« EelmineJätka »
HIS MOST GRACIOUS MAJESTY
KING OF WURTTEMBERG.
Most respectfully I approach to present to Your Majesty my researches on the Buddhist religion in Tibet; and I do so with a feeling of the deepest gratitude for Your Majesty's gracious permission. For even if I recall to my mind the far distant origin of the Buddhist faith, the various changes it has undergone, and its still existing influence as the dominant religion of hundreds of millions, the share such considerations might have had in my venturing to address Your Majesty, must disappear before the gracious, encouraging condescendence with which Your Majesty * was pleased to receive a personal explanation of the materials which are now published in this work.
I am, with profound respect,
MUNICH, May 1863.
Most humble and obedient servant,
The religious systems of all ages—paganism in its rudest form perhaps excepted—have undergone changes and modifications which, if not materially affecting their principles, have at least exercised a certain influence upon their development. Buddhism may be considered a remarkable illustration of this; for not only have the rites suffered notable changes, but even the dogmas themselves have, in the course of time, become much altered. Although plain and simple in the earlier stages of its existence, it was in time greatly modified by the successive introduction of new doctrines, laws, and rites; so-called reformers arose, who assembled around them a greater or less number of followers; and these by degrees formed schools, which by-and-by developed into sects. The shifting of its original seat also exercised a considerable influence: the difference between a tropical and a cold and desert region, and between the physical character of tribes separated by the distinctive marks of the Arian and Turanian races, had to be smoothed over, partly at least, and obliterated by the influence of time.
The present work has for its object the description of Buddhism as we now find it in Tibet, after an existence in this country of upwards of twelve centuries.
The information obtained by my brothers Hermann, Adolphe, and Robert de Schlagintweit, when on the scientific mission undertaken between the years 1854-58, which gave them the opportunity of visiting various parts of Tibet and of the Buddhist countries in the Himalaya, has been the chief source on which I have drawn for my remarks and descriptions. The reports of former travellers have also been consulted and compared with the contributions received from my brothers. Not less important for my subject, as enabling one to judge of the fundamental laws of Buddhism, and their subsequent modifications, were the researches of the oriental philologists and intelligent writers on Buddhist doctrines, amongst whom Hodgson and Burnouf have so successfully led the way to the analysis of the original native works.
For the greater part of the objects here treated of and for most of the native explanatory remarks, I am indebted to my brother Hermann. He had engaged in Sikkim the services of Chibu Lama, a very intelligent Lepcha, then a political agent of the Raja of Sikkim at Darjiling. Through this personage he was enabled to