INTRODUCTION TO THE MAHA-GOVINDA SUTTANTA

 

This Suttanta is certainly, in some respects, among the most interesting in the collection ; and for the history of the literature is of great importance. The subject is twofold, both necessary points at the time, and both scarcely intelligible, without a little attention, to modern Western minds. Even in the East, and to Buddhists, the story now seems somewhat strange and antiquated. The success of the method of argument here adopted has been so far complete that the need of the argument has ceased, the point of view has changed, and the Suttanta, among the most popular in early times, is now, compared to others dealing with the positive side of the doctrine, considered of minor value.

 

The two points are those of the brahmins and the gods. The method of the argument is not to argue about anything ; to accept the opponents' position throughout, and simply to out-flank it by making the gods and the brahmins themselves act and speak as quite good Buddhists, and take for granted the Buddhist position on ethical matters. This is of course, from one point of view, logically absurd. No militant brahmin, in favour of the pecuniary or social advantages allowed to brahmins by birth, would speak or act thus. No god, as he was supposed by his worshippers to be (and he existed only as such), would speak or act thus. But the composer (or composers) of the Govinda knew this quite well. And he is (or they are) scrupulously polite. The actions imputed to the brahmin and the gods, the words put into their mouths, are quite admirable. No one can blame the story-teller that they happen also to be Buddhist. The question as to what the good brahmin ought to be, what a good god ought to do or say, is quietly begged in the most delicate way. On this point — the ethical doctrine — the narrator is thoroughly in earnest ; and he no less thoroughly enjoys the irony of the incongruities involved. It is the fashion to label all Buddhist writings, without discrimination, as insufferably dull ; and the fashion will be kept up, no doubt, among those who do not see the point of the really very able way in which, sometimes, it is all done. But we may be permitted to appreciate a clever story (even with a moral) in spite of the fact that the story part is a story — all make-believe, none of it historically true.

 

It has been pointed out above (Vol. I, 208), how a brahmin law book, at a time when the increasing respect paid to Wanderers and Bhikkhus threatened loss of prestige and

profit to the sacrificing priests, puts into the mouth of Prajapati the ferocious remark that he who praises such people (the wandering teachers, &c.) ' becomes dust and perishes.' The writer hoped (quite in vain as it turned out) to gain acceptance for his view by attributing it to a deity. This polemical device was quite in accord with the literary ethics of the day. The choice of the god has an artistic touch, and the anecdote se 11011 c vero e ben trovato. Quite a number of other instances might be quoted from Indian books of all ages, though not from Pali works later than the Nikayas, nor from works written in Ceylon or Burma. And they are found also in other lands and other literatures. The device is peculiar, not to India, but to a certain stage in religious beliefs and literary taste. It is not in reality so good a device as, at first sight, it seems to be. There are many instances, like the one just quoted, where it has altogether failed. As applied here, in the Govinda, the device has failed as regards the brahmins 1 Where it has had a measure of success (that is, where the opinion thus fathered on a deity has become more or less an accepted opinion), it probably owes more to its validity, or to its appeal to the feeling of the times, than to the help of the deity invoked. The reader may be reminded that the habit of assuming that the deity is on one's own side, of taking it for granted that He shares one's own opinions, comes out quite clearly in modes of expression in constant use, even by very exalted personages, in theEurope of to-day.

 

Our Suttanta introduces us, in the first scene of the play, to heaven. There the gods rejoice at the increase in their numbers through the appearance, in their midst, of new gods produced by the good Karma of the followers of the new view of life put forward by Gotama. The king of the gods voices their satisfaction in a hymn ; and then utters, in eight paragraphs, a eulogy on the Buddha. In scene two the still higher god, Maha-brahma, appears. He desires to hear the eulogy, which is accordingly repeated for his benefit. He approves of it, and

 

1 This question has been fully discussed, and the reasons for the failure given, above, Vol. I, pp. 105, 138 ff., and especially 141.

 

adds that the Exalted One had long been as wise as that. In support of this he then tells the story which forms the second act, as it were, in many scenes. Here we have Brahma's view (that is, the view of the author or authors of the Govinda) concerning the ideal brahmin. It is really very funny ; whether we compare it with the actual brahmin of to-day, or with the brahmin as described in the epics and the law books, or with the brahmin as he probably really was in the Buddha's time. The last must have been in the authors' mind all the time ; and the incongruity, though quite courteous, is sufficiently startling.

 

The episode told in Act I, Scenes 1 and 2, has already occurred, nearly word for word, in the Jana-vasabha : —

Jana-vasabha 12, 13 = Govinda 2, 3.

Jana-vasabha 14-19 = Govinda 14-18.

 

The intervening passage (Govinda 4-13) contains Sakka's eulogy. A eulogy is also part of the Jana-vasabha (§§ 22 ff.). But it is there put, at a later stage in the episode, into the mouth of Brahma, and deals accordingly with much deeper matters l .

 

What is the conclusion to be drawn from these facts ? They would be explained if the episode had existed in the community before either of these Suttantas had been put into its present shape ; and had been so popular that it had been worked up, by different authors, in slightly differing ways. Or the author or authors of either Suttanta might have altered an episode, already incorporated in the other, to harmonize better with the particular lines of his own story. In that case it must be the Govinda version that is the later. In it the eulogy is put into the mouth of Sakka, and altered to suit that divinity, because Brahma's speech was wanted for the story to follow. In either case it is evident that, at the time when these Suttantas were put together as we have them, the legendary material current among the community was still in a fluid, unstable, condition, so that it was not only possible, it was considered quite the proper thing, to add to or alter it. a

 

1 This difference in the mental endowments of the two gods, — the one the mere king of the gods, an Indian Zeus ; and the other the Great First Cause, the outcome of the hightest speculation — is always carefully observed in the various speeches ascribed, in the early Buddhist texts, to these divinities. See above, p. 175, for another instance.

 

2 The doctrinal material stands on a different footing. Already in 1877 I ventured to point out the difference (in ' Buddhism,' pp. 86-7), and the point has since increasingly forced itself upon my notice. Professor Windisch (in 'Die Composition des Mahavastu,' Leipzig, 1909, p. 494) supports this view.

