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have read with pleasure, rather rapidly, the "Essence of Buddhism" and glanced through the chapters: Historic Buddha: Rationality of Buddhism; Morality of Buddhism; Buddhism and Caste; Women in Buddhism; The Four Great Truths; Buddhism and Asceticism; Buddhism and Pessimism; The Noble Eightfold Path; The Riddle of the World; Personality; Death and After; The Summumi Bonum.
The author is a scientist and as such deserves to be heard. He has made a study of Buddhism from authoritative sources, and as a scholar has analysed the comprehensive system of religion founded by the Tathagato.
India is the home of Buddhism. It is to the people of India that our Lord first proclaimed the Dhamma, 2496 years ago. His first five disciples were Brahman ascetics, and His two prominent disciples, Sariputta and Maha Moggallana, were Brahmans; the President of the first Council, held three months after His Parinibbana, was Maha Kasyapa, a Brahman; and the Upholder of the Faith in the time of Asoka was Tissa the "son of the Brahmani Moggali of Moggali." According to the prophetic utterance of our Lord the Dhamma, shedding lustre in its purity, lasted for full 1,000 years in India, and then began the decline following the law of disintegration five hundreds later, when it was brought into contact with the cohorts of Allah, whose fire and sword played havoc with the followers of our Blessed Tathagato. The ruins in Bamian, Central Turkestan, Afghanistan, Kandahar, Kashmir, the Gangetic Valley, and in distant Java, testify to the extirpation of the great religion by the iconoclastic Arabs, fresh in their zeal for the glorification of the 'Prophet of Arabia.'
The home of Buddhism—the Majjhima Desa-since the tenth century A. C. has been made desolate. No yellow robed Bhikkhus and white-robed Upasakas are there to greet the weary pilgrim from foreign lands as in the days of Fa Hian, Huen Chang, and Itsing. After 700 years a new race from the West has conquered India, and thanks to the antiquarian researches of European scholars, they have made it possible for the Indians to again appreciate the ancient Aryan inheritance which was preached to their forefathers under the name of Dhamma.
Professor Narasu is a product of Western culture. He is a scion of an ancient Dravidian family. He completed his education in Western lore under European masters, and he is now professor of science in a first grade college. The superstitions of religion he had abandoned for scientific truth, and his studies in the domain of comparative religion has been accentuated by his observations in the practical daily life of the yogis of Southern India. The law of progress under British Rule in India is slow; but it is manifest in every department of life. The publication of the
present volume by Professor Lakshmi Narasu indicates that even from the basis of a purely rationalistic foundation Buddhism appeals to the cultivated intellect more than a theosophic pantheism. Professor Narasu has studied the life of the "Teacher of the Nirvana and the Law" from a purely human standpoint, and discusses the three characteristic aspects of the Dhamma from the standpoint of psychology and science. The "Essence of Buddhism" I recommend to the non-Buddhist and the scientific agnostic, for it will, I hope, give an impulse for a further study of the Dhamına that has given comfort to thousand millions of people within the past 25 centuries.
MAHA BODHI HEADQUARTERS ISIPATANA, SARNATH, BENARES. APRIL 28 4.
Anagarika H. Dharmapāla.
THE HISTORIC BUDDHA.
What Buddhism is-Sakyamuni not a supernatural founder of Buddhism-Incidents in Såkyamuni's life non-essential-Value of Buddha's personality-Birth of Buddha-His early life and renunciation-Training under Arada and Udraka-Severe ascetic penanceThe incident with the herdsman's daughter-Attainment of enlightenment-His determination to preachStarting for Benares and meeting with Upaka-Stay at Benares and formation of the holy brotherhood-Visit to Rajagriha and conversion of Bimbisara-Conversion of Sariputra, Maudgalyāyana, and Mahā Kāsyapa- Other disciples-Ineffectual plots of Devadatta-Patrons and benefactors of Buddha-State of India thenCalumnies against Buddha and how they were exposed -Daily life of the Blessed Onc-His method of exposition-His last tour and end-Disposal of the remains of the Blessed One-Historicity of Sakyamuni-His position among founders of religions-His claims to greatness
THE RATIONALITY OF BUDDHISM.
A system of philosophy and practical ethics-Reason the ultimate criterion of truth-Futility of authority and revelation-Rationality of all beliefs-Cultivation of faith-Schools and sects of Buddhism-Only one way, that of reason-Reverence to relics and images an act of devotion-Adaptation to pre-existing religionsInvocation of Amida by the Japanese Buddhist-The triçaranas-No transcendental superiority in BuddhaAttitude towards-miracles and wonders-Freedom from fanaticism and persecution-The missionary impulse
in Buddhism-Spread of Buddhism-Spirit of generosity and compassion-Influence on the development of arts-Development of science and knowledgeReason and purity of heart the gist of Buddhism
THE MORALITY OF BUDDHISM.
The goal of Buddhism-The ten transgressions and ten precepts-The precept against the destruction of life-Sacrifices in ancient India-Care for animalsPartiality for vegetarian diet-Mixed diet the best food-Extreme observance of the precept-Attitude towards war--Spirit of tolerance a result of the observance of the precept-The precept against theftMotives for such abstinence-Socialistic spirit of Buddhism-The precept against adultery-Sexual excesses denounced by religions-Attitude towards legitimate intercourse-The precept against falsehood-Lying one of the gravest offences-Hypocrisy fostered by churches -Lying under necessity-The precept against drink— Prevalence of drink in Ancient India-Buddhists first to enjoin total abstinence-Nature and effect of alcohol -The six ruinous things, and drink one of them-The precept against vain talk-The precept against evil reports-The precept against selfishness-Jealousy an intense form of selfishness-The precept against evil passions-The demands of justice and equity-Love should be healthy and wise-Duty of practising universal love-Anecdote showing the practice of love-The true import of the Jatakas-Claims of Christianity to be the only religion of love-The precept against ignorance and doubt-Scepticism a means of knowing the truth-The roots of Buddhism-Difference between the ethical teachings of Buddhism and Brahmanism -Ethics of Buddhism not egoistic-Its ethical system a study of consequences, of Karma and Vipaka-Purely autonomous-Moral ideas have nothing to do with supernatural beings-The Eternal self is not of any ethical value-Basis of morality purely subjectiveBuddhism teaches that the good of humanity is the
good of the individual-Deliverance from sorrow by
BUDDHISM AND CASTE.
Universality of salvation-The story of Buddha's beloved disciple and the girl of the Matanga caste -The Brahman a specially Indian phenomenon-No support for the existence of specific differences in menDifferences only through occupation and conduct-No difference in Dharma between one caste and another— No caste for those joining the Sangha-Social conditions. then prevailing uncertain-Only the social significance of castes, if any, recognised in Buddhism-The development of caste due to ambition and selfishness-The attitude of later Buddhists-Arguments of the Vajrasuchi: Brahmanhood not constituted by life principle or descent or body or learning or origin from BrahmaAttempts by Brahmans to bolster up their religion, the Gita one of such attempts-Caste the mainstay of Hinduism-Ethnological basis of caste a pure mythFailure of attempts to classify mankind-Purity of blood mythical-Heredity has nothing to do with ethical culture-Unwarranted supposition of the possibility of development for superior peoples only-Caste quite noxious, and therefore disregarded by Buddhism ...
WOMAN IN BUDDHISM.
Examples of the high status of women in Buddhism -Low estimation of women in India-Buddhist revolt against this a success-Strict rules for the relations between the sexes-Theoretical equality-Treatment of women fair-Example of Burmese women-Marriage ceremony among Buddhists very simple-A religion of free individuals-That the Teaching is destructive of family life is not true