ITS ORWIN AND TEACHINGS
KLI/AHKTIl A. REED, A. M.
[EMBER <>K THE I'HILOSOPHK \i. >.CIETY op URKAT HRITAIN, MEMBER OF
THE INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ov ORIENTALISTS, AUTHOR OF
HINDI" LITERATURE, " " PERSIAN LITERATURE,"
"(Til I C A (JO
SCOTT, F()IM-:SMA\ A (()
Lt. Col. George White
ITS ORIGIN AND TEACHINGS.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
A BLESSING TO INDIA A BENEFIT TO WOMAN
CRITICAL STUDY OF BUDDHISM NUMBER
OF ADHERENTS ,'. . . . . - 13
TWENTY-FOUR PREDECESSORS OF GAUTAMA
DIPANKARA KONDA$NA MANGALA
8UMANA REVATA SOBHITA THREE BUD-
DHAS PADMUTTARA SUMEDHA SUJATA
VIPASSIN SPHERE OF MANIFESTATIONS
HIGHEST ACHIEVEMENT . . , 31
4 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
BUDDHISTIC ACCOUNT OP GAUTAMA BUDDHA.
THB LALITA VI8TARA THE JATAKA BIRTH
OP GAUTAMA PHYSICAL SIGNS OF A BUD-
DHA HIS MANHOOD THE FOUR VISIONS
GREAT RENUNCIATION THE ESCAPE
GREAT TEMPTATION ATTAINMENT OF BUD-
DHAHOOD FIRST CONVERTS RETURN
HOME FIRST MONASTERY
HISTORIC SKETCH OF BUDDHA.
THE THEORY OF A MYTH BIRTH AND EARLY
LIFE ASCETICISM ENLIGHTENMENT DIS-
COURSE AT BENARES SERMON ON THE
NON-EXISTENCE OF THE SOUL THE FIRE
SERMON RELIEF FROM TRANSMIGRATION
THE FATAL MEAL THE DEATH OF BUDDHA
TEACHINGS OF BUDDHISM.
TRANSMIGRATION FORMER BIRTHS OF BUD-
DHA THE JATAKAS THE ORTHODOX BELIEF
VARIOUS FORMS ASSUMED THE MONKEYS
AND THE DEMON THE WILY ANTELOPE -
THE BULL WHO WON THE BET THE FISH
AND HIS WIFE THE WISE JUDGE
TABLE OF CONTENTS. 5
THE TEACHINGS OF BUDDHISM, CONCLUDED.
METAPHYSICS THE SOUL ATHEISM - POLY-
THEISM IDOLATRY PRAYER PESSIMISM
HEAVEN HELL SALVATION MORALITY
NIRVANA PARI-NIRVANA . .~ . , . 104
THE BUDDHIST ORDER OF MONKS.
ORDINATION OF THE BHIKKHUS, OR MONKS
RULES FOR THEIR DIRECTION UNSANI-
TARY LAWS UNSANITARY CLOTHING PRO-
TECTION FROM VENOMOUS SERPENTS THE
SERPENT WHO JOINED THE ORDER NUNS
BUDDHA'S PROPHECY RESULTS OF MONK-
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE.
LITERARY ACTIVITY IN THE EAST THE ART
OF WRITING EXTENT OF THE BUDDHIST
SCRIPTURES THE DATE OF THE CANON
THE TRI-PITAKA THE VINAYA TEXTS CARE
OF THE BOWLS TOOTH STICKS THE WON-
DERS OF BUDDHA GREAT EFFICACY OF
RECITATION INTEGRITY OF THE TEXT 150
6 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONTINUED.
THE SECOND PITAKA THE MAHA-PARINIB-
BANA THE PROXIMATE CAUSES OF EARTH-
QUAKES THE DHAMMA-PADA PUNISHMENT
THE 8UTTA-NIPATA THE THIRD PITAKA
THE MAHA-YANA, OR NORTHERN SCHOOL
THE BUDDHA-KARITA-KAVVA THE SUTRAS
OP JAPAN THE AMITAYUR-DHYANA THE
VAGRAK-KHEDIKA THE DOCTRINAL TEACH-
ING OF THE SUTRA THE PRAGMA -PAR AMITA
THE TlNTRA LITERATURE STRIKING
CONTRASTS . . . ... 163
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONCLUDED.
