by Samuel Beal | 1883 | 108,941 words
This book is called “A Life of Buddha” by Asvaghosha Bodhisattva, in Chinese known as the “Fo-Sho-Hing-Tsan-King”. It was translated from Sanskrit into Chinese by Dharmaraksha (or Dharmakshara) A.D. 420. The most reliable of the lives of Buddha known in China is that translated in the present volume, the Buddhacarita-kavya. It was no doubt written...
The royal prince departing from the court-master (i.e. the Purohita) and the great minister, Saddharma, keeping along the stream, then crossing the Ganges, he took the road towards the Vulture Peak, . 777
Hidden among the five mountains, standing alone a lovely peak as a roof amid (the others). The trees and shrubs and flowers in bloom, the flowing fountains, and the cooling rills, . 778
(All these he gazed upon)—then passing on, he entered the city of the five peaks, calm and peaceful, as one come down from heaven. The country folk, seeing the royal prince, his comeliness and his excessive grace, . 779
Though young in years, yet glorious in his person, incomparable as the appearance of a great master, seeing him thus, strange thoughts affected them, as if they gazed upon the banner (curtain) of Iśvara. . 780
They stayed the foot, who passed athwart the path; those hastened on, who were behind.; those going before, turned back their heads and gazed with earnest, wistful look. . 781
The marks and distinguishing points of his person, on these they fixed their eyes without fatigue, and then approached with reverent homage, joining both their hands in salutation: . 782
With all there was a sense of wondrous joy, as in their several ways they offered what they had, looking at his noble and illustrious features; bending down their bodies modestly, . 783
Correcting every careless or unseemly gesture, thus they showed their reverence to him silently; those who with anxious heart, seeking release, were moved by love, with feelings composed bowed down the more. . 784
Great men and women, in their several engagements, at the same time arrested on their way, paid to his person and his presence homage: and following him as they gazed, they went not back. . 785
All these, though he were but a hermit, were marks of one who was a holy king; and now the men and women of Rājagṛha, the old and young alike, were moved, . 787
Seeing all those men and women, in different ways exhibiting one mark of surprise, calling before him some man outside, enquired at once the cause of it; . 789
This one bending his knee below the tower, told fully what he had seen and heard, 'That one of the Śākya race, renowned of old, a prince most excellent and wonderful, . 790
'Divinely wise, beyond the way of this world, a fitting king to rule the eight regions, now without home, is here, and all men are paying homage to him.' . 791
He bade them follow secretly the (prince's) steps, to observe what charity was given. (So in obedience to the command) they followed and watched him steadfastly, as with even gait and unmoved presence . 793
He entered on the town and begged his food, according to the rule of all great hermits, with joyful mien and undisturbed mind, not anxious whether much or little alms were given; . 794
Whatever he received, costly or poor, he placed within his bowl, then turned back to the wood, and having eaten it and drank of the flowing stream, he joyous sat upon the immaculate mountain. . 795
(There he beheld) the green trees fringing with their shade the crags, the scented flowers growing between the intervals, whilst the peacocks and the other birds, joyously flying, mingled their notes; . 796
His sacred garments bright and lustrous, (shone) as the sun-lit mulberry leaves; the messengers beholding his fixed composure, one by one (returning), reported what they had seen; . 797
The king hearing it, was moved at heart, and forthwith ordered his royal equipment to be brought, his god-like crown and his flower-bespangled robes; then, as the lion-king, he strided forth, . 798
And choosing certain aged persons of consideration, learned men, able calmly and wisely to discriminate, he (with them) led the way followed by a hundred thousand people, who like a cloud ascended with the king the royal mountain. . 799
And now beholding the dignity of Bodhisattva, every outward gesture (spring of action) under government, sitting with ease upon the mountain crag, as the moon shining limpid in the pure heavens, . 800
So (was) his matchless beauty and purity of grace; then as the converting presence of religion dwelling within the heart makes it reverential, so (beholding him) he reverently approached, . 801
