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If Chandagupta and Seleucus Nicator be considered cotemporaries, and the reign of the latter be taken to have commenced in B. c. 323 (the year in which Alexander died) a discrepancy is found to exist of about 60 years, between the date of the western authorities, and that given in the Mahawanso. The buddhist era, from which these dates are reckoned, appears to be too authentically fixed to admit of its being varied from B. c. 543 to about B. c. 480, for the adjustment of this difference. On the other hand, as during the 218 years comprised in the reigns of the above mentioned rájas, there are two correcting epochs given,-one at the 100th and the other at the 218th year,-while the accession of Chandagupta is represented to have taken place in the 162nd year of Buddho; it is equally inadmissible, to make so extensive a correction as 60 years within two such closely approximated dates, by any attempt at varying the terms of the reigns of the kings who ruled in that interval. The attention paid by the author to ensure chronological accuracy (as noticed on various occasions in the foregoing remarks) is moreover so scrupulously exact, that it appears to me that the discrepancy can only proceed from one of these two sources; viz., either it is an intentional perversion adopted to answer some national or religious object, which is not readily discoverable; or, Chandagupta is not identical with Sandracottus. As to the detection of any intentional perversion; I have only the means at present of consulting the Burmese Páli annals, which version of the Pitakattaya is entirely in accordance with the Ceylonese authorities. Even in the Buddhaghyá inscription, the accession of Asóko is stated to have been in A. B. 218. I have not met with any integral analysis of the Nepal Sanscrit annals. Professor Wilson however has furnished an abstract of the Tibetan version, made from an analysis prepared by Mr. Csoma de Korosi, which is published in the January and September numbers of the Journals of 1832. The former contains the following observations in reference to this particular point.
"On the death of Sákya, Kasyapa, the head of the Baud'dhas, directs 500 superior monks to make a compilation of the doctrines of their master. The " Do" is also compiled by Ananda; the “Dul-va" by Upáli; aud the "Ma-moon," Abhidharma, or Prajná-páramitá, by himself. He presides over the sect at Rájagriha till his death.
Ananda succeeds as hierarch. On his death his relics are divided between the Lichchivis and the king of Magadha; and two chaityas are built for their reception, one at Allahabad, the other at Paʼtaliputra.
One hundred years after the disappearance of Sa'kya, his religious is carried into Kashmir.
One hundred and ten years after the same event, in the reign of Asúka, king of Paʼtaliputra, a new compilation of the laws of Sa'kya was prepared by 700 monks, at Yanga-pa-chen-Allahabad.
The twelfth and thirteenth volumes contain supplementary rules and instructions, as communicated by Saʼkya to Upaʼli, his disciples, in answer to the inquiries of the latter.
We shall be better prepared, upon the completion of the catalogue of the whole of the Ka'h-gyar, to offer any remarks upon the doctrines it inculcates, or the historical facts it may be supposed to preserve. It is, therefore, rather premature to make any observations upon the present analysis, confined as that is to but one division of the work, and unaccompanied by extracts, or translations; but we may perhaps be permitted to inquire what new light it imparts, as far as it extends, to the date and birth-place of Sa'kya.
Any thing like chronology is, if possible, more unknown in Bauddha than Brahmanical writings; and it is in vain therefore to expect any satisfactory specification of the date at which the Buddha Sákya flourished. We find however that 110 years after his death, Asúka, king of Pa'taliputra, reigned: now in the Vishnu Puraʼna, and one or two other Puraʼnas, the second king of Magadha from Chandragupta, or Sandracoptos, bears the title of Asóka, or Asókaverdhana. If this be the prince intended, Sa'kya lived about 430 years before the christian era, which is about one century posterior to the date usually assigned for his appearance. It is not very different, however, from that stated by the Siamese to Mr. Crawfurd. By their account, his death took place in the first year of the sacred cra, beiug the year of the little snake; on Tuesday, being the full moon of the sixth month. The year 1822, was the year 2364 of the era in question; and as Buddha is stated by them to have died when 80 years of age, his birth by this account took place 462 years before the christian era."
