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Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 10: The Dhammapada and Sutta Nipata, by Max Müller and Max Fausböll, [1881], at

p. ix





   THE Dhammapada forms part of the Pâli Buddhist canon, though its exact place varies according to different authorities, and we have not as yet a sufficient number of complete MSS. of the Tipitaka to help us to decide the question[1].

   Those who divide that canon into three Pitakas or baskets, the Vinaya-pitaka, Sutta-pitaka, and Abhidhamma-pitaka, assign the Dhammapada to the Sutta-pitaka. That Pitaka consists of five Nikâyas: the Dîgha-nikâya, the Magghima-nikâya, the Samyutta-nikâya, the Anguttara-nikâya, and the Khuddaka-nikâya. The fifth, or Khuddaka-nikâya, comprehends the following works: 1. Khuddaka-pâtha; 2. DHAMMAPADA; 3. Udâna; 4. Itivuttaka; 5. Sutta-nipâta; 6. Vimânavatthu; 7. Petavatthu; 8. Theragâthâ; 9. Therîgâthâ; 10. Gâtaka; 11. Niddesa; 12. Patisambhidâ; 13. Apadâna; 14. Buddhavamsa; 15. Kariyâ-pitaka.

   According to another division[2], however, the whole Buddhist canon consists of five Nikâyas: the Dîgha-nikâya, the Magghima-nikâya, the Samyutta-nikâya, the Anguttara-nikâya, and the fifth, the Khuddaka-nikâya, which Khuddaka-nîkaya is then made to comprehend the whole of the Vinaya (discipline) and Abhidhamma (metaphysics), together with the fifteen books beginning with the Khuddaka-pâtha.

   The order of these fifteen books varies, and even, as it would seem, their number. The Dîghabhânaka school

[1. see Feer, Journal Asiatique, 1871, p. 263. There is now at least one complete MS. of the Tipitaka, the Phayre MS., at the India Office, and Professor Forchhammer has just published a most useful List of Pâli MSS. collected in Burma, the largest collection hitherto known.

2. See Childers, s. v. Nikâya, and extracts from Buddhaghosa's commentary on the Brahmagâla-sutta.]

p. x admits twelve books only, and assigns them all to the Abhidhamma, while the Magghimabhânakas admit fifteen books, and assign them to the Sutta-pitaka. The order of the fifteen books is: 1. Gâtaka [10]; 2. Mahâniddesa [11]; 3. Kullaniddesa [11]; 4. Patisambhidâmagga [12]; 5. Sutta-nipâta [5]; 6. DHAMMAPADA [2]; 7. Udâna [3]; 8. Itivuttaka [4]; 9. Vimânavatthu [6]; 10. Petavatthu [7]; 11. Theragâthâ [8]; 12. Therîgâthâ [9]; 13. Kariyâ-pitaka [15]; 14. Apadâna [13]; 15. Buddhavamsa [14][1].

   The Khuddaka-pâtha is left out in the second list, and the number is brought to fifteen by dividing Niddesa into Mahâ-niddesa and Kulla-niddesa.

   There is a commentary on the Dhammapada in Pâli, and supposed to be written by Buddhaghosa[2], in the first half of the fifth century A.D. In explaining the verses of the Dhammapada, the commentator gives for every or nearly every verse a parable to illustrate its meaning, which is likewise believed to have been uttered by Buddha in his intercourse with his disciples, or in preaching to the multitudes that came to hear him.



   The only means of fixing the date of the Dhammapada is trying to ascertain the date of the Buddhist canon of which it forms a part, or the date of Buddhaghosa, who wrote a commentary on it. This, however, is by no means easy, and the evidence on which we have to rely is such that we must not be surprised if those who are accustomed to test historical and chronological evidence

[1. The figures within brackets refer to the other list of books in the Khuddaka-nikiya. See also p. xxviii.

2. M. Léon Feer in the Journal Asiatique, 1871, p. 266, mentions another commentary of a more philosophical character, equally ascribed to Buddhaghosa. and having the title Vivara Bra Dhammapada, i.e. L'auguste Dhammapada dévoilé. Professor Forchhammer in his 'List of Manuscripts,' 1879-80, mentions the following works in connection with the Dhammapada: Dhammapada-Nissayo; Dh. P. Atthakathâ by Buddhaghosa; Dh. P. Atthakathâ Nissayo. 3 vols., containing a complete translation of the commentary; Dh. P. Vatthu. Of printed books he quotes: Kayanupassanakyam, a work based on the Garâvaggo, Mandalay, 1876 (390 pages), and Dhammapada-desanakyam, printed in 'British Burma News.']

p. xi in Greece and Rome, decline to be convinced by it. As a general rule, I quite agree that we cannot be too sceptical in assigning a date to ancient books, particularly if we intend to use them as documents for tracing the history of human thought. To the initiated, I mean to those who have themselves worked in the mines of ancient Oriental literature, such extreme scepticism may often seem unscientific and uncalled for. They are more or less aware of hundreds of arguments, each by itself, it may be, of small weight, but all combined proving irresistible. They are conscious, too, of having been constantly on the look out for danger, and, as all has gone on smoothly, they feel sure that, in the main, they are on the right road. Still it is always useful to be as incredulous as possible, particularly against oneself, and to have before our eyes critics who will not yield one inch beyond what they are forced to yield by the strongest pressure of facts.

   The age of our MSS. of the canonical books, either in Pâli or Sanskrit, is of no help to us. All Indian MSS. are comparatively modern, and one who has probably handled more Indian MSS. than anybody else, Mr. A. Burnell, has lately expressed his conviction that 'no MS. written one thousand years ago is now existent in India, and that it is almost impossible to find one written five hundred years ago, for most MSS. which claim to be of that date are merely copies of old MSS. the dates of which are repeated by the copyists[1].'

   Nor is the language, whether Sanskrit or Pâli, a safe guide for fixing dates. Both languages continue to be written to our own time, and though there are some characteristic marks to distinguish more modern from more ancient Buddhist Sanskrit and Pâli, this branch of critical scholarship requires to be cultivated far more extensively and accurately before true scholars would venture to fix the date of a Sanskrit or Pâli text on the strength of linguistic evidence alone[2].

[1. Indian Antiquary, 1880, p. 233.

2. See some important remarks on this subject in Fausböll's Introduction to Sutta-nipita, p. xi.]

p. xii

   The Buddhists themselves have no difficulty in assigning a date to their sacred canon. They are told in that canon itself that it was settled at the First Council, or immediately after the death of Buddha, and they believe that it was afterwards handed down by means of oral tradition, or actually written down in books by order of Kâsyapa, the president of the First Council[1]. Buddhaghosa, a learned and in some respects a critical scholar, living in the beginning of the fifth century A.D., asserts that the canon which he had before him, was the same as that fixed by the First Council[2].

   Several European students have adopted the same opinion, and, so far as I know, no argument has yet been advanced showing the impossibility of the native view, that some collection of Buddha's doctrines was made immediately after his death at Râgagaha, and that it was finally settled at what is called the Second Council, or the Council of Vesâlî. But what is not impossible is not therefore true, nor can anything be gained by appealing to later witnesses, such as, for instance, Hiouen Thsang, who travelled through India in the seventh century, and wrote down anything that he could learn, little concerned whether one statement tallied with the other or not[3]. He says that the Tipitaka was written down on palm leaves by Kâsyapa at the end of the First Council. But what can be the weight of such a witness, living more than a thousand years after the event, compared with that, for instance, of the Mahâvamsa, which dates from the fifth century of our era, and

[1. Bigandet, Life of Gaudama (Rangoon, 1866), p. 350; but also p. 120 note.

2. See Childers, s.v. Tipitaka. There is a curious passage in Buddhaghosa's account of the First Council. 'Now one may ask,' he says, 'Is there or is there not in this first Parâgika anything to be taken away or added?' I reply, There is nothing in the words of the Blessed Buddha that can be taken away, for the Buddhas speak not even a single syllable in vain, yet in the words of disciples and devatâs there are things which may be omitted, and these the elders who made the recension, did omit. On the other hand, additions are everywhere necessary, and accordingly, whenever it was necessary to add anything, they added it. If it be asked, What are the additions referred to? I reply, Only sentences necessary to connect the text, as 'at that time,' 'again at that time,' 'and so forth.'

3. Pèlerins Bouddhistes, vol. i. p. 158.]

p. xiii tells us in the account of Mahinda's missionary journey to Ceylon (241/318), that the son of Asoka had to spend three years in learning the Tipitaka by heart from the mouth of a teacher[1]? No mention is then made of any books or MSS., when it would have been most natural to do so[2]. At a later time, during the reign of King Vattagâmani[3] (88-76 B.C.), the same chronicle, the Mahâvamsa, tells us that 'the profoundly wise priests had theretofore orally (mukhapâthena) perpetuated the Pâli of the Pitakattaya and its Atthakathâ (commentary), but that at this period the priests, foreseeing the perdition of the people assembled, and in order that the religion might endure for ages, recorded the same in books (potthakesu likhâpayum)[4].'

   No one has yet questioned the dates of the Dîpavamsa, about 400 A.D., or of the first part of the Mahâvamsa, between 459-477 A.D., and though no doubt there is an interval of nearly 600 years between the composition of the Mahâvamsa and the recorded writing down of the Buddhist canon under Vattagâmani, yet we must remember that the Ceylonese chronicles were confessedly founded on an older Atthakathâ preserved in the monasteries of the island, and representing an unbroken line of local tradition.

   My own argument therefore, so long as the question was only whether we could assign a pre-Christian date to the Pâli Buddhist canon, has always been this. We have the commentaries on the Pâli canon translated from Sinhalese into Pâli, or actually composed, it may be, by Buddhaghosa. Buddhaghosa confessedly consulted various

[1. Mahâvamsa, p. 37; Dîpavamsa VII, 28-31; Buddhaghosha's Parables, p. xviii.

2. Bigandet, Life of Gaudama, p. 351.

3. Dr. E. Müller (Indian Antiquary, Nov. 1880, p. 270) has discovered inscriptions in Ceylon, belonging to Devanapiya Maharâga Gâmini Tissa, whom he identifes with Vattagâmani.

4. The same account is given in the Dîpavamsa XX, 20, and in the Sârasangraha, as quoted by Spence Hardy, Legends, p. 192. As throwing light on the completeness of the Buddhist canon at the time of King Vattagâmani, it should be mentioned that, according to the commentary on the Mahâvamsa (Turnour, p. liii), the sect of the Dhammarukikas established itself at the Abhayavihâra, which had been constructed by Vattagâmani, and that one of the grounds of their secession was their refusing to acknowledge the Parivâra (thus I read instead of Pariwána) as part of the Vinaya-pitaka. According to the Dîpavamsa (VII, 42) Mahinda knew the Parivâra.]

p. xiv MSS., and gives various readings, just as any modern scholar might do. This was in the beginning of the fifth century A.D., and there is nothing improbable, though I would say no more, in supposing that some of the MSS., consulted by Buddhaghosa, dated from the first century B.C., when Vattagâmani ordered the sacred canon to be reduced to writing.

   There is one other event with reference to the existence of the sacred canon in Ceylon, recorded in the Mahâvamsa, between the time of Buddhaghosa and Vattagâmani, viz. the translation of the Suttas from Pâli into the language of Ceylon, during the reign of Buddhadâsa, 339-368 A.D. If MSS. of that ancient translation still existed, they would, no doubt, be very useful for detrmining the exact state of the Pâli originals at that time[1]. But even without them there seems no reason to doubt that Buddhaghosa had before him old MSS. of the Pâli canon, and that these were in the main the same as those written down at the time of Vattagâmani.



