4 VV. 185, 1142. W. 2, 795, 916.
5 W. 837,207. 13 v. 203.
6 w 273, 375. HW. 734, 735.
?v. 802. 15 v. 1110.
sv.787. WV. 1089.
170 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
forms, especially the " thirst for existence/' 1 for name
and form individual existence. 2
As long as a man is led by desire he will be whirled
about in existence, 3 but desire originates in the body,
and consequently the human body is looked upon as a
contemptible thing, one whole Sutta being devoted to
a revolting description of it. 4
Bliss is emancipation from the body and matter.
One must destroy the elements of existence that one
may not come to exist again. 5 The wise hold that
there is nothing really existing, 6 and those whose
minds are disgusted with a future existence, go out
like a lamp. 7 As a flame blown out by the wind
goes out and cannot be reckoned as existing, even so
a Muni, delivered from name and body, disappears
and cannot be reckoned as existing. 8
" Exert thyself, then, being wise and thoughtful in
this world, let one having listened to my utterance
learn his own extinction," 9
THE THIRD PITAKA.
The third Pitaka was called the Abhi-dhamma
(further dharma), or additional precepts relative to
law and philosophy. It is held by modern scholars to
be of a later origin and supplementary to the Suttas.
It is composed of seven small prose works treating of
various subjects. The first is an enumeration of the
conditions of existence; the second is devoted to "ex-
iv. 1067. 8 v . 1069.
2 vv. 354, 1099. ? vv. 234, 353, 354.
v 3 V . 740. 8 V . 1073.
* See the Vlgaya. 9 v. 1061.
ftvv. 1120, 1122.
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONTINUED. 171
planations ; " the third contains ' ' discussions on one
thousand controverted points ; " the fourth claims to
be an explanation of personality ; the fifth is an ac-
count of the elements ; the sixth treats of pairs, and
the seventh of causes.
THE MAHA-YANA, OR NORTHERN SCHOOL.
Besides these numerous works which constitute the
Tri-pitaka, or three collections of works of the South-
ern Buddhists, there are the Pali commentaries, which
were translated into Singhalese, according to tradition,
by Mahendra. Afterward the original Pali text was
lost, and some of the commentaries were retranslated
into Pali by Buddha-ghosha at the end of the fourth
and beginning of the fifth century of our era.
The Maha-yana, or "Great Vehicle," cannot be said
to possess any true canon distinct from the Tri-pitaka,
though some Nepalese Sanskrit works composed in
later times are held to be canonical by Northern Bud-
dhists. >* The formation of a Northern School, as
distinct from the Southern, followed the conversion of
Kanishka, the Indo-Scythian king of Kashmir, who
came from the North and became a zealous Buddhist.
He probably reigned in the second half of the first
century of the Christian era. It was during his reign
that a fourth Council was held, which consisted of five
hundred monks. These men composed three Sanskrit
works, which were commentaries on the three Pali
pitakas. These were the earliest books of the Maha-
yana, or Northern School, which afterward formulated
its doctrines on the banks of the Indus, while the
172 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
Pali canon of the South represented the true doctrine
promulgated on the Ganges.
Kashmir was a center of Sanskrit learning, and
Kanishka, who was its patron, sustained to Northern
Buddhism about the same relation which Asoka had
borne to the Southern element. Therefore, in time,
other books of Northern Buddhism were written in
Sanskrit, with occasional stanzas which were partly in
Sanskrit and partly in Prakrit. 1
This is one of the most important works of the
Northern School, and it is claimed that the author
was the contemporary and spiritual adviser of Ka-
nishka. It contains an account of the life of Buddha,
and is in many points quite in harmony with other
Buddhistic works on this subject. For instance, in
relation to the conception of Gautama, it is said of
him: "Assuming the form of a huge elephant, white
like Himalaya, armed with six tusks, with his face
perfumed with the flowing ichor, he entered the womb
of the queen of king Suddhodana, to destroy the evils
of the world." This work also describes the revolting
scene in the harem, which is given by many Bud-
dhistic authorities as a potent influence in deciding
Buddha to leave his home. There is no mention here
of any farewell look at his wife and child ; indeed,
his wife is not spoken of at all until the return of
the horse and groom, when she joins in the loud wail
of the other women, and complains that her husband
1 Williams, B., p. 68.
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONTINUED. 173
left her "helplessly asleep in the night," and even
accuses the horse of treachery and dishonorable con-
duct in bearing him away.
