Hinduism and Buddhism, An Historical Sketch, Vol. 3 (of 3)
by Charles Eliot
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[Footnote 965: sDe-srid.]

[Footnote 966: It is said that all Ambans were Manchus.]

[Footnote 967: See E. Ludwig, The visit of the Teshoo Lama to Peking, Tientsin Press, 1904. See also J.A.S.B. 1882, pp. 29-52.]

[Footnote 968: See the curious edict of Chia Ch'ing translated by Waddell in J.R.A.S. 1910, pp. 69 ff. The Chinese Government were disposed to discredit the sixth, seventh and eighth incarnations and to pass straight from the fifth Grand Lama to the ninth.]

[Footnote 969: See for a translation of this curious decree, North China Herald of March 4th, 1910.]

[Footnote 970: In the List of the Bhutan Hierarchs given by Waddell (Buddhism, p. 242) it is said that the first was contemporary with the third Grand Lama, 1543-1580.]

[Footnote 971: According to Waddell (Buddhism, p. 242) he appears to be a rebirth of Dupgani Sheptun, a Lama greatly respected by the Tibetan invaders of Bhutan. For some account of the religion of Bhutan in the early 19th century, see the article by Davis in T.R.A.S. vol. II. 1830, p. 491.]

[Footnote 972: The fullest account of Sikhimese Buddhism is given by Waddell in the Gazetteer of Sikhim, 1894. See also Remy, Pelerinage au Monastere de Pemmiontsi, 1880; Silacara "Buddhism in Sikkim," Buddhist Review, 1916, p. 97.]


TIBET (continued)


Tibet is so remote and rude a land that it is a surprise to learn that it has a voluminous literature and further that much of this literature, though not all, is learned and scholastic. The explanation is that the national life was most vigorous in the great monasteries which were in close touch with Indian learning. Moreover Tibetan became to some extent the Latin of the surrounding countries, the language of learning and religion.

For our purpose the principal works are the two great collections of sacred and edifying literature translated into Tibetan and known as the Kanjur and Tanjur.[973] The first contains works esteemed as canonical, including Tantras. The second is composed of exegetical literature and also of many treatises on such subjects as medicine, astronomy and grammar.[974] The two together correspond roughly speaking to the Chinese Tripitaka, but are more bulky. The canonical part is smaller but the commentaries and miscellaneous writings more numerous. There are also other differences due to the fact that the great literary epoch of Tibet was in the ninth century, whereas nearly three-quarters of the Chinese Tripitaka had been translated before that date. Thus the Kanjur appears to contain none[975] of the Abhidhamma works of the Hinayana and none of the great Nikayas as such, though single sutras are entered in the catalogues as separate books. Further there is only one version of the Vinaya whereas the Chinese Tripitaka has five, but there are several important Tantras which are wanting in Chinese. The Tibetan scriptures reflect the late Buddhism of Magadha when the great books of the Hinayanist Canon were neglected, though not wholly unknown, and a new tantric literature was flourishing exuberantly.

The contents of the Kanjur and Tanjur are chiefly known by analyses and indices,[976] although several editions and translations of short treatises have been published.[977] The information obtained may be briefly summarized as follows.

The Kanjur in its different editions consists of one hundred or one hundred and eight volumes, most of which contain several treatises, although sometimes one work, for instance the Vinaya, may fill many volumes. The whole collection is commonly divided into seven parts.[978]

I. The Dulva,[979] equivalent to the Vinaya. It is stated to be the Mula-sarvastivada Vinaya, and so far as any opinion can be formed from the small portions available for comparison, it agrees with the Chinese translation of Kumarajiva and also (though with some difference in the order of paragraphs) with the Sanskrit Pratimoksha found at Kucha.[980] It is longer and more mixed with narrative than the corresponding Pali code.

II. The second division is known as Ser-chin,[981] corresponding to the Prajna-paramita and in the estimation of the Tibetans to the Abhidharma. It is said to have been first collected by Kasyapa and to represent the teaching delivered by the Buddha in his fifty-first year. This section appears to contain nothing but versions, longer or shorter, of the Prajnaparamita, the limit of concentration being reached by a text in which the Buddha explains that the whole of this teaching is comprised in the letter A. As in China and Japan, the Vajracchedika (rDo-rJe-gCod-pa) is very popular and has been printed in many editions.

III. The third division is called Phal-chen, equivalent to Avatamsaka. Beckh treats it as one work in six volumes with out subdivisions. Feer gives forty-five subdivisions, some of which appear as separate treatises in the section of the Chinese Tripitaka called Hua Yen.[982]

IV. The fourth division called dKon-brtsegs or Ratnakuta agrees closely with the similar section of the Chinese Tripitaka but consists of only forty-eight or forty-five sutras, according to the edition.[983]

V. The fifth section is called mDo, equivalent to Sutra. In its narrower sense mDo means sutras which are miscellaneous in so far as they do not fall into special classes, but it also comprises such important works as the Lalita-vistara, Lankavatara and Saddharma-pundarika. Of the 270 works contained in this section about 90 are prima facie identical with works in the Ching division of the Chinese Tripitaka and probably the identity of many others is obscured by slight changes of title. An interesting point in the mDo is that it contains several sutras translated from the Pali,[984] viz. Nos. 13-25 of vol. XXX, nine of which are taken from the collection known as Paritta. The names and dates of the translators are not given but the existence of these translations probably indicates that a knowledge of Pali lingered on in Magadha later than is generally supposed. It will also be remembered that about A.D. 1000, Atisa though a Tantrist, studied in Burma and presumably came in contact with Pali literature. Rockhill notes that the Tanjur contains a commentary on the Lotus Sutra written by Prithivibandhu, a monk from Ceylon, and Pali manuscripts have been found in Nepal.[985] It is possible that Sinhalese may have brought Pali books to northern India and given them to Tibetans whom they met there.

VI. The sixth division is called Myang-hdas or Nirvana, meaning the description of the death of the Buddha which also forms a special section in the Chinese Tripitaka. Here it consists of only one work, apparently corresponding to Nanjio 113.[986]

VII. The seventh and last section is called rGyud[987] or Tantra. It consists of twenty-two volumes containing about 300 treatises. Between thirty and forty are prima facie identical with treatises comprised in the Chinese Tripitaka and perhaps further examination might greatly increase the number, for the titles of these books are often long and capable of modification. Still it is probable that the major part of this literature was either deliberately rejected by the Chinese or was composed at a period when religious intercourse had become languid between India and China but was still active between India and Tibet. From the titles it appears that many of these works are Brahmanic in spirit rather than Buddhist; thus we have the Mahaganapati-tantra, the Mahakala-tantra, and many others. Among the better known Tantras may be mentioned the Arya-manjusri-mula-tantra and the Sri-Guhya Samaja,[988] both highly praised by Csoma de Koros: but perhaps more important is the Tantra on which the Kalacakra system is founded. It is styled Paramadibuddha-uddhrita-sri-kalacakra and there is also a compendium giving its essence or Hridaya.

The Tanjur is a considerably larger collection than the Kanjur for it consists of 225 volumes but its contents are imperfectly known. A portion has been catalogued by Palmyr Cordier. It is known to contain a great deal of relatively late Indian theology such as the works of Asvaghosha, Nagarjuna, Asanga, Vasubandhu, and other Mahayanist doctors, and also secular literature such as the Meghaduta of Kalidasa, together with a multitude of works on logic, rhetoric, grammar and medicine.[989] Some treatises, such as the Udana[990] occur in both collections but on the whole the Tanjur is clearly intended as a thesaurus of exegetical and scientific literature, science being considered, as in the middle ages of Europe, to be the handmaid of the Church. Grammar and lexicography help the understanding of scripture: medicine has been of great use in establishing the influence of the Lamas: secular law is or should be an amplification of the Church's code: history compiled by sound theologians shows how the true faith is progressive and triumphant: art and ritual are so near together that their boundaries can hardly be delimitated. Taking this view of the world, we find in the Tanjur all that a learned man need know.[991]

It is divided into two parts, mDo (Sutra) and rGyud (Tantra), besides a volume of hymns and an index. The same method of division is really applicable to the Kanjur, for the Tibetan Dulva is little more than a combination of Sutras and Jatakas and sections two, three, four and six of the Kanjur are collections of special sutras. In both compilations the tantric section appears to consist of later books expounding ideas which are further from the teaching of Gotama than the Mahayanist sutras.

To the great majority of works in both collections is prefixed a title which gives the Sanskrit name first in transcription and then in translation, for instance "In Sanskrit Citralakshana: in Tibetan Ri-moi-mthsan-nid."[992] Hence there is usually no doubt as to what the Tibetan translations profess to be. Sometimes however the headings are regrettably brief. The Vinaya for instance appears to be introduced with that simple superscription and with no indication of the school or locality to which the text belonged.

Although the titles of books are given in Sanskrit, yet all Indian proper names which have a meaning (as most have) are translated. Thus the name Drona (signifying a measure and roughly equivalent to such an English name as Dr. Bushell) is rendered by Bre-bo, a similar measure in Tibetan. This habit greatly increases the difficulty of reading Tibetan texts. The translators apparently desired to give a Tibetan equivalent for every word and even for every part of a word, so as to make clear the etymology as well as the meaning of the sacred original. The learned language thus produced must have varied greatly from the vernacular of every period but its slavish fidelity makes it possible to reconstruct the original Sanskrit with tolerable certainty.

I have already mentioned the presence of translations from the Pali. There are also a few from the Chinese[993] which appear to be of no special importance. One work is translated from the Bruza language which was perhaps spoken in the modern Gilgit[994] and another from the language of Khotan.[995] Some works in the Kanjur have no Sanskrit titles and are perhaps original compositions in Tibetan. The Tanjur appears to contain many such.

But the Kanjur and Tanjur as a whole represent the literature approved by the late Buddhism of Bengal and certain resemblances to the arrangement of the Chinese Tripitaka suggest that not only new sutras but new classifications of sutras had replaced the old Pitakas and Agamas. The Tibetan Canon being later than the Chinese has lost the Abhidharma and added a large section of Tantras. But both canons recognize the divisions known as Prajna-paramita, Ratnakuta, Avatamsaka, and Mahaparinirvana as separate sections. The Ratnakuta is clearly a collection of sutras equivalent to a small Nikaya.[996] This is probably also true of the voluminous Prajna-paramita in its various editions, but the divisions are not commonly treated as separate works except the Vajracchedika. The imperfectly known Avatamsaka Sutra appears to be a similar collection, since it is described as discourses of the Buddha pronounced at eight assemblies. The Mahaparinirvana Sutra though not nominally a collection of sutras (at least in its Pali form) is unique both in subject and structure, and it is easy to understand why it was put in a class by itself.

