ance with the doctrine of transmigration, which was
taught in both Egypt and India long before Gau-
Again, we find the following statement : " The
man who wears dirty garments, who is emaciated, who
lives alone in the forest and meditates, him I call,
iThis doctrine was taught in the Upanishads, and later in the Bhagavad-
gita (v. 24).
a Dhamma-pada, v. 30. 3 Dhamma, v. 395.
186 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
indeed, a Brahmana." Here is an endorsement of the
asceticism which was practiced under the dominion of
Brahmanism, and also by Buddha and some of his
But while these and many others are evidently of
purely Hindu origin, there are others which are very
SIMILARITIES TO OLD TESTAMENT TEACHINGS.
Many of the most valuable of these precepts will
be found to be almost identical in sentiment with
proverbs which Solomon uttered about five hundred
years before the birth of Buddha. From a multitude
of forcible illustrations of this statement we select a
"For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time;
hatred ceases by love ; this is an old rule. " l
The "old rule," however, had been more tersely
expressed in Proverbs, where it is said that "Hatred
stirreth up strifes, but love covereth all sins." 2
Again, in the Dhamma-pada it is said : " The
evil doer suffers in this world, and he suffers in the
next. He suffers when he thinks of the evil he has
done, he suffers more when going on the evil path." 3
This sentiment had been more eloquently expressed
by the prophet Isaiah in the words : " The wicked are
like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose
waters cast up mire and dirt. There is uo peace,
saith my God, to the wicked." 4
In the Dhamma-pada it is said : " Thoughtlessness
1 Dhamma. v. 5. 3 Dhamma, v. 17.
2 Proverbs, x, 12. * Isaiah, Ivii, 20-21.
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONCLUDED. 187
is the path of death. Those who reflect do not die
those who are thoughtless are dead already." 1
This idea had been expressed in Proverbs as fol-
lows : "In the way of righteousness is life, and in the
pathway thereof there is no death." 2
Again, in the Buddhist work it is said : " If an
earnest person has aroused himself, if he is not for-
getful, if his deeds are pure, if he acts with consid-
eration . . . then his glory shall increase." 3
The Psalmist, however, had written : "He that
walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and
speaketh the truth in his heart ... he that
doeth these things shall never be moved." 4
The Dhamma-pada says : "Fools follow after vanity,
the wise man keeps earnestness as his best jewel." 5
Solomon had previously written : " The crown of
the wise is their riches, but the foolishness of fools is
their folly." 6
In the Dhamma-pada we find the admonition :
"Follow not after vanity, nor after the enjoyment of
love and lust." 7
The Psalmist had previously enquired : " How long
will ye love vanity and seek after leasing ? " 8
In the sayings of Buddha we find the following :
"If a traveler does not meet with one who is his
equal, let him keep to his solitary journey ; there is no
companionship with a fool." 9
Solomon had, however, expressed the sentiment more
1 Dhamma, v. 21. 6 Proverbs, xiv, 24.
2 Prov., xii, 28. 7 Dhamma, v. 27.
3 Dhamma, v. 34. 8 Psalms, iv, 2.
4 Psalms, xv, 2, 5. Dhamma, v. 61.
< Dhamma, v. 26.
188 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
forcibly when he said : " Let a bear robbed of her
whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly." 1
Buddha said : " A fool who knoweth his foolishness
is wise, at least so far." 2 .
In Proverbs it had been said : " Even a fool, when
he holdeth his peace, is counted wise." 3
In the Dhamma-pada we find the wise admonition :
"Do not have evil doers for friends, do not have low
people, have virtuous people for friends." 4
The Psalmist had previously written: "Blessed is
the man that walketh not in the counsel of the un-
godly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in
in the seat of the scornful." 5 And Solomon had de-
clared : "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise,
but the companion of fools shall be destroyed." 6
Again, it is stated in the Dhamma-pada : "If one
man conquers in battle a thousand times a thousand
men, and if another conquer himself, he is the greatest
of conquerers." 7
This verse appears to be almost a repetition of the
statement that "He that ruleth his spirit is greater
than he that taketh a city." 8
The saying of Buddha : " The wicked man burns
by his own deeds, as if burnt by fire," 9 reminds one
forcibly of the question in Proverbs concerning sin :
"Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes
not be burned ? Can one go upon hot coals and his
feet not be burned ?" 10
1 Proverbs, xvii, 12. Proverbs, xiii, 20.
2 Dhamma, v. 63. 7 Dhamma, v. 103.
3 Proverbs, xvii, 28. 8 Proverbs, xvi, 32.
* Dhamma, v. 78. 9 Dhamma. v. 36.
