The Buddhist "Wheel of Life" from a New Source

Louis de la Vallee Poussin
The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society

. P.463 THE doctrine of the Pratiityasamutpaada is expounded at considerable length in the sixteenth chapter of the (MSS. of the Royal Asiatic Society, the Soci‚t‚ Asiatique, and Cambridge). As is well known, the doctrine expressed in this very difficult formula forms one of the details of Buddhist doctrine regarded by the early Buddhists themselves as of primary importance; and its meaning has been frequently discussed.(1) Mr. Waddell lately published in our Journal the explanation of the Lamas of Tibet; and the fullest account of the whole question will be found in Professor Rhys Davids's "American Lectures," pp. 120, 155-161, where previous discussions are referred to.(2) Since then M. Senart has published a very interesting article on the same subject, (3) which is as rich in the results ascertained as remarkable for the elegance of its deductions. The formula of the Twelve Nidaanas, as it has been formed in the course of time by means of various recastings of no doctrinal importance, does not embody any learned theory distinct from the Samudayasatya, as conceived in its most rudimentary form. It is quite a delusion to try and find _____________________________________________________ 1. Burnouf, Kern, Oldenberg, Warren, and the most important essay of Jacobi: "Der Ursprung des Buddhismus aus dem Saa^mkhya-yoga" (Nachr. Ges. Wiss. zu G”ttingen, 1896). 2. See also by the same, Vinaya Texts, S.B.E. i, p. 146. 3. "A propos de la Th‚orie bouddhique das denze Nidaauas" (M‚langes Charles de Harlez, pp. 281-297). p.464 in it any systematic view; it is a vain task to endeavour to construct a rational exegesis of it.(1) Yet M. Senart shows how it may be possible to utilize it for the history of the scholastic system; and amid all the idle nomenclature of Buddhist literature there is not a single antithesis, an equivalence, or a word which does not merit a serious examination. The Pratiityasamutpaada formula, compiled at an early date, and itself the result of a contamination whose mechanism has been explained by M. Senart, has received during the course of ages a large number of different native explanations: an endeavour was made to find in it what had never been placed in it at the beginning, viz. a technical exposition of the evolution of the Karman, of the Sa^mv.rti. One of the simplest of these explanations is that preserved by Tibetan tradition and ingeniously interpreted by Mr. Waddell. But does it enable us to understand the theory? Does it reveal the genesis of the formula? Assuredly not. At the same time, from the historical point of view, it is not without considerable value. It is interesting to examine the somewhat too simple artifices by which certain communities pretended to resolve the problem. Similarly, if I think it useful to call attention to the text which is about to occupy us, it is because we may find in it certain curious facts concerning one of the traditional interpretations of the Pratiityasamutpaada. The nature of the book in which this text appears merits a few remarks. The Tantras are not rich in dogmatic expositions or discussions. For the masters as for the adepts of magic, the chief business is the description of the Ma.n.dalas, the panegyric of the Siddhis, the drawing up of pharmaceutical recipes and dhaara.niis. Only a small space is accorded to theory. Of course certain principles are apparent in the foreground--the thesis of the three secrets _____________________________________________________ 1. In the Bodhicaryaavataaratiikaa, chap. ix (at present in the press), certain original philosophical elucidations will be found of the pratiityasamutpaada (extracts from the 'Saalistambasuutra, etc.); cf. Buddh. Text See. 1895, pt. 2. p.465 of