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Some Sayings of the Buddha According to the Pali Canon

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Item Code: NAZ356
Author: F.L. Woodward
Language: English
Edition: 2020
ISBN: 9789390035427
Pages: 384
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 520 gm
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Gautama, afterwards known as Buddha, was born more than five hundred years before Christ and, like Christ, left no written record. Yet Indian life to-day is not so utterly different from what it was in his time that we are wholly unable to imagine the life he led. From the Hindu sacred books which are still in use to-day as they were in his time we know the kind of spiritual food upon which he was nourished. From the oral tradition of his teaching which was handed down by his disciples we know with a high degree of accuracy the general principles which he sought to inculcate. And from the innumerable figures of him which we see in Buddhist countries, and from the lives of the most saintly of his followers, we can gather the general impression he made upon mankind. With these elements let us create a picture of this great Hindu reformer who unintentionally founded a new religion.

Buddha was born a prince, the son of a King- in other words, of a Maharaja. Living in India to-day are scores of small Maharajas of very much the same type as Buddha’s father. They live in palace-fortresses of considerable beauty and keep up much outward state. And despotic though they are on the one side, on the other they are very democratic. They live a public life surrounded by ministers, nobles, and retainers and by ministers’ and nobles’ retainers. Theoretically they may issue any order. In practice they are curiously hedged in by ancient custom and tradition, by the words, and even looks, of the little public round them, and lastly by their women-folk.

In such-like surroundings Buddha must have been brought up. He would have been utterly spoilt by his mother, the women-folk of the palace, and by the servants, but he would have been sternly repressed by his father. Between these two extremes his life would have developed. And, be it noted, he would have been right in life from the very commencement. It would have been no secluded life he led. The impact upon him of live human beings would have been felt from the first. He would have felt also the pressure of long tradition. Especially would the weight of religious custom have been heavy upon him. The Court Brahmin priest would have ruled his religious life. He would have had to conform to the prescribed religious observances. The customary routine he would have had mechanically to follow. Even his wife would be chosen for him. He would not see her till he was actually married. It is known that Buddha was married when quite a young man and had a son.

There would have been much of routine and convention and stark superstition in the early life of Buddha, yet that would not have been all. Even as far back as his time India possessed a great culture of its own. Centuries before then the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita-works revered to this day in Europe as well as India-had been written. There were great oral traditions going back further still. Right in the blood of the Indian culture of Buddha’s time there must have been strains of pre-Vedic culture dating from a time long before the Aryans had arrived in India, strains coming up from the Indus civilisation existing more than three thousand years B.c., and from a Ganges civilisation which must undoubtedly have existed contemporaneously with the Indus. From childhood upward he would every year have seen performances of great sacred dramas ancient even in his time. He would have joined in singing the sacred songs and dancing the sacred dances.

From time to time he would have visited the sacred city of Benares, scarcely a hundred miles away on the sacred river Ganges. He would have mingled with the happy crowds at the great religious festivals and thrilled to the spiritual fervour.

Both at his own home and at Benares he would have been struck by the tremendous contrast between the luxury and extravagance on the one side and the utter squalor and poverty on the other.

Alongside the riches of his father’s palace and of the temples in Benares he would have seen thousands of men, women, and children living just at starvation point. But he would also have seen and by this his sensitive nature would have been acutely impressed-numbers of holy men who had deliberately forsaken family and friends and comfort in order to lead the holy life.

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