The Saddharma-pundarîka is one of the nine Dharmas which are known by the titles of—1. Ashtasahasrikâ Pragñâpâramitâ; 2. Ganda-vyûha; 3. Dasabhûmîsvara; 4. Samâdhi-râga; 5. Lankâvatâra; 6. Saddharma-pundarîka; 7. Tathâgata-guhyaka; 8. Lalita-vistara; 9. Suvarna-prabhâsa.
These nine works, to which divine worship is offered, embrace (to use the words of the first investigator of Nepalese Buddhism) 'in the first, an abstract of the philosophy of Buddhism; in the seventh, a treatise on the esoteric doctrines; and in the seven remaining ones, a full illustration of every point of the ordinary doctrine and discipline, taught in the easy and effective way of example and anecdote, interspersed with occasional instances of dogmatic instruction. With the exception of the first, these works are therefore of a narrative kind; but interwoven with much occasional speculative matter.'
As to the form, it would seem that all the Dharmas may rank as narrative works, which, however, does not exclude in some of them a total difference in style of composition and character. The Lalita-vistara e.g. has the movement of a real epic, the Saddharma-pundarîka has not. The latter bears the character of a dramatic performance, an undeveloped mystery play, in which the chief interlocutor, not the only one, is Sâkyamuni, the Lord. It consists of a series of dialogues, brightened by the magic effects of a would-be supernatural scenery. The phantasmagorical parts of the whole are as clearly intended to impress us with the idea of the might and glory of the Buddha, as his speeches are to set forth his all-surpassing wisdom. Some affinity of its technical arrangement with that of the regular Indian drama is visible in the prologue or Nidâna, where Mañgusrî at the end prepares the spectators and auditors—both are the same—for the beginning of the grand drama, by telling them that the Lord is about to awake from his mystic slumber and to display his infinite wisdom and power.
In the book itself we find it termed a Sûtra or Sutrânta of the class called Mahâvaipulya. In a highly instructive discussion on the peculiar characteristics and comparative age of the different kinds of Sûtras, Burnouf arrives at the conclusion that the Mahâvaipulya Sûtras are posterior to the simple Sûtras in general. As there are two categories of simple Sutras, 1. those in which the events narrated are placed contemporary with the Buddha, 2. those which refer to persons living a considerable time after his reputed period, e.g. Asoka, it follows that the composition of the Mahâvaipulya Sûtras must be held to fall in a later time than the production of even the second category of simple Sûtras. Now in one of the latter, the; Asoka-Avadâna, we read of Asoka using the word dînâra, which leads us to the conclusion that the said Avadâna was composed, not only after the introduction of dînâra from the West, in the first century of our era or later, but at a still more modern time, when people had forgotten the foreign origin of the coin in question.
The results arrived at by Burnouf may be right so far as any Mahâvaipulya Sûtra, as a whole, is concerned; they cannot be applied to all the component parts of such a work. Not to go further than the Saddharma-pundarîka and the Lalita-vistara, it can hardly be questioned that these works contain parts of very different dates, and derived from various sources. The material discrepancies between the version in prose and that in verse are occasionally too great to allow us to suppose them to have been made simultaneously or even by different authors conjointly at work. Further it can be shown that the Mahalvaipulya Sutras are partially made up of such materials as must be referred to the oldest period of Buddhism. Let me adduce some examples to render more clear what I mean.
If we compare Lalita-vistara (Calc. ed.), p. 513, 13-p. 514, 2, with Mahâvagga (ed. Dr. Oldenberg) I, 5, 2, we perceive that the passages are to a great extent literally identical, and that the variations amount to little more than a varietas lectionis.
The passage adduced is in prose; now let us take some stanzas. In Mahâvagga I, 5, 3, the Lord utters the following slokas:
kikkhena me adhigatam halam dâni pakâsitum,
râgadosaparetehi nâyam dhammo susambudho.
patisotagâmi nipunam gambhiram duddasam anum
râgarattâ na dakkhanti tamokhandhena âvutâ.
This does not materially differ from Lalita-vistara, p. 515, 16 seq.:
pratisrotagâmiko mârgo gambhîro durdriso mama,
na tam drakshya(n)ti râgândhâ alam tasmât prakâsitum.
anusrotam pravâhyante kâmeshu patitâh pragâh;
krikkhrena me'yam samprâptam(!) alam tasmât prakâsitum.
Though there is some difference in the wording and arrangement of the verses, it is of such a kind as to exclude all idea of the compiler of the Lalita-vistara having composed the distichs himself. Even the words ayam dhammo susambudho and nipunam of the Pâli text were known to him, as appears from the passage in prose immediately preceding the slokas quoted: gambhîrah khalvayam, Mahâbrahman, mayâ dharmo 'bhisambuddhah sûkshmo nipunah. What follows, api ka me, Brahman, ime gâthe abhîkshnam pratibhâsatah, is but a slight, not very, felicitous modification of what we read in the Mahâvagga l.c.: api 'ssu bhagavantam imâ anakkhariyâ gâthâyo patibhamsu pubbe assutapubbâ.
Evidently from the same source are the verses in Trishtubh uttered by the god Brahma, Mahâvagga I, 5, 7, and those found in Lalita-vistara, p. 517, 3 seq. The former text has:
pâturahosi Magadhesu pubbe
dhammo asuddho samalehi kintito,
apâpur' etam amatassa dvâram
sunantu dhammam vimalenânubuddham.
The other runs thus:
On comparing the two texts we may infer that the Pâli version is purer, that vâdo babhûva is a corruption of pâdû babhûva or something like it, answering to a Sanskrit prâdur babhûva, but we cannot deny that the stanzas have the same origin.
In Mahâvagga I, 5, 12, the Lord addresses the god Brahma with the following Trishtubh :
apârutâ tesam amatassa dvârâ
ye sotavanto, pamuñkantu saddham.
dhammaw pa^itaw mam^esu, Brahma; iti.</poem>}} Then in prose: Atha kho Brahmâ Sahampati katâvakâso kho 'mhi bhagavatâ dhammadesanâyâ 'ti bhagavantam abhivâdetvâ padakkhiwaw katvâ tatth' ev' antaradhâyi.
The parallel passage in Lalita-vistara, p. 520, 19 seq., has:
apâvritâs teshâm 1 amritasya dvârâ
Brahmann iti 2 satatam ye srotavantah,
pravisanti sraddhâ na vihethasaâ
srinvanti dharmam Magadheshu sattvâh.
Atha khalu Sikhî Mahâbrahmâ Tathâgatasyâdhivâsanâm viditvâ tushta udagra âttamanâ pramuditah prîtisaumanasyagâtas Tathâgatasya pâdau srirasâbhivanditvâ tatraivântaradhât.
At the meeting of the Âgîvaka monk Upaka and the Buddha, the latter is represented as having pronounced the following slokas (Mahâvagga I, 6, 8 and 9) :
na me âkariyo atthi, sadiso me na viggati, sadevakasmim lokasmim n' atthi me paripuggalo. aham hi arahâ loke, aham satthâ, anuttaro, eko 'mhi sammâsambuddho, sltibhtito 'smi nibbuto. mâdisâ ve Ginâ honti ye pattâ âsavakkhayam, gitâ me pâpakâ dhammâ tasmâham Upaka 3 gino.
Materially the same slokas, albeit in somewhat different arrangement, occur Lalita-vistara, p. 536, 22 seq., as being spoken at the same meeting:
âkâryo nahi me kaskit, sadmo me na vidyate,
eko 'ham asmi sambuddhah, stibhtito nirâsravah.
aham evâham 4 loke sâstâ hy aham anuttaraA,
sadevâsuragandharve nisti me pratipudgalah 5 .
Read tesham, if not tesam, because a contraction of am and a following vowel into one syllable is as common as one of âm is unheard of.