   The whole of this argument, however, rested on the supposition that Buddhaghosa's date in the beginning of the fifth century A.D. was beyond the reach of reasonable doubt. 'His age,' I had ventured to say in the Preface to Buddhaghosha's Parables (1870), 'can be fixed with greater accuracy than most dates in the literary history of India.' But soon after, one of our most celebrated Pâli scholars, the great Russian traveller, Professor Joh. Minayeff, expressed in the Mélanges Asiatiques (13/25 April, 1871) the gravest doubts as to Buddhaghosa's age, and thus threw the whole Buddhist chronology, so far as it had then been accepted by all, or nearly all scholars, back into chaos. He gave as his chief reason that Buddhaghosa was not, as I supposed, the contemporary of Mahânâma, the

[1. A note is added, stating that several portions of the other two divisions also of the Pitakattaya were translated into the Sinhalese language, and that these alone are consulted by the priests, who are unacquainted with Pâli. On the other hand, it is stated that the Sinhalese text of the Atthakathâ exists no longer. See Spence Hardy, Legends, p. xxv, and p. 69.]

p. xv author of the Mahâvamsa, but of another Mahânâma, the king of Ceylon.

   Professor Minayeff is undoubtedly right in this, but I am not aware that I, or anybody else, had ever questioned so palpable a fact. There are two Mahânâmas; one, the king who reigned from 410-432 A.D.; the other, the supposed author of the Mahâvamsa, the uncle and protector of King Dhâtusena, 459-477. 'Dhâtusena,' I had written, 'was the nephew of the historian Mahânâma, and owed the throne to the protection of his uncle. Dhâtusena was in fact the restorer of a national dynasty, and after having defeated the foreign usurpers (the Damilo dynasty) "he restored the religion which had been set aside by the foreigners"' (Mahâv. p. 256). Among his many pious acts it is particularly mentioned that he gave a thousand, and ordered the Dîpavamsa to be promulgated. As Mahânâma was the uncle of Dhâtusena, who reigned from 459-477, he may be considered as a trustworthy witness with regard to events that occurred between 410 and 432. Now the literary activity of Buddhaghosa in Ceylon falls in that period[1].'

   These facts being admitted, it is surely not too great a stretch of probability to suppose, as I did, that a man whose nephew was king in 459-477, might have been alive in 410-432, that is to say, might have been a contemporary of Buddhaghosa. I did not commit myself to any further theories. The question whether Mahânâma, the uncle of Dhâtusena, was really the author of the Mahâvamsa, the question whether he wrote the second half of the 37th chapter of that work, or broke off his chronicle in the middle of that chapter, I did not discuss, having no new materials to bring forward beyond those on which Turnour and those who followed him had founded their conclusions, and which I had discussed in my History of Sanskrit Literature (1859), p. 267. All I said was, 'It is difficult to determine whether the 38th as well as the (whole of the) 37th chapter came from the pen of Mahânâma, for

[1. 'Ungefähr 50 Jahre älter als Mahânâma ist Buddhaghosha,' see Westergaard, Über Buddha's Todesjahr, p. 99.]

p. xvi the Mahâvamsa was afterwards continued by different writers, even to the middle of the last century. But, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, it is most probable that Mahânâma carried on the history to his own time, to the death of Dhâtusena, 477 A.D.'

   What I meant by 'all the circumstances of the case' might easily be understood by any one who had read Turnour's Preface to the Mahâvamsa. Turnour himself thought at first that Mahânâma's share in the Mahâvamsa ended with the year 301 A.D., and that the rest of the work, called the Sulu Wansé, was composed by subsequent writers[1]. Dharmakirti is mentioned by name as having continued the work to the reign of Prâkrama Bâhu (A.D. 1266). But Turnour afterwards changed his mind[2]. Considering that the account of Mahâsena's reign, the first of the Seven Kings, terminates in the middle of a chapter, at verse 48, while the whole chapter is called the Sattarâgiko, 'the chapter of the Seven Kings,' he naturally supposed that the whole of that chapter, extending to the end of the reign of his nephew Dhâtusena, might be the work of Mahânâma, unless there were any strong proofs to the contrary. Such proofs, beyond the tradition of writers of the MSS., have not, as yet, been adduced[3].

   But even if it could be proved that Mahânâma's own pen did not go beyond the 48th verse of the 37th chapter, the historical trustworthiness of the concluding portion of that chapter, containing the account of Buddhaghosa's literary activity, nay, even of the 38th chapter, would be little affected thereby. We know that both the Mahâvamsa and the somewhat earlier Dîpavamsa were founded on the Sinhalese Atthakathâs, the commentaries and chronicles preserved in the Mahâvihâra at Anurâdhapura. We also know that that Vihâra was demolished by Mahâsena, and deserted by nearly all its inmates for the space of nine years (p. 235), and again for the space of nine months

[1. Introduction, p. ii. The Kûlavamsa is mentioned with the Mahâvamsa, both as the works of Mahânâma, by Professor Forchhammer in his List of Pâli MSS.

2. Introduction, p. xci.

3. See Rhys Davids, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1875, p. 196.]

p. xvii (p. 237). We can well understand therefore why the older history, the Dîpavamsa, should end with the death of Mahâsena (died 302 A.D.), and why in the Mahâvamsa too there should have been a break at that date. But we must not forget that, during Mahânâma's life, the Mahâvihâra at Anurâdhapura was restored, that some kind of chronicle, called the Dîpavamsa, whether it be a general name of any 'chronicle of the island,' or of our Dîpavamsa, or, it may be, even of our Mahâvamsa, was ordered to be published or promulgated (dîpetum) under Dhâtusena, the nephew and protegé of Mahânâma. Therefore, even if we do not insist on the personal authorship of Mahânâma, we may certainly maintain that historical entries had been made in the chronicles of Anurâdhapura during Dhâtusena's reign, and probably under the personal auspices of Mahânâma, so that if we find afterwards, in the second half of the 37th chapter of his Mahâvamsa, an account of events which had happened between the destruction of the Mahâvihâra and the reign of Dhâtusena, and among them an account of so important an event as the arrival of Buddhaghosa from Magadha and his translation of the Sinhalese Atthakathâ into the language of Magadha, we may well suppose that they rest on the authority of native chronicles, written not long after the events, and that therefore, 'under all the circumstances of the case,' the age of Buddhaghosa can be fixed with greater accuracy than most dates in the literary history of India.

   There is one difficulty still remaining with regard to the date of the historian Mahânâma which might have perplexed Turnour's mind, and has certainly proved a stumbling-block to myself. Turnour thought that the author of the commentary on the Mahâvamsa, the Vamsatthappakâsinî, was the same as the author of the Mahâvamsa, viz. Mahânâma. The date of that commentary, however, as we know now, must be fixed much later, for it speaks of a schism which took place in the year 601 A.D., during the reign of Agrabôdhi (also called Dhâtâpatisso). Turnour[1] looked

[1. Introduction, p. liii.]

p. xviii upon that passage as a later interpolation, because he thought the evidence for the identity of the author and the commentator of the Mahâvamsa too strong to be set aside. He trusted chiefly to a passage in the commentary, and if that passage had been correctly rendered, the conclusion which be drew from it could hardly be resisted. We read in the Mahâvamsa (p. 254):

   'Certain members of the Moriyan dynasty, dreading the power of the (usurper) Subho, the bâlattho, had settled in various parts of the country, concealing themselves. Among them there was a certain landed proprietor Dhâtusena, who had established himself at Nandivâpi. His son named Dhâtâ, who lived at the village Ambiliyâgo, had two sons, Dhâtusena and Sîlatissabodhi, of unexceptional descent. Their mother's brother (Mahânâma), devoted to the cause of religion, continued to reside (at Anurâdhapura) in his sacerdotal character, at the edifice built by the minister Dîghasandana. The youth Dhâtusena became a priest in his fraternity, and on a certain day, while he was chaunting at the foot of a tree, a shower of rain fell, and a Nâga, seeing him there, encircled him in his folds, and covered him and his book with his hood. . . . Causing an image of Mahâ Mahinda to be made, and conveying it to the edifice (Ambamâlaka) in which the thera's body had been burnt, in order that be might celebrate a great festival there, and that he might also promulgate the contents of the Dîpavamsa, distributing a thousand pieces, he caused it to be read aloud[1].'

   If we compare with this extract from the Mahâvamsa a passage from the commentary as translated by Turnour, we can well understand how he arrived at the conclusion that it was written by the same person who wrote the Mahâvamsa.

   Turnour translates (p. liv):

   'Upon these data by me, the thera, who had, with due

[1. Mr. Turnour added a note in which he states that Dîpavamsa is here meant for Mahâvamsa, but whether brought down to this period, or only to the end of the reign of Mahâsena, to which alone the Tîkâ extends, there is no means of ascertaining (p. 257).]

p. xix solemnity, been invested with the dignified title of Mahânâma, resident at the parivena founded by the minister Dîghasandana, endowed with the capacity requisite to record the narrative comprised in the Mahâvamsa, in due order, rejecting only the dialect in which the Singhalese Atthakathâ are written, but retaining their import and following their arrangement, the history, entitled the Palapadôruvamsa (Padyapadânuvamsa), is compiled. As even in times when the despotism of the ruler of the land, and the horrors arising from the inclemencies of the seasons, and when panics of epidemics and other visitations prevailed, this work escaped all injury; and moreover, as it serves to perpetuate the fame of the Buddhas, their disciples, and the Paché Buddhas of old, it is also worthy of bearing the title of Vamsatthappakâsinî.'

   As the evidence of these two passages in support of the identity of the author and the commentator of the Mahâvamsa seemed to me very startling, I requested Mr. Rhys Davids to copy for me the passage of the commentary. The passage runs as follows:

   Yâ ettavatâ mahâvamsatthânusârakusalena Dîghasanda-senâpatinâ kârâpita-mahâparivenavâsinâ Mahânâmo ti garûhi gahitanâmadheyyena therena pubba-Sîhala-bhâsitâya Sîhalatthakathâya bhâsantaram eva vaggiya atthasâram eva gahetva tantinayânurûpena katassa imassa Padyapadâ-nuvamsassa atthavannanâ mayâ tam eva sannissitena âraddhâ, padesissariya-dubbutthibhaya-rogabhayâdi-vividha-antarâya-yuttakâle pi anantarâyena nitthânam upagatâ, sâ buddha-buddhasâvaka-pakkekabuddhâdînam porânânam kikkam pubbavamsatthappakâsanato ayam Vamsatthappakâsinî nâmâ ti dhâretabbâ. . . . Padyapadânuvamsa-vannanâ Vamsatthappakâsinî nitthitâ.

   Mr. Rhys Davids translates this:

   'The commentary on this Padyapadânuvamsa, which (latter work) was made (in the same order and arrangement, and retaining the sense, but rejecting the dialect, of the Sinhalese commentary formerly expressed in the Sinhalese tongue) by the elder who bore the name of Mahânâma, which he had p. xx received from the venerable, who resided at the Mahâparivena built by the minister Dîghasanda, and who was well able to conform to the sense of the Mahâvamsa--(this commentary) which was undertaken by me out of devotion to that (history), and which (though thus undertaken) at a time full of danger of various kinds--such as the danger from disease, and the danger from drought, and the danger from the government of the province--has been safely brought to a conclusion--this (commentary), since it makes known the meaning of the history of old, the mission of the ancients, of the Buddhas, of their disciples, and of the Pakkeka Buddhas, should bear the name Vamsatthappakâsinî. . . .

'End of the Vamsatthappakâsinî, the commentary on the Padyapadânuvamsa.'

