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[Translated from Sanscrit into Chinese by Dharmaraksha, A.D. 420; from Chinese into English by Samuel Beal]



UDDHA is undoubtedly the most potent name as a religious teacher, in the whole of Asia. The propaganda of the Buddhistic faith passed from the valley of the Indus to the valley of the Ganges, and from Ceylon to the Himalayas; thence it traversed China, and its conquests seem to have been permanent. The religion of Buddha is so far different from that of Confucius, and so far resembles Christianity, that it combines mysticism with asceticism—a practical rule of personal conduct with a consistent transcendentalism. It has, moreover, the great advantage of possessing a highly fascinating and romantic gospel, or biography, of its founder. Gautama, as the hero of Arnold's "Light of Asia," is very well known to English readers, and, although Sir Edwin Arnold is not by any means a poet of the first order, he has done a great deal to familiarize the Anglo-Saxon mind with Oriental life and thought. A far more faithful life of Buddha is that written some time in the first century of our era by the twelfth Buddhist patriarch Asvaghosha. This learned ecclesiastic appears to have travelled about through different districts of India, patiently collecting the stories and traditions which related to the life of his master. These he wove into a Sanscrit poem, which three hundred years later was translated into Chinese, from which version our present translation is made. There can be no doubt that the author of the Sanscrit poem was a famous preacher and musician. Originally living in central India, he seems to have wandered far and wide exercising his office, and reciting or singing his poem-a sacred epic, more thrilling to the ears of India than the wrath of Achilles, or the voyages of Ulysses. We are told that Asvaghosha took a choir of musicians with him, and many were converted to Buddhism through the combined persuasiveness of poetry and preaching. The present life of Buddha, although it labors under the disadvantage of transfu

sion from Sanscrit into Chinese, and from Chinese into English, is by no means destitute of poetic color and aroma. When, for instance, we read of the grief-stricken Yasodhara that "her breath failed her, and sinking thus she fell upon the dusty ground," we come upon a stately pathos, worthy of Homer or Lucretius. And what can be more beautiful than the account of Buddha's conversion and sudden conviction, that all earthly things were vanity. The verses once heard linger in the memory so as almost to ring in the ears: "Thus did he complete the end of self, as fire goes out for want of grass. Thus he had done what he would have men do: he first had found the way of perfect knowledge. He finished thus the first great lesson; entering the great Rishi's house, the darkness disappeared, light burst upon him; perfectly silent and at rest, he reached the last exhaustless source of truth; lustrous with all wisdom the great Rishi sat, perfect in gifts, whilst one convulsive throe shook the wide earth."

E. W.



The Birth

'HERE was a descendant of the Ikshvâku family, an in


vincible Sâkya monarch, pure in mind and of unspotted virtue, called therefore Pure-rice, or Suddhodana. Joyously reverenced by all men, as the new moon is welcomed by the world, the king indeed was like the heaven-ruler Sakra, his queen like the divine Saki. Strong and calm of purpose as the earth, pure in mind as the water-lily, her name, figuratively assumed, Mâyâ, she was in truth incapable of class-comparison. On her in likeness as the heavenly queen descended the spirit and entered her womb. A mother, but free from grief or pain, she was without any false or illusory mind. Disliking the clamorous ways of the world, she remembered the excellent garden of Lumbini, a pleasant spot, a quiet forest retreat, with its trickling fountains, and blooming flowers and fruits. Quiet and peaceful, delighting in meditation, respectfully she asked the king for liberty to roam therein; the king, understanding her earnest desire, was seized with a seldom-felt anxiety to grant her request. He commanded his kinsfolk, within and without the palace, to repair with her to that garden shade; and now the queen Mâyâ knew that her time for child-bearing was come. She rested calmly on a beautiful couch, surrounded by a hundred thousand female attendants; it was the eighth day of the fourth moon, a season of serene and agreeable character.

Whilst she thus religiously observed the rules of a pure discipline, Bodhisattva was born from her right side, come to deliver the world, constrained by great pity, without causing his mother pain or anguish. As king Yu-liu was born from the thigh, as King Pi-t'au was born from the hand, as King Man-to

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