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was the first European to penetrate the deepest secrets of the Brahmins. 33
If the essence of Shamanism consists in the performance of some form of sorcery which rules the powers held to be divine, and extorts from them the fulfilment of a desire, or the disclosure of future events, it is obviously indifferent whether the method employed consists in shaking a rattle, in sacrifice, prayers, fastings, penances, or in the interrogation of the entrails of animals or the flight of birds. All nations have succumbed to this illusion; few have entirely shaken it off. It survives in full strength in America, in Siberia, in Buddhist Asia, in Brahminical India, under the various forms of the Amulet of the Mahommedans, the trial by ordeal, the rain-making of the Africans, and the Nahak tricks of the Papuans. We, ourselves, have only lately abolished trials for witchcraft. The great Kepler was obliged to return to his Suabian home in order to rescue his aged mother from death by fire, with which Protestant Shamanists were threatening her. From all this it is manifest that the moral education of mankind by means of religion has nowhere encountered greater dangers than from Shamanistic delusion. When any symbolical act is supposed to possess a supernatural effect, the rite is placed, like Brahma, higher than the deities.
XI. THE DOCTRINE OF BUDDHA.
THE Aryans spread themselves over the Punjaub and the plain of the Ganges at the expense of a barbarian aboriginal population, which they excelled in mental endowments and physical beauty. The possession of these advantages characteristic of the race, led to the prohibition by Manu's legislation of mixed marriages, and to the most uncharitable regulations of caste. The priests, as the initiated, had, as we have seen, exalted the knowledge of the Shamanistic practices, of prayers and sacrifices, into a power superior to the old gods, who. were reduced to the subordinate
33 Martin Haug, Brahme und die Brahmanen.
Vedanta and Sankhja.
office of guardians of the world. Brahma, in its oldest historical sense, means prayer,1 and the Brahmins were originally called the people who pray. Brahma subsequently appeared, in an anthropomorphic aspect, as the god of prayer, and later still as the creator of the world. The priest had now the task of distorting the doctrines of the Vedas by skilful interpretation into conformity with the tenet of the transmigration of souls, taught by religious philosophy in the Brahminical books of ritual.2
Brahma, or the universal soul, was proclaimed to be the only real existence, while the world perceptible to the senses was an illusion, the work of Maja, or deception, and unsubstantial as the image of the moon reflected by calm waters. To see through this illusion, to proclaim that the world is nothing, to hail Brahma as the only existence, as Thou, to acknowledge Self as one with him, implied the liberation of the Ego from the illusions of the world of the senses, and reabsorption into Brahma. Like this doctrine of the Vedântâ, the Sankhja philosophy looked for the release of the human soul from its incarceration in the body, and regarded all objects of perception as illusions, but it expected liberation not by absorption into the Deity, but by a withdrawal of the soul into itself, and an alienation from the world of matter. The great maxim of the Vedântâ was, I am the The, I am Brahma; the Sankhja school, on the contrary, said, I am not the The (Nature).3
The people of India held, and still hold, to the conception of the indestructibility of the soul. A tendency to melancholy and weariness of life has existed in them from the earliest times. A never-ending series of transmigrations of the soul threatened them at every step. There are very few among ourselves sufficiently happy to care to begin their own lives anew with their disillusions and hours of dejection. In the words of the apostle, the creature groaneth for deliverance. The Hindoo was tortured and oppressed by the idea of a perpetual and unavoidable renewal of his present existence; the eternally revolving wheel could never
J. Muir, Sanscrit Texts. London, 1872.
Duncker, Geschichte des Alterthums.
3 Köppen, Die Religion des Buddha. Berlin, 1857.
stop, and with his imagination disturbed by weird, numerical expressions, he looked out into an eternity, the horizon of which receded with each step which he himself took. Even the highest castes yearned for deliverance of the soul, but to the oppressed eternal existence seemed eternal torture.
According to the traditions handed down, Siddhartha, the son of Cuddhôdana, king of Kapilavastu, of the tribe of Gautama and the house of Sâkja, appeared in the sixth century B.C., bringing a hope of salvation to the Indian people. The sight of bodily evils, of sickness, age, and death, caused him to meditate how man could escape the misery of earthly existence. The doctrines of the Brahminical school did not satisfy him. He recognized the powerlessness of prayer, sacrifice, and penance. Even this destruction of Shamanistic errors would give him a high rank among the founders of religion. But it was not only to the initiated and as a mystery that he declared his doctrine, but, in complete contrast to the Brahminical system, he preached publicly and in the language of the people : 5 it was not to select castes, but to mankind in general that he addressed himself. Buddhism was at no time restricted to one nation, but has remained open to the whole world to the present day. Sákjamuni, which was the nickname given to the founder of a new religion, proclaimed, on the contrary, that his doctrine was a law of grace for all.6 The beautiful legend of his favourite scholar Ananda, closely resembling the story of the woman of Samaria, mentioned in the fourth Gospel, is well known. He asks for a draught from a girl of Chandâlâ, who is drawing water, and when she hesitates, fearing she might contaminate him by her touch, he says, “My sister, I do not ask what is thy caste or thy descent, I beg for water if thou canst give it me.”7 Another of the stories of Christ was foreshadowed in the legend of the poor man, who filled the alms-box of Buddha with a handful of flowers, though the rich could not accomplish it with ten thousand bushels; and again, by the story of the lamps which kings and chancellors had lighted in
Chr. Lassen, Indische Alterthumskunde.
