Preface to the Revised Version
Between the years 1956-1969 Bhaddanta Vicittasārābhivaṁsa, otherwise known as Mingun Sayādaw, who had been the Chief Respondent answering the questions on both discipline and doctrine at the 6th Buddhist Council held in Yangon, compiled his Great Chronicles of the Buddhas (Mahā-buddha-vaṁsa) in the Myanmar language. This was written in the great tradition of pyo, or religious works, of the Middle Ages, but at much greater length, and in prose, not verse as in pyo.
The original translation was made by three different translators: T. U Ko Lay, U Tin Lwin and U Tin Oo and is a big contribution which helped make this work available in English. However, their English was of variable standard, and their terminology sometimes differed from each other.
Changes made in this edition, mainly affect three areas: language, presentation and format. In this edition I have corrected the English and tried to haromonize the terminology. Nearly every sentence has had to be corrected for spelling or grammar; the use of diacritics was fairly haphazard – sometimes using them, sometimes not – and most times the spelling of Pāḷi words has had to be corrected.
I have occasionally divided long chapters into two: a & b, or more, to better bring out the various contents of the chapters; headings have many times been changed, omitted or added for consistency; and presentation has been simplified and made more consistent.
I have also rearranged some material, this especially applies to the early and later chapters, so that Chapter VI, originally entiled Reflections on Perfections (sic), Chapter VII, On Miscellany and Chapter VIII Eighteen Abhabbaṭṭhānas, have all been moved to the Further Explanations, as has the Supplement that would have been Chapter X. This is so the story is more cohesive, and the treatises and supplements are treated separately.
References have been changed into the normal citation style in English works, and is usually done with a translation of the title; so that, for instance, the “Third Sutta, 4. Mahā-vagga, Navaka Nipāta of the Collection of the Numerical Discourses (Aṅguttara-nikāya),” becomes “The Discourse on the Happiness of Nibbāna (Nibbāna-sukha-sutta, AN 9.34).” Also, in many cases, references that were omitted in the original have been added in, and I have given, where appropriate, the PTS page number. Unfortunately, however, the references in the original were sometimes too vague to be tracked down (i.e. simply given as: “Visuddhi-magga-mahā-ṭīkā,” which is a huge work), and I have only updated the title to “sub-commentary to the Path of Purification (Visuddhi-magga).” Dates and months which were given in an obscure Myanmar style of dating have been converted to CE/BCE, and month names have been given in English with Pāḷi equivalents.
Long notes that break up the story seem sometimes to have been written by the author, and sometimes by the translators (there is no guidance given on these matters). I have usually brought them into the body of the text, though they are then distinguished from other parts of the text by being indented and set in a smaller font size, so they can be skipped if the reader wishes to avoid what are often technical details, and can continue with the story; short notes, which were placed in brackets, perhaps again by the translators, have most times been included directly into the body of the text, without marker, as they are essential for a proper understanding of the text. They have also sometimes been changed to footnotes where appropriate. Notes in square brackets have been added in by the present editor.
The Anudīpanī, retitled here to Further Explanations, which was a long appendix of 400+ pages, has now been re-edited to bring together material that was sometimes disperate, and I have moved much more material from the main text to this appendix, where it is better suited, so that it is now well over 500 pages long. All such changes have been noted in the text.
Many times the paragraphs were full of Pāḷi words, with no translation, so that the uninitiated would not know what is being said. Here I have prioritized the English translation, and mainly put the Pāḷi in brackets, and sometimes only at the first instance within the section. I have also added the Pāḷi when it was felt it would help in clarifying the translation
Schedule of Publication
A synopsis of the Great Chronicles of the Buddhas, and proposed schedule of publication of the revised version:
1. The Bodhisatta and his relationships with 24 Buddhas, the conception of the Bodhisatta and becoming a Buddha.
2. From the 1st to the 20th Rains Retreat, the first period after Awakening (Paṭhama-sambodhi).
3. From the 20th Rains Retreat to the Parinibbāna, including the relics and the shrines.
4. A chapter on the Dhamma and stories of the 80 foremost monastics; and also the lives of Piṅgiya, and four rich men.
5. Further Explanations, including Miscellaneous Topics and the First and Second Treatises on the Perfections.
last updated: August 2023