Sakya Muni’s Place in History
Theosophist, November, 1883
[this article is part of the series: “Some Inquiries Suggested by Mr. Sinnett’s ‘Esoteric Buddhism'”]
No Orientalist, save perhaps, the same wise, not to say deep, Prof. Weber, opposes more vehemently than Prof. Max Müller Hindu and Buddhist chronology. Evidently if an Indophile he is not a Buddhophile, and General Cunningham, however independent otherwise in his archæological researches, agrees with him more than would seem strictly prudent in view of possible future discoveries.1 We have then to refute in our turn this great Oxford professor’s speculations.
To the evidence furnished by the Puranas and Mahavansa, which he also finds hopelessly entangled and contradictory (though the perfect accuracy of that Sinhalese history is most warmly acknowledged by Sir Emerson Tennant, the historian), he opposes the Greek classics and their chronology. With him, it is always “Alexander’s invasion” and “Conquest,” and “the ambassador of Seleucus Nicator—Megasthenes,” while even the faintest record of such “conquest” is conspicuously absent from Brahmanic record; and although in an inscription of Piyadasi are mentioned the names of Antiochus, Ptolemy, Magus, Antigonus, and even of the great Alexander himself, as vassals of the king Piyadasi, the Macedonian is yet called the “Conqueror of India.” In other words, while any casual mention of Indian affairs by a Greek writer of no great note must be accepted unchallenged, no record of the Indians, literary or monumental, is entitled to the smallest consideration. Until rubbed against the touch-stone of Hellenic infallibility it must be set down, in the words of Professor Weber, as “of course mere empty boasting.” Oh, rare Western sense of justice!2
Occult records show differently. They say—challenging proof to the contrary—that Alexander never penetrated into India farther than Taxila; which is not even quite the modern Attock. The murmuring of the Macedonian’s troops began at the same place, and not as given out, on the banks of the Hyphasis. For having never gone to the Hydaspes or Jhelum, he could not have been on the Sutlej. Nor did Alexander ever found satrapies or plant any Greek colonies in the Punjab. The only colonies he left behind him that the Brahmans ever knew of, amounted to a few dozens of disabled soldiers, scattered hither and thither on the frontiers; who with their native raped wives settled around the deserts of Karmania and Drangaria—the then natural boundaries of India. And unless history regards as colonists the many thousands of dead men and those who settled for ever under the hot sands of Gedrosia, there were no other, save in the fertile imagination of the Greek historians. The boasted “invasion of India” was confined to the regions between Karmania and Attock, east and west; and Beloochistan and the Hindu Kush, south and north: countries which were all India for the Greek of those days. His building a fleet on the Hydaspes is a fiction; and his “victorious march through the fighting armies of India,” another. However, it is not with the “world conqueror” that we have now to deal, but rather with the supposed accuracy and even casual veracity of his captains and countrymen, whose hazy reminiscences on the testimony of the classical writers have now been raised to unimpeachable evidence in everything that may affect the chronology of early Buddhism and India.
Foremost among the evidence of classical writers, that of Flavius Arrianus is brought forward against the Buddhist and Chinese chronologies. No one should impeach the personal testimony of this conscientious author had he been himself an eye-witness instead of Megasthenes. But when a man comes to know that he wrote his accounts upon the now lost works of Aristobulus and Ptolemy; and that the latter described their data from texts prepared by authors who had never set their eyes upon one line written by either Megasthenes or Nearchus himself; and that knowing so much one is informed by Western historians that among the works of Arrian, Book VII. of the “Anabasis of Alexander,” is “the chief authority on the subject of the Indian invasion—a book unfortunately with a gap in its twelfth chapter”—one may well conceive upon what a broken reed Western authority leans for its Indian chronology. Arrian lived over 600 years after Buddha’s death; Strabo, 500 (55 “B.C.”); Diodorus Siculus—quite a trustworthy compiler!—about the first century; Plutarch over 700 anno Buddhæ, and Quintus Curtius over 1,000 years! And when, to crown this army of witnesses against the Buddhist annals, the reader is informed by our Olympian critics that the works of the last-named author—than whom no more blundering (geographically, chronologically, and historically) writer ever lived—form along with the Greek history of Arrian the most valuable source of information respecting the military career of Alexander the Great—then the only wonder is that the great conqueror was not made by his biographers to have—Leonidas-like—defended the Thermopylean passes in the Hindu Kush against the invasion of the first Vedic Brahmins “from the Oxus.” Withal the Buddhist dates are either rejected or only accepted pro tempore. Well may the Hindu resent the preference shown to the testimony of Greeks—of whom some, at least, are better remembered in Indian history as the importers into Jambudvipa of every Greek and Roman vice known and unknown to their day—against his own national records and history. “Greek influence” was felt, indeed, in India, in this, and only in this, one particular. Greek damsels mentioned as an article of great traffic for India—Persian and Greek Yavanis—were the fore-mothers of the modern nautch-girls, who had till then remained pure virgins of the inner temples. Alliances with the Autiochuses and the Seleucus Nicators bore no better fruit than the rotten apple of Sodom. Pâtaliputra, as prophesied by Gautama Buddha, found its fate in the waters of the Ganges, having been twice before nearly destroyed, again like Sodom, by the fire of heaven.
