Theosophical University Press Online Edition
"Not to commit any sin, to do good, and to purify one's mind, that is the teaching of the Awakened. . . .
"Better than Sovereignty over the earth, better than going to heaven, better than lordship over all the worlds is the reward of the first step in holiness." — Dhammapada, verses 178-183.
"Creator, where are these tribunals, where do these courts proceed, where do these courts assemble, where do the tribunals meet to which the man of the embodied world gives an account for his soul?" — Persian Vendidad, xix. 89.
"Hail to thee O Man, who art come from the transitory place to the imperishable!" — Vendidad, farg. vii., 136.
"To the true believer, truth, wherever it appears, is welcome, nor will any doctrine seem the less true or the less precious, because it was seen not only by Moses or Christ, but likewise by Buddha or Lao-tse." — MAX MULLER.
UNLUCKILY for those who would have been glad to render justice to the ancient and modern religious philosophies of the Orient, a fair opportunity has hardly ever been given to them. Of late there has been a touching accord between philologists holding high official positions, and missionaries from heathen lands. Prudence before truth when the latter endangers our sinecures! Besides, how easy to compromise with conscience. A State religion is a prop of government; all State religions are "exploded humbugs"; therefore, since one is as good, or rather as bad, as another, the State religion may as well be supported. Such is the diplomacy of official science.
Grote in his History of Greece, assimilates the Pythagoreans to the Jesuits, and sees in their Brotherhood but an ably-disguised object to acquire political ascendancy. On the loose testimony of Herakleitus and some other writers, who accused Pythagoras of craft, and described him as a man "of extensive research . . . but artful for mischief and destitute of sound judgment," some historical biographers hastened to present him to posterity in such a character.
How then if they must accept the Pythagoras painted by the satirical Timon: "a juggler of solemn speech engaged in fishing for men," can they avoid judging of Jesus from the sketch that Celsus has embalmed in his satire? Historical impartiality has nought to do with creeds and personal beliefs, and exacts as much of posterity for one as for the other. The life and doings of Jesus are far less attested than
those of Pythagoras, if, indeed, we can say that they are attested at all by any historical proof. For assuredly no one will gainsay that as a real personage Celsus has the advantage as regards the credibility of his testimony over Matthew, or Mark, or Luke, or John, who never wrote a line of the Gospels attributed to them respectively. Withal Celsus is at least as good a witness as Herakleitus. He was known as a scholar and a Neo-platonist to some of the Fathers; whereas the very existence of the four Apostles must be taken on blind faith. If Timon regarded the sublime Samian as "a juggler," so did Celsus hold Jesus, or rather those who made all the pretenses for him. In his famous work, addressing the Nazarene, he says: "Let us grant that the wonders were performed by you . . . but are they not common with those who have been taught by the Egyptians to perform in the middle of the forum for a few oboli." And we know, on the authority of the Gospel according to Matthew, that the Galilean prophet was also a man of solemn speech, and that he called himself and offered to make his disciples "fishers of men."
Let it not be imagined that we bring this reproach to any who revere Jesus as God. Whatever the faith, if the worshipper be but sincere, it should be respected in his presence. If we do not accept Jesus as God, we revere him as a man. Such a feeling honors him more than if we were to attribute to him the powers and personality of the Supreme, and credit him at the same time with having played a useless comedy with mankind, as, after all, his mission proves scarcely less than a complete failure; 2,000 years have passed, and Christians do not reckon one-fifth part of the population of the globe, nor is Christianity likely to progress any better in the future. No, we aim but at strict justice, leaving all personality aside. We question those who, adoring neither Jesus, Pythagoras, nor Apollonius, yet recite the idle gossip of their contemporaries; those who in their books either maintain a prudent silence, or speak of "our Saviour" and "our Lord," as though they believed any more in the made-up theological Christ, than in the fabulous Fo of China.
There were no Atheists in those days of old; no disbelievers or materialists, in the modern sense of the word, as there were no bigoted detractors. He who judges the ancient philosophies by their external phraseology, and quotes from ancient writings sentences seemingly atheistical, is unfit to be trusted as a critic, for he is unable to penetrate into the inner sense of their metaphysics. The views of Pyrrho, whose rationalism has become proverbial, can be interpreted only by the light of the oldest Hindu philosophy. From Manu down to the latest Swabhavika, its leading metaphysical feature ever was to proclaim the reality and supremacy of spirit, with a vehemence proportionate to the denial of the objective existence of our material world — passing phantom of
temporary forms and beings. The numerous schools begotten by Kapila, reflect his philosophy no clearer than the doctrines left as a legacy to thinkers by Timon, Pyrrho's "Prophet," as Sextus Empiricus calls him. His views on the divine repose of the soul, his proud indifference to the opinion of his fellow men, his contempt for sophistry, reflect in an equal degree stray beams of the self-contemplation of the Gymnosophists and of the Buddhist Vaibhashika. Notwithstanding that he and his followers are termed, from their state of constant suspense, "skeptics," "doubters," inquirers, and ephectics, only because they postponed their final judgment on dilemmas, with which our modern philosophers prefer dealing, Alexander-like, by cutting the Gordian knot, and then declaring the dilemma a superstition, such men as Pyrrho cannot be pronounced atheists. No more can Kapila, or Giordano Bruno, or again Spinoza, who were also treated as atheists; nor yet, the great Hindu poet, philosopher, and dialectician, Veda-Vyasa, whose principle that all is illusion — save the Great Unknown and His direct essence — Pyrrho has adopted in full.
These philosophical beliefs extended like a net-work over the whole pre-Christian world; and, surviving persecution and misrepresentations, form the corner-stone of every now existing religion outside Christianity.
Comparative theology is a two-edged weapon, and has so proved itself. But the Christian advocates, unabashed by evidence, force comparison in the serenest way; Christian legends and dogmas, they say, do somewhat resemble the heathen, it is true; but see, while the one teaches us the existence, powers, and attributes of an all-wise, all-good Father-God, Brahmanism gives us a multitude of minor gods, and Buddhism none whatever; one is fetishism and polytheism, the other bald atheism. Jehovah is the one true God, and the Pope and Martin Luther are His prophets! This is one edge of the sword, and this the other: Despite missions, despite armies, despite enforced commercial intercourse, the "heathen" find nothing in the teachings of Jesus — sublime though some are — that Christna and Gautama had not taught them before. And so, to gain over any new converts, and keep the few already won by centuries of cunning, the Christians give the "heathen" dogmas more absurd than their own, and cheat them by adopting the habit of their native priests, and practicing the very "idolatry and fetishism" which they so disparage in the "heathens." Comparative theology works both ways.
In Siam and Burmah, Catholic missionaries have become perfect Talapoins to all external appearance, i.e., minus their virtues; and throughout India, especially in the south, they were denounced by their
own colleague, the Abbe Dubois.* This was afterward vehemently denied. But now we have living witnesses to the correctness of the charge. Among others, Captain O'Grady, already quoted, a native of Madras, writes the following on this systematic method of deception:** "The hypocritical beggars profess total abstinence and horror of flesh to conciliate converts from Hinduism. . . . I got one father, or rather, he got himself gloriously drunk in my house, time and again, and the way he pitched into roast beef was a caution." Further, the author has pretty stories to tell of "black-faced Christs," "Virgins on wheels," and of Catholic processions in general. We have seen such solemn ceremonies accompanied by the most infernal cacophony of a Cingalese orchestra, tam-tam and gongs included, followed by a like Brahmanic procession, which, for its picturesque coloring and mise en scene, looked far more solemn and imposing than the Christian saturnalias. Speaking of one of these, the same author remarks: "It was more devilish than religious. . . . The bishops walked off Romeward,*** with a mighty pile of Peter's pence gathered in the minutest sums, with gold ornaments, nose-rings, anklets, elbow bangles, etc., etc., in profusion, recklessly thrown in heaps at the feet of the grotesque copper-colored image of the Saviour, with its Dutch metal halo and gaudily-striped cummerbund and — shade of Raphael! — blue turban."****
As every one can see, such voluntary contributions make it quite profitable to mimic the native Brahmans and bonzes. Between the worshippers of Christna and Christ, or Avany and the Virgin Mary, there is less substantial difference, in fact, than between the two native sects, the Vishnavites and the Sivites. For the converted Hindus, Christ is a slightly modified Christna, that is all. Missionaries carry away rich donations and Rome is satisfied. Then comes a year of famine; but the nose-rings and gold elbow-bangles are gone and people starve by thousands. What matters it? They die in Christ, and Rome scatters her blessings over their corpses, of which thousands float yearly down the sacred rivers to the ocean.***** So servile are the Catholics in their imita-
* "Edinburgh Review," April, 1851, p. 411.
