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Saga of the Well-and-Wise-Walking Khan [With Dedication]


O thou most perfect Master and Teacher of Wisdom and Goodness! Teacher, second only to the incomparable Shâkjamuni (1)! Thou accomplished Nâgârg'una (2)! Thou who wast intimately acquainted with the Most-pure Tripîtaka (3), and didst evolve from it thy wise madhjamika (4), containing the excellent paramârtha (5)! Before thee I prostrate myself! Hail! Nâgârg'una O!


IT IS even the wonderful and astounding history of the deeds of the Well-and-wise-walking Khan, which he performed under the help and direction of this same Master and Teacher, Nâgârg'una, that I propose to relate in the form of the following series of narratives.

               In the kingdom of Magadha (6) there once lived seven brothers who were magicians. At the distance of a mile from their abode lived two brothers, sons of a Khan. The elder of these went to the seven magicians, saying, "Teach me to understand your art," and abode with them seven years. But though they were always setting him to learn difficult tasks, yet they never taught him the true key to their mystic knowledge. His brother, however, coming to visit him one day, by merely looking through a crack in the door of the apartment where the seven brothers were at work acquired perfectly the whole krijâvidja (7).

               After this they both went home together, the elder because he perceived he would never learn any thing of the magicians, and the younger because he had learnt every thing they had to impart.

               As they went along the younger brother said, "Now that we know all their art the seven magicians will probably seek to do us some mischief. Go thou, therefore, to our stable, which we left empty, and thou shalt find there a splendid steed. Put a rein on him and lead him forth to sell him, only take care thou go not in the direction of the dwelling of the seven magicians; and, having sold him, bring back the price thou shalt have received."

               When he had made an end of speaking he transformed himself into a horse, and went and placed himself in the stable against his brother arrived.

               But the elder brother, knowing the magicians had taught him nothing, stood in no fear of them. Therefore he did not according to the words of his brother; but saying within himself, "As my brother is so clever that he could conjure this fine horse into the stable, let him conjure thither another if he wants it sold. This one I will ride myself." Accordingly he saddled and mounted the horse. All his efforts to guide him were vain, however, and in spite of his best endeavours the horse, impelled by the power of the magic of them from whom the art had been learnt, carried him straight to the door of the magicians' dwelling. Once there he was equally unable to induce him to stir away; the horse persistently stood still before the magicians' door. When he found he could not in any way command the horse, he determined to sell it to these same magicians, and he offered it to them, asking a great price for it.

               The magicians at once recognized that it was a magic horse, and they said, among themselves, "If our art is to become thus common, and every body can produce a magic horse, no one will come to our market for wonders. We had best buy the horse up and destroy it." Accordingly they paid the high price required and took possession of the horse and shut it up in a dark stall. When the time came to slaughter it, one held it down by the tail, another by the head, other four by the four legs, so that it should in nowise break away, while the seventh bared his arm ready to strike it with death.

               When the Khan's son, who was transformed into the horse, had learnt what was the intention of the magicians, he said, "Would that any sort of a living being would appear into which I might transform myself."

               Hardly had he formed the wish when a little fish was seen swimming down the stream: into this the Khan transformed himself. The seven magicians knew what had occurred, and immediately transformed themselves into seven larger fish and pursued it. When they were very close to the little fish, with their gullets wide open, the Khan said, within himself, "Would that any sort of living being would appear into which I might transform myself." Immediately a dove was seen flying in the heavens, and the Khan transformed himself into the dove. The seven magicians, seeing what was done, transformed themselves into seven hawks, pursuing the dove over hill and dale. Once again they were near overtaking him, when the dove took refuge in the Land Bede (8). Southward in Bede was a shining mountain and a cave within it called "Giver of Rest." Hither the dove took refuge, even in the very bosom of the Great Master and Teacher, Nâgârg'una.

               The seven hawks came thither also, fast flying behind the dove; but, arrived at the entrance of Nâgârg'una's cave, they showed themselves once more as men, clothed in cotton garments.

               Then spoke the great Master and Teacher, Nâgârg'una, "Wherefore, O dove, flutterest thou so full of terror, and what are these seven hawks to thee?"

               So the Khan's son told the Master all that had happened between himself, his brother, and the seven magicians; and he added these words, "Even now there stand before the entrance of this cave seven men clothed in cotton garments. These men will come in unto the Master and pray for the boon of the ârâmela he holds in his hand. Meantime, I will transform myself into the large bead of the ârâmela, and when the Master would reach the chaplet to the seven men, I pray him that, putting one end of it in his mouth, he bite in twain the string of the same, whereby all the beads shall be set free."

               The Master benevolently did even as he had been prayed. Moreover, when all the beads fell showering on the ground, behold they were all turned into little worms, and the seven men clothed in cotton garments transformed themselves into seven fowls, who pecked up the worms. But when the Master dropped the large bead out of his mouth on to the ground it was transformed into the form of a man having a staff in his hand. With this staff the Khan's son killed the seven fowls, but the moment they were dead they bore the forms of men's corpses.

               Then spoke the Master. "This is evil of thee. Behold, while I gave thee protection for thy one life, thou hast taken the lives of these men, even of these seven. In this hast thou done evil."

               But the Khan's son answered, "To protect my life there was no other means save to take the life of these seven, who had vowed to kill me. Nevertheless, to testify my thanks to the Master for his protection, and to take this sin from off my head, behold I am ready to devote myself to whatever painful and difficult enterprise the Master will be pleased to lay upon me."

               "Then," said the Master, "if this is so, betake thyself to the cool grove, even to the cîtavana (9), where is the Siddhî-kür (10). From his waist upwards he is of gold, from his waist downwards of emerald; his head is of mother-of-pearl, decked with a shining crown. Thus is he made. Him if thou bring unto me from his Mango-tree (11), thou shalt have testified thy gratitude for my protection and shalt have taken this sin that thou hast committed from off thy head; for so shall I be able, when I have the Siddhî-kür in subjection under me, to bring forth gold in abundance, to give lives of a thousand years' duration to the men of Gambudvîpa (12), and to perform all manner of wonderful works."

               "Behold, I am ready to do even as according to thy word," answered the Khan's son. "Tell me only the way I have to take and the manner and device whereby I must proceed."

               Then spoke the great Master and Teacher, Nâgârg'una, again, saying,--

               "When thou shalt have wandered forth hence for the distance of about an hundred miles, thou shalt come to a dark and fearsome ravine where lie the bodies of the giant-dead. At thy approach they shall all rise up and surround thee. But thou call out to them, 'Ye giant-dead, hala hala svâhâ (13)!' scattering abroad at the same time these barley-corns, consecrated by the power of magic art, and pass on thy way without fear.

               About another hundred miles' space farther hence thou shalt come to a smooth mead by the side of a river where lie the bodies of the pigmy-dead. At thy approach they shall all rise up and surround thee. But thou cry out to them, 'Ye pigmy-dead, hulu hulu svâhâ!' and, strewing thine offering of barley-corns, again pass on thy way without fear.

               At a hundred miles' space farther along thou shalt come to a garden of flowers having a grove of trees and a fountain in the midst; here lie the bodies of the child-dead. At thy approach they shall rise up and running together surround thee. But thou cry out to them, 'Ye child-dead, rira phad!' and, strewing thine offering of barley-corns, again pass on thy way without fear.

               Out of the midst of these the Siddhî-kür will rise and will run away from before thee till he reaches his mango-tree, climbing up to the summit thereof. Then thou swing on high the axe which I will give thee, even the axe White Moon (14), and make as though thou wouldst hew down the tree in very truth. Rather than let thee hew the mango-tree he will come down. Then seize him and bind him in this sack of many colours, in which is place for to stow away an hundred, enclose the mouth thereof tight with this cord, twisted of an hundred threads of different colours, make thy meal off this cake which never grows less, place the sack upon thy shoulder, and bring him hither to me. Only beware that by the way thou open not thy lips to speak!

               "And now, hitherto hast thou been called the Khan's son, but now, since thou hast found thy way even to the cave 'Giver of Rest,' thou shalt be called no more the Khan's son, but 'the Well-and-wise-walking Khan.' Go now thy way."

               When the Master, Nâgârg'una, had given him this new name, he further provided him with all the provisions for the undertaking which he had promised him, and, pointing out the way, dismissed him in peace.

