The Buddha-carita continuation by AMṚTĀNANDA

Translated by E. B. Cowell

BOOK XVII [The Progress to Lumbinī]


1. When the heavenly beings with Brahman at their head and the Bodhisattvas intent on self-mortification heard this glorification of the Law uttered by the lion of the Śākyas, they were desirous to hear again this which is so difficult to find, and they went to the city and worshipped him, propitiating his favour; in the dark fortnight of the month Aṣaḍha on the lunar day sacred to Agni, with the moon in the constellation called Karṇa (?) and on an auspicious day, — he, remembering the Buddha worlds and being desirous to save all creatures, set off on his journey, longing for disciples with his father at their head.

2. The associated Brāhmans, accompanied by the inhabitants of Kāśī who had gone to the Deer Park, and the mendicants to the number of thirty, were rendered resplendent by the chief of saints; Kāśikā the harlot of Kāśī went to the heaven of the gods, after she had worshipped the Jina and attached her sons to the service of the glorious one; the conqueror of the world then made thirty rejoicing officiating priests of Kāśī his disciples, initiating them in the course of perfect wisdom; and the son of Maitrāyaṇī and Maitra, the preceptor of hosts of the twice-born, named Pūrṇa, obtained true wisdom from the chief of saints and became a noble mendicant.

3. The priest of the lord of the city Marakata, a Brāhman named Ajaya, and his son Nālaka, well versed in sacred learning and full of answers to questions, and an ascetic named Dhṛti, dwelling in the Vindhya, and an invincible Brahman ascetic Sañjayin with his disciples, — these all, dwellers in the Vindhya, — when they came to him for refuge, the chief of saints initiated as mendicants, touching them with his hand bearing the mark of a wheel; moreover the Nāga Elapatra came to the abode of the best of saints, and stood resplendent there, perfectly calm in his demeanour and worshipping him with his rosaries.

4. There was also a female ascetic of Mathurā named Trikavyaṅgikā, and a Brāhman named Vidyākara, — their son was named Sabhya, a dweller in the district called Śvetabālārka, a wise ascetic, proud of his wisdom, — he went into the Deer Park, wearing the aspect of one perfectly illumined, and desiring the highest wisdom from the chief of mendicants; seeking from the omniscient admission to the noble life, he became renowned as the mendicant Sabhya in all assemblies.

5. The son of Lalitāprabudhā, born after worship paid to the best of trees on the bank of the stream Varaṇā, — renowned in the world as Yaśoda, — wise from the besprinkling of the ambrosia of the words of the king of heaven, — remembering all former discourses which he had heard, came with his friends to the wood in the Deer Park, accompanied by his glory; and the holy one, touching his head with his hand, made him the guru of the chief Bhikṣus.

6. The glorious one, named the great Buddha, proceeded with the mendicants in an auspicious company, and having manifested his triumphal march for the salvation of the world, entered the city of Kāśī. A poor Brāhman, named Svastika, a native of Vārāṇasī, obtained riches from heaven through the favour of the glorious one, and having received adoption as a slave in the Jina faith, became a mendicant and an Arhat at the hands of the great teacher.

7. Blessing the king of Kāśī Divodāsa and the citizens with gold, corn, and other riches, — taking up his abode in different places in forests, caves, mountains, he at last came in his rambles to the river Jāhnavī. The boatman who conveyed the Jina across the Ganges worshipped him and offered him milk with due services of reverence, and became a mendicant through his favour and by the Jina's command found a dwelling in the Buddha's hermitage in the grove.

8. The glorious one, after he had crossed the Ganges, went to the hermitage of Kāśyapa at Gaya, called Uruvilva; there, having shown his supernatural power, he received as Bhikṣus the Kāśyapas, Uruvilva, and others, with more than a thousand of their disciples, having endued them forthwith with all kinds of spiritual knowledge and with the power to abandon all worldly action; then accompanied by three hundred disciples Upasena at the command of his maternal uncle became an ascetic.

9. The glorious one made seven hundred ascetics enter Nirvāṇa who dwelt in the wood Dharma; and the lord of the Law also caused the daughters of Nandika, Sujātā and others, who dwelt in the village, to become the first female ascetics; and in the city of Rājageha, having enlightened in right action and in activity the king Bimbisāra, the monarch, who is to be considered as the elderborn in perfect knowledge, he made him who was the devoted follower of the Buddha, a Bodhisattva and a Sakṛdāgāmin.

10. In another village named Nāradya there was a Brāhman Dharmapālin and a Brāhman woman named Śālyā their seventh son named Upatiṣya, who had studied the entire Veda, became a Buddhist mendicant; so too there was a great pandit, a Brāhman named Dhānyāyana, who dwelt in the village Kolata, and his son; — him and the son of Śālī named Maudgalya the great saint received as the best of Bhikṣus, pre-eminent disciples.

