Page images

countries where Budhism is professed ; but as I enter upon a field of speculation that has hitherto been little cultivated, I trust that my labours will be regarded as of some interest by students of all classes. I have also endeavoured to apply the great lesson herein taught to a practical purpose. In my illustrations of the manners of the western monks, I have taken the liberty to indulge the bias of early association; but if this has been done to too great an extent, with all submissiveness I crave the reader's pardon.

A residence of twenty years in Ceylon, and several thousands of hours spent with the palm-leaf in my hand and the ex-priest of Budha by my side, to assist me in cases of difficulty, entitle me to claim attention to my translations as a faithful transcript of the original documents. Further than this, I speak of my ability for the undertaking with sincere diffidence. During my residence in Ceylon, I was not connected with any scholastic institution ; I resided, for the most part, in the midst of the native population, and had to attend to the usual engagements of a missionary, in preaching, examining native schools, visiting the sick, instructing the people from house to house, distributing tracts, and preparing other publications for the press, which left me no leisure for literary pursuits not immediately connected with my position. Since my return to England, about two years ago, I have been incessantly engaged in the work of the ministry, scarcely a day having passed over, in which I have not had either to preach or to deliver an address. It is, therefore, out of my power to make any pretension to western learning or general erudition. To add to my other disadvantages, my residence is in a village, where I have access to no publie library; and I have had no




literary friend whom I could ask to correct my MSS. or with whom I could consult in cases of perplexity. I am aware that the apologies of authors sometimes mean, that they do not consider the work they are publishing to be a fair specimen of their real ability ; but disclaiming this idea, and willing to be corrected wherein I am wrong, as it is my wish to know and teach the truth, I mention these circumstances that my defects may not be charged to negligence, when they are the result of necessity.

In my illustrations of Budhism I have not received much assistance from any European author, with the exception of the late Hon. George Turnour, translator of the Mahawanso, and the Rev. D. J. Gogerly, General Superintendant of the Wesleyan Mission in South Ceylon, who has been pronounced, by competent authority, to be the best Pali scholar in existence, and whose intellectual powers I have long regarded with the most profound veneration. When I first determined upon making myself acquainted with this extensive system, there were two courses

before either to commence the study of Pali (the language in which the most sacred records of the Budhists were originally written), or to content myself with the more mediate authority of the Singhalese. The former course would have been the most satisfactory, if I could have assured myself of the time and assistance that would have been requisite; but as it appeared to me probable that I should in this way be able to study only detached parts of the system, which would not have fulfilled the principal design I had in view, I resolved upon continuing my Singhalese studies, and by this means have succeeded in forming an outline of the most prominent features of the religion taught by Gótama. I would not, for a moment, depreciate the more honourable labours of those who have chosen the arduous task of studying the system in the language in which it was originally promulgated. I am like one who has met with individuals that have visited some Terra Incognita, and are able to describe it; they have presented before me their stores of information, and I have examined them with all the accumen I possess; and the result of my scrutiny is recorded in these pages. But they who study the original canon may be regarded as actually entering the land, and winning here and there a portion of territory more or less extensive; and by and bye the whole region will be gained ; when the initiatory labours I am now pursuing will be forgotten, as they will have been succeeded by more authoritative investigations. Nevertheless, in the present state of our knowledge of Budhism, authentic translations from the more modern languages are of great importance; and they have an additional interest, peculiar to themselves, as they reveal the sentiments, and illustrate the manners, of the present race of priests. The writings of the Singhalese authors abound with quotations from the Pali, of which language they have a competent knowledge; and as they regard the works they translate or paraphrase as a divine record, we have every reason to believe that a correct idea of the original code may be gained through this medium.



As some of the names herein inserted have never previously been printed in English, I trust that the oriental scholar will forgive a want of uniformity in the spelling. It will be noticed that some of the words have a Sanskrit, and others a Pali or a Singhalese, form. I have endeavoured to avoid this confusion, but have not succeeded to the extent that is to be desired.* There are slight discrepancies in some of the dates; but in each case I have followed the author whose work I was translating

I send forth my treatise to the world, aware of its numerous imperfections, but cheered by the consciousness of integrity in its preparation ; and I ask for no higher reward than to be an

l humble instrument in assisting the ministers of the cross in their combats with this master error of the world, and in preventing the spread of the same delusion, under another guise, in regions nearer home.



May 1st, 1850.

I have been under the necessity of reading some of the proof-sheets in the railway carriage, which will account for some oversights. The reader is requested to correct the following, in addition to the errors inserted in the errata :-Page 190, line 18, for Tabular Raica read Tabula Ilaica ; page 292, line 40, for nirwawa read nirwana, and dele the space between dharmmá and bhisamaya ; page 308, line 4, for facultives read faculties; page 379, line 28, for by read of; page 386, line 16, for intelligibiles read intelligibilis ; page 387, line 18, for interiorum read interiorem ; page 388, after the word things, line 3, insert as a note, “Morell's History of Modern Philosophy;" page 389, lines 27 and 28, for delusion read illusion; and for anhatamisra read andhatamisra.

« PreviousContinue »