Bodhisattva, answering as he was moved, in his turn made similar enquiries. Then the king, the questioning over, sat down with dignity upon a clean-faced rock. . 803
And so he steadfastly beheld the divine appearance (of the prince), the sweetness and complacency of his features revealing what his station was and high estate, his family renown, received by inheritance, . 804
The king who for a time restrained his feelings, now wishful to get rid of doubts, (enquired) (why one) descended from the royal family of the sun-brightness having attended to religious sacrifices thro’ ten thousand generations, . 805
Whereof the virtue had descended as his full inheritance, increasing and accumulating until now, (why he) so excellent in wisdom, so young in years, had now become a recluse, . 806
The hand which ought to grasp the reins of empire, instead thereof, taking its little stint of food; if indeed (the king continued) you were not of royal descent, and would receive as an offering the transfer of this land, . 808
Then would I divide with you my empire; saying this, he scarcely hoped to excite his feelings, who had left his home and family, to be a hermit. Then forthwith the king proceeded thus: . 809
'Give just weight I pray you to my truthful words, desire for power is kin to nobleness, and so is just pride of fame or family or wealth or personal appearance; . 810
'No longer having any wish to subdue the proud, or to bend (others) down and so get thanks from men, it were better, then, to give to the strong and warlike martial arms to wear, for them to follow war and by their power to get supremacy; . 811
'But when by one's own power a kingdom falls to hand, who would not then accept the reins of empire? The wise man knows the time to take religion, wealth, and worldly pleasure. . 812
'But if he obtains not the three (or, threefold profit), then in the end he abates his earnest efforts, and reverencing religion, he lets go material wealth. Wealth is the one desire of worldly men; . 813
'To be rich and lose all desire for religion, this is to gain but outside wealth. But to be poor and even thus despise religion, what pleasure can indulgence give in such a case! . 814
'But when possessed of all the three, and when enjoyed with reason and propriety, then religion, wealth, and pleasure make what is rightly called a great master; . 815
'Permit not, then, your perfectly-endowed body to lay aside (sacrifice) its glory, without reward (merit); Mandha(ri) the Cakravartin, as a monarch, ruled the four empires of the world, . 816
'And shared with Śakra his royal throne, but was unequal to the task of ruling heaven. But you, with your redoubtable strength, may well grasp both heavenly and human power; . 817
'I do not rely upon my kingly power, in my desire to keep you here by force, but seeing you change your comeliness of person, and wearing the hermit's garb, . 818
'Whilst it makes me reverence you for your virtue, moves me with pity and regret for you as a man; you now go begging your food, and I offer you (desire to offer) the whole land as yours; . 819
'Whilst you are young and lusty enjoy yourself. During middle life acquire wealth, and when old and all your abilities ripened, then is the time for following the rules of religion; . 820
'When young to encourage religious fervour, is to destroy the sources of desire; but when old and the breath (of desire) is less eager, then is the time to seek religious solitude; . 821
'When old we should avoid, as a shame, desire of wealth, but get honour in the world by a religious life; but when young, and the heart light and elastic, then is the time to partake of pleasure, . 822
'In boon companionship to indulge in gaiety, and partake to the full of mutual intercourse; but as-years creep on, giving up indulgence, to observe the ordinances of religion, . 823
'To mortify the five desires, and go on increasing a joyful and religious heart, is not this the law of the eminent kings of old, who as a great company paid worship to heaven, . 824
'And borne on the dragon's back, received the joys of celestial abodes? All these divine and victorious monarchs, glorious in person, richly adorned, . 825
'Thus having as a company performed their religious offering, in the end received the reward of their conduct in heaven.' Thus Bimbasāra Rāja (used) every kind of winning expedient in argument; . 826
The royal prince unmoved and fixed remained firm as Mount Sumeru.
Footnotes and references:
Saddharma may be the name of the minister, or it may be rendered 'the great minister of the true law,' i.e. of religion.