 

The whole story is retold, in a Sanskrit dialect and in different phraseology and order, in the Mahavastu. The following table will make the degree of the resemblance and difference plain.

 

Maha-govinda Suttanta.        Govindiya Sutta in Mahavastu.

 

§ 1                                          Vol. Ill, p. 197

2                                             198

4                                             199

5, 6                                         200

8                                             201

9                                             200

10                                           201

12                                           201

13                                           198

17                                           203

19-27                                      202

29                                            204

30                                            205

31, 32                                      206

34                                            207

35, 36                                      208

37. 38                                      209

43,44                                       210,11

45                                            2I2

46                                            213,14

47                                            215

48                                            217

49                                            218

50                                            216

51                                            219

56                                            220

57, 58                                      222

60                                            223

61                                            215

 

Now we do not know exactly when and where Buddhists began to write in Sanskrit, though it was probably in Kashmir some time before the beginning of our era. They did not then translate into Sanskrit any Pali book. They wrote new books. And the reason for this was twofold. In the first place they had already come to believe things very different from those contained in the canon; they were (no longer in full sympathy with it. In the second place, though Pali was never the vernacular of Kashmir, it was widely known there, and even very probably still used for literary work; translations were therefore not required. This gives a possible explanation of the most astounding fact we know about the Mahavastu. It purports to be the Vinaya (that is, the Rules regulating the outward conduct of the members of the Order), as held by the school of the Lokottara-vadins. In M. Senart's admirable edition it fills three bulky volumes. There is not, from beginning to end of them, even one single Rule of the Order! No explanation has been given of this extraordinary state of things, though it was pointed out at once on the publication of the edition 1. Prof. Windisch in his able discussion (just above referred to) of the actual contents of the book does not refer to this remarkable omission.

 

The old Vinaya begins with the Sutta Vibhanga, that is, the Rules themselves elucidated by discussion of their origin and meaning. This occupies 615 pages in Oldenberg's editions. Then follow in 660 pages the Khandhakas, twenty-two in number, dealing with various points of Canon Law. At the beginning of these is an Introduction, explaining how the Order arose ; and at the end an Appendix, on the Councils 2 . This old Vinaya has never been translated into Sanskrit. The Mahavastu is based on the Introduction to the Khandhakas, rewritten, added to, enormously expanded, and arranged according to the order of the Pali Nidana Katha. Now why did the Lokottara-vadins, in their Vinaya, omit practically the whole of the Vinaya, and confine themselves to rewriting the Introduction to what is only a part of the Vinaya ? Why did not they also rewrite the rest? May it be because, when they wrote, the old rules and explanations, with which they did not quarrel in the least, were still well known and used in the original Pali, or in some closely cognate shape? 3

 

It must have been from some such cognate recension, and not from our Pali text, that the Govinda story was Sanskritised. The differences between the Digha and the Mahavastu are too great to have arisen at one stage. The whole point of the story in the Digha is the way in which Brahma describes his

 

1 Rhys Davids, J. R. A. S., 1898, 424.

 

2 There is a supplementary work, the Parivara, much shorter, and consisting mainly of what we should now call examination papers. This volume, though most interesting from the point of view of the history of Indian education, presupposes the old Vinaya, and is later.

 

As is well known the Khandhakas come first in Oldenberg's edition, but the order in the MSS. is as above. See for instance Oldenberg's 'Catalogue of the Pali MSS. in the India Office Library’ J.P.T. S., 1882, p. 59.

 

3 Compare Oldenberg's remarks on the Chinese translations of Vinava at the end of his introduction to the Pali Text.

 

ideal brahmin as quite emancipated from animistic superstitions and practices. He gains access to Brahma by practising (with reference, no doubt, to the closing scene of the Maha-Sudassana, and also to the Tevijja and other passages) the Rapture of Mercy, one of the Brahma-viharas, or Sublime Conditions. The Mahavastu is not satisfied with that. It makes him add to it the kindling of the mystic Fire, Agni (D. II, 239 and Mhvst. Ill, 210). The paean of delight at the arrival of the new gods (D. II, 227 and Mhvst. Ill, 203) is introduced in the Mahavastu by the words : ' He (Brahma) addressed them in verses.' But it gives only one verse. The others are found in the Digha. Perhaps their ethical standpoint did not appeal any more to the Lokottara-vadins. In the eulogy on the Buddha (D. II, 222 and Mhvst. 111,199) the Mahavastu mentions that there are eight points concerning which the Buddha was worthy of praise. It gives, however, only seven, differing in order and meaning from the eight given in the Digha. Verbal differences throughout the whole story are found in almost every paragraph.

 

In column 136 of Bunyiu Nanjio's catalogue of Chinese Buddhist books we find mentioned a translation of the Maha- Govinda evidently from some recension different from the Pali. It would be interesting to know whether there has, in this version, been preserved an intermediate stage between the Digha and the Mahavastu. Read More

MAHA-GOVINDA SUTTANTA

 

THE LORD HIGH STEWARD

 

[220] Thus have I heard.

 

1. The Exalted One was once staying at Rajagaha on Vulture-peak Hill. Now when the night was far spent, Five-crest of the Gandharva fairies, 1 beautiful to see, irradiating the whole of Vulture-peak, came into the presence of the Exalted One, and saluted him, and stood on one side. So standing Five-crest the Gandharva addressed the Exalted One, and said : —

 

' The things, lord, that I have seen, the things I have noted when in the presence of the gods in the heaven of the Three-and-Thirty, I would tell to the Exalted One.'

' Tell thou me, Five-crest,' said the Exalted One.

