the midst of the sea ... wilt thou find a place
where thou canst escape the force resulting from thy
evil action." 2 In Brahmanism, also, the influence of
his own karma or action is universal in determining
the form of every being at the time of his rebirth.
A passage in the Deva-duta-sutta represents king
Yama as pronouncing the doom of a wicked man
thus : " These, thy evil deeds, are not the work of
others ; thou alone hast done them all ; thou alone
must bear the fruit. And then the warders of hell
drag him to a place of torment, rivet him to red-hot
iron, plunge him into glowing seas of blood, torture
him on heaps of burning coal ; and he dies not until
the last residue of his guilt has been expiated. "*
1 Williams, B., p. 213. 3 Translated by Oldenberg.
2 Dhamma-pada, 127.
TEACHINGS OF BUDDHISM, CONCLUDED. 121
Although the punishment of hell is not eternal, its
shortest duration is five hundred of the years of hell,
each day of which equals fifty years of earth. 1
In Brahmanism there are twenty-one hells, while
Buddhism had originally only eight; later, however,
there came to be one hundred and thirty-six divisions
for the reception of different offenders. These hells
are all in tiers one above the other, and they lie deep
under the earth in the lower regions of the Cakra-vala.
One of the most important temples at Ceylon is
the temple of "the sacred eye tooth/' and its walls
are decorated with colored frescoes of the eight prin-
cipal hells. Some of those who are undergoing pur-
gatorial torments are represented as being cut in pieces
by demons, or fixed on red-hot iron spikes; others
are torn asunder with glowing tongs, or they are being
sawn in two with saws; others are being crushed be-
tween rocks or consumed by flames entering the differ-
ent apertures of their bodies. 2
The Burmese authorities thus describe the hell to
which Deva-datta was condemned for repeatedly at-
tempting the life of Buddha : " His feet are sunk
ankle deep in burning marl. His head is incased with
a red-hot iron metal cap down to the lobe of the ears.
Two large red-hot iron bars transfix him from the
back to the front, two horizontally from right to left,
and one impales him from head to foot." 3
The following description of a portion of the pun-
ishments which are experienced in the various hells of
Buddhism is given in the Buddha-^arita : " These
i Williams, 115-122. 2 ibid, 454. 3 Shway Yoe's " Burman," 1, 122.
122 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
living beings under the influence of evil actions pass
into wretched worlds . . . and, being born in a
dreadful hell, full of terrors, are miserably tortured,
alas ! by many kinds of suffering. Some are made to
drink molten iron of the color of fire ; others are lifted
aloft screaming on a red-hot iron pillar ; others are
baked like flour, thrown with their heads downward
into iron jars ; others are miserably burned in heaps of
heated charcoal ; some are devoured by fierce, dreadful
dogs, with iron teeth ; others by gloating crows, with
iron beaks, and all made, as it were, of iron ; some,
wearied of being burned, long for cool shade ; these
enter like bound captives into a dark-blue wood, with
swords for leaves ; others, having many arms, are split
like timber with axes, but even in that agony they do
not die, being supported in their vital powers by their
previous actions." 1
An earlier authority than the one above quoted is
the Maha-vagga, which is considered one of the most
ancient of the Pali works. It is here that we find
Buddha's own description of the punishment of back-
"To the place where one is struck with iron rods,
to the iron stake with sharp edges he goes ; then there
is for him food as appropriate, resembling a red-hot
ball of iron.
"For those who have anything to say there, do not
say fine things, they do not approach with pleasing
i This doctrine in regard to the punishment of the wicked is given as a
part of the enlightenment which Buddha attained under the Bo-tree, and
this was the "true knowledge" which was gained in the second watch.
(See Buddha-karita, Bk. XTV, 10-16.)
TEACHINGS OF BUDDHISM, CONCLUDED. 123
faces; they do not find refuge from their sufferings,
they lie on spread embers, they enter the blazing
"Covering them with a net, they kill them there
with iron hammers ; they go to dense darkness, for
that is spread out like the body of the earth.
"Then they enter an iron pot, they enter a blaz-
ing pyre, for they are boiled in those iron pots for a
long time, jumping up and down in the pyre.
"Then he who commits sin is surely boiled in a
mixture of matter and blood ; whatever quarter he
inhabits he becomes rotten there from coming in con-
tact with matter and blood.