Reverting to the main subject, the “contradictions” between the Ceylonese and Chino-Tibetan chronologies actually prove nothing. If the Chinese annalists of Saul in accepting the prophecy of our Lord that “a thousand years after He had reached Nirvana, His doctrines would reach the north” fell into the mistake of applying it to China, whereas Tibet was meant, the error was corrected after the eleventh century of the Tzina era in most of the temple chronologies. Besides which, it may now refer to other events relating to Buddhism, of which Europe knows nothing, China or Tzina dates its present name only from the year 296 of the Buddhist era3 (vulgar chronology having assumed it from the first Hoang of the Tzin dynasty): therefore the Tathágata could not have indicated it by this name in his well-known prophecy. If misunderstood even by several of the Buddhist commentators, it is yet preserved in its true sense by his own immediate Arhâts. The Glorified One meant the country that stretches far off from the Lake Mansorowara; far beyond that region of the Himavât, where dwelt from time immemorial the great “teachers of the Snowy Range.” These were the great Sráman-achâryas who preceded Him, and were His teachers, their humble successors trying to this day to perpetuate their and His doctrines. The prophecy came out true to the very day, and it is corroborated both by the mathematical and historical chronology of Tibet—quite as accurate as that of the Chinese. Arhât Kàsyâpa, of the dynasty of Môryas, founded by one of the Chandraguptas near Pâtaliputra, left the convent of Pânch-Kukkutarama, in consequence of a vision of our Lord, for missionary purpose in the year 683 of the Tzin era (436 Western era) and had reached the great Lake of Bod-Yul in the same year. It is at that period that expired the millennium prophesied. The Arhât carrying with him the fifth statue of Sakya Muni out of the seven gold statues made after his bodily death by order of the first Council, planted it in the soil on that very spot where seven years later was built the first GUNPA (monastery), where the earliest Buddhist lamas dwelt. And though the conversion of the whole country did not take place before the beginning of the seventh century (Western era), the good law had, nevertheless, reached the North at the time prophesied, and no earlier. For, the first of the golden statues had been plundered from Bhikshu Sali Sûka by the Hiong-un robbers and melted, during the days of Dharmasôka, who had sent missionaries beyond Nepaul. The second had a like fate, at Ghar-zha, even before it had reached the boundaries of Bod-Yul. The third was rescued from a barbarous tribe of Bhons by a Chinese military chief who had pursued them into the deserts of Schamo about 423 Buddhist era (120 “B.C.”) The fourth was sunk in the third century of the Christian era, together with the ship that carried it from Magadha toward the hills of Ghangs-chhèn-dzo-ngá (Chitagong). The fifth arriving in the nick of time reached its destination with Arhat Kasyapa. So did the last two4 . . . .