 

2. ' In days gone by, lord, in days long long gone by, on the Fifteenth, the holy-day, at the Feast of the Invitations 2 on the night of full moon, all the gods in the heaven of the Thirty-Three were assembled, sitting in their Hall of Good Counsel. And a vast celestial company was seated round about, and at the four quarters of the firmament sat the Four Great Kings. There was Dhatarattha, king of the East, seated facing the west, presiding over his host ; Virulhaka, king of the South, seated facing the north, presiding over his host ; [221] Virupakkha, king of the West, seated facing the east, presiding over his host ; and Vessavana, king of the North, seated facing the south, presiding over his host. Whenever, lord, all the gods in the heaven of the Thirty-Three are assembled, and seated in their Hall of Good Counsel, with the vast celestial company seated around them, and with the Four Great Kings at the four quarters of the firma-

 

1 Pancasikho Gandhabbo. See above, p. 244.

 

2 Pavarana.

 

merit, this is the order of the seats of the four. After that come our seats. And those gods, lord, who had been recently reborn in the hosts of the Three-and- Thirty because they had lived the higher life under the Exalted One, they outshone the other gods in appearance and in glory. Thereat, verily, lord, the Three-and-Thirty gods were glad and of good cheer, were filled with joy and happiness, saying, " Verily, sirs, the celestial hosts are waxing ; the hosts of the titans are waning ! "

 

3. ' Then Sakka, lord, ruler of the gods, when he saw the satisfaction felt by the Three-and-Thirty gods, expressed his approval in these verses : — -

 

The Three-and-Thirty, verily, both gods and lord, rejoice,

 

Tathagata they honour and the cosmic law sublime,

 

Whereas they see these gods new-risen, beautiful and bright,

 

Who erst the holy life had lived, under the Happy One,

 

The Mighty Sage's hearers, who had won to higher truths,

 

Come hither ; and in glory all the other gods out-shine.

 

This they behold right gladly, both lord and Thirty- Three,

 

Tathagata they honour and the cosmic law sublime.

 

1 Hereat, lord, [222] the Three-and-Thirty gods were even more abundantly glad and of good cheer, and filled with joy and happiness, saying : " Verily, sirs, the celestial hosts are waxing ; the hosts of the titans are waning ! " 1

 

4. ' Then Sakka, lord, perceiving the satisfaction of the Three-and-Thirty gods, addressed them thus : —

 

"Is it your wish, gentlemen, to hear eight truthful items in praise of that Exalted One ? "

" It is our wish, sir, to hear them."

 

‘ Then Sakka, lord, ruler of the gods, uttered before the Three-and-Thirty gods these eight truthful items in praise of the Exalted One : —

 

5. " Now what think ye, my lords gods Three-and- Thirty ? Inasmuch as the Exalted One has so wrought for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, for the advantage, the good, happiness of gods and men, out of compassion for the world — a teacher of this kind, of this character, we find not, whether we survey the past or whether we survey the present — save only the Exalted One.

 

6. " Inasmuch, again, as the Doctrine has been proclaimed by that Exalted One, a Doctrine for the life that now is, a Doctrine not for mere temporary gain, a Doctrine of welcome and of guidance, to be comprehended by the wise each in his own heart — a preacher of such a Doctrine so leading us on, a teacher of this kind, of this character we find not, whether we survey the past, or whether we survey the present, save only the Exalted One.

 

7. " ' This is good ; that is bad ' — well has this been revealed by that Exalted One, well has he revealed that this is wrong, [223] and that is right, that this is to be followed, that to be avoided, that this is base and that noble, that this is of the Light and this of the Dark 1 . Such a Revelation of the nature of things, a teacher of this kind, of this character we find not, whether we survey the past, or whether we survey the present, save only the Exalted One.

 

8. "Well revealed, again, to his disciples by that Exalted One is the Way leading to Nirvana ; they run one into the other, Nirvana and the Way. Even as the waters of the Ganges and the Jumna now one into the other, and go on together united, so it is with that well-revealed Way leading to Nirvana; they run one into the other, Nirvana and the Way. A revealer of such a Way leading to Nirvana, a teacher of this kind,

 

1 In Milinda, these contrasted distinctions are given to illustrate the exercise of sati ('minding' or 'remembering') by way of careful practice. ' Questions of King Milinda,' i. 58.

 

of this character we find not, whether we survey the past, or whether we survey the present, save only that Exalted One.

 

9. " Comrades too has this Exalted One gotten, both students only, travelling along the Way, and Arahants who have lived ' the life.' Them does he not send away, but dwells in fellowship with them whose hearts are set on one object. A teacher so dwelling, of this kind, of this character, we find not, whether we survey the past, or whether we survey the present, save only that Exalted One.

 

10. "Well established 1 are the gifts made 2 to that Blessed One, widely established is his fame, so much so that the nobles, methinks, continue well disposed towards him. Yet notwithstanding, that Exalted One takes sustenance with a heart unintoxicated by pride. One so living, a teacher of this kind, of this character, we find not, whether we survey the past, or whether we survey the present, save only that Exalted One.

 

11. [224] " The acts, again, of that Exalted One conform to his speech ; his speech conforms to his acts. One who has so carried out hereby the greater and the lesser matters of the Law, a teacher of this kind, of this character, we find not, whether we survey the past, or whether we survey the present ; save only that Exalted One.

 

12. " Crossed, too, by that Exalted One has been the sea of doubt, gone by for him is all question of the ' how ' and ' why,' accomplished for him is every purpose with respect to his high resolve and the ancient rule of right. A teacher who has attained thus far, of

this kind, of this character, we find not, whether we survey the past, or whether we survey the present, save only that Exalted One."

 

' These eight true praises, lord, of the Exalted One

 

1 Abhinippanno labho.

 

2 Ajjhasayaw adi-brahmacariyaOT. Buddhaghosa says these two words are to be taken distributively, and refer to his lofty intentions and to the ethics of the Aryan Path.

 

did Sakka, ruler of the gods, utter before the Three-and-Thirty gods. Hereat the Three-and-Thirty gods were even more abundantly pleased, gladdened and filled with joy and happiness over the things they had heard.

 

13. 'Then certain gods, lord, spoke thus: — "Oh! sir, if only four supreme Buddhas might arise in the world and teach the Doctrine even as the Exalted One ! That would make for the welfare of the many, for the happiness of the many, for compassion to the world, for the good and the gain and the weal of gods and men."

' And certain other gods spoke thus : — " It would suffice, sir, if there arose three supreme Buddhas in the world."

' And certain other gods spoke thus : — " It would suffice, sir, if two supreme Buddhas arose in the world . . . for the good and the gain and the weal of gods and men."

 

14. [225] 'Then answered Sakka, ruler of the gods to the Three-and-Thirty : — " Nowhere, gentlemen, and at no time is it possible that, in one and the same world-system, two Arahant Buddhas supreme should arise together, neither before nor after the other. This can in no wise be. Ah ! gentlemen, would that this Blessed One might yet live for long years to come, free from disease and free from suffering" ! That would make for the welfare of the many, for the happiness of the many, for loving compassion to the universe, for the good and the gain and the weal of gods and men !