** "Indian Sketches; or Life in the East," written for the "Commercial Bulletin," of Boston.
*** See chapter ii. of this vol., p. 110.
**** It would be worth the trouble of an artist, while travelling around the world, to make a collection of the multitudinous varieties of Madonnas, Christs, saints, and martyrs as they appear in various costumes in different countries. They would furnish models for masquerade balls in aid of church charities!
***** Even as we write, there comes from Earl Salisbury, Secretary of State for India, a report that the Madras famine is to be followed by one probably still more severe in Southern India, the very district where the heaviest tribute has been exacted by the [[Footnote continued on next page]]
tion, and so careful not to give offense to their parishioners, that if they happen to have a few higher caste converts in a Church, no pariah nor any man of the lower castes, however good a Christian he may be, can be admitted into the same Church with them. And yet they dare call themselves the servants of Him who sought in preference the society of the publicans and sinners; and whose appeal — "Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" has opened to him the hearts of millions of the suffering and the oppressed!
Few writers are as bold and outspoken as the late lamented Dr. Thomas Inman, of Liverpool, England. But however small their number, these men all agree unanimously, that the philosophy of both Buddhism and Brahmanism must rank higher than Christian theology, and teach neither atheism or fetishism. "To my own mind," says Inman, "the assertion that Sakya did not believe in God is wholly unsupported. Nay, his whole scheme is built upon the belief that there are powers above which are capable of punishing mankind for their sins. It is true that these gods were not called Elohim, nor Jah, nor Jehovah, nor Jahveh, nor Adonai, nor Ehieh, nor Baalim, nor Ashtoreth — yet, for the son of Suddhadana, there was a Supreme Being."*
There are four schools of Buddhist theology, in Ceylon, Thibet, and India. One is rather pantheistical than atheistical, but the other three are purely theistical.
On the first the speculations of our philologists are based. As to the second, third, and the fourth, their teachings vary but in the external mode of expression. We have fully explained the spirit of it elsewhere.
As to practical, not theoretical views on the Nirvana, this is what a rationalist and a skeptic says: "I have questioned at the very doors of their temples several hundreds of Buddhists, and have not found one but strove, fasted, and gave himself up to every kind of austerity, to perfect himself and acquire immortality; not to attain final annihilation.
"There are over 300,000,000 of Buddhists who fast, pray, and toil. . . . Why make of these 300,000,000 of men idiots and fools, macerating their bodies and imposing upon themselves most fearful privations of every nature, in order to reach a fatal annihilation which must overtake them anyhow?"**
As well as this author we have questioned Buddhists and Brahmanists and studied their philosophy. Apavarg has wholly a different meaning
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] Catholic missionaries for the expenses of the Church of Rome. The latter, unable to retaliate otherwise, despoils British subjects, and when famine comes as a consequence, makes the heretical British Government pay for it.
* "Ancient Faiths and Modern," p. 24.
** "Fetichisme, Polytheisme, Monotheisme."
from annihilation. It is but to become more and more like Him, of whom he is one of the refulgent sparks, that is the aspiration of every Hindu philosopher and the hope of the most ignorant is never to yield up his distinct individuality. "Else," as once remarked an esteemed correspondent of the author, "mundane and separate existence would look like God's comedy and our tragedy; sport to Him that we work and suffer, death to us to suffer it."
The same with the doctrine of metempsychosis, so distorted by European scholars. But as the work of translation and analysis progresses, fresh religious beauties will be discovered in the old faiths.
Professor Whitney has in his translation of the Vedas passages in which he says, the assumed importance of the body to its old tenant is brought out in the strongest light. These are portions of hymns read at the funeral services, over the body of the departed one. We quote them from Mr. Whitney's scholarly work:
"Start onward! bring together all thy members;
let not thy limbs be left, nor yet thy body;
Thy spirit gone before, now follow after;
Wherever it delights thee, go thou thither.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Collect thy body; with its every member;
thy limbs with help of rites I fashion for thee.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
If some one limb was left behind by Agni,
When to thy Fathers' world he hence conveyed you,
That very one I now again supply you;
rejoice in heaven with all your limbs, ye Fathers!"*
The "body" here referred to is not the physical, but the astral one — a very great distinction, as may be seen.
Again, belief in the individual existence of the immortal spirit of man is shown in the following verses of the Hindu ceremonial of incremation and burial.
"They who within the sphere of earth are stationed,
or who are settled now in realms of pleasure,
The Fathers who have the earth — the atmosphere — the heaven for their seat,
The 'fore-heaven' the third heaven is styled,
and where the Fathers have their seat." — (Rig-Veda, x.)
With such majestic views as these people held of God and the immortality of man's spirit, it is not surprising that a comparison between the
* "Oriental and Linguistic Studies," "Vedic Doctrine of a Future Life," by W. Dwight Whitney, Prof. of Sanscrit and Comparative Philology at Yale College.
Vedic hymns and the narrow, unspiritual Mosaic books should result to the advantage of the former in the mind of every unprejudiced scholar. Even the ethical code of Manu is incomparably higher than that of the Pentateuch of Moses, in the literal meaning of which all the uninitiated scholars of two worlds cannot find a single proof that the ancient Jews believed either in a future life or an immortal spirit in man, or that Moses himself ever taught it. Yet, we have eminent Orientalists who begin to suspect that the "dead letter" conceals something not apparent at first sight. So Professor Whitney tells us that "as we look yet further into the forms of the modern Hindu ceremonial we discover not a little of the same discordance between creed and observance; the one is not explained by the other," says this great American scholar. He adds: "We are forced to the conclusion either that India derived its system of rites from some foreign source, and practiced them blindly, careless of their true import, or else that those rites are the production of another doctrine of older date, and have maintained themselves in popular usage after the decay of the creed of which they were the original expression."*
This creed has not decayed, and its hidden philosophy, as understood now by the initiated Hindus, is just as it was 10,000 years ago. But can our scholars seriously hope to have it delivered unto them upon their first demand? Or do they still expect to fathom the mysteries of the World-Religion in its popular exoteric rites?
No orthodox Brahmans and Buddhists would deny the Christian incarnation; only, they understand it in their own philosophical way, and how could they deny it? The very corner-stone of their religious system is periodical incarnations of the Deity. Whenever humanity is about merging into materialism and moral degradation, a Supreme Spirit incarnates himself in his creature selected for the purpose. The "Messenger of the Highest" links itself with the duality of matter and soul, and the triad being thus completed by the union of its Crown, a saviour is born, who helps restore humanity to the path of truth and virtue. The early Christian Church, all imbued with Asiatic philosophy, evidently shared the same belief — otherwise it would have neither erected into an article of faith the second advent, nor cunningly invented the fable of Anti-Christ as a precaution against possible future incarnations. Neither could they have imagined that Melchisedek was an avatar of Christ. They had only to turn to the Bagavedgitta to find Christna or Bhagaved saying to Arjuna: "He who follows me is saved by wisdom and even by works. . . . As often as virtue declines in the world, I make myself manifest to save it."
* "Oriental and Linguistic Studies," p. 48.
Indeed, it is more than difficult to avoid sharing this doctrine of periodical incarnations. Has not the world witnessed, at rare intervals, the advent of such grand characters as Christna, Sakya-muni, and Jesus? Like the two latter personages, Christna seems to have been a real being, deified by his school at some time in the twilight of history, and made to fit into the frame of the time-honored religious programme. Compare the two Redeemers, the Hindu and the Christian, the one preceding the other by some thousands of years; place between them Siddhartha Buddha, reflecting Christna and projecting into the night of the future his own luminous shadow, out of whose collected rays were shaped the outlines of the mythical Jesus, and from whose teachings were drawn those of the historical Christos; and we find that under one identical garment of poetical legend lived and breathed three real human figures. The individual merit of each of them is rather brought out in stronger relief than otherwise by this same mythical coloring; for no unworthy character could have been selected for deification by the popular instinct, so unerring and just when left untrammeled. Vox populi, vox Dei was once true, however erroneous when applied to the present priest-ridden mob.
