buddhism primitive and present in magadha and in ceylon

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to www.million-books.com where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER III GENERAL HISTORICAL SKETCH BUDDHISM began by the teaching of Gotama, in the latter part of the century 600—500 B.c. To the question : What was at that time the condition of India ? the answer must be gathered chiefly from other sources than the Buddhist books. To depend on those books for the answer would be to assume—what is certainly not the case—that they were composed, in their present form in or near the first days of the religion ; or at any rate it would be to assume—what is extremely improbable—that those who compiled them, from one hundred and fifty to three hundred years later, knew and described the customs and surroundings of Gotama's day, not of their own. This cannot be supposed. All that can be safely inferred, as to conditions of society, as to customs, thought, and sciences, from the Buddhist books, concerns the conditions which existed when the books were compiled. As to a few definite historical points, names of persons, tribes, and places, and as to leading facts in the history of the religion itself, the books probably have preserved a true tradition, but the setting must be that of their ownday. It is, for instance, unsafe to infer, from the incidental mention of writing in the Pitakas, that writing was known in Gotama's days ; or, from the mention of monasteries, that these existed before Gotama introduced them. If these are facts, they must be learnt from other sources. It is therefore with only a limited degree of accuracy that we can construct from Buddhist books a picture of Indian life in the sixth century B.c. The Jain books are said to confirm the picture furnished by those of Buddhism, but they are of course liable to the same objection. The life they describe is that of the time of their composition, not of the time to which they...
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