BUDDHA'S INDEBTEDNESS TO BRAHMANISM
THE DHAMMA-PADA SIMILARITIES TO
OLD TESTAMENT TEACHINGS POSSIBLE
SOURCES OF INFORMATION SUMMARY . 183
PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM IN INDIA ORIGIN OF
THE SYSTEM ATHEISM TRANSMIGRATION
KARMA PESSIMISM METAPHYSICS THE
ACCUMULATION OF MERIT NIRVANA LIT-
ERATURE THE ORIGINALITY OF BUDDHA
CAUSES OF EXTENSIVE INFLUENCE 198
philosophies of the East have often been pre-
sented to the western world during the last few
years, and much interest has been awakened, especially
in the subject of Buddhism. Although the number of
its adherents has been greatly overestimated, still this
system controls, to a greater or less extent, the
thought of millions of our fellow-beings, and it is
entitled to a fair and impartial examination. There
are comparatively few people, however, in this busy
age, who have time to make an exhaustive research on
the subject, and it is thought, therefore, that a com-
prehensive handbook, which has been carefully
prepared, will be welcome to many, who will be glad
to learn, quickly and easily, what this philosophy
It is not the object of the present work to follow
the system in the various changes through which it
has passed, or to discuss the protean forms which it
has assumed in modern times, but to present, in as
brief a manner as is consistent with accuracy, the
8 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
authoritative teachings of primitive and genuine Bud
It would appear that such works are greatly needed
from the fact that theories have been advocated
as the doctrines of Buddhism of which its founder
never heard, and statements have been made upon the
modern platform which could astonish no one so much
as Gautama and his early followers. When speculation
is rife upon any subject, the truth can only be ob-
tained by an appeal "to the law and the testimony."
Every system has a right to demand that it be judged
by its own official documents, and, therefore, the utmost
care has been taken to present, in condensed form, the
doctrines of the early Buddhists, as set forth in their
own standard works.
Quotations have not only been accurately made, but
the references are given, so that they may be easily
verified, as the books belonging to the Buddhistic canon
are now available to the English-speaking world, and
they may be found in many of our libraries. Among
the best in this respect is the Chicago Public Library,
where a wealth of Oriental lore is ever at the service
of the student.
The selections in the present volume have been
made from the official documents of the early Bud-
dhists, as found in the Sacred Books of the East and
elsewhere. These are authorities which no scholar will
question, and it will be found that the integrity of
the text has been sufficiently maintained.
Besides the books belonging to the canon, the
author is indebted to the works and, in some cases, to
the private correspondence, also, of the most accom-
plished Orientalists in the world of scholars. It is a
pleasure to acknowledge one's indebtedness to such
men as Prof. James Legge, Sir Monier Monier- Will-
iams, K. C. I. E., Prof. F. Max Miiller, Rhys Davids,
Oldenberg, Prof. A. H. Sayce, Burnouf, Barthelemy
Saint Hilaire and others, the credits being given
where the quotations are made.
Especial thanks are also due to the distinguished
savants who have carefully examined portions of the
manuscript, and given it the benefit of their invaluable
criticism. The principal points in the tenth chapter
were presented by the author, in a paper recently read
before the Victoria Institute, or Philosophical Society
of Great Britain, and before it was accepted there, it
was submitted, by the officers of the Institute, to the
leading scholars of the world in this particular field of
Hence, it is offered to the public only after it has
been honored, by critical examination and thoughtful
discussion, by eminent Orientalists.
Cordial thanks are due the American press for gen-
erous notices of the author's previous works, in many
10 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
instances columns having been devoted to able and
discriminating reviews. It is a pleasure, also, to ac-
knowledge the courtesies of the European press, as
shown in some of their most influential journals, and
the cordial encouragement of distinguished Oriental
scholars, whose congratulations and words of approval
have been especially grateful.
Technical terms and proper names have been
avoided as far as possible, but a few are necessarily
used, and diacritical points are given as a guide to
The work has been prepared in the hope that it
may be of real service to careful students in this field
of thought, and it is commended to their attention by
A LITTLE attention to the diacritical points will
enable the reader to pronounce correctly the
musical names of the Buddhists and Hindus.
In the present volume Sir Monier Monier- Williams'
method of transliteration, as presented in his Sanskrit
Grammar, has been chiefly used. The nasal m, how-
ever, is indicated here, as in the works of Prof. F.
Max Miiller, by the italic letter.
Diacritical points are omitted from the foot notes,
the system of pronunciation being sufficiently indicated
in the body of the work.
A a is pronounced as in rural.
A a " " tar, father, etc.
I i " fill.
I I " " police.
U u " " full.
Ri n " " merrily.
