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Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 13.djvu/17

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refer the reader to the second book of the Mah&vagga, where he will find them fully set out.

It was for use at such penitential gatherings that the text, now known as the P&timokkha, was composed. A list was drawn up — which of course it would be necessary from time to time to complete, and rectify — of those offences which ought to be confessed and atoned for ; this list was read out in the half-monthly meetings of the Order ; and the Brethren and Sisters who were present were asked if they were innocent of each one of the offences therein mentioned.

The use of such a list must have already begun in very early times. Tradition even ascribes the first laying down of each clause to the Buddha himself. This tradition is of course very far from being conclusive ; but neither should we hold it impossible that the P&tiraokkha, either in its present shape, or at least in its most essential parts, can reach back to the Buddha's own time, or to that of his personal disciples.

It is no doubt natural, through the influence of the his- tory of early Christianity, or perhaps of the school of Socrates, to imagine that early Buddhism was far removed from all fixed and absolute forms, either of creed or of liturgy; and to represent the intercourse of Gotama and his disciples as purely and simply an interchange of spiritual edification, where the spirit was all in all, and the letter was nothing. But it should be remembered that Gotama continued to live for many years, almost for two generations, after he had formulated the essential points of his system, and after he had founded the brotherhood of his Order. And at that time the stream of scholastic and legal ideas which emanated from the earlier Brahmanism was flowing in full force through the religious circles of India. A rich phraseology of sacred and ecclesiastical expressions, an armoury of technical terms in philosophy and in theology (still preserved in the Brihmawas and Upani- shads), had been developed and made ready for the use of the Buddhists, and Gainas, and other reforming schools. And earlier speculation had raised a whole series of pro-