Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/85

This page needs to be proofread.

SlLADITYA. 8 1 more than a thousand years, from before 250 b.c. to about 900 a.d. Modern Hinduism is the joint product of both. In certain kingdoms of India, and at certain periods, Buddhism prevailed. But Brahmanism was at no time crushed; and the Brahmans in the end claimed Buddha as the ninth incarnation of their own god, Vishnu. The Chinese Pilgrims to India in 400 and 630 a.d. found Buddhist monasteries and Brahman temples side by side. Council of Siladitya, 634 A.D. — In Northern India, for ex- ample, a famous Buddhist king, Siladitya, ruled at the latter date. He seems to have been an Asoka of the seventh century a.d.; and he strictly carried out the two greixt Buddhist duties of charity and spreading the faith. He tried to extend Buddhism by means of a General Council in 634 a.d. Twenty-one tributary sovereigns attended, together with the most learned Buddhist monks and Brahmans of their kingdoms. But the object of the Council was not merely to assert the Buddhist faith. It dealt with the two religions of India at that time. First, a discussion took place between the Buddhists and the Brahmans; second, a dispute between the two Buddhist sects who followed respectively the Northern Scriptures or Canon of Kanishka and the Southern Scriptures or Canon of Asoka. The rites of the populace were as mixed as the doctrines of their teachers. On the first day of the Council, a statue of Buddha was installed with great pomp ; on the second, an image of the Brahman Sun-god ; on the third, an idol of the Hindu Siva. Siladitya's Charity. — Siladitya held a solemn distribution of his royal treasures every five years. The Chinese Pilgrim Hiuen Tsiang describes how, on the plain where the Ganges and the Jumna unite their waters, near Allahabad, all the kings of the empire, and a multitude of people, were feasted for seventy-five days. Siladitya brought forth the stores of his palace, and gave them away -to Br&hmans and Buddhists, monks and heretics, without distinction. At the end of the festival he stripped off his jewels and royal raiment, handed them to the bystanders, and, like Buddha of old, put on the rags of a beggar. By this ceremony the king commemorated the Great Renuncia- tion of Buddha, and also practised the highest duty laid down by the Brahmans, namely, almsgiving. F