OLD DIARY LEAVES, Second Series (1878-83)
by Henry Steel Olcott
THE POPULAR ENTHUSIASM
THIS was the Prologue to such a drama of excitement as we had not dreamt we should ever pass through. In a land of flowers and ideal tropical vegetation, under smiling skies, along roads shaded by clustering palm trees and made gay with miles upon miles of small arches of ribbon-like fringes of tender leaves, and surrounded by a glad nation, whose joy would have led them into the extravagance of actually worshipping us, if permitted, we passed from triumph to triumph, daily stimulated by the magnetism of popular love. The people could not do enough for us, nothing seemed to them good enough for us: we were the first white champions of their religion, speaking of its excellence and its blessed comfort from the platform, in the face of the Missionaries, its enemies and slanderers. It was that which thrilled their nerves and filled their affectionate hearts to bursting. I may seem to use strong language, but in reality it falls far short of the facts. If anybody seeks for proof, let him go through the lovely Island now, after fifteen years, and ask what they have to say about this tour of the two Founders and their party.
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At 3 p.m. we were driven to a wallâwa, or countryseat of a Sinhalese noble, where I addressed1 an audience of 3,000 from a high balcony overlooking a sort of natural amphitheatre. The multitude filled the plain and the hill-slopes adjacent to it. The considerable body of monks present "gave pânsil," i.e., intoned the Five Precepts and Three Refuges, in the Pâli language, and the people, as with one mighty wave of sound, repeated them after them. It made a great impression upon us, for, after all, nothing in the way of sound is more impressive than the vibration of thousands of human voices combining into one rhythmic diapason.
As this visit of ours was the beginning of the second and permanent stage of the Buddhist revival begun by Megittuwatte, a movement destined to gather the whole juvenile Sinhalese population into Buddhist schools under our general supervision, even its details acquire a certain importance. The following handbill, officially issued by Damodar, indicates the first steps taken by us towards forming Branches of the Theosophical Society in the Island:
" To whom it may concern.
" Notice is hereby given that on Monday evening next a meeting will be held at the residence of Minuvengoda, at 8 o'clock p.m.: on which occasion Col. Olcott will briefly state the aims and objects of the Theosophical Society. After which, gentlemen desirous of joining the Society can
1 I pray to be excused for so often speaking of myself throughout this narrative, but the fact was that, as P. T. S. and the official spokesman of the Delegation, I had to be always to the fore.
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register their names in the book provided for that purpose.
“ (By Order) DAMODAR K. MAVALANKAR,
Assistant Recording Secretary.
"GALLE, 22nd May, 1880."
The venerable Bulâtgama presided at the meeting, and Megittuwatte addressed it in a spirit-stirring dis-course.
We were taken the next day to the coffee and cinnamon estate of Mr. Simon Perera Abeyawardene, a wealthy Buddhist gentleman of Galle, and were much interested in watching the processes of peeling, drying, and packing the cinnamon bark. It was not our host's fault that we got back home alive, for he spread for us a Gargantuan "luncheon," at which fifty-seven kinds of curry were served with rice, and there were as many sweet dishes of sorts. We were actually importuned "just to taste" each one of these confections, and had much trouble in making it understood that our storage room was not elastic enough to permit us to comply.
On 25th May, H. P. B. and I "took pânsil" from the venerable Bulâtgama, at a temple of the Râmanya Nikâya, whose name at the moment escapes me, and were formally acknowledged as Buddhists. A great arch of greenery, bearing the words: "Welcome to the members of the Theosophical Society," had been erected within the compound of the Vihâra. We had previously declared ourselves Buddhists long before, in America, both privately and publicly, so that this was but a formal confirmation of our
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previous professions. H. P. B. knelt before the huge statue of the Buddha, and I kept her company. We had a good deal of trouble in catching the Pâli words that we were to repeat after the old monk, and I don't know how we should have got on if a friend had not taken his place just behind us and whispered them seriatim. A great crowd was present and made the responses just after us, a dead silence being preserved while we were struggling through the unfamiliar sentences. When we had finished the last of the Sîlas, and offered flowers in the customary way, there came a mighty shout to make one's nerves tingle, and the people could not settle themselves down to silence for some minutes, to hear the brief discourse which, at the Chief Priest's request, I delivered. I believe that attempts have been made by some of my leading colleagues of Europe and America to suppress this incident as much as possible, and cover up the fact that H.P. B. was as completely accepted a Buddhist as any Sinhalse in the Island. This mystification is both dishonest and useless, for, not only did several thousand persons, including many bhikkus, see and hear her taking the pânsil, but she herself boldly proclaimed it in all quarters. But to be a regular Buddhist is one thing, and to be a debased modern Buddhist sectarian quite another. Speaking for her as well as for myself, I can say that if Buddhism contained a single dogma that we were compelled to accept, we would not have taken the pânsil nor remained Buddhists ten minutes. Our Buddhism was that of the Master-Adept Gautama Buddha, which was identically the Wisdom Religion
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of the Aryan Upanishads, and the soul of all the ancient world-faiths. Our Buddhism was, in a word, a philosophy, not a creed.
