Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

On this, the maiden expostulates, and after a long exposition of the truth, as she entertained it (relating her own experience), she sees a divine messenger flying down from heaven. This messenger, called Narada, she invites to sit down on the seat she herself had occupied; and after bowing down at his feet, she appeals to him for a refutation of Kasyapa's sceptical views. the n at once enters on the subject, and declares that such scepticism is absurd and contradicted by facts. On this, the king in a bantering way says, "if, indeed, the present be but a part in the chain of the past and future, then I pray you lend me five hundred pieces of money, and I will repay it in some future birth a thousand-fold." On which the Eishi reproves the king, and tells him that if he thus trifles with religion and harbours sceptical thoughts, that he never will have the chance of returning any such gift or loan; for his body will be born in hell, and there cut by swords, impaled, burnt, ground to dust, revivified, passed out to other wretched births, again consigned to hell, and so through endless ages. "How then," the Eishi asks, "can you presume to say that you will pay my loan a thousandfold?"

On this, the king terrified, and in abject fear, recants his wicked creed, and becomes a true and faithful disciple. «

Buddha then explains that the Eishi Narada was himself the Buddha now existing; and that the Eaja Angada was Uravilva Kasyapa. "And as the Eishi was the means of turning the king back to the truth, so have I also converted this Uravilva Kasyapa, and led him back to the right way."

[Kiouen XLIII contains 5510 words, and cost 3.757 taels.]

CHAPTER XLIV. The gift of the Bamboo Garden [Karandavenuvana].

§ 1. Now, the world-honoured one, having dwelt for some short time on the summit of that elephant-head mount (Pilusara ? for D lusila ?) began gradually to advance towards the city of Rajagriha. Now it so happened that on the road from the village of Uravilva to Rajagriha, not very far from the latter, there was a celebrated garden, in which dwelt an old Rishi. The garden was called Dharmavarsha.1 The Rishi, dwelling in his leafy Pansal, and surrounded by 500 disciples, who practiced self-mortification, was now very old, his head white and hoar, his teeth gone, and his body bent nearly double, scarcely able to move a step through decrepitude, his breath feeble, and his whole appearance lamentable. He had thus completed a hundred years of life; and now, owing to his former good works, on the very borders of the grave, it was his fortune to meet with Buddha, and be converted.

The world-honoured one, approaching the place where this Rishi and his followers were dwelling, was moved with compassion for them, and standing outside the entrance door of the grot where they were sitting lost in meditation, he began to recite the following Gathas.

The purport of the Gathas is, that it were better to repeat one line which has the power of bringing light and release to the soul, than a hundred Gathas which have no such power. That the conquest of self is the greatest victory a man can achieve. That the confes

1 Called "Yashti," M.B., 191.

sion of sin, and consequent triumph over it, is the one object of all religion. That the invocation of the precious objects of worship—Buddha, the law, the priesthood—and the refuge provided by these for the faithful, is the sum of all duty. And that a man, who for one day realizes the virtue and power of this religious condition, is far better than he who lives a hundred years in ignorance of it.

On hearing these verses, the five hundred ascetics coming forth from the grotto, prostrated themselves at the feet of Buddha, and immediately flying away through the air they exhibited themselves for a moment, exercising their miraculous power, and then, selfconsumed, they entered Nirvana.

Then Buddha, gathering the relics of their bodies which had fallen to the earth, with his own hand erected over them a Stupa and proceeded onwards to Rajagriha.

At this time, the king of Magadha was called Bimbasara, who hearing that Buddha, with his followers, was approaching the royal city, and had arrived as far as the bamboo grove (cheung-lin) and was resting for a time near a tower erected therein — and hearing, moreover, of his great fame as a teacher—he resolved to go forth to meet him. Sitting, therefore, in his beautifully adorned chariot,1 and surrounded by his ministers of state and the Brahmans, with countless other persons, he proceeded from Rajagriha towards the place where Tathagata was dwelling.

Now there was at this time a certain courtesan dwelling in Rajagriha, whose name was Salapati; she was of incomparable beauty, and accomplished in every female art and blandishment. This woman, having heard of the approach of the world-honoured one,

1 This excursion of Bimbasara seems to be the subject of one of the processional scenes on the pillars of the northern gateway of the Sanchi Tope. Tree and Serpent Worship, Plates xxxiv and xxxv). Compare also the scene at Bharahut, described by General Cunningham, as "Prasenajita Raja, drawn by four horses in his chariot, going to pay respects to the wheel symbol, 'Bhagavato damma chakam.'"

and reflecting that he was a Prince of the Sakya race, she resolved to go forth herself and salute his feet, if possible, before the king arrived. Then reflecting that she would be unable to push her way through the crowd that accompanied the king, she caused a breach to be made through the city wall, and so proceeded onward. Then the world-honoured one, perfectly knowing the purpose of the woman, caused the wheels of Bimbasara's chariot to fix themselves in the soil, so that he could not move onwards. Astonished at this accident, the king was filled with fear and anxiety, and exclaimed, " What demon or power of evil has brought this calamity on me, that my chariot will not move?" Then a spirit, residing in the air, without making himself visible, spake thus to the king: "Oh raja! be not dismayed or anxious, but send quickly into the city for such and such a man, and he shall deliver you." Having done this, the chariot was now able to proceed.

Arriving at length where the world-honoured one was seated, they each, in turn, saluted him, and stood on one side.1

Then, after some preliminary conversation between Buddha and Uravilva Kasyapa, the latter having displayed his miraculous powers, and rendered homage to his master, Buddha began to preach for the good of Bimbasara, who finally took upon him the vows of a disciple (Upasakawa), and declared his purpose to shed no more blood, but to be compassionate to all that lives. Then finally he invited Buddha and his followers to an entertainment on the morrow; and, offering his chariot, he desired Buddha at once to take his seat in it, and he himself would help draw him into the city. This Buddha declined. Then the king and his followers, having saluted Tathagata, and circumambulated him three times, departed.

1 This account is almost identical with that found in Spence Hardy, M. B. 191.

Buddha then relates that this was not the first time that the gift of a royal chariot had been offered him; but that formerly, when he reigned as king of Kasi, under the name Sumana (illustrious or virtuousthought) he had been taken up to heaven (the Trayastrinshas heaven) in a splendid chariot, under the guidance of an angel called Matali, and arriving there had been visited by Sakra, and tempted by all kinds of offerings to remain there and indulge in pleasures—which he declined, and also the gift of the chariot which Matali drove.

Now it came to pass that Bimbasara, having prepared a sumptuous repast, and swept and garnished the apartments of the palace, sent forth to the world-honoured to invite him to come and partake of the feast. Then Buddha, with his robes properly arranged, his alms-bowl in his hand, and surrounded by all his followers, approached the city. At this time Sakra, assuming the form of a young Brahman (Manava), went before the body of the disciples and recited the following verses:

"Tathagata, the conqueror of himself, can succour others,

See all these one thousand spiral-haired converts,

Converted by him whose body is bright as pure gold,

Now enter the city, with the Supreme Lord of the world.

Himself delivered and at peace, he can deliver others!

So has he delivered these thousand spiral-haired converts.

And now," etc. etc.

Then all those within the city began to exclaim, " Wonderful! wonderful! Who is this handsome youth? Whence does he come, and what words are these he utters?" Then Sakra continued his song, and said: "The Buddhasalone by their virtue can subdue all!

Their condition is the highest and the most exalted!

Able to advantage Gods and men by their Teaching!

And therefore I join myself to this cortege to honour the worldhonour'd."

« ПредишнаНапред »