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We gather from the Pitakas that writing was well known in the Buddha’s time[621]. But though it was used for inscriptions, accounts and even letters, it was not used for books, partly because the Brahmans were prejudiced against it, and partly because no suitable material for inditing long compositions had been discovered. There were religious objections to parchment and leaves were not employed till later. The minute account of monastic life given in the Vinaya makes it certain that the monks did not use writing for religious purposes. Equally conclusive, though also negative, is the fact that in the accounts of the a.s.semblies at Rajagaha and Vesali[622] when there is a dispute as to the correct ruling on a point, there is no appeal to writing but merely to the memory of the oldest and most authoritative monks. In the Vinaya we hear of people who know special books: of monks who are preachers of the Dhamma and others who know the Sutta: of laymen who have learnt a particular suttanta and are afraid it will fall into oblivion unless others learn it from them. Apprehensions are expressed that suttas will be lost if monks neglect to learn them by heart[623]. From inscriptions of the third century B.C.[624] are quoted words like Petaki, a reciter of the Pitakas or perhaps of one Pitaka: Suttantika and Suttantakini, a man or woman who recites the suttantas: Pancanekayika, one who recites the five Nikayas. All this shows that from the early days of Buddhism onwards a succession of persons made it their business to learn and recite the doctrine and disciplinary rules and, considering the retentiveness of trained memories, we have no reason to doubt that the doctrine and rules have been preserved without much loss[625].

Not, however, without additions. The disadvantage of oral tradition is not that it forgets but that it proceeds s…o…b..ll fashion, adding with every generation new edifying matter. The text of the Vedic hymns was preserved with such jealous care that every verse and syllable was counted. But in works of lesser sanct.i.ty interpolations and additions were made according to the reciters’ taste. We cannot a.s.sign to the Mahabharata one date or author, and the t.i.tle of Upanishad is no guarantee for the age or authenticity of the treatises that bear it.

Already in the Anguttara-Nikaya[626], we hear of tables of contents and the expression is important, for though we cannot give any more precise explanation of it, it shows that care was taken to check the contents of the works accepted as scripture. But still there is little doubt that during the two or three centuries following the Buddha’s death, there went on a process not only of collection and recension but also of composition.

An account of the formation of the canon is given in the last two chapters of the Cullavagga[627]. After the death of the Buddha his disciples met to decide what should be regarded as the correct doctrine and discipline. The only way to do that was to agree what had been the utterances of the master and this, in a country where the oral transmission of teaching was so well understood, amounted to laying the foundations of a canon. Ka.s.sapa cross-examined experts as to the Buddha’s precepts. For the rules of discipline Upali was the chief authority and we read how he was asked where such and such a rule-for instance, the commandment against stealing-was promulgated.

“At Rajagaha, sir.”

“Concerning whom was it spoken?”

“Dhaniya, the potter’s son.”

“In regard to what matter?”

“The taking of that which had not been given.”

For collecting the suttas they relied on the testimony of ananda and asked him where the Brahmajala[628] was spoken. He replied “between Rajagaha and Nalanda at the royal rest-house at Ambalatthika.”

“Concerning whom was it spoken?” “Suppiya, the wandering ascetic and Brahmadatta the young Brahman.”

Then follows a similar account of the Samannaphala sutta and we are told that ananda was “questioned through the five Nikayas.” That is no doubt an exaggeration as applied to the time immediately after the Buddha’s death, but it is evidence that five Nikayas were in existence when this chapter was written[629].


Lines of growth are clearly discernible in the Vinaya and Sutta Pitakas.

As already mentioned, the Khuddaka-Nikaya is, as a collection, later than the others although separate books of it, such as the Sutta-nipata (especially the fourth and fifth books), are among the earliest doc.u.ments which we possess. But other books such as the Peta-[630] and Vimana-vatthu show a distinct difference in tone and are probably separated from the Buddha by several centuries. Of the other four Nikayas the Sa?yutta and Anguttara are the more modern and the Anguttara mentions Munda, King of Magadha who began to reign about forty years after the Buddha’s death. But even in the two older collections, the Digha and the Majjhima, we have not reached the lowest stratum. The first thirteen suttantas of the Digha all contain a very ancient tractate on morality, and the Samannaphala and following sections of the Digha and also some suttas of the Majjhima contain either in whole or in part a treatise on progress in the holy life. These treatises were probably current as separate portions for recitation before the suttas in which they are now set were composed.