               When the Well-and-wise-walking Khan had overcome all the alarms and difficulties of the way, and come in sight of the Siddhî-kür, he set out swiftly to pursue him; but the Siddhî-kür was swifter than he, and, reaching the mango-tree, clambered up to the summit. Then said the Well-and-wise-walking Khan, "Behold, I come in the name of the great Master and Teacher, Nâgârg'una. My axe is the axe 'White Moon,' my provision for the journey is the cake which never diminishes, my prison is the sack of many colours, in which is place to stow away an hundred, my cord is the cord twisted of an hundred threads of different colours, I myself am called the Well-and-wise-walking Khan; I command thee, therefore, Siddhî-kür, that thou come down hither to me, otherwise with my axe 'White Moon' will I fell the mango-tree."

               At these words the Siddhî-kür cried, in answer, "Fell not the mango-tree. Rather will I come down to thee." With that he came down, and the Khan, taking him, put him in his sack of many colours, in which was place to stow away an hundred, then he made the mouth fast with the cord twisted of an hundred threads of various colours, made his meal off his cake which never diminished, and proceeded on his way to take him to the great Master and Teacher, Nâgârg'una.

               As they journeyed on thus day after day, and had grown weary, thus spoke the Siddhî-kür, "Long is the journey, and both of us are weary, tell thou now a story to enliven it."

               But, remembering the words of Nâgârg'una, "Beware thou open not thy lips to speak," he answered him never a word.

               Then said the Siddhî-kür again, "If thou wilt not tell a story to lighten the journey, at least listen to one from me, and to this thou canst give assent without opening thy lips, if only thou nod thy head backwards towards me. At this sign I will tell a tale." So the Well-and-wise-walking Khan nodded his head backwards towards the Siddhî-kür, and the Siddhî-kür told this tale:-- [THE WOMAN WHO SOUGHT HER HUSBAND IN THE PALACE OF ERLIK KHAN.]


(1) Shâkjamuni—the family name of Buddha, the originator of Buddhism. It means “Hermit of the tribe of Shâkja,” the Shâkja being one of the earliest Indian dynasties of which there are any records. His great-grandfather was Gajasena, whose son Sinahânu married Kâkkanâ, also of the Shâkja lineage. Their son Shuddhodana married Mahâpragâpatî (more commonly called by her subsequently received name of Mâja = “the creative power of the godhead”) a daughter of Angana, Kâkkanâ’s brother, and became the father of Buddha [1].

According to the Mahavansha, Gajasena was descended from Ixvâku, through the fabulous number of eighty-two thousand ancestors! He was also wont to call himself Shramana-Gautama, to mark his alliance with a certain priestly family of Brahmans and thereby disarm any animosity on their part toward his teaching. He was also called Shâkjasinha = “Lion of the tribe of Shâkja,” to show that he belonged to the warrior caste.

He was brought up as heir to the crown, and was trained in the use of arms and in all matters appertaining to the duties of a ruler. At the age of sixteen he was married, and we have the names of his three wives—Utpalavarnâ, Jashodharâ, and Bhadrakâkkanâ. Up to the age of twenty-eight he lived a life entirely devoted to the pursuit of pleasure, his time being passed between the respective attractions of three splendid palaces built for him by his father. At about this age he appears to have grown weary of this desultory kind of life, and one day, meeting in his walks with an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and a priest, he was led to turn his thoughts upon the evils and the evanescence of life. Rambling on instead of returning home he sat down to rest under the shade of a gambu-tree, and here he found fresh food for his melancholy reflections in the miserable condition of the country people living around. The legend says the Devatâ, or gods, appeared to him in the shape of these suffering people in order further to instruct him in his new views of existence. In all probability his previous mode of life never having brought him in contact with the actual miseries of the needy this sight appeared to him in the light of an apparition.

The result of his deliberations was the resolve to withdraw to a place of solitude, where he might be free to consider by what means human beings could be relieved from their miseries [2].

With this view he forsook his family and his palatial residences, and having laid aside his rich clothing he wandered forth unknown to all, begging his food by the way till he found the retirement he sought in the hermitages of various Brahmans of Gajâshira, a hill in the neighbourhood of Gaja [3], whence he is sometimes called Gajashiras.

He first placed himself under the teaching of the Brahman Arâda Kâlâma, afterwards under that of another called Rudraka, who was so struck with the progress he made in the acquisition of every kind of knowledge that he soon associated him with himself in the direction of his disciples. Five of these (four of them belonging to the royal Shâkja family), Âgnâta, Ashvagit, Bhadraka, Vashpa, and Mahârâta, grew so much attached to him and his views that they subsequently became the first followers of his separate school of teaching.

Having after some years exhausted the satisfaction he found in the pursuit of study he set out restlessly on a new search after happiness, followed by the five disciples I have named, and retired with them to a more exclusive solitude still, where for six years he gave himself up to unbroken contemplation amid the most rigid austerities. After this he seems to have somewhat alienated his companions by relaxing his severe mode of life, for they forsook him about this time and took up their abode in the neighbourhood of Vârânasî [4], where they continued to live as he had shown them at the first [5].

This mode of life even he, however, does not appear to have altered except in the matter of abridging his fasts, for his habitual meditations went on as before, and they were believed to have so illumined his understanding that he finally received the appellation of Buddha = “the enlightened one,” while from his favourite habit of making these meditations under the shade of the ashvattha, the “trembling leaf” fig-tree, that tree, which has acquired so prominent a place in Buddhist records, legends, and institutions, came to be called the bodhiruma, literally, “tree of knowledge,” and it has even been distinguished by naturalists from the ficus indica, of which it is a variety, by the title of ficus religiosa. It became so inseparable an adjunct of Buddhism that wherever the teaching of Shâkjamuni was spread this tree was transplanted too [6].

The oppression of solitude appears to have overcome Shâkjamuni at last, and he consequently took the resolution of journeying to Vâranasî to seek out his former companions. At their first meeting they were so scandalized to see him look so well and hearty instead of emaciated by austerities that they refused to pay him any respect. But when he showed them that he had attained to the illumination of a Buddha they accepted his teaching and put themselves entirely under his guidance. The number of his disciples increased meantime amazingly. As they lived by alms they received the name of Bhixu as a term of reproach. Ere long we find him sending out sixty of them, whom he invested with a certain high dignity he called Arhat [7], to spread his teaching wherever they came. He himself wandered for nineteen years over the central and eastern districts of the country, teaching,—his agreeable presence and benevolence of manner, and, the legends say, the wonderful things he did, winning him numerous converts wherever he went [8]. Some gave themselves up to a life of contemplation in the jungle, others associated themselves with him in his travels. When the rainy season set in they had to find shelter for the four months in such colleges of Brahmans or houses of families as they found well inclined towards them. This Varshavasana, as it was called, afforded them additional opportunity of making known their ideas.

Shâkjamuni himself seems to have won over several kings to his way of thinking; one of them, king of Pankâla, he made an Arhat; another, the king of Koshala, stirred himself very much to awaken Shuddodana to a sense of the merit of his son, sending to congratulate him because one of whom he was progenitor had found the means by which mortals might attain to unending happiness. For once, making an exception to the proverb that a prophet meets with little honour in his own country, fortune favoured him in this matter also, and his father, who violently opposed his withdrawal from his due mode of life in the first instance, sent eight messengers one after the other to beg him to come and adorn his court with his wisdom. Each one of these, however, was so won by his teaching that he never returned to the king, but remained at the feet of Shâkjamuni. Last of all the king sent his minister Karka, who, though he also adopted his views, prevailed on him to let him take back the message that he would satisfy his father’s requests. The king meantime built a vihâra for him under a grove of his favourite Njagrodha, or sacred fig-tree. His return home happened in the twelfth year after his departure, but when he had made his teaching known among his kindred he set out on his travels again, only returning at intervals, as to any other vihâra, for the rainy season. A great many of his family joined themselves to him, among them his son Râhula, and his nephew Ânanda, who became one of his most celebrated followers.

