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The Three Epochs
[vv. 1-11.] The Apaṇṇaka and other Births, which in times gone by were recounted on various occasions by the great illustrious Sage, and in which during a long period our Teacher and Leader, desirous of the salvation of mankind, fulfilled the vast conditions of Buddhahood, Lit. perfected the vast constituents of Buddhahood, the Pāramitās are meant. were all collected together and added to the canon of Scripture by those who made the recension of the Scriptures, and rehearsed by them under the name of THE JĀTAKA. Having bowed at the feet of the Great Sage, the lord of the world, by whom in innumerable existences Lit. in thousands of koṭis of births; a koṭi is ten millions. boundless benefits were conferred upon mankind, and having paid reverence to the Law, and ascribed honour to the Clergy, the receptacle of all honour; and having removed all dangers by the efficacy of that meritorious act of veneration and honour referring to the Three Gems, I proceed to recite a Commentary upon this Jātaka, illustrating as it does the infinite efficacy of the actions of great men – a commentary based upon the method of exposition current among the inmates of the Great Monastery. And I do so at the personal request of the elder Atthadassin, who lives apart from the world and
Inasmuch as this comment on the Jātaka, if it be expounded after setting forth the three Epochs, the distant, the middle, and proximate, will be clearly understood by those who hear it by being understood from the beginning, therefore I will expound it after setting forth the three Epochs. Accordingly from the very outset it will be well to determine the limits of these Epochs. Now the narrative of the Bodhisatta’s existence, from the time that, at the feet of Dīpaṅkara, he formed a resolution to become a Buddha to his rebirth in the Tusita heaven after leaving the Vessantara existence, is called the Distant Epoch. From his leaving the Tusita heaven to his attainment of omniscience on the throne of Knowledge, the narrative is called the Intermediate Epoch. And the Proximate Epoch is to be found in the various places in which he sojourned (during his ministry on earth). The following is:
I. The Distant Epoch
Tradition tells us that four asankheyyas An asankheyya is a period of vast duration, lit. an incalculable. and a hundred thousand cycles ago there was a city called Amaravatī. In this city there dwelt a brahmin named Sumedha, of good family on both sides, on the father’s and the
To make this matter clear the Story of Sumedha must here be related. This story, though given in full in the Buddhavaṁsa, from its being in a metrical form, is not very easy to understand. I will therefore relate it with sentences at intervals explaining the metrical construction.
Four asankheyyas and a hundred thousand cycles ago there was a city called Amaravatī or Amara, resounding with the ten city cries, concerning which it is said in Buddhavaṁsa,
12. Four asankheyyas and a hundred thousand cycles ago
A city there was called Amara, beautiful and pleasant,
Resounding with the ten cries, abounding in food and drink. Here a gloss in the text enumerates the whole ten cries.
Then follows a stanza of Buddhavaṁsa, enumerating some of these cries,
13. The trumpeting of elephants, the neighing of horses, (the sound of) drums, trumpets, and chariots,
And viands and drinks were cried, with the invitation, “Eat and drink.”
It goes on to say,
14. A city supplied with every requisite, engaged in every sort of industry,
Possessing the seven precious things, thronged with dwellers of many races;
The abode of devout men, like the prosperous city of the devas.
15. In the city of Amaravatī dwelt a brahmin named Sumedha,
Whose hoard was many tens of millions, blest with much wealth and store;
16. Studious, knowing the Mantras, versed in the three Vedas,
Master of the science of divination and of the traditions and observances of his caste.
Now one day the wise Sumedha, having retired to the splendid upper apartment of his house, seated himself cross-legged, and fell a thinking. “Oh! wise man, The Bodhisatta is frequently called paṇḍita, e.g. sasapaṇḍito (Five Jāt. 52), Rāmapaṇḍito (Dasaratha Jāt. 1). grievous is rebirth in a new existence, and the dissolution of the body in each successive place where we are reborn. I am subject to birth, to decay, to disease, to death, – it is right, being such, that I should strive to attain the great deathless Nirvāṇa, which is tranquil, and free from birth, and decay, and sickness, and grief and joy; surely there must be a road that leads to Nirvāṇa and releases man from existence.” Accordingly it is said,
17. Seated in seclusion, I then thought as follows:
Grievous is rebirth and the breaking up of the body.
18. I am subject to birth, to decay, to disease,
Therefore will I seek Nirvāṇa, free from decay and death, and secure.
19. Let me leave this perishable body, this pestilent congregation of vapours,
And depart without desires and without wants.
20. There is, there must be a road, it cannot but be:
I will seek this road, that I may obtain release from existence.
Further he reasoned thus, “For as in this world there is pleasure as the correlative of pain, so where there is existence there must be its opposite the cessation of existence; and as where there is heat there is also cold which neutralizes it, so there must be a Nirvāṇa Lit. “Extinction.” that extinguishes (the fires of) lust and the other passions; and as in opposition to a bad and evil condition there is a good and blameless one, so where there is evil Birth there must also be Nirvāṇa, called the Birthless, because it puts an end to all rebirth.” Therefore it is said,
21. As where there is suffering there is also bliss,
So where there is existence we must look for non-existence.
22. And as where there is heat there is also cold,
So where there is the threefold fire of passion extinction must be sought.
23. And as coexistent with evil there is also good,
Even so where there is birth Mr. Fausböll points out to me that in tividhaggi and jāti we have Vedic abbreviations. the cessation of birth should be sought.
Again he reasoned thus, “Just as a man who has fallen into a heap of filth, if he beholds afar off a great pond covered with lotuses of five colours, ought to seek that pond, saying, ‘By what way shall I arrive there?’ but if he does not seek it the fault is not that of the pond; even so where there is the lake of the great deathless Nirvāṇa for the washing of the defilement of sin, if it is not sought it is not the fault of the lake. And just as a man who is surrounded by robbers, if when there is a way of escape he does not fly it is not the fault of the way but of the man; even so when there is a blessed road loading to Nirvāṇa for the man who is encompassed and held fast by sin, its not being sought is not the fault of the road but of the person. And as a man who is oppressed with sickness, there being a physician who can heal his disease, if he does not get
24. As a man fallen among filth, beholding a brimming lake,
If he seek not that lake, the fault is not in the lake;
25. So when there exists a lake of Nirvāṇa that washes the stains of sin,
If a man seek not that lake, the fault is not in the lake of Nirvāṇa.
26. As a man beset with foes, there being a way of escape,
If he flee not away, the fault is not with the road;
27. So when there is a way of bliss, if a man beset with sin
Seek not that road, the fault is not in the way of bliss.
28. And as one who is diseased, there being a physician at hand,
If he bid him not heal the disease, the fault is not in the healer:
29. So if a man who is sick and oppressed with the disease of sin
Seek not the spiritual teacher, the fault is not in the teacher.
And again he argued, “As a man fond of gay clothing, throwing off a corpse bound to his shoulders, goes away rejoicing, so must I, throwing off this perishable body, and freed from all desires, enter the city of Nirvāṇa. And as men and women depositing filth on a dungheap do not gather it in the fold or skirt of their garments, but loathing it, throw it away, feeling no desire for it; so shall I also cast off this perishable body without regret, and enter the deathless city of Nirvāṇa. And as seamen abandon without regret an unseaworthy ship and escape, so will I also, leaving this body, which distils corruption from its nine festering apertures, enter without regret the city of Nirvāṇa. And as a man carrying various sorts of jewels, and going on the same road with a band of robbers, out of fear of losing his jewels withdraws from them and gains a safe road; even so this impure body is like a jewel-plundering robber, if I set my affections thereon the precious spiritual jewel of the sublime path of holiness will be lost to me, therefore
30. As a man might with loathing shake off a corpse bound upon his shoulders,
And depart secure, independent, master of himself;
31. Even so let me depart, regretting nothing, wanting nothing,
Leaving this perishable body, this collection of many foul vapours.
32. And as men and women deposit filth upon a dungheap,
And depart regretting nothing, wanting nothing,
33. So will I depart, leaving this body filled with foul vapours,
As one leaves a cesspool after depositing ordure there.
34. And as the owners forsake the rotten bark that is shattered and leaking,
And depart without regret or longing,
35. So shall I go, leaving this body with its nine apertures ever running,
As its owners desert the broken ship.
36. And as a man carrying wares, walking with robbers,
Seeing danger of losing his wares, parts company with the robbers and gets him gone,
37. Even so is this body like a mighty robber, –
Leaving it I will depart through fear of losing good.
Having thus in nine similes pondered upon the advantages connected with retirement from the world, the wise Sumedha gave away at his own house, as aforesaid, an immense hoard of treasure to the indigent and wayfarers and sufferers, and kept open house. And renouncing all pleasures, both material and sensual, departing from the city of Amara, away from the world in Himavanta he made himself a hermitage near the mountain called Dhammaka, and built a hut and a perambulation hall free from the five defects which are hindrances (to meditation). And with a view to obtain the power residing in the supernatural faculties, which are characterized by the eight causal qualities described in the words beginning “With a mind thus tranquillised,” Evaṁ samāhite citte parisuddhe pariyodāte anaṅgaṇe vigatūpakkilese mudubhūte kammaniye ṭhite ānejjappatte ñāṇadassanāya cittaṁ abhinīharati (Sāmaññaphala Sutta, see Lotus, p. 476, line 14). he embraced in that
38. Having pondered thus I gave many thousand millions of wealth
To rich and poor, and made my way to Himavanta.
39. Not far from Himavanta is the mountain called Dhammaka,
Here I made an excellent hermitage, and built with care a leafy hut.
40. There I built me a cloister, free from five defects,
Possessed of the eight good qualities, and attained the strength of the supernatural Faculties.
41. Then I threw off the cloak possessed of the nine faults,
And put on the raiment of bark possessed of the twelve advantages.
42. I left the hut, crowded with the eight drawbacks,
And went to the tree-foot possessed of ten advantages. Mr. Fausböll writes to me that guṇe for guṇehi must be viewed as an old Pali form originating in the Sanskrit guṇaih.
43. Wholly did I reject the grain that is sown and planted,
And partook of the constant fruits of the earth, possessed of many advantages.
44. Then I strenuously strove, in sitting, in standing, and in walking,
And within seven days attained the might of the Faculties. Here follow four pages of later commentary or gloss, which I leave untranslated.
Now while the hermit Sumedha, having thus attained the strength of supernatural knowledge, was living in the bliss of the (eight) Attainments, the Teacher Dīpaṅkara appeared in the world. At the moment of his conception, of his birth, of his attainment of Buddhahood, of his preaching his first discourse, the whole universe
45. Thus when I had attained the consummation, while I was subjected to the Law,
The Conqueror named Dīpaṅkara, chief of the universe, appeared.
46. At his conception, at his birth, at his Buddhahood, at his preaching,
I saw not the four signs, plunged in the blissful trance of meditation.
At that time Dīpaṅkara Buddha, accompanied by a hundred thousand saints, wandering his way from place to place, reached the city of Ramma, and took up his residence in the great monastery of Sudassana. And the dwellers of the city of Ramma heard it said, “Dīpaṅkara, lord of ascetics, having attained supreme Buddhaship, and set on foot the supremacy of the Law, wandering his way from place to place, has come to the town of Ramma, and dwells at the great monastery of Sudassana.” And taking with them ghee and butter and other medicinal requisites and clothes and raiment, and bearing perfumes and garlands and other offerings in their hands, their minds bent towards the Buddha, the Law, and the Clergy, inclining towards them, hanging upon them, they approached the Teacher and worshipped him, and presenting the perfumes and other offerings, sat down on one side. And having heard his preaching of the Law, and invited him for the next day, they rose from their seats and departed. And on the next day, having prepared almsgiving for the poor, and having decked out the town, they repaired the road by which the Buddha was to come, throwing earth in the places that were worn away by water and thereby levelling the surface, and scattering sand that looked like strips of silver. And they sprinkled fragrant roots and flowers, and raised aloft flags and banners of many-coloured cloths, and set up banana
47. In the region of the border districts, having invited the Buddha,
With joyful hearts they are clearing the road by which he should come.
48. And I at that time leaving my hermitage,
Rustling my barken tunic, departed through the air.
49. And seeing an excited multitude joyous and delighted,
Descending from the air I straightway asked the men,
50. The people is excited, joyous and happy,
For whom is the road being cleared, the path, the way of his coming?
And the men replied, “Lord Sumedha, dost thou not know? Dīpaṅkara Buddha, having attained supreme Knowledge, and set on foot the reign of the glorious Law, travelling from place to place, has reached our town, and dwells at the great monastery Sudassana; we have invited the Blessed One, and are making ready for the blessed Buddha the road by which he is to come.” And the hermit Sumedha thought, “The very sound of the word Buddha is rarely met with in the world, much more the actual appearance of a Buddha; it behoves me to join those men in clearing the road.” He said therefore to the men, “If you are clearing this road for the Buddha, assign to me a piece of ground, I will clear the ground in company with you.” They consented, saying, “It is well;” and perceiving the hermit Sumedha to be possessed of supernatural power, they fixed upon a swampy piece of ground, and assigned it to him, saying, “Do thou prepare this spot.” Sumedha, his heart filled with joy of which the Buddha was the cause, thought within himself, “I am able to prepare
But ere the ground could be cleared by him, – with a train of a hundred thousand miracle-working saints endowed with the six supernatural faculties, while devas offered celestial wreaths and perfumes, while celestial hymns rang forth, and men paid their homage with earthly perfumes and with flowers and other offerings, Dīpaṅkara endowed with the ten Forces, with all a Buddha’s transcendant majesty, like a lion rousing himself to seek his prey on the Vermilion plain, came down into the road all decked and made ready for him. Then the hermit Sumedha – as the Buddha with unblenching eyes approached along the road prepared for him, beholding that form endowed with the perfection of beauty, adorned with the thirty-two characteristics of a great man, and marked with the eighty minor beauties, attended by a halo of a fathom’s depth, and sending forth in streams the six-hued Buddha-rays, linked in pairs of different colours, and wreathed like the varied lightnings that flash in the gem-studded vault of heaven – exclaimed, “This day it behoves me to make sacrifice of my life for the Buddha: let not the Blessed one walk in the mire – nay, let him advance with his four hundred thousand saints trampling on my body as if walking upon a bridge of jewelled planks, this deed will long be for my good and my happiness.” So saying, he loosed his hair, and spreading in the inky mire his hermit’s skin mantle, roll of matted hair and garment of bark, he lay down in the mire like a bridge of jewelled planks. Therefore it is said,
51. Questioned by me they replied, An incomparable Buddha is born into the world,
The Conqueror named Dīpaṅkara, lord of the universe,
For him the road is cleared, the way, the path of his coming.
52. When I heard the name of Buddha joy sprang up forthwith within me,
Repeating, a Buddha, a Buddha! I gave utterance to my joy.
53. Standing there I pondered, joyful and excited,
Here I will sow the seed, may the happy moment not pass away.
54. If you clear a path for the Buddha, assign to me a place,
I also will clear the road, the way, the path of his coming.
55. Then they gave me a piece of ground to clear the pathway;
Then repeating within me, a Buddha, a Buddha! I cleared the road.
56. But ere my portion was cleared, Dīpaṅkara the great sage,
The Conqueror, entered the road with four hundred thousand saints like himself,
Possessed of the six supernatural attributes, pure from all taint of sin.
57. On every side men rise to receive him, many drums send forth their music,
Men and devas overjoyed, shout forth their applause.
58. Devas look upon men, men upon devas,
And both with clasped hands upraised approach the great Being.
59. Devas with celestial music, men with earthly music,
Both sending forth their strains approach the great Being.
60. Devas floating in the air sprinkle down in all directions
Celestial Erythrina flowers, lotuses and coral flowers.
61. Men standing on the ground throw upwards in all directions
Champac and Salala flowers, Cadamba and fragrant Mesua, Punnaga, and Ketaka.
62. Then I loosed my hair, and spreading in the mire
Bark robe and mantle of skin, lay prone upon my face.
63. Let the Buddha advance with his disciples, treading upon me;
Let him not tread in the mire, it will be for my blessing.
And as he lay in the mire, again beholding the Buddha-majesty of Dīpaṅkara Buddha with his unblenching gaze, he thought as follows: “Were I willing, I could enter the city of Ramma as a novice in the priesthood, after having destroyed all human passions; but why should I disguise myself The following is what I take to be the meaning of this passage: “If I chose I could at once enter the Buddhist priesthood, and by the practice of ecstatic meditation (Jhāna) free myself from human passion, and become an Arhat or saint. I should then at death at once attain Nirvāṇa and cease to exist. But this would be a selfish course to pursue, for thus I should benefit myself only. Why should I thus slip unobserved and in the humble garb of a monk into Nirvāṇa? Nay, let me rather qualify myself to become a Buddha, and so save others as well as myself.” This is the great
64. As I lay upon the ground this was the thought of my heart,
If I wished it I might this day destroy within me all human passions.
65. But why should I in disguise arrive at the knowledge of the Truth?
I will attain omniscience and become a Buddha, and (save) men and devas.
66. Why should I cross the ocean resolute but alone?
I will attain omniscience, and enable men and devas to cross.
67. By this resolution of mine, I a man of resolution
Will attain omniscience, and save men and devas,
68. Cutting off the stream of transmigration, annihilating the three forms of existence,
Embarking in the ship of the Truth, I will carry across with me men and devas. What follows from yasmā to nipajji belongs to a later commentary. I resume the translation with p. 15, line 11.
And the blessed Dīpaṅkara having reached the spot stood close by the hermit Sumedha’s head. And opening his eyes possessed of the five kinds of grace as one opens a jewelled window, and beholding the hermit Sumedha lying in the mire, thought to himself, “This hermit who lies here has formed the resolution to be a Buddha; will his prayer be fulfilled or not?” And casting forward his prescient gaze into the future, and considering, he perceived that four asankheyyas and a hundred thousand cycles from that time he would become a Buddha named Gotama. And standing there in the midst of the assembly he delivered this prophecy, “Behold ye this austere hermit lying in the mire?” “Yes, Lord,” they answered.
70. Dīpaṅkara, knower of all worlds, receiver of offerings,
Standing by that which pillowed my head, spoke these words:
71. See ye this austere hermit with his matted hair,
Countless ages hence he will be a Buddha in this world.
72. Lo, the great Being departing from pleasant Kapila,
Having fought the great fight, performed all manner of austerities.
73. Having sat at the foot of the Ajapāla tree, and there received rice pottage,
Shall approach the Nerañjarā river.
74. Having received the rice pottage on the banks of the Nerañjarā, the Conqueror
Shall come by a fair road prepared for him to the foot of the Bodhi-tree.
75. Then, unrivalled and glorious, reverentially saluting the throne of Bodhi,
At the foot of an Indian fig-tree he shall attain Buddhahood.
76. The mother that bears him shall be called Māyā,
His father will be Suddhodana, he himself will be Gotama.
77. His chief disciples will be Upatissa and Kolita,
Void of human passion, freed from desire, calm-minded and tranquil.
78. The servitor Ānanda will attend upon the Conqueror,
Khemā and Uppalavaṇṇā will be his chief female disciples,
79. Void of human passion, freed from desire, calm-minded and tranquil.
The sacred tree of this Buddha is called Assattha.
The hermit Sumedha, exclaiming, “My prayer, it seems, will be accomplished,” was filled with happiness. The multitudes, hearing the words of Dīpaṅkara Buddha, were joyous and delighted, exclaiming, “The hermit Sumedha, it seems, is an embryo Buddha, the tender shoot that will grow up into a Buddha.” For thus they thought, “As a man fording a river, if he is unable to cross to the ford opposite him, crosses to a ford lower down the stream, even so we, if under the dispensation of Dīpaṅkara Buddha we fail to attain the Paths and their fruition, yet when thou shalt become Buddha we shall be enabled in thy presence to make the paths and their fruition our own,” – and so they recorded their prayer (for future sanctification). And Dīpaṅkara Buddha also having praised the Bodhisatta, and made an offering to him of eight handfuls of flowers, reverentially saluted him and departed. And the Arhats, also, four hundred thousand in number, having made offerings to the Bodhisatta of perfumes and garlands, reverentially saluted him and departed. And the devas and men having made the same offerings, and bowed down to him, went their way.
And the Bodhisatta, when all had retired, rising from his seat and exclaiming, “I will investigate the Perfections,” sat himself down cross-legged on a heap of flowers. And as the Bodhisatta sat thus, the devas in all the ten thousand worlds assembling shouted applause. “Venerable hermit Sumedha,” they said, “all the auguries which have manifested themselves when former Bodhisattas seated themselves cross-legged, saying, ‘We will investigate the Perfections,’ – all these this day have appeared: assuredly thou shalt become Buddha. This we know, to whom these omens appear, he surely will become Buddha; do thou make a strenuous effort and exert thyself.” With these words they lauded the Bodhisatta with varied praises. Therefore it is said,
80. Hearing these words of the incomparable Sage,
Devas and men delighted, exclaimed, This is an embryo Buddha.
81. A great clamour arises, men and devas in ten thousand worlds
Clap their hands, and laugh, and make obeisance with clasped hands.
82. “Should we fail,” they say, “of this Buddha’s dispensation,
Yet in time to come we shall stand before him.
83. As men crossing a river, if they fail to reach the opposite ford,
Gaining the lower ford cross the great river,
84. Even so we all, if we lose this Buddha,
In time to come shall stand before him.”
85. The world-knowing Dīpaṅkara, the receiver of offerings,
Having celebrated my meritorious act, went his way. Lit. “raised his right foot (to depart).”
86. All the disciples of the Buddha that were present saluted me with reverence,
Men, Nāgas, and Gandhabbas bowed down to me and departed.