Similarly, the Vinaya clearly presupposes an old code in the form of a list of offences called the Patimokkha. The Mahavagga contains a portion of an ancient word-for-word explanation of this code[631] and most of the Sutta-vibhanga is an amplification and exposition of it. The Patimokkha was already in existence when these books were composed, for we hear[632] that if in a company of Bhikkhus no one knows the Patimokkha, one of the younger brethren should be sent to some better instructed monastery to learn it. And further we hear[633] that a learned Bhikkhu was expected to know not merely the precepts of the Patimokkha but also the occasion when each was formulated. The place, the circ.u.mstances and the people concerned had been in each case handed down. There is here all the material for a narrative. The reciter of a sutta simply adopts the style of a village story-teller. “Thus have I heard. Once upon a time the Lord was dwelling at Rajagaha,” or wherever it was, and such and such people came to see him. And then, after a more or less dramatic introduction, comes the Lord’s discourse and at the end an epilogue saying how the hearers were edified and, if previously unconverted, took refuge in the true doctrine.

The Cullavagga states that the Vinaya (but not the other Pitakas) was recited and verified at the Council of Vesali. As I have mentioned elsewhere, Sinhalese and Chinese accounts speak of another Council, the Mahasangha or Mahasangiti. Though its date is uncertain, there is a consensus of tradition to the effect that it recognized a canon of its own, different from our Pali Canon and containing a larger amount of popular matter.

Sinhalese tradition states that the canon as we now have it was fixed at the third Council held at Pataliputra in the reign of Asoka (about 272-232 B.C.). The most precise statements about this Council are those of Buddhaghosa who says that an a.s.sembly of monks who knew the three Pitakas by heart recited the Vinaya and the Dhamma.

But the most important and interesting evidence as to the existence of Buddhist scriptures in the third century B.C. is afforded by the Bhabru (or Bhabra) edict of Asoka. He recommends the clergy to study seven pa.s.sages, of which nearly all can be identified in our present edition of the Pitakas[634]. This edict does not prove that Asoka had before him in the form which we know the Digha and other works cited. But the most cautious logic must admit that there was a collection of the Buddha’s sayings to which he could appeal and that if most of his references to this collection can be identified in our Pitakas, then the major part of these Pitakas is probably identical in substance (not necessarily verbally) with the collection of sayings known to Asoka.

Neither Asoka nor the author of the Katha-vatthu cites books by name.

The latter for instance quotes the well-known lines “anupubbena medhavi”

not as coming from the Dhammapada but as “spoken by the Lord.” But the author of the Questions of Milinda, who knew the canonical books by the names they bear now, also often adopts a similar method of citation.

Although this author’s probable date is not earlier than our era his evidence is important. He mentions all five Nikayas by name, the t.i.tles of many suttas and also the Vibhanga, Dhatu-katha, Puggala-Pannatti, Katha-vatthu, Yamaka and Pa??hana.

Everything indicates and nothing discredits the conclusion that this canon of the Vibhajjavadins was substantially fixed in the time of Asoka, so far as the Vinaya and Sutta Pitakas are concerned. Some works of minor importance may have had an uncertain position and subsequent revisions may have been made but the scriptures were already recognized and contained pa.s.sages which occur in our versions. On the other hand this recension of the scriptures was not the only one in existence. If the patronage of Asoka gave it a special prestige in his lifetime, it may have lost it in India after his death and for many centuries the Buddhist Canon, like the list of the Upanishads, must have been susceptible of alteration. The Sarvastivadins compiled an Abhidhamma Pitaka of their own, apparently in the time of Kanishka, and the Dharmagupta school also seems to have had its own version of this Pitaka[635]. The date of the Pali Abhidhamma is very doubtful and I do not reject the hypothesis that it was composed in Ceylon, for the Sinhalese seem to have a special taste for such literature. But there is no proof of this Sinhalese origin.

