Cause of the Failure of Missionaries to Convert Buddhists and Brahmanists

The precepts of Hillel, who died forty years B. C., appear rather as quotations than original expressions in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus taught the world nothing that had not been taught as earnestly before by other masters. He begins his sermon with certain purely Buddhistic precepts that had found acceptance among the Essenes, and were generally practiced by the Orphikoi, and the Neo-platonists. There were the Philhellenes, who, like Apollonius, had devoted their lives to moral and physical purity, and who practiced

§ "Gospel of the Infancy," chap. xx., xxi.; accepted by Eusebius, Athanasius, Epiphanius, Chrysostom, Jerome, and others. The same story, with the Hindu earmarks rubbed off to avoid detection, is found at Luke ii. 46, 47.

asceticism. He tries to imbue the hearts of his audience with a scorn for worldly wealth; a fakir-like unconcern for the morrow; love for humanity, poverty, and chastity. He blesses the poor in spirit, the meek, the hungering and the thirsting after righteousness, the merciful and the peace-makers, and, Buddha-like, leaves but a poor chance for the proud castes to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Every word of his sermon is an echo of the essential principles of monastic Buddhism. The ten commandments of Buddha, as found in an appendix to the Pratimoksha Sutra (Pali-Burman text), are elaborated to their full extent in Matthew. If we desire to acquaint ourselves with the historical Jesus we have to set the mythical Christ entirely aside, and learn all we can of the man in the first Gospel. His doctrines, religious views, and grandest aspirations will be found concentrated in his sermon.

This is the principal cause of the failure of missionaries to convert Brahmanists and Buddhists. These see that the little of really good that is offered in the new religion is paraded only in theory, while their own faith demands that those identical rules shall be applied in practice. Notwithstanding the impossibility for Christian missionaries to understand clearly the spirit of a religion wholly based on that doctrine of emanation which is so inimical to their own theology, the reasoning powers of some simple Buddhistical preachers are so high, that we see a scholar like Gutzlaff,* utterly silenced and put to great straits by Buddhists. Judson, the famous

* Alabaster, "Wheel of the Law," pp. 29, 34, 35, and 38.

Baptist missionary in Burmah, confesses, in his Journal, the difficulties to which he was often driven by them. Speaking of a certain Ooyan, he remarks that his strong mind was capable of grasping the most difficult subjects. "His words," he remarks, "are as smooth as oil, as sweet as honey, and as sharp as razors; his mode of reasoning is soft, insinuating, and acute; and so adroitly does he act his part, that I with the strength of truth, was scarcely able to keep him down." It appears though, that at a later period of his mission, Mr. Judson found that he had utterly mistaken the doctrine. "I begin to find," he says, "that the semi-atheism, which I had sometimes mentioned, is nothing but a refined Buddhism, having its foundation in the Buddhistic Scriptures." Thus he discovered at last that while there is in Buddhism "a generic term of most exalted perfection actually applied to numerous individuals, a Buddha superior to the whole host of subordinate deities," there are also lurking in the system "the glimmerings of an anima mundi anterior to, and even superior to, Buddha."!

This is a happy discovery, indeed!

Even the so-slandered Chinese believe in One, Highest God. "The Supreme Ruler of Heavens." Yuh-Hwang-Shang-ti, has his name inscribed only on the golden tablet before the altar of heaven at the great temple at Pekin, T'Iantan. "This f E. Upham, "The History and Doctrines of Buddhism," p. 135. Dr. Judson fell into this prodigious error by reason of his fanaticism. In his zeal to "save souls," he refused to peruse the Burmese classics, lest his attention should be diverted thereby.

worship," says Colonel Yule, "is mentioned by the Mahometan narrator of Shah Rukh's embassy (A.D. 1421): 'Every year there are some days on which the emperor eats no animal food. . . . He spends his time in an apartment which contains no idol, and says that he is worshipping the God of Heaven.' "*

