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Discovering Buddhism

The earliest and most important British witness to discovering Buddhism is B. H. Hodgson, who in 1821 was appointed by the East India Company Political Resident in Nepal.

Discovering Buddhism - The earliest and most important British witness to discovering Buddhism is B. H. Hodgson, who in 1821 was appointed by the East India Company Political Resident in Nepal - Picture Copyright The National Portrait Gallery, London

Continued From << Buddhist Aims, Philosophical and Religious

Brian Houghton Hodgson (1 Feb 1800 – 23 May 1894) was an early naturalist and ethnologist working in British India and Nepal where he was an English civil servant with the East India Company.

Hodgson soon heard that a number of books, supposed to contain the canonical laws of the Buddha, were piously preserved in the Buddhist monasteries of that country. The books were written in Sanskrit. Hodgson succeeded in obtaining a list of them through an old Buddhist priest of Pathan with whom he was acquainted, and by degrees he collected the books themselves. He found it easier to obtain them translated into the Tibetan language; for books are as plentiful in Tibet as in our own country, multiplied as they are by printing on wood, a process brought to Tibet by the Chinese, and which is now in general use there. The Sanskrit volumes, copies of which were handed over to Hodgson, had been, such was the tradition, imported into Ne paul in the second century of the Christian era, and were only understood by the priests. They had been brought from Magadha, the opposite side of the Ganges; and five or six centuries later, had passed from Nepal into Tibet, where they were translated at the time Tibet adopted the Buddhist faith.

B. H. Hodgson was able to announce this great discovery to the learned societies in 1824 and 1825. But he did more than this: he offered the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal sixty Buddhist volumes in Sanskrit and two hundred and fifty in Tibetan. A few years later, he displayed the same liberality towards the Royal Asiatic Society of London and the Asiatic Society of Paris. He either gave them the manuscripts and printed matter he had collected, or had transcriptions made for them of the writings they desired. Thanks to him the Asiatic Society of Paris became the possessor-of eighty-eight Buddhist works in Sanskrit, which it would have been unable to procure had it not been for the generosity and kindly energy of the English Resident at Katmandu \ These labours and discoveries deserve the highest praise, and the name of B. H. Hodgson ought always to be remembered with gratitude.

It is to him we owe the original Sanskrit writings, which have since been consulted and translated by illustrious philologists, and it is he who first discovered the existence of the Tibetan translations.

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Discovering Buddhism

Text adapted from 'The Buddha and His Religion'
by Jules Barthélemy Saint-Hilaire (19 Aug 1805 – 24 Nov 1895)

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The Buddhist Flag
First hoisted in 1885 in Sri Lanka, is a symbol of faith and peace used throughout the world to represent the Buddhist faith.

Buddhist Flag Picture - Buddhist Flag Colours - The Buddhist Flag Sri Lanka 1885

Buddhist Flag Meanings
Blue: Universal Compassion
Yellow: The Middle Path
Red: Blessings
White: Purity and Liberation
Orange: Wisdom


The Dharma Wheel

Spokes of the Dharmachakra - "The Dharma Wheel" Meaning - The Dharma Wheel Symbol - The Dharma Wheel Image - 8 spokes representing the Noble Eightfold Path (Ariya magga)

In Buddhism—according to the Pali Canon, Vinayapitaka, Khandhaka, Mahavagga, the number of spokes of the Dharmachakra represent various meanings:

8 spokes representing the Noble Eightfold Path (Ariya magga).
12 spokes representing the Twelve Laws of Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppada).
24 spokes representing the Twelve Laws of Dependent Origination and the Twelve Laws of Dependent Termination (Paticcasamuppada).
31 spokes representing 31 realms of existence (11 realms of desire, 16 realms of form and 4 realms of formlessness).

Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is a Japanese Buddhist chant based upon the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren Daishonin (Feb 16, 1222 – Oct 13, 1282) a Buddhist monk who lived during the Kamakura period (1185–1333) in Japan. Nichiren taught devotion to the Lotus Sutra, entitled Myōhō-Renge-Kyō in Japanese, as the exclusive means to attain enlightenment and the chanting of Nam-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō as the essential practice of the teaching. Various schools with diverging interpretations of Nichiren's teachings comprise Nichiren Buddhism.
Nam - To devote one's life
Myoho - Myo is the mystic nature of life and Ho, its manifestation
Renge - "Lotus Flower"; which symolises the ballance of cause and effect
Kyo - Sutra, the voice or teachings of Buddha (The sound or vibration that connects everything in the ubiverse)

As the Buddha had never claimed to be a god, it is evident that he never prescribed the form of worship that was to be rendered to him. A legend, however, attributes to him the institution of this form of worship

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