If the inference here drawn could be sustained, the discrepancy above noticed, between the chronology of the western and the buddhistical authorities would be more than corrected; making the era of Gótamo fall between 430 and 462 years before the christian epoch. I have reason to believe, however, that this conclusion is deduced from a misconception (and a very natural one) on the part of Mr. Csoma de Korosi, in forming his analysis from the Tibetan versions. In the buddhistical works extant in Ceylon, whenever a consecutive series of events is specified in chronological order, the period intervening between any two of those events is invariably reckoned from the date of the event immediately preceding, and not from the date of the first event of the series. On re-examination of the textof the Sanscrit versions at least-this gentleman will probably find that the three events here alluded to are the three convocations, which are described in the Mahawanso: the first as being held in the year of Gótamo's death; the second, one hundred years afterwards; and the third, one hundred and thirty four years after the second, in the seventeenth year of the reign of Asóko; making the date of Asóko's accession to be the 218th, instead of the 110th year of Buddho, falling within that monarch's rule.
In the absence of other data the learned professor reverts, allowably enough, in this inquiry, to the only established epoch of hindu history, the age of Chandagupta; and thence infers that "Sákya lived about 430 years before the Christian era;" in support however of his inference he quotes a most palpable mistake contained in Crawfurd's Siam. It is there correctly enough stated that "the year 1822 was 2364 of the era in question." The revolution of the buddhist year takes place in May: the first year of that era therefore comprised the last eight months of B. c. 543, and the first four of B. C. 542. Mr. Crawfurd then proceeds to say, "and as Buddho is stated to have died when 80 years of age, his birth by this account took place 462 years before the Christian era." This gentleman forgets that he has to deal with a calculation of recession, and proceeds to deduct from, instead of adding 80 years to, 542: thereby making it appear that Gótamo was born 80 years after the date assigned for his death; or B. c. 462 instead of 622.
Here, again, as Mr. Colebrooke in his essay, professor Wilson has inadvertently lent the authority of his high reputation as an oriental scholar, in passing a sentence of unmerited condemnation on "Bauddha writings." He says, "any thing like real chronology is, if possible, more unknown in the Bauddha than the bráhmanical writings; and it is in vain, therefore, to expect any satisfactory specification of the date at which the Buddha Sákya flourished." Even if a discrepancy, to the extent he notices, of about one hundred years, had really existed, among the various versions of the buddhist annals scattered over the widely separated regions in which buddhism has prevailed; instead of that anachronism being founded on an error so self-evident that it ought not to have escaped detection; still I would ask, wherein does this chronological inferiority of the buddhistical, as compared with the brahmanical annals, consist? Are we not indebted to his own valuable researches for evidence of the Puránas being comparatively modern compilations? And does not the anachronism at the period of the reign of Chandragupta, in them, amount to nearly 1200 years? And have we not his own authority for saying, that, "the only Sanscrit composition yet discovered, to which the title of history can with any propriety be applied, is the Rája Taringiní, a history of Cashmir?" And does he not himself, exhibit in that work an anachronism of upwards of 700 years in the age of Gonerda III.; which is nearly two centuries posterior to the age of Sakya Buddho ?
As to the second point,-the identity of Chandragupta with Sandracottus,-it will be observed, that the author of the Mahawanso, in his history, gives very little more than the names of the Indian
monarchs, and the term of their reigns; which are, moreover, adduced solely for the purpose of fixing the dates of the three convocations, till he comes to the accession of the great patron of buddhism, Asóko. I have, therefore, extracted every passage in his Tíká, which throws any light on this interesting historical point. I have taken the liberty, also, of reprinting, in the appendix, professor Wilson's notes on the Mudra Rakshasa; both because many of the authorities he quotes are not accessible to me, and as it is desirable that this identity in the buddhistical annals should be tested by the same evidence by which the question is tried in the brahmanical annals. The points both of accordance and discordance, between the buddhistical data, and, on the one hand, the bráhmanical, and, on the other, the European classical, data, are numerous. I could not enter into an illustrative examination of these particulars, without going into details, inadmissible in this place. Those who are interested in the inquiry, will be left to form their own comparisons, and draw their own conclusions in this respect. I shall only venture to observe, that, at present, I incline to the opinion that this discrepancy of nearly 60 years proceeds from some intentional perversion of the buddhistical chronology.