In the twentieth year of his Buddhahood and the fifty-sixth of his age, he was seized with a serious illness, during which he announced his conviction that his end, or nirvâna, was at hand, that is, his entering on that state which was the ultimate object which he bid his followers strive to attain—the completion of all possible knowledge and the consequent dissolution of personal individuality [9]; further, that it should take place at Kushinagara, the capital of the Malla people [10]. Soon after, he accomplished his prediction by setting out for this place, visiting by the way many of the spots where he had establishments of disciples, and arriving there in a state of utter exhaustion and prostration. On this journey he made more converts, but after his arrival gave himself up to contemplation which he considered necessary to perfect his fifth or highest degree of knowledge, until his death. This took place under a Shala-grove, or grove of sal-trees. His body was by his own desire treated with the honours only to be paid to a Kakravartin [11], or supreme ruler. After burning his body the ashes were preserved in an urn of gold. His death is reckoned to have taken place in the year 543 B.C. [12], according to the Buddhists of Ceylon and Southern India generally. Those of the northern provinces, the Japanese and Mongolians, have a very different chronology, and place his birth about the year 950 B.C. The Chinese are divided among themselves about it and say variously, 688, 1070, and 1122 [13].

A great number of claimants demanded his ashes in memorial of him, and finally, by the advice of a Brahman named Drona, they were partitioned among eight cities, in each of which a kaitja, or shrine [14], was erected to receive them. A great gathering of his followers was held at Kushinagara, of which Kâshjapa was sanghasthavira, or president, Buddha having himself previously designated him for his successor. He had been a distinguished Brahman. It is said by one of the exaggerations common in all Indian records that there were seven hundred thousand of the new religionists present. Five hundred were selected from among the most trustworthy to draw up the Sanghiti, or good laws of Buddha. Then they broke up, determining to travel over Gambudvîpa, consoling the scattered Bhixu for the loss of their master, and to meet again at Râgagriha at the beginning of the month Ashâdha (answering to the end of our June) for the Varshavasana.

This synod lasted seven months. Its chief work was the compilation of the Tripitaka—“the three baskets” or “vessels” supposed to contain all Shâkjamuni’s teaching: 1. The Sutra-pitaka, containing the conversation of Shâkjamuni (of these I have had occasion to speak in another place [15]); 2. The Vinaja-pitaka, containing maxims by which the disciple’s life was to be guided; and the Ahidharma-pitaka, containing an exposition of religious and philosophical teaching. The first was under the revision of Ânanda; the second under that of Upâli; and the third under that of Kâcjapa. The Tripitaka also bears the name of Sthavira, because only such took part in its compilation; also “of the five hundred,” because so many were charged with its compilation.

It is important, however, to bear in mind, because of the monstrous exaggerations and extravagant incidents subsequently introduced [16] that these were only compilations preserved by word of mouth; the art of writing was scarcely known in India at this time. “After the Nirvâna of Buddha, for the space of 450 years, the text and commentaries and all the words of the Tathâgato were preserved and transmitted by wise priests orally. But having seen the evils attendant upon this mode of transmission, 550 rahats of great authority, in the cave called Alôka (Alu) in the province of Malaya, in Lankâ, under the guardianship of the chief of that province caused the sacred books to be written [17].” As this “text and commentaries” are reckoned to consist of 6,000,000 words, and the Bible of about 500,000, we may form some idea of the impossibility of so vast a body of language being in any way faithfully preserved by so treacherous a medium as memory.

Megasthenes (Fragm. 27, p. 421, b.) and Nearchos (Fragm. 7, p. 60, b.) particularly mention that the Indians had no written laws, but their code was preserved in the memory of their judges; thus testifying to the practice of trusting to memory in the most important matters. Schwanbeck (Megast. Ind. p. 51) remarks that the Sanskrit word for a collection of laws—Smriti—means also memory. J. Prinsep (in his paper on the Inscriptions of the Rocks of Girnar, in Journ. of As. Soc. of Beng. vii. 271) is inclined to think some of the rock-cut inscriptions are as early as 500 B.C.; which would show they had some knowledge of a written character then; Lassen, however, is of opinion that this is altogether too early; but there seems no doubt that there are some both of and anterior to the reign of Ashoka, 246 B.C. Megasthenes indeed mentions that he had heard they used a kind of indurated cotton for writing on. But the use, neither of this material nor of a written character, could have been very common or extended, for Nearchos (Strabo, xvi. § 67) wrote, “It is said by some, the Indians write on indurated cotton stuff, but others say they have not even the use of a written alphabet.”

Though thus disfigured and overlaid as time went by, the great intention which Shâkjamuni himself seems to have had in view in the preparation of his doctrine was to destroy the exclusiveness of the Brahmanical castes, and that most especially in its influence on the future and final condition of every man, and thus he accepted men of all castes, even the very lowest [18], and the out-caste too, among not only his disciples but among his priesthood. It was thus in its origin a system of morals rather than of faith. It was full of maxims inculcating virtue to be pursued—not indeed out of obedience to the will of a Divine and all perfect Creator—but with the object of escaping the necessity of the number of re-births taught by the Brahmans and of sooner attaining to nirvâna. It set up, therefore, no mythology of its own [19], nor put forward any statement of what gods were to be honoured. Nevertheless it was grafted on to the mythology prevailing at the time, and many of the gods then honoured are incidentally mentioned in the Sutra as accepted objects of veneration. The Vêda, or sacred teaching of the Brahmans, is quoted in almost every page [20]. The gods who thus come in for mention in the simple Sutra are the following [21]:—The three gods of the later mythology bear here the names of (1) Brahmâ and Pelâmaha; (2) Hari, Ganârdana, Nârâjana, and Upêndra (it is important to note that the name of Krishna does not appear at this period at all); (3) Shiva and Shankara. Indra was now placed at the head of gods of the second rank. We have also Shakra, Vâsava, and Shakipati, called the husband of Shaki. Of the other Lôkapâla, Kuvera and Varunna are named. It is doubtless only by accident that more do not find mention. Of the demigods Visvakarman, the Gandharba, Kinnara, Garuda, Jaxa the Serpent-god, Asura, and Danava, along with other evil genii and serpent-gods. The most often named—particularly in the colloquies between Buddha and his disciples—is Indra with the adjunctive appellation of Kaushika. Indra was at the time of Shâkjamuni himself the favourite god; the other great gods had not yet received the importance they afterwards acquired, nor had any thing like the idea of a trine unity or equality been broached [22] as we shall presently see; even these allusions were but scanty [23]. It was long before the whole Brahmanical system of divinities came to form an integral part of the Buddhist theosophy [24].

Hence Shâkjamuni, as well as his contemporary and earliest succeeding disciples, lived for the most part [25] on good terms with the Brahmans, some of whom were among the most zealous in securing the custody of some part of his ashes. But they were not long ere they perceived that as this new teaching developed itself its tendency was to supersede their order. Then, a life and death struggle for the upper-hand ensued which lasted for centuries, for while the Buddhists were on the one side fighting against the attempted extermination, on the other side they were spreading their doctrines over an ever-fresh field by the journeyings of their missionaries, a proceeding the more exclusive Brahmans had never adopted. This went on till by the one means and the other Buddhism had been almost entirely banished from Central India, where it took its rise, but had established itself on an enduring basis as remote from its original centre as Ceylon, Mongolia, China, Japan, the Indian Archipelago, and perhaps even Mexico [26]. This state of things was hardly established before the 14th century [27]. But from information on the condition of religion in India preserved by the Chinese pilgrim Fahien, who traversed a great part of Asia, A.D. 399–414, Buddhism had already at that time suffered great losses, for at Gaja itself the temple of Buddha was a deserted ruin. From the writings of another Chinese pilgrim, Hiuen Thsang, whose travels took place in the 7th century, it would seem that the greatest Brahmanical persecution of the Buddhists did not take place before 670 [28]. That it had cleared them out of Central India by the date I have named above is further confirmed by Mâdhava, a writer of the 14th century, quoted by Professor Wilson, who “declares that at his date not a follower of Buddha was to be found in all Hindustan, and he had only met some few old men of that faith in Kashmir.” “At the present day,” adds Wilson, “I never met with a person who had met with natives of India Proper of that faith, and it appears that an utter extirpation of the Buddha religion in India Proper was effected between the 12th and 16th centuries.” Nevertheless it is the system of religion which next after the Catholic Church counts the greatest number of followers.