Kapila, Orpheus, Pythagoras, Plato, Basilides, Marcian, Ammonius and Plotinus, founded schools and sowed the germs of many a noble thought, and disappearing left behind them the refulgence of demi-gods. But the three personalities of Christna, Gautama, and Jesus appeared like true gods, each in his epoch, and bequeathed to humanity three religions built on the imperishable rock of ages. That all three, especially the Christian faith, have in time become adulterated, and the latter almost unrecognizable, is no fault of either of the noble Reformers. It is the priestly self-styled husbandmen of the "vine of the Lord" who must be held to account by future generations. Purify the three systems of the dross of human dogmas, the pure essence remaining will be found identical. Even Paul, the great, the honest apostle, in the glow of his enthusiasm either unwittingly perverted the doctrines of Jesus, or else his writings are disfigured beyond recognition. The Talmud, the record of a people who, notwithstanding his apostasy from Judaism, yet feel compelled to acknowledge Paul's greatness as a philosopher and religionist, says of Aher (Paul),*
* In his article on "Paul, the Founder of Christianity," Professor A. Wilder, whose intuitions of truth are always clear, says: "In the person of Aher we recognize the Apostle Paul. He appears to have been known by a variety of appellations. He was named Saul, evidently because of his vision of Paradise — Saul or Sheol being the Hebrew name of the other world. Paul, which only means 'the little man,' was a species of nickname. Aher, or other, was an epithet in the Bible for persons outside of the Jewish polity, and was applied to him for having extended his ministry to the Gentiles. His real name was Elisha ben Abuiah."
in the Yerushalmi, that "he corrupted the work of that man" — meaning Jesus.*
Meanwhile, before this smelting is completed by honest science and future generations, let us glance at the present aspect of the legendary three religions.
THE LEGENDS OF THREE SAVIOURS.
Epoch: Uncertain. European science fears to commit itself. But the Brahmanical calculations fix it at about 6,877 years ago.
Christna descends of a royal family, but is brought up by shepherds; is called the Shepherd God. His birth and divine descent are kept secret from Kansa.
An incarnation of Vishnu, the second person of the Trimurti (Trinity). Christna was worshipped at Mathura, on the river Jumna (See Strabo and Arrian and Bampton Lectures, pp. 98-100).
Christna is persecuted by Kansa, Tyrant of Madura, but miraculously escapes. In the hope of destroying the child, the king has thousands of male innocents slaughtered.
Christna's mother was Devaki, or Devanagui, an immaculate virgin (but had given birth to eight sons before Christna).
: According to European science and the Ceylonese calculations, 2,540 years ago.
Gautama is the son of a king. His first disciples are shepherds and mendicants.
According to some, an incarnation of Vishnu; according to others, an incarnation of one of the Buddhas, and even of Ad'Buddha, the Highest Wisdom.
Buddhist legends are free from this plagiarism, but the Catholic legend that makes of him St. Josaphat, shows his father, king of Kapilavastu, slaying innocent young Christians (!!). (See Golden Legend.)
Buddha's mother was Maya, or Mayadeva; married to her husband (yet an immaculate virgin).
JESUS OF NAZARETH.
: Supposed to be 1877 years ago. His birth and royal descent are concealed from Herod the tyrant.
Descends of the Royal family of David. Is worshipped by shepherds at his birth, and is called the "Good Shepherd" (See Gospel according to John).
An incarnation of the Holy Ghost, then the second person of the Trinity, now the third. But the Trinity was not invented until 325 years after his birth. Went to Mathura or Matarea, Egypt, and produced his first miracles there (See Gospel of Infancy).
Jesus is persecuted by Herod, King of Judaea, but escapes into Egypt under conduct of an angel. To assure his slaughter, Herod orders a massacre of innocents, and 40,000 were slain.
Jesus' mother was Mariam, or Miriam; married to her husband, yet an immaculate virgin, but had several children besides Jesus. (See Matthew xiii. 55, 56.)
* "In the 'Talmud' Jesus is called AUTU H-AIS, , that man." — A. Wilder.
Chistna is endowed with beauty, omniscience, and omnipotence from birth. Produces miracles, cures the lame and blind, and casts out demons. Washes the feet of the Brahmans, and descending to the lowest regions (hell), liberates the dead, and returns to Vaicontha -- the paradise of Vishnu. Christna was the God Vishnu himself in human form.
Christna creates boys out of calves, and vice versa (Maurice's Indian Antiquities, vol. ii., p. 332). He crushes the Serpent's head. (Ibid.)
Christna is Unitarian. He persecutes the clergy, charges them with ambition and hypocrisy to their faces, divulges the great secrets of the Sanctuary — the Unity of God and immortality of our spirit. Tradition says he fell a victim to their vengeance. His favorite disciple, Arjuna, never deserts him to the last. There are credible traditions that he died on the cross (a tree), nailed to it by an arrow. The best scholars agree that the Irish Cross at Tuam, erected long before the Christian era, is Asiatic. (See Round Towers, p. 296, et seq., by O'Brien; also Reli- [[Column continues on next page]]
Buddha is endowed with the same powers and qualities, and performs similar wonders. Passes his life with mendicants. It is claimed for Gautama that he was distinct from all other Avatars, having the entire spirit of Buddha in him, while all others had but a part (ansa) of the divinity in them.
Gautama crushes the Serpent's head, i.e., abolishes the Naga worship as fetishism; but, like Jesus, makes the Serpent the emblem of divine wisdom.
Buddha abolishes idolatry; divulges the Mysteries of the Unity of God and the Nirvana, the true meaning of which was previously known only to the priests. Persecuted and driven out of the country, he escapes death by gathering about him some hundreds of thousands of believers in his Buddhaship. Finally, dies, surrounded by a host of disciples, with Ananda, his beloved disciple and cousin, chief among them all. O'Brien believes that the Irish Cross at Tuam is meant for Buddha's, but Gautama was never crucified. He is represented in many temples, as sit- [[Column continues on next page]]
JESUS OF NAZARETH.
Jesus is similarly endowed. (See Gospels and the Apocryphal Testament.) Passes his life with sinners and publicans. Casts out demons likewise. The only notable difference between the three is that Jesus is charged with casting out devils by the power of Beelzebub, which the others were not. Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, dies, descends to hell, and ascends to heaven, after liberating the dead.
Jesus is said to have crushed the Serpent's head, agreeably to original revelation in Genesis. He also transforms boys into kids, and kids into boys. (Gospel of Infancy.)
Jesus rebels against the old Jewish law; denounces the Scribes, and Pharisees, and the synagogue for hypocrisy and dogmatic intolerance. Breaks the Sabbath, and defies the Law. Is accused by the Jews of divulging the secrets of the Sanctuary. Is put to death on a cross (a tree). Of the little handful of disciples whom he had converted, one betrays him, one denies him, and the others desert him at the last, except John — the disciple he loved. Jesus, Christna, and Buddha, all three Saviours, die either on or under trees, and are connected with crosses which [[Column continues on next page]]
[[Column 1 contined from previous page]]
gions de l'Antiquie;
Creuzer's Symbolik, vol. i., p. 208; and engraving in Dr. Lundy's Monumental Christianity, p. 160.
Christna ascends to Swarga and becomes Nirguna.
[[Column 2 contined from previous page]]
ting under a cruciform tree, which is the "Tree of Life." In another image he is sitting on Naga the Raja of Serpents with a cross on his breast.*
Buddha ascends to Nirvana.
[[Column 3 contined from previous page]]
JESUS OF NAZARETH.
are symbolical of the three-fold powers of creation.
Jesus ascends to Paradise.
About the middle of the present century, the followers of these three religions were reckoned as follows:**
Such is the present aspect of these three great religions, of which each is in turn reflected in its successor. Had the Christian dogmatizers stopped there, the results would not have been so disastrous, for it would be hard, indeed, to make a bad creed out of the lofty teachings of Gautama, or Christna, as Bhagaved. But they went farther, and added to pure primitive Christianity the fables of Hercules, Orpheus, and Bacchus. As Mussulmans will not admit that their Koran is built on the substratum of the Jewish Bible, so the Christians will not confess that they owe next to everything to the Hindu religions. But the Hindus have chronology to prove it to them. We see the best and most learned of our writers uselessly striving to show that the extraordinary similarities — amounting to identity — between Christna and Christ are due to the spurious Gospels of the Infancy and of St. Thomas having "probably circulated on the coast of Malabar, and giving color to the story of Christna."*** Why not accept truth in all sincerity, and reversing matters, admit that St. Thomas, faithful to that policy of proselytism which marked the earliest Christians, when he found in Malabar the original of the mythical Christ in Christna, tried to blend the two; and, adopting in his gospel (from which all others were copied) the most important details of the story of the Hindu Avatar, engrafted the Christian heresy on the primitive religion of Christna. For any one acquainted with the spirit of Brahmanism, the idea of Brahmans accepting anything from a stranger, especially from a foreigner, is simply ridiculous. That they, the most fanatic people in religious matters, who, during centuries, cannot be compelled to adopt the most simple of European usages, should be suspected of having introduced into their sacred books unveri-
* See Moor's plates, 75, No. 3.
