Albert J. (Albert Joseph) Edmunds.

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attained as before, but failed also as before.
And so unto six times. At last, at the seventh
trial, he thought : " Six times have I failed of
the heart-deliverance of trance. What now
I commit suicide?" [Literally, fetch a sword.)
Now, Maro, the Evil One, perceiving St.
Godhiko's intention, approacht the Lord and
uttered this stanza : —

*'0 Hero great! O Intellect sublime !
Shining with glory of supernal power,
All wrath and fear transcending,
Thy feet I worship, Seeing One !
O Hero great, thy follower,
Death-overcoming, longs for death,
Yea, thinketh thereupon.
Dissuade him, O thou splendor-bearer !
Lord, how shall follower of thine,



With thy religion pleased,

While yet novitiate, whose heart has not

Depart this life, O famed of men ?"

Then at that very time St. Godhiko com-
mitted suicide ; and the Lord, recognizing
Maro the Evil One, addrest him in this verse :

"The wise thus do indeed.
They hanker not for life ;
O'ercoming Thirst and the root thereof,
Godhiko hath unto Nirvana past."

Then the Lord addrest the monks :
'Come, brethren, let us go to Black Rock upon
Mount Seer-hill, where Esquire(i) Godhiko
has committed suicide."

"Even so, Lord," replied those monks
unto the Lord. And so the Lord with a great
number of monks arrived at Black Rock upon
Mount Seer-hill. And the Lord saw from
afar St. Godhiko lying on his bed, with his
shoulder turned over.

At the same time a pillar of smoke or of
darkness went east and west, north and south,
upward, downward and across. Then the
Lord askt the monks : "Brethren, do you not
see that pillar of smoke or of darkness going
in all directions ?"

(i). Observe that the sacred writer calls Godhiko Saint
{dyasma), but Gotamo calls him gentleman or esquire (^kula-


51. self-martyrdom; or, religious suicide

"Yes, Lord."

"That, O monks, is Maro the Evil One,
searching for the consciousness of Esquire
Godhiko, thinking that his consciousness is
estabHsht. But Esquire Godhiko, brethren,
has past into Nirvana, with no consciousness

Then Maro the Evil One took the form of
a lute-playing youth, approacht the Lord and
uttered this stanza : —

"Above, below, and everywhere.
In all directions,
I seek and do not find.
Whither hath Godhiko gone ?"

[Buddha replies :]

"That sage endowed with wisdom.
Meditative, ever with rapture glad.
Devoted thereunto by day and night,
Cared not for life.

"Death's army he hath conquered.
And Cometh not to rebirths any more ;
O'ercoming Thirst and the root thereof,
Godhiko hath unto Nirvana past."


O'erwhelmed with grief, he let his lute-
string fall ;
The melancholy goblin disappeared.



Warren translated this story from the Dham-
mapada Commentary, which follows the Samyutta
Nikayo pretty closely, but ends with the statement
that Buddha spoke, on this occasion, the 57th
stanza of the Hymns : —

The Tempter findeth not the way of those
Endowed with virtue, living earnestly,
Emancipated by thoro knowledge.

Other suicides are reported to Buddha by
Anando, in Classified Collection LIV. 9. They are
evidently the same as those which called forth the
Third Parajika : Buddha has been discoursing on
the impurity of the body, and many monks commit

At XXXV. 87, Channo commits suicide during
illness, in spite of the remonstrances of Sariputto
and Cundo the Great. Buddha says he was justi-
fied : Any one, O Sariputto, who lays down
this body and takes another one, I call blame-
worthy. But not such was the monk Channo.
Brother Channo committed suicide without
blame. Thus must you maintain, Sariputto.