"Again they enter the sharp Asipattavana with
mangled limbs ; having seized the tongue with a hook
the different watchmen of hell kill them.
" Then they enter Votarani that is difficult to cross,
and has got streams of razors with sharp edges ; there
the fools fall in, the evil-doers after having done evil.
"There black mottled ravens eat them who are
weeping, and dogs, jackals, great vultures, falcons and
crows tear them." 1
The reader can but note that he who could invent
such tortures as these to be visited upon his fellow-
creatures does not spare the life of the serpent or the
insect from a feeling of genuine humanity, but rather
on account of his belief in metempsychosis. It is diffi-
cult for either a Hindu or a Buddhist to draw a line
of demarkation between gods, men and animals when
the same living being may exist as a god, or a man
or an animal.
i Maha-vagga, Kokaliya-sutta, 11-19.
124 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
The true Buddhist does not "seek for glory, honor
and immortality;" on the contrary, his every effort is
to avoid a future life. The whole system being
founded upon the declaration that "all life, even in
heaven, is misery," the great desideratum is the final
escape from the endless wheel of existence. ,
"Of deliverance of that from which we are to be
delivered," says Oldenberg, "of the way in which we
shall be delivered of this, and nothing else . . .
do the sermons of Buddha, as rule, treat. God and
the universe trouble not the Buddhist ; he only knows
one question : ' How shall I, in this world of suffer-
ing, be delivered from suffering ?" >l
His "way of knowledge" was a knowledge of the
truth that all life was misery, and the two causes of
suffering were lust and ignorance. The first cure was
the suppression of lust and desire, especially for all de-
sire for continued existence. The second cure was the
removal of ignorance ignorance of the fact that all
life is misery that the misery of life is caused by
indulging in lusts, and will cease by suppressing them.
But, although he claimed that all life proceeded
from ignorance, he nevertheless taught that life in one
of the heavens was better than life in one of the
hells, and neither a higher form of life nor the great
aim of Nirvana could be attained without right
action, meditation and true knowledge.
i Oldenberg, B., p, 130.
TEACHINGS OF BUDDHISM, CONCLUDED, 125
Buddhism, like Manu, made morality the basis of
law ; it stimulated good conduct by its doctrine of
repeated births, and by the pictures of a multitude
of heavens, while it deterred its followers, as far as
possible, from evil conduct by its vivid pictures of ter-
rible hells. It could not speak of sin as an offense
against God, as it recognized no deity higher than
man ; it, therefore, spoke of " demerit," and promised
to those who attained perfection that they should be
" free from pain."
The moral code soon passed beyond the system
which Buddha presented in his "eight-fold path,"
but Dr. Oldenberg has shown that we may still trace
out the leading duties of external life and internal
mental concentration. The five fundamental prohibi-
tions were formulated at an early day ; indeed, some
of them were taught by the Jewish law-giver centu-
ries before the birth of Buddha :
1. Thou shalt not kill.
2. Thou shalt not steal.
3. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
4. Thou shalt not lie or bear false witness.
5. Thou shalt not drink strong drink.
Besides these, five other commandments were given,
and these were for the benefit of the monks :
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
126 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
9. Abstain from dancing, singing, music and worldly
10. Own no gold or silver of any kind, and accept
All gambling and games of chance were prohibited,
and sometimes five renunciations are named : The
renunciation of wife, of children, of money, of life,
and of craving for existence in future births.
There are also six (now ten) transcendent virtues,
This term was not original with Buddha ; it was
current in Gautama's time, and certainly occurs in the
Maha-bharata, some portions of which are of great an-
tiquity. It is now common, however, to both Brah-
manism and Buddhism. The subject has caused much
discussion among scholars, and the principal cause of
the difficulty is the contradictory teaching of the native
authorities upon the question.
The meaning of the word is "extinction," "blown
out," or "the state of a blown-out flame." The Bud-
dhist who arrives at perfection is supposed to be
"blown out" (if we may use Buddhist phraseology)
like a lamp. Some Orientalists, however, claim that
the word means merely the extinction of all passions
and desires, and the attainment of a condition which
is free from all pain, all thought, all action and all
feeling a condition which is "neither consciousness
nor unconsciousness," while others argue that it repre-
sents complete and final extinction. The discussions
upon this subject are not by any means of modern
TEACHINGS OF BUDDHISM, CONCLUDED. 127
origin, for the different schools of Buddhists in India,
and even the philosophers of the same school, pro-
pounded many opinions as the explanation of this
term, and the teachers maintained various theories
upon the question.
