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...
This one, for the universal benefit of the Deva assembly, sounded forth at large these verses (gāthas) on impermanence: 'Impermanency is the nature of all (things), quickly born, they quickly die. . 2116
'Though the fame (of our deeds) reach up to heaven as smoke, yet in time the rains which descend will extinguish all, as the fire that rages at the kalpa's end is put out by the judgment (calamity) of water.' . 2118
Who thus sighed forth his praises of Tathāgata's Nirvāṇa, with his mind fixed in abstraction as he spoke: 'Looking through all the conditions of life (of the three worlds), from first to last nought is free from destruction. . 2120
'But the incomparable seer dwelling in the world, thoroughly acquainted with the highest truth, whose wisdom grasps that which is beyond the (world's) ken, he it is who can save the worldly-dwellers. . 2121
'He it is who can provide lasting escape (preservation) from the destructive power of impermanence. But, alas! through the wide world, all that lives is sunk in unbelief (heretical teaching).' . 2122
At this time Anuruddha, 'not stopped' (ruddha) by the world, 'not stopped' from being delivered (delivered and not stopped), the stream of birth and death for ever 'stopped' (niruddha), . 2123
'Only the diamond curtain of Tathāgata can overwhelm inconstancy! How much more should those not yet delivered from desire (passion), fear and dread its power. . 2127
'The three periods (past, present, future) are but one in substance; the Muni-great-elephant plucks up the great tree of sorrow, and yet he (even he) cannot avoid the power of impermanence. . 2129
'Or as the prancing steed advances fearlessly to battle, but when the fight has passed goes back subdued and quiet; or as the raging fire burns with the fuel, but when the fuel is done, expires; . 2131
'So is it with Tathāgata, his task accomplished he returns to (find his refuge in) Nirvāṇa: just as the shining of the radiant moon sheds everywhere its light and drives away the gloom, 2132.
'All creatures grateful for its light, (then suddenly) it disappears concealed by Sumeru; such is the case with Tathāgata, the brightness of his wisdom lit up the gloomy darkness, . 2133
'And for the good of all that lives drove it away, when suddenly it disappears behind the mountain of Nirvāṇa. The splendour of his fame throughout the world diffused, . 2134
'Had banished all obscurity, but like the stream that ever flows, it rests not with us the illustrious charioteer with his seven prancing steeds flies through the host (and disappears); . 2135
'Present their offerings to heaven; but from their sacrifice nought but the blacken’d smoke ascends; thus is it with Tathāgata, his glory hidden, the world has lost its light. . 2137
'Rare was the expectancy of grateful love that filled the heart of all that lives; that love, reached its full limit, then was left to perish! . 2138
'The cords of sorrow all removed, we found the true and only way; but now he leaves the tangled mesh of life, and enters on the quiet place! . 2139
'His spirit (or, by spiritual power) mounting through space, he leaves the sorrow-bearing vessel of his body! the gloom of doubt and the great (heaped-up) darkness all dispelled, by the bright rays of wisdom! . 2140
'The earthy soil of sorrow's dust his wisdom's water purifies! no more, no more, returns he here! for ever gone to the place of rest! . 2141
'(The power of) birth and death destroyed, the world (all things) instructed in the highest doctrine! he bids the world rejoice in (knowledge of) his law, and gives to all the benefit of wisdom! . 2142
'Giving complete rest to the world, the virtuous streams flow forth! his fame known (spread) throughout the world, shines still with increased splendour! . 2143
'How great his pity and his love to those who opposed his claims, neither rejoicing in their defeat nor exulting in his own success. . 2144
'Illustriously controlling his feelings, all his senses completely enlightened, his heart impartially observing events, unpolluted by the six objects (or, fields) of sense! . 2145
'Reaching to that unreached before! obtaining that which man had not obtained! with the water which he provided filling every thirsty soul! . 2146
'Bestowing that which never yet was given, and providing a reward not hoped for! his peaceful, well-marked person, perfectly knowing the thoughts (prayers) of all. . 2147
'Not greatly moved either by loving or disliking! overcoming all enemies by the force (of his love)! the welcome physician for all diseases, the one destroyer of impermanency! . 2148
'All living things rejoicing in religion, fully satisfied! obtaining all they need (seek), their every wish (vow) fulfilled! . 2149
'The great master of holy wisdom once gone returns no more! even as the fire gone out for want of fuel! . 2150