 

' Then, lord, the Three-and-Thirty gods having thus deliberated and taken counsel together concerning- the matter for which they were assembled and seated in the Hall of Good Counsel, with respect to that matter the Four Kings were receivers of the spoken word, the Four Great Kings were receivers of the admonition given, remaining the while in their places, not retiring 1 .

 

1 This sounds very much as if the Four Great Kings were looked upon as Recorders (in their memory, of course) of what had been said. They kept the minutes of the meeting. If so (the gods being made in the image of men) there must have been such Recorders at the meetings in the Mote Halls of the clans.

 

Taking the uttered word and speech, the Kings Stood there, serene and calm, each in his place.

 

15. ' Then, lord, from out of the North came forth a splendid light, and a radiance shone around, surpassing the divine glory of the gods. Then did Sakka, ruler of the gods, say to the dwellers in the heaven of the Three-and-Thirty : — "According, gentlemen, to the signs now seen, the light that ariseth, the radiance that appeareth — will Brahma now be made manifest. For this is the herald sign of the manifestation of Brahma, when the light ariseth and the glory shineth.

 

Even by yonder signs great Brahma draweth nigh. For this is Brahma s sign, this glorious splendour vast.

 

[226] c Then, lord, the Three-and-Thirty gods sat down again in their own places, saying : — " We will ascertain what shall be the result of this radiance ; when we have realized it, we will go to meet him." The Four Kings also sat down in their places, saying the same- And when they heard that, the Three-and- Thirty gods were all agreed saying : " We will ascertain what will be the result of this radiance ; when we have verified it, we will go to meet him."

 

16. 'When, lord, Brahma Sana^zkumara appears before the Three-and-Thirty gods, he manifests himself as an individual of relatively gross substance which he has specially created. For Brahma's usual appearance is not sufficiently materialized for the scope of the sight of the Three-and-Thirty gods. And, lord, when Brahma Sanamkumara is manifested before these gods, he outshines the other gods in his appearance and his glory. Just as a figure made of gold outshines the human frame, so, when Brahma Sanawkumara is manifested before the Three-and-Thirty gods, does he outshine the other gods in his appearance and his glory. And when, lord, Brahma Sanamkumara is manifested before the Three-and-Thirty gods, not one god in that assembly salutes him, or rises up, or invites him to be seated. They all sit in silence with folded hands and cross-legged, each thinking : ' Of whichever god Brahma Sanamkumara now desires anything, he will seat himself on that god's divan. And that god by whom he does so seat himself is filled with a sublime satisfaction, a sublime happiness, [227] even as a Kshatriya king that is just anointed and crowned, is filled with a sublime satisfaction, a sublime happiness.

 

17. 'Then, lord, Brahma Sanamkumara, perceiving how gratified were those Three-and-Thirty gods, uttered his approval while invisible in these verses : — .

 

The Three-and-Thirty, verily, both gods and lord, rejoice,

 

Tathagata they honour and the cosmic law sublime,

 

Whereas they see these gods new-risen, beautiful and bright,

 

Who erst the holy life had lived, under the Happy One,

 

The Mighty Sage's hearers, who had won to higher truths,

 

Come hither ; and in glory all the other gods out- shine.

 

This they behold right gladly, both lord and Thirty- Three,

 

Tathagata they honour and the cosmic law sublime.

 

18. 'This, lord, was the substance of Brahma the Eternal Youth's speech. And he spoke it with a voice of eightfold quality — a voice that was fluent, intelligible, sweet and audible, sustained and distinct, deep and resonant. And whereas, lord, he made himself audible to that assembly by his voice, the sound thereof did not penetrate beyond the assembly. He whose voice has these eight qualities is said to have a Brahma-voice.

 

19. ' Then, lord, to Brahma the Eternal Youth the Three-and-Thirty gods spoke thus : —

 

" 'Tis well, O Brahma ! we do rejoice at this that we have noted. [228] Moreover Sakka, ruler of the gods, hath rehearsed to us eight truthful praises of that Exalted One, and these too we have marked and do rejoice thereat."

 

' Then, lord, Brahma the Eternal Youth spoke thus to Sakka, ruler of the gods : — " Tis well, O ruler of the gods ; we too would hear the eight truthful praises of that Exalted One."

 

" So be it, O Great Brahma," replied Sakka. And thereupon, beginning " Now what thinketh my lord, the Great Brahma ? " [he uttered once more those eight truthful praises of the Blessed One, §§ 2 1-27] 1 . Hereat, lord, Brahma the Eternal Youth was pleased and gladdened, and was filled with joy and happiness when he had heard those praises.

 

28. [230] ' And so, lord, Brahma the Eternal Youth materializing himself and becoming in appearance like the youth Five-crest, manifested himself to the Three- and-Thirty gods, and rising up into the air, he sat down cross-legged in the sky. J ust, lord, as easily as a strong man might sit down cross-legged on a well-spread divan or a smooth piece of ground, even so did Brahma the Eternal Youth, rising up into the air, sit down cross- legged in the sky. And he addressed the Three-and- Thirty gods thus : —

 

29. "Now what think ye, my lord gods Thirty-and- Three ? For how long hath the Blessed One been of great wisdom? 2

 

Once upon a time there was a king named Disampati. And king Disampati's minister was a brahmin named Govinda (the Steward) 3 . And king Disampati had a son named Re/m, and Govinda had a son named Jotipala. And prince Renu. and the young Jotipala and six other young nobles — these eight — were great friends. [ 231 ] Now in the course of years Govinda

 

1 §§ 5—1 2 repeated in the text.

 

2 The Cy. here supplements: Himself desirous of clearing up this problem, it is as if he went on to say, that there was nothing wonderful in that, so he tells the story.

 

3 It is evident from §§ 30, 31 that Govinda, literally 'Lord of the Herds,' was a title, not a name, and means Treasurer or Steward.