87. When the Lord of the world with his following had passed beyond my sight,
Then glad, with gladsome heart, I rose up from my seat.
88. Joyful I am with a great joy, glad with a great gladness;
Flooded with rapture then I seated myself cross-legged.
89. And even as thus I sat I thought within myself,
I am subject to ecstatic meditation, I have mastered the supernatural Faculties.
90. In a thousand worlds there are no sages that rival me,
Unrivalled in miraculous powers I have reached this bliss.
91. When thus they beheld me sitting, Lit. “at my sitting cross-legged.” the dwellers of ten thousand worlds
Raised a mighty shout, Surely thou shalt be a Buddha!
92. The omens Mr. Fausböll writes that yaṁ is a mistake of the copyist for yā = yāni. beheld in former ages when Bodhisatta sat cross-legged,
The same are beheld this day.
93. Cold is dispelled and heat ceases,
This day these things are seen, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
94. A thousand worlds are stilled and silent,
So are they seen today, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
95. The mighty winds blow not, the rivers cease to flow,
These things are seen today, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
96. All flowers blossom on land and sea,
This day they all have bloomed, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
97. All creepers and trees are laden with fruit,
This day they all bear fruit, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
98. Gems sparkle in earth and sky,
This day all gems do glitter, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
99. Music earthly and celestial sounds,
Both these today send forth their strains, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
100. Flowers of every hue rain down from the sky,
This day they are seen, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
101. The mighty ocean bends itself, ten thousand worlds are shaken,
This day they both send up their roar, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
102. In hell the fires of ten thousand worlds die out,
This day these fires are quenched, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
103. Unclouded is the sun and all the stars are seen,
These things are seen today, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
104. Though no water fell in rain, vegetation burst forth from the earth,
This day vegetation springs from the earth, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
105. The constellations are all aglow, and the lunar mansions in the vault of heaven,
Visākhā is in conjunction with the moon, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
106. Those creatures that dwell in holes and caves depart each from his lair,
This day these lairs are forsaken, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
107. There is no discontent among mortals, but they are filled with contentment,
This day all are content, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
108. Then diseases are dispelled and hunger ceases,
This day these things are seen, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
109. Then Desire wastes away, Hate and Folly perish,
This day all these are dispelled, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
110. No danger then comes near; this day this thing is seen,
By this sign we know it, – verily thou shalt become Buddha.
111. No dust flies abroad; this day this thing is seen,
By this sign we know it, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
112. All noisome odours flee away, celestial fragrance breathes around,
Such fragrance breathes this day, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
113. All the devas are manifested, the Formless only excepted,
This day they all are seen, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
114. All the hells become visible,
These all are seen this day, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
115. Then walls, and doors, and rocks are no impediment,
This day they have melted into air, Or “have risen into the air”? – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
116. At that moment death and birth do not take place,
This day these things are seen, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
117. Do thou make a strenuous effort, hold not back, go forward,
This thing we know, – verily thou shalt be Buddha.
And the Bodhisatta, having heard the words of Dīpaṅkara Buddha, and of the devas in ten thousand worlds, filled with immeasurable resolution, thought thus within himself, “The Buddhas are beings whose word cannot fail; there is no deviation from truth in their speech. For as the fall of a clod thrown into the air, as the death of a mortal, as the sunrise at dawn, as a lion’s roaring when he leaves his lair, as the delivery of a woman with child, as these things are sure and certain, – even so the word of the Buddhas is sure and cannot fail, verily I shall become a Buddha.” Therefore it is said,
118. Having heard the words of Buddha and of the devas of ten thousand worlds,
Glad, joyous, delighted, I then thought thus within myself:
119. The Buddhas speak not doubtful words, the Conquerors speak not vain words,
There is no falsehood in the Buddhas, – verily I shall become a Buddha.
120. As a clod cast into the air doth surely fall to the ground,
So the word of the glorious Buddhas is sure and everlasting.
121. As the death of all mortals is sure and constant,
So the word of the glorious Buddhas is sure and everlasting.
122. As the rising of the sun is certain when night has faded,
So the word of the glorious Buddhas is sure and everlasting.
123. As the roaring of a lion who has left his den is certain,
So the word of the glorious Buddhas is sure and everlasting.
124. As the delivery of women with child is certain,
So the word of the glorious Buddhas is sure and everlasting.
And having thus made the resolution, “I shall surely become Buddha,” with a view to investigating the conditions that constitute a Buddha, exclaiming, “Where are the conditions that make the Buddha, are they found above or below, in the principal or the minor directions?” investigating successively the principles of all things, and beholding the first Perfection of Almsgiving, practised and followed by former Bodhisattas, he thus admonished his own soul: “Wise Sumedha, from this time forth
125. Come, I will search the Buddha-making conditions, this way and that,
Above and below, in all the ten directions, as far as the principles of things extend.
126. Then, as I made my search, I beheld the first Gift-perfection,
The high road followed by former sages.
127. Do thou strenuously taking it upon thyself advance
To this first perfection of almsgiving, if thou wilt attain Buddhaship.
128. As a brimming water-jar, overturned by any one,
Discharges entirely all the water, and retains none within,
129. Even so, when thou seest any that ask, great, small, and middling,
Do thou give away all in alms, as the water-jar overthrown.
But considering further, “There must be beside this other conditions that make a Buddha,” and beholding the second Perfection of Moral Practice, he thought thus, “O wise Sumedha, from this day forth mayest thou fulfil the perfection of Morality; for as the Yak ox, regardless of his life, guards his bushy tail, even so thou shalt become Buddha, if from this day forward regardless of thy life thou keepest the moral precepts.” And he strenuously resolved to attain the second perfection of Moral Practice. Therefore it is said,
130. For the conditions of a Buddha cannot be so few,
Let me investigate the other conditions that bring Buddhaship to maturity.
131. Then investigating I beheld the second Perfection of Morality
Practised and followed by former sages.
132. This second one do thou strenuously undertake,
And reach the perfection of Moral Practice if thou wilt attain Buddhahood.
133. And as the Yak cow, when her tail has got entangled in anything,
Then and there awaits death, and will not injure her tail, Viz., I suppose, by dragging it forcibly away. This metaphor, which to us appears wanting in dignity, is a favourite one with the Hindus. The tail of the Yak or Tibetan ox (Bos Grunniens) is a beautiful object, and one of the insignia of Hindu royalty.
134. So also do thou, having fulfilled the moral precepts in the four stages,
Ever guard the Sīla as the Yak guards her tail.
But considering further, “These cannot be the only Buddha-making conditions,” and beholding the third Perfection of Self-abnegation, he thought thus, “O wise Sumedha, mayest thou henceforth fulfil the perfection of Abnegation; for as a man long the denizen of a prison feels no love for it, but is discontented, and wishes to live there no more, even so do thou, likening all births to a prison-house, discontented with all births, and anxious to get rid of them, set thy face toward abnegation, thus shalt thou become Buddha.” And he strenuously made the resolution to attain the third perfection of Self-abnegation. Therefore it is said,
135. For the conditions that make a Buddha cannot be so few,
I will investigate others, the conditions that bring Buddhaship to maturity.
136. Investigating then I beheld the third Perfection of Abnegation
Practised and followed by former sages.
137. This third one do thou strenuously undertake,
And reach the perfection of abnegation, if thou wilt attain Buddhahood.
138. As a man long a denizen of the house of bonds, oppressed with suffering,
Feels no pleasure therein, but rather longs for release,
139. Even so do thou look upon all births as prison-houses,
Set thy face toward self-abnegation, to obtain release from Existence.
But considering further, “These cannot be the only Buddha-making conditions,” and beholding the fourth Perfection of Wisdom, he thought thus, “O wise Sumedha,
140. For the conditions that make a Buddha cannot be so few,
I will investigate the other conditions that bring Buddhaship to maturity.
141. Investigating then I beheld the fourth Perfection of Wisdom
Practised and followed by former sages.
142. This fourth do thou strenuously undertake,
And reach the perfection of wisdom, if thou wilt attain Buddhahood.
143. And as a monk on his begging rounds avoids no families,
Either small, or great, or middling, and so obtains subsistence,
144. Even so thou, constantly questioning wise men,
And reaching the perfection of wisdom, shalt attain supreme Buddhaship.
But considering further, “These cannot be the only Buddha-making conditions,” and seeing the fifth Perfection of Exertion, he thought thus, “O wise Sumedha, do thou from this day forth fulfil the perfection of Exertion. As the lion, the king of beasts, in every action Lit. in all postures, walking, standing, etc. strenuously exerts himself, so if thou in all existences and in all thy acts art strenuous in exertion, and not a laggard, thou shalt become a Buddha.” And he made a firm resolve to attain the fifth perfection of Exertion. Therefore it is said,
145. For the conditions of a Buddha cannot be so few,
I will investigate the other conditions which bring Buddhaship to maturity.
146. Investigating then I beheld the fifth Perfection of Exertion
Practised and followed by former sages.
147. This fifth do thou strenuously undertake,
And reach the perfection of exertion, if thou wilt attain Buddhahood.
148. As the lion, king of beasts, in lying, standing and walking,
Is no laggard, but ever of resolute heart,
149. Even so do thou also in every existence strenuously exert thyself,
And reaching the perfection of exertion, thou shalt attain the supreme Buddhaship.
But considering further, “These cannot be the only Buddha-making conditions,” and beholding the sixth Perfection of Patience, he thought to himself, “O wise Sumedha, do thou from this time forth fulfil the perfection of Longsuffering; be thou patient in praise and in reproach. And as when men throw things pure or foul upon the earth, the earth does not feel either desire or repulsion towards them, but suffers them, endures them and acquiesces in them, even so thou also, if thou art patient in praise and reproach, shalt become Buddha.” And he strenuously resolved to attain the sixth perfection of Longsuffering. Therefore it is said,
150. For the conditions of a Buddha cannot be so few,
I will seek other conditions also which bring about Buddhaship.
151. And seeking then I beheld the sixth Perfection of Longsuffering
Practised and followed by former Buddhas.
152. Having strenuously taken upon thee this sixth perfection,
Then with unwavering mind thou shalt attain supreme Buddhaship.
153. And as the earth endures all that is thrown upon it,
Whether things pure or impure, and feels neither anger nor pity,
154. Even so enduring the praises and reproaches of all men,
Going on to perfect longsuffering, thou shalt attain supreme Buddhaship.
But further considering, “These cannot be the only conditions that make a Buddha,” and beholding the seventh Perfection of Truth, he thought thus within
155. For these are not all the conditions of a Buddha,
I will seek other conditions which bring about Buddhaship.
156. Seeking then I beheld the seventh Perfection of Truth
Practised and followed by former Buddhas.
157. Having strenuously taken upon thyself this seventh perfection,
Then free from duplicity of speech thou shalt attain supreme Buddhaship.
158. And as the planet Venus, balanced in all her times and seasons,
In the world of men and devas, departs not from her path,
159. Even so do thou not depart from the course of truth, Lit. depart from thy course in the matter of truthful things.
Advancing to the perfection of truth, thou shalt attain supreme Buddhaship.
But further considering, “These cannot be the only conditions that make a Buddha,” and beholding the eighth Perfection of Resolution, he thought thus within himself, “O wise Sumedha, do thou from this time forth fulfil the perfection of Resolution; whatsoever thou resolvest be thou unshaken in that resolution. For as a mountain, the wind beating upon it in all directions, trembles not, moves not, but stands in its place, even so thou, if unswerving in thy resolution, shalt become Buddha.” And he strenuously resolved to attain the eighth perfection of Resolution. Therefore it is said,
160. For these are not all the conditions of a Buddha,
I will seek out other conditions that bring about Buddhaship.
161. Seeking then I beheld the eighth Perfection of Resolution
Practised and followed by former Buddhas.
162. Do thou resolutely take upon thyself this eighth perfection,
Then thou being immovable shalt attain supreme Buddhaship.
163. And as the rocky mountain, immovable, firmly based,
Is unshaken by many winds, and stands in its own place,
164. Even so do thou also remain ever immovable in resolution,
Advancing to the perfection of resolution, thou shalt attain supreme Buddhaship.
But further considering, “These cannot be the only conditions that make a Buddha,” and beholding the ninth Perfection of Good-will, he thought thus within himself, “O wise Sumedha, do thou from this time forth fulfil the perfection of Good-will, mayest thou be of one mind towards friends and foes. And as water fills with its refreshing coolness good men and bad alike, Lit. having made its coldness exactly alike for bad people and good people, pervades them. even so, if thou art of one mind in friendly feeling towards all mortals, thou shalt become Buddha.” And he strenuously resolved to attain the ninth perfection of Good-will. Therefore it is said,
165. For these are not all the conditions of a Buddha,
I will seek out other conditions that bring about Buddhaship.
166. Seeking I beheld the ninth Perfection of Good-will
Practised and followed by former Buddhas.
167. Do thou, taking resolutely upon thyself this ninth perfection,
Become unrivalled in kindness, if thou wilt become Buddha.
168. And as water fills with its coolness
Good men and bad alike, and carries off all impurity,
169. Even so do thou look with friendship alike on the evil and the good,
Advancing to the perfection of kindness, thou shalt attain supreme Buddhaship.
But further considering, “These cannot be the only conditions that make a Buddha,” and beholding the tenth Perfection of Equanimity, he thought thus within himself, “O wise Sumedha, from this time do thou fulfil the
170. For these cannot be all the conditions of a Buddha,
I will seek other conditions that bring about Buddhaship.
171. Seeking then I beheld the tenth Perfection of Equanimity
Practised and followed by former Buddhas.
172. If thou take resolutely upon thyself this tenth perfection,
Becoming well-balanced and firm, thou shalt attain supreme Buddhaship.
173. And as the earth is indifferent to pure and impure things cast upon her,
To both alike, and is free from anger and favour,
174. Even so do thou ever be evenly-balanced in joy and grief,
Advancing to the perfection of equanimity, thou shalt attain supreme Buddhaship.
Then he thought, “These are the only conditions in this world that, bringing Buddhaship to perfection and constituting a Buddha, have to be fulfilled by Bodhisattas; beside the ten Perfections there are no others. And these ten Perfections are neither in the heaven above nor in the earth below, nor are they to be found in the east or the other quarters, but reside in my heart of flesh.” Having thus realized that the Perfections were established in his heart, having strenuously resolved to keep them all, grasping them again and again, he mastered them forwards and backwards; i.e. alternately from the first to the tenth and from the tenth to the first. taking them at the end he went backward to the beginning, taking them at the beginning he placed them at the end, i.e. put the first last. taking them at the middle he carried them to the two ends, taking them at both ends he carried them to the middle.
175. These are all the conditions in the world that bring Buddhaship to perfection:
Beyond these are no others, therein do thou stand fast.
176. While he grasped these conditions natural and intrinsic, Vijesinha writes to me, “Natural and intrinsic virtues. The Sinhalese gloss says: paramārthavū rasasahitavū lakshaṇa-œti nohot svabhāvalakṣaṇa hā sarvadharmasādhāraṇalakṣaṇa-œti. In the latter case it would mean, having the quality of conformity with all laws.”
By the power of his piety the earth of ten thousand worlds quaked.
177. The earth sways and thunders like a sugar-mill at work,
Like the wheel of an oil-mill so shakes the earth.
And while the earth was trembling the people of Ramma, unable to endure it, like great Sāl-trees overthrown by the wind that blows at the end of a cycle, fell swooning here and there, while water-pots and other vessels, revolving like a jar on a potter’s wheel, struck against each other and were dashed and ground to pieces. The multitudes in fear and trembling approaching the Teacher said, “Tell us, Blessed one, is this turmoil caused by dragons, or is it caused by either demons, or ogres, or by celestial beings? – for this we know not, but truly this whole multitude is grievously afflicted. Pray does
178. All the multitude that was there in attendance on the Buddha,
Trembling, fell swooning there upon the ground.
179. Many thousands of water-pots and many hundred jars
Were crushed and pounded there and dashed against each other.
180. Excited, trembling, terrified, confused, their sense disordered,
The multitudes assembling, approached the Buddha,
181. Say, will it be good or evil to the world?
The whole world is afflicted, ward off this (danger), thou Omniscient One.
182. Then the Great Sage Dīpaṅkara enjoined upon them,
Be confident, be not afraid at this earthquaking:
183. He concerning whom I predicted this day, He will be a Buddha in this world,
The same is investigating the time-honoured Conditions followed by the Buddhas.
184. Therefore while he is investigating fully these Conditions, the groundwork of a Buddha,
The earth of ten thousand worlds is shaken in the world of men and of devas.
And the people hearing the Buddha’s words, joyful and delighted, taking with them garlands, perfumes and unguents, left the city of Ramma, and went to the Bodhisatta. And having offered their flowers and other presents, and bowed to him and respectfully saluted him, they returned to the city of Ramma. And the Bodhisatta, having made a strenuous exertion and resolve, rose from the seat on which he sat. Therefore it is said,
185. Having heard the Buddha’s word, their minds were straightway calmed,
All of them approaching me again paid me their homage.
186. Having taken upon me the Perfections of a Buddha, having made firm my resolve,
Having bowed to Dīpaṅkara, I rose from my seat.
And as the Bodhisatta rose from his seat, the devas in all the ten thousand worlds having assembled and offered him garlands and perfumes, uttered these and other words of praise and blessing, “Venerable hermit Sumedha, this day thou hast made a mighty resolve at the feet of Dīpaṅkara Buddha, mayest thou fulfil it without let or hindrance: fear not nor be dismayed, may not the slightest sickness visit thy frame, quickly exercise the Perfections and attain supreme Buddhaship. As the flowering and fruit-bearing trees bring forth flowers and fruit in their season, so do thou also, not letting the right season pass by, quickly reach the supreme knowledge of a Buddha.” And thus having spoken, they returned each one to his celestial home. Then the Bodhisatta, having received the homage of the devas, made a strenuous exertion and resolve, saying, “Having fulfilled the ten Perfections, at the end of four asankheyyas and a hundred thousand cycles I shall become a Buddha.” And rising into the air he returned to Himavanta. Therefore it is said,
187. As he rose from his seat both devas and men
Sprinkle him with celestial and earthly flowers.
188. Both devas and men pronounce their blessing,
A great prayer thou hast made, mayest thou obtain it according to thy wish.
189. May all dangers be averted, may every sickness vanish,
Mayest thou have no hindrance, – quickly reach the supreme knowledge of a Buddha.
190. As when the season is come the flowering trees do blossom,
Even so do thou, O mighty One, blossom with the wisdom of a Buddha.
191. As all the Buddhas have fulfilled the ten Perfections,
Even so do thou, O mighty One, fulfil the ten Perfections.
192. As all the Buddhas are enlightened on the throne of knowledge,
Even so do thou, O mighty One, receive enlightenment in the wisdom of a Buddha.
193. As all the Buddhas have established the supremacy of the Law,
Even so do thou, O mighty One, establish the supremacy of the Law.
194. As the moon on the mid-day of the month shines in her purity,
Even so do thou, with thy mind at the full, shine in ten thousand worlds.
195. As the sun released by Rāhu glows fervently in his heat,
Even so, having redeemed mankind, do thou shine in all thy majesty.
196. As all the rivers find their way to the great ocean,
Even so may the worlds of men and devas take refuge in thee.
197. The Bodhisatta extolled with these praises, taking on himself the ten Conditions,
Commencing to fulfil these Conditions, entered the forest.
End of the Story of Sumedha
And the people of the city of Ramma, having returned to the city, kept open house to the priesthood with the Buddha at their head. The Teacher having preached the Law to them, and established them in the three Refuges and the other branches of the Faith, departing from the city of Ramma, living thereafter his allotted span of life, having fulfilled all the duties of a Buddha, in due course attained Nirvāṇa in that element of annihilation in which no trace of existence remains. On this subject all that need be said can be learnt from the narrative in the Buddhavaṁsa, for it is said in that work,
198. Then they, having entertained the Chief of the world with his clergy,
Took refuge in the Teacher Dīpaṅkara.
199. Some the Buddha established in the Refuges,
Some in the five Precepts, others in the ten.
200. To some he gives the privilege of priesthood, the four glorious Fruitions,
On some he bestows those peerless qualities the analytical Knowledges.
201. To some the Lord of men grants the eight sublime Acquisitions,
On some he bestows the three Wisdoms and the six supernatural Faculties.
202. In this order Vij. says, “In that order, viz. in the Saraṇāgamana first, then in the Pañcasīla, then in the Dasasīla, and so on.” the Great Sage exhorts the multitude.
Therewith the commandment of the world’s Protector was spread wide abroad.
203. He of the mighty jaw, of the broad shoulder, Dīpaṅkara by name,
Procured the salvation of many men, warded off from them future punishment.
204. Beholding persons ripe for salvation, reaching them in an instant,
Even at a distance of four hundred thousand leagues, the Great Sage awakened them (to the knowledge of the truth).
205. At the first conversion the Buddha converted a thousand millions.
At the second the Protector converted a hundred thousand.
206. When the Buddha preached the truth in the deva world,
There took place a third conversion of nine hundred millions.
207. The Teacher Dīpaṅkara had three assemblies,
The first was a meeting of a million millions.
208. Again when the Conqueror went into seclusion at Nārada Kūta,
A thousand million spotless Arhats met together.
209. When the Mighty One dwelt on the lofty rock Sudassana,
Then the Sage surrounded himself with nine hundred thousand millions.
210. At that time I was an ascetic wearing matted hair, a man of austere penances,
Moving through the air, accomplished in the five supernatural Faculties.
211. The (simultaneous) conversion of tens of thousands, of twenties of thousands, took place,
Of ones and twos the conversions were beyond computation. Lit. “arithmetically innumerable.”
212. Then did the pure religion of Dīpaṅkara Buddha become widely spread,
Known to many men prosperous and flourishing.
