Blue Annals (deb-ther sngon-po)

by George N. Roerich | 1949 | 382,646 words | ISBN-10: 8120804716 | ISBN-13: 9788120804715

This page relates ‘Acts of the Buddha’ of the Blue Annals (deb-ther sngon-po)—An important historical book from the 15th century dealing with Tibetan Buddhism and details the spiritual doctrine and lineages of religious teachers in Tibet. This chapter belongs to Book 1 (The beginning of the story of the Doctrine).

[Full title: Acts of the Buddha. (sangs rgyas kyi mdzad pa’i skabs. Chandra 19; Chengdu 37-43; Roerich 17.)]

In the Chapter on the simultaneous appearance in the World of Buddha Kāśyapa and king Kṛkin in the Royal Chronology included in the Vinaya, the Lokaprajñapti says:

"The Buddha Kāśyapa having appeared in the World, the Bodhisattva the Blessed One expressed his resolve to obtain in future times enlightenment in the presence of the fully enlightened Buddha Kāśyapa. Having become a brahmacārin, He was reborn in the devaloka of Tuṣita, and remained there until the end of one life span of Tuṣita."

Also in the Kāraṇaprajñapti (rgyu gdags pa, Tg. Mngon pa, No. 4087) it is said that the age of gods in Tuṣita was 576000000 years. At the end of this period, the Bodhisattva made the five preliminary observations as to family, country, race and woman (to whom he was to be born) in the six regions of the Kāmaloka, and announced:

"I shall enter the womb of Mahāmāyā in the country of Jambudvīpa, and behold Nirvāṇa (amṛta-nirvāṇa). Those of you who wish to behold Nirvāṇa, should take rebirth in that country."

The gods entreated him not to go, saying that Jambudvīpa was defiled by the philosophical teachings of 18 heretical teachers, but the Bodhisattva could not be moved. He transformed himself into a young grey elephant, and entered the womb of his mother who was observing the poṣadha fasting (gso sbyong) of the 15th day. According to the Lalitavistara (54,18) this full moon was the full moon of the month Vaiśākha (April-May). For ten months He remained in the womb. Then on the 15th day of the month Uttarā-phalgunī (dbo, February-March), He was born in the Lumbinī park. His birth coincided with the rising of the star Tisya (rgyal, (%) Cancri).

Ṛṣi Vyāsa said: "Muni, you were born under the star Tiṣya", and Nāgārjuna said: "When the star Tiṣya rose, her son (came forth) from her side.........". (Now) the year of (the Blessed One’s) birth: In China, chi'i wang (Chao-wang), the fourth emperor of the ci'u (Chou) dynasty (1052 B.C.), after he had been more than twenty years on the throne, saw all the quarters of the World enveloped by a light of golden colour.

(The emperor) inquired from astrologers: "What was meant by this omen?" The astrologers said: "A golden son has been born to a great king of the Western Quarter. This must be his light!" The emperor then understood that a Buddha was born in this World, and asked further: "Can I obtain in this lifetime His benediction ('ja sa

They replied:

"It will not take place in our life-time. During such and such a dynasty after our time, in a certain year, and on such and such a day, four men attired in such a dress, will bring here (His) benediction."

The emperor amazed (at their words), ordered these words to be engraved on a pillar in front of a temple. It was said (in this inscription) that the year of the birth (of the Buddha) was the Wood-Male-Tiger year (shing pho stag lo, 1027 B.C.). [1] After many years had elapsed, this temple fell in ruin, and the stone pillar fell also. Then about that time, four monks, bringing with themselves many religious books from India, came to China.

The emperor, who was ruling at that time, said: "See who are they, wearing such a strange attire!"

No one knew anything about them, except an old woman who said:

"In this locality there had been once a temple, and on a stone pillar there had been an inscription, telling that such an event would take place in the future. This stone pilllar has since fallen down. Place it again in position, and read (the inscription)."