 

died. And king Disampati mourned for him, saying : — ' Alas ! just when we had devolved all our duties on Govinda the brahmin, and were surrounded by and giving ourselves up to the pleasures of sense, Govinda has died ! '

 

Then said prince Keuu to the king : — ' Mourn not, sire, so excessively for Govinda, the brahmin. Govinda has a son, young Jotipala, who is wiser than his father was, better able to see what is profitable than his father. Let Jotipala administer all such affairs as were entrusted to his father.'

 

‘ Do you think so, my boy ? '

' I do, sire.'

 

30. Then king Disampati summoned a man and said: 'Come you, good man, go to Master Jotipala, and say to him : — May good fortune attend the honourable Jotipala! King Disampati calls for the honourable Jotipala. King Disampati would like to see the honourable Jotipala.'

 

' So be it, sire,' responded the man, and going to Jotipala he [232] repeated the message.

 

' Very good, sir,' responded Jotipala, and went to wait upon the king. And when he had come into the king's presence, he exchanged with the king the greetings and compliments of politeness and courtesy, and sat down on one side. Then said king Disampati to

Jotipala: — "We would have the honourable youth Jotipala administer for us. Let him not refuse to do so. I will set him in his father's place and appoint him to the Stewardship 1 ."

 

' So be it, sire,' replied Jotipala in assent.

 

31. So king Disampati appointed Jotipala as his Steward, and set him in his father's place. And thus appointed and installed, whatever matters his father had administered, those did Jotipala administer ; and

 

 

1 Govindiye abhisincissami. Literally, ' I will anoint him to the Govinda-ship ' (the Lordship over the herds). The expression ' anoint ' is noteworthy. It suggests that the office was of royal rank. But a king was of lower rank then than now.

 

whatever his father had not administered, those matters did he too not administer. And whatever works his father had accomplished, and no others, even such works, and no others, did he too accomplish. Of him men said : — ' The brahmin is verily a Steward ! A Great Steward is verily this brahmin ! ' And on this wise Jotipala came to be called the High Steward.

 

32. Now it came to pass that the Great Steward went to those six nobles, and said to them : ' Disampati the king is old and wasted with age, [233] full of years, and arrived at the term of life. Who indeed can answer for the survival of the living ? When the king dies, it will behove the king-makers to anoint Renu the prince as king. I suggest, gentlemen, that you wait on prince Renu, and say to him thus : ' We are the dear, beloved, and congenial friends of our lord Renu. We are happy when our lord is happy ; un-happy when he is unhappy. Disampati, our lord king, is old and wasted with age, full of years and arrived at the term of life. Who indeed can answer for the living? When the king dies, it will behove the king-makers to anoint our lord Renu king. If our lord Renu should gain the sovereignty, let him divide it with us." '

 

33. ' So be it,' responded the six nobles, and waiting upon prince Re;m they repeated these words to him. ' Why, sirs, who besides myself ought to prosper in this realm if it be not you ? If I, sirs, shall gain the sovereignty, I will divide it with you.'

 

34. [234] And it came to pass in course of time that king Disampati died. And after his death, the king-makers anointed Re/m his son king. And he, when he was made king, lived surrounded by and given up to the pleasures of sense. Then the High Steward went to those six nobles and said thus : —

 

' Disampati, gentlemen, is dead, and my lord Renu lives surrounded by and given up to the pleasures of sense. Well, gentlemen, who can say ? The pleasures of sense are intoxicating, I would suggest, gentlemen, that you wait on king Renu and say to him : " king Disampati, my lord, is dead, my lord Renu is anointed king. Does my lord remember his promise ? "

 

' Very good, sir,' responded the six nobles, and going into Renus presence, they said : —

 

' King Disampati, sire, is dead, and my lord Renu is anointed king. Does my lord remember his promise ? '

 

1 I do remember my promise, gentlemen. Which of you gentlemen now is able successfully to divide this mighty earth, so broad on the north and ... 1 on the south, into seven equal portions ? '

 

' Who, sire, is able if it be not the Great Steward, the brahmin ?'

 

35. Then king Re;m sent a man to the Great Steward, saying : — ' Come, my good fellow, go to the Great Steward, the brahmin, and say : " The king has sent for you, my lord." [235] And the Great Steward was told and obeyed, and, coming into the king's presence, exchanged with him the greetings and compliments of politeness and courtesy, and sat down on one side. Then said the king to him : ' Will you go, my lord Steward, and so divide this great earth wide on the north and .... on the south into seven equal portions, all . . .'

 

' Very good, sire,' responded the High Steward, [And this he did.]

 

36. And king Re;m's country held the central position. As it is said : —

 

1 Sakatamukka. This adjective, applied here to the earth, and at the end of the next section to the seven kingdoms, is at present quite unintelligible ; and is left untranslated. The traditional explanations differ. Samarasekara (Colombo, 1905) translates here (p. 1016) dakurcu pasin gael mukhayak lesata, that is, 'on the south side like a waggon's mouth.' Buddhaghosa has nothing here ; but below as applied to the kingdoms he explains ' with their mouths debouching together.' Neither is satisfactory. It has been suggested that it might mean ' facing the Wain,' that is, the constellation of the Great Bear. But this is unfortunately in the North. The front opening of a bullock waggon is (now) elliptical in form.

 

Dantapura of the Kalingas, and Potana for the Assakas,

 

Mahissati for the Avantis, and Roruka in the Sovira land.

 

 Mithila of the Videhas, and then Campa among the Aiigas,

 

Lastly Benares in the Kasi realm :— all these did the Great Steward wisely plan.

 

[236] Then were those six nobles well pleased each with his allotted gain, and at the success of his plan. For they said : — ' What we wished for, what we desired, what we intended, what we aimed at, lo ! that is what we have gotten.' And the seven kings were named : —

 

Sattabhu and Brahmadatta, Vessabhu with Bharata, Kenu and two Dhatara/Mas : — These are the seven Bharatas. 1

 

Here ends the first Portion for Recitation.

 

1 If we follow the order of the names in this no doubt very old mnemonic doggrel, the result may be tabulated thus : —

 

City.                                                      Tribe.                                                              King.

1. Dantapura                                     Kalingas                                                        Sattabhu.

2. Potana                                           Assakas                                                         Brahmadatta.

3. Mahissati                                      Avantis                                                            Vessabhu.

