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yen (great magnificence, i.e., "Lalita Vistara"); by the Mahâsañghikas it is called Ta-sse, i. e., Mahavastu.1
We know from the "Chinese Encyclopædia", Kaiyuen-shi-kiau-mu-lu, that the Fo-pen-hing was translated into Chinese from Sanscrit, by a priest called Chu-fa-lan, so early as the eleventh year of the reign of Wing-ping (Ming-ti), of the Han dynasty, i. e., 69 or 70 A.D. We may, therefore, safely suppose that the original work was in circulation in India for some time previous to this date.
It must be borne in mind, however, that several translations of the "Legend of Buddha" are quoted under the name Fo-pen-hing. The first, which we have already alluded to, the original of which was lost so early as the beginning of the Tang dynasty, was in five chapters (kiouen). There is allusion to another translation (Kai-yuen-shi-kiau-mu-lu, vol. i, cap. i, fol. 3), bearing the same name but in one chapter, now lost. Again, it is stated (vol. ii, chap. xiii, fol. 20, and vol. iii, chap. xx, fol. 32, op: cit.) that a work called Fo
1 The Chinese title of this book is given by Wassalief (Bouddhisme, § 114), as "da cine", in the German edition (Der Buddhismus, § 114) as "ta-king", in either case I suppose there is a mistake of transcription, as the title is plainly "ta-sse", the "great thing or compilation". That this is really the equivalent of "Mahavastu" is evident, not only because "vastu" is the literal rendering of " sse thing-but also from the remarks of Bournouf (Introd. to Ind. Bud., p. 452). The latter writer speaks of the Mahavastu, as "volumineux recueil de légendes relatives à la vie religieuse de Çakya," a description which agrees completely with the character of the work here translated.
2 Amongst others, the work here translated is constantly referred to in the "Fa-yuen-chu-lin" (e. gr., Yuen, 8th fol. 1) and in the Commentary of Wong-Puh", as the Fo-pen-hing,
sho-hing-tsan-king-fu," in five chapters, composed originally by Asvagosha, and translated into Chinese by Dharmalatsin, an Indian priest of the Northern Liang dynasty (502-555 A.D.), is also called by many writers Fo-pen-hing. Again (vol. ii, chap. xiii, fol. 21, op. cit.), it is said that a work called Fo-pen-hing-king, in seven chapters, was translated by a Shaman of Liang-Chau (called Ratnamegha, chap. xx, fol. 3, op. cit.), of the Sung dynasty (420-477 A.D.) The writer then adds that this last-named translation is sometimes called Fopen-hing-tsan-king. The Chinese word tsan is generally used to denote the class of Buddhist works known in Sanscrit as Udanas, i. e., works composed in laudatory verses.1
These statements are in agreement with the opinion of the learned translator of the "Lalita Vistara", from the Thibetan. In his opinion, that work was finally adjusted in its present form at the last council held under Kanishka, four hundred years after the death of Buddha. "This would give it an antiquity of two thousand years," he adds, although the original treatise must be attributed to an earlier date.
The inscriptions found on Buddhist ruins, recently
1 This copy of the Fo-pen-hing, is probably another translation of the one originally composed by Asvagosha in verse. The date of Asvagosha is uncertain; we know that he was contemporary with Nagarjuna, who is generally placed 400 years after Buddha; we shall not be wrong, therefore, if we suppose him to have lived somewhere during the first century B.C.
2 The date of Kanishka is the great desideratum in the History of Northern Buddhism.
3 Histoire du Bouddha Sakya-Mouni," by Mme. Mary Sum. mers, Index, sub voc., "Lalita Vistara.
discovered in India, confirm this hypothesis. Many of the stories related in the following pages are found sculptured at Sanchi, and some, as I believe, at Bharhut. If the date of these topes is to be placed between Asoka (about 300 B.C.) and the first century of the Christian era, it will be seen that the Records of the Books and of the stone Sculptures are in agreement.