Rj p << marine
E e " " prey.
Ai ai " " aisle.
Au an " " Haws (German).
N n sounded like n in the French mow.
N n " as in none (nun).
N n like ng in siny (sin).
5T fl like n in singe.
m (italic) has a nasal sound.
h is a visarga, or a distinctly audible sound aspi-
K k sounded like ch in church.
Kh kh pronounced as in inMorn.
Gh gh " "
dolce (in music), English
ch as in church.
sir or miss.
TJ in Buddha is pronounced like oo in food.
ITS ORIGIN AND TEACHINGS.
A BLESSING TO INDIA A BENEFIT TO WOMAN
CRITICAL STUDY OF BUDDHISM NUMBER OF ADHER-
A BOUT the fifth century before our era, there was
-*-^- formulated in India a system of philosophy known
as Buddhism. It was the patron of good works, and
opposed the priestly tyranny of the Brahmans. It
taught self-denial without self-torture, and inculcated
charity, tolerance and humanity. It forbade avarice
and discouraged the accumulation of wealth, while it
promoted, to a certain extent, both physical and moral
In its primitive form, it was merely a system of
philosophy founded upon a pessimistic view of life, but
it soon acquired the character of a religion. Still, it
made no war upon existing faiths; its advocates
claimed that a man could consistently be a Brahman,
14 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
a Taoist, or anything else, and at the same time a
Buddhist therefore it made wonderful progress in the
Although largely evolved from Brahmanism, it
almost entirely supplanted the older faith upon its
native soil, and eventually included in its conquests
nearly the whole of Eastern Asia. It was introduced
into China in the first century of our era, and soon
became one of the three state religions of the empire,
although it did not find a home in Japan until hun-
dreds of years later.
It was the ruling intellectual power in India from
the time it supplanted Brahmanism until the fourth
or fifth century, when it began to lose its position,
although it maintained itself, to a greater or less
extent, until the twelfth or thirteenth century. At
this time it had become so largely absorbed in the
worship of Vishnu and iva that it lost its individ-
uality, and was soon merged into the composite forms
Surely a system which has for centuries held an
important position in history, and which still controls
the thought of millions of our race, is entitled to a
fair and impartial consideration. An examination,
however, of the multitudinous forms of modern
Buddhism would occupy several volumes, for it has
assumed different phases in every country which it has
approached, always assimilating the leading thought of
the people whom it sought to proselyte.
It is the province, therefore, of the present work to
investigate the system in its primitive and purest
PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM. 15
form, endeavoring to ascertain what theories and prin-
ciples were taught by Gautama Buddha and his early
followers, and alluding to modern developments only
so far as they appear to be the result of such teaching.
In Japan, finding itself unable to displace the
earlier systems, it embraced Shintoism, while in Cey-
lon, Burmah and Siam, it was grafted upon serpent
worship, Naga 1 worship and demon worship, with all
of which, as well as the adoration of certain Hindu
gods, it is still connected.
In Tibet it was amalgamated with Shamanism, 2 and
although combined with magic, and oiferings to Siva,
it has an organization similar to the Church of Rome,
the Grand Lama being the Pope. They have the
celibacy of the priesthood, the worship of the saints,
confessions, fasting, processions and holy water. They
have, too, the cross and miter, the service with double
choirs, the exorcisms, and the censer for incense. It
is probable that some of these ideas were derived from
Catholicism in later times, but it is true that the prac-
tice of celibacy, confession, and fasting existed in
Buddhism before the birth of the Roman Church.
Primitive Buddhism was at first opposed to eccle-
siastical organization, having no God, no priests and
no church. It was simply a brotherhood, consisting
of men who had renounced all family ties, and even
i The Nagas properly belong to a class of serpent demons, having
human faces, with serpent-like lower extremities, and they live in one of
the lower regions of the earth.
2 The principal elements in Shamanism are the worship of nature
and the dread of spirits. It has much in common with the lowest types
of Saivism, Saktism and Tantrism. Williams,
16 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
all desire for life, men who had pledged themselves
to devote their time to the recitation of the law, self-
restraint and the accumulation of merit, for the sake
of their own deliverance. Being opposed to all sacer-
dotalism and ceremonial observances, it abolished, as
far as possible, the sacrificial system of the Brahmans,
and rejected the terrible methods of self-torture, main-
taining that a life of purity and morality was better
than all the forms and ceremonies of the Vedic ritual.
