Images de page
PDF
ePub

general rule, translators of Oriental poetry consider themselves privileged by the exigencies of rhyme in departing very widely from the text before them. This genial aberration, no doubt, renders their versions more acceptable to the British public. But the system which Mr. Francis has followed is, in our opinion, preferable.

The chief interest of the Jātaka Book is generally supposed to lie in the fact that it is the oldest collection of folklore stories in existence, and that it gives a faithful picture of the manners and customs of ancient India in the centuries immediately preceding our era.

It may be safely asserted that folk-lorists will find in the present volume many tales which will remind them of those found in other collections. Many parallels are pointed out by Mr. Francis. For instance, on p. 141 he reminds us that the Kusa-Jātaka may be linked with the European variants of the tale of "Beauty and the Beast," and refers to the Tibetan tales of the well-known folk-lorist Professor Ralston, Introduction, p. xxxvii, and pp. 21-28, and KusaJākaya, a Buddhistic legend, rendered from the Sinhalese into English verse by Thomas Steele. Professor Ralston did not fail to observe the resemblance in this story to that of Cupid and Psyche, in that the wife is forbidden to look upon her husband. One of the extraordinary feats of archery performed in the Sarabhanga Jātaka reminds Mr. Francis of a feat of the archer Locksley (Robin Hood) in "Ivanhoe." Archers in folk-lore and legend, from the hero of the Asadrisa Jātaka to Adam Bell, perform exploits which seem incredible to degenerate men of modern days. Numerous parallels will no doubt occur to our readers. There is a curious incident in the Sambhava-Jātaka, No. 515, which has its parallels in European folk-lore. An enquirer is sent to a man named Vidhura, who refers him to his son Bhadrakāra, and by him he is sent on to his younger brother, Sanjaya, who refers him to a still younger brother, Sambhava, who solves the problem. In the same way, in Gonzenbach's "Sicilianische Märchen," p. 86, an

inquiring Prince is sent by one "Einsiedler Einsiedler" to his brother, and this brother sends him to an older brother, and he again to a still older one, who is described as steinalt. In Thorpe's "Yuletide Stories," p. 158, the youth, who is in quest of the Beautiful Palace, East of the Sun and North of the Earth, is sent by an old woman to her old sister, who refers her to a still older sister. Other parallels might be adduced from the folk-lore of Bohemia, Russia, Scandinavia, and Italy. The same incident is found in a later Indian work, the "Kathā Sarit Sāgara," in which will also be found a striking parallel to the Mahākapi Jātaka, p. 38. A man is hauled out of a pit by a monkey, and he tries to murder his benefactor while asleep. The good monkey nevertheless shows him, with due precautions against treachery, the way out of the wood. In the Katha Sarit Sāgara a lion asks a bear to throw down from a tree a sleeping prince, to whom he had promised protection. The bear refuses, but when the bear was asleep the prince made an effort to throw him down, but did not succeed, and was very justly punished with madness. This Jātaka is found in the Northern Buddhist collection, called "Jātaka-mālā," edited by Professor Kern.

Of man-eating ogres there is no lack in the volume under notice. The most interesting, perhaps, is the cannibal king, described in No. 537, who had been a yakkha in a former birth. But in the story of the ogre, on p. 13, there is an incident which may perhaps remind us of the story of Damon and Pytheas (or Phintias) versified by Schiller. king has been captured by an ogre, and though perfectly willing to be devoured, he is troubled by the thought of an unfulfilled duty. He explains the matter in the following

stanza:

"A promise once I to a brahmin made;

That promise still is due, that debt unpaid:
The vow fulfilled, to-morrow's dawn shall see
My honour saved, and my return to thee."

A

On the King's return to his palace, the Prince obtains permission to take his father's place. However, the ogre,

