Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning
Page: 77In Prof. Fergusson's "Tree and Serpent Worship" may be seen (Plate xxxiii.) a representation of Maya, the mother of Buddha, asleep, and dreaming that a white elephant appeared to her, and entered her womb.
This dream being interpreted by the Brahmans learned in the Rig Veda, was considered as announcing the incarnation of him who was to be in future the deliverer of mankind from pain and sorrow. It is, in fact, the form which the Annunciation took in Buddhist legends.[117:4]
Bliss beyond mortal mother's filled her breast,
And over half the earth a lovely light
Forewent the morn. The strong hills shook; the waves
Sank lulled; all flowers that blow by day came forth
As 'twere high noon; down to the farthest hells
Passed the Queen's joy, as when warm sunshine thrills
Wood-glooms to gold, and into all the deeps
A tender whisper pierced. 'Oh ye,' it said,
'The dead that are to live, the live who die,
Uprise, and hear, and hope! Buddha is come!'
Whereat in Limbos numberless much peace
Spread, and the world's heart throbbed, and a wind blew
[Pg 118] With unknown freshness over land and seas.
And when the morning dawned, and this was told,
The grey dream-readers said, 'The dream is good!
The Crab is in conjunction with the Sun;
The Queen shall bear a boy, a holy child
Of wondrous wisdom, profiting all flesh,
Who shall deliver men from ignorance,
Or rule the world, if he will deign to rule.'
In this wise was the holy Buddha born."
In Fig. 4, Plate xci., the same subject is also illustrated. Prof. Fergusson, referring to it, says:
"Fig. 4 is another edition of a legend more frequently repeated than almost any other in Buddhist Scriptures. It was, with their artists, as great a favorite as the Annunciation and Nativity were with Christian painters."[118:1]
When Buddha avatar descended from the regions of the souls, and entered the body of the Virgin Maya, her womb suddenly assumed the appearance of clear, transparent crystal, in which Buddha appeared, beautiful as a flower, kneeling and reclining on his hands.[118:2]
Buddha's representative on earth is the Dalai Lama, or Grand Lama, the High Priest of the Tartars. He is regarded as the vicegerent of God, with power to dispense divine blessings on whomsoever he will, and is considered among the Buddhists to be a sort of divine being. He is the Pope of Buddhism.[118:3]
The Siamese had a Virgin-born God and Saviour whom they called Codom. His mother, a beautiful young virgin, being inspired from heaven, quitted the society of men and wandered into the most unfrequented parts of a great forest, there to await the coming of a god which had long been announced to mankind. While she was one day prostrate in prayer, she was impregnated by the sunbeams. She thereupon retired to the borders of a lake, between Siam and Cambodia, where she was delivered of a "heavenly boy," which she placed within the folds of a lotus, that opened to receive him. When the boy grew up, he became a prodigy of wisdom, performed miracles, &c.[118:4]
The first Europeans who visited Cape Comorin, the most [Pg 119]southerly extremity of the peninsula of Hindostan, were surprised to find the inhabitants worshiping a Lord and Saviour whom they called Salivahana. They related that his father's name was Taishaca, but that he was a divine child horn of a Virgin, in fact, an incarnation of the Supreme Vishnu.[119:1]
The belief in a virgin-born god-man is found in the religions of China. As Sir John Francis Davis remarks,[119:2] "China has her mythology in common with all other nations, and under this head we must range the persons styled Fo-hi (or Fuh-he), Shin-noong, Hoang-ty and their immediate successors, who, like the demi gods and heroes of Grecian fable, rescued mankind by their ability or enterprise from the most primitive barbarism, and have since been invested with superhuman attributes. The most extravagant prodigies are related of these persons, and the most incongruous qualities attributed to them."
Dean Milman, in his "History of Christianity" (Vol. i. p. 97), refers to the tradition, found among the Chinese, that Fo-hi was born of a virgin; and remarks that, the first Jesuit missionaries who went to China were appalled at finding, in the mythology of that country, a counterpart of the story of the virgin of Judea.
Fo-hi is said to have been born 3463 years B. C., and, according to some Chinese writers, with him begins the historical era and the foundation of the empire. When his mother conceived him in her womb, a rainbow was seen to surround her.[119:3]
The Chinese traditions concerning the birth of Fo-hi are, some of them, highly poetical. That which has received the widest acceptance is as follows:
"Three nymphs came down from heaven to wash themselves in a river; but scarce had they got there before the herb lotus appeared on one of their garments, with its coral fruit upon it. They could not imagine whence it proceeded, and one was tempted to taste it, whereby she became pregnant and was delivered of a boy, who afterwards became a great man, a founder of religion, a conqueror, and legislator."[119:4]
The sect of Xaca, which is evidently a corruption of Buddhism, claim that their master was also of supernatural origin. Alvarez Semedo, speaking of them, says:
"The third religious sect among the Chinese is from India, from the parts of Hindostan, which sect they call Xaca, from the founder of it, concerning whom they fable—that he was conceived by his mother Maya, from a white elephant, [Pg 120]which she saw in her sleep, and for more purity she brought him from one of her sides."[120:1]