The author of "Three Lectures on Buddhism" states, however, "that nearly all the legends which claim to refer to events many centuries before Christ, cannot be proved to have been in circulation earlier than the 5th or 6th century A.D." The legends to which this writer refers are these, "the pre-existence of Buddha in heaven-his birth of a virgin-salutation by angelsrecognition by Asita (Simeon)-presentation in the Temple-baptism by fire and water-disputation with the doctors-temptation in the wilderness-life passed in preaching and working miracles-transfiguration on the mount descent into hell- ascension into heaven," etc. Some of these events I do not find named in any Chinese work within my reach. But others are undoubtedly commonly referred to. The previous existence of Bodhisatwa in heaven-his miraculous incarnation the songs of the Suddhvasa Devas (angels) at his birth—the events of his early childhood-his temptation in the desert-and his life of continual labour and travel-these points of agreement with the Gospel narrative naturally arouse curiosity and require examination.2
1 Three Lectures on Buddhism, by the Rev. E. Eitel. Lec. i, p. 5. 2 They have ever done so. The Franciscan monk Plano Car
If we could prove that they were unknown in the East for some centuries after Christ, the explanation would be easy. But all the evidence we have goes to prove the contrary. Nor can we dismiss this consideration in the way a late writer has done (Bastian, "Weltauffassung der Buddhisten”, p. 18), by saying that all these legends or stories (erzälungen), wherever found, are equally worthless, that they are, in fact, "exploded myths".
How then may we explain the matter? It would be better at once to say that in our present state of knowledge there is no complete explanation to offer. We must wait until dates are finally and certainly fixed.1
We cannot doubt, however, that there was a large mixture of Eastern tradition, and perhaps Eastern teaching, running through Jewish literature at the time of Christ's birth, and it is not unlikely that a certain amount of Hebrew folk-lore had found its way to the East. It will be enough for the present to denote this
pini reports that "the Cathayans have an Old and New Testament of their own, and Lives of the Fathers, and religious recluses, and buildings used for churches," etc. (Yule's Cathay). Compare also what Andrew Corsalis says in his letter to Duke Lorenzo de' Medici (do. cxli, n.) In a Chinese work on the "Art of War" (under the heading Fa-lan-ki-gun), it is particularly mentioned that the Portuguese on their first visit to Canton from Malacca, spent the greater portion of their time in reading Buddhist books. [For other allusions, vide Yule, op. cit., passim, and other writers down to Huc and Gabet.]
1 It would be a natural inference that many of the events in the legend of Buddha were borrowed from the Apocryphal Gospels (compare e. gr., the "Gospel of the infancy", cap. xx; Lord learning his alphabet", with the account given in chap. xi, of this volume), if we were quite certain that these Apocryphal Gospels had not borrowed from it.
intercommunication of thought, without entering further into minute comparisons.1
It would be out of place in a work like this to enter into questions which seem to present such little difficulty to the numerous writers on Buddhism, who, in their lectures and articles, tell us that it teaches atheism, annihilation, and the non-existence of soul. These
statements are more easily made than proved. It would be better, at least, if they were not so frequently repeated in the face of contrary statements made by those well able to judge respecting the matter.2
I have called this work a "Romantic Legend", because, as is well known, the first romances were merely metrical histories. There can be no doubt that the present work contains as a woof (so to speak), some of the earliest verses (Gâthas) in which the History of Buddha was sung, long before the work itself was penned. These
1 Readers will observe several coincidences in the following pages beyond those already referred to. The most singular of these is the aim of Buddha to establish a "Religious Kingdom" (Dharmachakra), i. e., "a Kingdom of Heaven." We are told again (Lightfoot, Exercit. Talmud, sub cap. ix, v. 2, St. John's Gospel) that the Jews believed in the pre-existence of souls, and a modified form of the metempsychosis. The singular agreement between the Buddhist "Metta," and the "Charity" of the New Testament has called forth a remark from Mr. Alwis that the coincidence is "very remarkable" (Pali Translations, part i, p. 16). The account given by St. Peter (Ep. ii, cap. 3) of the earth once destroyed by water, and about to be destroyed by fire, is in agreement with the Buddhist story (vide Catena, sub voc., Kalpa); many other parallellisms might be pointed out.
2 Compare for instance the remarks of the priest Migettuwatte, in the Buddhist controversy held at Pantura, August 26th, 1873, respecting the existence of "individual soul." Many of the writers on "Buddhism" place such implicit faith in the statements of M. Bart. St. Hilaire as to adopt his clever epigrams as facts, without enquiry.