THE: BOOK OF THE KINDRED SAYINGS

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EDITORIAL NOTE

Editor's word scarcely seems necessary here, where the present translator has so generously come to aid in continuing this series, and has so ably carried on the work. But he writes urgently that such a word should be forthcoming, so here it is. There are so many points of interest, yet it is better to be brief. Let there be just a word of apology, a word of appreciation, a word of historical suggestion.

In the first place, it is a woeful editor who recommended that the two important words Tathāgata and Āsava be left untranslated in a translation. Only the conviction, after long years, that no English word would adequately serve, brought us both to this decision. As to the first of the two - after all we do not translate 'Messiah.' The Commentaries centuries later still offered half a dozen alternate meanings of Tathāgata. And for āsava many words have been tried. Critics have criticized these, but have offered nothing better. In āsava we have three, more usually four, wrong or dangerous states of character, likened because of their pervasive power over conduct to spreading ferments: sensuality, the lust of life (i.e. of rebirth), the obsession of opinion, the mark of ignorance. The pious (early) Buddhist when he used the word was probably aware both of that sinister meaning and of its contents. The English reader would not be aware of those meanings if 'ferments' or other such word were used. Warren used 'depravities,' and some follow him. But depravity means moral turpitude; āsava does not. As a choice of evils, it is better that a word be left untranslated, suggesting too little, than that it suggest what was never there. The reader should be able easily, as here, to look up the contents of the term. But it is a favour the translator should ask of him very, very seldom.

In the next place, Mr. Woodward pronounces this volume valuable 'for a study of the doctrine of personality.' This is so, and could hardly be otherwise. Of these thirteen groups [vi] of Kindred Sayings, the first, which is on the question of the Khandhas, the factors of personality - self, body, mental factors - occupies two-thirds of the volume.

But among other features of interest there is one which is to me of greater value than the churches' teaching on the Khandhas bodily and mental. I refer to two little episodes which are placed in the Khandha Suttas, and which had, nevertheless, in my belief, nothing to do originally with that doctrine. The episodes are those entitled 'Nakula's father' (p. 1) and 'Tissa' (p. 90). In these we seem to be meeting with the living word of a live man. And so hard is it, amid the mass of these Suttas, whether legendary or of church catechisms, to find a personality and a message that could draw the world after the speaker, as Gotama drew his world, that it were worth while issuing this volume if it were only to show the two episodes and the contrast they offer to the rest of the book - or most of it.

Let the reader compare the former of them with the Sutta of 'the untaught' (the titles are glosses) in Part II, p. 65, of. Kindred Sayings. There where we might, judging by this third part, have expected to find the Khandhas intruded, we read only of 'what we call heart or mind or awareness'[1] contrasted with just kāyo or body, the teaching being that body changes more slowly than mind.

Here, again, he does not plague the sick old man with how many names we can call the incorporeal part of us. He just bids him keep his mind (or heart) healthy, lest the diseased body infect and age it. This was surely the real word of a wise healer, a real helper and saviour of men The comforted man is waylaid by the disciple as he departs, and the Khandha doctrine is fully trotted out. It is typical of a church's more-wording, in the sense of embroidering the founder's word. It is as a way-sign, hinting at how the Suttas came to be compiled as they are. And this was certainly compiled centuries later than Sāriputta, the man who taught like his Master -

That wheel
Doth Sāriputta after my example turn-

[vii] It was compiled by after-men who presumed to improve upon that pregnant advice by an academic category and forinulas. So much has been fathered upon Sāriputta!

In the other episode, Tissa, the depressed and weary disciple, a high-born man unused to the simple life and democratic fellowship[2] of the Order, is heartened and toned up and mothered by his kinsman and teacher.

Is it likely that Gotama, knowing, as none but an inspired helper knows, the hearts of men, would submit this poor, possibly bilious, certainly sick-hearted brother to a catechism about the frailties of factors one, two, three, four, five? Gotama was not a marvellous disease-healer like Jesus; he was a will-healer. We seem to see him taking Tissa's hands, and sending into him the magnetic current of his own force of will; we hear him telling the parable of the lorn wayfarer and his guide, bidding him to go on, to go on, this way and that way until the perils were past and the end of the journey was in view. And then the healing is driven in with words like so many electric shocks: 'Courage, Tissa! Cheer up, Tissa! I am here to guide you! I will keep you! I will make you strong!' or words to that effect. Would we had all he really may have said!

Rarely have the Suttas saved from the devouring past so vivid an etching in bare outline as this. A fragment, and with interpolation, it still lives. And in it Gotama lives, the teacher men so loved that they bequeathed their love of him and his love of them to the faith and the devotion of the centuries to come.