the body, of the voice, and of the thought (compare the Shin-gon-sh– sect, Fujishima, Bouddhisme Japonais, p. 81 sqq.), which dominates the Samaajatantra and furnishes a convenient framework for the ritual; also the doctrine of the vacuum, borrowed from the Maadhyamikas, which inspires a large number of dhaara.niis, and fixes the end of meditation; or again, the dogma of salvation by Atiyoga (Mahaasukha, surata), which is in flagrant contradiction with the moral system of the Master and brings sectarian Buddhism dangerously near to 'Saivism. The data are too scattered; we lose ourselves in a medley of ritual details and mythological representations. But underlying these details, there are ruling ideas; underlying these representations, which are really symbols, there are cosmogonic theories. Indeed, it is an error to regard tantric Buddhism as a mass of popular superstitions, as gross as they are heterogeneous. It may be broadly laid down that the people creates neither symbols nor rituals. The metaphysical and subtle character of all the essential concepts of Tantrism, under whatever aspect they are manifested and into whatever pattern they are interwoven, bear clear evidence of their origin. Non-tantric Buddhism appears to be a synthesis of theories borrowed from the Upani.sads and the Dharmasuutras, a synthesis crowned by the doctrines of the Arhat and of Tantric Buddhism weds these theories and dogmas to the hypothesis of Bhakti, the practices of the Yogins, the doctrines of the Schools. Such is the Mantraĝ or Tantrayaana, excessively composite and variable in character. Restrained within proper limits, the inspiration whence it proceeds animates the religious life of the most orthodox Bhikkhus (cf. the AAkankheyyasutta,(1) the Kamma.t.thaanas); unrestrained, it ends, though slowly, in dissolving in the community the traditions of the so-called original Buddhism. _____________________________________________________ 1. The Majjhima Nikaaya, No. 6, translated in Rhys Davids's "Buddhist Suttas." p.466 If the motor principles which constitute the tantric organism are not directly revealed to us; if the theories proper to the Tantrikas are not expounded in the Tantras, it would be still more vain to seek in them discussions of Buddhist doctrines--the Arhatva, the Four Truths, the Noble Way. are we to suppose that the sacred tradition had been interrupted? Precise facts forbid us to suppose this, and cast a singularly clear light on the syncretism which is the characteristic of the Hindu churches. Before his initiation into rituals, sometimes literally inspired by the kaamasuutras, and requiring the use of fleshmeat, alcohol, and the practice of maithuna, the Nepalese monk takes refuge in the Three Pearls and takes on himself the vow of the regular abstinences. What is true of the rules of conduct is still more true of doctrine. The Vajraacaaryas, adepts of mysticism and teachers of the Siddhis, were Maadhyamikas or Yogaacaaras, and sometimes doctors of the Vinaya. To practise the Tantras, it is necessary to be a professed adept, in ethics and philosophy. Put it is easy to understand that these books are generally silent on problems alien to their direct object. The interpretation of the Pratiityasamutpaada given us by the is doubtless borrowed from the philosophical school in which its editors were formed, and rests entirely upon the belief in the antaraabhava,(1) a belief certainly ancient in India and in the Buddhist Order, although condemned by the orthodox. It may be said that the thesis of antaraabhava naturally suggests the doctrine of our text, and permits us to join the terms bhava and jaati to the preceding ones. The Pubbaseliyas and the Sammitiyas, "antaraabhavavaadina.h," _____________________________________________________ 1. Kathaavatthu, viii, 2, Atthi antaraabhavo ti [Pubbaseliyaa, Sammitiyaa], and xiv, 2, Sa.laayatanan apubban acchiman maatu-kucchimhi sa.n.thaatiiti [pubbaseliyaa, Aparaseliyaa]. Cf. Rhys Davids, Schools of Buddhist Belief, J.R.A.S. 1892. Pa~ncakrama, iv, Comm., 1. 