Historical Reprints Esoteric - Spiritual Hinduism And Buddhism - Volume 1

Hinduism And Buddhism - Volume 1

Hinduism And Buddhism - Volume 1
Catalog # SKU1377
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name Charles Eliot


Hinduism And Buddhism

An Historical Sketch
Volume 1

Sir Charles Eliot
In Three Volumes

Probably the first thought which will occur to the reader who is acquainted with the matters treated in this work will be that the subject is too large. A history of Hinduism or Buddhism or even of both within the frontiers of India may be a profitable though arduous task, but to attempt a historical sketch of the two faiths in their whole duration and extension over Eastern Asia is to choose a scene unsuited to any canvas which can be prepared at the present day.


Not only is the breadth of the landscape enormous but in some places it is crowded with details which cannot be omitted while in others the principal features are hidden by a mist which obscures the unity and connection of the whole composition. No one can feel these difficulties more than I do myself or approach his work with more diffidence, yet I venture to think that wide surveys may sometimes be useful and are needed in the present state of oriental studies.

For the reality of Indian influence in Asia-from Japan to the frontiers of Persia, from Manchuria to Java, from Burma to Mongolia-is undoubted and the influence is one. You cannot separate Hinduism from Buddhism, for without it Hinduism could not have assumed its medieval shape and some forms of Buddhism, such as Lamaism, countenance Brahmanic deities and ceremonies, while in Java and Camboja the two religions were avowedly combined and declared to be the same.

Neither is it convenient to separate the fortunes of Buddhism and Hinduism outside India from their history within it, for although the importance of Buddhism depends largely on its foreign conquests, the forms which it assumed in its new territories can be understood only by reference to the religious condition of India at the periods when successive missions were despatched.

But what are Hinduism and Buddhism? What do they teach about gods and men and the destinies of the soul? What ideals do they hold up and is their teaching of value or at least of interest for Europe? I will not at once answer these questions by general statements, because such names as Hinduism and Buddhism have different meanings in different countries and ages, but will rather begin by briefly reviewing the development of the two religions. I hope that the reader will forgive me if in doing so I repeat much that is to be found in the body of this work.

One general observation about India may be made at the outset. Here more than in any other country the national mind finds its favourite occupation and full expression in religion. This quality is geographical rather than racial, for it is possessed by Dravidians as much as by Aryans. From the Raja to the peasant most Hindus have an interest in theology and often a passion for it. Few works of art or literature are purely secular: the intellectual and aesthetic efforts of India, long, continuous and distinguished as they are, are monotonous inasmuch as they are almost all the expression of some religious phase. But the religion itself is extraordinarily full and varied. The love of discussion and speculation creates considerable variety in practice and almost unlimited variety in creed and theory. There are few dogmas known to the theologies of the world which are not held by some of India's multitudinous sects and it is perhaps impossible to make a single general statement about Hinduism, to which some sects would not prove an exception. Any such statements in this book must be understood as referring merely to the great majority of Hindus.

As a form of life and thought Hinduism is definite and unmistakeable. In whatever shape it presents itself it can be recognized at once. But it is so vast and multitudinous that only an encyclopedia could describe it and no formula can summarize it. Essayists flounder among conflicting propositions such as that sectarianism is the essence of Hinduism or that no educated Hindu belongs to a sect. Either can easily be proved, for it may be said of Hinduism, as it has been said of zoology, that you can prove anything if you merely collect facts which support your theory and not those which conflict with it. Hence many distinguished writers err by overestimating the phase which specially interests them. For one the religious life of India is fundamentally monotheistic and Vishnuite: for another philosophic Sivaism is its crown and quintessence: a third maintains with equal truth that all forms of Hinduism are tantric. All these views are tenable because though Hindu life may be cut up into castes and sects, Hindu creeds are not mutually exclusive and repellent. They attract and colour one another.

515+ pages - 8 x 5 inches SoftCover
Large Style Edition


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