Dr. Gützlaff (in his “Remarks on the Present State of Buddhism,” in “Journ. of R. As. Soc.” xvi. 73.) tells us two-thirds of the population of China is Buddhist. In Ungewitter’s Neueste Erdebeschreibung, the whole population is stated from native official statistics at 360,000,000; whence it would follow that there are 240,000,000 Buddhists in China alone; probably, however, the Chinese figures are to some extent an exaggeration.

Before concluding this brief notice of Buddhism it remains to say a few words on the later developments of the system which have too often been identified with its original utterances.

It does not appear to have been before the 10th century that Shâkjamuni was reckoned to be an incarnation of a heavenly being; at least the earliest record of such an idea is found in an inscription at Gaya, ascribed to the year 948 [29], while much of his own teaching bears traces of a lingering belief in a great primeval tradition of the unity of the Godhead and the promise of redemption [30], as well as the great primary laws of obedience and sacrifice more perfectly preserved to us in the inspired writings committed to the Hebrews. The history of the deluge, as given by Weber from the Mahâ Bhârata, is almost identical in its leading features with the account in Genesis, bearing of course some additions. A great ship was laden with pairs of beasts, and seeds of every kind of plants, and was steered safely through the floods by Vishnu under the form of a great fish, who ultimately moored it on the mountain Naubandhana, one of the Himâlajas in Eastern Kashmere. The early Vêda hymns, too, had thus spoken of the Creation, “At that time there was neither being nor no being; no world, no air, nor any thing beyond it. Death was not, neither immortality; nor distinction of day and night. But It (tad) respired alone, and without breathing; alone in Its self-consciousness (Svadha, which hence came to be used for ‘Heaven’). Besides It was nothing, only darkness. All was wrapt in darkness, and undistinguishable fluid. But the bulk thus enveloped was brought forth by the power of contemplation. Love (Kama) was first formed in Its mind, and this was the original creative germ [31].” And the Vêda was, we have seen, adopted in the main by Shâkjamuni; but the development of his views came to imply that there was no Creator at all, existences being only a series of necessary evolutions [32]. And when later a Creator came again to be spoken of, the term was involved in the most inconceivable contradictions [33]. A distinguished Roman Orientalist also writes:—“The Vêda, and principally the Jazur-Vêda and the Isa-Upanishad, contain not only many golden maxims, but distinct traces of the primitive Monotheism. But these books exercise little influence on the religion of the people, which is a mass of idolatry and superstition; moreover, they are themselves filled with the most absurd stories and fables. The Jazur-Vêda, which is the freest from these defects, is a comparatively recent production, and the author has manifestly drawn upon not only both Old and New Testament, but also the Koran [34].”

An infusion of the revealed doctrines taught by Christianity was also received into it from the teaching of the missionaries of the first ages after the birth of Christ, though similarly disfigured and overwrought. To distinguish the influence of the one and the other would be a fascinating study, but one too vast for the limits of the present pages. When we come presently to the history of Vikramâditja we shall find it presents us with a striking idea of the facility with which various ideals can be heaped upon one personality; this will serve as a key to the mode in which an unenlightened admiration for the story of our Divine Redeemer’s life on earth may be supposed to have induced the ascribing of His supernatural manifestations to another being, already accepted as Divine. It is true that certain appearances of Vishnu and Shiva on earth would seem to have been believed before the Christian era; and apart from the Indian writings, the dates of which are so difficult to fix, the testimony of Megasthenes (the Historian of Seleucus Nicanor, who wrote B.C. 300) is quoted in proof that at his time such incarnations were already held. But the passages in Megasthenes, by the very fact that he identifies Vishnu with Hercules, tend only to demonstrate a belief in a different kind of manifestation of Divine power. Those who labour most to prove that the Brahmanical idea of incarnation preceded the Christian have to allow that it was only subsequently to the spread of Christian teaching that it was fully developed. Thus Lassen writes, “I have, therefore (i. e. in consequence of the allusions in Megasthenes), no hesitation in maintaining that the dogma of Vishnu’s incarnations was in existence 300 years before the birth of Christ; still, however, it only received its full development at a subsequent period [35].” And in another place, speaking of the Avatâra (incarnations) of Vishnu, in the persons of the heroes of the epic poems, he adds, “this dogma is unknown (fremd) to the Vêda, and the few allusions to such an idea existing in some of its myths, and which were later reckoned among the incarnations of Vishnu, show that in the earliest ages the recurring appearance in man’s nature of ‘the preserving god’ for the destruction of evil was not yet invented. [36]” And even of the early epic poems he writes, that though such ideas are introduced, yet the heroes still maintain their individuality. They are actuated and indwelt by Vishnu, but they are not he. This, it will be seen, is very different from the Christian dogma of the Incarnation.

Whether the extremely interesting and ancient tradition be genuine (as maintained by Tillemont) or not, that Abgarus, king of Edessa, sent messengers to our Lord in Judæa, begging Him to come and visit him and heal him of his sickness, and that our Lord in reply sent him word that He must do the work of Him Who sent Him and then return to Him above, but that after His Ascension He would send an Apostle to him, and that in consequence of this promise St. Thomas received the far East for the field of his labours—and, however much be chronologically correct of the mass of records and traditions which tell that this Apostle travelled over the whole Asian continent, from Edessa to Tibet, and perhaps China—it would appear to be intrinsically probable and as well attested as most facts of equally remote date, that both this Apostle and Thaddæus, one of the seventy-two disciples, preached the Gospel in countries east of Syria, and that his successors, more or less immediate, extended their travels farther and farther east. It is mentioned in Eusebius (Book v. c. 10), that S. Pantæus, going to India to preach the Gospel early in the 3rd century (Eusebius himself wrote at the end of the same century), met with Brahmans who showed him a copy of the Gospel of St. Matthew in Hebrew, which they said had been given to their forerunners by St. Bartholomew [37]. Lassen himself allows, that in all probability certain Brahmans, at a very early date, fell in with Christian teachers, and brought them back home with them. Further, that the idea of there being any merit in bhakti, or pious faith, and a development in the teaching concerning the duty of prayer may be traced to this circumstance. Nor does he deny that when in 435, Eustathius, Bp. of Antioch, with the help of Thomas Kama, a rich local merchant, went to found a mission at Mahâdevapatma (Cranganore), he found Christians who dated their conversion from St. Thomas living there. His further efforts to disprove that St. Thomas himself penetrated very far east, and that the early Christian establishments at Taprobane and Ceylon were founded by Persian Christians, though far from conclusive, tend as far as they go but to support all the more the theory of an admixture of Christian with Brahmanical and Buddhist teaching; because, the less pure the source of teaching the more likely it was to have resulted in producing such an admixture in place of actual conversion. Nor does the circumstance on which he lays much weight, that the Brahmans resented the inroads of Christian teaching on their domain, even with severe persecutions, at all afford any proof that there were not Brahmanical teachers, who either through sincere admiration (for which they were prepared by their early monotheistic tradition), or from a conviction of the advantage to be derived in increase of influence by its means, or other cause, may have thought fit, or been even unconsciously led to incorporate certain ideas of the new school with their own.

I have only space left to touch upon two of the most important of these identifications. And first the imitation of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Lassen (i. 784 and iv. 570) fixes as late a date as 1420–1445 for the introduction of the Trimurti worship, or, as he expresses it, the bootless attempt to unite various schools by propounding the equality and unity of the three great rival gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, who were the chief gods favoured by each respectively. Devarâja of Vigajanagara erected the first temple to the Trimurti about this date. Ganesha, the god of wisdom and knowledge, appeared to his minister Laxmana and bid him build a temple on the banks of the Penar to the Hiranjagarbha, called Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva; this is the first example of any inscription of honour paid to the Trimurti [38].