5 Psalms, i, 1. loProv., vi, 27-28.
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONCLUDED. 189
In the Dhamma-pada it is said : "He who always
greets and reveres the aged, four things increase unto
him, life, beauty, happiness and power." 1 This is a
strange sentiment to find in a system which taught
that all life was misery, that beauty and happiness
were to be shunned and power ignored. But centuries
before Buddha, Moses had written: "Thou shalt rise
up before the hoary head and honor the face of the
old man." 2
In the Dhamma-pada it is said: "Do not kill, nor
cause slaughter;" 3 but it had long before been written
upon tables of stone: "Thou shalt not kill." 4
In the precepts of Buddha we find the wise ad-
monition : "Do not speak harshly to anybody. Those
who are spoken to harshly will answer thee in the
same way." 5 This sentiment had been more briefly
stated in these words: "A soft answer turneth away
wrath, but grievous words stir up anger." 6
In the Dhamma-pada it is said : "He who dwells
in the law, delights in the law, meditates in the law,
follows the law, will never fall away from the true
law." 7 This is almost a repetition of the words of
the Psalmist: "His delight is in the law of the
Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and
In the precepts of Buddha it is said : " If a man
hold himself dear, let him watch himself carefully." 9
This appears to be an echo of the admonition to
1 Dhamma, v. 109. 6 Prov., xv, 1.
2 Lev., xix, 32. 1 Dhamma, v. 364.
3 Dhamma, v. 129. 8 Psalms, i, 2.
* Exodus, xx, 13. 9 Dhamma, v. 157.
5 Dhamma, v. 133.
190 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
"Take heed to thyself and keep thy soul diligently." 1
and many similar passages.
In the Dhamma-pada it is said : " The fault of
others is easily perceived, but that of one's self is diffi-
cult to perceive." 2
This is the same sentiment found in Proverbs :
"Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
his neighbor findeth no favor in his eyes." 3
Again, in the Dhamma-pada it is said : " All men
tremble at punishment ; all men love life ; remember
that thou art like unto them, and do not kill, nor
cause slaughter." 4
Not only is this injunction' preceded by the com-
mandment that " Thou shalt not kill," but the whole
sentiment had been more forcibly and broadly ex-
pressed hundreds of years before Buddha was born,
in the command : " Thou shalt love thy neighbor as
It has been freely charged that Christ borrowed
"the golden rule" from Buddha, or from Confucius,
regardless of the fact that the sentiment expressed in
Matthew is ascribed "to the law and the prophets." 6
Many other similarities might be cited between the
verses of the Dhamma-pada and the older literature of
the Hebrews, 7 but it can hardly be claimed that even
these are accidental.
It is certain that every moral principle which has
i Deut., iv, 9, also Prov., iv, 23. * Dhamma, v. 252.
2 Dhamma, v. 352. 5 Lev., xix, 18.
3 Proverbs, xxi, 2, 10. 6 Matthew, vii, 12.
7 Compare especially Dhamma, 34, with Psalms, xv, 2, 5, and Dhamma, 66,
with Prov.,xviii, 7. Again, compare Dhamma, 69, with Eccl., viii, 2; also
Dhamma, 82, with Psalms, cxix, 165, and Isaiah, xlvii, 18, and many others.
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONCLUDED. 191
been inculcated by either Buddha or his followers was
freely taught by Moses and the prophets long before
the birth of Gautama.
It is true that Buddhism has ten commandments,
the first four of which are virtually the same as those
belonging to the Mosaic decalogue, 1 but this fact need
not be considered, as it is a circumstance which might
easily happen. It is more significant, however, that a
story is found in the Jatakas which is apparently
based upon the wise decision of Solomon. "The
Hebrew story," says Rhys Davids, "in which a similar
judgment is ascribed to Solomon, occurs in the book
of Kings, which is more than a century older than
the time of Gautama . . . and it should be re-
membered that the chronicle in question was based,
for the most part, on tradition current much earlier
among the Jewish people, and probably on earlier
documents." 2 Not only does it appear very possible
that Buddhism has been indebted to the earlier writ-
ings, but there are some things, even in Brahmanism,
which would indicate that there may have been some
connection between the people of India and the Jews.
