Page images
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The hind, sighing, replied: "Our king has no tenderness. I am

“ to die on the first day.” She went and told her distress to the Bodhisattwa, king of the deer. The king of the deer said to her: “What a matter for grief! As an affectionate mother, you extend your kindness even to a being not yet born. Very well! I will take your place to-day."

He repaired, at once, to the gate of the king. The people along the road carried the news, saying, in a loud voice: “This great king of the deer is on his way, at this moment, to the city.” The inhabitants of the capital-alike magistrates and common peoplehastened, emulously, to see him.

The king was loth to credit this news; but, when the warder of the palace-gate announced it to him, at last he believed it. Then, addressing the king of the deer, he asked him: “Why have you come here all of a sudden ?

The deer answered: “There is a hind who ought to die ; but she carries a little one that has not yet seen the light of day. As I cannot permit this evil, I venture to offer myself to die in her stead.”

At these words the king sighed, and said: “I am a deer, with a human body; and you are a man, with the body of a deer.” There

gave all the deer their freedom, and no longer wished that they should sacrifice their lives for him. In consequence of this circumstance, he gave up that forest to the deer, and called it the forest given to the deer, from which came the name of the DeerForest (Mrigadáva).

From two to three lis [about half a mile] to the south-west of the monastery is a Stúpa, about three hundred feet in height. It is a large and lofty monument, resplendent with the most rare and precious materials. As it has no storeyed niches, there has been placed on its summit) a kind of devotee's water-pot, inverted. Although this Stúpa is surmounted by an arrow, it is not crowned by a bell-shaped cupola.

At its side is a small Stúpa. It was at this place that ’O-jo-kiaotch’in-jou (Aíjnáta Kauņņinya) and others, to the number of five, departed from their compact, and advanced to meet Buddha.” Originally, the prince royal So-p'o-ho-la-tha-si-tho (Sarvártha

1 The compact was, not to accost Buddha.

upon, he



[ocr errors]

siddha), after departing from the city, went and established himself on the mountains, and concealed himself in the valleys: he neglected his person, to devote himself to the Law. Thereupon, King Tsing-fan (Suddhodana Raja) gave the following orders to three persons of his family, and to the two) maternal uncles (of the prince royal) : “My son, I-tsie-i-tch’ing (Sarvárthasiddha), has left his family, in order to give himself to study. He wanders alone upon the mountains and in the plains, and lives apart in the midst of the forests. On this account I order you to follow his steps, and ascertain where he dwells. Within the palace, you are his paternal and maternal uncles ; abroad, you are at once princes and ministers. It is absolutely necessary that you find out what he does and where he lives.”

On receiving these commands from the king, these five men departed, one after another, to shield him with their protection. Subsequently, they sought, themselves, after the means of escape from life and death [i.e., from transmigration). Then they said to one another : “When any one aspires after knowledge, is it obtained by austerities, or in the bosom of joy?"

Two of them answered: “It is in tranquillity and joy that knowledge is obtained.” But the other three maintained, that it was by severe austerities that knowledge could be attained. The two first and the other three were still disputing the point, without having cleared up the matter, when the prince royal, reflecting on the sublime verities, imitated the conduct of those heretics who submit to hard privations, and who eat (daily) only a few grains of hempseed and uncooked rice, to sustain life. The two first, beholding him, said to one another: "That which the prince royal does is not conformable to the true way. Knowledge ought to be obtained by pleasant means ; but he has recourse, to-day, to painful austerities. He cannot be our companion. Let us leave him, and go away. Let us think on the means of acquiring the fruit (of knowledge). For six years the prince royal has devoted himself to penance, and has not yet seen the fruit of Pou-ti (Bodhi). If we examine into his austerities, we shall perceive, that they do not constitute the true method. But, when he shall have received a dish of rice and milk, he will obtain knowledge.



On hearing these words, the other three, sighing, exclaimed: “He was on the point of putting the seal to his merits; but now he holds back. For six years he devoted himself to penance; and in one day he has lost the fruit of it.”

Thereupon, one after the other, they made quest for him. The two first, on seeing them, sate down in a suitable place, and conversed together in a grave and loud tone. Then, resuming their discourse, they spoke as follows: “Some time ago, we saw I-tsie-itch'ing (Sarvárthasiddha) leave the palace of the king, and betake himself to a desert valley; strip off his costly garments, and cover himself with a deer's skin ; exhibit burning zeal, and put forth energetic efforts ;, lead a chaste life, and torment himself in spirit, in search of the sublime Law, and for the acquisition of the supreme recompense. But, behold, he has already to-day accepted, from the hand of a young cowherdess, a dish of rice and milk. He has destroyed the germ of knowledge, and frustrated his project. We see, now, that he will succeed in nothing.

The two others said to them: “How is it, sirs, that you have been so slow in perceiving this? He behaves like a fool. Formerly, he dwelt in the recesses of the palace, and lived happily in the most honourable and glorious rank. Unable to subdue his will, he went and concealed himself far away, upon the mountains and in the woods. He renounced the throne of King Chakravartin (Tch’ouenlun-wang), to lead the life of a vile and abject man. Is he worthy to be thought of more? In speaking about him, the heart is wrung with sadness."


