Imatges de pàgina

cHAPTER v. and write. Moreover the spirit of religious toleration which was expressed by Raja Priyadarsi, seems always to have prevailed both in India and Burma. Violation of caste rules within the pale of Brahmanism, and schism or heresy within the pale of Buddhism, may have been suppressed by excommunication or capital punishment in times gone by ; but Jews and Christians, Mussulmans and Parsees, have always enjoyed the liberty of performing worship after their own fashion, without any interference whatever from the civil or ecclesiastical powers, provided always that no offence was given to the religion of the state.

Association This modern association of Dharma with Bud

of Dharma with *...* dhism was not the result of monastic teaching, for

oic Bud: theoretically the two systems are still as widely separated as they were in the days of Raja Priyadarsi. Dharma, or religion, cultivated the duties of the affections; Vināya, or monastic discipline, crushed out the affections themselves. Dharma taught that the fulfilment of duty to fellow-men and fellow-creatures in every scale of being was the only true road to happiness. Vināya taught that happiness itself is a delusion, and that the main object of the truly wise ought to be to abstract themselves from all duty and all affection, until the soul was freed from every mortal tie and practically ceased to be. But in the same way that Brahmanism has been compelled to accept the worship of the gods as practised by the conquerors and the conquered, so Buddhism has been compelled to accept the religion of Priyadarsi as taught in the edicts. From a very early date, probably during the period which intervened between the promulgation of the edicts and the compilation of the chronicles, Buddhist monasticism chAPTER v. must have been fast losing its ancient energy. The medical Srámans and the missionary Srámans, who are both so clearly described by Megasthenes, were virtually passing away from the Buddhist world; and the system of primary education, which is imparted in the monasteries to boys, is perhaps the last relic that remains of the vast philanthropic reforms which filled the imagination of the heaven-beloved Raja. In a word, from an early period the Buddhist monks must have degenerated. They led lives of celibacy in order that they might lead lives of religious idleness, maintained by the voluntary contributions of the laity, and surrounded by the halo of false glory with which superstition loves to invest such saintly characters.” Their vaunted learning has been little more than metaphysical speculation, in which ignorance of the universe and its inhabitants has been concealed under an affectation of profound knowledge that is drawn from the imagination alone. Nowhere is the real truth so plainly depicted as in the socalled Buddhist chronicles. There the dim memories of the past are reproduced in the garb of fable; and the want of historical data is supplied by puerile inventions.” The reign of Raja Priyadarsi is a valuable

* The unpractical character of monastic Buddhism is especially observant in Burma, for there it can be easily compared with the daily labours and self-denying lives of Roman Catholic priests and missionaries which are above all praise.

* The Buddhist chronicles profess to furnish historical details of the reigns of successive Rajas of Magadha from the death of Gótama Buddha in B. c. 543 to the end of the reign of Asoka in B. c. 288. They also give an account of three synods or convocations, which were held at different intervals during the same period, for the purpose of establishing the Buddhist canon of scriptures, and maintaining the rules of monastic discipline. As they involve much historical criticism, and are devoid of general interest, it has been deemed advisable to discuss them in the Appendix at the end of the present volume.