For instance, the Hindu temple is on the same plan
as the tabernacle in the wilderness, and scholars are
asking whence the Hindus can have derived this
Not only this, but Surgeon-General Gordon, in his
able paper before the Victoria Institute, or Philosoph-
ical Society of Great Britain, on the " Philosophy and
Medical Knowledge of Ancient India," has cited a
> See p. 125. 2 B. B. S., Int. pp. xvi, xlv.
192 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
great number of points in which the Code of Manu is
found to be almost identical with the much earlier
Mosaic Code. 1
When a book presents many ideas which are nearly
identical with those of another, it is customary, in the
world of letters, to decide who has done the borrow-
ing merely upon the question of chronological prece-
dence. It may be well, however, to briefly consider
some of the points of contact between the two nations.
POSSIBLE SOURCES OF INFORMATION.
It was formerly believed that little, if any, inter-
course took place between the Semitic and Aryan
peoples in early times, but later discoveries have shown
that commerce, and even political and literary rela-
tions, obtained to a much greater extent than the
scholars of the last century supposed. 2 Phoenicia has
been found to be the connecting link between Palestine
and Greece, both in architecture and art. Not only
is this true of Greece, but of other countries as well.
The presence of teak at Mugheir proves that the
commerce of Babylonia extended as far as India, and
Professor Sayce also claims that before the sixth cen-
tury before Christ the Phoenicians had penetrated to
the northwestern coast of India, and her pearls and
ivories flowed into their harbors. 3 It will be remem-
bered, too, that Solomon was indebted to Phoenicia
for his active commerce with India, and during the
building of the temple the fleets of Hiram and Solo-
1 Surgeon-General Gordon, M. D., C. B., Q. H. P. (Trans. Vic. Inst., Vol.
XXV, No. 99.)
2 See note to p. 153. 3 Sayce, An. Emp., pp. 176, 181, 308.
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONCLUDED. 193
mon brought from Ophir 1 gold and precious stones,
and abundance of algum trees. 2 There is also reason
to believe that there was a great commerce by land
between the East and West by way of Palmyra and
Mesopotamia. " Though intercourse by sea/' says
Rhys Davids, "was not continued after Solomon's time,
the gold of Ophir, ivory, jade and Eastern gems still
continued to find their way to the West ; and it would
be an interesting task for an Assyrian or Hebrew
scholar to trace the evidence of this overland route in
other ways." 3
"Nor should we," says Prof. Max Miiller, "when
looking for channels of communication between the
ancient kingdoms of Asia, forget the Jews, who were
more or less at home in every part of the world. We
must remember that they came originally from Ur of
i It is true there is some difference of opinion in reference to the locality
of Ophir, but the commerce was of long continuance, and the navies of Solo-
mon and Hiram came once in every three years, "bringing gold and silver,
ivory, apes and peacocks." Every one of these are distinctively Indian
products, and Professor Lasseu considers it unnecessary to examine con-
jectures concerning other localities, from the fact that products which are
said to come from Ophir have Indian names, even in the Hebrew text, when
they are destitute of genuine Hebrew names.
In the Septuagint, the translators have invariably rendered the word
Ophir, as Souphir, in its various forms, and, according to Coptic lexico-
graphers, Soupher is the general name applied by the Copts to India and its
Josephus says that Solomon's fleets had India for their goal (Ant. vi, 4).
See also Professor Sayce (An. Emp., p. 189) and Rhys Davids (B. B. S., Int.,
p. xlvl) ; also Carl Von Ritter, the eminent German geographer (Geog. Pal.,
Vol. I, pp. 116, 128; also Reland (Dissertatio de Ophir), Vitringa (Geog.
Sacra., p. 114), Thenius (Exeget. Handbuch, I Kings, x, 22), Bertheau (Exe-
get. Handbuch, 2 Chron., viii, 18) and Ewald (Geschichte, III, 347, 2d edition).
a Almug or algum trees furnished the peculiar wood which was used for
the terraces of the temple, and it is denned as being "the red sandal wood
of India . . . hard, heavy, close grained and of a fine red color." Cyclo-
3 Rhys Davids (B. B. S., xlvii).
194 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
the Chaldees, then migrated to Canaan, and afterward
sojourned in Egypt before they settled in Palestine.