On the other hand, the Southern Buddhists, headed by the Ceylonese, open their annals with the following event:
They claim according to their native chronology that Vijaya, the son of Sinhabahu, the sovereign of Lala, a small kingdom or Raj on the Gandaki river in Magadha, was exiled by his father for acts of turbulence and immorality. Sent adrift on the ocean with his companions after having their heads shaved, Buddhist-Bhikshu fashion, as a sign of penitence, he was carried to the shores of Lanka. Once landed, he and his companions conquered and easily took possession of an island inhabited by uncivilized tribes, generically called the Yakshas. This—at whatever epoch and year it may have happened—is an historical fact, and the Ceylonese records, independent of Buddhist chronology, give it out as having taken place 382 years before Dushtagamani (i.e., in 543 before the Christian era). Now, the Buddhist Sacred Annals record certain words of our Lord pronounced by Him shortly before His death. In Mahavansa He is made to have addressed them to Sakra, in the midst of a great assembly of Devatas (Dhyan Chohans), and while already “in the exalted unchangeable Nirvana, seated on the throne on which Nirvana is achieved.” In our texts Tathagata addresses them to his assembled Arhâts and Bhikkhuts a few days before his final liberation:—“One Vijaya, the son of Sinhabahu, king of the land of Lala, together with 700 attendants, has just landed on Lanka. Lord of Dhyan Buddhas (Devas)! my doctrine will be established on Lanka. Protect him and Lanka!” This is the sentence pronounced which, as proved later, was a prophecy. The now familiar phenomenon of clairvoyant prevision, amply furnishing a natural explanation of the prophetic utterance without any unscientific theory of miracle, the laugh of certain Orientalists seems uncalled for. Such parallels of poetico-religious embellishments as found in Mahavansa exist in the written records of every religion—as much in Christianity as anywhere else. An unbiassed mind would first endeavour to reach the correct and very superficially hidden meaning before throwing ridicule and contemptuous discredit upon them. Moreover, the Tibetans possess a more sober record of this prophecy in the Notes, already alluded to, reverentially taken down by King Ajâtasatru’s nephew. They are, as said above, in the possession of the Lamas of the convent built by Arhât Kasyapa—the Môryas and their descendants being of a more direct descent than the Rajput Gautamas, the Chiefs of Nagara—the village identified with Kapilavastu—are the best entitled of all to their possession. And we know they are historical to a word. For the Esoteric Buddhist they yet vibrate in space; and these prophetic words, together with the true picture of the Sugata who pronounced them, are present in the aura of every atom of His relics. This, we hasten to say, is no proof but for the psychologist. But there is other and historical evidence: the cumulative testimony of our religious chronicles. The philologist has not seen these; but this is no proof of their non-existence.
The mistake of the Southern Buddhists lies in dating the Nirvana of Sanggyas Pan-chhen from the actual day of his death, whereas, as above stated, He had reached it over twenty years previous to his disincarnation. Chronologically, the Southerners are right, both in dating His death in 543 “B.C.,” and one of the great Councils at 100 years after the latter event. But the Tibetan Chohans, who possess all the documents relating to the last twenty-four years of His external and internal life—of which no philologist knows anything—can show that there is no real discrepancy between the Tibetan and the Ceylonese chronologies as stated by the Western Orientalists.5 For the profane, the Exalted One was born in the sixty-eighth year of the Burmese Eeatzana era, established by Eeatzana (Anjana), King of Dewaha; for the initiated—in the forty-eighth year of that era, on a Friday of the waxing moon, of May. And it was in 563 before the Christian chronology that Tathâgata reached his full Nirvana, dying, as correctly stated by Mahâvana—in 543, on the very day when Vijaya landed with his companions in Ceylon—as prophesied by Loka-rätha, our Buddha.
Professor Max Muller seems to greatly scoff at this prophecy. In his chapter (“Hist. S. L.”) upon Buddhism (the “false” religion), the eminent scholar speaks as though he resented such an unprecedented claim. “We are asked to believe”—he writes—“that the Ceylonese historians placed the founder of the Vijyan dynasty of Ceylon in the year 543 in accordance with their sacred chronology!” (i.e., Buddha’s prophecy), “while we (the philologists) are not told, however, through what channel the Ceylonese could have received their information as to the exact date of Buddha’s death.” Two points may be noticed in these sarcastic phrases: (a) the implication of a false prophecy by our Lord; and (b) a dishonest tampering with chronological records, reminding one of those of Eusebius, the famous Bishop of Cæsarea, who stands accused in history of “perverting every Egyptian chronological table for the sake of synchronisms.” With reference to charge one, he may be asked why our Sakyasinha’s prophecies should not be as much entitled to his respect as those of his Saviour would be to ours—were we to ever write the true history of the “Galilean” Arhât. With regard to charge two, the distinguished philologist is reminded of the glass house he and all Christian chronologists are themselves living in. Their inability to vindicate the adoption of December 25 as the actual day of the Nativity, and hence to determine the age and the year of their Avatar’s death—even before their own people—is far greater than is ours to demonstrate the year of Buddha to other nations. Their utter failure to establish on any other but traditional evidence the, to them, historically unproved, if probable, fact of his existence at all—ought to engender a fairer spirit. When Christian historians can, upon undeniable historical authority, justify biblical and ecclesiastical chronology, then, perchance, they may be better equipped than at present for the congenial work of rending heathen chronologies into shreds.
