents in great pomp to the palace of
  Rigyal near Lhāssa. The princely child was only one year old when he
  was discovered. He is now ten, and bears the name of Nag-wang Lo-ssang
  Thub-dan Gya-tsho, ‘the lord of speech, and powerful ocean of wisdom.’
  (This extract is abbreviated.)

A similar list of the Panchen Lāmas who have reigned at Tashi Lunpo has
not been given. When Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās was there in August, 1882,
the then Panchen Lāma died from grief (so it was said) because he had
not been allowed to consecrate the young Dalai Lāma, according to
previous custom.

The next important Lāma in great Tibet (after the Dalai and Panchen
Lāmas) is the Head Lāma or Khanpo of the monastery of Galdan
(Gahdan)—the oldest monastery of the Yellow sect, founded in the year
1409 by the reformer Tsong Khapa (see p. 278), who was the first Abbot.
It once had 8,000 inhabitants. The body of Tsong Khapa is said to be
there visible, preserved from corruption and miraculously poised in the
air. Prints of his hands and feet and his bed are also shown to pilgrims
(see p. 441).

But the Grand Lāma of the Yellow school who comes next in rank to the
Dalai and Panchen Lāmas is the Head of the monastery of Kurun (also
written Kuren) or Urga, in the land of the Khalkhas in Mongolia. His
perpetual re-incarnation began in the sixteenth century. He is generally
called by the Mongolians Maidari or Gegen Khutuktu, but his proper title
is Je Tsun Dampa (or Tampa) Tāranātha. A Tāranātha Lāma (born in 1575)
completed a work on Buddhism in the Tibetan language in 1608 (Markham’s
Tibet, xlviii).

There is also a celebrated Avatāra Lāma at Kuku khotun in Tartary who is
a perpetual re-incarnation of Mañju-ṡrī Khutuktu.

Indeed Mongolia is a kind of paradise in which the monks of Lāmism enjoy
perennial bliss, for the Mongolians are simpler and more full of faith
than the Tibetans.

Another Grand Lāma is the Dharma-rāja of Bhutān (p. 297), and another
Great Lāma is at Peking in China (see p. 299).

As to Ladāk (the capital of which is Le or Leh), this is the most
western part of Tibet that has adopted Lāmism. Aṡoka’s mission
penetrated to Ladāk, so that the whole land in king Kanishka’s time
(that is, in the first century) was Buddhistic. Moreover, the Buddhist
religion (both Red sect and Yellow) has maintained itself there until
now, while in the neighbouring countries of Kashmīr, Kafirstān, the
Panjāb, etc., it has been displaced by Brāhmanism, Islām, and Ṡāktism,
etc. We have little knowledge of the ancient history of Ladāk. It has a
large and ancient monastery at Lāma Yurru, near the Indus—in which is an
enormous image of the cloven-headed[133] Avalokiteṡvara—another at
Hemis, and another at Hanle. (See Cunningham’s ‘Ladāk,’ Mrs. Bridges’
‘Travels,’ and p. 433 of this volume.)

In Tangut, all round the blue lake (Kuku Nūr), Lāmistic Buddhism has
been the established religion since the end of the ninth century. It
seems to have taken a great start upwards in the succeeding four
centuries, for it was in the province of Amdo, as before mentioned (p.
277), that the great Reformer commenced his career. In the North-eastern
corner close to China is the Lāmasery of Kunbum (Kumbum), where Tsong
Khapa was born. When his reputation increased, Lāmas from all parts made
pilgrimages there. Sarat Chandra Dās states that it is inhabited by
9,000 Lāmas of the Yellow sect. Koeppen says that it has a University
with four Faculties, and an important printing-press, and that at the
head of it is an incarnated living Buddha. The Lāmas from Amdo are said
by Koeppen to be more highly-gifted, intelligent, learned, and religious
than the monks of other monasteries. They are intrusted in Lhāssa with
the most important offices, and are employed in the education of the
infant representatives of Buddha. Amdo is still almost a terra

Passing on to Nepāl—this country probably adopted Buddhism before the
beginning of the Christian era. It is said that Aṡoka’s missionaries
found their way there; but there is no proof that Buddhism really
flourished in Nepāl till the seventh century, and even then it never
existed except in conjunction with Brāhmanism. It is probable that
Buddhist monasteries and Brāhmanical temples always adjoined each other.
Indeed since the immigration of the Hindūs into Nepāl, and especially
since the invasion of the Gorkhas, there have always been two
nationalities, two languages, two literatures, two religions in contact
with each other.

In recent times Brāhmanism has gained the predominance as the
State-religion, and Buddhism has degenerated, though it is everywhere

It is a question whether the spiritual supremacy of the Tibetan Grand
Lāma has ever been acknowledged in Nepāl proper. But, according to some,
the Dalai Lāma formerly had a legate or representative in the largest
and oldest Buddhistic temple of Khatmandu—the temple of Svayambhu-nāth,
who is here at once Ādi-Buddha and Ṡiva. The Dalai Lāma also claimed the
ownership of this temple, which, he maintained, had been dependent on
him from the earliest times. But it is certain that, even if the Tibetan
Legate ever possessed the authority arrogated by him, he was compelled
by the Gorkhas to abandon his claims. Nevertheless the Tibetan tribes
now in Nepāl still adhere to Buddhism. The same may be said of the
Newars, who are the original possessors of the great valley of Nepāl.
They profess a kind of Buddhism, though they reject the Lāmas, and have
priests of their own, whom they call Bandya (see note p. 263).

With regard to Bhutān (capital town Punakha) it is said to have become
Buddhist about 350 years ago. Its spiritual ruler and incarnated saint
is called Dharma-rāja (or Lāma Rinpoche). He belongs to the Red-cap
school, and calls himself Chief of all the monks of the Dugpa sect. His
subordination to the Dalai Lāma is little more than nominal. The
temporal Governor is called Depa-rāja (Deb-rāja).

The following titles engraved on the Dharma-rāja’s seal of office will
give some idea of his pretensions:—

‘I am the Chief of the realm. Defender of the Faith. Equal to Sarasvatī
in learning. Chief of all the Buddhas. Head-expounder of the Ṡāstras.
Caster out of devils. Most learned in the holy Laws. An Avatār of God.
Absolver of sins. Head of the best of all religions.’ (See Dr. Wright’s

It is said that there are about 10,000 monks, and about 50,000 Buddhist
lay families in Bhutān. Many of the monks do not live in monasteries,
but hold offices under the Government.

Next, as to Sikkim—of which Dārjīling, now the Sanitarium of the Bengal
Government, once formed a part. This is a small boundary country between
Bhutān and Nepāl. It seems to have adopted Buddhism about the same time
as Bhutān, or perhaps a century earlier. The Lāmas there belong to the
Dugpa Red sect (p. 268). The aborigines, called Lepchas, though they
venerate the Lāmas, are really only half Buddhists; and their priests,
called Bijna (Bhikshu?) beggars, are half devil-exorcists. The oldest
temple is that of Pemyangchi (see p. 432). Next come the important
monasteries of Tassiding, Changachelling, Raklang, and Tamlung (one
residence of the Rāja, the other being at Chumbi in Tibetan territory).
There is also one near Dārjīling.

We ought finally to advert briefly to China and Japan. It is noteworthy
that next in rank to the Mongolian Grand Lāma comes the Head Lāma of the
great monastery of Peking, who represents Lāmism in that country.
Koeppen informs us that in China, for at least six centuries, there have
been two classes of Buddhist monks side by side, viz. first, the
Ho-shang (p. 92) or Chinese monks, who had become naturalized in the
year 65 after Christ; and, secondly, the Lāmas. These two schools are
not distinguished so much by difference of doctrine and discipline, as
by the position they hold in the empire. The Ho-shang are little more
than separate fraternities of monks, tolerated by the State. They have
no hierarchical organization, and no bishops, but each monastery stands
independently, and has no superior except its own Abbot.

On the other hand, the Lāmas constitute in China a public organized
society, acknowledged to a great extent and supported by the State, and
possessing certain spiritual and temporal rights over particular
districts. It is said, however, that the Lāmistic hierarchy in China is
subordinated to the Government Committee for foreign affairs.

It is further stated that three great monasteries situated in or near
Peking are exclusively reserved for the Tibetan and Mongolian Lāmas, and
that of the three Lāmas who preside over these the chief is the
before-mentioned representative of Lāmism at the Government Court (p.

In China proper, within the eighteen Provinces, the number of the Lāma
monasteries is said to be small, and these are generally to be found in
the Provinces nearest to Tibet and Mongolia.

As to Japan, it does not appear that the Lāmistic form of Buddhism has
penetrated into that country. In all probability Buddhist writings were
introduced there from Corea about A.D. 552[134], but it is certain that
Buddhism did not gain much ascendency in Japan till the ninth century,
and even then was not able to displace either Shintoism or Confucianism
and the worship of deceased ancestors. In fact, Buddhism commended
itself to the Japanese, as it did to the people of every country to
which it spread by its receptivity; and just as in Tibet, it adapted
itself to the Shamanism which previously existed there, so in Japan it
adopted Shintoism, and turned some of the Shinto deities into
Bodhi-sattvas. Then followed the inevitable splitting up of Japanese
Buddhism, as of all other religious systems, through disagreements and
divisions; and in the thirteenth century various sects were developed.
As to these, we need only note that while some sects adopt the early
Atheistic and Agnostic form of Buddhism with its doctrine of Nirvāṇa,
the principal sect called Shin is decidedly Theistic.

Sir Edward Reed, in his work on Japan (i. 84), informs us that he met a
learned priest named Akamatz in company with the Archbishop of the
Western sect. This priest’s account of the Shin sect coincides with the
information which I myself received from a learned Japanese priest at

It appears that the members of this sect believe in Amitābha Buddha as a
Being of infinite light and goodness, their chief prayer-formula being
Namo Amida (for Amita) Butsu, ‘Reverence to the Infinite Buddha,’ that
is to Amitābha[135]. They place faith in the love and mercy of Amita
Buddha, or rather in his readiness to receive them into his paradise
called Sukhāvatī (see pp. 183, 204). At the same time they are required
to lead moral lives, and salvation is practically only obtainable
through their own works. The monks are allowed to marry and to eat flesh
and fish.

Their doctrines have many points of contact with Christianity. The late
Mr. Kasawara of Japan, who belonged to this sect and was highly esteemed
by all who knew him in England, said to a Christian friend that ‘it gave
him great pleasure to meet in the Gospels many coincidences with the
aspirations of his own Buddhist faith, and that he greatly admired the
idea of the Christ as the concrete expression of the Inscrutable Essence
in its twofold form of infinite Light and infinite Love.’

Another well known sect called Nichiren was founded by a celebrated
student and teacher named Nichiren. The Nichirens have been called the
Methodists or Revivalists of Japan. They are very strict, and esteem the
book of the Law as the highest object of veneration. Their prayer is to
the following effect:—‘Glory be to the salvation-bringing book of the

Doubtless Japan once had a peculiar hierarchical organization of its
own, which crumbled away not long ago, and need not now be described.
Even in the present day each sect may have its leader or Head, who
exercises a kind of episcopal superintendence like that of a Bishop or

We have already mentioned (p. 200) that a female form of Avalokiteṡvara
is worshipped in Japan and China as the goddess of mercy. Her name in
China is Kwan-yin, and in Japan Kwan-non; and she is represented as
possessing any number of eyes and arms up to a thousand, and sometimes
three faces.

In concluding this Lecture we may note that Russia is the only European
country to which Lāmistic Buddhism has hitherto penetrated. There are
adherents of the Dalai Lāma among the Burat (Buryad) tribes on the
Baikal Lake, and among the Kalmuks on the Volga. Koeppen informs us that
the chief temple and monastery of the former is on a lake thirty versts
to the North-west of Selenginsk, and that the presiding monk is called
the Khanpo Paṇḍita and claims to be an Avatāra Lāma. The Chief Lāma of
the latter is said to be appointed by the Russian Government.

Hierarchical Buddhism naturally leads us on to the subject of ceremonial
Buddhism, which must be reserved for the next Lecture.

                              LECTURE XII.
                 _Ceremonial and Ritualistic Buddhism._

Having in the last Lecture described the manner in which hierarchical
systems were established in various Buddhist countries, we are naturally
led on to consider in the present Lecture the development of what may be
called ‘Ceremonial and Ritualistic Buddhism’; for no hierarchy can
maintain its hold over the masses anywhere without the aid of outward
manifestations, rites, ceremonies, and appeals to the senses.

Early Buddhism was, as we have already shown, vehemently opposed, not
only to all sacerdotalism, but to all merely external ritualistic and
ceremonial observances. It swept away the whole Vedic ritual—the whole
sacrificial system of the Brāhmans; it rejected all penitential
austerities and painful bodily mortifications; it denounced every form
of superstition, idolatry, and priestcraft; it maintained that to lead a
life of purity and high morality was better than all the forms and
ceremonies of religion.

But the very vehemence of its opposition tended to bring about a
reaction. Indeed, the history of all religious movements proves that the
teaching of extreme doctrines of any kind is almost invariably followed
by a Nemesis, though the teacher of them may himself not live to see it.

At the outset a reformer of the ultra type is sure to gain adherents by
his enthusiasm and earnestness, as well as by his ardour in condemning
abuses, but a time is almost certain to come when his followers will
themselves lapse into the identical practices which it was his great
object to denounce.

At all events, it is well known that in the present day the Buddha’s
followers have invented a mass of complicated forms and ceremonies
wholly out of keeping and incompatible with the purer and simpler system
which he himself sought to establish.

In point of fact the Buddha in promulgating his creed did not take into
account the impossibility of eradicating certain deep-seated cravings
inherent in human nature, which every religion aiming at general
acceptance must reckon with and satisfy:—for example, the craving for
the visible, for the audible, and for the tangible; the craving for some
concrete impersonation of infinite goodness and power; the craving for
freedom from personal responsibility and for its transference to a
priesthood; the craving for deliverance from the pains and penalties of
sin; the craving for an infallible guide in all matters of faith and

Later Buddhism, on the other hand, set itself to satisfy these
longings—these ineradicable yearnings of the human heart. It felt that
it could not establish itself on a firm foundation without hierarchical
organizations, and it could not maintain these without external forms,
ceremonies, and ritual observances. It therefore turned the simple
monastic brotherhood into a caste of priests, and it attracted and
gratified the senses of unthinking multitudes by a great variety of
religious rites, usages, and symbols, many of which are quite unique,
while nearly all are accompanied with superstitious practices implying
an amount of ignorance and credulity on the part of the people, quite

This corrupt phase of Buddhism is especially dominant in Tibet,
Mongolia, and Northern countries. In real truth it might be affirmed of
every Buddhist in Tibet that religious superstition colours all his
thoughts, words, and deeds. It is interwoven with the tissue of his
daily life, and is part and parcel of his worldly occupations. It is
equally part and parcel of the national life, and enters into every
Government transaction. Furthermore, it is fostered by art and science,
and ministered to by painting and sculpture. Nay, it is stamped on
Nature itself. It is impressed on rocks, stones, and trees. It finds its
way to the summit of snow-clad mountains, to the recesses of
inaccessible ravines, and to the extremities of remote deserts.

To crown all, it might be affirmed that in Tibet religious superstition
goes on by machinery, quite independently of the human will. It is kept
in continual activity, night and day, by the flapping of flags, and by
the revolution of innumerable wheels and cylinders, which are acted on
by the forces of wind and water.

It may easily, therefore, be imagined that to give an exhaustive account
of all the ceremonies and superstitious practices of Tibetan, or, as it
may be called, Lāmistic Buddhism, would require the command of unlimited
time. They have been treated of by Koeppen in his second volume, and by
Schlagintweit in his ‘Buddhism in Tibet,’ and have been illustrated by
descriptions in Huc’s travels[136], in Markham’s account of the travels
of Bogle, Turner, and Manning, and in the recent narrative of Mr. Sarat
Chandra Dās’ Journey. All I can attempt is to give a concise account of
some of the chief Lāmistic observances, taking the books just named as
my authorities, and adding whatever information I have been able to
collect myself from other sources, while travelling in Buddhist

We must, however, guard against the notion that ceremonial observances
are confined to Tibet and Northern regions. They are now more or less
prevalent in Burma and Ceylon, which have adopted much of the Mahā-yāna
system, and to these countries we must give our first attention. Even
the ceremonies now observed at the reception of novices and monks in
Burma and Ceylon are less simple than the early admission-forms already
described (pp. 77, 78, 256).

Of course every novice has to cut off his hair. He does this to prove
that he is ready to give up the most beautiful and highly-prized of all
his personal ornaments for the sake of a religious life.

But other forms have to be gone through in the present day, and I now
give an account of the admission-ceremony of a novice—as performed in
Burma—based on the description in the third chapter of Shway Yoe’s
interesting volume called ‘the Burman[137].’

It is well understood that, according to the strict letter of the law
(p. 77 of the present Lectures), a boy ought not to be admitted to the
novitiate until he is fifteen, but in modern times, the admission often
takes place at twelve or even eleven years of age, the belief being that
until a boy is so admitted he cannot claim to be more than an animal.

The first point to be noted is that his admission involves the dropping
of his secular name, and the receiving of another title to mark that it
is then possible for him to escape the suffering of life. As he is sure
to have been a scholar or pupil in a monastery (Kyoung) before applying
to be admitted as a novice, he has learnt beforehand all the forms of
worship and much that will be required of him during his monastic life;
for instance, that he is to address senior monks in a particular manner
and to wait upon them respectfully; that he is to walk through the
streets keeping his eyes fixed on the ground, without gazing about, even
if he have to pass a pageant or attractive spectacle of any kind; that
he is to wear his garments in the prescribed fashion; that he is to eat
with moderation and dignity.

On the day appointed for the induction-ceremony, the young neophyte
dresses in his gayest clothes, and mounted on a pony, passes at a foot’s
pace through the town or village. A band of music goes before him, and
all his friends dressed in their best garments, follow in a crowd, the
young men dancing and singing, the girls smiling and laughing. Thus he
proceeds in procession to the houses of his relations, to bid them
farewell. Of course the introductory observance is intended as a kind of
dramatic imitation of Gautama Buddha’s celebrated abandonment of his own
family and worldly associates, called the Mahābhinishkramaṇa, ‘the great
going forth from home’ (see p. 28 of this volume). When the round of
visits is finished, the would-be novice turns back with all his
companions to his parents’ house. There he finds a large number of
persons assembled, and among them the Head of the monastery, with
several of his brother monks. These are seated on a raised dais in front
of which are the offerings intended for presentation to them, consisting
of fruit, cooked food, yellow cloth, etc.

The monks (‘Talapoins’) seated in a row, carefully hold up their large
fan-like screens to shut out the female portion of the assemblage from
their view. Portions of the Vinaya (p. 62 of this volume) are then
recited, after which the would-be novice is made to throw off all his
fine clothes and bind a piece of white cloth round his loins. Then his
hair is cut off close, and his head is carefully shaved and washed. Next
he is taken to a bath, and after immersion in pure water, is brought
once more, partially clothed, before the assembled monks. Prostrating
himself three times before them, he raises his hands in reverence, and,
using the regular Pāli form of words, asks to be admitted to the holy
brotherhood. Upon that the Head of the monastery presents him with the
yellow monastic garments. These are duly put on, and the mendicant’s
bowl is hung round his neck. The ceremony concludes by the formal
announcement of his having become a member of the monastery.

The present admission-ceremony in Ceylon appears to be of a simpler
character. In fact it differs little from the ancient form. Those boys
who are destined for the novitiate usually begin their connexion with
the monastery to which they intend to belong by first becoming pupils in
the monastery-school. The devotion of the monkhood to the education of
mere boys was perhaps one of the best results of the progress and
development of Buddhism. In monasteries, all boys may learn to read and
write[138]. There also they gain some experience of monastic duties and
requirements, so that when the time comes for any pupil to enter the
novitiate, his preparedness is taken for granted. He merely makes known
his intention to a superior or senior monk. Then having shaved his head,
and undergone the ceremony of bathing, the applicant, who has furnished
himself with the proper yellow robes, presents them to the superior
monk, and requests to be allowed to receive them again that he may
become a novice. Next, on his reciting the three-refuge formulary, and
the ten prohibitions, he is permitted to take back the monkish garments
and to put them on. He is then formally admitted, and his admission
announced to the other members of the monastery (Hardy’s Eastern
Monachism, p. 23). It may be noted that the monkish garments do not
include a head-covering as in Northern countries.

As to the ceremony of admission to the full monkhood, it differs so
little from the ancient rite (described at p. 79), that no further
description need here be given.

With regard to the religious services performed in the monastic
institutions of modern times, they are, of course, a great advance on
the simple formularies used in early days, before the establishment and
organization of large monasteries.

The earlier and purer Buddhism, as we have seen, had only one religious
formula, and that was a simple expression of veneration for the three
jewels—the Buddha, his Law, and his Order of Monks (p. 78).

Any form of worship was altogether out of place, if not a mere mockery,
when there was no supreme Being to worship; when the Buddha himself, who
never claimed to be more than a perfected man, had passed away into
non-existence, and when all that he left behind was the great ideal of
his own memory, to be venerated and imitated.

When, however, monastic establishments were organized and the doctrine
became developed, a great development of worship took place.

To illustrate this I submit a description of daily life in a Burmese
monastery, based on the information given by Shway Yoe (p. 307), and
often using his words.

It appears that every monastic community in Burma is roused a little
before daylight by the sound of a big bell, beaten with a wooden mallet.
Each monk has then to rise, rinse out his mouth, wash his hands and
face, arrange his dress (the same in which he has slept all night) and
recite a few formularies, among which is one to the following
effect:—‘How great a favour has the Lord Buddha bestowed upon me in
manifesting to me his law, through the observance of which I may escape
the purgatorial penalties of hell and secure salvation!’ All the members
of the fraternity then station themselves before the image of the
Buddha, with the Abbot at their head, and the rest of the brotherhood,
full monks, novices and scholars, according to their order. This done,
they proceed to intone the morning service. At its conclusion each
stands before the Head of the monastery, and pledges himself to observe
during the day all the rules and precepts incumbent upon him. They then
separate—the pupils and novices to sweep the floor of the monastery,
bring drinking water, filter it, etc., the more advanced novices and
full monks to tend the sacred trees; the elders to meditate in solitude
on the miseries of life, such meditation being beyond all other actions
meritorious. Some gather flowers and offer them before the relic-shrine

Then comes a repast, preceded by a grace to the effect that the food is
eaten to satisfy bodily wants, not to please the appetite; that garments
are used to cover nakedness, not for vanity; that health is desired to
give strength for the performance of religious worship and meditation.
After the meal, all devote themselves to study or to teaching. Then
arranging themselves in file, they set out with the Abbot at their head
to receive their food (not beg). Silently they move on through the
streets, fixing their eyes steadily on the ground six feet before them,
meditating on the vanity and mutability of all things, and only halting
when a layman emerges from some door to pour his contribution of rice or
fruit or vegetables into their alms-bowls. The gift received, not a word
or a syllable of thanks is uttered; for is it not the receivers who
confer the favour and not the givers? In this way they circle back to
the monastery.

On their return from their perambulation a portion of the food is
offered to the Buddha, and then all proceed to eat the remainder,
consisting perhaps of cooked rice, boiled peas, fish, cocoa-nut cakes,
cucumbers, or even curried flesh and fowl, usually wrapped separately in
plantain-leaves. Next the bowls are washed, and a few hymns are chanted
before the Buddha’s image. During the succeeding hour the boy-scholars
are allowed to play about, while the monks pass their time in
conversation, and the Abbot receives people who come to pay their
respects. All visitors prostrate themselves before him three times, once
for the Buddha, once for the Law, and once for the Monkhood. The Abbot
in return says: ‘May the supporter’ (so he calls all laymen; compare p.
89), ‘as a reward for merit, be freed from the three calamities (of war,
pestilence, and famine)!’ At about half-past eleven the last regular
meal of the day is eaten. Monks are forbidden to eat after noon. When
the mid-day meal is over, all return to work. Some undertake the
teaching of the boy-scholars. Others read the texts of the Tri-piṭaka
with their commentaries, or superintend the writers who are copying
manuscripts. Some of the older members of the monastery talk with the
idlers, who are to be found lounging about the precincts, and some sink
into deep meditation, which probably ends in deep sleep.

Yet this profound meditation is believed to be all important, for is it
not the path to Arhatship, to Nirvāṇa, and to the acquisition of
supernatural faculties (see p. 245)? Other monks tell the beads of their
rosaries and repeat the prescribed formularies, such as: ‘All is
changeful, all is sorrowful, all is unreal,’ followed by invocations to
the three holies (see p. 175). Between three and four o’clock the
lessons are finished, and the scholars perform any domestic duties
required in the monastery. This is the chief return for the teaching
they receive. Then most of the pupils go to their own homes for dinner.
As to the youthful novices or junior monks, these are all obliged to
fast like the full monks. Many of them go out with some of the senior
monks for a solemn walk. Then at sunset the far-reaching notes of the
bell summon the walkers back to the monastery. All must be within the
walls before the sun goes down. The day’s duties now draw to a close.
The boy-pupils are made to repeat all they have learned during the day,
and some of the Pāli rituals are chanted ‘with spasmodic energy.’ At
half-past eight or nine there are further recitations before the image
of the Buddha. All assemble, as in the morning, and together intone the
hymns. When the last sound of the chant has died away, one of the
novices stands up and proclaims the hour, day of the week, day of the
month, and number of the year. Then all bow before the Buddha’s image,
and thrice before the Head of the monastery, and retire to rest (see
Shway Yoe’s ‘Burman’).

It is noteworthy that severe asceticism and painful austerities—as
practised among the Hindūs from the earliest times up to the present day
(described at pp. 228-230 of this volume)—form no part of the duties of
Buddhist monks; for Buddhism has never sanctioned bodily torture, as
Brāhmanism has done.

We now pass on to a description of the observances usual during the
period of Vassa (see pp. 82-84).

Mr. Dickson has given us some valuable notes on the method of keeping
this season in Ceylon, and I venture to found a short narrative on the
information he has communicated[139].

It seems that the villagers of Ceylon esteem it a privilege and a work
of great merit to send for one or two monk-priests from a monastery and
to minister to their wants, as well as listen to their preaching and
recitations during Vassa.

The season begins on the fifteenth day of the eighth month; that is, on
the day of full moon in the month Ashāḍha (June, July). Sometimes two or
three villages join in inviting a monk-priest to live with them for the
whole three months. They prepare a chamber for his sleeping
accommodation, a room for his meals, a temporary chapel for the
reception of the Buddha’s image, of the relic-casket and of the sacred
books, and a place in which he can recite the law and explain it.

On the first day of Vassa the villagers put on their holiday dresses,
and set off with music, dancers, singers, and flags for the monastery,
where the priest, whom they desire to invite, resides. Thence they
conduct him in procession to their homes. His first act, after his
arrival, is to set up the image and arrange the relic-casket and books.
An altar is placed in front of the image, and on this the people proceed
to make their offerings of flowers and perfumes. Next every villager
contributes something for the priest’s food, such as tea, sugar,
honeycomb, orange-juice, and the like. The priest, in return, pronounces
a benediction, and says:—‘By virtue of this first offering made for the
sake of the Buddha, who is like unto the sun of gods and men, and by
virtue of this second offering made to the monkhood, which is like a
field of merit, may you henceforth be delivered from the evils of birth
in the place of torment, in the world of beasts, in the world of ghosts,
and in the world of demons, and inherit the bliss of those who ascend
and descend through the worlds of gods till you are born again in the
world of men (see p. 21)!’

Then the monk-priest proceeds to the preaching-chamber, in the middle of
which is a chair with a cushion. He takes his seat, and, holding a
screen before his face to prevent his attention being distracted,
commences his recitations. The people sit on the floor—the men on one
side, the women and children on the other. First he repeats the
three-refuge formula (p. 78) and the five prohibitions (p. 126), the
people repeating after him. Next he recites some favourite passage from
the discourses of Buddha, the one generally selected being the
Nidhi-kāṇḍa Sutta (see p. 129). If any listener interposes a remark, or
hints that he does not understand, the priest explains the meaning. The
people then make obeisance and depart.

The monk-priest next repeats to himself the appointed Pirit for the
first day of Vassa—namely, the Maṅgala-sutta, Ratna-sutta, and
Karaṇīya-metta-sutta (see p. 318), after which he retires to rest for a
few hours. Rising before daybreak, he meditates on the virtues of
Buddha, on goodwill towards all living beings, on the impurities of the
body, and on death, walking up and down in his own chamber, or in any
place suitable for perambulation. Next he goes to the temporary chapel,
and prostrating himself before the shrine, says, ‘I worship continually
all the relic-shrines, the sacred Bodhi-tree, and the images of Buddha.
I reverence the three jewels’ (see p. 175). He then arranges his
offering of flowers, and places these with a small portion of his
morning meal on the altar. His meal being concluded, he teaches the
children of the villagers, or he prepares for the mid-day and evening
preaching (baṇa).

These preachings are generally well attended, especially on the four
Poya days (p. 257). On the new-moon and full-moon days, the priest must
go to the nearest monastery and join in the Pātimokkha (see p. 84); and
on the full-moon day, which terminates the three months of Vassa, he
must go there again as before, but on that occasion, addressing the
assembled monks, he must say:—‘Venerable Sirs, I have duly finished the
Vassa; if you have any doubt about it, speak, and tell me in what I have
erred.’ If no one speaks he is held to have fulfilled his duties
faultlessly. Then returning and taking with him a second priest, the two
together perform the Rātri-baṇa or mid-night service, which concludes
the ceremonies of Vassa. Two pulpits, made of four upright posts,
supporting small platforms, are erected, and the people from the
neighbouring villages, dressed in their holiday attire, attend in large
numbers. These nocturnal recitations are commonly continued for about
five hours.

Some account should next be given of the ceremony called Pirit, which is
performed in Ceylon and Burma during Vassa, and also at other times. The
name Pirit is corrupted from the Pāli _paritta_, which again is supposed
to be connected with Sanskṛit paritrā or paritrāṇa, ‘protection[140].’
We must premise that this ceremony had its origin in the fear of evil
spirits and demons everywhere prevalent in the East (see p. 218); but it
must be borne in mind that Buddhism recognizes no order of beings,
called demons, created by God, and eternally separate in nature from

Demons are beings who are regarded as created by men, rather than by
God; for they may have been men in their last state of existence and may
become men again (see p. 122). They are, however, represented as
cherishing spiteful and malevolent feelings against the superior race to
which they once belonged; and all kinds of safeguards and counteracting
influences are thought to be needed to protect human beings from their

This is quite in keeping with the Hindū theory, which holds that when a
man addicted to any particular vice dies, his evil nature never dies,
but assumes another personality and lives after him as a demon. And this
applies equally to women, so that the resulting demons may be of either
sex, and the female is held to be more spiteful than the male.

The most effective of all safeguards against the machinations of such
malignant beings, is believed to be the recitation or intoning of the
Buddha’s Law, and especially of the Sutta (Sūtra) division of it already
described (p. 62). And of this division there are choice
portions—twenty-nine in number[141]—supposed to possess greater
prophylactic potency than other portions. Collectively, they constitute
what is called the Pirit, and of these, three are most commonly
recited:—the Maṅgala-sutta, the Ratna-sutta, and the
Karaṇīya-metta-sutta. Part of the first of these has been already given
(at p. 129 of this volume).

Part of the second or ‘Jewel’ Sutta (translated by Childers) runs thus:—

  ‘All spirits here assembled,—those of earth and those of air,—let all
  such be joyful; let them listen attentively to my words.

  ‘Therefore hear me, O ye spirits; be friendly to the race of men; for
  day and night they bring you their offerings, therefore keep diligent
  watch over them.

  ‘Whatsoever treasure exists here or in other worlds, whatsoever
  glorious jewels in the heavens, there is none like Buddha.

  ‘Buddha is this glorious jewel. May this truth bring prosperity! There
  is nought like this doctrine. The Law is this glorious jewel. May this
  truth bring prosperity!

  ‘The disciples of Buddha, worthy to receive gifts, the priesthood is
  this glorious jewel. May this truth bring prosperity!

  ‘Their old karma is destroyed, no new karma is produced. Their hearts
  no longer cleaving to future life, their seed of existence destroyed,
  their desires quenched, the righteous are extinguished like this lamp.
  The priesthood is this glorious jewel. May this truth bring
  prosperity! Ye spirits here assembled—those of earth and those of
  air—let us bow before Buddha—let us bow before the Law—let us bow
  before the Monkhood.’

Part of the third or Karaṇīya-metta-sutta runs as follows:—

  This is what should be done by him who is wise in seeking his own
  good. Contented and cheerful, not oppressed with the cares of this
  world, not burdened with riches, tranquil, discreet, not arrogant, not
  greedy for gifts, let him not do any mean action for which others who
  are wise might reprove him. Let all creatures be happy and prosperous;
  let them be of joyful mind. Let no man in any place deceive another,
  nor let him be harsh towards any one; let him not, out of anger or
  resentment, wish ill to his neighbour. As a mother, so long as she
  lives, watches over her child, her only child, so among all beings let
  boundless goodwill prevail. Let goodwill without measure, impartial,
  unmixed with enmity, prevail throughout the world, above, below,

The Rev. D. J. Gogerley witnessed the performance of a great Pirit
ceremony in Ceylon (Hardy’s Monachism, p. 240). Taking his account and
that of Mr. Dickson, I have compiled the following brief description of
the Mahā-baṇa Pirit, ‘great Pirit recitation’:—

So soon as the sun has set crowds of people arrive at the
Recitation-Hall, bringing oil-lamps made out of cocoanut-shells. The
Hall is decorated, and a canopy, shaped like a pagoda, is erected over
the pulpits, which are placed on a raised platform. When darkness
supervenes a blaze of light illuminates the Hall. A relic of the Buddha
is deposited on the platform, and a sacred thread is fastened round the
Hall, one extremity of it being brought close to the relic and to the
Reciters. On the morning of the next day, the recitations begin. One of
the Reciters repeats the three-refuge formula, and the five commandments
(see pp. 78, 126). Then incense is burnt round the platform, and the
musicians outside the Hall strike up a lively air. Next, the formula of
‘the twelve successive causes of existence’ (see p. 102) is intoned, and
a hymn of victory chanted.

The recitation of the Pirit continues uninterruptedly, day and night,
for seven days. Twenty-four priests are employed, two of whom are
constantly seated on the platform and engaged in reciting. Moreover
three times in each day—at sunrise, mid-day, and sunset—they all
assemble together and chant in chorus. Of course, when the recitation of
the Suttas constituting the Pirit is concluded, it is recommenced, and
in this way all the Suttas are recited again and again. On the morning
of the seventh day a messenger is sent to a neighbouring temple to
invite the attendance of the gods. Then by a stretch of the imagination
certain of the gods and spirits are believed to answer the summons, and
on their supposed arrival, the protective Suttas are chanted more
energetically than ever till the morning of the eighth day, when a
benediction concludes the ceremony, and offerings of robes are made to
the priest-reciters.

We now pass on to Tibet and Mongolia.

The ceremonies of admission to the monkhood in those countries do not
deviate sufficiently from the practices just described to require
special notice.

With regard, however, to the dress of Lāmistic monks after their
admission to the Order, the ancient rule, as we have seen, obliged them
to wear only three garments of a dirty yellowish colour, made out of
rags, or picked up in cemeteries or on dust heaps. But the necessities
of a colder climate have compelled the Lāmas to increase their official
vestments, and the higher Lāmas sometimes wear bright silken robes
enriched with ornament. The law is sufficiently obeyed by putting a
patch or two at one corner.

A full equipment is supposed to consist of an under vestment, a sort of
tunic worn over it, a mantle, a kind of scarf worn over the left
shoulder, a loose robe brought round over the same shoulder, and a
cap[142]. The right shoulder is rarely bare, as it generally is in
Southern Buddhist countries.

The colour of these six articles of clothing, especially of the cap, is
yellow or red, according to the sect to which a monk belongs.

The cap is an important mark of sectarian difference, and is of various
forms, and when it has five points, has been compared to a bishop’s
mitre, but the five points really denote the five Dhyāni-Buddhas and
their Bodhi-sattvas.

Part of every full monk’s equipment in Tibet is a peculiar instrument,
made of bronze or other metal, and called a Dorje (Sanskṛit Vajra, ‘a
thunderbolt’), the employment of which for religious objects is peculiar
to Northern Buddhism. It is shaped like the imaginary thunderbolt of the
gods Indra and Ṡiva—that is, it consists of a short bar, about four
inches long, the two extremities of which swell out in globular form, or
like small oval cages formed of hoops of metal. The original Dorje is
supposed to have fallen direct from Indra’s heaven, and to have been
preserved in a monastery near Lhāssa, called Sera pp. 278, 442.
According to another legend, the original instrument belonged to Gautama
Buddha himself, and on his passing away into non-existence, transported
itself through the air from India into Tibet. The consecrated imitations
of it are innumerable. Their primary use is for exorcising and driving
away evil spirits, especially in the performance of ceremonies and
repetition of prayers—the instrument being then held between the fingers
and thumb and waved backwards and forwards, or from side to side.

The efficacy of the Dorje in securing good fortune and warding off evil
influences of all kinds is supposed to be of wide application. The idea
was really borrowed from Ṡaivism or from the Tantra system, introduced
through Nepāl by the Red sect. It is easy to understand the enormous
power supposed to belong to a priesthood which claimed to be the
wielders of a formidable thunderbolt, sent to them directly from heaven.

No wonder that the original Dorje preserved at the Sera monastery has
become an object of actual worship. According to M. Huc, countless
pilgrims prostrate themselves before it; and at the New Year’s festival,
on the 27th day of the first month, it is carried in procession with
great pomp to Lhāssa,—to the two centres of Lāmism—Potala and Lā brang.
On its way there, the mystical implement is adored by the whole
population, male and female (ii. 221).

Below is an engraving of a Dorje which I brought from Dārjīling.

[Illustration: ]

It should be mentioned that the fierce Bodhi-sattva Vajra-pāṇi (see p.
201 of this volume) is represented holding a similar Dorje in his right
hand in his character of subduer of evil spirits. In some
representations the evil demons are denoted by serpents.

Another important part of a full monk’s equipment in Tibet is the
Prayer-bell (called Drilbu) employed at the performance of daily
religious ceremonies, and rung to accompany the repetition and chanting
of prayers, or to fill up the intervals of worship. It often has half a
Dorje as a handle, or the handle is ornamented with various mystical
symbols carved on it. The object of ringing bells during worship is to
call the attention of the beings who are worshipped, or to keep off evil
spirits by combining noise with the waving of the Dorje in the handle.

The bell here represented was brought by me from Dārjīling.

[Illustration: ]

The bells used in Burma are described at p. 526.

Other religious implements used by novices and lay-brethren, as well as
by full monks, are prayer-wheels, prayer-cylinders, rosaries, amulets
(see p. 358), drums (see p. 385), and the Phurbu or Phur-pa (pp. 351,

As to the daily religious services and ceremonies performed by Monks in
Tibet and Mongolia, these, of course, are far more ritualistic than in
southern Buddhist countries. It has already been explained (at pp. 202,
225) that certain abstract essences or mystical forms of the Buddha,
called Dhyāni-Buddhas, were imagined to exist, and these had their
concrete energizing vice-gerents called Bodhi-sattvas—beings who
received adoration as if they were actually gods. In Tibet the
Bodhi-sattva Avalokiteṡvara, and the canonized reformer Tsong Khapa, and
other supposed saints, became prominent objects of religious worship.
Then, in process of time, a complicated ceremonial was developed, which,
as we shall see (p. 338), has much in common with the ritual of Roman
Catholic Christianity.

The language employed in the religious services of the Lāmistic
Hierarchy, whether in Tibet, Mongolia, or in the Lāma monasteries of
China and Manchuria, is Tibetan. In fact, Tibetan is to the Lāmistic
Church what Latin is to the Romish. It is the sole orthodox language of
religion and religious ceremonial.

According to Koeppen, only one Mongolian Lāma-monastery (and that
established at Peking) has the right to perform religious services in
Mongolian instead of in Tibetan[143].

Dr. Edkins, however, states that there is a temple (called Fa-hai-si)
near the hunting-park, in which the Manchu language is employed instead
of Tibetan. (Chinese Buddhism, p. 406.)

Without doubt the acquisition of some knowledge of the Tibetan language
is incumbent on every Lāma. Nevertheless, few, except in Tibet, really
understand it. They simply repeat the usual prayers and formularies

It appears that the Lāmistic priests assemble three times a day to go
through the prescribed ritual—at sunrise, at mid-day, and at sunset. We
read that, before commencing the service, they enter the temple or hall
of worship in procession and seat themselves on low seats in long rows.
These are placed the whole length of the hall, from the entrance-door to
the altar, being divided in the middle by a passage. At the further
extremity, close to the altar, are two raised thrones for the Head
Lāmas—a five-cushioned one on the right for the Abbot and a
three-cushioned one for the Vice-Abbot.

When all have seated themselves, the choir-master or precentor gives a
signal with a bell. Then the prayer-formularies are recited or chanted,
certain passages out of the Law are intoned and certain litanies sung,
sometimes in loud tones, accompanied by noisy music or by clapping of
hands, and generally in unison, though occasionally verses are sung
alternately with responses.

Then at other times a sentence of the Law is repeated by each monk in
turn; or a chant is set up consisting of such words as: Praise be to the
Buddha! or praise be to some Bodhi-sattva! followed by a recital of all
his names, titles, and epithets; or mystical sentences and syllables are
ejaculated. The result is said to be a chaos of voices and a deafening
confusion of sounds.

The chief instruments used in the services are a spiral shell, a long
trumpet of copper or brass (sometimes more than ten feet long), a large
drum, flutes, cymbals, and horns—the last being sometimes made of the
thigh-bones of human beings[145].

The ritual is imposing, and still more so when a living Buddha is
present. It has been described by M. Huc, and I here give the substance
of his account[146].

  In front of the chief idol, and on a level with the altar, is a gilded
  seat for the living Buddha or Grand Lāma of the Monastery. The whole
  space of the temple, from one end to the other, is occupied by long
  low seats almost level with the ground, stretching right and left of
  the Grand Lāma’s throne. These are covered with carpets, a vacant
  space being left between each row for the Lāmas to pass and repass.
  When the hour of prayer is come, a Lāma, whose office it is to summon
  the choir, places himself in front of the grand entrance of the temple
  and blows with all the force of his lungs into a conch-shell trumpet,
  the sound of which is audible for a league round. This effectually
  rouses the Lāmas and calls them together. Each then takes his mantle
  and official hat of ceremony, and repairs to the interior court. The
  trumpet sounds again, and when its note is heard for the third time,
  the great door is suddenly thrown open; the living Buddha enters, and
  takes his seat in front of the image on the altar. Then the Lāmas,
  after depositing their red boots in the vestibule, advance towards him
  barefoot, and adore him by three prostrations. This done, they seat
  themselves on the long seats according to their dignity, cross-legged
  and face to face. As soon as the director of the ceremonies has given
  the signal by tinkling a little bell, everyone murmurs the prescribed
  prayers, unrolling the formularies on his knees. After this
  recitation, there is profound silence for a minute. Then the bell is
  again rung, and a hymn or chant in two choruses begins. The Tibetan
  prayers, ordinarily arranged in verses, and written in metrical style,
  are well adapted to harmony; but sometimes at certain pauses indicated
  by the rubric, the Lāma musicians execute a strain in little accord
  with the gravity of the psalmody. The result is a stunning noise of
  bells, cymbals, drums, tambourines, conch-shells, trumpets, and pipes.
  Each musician sounds his instrument with a sort of fury, and each
  strives to outdo his neighbour in the noise he can produce. (Huc’s
  Travels, i. 88, abridged.)

One important element in some Tibetan religious services is the
consecration and distribution of holy water and grain by the chief

Perfumes, too, are burnt, and censers containing incense are swung
backwards and forwards during the ceremonies.

Then, again, some Lāmistic ceremonials include the drinking of tea
poured into little cups, kept in the breast-pockets of the monks’ robes,
and replenished two or three times during the service.

Sir Richard Temple (Journal, ii. 208) thus describes a tea-drinking
ceremonial at which he was present, at the monastery of Pemyangchi in
Sikkim (see p. 298 of these Lectures).

  The priests and monks, some thirty-five in all, were drawn up in full
  robes to receive us. Then the officials of the monastery were
  introduced—the steward, the rod-bearer, the deputy master, and lastly,
  the master. A procession was quickly formed, which we followed into
  the chapel, where they all took their accustomed seats, while we sat
  on places prepared for us. The interior of the chapel seemed an odd
  place for this, but we were told that it was the correct ceremonial. A
  chant was begun, which lasted some ten minutes, as a sort of grace,
  and then tea was handed round—first to us, next to the priests, and
  lastly to the monks. A short chant followed, and then the procession
  preceded us out of the chapel.

In the picture which accompanies Sir Richard’s description, all the
monks have head-coverings, some of which are like caps or hats of a high
sugar-loaf shape, while others have several points like episcopal mitres
(see p. 321).

The monks of Sikkim are generally of the Dugpa sect[147], and wear red
caps (see pp. 273, 298).

When Dr. Watt was in Ladāk, he was present at a service performed by a
number of monks belonging to both sects, who seemed to fraternize very
amicably. All the monks of the red sect took up a position on one side
of the chapel, while those of the yellow sect ranged themselves on the
opposite side. The two sects entered together, as usual, in procession,
and part of the ceremonial—as in that witnessed by Sir Richard
Temple—consisted in drinking tea from little cups taken from the folds
of their robes, and put back again, to be again taken out and
replenished; and this, too, without interrupting the continuous
repetition of prayers, chants, and formularies[148].

M. Huc also describes a ‘Tea-general’ ceremony after morning service in
a temple. Each monk drinks in silence, carefully placing his scarf
before his cup, as if to prevent the sight of the apparent incongruity
of drinking tea in such a sacred spot (ii. 57).

Another instance of tea-drinking as an element in Lāmistic ceremonial,
occurs in Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās’ highly interesting account of the
ceremony of his presentation to the Dalai Lāma at the palace-monastery
of Potala, in Lhāssa, on June 10, 1882. I venture to give the substance
of it in an abbreviated form and not quite literally[149].

An account of other presentations both to the Dalai Lāma and Tashi Lāma
will be given in a future Lecture (see pp. 439, 444, 447).

  Early in the morning I was informed of the arrival of Chola Kusho, who
  was ready to take me to Potala for presentation to the Dalai Lāma. We
  sallied forth on horseback, with three bundles of incense-sticks in
  our hands, and a roll of scarves in our breast-pockets, chanting as we
  went along certain hymns, and particularly the mystic ‘Om maṇi padme
  Hūm.’ In the street we saw a calf sucking milk, and several women
  fetching water in our direction. My companions were delighted at these
  auspicious omens. Arrived at the eastern gateway of Potala, we
  dismounted, and walked up a long hall, on two sides of which were two
  rows of prayer-wheels, put there to be twirled, on going in and coming

  A young monk now came down to conduct us, and we ascended slowly,
  looking only on the ground before us. The several ladders which
  conducted us from one story to another were steep, and placed in dark
  halls. I counted five, which took us as far as the ground-floor of the
  Red palace. Half-a-dozen ladders still remained to be scaled.

  At about eight we reached the top, and there found a number of monks
  anxiously awaiting an interview with his Holiness. A seat was pointed
  out to me. A monk sat near me, and smilingly observed that it must
  have been on account of the sins of my former life that I was born in
  India, where there is no living Buddha.

  From the top of the Red palace we enjoyed a grand panorama of Lhāssa
  and its suburbs. Shortly afterwards some Lāmas of high rank, dressed
  in loose yellow mantles, arrived. They entered the hall of reception
  one after another in solemn array. We remained outside in anxious
  suspense, fixing our eyes on the entrance door, and expecting to be
  summoned to his Holiness’ presence.

  At last, three Lāmas came towards us and asked us to enter in a line
  one after another. Walking very gently, we proceeded to the middle of
  the audience hall—a spacious apartment supported by three rows of four
  wooden pillars. The walls had paintings of the exploits of Buddha, of
  Chanrassig[150], Tsong Khapa, and other celebrated saints, besides
  images of the successive incarnations of the Dalai Lāma.

  As soon as we had entered the official scarf-collectors received the
  presentation-scarves from our hands. We seated ourselves on rugs,
  spread in about eight rows, my seat being in the third row, at a
  distance of about ten feet from the Grand Lāma’s throne, and a little
  to his left. When all were seated, perfect silence reigned in the
  grand hall. The state officials walked from left to right with serene
  gravity, as became their exalted rank, in the presence of the Supreme
  Vice-Regent of Buddha on earth. At their head walked the Kuchar
  Khanpo, who carried in his hand the bowl of benediction, containing
  the sacred Thui (that is, consecrated water stained yellow with
  saffron) for sprinkling over the audience. The bearer of the
  incense-pot, suspended by three golden chains, the carrier of the
  royal golden tea-pot, and other domestic officials, now came up, and
  stood motionless as pictures, without looking on either side, but
  fixing their eyes and their attention, as it were, on the tips of
  their respective noses. Two large golden lamp-burners, resembling
  flower-vases, flickered on two sides of the throne. The great
  altar—resembling an oriental throne, and supported by lions[151]
  carved in wood—on which sat his Holiness, a child of eight, was
  covered with silk scarves of great value. It was about four feet high,
  six long, and four broad. A yellow mitre-hat[152] covered the Grand
  Lāma’s head, the pendant portions veiling his ears, and a yellow
  mantle enveloped his person. He sat cross-legged, with the palms of
  his hands joined together to bless us. When it came to my turn I
  received his Holiness’ benediction, and was able to look upon his
  divine face. Other Lāmas approached him with downcast looks, and
  resumed their respective seats, not presuming to look up. I longed to
  linger a few seconds, but other candidates for benediction displaced
  me by pushing me gently forward. I noticed that the princely child
  possessed a really bright and fair complexion, with rosy cheeks. His
  eyes were large and penetrating. The contour of his face was
  remarkably Āryan, though somewhat marred by the obliquity of his eyes.
  The thinness of his person was probably owing to the fatigues of the
  court-ceremonies, religious duties, and ascetic observances, to which
  he had been subjected since taking the vows of monkhood. Remembering
  the stories about the freaks of fortune, which had lately brought him
  to this proud position, and had compelled his predecessors to undergo
  untimely transmigrations, I pitied his exalted rank: for who knows
  whether he will not be forced to undergo another transmigration before
  reaching his twentieth year?

  When all were again seated after receiving the Dalai Lāma’s
  benediction, the Sol-pon Chhenpo poured tea in his Holiness’ golden
  cup from a golden tea-pot, while four assistant Sol-pons poured tea in
  the cups of the audience, consisting of the head Lāmas of Meru
  monastery and ourselves. Before the Grand Lāma lifted his cup to his
  lips, a grace was solemnly said, beginning with ‘Om āh Hūm’ thrice
  chanted, and followed by a prayer to the following effect:—‘Never even
  for a moment losing sight of the three Holies, always offer reverence
  to the Tri-ratnas; let the blessings of the three be upon us.’ Without
  even stirring the air by the movements of our limbs, we slowly lifted
  our cups to our lips, and drank the tea—which was delicious—taking
  care to make no sound with our lips. Three times was tea served, and
  three times we emptied our cups, after which we put them back in our
  breast-pockets. Then the Sol-pon placed a golden dish full of
  consecrated rice in front of his Holiness, which he only touched. The
  remainder was distributed among those present. I obtained a handful,
  which I carefully tied in one corner of my handkerchief. The following
  grace was then uttered by the assembled monks, with much gravity:—‘The
  most precious _Buddha_ is the most perfect and matchless teacher; the
  most unerring guide is the _Saṅgha_; the most infallible protection is
  in the sacred _Dharma_. We offer these offerings to these three
  objects of refuge. Reverence be to each of them!’

Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās also witnessed at the same time the performance of
a remarkable ceremony for the translation of the soul of a chief Lāma or
Khanpo to one of the heavenly mansions.

It appears that a certain well-known Khanpo had died of small-pox. He
was one of the most distinguished scholars of Tibet, and held the
highest position in the Court of Potala. The day on which the ceremony
was performed was the twenty-seventh day of this chief Lāma’s _Bardo_
(p. 371); that is, of the interval of forty-nine days between his death
and his translation to another world. (According to Jäschke the interval
of the intermediate state only lasts for forty days.)

