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...
Thus those Mallas offered religious reverence to the relics, and used the most costly flowers and scents for their supreme act of worship. . 2218
Then the Mallas reverencing the body of Tathāgata, trusting to their martial renown, conceived a haughty mind: . 2220
'They would rather part with life itself (they said), than with the relics of the Buddha;' so those messengers returned from the futile embassage. Then the seven kings, highly indignant, . 2221
With an army, numerous as the rain. clouds, advanced on Kuśinagara; the people who went from the city filled with terror soon returned . 2222
And told the Mallas all, that the soldiers and the cavalry of the neighbouring countries were coming, with elephants and chariots, to surround the Kuśinagara city. . 2223
The gardens, lying without the town, the fountains, lakes, flower and fruit trees were now destroyed by the advancing host, and all the pleasant resting-places lay in ruins. . 2224
The Mallas, mounting on the city towers, beheld the great supports of life destroyed; they then prepared their warlike engines to crush the foe without; . 2225
Their wings of battle shining in array as the sun's seven beams of glory shine; the heavy drums rolling as the thunder, the warlike breath (rising) as the full cloud mist. . 2227
The Mallas, greatly incensed, opening the gates command the fray to begin; the aged men and women whose hearts had trust in Buddha's law, . 2228
With deep concern breathed forth their vow, 'Oh! may the victory be a bloodless one!' Those who had friends used mutual exhortations not to encourage in themselves a desire for strife. . 2229
And now the warriors, clad in armour, grasping their spears and brandishing their swords ’midst the confused noise and heavy drums (advanced). But ere the contest had begun, . 2230
Whose loving heart took pleasure in religion. This one addressed those kings and said: 'Regarding the unequalled strength of yonder city, one man alone would be enough (for its defence); . 2232
How much less when with determined heart (they are united), In the beginning mutual strife produced destruction, how now can it result in glory or renown? . 2233
'The clash of swords and bloody onset done, ’tis certain one must perish! and therefore whilst you aim to vanquish those, both sides will suffer in the fray. . 2234
'Then there are many chances, too, of battle, ’tis hard to measure strength by appearances; the strong, indeed, may overcome the weak, the weak may also overcome the strong; . 2235
'The powerful champion may despise the snake, but how will he escape a wounded body? there are men whose natures bland and soft, seem suited for the company of women or of children, . 2236
'But when enlisted in the ranks, make perfect soldiers. As fire when it is fed with oil, though reckoned weak, is not extinguished easily; so when you say that they (your enemies) are weak, . 2237
'His graceful (upright) presence caused such love (in others) that he could overcome all animosity; but though he ruled the world and was high renowned, and rich and prosperous, . 2239
'Yet in the end he went back and all was lost! So when the ox has drunk enough, he too returns. Use then the principles of righteousness, use the expedients of good will and love. . 2240
'Conquer your foe by force, you increase his enmity; conquer by love, and you will reap no after-sorrow. The present strife is but a thirst for blood, this thing cannot be endured! . 2241
'If you desire to honour Buddha, follow the example of his patience and long-suffering!' Thus this Brahman with confidence declared the truth; . 2242
'Imbued with highest principles of peace, he spake with boldness and unflinchingly. And now the kings addressed the Brahman thus: . 2243
'You have chosen a fitting time for giving increase to the seed of wisdom, the essence of true friendship is (leads to) the utterance of truth. The greatest force (of reason) lies in righteous judgment. . 2244
'But now in turn hear what we say: The rules of kings are framed to avoid the use of force when hatred has arisen from low desires (question of the five pleasures); . 2245
'Or else to avoid the sudden use of violence in trifling questions (where some trifling matter is at stake). But we for the sake of law (religion) are about to fight. What wonder is it! . 2246
'Swollen pride is a principle to be opposed, for it leads to the overthrow of society; no wonder then that Buddha preached against it, teaching men to practise lowliness and humility. . 2247
'For the sake of a beautiful woman fought and destroyed each other; how much more now, for the sake of religious reverence to our master, freed from passion, gone to Nirvāṇa, . 2249
'And the more they increased in strength the more they struggled, all for some temporary gain; how much more for our not-coveting master (should we contend), coveting to get his living (relics)? . 2251
'How much less for our master, freed from anger, should we be niggard of our lives! Rāma, for Sīta's sake, killed all the demon-spirits; . 2253
'In the first place, because of their folly and ignorance, causing wide ruin among men; how much less for our all-wise master should we begrudge our lives! . 2255
'Wherefore if from these examples we find others ready to die for no real principle, how shall we for our teacher of gods (Devas) and men, reverenced by the universe, . 2256
'Spare our bodies or begrudge our lives, and not be earnest in desire to make our offerings! Now then, if you desire to stay the strife, go, and for us demand within the city . 2257