According to Sinhalese tradition all three Pitakas were introduced into Ceylon by Mahinda in the reign of Asoka, but only as oral tradition and not in a written form. They received this latter about 20 B.C., as the result of a dispute between two monasteries[636]. The controversy is obscure but it appears that the ancient foundation called Mahavihara accepted as canonical the fifth book of the Vinaya called Parivara, whereas it was rejected by the new monastery called Abhayagiri. The Sinhalese chronicle (Mahavamsa x.x.xIII. 100-104) says somewhat abruptly “The wise monks had hitherto handed down the text of the three Pitakas (Pi?akattayapalim) as well as the commentary by word of mouth. But seeing that mankind was becoming lost, they a.s.sembled together and wrote them in books in order that the faith might long endure.” This brief account seems to mean that a council was held not by the whole clergy of Ceylon but by the monks of the Mahavihara at which they committed to writing their own version of the canon including the Parivara. This book forms an appendix to the Vinaya Pitaka and in some verses printed at the conclusion is said to be the work of one Dipa. It is generally accepted as a relatively late production, composed in Ceylon. If such a work was included in the canon of the Mahavihara, we must admit the possibility that other portions of it may be Sinhalese and not Indian.

But still the _onus probandi_ lies with those who maintain the Sinhalese origin of any part of the Pali Canon and two strong arguments support the Indian origin of the major part. First, many suttas not only show an intimate knowledge of ancient Indian customs but discuss topics such as caste, sacrifice, ancient heresies, and the value of the Veda which would be of no interest to Sinhalese. Secondly, there is no Sinhalese local colour and no Sinhalese legends have been introduced. Contrast with this the Dipa-and Maha-va?sa both of which open with accounts of mythical visits paid by the Buddha to Ceylon[637].

In Ceylon versions of the scriptures other than that of the Mahavihara were current until the twelfth century when uniformity was enforced by Parakrama Bahu. Some of these, for instance the Pitaka of the Vetulyakas, were decidedly heretical according to the standard of local orthodoxy but others probably presented variations of reading and arrangement rather than of doctrine. Anesaki[638] has compared with the received Pali text a portion of the Sa?yuktagama translated by Gu?abhadra into Chinese. He thinks that the original was the text used by the Abhayagiri monastery and brought to China by Fa Hsien.

The Sinhalese ecclesiastical history, Nikaya-Sangrahawa, relates[639]

that 235 years after the Buddha’s death nine heretical fraternities were formed who proceeded to compose scriptures of their own such as the Var?api?aka and Angulimala-Pi?aka. Though this treatise is late (_c_.

1400 A.D.) its statements merit attention as showing that even in orthodox Ceylon tradition regarded the authorized Pitaka as one of several versions. But many of the works mentioned sound like late tantric texts rather than compositions of the early heretics to whom they are attributed.

Ecclesiastical opinion in Ceylon after centuries of discussion ended by accepting the edition of the Mahavihara as the best, and we have no grounds for rejecting or suspecting this opinion. According to tradition Buddhaghosa was well versed in Sanskrit but deliberately preferred the southern canon. The Mahayanist doctor Asanga cites texts found in the Pali version, but not in the Sanskrit[640]. The monks of the Mahavihara were probably too indulgent in admitting late scholastic treatises, such as the Parivara. On the other hand they often showed a critical instinct in rejecting legendary matter. Thus the Sanskrit Vinayas contain many more miraculous narratives than the Pali Vinaya.


European critics have rarely occasion to discuss the credibility of Sanskrit literature, for most of it is so poetic or so speculative that no such question arises. But the Pitakas raise this question as directly as the Gospels, for they give the portrait of a man and the story of a life, in which an overgrowth of the miraculous has not hidden or destroyed the human substratum. How far can we accept them as a true picture of what Gotama was and taught?

Their credibility must be judged by the standard of Indian oral tradition. Its greatest fault comes from that deficiency in historic sense which we have repeatedly noticed. Hindu chroniclers ignore important events and what they record drifts by in a haze in which proportion, connection, and dates are lost. They frequently raise a structure of fiction on a slight basis of fact or on no basis at all.

But the fiction is generally so obvious that the danger of historians in the past has been not to be misled by it but to ignore the elements of truth which it may contain. For the Hindus have a good verbal memory; their genealogies, lists of kings and places generally prove to be correct and they have a pa.s.sion for catalogues of names. Also they take a real interest in describing doctrine. If the Buddha has been misrepresented, it is not for want of or power of transmitting abstruse ideas. The danger rather is that he who takes an interest in theology is to interpret a master’s teaching in the light of his own pet views.

The Pitakas ill.u.s.trate the strong and weak points of Hindu tradition.