The Third Parajika (i. e. the third out of Four
Unpardonable Offenses, which involve excommuni-
cation) is to encourage another to commit suicide,
or to assist him thereto. The substance of this
Parajika is now accessible in English (Edward P.
Buffet, in the American Law Review, 1 908). The ex-
ample of Godhiko and the other cases cited prove
that Gotamo condoned suicide when committed

51. self-martyrdom; or, religious suicide

from a right motive, just as the Romans did ; as
the Old Testament tacitly does the suicide of Saul ;
and as certain Church Fathers permit it to women
in defense of their chastity. But to do it in mere
mental depression, especially when urged from
without, is impermissible. Here, as so often, the
Christ and the Buddha see eye to eye: the physical
life is not an end in itself, and not worth preserving
when hostile to the spiritual. But the self-sacrifice
of one's life is a solemn and consecrated act, only
to be undertaken from profound inward conviction
that no good end can any longer be subserved by
retaining it, or that one's duty to the race requires
it. Is not the military patriot, as typified in Arnold
of Sempach, just as much a suicide as Godhiko ?

The Jains too hedged about their permitted
religious suicide with prohibitive requirements,
which would have restricted it to a few ascetic aris-
tocrats. But Hindu usage was freer, and the Bud-
dhist (probably) who mounted his self-made pyre at
Athens in the reign of Augustus, was a typical exam-
ple of the national stoicism, and not of any Buddhist
practise. If Strabo correctly records the reason for
this man's suicide, viz., the dread lest his thus far
successful life might be followed by adversity, the
self-immolator certainly was acting against the
Master's approval. Even euthanasia for mutilated
persons is forbidden at the end of the Third

It is fair to add that Anesaki objects to this
present Parallel, on the ground that it is derogatory


to the self-sacrifice of Christ. But it seems to me
that that sacrifice is inseparable from the idea of
Religious Suicide. It was certainly so in the Bud-
dhist development of the doctrine. In the earlier
texts, it is Buddha's Renunciation and Enlighten-
ment that are magnified ; but the former was com-
mon to all ascetics, and the latter was rapture rather
than pain. But in the later texts, like the IVay to
Siiper7ial Knowledge, the Jataka Commentary and
the Mahayana patristics, we find the doctrine of a
sacrificial Incarnation : in bygone lives the Indian
Messiah had conceived the Great Compassion and
resolved to save the world. But there are germs
of the doctrine in the Birth-Stories. In Jataka 316,
the immortal Hare, to feed a starving brahmin,
leaps on burning coals. But the brahmin is Sakko
in disguise, the fire is an illusion produced by him,
and the would-be suicide is unharmed. The act of
heroism shall be known thruout the Eon, says
Sakko, and he daubs the sign of the Hare upon
the moon. The legend grew and grew, until, in
the Gospel Lotus, we read :

'Tn the whole universe there is not a single
spot so small as a mustard-seed where he has not
surrendered his body for the sake of creatures." (2)
(S. B. E. XXI, p. 251.)

(2) Observe that no heavy type is used in this quotation.
The Gospel Lotus is a Mahayana work, possibly of post-Chris-
tian date, and is no part of the genuine Tripi/aka. Japanese
Buddhism, however, has exalted it into a Bible, known as
Hokekyo. In Nepal too it is one of Nine Dhar?nas.

51. self-martyrdom; or, religious suicide

In chapter 22 of the Lotus (a later addition to
the genuine text, which consisted of chapters 1-20
and 27) a certain Bodhisat (i. e. a saint in training
for a Buddha) burns his body in order to pay wor-
ship to the Tathagato and the Gospel Lotus. The
flames illuminate eighty worlds, and eighty Bud-
dhas applaud the act : no worship, say they, can
equal the sacrifice of one's own body : it is nobler
than the renunciation of royalty, children and wife.
{^Ibid. pp. 379, 380).

It is quite likely that here we have Christian
influence upon later Buddhism. The Rev. Arthur
Lloyd, president of the Asiatic Society of Japan,
even suggests that the Gospel Lotus {Saddharma
Pundanka) might be the identical work known as
Gospel to the founder of Manicheism (Vol. i,
p. 138). f3) But Anesaki considers the Mahayana
pre-Christian. I believe myself that Buddhism and

(3) Professor Lloyd remarks : "Edmunds and Anesaki, in
their Buddhist and Christian Gospels, think that the man [men-
tioned on p. 1 1 9 of Vol. i] cannot have been a Buddhist, because
Buddhism forbids suicide." The opinion was not Anesaki 's,
but mine, and even in the Tokyo edition (pp. 26 and 27) I
exprest a doubt by reason of the known cases of Buddhist suicide.
The present paragraphs on the Gospel Lotus are due to the
stimulating lectures of Lloyd, delivered in Tokyo in November
and December, 1907, and reported in The Japan Times. I agree
with him that the ascetic in question was probably a Buddhist. It
is unlikely that a Brahmin or a Jain would have left India. If
the man was a Buddhist, the practise of Religious Suicide was
pre-Christian among votaries of that faith, and probably also
the Mahayana laudation thereof.