The translation of all this literature falls into three periods, (i) from the seventh century until the reign of Ralpachan in the ninth, (ii) the reign of Ralpachan, and (in) some decades following the arrival of Atisa in 1038. In the first period work was sporadic and the translations made were not always those preserved in the Kanjur. Thonmi Sanbhota, the envoy sent to India in 616 is said to have made renderings of the Karanda Vyuha and other works (but not those now extant) and three items in the Tanjur are attributed to him.[997] The existence of early translations has been confirmed by Stein who discovered at Endere a Tibetan manuscript of the Salistambhasutra which is said not to be later than about 740 A.D.[998] The version now found in the Kanjur appears to be a revision and expansion of this earlier text.

A few translations from Chinese texts are attributed to the reign of Khri-gtsug-lde-btsan (705-755) and Rockhill calls attention to the interesting statement that he sent envoys to India who learned Sanskrit books by heart and on their return reproduced them in Tibetan. If this was a common habit, it may be one of the reasons why Tibetan translations sometimes show differences in length, arrangement and even subject matter when compared with Sanskrit and Chinese versions bearing the same name. During the reign of Khri-sron-lde-btsan and the visit of Padma-Sambhava (which began in A.D. 747 according to the traditional chronology) the number of translations began to increase. Two works ascribed to the king and one to the saint are included in the canon, but the most prolific writer and translator of this period was Kamalasila. Seventeen of his original works are preserved in the Tanjur and he translated part of the Ratnakuta. The great period of translation—the Augustan age of Tibet as it is often called—was beginning and a solid foundation was laid by composing two dictionaries containing a collection of Sanskrit Buddhist terms.[999]

The Augustus of Tibet was Ralpachan who ruled in the ninth century, though Tibetan and Chinese chronicles are not in accord as to his exact date. He summoned from Kashmir and India many celebrated doctors who with the help of native assistants took seriously in hand the business of rendering the canon into Tibetan. They revised the existing translations and added many more of their own. It is probable that at least half of the works now contained in the Kanjur and Tanjur were translated or revised at this time and that the additions made later were chiefly Tantras (rGyud). On the other hand it is also probable that many tantric translations ascribed to this epoch are really later.[1000] The most prolific of Ralpachan's translators was Jinamitra, a pandit of Kashmir described as belonging to the Vaibhashika school, who translated a large part of the Vinaya and many sutras.[1001] Among the many Tibetan assistants Ye'ses-sde and Dpal-brTsegs are perhaps those most frequently mentioned. These Tibetan translators are commonly described by the title of Lo-tsa-va. As in China the usual procedure seems to have been that an Indian pandit explained the sacred text to a native. The latter then wrote it down, but whereas in China he generally paraphrased whatever he understood, in Tibet he endeavoured to reproduce it with laborious fidelity.

The language of the translations, which is now the accepted form of literary Tibetan, appears to have been an archaic and classical dialect even in the early days of Tibetan Buddhism, for it is not the same as the language of the secular documents dating from the eighth century, which have been found in Turkestan, and it remains unchanged in the earliest and later translations. It may possibly have been the sacred language of the Bonpo[1002] priests.

As narrated in the historical section Buddhism suffered a severe reverse with the death of Ralpachan and it was nearly a century before a revival began. This revival was distinctly tantric and the most celebrated name connected with it is Atisa. According to Csoma de Koros's chronology the Kalacakra system was introduced in 1025 and the eminent translator bLo-ldan-shes-rab,[1003] a follower of Atisa, was born in 1057. It is thus easy to understand how during the eleventh century a great number of tantric works were translated and the published catalogues of the Kanjur and Tanjur confirm the fact, although the authors of the translations are not mentioned so often as in the other divisions. To Atisa is ascribed the revision of many works in the Tantra section of the Kanjur and twenty others composed by him are found in the Tanjur.[1004] It is said that the definitive arrangement of the two collections as we know them was made by Bu-ston early in the thirteenth century.[1005] The Kanjur (but not the Tanjur) was translated into Mongol by order of Khutuktu Khagan (1604-1634) the last prince of the Chakhar Mongols but a printed edition was first published by the Emperor K'ang-Hsi. Though it is said that the Tanjur was translated and printed by order of Ch'ien-Lung, the statement is doubtful. If such a translation was made it was probably partial and in manuscript.[1006]

Manuscripts are still extensively copied and used in Tibet but the Kanjur has been printed from wooden blocks for the last 200 years. There are said to be two printing presses, the older at Narthang near Tashilhunpo where an edition in 100 volumes is produced and another at Derge in the eastern province. This edition is in 108 volumes. An edition was also printed at Peking by order of K'ang-Hsi in red type and with a preface by the Emperor himself.[1007]

Besides the canon the Tibetans possess many religious or edifying works composed in their own language.[1008] Such are the Padma-than-yig, or life of Padma-Sambhava, the works of Tsong-kha-pa, and several histories such as those of Bu-ston, Taranatha, Sum-pa, and hJigs-med-nam-mkha,[1009] biographies of Lamas without number, accounts of holy places, works of private devotion, medical treatises and grammars.

There are also numerous works called Terma which profess to be revelations composed by Padma-Sambhava. They are said to be popular, though apparently not accepted by the Yellow Church.

Although it hardly comes within the scope of the present study, I may mention that there is also some non-Buddhist literature in Tibet, sometimes described as scriptures of the Bon religion and sometimes as folklore. As samples may be cited Laufer's edition and translation of the Hundred Thousand Nagas[1010] and Francke's of parts of the Kesar-saga.[1011]


[Footnote 973: The Tibetan orthography is bKah-hgyur (the translated command) and bsTan-hgyur (the translated explanation). Various spellings are used by European writers such as Kah-gyur, Kandjour, Bkahgyur, etc. Waddell writes Kah-gyur and Tan-gyur.]

[Footnote 974: Though this distinction seems to hold good on the whole, yet it is not strictly observed. Thus the work called Udana and corresponding to the Dhammapada is found in both the Kanjur and Tanjur.]

[Footnote 975: Nanjio's catalogue states that a great many Abhidharma works in Chinese agree with Tibetan, but their titles are not to be found in Csoma's analysis of the Kanjur. They may however be in the Tanjur, which is less fully analyzed.]

[Footnote 976: Analysis of the Dulva, etc., four parts in Asiatic Researches, vol. XX. 1836, by A. Csoma Korosi. Translated into French by Feer, Annales du Musee Guimet, tome 2me, 1881. Index des Kanjur, herausgegeben von I.J. Schmidt (in Tibetan), 1845. Huth, Verzeichnis der in Tibetischen Tanjur, Abtheilung mDo, erhaltenen Werke in Sitzungsber. Berlin. Akad. 1895. P. Cordier, Catalogue du fonds Tibetain de la Bibliotheque Nationale. Beckh, Verzeichnis der tibetischen Handscriften der K. Bibliothek zu Berlin, 1 Abth., Kanjur, 1914. This is an analysis of the edition in 108 volumes, whereas Csoma de Korosi and Feer analyzed the edition in 100 volumes. The arrangement of the two editions is not quite the same. See too Pelliot's review of Beckh's catalogue in J.A. 1914, II. pp. 111 ff. See also Waddell, "Tibetan Manuscripts and Books" in Asiatic Quarterly, July, 1912, pp. 80-113, which, though not an analysis of the Canon, incidentally gives much information.]

[Footnote 977: E.g. Udana (=Dhammapada) by Rockhill, 1892 (transl.), and Beckh (text 1911) Madhyamakavatara: de la Vallee Poussin, 1912, Madyamika-sastra: Max Walleser, 1911 (transl.), Citralakshana, ed. and trans. Laufer, 1913; Feer, Fragments extraits du Kanjur, Annales du Musee Guimet, tome 5me, 1883.]

[Footnote 978: It is also sometimes divided into three Pitakas. When this is done, the Dulva is the Vinaya P., the Ser-chin is the Abhidharma P., and all the other works whether Sutras or Tantras are classed together as the Sutra P.]

[Footnote 979: hDul-ba.]

[Footnote 980: See Nanjio, Nos. 1115-1119, 1122, 1132-4. Rockhill, Pratimoksha Sutra selon la version Tibetaine, 1884. Huth, Tibetische Version der Naihsargikaprayaccittikadharmas, 1891. Finot and Huber, "Le Pratimoksa des Sarvastivadins," J.A. 1913, II. p. 465.]

[Footnote 981: Strictly Ser-phyin.]

[Footnote 982: Waddell in Asiatic Quarterly, 1912, XXXIV. p. 98, renders the title as Vata sangha, which probably represents Avatamsaka. Sarat Chandra Das, sub voce, says Phal-chen-sde-pa=Mahasanghika.]

[Footnote 983: The statements of Nanjio as to "deest in Tibetan" are not quite accurate as regards the edition in 108 volumes. Compare his catalogue with Beckh's.]

[Footnote 984: This statement made by such scholars as Feer (Anal. du Kanjour, p. 288) and Rockhill (Udana, p. x) is of great weight, but I have not found in their works any quotation from the Tibetan translation saying that the original language was not Sanskrit and the titles given by Peer are in Sanskrit not in Pali. I presume it is not meant that the Tibetan text is a translation from a Sanskrit text which corresponds with the Pali text known to us. In Beckh's catalogue of the edition in 108 volumes the same titles occur in the Prajna-paramita section, but without any statement that the works are translated from Pali. See Beckh, p. 12, and Feer, pp. 288 ff.]

[Footnote 985: Life of the Buddha, p. 224, and J.R.A.S. 1899, p. 422.]

[Footnote 986: There is another shorter sutra on the same subject in the mDo section of the Kanjur. Feer, p. 247. In the edition of 108 volumes, the whole section is incorporated in the mDo, Beckh, p. 33.]

[Footnote 987: The word seems originally to mean string or chain.]

[Footnote 988: Apparently not the same as the Tathagata-Guhyaka alias Guhya Samagha described by R. Mitra, Sk. Bud. Lit. p. 261.]

[Footnote 989: See notices of these in four articles by Satiscandra Vidyabhushana in J.A.S. Beng. 1907.]

[Footnote 990: I.e. the Dhammapada.]

[Footnote 991: Huth's analysis of vols. 117-124 of the Tanjur (Sitzungsber. Kon. Preuss. Akad. Wiss. Berlin, 1895) shows that they contain inter alia, eight works on Sanskrit literature and philology besides the Meghaduta, nine on medicine and alchemy with commentaries, fourteen on astrology and divination, three on chemistry (the composition of incense), eight on gnomic poetry and ethics, one encyclopaedia, six lives of the Saints, six works on the Tibetan language and five on painting and fine art. Cordier gives further particulars of the medical works in B.E.F.E.O. 1903, p. 604. They include a veterinary treatise.]

