My object, in writing this short treatise, has been to acquaint the public, as far as possible, with what the ancient Buddhists thought about spirits and spirit world. A study of the Preta Belief among the Southern Buddhists is likely to be attractive. Materials have been drawn for the first time from the Hmayana Buddhist literature and specially from the Paramatthadipam (The Elucidation of the Highest Meaning) on the Petauatthu (Preta Stories), that is the commentary on the Petauatthu which is one of the books of the Khuddaka Nikaya, written by Dhammapala of Kancipura (Conjevaram). I fully agree with Mrs. Rhys Davids that the foolish little poems contained in the Petauatthu are no good but the stories given in its commentary present before us a very interesting side of the Preta belief. I am glad to find that the Petauatthu has been translated into German by Dr. Stede, but its commentary has not yet been translated into any modern language.
Professor Nilmani Chakravartty, M.A., has contributed a paper on "Spirit belief in the Jataka Stories" (JASB., x, New Series No.7 257-263) in which an attempt has been made to give a brief account of spirit belief, as far as it can be gathered from the Jataka stories. The materials for his subject have been collected from the Jatakas only save and except a very few which are noticed in my treatise.
I am indebted to Rao Saheb Dr. S. Krishnaswami Aiyanagar, M.A., Ph.D., of the University of Madras, for his foreword.
BIMALA CHURN LAW.
About the Book:
Written in the early 1920's 'The Buddhist Conception of Spirits' is an in depth discussion of the Buddhist beliefs regarding the sprit world.
Drawing conclusions from various Hinayana texts B. C. Law had delved deeply into the subject of 'Preta' (Ghosts/Sprits) as viewed by the Buddhist world. Not only does it discuss the beliefs but also relates a number of stories relating to the 'Preta Lok' (Ghost/Sprit world).
It is an aspect of Buddhism not often discussed, but an area that is very much alive to the peoples of the sub continent. B.C. Law has also taken into consideration the Hindu stand on this subject and relates to the similarities and differences in the two schools of thought.
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