4. Roruka                                          Soviras                                                            Bharata.

5. Mithila                                            Videhas                                                          Renu.

6. Campa                                          Ahgas                                                             Dhatarattha.

7. Baranasi                                       Kasis                                                              Dhatarattha.

This list is enough to show that the verses do not fit with the story. Renu's kingdom is said in the text to be in the middle. No one of

these seven kingdoms is in the midst of the others. Benares would suit that position less badly, than any other. It was probably intended therefore that Disampati and Renu were kings or chieftains in Benares. The king Bharata of the Soviras of J. Ill, 470 may be the same as the Bharata who also appears in the table here as king of the Soviras. The Remi of J. IV, 444 is king of the Kurus. None of the numerous Brahmadattas in the Jatakas can be identified with our Brahmadatta. Our Disampati and Re/m are referred to, apparently as kings ofBenares, at Dipavamsa III, 40.

The verses survived, but in a very corrupt state, down to the time of the Mahavastu (Vol. Ill, p. 208, ed. Senart).

 

37. Now those six nobles came to the High Steward and said to him : — ' Just as the honourable Steward was dear, beloved and congenial as companion to Renu the king, so has he been also to us a companion, dear, beloved and congenial. We would that the honourable Steward administer our affairs ; we trust he will not refuse to do so.'

 

' Very good, sirs,' replied the Great Steward. And so he instructed those seven anointed kings in government ; and he taught the mantras to seven eminent and wealthy Brahmins and to seven hundred young graduates.

 

38. [237] Now later on the excellent reputation of the brahmin, the High Steward, was noised abroad after this fashion: — 'With his own eyes the High Steward sees Brahma ! Face to face does the High Steward commune with Brahma, converse and take counsel with Him ! ' Then the High Steward thought : 4 This flattering rumour is noised abroad about me, that I both see Brahma and hold converse with Him. Now I neither see Him, nor commune with Him, nor converse or take counsel with Him. But I have heard aged and venerable brahmins, teachers and pupils, say : "He who remains in meditation the four months of the rains, and practises the ecstasy of pity, he sees Brahma, communes, converses, takes counsel with Brahma ? What if I now were to cultivate that discipline ? " '

39. So the High Steward waited on king Renu, and telling him of the reputation imputed to himself, and of his wish to practise seclusion, added : ' I wish, sir, to meditate during the four months of the rains and to practise the ecstasy of pity. No one is to come near me save some one who will bring me my meals.'

' Do, honourable Steward, whatever seems to you fit.'

 

40. [238] And the High Steward went round to each of the six nobles, told them the same, and took his leave of them also.

 

41. Then he went to those seven eminent and wealthy Brahmins, and to the seven hundred graduates, and telling them [too of the rumours and of his wish to practise seclusion], said : — ' Wherefore, sirs, according as you have heard the mantras and have committed them to memory, continue to rehearse them in full, and teach them to each other. I, sirs, wish to meditate during the four months of the rains, and to practise the ecstasy of pity. No one is to come near me save some one who shall bring me my meals.'

 

' Do, honourable Steward, whatever seems to you fit.'

 

42. [239] Next the High Steward went to his forty wives who were all on an equality, and told them [too of the rumours and of his wish to practise ecstasy in seclusion. And they replied like the others.]

 

43. Then the High Steward had a new rest-house built eastward of the city, and there for the four months of the rains he meditated, rapt in the Ecstasy of Pity ; nor did any one have access to him save one who brought him his meals. But when the four rainy months

were over, then verily came disappointment and anguish over him as he thought : ' Here have I heard aged and venerable brahmins, teachers and their pupils, say : "He who remains in meditation the four months of the rains, and practises the Ecstasy of Pity, he sees Brahma, communes, converses, and takes counsel with Brahma." But I see not Brahma, I commune not, nor converse, nor take counsel with Him.'

 

44. Then Brahma, the Eternal Youth, when in his mind he knew the thoughts [240] of the High Steward's mind, vanished from his heaven, and, like a strong man shooting his arm out or drawing back his out-shot arm, appeared before the High Steward. Then verily came fear, then came trembling upon the High Steward, then did the hair of his flesh stand up 1 when he saw this thing that had never been seen before. And he, full of fear and dread with stiffening hair, addressed Brahma the Eternal Youth in these verses : —

 

1 See above, p. 240.

 

' O Vision fair, O glorious and divine !

Who art thou, lord ? knowing thee not we ask,

That we may know ! '

 

‘ In heaven supreme I'm known

As the Eternal Youth. All know me there.

Know me e'en thou, Govinda.'

 

' To a Brahma Blest

Let seat and water for the feet and sweet

Cooked cakes and drink be brought. We ask what gift

The Lord would take. Would he himself decide

The form for us 1

 

' Hereby we take thy gift,

And now — whether it be for good and gain

In this thy present life, or for thy weal

In that which shall be — Thou hast leave. Come, ask,

Govinda, whatsoe'er thou fain would'st have ? '

 

45. Then the High Steward thought: 'Leave is given me by Brahma the Eternal Youth ! What now shall I ask of him, some good thing for this life, or a future good ? ' [24l] Then it occurred to him : ' I am an expert regarding what is profitable for this life. Even others consult me about that. What now if I were to ask Brahma the Eternal Youth for something of advantage in a life to come ? ' And he addressed the god in these verses : —

 

' I ask the Brahma, the Eternal Youth,

Him past all doubt I, doubting, ask anent

The things that others would fain know about.

Wherein proficient, in what method trained

Can mortal reach th' immortal world of Brahm ? '

 

1 The expressions here are all elliptical, and it is not certain that the meanings supplied are quite right as the idioms agghe pucchati and aggham no karoti do not occur elsewhere. The sequence of ideas would seem to be : ' Only such and such are fit to be offered as a mark of respect to so holy a deity. But not knowing which is best, I ask. Let the Holy One make it right.' Then the deity, who wants nothing, taking the will for the deed, says he accepts ; and offers a boon.

 

' He among men, O Brahmin, who eschews

All claims of " me " and " mine " ; he in whom thought

Rises in lonely calm, in pity rapt,

Loathing all foul things, dwelling in chastity, —

Herein proficient, in such matters trained,

Mortal can reach th' immortal heav'n of Brahm.'

