We cannot conclude the accounts concerning Açvaghosha without mentioning an anecdote from a Chinese source. 2 The Çraddhotpâdaçâstra (The Awakening
of Faith,) proves he was a philosopher of a high grade; the Buddhacaritakâvya (The life of Buddha) and the Mahâlamkâraçâstra (The Book of Great Glory) reveal his poetical genius; and the following story indicates that he was a musician: 1
He [Açvaghosha] then went to Pâtaliputra for his propaganda-tour, where he composed an excellent tune called Lai cha huo lo ( Râstavara?), that he might by this means convert the people of the city. Its melody was classical, mournful, and melodious, inducing the audience to ponder on the misery, emptiness, and non-âtman-ness of life. That is to say, the music roused in the mind of the hearer the thought that all aggregates are visionary and subject to transformation; that the triple world is a jail and a bondage, with nothing enjoyable in it; that since royalty, nobility, and the exercise of supreme power, are all characterised with transitoriness, nothing can prevent their decline, which will be as sure as the dispersion of the clouds in the sky; that this corporeal existence is a sham, is as hollow as a plantain tree, is an enemy, a foe, one not to be intimately related with; and again that like a box in which a cobra is kept, it should
never be cherished by anybody; that therefore all Buddhas denounce persons clinging to a corporeal existence. Thus explaining in detail the doctrine of the non-âtman and the çûnyatâ, Açvaghosha had the melody played by musicians, who, however, not being able to grasp the significance of the piece, failed to produce the intended tune and harmony. He then donned a white woolen dress, joined the band of musicians, beating the drum, ringing the bell, and tuning the lyre, and this done, the melody in full perfection gave a note at once mournful and soothing, so as to arouse in the mind of the audience the idea of the misery, emptiness, and non-âtman-ness of all things. The five hundred royal princes in the city thus moved all at once were fully awakened, and abhorring the curse of the five evil passions abandoned their worldly life and took refuge in the Bodhi. The king of Pâtaliputra was very much terrified by the event, thinking that if the people who listen to this music would abandon their homes [like the princes], his country would be depopulated and his royal business ruined. So he warned the people never to play this music hereafter.
34:2 The Transmission of the Dharmapitaka (Fu fa tsang chuan, fas. 5).
35:1 The fact agrees well with Târanâtha's statement which in its German translation reads as follows: "Die von ihm verfassten Loblieder sind auch in allen Ländern verbreitet; da zuletzt Sänger und Possenreisser dieselben vortrugen und bei allen Menschen des Landes mit Macht Glauben an den Buddha entstand, erwuchs durch die Loblieder grösserer Nutzen zur Verbreitung der Lehre. Geschichte des Buddhismus, German translation, p. 91.