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The Buddhist Catechism, by Henry S. Olcott [1908], at

p. xi


to the

Thirty-Sixth Edition.

The popularity of this little work seems undiminished, edition after edition being called for. While the present one was in the press a second German edition, re-translated by the learned Dr. Erich Bischoff, was published at Leipzig by the Griebens Co., and a third translation into French, by my old friend and colleague, Commandant D. A. Courmes, was being got ready at Paris. A fresh version in Sinhalese is also preparing at Colombo. It is very gratifying to a declared Buddhist like myself to read what so ripe a scholar as Mr. G. R. S. Mead, author of Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, Pistis Sophia, and many other works on Christian origins, thinks of the value of the compilation. He writes in the Theosophical Review: "It has been translated into no less than twenty different languages, and may be said without the faintest risk of contradiction, to have been the busiest instrument of Buddhist propaganda for many a day in the annals of that long somnolent dharma. The least the

p. xii

learned Buddhists of Ceylon can do to repay the debt of gratitude they owe to Colonel Olcott and other members of the Theosophical Society who have worked for them, is to bestir themselves to throw some light on their own origins and doctrines."

I am afraid we shall have to wait long for this help to come from the Buddhist bhikkhus, almost the only learned men of Ceylon; at least I have not been able, during an intimate intercourse of twenty-two years, to arouse their zeal. It has always seemed to me incongruous that an American, making no claims at all to scholarship, should be looked to by the Sinhalese nation to help them teach the dharma to their children, and as I believe I have said in an earlier edition, I only consented to write the Buddhist Catechism after I had found that no bhikkhu would undertake it. Whatever its demerits, I can at least say that the work contains the essence of some 15,000 pages of Buddhist teaching that I have read in connection with my work.

H. S. O.

Adyar, 7th February, 1903.

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