 

46. 'What the Lord saith touching "eschewing all claims of 'me' and 'mine' I understand. It is to renounce all property whether it be small or large, and to renounce all family life, whether the circle of one's kin be small or large, and with hair and beard cut off and yellow robes donned, to go forth from the home into the homeless life. Thus do I understand this.

 

' What the Lord saith touching " thought rising in lonely calm" I understand. It is when one chooses a solitary abode — the forest, at the foot of a tree, a mountain brae, a grotto, a rock-cavern, a cemetery, or a heap of grass out in the open field. Thus do I understand this [242].

 

' What the Lord saith touching " in pity rapt " I understand. It is when one continues to pervade one quarter of the horizon with a heart charged with pity, and so the second quarter, and so the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world, above, below, around and everywhere does one continue to pervade with a heart charged with pity, far-reaching, expanded, infinite, free from wrath and ill will. Thus do 1 understand this.

 

' Only in what He saith touching " loathing the foul "

do I not understand thee, Lord.

 

' What mean'st thou by " foul odours among men,"

O Brahma ? here I understand thee not.

Tell what these signify, who knowest all.

When cloaked and clogged by what is man thus foul,

Hell-doomed, and shut off from the heaven of Brahm ? '

 

[243] ' Anger and lies, deceit and treachery,

Selfishness, self-conceit and jealousy,

 

Greed, doubt, and lifting hands 'gainst fellow men,

Lusting and hate, dulness and pride of life, —

When yoked with these man is of odour foul,

Hell-doomed, and shut out from the heav'n of Brahm.'

 

‘ As I understand the word of the Lord concerning these " foul odours," they cannot easily be suppressed if one live in the world. I will therefore go forth from the home into the life of the homeless state.'

‘ Do, lord steward, whatever seems to you fit.'

 

47. Then the High Steward waited on king Renu and said to him : — ' Will my lord now seek another minister, who will administer my lord's affairs ? I wish to leave the world for the homeless life. I am going forth in accordance with the word of Brahma which I have heard concerning- foul odours. These cannot be easily suppressed when one is living in the world.

 

‘ King Re«u, lord o' the land, I here declare : —

Do thou thyself take thought for this thy realm !

I care no longer for my ministry.'

 

' If for thy pleasures aught there lacketh yet,

I'll make it good. If any injure thee,

Them I'll restrain, warlord and landlord I !

Thou art my father, Steward, lo ! I am thy son !

Abide with us, Govinda, leave us not.'

 

' Naught lack I for my pleasures, nor is there

One who doth injure me. But I have heard

Voices unearthly. Henceforth home holds me not.'

 

[244]  What like is this Unearthly ? What did He say

To thee, that having heard thou will straightway

Forsake our house and us and all the world ? '

 

' Ere I had passed through this Retreat, my care

Was for due altar-rites, the sacred fire

Was kindled, strewn about with kusa-grass.

But lo ! Brahma I saw, from Brahma's heav'n,

Eternal god. I asked ; he made reply ;

I heard. And now irksome is home to me.'

 

' Lo ! I believe the words that thou hast said.

Govinda. Having heard the Unearthly Voice.

How could it be thou should'st act otherwise ?

Thee will we follow after. Be our guide,

Our teacher ! So, like gem of purest ray,

Purg'd of all dross, translucent, without flaw, —

As pure as that we'll walk according to thy word.'

 

' If the honourable Steward goes forth from the home into the homeless, I too will do the like. For whither thou goest, I will go.'

 

48. Then the High Steward, the brahmin, waited upon the six nobles, and said to them : ' Will my lords now seek another minister who will administer my lords' affairs ? I wish to leave the world for the homeless life. I am going forth in accordance with the word of Brahma which I have heard concerning- foul odours. These cannot be easily suppressed when one is living in the world.'

 

Then the six nobles went aside together [245] and thus deliberated : — ' These brahmin folk are greedy for money. What if we were to gain him over through money?' And coming to the High Steward they said : — ' There is abundance of property, sir, in these seven kingdoms. Wherefore, sir, take of it as much as seems profitable to you.'

 

' Enough, sirs ! I have already abundant possessions, thanks to the action of my lords. It is that luxury that I am now relinquishing in leaving the world for the homeless life, [even as I have told you].'

 

49. Then the six nobles went aside together, and thus deliberated : ' These brahmin folk are greedy about women. What if we, were to gain him over through women?' And coming to the High Steward they said : ' There is, sir, in those seven kingdoms abundance of women. Wherefore, sir, conduct away with you as many as you want.'

 

' Enough, sirs ! I have already these forty wives equal in rank. All of them I am forsaking in leaving the world for the homeless life, [even as I have told you].'

 

50. [248] ' If the honourable Steward goes forth from the home into the homeless life, we too will do the like. Whither thou goest we will go.'

 

‘If ye would put off fleshly lusts that worldling's heart coerce,

 

Stir ye the will, wax strong, firm in the power of patience.

 

This is the Way, the Way that's Straight 1 , the Way unto the End 2 ,

 

The Righteous Path that good men guard, to birth in Brahma's heaven.'

 

51. 'Wherefore, my lord Steward, wait yet seven years, and when they are over, we too will go forth from the world into the homeless life. Whither thou goest we will go.'

 

' Too long, my lords, are seven years ! I cannot wait for my lords seven years. For who can answer for the living ? 3 We must go toward the future, we must learn by wisdom 4 , we must do good, we must walk in righteousness, for there is no escaping death

for all that's born. Now I am o-oino- forth in accordance with the word of Brahma which I have heard concerning foul odours. They cannot be easily suppressed when one is living in the world.'

 

52. 'Well then, lord Steward, wait for us six years, . . . [or] wait five years . . . four years . . . three . . . two years . . one year. When a year has gone by we too will leave the world for the Homeless State. Whither thou goest we will go.'

 

53. 'Too long, my lords, is one year. I cannot [247] wait for my lords one year. For who can answer for the living ? We must go towards the future, we must learn by wisdom, we must do good, we must walk

 

1 See S. I, 33 : — ' Straight is that way named.'

 

2 Anuttaro, lit. having no beyond. The Cy. interprets asadiso, uttamo (unique, supreme).

 

3 See above, p. 268.

 

4 Mantaya. Manta vuccati pafifia, says Buddhaghosa. Cp. the commentary on Dhp. 363; and Anguttara II, 141-228.

 

in righteousness, for there is no escaping death for all that's born. Now I am going forth in accordance with the word of Brahma which I have heard concerning foul odours. They cannot easily be suppressed when one is living in the world.'