She also here bemoans his great personal beauty,
and her description of his person is in harmony with
other early accounts. She alludes to his feet in the
following language : " Those two feet of his, tender,
with their beautiful web spread between the toes
. . . how can they (bearing a wheel in the middle)
walk on the hard ground of the skirts of the forest?"
Here, as elsewhere, she also cites the fact that other
monarchs have led faithful religious lives without de-
serting their families, and expresses a wish to share
his penance and privations as others had allowed their
wives to do.
"He wishes to practice a religious life after aban-
doning me, his lawful wife, widowed. Where is his
religion, who wishes to follow penance, without his
lawful wife to share it with him? ... He surely
never heard of the monarchs of olden time, his own
ancestors . . . how they went with their wives
into the forest that he wishes to follow a religious
life without me. ... He does not see that hus-
band and wife are both consecrated in sacrifices
. . . and both destined to enjoy the same results
afterward he, therefore, grudges me a share in his
In this n .. J: of the latter part of the first century
of the Christian era the temptation of Mara is given,
though it is omitted in some earlier texts, and the
i Bk., viii, 62, 63.
174 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
description of the contest is much like the one which
has been given in the foregoing pages. 1
The Lalita Vistara is also a standard work of the
Northern School, but it has been previously considered
in connection with the life of Buddha. 2
THE SUTBAS OF JAPAN.
A majority of the inhabitants of Japan are Bud-
dhists, and about one-third of these belong to the
Shin-shiu sect. The books upon which they found
their faith are the two Sukhavati-vyuhas, the large
and the small, and the Amitayur-dhyana-sutra. They
are sometimes called the Large Sutra, the Small Sutra,
and the Sutra of Meditation. The same three books
also form the chief authority of the 6rodoshiu sect.
The followers of this sect claim that in the third
century an Indian student came to China and trans-
lated the larger of these, and still later 3 another
teacher came and translated the other two. The
Larger and Smaller Sutras differ with each other on
several points, but the most important variation is
found in the fact that the Smaller Sutra lays great
stress on the fact that people can be saved, or can be
born in the Land of Bliss, if only they remember and
repeat the name of Buddha Amitabha 4 two, three, four
or more nights before their death, and it distinctly
denies that people are born in the Paradise of Ami-
i See p. 56. 2 See p. 44.
3 In the year 400 A. D. Buddhism was introduced into Japan, by way of
Corea, in 552 A. D.
* Amitabha was represented by Buddha Gautama as one of the Buddhas
who preceded him. (See Larger Sukhavati-vyuha, Int. p. 10.)
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONTINUED. 175
tabha as a reward or necessary result of good works
performed in this present life. 1
"This/' says Prof. F. Max Miiller, "would seem
to take away one of the fundamental doctrines of Bud-
dhism, namely, the doctrine of karman, or of the
continuous working of our deeds, whether good or bad.
. . . The Larger Sutra also lays great stress on
prayer and faith in Amitabha, but it never neglects
'the stock of merit ' necessary for salvation. It would
almost seem as if this popular and easy doctrine had
secured to itself the name of Maha-yana, as meaning
'the broad way* in opposition to the Hina-yana." 2
THE AMITAYUR-DHYANA, OR SUTRA OF MEDITATION.
An outline of this work may be briefly given as
follows: "Vaidehi, seeing the wicked actions of her
son, began to feel weary of this world. Gautama then
taught her how to be born in the pure land, enumer-
ating three kinds of good actions. The first is worldly
goodness, which includes good actions in general, such
as filial piety, respect of elders, loyalty and faithful-
ness. The second is the goodness of morality, and all
those who do not oppose the general rule of reproving
wickedness and exhorting to the practice of virtue are
included in this goodness. The third is the goodness of
practice, which includes the four truths and the six per-
i Sanghavarman's translation of the 18, 20 and 21, is as follows : " When
I have attained Buddhahood, if those who are in the ten quarters believe in
me and wish to be born in my country, and should have thought of me ten
times (or repeated my name) , if they should not be born there, may I not
obtain perfect knowledge ; barring only those who have committed the five
deadly sins, and who have spoken evil of the good Law." Note by Bunyiu
a Larger Sukhavati-vyuha, Int. p. 9.
176 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
fections. Much of this Sutra is devoted to instructions
concerning the proper method of meditation. In rela-
tion to Buddha Amitayus the directions are as follows :
"Further, when this perception is gained, you
should next proceed to meditate on the bodily marks 1
and the light of Buddha Amitayus.