The feebleness of the historical sense may be seen in the account of Devadatta’s doings in the Cullavagga[641] where the compiler seems unable to give a clear account of what he must have regarded as momentous incidents. Yet the same treatise is copious and lucid in dealing with monastic rules, and the sayings recorded have an air of authenticity. In the suttas the strong side of Hindu memory is brought into play. Of consecutive history there is no question. We have only an introduction giving the names of some characters and localities followed by a discourse. We know from the Vinaya that the monks were expected to exercise themselves in remembering these things, and they are precisely the things that they would get rightly by heart. I see no reason to doubt that such discourses as the sermon preached at Benares[642] and the recurring pa.s.sages in the first book of the Digha-Nikaya are a Pali version of what was accepted as the words of the Buddha soon after his death. And the change of dialect is not of great importance. Asoka’s Bhabru Edict contains the saying: _Thus the good law shall long endure_, which is believed to be a quotation and certainly corresponds pretty closely with a pa.s.sage in the Anguttara-Nikaya[643]. The King’s version is _Saddhamma cilathitike hasati_: the Pali is _Saddhammo ciratthitiko hoti_. Somewhat similar may have been the differences between the Buddha’s speech and the text which we possess. The importance of the change in language is diminished and the facility of transmission is increased by the fact that in Pali, Sanskrit and kindred Indian languages ideas are concentrated in single words rather than spread over sentences. Thus the words of the sermon at Benares give its purport with perfect clearness, if they are taken as a mere list without grammatical connection. Similarly I should imagine that the recurring paragraphs about progress in the holy life found in the early Suttas of the Digha-Nikaya are an echo of the Buddha’s own words, for they bear an impress not only of antiquity but of eloquence and elevation. This does not mean that we have any sermon in the exact form in which Gotama uttered it. Such doc.u.ments as the Samannaphala-sutta and Amba??ha-sutta probably give a good idea of his method and style in consecutive discourse and argument. But it would not be safe to regard them as more than the work of compilers who were acquainted with the surroundings in which he lived, the phrases he used, and the names and business of those who conversed with him. With these they made a picture of a day in his life, culminating in a sermon[644].

Like the historical value of the Pitakas, their literary value can be justly estimated only if we remember that they are not books in our sense but treatises handed down by memory and that their form is determined primarily by the convenience of the memory. We must not compare them with Plato and find them wanting, for often, especially in the Abhidhamma, there is no intention of producing a work of art, but merely of subdividing a subject and supplying explanations. Frequently the exposition is thrown into the form of a catechism with questions and answers arranged so as to correspond to numbered categories. Thus a topic may be divided into twenty heads and six propositions may be applied to each with positive or negative results. The strong point of these Abhidhamma works—and of Buddhist philosophy generally-lies in careful division and acute a.n.a.lysis but the power of definition is weak.

Rarely is a definition more than a collection of synonyms and very often the word to be defined is repeated in the definition. Thus in the Dhamma-sanga?i the questions, what are good or bad states of mind?

receive answers cast in the form: when a good or bad thought has arisen with certain accompaniments enumerated at length, then these are the states that are good or bad. No definition of good is given.

This mnemonic literature attains its highest excellence in poetry. The art of composing short poems in which a thought, emotion or spiritual experience is expressed with a few simple but pregnant words in the compa.s.s of a single couplet or short hymn, was carried by the early Buddhists to a perfection which has never been excelled. The Dhammapada[645] is the best known specimen of this literature. Being an anthology it is naturally more suited for quotation or recitation in sections than for continuous reading. But its twenty-five chapters are consecrated each to some special topic which receives fairly consecutive treatment, though each chapter is a mosaic of short poems consisting of one or more verses supposed to have been uttered by the Buddha or by arhats on various occasions. The whole work combines literary beauty, depth of thought and human feeling in a rare degree. Not only is it irradiated with the calm light of peace, faith and happiness but it glows with sympathy, with the desire to do good and help those who are struggling in the mire of pa.s.sion and delusion. For this reason it has found more favour with European readers than the detached and philosophic texts which simply preach self-conquest and aloofness.

Inferior in beauty but probably older is the Sutta-nipata, a collection of short discourses or conversations with the Buddha mostly in verse.