The Dalai Lāma, seated on his throne, chanted a hymn in a low indistinct
voice. Afterwards the assembled monks in grave tones repeated what the
Grand Lāma had uttered. Then a venerable personage rose from the middle
of the first row of seats, and addressing the Grand Lāma as the
incarnate Lord Chenressig (Avalokiteṡvara), recited all the many acts of
mercy performed by him, as the patron-saint of Tibet, for the benefit of
its people. Next, he made offerings of certain precious things
(including an imaginary presentation of the seven mythical
treasures[153]) for the benefit of the soul of the late Khanpo,
saying:—‘I pray that you may graciously accept these presents for the
good of all living beings.’

Finally, he prostrated himself three times before the Grand Lāma’s
throne. A solemn pause followed; after which the audience rose, and the
Grand Lāma retired. Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās goes on to relate that at the
end of the ceremony one of the assistant Lāmas gave him two packets of
pills, and another tied a scrap of red silk round his neck. The pills,
he was told, were chinlab or blessings, consecrated by the Buddha and
other saints; and the consecrated scrap of silk, called sungdū, ‘knot of
blessing,’ was the Grand Lāma’s usual return for presents made to him by
pilgrims and devotees.

We may note here that in 1866 the Indian explorer Nain Singh saw the
then Dalai Lāma. He was a handsome boy about thirteen years old, and was
seated on a throne six feet high. He had the Regent on his right hand.
He was said to be in his thirteenth transmigration[154].

Dr. Schlagintweit (p. 239) describes a ceremony in which consecrated
water (thui) is poured from a teapot-like vessel over a metallic mirror
(pp. 458, 463 of these Lectures), which is held so as to reflect the
image of Gautama Buddha seated on the altar. This water falls down into
a flat vessel containing a bag filled with rice, and is then suitable
for ceremonial ablutions.

Another ceremony (called Nyungne? by Schlagintweit), involving long
abstinence, lasts for four days.

The first and second days are passed in preparations. Those who are to
take part in the ceremony rise at sunrise, bathe and prostrate
themselves several times before the image of Avalokiteṡvara. The head
Lāma then bids them confess their faults, and meditate on the evils
resulting from demerit. He next, with his attendants, recites extracts
from certain books of confession. This goes on till ten o’clock, when
tea is taken. After this the recitations and prayer-recitals continue
till two o’clock, when a meal of vegetables is eaten. Then comes a
pause, but the prayers and readings are afterwards carried on till late
at night, tea being handed round at intervals. Before retiring to rest,
the head Lāma specifies the various duties to be performed by the
devotees on the following day, and orders them, as a penance, to sleep
in ‘the lion-posture,’ viz. to lie on the right side, to stretch out the
feet and to support the head with the right hand[155].

The third day is the most important, and is passed in rigorous
abstinence from all food. No one is even allowed to swallow his saliva,
which must be ejected into a vessel placed before him. Not a word must
be spoken. Each man prays and confesses his sins, but does so in
absolute silence. This continues till sunrise on the fourth day.

It was at first the rule that repetitions of the Law, confessions of sin
(especially the Pātimokkha), and some of the chief religious ceremonies
(including fasting) should take place, more particularly on the days of
new and full moon (called Uposatha, p. 84).

Thus we read that ‘on the day of full moon Ānanda purified himself, and
went up to the upper story of his house to keep the sacred day’
(Mahāsudassana-sutra, 1-10). This was in conformity with the ancient
Brāhmanical rule that every new-moon day (Darṡa) and every full-moon day
(Paurṇamāsa) should be set apart for special religious observances[156].

In later times the intermediate quarter-moon days were also held sacred,
and so the number of Uposatha days (see p. 84) was increased to four in
every month, or once a week. Very strict Buddhists in Tibet eat nothing
on these days between sunrise and sunset except farinaceous food with
tea (p. 346).

The laity are invited to join in keeping the Uposatha days, but take no
real part in the detail of the services. The same rule applies to all
religious ceremonies. Laymen may be present at any rite, but without
co-operating in carrying out the ritual. Still, laymen have their own
part to perform. They look on—listen, tell their rosaries, and repeat
short prayers—such as the ‘three-refuge’ and ‘jewel-lotus’ formula (pp.
78, 370)—and make declarations to avoid the five great sins (p. 126). Or
they walk up to the image-altar and place offerings on it, or bow before
it and receive the Lāma’s benediction. Theoretically, the laity only
exist to honour and support the monkhood, and to be blessed by them in
return. At all events a layman’s religion is usually restricted to a
very limited range of duty.

One common way of showing piety is by walking round temples,
monasteries, Stūpas, and sacred walls (see pp. 380, 505), from east to
west, keeping the right shoulder towards them, and even occasionally
measuring the ground with the extended body.

This last task is by no means a light or easy one. According to M. Huc
(i. 202), a whole day scarcely suffices to perform the circumambulation
when the monastic buildings and temples occupy an extensive area. People
begin at daybreak, and the feat must be accomplished all at one time,
without any break, or even a few moments’ pause for taking nourishment.
Moreover, the measuring-process must be perfect; ‘the body must be
extended to its whole length, and the forehead must touch the earth
while the arms are stretched out in front and the hands joined.’ At each
prostration a circle must be drawn on the ground with two rams’ horns
held in the hands. ‘It is a sorrowful spectacle, and the unfortunate
people often have their faces and clothes covered with dust and mud. The
utmost severity of the weather does not present any obstacle to their
courageous devotion. They continue their prostrations through rain,
snow, and cold. Sometimes they go through the additional penance of
carrying an enormous weight of books on their backs. You meet with men,
women, and even children sinking under these excessive burdens. When
they have finished their circumambulation, they are considered to have
acquired the same merit as if they had recited all the prayers contained
in the books they have carried.’ In point of fact they are generally far
too ignorant to be able to read the books, and the carrying of them on
their backs is taken as an adequate equivalent.

The acquisition of merit by circumambulation is not an exclusively Hindū
or Buddhist idea. The Holy House at Loretto near Ancona—believed to have
been transported there from Bethlehem by angels—is circumambulated by
pilgrims on their knees, but keeping the sacred object to the left.
Indeed, we may fitly conclude the present Lecture by a comparison
between the ritual of Tibetan Buddhism and that of Roman Catholicism—a
comparison, too, drawn by the Roman Catholic Missionaries themselves:

‘The cross, the mitre, the dalmatica, the cope, which Grand Lāmas wear
on their journeys, or when they are performing some ceremony out of the
temple; the service with double choirs, the psalmody, the exorcisms, the
censer for incense, suspended from five chains, and opened or closed at
pleasure; the benedictions pronounced by the Lāmas by extending the
right hand over the heads of the faithful; the chaplet, ecclesiastical
celibacy, spiritual retirement, the worship of the saints, the fasts,
the processions, the litanies, the holy water, all these are analogies
between the Buddhists and ourselves’ (Huc, ii. 50). To these may be
added sacred images, sacred pictures, sacred symbols, relics, lamps, and

This is doubtless a true comparison. But it does not follow that the
opinion which the missionaries express—‘that these analogies are of
Christian origin’—is equally deserving of our assent. No doubt one chief
feature of Buddhism, as of Hindūism[158], is its receptivity, but may it
not be the case that human nature and human tendencies will be found to
assert themselves independently in every part of the world, wherever
surrounding circumstances are favourable to their development?

                             LECTURE XIII.
        _Festivals, Domestic Rites, and Formularies of Prayer._

We must now turn to the consideration of some of the chief festivals,
domestic rites, and prayer-formularies of Buddhism—a subject which
follows as a natural sequel to the last Lecture.

It is well known that the Hindūs have certain festivals and holy days,
celebrated at the junction of the seasons which in India are properly
six in number—namely, spring, summer, the rains (Varsha), autumn,
winter, and the season of dew and mist (see ‘Indian Wisdom,’ p. 450;
‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 428).

Buddhism has adopted the old Hindū ideas on this subject, and has added
others of its own, but generally only reckons three seasons—summer, the
rains (Vassa = Varsha) and winter.

The festival of the New Year is, of course, universal. It is supposed to
celebrate the victory of light over darkness, and, in Buddhist
countries, of Buddhism over ignorance. The corresponding Hindū festival
is called Makara-saṅkrānti. In India this marks the termination of the
inauspicious month Pausha and the beginning of the sun’s northern course
(uttarāyaṇa) in the heavens. It is a season of general rejoicing.

In Burma, where a good type of Southern Buddhism is still to be found,
the New Year’s festival might suitably be called a ‘water-festival.’ It
has there so little connexion with the increase of the New Year’s light,
that it often takes place as late as the early half of April (see Mr.
Scott’s ‘Burman,’ ii. 48). It is, however, a movable feast, the date of
which is regularly fixed by the astrologers of Mandalay, ‘who make
intricate calculations based on the position of various constellations.’
The object is to determine on what precise day the king of the Naths
(see p. 217 of this volume) will descend upon the earth and inaugurate
the new year. When the day arrives all are on the watch, and just at the
right moment—which invariably occurs at midnight—a cannon is fired off,
announcing the descent of the Nath-king upon earth. Forthwith (according
to Mr. Scott) men and women sally out of their houses, carrying pots
full of water consecrated by fresh leaves and twigs of a sacred tree (p.
514 of this volume), repeat a formal prayer, and pour out the water on
the ground. At the same time all who have guns of any kind discharge
them, so as to greet the new year with as much noise as possible.

Then, ‘with the first glimmer of light,’ all take jars full of fresh
water and carry them off to the nearest monastery. First they present
them to the monks, and then proceed to bathe the images. This work is
usually done by the women of the party, ‘who reverently clamber up’ and
empty their goblets of water over the placid features of the Buddhas and
Bodhi-sattvas. Then begin the Saturnalia. All along the road are urchins
with squirts and syringes, with which they have been furtively
practising for the last few days. The skill thus acquired is exhibited
by the accuracy of their aim. Cold streams of water catch the ears of
the passers by. Young men and girls salute one another with the contents
of jars and goblets. Shouts of merriment are heard in every quarter.
Before breakfast every one is soaked, but no one thinks of changing his
garments, for the weather is warm, and ‘water is everywhere.’ The girls
are the most enthusiastic, and as they generally go in bands and carry
copious reservoirs along with them, ‘unprotected males’ are soon routed.
Then a number of ‘zealous people’ go down to the river, wade into the
water knee-deep, splash about and drench one another till they are
tired. No one escapes. For three days no one likes to be seen with dry
clothes. The wetting is a compliment. A clerk comes up to his master,
bows, and ‘gravely pours the contents of a silver cup down the back of
his neck,’ saying, ‘let me do homage to you with water.’

It appears from Mr. Scott’s amusing narrative that, when there was a
king in Burma, an important feature of the festival was the formal
washing of his Majesty’s head.

The New Year’s rejoicings in Ceylon require no special notice.

In Tibet the New Year’s festival properly begins at new moon, and may be
delayed till some time in February. The festival lasts fifteen days,
and, as usual, is a season of general festivity, gifts, congratulations,
mummery, dancing, and acting. It is the Lāmistic carnival.

According to M. Huc (ii. 216) the rejoicings commence (as in Burma) at
midnight. At Lhāssa all the inhabitants sit up, awaiting the solemn
moment which is to close the old year and open the new. The usages
differ so curiously from those customary in Southern Buddhist countries,
that I here give an abbreviated version of the two French travellers’

  Not being at all eager to watch for the moment of separation between
  the two Tibetan years, we went to bed at our usual hour, and were
  wrapped in profound slumber, when we were suddenly awakened by cries
  of joy issuing from all quarters of the town. Bells, cymbals, conchs,
  tambourines, and all the instruments of Tibetan music, were set to
  work together and produced the most frightful uproar imaginable. We
  had a good mind to get up to witness the happiness of the inhabitants
  of Lhāssa, but the cold was so cutting that, after reflection, we
  decided to remain under our woollen coverlets, and to unite ourselves
  in heart only with the public felicity. Unhappily for our comfort,
  violent knocks on our door, threatening to smash it into splinters,
  warned us that we must renounce our project. We therefore donned our
  clothes, and the door being opened, some friendly Tibetans rushed into
  our room, inviting us to the New Year’s banquet. They all bore in
  their hands a small vessel made of baked earth, in which balls of
  honey and flour floated on boiling water. One visitor offered us a
  long silver needle, terminating in a hook, and invited us to fish in
  his basin. At first we sought to excuse ourselves, objecting that we
  were not in the habit of taking food during the night, but they
  entreated us so warmly, and put out their tongues at us with so
  friendly a grace, that we were obliged to comply, and resign ourselves
  to a participation in the New Year’s festivities. Each of us,
  therefore, hooked a ball, which we then crushed between our teeth to
  ascertain its flavour. For politeness sake we had to swallow the dose,
  but not without making some grimaces. Nor could we get off with this
  first act of devotion. The New Year was inexorable. Our numerous
  friends at Lhāssa succeeded each other almost without interruption,
  and we had perforce to munch Tibetan sweetmeats till daybreak.

It is said that other peculiar customs follow, one of which the Tibetans
call the Lhāssa-Moru. This takes place on the third day, and leads to
the invasion of the town and its environs by innumerable bands of Lāmas.
Immense numbers of Lāmas, some on foot, some on horseback, some on asses
or oxen, and all carrying cooking-utensils and prayer-books, crowd into
Lhāssa from all points. The town is completely over-run. Those who
cannot get lodgings encamp in the streets and squares, or pitch their
tents in the suburbs. The tribunals are closed, and the course of
justice is suspended. The Lāmas parade the streets in disorderly bands,
uttering discordant cries, pushing one another about, quarrelling,
fighting, and yet, in the midst of all, chanting their prayers (Huc, ii.

In Tibet there is a ‘water-festival’ in the seventh or eighth month
(about our August and September). At this festival the Lāmas go in
procession to rivers and lakes, and consecrate the waters by benediction
or by throwing in offerings. Huts and tents are erected on the banks,
and people bathe and drink to wash away their sins. It concludes with
dancing, buffoonery, and masquerading.

The festival of Gautama Buddha’s conception, or of the Buddha’s _last_
birth—for it must be borne in mind that, before Buddhahood, he went
through innumerable previous births—is a most important anniversary in
all Buddhist countries, but the right date has been the occasion of much
controversy. The event is generally celebrated at the end of April, or
beginning of May, or on a day corresponding to the 15th day of the Hindū
month Vaiṡākha, which is also sometimes given as the date of the
Buddha’s attainment of Buddhahood, and of his death. Everywhere
throughout the modern Buddhist world the Buddha’s birthday is kept by
the worship of his images, followed by processions.

As to the day of his death, Sarat Chandra Dās was at Lhāssa on June 1,
1882, and wrote thus:—‘To-day being the holiest day of the year—the
anniversary of Buddha’s Nirvāṇa—the burning of incense in every shrine,
chapel, monastery, and house, darkened the atmosphere with smoke. Men
hastened to the great temple to do homage to the Buddha and to obtain
his blessing.’

The ‘festival of lamps’ is an important anniversary with all Buddhists.
The Hindūs have their Dīvālī or feast of illuminations (see ‘Brāhmanism
and Hindūism,’ p. 432) when the cold season begins. The early Buddhists
marked the end of the rainy season (Vassa = Varsha), which terminated
their period of retirement, by a day of rejoicing (see p. 84). In
process of time they connected the celebration of Gautama’s descent from
heaven (p. 417) with the termination of Vassa.

In Tibet the orthodox followers of the Dalai Lāma have a festival of
their own, with illuminations, on the 25th day of the 10th month
(Nov.—Dec.), to celebrate the ascension of Tsong Khapa to heaven (p.
280). Sarat Chandra Dās was at Tashi Lunpo on this day in 1881, when
‘hundreds of lamp-burners were tastefully placed in rows on the roof of
every building.’ The illuminations of the temples, tombs, and grand
monastery ‘presented a magnificent appearance.’

With regard to the season called Vassa, it should be noted here that
since there is no rainy period of the year in Tibet which corresponds to
the Indian ‘Rains,’ certain seasons of abstinence from food are observed
either before, or at the same time with the great Festivals. These
periods of fasting are distributed equally throughout the year—one in
February, one in May, one in July, one in November or December.

The festivals and holy days thus briefly described, are by no means the
only festivals of Buddhism. There are numerous other special and local
ones. For example, in Ceylon, the Sinhalese celebrate the coming of the
Buddha to their island and his victory over the Rākshasas and evil
demons by a festival in March or April, when the greater number of
pilgrims flock to his supposed foot-print on Adam’s Peak, or to the
sacred Bodhi-tree at Anurādha-pura (see p. 519). Other Southern
countries have festivals connected with the worship of special
foot-prints and relics of their own.

Then the Lāmas in Lhāssa keep the day of the worship of the Dorje (see
p. 322) on the 27th day of the first month, while those in Sikkim
celebrate as a festival the day on which the Lepchas make offerings to
the spirit of the mountain Kinchinjunga.

Then, again, at the beginning of the third month an exhibition of sacred
vessels and pictures takes place at Lhāssa, accompanied by processions
in masks, the Lāmas appearing as good genii, and the laity as tigers,
leopards, elephants, &c.

In other places, too, there are special festivals. For example, a
singular festival, called ‘Chase of the spirit-kings,’ is kept by
Northern Buddhists on the 30th of the second month, when there is a vast
amount of religious dancing (with tediously slow movements),
masquerading, mummery, and buffoonery, not unlike the devil-dancing
which goes on in Ceylon, and closely connected with the universal belief
in demons and evil spirits.

The most hideous masks are used on these occasions. In 1884 I had an
opportunity of inspecting in a Buddhist monastery near Dārjīling a most
singular assortment of religious masks, which for distortion of feature
and horrible unsightliness, could scarcely be matched anywhere; for
indeed mask-making is an art which Buddhism has brought to the greatest
perfection. I also witnessed a religious dance performed by a party of
masqueraders which struck me as a remarkable example of the utter
debasement of Buddhism in Northern countries.

Mrs. Bridges describes a similar religious dance in Ladāk thus:—

  ‘A group of grinning masks—lions’ heads and harlequins’ bodies—came
  down the steps, and whirling slowly round, retreated again into the
  gloom and came out dragon-headed. Then a band of skeletons, the skulls
  (masks) admirably painted, gnashing their hideous jaws and shaking
  their lanky limbs, rushed out into the sunshine and executed a real
  “Dance of Death” before us.’ (‘Travels,’ p. 101.)

Yet all true Buddhists are prohibited from dancing and masquerading (p.
126 of this volume); just as Manu (II. 178, IV. 15, 212) prohibited
Brāhmans from engaging in similar frivolities.

Then the religious dramas performed on some of the Buddhist festive days
are not the least interesting examples of the present prevalent

I witnessed part of a dramatic performance at a Burmese Theatre in
Calcutta (during the Exhibition year), when the story of the Hindū Epic,
called Rāmāyaṇa, and especially that portion of it which relates to the
carrying off of Sītā by demons (see ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 42,
and ‘Indian Wisdom,’ p. 337), was dramatically represented. The theatre
was a rude wooden enclosure open to the sky, with the exception of a
portion roofed over for a band of musicians, whose noisy performances
appeared to constitute an important element in the proceedings. The
chief musician sat on the ground in the middle of a circular
frame-work—about two or three feet high—hung round with drums of
different sizes, which he struck with his hands, and occasionally tuned
by the application of moist clay in larger or smaller lumps. In the
centre of the open area of flat dusty soil which served for the stage, a
big branch of a tree was stuck upright, possibly to represent the forest
in which Rāma lived with his wife. Then the hero and heroine of the
drama—Rāma and Sītā—kept up a tedious colloquy, interspersed with jokes,
for hours. The former—who, be it remembered, was supposed to be a
god—smoked a cigar all the while, and occasionally ejected saliva with
perfect indifference to all appearances and to all laws of congruity,
while every now and again Sītā, in spite of a tight dress, varied the
monotony of the dialogue by executing a slow dance, characterized by
strange contortions, twistings, and wrigglings of the limbs. Hideous
masks were at intervals assumed by the actors, and, of course, by the
demons who intervened at odd moments with much ludicrous gesticulation.
The action of the play went on continuously for about ten days, during
which period people came and went as they liked, and the last comers
entered into the progress of the plot with as much interest as if they
had witnessed the whole. There is never much originality of invention in
these religious plays. The Indian heroic poems and the five hundred and
fifty birth-stories (see p. 63) of the Buddha furnish the basis of all.

The religious dramas of Tibet are of a somewhat different character. The
following description is founded on Dr. Schlagintweit’s account (p.
233), and on that of Mrs. Bridges in her interesting ‘Travels’ (John
Murray, 1883, p. 130).

  The dramatis personæ consist of three classes.—1. Tutelary deities or
  good genii, called Dragshed (Dragṡed), who ward off the assaults of
  evil demons; 2. Evil demons; 3. Men. The actors of each class are
  distinguished by their masks. The first class—that is the Dragsheds or
  good genii—wear masks of enormous size and terrific aspect[159]. The
  second class—that is the Evil demons—wear larger masks of a dark
  colour, and their garments are well padded to deaden the force of the
  blows showered upon them. The third class—that is the Men—wear the
  usual dress of human beings, and masks of a natural size and colour,
  while under their clothes they carry heavy wooden sticks, with which
  at times, during the progress of the drama, they belabour the demons.
  The gods also get well knocked about by the demons, much to the
  amusement of the spectators.

  The drama is preceded by the recital of hymns and prayers and by noisy
  music. The Dragsheds occupy the centre, the men are on their right and
  the demons on their left. At short intervals the men and the demons
  execute slow dances, each group by itself. At last, an evil spirit and
  a man step forth. The evil spirit then tries, in a plausible speech,
  to tempt the man to violate some precept of morality, while other evil
  spirits approach and chime in. The man at first stands firm, but
  gradually gives way and is about to yield, when other men come forward
  and entreat him not to be seduced by the artful suggestions of the
  demons. He is then closely pressed by the two opposite parties, but in
  the end takes the advice of his human counsellors. Upon this all the
  men break out into praise of the Dragsheds, to whose presence and
  assistance they ascribe the victory. The Dragsheds now proceed to
  punish the evil demons. The leading Dragshed, who is distinguished by
  an unusually large yellow mask, advances against them surrounded by
  about a dozen followers. Other Dragsheds next rush out from the
  back-ground, shoot arrows, throw stones, and even fire with muskets
  upon the demons, while the men belabour them with their sticks,
  hitherto concealed under their clothes. The demons are routed, and run
  in every direction pursued by the good genii. The drama concludes by
  all the actors (men and demons included) singing hymns in honour of
  the victorious tutelary genii.

Among the spectators (at the performance witnessed by Mrs. Bridges at
Leh) were six deities, represented by six Lāmas seated on a bench with
umbrellas over their heads. They had incense swung before them by
attendant priests.

This curious dramatic performance is paralleled in India by the Hindū
drama called Prabodha-ćandrodaya, ‘Rise of the moon of true knowledge,’
in which we have Faith, Volition, Opinion, Imagination, Contemplation,
Devotion, Quietude, Friendship, &c., on one side; Error, Self-conceit,
Hypocrisy, Love, Passion, Anger, Avarice, on the other. The two sets of
characters are, of course, opposed to each other, the object of the play
being to show how the orthodox faith of the Hindūs became victorious
over the erroneous doctrine of the Buddha—the Buddhists and other
heretical sects being represented as adherents of the losing side.

Then—to take a parallel nearer home—we find similar religious dramas
acted in England not so very long ago (about the time of Henry VIII).
For example, in the old English morality play, called ‘Every-man,’ some
of the dramatis personæ on the one side are—God, Death, Every-man,
Fellowship, Kindred, Good-deeds, Knowledge, Confession, Beauty,
Strength, Discretion; while on the other are personifications of the
opposite qualities. Then, again, in ‘Lusty Juventus,’ we have a medley
of Good Counsel, Knowledge, Satan, Hypocrisy, Fellowship, Abominable
Living, God’s Merciful Promises.

And here with reference to the supposed contest continually going on
between good and evil, and the participation of human beings in this
terrible struggle, we may note that the mystical thunderbolt called
Dorje (p. 322) is not the only implement of spiritual warfare employed
by the Lāmas against the demons[160]. Another important weapon is the
Phurbu or ‘nail,’ described as triangular and wedge-shaped, with the
thin end very sharp-pointed, and with the head of Tamdin (a particular
Dragshed = Haya-grīva, noted for his power) emerging from the broad end
and surmounted by a half-thunderbolt for a handle.

According to Schlagintweit, this weapon is often made of cardboard, on
which mystical sentences (Dhāraṇīs) in Sanskṛit are inscribed, some
against the demons of the South, some against those of the East, and
some against those of the South-east. In case of illness a Lāma goes
round the house turning the point of the Phurbu in all directions and
uttering magical spells.

Most of the Dhāaraṇīs end with the syllables Hūm phatṭ, the potency of
which in scaring evil demons is irresistible. Many charms begin with Ah

Those Phurbus are considered most efficacious which are inscribed with
mystical syllables and words composed by either the Dalai Lāma or
Panchen Lāma. These are sold for large sums. It is said (Schlagintweit,
260) that such Phurbus form an important article of trade for the
Mongolian pilgrims returning from Tibet.

I was fortunate enough to meet with a remarkable specimen of a magical
weapon of this kind (called Phur-pa by Jäschke) made of metal, and
shaped like a dagger with three edges, one for each of the three classes
of demons inhabiting the three quarters. The handle is composed of a
Dorje (p. 322), and is surmounted by carvings of the heads of the three
most powerful Dragsheds. I here give a representation of it[161].

[Illustration: ]

It may be easily understood that among a people, steeped in
superstition, a man armed with such a weapon as this—composed of the
heads of three potent genii, a divine thunderbolt and a triple-edged
dagger—would be regarded as a match for the whole demon-host.

In Burma the tattooing of mystical squares, triangles and cabalistic
diagrams and figures on various parts of the body, seems to be regarded
as a sufficient substitute for the use of magical weapons, and is held
to be highly efficacious.

Obviously we may contrast the Christian armoury described by S. Paul
(Ephes. vi. 11), ‘the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit.’ We
might also contrast the words of Christ, ‘Rejoice not, that the spirits
are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written
in heaven’ (S. Luke x. 20).

                      _Domestic Rites and Usages._

I now pass on to domestic rites and usages, which are as numerous and
important in Buddhist countries as in India. It is said, indeed, that in
Tibet and Mongolia no one is so poor as not to possess an altar in his
dwelling on which he daily lays his offerings, and before which he
performs devotions.

In Ceylon and Burma certain ceremonies take place soon after the birth
of a child. Mr. Scott, describing those in Burma, says that a fortnight
after birth a fortunate day and hour is fixed by an astrologer for the
naming of the infant. A feast is prepared, and all the friends and
relations of the family are invited. ‘The child’s head is usually washed
for the first time on this day,’ and some one suggests a name.

The name actually given appears to be a matter of choice, but this is
not so. The consonants of the language are divided into groups, which
are assigned to the days of the week, Sunday having all the vowels to
itself. ‘It is an invariable rule in all respectable families that the
child’s name must begin with one of the letters belonging to the day on
which it was born, but within these limits any name may be chosen.’ A
common belief is that, according to the day of the week (or rather the
constellation representing that day) on which a child is born, so will
its character be.

In this way every person’s probable characteristics may be inferred. For
example, a man born on a Monday is likely to be jealous; on Tuesday,
honest; on Wednesday, hot-tempered—but soon appeased—this characteristic
being intensified under the influence of Rāhu[162].

Then, again, if born on a Thursday, a man will probably be mild; on
Friday, talkative; on Saturday, ill-tempered and quarrelsome; on Sunday,
parsimonious. Saturday is a bad day for everything. Not only has every
day its special character and its fixed letters, but there is also
(according to Mr. Scott) a particular animal assigned to symbolize
it—for example, a guinea-pig stands for Friday; a dragon for Saturday; a
tiger for Monday—and red or yellow wax candles are made in the forms of
these animals to be offered at the Pagoda by the pious. Each worshipper
offers the creature-candle representing his birth-day.

Then a careful note is made of the exact hour of birth, with the
important object of drawing up the child’s horoscope. This may be
delayed till the fifth or sixth year, and a Brāhman astrologer may be
called in for the purpose. He records the year, the month, the day and
hour at which the child was born; the name given to it and the planet in
the ascendant at the moment. All this is scratched neatly on a palm-leaf
with a metal style. On the other side are a number of cabalistic squares
and numbers from which future calculations may be made.

A person born on Monday remains under the influence of the moon for
fifteen years. Then he passes under Mars for eight years. At the age of
twenty-three Mercury presides over him, and so on through all the
planets to the end of his life, which may be protracted to 108 years.

Rāhu, and especially Saturn, have a particularly sinister influence. A
man does most of the stupid and wicked things in his life while he is in
Saturn’s house. Other details will be found in ‘Shway Yoe.’

The horoscope is carefully kept by the parents until the child is old
enough to take care of it himself, and thenceforward it is guarded as a
valuable possession.

All these Buddhist customs have their counterpart in the ceremonies of
Brāhmanism and Hindūism.

For example, the Hindūs have their birth-ceremonies (Jāta-karman), and
their name-giving ceremony (Nāma-karaṇa[163]), and the latter is a
solemn religious act fraught with momentous consequences in its bearing
on a child’s future. Hence Hindū boys are generally called after some
god, or the name indicates that the child is the god’s servant.
Horoscopes, too, are as important in India as in Buddhist

In India, too, all Brāhman boys go through the ceremony of tonsure and
cutting off the hair.

Among the Buddhists of Burma a boy is sent to the monastery school at
about the age of eight. Before he can become a novice he has to undergo
the hair-abscission ceremony, followed by shaving every fort-night (as
before described). But those who afterwards elect to lead a secular life
wear long hair, to wash which is regarded as a kind of religious
ceremonial, and only to be performed about once a month, partly, says
Mr. Scott, because the washing of a Burman’s luxuriant hair takes a long
time, and partly because too frequent ablutions ‘would disturb and
irritate the good genius who dwells in the head and protects the man.’

It is considered unlucky to wash the head on a Monday, Friday, or
Saturday; and ‘parents sending their boy to a monastery must remember
not to cut his hair off on a Monday, or on a Friday, or on his

It is noticeable that a kind of baptism is practised in Tibet and
Mongolia. It is usual to sprinkle children with consecrated water, or
even to immerse them entirely on the third or tenth day after birth.
This is called Khrus-sol (according to Jäschke).

The priest consecrates the water by reciting some formula, while candles
and incense are burning. He then dips the child three times, blesses it,
and gives it a name. After performing the ceremony, he draws up the
infant’s horoscope.

Then, so soon as the child can walk and talk, a second ceremony takes
place, when prayers are said for its happy life, and an amulet or little
bag is hung round its neck, filled with spells and charms against evil
spirits and diseases.

The use of _amulets_ (Sanskṛit kavaća), charms and spells in Northern
Buddhist countries is universal.

At Dārjīling I noticed that among the crowds of persons who frequented
the bazaar—many of whom were travellers from Tibet, Nepāl, Bhutān, and
Sikkim—almost every one wore an amulet, or a string of amulets round the
neck. Most of these amulets are simply ornamental boxes or receptacles
for supposed relics of saints, or for little images, or pictures, or for
prayer-formularies, worn like breast-plates or phylacteries. They are
composed of wood, bone, and not infrequently of beautifully-worked
filigree silver, embossed and ornamented with turquoise. The shape is
sometimes square, sometimes circular or curved, and brought round to a
point[165]. I purchased several specimens, but the vendor of any amulet
in actual use invariably removed the contents before consenting to part
with it. Here is a specimen of one of exceptionally beautiful design
which was given to me by Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās. It was taken from the
neck of a woman in the bazaar, but not purchased without much

[Illustration: ]

We pass on next to the Buddhist _marriage-ceremony_. This in Ceylon,
Burma, Tibet, Mongolia, and indeed in all Buddhist countries, is
properly a purely civil contract witnessed only by parents and
guardians. We have already pointed out, that true Buddhism considers
celibacy to be the only sure means of attaining real sanctity of
character. Consistently with this idea, it has not prescribed any
religious ceremony to be performed by monks or priests, as a condition
of the validity of marriage[166].

Hence among Buddhists the ceremony of marriage is very simple, and has
no religious character, or at any rate no complicated religious
observances connected with it, as among the Hindūs[167]. In fact the
celibate monks of true Buddhism would be much scandalized if they were
asked to take part in the celebration of a wedding, or even to ratify it
by their presence.

The principal ceremony consists in a feast given by the bridegroom or
his parents, to which all the relations, friends, and neighbours are
invited. Nevertheless, in most Buddhist countries in the present day the
monks manage to have some remunerative work to do in connexion with
weddings; for their business is to fix the most auspicious days for the
performance of the ceremony, in return for which they receive offerings
of various kinds. We know that in India astrology is a chief factor in
all marriage-arrangements. Similarly in most Buddhist countries no
wedding can take place till the astrologer, who is usually a
monk-priest, has been consulted as to lucky and unlucky combinations,
and the benign or baleful aspects of planets and stars. For example, in
Burma, Saturdays and Thursdays are pronounced unlucky days, and it would
be the height of imprudence to marry in certain months of the year.
Then, again, a woman born on a Friday would be guilty of utter folly if
she married a man born on a Monday, seeing that one or other would soon
die[168]; and so on through a long list of auspicious and inauspicious

It should, however, be set down to the credit of Buddhism that wives and
daughters are not imprisoned in Zanānas, as among Hindūs and
Muhammadans. I was present at an evening-party given by a rich native of
Ceylon, when the ladies of the family were introduced to the European
guests, and conversed freely with the rest of the company. Nor is the
marriage of mere boys and girls insisted on in Buddhist countries as in
India. The bridegroom is seldom of a less age than eighteen or nineteen.

Then, again, not only births and marriages, but illnesses and death are
in the present day a source of revenue to the Buddhist monkhood.

First, as to _sickness_.

In Ceylon, when any one is dangerously ill, the monk-priest is summoned
from the neighbouring Vihāra, after first sending offerings of flowers,
oil, and food. Then a temporary preaching-place is erected near the
house, and all the relatives and friends, and if possible the sick man
himself, listen to the reading of the Law (Baṇa) for about six hours.
The part especially read and intoned is the Ratna-valiya section of the
Pirit (see p. 317). After the Baṇa a number of offerings are given to
the reciting priest, including a piece of calico, one end of which is
held by the priest, and the other by the sick man. Then the priest
pronounces a benediction, and says words to the following effect:—‘By
reverence do the wise secure health, by almsgiving do they lay up
treasures for themselves[169].’

When the sick man is likely to die the priest repeats the Three-refuge
formula (p. 78), the five commandments (p. 126), and the Sati-paṭṭhāna
Sutta (p. 49).

In Burma, if an epidemic happens to break out in any village, the people
begin by painting the supposed figure of an evil spirit on a common
earthenware water-pot, and then solemnly smashing it to pieces at sunset
with a heavy stick[170]. Then as soon as it gets dark all the villagers
shout, yell, shriek, and make every kind of deafening din, with the hope
of frightening away the evil spirit who has caused the disease. This
process is continued for three nights, and if no good result follows the
monk-priests are called in from the monastery. They recite the ten
precepts, chant the Law up and down the road, and intone a particular
sermon of the Buddha, by the preaching of which he once drove away a
pestilence. These means are, of course, not effective unless abundant
alms and gifts are bestowed upon the monastery.

According to Koeppen and Huc the art of medicine in Northern Buddhist
countries is practised exclusively by the Lāmas. The theory is that
there are 140 different maladies, and that most of these are caused by
devils. The monk-priests are the sole doctors, and a sick person can
only be cured by them. One process is simple. It begins by the Lāma
doctor writing the name of a remedy upon a morsel of paper, moistening
it with saliva, and rolling it into a pill. The patient takes the paper
pellet with as much faith as if he were swallowing the veritable drug.
Many Mongols believe that ‘it is precisely the same, whether you swallow
a drug or its written appellation.’ Then, ‘if the patient be poor, the
devil is a little one, and may be dislodged by a few prayers; but, if he
be rich, the case is different; fine clothes, handsome boots, or even a
good horse must be presented, or he will not consent to turn out.’

A very effective medicine may be composed of the bones of some pious
Lāma ground into a powder. This may be given alone or in combination
with other substances.

It appears to be essential that the prayers recited on these occasions
should be accompanied by terrific noises. M. Huc relates a story of an
old woman—the aunt of a certain chief—who was one day attacked by
intermittent fever. The Lāma, of course, announced that a devil had
possession of her body; and so in the evening he and eight other Lāmas
began operations for its expulsion. First they made a little figure or
manikin of dried herbs, which they called the devil of intermittent
fevers. This they stuck upright in the tent of the sick woman. Then at
eleven o’clock at night the Lāmas ranged themselves at the back of the
tent, armed with bells, tambourines, conch-shells, and other noisy
instruments. Nine members of the family closed the circle in front,
crouching on the ground, while the old woman remained seated on her
heels in front of the manikin. Next, ‘at a given signal, the orchestra
performed an overture capable of scaring away the most imperturbable and
obstinate devil, while all the secular assistants beat time with their
hands to the hubbub of the instruments and the howling of the prayers.
When this demoniacal music was over, the chief Lāma began his exorcisms,
scattering millet seeds around as he proceeded; sometimes speaking low,
sometimes in stentorian tones. Then, appearing to throw himself into a
passion, he addressed animated appeals, with violent gesticulation, to
the manikin.’ Finally, after further incantations, he gave a signal; the
Lāmas thundered out a noisy chorus, the instruments added to the din,
and the members of the family rushing out in file, made the circuit of
the tent, striking it frantically with stakes, and uttering terrific
cries. Finally, the chief Lāma and his assistants, after joining in the
yells, set fire to the manikin. This ended the ceremony; the demon being
compelled to beat a retreat.

Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās has given an account of a somewhat similar
ceremony in Tibet performed by some Lāmas to cure him of a sickness. An
image representing the patient, and supposed to resemble him, was
constructed, and a suit of his clothes placed in front of it, together
with portions of his usual food and drink. Two Lāmas then muttered
mystic sentences, ringing a bell, waving a Dorje (see p. 323 of these
Lectures), and twisting their fingers and hands into the mysterious
shapes called Mudrā (p. 241). Next they broke out into alternate
exhortations and threats, and at the conclusion of the ceremony the
officiating priests supplicated the lord of death (Yama) to accept the
image in place of the moribund man.

On another occasion, when Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās was seriously ill in
Tibet, an effective method of curing his disease was proposed to him,
and, with his consent, actually carried out. This mainly consisted in
the ransoming of fish-life. A certain Lāma started off for a fisherman’s
village, and in a short time returned in a high state of satisfaction.
He had saved the lives of five hundred fishes for the benefit of the
sick man. The merit of this deed was credited to the patient on his
repeating the following prayer:—

‘By virtue of my having ransomed the lives of these animals, let health,
longevity, prosperity, and happiness perpetually accrue to me.’

In the same way in Burma, in times of great heat and drought, when the
ponds and tanks appear to be on the point of drying up, it is held to be
a work of enormous merit to rescue fish, put them in jars, and transport
them alive to the rivers. (See Scott’s ‘Burman,’ ii. 43.)

Similarly a bird-catcher will sell live birds to pious persons, that
they may gain merit by releasing them.

We pass on, in the next place, to the usages and ceremonies common at

If a man’s soul is to be separated from his body properly and
peacefully, so as not to hurt the survivors, and in a manner likely to
cause a happy re-birth for himself, alms must be bestowed on the
monk-priests, and their presence must be invited for the repetition of
prayers. In Ceylon and Burma monks go to the houses of mourners and
repeat portions of the Pirit (see p. 317).

In Tibet the priest not only recites prayers but compresses the skull
till it appears to crack, or else the hair is torn off and a little
incision is made, to enable the dying man’s soul to escape. The priest
then settles what method of burial is to be followed, and the place, day
and hour, all of which depend on astrological combinations, known only
to him.

The method of disposing of a dead body differs in all Buddhist countries
according to station, condition, rank, and wealth.

In Ceylon the bodies of monks are all burnt, and the cremation
ceremonies are carried out under decorated arches or canopies, which are
never removed, but left to crumble away.

In Burma the cremation of a monk distinguished for sanctity is an affair
of great state and ceremonial. The body (see Mr. Scott’s ‘Burman,’ ii.
331) is first embalmed, and next tightly wrapped in white cloth, which
is varnished and afterwards covered with gold-leaf. The corpse thus
gilded is placed in an unclosed inner coffin, and left exposed to view
for a considerable time. When fastened down, the inner coffin is covered
with gold-leaf, like the body. An outer sarcophagus is then prepared,
and painted to represent scenes from the lives of the Buddha. This is
placed in a building erected for the purpose, and there the body lies in
state for several months, while a constant line of pilgrim-worshippers
pass in and out. In process of time, when enough money for the expenses
has been collected, a grand cremation takes place under a lofty canopy,
which on special occasions may be fifty or sixty feet high. The calcined
bones are then reverentially collected, and either buried near the
temple or pounded and made up into a paste, with which an image of the
Buddha is constructed for worship in the monastery.

In Tibet the bodies of the Grand Lāmas are generally embalmed and
preserved in monuments or Stūpas. Other Lāmas and monks distinguished
for sanctity are burnt, and their ashes are either distributed as
relics, or preserved in idols or in small Dāgabas. Kings, princes, and
great men are also burnt, and of course with much ceremony and
repetition of prayers. Then for a long time afterwards prayers continue
to be recited by the priests, the object being to propitiate Yama, god
of Death, and to deliver the deceased from the possible purgatorial
torments of one of the hells. It is said that this repetition of prayers
is prolonged, in the case of the rich, for seven weeks, and in the case
of princes, for a whole year.

Mr. J. Ware Edgar, C.S.I., in his interesting Report of his visit to
Sikkim in 1873, gives a description of the remarkable funeral ceremonies
performed on the occasion of the death of the Rājā of Sikkim’s sister
(see p. 62), which I here abbreviate:—

  The Rājā’s sister had died a few days after his return to Choombi. The
  body had been buried at Choombi, but her clothes had been sent to
  Toomlong, and her soul was supposed to accompany them. There a
  lay-figure meant to represent her, dressed in her costume as a nun,
  and wearing a gilt mitre and a long white veil, was placed on a kind
  of throne to the right of the great altar in the principal chapel.
  Before the figure was a table, on which were different kinds of food.
  On another table were various things which had belonged to her, while
  on a third, 108 little brass lamps were arranged in rows. Some days
  afterwards the lay-figure of the nun was taken to Pemyangchi. There,
  for three days the figure was seated before the altar, and the monks
  chanted the litanies for her soul, which had accompanied her clothes
  from Choombi. On the third day towards evening the tea-cup of the nun
  was freshly filled with tea, and all the monks solemnly drank tea with
  her. The monks chanted the litanies, and the Head Lāma went through
  some elaborate ceremonies. At about nine o’clock the chanting ceased,
  and the Lāma made a long speech to the soul of the nun, in which he
  told her that all that could be done to make her journey to another
  world easy, had been done, and that now she would have to go alone and
  unassisted to appear before the King and Judge of the dead.

  ‘You will have to leave your robes, your mitre, and your veil,’ said
  he, ‘and clad in the black garment of your sins, or in the shining
  garment of your good deeds, you will be shown the mirror of the just
  King. Your gold and silver, your rank, your good name will not help
  you, when your good deeds are weighed against your evil deeds, in the
  scales of the King. If you have done ill, you will be punished; but if
  your sins are found to be lighter than your good works, your reward
  will be great indeed.’

  When the Lāma had finished his address, some of the monks took down
  the lay-figure and undressed it, while others formed a procession and
  conducted the soul of the nun into the darkness outside the monastery,
  with a discordant noise of conch-shells, thigh-bone trumpets, Tibetan
  flutes, gongs, cymbals, tambourines, and drums.

In Japan small portions of the calcined remains (often not larger than
peas) are preserved in globular glass shrines, and then duly honoured
and worshipped.

The method of disposing of the dead bodies of the laity and of the
common people is generally much more simple. In most Buddhist countries
laymen are buried, and the priests lead the processions to the grave. In
Ceylon, the laity are certainly, as a rule, buried and not burnt.

In Burma rich laymen are also generally buried, and, according to Mr.
Scott, the funeral is a grand affair.

The body is swathed in new white cotton cloth, leaving the face
uncovered. A piece of gold or silver is placed between the teeth to
serve as ferry-money over the Buddhist Styx—the terrible river of death
which all deceased persons are compelled to pass. This river is clearly
the counterpart of the Vaitaraṇī of the Hindūs (see ‘Brāhmanism and
Hindūism,’ p. 297).

If the dead man’s family is poor, a copper coin or even a betel nut will
suffice. Next the monks are sent for, their immediate presence being
necessary to keep off the evil spirits who always swarm near a corpse.
After an interval the body is placed in a coffin, which is sometimes
gilded and placed on a bier under a canopy. When the right day arrives
for the funeral, a long procession is formed, with a number of priests
in proportion to the amount of alms bestowed, and a crowd of relations,
friends, and neighbours. Occasionally those who carry the bier stop and
go through a sort of solemn dance, while mournful tunes are played by
the musicians and funeral dirges are sung. The body is finally buried in
a cemetery to the west of the town or village. A funeral must never go
to the north or to the east. The ceremony concludes by alms to the
priests, who in return intone the commandments and other portions of the
Law in Pāli. After the funeral, great festivities go on in the
family-abode for the benefit of the crowds who come to offer condolence.
Then the presence of the priests is again needed, and has to be paid for
by alms to the monastery, or the evil spirits, who are sure to hang
about, cannot be got rid of. In some parts of Burma the cremation of
rich laymen is not uncommon, and the ashes are either deposited in
Dāgabas—that is, in small Stūpas or Pagodas[171]—or are pounded into
paste and made into miniature Stūpas (p. 506) or into small images of
the Buddha for worship at the domestic altar.

In Tibet and Mongolia the corpses of the laity, especially of the poor,
are often exposed in the fields, in deserts, or on mountain tops, or
rocks, or in lonely ravines, or sometimes in open places enclosed for
the purpose. Occasionally they are covered with a thin layer of earth or
loose stones. Usually they are devoured by vultures, dogs, and other

It seems that in Lhāssa certain dogs are kept for that purpose[172]. A
class of professional men exist there, whose business it is to cut up
dead bodies, and throw the flesh piecemeal to dogs and vultures. Even
the bones are sometimes pounded, and the dust, being mixed with flour,
is given to be devoured. The strange thing is, that this kind of burial
is thought desirable, and even honourable. To be eaten up by sacred dogs
after death is productive of great merit, and leads to re-birth in
higher forms. Dogs are the mausoleums of Lhāssa.

According to M. Huc, a common funeral ceremony among the Mongols
consists in carrying the corpse to the summit of a mountain, or to the
bottom of a ravine. The body is walled up in a sort of kiln of a
pyramidal form, with a small door at the bottom, and an opening at the
top to maintain a current of air, and allow the smoke to escape. During
the combustion the Lāmas recite prayers. When the corpse is consumed,
the kiln is demolished. Then the bones are collected and carried to the
Grand Lāma, who reduces them to a powder, and, after adding an equal
quantity of wheaten flour, kneads the whole carefully, and, with his own
hands, fashions a number of cakes of various sizes. These are afterwards
placed in a pyramidal Stūpa, which has been built beforehand in some
auspicious place.

The soil of the famous monastery of the Five Towers in the province of
Shan Si, is said to be so holy that those interred there are sure to
effect a good transmigration. In the deserts of Tartary, Mongols are
frequently seen carrying on their shoulders the bones of their kindred,
and journeying to the Five Towers—there to purchase, almost at its
weight in gold, a little surface of ground whereon to erect a small
Stūpa. Some of them undertake a toilsome journey of a whole year’s
duration, to reach this holy spot (see p. 435).

Burial in rivers, which is highly prized by the Hindūs, is not in favour
among Buddhists. Only very poor people allow their dead to be thrown
into rivers, though this is the only kind of Buddhist burial mentioned
by Alberūnī (Sachau, ii. 169). Buddhism, from the first, repudiated the
Hindū funeral ceremonies called Ṡrāddhas, which are still a great
incubus on the people. The poorest man in India, if he be of high caste,
cannot perform a Ṡrāddha for a relation for a less sum than forty
rupees, given in fees to the priests. Buddhism did good service in
delivering the people from this burden, but in Northern countries it
established something similar in the Bardo ceremony (p. 334).

                        _Formularies of Prayer._

With regard to prayer-formularies, there is in modern times a good deal
of difference between Southern and Northern Buddhist countries. We have
seen that the three-refuge formulary was the sole prayer of early
Buddhists. Certain orthodox men whom I met in Ceylon, maintained to me
that this is the only legitimate form of prayer that ought to be used
even in the present day. It is certainly a form which is accepted and
employed by all Buddhists of whatever nationality.

Tsong Khapa, it is said, established at Lhāssa an annual
prayer-congregation called Monlam Ćhenpo (see p. 386). But the most
common prayer used in Tibet is a mere formulary, the constant repetition
of which is one of the most amazing instances of the tyranny of
superstition to be found in any part of the world.

It consists of the six-syllabled sentence, Om maṇi padme Hūm, ‘Om! the
Jewel in the Lotus! Hūm!’

This prayer, or rather mystical sentence, is supposed to have been
composed by Padma-pāṇi (Avalokiteṡvara), and to have reference to his
own manifestation as the Patron-Saint of Tibet[173]. It is sometimes
called the Maṇi or ‘Jewel’ prayer, and, if brevity is a valuable
quality, its excellence is undeniable, since it consists of merely two
Sanskṛit words, between two mystical, untranslatable auspicious
ejaculations, Om and Hūm[174].

Doubtless the prayer really owes its origin to the close connexion which
sprang up between Northern Buddhism and Ṡaivism. The worshippers of Ṡiva
have always used (compare p. 240) similar mystical sentences and
syllables called Dhāraṇīs, to which a kind of miraculous efficacy is
attributed. In all probability an occult meaning underlies the
‘Jewel-lotus’ formula, and my own belief is that the majority of those
who repeat it are ignorantly doing homage to the self-generative power
supposed to inhere in the universe—a power pointed at by the popular
Sāṅkhya theory of the union of Prakṛiti and Purusha, and by the
universal worship of the Liṅga and Yoni throughout India[175]. No
thoughtful person can have travelled much in India without being
impressed with this.

At all events, whatever be its origin and meaning, no other prayer used
by human beings in any quarter of the globe is repeated so often. Every
Tibetan believes it to be a panacea for all evil, a compendium of all
knowledge, a treasury of all wisdom, a summary of all religion. But if
you ask Northern Buddhists to give you the reason for this belief, very
few are able to give an intelligible reply. According to the most
learned doctors of philosophy who are to be found in Tibetan
monasteries, it is certainly addressed to their patron deity
Avalokiteṡvara, and the real secret of its efficacy lies in the fact,
that each one of its six syllables has a potent influence on some one of
the six _Gatis_ or courses of being—that is to say, on some one of the
six kinds of transmigration or transformation through which every living
individual has to pass (see p. 121)[176].

The oftener, therefore, this mystical formula is repeated the shorter
will be an individual’s course (gati) through some of these six forms of
existence, every one of which involves misery or evil. Or it may be that
by repeating it he will be able to escape some of the six existences

Strange indeed as it may appear to us, it is impossible to shake the
faith of a Lāmistic Buddhist in the absolutely infallible efficacy of
his six favourite mystic syllables. He repeats them, not at all as if he
were praying in a Christian sense, but as if he were a farmer intent on
planting the very best seed in the most productive soil, and watering it
incessantly according to the most scientific principles of irrigation. A
bountiful harvest is absolutely certain to reward his efforts.

It need not, therefore, surprise us if these six syllables are murmured
morning, noon, and night, by every man, woman, and child, wherever the
Lāmistic Hierarchy has extended. And, if not repeated by the voice, an
incessant stream of repetition—an incessant scattering of the six mystic
seeds—is kept going by the hand.

The words are written or printed on roll within roll of paper and
inscribed in cylinders, which, when made to revolve either by educated
monks or by illiterate laymen, have the same efficacy as if they were
actually said or repeated. The revolutions are credited as so much
prayer-merit, or, to speak more scientifically, as so much
_prayer-force_, accumulated and stored up for the benefit of the person
who revolves them.