These words do not suit the metre, and have undoubtedly been transposed from their original place, which they have kept in the Pâli text.
Rather Upakâ, a common Prâkrit form of the vocative case. See Sukhâvatl-vyuha, p. xi, in Anecdota Oxoniensia, Aryan Series, vol. i, part ii.
Read aham evâraham (Sanskrit arhan).
The Calc. ed. has wrongly °dharvo and °puṅgalah. Ginâ hi mâdrisâ gñeyâ, ye prâptâ âsravakshayam, gitâ me pâpakâ dharmâs tenopa(ka) Gino [hy] aham.
The following verses, taken from Mahâvagga and Lalita-vistara l. c., have likewise the same origin, notwithstanding some variations:
dhammakakkam pavattetum gakkhâmi Kâsinam puram, andhabhûtasmi lokasmim âhañhi amatadudrabhim.
Vârânasîm gamishyâmi gatvâ vai Kâsikâm purîm, andhabhûtasya lokasya kartâsmy asadrisîm prabhâm. Vârânâsîm gamishyâmi gatvâ vai Kâsikâm purîm, sabdahînasya lokasya tâdayishye 'mritadundubhim. Vârânasîm gamishyâmi gatvâ vai Kâsikâm purîm, dharmakakram pravartishye lokeshv aprativartitam.
An important passage on the divine sight of the Buddha in Lalita-vistara, p. 439 seq., almost literally occurs in the Sâmaññaphala-Sutta, as has been pointed out by Burnouf.
These few examples I have chosen will suffice to prove that the material of a Mahâvaipulya Sûtra is partly as old as that of any other sacred book of the Buddhists. The language of the prose part of those Sûtras does not differ from that used in the simple Sûtras of the Northern canon. Should the Sanskrit text prove to be younger than the Pâli text, then we may say that we do not possess the Northern tradition in its original shape. That result, however, affords no criterion for the distinction between the simple Sûtras and the Mahâvaipulya Sûtras, for both are written in the very same Sanskrit, if we except the Gâthâs.
It would lead me too far, were I to enter into the heart of the question which of the three idioms, Sanskrit, Pâli, and the so-called Gâthâ dialect, was the oldest scriptural language of the Buddhists, and I will therefore confine myself to a few remarks. In the first place it will be granted that the same person cannot have uttered any speech or stanza in two languages at the same time, and, further, that he is not likely to have spoken Sanskrit, when expressing himself in prose, and to have had recourse to a mere dialect, when speaking in poetry. One need not suppose that the common and every-day language of the god Brahma and the Buddha was Pâli or Prâkrit, in order to call it an absurdity that those persons would have spoken prose in Sanskrit and poetry in the Gâthâ dialect, such as we find in some passages already quoted and in many others. Nor is it absurd, even if we do not believe that Pâli is the original language of scripture, to contend that the Sanskrit text of the canonical works is at any rate a translation from some dialect. If the Sanskrit text of the Northern Sûtras, in general, were the original one, it would be impossible to account for occasional mistranslations and for the fact that the most palpable dialect forms have been left untouched, whenever the passage by being Sanskritised would have been spoilt. A striking instance is afforded in Lalita-vistara, p. 145. There we read that the pronouncing of the letter tha of the Indian alphabet is to be brought in connection with the word thapanîyaprasna, i.e. a question that should be avoided, set aside, Pâli thapanîyapañho. Here the context absolutely opposed itself to the Pâli or Prâkrit thapanîya being rendered by the Sanskrit sthâpanîya, because the initial syllable of this form could not be made to agree with the letter tha. On the same page of the Lalista-vistara we also meet with a word airapatha, the initial syllable of which must needs harmonise with the diphthong ai, so that airapatha did not admit of being Sanskritised into âryapatha. From the occurrence of this airapatha I infer that the original text was composed in some kind of Prâkrit, and not in regular Pâli, because the latter has lost both the primary and secondary diphthong ai, though it may be asked whether forms such as kayira (Sansk. kârya), payirupâsati (Sansk. paryupâsati), and the like are anything else but instances of inaccurate spelling. This much is certain that thaira occurs in the inscriptions of Asoka, and in these the diphthong cannot but have the value of a short a followed by i.
If we eliminate the Sanskrit, there remain two dialects, Pâli and the Gâthâ idiom. Which of the two can lay claim to being the original language of the Buddhist scriptures or is the nearest approach to it? Pâli is intelligible in its phonetics, the Gâthâs are not. Under ordinary circumstances the comparatively greater regularity of Pâli would tend to favour its claims; the case before us is, however, so peculiar that it is not safe to draw inferences from the state in which the Gâthâs have come to us. It seems to me that the verses in the Northern books in general, as well as the prose of the Mahâvastu, have been Sanskritised to a large extent, so that they ought to be restored, as much as possible, to a more primitive form, before a comparison with Pâli can lead to satisfactory results. When we come across such words as hesthâd (Sansk. adhastâd), gunebhih, &c., we easily perceive that these forms are more primitive than Pâli hetthâ, gunehi; but what warrant have we of such forms being really in use at the time when the Gâthâs were composed, if we observe that in a verse, Lalita-vistara 53, the syllable bhih is reckoned as a short one in the words gunebhih pratipûrna? In short, in their present state the Gâthâs afford no conclusive evidence that the language in which they were composed is older than Pâli.
Whatever may have been the phonetic aspect of the oldest standard dialect of the Buddhists, its vocabulary is unmistakably closely related to that of the Satapatha-brâhmana. The coincidences are so striking that the interval separating the younger parts of the Satapatha and the beginnings of Buddhist literature can hardly be supposed to have been very great. Among those coincidences I cite sarvâvat, a word which as yet has not been discovered in the whole range of Sanskrit literature except Satap. XIV, 7, 1, 10, and in Northern Buddhist writings, as well as in Pâli (sabbâvâ). The ἂπαξ λεγόμενον ekoti Satap. XII, a, 2, 4 recurs in ekoti-bhâva, Lalita-vistara, p. 147, 8; p. 439, 6; Pâli ekodi-bhâva. The expression samîrita in the sense of 'equipped, furnished with' occurs in Satapatha thrice, in Atharva-veda once, in Saddharma-pundarîka several times, e.g. in pattaghantâsamîrita, chap. xxii. We may add the Prâkritism iñg in samiñgayati, Brihad-âranyaka VI, 4, 23, the usual form in Buddhist works in Sanskrit, Gâthâ dialect, and Pâli; further manku, Satap. V, 5, 4, 11; manda in the compound naumanda, Satap. II. 3, 3, 15 ; cf. bodhi-manda. An archaic trait in the stanzas is the expletive use of the particle u, e.g. in teno, yeno, tasyo, adyo, for tena, yena, tasya, adya. Both in prose and poetry we meet with no, sometimes in the sense of Sansk. no, which etymologically of course is identical with it, at other times in that of Sansk. na. An analogous case is Sansk. atho, almost imperceptibly differing from atha. Perhaps the most curious of similar forms in the Gâthâs is ko, in meaning exactly coinciding with ka; this ko I take to be the older form of the Mâgadhî ku in the Asoka edicts.
From the occurrence of peculiar old words and forms we may draw inferences as to the age of certain compositions in ordinary cases; but it is not safe to apply the same test, if there is sufficient reason to suppose that the work, the date of which we wish to determine, has been carefully moulded upon time-honoured models. In such a case new words prove a good deal1, old ones next to nothing. Therefore it would be an abuse of the argument ex silentioto infer from the total absence of such new words in our Saddharma-pundarika that the bulk of the Sutra must date from the earlier period of Buddhism.