** Max Muller's estimate.
*** Dr. Lundy: "Monumental Christianity," p. 153.
fied legends about a foreign God, is something so preposterously illogical, that it is really waste of time to contradict the idea!
We will not stop to examine the too well-known resemblances between the external form of Buddhistic worship — especially Lamaism — and Roman Catholicism, for noticing which poor Huc paid dear — but proceed to compare the most vital points. Of all the original manuscripts that have been translated from the various languages in which Buddhism is expounded, the most extraordinary and interesting are Buddha's Dhammapada, or Path of Virtue, translated from the Pali by Colonel Rogers,* and the Wheel of the Law, containing the views of a Siamese Minister of State on his own and other religions, and translated by Henry Alabaster.** The reading of these two books, and the discovery in them of similarities of thought and doctrine often amounting to identity, prompted Dr. Inman to write the many profoundly true passages embodied in one of his last works, Ancient Faith and Modern.*** "I speak with sober earnestness," writes this kind-hearted, sincere scholar, "when I say that after forty years' experience among those who profess Christianity, and those who proclaim . . . more or less quietly their disagreement with it, I have noticed more sterling virtue and morality amongst the last than the first. . . . I know personally many pious, good Christian people, whom I honor, admire, and, perhaps, would be glad to emulate or to equal; but they deserve the eulogy thus passed on them, in consequence of their good sense, having ignored the doctrine of faith to a great degree, and having cultivated the practice of good works. . . . In my judgment the most praiseworthy Christians whom I know are modified Buddhists, though probably, not one of them ever heard of Siddartha."****
Between the Lamaico-Buddhistic and Roman Catholic articles of faith and ceremonies, there are fifty-one points presenting a perfect and striking similarity; and four diametrically antagonistic.
As it would be useless to enumerate the "similarities," for the reader may find them carefully noted in Inman's work on Ancient Faith and Modern, pp. 237-240, we will quote but the four dissimilarities, and leave every one to draw his own deductions therefrom:
1. "The Buddhists hold that nothing which is contradicted by sound reason can be a true doctrine of Buddha." [[Column continued on next page]]
1. "The Christians will accept any non-sense, if promulgated by the Church as a matter of faith."***** [[Column continued on next page]]
* Buddhaghosa's "Parables," translated from the Burmese, by Col. H. T. Rogers, R. E.; with an introduction by M. Muller, containing "Dhammapada," 1870.
** Interpreter of the Consulate-General in Siam.
*** "Ancient Faith and Modern," p. 162.
***** The words contained within quotation marks are Inman's.
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2. "The Buddhists do not adore the mother of Sakya," though they honor her as a holy and saint-like woman, chosen to be his mother through her great virtue.
3. "The Buddhists have no sacraments."
4. The Buddhists do not believe in any pardon for their sins, except after an adequate punishment for each evil deed, and a proportionate compensation to the parties injured.
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2. "The Romanists adore the mother of Jesus, and prayer is made to her for aid and intercession." The worship of the Virgin has weakened that of Christ and thrown entirely into the shadow that of the Almighty.
3. "The papal followers have seven."
4. The Christians are promised that if they only believe in the "precious blood of Christ," this blood offered by Him for the expiation of the sins of the whole of mankind (read Christians) will atone for every mortal sin.
Which of these theologies most commends itself to the sincere inquirer, is a question that may safely be left to the sound judgment of the reader. One offers light, the other darkness.
The Wheel of the Law has the following:
"Buddhists believe that every act, word, or thought has its consequence, which will appear sooner or later in the present or in the future state. Evil acts will produce evil consequences,* good acts will produce good consequences: prosperity in this world, or birth in heaven . . . in some future state."**
This is strict and impartial justice. This is the idea of a Supreme Power which cannot fail, and therefore, can have neither wrath nor mercy, but leaves every cause, great or small, to work out its inevitable effects. "With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again"*** neither by expression nor implication points to any hope of future mercy or salvation by proxy. Cruelty and mercy are finite feelings. The Supreme Deity is infinite, hence it can only be JUST, and Justice must be blind. The ancient Pagans held on this question far more philosophical views than modern Christians, for they represented their Themis blindfold. And the Siamese author of the work under notice, has again a more reverent conception of the Deity than the Christians have, when he thus gives vent to his thought: "A Buddhist might believe in the existence of a God, sublime above all human qualities and attributes — a perfect God, above love, and hatred, and jealousy, calmly resting in a quiet happiness that nothing could disturb; and of such a God he would speak no disparagement, not from a desire to please Him, or fear to offend Him, but from natural veneration. But he cannot understand a God with the attributes and qualities of men, a God who loves and hates, and shows anger; a Deity, who, whether described to
* See vol. i. of this work, p. 319.
** p. 57.
*** Matthew vii. 2.
him by Christian missionaries, or by Mahometans, or Brahmans, or Jews, falls below his standard of even an ordinary good man."*
We have often wondered at the extraordinary ideas of God and His justice that seem to be honestly held by those Christians who blindly rely upon the clergy for their religion, and never upon their own reason. How strangely illogical is this doctrine of the Atonement. We propose to discuss it with the Christians from the Buddhistic stand-point, and show at once by what a series of sophistries, directed toward the one object of tightening the ecclesiastical yoke upon the popular neck, its acceptance as a divine command has been finally effected; also, that it has proved one of the most pernicious and demoralizing of doctrines.
The clergy say: no matter how enormous our crimes against the laws of God and of man, we have but to believe in the self-sacrifice of Jesus for the salvation of mankind, and His blood will wash out every stain. God's mercy is boundless and unfathomable. It is impossible to conceive of a human sin so damnable that the price paid in advance for the redemption of the sinner would not wipe it out if a thousandfold worse. And, furthermore, it is never too late to repent. Though the offender wait until the last minute of the last hour of the last day of his mortal life, before his blanched lips utter the confession of faith, he may go to Paradise; the dying thief did it, and so may all others as vile. These are the assumptions of the Church.
But if we step outside the little circle of creed and consider the universe as a whole balanced by the exquisite adjustment of parts, how all sound logic, how the faintest glimmering sense of Justice revolts against this Vicarious Atonement! If the criminal sinned only against himself, and wronged no one but himself; if by sincere repentance he could cause the obliteration of past events, not only from the memory of man, but also from that imperishable record, which no deity — not even the Supremest of the Supreme — can cause to disappear, then this dogma might not be incomprehensible. But to maintain that one may wrong his fellow-man, kill, disturb the equilibrium of society, and the natural order of things, and then — through cowardice, hope, or compulsion, matters not — be forgiven by believing that the spilling of one blood washes out the other blood spirt — this is preposterous! Can the results of a crime be obliterated even though the crime itself should be pardoned? The effects of a cause are never limited to the boundaries of the cause, nor can the results of crime be confined to the offender and his victim. Every good as well as evil action has its effects, as palpably as the stone flung into a calm water. The simile is trite, but it is the best ever conceived, so let us use
* P. 25.
it. The eddying circles are greater and swifter, as the disturbing object is greater or smaller, but the smallest pebble, nay, the tiniest speck, makes its ripples. And this disturbance is not alone visible and on the surface. Below, unseen, in every direction — outward and downward — drop pushes drop until the sides and bottom are touched by the force. More, the air, above the water is agitated, and this disturbance passes, as the physicists tell us, from stratum to stratum out into space forever and ever; an impulse has been given to matter, and that is never lost, can never be recalled! . . .
So with crime, and so with its opposite. The action may be instantaneous, the effects are eternal. When, after the stone is once flung into the pond, we can recall it to the hand, roll back the ripples, obliterate the force expended, restore the etheric waves to their previous state of non-being, and wipe out every trace of the act of throwing the missile, so that Time's record shall not show that it ever happened, then, then we may patiently hear Christians argue for the efficacy of this Atonement.