"Thou shouldst know, Ananda, that the body
of Buddha Amitayus is a hundred thousand million
times as bright as the color of the gold of the
heavenly abode of Yama. The height of that Buddha
is six hundred thousand niyutas of kotis 2 of yojanas,
innumerable as are the sands of the river Ganga.
"The white twist of hair between the eyebrows, all
turning to the right, is just like the five Sumeru
"The eyes of Buddha are like the water of the
four great oceans.
"All the roots of hair of his body issue forth brill-
iant rays which are also like the Sumera mountains.
"The halo of that Buddha is like a hundred mill-
ion of niyutas of kotis, innumerable as the sands of
the Ganga ; each of these Buddhas has for attendants
a great assembly of numberless Bodhisattas, who are
also miraculously created.
" Buddha Amitayus has eighty-four thousand signs
of perfection, each sign is possessed of eighty-four
minor marks of excellence, each mark has eighty -four
1A11 the Buddhas were possessed of these bodily marks of perfection.
See page 48.
2 The numbers in Buddhist literature, when they exceed a koti or ten
millions, become very vague, nor is their value always the same. Ayuta
represents a hundred kotis ; niyuta represents a hundred ayutas,, (See
Smaller Sukhavati-vyuha, p. 91.) A yojana, four or more miles.
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONTINUED. 177
thousand rays, each ray extends so far as to shine over
the worlds of the ten quarters, whereby Buddha em-
braces and protects all the beings who think upon him,
and does not exclude any." 1
THE VAGRAKKHEDIKA OR DIAMOND CUTTER.
This is a metaphysical treatise, and it is one of the
most highly valued works in Buddhist literature. The
name has sometimes been rendered "The Perfection
of Wisdom." The Tibetans value it very highly, and
many copies have been made.
"Translated literally into English," says F. Max
Miiller, "it must often strike the reader as sheer non-
sense and hollow repetition.
" Nor can anything be said in defense of the form
or style adopted in this treatise by the Buddhist phi-
losophers, who wished to convince their hearers of the
truth of their philosophy. This philosophy, or, at least,
its underlying doctrine, is not unknown to us. It is
simply a denial of the reality of the phenomenal
The doctrine of metaphysics, which is here taught,
has been presented in the foregoing pages, 3 and the
value placed upon these Gathas may be learned from
the following extract":
"Bhagavat said: 'What do you think, Subhuti,
if there were as many Ganga rivers as there are grains
of sand in the large river Ganga, would the grains of
sand be many ? '
"Subhuti said: 'Those Ganga rivers would, indeed,
i Amitayur-dhyana-sutra, Sec. 18. 3 See p. 184.
a Int. Vagrakkhedika, p. 14.
178 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
be many, much more, the grains of sand in those
"Bhagavat said: 'I tell you, Subhuti! I an-
nounce to you if a man or woman were to fill with
the seven treasures, as many worlds as there would be
grains of sand in those Ganga rivers, and present them
as a gift to the holy Tathagatas; what do you think,
Subhuti ! would that man or woman, on the
strength of this, produce a large stock of merit ? '
" Subhuti said : ' Yes, Bhagavat, that man or
that woman would, on the strength of this, produce
a large stock of merit, immeasurable and innumerable/
"Bhagavat said: 'And if, Subhuti, a woman
or man, having filled- so many worlds with the seven
treasures, should give them as a gift to the holy and
enlightened Tathagatas, and if another son or daugh-
ter of a good family, after taking from this treatise
of the Law one Gatha of four lines only, should fully
teach others and explain it, he, indeed, would, on the
strength of tnis, produce a larger stock of merit, im-
measurable and innumerable/" 1
DOCTRINAL TEACHING OF THE SUTRA.
The metaphysics which form the basis of the
teaching of this work may be better understood from
the following extract :
"0 Bhagavat, knowledge has been produced in me.
Never, indeed, Bhagavat, has such a teaching of
the Law been heard by me before. Those Bodhisattas
will be endowed with the highest wonder 2 who, when
1 Vagrakkhedika, XI.
2 Will possess miraculous powers and will be admired.
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONTINUED. 179
this Sutra is being preached, hear it, and will frame
to themselves a true idea. And why ? Because what
is a true idea, is 'not a true idea. . . . But,
Bhagavat, there will not arise in them any idea of a
self, any idea of a being, of a living being, or a
person, nor does there exist for them any idea or no
idea. And why ? Because the blessed Buddhas are
freed from all ideas/ . . .
