80 BUDDHISM. and it is still professed by the northern Buddhists from Tibet to Japan. The Buddhist ritual and doctrines also spread west- wards, and exercised an influence upon early Christianity. Buddhism as a National Religion. — Buddhism was thus formed into a State religion by the Councils of Asoka and Kanishka. It did not abolish caste. On the contrary, rever- ence to Brabmans and to the spiritual guide ranked as one of the three great duties, along with" obedience to parents and acts of kindness to all men and animals. Buddha, however, divided mankind not by their caste, but according to their religious merit. He told his hearers to live good lives, not to offer victims to the gods. The public worship in Buddhist countries consists, there- fore, in doing honour to the relics of holy men who are dead, instead of sacrifices. Its sacred buildings were, originally, not temples to the gods, but monasteries for the monks and nuns, with their bells and rosaries ; or memorial shrines, reared over a tooth or bone of the founder of the faith. Buddha's personality denied. — While, on the one hand, many miraculous stories have grown up around Buddha's life and death, it has been denied, on the other hand, that such a person as Buddha ever existed. The date of his birth cannot be fixed with certainty; the dates which I have given for his life are those of the received Indian tradition. Some scholars hold that Buddhism is merely a religion based on the Brahmanical or Sankhya philosophy of Kapila. They argue that Buddha's birth is placed at a purely allegorical town, Kapila- Vastu, ' the abode of Kapila ' ; that his mother is called Maya-devi, in refer- ance to the Maya or 'illusion' doctrine of Kapila's system; and that the very nan^e of Buddha is not that of any real person, but merely means ' The Enlightened.' This theory is so far true, that Buddhism was not a sudden invention of any single mind, but was worked out from the Brahman philosophy and religion which preceded it. But such a view leaves out of sight the two great traditional features of Buddhism, namely, the preacher's appeal to the people, and the undying influence of his own beautiful life. Brahmanism never crushed. — Buddhism never drove Brah- manism out of India. The two religions lived together during
Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/84
This page needs to be proofread.