Speaking of Shahrastani, the great Arabian scholar, Chwolsohn says that for him Sabaeism was not astrolatry, as many are inclined to think. He thought "that God is too sublime and too great to occupy Himself with the immediate management of this world; that He has, therefore, transferred the government thereof to the gods, and retained only the most important affairs for Himself; that further, man is too weak to be able to apply immediately to the Highest; that he must, therefore, address his prayers and sacrifices to the intermediate divinities, to whom the management of the world has been entrusted by the Highest." Chwolsohn argues that this idea is as old as the world, and that "in the heathen world this view was universally shared by the cultivated."+

Father Boori, a Portuguese missionary, who was sent to convert the "poor heathen" of Cochin-China, as early as the sixteenth century, "protests in despair, in his narrative, that there is not a dress, office, or ceremony in the Church of Rome, to which the Devil has not here provided some counterpart. Even when the Father began inveighing against

* "Indian Antiquary," vol. ii., p. 81; "Book of Ser Marco Polo," vol. i., p. 441. f "Ssabismus," vol. i., p. 725.

the idols, he was answered that these were the images of departed great men, whom they worshipped exactly on the same principle, and in the same manner, as the Catholics did the images of the apostles and martyrs."} Moreover, these idols have importance but in the eyes of the ignorant multitudes. The philosophy of Buddhism ignores images and fetishes. Its strongest vitality lies in its psychological conceptions of man's inner self. The road to the supreme state of felicity, called the Ford of Nirvana, winds its invisible paths through the spiritual, not physical life of a person while on this earth. The sacred Buddhistical literature points the way by stimulating man to follow practically the example of Gautama. Therefore, the Buddhistical writings lay a particular stress on the spiritual privileges of man, advising him to cultivate his powers for the production of Meipo (phenomena) during life, and for the attainment of Nirvana in the hereafter.

But turning again from the historical to the mythical narratives, invented alike about Christna, Buddha, and Christ, we find the following:

Setting a model for the Christian avatar and the archangel Gabriel to follow, the luminous San-tusita (Bodhisat) appeared to Maha-maya 'like a cloud in the moonlight, coming from the north, and in his hand holding a white lotus.' He announced to her the birth of her son, and circumambulating the queen's couch thrice . . . passed away from the dewa-loka and was conceived in the world of men. * The resemblance will be found still more perfect upon examining the illustrations in mediaeval psalters,+ and the panel-paintings of the sixteenth century (in the Church of Jouy, for instance, in which the Virgin is represented kneeling, with her hands uplifted toward the Holy Ghost, and the unborn child is miraculously seen through her body), and then finding the same subject treated in the identical way in the sculptures in certain convents in Thibet. In the Pali-Buddhistic annals, and other religious records, it is stated that Maha-devi and all her attendants were constantly "gatified with the sight of the infant Bodhisatva quietly developing within his mother's bosom, and beaming already, from his place of gestation, upon humanity "the resplendent moonshine of his future benevolence."}

Ananda, the cousin and future disciple of Sakya-muni, is represented as having been born at the same time. He appears to have been the original for the old legends about John the Baptist. For example, the Pali narrative relates that Maha-maya, while pregnant with the sage, paid a visit to his mother, as Mary did to the mother of the Baptist. Immediately, as she entered the apartment, the unborn Ananda greeted the unborn Buddha-Siddhartha, who also returned the salutation; and in like manner the babe, afterward John the Baptist, leaped in the womb of Elizabeth

f See Inman's "Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism," p. 92. J "Rgya. Tcher. Rol. Pa.," Bkah Hgyour (Thibetan version).

when Mary came in.§ More even that that; for Didron describes a scene of salutation, painted on shutters at Lyons, between Elizabeth and Mary, in which the two unborn infants, both pictured as outside their mothers, are also saluting each other.**

If we turn now to Christna and attentively compare the prophecies respecting him, as collected in the Ramatsariarian traditions of the Atharva, the Vedangas, and the Vedantas,++ with passages in the Bible and apocryphal Gospels, of which it is pretended that some presage the coming of Christ, we shall find very curious facts. Following are examples:

** Didron, "Iconograph. Chretienne Histoire de Dieu."

ff There are numerous works deduced immediately from the "Vedas," called the "Upa-Ved." Four works are included under this denomination, namely, the "Ayus," "Gandharva," "Dhanus," and "Sthapatya." The third "Upaveda" was composed by Viswamitra for the use of the Kshatriyas, the warrior caste.