We lunched with a Buddhist gentleman in town, and in the evening took into membership the first eleven candidates, and with them formed the Galle Theosophical Society. President, S. P. DB. de Silva; Secretary, P. C. Wijeratne. The first Rs. 100 towards a Buddhist Publication Fund was given me that day and at once passed over to the Branch Treasurer. At 9 we sat down to dinner, and at 1 a.m. were but too glad to go to bed after a hard day's work.
The next morning we began our journey northward in carriages supplied by the fishermen of Galle, a large, poor, but hard-working caste. From this class St. Francis Xavier, the “Apostle of the Indies,” recruited the greater number of his converts. Their calling, involving the taking of life, is abhorred among Buddhists, and their social status ranks very low. Yet it seems that their hearts warmed towards us as much as those of their more respectable co-religionists, and, while they shrank from approaching us themselves, in the midst of the high-caste crowd that hemmed us in, they sent me an "humble petition" that I would be graciously pleased to let my "humble petitioners," etc., etc., supply our party with carriages to Colombo. Their spokesman was an English educated young man of, I believe, another caste. The sincerity of the poor people touched me, and I sent them a message that I wished to see them, or a Committee of their elders, to thank them personally for their kind offer. Accordingly I met a
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deputation, and, wishing to decline putting them to any expense, was met with such an instant protest and appeal that it ended in my accepting their offer with thanks.
Almost the entire Buddhist population of Galle massed together to see us leave town, and rent the air with friendly shouts. Our first stage was to Dodânduwa, five miles, the seat of the grand Vihâra and pânsala of our friend Piyaratana Tissa Terunnanse, a monk of erudition, energy, and high character. At every favorable point along the road crowds had gathered to look at us, we were invited to stop and refresh ourselves with cocoanuts, milk, tea and cakes, and at several points, so large was the concourse, I had to get out of the carriage and make addresses. At Dodânduwa we were greeted with such a downpour of monsoon rain as had not been seen in years. During a lull we were conducted to an immense shed that Piyaratana had had erected, and I gave the expected address to 2,000 people. After that we visited his temple, which we found scrupulously tidy and well kept—an unusual circumstance in the Island. We saw a huge standing image of the Buddha, more than a century old. We passed the night in a bungalow provided for us by Mr. Weerisooriya and friends.
On again the next morning, in the two stage-coaches supplied by our friends, the Galle fishermen. I had to make four speeches this day—the first from the steps of the coach, before starting; the second from the steps of the bungalow at Ambalangoda; the third at Piyâgale, where we breakfasted at 3 p.m. (!) and were so besieged that we could scarcely breathe; the
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fourth at the temple at Piyâgale, where an audience of 3,000 to 4,000 had collected. We were taken there in a fine rain, in procession, with banners, and tom-toms making a hideous racket; each beater trying to outvie the others and working the crowd up into a sort of frenzy of jubilation. The temple is situated on "top of a steep, rocky hill, up which we were helped or, rather, dragged; giving poor H. P. B. agony with her lame leg, which had never fully recovered from the blow she got on board the "Speke Hall" in the storm, when she was pitched against the corner of the dining-table. The drizzling rain blurred my glasses so that I could not properly see where I was walking and, to make things worse, my pince-nez dropped from my nose and smashed on the rock over which I was passing; thus leaving me, with my myopia, in an uncomfortable plight. The gathered monks presented us an address through their Mahâ Terunnanse, to which, of course, I replied at some length. Continuing on, we at last reached Kalutara at 9 p.m., but our troubles were not yet ended, as there was another bevy of monks to encounter, another address to listen to, and briefly answer, and then, after a needed meal, to bed, worn out. We were amused by an incident which happened en route, after dark. A man came rushing out of a wayside house with a bright light in his hand, stopped our coaches, and excitedly asked for each of us in turn. We thought he had something of importance to communicate, perhaps the octroi, perhaps even to warn us against a plot of the Christian party to do us injury.l But he
