On comparing the fragment with the corresponding passages in Burnouf's French translation and the English version in this volume, the reader cannot fail to perceive that the discrepancies between the two European versions are fewer and of less consequence than between each of them and Kumarajïva's work. It is hardly to be supposed that the text used by Kumarajïva can have dififered so much from ours, and it seems far more probable that he has taken the liberty, for clearness sake, to modify the construction of the verses, a literal rendering whereof, it must be owned, is impossible in any language. It is a pity that Stanislas Julien has chosen for his specimen a fragment exclusively consisting of Gathas. A page in prose would have been far more useful as a test of the accuracy of the Chinese version.
Proceeding to treat of the contents of our Sütra, I begin by quoting the passage where Burnouf, in his usual masterly way, describes the general character of the book and the prominent features of the central figurein it. The illustrious French scholar vvrites: 1
«Lk, comme dans les Satras simples, c'est Qakya qui est le plus important, le premier des êtres; et quoique 1'imagination du compilateur 1'ait doué de toutes les perfections de science et de vertu admises chez les Buddhistes; quoique £akya revête déja un caractère mythologique, quand il déclare qu'il y a longtemps qu'il remplit les devoirs d'un Buddha, et qu'il doit les remplir longtemps encore, malgré sa mort prochaine, laquelle ne détruit pas son éternité; quoiqu'enfin on le représente créant de son corps des Buddhas qui sont comme les images et les reproductions idéales de sa personne mortelle, nulle part £akyamuni n'est nommé Dieu; nulle part il ne regoit le titre d'Adibuddha.»
To this I have nothing to object, only something to add. It is perfectly true that £akya does not receive the simple title of Deva; whyPBecause that title is far too poor for so exalted a personage who is the Devatideva, the paramount god of gods. So he is called in the Lotus, chap. vii, st. 31 2, and innumerable times in the whole range of Buddhist literature, both in Pali and Sanskrit.3 It is further undeniable that the title of Adibuddhadoes not occur in the Lotus, but it is intimated that £akya is identical with Adibuddha in the words: «From the very beginning (adita eva) havel roused, brought to maturity, fully developed them (the innumerable Bodhisattvas) to be fit for their Bodhisattva position.»4 It is only by accommodation that
1 Introduction, p. 119.
s Burnouf's rendering ia «Déva supérieur aux Dévas».
3 Less frequent than devatideva is the synonymous devadhideva, e. g. Lalitavistara, p. 131; essentially the same is the term sarvadevottama, the highest of all gods, ib. p. 144.
* See chap. xiv, p. 295.