From The Hindu Books

1st. "He (the Redeemer) shall come, crowned with lights, the pure fluid issuing from the great soul . . . dispersing darkness" (Atharva).

2d. "In the early part of the Kali-Yuga shall be born the son of the Virgin" (Vedanta).

3d. "The Redeemer shall come, and the accursed Rakhasas shall fly for refuge to the deepest hell" (Atharva).

4th. "He shall come, and life will defy death . . . and he shall revivify the blood of all beings, shall regenerate all bodies, and purify all souls."

5th. "He shall come, and all animated beings, all the flo wers, plants, men, women, the infants, the slaves . . . shall together intone the chant of joy, for he is the Lord of all creatures . . . he is

From The Christian Books

1st. "The people of Galilee of the Gentiles which sat in darkness saw great light" (Matthew iv. from Isaiah ix. 1, 2).

2d. "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son" (Isaiah vii. quoted in Matthew i. 23).

3d. "Behold, now, Jesus of Nazareth, with the brightness of his glorious divinity, put to flight all the horrid powers of darkness" (Nicodemus).

4th. "And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish" (John x. 28).

5th. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, thy King cometh unto thee . . . he is just . . .for how great is his good ness, and how great is his beauty! Corn infinite, for he is power, for he is wisdom, for he is beauty, for he is all and in all."

6th. "He shall come, more sweet than honey and ambrosia, more pure than the lamb without spot" (Ibid.).

7th. "Happy the blest womb that shall bear him" (Ibid.).

8th. "And God shall manifest His glory, and make His power resound, and shall reconcile Himself with His creatures" (Ibid.).

9th. "It is in the bosom of a woman that the ray of the Divine splendor will receive human form, and she shall bring forth, being a virgin, for no impure contact shall have defiled her" (Vedangas).

shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids" (Zechariah ix.).

6th. "Behold the lamb of God" (John i. 36). "He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53).

7th. "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb" (Luke i.); "Blessed is the womb that bare thee" (xi . 27).

8th. "God manifested forth His glory" (John, 1st Ep.). "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" (2 Corinth. v.).

9th. "Being an unparalleled instance, without any pollution or defilement, and a virgin shall bring forth a son, and a maid shall bring forth the Lord" (Gospel of Mary, iii.).

Let there be exaggeration or not in attributing to the Atharva-Veda and the other books such a great antiquity, the fact remains that these prophecies and their realization preceded Christianity, and Christna preceded Christ. That is all we need care to inquire.