After this, we know they were led into captivity, and
lived in close proximity and held daily intercourse
with Medians, Persians, Babylonians and Assyrians." 1
Not only is it true that India was one of the prov-
inces of Darius at the time when the prophet Daniel
held a high position at the king's court, but later
events show that the Jews were very numerous in India
during the life of Buddha. Ahasuerus, who " reigned
from India even unto Ethiopia," has been definitely
identified as Xerxes I. 2 He was contemporary with
Buddha, 3 and during his reign the Jews were so
numerous in India and the other provinces of his
dominion that they made a successful stand against
their enemies when the king instructed them to do
so. And the great victory which was then obtained
was celebrated by the institution of the annual feast
of Purim, which is observed by the Jewish people even
to this day. 4 Therefore the Jewish people must
have been exceedingly numerous in and around India
during the time of Buddha, and it is a well known
fact that they carried their sacred books, their system
1 Max Miiller, Inaugural Address before the Ninth International Congress
2 In a recent letter to the author on this subject, Prof. A. H. Sayce says:
" Ahasuerus and Xerxes are the same name, and there is only one Xerxes to
whom the account in the book of Esther can refer. That is the famous
Xerxes I. Thanks to the decipherment of the cuneiform inscriptions, we
now know that the Persian kings did not have two names, so that the old
attempt to identify the Xerxes of Esther with Darius or Artaxerxes can
never be renewed."
3 Xerxes came to the throne about 485 B. C.
*Esther, ix, 26-32. It is a well known fact that no historic evidence is
considered so strong as the existence of the annual celebration of an event,
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONCLUDED. 195
of ethics and their form of worship into every country
where they obtained a foothold. Hence, opportu-
nities were apparently abundant for Buddha and his
contemporaries to learn the proverbs and oft-repeated
sayings of this peculiar people. If it be true, as Max
Miiller asserts, that "the Indian alphabet certainly
came from a Semitic alphabet/' 1 we may well believe
that the alphabet was not the only literary heritage
which the people of India received from the Semites.
In relation to this department of letters, we have
seen that it found its origin at a time when there was
a general intellectual activity throughout the East,
and the official canon of the Buddhist church is
supposed to date from the first century before Christ.
The "three baskets" which compose this canon
contain all which refers to morality in these books,
and also the discourses of Buddha on various sub-
jects, as well as his definite instructions to monks in
reference to the trivial affairs of life. They contain,
too, works which treat upon a variety of subjects, in-
cluding philosophy and discipline. The Law required
and hence the faithful keeping of the Purim feast has added greatly to the
weight of testimony in this department of history.
The Talmud is composed of the Mishna and Gemera. The former is the
text and the latter is the commentary upon it.
The composers of the Mishna were men belonging to the Sanhedrin
many years before the destruction of Jerusalem. There is one section of
the Talmud, called the Megillah (scroll), which treats of the book of
Esther, the feast of Purim, etc. The Megillah Esther is read by the Hebrews
on the day of the Purim feast. There is no doubt but it was written in Persia,
as it contains many Persian rvords, and it is ascribed to the time of Arta-
xerxes Longimanus, who was the son and successor of Xerxes I, and who
came to the throne about 465 B. C.
i Max Mftller, Inaugural Address, p. 29.
196 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
that these early texts should be constantly recited, and
great merit was accumulated thereby. The phrase-
ology of the Vinaya is thought to be substantially
accurate, even though it was long handed down by
memory, and, therefore, we have here an invaluable
record of the mental characteristics of the early Bud-
We have seen, too, that there are strange contrasts
in the literature of Buddhism that while the greater
part of the sacred canon abounds with tedious diffuse-
ness and may be considered almost without literary
merit, there are other portions which present not only
a desirable code of ethics, but also much poetry of
expression. While the greater part of this teaching
is burdened with luxuriant imagination and crowded
with absurd statements, still there is much which is
so greatly superior to this that the eareful student
is forced to the conclusion that the conflicting ele-
ments were derived from very different sources. It is
impossible to think of the moral horrors of the Tantra
literature as emanating from the same source with the
simple beauty of the Dhamma-pada, neither can one
conceive of the revolting ceremonies of Siva worship
as a component part of any system of ethics. These
forcible antagonisms must be explained in some way,
and the most natural conclusion is that they were de-
rived from the various races with whom the Buddhists
have come in contact.