   This shows clearly that Turnour made a mistake in translating this exceedingly involved, yet perfectly intelligible, passage, and that so far from proving that the author of the commentary was the same person as the author of the text[1], it proves the very contrary. Nay, I feel bound to add, that we might now argue that as the commentator must have lived later than 601 A.D., the fact that he too breaks off at verse 48 of chapter 37, seems to show that at his time also the Mahâvamsa did not extend as yet beyond that verse. But even then, the fact that with the restoration of the Mahâvihâra of Anurâdhapura an interest in historical studies revived in Ceylon, would clearly show that we may trust the date of Buddhaghosa, as fixed by the second part of the 37th chapter of the Mahâvamsa, at all events till stronger evidence is brought forward against such a date.

   Now I am not aware of any such evidence[2]. On the contrary, making allowance for a difference of some ten or twenty years, all the evidence which we can gain from other quarters tends to confirm, the date of

[1. Dr. Oldenberg informs me that the commentator quotes various readings in the text of the Mahâvamsa.

2. The passage, quoted by Professor Minayeff from the Sâsanavamsa, would assign to Buddhaghosa the date of 930-543 = 387 A.D., which can easily be reconciled with his accepted date. If he is called the contemporary of Siripâla, we ought to know who that Siripâla is.]

p. xxi Buddhaghosa[1]. I therefore feel no hesitation in here reprinting that story, as we find it in the Mahâvamsa, not free from legendary ingredients, it is true, yet resting, I believe, on a sound foundation of historical fact.

   'A Brâhman youth, born in the neighbourhood of the terrace of the great Bo-tree (in Magadha), accomplished in the "viggâ" (knowledge) and "sippa" (art), who had achieved the knowledge of the three Vedas, and possessed great aptitude in attaining acquirements; indefatigable as a schismatic disputant, and himself a schismatic wanderer over Gambudîpa, established himself, in the character of a disputant, in a certain vihâra[2], and was in the habit of rehearsing, by night and by day with clasped hands, a discourse which he had learned, perfect in all its component parts, and sustained throughout in the same lofty strain. A certain Mahâthera, Revata, becoming acquainted with him there, and (saying to himself), "This individual is a person of profound knowledge, it will be worthy (of me) to convert him;" enquired, "Who is this who is braying like an ass?" The Brâhman replied to him, "Thou canst define, then, the meaning conveyed in the bray of asses." On the Thera rejoining, "I can define it;" he (the Brâhman) exhibited the extent of the knowledge he possessed. The Thera criticised each of his propositions, and pointed out in what respect they were fallacious. He who had been thus refuted, said, "Well, then, descend to thy own creed;" and he propounded to him a passage from the Abhidhamma (of the Pitakattaya). He (the Brâhman) could not divine the signification of that passage, and enquired, "Whose manta is this?"--"It is Buddha's manta." On his exclaiming, "Impart it to me;" the Thera replied, "Enter the sacerdotal order." He who was desirous of acquiring the knowledge of the Pitakattaya, subsequently coming to this conviction, "This is the sole road" (to salvation), became a convert to that faith. As he was as profound in his eloquence (ghosa) as Buddha himself, they conferred on him the appellation of Buddhaghosa (the

[1. See Bigandet, Life of Gaudama. pp. 351, 381.

2. On this vihâra, its foundation and character, see Oldenberg, Vinaya, vol. i. p. liii; Hiouen-thsang, III, p. 487 seq.]

p. xxii voice of Buddha); and throughout the world he became as renowned as Buddha. Having there (in Gambudîpa) composed an original work called Ñânodaya (Rise of Knowledge), he, at the same time, wrote the chapter called Atthasâlinî, on the Dhammasangani (one of the commentaries on the Abhidhamma).

   'Revata Thera then observing that he was desirous of undertaking the compilation of a general commentary on the Pitakattaya, thus addressed him: "The text alone of the Pitakattaya has been preserved in this land, the Atthakathâ are not extant here, nor is there any version to be found of the schisms (vâda) complete. The Sinhalese Atthakathâ are genuine. They were composed in the Sinhalese language by the inspired and profoundly wise Mahinda, who had previously consulted the discourses (kathâmagga) of Buddha, authenticated at the three convocations, and the dissertations and arguments of Sâriputta and others, and they are extant among the Sinhalese. Preparing for this, and studying the same, translate them according to the rules of the grammar of the Mâgadhas. It will be an act conducive to the welfare of the whole world."

   'Having been thus advised, this eminently wise personage rejoicing therein, departed from thence, and visited this island in the reign of this monarch (i.e. Mahânâma, 410-432). On reaching the Mahâvihâra (at Anurâdhapura), he entered the Mahâpadhânâ hall, the most splendid of the apartments in the vihâra, and listened to the Sinhalese Atthakathâ, and the Theravâda, from the beginning to the end, propounded by the Thera Sanghapâla; and became thoroughly convinced that they conveyed the true meaning of the doctrines of the Lord of Dhamma. Thereupon paying reverential respect to the priesthood, he thus petitioned: "I am desirous of translating the Atthakathâ; give me access to all your books." The priesthood, for the purpose of testing his qualifications, gave only two gâthâs, saying, "Hence prove thy qualification; having satisfied ourselves on this point, we will then let thee have all our books." From these (taking these gâthâ for his text), and p. xxiii consulting the Pitakattaya, together with the Atthakathâ, and condensing them into an abridged form, he composed the work called the Visuddhimagga. Thereupon, having assembled the priesthood, who had acquired a thorough knowledge of the doctrines of Buddha, at the Bo-tree, he commenced to read out the work he had composed. The devatâs, in order that they might make his (Buddhaghosa's) gifts of wisdom celebrated among men, rendered that book invisible. He, however, for a second and third time recomposed it. When he was in the act of producing his book for the third time, for the purpose of propounding it, the devatâs restored the other two copies also. The assembled priests then read out the three books simultaneously. In those three versions there was no variation whatever from the orthodox Theravâdas in passages, in words, or in syllables. Thereupon, the priesthood rejoicing, again and again ferventIy shouted forth, saying, "Most assuredly this is Metteya (Buddha) himself," and made over to him the books in which the Pitakattaya were recorded, together with the Atthakathâ. Taking up his residence in the secluded Ganthâkara-vihâra (at Anurâdhapura), he translated, according to the grammatical rules of the Mâgadhas, which is the root of all languages, the whole of the Sinhalese Atthakathâ (into Pâli). This proved an achievement of the utmost consequence to all beings, whatever their language.

   'All the Theras and Âkâriyas held this compilation in the same estimation as the text (of the Pitakattaya). Thereafter, the objects of his mission having been fulfilled, he returned to Gambudîpa, to worship at the Bo-tree (at Uruvelâya, or Uruvilvâ, in Magadha).'

   Here[1] we have a simple account of Buddhaghosa[2] and

[1. Mahâvamsa, p. 250, translated by Turnour.

2. The Burmese entertain the highest respect for Buddhaghosa. Bishop Bigandet, in his Life or Legend of Gaudama (Rangoon, 1866), writes: 'It is perhaps as well to mention here an epoch which has been, at all times, famous in the history of Budhism in Burma. I allude to the voyage which a Religious of Thaton, named Budhagosa, made to Ceylon, in the year of religion 943 = 400 A.D. The object of this voyage was to procure a copy of the scriptures. He succeeded in his undertaking. He made use of the Burmese, or rather Talaing characters, in transcribing the manuscripts, which were written with the characters of Magatha. The Burmans lay much stress upon that voyage, and always carefully note down the year it took place. In fact, it is to Budhagosa that the people living on the shores of the Gulf of Martaban owe the possession of the Budhist scriptures. From Thaton, the collection made by Budhagosa was transferred to Pagan, six hundred and fifty years after it had been imported from Ceylon.' See ibid. p. 392.]

p. xxiv his literary labours written by a man, himself a priest, and who may well have known Buddhaghosa during his stay in Ceylon. It is true that the statement of his writing the same book three times over without a single various reading, partakes a little of the miraculous; but we find similar legends mixed up with accounts of translations of other sacred books, and we cannot contend that writers who believed in such legends are therefore altogether unworthy to be believed as historical witnesses.

   But although the date which we can assign to Buddhaghosa's translation of the commentaries on the Pâli Tipitaka proves the existence of that canon, not only for the beginning or the fifth century of our era, but likewise, though it may be, with less stringency, for the first century before our era, the time of Vattagâmani, the question whether Buddhaghosa was merely a compiler and translator of old commentaries, and more particularly of the commentaries brought to Ceylon by Mahinda (241 B.C.), or whether he added anything of his own[1], requires to be more carefully examined. The Buddhists themselves have no difficulty on that point. They consider the Atthakathâs or commentaries as old as the canon itself. To us, such a supposition seems improbable, yet it has never been proved to be impossible. The Mahâvamsa tells us that Mahinda, the son of Asoka, who had become a priest, learnt the whole of the Buddhist canon, as it then was, in three years (p. 37)[2]; and that at the end of the Third Council he was despatched to Ceylon, in order to establish there the religion of Buddha (p. 71). The king of Ceylon, Devânampiya Tissa, was converted, and Buddhism soon became the dominant

[1. He had written the Ñânodaya, and the Atthasâlinî, a commentary on the Dhamma-sangani, before he went to Ceylon. Cf. Mahâvamsa, p. 251.

2. He learnt the five Nikâyas, and the seven sections (of the Abhidhamma); the two Vibhangas of the Vinaya, the Parivâra and the Khandhaka. See Dîpavamsa VII, 42.]

p. xxv religion of the island, The Tipitaka and the Atthakathâ, such as they had been collected or settled at the Third Council in 242 B.C., were brought to Ceylon by Mahinda, who promulgated them orally, the Tipitaka in Pâli, the Atthakathâ in Sinhalese, together with an additional Atthakathâ of his own. It does not follow that Mahinda knew the whole of that enormous literature by heart, for, as he was supported by a number of priests, they may well have divided the different sections among them, following the example of Ânanda and Upâli at the First Council. The same applies to their disciples also. But the fact of their transmitting the sacred literature by oral tradition[1] was evidently quite familiar to the author of the Mahâvamsa. For when he comes to describe the reign of Vattagâmani (88-76 B.C.) he simply says: 'The profoundly wise priests had heretofore orally perpetuated the Pâli Pitakattaya and its Atthakathâ (commentaries). At this period these priests, foreseeing the perdition of the people (from the perversions of the true doctrines), assembled; and in order that the religion might endure for ages, wrote the same in books.' No valid objection has yet been advanced to our accepting Buddhaghosa's Atthakathâs as a translation and new redaction of the Atthakathâs which were reduced to writing under Vattagâmani[2], and these again as a translation of the old Atthakathâs brought to Ceylon by Mahinda[3]. There is prima facie evidence in favour of the truth of historical events vouched for by such works as the Dîpavamsa and the Mahâvamsa so far back at least as Mahinda, because we know that historical events were recorded in the monasteries of Ceylon long before Mahânâma's time. Beyond Mahinda we move in legendary history, and must be ready to surrender every name and every date as soon as rebutting evidence has been produced, but not till then.

   I cannot, therefore, see any reason why we should not treat the verses of the Dhammapada, if not as the utterances of Buddha, at least as what were believed by the

[1. On the importance of oral tradition in the history of Sanskrit literature see the writer's Ancient Sanskrit Literature, 1859, pp. 497-524.

2. Mahâvamsa, p. 207; Dîpavamsa XX, 20.

3. Mahâvamsa, p. 251.]

p. xxvi members of the Council under Asoka, in 242 B.C., to have been the utterances of the founder of their religion; nor can I see that Professor Minayeff has shaken the date of Buddhaghosa and the general credibility of the Ceylonese tradition, that he was the translator and editor of commentaries which had existed in the island for many centuries; whether from the time of Vattagâmani or from the time of Mahinda.