The cylinder is generally made of metal, the prayer being engraved on
the outside, as well as written on paper and inserted inside. It is held
in the right hand and whirled round, like a child’s toy, by means of a
handle in a particular direction (with the sun). If made to revolve the
other way, its rotations will be set down to the debtor rather than the
creditor side of the owner’s account. Here is a drawing of one of
several hand-cylinders (commonly called prayer-wheels or prayer-mills;
Tibetan, Ćhos-kor or Ćhos-kyi or Khor-lo), obtained by me at Dārjīling:—

[Illustration: ]

Then, again, the words of the prayer are written or printed millions and
millions of times on rolls or strips of paper, and enclosed in much
larger barrel-like cylinders, which are set up in temples, chapels,
monasteries, corridors, passages, houses, villages, by the road side,
and in every possible corner, for the convenience of the mass of the
people who are too ignorant to read, and too indolent to engage in
continuous oral repetition[177].

It sometimes happens that quarrels arise from rival claims in regard to
the use of such prayer-cylinders. In illustration of this an amusing
story is told by the French missionaries:—

One day when they happened to be passing a praying-machine, set up near
a monastery, they saw two Lāmas engaged in a violent quarrel; and, as it
appeared, all on account of their zeal for their prayers. The fact was
that one Lāma had come, and, having set the barrel in motion for his own
benefit, was retiring modestly and complacently to his own abode, when
happening to turn his head to enjoy the spectacle of the wheel’s pious
revolutions, he saw the other Lāma stop it, and set it whirling again
for himself. Indignant, of course, at this unwarrantable interference
with his own devotions, he ran back, and in his turn put a stop to his
rival’s piety, and both of them continued this kind of demonstration for
some time, till at last losing patience they proceeded to menaces, and
then to blows, when an old Lāma came out of a neighbouring cell, and
brought the difficulty to a peaceful termination by himself twirling the
prayer-barrel for the benefit of both parties.

On the occasion of my visiting Dārjīling in 1884, I was desirous of
judging for myself of the method of using these remarkable instruments
of religion. I therefore, soon after my arrival, walked to a Buddhist
temple near the town. There I found several large barrel-like cylinders
set up close together in a row at the entrance, so that no one might
pass in without giving them at least one twirl, or by a rapid sweep of
his hand might set them all twirling at once. Inside the
entrance-portico a shrivelled and exceptionally hideous old woman was
seated on the ground. In her left hand she held a small portable
prayer-cylinder, which she kept in perpetual revolution. In her right
hand was a cord connected with a huge barrel-like cylinder, which with
some exertion she made to rotate on its axis by help of a crank, while
she kept muttering _Om maṇi pamme Hūm_ (so she pronounced it) with
amazing rapidity. In this way she completed at least sixty oral
repetitions every minute, without reckoning the infinite number of
rotatory repetitions accomplished simultaneously by her two hands. And
all this was done with an appearance of apathy and mental vacuity in her
withered face, which was so distressing and melancholy to behold, that
the spectacle will never be effaced from my memory. In truth the
venerable dame seemed to be sublimely unconscious that any effort of
thought or concentration of either mind or heart was needed to make
prayer of any value at all.

And the men of Tibet are quite as much slaves to this superstition as
the women. A friend of mine when staying at Dārjīling had some
conversation on serious subjects with an apparently sensible native, and
observed with surprise that all the while he was engaged in talking with
the Buddhist, the latter continued diligently whirling a prayer-cylinder
with great velocity. My friend, being unacquainted with Tibetan customs,
came away from his colloquy under the impression that Buddhists regard
Christians as dangerous lunatics possessed with evil spirits, which
require specially active measures in the way of exorcism. It did not
occur to him that the Buddhist was merely intent on redeeming every
instant of time for the purpose of storing up merit by prayer.

And the hold which this extraordinary superstition has upon the
population is still more forcibly impressed on the traveller who
penetrates into the regions beyond Dārjīling. He may there see immense
prayer-cylinders set up like mills, and kept in incessant revolution,
not by the will or hand of man, but by the blind, unconscious force of
wind and water.

It is even said that great mechanical ingenuity is displayed by the
monks in some parts of Tibet, their inventive powers being stimulated by
a burning desire to economize time and labour in the production of
prayer-merit by machinery.

An intricate arrangement of huge wheels and other wheels within wheels,
like the works of a clock, is connected with rows of cylinders and made
to revolve rapidly by means of heavy weights. An infinite number of
prayers are repeated in this manner by a single monk, who takes a minute
or two to wind up the complicated spiritual machinery, and then hastens
to help his brothers in industrial occupations—the whole fraternity
feeling that the ingenious contrivance of praying by clock-work enables
them to promote the common weal by making the most of both worlds. The
story goes that, in times of special need and emergency, additional
weights are attached to the machinery, and, of course, increased cogency
given to the rotatory prayers. It is to be hoped that when European
inventions find their way across the Himālayas, steam-power may not be
pressed into the service of these gross superstitions.

The use of prayer-wheels of various kinds is also common in Japan, as
described in Sir Edward Reed’s work.

But praying by machinery is not all. Beneficial results are believed to
accrue through the carving of the all-powerful six syllables on every
conceivable object.

The traveller, as he walks along, sees the mystic words impressed on the
stones at his feet, on rocks, doors, monuments, and trees. Indeed, rich
and zealous Buddhists maintain at their own expense, companies of Lāmas
for the sole object of propagating the Maṇi-padme formula. These strange
missionaries may occasionally be encountered, chisel and hammer in hand,
traversing field, hill, dale, and desert, their only mission being to
engrave the sacred six syllables on every rock in their path (Huc, ii.

Absolutely incalculable is the grand total of Maṇi-padmes thus placed to
the credit of the world of living beings during the short space of
twenty-four hours. Yet, at the end of the New Year’s festival in Tibet,
the chief Lāma will sometimes pretend to proclaim the exact sum of
mystic syllables supposed to have been repeated during its continuance,
amounting perhaps to billions upon billions, for the consolation of all
those faithful Buddhists who, oppressed by the evils of life, are
seeking for some antidote.

But the ‘jewel-lotus’ is not the only antidote. There are other short
prayer-formularies, such as Om Vajra-pāṇi-Hūm (addressed to the
Bodhi-sattva Vajra-pāṇi, p. 201), and other still more mystical
ejaculations (such as Om ah Hūm); and magical sentences, called Dhāranī,
and profoundly significant monosyllables, such as Ram, Phaṭ, Hṛim, Hṛīm,
Ṛim, Ṛīm, Hṛīs.

And here in connexion with the ubiquity of prayer-formularies, we must
not omit to notice the _Praying-walls_, that is, the long stone walls or
banks called (from the ‘jewel-lotus’ prayer inscribed upon them)
_Maṇi_[178], or in the provincial dialect Man Dang (variously Man-dong,

These remarkable stone-structures, peculiar to Lāmism, are erected by
the side of high-roads, and in frequented thoroughfares, with the simple
object of aiding in the accumulation of prayer-merit. Some are only a
few feet long, six feet high, and from six to twelve feet broad; others
have been met with nearly 1000 yards long, with pyramidal Stūpas[179] or
Ćaityas (in Tibetan Ćhortens) at each end. Inserted in these walls are
slabs on which the six-syllabled, and other prayer-formulas, and
sometimes images of saints, are carved and dedicated as votive
offerings. Passing travellers acquire merit by keeping them on their
left side[180], so that they may follow the letters of the inscription
without necessarily repeating the words[181].

In the same connexion we may advert to _Praying-flags_ and
_Praying-staffs_. And I may mention that, while staying at Dārjīling, I
visited a village to which a monastery is attached, and, on approaching
the spot, was surprised to see the whole neighbourhood studded with
poles from which long flags were flying. On the tops of the poles were
curious ornaments like caps, made of coloured cloth with flounces. I
naturally supposed that I had arrived on a gala day, and that at least a
great Lāma or other high functionary was expected, perhaps to lay the
first stone of some new building connected with the monastery. On
inquiry, however, I ascertained that there was nothing unusual about the
appearance of the village, which was merely praying, according to
custom, by means of its flag-staffs. Every time the wind, which happened
to be blowing fresh, extended the long flags, a vast number of prayers
were credited to the inhabitants who were themselves all absent, and
probably hard at work either in the fields or at Dārjīling.

I managed to obtain facsimiles of some of the flags. On them are
inscribed various versions of the inevitable Maṇi-padme formulary,
together with figures of the ‘flying-horse’ (Lungta, strictly rLuṅ-rta,
‘wind-horse’)[182] and other symbols, such as those of the Norbu
gem[183] and of the Phurbu—which are held to be peculiarly efficacious
in warding off evil spirits or neutralizing the diseases inflicted by
them. Indeed in most cases these flags are regarded by the peasantry as
talismans or charms to protect the village from the malice of
mischievous ghosts and demons, believed to haunt the atmosphere and
swarm everywhere around.

Here are some of the mystic formularies inscribed on my flags. They
resemble Ṡaiva Mantras and Dhāraṇīs—that is, mystical words or sentences
used as spells:—

Om maṇi padme Hūm Hring, Om Vajra-pāṇi Hūm, Om ā Hūm, Om Vāg-īṡvarī Mūm,
Sarva-siddhi-phala Hūm, Om muni muni mahā-muni, Ṡākya-muni svāhā, Om
vajra-sattva Hūm, Hulu hulu, Rulu rulu, Hūm Phaṭ, etc. (Compare my
‘Brāhmanism,’ etc. p. 197).

One flag in my possession has representations of four animals at the
four corners, viz. a Tiger, Lion, Eagle, and Dragon[184]—supposed to act
as guards against evil spirits. It also has an inscription in Tibetan
which was translated for me by Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās, thus:—

  ‘Reverence be to the Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas! Thus hath it been
  heard by me—once on a time when the adorable Ṡākya-Buddha was seated
  on a marble throne amid the gods of the Trayastriṉṡa heaven, Indra,
  the Prince of Gods, arrived there, after being completely defeated by
  the demons (Asuras). Seeing the Buddha, and throwing himself at his
  feet, he thus reverentially addressed him:—“Oh, my Lord, we the gods
  of the Trayastriṉṡa (heaven) have suffered a complete defeat at the
  hands of the demons; instruct us, what are we to do? how are we to
  triumph over our enemies?” To this the adorable one replied:—“O lord
  of gods, take this mystical formula called Gyatshar gyi tsemoi
  Punggyan, which, when repeated, will make you unconquerable. I, too,
  in my former existence of a Bodhi-sattva found it efficacious in
  securing victory.”’

It is of course a work of great merit to erect prayer-flags. They form a
conspicuous feature in every landscape throughout Tibet, fluttering on
hills and in valleys, by the roadside, and on the river bank, on walls
and on the tops of houses, in streets, squares, and gardens.

Then, again, the duty of a constant repetition of prayer-formulæ and
mystical sentences has led Northern Buddhists to employ _Rosaries_,
which were used both by Hindūs and Buddhists long before they came into
vogue in Europe. Without these necessary aids to devotion the long
rounds of repetition could not be accurately completed. In Northern
Buddhist countries rosaries ought to consist of 108 beads, which in
Tibet are said to represent the 108[185] volumes of the Kanjur. The same
number of beads is used by the worshippers of Vishṇu, who use the rosary
to aid them in repeating any one of the names of Vishṇu 800 times, the
eight additional beads marking each century of repetitions.

The commonest Buddhist rosaries are made of wood, or pebbles, or
berries, or bone[186]; the more costly, of turquoise, coral, amber, or
silver, or even of pearls and gems. If a rosary made of the bones of
some holy Lāma can be procured, it is of course prized above all others.
Sometimes a Dorje is appended. Northern Buddhist worshippers hold their
rosaries (like Roman Catholics) in the right hand, and move on the beads
with the left, and they will do this while talking together or even
quarrelling. In China and Japan Buddhist rosaries are often arranged in
two rings. They sometimes consist of enormous beads with relics in the
central bead.

Be it observed, however, that the prayer-formularies of Buddhists are
not always a mere unintelligible string of words and syllables,
muttered, iterated, and reiterated with the aid of rosaries. Their
prayers sometimes contain lofty sentiments. For instance, the two
vagabond mendicant monks seen by me at Dārjīling (described at p. 267)
went about chanting the following:—

  Reverence to all the noble Father-Lāmas! I address this to the feet of
  Duang our patron saint. I, Milaraspa[187], sing it. If the soul be
  white (enlightened), it must be white inside and outside. I am born in
  consequence of the works of this world. My earthly father is a sower
  of the seed of sin. My mother is the soil which receives the seed of
  sin. The child is myself tied to the father by the cord of sin. When
  you think of your earthly father, think also of your Lāma (spiritual
  father). Your earthly father is the source of your sin. Your Lāma
  frees you from sin[188].

But this song, which was repeated over and over again, invariably
concluded by a repetition of the inevitable six-syllabled formula. This
they repeated very rapidly, pronouncing it as usual, ‘Om maṇi-pamme
Hūm,’ and adding the mystical syllable Hṛīs. Their chanting was
accompanied by an incessant agitation of their ḍamaru or sacred drum,
which I was able to purchase. It is shaped like two hemispheres, joined
on their convex sides, and is encircled by sacred shells. It is sounded
by means of buttons attached to two pendulous strips of leather. The
sound made by these drums is out of all proportion to their size. It may
be heard at a great distance, and is thought to be highly efficacious in
frightening away evil spirits, who dislike loud noises of all kinds.
Here is an exact representation of the sacred drum now in my

[Illustration: ]

Again, Dr. Eitel (Lectures, iii.) mentions a manual of daily prayer used
by Northern Buddhists, which shows that striking words are sometimes
chanted, though they may be in Sanskṛit, and therefore unintelligible to
those who repeat them. For instance, the following:—

‘May all the Buddhas abide in me, instruct and enlighten me with
knowledge and perfection, free me, deliver me, cleanse me, purify me;
and may the whole universe be set free (Sarva-tathāgatā māṃ samāvasantu
buddhyā siddhyā bodhaya vibodhaya moćaya vimoćaya ṡodhaya viṡodhaya
samantaṃ moćaya)!’

Before, therefore, concluding this Lecture we must acknowledge, in
fairness to the inhabitants of Tibet, that much of the spirit of
religion may be mingled with their superstitions. The words of their
prayers are not merely repeated by machinery, written on paper, and
inscribed on rocks and stones. The voices of men and women, if not their
thoughts, often go heartily with uttered prayers. The note of prayer is
raised at all times and seasons—in the morning, mid-day, and evening, in
private and in public, at home or abroad, in the midst of labour and
idleness, in lying down and rising up, in moving about and keeping
still, on the march and on the battle-field, on mournful occasions, and
in the midst of joy and laughter. Nor is any one ashamed of praying
aloud or praying together in the open streets and squares of crowded

‘There exists,’ says the French Missionary (ii. 194), ‘a very touching
custom at Lhāssa. In the evening, just as the day is verging on its
decline, all the Tibetans stop business and meet together, men, women,
and children, according to their sex and age, in the principal parts of
the town and in the public squares. As soon as groups are formed, every
one kneels down, and they begin slowly and in undertones to chant

‘The religious concerts produced by these numerous assemblages create
throughout the town a solemn harmony, which operates forcibly on the
soul. The first time we witnessed this spectacle, we could not help
drawing a painful comparison between this pagan town, where all prayed
together, and the cities of Europe, where people would blush to make the
sign of the cross in public.’

                              LECTURE XIV.
                            _Sacred Places._

It was only to be expected, that Buddhism, closely connected as it was
with Brāhmanism and Hindūism, and yet in some respects opposed to those
systems, should have certain sacred places and hallowed regions, some of
which were identical with those of Brāhmanism and Hindūism, and some
peculiarly its own.

In the Mahā-parinibbāna-sutta (V. 16-22, Rhys Davids), we have the
following declaration:—

  ‘There are four places which the believing man should visit as a
  pilgrim with feelings of reverence and awe. The place at which he can
  say, “Here the Tathāgata (one of the names of Buddha, see p. 23) was
  born.” The place at which he can say, “Here the Tathāgata attained to
  perfect insight and enlightenment.” The place at which he can say,
  “Here the Law was first preached by the Tathāgata.” The place at which
  he can say, “Here the Tathāgata passed finally away in that utter
  passing away which leaves nothing whatever behind” (see p. 142, note,
  and p. 477).

  ‘And they who die, while with believing heart they journey on such
  pilgrimages, shall be reborn, in the happy realms of heaven.’

The Chinese traveller, Fā-hien, names the same four sacred places (Chap.
xxxi.), and says that the situation of the four great Stūpas (see p.
504) has been fixed, namely, (1) where the Buddha was born, (2) where he
attained wisdom, (3) where he began to turn the wheel of his Law, (4)
where he attained Pari-nirvāṇa (p. 142). Compare engraving of sculpture
opposite p. 477.

Elsewhere Fā-hien mentions two other sacred spots—the place where the
Buddha discomfited the advocates of erroneous doctrines[189], and the
place where he descended after ascending to the Trayastriṉṡa heaven (see
p. 414 of this volume), to preach the Law to his mother (Legge’s
Fā-hien, 68).

These places are all situated within the area of the sacred land of
Buddhism (see map opposite p. 21);—that is to say, the land which was
the scene of the Buddha’s itineration for forty-five years—a region
about 300 miles long, by nearly 200 broad, lying in Gangetic India,
within the modern provinces of Oudh and Behār (Bihār for Vihāra), or the
ancient kingdoms of Kosala and Magadha, and having Ṡrāvastī and
Buddha-Gayā for its limit towards the north and south respectively.

It will be interesting to note a few particulars in regard to these and
other sacred spots scattered throughout this region, in the following
order:—Kapila-vastu, Buddha-Gayā, Sārnāth near Benares, Rāja-gṛiha,
Ṡrāvastī (often written Ṡrāvasti), Vaiṡālī, Kauṡāmbi, Nālanda, Saṅkāṡya,
Sākeṭa (Ajūdhyā), Kanyā-kubja (Kanauj), Pāṭali-putra (Patnā), Kesarīya,
Kuṡi-nagara. The map opposite p. 21 will make these clear.

To begin with the Buddha’s birth-place (see p. 21).


Kapila-vastu (in Pāli, Kapila-vatthu) was long searched for by
archæologists in vain, but is now identified by General Sir A.
Cunningham and Mr. Carlleyle with Bhūila, a village surrounded by buried
brickwork in the Bastī district under the Nepāl mountains, about
twenty-five miles north-east from Faizābād, twelve north-west from
Bastī, and one hundred and twenty north of Benares. Both Fā-hien (Legge,
67) and Hiouen Thsang describe the neighbouring Lumbinī (Lavaṇī) garden,
where the Buddha was born from the right side of his mother (see p. 23,
and engraving opposite p. 477). They also mention the Arrow-fountain
where Gautama contended with others of his tribe in a shooting-match.
The legend is (p. 24) that he gained the victory by shooting an arrow
which passed through the target, buried itself in the ground, and caused
a clear spring of water to flow forth (Legge, 65-67; Beal, ii. 23, 24).
This name Ṡara-Kūpa, ‘arrow-fountain,’ has now been corrupted into
Sar-Kuia (or Sar-Kuhiya), and the spot has been identified (Cunningham’s
‘Reports of Survey,’ xii. 188).

It might have been expected that so sacred a place as Kapila-vastu—the
birth-place of Buddha and the scene of his education and youthful
exploits—would have been a favourite place of pilgrimage for Buddhists
through all time; but we learn from the two Chinese travellers, that
even in their day (from the fourth to the seventh century) the whole
neighbourhood was a desert and the town in ruins (Beal, i. 50; ii. 14).
The reason probably is that Hindūism gained the ascendancy over Buddhism
in certain localities, and that when this happened the Brāhmans took
pains to obliterate all traces of the rival creed. In later times
Muhammadan invasions contributed to the same result.


This was the place where the Buddha obtained perfect knowledge and
enlightenment after his sexennial course of fasting and meditation (see
p. 31 of this volume). It is situated six or seven miles from the town
of Gayā, and about sixty miles from Patnā and Bankipur. It is of all
Buddhist sacred places the most sacred, and abounds in profoundly
interesting memorials of early Buddhism.

Of course it was only to be expected that memorial structures intended
to mark important epochs in the life of the extinct Buddha, and
calculated to foster feelings of reverence in the minds of his
followers, should have been erected at this and various other holy spots
of ground consecrated by the presence and acts of Gautama on great
occasions. And of all such Buddhist monuments the ancient pyramidal
temple at Buddha-Gayā, which I visited in 1876 and 1884, is the most
striking and full of interest. Probably a monument of some kind was
erected there not very long after the Buddha’s death, and Hiouen Thsang
(see p. 399) mentions the temple built there by Aṡoka. The temple which
I saw on the occasion of my first visit was probably not built till the
middle of the second century, but was erected on the foundation of
Aṡoka’s temple, the ruins of which are traceable under the present
one[190]. The materials consist of bluish bricks, plastered with lime.
Hiouen Thsang states that in his time it had eleven stories and an
altitude of about 165 feet. It also had niches in each story, with a
golden statue of Buddha in each niche. The whole was crowned with the
representation of an Amalaka fruit (Emblic myrobalan) in gilt copper
(Cunningham’s Report, i. 5). The Burmese probably restored the temple
between 1035 and 1078 A.D. Though falling into decay in 1876, its
appearance struck me as exceedingly imposing,—even more so than that of
the grand pyramidal towers, built over the entrances to the great South
Indian temples[191]. The annexed engraving of this ancient monument as
it appeared in 1880, before its restoration, is from a photograph by Mr.
Beglar, taken on the spot, and enlarged by Mr. Austen.


Erected about the middle of the second century over the ruins of Aṡoka’s
         temple, at the spot where Gautama attained Buddhahood.

The original object of its erection seems to have been simply and solely
to serve as a monument, and not as a Dāgaba or receptacle for relics.
Very soon, however, monuments of this kind were made to enshrine images,
and were used as temples and places of worship. On inquiry I found that
the ancient image or images of Buddha, which once occupied the shrine in
the ancient Buddha-Gayā temple, had been destroyed or carried off at
different times[192], and that another stone image, believed to have
been carved in the eighth century, had been recently substituted for it.
It is remarkable that during the process of restoring the so-called
‘diamond throne,’ on which the statues were placed, a mass of fragments
of coral, sapphire, cornelian, crystal, ruby, pearl, ivory, and gold,
but no diamond, was found compacted or cemented together in front of

At the back of the raised terrace which surrounded the ancient temple
was a Pīpal or sacred fig-tree, fabled to be the very tree under which
Gautama sat during his course of profound meditation ending in
Buddhahood (see p. 31). Its vitality was on the wane, for its decaying
branches drooped over the parapet as if they sought, like those of a
neighbouring Banyan tree, to gain new life by rooting themselves in the
ground beneath. Some Buddhist pilgrims happened, at the moment of my
visit, to be worshipping at the temple, deputed by the King of Burma to
present offerings. I observed that they had brought packets of
gold-leaf, and had gilded the stone steps that surrounded the tree.
Having performed this act of homage, they sat near muttering their
prayer-formularies. No doubt they believed it to be the very Bodhi-tree
of Gautama’s time, the stem of which had been miraculously preserved,
though, had it been really so, the stem would have been about
twenty-three centuries old. Considering the well-known properties of the
Pīpal tree, it is possible that the worshippers were, after all, paying
honour to the descendant of the original tree, the fact, no doubt, being
that as each tree began to decay a new one was produced, by the dropping
of seeds into the old roots and the springing up of fresh scions.
Probably most of the sacred trees in the neighbourhood of Buddhist
temples throughout India, Ceylon, and Burma were originally raised from
seeds brought from the ancient Buddha-Gayā tree.


It is a received tradition that a shoot from this tree was taken by the
Missionary Mahendra, son of Aṡoka, in the third century B.C. to Ceylon,
and planted at Anurādha-pura, where its descendant still flourishes.

When I again visited Buddha-Gayā in 1884, I found that the old pyramidal
temple had been restored according (as is conjectured) to Hiouen
Thsang’s description of the Vihāra of his day.

It is said that the late Burmese government, not very long ago, spent
about thirty thousand rupees in building a wall round the temple and
making excavations with a view to its restoration. Then our government,
about 1881 or 1882, undertook the work, and I believe at least a lakh of
rupees has been spent in completing it. I give a representation of the
restored temple (as it appeared in 1884), from a photograph taken by Mr.
Beglar, and enlarged by Mr. Austen. Its present height is 176 feet, as
it has several tiers of the usual umbrella-like ornament, tapering to a
point at the summit[194].

The reconstruction of the temple led of course to the removal of the
sacred Bodhi-tree, but an effort was made to preserve the tree by
transplanting it to a neighbouring garden. No sooner was this done than
parties of pilgrims from Burma and Ceylon, in their pious desire to
maintain the vitality of the venerated tree, covered the stem with
gold-leaf, and, bringing Eau de Cologne and other scents, poured them
over the roots, at the same time manuring them with the contents of
boxes of sardines steeped in oil, choice biscuits, and other delicacies.
Of course, the result was the speedy destruction of the tree, root and
branch. To compensate for its loss, a new Pīpal tree was planted behind
the restored temple by Sir A. Cunningham in 1885. Another near the
temple appeared to be in a flourishing condition in 1884, and I observed
that both Hindū and Buddhist pilgrims met together there as worshippers
of the same sacred object.

The idol-shrine, under the principal tower of the restored temple,
consists of a small vaulted stone-chamber lighted only by the door. My
first act, on arriving at Gayā in 1884, was to descend to this
interesting spot. At the further end is the principal statue of Buddha,
seated, in the ‘witness-attitude’ (see p. 480)—on an altar-like throne
having five pilasters, and supposed to represent the original
Bodhi-maṇḍa. The pedestal of the statue is ornamented with
diamond-shaped carvings, and sculptures of two elephants and two

Inside the shrine, at the moment of my visit, were five Burmese pilgrims
from Mandelay. They were apparently monks, as all were habited in yellow
dresses. Each man bowed down before the image, with hands joined in
reverence, occasionally touching the ground with his forehead, and going
through a course of prayer-repetition by help of a rosary. After
worshipping for some time, they deposited a quantity of offerings, of a
somewhat miscellaneous description, in front of the image. I noticed
among other things, rice, fruit, vegetables, flowers of the Bel-tree,
tin boxes filled with sardines, Huntley and Palmer’s biscuits, bottles
of the genuine Maria Farina’s Eau de Cologne for watering the
sacred-trees, and a large number of packets of gold-leaf. I left the
shrine for two or three hours, and on returning found that the pilgrims
had crowned their act of worship by gilding the image with the contents
of these packets, reserving a supply for covering the other images in
the vicinity of the temple. The cost of the whole process must have been

At the back of the great Buddha-Gayā temple, I found a stone tablet for
offerings, recently brought and fixed horizontally in the ground by
another pilgrim who was from Colombo in Ceylon. It bore an inscription
indicating that the slab had been placed there as a votive offering by a
person calling himself Guṇa-ratna Muddali Rājā of Kolamba-pur. The date
carved on it (Buddha-vasse 2427) shows that the Buddhists of Ceylon are
no believers in the researches of modern scholars. They still reckon
from B.C. 543 for the supposed Nirvāṇa of Buddha.

At a little distance in front of the great Temple, but on the right
side, are the two smaller temples called Tārā-devī and Vāgīṡvarī. In the
latter is a circular stone with nine circles of complicated ornaments.
This is called a Vajrāsana, from the thunderbolt ornament in the second
circle, but it is not the true Bodhi-maṇḍa.

I may mention here that a portion of the original Aṡoka stone-railing,
with an inscription, lotus-ornaments and carvings, was discovered in a
fair state of preservation by Sir A. Cunningham, and is now to be seen
_in situ_. The Buddha’s walking place was unearthed by Mr. Beglar. The
massive new brick railing which now encloses the temple has been well
constructed after an ancient pattern, and ornamented with numerous
carvings representing scenes in the lives of the Buddha (p. 111). The
paved quadrangle sets the whole off to great advantage. Indeed, the
present appearance of the square and the sacred area of ground
adjoining—strewn with ruins of the Stūpas erected by Aṡoka and
others—and according to the legend by the gods Indra and Brahmā—is one
of the most striking sights in all India, and must be seen to be

In truth, Buddha-Gayā is a kind of Buddhist Jerusalem, abounding in
associations of thrilling interest, not only to the followers of Buddha,
but to all who see in that spot the central focus whence radiated a
system which for centuries has permeated the religious thought of the
most populous regions of Eastern Asia, and influenced the creed of a
majority of the human race.

Another remarkable characteristic of this spot is that it was converted
into a kind of Buddhist Necropolis, teeming with the remains of
generations of the Buddha’s adherents contained in relic-receptacles
called Stūpas (pp. 503-506), some of which have been brought to light,
while countless others still remain to be unearthed.

The fact was that immense numbers of pilgrims from all parts of India
and the outlying countries once thronged in crowds to Buddha-Gayā, and
nearly every pilgrim brought with him a Stūpa or relic-shrine of some
kind, according to his means, and deposited it as a votive offering in
this hallowed region, either with the object of acquiring religious
merit for himself, or of promoting the welfare of the deceased in other
states of being. Often it was inscribed with the usual Buddhist formula,
Ye Dharmā, etc. (see p. 104), and sometimes bore a date and the name of
the reigning king. Generally the votive Stūpa contained the relics of
deceased relatives—perhaps the ashes of a father or mother, or pieces of
bone, or a small fragment of a single bone placed in an earthen vessel
or casket of some other material, and buried in the interior of the

Relics, however, were not always forthcoming, and so the votive Stūpas
were frequently mere cenotaphs or models in clay or stone of actual
Stūpas erected in other places. Often they were beautifully carved and
ornamented with rows on rows of images of the Buddha. I obtained some
beautiful specimens for the Indian Institute at Oxford, a drawing of one
of which will be given (see p. 505). Layers on layers of these have been
exhumed during the process of the excavations. They are of every variety
of size, from three inches to several feet high, and of every variety of
material, from terra cotta and clay turned on a potter’s wheel to
elaborately sculptured brick and stone. All the upper layers are now
gone (those made of clay and pottery having naturally crumbled to
pieces), but the lowest are still _in situ_, and furnish specimens of
all ages from the second century to the tenth or twelfth. I noticed
hundreds lying about on the ground in 1884.

A sacred tank, mentioned by Hiouen Thsang, is situated three or four
hundred yards to the left of the Buddha-Gayā temple. I found, on
visiting it, that this hallowed pool is quite as much venerated by
Hindūs as by pilgrims from Buddhist countries.

Indeed, I was much struck by the evidence which Buddha-Gayā affords of
the inter-relationship between Buddhism and Hindūism—especially that
form of the latter called Vaishṇavism. For instance, on one side of the
temple I noticed the tombs of the Mahants, or Heads of the neighbouring
Hindu monastery, who are buried there in a sitting posture. Near these
again are shrines of the five Pāṇḍava heroes (who take the place of the
five Buddhas), and a shrine containing the supposed impression of the
two feet of Vishṇu. The upper portion of a small Buddhist Stūpa has been
sawn off and inverted[196], and Vishṇu’s footsteps carved on the smooth
surface. This certainly symbolizes in a remarkable manner the merging of
Buddhism in Vaishṇavism, and bears out Dr. Sachau’s assertion that in
Alberūnī’s time Vishṇu-worship was dominant in India.

Then, again, on the right of the entrance to the principal temple is a
raised platform of earth, on which are images of Vishṇu, Ṡiva, Pārvatī,
and Gaṇeṡa. Here I saw a Ṡrāddha ceremony[197], in the act of being
performed by some Hindūs—just arrived from the neighbouring town of
Gayā. They were repeating their mantras, offering their Piṇḍas, and
putting the finishing stroke to the funeral services (previously
performed by them at the Vishṇu-pad temple at Gayā), under the shadow of
a Pīpal tree, held as sacred by them as by Buddhists.

To give an exhaustive account of the objects crowded together at this
fountain-head of Buddhism would be impossible. The following abbreviated
version of the Rev. S. Beal’s translation (ii. 115) of Hiouen Thsang’s
description, throws great light on the state of Buddhism in the seventh

  Going south-west from Mount Prāgbodhi, we came to the Bodhi-tree. It
  is surrounded by a brick wall, and is about 500 paces round. Within
  the wall the sacred traces touch one another in all directions. In one
  place there are Stūpas, in another place Vihāras. In the middle of the
  enclosure is the Bodhi-tree, under which is the diamond throne called
  Bodhi-maṇḍa. On this the Buddha sat and attained the holy path of
  perfect wisdom. When the earth is shaken, this spot alone is unmoved.
  In old days, when Buddha was alive, the Bodhi-tree—which is a Pippala
  or sacred fig-tree—was several hundred feet high. Although it has
  often been injured by cutting, it is still forty or fifty feet high.
  The leaves never wither either in winter or summer, but always remain
  shining and glistening, except on every successive Nirvāṇa-day, when
  the leaves fade, and then in a moment revive as before. On this day
  thousands and ten thousands assemble from different quarters, and
  bathe the roots with scented water and perfumed milk. King Aṡoka,
  before he was converted, tried to destroy the tree by force, and after
  him king Saṡāṅka tried again, but the roots sprang up as full of life
  as ever.

  To the east of the Bodhi-tree, there is a Vihāra about 160 or 170 feet
  high, built of blue tiles covered with chunam; all the niches in the
  different stories holding golden figures. The four sides of the
  building are covered with ornamental work. The whole is surmounted by
  a gilded copper Amalaka fruit. To the right and left of the gate are
  niches; in the left is a figure of Avalokiteṡvara Bodhi-sattva and in
  the right a figure of Maitreya. On the site of the present Vihāra,
  Aṡoka at first built a small Vihāra. Afterwards a Brāhman, who became
  a convert to Buddhism, reconstructed it on a larger scale.

  To the north of the Bodhi-tree is the place where Buddha walked up and
  down, about 70 paces or so long. When he had obtained enlightenment,
  he remained perfectly quiet for seven days. Then rising, he walked up
  and down during seven days to the north of the tree. Not far to the
  south of the tree is a Stūpa about 100 feet high, built by King Aṡoka.
  To the east of the tree is the place (marked by two Stūpas) where Māra
  tempted Gautama to become a Universal Monarch. To the north-west is a
  Vihāra in which is an image of Kāṡyapa Buddha, noted for its
  miraculous qualities. Occasionally it emits a glorious light, and the
  old records say, that if a man, actuated by sincere faith, walks round
  it seven times, he obtains the power of knowing the place and
  condition of his previous births. Outside the south gate is a large
  tank, about 700 paces round, the water of which is clear and pure as a
  mirror. To the east of this is the lake of the Snake-king, Mućalinda.
  On the west bank is a small Vihāra. Formerly, when Tathāgata acquired
  complete enlightenment, he sat here for seven days in perfect
  composure, and ecstatic contemplation, while Mućalinda protected him
  with his folds wound seven times round his body. (Compare the

  By the side of the river, not far off, is the place where Buddha
  received the rice-milk, and where two merchants offered some
  wheat-flour and honey from their travelling-store (p. 40 of this

  Near this a Stūpa marks the spot where the four Kings presented Buddha
  with four golden dishes. The Lord declined such costly offerings. Then
  the four Kings, casting away the golden vessels, offered silver ones;
  and afterwards vessels of crystal, lapis-lazuli, cornelian, amber,
  ruby, and so on in succession; but the Lord of the World would accept
  none of them. Lastly, the four Kings offered stone vessels.

  Near this spot the Buddha worked various wonders to convert those who
  were capable of conversion. For example, it was here that the Buddha
  overcame the fiery snake-demon (see p. 46 of this volume). In the
  middle of the night the Nāga vomited forth fire and smoke, and the
  chamber seemed to be filled with fiery flames; but the Buddha having
  forced the fiery dragon into his alms-bowl, came forth next day
  holding it in his hand, and showed it to the unbelievers.

  To the south of Mućalinda’s tank is a Stūpa, which indicates the spot
  where Kāṡyapa, having embarked in a boat to save Buddha during an
  inundation, saw the Lord of the World walking on the water as on land.

                        _Sārnāth near Benares._

The city of Benares (Banāras, properly Vārāṇasī) is the most sacred
place of Brāhmanism[198], and is certainly the second most holy place of
Buddhism. For it was from this centre that the stream of Buddhist
teaching first flowed, and in the days of Aṡoka and of his immediate
successors, Buddhism must have vied with Brāhmanism in the number of its
shrines and sacred objects collected there.

We have already seen that memorial Stūpas and temples, not intended to
contain relics, were reared at various holy spots of ground, consecrated
by the presence of Gautama on special occasions. The immense ruined
Stūpa—once a tower-like monument—at a spot now called Sārnāth
(Sāraṅga-nāth[199]), three or four miles from the modern city of
Benares, is a memorial of this kind. It is all that remains of the
celebrated structure erected at the spot in the Mṛiga-dāva or deer-park,
once called Isi-patana (for Sanskṛit Ṛishi-patana), where Gautama first
turned the wheel of the Law (Dharma-ćakra)—that is, where he preached
his first sermon (p. 42). It was to this place that Buddhist pilgrims
once flocked, and here vast numbers of votive relic-shrines and Stūpas
were deposited, as at Buddha-Gayā.

I visited this ancient ruin, in company with the late Mr. Sherring, in
1876, and enjoyed the advantage of his guidance in inspecting it, as
well as all that remains of the monastic buildings and other adjacent
ruins, including the octagonal tower called Chaukandi, about half a mile
distant. In his book on Benares, Mr. Sherring has followed General Sir
A. Cunningham, who describes the principal monument—now of a bee-hive
shape, and called Dhamek[200]—as 93 feet in diameter at the base, 292
feet in circumference, and 128 feet above the general level of the soil.
The lower part—to a height of 43 feet—is built of stone, and all the
upper part of bricks. There are eight projecting faces with empty
niches, which once held statues.

An old man who was in charge of the ruins when we examined them, lighted
a candle, and took us into the horizontal tunnel-like gallery which the
General had excavated some years before, in the hope that relics or
memorials of some kind might be found buried in the interior. A shaft or
well had been previously sunk from the summit, and at the depth of 10½
feet a slab was discovered, inscribed with the well-known Buddhist
formula ‘Ye dharmā,’ etc. (p. 104); but the search for relics proved
unsuccessful. The Stūpa, in fact, turned out to be merely memorial, like
that at Buddha-Gayā.

Probably some monumental Stūpa existed here from the earliest times, and
certainly from Aṡoka’s time. The present Stūpa was seen by Hiouen
Thsang, who has described it in rather a confused manner (Beal, ii. 45).
Hence it must be as old as about the ninth century. Fā-hien saw a Stūpa
of some kind there in the fifth century (p. 387).

About fifty yards from the Stūpa, Sir A. Cunningham found the
interesting sculpture given at p. 477.


Rāja-gṛiha (Pāli, Rāja-gaha) is the modern Rāj-gīr. The old city had the
epithet Giri-vraja, ‘surrounded by hills[201].’ It was the first
metropolis or mother-city of Buddhism, and the original capital of the
powerful kingdom of Magadha, when under the rule of the Kings Bimbi-sāra
(p. 48) and his son Ajāta-ṡatru, who were contemporaries and friends of
Gautama, and converted by him to Buddhism[202]. The sacred character of
the place is attested by the ruins of vast numbers of Buddhist Stūpas
and Vihāras which once existed here. Unhappily Brāhmans and Musalmāns
have used the materials for their temples, tombs, and mosques.

It was here that Gautama first studied under the Brāhmans Āḷāra and
Uddaka (p. 29), and here he first imbibed the philosophical ideas which
afterwards coloured his teaching. It is not surprising, therefore, that
at a later period of his career he was fond of returning to Rāja-gṛiha
for retirement during Vassa; his two favourite resorts[203] being the
Bambu grove (Veḷu-vana, p. 48) and the hill called Vulture-peak
(Gṛidhra-kūṭa, Legge’s Fā-hien, 81, 83), both in the neighbourhood of
the city.

It was here, too, that several interesting incidents in the life of
Buddha occurred. For example, it was here in a cavern that the Buddha
often meditated. It was here that he often preached and taught; and it
was here, or in the neighbourhood of the city, that the god Ṡakra
(Indra) once appeared to Buddha, bringing a musician from heaven to
entertain him, and afterwards testing his knowledge by forty-two
questions. These the god traced with his finger on the rock, and the
impression of them, according to Fā-hien, was to be seen there in his
time, and a monastery was built on the spot. With reference to this
legend we may note that the answers to the forty-two questions are
supposed to be contained in a celebrated Tibetan work called the
‘Forty-two points on which the Buddha gave instruction[204]’, the
importance of which is proved by its being translated into several

It was in this neighbourhood, too, that Buddha’s two chief
disciples—Ṡāriputra and Maudgalyāyana (Pāli, Moggallāna, p. 47)—had
their noted meeting with Aṡvajit (Pāli, Assaji), already mentioned (p.
104). Here, also, a Jaina ascetic made a pit of fire and poisoned the
rice, and then invited Buddha to eat. Lastly, it was here that many of
Deva-datta’s plots against the Buddha’s life (see p. 52) were carried
on. The story of these is so interesting that I abridge it from the
Sacred Books of the East (vol. xx. p. 238):—

  Now at that time the Venerable One was seated preaching the Law and
  surrounded by a great multitude, including the king and his retinue.
  And Deva-datta rose from his seat, and said, ‘The Venerable One is now
  aged, he has accomplished a long journey, and his term of life is
  nearly run. Let the Venerable One now dwell at ease and give up the
  Saṅgha to me, I will be its leader.’ Then said the Buddha, ‘I would
  not give over the Saṅgha, even to Sāriputta and Moggallāna; how much
  less then to so evil-living a person as you.’

  Then Deva-datta thought: ‘The Venerable One denies me before the king,
  and calls me “evil-living,” and exalts Sāriputta and Moggallāna.’ With
  these thoughts in his mind he departed, angry and displeased, and went
  to Ajāta-sattu and said, ‘Do you, prince, kill your father, and become
  Rājā; and I will kill the Venerable One and become the Buddha.’ And
  prince Ajāta-sattu, taking a dagger, entered his royal father’s
  chamber. And the Rājā Bimbi-sāra said, ‘Why do you want to kill me, O
  prince? if you want the kingdom, let it be thine.’ And he handed it
  over to Ajāta-sattu. Then Deva-datta said, ‘Give orders, O king, to
  your men, that I may deprive the Samana Gotama of life.’ And
  Ajāta-sattu did so. Then sixteen men were sent to kill Gotama. They
  went, and returned and said, ‘We cannot kill him. Great is the power
  of the Venerable One.’

  Next Deva-datta climbed up the Vulture’s Peak, and hurled down a
  mighty rock on the Venerable One. But two mountain peaks came together
  and stopped that rock. [Fā-hien says that it hurt one of his toes.
  Legge, p. 83.] Now at that time there was at Rāja-gṛiha an elephant
  named Nālāgiri, fierce and a man-slayer. And Deva-datta caused the
  elephant to be let loose against Gotama. But the Venerable One infused
  a sense of love into the elephant. And the elephant extended his trunk
  and took up the dust from off the feet of the Venerable One and
  sprinkled it over his own head, and retired bowing backwards, gazing
  upon the Venerable One.

It may be noted here that the hell to which Deva-datta was condemned for
his attempts upon the Buddha’s life, is thus described by Burmese

  The impious Deva-datta, a cousin and brother-in-law of the Buddha,
  suffers terrible punishment in Hell. His feet are sunk ankle-deep in
  burning marl. His head is incased with a red hot metal cap down to the
  lobe of the ears. Two large red-hot bars transfix him from back to
  front, two horizontally from right to left, and one impales him from
  head to foot. (Shway Yoe’s ‘Burman,’ i. 121.)

It should be mentioned in connexion with Rāja-gṛiha that Ajāta-ṡatru
built a grand Stūpa there, over a portion of the Buddha’s ashes, soon
after his cremation.

Another fact which enhances the interest of this place is the
propinquity of the celebrated Satta-paṇṇi cave (p. 55), where the
Buddhist brotherhood first assembled after their leader’s death.


Ṡrāvastī (Pāli, Sāvatthī), sometimes spelt Ṡrāvasti, has been identified
by General Cunningham with a place now called Sāhet-Māhet, about
fifty-eight miles north of Ajūdhyā in Oudh. The town is said to derive
its name from the fact that it was built by a certain King Ṡrāvasta.
Other native authorities derive it from a Ṛishi named Sāvattha, who is
said to have resided there. It was certainly the ancient capital of
Kosala (Oudh), and was ruled over by King Prasena-jit (Pāli, Pasenadi),
who was Gautama’s contemporary. Moreover, it was the Buddha’s favourite
place of retreat[205] during the rainy seasons (p. 48 of this volume),
about half of his Vassas having been spent there[206] in the Jeta-vana
monastery built for him by the wealthy merchant Anātha-piṇḍika
(Anepidu), sometimes called Su-datta.

Doubtless on this account Ṡrāvastī was once much resorted to by the
Buddha’s followers, and ultimately became an important seat of Buddhist

The celebrated monastery, the ruins of which still exist, was erected in
the garden (vana) of Prince Jeta, who parted with the land to Su-datta
on condition that he would cover it with gold coins. This was done, till
eighteen krores of coins had been spread out like a pavement on the
ground. Both Fā-hien and Hiouen Thsang mention this incident, and the
former states that the monastery was seven stories high[207]. The
pavement of coins is represented in one of the sculptures belonging to
the Stūpa of Bharhut (Cunningham, pp. 84-87), as well as on one of the
pillars of Aṡoka’s railing at Buddha-Gayā.

Ṡrāvastī was the place where, according to Fā-hien, the first
sandal-wood image of Buddha was set up in a monastery by King
Prasena-jit (see p. 471)[208]. A colossal erect figure of the Buddha was
found here in a temple excavated by Sir A. Cunningham, but this was of

With regard to the celebrated sandal-wood image, Fā-hien (p. 57) relates
a strange legend of its preservation by a miracle:—

  ‘The kings and people of the countries around vied with one another in
  their offerings (to the image). Hanging up about it silken canopies,
  scattering flowers, burning incense, and lighting lamps. It happened
  that a rat, carrying in its mouth the wick of a lamp, set one of the
  canopies on fire, which caught the Vihāra, and the seven stories were
  all consumed. The kings and people were all very sad, supposing that
  the sandal-wood image had been burned; but lo! when a small Vihāra to
  the east was opened, there was seen the original image!’

Fā-hien goes on to describe another miracle:—

  ‘To the north-west of the Vihāra there is a grove called “The getting
  of Eyes.” Formerly there were five hundred blind men, who lived here;
  Buddha preached his Law to them, and they all got back their eyesight.
  Full of joy they stuck their staves in the earth, and did reverence.
  The staves immediately began to grow, and formed a grove’ (Legge, pp.
  58, 59).

Hiouen Thsang states that in his time the towns and monasteries about
Ṡrāvastī were mostly in ruins. He, too, gives an interesting account of
a miraculous incident which occurred there:—

  To the north-east of the Jeta-vana garden is the place where the
  Buddha washed a sick Monk, who lived apart by himself in a solitary
  place. The Lord of the World seeing him inquired, ‘What is your
  affliction?’ He answered, ‘In former days, my disposition being a
  careless one, I never looked on any sick man with pity, and now when I
  am sick, no one looks on me.’ Thereupon the Buddha said to him, ‘My
  son! I will look on you,’ and touching him with his hand, he healed
  the sickness. Then leading him forth, he washed his body, and gave him
  new clothes, and said, ‘From this time forward be diligent and exert
  yourself.’ Hearing this, the penitent monk, moved by gratitude and
  filled with joy, followed the Buddha and became his disciple. (Founded
  on Beal, ii. 5, abridged.)


Vaiṡālī (in Pāli Vesālī, now Besārh) lies twenty miles north of
Hāji-pur, on the left bank of the Ganges, and twenty-seven north-east of
Patnā. This town (the city of the Liććhavis) is celebrated as the scene
of the second Council (p. 57). Near it, at a place called Bakhra, is a
celebrated ancient pillar surmounted by a lion (see Cunningham, i. 59).
Vaiṡālī, however, is chiefly noted as one of the places where Gautama
often preached and taught, and where he stopped on his way to Kusinārā,
the place of his death. His usual residence was in a Vihāra, described
by Fā-hien as double-galleried, and in a garden presented to him by the
courtesan Amba-pālī, whom he converted and induced to live a virtuous
life. He also resided for the fifth year of his teaching in a building
called the Kūṭāgāra[209] hall.

Hiouen Thsang speaks of the town and of the objects of interest round it
thus (Beal, ii. 66-75):—

  Both heretics and believers are found here living together. There are
  several hundred monasteries (Saṅghārāmas) which are mostly
  dilapidated. There are also several Deva temples, occupied by
  sectaries of different kinds. The followers of the Nirgranthas (i. e.
  of the Jains) are very numerous.

  To the north is a Stūpa which indicates the place where Tathāgata
  stopped and took leave of the Liććhavis, on his way to Kuṡi-nagara to
  die. Wishing him to quit the world, Māra (compare p. 41) came to
  Buddha and said, ‘You have now dwelt sufficiently long in the world.
  Those whom you have saved from the circling streams of transmigration
  are as numerous as the sand.’ The Buddha replied, ‘No, those who are
  saved are as the grains of dust on my nail; those who are not saved
  are like the grains of dust on the whole earth. Nevertheless, after
  three months I shall die.’ Māra hearing this was rejoiced, and

  Both within and without the city of Vaiṡālī and all round it, the
  sacred vestiges are so numerous, that it would be difficult to recount
  them all. To the north-west is a Stūpa at the spot where Buddha dwelt
  when he recited the history of his former birth (Jātaka) as a
  Ćakra-vartin or Universal Monarch (compare p. 423) possessed of the
  seven treasures. To the south-east is a great Stūpa, marking the place
  where the convocation of the seven hundred sages and saints was held,
  one hundred and ten years after the Nirvāṇa of Buddha, to compel the
  monks who had broken the laws of Buddha to obey them.

It appears that the Liććhavis of Vaiṡālī obtained a large quantity of
the relics of the Buddha’s body, and built a Stūpa over them.

According to Fā-hien they also erected a Stūpa over half the relics of
the burnt body of Ānanda (see p. 47 of this volume), the other being
deposited near Rāja-gṛiha. His narrative runs as follows:—

  When Ānanda was going from Magadha to Vaiṡālī, wishing his
  Pari-nirvāṇa to take place there, king Ajāta-ṡatru heard of his
  intention, and set out with his retinue to follow him.

  The Liććhavis, too, when they heard that Ānanda was coming to their
  city, went out to meet him. In this way both parties arrived together
  at the river, and Ānanda, thinking to himself that he ought to please
  both, burnt his own body in the middle of the river, and thus attained
  Pari-nirvāṇa in a fiery ecstasy of Samādhi. Then his body was divided
  into two, so that each got one half as a sacred relic (Legge, pp.


Kauṡāmbī (in Pāli Kosāmbī), now Kosam[210], on the river Jumnā, about
thirty miles from Allahābād, was once a place hallowed by many
Brāhmanical associations, and is mentioned in the Rāmāyaṇa. It was the
capital of the Kauṡāmba country, and is said to have been founded by
Kuṡāmba, tenth in descent from Purūravas. Without doubt it was one of
the most ancient cities of India. It was also the city of King Udayana,
whose story is alluded to by the greatest of all Sanskrit poets,
Kāli-dāsa, in his ‘Cloud-Messenger[211].’ Furthermore, Kauṡāmbī is the
city in which the scene of the Sanskṛit drama Ratnāvalī was laid[212].

The Buddha resided there in the sixth and ninth years of his Buddhahood,
and probably visited the place at other times. This was the chief cause
of its reputation in connexion with Buddhism. But it also derived its
sacred character from the fact that it contained the celebrated
sandal-wood image[213] of the Buddha, believed to have been carved
during his life-time, by a sculptor sent by Moggallāna (see last line,
p. 414) at King Udayana’s request, to the Trayastriṉṡa heaven, when the
Buddha was there preaching the Law to his mother (see p. 207).

In a village near at hand Sir A. Cunningham (i. 308) found two
sculptured pillars, and the pedestal of a statue inscribed with the ‘Ye
dharmā’ formula (see p. 104). A great monolith was also discovered
there. In Fā-hien’s time a Vihāra existed at the spot where the Buddha
had explained the Law (Legge, p. 96). Hiouen Thsang mentions that a
lofty Stūpa, 200 feet high, was erected by Aṡoka near at hand.