'(Declaring) the eight rules (noble truths?) without taint; overcoming the five (senses), difficult to compose! with the three (powers of sight) seeing the three (precious ones); removing the three (robbers, i.e. lust, anger, ignorance); perfecting the three (the three grades of a holy life). . 2151
'Concealing the one (himself) and obtaining the one (saintship)—leaping over the seven (bodhyaṅgas?) and (obtaining) the long sleep; the end of all, the quiet, peaceful way; the highest prize of sages and of saints! . 2152
'Having himself severed the barriers of sorrow, now he is able to save his followers, and to provide the draught of immortality (sweet dew) for all who are parched with thirst! . 2153
'Armed with the heavy cuirass of patience, he has overcome all enemies! (now) by the subtle principles of his excellent law (able to) satisfy every heart. . 2154
'Planting a sacred seed (seed of holiness) in the hearts of those practising virtue (worldly virtue) impartially directing and not casting off those who are right or not right (in their views)! . 2155
'Turning the wheel of the superlative law! received with gladness through the world by those (the elect) who have in former conditions implanted in themselves a love for religion, these all saved by his preaching! . 2156
'Going forth among men converting those not yet converted; those who had not seen (learned) the truth, causing them to see the truth! . 2157
'All those practising a false method (heretical) of religion, delivering to them deep principles (of his religion)! preaching the doctrines of birth and death and impermanency; (declaring that) without a master (teacher) there can be no happiness! . 2158
'Erecting the standard of his great renown, overcoming and destroying the armies of Māra (all the Māras)! advancing to the point of indifference to pleasure or pain, caring not for life, desiring only rest (Nirvāṇa)! 2159.
'Causing those not yet converted to obtain conversion! those not yet saved to be saved! those not yet at rest to find rest! those not yet enlightened to be enlightened! . 2160
'(Thus) the Muni (taught) the way of rest for the direction of all living things! alas! that any transgressing the way of holiness should practise impure (not right) works. . 2161
'Even as at the end of the great kalpa, those holding the law who die (or, are dead), (when) the rolling sound of the mysterious thunder-cloud severs the forests, upon these there shall fall the rain of sweet dew (immortality). . 2162
'The little elephant breaks down the prickly forest, and by cherishing it we know that it can profit men; but the cloud that removes the sorrow of the elephant old-age, this none can bear. . 2163
'He by destroying systems of religion (sights, i.e. modes of seeing, darśanas) has perfected his system, in saving the world and yet saving! he has destroyed- the teaching of heresy, in order to reach his independent (self-sufficient) mode (way) [of doctrine]. . 2164
'And now he enters the great quiet (place)! no longer has the world a protector or saviour! the great army host of Māra-rāja, rousing their warrior (spirits), shaking the great earth, . 2165
'Desired to injure the honour’d Muni! but they could not move him, whom in a moment now the Māra "inconstancy" destroys. . 2166
'The heavenly occupants (Devas) everywhere assemble as a cloud! they fill the space of heaven, fearing the endless (mastery of) birth and death! their hearts are full of (give birth to) grief and dread! . 2167
'His Deva eyes clearly behold, without the limitations of near or distant, the fruits of works discerned throughout, as an image perceived in a mirror! . 2168
'His Deva ears perfect and discriminating throughout, hear all, though far away (not near), mounting through space he teaches all the Devas, surpassing his method (limit) of converting men! . 2169
'His senses (roots) wandering through the fields . of sense (limits), all these distinctly remembered; knowing the wisdom learned in every (state of) mind, all this perfectly understood! . 2171
'By spiritual discernment and pure mysterious wisdom equally (impartially) surveying all (things)! every vestige of imperfection (leak) removed! thus he has accomplished all (he had to do). . 2172
'By wisdom rejecting other spheres of life, his wisdom now completely perfected, to! he dies! let the world, hard and unyielding, still, beholding it, relent! . 2173
'All living things though blunt in sense, beholding him, receive the enlightenment of wisdom! their endless evil deeds long past, as they behold, are cancelled and completely cleansed! . 2174
'In a moment gone! who shall again exhibit qualities like his? no saviour now in all the world—our hope cut off, our very breath (life) is stopped and gone! . 2175