These live counsels of how to keep well, of how to walk in the Way to 'the Well,' of how to help the brother so to walk - this is the real brahmachariya the teaching originally meant; this it is that the first missioners were sent to carry out; this it is that was to lead to the ending of sorrow. And this it was -according to the canonical legend, the Great Apadāna - which first suggested to Gotama the ideal that lay in the 'going forth,' the pabbajja, from the world to end sorrow:-

[viii] 'The excellence, namely, of righteous and peaceful conduct, of good and worthy action, of harming none, of compassion to creatures.'[3]

Taking the present volume as a whole, the emphasis of its contents is by no means on this way of ending sorrow. The way to do that would seem to be the entirely monastic one. Namely, mind, resolved into four much overlapping divisions, literally heaps (khandhā), and body are to be resolutely held up for inspection, and for the creating of disgust. Thereby the man is liberated from interest in what body does or mind does. So liberated, the seed of rebirth in him withers and he 'knows,' that for him renewed life in body and mind comes no more. This is the burden of Sutta after Sutta.

Who and what is the nature of this scrutinizer of his body and mind is nowhere positively said. But who and what he was not is affirmed with much earnestness. And ever there comes into the denials the formula probably annexed from, such current opinion as opposed the Brahmin or Vedântist affirmation of what man is. This affirmed:- I am Ātman or World-Self; He is I; 'thou art That.' The formula said the contrary. Man was not the Self, i.e. not God (Ātman or Self is Brahman). If he were, he could not be subject to suffering, to change, to shortcomings in body and mind; he could will his body and mind, that is, his instruments, to be as he would have them be.

In time this original quarrel with the Ātmanist position diverged. In Buddhism it became an irrational denial of the man as man; he was reduced to his instruments, body and mind. The scrutinizer of these became what he scrutinized. 'The baby was emptied out with the bath.' With the rejection of divinity in the self, the self himself, the man, the person, the spirit using mind and body was also rejected. (In Sānkhyā agnosticism the negation came to be of the holding of the 'I' as distinct from the soul or self 'I' am not, (it is) not mine; not I.[4]

Now when did that later, that total rejection of spirit or self, come to pass in the Buddhist church? We see that the [ix] editors of the Suttas show the elders much exercised about the doctrine. Not only does it seem fco some to bring to nought any teaching of future retribution (and thereby of future growth);[5] there is also animated discussion among themselves on the 'I' and the 'self,' notably in the Yamaka, Channa, Ānanda and Khema(ka) Suttas. The last-named has indeed quite a Humian touch about it: "I see that with respect to body and mind 'I am' comes to me, but I do not discern this 'I am.'"

And we know, by the long opening series of arguments in the Katbā-vatthu of a later date, and again in the Questions of King Müinda of a still later date, what a deal of trouble the Theravāda church had to get triumphantly orthodox on the question, and how long it took them to settle down to the belief, not that man's body and mind were not Divine Spirit, not that man's self was not body or mind, but that man was just body and mind, and nothing else.

But where exactly, with respect to these three stages of dogmatic growth, were they who committed the Suttas to writing? I incline to think they were in sight of the last stage, but they had to set down a memorized wording belonging to the earlier stages. There is, in these Suttas, a curious absence of the arguments used in the 'Puggala-kathā' of the Kathā-vatthu. There is no lighting upon the vivid similes of the Milinda which Buddhaghosa found very useful. Always there is a falling back on the archaic argument involving the divine attributes without which a 'self' or soul was unthinkable.

I say 'archaic' because, except when elders discuss the subject, the rejection of Ātman or Atta is given so mechanically, as if long ago the wording had been as it were graven on stone and was no longer alive. In one Sutta, and one only, the subject seems to retain life. And perhaps it seemed on that account to conflict with the later teaching and only a half-suppressed argument survives. The parable in the 'Not Yours' Sutta, p. 32, can surely only mean that body and mind is to 'us' as the removable kindling is to the whole wood. Jetavana is we, Jetavana is the self, the man.

[x] But nothing will convince me that we have, in that stereotyped argument about Attā, the very way in which Gotama fed his questioners over and over again. That is indeed unthinkable. He may conceivably in his long ministry have sanctioned his disciples' drawing up a fixed wording here and there. But as a man of originality, of power, of winning charm, he would be simply unable to repeat himself. It is the way of such elect souls to react with fine sensitiveness to every fresh conjuncture calling for speech. It is the way of such elect souls to be welling up and overflowing in creative will now thus and now thus. Not his the formula of the Suttas any more than was his the terse cryptic gnome of the Sūtras.

We are not seldom reminded by the learned, that the Suttas are teachings of a popular kind, even when addressed to the Order. Now 'popular' teaching is not given in formulas. It is largely by parable and story, or by the next stage to these in argument - the argument by analogy. And so in this our day, when folk on Sabbath full-moon evenings in Ceylon sit far into the night listening to the 'Teaching,' it is not to formulas about soul and the like, but more often Than not to Jātaka stories.

Lastly, when historians of early Buddhism come to write from a really adequate acquaintance with the contents of the Suttas, what will they infer from this:- that, of the Suttas in this volume, numbering roughly 313, about 285 are said to have been delivered at Sāvatthī, and only 28 at other places?

"With these we may compare those in Vol. II. Here we get the same disproportion. About 191 Suttas located at Sāvatthī, 30 elsewhere Roughly, then, Sāvatthī claims seven-eighths of all these discourses and conversations.