1 That came later: they tried to murder me once.
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said nothing except to repeat each of our names with a sigh of satisfaction, and then turned away. Our interpreter called after him to know what it was all about. "Oh, nothing," said he, "I only wanted to look at them."
There was no time for lying abed on this tour, so the next morning we were up at dawn when the birds began to greet each other in the palm groves, and we men had a surf bath. Under very disadvantageous circumstances, truly, with a sharp coral bottom to stand upon that was like standing on a floor covered with inverted carpet tacks, the certainty of sharks, and the presence of a critical audience, watching us as though they were a class in Delsarte or calisthenics! Still it was a bath, and that means much in the Tropics. We made a charming acquaintance to-day—a graduate of Christ College, Cambridge; one of the most intellectual and polished men we have met in Asia. Mr. Arunâchalam is a nephew of the late Sir M. Coomâraswamy, the well-known Orientalist, and at the time of our visit was Police Magistrate of Kalutara. His eldest brother is the Hon. P. Râmanathan, who is a warm friend of mine, and the official representative in the Legislative Council of the Tamil community. We breakfasted at Mr. Arunâchalam's house, and his courtesy drew out H. P. B.'s most charming traits, so that the visit was in every way a pleasant episode. As a dessert, or rather pousse-café, my colleague abused the Missionaries in her best style.
The same afternoon style of official, the we had a taste of the other Government Agent—a most
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satrapy grade of public servant—having forbidden the use of any public building, even the verandah or steps of the school-house, for my lecture. The poor creature acted as though he supposed the Buddhists could be overawed into deserting their religion, or into believing Christianity a more lovable one, by excluding them from the buildings that had been erected with their tax-money and that would be lent to any preacher against Buddhism. But the fields and the sky were left us, the one for lecture-hall, the other for roof, and the meeting was held in a cocoanut grove. Some bright cloths, laid over cords stretched between trees, made our canopy and sounding-board, and a chair placed on a big table my rostrum. The audience numbered two or three thousand. It may be imagined that the occasion was improved to point out the malicious spirit which actuated the Christian party, and their dread of the Sinhalese being made to see the merits of' Buddhism.
Our gravity was sorely tried the next morning. Wimbridge, Pânachand, Ferozshah, and I were made to mount a sort of bedizened triumphal car and, under an escort of a company in comical uniform, carrying wooden guns and sticks, their dark brown faces whitened with flour or chalk (to give them a quasi-European complexion), and with much music and many banners, were taken to the village of Wehra, three miles off, for a reception ceremony. I spoke to a large audience, in a very fine preaching-house (Dharmasâla), with two rows of white columns, stained glass windows, hanging lustres, and a large preaching pulpit. In the Oriental fashion, I sat
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while speaking. After that we went to pay our respects to Waskaduwe Subhuti, Terunnanse, a monk better known among Western Orientalists than any other save Sumangala, who, of course, is the representative and embodiment of Pâli scholarship. After lunch at Mr. Arunâchalam's, we visited another famous priest, Potuwila Indajôti, Terunnanse, who enjoys a great renown as a Vederâle, or native Physician. He is sent for from all the Buddhist parts of the Island, and has made numberless cures. We found his conversation very interesting, his views as to the survival of the ego in Nirvâna being those of his late Guru, the Polhawatti priest, and opposed to those, of the Sumangala school. He applied for admission into our membership and was accepted.