Secondly, the worship of the god Crishna, whose name and attributes as well as his substitution for Vishnu, the second god of the Trimurti, present so many analogies with the teaching concerning our Divine Lord [39]. Whatever difficulty there may be in fixing the date of the origin of the great Pânkarâtra sect, there appears none in affirming that the full development of its teaching in the direction of these analogies was subsequent to the establishment of Christianity. This is how A. Weber speaks of it [40]. Brahmans, who had travelled to Alexandria, and perhaps Asia Minor, at a time when Christianity was in its first bloom, brought back its teaching respecting a Supreme God and a Christ whom they identified with and fastened upon their sage or hero, who had already in some measure received Divine honours—Crishna Devakiputra (Son of the divine woman). He also dwells on the influence exercised by the teaching of Christian missionaries. The importance given to Devaki would point to an incorporation of Christian teaching concerning the Virgin Mary. Weber, in a paper entitled “Einige Data auf das Geburtsfest Krishna’s,” instances many passages in the Bavrishjottara-Purana (one of the latest Puranas), which it is impossible to read without being reminded of the place of “the Virgin and Child” in Christian tradition, and which find no counterpart in earlier Indian writings. Similarly it was the later schools which dwelt on the fact of his having Nanda the herdsman for his father, seemingly suggested by our Lord’s character of “the good Shepherd,” because in the earlier Crishna Legends [41] this fact is sunk in the view that (though sprung from the herdsmen) he was a warrior and a hero. Nor was the teaching concerning this character of Crishna at all rapid in its extension. Its chief seat, according to Lassen [42], in what he expresses as “the earliest times,” was Madura; but the first date he mentions in connexion with it is 1017, when a Crishna temple was destroyed by Mahmûd of Ghazna, Lalitâditja, king of Cashmere, built him a temple containing a statue of solid silver, and he reigned from 695 to 732; but the gold armour the image bore would point to his warrior character still prevailing down to this time. Lassen even finds [43] the introduction of the worship of Crishna [44] a subject of opposition by certain Brahmans as late as the tenth century. The great epic poem concerning him, the Gitagovinda, by Gajadeva (still sung at the present day at the Resa festival), was not written till the end of the 12th century [45]. In an inscription at Gajanagara, not very far from Madura, Crishna is mentioned as an incarnation of Vishnu, but the date of this is 1288; and the idea does not seem to have reached Orissa till the end of the 15th century [46].

(2) From this exordium we must plainly gather that the original collector of these Tales was himself a Madhjamika, since he begins his work with an invocation of Nâgârg′una, founder of that school. He calls him “second teacher” because his undertaking was, not to supersede, but to develope and perfect the teaching of Shâkjamuni, whom he himself reverenced as first teacher [47].

Nâgârg′una was the 15th Patriarch in the Buddhist succession, born in South India, and educated a Brahman; he wrote a Treatise, in 100 chapters, on the Wisdom of the Buddhist Theology, and died B.C. 212 (Lassen, “Indische Alterthumskunde,” ii., Appendix, p. vi.); but at p. 887 of the same volume, and again at p. 1072, he tells us he lived in the reign of Abhimanju, king of Cashmere, and that it was by the assistance of his sage advice that the Buddhists were enabled for a while successfully to withstand opposition dictated by the Brahmanical proclivities of this king, whose date he fixes at 45–65 A.C. The difference between the two dates arises out of that existing between the computations of the northern and southern Buddhists [48]. In the Raga-Tarangini, ii. v. 172–177 (a chronicle of Cashmere, written not later than A.D. 1148) Nâgârg′una is thus alluded to: “When 150 years had passed by, since sacred Shâkjamuni had completed his time in this world of sufferers, there was a Bodhisattva [49], who was supreme head of all the earth. This was Nâgârg′una, who possessed in himself the power of six Archats [50].... Protected by Nâgârg′una the Buddhists obtained the chief influence in the country.”

Among the Chinese Buddhists he is called Lung-shu, which name Abel Rémusat tells us was given him because after death he was taken up into the serpent-Paradise [51].

The following legend has been told concerning the manner of his conversion from Brahmanism; but it is probable that what is historically true in it belongs to the life of another and much later Buddhist patriarch.

A Samanaer [52] came wandering by his residence. Seeing it to be nobly built, and pleasantly situated amid trees and fountains, and provided with all that was needful and desirable for the life of man, made up his mind to obtain admission to it. Nâgârg′una, before admitting him, required to know whence, and what manner of man he was. On his declaring himself a teacher of Buddhism the door was immediately closed against him. Determined not to be so easily repulsed the Samanaer knocked again and again, till Nâgârg′una, provoked by his pertinacity, appeared on the terrace above, and cried out to him, “It is useless for you to go on knocking. In this house is nothing.”

“Nothing!” retorted the Samanaer; “what sort of a thing is that, pray?”

Nâgârg′una saw by this answer the man must be of a philosophical turn of mind, and was thus induced to break his rule, which forbid him intercourse with Buddhists, and let him in that he might have more discourse with him. The Samanaer by degrees fascinated his mind with the whole Buddhist doctrine, and ultimately told him that Buddha had left a prophecy, saying, that long years after he had departed this life there should arise a great teacher out of Southern India, who by the wisdom of his teaching should renew the face of the earth; that this prophecy he was destined to accomplish. Nâgârg′una believed his words, and subsequently fulfilled them.

His peculiar school received the name of Mâdhjamika, because of three prevailing interpretations of the earlier Buddhist teaching he chose the one which steered its course midway (madhjana) between two extremes, one of which held that the Buddhist nirvâna, implied the return and absorption of the soul at death into the creative essence whence it had emanated; and the other, its total annihilation.

He left his ideas to posterity in a treatise, bearing the name of Kârikâ, denoting an exposition of a theory in verse [53]. Some idea of its intricacy may be formed from the fact that the shortest edition of it contains eight thousand sections; while the most complete has a hundred thousand. His teaching was followed up by two chief disciples, Ârjadeva, a Cingalese, and Buddhapâlita, and still holds sway in the higher schools of Tibet, which accounts for the homage of the editor of these Mongolian tales. He is honoured almost everywhere where Buddhism is honoured; near Gajâ is a kaitja, or rock-cut temple, called Nâgârgunî, probably commemorating some visit of his to the shrine of Shâkjamuni.

(3) The whole of Buddhist literature is spoken of by its followers as contained in three “vessels,” or “baskets”—tripîtaka (Wassiljew, p. 118, quoted by Jülg); in Tibetian called samatog (Köppen, Die Lamaische Hierarchie, p. 57).

(4) Madhjamika. See above, Note 2.

(5) Paramârtha (true, exact, perfect understanding), and sanvrti (imperfect, dubious understanding), were party words, arising out of the philosophical disputes of the Madhjamika and Jogâtschârja schools. Wassiljew, pp. 321–367.

(6) Magadha. The legend is in this instance more precise than often falls to the lot of works of this nature. Instead of transferring the scene of action to a locality within the limits of the country of the narrator however, he makes Nâgârg′una to have lived on the borders of Magadha [54]. Lassen, speaking in allusion to the kaitja named after him, mentioned above, says there is no allusion in any authentic account of him to his ever being in this part of the country; this Mongolian tradition however corroborates the local tradition of the kaitja. I have already had occasion to mention how Magadha came to receive its modern name of Behar [55].

The word Magadha is also used to designate a bard; as this meaning rests on no etymological foundation, it is natural to suppose that it arises from the fact of the country being rich in sagas, and that successful bards sprang from its people. The office of the Magadha, also called Vandin, the Speaker of praises, consisted chiefly in singing before the king the deeds of his ancestors. In several places the Magadha is named along with the Sûta [56]. It is quite in accordance with this view that Vjâsa’s [57] mother was reckoned a daughter of a king of Magadha.

It is curious that the poetical occupation of bard came to be combined with the sordid occupation of pedlar, or travelling trader, who is also called a Magadha in Manu x. 47, and other places.

(7) Krijâvidja. Writings concerning the study of magic.—Jülg.

(8) Bede = Bhota, or Bothanga, the Indian name of Tibet. See Schmidt’s translation of the “History of the Mongols,” by the native historian, sSanang sSetsen.

Before proceeding farther it is necessary to say a few words concerning the history, religions, and customs of Tibet and Mongolia, to illustrate the local colouring the following Tales have received by passing into Mongolia.