I had already occasion to notice that the two versions, the prose and the metrical one, in our Sutra show here and there material discrepancies. The question arises to which of the two we must award the palm of priority. Repeatedly, both in prose and poetry, the Sutra is spoken of as consisting of stanzas; e. g. chap, vii, st 82; chapters x and xxii in the prose portion, several times. As the term of stanza (gâthâ), for aught I know, is never used to denote a certain number of syllables, there is a strong presumption that the ancient text consisted of verses, with an admixture of short prose passages serving as introduction or to connect the more solemn poetical pieces. The idea to expand such passages into a regular prose version would especially recommend itself at a period when the poetical dialect began to become obsolete and obscure. Without being a formal commentary, the prose version would yet tend to elucidate the older holy text.
It will not be objected that, because not all chapters in the Saddharma-pundarika have a poetical version added, the original cannot have been a poem. For the chapters containing but one version, viz. xxi, xxii, xxiii, xxv, and xxvi, show decided traces of being later additions; and as to the final chapter, it may be held to be a moderate amplification of a short prose epilogue. In contending that the original text of our Sutra was probably, in the main, a work in metrical form, I do not mean to say that the poetical version in all the chapters must be
As e.g. the word dtnâra in the Asoka Avadâna; the passage on the Greeks Yonâs, in Assalâyana Sutta (ed. Pischel), p. 10 ; cf. the editor's remark, p. 6; the word karama for kalama, calamus to write with, in Kâranda-vyuha (Calc. ed.), p. 69. considered to be prior to the prose1. The Gathas of the Saddharma-puWarika are nowhere very brilliant, but in some chapters they are so excessively clumsy and mechanically put together that involuntarily we are led to the assumption of their having been made by persons to whom the old dialect was no longer familiar. The stanzas, e. g. in chapters xi and xiv, are abominable in form, and unusually silly; those in chap, xxiv are a pattern of mechanical verse-making, and give the impression as if they were intended rather to stultify than to edify the credulous reader. Now it is a curious fact that in a Chinese preface to the translation of our Sutra by Gw&nagupta and Dharmagupta, A.D. 6oi 2 , we meet with the following notice: 'The omission of the G4th4s in No. 134, chaps. 12 and 25 s , have since been filled in by some wise men, whose example I wish to follow V
Here we have a direct proof that the G4thls of some chapters have been added in later times. Had we similar notices concerning all the chapters in which the G&this are of a comparatively modern date, and could we prove that the prose of such chapters belongs to a later period, then the supposition of the ancient text of the Saddharma-pu/fc/arika having been in the main a metrical one would seem to lose in strength. For, reasoning by analogy, one might say that just as some later chapters have notoriously been enriched with a metrical version in later times, so the ancient parts also will have gradually received their G&th&s. Still the fact remains that those chapters in which the metrical portion is wanting clearly belong to a later period, so that it is questionable whether their case is entirely analogous to that of the more ancient part of the whole work.
Isolated stanzas, as in chapters xxii, xxv, and elsewhere, are wholly left out of question.
Catalogue of the Tripi/aka (Oxford), by Mr. Bunyiu Nanjio ; Sutra Pifeka, col. 45.
In the English translation chapters xi and xxiv.
Another notice in the above-mentioned Catalogue, col. 44, runs thus: 'The portion of prose' (of chap, xxiv) 'was translated by Kumaragiva, of the latter Tshin dynasty, A.D. 384-417; and that of Gathas by G&anagupta, of the Northern JTeu dynasty, a.d. 557-589.' So it seems that the Gathds have been added, and, not unlikely, been composed, between 417 and 557 A.D. At present we are far from the ultimate end which critical research has to reach; we are not able to assign to each part of our Sfltra its proper place in the development of Buddhist literature. We may feel that compositions from different times have been collected into a not very harmonious whole; we may even be able to prove that some passages are as decidedly ancient as others are modern, but any attempt to analyse the compound and lay bare its component parts would seem to be premature. Under these circumstances the inquiry after the date of the work resolves itself into the question at what time the book received its present shape.
There exist, as it is well known, various Chinese translations of the Saddharma-putfdarlka, or parts of it, the dates of which are well ascertained. The above-mentioned Catalogue by Mr. Bunyiu Nanjio affords some valuable information about the subject, from which I borrow the following particulars1:
The oldest Chinese translation, known by the title of Kan-fâ-hwâ-kin, is from Ku Fâ-hu (Dharmaraksha), of the Western Tsin dynasty, A.D. 365-316; in 28 chapters2.
Equally old is an incomplete translation entitled S4-th4n- fan-tho-li-^ih, of an unknown author.
Next in time comes the Miclo-tfl-lien-hw4-£in, by Kumâragiva, of the latter Tshin dynasty, A.D. 384-417. It agrees with the Tibetan version, and contains 28 chapters. Of one chapter (xxiv in the Nepalese MSS. and the English translation) Kum&ra^iva translated the prose only; the Gâthâs were rendered by GViânagupta, of the Northern Keu dynasty, A.D. 557-589.
The last translation in order of time, entitled Thien-phin-mido-fcl-lien-hwd-^ih, is from GVfenagupta and Dharmagupta, A.D. 601, of the Sui dynasty; in 37 chapters.
We see that the older translations — and, consequently, their originals — counted one chapter more than our MSS.
Sutra Pi/aka, col. 44 seqq.
In S. Beal, The Buddhist Tripi/aka, p. 14, the name of the author Ku. Fa- hu (Chu-fa-hu) is identified with Dharmagupta.
Cf. Beal, Buddhist Tripi/aka, p. 15. The difference, however, does not affect the contents of the whole, because the matter divided over chapters 11 and 12 of the older translations is contained in chap. xi of our texts and the latest Chinese version. The order of the chapters is the same in all the texts, both original and translated, up to chap. xx (=21 older division); the discrepancies first begin at chap. xxi, on Dhâranîs. The subjoined comparative table, to begin with the chapter on Dhâranîs, exhibits the order of the last seven chapters in the various texts. The first column refers to the Nepalese MSS. and the Chinese translation by Gñânagupta and Dharmagupta; the second to the oldest Chinese translation; the third to that of Kumâragîva.
1 . . . . 4 . . . . 5
2 . . . . 1 . . . . 2
3 . . . . 2 . . . . 3
4 . . . . 3 . . . . 4
5 . . . . 5 . . . . 6
6 . . . . 6 . . . . 7
7 . . . . 7 . . . . 1
A glance at this table will suffice to convince us that chapters xxi-xxvi (i-6) are of later growth, if we bear in mind that the order of the chapters down to the Dhâranîs is the same in all sources. This result is quite in harmony with what we would have guessed upon internal grounds. The last chapter, entitled Dharmaparyâya, must, from its very nature, have been the close, the epilogue of the whole. In the Chinese translation of Kumâragîva it occurs, as the table shows, immediately after chap. xx, by itself a clear indication that xxi-xxvi are later additions. It is somewhat strange that in the older translation of Ku Fâ-hu the Dharmaparyâya has already taken its place after the additional matter, but this may be explained on the supposition that Kumâragîva, though living in a later time, made use of ancient manuscripts. However that may be, I think that the following facts may be held to be established, both from internal and external evidence:
1. The more ancient text of the Saddharma-pundarîka contained 21 chapters and an epilogue, i.e. the matter of chaps, i-xx and of chap, xxvii; 2. The later additions, excepting probably some verses, had been connected with the work, in the way of Parisishtas or Addenda, about 250 A.D. or earlier. As the book, along with the Parisishtas, already existed some time before 250 A.D., we may safely conclude that the more ancient text in 21 chapters, the epilogue included, dates some centuries earlier. Greater precision is for the present impossible.
We know that a commentary on the Saddharma-pundarîka was composed by Vasubandhu. The date of that work, not yet recovered, it seems, must fall between 550 and 600 A.D., or at least not much earlier, for Vasubandhu's pupil Gunaprabha became the Guru of the famous Srî-Harsha, alias Sîlâditya, king of Kanauj, the friend of Hiouen Thsang. The latter often mentions Vasubandhu and some of that great doctor's writings, as well as Gunaprabha. As both worthies at the time of Hiouen Thsang's visiting India had already departed this life, and Vasubandhu must have been at least one generation older than Gunaprabha, we cannot be far amiss in assigning to Vasubandhu's commentary the date above specified.