   We now return to the question of the date of the Buddhist canon, which, as yet, we have only traced back to the first century before Christ, when it was reduced to writing in Ceylon under King Vattagâmani. The question is, how far beyond that date we may trace its existence in a collected form, or in the form of the three Pitakas or baskets. There may be, and we shall see that there is, some doubt as to the age of certain works, now incorporated in the Tipitaka. We are told, for instance, that some doubt attached to the canonicity of the Kariyâ-pitaka; the Apadâna, and the Buddhavamsa[1], and there is another book of the Abhidhamma-pitaka, the Kathâvatthu, which was reported to be the work of Tissa Moggaliputta, the president of the Third Council. Childers, s.v., stated that it was composed by the apostle Moggaliputtatissa, and delivered by him at the Third Mahâsangîti. The same scholar, however, withdrew this opinion on p. 507 of his valuable Dictionary, where he says: 'It is a source of great regret to me that in my article on Kathâvatthuppakaranam I inadvertently followed James D'Alwis in the stupendous blunder of his assertion that the Kathâvatthu was added by Moggaliputtatissa at the Third Convocation. The Kathâvatthu is one of the Abhidhamma books, mentioned by Buddhaghosa as having been rehearsed at the First Convocation, immediately after Gotama's death; and the passage in Mahâvamsa upon which D'Alwis rests his assertion is as follows, Kathâvatthuppakararanam paravâdappamaddanam abhâsi Tissatthero ka tasmim sangîtimandale, which simply means 'in that Convocation-assembly

[1. See Childers, s.v. Nikâya.]

p. xxvii the Thera Tissa also recited (Buddha's) heresy-crushing Kathâvatthuppakarana.'

   This mistake, for I quite agree with Childers that it was a mistake, becomes however less stupendous than at first sight it would appear, when we read the account given in the Dîpavamsa. Here the impression is easily conveyed that Moggaliputta was the author of the Kathâvatthu, and that he recited it for the first time at the Third Council. 'Wise Moggaliputta,' we read[1], 'the destroyer of the schismatic doctrines, firmly established the Theravâda, and held the Third Council. Having destroyed the different (heretical) doctrines, and subdued many shameless people, and restored splendour to the (true) faith, he proclaimed (pakâsayi) (the treatise called) Kathâvatthu.' And again: 'They all were sectarians[2], opposed to the Theravâda; and in order to annihilate them and to make his own doctrine resplendent, the Thera set forth (desesi) the treatise belonging to the Abhidhamma, which is called Kathâvatthu[3].'

   At present, however, we are not concerned with these smaller questions. We treat the canon as a whole, divided into three parts, and containing the books which still exist in MSS., and we want to find out at what time such a collection was made. The following is a short abstract of the Tipitaka, chiefly taken from Childers' Pâli Dictionary:

I. Vinaya-pitaka.


  • Vibhanga[4].
       Vol. I, beginning with Pârâgika, or sins involving expulsion.
       Vol. II, beginning with Pâkittiya, or sins involving penance.


  • Khandhaka.
       Vol. I, Mahâvagga, the large section.
       Vol. II, Kullavagga, the small section.


  • Parivârapâtha, an appendix and later resumé (25 chapters). See p. xiii, n. 4; p. xxiv, n. 2.

    [1. Dîpavamsa VII, 40.

    2. Dîpavamsa VII, 55.

    3. Dr. Oldenberg, in his Introduction to the Vinaya-pitaka, p. xxxii.

    4. Oldenberg, Vinaya-pitaka I, p. xvi, treats it as an extended reading of Pâtimokkha.]

    p. xxviii

    II. Sutta-pitaka.


  • Dîgha-nikâya, collection of long suttas (34 suttas)[1].
  • Magghima-nikâya, collection of middle suttas (152 suttas).
  • Samyutta-nikâya, collection of joined suttas.
  • Anguttara-nikâya[2], miscellaneous suttas, in divisions the length of which increases by one.
  • Khuddaka-nikâya[3], the collection of short suttas, consisting of--
  • Khuddakapâtha, the small texts[4].
  • Dhammapada, law verses (423)[5].
  • Udâna, praise (82 suttas).
  • Itivuttaka, stories referring to sayings of Buddha.
  • Suttanipâta 70 suttas[6].
  • Vimânavatthu, stories of Vimânas, celestial palaces.
  • Petavatthu, stories of Pretas, departed spirits.
  • Theragâthâ, stanzas of monks.
  • Therîgâthâ, stanzas of nuns.
  • Gâtaka, former births (550 tales)[7].
  • Niddesa, explanations of certain suttas by Sâriputta.

    [1. The Mahâparinibbâna-sutta, ed. by Childers, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, translated with other Suttas by Rhys Dayids (S.B.E. vol. xi). Sept Suttas Palis, par Grimblot, Paris, l876.

    2. The first four are sometimes called the Four Nikâyas, the five together the five Nikâyas. They represent the Dharma, as settled at the First and Second Councils, described in the Kullavagga (Oldenberg, I, p. xi).

    3. Sometimes Khuddaka-nikâya stands for the whole Vinaya and Abhidhamma- pitaka, with the fifteen divisions here given of Khuddaka-nikâya. In the commentary on the Brahmagâla-sutta it is said that the Dîghanikâya professors rehearsed the text of the Gâtaka, Mahâ and Kulla Niddesa, Patisambhidâmagga, Suttanipâta, Dhammapada, Udâna, Itivuttaka, Vimâna, and Petavatthu, Thera and Therî Gâthâ, and called it Khuddakagantha, and made it a canonical text, forming part of the Abhidhamma; while the Magghimanikâya professors assert that, with the addition of the Kariyâpitaka, Apadâna, and Buddhavamsa, the whole of this Khuddakagantha was included in the Suttapitaka. See Childers, s.v. Nikâya;. See also p. x.

    4. Published by Childers, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1869.

    5. Published by Fausböll, 1855.

    6. Thirty translated by Sir Coomâra Swâmy; the whole by Fausböll, in Sacred Books of the East, vol. x.

    7. Published by Fausböll, translated by Rhys Davids.]

    p. xxix

  • Patisambhidâmagga, the road of discrimination, and intuitive insight.
  • Apadâna[1], legends.
  • Buddhavamsa[1], story of twenty-four preceding Buddhas and of Gotama.
  • Kariyâpitaka[1], basket of conduct, Buddha's meritorious actions[2].

    III. Abhidhamma-pitaka.

  • Dhammasangani, numeration of conditions of life[3].
  • Vibhanga, disquisitions (18).
  • Kathâvatthupakarana, book of subjects for discussion (1000 suttas).
  • Puggalapaññatti or pannatti, declaration on puggala, or personality.
  • Dhâtukathâ, account of dhâtus or elements.
  • Yamaka, pairs (ten divisions).
  • Patthânapakarana, book of causes.

       Taking this collection as a whole we may lay it down as self-evident that the canon, in its collected form, cannot be older than any of the events related therein.

       There are two important facts for determining the age of the Pâli canon, which, as Dr. Oldenberg[4] has been the first to show, should take precedence of all other arguments, viz.

       1. That in the Tipitaka, as we now have it, no mention is made of the so-called Third Council, which took place at Pâtaliputta, under King Asoka, about 242 B.C.

       2. That in the Tipitaka, as we now have it, the First Council of Râgagaha (477 B.C.) and the Second Council of Vesâlî (377 B.C.) are both mentioned.

       From these two facts it may safely be concluded that the Buddhist canon, as handed down to us, was finally closed

    [1. Buddhaghosa does not say whether these were recited at the First Council.

    2. Partly translated by Gogerly, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Ceylon, 1852.

    3. Cf. Gogerly, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Ceylon. 1848, p. 7.

    4. See Oldenberg's Vinaya-pitaka, Introduction. p. xxv. The kings Agâtasatru (485-453 B.C.), Udâyin (453-437 B.C.), and Munda (437-429 B.C.) are all mentioned in the Tipitaka. See Oldenberg, Zeitschrift der D. M. G., XXXIV. pp. 752, 753.]

    p. xxx after the Second and before, or possibly at, the Third Council. Nay, the fact that the description of the two Councils stands at the very end of the Kullavagga may be taken, as Dr. Oldenberg remarks, as an indication that it was one of the latest literary contributions which obtained canonical authority, while the great bulk of the canon may probably claim a date anterior to the Second Council.

       This fact, namely, that the collection of the canon, as a whole, must have preceded the Second Council rests on an argument which does great credit to the ingenuity of Dr. Oldenberg. The Second Council was convoked to consider the ten deviations[1] from the strict discipline of the earliest times. That discipline had been laid down first in the Pâtimokkha rules, then in the commentary now included in the Vibhanga, lastly in the Mahâvagga and Kullavagga. The rules as to what was allowed or forbidden to a Bhikkhu were most minute[2], and they were so firmly established that no one could have ventured either to take away or to add anything to them as they stood in the sacred code. In that code itself a distinction is made between the offences which were from the first visited with punishment (pârâgika and pâkittiya) and those misdemeanours and crimes which were put down as punishable at a later time (dukkata and thullakkaya). With these classes the code was considered as closed, and if any doubt arose as to the criminality of certain acts, it could be settled at once by an appeal to the Vinaya-pitaka. Now it so happens that, with one exception, the ten deviations that had to be considered at the Second Council, are not provided for in the Vinaya-pitaka; and I quite agree with Dr. Oldenberg's argument that, if they had been mentioned in the Vinaya-pitaka, the Second Council would have been objectless. A mere appeal to chapter and verse in the existing Pitaka would then have silenced all dissent. On the other side, if it had been possible to add anything to the canon, as it then existed, the ten, or nine, deviations might have been condemned

    [1. Oldenberg, Introduction, p. xxix.

    2. Oldenberg, loc. cit. p. xx.]

    p. xxxi by a few additional paragraphs of the canon, without convoking a new Council.

       I think we may be nearly certain, therefore, that we possess the principal portion of the Vinaya-pitaka as it existed before the Council of Vesâlî.

       So far I quite agree with Dr. Oldenberg. But if he proceeds to argue[1] that certain portions of the canon must have been finally settled before even the First Council took place, or was believed to have taken place, I do not think his arguments conclusive. He contends that in the Parinibbâna-sutta, which tells of the last days of Buddha's life, of his death, the cremation of his body, and the distribution of his relics, and of Subhadda's revolt, it would have been impossible to leave out all mention of the First Council, if that Council had then been known. It is true, no doubt, that Subhadda's disloyalty was the chief cause of the First Council, but there was no necessity to mention that Council. On the contrary, it seems to me that the unity of the Parinibbâna-sutta would have been broken if, besides telling of the last days of Buddha, it had also given a full description of the Council. The very title, the Sutta of the Great Decease, would have become inappropriate, if so important a subject as the first Sangîti had been mixed up with it. However, how little we may trust to such general arguments, is best shown by the fact that in some very early Chinese renderings of the Hînayâna text of the Mahâparinibbâna-sutta the story is actually carried on to the First Council, two (Nos. 552 and 119) mentioning the rehearsal under Kasyapa, while the third (No. 118) simply states that the Tiptaka was then collected[2].

    [1. Loc. cit. pp. xxvi-xxviii.

