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

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[301:1] objects of worship; because the word is not a name, but a title, signifying an extraordinary degree of holiness. Those who have examined the subject most deeply have generally agreed that Buddha Sakai, from whom the religion takes its name, must have been a real, historical personage, who appeared many centuries before the time assigned for the birth of Christ Jesus.[301:2] There are many things to confirm this supposition. In some portions of India, his religion appears to have flourished for a long time side by side with that of the Brahmans. This is shown by the existence of many ancient temples, some of them cut in subterranean rock, with an immensity of labor, which it must have required a long period to accomplish. In those old temples, his statues represent him with hair knotted all over his head, which was a very ancient custom with the anchorites of Hindostan, before the practice of shaving the head was introduced among their devotees.[301:3] His religion is also mentioned in one of the very ancient epic poems of India. The severity of the persecution indicates that their numbers and influence had became formidable to the Brahmans, who had everything to fear from a sect which abolished hereditary priesthood, and allowed the holy of all castes to become teachers.[301:4]

It may be observed that in speaking of the pre-existence of Buddha in heaven—his birth of a virgin—the songs of the angels at his birth—his recognition as a divine child—his disputation with the doctors—his temptation in the wilderness—his transfiguration on the Mount—his life of preaching and working miracles—and finally, his ascension into heaven, we referred to Prof. Samuel Beal's "History of Buddha," as one of our authorities. This work is simply a translation of the "Fo-pen-hing," made by Professor Beal from a Chinese copy, in the "Indian Office Library."

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Now, in regard to the antiquity of this work, we will quote the words of the translator in speaking on this subject.

First, he says:

"We know that the Fo-pen-hing was translated into Chinese from Sanscrit (the ancient language of Hindostan) so early as the eleventh year of the reign of Wing-ping (Ming-ti), of the Han dynasty, i. e., 69 or 70 A. D. We may, therefore, safely suppose that the original work was in circulation in India for some time previous to this date."[302:1]

Again, he says:

"There can be no doubt that the present work (i. e. the Fo-pen-hing, or Hist. of Buddha) contains as a woof (so to speak) some of the earliest verses (Gâthas) in which the History of Buddha was sung, long before the work itself was penned.

"These Gâthas were evidently composed in different Prakrit forms (during a period of disintegration) before the more modern type of Sanscrit was fixed by the rules of Panini, and the popular epics of the Mâhabharata and the Ramâyana."[302:2]

Again, in speaking of the points of resemblance in the history of Buddha and Jesus, he says:

"These points of agreement with the Gospel narrative naturally arouse curiosity and require explanation. If we could prove that they (the legends related of Buddha) were unknown in the East for some centuries after Christ, the explanation would be easy. But all the evidence we have goes to prove the contrary.

"It would be a natural inference that many of the events in the legend of Buddha were borrowed from the Apocryphal Gospels, if we were quite certain that these Apocryphal Gospels had not borrowed from it. How then may we explain the matter? It would be better at once to say that in our present state of knowledge there is no complete explanation to offer."[302:3]

There certainly is no "complete explanation" to be offered by one who attempts to uphold the historical accuracy of the New Testament. The "Devil" and "Type" theories having vanished, like all theories built on sand, nothing now remains for the honest man to do but acknowledge the truth, which is, that the history of Jesus of Nazareth as related in the books of the New Testament, is simply a copy of that of Buddha, with a mixture of mythology borrowed from other nations. Ernest de Bunsen almost acknowledges this when he says:

"With the remarkable exception of the death of Jesus on the cross, and of the doctrine of atonement by vicarious suffering, which is absolutely excluded by Buddhism, the most ancient of the Buddhistic records known to us contain statements about the life and the doctrines of Gautama Buddha which correspond in a remarkable manner, and impossibly by mere chance, with the traditions recorded in the Gospels about the life and doctrines of Jesus Christ. It is still more strange that these Buddhistic legends about Gautama as the Angel-Messiah refer to a doctrine which we find only in the Epistles of Paul and in the [Pg 303]fourth Gospel. This can be explained by the assumption of a common source of revelation; but then the serious question must be considered, why the doctrine of the Angel-Messiah, supposing it to have been revealed, and which we find in the East and in the West, is not contained in any of the Scriptures of the Old Testament which can possibly have been written before the Babylonian Captivity, nor in the first three Gospels. Can the systematic keeping-back of essential truth be attributed to God or to man?"[303:1]

Beside the work referred to above as being translated by Prof. Beal, there is another copy originally composed in verse. This was translated by the learned Fonceau, who gives it an antiquity of two thousand years, "although the original treatise must be attributed to an earlier date."[303:2]

In regard to the teachings of Buddha, which correspond so strikingly with those of Jesus, Prof. Rhys Davids, says:

"With regard to Gautama's teaching we have more reliable authority than we have with regard to his life. It is true that none of the books of the Three Pitakas can at present be satisfactorily traced back before the Council of Asoka, held at Patna, about 250 B. C., that is to say, at least one hundred and thirty years after the death of the teacher; but they undoubtedly contain a great deal of much older matter."[303:3]

Prof. Max Müller says:

"Between the language of Buddha and his disciples, and the language of Christ and his apostles, there are strange coincidences. Even some of the Buddhist legends and parables sound as if taken from the New Testament; though we know that many of them existed before the beginning of the Christian Era."[303:4]

Just as many of the myths related of the Hindoo Saviour Crishna were previously current regarding some of the Vedic gods, so likewise, many of the myths previously current regarding the god Sumana, worshiped both on Adam's peak, and at the cave of Dambulla, were added to the Buddha myth.[303:5] Much of the legend which was transferred to the Buddha, had previously existed, and had clustered around the idea of a Chakrawarti.[303:6] Thus we see that the legend of Christ Buddha, as with the legend of Christ Jesus, existed before his time.[303:7]

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We have established the fact then—and no man can produce better authorities—that Buddha and Buddhism, which correspond in such a remarkable manner with Jesus and Christianity, were long anterior to the Christian era. Now, as Ernest de Bunsen says, this remarkable similarity in the histories of the founders and their religion, could not possibly happen by chance.

Whenever two religious or legendary histories of mythological personages resemble each other so completely as do the histories and teachings of Buddha and Jesus, the older must be the parent, and the younger the child. We must therefore conclude that, since the history of Buddha and Buddhism is very much older than that of Jesus and Christianity, the Christians are incontestably either sectarians or plagiarists of the religion of the Buddhists.