" Subhuti, I remember the past five hundred
births when I was a preacher of endurance. At that
time also I had no idea of a self, of a being, of a
living being, of a person.
" Therefore, then, Subhuti, a noble-minded Bod-
hisatta, after putting aside all ideas, should raise his
mind to the highest perfect knowledge.
" He should frame his mind so as not to believe
in form, sound, smell, taste, or anything that can be
touched, in something, in nothing, or anything.
"And why? Because what is believed, is not be-
lieved. Therefore, the Tathagata preaches: 'A gift
should not be given by one who believes in form,
sound, smell, taste, or anything that can be
THE PRAGNA-PARAMITA (TRANSCENDENT WISDOM).
The Sutra, although very brief, is said to be really
the most popular and one of the most important of
all the sacred texts upon which Buddhism takes its
stand in Japan. This treatise of the Law is to be
seen everywhere on shrines, temples and monasteries,
180 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
although probably more admired than understood by
the masses of the people. The same eulogy is pro-
nounced upon its value as that previously given in
relation to the Diamond-cutter, and in nearly the same
language. Although it is spoken of in the singular
number, it is really composed of two Sutras, the
larger and the smaller.
As they both teach the same doctrine of meta-
physics, and the smaller merely repeats the ideas of
the other, the following extract from the larger will
give a very definite idea of both :
"If the son or daughter of a family wishes to per-
form the study of the deep Pra^na-paramita, he must
think thus : ' There are five Skandhas, 1 and these, he
considered by their nature, empty. Form is emptiness,
and emptiness, indeed, is form. . . . What is
form, that is emptiness ; what is emptiness, that is
form. . .
"Thus, O Sariputra, all things have the character
of emptiness . . . they are faultless, and not
faultless; they are not imperfect, and not perfect.
Therefore, here in emptiness there is no form, no
perception, no eye, ear, nose, body, mind. . . .
i Every being is composed of five constituent elements, called Skandhas,
and these are continually combining, dissolving and recombining. They
are: 1. Form (the organized body). 2. Sensation. 3. Perception. 4.
Aggregate of formations (a combination of properties, faculties or mental
tendencies, fifty-two in number). 5. Consciousness or thought. This is the
most important, and is the only soul recognized by Buddhists. It was this
view which enabled Buddha to teach transmigration while denying the ex-
istence of any spirit separate from the body, for although when a man dies
all these elements are dissolved, yet by the force resulting from his actions,
combined with the sin of " clinging to existence," a new set of five, of
which consciousness is still the dominant faculty, starts into being, and a
new creature is immediately created.
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONTINUED. 181
There is no knowledge, no obtaining, or not obtaining
of Nirvana. But when the envelopment of conscious-
ness has been annihilated, then he becomes free from
all fear, beyond the reach of change, enjoying the final
THE TANTRA LITERATURE.
"The Tantra literature has also had its growth
and development, and some unhappy scholar of a
future age may have to trace its loathsome history.
. . . The nauseous taste repelled even the self-
sacrificing industry of Burnouf when he found the
later Tantra books to be as immoral as they were
absurd. 'The pen/ he says, ' refuses to transcribe
doctrines as miserable in respect to form as they are
odious and degrading in respect to meaning/ " 2
[^- STRIKING CONTRASTS.
There is probably no other collection .of sacred
books in the world which presents such peculiar and
forcible contrasts as do those of Buddhism. Scholars
have repeatedly noted "the feeble utterances, the
tedious diffuseness, and, I might almost say, the f inane
twaddle' and childish repetitions of the greater por-
tion of the Tri-pitaka," 3 while, on the other hand,
the Dhamma-pada and portions of some other books
contain gems of thought and beauty of expression
which will compare favorably with the literary stand-
i Larger Pragna-paramita.
a Rhys Davids, B., p. 208. Burnouf, Int. p. 588. The secret Tantric doc-
trines are found in the seventh division of the enumeration of the nine
Nepalese canonical scriptures.
3 See Williams, B., p. 558; also Max Miiller (Int. Vagrakkhedika, p. 14),
and many others.
