78 BUDDHISM. earliest acts of Buddha's public ministry was to send forth the Sixty Disciples. He also formed a religious order, whose duty it was to go forth unpaid and preach to all nations. While, therefore, the Brahmans kept their ritual for the Twice-born Aryan castes, Buddhism addressed itself not only to those castes and to the lower mass of the people, but to all the non-Aryan races throughout India, and eventually to the whole Asiatic world. The First and Second Councils. — On the death of Buddha in 543 B.C., five hundred of his disciples met in a vast cave near Patnd, to gather together his sayings. This was the first Council. They chanted the lessons of their master in three great divisions, — the words of Buddha to his disciples; his code of discipline ; and his system of doctrine. These became the Three Collections of Buddha's teaching; and the word for a Buddhist Council means literally ' a singing together.' A century afterwards, a Second Council, of seven hundred, was held in 443 b.c, to settle disputes between the more and the less strict followers of Buddhism. Asoka. — During the next two hundred years Buddhism spread over Northern India. About 257 B.C., Asoka, the King of Magadha or Behar, became a zealous convert to the faith. He was grandson of Chandra Gupta, whom we shall afterwards hear of in Alexander's camp. Asoka is said to have supported 64,000 Buddhist priests ; he founded many religious houses ; and his kingdom is called the Land of the Monasteries (Vihara or Behar) to this day. Asoka did for Buddhism what the Em- peror Constantine afterwards effected for Christianity — he made it a State religion. This he accomplished by five means, — (1) by a Council to settle the faith ; (2) by Edicts setting forth its principles ; (3) by a State Department to watch over its purity ; (4) by Missionaries to spread its doctrines ; and (5) by an Au- thoritative Revision or Canon of the Buddhist Scriptures. The Work of Asoka. — In 244 b.c, Asoka convened at Patni the Third Buddhist Council, of one thousand elders. Evil men, taking on them the yellow robe of the Buddhist order, had given forth their own opinions as the teaching of Buddha. Such heresies were now corrected ; and the Buddhism of
Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/82
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