213. Four hundred thousand saints, possessed of the six Faculties, endowed with miraculous powers,
Ever attend upon Dīpaṅkara, knower of the three worlds.
214. Blameworthy are all they who at that time leave the human existence,
Not having obtained final sanctity, still imperfect in knowledge.
215. The word of Buddha shines in the world of men and devas, made to blossom by saints such as these,
Freed from human passion, void of all taint (of sin).
216. The city of Dīpaṅkara Buddha was called Rammavatī,
The khattiya Sumedha was his father, Sumedhā his mother.
217. Sumaṅgala and Tissa were his chief disciples,
And Sāgata was the servitor of Dīpaṅkara Buddha.
218. Nandā and Sunandā were his chief female disciples.
The Bodhi-tree of this Buddha is called the Pipphali. The Banyan-tree.
219. Eighty cubits in height the Great Saga Dīpaṅkara
Shone conspicuous as a Deodar pine, or as a noble Sāl-tree in full bloom.
220. A hundred thousand years was the age of this Great Sage,
And so long as he was living on earth he brought many men to salvation.
221. Having made the Truth to flourish, having saved great multitudes of men,
Having flamed like a mass of fire, he died together with his disciples.
222. And all this power, this glory, these jewel-wheels on his feet,
All is wholly gone, – are not all existing things vanity!
223. After Dīpaṅkara was the Leader named Koṇḍañña,
Of infinite power, of boundless renown, immeasurable, unrivalled.
Next to the Dīpaṅkara Buddha, after the lapse of one asankheyya, the Teacher Koṇḍañña appeared. He also had three assemblies of saints, at the first assembly there were a million millions, at the second ten thousand millions, at the third nine hundred millions. At that time the Bodhisatta, having been born as a universal monarch named Vijitāvin, kept open house to the priesthood with the Buddha at their head, in number a million of millions. The Teacher having predicted of the Bodhisatta, “He will become a Buddha,” preached the Law. He having heard the Teacher’s preaching gave up his kingdom and became a Buddhist monk. Having mastered the three Treasuries, The three divisions of the Buddhist Scriptures. having obtained the six supernatural Faculties, and having practised without failure the ecstatic meditation, he was reborn in the Brahma heavens. The city of Koṇḍañña Buddha was Rammavatī, the khattiya Sunanda was his father, his mother was queen Sujātā, Bhadda and Subhadda were his two chief disciples, Anuruddha was his servitor, Tissā and Upatissā his chief female disciples, his Bodhi-tree was the Sālakalyāṇi, his body was eighty-eight cubits high, and the duration of his life was a hundred thousand years.
After him, at the end of one asankheyya, in one and the same cycle four Buddhas were born, Maṅgala, Sumana, Revata and Sobhita. Maṅgala Buddha had three assemblies of saints, of these at the first there were
224. Religion verily protects him who walks according thereto,
Religion rightly followed brings happiness.
This blessing is then in rightly following the Law,
The righteous man goes not to a state of punishment. [Ed: Thag 303].
And through the merit of this work also the bodily lustre of this Buddha constantly extended through ten thousand worlds. At this time our Bodhisatta, Viz. Gotama Bodhisatta. having been born as the brahmin Suruci, approached the Teacher with the view of inviting him to his house, and having heard his sweet discourse, said, “Lord, take your meal with me tomorrow.” “Brahmin, how many monks do you wish for?” “Nay but how many monks have you in your escort?” At that time was the Teacher’s first assembly, and accordingly he replied, “A million millions.” “Lord, bring them all with you and come and take your meal at my house.” The Teacher consented. The Brahmin having invited them for the next day, on his way home thought to himself, “I am perfectly well able to supply
225. After Koṇḍañña the Leader named Maṅgala,
Dispelling darkness in the world, held aloft the torch of truth.
And after the Buddha had died, shrouding in darkness ten thousand worlds, the Teacher named Sumana appeared. He also had three great assemblies of saints, at the first assembly the priests were a million millions, at the second, on the Golden Mountain, ninety million of millions, at the third eighty million of millions. At this time the Bodhisatta was the Nāga king Atula, mighty and powerful. And he, hearing that a Buddha had appeared, left the Nāga world, accompanied by his assembled kinsmen, and, making offerings with celestial music to the Buddha, whose retinue was a million million of monks, and having given great gifts, bestowing upon each two garments of fine cloth, he was established in the Three Refuges. And this Teacher also foretold of him, “One day he will be a Buddha.” The city of this Buddha was named Khema, Sudatta was his father, Sirimā his mother, Saraṇa and Bhāvitatta his chief disciples, Udena his servitor, Soṇā and Upasoṇā his chief female disciples. The Nāga was his Bodhi-tree, his body was ninety cubits high, and his age ninety thousand years.
226. After Maṅgala came the Leader named Sumana,
In all things unequalled, the best of all beings.
After him the Teacher Revata appeared. He also had
227. After Sumana came the Leader named Revata,
The Conqueror unequalled, incomparable, unmatched, supreme.
After him appeared the Teacher Sobhita. He also had three assemblies of saints; at the first assembly a thousand million monks were present, at the second nine hundred millions, at the third eight hundred millions. At that time the Bodhisatta having been born as the brahman Ajita, and having heard the Teacher’s preaching, was established in the Three Refuges, and gave a great donation to the Order of monks, with the Buddha at their head. To this man also he prophesied, saying, “Thou shalt become a Buddha.” Sudhamma was the name of the city of this Blessed One, Sudhamma the king was his father, Sudhammā his mother, Asama and Sunetta his chief disciples, Anoma his servitor, Nakulā and Sujātā his chief female disciples, and the Nāga-tree his Bo-tree; his body was fifty-eight cubits high, and his age ninety thousand years.
228. After Revata came the Leader named Sobhita,
Subdued and mild, unequalled and unrivalled.
After him, when an asaṅkheyya had elapsed, three Buddhas were born in one kalpa – Anomadassin, Paduma, and Nārada. Anomadassin had three assemblies of saints; at the first eight hundred thousand monks were present, at the second seven, at the third six. At that time the Bodhisatta was a Yakkha chief, mighty and powerful, the lord of many millions of millions of yakkhas. He, hearing that a Buddha had appeared, came and gave a great donation to the Order of monks, with the Buddha at their head. And the Teacher prophesied to him too, saying, “Hereafter thou shalt be a Buddha.” The city of Anomadassin the Blessed One was called Candavatī, Yasava the king was his father, Yasodharā his mother, Nisabha and Anoma his chief disciples, Varuṇa his servitor, Sundarī and Sumanā his chief female disciples, the Arjuna-tree his Bo-tree; his body was fifty-eight cubits high, his age a hundred thousand years.
229. After Sobhita came the perfect Buddha – the best of men –
Anomadassin, of infinite fame, glorious, difficult to surpass.
After him appeared the Teacher named Paduma. He too had three assemblies of saints; at the first assembly a million million monks were present, at the second three hundred thousand, at the third two hundred thousand of the monks who dwelt at a great grove in the uninhabited forest. At that time, whilst the Tathāgata was living in that grove, the Bodhisatta having been born as a lion, saw the Teacher plunged in ecstatic trance, and with trustful heart made obeisance to him, and walking round him with reverence, experienced great joy, and thrice uttered a
230. After Anomadassin came the perfect Buddha, the best of men,
Paduma by name, unequalled, and without a rival.
After him appeared the Teacher named Nārada. He also had three assemblies of saints; at the first assembly a million million monks were present, at the second ninety million million, at the third eighty million million. At that time the Bodhisatta, having taken the vows as a sage, acquired the five kinds of Wisdom and the eight sublime Acquisitions, and gave a great donation to the Order, with the Buddha at their head, making an offering of red sandal wood. And to him also he prophesied, “Hereafter thou shalt be a Buddha.” The city of this Blessed One was called Dhaññavati, his father was Sumedha the warrior, his mother Anomā, Bhaddasāla and Jetamitta his chief disciples, Vāseṭṭha his servitor, Uttarā and Pagguṇī his chief female disciples, the great Crimson
231. After Paduma came the perfect Buddha, the best of men,
Nārada by name, unequalled, and without a rival.
After Nārada the Buddha, a hundred thousand world-cycles ago there appeared in one kalpa only one Buddha called Padumuttara. He also had three assemblies of saints; at the first a million million monks were present, at the second, on the Vebhāra Mountain, nine hundred thousand million, at the third eight hundred thousand million. At that time the Bodhisatta, born as the Mahratta [Great Minister] of the name of Jaṭila, gave an offering of robes to the Order, with the Buddha at their head. And to him also he announced, “Hereafter thou shalt be a Buddha.” And at the time of Padumuttara the Blessed One there were no infidels, but all, men and devas, took refuge in the Buddha. His city was called Haṁsavatī, his father was Ānanda the warrior, his mother Sujātā, Devala and Sujāta his chief disciples, Sumana his servitor, Amitā and Asamā his chief female disciples, the Sāla-tree his Bo-tree; his body was eighty-eight cubits high, the light from his body extended twelve leagues, and his age was a hundred thousand years.
232. After Nārada came the perfect Buddha, the best of men,
Padumuttara by name, the Conqueror unshaken, like the sea.
After him, when thirty thousand world-cycles had elapsed, two Buddhas, Sumedha and Sujāta, were born in one kalpa. Sumedha also had three assemblies of his saints; at the first assembly, in the city Sudassana, a thousand million sinless ones were present, at the second
233. After Padumuttara came the Leader named Sumedha,
The Sage hard to equal, brilliant in glory, supreme in all the world.
After him appeared the Teacher Sujāta. He also had three assemblies of his saints; at the first assembly sixty thousand monks were present, at the second fifty, at the third forty. At that time the Bodhisatta was a universal monarch; and hearing that a Buddha was born he went to him and heard the Law, and gave to the Order, with the Buddha at their head, his kingdom of the four continents with its seven treasures, and took the vows under the Teacher. All the dwellers in the land, taking advantage of the birth of a Buddha in their midst, did duty as servants in the monasteries, and continually gave great donations to the Order, with the Buddha at their head. And to him also the Teacher prophesied. The city of this Blessed One was called Sumaṅgala, Uggata the king was his father, Pabhāvatī his mother, Sudassana and
234. In that age, the Maṇḍakalpa, appeared the Leader Sujāta,
Mighty jawed and grandly framed, whose measure none can take, and hard to equal.
After him, when eighteen hundred world-cycles had elapsed, three Buddhas, Piyadassin, Atthadassin, and Dhammadassin, were born in one kalpa. Piyadassin also had three assemblies of his saints; at the first a million million monks were present, at the second nine hundred million, at the third eight hundred million. At that time the Bodhisatta, as a young brahman called Kassapa, who had thoroughly learnt the three Vedas, listened to the Teacher’s preaching of the Law, and built a monastery at a cost of a million million, and stood firm in the Refuges and the Precepts. And to him the Teacher prophesied, saying, “After the lapse of eighteen hundred kalpas thou shalt become a Buddha.” The city of this Blessed One was called Anoma, his father was Sudinna the king, his mother Candā, Pālita and Sabbadassin his chief disciples, Sobhita his servitor, Sujātā and Dhammadinnā his chief female disciples, and the Priyaṅgu-tree his Bo-tree. His body was eighty cubits high, and his age ninety thousand years.
235. After Sujāta came Piyadassin, Leader of the world,
Self-taught, hard to match, unequalled, of great glory.
After him appeared the Teacher called Atthadassin. He too had three assemblies of his saints; at the first nine million eight hundred thousand monks were present, at the second eight million eight hundred thousand, and the same number at the third. At that time the Bodhisatta, as the mighty ascetic Susīma, brought from heaven the sunshade of Mandārava flowers, and offered it to the Teacher, who prophesied also to him. The city of this Blessed One was called Sobhita, Sāgara the king was his father, Sudassanā his mother, Santa and Upasanta his chief disciples, Abhaya his servitor, Dhammā and Sudhammā his chief female disciples, and the Champaka his Bo-tree. His body was eighty cubits high, the glory from his body always extended over a league, and his age was a hundred thousand years.
236. In the same Maṇḍakalpa Atthadassin, best of men,
Dispelled the thick darkness, and attained supreme Enlightenment.
After him appeared the Teacher named Dhammadassin. He too had three assemblies of his saints; at the first a thousand million monks were present, at the second seven hundred millions, at the third eight hundred millions. At that time the Bodhisatta, as Sakka the king of the gods, made an offering of sweet-smelling flowers from heaven, and heavenly music. And to him too the Teacher prophesied. The city of this Blessed One was called Saraṇa, his father was Saraṇa the king, his mother Sunandā, Paduma and Phussadeva his chief disciples, Sunetta his servitor, Khemā and Sabbanāmā his chief female disciples, and the red Kuravaka-tree (called also
237. In the same Maṇḍakalpa the far-famed Dhammadassin
Dispelled the thick darkness, illumined earth and heaven.
After him, ninety-four world-cycles ago, only one Buddha, by name Siddhattha, appeared in one kalpa. Of his disciples too there were three assemblies; at the first assembly a million million monks were present, at the second nine hundred millions, at the third eight hundred millions. At that time the Bodhisatta, as the ascetic Maṅgala of great glory and gifted with the powers derived from the Higher Wisdom, brought a great jambu fruit and presented it to the Tathāgata. The Teacher, having eaten the fruit, prophesied to the Bodhisatta, saying, “Ninety-four kalpas hence thou shalt become a Buddha.” The city of this Blessed One was called Vebhāra, Jayasena the king was his father, Suphassā his mother, Sambala and Sumitta his chief disciples, Revata his servitor, Sīvalī and Surāmā his chief female disciples, and the Kaṇikāra-tree his Bo-tree. His body was sixty cubits high, and his age a hundred thousand years.
238. After Dhammadassin, the Leader named Siddhattha
Rose like the sun, bringing all darkness to an end.
After him, ninety-two world-cycles ago, two Buddhas, Tissa and Phussa by name, were born in one kalpa. Tissa the Blessed One had three assemblies of his saints; at the first a thousand millions of monks were present, at the second nine hundred millions, at the third eight hundred millions. At that time the Bodhisatta was born as the wealthy and famous warrior-chief Sujāta. When he
239. After Siddhattha, Tissa, the unequalled and unrivalled,
Of infinite virtue and glory, was the chief Guide of the world.
After him appeared the Teacher named Phussa. He too had three assemblies of his saints; at the first assembly six million monks were present, at the second five, at the third three million two hundred thousand. At that time the Bodhisatta, born as the warrior-chief Vijitāvī, laid aside his kingdom, and, taking the vows under the Teacher, learnt the three Piṭakas, and preached the Law to the people, and fulfilled the Perfection of Morality. Comp. pp. 19-20, verses 130-134. And the Buddha prophesied to him in the same manner. The city of this Blessed One was called Kāsi (Benares), Jayasena the king was his father, Sirimā his mother, Surakkhita and Dhammasena his chief disciples, Sabhiya his servitor, Cālā and Upacālā his chief female disciples,
240. In the same Maṇḍakalpa Phussa was the Teacher supreme,
Unequalled, unrivalled, the chief Guide of the world.
After him, ninety world-cycles ago, appeared the Blessed One named Vipassin. He too had three assemblies of his saints; at the first assembly six million eight hundred thousand monks were present; in the second one hundred thousand, in the third eighty thousand. At that time the Bodhisatta, born as the mighty and powerful snake king Atula, gave to the Blessed One a golden chair, inlaid with the seven kinds of gems. To him also he prophesied, saying, “Ninety-one world-cycles hence thou shalt become a Buddha.” The city of this Blessed One was called Bandhumatī, Bandhumā the king was his father, Bandhumatī his mother, Khandha and Tissa his chief disciples, Asoka his servitor, Candā and Candamittā his chief female disciples, and the Bignonia (or Pāṭali-tree) his Bo-tree. His body was eighty cubits high, the effulgence from his body always reached a hundred leagues, and his age was a hundred thousand years.
241. After Phussa, the Supreme Buddha, the best of men,
Vipassin by name, the far-seeing, appeared in the world.
After him, thirty-one world-cycles ago, there were two Buddhas, called Sikhin and Vessabhū. Sikhin too had three assemblies of his saints; at the first assembly a hundred thousand monks were present, at the second eighty thousand, at the third seventy. At that time the
242. After Vipassin came the Supreme Buddha, the best of men,
Sikhin by name, the Conqueror, unequalled and unrivalled.
After him appeared the Teacher named Vessabhū. He also had three assemblies of his saints; at the first eight million priests were present, at the second seven, at the third six. At that time the Bodhisatta, born as the king Sudassana, gave a great donation of robes and other things to the Order, with the Buddha at their head. And taking the vows at his hands, he became righteous in conduct, and found great joy in meditating on the Buddha. To him too the Blessed One prophesied, saying, “Thirty-one world-cycles hence thou shalt be a Buddha.” The city of this Blessed One was called Anopama, Suppatīta the king was his father, Yasavatī his mother, Soṇa and Uttara his chief disciples, Upasanta his servitor, Dāmā and Sumālā his chief female disciples, and the Sal-tree his Bo-tree. His body was sixty cubits high, and his age sixty thousand years.
243. In the same Maṇḍakalpa, the Conqueror named Vessabhū,
Unequalled and unrivalled, appeared in the world.
After him, in this world-cycle, four Buddhas have appeared – Kakusandha, Koṇāgamana, Kassapa, and our Buddha. Kakusandha the Blessed One had one assembly, at which forty thousand monks were present. At that time the Bodhisatta, as Khema the king, gave a great donation, including robes and bowls, to the Order, with the Buddha at their head, and having given also collyriums and drugs, he listened to the Law preached by the Teacher, and took the vows. And to him also the Buddha prophesied. The city of Kakusandha the Blessed One was called Khema, Aggidatta the Brāhman was his father, Visākhā the Brahman woman his mother, Vidhura and Sanjīva his chief disciples, Buddhija his servitor, Sāmā and Campakā his chief female disciples, and the great Sirīsa-tree his Bo-tree. His body was forty cubits high, and his age forty thousand years.
244. After Vessabhū came the perfect Buddha, the best of men,
Kakusandha by name, infinite and hard to equal.
After him appeared the Teacher Koṇāgamaṇa. Of his disciples too there was one assembly, at which thirty thousand monks were present. At that time the Bodhisatta, as Pabbata the king, went, surrounded by his ministers, to the Teacher, and listened to the preaching of the Law. And having given an invitation to the Order, with the Buddha at their head, he kept up a great donation, giving cloths of silk, and of fine texture, and woven with gold. And he took the vows from the Teacher’s hands. And to him too the Buddha prophesied. The city of this Blessed One was called Sobhavatī, Yaññadatta the Brahman was
245. After Kakusandha came the Perfect Buddha, the best of men,
Koṇāgamana by name, Conqueror, chief of the world, supreme among men.
After him the Teacher named Kassapa appeared in the world. Of his disciples too there was one assembly, at which twenty thousand monks were present. At that time the Bodhisatta, as the Brahman youth Jotipāla, accomplished in the three Vedas, was well known on earth and in heaven as the friend of the potter Ghaṭīkāra. Going with him to the Teacher and hearing the Law, he took the vows; and zealously learning the three Piṭakas, he glorified, by faithfulness in duty and in works of supererogation, the religion of the Buddhas. And to him too the Buddha prophesied. The birthplace of the Blessed One was called Benāres, Brahmadatta the brahman was his father, Dhanavatī of the brahman caste his mother, Tissa and Bhāradvāja his chief disciples, Sabbamitta his servitor, Anuḷā and Uruveḷā his chief female disciples, and the Nigrodha-tree his Bo-tree. His body was twenty cubits high, and his age was twenty thousand years.
246. After Koṇāgamana came the Perfect Buddha, best of men,
Kassapa by name, that Conqueror, king of Righteousness, and giver of Light.
Again, in the kalpa in which Dīpaṅkara the Buddha
247. Taṇhaṅkara and Medhaṅkara, and Saranaṅkara,
And the perfect Buddha Dīpaṅkara, and Koṇḍañña best of men,
248. And Maṅgala, and Sumana, and Revata, and Sobhita the sage,
Anomadassin, Paduma, Nārada, Padumuttara,
249. And Sumedha, and Sujāta, Piyadassin the famous one,
Atthadassin, Dhammadassin, Siddhattha guide of the world,
250. Tissa, and Phussa the perfect Buddha, Vipassin, Sikhin, Vessabhū,
Kakusandha, Koṇāgamana, and Kassapa too the Guide, –
251. These were the perfect Buddhas, the sinless ones, the well-controlled;
Appearing like suns, dispelling the thick darkness;
They, and their disciples too, blazed up like flames of fire and went out.
Thus our Bodhisatta has come down to us through four asaṅkheyyas plus one hundred thousand kalpas, making resolve in the presence of the twenty-four Buddhas, beginning with Dīpaṅkara. Now after Kassapa there is no other Buddha beside the present supreme Buddha. So the Bodhisatta received a prophecy from each of the twenty-four Buddhas, beginning at Dīpaṅkara.
And furthermore in accordance with the saying,
“The resolve (to become a Buddha) only succeeds by the combination of eight qualifications: being a man, and of the male sex, and capable of attaining arahatship, association with the Teachers, renunciation of the world, perfection in virtue, acts of self-sacrifice, and earnest determination,”
he combined in himself these eight qualifications. And exerting himself according to the resolve he had made at the feet of Dīpaṅkara, in the words,
“Come, I will search for the Buddha-making conditions, this way and that;” See verse 125, above p. 19.
and beholding the Perfections of Almsgiving and the rest to be the qualities necessary for the making of a Buddha, according to the words,
“Then, as I made my search, I beheld the first Perfection of Almsgiving;” See verse 126, above p. 19.
he came down through many births, fulfilling these Perfections, even up to his last appearance as Vessantara. And the rewards which fell to him on his way, as they fall to all the Bodhisattas who have resolved to become Buddhas, are lauded thus:
252. So the men, perfect in every part, and destined to Buddhahood,
Traverse the long road through thousands of millions of ages.