 

54. ' Well then, lord Steward, wait for us seven months . . . six months . . . five . . . four . . . three . . . two months . . . one month . . . [55] half a month . . . seven days, [248] till we have devolved our kingdoms on to our sons and brothers. When seven days are over, we will leave the world for the Homeless State. Whither thou goest we will go.'

 

' Seven days, my lords, is not a long time. I will wait, my lords, for seven days.'

 

56. Then the High Steward, the brahmin, came to those seven eminent and wealthy brahmins and to those seven hundred graduates, and said: — 'Will ye now seek another teacher, sirs, who will (by repetition) teach you the mystic verses ? 1 I wish to leave the world for the homeless life. I am going forth in accordance with the word of Brahma which I have heard concerning foul odours. These cannot easily be suppressed when one is living in the world.'

 

' Let the honourable Steward not leave the world for the homeless life ! Leaving the world means little power and little gain ; to be a brahmin brings great power and great gain.'

 

' Speak not so, gentlemen, of leaving the world or of being a brahmin. Who for that matter has greater power or wealth than I ? I, sirs, have been hitherto as a king of kings, as Brahma to brahmins, as a deity 2 to house- holders. And this, all this, I put away in leaving the world, in accordance with th? word of Brahma . . .' [249]

 

' If the lord Steward leaves the world for the Home-less State, we too will do the like. Whither thou goest, we will go.'

 

1 Mante. See last note.

 

2 Devata; ' like Sakka, king of gods, to all other heads of families.' Cy. The phrase might be taken to mean that Brahma was not a devata.

 

57. Then the High Steward, the Brahmin, went to his forty wives, all on an equality, and said : — ' Will each of you, ladies, who may wish to do so, go back to her own family and seek another husband ? I wish, ladies, to leave the world for the homeless life, in accordance with the word of Brahma . . .'

 

‘ Thou, even thou, art the kinsman of our hearts' desire ; thou art the husband of our hearts' desire. If the lord Steward leaves the world for the Homeless State, we too will do the like. Whither thou goest, we will go.'

 

58. And so the High Steward, the brahmin, when those seven days were past, let his hair and beard be cut off, donned the yellow robes and went forth from his home into the Homeless State. And he having so acted, the seven kings also, anointed kshatriyas, as well as the seven eminent and wealthy brahmins and the seven hundred graduates, the forty wives all on an equality, several thousand nobles, several thousand brahmins, several thousand commoners and several young women from women's quarters, let their hair be cut, donned the yellow robes and went forth from their homes into the Homeless State. And so, escorted by this company, the High Steward, the brahmin, went a-wandering through the villages, towns, [250] and cities. And whether he arrived at village or town or city, there he became as a king to kings, as Brahma to brahmins, as a deity to commoners. And in those days when any one sneezed or slipped, they called out : — ' Glory be to the High Steward, the brahmin ! Glory be to the Minister of Seven ! '

 

59. Now the High Steward, the brahmin, continued to pervade each of the four quarters of the horizon with a heart charged with love . • . with pity . . . with sympathy in joy . . . with equanimity. And so the whole wide world above, below, around, and everywhere did he continue to pervade with heart charged with equanimity, far-reaching, expanded, infinite, free from wrath and ill will. And he taught to disciples the way to union with the world of Brahma.

 

60. Now all they who at that time had been the High Steward's disciples and in all points wholly understood his teaching, were after their death reborn into the blissful world of Brahma. They who had not in all points wholly understood his teaching, were after their death reborn into the company either of the gods who Dispose of Joys purveyed from without, or of the gods of the Heaven of Boundless Delight, or of the gods of the Heavens of Bliss, or of the Yama gods, [25l] or of the Three-and-Thirty gods, or of the gods who are the Four Kings of the Horizon. Even they who accomplished the lowest realm of all, attained to the realm of the Gandharva fairies.

Thus of all those clansmen there was not one whose renunciation proved vain or barren ; in each case it bore fruit and development.'

 

61. ' Does the Exalted One remember?'

 

' I do remember, Five-crest. I was the High Steward of those days. 1 I taught my disciples the way to communion with the Brahma world. But, Five-crest, that religious life did not conduce to detachment, to passionlessness, to cessation of craving, to peace, to understanding, to insight of the higher stages of the Path, to Nirvana, but only to rebirth in the Brahma-world. On the other hand my religious system, Five-crest, conduces wholly and solely to detachment, to passionlessness, to cessation of craving, to peace, to understanding, to insight of the higher stages of the Path, to Nirvana. And that is the Aryan Eightfold Path, to wit, right views, right intention, right speech, right, action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right rapture.

 

62. ' Those of my disciples, Five-crest, who in all points wholly understand my teaching, they from the

 

1 In spile of this express statement this legend of the High Steward does not appear in the canonical collection of Birth Stories. See Rhys Davids's ' Buddhist India,' p. 196, for other instances.

 

destruction of the Deadly Taints have by and for themselves understood, realized and attained to, even in this life, freedom from taint, liberty of heart, liberty of intellect. [252] Those who do not in all points wholly understand my teaching, some of them, in that they have broken away the five Fetters belonging to the Hither Side, are reborn without parents, where they will utterly pass away, being no more liable to return to this world. And some of them, in that they have broken away three [other] Fetters, and have worn down passion and hate and dulness, become Once-Returners, who after once returning to this world shall make an end of 111. And some of them, again, in that they have broken away those three Fetters, become Stream-Attainers, not liable to be reborn in any state of woe, but assured of attaining to the Insight. And so, Five-crest, of all, even all those persons, there is not one whose renunciation is vain or barren ; in each case it will have brought fruit and development' Thus spoke the Exalted One. And Five-crest of the Gandharva fairies was pleased at the word of the Exalted One, and in delight and gladness he saluted the Exalted One, and with the salutation of the right side he vanished from that place.

 

Here endeth the Story of the Lord High Steward.