The rugged and popular language of these stanzas which reject speculation as much as luxury, takes us back to the life of the wanderers who followed the Buddha on his tours and we may imagine that poems like the Dhaniya sutta would be recited when they met together in a rest-house or grove set apart for their use on the outskirts of a village.

The Buddhist suttas, are interesting as being a special result of Gotama’s activity; they are not a.n.a.logous to the Brahmanic works called sutras, and they have no close parallel in later Indian literature.

There is little personal background in the Upanishads, none at all in the Sankhya and Vedanta sutras. But the Sutta Pitaka is an attempt to delineate a personality as well as to record a doctrine. Though the idea of writing biography has not yet been clearly conceived, yet almost every discourse brings before us the figure of the Lord: though the doctrine can be detached from the preacher, yet one feels that the hearers of the Pitaka hungered not merely for a knowledge of the four truths but for the very words of the great voice: did he really say this, and if so when, where and why? Most suttas begin by answering these questions. They describe a scene and report a discourse and in so doing they create a type of literature with an interest and individuality of its own. It is no exaggeration to say that the Buddha is the most living figure in Hindu literature. He stands before us more distinctly not only than Yajnavalkya and Sankara, but than modern teachers like Nanak and Ramanuja and the reason of this distinctness can I think be nothing but the personal impression which he made on his age.

The later Buddhists compose nothing in the style of the Nikayas: they write about Gotama in new and fanciful ways, but no Acts of the Apostles succeed the Gospels.

Though the Buddhist suttas are _sui generis_ and mark a new epoch in Indian literature, yet in style they are a natural development of the Upanishads. The Upanishads are less dogmatic and show much less interest in the personality of their sages, but they contain dialogues closely a.n.a.logous to suttas. Thus about half of the B?ihad-ara?yaka is a philosophic treatise unconnected with any particular name, but in this are set five dialogues in which Yajnavalkya appears and two others in which Ajatasatru and Pravaha?a Jaivali are the protagonists.

Though many suttas are little more than an exposition of some doctrine arranged in mnemonic form, others show eloquence and dramatic skill.

Thus the Samannaphala-sutta opens with a vivid description of the visit paid one night by Ajatasattu to the Buddha[646]. We see the royal procession of elephants and share the alarm of the suspicious king at the unearthly stillness of the monastery park, until he saw the Buddha sitting in a lighted pavilion surrounded by an a.s.sembly of twelve hundred and fifty brethren, calm and silent as a clear lake. The king’s long account of his fruitless quest for truth would be tiresome if it were not of such great historic interest and the same may be said of the Buddha’s enumeration of superst.i.tious and reprehensible practices, but from this point onwards his discourse is a magnificent crescendo of thought and language, never halting and ill.u.s.trated by metaphors of great effect and beauty. Equally forcible and surely resting on some tradition of the Buddha’s own words is the solemn fervour which often marks the suttas of the Majjhima such as the descriptions of his struggle for truth, the admonitions to Rahula and the reproof administered to Sati.


As mentioned above, our Pali Canon is the recension of the Vibhajjavadins. We know from the records of the Chinese pilgrims that other schools also had recensions of their own, and several of these recensions-such as those of the Sarvastivadins, Mahasanghikas, Mahisasakas, Dhammaguttikas, and Sammitiyas-are still partly extant in Chinese and Tibetan translations. These appear to have been made from the Sanskrit and fragments of what was probably the original have been preserved in Central Asia. A recension of the text in Sanskrit probably implies less than what we understand by a translation. It may mean that texts handed down in some Indian dialect which was neither Sanskrit nor Pali were rewritten with Sanskrit orthography and inflexions while preserving much of the original vocabulary. The Buddha allowed all men to learn his teaching in their own language, and different schools are said to have written the scriptures in different dialects, e.g. the Mahasanghikas in a kind of Prakrit not further specified and the Mahasammatiyas in Apabhramsa. When Sanskrit became the recognized vehicle for literary composition there would naturally be in India (though not in Ceylon) a tendency to rewrite books composed in other dialects[647]. The idea that when any important matter is committed to writing it should be expressed in a literary dialect not too intelligible to the vulgar is prevalent from Morocco to China. The language of Bengal ill.u.s.trates what may have happened to the Buddhist scriptures. It is said that at the beginning of the nineteenth century ninety per cent, of the vocabulary of Bengali was Sanskrit, and the grammatical construction sanskritized as well. Though the literary language now-a-days is less artificial, it still differs widely from the vernacular. Similarly the spoken word of the Buddha was forced into conformity with one literary standard or another and ecclesiastical Pali became as artificial as Sanskrit. The same incidents may be found worked up in both languages. Thus the Sanskrit version of the story of Pur?a in the Divyava-dana repeats what is found in Pali in the Sa?yutta-Nikaya[648] and reappears in Sanskrit in the Vinaya of the Mulasarvastivadin school.