The “channel” the Ceylonese received their information through, was two Bikshus who had left Magadha to follow their disgraced brethren into exile. The capacity of Siddhartha Buddha’s Arhâts for transmitting intelligence by psychic currents may, perhaps, be conceded without any great stretch of imagination to have been equal to, if not greater than, that of the prophet Elijah, who is credited with the power of having known from any distance all that happened in the king’s bed chamber. No Orientalist has the right to reject the testimony of other people’s Scriptures, while professing belief in the far more contradictory and entangled evidence of his own upon the self-same theory of proof. If Professor Müller is a sceptic at heart, then let him fearlessly declare himself; only a sceptic who impartially acts the iconoclast has the right to assume such a tone of contempt towards any non-Christian religion. And for the instruction of the impartial inquirer only, shall it be thought worth while to collate the evidence afforded by historical—not psychological—data. Meanwhile, by analyzing some objections and exposing the dangerous logic of our critic, we may give the theosophists a few more facts connected with the subject under discussion.
Now that we have seen Professor Max Müller’s opinions in general about this, so to say, the Prologue to the Buddhist Drama with Vijaya as the hero—what has he to say as to the details of its plot? What weapon does he use to weaken this foundation-stone of a chronology upon which are built and on which depend all other Buddhist dates? What is the fulcrum for the critical lever he uses against the Asiatic records? Three of his main points may be stated seriatim with answers appended. He begins by premising that—
1st.—“If the starting-point of the Northern Buddhist chronology turns out to be merely hypothetical, based as it is on a prophecy of Buddha, it will be difficult to avoid the same conclusion with regard to the date assigned to Buddha’s death by the Buddhists of Ceylon and of Burmah” (p. 266). “The Mahavansa begins with relating three miraculous visits which Buddha paid to Ceylon.” Vijaya, the name of the founder of the first dynasty (in Ceylon), means conquest, “and, therefore, such a person most likely never existed” (p. 268). This he believes invalidates the whole Buddhist chronology.
To which the following pendant may be offered:—
William I., King of England, is commonly called the Conqueror; he was, moreover, the illegitimate son of Robert, Duke of Normandy, surnamed le Diable. An opera, we hear, was invented on this subject, and full of miraculous events, called “Robert the Devil,” showing its traditional character. Therefore shall we be also justified in saying that Edward the Confessor, Saxons and all, up to the time of the union of the houses of York and Lancaster under Henry VII.—the new historical period in English history—are all “fabulous tradition” and “such a person as William the Conqueror most likely never existed?”
2nd.—In the Chinese chronology—continues the dissecting critic—“the list of the thirty-three Buddhist patriarchs . . . . is of a doubtful character. For Western history the exact Ceylonese chronology begins with 161 B.C.” Extending beyond that date there exists but “a traditional native chronology. Therefore . . . . what goes before . . . . is but fabulous tradition.”
The chronology of the Apostles and their existence has never been proved historically. The history of the Papacy is confessedly “obscure.” Ennodius of Pavia (fifth century) was the first one to address the Roman Bishop (Symmochus), who comes fifty-first in the Apostolic succession, as Pope.” Thus, if we were to write the history of Christianity, and indulge in remarks upon its chronology, we might say that since there were no antecedent Popes, and since the Apostolic line began with Symmochus (498 A.D.), all Christian records beginning with the Nativity and up to the sixth century are therefore “fabulous traditions,” and all Christian chronology is “purely hypothetical.”
