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Deputed four men to accompany him wherever he went, Whilst they, going back to the king, considered what they should say."
The Discussion with Alara' (Arada).
§ 2. And now B6dhisatwa, leaving these two deputies sent by his father in the midst of their sorrow, slowly advanced towards the city of Vaisali. Just before arriving at that city in the very highway towards it, dwelt a certain Rishi, engaged in his religious duties, called Alara, his family name being Kalada. Now this Rishi had a brother who observed Bodhisatwa a long way off approaching the spot, who, after seeing him, was filled with awe, never before having seen such a thing as he then witnessed. Immediately repairing to the place where his Master's disciples were seated, on arriving, he exclaimed in the presence of them all, calling them severally by name—" Mitra ma(nava)! (and so on) let your heart rejoice, give up your present service and worship of the Gods; for the son of Suddhodana, the Lord of the Sakyas, desiring to escape from sorrow and attain Supreme Wisdom, is coming here, bright and glorious as a golden pillar, his body full of grace and beauty, his shoulders straight and upright (t'ang-t'ang), his hands reaching below his knees, underneath his feet the symbol of the thousand-spoked wheel, his gait slow and graceful as that of the Ox-king, his body encircled with glory like the shining of the sun, clad in a Kashya garment, his appearance venerable and reverend beyond measure, gradually he is coming this way, towards us. Let us then strive to pay him due homage, and show him ungrudging reverence."
Then those Manavas sounded forth this strain of praise—
The thousand-spoked discus beneath the soles of his feet,
After they had uttered these stanzas, the first person spoken of addressed the others thus—" Ye Manavas! let us now as a body proceed together to the presence of our Master." After arriving there, and having repeated the above stanzas, suddenly .B3dhisatwa reached the spot where Alara was; seeing whom the Rishi exclaimed in aloud voice—"Welcome! holy youth!" and so they stood facing one another with some degree of uncertainty, until Alara invited Bodhisatwa to sit down on a grass mat; as the Gatha says—
"The two looking at one another with great joy,
Then, B6dhisatwa being seated, Alara observed his person from head to foot, and conceived great delight in his heart, and immediately addressed him in soft and courteous words — " Venerable G6tama! long ago I heard of your intention to resign the kingdom, leave your home and become a recluse, to cast off the trammels of love and affection even as the elephant breaks away from his bonds, and asserts his freedom. Even so! illustrious youth, have you this day done. But, Gotama! your conduct appears to me somewhat singular. Other Kings have forsaken their Empires, but only after a long course of enjoyment; but you, whilst yet of tender age, are doing so. And yet the estate of Royalty is not a thing to be despised; it was through the desire after this that in old time the Raja Teng-sing1 (Agrajati ?), having obtained universal empire on earth, was translated to Heaven, and there shared with Sakra the government of the Trayastrinshas Heavens! but afterwards through coveteousness again fell down to earth; and so with Najasa Raja and others, all of whom appear to have lost their dignity through excessive coveteousness, which burns in man's heart like a fire burns in the midst of dry weeds; but with you there seems to be no such desire, for you have given up all, though possessed of Royalty itself."
To which Bodhisatwa replied, "Great Rishi! all these earthly dignities appear to me unstable as the fruit of the plantain tree, without any real substance or solidity; destined to destruction;
1 Head-bom, or, born from the excrescence at the top of the head.
and, therefore, I seek other things, and look for the true road to happiness, even as a man who has lost his way in the midst of a great solitary wild, searches diligently for the road by which he may escape from it."
To which Alara replied, "I plainly perceive, Gotama! that you have a great destiny awaiting you, and that your religious life will be no ordinary one!"
Then one of the Manava youths, a disciple of Alara, broke out into the following eulogy, his hands clasped together in token of reverence, as he addressed Bodhisatwa, "Oh! rarely seen is such wisdom as thine; in olden times indeed many kings, satiated with worldly pleasures, have forsaken their homes, and sought for religious perfection in the solitudes; but thou! so young and in the vigor of your age, to give up the certain enjoyment of Royalty, and to prefer the harshness of a life in the desert—the companion of wild beasts, and the unfettered birds! wonderful indeed is this!" And now Alara, addressing B6dhisatwa, said, "Venerable Sir! seeking what way and in pursuit of what object, have you bent your steps hither?"
Then B6dhisatwa replied—"I find that all men are fettered with the chains of birth and death, old age, and disease, unable to free themselves, and therefore I am earnestly seeking a way of escape."
Then Alara, having commended the intention of Bodhisatwa, one of the youths who surrounded the Rishi furthur inquired of B6dhisatwa, what had induced him to give up his home and leave his relations ?" Simply because all these associations of friendship and kinship are destined to be broken and destroyed; therefore, he said, I search for that which is imperishable and permanent." (Then Alara pointed out to B6dhisatwa that the secret of all human weakness and folly resides in the presence of concupisence, which, like a dragon, lurks in the heart, and destroys every good intention or virtuous effort of the life. To which B6dhisatwa assented. And afterwards Alara enters on the exposition of his own doctrine, showing that men are allured to their own destruction by some outward aim, as the mountain goat is cheated by the false cry of the hunter, the moth by the brightness of the flame, and the fish by the bait.)
[Kiouen XXI contains 6,650 words and cost 3.125 taels.]
Further discussion with Alara.
§ 1. In this chapter Alara proceeds with the explanation of his religious system. Relying on the general testimony of the Shasters, he instructs Bodhisatwa that the first condition of all religious discipline is, that the life he strictly that of an ascetic—without any bodily indulgence, and the mind subjected to the strictest rules of thought and contemplation—thus passing through various grades of abstraction, corresponding to the different conditions of the inhabitants of the superimposed heavens, the full joy of complete Dhyana is at length attained, and from that the condition of Nirvana. Thus, by the use of means, we arrive at complete deliverance.
Bodhisatwa, having accepted the instruction of Alara so far, and himself arrived at the condition described, sought further from him something yet higher—for this deliverance seems imperfect because it is not final —there is still a possibility of returning even from this condition and receiving life again; even as the seed sown at an untimely season, may revive under certain conditions, although in the absence of those conditions it appears to have ceased to be. So it is in the case of this deliverance, there is still the idea of I—"I have attained Nirvana;" and so long as this is the case, it is not final or lasting; just as in the case of burning anything, a piece of wood for instance, the two ideas cannot be separated—the wood and the fire; so when there is "deliverance from personal existence," the I and the deliverance cannot be divided, and so there is a possibility of again becoming subject to birth.
The discourse then proceeds to a consideration of the power called self-existence (Isvara), and the consequent possibility of creation. Bodhisatwa objects to creation by Isvara, because then there could be no succession of events, no causes of sorrow, no variety of Gods; but all men would regard Isvara as their Father—there could be no disputes about this very subject, whether Isvara exists or not—in short, if Isvara created all things, then all things must have been Good, and there could have been no possibility of evil.
On this, Alara commends the great wisdom of Bodhisatwa, but deprecates further discussion on the ground that unless there be a power beyond ourselves capable of creating and sustaining the world, that the great problem of the source of evil or trouble can never be solved; for he said, either Karma or the Body existed first—if Karma was not caused by the previous existence of the body, then who made it, and whence came it? But if the body existed before Karma, then it existed independently of it. In either case there must have been a Creator.
To which Bodhisatwa replied, "I dispute not with you on this ground, but as a man who participates in the great mass of evil which exists, I seek only a phy