CENTURY IMPRESSIONS OF BURMA.
of the celebrated Inscriptions of Asokaa inscriptions written in a character that no Sinhalese monk of the tenth century of the Buddhist era could have read, even had he been aware of their existence ; and the contents of these edicts, written in a language practically the same as that Pali used in the Scriptures of Theravada Buddhism, demonstrated beyond all doubt the authenticity of the Pali Canon, its Commentaries, and the Sinhalese Chronicles. Later archaeological discoveries in India brought further startling continuations, even as to the very names of Buddhist missionary monks whom the chronicles and commentaries stated had gone forth from the Third Great Council of the Faith, together with details as to the very districts in which their missionary
Burmeseaa people young in racial development, eager, active, impatient of all restrainta to this Buddhist religion, whose key-note is self-restraint and a selflessness a in life ; and that the significance to modern civilisation of the preservation, amongst a Mongolian people, of this greatest product of Aryan thought may be rendered clear, it will be necessary that we should first consider the circumstances and the environment in which it took its rise. Wherever, in actual fact, the original home and cradle of the great Aryan race was situate, we can have but little doubt that, at some very remote period in its history, that race divided into two great streams of emigration, each, probably, consisting of many a successive tidal wave. Of these two streams, one spread north and west-
FUNERAL OF A BUDDHIST PRIEST.
labours had been pursued; and the great mass of evidence from these discoveries, and from other non-Buddhist sources, as well as the strong internal evidence of the unique Pali literature itself, enable us now to assert as beyond all reasonable doubting that in the Theravada Buddhism now prevalent in Burma we have, practically unchanged after twenty-five centuries, the pure and original religion propounded by the Buddha ; and in the Pali Pitakasa the Canonical Scriptures of that faithawe have the veritable teaching of the Master preserved in the language he spoke, and for the most part couched in the actual words he employed in the course of his religious mission.
In order that the reader may understand the intense devotion of such a people as the
wards, populating Europe ; the other south and eastwards into Persia and the modern Afghanistan, ultimately penetrating the great barrier-vvall of the Himalayas, and passing through the valleys of Kashmir into India proper, taking up its final resting-place in the vast and fertile Gangetic plain. As it progressed in its conquest of India, everywhere displacing more or less completely the indigenous inhabitants by dint of its superior civilisation and its higher mental growth, the Indian branch of that race found itself in an environment very different to that of the north and westward tending stream. Brought earlier to maturity under the warm Indian skies, finding, in that genial and productive climate, opportunities for leisure and reflection such as were denied
in the severer conditions of life in the temperate zone, the Indian Aryans had reached, even before the era of the Buddha, to a state of intellectual progress such as even now their northward-wending kinsfolk of the European stream are but approaching. The climatic conditions of the Gangetic valley, indeed, all tended to the promotion of such mental, rather than material growth ; and so it was that the Indian Aryans, falling indeed far short of the material prosperity of Greek and Roman civilisation, yet indefinitely transcended these in philosophy, in religion, in comprehension of those deeper lessons of life which can only be approached when civilisation has attained to a more or less complete emancipation from the primary necessities of life. Food, warmth, and clothing all came easier or were less needed in India than in Europe ; whilst that leisure which is the first essential of deep and earnest thinking was the privilege even of the poorest. Thus came about the high degree of mental progress mentioned ; and whilst, even to the instructed Western reader, acquainted for the most part only with the smaller realm of Latin, Hellenic, and Hebraic culture, the statement may appear doubtful or impossible, yet in the very Pali literature we are considering we find the amplest demonstration that such high mental progress was a fact. In the Pali Pitakas are lists, for instance, of the divers schools of thought and systems of philosophy which were extant in India in the Buddhaas time ; lists the most significant and interesting to the European reader, who finds amongst them the equivalent of every latest development of modern thoughtathe very replica of all our most 44 advanced a philosophies, from the crudest of materialisms to the most transcendental, purely idealistic views of life.
And the chief difference between the civilisations of Eastern and Western Aryans, due to their differing environment, reached of necessity into every department of human polity ; the same typical divergence manifesting in every realm of life. For the Western, of hard necessity, material progress, material science, material development, came first and foremost; and it was only when the application of science came, during the past century, to add immensely to the material welfare of the West, that even the worldly sciences found manifold adherents and speedy progress ; theretofore the man who gave his life to science was either a wizard and anathema, or an idle dreamer in the popular estimation ; the great man of the West was he who owned the most, who exercised the most authorityAnd the chief difference between the civilisations of Eastern and Western Aryans, due to their differing environment, reached of necessity into every department of human polity ; the same typical divergence manifesting in every realm of life. For the Western, of hard necessity, material progress, material science, material development, came first and foremost; and it was only when the application of science came, during the past century, to add immensely to the material welfare of the West, that even the worldly sciences found manifold adherents and speedy progress ; theretofore the man who gave his life to science was either a wizard and anathema, or an idle dreamer in the popular estimation ; the great man of the West was he who owned the most, who exercised the most authority