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The Buddhas and our Bodhisatta
After making his initial aspiration under Buddha Dīpaṅkara to become a Buddha as Sumedha the recluse, the Bodhisatta met every one of the Buddhas that appeared during a period of 4 immeasurable periods and 100,000 aeons, and renewed his aspiration to become a Buddha in their presence each time.
His status is known in all these lives, and his name in most of them. In the table below where it states Monk, it means he ordained under that particular Buddha. Where it is marked Recluse, it means he went forth before meeting the Buddha, but not in the Saṅgha.
Afterwards I give the lives as far as they are recorded. The first life as Sumedha is very extensive, so I have abbreviated it. Most of the others are less elaborated in the commentaries. I do not give the last life as Siddhattha, as this is well documented elsewhere on this site.
Most of these lives go unrecorded in the Jātaka collection, and so are additional to that list, but most of them do appear in the Jātakanidāna, with much shorter stories attached. The stories here are mainly taken from the Buddhavaṁsa commentary, with the exception of Sumedha’s story, which is abbreviated from the Jātakanidāna.
They are as retold in The Great Chronicles of the Buddhas by Mingun Sayādaw, as revised by the present writer.
Vijitāvī, Universal Monarch
Atula, Nāga King
Unnamed Yakkha General
Unnamed King of Lions
Jaṭila, Governor of a Province
Unnamed Universal Monarch
Sakka, the Lord of the Devas
Atula, Nāga King
1. Buddha Dīpaṅkara and Ascetic Sumedha
In Amaravatī, a Brahmin named Sumedha was born to a virtuous and healthy mother, a pure Brahmin with a charmed appearance. He had a wealth of treasures worth billions and abundant grain for daily use. Sumedha studied the three Vedas and was expert in reciting them. When Sumedha’s parents passed away, the family treasurer opened the treasure-house, revealing the wealth of his family. He handed over the wealth to Sumedha, who could use it as he pleased.
One day he went up to the upper terrace of his mansion and sitting cross-legged in solitude, he thought:
“Miserable, is birth in a new existence; so is destruction of the body; miserable, also it is to die in delusion, oppressed and overpowered by old age. Being subject to birth, old age and sickness, I will seek Nibbāna where old age, death and fear are extinct.”
After thinking thus, he contemplated further:
“Just as a man, who is burdened with the dead body of an animal which is hung round his neck, would get rid of the loathsome carcass and freely and happily go about wherever he likes, even so, I too will go to the city of Nibbāna, abandoning this putrid body of mine which is but a collection of various worms and foul things.”
After contemplating renunciation in the light of these similes, once again it occurred to the wise Sumedha: “Having amassed this much of wealth, my father, grandfather and other kinsmen of mine of seven generations were unable to take even a single coin with them when they passed away. But I should find some means of taking this wealth with me up to Nibbāna.”
Then he went to the King and said: “Your majesty, I am going to leave the household life and become a recluse. I have wealth worth many millions. Please take possession of it.”
“I do not desire your wealth. You may dispose of it in any way you wish,” replied the King. “Very well, your majesty,” said the wise Sumedha and, with the beating of the mighty drum, he had it proclaimed all over the city of Amaravatī: “Let those who want riches come and take them.” And he gave away his wealth, in a great alms giving, to all without distinction of status and whether they be destitutes or otherwise.
After thus performing a great act of generosity, the wise Sumedha renounced the world and left for the Himālayas with an intention of reaching Mount Dhammika on that very day. Sakka, seeing him approach the Himālayas after renunciation, summoned Vissakamma and said: “Go, Vissakamma. There is the wise Sumedha, who has renounced the world, intending to become a recluse. Have a residence made ready for him.”
“Very well, lord,” said Vissakamma, in answer to Sakka’s command. He then marked out a delightful enclosure as a hermitage, created in it a well-protected hut with a roof of leaves and a pleasant, faultless walkway.
Reaching the foothills of the Himālayas, there, at a river bend, in the region of Mount Dhammika, he saw the delightful hermitage which was created by Vissakamma. Seeing no signs of habitation after waiting for a fairly long time, it occurred to him: “I have waited long enough. I should now investigate to see whether there are any occupants or not.” He opened the door and entered the leaf-hut. Looking here and there he saw the inscription on the wall and thought: “These requisites are befitting requisites for me. I will use them and become an ascetic.”
When he had taken off his fine clothing, the wise Sumedha took the fibre-robe, which was red like a cluster of Anojā flowers. He found the robe, which was folded and placed for ready use on a bamboo peg. He wore it round his waist. Taking hold of a walking stick with his right hand, he went out of the hut. While walking back and forth along the walkway, sixty cubits long, he surveyed himself in his new garb and felt exultant with the thought:
“My heart’s desire has been completely fulfilled. Splendid indeed is the ascetic life, which has been praised by all wise men such as Buddhas and Independent Buddhas. I will endeavour to attain the benefits of the holy practices.”
In the evening, he entered the hut, and lying on the wooden plank by the side of a cane couch, he used the robes as blankets and went to sleep. When he woke up early in the morning, he reflected on the reasons and circumstances of his being there:
“Having seen the demerits of the household life, and having given up incomparable wealth and unlimited resources and retinue, I have entered the forest and become an ascetic, desiring to seek meritoriousness that will liberate me from the snares of sensuality. From today onwards, I should not be negligent.”
Reflecting thus, he discerned the eight disadvantages of a leaf-hut and the ten advantages of the foot of trees. Consequently, on that very day he abandoned the hut and approached the foot of trees which are endowed with ten virtues.
The following morning, he entered the nearby village for alms food. The villagers made a great effort to offer him choice food. After finishing his meal, he went back to the enclosure in the forest and sat down thinking:
“I became an ascetic not because I lack food and nourishment. Delicacies tend to boost one’s pride and arrogance of being a man.”