The Chicago Times recently printed the hangman's record of the first half of the present year (1877) — a long and ghastly record of murders and hangings. Nearly every one of these murderers received religious consolation, and many announced that they had received God's forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, and were going that day to Heaven! Their conversion was effected in prison. See how this ledger-balance of Christian justice (!) stands: These red-handed murderers, urged on by the demons of lust, revenge, cupidity, fanaticism, or mere brutal thirst for blood, slew their victims, in most cases, without giving them time to repent, or call on Jesus to wash them clean with his blood. They, perhaps, died sinful, and, of course, — consistently with theological logic — met the reward of their greater or lesser offenses. But the murderer, overtaken by human justice, is imprisoned, wept over by sentimentalists, prayed with and at, pronounces the charmed words of conversion, and goes to the scaffold a redeemed child of Jesus! Except for the murder, he would not have been prayed with, redeemed, pardoned. Clearly this man did well to murder, for thus he gained eternal happiness? And how about the victim, and his or her family, relatives, dependants, social relations — has justice no recompense for them? Must they suffer in this world and the next, while he who wronged them sits beside the "holy thief" of Calvary and is forever blessed? On this question the clergy keep a prudent silence.
Steve Anderson was one of these American criminals — convicted of double murder, arson, and robbery. Before the hour of his death he was "converted," but, the record tells us that "his clerical attendants objected to his reprieve, on the ground that they felt sure of his salvation
should he die then, but could not answer for it if his execution was postponed." We address these ministers, and ask them to tell us on what grounds they felt sure of such a monstrous thing. How they could feel sure, with the dark future before them, and the endless results of this double murder, arson, and robbery? They could be sure of nothing, but that their abominable doctrine is the cause of three-fourths of the crimes of so-called Christians; that these terrific causes must produce like monstrous effects, which in their turn will beget other results, and so roll on throughout eternity to an accomplishment that no man can calculate.
Or take another crime, one of the most selfish, cruel, and heartless, and yet the most frequent, the seduction of a young girl. Society, by an instinct of self-preservation, pitilessly judges the victim, and ostracizes her. She may be driven to infanticide, or self-murder, or if too averse to die, live to plunge into a career of vice and crime. She may become the mother of criminals, who, as in the now celebrated Jukes, of whose appalling details Mr. Dugdale has published the particulars, breed other generations of felons to the number of hundreds, in fifty or sixty years. All this social disaster came through one man's selfish passion; shall he be forgiven by Divine Justice until his offense is expiated, and punishment fall only upon the wretched human scorpions begotten of his lust?
An outcry has just been made in England over the discovery that Anglican priests are largely introducing auricular confession and granting absolution after enforcing penances. Inquiry shows the same thing prevailing more or less in the United States. Put to the ordeal of cross-examination, the clergy quote triumphantly from the English Book of Common Prayer the rubrics which clearly give them the absolving authority, through the power of "God, the Holy Ghost," committed unto them by the bishop by imposition of hands at their ordination. The bishop, questioned, points to Matthew xvi., 19, for the source of his authority to bind and loose on earth those who are to be blessed or damned in heaven; and to the apostolic succession for proof of its transmission from Simon Barjona to himself. The present volumes have been written to small purpose if they have not shown, 1, that Jesus, the Christ-God, is a myth concocted two centuries after the real Hebrew Jesus died; 2, that, therefore, he never had any authority to give Peter, or any one else, plenary power; 3, that even if he had given such authority, the word Petra (rock) referred to the revealed truths of the Petroma, not to him who thrice denied him; and that besides, the apostolic succession is a gross and palpable fraud; 4, that the Gospel according to Matthew is a fabrication based upon a wholly different manuscript. The whole thing, therefore, is an imposition alike upon priest and penitent. But putting all these points aside for the moment, it suffices to ask these pretended
agents of the three gods of the Trinity, how they reconcile it with the most rudimental notions of equity, that if the power to pardon sinners for sinning has been given them, they did not also receive the ability by miracle to obliterate the wrongs done against person or property. Let them restore life to the murdered; honor to the dishonored; property to those who have been wronged, and force the scales of human and divine justice to recover their equilibrium. Then we may talk of their divine commission to bind and loose. Let them say, if they can do this. Hitherto the world has received nothing but sophistry — believed on blind faith; we ask palpable, tangible evidence of their God's justice and mercy. But all are silent; no answer, no reply, and still the inexorable unerring Law of Compensation proceeds on its unswerving path. If we but watch its progress, we will find that it ignores all creeds, shows no preferences, but its sunlight and its thunderbolts fall alike on heathen and Christian. No absolution can shield the latter when guilty, no anathema hurt the former when innocent.
Away from us such an insulting conception of divine justice as that preached by priests on their own authority. It is fit only for cowards and criminals! If they are backed by a whole array of Fathers and Churchmen, we are supported by the greatest of all authorities, an instinctive and reverential sense of the everlasting and everpresent law of harmony and justice.
But, besides that of reason, we have other evidence to show that such a construction is wholly unwarranted. The Gospels being "Divine revelation," doubtless Christians will regard their testimony as conclusive. Do they affirm that Jesus gave himself as a voluntary sacrifice? On the contrary, there is not a word to sustain the idea. They make it clear that he would rather have lived to continue what he considered his mission, and that he died because he could not help it, and only when betrayed. Before, when threatened with violence, he had made himself invisible by employing the mesmeric power over the bystanders, claimed by every Eastern adept, and escaped. When, finally, he saw that his time had come, he succumbed to the inevitable. But see him in the garden, on the Mount of Olives, writhing in agony until "his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood," praying with fervid supplication that the cup might be removed from him; exhausted by his struggle to such a degree that an angel from heaven had to come and strengthen him; and say if the picture is that of a self-immolating hostage and martyr. To crown all, and leave no lingering doubt in our minds, we have his own despairing words, "NOT MY WILL, but thine, be done!" (Luke xxii. 42. 43.)
Again, in the Puranas it may be found that Christna was nailed to a tree by the arrow of a hunter, who, begging the dying god to forgive
him, receives the following answer: "Go, hunter, through my favor, to Heaven, the abode of the gods. . . . Then the illustrious Christna, having united himself with his own pure, spiritual, inexhaustible, inconceivable, unborn, undecaying, imperishable, and universal Spirit, which is one with Vasudeva, abandoned his mortal body, and . . . he became Nirguna" (Wilson's Vishnu Purana, p. 612). Is not this the original of the story of Christ forgiving the thief on the cross, and promising him a place in Heaven? Such examples "challenge inquiry as to their origin and meaning so long anterior to Christianity," says Dr. Lundy in Monumental Christianity, and yet to all this he adds: "The idea of Krishna as a shepherd, I take to be older than either (the Gospel of Infancy and that of St. John), and prophetic of Christ" (p. 156).
Facts like these, perchance, furnished later a plausible pretext for declaring apocryphal all such works as the Homilies, which proved but too clearly the utter want of any early authority for the doctrine of atonement. The Homilies clash but little with the Gospels; they disagree entirely with the dogmas of the Church. Peter knew nothing of the atonement; and his reverence for the mythical father Adam would never have allowed him to admit that this patriarch had sinned and was accursed. Neither do the Alexandrian theological schools appear to have been cognizant of this doctrine, nor Tertullian; nor was it discussed by any of the earlier Fathers. Philo represents the story of the Fall as symbolical, and Origen regarded it the same way as Paul, as an allegory.*
Whether they will or not, the Christians have to credit the foolish story of Eve's temptation by a serpent. Besides, Augustine has formally pronounced upon the subject. "God, by His arbitrary will," he says, "has selected beforehand certain persons, without regard to foreseen faith or good actions, and has irretrievably ordained to bestow upon them eternal happiness; while He has condemned others in the same way to eternal reprobation"!! (De dono perseverantae).**
* See Draper's "Conflict between Religion and Science," p. 224.
** This is the doctrine of the Supralapsarians, who asserted that "He [God] predestinated the fall of Adam, with all its pernicious consequences, from all eternity, and that our first parents had no liberty from the beginning."
It is also to this highly-moral doctrine that the Catholic world became indebted, in the eleventh century, for the institution of the Order known as the Carthusian monks. Bruno, its founder, was driven to the foundation of this monstrous Order by a circumstance well worthy of being recorded here, as it graphically illustrates this divine predestination. A friend of Bruno, a French physician, famed far and wide for his extraordinary piety, purity of morals, and charity, died, and his body was watched by Bruno himself. Three days after his death, and as he was going to be buried, the pious physician suddenly sat up in his coffin and declared, in a loud and solemn voice, "that by the [[Footnote continued on next page]]
Calvin promulgated views of Divine partiality and bloodthirstiness equally abhorrent. "The human race, corrupted radically in the fall with Adam, has upon it the guilt and impotence of original sin; its redemption can be achieved only through an incarnation and a propitiation; of this redemption only electing grace can make the soul a participant, and such grace, once given, is never lost; this election can come only from God, and it includes only a part of the race, the rest being left to perdition; election and perdition (the horribile decretum) are both predestinated in the Divine plan; that plan is a decree, and this decree is eternal and unchangeable . . . justification is by faith alone, and faith is the gift of God."