The first idea implied by Buddhism is intellectual
enlightenment, but this must be acquired by man
through his own inner consciousness, unaided by
external influences. It advocated self-conquest, self-
concentration and separation from the world for the
attainment of true knowledge, and yet it encouraged
association, by establishing a brotherhood of celibate
monks. It taught the doctrines of republicanism by
admitting to this brotherhood every caste and rank,
the humblest Sudra being as welcome there as the
most aristocratic Brahman. The rich and the poor,
the learned and the ignorant, were all bound together
by the desire of self-conquest and the common wish
to be guided by the doctrines which were promulgated
The new sect remained for a long time obscure,
but its success was greatly hastened and, perhaps,
largely accomplished by political events. Chandra-
gupta, who was a low-born Sudra, usurped the throne
of Magada, after killing king Wanda. He founded the
Maurya dynasty, and extended the kingdom of Magada
all over Hindustan, soon becoming so powerful that
PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM. 17
the successor of Alexander thought it politic to form
an alliance with the Hindu king, and sent an ambas-
sador to reside at his court.
After the death of the king's son, Asoka, who was
the grandson of Chandra-gupta, succeeded to the
throne, 1 and became one of the most powerful mon-
archs of India. This dynasty held its position in
defiance of the Brahmanic priesthood, the kings
themselves having been born of the lowest caste ; it
was, therefore, natural that Asoka should ally himself
with a system which proclaimed equality between the
Sudra and the Brahman, so far as the brotherhood
was concerned, and he made Buddhism the state
religion of India.
But there had been serious dissensions in the ranks,
even during the time of Buddha, and before long,
eighteen schismatic schools of thought were estab-
lished. Two councils had been held, in order, if
possible, to bring order out of chaos, but the resulting
controversies were of the most discouraging character,
and another became necessary. The third council was,
therefore, held at Patna during the sixteenth or sev-
enteenth year of Asoka's reign.
The whole canon is supposed to have been trans-
mitted orally from one generation to another, even
at this time, as the Buddhists do not claim that it
was committed to writing earlier than the first century
before Christ. 2
After the third council, missionaries were supported
by king As"oka, and sent in all directions, one of the
i About 260 B. C. 2 About 85 B. C.
18 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
first being the king's own son, who carried the doc-
trine into Ceylon. Afterward the system spread over
the whole of India and some adjoining countries,
while it eventually became the ruling creed of Eastern
BUDDHISM A BLESSING TO INDIA.
At the time of the rise of the new philosophy,
India was burdened to the utmost with a system of
caste which recognized neither justice nor mercy.
Under this iron law the people were divided into four
classes, the first or highest being the Brahmans, or
the priesthood, of whom it was declared that they
were "twice born," and even the kings were subject
to them. The second was the Kshatriya, or military
caste, which included also the kings and the royal
families. The third was the Vaisya, which was com-
posed of the agricultural class, and the fourth was
made up of the Sudras or slaves.
The Brahmans were numerous and powerful, and
they instituted a complicated ceremonial which em-
braced every public and private act. No marriage
could be solemnized without them ; no dead could be
disposed of, no sick could be properly attended, no
household set up, without their ministrations. Every
prayer must be prescribed, and every sacrifice deter-
mined, for only the Brahmans knew which deity
should be invoked at each particular time, or what
offering would please him. Any mistake in reference
to the clarified butter, or the length of the ladle used,
brought down upon the head of the offender not only
PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM. 19
the wrath of the priest, but also the fury of the gods.
It was impossible to avoid evil without the interven-
tion of the priests, for no one else knew what food
could be safely eaten, or what dress might be properly
worn, and their services must be amply rewarded.
Indeed, Brahmanism was a system of organized rob-
bery, and the priests made life intolerable for any
one who happened to offend them by the smallest
Not only did this complicated ceremonial embrace
every moment of a man's life from the cradle to the
grave, but it encouraged the most painful austerities.
"Some devotees seated themselves in one spot, and
kept perpetual silence, with their legs bent under them,
for years. Some ate only at intervals of four, six or
fourteen days. Some slept on ashes, gravel, stones,
thorny grass or spikes, with the face downward. Some
gazed at the sun until totally blind, or sat surrounded
by five fires, or rested on one foot, or kept one arm
perpetually uplifted, or baked themselves on hot stones,
or submerged their bodies in water, or suspended
themselves in air." 1
The object of these self-tortures was a union with
the Supreme Being, and this could only be attained
by bodily mortification and abstract meditation. As
Buddha did not believe in a Supreme Being, he could
not advocate these barbarous methods of approaching
him. In later times, however, the development of
Buddhistic ideas resulted in a connection with this
very system, and many Buddhists now hold, with the
iSir Monier Monier- Williams, "Buddhism," p. 228.