3rd.—Two discrepant dates in Buddhist chronology are scornfully pointed out by the Oxford Professor. If the landing of Vijaya, in Lanka—he says—on the same day that Buddha reached Nirvana (died) is in fulfilment of Buddha’s prophecy, then “if Buddha was a true prophet, the Ceylonese argue quite rightly that he must have died in the year of the conquest, or 543 B.C.” (p. 270). On the other hand, the Chinese have a Buddhist chronology of their own; and it does not agree with the Ceylonese. “The lifetime of Buddha from 1029 to 950) rests on his own prophecy that a millennium would elapse from his death to the conversion of China. If, therefore, Buddha was a true prophet, he must have lived about 1000 B.C.” (p. 266). But the date does not agree with the Ceylonese chronology—ergo, Buddha was a false prophet. As to that other “the first and most important link” in the Ceylonese as well as in the Chinese chronology, “it is extremely weak.” . . . . . In the Ceylonese “a miraculous genealogy had to be provided for Vijaya,” and, “a prophecy was therefore invented” (p. 269).
On these same lines of argument it may be argued that—
Since no genealogy of Jesus, “exact or inexact,” is found in any of the world’s records save those entitled the Gospels of SS. Mathew (i. 1-17), and Luke (iii. 23-38); and, since these radically disagree—although this personage is the most conspicuous in Western history, and the nicest accuracy might have been expected in his case; therefore, agreeably with Professor Max Müller’s sarcastic logic, if Jesus “was a true prophet, he must have descended from David through Joseph (Matthew’s Gospel); and “if he was a true prophet,” again, then the Christians “argue quite rightly that he must have” descended from David through Mary (Luke’s Gospel). Furthermore, since the two genealogies are obviously discrepant and prophecies were, in this instance, truly “invented” by the post-apostolic theologians [or, if preferred, old prophecies of Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets, irrelevant to Jesus, were adapted to suit his case—as recent English commentators (in Holy Orders), the Bible revisers, now concede]; and since, moreover—always following the Professor’s argument, in the cases of Buddhist and Brahmanical chronologies—Biblical chronology and genealogy are found to be “traditional and full of absurdities . . . . every attempt to bring them into harmony having proved a failure” (p. 266): have we or have we not a certain right to retort, that if Gautama Buddha is shown on these lines a false prophet, then Jesus must be likewise “a false prophet?” And if Jesus was a true prophet despite existing confusion of authorities, why on the same lines may not Buddha have been one? Discredit the Buddhist prophecies and the Christian ones must go along with them.
The utterances of the ancient pythoness now but provoke the scientific smile: but no tripod ever mounted by the prophetess of old was so shaky as the chronological trinity of points upon which this Orientalist stands to deliver his oracles. Moreover, his arguments are double-edged, as shown. If the citadel of Buddhism can be undermined by Professor Max Müller’s critical engineering, then pari passu that of Christianity must crumble in the same ruins. Or have the Christians alone the monopoly of absurd religious “inventions” and the right of being jealous of any infringement of their patent rights?
To conclude, we say, that the year of Buddha’s death is correctly stated by Mr. Sinnett, “Esoteric Buddhism” having to give its chronological dates according to esoteric reckoning. And this reckoning would alone, if explained, make away with every objection urged, from Professor Max Müller’s “Sanskrit Literature” down to the latest “evidence”—the proofs in the “Reports of the Archæological Survey of India.” The Ceylonese era, as given in Mahâvansa, is correct in everything, withholding but the above given fact of Nirvana, the great mystery of Samma-Sambuddha and Abhidina remaining to this day unknown to the outsider; and though certainly known to Bikshu Mahânâma— King Dhâtusena’s uncle—it could not be explained in a work like the Mahâvansa. Moreover, the Singhalese chronology agrees in every particular with the Burmese chronology. Independent of the religious era dating from Buddha’s death, called “Nirvanic Era,” there existed, as now shown by Bishop Bigandet (“Life of Guadama”), two historical eras. One lasted 1362 years, its last year corresponding with 1156 of the Christian era: the other, broken in two small eras, the last, succeeding immediately the other, exists to the present day. The beginning of the first, which lasted 562 years, coincides with the year 79 A.D. and the Indian Saka era. Consequently, the learned Bishop, who surely can never be suspected of partiality to Buddhism, accepts the year 543 of Buddha’s Nirvana. So do Mr. Tumour, Professor Lassen, and others.