From that moment, he lived only on fruits that fell from trees. Without lying down at all, he made strenuous efforts to meditate incessantly in the three postures, and at the end of seven days he achieved the eight attainments (samāpatti) and the five super knowledges (abhiññā).
By that time there appeared in the world Buddha Dīpaṅkara, Lord of the Three Worlds. Thirty-two wondrous events such as a quake of the ten thousand universes, occurred on four occasions concerning the appearance of Buddha Dīpaṅkara, namely, his conception, birth, becoming a Buddha and teaching of the first discourse.
Then with four hundred thousand Arahats, he went to the city of Rammavatī and stayed at Sudassana monastery. Meanwhile Sumedha was enjoying the bliss of the absorptions (jhāna) in the forest, completely unaware of the appearance of Buddha Dīpaṅkara in the world.
On hearing of the Buddha’s arrival at Sudassana monastery, the citizens of Rammavatī sat down at suitable places and listened to his discourse. By the end of the discourse, they invited him, together with the Saṅgha, to the next day’s meal, and having circumambulated the Buddha in salutation, they left the monastery.
The next day, the citizens of Rammavatī were preparing for the incomparably great alms giving (asadisa-mahā-dāna). When the necessary preparations had thus been made in the city, the citizens attended to mending the road which the Buddha would take in entering the city. They filled holes and cracks, and they levelled the uneven muddy ground. At that time, the recluse Sumedha while travelling through the air saw the citizens of Rammavatī engaging cheerfully in road-mending and decorating. Wondering what was going on below, he alighted and stood at an appropriate place while the people were watching him. Then he asked:
“You are mending the road so happily and enthusiastically. For whose benefit are you mending the road?”
The people then answered:
“Venerable Sumedha, there has appeared in this world the incomparable Buddha Dīpaṅkara, who has conquered the five evils. He is the supreme lord of the whole world. We are mending the road for his visit.”
Sumedha was filled with joy on hearing the word: “Buddha,” uttered by the people of Rammavatī. Standing on the spot where he had descended, Sumedha was filled with happiness and also stirred by spiritual urgency (saṁvega), he thought thus: “I will sow excellent seeds of merit in the fertile ground for the cultivation of good deeds. Rare and difficult, indeed, it is to witness the happy moment of a Buddha’s appearance.”
Having thought thus, he asked the people: “O men, if you are preparing the road for the Buddha’s visit, allot me a stretch of the road. I, too, would like to participate in your road-mending work.”
“Very well,” said the people, and because they were confident that he was a person of great supernormal powers, they allotted him a big, boggy and very uneven portion of ground which would be difficult to mend. Then Sumedha, with his heart gladdened by thinking of the attributes of the Buddha, decided: “I can mend the road with my supernormal powers so that it will look pleasant. But if I do so, the people around me may not think highly of it, because it will be done easily in an instant. Today, I should do my duties with my own physical labour.”
Before Sumedha could finish his assigned work, Buddha Dīpaṅkara came along the road with four hundred thousand Arahats, who were all endowed with the six super kowledges, who could not be shaken by the eight vicissitudes of the world and who were purified of mental defilements.
At that time, human beings were visible to Devas and Devas were visible to human beings. All these beings, divine and human, followed the Buddha, some raising their hands in adoration and others playing their respective musical instruments. Devas, coming along through the air, tossed and scattered celestial flowers in honour of the Buddha. Humans also did a similar honour.
Sumedha gazed, unblinking, at the Buddha’s person, which was endowed with the thirty-two marks of an extraordinary being and further adorned with the eighty minor marks.
Then he decided thus: “Today, I ought to abandon my life in the presence of the Buddha. Let him not tread in the mud and suffer discomfort. Let the Buddha and all his four hundred thousand Arahats tread on my back and walk just as they would do on ruby-coloured planks of a bridge. Using my body as a footpath by the Buddha and his Arahats will definitely bring me long-lasting welfare and happiness.”
Having made up his mind thus, he loosened his hair-knot, spread a mat of black-leopard skin, and fibre-robe on the murky swamp and then prostrated himself on them, like a bridge constructed of ruby-coloured wooden planks.
So to Sumedha, who had prostrated himself, the aspiration to become a Buddha arose: “If I so desire, this very day I can become an Arahat in whom the pollutants (āsava) are exhausted and mental defilements removed. But what does it profit me to realise the fruition of Arahatship and Nibbāna as an obscure disciple in the dispensation of Buddha Dīpaṅkara? I will exert my utmost for the attainment of omniscient Buddhahood.”
There were none among the people who did not aspire to Buddhahood on beholding a Buddha’s splendour. Although they aspired to Buddhahood, not one of them was qualified to become a Buddha. But, unlike this multitude of people, Sumedha was fully endowed with all requisites for his becoming a Buddha.
Knowing that Sumedha was endowed with these requisite qualifications, Buddha Dīpaṅkara went to Sumedha and, standing at the head of his prostrate body, exercised his supernormal psychic power of seeing into the future, to find out whether Sumedha’s aspiration to become a Buddha would be fulfilled, and said: “Sumedha will become a Buddha, Gotama by name, after four immeasureables and a hundred thousand aeons have passed from the present one.”
On hearing the prophecy of Buddha Dīpaṅkara, who had no equal in the three worlds and who was always in pursuit of meritorious deeds, Devas and humans acclaimed with joy: “It is said that this the recluse Sumedha is truly the seed of a Buddha.”
After Buddha Dīpaṅkara, who had insight into the three worlds had thus made the prediction and been honoured with eight handfuls of flowers, he departed, stepping out with his right foot placed by the side of Sumedha.
From the place where the Buddha had uttered the prophecy, the four hundred thousand Arahats also departed, keeping Sumedha on their right, after honouring him with flowers and scents. So also humans, supernatural beings and celestial musicians departed from there after paying obeisance to Sumedha and honouring him with flowers and scents. The citizens of Rammavatī then performed the ceremony of the great incomparable alms giving to the Buddha and his monastics.