[Footnote 992: See title in Laufer's edition.]

[Footnote 993: See Feer, l.c. for instance, pp. 287, 248.]

[Footnote 994: See Feer, l.c. p. 344, and Laufer, "Die Bruza Sprache" in T'oung Pao, 1908. It is said that King Ru-che-tsan of Brusha or Dusha translated (? what date) the Mula-Tantra and Vyakhya-Tantra into the language of his country. See J.A.S.B. 1882, p. 12. Beckh states that four works have titles in Chinese, one in Bruza and one in Tartar (Hor-gyi-skad-du).]

[Footnote 995: Laufer, ibid. p. 4.]

[Footnote 996: See Nanjio, No. 87, and Feer, l.c. pp. 208-212, but the two works may not be the same. The Tibetan seems to be a collection of 45 sutras.]

[Footnote 997: Rockhill, l.c. p. 212.]

[Footnote 998: Stein, Ancient Khotan, pp. 426-9 and App. B. See also Pelliot in B.E.F.E.O. 1908, pp. 507 ff.]

[Footnote 999: The Mahavyutpatti edited by Minayeff in Bibl. Buddhica and an abridgement.]

[Footnote 1000: According to Feer (Analyse, p. 325) Tibetan historians state that at this epoch kings prohibited the translation of more than a few tantric works.]

[Footnote 1001: Numerous works are also ascribed to Sarvajnadeva and Dharmaka, both of Kashmir, and to the Indian Vidyakaraprabha and Surendrabodhi.]

[Footnote 1002: See Francke in J.R.A.S. 1914, pp. 56-7.]

[Footnote 1003: See Pander, Pantheon, No. 30.]

[Footnote 1004: Waddell, Buddhism, p. 36, gives a list of them.]

[Footnote 1005: It appears to me that there is some confusion between Brom-ston, a disciple of Atisa, who must have flourished about 1060 and Bu-ston, who was born in 1288. Grunwedel says that the latter is credited with the compilations of the Kanjur and Tanjur, but Rockhill (Life of the Buddha, p. 227) describes Bu-ston as a disciple of Atisa.]

[Footnote 1006: See Huth, Geschichte des Budd. in der Mongolei, 291, and Laufer, "Skizze der Mongolischen Literatur" (in Keleti Szemle, 1907), p. 219. Also Pelliot in J.A. 1914, II. pp. 112-3.]

[Footnote 1007: See Laufer in Bull. de l'Acad. de S. Petersbourg, 1909, pp. 567-574. There are some differences in the editions. That of Narthang is said to contain a series of sutras translated from the Pali and wanting in the Red Edition, but not to contain two translations from Chinese which are found in the Red Edition. See the preface to Beckh's catalogue. The MS. analyzed by him was obtained at Peking, but it is not known whence it came. An edition by Ch'ien Lung is mentioned by some authors. It is also said that an edition is printed at Punakha in Bhutan, and another in Mongolian at Kumbum.]

[Footnote 1008: Some of these are probably included in the Tanjur, which has not been fully catalogued. See J.A.S. Beng. 1904, for a list of 85 printed books bought in Lhasa, 1902, and Waddell's article in Asiatic Quarterly, July, 1912, already referred to.]

[Footnote 1009: Edited and translated by Huth as Geschichte des Buddhismus in der Mongolei, 1892.]

[Footnote 1010: Finno Ugrian Society of Helsingfors, 1898.]

[Footnote 1011: Same Society, 1900 and 1902, and J.A.S.B. 1906-7.]


TIBET (continued)


Lamaism may be defined as a mixture of late Indian Buddhism (which is itself a mixture of Buddhism and Hinduism) with various Tibetan practices and beliefs. The principal of these are demonophobia and the worship of human beings as incarnate deities. Demonophobia is a compendious expression for an obsession which victimizes Chinese and Hindus to some extent as well as Tibetans, namely, the conviction that they are at all times surrounded by fierce and terrible beings against whom they must protect themselves by all the methods that religion and magic can supply. This is merely an acute form of the world-wide belief that all nature is animated by good and bad spirits, of which the latter being more aggressive require more attention, but it assumes startlingly conspicuous forms in Tibet because the Church has enlisted all the forces of art, theology and philosophy to aid in this war against demons. The externals of Tibetan worship suffer much from the idea that benevolent deities assume a terrible guise in order to strike fear into the hosts of evil.[1012] The helpers and saviours of mankind such as Avalokita and Tara are often depicted in the shape of raging fiends, as hideous and revolting as a fanciful brush and distorted brain can paint them. The idea inspiring these monstrous images is not the worship of cruelty and terror, but the hope that evil spirits may be kept away when they see how awful are the powers which the Church can summon. Nevertheless the result is that a Lama temple often looks like a pandemonium and meeting house for devil-worship, an Olympus tenanted by Gorgons, Hydras and Furies. It is only fair to say that Tibetan art sometimes represents with success gods and saints in attitudes of repose and authority, and has produced some striking portraits,[1013] but its most marked feature (which it shares with literature) is a morbid love of the monstrous and terrible, a perpetual endeavour to portray fiends surrounded with every circumstance of horror, and still more appalling deities, all eyes, heads and limbs, wreathed with fire, drinking blood from skulls and trampling prostrate creatures to death beneath their feet. Probably the wild and fantastic landscapes of Tibet, the awful suggestions of the spectral mists, the real terrors of precipice, desert and storm have wrought for ages upon the minds of those who live among them.

Like demonophobia, the worship of incarnate deities is common in eastern Asia but here it acquires an extent and intensity unknown elsewhere. The Tibetans show a strange power of organization in dealing with the supernatural. In India incarnations have usually been recognized post-mortem and as incalculable manifestations of the spirit.[1014] But at least since the seventeenth century, the Lamas have accepted them as part of the Church's daily round and administrative work. The practices of Shamanism probably prepared the way, for in his mystic frenzies the Shaman is temporarily inhabited by a god and the extreme ease with which distinguished persons are turned into gods or Bodhisattvas in China and Japan is another manifestation of the same spirit. An ancient inscription[1015] applies to the kings of Tibet the word hphrul which is also used of the Grand Lamas and means that a deity is transformed, or as we say, incarnate in a human person. The Yellow Church officially recognized[1016] the Emperor of China as an incarnation of Manjusri and the Mongols believed the Tsar of Russia to be an incarnation of the White Tara.

The admixtures received by Buddhism in Tibet are not alien to Indian thought. They received an unusual emphasis but India provided terrible deities, like Kali with her attendant fiends, and also the idea that the divine embodies itself in human personalities or special manifestations. Thus Tibetan Buddhism is not so much an amalgam, as a phase of medieval Hindu religion disproportionately developed in some directions. The Lamas have acquired much the same status as the Brahmans. If they could not make themselves a hereditary caste, they at least enforced the principle that they are the necessary intermediaries between gods and men. Though they adopted the monastic system of Buddhism, they are not so much monks as priests and ghostly warriors who understand the art of fighting with demons.

Yet Tibet like Japan could assimilate and transform as well as borrow. The national and original element in Lamaism becomes plain when we compare Tibet with the neighbouring land of Nepal. There late Indian Buddhism simply decayed under an overgrowth of Brahmanism. In Tibet it acquired more life and character than it had in its native Bengal. This new character has something monstrous and fantastic in government as well as art: the magic fortresses of the Snowland, peopled by priests and demons, seem uncanny homes for plain mortals, yet Lamaism has the strength belonging to all genuine expressions of national character and it clearly suits the Tibetans and Mongols. The oldest known form of Tibetan religion had some of the same characteristics. It is called Bon or Pon. It would be outside my province to discuss it here, but even when first heard of it was more than a rude form of animism. In the eighth century its hierarchy was sufficiently strong to oppose the introduction of Buddhism and it possibly contained a pre-buddhist stratum of Iranian ideas.[1017] In later times it adopted or travestied Buddhist dogma, ritual and literature, much as Taoism did in China, but still remained a repository of necromancy, magic, animal sacrifices, devil-dancing, and such like practices, which have in all ages corrupted Tibetan Buddhism though theoretically disapproved.

Of Tibetan Buddhism anterior to 747 there is little to be said. It consisted in the sporadic introduction of books and images from India and did not assume any national character, for it is clear that in this period Tibet was not regarded as a Buddhist country. The first phase deserving the name of Lamaism begins with the arrival of Padma-Sambhava in 747. The Nying-ma-pa or Old School claims to represent his teaching, but, as already mentioned, the various sects have interacted on one another so much that their tenets are hardly distinctive. Still it is pretty clear that what Padma-Sambhava brought with him was the late form of India Buddhism called Mantrayana, closely allied to the Chen Yen of China, and transported to Japan under the name of Shingon and also to the Buddhism of Java as represented in the sculptures of Boroboedoer. The Far East felt shy of the tantric element in this teaching, whereas the Tibetans exaggerated it, but the doctrinal basis is everywhere the same, namely, that there are five celestial Buddhas, of whom Vairocana is the principal and in some sense the origin. These give rise to celestial emanations, female as well as male, and to terrestrial reflexes such as Sakyamuni. Among the other features of Padma-Sambhava's teaching the following may be enumerated with more or less certainty: (a) A readiness to tolerate and incorporate the local cults of the countries where he preached. (b) A free use of spells (dharani) and magical figures (mandala) for the purpose of subduing demons and acquiring supernatural powers. (c) The belief that by such methods an adept can not only summon a deity but assume his form and in fact become the deity. (d) The worship of Amitabha, among other deities, and a belief in his paradise. (e) The presentation of offerings, though not of flesh, in sacrifice[1018] and the performance of ceremonies on behalf of departed souls. (f) The worship of departed and perhaps of living teachers. His image is a conspicuous object of veneration in the Nying-ma-pa sect but he does not appear to have taught the doctrine of hierarchical succession by incarnation. Grunwedel[1019] has pointed out that the later corruptions of Buddhism in northern India, Tibet and Central Asia are connected with the personages known as the eighty-four Mahasiddhas, or great magicians. Their appearance as shown in pictures is that of Brahmanic ascetics rather than of Buddhist Bhikshus, but many of them bear names which are not Indian. Their dates cannot be fixed at present and appear to cover a period from the early centuries of our era up to about 1200, so that they represent not a special movement but a continuous tendency to import into Buddhism very various currents of thought, north Indian, Iranian, Central Asian and even Mohammedan.