The alleged discrepancies between the fourteen various dates of Nirvana collected by Csoma Cörösi, do not relate to the Nyr-Nyang in the least. They are calculations concerning the Nirvana of the precursors, the Boddhisatwas and previous incarnations of Sanggyas that the Hungarian found in various works and wrongly applied to the last Buddha. Europeans must not forget that this enthusiast acted under protest of the Lamas during the time of his stay with them: and that, moreover, he had learned more about the doctrines of the heretical Dugpas than of the orthodox Gelugpas. The statement of this “great authority (!) on Tibetan Buddhism,” as he is called, to the effect that Gautama had three wives whom he names—and then contradicts himself by showing (“Tibetan Grammar,” p. 162, see note) that the first two wives “are one and the same,” shows how little he can be regarded as an “authority.” he had not even learned that “Gopa, Yasodhara and Utpala Varna” are the three names for three mystical powers. So with the “discrepancies” of the dates. Out of the sixty-four mentioned by him but two relate to Sakya Muni—namely, the years 576 and 546—and these two err in their transcription; for when corrected they must stand 564 and 543. As for the rest they concern the seven ku-sum, or triple form of the Nirvanic state and their respective duration, and relate to doctrines of which Orientalists know absolutely nothing.
Consequently from the Northern Buddhists, who, as confessed by Professor Weber, “alone possess these (Buddhist) Scriptures complete,” and have preserved more authentic information regarding the circumstances of their redaction”—the Orientalists have up to this time learned next to nothing. The Tibetans say that Tathágata became a full Buddha—i.e., reached absolute Nirvana—in 2544 of the Kali era (according to Souramana), and thus lived indeed but eighty years, as no Nirvanee of the seventh degree can be reckoned among the living (i.e., existing) men. It is no better than loose conjecture to argue that it would have entered as little into the thoughts of the Brahmans to note the day of Buddha’s birth “as the Romans or even the Jews (would have) thought of preserving the date of the birth of Jesus before he had become the founder of a religion.” (Max Müller’s “Hist. S. L.”) For, while the Jews had been from the first rejecting the claim of Messiah-ship set up by the Chelas of the Jewish prophet and were not expecting their Messiah at that time, the Brahmans (the initiates, at any rate) knew of the coming of him whom they regarded as an incarnation of Divine wisdom, and therefore were well aware of the astrological date of his birth. If, in after times, in their impotent rage they destroyed every accessible vestige of the birth, life and death of Him, who in his boundless mercy to all creatures had revealed their carefully concealed mysteries and doctrines in order to check the ecclesiastical torrent of ever-growing superstitions, yet there had been a time when he was met by them as an Avatar. And, though they destroyed, others preserved.
The thousand and one speculations and the torturing of exoteric texts by Archæologist or Paleographer will ill repay the time lost in their study.
The Indian annals specify King Ajatasatru as a contemporary of Buddha, and another Ajatasatru helped to prepare the council 100 years after his death. These princes were sovereigns of Magadha and have naught to do with Ajatasatru of the Brihad-Aranyaka and the Kaushitaki-Upanishad, who was a sovereign of the Kasis; though Bhadrasena, “the son of Ajatasatru” cursed by Aruni, may have more to do with his namesake the “heir of Chandragupta” than is generally known, Professor Max Müller objects to two Asokas. He rejects Kalasoka and accepts but Dharmasoka—in accordance with “Greek” and in utter conflict with Buddhist chronology. He knows not—or perhaps prefers to ignore—that besides the two Asokas there were several personages named Chandragupta and Chandramasa. Plutarch is set aside as conflicting with the more welcome theory, and the evidence of Justin alone is accepted. There was Kalasoka, called by some Chandramasa and by others Chandragupta, whose son Nanda was succeeded by his cousin the Chandragupta of Seleucus, and under whom the Council of Vaisali took place “supported by King Nanda” as correctly stated by Taranatha. [None of them were Sudras, and this is a pure invention of the Brahmans.] Then there was the last of the Chandraguptas who assumed the name of Vikrama; he commenced the new era called the Vikramaditya or Samvat and began the new dynasty at Pataliputra, 318 (B.C.)