At that time the railway ended at Kalutara, and we here took train for our next station, Pânadure (pronounced vulgarly Pantura), the locality where Megittuwatte debated against the Missionaries the respective merits of Buddhism and Christianity: and got the better of them, it is said. We were lodged in a new pâr sala adjoining a Vihâra, which had just been erected by a picturesque-looking old man, named Andris Perera, at his own cost. He was tall, thin, dark, had a spacious forehead, wore his hair brushed back and twisted into a long switch, which was put up like a woman's hair, with an immense and costly tortoise-shell comb; and a circular comb—a Sinhalese fashion—arched over his fine head. He wore the country dhoti, and a single-breasted, last-century coat of blue cloth, with long skirts, turnover cuffs, twenty large gold
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buttons down one side of the front and as many loops and lacings of gold lace opposite them, and the same ornamentation on the collar and cuffs. A gold-laced scarlet baldric, passed over one shoulder and under the opposite arm, supported a short sword with a gold scabbard; a huge gold medallion-plaque, as large as a dessert plate, was suspended diagonally in the contrary direction by a golden chain; a heavy and richly embossed gold girdle was buckled about him. His feet were bare and he wore leather sandals! The figure was so striking, so unlike any other we saw, that I noted the above details in my Diary. He had advanced some little distance from the house to receive us, and behind him stood his six tall, striking-looking sons and three handsome daughters. The group struck us as being very picturesque. I bethought me of Torquil of the Oak and his stalwart sons, though I cannot say that I thought the Sinhalese family would have withstood the Gow Chrom as well as the champions of the Clean Quhele. Without delay, the old “Mudaliyar” (the title of a Headman's office) led the way to a large permanent preaching-shed, and I addressed some 4,000 people. The Missionaries had been doing what little they could since our landing to try and weaken our influence with the Buddhists, so I paid my compliments to them and their questionable policy. This produced a sequel which will be mentioned later on. In truth, these Protestant Missionaries are a pestilent lot. With the Catholics we have never had a hard word.
The primeval habitat of the mosquito has never been fixed, I believe, but if it was not the Perera pansâla
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at Pânadure, assuredly that is a most congenial place for their development: they simply swarmed. The building was an oblong, comprising small bedrooms opening on a verandah which extended on all sides, and one small hall through the middle. There were no bathrooms, the place being intended for bhikkus only, who bathe outdoors. The windows were furnished only with wooden shutters, and when they were shut in the daytime, the rooms were dark. H. P. B. had one of the rooms in the south end. She wanted to bathe, and, as there was no other place, I arranged for a tub in her own room. As she would be in pitch darkness if the shutters were closed, I tied a large soft mat across the end of the shutters, left standing open, and she began her toilet. The rest of us were sitting around the corner, on the other verandah, chatting, when I heard my name shouted, and ran around to see what was the matter. At that moment three Sinhalese women were in the act of creeping out beneath the edge of the mat, and the old lady was abusing them in grand style. On hearing my voice, she said that these impertinent creatures, to gratify their curiosity, had actually crept under the mat and, when she happened to turn her head, she saw them standing close against the window still, calmly watching her ablutions. Her indignation was so tragic that, while hustling the intruders away, I could not help laughing heartily. Poor things! they meant no harm; it was simply the custom of the country to peer into everybody's business and ignore any rights of privacy. This is a specimen of what we had to undergo throughout the entire visit to Ceylon.
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At 2 p.m. I addressed another huge audience on the very spot where the famous "Pantura Controversy" had been held. After me, H. P. B. spoke, and Ferozshah (Parsi) and Pânachand (Hindu) made some remarks as representatives in our Society of their respective races; testifying to the eclectic spirit which animated us and pleading for wide religious tolerance. Megittuwatte presided and made two eloquent speeches. The next day I initiated as members Megittuwatte, Sri Weligama, the Pali, Sanskrit, and Elu scholar, and Waskaduwe Subhuti. Mr. J. R. de Silva interpreted for me; the Mudaliyar Andres Perera, his son-in law, and other laymen joined the next day, and at 4 p.m. we left by rail for Colombo; reaching the capital in a downpour of rain. We were driven to a very spacious bungalow called "Radcliffe House," in the Slave Island ward, across the pretty artificial lake. A large gathering awaited us, among them Sumangala and fifty other monks. After dinner we received a Pali address from the High Priest; then followed discussions and desultory talk, and then bed.