When Buddha Dīpaṅkara, the leader of the three worlds, and the four hundred thousand Arahats, went out of his sight, Sumedha got up joyfully from his prostrate position.
When Sumedha was seated cross-legged, happy with the recollection of Buddha Dīpaṅkara’s prophecy and feeling as though he already had the precious gem of omniscient Buddhahood in his very hand, Devas and Brahmas from the ten thousand universes arrived and proclaimed with a mighty sound:
“Noble Sumedha, thirty-two prophetic phenomena have now taken place; these phenomena occurred also to all previous Bodhisattas who had received the prediction and were sitting down cross-legged as you are doing now. So you will certainly become a Buddha.”
The Bodhisatta, Sumedha, was delighted with both the prophetic words of the Buddha Dīpaṅkara and the encouraging words of Devas and Brahmas, and he reflected thus, when the Devas and Brahmas had departed:
“Buddhas are not speakers of ambiguous words, nor are they given to speaking of futile things. Never have their words proved wrong. Surely, I will become a Buddha.”
Reflecting on this, Sumedha was certain that he would definitely attain Buddhahood in accordance with Buddha Dīpaṅkara’s prophetic words. And he thought to himself thus:
“Well, I will make a thorough search in the basic principle concerning the three worlds in all the ten directions for the conditions of his becoming a Buddha.”
Thus he thought about and investigated those factors which condition his becoming a Buddha.
While Sumedha was engaged in the investigation of the Buddha-making factors, he discovered first the perfection of generosity which former Bodhisattas had always followed and practised and which was like a highway to the state of Buddhahood. Then he admonished himself thus:
“Sumedha, if you are desirous of attaining the knowledge of the paths, fruitions and omniscience, you should establish first the perfection of generosity, and make efforts to become accomplished in fulfilling this perfection.”
After discovering and reflecting on the perfection of generosity, he went on to contemplate thus:
“Sumedha, if you are desirous of attaining the knowledge of the paths, fruitions and omniscience, you should establish the perfection of morality … renunciation … wisdom … energy … forbearance … truthfulness … resolution … loving-kindness … equanimity, and make efforts to become accomplished in fulfilling this perfection.”
When Sumedha had reflected on the perfection of equanimity, it occurred to him thus:
“The perfections which contribute to the maturity of the knowledge of the paths and fruitions, and omniscience and make a Buddha, and which a Bodhisatta has to fulfil, are exactly these ten. There are no other perfections besides these. And these ten perfections, which are essential for Buddhahood, do not exist outside myself; neither in the sky above nor on the earth below; nor do they lie in the east or in any other direction. In fact, they are in my heart.”
Because of the power generated by an investigation of the ten perfections complete with their basic principles of functions and characteristics, this great earth shook violently. Because of this violent earthquake, all the people, who were hosts to the Buddha, could not stand firm; like the big Sāla trees lashed by the strong winds descending from Mount Yugandhara they fell to the ground in bewilderment and in a faint.
Being greatly shaken, frightened and troubled in mind, they unanimously approached Buddha Dīpaṅkara and said: “Possessor of the five eyes of intelligence, does this incident foretell our fortune or misfortune? A fearful danger has befallen us. May it please the Fortunate One to dispel our fears!”
Then the Fortunate One replied: “Be free from the fear caused by this earthquake; be relieved of your worries. There is nothing to be afraid. I have today made the prophecy to Sumedha, declaring that he will in the future become an omniscient Buddha in the world. He has reflected on the ten perfections that were fulfilled by former Buddhas. Because of Sumedha’s reflections on the ten perfections, which are essential for his becoming a Buddha, without leaving out any one of them, this great earth shook violently.”
When Sumedha stood up from his seat, both Devas and humans did honour to him by showering on him celestial and terrestrial flowers that they had brought with them. And they spoke auspicious words of praise and encouragement:
“You, noble recluse, have aspired for the noble prize of becoming a Buddha. May your wish be fulfilled!”
In this manner, Devas and humans proclaimed his glory and offered auspicious words of prayer.
Then Sumedha, who had thus been offered resounding words of encouragement, complete with good wishes and admiration, entered a great forest in the Himālayas, being determined to practise and fulfil the ten perfections.
2. Buddha Koṇḍañña and the Universal Monarch Vijitāvī
At the time of Buddha Koṇḍañña our Bodhisatta was a Universal Monarch, Vijitāvī by name, ruling in the city of Candavatī, and he received the prediction from Buddha Koṇḍañña. Having numerous distinguished hosts of attendants, he held under his sway the whole stretch of land in the universe up to the end of the four oceans, by righteousness, not by force, nor by arms.
Then Buddha Koṇḍañña, setting out on a journey followed by 1,000 billion Arahats, arrived at Candavatī. Hearing of the Buddha’s visit, the Bodhisatta King Vijitāvī extended a warm welcome to the Buddha, made arrangements for his lodging and invited him and his disciples for the next day’s meal. The following day, he prepared the meals properly and performed a ceremony of alms food offering on an elaborate scale.
Having thus performed, the King listened to the Buddha’s discourse, which was given in appreciation of the offering. At the end of the discourse, he made a request: “May the venerable ones spend the three months of the Rains Retreat (Vassa) in the city of Candavatī, to bring blessings to the citizens.” And he performed matchless acts of generosity to the congregation of monks led by the Buddha during the whole period of the Rains Retreat.
Then Buddha Koṇḍañña declared a prophecy: “Innumerable aeons from the present one, in the aeon that appears after three immeasureables and 100,000 aeons, you will definitely become a Buddha.”