The visit of Padma-Sambhava was followed by a period of religious activity which culminated in the ninth century under King Ralpachan, but it does not appear that the numerous translations from Indian works made in this reign did more than supplement and amplify the doctrine already preached. But when after a lengthy eclipse Buddhism was reinstated in the eleventh century under the auspices of Atisa and other foreign teachers we hear of something new, called the Kalacakra[1020] system also known as the Vajrayana. Pending the publication of the Kalacakra Tantra,[1021] it is not easy to make definite statements about this school which presumably marks the extreme point of development or degeneration in Buddhism, but a persistent tradition connects it with a country called Sambhala or Zhambhala, translated in Tibetan as bDe-hbyun or source of happiness. This country is seen only through a haze of myth: it may have been in India or it may have been somewhere in Central Asia, where Buddhism mingled with Turkish ideas.[1022] Its kings were called Kulika and the Tibetan calendar introduced by Atisa is said to have come from it. This fact and the meaning of the word Kalacakra (wheel of time) suggest that the system has some connection with the Turkish cycle of twelve animals used for expressing dates.[1023] A legend[1024] states that Sakyamuni promulgated the Kalacakra system in Orissa (Dhanyakataka) and that Sucandra, king of Sambhala, having miraculously received this teaching wrote the Kalacakra Tantra in a prophetic spirit, although it was not published until 965 A.D. This is really the approximate date of its compilation and I can only add the following disjointed data.[1025]

Tibetan authorities state that it was introduced into Nalanda by a Pandit called Tsilu or Chilu and accepted by Narotapa who was then head of the University. From Nalanda it spread to Tibet. Manjusrikirti, king of Sambhala, is said to have been an exponent of it and to have begun his reign 674 years after the death of the Buddha. But since he is also the second incarnation of the Panchen Lama and since the fourth (Abhayakara) lived about 1075, he may really have been a historical character in the latter part of the tenth century. Its promulgation is also ascribed to a personage called Siddha Pito. It must be late for it is said to mention Islam and Mohammed. It is perhaps connected with anti-mohammedan movements which looked to Kalki, the future incarnation of Vishnu, as their Messiah, for Hindu tradition says that Kalki will be born in Sambhalagrama.[1026] We hear also of a Siddha called Telopa or Tailopa, who was a vigorous opponent of Islam. The mythology of the school is Vishnuite, not Sivaitic, and it is noticeable that the Pancaratra system which had some connection with Kashmir lays stress on the wheel or discus (cakra or sudarsana) of Vishnu which is said to be the support of the Universe and the manifestation of Creative will. The Kalacakra is mentioned as a special form of this cosmic wheel having six spokes.[1027]

The peculiar doctrine of the Buddhist Kalacakra is that there is an Adi-Buddha,[1028] or primordial Buddha God, from whom all other Buddhas are derived. It is possible that it represents a last effort of Central Asian Buddhism to contend with Moslims, which instead of denying the bases of Mohammed's teaching tried to show that monotheism (like everything else) could be found in Buddhism—a method of argument frequent in India. The doctrine of the Adi-Buddha was not however new or really important. For the Indian mind it is implied in the dogma of the three bodies of Buddha, for the Sambhogakaya is practically an Indian Deva and the Dharmakaya is the pantheos or Brahma. Under the influence of the Kalacakra the Lamas did not become theists in the sense of worshipping one supreme God but they identified with the Adi-Buddha some particular deity, varying according to the sects. Thus Samantabhadra, who usually ranks as a Bodhisattva—that is as inferior to a Buddha—was selected by some for the honour. The logic of this is hard to explain but it is clearly analogous to the procedure, common to the oldest and newest phases of Hindu religion, by which a special deity is declared to be not only all the other gods but also the universal spirit.[1029] It does not appear that the Kalacakra Tantra met with general acceptance. It is unknown in China and Japan and not well known in Nepal.[1030]

The Kalacakra adopted all the extravagances of the Tantras and provided the principal Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with spouses, even giving one to the Adi-Buddha himself.[1031] Extraordinary as this is from a Buddhist point of view, it is little more than the Hindu idea that the Supreme Being became male and female for the purpose of producing the universe. But the general effect of the system on monastic and religious life was bad. Celibacy was not observed; morals, discipline and doctrine alike deteriorated. A striking instance is afforded by the ceremonies used by Pagspa when receiving Kublai into the Church. The Tibetan prelate presumably wished to give the Emperor what was best and most important in his creed and selected a formula for invoking a demoniac Buddha.

The latest phase of Lamaism was inaugurated by Tsong-kha-pa's reformation and is still vigorous. Politically and socially it was of capital importance, for it disciplined the priesthood and enabled the heads of the Church to rule Tibet. In doctrine it was not marked by the importation of new ideas, but it emphasized the worship of Avalokita as the patron of Tibet, it systematized the existing beliefs about reincarnation, thereby creating a powerful hierarchy, and it restricted Tantrism, without abolishing it. But many monasteries persistently refused to accept these reforms.

Tibetan mythology and ceremonial have been described in detail by Grunwedel, Waddell and others. The pantheon is probably the largest in the world. All heaven and hell seem to meet in it. The originals of the deities are nearly all to be found in Nepalese Buddhism[1032] and the perplexing multiplicity of Tibet is chiefly due to the habit of representing one deity in many forms and aspects, thus making him a dozen or more personages both for art and for popular worship. The adoration of saints and their images is also more developed than in Nepal and forms some counterpoise to the prevalent demonolatry.

I will not attempt to catalogue this fantastic host but will merely notice the principal elements in it.

The first of these may be called early Buddhist. The figure of Sakyamuni is frequent in poses which illustrate the familiar story of his life and the statue in the cathedral of Lhasa representing him as a young man is the most venerated image in all Tibet. The human Buddhas anterior to him also receive recognition together with Maitreya. The Pratimoksha is still known, the Uposatha days are observed and the details of the ordination services recall the prescriptions of the Pali Vinaya; formulae such as the four truths, the eightfold path and the chain of causation are still in use and form the basis of ethics.

The later (but still not tantric) doctrines of Indian Mahayanism are naturally prominent. The three bodies of Buddha are well known and also the series of five Celestial Buddhas with corresponding Bodhisattvas and other manifestations. I feel doubtful whether the table given by Waddell[1033] can be accepted as a compendium of the Lamaist creed. The symmetry is spoiled by the existence of other groups such as the Thirty Buddhas, the Thousand Buddhas, and the Buddhas of Healing, and also by the habit just mentioned of representing deities in various forms. For instance Amoghapasa, theoretically a form of Avalokita, is in practice distinct. The fact is that Lamaism accepted the whole host of Indian Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, with additions of its own. The classifications made by various sutras and tantras were not sufficiently dogmatic to become articles of faith: chance and fancy determined the prominence and popularity of a given figure. Among the Buddhas those most worshipped are Amitabha, Sakya and Bhaishajyaguru or the Buddha of Healing: among the Bodhisattvas, Avalokita, Maitreya and Manjusri.

There is nothing in the above differing materially from Chinese or Japanese Buddhism. The peculiarities of Tibet are brought out by the tantric phase which those countries eschewed. Three characteristics of Tibetan Tantrism, which are all more or less Indian, may be mentioned. Firstly, all deities, even the most august, become familiar spirits, who are not so much worshipped as coerced by spells. The neophyte is initiated into their mysteries by a special ceremonial:[1034] the adept can summon them, assume their attributes and attain union with them. Secondly, great prominence is given to goddesses, either as the counterparts of male deities or as independent. Thirdly, deities appear in various forms, described as mild, angry or fiendish. It is specially characteristic of Lamaism that naturally benevolent deities are represented as raging in furious frenzy.

Whether the superhuman beings of Tantrism are Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, or Hindu gods like Mahakala, it is correct to describe them as deities, for they behave and are treated like Indian Devas. Besides the relatively old and simple forms of the various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, there are many others which are usually accommodated to the system by being described as protecting spirits, that is virtuous and religious fiends who expend their ferocity on the enemies of the Church.

Of these Protectors there are two classes, which are not mutually exclusive, namely, the tutelary deities of individuals, and the defenders of the faith or tutelaries of the whole Church. The former, who are extremely important in the religious life of the Lamas, are called Yi-dam and may be compared with the Ishta-devatas of the Hindus: the latter or Chos Skyon correspond to the Dharmapalas. Every Lama selects a Yi-dam either for life or for a period. His choice must remain a secret but he himself has no doubts, as after fasting and meditation the deity will appear to him.[1035] Henceforth he every morning repeats formulae which are supposed to give him the appearance of his tutelary and thus scare away hostile demons. The most efficacious tutelaries are tantric forms of the Dhyani Buddhas, especially Vajrasattva, Vajradhara and Amitayus. The deity is represented not in the guise of a Buddha but crowned, robed, and holding a thunderbolt, and his attributes appear to be derived from those of Indra.[1036] In his arms he always clasps a Sakti.

A second class of tutelaries is composed of so-called Buddhas, accompanied by Saktis and terrific in aspect, who are manifestations of the Buddhahood for special purposes. I do not know if this description is theologically correct, for these fantastic figures have no relation to anything deserving the name of Buddhism, but Grunwedel[1037] has shown that they are comparable with the various forms of Siva. This god does not become incarnate like Vishnu but manifests himself from time to time in many shapes accompanied by a retinue who are sometimes merely attendants and sometimes alternative forms of the Lord. Virabhadra, the terrible being created by Siva from himself in order to confound Daksha's sacrifice, is a close parallel to the demoniac Buddhas of Lamaism. Some of them, such as Mahakala and Samvara, show their origin in their names and the rest, such as Hevajra, Buddhakapala and Yamantaka, are similar. This last is a common subject for art, a many headed and many limbed minotaur, convulsed by a paroxysm of devilish passion. Among his heads the most conspicuous is the face of an ox, yet this grotesque demon is regarded as a manifestation of the benign and intellectual Manjusri whose images in other lands are among the most gracious products of Buddhist sculpture.

Most tutelary deities of this class act as defenders of the faith and each sect has one or two as its special guardians.[1038] The idea is ancient for even in the Pitakas, Sakka and other spirits respectfully protect the Buddha's disciples, and the Dharmapalas of Gandharan art are the ancestors of the Chos Skyon. But in Tibet these assume monstrous and manifold disguises. The oldest is Vajrapani and nearly all the others are forms of Siva (such as Acala or Mi-gyo-ba who reappears in Japan as Fudo) or personages of his retinue. Eight of them are often adored collectively under the name of the Eight Terrible Ones. Several of these are well-known figures in Hindu mythology, for though the Lamas usually give Buddhist titles to their principal deities, yet they also venerate Hindu gods, without any explanation of their status. Thus hJigs-med-nam-mkha says that he composed his history with the help of Siva.[1039] The members of this group vary in different enumerations but the following usually form part of it.