    2. There are several Chinese translations of Sûtras on the subject of the Mahâparinirvâna. Three belong to the Mahâyâna school: 1. Mahâparinirvâna-sûtra, translated by Dharmaraksha, about 414-423 A.D.; afterwards revised, 424-453 (Nos. 113, 114). 2. Translation by Fa-hian and Buddhabhadra, about 415 A.D.; less complete (No. 120). 3. Translation (vaipulya) by Dharmaraksha I, i.e. Ku Fa-hu, about 261-308 A.D. (No. 116). Three belong to the Hînayâna school: 1. Mahiparinirvâna-sûtra. translated by Po-fa-tsu, about 290-306 A.D. (No. 552). 2. Translation under the Eastern Tsin dynasty, 317-42O A.D. (No. 119). 3. Translation by Fa-hian, about 415 A.D. (No. 118).]

    p. xxxii

       We must be satisfied therefore, so far as I can see at present, with fixing the date, and the latest date, of a Buddhist canon at the time of the Second Council, 377 B.C. That some works were added later, we know; that many of the treatises included in the canon existed before that Council, can hardly be doubted. The second chapter of the Dhammapada, for instance, is called the Appamâda-vagga, and if the Mahâvamsa (p. 25) tells us that at the time when Asoka was converted by Nigrodha, that Buddhist priest explained to him the Appamâda-vagga, we can hardly doubt that there existed then a collection (vagga) of verses on Appamâda, such as we now possess in the Dhammapada and in the Samyutta-nikâya[1].

       With regard to the Vinaya, I should even feel inclined to admit, with Dr. Oldenberg, that it must have existed in a more or less settled form before that time. What I doubt is whether such terms as Pitaka, basket, or Tipitaka, the three baskets, i.e. the canon, existed at that early time. They have not been met with, as yet, in any of the canonical books; and if the Dîpavamsa (IV, 32) uses the word 'Tipitaka,' when describing the First Council, this is due to its transferring new terms to older times. If Dr. Oldenberg speaks of a Dvi-pitaka[2] as the name of the canon before the third basket, that of the Abhidhamma, was admitted, this seems to me an impossible name, because at the time when the Abhidhamma was not yet recognised as a third part of the canon, the word pitaka had probably no existence as a technical term[3].

       We must always, I think, distinguish between the three portions of the canon, called the basket of the Suttas, the

    [1. Feer, Revue Critique, 1870, No. 24, p. 377.

    2. Introduction. pp. x, xii.

    3. Dr. Oldenberg informs me that pitaka occurs in the Kankîsuttanta in the Magghima Nikâya (Turnour's MS., fol. the), but applied to the Veda. He also refers to the tipitakâkâryas mentioned in the Western Cave inscriptions as compared with the Pañkanekâyâka in the square Asoka character inscriptions (Cunningham, Bharhut, pl. lvi, No. 52). In the Sûtrakrid-anga of the Gainas, too, the term pidagam occurs (MS. Berol. fol. 77 a). He admils, however, that pitaka or tipitaka, as the technical name of the Buddhist canon, has not yet been met with in that canon itself, and defends Dvipitaka only as a convenient term.]

    p. xxxiii basket of Vinaya, and the basket of Abhidhamma, and the three subjects of Dhamma (sutta), Vinaya, and Abhidhamma, treated in these baskets. The subjects existed and were taught long before the three baskets were definitely arranged. Dhamma had originally a much wider meaning than Sutta-pitaka. It often means the whole teaching of Buddha; and even when it refers more particularly to the Sutta-pitaka, we know that the Dhamma there taught deals largely with Vinaya and Abhidhamma doctrines. Even the fact that at the First Council, according to the description given in the Kullavagga, the Vinaya and Dhamma only were rehearsed, though proving the absence at that time of the Abhidhamma, as a separate Pitaka, by no means excludes the subject of the Abhidhamma having been taught under the head of Dhamma. In the Mahâkarunâpundarîka-sûtra the doctrine of Buddha is divided into Dharma and Vinaya; the Abhidharma is not mentioned. But the same text knows of all the twelve Dharmapravakanâni[1], the 1. Sûtra; 2. Geya; 3. Vyâkarana; 4. Gâthâ; 5. Udâna; 6. Nidâna; 7. Avadâna; 8. Itivrittaka; 9. Gâtaka; 10. Vaipulya; 11. Adbhutadharma; 12. Upadesa; some of these being decidedly metaphysical.

       To my mind nothing shows so well the historical character both of the Kullavagga and of Buddhaghosa in the Introduction to his commentary on the Dîgha-nikâya, as that the former, in its account of the First Council, should know only of the Vinaya, as rehearsed by Upâli, and the Dhamma, as rehearsed by Ânanda, while the much later Buddhaghosa, in his account of the First Council[2], divides the Dhamma into two parts, and states that the second part, the Abhidhamma, was rehearsed after the first part, the Dhamma. Between the time of the Kullavagga and the time of Buddhaghosa the Abhidhamma must have assumed its recognised position by the side of Vinaya and Sutta. It must be left to further researches to determine, if possible,

    [1. See Academy, August 28, 1880, Division of Buddhist Scriptures.

    2. Oldenberg, Introduction, p. xii; Turnour, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vi, p. 510 seq.]

    p. xxxiv the time when the name of pitaka was first used, and when Tipitaka was accepted as the title of the whole canon.

       Whenever we see such traces of growth, we feel that we are on historical ground, and in that sense Dr. Oldenberg's researches into the growth of the Vinaya, previous to the Second Council, deserve the highest credit. He shows, in opposition to other scholars, that the earliest elements of Vinaya must be looked for in the short Pâtimokkha rules, which were afterwards supplemented by explanations, by glosses and commentaries, and in that form answered for some time every practical purpose. Then followed a new generation who, not being satisfied, as it would seem, with these brief rules and comments, wished to know the occasion on which these rules had been originally promulgated. What we now call the Vibhanga, i.e. the first and second divisions of the Vinaya-pitaka, is a collection of the stories, illustrating the origin of each rule, of the rules themselves (the Pâtimokkha), and of the glosses and comments on these rules.

       The third and fourth books, the Mahâvagga and Kullavagga, are looked upon as possibly of a slightly later date. They treat, in a similar manner as the Vibhanga, on the rules not included in that collection, and give a general picture of the outward life of the monks. While the Vibhanga deals chiefly with the original so-called pârâgika, sanghâdisesa, and pâkittiya offences, the Khandhaka, i.e. the Mahâvagga and Kullavagga, treats of the so-called dukkata and thullakkaya crimes. The arrangement is the same, story, rule, and comment succeeding each other in regular sequence. If we follow the guidance of the Vinaya-pitaka, we should be able to distinguish the following steps in the growth of Buddhism before the Second Council of Vesâlî:

  • Teaching of Buddha and his disciples (543/477 A.D. Buddha's death).
  • Collection of Pâtimokkha rules (first code).
  • Comment and glosses on these rules.
  • Stories in illustration of these rules (vibhanga).
  • Mahâvagga and Kullavagga (Khandhaka).

    p. xxxv

  • Council of Vesâlî for the repression of ten abuses (443/377 A.D.)
  • Description of First and Second Councils in Kullavagga.

       The Kulavagga ascribes the settlement of the canon to the First Council, and does not even claim a revision of that canon for the Second Council. The Dîpavamsa claims a revision of the canon by the 700 Arhats for the Second Council.



       In order to bring the Council of Vesâlî in connection with the chronology of the world, we must follow the Buddhist historians for another century. One hundred and eighteen years after the Council of Vesâlî they place the anointment of King Asoka, during whose reign a Third Council, under the presidency of Tissa Moggaliputta, took place at Pâtaliputta, the new capital adopted by that king, instead of Râgagaha and Vesâlî. This Council is chiefly known to us through the writings of the southern Buddhists (Dîpavamsa, Mahâvamsa, and Buddhaghosa), who belong to the school of Moggaliputta (Theravâda or Vibhaggavâda), which ruled supreme at Pâtaliputta, while Upagupta, the chief authority of the northern Buddhists, is altogether ignored in the Pâli chronicles.

       Now it is well known that Asoka was the grandson of Kandagutta, and Kandagutta the contemporary of Alexander the Great. Here we see land, and I may refer to my History of Sanskrit Literature, published in 1859, for the process by which the storm-tossed ship of Indian chronology has been landed in the harbour of real historical chronology. We are told by the monks of the Mahâvihâra in Ceylon that Asoka was crowned, according to their computation, 146 + 18 years before the accession of Dutthagâmani, 161 B.C., i.e. 325 B.C.; that between his coronation and his father's death four years had elapsed (329 B.C.); that his father Bindusâra had reigned twenty-eight years[1] (357-329 B.C.), and Bindusâra's father, Kandagutta,

    [1. Mahâvamsa, p. 21.]

    p. xxxvi twenty-four years (381-357). As we know that Kandagutta, whom the Ceylonese place 381-357 B.C., was king of India after Alexander's conquest, it follows that Ceylonese chronology is wrong by more than half a century. For reasons stated in my History of Sanskrit Literature, I fix the exact fault in Ceylonese chronology as sixty-six years, assigning to Kandagutta the dates 315-291, instead of 381-357. This gives us 291-263 for Bindusâra, 259 for Asoka's abhisheka; 259 + 118 = 377 for the Council of Vesâlî, and 377 + 100 = 477 for Buddha's death, instead of 543 B.C.[1]

       These dates are, of course, approximate only, and they depend on one or two points on which people may differ. But, with that reservation, I see no ground whatever for modifying the chronological system which I put forward more than twenty years ago. Professor Westergaard and Professor Kern, who have since suggested different dates for the death of Buddha, do not really differ from me in principle, but only in their choice of one or the other alternative, which I readily admit as possible, but not as more certain than my own. Professor Westergaard[2], for instance, fixes Buddha's death at 368 (370), instead of 477. This seems a wide difference, but it is so in appearance only.

       Following Justinus, who says that Sandrokyptos[3] had conquered the empire of India at the time when Seleucus laid the foundations of his own greatness, I had accepted 315[4], half-way between the murder of Porus and the taking of Babylon by Seleucus, as the probable beginning

    [1. According to Bigandet, Life of Gaudama, p. 361, the era of Buddha's death was introduced by Agâtasatru, at the conclusion of the First Council, and began in the year 46 of the older Eetzana era (p. 12). See, however, Rhys Davids, Num. Orient. vi, p. 38. In the Kâranda-vyûha, p. 96, a date is given as 300 after the Nirvâna, 'tritîye varshasate gate mama parinirvritasya.' In the Asoka-avadâna we read, mama nirvritim ârabhya satavarshagata Upagupto nâma bhikshur utpatsyati.

    2. Über Buddha's Todesjahr (1860), 1862.

    3. The Greek name Sandrokyptus shows that the Pâli corruption Kandagutta was not yet the recognised name of the king.

    4. Mr. Rhys Davids accepts 315 B.C. as the date when, after the murder of king Nanda, Kandragupta stept into the vacant throne, though he had begun to count his reign seven or eight years before. Buddhism, p. 22O.]

    p. xxxvii of Kandragupta's reign. Westergaard prefers 320 as a more likely date for Kandragupta, and therefore places the death of the last Nanda and the beginning of Asoka's royal pretensions 268. Here there is a difference between him and me of five years, which depends chiefly on the view we take as to the time when Seleucus really laid what Justinus calls the foundation of his future greatness. Secondly, Westergaard actually adopts the idea, at which I only hinted as possible, that the southern Buddhists made two Asokas out of one, and two Councils out of one. Trusting in the tradition that 118 years elapsed between Buddha's death and the Council under Asoka (at Pâtaliputra), and that the Council took place in the king's tenth year (as was the case with the imaginary Kâlâsoka's Council), he gets 268 - 10 = 258 as the date of the Council, and 368 or 370 as the date of Buddha's death[1].

       The two points on which Westergaard differs from me, seem to me questions which should be kept before our mind in dealing with early Buddhist history, but which, for the present at least, admit of no definite solution.