O Divine Justice, how blasphemed has been thy name! Unfortunately for all such speculations, belief in the propitiatory efficacy of blood can be traced to the oldest rites. Hardly a nation remained ignorant of it. Every people offered animal and even human sacrifices to the gods, in the hope of averting thereby public calamity, by pacifying the wrath of some avenging deity. There are instances of Greek and Roman generals offering their lives simply for the success of their army. Caesar complains of it, and calls it a superstition of the Gauls. "They devote themselves to death . . . believing that unless life is rendered for life the immortal gods cannot be appeased," he writes. "If any evil is about to befall either those who now sacrifice, or Egypt, may it be averted on this head," was pronounced by the Egyptian priests when sacrificing one of their sacred animals. And imprecations were uttered over the head of the expiatory victim, around whose horns a piece of byblus was rolled.* The animal was generally led to some barren region, sacred to Typhon, in those primitive ages when this fatal deity was yet held in a certain consideration by the Egyptians. It is in this custom that lies the origin of the "scape-goat" of the Jews, who, when the rufous ass-god was rejected by the Egyptians, began sacrificing to another deity the "red heifer."
"Let all sins that have been committed in this world fall on me that the world may be delivered," exclaimed Gautama, the Hindu Saviour, centuries before our era.
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] just judgment of God he was eternally damned." After which consoling message from beyond the "dark river," he fell back and relapsed into death.
In their turn, the Parsi theologians speak thus: "If any of you commit sin under the belief that he shall be saved by somebody, both the deceiver as well as the deceived shall be damned to the day of Rasta Khez. . . . There is no Saviour. In the other world you shall receive the return according to your actions. . . . Your Saviour is your deeds and God Himself. (1)
(1) "The Modern Parsis," lecture by Max Muller, 1862.
No one will pretend to assert in our own age that it was the Egyptians who borrowed anything from the Israelites, as they now accuse the Hindus of doing. Bunsen, Lepsius, Champollion, have long since established the precedence of Egypt over the Israelites in age as well as in all the religious rites that we now recognize among the "chosen people." Even the New Testament teems with quotations and repetitions from the Book of the Dead, and Jesus, if everything attributed to him by his four biographers is true — must have been acquainted with the Egyptian Funereal Hymns.* In the Gospel according to Matthew we find whole sentences from the ancient and sacred Ritual which preceded our era by more than 4,000 years. We will again compare.**
The "soul" under trial is brought before Osiris, the "Lord of Truth," who sits decorated with the Egyptian cross, emblem of eternal life, and holding in his right hand the Vannus or the flagellum of justice.*** The spirit begins, in the "Hall of the Two Truths," an earnest appeal, and enumerates its good deeds, supported by the responses of the forty-two assessors — its incarnated deeds and accusers. If justified, it is addressed as Osiris, thus assuming the appellation of the Deity whence its divine essence proceeded, and the following words, full of majesty and justice, are pronounced! "Let the Osiris go; ye see he is without fault. . . . He lived on truth, he has fed on truth. . . . The god has welcomed him as he desired. He has given food to my hungry, drink to my thirsty ones, clothes to my naked. . . . He has made the sacred food of the gods the meat of the spirits."
In the parable of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew xxv.), the Son of Man (Osiris is also called the Son) sits upon the throne of his glory, judging the nations, and says to the justified, "Come ye blessed of my Father (the God) inherit the kingdom. . . . For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me drink . . . naked and
* Every tradition shows that Jesus was educated in Egypt and passed his infancy and youth with the Brotherhoods of the Essenes and other mystic communities.
** Bunsen found some records which show the language and religious worship of the Egyptians, for instance, not only existing at the opening of the old Empire, "but already so fully established and fixed as to receive but a very slight development in the course of the old, middle, and modern Empires," and while this opening of the old Empire is placed by him beyond the Menes period, at least 4,000 years B.C., the origin of the ancient Hermetic prayers and hymns of the "Book of the Dead," is assigned by Bunsen to the pre-Menite dynasty of Abydos (between 4,000 and 4,500 B.C.), thus showing that "the system of Osirian worship and mythology was already formed 3,000 years before the days of Moses."
*** It was also called the "hook of attraction." Virgil terms it "Mystica vannus Iacchi," "Georgics," i., 166.
ye clothed me."* To complete the resemblance (Matthew iii. 12): John is made to describe Christ as Osiris, "whose fan (winnow or vannus) is in his hand, and who will "purge his floor and gather his wheat into the garner."
The same in relation to Buddhist legends. In Matthew iv. 19, Jesus is made to say: "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men," the whole adapted to a conversation between him and Simon Peter and Andrew his brother.
In Schmidt's "Der Weise und der Thor,"** a work full of anecdotes about Buddha and his disciples, the whole from original texts, it is said of a new convert to the faith, that "he had been caught by the hook of the doctrine, just as a fish, who has caught at the bait and line is securely pulled out." In the temples of Siam the image of the expected Buddha, the Messiah Maitree, is represented with a fisherman's net in the hand, while in Thibet he holds a kind of a trap. The explanation of it reads as follows: "He (Buddha) disseminates upon the Ocean of birth and decay the Lotus-flower of the excellent law as a bait; with the loop of devotion, never cast out in vain, he brings living beings up like fishes, and carries them to the other side of the river, where there is true understanding."***
Had the erudite Archbishop Cave, Grabe, and Dr. Parker, who so zealously contended in their time for the admission of the Epistles of Jesus Christ and Abgarus, King of Edessa, into the Canon of the Scripture, lived in our days of Max Muller and Sanscrit scholarship, we doubt whether they would have acted as they did. The first mention of these Epistles ever made, was by the famous Eusebius. This pious bishop seems to have been self-appointed to furnish Christianity with the most unexpected proofs to corroborate its wildest fancies. Whether
* In an Address to the Delegates of the Evangelical Alliance, New York, 1874, Mr. Peter Cooper, a Unitarian, and one of the noblest practical Christians of the age, closes it with the following memorable language: "In that last and final account it will be happy for us if we shall then find that our influence through life has tended to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and soothe the sorrows of those who were sick and in prison." Such words from a man who has given two million dollars in charity; educated four thousand young girls in useful arts, by which they gain a comfortable support; maintained a free public library, museum, and reading-room; classes for working people; public lectures by eminent scientists, open to all; and been foremost in all good works, throughout a long and blameless life, come with the noble force that marks the utterances of all benefactors of their kind. The deeds of Peter Cooper will cause posterity to treasure his golden sayings in its heart.
** "Aus dem Tibetischen ubersetzt und mit dem Originaltexte herausgegeben," von S. J. Schmidt.
*** "Buddhism in Tibet," by Emil Schlagintweit, 1863, p. 213.
among the many accomplishments of the Bishop of Caesarea, we must include a knowledge of the Cingalese, Pehlevi, Thibetan, and other languages, we know not; but he surely transcribed the letters of Jesus and Abgarus, and the story of the miraculous portrait of Christ taken on a piece of cloth, by the simple wiping of his face, from the Buddhistical Canon. To be sure, the bishop declared that he found the letter himself written in Syriac, preserved among the registers and records of the city of Edessa, where Abgarus reigned.* We recall the words of Babrias: "Myth, O son of King Alexander, is an ancient human invention of Syrians, who lived in old time under Ninus and Belus." Edessa was one of the ancient "holy cities." The Arabs venerate it to this day; and the purest Arabic is there spoken. They call it still by its ancient name Orfa, once the city Arpha-Kasda (Arphaxad) the seat of a College of Chaldeans and Magi; whose missionary, called Orpheus, brought thence the Bacchic Mysteries to Thrace. Very naturally, Eusebius found there the tales which he wrought over into the story of Abgarus, and the sacred picture taken on a cloth; as that of Bhagavat, or the blessed Tathagata (Buddha)** was obtained by King Binsbisara.*** The King having brought it, Bhagavat projected his shadow on it.**** This bit of "miraculous stuff," with its shadow, is still preserved, say the Buddhists; "only the shadow itself is rarely seen."