It appears from the above-mentioned preface to the Chinese translation of A.D. 601, that the text-differences in the MSS. current in those days were more important than such as we observe in the Nepalese MSS. from 1000 A.D. downward, with which the Tibetan closely agree. The Chinese preface is so interesting that it is worth while to copy a passage from it as quoted in the Catalogue of the Tripitaka:
'The translations of Ku Fd-hu, No. 138, and Kum&ragiva, No. 134, are most probably made from two different texts. In the repository of the Canon, I (the author of the preface) have seen two texts (or copies of the text, of the Saddharma-pufti/arika); one is written on the palm leaves, and the other in the letters of Kwei-tsz', or Khara£ar, Kum&ra^tva's maternal country. The former text exactly agrees with No. 138, and the latter with No. 134. No. 138 omits only the Gith4s of the Samantamukha-parivarta, chap. 24. But No. 134 omits half of the Oshadhi-parivarta, chap. 5, the beginning of the Pa/i^abhikshu^ata-vydkara^a-parivarta, chap. 8, and that of the Saddharmabh4tfaka-parivarta, chap. 10, and the G&th&s of the Devadatta-parivarta, chap. i2 a , and those of the Samantamukha-parivarta, chap. 25. Moreover, No. 134 puts the Dharmapary&ya-parivarta (the last chapter of the Stitra) before the Bhaishs^yarcljga-parivarta, chap. 23. Nos. 138 and 134 both place the Dh&ra«t-parivarta next to the Samantamukha-parivarta, chaps. 24 and 25 respectively. Beside these, there are minor differences between the text and translation. The omission of the G&th&s in No. 134, chaps. 12 and 25, have since been filled in by some wise men, whose example I wish to follow. In the first year of the ^an-sheu period, A.D. 601, I, together with GVi&nagupta and Dharmagupta, have examined the palm-leaf text, at the request of a *Srama«a, Sh&n-hhin, and found that the beginning of two chapters, 8th and 10th, are also wanting in the text (though No. 138 contains them). Nevertheless we have increased a half of the 5th chapter, and put the 1 2th chapter into the nth, and restored the Dh&ra/*t-parivarta and Dharmapary&ya-parivarta to their proper order, as chaps. 21 and 27. There are also some words and passages which have been altered (while the greater
Sûtra Pitaka, col. 45.
In the Nepalese MSS. and the European translations the latter part of chap. xi. part of No. 134 is retained). The reader is requested not to have any suspicion about these differences.'
According to the opinion of an eminent Chinese scholar, the late Stanislas Julien, the translation of Kumlra^iva widely differs from Burnoufs. He gives utterance to that opinion in a letter dated June 12, 1866, and addressed to Professor Max Muller, to whose obliging kindness it is due that I am able to publish a specimen of Kum&ra^iva's version rendered into French by Stanislas Julien. The fragment answers to the stanzas 1-22 of chap. iii. As it is too long to be inserted here, I give it hereafter on page xl.
On comparing the fragment with the corresponding passages in Burnouf's French translation and the English version in this volume, the reader cannot fail to perceive that the discrepancies between the two European versions are fewer and of less consequence than between each of them and Kumlra^- iva's work. It is hardly to be supposed that the text used by Kumin^*iva can have differed so much from ours, and it seems far more probable that he has taken the liberty, for clearness sake, to modify the construction of the verses, a literal rendering whereof, it must be owned, is impossible in any language. It is a pity that Stanislas Julien has chosen for his specimen a fragment exclusively consisting of G&th&s. A page in prose would have been far more useful as a test of the accuracy of the Chinese version.
Proceeding to treat of the contents of our Stitra, I begin by quoting the passage where Burnouf, in his usual masterly way, describes the general character of the book and the prominent features of the central figure in it. The illustrious French scholar writes:
'Là, comme dans les SQtras simples, c'est £&kya qui est le plus important, le premier des £tres ; et quoique l'imagination du compilateur Tait dou6 de toutes les perfections de science et de vertu admises chez les Buddhistes; quoique £&kya revete d6)k un caract&re mythologique, quand il declare qu'il y a longtemps qu'il remplit les devoirs d'un Buddha, et qu'il doit les remplir longtemps encore, malgr6 sa mort prochaine, laquelle ne d^truit pas son £ternit£; quoiqu'enfin on le repr^sente errant de son corps des Buddhas qui sont comme les images et les reproductions id^ales de sa personne mortelle, nulle part £&kyamuni n'est nommd Dieu ; nulle part il ne refoit le titre d'Adi-buddha.'
To this I have nothing to object, only something to add. It is perfectly true that S&kya does not receive the simple title of Deva; why? Because that title is far too poor for so exalted a personage who is the Dev&tideva, the paramount god of gods. So he is called in the Lotus, chap, vii, st. 31 and innumerable times in the whole range of Buddhist literature, both in P&li and Sanskrit 2 . It is further undeniable that the title of Adibuddha does not occur in the Lotus, but it is intimated that S&kya is identical with Adibuddha in the words: 'From the very beginning (ddita eva) have I roused, brought to maturity, fully developed them (the innumerable Bodhisattvas) to be fit for their Bodhisattva position. It is only by accommodation that he is called Adibuddha, he properly being an4di, i.e. existing from eternity, having no beginning. The Buddha most solemnly declares (chap, xv) that he reached Bodhi an immense time ago, not as people fancy, first at Gayd. From the whole manner in which Skkya speaks of his existence in former times, it is perfectly clear that the author wished to convey the meaning that the Lord had existed from eternity, or, what comes to the same, from the very beginning, from time immemorial, &c.
S&kya has not only lived an infinite number of iEons in the past, he is to live for ever. Common people fancy that he entecs Nirv&wa, but in reality he only makes a show of Nirviwa out of regard for the weakness of men. He, the
Bumonfs rendering is 'De*va sope'rieur aux DeVas.'
Less frequent than devatideva is the synonymous devadhideva, e.g. Lalitavistara, p. 131; essentially the same is the term sarvadevottama, the highest of all gods, ib. p. 144. Father of the world 1 , the Self-born One, the Chief and Saviour 2 of creatures, produces a semblance of Nirv4«a, whenever he sees them given to error and folly 8 . In reality his being is not subject to complete Nirv&//a ; it is only by a skilful device that he makes a show of it ; and repeatedly he appears in the world of the living, though his real abode is on the summit of the Grzdhraku&t. All this is, in other words, the teaching of N4r4ya«a in Bhagavad-gitA IV, 6 seqq.:
Ago 'pi sann avyay4tm4 bhut&n&m favaro 'pi san,
prskritim sv&m adhish^Adya sambhav&my £tmamdyay4.
yad&-yad& hi dharmasya glanir bhavati, Bh&rata,
abhyutthcUiam adharmasya tad&tm&naw srigkmy aham.
paritr4#4ya s&dhun&w vinlr&ya ka. dushkrzt&m,
dharmasawsth&panirthiya sambhavimi yuge-yuge.
The Buddha is anthropomorphic, of course; what god is not? The Lotus, far from giving prominence to the unavoidable human traits, endeavours as much as possible to represent the Lord and his audience as superhuman beings. In chap, xiv there is a great pause, as in a drama, of no less than fifty intermediate kalpas, during which S&kyamuni and all his hearers keep silence. A second pause of iooo, or according to a various reading, 100,000 years is held in chap. xx. Now it is difficult to conceive that any author, wilfully and ostentatiously, would mention such traits if he wished to impress the reader with the notion that the narrative refers to human beings.