27. Bodhicaryaavataara (edidit Minayeff), Comm. ad. ix, 73. Lankaavataara Dev. 92, fol. 48 B. Minayeff, Recherches, pp. 221, 222. Wassilieff, Buddhismus, pp.243, 254, 266. Antaraabhavasuutra, Bunyiu Nanjio, No. 463 (translated by Fo-nien, latter Tshin dynasty, A.D. 384-411). Oldenberg, Z.D.M.G., xlix, pp. 178, 179. p.467 perhaps explain in the same or a similar manner the Pratiityasamutpaada.(1) pratiityasamutpaadapa- .tala.h .so.da'sama.h(2) atha bhagavatii aaha katham utpadyate loka.h katha^m yaati(3) k.saya^m puna.h/ katha^m vaa bhavet siddhir bruuhi tva^m parame'evara// atha(4) bhagavaan aaha avidyaapratyayaa.h sa^mskaaraa.h / sa^mskaarapra- tyaya^m vij~naanam / vij~naanapratyaya^m naamaruupam / naamaruupapratyaya^m .sa.daayatanam / .sa.daayatan- apratyaya.h spar'ea.h / spar'eapratyayaa vedanaa / vedanaapratyayaa t.r.s.naa / t.r.s.naapratyayam upaa- daanam / upaadaanapratyayo bhava.h / bhavapratyayaa jaati.h / jaatipratyayaa 'sokaparide- vadu.hkhadaurmanasyopaayaasaa.h(6) / evam asya keval- asya mahato du.hkhaskandhasya samudayo bhavati / evam apy avidyaanirodhaat sa^mskaaranirodha.h / sa^mskaar- anirodhaad vij~naananirodha.h / vij~naananirodhaan naamaruupanirodha.h / naamaruupanirodhaat t.r.s.naan- irodha.h(7) / t.r.s.naanirodhaad upaadaananirodha.h / upaadaananirodhaad bhavanirodha.h / bhavanirodhaaj jaatinirodha.h / jaatinirodhaaj'sokapar- idevadu.hkhadaurmanasyopaayaasaa nirudhyante(8) / evam asya mahato du.hkhaskandhasya nirodho bhavati pratiityotpadyate(9) loka.h pratiityaiya nirudhy- ate / buddhvaa ruupadvaya^m caitad advaya^m bhaavya sidhyati// atha bhagavatii uvaaca / kathayatu bhagavaan avidyaa- divivecanam(10) _____________________________________________________ 1. I must thank the Council of the Royal Asiatic Society for its kindness in lending the London MS., and Professor Cowell, who has been so good as to communicate to me the variants of the Cambridge MS. 2. Cambridge, Add. 1319, 42b-46a. London, 115, 39b-43a; fol. 41 missing. Cf. Feer, Index Kandjour, p. 298 (Rgyud v). 3. Camb. jaati; third paada defective. 4. Camb. omits atha. 5. Camb. ĝmara.nau. 6. Camb. ĝupaayaasa.h. 7. Sic Camb.: enumeration complete in London. 8. Camb. ĝupaayaaso nirudhyate. 9. Camb. pratyutpadyate. 10. Camb. omits aadi. p.468 atha bhagavaan aaha tripaiavartam ida^m cakram atiitaadiprabhedata.h (1) / dvaada'eaakaaram aakhyaata^m dharma^m(2) sarvaji- nair iha // tatatraavidyaa heyopaadeyaaj~naana^m(3) mara.naanant- ara^m dhandharuupa^m citta^m 'sariiraakaara^m bhavat- iity artha.h / tasmaat sa^mskaaro bhavati sa ca triv- idha.h / tatra kaayasa^mskaara aa'svaasapra'svaasau / vaaksa^mskaaro vitarkavicaarau / mana.hsa^mskaaro ra- agadve.samohaa.h / ebhiryuktaa'vidyaa 'svasati pra's- vasati vitarkayati sthuula^m g.rh.naati vicaarayati suuk.sma^m g.rh.naati(4) / anurakto bhavati mugdha's(5) ca / tasmaad vij~naana^m bhavati / .sa.t- prakaara^m cak.survij~naana^m 'srotraĝ ghraa.naĝ jihvaaĝ kaayaĝ manovij~naana^m ca / ebhir yuktaa 'vidyaa pa'syati 's.r.noti ighrati bhak.sati(6) sp.r'sati vikalpayati / tasmaan naamaruupam / naama catvaaro vedanaadaya.h / ruupa^m ruupam eveti dvaabhyaam abhisa^mk.sipya vi's- undhitvaa naamaruupety uktam / upaadaanapa~ncaskandh- aruupe.naavidyaa pari.namatiity artha.h / tatra veda- naa trividhaa sukhaa du.hkhaasukhaa ceti / sa^mj~naa vastunaa(7) / sa- ^mskaaraa.h saamaanyavi'se.saavasthaagaahina.h / cit- tacaittavij~naanaani puurvoktaany eva / ruupa^m catu- rbhuutaatmakam / p.rthvii gurutva^m vaakya^m(8) tatt- vam / aapo dravatvam abhispanditvam(9) / teja u.smat- va^m(10) paripaacanatvam / vaayur aaku~ncanapraasara- .nalaghusamudiira.natvam(11)/tasmaat .sa.daayatanaani'srotraghraa.najihvaakaayamanaa^msi / ebhir yuktaa puurvavat pa'syatiityaadi / tasmaat spar'sa.h / ruupa'sabdagandharasaspar'sa-dharmadhaatusamaavart- taye(12) / tatas t.r.s.naa / tata upaadaana^m tata.h praapaka^m karma / tato bhavo garbhaprave'sa.h / tato jaati.h praka.tiikara.naabh- ini.spatti.h(13) / upaadaana^m _____________________________________________________ 1. Camb. ĝprabhedita.h. 2. Sic London; Camb. and Paris, dharma. 