Having declared the prophecy, Buddha Koṇḍañña carried on teaching. After listening to the Buddha’s discourse, the King’s faith in the Buddha grew to a great extent and being desirous of achieving Buddhahood, he made an offering of his vast kingdom to the Buddha, in whose presence he became a monk. After learning the Three Collections, he acquired the eightfold attainment and the fivefold higher knowledge. Reaching the apex of the higher knowledge, he was reborn in the Brahma abode on his death.
3. Buddha Maṅgala and Brahmin Suruci
At the time of Buddha Maṅgala our Bodhisatta was a Brahmin, Suruci by name, living at the village of Suruci. He was accomplished in the Vedic texts, glossaries, rhetoric, grammar and the legends and histories as the fifth treatise. He was clever in writing and reading poetry as well as prose.
He was well-versed in materialist philosophy, which was concerned not with spiritual matters but only with mundane affairs and also in the art of reading bodily signs of a superior being (mahā-purisa-lakkhaṇa).
Having listened to the Buddha’s talks on the Dhamma, Brahmin Suruci cultivated faith in him and took refuge in the Triple Gem. He then invited the Buddha and his disciples: “Please accept my offering of food for tomorrow.”
“Brahmin, how many monks do you like to have?” asked the Buddha. “How many monks are there, venerable sir?” – “There are all together 1,000 billion,” replied the Buddha, as it was the occasion when his disciples assembled for the first time. “Then venerable sir, together with all these monks, please accept my offering of the meals.” The Buddha kept silent, showing his consent.
Having invited the Buddha, Bodhisatta Suruci went home and thought thus: “I can afford to give such a great number of monks rice gruel and pieces of cloth meant to be robes. But how can the seating for them be arranged?”
The Bodhisatta’s thought caused warming of the stone slab, which was the seat of Sakka on Mount Meru, eighty-four thousand leagues high. Then Sakka contemplated thus: “Who is interested in removing me from this place?” When he looked for the cause of the warming of his seat, he saw Brahmin Suruci; it then occurred to him thus: “This Bodhisatta has invited the Saṅgha, led by the Buddha, for meals and is worrying about their accommodation. I should go there and take my share of merits.” Assuming the appearance of a carpenter and carrying an axe in hand, he appeared before the Bodhisatta.
Sakka, as the carpenter, enquired: “Is there any job for a worker?” Seeing the carpenter, the Bodhisatta asked: “What can you do?” – “There is no craft that I do not know. If anybody wants to build a pavilion, a palace, a house, or any other building, that is my job.” – “Then I have something for you to do.” – “What is it?” – “I have invited 1,000 billion monks to tomorrow’s meal. Can you build a pavilion to accommodate them.” – “Yes, I can, provided you pay me.” – “Friend, I will.” – “Very well, I will construct it as you will make payment.” So saying, Sakka looked round for a certain plot of land.
The plot of land, twelve leagues in size, which was viewed by Sakka, became an evenly level ground like a meditation device (kasiṇa). Sakka looked around and made the wish: “Let a great pavilion made of the seven kinds of jewels, pleasing to the eye and richly adorned, appear from the earth.” And while he was watching, there rose up a great pavilion of jewels, splitting the earth’s surface. Its pillars of gold had lotus-vases of silver; its pillars of silver had lotus vases of gold; its pillars of rubies had lotus-vases of coral; its pillars of coral had lotus-vases of rubies, and its pillars of the seven kinds of jewels had lotus-vases of the seven kinds of jewels.
Thereupon he looked at the pavilion and made the wish: “Let there be chains of tinkling golden bells hanging between the pillars in the pavilion.” As he was thus looking, the chains of tinkling golden bells appeared, hanging between one pillar and another. Fanned by a gentle breeze, the tinkling bells made a very sweet sound like the sound of music produced by the five kinds of musical instruments. It was like the time when celestial beings in heaven performed a concert.
Again, he made the wish: “Let there be festoons of heavenly perfumes, flowers and leaves hanging down.” At that moment, festoons of heavenly perfumes, flowers and leaves appeared hanging down.
Again, he made the wish: “Let seats for the 1,000 billion monks, costly spreads and bowl-stands allowable to monks appear, breaking through the earth.” Instantly, these things appeared.
Still again Sakka made the wish: “Let there be huge water pots in every corner.” Instantly, huge water pots appeared.
When all these had been created, Sakka went to the Bodhisatta Suruci and said: “Come, Brahmin, please have a look at your pavilion and make payment due to me.” The Bodhisatta went to the pavilion and while he was examining it, the whole frame of his body was suffused with the five kinds of joy.
While the Bodhisatta was looking at the pavilion, it occurred to him thus: “This pavilion could not have been made by a human being. On account of my wholesome desire to perform a great act of generosity and also of my virtues, surely Sakka’s seat must have become warm. The warmth must have led the King of Devas to construct this pavilion. With such a pavilion, it does not befit me to make offerings just for one day. For seven days I will perform a great act of generosity.” He then accommodated the Saṅgha, headed by the Buddha, in the pavilion for seven days and offered them specially prepared milk rice.
When the milk rice was offered, it was not possible for the people alone to wait upon the monks, Devas too, one beside each man, participated in waiting upon them. The site which was twelve or thirteen leagues was not large enough for all the monastics. Therefore those monastics who could not get seats, had to make their own accommodation there by exercising their respective powers.
The day the alms giving was over, all the monks’ bowls were washed well, filled with clarified butter, ghee, honey and molasses for medicinal purposes, and were offered together with sets of three robes. The set of robes that was received by the most junior member of the Saṅgha was worth one hundred thousand pieces of money.
When Buddha Maṅgala was giving his discourse in appreciation of the alms given to him, he contemplated through his foreseeing wisdom: “This man had performed such an act of great alms giving. What will he become in the future?” Then he foresaw that Bodhisatta Suruci would definitely become a Buddha, Gotama by name, in one Fortunate Aeon (Bhadda-kappa) after two immeasureables and 100,000 aeons had elapsed. He then called out to him and made a prophetic declaration: “When two immeasureables and 100,000 aeons have elapsed, you will definitely become a Buddha, Gotama by name.”