In like manner, the Gnostic author of the Gospel according to John, copied and metamorphosed the legend of Ananda who asked drink of a Matangha woman — the antitype of the woman met by Jesus at the well,*****
* "Ecclesiastical History," 1. i., c. 13.
** Tathagata is Buddha, "he who walks in the footsteps of his predecessors"; as Bhagavat — he is the Lord.
*** We have the same legend about St. Veronica — as a pendant.
**** "Introduction a l'Histoire du Bouddhisme Indien," E. Burnouf, p. 341.
***** Moses was a most notable practitioner of Hermetic Science. Bearing in mind that Moses (Asarsiph) is made to run away to the Land of Midian, and that he "sat down by a well" (Exod. ii.), we find the following:
The "Well" played a prominent part in the Mysteries of the Bacchic festivals. In the sacerdotal language of every country, it had the same significance. A well is "the fountain of salvation" mentioned in Isaiah (xii. 3). The water is the male principle in its spiritual sense. In its physical relation in the allegory of creation, the water is chaos, and chaos is the female principle vivified by the Spirit of God — the male principle. In the "Kabala," Zachar means "male"; and the Jordan was called Zachar ("Universal History," vol. ii., p. 429). It is curious that the Father of St. John the Baptist, the Prophet of Jordan — Zacchar — should be called Zachar-ias. One of the names of Bacchus is Zagreus. The ceremony of pouring water on the shrine was sacred in the Osirian rites as well as in the Mosaic institutions. In the Mishna it is said, "Thou shalt dwell in Succa and pour out water seven, and the pipes six days" ("Mishna Succah," p. 1). "Take virgin earth . . . and work up the dust with liv- [[Footnote continued on next page]]
and was reminded by her that she belongs to a low caste, and may have nothing to do with a holy monk. "I do not ask thee, my sister," answers Ananda to the woman, "either thy caste or thy family, I only ask thee for water, if thou canst give me some." This Matangha woman, charmed and moved to tears, repents, joins the monastic Order of Gautama, and becomes a saint, rescued from a life of unchastity by Sakya-muni. Many of her subsequent actions were used by Christian forgers, to endow Mary Magdalen and other female saints and martyrs.
"And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward," says the Gospel (Matthew x. 42). "Whosoever, with a purely believing heart, offers nothing but a handful of water, or presents so much to the spiritual assembly, or gives drink therewith to the poor and needy, or to a beast of the field; this meritorious action will not be exhausted in many ages,"* says the Buddhist Canon.
At the hour of Gautama-Buddha's birth there were 32,000 wonders performed. The clouds stopped immovable in the sky, the waters of the rivers ceased to flow; the flowers ceased unbudding; the birds re-
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] ing WATER," prescribes the Sohar (Introduction to "Sohar"; "Kabbala Denudata," ii., pp. 220, 221). Only "earth and water, according to Moses, can bring forth a living soul," quotes Cornelius Agrippa. The water of Bacchus was considered to impart the Holy Pneuma to the initiate; and it washes off all sin by baptism through the Holy Ghost, with the Christians. The "well" in the kabalistic sense, is the mysterious emblem of the Secret Doctrine. "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink," says Jesus (John vii.).
Therefore, Moses the adept, is naturally enough represented sitting by a well. He is approached by the seven daughters of the Kenite Priest of Midian coming to fill the troughs, to water their father's flock. Here we have seven again — the mystic number. In the present biblical allegory the daughters represent the seven occult powers. "The shepherds came and drove them (the seven daughters) away, but Moses stood up, and helped them, and watered their flock." The shepherds are shown, by some kabalistic interpreters, to represent the seven "badly-disposed Stellars" of the Nazarenes; for in the old Samaritan text the number of these Shepherds is also said to be seven (see kabalistic books).
Then Moses, who had conquered the seven evil Powers, and won the friendship of the seven occult and beneficent ones, is represented as living with the Reuel Priest of Midian, who invites "the Egyptian" to eat bread, i.e., to partake of his wisdom. In the Bible the elders of Midian are known as great soothsayers and diviners. Finally, Reuel or Jethro, the initiator and instructor of Moses, gives him in marriage his daughter. This daughter is Zipporah, i.e., the esoteric Wisdom, the shining light of knowledge, for Siprah means the "shining" or "resplendent," from the word "Sapar" to shine. Sippara, in Chaldea, was the city of the "Sun." Thus Moses was initiated by the Midianite, or rather the Kenite, and thence the biblical allegory.
* Schmidt: "Der Weise und der Thor," p. 37.
mained silent and full of wonder; all nature remained suspended in her course, and was full of expectation. "There was a preternatural light spread all over the world; animals suspended their eating; the blind saw; and the lame and dumb were cured," etc.*
We now quote from the Protevangelion:
"At the hour of the Nativity, as Joseph looked up into the air, 'I saw,' he says, 'the clouds astonished, and the fowls of the air stopping in the midst of their flight. . . . And I beheld the sheep dispersed . . . and yet the sheep stood still; and I looked into a river, and saw the kids with their mouths close to the water, and touching it, but they did not drink.
"Then a bright cloud overshadowed the cave. But on a sudden the cloud became a great light in the cave, so that their eyes could not bear it. . . . The hand of Salome, which was withered, was straightway cured. . . . The blind saw; the lame and dumb were cured."**
When sent to school, the young Gautama, without having ever studied, completely worsted all his competitors; not only in writing, but in arithmetic, mathematics, metaphysics, wrestling, archery, astronomy, geometry, and finally vanquishes his own professors by giving the definition of sixty-four kinds of writings, which were unknown to the masters themselves.***
And this is what is said again in the Gospel of the Infancy: "And when he (Jesus) was twelve years old . . . a certain principal Rabbi asked him, 'Hast thou read books?' and a certain astronomer asked the Lord Jesus whether he had studied astronomy. And Lord Jesus explained to him . . . about the spheres . . . about the physics and metaphysics. Also things that reason of man had never discovered. . . . The constitutions of the body, how the soul operated upon the body, . . . etc. And at this the master was so surprised that he said: 'I believe this boy was born before Noah . . . he is more learned than any master.' "****
The precepts of Hillel, who died forty years B. C., appear rather as quotations than original expressions in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus taught the world nothing that had not been taught as earnestly before by other masters. He begins his sermon with certain purely Buddhistic
* "Rgya. Tcher. Rol. Pa.," "History of Buddha Sakya-muni" (Sanscrit), "Lalitavistara," vol. ii., pp. 90, 91.
** "Protevangelion" (ascribed to James), ch. xiii. and xiv.
*** "Pali Buddhistical Annals," iii., p. 28; "Manual of Buddhism," 142. Hardy.
**** "Gospel of the Infancy," chap. xx., xxi.; accepted by Eusebius, Athanasius, Epiphanius, Chrysostom, Jerome, and others. The same story, with the Hindu earmarks rubbed off to avoid detection, is found at Luke ii. 46, 47.
precepts that had found acceptance among the Essenes, and were generally practiced by the Orphikoi, and the Neo-platonists. There were the Philhellenes, who, like Apollonius, had devoted their lives to moral and physical purity, and who practiced asceticism. He tries to imbue the hearts of his audience with a scorn for worldly wealth; a fakir-like unconcern for the morrow; love for humanity, poverty, and chastity. He blesses the poor in spirit, the meek, the hungering and the thirsting after righteousness, the merciful and the peace-makers, and, Buddha-like, leaves but a poor chance for the proud castes to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Every word of his sermon is an echo of the essential principles of monastic Buddhism. The ten commandments of Buddha, as found in an appendix to the Pratimoksha Sutra (Pali-Burman text), are elaborated to their full extent in Matthew. If we desire to acquaint ourselves with the historical Jesus we have to set the mythical Christ entirely aside, and learn all we can of the man in the first Gospel. His doctrines, religious views, and grandest aspirations will be found concentrated in his sermon.
