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SCARCELY had Sâkyamuni begun to teach his new religion in India, when he obtained a great many followers. His system had an extraordinary success both on account of its simplicity and of the abolition of castes; the Buddha admits to the blessings of which he is the dispenser the highest classes of man (Brahmans) as well as the lowest. Already at his death the number of Buddhists seems to have been very considerable; and about the middle of the third century B.C., during the reign of Asoka, Buddhism began to spread all over India. It then continued to flourish for eight hundred years (till the fifth century of our era), when a series of violent persecutions was commenced (instituted by Brahmanical sectaries, particularly by the adherents to the

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worship of Siva) which almost caused the extirpation of Buddhism. Hiuen Thsang, a Chinese pilgrim who had passed much of his life in India during extensive travels between the years 629 and 645 A.D., mentions numerous Buddhist temples, monasteries, and monuments, which in his time were already deserted, and even fallen into ruins--buildings which, two centuries before, Fa Hian, another Chinese traveller, had found in the most prosperous condition. Nevertheless, in many parts of India, Buddhists were still in existence, and in Benáres, now again a centre of Brahmanism, they are reported to have been the prevalent sect until the eleventh century, and in the northern parts of Gujrát even as late as, the twelth {sic}. After that period, Buddhism ceased to exist in India, by reason of a combination of circumstances, amongst which the jealousy of the various schools and the invasion of the Mussalmáns are to be mentioned as perhaps the most important.[1]

As present the area of Buddhism includes vast territories, from Ceylon and the Indian Archipelago in the south to the Baikal Lake in Central Asia, and from the Caucasus eastward to Japan; and the number of its adherents may be considered as being at least equal to, if it does not exceed, that of the followers of the Christian religion, as will be seen from the following data.[2]

[1. Compare Mountstuart Elphinstone's "History of India," Vol. I., p. 212. Lassen, "Ind. Alterthumskunde," Vol. IV., p. 707.

2. Prof. Neumann of Munich has computed the number of Buddhists in China, Tibet, the Indo-Chinese countries, and Tartary at 369 millions. Ungewitter, "Neueste Erdbeschreibung," Vol. I., p. 51, estimates the total of {footnote p. 11} Buddhists at 325 millions. Colonel Sykes, whose accuracy in every branch of science, especially, however, in statistics, is so well known, also considers it certain that the Buddhists out-number the followers of any other creed: see his essay "On Indian Characters." London 1859.]

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The late Professor Dieterici, in his well-known compilation of the census of the globe,[1] estimates the population of China at four hundred millions, of Japan at thirty-five; and for the Indo-Chinese Peninsula he gives fifteen millions as the number of inhabitants in the independent territories. The data for the Indian dependencies in the peninsula are of great variety. Thornton's "Gazeteer" gives for Arrakán, Pégu, and Tenásserim a population of about one million; but in a note contained in Allens Indian Mail, 1861, the inhabitants of Pégu alone are calculated to amount to one million. An average of two millions for these three provinces is, perhaps, most in accordance with their area when compared with the remainder of the peninsula.[3] The inhabitants of the Indo-Chinese Archipelago are set down by Dieterici at eighty millions, of which twenty belong to the Dutch and Spanish possessions. The population of Ceylon, which is all Buddhist, exceeds, according to McCarthey, two millions.[3] In India Proper there are scarcely any Buddhists at all.

For these regions of Asia we obtain, therefore, according

[1. "Die Bevölkerung der Erde," in Petermann's "Geographische Mittheilungen," 1859, p. 1.

2. Thornton's "Gazeteer." Allen's Indian Mail, 1861, p. 802.

3. Report of the Proceedings of the fourth Session of the International Statistical Congress; London, 1861, p. 84. Compare Hardy, "Eastern Monachism," p. 310.]