Hearing Buddha Maṅgala’s prophecy, the Bodhisatta became elated and rejoiced, and it occurred to him thus: “The Buddha has predicted that I would certainly become a Buddha. What is the use of living a household life. I shall go forth immediately.” Having abandoned the wealth of a rich Brahmin’s household as though it were spittle, he became a monk in the presence of Buddha Maṅgala, learned the Three Collections, and attained the five super knowledges (abhiññā) and eight absorptions (jhāna), and without slackening from his absorptions, he was reborn in the Brahma world on his death.
4. Buddha Sumana and Nāga King Atula
In the lifetime of Buddha Sumana the Bodhisatta was reborn as Atula, the powerful Nāga King. Learning that a Buddha had appeared in the three worlds and accompanied by all his kith and kin, he came out of his residence and performed acts of merit towards the Buddha and his one hundred thousand billion monastics by making celestial music in their honour, and by performing a great act of alms giving in the form of food and drinks. He also offered a set of robes to each monastic and was established in the refuges.
Then Buddha Sumana predicted: “This Nāga King will become Buddha Gotama in future.” Hearing Buddha Sumana’s prophecy, Atula the Nāga King became all the more heartened and resolved firmly to increase his effort in fulfilling of the ten perfections.
5. Buddha Revata and Brahmin Atideva
At the time of Buddha Revata our Bodhisatta was a Brahmin named Atideva, fully accomplished in Brahminic lore, which was handed down by generation after generation of teachers. After listening to the Buddha’s discourse, he took refuge in the Triple Gem. He also sang one thousand verses in praise of the Buddha’s attributes of morality, concentration and wisdom, and offered his upper garment which was worth one thousand pieces of money.
Thereupon Buddha Revata made a prophecy: “Two immeasureables and one hundred aeons after the present one, you will become a Buddha by the name of Gotama.” On receiving Buddha Revata’s prophecy, the Bodhisatta’s mind became all the more serene and he courageously resolved to make more effort in fulfilling of the perfections: “I will contemplate and develop the perfections and try to attain the Buddhahood that I long for.”
6. Buddha Sobhita and Brahmin Sujāta
At that time of Buddha Sobhita our Bodhisatta Gotama was born a Brahmin, Sujāta by name, whose parents were of Brahmin caste, in Rammavatī city. Having listened to the Dhamma, he was established in the three refuges. He gave alms on a grand scale to the Buddha and his Saṅgha for the three months of the Rains Retreat (Vassa). Then the Buddha made a prophetic declaration concerning Sujātā the Brahmin: “This man will become a Buddha, Gotama by name, in the future.”
7. Buddha Anomadassī and an Unnamed Yakkha General
During the dispensation of the Buddha Anomadassī, our Bodhisatta was a Yakkha general commanding many millions powerful Yakkhas. Hearing that a Buddha has appeared in the world, he visited the Buddha and created a magnificent pavilion decorated with very beautiful gems, in which he performed a great alms giving of food, drink, etc., to the Saṅgha headed by the Buddha, for seven days.
While the Yakkha general was listening to the discourse given by the Buddha, in appreciation of the meal, the Buddha made a prophetic declaration, saying: “One immeasureable and a hundred thousand aeons from the present aeon, this Yakkha general will definitely become a Buddha by the name of Gotama.”
8. Buddha Paduma and an Unnamed King of the Lions
While Buddha Paduma was staying in that forest grove, our Bodhisatta was a king of lions. Seeing the Buddha in the attainment of cessation (nirodha-samāpatti), the lion-king developed faith in him, and did obeisance by circumambulating him. Exalted with joy, he roared three times and remained there for seven days without losing his ecstasy which was derived from the sight of the Buddha. Without going in search of food, he stayed near the Buddha respectfully, at the risk of starvation.
When seven days had elapsed, on emerging from the attainment of cessation, Buddha Paduma saw the lion and made a wish: “May this lion have faith in the Saṅgha of monks also.” At the same time, he resolved to have the Saṅgha near him: “May the monks come here!” Immediately many millions monks arrived on the spot. The Bodhisatta developed faith in the Saṅgha also. After surveying and knowing the Bodhisatta’s mind, Buddha Paduma made a prophetic declaration: “In the future, this lion-king will become a Buddha, Gotama by name.”
Having heard the Buddha’s prophecy, the Bodhisatta became even more devotionally inclined and resolutely determined to fulfil the ten perfections more energetically.
9. Buddha Nārada and an Unnamed Recluse
At the time of Buddha Nārada our Bodhisatta was a recluse, who found a hermitage in the Himālayas and lived there, and who had mastered the five super knowledges (abhiññā) and the eight attainments (samāpatti). Out of compassion for the Bodhisatta recluse, Buddha Nārada visited the hermitage in the company of 800 million lay disciples who were all Non-returners (Anāgāmi).
The noble recluse was glad to see the Buddha. He then created a residence for the Buddha and his monastics. During the whole night, the recluse extolled the Buddha, relating all his attributes and listened to his discourses. The next morning, he went to the northern continent by his psychic power and brought back cooked rice and other kinds of food which he offered to the Buddha and his monastics and lay disciples.
In this way, the Bodhisatta offered food for seven days, after which he paid homage to the Buddha and offered priceless red sandalwood from the Himālayas. Then Buddha Nārada, after delivering a discourse, predicted: “You will certainly become a Buddha in the future.” Hearing the Buddha’s prophecy, the Bodhisatta became very happy and resolved to fulfil the perfections even more energetically.