There was also a cavern in which the Buddha had left his shadow
impressed on the rock. He also speaks of ten monasteries all in ruins.


Nālanda[214] was the greatest seat of Buddhist learning in India. It has
been identified by Sir A. Cunningham with the village of Baragaon, about
seven miles north of Rāja-gṛiha, about thirty miles south-east of the
modern Patnā, and about forty miles from Buddha-Gayā. Sir Alexander
states that Baragaon possesses immense ruins and more numerous specimens
of sculpture than any other place visited by him. According to Hiouen
Thsang, the Buddha preached the Law there for three months. The vast
extent and importance of the monastery (Saṅghārāma) or monasteries at
Nālanda have been already alluded to (p. 169). Fā-hien, however, does
not mention them, which seems to indicate that they were built
subsequently to A.D. 425. Hiouen Thsang, who travelled in the seventh
century, is said to have resided there for five years as a student. Ten
thousand monks, renowned for their learning, lived and studied in six
magnificent buildings. The following is an extract from the later
Chinese traveller’s description of it (Beal, ii. 70):—

  The monks of Nālanda, to the number of several thousands, are men of
  the highest ability. Their conduct is pure and unblamable, although
  the rules of the monastery are severe. The day is not sufficient for
  asking and answering profound questions. From morning till night the
  monks engage in discussion; the old and the young mutually helping one
  another. Those who cannot discuss questions out of the Tripiṭaka are
  little esteemed, and are obliged to hide themselves for shame. Hence
  learned men from different cities come here in multitudes to settle
  their doubts; and thence the streams of their wisdom spread far and
  wide. For this reason some persons usurp the name of Nālanda students,
  and in going to and fro receive honour in consequence.

  If men from other quarters desire to enter and take part in the
  discussions, the keeper of the gate proposes some hard questions;
  those who are unable to answer have to retire. One must have studied
  deeply both old and new books, before gaining admission. Those
  students who come as strangers, have to show their ability by hard
  discussion; those who fail compared with those who succeed are as
  seven or eight to ten.


Saṅkāṡya, now called Saṅkisa, about fifty miles north-west of Kanouj,
was identified by Sir A. Cunningham in 1842. It was evidently once a
large town with many remarkable monuments, and ought to be reckoned
among the most sacred places of Buddhism. Hiouen Thsang describes it
under the name Kie-pi-tha (Kapitha).

It is said that the Buddha’s mother died seven days after his birth (see
p. 24 of this volume), and was thus deprived of the advantage of hearing
the Law from her son’s lips. To compensate her for this loss, the Buddha
ascended by his own supernatural power in three steps to the
Trayastriṉṡa heaven of Indra (p. 207), to which his mother had been
transported, and there recited the Law for three months for her benefit.
His return to earth seems to have been a more difficult matter; for his
descent was not effected without the help of a ladder with three
parallel flights of steps, made for him by the god Indra.

Fā-hien describes this miraculous incident in the following manner
(Legge, 48, abridged):—

  Saṅkāṡya is the place where Buddha came down after ascending to the
  Trayastriṉṡa heaven, and there preaching his Law for three months for
  his mother’s benefit. Buddha had ascended there by his supernatural
  power, without the knowledge of his disciples; but seven days before
  his return, Anuruddha, by his own supernatural vision, saw him in
  heaven, and requested Moggallāna (see p. 47 of this volume) to ascend
  to Indra’s heaven to inquire after ‘the World-honoured one.’
  Moggallāna did so, and returned with the information that in seven
  days the Buddha would return. Then the kings of eight countries with
  their people, not having seen Buddha for a long time, were all eagerly
  looking up for him to return. But the female mendicant Utpalā[215]
  thought in her heart, ‘To-day, the kings, with their ministers and
  people, are all going to meet Buddha. I am but a woman; how shall I
  succeed in being the first to see him?’ Then Buddha, by his
  supernatural power, changed her into the appearance of a Universal
  Emperor, so that she was the foremost of all to meet and to do
  reverence to him.

  At his descent three flights of steps were created. Buddha descended
  on the middle flight, composed of the seven precious substances;
  Mahā-Brahmā, king of the Brahmā heavens (see p. 211 of this volume),
  came down by a flight of silver steps on the right side, and Ṡakra
  (Indra), lord of the thirty-three divinities (p. 207), descended by
  steps of gold on the left side, holding a canopy made of the seven
  precious substances. An innumerable multitude of gods followed. No
  sooner had the Buddha come down than all three flights disappeared in
  the ground, except seven steps, which continued to be visible.

  Afterwards King Aṡoka, being eager to ascertain where their ends
  rested, sent men to find out by digging. They dug down till they
  reached a yellow spring, but could not discover the bottom of the
  steps. Hence the king felt an increase of devotion, and built a Vihāra
  over the steps, with a standing image of Buddha sixteen cubits high.
  Behind the Vihāra he erected a stone pillar, about fifty cubits high,
  with a lion on the top of it. A dispute arose between some heretics
  and the Buddhist monks about the ownership of the place, and the
  former agreed to give up their claim if any supernatural sign
  occurred; upon which the lion on the column gave a great roar.

Fā-hien adds that a Stūpa was erected on the spot where Buddha
descended; another where the female mendicant caught the first sight of
Buddha at his descent.

The basement of King Aṡoka’s pillar was found by General Cunningham in
1876. On a previous occasion he discovered the capital of the ancient
pillar surmounted by an elephant, which may have been mistaken by
Fā-hien for a lion (see Cunningham, i. 274).

Hiouen Thsang, in his account of the three ladders (Beal, i. 202), says
that they were arranged side by side from north to south, so that those
who descended might have their faces to the east, and that the flight by
which Indra descended was of crystal (not of gold), while that used by
Brahmā was of silver, and the Buddha’s steps were of gold (or of the
seven precious substances, of which gold was one). This indicated the
superiority of Buddha over the two gods who accompanied him.

In harmony with these ideas Indra and Brahmā are sometimes represented
in Buddhistic sculptures standing one on each side of the Buddha, and
protecting him. They were also present at his birth (see p. 483 and
engraving opposite p. 477).

Hiouen Thsang adds that some centuries before his time the ladders still
existed in their original position; but, when he visited the spot, they
had sunk into the earth, and disappeared. Saṅkāṡya, however, was still
much frequented. A magnificent image of the Buddha was preserved in a
large monastery there, and 1000 priests were studying the doctrines of
the Sammatīya, a school of the Hīna-yāna, in four monasteries.
Furthermore, many ‘myriads’ of pious laymen lived in the neighbourhood.

The story of Buddha’s descent from heaven by help of golden steps is
commonly believed both in Ceylon and Burma to the present day. The
legend, as current in Ceylon, is given by Spence Hardy (Manual, p. 311).

It appears that when Buddha was about to return to earth from the god
Indra’s heaven, the god reflected that, although Buddha had ascended in
three steps, his descent ought to be celebrated ‘with special honours.’
He therefore caused a ladder of gold to extend from the Mountain Meru
(see p. 206 of the present Lectures) to Saṅkāṡya, 80,000 Yojanas[216] in
length. The steps were alternately of gold, silver, coral, ruby, emerald
and other gems. At the right side of the ladder he created another, also
of gold, by which Indra, blowing the conch, descended, accompanied by
his own gods; and on the left another ladder of silver, by which Brahmā
and the Brahmā gods (p. 210) descended, holding umbrellas over the
Buddha. The three flights of steps appeared to the people of the earth
like three rainbows. When Buddha commenced his descent all the worlds
were illuminated by the light from his body.

With this extravagant myth—believed in as a historical fact by most
Buddhists—we may contrast the simple narrative of Jacob’s dream in
Genesis xxviii.

Nevertheless the legend is curious, and I was greatly pleased by
discovering in the Indian Section of the South Kensington Museum, a
small bronze model of the triple ladder, lately dug up at Moulmein. Mr.
Purdon Clarke, C.I.E., the present Keeper, kindly had the model
photographed, and presented me with a drawing of it. This I have had
engraved, and here give.

[Illustration: ]

It will be observed that an image of the Buddha is represented above the
ladder, as if seated in Indra’s heaven, and as if engaged in the act of
teaching there; while the earth is typically represented below in the
shape of a square platform, with four small Buddhist temples, one at
each of the four quarters of the compass (compare p. 85).

A ruder representation of the ladder occurs in the sculptures of the
Bharhut Stūpa (Cunningham, p. 92). The General found an imperfect
representation of it carved in soap-stone at Saṅkisa in 1876 (Report,
xi. 26).


Sāketa is a name of the ancient city Ayodhyā (now Ajūdhyā) described in
Valmīki’s great epic the Rāmāyanṇa, and believed to have been founded by
Manu, the progenitor of the human race. This renowned city, which was a
great centre of Brāhmanism, was also, no doubt, at one time a
considerable centre of Buddhism. At all events, the identification of
certain Buddhist sites there has been made clear by Sir A. Cunningham,
who considers Sāketa to be the same as the Pi-so-kia (Viṡākhā) of Hiouen
Thsang and the Shā-che or Shā-khe of Fā-hien. The former found twenty
monasteries there, and 3000 priests studying the Little Vehicle
according to the Sammatīya school; also fifty Deva temples and very many

In one of the monasteries resided the Arhat Deva-ṡarmā, who wrote a
treatise called the Vijñāna-kāya-ṡāstra in defence of the doctrine of
the non-existence of any Ego or personal self. A Stūpa, 200 feet high,
was built by Aṡoka in the place where Buddha is supposed to have
preached and taught during six years.

Both Fā-hien and Hiouen Thsang mention the legend that he one day threw
on the ground a twig he had used to clean his teeth (danta-kāshṭha),
which sprouted and grew into a miraculous tree seven cubits high, at
which height it always remained. The Brāhmans became jealous of the
miracle and sometimes cut the tree down, sometimes uprooted it, but it
always grew again and remained at the same height. Here also is the
place where the four Buddhas (p. 400) walked and sat (Legge, pp. 54, 55;
Beal, i. 240).

                        _Kanyā-kubja (Kanouj)._

Kanyā-kubja[217] is the Sanskṛit name for the ancient city of Kanouj;
(often spelt Kanoj), once the capital of Northern India, and said to be
the oldest city in India, next to Ayodhyā.

When Hiouen Thsang visited this place it was the capital of the
celebrated monarch Harsha-vardhana, also called Ṡilāditya (see p. 167 of
this volume), whose kingdom extended from Kashmīr to Assam and from the
river Narbadā to Nepāl. When he carried off a tooth-relic of the Buddha
from Kashmīr, his procession back to his capital was attended by a large
number of tributary kings. Hiouen Thsang, in describing the piety of
this great monarch, says of him, that ‘he sought to plant the tree of
religious merit to such an extent that he forgot to sleep and to eat.’
He goes on to state as follows:—

  King Ṡilāditya forbade the slaughter of any living thing as food on
  pain of death. He built several thousand Stūpas, each about 100 feet
  high. Then in all the highways of the towns and villages throughout
  India he erected hospices, and stationed physicians there with
  medicines for travellers and the poor persons round about. On all
  spots where there were holy traces of Buddha, he built monasteries.
  Once in five years he held the great assembly called Moksha. Then
  every year he assembled the monks, and bestowed on them the four kinds
  of alms (food, drink, medicine, clothing). He ordered them to carry on
  discussions, and himself judged of their arguments. He rewarded the
  good and punished the wicked. He promoted the men of talent, and
  degraded evil men. Wherever he moved he dwelt in a travelling-palace,
  and provided choice meats for men of all sorts of religion. Of these
  the Buddhist priests would be perhaps a thousand; the Brāhmans five
  hundred[218]. He divided each day into three portions. During the
  first he occupied himself on matters of government; during the second
  he practised himself in religious devotion (Beal, i. 214).

Notwithstanding Hiouen Thsang’s description of various Stūpas,
monasteries and monuments seen by him, General Sir A. Cunningham was not
able to identify any of the existing ruins in the neighbourhood of
Kanouj, ‘so completely has almost every trace of Hindū occupation been
obliterated by the Musalmāns’ (Report, i. 284).

Fā-hien mentions a Stūpa near the town, built on the spot where the
Buddha preached a discourse on ‘the bitterness and vanity of life,’
comparing it to ‘a bubble or foam on water’ (Legge, 54).


Pāṭali-putra (now Patnā) seems to have existed as a village at a very
early period. Its ancient name was Kusuma-pura. It was enlarged and
practically founded about the time of the Buddha’s death by
Ajāta-ṡatru[219], who did not, however, remove there from his own
capital city Rāja-gṛiha. One of his successors, the great King Aṡoka,
the well-known patron of Buddhism (p. 66), converted Pāṭali-putra into
the metropolis of the kingdom of Magadha, and it thenceforward became an
important centre of Buddhism. Sir A. Cunningham states that it continued
flourishing as the capital of the great Gupta kingdom during the fourth
and fifth centuries of the Christian era.

Fā-hien relates a tradition that King Aṡoka’s palace in the city was
built by genii (spirits), who brought great rocks and constructed
chambers by heaping them together. He describes a monastery belonging to
the Great Vehicle, and a temple belonging to the Little Vehicle, in the
neighbourhood of the city, and gives an account of a Buddhist procession
of four-wheeled cars and images which took place once a year. Each car
was twenty-two feet or more high, and had five stories, with niches on
four sides, in which were placed images of the Buddha and the
Bodhi-sattvas, along with images of the gods (dēvas). They were made to
look like moving pagodas (or Dāgabas). The Hindūs, as we know, have
similar car-processions to this day, when the images of Kṛishṇa are
dragged through the streets of towns and villages.

Fā-hien mentions the interesting fact that the nobles of the country had
founded hospitals in the city to which destitute, crippled, and diseased
persons might repair, and receive advice, food, and medicines suited to
their cases, gratuitously. He adds that Aṡoka, wishing to build 84,000
Stūpas[220] in place of the eight originally constructed over the
Buddha’s ashes, built the first Stūpa and a pillar near Pāṭali-putra.

Near it he says was an impression of the Buddha’s foot, over which a
temple with a door towards the north had been erected (Legge, pp. 77-80;
Beal, i. lv-lviii). The position of the Stūpa and column has been
discovered by Sir A. Cunningham (xi. 157, 158).


Kesarīya is a large village about thirty miles distant from Vaiṡālī
(Besārh). It is chiefly remarkable for a mound of ruined brick-work, 62
feet in height, supporting a solid brick Stūpa (nearly 68½ feet in
diameter), which is also partly in ruins. The people call it the Stūpa
of the Ćakravartī (Universal Monarch) Veṇa, father of King Pṛithu. In
Manu, VII. 41; IX. 66, 67, King Veṇa is described as an arrogant monarch
who resisted the authority of the Brāhmans. Probably he favoured the
Buddhists. At any rate the Buddhists assert that the remarkable Stūpa at
this place was built to mark the spot where Gautama Buddha preached a
discourse, in which he described one of his previous births as a
Ćakravartī king.

Not far from the Stūpa a small mound has been excavated, and the head
and shoulders of a colossal statue of Buddha brought to light
(Cunningham, i. 67).


Kuṡi-nagara (in Pāli Kusi-nārā) was the place where the Buddha died,
or—to speak more correctly—passed away in Pari-nirvāṇa (see pp. 48, 49,
140). It was long searched for in vain, but has recently been identified
by Sir A. Cunningham with the modern Kasia, eighty miles east of
Kapila-vastu, and 120 miles N.N.E. of Benares.

Neither Fā-hien nor Hiouen Thsang say much about Kuṡi-nagara, except
that it was deserted and had few inhabitants; but the latter’s allusion
to the Buddha’s passing away out of the world at this place, and his
account of the subsequent assembling of the first council at Rāja-gṛiha
by order of the great Kāṡyapa (pp. 47, 55), is so interesting and
curious that I here give an abstract of his narrative, based on Mr.
Beal’s translation (ii. 161):—

  Once when the great Kāṡyapa was seated in meditation, suddenly a
  bright light burst forth, and the earth shook. Then, exerting his
  faculty of supernatural vision, he saw the Lord Buddha passing away
  into Pari-nirvāṇa between two trees. Forthwith he ordered his
  followers to accompany him to the city of Kuṡi-nagara. On the way
  there they met a Brāhman, who, on being asked whence he came, replied,
  ‘From Kuṡi-nagara, where I saw your master entering into Nirvāṇa. A
  vast multitude of heavenly beings were around him.’

  Kāṡyapa having heard these words said, ‘The sun of wisdom has
  extinguished his rays. The world is now in darkness. The illustrious
  guide—the King of the Law—has left us; the whole world is empty and
  afflicted. Men and gods are left without a guide.’ Accordingly, he
  proceeded to the two trees, and looking on Buddha, offered worship.
  But certain careless monks said one to another, with satisfaction,
  ‘Tathāgata has gone to rest. This is good for us; for now, if we
  transgress, who is there to reprove us?’ Then Kāṡyapa was deeply
  moved, and resolved to secure obedience to the teaching of Buddha.

  Addressing the assembled multitude, he said, ‘We ought to collect the
  Law. Those who have kept it without failure, whose powers of
  discrimination are clear, such persons may form the assembly. Those
  who are only learners must depart to their homes.’

  On this they went away, and only 999 men were left, including Ānanda.
  But the great Kāṡyapa excluded Ānanda as being yet a learner.
  Addressing him, he said, ‘You are not yet free from defect; you, too,
  must leave the assembly. You were a personal attendant on Buddha, you
  loved him much, and are, therefore, not free from the ties of

  So Ānanda retired to a desert place. Wearied out, he desired to lie
  down. Scarcely had his head reached the pillow, when lo! he obtained
  the condition of an Arhat. Then he returned to the door of the
  assembly. But Kāṡyapa said to him, ‘Have you got rid of all ties? If
  so, prove it; exercise your spiritual power and enter without the door
  being opened.’ Then Ānanda entered through the key-hole, and having
  paid reverence to the assembled monks, sat down.

This power of reducing the body to the size of an atom, so as to be able
to pass through so minute an aperture as a key-hole, was one of the
supernatural faculties supposed to belong to perfected saints or Arhats
(compare pp. 133, 245 of these Lectures).

The consideration of Buddhist Sacred Places might lead us on to various
hallowed spots in other Buddhist countries, for example, Anurādha-pura,
Adam’s Peak and Kelani in Ceylon; the site of the great pagoda at
Rangoon, and of that near Mandalay in Burma; the site of the Buddha’s
foot-print (Phra Bat) in Siam; the snows of Kinchinjunga in Sikkim; the
city of Lhāssa and its monasteries in Tibet; Kuren in Mongolia; but all
these, and other places, have either been incidentally mentioned in
previous Lectures or will be more fully noticed hereafter.

                              LECTURE XV.
                       _Monasteries and Temples._

Buddhist monasteries deserve a fuller notice than the incidental
allusions we have made to them in previous Lectures.

The duty of dwelling under trees, and not in houses, according to the
example set by all the Buddhas (see p. 136), and especially by Gautama
Buddha himself, during his long course of meditation (see p. 31), was in
theory supposed to be binding on all true monks. ‘The root of a tree for
an abode’ was one of ‘the four Resources,’ of which every monk was
allowed to avail himself, and the enumeration of which formed part of
the admission-ceremonies (see p. 80).

At the same time certain dispensations or indulgences were specially
granted at those ceremonies, one of which was permission to live in
covered residences, when not itinerating. The five kinds of dwellings
permissible under varying circumstances are described in Ćulla-vagga
(VI. 1, 2). They are Vihāras (monasteries), Aḍḍhayogas (i. e. houses of
a peculiar shape), storied dwellings (prāsāda)[221], mansions (harmya),
and caves (see note, p. 81 of this volume).

It is clear that any painful exposure of the body to the violent storms
of India was incompatible with one of the principles of Buddhism, which,
though it taught self-denial and self-sacrifice of a particular kind,
deprecated all personal self-inflicted pain and austerity.

Yet it appears (from Mahā-vagga, III. 15) that at the time of his first
residence at Rāja-gṛiha (see p. 29 of these Lectures), the Buddha had
not yet instituted ‘the Retreat’ during the rains (Vassa). Hence the
monks were in the habit of going on their travels alike during winter,
summer, and the rainy season.

The people complained of this, and said that the monks in walking about
during wet weather were unable to avoid crushing vegetable life and
treading on minute living things. Thereupon the Buddha prescribed that
the monks were to keep ‘Vassa,’ and refrain from peregrination during
the rains.

Soon afterwards, when the Buddha had left Rāja-gṛiha and had taken up
his abode during Vassa in the Jeta-vana garden at Sāvatthī (see p. 407),
a wealthy and pious layman (Upāsaka) who had built a monastery (Vihāra)
for the monks, sent to invite them to reside in it, saying that he
wished to hear them recite the Law and to bestow gifts upon them. The
Buddha permitted them to go, but required them to return in seven days.
He gave the same permission when another rich and pious layman had
provided other residences and conveniences for the monks, such as a
storied house, a mansion, a store-room, a cave, a refectory, a bathing
room, a well-house, a pavilion, a park, etc.

On the other hand, when, on a particular occasion, a monk wished to keep
Vassa in a cattle-pen (Mahā-vagga, III. 12) the Buddha permitted him to
do so. So, again, on another occasion he allowed a man to keep Vassa in
a caravan, and on a third occasion in a covered boat or ship. But it is
recorded that he prohibited Vassa from being kept in the open air, or in
the hollow of trees[222] (see Mahā-vagga, III. 12, 3).

It is evident from all this, that even in the early days of Buddhism,
rich laymen were in the habit of seeking to acquire religious merit by
providing comfortable habitations for the monks; and although at first
the use of such luxuries was only permitted in the rainy season, this
restriction was soon removed, and a residence in covered dwellings
became usual at all seasons of the year.

Then, as Buddhism spread, kings, princes, and rich men competed with
each other for the privilege of erecting vast monasteries—sometimes
called Vihāras[223], sometimes Saṅghārāmas—to which temples, libraries,
and schools were generally attached, and in which dwelt wealthy
communities of monks, who were allowed to hold property in land.

The founding of extensive and important institutions of this kind was,
of course, an exceptional proceeding. As a general rule, collections of
monastic dwellings were of a simple and unostentatious character. In
various parts of India are to be seen in the present day ancient
Buddhist cave-monasteries now untenanted, some of them—such as the caves
of Barābar—as old as the third century B.C.

I myself visited those at Elorā (Elurā), twelve miles from Aurangābād in
the Nizām’s territory, as well as others at Nāsik, Kārle, and other
places. The Elorā caves are possibly as old as the third century[224],
and with the adjoining Brāhmanical and Jain caves of later date, extend
for one mile and a quarter along the scarp of an elevated plateau. The
three groups of caves rival each other in the beauty and interest of
their sculptures, and together constitute one of the wonders of
India—their position side by side proving that the adherents of the
three systems lived together in harmony. Among the Buddhist caves are
beautiful ‘Ćaityas’ or halls for general worship (see p. 450),
refectories for commensality, and cells without number for the
habitation of the monks. All the excavations had become partially filled
up; but the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1876 stimulated the Nizām’s
government to clear away the dust and rubbish of centuries.

Then, besides cave-monasteries, the ruins of extensive monastic
establishments built of brick, stone, or other less durable materials,
are scattered everywhere throughout India.

Those of the vast monastery of Nālanda near Rāja-gṛiha, and others at
various other sacred places, have been already described (see p. 412).

Turning next to the monastic structures of modern Buddhist countries,
and beginning with Ceylon, we find that in that island, as Spence Hardy
has pointed out, and as I myself observed during my sojourn there, the
residences of the monks are of very simple construction, and often
extremely mean in appearance. They are called Pān-sālās (Paṇṇa-ṡālā =
Sanskṛit Parṇa-ṡālā) because supposed to be made of leaves. In general,
however, they are constructed of wattle filled up with mud, the roof
being covered with straw, or with the platted leaves of the cocoa-nut.
They are always dirty and always abound in cobwebs.

A monastery which I saw near Kandy consisted of an oblong rectangular
court-yard, surrounded in the interior by a kind of roofed cloister or
verandah, out of which opened the monks’ cells, lighted only from the
sky above the court. The interior walls of both cloister and cells were
begrimed with patches of dirt and masses of cobwebs, which are never
touched for fear of breaking the first Buddhist commandment, ‘kill not’
(p. 126).

Of course there are monasteries of a better and more imposing type, such
as that attached to the Māligāwa temple of the sacred eye-tooth on the
Kandy lake (see p. 454).

In Burma the ordinary residences of the monks appear to be simple in
character, like those in Ceylon. In Siam, on the contrary, they are
sometimes elaborate, and often have richly-covered entrances. At the
same time the Siamese monks (according to Mr. Alabaster) are in the
habit of itinerating a good deal, only remaining in their monasteries
during the three months of rains, when residence there is imperative.

Speaking of the larger and more imposing monasteries (Kyoung) in Burma,
Mr. Scott says (I give his account in an abbreviated form):—

  The monasteries are built of teak, or, sometimes in Mandalay and Lower
  Burma, of brick. The shape is always oblong, and the inhabited portion
  is raised on posts and pillars, eight or ten feet above the ground.
  They are, like all the other houses in the country, only one story
  high; for if it is an indignity to a layman to have anyone’s feet over
  his head[225], it is much more so to a member of the brotherhood. The
  space between the ground and the floor is always kept open, and is
  never used except by the monastery school-boys. A flight of steps of
  stone or wood leads up to the verandah, which extends along the north
  and south sides, and frequently all round. From the raised floor thus
  reached, rises the building, with tier upon tier of massive roofs (in
  diminishing stages), giving the appearance of many stories when there
  is only one. The accommodation is simple. It consists in the main of a
  central hall divided into two portions, one level with the verandah
  where the scholars are taught, and most of the duties of the monastery
  carried on, and the other a dais, raised about two feet above the
  level of the rest of the building. Seated upon this, the monks are
  accustomed to receive visitors, and at the back, against the wall, are
  arranged the images of Buddha, a large one usually standing in the
  centre on a kind of altar, with candles, flowers, praying flags, and
  other offerings placed before it. On shelves alongside are a number of
  smaller figures of gold, silver, alabaster, clay or wood, according to
  the popularity of the monastery, and the religious character of the
  neighbourhood. Occasionally there are dormitories for the monks, but
  as a rule they sleep in the central hall, where the mats which form
  their beds may be seen rolled up against the wall. The whole area of
  the extensive compound in which the monastery stands is enclosed by a
  heavy teak fence with massive posts and rails, seven or eight feet
  high. The laity, when they enter, take off their shoes and carry them
  in their hands. This rule applies to the highest in the land.

The daily life of the monks inhabiting monasteries of this kind in Burma
has been already described (see pp. 311-314 of these Lectures).

If we now pass to northern Buddhist countries we shall find that, as a
general rule, the dwellings of monks are insignificant tenements of poor
construction, attached to or built round small chapels or shrines.
Sometimes the monks live in the rooms built over such chapels.

Sir Richard Temple (Journal, ii. 207) visited a so-called monastery at
Pemyangchi (in Sikkim), which consisted of a single building with two
stories. In the upper some of the monks resided, and a chapel formed the

The temple-monastery I myself visited in British Sikkim, near Dārjīling,
is similar. The exterior appearance might be compared to that of some
small Dissenting chapel in an English village. The thatched roof, which
once gave it a picturesque appearance, has recently been removed, and a
roof of modern construction substituted. The shrine or temple is on the
ground floor, while the upper floor is the abode of the attendant
priests, and seems also to serve as a store-room with cupboards for
their equipments. The contents of the ground-floor temple, with its
altar at the further end and shelves for the sacred books on one side,
are very indistinctly seen, being only lighted up by a ‘dim religious
light,’ when the door is kept wide open. I noticed three images on the

The case is different when large numbers of monks congregate in
particular places. In some districts of Ladāk, Mongolia and Tibet,
monasteries (or Lāmaseries as they are sometimes called) have been
erected, which for vastness, magnificence, and grandeur of situation
amid splendid scenery, are unequalled in any part of the world.

According to strict rule, retired localities should be chosen. Hence
large monastic establishments are often found in solitary places[226]
and elevated situations; for instance, in Ladāk those at Lāma Yurru and
Hemis are more than 11,000 feet above the sea, and that at Hanle is
14,000 feet. They resemble romantic castles towering upwards in the
midst of rocks, crags, and snowy mountains.

Another monastery at Kīlang (Kyelang), in the British Tibetan province
of Lahūl (contiguous to Ladāk), stands on the spur of a mountain, at an
elevation of 12,000 feet, and is approached through grand ravines and
glaciers, so that occasionally, after snow-storms, those who pass to and
fro are buried in avalanches.

The outer walls of large monasteries of this kind in secluded situations
are generally lofty. Often they are made of stone or brick, plastered
with mud and surmounted with little pinnacles and poles, on which are
prayer-flags. Within the walls are cells for the monks, the abode of the
Head or Abbot, a room for holding books, a temple, an assembly-hall, a
refectory, store-houses, receptacles for musical instruments, masks,
staves, etc.; the buildings being often arranged in rows, and always
intermixed with Stūpas (see p. 504) and monuments. The walls of the
vestibules and of the great hall are usually ornamented with
fresco-paintings, representing subjects from the Buddhist Jātakas (p.
111). Generally there are corridors or covered cloisters lined with
prayer-wheels, or open walks paved with stone, called in Sanskṛit
Ćankramaṇa (Pāli, Ćankamana), for the monks to perambulate up and down
in meditation. These are supposed to be constructed after the pattern of
the stone walking-places used by the Buddha himself (see p. 400).

In the monastery at Kīlang the roof of the great hall is supported by
massive beams garnished with belts, swords, yaks’ tails, huge and
terrible masks, and all sorts of odds and ends. On one side is a huge
praying-wheel, on each revolution of which a bell is struck. A dim
subdued light pervades the entire hall, exaggerating the ghastly
hideousness of the figures[227].

To take as another instance—the monastery or Lāmasery of Kunbum (or
Kumbum) north of Tibet, celebrated as the birth-place of Tsong Khapa (p.
277), and situated, according to M. Huc, on a mountain intersected by a
broad and deep ravine:—

  On either side of the ravine, and up the slopes of the mountain, rise,
  in amphitheatrical curves, the white dwellings of the Lāmas, each with
  its little terrace and enclosing wall, while here and there above them
  ‘tower the temples, with their gilt roofs glittering with a thousand
  colours.’ The houses of the superior monks are distinguished by
  pennants, floating above small hexagonal turrets, while those of the
  ordinary monks are simple cells. On all sides mystical sentences, in
  the Tibetan character, meet the eye (see p. 381), some inscribed on
  doors, some on walls and stones, or on linen flags fixed on poles.

  Almost everywhere are conical vessels, in which incense and
  odoriferous wood are burning; while numbers of Lāmas circulate through
  the streets of the monastery in their red and yellow dresses—grave in
  their deportment, and, although under no obligation to silence,
  speaking little, and that little in a low voice.

This Lāmasery of Kunbum enjoys so great a reputation, that the
worshippers of Buddha make pilgrimages to it from all parts of Mongolia,
Tartary, and Tibet, and on the occasion of great festivals the
confluence of strangers is immense. It is much frequented by Eastern

Near Kunbum is a much smaller monastery, devoted to the study of
medicine. It is at the foot of a rocky mountain, on the heights of which
dwell certain contemplative monks. M. Huc saw one of these hermits, who
never communicated with the outer world except for food, which he drew
up to his rocky cell by the help of a bag tied to a long rope (ii. 73).

Some mention should also be made of the monasteries at Kuku khotun, ‘the
blue city’ in Tartary. That town contains no less than five great
Lāmaseries and fifteen affiliated monasteries, with a grand total of
20,000 Lāmas dwelling in them. The chief monastery is that of the ‘Five
Towers’—not to be confounded with one of the same name in the Chinese
province of Shan si.

This latter is a celebrated place for burials (see p. 370), and pilgrims
may there be edified by a sight of the Buddha’s shadow impressed on a

Another example of a monastery in a remote situation is that of Kurun or
Kuren (see p. 295), situated on the slope of a mountain in Mongolia. In
this celebrated monastery of the Grand Lāma Tāranātha 30,000 Lāmas
(according to M. Huc) are lodged and supported.

  The plain at the foot of the mountain is constantly covered with tents
  of various sizes for the convenience of pilgrims. Hither throng the
  worshippers of Buddha from the most remote countries.

  Viewed from a distance, the white cells of the Lāmas, built on the
  declivity in horizontal lines one above the other, resemble the steps
  of an enormous altar, of which the temple of the Tāranātha Lāma
  appears to constitute (in Roman Catholic phraseology) ‘the
  tabernacle.’ In this country Tāranātha is the saint par excellence,
  and there is not a Tartar Khalka who does not take a pride in calling
  himself his disciple.

Passing on now to Tibet, we find that in its principal provinces the
number of monastic institutions connected with its two respective
capitals of Lhāssa and Tashi Lunpo, is more than a thousand, with
491,242 Lāmas. This is the estimate of the latest traveller[228].

According to Huc, more than thirty large monasteries may be reckoned in
the neighbourhood of Lhāssa alone.

Adverting for a moment to Lhāssa itself, we may note that this ‘city of
the gods’—the chief town of the province of U, situated on the Ki-ćhu
river[229]—had in 1854 about 15,000 inhabitants within a circumference
of two-and-a-half miles. According to a Chinese proverb, its chief
inmates have always been ‘priests, women, and dogs.’ Koeppen affirms
that Lhāssa has always been a greater nest of monk-priests than Rome has
ever been.

Doubtless its population is now increased, and includes a considerable
proportion of laymen; yet, in all likelihood, at least two-thirds of the
inhabitants are monks; and it cannot be too often repeated that,
according to the true theory of Buddhism, the only raison d’être of the
laity is to wait upon the monkhood.

Moreover, Lhāssa, next to Benares and Mecca, is, perhaps, the most
frequented place of pilgrimage upon earth. Scarcely a day passes on
which the streets do not overflow with crowds of pilgrims—some from
every quarter of Tibet, some from Bhutān and other Himālayan regions,
some from all parts of Mongolia. All meet here to worship the incarnated
representative of the Bodhi-sattva (Avalokiteṡvara) manifested in the
Dalai Lāma—to receive his blessing, his consecrated pills, and his
prayer-papers (see p. 331 of these Lectures). The residence of this
Lāmistic Pope is at Potala.

In fact Potala on the north-west side of Lhāssa is what the Vatican is
to Rome. It existed in ancient times as a palace, but was rebuilt and
converted into a palace-monastery by the celebrated fifth Dalai Lāma
Navang Lobsang, A.D. 1617-1682 (p. 292 of this volume), and from that
time forward became the residence of all the Dalai Lāmas, who had before
lived either at Sera or at Brepung (Dapung, see p. 442).

In its striking and unique position, it is even more imposing than the

Imagine a lofty structure erected on an isolated hill[230], rising
abruptly from the plain with three long summits or eminences, and
watered at the base by the Ki-ćhu river, which flows into the great
Tsanpo. The south-western ridge is the so-called Iron-hill, on which is
a monastery where Tsong Khapa himself is said to have taught. The
north-eastern bears the name of the Phagmo hill[231], while the highest
is the hill of Potala, with its palace-monastery towering in four
stories to the height of about 367 feet, and ending in a cupola covered
with plates of pure gold.

From this vantage ground the incarnated Bodhi-sattva looks down on the
crowds of pilgrims approaching to worship him, or kneeling at the foot
of the hill. The buildings grouped in the vicinity are said to contain
10,000 rooms, for the accommodation of as many monks. Countless are the
statues of Buddha, with other idols and images of saints, not to mention
obelisks and pyramidal monuments, which meet the eye everywhere. All
sacred objects are manufactured out of gold, silver, or copper,
according to the wealth of those who have brought them as offerings. Two
ascending avenues lead up from Lhāssa to Potala, which are constantly
thronged with foreign pilgrims, troops of Lāmas in official vestments,
higher Lāmas and courtiers in full uniform. Yet we are told that a
solemn religious silence prevails, for the thoughts of all are fixed in

I have already given an abstract of Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās’ narrative of
his visit to Potala, and his presentation to the Dalai Lāma on June 10,
1882 (see p. 331 of these Lectures). I now add an account of Mr. Thomas
Manning’s interview with the Dalai Lāma on December 17, 1811. No
European, except Mr. Manning[232], has ever set eyes on a Dalai Lāma,
and no other Englishman has ever seen Lhāssa (for M. Huc was
misinformed; Moorcroft was never there):—

  We rode to the foot of the mountain on which the palace is built, or
  out of which, rather, it seems to grow; but having ascended a few
  paces to a platform, were obliged to dismount. From here to the hall
  where the Grand Lāma receives visitors is a long and tedious ascent.
  It consists of about four hundred steps, partly stone steps in the
  rocky mountain, and the rest mere ladders from story to story in the
  palace. Besides this, from interval to interval along the mountain,
  wherever the ascent is easy, there are stretches interspersed, where
  the path continues for several paces together without steps. At length
  we arrived at the large platform on which is built the hall of
  reception. There we rested awhile, arranged the presents, and
  conferred with the Lāma’s Chinese interpreter.

  The Tí-mu-fu was in the hall with the Grand Lāma. I was not informed
  of this until I entered, which occasioned me some confusion. I did not
  know how much ceremony to go through with one, before I began with the
  other. I made the due obeisance, touching the ground three times with
  my head to the Grand Lāma, and once to the Tí-mu-fu. I presented my
  gifts, delivering the coin and the handsome silk scarf with my own
  hands into the hands of the Grand Lāma. I then took off my hat, and
  humbly gave him my clean-shaven head to lay his hands upon. The
  ceremony of presentation being over, the Munshī and I sat down on two
  cushions not far from the Lāma’s throne, and had tea brought to us. It
  was most excellent, and I meant to have emptied the cup, but it was
  whipped away suddenly, before I was aware of it. The Lāma’s beautiful
  and interesting face and manner engrossed almost all my attention. He
  was at that time about seven years old; and had the simple and
  unaffected manners of a well-educated princely child. His face was, I
  thought, poetically and affectingly beautiful. He was of a gay and
  cheerful disposition; his beautiful mouth perpetually unbending into a
  graceful smile, which illuminated his whole countenance. Sometimes,
  particularly when he had looked at me, his smile approached to a
  gentle laugh. No doubt my grim beard and spectacles somewhat excited
  his risibility. He inquired whether I had not met with molestation and
  difficulties on the road; to which I promptly returned the proper
  answer. A present of dried fruit was brought and set before me, and
  then we withdrew. (Mr. Clements Markham’s Tibet, p. 264, abridged.)

As to the monasteries grouped around this Vatican of Lāmistic Buddhism,
we may make special mention of four, noting a few particulars.

To begin with the oldest monastery, that of _Lā brang_, said to mean
‘abode of Lāmas[233],’ which was built by King Srong Tsan Gampo (see p.
271 of this volume), and founded in the seventh century. This ancient
institution is in the very centre of Lhāssa, and is regarded as the
centre of the whole country. All the main roads of Tibet converge
towards it. Doubtless the area of the monastery has been enlarged by
occasional additions in the course of one thousand years, but not since
it was partly rebuilt and restored in the seventeenth century. Its
magnificent temple (Cho Khang) is the St. Peter’s of Lāmism (see p.

The immense number of monks inhabiting this monastery is proved by the
fact that a huge cauldron is shown which holds more than 1200 gallons of
tea for the Lāmas who perform the daily services.

The other three monasteries near Potala and Lā brang, according to
Koeppen, are devoted to the study of magic and the art of exorcising. We
may take them in the following order:—

First, at a short distance north of Lā brang, stands the monastery
_Ramoćhe_, ‘the great enclosure,’ which was the other ancient monastery
built by Srong Tsan Gampo, or by one of his wives (see p. 271). It is
now a great school of exorcism, and has a celebrated temple (see pp.
462, 463), containing the celebrated image of the Buddha, and also one
of Nanda, Gautama’s step-brother and disciple. Those who study here may
gain the decree of ‘Doctor of Magic.’

Next comes the monastery of _Moru_ (or Muru or Meru), close to the city.
It is noted for its order and cleanliness, and for its printing-press.
Like the last, it contains a school for instruction in magic.

Then, at a short distance east of Lā brang (according to Koeppen), is
the monastery of _Gar Ma Khian_—the mother monastery of soothsayers,
fortune-tellers, and exorcisers (Ćhos-kyong, see p. 266).

Let us next turn to the three ancient ‘mother-monasteries’ of the Yellow
sect—Galdan, Sera, and Dapung.

_Galdan_ (_or Gahdan_), the ‘heaven of contented beings’ (Sanskṛit
Tushita, see pp. 207, 213)—the oldest monastery of the Yellow sect—is
situated on the hill of the same name, about thirty miles[234] east of
Lhāssa. As already stated (pp. 278, 294), it was founded by Tsong Khapa
A.D. 1409. It is three-quarters of a mile in circumference, and has 3300

_Sera_, ‘the golden,’ founded by Tsong Khapa (p. 278), or by one of his
disciples immediately after his death, lies about three miles north of
Lhāssa, on a declivity of a hill, over which passes the road leading to
Mongolia. It has 5500 monks, and numerous temples, towers, and houses
curving round like an amphitheatre. On the hills above the town are rows
of cells of contemplative monks and recluses.

Sera has three great temples several stories high, the halls of which
are richly gilded. In one temple the staff of Gautama Buddha is

_Dapung_ (variously Dapuṅ, Depung, Debung, Debang, Brepung, Brebung,
Prebung), ‘rice-heap,’ so called from the shape of the hill, was also
founded by Tsong Khapa three years before Sera, and is situated four
miles west of the city of Lhāssa. It has 7700 monks. The great temple in
the middle is surrounded by four small ones. One of these four belongs
to the exorcisers and professors of magical arts, of whom there are
nearly three hundred. In the centre of the monastery is a residence for
the Dalai Lāma, when he pays his annual visit. Numbers of foreigners
study here, especially Mongolians. In front of the monastery stands a
Stūpa, which contains the bones of the fourth Dalai Lāma, Jon Tan Yam
Thso, who was of a Mongolian family.

Mr. Edgar (Report, p. 41) mentions four other monasteries of the Yellow
sect around Lhāssa, _Chemiling_, _Tengiling_, _Chechuling_, and
_Kenduling_[235]. The last is said to be the residence of the Regent (p.
286 of these Lectures). Sarat Chandra Dās gives a long list of
monasteries, some containing 5000 monks (e.g. Rnam rgyal grvatsang,
Gongdkar rDorjegdan, etc.) and some 7000.

We have next to describe the great monastery of the second Grand Lāma of
Tibetan Buddhism—I mean that at _Tashi Lunpo_, also belonging to the
Yellow sect.

_Tashi Lunpo_, near _Shigatse_, is the seat of government of the Tashi
Lāma or Panchen Lāma (see p. 284 of these Lectures), and the second
metropolis of Lāmistic Buddhism. Our knowledge of this celebrated place
is derived from the record of the journeys of Mr. Bogle and Captain
Turner, as well as from the narratives of Indian explorers.

According to some of these authorities, Tashi Lunpo is situated about
140 English miles in a nearly westerly direction from Lhāssa. It is
built on a level plain enclosed on all sides by rocky hills, through
which a small river (the Painam) rushes into the great Tsanpo
(Brahma-putra). The monastery is said to have been built by the first
Dalai Lāma, Gedun grub pa, in 1445 (see p. 291 of these Lectures),
though the final seat of the Dalai Lāmas was at Lhāssa.

According to Koeppen four roads meet at Tashi Lunpo; one leading to
Lhāssa, one to Ladāk, one to Nepāl, and one to Bhutān.

Near at hand, on the north-east side of the Tashi Lunpo monastery, on a
rocky eminence protecting it from the cold winds, stands the fort of
Shigatse (also written Shigatze), which, with its surrounding houses,
forms the capital of the province of Tsang, just as Lhāssa constitutes
that of the province of U.

Our fellow countryman, Mr. Bogle, commissioned by Warren Hastings to
open communications between Bengal and Tibet, arrived at Tashi Lunpo in
1774. His description of it is to the following effect. I give it
abbreviated (from Mr. Clements Markham’s Tibet):—

  We passed by the foot of Tashi Lunpo, which is built on the lower
  declivity of a steep hill. The roof of the palace is all of
  copper-gilt. The building is of dark-coloured brick. The houses of the
  town rise one above another. Four churches with gilt ornaments are
  mixed with them. Altogether the town presents a princely appearance.
  Many of the courts are spacious, flagged with stone, and have
  galleries running round them. The alleys, which are likewise paved,
  are narrow. The palace is appropriated to the Lāma and his officers,
  to temples, granaries, warehouses, etc. The rest of the town is
  entirely inhabited by priests, who are in number about four thousand.

The following is the substance of Mr. Bogle’s account of his interview
with the Tashi Lāma on November 8, 1774 (abbreviated from Markham’s

  In the afternoon I had my first audience of the Tashi Lāma. He is
  about forty years of age, of low stature, and inclining to be fat. His
  complexion is fairer than that of most Tibetans, and his arms are as
  white as those of a European; his hair, which is jet black, is cut
  very short; his eyes are small and black. The expression of his
  countenance is smiling and good-humoured. He was upon his throne,
  formed of wood carved and gilt, with some cushions above it, upon
  which he sat with his legs folded under him. He was dressed in a
  mitre-shaped cap of yellow broadcloth, with long bars lined with red
  satin, a yellow cloth jacket without sleeves, and a satin mantle of
  the same colour thrown over his shoulders. On one side of him stood
  his physician, with a bundle of perfumed sandal-wood rods burning in
  his hand; on the other stood his cup-bearer. I laid the Governor’s
  presents before him, delivering the letter and the pearl necklace into
  his own hands, together with a white handkerchief on my own part,
  according to the custom of the country. He received me in the most
  engaging manner. I was seated on a high stool covered with a carpet.
  Plates of boiled mutton, boiled rice, dried fruits, sweetmeats, sugar,
  bundles of tea, dried sheep’s carcases, etc., were set before me and
  my companion, Mr. Hamilton. The Lāma drank two or three dishes of tea
  with us, but without saying any grace, asked us once or twice to eat,
  and on our retiring threw white handkerchiefs over our necks. After
  two or three visits, he used to receive me without any ceremony, his
  head uncovered, and dressed only in the large red petticoat worn by
  all full monks, red boots, a yellow cloth vest, with his arms bare,
  and a piece of coarse yellow cloth thrown across his shoulders. He sat
  sometimes in a chair, sometimes on a bench covered with tiger-skins,
  and nobody but the cup-bearer present. Sometimes he would walk with me
  about the room, explain the pictures, or make some remarks upon the
  colour of my eyes, etc. For, although venerated as God’s vicegerent
  through all the eastern countries of Asia, and endowed with a portion
  of omniscience and with many other divine attributes, he throws aside
  in conversation all the awful part of his character, accommodates
  himself to the weakness of mortals, endeavours to make himself loved
  rather than feared, and behaves with the greatest affability to
  everybody, particularly to strangers.

In 1783, when Tashi Lunpo was visited by Captain Turner, the monastery
consisted of 400 houses, many of which were built of stone and marble,
and at least two stories high. They contained about 3700 monks (now
3800). Around the houses were gilded temples, pinnacles, pyramidal
monuments (Stūpas), and above all the palace of the Tashi Lāma, forming
a striking spectacle.

Captain Turner had a remarkable interview with the Grand Lāma at the
neighbouring monastery of Terpaling, on December 4, 1783. He found the
princely child, then aged eighteen months, seated on a throne, with his
father and mother standing on the left hand. Having been informed that,
although unable to speak, he could understand, Captain Turner intimated
to him ‘that the Governor-General, on receiving news of his decease, had
been overwhelmed with sorrow, and continued to lament his absence from
the world until the cloud was dispelled by his re-appearance. The
Governor hoped that he might long continue to illumine the world by his

The infant looked steadfastly at the British envoy, and appeared to be
listening to his words with deep attention, while he repeatedly nodded
his head, as if he understood every syllable. He was silent and sedate,
and conducted himself with astonishing dignity. Captain Turner thought
him one of the handsomest children he had ever seen. It seems that he
grew up to be an able and devout ruler, gratifying the Tibetans by his
presence for many years, and living to a good old age.

Tashi Lunpo was not visited by the French missionaries, but M. Huc
informs us (ii. 157) that in 1846 the then Panchen Lāma was 60 years of
age, and still vigorous. M. Huc was told that he was of Indian origin,
and that he had declared of himself that his first incarnation had taken
place in India some thousands of years before.

Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās, from whose notes of a journey in Tibet so many
extracts have been already given, writes thus of his arrival at Tashi
Lunpo on the 9th of December, 1881 (the extract is not given literally,
and is abbreviated):—

  In the afternoon we arrived at Tashi Lunpo. In front of the western
  entrance I noticed two Chortens (that is, ‘Ćaityas or Stūpas,’ see p.
  504 of these Lectures), one very large, with a gilt spire, and the
  other small. On entering the grand monastery, I mustered all my
  knowledge of Buddhist ceremonies and monkish etiquette, that I might
  not be criticised by the passing monks as one unacquainted with the
  duties of the wearers of the sacred costume. I walked slowly and with
  gravity, but secretly observing everything around me. There were a few
  yaks under the charge of three or four herdsmen, waiting probably for
  the return of some of their number from within the monastery. Some
  monks, riding on mules, passed us from north to south. A few parties
  with heavy grain packages on their backs were entering the monastery
  along with us. The rays of the sun, now slanting on the gilded spires
  of houses and tombs in the monastery, presented a very magnificent
  view to the eye.

  While residing in the monastery I saw people busily engaged in
  out-door work, such as collecting fuel and tending cattle. In fact,
  this was the busiest part of the year, when the Tibetans remain on the
  move for the purpose of buying and selling, at a time when the
  intensely cold winds wither up the vegetation, freeze the streams,
  harden the soil, and dry up the skin. The monks, like the lay-people,
  are remarkable for their habit of early rising. No monk within the
  walls of the monastery rose later than five in the morning, and the
  usual time for getting up was four a. m. Those who slept later,
  without any special cause, were subject to correction. At three in the
  morning the great trumpet summons all the monks to the religious
  service in the congregation hall. Whoever fails to attend is punished
  next morning. No register is kept, yet the officer who superintends
  the discipline can tell what monk out of two thousand has absented
  himself on any particular day. I was the only man who slept up to six
  in the morning. The monks used often to remark that, were I a regular
  monk of the monastery, the superintendent’s birch would have stript my
  body of its flesh.

About six miles from Tashi Lunpo, and on the road leading from it in a
south-westerly direction towards the monastery of Sakya (see below), is
the monastery of _Narthang_, whence issued one of the three copies of
the Kanjur (p. 272) brought to Europe by Brian Hodgson.

We have now to notice the two most important monasteries of the Red

First, _Sam ye_ (Sam yas) is on the great river Tsanpo, about forty
miles from Lhāssa, in a south-easterly direction. It was the first
monastery founded in the eighth century by Padma-sambhava, after King
Khri Srong De Tsan’s restoration of Buddhism (pp. 271, 272). It is the
metropolitan monastery of the Red-capped monks and Urgyanpa sect. Sam ye
was visited by the Indian explorer Nain Singh in 1874, on his final
journey to Lhāssa[236], and by Sarat Chandra Dās in 1882. Many of its
images are of gold, and it possesses an extensive library.
Padma-sambhava was a master of Indian Yoga and magic. He is fabled to
have worked many miracles—such as filling empty jars with divine
water—at Sam ye. He undertook to expel all evil demons from Tibet, but
was opposed by the Bon priests.

The other chief monastery of the Red sect is that of _Sakya_ (Saskya),
situated about fifty-five miles from Tashi Lunpo, on the road leading in
a south-westerly direction towards Nepāl. It has four great sanctuaries
and a celebrated library, and is surrounded by a large town, with
temples and houses mostly painted red (p. 273).

It should be noted that in all the large monasteries of Northern
Buddhist countries, varied assortments of vestments, robes, costumes,
and masks are kept for use in the religious dances, masquerades, and
dramatic performances which are a characteristic of Northern Buddhism.
Indeed, some of the richer monasteries possess extensive wardrobes of
great value, and the monks in their masquerading dances change their
costumes very frequently and with great rapidity (see pp. 347-350).