'Who now shall give us life again with the cool water (of his doctrine)? his own great work accomplished, his great compassion now has ceased to work for long (has long ceased or stopped)! . 2176
'The world ensnared in the toils of folly, who shall destroy the net? who shall, by his teaching, cause the stream of birth and death to turn again? . 2177
'Who shall declare the way of rest (to instruct) the heart of all that lives, deceived by ignorance? Who will point out the quiet place, or who make known the one true doctrine (system of doctrine)? . 2178
'All flesh suffering (receiving) great sorrow, who shall deliver, like a loving father? Like the horse changing his master loses all gracefulness, as he forgets his many words of guidance (so are we)! . 2179
'As a king without a kingdom, such is the world without a Buddha! as a disciple (a Śrāvaka, a "much hearer") with no power of dialectic (distinguishing powers) left, or like a physician without wisdom, . 2180
'As men whose king has lost the marks of royalty (bright or glorious marks), so, Buddha dead, the world has lost its glory! the gentle horses left without a charioteer, the boat without a pilot left! . 2181
'The three divisions of an army left without a general! the merchantmen without a guide! the suffering and diseased without a physician! a holy king (cakravartin) without his seven insignia (jewels, ratnāni)! 218 . 2
'The stars without the moon! the loving years (the planet Jupiter?) without the power of life!—such is the world now that Buddha, the great teacher, dies!' . 2183
Thus thinking of his master's love he spake! setting forth the world's great sorrow; whilst those, not yet freed from the power of passion, wept with many tears, unable to control themselves. . 2185
With cries confused, wept piteously, greatly moved, as when a flight of herons meet a hawk (kite). In a body now they reach the twin (Śāla) trees, and as they gaze upon Tathāgata dead (entered on his long sleep), . 2187
Those features never again to awake to consciousness, they smote their breasts and sighed to heaven; as when a lion seizing, on a calf, the whole herd rushes on with mingled sounds. . 2188
In the midst there was one Malla, his mind enamoured of the righteous law, who gazed with steadfastness upon the holy law-king, now entered on the mighty calm, . 2189
And said: 'The world was everywhere asleep, when Buddha setting forth his law caused it to awake; but now he has entered on the mighty calm, and all is finished in an unending sleep. . 2190
'For man's sake he had raised the standard of his law, and now, in a moment, it has fallen; the sun of Tathāgata's wisdom spreading abroad the lustre of its "great awakening," . 2191
'Increasing ever more and more in glory, spreading abroad the thousand rays of highest knowledge, scattering and destroying all the gloom (of earth), why has the darkness great come back again? . 2192
'His unequalled wisdom lightening the three worlds, giving eyes that all the world might see, now suddenly (the world is) blind again, bewildered, ignorant of the way; . 2193
'In a moment fallen the bridge of truth (that spanned) the rolling stream of birth and death, the swelling flood of lust and rage and doubt, and all flesh overwhelmed therein, for ever lost.' . 2194
Thus all that Malla host wept piteously and lamented; whilst some concealed their grief nor spoke a word; others sank prostrate on the earth; . 2195
Others stood silent, lost in meditation; others, with sorrowful heart, groaned deeply. Then on a gold and silver gem-decked couch, richly adorned with flowers and scents, . 2196
They placed the body of Tathāgata; a jewelled canopy they raised above, and round it flags and streamers and embroidered banners; then using every kind of dance and music, . 2197
The lords and ladies of the Mallas followed along the road presenting offerings, whilst all the Devas scattered scents and flowers, and raised the sound of drums and music in the heavens. . 2198
Thus men and Devas shared one common sorrow, their cries united as they grieved together. Entering the city, there the men and women, old and young, completed their religious offerings. . 2199
Leaving the city, then, and passing through the Lung-tsiang gate, and crossing over the Hiraṇyavatī river, they repaired to where the former Buddhas having died, had Caityas raised to them. . 2200
There collecting ox-head sandal wood and every famous scented wood, they placed the whole above the Buddha's body, pouring various scented oils upon the pyre; . 2201
And knowing Buddha was about to die was coming thence with all his followers; his pure mind, deeply moved, desired to see the body of the lord; . 2203
And so, because of that his sincere wish, the fire went out and would not kindle. Then Kāśyapa and his followers coming, with piteous sighs looked on the sight . 2204
And reverenced at the master's feet; and then, forthwith, the fire burst out. Quenched the fire of grief within; without, the fire has little power to burn. 2205 '