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to these calculations an approximate total of 534 millions of inhabitants. At least two-thirds of this population may be considered to be Buddhists; the remainder includes the followers of Confucius and Lao-tse, the adherents of religions prevalent among the inhabitants of China Proper,[1] the Mussalmáns (numerous in Chinese Tartary), and the Pagan tribes of the Chinese peninsula and the Archipelago; the numbers of the latter are comparatively small, since in their districts the population is very thin. We may therefore estimate the total of Buddhists to amount to 340 millions.

The contribution to this number from other parts of the globe is comparatively small, but nevertheless it seems to amount to more than a million. The eastern provinces of the Russian Empire contain some 400,000 Buddhists, viz. 82,000 Kirghises and 119,162 Kalmuks inhabiting Europe,[2] and the Buriats (to the number of about 190,000 souls) living in Sibiria, these are almost all followers of Buddhism.[3] There are still to be added for the Himálaya and Western Tibet, independant of China, the inhabitants of Bhután, to the number of 145,200, the whole of them, according to Pemberton,

[1. For China, Gützlaff states the Buddhists to be "the most popular and numerous sect," adding "that their religious establishments may be estimated at two-thirds of the whole of the religious edifices throughout China." R. As. Soc., Vol. XVI., p. 89. Schott, "Buddhaismus," p. 23, was of the opinion (in 1844) that the Buddhists were the minority.

2. Notices taken from P. v. Köppen's memoir "Ueber die Anfertigung der ethnographischen Karte des europäischen Russlands." Bulletin hist.-phil. de l'Académie de St. Pétersbourg, Vol. IX., Table to face p. 336.

3. Latham, "Descriptive Ethnology," Vol. I., p. .306. The same was told me by Gombojew, a Buriat of Selenginsk.]

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belonging to the Buddhist faith.[1] The population of Síkkim, together with the Buddhist inhabitants of Nepál, which chiefly include those of Tibetan origin, I estimate at 500,000 to 550,000.' The Buddhist province of Spíti, under English protection, was found, according to the census made by Major Hay in the year 1849, to have a population of 1,607.[3] Ladák, now a province of the kingdom of Kashmir, is reported by Cunningham to be inhabited by 178,000 souls; the native population is exclusively Buddhist, but since the annexation to Kashmir some Hindu members of the administration and some Mussalmán merchants have settled there.

The total of this group would amount even to one million and a quarter.[4]

For the sake of comparison I add that Prof. Dieterici found the total number of Christians spread over

[1. Report on Bhután, p. 151. A recent estimate by Hughes, quoted by the Allgemeine Zeitung, Jan. 1862, gives 1,500,000 inhabitants, a number which appears to be somewhat too large.

2. Hughes estimates Nepál to contain 1,940,000 inhabitants, of which 500,000 Buddhists. This number will not appear too high, if we remember that the actual professed Buddhists in Nepál are divided into four sects, and that Buddhist doctrines have passed to a great extent into the primitive creed of the various tribes of Tibetan origin inhabiting this kingdom. See Hamilton, as quoted by Ritter. "Asien," Vol. III., pp. 120, 123, 125, 129; Hodgson, "Languages," &c.; As. Res., Vol. XVI., p. 435; the same on the Aborigines of the Sub-Himalayan in "Records of the Govt of Bengal," p. 129.

3. Report on the valley of Spíti, in Journ. As. Soc. Beng., Vol. XIX., p. 437.

4. Buddhism had also become known in Mexico by Chinese priests in the fifth century A.D., and had followers in that country until the thirteenth century; but the victorious Azteks, who took possession of Mexico in the beginning of that century, put an end to Buddhism. See Lassen, "Ind. Alterth.," Vol. IV., pp. 749 et seq.]

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the globe to be 335 millions, of which 170 millions are Roman Catholics, 89 millions Protestants, and 76 millions belong to the Greek church; their numerical strength appears therefore to be five millions less than the average estimate of Buddhists given above.

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Next: Chapter III. The Religious System of Sakyamuni