It will not be necessary to multiply examples. There is, to my comprehension, not the slightest doubt that the
Cf. Krishna declaring of himself in Bhagavad-gtta IX, 17: Pitaham ^agato mata dhata*pitamahaA.
Cf. XI, 43. The significant title of Pitamaha is given to Buddha in an inscription found at Dooriya (Bitha); Cunningham, Archaeol. Survey, vol. iii, pi. xviii ; cf. p. 48.
Like Narayana in Bhagavad-gtta XII, 7: Tesham aham samuddharta mr/tyusamsarasagarat.
Chap. xv, st. 21. Saddharma-ptwfc/arika intends to represent £&kya as the supreme being, as the god of gods, almighty and all-wise. But what have we to understand by the words 'god' and 'god of gods?' that is the question. To find the answer let us recall to memory the theosophic notions prevailing in ancient India at certain periods.
In general it may be said that the Upanishads recognise two supreme beings, which in a mystical way are somehow identified; one is the great illuminator of the macrocosm, and is sometimes called the Sun, at other times Ether; the other, the enlightener of the microcosm, is Mind or Reasonl. As soon as the Sun ceased to be considered an animate being or to be represented as such, he might continue, for worships sake, honoris causi, to be called the highest god; the really remaining deity was Reason, poetically termed the inward light. This idea is expressed by NilakantAa. in his commentary on Bhagavad-glt& V, 14, in the following terms: Prabhuj £id&tm& sflrya iv4smad&din4m prakajakaA, the Lord (is) the intelligent Self that like a sun is the illuminator of ourselves and others 2 . Now the same author, in his notes on Bhagavad-git4 VI, 30, distinctly states that our inward consciousness, or as he puts it, the pratyag&tman, the individual Self, otherwise called £*iva, is N£r&ya#a, i.e. the supreme being. At IX, 28 he paraphrases N&r4ya#a by sarvesh&m pratyag&tman, the individual consciousness of all (sentient beings); at. XII, 14 he identifies N&rAya»a with nirgu«am brahma. Just as here and there N&r&yafta is represented as clad in all the glory and majesty of a sovereign, as the illuminator, the vivifier of the world, in one word as the sun, so we find *S«Mcyamuni invested with all the grandeur and all the resources of a ruler of nature. Philosophically, both N&riyana, and his counterpart 5&kyamuni are purushottama, param&tman, the highest brahman, Mind. 5&kyamuni
See e. g. fAdndogya-upanishad III, 18 and 19 ; cf. Bhagavad-gtta XV, 12.
Cf. Bhagavad-gfti XIII, 33: yathl prak&sayaty ekaA kn'tsnam lokam imam ravifr, kshetram kshetrf tatha kn'tsnam prak&sayati, Bharata. The kshetra here is the body, the kshetrin is Mind, Reason, Htm an. Cf. £ankara on UTAandogya-upanishad, L c 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, others by acknowledging a personal god. 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' Buddhism, it is not here the place to discuss. So far as the Northern Church is concerned, the book must be acknowledged as the very cream of orthodoxy; it is the last, the supreme, the most sublime of the Stitras exposed by the Lord; it is, so to say, the jiroma«i, the crown jewel, of all Stitras.
The contents of the separate chapters into which the Stitra is divided may be described, summarily, as follows:
2. Awakening of the Lord from his mystic trance; display of his transcendent skilfulness, proved by the apparent trinity of vehicles, whereas in reality there is but one vehicle.
3. Prophecy of the Lord regarding the future destiny of S&riputra, his eldest son. Second turn of the wheel of the law on that occasion, with incidental commemoration of the first turn near Benares. Parable of the burning house, to exemplify the skill of the good father in saving his children from the burning pains of mundane existence.
4. Another parable, exemplifying the skill of the wise father in leading a child that has gone astray and lost all self-respect back to a feeling of his innate nobility and to happiness.
5. Parable of the plants and the rain, to exemplify the impartiality and equal care of the Lord for all creatures. Parable of the blind man, to intimate that the phenomena have but an apparent reality, and that the ultimate goal of all endeavours must be to reach all-knowingness, which in fact is identical with complete nescience.
6. Sundry predictions as proofs of the power of the Sugata to look into the future.
7. He has an equal knowledge of the remotest past ; his remembrance of the turning of the wheel by the Tath&gata Mah4bh^/?c^7*4n4bhibh(l. Edifying history of the sixteen sons of the said Tath£gata. 8. Prophecy regarding five hundred Arhats.
9. Prophecy concerning Ananda, Rdhula, and the two thousand monks.
10. The Lord teaches how pious preachers of the law, who will come in after-times, ought to be duly honoured, and promises that he will always protect the ministers of religion.
11. Display of the miraculous power of S&kyamuni shown in the appearance of a Sttipa, which, being opened by him, discloses to sight the frame of the expired Tath&gata Prabhfitaratna, who is desirous of hearing the exposition of the Lotus of the True Law. How 5&kyamuni in a former birth strove to acquire the Lotus. His great obligations to Devadatta. Episode of the wise daughter of the Ocean and her change of sex.
12. Prediction to Gautaml, Ya^odhar4, and the nuns in their train. Promise of the host of disciples and Bodhisattvas to take up the difficult task of preaching the holy word in days to come, after the Lord's Nirvi^a.
13. Vocation of the ministers of religion, and practical rules for their conduct in and out of society. Parable of the king who rewards his valiant warriors; in the same manner the Buddha will reward those who struggle for his sake, by bestowing upon them all kinds of favours, at last the most valuable of his boons — eternal rest.
14. Splendid phantasmagory of innumerable Bodhisattvas evoked by the creative power of the Lord. Long pause, during which the Tathigata and the four classes of hearers are silent. Perplexity of Maitreya on hearing that the innumerable Bodhisattvas have all been the pupils of the Lord.
15. The Buddha explains the fact by revealing the immense duration of his lifetime, in the past and the future.
16. Meritoriousness of the belief in the immense duration of the Tathclgatas and all those who have once become Buddhas.
17. The Lord details the great merit attending a ready acceptance of the preaching of the law.
18. Exposition of the advantages, worldly and spiritual, enjoyed by the ministers of religion.
19. Story of Sad&paribhtita, exemplifying the superiority of simple-mindedness and pure-heartedness to worldly * wisdom and scepticism.
20. Grand show exhibited by the two Tath&gatas S&kyamuni and Prabhfltaratna conjointly. Pause after the performance. After the pause a great stir amongst gods, celestial and infernal beings, men, &c. The Tathdgata extols the SGtra of the Lotus in which 'all Buddha-laws are succinctly taught,' as well as the keepers of this most eminent of Sfltras.
Immediately after this chapter may have followed, in the oldest version, the epilogue entitled 'Period of the Law ;' the reasons for this opinion have been already stated above. The supposed additional chapters contain the following topics, briefly indicated :
21. Efficacy of talismanic spells (Dh&ra/ris).
22. Self-sacrifice of the Bodhisattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana, otherwise called Bhaish^gyar^a. Glorification of the Lotus as the most eminent of Stitras.
23. Visit ofjhc Bodhisattva Gadgadasvara to the Saha-world. Extraordinary qualities and achievements of this worthy, incidentally narrated by the Tathigata. Return of the Bodhisattva to whence he came.
24. Grandeur and ubiquitousness of Avalokitejvara.
25. Wonderful and edifying story of the conversion of the king .Subhavyfiha through the instrumentality of his two sons Vimalagarbha and Vimalanetra, al. Bhaish^yarS^a and Bhaishagyasamudgata.