       The same remark seems to me to apply to the calculations of another eminent Sanskrit scholar, Professor Kern[2]. He lays great stress on the general untrustworthiness of Indian chronology, and I am the last to differ from him on that point. He then places the beginning of Kandragupta's reign in 322 B.C. Allowing twenty-four years to him and twenty-eight to his son Bindusâra, he places the beginning of Asoka's reign in 270. Asoka's inscriptions would fall about 258. As Asoka reigned thirty-six or thirty-seven years, his death would fall in 234 or 233 B.C. Like Westergaard, Professor Kern too eliminates Kâlâsoka, as a kind of chronological Asoka, and the Council of Vaisâlî, and therefore places Buddha's death, according to the northern tradition, 100 or 110 years before Dharmâsoka, i.e. 270 + 100 or + 110 = 370 or 380[3]; while, according to the southern

    [1. Westergaard. loc. cit. p. 128.

    2. Jaartelling der Zuidelijke Buddhisten, 1873.

    3. See Professor Kern's remark in Indian Antiquary, 1874, p. 79.]

    p. xxxviii tradition, that 118 years elapsed between Asoka's accession and Buddha's death, the Ceylonese monks would seem originally to have retained 270 + 118[1] = 388 B.C. as Buddha's Nirvâna, a date which, as Professor Kern holds, happens to coincide with the date assigned to the death of Mahâvira, the founder of the Gaina religion.

       Here we see again that the moot point is the beginning of Kandragupta's reign in accordance with the information supplied by Greek historians. Professor Kern places it in 322, Westergaard in 320, I myself in 315. That difference once granted, Dr. Kern's reasoning is the same as my own. According to the traditions which we follow, Buddha's death took place 100, 110, 118, or 228 years before Asoka. Hence Professor Westergaard arrives at 368 or 370 B.C., Professor Kern at 370 (380) or 388 B.C., I myself at 477 B.C. Every one of these dates is liable to certain objections, and if I prefer my own date, 477 B. C., it is simply because it seems to me liable to neither more nor less reservations than those of Professor Westergaard and Professor Kern, and because, so long as we always remember the grounds of our differences, namely, the beginning of Kandragupta's reign, and the additional century, every one of these dates furnishes a good hypothesis to work on, until we can arrive at greater certainty in the ancient chronology of India. To my mind all dates beyond Kandragupta are as yet purely tentative, resting far more on a chronological theory than on actual tradition; and though I do not doubt the historical chatacter of the Council of Vaisâlî, I look upon the date assigned to it, on the authority of the Dîpavamsa and Mahâvamsa, as, for the present, hypothetical only.

    [1. When Professor Kern states that the Mahâvamsa (p. 22) places the Third Council 218 years after Buddha's death, this is not so. Asoka's abhisheka takes place in that year. The prophecy that a calamity would befall their religion, 118 years after the Second Council (Mahâvamsa, p. 28), does not refer to the Council, but to Kandâsoka's accession, 477 - 218 = 259 B.C.]

    p. xxxix



    Buddha born.


    Bimbisâra born.


    Bimbisâra, 5 years younger than Buddha, was 15 when crowned, 30 or 31 when he met Buddha in 522.


    Agâtasatru (4 × 8 years).


    Buddha's death (485 - 8 = 477).


    COUNCIL AT RÂGAGRIHA under Kâsyapa, Ânanda, and Upâli.


    Udâyibhadra (2 × 8 years).



    Anuruddhaka (8 years).

    Munda (at Pâtaliputra).


    Nâgadâsaka (3 × 8 years).


    Sisunâga (at Vaisâlî).




    COUNCIL AT VAISÂLÎ, under Yasas and Revata, a disciple of Ânanda (259 + 118 = 377).


    Ten sons of Kâlâsoka (22 years).


    Nine Nandas (22 years); the last, Dhanananda, killed by Kânakya.


    Kandragupta (477 - 162 = 315; 3 × 8 years)[1].




    Asoka, sub-king at Uggayinî, as pretender--his brothers killed.


    Asoka anointed at Pâtaliputra (477 - 218 = 259).


    Asoka converted by Nigrodha (D. V. VI, 18).


    Building of Vihâras, Sthûpas, &c.


    Conversion of Tishya (M. V. p. 34).


    Ordination of Mahendra (born 477 - 204 = 273).


    Tishya and Sumitra die (D. V. VII, 32).


    COUNCIL AT PÂTALIPUTRA (259 - 17 = 242; 477 - 236 = 271), under Tishya Maudgalîputra (477 - 236 = 241; D.V. VII, 37).


    Mahendra to Ceylon.


    Asoka died (259 - 37 = 222).


    Mahendra died (D. V. XVII, 93).




    Vattagâmani, canon reduced to writing.






    Buddhaghosha, Pâli commentaries.



    [1. Westergaard, 320-296; Kern, 322-298.]

    p. xl

       Though the preceding table, embodying in the main the results at which I arrived in my History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, still represents what I hold to be true or most probable with respect to Indian chronology, previous to the beginning of our era, yet I suppose I may be expected to say here a few words on the two latest attempts to fix the date of Buddha's death; the one by Mr. Rhys Davids in the Numismata Orientalia, Part VI, 1877, the other by Dr. Bühler in the Indian Antiquary, 1877 and 1878[1]. Mr. Rhys Davids, to whom we owe so much for the elucidation of the history of Buddha's religion, accepts Westergaard's date for the beginning of Kandragupta's reign, 320 B.C., instead of 322 (Kern), 315 (myself); and as he assigns (p. 41) to Bindusâra 25 years instead of 28 (Mahâvamsa, p. 21), he arrives at 268 as the year of Asoka's coronation[2]. He admits that the argument derived from the mention of the five foreign kings in one of Asoka's inscriptions, dated the twelfth year of his reign, is too precarious to enable us to fix the date of Asoka's reign more definitely, and though, in a general way, that inscription confirms the date assigned by nearly all scholars to Asoka in the middle of the third century B.C., yet there is nothing in it that Asoka might not have written in 247 quite as well as in 258-261. What chiefly distinguishes Mr. Rhys Davids' chronology from that of his predecessors is the shortness of the period between Asoka's coronation and Buddha's death. On the strength of an examination of the list of kings and the list of the so-called patriarchs, he reduces the traditional 218 years to 140 or 150, and thus arrives at 412 B.C. as the probable beginning of the Buddhist era.

       In this, however, I cannot follow him, but have to follow Dr. Bühler. As soon as I saw Dr. Bühler's first essay on the Three New Edicts of Asoka, I naturally felt delighted at the unexpected confirmation which he furnished of the date which I had assigned to Buddha's death, 477 B.C. And though I am quite aware of the

    [1. Three New Edicts of Asoka, Bombay, 1877; Second Notice, Bombay, 1878.

    2. Mr. Rhys Davids on p. 50 assigns the 35 years of Bindusâra rightly to the Purânas, the 38 years to the Ceylon Chronicles.]

    p. xli danger of unexpected confirmations of one's own views, yet, after carefully weighing the objections raised by Mr. Rhys Davids and Professor Pischel against Dr. Bühler's arguments, I cannot think that they have shaken Dr. Bühler's position. I fully admit the difficulties in the phraseology of these inscriptions: but I ask, Who could have written these inscriptions, if not Asoka? And how, if written by Asoka, can the date which they contain mean anything but 256 years after Buddha's Nirvâna? These points, however, have been argued in so masterly a manner by Dr. Bühler in his 'Second Notice,' that I should be afraid of weakening his case by adding anything of my own, and must refer my readers to his 'Second Notice.' Allowing that latitude which, owing to the doubtful readings of MSS., and the constant neglect of odd months, we must allow in the interpretation of Buddhist chronology, Asoka is the only king we know of who could have spoken of a thirty-fourth year since the beginning of his reign and since his conversion to Buddhism. And if he calls that year, say the very last of his reign (212 B.C.), 256 after the departure of the Master, we have a right to say that as early as Asoka's time, Buddha was believed to have died about 477 B.C. Whether the inscriptions have been accurately copied and rightly read is, however, a more serious question, and the doubts raised by Dr. Oldenberg (Mahâvagga, p. xxxviii) make a new collation of the originals absolutely indispensable, before we can definitely accept Dr. Bühler's interpretation.

       I cannot share Dr. Bühler's opinion[1] as to the entire worthlessness of the Gaina chronology in confirming the date of Buddha's death. If the Svetâmbara Gainas place the death of Mahâvîra 470 before Vikramâditya, i.e. 56 B.C. + 470 = 526 B.C.,and the Digambaras 605, i.e. 78 A.D. deducted from 605 = 527 B.C., this so far confirms Dr. Bühler's and Dr. Jacobi's brilliant discovery that Mahâvîra was the same as Nigantha Nâtaputta, who died at Pâvâ during Buddha's lifetime[2]. Most likely 527 is too early a date, while another

    [1. Three Edicts. p. 21; Second Notice. pp. 9, 10.

    2. See Jacobi, Kalpa-sûtra of Bhadrabâhu, and Oldenberg, Zeitschrift der D.M.G., XXXIV, p. 749.]

    p. xlii tradition fixing Mahâvira's death 155 years before Kandragupta[1], 470 B.C., is too late. Yet they both show that the distance between Asoka (259-222 B.C.), the grandson of Kandragupta (315-291 B.C.), and the contemporaries of Buddha was by the Gainas also believed to be one of two rather than one century.

       When I saw that the date of Buddha's death, 477 B.C., which in my History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature (1859) I had myself tried to support by such arguments as were then accessible, had received so powerful a support by the discovery of the inscriptions of Sahasrâm, Rûpnâth, and Bairât, due to General Cunningham, who had himself always been an advocate of the date 477 B.C., and through their careful decipherment by Dr. Bühler, I lost no time in testing that date once more by the Dîpavamsa, that Ceylonese chronicle having lately become accessible through Dr. Oldenberg's edition and translation[2]. And here I am able to say that, before having read Dr. Bühler's Second Notice, I arrived, though by a somewhat different way, at nearly the same conclusions as those so well worked out by Dr. Bühler in his restoration of the Episcopal Succession (therâvali) of the Buddhists, and therefore feel convinced that, making all such allowances as the case requires, we know now as much of early Buddhist chronology as could be known at the time of Asoka's Council, 242 B.C.

       Taking the date of Buddha's death 477 B.C. for granted, I found that Upâli, who rehearsed the Vinaya at the First Council, 477 B.C., had been in orders sixty years in the twenty-fourth year of Agâtasatru, i.e. 461 B.C., which was the sixteenth year A.B. He must therefore[3] have been born in 541 B.C., and he died 447 B.C., i.e. thirty years A.D., at the age of 94. This is said to have been the sixth year of Udâyi, and so it is, 453 - 6 = 447 B.C.

       In the year 461 B.C. Dâsaka received orders from Upâli, who was then 80 years of age; and when Dâsaka had been

    [1. Oldenberg, loc. cit. p. 750.

    2. The Dîpavamsa, an ancient Buddhist historical record. London, 1879.

    3. Assuming twenty to be the minimum age at which a man could be ordained.]

    p. xliii in orders forty-five years (Dîpavamsa IV, 41), he ordained Saunaka. This would give us 461 - 45 = 416 B.C., while the tenth year of Nâgadâsa, 429 - 10, would give us 419 A.D. Later on the Dîpavamsa (V, 78) allows an interval of forty years between the ordinations of Dâsaka and Saunaka, which would bring the date of Saunaka's ordination to 421 B.C., instead of 419 or 416 B.C. Here there is a fault which must be noted. Dâsaka died 461 - 64 = 397 A.D., which is called the eighth year of Sisunâga, and so it is 405 - 8 = 397 A.D.