253. They are not born in hell, nor in the space between the worlds;
They do not become ghosts consumed by hunger, thirst, and want,
And they do not become small animals, even though born to sorrow.
254. When born among men they are not blind by birth,
They are not hard of hearing, they are not classed among the dumb.
255. They do not become women; among hermaphrodites and eunuchs
They are not found, – these men destined to Buddhahood.
256. Free from the deadly sins, everywhere pure-living,
They follow not after vain philosophy, they perceive the working of Karma.
257. Though they dwell in heaven, they are not born into the Unconscious state,
Nor are they destined to rebirth among the devas in the Pure Abodes. In the four highest of the thirty-one spheres of existence the devas are unconscious, and the five worlds below these are called the Pure Abodes.
258. Bent upon renunciation, holy in the world and not of it,
They walk as acting for the world’s welfare, fulfilling all perfection.
While he was thus fulfilling the Perfections, there was no limit to the existences in which he fulfilled the Perfection of Almsgiving. As, for instance, in the times when he was the brahman Akitti, and the brahmin Saṅkha, and the king Dhanañjaya, and Mahā-sudassana, and Maha-govinda, and the king Nimi, and the prince Canda, and the merchant Visayha, and the king Sivi, and Vessantara. So, certainly, in the Birth as the Wise Hare, according to the words, All the following verses down to verse 269 are quotations from the Cariyā-piṭaka.
259. When I saw one coming for food, I offered my own self,
There is no one like me in giving, such is my Perfection of Almsgiving,
he, offering up his own life, acquired the Supreme Perfection called the Perfection of Almsgiving.
In like manner there is no limit to the existences – as, for instance, in the times when he was the snake king Sīlava, and the snake king Campeyya, the snake king Bhūridatta, the snake king Chaddanta, and the prince Alīnasattu, son of king Jayaddisa – in which he fulfilled the Perfection of Goodness. So, certainly, in the Saṅkhapāla Birth, according to the words,
260. Even when piercing me with stakes, and striking me with javelins,
I was not angry with the sons of Bhoja, such is my Perfection of Goodness,
he, offering up himself, acquired the Supreme Perfection, called the Perfection of Goodness.
In like manner there is no limit to existences – as, for instance, in the times when he was the prince Somanassa, and the prince Hatthipāla, and the wise man Ayoghara – in which, forsaking his kingdom, he fulfilled the Perfection of Renunciation. So, certainly, in the Cūla-Sutasoma Birth, according to the words,
261. The kingdom, which was in my power, like spittle I rejected it,
And, rejecting, cared not for it, such is my Perfection of Renunciation,
he, renouncing the kingdom for freedom from the ties of sin, The Saṅgas, of which there are five – lust, hate, ignorance, pride, and false doctrine. acquired the Supreme Perfection, called the Perfection of Renunciation.
In like manner, there is no limit to the existences – as,
262. Searching the matter out by wisdom, I set the brahman free from pain,
There is no one like me in wisdom; such is my Perfection of Wisdom,
he, pointing out the snake which had got into the bellows, acquired the Supreme Perfection called the Perfection of Wisdom.
So, certainly, in the Mahā-Janaka Birth, according to the words,
263. Out of sight of the shore, in the midst of the waters, all men are as if dead,
There is no other way of thinking; such is my Perfection of Resolution,
he, crossing the Great Ocean, acquired the Supreme Perfection called the Perfection of Resolution.
And so in the Khantivāda Birth, according to the words,
264. Even when he struck me with a sharp axe, as if I were a senseless thing,
I was not angry with the king of Kāsi; such is my Perfection of Patience,
he, enduring great sorrow as if he were a senseless thing, acquired the Perfection of Patience.
And so in the Mahā-Sutasoma Birth, according to the words,
265. Guarding the word of Truth, and offering up my life,
I delivered the hundred warriors; such is my Perfection of Truth,
he, offering up his life, and observing truth, obtained the Perfection of Truth.
And in the Mūgapakkha Birth, according to the words,
266. Father and mother I hated not, reputation I hated not,
But Omniscience was dear to me, therefore was I firm in duty,
offering up even his life, and being resolute in duty, he acquired the Perfection of Resolution.
And so in the Ekarāja Birth, according to the words,
267. No man terrifies me, nor am I in fear of any man;
Firm in the power of kindness, in purity I take delight,
regarding not even his life while attaining to kindness, he acquired the Perfection of Good-will.
So in the Somahaṁsa Birth, according to the words,
268. I lay me down in the cemetery, making a pillow of dead bones:
The village children mocked and praised: to all I was indifferent,
he was unshaken in equanimity, even when the villagers tried to vex or please him by spitting or by offering
This is a summary only, the account will be found at length in the Cariyā Piṭaka.
Having thus fulfilled the Perfections, in his birth as Vessantara, according to the words,
269. This earth, unconscious though she be and ignorant of joy or grief,
E’en she by my free-giving’s mighty power was shaken seven times,
he performed such mighty acts of virtue as made the earth to shake. And when, in the fullness of time, he had passed away, he reassumed existence in the Tusita heaven.
Thus should be understood the period, called Dūrenidāna, from the Resolution at the feet of Dīpaṅkara down to this birth in the City of Delight.
II. [The Middle Epoch] [Rhys Davids headed this Avidūre Nidāna, which is not in keeping with the translation of the other sections. The title used here comes from the opening of the Nidānakathā].
It was when the Bodhisatta was thus dwelling in the City of Delight, that the so-called “Buddha proclamation” took place. For three such “Proclamations” take place on earth. These are the three. When they realize that at the end of a hundred thousand years a new dispensation will begin, the devas called Lokabyūhā, with their hair flying and dishevelled, with weeping faces, wiping away their tears with their hands, clad in red garments, and with their clothes all in disorder, wander among men, and make proclamation, saying,
“Friends, one hundred thousand years from now there will be a new dispensation; this system of worlds will be destroyed; even the mighty ocean will dry up; this
Again, when they realize that at the end of a thousand years an omniscient Buddha will appear on earth, the deva-guardians of the world go from place to place and make proclamation, saying, “Friends, at the end of a thousand years from this time a Buddha will appear on earth.” This is called the proclamation of a Buddha [Buddha-halāhalaṁ].
Again, when the devas realize that at the end of a hundred years a universal monarch will appear, they go from place to place and make proclamation, saying, “Friends, at the end of a hundred years from this time a universal monarch will appear on earth.” This is called the proclamation of a Universal monarch [Cakka-vatti-halāhalaṁ]. These are the three great proclamations.
When of these three they hear the Buddha-proclamation, the deities of the ten thousand world-systems assemble together; and having ascertained which of the then living beings will become the Buddha, they go to him and beseech him to do so, – so beseeching him when the first signs appear that his present life is drawing to its close. Accordingly on this occasion they all, with the king of the godss in each world-system, The names are given in the text; the four Mahārājas, Sakka, Suyāma, Santusita, Paranimitta-vasavatti, and Mahā-Brahma. They are the great devas in the different heavenly seats in each world-system (Cakkavāla) of the Buddhist cosmogony. assembled in one world, and going to the future Buddha in the Heaven of Delight, they besought him, saying,
“O Blessed One, when thou wast fulfilling the Ten Perfections, thou didst not do so from a desire for the
But the Great Being, as if he had not granted the prayer of the deities, reflected in succession on the following five important points, viz. the time of his advent; the continent and country where he should appear; the tribe in which he should be born; the mother who should bear him, and the time when her life should be complete.
Of these he first reflected on the Time, thinking, “Is this the time or not?” And on this point he thought, “When the duration of human existence is more than a hundred thousand years, the time has not arrived. Why not? Because in such a period men perceive not that living beings are subject to birth, decay, and death; the threefold pearl of the preaching of the Gospel of the Buddhas is unknown; and when the Buddhas speak of the impermanence of things, of the universality of sorrow, and of the delusion of individuality, people will neither listen nor believe, saying, ‘What is this they talk of?’ At such a time there can be no perception of the truth, and without that the gospel will not lead to salvation. That therefore is not the time. Neither is it the right time when the term of human existence is under one hundred years. Why not? Because then sin is rife among men; and admonition addressed to the sinners finds no place for edification, but like a streak drawn on the water vanishes quickly away. That therefore is not the time. When, however, the term of human existence is under a hundred thousand and over a hundred years, that is the proper time.” Now at that time the age of man was one hundred years.
Then reflecting upon the Continent, and considering the four great continents with their surrounding islands, In the seas surrounding each continent (Mahādīpa) there are five hundred islands. See Hardy’s Manual of Buddhism, p. 13. he thought, “In three of the continents the Buddhas do not – but in Jambudvīpa they do – appear,” and thus he decided on the continent.
Then reflecting upon the District, and thinking, “Jambudvīpa indeed is large, ten thousand leagues in extent; now in which district of it do the Buddhas appear?” he fixed upon the Middle Country. Majjhima-desa, of which the commentator adds, “This is the country thus spoken of in the Vinaya,” quoting the passage at Mahāvagga, v. 13, 12, which gives the boundaries as follows: “To the E. the town Kajaṅgala, and beyond it Mahāsālā; to the S.E. the river Salalavatī; to the S. the town Setakaṇṇika; to the W. the brāhman town and district Thūṇa; and to the N. the Usīraddhaja Mountain.” These are different from the boundaries of the Madhya Desa of later Brahminical literature, on which see Lassen’s ‘Indische Alterthumskunde,’ vol. i. p. 119 (2nd edition). This sacred land was regarded as the centre of Jambudvīpa; that is, of the then known world – just as the Chinese talk of China as the Middle Country, and as other people have looked on their own capital as the navel or centre of the world, and on their world as the centre of the universe. And calling to mind that the town named Kapilavastu was in that country, he concluded that he ought to be born in it.
Then reflecting on the Tribe, he thought, “The Buddhas are not born in the Vaiśya caste, nor the Sūdra caste; but either in the Brāhmana or in the Kṣatriya caste, whichever is then held in the highest repute. The Kṣatriya caste is now predominant, I must be born in it, and Suddhodana the chief shall be my father.” Thus he decided on the tribe.
Then reflecting on the Mother, he thought, “The mother of a Buddha is not eager for love, or cunning after drink, but has fulfilled the Perfections for a hundred thousand ages, and from her birth upwards has kept the five Precepts unbroken. Now this lady Mahā Māyā is
Having thus reflected on these five important points, he favoured the deities by granting their prayer, saying, “The time has arrived, O Blessed Ones, for me to become a Buddha.” He then dismissed them with the words, “You may depart;” and attended by the devas of the heaven of Joy, he entered the grove of Gladness in the City of Delight.
Now in each of the deva-heavens (Devalokas) there is such a grove of Gladness; and there the devas are wont to remind any one of them who is about to depart of the opportunities he has gained by good deeds done in a former birth, saying to him, “When fallen hence, mayest thou be reborn in bliss.” And thus He also, when walking about there, surrounded by devas reminding him of his acquired merit, departed thence; and was conceived in the womb of the Lady Mahā Māyā.
In order to explain this better, the following is the account in fuller detail. At that time, it is said, the Midsummer festival was proclaimed in the City of Kapilavastu, and the people were enjoying the feast. During the seven days before the full moon the Lady Mahā Māyā had taken part in the festivity, as free from intoxication as it was brilliant with garlands and perfumes. On the seventh day she rose early and bathed in perfumed water: and she distributed four hundred thousand pieces in giving great largesse. Decked in her richest attire she partook of the purest food: and vowing to observe the Eight Commandments, she entered her beautiful chamber, and lying on her royal couch she fell asleep and dreamt this dream.
The four king of the gods, the Guardians of the world, lifting her up in her couch, carried her to the Himālaya mountains, and placing her under the Great Sāla-tree, seven
Thus was he conceived at the end of the Midsummer festival. And the next day, having awoke from her sleep, she related her dream to the rāja. The rāja had sixty-four eminent Brāhmans summoned, and had costly seats spread on a spot made ready for the state occasion with green leaves and dalbergia flowers, and he had vessels of gold and silver filled with delicate milk-rice compounded with ghee and sweet honey, and covered with gold and silver bowls. This food he gave them, and he satisfied them with gifts of new garments and of tawny cows. And when he had thus satisfied their every desire, he had the dream told to them, and then he asked them, “What will come of it?”
The Brāhmans said, “Be not anxious, O king! your queen has conceived: and the fruit of her womb will be a man-child; it will not be a woman-child. You will
Now at the moment when the future Buddha made himself incarnate in his mother’s womb, the constituent elements of the ten thousand world-systems quaked, and trembled, and were shaken violently. The Thirty-two Good Omens also were made manifest. In the ten thousand world-systems an immeasurable light appeared. The blind received their sight (as if from very longing to behold this his glory). The deaf heard the noise. The dumb spake one with another. The crooked became straight. The lame walked. All prisoners were freed from their bonds and chains. In each hell the fire was extinguished. The hungry ghosts received food and drink. The wild animals ceased to be afraid. The illness of all who were sick was allayed. All men began to speak kindly. Horses neighed, and elephants trumpeted gently. All musical instruments gave forth each its note, though none played upon them. Bracelets and other ornaments jingled of themselves. All the heavens became clear. A cool soft breeze wafted pleasantly for all. Rain fell out of due season. Water, welling up from the very earth, overflowed. I think this is the meaning of the passage, though Prof. Childers has a different rendering of the similar phrase at verse 104, where I would read “it” instead of “vegetation.” Compare Dāṭhāvaṁsa, i. 45. The birds forsook their flight on high. The rivers stayed their waters’ flow. The waters of the mighty ocean became fresh. Everywhere the earth was covered with lotuses of every colour. All flowers blossomed on land and in water. The trunks, and branches, and twigs of trees were covered with the bloom appropriate to each. On earth tree-lotuses sprang up by sevens together, breaking even through
From the moment of the incarnation, thus brought about, of the future Buddha, four devas, with swords in their hands, stood guard over the Bodhisatta and his mother, to shield them from all harm. Pure in thought, having reached the highest aim and the highest honour, the mother was happy and unwearied; and she saw the child within her as plainly as one could see a thread passed through a transparent gem. I once saw a notice of some mediæval frescoes in which the Holy Child was similarly represented as visible within the Virgin’s womb, but have unfortunately mislaid the reference. But as a womb in which a future Buddha has dwelt, like a sacred relic shrine, can never be occupied by another; the mother of the Bodhisatta, seven days after his birth, died, and was reborn in the City of Delight.
Now other women give birth, some before, some after, the completion of the tenth month, some sitting, and some lying down. Not so the mother of a Bodhisatta. She gives birth to the Bodhisatta, standing, after she has cherished him in her womb for exactly ten months. This is a distinctive quality of the mother of a Buddha elect.
And queen Mahā Māyā, when she too had thus cherished the Bodhisatta in her womb, like oil in a vessel, for ten months, felt herself far gone with child: and wishing to go to her family home she spake to King Suddhodana, and said,
“O king! I wish to go to Devadaha, to the city of my people.”
The king, saying, “It is good,” consented, and had the road from Kapilavastu to Devadaha made plain, and decked
Now between the two towns there is a pleasure-grove of sāla-trees belonging to the people of both cities, and called the Lumbini grove. At that time, from the roots to the topmost branches, it was one mass of fruits and flowers; and amidst the blossoms and branches swarms of various-coloured bees, and flocks of birds of different kinds, roamed, warbling sweetly. The whole of the Lumbini grove was like a wood of variegated creepers, or the well-decorated banqueting hall of some mighty king. The queen beholding it was filled with the desire of besporting herself in the sal-tree grove; and the attendants, carrying the queen, entered the wood. When she came to the monarch sal-tree of the glade, she wanted to take hold of a branch of it, and the branch bending down, like a reed heated by steam, approached within reach of her hand. Stretching out her hand she took hold of the branch, and then her pains came upon her. The people drawing a curtain round her, retired. Standing, and holding the branch of the sal-tree, she was delivered.
That very moment the four pure-minded Mahā Brahma devas came there bringing a golden net; and receiving the future Buddha on that net, they placed him before his mother, saying, “Be joyful, O Lady! a mighty son is born to thee!”
Now other living things, when they leave their mother’s womb, leave it smeared with offensive and impure matter. Not so a Bodhisatta. The future Buddha left his mother’s womb like a preacher descending from a pulpit or a man from a ladder, erect, stretching out his hands and feet, unsoiled by any impurities from contact with his mother’s womb, pure and fair, and shining like a gem placed on
From the hands of the devas who had received him in the golden net, four kings received him on cloth of antelope skins, soft to the touch, such as are used on occasions of royal state. From their hands men received him on a roll of fine cloth; and on leaving their hands he stood up upon the ground and looked towards the East. Thousands of world-systems became visible to him like a single open space. Men and devas offering him sweet-smelling garlands, said, “O great Being, there is no other like thee, how then a greater?” Searching the ten directions (the four points of the compass, the four intermediate points, the zenith and the nadir), and finding no one like himself, he took seven strides, saying, “This is the best direction.” And as he walked the king of the gods Brahma held over him the white umbrella, and the king of the gods Suyāma followed him with the fan, and other deities with the other symbols of royalty in their hands. Then stopping at the seventh step, he sent forth his noble voice and shouted the shout of victory, beginning with, “I am the chief of the world.” The Madurattha Vilāsinī adds the rest, “I am supreme in the world; this is my last birth; henceforth there will be no rebirth for me.”
Now the future Buddha in three births thus uttered his voice immediately on leaving his mother’s womb; in his birth as Mahosadha, in his birth as Vessantara, and in this birth. In the Mahosadha birth the king of the gods Sakka came to him as he was being born, and placing some fine sandal-wood in his hand, went away. He came out from the womb holding this in his fist. His mother asked him, “What is it you hold, dear, as you come?” He answered, “Medicine, mother!” So because he came holding medicine, they gave him the name of Medicine-child (Osadhadāraka). Taking the medicine they kept
Again, in the Vessantara birth, as he left his mother’s womb, he stretched out his right hand, saying, “But is there anything in the house, mother? I would give a gift.” Then his mother, saying, “You are born, dear, in a wealthy family,” took his hand in hers, and placed on it a bag containing a thousand.
Lastly, in this birth he sang the song of victory. Thus the future Buddha in three births uttered his voice as he came out of his mother’s womb. And as at the moment of his conception, so at the moment of his birth, the thirty-two Good Omens were seen.
Now at the very time when our Bodhisatta was born in the Lumbini grove, the lady, the mother of Rāhula, Channa the attendant, Kāḷudāyi the minister, Kanthaka the royal horse, the great Bo-tree, and the four vases full of treasure, also came into being. Of these last, one was two miles, one four, one six, and one eight miles in size. These seven are called the Sahajātā, the Connatal Ones. There is some mistake here, as the list contains nine – or if the four treasures count as one, only six – Connatal Ones. I think before Kaḷudāyi we should insert Ānanda, the loving disciple. So Alabaster and Hardy (Wheel of the Law, p. 106; Manual of Buddhism, p. 146). Bigandet also adds Ānanda, but calls him the son of Amittodana, which is against the common tradition (Life or Legend of Guadama, p. 36, comp. my Buddhism, p. 52). The legend is certainly, as to its main features, an early one, for it is also found, in greatly exaggerated and contradictory terms, in the books of Northern Buddhists (Lalita Vistara, Foucaux, p. 97, Beal, p. 53, comp. Senart, p. 294).
The people of both towns took the Bodhisatta and went to Kapilavastu. On that day too, the choirs of devas in the Tāvatiṁsa heaven were astonished and joyful; and waved their cloaks and rejoiced, saying, “In Kapilavastu,
At that time an ascetic named Kāḷa Devala (a confidential adviser of Suddhodana the king, who had passed through the eight stages of religious attainment) Samāpatti. had eaten his mid-day meal, and had gone to the Tāvatiṁsa heaven, to rest through the heat of the day. Whilst there sitting resting, he saw these devas, and asked them, “Why are you thus glad at heart and rejoicing? Tell me the reason of it.”
The devas replied, “Sir, to Suddhodana the king is born a son, who seated under the Bo-tree will become a Buddha, and will found a Kingdom of Righteousness. Dhammacakkaṁ pavattessati. See my “Buddhism,” p. 45. To us it will be given to see his infinite grace and to hear his word. Therefore it is that we are glad!”
The ascetic, hearing what they said, quickly came down from the deva-world, and entering the king’s house, sat down on the seat set apart for him, and said, “A son they say is born to you, O king! let me see him.”
The king ordered his son to be clad in splendour and brought in to salute the ascetic. But the future Buddha turned his feet round, and planted them on the matted hair of the ascetic. It was considered among the Brāhmans a sign of holiness to wear matted or platted hair. This is referred to in the striking Buddhist verse (Dhammapada, v. 394), “What is the use of platted hair, O fool! What of a garment of skins! Your low yearnings are within you, and the outside thou makest clean!” For in that birth there was no one worthy to be saluted by the Bodhisatta, and if those ignorant ones had placed the head of the future Buddha at the feet of the ascetic, assuredly the ascetic’s head would have split in two. The ascetic rose from his seat, and saying, “It is not right for me to work my own destruction,” he did homage to the Bodhisatta. And the king also seeing this wonder did homage to his own son.
