Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 21.djvu/42

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honorific titles given to the preachers or interpreters of the law was 'wise' or 'learned man,' Pandita, for the word is so often applied to them that it looks more like a title than a common epithet[1]. Târanâtha knows Pandita to be a title[2], and considers it to be the equivalent of the older Mahâbhadanta; he distinguishes 'Bodhisattvas' from 'common Panditas' and 'Arhats.' How does this agree with the data in the Lotus? As it has been intimated in a foregoing note, the three Vehicles are imitations of three Âsramas or stages in the model life of an Ârya, in the first place of a Brâhman. The stages are that of a student, of a hermit living in the forest, and of a Sannyâsin, Yati, or Mukta, who has wholly given up the world. The second stage, that of a householder, does not exist, of course, for those who vow themselves to a monastic life. Our Sûtra does not prescribe that the three stages must be gone through by the same persons, no more than the Bhagavad-gîtâ l.c. requires that one should pass the stages of study, knowledge, and meditation before resolving upon complete renunciation (tyâga); what follows from the context is only this, that the Vehicle of Bodhisattvas, alias those who strive for the weal of all creatures, is superior to the two preceding Vehicles. The Vehicle of the Bodhisattvas being the loftiest of the three, they themselves must be considered as occupying the highest rank. Now Târanâtha places the Arhats above them, and with the Nepalese also the first class of the monastic order is that of Arhat[3]. The question is, how are we to judge of the relation between Arhats and Bodhisattvas in the Lotus? As far as I am able to see, the compiler[4] of the Sûtra describes facts, or supposed facts, which he knew from oral or literary tradition, as having occurred in the past, whereas the actual state of things in his own time and shortly before is represented as that of the future. His Arhats are sages of the past, canonized saints; his human Bodhisattvas are sages,

  1. E.g. Lotus, chap. x, st. 4, cf. 6; 23, 33; xiii, 13, 16, 24, 26, 30, 32, 39, 44.
  2. Geschichte des Buddhismus, p. 60.
  3. Hodgson, Essays, p. 52 ; cf. p. 30.
  4. The reader should not lay stress upon this singular.