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Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 21.djvu/39

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INTRODUCTION.

fess that I am not so sure of it. As the Stitra, like other compositions of the kind, begins with the solemn 'Thus have I heard, &c.' it is at least possible that the distich belongs to the compiler. I am not aware that the scribes were in the habit of using such expressions as vak or synonymous terms instead of likh, to write; and as we find in the Mah&vastu similar futures as vakshye, viz. udirayishyawi and upavarwayishydmi[1], where they can hardly be imputed to the scribe, it is safer to leave the question, whether the opening distich of the Lotus is the work of a compiler or of a copyist, undecided, the more so because the parallel phrase ath&to — vy&khy&sy&maA, frequently found immediately after the invocation, in non-Buddhistic writings, must be held to refer to the author or authors, compilers.

The Lotus being one of the standard works of the Mah4ylna, the study of it cannot but be useful for the right appreciation of that remarkable system. A perusal of the book will convince the reader that a statement of Professor Wassiljew's[2] can only be accepted with some restrictions, when this scholar, so profoundly versed in the history and development of Northern Buddhism, says that the Buddha oF the Mahiy&na is * neither the creator nor the ruler of the world ; he remains the same cold, indifferent egoist, absorbed in Nothingness.' The Tath&gata of the Lotus is passionless, indeed, but that does not involve his being an egoist. In general it may be said that the spirit of the Mah&yana is more universal, its ideal less monastical than the Htnaydna's. According to Professor Rhys Davids we must not seek the superior vital power which enabled the Great Vehicle to outlive the earlier teaching in certain metaphysical subtleties, but in the idea of a desire to save all living creatures; 'the idea,' to quote his own words[3], 'as summarised in the theory of Bodisatship, is the key-note of the later school, just as Arahatship is the key-note of


  1. Mahavastu (ed. Senart), p. I, with the remarks of the editor, and p. 9.
  2. In his Buddhismus, p. 126.
  3. In Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion, p. 254.
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