Now the ascetic had the power of calling to mind the events of forty ages (kalpas) in the past, and of forty ages in the future. Looking at the marks of future prosperity on the Bodhisatta’s body, he considered with himself, “Will he become a Buddha or not?” And perceiving that he would most certainly become a Buddha, he smiled, saying, “This is a wonderful child.” Then reflecting, “Will it be given to me to behold him when he has become a Buddha?” he perceived that it would not. “Dying before that time I shall be reborn in the Formless World; so that while a hundred or perhaps a thousand Buddhas appear among men, I shall not be able to go and be taught by them. And it will not be my good fortune to behold this so wonderful child when he has become a Buddha. Great, indeed, is my loss!” And he wept.
The people seeing this, asked, saying, “Our master just now smiled, and has now begun to weep! Will, sir, any misfortune befall our master’s little one?” “Our master” is here, of course, the sage. It is a pretty piece of politeness, not unfrequent in the Jātakas, to address a stranger as a relation. See below, Jātaka No. 3.
“There is no misfortune in him; assuredly he will become a Buddha,” was the reply.
“Why then do you weep?”
“It will not be granted to me,” he said, “to behold so great a man when he has become a Buddha. Great, indeed, is my loss! bewailing myself, I weep.”
Then reflecting, “Will it be granted or not to any one of my relatives to see him as a Buddha?” he saw it would be granted to his nephew Nālaka. So he went to his sister’s house, and said to her, “Where is your son Nālaka?”
“In the house, brother.”
“Call him,” said he. When he came he said to him, “In the family of Suddhodana the king, dear, a son is
Bearing in mind that his uncle was not a man to urge him without a cause, the young man, though born in a family of incalculable wealth, Literally “worth eighty and seven times a koṭi,” both eighty and seven being lucky numbers. straightway took out of the inner store a yellow suit of clothes and an earthenware pot, and shaved his head and put on the robes. And saying, “I take the vows for the sake of the greatest Being upon earth,” he prostrated himself on the ground and raised his joined hands in adoration towards the Bodhisatta. Then putting the begging bowl in a bag, and carrying it on his shoulder, he went to the Himālaya mountains, and lived the life of a monk.
When the Tathāgata had attained to complete Enlightenment, Nālaka went to him and heard the way of salvation. Literally, “and caused him to declare, ‘The way of salvation for Nālaka.’ ” Perhaps some Sutta is so called. Tathagata, “gone, or come, in like manner; subject to the fate of all men,” is an adjective applied originally to all mortals, but afterwards used as a favourite epithet of Gotama. Childers compares the use of ‘Son of Man.’ He then returned to the Himālayas, and reached Arahatship. And when he had lived seven months longer as a pilgrim along the most excellent Path, he past away when standing near a Golden Hill, by that final extinction in which no part or power of man remains. Anupādisesāya Nibbāna-dhātuyā parinibbāyi. In the translator’s “Buddhism,” p. 113, an analysis of this phrase will be found.
Now on the fifth day they bathed the Bodhisatta’s head, saying, “Let us perform the rite of choosing a name for him.” So they perfumed the king’s house with four kinds of odours, and decked it with Dalbergia flowers, and made ready rice well cooked in milk. Then they sent for one hundred and eight Brāhmans who had mastered the three Vedas, and seated them in the king’s house, and gave them the pleasant food to eat, and did
Among them –
270. Rāma, and Dhaja, and Lakkhaṇa, and Mantin,
Koṇḍañña and Bhoja, Suyāma and Sudatta,
These eight Brāhmans then were there,
Their senses all subdued; and they declared the charm.
Now these eight Brāhmans were recognizers of signs; it was by them that the dream on the night of conception had been interpreted. Seven of them holding up two fingers prophesied in the alternative, saying, “If a man having such marks should remain a householder, he becomes a Universal Monarch; but if he takes the vows, he becomes a Buddha.” And, so saying, they declared all the glory and power of a Cakkavatti king.
But the youngest of all of them, a young Brāhman whose family name was Koṇḍañña, beholding the perfection of the auspicious marks on the Bodhisatta, raised up one finger only, and prophesied without ambiguity, and said, “There is no sign of his remaining amidst the cares of household life. Verily, he will become a Buddha, and remove the veils of sin and ignorance from the world.”
This man already, under former Buddhas, had made a deep resolve of holiness, and had now reached his last birth. Therefore it was that he surpassed the other seven in wisdom; that he perceived how the Bodhisatta would only be subject to this one life; and that, raising only one finger, he so prophesied, saying, “The lot of one possessed of these marks will not be cast amidst the cares of household life. Verily he will become a Buddha!”
Now those Brāhmans went home, and addressed their
But the young Brāhman Koṇḍañña was free from disease; and for the sake of the wisdom of the Great Being he left all that he had and made the great renunciation. And coming in due course to Uruvelā, he thought, “Behold how pleasant is this place! how suitable for the exertions of a young man desirous of wrestling with sin.” So he took up his residence there.
And when he heard that the Great Being had taken the vows, he went to the sons of those Brāhmans, and said to them, “Siddhattha the prince has taken the vows. Assuredly he will become a Buddha. If your fathers were in health they would today leave their homes, and take the vows: and now, if you should so desire, come, I will take the vows in imitation of him.” But all of them were not able to agree with one accord; three did not give up the world; the other four made Koṇḍañña the Brāhman their leader, and took the vows. It was those five who came to be called “the Company of the Five Elders.”
Then the king asked, “After seeing what, will my son forsake the world?”
“The four Omens,” was the reply.
“A man worn out by age, a, sick man, a dead body, and a monk.”
The king thought, “From this time let no such things come near my son. There is no good of my son’s becoming a Buddha. I should like to see my son exercising rule and sovereignty over the four great
That day also, of eighty thousand clansmen assembled in the festival hall, each one dedicated a son, saying, “Whether this child becomes a Buddha or a king, we give each a son; so that if he shall become a Buddha, he shall live attended and honoured by Kṣatriya monks, and if he shall become a king, he shall live attended and honoured by Kṣatriya nobles.” Kṣatriya was the warrior caste. And the rāja appointed nurses of great beauty, and free from every fault, for the Bodhisatta. So the Bodhisatta grew up in great splendour and surrounded by an innumerable retinue.
Now one day the king held the so-called Ploughing Festival. On that day they ornament the town like a palace of the gods. All the slaves and servants, in new garments and crowned with sweet-smelling garlands, assemble in the king’s house. For the king’s work a thousand ploughs are yoked. On this occasion one hundred and eight minus one were, with their oxen-reins and cross-bars, ornamented with silver. But the plough for the king to use was ornamented with red gold; and so also the horns and reins and goads of the oxen.
The king, leaving his house with a great retinue, took his son and went to the spot. There there was a Jambu-tree thick with leaves and giving a dense shade. Under it the rāja had the child’s couch laid out; and over the couch a canopy spread inlaid with stars of gold, and round it a curtain hung. Then leaving a guard there, the rāja, clad in splendour and attended by his ministers, went away to plough.
At such a time the king takes hold of a golden plough, the attendant ministers one hundred and eight minus one silver ploughs, and the peasants the rest of the ploughs. Holding them they plough this way and that way. The rāja goes from one side to the other, and comes from the other back again.
On this occasion the king had great success; and the nurses seated round the Bodhisatta, thinking, “Let us go to see the king’s glory,” came out from within the curtain, and went away. The future Buddha, looking all round, and seeing no one, got up quickly, seated himself cross-legged, and holding his breath, sank into the first Jhāna. A state of religious meditation. A full explanation is given in the translator’s “Buddhism,” pp. 174-176.
The nurses, engaged in preparing various kinds of food, delayed a little. The shadows of the other trees turned round, but that of the Jambu-tree remained steady and circular in form. The nurses, remembering their young master was alone, hurriedly raised the curtain and returned inside it. Seeing the Bodhisatta sitting cross-legged, and that miracle of the shadow, they went and told the rāja, saying, “O king! the prince is seated in such and such a manner; and while the shadows of the other trees have turned, that of the Jambu-tree is fixed in a circle!”
And the rāja went hurriedly and saw that miracle, and did homage to his son, saying, “This, Beloved One, is the second homage paid to thee!”
But the Bodhisatta in due course grew to manhood. And the king had three mansions made, suitable for the three seasons, one nine stories high, one seven stories high, and one five stories high; and he provided him with forty thousand dancing girls. So the Bodhisatta, surrounded by well-dressed dancing girls, like a god surrounded by troops of houris, and attended by musical instruments which played of themselves, lived, as the seasons changed,
Whilst he was thus in the enjoyment of great prosperity the following talk sprang up in the public assembly of his clansmen: “Siddhattha lives devoted to pleasure; not one thing does he learn; if war should break out, what would he do?”
The king sent for the future Buddha, and said to him, “Your relations, Beloved One, say that you learn nothing, and are given up to pleasure: now what do you think you should do about this?”
“O king! there is no art it is necessary for me to learn. Send the crier round the city, that I may show my skill. Seven days from now I will show my kindred what I can do.”
The king did so. The Bodhisatta assembled those so skilled in archery that they could split even a hair, and shoot as quick as lightning; and then, in the midst of the people, he showed his relatives his twelvefold skill, and how unsurpassed he was by other masters of the bow. A gloss adds, “This should be understood as is related at full in the Sarabhaṅga Jātaka.” So the assembly of his clansmen doubted no longer.
Now one day the future Buddha, wanting to go to his pleasure ground, told his charioteer to harness his chariot. The latter accordingly decked the gloriously beautiful chariot with all its trappings, and harnessed to it four state horses of the Sindhi breed, and white as the leaves of the white lotus flower. And he informed the Bodhisatta. So the Bodhisatta ascended the chariot, resplendent like a mansion in the skies, and went towards the garden.
The devas thought, “The time for young Siddhattha to attain Enlightenment is near, let us show him the Omens.” And they did so by making a son of the gods represent a man wasted by age, with decayed teeth
Then the Bodhisatta asked his charioteer, as is told in the Mahāpadāna, “What kind of man is this, whose very hair is not as that of other men?” When he heard his servant’s answer, he said, “Shame then be to life! since the decay of every living being is notorious!” and with agitated heart he turned back at that very spot and re-entered his palace.
The king asked, “Why does my son turn back so hurriedly?”
“He has seen an old man,” they said; “and having seen an old man, he will forsake the world.”
“By this you ruin me,” exclaimed the rāja; “quickly get ready concerts and plays to be performed before my son. So long as he continues in the enjoyment of pleasure, he will not turn his thoughts to forsaking the world!” Then increasing the guards, he placed them at each point of the compass, at intervals of half a league.
Again, one day, when the future Buddha, as he was going to his pleasure ground, saw a sick man represented by the gods, he made the same inquiry as before; and then, with agitated heart, turned back and re-entered his palace. The king also made the same inquiry, and gave the same orders as before; and again increasing the guard, placed them all round at a distance of three-quarters of a league.
Once more, when the future Buddha, as he was going to his pleasure ground, saw a dead man represented by the gods, he made the same inquiry as before; and then, with agitated heart, turned back and re-entered his palace. The king also made the same inquiry, and gave the same orders as before; and again increasing the guard, placed them all round at a distance of a league.
Once again, when the future Buddha, as he was going to his pleasure ground, saw one who had abandoned the world, carefully and decently clad, he asked his charioteer, “Friend, what kind of man is that?” As at that time there was no Buddha at all in the world, the charioteer understood neither what a mendicant was nor what were his distinguishing characteristics; but nevertheless, inspired by the gods, he said, “That is a mendicant friar;” and described the advantages of renouncing the world. And that day the future Buddha, cherishing the thought of renouncing the world, went on to his pleasure ground. The repeaters of the Dīgha Nikāya, The members of the Buddhist Order of mendicant friars were in the habit of selecting some book or books of the Buddhist Scriptures, which it was their especial duty to learn by heart, repeat to their pupils, study, expound, and preach from. Thus the Dīgha Nikāya, or collection of long treatises, had a special school of “repeaters” (bhāṇakā) to itself. however, say that he saw all the four Omens on the same day, and then went to his pleasure ground.
There he enjoyed himself during the day and bathed in the beautiful lake; and at sunset seated himself on the royal resting stone to be robed. Now his attendants brought robes of different colours, and various kinds of ornaments, and garlands, and perfumes, and ointments, and stood around him.
At that moment the throne on which Sakka was seated became warm. At critical moments in the lives of persons of importance in the religious legends of Buddhist India, the seat of the great deva Sakka becomes warm. Fearful of losing his temporary bliss, he then descends himself, or sends Vissakamma, the Buddhist Vulcan, to act as a deus ex machinâ, and put things straight. And thinking to himself, “Who is it now who wants me to descend from hence?” he perceived that the time for the adornment of the future Buddha had come. And he said to Vissakamma, “Friend Vissakamma, the young noble Siddhattha, today, at midnight, will carry out the Great Renunciation. This is the last time he will be clad in splendour. Go to the pleasure ground and adorn him with heavenly array.”
By the miraculous power which devas have, he accordingly,
And when he was arrayed in all his splendour, – the musicians the while exhibiting each one his peculiar skill, the Brāhmans honouring him with words of joy and victory, and the men of lower castes with festive cries and shouts of praise; – he ascended his superbly decorated car.
At that time Suddhodana the king, who had heard that the mother of Rāhula had brought forth a son, sent a message, saying, “Make known my joy to my son!” The future Buddha, hearing this, said, “An impediment has come into being, a bond has come into being.” When the king asked, “What did my son say?” and heard that saying; he gave command, “From henceforth let Rāhula (impediment) be my grandson’s name.” But the Bodhisatta, riding in his splendid chariot, entered the town with great magnificence and exceeding glory.
At that time a noble virgin, Kisā Gotamī by name, had gone to the flat roof of the upper story of her palace, and she beheld the beauty and majesty of the Bodhisatta as he was proceeding through the city. Pleased and delighted at the sight, she burst forth into this song of joy: –
271. Blessed indeed is that mother, –
Blessed indeed is that father, –
Blessed indeed is that wife, –
Who owns this Lord so glorious!
Hearing this, the Bodhisatta thought to himself, “On catching sight of such a one the heart of his mother is made happy, the heart of his father is made happy, the heart of his wife is made happy! This is all she says. But by what can every heart attain to lasting happiness and peace?” And to him whose mind was estranged from sin the answer came, “When the fire of lust is gone out, then peace is gained; when the fires of hatred and delusion are gone out, then peace is gained; when the troubles of mind, arising from pride, credulity, and all other sins, have ceased, then peace is gained! Sweet is the lesson this singer makes me hear, for the Nirvāṇa of Peace is that which I have been trying to find out. This very day I will break away from household cares! I will renounce the world! I will follow only after the Nirvāṇa itself! The force of this passage is due to the fullness of meaning which, to the Buddhist, the words
Then loosing from his neck a string of pearls worth a hundred thousand, he sent it to Kisā Gotamī as a teacher’s fee. Delighted at this, she thought, “Prince Siddhattha has fallen in love with me, and has sent me a present.” But the Bodhisatta, on entering his palace in great splendour, reclined on a couch of state.
Thereupon women clad in beautiful array, skilful in
And the women, saying, “He, for whose sake we were performing, is gone to sleep? Why should we play any longer?” laid aside the instruments they held, and lay down to sleep. The lamps fed with sweet-smelling oil were just burning out. The Bodhisatta, waking up, sat cross-legged on the couch, and saw them with their stage properties laid aside and sleeping – some foaming at the mouth, some grinding their teeth, some yawning, some muttering in their sleep, some gaping, and some with their dress in disorder – plainly revealed as mere horrible sources of mental distress.
Seeing this woeful change in their appearance, he became more and more disgusted with lusts. To him that magnificent apartment, as splendid as Sakka’s residence in heaven, began to seem like a charnel-house full of loathsome corpses. Life, whether in the worlds subject to passion, or in the worlds of form, or in the formless worlds, seemed to him like staying in a house that had become the prey of devouring flames. Literally, “The three Bhavas seemed like houses on fire.” The three Bhavas are Existence in the Kāma-loka, and the Rūpa-loka and the Arūpa-loka respectively: that is, existence in the worlds whose inhabitants are subject to passion, have material forms, and have immaterial forms respectively. An utterance of intense feeling broke from him – “It all oppresses me! It is intolerable!” and his mind turned ardently to the state of those who have renounced the world. Resolving that very day to accomplish the Great Renunciation, he rose from his couch, went to the door and called out, “Who is there?”
Channa, who had been sleeping with his head on the threshold, answered, “It is I, sir, Channa.”
Then said he, “I am resolved today to accomplish the Great Renunciation – saddle me a horse.”
So Channa went to the stable-yard, and entering the stables saw by the light of the lamps the mighty steed Kanthaka, standing at a pleasant spot under a canopy of cloth, beautified with a pattern of jasmine flowers. “This is the very one I ought to saddle today,” thought he; and he saddled Kanthaka.
Even whilst he was being saddled the horse knew, “He is saddling me so tightly, and not as on other days for such rides as those to the pleasure grounds, because my master is about today to carry out the Great Renunciation.” Then, glad at heart, he neighed a mighty neigh; and the sound thereof would have penetrated over all the town, had not the gods stopped the sound, and let no one hear it.
Now after the Bodhisatta had sent Channa on this errand, he thought, “I will just look at my son.” And rising from his couch he went to the apartments of Rāhula’s mother, and opened her chamber door. At that moment a lamp, fed with sweet-smelling oil, was burning dimly in the inner chamber. The mother of Rāhula was asleep on a bed strewn with many jasmine flowers, Literally, “about an ammaṇa (i.e. five or six bushels) of the large jasmine and the Arabian jasmine.” and resting her hand on the head of her son. Stopping with his foot on the threshold, the Bodhisatta thought, “If I lift her hand to take my son, she will awake; and that will prevent my going away. I will come back and see him when I have become a Buddha.” And he left the palace.
Now what is said in the Jātaka commentary, “At that time Rāhula was seven days old,” is not found in the other commentaries. Therefore the view given above should be accepted. The Jātaka Commentary here referred to is, no doubt, the older commentary in Elu, or old Sinhalese, on which the present work is based.
And when the Bodhisatta had left the palace, he went to his horse, and said, “My good Kanthaka, do thou save me this
Kanthaka was eighteen cubits in length from the nape of his neck, and of proportionate height; he was strong and fleet, and white all over like a clean chank shell. If he should neigh or paw the ground, the sound would penetrate through all the town. Therefore the devas so muffled the sound of his neighing that none could hear it; and placed, at each step, the palms of their hands under his feet.
The Bodhisatta rode on the mighty back of the mighty steed; told Channa to catch hold of its tail, and arrived at midnight at the great gate of the city.
Now the king thinking, “In that way the Bodhisatta will not be able at any time to open the city gate and get away,” had placed a thousand men at each of the two gates to stop him. The Bodhisatta was mighty and strong according to the measure of elephants as ten thousand million elephants, and according to the measure of men as a million million men. He thought, “If the door does not open, sitting on Kanthaka’s back with Channa holding his tail, I will press Kanthaka with my thighs, and jumping over the city rampart, eighteen cubits high, I will get away!” Channa thought, “If the door is not opened, I will take my master on my neck, and putting my right hand round Kanthaka’s girth, I will hold him close to my waist, and so leap over the rampart and get away!” Kanthaka thought, “If the door is not opened, I will spring up with my master seated as he is on my back, and Channa holding by my tail, and will leap over the rampart and get away!” And if the door had not been opened, verily one or other of those three would have accomplished that whereof he had thought. But the deva residing at the gate opened it.
At that moment Māra came there with the intention
“Who are you?” said he.
“I am Vasavatti,” was the reply.
“Māra! Well do I know that the wheel of empire would appear to me; but it is not sovereignty that I desire. I will become a Buddha, and make the ten thousand world-systems shout for joy.”
Then thought the Tempter to himself: “Now, from this time forth, whenever a thought of lust or anger or malice shall arise within you, I will get to know of it.” And he followed him, ever watching for some slip, as closely as a shadow which never leaves its object.
But the future Buddha, making light of the kingdom of the world, thus within his reach, – casting it away as one would saliva, – left the city with great honour on the full-moon day of Āsāḷhi, when the moon was in the Uttarāsāḷha lunar mansion (i.e. on the [last day of the lunar month in] [Ed: original read: “On the 1st July”, which a was wrong interpretation. The full moon is the last day of the lunar month in Buddhist calculations]. July). And when he had left the city a desire sprang up within him to gaze upon it; and the instant he did so the broad earth revolved like a potter’s wheel, and was stayed: saying as it were to him, “O Great Being, there is no need for you to stop in order to fulfil your wish.” So the Bodhisatta, with his face towards the city, gazed at it; and he fixed at that place a spot for the Kanthaka-Nivattana Cetiya (that is, The Shrine of Kanthaka’s Staying – a Dāgaba afterwards built where this miracle was believed to have happened). And keeping Kanthaka in the direction in which he was going, he went on with great honour and exceeding glory.
For then, they say, devas in front of him carried sixty thousand torches, and behind him too, and on his right hand, and on his left. And while some deities, undefined
Advancing in this pomp and glory, the Bodhisatta, in that one night, passed beyond three kingdoms, and arrived, at the end of thirty leagues, at the bank of the river called Anomā. But why could not the horse go still further? It was not through want of power: for he could go from one edge of the round world to the other, as easily as one could step across the circumference of a wheel lying on its side; – and doing this in the forenoon, he could return and eat the food prepared for him. But on this occasion he was constantly delayed by having to drag himself along, and break his way through the mass of garlands and flowers, cast down from heaven in such profusion by the devas, and the Snakes, and the Winged Creatures, that his very flanks were hid. Hence it was that he only got over thirty leagues.
Now the Bodhisatta, stopping at the river side, asked Channa, “What is this river called?”
“Its name, my lord, is Anomā.”