10. Buddha Padumuttara and a Governor
At the time of Buddha Padumuttara our Bodhisatta was Jaṭila, the governor of a province, and he was very wealthy. He performed a great alms giving of food and clothing-material to the Saṅgha, with the Buddha at its head. At the end of the discourse, which was delivered in appreciation of the alms giving, the Buddha predicted of the governor: “A hundred thousand aeons from now this man will certainly become a Buddha named Gotama.” On hearing the Buddha’s prophecy, the Bodhisatta was extremely happy and determined to fulfil the ten perfections more energetically.
11. Buddha Sumedha and Uttara
At the time of Buddha Sumedha our Bodhisatta was a young man named Uttara, which means one who excels all others in virtues. He gave the Saṅgha, headed by the Buddha, his wealth of 800 million, which was accumulated in his residence. After hearing the Buddha’s discourse, he was established in the three refuges and became a monk in the dispensation of the Buddha. When the discourse given in appreciation of the offering was over, the Buddha uttered the prophecy: “This young man, Uttara, will indeed become a Buddha, named Gotama, in the future.” Hearing the Buddha’s prophecy, the Bodhisatta was overjoyed and resolved to fulfil the perfections even more.
Uttara became a monk and shouldered his religious responsibilities and became accomplished in studying the Buddha’s ninefold teaching of the discourses and discipline, thus promoting the splendour of his dispensation.
Mindfully cultivating and developing his virtues as a monk in the three postures of sitting, standing and walking but entirely without lying down, he reached not only the eight attainments (samāpatti) but the apex of the super knowledges (abhiññā) and on his passing, he was reborn in the Brahma abode.
12. Buddha Sujāta and an Unnamed Universal Monarch
At the time of Buddha Sujāta our Bodhisatta was a Universal Monarch. Hearing that there had appeared a Buddha in the world, he approached the Buddha, listened to the Dhamma discourses, offered his kingship with his seven treasures to the Saṅgha with the Buddha as its head and then he became a monk. The inhabitants of Jambudīpa made themselves monastery attendants, collected taxes from his domain and constantly supplied the Buddha and his Saṅgha with the four requisites of robes, food, shelter and medicines. Then Buddha Sujāta made a prophecy: “He will indeed become a Buddha in future.” Having received the Buddha’s prophecy, the Bodhisatta rejoiced and was determined to fulfil the ten perfections even more energetically.
He joined the Saṅgha of Buddha Sujāta and became accomplished in the studies of the Buddha’s teachings which are of nine divisions together with the discourses and discipline (sutta-vinaya). Thus he contributed to the beauty of the Buddha’s dispensation.
Having cultivated the practice of meditation on the divine abodes (Brahma-vihāra-bhāvanā), leading to rebirth in the Brahma abode, without absent-mindedness in the three postures of sitting, standing and walking, but not in the posture of lying down, he reached the apex, not only of the eight attainments but also of the five super knowledges. On his death, he was reborn in the world of the Brahmas.
13. Buddha Piyadassī and Brahmin Kassapa
At that time of Buddha Piyadassī our Bodhisatta was a Brahmin youth, Kassapa by name, who was accomplished in the three Vedas. Having listened to the Buddha’s teaching, he cultivated great faith and had a huge monastery built at the cost of 1,000 billion. He then offered it to the Saṅgha headed by the Buddha. Rejoicing in his act of merit, he took refuge in the Triple Gem and kept the five precepts steadfastly, lest he should become heedless.
Remaining in the midst of the Saṅgha, Buddha Piyadassī made the prophecy concerning the youth, Kassapa: “1,800 aeons from the present one, this youth, Kassapa, will become a Buddha indeed.”
Having heard Buddha Piyadassī’s prophecy, the Bodhisatta was extremely happy and determined to fulfil the perfections even more energetically.
14. Buddha Atthadassī and Recluse Susīma
At that time of Buddha Atthadassī our Bodhisatta was reborn as Susīma, in the city of Campaka. He was a wealthy Brahmin, considered and recognized by the whole world as a virtuous one. Having given away all his wealth to the poor, the helpless, the destitute, travellers and others, he went to the Himālayas and lived the life of an ascetic. After achieving the eight attainments (samāpatti) and the five super knowledges (abhiññā), he became a noble ascetic with supernormal power. Teaching people the merit of wholesome deeds and the demerit of unwholesome deeds, he waited for the time when a Buddha would appear.
Later on, when Buddha Atthadassī appeared in the world and “showered the rain of the discourses of immortality” in the midst of an audience, which was composed of the eight assemblies of people, Susīma the ascetic listened to the Buddha’s Dhamma. And he went up to the celestial abode and brought back such celestial flowers as the Mandārava, Paduma, Pāricchattaka, etc., from Tāvatiṁsa. Wishing to display his miraculous power, he made himself visible and caused a rain of flowers to fall in the four quarters, like a great rain that fell all over the four continents. He also created a pavilion of flowers decorated on all sides with flowers, had a pinnacled arch over the entrance with decorated columns and nets, etc., and adorned with flowers. He then honoured the Buddha with a huge umbrella of celestial Mandārava flowers. Buddha Atthadassī then made a prophecy concerning Susīma the ascetic: “This ascetic Susīma will definitely become a Buddha, Gotama by name, in the future when one thousand and eight hundred aeons have elapsed.”
On hearing Buddha Atthadassī’s prophecy, the Bodhisatta was extremely happy and firmly resolved to fulfil the ten perfections even more energetically, fearing that he would become heedless.
15. Buddha Dhammadassī and Sakka
At that time of Buddha Dhammadassī our Bodhisatta was Sakka, the Lord of the Devas. Being accompanied by Devas of two divine abodes, the Cātumahārājika and the Tāvatiṁsa, he visited the Buddha and honoured him with celestial flowers, unguents, etc., and various sounds of celestial music. Then the Buddha made a prophetic declaration: “This Sakka will indeed become a Buddha, Gotama by name, in the future.”
