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But it is therefore the more fortunate that the course of the inquiry will lead to some highly interesting and instructive results. Now in many instances this resemblance is simply due to the fact that the Western stories were borrowed from the Buddhist ones. To this resemblance much of the interest excited by the Buddhist Birth Stories is, very naturally, due.
As, therefore, the stories translated in the body of this volume do not happen to contain among them any of those most generally known in England, I insert here one or two specimens which may at the same time afford some amusement, and also enable the reader to judge how far the alleged resemblances do actually exist. It is absolutely essential for the correctness of such judgment that the stories should be presented exactly as they stand in the original. I am aware that a close and literal translation involves the disadvantage of pre iv senting the stories in a style which will probably seem strange, and even wooden, to the modern reader.
But it cannot be admitted that, for even purposes of comparison, it would be sufficient to reproduce the stories in a modern form which should aim at combining substantial accuracy with a pleasing dress. And the Book of Birth Stories has a value quite independent of the fact that many of its tales have been transplanted to the West.
It contains a record of the every-day life, and every-day thought, of the people among whom the tales were told: it is the oldest, most complete, and most important Collection of Folk-lore extant. The whole value of its evidence in this respect would be lost, if a translator, by slight additions in some places, slight omissions in others, and slight modifications here and there, should run the risk of conveying erroneous impressions of early Buddhist beliefs, and habits, and modes of thought.
It is important, therefore, that the reader should understand, before reading the stories I intend to give, that while translating sentence by sentence, rather than word by word, I have never lost sight of the importance of retaining in the English version, as far as possible, not only the phraseology, but the style and spirit of the Buddhist story-teller. At that time a hawker used to go from place to place, trafficking in goods carried by an ass. And when the watchmen in the fields saw the ass, they dared not go near him, taking him for a lion.
The watchmen in the field dared not go up to him; but going home, they published the news. Then all the villagers came out with weapons in their hands; and blowing chanks, and beating drums, they went near the field and shouted. Terrified with the fear of death, the ass uttered a cry—the cry of an ass! Then the hawker came; and seeing the ass fallen into so bad a plight, pronounced the Second Stanza:.
This will be found to be the case in all the Birth Stories, save that the number of the stanzas differs, and that they are usually all spoken by the Bodisat. Both these points will be of importance further on. The introduction of the human element takes this story, perhaps, out of the class of fables in the most exact sense of that word. I therefore add a story containing a fable proper, where animals speak and act like men. Now this king was very talkative: while he was speaking, others had no opportunity for a word. And the future Buddha, wanting to cure this talkativeness of his, was constantly seeking for some means of doing so.
And one day, when they had become very intimate with him, they said to the tortoise—. Will you come there with us? And making the tortoise bite hold of a stick, they themselves took the two ends in their teeth, and flew up into the air. This tortoise must have made friends with the wild ducks; and they must have made him bite hold of the stick, and have flown up into the air to take him to the hills.
But he, being unable to hold his tongue when he hears any one else talk, must have wanted to say something, and let go the stick; and so must have fallen down from the sky, and thus lost his life. Another fable, very familiar to modern readers, is stated in the commentary to have been first related in ridicule of a kind of Mutual Admiration Society existing among the opponents of the Buddha.
Now a crow was sitting there one day on the branch of a Jambu-tree, eating the Jambu-fruits, when a jackal coming by, looked up and saw him. But when the god who dwelt in that tree saw the two of them, now they had done flattering one another, eating the Jambus together, he uttered a third verse:. It is easy to understand, that when this story had been carried out of those countries where the crow and the jackal are the common scavengers, it would lose its point; and it may very well, therefore, have been shortened into the fable of the Fox and the Crow and the piece of cheese.
On the other hand, the latter is so complete and excellent a story, that it would scarcely have been expanded, if it had been the original, into the tale of the Jackal and the Crow. The next tale to be quoted is one showing how a wise man solves a difficulty. I am sorry that Mr. And having first bathed the child, she put on her upper garment and descended into the water to bathe herself. And taking the form of a woman, she drew near, and asked the mother—.
And when she was told it was, she asked if she might nurse it. And this being allowed, she nursed it a little, and then carried it off. It is mine! He heard the noise, sent for them, inquired into the matter, and asked them whether they would abide by his xv decision. And they agreed. But as soon as they pulled at him, the mother, seeing how he suffered, grieved as if her heart would break. And letting him go, she stood there weeping. O Great Physician! The Hebrew story, in which a similar judgment is ascribed to Solomon, occurs in the Book of Kings, which is more than a century older than the time of Gotama.
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We shall consider below what may be the connexion between the two. The next specimen is a tale about lifeless things endowed with miraculous powers; perhaps the oldest tale in the world of that kind which has been yet published. It is an episode in. The eldest of them died, and was reborn as the god Sakka. Now the elephants had made a track for themselves close to his hut.