(a) Hayagriva,[1040] the horse-necked god. In India he appears to be connected with Vishnu rather than Siva. The magic dagger with which Lamas believe they can stab demons is said to be a form of him. The Mongols regard him as the protector of horses. (b) Yama, the Indian god of the dead, accompanied by a hellish retinue including living skeletons. (c) Mahakala, the form of Siva already mentioned. It was by his inspiration that Pagspa was able to convert Khubilai Khan. (d) Lha-mo, the goddess, that is Devi, the spouse of Siva. (e) lCam-sran, a war god of somewhat uncertain origin but perhaps a Tibetan form of Kartikeya. Other deities frequently included in this group are Yamantaka, mentioned above, Kubera or Vaisravana, the Hindu god of wealth, and a deity called the White Brahma (Thsangspa dKarpo). This last is an ordinary human figure riding on a white horse and brandishing a sword. He wears white clothes and a crown or turban. He is perhaps Kalki who, as suggested above, had some connection with the Kalacakra. The Eight Terrible Ones and their attendants are represented by grotesquely masked figures in the dances and mystery plays enacted by Lamas. These performances are said to be still known among the vulgar as dances of the Red Tiger Devil, but in the hands of the Yellow Church have become a historical drama representing the persecution of Buddhism under King Lang-dar-ma and its ultimate triumph after he has been slain by the help of these ghostly champions.

Lamaist books mention numerous other Indian divinities, such as Brahma, the thirty-three Devas, the Kings of the four quarters, etc. These have no particular place in the system but their appearance in art and literature is natural, since they are decorative though not essential parts of early Buddhism. The same may be said of all the host of Nagas, Yakshas, Rakshasas, etc. But though these multitudinous spirits have been rearranged and classified in conformity with Hindu ideas they are not an importation but rather part of the old folklore of Tibet, in many ways identical with the same stratum of thought in India. Thus the snake demigods or Nagas[1041] occupy in both countries a large place in the popular imagination. In the higher ranks of the Lamaist pantheon all the figures seem to be imported, but some indigenous godlings have retained a place in the lower classes. Such are rDo-rje-legs, at first an opponent of Buddhism as preached by Padma-Sambhava but honoured as a deity after making due submission, and the Five Kings,[1042] a group of fierce spirits, under the presidency of dPe-dkar.

It remains to say a word of the numerous goddesses who play an important part in Tibetan Buddhism, as in Hindu Tantrism. They are usually represented as the female counterparts or better halves of male deities, but some are self-sufficient. The greatest of these goddesses is Tara.[1043] Though Lamaist theology describes her as the spouse of Avalokita she is not a single personality but a generic name applied to a whole class of female deities and, as in many other cases, no clear distinction is drawn between her attendants and the forms which she herself assumes. Originally benevolent and depicted with the attributes of Lakshmi she is transformed by a turn of Tibetan imagination, with which the reader is now familiar, into various terrible shapes and is practically the same as the spouse of Siva, celebrated in the Tantras under countless names. Twenty-one Taras are often enumerated in a list said to be well known even to the laity[1044] and there are others. Among them are (a) the Green Tara, the commonest form in Tibet. (b) The White Tara, much worshipped by Mongols and supposed to be incarnate in the Tsar of Russia, (c) Bhrikuti, a dark blue, angry, frowning form, (d) Ushnishavijaya,[1045] a graceful and benevolent form known to the Japanese. She is mentioned in the Horiuji palm-leaf manuscript which dates from at least 609 A.D. (e) Parnasavari, represented as wearing a girdle of leaves and also called Gandhari, Pisaci and Sarva-Savaranam Bhagavati.[1046] She is apparently the goddess of an aboriginal tribe in India. (f) Kurukulla, a goddess of riches, inhabiting caves. She is said to have given great wealth to the fifth Grand Lama, and though she might be suspected of being a native deity was known in Nepal and India.[1047]

The Goddess Marici, often depicted with Tara, appears to be distinct and in one form is represented with a sow's head and known as Vajravarahi. As such she is incarnate in the abbesses of several monasteries, particularly Samding on lake Yamdok.[1048]

A notice of Tibetan Buddhism can hardly avoid referring to the use of praying wheels and the celebrated formula Om mani padme hum. Though these are among the most conspicuous and ubiquitous features of Lamaism their origin is strangely obscure.[1049] Attempts to connect the praying wheel with the wheel of the law, the cakravartin and other uses of the wheel in Indian symbolism, are irrelevant, for the object to be explained is not really a wheel but a barrel, large or small, containing written prayers, or even a whole library. Those who turn the barrel acquire all the merit arising from repeating the prayers or reading the books. In Tibet this form of devotion is a national mania. People carry small prayer wheels in their hands as they walk and place large ones in rivers to be turned by the current. In China, Japan and Korea we find revolving libraries and occasional praying machines, though not of quite the same form as in Tibet,[1050] but, so far as I know, there is nothing to show that these were not introduced from Tibet into China and thence found their way further East. The hypothesis that they were known in India and thence exported to Tibet on one side and China on the other naturally suggests itself, but the total absence of praying machines in India as well as in the ruined cities of Central Asia and the general Hindu habit of regarding scriptures and spells as words rather than written documents lend it no support. It may be that when the illiterate Tibetans first became acquainted with written prayers, they invented this singular method of utilizing them without reading them.

Equally obscure is the origin of the formula Om mani padme[1051] hum, which permeates Tibet, uttered by every human voice, revolved in countless machines, graven on the rocks, printed on flags. It is obviously a Dharani[1052] and there is no reason to doubt that it came to Tibet with the first introduction of Buddhism, but also no record. The earliest passage hitherto quoted for its occurrence is a Chinese translation made between 980 and 1001 A.D.[1053] and said to correspond with the Kanjur and the earliest historical mention of its use is found in Willelm de Rubruk (1254) and in the writings of Bu-ston.[1054] The first legend of its origin is contained in the Manikambum, a work of doubtful age and authorship but perhaps as old as the fifteenth century.[1055] The popularity of the prayer may date from the time when the pontiffs of Lhasa were recognized as incarnations of Avalokita. The first and last words are mystic syllables such as often occur in these formulae. Mani padme is generally interpreted to mean the jewel in the lotus,[1056] but Thomas has pointed out that it is more consonant with grammar and usage to regard the syllables as one word and the vocative of a feminine title similar to Padmapani, one of Avalokita's many names. The analogy of similar spells supports this interpretation and it seems probable that the formula was originally an invocation of the Sakti under the title of Manipadma, although so far as I know it is now regarded by the Tibetans as an address to the male Avalokita. It has also been suggested that the prominence of this prayer may be due to Manichaean influence and the idea that it contained the name of Mani. The suggestion is not absurd for in many instances Manichaeism and Buddhism were mixed together, but if it were true we should expect to find the formula frequently used in the Tarim basin, but of such use there is no proof.


[Footnote 1012: The Shingon sect in Japan depict benevolent deities in a raging form, Funnu. See Kokka, No. 292, p. 58. The idea goes back to India where the canons of sacred art recognize that deities can be represented in a pacific (santa or saumya) or in a terrific (ugra or raudra) form. See Gopinath Rao, Hindu Iconography, vol. I. p. 19, and vol. II of the same for a lengthy description of the aspects of Siva.]

[Footnote 1013: E.g. Grunwedel, Buddhist art in India, fig. 149, id. Mythologie, fig. 54.]

[Footnote 1014: But there is still a hereditary incarnation of Ganesa near Poona, which began in the seventeenth century. See Asiatic Researches, VII. 381.]

[Footnote 1015: See Waddell in J.R.A.S. 1909, p. 941.]

[Footnote 1016: See e.g. J.A.S.B. 1882, p. 41. The Svayambhu Purana also states that Manjusri lives in China. See J. Buddhist Text Society, 1894, vol. II. part II. p. 33.]

[Footnote 1017: See T'oung Pao, 1908, p. 13. For the Bon generally see also J.A.S. Bengal, 1881, p. 187; Rockhill, Land of the Lamas, pp. 217-218; and T'oung Pao, 1901, pp. 24-44.]

[Footnote 1018: The Lamas offer burnt sacrifices but it is not quite clear whether these are derived from the Indian homa adopted by Tantric Buddhism or from Tibetan and Mongol ceremonies. See, for a description of this ceremony, My Life in Mongolia, by the Bishop of Norwich, pp. 108-114.]

[Footnote 1019: Mythologie des Buddhismus, p. 40.]

[Footnote 1020: In Tibetan Dus-kyi-hkhor-lo. Mongol, Tsagun kurdun.]

[Footnote 1021: Announced in the Bibliotheca Buddhica.]

[Footnote 1022: See Pelliot, Quelques transcriptions apparentAes A Cambhala dans les textes Chinois (in T'oung Pao, vol. XX. 1920, p. 73) for some conjectures. Kulika is translated into Tibetan as Rigs-Ldan. Tibetan texts speak of books coming from Sambhala, see Laufer in T'oung Pao, 1913, p. 596.]

[Footnote 1023: See Laufer in T'oung Pao, 1907, p. 402. In Sumpa's chronology, J.A.S. Beng. p. 46, the reign of a Kulika Emperor seems to be simply a designation for a century.]

[Footnote 1024: See J.A.S.B. 82, p. 225. The king is also (but apparently incorrectly) called Candra-Bhadra.]

[Footnote 1025: See Grunwedel, Mythologie, p. 41. Sarat Chandra Das in J.A.S. Beng. 1882, p. 15, and J.A.S. Beng. 1912, p. 21, being reprints of earlier articles by Csoma de Koros.]

[Footnote 1026: See Kalki Purana. Vishnu Purana, IV. XXIV, Bhag. Pur. XII. ii. 18, and Norman in Trans. III, Int. Congress Religions, vol. II. p. 85. Also Aufrecht, Cat. Cod. Sansk. 73A, 84B.]

[Footnote 1027: See Schrader, Introd. to the Pancaratra, pp. 100-106 and 96.]

[Footnote 1028: See the article "Adi Buddha" by De la Vallee Poussin in Hastings' Encyc. of Religion and Ethics.]

[Footnote 1029: See, for a modern example of this, the Ganesatharvasirshopanishad (Ananda srama edition, pp. 11 and 16) Tvam eva sarvam khalvidam Brahmasi ... Tvam Brahma Tvam Vishnus Tvam Rudras Tvam Indras Tvam Agnis Tvam Vayus Tvam Suryas Tvam Candramas Tvam Brahma. Here Ganesa includes all the deities and the Pantheos. There is also a book called Ganesadarsanam in which the Vedanta sutras are rewritten and Ganesa made equivalent to Brahma. See Madras, Cat. of Sk. MSS. 1910-1913, p. 1030.]

