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xxviii
SADDHARMA-PUNDARÎKA.

is, esoterically, the very same muni, the beholder of good and evil, the punyapâpekshitâ muni that is spoken of in Manu VIII, 91. It is acknowledged in Bhagavad-gîtâ IX, 14 seqq. that the supreme being may be conceived and respected in different ways according to the degree of intelligence of creatures. Some pay their worship by leading a virtuous life, others by pious devotion, others by contemplation, others by confessing a strictly monistic philosophy[1], others by acknowledging a personal god[2]. The Lord in the Saddharma-pundarîka admits of being viewed in all these various aspects. Whether the Buddha-theory, such as we find it developed in the Sûtra, not in plain words, indeed, but by circumlocutions and ambiguities, should be called atheistic or not, is a matter of comparatively slight importance, about which opinions may differ. This much, however, may be asserted, that the Lotus and the Bhagavad-gîtâ are, in this respect, exactly on a par.

The conclusion arrived at is that the Sâkyamuni of the Lotus is an ideal, a personification, and not a person. Traits borrowed, or rather surviving, from an older cosmological mythology, and traces of ancient nature-worship abound both in the Lotus and the Bhagavad-gîtâ, but in the highest sense of the word, paramâthatas, the Purushottama in both is the centre of mental life. It is just possible that the ancient doctors of the Mahâyâna have believed that such an ideal once walked in the flesh here on earth, but the impression left by the spirit and the letter of the whole work does not favour that supposition. In later times fervent adherents of the Mahâyâna really held that belief, as we know from the example of the pious Hiouen Thsang, who was evidently as earnest in his belief that the Lord once trod the soil of India as he was convinced of Mañgusrî, Maitreya, and Avalokitesvara existing as animated beings. Whether the system of the Lotus can be said to agree with what is supposed to be 'genuine' Bud-


  1. The followers of the Upanishads, Aupanishadas, who say, 'Myself am God,' or as Nîlakantha puts it, 'Myself am the Lord Vâsudeva.'
  2. According to Nîlakantha the common people, who think, 'He, the Lord, is my Master'