11. Next he ordained as a mendicant the keen-witted maternal uncle of Śāliputra, Dīrghānakha by name; then travelling in the realm of Magadha, the glorious one, being honoured by the inhabitants with alms and other signs of devotion, and delivering them from evil, dwelt in the convent given by the seer Jeta, attracting to himself many of the monks; and after ordaining as a mendicant a native of Mithilā, named Ānanda, with his companions, he dwelt there a year.

12. The Brahman named Kāśyapa, a very Kuvera for wealth, and a master in all the sciences connected with the Veda, an inhabitant of Rājageha, being pure-minded and wearing only one garment, left all his kindred and came seeking wisdom in asceticism; — when this noble youth came to the Bodhi tree and practised for six years a penance hard to carry out, then he paid worship to the chief of saints who had attained perfect knowledge, and he became the well known Kāśyapa, the chief of ascetics, the foremost of the Arhats.

13. The saint Naradatta, dwelling on Mount Himavat, remembering the wholesome words of his maternal uncle, came to the Sugata with his disciples, and the holy one admitted them all into the order of the Jina; then a woman named Śakti, and another named Kamalā, pre-eminent in Brāhmanical power, came to the Sugata and fell down at his feet, and then standing before him they were received by the saint, and made happy with the staff and begging-bowl.

14. Seven hundred disciples of the ascetic Rudraka, remembering the noble words of their teacher, becoming mendicants according to the doctrine of the Jina, flocked round him paying him their homage and carrying their staves; next a seer, named Raivata, joyfully uttering his praises, having finished his course of discipline, became a mendicant, full of devotion to the guru, counting gold and clay as the same, well versed in sacred spells and meditation, and able to counteract the three kinds of poisons and other fatal harms.

15. Having received as followers and disciples certain householders of Śrāvastī, Pūrṇa and others, and given them alms-vessels, — and having made many poor wretches as rich as Kuvera, and maimed persons with all their limbs perfect, and paupers and orphans affluent, — and having proclaimed the Law, and dwelt two years in the forest Jetaka delivering the suppliants, the glorious one, having taught again the saint Jeta, and established the Bhikṣu Pūrṇa, once more proceeded on his way.

16. Then the glorious one went on, protecting the merchant-caravans by the stores of his own treasures from the troops of robbers, next he went into the neighbourhood of Rājageha wandering with his begging-vessel which had been given by the merchants. In the wood called Veṇu, filled with Śāl trees, he ate an offering of food prepared by the enriched robbers, and he received as mendicants five hundred of them and gave them their begging-vessels and the other requisites.

17. At the invitation of Buddha's son, Śuddhodana gave this message to his envoys Chaṁdaka and Udāyin, ‘Thy father and mother, some noble ladies, headed by Yaśodṛh, and this my young son have come in the hope of seeing thee, under the idea that thou art devoted to the world's salvation; what shall I tell them?’ They two went, and reverentially saluting the Buddha in the vihara called Veṇu, they told him the message with their eyes filled with tears.

18. Chaṁdaka and Udāyin accepted his counsel, and, being delighted at the mighty power of Buddha, became great ascetics; and the great Jina took them with him and proceeded from that wood with the disciples, the mendicants, and the saints. Going on from place to place, and dwelling in each for a while and conferring deliverance and confirming the disciples, the mendicants, and the Arhats, he at last reached the wood Nigrodha, illuminating the district by his glory, shaking the earth and putting an end to misery.

19. He again stirred up his followers in the doctrine of the Buddha, and then went on with the crowds of inhabitants gathered round him, instructing his shaven mendicant-followers, as they begged alms, while the gods brought his precepts to their minds. He forbade the mendicants to enter the city and went to Rājageha himself with his own followers; and then the king who dwells apart from all doubt, the Jina, who knows at once all the history of every Bhikṣu, instructed the ascetic (Udāyin) in proclaiming wisdom to others.

20. In accordance with the Jina's command that prince of ascetics, Udāyin, went to the city of Kapila; there he, the lord of all possessors of supernatural powers, instructed the king as he stood in the assembly in the boon of the eight hundred powers; and coming down from heaven he uttered to the king and his court a discourse on the four sublime truths, and the king, with his mind enlightened, having worshipped him, held intercourse with him, attended by his courtiers, offering every form of homage.

21. The monarch, rejoiced at the sight of the Jina, praised his feet, worshipping them with eight hundred presents; and the Sugata departed, and made manifest in the sky in his one person a form comprehending the universe; first as fire, then ambrosia, then the king of beasts, an elephant, the king of horses, the king of peacocks, the king of birds, Maghavan, the ten rulers of the world headed by Yama, the sun, the moon, the hosts of stars, Brahman, Viṣṇu, and Śiva.