The Chinese Tripitaka has been catalogued and we possess some information respecting the books which it contains, though none of them have been edited in Europe. Thus we know something[649] of the Sarvastivadin recension of the Abhidhamma. Like the Pali version it consists of seven books of which one, the Jnana-prasthana by Katyayaniputra, is regarded as the, the rest being supplementary. All the books are attributed to human authors, and though some of these bear the names of the Buddha’s immediate disciples, tradition connects Katyayaniputra with Kanishka’s council. This is not a very certain date, but still the inference is that about the time of the Christian era the contents of the Abhidhamma-Pitaka were not rigidly defined and a new recension was possible.

The Sanskrit ma.n.u.scripts discovered in Central Asia include Sutras from the Sa?yukta and Ekottara agamas (equivalent to the Sa?yutta and Anguttara Nikayas), a considerable part of the Dharmapada, fragments of the Sutta-Nipata and the Pratimoksha of the Sarvastivadin school. These correspond fairly well with the Pali text but represent another recension and a somewhat different arrangement. We have therefore here fragments of a Sanskrit version which must have been imported to Central Asia from northern India and covers, so far as the fragments permit us to judge, the same ground as the Vinaya and Suttas of the Pali Canon.

Far from displaying the diffuse and inflated style which characterizes the Mahayana texts it is sometimes shorter and simpler than our Pali version[650].

When was this version composed and what is its relation to the Pali? A definite reply would be premature, for other Sanskrit texts may be discovered in Central Asia, but two circ.u.mstances connect this early Buddhist literature in Sanskrit with the epoch of Kanishka. Firstly the Sanskrit Abhidharma of the Sarvastivadins seems to date from his council and secondly a Buddhist drama by Asvaghosha[651] of about the same time represents the Buddha as speaking in Sanskrit whereas the inferior characters speak Prakrit. But these facts do not prove that Sanskrit was not the language of the canon at an earlier date[652] and it is not safe to conclude that because Asoka did not employ it for writing edicts it was not the sacred language of any section of Indian Buddhists. On the other hand some of the Sanskrit texts contain indications that they are a translation from Pali or some vernacular[653]. In others are found historical allusions which suggest that they must have received additions after our era[654].

I have already raised the question of the relative value attaching to Pali and Sanskrit texts as authorities for early history. Two instances will perhaps ill.u.s.trate this better than a general discussion. As already mentioned, the Vinaya of the Mulasarvastivadins makes the Buddha visit north-western India and Kashmir, whereas the Pali texts do not represent him as travelling further west than the country of the Kurus.

The Sanskrit account is not known to be confirmed by more ancient evidence, but there is nothing impossible in it, particularly as there are periods in the Buddha’s long life filled by no incidents. The narrative however contains a prediction about Kanishka and therefore cannot be earlier than his reign. Now there is no reason why the Pali texts should be silent about this journey, if the Buddha really made it, but one can easily imagine reasons for inventing it in the period of the Kushan kings. North-western India was then full of monasteries and sacred sites and the same spirit which makes uncritical Buddhists in Ceylon and Siam a.s.sert to-day that the master visited their country impelled the monks of Peshawar and Kashmir to imagine a not improbable extension of his wanderings[655].

On the other hand this same Vinaya of the Mulasarvastivadins probably gives us a fragment of history when it tells us that the Buddha had three wives, perhaps too when it relates how Rahula’s paternity was called in question and how Devadatta wanted to marry Yasodhara after the Buddha had abandoned worldly life[656]. The Pali Vinaya and also some Sanskrit Vinayas[657] mention only one wife or none at all. They do not attempt to describe Gotama’s domestic life and if they make no allusion to it except to mention the mother of Rahula, this is not equivalent to an a.s.sertion that he had no other wife. But when one Vinaya composed in the north of India essays to give a biography of the Buddha and states that he had three wives, there is no reason for doubting that the compiler was in touch with good local tradition.


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