“And so also our renunciation of the world shall be called Anomā (illustrious),” said he; and signalling to his horse, by pressing it with his heel, the horse sprang over the river, five or six hundred yards in breadth, and stood on the opposite bank.
The Bodhisatta, getting down from the horse’s back, stood on the sandy beach, extending there like a sheet of silver,
“But I also, my lord, will become a hermit.”
“You cannot be allowed to renounce the world, you must go back,” he said. Three times he refused this request of Channa’s; and he delivered over to him both the ornaments and Kanthaka.
Then he thought, “These locks of mine are not suited for a mendicant. Now it is not right for any one else to cut the hair of a future Buddha, so I will cut them off myself with my sword.” Then, taking his sword in his right hand, and holding the plaited tresses, together with the diadem on them, with his left, he cut them off. So his hair was thus reduced to two inches in length, and curling from the right, it lay close to his head. It remained that length as long as he lived, and the beard the same. There was no need at all to shave either hair or beard any more.
The Bodhisatta, saying to himself, “If I am to become a Buddha, let it stand in the air; if not, let it fall to the ground;” threw the hair and diadem together as he held them towards the sky. The plaited hair and the jewelled turban went a league off and stopped in the air. The king of the gods Sakka caught sight of it with his divine eye, and receiving it into a jewel casket, a league high, he placed it in the Tāvatiṁsa heaven, in the Dāgaba of the Diadem.
272. Cutting off his hair, with pleasant perfumes sweet,
The Lordly Being cast it to the sky.
The thousand-eyed one, Sakka, the sky God,
Received it humbly in a golden casket.
Again the Bodhisatta thought, “This my raiment of Benares muslin is not suitable for a mendicant.” Now the deva Ghaṭikāra, who had formerly been his friend in the time of Kassapa Buddha, was led by his
273. The three robes, and the alms bowl,
Razor, needle, and girdle,
And a water strainer – these eight
Are the wealth of the monk devout.
Taking these eight requisites of a mendicant, he gave them to him. The Bodhisatta dressed himself in the outward signs of an Arahat, and adopted the sacred garb of Renunciation; and he enjoined upon Channa to go and, in his name, assure his parents of his safety. And Channa did homage to the Bodhisatta reverently, and departed.
Now Kanthaka stood listening to the Bodhisatta as he talked with Channa. And thinking, “From this time forth I shall never see my master more!” he was unable to bear his grief. And going out of their sight, he died of a broken heart; and was reborn in the Tāvatiṁsa heaven as a deva, with the name of Kanthaka. So far the sorrow of Channa had been but single; now torn with the second sorrow of Kanthaka’s death, he returned, weeping and bewailing, to the city.
But the Bodhisatta, having renounced the world, spent seven days in a mango grove called Anūpiya, hard by that spot, in the joy of salvation. Then he went on foot in one day to Rājagaha, a distance of thirty leagues, The word rendered league is yojana, said by Childers (Dictionary, s.v.) to be twelve miles, but really only between seven and eight miles. See my Ancient Coins and Measures, pp. 16, 17. The thirty yojanas here mentioned, together with the thirty from Kapilavastu to the river Anomā, make together sixty, or four hundred and fifty miles from Kapilavastu to Rājagaha, which is far too much for the direct distance. There is here, I think, an undesigned coincidence between Northern and Southern accounts; for the Lalita Vistara (Chap. xvi. at the commencement) makes the Bodhisatta go to Rājagaha via Vesāli, and this would make the total distance exactly sixty yojanas.
The guards went to the king and said, describing him, “O king! such and such a being is begging through the town. We cannot tell whether he is a god, or a man, or a Nāga, or a Supaṇṇa, These are the superhuman Snakes and Winged Creatures, who were supposed, like the gods or angels, to be able to assume the appearance of men. or what he is.”
The king, watching the Great Being from his palace, became full of wonder, and gave orders to his guards, saying, “Go, my men, and see. If it is a superhuman being, it will disappear as soon as it leaves the city; if a god, it will depart through the air; if a snake, it will dive into the earth; if a man, it will eat the food just as it is.”
But the Great Being collected scraps of food. And when he perceived there was enough to support him, he left the city by the gate at which he had entered. And seating himself, facing towards the East, under the shadow of the Paṇḍava rock, he began to eat his meal. His stomach, however, turned, and made as if it would come out of his mouth. Then, though distressed by that revolting food, for in that birth he had never even beheld such food with his eyes, he himself admonished himself, saying, “Siddhattha, it is true you were born in a family where food and drink were easily obtainable, into a state of life where your food was perfumed third-season’s rice, with various curries of the finest kinds. But ever since you saw one clad in a mendicant’s garb, you have been thinking, ‘When shall I become like him, and live by begging my food? would that that time were come!’ And now that you have left all for that very purpose, what is this that you are doing?” And overcoming his feelings, he ate the food.
The king’s men saw this, and went and told him what had happened. Hearing what his messengers said, the king quickly left the city, and approaching the Bodhisatta, was so pleased at the mere sight of his dignity and grace, that he offered him all his kingdom.
The Bodhisatta said, “In me, O king! there is no desire after wealth or sinful pleasures. It is in the hope of attaining to complete enlightenment that I have left all.” And when the king gained not his consent, though he asked it in many ways, he said, “Assuredly thou wilt become a Buddha! Deign at least after thy Buddhahood to come to my kingdom first.”
This is here concisely stated; but the full account, beginning, “I sing the Renunciation, how the Wise One renounced the world,” will be found on referring to the Pabbajjā Sutta and its commentary.
And the Bodhisatta, granting the king’s request, went forward on his way. And joining himself to Āḷāra Kāḷāma, and to Uddaka, son of Rāma, he acquired their systems of ecstatic trance. But when he saw that that was not the way to wisdom, he left off applying himself to the realization of that system of Attainment. Samāpatti. And with the intention of carrying out the Great Struggle against sin, and showing his might and resolution to gods and men, he went to Uruvelā. And saying, “Pleasant, indeed, is this spot!” he took up his residence there, and devoted himself to the Great Struggle. The Great Struggle played a great part in the Buddhist system of moral training; it was the wrestling with the flesh by which a true Buddhist overcame delusion and sin, and attained to Nirvāṇa. It is best explained by its fourfold division into 1. Mastery over the passions. 2. Suppression of sinful thoughts. 3. Meditation on the seven kinds of Wisdom (Bodhi-aṅgā, see ‘Buddhism’ p. 173); and 4. Fixed attention, the power of preventing the mind from wandering. It is also called Sammappadhāna, Right Effort, and forms the subject of the Mahā-Padhāna Sutta, in the Dīgha Nikāya [DN 14]. The system was, of course, not worked out at the time here referred to; but throughout the chronicle the biographer ascribes to Gotama, from the beginning, a knowledge of the whole Buddhist theory as afterwards elaborated. For to our author that theory had no development, it was Eternal and Immutable Truth already revealed by innumerable previous Buddhas.
And those five mendicants, Koṇḍañña and the rest, begging their way through villages, market towns, and royal cities, met with the Bodhisatta there. And for six years they stayed by him and served him, while he was carrying out the Great Struggle, with different kinds of service, such as sweeping out the hermitage, and so on; thinking the while, “Now he will become a Buddha! now he will become a Buddha!”
Now the Bodhisatta thought, “I will perform the uttermost penance.” And he brought himself to live on one seed of the oil plant, or one grain of rice, and even to fast entirely; but the devas gathered the sap of life and infused it into him through the pores of his skin. By this fasting, however, he became as thin as a skeleton; the colour of his body, once fair as gold, became dark; and the Thirty-two signs of a Great Being disappeared. And one day, when walking up and down, plunged in intense meditation, he was overcome by severe pain; and he fainted, and fell.
Then certain of the devas began to say, “The mendicant Gotama is dead.” But others said, “Such is the condition of Arahats (saints).” And those who thought he was dead went and told Suddhodana the king, saying, “Your son is dead.”
“Did he die after becoming a Buddha, or before?”
“He was unable to attain to Buddhahood, and fell down and died in the midst of the Great Struggle.”
When the king heard this, he refused to credit it, saying, “I do not believe it. My son could never die without attaining to Wisdom!”
If you ask, “Why did not the king believe it?” it was because he had seen the miracles at the foot of the Jambu-tree, and on the day when Kāḷa Devala had been compelled to do homage to the Bodhisatta.
And the Bodhisatta recovered consciousness again, and stood up. And the devas went and told the king, “Your
And the Great Being’s six years’ penance became noised abroad, as when the sound of a great bell is heard in the sky. But he perceived that penance was not the way to Wisdom; and begging through the villages and towns, he collected ordinary material food, and lived upon it. And the Thirty-two signs of a Great Being appeared again upon him, and his body became fair in colour, like unto gold.
Then the five attendant mendicants thought, “This man has not been able, even by six years’ penance, to attain Omniscience; how can he do so now, when he goes begging through the villages, and takes material food? He is altogether lost in the Struggle. To think of getting spiritual advantage from him is like a man, who wants to bathe his head, thinking of using a dew-drop. What is to be got from him?” And leaving the Great Being, they took each his robes and begging bowl, and went eighteen leagues away, and entered Isipatana (a suburb of Benāres, famous for its schools of learning).
Now at that time, at Uruvelā, in the village Senāni, there was a girl named Sujātā, born in the house of Senāni the landowner, who, when she had grown up, prayed to a Nigrodha-tree, saying, “If I am married into a family of equal rank, and have a son for my firstborn child, then I will spend every year a hundred thousand on an offering to thee.” And this her prayer took effect.
And in order to make her offering, on the full-moon day of the month of May, in the sixth year of the Great Being’s penance, she had driven in front of her a thousand cows into a meadow of rich grass. With their milk she had fed five hundred cows, with theirs two hundred and fifty, and so on down to eight. Thus aspiring after quantity, and sweetness, and strength, she did what is called, “Working the milk in and in.”
And early on the full-moon day in the month of May, thinking, “Now I will make the offering,” she rose up in the morning early and milked those eight cows. Of their own accord the calves kept away from the cows’ udders, and as soon as the new vessels were placed ready, streams of milk poured into them. Seeing this miracle, Sujātā, with her own hands, took the milk and poured it into new pans; and with her own hands made the fire and began to cook it. When that rice-milk was boiling, huge bubbles rising, turned to the right and ran round together; not a drop fell or was lost; not the least smoke rose from the fireplace.
At that time the four guardian devas of the world came from the four points of the compass, and kept watch by the fireplace. The king of the gods Brahma held over it a canopy of state. The king of the gods Sakka put the sticks together and lighted the fire. By their divine power the gods, gathering so much of the Sap of life as would suffice for the support of all the men and devas of the four continents, and their circumjacent two thousand isles – as easily as a man crushing the honey-comb formed round a stick would take the honey – they infused it into the milk-rice. At other times the gods infused the Sap of life into each mouthful of rice as he took it; but on the day of his Buddhahood, and on the day of his Death, they infused it into the very vessel-full of rice itself.
Sujātā, seeing that so many wonders appeared to her on this one day, said to her slave-girl Puṇṇā, “Friend Puṇṇā! Very gracious is our god today! Never before have I seen such a wonder. Go at once and keep watch by the holy place.” “Very good, my lady,” replied she; and ran and hastened to the foot of the tree.
Now the Bodhisatta had seen that night five dreams, and on considering their purport he had drawn the conclusion, “Verily this day I shall become a Buddha.” And at the end of the night he washed and dressed himself, and
And Puṇṇā coming there saw the Bodhisatta sitting at the foot of the tree and lighting up all the region of the East; and she saw the whole tree in colour like gold from the rays issuing from his body. And she thought, “Today our god, descending from the tree, is seated to receive our offering in his own hand.” And excited with joy, she returned quickly, and announced this to Sujātā. Sujātā, delighted at the news, gave her all the ornaments befitting a daughter, saying, “Today, from this time forth, be thou to me in the place of an elder daughter!”
And since, on the day of attaining Buddhahood, it is proper to receive a golden vessel worth a hundred thousand, she conceived the idea, “We will put the milk-rice into a vessel of gold.” And sending for a vessel of gold worth a hundred thousand, she poured out the well-cooked food to put it therein. All the rice-milk flowed into the vessel, like water from a lotus leaf, and filled the vessel full. Taking it she covered it with a golden dish, and wrapped it in a cloth. And adorning herself in all her splendour, she put the vessel on her head, and went with great dignity to the Nigrodha-tree. Seeing the Bodhisatta, she was filled with exceeding joy, taking him for the tree-god; and advanced, bowing, from the spot whence she saw him. Taking the vessel from her head, she uncovered it; and fetching sweet-scented water in a golden vase, she approached the Bodhisatta, and stood by.
The earthenware pot given him by the deva Ghaṭikāra, which had never till then left him, disappeared at that moment. Not seeing his pot, the Bodhisatta stretched out his right hand, and took the water. Sujātā placed the vessel, with the milk-rice in it, in the hand of the Great Being. The Great Being looked at her. Pointing to the food, she said, “O, my lord! accept
But the Bodhisatta rising from his seat, and leaving the tree on the right hand, took the vessel and went to the bank of the Nerañjarā river, down into which on the day of their complete Enlightenment so many thousand Bodhisattas had gone. The name of that bathing place is the Supatiṭṭhita ferry. Putting the vessel on the bank, he descended into the river and bathed.
And having dressed himself again in the garb of the Arahats worn by so many thousand Buddhas, he sat down with his face to the East; and dividing the rice into forty-nine balls of the size of so many single-seeded Palmyra fruits, he ate all that sweet milk-rice without any water. The fruit of the Palmyra (Borassus Flabelliformis) has always three seeds. I do not understand the allusion to a one-seeded Palmyra. Now that was the only food he had for forty-nine days, during the seven times seven days he spent, after he became a Buddha, at the foot of the Tree of Wisdom. During all that time he had no other food; he did not bathe; nor wash his teeth; nor feel the cravings of nature. He lived on the joy arising from intense Meditation, on the joy arising from the Noble Path, on the joy arising from the Fruit thereof.
But when he had finished eating that milk-rice, he took the golden vessel, and said, “If I shall be able today to become a Buddha, let this pot go up the stream; if not, let it go down the stream!” and he threw it into the water. And it went, in spite of the stream, eighty cubits up the river in the middle of the stream, all the way as quickly as a fleet horse. And diving into a whirlpool it went to the palace of Kāḷa Nāgarāja (the Black Snake King); and striking against the bowls from which the three previous
But the Bodhisatta spent the heat of the day in a grove of sāla-trees in full bloom on the bank of the river. And in the evening, when the flowers droop on the stalks, he proceeded, like a lion when it is roused, towards the Tree of Wisdom, along a path five or six hundred yards wide, decked by the gods. The Snakes, and Genii, and Winged Creatures, Nāgas, Yakkhas and Supaṇṇas. The Yakkhas are characterized throughout the Jātaka stories by their cannibalism; the female Yakkhas as sirens luring men on to destruction. They are invisible till they assume human shape; but even then can be recognized by their red eyes. That the Ceylon aborigines are called Yakkhas in the Mahāvaṁsa probably results from a tradition of their cannibalism. On the others, see above, p. 88. and other superhuman beings, offered him sweet-smelling flowers from heaven, and sang heavenly songs. The ten thousand world-systems became filled with perfumes and garlands and shouts of approval.
At that time there came from the opposite direction a grass-cutter named Sotthiya, carrying grass; and recognizing the Great Being, he gave him eight bundles of grass. The Bodhisatta took the grass; and ascending the rising ground round the Bo-tree, he stood at the South of it, looking towards the North. At that moment the Southern horizon seemed to descend below the level of the lowest hell, and the Northern horizon mounting up seemed to reach above the highest heaven.
The Bodhisatta, saying, “This cannot, I think, be the right place for attaining Buddhahood,” turned round it, keeping it on the right hand; and went to the Western side, and stood facing the East. Then the Western horizon seemed to descend beneath the lowest hell, and the Eastern horizon to ascend above the highest heaven; and to him, where he was standing, the earth seemed
The Bodhisatta, saying, “This cannot, I think, be the right place for attaining Buddhahood,” turned round it, keeping it on the right hand; and went to the Northern side, and stood facing the South. Then the Northern horizon seemed to descend beneath the lowest hell, and the Southern horizon to ascend above the highest heaven.
The Bodhisatta, saying, “This cannot, I think, be the right place for attaining Buddhahood,” turned round it, keeping it on the right hand; and went to the Western side, and stood facing towards the East. Now in the East is the place where all the Buddhas have sat cross-legged; and that place neither trembles nor shakes.
The Great Being, perceiving, “This is the steadfast spot chosen by all the Buddhas, the spot for the throwing down of the temple of sin,” took hold of the grass by one end, and scattered it there. And immediately there was a seat fourteen cubits long. For those blades of grass arranged themselves in such a form as would be beyond the power of even the ablest painter or carver to design.
The Bodhisatta turning his back upon the trunk of the Bo-tree, and with his face towards the East, made the firm resolve, “My skin, indeed, and nerves, and bones, may become arid, and the very blood in my body may dry up; but till I attain to complete insight, this seat I will not leave!” And he sat himself down in a cross-legged position, firm and immovable, as if welded with a hundred thunderbolts.
At that time the deva Māra, thinking, “Siddhattha the prince wants to free himself from my dominion. I will not let him get free yet!” went to the hosts of his devas, and told the news. And sounding the drum, called “Satan’s War-cry,” he led forth the army of Satan.
That army of Māra stretches twelve leagues before him,
Then Māra, the deva, mounted his elephant, two hundred and fifty leagues high, named, “Girded with mountains.” And he created for himself a thousand arms, and seized all kinds of weapons. And of the remainder, too, of the army of Māra, no two took the same weapon; but assuming various colours and various forms, they went on to overwhelm the Great Being.
But the devas of the ten thousand world-systems continued speaking the praises of the Great Being. Sakka, the king of the devas, stood there blowing his trumpet Vijayuttara. Now that trumpet is a hundred and twenty cubits long, and can itself cause the wind to enter, and thus itself give forth a sound which will resound for four months, when it becomes still. The Great Black One, the king of the Nāgas, stood there uttering his praises in many hundred stanzas. The king of the gods Mahā Brahma stood there, holding over him the white canopy of state. But as the army approached and surrounded the seat under the Bo-tree, not one of the devas was able to stay, and they fled each one from the spot where the army met them. The Black One, the king of the Nāgas, dived into the earth, and went to Mañjerika, the palace of the Nāgas, five hundred leagues in length, and lay down, covering his face with his hands. Sakka, taking the Vijayuttara trumpet on his back, stopped on the rocky verge of the world. Mahā Brahma, putting the white canopy of state on to the summit of the rocks at the end of the earth, went to the world of Brahma. Not a single deity was able to keep his place. The Great Being sat there alone.
But Māra said to his host, “Friends! there is no other man like Siddhattha, the son of Suddhodana. We cannot
Then Māra the deva, saying, “Thus will I drive away Siddhattha,” caused a whirlwind to blow. And immediately such winds rushed together from the four corners of the earth as could have torn down the peaks of mountains half a league, two leagues, three leagues high – could have rooted up the shrubs and trees of the forest – and could have made of the towns and villages around one heap of ruins. But through the majesty of the goodness of the Great Being, they reached him with their power gone, and even the hem of his robe they were unable to shake.
Then saying, “I will overwhelm him with water and so slay him,” he caused a mighty rain to fall. And the clouds gathered, overspreading one another by hundreds and by thousands, and poured forth rain; and by the violence of the torrents the earth was saturated; and a great flood, overtopping the trees of the forest, approached the Great Being. But it was not able to wet on his robe even the space where a dew-drop might fall.
Then he caused a storm of rocks to fall. And mighty, mighty, mountain peaks came through the air, spitting
Then he raised a storm of deadly weapons. And they came – one-edged, and two-edged swords, and spears, and arrows – smoking and flaming through the sky. But as they reached the Great Being, they became flowers from heaven.
Then he raised a storm of charcoal. But the embers, though they came through the sky as red as red Kiṁsuka flowers, were scattered at the feet of the future Buddha as heavenly flowers.
Then he raised a storm of ashes; and the ashes came through the air exceeding hot, and in colour like fire; but they fell at the feet of the future Buddha as the dust of sandal-wood.
Then he raised a storm of sand; and the sand, exceeding fine, came smoking and flaming through the air; but it fell at the feet of the future Buddha as heavenly flowers.
Then he raised a storm of mud. And the mud came smoking and flaming through the air; but it fell at the feet of the future Buddha as heavenly perfume.
Then saying, “By this I will terrify Siddhattha, and drive him away!” he brought on a thick darkness. And the darkness became fourfold: but when it reached the future Buddha, it disappeared as darkness does before the brightness of the sun.
Thus was Māra unable by these nine – the wind, and the rain, and the rocks, and the weapons, and the charcoal, and the ashes, and the sand, and the mud, and the darkness – to drive away the future Buddha. So he called on his host, and said, “Why stand you still? Seize, or slay, or drive away this prince!” And himself mounted the Mountain-girded, and seated on his back, he approached the future Buddha, and cried out, “Get up, Siddhattha, from that seat! It does not belong to thee! It is meant for me!”
The Great Being listened to his words, and said, “Māra! it is not by you that the Ten Cardinal Virtues have been perfected, nor the lesser Virtues, nor the higher Virtues. It is not you who have sacrificed yourself in the five great Acts of Self-renunciation, who have diligently sought after Knowledge, and the Salvation of the world, and the attainment of Wisdom. This seat does not belong to thee, it is to me that it belongs.”
Then the enraged Māra, unable to endure the vehemence of his anger, cast at the Great Being that Sceptre-javelin of his, the barb of which was in shape as a wheel. But it became a garland of flowers, and remained as a canopy over him, whose mind was bent upon good.