[Footnote 1030: It is just mentioned in S. Levi's Nepal II, p. 385, but is not in Rajendralal Mitra's Catalogue.]

[Footnote 1031: Waddell, Buddhism, p. 131. Pander, Pantheon, p. 59, No. 56.]

[Footnote 1032: Nepalese Buddhism knows not only the Dhyani Buddhas, Saktis and Bodhisattvas including Vajrasattva and Vajradhara, but also deities like Hayagriva, Yamantaka, Bhrikuti, Marici, Kurukulla. In both Nepal and Tibet are found pictures called Thsogs-sin in which the deities of the Pantheon (or at least the principal of them) are grouped according to rank. See for an example containing 138 deities the frontispiece of Getty's Gods of Northern Buddhism.]

[Footnote 1033: Buddhism, pp. 350-1.]

[Footnote 1034: For an outline of the method followed by Tibetans in studying the Tantras, see Journal Buddhist Text Society, 1893, vol. I. part III. pp. 25-6.]

[Footnote 1035: The deity may appear in an unusual form, so the worshipper can easily persuade himself that he has received the desired revelation.]

[Footnote 1036: A figure identified with Indra or Vajrapani is found in Gandhara sculptures.]

[Footnote 1037: Mythologie, p. 97.]

[Footnote 1038: The Dhyani Buddhas however seem to be the Yi-dam of individuals only.]

[Footnote 1039: Huth's edition, p. 1.]

[Footnote 1040: See Buddhist Text Society, vol. II. part II. appendix II. 1904, p. 6.]

[Footnote 1041: See Laufer, "Hundert Tausend Nagas" in Memoirs of Finno-Ugrian Society, 1898.]

[Footnote 1042: Or Five Bodies, sKu-Lna. dPe-dKar or Pe-har is by some authorities identified with the Chinese deity Wei-to. This latter is represented in the outer court of most Chinese temples.]

[Footnote 1043: In Tibetan sGrol-ma, in Mongol Dara aka. For the early history of Tara see Blonay, Materiaux pour servir a l'histoire de ... Tara, 1895.]

[Footnote 1044: Waddell, Buddhism, p. 360.]

[Footnote 1045: Tibetan gTsug-tor-rnam-par-rgyal-ma.]

[Footnote 1046: Cf. Whitehead's statement (Village Gods of S. India, p. 79) that women worshipping certain goddesses are clad only in the twigs of the mimosa tree.]

[Footnote 1047: See Foucher, Icon. Bouddhique, 1900, p. 142, and Taranatha tr. Schiefner, p. 102.]

[Footnote 1048: See Waddell. Grunwedel seems to regard Vajra-Varahi as distinct from Marici.]

[Footnote 1049: As for instance is also the origin of Linga worship in India.]

[Footnote 1050: See Steiner in Mitth. der Deutsch. Gesellsch. Natur-u. Volkerkunde Ost-Asiens, 1909-10, p. 35.]

[Footnote 1051: Padme is said to be commonly pronounced peme.]

[Footnote 1052: Waddell quotes a similar spell known in both Tibet and Japan, but addressed to Vairocana. Om Amogha Vairocanamahamudra mani padma jvalapravarthtaya hum. Buddhism, p. 149.]

[Footnote 1053: Divyavadana (Cowell and Neil), pp. 613-4, and Raj. Mitra, Nepalese Bud. Lit. p. 98. See also the learned note of Chavannes and Pelliot, based on Japanese sources in J.A. 1913, I. 314. The text referred to is Nanjio, No. 782. It is not plain if it is the same as earlier translations with similar titles. A mantra of six syllables not further defined is extolled in the Divyavadana and the Gunakarandavyuha.]

[Footnote 1054: Bu-ston was born in 1288 and the summary of his writings contained in the Journal of the Buddhist Text Society, vol. I. 1893, represents the formula as used in the times of Atisa, c. 1030.]

[Footnote 1055: See for this legend, which is long but not very illuminating, Rockhill's Land of the Lamas, pp. 326-334.]

[Footnote 1056: J.R.A.S. 1906, p. 464, and Francke, ib. 1915, pp. 397-404. He points out the parallel between the three formulae: Om vagisvari mum: Om manipadme hum: Om vajrapani hum. The hymn to Durga in Mahabhar. Bhishmapar, 796 (like many other hymns) contains a long string of feminine vocatives ending in e or i.]


TIBET (continued)


Lamaism is divided into various sects, which concern the clergy rather than the laity. The differences in doctrine are not very important. Each sect has special tutelary deities, scriptures and practices of its own but they all tend to borrow from one another whatever inspires respect or attracts worshippers. The baser sort try to maintain their dignity by imitating the institutions of the superior sects, but the superior cannot afford to neglect popular superstitions. So the general level is much the same. Nevertheless, these sectarian differences are not without practical importance for each sect has monasteries and a hierarchy of its own and is outwardly distinguished by peculiarities of costume, especially by the hat. Further, though the subject has received little investigation, it is probable that different sects possess different editions of the Kanjur or at any rate respect different books.[1057] Since the seventeenth century the Gelugpa has been recognized as the established church and the divinity of the Grand Lama is not disputed, but in earlier times there were many monastic quarrels and forced conversions. In the eighteenth century the Red clergy intrigued with the Gurkhas in the hope of supplanting their Yellow brethren and even now they are so powerful in eastern Tibet that this hope may not be unreasonable, should political troubles shake the hierarchy of Lhasa. In spite of the tendency to borrow both what is good and what is bad, some sects are on a higher grade intellectually and morally than others. Thus the older sects do not insist on celibacy or abstinence from alcohol, and Tantrism and magic form the major part of religion, whereas the Gelugpa or established church maintains strict discipline, and tantric and magical rites, though by no means prohibited, are at least practised in moderation.

Setting aside the earliest period, the history of Buddhism in Tibet is briefly that it was established by Padma-Sambhava about 750, reformed by Atisa about 1040 and again reformed by Tsong-kha-pa about 1400. The sects correspond to these epochs. The oldest claims to preserve the teaching of Padma-Sambhava, those of middle date are offshoots of the movement started by Atisa, and the newest represents Atisa's principal sect corrected by the second reformation. The oldest sect is known as Nying-ma-pa or rNyin-ma-pa, signifying the old ones, and also as the Red Church from the colour of the hats worn by the clergy. Among its subdivisions one called the sect of Udyana,[1058] in reference to Padma-Sambhava's birthplace, appears to be the most ancient and still exists in the Himalayas and eastern Tibet. The Nying-ma Lamas are said to have kept the necromancy of the old Tibetan religion more fully than any of the reformed sects. They pay special worship to Padma-Sambhava and accept the revelations ascribed to him. Celibacy and abstinence are rarely observed in their monasteries but these are by no means of low repute. Among the more celebrated are Dorje-dag and Mindolling: the great monastery of Pemiongchi[1059] in Sikhim is a branch establishment of the latter.

Of the sects originating in Atisa's reformation the principal was the Kadampa,[1060] but it has lost much of its importance because it was remodelled by Tsong-kha-pa and hence hardly exists to-day as an independent body. The Sakya sect is connected with the great monastery of the same name situated about fifty miles to the north of Mount Everest and founded in 1071 by Sakya, a royal prince. It acquired great political importance, for from 1270 to 1340 its abbots were the rulers of Tibet. The historian Taranatha belonged to one of its sub-sects, and about 1600 settled in Mongolia where he founded the monastery of Urga and established the line of reincarnate Lamas which still rules there. But shortly after his death this monastery was forcibly taken over by the Yellow Church and is still the centre of its influence in Mongolia. In theology the Sakya offers nothing specially distinctive but it mixes the Tantras of the old and new sects and according to Waddell[1061] is practically indistinguishable from the Nying-ma-pa. The same is probably true of the Kar-gyu-pa[1062] said to have been founded by Marpa and his follower Milarapa, who set an example of solitary and wandering lives. It is sometimes described as a Nying-ma sect[1063] but appears to date from after Atisa's reforms, although it has a strong tendency to revert to older practices. It has several important sub-sects, such as the Karmapa found in Sikhim and Darjiling, as well as in Tibet, the Dugpa which is predominant in Bhotan and perhaps in Ladak,[1064] and the Dikung-pa, which owns a large monastery one hundred miles north-east of Lhasa. Milarapa (or Mila), the cotton-clad saint who wandered over the Snow-land in the light garments of an Indian ascetic, is perhaps the post picturesque figure in Lamaism and in some ways reminds us of St. Francis of Assisi.[1065] He was a worker of miracles and, what is rarer in Tibet, a poet. His compositions known as the Hundred Thousand Songs are still popular and show the same delicately sensitive love of nature as the Psalms of the Theragatha.

The main distinction is between the Gelugpa or Yellow Church and all the other sects. This is merely another way of saying that Atisa reformed the corrupt superstitions which he found but that his reformed church in its turn became corrupt and required correction. This was given by Tsong-kha-pa who belonged originally to the Kadampa. He collected the scattered members of this sect, remodelled its discipline, and laid the foundations of the system which made the Grand Lamas rulers of Tibet. In externals the Gelugpa is characterized by the use of the yellow cap and the veneration paid to Tsong-kha-pa's image. Its Lamas are all celibate and hereditary succession is not recognized. Among the many great establishments which belong to it are the four royal monasteries or Ling in Lhasa; Gandan, Depung and Serra near Lhasa; and Tashilhunpo.

It has often been noticed that the services performed by the Gelugpa[1066] and by the Roman Catholic Church are strangely similar in appearance. Is this an instance of borrowing or of convergence? On the one hand it is stated that there were Roman missions in Amdo in Tsong-kha-pa's youth, and the resemblances are such as would be natural if he had seen great celebrations of the mass and taken hints. In essentials the similarity is small but in externals such as the vestments and head-dresses of the officiants, the arrangement of the choir, and the general mise-en-scene, it is striking. On the other hand many points of resemblance in ceremonial, though not all, are also found in the older Japanese sects, where there can hardly be any question of imitating Christianity, and it would seem that a ritual common to Tibet and Japan can be explained only as borrowed from India. Further, although Tsong-kha-pa may have come in contact with missionaries, is it likely that he had an opportunity of seeing Roman rites performed with any pomp? It is in the great choral services of the two religions that the resemblance is visible, not in their simpler ritual. For these reasons, I think that the debt of Lamaism to the Catholic Church must be regarded as not proven, while admitting the resemblance to be so striking that we should be justified in concluding that Tsong-kha-pa copied Roman ceremonial, could it be shown that he was acquainted with it.

