Authorities On The Life Of The Buddha

Canonical Pāli (reached their present shape before the 4th century B.C.); episodes only, three of them long: (1) Birth; text in Majjhima Nikāya, ed. Trenckner and Chalmers (London, Pāli Text Society, 1888-1899), vol. iii. pp. 118-124; also in Anguttara Nikāya, ed. Morris and Hardy (Pāli Text Society, 1888-1900), vol. ii. pp. 130-132. (2) Adoration of the babe; old ballad; text in Sutta Nipāta, ed. Fausböll (Pāli Text Society, 1884), pp. 128-131; translation by the same in Sacred Books of the East (Oxford, 1881), vol. x. pp. 124-131. (3) Youth at home; text in Anguttara Nikāya, i. 145. (4) The going forth; old ballad; text in Sutta Nipata, pp. 70-74 (London, 1896), pp. 99-101; prose account in Dīgha Nikāya, ed. Rhys Davids and Carpenter (Pāli Text Society, 1890-1893), vol. i. p. 115, translated by Rhys Davids in Dialogues of the Buddha (Oxford, 1899), pp. 147-149. (5) First long episode; the going forth, years of study and penance, attainment of Nirvāna and Buddhahood, and conversion of first five converts; text in Majjhima, all together at ii. 93; parts repeated at i. 163-175, 240-249; ii. 212; Vinaya, ed.

Oldenberg (London, 1879-1883), vol. i. pp. 1-13. (6) Second long episode; from the conversation of the five down to the end of the first year of the teaching; text in Vinaya, i. 13-44, translated by Oldenberg in Vinaya Texts, i. 73-151. (7) Visit to Kapilavastu; text in Vinaya, i. 82; translation by Oldenberg in Vinaya Texts (Oxford, 1881-1885), vol. i. pp. 207-210. (8) Third long episode; the last days; text in Dīgha Nikāya (the Mahāparinibbāna Suttanta), vol. ii. pp. 72-168, translated by Rhys Davids in Buddhist Suttas (Oxford, 1881), pp. 1-136. Buddhist Sanskrit Texts: (i) Mahāvastu (probably 2nd century B.C.); edited by Senart (3 vols., Paris, 1882-1897), summary in French prefixed to each volume; down to the end of first year of the teaching. (2) Lalita Vistara (probably 1st century B.C.); edited by Mitra (Calcutta, 1877); translated into French by Foucaux (Paris, 1884); down to the first sermon. (3) Buddha Carita, by Ašvaghosha, probably 2nd century A.D. edited by Cowell (Oxford, 1892); translated by Cowell (Oxford, 1894, S.B.E. vol. xlix.); an elegant poem; stops just before the attainment of Buddhahood. (These three works reproduce and amplify the above episodes Nos. 1-6; they retain here and there a very old tradition as to arrangement of clauses or turns of expression.) Later Pāli: The commentary on the Jātaka, written probably in the 5th century A.D., gives a consecutive narrative, from the birth to the end of the second year of the teaching, based on the canonical texts, but much altered and amplified; edited by Fausböll in Jātaka, vol. i. (London, 1877), pp. 1-94; translated by Rhys Davids in Buddhist Birth Stories (London, 1880), pp. 1-133. Modern Works: (i) Tibetan; Life of the Buddha; episodes collected and translated by W. Woodville Rockhill (London, 1884), from Tibetan texts of the 9th and 10th centuries A.D. (2) Sinhalese; episodes collected and translated by Spence Hardy from Sinhalese texts of the 12th and later centuries, in Manual of Buddhism (London, 1897, 2nd edition), pp. 138-359. (3) Burmese: The Life or Legend of Gaudama (3rd edition, London, 1880), by the Right Rev. P. Bigandet, translated from a Burmese work of A.D. 1773. (The Burmese is, in its turn, a translation from a Pāli work of unknown date; it gives the whole life, and is the only consecutive biography we have.) (4) Kambojian: Pathama Sambodhian; translated into French by A. Leclère in Livres sacrés du Cambodge (Paris, 1906).

(T. W. R. D.)

[1] Note on the Date of the Buddha. - The now generally accepted date of the Buddha is arrived at by adding together two numbers, one being the date of the accession of Asoka to the throne, the second being the length of the interval between that date and that of the death of the Buddha. The first figure, that of the date of Asoka, is arrived at by the mention in one of his edicts of certain Greek kings, as then living. The dates of these last are approximately known; and arguing from these dates the date of Asoka's accession has been fixed by various scholars (at dates varying only by a difference of five years more or less) at about 270 B.C. The second figure, the total interval between Asoka's accession and the Buddha's death, is given in the Ceylon Chronicles as 218 years. Adding these two together, the date of the Buddha's death would be 488 B.C., and, as he was eighty years old at the time of his death, the date of his birth would be 568 B.C. The dates for his death and birth accepted in Burma, Siam and Ceylon are about half a century earlier, namely, 543 and 623 B.C., the difference being in the date of Asoka's accession. It will be seen that the dates as adopted in Europe are approximate only, and liable to correction if better data are obtainable.

The details of this chronological question are discussed at length in Professor Rhys Davids' Ancient Coins and Measures of Ceylon (London, 1877), where the previous discussions are referred to.

[2] See report of Rex. v. Neuhaus, Clerkenwell Sessions, September 15, 1906.

[3] The various legends of Mara are the subject of an exhaustive critical analysis in Windsisch's Mara and Buddha (Leipzig, 1895).

[4] Bigandet, p. 49; and compare Jataka, p. 67, line 27.

[5] Vinaya Texts, i. 97-99; cf. Jataka, vol. i. p. 82, lines 11-19.

[6] Samyutta, i. 105.

[7] Cf. Big. p. 99, with Hardy, M.B. p. 191. The Pali name is aditta-pariyaya: the sermon on the lessons to be drawn from burning. The text is Vinaya, i. 34 = Samyutta, iv. 19. A literal translation will be found in Vinaya Texts, i. 134, 135.

[8] These were at first simple huts, built for the mendicants in some grove of palm-trees as a retreat during the rainy season; but they gradually increased in splendour and magnificence till the decay of Buddhism set in. See the authorities quoted in Buddhist India, pp. 141, 142.

[9] The text of the account of this last journey is the Mahāparinibbāna Suttanta, vol. ii. of the Dīgha (ed. Rhys Davids and Carpenter) The translation is in Rhys Davids' Buddhist Suttas.