Now at other times, when that Wicked One throws his Sceptre-javelin, it cleaves asunder a pillar of solid rock as if it were the tender shoot of a bamboo. When, however, it thus turned into a garland-canopy, all the host of Māra shouted, “Now he shall rise from his seat and flee!” and they hurled at him huge masses of rock. But these too fell on the ground as bouquets at the feet of Him whose mind was bent upon good!
And the devas stood on the edge of the rocks that encircle the world; and stretching forwards in amazement, they looked on, saying, “Lost! lost is Siddhattha the Prince, the glorious and beautiful! What can he do to save himself!”
Then the Great Being exclaimed, “I have reached the throne on which sit the Buddhas-to-be when they are perfect in all goodness, on that day when they shall reach Enlightenment.”
And he said to Māra, standing there before him, “Māra, who is witness that thou hast given alms?”
And Māra stretched forth his hand to the hosts of his followers, and said, “So many are my witnesses.”
And that moment there arose a shout as the sound of
Then the Tempter addressed the Great Being, and said, “Siddhattha! who is witness that thou hast given alms?”
And the Great Being answered, “Thou hast living witnesses that thou hast given alms: and I have in this place no living witness at all. But not counting the alms I have given in other births, let this great and solid earth, unconscious though it be, be witness of the seven hundredfold great alms I gave when I was born as Vessantara!”
And withdrawing his right hand from beneath his robe, he stretched it forth towards the earth, and said, “Are you, or are you not witness of the seven hundredfold great gift I gave in my birth as Vessantara?”
And the great Earth uttered a voice, saying, “I am witness to thee of that!” overwhelming as it were the hosts of the Evil One as with the shout of hundreds of thousands of foes.
Then the mighty elephant “Girded with mountains,” as he realized what the generosity of Vessantara had been, fell down on his knees before the Great Being. And the army of Māra fled this way and that way, so that not even two were left together: throwing off their clothes and their turbans, they fled, each one straight on before him.
But the heavenly hosts, when they saw that the army of Māra had fled, cried out, “The Tempter is overcome! Siddhattha the Prince has prevailed! Come, let us honour the Victor!” And the Nāgas, and the Winged Creatures, and the devas, and the great devas, each urging his comrades on, went up to the Great Being at the Bo-tree’s foot, and as they came,
274. At the Bo-tree’s foot the Nāga bands
Shouted, for joy that the Sage had won;
“The Blessed Buddha – he hath prevailed!
And the Tempter is overthrown!”
275. At the Bo-tree’s foot the Winged Ones
Shouted, for joy that the Sage had won;
“The Blessed Buddha – he hath prevailed!
And the Tempter is overthrown!”
276. At the Bo-tree’s foot the deva hosts
Shouted, for joy that the Sage had won;
“The Blessed Buddha – he hath prevailed!
And the Tempter is overthrown!”
277. At the Bo-tree’s foot the Brahma Gods
Shouted, for joy that the Sage had won;
“The Blessed Buddha – he hath prevailed!
And the Tempter is overthrown!”
The other gods, too, in the ten thousand world-systems, offered garlands and perfumes and uttered his praises aloud.
It was while the sun was still above the horizon, that the Great Being thus put to flight the army of the Evil One. Then, whilst the Bo-tree paid him homage, as it were, by its shoots like sprigs of red coral falling over his robe, he acquired in the first watch of the night the Knowledge of the Past, in the middle watch the Knowledge of the Present, and in the third watch the Knowledge of the Chain of Causation which leads to the Origin of Evil. Pubbe-nivāsa-ñāṇa, Dibba-cakkhu, and Paṭicca-samuppāda.
Now on his thus revolving this way and that way, and tracing backwards and forwards, and thoroughly realizing the twelvefold Chain of Causation, the ten thousand world-systems quaked twelve times even to their ocean boundaries. And again, when the Great Being, making the ten thousand world-systems to shout for joy, attained at break of day to complete Enlightenment, the whole ten thousand world-systems became glorious as on a festive day. The streamers of the flags and banners raised on the edge of the rocky boundary to the East of the world
It was thus in surpassing glory and honour, and with many wonders happening around, that he attained Omniscience, and gave vent to his emotion in the Hymn of Triumph, sung by all the Buddhas.
278. Long have I wandered! long!
Bound by the Chain of Life,
Through many births:
Seeking thus long, in vain,
“Whence comes this Life in man, his Consciousness, his Pain!”
And hard to bear is Birth,
When pain and death but lead to Birth again.
Found! It is found!
O Cause of Individuality!
No longer shalt thou make a house for me:
Broken are all thy beams.
Thy ridge-pole shattered!
Into Nirvāṇa now my mind has past:
The end of cravings has been reached at last! The train of thought is explained at length in my “Buddhism,” pp. 100-112. Shortly, it amounts to this. The Unconscious has no pain: without Consciousness, Individuality, there would be no pain. What gives men Consciousness? It is due to a grasping, craving, sinful condition of heart. The absence of these cravings is Nirvāṇa. Having reached Nirvāṇa, Consciousness endures but for a time (until the body dies), and it will then no longer be renewed. The beams of sin, the ridge-pole of care, give to the house of individuality its seeming strength: but in the peace of Nirvāṇa they have passed away. The Bodisat is now Buddha: he has reached Nirvāṇa: he has solved the great mystery; the jewel of salvation sought through so many ages has been found at last; and the long, long struggle is over.
The following is Spence Hardy’s literal translation given in his “Manual of Buddhism,” p. 180, where similar versions by Gogerly and Turnour will be found: but they scarcely seem to me to express the inner meaning of these difficult and beautiful verses: –
Through many different births
I have run (to me not having found),
Seeking the architect of the desire resembling house,
Painful are repeated births!
O house-builder! I have seen (thee).
Again a house thou canst not build for me.
I have broken thy rafters,
Thy central support is destroyed.
To Nirvāṇa my mind has gone.
I have arrived at the extinction of evil-desire.
The figure of the house is found also in Manu (vi. 79-81); in the “Lalita Vistara” (p. 107 of Foucaux’s Gya Tcher Rol Pa); and in the Ādi Granth (Trumpp, pp. 215, 216, 471). The last passage is as follows: –
A storm of divine knowledge has come!
The shutters of Delusion all are blown away – are there no longer;
The posts of Double-mindedness are broken down; the ridge-pole of spiritual Blindness is shattered;
The roof of Craving has fallen on the ground; the vessel of Folly has burst!
III. The Proximate or Last Epoch See above, p. 2. A similar explanation is here repeated in a gloss.
Now whilst he was still seated there, after he had sung the Hymn of Triumph, the Blessed One thought, “It is in order to attain to this throne of triumph that I have undergone successive births for so long a time, Literally for four asaṅkheyyas and a hundred thousand kalpas. that I severed my crowned head from my neck and gave it away, that I tore out my darkened eyes and my heart’s flesh and gave them away, that I gave away to serve others such sons as Jāli the Prince, and such daughters as Kaṇhā Jinā the Princess, and such wives as Maddī the Queen. This seat is a throne of triumph to me, and a throne of glory; while seated on it my aims have been fulfilled: I will not leave it, yet.” And he sat there absorbed in many thoughts Anekakoṭi-sata-sahassā samāpattiyo samāpajjanto. for those seven days referred to in the text, beginning, “And then the Blessed One sat motionless for seven days, realizing the bliss of Nirvāṇa.”
Now certain of the devas began to doubt, thinking, “There must be something more Siddhattha has to do this day, for he still lingers seated there.” The Master, knowing their thoughts, and to appease their doubts, rose into the air, and performed the miracle of making another appearance like unto himself. Yamaka-pāṭihāriyaṁ; literally ‘twin-miracle.’ Comp. pp. 88, 193, of the text, and Mah. p. 107. I am not sure of the meaning of the expression. Bigandet, p. 93, has ‘performed a thousand wonders.’ Hardy, p. 181, omits the clause; and Beal omits the whole episode. A gloss here adds that the Buddha performed a similar miracle on three other occasions.
And the Master having thus by this miracle dispelled the devas’ doubts, stood a little to the North-east of the
Then he created between the throne and the spot where he had stood a cloistered walk, and he spent seven days walking up and down in that jewelled cloister which stretched from East to West. And that spot became known as the Dāgaba of the Jewelled Cloister.
But for the fourth week the devas created to the North-west of the Bo-tree a house of gems; and he spent the week seated there cross-legged, and thinking out the Abhidhamma Piṭaka both book by book and generally in respect of the origin of all things as therein explained. (But the Abhidhammikas The monks whose duty it is to learn by heart, repeat, and commentate upon the seven books in the Abhidhamma Piṭaka. See above, p. 78. say that House of Gems here means either a mansion built of the seven kinds of jewels, or the place where the seven books were thought out: and as they give these two explanations of the passage, both should be accepted as correct.)
Having thus spent four weeks close to the Bo-tree, he went, in the fifth week, to the Shepherd’s Nigrodha-tree: and sat there meditating on the Truth, and enjoying the sweetness of Nirvāṇa. Vimutti. Perhaps the clause should be rendered: Realizing the sweet sense of salvation gained, and the Truth (Dhamma) may be used in contradistinction to Abhidharma of the rest of the Scriptures.
Now at that time the deva Māra thought to himself, “So long a time have I followed this man seeking some fault in him, and find no sin in him; and now, indeed, he is beyond my power.” And overcome with sorrow he sat down on the highway, and as he thought of the following sixteen things he drew sixteen lines on the ground. Thinking, “I did not attain, as he did, to the perfection of
At that time Craving, Discontent, and Lust, Taṇhā, Aratī, and Ragā. the three daughters of Māra, could not find their father, and were looking for him, wondering where he could be. And when they saw him, sad at heart, writing on the ground, they went up to him, and asked, “Why, dear, are you sad and sorrowful?”
And he answered, “Beloved, this illustrious mendicant is escaping from my power. Long have I watched, but in vain, to find some fault in him. Therefore it is that I am sad and sorrowful.”
“Be that as it may,” replied they, “think not so. We will subject him to our influence, and come back bringing him captive with us.”
“Beloved,” said he, “you cannot by any means bring him under your influence; he stands firm in faith, unwavering.”
“But we are women,” was the reply; “this moment we will bring him bound by the allurements of passion. Do not you be so grieved.”
So they approached the Blessed One, and said, “O, holy man, upon thee we humbly wait!”
But the Blessed One neither paid any attention to their words, nor raised his eyes to look at them. He sat plunged in the joy of Nirvāṇa, with a mind made free by the complete extinction of sin.
Then the daughters of Māra considered with themselves: “Various are men’s tastes. Some fall in love with virgins, some with young women, some with mature women, some with older women. We will tempt him in various forms.” So each of them assumed the appearance of a hundred women, – virgins, women who had never had a child, or only once, or only twice, middle-aged women, older women, – and six times they went up to the Blessed One, and professed themselves his humble handmaidens; and to that even the Blessed One paid no attention, since he was made free by the complete extinction of sin.
Now, some teachers say that when the Blessed One saw them approaching in the form of elderly women, he commanded, saying, “Let these women remain just as they are, with broken teeth and bald heads.” This should not be believed, for the Master issues not such commands.
But the Blessed One said, “Depart ye! Why strive ye thus? Such things might be done in the presence of men who linger in the paths of sin; but I have put away lust, have put away ill-will, have put away folly.” And he admonished them in those two verses from the Chapter on the Buddha in the Scripture-Verses:
280. No one can e’er disturb his self-control
Whose inward victories, once gained, are never lost.
That Sinless One, the Wise, whose mind embraces all –
How – by what guile – what sin – can you allure him to his fall?
281. He who has no ensnaring, venomous desire;
No craving wants to lead him aught astray:
The Sinless One, the Wise, whose mind embraces all –
How – by what guile – what sin – can you allure him to his fall? Dhammapada, verses 179, 180.
And thus these women returned to their father, confessing that he had spoken truth when he had said that the Blessed One was not by any means to be led away by any unholy desire.
But the Blessed One, when he had spent a week at that spot, went on to the Mucalinda-tree. There he spent a week, Mucalinda, the snake-king, when a storm arose, shielding him with seven folds of his hood, so that the Blessed One enjoyed the bliss of salvation as if he had been resting in a pleasant chamber, remote from all disturbance. Thence he went away to a Rājāyatana-tree, and there also sat down enjoying the bliss of salvation. And so seven weeks passed away, during which he experienced no bodily wants, but fed on the joy of Meditation, the joy of the Paths, and the joy of the Fruit thereof (that is, of Nirvāṇa). See “Buddhism,” pp. 108-110.
Now, as he sat there on the last day of the seven weeks – the forty-ninth day – he felt a desire to bathe his face. And Sakka, the king of the gods, brought a fruit of the Myrobolan-tree, and gave him to eat. And Sakka, too, provided a tooth-cleanser of the thorns of the snake-creeper, and water to bathe his face. And the Master
At that time two merchants, Tapassu and Bhalluka by name, were travelling from Orissa to Central India Ukkala to Majjhima-desa. The latter included all the Buddhist Holy Land from the modern Pātnā to Allahabād. See above, p. 61, note. with five hundred carts. And a deva, a blood relation of theirs, stopped their carts, and moved their hearts to offer food to the Master. And they took a rice cake, and a honey cake, and went up to the Master, and said, “O, Blessed One! have mercy upon us, and accept this food.”
Now, on the day when he had received the sweet rice-milk, his bowl had disappeared; See above, p. 93. so the Blessed One thought, “The Buddhas never receive food in their hands. How shall I take it?” Then the four Guardian Devas knew his thought, and, coming from the four corners of heaven, they brought bowls made of sapphire. And the Blessed One accepted them. Then they brought four other bowls, made of jet; and the Blessed One, out of kindness to the four devas, received the four, and, placing them one above another, commanded, saying, “Let them become one.” And the four closed up into one of medium size, becoming visible only as lines round the mouth of it. The Blessed One received the food into that new-created bowl, and ate it, and gave thanks.
The two brothers took refuge in the Buddha, the Truth, and the Order, and became professed disciples. Then, when they asked him, saying, “Lord, bestow upon us something to which we may pay reverence,” with his own right hand he tore from his head, and gave to them, the Hair-relics. And they built a Dāgaba in their own city, and placed the relics within it. We have here an interesting instance of the growth of legend to authenticate and add glory to local relics, of which other instances will be found in “Buddhism,” p. 195. The ancient form of this legend, as found here, must have arisen when the relics were still in Orissa. Both the Burmese and Ceylonese now claim to possess them. The former say that the two merchants were Burmese, and that the Dāgaba above referred to is the celebrated sanctuary of Shooay Dagob [i.e. Shwedagon] (Bigandet, p. 101, 2nd ed.). The latter say that the Dāgaba was in Orissa, and that the hair-relics were brought thence to Ceylon in 490 A.D., in the manner related in the Kesa Dhātu Vaṁsa, and referred to in the Mahā Vaṁsa. (See verses 43-56 of my edition of the 39th chap. of the M. V. in the J. R. A. S. 1875.) The legend in the text is found in an ancient inscription on the great bell at Rangoon (Hough’s version in the Asiatic Researches, vol. xvi.; comp. Hardy, M. B. p. 183; Beal, Rom. Leg.) p. 240.
But the Perfectly Enlightened One rose up thence, and returned to the Shepherd’s Nigrodha-tree, and sat down at its foot. And no sooner was he seated there, considering the depth of the Truth which he had gained, than there arose in his mind a doubt (felt by each of the Buddhas as he became aware of his having arrived at Truth) that he had not that kind of ability necessary to explain that Truth to others.
Then the great Ruler of the Brahma heavens, exclaiming, “Alas! the world is lost! Alas! the world will be altogether lost!” brought with him the rulers and great devas of the heavens in tens of thousands of world-systems, and went up to the Master, and said, “O Blessed Lord, mayst thou proclaim the Truth! Proclaim the Truth, O Blessed Lord!” and in other words of like purport begged from him the preaching of the Truth.
Then the Master granted his request. And considering to whom he should first reveal the Truth, thought at first of Aḷāra, his former teacher, as one who would quickly comprehend it. But, on further reflection, he perceived that Aḷāra had been dead seven days. So he fixed on Uddaka, but perceived that he too had died that very evening. Then he thought of the five mendicants, how faithfully they had served him for a time; and casting about in his mind where they then might be, he perceived they were at the Deer-forest in Benares. And he determined, saying, “There I will go to inaugurate the Kingdom
And at dawn of the fourteenth day of the month, when the night had passed away, he took his robe and his bowl; and had gone eighteen leagues, just half way, when he met the Hindu mendicant Upaka. And he announced to him how he had become a Buddha; and on the evening of that day he arrived at the hermitage near Benares. Isipatana, the hermitage in the Deer-forest close to Benares. See above, p. 91.
The five mendicants, seeing already from afar the Buddha coming, said one to another, “Friend, here comes the mendicant Gotama. He has turned back to a free use of the necessaries of life, and has recovered roundness of form, acuteness of sense, and beauty of complexion. We ought to pay him no reverence; but as he is, after all, of a good family, he deserves the honour of a seat. So we will simply prepare a seat for him.”
The Blessed One, casting about in his mind (by the power that he had of knowing what was going on in the thoughts of all beings) as to what they were thinking, knew their thoughts. Then, concentrating that feeling of his love which was able to pervade generally all beings in earth and heaven, he directed it specially towards them. And the sense of his love diffused itself through their hearts; and as he came nearer and nearer, unable any longer to adhere to their resolve, they rose from their seats, and bowed down before him, and welcomed him with every mark of reverence and respect. But, not knowing that he had become a Buddha, they addressed him, in everything they said, either by name, or as “Brother.” Then the Blessed One announced to them his Buddhahood, saying, “O mendicants, address not a Buddha by his name, or as ‘brother.’
Then, seated on the place prepared for him, and surrounded by myriads of devas, he addressed the five attendant elders, just as the moon was passing out of conjunction with the lunar mansion in June, and taught them in that discourse which was The Foundation of the Kingdom of Righteousness.
Of the five Elders, Koṇḍañña the Believer So called from his action on this occasion. See above, pp. 72, 73. gained in knowledge as the discourse went on; and as it concluded, he, with myriads of devas, had arrived at the Fruit of the First Path. That is, became free from the delusion of soul, from doubt, and from belief in the efficacy of rites and ceremonies. “Buddhism,” pp. 95, 108. And the Master, who remained there for the rainy season, sat in the vihāra the next day, when the other four had gone a-begging, talking to Vappa: and Vappa that morning attained to the Fruit of the First Path. And, in a similar manner, Bhaddiya on the next day, and Mahā Nāma on the next, and Assaji on the next, attained to the Fruit of the First Path. And, on the fifth day, he called all five to his side, and preached to them the discourse On the Non-existence of the Soul; and at the end of that discourse all the five elders attained to Nirvāṇa.
Then the Master perceived that Yasa, a young man of good family, was capable of entering the Paths. And at night-time, as he was going away, having left his home in weariness of the world, the Master called him, saying, “Follow me, Yasa!” and on that very night he attained to the Fruit of the First Path, and on the next day to Arahatship. And He received also the other fifty-four, his companions, into the order, with the formula, “Follow me!” and caused them to attain to Arahatship.
Now when there were thus in the world sixty-one persons who had become Arahats, the Master, after the rainy season
There he overcame, by performing three thousand five hundred miracles, the three Hindu ascetics, brothers, – Uruvelā Kassapa and the rest, – who had one thousand disciples. And he received them into the Order with the formula, “Follow me!” and established them in Arahatship by his discourse, when they were seated on the Gayā-sīsa hill, “On the Lessons to be drawn from Fire.” And attended by these thousand Arahats, he went to the grove called the Palm-grove, hard by Rājagaha, with the object of redeeming the promise he had made to Bimbisāra the king. See above p. 89.
When the king heard from the keeper of the grove the saying, “The Master is come,” he went to the Master, attended by innumerable priests and nobles, and fell down at the feet of the Buddha, – those sacred feet, which bore on their surface the mystic figure of the sacred wheel, and gave forth a halo of light like a canopy of cloth of gold. Then he and his retinue respectfully took their seats on one side.
Now the question occurred to those priests and nobles, “How is it, then? has the Great Mendicant entered as a student in religion under Uruvelā Kassapa, or Uruvelā Kassapa under the Great Mendicant?” And the Blessed One, becoming aware of their thus doubting within themselves, addressed the Elder in the verse –
282. What hast thou seen, O dweller in Uruvelā,
That thou hast abandoned the Fire God, counting thyself poor?
I ask thee, Kassapa, the meaning of this thing:
How is it thou hast given up the sacrifice of fire?
And the Elder, perceiving what the Blessed One intended, replied in the verse –
283. Some men rely on sights, and sounds, and taste,
Others on sensual love, and some on sacrifice;
But this, I see, is dross so long as sin remains.
Therefore I find no charm in offerings great or small.
And (in order to make known his discipleship) he bowed his head to the Buddha’s feet, saying, “The Blessed Lord is my master, and I am the disciple!” And seven times he rose into the air up to the height of one, two, three, and so on, up to the height of seven palm-trees; and descending again, he saluted the Buddha, and respectfully took a seat aside. Seeing that wonder, the multitude praised the Master, saying, “Ah! how great is the power of the Buddhas! Even so mighty an infidel as this has thought him worthy! Even Uruvelā Kassapa has broken through the net of delusion, and has yielded to the successor of the Buddhas!”
But the Blessed One said, “Not now only have I overcome Uruvelā Kassapa; in former ages, too, he was conquered by me.” And he uttered in that connexion the Mahā Nārada Kassapa Jātaka, and proclaimed the Four Truths. And the king of Magadha, with nearly all his retinue, attained to the Fruit of the First Path, and the rest became lay disciples (without entering the Paths). Upāsakas; that is, those who have taken the Three Refuges and the vow to keep the Five Commandments (“Buddhism,” pp. 139, 160).