The life and ritual of the Lamas have often been described, and I need not do more than refer the reader to the detailed account given by Waddell in his Buddhism of Tibet ,[1067] but it is noticeable that the monastic system is organized on a larger scale and inspired by more energy than in any other country. The monasteries of Tibet, if inferior to those of Japan in the middle ages, are the greatest Buddhist establishments now existing. For instance Depung has 7000 monks, Serra 5500 and Tashilhunpo 3800: at Urga in Mongolia there are said to be 14,000. One is not surprised to hear that these institutions are veritable towns with their own police and doubtless the spirit of discipline learned in managing such large bodies of monks has helped the Lamaist Church in the government of the country. Also these monasteries are universities. Candidates for ordination study a course of theology and are not received as novices or full monks unless they pass successive examinations. In every monastery there is a central temple in which the monks assemble several times a day to chant lengthy choral offices. Of these there are at least five, the first before dawn and the last at 7 p.m. Though the value of Lamas' learning and ritual may be questioned, it is clear that many of them lead strenuous lives in the service of a religion which, if fantastic, still expresses with peculiar intensity the beliefs and emotions of the Tibetans and Mongols and has forced men of violence to believe that a power higher than their own is wielded by intellect and asceticism.

There seems to be no difference between Tibetan and Mongolian Lamaism in deities, doctrines or observances.[1068] Mongolian Lamas imitate the usages of Tibet, study there when they can and recite their services in Tibetan, although they have translations of the scriptures in their own language. Well read priests in Peking have told me that it is better to study the canon in Tibetan than in Mongol, because complete copies in Mongol, if extant, are practically unobtainable.

The political and military decadence of the Mongols has been ascribed by some authors to Lamaism and to the substitution of priestly for warlike ideals. But such a substitution is not likely to have taken place except in minds prepared for it by other causes and it does not appear that the Moslims of Central Asia are more virile and vigorous than the Buddhists. The collapse of the Mongols can be easily illustrated if not explained by the fate of Turks and Tartars in the Balkan Peninsula and Russia. Wherever the Turks are the ruling race they endeavour to assert their superiority over all Christians, often by violent methods. But when the positions are reversed and the Christians become rulers as in Bulgaria, the Turks make no resistance but either retire or acquiesce meekly in the new regime.


[Footnote 1057: See for instance the particulars given as to various branches of the Nying-ma pa sect in J.A.S.B. 1882, pp. 6-14.]

[Footnote 1058: Urgyen-pa or Dzok-chen-pa.]

[Footnote 1059: Or Pemayangtse.]

[Footnote 1060: bKah-gDams-pa.]

[Footnote 1061: Buddhism, p. 70.]

[Footnote 1062: bKah-brGyud-pa.]

[Footnote 1063: Sandberg, Handbook of Tibetan, p. 207.]

[Footnote 1064: Authorities differ as to the name of the sect which owns Himis and other monasteries in Ladak.]

[Footnote 1065: See for some account of him and specimens of his poems, Sandberg, Tibet and the Tibetans, chap. XIII.]

[Footnote 1066: I do not know whether the ceremonies of the other sects offer the same resemblance. Probably they have all imitated the Gelugpa. Some authors attribute the resemblance to contact with Nestorian Christianity in early times but the resemblance is definitely to Roman costumes and ceremonies not to those of the Eastern church. Is there any reason to believe that the Nestorian ritual resembled that of western catholics?]

[Footnote 1067: See also Filchner, Das Kloster Kumbum, 1906.]

[Footnote 1068: Almost the only difference that I have noticed is that whereas Tibetans habitually translate Indian proper names, Mongols frequently use Sanskrit words, such as Manjusri, or slightly modified forms such as Dara, Maidari (=Tara, Maitreya). The same practice is found in the old Uigur translations. See Bibl. Buddh. XII. Tisastvustik. For an interesting account of contemporary Lamaism in Mongolia see Binstead, "Life in a Khalkha Steppe Monastery," J.R.A.S. 1914, 847-900.]



This work as originally planned contained a section on Japanese Buddhism consisting of three chapters, but after it had been sent to the publishers I was appointed H.M. Ambassador in Tokyo and I decided to omit this section. Let not any Japanese suppose that it contained disparaging criticism of his country or its religions. It would, I hope, have given no offence to either Buddhists or Shintoists, but an ambassador had better err on the side of discretion and refrain from public comments on the institutions of the country to which he is accredited.

The omission is regrettable in so far as it prevents me from noticing some of the most interesting and beautiful developments of Buddhism, but for historical purposes and the investigation of the past the loss is not great, for Japanese Buddhism throws little light on ancient India or even on ancient China. It has not influenced other countries. Its interest lies not in the relics of antiquity which it has preserved but in the new shape and setting which a race at once assimilative and inventive has given to old ideas.

Though the doctrine of the Buddha reached Japan from China through Korea,[1069] Chinese and Japanese Buddhism differ in several respects. Lamaism never gained a footing in Japan, probably because it was the religion of the hated Mongols. There was hardly any direct intercourse with India. Whereas the state religion of China was frequently hostile to Buddhism, in Japan such relations were generally friendly and from the seventh century until the Meiji era an arrangement known as Ryo-bu Shinto or two-fold Shinto was in force, by which Shinto shrines were with few exceptions handed over to the custody of Buddhist priests, native deities and historical personages being declared to be manifestations of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Again, Buddhism in Japan has had a more intimate connection with social, political and even military matters in various periods than in China. This is one reason for its chief characteristic, namely, the large number and distinct character of its sects. They are not merely schools like the religious divisions of India and China, but real sects with divergent doctrines and sometimes antagonistic to one another.

It became the fashion in Japan to talk of the twelve sects, but the names given are not always the same.

One of the commonest lists is as follows:[1070]

1. Kusha. 5. Hosso. 9. Jodo. 2. Jo-jitsu. 6. Kegon. 10. Zen. 3. Ritsu-shu or Risshu 7. Tendai. 11. Shin. 4. Sanron. 8. Shingon. 12. Nichiren.

This list is historically correct, but Nos. 1-4 are almost or quite extinct, and the number twelve is therefore sometimes made up as follows:

1. Hosso. 5. Yuzu Nembutsu. 9. Obaku. 2. Kegon. 6. Jodo. 10. Shin. 3. Tendai. 7. Rinzai. 11. Nichiren. 4. Shingon. 8. Sodo. 12. Ji.

Here Nos. 7, 8, 9 are subdivisions of the Zen and 5 and 12 are two small sects.

Taking the first list, we may easily distinguish two classes. The first eight, called by the Japanese Hasshu, are all old and all imported from China. They represent the Buddhism of the Nara and Hei-an periods. The other four all arose after 1170 and were all remodelled, if not created, in Japan. Chronologically the sects may be arranged as follows, the dates marking the foundation or introduction of each:

(i) Seventh century: Sanron, 625; Jo-jitsu, 625; Hosso, 657; Kusha, 660. (ii) Eighth century: Kegon, 735; Ritsu, 745. (iii) Ninth century: Tendai, 805; Shingon, 806. (iv) Twelfth and thirteenth centuries: Yuzu Nembutsu, 1123; Jodo, 1174; Zen, 1202; Shin, 1224; Nichiren, 1253; Ji, 1275.

All Japanese sects of importance are Mahayanist. The Hinayana is represented only by the Kusha, Jo-jitsu and Risshu. The two former are both extinct: the third still numbers a few adherents, but is not anti-Mahayanist. It merely insists on the importance of discipline.

Though the Hosso and Kegon sects are not extinct, their survival is due to their monastic possessions rather than to the vitality of their doctrines, but the great sects of the ninth century, the Tendai and Shingon, are still flourishing. For some seven hundred years, especially in the Fujiwara period, they had great influence not only in art and literature, but in political and even in military matters, for they maintained large bodies of troops consisting of soldier monks or mercenaries and were a considerable menace to the secular authority. So serious was the danger felt to be that in the sixteenth century Nobunaga and Hideyoshi destroyed the great monasteries of Hieizan and Negoro and the pretensions of the Buddhist Church to temporal power were brought to an end.

But apart from this political activity, new sects which appeared in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries suited the popular needs of the time and were a sign of true religious life. Two of these sects, the Jodo and Shinshu,[1071] are Amidist—that is to say they teach that the only or at least the best way of winning salvation is to appeal to the mercy of Amida, who will give his worshippers a place in his paradise after death. The Jodo is relatively old fashioned, and does not differ much in practice from the worship of Amida as seen in China, but the Shinshu has no exact parallel elsewhere. Though it has not introduced many innovations in theology, its abandonment of monastic discipline, its progressive and popular spirit and its conspicuous success make it a distinct and remarkable type. Its priests marry and eat meat: it has no endowments and relies on voluntary subscription, yet its temples are among the largest and most conspicuous in Japan. But the hierarchical spirit is not absent and since Shinshu priests can marry, there arose the institution of hereditary abbots who were even more like barons than the celibate prelates of the older sects.

The Nichiren sect is a purely Japanese growth, without any prototype in China, and is a protest against Amidism and an attempt to restore Shaka—the historical Buddha—to his proper position from which he has been ousted. Nichiren, the founder, is one of the most picturesque figures of Japanese history. His teaching, which was based on the Lotus Sutra, was remarkable for its combative spirit and he himself played a considerable part in the politics of his age. His followers form one of the most influential and conspicuous sects at the present day, although not so numerous as the Amidists.

Zen is the Japanese equivalent of Ch'an or Dhyana and is the name given to the sect founded in China by Bodhidharma. It is said to have been introduced into Japan in the seventh century, but died out. Later, under the Hojo Regents, and especially during the Ashikaga period, it flourished exceedingly. Zen ecclesiastics managed politics like the French cardinals of the seventeenth century and profoundly influenced art and literature, since they produced a long line of painters and writers. But the most interesting feature in the history of this sect in Japan is that, though it preserves the teaching of Bodhidharma without much change, yet it underwent a curious social metamorphosis, for it became the chosen creed of the military class and contributed not a little to the Bushido or code of chivalry. It is strange that this mystical doctrine should have spread among warriors, but its insistence on simplicity of life, discipline of mind and body, and concentration of thought harmonized with their ideals.

Apart from differences of doctrine such as divide the Shinshu, Nichiren and Zen, Japanese sects show a remarkable tendency to multiply subdivisions, due chiefly to disputes as to the proper succession of abbots. Thus the Jodo sect has four subsects, and the first and second of these are again subdivided into six and four respectively. And so with many others. Even the little Ji sect, which is credited with only 509 temples in all Japan, includes thirteen subdivisions.


[Footnote 1069: The accepted date is A.D. 552.]