—according to some European “authorities; “after him his son Bindusara or Bhadrasena—also Chandragupta, who was followed by Dharmasoka Chandragupta. And there were two Piyadasis—the “Sandracottus” Chandragupta and Asoka. And if controverted, the Orientalists will have to account for this strange inconsistency. If Asoka was the only “Piyadasi” and the builder of the monuments, and maker of the rock-inscriptions of this name; and if his inauguration occurred as conjectured by Professor Max Müller about 259 B.C., in other words, if he reigned sixty or seventy years later than any of the Greek kings named on the Piyadasian monuments, what had he to do with their vassalage or non-vassalage, or how was he concerned with them at all? Their dealings had been with his grandfather some seventy years earlier—if he became a Buddhist only after ten years occupancy of the throne. And finally, three well-known Bhadrasenas can be proved, whose names spelt loosely and phonetically, according to each writer’s dialect and nationality, now yield a variety of names, from Bindusara, Bimbisara, and Vindusara, down to Bhadrasena and Bhadrasara, as he is called in the Vapu Puiuna. These are all synonymous. However easy, at first sight, it may seem to be to brush out of history a real personage, it becomes more difficult to prove the non-existence of Kalasoka by calling him “false,” while the second Asoka is termed “the real,” in the face of the evidence of the Puranas, written by the bitterest enemies of the Buddhists, the Brahmans of the period. The Vayu and Matsya Puranas mention both in their lists of their reigning sovereigns of the Nanda and the Môrya dynasties. And, though they connect Chandragupta with a Sudra Nanda, they do not deny existence to Kalasoka, for the sake of invalidating Buddhist chronology. However falsified the now extant texts of both the Vaya and Matsya Puranas, even accepted as they at present stand “in their true meaning,” which Professor Max Müller (notwithstanding his confidence) fails to seize, they are not “at variance with Buddhist chronology before Chandragupta.” Not, at any rate, when the real Chandragupta instead of the false Sandrocottus of the Greeks is recognized and introduced. Quite independently of the Buddhist version, there exists the historical fact recorded in the Brahmanical as well as in the Burmese and Tibetan versions, that in the year 63 of Buddha, Susinago of Benares was chosen king by the people of Pâtaliputra, who made away with Ajatasatru’s dynasty. Susinago removed the capital of Magadha from Rajagriha to Vaisali, while his successor Kalasoka removed it in his turn to Pataliputra. It was during the reign of the latter that the prophecy of Buddha concerning Pâtalibat or Pâtaliputra—a small village during His time—was realized. (See Mahaparinibbana Sutta).
It will be easy enough, when the time comes, to answer all denying Orientalists and face them with proof and document in hand. They speak of the extravagant, wild exaggerations of the Buddhists and Brahmans. The latter answer: “The wildest theorists of all are they who, to evade a self-evident fact, assume moral, anti-national impossibilities, entirely opposed to the most conspicuous traits of the Brahmanical Indian character—namely, borrowing from, or imitating in anything, other nations. From their comments on Rig Veda, down to the annals of Ceylon, from Pânini to Matouan-lin, every page of their learned scholia appears, to one acquainted with the subject, like a monstrous jumble of unwarranted and insane speculations. Therefore, notwithstanding Greek chronology and Chandragupta—whose date is represented as “the sheetanchor of Indian chronology” that “nothing will ever shake”—it is to be feared that as regards India, the chronological ship of the Sanskritists has already broken from her moorings and gone adrift with all her precious freight of conjectures and hypotheses. She is drifting into danger. We are at the end of a cycle—geological and other—and at the beginning of another. Cataclysm is to follow cataclysm. The pent-up forces are bursting out in many quarters; and not only will men be swallowed up or slain by thousands, “new” land appear and “old” subside, volcanic eruptions and tidal waves appal; but secrets of an unsuspected past will be uncovered to the dismay of Western theorists and the humiliation of an imperious science. This drifting ship, if watched, may be seen to ground upon the upheaved vestiges of ancient civilizations, and fall to pieces. We are not emulous of the prophet’s honours: but still, let this stand as a prophecy.
[See also: “Inscriptions Discovered by General A. Cunningham“]
1. Notwithstanding Prof. M. Müller’s regrettable efforts to invalidate every Buddhist evidence, he seems to have ill-succeeded in proving his case, if we can judge from the openly expressed opinion of his own German confrères. In the portion headed “Tradition as to Buddha’s Age” (pp. 283-288) in his “Hist. of Ind. Lit.,” Prof. Weber very aptly remarks, “Nothing like positive certainty, therefore, is for the present attainable. Nor have the subsequent discussions of this topic by Max Müller (1859) (“Hist. A. S. L.” p. 264 ff), by Westergaard (1860), “Ueber Buddha’s Todesjahr,” and by Kern “Over de Jaartelling der Zuidel Buddhisten” so far yielded any definite results.” Nor are they likely to.