Buddhism nowhere took so firm a grasp of the popular mind as in Tibet, where it was established as early as the 7th century by its greatest king, Ssrong-Tsan-Gampo. No where, except in China, was its influence on literature so powerful and so useful, for not only have we thus preserved to us very early translations from the Sanskrit of most of the sacred writings, but also original treatises of history, geography, and philosophy. Nowhere, either, did it possess so many colleges and teachers; it was by means of these that it was spread over Mongolia in the 13th century; the very indistinct notions of religion there prevailing previously, with no hierarchy to maintain them, readily yielding at its approach. Mang-ku, grandson of Ginghis Khan [58], added to the immense sovereignty his warlike ancestor had left him, the whole of Tibet about the year 1248. His brother and successor, Kublai Khan, who reigned from 1259 to 1290, occupied himself with the internal development of his empire. He appears to have regarded Christ, Moses, Muhammed, and Buddha as prophets of equal authority, and to have finally adopted the religion of the last-named, because he discerned the advantages to be derived in the consolidation of his power from the assistance of the Buddhist priests already possessing so great influence in Tibet. He was seconded in his design by the eager assistance of a young Lama, named sSkja Pandita, and surnamed Matidhvaga = “the ensign of penetration,” whom he not only set over the whole priesthood of the Mongolian empire, but made him also tributary ruler of Tibet, with the grandiloquent titles of “King of the great and precious teaching; the most excellent Lama; King of teaching in the three countries of the Rhaghân (empire).” Among other rich insignia of his dignity which he conferred on him was a precious jasper seal. He is most commonly mentioned by the appellation, Phagss-pa = “the most excellent,” which has hence often been taken erroneously for his name; his chief office was the coronation of the Emperor. The title, Dalai Lama [59], the head of Tibetian Buddhism, is half Mongolian, and half Tibetian. Dalai is Mongolian for “ocean,” and Lama Tibetian for “priest;” making, “a priest whose rule is vast as the ocean.”

Of the four Khânats or kingdoms into which the Mongolian Empire was divided, that called Juan bordered on Tibet, and to its Khâns consequently was committed the government of that country; but they interfered very little with it, so that the power of the people was left to strengthen itself. The last of them, Shan-ti, or Tokatmar-Khân, was turned out in 1368 by Hong-vu, the founder of the Ming dynasty, who sought to extend his power by weakening that of the Lamas. In order to this he set up four chief ones in place of one. Jong-lo who reigned from 1403 to 1425, further divided the power among eight; but this very subdivision tended to a return to the original supremacy of one; for, while all bore the similar title of Vang = “little king,” or “sub-king,” it became gradually necessary that among so many one should take the lead, and for this one the title of Garma or patriarch was coined ere long.

The Tibetians and Mongolians receiving thus late the doctrines of Shâkjamuni received a version of it very different from his original teaching. The meditations and mystifications of his followers had invested him with ever new prerogatives, and step by step he had come to be considered no longer in the light of an extraordinary teacher, or even a heaven-sent founder of religion, but as himself the essence of truth and the object of supreme adoration. Out of this theory again ramified developments so complicated as almost to defy condensation. Thus Addi-Buddha, as he was now called, it was taught was possessed of five kinds of gnâna or knowledge; and by five operations of his dhjâna or contemplative power he was supposed to have produced five Dhjâni-Buddhas, each of which received a special name, and in process of time became personified and deified too, and each by virtue of an emanation of the supreme power indwelling him had brought forth a Dhjâni-Bodhisattva. The fourth of these, distinguished as Dhjâni-Bodhisattva-Padmapâni, was the Creator, not only of the universe, but also of Brahma and other gods whom Shâkjamuni or his earlier followers had acknowledged as more or less supreme. And as if this strange theogony was not perplexing enough, there had come to be added to the cycle of objects of worship a multitude of other deifications too numerous even to name here in detail.

Among all these, Dhjâni-Bodhisattva-Padmapâni is reckoned the chief god by the Mongolians. The principal tribute of worship paid him is the endless repetition of the ejaculation, “Om Manipadmi hum” = “Hail Manipadmi O!” Every one has heard of the prayer-machine, the revolutions of whose wheel set going by the worshipper count as so many exclamations to his account. “The instrument is called Tchu-Kor (turning prayer),” writes Abbé Huc. “You see a number of them in every brook” (in the neighbourhood of a Lamaseri) “turned by the current.... The Tartars suspend them also over the fireplace to send up prayer for the peace and prosperity of the household;” he mentions also many most curious incidents in connexion with this practice. Another similar institution is printing the formulary an immense number of times on numbers of sheets of paper, and fixing them in a barrel similarly turned by running water. Baron Schilling de Kanstadt has given us (in “Bulletin Hist. Phil. de l’Ac. des Sciences de S. Petersburg,” iv. No. 22) an interesting account of the bargain he struck with certain Mongolian priests at Kiakhtu, on the Russo-Chinese frontier. It was their great aim to multiply this ejaculation a hundred million times, a feat they had never been able to accomplish. They showed him a sheet which was the utmost reach of their efforts, but the sum total of which was only 250. The Baron sent to St. Petersburg and had a sheet printed, in which the words were repeated seventy times one way and forty-one times the other, giving 2870 times, but being printed in red they counted for 25 times as many, or 71,750; then he had twenty-four such sheets rolled together, making 1,793,750, so that about seventy revolutions of the barrel would give the required number. In return for this help the Mongolian Lama gave him a complete collection of the sacred writings in the Tibetian language; Tibetian being the educated, or at least the sacred, language of Mongolia.

Concerning the meaning of this ejaculation, Abbé Huc has the following:—“According to the opinion of the celebrated Orientalist Klaproth, the ‘Om mani padme houm’ is merely the Tibetian transcription of a Sanskrit formula brought from India to Tibet with the introduction of Buddhism and letters.... This formula has in the Sanskrit a distinct and complete meaning which cannot be traced in the Tibetian idiom. Om is among the Hindoos, the mystic name of the Divinity, and all their prayers begin with it. It is composed of A, standing for Vishnu, O, for Siva, and M, for Brahma. This mystic particle is also equivalent to the interjection O! It expresses a profound religious conviction, and is a sort of act of faith; mani signifies a gem, a precious thing; padma, the lotus, padme, vocative case. Lastly, houm is a particle expressing a wish, and is equivalent to the use of the word Amen. The literal sense then of this phrase is

Om mani padme houm.”
O the gem in the lotus. Amen.

In the Ramajana, where Vasichta destroys the sons of Visvamitra [60] he is said to do so by his hungkara, his breathing forth of his desire of vengeance, but literally by his breathing the interjection ‘hum.’

“The Buddhists of Tibet and Mongolia, however, have tortured their imagination to find a mystic interpretation of each of these six syllables. They say the doctrine contained in them is so immense that a life is insufficient to measure it. Among other things, they say the six classes of living beings [61] correspond to these six syllables.... By continual transmigrations according to merit, living beings pass through these six classes till they have attained the height of perfection, absorbed into the essence of Buddha.... Those who repeat the formula very frequently escape passing after death into these six classes.... The gem being the emblem of perfection, and the lotus of Buddha, it may perhaps be considered that these words express desire to acquire perfection in order to be united with Buddha—absorbed in the one universal soul: “Oh, the gem of the lotus, Amen,” might then be paraphrased thus:—“O may I obtain perfection, and be absorbed in Buddha, Amen!” making it a summary of a vast system of Pantheism.

Buddhism, however, received its greatest and most remarkable modification in this part of the world from the teaching of an extraordinary Lama, named bThong-kha-pa, who rose to eminence in the reign of Jong-lo, and is regarded with greatest veneration among not only the Tibetians and Mongolians, including the remotest tribes of the Khalmouks, but also by the more polished Chinese, and more or less wherever Buddhism prevails.

Though subsequently pronounced to be an incarnation of Shiva he was born in the year 1357, in the Lamaseri of ssKu-bun = “a hundred thousand images,” on the Kuku-noor, or Blue Lake, in the south-west part of the Amdo country, several days’ journey from the city of Sining-fu. In his youth he travelled to gTsang-lschhn, or Lhassa, in order to gain the most perfect knowledge of Buddhist teaching, and during his studies there determined on effecting various reforms in the prevailing ideas. He met with many partisans, who adopted a yellow cap as their badge, in contradistinction from the red cap heretofore worn, and styled themselves the dGe-luges-pa = “the Virtuous.” Besides introducing a stricter discipline his chief development of the Buddhist doctrines consisted in teaching distinctly that Buddha was possessed of a threefold nature, which was to be recognized, the first in his laws, the second in his perfections, the third in his incarnations.