[Footnote 1070: These names are mostly borrowed from the Chinese and represent: 1. Chu-she; 2. Ch'eng-shih; 3. Lu; 4. San-lun; 5. Fa-hsiang; 6. Hua-yen; 7. T'ien-t'ai; 8. Chen-yen; 9. Ching-t'u; 10. Ch'an. See my remarks on these sects in the section on Chinese Buddhism. See Haas, Die Sekten dea Japanischen Buddhismus, 1905: many notices in the same author's Annalen des Jap. Bud. cited above and Ryauon Fujishima, Le Buddhisme Japonais, 1889.]

[Footnote 1071: As well as the smaller sects called Ji and Yuzunembutsu.]:





In phrases like the above title, the word influence is easy and convenient. When we hesitate to describe a belief or usage as borrowed or derived, it comes pat to say that it shows traces of external influence. But in what circumstances is such influence exercised? It is not the necessary result of contact, for in the east of Europe the Christian Church has not become mohammedanized nor in Poland and Roumania has it contracted any taint of Judaism. In these cases there is difference of race as well as of religion. In business the Turk and Jew have some common ground with the oriental Christian: in social life but little and in religion none at all. Europe has sometimes shown an interest in Asiatic religions, but on the whole an antipathy to them. Christianity originated in Palestine, which is a Mediterranean rather than an Asiatic country, and its most important forms, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, took shape on European soil. Such cults as the worship of Isis and Mithra were prevalent in Europe but they gained their first footing among Asiatic slaves and soldiers and would perhaps not have maintained themselves among European converts only. And Buddhism, though it may have attracted individual minds, has never produced any general impression west of India. Both in Spain and in south-eastern Europe Islam was the religion of invaders and made surprisingly few converts. Christian heretics, such as the Nestorians and Monophysites, who were expelled from Constantinople and had their home in Asia, left the west alone and proselytized in the east. The peculiar detestation felt by the Church for the doctrines of the Manichaeans was perhaps partly due to the fact that they were in spirit Asiatic. And the converse of this antipathy is also true: the progress of Christianity in Asia has been insignificant.

But when people of the same race profess different creeds, these creeds do influence one another and tend to approximate. This is specially remarkable in India, where Islam, in theory the uncompromising opponent of image worship and polytheism, is sometimes in practice undistinguishable from the lower superstitions of Hinduism. In the middle ages Buddhism and Hinduism converged until they coincided so completely that Buddhism disappeared. In China it often needs an expert to distinguish the manifestations of Taoism and Buddhism: in Japan Buddhism and the old national religion were combined in the mixed worship known as Ryobu Shinto. In the British Isles an impartial observer would probably notice that Anglicans and English Roman Catholics (not Irish perhaps) have more in common than they think.

There are clearly two sets of causes which may divide a race between religions: internal movements, such as the rise of Buddhism, and external impulses, such as missions or conquest. Conquest pure and simple is best illustrated by the history of Islam, also by the conversion of Mexico and South America to Roman Catholicism. But even when conversion is pacific, it will generally be found that, if it is successful on a large scale, it means the introduction of more than a creed. The religious leader in his own country can trust to his eloquence and power over his hearers. The real support of the missionary, however little he may like the idea, is usually that he represents a superior type of civilization. At one time in their career Buddhism and Christianity were the greatest agencies for spreading civilization in Asia and Europe respectively. They brought with them art and literature: they had the encouragement of the most enlightened princes: those who did not accept them in many cases remained obviously on a lower level. Much the same thing happens in Africa to-day. The natives who accept Mohammedanism or Christianity are moved, not by the arguments of the Koran or Bible, but by the idea that it is a fine thing to be like an Arab or a European. A pagan in Uganda is literally a pagan; an uninstructed rustic from a distant village.

Now if we consider the relations of India with the west, we find on neither side the conditions which usually render propaganda successful. Before the Mohammedan invasions and the Portuguese conquest of Goa, no faith can have presented itself to the Hindus with anything like the prestige which marked the advent of Buddhism in China and Japan. Alexander opened a road to India for Hellenic culture and with it came some religious ideas, but the Greeks had no missionary spirit and if there were any early Christian missions they must have been on a small scale. The same is true of the west: if Asoka's missions reached their destination, they failed to inspire any record of their doings. Still there was traffic by land and sea. The Hindus, if self-complacent, were not averse to new ideas, and before the establishment of Christianity there was not much bigotry in the west, for organized religion was unknown in Europe: practices might be forbidden as immoral or anti-social but such expressions as contrary to the Bible or Koran had no equivalent. Old worships were felt to be unsatisfying: new ones were freely adopted: mysteries were relished. There was no invasion, nothing that suggested foreign conquest or alarmed national jealousy, but the way was open to ideas, though they ran some risk of suffering transformation on their long journey.

As I have repeatedly pointed out, Hinduism and Buddhism are essentially religions of central and eastern, not of western Asia, but they came in contact with the west in several regions and an enquiry into the influence which they exercised or felt can be subdivided. There is the question whether they owe anything to Christianity in their later developments and also the question whether Christianity has borrowed anything from them.[1072] Other questions to be considered are the relations of Indian religions to Zoroastrianism in ancient and to Islam in more recent times, which, if of less general interest than problems involving Christianity, are easier to investigate and of considerable importance.

Let us begin with the influence of Christianity on Indian religion. For earlier periods the record of contact between Hindus and Christians is fragmentary, but the evidence of the last two centuries may give a significant indication as to the effect of early Christian influence. In these two centuries Christianity has been presented to the Hindus in the most favourable circumstances: it has come as the religion of the governing power and associated with European civilization: it has not, like Mohammedanism, been propagated by force or accompanied by any intolerance which could awaken repugnance, but its doctrines have been preached and expounded by private missionaries, if not always with skill and sympathy, at least with zeal and a desire to persuade. The result is that according to the census of 1911 there are now 3,876,000 Christians including Europeans, that is to say, a sect a little stronger than the Sikhs as against more than sixty-six million Mohammedans. Of these 3,876,000 many are drawn from the lowest castes or from tribes that are hardly considered as Hindus. Some religious associations, generally known as Somaj, have been founded under the influence of European philosophy as much as of Christianity: imitation of European civilization (which is quite a different thing from Christianity) is visible in the objects and methods of religious and philanthropic institutions: some curious mixed sects of small numerical strength have been formed by the fusion of Christian with Hindu or Mohammedan elements or of all three together. Yet the religious thought and customs of India in general seem hardly conscious of contact with Christianity: there is no sign that they have felt any fancy for the theology of the Athanasian Creed or the ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church which might have interested speculative and ritualistic minds. Similarly, though intellectual intercourse between India and China was long and fairly intimate and though the influence of Indian thought on China was very great, yet the influence of China on Indian thought is negligible. This being so, it would be rash to believe without good evidence that, in the past, doctrines which have penetrated Indian literature during centuries and have found acceptance with untold millions owe their origin to obscure foreign colonists or missions.

Writers who wish to prove that Indian religions are indebted to Christianity often approach their task with a certain misconception. They assume that if at some remote epoch a few stray Christians reached India, they could overcome without difficulty the barriers of language and social usage and further that their doctrine would be accepted as something new and striking which would straightway influence popular superstition and philosophic thought. But Lyall gives a juster perspective in his poem about the Meditations of a Hindu Prince who, grown sceptical in the quest of truth, listens to the "word of the English," and finds it:

"Naught but the world wide story how the earth and the heavens began, How the gods were glad and angry and a deity once was man."

Many doctrines preached by Christianity such as the love of God, salvation by faith, and the incarnation, had been thought out in India before the Christian era, and when Christian missionaries preached them they probably seemed to thoughtful Hindus a new and not very adequate version of a very old tale. On the other hand the central and peculiar doctrine of dogmatic Christianity is that the world has been saved by the death of Christ. If this doctrine of the atonement or the sacrifice of a divine being had appeared in India as an importation from the west, we might justly talk of the influence of Christianity on Indian religion. But it is unknown in Hinduism and Buddhism or (since it is rash to make absolute statements about these vast and multifarious growths of speculation) it is at any rate exceedingly rare. These facts create a presumption that the resemblances between Christianity and Indian religion are due to coincidence rather than borrowing, unless borrowing can be clearly proved, and this conclusion, though it may seem tame, is surely a source of satisfaction. The divagations of human thought are manifold and its conclusions often contradictory, but if there is anything that can be called truth it is but natural that logic, intuition, philosophy, poetry, learning and saintship should in different countries sometimes attain similar results.

Christianity, like other western ideas, may have reached India both by land and by sea. After the conquests of Alexander had once opened the route to the Indus and established Hellenistic kingdoms in its vicinity, the ideas and art of Greece and Rome journeyed without difficulty to the Panjab, arriving perhaps as somewhat wayworn and cosmopolitan travellers but still clearly European. A certain amount of Christianity may have come along this track, but for any historical investigation clearly the first question is, what is the earliest period at which we have any record of its presence in India? It would appear[1073] that the first allusions to the presence of Christians in Parthia, Bactria and the border lands of India date from the third century and that the oldest account[1074] of Christian communities in southern India is the narrative of Cosmas Indicopleustes (c. 525 A.D.). These latter Christians probably came to India by sea from Persia in consequence of the persecutions which raged there in 343 and 414, exactly as at a later date the Parsees escaped the violence of the Moslims by emigrating to Gujarat and Bombay.

The story that the Apostle Thomas preached in some part of India has often been used as an argument for the early introduction and influence of Christianity, but recent authorities agree in thinking that it is legendary or at best not provable. The tale occurs first in the Acts of St. Thomas,[1075] the Syriac text of which is considered to date from about 250. It relates how the apostle was sold as a slave skilled in architecture and coming to the Court of Gundaphar, king of India, undertook to build, a palace but expended the moneys given to him in charity and, when called to account, explained that he was building for the king a palace in heaven, not made with hands. This sounds more like an echo of some Buddhist Jataka written in praise of liberality than an embellishment of any real biography. Other legends make southern India the sphere of Thomas's activity, though he can hardly have taught in both Madras and Parthia, and a similar uncertainty is indicated by the tradition that his relics were transported to Edessa, which doubtless means that according to other accounts he died there. Tradition connects Thomas with Parthians quite as much as with Indians, and, if he really contributed to the diffusion of Christianity, it is more likely that he laboured in the western part of Parthia than on its extreme eastern frontiers. The fact that there really was an Indo-Parthian king with a name something like Gondophares no more makes the legend of St. Thomas historical than the fact that there was a Bohemian king with a name something like Wenceslas makes the Christmas carol containing that name historical.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15     Next Part
Home - Random Browse