2. No Philaryan would pretend for a moment on the strength of the Piyadasi inscriptions that Alexander of Macedonia, or either of the other sovereigns mentioned, was claimed as an actual “vassal” of Chandragupta. They did not even pay tribute, but only a kind of quit-rent annually for lands ceded in the north: as the grant-tablets could show. But the inscription, however misinterpreted, shows most clearly that Alexander was never the conqueror of India.
3. The reference to Chinahunah (Chinese and Huns) in the Vishma Parva of the Mahabhárata is evidently a later interpolation, as it does not occur in the old MSS. existing in Southern India.
4. No doubt, since the history of these seven statues is not in the hands of the Orientalists, it will be treated as a “groundless fable.” Nevertheless such is their origin and history. They date from the first Synod, that of Rajagriha, held in the season of war following the death of Buddha, i.e., one year after his death. Were this Rajagriha Council held 100 years after, as maintained by some, it could not have been presided over by Mahákasyapa, the friend and brother Arhât of Sakyamuni, as he would have been 200 years old. The second Council or Synod, that of Vaisali, was held 120, not 100 or 110 years as some would have it, after the Nirvana, for the latter took place at a time a little over 20 years before the physical death of Tathágata. It was held at the great Saptapana cave (Mahavansa’s Sattapanni), near the Mount Baibhar (the Webhara of the Pali Manuscripts), that was in Rajagriha, the old capital of Magadha. Memoirs exist, containing the record of his daily life, made by the nephew of king Ajàtasatru, a favourite Bikshu of the Mahacharya. These texts have ever been in the possession of the superiors of the first Lamasery built by Arhât Kasyapa in Bod-Yul, most of whose Chohans were the descendants of the dynasty of the Moryas, there being up to this day three of the members of this once royal family living in India. The old text in question is a document written in Anudruta Magadha characters. [We deny that these or any other characters—whether Devanagari, Pali, or Dravidian—ever used in India, are variations of, or derivatives from, the Phœnician.] To revert to the texts it is therein stated that the Sattapanni cave, then called “Sarasvati” and “Bamboo-cave,” got its latter name in this wise. When our Lord first sat in it for Dhyana, it was a large six-chambered natural cave, 50 to 60 feet wide by 33 deep. One day, while teaching the mendicants outside, our Lord compared man to a Saptaparna (seven-leaved) plant, showing them how after the loss of its first leaf every other could be easily detached, but the seventh leaf—directly connected with the stem. “Mendicants,” he said, “there are seven Buddhas in every Buddha, and there are six Bikshus and but one Buddha in each mendicant. What are the seven? The seven branches of complete knowledge. What are the six? The six organs of sense. What are the five? The five elements of illusive being. And the ONE which is also ten? He is a true Buddha who develops in him the ten forms of holiness and subjects them all to the one—‘the silent voice’ (meaning Avolokiteswara). After that, causing the rock to be moved at His command, the Tathagata made it divide itself into a seventh additional chamber. remarking that a rock too was septenary, and had seven stages of development. From that time it was called the Sattapanni or the Saptaparna cave. After the first Synod was held, seven gold statues of the Bhagavat were cast by order of the king, and each of them was placed in one of the seven compartments.” These in after times, when the good law had to make room to more congenial because more sensual creeds, were taken in charge by various Viharas and then disposed of as explained. Thus when Mr. Turnour states on the authority of the sacred traditions of Southern Buddhists that the cave received its name from the Sattapanni plant, he states what is correct. In the “Archæological Survey of India,” we find that Gen. Cunningham identifies this cave with one not far away from it and in the same Baihbar range, but which is most decidedly not our Saptaparna cave. At the same time the Chief Engineer of Buddha Gaya, Mr. Beglar, describing the Chetu cave, mentioned by Fa-hian, thinks it is the Saptaparna cave, and he is right. For that, as well as the Pippal and the other caves mentioned in our texts, are too sacred in their associations—both having been used for centuries by generations of Bhikkhus, unto the very time of their leaving India—to have their sites so easily forgotten.
5. Bishop Bigandet, after examining all the Burmese authorities accessible to him, frankly confesses that “the history of Buddha offers an almost complete blank as to what regards his doings and preachings during a period of nearly twenty-three years.” (Vol. i. p. 260.)