I here close my remarks on the Maháwanso, as regards the historical information it contains of India. When we find that all these valuable data, regarding India, are met with in an epitomised introduction, or episode, to a buddhistical history of Ceylon; and that the termination of this historical narrative of India occurs at this particular point, not from any causes which should render that narrative defective here, but because the Ceylonese branch of buddhistical history diverges at this date from the main stream; is it not reasonable to infer, that in those regions of Asia, where the Páli buddhistical literature is still extant, it will be found to contain the history of those countries in ampler detail, and continued to a later period than only to the reign of the first supreme monarch of India, who became a convert to Gótamo Buddho's religion? That such literary records are extant, we have the following unqualified testimony of Colonel Tod. "Immense libraries, in various parts of India, are still extant, which have survived the devastations of the Islamite. The collections of Jessulmer and Puttam, for example, escaped the scrutiny of even the lynx-eyed Alla, who conquered both these kingdoms, and who would have shown as little mercy to those literary treasures, as Omar displayed towards the Alexandrine library. Many other minor collections, consisting of thousands of volumes each, exist in central and western India; some of which are the private property of princes, and others belong to the Jain communities."
"Some copies of these Jain MSS from Jessulmer, which were written from five to eight centuries back, I presented to the Royal Asiatic Society. Of the vast numbers of these MS books in the libraries of Puttan and Jessulmer, many are of the most remote antiquity, and in a character no longer understood by their possessors, or only by the supreme pontiff and his initiated librarians. There is one volume held so sacred, for its magical contents, that it is suspended by a chain in the temple of Chintamun, at the last named capital in the desert, and is only taken down to have its covering renewed, or at the inauguration of a pontiff. Tradition assigns its authorship to Samaditya Sooru Acharya, a pontiff of past days, before the Islamite had crossed the waters of the Indus, and whose diocese extended far beyond that stream. His magic mantle is also here preserved, and used on every new installation. The character is, doubtless, the nail-headed Páli; and could we introduce the ingenious, indefatigable, and modest Mon. Burnouf with his able coadjutor, Dr. Lassen, into the temple, we might learn of this sybill ne volume, without their incurring the risk of loss of sight, which befel the last individual, a female Yati of the Jains, who sacrilegiously endeavoured to acquire its contents."
To which testimony, I cannot refrain from adding the following note, appended to the proceedings of the Bengal Asiatic Society, in April, 1835.
Passage of a letter published by Licut. Webb in a Calcutta periodical, in the year 1833.
"You are yet all in the dark, and will remain so, until you have explored the grand libraries of Patan, a city in Rajputána, and Jessulmer a town north west of Joadpur, and Cambay; together with the travelling libraries of the Jain bishops.
These contain tens of thousands of volumes, and I have endeavoured to open the eyes of some scholars here on
the subject. At Jessulmer are the original books of Bhanda (Buddha), the sybilline volumes which none dare even handle. Until all these have been examined, let us declare our ignorance of hindu literature, for we have only gleaned in the field contaminated by conquest, and where no genuine record could be hoped for."
Here, then, is a new, inciting, and extensive field of research, readily accessible to the oriental scholar. The close affinity of Páli to Sanscrit, together with the aid afforded by Mr. Clough's translated Páli Grammar, in defining the points in which they differ, will enable any Sanscrit scholar to enter upon that interesting investigation with confidence; and the object I have principally in view will have been realized, if I shall have in any degree stimulated that research.
It scarcely falls within the scope of this introduction to enter into any detailed examination of the Mahawanso, as regards the continuous history of Ceylon, nor have I been able, from the disadvantages under which I have conducted this publication, to append notes to the translated narrative. Suffice it to say, that from the date of the introduction of buddhism into Ceylon, in B. c. 307, that history is authenticated by the concurrence of every evidence, which can contribute to verify the annals of any country; as, was shown in the "Epitome," alluded to above, imperfectly and hastily as it was been compiled; and will further appear in the second volume of this translation.