Note, too, that the libraries of such monasteries generally contain
large and valuable collections of books. The 108 volumes of the northern
canon called Kanjur, with the commentaries called Tanjur (see p. 272),
constitute a library in themselves. In addition to these, there are vast
numbers of other treatises written to elucidate the mysteries of
Northern Buddhism, most of which are still a terra incognita to European
scholars. It is well known that in mediæval times some Buddhist
monasteries became seats of learning, which might have vied with the
most learned Universities established at that period in Europe.


Although temples have been already adverted to as forming an important
feature in all monasteries, and often an actual part of the edifice
constituting the monastery; it will be worth while to devote a short
space of time to their separate consideration.

In the earliest days of Buddhism neither temples nor halls nor rooms for
meeting together (saṅgha-gṛiha) were much needed. The monk recited the
Law in the open air or in the houses of the laity. It was only when
collections of monks crystallized into regularly organized communities,
and a kind of congregational recitation of the Law became a part of
every day’s duty, that the monks required places of assembly like
churches for the performance of religious services.

Such places of meeting were often, like the cells for the monks,
excavated out of rocks. And, since relic-shrines called Ćaityas (as well
as Stūpas, see p. 504) were erected at the further extremity of the
excavated hall, the hall itself was generally called a Ćaitya.

The two principal rock-excavated Ćaitya-halls visited by me were at
Elorā (also spelt Ellora and Elurā) and at Kārle (Kārlī). I was also
much interested in a smaller one at the Nāsik caves. In their interior
structure they are all strikingly like ancient Christian churches.

The _Elorā_ Ćaitya forms one of the series of caves already mentioned
(p. 169). It is probably as old as the sixth century of our era, and is
of an elongated horse-shoe shape, with a massive ribbed roof arched like
that of a cathedral, supported on twenty-eight octagonal columns, over
which runs a curious frieze, having on it a carved representation of a
buffalo-hunt and boar-chase. There is a nave with side-aisles about 86
feet long by 43 broad. Moreover, over the entrance, supported by two
square columns, is a gallery which may have served for a choir or for a
band of musicians. A lofty solid Dāgaba, in shape like a massive dome
resting on a cylindrical base, stands at the further end of the nave,
the aisles being continued round it, so that worshippers may
circumambulate the apse. The front of this immense relic-receptacle is
hollowed out to receive a colossal sedent figure of the Buddha, about 17
feet high[237], with the Bodhi-tree carved in an arch above his head.
Two images of attendants are in an erect attitude, one on each side, but
are not so prominent as to draw off the eye from the immense central

The Brāhmans have now appropriated this cave, and dedicated it to
Viṡva-karma, the supposed patron deity of builders and carpenters. I was
told that carpenters come from all parts of the country to worship the
image in its Brāhmanical character. As a token of honour, they smear it
with red paint.

I noticed a remarkable sculpture carved out of the rock near this
cave-temple. It represented worshippers praying to Padma-pāni to be
delivered from fire, from sword, from captivity, from wild beasts, from
snakes, and from the skeleton Death who is seen approaching.

The Ćaitya cave at _Kārle_, near Poona, which I visited in 1876, is in
all its dimensions and arrangements similar to the Viṡva-karma cave at
Elorā, but is still larger, finer, and more imposing. It has a nave and
side aisles, terminating in an apse, round which the aisle is carried.
The whole is about 124 feet long by 45½ feet broad and 46 feet in
height. There are fifteen pillars on each side, separating the nave from
the aisles, and under the dome of the apse is the Dāgaba (or Ćaitya)—a
two-storied cylindrical drum, surmounted by a Tee ornament (p. 456), on
which is a wooden umbrella. There is a cavity in the Dāgaba for relics,
though none are now to be found there.

This wonderful excavation at Kārle is one of the most magnificent
monuments of ancient Buddhism, and one of the most interesting examples
of early Buddhistic art to be seen anywhere in India. And, more than
this, it is probably one of the most striking places of congregational
worship to be seen anywhere in the world.

Of course these rock-excavated churches soon developed into temples
(Vihāras) built of stone or brick, some of which were of a monumental
character, like that at Buddha-Gayā, already described (see p. 390),
while others were unpretending structures near villages, where the laity
could repeat their prayers or make offerings. Others, again, formed the
most important edifice among the group of buildings constituting a

The village temples might more suitably be called chapels. All have some
features in common. At the further end of a dimly-lighted room is an
altar of stone or wood. On this are placed the idols, and around them
are arranged vases and cups, in which the offerings of the laity are
deposited. The larger edifices have vestibules, and at the entrance are
generally rude images of the four great kings (p. 206), who are supposed
to be the guardians of Buddhism (p. 206), while inside there are
sculptures, frescoes, and pictures illustrative of the various births
and transmigrations of the Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas. In the precincts
is always to be found a Bodhi-tree (Bo-tree, p. 519), if the climate and
soil will admit of its being reared. The greater number of sacred
structures, however, even those of a more important kind and more
entitled to be called temples, are mere square or oblong rectangular
buildings, without architectural design or ornamentation.

In Ceylon I visited a temple of this kind on the shore of the Kandy
lake. It consisted of a large bare room or small hall, at the further
end of which was a curtain concealing a highly venerated image of the
Buddha. The attendant drew aside the curtain and showed us the image,
which had representations of rays of light issuing from all parts of his
body, as well as five rays emerging from the crown of his head. In the
enclosure or ‘compound’ of the temple, was a bell-shaped Dāgaba or
relic-shrine of solid brick-work, covered with Chunam, and having a
receptacle for lights in front of it. Close at hand was the usual sacred

At _Kelani_, about eight miles from Colombo, is a larger and much more
important temple which I also visited. Those who make pilgrimages to
this temple gain great stores of merit. It contains a colossal recumbent
image of the Buddha, thirty-six feet long, lying on his right side, and
representing the founder of Buddhism when about to pass into
Pari-nirvāṇa (see p. 50). The image is protected by a screen, in the
centre of which is a figure of the King of Serpents, while at the sides
are gigantic images of the temple-guardians. Around the interior are
fresco paintings of various incidents in the previous lives of the
Buddha. There are also images of the Hindū gods Vishṇu, Ṡiva, and Gaṇeṡa
(see p. 206). In the garden of the temple are residences for the monks,
a cloister-like enclosure, a room with a good printing press, and an
immense Pīpal-tree.

A still more important temple is that called the Dalada Māligāwa or
temple of the sacred eye-tooth, at Kandy in Ceylon. This is a very
picturesque structure, situated on the margin of the lake close to the
town. It has no surrounding walls, and is easily accessible to all
comers. Steps lead up to a kind of open corridor, in which is the main
entrance, and the walls of which are decorated with coloured frescoes of
the eight principal hells—the supposed abode of evil-doers undergoing
purgatorial torments during one of their states of existence (see p.

Some are represented in the act of being cut in pieces by demons, or
fixed on red-hot iron spikes, or torn asunder with glowing tongs, or
sawn in two with saws, or crushed between rocks, or consumed by flames
entering the apertures of their bodies. The European visitor inquires
with amazement how it is that a system so mild, merciful, and tolerant,
should have invented the horrible tortures here exhibited. The
explanation is not difficult, and his astonishment ceases when he is
reminded that Buddhism, recognizing no moral Governor of the Universe,
is compelled to resort to such artifices for the coercion and
intimidation of evil-doers.

In the interior of the building is the shrine, in which is preserved
behind iron bars, the golden Dāgaba or receptacle of one of the Buddha’s
eye-teeth (see p. 500). On each side are images, and when I visited the
shrine, the whole chamber was redolent with the fragrance of masses of
flowers—chiefly jasmine—recently deposited before them as offerings.

Behind the building I found an open quadrangle with cells for the monks,
and a residence for the Head of the monastery. Not far from the entrance
was a spacious library, where I was greeted by a number of youthful
monks, dressed in simple toga-like vestments, but with their right
shoulders left bare. Some were engaged in writing. I therefore asked for
a specimen of their penmanship. Upon which they wrote down for me on
palm leaves, in the Sinhalese character, forty-eight epithets of the
Buddha, such as the following:—God of the gods, Indra of Indras, Brahmā
of Brahmās, the Almighty, Omniscient, Existing in his own Law, Lord of
the Law, Saviour of all, Conqueror, King of doctrine, Ocean of grace,
Treasury, Jewel, Sun, Moon, Stars, Lotus, Ambrosia of the World, the
Five-eyed one, the Bull, Elephant, Lion among men, stronger than the
strongest, mightier than the mightiest, more merciful than the most
merciful, more meritorious than the most meritorious, more beautiful
than the most beautiful, etc.

The temples in Burma are commonly called ‘pagodas,’ a word corrupted
from the Pāli Dāgaba (Sanskṛit Dhātu-garbha), ‘receptacle of the
(sacred) elements’ or relics of the body. They are also called Dagohn.
According to Mr. Scott (‘Burman,’ i. 184), the number of temples in
Burma far exceeds those in Ceylon or Tibet or China. No village so poor
as to be without its ‘neatly kept shrine, with the remains of others
mouldering away around it; no hill so steep as to be without its
glittering gold or snow-white spire rising up to guard the place; no
work of merit so richly paid as the building of a pagoda.’ Some are of
simple construction, others elaborate; but of all the temples the great
Rangoon pagoda is the grandest and most crowded with worshippers and

The peculiar sacredness and popularity of this wonderful structure (said
to have been founded 588 B.C.), arises from its containing relics of
Gautama and his three predecessors, that is, eight hairs from Gautama’s
head, the staff of Kāṡyapa, the robe of Kanaka-muni, and the
drinking-cup of Kraku-ććhanda (see p. 135 of these Lectures). The
stately pile stands upon a mound—partly natural, partly artificial—cut
into two rectangular terraces one above the other, the upper being 166
feet above the ground, and each side facing one of the cardinal points
of the compass. The ascent is by very dilapidated steps, some of stone,
some of ‘sun-dried bricks, worn almost into a slope by the bare feet of
myriads of worshippers.’ None but Europeans may ascend with covered
feet. The stairs lead to a ‘broad, open flagged space, which runs all
round the pagoda, and is left free for worshippers.’ From the centre of
this springs, from an octagonal plinth, the ‘profusely gilt _solid
brick_ pagoda,’ which has a circumference of 1355 feet, and rises to a
height of about 328, ‘or nearly as high as St. Paul’s cathedral.’ On the
summit is ‘the Tee,’ a gilt umbrella-shaped ornament with many tiers of
rings, on each of which ‘hang multitudes of gold and silver jewelled
bells.’ It was ‘placed there at a cost of not much less than
£50,000[239].’ At the foot of the pagoda are four chapels, having
colossal figures of Buddha at the sides, and their gilded interiors
darkened by the vapour of thousands of burning tapers. ‘Hundreds of
Gautamas,’ large and small, white and black, gilded and plain, sitting,
standing, and reclining, surround the larger images. It is said that the
great pagoda has been thrice covered with gold-leaf.

There is a still higher pagoda (332 feet high) at Pegu, and the most
ancient of all is at Arakan.

Passing to Northern Buddhist countries, we find that the temples are
generally simple, and not to be compared with the grand pagodas of

For example, at Tassiding in Sikkim, Sir Richard Temple (Journal, ii.
204) found that the two principal temples were chapel-like structures
with ‘overshadowing umbrella-shaped roofs, thatched with split bamboos.’
The walls were of rough stone, the upper half being painted red. The
interiors, which were dimly lighted, had two stories, the walls being
covered with coloured frescoes illustrating the punishments in the
various hells, ‘some of which would be suitable for illustrations of
Dante’s Inferno.’ The ends opposite to the entrance were filled with
images. In other parts of the chapels were praying-machines, and on
shelves the remnants of a library of sacred Buddhist manuscripts. Sir
Richard attended a religious service in one of these chapels, which
consisted of a series of chants and invocations to a female demon called
Tanma, represented by a hideous lay figure dressed in robes. According
to tradition, it was the malevolent action of the twelve Tanmas in
bringing pestilences on the Tibetans, that led them to send for
Padma-sambhava, who introduced the debased Buddhism subsequently
prevalent in Tibet (Note by Capt. R. C. Temple).

According to Dr. Schlagintweit (p. 189) and Koeppen the generality of
temples in Mongolia and Tibet consist of one large square or rectangular
room, with an entrance-hall or vestibule, which in Mongolia looks to the
south and in Tibet to the east. ‘The inside surface is whitewashed or
covered with a kind of plaster,’ and decorated with paintings
representing episodes taken from the life of the Buddhas, or with
pictures of gods and goddesses of terrible aspect. Generally images of
the four great kings are placed here as guardians of the sanctuary (p.
206 of this volume). Sometimes there are side chambers, which may be
compared to transepts, and give the building the form of a cross. These
chambers often have shelves for the sacred books, wrapped in silk. In
the corners are tables for images of the deities, religious dresses,
musical instruments, etc. Other articles required for the daily service
are hung up on wooden pegs along the walls. Benches for the Lāmas are
placed in the hall of the temple.

The altar at the further extremity rises in steps made of wood,
beautifully carved and richly ornamented. Upon these are arranged images
of the Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas, and especially the chief idol
representing Gautama Buddha in some of his forms and attitudes. Here
also are vessels for offerings, bells, Dorjes (p. 323), and other
utensils used in religious worship. Among the latter may be seen the
mirror (Melong, see p. 463) used in the ceremony described at p. 335.
There is also a vase with peacock’s feathers, and a sacred book is never

The vessels for offerings are of brass, and like tea-cups. They are
usually filled with barley, butter, and perfumes, and in summer with
flowers. Near at hand is a Chorten (p. 380) containing relics, and
having a niche with the image of a Buddha or Bodhi-sattva, to whom the
temple may perhaps be dedicated.

Finally, in the entrance-vestibule, at both sides of the door, as well
as in the interior, stand rows of large and small prayer-cylinders,
which are perpetually kept revolving by the attendant Lāmas.

Of course the temples at the great centres of Tibetan Buddhism in and
near Lhāssa, Tashi Lunpo, and other important places, are far more
imposing. Indeed, for magnificence, few religious edifices in any part
of the world can compare with them.

The great temple (called _Cho Khang_) in the monastery of _Lā brang_ at
Lhāssa is a kind of centre of the Lāmistic Church. It is the first and
oldest temple, and, as before stated (p. 440), the St. Peter’s of

The facade of this vast structure looks to the east, and in front of it
is a square place, with a kind of obelisk or monolith, commemorating the
victory of the Tibetans over the Chinese in the ninth century, as well
as more recent treaties of peace and friendship between the two
countries. The main building is three stories high. Before the entrance
stands a lofty flag-pole, forty feet high[241], and not far off is a
poplar, said to have sprung ‘from the consecrated hair of Buddha.’ The
portico of the temple consists of a colonnade of six thick wooden
columns. The walls of the portico are covered with rude paintings,
representing scenes in the biography of Gautama Buddha. In the middle
are folding doors adorned with bronze carvings in relief. Through these
is the entrance into the front hall, over which is the first story. In
the wall opposite to the entrance is a second door, on each side of
which stand two colossal statues of the four great kings (see pp. 23,
51, 53, 54 of this volume).

This second door leads into the interior of the building. On entering,
the visitor finds himself in a vast temple, shaped like a basilica,
divided by rows of columns into three naves and two transepts. The broad
central nave is lighted from above by transparent oil-cloth instead of
glass. This is the only light which finds its way into the temple, as
there are no side windows. On the outside of the two secondary naves is
a row of small chapels, fourteen on one side and fourteen on the other.
The two transepts form the back-ground of the great hall, and are
separated from the naves by a silver lattice-work. Here, at the ordinary
services, are the seats of the inferior monks. From the west transept a
staircase leads to another pillared transept, which forms the vestibule
of the sanctuary. In the middle of the sanctuary, which is square in
form, is the altar for offerings. Beyond the altar, at the west side of
the sanctuary, and therefore in the furthest recess of the whole
building, is a quadrangular niche. In front of this niche on the left is
the throne of the Dalai Lāma, very lofty, richly adorned and furnished
with five cushions, as is customary in the case of Grand Lāmas. On one
side of the Dalai Lāma’s throne is a similar throne for the Panchen
Lāma, and then, in regular order, the thrones of the Khutuktus and other
Avatāra Lāmas. The Khanpos and the whole non-Avatāra monkhood have seats
in the transept.

Opposite to the throne of the Dalai Lāma, on the right of the niche, is
the chair of the Regent, which is less elevated than the thrones of the
Avatāra Lāmas. Behind are the seats of the four ministers, which again
are less elevated than those of the non-Avatāra Lāmas. At the west end
of the niche is the high altar, which rises in numerous steps. On the
upper steps are small images of deified saints, in massive gold or
silver. On the lower ones, as on all Buddhist altars, are lamps,
incense-holders, bowls for offerings, etc. On the highest elevation,
behind silver and golden lattice-work, is the celebrated image of
Gautama Buddha richly gilded. This image is said to have been
constructed in Magadha during the lifetime of the Buddha. Others hold it
to be self-produced; and another tradition ascribes its origin to the
god Viṡva-karma, who, instructed by Indra, constructed it with equal
parts of five metals and five precious stones. Besides this highest
object of worship, the temple contains countless images and pictures of
Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas (such as Dīpaṃkara, Amitābha, Maitreya, the
eleven-faced Avalokiteṡvara, Mañju-ṡrī, etc.), besides gods and
goddesses[242], and historical personages, such as Tsong Khapa, who have
benefited the Lāmistic church (among them being a statue of Hiouen
Thsang), as well as relics, and gold and silver vessels, which are
exhibited every year at the beginning of the third month.

Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās, who, in his ‘Narrative,’ records his visit to the
great Lhāssa temple, informs us that when he was there, five thousand
oil-burners were lighted in the court of the temple, and those before
the principal image were all of gold. He found some of the subordinate
chapels infested by mice, which are never touched, because supposed to
be metamorphosed monks. He observed some Buddhists from Nepāl chanting
Sanskṛit hymns, and others engaged in circumambulation, while the
muttering of Om Maṇi padme Hūm (p. 372) was incessant.

Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās also describes a visit he paid to the famous
shrine of _Ramoćhe_, before adverted to (see p. 441). I give his
description in an abbreviated form:—

  Our equipment was as usual a bundle of incense-sticks, clarified
  butter, and a few scarves. Our road turned westward by the side of a
  long Mandong (see p. 380). I left it to my right-hand side, seeing
  that to have kept it on my left would have been heretical. A few
  hundred paces brought us to the gate of the famous temple of Ramoćhe,
  erected by the wife of King Srong Tsan Gampo, the first Chinese
  princess who introduced Buddhism into Tibet. It is a lofty edifice,
  flat-roofed, and three stories high, surrounded by a stone wall, with
  a high and wide porch. About thirty monks were solemnly seated to
  perform a religious service, on two sides of a row of pillars which
  supported the roof. The image brought by the Nepālese princess, lay
  midway between the pillars. It was grand-looking; and, though its face
  was gilded, its antiquity was manifest. In the northern lobby of the
  temple was a vast collection of ancient relics, such as shields,
  spears, drums, arrows, sabres, long knives, trumpets, etc. In a room
  to the left of the entrance, enclosed by iron lattice-work, were a few
  images considered especially sacred. We were also shown a brass
  mirror, called Melong, said to be possessed of wonderful properties.

The history of the shrine, according to the same traveller, is this:—The
princess being thoroughly versed in astrology, found that there was a
spot close to the new-built city of Lhāssa which was connected with the
lower regions of torment. On that plot of ground she erected the shrine
of Ramoćhe, on the chief altar of which she placed the famous statue of
Buddha, brought from China. In this way she hoped to intercept the
passage (_gati_) of wicked people to a life in one of the hells (see p.
121). Whoever, at the time of death, was brought to this sanctuary,
could only be born again in the worlds of either men or gods.

Finally we come to the temple at the second great Metropolis of

Mr. Bogle (Markham’s Tibet, p. 100) describes the temple in the
monastery at Tashi Lunpo as simply a long room or gallery containing
thirteen gigantic figures made of copper gilt, all in a sedent attitude,
with their legs folded under them. He found them all draped, with
jewelled crowns and necklaces of coral, pearls, and other stones. The
thrones on which they sat were also of copper gilt, and adorned with
turquoises and cornelians. Behind them were a variety of conch-shells,
set in silver, ostrich-eggs, cocoa-nuts, and other articles. At each end
of the gallery was a large collection of books deposited in
pigeon-holes. Mr. Bogle was present when the Tashi Lāma himself entered
the temple, and, as he passed along, sprinkled rice upon the images.
This was a kind of consecration-ceremony.

As an instance of the tolerant character of Buddhism and its readiness
to accommodate itself to the indigenous creeds of the countries into
which it was introduced, we may note, in conclusion, that in Japan may
be seen Buddhist and Shinto temples side by side or even occasionally
combined in one building. Buddhism in fact adopted Shintoism in Japan
just as it adopted Shamanism in Tibet. It took the deities and demi-gods
of Shintoism and turned them into Bodhi-sattvas[243].

The subject of Monasteries and Temples naturally leads us to that of
images and image-worship; but this and the whole subject of ‘Sacred
Objects’ must be reserved for the next two Lectures.

                              LECTURE XVI.
                          _Images and Idols._

On several occasions during my travels through all parts of India, I
asked intelligent Paṇḍits how they could reconcile the gross idolatry
and fetish-worship which meet the eye at almost every step throughout
the length and breadth of their land, with the doctrine repeatedly
declared to be the only true creed of Brāhmanism—the doctrine that
nothing really exists but the one eternal, omnipresent Spirit of the
Universe (named Brahman or Brahmă)[244].

The answer I generally received to this inquiry was, that spiritual
worship was at first the only form of religion dominant in India, till
the Buddhists set the example of worshipping material objects and images

Of course it is impossible to say what amount of truth there may be in
this accusation. It seems probable that material impersonations of the
forces of nature existed before the Buddha’s time. Yet there is no
evidence of the prevalence of actual idolatry at the time when the
Ṛig-veda was composed. Nor is there any very clear allusion to it in
Manu. Nor have any images of Hindū gods been found which are so ancient
as some Buddhist images. At the same time nothing is said about
image-worship in the Buddhist Piṭakas. The statement that the Buddha
himself sanctioned idolatry is wholly legendary (see p. 177). Nor is
there any proof that carved images of his person were common in India
till several centuries after his death.

The Bharhut sculptures of about the second century B.C.—though
representing many scenes connected with the Buddha (see pp. 408,
523)—exhibit no representations of the Buddha himself. Nor are there any
on the Sānchī gateway of still later date.

The only objects of reverence in the Bharhut sculptures, according to
Sir A. Cunningham, are Bodhi-trees, Wheels, the Tri-ratna symbol,
Stūpas, and foot-prints (see pp. 521-522 of these Lectures). The
bas-reliefs on the railing at the Buddha-Gayā Temple, which is of a
little earlier date, agree in making the Tree, Wheel, Tri-ratna, and
Stūpa the great objects of reverence. On the other hand, in the edicts
of king Aṡoka veneration for the Bodhi-tree alone is enjoined. Among the
historical scenes represented in the Bharhut sculptures, are the
processions of the kings Ajāta-ṡatru and Prasenajit on their visits to
the Buddha; ‘the former on his elephant, the latter in his chariot,
exactly as they are described in the Buddhist chronicles.’ There are
also bas-reliefs which seem to represent Rāma, during his exile, besides
images of other gods, Yakshas and Nāgas, but no figure of Buddha himself
is to be seen anywhere.

Yet it is undeniable that in the early centuries of our era, images of
Gautama Buddha and other Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas had become common
among the Buddhists in every part of India.


 Found in the ruins close to the south side of the Buddha-Gayā temple,
the date (S. 64 = A.D. 142) being inscribed on the pedestal. (see p. 481)

One of the oldest statues of the Buddha that has yet been brought to
light is the colossal image (now in the Calcutta Museum) dug up in the
ruins outside the ancient temple at Buddha-Gayā (p. 390), the date
inscribed on which corresponds to about A.D. 142. The engraving
(opposite) is from a photograph of this statue, belonging to Sir A.
Cunningham[245]. The thick lips are certainly remarkable. The attitude
was probably the ‘argumentative’ or ‘teaching’ (described at p. 481).
Another colossal statue of about the same date was found by Sir A.
Cunningham at Ṡrāvastī (see p. 408).

It was indeed by a strange irony of fate that the man who denied any god
or any being higher than himself, and told his followers to look to
themselves alone for salvation, should have been not only deified and
worshipped, but represented by more images than any other being ever
idolized in any part of the world. In fact images, statues, statuettes,
carvings in bas-relief, paintings, and representations of him in all
attitudes are absolutely innumerable. In caves, monasteries, and
temples, on Dāgabas, votive Stūpas, monuments and rocks, they are
multiplied infinitely and in endless variety, and not only are isolated
images manufactured out of all kinds of materials, but rows on rows are
sculptured in relief, and the greater the number the greater religious
merit accrues to the sculptor, and—if they are dedicated at sacred
places—to the dedicator also.

And not only images of the Buddha, but representations of every object
that could possibly be connected with him, became multiplied to an
indefinite extent.

The gradual growth of what may be called objective Buddhism, and the
steps which led to every kind of extravagance in the idolatrous use of
images, may be described in the following manner:—

It was only natural that the disciples of an ideally perfect man, who
had taught them that in passing away at death he would become absolutely
extinct, should have devised some method of perpetuating his memory and
stimulating a desire to conform to his example. Their first method was
to preserve the relics of his burnt body, and to honour every object
associated with his earthly career. Then, in process of time, they began
to worship not only his relics but the receptacles under which they were
buried, and around these they placed sculptures commemorative of his
life and teaching. Thence they passed on to the carving or moulding of
small statuettes of his person in wood, stone, metal, terra-cotta, or
clay, and on these they often inscribed the well-known Buddhistic
formulæ mentioned before (see p. 104). Eventually, too, painting was
pressed into the service, and frescoes on walls became common. Indeed in
some temples paintings take the place of images, as objects of

It seems likely that the use of images and paintings was at first
confined to the brotherhood, and it is alleged that they were only
honoured and not worshipped. But the more the circle of uncultured and
unthinking Buddhists became enlarged, the more did visible
representations of the founder of Buddhism become needed, and the more
they became multiplied.

Nor was this all. The reaction from the original simplicity of Buddhism
led to a complete repudiation of its anti-theistic doctrines. It adopted
polytheistic superstitions even more rapidly and thoroughly than
Brāhmanism did. People were not satisfied with representations of the
founder of Buddhism. They craved for other visible and tangible objects
of adoration—for the images of other Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas—of gods
many and lords many—insomuch that a Buddhist Pantheon was gradually
created which became peopled with a more motley crowd of occupants than
that of Brāhmanism and Hindūism.

Furthermore, it was only natural that the manufacture of the whole array
of divinities and semi-divinities, of saints and sages, should have been
committed to the monks. They alone possessed this privilege. They alone,
too, had the power of consecrating each image by the repetition of
mystical texts and formularies. And when images and idols were thus
consecrated, they were believed to be animated with the spirit, and to
possess all the attributes of the beings they represented.

In fact, the development of every phase of idolatrous superstition
reached a point of extravagance unparalleled in any other religious
system of the world. The monks of Buddhism vied with each other in the
‘pious fraud’ with which they constructed their idols. They so
manipulated them that they appeared to give out light or to flash
supernatural glances from their crystal eyes. Or they made them deliver
oracular utterances, or they furnished them with movable limbs, so that
a head would unexpectedly nod, or a hand be raised to bless the
worshipper. Then they clothed them with costly vestments, and adorned
them with ornaments and jewels, and treated them in every way as if they
were living energizing personalities.

It ought, however, to be noted here, that in some temples images of the
Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas were said to exist which were not manufactured
or consecrated by monks. They were believed to have been self-produced,
or to have been created supernaturally out of nothing, or to have
emerged in a miraculous manner out of vacuity. The child-like faith of
uncultured and imaginative races in the virtue supposed to be inherent
in such images was perhaps not surprising. The power of working all
kinds of miracles was gradually ascribed to them; sicknesses were said
to be healed by them, rain to be produced, and the course of nature
itself to be subject to their direction and control.

The two Chinese pilgrims Fā-hien and Hiouen Thsang are never tired of
describing the wonders supposed to have been wrought by the statues and
idols they saw during their travels, especially by the marvellous
sandal-wood statue mentioned before (see p. 408).

The following tradition in regard to this image, narrated by Fā-hien
(Legge, 56, 57), is especially interesting as showing that the general
belief among all classes of Buddhists in his time was, that Gautama
Buddha himself was the first to sanction the making of visible
representations of himself:—

  When Buddha went up to the Trayastriṉṡa heaven and preached the law
  for the benefit of his mother for ninety days, Prasenajit longing to
  see him, caused an image to be carved in Goṡīrsha sandal-wood, and put
  in the place where he usually sat. When Buddha, on his return, entered
  the Vihāra, this image immediately left its place, and came forth to
  meet him. Buddha then said to it: ‘Return to your seat. After I have
  attained Pari-nirvāṇa you shall serve as a pattern to the four classes
  (paths, see p. 132) of my disciples.’ Thereupon the image returned to
  its seat. This was the very first of all the images of Buddha, and
  that which men subsequently copied.

In Hiouen Thsang’s narrative, which is of much later date (see p. 413),
we find the following account of this celebrated sandal-wood image
(Beal, ii. 322):—

  At the town of Pimā (Pi-mo) there is a figure of Buddha in a standing
  position made of sandal-wood. The figure is about twenty feet high. It
  works many miracles, and reflects constantly a bright light. Those who
  have any disease, according to the part affected, cover the
  corresponding place on the statue with gold-leaf, and forthwith they
  are healed. People who address prayers to it, with a sincere heart,
  mostly obtain their wishes. This is what the natives say: ‘This image
  in old days, when Buddha was alive, was made by Udayana, King of
  Kauṡāmbī (see p. 412 of these Lectures). When Buddha left the world,
  it mounted of its own accord into the air, and came to the north of
  this kingdom to the town of Ho-lo-lo-kia (Urgha?).’

With regard to the form and character of the countless images now
scattered everywhere, they vary according to country and period (see p.
485). It should be observed, however, that Buddhism, when it began to
encourage idolatry, did not make it hideous by giving monstrous shapes
to its idols. In this respect early Buddhism contrasted very favourably
with Hindūism. Nor did the Buddhists of India, as of other countries,
adopt the practice of endowing their idols with extra heads and arms to
symbolize power, or of inventing grotesque combinations of the human
figure with the shapes of elephants, birds, serpents, and other animals.
They seemed rather to have tried in the first instance to neutralize the
tendency to extravagant symbolism common among all Eastern peoples, by
delineating their great teacher as an ideal man, simply and naturally
formed, according to the Buddhist ideal of perfection with symmetrical
limbs, and a dignified, calm, passionless, and majestic bearing. What
can be a greater contrast than the four-armed elephant-headed
village-god of India,—Gaṇeṡa, son of Ṡiva[246]—and the purely human
figure of the Buddha as shown in his statues!

Nevertheless it must be admitted that in process of time the
representations of Gautama Buddha developed certain peculiar varieties
of form as well as differences in attitude. These differences, indeed,
constitute a highly interesting topic of inquiry, and perhaps deserve
more attention than they have hitherto received in any treatise with
which I am acquainted.

Without going minutely into every point, we may begin by noting a few
general characteristics common to all the Buddha’s images.

In the first place, they all represent Gautama as clothed—not naked. In
this respect they present a pleasant contrast to the images of Jaina
saints; for, as already pointed out, Gautama discountenanced all
extremes of bodily mortification, and disapproved the practice of going
about nude, according to the custom of Hindū devotees. In the
Dharma-pada it is said, ‘Not nakedness, not matted hair, not dirt, not
fasting, nor lying on the ground, nor smearing with ashes, nor sitting
motionless can purify a mortal who has not overcome desires.’

Gautama’s robe was drawn gracefully over his shoulders like a toga, but
probably the right shoulder was always left bare on formal occasions.
The Piṭakas give no clear information as to this point. In Indian
statues the robe is sometimes represented as fitting so closely to the
body that the figure seems garmentless[247]; its presence being merely
denoted by a line running diagonally over the left shoulder across the
breast, and under the right arm. This line frequently looks so like a
cord that some have mistaken it for the thread to which, as a Kshatriya,
Buddha was entitled[248]. In some ancient images no trace of the line is
left, but they are not really nude. Most Indian images have the right
shoulder bare (even in the case of nuns). Of course in colder climates
both shoulders are covered. Even in Southern countries some have both
shoulders covered, or the right partially so.

In contradistinction to the clothed images of the Buddha, all the
representations of his great opponent and rival Deva-datta (see pp. 52,
405) make the latter unclothed, like a Jaina ascetic, or only partially
clothed up to the waist. Deva-datta is also represented as shorter in
stature than the Buddha.

Other characteristics generally to be observed in the earlier images of
Gautama Buddha are:—the impassive tranquil features, typical of complete
conquest over the passions, and of perfect repose; the absence of all
decoration and ornament; the long pendulous ears, which occasionally
reach to the shoulders[249]; the circle or small globe or lotus[250], or
auspicious mark of some kind, on the palm or palms of the supinated
hands (as well as often on the soles of the feet), and the short knobby
hair, often carved so as to resemble a close-fitting curly wig.

It must not be forgotten that Gautama signalized his renunciation of the
world by cutting off his hair with a sword, and the resulting stumps are
said to have turned into permanent knobs or short curls[251].

In images brought from Burma and Siam a curious horn-like protuberance
on the crown of the head—either tapering to a point, or rounded off at
the extremity—is noticeable. Often, too, sculptures found in India show
the rounded form of this excrescence.

Some think that it represents an ascetic’s mass of hair coiled up in a
top-knot on the crown of the head, as in images of the god Ṡiva. Others
regard it as the rough outline of what ought to be an Ushṇīsha or
peculiar crown-like head-dress, such as may be seen in many later images
of the Buddha. Some legends declare that the Buddha was born with this
Ushṇīsha, which was indicative of his future supremacy.

Others, again, maintain that this protuberance (sometimes lengthened out
so as to be as high as the head itself) was a peculiar growth of the
skull, and one of the marks of a supreme Buddha indicative of
supernatural intelligence; just as in other images (especially those
brought from Ceylon) five flames—in shape like the fingers of a hand—are
represented issuing from the crown of the head (see p. 453), to typify
the Buddha’s diffusion of light and knowledge throughout the world.

It is said that this outgrowth of the Buddha’s skull has been preserved
as a sacred relic in a town of Afghānistān near Jalālābād.

In many representations of the Buddha, a Nimbus or aureola of glory
encircles the head (see p. 478), and in some images rays of light are
represented as emerging from his whole body. An image with a halo of
this kind surrounding the entire figure was seen by me in a temple near
Kandy in Ceylon (see p. 453).

In Nepāl many images represent Buddha holding his alms-bowl, but these
are not common in other places.

With regard to the size of the images, they vary from diminutive
examples, two or three inches long, to colossal statues twelve,
eighteen, twenty, thirty, forty, or even seventy feet high. They are
generally carved in stone or marble, but sometimes in metal, sometimes
in wood, and occasionally moulded in clay.

Much difference of opinion prevails as to the Buddha’s actual stature.
When I asked the opinion of Buddhist teachers in Ceylon, they all agreed
in assigning to the founder of their religion a majestic bodily frame,
not only gifting him with the possession of the thirty-two
distinguishing marks of a perfect man and supreme Buddha (see p. 20),
but with great height and imposing presence. A common idea is that the
eighteen-feet statues represent life-size. According to other legends
the Buddha’s stature reached to twenty cubits. In China, the mythical
history of Buddha gives him a height of only sixteen feet[252]. His arms
are by some said to have been so long, that he was able to touch his
knees with his hands without stooping, and if we are to take the
supposed impress of his foot on Adam’s Peak and in Siam as the measure
of his stature, he must have been the most gigantic giant that ever
lived. Even one of the most enlightened natives of Ceylon, the late Mr.
James d’Alwis—a convert to Christianity—told me, in explanation of the
abnormal size of the eye-tooth at Kandy, that he was convinced that all
human beings were taller in Buddha’s time, and that Gautama was taller
than his fellow-men of those days, and was about eight feet high. It was
his opinion that as sin increases in the world, so men’s stature
decreases. Probably the Buddha was tall, even for the North-west of
India, where the average of a man’s stature is about five feet eight or
nine inches.


  Illustrating the four principal events in Gautama Buddha’s life—his
  birth from his mother’s side, his attainment of Buddhahood under the
    tree, his teaching at Benares, and his passing away in complete
            Nirvāṇa. (Date of the sculpture, about 400 A.D.)

As to the attitudes of Gautama’s images, they may be classed under the
three heads of sedent, erect, and recumbent. I use the word ‘sedent’ for
what ought to be called a squatting position, with the legs folded under
the body. Images which represent a figure sitting in European fashion
are rare.

Four principal images represent the four principal events in Buddha’s
life, as shown in the Sārnāth sculpture engraved on the opposite page
(compare p. 387).

The first sedent attitude may be called the ‘Meditative.’ The example
below is described at p. xxx. 15.

[Illustration: ]

This represents the Buddha seated, in meditation, on a raised seat under
the sacred tree, with the two hands supinated, one over the other.

[Illustration: ]

The second sedent attitude may be called the ‘Witness-attitude.’ It is
perhaps the most esteemed of all, and is represented in a good sculpture
delineated below (from Sir A. Cunningham’s photograph, see p. xxx. 17).
This represents Gautama at the moment of achieving Buddhahood after his
long course of meditation, seated on a lion-throne (siṉhāsana) with an
ornamental back, having two lions carved below (compare p. 394). His
legs are folded in the usual Indian fashion, the feet being turned
upwards, while the right hand hangs over the right leg and points to the
earth, and the left hand is supinated on the left foot. He has an
aureola round his head and a mark—perhaps the caste-mark of a
Kshatriya—on his forehead, and an umbrella over the sacred tree. This
attitude is well shown in the Sārnāth sculpture (facing p. 477).

The tradition is that at the moment of his enlightenment Gautama was
taunted by the evil being Māra with being unable to give any proof or
sign of his Buddhahood. Thereupon Gautama pointed, not to heaven as a
Brāhman might have done, but to the earth beneath his feet, calling it
to witness. Then a six-fold earthquake and other miraculous phenomena

At this time, too, the evil being Māra sent his enchanting daughters (p.
34) to seduce the Buddha. This is shown in the engraving facing p. 477.

The incident of calling the earth to witness is thus mentioned by Hiouen

  In the Vihāra, was found a beautiful figure of Buddha in a sitting
  position, the right foot uppermost, the left hand resting, the right
  hand hanging down. He was sitting facing the east, and as dignified in
  appearance as when alive. The signs and marks of a Buddha were
  perfectly drawn. The loving expression of his face was like life. Now
  it happened that a Ṡramaṇa, who was passing the night in the Vihāra,
  had a dream, in which he saw a Brāhman who said:—

  ‘I am Maitreya Bodhi-sattva. Fearing that the mind of no artist could
  conceive the beauty of the sacred features, I myself have come to
  delineate the figure of Buddha. His right hand hangs down, in token
  that when he was about to reach Buddhahood the evil Māra came to tempt
  him, saying, “Who will bear witness for you?” Then Tathāgata dropped
  his hand and pointed to the ground, saying, “Here is my witness.” On
  this an earth-spirit leapt forth to bear witness.’ (Beal’s Records,
  ii. 121, abridged.)

This ‘Witness-attitude’ is also shown in the annexed engraving from a
photograph of one of the only statues that remained in the exterior
niches of the ancient Buddha-Gayā temple before its restoration.

[Illustration: ]

The two seal-like circles on each side contain the usual ‘Ye dharmā’
formula (see p. 104 and p. xxx. 18).

The third sedent pose or position may be called the ‘Serpent-canopied.’
This is commemorative of the legend that Gautama, when seated in
meditation after his attainment of Buddhahood, was sheltered from a
violent storm by the expanded hood of the Nāga, or serpent-demon
Mućalinda (see p. 39), while the coils of the snake were wound round his
body, or gathered under him to form a seat. Similarly the ascetic form
of Ṡiva is often represented under a serpent-canopy.

Only one example of this has been found at Buddha-Gayā. Such images,
however, are common in the south, and their prevalence there is not
difficult to account for. Indeed, the connexion of Buddhism with the
serpent-worship of southern countries and with the Nāgas of Hindū
mythology (see p. 220 of these Lectures), was one inevitable result of
its readiness to graft popular superstitions on its own doctrines[254].

I procured a good specimen of the ‘Serpent-canopied’ Buddha during my
stay in Ceylon. It is made of heavy brass, and curiously enough
represents Buddha with an aquiline nose. It has the five rays of light
before alluded to (see pp. 453, 475) issuing from the crown of his head.
See the frontispiece opposite title-page.

In some images an umbrella alone, and in some, as at p. 478, both an
umbrella and tree form the canopy.

The fourth sedent posture may be called the ‘Argumentative’ (Tarka)
attitude (as shown in the engraving opposite p. 477). It represents
Gautama with the thumb and finger of the right hand touching the fingers
of the left, and apparently going through the heads of his
doctrine[255], and enforcing it, as he usually did, by reiterations.
This is sometimes called the ‘Teaching’ attitude.

Often the ‘Ye dharmā’ formula (see p. 104) is carved either under or at
the side of images in this attitude.

The fifth may be called the ‘Preaching’ attitude. It is often erect. The
Buddha has one finger raised in a didactic manner. Monks in the present
day often read the Law and preach in the same manner.

The sixth attitude also—as a rule—comes under the erect class, and is
often scarcely to be distinguished from the last. It may be called the
‘Benedictive’ attitude (Āṡirvāda). See the engraving opposite p. 477.

It represents the Buddha in the act of pronouncing a benediction, the
right hand being raised. This attitude is sometimes sedent. Even to this
day Buddhist monks bless laymen in a similar attitude. Occasionally the
figure with the hand upraised has a crown, and an ornamental head-dress;
but it may be taken for granted that all images of the Buddha which
represent him with a crown of any kind _after his attainment of
Buddhahood_, are comparatively modern and incorrect.

On the other hand, it is clear that even ancient sculptures, when they
represent him as a prince, may correctly give him decorations and a

The seventh attitude may be called the ‘Mendicant.’ This also is a
standing figure, holding a round alms-bowl in one hand, and sometimes
screening it with the other (compare p. 40). Examples of this attitude
are rare. There are no real mendicants in Buddhism. No monk ever begs,
he only receives alms.

The eighth and last attitude is recumbent, and this is perhaps as
important as the second, though not so common (see the uppermost figure
opposite to p. 477). It represents the moribund Gautama lying down on
his right side, with his head turned towards the north, and his right
cheek resting on his right hand, about to pass away in the final
consummation of Pari-nirvāṇa (see pp. 50, 140). In many representations
of this attitude, the usual five rays of light often mentioned before
are made to issue from the crown of the head. A colossal image of this
kind was seen by me in a temple near Colombo, and there is a good
example of it in the Indian Institute at Oxford[256]. In some carvings
of the dying Buddha a few attendants are represented, who hold
umbrella-like canopies over the recumbent figure, or bow down
reverentially before it. It has been asserted that this scene—as
commemorative of the grand consummation of the Buddha’s career through
countless existences—is held in as much reverence by Buddhists as the
crucifixion is by Christians.

The representation of the Buddha in the act of being born is found in
sculptures and bas-reliefs, but is never found as a separate image. It
represents him springing out of the side of his mother (note, p. 180).
This birth-scene is occasionally carved on temples. It is shown in the
lower part of the engraving (opposite page 477). The god Brahmā is seen
receiving the new-born child, while Indra stands on his right and the
mother’s sister (i.e. nurse, p. 24) is on her left.

Some representations of the Buddha, or of certain forms of the
Buddha—such as Amitābha—show a sedent figure emerging from a
lotus-blossom, or seated on a pedestal formed of lotus-leaves, this
flower symbolizing perfection.

It must not be forgotten that in every country the images of the Buddha
are generally moulded according to the type of countenance prevalent in
each country. Hence the contour and expression of face differ in Ceylon,
Burma, Siam, Tibet, Mongolia, China, and Japan, although as a rule the
features are calm, mild, meditative, and passionless.

In Burma the people are merry; hence the images sometimes have a twinkle
in the eye and smiling lips.

In China, again, examples sometimes occur of images which do not exhibit
Buddha as the ideal of a man who has conquered his passions, but rather
with the figure and features of a self-indulgent libertine[257]; while
others again portray him with a grim aspect.

We now pass on to the representations of other Buddhas, Bodhi-sattvas,
saints, gods and goddesses.

Often two other images are associated with that of Gautama Buddha

And, first of all, his image was joined with the other two persons of
the earliest Triad (see p. 175), viz. Dharma (the Law) and Saṅgha (the
Monkhood). A sculpture, in a broken and imperfect condition,
representing this earliest Triad, and dating from the ninth to the tenth
century, was found at Buddha-Gayā. The image of Buddha, under an
umbrella-like tree, is in the centre; that of the Saṅgha is on his
right, with a full-blown lotus (p. 177, note 2), and having one leg
hanging down, while that of Dharma (a female) is on his left with a
half-blown lotus. A drawing of this (from Sir A. Cunningham’s
photograph) is given below:—

[Illustration: ]

In Nepāl the image of Dharma is always that of a sedent female, who is
supposed to be an embodiment of supreme wisdom (prajñā pāramitā), and
sometimes has four arms (see note, p. 178).

Next come the images of the Buddhas who preceded Gautama, especially
Kāṡyapa Buddha, Kanaka-muni, and Kraku-ććhanda. It is often mentioned
that the images of one or other of these three, as of the Bodhi-sattvas,
are set up side by side with that of Gautama.

Then, of course, there are the images of the five Dhyāni-Buddhas.
Perhaps the commonest of these is that of Amitābha (see p. 203), but
images of Akshobhya and Ratna-sambhava are by no means rare.

Then as to the Bodhi-sattvas, of whom Maitreya is the first and the only
one worshipped by Buddhists of all countries (see p. 182), Fā-hien
records that he saw in Northern India a wooden image of Maitreya
Bodhi-sattva eighty cubits high, which on fast days emitted a brilliant
light. Offerings were constantly presented to it by the kings of
surrounding countries (Legge, 23).

Hiouen Thsang (Beal, i. 134) also describes this image of Maitreya as
very dazzling, and says it was the work of the Arhat Madhyāntika, a
disciple of Ānanda. He saw another image of Maitreya made of silver at
Buddha-Gayā, and another made of sandal-wood in Western India. The
latter also gave out a bright light. Probably these images were covered
with some kind of gilding.

In the present day the images of Maitreya often represent him with both
hands raised, the fingers forming the lotus-shaped Mudrā, the body
yellow or gilded, and the hair short and curly.

Passing next to the images of the triad of mythical Bodhi-sattvas,
Mañju-ṡrī, Avalokiteṡvara, and Vajra-pāṇi (p. 195), we may gather from
what has been already stated (p. 196), that the interaction of Buddhism
and Hindūism affected both the mythology and imagery of both systems.
Yet it does not appear that the images of the Bodhi-sattva Mañju-ṡrī
were ever unnaturally distorted. They are quite as human and pleasant in
appearance as those of Gautama and Maitreya. In general Mañju-ṡrī
represented in a sedent attitude, with his left hand holding a lotus,
and his right holding the sword of wisdom, with a shining blade to
dissipate the darkness of ignorance (see p. 201). His body ought to be

It was not till the introduction of the worship of Avalokiteṡvara that
the followers of Buddha thought of endowing the figures of deified
saints with an extra number of heads and arms.

The process of Avalokiteṡvara’s (Padma-pāṇi’s) creation and the
formation of his numerous heads by the Dhyāni-Buddha Amitābha, is thus
described (Schlagintweit, p. 84, abridged):—

  Once upon a time Amitābha, after giving himself up to earnest
  meditation, caused a red ray of light to issue from his right eye,
  which brought Padma-pāṇi Bodhi-sattva into existence; while from his
  left eye burst forth a blue ray of light, which becoming incarnate in
  the two wives of King Srong Tsan (see p. 271), had power to enlighten
  the minds of human beings. Amitābha then blessed Padma-pāṇi’s
  Bodhi-sattva by laying his hands upon him, so that by virtue of this
  benediction, he brought forth the prayer ‘Om maṇi padme Hūm.’
  Padma-pāṇi then made a solemn vow to rescue all the beings in hell
  from their pains, saying to himself:—‘If I fail, may my head split
  into a thousand pieces!’ After remaining absorbed in contemplation for
  some time, he proceeded to the various hells, expecting to find that
  the inhabitants, through the efficacy of his meditations, had ascended
  to the higher worlds. And this indeed he found they had done. But no
  sooner was their release accomplished than all the hells again became
  as full as ever, the places of the out-going tenants being supplied by
  an equal number of new-comers. This so astounded the unhappy
  Bodhi-sattva that his head instantly split into a thousand pieces.
  Then Amitābha, deeply moved by his son’s misfortune, hastened to his
  assistance, and formed the thousand pieces into ten heads.

Schlagintweit states, and I have myself observed, that Avalokiteṡvara’s
eleven heads are generally represented as forming a pyramid, and are
ranged in four rows. Each series of heads has a particular complexion.
The three faces resting on the neck are white, the three above yellow,
the next three red, the tenth blue, and the eleventh—that is, the head
of his father Amitābha at the top of all[258]—is red. In Japanese images
the heads are much smaller, and are arranged like a crown, the centre of
which is formed by two entire figures, the lower one sitting, the other
standing above it. Ten small heads are combined with these two figures.

The number of Avalokiteṡvara’s hands ought to amount to a thousand, and
he is called ‘a thousand-eyed,’ as having the eye of wisdom on each
palm. Of course all these thousand arms and eyes cannot be represented
in images. Still there is an idol in the British Museum which represents
him with about forty arms, two of which have the hands joined in an
attitude of worship.

A remarkable description of an image of Avalokiteṡvara seen by Sarat
Chandra Dās (so recently as 1882) in the great temple at Lhāssa occurs
in his ‘Narrative’ (which I here abridge):—

  Next to the image of Buddha, the most conspicuous figure was that of
  Chanrassig (i. e. the eleven-faced Avalokiteṡvara). The origin of this
  is ascribed to King Sron Tsan Gampo (p. 271 of this volume). Once the
  king heard a voice from heaven, saying that if he constructed an image
  of Avalokiteṡvara of the size of his own person, all his desires would
  be fulfilled.

  Thereupon he proceeded to do so, and the materials he used were a
  branch of the sacred Bodhi-tree, a portion of the Vajrāsana, some soil
  from an oceanic island, some sand from the river Nairañjana, some pith
  of Goṡīrsha sandal-wood, a portion of the soil of the eight sacred
  places of ancient India, and many other rare articles pounded together
  and made into paste, with the milk of a red cow and a she-goat. This
  paste the king touched with his head, and prayed to the all-knowing
  Buddhas and the host of Bodhi-sattvas, that by the merit of making
  that image, there might be god-speed to the great work he had
  undertaken—namely, the diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet.

  The gods, Buddhas, saints, etc. filled the aerial space to listen to
  his prayer.

  The king then ordered the Nepālese artist to hasten the completion of
  the image, and with a view of heightening its sanctity, obtained a
  sandal-wood image of Avalokiteṡvara from Ceylon and inserted it
  inside, together with the relics of the seven past Buddhas. When the
  work was finished, the artist said:—

  ‘Sire, I cannot say that I have made this image, it has passed into
  self-grown existence.’ Then a current of lightning flashed forth from
  its feet. Afterwards, the souls of the king and his queen are said to
  have been absorbed into it, in consequence of which this image is
  called ‘the five-absorbed self-sprung.’

It is recorded in another tradition that a wonder-working image of
Avalokiteṡvara was set up in a monastery near Kabul, and another in
Magadha near the Ganges. Any worshipper who approached these idols in
devotion and faith were favoured with a personal vision of the saint.
The statues opened, and the Bodhi-sattva emerged in bright rays of light
(compare Koeppen, i. p. 499).

Originally, and still in Tibet, Avalokiteṡvara (otherwise called
Padma-pāṇi) had only male attributes; but in China this deity (as we
have already mentioned at p. 200) is represented as a woman, called
Kwan-yin (in Japan Kwan-non), with a thousand arms and a thousand eyes.
She has her principal seat in the island of Poo-too, on the coast of
China, which is a place of pilgrimage.

There are two images of Kwan-yin in the British Museum, one with sixteen
arms and the other with eight.