Having heard Buddha Dhammadassī’s prophecy, Sakka the Bodhisatta, became extremely pleased and resolved to fulfil the perfections even more energetically.
16. Buddha Siddhattha and Recluse Maṅgala
At the time of Buddha Siddhattha our Bodhisatta was reborn in the city of Surasena as a Brahmin, named Maṅgala who was accomplished in the Vedas in their original texts as well as in their branches of literature. He gave away all his possessions worth many millions to the poor and the destitute and since he took delight in seclusion, he became an ascetic. Developing the attainments (samāpatti) and super knowledges (abhiññā), he achieved effective powers by virtue of which nobody could torture him.
While he was thus abiding, he heard the news: “Buddha Siddhattha had appeared in the world.” He therefore approached the Buddha and adoringly paid respects to him. Hearing the Buddha’s teaching, the ascetic became so pleased that he brought fruits from the rose-apple tree of Jambudīpa with his psychic power, and at Surasena monastery, where he accommodated the Buddha, he offered the fruits as food to the Buddha who was accompanied by 900 million of his disciples. Having partaken of the fruits, Buddha Siddhattha declared prophetically: “This Maṅgala the ascetic will indeed become a Buddha, Gotama by name, in the ninety-fourth aeon from now.”
Having heard the Buddha’s prophecy, the Bodhisatta, Maṅgala the ascetic, was overjoyed and firmly resolved to fulfil the ten perfections even more energetically.
17. Buddha Tissa and Recluse Sujāta
At the time of Buddha Tissa our Bodhisatta was King Sujāta in the city of Yasavatī. He had a prosperous city, his wealth was worth many millions and he had members of a retinue, who were always willing to attend upon him. He abandoned them all with no attachment whatsoever, as though they were blades of grass and stalks of reeds. With his heart filled with fear of suffering in rebirth, etc., he renounced the world and became an ascetic even before Buddha Tissa’s appearance, and acquired great psychic power and fame. On hearing that Buddha Tissa has appeared, his whole body was pervaded with the five kinds of ecstasy. Most respectfully, he approached the Buddha and paid respects to him, thinking: “I will honour the Buddha with such flowers as from the Salala, Pāricchattaka trees and others,” he went to the celestial abode by means of his psychic power and entered the garden of Cittalatā. There he filled a basket, measuring a mile, with such celestial flowers and brought it across the sky and finally honoured the Buddha with these immensely fragrant flowers.
Besides, in the middle of the four assemblies, the Bodhisatta stood, holding over the Buddha’s head a lotus (paduma) sunshade, which was an umbrella made of very sweet smelling pollens, with a rod of ruby, and a pinnacle of leaves of red ruby. In this way, he thus honoured the Buddha. Then the Buddha predicted concerning the Bodhisatta, Sujāta the ascetic: “In the ninety-second aeon from the present one, this Sujāta will become a Buddha, Gotama by name.”
On hearing the Buddha’s prophecy, Bodhisatta Sujāta the ascetic, was filled with devotional faith and resolved to fulfil the ten perfections even more energetically.
18. Buddha Phussa and King Vijitāvī
At the time of Buddha Phussa our Bodhisatta was King Vijitāvī, in the city of Arindama. Having listened to the Buddha’s discourse, he developed faith in him, and performed a great alms giving by giving his city, and he became a monastic and learned the Three Collections. Being well-versed in the Collections, he disseminated the Dhamma to all people. He also fulfilled the perfection of morality.
Then Buddha Phussa, a noble leader of the three worlds, made a prophecy concerning the Bodhisatta, monastic Vijitāvī: “In the ninety-second aeon from the present one, this monastic Vijitāvī will become a Buddha, Gotama by name.” Having listened to Buddha Phussa’s prophecy, the Bodhisatta Vijitāvī, was filled with devotional faith and was determined to fulfil the ten perfections even more energetically.
Having become a monastic and a servant in the dispensation of Buddha Phussa, and becoming accomplished in the studies of the Buddha’s teachings which are of nine divisions together with the discourses and discipline (sutta-vinaya), the noble Bodhisatta contributed to the glory of the Buddha’s dispensation.
Without lying down at all, meditating only in the three postures of sitting, standing and walking, the Bodhisatta developed the sublime modes of living (Brahma-vihāra) without negligence, attained not only the eight attainments but also the apex of the five super knowledges, and was reborn in the Brahma world.
19. Buddha Vipassī and the Nāga King Atula
At the time of Buddha Vipassī our Bodhisatta Gotama was the Nāga King Atula of great might. In the company of many millions Nāgas who were playing celestial musical instruments, he approached Buddha Vipassī, Lord of the Three Worlds. In order to honour the Buddha and his monastics, he invited the Saṅgha, headed by the Buddha to his place. He built a great pavilion which was adorned with the seven kinds of gems and was pleasing to the eye, like the orb of a full moon. He accommodated the Buddha with his Saṅgha in the pavilion and performed a grand alms giving to them for seven days. He also offered a golden bench, which was richly decorated, to the Buddha.
Sitting in the midst of the Saṅgha, the Buddha taught him a discourse in appreciation of his alms giving and, at the conclusion of the discourse, declared prophetically about him, saying: “In the ninety-first aeon from the present one, this Atula Nāga King will indeed become a Buddha.”
Having heard the Buddha’s prophecy, Bodhisatta Atula Nāga King was overjoyed, and determined to fulfil the perfections even more energetically.
20. Buddha Sikhī and King Arindama
At the time of Buddha Sikhī our Bodhisatta was King Arindama, in the city of Paribhutta. When Buddha Sikhī visited the city with his retinue, the King welcomed him. He paid homage to the Buddha respectfully and invited him to the palace where he performed a grand alms giving befitting his status of kingship, high birth, of wealth and faith in the Buddha.
