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Guide to Tipitaka

Canonical Pâli Buddhist Literature of the Theravâda School

Part 14 - Buddhavarfnsa Pali

History Of The Buddhas

Buddhavarhsa Pali gives a short historical account of Gotama Buddha and of the twenty-four previous Buddhas who had prophesi- ed his attainment of Buddhahood It consists of twenty-nine sections in verse

The first section gives an account of how the Venerable Sariputta asks the Buddha when it was that he first resolved to work for attain- ment of the Buddhahood and what paramis (virtues towards perfec- tion) he has fulfilled to achieve his goal of Perfect Enlightenment In the second section, the Buddha describes how as Sumedha the her- mit, being inspired by Diparikara Buddha, he makes the resolution for the attainment of Buddhahood, and how the Buddha Diparikara gives the hermit Sumedha his blessings prophesying that Sumedha would become a Buddha by the name of Gotama after a lapse for four asankheyya and a hundred thousand kappas (world cycles).

From then onwards, the Bodhisatta Sumedha keeps on practis- ing the ten paramts, namely, alms-giving, morality, renunciation, wisdom, perseverance, forbearance, truthfulness, determination, loving- kindness and equanimity. The Buddha relates how he fulfils these paramts, existence after existence, and how each of the twenty-four Buddhas, who appeared after Dipankara Buddha at different intervals of world cycles, renewed the prophesy that he would become a Buddha by the name of Gotama

In sections three to twenty-seven are accounts of the twenty-five Buddhas including Gotama Buddha, giving details about each of them with regard to birth, status, names of their parents, names of their wives and children, their life-span, their way of renunciation, duration of their efforts to attain Buddhahood, their teaching of the Dhammacakka Sutta in the Migadayavana, the names of their Chief Disciples and their chief lay disciples Each section is closed with an account of where the Buddhas pass away and how their relics are distributed.

In the twenty-eighth section is given the names of three Buddhas, namely, Tanhankara, Medhankara and Saran ankara who lived before Dipankara Buddha at different intervals of the same world cycle The names of other Buddhas (up to Gotama Buddha) are also enu- merated together with the name of the kappas in which they have appeared Finally there is the prophesy by the Buddha that Metteyya Buddha would arise after him in this world

The last section gives an account of how the Buddha's relics are distributed and where they are preserved  

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