182 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
ards of any people. The contrast is forcible, not only
in relation to the style of the books in question, but
there is also a pure literature and that which is
notably impure. 1 We find in some of the books of
Buddhism an exalted morality, and admonitions to
purity of thought, word and deed. These works also
inculcate the duties of charity, self-sacrifice and be-
It is entirely natural for the author as well as the
reader to seek for these gems alone and display them
freely to others. But a wrong impression is usually
conveyed by presenting only one side of a question,
and careful writers must avoid this mistake, which too
many have made, unconsciously, perhaps, to themselves.
Therefore, some brave historian of the future must
wade through the revolting horrors of the Parajika
books, and give also an exposition of the odious doc-
trines which Burnouf and others could not bring them-
selves to transcribe. These things, however, should
always be kept strictly within the pale of critical
scholarship, for the world has no need of them. The
problem which requires explanation is the existence of
, ,^ch doctrines in a sacred literature.
Why should the same canon contain works which
differ so greatly in literary style and in teaching, as
do the texts of the Tri-pitaka and the Dhamma-pada,
with its classic beauty and pure morality ?
Why should the Tantra literature and the unmen-
tionable ceremonies of Siva worship find a place in
the same system of philosophy with "the noble eight-
i See p. 149.
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONCLUDED.
BUDDHA'S INDEBTEDNESS TO BRAHMANISM THE
DHAMMA-PADA SIMILARITIES TO OLD TESTAMENT
TEACHINGS POSSIBLE SOURCES OF INFORMATION
rpHE striking contrasts which Buddhism presents
-*- both in morals and literature are worthy of
more than a passing notice, and the faithful student
must inquire whence they came.
Prof. F. Max Miiller has repeatedly pointed out the
fact that the Buddhists are indebted to the Brahmans
for almost all of their philosophical speculations, 1 and
it should also be noted that, even in the choice of a
name derived from the Sanskrit root budh, the Bud-
dha adopted the phraseology of the Sankhya phi-
losophy and of the Brahmans. The Sankhya system
made Buddhi (intellect) its great principle, and the
Satapatha-brahmana called a man who had attained to
perfect knowledge of Self, prati-buddha. 2
Again, the doctrines which grew out of his own
special knowledge, Gautama called Dharma 3 (law),
iProf. F. Max Muller, Int Amitayur-dhyana-sutra, p. 22. Sa. Bks. E.,
a XIV, 7, 2, 17. This was first pointed out by Prof. A. Weber.
3 Dharma or Dhamma.
184 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
using the same term which was employed by the
Buddha's "way of knowledge/' though it developed
into many paths, was primarily a knowledge of the
truth that all life was merely one link in a series of
successive existences and inseparably bound up with
misery, and this extreme pessimism, which was the
fundamental doctrine of Buddhism, was taught by the
Brahmans five centuries before Christ, and it con-
tinued to be a thoroughly Hindu doctrine long after
the disappearance of Buddhism from India.
Indeed, all Indian philosophy was a scheme for
getting rid of the ceaseless round of existence, which
was taught in the doctrine of metempsychosis, and
annihilation was looked upon as a welcome deliver-
In India the Upanishads, and the systems of phi-
losophy which followed them, were all attuned to this
same minor key, the real object of the authors being
the discovery of a plan for removing the misery which
they believed to result from repeated bodily existence,
and from all action, good or bad, in the present, pre-
vious, and future births.
Gautama's adherence to these ideas is repeatedly
shown in his teaching. He had a way, however, of
clothing old ideas in a new dress, which proved very
attractive to his followers, and he rejected, too, some
of the radical ideas of the Upanishads, although his
sympathy with much of their teaching was very strong.
The term Nirvana, for instance, was not original
with Gautama ; it was an expression which was com-
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONCLUDED. 185
mon to both Brahmanism and Buddhism, and most of
its synonyms are still common to both ; nevertheless, he
gave a different shade to the meaning of the word,
for he could not advocate that it meant "the ex-
tinction in the Supreme Being" 1 of those who
attained Nirvana, while he refused to admit the exist-
ence of such a Being.
This work, which is the most valuable of all the
Buddhistic writings, also contains within itself -some
striking contrasts and inculcates ideas which are ap-
parently derived from very different sources.
" By earnestness did Indra rise to the lordship of
the gods." 2 This verse, and all others which contain
allusions to this deity, must be of Brahmanic origin,
for Indra was the Jove of early Indian mythology.
He is represented as being the king of the celestial
beings who occupy his paradise, although after one
hundred years of the gods, another, and possibly a
man, may by great sacrifices usurp his position.
"Without ceasing, I shall run through the course
of many births." 3 This sentiment is also in accord-