Beginning with a simple pessimistic declaration,
Buddhism has, in later times, branched out into a
great number of complicated and self -contradictory
EARLY BUDDHIST LITERATURE, CONCLUDED. 197
propositions "Its teaching," says Williams, "has be-
come both negative and positive, agnostic and gnostic.
It passes from 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, witch-
craft, idolatry and fetishism. In some form or an-
other, it may be held with almost any religion, and
embraces something from almost every creed. It is
founded upon philosophical Brahmanism, has much in
common with Sankhya and Vedanta ideas, is closely
connected with Vaishnavism, and in some of its
phases with both Saivism and Saktism, and yet it is,
properly speaking, opposed to every one of these
systems." 1 The readiness with which this system allies
itself with the leading idea of every people whom it
approaches has been frequently noted, so much so
that it has been called the "universal borrower," and
when upon American soil it even claims some of the
doctrines of Christianity. This inveterate tendency for
borrowing must account for the numerous inconsist-
encies which obtain in its teachings and literature.
i Williams, B. , p. 13.
PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM IN INDIA ORIGIN OF THE
SYSTEM ATHEISM TRANSMIGRATION KARMA -
PESSIMISM METAPHYSICS THE ACCUMULATION OF
, MERIT NIRVANA LITERATURE ORIGINALITY OF
BUDDHA CAUSES OF EXTENSIVE INFLUENCE.
TTTE have seen that Buddhism, so long as it re-
* * mained in its primitive form, was a blessing to
India, because it encouraged benevolence, self-sacrifice,
tolerance and humanity because it opposed the tyr-
anny of the Brahmanic priesthood and deprecated war
In its earliest phase it was not a religion, but
merely a system of philosophy which was founded
upon extreme pessimism ; still, it promoted, to a
certain extent, intellectual and moral progress. It
taught respect for life and compassion toward the
It was a benefit to woman, even though it made
war upon the home, because it gave her some sem-
blance of equality by allowing her to become a nun
under much the same rules which obtained in com-
munities of men. Although it was claimed that she
could never attain perfection except by becoming a
man, and although during the reign of Buddhism in
India living women were burned upon the dead bodies
of their husbands, 1 still this system advocates a certain
amount of social freedom. It does not require the im-
prisonment of wives and daughters in the harem, and
the marriage of very young children is not enforced.
We have noted that, although some ideas may have
been obtained from other races, the metaphysical and
speculative doctrines of Buddhism have found their
origin upon Indian soil and in the earlier creeds of
the Hindus. Even points which were thoroughly an-
tagonistic to the Vedic philosophy indicate that they
could not have existed without their predecessor.
While Gautama denied the existence of a Creator
and repudiated the Veda and all Vedic sacrifices, still
he made the philosophy of the Brilhmans the point of
departure for his own teaching.
The Sankhya philosophy, in its original form,
claims the name of "lordless" or "atheistic" as its
distinctive title, but while Buddha's whole system of
negation was founded upon atheism, he still recog-
nized the various gods of the Hindu pantheon. And
his followers became the worshipers of " lords many,
and gods many," to such an extent that more idols
are found in Buddhist countries than among any
i Unknown thousands of lives were sacrificed in this barbarous manner,
as hundreds and sometimes thousands of women were burned alive every
year. At the close of the last century seventy widows were burned upon the
funeral pyre of one raja.
The horrible custom had obtained in India ever since the days of Alex-
ander until abolished by the English government in the early part of the
200 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
We have seen that the doctrine of metempsychosis
was promulgated by Egyptian and Hindu for centuries
before the birth of Gautama. In the Upanishads 1
(which contain the doctrinal portion of the Veda), we
find that the Indian philosophers attempted to devise
some plan, or theory, whereby the eternal cycle of ex-
,istence in constant migration could be avoided.
It remained, however, for Buddha to teach the
transmigration of character, and, in some cases, the
transfer of consciousness, even while ignoring the ex-
istence of a soul.
In immediate connection with the theory of me-
tempsychosis we have found the doctrine that the
effect of good or bad actions extended from former
lives to the present, and from the present to all future
existences. But we meet with these ideas everywhere
in the poetry, the philosophy and the religion of the
Hindus ; they cannot be claimed as the property of
any particular system. There is no forgiveness in the
doctrine of karma ; a man is bound hand and foot by
the inevitable consequences of his own evil actions.
Even the extreme pessimism of Buddha was taught
in the doctrinal portion of the Vedas. The Upani-