The besieging of us by crowds was even worse here than it had been elsewhere, we had not a free moment nor the least privacy; the papers were full of stories about us, and the Christians raged. To prepare my lecture for the next evening I had to retire to Sumangala's College, and write in the library with locked doors. The next-morning a serious conference was held between Sumangala, Subhuti, Megittuwatte, and myself at the College. I finished my lecture on "Theosophy and
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Buddhism,"1 and at 8 p.m. delivered it at our own residence, the hall of which had been converted into a lecture room with accommodation for 500 people. Besides Sinhalese notables, the European Inspector-General of Police, the Colonial Secretary, Editors of papers, etc. were present.
On 5th June, I lectured at Megittuwatte's own temple at Kotahçna, the one which is visited by most of the steamer passengers touching at the port. He and I spoke standing on a large table, placed in the middle of the preaching-hall, so as to be better heard by the throng. The hall and compound were packed with people like herrings in a barrel, and the heat was most oppressive. The place was gaily decorated with flags and colored cloths; a handsome arch of split palm leaves, worked into all sorts of pretty designs over a framing of areca palm timbers, towered outside; and on the wall above the regular pulpit was suspended a monster replica in gilt paper of our Society's seal. Ten candidates acquired membership the same evening. The next day there were two lectures. The first was at Kotta, a village six miles from town, the ancient seat of a powerful king, where there were triumphal arches, and no end of flags and greenery bordering the roads; and where Mr. Tepannis Perera gave us a fine repast on a broad, cool verandah. The other was at Widyodaya College (Sumangala's), on the subjects of "Nirvâna, Merit, and the Education of Buddhist Children". I had begun my appeals in this latter direction at Galle, and throughout the whole
1 Vide Theosophy, Religion, and Occult Science.
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tour used my best endeavors to make the people realize the risk they ran in leaving their children to be prejudiced against their ancestral religion by its professed enemies, who were in the country for no other object than this. It is a source of great satisfaction to know that the admonitions were not in vain, and that the present comprehensive and successful movement for promoting the foundation of Buddhist schools dates from this important tour.
A visit to Kelanie temple, one of the most revered shrines in the Island, where the great stûpa (brick cone) rests over genuine relics of the Buddha himself—and the inevitable lecture and multitudinous audience, occupied tile next day; and on the following one—8th June—we organized the Colombo T. S. with twenty-seven members as a beginning. I submitted to the Branch my plan for the creation of a Buddhist Section, to be composed of two subdivisions, one exclusively laymen and lay branches, and another, not itself subdivided, exclusively of priests. This was to meet the difficulty that the ordination rules of the Vinaya forbid a monk to be associated on equal terms with laymen in worldly affairs. The scheme was approved of by all and carried out in due course; Sumangala being made Chairman of the priests' association, as well as one of the Honorary Vice-Presidents of the Society.
We left for Kandy by train on the 9th, and after the run of four and a half hours through one of the most picturesque tracts of country in the world, arrived at about 7 p.m. Along with the usual crowd, a deputation of Kandyan Chiefs—whose feudal rank
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a good deal resembled in former times that of Highland Chiefs of clans—received us at the station and accompanied us to our quarters in a great procession, bright with torches and ear-splitting with tom-toms and native trumpets. Two addresses were made to us, by the Chiefs' Committee and by a society of Buddhists somehow connected with the Temple of the Sacred Tooth of Buddha, the Dalada Mâligâwa. Sumangala came, and it was arranged that I should speak at this temple the next day.
