Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 13.djvu/18

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blems, and long-continued custom had elaborated a multifarious system of ecclesiastical observances, which the newly risen sects, orthodox or heretical, could grapple with, or could adopt. It seems to us that Gotama's disciples, from the very beginning, were much more than a free and unformal union of men held together merely through their common reverence for their Master, and through a common spiritual aim. They formed rather, and from the first, an organised Brotherhood.

But if we look upon the Sakyaputtiya Samaras — for that is the name which the people in the earliest times gave to the community — as from the first an organised body, it is highly probable that the earliest formularies, both of their creeds and of their liturgies, arose in a time, if not during the life of Gotama, yet at most not long after his decease. Now among the oldest expressions of belief we may with certainty rank the four sentences known as the Four Noble Truths and the summary of the so-called Noble Eightfold Path : and the oldest liturgical formularies preserved to us are, without any doubt, the PHtimokkha and the various KammavcL£as. It is true that these liturgical formularies, being so much more extensive, may possibly have been modified or added to before they reached the form in which we now possess them; but there is not the slightest trace of any other liturgies having ever been in use in the Buddhist fraternity.

It is of course impossible to attempt to draw a line between the part which Gotama himself may have had in the settlement of the list of offences contained in the Patimokkha, and the part that may have been taken by his disciples. Nor indeed, considering the limited character of our knowledge, is that a point of much importance. But it should perhaps be noticed in this connection that Buddhist tradition does ascribe to one among Gotama's disciples — to Up&li — an especial connection with the Vinaya. This tradition reaches back at least as far as the time when the existing recension of the Pcili Pi/akas was made, for we find it both in the Sutta- and in the Vinaya-Pi/akas.