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Buddhaghosha's parables, tr. by T. Rogers. With an intr., containing Buddha's Dhammapada, or 'Path of virtue', tr. by F.M. Müller

by Buddhaghosa (theologian.)

Excerpt:

Though, for a time, I thought that the Burmese version of these parables might be a shorter, and possibly a more original collection, yet passages like the one just quoted would hardly allow of such a view. On the contrary, the more I saw of the translation of the Burmese parables, the more I felt convinced that the Burmese text was an abstract of Buddhaghosha's work, giving only a certain number of Buddhaghosha's stories, and most of them considerably abridged, and sometimes altered. As Dr. FausbOll has given of many of these stories the titles only, it was impossible in every case to compare the Burmese version with the Pali original. But, on the whole, I do not expect that the opinion which I have formed of the Burmese translation will be materially modified, when we have the whole of the Pali text to compare with it; and we must wait till we receive from Burmese scholars an explanation of the extraordinary changes which Buddhaghosha's original has undergone in the hands of the Burmese translator. My own opinion is, that there must be a more complete and more accurate Burmese translation of Buddhaghosha's work, and that what we have now before us is only the translation of a popular edition of the larger work. Towards the end of the Burmese translation there are several additions, evidently from a different source; in one case, as stated (p. 174), from the 'Kammapabhedadipa.'

By a strange coincidence, I received, at the very time when Captain Eogers had finished his translation, another translation of the same work by Captain Sheffield Grace. It was not intended for publication, but sent to me for my private use. I obtained Captain Sheffield Grace's permission to send his manuscript to Captain Sogers, who, as will be seen from his preface, derived much advantage from it while revising his own MS. for the press.

Although I felt disappointed at the character of the Burmese translation, yet I was most anxious that the labours of Captain Eogers and Captain Sheffield Grace should not have been in vain. Even such as they are, these parables are full of interest, not only for a study of Buddhism, but likewise for the history of fables and apologues in their migrations from East to West, or from West to East. This important chapter in the literary history of the ancient world, which since the days of Sylvestre de Sacy has attracted so much attention, and has of late been so ably treated by Professor Benfey and others, cannot be considered as finally closed without a far more exhaustive study of these Buddhist fables, many of them identically the same as the fables of the Pafi£atantra, and as the fables of iEsop. Nay I thought that, if it were only to give to the world that one apologue of Kisagotami (p. 100), this small collection of Buddhist parables deserved to be published; and I hoped, moreover, that by the publication of this first instalment, an impulse would be given that might lead to a complete translation, either from Pali or from Burmese, of all the fables contained in the 1 Commentary on the Dhammapada.'

However, in spite of my pleading, no publisher, not even Mr. Triibner, who certainly has shown no lack of faith in Oriental literature, would undertake the risk of publishing this collection of parables, except on condition that I should write an introduction. Though my hands Avcre full of work at the time, and my attention almost exclusively occupied with Vedic researches, yet I felt so reluctant to let this collection of Buddhistic fables remain unpublished, that I agreed to take my part in the work as soon as the first volume of my translation of the 'Eig Veda' should be carried through the press.

As the parables which Captain Rogers translated from Burmese, were originally written in Pali, and formed part of Buddhaghosha's 'Commentary on the Dhammapada,' i. e. 1 The Path of Virtue,' I thought that the most useful contribution that I could offer, by way of introduction, would be a translation of the original of the Dhammapada. The Dhammapada forms part of the Buddhistic canon, and consists of 423 verses,1 which are believed to contain the utterances of Buddha himself. It is in explaining these verses that Buddhaghosha gives for each verse a parable, which is to illustrate the meaning of the verse, and is believed to have been uttered by Buddha, in his intercourse with his disciples, or in preaching to the multitudes that came to hear him. In translating these verses, I have followed the edition of the Pali text, published in 1855 by Dr. Fausboll, and I have derived great advantage from his Latin translation, his notes, and his copious extracts from Buddhaghosha's commentary. I have also con

1 That there should be some differences in the exact number of these gathas, or verses, is but natural. In a short index at the end of the work, the number of chapters is given as twenty-six. This agrees with our text. The sum total, too, of the verses as there given, viz. 423, agrees with the number of verses which Buddhaghosha had before him. when writing his commentary, at the beginning of the fifth century of our era. It is only when the number of verses in each chapter is given that some slight differences occur. Cap. v. is said to contain 17 instead of 16 verses; cap. xii. 12 instead of 10; cap. xiv. 16 instead of 18; cap. xx. 16 instead of 17; cap. xxiv. 22 instead of 26; cap. xxvi. 40 instead of 41, which would give altogether five verses less than we actually possess. The cause of this difference may be either in the wording of the index itself (and we actually find in it a various reading, malavagge k& visati, instead of malavagg' ekavisati, see Fausboll, p. 435); or in the occasional counting of two verses as one, or of one as two. Thus in cap. v. we get 16 instead of 17 verses, if we take each verse to consist of two lines only, and not, as in vv. 74 and 75, of three. Under all circumstances the difference is trifling, and we may be satisfied that we possess in our MSS. the same text which Buddhaghosha knew in the fifth century of our era.

suited translations, either of the whole of the Dhammapada, or of portions of it, by Weber, Gogerly,1 Upham, Burnouf, and others. Though it will be seen that in many places my translation differs from those of my predecessors, I can only claim for myself the name of a very humble gleaner in the field of Pali literature. The greatest credit is due to Dr. Fausboll, whose editio princeps of the Dhammapada will mark for ever an important epoch in the history of Pali scholarship; and though later critics have been able to point out some mistakes, both in his text and in his translation, the value of their labours is not to be compared with that of the work accomplished singlehanded by that eminent Danish scholar.


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