Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/364

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he must not only bathe twice a day, but expose his body to every shower of the rainy season (Weber, "Indische Literatur-Geschichte," p. 395).

Yet this regimen was merely a palliative, prescribed to all refugees from the temptations of this world, and positive sinners had to expiate their guilt by quite different penances. In this higher art of selftorture Buddhism unquestionably bears off the palm of insanity. Under the influence of its dogmas Sannyassism became an elaborate system for weaning the human mind—not from the errors of life, but from life itself, a systematic mortification of all natural instincts and desires, a negative method of suicide. The "renouncer" had first to ascertain his dearest wishes and deliberately thwart them; abandon his friends, relinquish his worldly ambitions, and forego all gratifications of the senses. He next had to avoid whatever could compensate such sacrifices: emulation, fame, and even the pleasures of self-approbation. The candidate of Nirvana had to subsist on insipid food—millet-seed, for instance, or even cresses ("Asiatic Researches," vol. xvii, p. 238). He had to clothe himself in rags, and renounce all worldly possessions, all earthly sympathies; Buddha Ghoska, the South Indian apostle of the great Nepaulese, goes so far as to warn his disciples against sleeping more than once under the same tree, lest their souls should be contaminated with an undue affection for any worldly object (Schopenhauer's "Parerga," vol. i, p. 317). The civil war of contending dogmas filled India with rival hordes of self-torturing fanatics. Brahmans and Buddhists vied in the invention of new torments. Voluntary affliction became the chief criterion of mei'it. The Buddhistic monasteries practiced the most approved methods for making life hateful and death desirable; among their ghastly penitents all the monsters of La Trappe could have found their prototypes. Troops of Brahmanic flagellants wandered from town to town; the Sannyassis had regular rendezvous, where their novices could profit by the experience of the accomplished lunatics:

"So gathered they, a grievous company:
Some day and night had stood with lifted arms,
Till, drained of blood and withered hy disease,
Their slowly-wasting joints and stiffened limbs
Jutted from sapless shoulders, like dead forks
From forest trunks. Others had clinched their hands
So long and with so fierce a fortitude,
The claw-like nails grew through the festered palm.
Certain who cried five hundred times a day
The names of Shiva, wound with darting snakes
About their sun-tanned necks and hollow flanks. . .
Here crouched one in the dust, who, noon by noon,
Meted a thousand grains of millet out, '
Ate it with famished patience, seed by seed,
And so starved on; there one who bruised his pulse