But we cannot expect that Nirvana should always
be explained in the same way by a system which is so
elastic that it changes its front to suit the character-
istics or opinions of every country which it approaches.
Buddha himself frequently spoke of his approaching
death as the "final extinction of the Tathagata" (or
Buddha). He also spoke repeatedly of "passing away
by that utter passing away in which nothing whatever
remains behind. " l
And again: "The body of the Perfect One, dis-
ciples, subsists cut off from the stream of becoming.
As long as his body subsists, so long will gods and
men see him ; if his body be dissolved, his life run out,
gods and men shall no more behold him." 2
On the death of one of his disciples he gave utter-
ance to the following sentiment : " Dissolved is the
body, extinct is perception ; the sensations have all
vanished away. The confirmations have found their
repose; the consciousness has sunk to its rest." 3
When the venerable Godhika had passed away, it is
said that the followers of Buddha saw a cloud of
smoke moving around the corpse, and they asked the
Teacher what it meant.
"That is Mara the Wicked One, disciples," re-
plied Buddha. "He is looking for the noble Godhika's
i See p. 77. 2 Brahmajala sutta. (See the close.)
3 Udana (Phayre MS.) See also Oldenberg. p. 266.
128 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
consciousness : where has the noble Godhika's con-
sciousness found its place ? But the noble Godhika has
entered into Nirvana ; his consciousness nowhere re-
In these extracts and some others, we have the
doctrine of eternal oblivion unmistakably taught by
Buddha himself, but, at other times and under other
circumstances, he persistently declined to give any defi-
nite answer whatever to the anxious questions of his
It is also repeatedly taught in the sacred texts that
"the Perfect One neither exists after death nor does
he not exist." 3
After a careful examination of the subject, Dr.
Oldenberg says : ' ' Does the path lead into a new ex-
istence ? Does it lead into the Nothing ? The Bud-
dhist creed rests in delicate equipoise between the two.
The longing of the heart that craves the eternal has
not nothing, and yet the thought has not a something
which it might firmly grasp. Farther off the eternal
could not withdraw itself from belief than it has
done here, where, on the point of merging into the
Nothing, it threatens to evade the gaze." 4
Professor Childers has attempted to reconcile the
conflicting statements of the Buddhists on this subject
by the following explanation: "It is well known that
in the Buddhist books there are two distinct sets of
epithets applied to Nirvana, the one implying a state
of purity, tranquillity and bliss, and the other imply-
i Samyutta Nikaya, Vol. I, fol. ghi. Ibid, 281. 2 Ibid, 277-283.
3Samyutta Nikaya, Vol. II, fol. no, seq. * Oldenberg, B., p. 284.
TEACHINGS OF BUDDHISM, CONCLUDED. 129
ing extinction and annihilation. This circumstance
has given rise to endless discussions relative to the
true nature of Nirvana, the result being that most
conflicting views have been held on this question by
1 ' The theory which I propose is one which, if true,
will, I think, meet all difficulties and reconcile the
expressions in the Buddhist texts, even the most oppo-
site and antagonistic. It is: That the word Nirvana
is applied to two different things; first, to the annihi-
lation of existence, which is the ultimate goal of Bud-
dhism, and, secondly, to the state of sanctification,
which is the stepping-stone to annihilation, and with-
out which annihilation cannot be obtained. " l
"Buddhism," says Max Miiller, "if tested by its
own canonical books cannot be freed from the charge
of Nihilism. . . . The ineradicable feeling of
dependence on something else, which is the main-
spring of all religion, was completely numbed in the
early Buddhist metaphysicians, and it was only after
several generations had passed away, and after Bud-
dhism had become the creed of millions, that this
feeling returned with increased warmth, changing the
very nothing into a paradise and defying the very
Buddha who had denied the existence of a deity.
. In India also, Buddhism, as soon as it be-
came a popular religion, had to speak a more human
language than that of metaphysical Pyrrhonism. But
if it did so, it was because it was shamed into it.