CHAPTER v. landmark in the annals of ancient India. He is join generally identified with the Asoka of the chronicles; Asoka. and for the future may be termed Asoka.” The age which preceded his reign is the twilight of Hindú history. Villages were established further and further in the deep forest, and grouped into kingdoms by conquering Rajas. Vedic Rishis and Kshatriya warriors, Brahman priests and Buddhist monks, appear respectively upon the stage, and begin to assume substantive forms. It is even possible to realize the growth of civil government. The headmen of villages holding their noisy little councils of grey-beards under the shade of widely-spreading trees; the Rajas sitting in state upon their thrones; the royal umbrella elevated above their heads, and the chamaras of hair waving to and fro; whilst chieftains and ministers are sitting around in the council hall. Here and there, mingling with every throng, may be seen the half-naked Bráhmans with their sacred thread, and the decent Sramans in the yellow robes of the monastery. But one age is jumbled up with another, for there is no chronology. The imagination wanders at will over the shifting sands of a remote past, but cannot fix a single reign or even a single century. Delhi may be coeval with Damascus; the Rajas of Ayodhyá with the priest-kings of Salem. Even the stand-point furnished by the life of Gótama Buddha is altogether insecure. It has been fixed in the sixth century charter v. before the Christian era; but it might, with nearly equal probability, be thrust back another hundred or even thousand years. The so-called chronicles of the kings of Magadha, between Gótama and Alexander the Great, Wimbasara and Asoka, are little better than jumbles of myths and names.” The invasion of the Punjab by Alexander in B. c. 327,the charge of the Macedonian cavalry against the elephants of Porus on the banks of the Jhelum,_ is the first event which brings India into historical relations with the outer world. It was followed, perhaps immediately, but certainly within less than a hundred years, by the reign of Asoka; the great sovereign of Magadha, who has, as it were, left his handwriting upon rock and pillar from Cuttack to Guzerat and Cabul, and whose memory is still lingering in Sanskrit and Pali story.” - The early life of Asoka is almost lost in a cloud or

* The identification of Raja Priyadarsi of the edicts with Raja Asoka of the Buddhist chronicles was first pointed out by Mr Turnour, who rested it upon a passage in the Dipawanse. The late Professor H. H. Wilson objected to this identification (see Journal of the Asiatic Society, vol. xii. page 243). The identification, however, is further proved by the general resemblance between the edicts of Priyadarsi and the legends of Asoka recorded in the Buddhist chronicles. See Appendix II. to the present volume.

of legend; but here and there glimpses are obtained which prove that he was a prince, who had passed through extraordinary adventures and large experiences. Whilst still a very young man he was at variance with his father, and seems to have gone into exile like another Rāma.” He is said to have

* See Appendix II., Buddhist Chronicles.

* Compare Vishnu Purāna, Book IV., chap. xxiv., with Mahawanso, chap. v., &c.

* The fact of the exile is a little uncertain. In the Buddhist chronicle he is said to have been appointed governor of Ujain, in the southern part of Rajpootana, not far from the river Nerbudda; but the appointment to so remote a province may have been equivalent to exile, and probably was a pious invention of the monkish chronicler to cover the disgrace of exile, and to represent Asoka as the son of the Raja who preceded him on the throne. The Chinese traveller, Hiouen-Thaang, relates that Asoka established at Ujain a place of punishment, which was called Hell, because criminals were subjected to the same tortures in this life to which the wicked are subjected. The story proves nothing, and is

CHAPTER v been appointed to the government of the distant

province of Ujain, and subsequently to have suppressed a revolt in Taxila in the Punjab. During his wanderings he fell in love with a beautiful princess, named Devi, by whom he became the father of a son and a daughter, who were famous in later Buddhist tradition as the missionaries who first planted Buddhism in the island of Ceylon.” The main incidents of Asoka's early career thus present a strange similarity to those recorded of Sandrokottos by Greek writers. Sandrokottos was also an exiled prince from Patali-putra; and he ultimately drove the Greeks from Taxila. Again, Asoka usurped a throne and founded an empire; so did Sandrokottos. Asoka originally professed the Brahmanical religion, and then embraced the more practical religion of the edicts. Sandrokottos sacrificed to the gods in Brahmanical fashion; but he also held a great assembly every year, in which every discovery was discussed which was likely to prove beneficial to the earth, to mankind, or to animals generally. There is no necessity, perhaps, for laying an undue stress upon this resemblance; but still it would be a startling coincidence if the great sovereign, whose religion of duty without deity has been engraven for more than twenty centuries on the rocks and pillars of India, should prove to be the same prince who met Alexander at Taxila, who offended the

Asoka and Sandrokottos compared.

probably a monkish legend. Such stories of Buddhist saints may be edifying to pious Buddhists, but are worthless to the historian. Fah-Hian relates a somewhat similar story. See chap. xxxii., Beale's Translation.

* The brother and sister are respectively named Mahendra and Sanghamitrá. The story of their mission, surrounded with the usual halo of pious fable, may be found in the Mahawanso, chap. v.

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