This is the principal cause of the failure of missionaries to convert Brahmanists and Buddhists. These see that the little of really good that is offered in the new religion is paraded only in theory, while their own faith demands that those identical rules shall be applied in practice. Notwithstanding the impossibility for Christian missionaries to understand clearly the spirit of a religion wholly based on that doctrine of emanation which is so inimical to their own theology, the reasoning powers of some simple Buddhistical preachers are so high, that we see a scholar like Gutzlaff,* utterly silenced and put to great straits by Buddhists. Judson, the famous Baptist missionary in Burmah, confesses, in his Journal, the difficulties to which he was often driven by them. Speaking of a certain Ooyan, he remarks that his strong mind was capable of grasping the most difficult subjects. "His words," he remarks, "are as smooth as oil, as sweet as honey, and as sharp as razors; his mode of reasoning is soft, insinuating, and acute; and so adroitly does he act his part, that I with the strength of truth, was scarcely able to keep him down." It appears though, that at a later period of his mission, Mr. Judson found that he had utterly mistaken the doctrine. "I begin to find," he says, "that the semi-atheism, which I had sometimes mentioned, is nothing but a refined Buddhism, having its foundation in the Buddhistic Scriptures." Thus he discovered at last that while there is in Buddhism "a generic term of most exalted perfection actually applied to numerous individuals, a Buddha superior to the whole host of subordinate deities," there are also lurking in the
* Alabaster: "Wheel of the Law," pp. 29, 34, 35, and 38.
system "the glimmerings of an anima mundi anterior to, and even superior to, Buddha."*
This is a happy discovery, indeed!
Even the so-slandered Chinese believe in One, Highest God. "The Supreme Ruler of Heavens." Yuh-Hwang-Shang-ti, has his name inscribed only on the golden tablet before the altar of heaven at the great temple at Pekin, T'Iantan. "This worship," says Colonel Yule, "is mentioned by the Mahometan narrator of Shah Rukh's embassy (A.D. 1421): 'Every year there are some days on which the emperor eats no animal food. . . . He spends his time in an apartment which contains no idol, and says that he is worshipping the God of Heaven.' "**
Speaking of Shahrastani, the great Arabian scholar, Chwolsohn says that for him Sabaeism was not astrolatry, as many are inclined to think. He thought "that God is too sublime and too great to occupy Himself with the immediate management of this world; that He has, therefore, transferred the government thereof to the gods, and retained only the most important affairs for Himself; that further, man is too weak to be able to apply immediately to the Highest; that he must, therefore, address his prayers and sacrifices to the intermediate divinities, to whom the management of the world has been entrusted by the Highest." Chwolsohn argues that this idea is as old as the world, and that "in the heathen world this view was universally shared by the cultivated."***
Father Boori, a Portuguese missionary, who was sent to convert the "poor heathen" of Cochin-China, as early as the sixteenth century, "protests in despair, in his narrative, that there is not a dress, office, or ceremony in the Church of Rome, to which the Devil has not here provided some counterpart. Even when the Father began inveighing against the idols, he was answered that these were the images of departed great men, whom they worshipped exactly on the same principle, and in the same manner, as the Catholics did the images of the apostles and martyrs."**** Moreover, these idols have importance but in the eyes of the ignorant multitudes. The philosophy of Buddhism ignores images and fetishes. Its strongest vitality lies in its psychological conceptions of man's inner self. The road to the supreme state of felicity, called the Ford of Nirvana, winds its invisible paths through the spiritual, not physical life of a person while on this earth. The sacred Buddhistical literature points the way by stimulating man to follow practically the example of Gau-
* E. Upham: "The History and Doctrines of Buddhism," p. 135. Dr. Judson fell into this prodigious error by reason of his fanaticism. In his zeal to "save souls," he refused to peruse the Burmese classics, lest his attention should be diverted thereby.
** "Indian Antiquary," vol. ii., p. 81; "Book of Ser Marco Polo," vol. i., p. 441.
*** "Ssabismus," vol. i., p. 725.
**** Murray's "History of Discoveries in Asia."
tama. Therefore, the Buddhistical writings lay a particular stress on the spiritual privileges of man, advising him to cultivate his powers for the production of Meipo (phenomena) during life, and for the attainment of Nirvana in the hereafter.
But turning again from the historical to the mythical narratives, invented alike about Christna, Buddha, and Christ, we find the following:
Setting a model for the Christian avatar and the archangel Gabriel to follow, the luminous San-tusita (Bodhisat) appeared to Maha-maya 'like a cloud in the moonlight, coming from the north, and in his hand holding a white lotus.' He announced to her the birth of her son, and circumambulating the queen's couch thrice . . . passed away from the dewa-loka and was conceived in the world of men.* The resemblance will be found still more perfect upon examining the illustrations in mediaeval psalters,** and the panel-paintings of the sixteenth century (in the Church of Jouy, for instance, in which the Virgin is represented kneeling, with her hands uplifted toward the Holy Ghost, and the unborn child is miraculously seen through her body), and then finding the same subject treated in the identical way in the sculptures in certain convents in Thibet. In the Pali-Buddhistic annals, and other religious records, it is stated that Maha-devi and all her attendants were constantly "gatified with the sight of the infant Bodhisatva quietly developing within his mother's bosom, and beaming already, from his place of gestation, upon humanity "the resplendent moonshine of his future benevolence."***
Ananda, the cousin and future disciple of Sakya-muni, is represented as having been born at the same time. He appears to have been the original for the old legends about John the Baptist. For example, the Pali narrative relates that Maha-maya, while pregnant with the sage, paid a visit to his mother, as Mary did to the mother of the Baptist. Immediately, as she entered the apartment, the unborn Ananda greeted the unborn Buddha-Siddhartha, who also returned the salutation; and in like manner the babe, afterward John the Baptist, leaped in the womb of Elizabeth when Mary came in.**** More even that that; for Didron describes a scene of salutation, painted on shutters at Lyons, between Elizabeth and Mary, in which the two unborn infants, both pictured as outside their mothers, are also saluting each other.*****
If we turn now to Christna and attentively compare the prophecies respecting him, as collected in the Ramatsariarian traditions of the
* "Manual of Buddhism," p. 142.
** See Inman's "Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism," p. 92.
*** "Rgya. Tcher. Rol. Pa.," Bkah Hgyour (Thibetan version).
**** Gospel according to Luke, i. 39-45.
***** Didron: "Iconograph. Chretienne Histoire de Dieu."
Atharva, the Vedangas, and the Vedantas,* with passages in the Bible and apocryphal Gospels, of which it is pretended that some presage the coming of Christ, we shall find very curious facts. Following are examples:
FROM THE HINDU BOOKS.
1st. "He (the Redeemer) shall come, crowned with lights, the pure fluid issuing from the great soul . . . dispersing darkness" (Atharva).
2d. "In the early part of the Kali-Yuga shall be born the son of the Virgin" (Vedanta).
3d. "The Redeemer shall come, and the accursed Rakhasas shall fly for refuge to the deepest hell" (Atharva).
4th. "He shall come, and life will defy death . . . and he shall revivify the blood of all beings, shall regenerate all bodies, and purify all souls."
5th. "He shall come, and all animated beings, all the flowers, plants, men, women, the infants, the slaves . . . shall together intone the chant of joy, for he is the Lord of all creatures . . . he is infinite, for he is power, for he is wisdom, for he is beauty, for he is all and in all."
6th. "He shall come, more sweet than honey and ambrosia, more pure than the lamb without spot" (Ibid.).
7th. "Happy the blest womb that shall bear him" (Ibid.).
8th. "And God shall manifest His glory, and make His power resound, and shall reconcile Himself with His creatures" (Ibid.).
9th. "It is in the bosom of a woman that the ray of the Divine splendor will receive human form, and she shall bring forth, being a virgin, for no impure contact shall have defiled her" (Vedangas).
FROM THE CHRISTIAN BOOKS.
1st. "The people of Galilee of the Gentiles which sat in darkness saw great light" (Matthew iv. from Isaiah ix. 1, 2).
2d. "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son" (Isaiah vii. quoted in Matthew i. 23).
3d. "Behold, now, Jesus of Nazareth, with the brightness of his glorious divinity, put to flight all the horrid powers of darkness" (Nicodemus).
4th. "And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish" (John x. 28).
5th. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, thy King cometh unto thee . . . he is just . . . for how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! Corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids" (Zechariah ix.).
6th. "Behold the lamb of God" (John i. 36). "He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53).
7th. "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb" (Luke i.); "Blessed is the womb that bare thee" (xi. 27).
8th. "God manifested forth His glory" (John, 1st Ep.).
"God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" (2 Corinth. v.).
9th. "Being an unparalleled instance, without any pollution or defilement, and a virgin shall bring forth a son, and a maid shall bring forth the Lord" (Gospel of Mary, iii.).
* There are numerous works deduced immediately from the "Vedas," called the "Upa-Ved." Four works are included under this denomination, namely, the "Ayus," "Gandharva," "Dhanus," and "Sthapatya." The third "Upaveda" was composed by Viswamitra for the use of the Kshatriyas, the warrior caste.
Chapter 11, part 2