This we may see from the very nicknames which the,
IChilders, Tr^bner's Literary Record, June 25, 1870,
130 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
Brahmans applied to their opponents. They called
them Nastikas those who maintain there is noth-
ing." 1 "I pointed out/* he says, "on a former
occasion that if we derive our ideas of Nirvana from
the Abhidharma ... we cannot escape the con-
clusion that it meant perfect annihilation. Nothing
has been brought forward to invalidate Burnouf's
statements on this subject ; much has since been
added, especially by Barthelemy Saint-Hilaire, to
strengthen and support them. ... No person,
reading with attention the metaphysical speculations
on Nirvana contained in the Buddhist canon, can
arrive at any other conviction than that expressed by
Burnouf, viz. : that Nirvana, the highest aim, the
summum bonum of Buddhism, is the absolute noth-
ing." 2 He calls attention, however, to the very
apparent fact that, although Buddhism teaches it, it
does not necessarily follow that it was the sentiment
of Buddha himself, who repeatedly evaded the ques-
tion^ and still, at times, he taught most explicitly that
there would be no consciousness of the perfected one
after death. 3
Rhys Davids claims (as does Child ers) that while
Nirvana is not in itself absolute extinction, it never-
theless leads to the shoreless sea of oblivion. "When
a Buddhist has become an Arahat," he says, "when
he has reached Nirvana, he has extinguished sin, but
he is still alive; his body with all its powers (that is,
the fruits of his former sins) still remains. These,
1 Chips, Vol. I, pp. 280, 281.
2 Max Miiller, Science of Religion, p. 178 f
a Chips, Vol. I, p. 330.
TEACHINGS OF BUDDHISM, CONCLUDED. 131
however, will soon pass away ; there will then be
nothing left to bring about a new individual, and the
Arahat will be no longer alive or existent in any
sense at all. He will have reached complete extinc-
tion." 1 The solution presented by Sir Monier Monier-
Williams is much the same. He argues that Nirvana
is not in itself necessarily the annihilation of all
existence it is the absence of pain, and also of
demerit, 2 and of all thought and all work. "It is
not consciousness, neither is it unconsciousness." 3
Besides Nirvana we have another term Pari-nir-
vana; that is, " without remains or remnants of the
elements of existence." 4 This is the oblivion to which
Rhys Davids refers when he says that "Death, utter
death, with no new life to follow, is the result of
Nirvana." 5 It is the condition to which Childers
refers when he says that "Nirvana is the stepping
stone to annihilation." It is what Williams calls
"the extinction of personal existence in Pari-nir-
We see, therefore, that the efforts of scholars to
reconcile the contradictory teaching of the Buddhist
i Rhys Davids, B. , p. 113.
3 As Buddhism had no God in its system, neither could it have any sin in
our sense of the word. " By an unrighteous act it meant an act producing
Buffering and demerit of some kind, and it bade every man act righteously
in order to escape suffering, and thus work out his own perfection that is,
his own self -extinction. "William*, B.,p. 124.
3 Ibid, p. 141.
4 Childers' Pali Dictionary.
5 Rhys Davids, B., p. 114.
Williams, B., p. 123.
132 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
authorities upon this subject are quite harmonious
after all. There are shades of thought and definition,
it is true, but they agree that the summum lonum of
Buddhist ambition is the absolute nothing. The only
question being whether Nirvana itself is utter extinc-
tion or only a half conscious condition which is to be
succeeded by eternal oblivion.
It is true that, in modern times, Buddhists who
have intercourse with Christian countries sometimes
claim that " Nirvana means union and communion
with God, the absorption of the individual soul by
the Divine essence." But no position could be more
absurd than this, in view of the fact that true Bud-
dhism believes in no God with whom a union could
be formed, and no soul to be absorbed if, indeed, it
did recognize a Divine essence. "Buddha himself,"
says Max Miiller, " was certainly an atheist ; therefore,
if Nirvana was not (in his mind) complete annihila-
tion, still less could it have been absorption into the
Divine essence. It was nothing but selfishness in
the metaphysical sense of the word a relapse into
that being which is nothing but itself. This is the
most charitable view which we can take of Nirvana,
even as conceived by Buddha himself, and it is the
view which Burnouf derived from the canonical books
of the Northern Buddhists." 1
1 Chips, Vol. I, p. 384.
THE BUDDHIST ORDER OF MONKS.