26. The Bodhisattva Samantabhadra charges himself with the task of being a protector to the preachers of religion in after-times after the Lord's Nirvdwa This summary, however meagre, will be sufficient to show that there is no lack of variety in our Stitra. We may, indeed, be satisfied that the compilers of it intended giving an exposition of the principal truths of their religion in general, and of the peculiar tenets of their own system 1 in particular, the whole with anxious care arranged in such a form that the Stitra admitted of an exoterical and esoterical interpretation. It contains a revelation of the state of things in the present, as well as in the past and the future, a revelation derived from a virtually eternal source, so that the doctrine taught in it must be deemed valid not only for a certain spiritual brotherhood or church, but for the human race at large. The highest authority to whom the doctrine is referred, is not a certain individual having lived a short span of time somewhere in India, but the sublime being who has his constant abode on the Gr/dhraktite, i.e. he who ijv the terminology of other Indian creeds is called Kft/astha.
As a general rule it may be said that in such works of ancient Indian literature as are anonymous, we must distinguish between the authority and the author. In the Lotus we meet after the invocation in some MSS. the following distich:
Vaipulyastitrar^f am param4rthanay&vat&ranirderam I Saddharmapu#*/arikaw sattv&ya mah&patha/rc vakshye ti
I. e. 'I shall proclaim the king of the Vaipulya-stitras, that teacheth how one arrives at the (right) method of attaining the highest truth ; the Saddharma-pu^^arika, the great road (leading) to substantiality (being in abstracto).' The person here speaking is not the Buddha, who is neither the author nor the writer of the work. Have we then to ascribe the distich to one of the ancient copyists? Burnouf decidedly thinks so, and his opinion is corroborated by the fact that the verses do not occur in all MSS. I must con-
in the latter it is the Lord himself who promises to be in future the protector of the preachers.
I.e. of the Mahay£na, which according to T&ran&tha, Geschichte des Buddhismus, p. 274, stands above the division of the Bauddhas into various schools. 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, 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 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, 'as summarised in the theory of Bodisatship, is the key-note of the later school, just as Arahatship is the key-note of early Buddhism.' The Mahiy&na doctors said in effect: 'We grant you all you say about the bliss of attaining Nirv<l«a in this life. But it produces advantage only to yourselves; and according to your own theory there will be a necessity for Buddhas in the future as much as there has been for Buddhas in the past. Greater, better, nobler then, than the attainment of Arahatship must be the attainment of Bodisatship from a desire to save all living creatures in the ages that will come.' The teaching of the Lotus, however, is different, and comes to this, that every one should try to become a Buddha. It admits that from a practical point of view one may distinguish three means, so-called Vehicles, y&nas, to attain the summum bonum, Nirv4«a, although in a higher sense there is only one Vehicle. These means are, in plain language, piety, philosophy or rather Yogism, and striving for the enlightenment and weal of our fellow-creatures ; these means are designated by the terms of Vehicle of (obedient) hearers or disciples, of Pratyekabuddhas, and of Bodhisattvas. Higher than piety is true and self-acquired knowledge of the eternal laws; higher than knowledge is devoting oneself to the spiritual weal of others. The higher unity embracing the three separate Vehicles is the Buddha-vehicle.
The title of Bodhisattva is not always used in the same acceptation. Apart from a broad distinction we can draw between human and superhuman Bodhisattvas 1 — the latter are here left out of account — we find sometimes the word applied to those persons who in the passage of our Sutra alluded to are styled Sr&vakas, hearers, learners. This appears to be the case at least in Nep&l, as we know from the following passage 2 : ' The Buddha is the adept in the wisdom of Buddhism (Bodhijndna), whose first duty, so long as he remains on earth, is to communicate his wisdom to those who are willing to receive it. These willing learners are the "Bodhisattvas," so called from their hearts being inclined to the wisdom of Buddhism, and " Sanghas," from their companionship with one another, and with their Buddha or teacher, in the vihdras or ccenobitical esta- blishments. The Bodhisattva or Sangha continues to be such until he has surmounted the very last grade of that vast and laborious ascent by which he is instructed that he can "scale the heavens," and pluck immortal wisdom from its resplendent source : which achievement performed, he becomes a Buddha, that is, an Omniscient Being.'
Here the Bodhisattvas are plainly distinguished from the ccenobitical monks; they are so likewise in the Lotus 3 , in which we find them also in the function of learned or wise men (Panrfitas), of preachers or ministers of religion. Wassiljew Lc. remarks about the Bodhisattva — the terrestrial one of course — that 'from one side, he seems to be the substitute of the ancient Bhikshu'/ from which we ought not to infer that the mendicant monks, as such, ceased to exist, for that is notoriously not the case, but that the Bodhisattvas were charged with the office of preaching. They are persons who deserve to be honoured both by mendicant monks and lay devotees 4 , and formed, it would seem, a kind of learned clergy, not to be confounded, however, with the modern Vs^ra-Aifcclryas or married clergymen in Nep&l. There is reason to suppose that one of the
Cf. Wassiljew, Buddhismus, p. 1 24.
B. H. Hodgson, Essays, p. 6a. Cf. Stanislas Julien, Voyages des Pelerins bouddhistes, II, p. 436 note.
See especially the whole of chapter x.
Lotus, chap, x, st. 27 seq. C 2 honorific titles given to the preachers or interpreters of the law was 'wise' or 'learned man,' Pandita, for the word is so often applied to them that it looks more like a title than a common epithet. Târanâtha knows Pandita to be a title, and considers it to be the equivalent of the older Mahâbhadanta; he distinguishes 'Bodhisattvas' from 'common Panditas' and 'Arhats.' How does this agree with the data in the Lotus? As it has been intimated in a foregoing note, the three Vehicles are imitations of three Âsramas or stages in the model life of an Ârya, in the first place of a Brâhman. The stages are that of a student, of a hermit living in the forest, and of a Sannyâsin, Yati, or Mukta, who has wholly given up the world. The second stage, that of a householder, does not exist, of course, for those who vow themselves to a monastic life. Our Sûtra does not prescribe that the three stages must be gone through by the same persons, no more than the Bhagavad-gîtâ l.c. requires that one should pass the stages of study, knowledge, and meditation before resolving upon complete renunciation (tyâga); what follows from the context is only this, that the Vehicle of Bodhisattvas, alias those who strive for the weal of all creatures, is superior to the two preceding Vehicles. The Vehicle of the Bodhisattvas being the loftiest of the three, they themselves must be considered as occupying the highest rank. Now Târanâtha places the Arhats above them, and with the Nepalese also the first class of the monastic order is that of Arhat. The question is, how are we to judge of the relation between Arhats and Bodhisattvas in the Lotus? As far as I am able to see, the compiler of the Sûtra describes facts, or supposed facts, which he knew from oral or literary tradition, as having occurred in the past, whereas the actual state of things in his own time and shortly before is represented as that of the future. His Arhats are sages of the past, canonized saints; his human Bodhisattvas are sages, wise men of the present, most reverend worthies who should live a saintly life and generally do so, but who, however sanctimonious, are not acknowledged saints. Of an antagonism between Arhats and Bodhisattvas there is no trace in the book; the Arhats being dead, they cannot be active; the Bodhisattvas as living persons, can. In a certain respect, then, the remark of Professor Rhys Davids holds good; the Bodhisattvas represent the ideal of spiritual activity, the Arhats of inactivity. It must be admitted that the Lotus, as a whole, breathes a less monastic and ascetic spirit; it does not go the length to speak of ascetism and mortification in such scornful terms as the Bhagavad-gîtâ does, but at the same time it never extols it. There are in the book many indications that the art of preaching was made much of and highly developed, and it may be supposed that a greater proficiency in hermeneutics combined with superior mental activity has enabled the Mahâyâna to supplant its rival, the Hînayâna, and to extend its spiritual conquests once from the snows of Siberia to the luxuriant islands of the Indian Archipelago.