The supreme rule of the Buddhist religion in Tibet also received its present form under the impulse of his labours. His nephew, dGe-dun-grub-pa (born circa 1390, died 1475), was the first Dalai Lama. He built the celebrated Lama Palace of bKra-schiss-Lhun-po, thirty miles N. of Lhassa, in 1445. Under him, too, was established the institution of the Pan-tschhen-Rin-po-tsche (the great venerable jewel of teaching), or Contemplative Lama. Tsching-Hva, the eighth Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, established their joint authority as superior to all the eight princely Lamas set up by Jo-long [62].

Abbé Huc, in the course of his enterprising missionary travels, visited all the places I have had occasion to mention, spending a considerable time at some of them. By local traditions, collected by word of mouth and from Lamaistic records, he gives us a most fantastic and entertaining narrative of Tsong-Kaba, as he calls the Buddhist reformer: of the fables concerning his birth; of the marvellous tree that grew from his hair when his mother cut it; of his mature intelligence in his tenderest years; his supernatural call to Lha-sa (Land of Spirits); and of the very peculiar mode of argument by which he converted Buddha Chakdja, the Lama of the Red Cap. More important than all this, however, is the light he throws on the mode in which the great incorporation of Christian ideas and ceremonial into Buddhist teaching came about. During his years of retirement Tsong-Kaba became acquainted with a mysterious teacher “from the far West,” almost beyond question “one of those Catholic missionaries who at this precise period penetrated in such numbers into Upper Asia.” The very description preserved of his face and person is that of a European. This strange teacher died, we know not by what means, while Tsong-kaba was yet in the desert; and he appears to have accepted as much of his doctrine as either he had only time to learn or as suited his purpose, and this in the main had reference “to the introduction of a new Liturgy. The feeble opposition which he encountered in his reformation would seem to indicate that already the progress of Christian ideas in these countries had materially shaken the faith in Buddha.... The tribe of Amdo, previously altogether obscure, has since this reformation acquired a prodigious celebrity.... The mountain at the foot of which Tsong-Kaba was born became a famous place of pilgrimage; Lamas assembled there from all parts to build their cells [63]; and thus by degrees was formed that flourishing Lamasery, the fame of which extends to the remotest confines of Tartary. It is called Komboun, from two Tibetian words, signifying ten thousand images. He died at the Lamasery of Khaldan (’celestial beatitude’), situated on the top of a mountain about four leagues east of Lha-Ssa, said to have been founded by him in 1409. The Tibetians pretend that they still see his marvellous body there fresh and incorruptible, sometimes speaking, and by a permanent prodigy always holding itself in the air without any support.

“Mongolia is at present divided into several sovereignties, whose chiefs are subject to the Emperor of China, himself a Tartar, but of the Mantchu race. These chiefs bear titles corresponding to those of kings, dukes, earls, barons, &c. They govern their states according to their own pleasure. They acknowledge as sovereign only the Emperor of China. Whenever any difference arises between them they appeal to Pekin and submit to its decisions implicitly. Though the Mongol sovereigns consider it their duty to prostrate themselves once a year before the ‘Sun of Heaven,’ they nevertheless do not concede to him the right of dethroning their reigning families. He may, they say, cashier a king for gross misconduct, but he is bound to fill up the vacant place with one of the superseded prince’s sons.... Nothing can be more vague and indefinite than these relations.... In practice the will of the Emperor is never disputed.... All families related to any reigning family form a patrician caste and are proprietors of the soil.... They are called Taitsi, and are distinguished by a blue button surmounting their cap. It is from these that the sovereigns of the different states select their ministers, who are distinguished by a red button.... In the country of the Khalkhas, to the north of the desert of Gobi, there is a district entirely occupied by Taitsi, said to be descendants of Tchen-kis-Khan.... They live in the greatest independence, recognizing no sovereign. Their wealth consists in tents and cattle. Of all the Mongolian regions it is this district in which are to be found most accurately preserved patriarchal manners, just as the Bible describes them, though every where also more or less prevailing.... The Tartars who are not Taitsi are slaves, bound to keep their master’s herds, but not forbidden to herd cattle of their own. The noble families differ little from the slave families ... both live in tents and both occupy themselves with pasturing their flocks. When the slave enters the master’s tent he never fails to offer him tea and milk; they smoke together and exchange pipes. Round the tents young slaves and young noblemen romp and wrestle together without distinction. We met with many slaves who were richer than their masters.... Lamas born of slave families become free in some degree as soon as they enter the sacerdotal life; they are no longer liable to enforced labour, and can travel without interference.” He further describes the Mongols in general as a hardy, laborious, peace-loving people, usually simple and upright in their dealings, devout and punctual in such religious faith and observances as they have been taught, caring, however, little for mental studies, occupied only with their flocks and herds, and continually overreached by the Chinese in all their dealings with them.

(9) Cîtavana, a burying-place.—Jülg.

(10) Siddhî-kür, a dead body endowed with supernatural or magic powers (Siddhi, Sanskr., perfection of power).

(11) Mango-tree, Mangifera indica. Lassen (Indische Alterthumskunde, i. 276) calls it “the Indians’ favourite tree; their household companion; rejoicing their existence; the cool and cheerful shade of whose groves embowers their villages, surrounds their fountains and pools with freshness, and affords delicious coolness to the Karavan-halt: one of the mightiest of their kings (Ashôka, 246 B.C.) makes it his boast (in an Inscription given in “Journal of Asiatic Soc. of Bengal,” vi. 595) that besides the wide-spreading shade of the fig-tree he had also planted the leafy mango.” In Sanskrit, âmra, kûta, rasâla (rich in juice). Crawford (Ind. Arch. i. 424) says the fruit is called in Sanskrit mahâphala, “the great fruit,” whence the Telingu word Mahampala and the Malay Mamplans and Manga, whence the European Mango. It grows more or less all over India from Ceylon to the Himâlajas, except perhaps in the arid north-east highland of the Dekhan, but it reaches its most luxuriant development in Malabar and over the whole west coast. Besides its luxuriant shade its blossoms bear the most delicious scent, and its glorious gold-coloured fruit often attains a pound in weight, though its quality is much acted upon by site and climate. In Malabar it ripens in April; in Bengal, in May; in Bhotan, not till August. There are also many kinds—some affording nourishment to the poorest, and some appearing only on the tables of the opulent. Bp. Heber (“Journey,” i. 522) pronounces it the largest of all fruit-bearing trees. To the high regard in which this tree was held it is to be ascribed that the story makes the Siddhî-kür prefer giving himself up to the Khan rather than let it be felled.

(12) Gambudvîpa, native name for India. See infra, Note 6, Tale XXII., and Note 6 to “Vikramâditja’s Birth.”

(13) Only magic words of no meaning.

(14) The “white moon,” designated the moon in the waxing quarter; meaning that the axe had the form of a sickle.—Jülg.


[1] Lassen, Indische Alterthumskunde, ii. 67, 68.

[2] Mahavansha, ii. v. 11.

[3] Now called Gaya, still an important town in the province of Behar. Vihara, whence Behar (for B and V are allied sounds in Sanskrit), is the Buddhist word for a college of priests, and the substitution of Behar for Magadha, the more ancient name of the province, points to a time when Buddhism flourished there and had many such colleges (see Wilson in Journal of As. Soc. v. p. 124).

[4] Benares.

[5] Burnouf, Introd. à l’Hist. du Buddhisme, i. 157.