ORDINATION OF THE BHIKKHUS OR MONKS RULES
FOR THEIR DIRECTION UNSANITARY LAWS UN-
SANITARY CLOTHING PROTECTION FROM VENOMOUS
SERPENTS THE SERPENT WHO JOINED THE ORDER
NUNS BUDDHA'S PROPHECY RESULTS OF MONK-
rriHE foundations of Buddhism were not laid upon
* the sacred hearthstone of pure family life; on
the contrary, he admonished his followers to forsake
their wives and children, abandon their homes and
form themselves into an Order of Monks. This
organization was not a hierarchy. It had no ecclesi-
astical organization ; its first head, the Buddha, ap-
pointed no successor. It was not a church, and it had
no rite of ordination in the true sense. It was a
brotherhood, in which all were under certain obliga-
tions and restraints, and were pledged to the propa-
gation of the doctrine that all life was misery, whether
on earth or in heaven r and that life, whether in pres-
ent or future bodies, could only be avoided by a long
course of discipline. The founding of a monastic
brotherhood of this kind, which made personal extinc-
134 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
tion its final aim, and which might be co-extensive
with the world, was Buddha's chief aim.
This Order began with ten members, but its growth
was rapid and, in many ways, phenomenal. It is true
that the warfare which he waged against marriage ex-
cited the opposition of the people. They complained
that the practical working of his theories destroyed
family life, and must also bring destitution, as the
monks were forbidden to work, obtaining their living
by carrying from door to door a bowl in which they
received scraps of food.
Lay-brothers and lay-sisters were therefore a neces-
sity. Married householders who were working people
were actually necessary for the support of the monks.
The formula for the admission, of these members was
extremely simple, being merely the repetition of the
following words :
"I go for refuge to the Buddha,
I go for refuge to the Law,
I go for refuge to the Order." l
It was understood that they should abstain from the
five gross offenses which are prohibited in the first
portion of the decalogue, 2 but the principal test of loy-
alty was their willingness to serve the monks. They
could not be called Buddhists, however, in the truest
sense, unless they entered the great army of mendi-
ORDINATION OF THE BHIKKHUS OR MONKS.
Monks were received into the Order by successive
forms and ceremonies. At first, of course, there was
i Maha-v., I, 7, 10. 2 See p. 125.
THE BUDDHIST ORDER OF MONKS. 135
no one who could ordain them except Buddha, and it
was sufficient for him to say : " Come, follow me."
The first converts were monks only ; later, however,
the three-refuge formula, as given above, was used for
both monks and laymen. After this, it was said of
converts that they "obtained the spotless eye of
truth," when they "obtained the knowledge that
whosoever is subject to the condition of origination
is subject also to the condition of cessation." This is
everywhere repeated, and when they had fully mastered
this idea the Blessed One said to them : " Come,
Bhikkhns ! well taught is the doctrine ; lead a holy life
for the sake of the complete extinction of suffering." 1
Still later the ceremony became much longer and
more complicated. The candidates were catechised in
reference to their health, sex, caste and financial posi-
tion. Also in reference to age, name and condition of
robe and alms-bowl. When the men to be ordained be-
came disconcerted and could not answer these questions,
Buddha appointed an instructor for them. When the
candidate was sufficiently taught to enable him to
answer them, he was told to adjust his upper robe, to
raise his joined hands, and to ask for the ordination
by a prescribed formula three times repeated. Then a
monk formally announced that the candidate was free
from disqualifications that his alms-bowl and robes
were in due state. After this he was received by
vote. "Then," said Buddha, "let them measure the
shadow ; tell the newly ordained monk what season
and what date it is tell him the whole formula and
the 'four resources/" 2
i Maha-v. ,2,3. 2 Maha-v., I, 76, 1.
136 PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.
THE FOUR RESOURCES.
"I prescribe, Bhikkhus ! that he who confers the
upasampada ordination upon a Bhikkhu, tell him the
" ' The religious life has morsels of food, given in
m alms, for its resource. Thus you must endeavor to
live all your life.'
" ' The religious life has the robe made of rags,
taken from the dust-heap, for its resource. Thus you
must endeavor to live all your life.'
" ' The religious life has dwelling at the foot of a
tree for its resource. Thus you must endeavor to live
all your life.'
" 'The religious life has decomposing urine for its
medicine. Thus you must endeavor to live all your
There were extra allowances sometimes given be-
sides the "resources," as meals by invitation or food
distributed by ticket, and also certain articles, such as
oil and molasses.
At that time a certain youth came to the Bhikkhus
and asked them to ordain him. The Bhikkhus told
him the four resources before ordination, whereupon
he refused to receive the rite. When the fact was