Images of the third mythical Bodhi-sattva—the fierce Vajra-pāṇi,
‘holding a thunderbolt in one hand’—like one form of Ṡiva—are almost as
common as those of the merciful and mild Avalokiteṡvara. He has been
described in a previous Lecture (p. 201).

In the Pitt-Rivers collection at Oxford there is an image of this
Bodhi-sattva engaged in combating the power of evil. It is remarkable
that the figures of three monkeys are carved underneath, one stopping
his ears with his hands, another stopping his eyes, and another his
mouth, to symbolize the effort to prevent the entrance of evil desires
through the three most important organs of sense.

With regard to the images of female deities we may observe that Tārā,
the wife or Ṡakti of Amogha-siddha (p. 216), is represented as a green
sedent figure; her right hand on her knee, her left holding a lotus.

A standing image of the goddess Paṭṭinī (p. 217 of this volume) may be
seen in the British Museum.

In a temple which I visited near Dārjīling I saw the image of the
Padma-sambhava or ‘lotus-born’ form of Buddha occupying the centre of
the altar, with the images of Gautama Buddha and of Buddha Āyushmat, or
the ‘Buddha of Life,’ on each side.

Sir R. Temple (Journal, p. 212) relates how in a chamber of a Sikkim
monastery there were three figures, the central of which, with a fair
complexion, was Amitābha, that on its right Gautama Buddha, and on its
left Gorakh-nāth (see p. 193 of this volume).

In the monastery of Galdan (p. 441) Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās saw the golden
image of Tsong Khapa (with his golden chain and his tooth and his
block-prints), along with the images of Amitābha, Gautama, Maitreya,
Bhairava (the awful defender of Buddhism), Yama ‘the lord of death,’ and
his terrific messengers.

In the great Cho Khang at Lhāssa (see p. 459) he saw images of
Avalokiteṡvara, Mañju-srī, Maitreya, Kuvera, Padma-sambhava, with an
immense number of others, and especially one of the terrific goddess
Paldan (or Pandan) who is feared all over Tibet, Mongolia, and China, as
the greatest guardian deity of the Dalai and Tashi Lāmas and of the
Buddhist Dharma. He found her shrine infested with mice, who are
believed to be metamorphosed monks.

At Sera (p. 442) he saw images of the Buddha in his character of
‘demon-vanquisher,’ along with Maitreya (in silver), Avalokiteṡvara, the
six-armed Bhairava, the goddess Kālī, Dolkar (= Tārā, p. 271), the
Tāntrik Vajra-vārāhī, the sixteen Sthaviras (pp. 48, 255), and a great
variety of others.

At Radeng (p. 273) he saw a golden image of Milaraspa (p. 384).

In the monastery of Sam ye (p. 448) he saw images of the Indian Paṇḍits
who brought Buddhism into Tibet, with a vast number of other images.

At Tashi Lunpo he saw golden images of Buddha and Maitreya, besides
images of 1000 other Buddhas (p. 189), and the four guardians of the
quarters (p. 206).

At Yarlung he saw an image of Vairoćana Buddha, besides images of the
sixteen Sthaviras, and a gigantic image of the king of the Nāgas, and a
terrific representation of the demon Rāvaṇa (of the Rāmāyaṇa).

At Mindolling he saw fresco paintings of the six classes of beings (p.
122) inhabiting the six corresponding worlds. Of course delineations of
the Jātakas (p. 111) and pictures of all kinds were common in
monasteries and temples everywhere.

The two wonder-working images brought from Nepāl and China have been
already mentioned (p. 271).

As an illustration of the monstrous superstition and idolatry prevalent
in modern Buddhist countries, I venture, in conclusion, to quote, with
abridgment, the following description of an idol seen by Miss Bird in
Japan (see her ‘Unbeaten Tracks in Japan,’ published by Mr. Murray):—

  In one shrine is a large idol spotted all over with pellets of paper,
  and hundreds of these may be seen sticking to the wire-netting which
  protects him. A worshipper writes his petition on paper, or, better
  still, has it written for him by the priest, chews it to a pulp and
  spits it at the divinity. If, having been well aimed, it passes
  through the wire and sticks, it is a good omen, if it lodges in the
  netting the prayer has probably been unheard.

  On the left there is a shrine with a screen, to which innumerable
  prayers have been tied. On the right sits one of Buddha’s original
  sixteen disciples (see p. 47 of these Lectures). A Koolie with a
  swelled knee applied it to the knee of the idol, while one with
  inflamed eyelids rubbed his eyelids on it!

                             LECTURE XVII.
                           _Sacred Objects._

Next to the subject of images and idols comes that of certain sacred
objects which Buddhists of all Schools—whether adherents of the
Hīna-yāna or Mahā-yāna systems—hold in veneration; for example, relics,
relic-receptacles or Stūpas, foot-prints, trees, utensils, bells,
symbols, and animals.

The narratives of the Chinese travellers, frequently mentioned before,
teem with descriptions of such objects. Take, for instance, Fā-hien’s
account of the district of Nagāra, near Peshawar in Northern India
(Legge, 34-40), in which several sacred objects are stated to exist—such
as a fragment of Buddha’s skull, one of his teeth, portions of his hair
and nails, his alms-bowl, his staff (contained in a wooden tube, so
heavy that even a thousand men could not lift it), his robe, and the
impression of his shadow. This was at the beginning of the fifth century
of our era.

Fā-hien’s statements are confirmed by Sung-Yun, the next Chinese
traveller mentioned before (p. 161 of this volume[259]), who started on
his journey rather more than a century after Fā-hien.

  We then visited the Ki-Ka-lam temple near Nagāra. This contains the
  yellow robe (Kashāya) of Buddha in thirteen pieces. Here also is the
  staff of Buddha, in a wooden case covered with gold-leaf. The weight
  of this staff is sometimes so heavy that a hundred men cannot raise
  it, and at other times it is so light that one man can lift it. In the
  city of Na-kie (Nagarahāra) is a tooth of Buddha and also some of his
  hair, both of which are contained in precious caskets. Morning and
  evening religious offerings are made to them.

  We next arrive at the cave of Go-pāla, where is the shadow of Buddha.
  To anyone entering the cavern, and looking for a long time (or, from a
  long distance) at the western side of it opposite the door, the
  figure, with its characteristic marks, appears; on going nearer, it
  gradually grows fainter and then disappears. On touching the place
  where it was, there is nothing but the bare wall. Gradually
  retreating, the figure begins to come in view again, and foremost is
  conspicuous that peculiar mark between the eyebrows (ūrṇa), which is
  so rare among men.

  Before the cave is a square stone, on which is a trace of Buddha’s
  foot (Beal’s Translation, p. cvii, abridged).

Hiouen Thsang, the third traveller, confirms the statements of his
predecessors in regard to the relics in this district, and adds as

  There is another little Stūpa, made of the seven precious substances,
  in which is deposited the _eye-ball_ of the Buddha, large as an Āmra
  fruit, and bright and clear throughout. It is deposited in a sealed-up
  casket (Beal, i. 96).

It is easy to perceive from the above extracts that the worship of
certain sacred objects connected with the founder of Buddhism had become
even in Fā-hien’s time a marked feature of Buddhism. In fact, the number
of such objects increased so rapidly that before long it became usual to
classify them under three heads as follow[260]:—

(1) Ṡārīrika (or Ṡarīra-dhātu or simply Ṡārīra), objects which once
formed part of the Buddha’s body, such as a bone, a tooth, a hair, a

(2) Pāribhogika, ‘objects possessed or used by the Buddha,’ such as his
seat, alms-bowl, drinking-vessel (kumbha), staff, vestments, and even
his spittoon. Under this division is placed the Bodhi-tree.

(3) Uddeṡika, objects worshipped as in some way commemorative of the
Buddha or of some event or incident in his life.

It would be difficult to decide under which of these categories the
_sacred books_ containing the Buddha’s Law are to be placed, and yet
they are deeply revered, and at the present day almost deified, as if
they were intelligent and omniscient beings. They are wrapped in costly
cloth or silk, and their names are mentioned with the addition of
honorific personal titles. Occasionally such sacred books are placed on
a kind of rude altar, near the road-side, that passers-by may place
offerings of money upon them[261].

Without attempting, therefore, to follow any particular classification,
we proceed to notice some of the chief objects in the order of their
importance, beginning with relics.


Adoration of relics constitutes an important point of difference between
Buddhism and Brāhmanism; for Brāhmanism and its offspring Hindūism are
wholly opposed to the practice of preserving the ashes, bones, hair, or
teeth of deceased persons, however much such individuals may have been
revered during life.

I remarked in the course of my travels through India that articles used
by great religious teachers—as, for example, robes, wooden shoes, and
seats—are sometimes preserved and venerated after their death. All
articles of this kind, however, must, of course, be removed from the
body before actual decease; for it is well known that, in the minds of
Hindūs, ideas of impurity are inseparably connected with death, and
contamination is supposed to result from contact with the corpses of
even a man’s dearest relatives. Nor is the mortal frame ever held in
veneration by the Hindūs as it was by the ancient Egyptians, and as it
generally is in Christian countries.

Even the living body is regarded as a mass of corruption, a thing to be
held in contempt, and a constant impediment to sanctity of life. How
much more then ought every part of a dead body to be got rid of without
delay! Hence in the present day a corpse is burnt, and its ashes are
generally scattered on the surface of sacred rivers or of the sea.

It is true that the bodies of great Hindū ascetics and devotees are
exempted from this rule. They are usually buried—not burnt. Not,
however, because the mere corporeal frame is held in greater veneration,
but because the bodies of the most eminent saints are supposed to lie
undecomposed in a kind of trance, or state of intense ecstatic
meditation (samādhi).

The Buddhist, too, is a thorough Hindū in contemning the living body;
but when the corpse is burnt, he does not scatter the ashes on rivers.
He takes measures to preserve them.

We know that according to the teaching of Brāhmanism the burning of a
corpse is followed by religious ceremonies called Ṡrāddhas[262]. The
greater the number of Ṡrāddhas which a living man is able to perform in
behalf of his deceased relatives, the greater is the benefit which
accrues to their souls; and if the dead man’s soul happens to be in one
of the hells, the sooner it is released from its purgatorial pains.

A true Buddhist, on the other hand, considers all such Ṡrāddhas as
useless; although it is certainly a fact that in the end the more
developed Buddhism of the North invented similar ceremonies, called
Bardo (see pp. 293, 334).

True Buddhism, in short, has only one way of honouring ancestors, and
only one method of keeping alive the memory of those perfected saints
whose whole personality has become extinct, and whose transition into
other forms of life has finally ceased.

The calcined ashes, or certain unconsumed portions of the body—such as
fragments of bone or hair or nails or teeth—are deposited in

Of course the most sacred of all Buddhist relics are those of the Buddha
himself. It is said that after the cremation of his corpse the chief
remains consisted of four teeth, the two cheek-bones, and fragments of
the skull. But it is believed that, even before his death, portions of
his hair and nails were preserved and placed under Dāgabas (Stūpas). One
legend relates that when Gautama had decided on abandoning all worldly
associations, his first act was to cut off the mass of his hair, with
its ornament (ćūḍā-maṇi), and that these were taken up by the god Indra
to the Trayastriṉṡa heaven, and there placed under a Dāgaba and
worshipped by the gods.

Fā-hien, in a passage already alluded to, says that in the country of
Nagāra there is a particular spot where Buddha shaved off his hair and
clipt his nails, and, having done so, proceeded to erect a lofty mound
or Stūpa to enshrine them, as well as to be a model for all future
Stūpas (p. 504 of this volume).

Hiouen Thsang relates a tradition that when the two travelling merchants
Trapusha and Bhallika (see p. 40) were converted, the Buddha gave them
at their own request some of his own hair and nail-parings, besides his
alms-bowl, staff, and a portion of his clothing, and bade them deposit
each article in Stūpas or Dāgabas. The two merchants, it is narrated,
went home to their own country and acquired an enormous stock of
religious merit by being the first to erect a Stūpa for the reception of
personal memorials of the great Buddha. According to a tradition the two
merchants were from Burma, and the shrine which was erected to receive
eight of his hairs afterwards developed into the great Rangoon Dāgaba
(Pagoda). It may be inferred from this legend (as Dr. Oldenberg has
already remarked) that the care of the Buddha’s relics, and the
institution of ceremonies in their honour, were in the first instance
left to the devotion of religiously minded Buddhist laymen.

  ‘What are we to do,’ Ānanda asks of the Master, when his end is
  drawing near[263], ‘with the body of the Perfect One?’ ‘Let not the
  honours due to the body of the Perfect One trouble you, Ānanda. Seek
  ye rather perfection for yourselves. There are, Ānanda, wise men among
  the nobles, the Brāhmans, and the citizens, who believe in the Perfect
  One; they will honour the body of the Perfect One.’

Hiouen Thsang (Beal, ii. 40) also states that when certain Indian Rājas,
eight in number, heard of the Buddha’s death, they collected armies and
marched to Kusi-nārā (p. 424) to seize portions of the relics; but the
prince of Kusi-nārā refused to give them up. In the end the matter was
settled amicably, and the relics were divided, so that each of the eight
princes might take a share. Then all departed to their own homes, and
each prince built a Stūpa over his own portion of the relics. The gods
also took their portions.

Fā-hien (chap. xxiii) alludes to the building of the eight Stūpas, and
adds that king Aṡoka destroyed them, and in their place built 84,000
others—one for the conservation of each atom of the elements of the
Buddha’s body; the belief being that the bodies of all human beings
consist of that number of elementary particles (see p. 423). The
eight-fold division is described in ‘Buddhist Suttas,’ pp. 133-136 (S.
B. E. vol. xi).

It appears probable that the earliest relics of his burnt body held in
honour were his teeth; and of these again the most celebrated seem to
have been his four eye-teeth. One of the four is said to have been
appropriated by the gods and another by the Nāgas, while the third was
taken to Gāndhāra in the north-west, and the fourth to Kaliṅga in the

The first two eye-teeth have only mythical histories, and little is
recorded of the third, but the fourth has gone through a series of
terrestrial adventures, which have been much written about and would
fill several volumes. One of the immediate followers of Gautama is said
to have gained possession of it on the occasion of the eight-fold
distribution of the great sage’s relics (p. 499), and to have conveyed
it to a place afterwards called Danta-pura, ‘tooth-city[264],’ the
capital of Kaliṅga (Orissa), where it is believed to have remained
undisturbed for about 800 years. After that period it was seized, at the
instigation of some Brāhmans, by a powerful Hindū king who reigned at
Pāṭaliputra. Its vicissitudes and adventures for centuries afterwards
were very varied. It was conveyed surreptitiously to Ceylon about the
year 311 of our era by a princess of Kaliṅga, who concealed it in her
hair. There it remained till 1315, when it was carried back to Southern
India. After a time it was taken back to Kandy in Ceylon. Next it was
seized by the Portuguese and carried off to Goa. Thence it was
transported to Pegu, and finally the precious tooth-relic (dāṭhā-dhātu),
or at least some imitation of it, was restored to the good people of
Kandy, where it is still preserved by them as a veritable Palladium,
with every possible precaution against further outrage, although under
the protecting ægis of our government its security ought not any longer
to be matter of anxiety.

Every native of Ceylon (Laṅkā), whether Buddhist or Hindū, seems to feel
that the welfare of his country depends on its careful conservation. At
any rate the Sinhalese have placed their tooth-temple—called Dalada
Māligāwa—in the loveliest part of their beautiful island (see p. 454),
amid richly wooded hills, from which may be obtained some of the most
enchanting views in the world. The eye-tooth is in appearance like a
piece of discoloured ivory about two inches[265] long, and one inch
across in the thickest part. Indeed, all the supposed relics of the
Buddha’s body, and the dress and implements he used, are of such a size
as to make his worshippers believe that his stature far exceeded that of
ordinary men.

The tooth is enclosed in nine bell-shaped, jewelled golden cases, one
within the other, each locked by a key, and each key consigned to the
custody of a separate official. The interior cases increase in
costliness till the most highly jewelled of all is reached, and within
this on a golden lotus lies the relic. When I visited the tooth-temple
in 1877, the cases were kept within iron bars in a dimly-lighted
shrine—redolent with flower-offerings which exhaled an overpowering
perfume—and in the very centre of the buildings of the temple. When the
Prince of Wales visited Kandy in 1876, all the officials assembled to
unlock the cases and exhibit the treasured relic.

A detailed account of the tooth is given in a book called Dalada-vaṉṡa
or Dāṭhā-vaṉṡa, said to have been written originally in ancient
Sinhalese (Elu) about the year 310 of our era, and translated into the
sacred Pāli about the year 1200. This book has been rendered into
English by the late Sir Coomāra Swāmy. The tooth is also described in
many other Pāli and Sinhalese books, including the Mahā-vaṉṡa.

And here it may be remarked that one feature of the Buddha’s relics was
that they gave forth on special occasions celestial light, and had the
power of working miracles. Sometimes a reverent circumambulation of the
shrine which contained the relics was believed to be sufficiently
efficacious in stimulating their miraculous powers. Sometimes they were
taken out and exhibited. The following extract from Fā-hien reminds one
of what takes place at Kandy in the present day:—

  In the city of He-lo (the present Hiḍḍa, west of Peshawar) there is
  the flat-bone of Buddha’s skull, deposited in a Vihāra adorned all
  over with gold-leaf and the seven sacred substances. The king of the
  country revering the bone, and anxious lest it should be stolen, has
  selected eight individuals representing great families, and committed
  to each a seal with which he should seal the shrine and guard the
  relic. At early dawn these men come, and after each has inspected his
  seal, they open the door. This done they wash their hands with scented
  water, and bring out the bone, which they place on a lofty platform,
  where it is supported on a pedestal of the seven precious substances.
  The king every morning makes his offerings and performs his worship.
  The chiefs of the Vaiṡyas also make their offerings. Then they replace
  the bone in the Vihāra, under a Stūpa of the seven precious substances
  (p. 528 of this volume) more than five cubits high (Legge, pp. 36-38,

Fā-hien records a similar exhibition of the Buddha’s alms-bowl in the
country near Peshawar:—

  When it is mid-day they bring out the bowl and make offerings to it.
  It may contain about two pecks, and it has a bright lustre. When poor
  people throw into it a few flowers, it becomes full. If the rich throw
  in myriads of flowers, they are not able to fill it.

He states that the Buddha’s robe was also brought out to be worshipped:—

  When there is a drought the people collect in crowds, bring out the
  robe, pay worship to it and make offerings, on which there is
  immediately a great rain from the sky (Legge, pp. 35, 39, abridged).

The relics of all great saints in Buddhist countries were revered in a
similar manner. At the same time it ought to be noted that the
periodical exhibition of relics, before the eyes of worshippers, was not
a usual occurrence (as it is in Roman Catholic countries). Indeed, as a
general rule, the custom seems to have been to shield the ashes and
remains of revered dead bodies from observation and liability to be
touched. Hence they were commonly sealed up hermetically, as it were, in
the interior of receptacles which effectually concealed them from view
and protected them from disturbance.

And this leads us to advert to the form and character of Buddhist

It is probable that at a very early period, and even before the Buddha’s
time, the Hindūs were accustomed to raise heaps or tumuli over the ashes
of kings, great men, saints and sages, just as even to this day among
the Sikhs of the Panjāb, the ashes of great men are so honoured. Some
think that the hemispherical dome-like form of the tumulus was intended
to represent a bubble—the most transitory of all material objects. In
all likelihood the dome of the Sāñchī Stūpa—which is thought to be as
old as the time of Buddha—was constructed in memory of some great man.

Such heaps were at first generally called Ćaityas, and afterwards Stūpas
(from the Sanskṛit roots ći and styai, meaning ‘to heap together’); but
Ćaitya ultimately denoted a relic-structure in an assembly-hall (see p.
450), while the word Stūpa denoted one in the open air. Then inside the
Ćaitya or Stūpa (Pāli Thūpa, corrupted into Tope) there was a
casket—made of silver, gold, stone, earthenware, etc.—in which were
deposited the ashes, fragments of bone, or the teeth or nails of the
deceased. And this relic-casket was called in Sanskṛit Dhātu-garbha, or
in Pāli Dāgaba (corrupted into Dagoba and afterwards into Pagoda)—that
is, a repository of the elementary particles of which all bodies are

Then in time the word Dāgaba (Pagoda) denoted the monument as well as
the relic-casket. Moreover Ćaityas and Stūpas were often mere pyramidal
structures, enshrining images or marking important events (see p. 390),
but not containing relics. Among the Hindūs Ćaitya often denotes the
sacred village-tree planted on a mound.


            (Date about ninth or tenth century of our era.)

The process by which the simple Ćaitya or mound developed into more
elaborate structures is remarkable. First came erections of stone or
brick, generally bell-shaped or domed like bee-hives. These again
expanded into elongated pyramidal structures, springing from cylindrical
or octagonal or hexagonal bases, and ornamented with images of Gautama,
and resting on plinth-like foundations, the summits tapering into
finials consisting of three, or seven, or nine, or eleven, or even
fifteen tiers of umbrella-shaped ornaments (see note, p. 393).

Then, again, in time, these elaborate Dāgabas expanded into vast Pagodas
of enormous height, as, for example, the Rangoon Pagoda (see p. 456) and
that at Anurādha-pura in Ceylon.

It is doubtful whether in early Buddhism Ćaityas and Stūpas were ever
empty monuments or cenotaphs. Probably all of them contained ashes,
fragments of bone, teeth, or hair, though in some cases the most careful
examination has failed to discover the vessel in which they were
deposited. If made of fragile materials, it rapidly crumbled into dust.
But Stūpas, even without relics, were themselves objects of reverence.

In the later period of Buddhism the practice of carving, or moulding
mere memorial or votive Stūpas, and dedicating them at sacred spots
became common. The examples of this kind of Stūpa which I saw unearthed
at Buddha-Gayā have been described (p. 397).

The engraving opposite to this page is a copy of one of these votive
Stūpas which I procured for the Indian Institute through Mr. Beglar.

At Mandalay there is a large Pagoda with about 620 smaller ones round it
(in rows of six or seven deep). Each small Pagoda enshrines a
tablet—exposed to view—on which some portion of the Law is engraved.
Many small Pagodas are simply canopies of brick or some solid material
erected over images.

Outside the Buddhist convent near Dārjīling, when I visited it in 1884,
a monk was roughly moulding a number of small votive Stūpas in clay,
with which he was probably mixing the powdered bones of some deceased
Lāma. Here is a copy of one exactly the size of the original:—

[Illustration: ]

If broken open, a terra-cotta seal, inscribed with some sacred formula,
would probably be found inside.

Of course most of the Buddha’s chief disciples, such as Sāriputta,
Maudgalyāyana, Kāṡyapa, Ānanda, Upāli, each had Stūpas erected over
their relics.

                         _Sacred Foot-prints._

Next in importance to the worship of relics is that of foot-prints
(Sanskṛit Ṡrī-pada or Ṡrī-pāda). Everywhere throughout Buddhist
countries the supposed impressions of the Buddha’s feet are as much
honoured as those of the god Vishṇu are by Vaishṇavas.

When Fā-hien reached Gṛidhra-kūṭa (see pp. 404, 406), he is said to have
used words to the following effect: ‘I, Fā-hien, was born when I could
not meet with Buddha, and now I only see the foot-prints which he has
left’ (Legge, 83).

It is well known that the practice of bowing down and honouring the feet
is a thoroughly Asiatic custom. The idea seems to be derived from a kind
of _a fortiori_ argument. If the feet, as the lowest member of the body,
are honoured, how much more is homage rendered to the whole man. Hence
children honour their parents, not by kissing their faces, but by
prostrating themselves at their feet and touching them reverentially.
Another reason for venerating the feet is well expressed in one of our

  O let me see Thy foot-marks,
  And in them plant my own;

and in Longfellow’s

    Foot-prints on the sands of time;
  Foot-prints which perhaps another,
    Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
  A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
    Seeing may take life again.

This shows that even Europeans are familiar with the idea. There is a
Roman Catholic church at Vienna which possesses a celebrated image of
Christ on the Cross. On one occasion I visited this church and observed
several worshippers kissing the feet of the image, while others—too
short in stature to reach it with their lips—touched its feet with their
fingers and then kissed their fingers. A similar honour is paid to the
images of St. Peter at Rome, and indeed to that Apostle’s living
representatives. The alleged foot-prints of Christ are not numerous, but
they exist in certain holy places[266].

Every sentiment in the East is exaggerated, and it need not therefore be
matter of wonder if a veneration for foot-prints has led to an excessive
multiplication of these symbols, and to an excess of superstitious
worship paid to them by Hindūs of various sects in every part of India.
No true Vaishṇava will leave his house in the morning without marking
his forehead with the symbol of Vishṇu’s feet. In travelling from one
place to another I often came across what appeared to be an empty
shrine, but on a close inspection I found that it contained two
foot-prints on a little raised altar made of stone. These are called
Pādukā ‘shoes,’ but are really the supposed impressions of the soles of
the feet of the person to whom the shrines are dedicated. In 1876 I
visited the celebrated Vishṇu-pad temple at Gayā. Crowds were
worshipping the foot-mark impressed on the bare stone, but concealed by
offerings, and surrounded by a silver fence under a silver canopy (see
‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 309).

It is true that Buddhists never imitate the practice of the worshippers
of Vishṇu by marking their foreheads with the supposed impressions of
the Buddha’s feet, but they will nevertheless make long and toilsome
pilgrimages to bow down before what they believe to be the impression of
his foot on a rock.

The Jainas, who are the only Hindū representatives of the Buddhistic
system left in India, are quite as ardent foot-print worshippers. In
1884 I ascended Mount Pārasnāth (Pārṡva-nāth) in Bengal at the same time
with crowds of Jaina pilgrims who, like myself, toiled up the hill to
visit the numerous Jaina temples scattered over the uneven surface at
the summit, some five thousand feet above the plain. Our objects were
very different. Theirs was the acquisition of merit, mine was the
acquirement of knowledge. Lepers lined the rough pathway, and much
additional merit was held to accrue to the pilgrims by distributing alms
among them. I found that nearly every shrine at the summit consisted of
a little domed canopy of marble, covering two foot-prints of some one of
the twenty-four Jaina saints (especially Pārṡva-nāth) impressed on a
marble altar. The soles of the supposed foot-prints were either white or
black and marked with small gilded circles.

Groups of worshippers bowed down before the shrines and deposited
offerings of money, rice, almonds, raisins, and spices on the
foot-marks. No sooner did they quit one shrine for the next, than a
troop of frolicking monkeys promptly took their place and scampered off
with the edible portion of the objects offered.

It is impossible to state positively when either Buddhism or Jainism
first introduced foot-print worship, but the practice must have begun
very early.

With regard to this point General Sir A. Cunningham, in his account of
the Bharhut Stūpa—a Stūpa which dates from the second century

  Foot-prints of Buddha were most probably an object of reverence from a
  very early period—certainly before the building of the Bharhut
  Stūpa—as they are represented in two separate sculptures there. In the
  first sculpture the foot-prints are placed on a throne or altar,
  canopied by an umbrella, hung with garlands. A royal personage is
  kneeling before the altar, and reverently touching the foot-prints
  with his hands. The second example is in the bas-relief representing
  the visit of Ajāta-ṡatru to Buddha. Here, as in all other Bharhut
  sculptures, Buddha does not appear in person, his presence being
  marked by his two foot-prints. The wheel symbol is duly marked on both
  (p. 112, abridged).

The General justly remarks that perhaps the worship of the Buddha’s
foot-prints may have sprung up in imitation of the homage alleged to
have been paid by Mahā-Kāṡyapa and 500 monks to his feet, which, it is
said, were exposed to view when his body was lying on the funeral pile.
The legend states that while the monks were in the act of bowing down in
adoration before the feet, the funeral pile ignited spontaneously.

On one of the gate-pillars of the ancient Sāñchī Stūpa there is a
sculpture of a foot-print marked with the wheel (Ćakra, p. 522) symbol,
which the late Mr. Fergusson ascribed to the early part of the first
century of the Christian era.

There are also sculptured representations of the Buddha’s foot-prints at
Amarāvatī, supposed to date from the second or third century of the
Christian era. These representations are often carved on so-called
altars or else placed before altars.

But of all foot-prints, that on Adam’s Peak (the highest mountain in
Ceylon, more than 7000 feet above the sea), supposed to have been left
by the Buddha when he ascended thence to heaven, is the most celebrated.

According to Fā-hien (Legge, p. 102), when Buddha was in Ceylon he
planted one foot on the north of the royal city and the other on
Sumana-Kūṭa (Adam’s Peak), fifteen yojanas, or about a hundred miles,

This fancied impression of the Buddha’s foot (believed by Christians to
be that of St. Thomas, by Muhammadans to be that of Adam, and by Hindūs
to be that of the god Ṡiva) is merely a shapeless hollow in the rock,
five feet seven inches long by two feet seven inches broad, which would
give the Buddha a stature of about thirty-five feet. It is said to have
been discovered by a hunter at the beginning of the century before
Christ, and, although very difficult of access, is annually visited by
about 100,000 Buddhist pilgrims. Near it, on the summit of the mountain,
is a small temple dedicated to Saman (p. 217).

In a shrine near the tooth-temple at Kandy, I saw a so-called facsimile
of this foot-print. Those who are physically incapable of toiling up the
mountain to bow down before the sacred impression on the rock, gain
nearly as much merit by worshipping its copy. The shrine was filled with
fragrant flowers recently deposited on the facsimile.

Other foot-prints in various places throughout India, Burma, Siam,
Tibet, Mongolia, and China, are from two to five feet long. A tradition
is mentioned by Fā-hien (Legge, 29) that, when Buddha visited Northern
India, he came to the country of Woo-chang or Udyāna, and there he left
a print of his foot, which appears long or short according to the ideas
of the beholders.

Another legend states that Buddha left the print of his left foot on
Adam’s Peak, and then, in one stride, strode across to Siam, where he
left the impression of his right foot.

The Siamese hold their foot-print in as much reverence as the Sinhalese
hold theirs. It is called Phra Bat, and, according to Mr. Alabaster, its
appearance is like that of the foot-print on Adam’s Peak. Nothing is to
be seen but a hole in the rock, about five feet long by two broad. A
temple is built over it, and every precaution taken to protect it from
over-zealous worshippers. Mr. Alabaster thus describes his visit to this
sacred spot:—

  The grating which usually covers the foot-print was removed to enable
  us to see the bottom, but the temple was so dark that we could not see
  much of it. We moved aside some of the offerings lying on it, but
  could see nothing of the pattern except the five marks of the
  toe-nails—five grooves in the rock—which some declare to have been
  made with chisels. On inquiry we were told that the other marks were
  long ago destroyed by an accidental fire. Likeness to a foot there is
  none. Yet to this holy foot-print year after year crowds of Siamese
  flock with varied offerings, and even the most enlightened amongst
  them—the late King for instance—have observed and encouraged the
  practice. (‘Wheel of the Law,’ p. 284, abridged.)

The soles of the Buddha’s feet are represented as quite flat, and all
the toes of equal length. Each sole possesses, as we have seen (p. 20),
one hundred and eight auspicious marks (maṅgala-lakkhaṇa), and of these
the principal is generally the wheel (Ćakra), while around it are
grouped representations of animals, inhabitants of various worlds, and
symbols of different kinds. In all probability the idea is that all
things are subject to the Buddha or belong to him; they are therefore
metaphorically placed under his feet. (Compare the metaphor in Psalm
viii. 6-8.)

The one hundred and eight marks vary in various specimens. A good
typical example (brought from Burma) of the impression of one foot may
be seen in the British Museum. The sole is divided into compartments,
each compartment containing a mark. There are five conch-shells, one in
each of the five toes, this symbol being highly esteemed by Buddhists as
well as by Hindūs.

Among the one hundred and eight auspicious marks on the Siamese
foot-print are the following:—A spear, trident (tri-ratna), book,
elephant-goad, Indra’s elephant, dragon (makara), ocean, golden ship,
water with lotuses, conch-shell, four-faced Brahmā, umbrella, king of
Nāgas, king of horses, of tigers, of birds, sun, moon, ten mountains,
peacock, flag of victory, deer, fish, water-jar. The wheel (Ćakra) does
not occur in Mr. Alabaster’s list (‘Wheel of the Law,’ p. 290), but the
two feet of the Amarāvatī Stūpa, described by Mr. Fergusson, have a
wheel in the centre of the soles. Above is the Tri-ratna emblem with a
Svastika symbol on each side. There are other Svastika marks, and others
on the toes (see p. 523).

The Skanda-Purāṇa and Bhāgavata-Purāṇa give similar lists of marks on
the sole of Vishṇu’s foot.

                            _Sacred Trees._

We now pass on to a brief consideration of sacred trees. Most persons
are aware that the homage offered to trees and plants is not confined to
Buddhism. It existed very early in Brāhmanism and is still common
everywhere throughout India (see my ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 330).

In point of fact various forms of tree-worship prevail at the present
moment in almost every part of the world where superstition and
ignorance are ruling influences. Nor can we really condemn, as either
unnatural or unreasonable, the feeling of veneration with which trees
are generally regarded, bearing in mind the grateful shade and shelter
which they afford, the beauty of their foliage, their importance as
purifiers of the atmosphere, and the hundreds of useful purposes to
which their wood, leaves, and fruit are applicable. According to Dr. E.
B. Tylor (‘Primitive Culture,’ ii. 223), the North American Indians of
the Far West often hang offerings on the trees to propitiate the spirits
and procure good weather and good hunting. He adds that Mr. Darwin
describes the South Americans as doing much the same.

In Persia and other Eastern Countries trees may often be met with, the
branches of which have been recently hung with offerings of cloth, rags,
and even garments.

In India the notion of trees being inhabited by deities or semi-divine
beings or spirits is to this day very common, and we have already noted
(p. 112) that during the period of Gautama’s Bodhi-sattvaship, in the
course of which he had to undergo countless births in preparation for
his Buddhahood, he was born forty-three times as a tree-god.

In Siam, according to Mr. Alabaster, offerings are commonly made in the
present day to the spirits or deities inhabiting trees. People hang
various votive objects on the branches, or place them on a stand or
altar beneath any particular tree whose deity they wish to propitiate.
Moreover they are very averse to the cutting down of any trees of any
kind, lest the tree-gods should be angry.

  ‘Some years ago,’ says Mr. Alabaster, ‘when I employed my spare energy
  in showing the Siamese how to make roads in the, till then, roadless
  suburbs of Bangkok, I had to cut my lines through villages,
  temple-groves, orchards, plantations, and patches of jungle. For the
  “wicked” duty of cutting down the trees, a gang of the lowest
  criminals was placed at my disposal.’ But he adds that the removal of
  any specially holy building or tree was interdicted by the Government.

We have already seen that, according to the theory of later Buddhism,
every Buddha is supposed to have his own special tree under which he sat
and meditated, and in the end attained supreme knowledge (see p. 136).
For example, there is the Pippala (also called Aṡvattha, _Ficus
Religiosa_) sacred fig-tree of Gautama Buddha, the Vaṭa or Banyan-tree
(_Ficus Indica_) of Kāṡyapa Buddha, the Uḍumbara (_Ficus Glomerata_) of
Kanaka-muni; the Ṡirīsha (_Acacia Serisa_) of Kraku-Ććhanda; the Ṡāla
(_Shorea Robusta_) of Viṡva-bhū; the Puṇḍarīka (_White_ _Lotus_) of
Ṡikhin[267]; the Pāṭali (_Bignonia Suaveolens_) of Vipaṡyin.

These six Buddhas with Gautama are sometimes held to be the seven
principal Buddhas, and, according to some authorities, the tree of the
future Buddha (Maitreya) will be the Iron-wood tree (Sideroxylon)[268].
Specimens of some of these trees are to be found growing in the area of
the Buddha-Gayā temple, and several are represented in the sculptures of
the Stūpa of Bharhut (of the second century B.C.). On one of the pillars
of that Stūpa elephants are carved in the act of worshipping both the
Pīpal-tree and the Banyan-tree. In fact it must be borne in mind that
Gautama Buddha is said to have meditated under both of these trees, and
is therefore connected with both (see p. 39).

It might have been expected, too, that the Ṡāl-tree would have ranked
next in sacredness to the Pīpal and Banyan; for according to one legend,
Māyā gave birth to Gautama while standing under a Ṡāl-tree, and
according to another legend, Gautama died on a couch placed between two
Ṡāl-trees (pp. 23, 50). This tree, however, appears to be more honoured
in connexion with the Buddha Viṡva-bhū (p. 136, note 1).

There are other trees which were held in veneration by Indian
Buddhists:—for example, the Mango (Āmra) and the Jambu, and the Aṡoka.
The first of these appears frequently in sculptures, and is known by the
shape of its fruit.

Two other trees under which the Buddha is said to have meditated after
his attainment of Buddhahood—namely, the Mućalinda-tree[269] and the
Rājāyatana-tree—are not identified.

But among all trees revered by all Buddhists of all nationalities, the
Aṡvattha or Pippala (Pīpal), under which Gautama achieved Buddhahood and
perfect knowledge, takes the precedence. In some Buddhist countries the
climate prevents its introduction, but if it can by any means be made to
grow, it is everywhere planted close to Buddhist temples, monasteries
and Dāgabas, and in many cases is the product of a seed brought from the
supposed original tree at Buddha-Gayā.

A tradition relates that Gautama during his lifetime directed Ānanda to
break off a branch from that original tree and to plant it in the garden
of the Vihāra, or monastery, at Ṡrāvastī—Gautama’s favourite place of
residence—‘He who worships it,’ said Gautama, ‘will receive the same
reward as if he worshipped me[270].’

This is a mere legend resting on no historical basis; but the tradition
which makes Gautama choose a seat under the sacred Pippala or Aṡvattha
as the spot where the first stirrings of a divine afflatus and the first
whisperings of divine communications—symbolized by the mysterious
quivering and rustling of its leaves—were likely to make themselves
felt, points to a probable fact—a fact quite in harmony with what we
have already noted in regard to his early Brāhmanical education and
ideas. We read in the Kaṭha Upanishad (VI. 1) that the root of the
Aṡvattha-tree was identified with the Supreme Being, Brahman. In a
passage of the Muṇḍaka Upanishad (III. 1. 1) and in a Mantra of the
Ṛig-veda (I. 164. 20) the same idea is alluded to. It is true that
Gautama afterwards repudiated the possibility of any divine inspiration
coming from any external source whatever, yet it is probable that when
he first seated himself under the sacred fig-tree, which is even now
regarded by the Hindūs as a manifestation of the god Brahmā, he expected
supernatural communications of some kind[271].

The history of the original sacred Pippala (Aṡvattha) tree, or as it is
commonly called the Bodhi-tree (Bo-tree) of Gautama Buddha at
Buddha-Gayā, has already been sketched in a previous Lecture (see pp.

Hiouen Thsang’s description of the tree, as he saw it in the seventh
century, has also been given (see p. 399). Fā-hien, who saw it at
Buddha-Gayā in the fifth century, calls it the Patra-tree. The following
is an abridgement of what he says about it:—

  The Bodhi-sattva advanced to the Patra-tree, placed the Kuṡa grass at
  the foot of it, and sat down with his face to the east. Then King Māra
  sent three beautiful damsels to tempt him. The Bodhi-sattva put his
  toes down to the ground, and the young maidens were changed into old
  grandmothers. Buddha, after attaining perfect wisdom, contemplated the
  tree for seven days (Legge, p. 88).

Fā-hien also saw the offspring of the original Bodhi-tree growing in
Ceylon (Legge, p. 103).

It is recorded that soon after Mahinda, son of Aṡoka, arrived in Ceylon
(about 250 B.C.) for the purpose of propagating Buddhism, his sister,
who had become a Buddhist Nun, also arrived there, and brought with her
from King Aṡoka a branch of the sacred Bodhi-tree of Buddha-Gayā. This
was planted at Anurādha-pura, and the zealous Buddhists of Ceylon fully
believe that the identical tree exists there still.

An interesting account of the state of this tree or its descendant,
about thirty years ago, is given in Sir Emerson Tennant’s ‘Ceylon’ (vol.
ii. p. 613). I here give an abridged extract:—

  The Bo-tree of Anurādha-pura is in all probability the oldest
  historical tree in the world. Its conservancy has been an object of
  solicitude to successive dynasties, and the story of its vicissitudes
  has been preserved in a series of continuous chronicles.

  It would almost seem to verify the prophecy pronounced when it was
  planted, that it would flourish and be green for ever.

  The degree of sanctity with which this extraordinary tree has been
  invested by Buddhists, may be compared to the feeling of veneration
  with which Christians regard the attested wood of the Cross.

  The other Bo-trees which are found in the vicinity of every temple in
  Ceylon are said to be all derived from the parent-tree at
  Anurādha-pura, but they have been propagated by seeds; the priesthood
  adhering in this respect to the precedent recorded in the Mahā-vaṉṡa
  (when Mahinda himself, taking up a fruit as it fell, gave it to the
  king to plant), and objecting religiously to lop it with any weapon.

  In the fifth century Fā-hien found the Bo-tree at Anurādha-pura in
  vigorous health, and its guardians displaying towards it the same
  vigilant tenderness which they exhibit at the present day.

  The author of the Mahā-vaṉṡa, who wrote between the years 459 and 478
  of our era, after relating the ceremonial which had been observed
  nearly eight hundred years before, at the planting of the venerated
  tree by Mahinda, concludes by saying:—‘Thus this monarch of the
  forest, endowed with miraculous powers, has stood for ages in Laṅkā,
  promoting the spiritual welfare of its inhabitants and the propagation
  of true religion.’

When Buddhism became thoroughly mixed up with Hindūism the Kalpa-tree or
divine tree of Indra’s paradise was often introduced. It is supposed to
have its terrestrial counterpart in some sacred spots on earth, and
there to grant all desires, the worshipper having merely to stretch out
his hand and take the gifts suspended from its branches[272]. In one
sculpture it is represented pouring out coins on the ground. This kind
of wishing-tree is believed to present, among other things, any food
that its worshippers may ask for, and to present it ready-cooked, if
cooking is needed.

The miraculous tree which developed out of the Buddha’s tooth-cleaning
twig, when thrown by him on the ground, has been already described (see
p. 419, and compare ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 337).

                           _Sacred Symbols._

Some of the sacred objects already described may be regarded as symbols.
Of those which are more strictly symbols the _Tri-ratna_ ‘three-jewel’
emblem comes first. It is three-pointed, and the three points are simply
emblematical of the Buddha, the Law, and the Monastic Order. It is often
used as an ornament. Good examples may be seen in some of the Bharhut
sculptures (see Sir A. Cunningham’s work). The central point is often
the least elevated.

The use of this triple symbol is another proof of the connexion between
Buddhism and Hindūism. Both delight in triads and in symbolizing
triads[273], but the Buddhist ‘three-jewel’ symbol should not be
confused with the Hindū Tri-ṡūla, which is Ṡiva’s trident used as a
weapon in his warfare with the demons. The Tri-ratna is merely the
analogue of the Tri-ṡūla, as it is also of the triple horizontal mark on
the forehead of Ṡaivas, and of the Tri-puṇḍra or triple frontal mark of
the Tengalai sect of Rāmānuja Vaishṇavas. The two outer marks of the
latter stand for Vishṇu’s two feet and the middle for his consort

Sir A. Cunningham was the first to show that the three fetish-like
figures of Jagannāth (Kṛishṇa) and his sister and brother, at Purī in
Orissa, were derived from three of the combined emblems of the Buddhist
Tri-ratna (compare p. 166 of this volume).

Next to the Tri-ratna comes the _Ćakra_ or wheel. This symbolizes the
Buddhist doctrine that the origin of life and of the universe (p. 119)
are unknowable—the doctrine of a circle of causes and effects without
beginning and without end. The wheel also typifies the rolling of this
doctrine over the whole surface of the world (pp. 410, 423). It is
perhaps one of the most important symbols of Buddhist philosophy. It is
often represented as either supporting the Tri-ratna or supported by it,
or the latter may be inserted in it.

Observe that the Ćakra or wheel is equally a Vaishṇava symbol, but in
the hand of Vishṇu or of Kṛishṇa it is a circular weapon, hurled at a

Another symbol is the _Lotus-flower_. Its constant use as an emblem,
seems to result from the wheel-like form of the flower—the petals taking
the place of spokes, and thus typifying the doctrine of perpetual cycles
of existence—or from the perfection typified by the regularity of these
petals, or from the idea that its expanded flower, reposing on a calm
mirror-like lake, is a fit emblem of Nirvāṇa.

The Wheel, the Tri-ratna, and the Lotus are so important, as symbols of
Buddhism, that they are combined in the vignette on the title-page of
this volume.

Another symbol is the _Svastika_ mark, consisting of two lines crossing
each other, the termination of each arm of the cross being usually bent
round in the same direction[275]. Much controversy has been devoted to
the origin and meaning of this symbol, which simply symbolizes good
luck, and equally belongs to Hindūism. Long ago I propounded a theory
that it might represent the four arms of Lakshmī. I now think it a mere
curtailed form of the Wheel, consisting of four spokes with a portion of
the periphery of the circle. In my opinion, the four spokes may
represent the four groups of worlds (i. e. the lower worlds and three
groups of heavens, p. 213) circling in an eternal cycle. Sir A.
Cunningham considers this symbol to be a monogram or interlacing of the
letters of the auspicious words _su asti_ (_svasti_) in the Aṡoka

Another symbol is the _Throne_ or seat of Buddha—a favourite emblem in
many sculptures. In Cunningham’s ‘Stūpa of Bharhut’ the throne of each
Buddha is often represented under his Bodhi-tree (but without any
image), and the thrones of the last four Buddhas are joined together in
a single bas-relief. Sometimes the throne is covered by an umbrella with
garlands, or the Buddha’s bowl may rest on it. Sometimes two foot-prints
are on a foot-stool under the throne.

Another venerated symbol is the _Stūpa_ (see p. 505). It is often an
object of adoration in itself.

I need scarcely revert to the _Umbrella_ symbol (see p. 393). In Eastern
countries it typifies supremacy. If a king is present no one else ought
to carry an umbrella.

The _Ṡaṅkha_ or _Conch-shell_ is a very auspicious symbol, especially if
the convolutions turn to the right in the Nandy-āvarta form, as on the
Buddha’s foot (see p. 513).

The Tibetan symbol of the ‘_Flying horse_’ (Lung-ta)—able to transport a
man round the world in one day—has been mentioned before; also the
_Norbu_ gem (see pp. 381, 528).

                           _Sacred Animals._

It may be truly said that all animals are more or less venerated—though
not actually worshipped—under the Buddhist system. How can it be
otherwise when every Buddhist believes that the Buddha himself was
incarnated in various animals during the period of his Bodhi-sattvaship
(see p. 111)?

In the same way the Hindūs believe that the god Vishṇu was incarnated in
animals, such as a fish, a tortoise, and a boar.

Buddhism in this as in other respects is like Brāhmanism and Hindūism.
The feeling of reverence for animals rests on the doctrine of
metempsychosis. It is difficult for either a Hindū or a Buddhist to draw
a line of demarcation between gods, men, and animals, when the same
living being may exist as a god, a man, or an animal. It is on this
account that in India animals appear to live on terms of the greatest
friendship and mutual confidence with human beings.

  Everywhere in India animals dispute possession of the earth with man.
  Birds build their nests and lay their eggs in the fields, untroubled
  by fears or misgivings, before the very eyes of every passer-by, and
  within the reach of every village school-boy. Animals rove over the
  soil as if they were the landlords. Bulls walk about independently in
  the streets, and jostle you on the pavements; monkeys domesticate
  themselves jauntily on the roof of your house; parrots peer
  inquisitively from the eaves of your bedroom into the mysteries of
  your toilet; crows make themselves at home on your window-sill, and
  carry off impudently any portable article of jewellery that takes
  their fancy on your dressing-table; sparrows hop about impertinently
  and take the bread off your table-cloth; a solitary mongoose emerges
  every morning from a hole in your verandah, and expects a share in
  your breakfast; swarms of insects claim a portion of your mid-day
  meal, and levy a tax on the choicest delicacies at your dinner table;
  bats career triumphantly about your head as you light yourself to your
  bedroom; and at certain seasons snakes domicile themselves
  unpleasantly in the folds of your cast-off garments. (Quoted from my
  ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism.’)

Perhaps the most sacred animal in the estimation of all Buddhists is the
elephant. This will be easily understood by recalling what has been said
in a previous Lecture (see pp. 23, 24). In one of the Bharhut sculptures
the white elephant is seen descending to enter the side of Gautama’s
mother Māyā (‘Stūpa of Bharhut,’ p. 84). The elephant, says Sir A.
Cunningham, is a favourite subject for delineation. It is represented in
almost every possible position, as standing, walking, running, sitting
down, eating, drinking, throwing water over its own back, and lastly,
kneeling down in reverence before the holy Bodhi-tree.

Probably the next sacred animal to the elephant is the deer. The Buddha
was born eleven times as a deer (p. 111), and he delivered his first
sermon in a deer-park (p. 42). The ‘goose’ (Haṉsa, sometimes called ‘a
duck’ or ‘a swan’) is also very sacred. With regard to other animals,
Sir A. Cunningham remarks:—

  The animals represented in the Bharhut sculptures are of two classes,
  the natural and the fabulous. The latter, however, are limited to
  three varieties, an elephant with a fish-tail, a crocodile with a
  fish-tail, and a winged horse; while the former comprises no less than
  fourteen quadrupeds, six birds, one snake, one fish, one insect, one
  crocodile, two tortoises, one lizard, and one frog. The quadrupeds
  include the lion, elephant, horse, rhinoceros, wild boar, bull, deer,
  wolf, monkey, cat, dog, sheep, hare, and squirrel. The birds comprise
  the cock, parrot, peacock, goose, wild duck, and quail. The snakes and
  fishes appear to be of only one kind. The solitary insect is a
  flesh-fly (p. 41, etc.).

In Burma people feed sacred fish, and save their lives in seasons when
they would perish through the drying up of rivers and ponds (see p.

Dr. Eitel, in his Lectures (p. 136), points out that even pigs are held
sacred, though not worshipped, by Northern Buddhists. We must not forget
that the Buddha in two of his births was a pig (p. 112), that he died of
eating pork, and that in sculptures of the Tāntrik goddess
Vajra-vārāhī—adopted by Northern Buddhists—a row of seven pigs is carved
underneath her three-headed figure, one head being that of a pig.

                        _Miscellaneous Objects._

Among these may be reckoned _bells_ of various kinds. The prayer-bells
common in Tibet, which are held in the hand and used during the chanting
of prayers, have been already described (p. 323).

In Burma bells abound everywhere. They are of all sizes, and often of
immense weight, but are not used in the same way as in Tibet. Nor are
they ever rung in peals or with a clapper. Their use is not to call
people to religious services. It is no part of the business of monks or
priests to summon the laity to any service. Every man worships on his
own account, and for himself, and by himself, and no so-called priest
reminds him of his religious duties, or is responsible if he neglects

The real use of bells in Burmese temples is to draw the attention of the
deities and spirits (Naths) to the act of worship, and so secure the due
registering of prayer-merit. When a man has finished his repetitions, he
strikes the bell with a piece of wood or other sacred implement lying
near, and the more noise he makes the better. Mr. Scott informs us that
every large pagoda has dozens of bells of all sizes, hanging outside,
and one or two inside the central shrine. They are constantly dedicated
by religious people, and thus multiplied _ad infinitum_.

The form of dedication is inscribed on every bell, and is in the Pāli
language, though instances of the vernacular occur.

The following is a portion of a remarkable inscription in the vernacular
(Shway Yoe, i. 243, abridged):—

  This bell was moulded with great care and much expense, and is humbly
  offered by Moung San Yah and his wife, who seek refuge in the
  boundless mercy of the pitiful Buddha, in the majesty of the eternal
  law, and in the examples of the venerable assembly. They humbly strive
  to gain merit for themselves. May the good Naths look smilingly on
  them. May the Naths who dwell in the air and the earth defend their
  two fat bullocks—which plough the fields—from evil creatures. May the
  guardian Naths of the house and of the city keep Chit Oo, their son,
  and little Mah Mee, their darling daughter, from harm.

The weight of the bell is generally added to the dedication.

There is a fine Burmese bell in the Indian section of the South
Kensington Museum. It has a long Pāli inscription, a portion of the
translation of which I here give:—

  ‘Without charity you cannot attain to Nirvāṇa’—so it is written in the
  Pāli Texts.