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And Sakka went away. But thenceforward the hatchet made fire for the eldest hermit; when the second struck one side of his drum, the elephants ran away; and the third enjoyed his curds. Now at that time a wild boar, straying in a forsaken village, saw a gem of magical power. When he seized this in his mouth, he rose by its magic into the air, and went to an island in the midst of the ocean.
And one day, placing the gem before him, he fell asleep at the foot of the tree. And the ship was wrecked; but by the help of a plank he reached that very island. And while he was looking about for fruits, he saw the boar asleep; and going softly up, he took hold of the gem. Then by its magical power he straightway rose right up into the air! So he broke a twig off the tree, and dropped it on his head. The boar woke up, and not seeing the gem, ran about, trembling, this way and that way. The man seated on the tree laughed. The boar, looking up, saw him, and dashing his head against the tree, died on the spot.
But the man descended, cooked his flesh, ate it, and rose into the air. Then he put the hatchet in a secret place, and went to the second hermit, and stayed there a few days. And having thus become aware of the magic power of the drum, he exchanged the gem for the drum; and cut off his head too in the same way as before.
Then he went to the third hermit, and saw the magic power of the milk-bowl; and exchanging the gem for it, caused his head to be cut off in the same manner. And taking the Gem, and the Hatchet, and the Drum, and the Milk-bowl, he flew away up into the air. But the man beat one side of his drum, and a fourfold army stood around him! The story goes on to relate how the king planted a wonderful mango, how the sweetness of its fruit turned to sourness through the too-close proximity of bitter xxi herbs,! But it is the portion above translated which deserves notice as the most ancient example known of those tales in which inanimate objects are endowed with magical powers; and in which the Seven League Boots, or the Wishing Cup, or the Vanishing Hat, or the Wonderful Lamp, render their fortunate possessors happy and glorious.
There is a very tragical story of a Wishing Cup in the Buddhist Collection, 25 where the Wishing Cup, however, is turned into ridicule. It is not unpleasant to find that beliefs akin to, and perhaps the result of, fetish-worship, had faded away, among Buddhist story-tellers, into sources of innocent amusement. In this curious tale the Hatchet, the Drum, and the Milk-bowl are endowed with qualities much more fit for the use they were put to in the latter part of the story, than to satisfy the wants of the hermits.
It is common ground with satirists how little, save sorrow, men would gain if they could have anything they chose to ask for. But, unlike the others we have quoted, the tale in its present shape has a flavour distinctively Buddhist in the irreverent way in which it treats the great god Sakka, the Jupiter of the pre-Buddhistic Hindus.
And when the day came for choosing a name, they called him Prince Brahma-datta. And after his father died he ascended the throne, and ruled the kingdom with righteousness and equity. He gave judgments without partiality, hatred, ignorance, or fear. Lawsuits being thus decided with justice, there were none who brought false cases. Though the judges sat all day in xxiii the court, they had to leave without any one coming for justice. It came to this, that the Hall of Justice would have to be closed!
It behoves me, therefore, now to examine into my own faults; and if I find that anything is wrong in me, to put that away, and practise only virtue. Thenceforth he sought for some one to tell him his faults; but among those around him he found no one who would tell him of any fault, but heard only his own praise. And finding no fault-finder there, he sought among those who lived outside the city, in the suburbs, at the four gates. So he made over the kingdom to his ministers, and mounted his chariot; and taking only his charioteer, left the city in disguise.
And searching the country through, up to the very boundary, he found no fault-finder, and heard only of his own virtue; and so he turned back from the outermost boundary, and returned by the high road towards the city. Now at that time the king of Kosala, Mallika by name, xxiv was also ruling his kingdom with righteousness; and when seeking for some fault in himself, he also found no fault-finder in the palace, but only heard of his own virtue! So seeking in country places, he too came to that very spot.
And these two came face to face in a low cart-track with precipitous sides, where there was no space for a chariot to get out of the way! Take thy carriage out of the way, and make room for the chariot of our king! What is now to be done? And when he had arrived at that conclusion, he asked that charioteer what the age of the king of Kosala was.
But on inquiry he found that the ages of both were equal. Then he inquired about the extent of his kingdom, and about his army, and his wealth, and his renown, and about the country he lived in, and his caste and tribe and family. And he found that both were lords of a kingdom three hundred leagues in extent; and that in respect of army and wealth and renown, and the countries in which xxv they lived, and their caste and their tribe and their family, they were just on a par!
But pray, then, what is the kind of goodness your king has? And when he had thus spoken, both Mallika, the king xxvi and his charioteer alighted from their chariot.