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THE LEGENDS AND THEORIES
HISTORY AND SCIENCE:
WITH INTRODUCTORY NOTICES OF THE LIFE AND SYSTEM OF
R. SPENCE HARDY, HON. M.R.A.S.,
AUTHOR OF "EASTERN (BUDDHIST) MONACHISM," "A MANUAL OF BUDDHISM,' ETC.
20, SOUTH FREDERICK STREET, EDINBURGH.
THE system attributed to Gótama Buddha is one of the oldest beliefs in the world. It demands, therefore, a place among the records of religious opinion, if for its antiquity alone. But it has other claims upon our attention. There is in it the germ of many of the speculations that are the most prominent in the shifting philosophies of the present day; and it is now professed, at the lowest computation, by three hundred millions of the human race. The information presented in these pages has a further importance, as the Dharmma is comparatively unknown in England. Of this we have evidence in the singular fact, that the name of Gótama Buddha is not found in any work in our language that is exclusively biographical, although no uninspired man has exercised a greater influence than he upon the social and religious interests of the world.
In the last edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica there is an article under the head of "Gótama Buddha," derived from the same sources as the present work.
The first edition of this work was published in the island of Ceylon. Its principal aim was, to reveal to the adherents of the system the errors it contains; but the original form is retained, as the doctrines here attributed to Buddha have not been controverted, so far as I can learn, by any of the priests; though, of course, they repudiate the inferences I have drawn from them. We are thus warranted in concluding, that they may be received as a faithful and trustworthy exposition of this wide-spread creed; and it is the more necessary to notice this fact, as there are many things in them that are contrary to the teachings on this subject of several authors of great name in western literature. The supporters of Protestant missions will also learn in what manner and spirit their agents are conducting the great controversy, that must increase in magnitude and moment, until the truth has universally prevailed throughout the realm of India; and a lesson may be learnt, of no small significance, as to the acquirements, the mental furnishing, requisite in the men who are chosen to do battle, in this onslaught upon the most formidable of all the superstitions. that oppose the spread of the Gospel of the Son of God.
There are some things here inserted that would justly be regarded as puerile or unnecessary, if I were writing exclusively for European readers; and in the sections on native geography and astronomy many things appear that would have assumed an entirely different form, if