In the meantime, the Pou-sa (the Bodhisattwa), having bathed in the river Ni-lien (Nairanjaná), and having sate down under the Pou-ti (Bodhidruna) tree, arrived at perfect knowledge, and was surnamed Master of gods and men. He remained immovable and taciturn, thinking only of discovering those who deserved to be saved. " This son of ’Yo-t'eou-lan," said he, “has devoted himself to meditation which excludes all thought (Naivasanjná samádhi). He is worthy of receiving the excellent Law.”

The Devas who traverse the air announced to him this intelli.

1 This word is incorrect. It should be Yo-to-lo-mo-tseu (Udra, son of Rama).

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

gence : " It is already seven days since the son of Yo-teou-lan (Udra Rámaputra) has abandoned life.”

Jou-laï (the Tathágata), sighing deeply, (said): “Why did not he meet with me? When he was on the point of understanding the excellent Law, why did he suddenly change existence ? "

He then reflected anew attentively, and searched in the midst of the world. “There is still” (said he) ’O-lan-kia-lan (Aráða Káláma), who has arrived at the condition of being detached from all (Akinchavyáyatana). To him I must communicate the sublime principles (of my doctrine).

The Devas resumed: “It is five days since he died.” Jou-laï (the Tathágata), sighed again, lamenting his scant good fortune. Once more reflecting, he said: “To whom ought I still to teach the Law? In the Deer-Park (Mrigadáva) are five men whom, in preference to others, I ought to instruct and guide.”

At this moment, Jou-laï (the Tathágata) rose up from under the tree of Pou-ti (Bodhidruma, the tree of knowledge), and repaired to the Deer-Park (Mrigadáva). Tranquillity breathed in his whole person, and diffused afar a divine light. His hair had the lustre of jade; and his body was as yellow as pure gold. He advanced, with a calm step, to give directions to those five personages. They, perceiving Jou-laï (the Tathágata) in the distance, said to one another: "He who comes there is I-tsie-i-tch'ing (Sarvárthasiddha). Months and years pass away without his being able to obtain the fruit of sanctity (Bodhi). The end of his ambition has already eluded him. This is why he seeks us as disciples. We must, each of us, remain mute before him. Let us be careful not to rise to go meet and salute him."

Jou-laï approached them with slow steps, moving all beings by his divine majesty. These five men, forgetting their compact, advanced towards him, saluting him; and, having questioned him, they followed him respectfully. Jou-laż drew them gradually to himself, and taught them the sublime principles (of the Law). When they had done living in fixed habitations during the rainy season, they acquired the fruit of Bodhi.

When he had gone two or three lis [about half a mile] to the east of the Deer-Park (Msigadáva), he came to a Stúpa. By its



[ocr errors]


side is a dry reservoir, eighty paces in circuit, called both the Saviour-Reservoir (Jívakahrada ?) and the Hero's-Reservoir (Tyágihrada ?). Here is what is read on this subject, in the ancient descriptions (of this kingdom) :

“Several hundred years ago, a recluse abode near this reservoir. He had built a hut, that he might live apart from the world. He had studied magic, and fathomed the science of the gods. He was able to transform small pieces of brick into precious stone, and to metamorphose animals; but, nevertheless, he was not able to cause himself to be conveyed by the winds and clouds, and to follow, through the air, the chariot of the immortals. He pored over mysterious diagrams, and explored the secrets of the ancients, to discover, withal, the science of the Rishis. Their books informed him, that “the Rishis, endowed with a divine power, possess the art of living eternally. If you wish to acquire this science, it is necessary, first of all, to form an immovable resolution, to erect an altar six feet in circuit, and to cause that a hero, renowned for his fidelity and courage, should arm himself with a long sabre, and stand guard at the corner of the altar, to suppress his breathing, and to remain speechless from evening till morning. He who seeks to become a Rishi must seat himself on the middle of the altar, must hold in his hand a long sabre, must recite magical prayers, and must concentrate within himself his faculties of seeing and hearing. On the approach of morning, he will rise to the rank of a Rishi. The sharp sabre which he holds in his hand will be changed into a valuable sword; he will dart up into the heavens, and pass through the air; he will become the king of the company of Rishis. Brandishing his sword, he will issue his orders; and he will be gratified in all his desires. He will never more be liable to feebleness, to old age, to sickness, or to death.'

“ When the recluse had learned the secret of becoming a Kishi, he undertook a journey, with the object of discovering a man of heroic character, and spent long years in active search, without finding the object of his desire. In the course of time, he met with a man, in a certain city, who walked along uttering plaintive cries. The recluse, observing his appearance, experienced a lively feeling of joy. Then, drawing near, he questioned him softly, and said: What has reduced you to utter these rending moans ?'

« PreviousContinue »