[6] In the far east of India and in Ceylon, where it is not indigenous, we have historical evidence that it was introduced by the Buddhists; also in Java. Lassen, Indische Alterthumskunde, i. 257; also p. 260, note 1, where he gives the following comparative descriptions of the two species, though he also points out that in ancient descriptions the characteristics of the two trees are often confused. The ficus indica or banian (it received the name of banyan from the Indian merchants, Banjans, by whose means it was propagated), is called in Bengal Njagrôdha and Vata (the Dutch call it “the devil’s tree”). The ficus religiosa is called ashvattha, and pippala. They plant the one by the side of the other with marriage ceremonies in the belief that otherwise the banian would not complete its peculiar mode of growth. Hence arises a most pleasing contrast between the elegant lightness of the shining foliage of the ficus religiosa and the solemn grandeur of the ficus indica with its picturesque trunks, its abundant leafage, its spangling of golden fruits, its pendulous roots, enabling it to reproduce itself after the fashion of a temple with countless aisles. It affords cool salubrious shade, a single one forming in time a forest to itself, and sufficing to house thousands of persons. The leaves of both supply excellent food for elephants, and birds and monkeys delight in its fruit, which, however, is not edible by man, nor is its wood of much use as timber. The pippala does not grow to nearly so great a size as the other, never attaining so many stems, but nothing can be more graceful than its appearance when, overgrowing from a building or another tree; its leaves tremble like those of the aspen (Lassen, i. 255–261, and notes). Under its overarching shade altars were erected and sacrifice offered up. To injure it wilfully was counted a sin (an instance is mentioned in Bp. Heber’s “Journey,” i. 621). A most prodigious Boddhi-tree, or rather five such growing together, still exists in Ceylon, which tradition says was transplanted thither with most extraordinary pomp and ceremonies at the time of the introduction of Buddhism into the island. They grow upon the fourth terrace of an edifice built up of successive rows of terraces, forming the most sacred spot in the whole island. Upon the above supposition this Boddhi-grove would be something like 2000 years old. Several very curious legends concerning it are given in a paper called “Remarks on the Ancient City of Anarâjapura,” by Captain Chapman, in Trans. of R. As. of Gr. Br. i. and iii. The Brahmans honoured it as well as the Buddhists, and made it a parable of the universe, its stem typifying the connexion of the visible world with a divine invisible spirit, and the up and-down growth of the branches and roots the restless striving of all creatures after an unattainable perfection; but it was the Buddhists for whom it became in the first instance actually sacred by reason of the conviction said to have been received by Shâkjamuni while observing its growth (reminding forcibly of the tradition about Sir I. Newton and the apple), that the perpetual struggles of this changeful life could only find ultimate satisfaction in that reunion with the source whence they emanated, which he termed Nirvâna.

[7] Burnouf, i. 295.

[8] Burnouf, p. 194.

[9] Nirvâna means literally in Sanskrit “the breathing out,” “extinction”—extinction of the flame of life, eternal happiness, united with the Deity. Böhtlingk and Roth’s Sanskrit Dictionary, iv. 208. In Buddhist writings, however, it is difficult to make out any idea of it distinct from annihilation. Consult Schmidt’s Trans. of sSanang sSetzen, pp. 307–331; Schott. Buddhaismus, p. 10 and 127; Köppen, i. 304–309. “Existence in the eye of Buddhism is nothing but misery.... Nothing remained to be devised as deliverance from this evil but the destruction of existence. This is what Buddhists call Nirwana.” (Alwis’ Lectures on Buddhism, p. 29.)

[10] Concerning the locality of the Malla people, see Lassen, Indische Alterthumskunde, i. 549.

[11] This word is a favourite with Buddhist writers, and means literally “him of the rolling wheel,” primarily used to denote a conqueror riding on his chariot. See Lassen, Indische Alterthumskunde, i. 810, n. 2.

[12] Lassen, ii. 52, n. 1, and 74, n. 6; and i. 356, n. 1.

[13] Professor Wilson seems to have been so much perplexed by these divergencies of chronology, that in a paper by him, published in Journ. of R. As. Soc. vol. xvi. art. 13, he endeavours to show on this (and also on other grounds) that it is possible no such person ever existed at all!

[14] See Burnouf, p. 348, n. 3; see also infra, n. 3 to “The False Friend;” also note 2 to “Vikramâditja’s Birth.”

[15] Supra, Notice of Vikramâditja, pp. 238, 239.

[16] “Only about a hundred years elapsed between the visit of Fa-Hian to India and that of Soung-yun, and in the interval the absurd traditions respecting Sâkya-Muni’s life and actions would appear to have been infinitely multiplied, enlarged, and distorted.” (Lieut.-Col. Sykes’ Notes on the Religious, Moral, and Political State of Ancient India, in Journ. of R. As. Soc. No. xii. p. 280.)

[17] Turnour, in Journ. of As. Soc. of Bengal, 722.

[18] Lassen, ii. 440.

[19] Lassen, ii. 453, 454.

[20] Burnouf, Introd. a l’Hist. du Buddh. i. 137.

[21] Burnouf, Introd. &c. i. 131 et seq.

[22] “There is no reference even in the earlier Vêda to the Trimurti: to Donga, Kali, or Rama.” (Wilson, Rig-Vêda Sanhîta.)

[23] Burnouf, i. 90, 108.

[24] Lassen, ii. 426, 454, 455 and other places.

[25] “No hostile feeling against the Brahmans finds utterance in the Buddhist Canon.” (Max Müller, Anc. Sanskr. Literature.)

[26] Lassen, iv. 644, 710.

[27] Lassen, ii. 440.

[28]  Lassen, iv. 646–709.

[29] As. Rec. i. 285.

[30] Genesis iii. 15.

[31] Rig-Vêda, bk. x. ch. xi.

[32] Burnouf, Introd. i. 618.

[33] See infra, Note 8 of this “Dedication;” on the word “Bede,” p. 346.

[34] Verità della Religione Cristiana-Cattolica sistematicamente dimostrata, da Monsignor Francesco Nardi U. di S. Rota. Roma, 1868.

[35] Lassen, ii. 1107.

[36] Lassen, i. 488.

[37] A great number of early authorities are quoted in Butler’s “Lives,” vol. xii., pp. 329–334. The subject has also been handled by Gieseler, Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte; Wilson’s “Sketch of the Religious Sects of the Hindus;” Swainson’s “Memoir of the Syrian Christians;” most ably by A. Weber, and by many others.

[38] In note 2 of p. 182, vol. iv., Lassen quotes several authors on the meaning of the word and its identity with the triratna, as Wilson calls the Buddhist Trinity of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. See also infra, n. 1, Tale XVII.

[39] At the same time it presents also, of course, many frightful divergencies, and of these it may suffice to mention that the number of wives ascribed to Crishna is not less than 16,000. Lassen, vol. i. Appendix p. xxix.

[40] Indische Studien, i. 400–421, and ii. 168.

[41] The very earliest, however, do not go very far back; he was never heard of at all till within 200 B.C., and seems then to have been set up by certain Brahmans to attract popular worship, and to counteract the at that period rapidly-spreading influence of the Buddhists. See Lassen, i. 831—839. See also note 1, p. 335, supra.

[42] Lassen, iv. 575.

[43] Lassen, p. 576.

[44] “On trouvera plus tard que l’extension considérable qu’a prise le culte du Krishna n’a été qu’une réaction populaire contre celui du Buddha; réaction qui a été dirigée, ou pleinement acceptée par les Brahmanes.” Burnouf, Introd. i. p. 136, n. 1.

[45] Lassen, iv. 815–817.

[46] Lassen, iv. 576.

[47] The best account of his life and teaching is given by S. Wassiljew, of St. Petersburg, “Der Buddhismus; aus dem Russischen übersetzt,” to which I have not had access.

[48] See supra, p. 332.

[49] See infra, Note 1, Tale XI.

[50] See supra, p. 330.

[51] Concerning Serpent-worship see infra, Note 1, Tale II.

[52] Travelling Buddhist teacher. Lassen.

[53] Burnouf, Introduction à l’Histoire du Buddhisme, ii. 359.

[54] “Southward in Bede.” See Note 8.

[55] Spence Hardy, “Legends and Theories of the Buddhists,” p. 243, when mentioning this circumstance, makes the strange mistake of confounding Behar with Berar.

[56] See Note 4, “Vikramâditja’s Throne discovered.”

[57] See supra, p. 241.

[58] According to Abbé Huc’s spelling, Tchen-kis Khan.

[59] According to Abbé Huc’s spelling, Talē Lama.

[60] See the story in Note 8 to “Vikramâditja’s Youth.”

[61] See Note 4 to “Vikramâditja’s Throne discovered.”

[62] Consult C. F. Köppen, Die Lamaische Hierarchie.

[63] According to Huc’s version of his history he was not born in a Lamasery, but in the hut of a herdsman of Eastern Tibet, in the county of Amdo, south of the Kouku-Noor.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Saga of the Well-and-Wise-Walking Khan [With Dedication]
Tale Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Book Title: Sagas from the Far East; or, Kalmouk and Mongolian Traditionary Tales
Book Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Publisher: Griffith and Farran
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1873
Country of Origin: Mongolia & Russia
Classification: unclassified

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