This inquiry might be extended to other books in the Sutta Piṭaka, but here there is space and occasion only for a provisional suggestion.

Sāvatthī was the capital, I gather, of Gotama's native country, the kingdom of Kosala. His interviews with the King of Kosala, who lived about as long as he did,[6] are recorded [xi] as taking place there; or else no specified place is given. It is true that Gotama's last tour did not take in Sāvatthī, but appears to have been made in Magadha and in the Vajjian confederated states, that is to the south and east of Kosala. He passed away as a true Wandering Friar, on tour, without home. Yet the Kindred Sayings would seem to lead us to infer that he spent most of his years of teaching at one and the same place. Rājagaha where his church was really started comes second, but is a very bad second. The few Benares Suttas are discourses by disciples, very likely after his death.

There is another inference that may be suggested. Most of the Sāvatthī Suttas have a very condensed opening formula. There is only 'was staying at Sāvatthī,' ... or ... 'park.' In Part IV it is often only Sāvatthī nidānaṃ. Once the phrase is added:- 'Thus it is to be amplified.'

Now it is possible that the Sāvatthī monastery or monasteries became, at least till the rise of the Asokan empire, the centre where a collecting of Suttas was carried on. This work of collecting oral records is referred to in the Vinaya. Rhys Davids has reminded us, in his luminous chapters on 'writing' in Buddhist India, that in order to collect a 'Suttanta' from the laity before it was forgotten, the rule forbidding travel in the rains might be suspended. It is also possible that a slight outline, or sermon-text, of each Sutta was committed to writing. Many Suttas reveal a structure of this kind:- 'argument' followed by developed exposition, notably in the latter Majjhima Suttas. It was also possible that no record was made at the time of the place whence the Sutta was collected, or where it was originally uttered, or later generations of recorders may have forgotten. It may have been collected from the descendant of the pious layman who remembered it, and he may have been on a journey when he heard it. Anyway, the place was not for him a vital fact.

In this way there would come to be, in the thesaurus at Sāvatthī, quite a number of 'Suttas' or 'Suttantas' lacking the stock beginning of an ear-witness at first hand. They would not begin with the: 'Thus have I heard. The Exalted One was once staying,' etc. And if they are just headed 'Sāvatthī' [xii] or Sāvaithī nidanaṃ, this may not mean that the Buddha's sojourn at Sāvatthī is to be 'taken as read.' It may only mean: 'Sutta from the Sāvatthī collection' (or series nidāna, ? or depository, nidhānaṃ). The ārāme or viharati may be a late interpolation.

And among these are some that are pure formulas or schemata; such are those in the Jhāna Saŋyutta, for instance, in this volume. Here the heading Sāvatthī may merely mean that they were tables, lists drawn up in the monastery schools, void of all missionary interest.

If we now omit all these Suttas headed Sāvatthī only, we find that of those associated with Sāvatthī in the regular Sutta opening 'Thus have I heard, etc.', amount only to eighteen in Part II, and to four in Part III (and to seven in Part IV). This result brings Sāvatthī into line with other places given. In fact, it places Rajagaha, the mother church, slightly ahead.[7]

With the growth of the Asokan hegemony, there would be very possibly a transference of archives, written or human, to Patna; and it may well be that, in preparing the existing materials, however they were preserved, for the important Council there, the classing of the unlocated Suttas under the name of the place where they bad been stored up was effected. And when, centuries later, the Suttas, possibly for the first time anywhere, were fully written out in Ceylon, it was a natural thing to assume that 'Sāvatthī,' with or without nidānaṃ), meant more than it originally meant.

C.A.F. RHYS DAVIDS.

 


[1] Iti pi cittaṃ iti pi mano iti pi viññāṇaṃ.

[2] Cf. Part II, p. 191 f.; also a very 'live' Sutta, except the verse (probably just a memorizing device).

[3] Dialogues of the Buddha ii, p.22 (Dīgha ii, -28,29).

[4] Sānkhya-kārikā, Sūtra 64: nāsmi na mama nāhaṃ.

[5] Below, p. 88 = Majjhima iii, 19 f.

[6] Above, Part I, Ch. 3. In Majjhima ii, 118, the Comy. states he was in flight, a dethroned king.

[7] Cf. the similar preponderance of the Jātakas told at Sāvatthī, in L. Feer's Table (No. VI. in Rhys Davids's Buddhat Birth-Stories, new ed., Broadway Translation Series, 1925).

Note. -Attā, in the archaic formula (discussed above, p. viii f), is once or twice rendered by Self, not self. I had suggested this way. The formula reflects, I repeat, not the later non-ego of the Sāsana so much as the old opposition to Brahminist theism. Indeed, had Upanishad translators rendered Ātman by God or Brahman, not by Self, they might have produced a truer impression. The translator preferred 'self,' but in the text a few of the capitals, like lonely pillars, survive. Thus the reader can get it both ways and criticize the better.


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