Bournouf, Introduction au Buddhisme indien. 1844. 6 Ibid.
Life of Buddha.
honour of Buddha and which were extinguished, while the one brought by the poor woman burnt alone all through the night. Buddha's life, as we know it, was somewhat monotonous. By the renunciation of worldly power and the pleasures of the senses, bearing his alms-box in his hand, the Indian prince proved the sincerity of his doctrine of duty. He lived to an advanced age, and saw his ancestral city of Kapilavastu devastated by the enemy of his house. With Ananda he wandered in the starlight among the still smoking ruins, and stepping over the corpses of the slain, and the bodies of mutilated maidens in the streets, administered consolation to the dying. From thence he endeavoured to drag himself also to Kuçinagara, a distance of seventy miles, but, unable to reach the town, sank down under a çala tree not far from it, overcome by violent thirst. The death struggle soon set in, and he expired with the words, "Nothing is durable."9
The salvation contemplated by Buddha refers solely to the superstition of the transmigration of souls; salvation can therefore be found in this doctrine only by those who share in this superstition. Transmigration always results from criminality in a previous existence, so that sin is the origin of all earthly misery. By its adhesion to existence and its craving for it at death, the soul is forced into a new sphere. For on the extinction of life nothing remains of the soul but the sum of its good and evil works, and of the latter a new birth is the normal consequence.1°
The Buddhist view of the world, as it was taught by Sákjamuni himself, or perhaps only by his disciples, seems almost due to mental malady. Life itself appeared as the greatest of burdens, and to escape from its renewal, "to break through the eggshell," to escape the necessity of perpetual transmigrations, seemed salvation in the highest degree. The fundamental idea of Buddhism was comprised in the so-called four truths: that our misery is derived from existence; that this misery arises only from
8 Köppen, Die Religion des Buddha.
• O. Palladius, Das Leben Buddha's. Arbeiten der russ Gesandtschaft zu Peking. Berlin, 1858.
10 Köppen, Die Religion des Buddha.
continued connection with the world of the senses; that by shaking off this connection release from existence is obtained; and, lastly, that there is a way to such a release. This way to the' heights of Buddhism requires self-denial and unresisting absorption in one's self. The last and highest state which the righteous can attain is called Nirvâna, though it has always been disputed whether Nirvâna can be called a state. Buddha himself reached the Nirvâna by degrees. First, he experienced the sensation of liberation from sin, next, he destroyed the satisfaction of this feeling by a longing for the highest goal, then this longing was also reduced to complete indifference, with which however was mingled a satisfaction with the indifference itself. But this satisfaction was to disappear likewise, and happiness, pain, and memory were to be lost in infinite space or nothingness; but in nothingness he still preserved the consciousness of nothingness; finally, this also was extinguished in complete repose, undisturbed either by nothingness or by anything other than nothingness. The Nirvâna, or highest goal of Buddhism, as to the meaning of which the various sects are not agreed, was therefore originally and literally an extinction, a total annihilation which precluded any new birth. Hence the northern or neo-Buddhists went so far as to consider thought itself the root of ignorance, the admission of an idea as an obscuration of the intellect, and they looked for liberation from ignorance in the absence of thought."1
The moral doctrine of Buddha was thoroughly pure and chaste, in many ways harmonizing with the Christian system. First stands the prohibition against killing any living thing. This led to the abolition of capital punishment in India, at least, at the period at which Buddhism held the reins of government, but at the same time it prevented the extermination of predatory and parasitic animals. Respect for property, conjugal fidelity, truthfulness, avoidance of calumny, insult, or contempt, resistance of all covetous and envious emotions, of anger and vengeance, are enjoined on all believers. As in Christianity, the highest duty of the Buddhist is love to one's neighbours, but this term extends to all creatures, so that the erection and maintenance of refuges
11 Fr. Spiegel on Wassiljiew's Researches. Ausland, 1860.