Page:1902 Encyclopædia Britannica - Volume 26 - AUS-CHI.pdf/479

This page needs to be proofread.


buddhism 433 lines of its development through the first eight or nine the other in Nepal. Now this is admittedly wrong. centuries of its career. The Pali Text Society is still pub- What we have to consider is Buddhism varying through lishing two volumes a year; and the Russian Academy has slight degrees, as the centuries pass by, in almost every inaugurated a series to contain the most important of the book. . We may call it one, or we may call it many. Sanskrit works still buried in MS. We have also now What is quite certain is that it is not two. And the most accessible in Pali fourteen volumes of the commentaries of useful distinction to emphasize is, not the ambiguous and the great 5th-century scholars in south India and Ceylon, misleading geographical one—derived from the places most of them the works either of Buddhaghosa of Budh where the modern copies of the MSS. are found; nor even, Gaya, or of Dhammapala of Kancipura (the ancient name though that would be better, the linguistic one—but the of Conjevaram). These are full of important historical chronological one. The use, therefore, of the inaccurate data on the social, as well as the religious, life of India and misleading terms northern and southern ought no during the periods of which they treat. longer to be followed in scholarly works on Buddhism. The striking archaeological discoveries of the last few 2. Our ideas as to the social conditions that prevailed, years have both confirmed and added to our knowledge during the Buddha’s lifetime, in the eastern valley of the of the earliest period. Pre-eminent among these is the Ganges have been modified. The people were divided discovery, by Mr William Peppe, on the Birdpur estate, into clans, many of them governed as republics, more or adjoining the boundary between English and Nepalese less aristocratic. In a few cases several of such republics territory, of the stfipa, or cairn, erected by the Sakya had formed confederations, and in four cases such conclan over their share of the ashes from the cremation pyre federations had already become hereditary monarchies. of the Buddha. About twelve miles to the north-east of The right historical analogy is not the state of Germany this spot has been found an inscribed pillar, put up by in the Middle Ages, but the state of Greece in the time of Asoka as a record of his visit to the Lumbini Garden, Socrates. The Sakyas were still a republic. They had as the place where the future Buddha had been born. republics for their neighbours on the east and south, but Although more than two centuries later than the event to on the western boundary was the kingdom of Kosala, the which it refers, this inscription is good evidence of the site modern Oudh, which they acknowledged as a suzerain of the garden. There had been no interruption of the power. Gotama, the Buddha’s father, was not a king. tradition; and it is probable that the place was then still There were rajas in the clan, but the word meant at most occupied by the descendants of the possessors in the something like consul or archon. All the four real kings Buddha’s time. North-west of this another Asoka pillar were called Maha-raja. And Suddhodana, the teacher’s has been discovered, recording his visit to the cairn erected father, was not even raja. One of his cousins, named by the Sakyas over the remains of Konagamana, one of the Bhaddiya, is styled a raja ; but Suddhodana is spoken of, previous Buddhas or teachers, whose follower Gotama the like other citizens, as Suddhodana the Sakyan. As the Buddha had claimed to be. These discoveries definitely ancient books are very particular on this question of titles, determine the district occupied by the Sakya republic in this is decisive. the 6 th and 7th centuries B.c. The boundaries, of course, 3. There was no caste—no caste, that is, in the modern are not known; but the clan must have spread thirty sense of the term. We have long known that the connumiles or more along the lower slopes of the Himalayas, bium was the cause of a long and determined struggle and thirty miles or more southwards over the plains. It between the patricians and the plebeians in Rome. Evihas been abandoned jungle since the 3rd century a.d., or dence has been yearly accumulating on the existence of perhaps earlier, so that the ruined sites, numerous through restrictions as to intermarriage, and as to the right of the whole district, have remained undisturbed, and further eating together (commensality) among other Aryan tribes, discoveries may be confidently expected. Greeks, Germans, Russians, and so on. Even without the The principal points on which this large number of older fact of the existence now of such restrictions among the and better authorities has modified our knowledge are as modern successors of the ancient Aryans in India, it would follows :—1. We have learnt that the division of Buddhism, have been probable that they also were addicted to similar originating with Burnouf, into northern and southern, is customs. It is certain that the notion of such usages was misleading. He found that the Buddhism in his Pali familiar enough to some at least of the tribes that preceded MSS., which came from Ceylon, differed from that in his the Aryans in India. Rules of endogamy and exogamy; Sanskrit MSS. which came from Nepal. Now that the privileges, restricted to certain classes, of eating together, works he used have been made accessible in printed edi- are not only Indian or Aryan, but world-wide phenomena. tions, we find that, wherever the existing MSS. came from, Both the spirit, and to a large degree the actual details, of the original works themselves were all composed in the modern Indian caste-usages are identical with these ancient, same stretch of country, that is, in the valley of the and no doubt universal, customs. It is in them that we Ganges. The difference of the opinions expressed in the have the key to the origin of caste. MSS. is due, not to the place where they are now found, At any moment in the history of a nation such customs but to the difference of time at which they were originally seem, to a superficial observer, to be fixed and immutable. composed. Not one of the books mentioned above is As a matter of fact they are never quite the same in suceither northern or southern. They all claim, and rightly cessive centuries, or even generations. The numerous and claim, to belong, so far as their place of origin is con- complicated details which we sum up under the convenient, cerned, to the Majjhima Desa, the middle country. It is but often misleading, single name of caste are solely deundesirable to base the main division of our subject on an pendent for their sanction on public opinion. That adventitious circumstance, and especially so when the opinion seems stable. But it is always tending to vary as nomenclature thus introduced (it is not found in the books to the degree of importance attached to some particular themselves) cuts right across the true line of division. one of the details, as to the size and complexity of the The use of the terms northern and southern as applied, particular groups in which each detail ought to be observed. not to the existing MSS., but to the original books, or to Owing to the fact that the particular group that in the Buddhism they teach, not only does not help us, it is India worked its way to the top, based its claims on rethe source of serious misunderstanding. It inevitably ligious grounds, not on political power, nor on wealth, the leads careless writers, to take for granted that we have, system has, no doubt, lasted longer in India than in historically, two Buddhisms—one manufactured in Ceylon, Europe. But public opinion still insists, in considerable S. II.-55