Christianity, whether historically connected or not,
are two parts of one great spiritual movement — one
cosmic upheaval of the human soul, which burst
open a crater in India five hundred years before
Christ and a second and greater one in Palestine
at the Christian Advent. Whether the lava which
the twain ejected ever met in early times or not is
of little moment : it came from the same fount of
fire. And now, over the whole planet, the two
have assuredly met, and the shaping of the religion
of the future lies largely in their hands.



Part IV.



John I. 14 and 18.
The Word became flesh, and dwelt among
us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the
only begotten from the Father), full of grace

and truth No man hath seen God at any

time; the only begotten Son, which is in the
bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

Hebrews IX. 26.
Now once at the end of the ages hath he
been manifested to put away sin by the sacri-
fice of himself.



Numerical Collection I. 15.(1)
Translated in substance by Oldenberg : Buddha, English
translation, 1882, p. 328. Cf. Long Collection, Dialog 28;(2)
Middling Collection, Dialog 115, Chinese 181.

It is unlikely and impossible, O monks, for
two Arahats who are perfect Buddhas to arise
simultaneously in the same world-system :
this is not likely. But it is likely, O monks,
for one Arahat who is a perfect Buddha to
arise in one world-system : this is quite likely.

A similar statement is made of an emperor (3)
and then it is denied that a woman can be a
Buddha, an emperor, a Sakko, a Maro, or a Brahma.

Numerical Collection IV. 36. (S. T. in Samyukta. )

Partly translated by H. Kern : Manual of Buddhism :

Leipzig, 1896, p. 64.

Once the Lord had entered upon the main
road between High-town and White-town.
Now Dono the Brahmin entered it likewise.
And he saw the wheels on the Lord's feet, with
their thousand spokes, their tires and naves, and

( I ) In the Chinese Ekottara there is no text exactly agree-
ing with this, but we have in three passages mention of one
Tathagato appearing in the world. (A. M.)

(2) With this agrees in substance Dirgha, No. 18.
There we read : The Lord is incomparable in his wis-
dom, incomparable in his miraculous powers; all the
ascetics and priests in the world cannot excel the
Tathagato [in these respects] . (A. M.)

(3) I was interested to learn lately from the lips of a
Hindu that the ancient title cakkavatti is applied today to the
Queen of England as Empress of India. (Note of 1899. )



all their parts complete. Having seen them,
he thought to himself: "Wonderful and mar-
velous indeed ! These cannot be the feet of a
human being."

Then the Lord, stepping aside from the
road, sat at the root of a tree in the posture of
meditation, holding his body erect, looking
straight before him, and collecting his mind.
And Dono the Brahmin, following the Lord's
feet, saw him sitting at a tree-root with serene
and pleasing looks, his faculties and mind at
peace, with the highest control and calm, in
the attainment [of trance], subdued and
guarded. Upon seeing the hero, [literally,
the elephant,'] with his faculties at peace, he
approacht the Lord and said :

"Are you not an angel ?"

"No, Brahmin ; I am not an angel."

"Are you not a celestial genius ?"

"No, Brahmin; I am not."

"Are you not a goblin ?"

"No, Brahmin; I am not a goblin."

"Are you not a man ?"

"No, Brahmin; i AM NOT A MAN."

"If you are none of these, what are you,
then ?"

"Brahmin, those Depravities (

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Online LibraryAlbert J. (Albert Joseph) EdmundsBuddhist and Christian gospels (Volume 2) → online text (page 4 of 15)