After having touched upon such points in the text of the Saddharma-pundarîka as seemed to require more special notice, it behoves me to say a few words about the translation and its resources. In the first place, I must declare that I cannot speak in too warm terms of the benefit I have derived from the French translation by the illustrious Burnouf. I have taken that work throughout for my model, without having been able to reach its excellency. The material discrepancies between his translation are partly due to my having followed other MSS., partly to another interpretation, especially of frequently corrupt and difficult Gâthâs. If some reader not acquainted with the peculiar difficulties of those Gâthâs should wonder at the occurrence of numerous discrepancies, I would repeat the words of the preface to the Chinese version from A.D. 601, and request him 'not to have any suspicion about these differences.' Let him compare the fragment from Kumâragîva's rendering on page xl with the corresponding passages in the French and English translations, and he will observe that the difference between the work of the learned Buddhist of the fourth century and the two European versions is far more considerable than between the latter.
The base of my translation has been an old manuscript on palm leaves, belonging to Dr. D. Wright's collection, in the University Library of Cambridge. The manuscript is dated Newar, era 159 (=A.D. 1039), and was written in the reign of the king Kâmadeva (?), in the bright half of the month Vaisâkha, on a Thursday. It is one of the most ancient Sanskrit MSS. existing in Europe, and therefore I thought that it was advisable to follow its readings as much as possible, except in such passages as were evidently corrupt. A second MS., unfortunately incomplete, from the same collection, is of unknown date, since the latter part of the codex is lost; from the form of the characters it may be inferred that it is not much more modern than the other codex. The difference between both is not very great; yet there can be no doubt that the second MS. belongs to another family. The varietas lectionis is strikingly similar in kind to what we find in the different texts of the Vagrakkhedikâ, edited by Professor Max Müller.
The former manuscript has much in common with the London codices, from which Burnouf in the notes on his translation has derived numerous various readings; it stands farther off from the Paris MS. that has formed the base of Burnouf's version, but not so far as the second Cambridge MS., which shows the greatest number of peculiar readings. The text of chapter iv in Professor Foucaux's edition of the Parabole de l'enfant égaré is comparatively modern and bad. In general it may be said that all the known copies of the Saddharma-pundarîka are written with a want of care little in harmony with the holy character of the book.
Before closing this preface I beg to offer my sincere thanks to Professors William Wright and E. B. Cowell, at Cambridge, for the generous way in which they have enabled me to use the MSS. I wanted for my translation. My thanks are due also to the Council of Cambridge University and Mr. H. Bradshaw, for their readily complying with my wishes. To Professor Max Müller I owe a debt of gratitude for his kindly assisting me in my task in more than one respect, a debt which I am glad here openly to acknowledge.
J'ai entendu le son de cette loi
J'ai obtenu ce que je n'avais pas encore eu
Dans mon coeur, j'en ai con9u une grande joie.
Les filets des doutes ont tous disparu
Jadis, j'ai re9u les instructions du Buddha
Je n'ai pas perdu le grand ve'hicule.
Le son (la voix) du Buddha existe (s'entend) tres rarement. —
Elle peut de'truire les tourments d'esprit de tous les mortels. —
Moi, j'ai obtenu l'e'puisement (la d&ivrance complete) de mes fautes.
L'ayant entendue, j'ai 6t6 delivre' des chagrins et des tourments d'esprit
Moi, lorsque je demeure sur les montagnes (ou dans) les valines,
Ou bien au bas des arbres des for&s
Soit que je sois assis ou que je marche
Constamment, je pense a cette chose
Helas, je m'adresse de severes reproches
Je dis : pourquoi me trompe'-je moi-m£me ?
Nous autres, nous sommes aussi les fils du Bouddha
Nous sommes entre's ensemble dans la loi exempts d'imperfections.
Nous ne pourrons dans l'avenir
Expliquer cette loi sans supe'rieure (anuttaradharma).
Les trente deux couleur d'or (signes qui ont la couleur de Tor),
Les dix forces, les moyens de d&ivrance,
Se trouvent ensemble au sein de la loi unique
Et cependant je n'ai pu obtenir ces choses ;
Les quatre vingt signes de beaute*,
Les dix huit lois non-communes (a tous),
Les me'rites et les vertus de cette sorte
Moi, je les ai tous perdus.
Moi, lorsque je me promenais seul
J'ai vu le Bouddha au milieu de la grande multitude
Son nom, sa reputation remplissaient les dix contre'es
II comblait d'avantages toutes les creatures
Je pense en moi-mSme que j'ai perdu ce profit
Moi, parce que je me suis trompe* moi-mSme,
Constamment, jour et nuit
Chaque fois, je songe a cette chose
J'ai voulu demander a l'honorable du siecle
Louant et glorifiant les bddhisattvas
C'est pourquoi jour et nuit
J'examine murement une telle chose
Exempte d'imperfections et difficile a concevoir
Qui fait arriver la multitude a l'estrade de Intelligence (Bddhima«ia)
Moi, dans l'origine, j'&ais attache* aux vues perverses (a l'he're'sie)
J'&ais un maltre de Brahmatcharis
L'honorable du siecle connaissait mon coeur
Me tira de rhe*r£sie et me parla du Nirvana
Je me d^barrassai comple*tement des vues perverses (de l*he*r£sie);
Dans la loi du vide, j'obtins des te'moignages, des preuves (J'obtins la preuve que je comprenais la loi du vide)
Alors, je me dis a moi-m6me
Que j'avais obtenu d'arriver au Nirva*«a.
Mais maintenant je m'apercois
Que ce n'est pas le vrai Nirv£«a
Si, un jour, j'obtiens de devenir Bouddha
Et que je sois pourvu des trente deux signes de beaute
Les DSvas, les Yakchas
Les dragons, les esprits etc.
M'honoreront et me v£ne>eront
Dans ce temps la, je pourrai dire
Que pour toujours j'ai obtenu le Nirvina complet
Le Bouddha, dans la grande assemble
M'a dit que je devais devenir Bouddha
Quand j'eus entendu le son de cette loi
Mes doutes, mes regrets, comple'tement disparurent.
Au commencement, lorsque j'eus entendu ce que disait le Bouddha,
Au fond de mon cceur, je fus remplis d'&onnement et de doutes.
(Je me dis) Le d£mon n'aurait pas pris la figure du Bouddha
Pour troubler mon cœur?
Le Bouddha ayant employe* toute sorte de moyens
De comparaisons, de paroles et de discours habiles
Mon cœur devint calme comme la mer.
Quand je l'eus entendu, le filet de mes doutes se ddchira
Le Bouddha dit que dans les siecles passes
Des bouddhas sans nombre, qui ont obtenu le Nirv£«a
Reposaient en paix au milieu des moyens habiles
Et que tous avaient explique* cette loi
Que des bouddhas presents et futurs
Dont le nombre est infini
A l'aide de toute sorte de moyens habiles
Avaient explique* et d^veloppe' une telle loi
Maintenant, Honorable du siecle
Depuis que tu es ne* et que tu es sorti de la famille
Tu as obtenu de tourner la roue de la loi
Et de l'expliquer par des moyens habiles
L'Honorable du siecle a expose* la vraie voie.
Le Mara n'a pas fait cette chose (n'a pas pris la figure du Bouddha)
C'est pourquoi je sais fermement
Que le M&ra ne s'est pas de'guise* en Bouddha (litt ne s'est pas fait Bouddha).
Moi, a cause du filet des doutes auxquels je m'^tais abandonnd
Je m'e*tais dit que c'^tait une chose faite par le Mara (c. a. d. que le M£ra avait pris la figure du Bouddha)
Mais quand j'eus entendu sa voix douce et souple
Profonde, eloigned, extrSmement d£i6e
Expliquant la loi pure
Mon cceur a e*te* grandement rejoui. ;
Mes doutes ont pour toujours disparu
Je reside en paix au sein de la vraie science
D£cid£ment, je dois devenir Bouddha.
Je serai respecte* des D6vas
Je toumerai la roue de la loi sans-supe*rieure
J'instruirai et je convertirai les Bddhisattvas.
