To be sure he used the method afterwards adopted by Socrates, and now known as the Socratic method, of appealing to the unquestioned belief of the Brahmans themselves as the foundation of his argument in support of that fundamental truth of all religions, that the pure in heart alone can see God. But to suppose that he was using arguments to convince them that he did not believe himself, is a libel on one whose absolute truthfulness and sincerity admit of no question.
"He prayeth best who loveth best
Both man and bird and beast.”
—Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Whether the Tartars were “the savage tribes” to whom Purna, one of the sixty, was sent, may admit of question, but it is certain that long before the Christian era the whole country north of the Himalayas was thoroughly Buddhist, and the unwearied missionaries of that great faith had penetrated so far west that they met Alexander’s army and boldly told him that war was wrong; and they had penetrated east to the confines of China.
The large gatherings of the Buddhist brotherhoods everywhere spoken of in the writings can only be accounted for on the supposition, which is more than a supposition, that they came to him in the rainy season, when they could do but little in their missions; and the substantial unity of the Buddhist faith can only be accounted for on the supposition that his instructions were constantly renewed at these gatherings and their errors corrected.
Northward the noble Purna took his way
Till India’s fields and plains were lost to view,
Then through the rugged foot-hills upward climbed,
And up a gorge by rocky ramparts walled,
Through which a mighty torrent thundered down,
Their treacherous way along the torrent’s brink,
Or up the giddy cliffs where one false step
Would plunge them headlong in the raging stream,
Passing from cliff to cliff, their bridge of ropes
Swung high above the dashing, roaring waves.
At length they cross the frozen mountain-pass,
O’er wastes of snow by furious tempests swept,
And cross a desert where no bird or beast
Is ever seen, and where their way is marked
By bleaching bones strewn thick along their track.
Some perished by the way, and some turned
While some of his companions persevered,
Cheered on by Purna’s never-flagging zeal,
And by the master’s words from Purna’s lips,
Until they reached the outmost wandering tribes
Of that great race that he had come to save.
With joy received, these wandering tribes their guides—
For love makes friends where selfishness breeds strife—
They soon are led to where their kindred dwell.
They saw the vanity of chasing wealth
Through hunger, danger, desolation, death.
They felt a power sustaining Purna’s