For the symbol I have substituted 'to go towards.' The whole line may be translated 'following the turbulent (streams) he crossed the Ganges,' in this case would be for . But the sentence is obscure, as 'lang tsai' may be a proper name.
The distance from the place of the interview with the ministers to the Vulture Peak would be in a straight line about 150 miles. In the Southern books (Nidāna-kathā; Buddhist Birth Stories, by Mr. Rhys Davids, pp. 85 and 87 n.) it is said that from Kapilavastu to the River Anomā, near which the interview took place, is thirty yojanas; this is greatly in excess of the real distance, which is about thirty-three miles, or five yojanas. Then again from the Anomā River, or the village of Maneya (Mhaniya), where the Bodhisattva halted (see Romantic Legend of Buddha, p. 140, and compare vol. xii, plate viii, Archæological Survey of India), to Rājagṛha by way of Vaiśālī would not be more than 180 miles, so that the whole distance from Kapilavastu (assuming Bhuila to represent this old town) would be about 215 miles, or about thirty yojanas. Hence we assume that the thirty yojanas of the Southern account is intended to represent the entire distance from Kapilavastu, and not from the River Anomā. Mr. Rhys Davids supposes the distance from Kapilavastu to Rājagṛha (viā Vaiśalī) to be sixty yojanas (loc. cit. Birth Stories). In the Southern account the journey from the Anomā to Rājagṛha is described as having been accomplished in one day.
The five mountains, viz., which surrounded Rājagṛha, see Fah-hian, p. 112 n. The text seems to imply that the Vulture Peak towered above the others, but its base was hidden among the five.
As a Deva, outside (heaven).
The banner of Iśvara (Indra) is frequently represented in Buddhist sculptures. There is a pleasing figure of it in Mrs. Speir's Ancient India, p. 230; see also Tree and Serpent Worship, plate xxxviii and elsewhere.
Unsatisfied look, that is, constant or fixed gaze.
The marks and distinguishing points are the signs to be found on the person of one destined to be a Buddha. In the text the expression 'on the four limbs' means 'on the body.'
Their different bodies, or forms.
Silently they added their respectful homage.
These lines seem to refer to the ease of mind given to the care-worn by the presence of Bodhisattva.
Whether engaged on public or private affairs; so at least the text seems to mean, .
That is, the urna, or circle of hair, supposed to be on the forehead of every great man.
The colour is indefinite blue-like; compare the Greek κύανος.
That is, 'what an occasion for uncommon joy is this!'
Scared in different ways, assuming one attitude, or unvarying attitude; the line simply means they all showed the same indication of astonishment.
Rejoiced with fear, or with astonishment.
His body held (to the place), his soul (shin) had already hastened, i.e. to the spot where Bodhisattva was.
Or, what religious offering should be made.
The White Mountain, meaning probably the Royal Mountain.
On the lofty abode of the mountain (peak).
This expression is singular, it will hear no other translation than this, 'the converting body (or, presence) of the law, i.e. religion.'
Or, causes reverence (on the part of the beholder).
Probably the symbol ma is here used for va, in which case the name would be restored to Māheśvara.
It is difficult to render such passages as this literally, but it might be translated thus, 'With collected air and every mark of decorum.'
That is, according to the circumstances of the enquiry.
The sweet expression blended with a joyfulness of countenance.
Or it may be rendered, 'Correctly hearing his name and high degree,' as though one of the king's attendants had whispered the name and family of Bodhisattva in his ear.
Largely possessed (or, collected) in his own person.
Son of a holy king.
The absence of covetousness in Bimbasāra has passed into a proverb or a typical instance in Buddhist literature. (Compare Aśvaghoṣa's Sermons, passim.)
If he desires not to possess the three, that is, wealth, pleasure, religion.
Wealth affects (makes) all men of the world.
That is, I do not command you as a king, but desire you to share my kingly power.
Receive the pleasure of the five enjoyments (of sense), i.e. the indulgence of the five senses.