  I, the giver of this bell, was staying in the sweet-smelling town of
  Ma-oo—of which I collect the taxes for the king—and with me was my
  wife—my life’s breath—like to the pollen of a lily, from whom I will
  not be separated in all the existences which are to come, and out of
  which we hope soon to escape. We adore Buddha, that we may embark in
  the golden raft of the Noble Path, which will lead us to the final
  plunge into Nirvāṇa. We two, brother and sister (that is, husband and
  wife), have given this bell as an offering. The exact weight of the
  bell is 2500 kyats. We took our own weight in gold and silver and
  bright copper and other metal, and mixed them well together, in the
  year 1209 (1847 A.D.).

  Now I will record all the alms I gave and what I erected within the
  sacred enclosure. I gave a sacred flag-staff (see p. 380 of these
  Lectures), the price of which, with all expenses in putting up, was
  500 rupees. At the foot of it I built four small pagodas. Outside I
  built a monastery and a rest-house. Such are all the offerings. May I
  be freed from the Four states of Punishment, from the Three Great
  Calamities (war, famine, and plague), from the Eight Evil Places, from
  the Five Enemies, from unfortunate times and seasons, and from bad
  people. May I escape all these when I die.

  All the merits I have gained, may they be shared with my parents,
  teachers, and all my relations; with kings, queens, nobles, and all
  people in the thirty-one places of habitation throughout the universe.
  (See p. 121 of these Lectures.)

Under the head of miscellaneous objects, we may note the seven precious
minerals or substances to which allusion has frequently been made. They
are gold, silver, pearl, sapphire or ruby, cat’s eye, diamond, and coral
(Childers); but they vary, and some authorities substitute lapis lazuli
for pearl. In Hindūism there are nine precious substances (nava-ratna).

We may also enumerate here the seven treasures belonging to every
universal monarch. These are:—1. a wheel which, being set in motion by
the monarch, rolls before him to establish the Law in his dominions; 2.
an elephant; 3. a flying horse (see p. 523); 4. a jewel which on the
darkest night illuminates the earth for seven miles round (p. 381); 5. a
good queen or wife; 6. a good minister or servant, who has the power of
discovering hidden treasures; 7. a good general (compare Alabaster’s
‘Wheel of the Law,’ p. 81).

_Supplementary Remarks on the Connexion of Buddhism with Jainism[276]._

Having during the progress of the foregoing Lectures, incidentally
mentioned the subject of Jainism, I ought not to conclude them without
explaining some of the chief points of difference between the system of
the Jainas (conveniently contracted into Jains) and that of the
Buddhists. The Jains in India, according to their own reckoning, number
1,222,000; but this is incorrect, for by the last Census they only
number half a million. A great authority (Sir William Wilson Hunter)
confirms this. (See his ‘Gazetteer’ and ‘Indian Empire.’)

Most scholars in the present day are of opinion that the Jaina Teacher
Vardhamāna Mahā-vīra (Nātaputta) and Gautama Buddha were contemporaries,
and that Jains were an independent sceptical sect, probably a little
antecedent to the Buddhists, and were their rivals. At any rate it seems
certain that the Nigaṇṭhas[277] or Dig-ambara Jains, that is, a sect of
naked ascetics, existed before the Buddha’s time, and that the Tripiṭaka
alludes to them.

Probably Vardhamāna Mahā-vīra (usually called Mahā-vīra) was merely a
reformer of a system previously founded by a teacher named Pārṡva-nātha.
Not much is known of the latter, though he is greatly honoured by the
Jains. His images are ‘serpent-canopied’ like those of Buddha (p. 480).
His pupils are called Pāsāvaććijja (for Pārṡvāpatyīya, ‘belonging to the
descendants of Pārṡva’). They were only bound by four vows, whereas
Mahā-vīra’s teaching imposed five vows.

We have seen that Gautama Buddha, in the fifth century B.C., came to the
conclusion that bodily austerities were useless as a means of obtaining
liberation. His main idea seems to have been that liberation from the
painful cycle of continued re-births, that is, from Saṃsāra, was to be
obtained by means of knowledge (Bodhi), evolved out of the inner
consciousness through meditation (dhyāna) and intuition; whereas, in
contradistinction to this Buddhist idea, the main idea of the Jain
teacher Mahā-vīra seems to have been that liberation was to be obtained
through subjugation of the passions and through mortification of the
body (tapas). The term Jina, ‘conqueror,’ is used in both systems, but
Gautama Buddha was a Jina or conqueror through profound abstract
meditation, whereas Mahā-vīra was a Jina through severe bodily

In fact, the Jains, like all other ascetics, were impressed with the
idea that it was necessary to maintain a defensive warfare against the
assault of evil passions, by keeping under the body and subduing it.
They had also a notion that a sense of shame implied sin, so that if
there were no sin in the world there would be no shame. Hence they
argued rather illogically that to get rid of clothes was to get rid of
sin; and every ascetic who aimed at sinlessness was enjoined to walk
about naked, with the air or sky (Dig) as his sole covering

In the Kalpa-sūtra of the Jains we read that Mahā-vīra himself began his
career by wearing clothes for one year and one month, and after that he
walked about naked. Now Gautama Buddha was an opponent of Jain
asceticism, and it seems to me probable that one of the chief points on
which he laid stress was that of decent clothing. In the Dhamma-pada
(141) occurs the sentiment that ‘Nakedness cannot purify a mortal who
has not overcome desires.’ And again, in the Sekhiyā Dhammā we have
‘properly clad’ ‘must a monk itinerate.’ (See p. 473 of these Lectures.)

It is recorded in the Vinaya (Mahā-vagga I. 6. 7-9) that Upaka, a man of
the Ājīvaka sect of naked ascetics, founded by Gosāla (said to have been
a pupil of Mahā-vīra), met the Buddha just after his enlightenment, and
noticing his bright countenance, asked him who had been his teacher? He
replied, ‘Having gained all knowledge, I am myself the highest teacher.’
Thereupon the naked ascetic shook his head and went another road.

Clearly these naked Nigaṇṭhas, disciples of the Jain Teacher Mahā-vīra,
were no friends of the Buddha. It seems to me even possible that
Gautama’s great rival, Deva-datta (see pp. 405, 406), may have belonged
to a Dig-ambara sect who opposed the Buddha on questions of stricter
asceticism, especially in the matter of clothing; for in ancient
sculptures Deva-datta is generally represented naked or nearly so, and
is usually in close proximity to his cousin Gautama Buddha, who, in
marked contrast to the other, is always clothed. Evidently the question
of dress was a crucial one, and in process of time a party seems to have
arisen, even among the Dig-ambara Jains, opposed to strict asceticism in
this particular.

This party ultimately formed themselves into a separate sect, calling
themselves Ṡvetāmbaras, that is, ‘clothed in white garments.’ It is well
known that in early Buddhism two similar parties arose, the strict and
the lax. But the two Buddhist parties were ultimately reunited. The
second council is supposed to have settled the controversy.

Dr. Jacobi has shown that the separation of the two Jain sects must have
taken place (according to the traditions of both parties) some time
before the first century of our era.

It appears probable that the strict Dig-ambaras preceded the more lax
Ṡvetāmbaras, though each sect claims to be the oldest. The two Jain
sects have remained separate to the present day, though in all essential
points of doctrine and discipline they agree.

When I was last in India, in 1884, I ascended the two hills, Pārasnāth
(for Pārṡva-nāth) and Ābū—both of them most sacred places in the
estimation of the Jains, and covered with their temples. My ascent of
the former has been already described (p. 509). I also visited Delhi,
Jaypur, Ājmere, and some other chief Jain stations. Jaypur is the
stronghold of the Dig-ambara Jains, and two intelligent Dig-ambara
Paṇḍits, named Phaṭe Lāl and Syojī Lāl, visited me there. We conversed
for a long time in Sanskṛit, and I asked them many questions about their
religion, and the points in which they differed from the Ṡvetāmbara

Three chief differences were stated to be: First, the Ṡvetāmbaras object
to entirely nude images of any of the twenty-four Jinas or Tīrthaṃ-karas
accepted by both sects. Hence all Ṡvetāmbara statues ought to have some
appearance of a line round the middle of the body, representing a strip
of cloth. In one respect the images of the Jinas differ from those of
the Buddhas. They have a jewel-like mark on the breast. This is
especially conspicuous in Pārṡva-nāth. They are also of different
colours, and have symbols (generally animals, such as a deer, tortoise,
pig) connected with them.

Secondly, the Ṡvetāmbaras admit women into their order of ascetics just
as Buddhists have their Bhikkhunīs, or nuns; whereas the Dig-ambaras,
for obvious reasons, do not admit women.

Thirdly, the Ṡvetāmbaras have distinct sacred books of their own, which
they call Aṅgas, ‘limbs of the Law,’ eleven in number, besides others,
making 45 Āgamas, 11 Aṅgas, 12 Upāṅgas, 10 Pāinnas (Prakīrṇaka), 4
Mūlas, 6 Ćhedas, 1 Anuyoga-dvāra, and 1 Nandi. Dr. Bühler places the
composition of the Aṅgas in the third century B.C. Dr. Jacobi places
them at the end of the fourth or beginning of the third century. They
are written in Jain Prākṛit (sometimes called Ardha-Māgadhī, a later
form than Pāli), with Sanskṛit commentaries. The Dig-ambaras substitute,
for the Aṅgas, later works, also written in more modern Prākṛit
(probably in the fifth or sixth century after Christ), and maintain that
the Ṡvetāmbara Canon is spurious. Both sects have valuable Sanskṛit
works in their sacred literature.

I now add a few characteristics of both sects of Jains as distinguishing
them from Buddhists.

I need scarcely notice the fact that the Jains of the present day keep
up Caste. The two Jain Paṇḍits who came to me at Jaypur were Brāhmans,
and wore the Brāhmanical thread. I believe this to be a mere modern
innovation, which does not properly belong to the Jain system.

More important are the following points:—The Jain saints, or prophets,
are called by a peculiar name Tīrthaṃ-kara, ‘ford-makers,’ i. e. making
a ford across the troubled river of constant births or transmigrations
(Saṃsāra) to the Elysium of Nirvāṇa; whereas the name Tīrthaṃ-kara with
the Buddhists means a ‘heretical teacher.’ Then there are twenty-four
Jain Tīrthaṃ-karas, whereas there are twenty-five Buddhas. Of the
twenty-four Jain saints, the twenty-third and twenty-fourth—Pārṡva-nāth
(pp. 509, 529) and Mahā-vīra—are the only historical personages. The
others, beginning with Ṛishabha, are mythical.

Next, the Jains have no Stūpas or Dāgabas (p. 504) for preserving the
relics of their saints.

Still more important is the point that the Jains believe in separate
individual souls (Jīva), whereas the Buddhists deny the existence of
souls. Souls, according to the Jains, may exist in stocks, stones, lumps
of earth, drops of water, particles of fire. In Buddhism there is, as we
have seen, no true metempsychosis, but rather a connected series of
metamorphoses, and this stops at animals; whereas the metempsychosis of
Jainism extends to inorganic matter.

With regard to the moral code two or three points may be noticed. The
Jaina ‘three jewels’ are Right-belief, Right-knowledge, and
Right-conduct, whereas the Buddhist Tri-ratna consists in the well-known
Triad—the Buddha, the Law, and the Monkhood.

Then as to the five chief Moral Prohibitions—the fifth with Jains is:
‘have no worldly attachments;’ whereas with Buddhists it is: ‘drink no
strong drink.’ I believe the Buddhists to have been the first to
introduce total abstinence from strong drinks into India. The Jains,
too, lay even more stress than the Buddhists on the first
prohibition:—Kill no living creature. They strain water before drinking,
sweep the ground with a silken brush before sitting down on it, never
eat in the dark, often wear muslin before their mouths to catch minute
insects, and even object to eating fruits containing seed.

Another interesting difference is that Jainism makes Dharma and Adharma,
good and evil, or rather merit and demerit, two out of its six real
substances—its fundamental and eternal principles (Astikāya)—the other
four being matter (pudgala), soul (jīva), space and time. The Jains
reject the Buddhist theory of the five Skandhas (see p. 109).

Lastly, the prayer-formula of the Jains differs from the well-known
‘three-refuge’ formula of the Buddhists (‘I go for refuge to the Buddha,
the Law, and the order of Monks’) thus: ‘Reverence to the Arhats, to the
Siddhas, to the Aćāryas, to the Upādhyāyas, to all the Sādhus’ (Namo
Arihantāṇaṃ namo Siddhāṇaṃ namo Ayariyāṇaṃ namo Uvajjhāyāṇaṃ namo loe

Time will not permit me to notice minor differences, such as the Jain
rule that the hair should be painfully torn off, instead of cut off,

Certainly Jainism, when viewed from the stand-point of Christianity, is
even a colder system than Buddhism, and has even less claim to be called
a religion. Yet no system can show a greater number of temples. Every
Jain who is noted for his piety builds a small temple. He never repairs
the temples of others. At Pālitāna in Kāthiāwār, there is a whole city
of Jain temples. Nor is it at all necessary that every temple built to
hold a Jain saint should possess either priests or worshippers. What is
aimed at is the acquisition of merit by the performance of pious acts.

I must conclude by expressing my opinion that Indian Jainism is
gradually drifting back into the current of Brāhmanism, which everywhere
surrounds it and attracts it. Jainism, like Buddhism, came out from
Brāhmanism, and into Brāhmanism it is destined to return.

                             LECTURE XVIII.
                _Buddhism contrasted with Christianity._

In the previous Lectures I have incidentally contrasted the principal
doctrines of Buddhism with those of Christianity.

It will be my aim in this concluding Lecture to draw attention more
directly and more in detail to the main points of divergence between two
systems, which in their moral teaching have so many points of contact,
that a superficial study of either is apt to lead to very confused ideas
in regard to their comparative excellence and their resemblance to each

And first of all I must remind those who heard my earlier Lectures of
the grand fundamental distinction which they were intended to
establish—namely, that Christianity is a religion, whereas Buddhism, at
least in its earliest and truest form, is no religion at all, but a mere
system of morality and philosophy founded on a pessimistic theory of

Here, however, it may be objected that, before we exclude Buddhism from
all title to be called a religion, we ought to define what we mean by
the term ‘religion.’

Of course, it will be generally acknowledged that mere morality need not
imply religion, though—taking the converse—it is most undeniably true
that religion must of necessity imply morality.

Unquestionably there have been great philosophers in ancient times who
have lived strictly moral lives without acknowledging any religious
creed at all. Many excellent men, too, exist among us in the present
day, who resent being called irreligious, and yet hold no definite
religious doctrines, and decline to accept any system which commits them
to absolute belief in anything except an eternal Energy or Force.

Clearly the definition of the word ‘religion’ is beset with
difficulties, and its etymology is too uncertain to help us in
explaining it[278]. We shall, however, be justified if we affirm that
every system claiming to be a religion in the proper sense of the word
must postulate the eternal existence of one living and true God of
infinite power, wisdom, and love, the Creator, Designer, and Preserver
of all things visible and invisible.

It must also take for granted the immortality of man’s soul or spirit,
and the reality of a future state and of an unseen world. It must also
postulate in man an innate sense of dependence on a personal God—a sense
of reverence and love for Him, springing from a belief in His justice,
holiness, wisdom, power, and love, and intensified by a deep
consciousness of weakness, and a yearning to be delivered from the
presence, tyranny, and penalty of sin.

Then, starting from these assumptions, it must satisfy four requisites.

First, it must reveal the Creator in His nature and attributes to His
creature, man.

Secondly, it must reveal man to himself. It must impart to him a
knowledge of his own nature and history—what he is; why he was created;
whither he is tending; and whether he is at present in a state of
decadence downwards from a higher condition, or of development upwards
from a lower.

Thirdly, it must reveal some method by which the finite creature may
communicate with the infinite Creator—some plan by which he may gain
access to Him and become united with Him, and be saved by Him from the
consequences of his own sinful acts.

Fourthly, such a system must prove its title to be called a religion by
its regenerating effect on man’s nature; by its influence on his
thoughts, desires, passions, and feelings; by its power of subduing all
his evil tendencies; by its ability to transform his character and
assimilate him to the God it reveals.

It is clear, then, that tried by such a criterion as this, early
Buddhism could not claim to be a religion. It failed to satisfy these
conditions. It refused to admit the existence of a personal Creator, or
of man’s dependence on a higher Power. It denied any eternal soul or Ego
in man. It acknowledged no external, supernatural revelation. It had no
priesthood—no real clergy; no real prayer; no real worship. It had no
true idea of sin, or of the need of pardon (p. 124), and it condemned
man to suffer the consequences of his own sinful acts without hope of
help from any Saviour or Redeemer, and indeed from any being but

The late Bishop of Calcutta once said to me, that being in an outlying
part of his diocese, where Buddhism prevailed, he asked an apparently
pious Buddhist, whom he happened to observe praying in a temple, what he
had just been praying for? He replied, ‘I have been praying for
nothing.’ ‘But,’ urged the Bishop, ‘to whom have you been praying?’ The
man answered, ‘I have been praying to nobody.’ ‘What!’ said the
astonished Bishop, ‘praying for nothing to nobody?’ And no doubt this
anecdote gives an accurate idea of the so-called prayer of a true
Buddhist. This man had not really been praying for anything. He had been
merely making use of some form of words to which an efficacy, like that
of sowing fruitful seed in a field, was supposed to belong. He had not
been praying in any Christian sense.

Here, however, an objector might remind me that according to my own
showing, various developments of Buddhism modified and even contradicted
the original creed, and that what has been here said about prayer, is
only strictly applicable to early Buddhism as originally taught in the
most ancient texts.

I grant this—I grant that expressions of reverence for the Buddha, the
Law, and the Monkhood, developed into expressions of wants and needs,
and that these expressions, gradually led on to the offering of actual
prayers to deified Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas.

I admit that we ought to judge of Buddhism as a whole. We ought to give
full consideration to its later developments, and the gradual sliding of
its atheism and agnosticism into theism and polytheism. We are bound to
acknowledge that Buddhism, as it extended to other countries, _did_
acquire the character of a theistic religious system, which, though
false, had in it some points of contact with Christianity.

Nevertheless, admitting all this, and taking into account all that can
be said in favour of Buddhism as a religious system, it will be easy to
show how impossible it is to bridge over the yawning chasm which
separates it from the true religion.

It is, indeed, one of the strange phenomena of the present day, that
even educated people who call themselves Christians, are apt to fall
into raptures over the precepts of Buddhism[279], attracted by the
bright gems which its admirers delight in culling out of its moral code,
and in displaying ostentatiously, while keeping out of sight all its
dark spots, all its trivialities and senseless repetitions[280]; not to
speak of all those evidences of deep corruption beneath a whited
surface, all those significant precepts and prohibitions in its books of
discipline, which indeed no Christian could soil his lips by

It has even been asserted that much of the teaching in the Sermon on the
Mount, and in other parts of the Gospel narratives, is based on
previously current moral teaching, which Buddhism was the first to
introduce to the world, 500 years before Christ[282]. But this is not
all. The admirers of Buddhism maintain that the Buddha was not a mere
teacher of the truths of morality, but of many other sublime truths. He
has been justly called, say they, ‘the Light of Asia,’ though they
condescendingly admit that Christianity as a later development is more
adapted to become the religion of the world.

Let us then inquire, for a moment, what claim Gautama Buddha has to this
title—‘the Light of Asia?’

Now, in the first place those who give him this name forget that his
doctrines only spread over Eastern Asia, and that either Confucius, or
Zoroaster, or Muhammad might equally be called ‘the Light of Asia.’

But was the Buddha, in any true sense, a Light to any part of the world?

It is certainly true that the main idea implied by Buddhism is
intellectual enlightenment. Buddhism, before all things, means
enlightenment of mind, resulting from intense self-concentration and
introspection, from intense abstract meditation, combined with the
exercise of a man’s own reasoning faculties and intuitions.

Of what nature, then, was the so-called Light of Knowledge that radiated
from the Buddha? Was it the knowledge of his own utter weakness, of his
original depravity of heart, or of the origin of sin? No; the Buddha’s
light was in these respects profound darkness. He confessed himself, in
regard to such momentous questions, a downright Agnostic. The primary
origin of evil—the first evil act—was to him an inexplicable mystery.

Was it, then, a knowledge of the goodness, justice, holiness, and
omnipotence of a personal Creator? Was it a knowledge of the Fatherhood
of God? No; the Buddha’s light was in these respects also mere and sheer
darkness. In these respects, too, he acknowledged himself a thorough
Agnostic. He admitted that he knew of no being higher than himself.

What, then, was the light that broke upon the Buddha? What was this
enlightenment which has been so much written about and extolled? All
that he claimed to have discovered was the origin of suffering and the
remedy of suffering. All the light of knowledge to which he attained
came to this:—that suffering arises from indulging desires, especially
the desire for continuity of life; that suffering is inseparable from
life; that all life is suffering; and that suffering is to be got rid of
by the suppression of desires, and by the extinction of personal

Here, then, is the first great contrast. When the Buddha said to his
converts, ‘Come (ehi), be my disciple,’ he bade them expect to get rid
of suffering, he told them to stamp out suffering by stamping out
desires (see pp. 43, 44). When the Christ said to His disciples, ‘Come,
follow Me,’ He bade them expect suffering. He told them to glory in
their sufferings—nay, to expect the perfection of their characters
through suffering.

It is certainly noteworthy that both Christianity and Buddhism agree in
asserting that all creation groaneth and travaileth in pain, in
suffering, in tribulation. But mark the vast, the vital distinction in
the teaching of each. The one taught men to be patient under affliction,
and to aim at the glorification of the suffering body, the other taught
men to be intolerant of affliction, and to aim at the utter annihilation
of the suffering body.

What says our Bible? We Christians, it says, are members of Christ’s
Body—of His flesh and of His bones—of that Divine Body which was once a
suffering Body, a cross-bearing Body, and is now a glorified Body, an
ever-living, life-giving Body. Hence it teaches us to honour and revere
the human body; nay, almost to deify the human body.

A Buddhist, on the other hand, treats every kind of body with contempt,
and repudiates as a simple impossibility, all idea of being a member of
the Buddha’s body. How could a Buddhist be a member of a body which was
burnt to ashes—which was calcined,—which became extinct at the moment
when the Buddha’s whole personality became extinguished also?

But, say the admirers of Buddhism, at least you will admit that the
Buddha told men to avoid sin, and to aim at purity and holiness of life?
Nothing of the kind. The Buddha had no idea of sin as an offence against
God, no idea of true holiness (see p. 124). What he said was—Get rid of
the demerit of evil actions and accumulate a stock of merit by good

And let me remark here that this determination to store up merit—like
capital at a bank—is one of those inveterate propensities of human
nature, one of those irrepressible and deep-seated tendencies in
humanity which nothing but the divine force imparted by Christianity can
ever eradicate. It is for ever cropping up in the heart of man, as much
in the West as in the East, as much in the North as in the South; for
ever re-asserting itself like a pestilent weed, or like tares amidst the
wheat, for ever blighting the fruit of those good instincts which
underlie man’s nature everywhere.

Only the other day I met an intelligent Sikh from the Panjāb, and asked
him about his religion. He replied, ‘I am no idolater; I believe in One
God, and I repeat my prayers, called “Jap-jee,” every morning and
evening. These prayers occupy six pages of print, but I can get through
them in little more than ten minutes.’ He seemed to pride himself on
this rapid recitation as a work of increased merit.

I said, ‘What else does your religion require of you?’ He replied, ‘I
have made one pilgrimage to a holy well near Amritsar. Eighty-five steps
lead down to it. I descended and bathed in the sacred pool. Then I
ascended one step and repeated my Jap-jee with great rapidity. Then I
descended again to the pool and bathed again, and ascended to the second
step and repeated my prayers a second time. Then I descended a third
time, and ascended to the third step and repeated my Jap-jee a third
time, and so on for the whole eighty-five steps, eighty-five bathings
and eighty-five repetitions of the same prayers. It took me exactly
fourteen hours, from 5 p.m. one evening to 7 a.m. next morning, and I
fasted all the time.’

I asked, ‘What good did you expect to get by going through this task?’
He replied, ‘I hope I have laid up an abundant store of merit, which
will last me for a long time.’

This, let me tell you, is a genuine Hindū notion. It is of the very
essence of Brāhmanism, of Hindūism, of Zoroastrianism, of Confucianism,
of Muhammadanism. It is even more of the essence of Buddhism. For, of
all systems, Buddhism is the one which lays most stress on the
accumulation of merit by good actions, as the sole counterpoise to the
mighty force generated by the accumulation of demerit through evil
actions in present and previous forms of life. Nor did the Buddha ever
claim to be a deliverer from guilt, a purger from the taint of past
pollution. He never pretended to set any one free from the penalty,
power, and presence of sin—from the bondage of sinful acts and besetting
vices. He never professed to furnish any cure for the leprosy of man’s
corrupt nature—any medicine for a dying sinner[283]. On the contrary, by
his doctrine of Karma he bound a man hand and foot to the inevitable
consequences of his own evil actions with chains of adamant. He said, in
effect, to every one of his disciples, ‘You are in slavery to a tyrant
of your own setting up; your own deeds, words, and thoughts in your
present and former states of being, are your own avengers through a
countless series of existences.

  “Your acts your angels are for good or ill,
  Your fatal shadows that walk by you still.”

‘If you have been a murderer, a thief, a liar, impure, a drunkard, you
must pay the penalty in your next birth—perhaps as a sufferer in one of
the hells[284], perhaps in the body of a wild beast, perhaps in that of
some unclean animal or loathsome vermin, perhaps as a demon or evil
spirit. Yes, your doom is sealed. Not in the heavens, O man, not in the
midst of the sea, not if thou hidest thyself in the clefts of the
mountains, wilt thou find a place where thou canst escape the force of
thine own evil actions[285]. Thy only hope of salvation is in thyself.
Neither god nor man can save thee, and I am wholly powerless to set thee

And now, contrast the few brief words of Christ in his first recorded
sermon[286]. ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath
anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He hath sent Me to
proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind,
and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.’

Yes, in Christ alone there is deliverance from the bondage of former
transgressions, from the prison-house of former sins; a total cancelling
of the past; a complete blotting-out of the handwriting that is against
us; an entire washing away of every guilty stain; the opening of a clear
course for every man to start afresh; the free gift of pardon and of
life to every criminal, to every sinner—even the most heinous and

Still, I seem to hear some admirers of Buddhism say: We admit the force
of these contrasts, but surely you will allow that in the moral law of
Buddha we find precepts identically the same as those of
Christianity—precepts which tell a man not to love the world, not to
love money, not to hate his enemies, not to do unrighteous acts, not to
commit impurities, to overcome evil by good, and to do to others as we
would be done by?

Well, I admit all this. Nay, I admit even more than this; for many
Buddhist precepts command total abstinence in cases where Christianity
demands only temperance and moderation. The great contrast, as I have
already explained, between the moral precepts of Buddhism and
Christianity, is not so much in the letter of the precepts, as in the
power brought to bear in their application.

Buddhism, I repeat, says: Act righteously through your own efforts, and
for the final getting rid of all suffering, of all individuality, of all
life in yourselves. Christianity says: Be righteous through a power
implanted in you from above, through the power of a life-giving
principle, freely given to you, and always abiding in you. The Buddha
said to his followers: ‘Take nothing from me, trust to yourselves
alone.’ Christ said: ‘Take all from Me; trust not to yourselves. I give
unto you eternal life, I give unto you the bread of heaven, I give unto
you living water.’ Not that these priceless gifts involve any passive
condition of inaction. On the contrary, they stir the soul of the
recipient with a living energy. They stimulate him to noble deeds, and
self-sacrificing efforts. They compel him to act as the worthy,
grateful, and appreciative possessor of so inestimable a treasure.

Still, I seem to hear some one say: We acknowledge this; we admit the
truth of what you have stated; nevertheless, for all that, you must
allow that Buddhism conferred a great benefit on India by encouraging
freedom of thought and by setting at liberty its teeming population,
before entangled in the meshes of ceremonial observances and Brahmanical

Yes, I grant this; nay, I grant even more than this. I admit that
Buddhism conferred many other benefits on the millions inhabiting the
most populous part of Asia. It introduced education and culture; it
encouraged literature and art; it promoted physical, moral, and
intellectual progress up to a certain point; it proclaimed peace, good
will, and brotherhood among men; it deprecated war between nation and
nation; it avowed sympathy with social liberty and freedom; it gave back
much independence to women; it preached purity in thought, word, and
deed (though only for the accumulation of merit); it taught self-denial
without self-torture; it inculcated generosity, charity, tolerance,
love, self-sacrifice, and benevolence, even towards the inferior
animals; it advocated respect for life and compassion towards all
creatures; it forbade avarice and the hoarding of money; and from its
declaration that a man’s future depended on his present acts and
condition, it did good service for a time in preventing stagnation,
stimulating exertion, promoting good works of all kinds, and elevating
the character of humanity.

Then again, when it spread to outlying countries it assumed the
character of a religion; it taught the existence of unseen worlds; it
permitted the offering of prayers to Maitreya and other supposed
personal saviours; it inculcated faith and trust in these celestial
beings, which operated as good motives in the hearts of many, while the
hope of being born in higher conditions of life, and the desire to
acquire merit by reverential acts, led to the development of devotional
services, which had much in common with those performed in Christian
countries. Nay, it must even be admitted that many Buddhists in the
present day are deeply imbued with religious feelings, and in no part of
the world are the outward manifestations of religion—such as temples and
sacred objects of all kinds—so conspicuous as in modern Buddhist

But if, after making all these concessions, I am told that, on my own
showing, Buddhism was a kind of introduction to Christianity, or that
Christianity is a kind of development of Buddhism, I must ask you to
bear with me a little longer, while I point out certain other contrasts,
which ought to make it clear to every reasonable man, how vast, how
profound, how impassable is the gulf separating the true religion from
the false philosophy, and from the later religious systems developed out
of it.

And first, observe that Buddhism has never claimed to be an exclusive
system. It has never aimed at taking the place of other religions. On
the contrary it tolerates all, and a Buddhist considers that he may be
at the same time a Hindū, a Confucianist, a Tāoist, a Shintoist, and
even, strange to say, a Christian.

A Christian, on the other hand, holds as a cardinal doctrine of his
religion, that there is only one Name under heaven given among men,
whereby any human being can be saved. To be at the same time a believer
in Christ and a believer in Buddha implies an utter contradiction in

Then it need scarcely be repeated here that Christ is before all things
a majestic example of a great historic personality. Any really
historical, matter-of-fact account of the life of Buddha, like that of
the life of Christ by the four Evangelists, may be looked for in vain
through all the Buddhist scriptures. The Buddha’s biography is mixed up
with such monstrous legends, absurd figments, and extravagant fables,
that to attempt the sifting out of any really historical element worthy
of being compared with the pregnant simplicity—the dignified brevity of
the biography of Christ, would be an idle task.

Still we may note two or three obvious points of comparison and

And perhaps the most important is, that Christ constantly insisted on
the fact that He was God-sent, whereas the Buddha always described
himself as self sent. How indeed could the Buddha have said ‘the great I
AM hath sent me unto you[287]’ when he had no belief in the eternal
existence of any Ego at all? Not even in the reality of his own

All that he affirmed of himself was that he came into the world to be a
teacher of perfect wisdom, by a force derived from his own acts. By that
force alone he had passed through innumerable bodies of gods, demi-gods,
demons, men, and animals, until he reached one out of numerous heavens,
and thence by his own will descended upon earth and entered the side of
his mother in the form of a white elephant (see pp. 23, 477). Let those
who speak of his ‘virgin-mother’ bear this in mind.

Christ, on the other hand, made known to his disciples, that He was with
His Father from everlasting, ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’ Then in the
fulness of time, He was _sent_ into the world by His Father, and was
born of a pure virgin, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the
likeness and fashion of men.

Next let us note a vast contrast in the fact that Christ was sent from
heaven to be born on earth in a poor and humble station, to be reared in
a cottage, to be trained to toilsome labour as a working-man; whereas
the Buddha came down to be born on earth in a rich and princely family;
to be brought up amid luxurious surroundings, and finally to go forth as
a mendicant-monk, depending upon others for his daily food and doing
nothing for his own support.

Then, again, Christ as He grew up showed no signs of earthly majesty in
his external form, whereas the Buddha is described as marked with
certain mystic symbols of universal monarchy on his feet and on his
hands, and taller and more stately in frame and figure than ordinary
human beings (see pp. 476, 501).

Then, when each entered on his ministry as a teacher, Christ was
despised and rejected by kings and princes, and followed by poor and
ignorant fishermen, by common people, publicans, and sinners; Buddha was
honoured by kings and princes, and followed by rich men and learned

Then Christ had all the treasures of knowledge hidden in Himself, and
made known to His disciples that He was Himself the Way, and the
Truth,—Himself their Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and
Redemption. Buddha declared that all enlightenment and wisdom were to be
attained by his disciples, not through him, but through themselves and
their own intuitions; and that, too, only after long and painful
discipline in countless successive bodily existences.

Then in regard to the miracles which both the Bible and the Tripiṭaka
describe as attestations of the truth of the teaching of each, contrast
the simple and dignified statement that ‘the blind receive their sight,
the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are
raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them[288],’ with
the following description of the Buddha’s miracles in the Mahā-vagga (I.
20, 24)[289]: ‘At the command of the Blessed One the five hundred pieces
of fire-wood could not be split and were split, the fires could not be
lit up and were lit up, could not be extinguished and were extinguished.
Besides he created five hundred vessels with fire. Thus the number of
these miracles amounts to three thousand five hundred.’

Then, although each made use of missionary agency, the one sent forth
his high-born learned monks as missionaries to the world at the
commencement of his own career, giving them no divine commission; the
other waited till the close of His own ministry, and then said to His
low-born, unlearned disciples, ‘As My Father hath sent Me, even so send
I you’ (St. John xx. 21).

Then, when we come to compare the death of each, the contrast reaches
its climax; for Christ was put to death violently by wicked men, and
died in agony an atoning death, suffering for the sins of the world at
the age of thirty-three, leaving behind in Jerusalem about one hundred
and twenty disciples after a short ministry of three years. Whereas the
Buddha died peacefully among his friends, suffering from an attack of
indigestion at the age of eighty, leaving behind many thousands of
disciples after forty-five years of teaching and preaching.

And what happened after the death of each? Christ, the Holy One, saw no
corruption, but rose again in His present glorified body, and is alive
for evermore—nay, has life in Himself ever flowing in life-giving
streams towards His people. The Buddha is dead and gone for ever; his
body, according to the testimony of his own disciples, was burnt more
than 400 years before the Advent of Christ, and its ashes were
distributed everywhere as relics.

Even according to the Buddha’s own declaration, he now lives only in the
doctrine which he left behind him for the guidance of his followers.

And here again, in regard to the doctrine left behind by each, a vast
distinction is to be noted. For the doctrine delivered by Christ to His
disciples is to spread by degrees everywhere until it prevails
eternally. Whereas the doctrine left by Buddha, though it advanced
rapidly by leaps and bounds, is, according to his own admission, to fade
away by degrees, till at the end of 5000 years it has disappeared
altogether from the earth, and another Buddha must descend to restore
it. (Compare Postscript at end of Preface, p. xiv.)

Then that other Buddha must be followed by countless succeeding Buddhas
in succeeding ages, whereas there is only one Christ, who can have no
successor, for He is alive for ever and for ever present with His
people: ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.’

Then observe that, although the Buddha’s doctrine was ultimately written
down by his disciples in certain collections of books, in the same
manner as the doctrine of Christ, a fundamental difference of
character—nay, a vast and impassable gulf of difference—separates the
Sacred Books of each, the Bible of the Christian and the Bible of the

The characteristic of the Christian’s Bible is that it claims to be a
supernatural revelation, yet it attaches no mystical talismanic virtue
to the mere sound of its words. On the other hand, the characteristic of
the Buddhist Bible is that it utterly repudiates all claim to be a
supernatural revelation; yet the very sound of its words is believed to
possess a meritorious efficacy capable of elevating any one who hears it
to heavenly abodes in future existences. In illustration I may advert to
a legend current in Ceylon, that once on a time 500 bats lived in a cave
where two monks daily recited the Buddha’s Law. These bats gained such
merit by simply hearing the sound of the words, that, when they died,
they were all re-born as men, and ultimately as gods.

Then as to the words themselves, contrast the severely simple and
dignified style of the Bible narrative, its brevity, perspicuity,
vigour, and sublimity, its trueness to nature and inimitable pathos,
with the feeble utterances, the tedious diffuseness, and I might almost
say ‘the inane twaddle’ and childish repetitions of the greater portion
of the Tripiṭaka (see note 2, p. 541).

But again, I am sure to hear the admirers of Buddhism say: Is it not the
case that the doctrine of Buddha, like the doctrine of Christ, has
self-sacrifice as its key-note? Well, be it so. I admit that the Buddha
taught a kind of self-sacrifice. I admit that he related of himself
that, on a particular occasion in one of his previous births[290], he
plucked out his own eyes, and, that on another, he cut off his own head
as a sacrifice for the good of others; and that again, on a third
occasion, he cut his own body to pieces to redeem a dove from a
hawk[291]. Yet note the vast distinction between the self-sacrifice
taught by the two systems. Christianity demands the suppression of
selfishness; Buddhism demands the suppression of self, with the one
object of extinguishing all consciousness of self. In the one, the true
self is elevated and intensified. In the other, the true self is
annihilated by the practice of a false form of non-selfishness, which
has for its real object, not the good of others, but the annihilation of
the Ego, the utter extinction of the illusion of personal individuality.

Furthermore, observe the following contrasts in the doctrines which each
bequeathed to his followers:—

According to Christianity:—Fight and overcome the world.

According to Buddhism:—Shun the world, and withdraw from it.

According to Christianity:—Expect a new earth when the present earth is
destroyed; a world renewed and perfected; a purified world in which
righteousness is to dwell for ever.

According to Buddhism:—Expect a never-ending succession of evil worlds
for ever coming into existence, developing, decaying, perishing, and
reviving, and all equally full of everlasting misery, disappointment,
illusion, change, and transmutation.

According to Christianity, bodily existence is subject to only one

According to Buddhism, bodily existence is continued in six conditions,
through countless bodies of men, animals, demons, ghosts, and dwellers
in various hells and heavens; and that, too, without any progressive
development, but in a constant jumble of metamorphoses and
transmutations (see p. 122).

Christianity teaches that a life in heaven can never be followed by a
fall to a lower state.

Buddhism teaches that a life in a higher heaven may be succeeded by a
life in a lower heaven, or even by a life on earth or in one of the

According to Christianity, the body of man may be the abode of the Holy
Spirit of God.

According to Buddhism, the body whether of men or of higher beings can
never be the abode of anything but evil.

According to Christianity:—Present your bodies as living sacrifices,
holy, acceptable to God, and expect a change to glorified bodies

According to Buddhism:—Look to final deliverance from all bodily life,
present and to come, as the greatest of all blessings, highest of all
boons, and loftiest of all aims.

According to Christianity, a man’s body can never be changed into the
body of a beast, or bird, or insect, or loathsome vermin.

According to Buddhism, a man, and even a god, may become an animal of
any kind, and even the most loathsome vermin may again become a man or a

According to Christianity:—Stray not from God’s ways; offend not against
His holy laws.

According to Buddhism:—Stray not from the eight-fold path of the perfect
man, and offend not against yourself and the law of the perfect man.

According to Christianity:—Work the works of God while it is day.

According to Buddhism:—Beware of action, as causing re-birth, and aim at
inaction, indifference, and apathy, as the highest of all states.

Then note other contrasts.

According to the Christian Bible:—Regulate and sanctify the heart,
desires, and affections.

According to the Buddhist:—Suppress and destroy them utterly, if you
wish for true sanctification.

Christianity teaches that in the highest form of life, love is

Buddhism teaches that in the highest state of existence, all love is

According to Christianity:—Go and earn your own bread, support yourself
and your family. Marriage, it says, is honourable and undefiled, and
married life is a field on which holiness may grow and be developed.
Nay, more—Christ Himself honoured a wedding with His presence, and took
up little children in His arms and blessed them.

Buddhism, on the other hand, says:—Avoid married life; shun it as if it
were ‘a burning pit of live coals’ (p. 88); or, having entered on it,
abandon wife, children, and home, and go about as celibate monks,
engaging in nothing but in meditation and recitation of the Buddha’s
Law—that is to say—if you aim at the highest degree of sanctification.

And then comes the important contrast that in the one system we have a
teaching gratifying to the pride of man, and flattering to his
intellect; while in the other we have a teaching humbling to his pride,
and distasteful to his intellect. For Christianity tells us that we must
become as little children, and that when we have done all that we can,
we are still unprofitable servants. Whereas Buddhism teaches that every
man is saved by his own works and by his own merits only.

Fitly, indeed, do the rags worn by the monks of true Buddhism symbolize
the miserable patchwork of its own self-righteousness.

Not that Christianity ignores the necessity for good works; on the
contrary, no other system insists on a lofty morality so strongly; but
never as the meritorious instrument of salvation[292]—only as a
thank-offering, only as the outcome and evidence of faith.

Lastly, we must advert again to the most momentous—the most essential of
all the distinctions which separate Christianity from Buddhism.
Christianity regards personal life as the most sacred of all
possessions. Life, it seems to say, is no dream, no illusion. ‘Life is
real, life is earnest.’ Life is the most precious of all God’s gifts.
Nay, it affirms of God Himself that He is the highest Example of intense
Life—of intense personality, the great ‘I AM that I AM,’ and teaches us
that we are to thirst for a continuance of personal life as a gift for
Him; nay, more, that we are to thirst for the living God Himself and for
conformity to His likeness; while Buddhism sets forth as the highest of
all aims the utter extinction of the illusion of personal identity—the
utter annihilation of the Ego—of all existence in any form whatever, and
proclaims as the only true creed the ultimate resolution of everything
into nothing, of every entity into pure nonentity.

What shall I do to inherit eternal life?—says the Christian. What shall
I do to inherit eternal extinction of life?—says the Buddhist.

It seems a mere absurdity to have to ask in concluding these
Lectures:—Whom shall we choose as our Guide, our Hope, our Salvation,
‘the Light of Asia,’ or ‘the Light of the World?’ the Buddha or the
Christ? It seems a mere mockery to put this final question to rational
and thoughtful men in the nineteenth century: Which Book shall we clasp
to our hearts in our last hour—the Book that tells us of the dead, the
extinct, the death-giving Buddha, or the Book that reveals to us the
living, the eternal, the life-giving Christ?


Since the printing of my concluding Lecture, it has occurred to me that
I ought to make a few remarks in regard to a very prevalent error—the
error that Buddhism still numbers more adherents than any other religion
of the world. For these remarks the reader is referred to the Postscript
at the end of the Preface (p. xiv).


[1]‘Life of Alexander Duff, D.D., LL.D., by George Smith, C.I.E., LL.D.’
    London: Hodder and Stoughton; published first in 1879, and a popular
    edition in 1881.

[2]A reference to pages 74, 226, 232 of the following Lectures will make
    the connexion which I wish to illustrate clearer. In many images of
    the Buddha the robe is drawn over both shoulders, as in the portrait
    of the living Sannyāsī. Then mark other particulars in the
    portrait:—e.g. the Rudrāksha rosary round the neck (see ‘Brāhmanism
    and Hindūism,’ p. 67). Then in front of the raised seat of the
    Sannyāsī are certain ceremonial implements. First, observe the
    Kamaṇḍalu, or water-gourd, near the right hand corner of the seat.
    Next, in front of the seat, on the right hand of the figure, is the
    Upa-pātra—a subsidiary vessel to be used with the Kamaṇḍalu. Then,
    in the middle, is the Tāmra-pātra or copper vessel, and on the left
    the Pañća-pātra with the Āćamanī (see ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ pp.
    401, 402). Near the left hand corner of the seat are the wooden
    clogs. Finally, there is the Daṇḍa or staff held in the left hand,
    and used by a Sannyāsī as a defence against evil spirits, much as
    the Dorje (or Vajra) is used by Northern Buddhist monks (see p. 323
    of the present volume). This mystical staff is a bambu with six
    knots, possibly symbolical of six ways (Gati) or states of life,
    through which it is believed that every being may have to migrate—a
    belief common to both Brāhmanism and Buddhism (see p. 122 of this
    volume). The staff is called Su-darṡana (a name for Vishṇu’s Ćakra),
    and is daily worshipped for the preservation of its mysterious
    powers. The mystic white roll which begins just above the left hand
    and ends before the left knot is called the Lakshmī-vastra, or
    auspicious covering. The projecting piece of cloth folded in the
    form of an axe (Paraṡu) represents the weapon of Paraṡu-Rāma, one of
    the incarnations of Vishṇu (see pp. 110, 270 of ‘Brāhmanism and
    Hindūism’) with which he subdued the enemies of the Brāhmans. With
    this so-called axe may be contrasted the Buddhist weapon for keeping
    off the powers of evil (engraved at p. 352).

[3]‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism.’ Third Edition. John Murray, Albemarle

[4]The heaven of Ṡiva is Kailāsa, of Vishṇu is Vaikuṇṭha, of Kṛishṇa is

[5]The Sāṅkhya system, as I have shown, was closely connected with the
    Vedānta, though it recognized the separate existence of countless
    individual Purushas or spirits instead of the one (called Ātman).
    Both had much in common with Buddhism, though the latter substituted
    _Ṡūnya_ ‘a void’ for Purusha and Ātman.

[6]Freely translated by me in Indian Wisdom, p. 133, and literally
    translated by Prof. E. B. Cowell.

[7]‘Let us eat and drink for to-morrow we die.’ 1 Cor. xv. 32.

[8]See Dr. John Muir’s Article on Indian Materialists, Journal of Royal
    Asiatic Society, N. S. xix, p. 302.

[9]It is difficult to accept the theory of those who maintain that
    writing had not been invented.

[10]One hundred is given as a round number. The actual distance is about
    one hundred and twenty miles.—_Corr._

[11]Tapas is a Sanskṛit word, derived from the root tap, ‘to burn,
    torment.’ It is connected with Lat. tepeo, Greek {Thaptô}, which
    last originally denoted ‘to burn,’ not ‘to bury’ dead bodies. Tapas
    ought not to be translated by ‘penance,’ unless that word is
    restricted to the sense poena, ‘pain.’

[12]Such men are called Pañća-tapās (Manu VI. 23). A good representation
    of this form of Tapas may be seen in the Museum of the Indian
    Institute, Oxford.

[13]According to Dr. Oldenberg, the Mṛityu of the Kaṭhopanishad.

[14]In the same way the Cistercian monks of Fountain’s Abbey lived under
    certain trees while the Abbey was building.

[15]The Bhagavad-gītā (V. 28) asserts:—‘The sage (Yogī) who is
    internally happy, internally at peace, and internally illumined,
    attains extinction in Brahma.’ This is pure Buddhism if we
    substitute Cessation of individual existence for Brahma.

[16]Or Kuṡa-nagara, identified by Gen. Sir A. Cunningham with Kasia, 35
    miles east of Gorakh-pore on an old channel of the Chota Gandak.

[17]I give 420 as a round number. Rhys Davids has good reasons for
    fixing the date of Gautama’s death about B.C. 412, Oldenberg about
    480, Cunningham 478, Kern 388. The old date is 543.

[18]See Book of the great Decease, translated by Rhys Davids, p. 72.

[19]The Ṡatapatha-brāhmaṇa (p. 1064) and the Bṛihad-āraṇyaka Upanishad
    (p. 455) affirm that the Ṛig- Yajur- Sāma- and Atharva-veda, the
    Upanishads, Itihāsas, and Purāṇas were all the breath (niḥṡvasitāni)
    of the Supreme Being. And Sāyaṇa, the well-known Indian Commentator
    on the Ṛig-veda, speaking of the Supreme Being in his Introduction,
    says, Yasya niḥṡvasitaṃ Vedāḥ, ‘whose breath the Vedas were.’

[20]How else can we account for Pāṇini’s applying the term Bhāshā to
    colloquial Sanskṛit? Professor E. B. Cowell holds that Pāṇini’s
    standard is the Brāhmaṇa language as opposed to the Saṃhitā of the
    Veda and to Loka or ordinary usage.

[21]According to Professor Rhys Davids, the Pāli text of the whole
    Tri-piṭaka, or true Canon of Buddhist Scripture, contains about
    twice as many words as our Bible; but he calculates that an English
    translation, if all repetitions were given, would be about four
    times as long. I should state here that in this chapter Koeppen,
    Childers, Rhys Davids, and Oldenberg have all been referred to,
    though I have not failed to examine the original Pāli documents

[22]Upāli is said to have been originally the family barber of the
    Ṡākyas. Professor Oldenberg rightly remarks that this did not make
    him a man of low position, though he was probably the lowest in rank
    of all the early disciples of Gautama.

[23]Professor Oldenberg, in his preface to his edition of the
    Mahā-vagga, shows that in early times there were only two divisions
    of the Piṭaka, one called Vinaya and the other Dharma (Dhamma),
    which were often contrasted.

[24]The ten usually enumerated are the three above-named and seven
    others, viz. power of admitting to the Order and confession in
    private houses, the use of comfortable seats, relaxation of monastic
    rules in remote country places, power of obtaining a dispensation
    from the Order _after_ the infringement of a rule, drinking whey,
    putting salt aside for future use, power of citing the example of
    others as a valid excuse for relaxing discipline.

[25]According to Professor Oldenberg’s calculation. The date is
    doubtful. A round number (say 350 B.C.) might be given.

[26]Professor Oldenberg places the locality of the Pāli on the eastern
    coast of Southern India in the northern part of Kaliṅga (Purī in
    Orissa), and would therefore make it an old form of Uriya. That
    country he thinks had most frequent communications with Ceylon.

[27]Professor Childers thought that Pāli merely meant the language of
    the line or series of texts, the word pāli like tanti meaning
    ‘line.’ Pāli differs from the Prākṛit of the Inscriptions, and from
    that of the dramas, and from that of the Jainas (which is still
    later and called Ardha-māgadhī), by its retention of some consonants
    and infusion of Sanskṛit. The Gāthā dialect of the northern books is
    again different.

[28]550 is a round number. The text of the Jātakas has been edited by
    Fausböll and translated by Rhys Davids and others. See a specimen at
    p. 112.

[29]The seven are called: 1. Dhamma-saṅgaṇi, ‘enumeration of conditions
    of existence,’ edited by Dr. E. Müller; 2. Vibhaṅga, ‘explanations;’
    3. Kathā-vatthu, ‘discussions on one thousand controverted points;’
    4. Puggala-paññatti, ‘explanation of personality;’ 5. Dhātu-kathā,
    ‘account of elements;’ 6. Yamaka, ‘pairs;’ 7. Paṭṭhāna, ‘causes.’

[30]A list of these is given in Childers’ Dictionary.

[31]See Introduction to Buddha-ghosha’s Parables, by Professor Max
    Müller; Turnour’s Mahā-vaṉṡa, pp. 250-253.

[32]They are in two quite distinct kinds of writing. That at
    Kapurda-garhi—sometimes called Northern Aṡoka or Ariano-Pāli—is
    clearly Semitic, and traceable to a Phœnician source, being written
    from right to left. That at Girnār, commonly called Southern Aṡoka
    or Indo-Pāli, is read from left to right, and is not so clearly
    traceable. If it came from the west it probably came through a
    Pahlavī channel, and gave rise to Devanāgarī. General Cunningham and
    others believe this latter character to have originated
    independently in India. James Prinsep was the first to decipher the
    inscription character.

[33]See Dr. R. N. Cust’s article in the ‘Journal of the National Indian
    Association’ for June, 1879, and one of his Selected Essays, and
    General Sir A. Cunningham’s great work, ‘The Corpus Inscriptionum
    Indicarum.’ The General reckons thirteen rock inscriptions,
    seventeen cave inscriptions, and six inscribed pillars.

    The eight most important rock inscriptions are those on (1) the Rock
    of Kapurda-garhi (at Shāhbāz-garhi), in British Afghānistān, forty
    miles east-north-east of Peshāwar—this is in the Ariano-Pāli
    character; (2) the Rock of Khālsi, situated on the bank of the river
    Jumnā, just where it leaves the Himālaya mountains, fifteen miles
    west of the hill-station of Mussourie; (3) the Rock of Girnār,
    half-a-mile to the east of the city of Junagurh, in Kāthiāwār; (4)
    the Rock of Dhauli, in Kuttack (properly Kaṭak), twenty miles north
    of Jagan-nāth; (5) the Rock of Jaugada, in a large old fort eighteen
    miles west-north-west of Ganjam in Madras; (6) Bairāt; (7) Rūpnāth,
    at the foot of the Kaimur range; (8) Sahasarām, at the north-east
    end of the Kaimur. The second Bairāt inscription is most important
    as the only one which mentions Buddha by name.