The next morning we received ceremonial visits from the Chief Priests of Asgiriya and Malwatte Temples, the ranking bhikkus of the Island, a sort of Archbishops of Canterbury. Under the Kandyan sovereigns, these officers were the royal functionaries, joint guardians of the Tooth Temple, and had precedence in all royal religious processions. Sumangala is their junior in rank, but immensely their superior in the public estimation, as in ability. We went to the temple at 2 p.m. for my lecture, but such a crowd had wedged itself inside that it was only with the greatest difficulty that I could reach my table. And even then, the rustling of restless feet upon the stone pavement created such a confused echo at the stone ceiling that I could not make one word audible. After some minutes of vain attempts to get silence, we adjourned to the fine lawn outside. Our party mounted a broad wall to the right, along with Sumangala, and, chairs being placed for him and H. P. B., I spoke from under the overhanging branches of a bread-fruit tree, which answered very well for a sounding-board. The great
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multitude stood and sat on the lawn in a huge hemispherical area, and I was able to make myself heard pretty well. The Missionaries, in anticipation of our arrival, had been spreading all sorts of calumnies against us, and on the preceding evening had been preaching bitterly against Buddhism in the streets of Kandy. Being white men, the timid Sinhalese had not dared to confront them, but brought their complaints to us. So, before going far into my discourse, I mentioned the foregoing facts, and, drawing out my watch, said I would give any Bishop, Archdeacon, Priest, or Deacon of any Church, five minutes to come forward and prove their assertions that Buddhism was a false religion; if they did not do so, the Sinhalese would be at perfect liberty to treat them and their falsehoods as they deserved. I had had five Missionaries pointed out to me in the audience, but, although I stood there, watch in hand, until the five minutes had elapsed, not a man of them lifted his voice. The Panadure sequel, above mentioned, is also connected with this episode.
A lecture at the town hall on "The Life of Buddha and Its Lessons" having been arranged for the next evening, I worked desperately to get it written under the most discouraging disadvantages. H. P. B. nearly drove me mad by calling me downstairs a dozen times, either to see people that were of no consequence to me, or to sit in a group for the pertinacious photographer. However, I managed somehow, and gave the lecture in due course to a crowd that packed the hall and its approaches. Most of the influential Government officials were present, and the applause
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was constant enough to make us think it s success. Eighteen applicants for membership were admitted that evening.
On the 12th, I met a council of Kandyan Chiefs and Chief Priests, to discuss the state of the Church, and the plans which I submitted were all adopted after much debate. At 3 p.m. I spoke again outside the Dalada Mâlîgâwa to some 5,000 people. The next day we went to Gampola on invitation of an enthusiastic Buddhist, the Mohândriam (Headman) of the place, an elderly man. The crowd at the railway station took the horses from the carriage in which H. P. B. and I rode, and, attaching ropes, dragged it to the house prepared for us; a long procession with music and banners accompanying us, and making the transit lively with their incessant shouts of joy. Returning to Kandy, we organized that evening the Kandy T. S. with seventeen members, and the day was finished up with a cold collation provided by the Galle delegates accompanying us and one of H. P. B.'s most enthusiastic admirers, Mr. S. Perera Dharmagunavardene, Aratchi (Headman) of Colombo. At 9 the next morning, the unusual honor was conferred upon us of admitting us to a special exhibition of the Buddha Tooth Relic. This is kept in a separate tower, protected by a thick door of entrance studded with iron and fastened with four great locks, of which the keys are kept under the custody of the High Priests of Asgiriya and Malwatte, the Government Agent, and the Devanilami, a special official whose office survives the downfall of the Kandyan dynasty which created it. The relic is of the size of an alligator
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tooth, is supported by a gold wire stem rising from a lotus flower of the same metal, and is much discolored by age. If genuine it would, of course, be twenty-five centuries old. When not exhibited it is wrapped in pure sheet gold, placed in a golden case, just large enough to contain it, and covered externally with emeralds, diamonds, and rubies. This again is placed in a small golden karandua, or dome, encrusted with precious stones; this in a large one of the same precious metal, similarly enriched; this in a third; this in a fourth dome of like value; finally, this one rests in a still larger one of thick silver plates, five feet four and a half inches high and nine feet ten inches in circumference. When exposed, the relic and its several sumptuous covers rest on a platform three feet six inches high, together with rock-crystal and golden statuettes of the Buddha and other precious objects; from the ceiling hang gems and jewels, among the latter a bird hanging by a golden chain, and formed entirely of diamonds, rubies, blue sapphires, emeralds, and cats'-eyes set in gold, but so thickly crowded as to conceal the metallic base. The depository is a small room in the second storey of the tower, without a window or loophole for a ray of light; the air is heavy with perfumes of flowers and spices; and by lamplight all sparkling with gems. The door-frame is of ebony inlaid with ivory, the panels of brass. In front of the platform a plain, square table stands for the deposit of gifts of value and offerings of flowers.1 Needless to say, we were