In regard to the 236 years which elapsed, from the death of Gótamo to the introduction of buddhism in Ceylon, in B. c. 307; there is a ground for suspecting that sectarian zeal, or the impostures of superstition, have led to the assignment of the same date for the landing of Wijayo, with the cardinal buddhistical event, the death of Gótamo. If historical annals did exist (of which there is ample internal evidence) in Ceylon, anterior to Mahindo's arrival, buddhist historians have adapted those data to their falsified chronology. The otherwise apparent consistency of the narrative contained in that portion of the history of Ceylon, together with the established facts of the towns and edifices, therein described, having been in existence at the period of Mahindo's landing, justify the inference, that the monarchs named, and the events described, are not purely buddhistical fictions. My reluctance, moreover, to admit the particular date assigned to the landing of Wijayo, does not proceed solely from its suspicious coincidence with the date of Gótamo's death. The aggregate period comprised in those 236 years, it will be observed, has been for the most part apportioned, on a scale of decimation, among the six rajas who preceded Déwananpiyatisso, which distribution is not in itself calculated to concilate confidence; and in the instance of the fifth rája, Pandukábhayo, it is stated that he married at 20 years of age, succeeded in dethroning his uncle when he was 37 years, and reigned for 70 years. He is therefore 107 years old when he dies, having been married 87 years; and yet the issue of that marriage, Mutasiwo, succeeds him and reigns 60 years! One of the Singhalese histories does, indeed, attempt to make it appear that Mutasíwo was the grandson; but I now find that that assertion is founded purely on an assumption, made possibly with the view of correcting the very imperfection now noticed. It is manifest, therefore, that there is some inaccuracy here, which calls for a curtailment of the period intervening between the landing of Wijayo and the introduction of buddhism; and it is not unworthy of remark, that a curtailment of similar extent was shown to be requisite in the Indian portion of this history, of that particular period, to render the reigns of Chandragupta and Seleucus Nicator contemporanious. This principle of decimating has also been applied in filling up the aggregate term comprised in the reigns of the four brothers of Déwánanpiyatisso, who successively ascended the throne after him. But subsequently to Datthagámini, in B. c. 164, there does not appear to be the slightest ground for questioning the correctness of the chronology of the Ceylonese history, even in these minute respects.
Whether these unimportant falsifications have, or have not, been intentionally had recourse to, they in no degree affect the reputation of Mahanámo, as an historian; for the following very curious passage Buddhaghoso's Atthakatha on the Winéyo, which was composed only fifty years before Mahánámo compiled his history, shows that great pains had been taken, even at that period, to make it appear that the chronology of these three centuries of buddhistical history, which preceded Asóko's conversion, was correct, as exhibited in those Atthakatha.
In the eighteenth year of the reign of Ajátasattu, the supreme Buddho attained parinibbánan. In that very year, prince Wijayo, the son of prince Sího, and the first monarch of Tambapanni, repairing to this island, rendered it habitable for human beings. In the fourteenth year of the reign of Udayabhado, in Jambudípo, Wijayo died here. In the fifteenth year of the reign of Udayabhado, Pánduwásadéwo came to the throne in this island. In the twentieth year of the reign of Nágadáso there, Pánduwásadéwo died here. In the same year Abhayo succeeded to the kingdom. In the seventeenth year of the reign of Susunágo there, twenty years of the reign of Abhayo had been completed; and then, in the said twentieth year of Abhayo, the traitor Panduk ábhayo usurped the kingdom. In the sixteenth year of the reign of Kálásoko there, the seventeenth year of Pandukabhayo's reign had elapsed here. The foregoing (years) together with this one year, will make the eighteenth (of his reign). In the fourteenth year of the reign of Chadagutto, Panduk ábhayo died here; and Mutasíwo succeeded to the kingdom. In the seventeenth year of the reign Dhammásoko rája, Mutasíwo rája died, and Déwananpiyatisso raja succeeded to the kingdom.
From the parinibbanan of the supreme Buddho, Ajátasattu reigned twenty four years. Udayabhado, sixteen. Anuruddho and Mundho, eighteen. Nágadásako twenty four. Susunágo eighteen years. His son Kála'soko twenty eight years. The ten sons of Ka'la'soko reigned twenty two years. Subsequently to them, Nawanando reigned twenty two years. Chandagutto twenty four years. Bindusa'ro, twenty eight years. At his demise Asóko succeeded, and in the eighteenth year after his inauguration, Mahindo théro arrived in this island. This royal narration is to be thus understood.
The synchronisms attempted to be established in this extract, between the chronology of India and o Ceylon, are it will be observed, most successfully made out. The discrepancies as to the year of Ajátasattu's reign, in which Gótamo Buddho died; as to the comparison between Kálásoko and Panduk ábhayó, and as to the duration of the joint rule of Anuruddho and Mundho, as well as that of Chandagutto, all manifestly proceed from clerical errors of the transcribers; as will be seen by the following juxtapositions :
After the most minute examination of the portion of Mahawanso compiled by Mahanamo, I am fully prepared to certify, that I have not met with any other passage in the work, (unconnected with religion and its superstitions), than those already noticed, which could by the most sceptical be, considered as prejudicial to its historical authenticity. In several instances he adverts prospectively to events which took place posterior to the date at which his narrative had arrived, but in every one of these cases, it is found that the anticipated incidents are invariably anterior to his own time.
• This anachronism has been already explained