He opened his warehouse of clothing and offered to the Saṅgha, headed by the Buddha, several score of garments, which was worth a great deal of money.
Moreover, he offered the Buddha his state elephant which was possessed of strength, beauty, auspicious marks and speed and which was adorned with golden nets and flowers. Having assessed the value of the elephant together with his adornments, he also offered the Saṅgha, headed by the Buddha, objects that were permissible to monks.
Then, with reference to the Bodhisatta Arindama, Buddha Sikhī declared prophetically: “In the thirtieth aeon from the present one, this King Arindama will indeed become a Buddha, Gotama by name.”
21. Buddha Vessabhū and King Sudassana
At the time of Buddha Vessabhū our Bodhisatta was King Sudassana who had an appearance, fair and pleasing to the eye, in the city of Sarabhavatī. When Buddha Vessabhū, Lord of the Three Worlds, visited the city, he listened to the Buddha’s Dhamma and became so pleased that, with his folded hands raised to his head, he made a great alms giving, including robes to the Saṅgha, headed by the Buddha. In the very city of Sarabhavatī, he built a hut called the Perfumed Chamber for the Buddha and also a thousand encircling huts for the Saṅgha, and offered them.
Since the Bodhisatta was profoundly delighted with the Dhamma taught by Buddha Vessabhū, he desired fervently to become a monk. Accordingly, he gave away all his royal wealth to the cause of the Buddha’s dispensation and took up, in the Buddha’s presence, the life of a virtuous monk, free from idleness, day and night. Having become a monk, he acquired moral qualities, observed all thirteen ascetic practices (dhutaṅgas) and lived in the Buddha’s dispensation, being happy in fulfilment of the perfections.
Filled with faith and joy, the Bodhisatta as a monk paid respects to Buddha Vessabhū. Then there occurred a great longing in him for omniscience. Knowing that the Bodhisatta monk had undiminished energy, Buddha Vessabhū predicted: “In the Fortunate Aeon (Bhadda-kappa), the thirty-first aeon from the present one, this monk, Sudassana, will indeed become a Buddha, Gotama by name.” Having heard Buddha Vessabhū’s prophecy, the Bodhisatta monk Sudassana was overjoyed and he determined to fulfil the ten perfections even more energetically.
22. Buddha Kakusandha and King Khema
At the time of Buddha Kakusandha our Bodhisatta was King Khema. Having made a grand offering of bowls and robes to the Saṅgha headed by the Buddha, and also having offered them such medicinal materials as minerals for preparing eye-ointment, and herbs including liquorice among others, he became so immensely pleased with the Dhamma taught by the Buddha that he renounced the world and became a monk in the Buddha’s presence. With reference to him, the Buddha predicted: “This monk Khema will indeed become a Buddha, named Gotama, in this Fortunate Aeon.”
Having heard the Buddha’s prophecy, the Bodhisatta Khema became overjoyed and determined to fulfil the ten perfections even more energetically.
23. Buddha Koṇāgamana and King Pabbata
At the time of Buddha Koṇāgamana our Bodhisatta was King Pabbata, in the city of Mithilā. He was a powerful ruler associated with strong allies. Hearing that Buddha Koṇāgamana had arrived in his city, he welcomed him with his retinue and army, invited him respectfully and performed a grand alms giving. He also requested the Buddha to observe the Rains Retreat (Vassa) in his city and he would look after him and his Saṅgha for the three months of the rainy season. Besides, he offered the Saṅgha, headed by the Buddha, cotton cloth, silk cloth, woollen cloth, golden sandals and many other things made in Pattuṇṇa country and Cīna country. The Buddha then predicted of him: “In this Fortunate Aeon, this King Pabbata will indeed become a Buddha, named Gotama.” Having heard the Buddha’s prophecy, the Bodhisatta, King Pabbata, was so pleased that he firmly resolved to fulfil the ten perfections even more energetically.
Since he was a man who had been seeking omniscience, he made a great offering of gifts to Buddha Koṇāgamana, renounced his magnificent kingship and became a monk in the presence of the Buddha.
24. Buddha Kassapa and Jotipāla the Youth
At the time of Buddha Kassapa our Bodhisatta Gotama was famous as Jotipāla the youth. He could recited the Veda texts continuously, learned various hymns by heart, and he reached perfection in the Vedas and was accomplished in treatises on prediction that explain the physical marks of an extraordinary being, treatises on legends that narrate ancient tales and all arts and crafts that had been handed down by generation after generation of teachers. No less accomplished, but fully well-versed and skilful was he in terrestrial science and celestial science.
Jotipāla was an intimate friend of Ghaṭikāra the potter, who, being a noble supporter of Buddha Kassapa, was greatly devoted to the Triple Gem and was famous as a Non-returner (Anāgāmi). Ghaṭikāra the potter took him to Buddha Kassapa.
After listening to the Buddha’s Dhamma, Jotipāla became a monk in the Buddha’s presence. Highly energetic, clever in performing duties, big and small, and not negligent in any matters associated with the three trainings of morality, concentration, and wisdom, he shouldered responsibilities in the Buddha’s dispensation.
Having learned the teachings (pariyatti) of the Buddha which comprised nine divisions, he glorified the Buddha’s dispensation. Discerning Jotipāla’s aforesaid marvellous qualities, Buddha Kassapa predicted of him: “This monastic Jotipāla will indeed become a Buddha, named Gotama, even in this Fortunate Aeon.” On hearing the Buddha’s prophecy, the noble monastic Jotipāla became overjoyed and resolved to fulfil the ten perfections even more energetically.
On account of his only wish, which was attainment of omniscience, our Bodhisatta, who would become the inconceivable Lord of the Three Worlds, kept himself far away from all demeritorious deeds that are to be avoided throughout Saṁsāra, and he put efforts unflinchingly to perform meritorious deeds, which ordinary people can hardly do, in absolute fulfilment of the ten perfections.