1For a full account of the relic and its marvellous history, as well as of the Temple and contents, see Dr. Gerson Da
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almost crushed by the crowd of notables who pushed in along with our party, and were glad to get out into the fresh air as speedily as possible. I believe that the relic had not been previously exposed since the visit of the Prince of Wales; so that this was regarded as the highest honor that could possibly have been shown us. On our return to our lodgings, the educated Sinhalese about us were eager to know H. P. B.'s opinion as to the genuineness of the relic, whether it is or is not a real tooth of the Buddha. This was a nice, not to say ticklish, question. Now, if we may believe the Portuguese historians Ribeiro and Rodrigues de Sá e Menezes, the real tooth, after passing through the most romantic vicissitudes, fell into the possession of the bigoted Inquisitors of Goa, who forbade the Viceroy D. Constantia de Braganca to accept a fabulously great sum—no less than 400,000 cruzados—a coin worth 2s. 9d.—offered by the King of Pegu as its ransom. They ordered it to be destroyed. So the Archbishop, in their presence and that of the high officers of State, pulverized it in a mortar, threw the powder into a lighted brazier kept ready, and then the ashes and charcoal together were scattered into the running river, in sight of a multitude "who were crowding the verandahs and windows which looked upon the water". Dr. Da Cunha—himself a Portuguese Catholic—is very sarcastic in his reflections upon this act of mean vandalism. He says:
"One can easily imagine the effect this imposing assembly of the viceroy, prelates, and the notables of
Cunha's Memoir rif the Tooth Relic of Ceylon. London, Thacker & Co., 1870.
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the old city of Goa, met for the purpose of pounding a piece of bone to dust, would have on the minds of the populace thronging the streets, the dismay of the wretched Peguan Embassy at the sight of the destruction of their saint's relic, and the grim exultation of the stern inquisitors over the dissolution of the Dalada in the sacred waters of the Gomati, and the consequent promotion of the glory of God, the honour and prestige of Christianity, and the salvation of souls. If there ever was a point where two extremes met it is this. The burning of a tooth for the glory of the Almighty was the point of contact between the sublime and the ridiculous."
I said that the Kandyan relics of about the size of an alligator's tooth, but it bears no resemblance to any tooth at all, whether animal or human. It is slightly curved, about two inches in length and nearly one in breadth at the base, and rounded at the extremity. This is accounted for by some Buddhists, by a story that in the days of the Buddha “human beings were giants, and their teeth kept pace, so to speak, with their larger stature”. Which, of course, is all nonsense; the Aryan histories giving no support to the idea. It is asserted that the present object of adoration was made out of a piece of deer's horn by King Vikrama Bahu, in 1566, to replace the original, burnt by the Portuguese in 1560. Then, again, others believe that this is really a substitute only, that the real tooth is concealed in a sure place, and that a substitute was what fell into the hands of the sacrilegious Portuguese. In fact, the legends
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about the Dalada are numberless, and I must refer the curious to Dr. Da Cunha's pamphlet, and to Sir M. Coomâraswamy's, from which it was largely compiled, to the Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society, to Tennent's work in Ceylon, and other sources. Among the poetic legends to which the Tooth Relic has given birth, is one to the effect that when the tooth was cast into a burning pit by an unbelieving Indian Emperor, "a lotus flower of the size of a chariot wheel arose above the flames, and the sacred tooth, emitting rays which ascended through the skies and illumined the universe, alighted on the top." This is supposed by some to explain the esoteric meaning of the Tibetan formula: "Om Mani Padme Rum." For further stories, see the Dhâtwarsa, an ancient Sinhalese work on the history of the Tooth. The Padre Francisco de Souza in his Oriente Conquistado repeats the popular story that "the moment the Archbishop placed the tooth in the mortar and was about to pulverize it, it made its way through the bottom and went straight to alight on a lotus flower in Kandy". Though we may not go to such length, we cannot deny that it is a comfort to the whole Sinhalese nation to regard the Tooth of Kandy as a genuine relic of the sublimest of men, and we may profit ourselves by remembering that
In Faith and Hope the world will disagree,
But all mankind's concern is charity.
Perhaps it was that reflection that prompted H. P. B.'s jovial answer to her interrogators: "Of
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course, it is his tooth: one he had when he was born as a tiger! "
After our visit to the Dalada Mâlîgâwa, we held a final meeting of the new local Branch T. S. and at 2 p.m. took train for Colombo.