       When Saunaka had been in orders forty years, i.e. 416 - 40 = 376, Kâlâsoka is said to have reigned a little over ten years, i.e. 387 - 11 = 376 A.D., and in that year Saunaka ordained Siggava. He died 416 - 66 = 350 A.D., which is called the sixth year of the Ten, while in reality it is the ninth, 359 - 6 = 353 A.D. If, however, we take 419 as the year of Saunaka's ordination, his death would fall 419 - 66 = 353 B.C.

       Siggava, when he had been in orders sixty-four years, ordained Tishya Maudgalîputra. This date 376 - 64 = 312 B.C. is called more than two years after Kandragupta's accession, and so it very nearly is, 315 - 2 = 313.

       Siggava died when he had been in orders seventy-six years, i.e. 376 - 76 = 300 A.D. This year is called the fourteenth year of Kandragupta, which it very nearly is, 315 - 14 = 301.

       When Tishya had been in orders sixty[1] years, he ordained Mahendra, 312 - 60 = 252 B.C. This is called six years after Asoka's coronation, 259 - 6 = 253, and so it very nearly is. He died 312 - 80 = 232 B.C., which is called the twenty-sixth year of Asoka, and so it very nearly is.

    [1. I take 60 (80), as given in Dîpavamsa V, 95, 107, instead of 66 (86), given in Dîpavamsa V. 94.]

    p. xliv



    {not all of the formatting could be reproduced in this table; all cells with three number are joined with a brace on the right in the original}


    Ordination. Ordination of
    Death. Age. Patriarchate.


    20 years























      44 (47)










      50 (52)






















    282 (284)

       If we test the dates of this table by the length of time assigned to each patriarchate, we find that Upâli ruled thirty years, from Buddha's death, 477 to 447; Dâsaka fifty years. To Saunaka forty-four years are assigned, instead of forty-seven, owing to a fault pointed out before; and to Siggava fifty-two years, or fifty-five[1] instead of fifty. Tishya's patriarchate is said to have lasted sixty-eight years, which agrees with previous statements.

       Lastly, the years of the death of the six patriarchs, as fixed according to the reigns of the kings of Magadha, agree extremely well.

       Upâli died in the sixth year of Udâyi, i.e. 453 - 6 = 447 B.C.

       Dâsaka died in the eighth year of Sisunâga, i.e. 405 - 8 = 397 B.C.

       Saunaka died in the sixth year of the Ten, i.e. 359 - 6 = 353 B.C., showing again the difference of three years.

    [1. The combined patriarchates of Saunaka and Siggava are given as 99 by the Dîpavamsa.]

    p. xlv

       Siggava died in the fourteenth year of Kandragupta, i.e. 315 - 14 = 301 B.C.

       Tishya died in the twenty-sixth or twenty-seventh year of Asoka, i.e. 259 - 27 = 233 B.C.

       This general and more than general agreement between dates taken from the history of the kings and the history of the patriarchs leaves on my mind a decided impression of a tradition which, though not strictly historical, in our sense of the word, represents at all events the result of such enquiries as could be made into the past ages of Buddhism at the time of Asoka. There are difficulties in that tradition which would certainly have been avoided, if the whole chronology had been simply made up: but there is no doubt a certain method too perceptible throughout, which warns us that we must not mistake a smooth chronology for solid history.



       The title of Dhammapada has been interpreted in various ways. It is an ambiguous word, and has been accepted as such by the Buddhists themselves. Dhamma has many meanings. Under one aspect it means religion, particularly the religion taught by Buddha, the law which every Buddhist should accept and observe. Under another aspect dhamma is virtue, or the realisation of the law.

       Pada also has many meanings. In the Abhidhânapadîpikâ it is explained by place, protection, Nirvâna, cause, word, thing, portion, foot, footstep.

       Hence dhammapada may mean 'footstep of religion,' and thus the title was first rendered by Gogerly, only that he used the plural instead of the singular, and called it 'The Footsteps of Religion,' while Spence Hardy still more freely called it 'The Paths of Religion.' It may be quite true, as pointed out by Childers, that pada by itself never means path. But it means footstep, and the footstep towards a thing is much the same as what we call the path to a thing. Thus we read, verse 21, 'appamâdo amatapadam,' earnestness is the step, i.e. the path that leads to immortality. p. xlvi Again, 'pamâdo makkuno padam' can hardly mean anything but that thoughtlessness is the path of death, is the path that leads to death. The commentator, too, rightly explains it here by amatasya adhigamupâya, the means of obtaining immortality, i.e. Nirvâna, or simply by upâyo, and even by maggo, the way. If we compare verses 92 and 93 of our text, and verses 254 and 255, we see that pada is used synonymously with gati, going. In the same manner dhammapada would mean the footstep or the footpath of virtue, i.e. the path that leads to virtue, and supply a very appropriate title for a collection of moral precepts. In verses 44 and 45 'path of virtue' seems to be the most appropriate meaning for dhammapada[1], and it is hardly possible to assign any other meaning to it in the following verse (Kundasutta, v. 6):

    Yo dhammapade sudesite
    Magge gîvati saññato satimâ,
    Anavagga-padâni sevamâno
    Tatîyam bhikkhum âhu maggagîvim,

    'He who lives restrained and attentive in the way that has been well pointed out, in the path of the law, cultivating blameless words, such a Bhikkhu they call a Maggagîvi (living in the way).'

       I therefore think that 'Path of Virtue,' or 'Footstep of the Law,' was the idea most prominent in the mind of those who originally framed the title of this collection of verses. It seems to me that Buddhaghosa also took the same view, for the verse which D'Alwis[2] quotes from the introduction of Buddhaghosa's commentary,--

    Sampatta-saddhammapado satthâ dhammapadam subham Desesi,

    and which he translates, 'The Teacher who had reached the very depths (lit. bottom) of Saddhamma, preached this holy Dhammapada,'--lends itself far better to another translation, viz. 'The Teacher who had gained a firm

    [1. Cf. Dhammapada, v. 285, nibbânam sugatena desitam.

    2. Buddhist Nirvâna, p. 62.]

    p. xlvii footing in the Good Law, showed (preached) the holy Path of the Law.'

       Gogerly, again, who may generally be taken as a faithful representative of the tradition of the Buddhists still preserved in Ceylon, translates the title by the 'Footsteps of Religion,' so that there can be little doubt that the priests of that island accept Dhammapada in the sense of 'Vestiges of Religion,' or, from a different point of view, 'The Path of Virtue.'

       M. L. Feer[1] takes a slightly different view, and assigning to pada the meaning of foot or base, he translates Dhammapada by Loi fondamentale, or Base de la Religion.

       But it cannot be denied that the title of Dhammapada was very soon understood in a different sense also, namely, as 'Sentences of Religion.' Pada means certainly a foot of a verse, a verse, or a line, and dhammapadam actually occurs in the sense of a 'religious sentence.' Thus we read in verse 102, 'Though a man recite a hundred Gâthâs made up of senseless words, one dhammapadam, i.e. one single word or line of the law, is better, which if a man hears, he becomes quiet.' But here we see at once the difficulty of translating the title of 'dhammapadam' by 'religious sentences.' Dhammapadam means one law verse, or wise saw, not many. Professor Fausböll, who in his excellent edition of the Dhammapada translated that title by 'a collection of verses on religion,' appeals to such passages as verses 44 and 102 in support of his interpretation. But in verse 42 dhammapadam sudesitam, even if it does not mean the path of the law, could never mean 'versus legis bene enarratos,' but only versum legis bene enarratum, as Dr. Fausböll himself renders ekam dhammapadam, in verse 102, by unus legis versus. Buddhaghosa, too, when he speaks of many law verses uses the plural, for instance[2], 'Be it known that the Gâthâ consists of the Dhammapadâni, Theragâthâ, Therîgâthâ, and those unmixed (detached) Gâthâ not comprehended in any of the above-named Suttânta.'

    [1. Revue Critique, 1870, p. 378.

    2. D'Alwis, Pâli Grammar, p. 61.]

    p. xlviii

       The only way in which Dhammapada could be defended in the sense of 'Collection of Verses of the Law,' would be if we took it for an aggregate compound. But such aggregate compounds, in Sanskrit at least, are possible with numerals only; for instance, tribhuvanam, the three worlds; katuryugam, the four ages[1]. It might therefore be possible in Pâli, too, to form such compounds as dasapadam, a collection of ten padas, a work consisting of ten padas, a decamerone, but it would in no wise follow that we could in that language attempt such a compound as Dhammapadam, in order to express a collection of law verses[2]. Mr. Beal[3] informs us that the Chinese seem to have taken Dhammapada in the sense of 'stanzas of law,' 'law texts,' or 'scripture texts.'

       It should be remembered, also, that the idea of representing life, and particularly the life of the faithful, as a path of duty or virtue leading to deliverance, (in Sanskrit dharmapatha,) is very familiar to Buddhists. The four great truths of their religion[4] consist in the recognition of the following principles: 1. that there is suffering; 2. that there is a cause of that suffering; 3. that such cause can be removed; 4. that there is a way of deliverance, viz. the doctrine of Buddha. This way is the ashtânga-mârga, the eightfold way[5], taught by Buddha, and leading to Nirvâna[6]. The faithful advances on that road, padât padam,

    [1. See M. M.'s Sanskrit Grammar, § 519.

    2. Mr. D'Alwis' arguments (Buddhist Nirvâna, pp. 63-67) in support of this view, viz. the dhammapada may be a collective term, do not seem to me to strengthen my own conjecture.

    3. Dhammapada from Chinese, p. 4.

    4. Spence Hardy, Manual, p. 496.

    5. Burnouf, Lotus, p. 520, 'Ajoutons, pour terminer ce que nous trouvons à dire sur le mot magga, quelque commentaire qu'on en donne d'ailleurs, que suivant une définition rapportée par Turnour, le magga renferme une sous-division que l'on nomme patipadâ, en sanscrit pratipad. Le magga, dit Tumour, est la voie qui conduit au Nibbâna, la patipadâ, littéralement "la marche pas à pas, ou le degré," est la vie de rectitude qu'on doit suivre, quand on marche dans la voie du magga.'

    6. See Spence Hardy, Manual, p. 496. Should not katurvidha-dharmapada, mentioned on p. 497, be translated by 'the fourfold path of the Law?' It can hardly be the fourfold word of the Law.]

    p. xlix step by step, and it is therefore called patipadâ, lit. the step by step.

       If we make allowance for these ambiguities, inherent in the name of Dhammapada, we may well understand how the Buddhists themselves play with the word pada (see v. 45). Thus we read in Mr. Beal's translation of a Chinese version of the Prâtimoksha[1]:

    'Let all those who desire such birth,
    Who now are living in the world,
    Guard and preselve these Precepts, as feet.'



       In translating the verses of the Dhammapada, I have followed the edition of the Pâli text, published in 1855 by Dr. Fausböll, and I have derived great advantage from his Latin translation, his notes, and his copious extracts from Buddhaghosa's commentary. I have also consulted translations, either of the whole of the Dhammapada, or of portions of it, by Burnouf, Gogerly[2], Upham, Weber, and others. Though it will be seen that in many places my translation differs from those of my predecessors, I can only claim for myself the name of a very humble gleaner in this field of Pâli literature. The greatest credit is due to Dr. Fausböll, whose editio princeps of the Dhammapada will mark for ever an important epoch in the history of Pâli scholarship; and though later critics have been able to point out some mistakes, both in his text and in his translation, the value of their labours is not to be compared with that of the work accomplished single-handed by that eminent Danish scholar.