22. The sons of Diti, the four (Mahārājas) with Dhṛtarāṣṭra at their head, the hosts of Yogins with the king Drumasiddha, the (heavenly) ascetics, the Vasus, the Manus; the sons of the forest, the creatures of the waters headed by the makara, the birds headed by Garuḍa, and all the kings in the different worlds with the lord of the Tuṣita heaven at their head, and those in the world of the dead the domain of Bali, — whatever is conspicuous in the universe the holy one created it all, becoming the universal one.

23. When the king had thus been instructed, the lord of saints went to the Satya heaven, and then from the sky, seated on his own throne, he proclaimed the twelvefold Law; then he restored Gautamī and Anugopā and many other women to sight, and filled all the assembled people with joy; and established others in Nirvāṇa and in the Law. Then Śuddhodana full of joy invited him to a feast given to the whole assembly, and he accepted it by his silence.

24. The lion of the Śākyas, having been thus invited, went with the congregation of his followers to the place, after having shown a mighty miracle. Then the earth shook, a shower of flowers fell, the various quarters of space became illumined and a wind blew; and the heavenly beings, Brahman, Śiva, Viṣṇu, Indra, Yama, Varuṇa, Kuvera, the lord of Bhūtas, the lord of the winds, Nirṛti, Fire with his seven flames, and the rest, stood resting their feet on the serpent Śeṣa, and followed leading the gods and gandharvas in their dance in the sky.

25. Making millions of ascetics, disciples, Arhats, sages, mendicants, and fasters, — and delivering from their ills the blind, the humpbacked, the lame, the insane, the maimed as well as the destitute, — and having established many persons of the fourth caste in the true activity and inaction and in the three yānas, with the four saṅgrahas and the eight aṅgas, — going on from place to place, delivering, and confirming the Bhikṣus, in the twelfth year he went to his own city.

26. Day by day confirming the Bhikṣus, and providing food for the congregation, in an auspicious moment he made a journey to Lumbinī with the Bhikṣus and the citizens, Brahman and Rudra being at their head, with great triumph and noise of musical instruments. There he saw the holy fig-tree and he stood by it remembering his birth, with a smile; and rays of light streamed from his mouth and went forth illumining the earth; and he uttered a discourse to the goddess of the wood, giving her the serenity of faith.

27. Having come to the Lumbinī fig-tree he spoke to Paurvikā the daughter of Rāhula, and Gopikā the daughter of Maitra, and his own Saudhanī Kauśikā and he uttered an affectionate discourse honouring his mother by the tank Vasatya; then speaking with Ekasāṅgi the daughter of Mahākautuka and Sautasomī in the wood Nigrodha, he received into the community some members of his own family, headed by Sundarānanda, and one hundred and seven citizens.

28. Having declared the glory of the Law of Buddha, he built a round Stupa and gave a royal coronation to Saunu, sending him into the wood pre-eminent with the holiest saints and Caityas, and bidding him worship the sacred relics; and having commanded Rāhula, Gautamī, and the other women led by Gopikā, with staves in their hands, as shaven ascetics, to practise the vow of fasting called ahoratra, and after that the Lakṣacaitya ceremony and then the rite called Sṛṅgabheri, and that called Vasundhārikā.

29. The Aṣṭasāhasrikā of sacred authority, the Geya and the Gāthā, the Nidāna and the Avadāna, and that which is called the Sūtra of the great Yāna, the Vyākara and the Ityukta, the Jātaka, the work called Vaipulya, the Adbhuta and the Upadeśa, and also the Udānaka as the twelfth. — Teaching (these sacred texts) and making current the Yāna for common disciples, that for Pratyeka Buddhas, and the Mahāyāna, and proclaiming them all around, accompanied by thirteen and a half bodies of mendicants, the conqueror of the world went out of the city of Kapila.

30. After displaying miracles in the city of Kapila, and having paid honour to his father, and having made Rāhula and his companions Arhats, and also the Bhikṣuṇis with Gautamī and Gopikā at their head, and various women of all the four castes; and having established Saunu on his imperial throne, and the people in the Jina doctrine, and having abolished poverty and darkness, and then remembering his mother, he set forth, ever worshipping Svayambhū, towards the northern region with Brahman, Viṣṇu, and Śiva as mendicants in his train.

31. The glory of the Avadāna of the birth of the lion of the Śākyas has thus been described by me at length and yet very concisely; it must be corrected by paṇḍits wherever anything is omitted, — my childish speech is not to be laughed at, but to be listened to with pleasure.

Whatever virtue may have acquired from describing the king of the Law, the deliverer from mundane existence, who assumes all forms, — may it become a store of merit for the production of right activity and inactivity in others, and for the diffusion of delight among the six orders of beings.

Thus ends the seventeenth sarga, called the Progress to Lumbinī, in the great poem made by Aśvaghoṣa, the Buddha-carita.