3. Camb. aj~naanamara.n. 4. Sic MSS. 5. Camb. muu(r)kha. 6. Camb. omits bhak.sati. 7. Sic MSS. 8. Sic Paris, certainly inexact; Camb. illegible; perhaps kharatvam, comp. pa~ncakrama, i, 61. 9. Sic Camb.; paris gati.h syanditatvam /. 10. Camb. illegible. 11. Camb. samuditanalam. 12. Paris omits gandha and dharma; Camb. samaapĝ. 13. Camb. praka.tika reuaabhini.spatti. p.469 pa~ncaskandhalaabha.h / tato jaraa puraataniibhaava.h /^m cittacaittanirodha.h / tato citta^m yena(1) 'sokaakulo bhavati / muktir mayaa na prave'siteti paridevati(2) / vyaadhyaadyupadravata's ca du.hkhii bhavati tad eva puna.h punar manasi niyo- janaad(3) daurmanasii(4) bhavati / durmanaa(5) api kenaapy upadravata upaayaasii bhavati // ayam artha.h / avidyaadi(6) .sa.daayatanaparyant- enaantaraabhavasattva ekatraiva sthitas trailokya^m pa'syan / pa'syati striipuru.saan anuraktaan / tato 'titajaatik.rtakarma.naa prerito 'ya^m jaataav utpan- no bhavi.syati / tajjaatistriipuru.sau ratau d.r.s.t- vaatiiva tasya tayo.h spar'sa utpadyate / tatra yadi bhavi.syati tadaatmaana^m puru.saakaara^m pa'syati / bhaavimaatari paramaanuraago(7) bhavati / bhaavipitari ca mahaavadvi.s.ta.h(8) raagadve.sau ca sukhadu.hkhavedane / tata.h kenakaare.naanayaa saard- ha^m rati^m karomiiti cintayan / adu.hkhaasukhavedan- atayaa vyaamugdho(9) bhavati / tata.h puurvakarmavaa- taprerito mahaat.r.s.nayaa etaa^m ramaamiiti k.rtvaa ka.s.tena ko hi mama striya^m kaamayatiiti k.rtvaa taaraasa^mkrama.navad bhaavipit.r'siromaarge- .na pravi'sya tasya 'sukraadhi.s.thita^m cittam adhi- .s.thaaya bhaavimaatara^m kaamayantam aatmaana^m pa- 'syati sukhakaara.nam upaadadaati tata.h ' samarasiibhuuya mahaaraagaanuraage.naavadhuutiinaa.d- yaa pitur vajraan(10) nirgatya maatu.h padmasu.siras- thavajradhaatvi'svariinaa.dyaa(11) kuk.sau janmanaa.- dyaa^m sthita.h / k.sara.naantaritavat tato bhavo bhavati / sa ca kalalaarbudaghanape'sii'saa- khaayuto navabhir da'sabhir va masair yenaiva maarge- .na pravi.s.tas tenaiva nirgato jaatir bha- vati // yadi vaa strii bhavi.syati tadaa bhaavipitary anuraago bhavati / bhaavimaat.r' pravi- 'sya padme patitvaa ' bhaavimaatari(12) ca dv- / tatraatmaana^m striiruupa^m pa'syati / _____________________________________________________ 1. MSS. ĝ^m citta^m yana. 2. Sic Camb. 3. paris, niyojayed; Camb. niyojana. 4. Camb. du.hkhi, daurmanasi. 5. Camb. mano 'pi. 6. Camb. omits aadi. 7. Camb. ĝanurajo. 8. Camb. apaĝ. 9. Camb. vyaasukho. 10. Tib. rdo-rje=p`o-rt gs. 11. Camb. dhaatve'svarii. 12. Camb. bhaavita. p.470 mi'sriibhuuya tasyaa eva janmanaa.dyaa.m ti.s.thati (1) / tata.h(2) puurvavan nirgacchati jaayate / tad evam avidyaadibhir lokaa jaayante / lokaa's ca pa~nca skandhaa eva / te ca du.hkhaa.h sa^msaari.nah pa~nca skandhaa.h / na ca du.hkhena kaaryam asti mok.saarth- inaam / avidyaanirodhaat pa~ncaskandhaabhaava.h / 'suunyataa tucchataa / na ca tucchcna kaarya^m mok.s- aarthina.h / tasmaan na bhaavo naapy abhaava.h / tasmaad bhaavaabhaavavirahita^m praj~nopaayasa^mpu- .tam /^m 'sriimadacalanathaatmaka^m caturaanandaikamurticitta^m ita^m raage.notpadyate loko raagak.sayaat k.saya^m gata.h/ acalaarthaparij~naanaad buddhasiddhi.h sam.rdhyati// na calati praj~naasa^nge sukharasamudita^m tu yac cittam / vidhunan viramasumaara^m tad acalasa^mj~nayaa ca kathitam //(4) ity Ekallaviiraakhye ' pratiityasamutpaadapa.tala.h soda'sama.h. _____________________________________________________ 1. Camb. ti.s.thanti. 2. Camb. te. 3. Sic MSS. 4. Sic MSS.; metre and grammar uncertain.