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JAMES FERGUSSON, ESQ., F.R.S., D.C.L., ETC.
DEAR MR. FERGUSSON,
When I first discovered, in the India Office Library a Chinese copy of the following work, I purposed to publish an entire translation of it. Being unable to carry out this purpose, I still desired to publish it in as complete a form as possible. But even here fresh difficulties arose, nor should I have been able to produce the following abbreviated translation, had it not been for your generous and liberal support. I gladly avail myself, therefore, of your permission to inscribe to you the work, such as it is, in grateful acknowledgment of your assistance, and in the hope that it may still be of service in supplementing (to some extent, at least) your own labours in the field of Buddhist Archæology.
I am, dear Mr. Fergusson,
SAMUEL BEAL. “ The more I learn to know Buddha the more I admire him, and the sooner all mankind shall have been made acquainted with his doctrines the better it will be, for he is certainly one of the heroes of humanity.”-Fausböll, Ten Jâtakas, p. viii.
This work is a translation of the Chinese version of the “Abhinishkramana Sûtra”,1 done into that language by Djnanakuta, a Buddhist priest from North India, who resided in China during the Tsui dynasty, i. e., about the end of the sixth century, A.D. . It would seem from a consideration of the title of the seventeenth chapter, “Leaving the palace for a religious life”, that originally the story of the “Abhinishkramana"? was simply that of Buddha's flight from his palace to become an ascetic. Afterwards, the same title was applied to the complete legend (as in the present work), which includes his previous and subsequent history.
A very valuable date, later than which we cannot place the origin of the story, may be derived from the colophon at the end of the last chapter of the book. It is there stated that the “Abhinishkramana Sûtra” is called by the school of the Dharmaguptas Fo-penhing-king; by the Sarvastivadas it is called Ta-chwang
i Wassilief (Bouddhisme, § 114). 2 Burnouf, Lotus, p. 333, has an instructive note on this word. The expression used in the Chinese perfectly confirms his criticism; Shi-kung chuh-kia, “leaving the palace to become a recluse”, is the title of the chapter in question.