And the king still sitting near the Master told him of the five wishes he had had; and then, confessing his faith, he invited the Blessed One for the next day, and rising from his side, departed with respectful salutation.
The next day all the men who dwelt in Rājagaha, eighteen koṭis in number, both those who had already seen the Blessed One, and those who had not, came out early from Rājagaha to the Grove of Reeds to see the successor of the Buddhas. The road, six miles long, could not contain them. The whole of the Grove of Reeds became like a basket packed quite full. The multitude, beholding the exceeding beauty of Him whose power is Wisdom, could not contain their delight. Vaṇṇabhū was it called (that is, the Place of Praise), for at such spots all the greater and lesser characteristics of a Buddha, and the glorious beauty of his person, are fated to be sung. There was not room for even a single mendicant to get out on the road, or in the grove, so crowded was it with the multitude gazing at the beautiful form of the Being endowed with the tenfold power of Wisdom.
So that day they say the throne of Sakka felt hot, to warn him that the Blessed One might be deprived of nourishment, which should not be. And, on consideration, he understood the reason; and he took the form of a young Brāhman, and descended in front of the Buddha, and made way for him, singing the praises of the Buddha, the Truth, and the Order. And he walked in front, magnifying the Master in these verses:
284. He whose passions are subdued has come to Rājagaha
Glorious as Siṅgī gold, – the Blessed One;
And with him those who once were mere ascetics,
Now all subdued in heart and freed from sin.
285. He who is free from sin has come to Rājagaha
Glorious as Siṅgī gold, – the Blessed One;
And with him those who once were mere ascetics,
Now freed from sin and saved.
286. He who has crossed the flood Tiṇṇo, crossed the ocean of transmigration. has come to Rājagaha
Glorious as Siṅgī gold, – the Blessed One;
And with him those who once were mere ascetics,
But now crossed o’er the flood and freed from sin.
287. He whose dwelling and whose wisdom are tenfold;
He who has seen and gained ten precious things; That is, the Four Paths, the Four Fruits thereof, Nirvāṇa, and the Scriptures (or the Truth, Dhamma).
Attended by ten hundred as a retinue, –
The Blessed One, – has come to Rājagaha.
The multitude, seeing the beauty of the young Brāhman, thought, “This young Brāhman is exceeding fair, and yet we have never yet beheld him.” And they said, “Whence comes the young Brāhman, or whose son is he?” And the young Brāhman, hearing what they said, answered in the verse,
288. He who is wise, and all subdued in heart,
The Buddha, the unequalled among men,
The Arahat, the most happy upon earth! –
His servant am I.
Then the Master entered upon the path thus made free by the great deva, and entered Rājagaha attended by a
At the acceptance of this monastery the broad earth shook, as if it said, “Now the Religion of Buddha has taken root!” For in all India there is no dwelling-place, save the Bamboo Grove, whose acceptance caused the earth to shake: and in Ceylon there is no dwelling-place, save the Great Vihāra, whose acceptance caused the earth to shake.
And when the Master had accepted the Bamboo Grove Monastery, and had given thanks for it, he rose from his seat and went, surrounded by the members of the Order, to the Bamboo Grove.
Now at that time two ascetics, named Sāriputta and Moggallāna, were living near Rājagaha, seeking after salvation. Of these, Sāriputta, seeing the Elder Assaji on his begging round, was pleasurably impressed by him, and waited on him, and heard from him the verse beginning, –
“What things soever are produced from causes.” The celebrated verse here referred to has been found inscribed several times in the ruins of the great Dāgaba at Isipatana, and facsimiles are given in Cunningham’s Archæological Reports, plate xxxiv. vol. i. p. 123. The text is given by Burnouf in the Lotus de la Bonne Loi, p. 523; and in the Mahā Vagga, pp. 40, 41. See also Hardy’s Manual, p. 196.
And he attained to the blessings which result from conversion;
Now whilst the Successor of the Buddhas was dwelling there in the Bamboo Grove, Suddhodana the king heard that his son, who for six years had devoted himself to works of self-mortification, had attained to Complete Enlightenment, had founded the Kingdom of Righteousness, and was then dwelling at the Bamboo Grove near Rājagaha. So he said to a certain courtier, “Look you, Sir; take a thousand men as a retinue, and go to Rājagaha, and say in my name, ‘Your father, Suddhodana the king, desires to see you;’ and bring my son here.”
And he respectfully accepted the king’s command with the reply, “So be it, O king!” and went quickly with a thousand followers the sixty leagues distance, and sat down amongst the disciples of the Sage, and at the hour of instruction entered the Vihāra. And thinking, “Let the king’s message stay awhile,” he stood just beyond the disciples and listened to the discourse. And as he so stood he attained to Arahatship, with his whole retinue, and asked to be admitted to the Order. And the Blessed One stretched forth his hand and said, “Come among us, O mendicants.” And all of them that moment appeared there, with robes and bowls created by miracle, like Elders of a hundred years’ standing.
Now from the time when they attain Arahatship the Arahats become indifferent to worldly things: so he did not deliver the king’s message to the Sage. The king, seeing that neither did his messenger return, nor was any message received from him, called another courtier in the same manner as before, and sent him. And he went, and in the same manner attained Arahatship with his followers, and remained silent. Then the king in the same manner sent nine courtiers each with a retinue of a thousand men. And they all, neglecting what they had to do, stayed away there in silence.
And when the king found no one who would come and bring even a message, he thought, “Not one of these brings back, for my sake, even a message: who will then carry out what I say?” And searching among all his people he thought of Kāḷa Udāyin. For he was in everything serviceable to the king, – intimate with him, and trustworthy. He was born on the same day as the future Buddha, and had been his playfellow and companion.
So the king said to him, “Friend Kāḷa Udāyin, as I wanted to see my son, I sent nine times a thousand men; but there is not one of them who has either come back or sent a message. Now the end of my life is not far off, and I desire to see my son before I die. Can you help me to see my son?”
“I can, O king!” was the reply, “if I am allowed to become a recluse.”
“My friend,” said the king, “become a recluse or not as you will, but help me to see my son!”
And he respectfully received the king’s message, with the words, “So be it, O king!” and went to Rājagaha; and stood at the edge of the disciples at the time of the Master’s instruction, and heard the gospel, and attained Arahatship with his followers, and was received into the Order.
The Master spent the first Lent after he had become
And on the full-moon day of March Udāyin thought, “The cold season is past; the spring has come; men raise their crops and set out on their journeys; the earth is covered with fresh grass; the woods are full of flowers; the roads are fit to walk on; now is the time for the Sage to show favour to his family.” And going to the Blessed One, he praised travelling in about sixty stanzas, that the Sage might revisit his native town.
289. Red are the trees with blossoms bright,
They give no shade to him who seeks for fruit;
Brilliant they seem as glowing fires.
The very season’s full, O Great One, of delights.
290. ‘Tis not too hot; ‘tis not too cold;
There’s plenty now of all good things;
The earth is clad with verdure green,
Fit is the time, O mighty Sage!
Then the Master said to him, “But why, Udāyin, do you sing the pleasures of travelling with so sweet a voice?”
“My lord!” was the reply, “your father is anxious to see you once more; will you not show favour to your relations?”
“ ’Tis well said, Udāyin! I will do so. Tell the Order that they shall fulfil the duty laid on all its members of journeying from place to place.”
Kāḷa Udāyin accordingly told the brethren. And the Blessed One, attended by twenty thousand mendicants free
And the Elder, thinking, “I will let the king know that the Blessed One has started,” rose into the air and appeared in the king’s house. The king was glad to see the Elder, made him sit down on a splendid couch, filled a bowl with the delicious food made ready for himself, and gave to him. Then the Elder rose up, and made as if he would go away.
“Sit down and eat,” said the king.
“I will rejoin the Master, and eat then,” said he.
“Where is the Master now?” asked the king.
“He has set out on his journey, attended by twenty thousand mendicants, to see you, O king!” said he.
The king, glad at heart, said, “Do you eat this; and until my son has arrived at this town, provide him with food from here.”
The Elder agreed; and the king waited on him, and then had the bowl cleansed with perfumed chunam, and filled with the best of food, and placed it in the Elder’s hand, saying, “Give it to the Buddha.”
And the Elder, in the sight of all, threw the bowl into the air, and himself rising up into the sky, took the food again, and placed it in the hand of the Master.
The Master ate it. Every day the Elder brought him food in the same manner. So the Master himself was fed, even on the journey, from the king’s table. The Elder, day by day, when he had finished his meal, told the king, “Today the Blessed One has come so far, today so far.” And by talking of the high character of the Buddha, he made all the king’s family delighted with the Master, even before they saw him. On that account the Blessed
The Sākyas, as they sat talking of the prospect of seeing their distinguished relative, considered what place he could stay in; and deciding that the Nigrodha Grove would be a pleasant residence, they made everything ready there. And with flowers in their hands they went out to meet him; and sending in front the little children, and the boys and girls of the village, and then the young men and maidens of the royal family; they themselves, decked of their own accord with sweet-smelling flowers and chunam, came close behind, conducting the Blessed One to the Nigrodha Grove. There the Blessed One sat down on the Buddha’s throne prepared for him, surrounded by twenty thousand Arahats.
The Sākyas are proud by nature, and stubborn in their pride. Thinking, “Siddhattha is younger than we are, standing to us in the relation of younger brother, or nephew, or son, or grandson,” they said to the little children and the young people, “Do you bow down before him, we will seat ourselves behind you.” The Blessed One, when they had thus taken their seats, perceived what they meant; and thinking, “My relations pay me no reverence; come now, I must force them to do so,” he fell into the ecstasy depending on wisdom, and rising into the air as if shaking off the dust of his feet upon them, he performed a miracle like unto that double miracle at the foot of the Gaṇḍamba-tree. See above, p. 105. The Dhammapada Commentary, p. 334, has a different account of the miracle performed on this occasion. It says he made a jewelled terrace (ratana-caṅkamaṁ) in the sky, and walking up and down in it, preached the Faith (Dhammaṁ).
The king, seeing that miracle, said, “O Blessed One! When you were presented to Kāḷa Devala to do obeisance to him on the day on which you were born, and I saw your feet turn round and place themselves on the
Then, when the king did obeisance to him, there was not a single Sākya who was able to refrain from bowing down before the Blessed One; and all of them did obeisance.
So the Blessed One, having compelled his relatives to bow down before him, descended from the sky, and sat down on the seat prepared for him. And when the Blessed One was seated, the assembly of his relatives yielded him pre-eminence; and all sat there at peace in their hearts.
Then a thunder-cloud poured forth a shower of rain, and the copper-coloured water went away rumbling beneath the earth. He who wished to get wet, did get wet; but not even a drop fell on the body of him who did not wish to get wet. And all seeing it became filled with astonishment, and said one to another, “Lo! what miracle! Lo! what wonder!”
But the Teacher said, “Not now only did a shower of rain fall upon me in the assembly of my relations, formerly also this happened.” And in this connexion he pronounced the story of his Birth as Vessantara.
When they had heard his discourse they rose up, and paid reverence to him, and went away. Not one of them, either the king or any of his ministers, asked him on leaving, “Tomorrow accept your meal of us.”
So on the next day the Master, attended by twenty thousand mendicants, entered Kapilavatthu to beg. Then also no one came to him or invited him to his house, or took his bowl. The Blessed One, standing at the gate,
At the rumour that the young chief Siddhattha was begging from door to door, the windows in the two-storied and three-storied houses were thrown open, and the multitude was transfixed at the sight. And the lady, the mother of Rāhula, thought, “My lord, who used to go to and fro in this very town with gilded palanquin and every sign of royal pomp, now with a potsherd in his hand begs his food from door to door, with shaven hair and beard, and clad in yellow robes. Is this becoming?” And she opened the window, and looked at the Blessed One; and she beheld him glorious with the unequalled majesty of a Buddha, distinguished with the thirty-two characteristic signs and the eighty lesser marks of a Great Being, and lighting up the street of the city with a halo resplendent with many colours, proceeding to a fathom’s length all round his person.
And she announced it to the king, saying, “Your son is begging his bread from door to door;” and she magnified him with the eight stanzas on “The Lion among Men,” beginning –
291. Glossy and dark and soft and curly is his hair;
Spotless and fair as the sun is his forehead;
Well-proportioned and prominent and delicate is his nose;
Around him is diffused a network of rays; –
The Lion among Men!
The king was deeply agitated; and he departed instantly, gathering up his robe in his hand, and went quickly and stood before the Blessed One, and said, “Why, Master, do you put us to shame? Why do you go begging for your food? Do you think it impossible to provide a meal for so many monks?”
“This is our custom, O king!” was the reply.
“Not so, Master! our descent is from the royal race of the Great Elected; Mahā Sammata, the first king among men. and amongst them all not one chief has ever begged his daily food.”
“This succession of kings is your descent, O king! but mine is the succession of the prophets (Buddhas), from Dīpaṅkara and Koṇḍañña and the rest down to Kassapa. These, and thousands of other Buddhas, have begged their daily food, and lived on alms.” And standing in the middle of the street he uttered the verse –
292. Rise up, and loiter not!
Follow after a holy life!
Who follows virtue rests in bliss,
Both in this world and in the next.”
And when the verse was finished the king attained to the Fruit of the First, and then, on hearing the following verse, to the Fruit of the Second Path –
293. Follow after a holy life!
Follow not after sin!
Who follows virtue rests in bliss,
Both in this world and in the next.
And when he heard the story of the Birth as the Keeper of Righteousness, Dhammapāla Jātaka. he attained to the Fruit of the Third Path. And just as he was dying, seated on the royal couch under the white canopy of state, he attained to
Now as soon as he had realized the Fruit of Conversion, he took the Buddha’s bowl, and conducted the Blessed One and his retinue to the palace, and served them with savoury food, both hard and soft. And when the meal was over, all the women of the household came and did obeisance to the Blessed One, except only the mother of Rāhula.
But she, though she told her attendants to go and salute their lord, stayed behind, saying, “If I am of any value in his eyes, my lord will himself come to me; and when he has come I will pay him reverence.”
And the Blessed One, giving his bowl to the king to carry, went with his two chief disciples to the apartments of the daughter of the king, saying, “The king’s daughter shall in no wise be rebuked, howsoever she may be pleased to welcome me.” And he sat down on the seat prepared for him.
And she came quickly and held him by his ankles, and laid her head on his feet, and so did obeisance to him, even as she had intended. And the king told of the fullness of her love for the Blessed One, and of her goodness of heart, saying, “When my daughter heard, O Master, that you had put on the yellow robes, from that time forth she dressed only in yellow. When she heard of your taking but one meal a day, she adopted the same custom. When she heard that you renounced the use of elevated couches, she slept on a mat spread on the floor. When she heard you had given up the use of garlands and unguents, she also used them no more. And when her relatives sent a message, saying, ‘Let us take care of you,’ she paid them no attention at all. Such is my daughter’s goodness of heart, O Blessed One!”
“ ’Tis no wonder, O king!” was the reply, “that she should watch over herself now that she has you for a protector, and that her wisdom is mature; formerly, even when wandering among the mountains without a protector, and when her wisdom was not mature, she watched over herself.” And he told the story of his Birth as the Moonsprite; Canda-kinnara Jātaka. and rose from his seat, and went away.
On the next day the festivals of the coronation, and of the housewarming, and of the marriage of Nanda, the king’s son, were being celebrated all together. But the Buddha went to his house, and gave him his bowl to carry; and with the object of making him abandon the world, he wished him true happiness; and then, rising from his seat, departed. And (the bride) Janapada Kalyāṇī, seeing the young man go away, gazed wonderingly at him, and cried out, “My Lord, whither go you so quickly?” But he, not venturing to say to the Blessed One, “Take your bowl,” followed him even unto the Vihāra. And the Blessed One received him, unwilling though he was, into the Order.
It was on the third day after he reached Kapilapura that the Blessed One ordained Nanda. On the second day the mother of Rāhula arrayed the boy in his best, and sent him to the Blessed One, saying, “Look, dear, at that monk, attended by twenty thousand monks, and glorious in appearance as the great deva Brahma! That is your father. He had certain great treasures, which we have not seen since he abandoned his home. Go now, and ask for your inheritance, saying, ‘Father, I am your son. When I am crowned, I shall become a king over all the earth. I have need of the treasure. Give me the treasure; for a son is heir to his father’s property.’ ”
The boy went up to the Blessed One, and gained the love of his father, and stood there glad and joyful, saying,
And the Blessed One prevented him not. And the disciples, being with the Blessed One, ventured not to stop him. And so he went with the Blessed One even up to the grove. Then the Blessed One thought, “This wealth, this property of his father’s, which he is asking for, perishes in the using, and brings vexation with it! I will give him the sevenfold wealth of the Arahats which I obtained under the Bo-tree, and make him the heir of a spiritual inheritance!” And he said to Sāriputta, “Well, then, Sāriputta, receive Rāhula into the Order.”
But when the child had been taken into the Order the king grieved exceedingly. And he was unable to bear his grief, and made it known to the Blessed One, and asked of him a boon, saying, “If you so please, O Master, let not the Holy One receive a son into the Order without the leave of his father and mother.” And the Blessed One granted the boon.
And the next day, as he sat in the king’s house after his meal was over, the king, sitting respectfully by him, said, “Master! when you were practising austerities, a deva came to me, and said, ‘Your son is dead!’ And I believed him not, and rejected what he said, answering, ’My son will not die without attaining Buddhahood!’”
And he replied, saying, “Why should you now have believed? when formerly, though they showed you my bones and said your son was dead, you did not believe them.” And in that connexion he told the story of his Birth as the Great Keeper of Righteousness. Mahādhammapāla Jātaka. See above, p. 126. And when the story was ended, the king attained to the Fruit of the
At that time the householder Anāthapiṇḍika, bringing merchandise in five hundred carts, went to the house of a trader in Rājagaha, his intimate friend, and there heard that a Blessed Buddha had arisen. And very early in the morning he went to the Teacher, the door being opened by the power of a deva, and heard the Truth and became converted. And on the next day he gave a great donation to the Order, with the Buddha at their head, and received a promise from the Teacher that he would come to Sāvatthi.
Then along the road, forty-five leagues in length, he built resting-places at every league, at an expenditure of a hundred thousand for each. And he bought the Grove called Jetavana for eighteen koṭis of gold pieces, laying them side by side over the ground, and erected there a new building. In the midst thereof he made a pleasant room for the Sage, and around it separately constructed dwellings for the eighty Elders, and other residences with single and double walls, and long halls and open roofs, ornamented with ducks and quails; and ponds also he made, and terraces to walk on by day and by night.
And so having constructed a delightful residence on a pleasant spot, at an expense of eighteen koṭis, he sent a message to the Sage that he should come.
The Master, hearing the messenger’s words, left Rājagaha attended by a great multitude of monks, and in due course arrived at the city of Sāvatthi. Then the wealthy merchant decorated the monastery; and on the day on which the Buddha should arrive at Jetavana he arrayed his son in splendour, and sent him on with five hundred youths in festival attire. And he and his retinue, holding five hundred flags resplendent with cloth of five different
The Blessed One, sending this retinue of lay disciples in front, and attended by the great multitude of monks, entered the Jetavana monastery with the infinite grace and unequalled majesty of a Buddha, making the spaces of the grove bright with the halo from his person, as if they were sprinkled with gold-dust.
Then Anāthapiṇḍika asked him, “How, my Lord, shall I deal with this Vihāra?”
“O householder,” was the reply, “give it then to the Order of Mendicants, whether now present or hereafter to arrive.”
And the great merchant, saying, “So be it, my Lord,” brought a golden vessel, and poured water over the hand of the Sage, and dedicated the Vihāra, saying, “I give this Jetavana Vihāra to the Order of Mendicants with the Buddha at their head, and to all from every direction now present or hereafter to come.” This formula has been constantly found in rock inscriptions in India and Ceylon over the ancient cave-dwellings of Buddhist hermits.
And the Master accepted the Vihāra, and giving thanks, pointed out the advantages of monasteries, saying, –
294. Cold they ward, off, and heat;
So also beasts of prey,
And creeping things, and gnats,
And rains in the cold season.
And when the dreaded heat and winds
Arise, they ward them off.
295. To give to monks a dwelling-place,
Wherein in safety and in peace
To think till mysteries grow clear,
The Buddha calls a worthy deed.
296. Let therefore a wise man,
Regarding his own weal,
Have pleasant monasteries built,
And lodge there learned men.
297. Let him with cheerful mien
Give food to them, and drink,
And clothes, and dwelling-places
To the upright in mind.
298. Then they shall preach to him the Truth, –
The Truth, dispelling every grief, –
Which Truth, when here a man receives,
He sins no more, and dies away!
Anāthapiṇḍika began the dedication festival from the second day. The festival held at the dedication of Visākhā’s building ended in four months, but Anāthapiṇḍika’s dedication festival lasted nine months. At the festival, too, eighteen koṭis were spent; so on that one monastery he spent wealth amounting to fifty-four koṭis.
Long ago, too, in the time of the Blessed Buddha Vipassin, a merchant named Punabbasu Mitta bought that very spot by laying golden bricks over it, and built a monastery there a league in length. And in the time of the Blessed Buddha Sikhin, a merchant named Sirivaḍḍha bought that very spot by standing golden ploughshares over it, and built there a monastery three-quarters of a league in length. And in the time of the Blessed Buddha Vessabhū, a merchant named Sotthiya bought that very spot by laying golden elephant feet along it, and built a monastery there half a league in length. And in the
End of the Account of the Causes that lead to the Attainment of Buddhahood
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last updated: Nov 2020