- B. H. Hodgson, Essays on the Language, Literature, and Religion of Nepál and Tibet, p. 13; cf. p. 49.
- As the Perfect Pragñâ is she who has produced all Tathâgatas, the mother of all Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Disciples (see Cowell and Eggeling, Catalogue of Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series, VIII, p. 3), we must infer that the work is chiefly intended to set forth the principia rerum. It begins with chaos (pradhâna or pragñâ); and hence its place at the commencement of the list. We may, perhaps, best designate it as an abstract of mystic-natural or materialistic philosophy.
- Introduction à l'histoire du Buddhisme indien, pp. 103-128.
- Burnouf, Introd. p. 218 seq.
- Burnouf, Introd. p. 423; cf. p. 431, where Pushyamitra is made to speak of dînâras; Max Müller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p 245.
- See e.g. the foot-note, p. 413.
- An erroneous Sanskritisation of the present tense dakkhanti.
- Obviously an unhappy attempt to Sanskritise a Pâli or Prâkrit patibhamsu; it ought to have been pratyabhâsishtâm.
- The text is corrupt; we have either to read vimalânubuddham, a Tatpurusha compound expressing the same as what the text exhibits, or vimalena buddham.
- Hi is meaningless, and only a clumsy device to satisfy the exigency of Sanskrit phonetical rules, which are not applicable to Prâkrit.
- Read srinvantu.
- Read dharmam vimalena. Vipula probably owes its origin to a dittography.
- I do not understand this pamuñkantu, i. e. let them cast off, loose or emit. Perhaps we have to read payuñgantu, let them practise.
- The reading aham sadrisîm of the Calc. ed. is clearly a corrupt reading.
- This word, which spoils the metre, has manifestly replaced an older expression, not unlikely âhañhi, or a similar form of the future tense of âhan (Sansk. âhanishye).
- Lotus de la bonne Loi, p. 864.
- Written âirapatha, for the Vriddhi vowel denotes the sound of âi in Sanskrit, at least originally; from the same diphthong being used in the Asoka edicts in thaira (Sansk. sthavira), we must infer that the diphthong was, in the then Prakrit, sounded ai, not âi.
- That is, kayira was probably pronounced kǎira, which cannot be exactly expressed by कैर, because those who were acquainted with the rules of Sanskrit grammar would pronounce this and similar words with the sound of âi.
- The able editor of this work, M. Senart, makes the following remarks on its language (p. xii): 'Nous sommes ici en présence d'une langue irrégulière et instable, mélange singulier de formes diverses d'âge et d'origine.'
- Ekâbhibhâva of the Calc. text is a clerical blunder.
- See Childers' Pâli Dict. p. 134, where the Thero Subhûti's etymology ekoudeti proves that he does not know the origin of the word; nor is it likely that the writer of the Pâli passage cited by Childers knew more, for had he recognised the word, he would have written ekoti, because a Prâkrit d between two vowels, if answering to a Sanskrit t, usually requires a t in Pâli.
- III, 5, 1, 31; VIII, 2, 6; XIV. 1, 3, 31.
- Also in the inscriptions of Asoka.
- The preface to the Chinese translation of Gñânagupta and Dharmagupta says: 'The translations of Ku Fâ-hu and Kumâragîva are most probably made from two different texts.'
- Wassiljew, Buddhismus, p. 222. This was written before the publication of my Cambridge Lectures, 'India, what can it teach us?' and affords valuable, because independent, confirmation of the chronological system contained in Note G, 'Renaissance of Sanskrit Literature,' pp. 381-366.—The Editor, F. M. M.
- Wassiljew, Buddhismus, p. 78 ; cf. pp. 64 and 319 ; Târanâtha, Geschichte des Buddhismus (transl. Schiemer), p. 1 36.
- See especially Histoire de la vie de Hiouen Thsang, pp. 83, 93, 97, 114; 106.
- Introduction, p. 119.
- See chap, xiv, p. 295.
- Chap. xv, st. 6, 10.
- One intermediate kalpa is, in the system, equal to 8 yugas. As 4 yugas number 4,320,000 years, it follows that the pause lasted 432 millions of years. Esoterically, kalpa has certainly denoted a short interval of time, but even if we take the 'intermediate kalpa' to mean, in reality, a lapse of time equal to a few hours, the pause would not refer to an historical event.
- The followers of the Upanishads, Aupanishadas, who say, 'Myself am God,' or as Nîlakantha puts it, 'Myself am the Lord Vâsudeva.'
- According to Nîlakantha the common people, who think, 'He, the Lord, is my Master.'
- Chap. xiii, st. 53 seq.
- Cf. Bhagavad-gîtâ IX, 29, where Nârâyana declares: 'I am equal towards all creatures, none is hateful to me, none beloved;' samo 'ham sarvabhûteshu, na me dveshyo 'sti na priyah.
- Both stretch their flaming tongues as far as the Brahma-world. In the Bhagavad-gita XI, 30 it is said of Narayana, when at the request of Arguna he shows himself in his full grandeur: lelihyase grasamdnaA samantal lokan •amagr&n vadanair ^valadbhU, te^obhir apdrya g*gat samagram bhasas tavograA prapatanti, Vishno!
- Cf. Bhagavad-gita XI, 15.
- There is some incongruity between this chapter and chapter x, because
- Lotus, p. 285.
- Mahavastu (ed. Senart), p. I, with the remarks of the editor, and p. 9.
- In his Buddhismus, p. 126.
- In Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion, p. 254.
- It may be observed that there is nothing peculiarly Buddhistic in the searching for Nirvana in this life, except in the sound of the word. It is exactly the same as what other Indian enthusiasts or mystics called Givanmukti, the aim of Yogins in the fourth degree (answering to the Arhats of the Buddhists) and of the Brahmans or Dvigas in the fourth Asrama.
- See chap. iii, p. 80. Something similar in Bhagavad-gft& XII, 12: sreyo hi jwanam abhyasa^ gn&n&d dhyanam visishyate, dhyanat karmaphalatyagas tyaga* Mantir anantaram ; and IV, 5 : labhante brahmanirvanam rishayaA kshtnakalmasha&, Minnadvaidha yatatmanaA sarvabhiltahite rat&A. Neither in these passages of the Bhagavad-gita nor in the three Vehicles is there anything new; abhy&sa, study, denotes the period of one's studying under a master, the BrahmaJariship, which the Lotus calls the Vehicle of Disciples ; the period of dhyana, alias the Vehicle of Pratyekabuddhas, coincides with the third Asrama, that of Vanaprastha ; the tydga, alias Bodhisattvaship, is virtually the same with the life of a Sanny&sin, Yati, or Mukta. Gft&na characterises the second A*rama ; in the Lotus it is merged in or combined with dhy&na.
- E.g. Lotus, chap. x, st. 4, cf. 6; 23, 33; xiii, 13, 16, 24, 26, 30, 32, 39, 44.
- Geschichte des Buddhismus, p. 60.
- Hodgson, Essays, p. 52 ; cf. p. 30.
- The reader should not lay stress upon this singular.
- Something of contempt for the Arhats is shown in the story communicated by Hiouen Thsang in Voyages des Pèlerins bouddhistes, II, p. 176, where the editor inadvertently writes Vasubandhu instead of Vasumitra; his index affords the means of correcting the mistake; cf. Wassiljew in Târanâtha, p. 298.
- See chap. xiii, 28, where the eighth commandment of the Dasasîla, forbidding the use of ointment, is slighted.
- See there xvii, 5 seqq., and cf. 14 seqq., where we are taught what the true tapas should be.
- Samvat 159 Vaisâkhasukle (illegible the Tithi) Gurudine, Kâmadevasya vigayarâgye likhitam iti. There seem to be wanting two syllables before kâma.
- The two Cambridge MSS. are marked Add. 1682 and 1683.