One is completely overwhelmed with astonishment upon reading Dr. Lundy's Monumental Christianity. It would be difficult to say whether an admiration for the author's erudition, or amazement at his serene and unparalleled sophistry is stronger. He has gathered a world of facts which prove that the religions, far more ancient than Christianity, of Christna, Buddha, and Osiris had anticipated even its minutest symbols. His materials come from no forged papyri, no interpolated Gospels, but from sculptures on the walls of ancient temples, from monuments, inscriptions, and other archaic relics, only mutilated by the hammers of iconoclasts, the cannon of fanatics, and the effects of time. He shows us Christna and Apollo as good shepherds; Christna holding the cruciform chank and the chakra, and Christna "crucified in space," as he calls it (Monumental Christianity, fig. 72). Of this figure — borrowed by Dr. Lundy from Moor's Hindu Pantheon — it may be truly said that it is calculated to petrify a Christian with astonishment, for it is the crucified Christ of Romish art to the last degree of resemblance. Not a feature is lacking; and, the author says of it himself: "This representation I believe to be anterior to Christianity. . . . It looks like a Christian crucifix in many respects. . . . The drawing, the attitude, the nail-marks in hands and feet, indicate a Christian origin, while the Parthian coronet of seven points, the absence of the wood, and of the usual inscription, and the rays of glory above, would seem to point to some other than a Christian origin. Can it be the victim-man, or the priest and victim both in one, of the Hindu Mythology, who offered himself a sacrifice before the worlds were? Can it be Plato's Second God who impressed himself on the universe in the form of the cross? Or is it his divine man who would be scourged, tormented, fettered; have his eyes burnt out; and lastly . . . would be crucified?" (Republic, c. ii., p. 52, Spens. Trans.). It is all that and much more; Archaic Religious Philosophy was universal.

As it is, Dr. Lundy contradicts Moor, and maintains that this figure is that of Wittoba, one of the avatars of Vishnu, hence Christna, and anterior to Christianity, which is a fact not very easily to be put down. And yet although he finds it prophetic of Christianity, he thinks it has no relation whatever to Christ! His only reason is that "in a Christian crucifix the glory always comes from the sacred head; here it is from above and beyond. . . . The Pundit's Wittoba then, given to Moor, would seem to be the crucified Krishna, the shepherd-god of Mathura . . . a Saviour — the Lord of the Covenant, as well as Lord of Heaven and earth — pure and impure, light and dark, good and bad, peaceful and war-like, amiable and wrathful, mild and turbulent, forgiving and vindictive, God and a strange mixture of man, but not the Christ of the Gospels."

Now all these qualities must pertain to Jesus as well as to Christna. The very fact that Jesus was a man upon the mother's side — even though he were a God, implies as much. His behavior toward the fig-tree, and his self-contradictions, in Matthew, where at one time he promises peace on earth, and at another the sword, etc., are proofs in this direction. Undoubtedly this cut was never intended to represent Jesus of Nazareth. It was Wittoba, as Moor was told, and as moreover the Hindu Sacred Scriptures state, Brahma, the sacrificer who is "at once both sacrificer and victim"; it is "Brahma, victim in His Son Christna, who came to die on earth for our salvation, who Himself accomplishes the solemn sacrifice (of the Sarvameda)." And yet, it is the man Jesus as well as the man Christna, for both were united to their Chrestos.

Thus we have either to admit periodical "incarnations," or let Christianity go as the greatest imposture and plagiarism of the ages!

As to the Jewish Scriptures, only such men as the Jesuit de Carriere, a convenient representative of the majority of the Catholic clergy, can still command their followers to accept only the chronology established by the Holy Ghost. It is on the authority of the latter that we learn that Jacob went, with a family of seventy persons, all told, to settle in Egypt in A.M. 2298, and that in A.M. 2513 — just 215 years afterward — these seventy persons had so increased that they left Egypt 600,000 fighting men strong, "without counting women and children," which, according to the science of statistics, should represent a total population of between two and three millions!! Natural history affords no parallel to such fecundity, except in red herrings. After this let the Christian missionaries laugh, if they can, at Hindu chronology and computations.

"Happy are those persons, but not to be envied," exclaims Bunsen, "who have no misgivings about making Moses march out with more than two millions of people at the end of a popular conspiracy and rising, in the sunny days of the eighteenth dynasty; who make the Israelites conquer Kanaan under Joshua, during and previous to the most formidable campaigns of conquering Pharaohs in that same country. The Egyptian and Assyrian annals, combined with the historical criticism of the Bible, prove that the exodus could only have taken place under Menephthah, so that Joshua could not have crossed the Jordan before Easter 1280, the last campaign of Ramses III. in Palestine being in 1281."*

But we must resume the thread of our narrative with Buddha.

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