Or though it burn the outside skin and flesh, the diamond true-bone still remains. The scented oil consumed, the fire declines, the bones they place within a golden pitcher; . 2206
The relics which the mighty golden-pinioned bird cannot remove or change, they place within the precious vase; to remain until the world shall pass away; . 2208
And wonderful! the power of men (the world) can thus fulfil Nirvāṇa's laws, the illustrious name of one far spread, is sounded thus throughout the universe; . 2209
And as the ages roll, the long Nirvāṇa, by these, the sacred relics (bones), sheds through the world its glorious light, and brightens up the abodes of life. . 2210
He perished (quenched his splendour) in a moment! but these relics, placed within the vase, the imperishable signs of wisdom, can overturn the mount of sorrow; . 2211
The body of accumulated griefs this imperishable mind (ki) can cause to rest, and banish once for ever all the miseries of life. . 2212
Thus the diamond substance (body) was dealt with at the place of burning. And now those valiant Mallas, unrivalled in the world for strength, . 2213
Subduing all private animosities, sought escape from sorrow in the true refuge. Finding sweet comfort in united love, they resolved to banish every complaining thought. . 2214
Beholding thus the death of Tathāgata, they controlled their grieving hearts, and with full strength of manly virtue dismissing every listless thought, they submitted to the course (laws) of nature. . 2215
Oppressed by thoughts of grievous sorrow, they entered the city as a deserted wild, holding the relics thus they entered, whilst from every street were offered gifts. . 2216
They placed the relics then upon a tower, for men and Devas to adore. . 2217
Footnotes and references:
The symbol for 'thousand' is probably an error for the preposition 'u' upon.
The haṃsa is the vehicle of Brahmā. The white haṃsa is probably the same.
The accumulation, or crowd of sorrows.
Ts’ie mih, quiet extinction, or the destruction ending in quietness.
The collection of the pile of fuel of the deeds (or beams) of conduct (saṃskāras).
Or, simply, 'though our fame;' or it may refer to the renown of Buddha.
Referring to the Buddhist account of the destruction and renovation of the universe; the last 'calamity' or 'judgment' was the destruction by water.
This may refer to one of the highest Ṛṣis, or Prajāpatī Ṛṣis, belonging to the Vedic literature.
Here is the same phrase, 'ti yih i,' the first, or highest, truth, or principle of truth (paramārtha).
Whose wisdom sees that which (cé) is above, or superior, (to man.)
The difficulty is to find a word in English corresponding to the Buddhist phrase 'all in the world;' it is not only 'mankind' (Sacred Books of the East, vol. xi, p. 183) that are invited to trust in Buddha, but all things that have life. The Chinese phrase is 'cung sing,' all that lives.
Not 'liu to,' where 'liu to' is equivalent to 'ruddha' in the proper name Anuruddha. I take the word, therefore, in the sense of 'stopped'--it is used, of course, as a figure of speech; so also in the next phrase. Anuruddha is here taken as A-niruddha.
Ni-liu-to, equal to 'niruddha.'
The Chinese 'feou' means a 'floating' pile or mass, whether of clouds or fanciful worlds. Hence its use in the later Buddhist development to mean a 'series of worlds' (as in the successive stages of the pagoda).
Or, the Ṛṣi-hermit-mountain, referring probably to Buddha.
Referring again to Buddha.
The literal translation would be, 'only makes impermanence, destruction.' There may be an error in the text, but this sense is sufficiently plain. The meaning of the word 'curtain,' or, perhaps, 'standard,' is not quite so evident in this connection, it is evidently used in opposition to the 'diamond mace,' in the preceding clause.
This and the following lines are obscure; the reference must be gathered from Sanskrit rather than Chinese. The line before us, rendered literally, is 'six seeds, one bud.'
The four 'yin' may be the four points of the compass. But the text is without note or comment.
The Chinese symbol 'koo' means a 'libation cup.'
The symbols 'shi-hi' correspond with Sanskrit śikhin; I have therefore taken it in the sense of 'crested.' There may be a bird, however, called Śikhin.
The expression 'he returns to Nirvāṇa' is unusual; I have therefore used the alternative meaning which the symbol 'kwei' sometimes has, 'finding refuge in.'
This passage is a difficult one; if the construction is closely followed, the rendering would be this,' The illustrious charioteer (with) his seven swift steeds, the army host quickly (or, the wings of the army host) following him about.' Possibly it must be connected with the lines which follow, and refers to the saptāśvavāhana of Sūrya.