When they read (the inscription), they saw that the year and month (indicated in the inscription) agreed exactly (with the date of the coming of the four monks), and that only seven days were not accounted for. The Muni having been born, studied grammar and engaged in various sports. He married Yaśodharā (grangs 'dzin ma) and Gopā (sa 'tsho ma). Till the age of 29, He resided in the palace. After that He left His palace and became a self ordained monk. For six years He practised austerities and His body became emaciated. Two girls from the town of Sukhāvatī(bde ldan), Nandā and Nandābālā by name, having drawn off sixteen times the milk of a thousand cows, prepared a milk soup, flavoured with honey, and presented it (to the Buddha). On partaking of this soup, (the Muni’s) body became like a golden polished door-bolt. Then the Blessed One settled on a rock not far from the river Nairañjanā, but the rock could not support Him and crumbled down. The gods advised Him to go to Vajrāsana. Indra incarnated as the grass-merchant Svastika (bkra sis). The Bodhisattva took some grass from him, and prepared for Himself a mat. He sat on the mat at the foot of the Bodhi-tree at Vajrāsana. Māra, the Sinner’s banner of Doubt fluttered (in the wind), and the Evil One perceived the purpose of the Bodhisattva.[2]

Disguised as a messenger, Māra appeared before the Bodhisattva, and said:

"The town of Kapilavastu has been captured by Devadatta. The palace has been sacked, and the Śākya murdered! Why are you staying here?"

Thoughts of passion, anger and doing harm arose in the Bodhisattva, but immediately He understood them to be due to the influence of Māra, and three antidote thoughts were produced in His mind. Then the host of Māra in battle array, filling the Earth, showered a downpour of weapons of different kinds, and made resound fearful sounds. Daughters of Māra transformed themselves into beautiful maidens and tried to seduce the Bodhisattva, but failed in their efforts. Māra’s host was dispersed and put to flight. It disappeared behind the outer boundary of the World, and for 12 days did not assemble again. Then during the first night watch, the first three supernatural powers (abhijñā: ṛddhi-vidha, or power of performing miracles, divya-śrota or power of hearing, and paracitta jñāna or reading the thoughts of others) were born (in the Bodhisattva). At about midnight the memory of former existence (the fourth abhijñā-pūrvanivā-sānusmaraṇa), was born in Him. During the last night watch the Divine Eye (divya-cakṣu) and the supernatural power of removing defiling influences were born in Him.

Having penetrated the meaning of the Four Truths, He became a fully enlightened Buddha. He thus became Buddha on the full moon day of the Vaiśākha month of the year Fire-Female-Hog (me mo phag—994 B.C.). According to (the Vinaya) that night Rāhu seized the Moon, and Rāhula and Ānanda were born.[3] The calculation of this lunar eclipse is related elsewhere. For seven weeks the Buddha did not preach the Doctrine. Then on being exhorted by Brahmā, he set in motion the Wheel of the Law at Vārāṇasī for the benefit of the group of five (lṅasde).[4] The five obtained the degree of Arhat. 80,000 gods perceived the truth. Yaśas and five other disciples, as well as fifty village youths, were made to attain the fruit of Arhatship. Then the Buddha proceeded to the town of Sukhāvatī (bde ldan), and established Nandā and Nandabālā in the Truth. Then He ordained Kāśyapa of Uruvilvā with a retinue of five hundred ascetics (jaṭilas) who resided on the banks of the Nairañjanā, as well as Nādi-Kāśyapa and Gayā-Kāśyapa, each with a retinue of 250 ascetics, in all one thousand. Through the precepts of the three miracles all gradually attained Arhatship. Then the Blessed One proceeded to Magadha to the Śītavana (btang brang) grove. There He established in the Truth (bden pa la bkod śrotaāpanna) king Bimbisāra (gzugs can snying po) with several hundred thousand men and 80,000 gods.