       In revising my translation, first published in 1870[3], for

    [1. Catena, p. 207.

    2. Several of the chapters have been translated by Mr. Gogerly, and have appeared in The Friend, vol. iv, 1840. (Spence Hardy, Eastern Monachism, p. 169.)

    3. Buddhaghosha's Parables, translated from Burmese by Captain T. Rogers, R. E. With an Introduction, containing Buddha's Dhammapada, translated from Pâli by F. Max Müller. London, 1870.]

    p. l the Sacred Books of the East, I have been able to avail myself of 'Notes on Dhammapada,' published by Childers in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (May, 1871), and of valuable hints as to the meaning of certain words and verses scattered about in the Pâli Dictionary of that much regretted scholar, 1875. I have carefully weighed the remarks of Mr. James D'Alwis in his 'Buddhist Nirvâna, a review of Max Müller's Dhammapada' (Colombo, 1871), and accepted some of his suggestions. Some very successful renderings of a number of verses by Mr. Rhys Davids in his ('Buddhism,' and a French translation, too, of the Dhammapada, published by Fernand Hû[1], have been consulted with advantage.

       It was hoped for a time that much assistance for a more accurate understanding of this work might be derived from a Chinese translation of the Dhammapada[2], of which Mr. S. Beal published an English translation in 1878. But this hope has not been entirely fulfilled. It was, no doubt, a discovery of great interest, when Mr. Beal announced that the text of the Dhammapada was not restricted to the southern Buddhists only, but that similar collections existed in the north, and had been translated into Chinese. It was equally important when Schiefner proved the existence of the same work in the sacred canon of the Tibetans. But as yet neither a Chinese nor a Tibetan translation of the Pâli Dhammapada has been rendered accessible to us by translations of these translations into English or German, and what we have received instead, cannot make up for what we had hoped for.

       The state of the case is this. There are, as Mr. Beal informs us, four principal copies of what may be called Dhammapada in Chinese, the first dating from the Wu dynasty, about the beginning of the third century A.D. This translation, called Fa-kheu-king, is the work of a

    [1. Le Dhammapada avec introduction et notes par Fernand Hû, suivi du Sutra en 42 articles, traduit du Tibetain, par Léon Feer. Paris, 1878.

    2. Texts from the Buddhist Canon, commonly known as Dhammapada, translated from the Chinese by Samuel Beal. London, 1878.]

    p. li Shaman Wei-ki-lan and others. Its title means 'the Sûtra of Law verses,' kheu being explained by gâthâ, a verse, a word which we shall meet with again in the Tibetan title, Gâthâsangraha. In the preface the Chinese translator states that the Shamans in after ages copied from the canonical scriptures various gâthâs, some of four lines and some of six, and attached to each set of verses a title, according to the subject therein explained. This work of extracting and collecting is ascribed to Tsun-ke-Fa-kieou, i.e. Ârya-Dharmatrâta, the author of the Samyuktâbhidharma-sâstra and other works, and the uncle of Vasumitra. If this Vasumitra was the patriarch who took a prominent part in the Council under Kanishka, Dharmatrâta's collection would belong to the first century B.C.; but this is, as yet, very doubtful.

       In the preface to the Fa-kheu-king we are told that the original, which consisted of 500 verses, was brought from India by Wai-ki-lan in 223 A.D., and that it was translated into Chinese with the help of another Indian called Tsiang-sin. After the translation was finished, thirteen sections were added, making up the whole to 752 verses, 14,580 words, and 39 chapters[1].

       If the Chinese translation is compared with the Pâli text, it appears that the two agree from the 9th to the 35th chapter (with the exception of the 33rd), so far as their subjects are concerned, though the Chinese has in these chapters 79 verses more than the Pâli. But the Chinese translation has eight additional chapters in the beginning (viz. On Intemperance, Inciting to Wisdom; The Srâvaka, Simple Faith, Observance of Duty, Reflection, Loving-kindness, Conversation), and four at the end (viz. Nirvâna, Birth and Death, Profit of Religion, and Good Fortune), and one between the 24th and 25th chapter of the Pâli text (viz. Advantageous Seivice), all of which are absent in our Pâli texts. This, the most ancient

    [1. Beal, Dhammapada, p. 30. The real number of verses, however, is 760. In the Pâli text, too, there are five verses more than stated in the Index; see M.M., Buddhaghosha's Parables, p. ix, note; Beal, loc. cit. p. 11. note.]

    p. lii Chinese translation of Dharmatrâta's work, has not been rendered into English by Mr. Beal, but he assures us that it is a faithful reproduction of the original. The book which he has chosen for translation is the Fa-kheu-pi-ü, i.e. parables connected with the Dhammapada, and translated into Chinese by two Shamans of the western Tsin dynasty (A.D. 265-313). These parables are meant to illustrate the teaching of the verses, like the parables of Buddhaghosa, but they are not the same parables, nor do they illustrate all the verses.

       A third Chinese version is called Kuh-yan-king, i.e. the Sûtra of the Dawn (avadâna?), consisting of seven volumes. Its author was Dharmatrâta, its translator Ku-fo-nien (Buddhasmriti), about 410 A.D. The MS. of the work is said to have been broght from India by a Shaman Sanghabhadanga of Kipin (Cabul), about 345 A.D. It is a much more extensive work in 33 chapters, the last being, as in the Pâli text, on the Brâhmana.

       A fourth translation dates from the Sung dynasty (800 or 900 A.D.), and in it, too, the authorship of the text is ascribed to Ârya-Dharmatrâta.

       A Tibetan translation of a Dhammapada was discovered by Schiefner in the 28th volume of the Sûtras, in the collection called Udânavarga. It contains 33 chapters, and more than 1000 verses, of which about one-fourth only can be traced in the Pâli text. The same collection is found also in the Tangur, vol. 71 of the Sûtras, foll. 1-53, followed by a commentary, the Udânavarga-vivarana by the Âkârya Praâvarman. Unfortunately Schiefner's intention of publishing a translation of it (Mélanges Asiatiques, tom. viii. p. 560) has been frustrated by his death. All that he gives us in his last paper is the Tibetan text with translation of another shorter collection, the Gâthâsangraha by Vasubandhu, equally published in the 72nd volume of the Sûtras in the Tangur, and accompanied by a commentary.

    p. liii



       I had on a former occasion[1] pleaded so strongly in favour of retaining, as much as possible, the original Sanskrit forms of Pâli Buddhist terms, that I feel bound to confess openly that I hold this opinion no longer, or, at all events, that I see it is hopeless to expect that Pâli scholars will accept my proposal. My arguments were these: 'Most of the technical terms employed by Buddhist writers come from Sanskrit; and in the eyes of the philologist the various forms which they have assumed in Pâli, in Burmese, in Tibetan, in Chinese, in Mongolian, are only so many corruptions of the same original forms. Everything, therefore, would seem to be in favour of retaining the Sanskrit forms throughout, and of writing, for instance, Nirvâna instead of the Pâli Nibbâna, the Burmese Niban or Nepbhân, the Siamese Niruphan, the Chinese Nipan. The only hope, in fact, that writers on Buddhism will ever arrive at a uniform and generally intelligible phraseology seems to lie in their agreeing to use throughout the Sanskrit terms in their original form, instead of the various local disguises and disfigurements which they present in Ceylon, Burmah, Siam, Tibet, China, and Mongolia.'

       I fully admitted that many Buddhist words have assumed such a strongly marked local or national character in the different countries and in the different languages in which the religion of Buddha has found a new home, that to translate them back into Sanskrit might seem as affected, nay, prove in certain cases as misleading, as if, in speaking of priests and kings, we were to speak of presbyters and cynings. The rule by which I meant mainly to be guided was to use the Sanskrit forms as much as possible; in fact, everywhere except where it seemed affected to do so. I therefore wrote Buddhaghosha instead of the Pâli Buddhaghosa, because the name of that famous theologian, 'the Voice of Buddha,' seemed to lose its significance if turned

    [1. Introduction to Buddhaghosha's Parables, 1870. p. l.]

    p. liv into Buddhaghosa. But I was well aware what may be said on the other side. The name of Buddhaghosa, 'Voice of Buddha,' was given him after he had been converted from Brahmanism to Buddhism, and it was given to him by people to whom the Pâli word ghosa conveyed the same meaning as ghosha does to us. On the other hand, I retained the Pâli Dhammapada instead of Dharmapada, simply because, as the title of a Pâli book, it has become so familiar that to speak of it as Dharmapada seemed like speaking of another work. We are accustomed to speak of Samanas instead of Sramanas, for even in the days of Alexander's conquest, the Sanskrit word Sramana had assumed the prakritized or vulgar form which we find in Pâli, and which alone could have been rendered by the later Greek writers (first by Alexander Polyhistor, 80-60 B.C.) by {Greek: samanaioi}[1]. As a Buddhist term, the Pâli form Samana has so entirely supplanted that of Sramana that, even in the Dhammapada (v. 388), we find an etymology of Samana as derived from sam, 'to be quiet,' and not from sram, 'to toil.' But if we speak of Samanas, we ought also to speak of Bâhmanas instead of Brâhmanas, for this word had been replaced by bâhmana at so early a time, that in the Dhammapada it is derived from a root vah, 'to remove, to separate, to cleanse[2].'

       I still believe that it would be best if writers on Buddhist literature and religion were to adopt Sanskrit throughout as the lingua franca. For an accurate understanding of the original meaning of most of the technical terms of Buddhism a knowledge of their Sanskrit form is indispensable; and nothing is lost, while much would be gained, if, even in the treating of southern Buddhism, we were to

    [1. See Lassen, Indische Alterthumskunde, vol. ii. p. 700, note. That Lassen is right in taking the {Greek: Sarmanai}, mentioned by Megasthenes, for Brahmanic, not for Buddhist ascetics, might be proved also by their dress. Dresses made of the bark of trees are not strictly Buddhistic.

    2. See Dhammapada, v. 388; Bastian. Völker des östlichen Asien, vol iii. p. 412: 'Ein buddhistischer Mönch erklärte mir, dass die Brahmanen ihren Namen führten, als Leute, die ihre Sünden abgespült hätten.' See also Lalita-Vistara, p. 551, line 1; p. 553, line 7.]

    p. lv speak of the town of Srâvastî instead of Sâvatthi in Pâli, Sevet in Sinhalese; of Tripitaka, 'the three baskets,' instead of Tipitaka in Pâli, Tunpitaka in Sinhalese; of Arthakathâ, 'commentary,' instead of Atthakathâ in Pâli, Atuwâva in Sinhalese; and therefore also of Dharmapada, 'the path of virtue,' instead of Dhammapada.

       But inclinations are stronger than arguments. Pâli scholars prefer their Pâli terms, and I cannot blame them for it. Mr. D'Alwis (Buddhist Nirvâna, p. 68) says: 'It will be seen how very difficult it is to follow the rule rigidly. We are, therefore, inclined to believe that in translating Pâli works, at least, much inconvenience may not be felt by the retention of the forms of the language in which the Buddhist doctrines were originally delivered.' For the sake of uniformity, therefore, I have given up my former plan. I use the Pâli forms when I quote from Pâli, but I still prefer the Sanskrit forms, not only when I quote from Sanskrit Buddhist books, but also when I have to speak of Buddhism in general. I speak of Nirvâna, dharma, and bhikshu, rather than of Nibbâna, dhamma, and bhikkhu, when discussing the meaning of these words without special reference to southern Buddhism; but when treating of the literature and religion of the Theravâda school I must so far yield to the arguments of Pâli scholars as to admit that it is but fair to use their language when speaking of their opinions.

    Next: Chapter I. The Twin-Verses.