The Yen-tsz’ cave is the fabulous hiding-place of the sun. The fable is a common one, particularly in Japanese mythology. I do not know whether it is found in Sanskrit literature.
The reference in this and the preceding lines is to the disappearance of the sun and moon, and the darkness of the world, compared to the Nirvāṇa of Tathāgata.
This is a free translation; I have taken 'tsiueh' as an intensitive particle.
The streams of his virtuous qualities.
This verse again is doubtful. The entire section (a hymn of praise in honour of the departed Buddha) is couched in obscure, figurative language.
His well-composed and illustrious person, knowing perfectly all the reflections of men. 'Nim' is sometimes used to signify 'prayers' or 'aspirations.'
Each one satisfied; the sense seems to be that through him, i.e. Buddha, all things obtained the completion of their religious desires.
Or it may be by way of exclamation, 'those eight rules which admit of no pollution!' referring perhaps to the name 'the noble rules.'
I suppose 'the five' are the five senses. The expression 'difficult to compose' might be also rendered 'the difficult to compose group.'
Using (i) 'the three,' and yet seeing the 'three.' The next line is, 'removing the three,' and yet perfecting 'the three.'
Or it may be 'treasuring the one,' where 'the one' may be the one duty of a religious life; but it is difficult to interpret these paradoxes.
The sense seems to be, that in the case of those leading a virtuous life, i.e. a moral life, the seeds of holiness take root.
All these verses might be introduced with some such exclamation as this, 'See! how he went forth!' &c.
Perhaps the word 'cu' might be rendered 'a ruling principle,' viz. of religion.
The literal translation of this passage is curious: 'Even as at the end of the great kalpa, those holding the law, asleep; the mysterious cloud rolling forth its cracking (thunder), riving the forests, there descends as rain sweet dew.' The end of the great kalpa is the consummation of all things: 'the religious who sleep' would mean the good who are dead; 'the cracking thunder and riven forests' would point to a general overthrow; 'the rain of sweet dew' seems to refer to the good who sleep, receiving immortality, or perfection of life.
'The little elephant' may mean 'the young elephant' in its literal sense; or it may refer to 'the young disciple.' 'By cherishing it we know' may also be rendered 'knowledge-cherishing' is able, &c.
'The cloud removing the elephant old and sorrowful;' but what is 'the cloud' and who 'the elephant?'
This sentence may perhaps be rendered thus, 'dividing his body yet one in substance, wading through water and yet not weak,' but the allusion is obscure. [It refers, probably, to Buddha's miraculous powers.]
The meaning is, all his births, in which his senses or material body took every kind of shape; all these he knew. The figurative style of this 'hymn' may be gathered from this one instance, where instead of saying 'all his previous births' it is said 'his senses wandering through the field (limits or boundaries) of sense.'
Infantry, cavalry, and chariots.
That is, as it seems, Anuruddha.
The Mallas (wrestlers) are termed 'lih-sse,' strong-masters, in Chinese. They dwelt at Kuśinagara and Pavā. The Licchavis are also called lih-sse.
The holy law-king, dharmarāja.
The 'great awakening' refers, of course, to Buddha as 'the awakened.'
The 'gem-decked couch' or palanquin is probably represented in plate lxiv, fig. 1 (Tree and Serpent Worship, first edition). This is the procession of the couch through Kuśinagara. The curly-haired men bearing it would indicate that the Mallas and Licchavis of Vaiśālī were the same race.
The use of 'dance and music' at funerals is an old and well-understood custom. Compare Sacred Books of the East, vol. xi, pp. 122, 123.
The Nāga or Nāga-Elephant gate.
Had their Nirvāṇa-caityas erected. The account in the text does not agree with the Southern account; but the popular Chinese record of the Nirvāṇa is the same as the Pāli.
He was between Pāvā and Kuśinagara, according to the common account.
The dharma-dhātu (fă kai) is the mystic or ideal world of the Northern Buddhists. Literally it is the 'limit (ὅπος) of dharma;' dharma being the universal essence. This bears a striking resemblance to the gnostic (Valentinian) theory of limitation of the Divine essence.
Diamond wisdom, indestructible wisdom.
That is, the body subject to accumulation of sorrow.
'In their council hall with a lattice work of spears, and with a rampart of bows,' Sacred Books of the East, vol. xi, p. 131.