'That they open wide (distribute) the relics, and so cause our prayer to be fulfilled. But because your words are right ones, we hold our anger for a while; . 2258
'Even as the great, angry snake, by the power of charms is quieted.' And now the Brahman, having received the king's instruction, . 2259
Entering the city, went to the Mallas, and saluting them, spoke these true words: 'Without the city those who are kings among men grasp with their hands their martial weapons, . 2260
'And with their bodies clad in weighty armour wait eagerly (to fight); glorious as the sun's rays; bristling with rage as the roused lion. These united are, to overthrow this city. . 2261
'But whilst they wage this religious war, they fear lest they may act irreligiously, and so they have sent me here to say what they require. . 2262
'"We have come, not for the sake of territory, much less for money's sake, nor on account of any insolent feeling, nor yet from any thought of hatred; . 2263
'"But because we venerate the great Ṛṣi, we have come on this account. You, noble sirs! know well our mind! Why should there be such sorrowful contention! . 2264
'"You honour what we honour, both alike, then we are brothers as concerns religion. We both with equal heart revere the bequeathed spiritual relics of the lord. . 2265
'"To be miserly in (hoarding) wealth, this is an unreasonable fault; how much more to grudge religion, of which there is so little knowledge in the world! . 2266
'"The exclusive and the selfishly-inclined, should practise laws of hospitality (civility); but if ye have not rules of honour such as these, then shut your gates and guard yourselves." . 2267
'This is the tenor of the words, be they good or bad, spoken by them. But now for myself and my own feelings, let me add these true and sincere words. . 2268
'Let there be no contention either way; reason ought to minister for peace, the lord when dwelling in the world ever employed the force of patience. . 2269
'Not to obey his holy teaching, and yet to offer gifts to him, is contradiction. Men of the world for some indulgence, some wealth or land, contend and fight, . 2270
'But those who believe the righteous law, should obediently conform their lives to it; to believe and yet to harbour enmity, this is to oppose "religious principle" to "conduct." . 2271
'Buddha himself at rest, and full of love, desired to bestow the rest he enjoyed, on all. To adore with worship the great merciful, and yet to gender wide destruction, . 2272
'(How is this possible?) Divide the relics, then, that all may worship them alike; obeying thus the law, the fame thereof wide-spread, then righteous principles will be diffused; . 2273
'But if others walk not righteously, we ought by righteous dealing to appease them, in this way showing the advantage (pleasure) of religion, we cause religion everywhere to take deep hold and abide. . 2274
'Buddha has told us that of all charity "religious charity" is the highest; men easily bestow their wealth in charity, but hard is the charity that works for righteousness.' . 2275
'And for your friendly and religious counsel—speaking so well, and reasonably. Yours are words which a Brahman ought to use, in keeping with his holy character; . 2277
'Words full of reconciliation, pointing out the proper road; like one recovering a wandering horse brings him back by the path which he had lost. . 2278
'We then ought to adopt the plan of reconciliation such as you have shown us; to hear the truth and not obey it brings afterwards regretful sorrow.' . 2279
Then they opened out the master's relics and in eight parts equally divided them. Themselves paid reverence to one part, the other seven they handed to the Brahman; . 2280
The seven kings having accepted these, rejoiced and placed them on their heads; and thus with them returned to their own country, and erected Dāgobas for worship over them. . 2281
The Brahmacārin then besought the Mallas to bestow on him the relic-pitcher as his portion, and from the seven kings he requested a fragment of their relics, as an eighth share. . 2282
Taking this, he returned and raised a Caitya, which still is named 'the Golden Pitcher Dāgoba.' Then the men of Kuśinagara collecting all the ashes of the burning, . 2283
Thus throughout Jambudvīpa there first were raised ten Dāgobas. Then all the lords and ladies of the country holding gem-embroidered canopies, . 2285
Paid their offerings at the various shrines, adorning them as any golden mountain. And so with music and with dancing through the day and night they made merry, and sang. . 2286
And now the Arhats numbering five hundred, having for ever lost their master's presence, reflecting there was now no ground of certainty, returned to Gṛdhrakūṭa mount; . 2287
Should say (recite), for the sake of the congregation, the sermons of Tathāgata from first to last, 'Great and small, whatever you have heard from the mouth of the deceased Muni.' . 2289
Then Amanda in the great assembly ascending the lion throne, declared in order what the lord had preached, uttering the words 'Thus have I heard.' . 2290
The whole assembly, bathed in tears, were deeply moved as he pronounced the words 'I heard;' and so he announced the law as to the time, as to the place, as to the person; . 2291
As he spoke, so was it written down from first to last, the complete Sūtra Piṭaka. By diligent attention in the use of means, practising (the way of) wisdom, (all these) (Arhats) obtained Nirvāṇa; . 2292
When feeble, then he banished sorrow; as the Aśoka-flower tree, ruling over Jambudvīpa, his heart for ever put an end to sorrow, . 2294