20 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
Yoga of the Brahmans, that adepts skilled in occult
science may, by a determined effort of will, force out
the ethereal body through the pores of the skin, and
make this phantasmal form visible in distant places.
Primitive Buddhism taught self-restraint, and
preached purity in thought, word and action ; it en-
couraged literature and art, it advocated the principles
of fraternity. It elevated the morality of the people
by teaching respect for the lives of others, even
though its summum bonum was the extinction of all
life. It was a blessing to India, because it opposed
the penitential austerities and self-inflicted sufferings
which obtained under the influence of the Brahmans,
and instead of the severe penances and excommunica-
tions which were inflicted by the priests for trifling
offenses, Buddha at first required only public confes-
sion and a promise to abstain from wrong-doing in
It was an advance toward social liberty, as it advo-
cated the republican doctrine of equality in the Broth-
erhood, 1 and proclaimed that " the highest path " was
open to the members of all castes.
It was a blessing to India, in that it opposed the
ecclesiastical tyranny of a well paid priesthood, but it
must be confessed that the charitable gifts which had
been monopolized by the Brahmans did not contribute
to the comfort of the oppressed people ; they merely
i Although the secret of Buddha's success lay in his disregard of the
privileges of the priestly class, still he did not wish to abolish caste as a
social institution, and there is no trace of social or democratic communism
in any of his sermons. His only attacks were leveled against the exclusive
privileges claimed by the Brahmans, and against their cruel treatment of
the lower castes. Max Muller, Chips, Vol. II, p. 337.
PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM. 21
began to flow into new channels, supporting hundreds
of thousands of Buddhist mendicants. And even to-day,
births and marriages, illness and death, are great sources
of revenue to the Buddhistic priesthood.
It was a blessing, in so far as it advocated the prin-
ciples of kindness, and it did good service for the time
in promoting literature and art, and inculcating the
doctrine of the accumulation of merit by good actions.
It was a great improvement upon Brahmanism, even
though its final hope was the abolition of suffering by
the abolition of existence.
A BENEFIT TO WOMAN.
Although Buddhism made war upon the home by
enjoining monkhood, it commanded men who were
already married to abandon their wives and chil-
dren, to lay aside all efforts to make a livelihood in a
legitimate way, and take up their abode with the monks
who begged their bread from door to door although it
declared that "the life of woman is always darkness," 1
still it was a benefit to woman, in that it allowed her to
become a nun, under the same rules which obtained in
communities of men, and thus attain to a semblance of
equality. The system also admitted " lay brothers and
lay sisters," married householders and working men,
for Buddha saw that this course was necessary. If all
Buddhists were monks and nuns, there would be no work
done, and no food produced, hence the communities
must be depopulated by starvation. Nevertheless these
i Buddha-karita, 1, 17. This work is assigned to the first century.
22 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
married householders could not attain to "the highest
Buddhists do not require the imprisonment of wives
and daughters in the Zenanas, as do the Mohammedans
and Brahmans ; on the contrary the women of the family
are sometimes introduced to European guests, and
allowed to converse freely. The child marriages, which
constitute one of the most terrible curses of India, are
not enforced in Buddhist countries, for there the bride-
groom is seldom less than eighteen years of age.
" "Women," says Renan, " were indebted to Buddhism
for a momentary amelioration of their fate. The new
religion gave them religious importance. They were
permitted to embrace monastic life, and to practice the
same rule as men. No doubt they preserved a notable
inferiority ; they could not directly arrive at the state of
Buddha, but they were enabled to reach that state by
being born again as men. The female sex continued to
be a punishment. In the state of perfection there will
be no women.
" The miracle of a change of sex is quite frequent in
the Buddhist legends. The accomplished woman be-
comes a man. That is what happened to Sugata's
daughter, who achieved perfection. Transformed into
a man, she seated herself beneath the tree of intelligence
and entered into supreme rest." 1
Great respect has always been paid by Buddhists to
the various forms of animal life ; so strong was this
sentiment that people could "accumulate merit" by
purchasing birds (which professional bird catchers
i Kenan, " Studies in Religious History," p. 107.
PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM. 23
entrapped for that purpose), and giving them liberty.
All animals are more or less venerated, for, according to
the theory of transmigration, they are liable to be the
different forms of one's ancestors ; and not only this,