    The five most important pillars are: (1) the Pillar at Delhi known
    as Firoz Shāh’s Lāṭ; (2) another Pillar at Delhi, which was removed
    to Calcutta, but has recently been restored; (3) the Pillar at
    Allahābād, a single shaft without capital, of polished sandstone,
    thirty-five feet in height; (4) the Pillar at Lauriya, near Bettiah,
    in Bengal; (5) the Pillar at another Lauriya, seventy-seven miles
    north-west of Patnā.

[34]Hiouen Thsang states that the three commentaries were engraved on
    sheets of copper and buried in a Stūpa. Beal, I. 152-156.

[35]Our word _monk_ (derived from {monachos}, ‘one who lives alone,’) is
    not quite suitable unless it be taken to mean ‘one who withdraws
    from worldly life.’ See p. 75.

[36]Although he discouraged, he did not prohibit monks from living
    solitary lives. See p. 132 as to the Pratyeka-Buddha, and note, p.

[37]Some prefer to derive the Pāli Ṡamaṇo from the Sanskṛit root Ṡam,
    ‘to be quiet.’ Ṡmāṡānika, ‘frequenting burning grounds,’ is a later
    name, life being to monks a kind of graveyard.

[38]We may note that in the ‘Clay-Cart,’ a Sanskṛit drama written in an
    early century of our era, a gambler becomes a Buddhist monk.

[39]I hear from Dr. Oldenberg that the mention in his ‘Buddha’ of twelve
    years as the minimum is a mistake. The age of eight mentioned by
    Prof. Rhys Davids as the minimum, must be a modern rule peculiar to
    Ceylon, if it be admissible at all.

[40]I give these quotations to show the unsuitableness of the term
    ‘Ordination’ applied to Pabbajjā and Upasampadā in the S. B. E.

[41]In Mahā-vagga I. 30. 4, five kinds of dwellings are named besides
    trees, viz. Vihāras, Aḍḍhayogas (a kind of house shaped like
    Garuḍa), storied dwellings (prāsāda), mansions (harmya), and caves

[42]Comparing Western with Eastern Monachism, I may remark that the
    chief duty of the lay-brethren attached to the Cistercian monastery
    at Fountain’s Abbey was to wait upon the monks, procure food and
    cook it for them; and we learn from the _Times_ of December 24,
    1885, that the same duty devolved on the Carthusian lay-brothers.

[43]The Chronicles of Ceylon state that 80,000 laymen entered the paths
    in Kashmīr. Compare Divyāvadāna, p. 166, line 12; p. 271, 12.

[44]See Tevijja-Sutta, S. B. E. §§ 14, 15.

[45]The venerable Svāmī Ṡrī Saććidānanda Sarasvatī, in sending me a copy
    of the Bhagavad-gītā with a metrical commentary, says, ‘It is the
    best of all books on the Hindū religion, and contains the essence of
    all kinds of religious philosophy.’ I find in the Madras _Times_ for
    October 29, 1886, the following: ‘At a meeting of the “Society for
    the Propagation of True Religion,” at 6 p.m. to-day, the
    Bhagavad-gītā will be read and explained.’

[46]XIV. 7. 2. 17. This was first pointed out by Professor A. Weber.

[47]Centenarians (Ṡatāyus, Ṡata-varsha) seem to have been rather common
    in India in ancient times, if we may judge by the allusions to them
    in Manu and other works. See Manu III. 186; II. 135, 137.

[48]I here merely give the substance of what may be found fully stated
    in Aristotle’s Ethics, I. 1 and IV. 3.

[49]That is, Saṃkhārā = Sanskṛit Saṉskārāḥ pl. (see p. 109), ‘qualities
    forming character.’ In the Vaiṡeshika system Saṉskāra is one of the
    twenty-four qualities, the self-reproductive quality. In the Yoga
    system Saṉskāra = Äṡaya, ‘impressions derived from actions done in
    previous births.’ According to Childers, Saṃkāro is practically =
    Karma, ‘act.’ It may also stand for ‘matter,’ and for a quality, or
    mode of being; e.g. not only for a plant but for its greenness.

[50]The Pāli in Mahā-v° I. 23. 5, is:—Ye dhammā hetuppabhavā tesaṃ hetuṃ
    Tathāgato āha tesaṃ ća yo nirodho evamvādī Mahā-samaṇo. The form
    Tathāgato is also common in Sanskṛit versions. The metrical form of
    the sentence has become broken.

    Professor Cowell informs me that the Sanksṛit given in an old MS. at
    Cambridge is:—‘Ye dharmā hetu-prabhavā hetuṃ teshāṃ Tathāgataḥ | Hy
    avadat teshāṃ ća yo nirodha evaṃ-vādī Mahā-Ṡramaṇaḥ.’ Burnouf gives
    a slightly different version, thus:—Ye dharmā hetu-prabhavās teshāṃ
    hetuṃ Tathāgata uvāća teshāṃ ća etc. Sometimes both _avadat_ and
    _uvāća_ are omitted.

[51]Sometimes a human being is said to be made up of the five
    elements—ether, air, fire, water, earth—with a sixth called Vijñāna.

[52]The body is often compared to a city with nine gates or apertures,
    which have to be guarded (viz. two eyes, ears, nostrils, etc.).

[53]In fact Gautama remained a Bodhi-sattva until he was thirty-four or
    thirty-five, when he attained perfect enlightenment and Buddhahood.

[54]Their names are Dīpaṃkara, Kauṇḍinya, Maṅgala, Sumanas, Raivata,
    Ṡobhita, Anavama-darṡin, Padma, Nārada, Padmottara, Sumedhas,
    Sujāta, Priya-darṡin, Artha-darṡin, Dharma-darṡin, Siddhārtha,
    Tishya, Pushya, Vipaṡyin, Ṡikhin, Viṡva-bhū, Krakućanda, Kanaka-muni
    (or Koṇāgamana), Kāṡyapa.

[55]Beginning with Vipaṡyin. These are the only Buddhas mentioned in the
    Dīgha-nikāya. If the coming Buddha Maitreya is reckoned, then
    Vipaṡyin must be omitted.

[56]It must not be inferred that the episode of the Bhagavad-gītā is of
    great antiquity. This point I have made clear in ‘Brāhmanism and
    Hindūism’ (p. 63) as well as in ‘Indian Wisdom.’ My object at p. 138
    is simply to show that Nirvāṇa is an expression common to Buddhism,
    Brāhmanism, and Hindūism.—_Corr._

[57]The expression Brahma-nirvāṇa is repeated several times afterwards.
    Mark, too, that one of the god Ṡiva’s names in the Mahā-bhārata is

[58]Rāga, dvesha, moha. Eleven fires are sometimes enumerated.

[59]Dr. Rhys Davids holds that the Buddha only advocated the suppression
    of good desires; Fausböll says ‘desire in all its forms.’ I agree
    with the latter.

[60]When I was on the confines of Tibet, this was described to me by a
    Tibetan scholar as the unchangeable state of conscious beatitude.

[61]Or _Anupādi-ṡesha_, that is, Nirvāṇa without remains or remnants of
    the elements of existence. See Childers’ Pāli Dictionary, s. v.

[62]This was remarked by Hooker when travelling in Sikkim. Sir Richard
    Temple in his Journals (II. 216) asserts that he often found married
    monks in Sikkim, and they make no secret of it. They are free to
    resign the monastic character when they choose.

[63]The Vaibhāshika was divided into Sarvāstivāda (assertion of the real
    existence of all things), Mahāsaṅghika, Sammatīya (said to have been
    founded by Upāli), and Sthavira; the Sautrāntika had also its own

[64]Another great king was the celebrated Harsha-vardhana or Silāditya
    of Kanauj, who flourished about A.D. 610-650, and who is said to
    have founded an era formerly much used in Northern India. He ruled
    from the Indus to the Ganges, and his doings are described by Hiouen
    Thsang (Beal’s Records, I. 210-221.)

[65]The Mahā-yāna is said to be connected with the Mādhyamika and
    Yogāćāra Schools, and the Hīna-yāna with the Vaibhāshika and

[66]Professor Legge’s Travels of Fā-hien, p. 28.

[67]Translated from the Chinese by the Rev. S. Beal and more recently by
    Professor Legge.

[68]According to Dr. Legge’s orthography this name should be written
    Hsüen Chwang.

[69]See Beal’s ‘Records of the Western World,’ which gives a translation
    of these travels in two volumes.

[70]Hiouen Thsang describes the Sthavira form of the Mahā-yāna as
    existing as far south as Ceylon. He found many monks studying both
    the Great and Little Vehicles in Central India. Beal’s Records, ii.
    247, 254, 257.

[71]As I have shown in ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ the term incarnation
    is not strictly expressive of the Hindū idea of Avatāra, which means
    ‘a descent’ of a god (or a portion of his essence) in various forms
    upon earth.

[72]Professor Legge’s translation, p. 56.

[73]There are four great Buddhist kings of India who may be called
    historical, the dates of whose reigns may be fixed with fair
    certainty:—1. Ćandra-gupta, who was at any rate a sympathiser with
    Buddhism, B.C. 315-291. 2. Aṡoka, a decided Buddhist, B.C. 259-222.
    3. Kanishka (see p. 69). 4. Ṡilāditya, above. Some consider Kanishka
    to have founded the Ṡaka era, dating from A.D. 78.

[74]Translated in 1872 by Mr. Palmer Boyd, and published with an
    interesting introduction by Professor Cowell.

[75]See Beal’s Records, ii. 167-172; a long account of this monastery
    visited by Hiouen Thsang is there given.

[76]No doubt there are places in the South of India where there is
    evidence of some violent persecution. I may instance among the
    places I visited Tanjore and Madura. When I concluded the reading of
    a paper on this subject at the meeting of the Royal Asiatic Society
    on February 15, 1886, the then President, Colonel Yule, justly
    remarked that the members of two religious communions who hold very
    similar doctrines, often on that account hate and oppose each other
    all the more; but my point was that the ultra-tolerance which was of
    the very essence of both Brāhmanism and Buddhism must have prevented
    actual persecution, except under special circumstances. Brāhmanism
    was much more likely to have adopted Buddhism as part of its system,
    than to have persecuted and expelled it. In point of fact, the
    Brāhmans, as is well known, are ready to regard any great teacher as
    one of Vishṇu’s incarnations, and in this way are even willing to
    pay homage to the Head of Christianity.

[77]Buddhism began to lose ground in India about the fourth or fifth
    century after Christ, but it maintained a chequered career for
    several succeeding centuries even after Hiouen Thsang’s time. See p.

[78]First, the Vedic triad of gods, Agni, ‘Fire,’ Indra, ‘wielder of the
    thunderbolt,’ and Sūrya, ‘the Sun,’ followed by the Tri-mūrti or
    Brahmā, Ṡiva, and Vishṇu. Then the three Guṇas or constituents of
    the material Universe, Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas, and lastly the
    triple name of Brahmă, Sać-ćid-ānanda.

[79]Sarat Chandra Dās, in his interesting Tibetan journal, describes
    them as the ‘three Holies.’

[80]Edited by Childers. See Journal R. A. S., N. S. iv. 318, and Kern’s
    Buddhismus, ii. 156.

[81]Legge’s Fā-hien, pp. 112-116.

[82]Capt. Temple states that the Saṅgha is personified in Sikkim under
    the form of a man holding a lotus in his left hand, the right hand
    being on the right knee.

[83]Probably all the images of Dharma are meant to be female, as
    described in the note on the same page, and at p. 485.—_Corr._

[84]According to Capt. Temple, Dharma, ‘the law,’ is personified in
    Sikkim as a white woman with four arms, two raised in prayer, the
    third holding a garland (or rosary), the fourth a lotus.

[85]One legend says:—‘Thus, O monks, Buddha was born, and the right side
    of his mother was not pierced, was not wounded. It remained as
    before.’ Foucaux, p. 97. Hiouen Thsang relates that there is a
    Vihāra at Kapila-vastu indicating the spot ‘where the Bodhi-sattva
    descended _spiritually_ into the womb of his mother,’ and that there
    is a representation of this scene drawn in the Vihāra. I have myself
    seen many representations of it in Buddhist sculptures.

[86]Beal’s Records, i. 228.

[87]Beal’s Records, i. 134, note.

[88]This work, ‘Die Religion des Buddha,’ by Carl Friederich Koeppen,
    has been long out of print, and has unfortunately never been
    translated into English. The German is often difficult, but I have
    endeavoured to give a correct idea of Koeppen’s statements in the
    instances in which I have made use of them. It is now somewhat out
    of date.

[89]It is obvious to remark that in the same way those who are
    intellectually self-dependent and self-raised among ourselves
    generally rise to a higher level of popular esteem than those taught
    by other men.

[90]There was also a ‘middle way,’ see p. 159.

[91]See pp. 47, 104. Koeppen compares them to St. Peter and St. Paul.

[92]The Rev. S. Beal (Ind. Antiquary for Dec., 1886) shows that
    Nāgārjuna and Nāgasena are two different persons. Sir A. Cunningham
    is of the same opinion. It may be noted that Padma-sambhava is
    credited with introducing the more corrupt form of Buddhism along
    with magic into Tibet at a later date, probably in the eighth

[93]For the account of Nāgārjuna’s disciple Deva, mentioned by Hiouen
    Thsang, see Beal’s Records, ii. 97.

[94]Of course not to be confounded with Gautama’s disciple of the same
    name, who is generally called Mahā-Kāṡyapa.

[95]According to Eitel he is still revered as the patron-saint of all
    novices, and is to be re-born as the eldest son of every future
    Buddha; see Legge’s Fā-hien, p. 46.

[96]The use of the passive participle in an active sense is not uncommon
    in Sanskṛit, but is generally confined to verbs involving some idea
    of motion.

[97]See Beal’s Records, i. 114, note 107.

[98]Professor Legge tells us that an intelligent Chinese once asked him
    whether ‘the worship of Mary in Europe was not similar?’

[99]Legge’s Translation, p. 46. Beal, i. 180, ii. 220. According to
    Schlagintweit, a historical teacher named Mañju-ṡrī taught in the
    eighth or ninth century A.D.

[100]Even the Brahmās, after immense periods of life in the Brahmā
    heavens, have to go through other births in one of the six ways of
    migration. Sahām-pati may therefore mean ‘the lord of sufferers,’
    ‘all life involving suffering,’ and this excludes the idea of his
    ‘being lord over the Buddha who has not to be born again.’

[101]See Wright’s Nepāl, p. 43.

[102]Beal’s Records, ii. 103, 174.

[103]The images of this deity represent him as coarse and ill-favoured
    in form (his name in fact signifying ‘deformed’). He has sometimes
    three legs. As guardian of the northern quarter he is sculptured on
    the corner pillar of the northern gate of the Bharhut Stūpa. He had
    a metropolis of his own, according to Hindū mythology (as we know
    from the Megha-dūta), called Alaka, on the Himālayas.

[104]A very interesting specimen of ancient sculpture representing a
    Nāga-kanyā may be seen in the museum of the Indian Institute,
    Oxford. It belongs to a collection of Buddhist antiquities lent by
    Mr. R. Sewell, of the Madras Civil Service.

[105]I give this as my own theory. I am no believer in the learned M.
    Senart’s sun theory, or in its applicability to this point.

[106]These are described in Childers’s Pāli Dictionary, s.v.

[107]See my ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 105.

[108]Quoted in Colonel Olcott’s ‘Yoga Philosophy,’ p. 282.

[109]See my ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 35.

[110]Colonel Olcott and Mr. Sinnett mention this faculty as a peculiar
    characteristic of Asiatic occultism.

[111]‘The Occult World,’ by A. P. Sinnett, Vice-President of the
    Theosophical Society, pp. 12, 15, 20.

[112]At a meeting of the Victoria Institute, where I repeated the
    substance of the present Lecture, Mr. W. S. Seton-Karr, who was for
    some time Foreign Secretary at Calcutta, stated that he also had
    witnessed the performance of this feat in India.

[113]Colonel Olcott’s ‘Lectures on Theosophy and Archaic Religions,’ p.

[114]Report in the _Times_ newspaper.

[115]See Mr. Walter Besant’s recent interesting story, ‘Herr Paulus.’

[116]Nāga-worship is not always identical with serpent-worship. See p.

[117]The Naths are certain demons or spirits of the air more worshipped
    in Burma than in Ceylon. See p. 259.

[118]His proper title is Ṡrīpāda Sumaṅgala Unnānse. The title Unnānse is
    used by all the superior monks of Ceylon for ‘venerable’ (Sanskṛit

[119]Sumaṅgala informed me that this was the only prayer used in Ceylon.
    It is no real prayer, but only an expression of reverence. Often,
    however, wishes for good luck are expressed like prayers. They are
    called Maṅgala or Jaya-maṅgala. For example: ‘May I for this
    particular act of merit obtain some particular piece of good

[120]Some connect the wizard-priest Shaman with the Buddhist Ṡramaṇa.

[121]Lāma (written in Tibetan bLama) is the Tibetan name for a superior
    teacher (Sanskṛit Guru), and from this word the hierarchical system
    of Tibet is usually called Lāmaism. It seems, however, as legitimate
    to form a word Lāmism from Lāma, as Buddhism from Buddha. At any
    rate my adjective Lāmistic is less awkward than Lāmaistic. As to ā
    in Lāma, see Rules for pronunciation at p. xxxi.

[122]This is the Sanskṛit _vandya_, ‘to be saluted.’ I cannot help
    thinking that Bante and Bandya may be the origin of the term Bonze,
    applied to monks or priests in China, though I believe Professor
    Legge connects Bonze with Munshī.

[123]According to Dr. Schlagintweit the number of rules is 250, and they
    are detailed in the first or Dulva portion of the Kanjur.

[124]One was a Nepālese princess (called Bribsun) and the other a
    Chinese princess (called Wenching). According to Koeppen, they were
    worshipped under the general name Dāra Eke—Dāra standing for the
    Sanskṛit Tārā and Eke meaning Mother.

[125]Some write Lhāsa (strictly Lhasa). I prefer Lhāssa as best
    representing the pronunciation. It means ‘the city of the gods’ (lha
    or lhā).

[126]Bakshi is probably a corruption of Bhikshu. Koeppen says it is
    Mongolian for Ton. Mr. Edgar (Report, p. 39) pronounces Brom Ton

[127]Dr. Schlagintweit (p. 73) identifies this with the sect which wear
    _red_ dresses, but this must surely be an error for _yellow_.

[128]Through the Mongols Tibet gradually came under the power of China
    from 1255 to 1720. The dynasty in China is now Manchu.

[129]It is remarkable that the expression {ho katabas} is said of Christ
    in the New Testament.

[130]According to the _Times_ Correspondent Lhāssa stands in no closer
    relation to China than the least dependent of Indian States to the
    British Empire; history, however, proves that China can, when her
    interests demand it, assume a very different position. The military
    power of China is not great, but that of the Lāma Government is
    nearly _nil_. The expulsion of the missionaries Huc and Gabet proves

[131]It is said by some that even his excreta are held sacred. They are
    dried, ground to powder, and either swallowed or made use of as
    charms. Others deny this.

[132]In the _Times_ newspaper for June 15, 1888, is the following: ‘_How
    the Grand Lāma of Tibet is appointed_.—A recent number of the
    _Peking Gazette_ contains a memorial to the Emperor from the Chinese
    Resident at Lhāssa, stating that a certain Tibetan official called
    the Nominhan (see p. 286 of this volume) had reported to him that he
    had found three young boys of remarkable intelligence and acuteness,
    into one of whom beyond a doubt the spirit of the late Lāma of Tashi
    Lunpo (one of the two supreme pontiffs) had passed. Thereupon the
    Chinese Resident sent a report to Peking, asking that the ceremony
    of selecting one of these three children might be permitted. By the
    time the authority arrived, the Nominhan with the children had
    reached Lhāssa, and a lucky day was chosen for the ceremony. The
    golden vase in which the lots are cast was brought and placed before
    the image of the Emperor. Prayers were chanted before the assembled
    Lāmas, and the children were conducted into the presence of the
    Resident and Tibetan authorities in order that their intelligence
    and difference from other persons might be tested.’

[133]‘Cloven-headed’ seems a misprint for eleven-headed; but the account
    of the creation of Avalokiteṡvara at p. 487 of this volume justifies

[134]Article on Japan in the last edition of the Encyclopædia

[135]According to one of my Japanese informants Butsu should he Bhutsu,
    and the formula should be translated, ‘Reverence to the Infinite

[136]My quotations from the travels of Huc and Gabet have been made from
    excellent translations by Mrs. Percy Sinnet and W. Hazlitt, but I
    have been compelled to abbreviate the extracts.

[137]Published by Messrs. Macmillan & Co. Shway Yoe is an assumed name.
    The author’s real name is Scott.

[138]I was told when in Ceylon, that many monasteries in the Kandyan
    provinces had misappropriated their endowments and dropped the
    schools, which they were bound to keep up.

[139]Notes illustrative of Buddhism as the daily religion of the
    Buddhists of Ceylon, by J. F. Dickson, M. A. Oxon.

[140]This is the derivation given by Childers; one might otherwise have
    been inclined to suspect some connexion with Preta, a ghost (pp.
    121, 219 of this volume).

[141]The texts and commentaries of some of these were collected by M.
    Grimblot, and translated with notes by M. Leon Feer, in the Journal
    Asiatique. The Tibetan Pirit is said to consist of only thirteen

[142]A cold climate necessitates the addition of trousers, and boots and
    occasionally shoes are worn.

[143]This is probably permitted with a view to prevent the study of
    Mongolian from entirely dying out. It is certain that, although the
    Buddhist sacred books have long been translated into Mongolian,
    Chinese, and Tungusic, only the Tibetan texts are esteemed as

[144]The indomitable persevering Hungarian traveller, Alexander Csoma de
    Körös, already mentioned (at p. 70), was the first European to throw
    light on the Tibetan language. He had been impelled to acquire it by
    the task he had imposed on himself of searching out the progenitors
    of his race. More than eighty years ago he set out on his travels,
    and his search ultimately brought him to Tibet. There he devoted
    himself to the study of the Tibetan language and its sacred
    literature, taking up his abode in the monastery of Pugdal, in
    defiance of intense cold and other hardships. But his heroic energy
    did not end there. In 1831 he travelled from Tibet to Calcutta, and
    in that city, about the year 1834, published his Grammar and
    Dictionary of the Tibetan language, besides his table of contents of
    the Kanjur and the extra-canonical treatises. At length fancying
    himself qualified for the accomplishment of his self-inflicted task,
    he started off again, and died in Sikkim in April 1842. He is buried
    at Dārjīling. We Englishmen, who ought to have taken the greatest
    share in these linguistic conquests—so important in their bearing on
    the interests of our Indian frontier—have hitherto, to our great
    discredit, almost entirely neglected them. Meanwhile, St. Petersburg
    and Paris have founded chairs of the Tibetan language, and nearly
    all that has been effected for promoting the study of Tibetan has
    been due to Russian and French scholars, and to German and Moravian
    missionaries, especially to Jäschke and Hyde.

    I am glad, however, to see from the annual address delivered by the
    President of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and published in the
    Report for February, 1888, that this reproach is now being wiped out
    by our fellow-subjects in India. Babu Pratāpa Chandra Ghosha is
    bringing out in the Bibliotheca Indica the Tibetan translation of
    the Buddhistic work Prajñā-pāramitā, forming the second division of
    the Kanjur, while Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās, C.I.E., is editing the
    Tibetan version of the Avadāna-Kalpalatā (a store-house of legends
    of Buddha’s life and acts), and compiling a Tibetan-Sanskṛit-English
    Dictionary. Great credit is due to our Indian Government for the
    publication of Jäschke’s Tibetan-English Dictionary.

[145]As corpses are exposed to be devoured by animals in Tibet human
    bones are easily obtained for this purpose.

[146]As before stated (p. 306, note) I have been compelled to abbreviate
    the translator’s version and occasionally to vary the expressions,
    and have therefore felt it right to omit inverted commas.

[147]According to Schlagintweit this sect (also called Brugpa, p. 272)
    are especially worshippers of the Dorje (see p. 322), and are
    therefore Tāntrikas.

[148]This I heard from his own lips.

[149]The abstract has been made by me from a copy of Sarat Chandra Dās’
    Report kindly lent to me by Sir Edwin Arnold. But I learnt much from
    Mr. S. C. D. in personal conversations. In my numerous quotations I
    have ventured to make a few alterations in the English.

[150]This is the Tibetan name of Avalokiteṡvara or Padma-pāṇi. It is
    often spelt Chenresi, or Chenresig, or Chenressig.

[151]The Lion is an emblem of the Buddha, and he is called Ṡākya-siṉha,
    ‘the Lion of the Ṡākya tribe’ (see pp. 23, 394).

[152]See p. 321.

[153]See these enumerated at p. 528.

[154]See Mr. Clements Markham’s Tibet, p. cxiii.

[155]This was the Buddha’s attitude when he died (see pp. 50, 241). He
    is called ‘a Lion.’ (See note 2, p. 332.)

[156]See my ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 367.

[157]I found, when in the South of India, that an image of Bhavānī in a
    Hindū temple was very like that of the Virgin Mary in an adjacent
    Roman Catholic Church. I was told that the same Hindū carver carved

[158]We know that Hindūism, in the end, adopted Buddha himself, and
    converted him into one of the incarnations of Vishṇu (see
    ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 114).

[159]These good deities, according to Schlagintweit, are represented
    with formidable countenances and dark complexions, and a third eye
    in the forehead—probably the eye of wisdom, as in the Dhyāni-Buddhas
    (see p. 203 of these Lectures).

[160]See the account of the female demons called Tanma at p. 457 of
    these Lectures.

[161]The shape is not quite the same as that of the Phurbu, but there
    can be no doubt of its being a kindred weapon. I purchased my
    specimen at Dārjīling, and was assured that it came from Tibet, and
    was used by the Tibetans in the same way as the Phurbu.

[162]See ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 345.

[163]See my work on ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ pp. 357, 358, 370, etc.

[164]See the translation of a horoscope given in ‘Brāhmanism and
    Hindūism,’ p. 373.

[165]According to Schlagintweit, those amulets which are curved round to
    a point are intended to represent the leaf of the sacred fig-tree.

[166]In this it did good service, at least for a time; for the cost of
    marriage-ceremonies among the Hindūs often cripples the resources of
    a family for years. The marriage of the poorest persons sometimes
    entails expenses in gifts to the Brāhmans, etc., to the amount of
    300 rupees.

[167]Mr. Scott points out in his ‘Burman’ that this is especially the
    case in Burma.

[168]Scott’s ‘Burman,’ p. 125.

[169]My authority for this is Mr. J. F. Dickson’s pamphlet called ‘Notes
    and illustrations of Buddhism,’ etc.

[170]Scott’s ‘Burman,’ i. 282.

[171]The Dāgabas of laymen have no umbrellas at the top (see p. 505).
    This privilege is only accorded to the monkhood (Scott’s ‘Burman’).

[172]This is mentioned by Huc as well as by Koeppen.

[173]He is sometimes represented seated on a Lotus, or born from a

[174]Om is borrowed from the Hindūs. It is their most sacred syllable,
    symbolical of their triad of gods, Brahmā, Vishṇu, and Ṡiva, denoted
    by the three mystical letter A, U, M (see my ‘Brāhmanism,’ p. 402).
    When imported into Buddhism it may possibly symbolize the Buddhist
    triad. Om is sometimes translated by Hail! Hūm, as a particle of
    solemn assent, is sometimes translated by Amen! I prefer to treat
    both Om and Hūm as untranslatable ejaculations.

[175]I had formed this opinion long before I saw the same view hinted at
    in one of Koeppen’s notes (see my ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 33).
    It is certainly remarkable that the name Maṇi is applied to the male
    organ, and the female is compared to a lotus-blossom in the
    Kāma-ṡāstras. I fully believe the formula to have a phallic meaning,
    because Tibetan Buddhism is undoubtedly connected with Ṡaivism.

[176]Some think, however, that the six syllables owe their efficacy to
    their symbolizing the six Pāramitās or transcendent virtues.

[177]Dr. Schlagintweit mentions (p. 121) that when Baron Schilling
    visited a certain convent he found the Lāmas occupied in preparing
    100 million copies of Om maṇi padme Hūm to be inserted in a
    prayer-cylinder. He also states that the inscription relating to the
    foundation of the monastery of Hemis in Ladāk (see p. 433 of these
    Lectures) records the setting up of 300,000 prayer-cylinders along
    the walls and passages of the monastery.

[178]The _Maṇi-padme_ prayer is itself for shortness often called Maṇi.

[179]Stūpas and Ćaityas are explained at p. 504.

[180]So says Schlagintweit, but he adds that in some places passers by
    keep them to the right. Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās also mentions this.

[181]According to Sir Richard Temple (Journal, p. 198) travellers walk
    first on one side and then on the other.

[182]Schlagintweit (p. 253) says this is the horse which constitutes one
    of the seven treasures (see p. 528 of these Lectures). It brings
    good fortune to the man who keeps it flying on a flag.

[183]The gem called Norbu is another of the seven treasures.

[184]Dr. Schlagintweit says that a Dhāraṇi to the following effect is
    often written on the flag: ‘Tiger, Lion, Eagle, and Dragon, may they
    co-operate Sarva-du-du-hom! (‘Tibetan Buddhism,’ p. 255).

[185]The number 108 seems sacred, as the sole of Buddha’s foot is said
    to have that number of marks upon it.

[186]Common people in Buddhist countries are satisfied with 30 or 40

[187]This is a great Tibetan saint, author of a hundred thousand songs.

[188]Translated for me by Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās, who was my companion
    during part of my sojourn at Dārjīling.

[189]Hiouen Thsang says that this place is near Prayāga (the modern
    Allahābād), and that Aṡoka built a Stūpa there. (Beal, i. 231.)

[190]General Sir A. Cunningham puts the date at about A.D. 150.

[191]See the account given in ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 442.

[192]Many images and sculptures were abstracted by the Burmese, but many
    never reached Burma, for they accidentally fell into the Ganges in
    the process of being transported there. The colossal image found
    outside the temple is now in the Calcutta Museum (see the engraving
    opposite to p. 466).

[193]Mr. Beglar gave me specimens of the fragments, which I have still.

[194]The umbrella is symbolical of supremacy. See p. 523.

[195]The lion is often associated with Buddha, who is called Ṡākya-siṉha
    (see p. 23), and whose throne is therefore called a _Siṉhāsan_.

[196]This will be evident to any one who examines it attentively. The
    socket-hole of the umbrella-ornament may be easily detected.

[197]The form of ritual observed was like that I witnessed at Gayā, and
    described in my ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 310.

[198]See my ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 434.

[199]That is, ‘the lord of deer.’ Sāraṅga is a kind of deer, and the
    Buddha was probably called so because he is fabled to have wandered
    about as a deer in this very place in one of his former births (see
    p. 111 of this volume). The legend is that he was born eleven times
    as a deer, and on this account a deer is one of the sacred symbols
    of Buddhism. We learn from General Sir A. Cunningham (i. 105) that
    the name Sārnāth properly belongs to a temple dedicated to Ṡiva near
    the Buddhist monument, and the epithet ‘Lord of deer,’ is equally
    applicable to the god Ṡiva, who is often represented in the act of
    holding up a deer in his hand.

[200]The name Dhamek may possibly be a corruption of Dhamma-ćakka

[201]Fā-hien says that the old city was girdled by five hills. These
    hills are now called Baibhār (on which are five Jain temples),
    Vipula, Ratna, Udaya, and Sona-giri. A long account of the place
    will be found in Cunningham’s ‘Ancient Geography of India,’ pp.
    462-468, and in his ‘Archæological Report,’ i. 20. Bimbi-sāra seems
    to have built the town, which was afterwards improved by
    Ajāta-ṡatru, and the site of the new portion being not quite
    identical, the new town was called ‘new Rāja-gṛiha.’ Legge’s
    ‘Fā-hien,’ p. 81. There are several hot springs in this locality.

[202]Ajāta-ṡatru seems first to have sided with Buddha’s enemy

[203]It may be mentioned here that any place or house in which the
    Buddha resided for a time was afterwards called Gandha-kuṭī
    (probably from the fragrance of the perfumed offerings always to be
    found in it). Hence the Bambu grove at Rāja-gṛiha, and the Jeta-vana
    at Srāvastī (p. 407), were both Gandha-kuṭīs.

[204]A magnificent edition of this work in Tibetan, Mongol, Manchu, and
    Chinese came into the possession of the French Missionaries (Huc,
    ii. 74).

[205]Here, therefore, there was a Gandha-kuṭī (see note, p. 404).

[206]Fā-hien says, ‘Here lived Buddha for a longer time than at any
    other place,’ and on that account, perhaps, was called
    Dharma-pattana (Beal’s ‘Records,’ ii. 1). It was at this place that
    the Brahmaćārīns killed a courtesan, and accused Buddha of adultery
    and murder (see Legge, p. 59; Beal, ii. 8).

[207]Legge, pp. 57, 59; Beal, ii. 5.

[208]Another statue, claiming to be the genuine sandal-wood image, was
    at Kauṡāmbī (see p. 412).

[209]A kūṭāgāra is properly any building with a peaked roof (kūṭa) or

[210]Cunningham (i. 301) gives a full account of the place.

[211]The story is fully narrated in the second and third books of the
    Kathā-sarit-sāgara of Soma Deva. See my ‘Indian Wisdom,’ p. 511.
    King Udayana is said to have been a contemporary of the Buddha.

[212]See my ‘Indian Wisdom,’ p. 486.

[213]See Hiouen Thsang’s account of it, p. 471. Another similar image
    belonged to King Prasenajit at Ṡrāvastī, see pp. 408, 471.

[214]The name is said to have been derived from that of a Nāga, who
    lived in a neighbouring tank. See the description in two Chinese
    Buddhist inscriptions found at Buddha-Gayā. R. A. S. Journal, vol.

[215]This Utpalā must be the same as Utpala-varṇā (see p. 48 of this

[216]A Yojana is variously estimated at 4 or 5 or 9 English miles.

[217]Hiouen Thsang states that this name, which means a ‘hump-backed
    virgin,’ is derived from the fact that an old sage (Ṛishi), who
    possessed supernatural powers, cursed ninety-nine daughters of king
    Brahma-datta for refusing to marry him, and made them deformed
    (Beal, i. 209). A different legend is given in my Sanskṛit-English

[218]This is very instructive in regard to the numerical proportion
    between Brāhmans and Buddhists at this place.

[219]According to Cunningham, about B.C. 450.

[220]One for each of the 84,000 elements of the body (p. 499). The real
    number of Stūpas was 84, but, as usual, three ciphers have been

[221]It is difficult to understand exactly what these Aḍḍhayoga, Prāsāda
    and Harmya were. In some Buddhist countries storied houses are
    considered objectionable, as no one likes to submit to the indignity
    of having the feet of another person above his head.

[222]The objection to the hollow of trees was that spirits, ghosts, and
    goblins often took up their abode there.

[223]The term Vihāra was afterwards usually applied to temples, or to
    buildings combining temple and monastery in one.

[224]Some authorities place them in the sixth century of our era.

[225]This is curiously illustrated in a recent letter from a resident in
    Burma to the Editor of the _Times_ newspaper, in which it is stated
    that about six months after King Theebaw had been deported, some of
    his things were exhibited by us in the lower rooms of the Rangoon
    Museum, to the great disgust of his Burmese admirers, who asked,
    ‘how we dared place their king’s things in a lower room where people
    could walk above them?’

[226]It is for this reason that in the Tibetan language they are called

[227]So described in a pamphlet on Buddhist Monasteries in Lahoul, by a
    Moravian Missionary.

[228]Mr. Sarat Chandra Dās gives the names of 1026 monasteries. Koeppen
    makes 3000 monasteries and 84,000 Lāmas.

[229]A small river flowing into the Tsanpo or Brahma-putra.

[230]The hill is called Potala, and the palace-monastery is named after
    it. Koeppen says it has three peaks, but the illustration in
    Markham’s account of Manning’s journey (p. 256) shows three long
    summits rather than peaks. The hill is called Buddha-la by Huc (ii.
    140), but Koeppen (ii. 341) is more correct in stating that Potala
    is the name of a sea-port on the river Indus, called Pattala by the
    Greeks, and now Tatta. There is a tradition that this Potala was the
    original home of the Ṡākya tribe (see p. 21 of this volume).

[231]Koeppen translates this by the German sau, but says it may also
    mean ‘Hintere Berg.’

[232]Messrs. Huc and Gabet failed in their attempt to obtain an
    interview with the Dalai Lāma of 1846.

[233]It may also mean temple of Lhāssa and ‘abode of gods,’ in which
    case Lā would be for Lhā.

[234]Huc says ‘four leagues;’ Koeppen ‘drei meilen,’ which is incorrect.

[235]These are also mentioned by Sarat Chandra Dās and by Markham (p.
    130, note 3), and again, differently spelt, at p. 264, note 1.

[236]For his services as an explorer and surveyor Nain Singh enjoys a
    Government pension, and has been awarded the gold medal of the
    Geographical Society. Sarat Chandra Dās has been made a C.I.E.

[237]My authority for all these details is Dr. Burgess’ Report.

[238]Copies of these were made for me by a Sinhalese artist.

[239]In this description I have chiefly followed Mr. Scott.

[240]This description is based on Koeppen, ii. 234, and on the narrative
    of Sarat Chandra Dās’ journey in 1881, 1882.

[241]Sarat Chandra Dās mentions a ‘flag-pole forty feet high, on which
    are some inscriptions, two tufts of yak hair, and several yak and
    sheep-horns.’ Possibly this may be the obelisk mentioned by Koeppen.

[242]One of these is the terrific goddess Paldan (p. 491), worshipped by
    all Tibetans and Mongols, and identified with the goddess Kālī.

[243]My authority for this is Bishop Edward Bickersteth, the present
    Bishop in Japan.

[244]See my ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism’ (published by Mr. Murray of
    Albemarle Street), pp. 2-20.

[245]Another ancient statue but not so old, though of a highly
    interesting type, was procured by me (for the Indian Institute at
    Oxford) from Buddha-Gayā on the occasion of my last visit in 1884,
    through the kind assistance of Mr. Beglar. It is in the erect

[246]See ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 214.

[247]A good example of this tight-fitting robe is afforded by the
    ancient statue of the Buddha, mentioned at p. 467, note.

[248]When Gautama renounced his family and caste, he doubtless discarded
    the cord, just as a true Sannyāsī is required to do (p. 78).

[249]In the Jaina statues, the lobes of the ears, so far as I have
    observed, always touch the shoulders.

[250]Some think that this represents the wheel of the Ćakra-vartī
    emperor, or the wheel of the law, or the cycle of causes, or the
    continual revolution of births, deaths, and re-births. Dr. Mitra
    maintains that a lotus, and not a wheel, is always intended, though
    the lotus is often so badly carved that it may pass for any circular

[251]Dr. Rajendralāla Mitra considers that curly locks were given to
    Gautama Buddha because the possession of curls is believed to be an
    auspicious sign. Some have actually inferred from the curl-like
    knobs, that Buddha was a negro!

[252]See Dr. Edkins’ ‘Chinese Buddhism’ (p. 256).

[253]See Lalita-vistara (Calc. ed.), pp. 402, 403, 449, ll. 6-14.

[254]See my remarks on the worship of serpents in ‘Brāhmanism and
    Hindūism,’ p. 319; and Fergusson’s great work, ‘Tree and Serpent

[255]There is a striking parallel in a well-known picture by Bernardino
    Luini (of the Milan school) of ‘Christ disputing with the Doctors’
    to be seen in our National Gallery.

[256]Procured for me by Mr. Burrows, of the Ceylon Civil Service.

[257]See especially an image in the British Museum. In China Bas-relief
    images of Buddha are sometimes inserted by Buddhist priests in large
    mussel-shells while the animal is living, and are covered by it with
    a coating of mother of pearl. This they call a miracle. An example
    is in the Indian Institute, presented by Mrs. Newman Smith.

[258]The sculptured figures of Padma-pāṇi observed by me in the caves of
    Elorā represent him with Amitābha in his head-dress.

[259]Observe that Sang Yun, as there given, is more correctly spelt Sung
    Yun or Sung-Yun.

[260]Compare Hardy’s ‘Monachism,’ p. 212.

[261]See Hardy’s ‘Eastern Monachism,’ p. 192.

[262]See my ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 303.

[263]‘Mahā-p.’ p. 51. ‘Milinda Pañha,’ p. 177. ‘It is certainly
    noteworthy,’ says Oldenberg, ‘that as the care for Buddha’s remains
    is not represented as belonging to the disciples, so the Vinaya
    texts are nearly silent as to the last honours of the deceased
    monks. To arrange for their cremation was probably committed to the

[264]Subsequently called Purī, and noted for the worship of Jagan-nāth
    or Kṛishṇa, who became the successor of Buddha as an object of
    worship (see p. 166 of this volume).

[265]Hardy’s ‘Eastern Monachism,’ p. 224. The size of the tooth does not
    seem very preposterous, on the assumption of the truth of the
    tradition that Gautama attained to the stature of twenty cubits.

[266]Mr. Lesley, in his ‘Lectures on the Origin and Destiny of Man,’
    states that there are two foot-prints sculptured on the summit of
    Mount Olivet, and worshipped by pilgrims as the marks left when
    Christ sprang into the sky at His ascension. There is another
    alleged foot-print of Christ in the Mosque of Omar, and two
    foot-prints at Poitiers in France. There are two foot-prints of
    Ishmael in the temple at Mecca. This is mentioned by Mr. Alabaster
    (p. 262).

[267]Or according to some the Ṡālmali or Silk-cotton tree (Sīmal).

[268]Spence Hardy’s ‘Eastern Monachism,’ p. 215.

[269]I conjecture that the Mućalinda-tree may have been the Sandal, for
    it is described in Sanskṛit literature as infested by snakes. The
    fact of a serpent having emerged from the roots of this tree and
    protected the Buddha instead of injuring him, may account for the
    sacred character of the sandal-wood statue (see p. 408).

[270]Hardy’s ‘Eastern Monachism,’ p. 212.

[271]I noticed a fine specimen of this tree growing in the courtyard of
    the temple of the god Brahmā at Pokhar, near Ājmere, visited by me
    in 1884. Near it were two Banyan trees, a Nīm tree, and Aṡoka tree.
    Brahmā’s other temple at Idar was not visited by me.

[272]Compare my translation of ‘Ṡakuntalā,’ pp. 90, 91 (fifth edition).
    The Christmas-tree with its suspended gifts offers a curious and
    interesting analogy. The wonderful tree described by Messrs. Huc and
    Gabet as seen by them (vol. ii. p. 53, Hazlett’s translation) can
    only be regarded as an example of a remarkably clever hoax.

[273]Mr. R. Sewell has written an interesting article on ‘Early Buddhist
    Symbolism,’ in which he connects certain symbols with solar ideas
    derived from the West. Mr. Frederic Pincott thinks that the triple
    symbol stands for the ancient Y of the ‘Ye dharmā’ formula.

[274]See my ‘Modern India,’ p. 193, published by Messrs. Trübner and
    Co., and ‘Brāhmanism and Hindūism,’ p. 127.

[275]The Jaugada inscription has two Svastikas, the arms in each of
    which are bent in opposite directions.

[276]The expression Jainism corresponds to Ṡaivism, just as Jaina does
    to Ṡaiva. Consistency would require Bauddhism and Bauddha for
    Buddhism and Buddhist, but I fear the latter expressions are too
    firmly established.

[277]Nigaṇṭha (also spelt Niggantha) is from the Sanskṛit Nir-grantha,
    ‘having no ties or worldly associations.’

[278]Cicero (De natura deorum) derives _religion_ from relego, and
    explains it as a diligent practice of prayer and worship. Others
    have derived it from religo, and hold that it means ‘binding to

[279]Here is an extract from a book called ‘The Mystery of the Ages,’
    published in 1887:—‘Buddhism is the Christianity of the East, and,
    as such, even in better conservation than is Christianity, the
    Buddhism of the West.’

[280]As instances of the trivialities I give the following from the
    Ćulla-vagga (Sacred Books of the East, vol. xx. v, 31, p. 146; v, 9.
    5, p. 87):—

    ‘Now at that time the Bhikkhus hung up their bowls on pins in the
    walls, or on hooks. The pins or hooks falling down, the bowls were
    broken. They told this matter to the Blessed One. “You are not, O
    Bhikkhus, to hang your bowls up. Whosoever does so, shall be guilty
    of a dukkata” (offence). Now at that time the Bhikkhus put their
    bowls down on a bed, or a chair; and sitting down thoughtlessly they
    upset them, and the bowls were broken. They told this matter to the
    Blessed One. “You are not, O Bhikkhus, to put your bowls on a bed,
    or on a chair. Whosoever does so, shall be guilty of a dukkata”
    (offence). Now at that time the Bhikkhus kept their bowls on their
    laps; and rising up thoughtlessly they upset them, and the bowls
    were broken. They told this matter to the Blessed One. “You are not,
    O Bhikkhus, to keep your bowls on your laps. Whosoever does so,
    shall be guilty of a dukkata” (offence). Now at that time the
    Bhikkhus put their bowls down on a sunshade; and the sunshade being
    lifted up by a whirlwind, the bowls rolled over and were broken.
    They told this matter to the Blessed One. “You are not, O Bhikkhus,
    to put your bowls down on a sunshade. Whosoever does so, shall be
    guilty of a dukkata.” Now at that time the Bhikkhus, when they were
    holding the bowls in their hands, opened the door. The door
    springing back, the bowls were broken. They told this matter to the
    Blessed One. “You are not, O Bhikkhus, to open the door with your
    bowls in your hands. Whosoever does so, shall be guilty of a
    dukkata.” Now at that time the Bhikkhus did not use tooth-sticks,
    and their mouths got a bad odour. They told this matter to the
    Blessed One. “There are these five disadvantages, O Bhikkhus, in not
    using tooth-sticks—it is bad for the eyes—the mouth becomes
    bad-smelling—the passages by which the flavours of the food pass are
    not pure—bile and phlegm get into the food—and the food does not
    taste well to him who does not use them. These are the five
    disadvantages, O Bhikkhus, in not using tooth-sticks.” “There are
    five advantages, O Bhikkhus” (etc., the converse of the last). “I
    allow you, O Bhikkhus, tooth-sticks.” Now at that time the
    Ćhabbaggiya Bhikkhus used long tooth-sticks; and even struck the
    Sāmaṇeras with them. They told this matter to the Blessed One. “You
    are not, O Bhikkhus, to use too long tooth-sticks. Whosoever does
    so, shall be guilty of a dukkata. I allow you, O Bhikkhus,
    tooth-sticks up to eight finger-breadths in length. And Sāmaṇeras
    are not to be struck with them. Whosoever does so, shall be guilty
    of a dukkata.” Now at that time a certain Bhikkhu, when using too
    short a tooth-stick got it stuck in his throat. They told this
    matter to the Blessed One. “You are not, O Bhikkhus, to use too
    short a tooth-stick. Whosoever does so, shall be guilty of a
    dukkata. I allow you, O Bhikkhus, tooth-sticks four finger-breadths
    long at the least.”’

[281]Although this Lecture was written and in type before the
    publication of the Bishop of Colombo’s article in the July (1888)
    number of the ‘Nineteenth Century,’ I need not say that I wish here,
    as the Bishop has done, to draw attention to the collection of
    ‘moral horrors’ existing in some parts of the Pārājika books—the
    disgusting detail of every conceivable form of revolting vice,
    supposed to be perpetrated or perpetrable by monks.

[282]Dr. Kellogg, in his excellent work, ‘the Light of Asia and the
    Light of the World,’ well criticizes Professor Seydel’s
    Buddhist-Christian Harmony, as well as the Professor’s views on this
    point expressed in his work entitled ‘Das Evangelium von Jesu in
    Seinen Verhältnissen zu Buddha-Sage und Buddha-Lehre.’ Leipzig,

[283]It is true that in the Lalita-vistara Buddha is described in terms
    which appear to assimilate his character to the Christian conception
    of a Saviour; but how could any man, however good and great, have
    any claim to be called either a Saviour or Redeemer, who only
    revealed to his fellow-men such a method of getting rid of pain and
    suffering, through their own works and merits, as must lead them in
    the end to extinction of all personal existence? The very essence of
    Christ’s character as a Saviour is His divine power of transferring
    His own perfect merits to imperfect men, and leading them from death
    to eternal life, not to eternal extinction of life.

[284]In regard to the Buddhist doctrine of terrific purgatorial torments
    in some of the numerous Hells see p. 120 of this volume.

[285]See Dhamma-pada, 127.

[286]I have not followed the exact words in our authorized translation
    of St. Luke iv. 18, because they must be taken with Isaiah.

[287]Exodus iii. 14.

[288]St. Matthew xi. 5.

[289]Sacred Books of the East, xiii. 133.

[290]It is necessary to point out that these acts of self-sacrifice took
    place in former states of existence, for when a man becomes a Buddha
    he has no need to gain merit by self-sacrifice.

[291]See p. 130.

[292]A Buddhist writer in a Buddhist magazine, published in Ceylon, has
    lately taken me to task for asserting in a recent speech that
    Christianity denies the all-sufficiency of good works as an
    instrument of salvation. It is easy to quote passages, such as those
    in the epistle of St. James, in support of his one-sided view of
    this question, but I need scarcely say that the writer has much to
    learn as to the true character of our Bible, in which no text has
    full force without its context, and no part can be taken to
    establish a doctrine without a comparison with other parts, and
    without the balancing of apparent contradictions in both Old and New

                      _WORKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR._

  _Brāhmanism and Hindūism_, or Religious Thought and Life in India, as
  based on the Veda and other Sacred Books of the Hindūs. Third and
  cheaper Edition, with full index. John Murray, Albemarle Street. 1887.
  10_s._ 6_d._

  _Indian Wisdom_, or Examples of the Religious, Philosophical, and
  Ethical Doctrines of the Hindūs: with a brief history of the chief
  departments of Sanskṛit Literature, and some account of the past and
  present condition of India, Moral and Intellectual.

  _Modern India and the Indians_: A Series of Impressions, Notes, and
  Essays. Fourth Edition, with index. Trübner & Co., Ludgate Hill. 1888.

  _Hindūism._ Published by the Society for Promoting Christian

  _Sanskṛit-English Dictionary._ Published at the University Press,
  Oxford. Henry Frowde, 7 Paternoster Row. 1888.

  _English-Sanskṛit Dictionary._ At the India Office.

  _Practical Sanskṛit Grammar._ Fourth Edition. At the University Press,
  Oxford. Henry Frowde, 7 Paternoster Row. 1877.

  _Sanskṛit Manual with Exercises._ W. H. Allen & Co.

  _Ṡakuntalā._ A Sanskṛit Drama, in Seven Acts; the Text, with critical
  and explanatory notes and literal English translations. Second
  Edition. At the University Press, Oxford. Henry Frowde, 7 Paternoster
  Row. 1876. 8vo. cloth, 21_s._

  _Vikramorrasī._ A Sanskṛit Drama. The Text. Stephen Austin, Hertford.

  _A Free Translation in English Prose and Verse of the Sanskṛit Drama
  Ṡakoontalā_, with a portrait of the heroine and her two friends. Fifth
  Edition. John Murray, Albemarle Street. 1887. 7_s._ 6_d._ First
  Edition printed on fine paper, illuminated and illustrated by Stephen
  Austin, Hertford.

  _Story of Nala_: A Sanskṛit Poem, with full Vocabulary and an improved
  version of Dean Milman’s Translation. University Press, Oxford, and 7
  Paternoster Row.

  _Application of the Roman Alphabet to the Languages of India._

  _Practical Hindūstānī Grammar._ Longmans.

  _Bāgh o Bahār._ The Hindūstānī Text in the Roman character. Longmans.

                          Transcriber’s Notes

--Corrected palpable typos.

--Incorporated most author’s corrections into the text.

--Inserted author’s additions into additional footnotes tagged

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