Page images

flesh, and painting and tattooing or punctuating their bodies.

The Law language is used by an inland nation of that name, called by the Portugueze Lâo, and in plural Laos. From specimens of the language which Doctor Leyden procured from some Siamese and Barmas, it appeared to him to bear about the same affinity to the Thay or Siamese, as the Barma bears to the Rukheng; but that, in the adoption of Bali terms, it adheres more accurately to the orthography of the Bali than either of these two. 1. It is from this nation that both Siamese and Barmas allege that they derive their religion, laws, and institutions. It is in the country of Law, that all the celebrated founders of the religion of Buddha are represented to have left their most remarkable vestiges. Ceylon boasts the sacred traces of the left foot of Buddha on the top of the mountain Amala-Sri-padi, or by Europeans Adam's Peak, Siam exhibits the traces of the right foot, on the top of the golden mountain Swa-na-bapato. Other traces

of the sacred steps are sparingly scattered over Pegu, Ava, and Arakan; but it is among the Lâos, that all the vestiges of the founders of this religion seem to be concentered, and whither devotees repair to worship at the traces of the sacred steps of Pra-Ku-ku-sôn, Pra-Kon-na-kon, PraPut-t'ha-Kat-sop and Pra-Sa-mut-ta-kodom. These Siamese names of the four Budd'has seem to correspond to the Barma Kaukasan, Gonagom, Kasyapa, and Gotama, and the Singhala,* Kakusanda, Konagam, Kasyapa, and Gautama. There can be no doubt, however, from the order of the names, but that they are the four last Buddhas in the list given by Hemachandra Acharya in the Abhid'hana Chintameni, under the following Sanscrit appellations, from which all these Siamese. Barma, and Singhala names, seem to be only Bali corruptions. The Sanscrit names are, Krukruck'hunda, Kanchana, Kasyapa, and Sakyasinha."

* The language used in Ceylon.

The Bali language among the IndoChinese nations, occupies the same place which Sanscrit holds among the Hindus, or Arabic among the followers of Islām. Throughout the greater part of the maritime countries which lie between India and China, it is the language of religion, law, literature, and science, and has had an extensive influence in modifying the vernacular languages of these regions. The name of this language, though commonly pronounced Bali, is more generally written Pali; but both forms are occasionally used. As the origin of the word is still very obscure, it is difficult to determine which is the more correct orthography. If, however, we could venture to identify the term with the Báhlika B'hasha, which, in the Sahitya Derpana of Viswanatha, is enumerated as one of the languages proper to be used by certain characters in dramatic works, the latter ought to be considered as the more correct. La Loubiere, on the authority of D'Herbelot, has stated that the ancient

[ocr errors]

* Tom. i. p. 422.

Persic language was termed Pahalevi, (Pahlavi) and that the Persians do not distinguish in writing between Pehlvy and Bahali. This conjecture would be confirmed by the identity of the terms Bali and Badlika B'hasha, were it to be established; for no doubt can be entertained that in Sanscrit geography, the epithet Bahlika is applied to a northern IndoPersic region, probably corresponding to Balkh Bamiyan. Among the Indo-Chinese nations, the Bali is frequently denominated Lanka-basa, or the language of Lanka, or Ceylon, and Magata, or, as it is often pronounced, Mungata, a term which seems to correspond with the Sanscrit Magadhi, which, in many of the Vyakaranas, is enumerated as one of the dialects to be introduced occasionally in Natakas, or Hindu dramas.

"The Bali alphabet seems, in its origin, to be a derivative from the Devanagari, though it has not only acquired considerable difference of form, but has also been modified to a certain degree, in the power

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

of the letters by the monosyllabic pronunciation of the Indo-Chinese nations.* It has dropped, in common use, some letters entirely, and accented others in a manner similar to the Udhata, Anudhata, and Swarita tones, in the system of accentuation used in chaunting Mantras, and in reciting the Vedas themselves. The vowels are generally presented in the same order as the Deva-nagari, but by a similar mode of accentuation, eighteen are sometimes employed. The peculiarities of this pronunciation are, however, more closely adhered to by the Thay or Siamese, than by the Barma and Rukheng nations, whose languages are neither so powerfully accented, nor so monosyllabic as the Thay."

* "Je doute fort que la forme des lettres Balies soit d'origine Dâva-Nâgari, mais leur ordre est évidemment conforme à celui de ce dernier alphabet. Il seroit assez difficile d'expliquer cette identité d'ordre alphabetique, chez les Javans, les Mongoux, les Calmouks, les Mantchous, les Tibetains; il ne faut l'attribuer qu'à l'introduction de la religion Brahmanique plus ou moins corrompue parmi ces peuples."—Observation made to the Author by M. de Langlès.


« PreviousContinue »