after the manner of Indian ogres, is so much impressed by his courage and self-sacrifice, that he decides not to eat him. But the story does not end there. The Prince discovers that the ogre is not a real ogre by the following signs: "The eyes of ogres are red, and do not wink; they cast no shadow, and are free from all fear. This is no ogre; it is a man." (It may be observed that the notion, that the eyes of supernatural beings do not wink, is found in many Indian books, and in the "Ethiopica" of Heliodorus. That such beings do not cast a shadow is also a fancy common to India and Europe.) Eventually the Prince discovers that the supposed ogre is his uncle, his father's elder brother, who has taken to ogreish ways, owing to his having been stolen and nourished by an ogress, and a family reconciliation takes place. Among other well-known Indian stories, this volume contains the Ummadanti-Jātaka, three versions of which, all ending unhappily, are found in the Katha Sarit Sāgara. For another version Mr. Francis refers us to the Jātaka-Mālā. His knowledge of Northern and Southern Buddhism has enabled him to compare many cognate legends, and to throw light upon many Buddhist doctrines and practices, and also to explain many difficult expressions. Owing, no doubt, to the necessity of economizing space, which weighed so heavily on Professor Fausböll, he has had occasionally to be content with a brief reference to the works of other scholars. For instance, in speaking of the ChaddantaJātaka he remarks, "In the Journal Asiatique for 1895, tom. v., N.S., will be found a careful study by M. L. Feer, of the Chaddanta-Jātaka, based on a comparison of five different versions-two Pali, one Sanskrit, one Chinese." Many such notes, most valuable to the specialist, will be found scattered through this volume. It is, perhaps, worth while to remark that this Jātaka will be found represented in Cunningham's "Stupa of Bharhut,' Stupa of Bharhut," Plate XXVI. Plate XLVIII. in the same volume illustrates an incident described on p. 92 of Mr. Francis' translation, where a king,

finding a gray hair on his head, determines to embrace an ascetic life. This incident is a commonplace in Indian fiction, and is even found in a well-known Muhammadan tale.

To inquirers, who take interest in the manners and customs of ancient India, this volume will present many attractions. Jātaka, No. 520, contains an account of a king, who, after a fashion frequently followed in India, and not, perhaps, altogether unknown in Europe, roams about incognito with his chaplain, to hear what his subjects think of him. As a rule, in Indian stories, such royal listeners hear no good of themselves, as the Indian public in ancient times was wont to impute all evils to the sins of its rulers. Accordingly, King Pañcala, the hero of the tale above referred to, hears himself blamed by an old woman because her two daughters have not been married; by an old man because a thorn runs into his foot; by a milkman because his cow kicks him and upsets him, milk and all; and by a frog in a dry tank, because he and his brethren are devoured by The way in which these misfortunes are connected in the story with neglect of duty on the part of the Sovereign is certainly very ingenious. Among customs, generally considered to be opposed to Buddhism, mentioned in these tales is that of drinking intoxicating liquors. The women. who, under the influence of strong drink, ventured into the presence of the Buddha, were sternly rebuked by him, and it is satisfactory to find that they were immediately "established in the fruition of the First Path."

crows.

water.

The unbecoming conduct of these women leads the Master to give an account of the discovery of strong drink, which is very curious. According to him it was originally generated in the hollow of a tree, which was filled with "Round about it grew two myrobalan plants and a pepper shrub; and the ripe fruits from these, when they were cut down, fell into the hole. Not far from this tree was some self-sown paddy. The parrots would pluck the heads of rice and eat them, perched on this tree. And

while they were eating, the paddy and the husked rice fell there. So the water, fermenting through the sun's heat, assumed a blood-red colour. In the hot season flocks of birds, being thirsty, drank of it, and becoming intoxicated, fell down at the foot of the tree, and after sleeping awhile, flew away, chirping merrily. And the same thing happened in the case of wild dogs, monkeys, and other creatures." A forester observing this, imitated the birds and animals, and taught the bad practice to an ascetic. The next step was that the votaries of this new habit took to imitating themselves the process of nature, and manufactured intoxicating liquor largely. Eventually the King of Săvatthi took to the practice of drinking spirits, and though he himself renounced it when admonished by the god Sakka, we read that "the drinking of strong drink gradually developed in India." It is clear that the Jātaka book describes ancient India as it actually was, and not as, according to Buddhist ideas, it ought to have been. The practice of indulging in animal food, which the offenders in this tale combined with their Bacchanalian practices, and which appears in a somewhat repulsive form on p. 121 in the case of a hermit. who eats the flesh of a monkey given to him by the inhabitants of a frontier village, may perhaps be excused by the example of the Buddha himself, whose death was, according to Professor Rhys Davids, due "to a meal of rice and young pork." The above instances are sufficient to show that the Jātaka Book gives a picture of many sides of Indian life in the centuries which preceded

our era.

The information which it furnishes with regard to the social organization of the Indian people in these ancient times has been made the subject of a special treatise by Dr. Fick, whose book is referred to by Mr. Francis.

It remains to state that Mr. Francis' volume is furnished with an "index of subject matters," and an "index of names and Pali words," which considerably enhance its value.-C. H. T.

« PrécédentContinuer »