Then the Buddha proceeded to Rājagṛha and established in Arhatship Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana with a retinue of 250 followers. Henceforth they and the band of Kāśyapa became known as the "Assembly of 1250 monks". Then at the request of Anāthapiṇḍika, the Buddha proceeded from Rājagṛha to Śrāvastī. Then the Buddha was invited to Śuddhodana to Kapilavastu, and He built the Nyagrodhārāma of Kapilavastu, and stayed there for one year, and established many Śākyas in the Truth. In the same manner, He spread the Doctrine at Śrāvastī, Vaiśal ī, Rājagṛha, Kauśāmbī, Sāketa (gnas bcas), the Śiśumāra Hill (chu srin byis pa gsod), and other places. He spent one summer for His mother’s sake in the "Abode of the 33 gods". Then at Kāśi, He descended from Heaven. He subjugated heretics by performing a great miracle, and exhibited other great deeds.

The sequence of these events can be reconstructed from the list of the Buddha’s summer retreats as recorded by the Mahā-sthaviravādins. According to the Saṃskṛtāsaṃskṛtaviniścaya-nāma (Tg. Dbu ma, No. 3897; In the snar thang bstan 'gyur the quotation is found in vol. Ño. (CXXVIII), fol. 252a-252b):

"Our Teacher Śākyamuni lived for eighty years. He spent 29 years at his Palace. For six years He practised austerities. Having attained Enlightenment, He spent the first summer retreat at the site of the (Revolving) of Wheel of the Law (Dharmacakrapravartana). The second summer retreat was spent by Him at Veluvana. The fourth (also) at Veluvana. The fifth at Vaiśalī. The sixth at go la (i.e. Golāṅgulaparivartana, Tib. Mjug ma bsgyur ba'i ri, near Rājagṛha). The seventh in the "Abode of the 33 gods" on the platform of the a rmo nig stone (n. Of a white stone in the "Abode of the 33 gods". Other forms of the same name: a rmo li ga'i rdo leb—a mo li ga—a mo long ga—a mo li ka. See mi la ras pa'i mgur 'bum,fol.2b). The eighth (was spent) at Śiśumāra giri. The ninth at Kauśāmbī. The tenth at a place called Kapijit (spre'u btul) in the forest Pārileyyaka-vana (glang po che pe ri le ya’i nags). [5] The eleventh at Rājagṛha (rgyal po'i khab). The twelfth at the village Verañjā (Verañja'i grong). The thirteenth at Caitya-giri (mchod rten ri). The fourteenth at the temple of the rāja Jetavana. The fifteenth at the Nyagrodhārāma at Kapilavastu. The sixteenth at Āṭavaka (See Mhvtpt. No. 3377). The seventeenth at Rājagṛha. The eighteenth at the. Cave of Jvālinī (near Gayā). The nineteenth at Jvālinī (dzwa li ni'i brag phug, also called 'bar ba'i phug). The twentieth at Rājagṛha. Four summer retreats at the ārāma of Mṛgamātṛ (ma mo mri ga ri'i kun dga' ra ba), east of Śrāvastī. Then twenty-one summer retreats at Śrāvastī, The Buddha passed into Nirvāṇa in the Śāla grove of Kuśanagara in the country of the Mallas. In my opinion this must have been the Water-Female-Hen year (chu mo bya—948-7 B.C.) In general (it must be observed) that there exists a great disagreement in the statements of sclolars regarding the years of the Birth and Nirvāṇa of the Teacher.

The chapter on the Deeds of the Buddha (fol. 12a).

Footnotes and references:


The author of the "Blue.Annals" follows the usual chronology accepted in China and Japan (1027 947 B.C.).


Māra or bdud is said to posses two banners: one fluttering at the time of a successful action, and the other fluttering at the time of danger.


According to the Ceylon tradition Rāhula was born before Buddha’s departure from the Palace.


The five were: Kauṇḍinya, Aśvajit (rta thul), Vāṣpa (rlangs pa), Mahānāman (ming chen) and Bhadrika (bzang ldan).


Pārileyyaka-vana, an elephant forest at some distance of the city of Kauśāmbi.

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