When brought to entire faith in the true law; therefore he was called 'the King who frees from sorrow.' A descendant of the Mayūra family, receiving from heaven a righteous disposition, . 2295
He ruled equally over the world; he raised everywhere towers and shrines, his private name the 'violent Aśoka,' now called the 'righteous Aśoka.' . 2296
But though he obtained them not, knowing they were spiritually bequeathed relics of Buddha which the Nāga worshipped and adored, his faith was in creased and his reverent disposition. . 2299
Although the king was ruler of the world, yet was he able to obtain the first holy fruit; and thus induced the entire empire to honour and revere the shrines of Tathāgata. . 2300
In the past and present, thus there has been deliverance for all. Tathāgata, when in the world; and now his relics—after his Nirvāṇa; . 2301
Those who worship and revere these, gain equal merit; so also those who raise themselves by wisdom, and reverence the virtues of the Tathāgata, . 2302
Cherishing religion, fostering a spirit of alms-giving, they gain great merit also. The noble and superlative law of Buddha ought to receive the adoration of the world. . 2303
Gone to that undying place (Amrita), those who believe (his law) shall follow him there; therefore let all the Devas and men, without exception, worship and adore . 2304
The one great loving and compassionate, who mastered thoroughly the highest truth, in order to deliver all that lives. Who that hears of him, but yearns with love! . 2305
The pains of birth, old age, disease, and death, the endless sorrows of the world, the countless miseries of 'hereafter,' dreaded by all the Devas, . 2306
He has removed all these accumulated sorrows; say, who would not revere him? to escape the joys of after life, this is the world's chief joy! . 2307
To add the pain of other births, this is the world's worst sorrow! Buddha, escaped from pain of birth, shall have no joy of the 'hereafter!' . 2308
And having shown the way to all the world, who would not reverence and adore him? To sing the praises of the lordly monk, and (declare) his acts from first to last, . 2309
Without self-seeking or self-honour, without desire for personal renown, but following what the scriptures say, to benefit the world, (has been my aim.) . 2310
Footnotes and references:
The seven 'kings' were, the king of Magadha, the Licchavis of Vaiśālī, the Śākyas of Kapilavastu, the Bulis of Allakappa, the Koliyas of Rāmagrāma, the Brahman of Veṭhadipa, and the Mallas of Pāvā; Sacred Books of the East, vol. xi, pp. 131, 132.
The supports of life, as I take it, are the fields and fountains.
It may be rendered 'bow catapults' and 'balista-stone-carriages,' or bows, catapults, balistas, and stone carriages (carrying machines?).
These flying torches and other instruments were used by the Northern nations from remote antiquity. There is no indication of them, however, in the plate (xxxviii) in Tree and Serpent Worship, which, I take it, represents this scene. Aśvaghoṣa was familiar with Kaniṣka and his military appliances, and these doubtless included the instruments here referred to.
Is for ? If so, it would be cymbals and drums.
May they subdue those without loss or hurt to themselves.
Or, from the beginning.
A Jina king, or a conquering king. Kārandhama was a name of Avikṣit.
Whether it means he went back 'to death,' or he lost his possessions by warfare, is not plain from the text. The phrase 'all was lost,' may also be rendered, 'he gave up all.'
The character 'tsung' in this name is uncertain, I have not therefore attempted to restore it.
Not-covetous; here there is a double-entendre, contrasting the absence of covetousness in Buddha with the presence of it in the Pāṇḍavas and Kauravas.
There is nothing like this in the Southern account.
'Kings among men,' άνακτες ἀνδρῶν.
This is the only way to take the translation, although the pronoun ’ngo standing alone would signify 'I' have come; but perhaps the singular implies that Droṇa used the words of the chief of the kings.
Should practise 'waiting for guest laws,' civil conduct. I have given here the sense of the passage.
Kṣatriya rules, rules or laws of chivalry.
merit, or religious merit.
Placing relics on the head was a token of reverence. Compare plate xxxviii (Tree and Serpent Worship).
In reference to these Caityas or towers, compare the account given in the Pāli (Sacred Books of the East, vol. xi, p. 135), and also Fă-hien, cap. xxiii.
Or, as the Golden Mountain, i.e. Sumeru.
Here we have a short account of the first Buddhist Council, called the Council of the 500. It forms no part of the Mahā-parinibbāna-Sutta, although it is found in the Vinaya Piṭaka. Compare Oldenberg, Vinaya Piṭakam, Introduction.
This episode about Aśoka is a curious one. It would seem from it that Aśvaghoṣa knew only of one king of that name, called first 'the fierce,' afterwards 'the righteous.'
There are one or two Avadānas to be met with in Chinese Buddhist literature, relating to Aśoka's sickness, and how he then desired to redeem his character by making offerings to Buddha. But the accounts are too uncertain to be admitted as conclusive evidence in the question of his conversion.
This is a story everywhere received in Northern books. These eighty-four thousand towers are supposed to represent the number of sections, or perhaps letters, in the Piṭakas.
See Fă-hien's account, cap. xxiii.
'That is, the first step in the Buddhist profession of sanctity (Srotāpanna).
The joy of the 'hereafter,' is the joy, as men count it, of future sentient happiness. This, according to the text, it is the happiness of Buddha to have escaped.