by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Padumuttara Buddhavamsa contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as the chronicle of twenty-four Buddhas. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).
This implies that an aeon in which only one Buddha appears is called Sāra-kappa; two Buddhas, Manda-kappa; three Buddhas, Vara-kappa; five Buddhas, Bhadda-kappa; that in which no Buddha appears at all is called Suñña-kappa. The aeon in which three Buddhas, such as Buddha Anomadassī, Buddha Paduma and Buddha Nārada, appeared is therefore vara-kappa.)
After the vara-kappa, in which appeared the Buddhas Anomadassī, Paduma and Nārada had come to an end, incalculable aeons (one asaṅkhyeyya) passed. Then in one kappa, a hundred thousand aeons before the present one, there appeared Buddha Padumuttara. (This particular aeon was sāra-kappa as Buddha Padumutta alone appeared then, yet it resembled a manda-kappa of two Buddhas because of its delightful features. In the aeon to which Buddha Padumuttara belonged, there lived only people who abounded in meritoriousness.)
In The Chronicle of Buddhas, Padumuttara’s appearance is this: Having completed His fulfilment of the Perfections, Bodhisatta Padumuttara was reborn in Tusitā which was a common practice of Bodhisattas. Having agreed to the entreaties of devas and Brahmās, he descended to the human abode to be conceived in the womb of Sujātā, Queen of King Ānanda, in the city of Haṃsavati. When ten months had elapsed, the Bodhisatta was born in the royal garden of Haṃsavati.
When Prince Padumuttara was born, a rain of Paduma lotuses fell and his relatives gave him the name of Padumuttara.
Royal Household Life
When he came of age, he enjoyed the divine-like royal household life living for ten thousand years in three palaces, namely, Naravahana, Yasavahana and Vasavatti, and being entertained and served by one hundred and twenty thousand female attendants headed by his Chief Consort Vasudatta.
While he was thus living the royal household life, Princess Vasudatta gave birth to a son, named Uttara. Having seen the four omens, he resolved to undertake the noble task of renunciation. No sooner had he thus resolved, the Vasavatti Palace rotated thoroughly like a potter’s wheel and rose up to the sky. Then it moved on its course, like the moon and other heavenly bodies, and descended onto the ground with the Bodhi tree at its centre.
The Bodhisatta got down from the palace and putting on the lotus robes offered by the Brahmā, he became a recluse at that very place. The palace then returned to the city and stood at its original site. Except womenfolk, all those who accompanied the Bodhisatta also became recluses themselves.
Buddha Padumuttara practised dukkaracariyā with His companions for seven days. On the full-moon day of Vesākha, the day of His Enlightenment, He ate the milk-rice offered by Rucananda, daughter of the local wealthy man of Ujjeni Nigama. Having passed the daytime in a sāla grove, He went alone, in the evening, to the Bodhi tree. On the way, He accepted eight handfuls of grass offered by a heretic named Sumitta. As soon as He spread the grass at the foot of the Bodhi tree, Salaḷa, there appeared the Aparājita Pallanka, which was thirty-eight cubits. Sitting cross-legged on the pallanka, He mustered His energy of four levels and dispelled Mara’s forces. He acquired Pubbenivāsa ñāṇa in the first watch of the night, Dibbacakkhu ñāṇa in the middle watch and contemplated the Paṭicca-samuppāda Dhamma in the third watch. After contemplating it, the Bodhisatta emerged from the fourth jhāna of respiration, and viewed the five aggregates with their characteristics. By means of the knowledge of rise and fall (udayabbaya ñāṇa) of all (conditioned) things, He contemplated the impermanent in fifty modes, and developed Vipassanā insight up to gotrabhū ñāṇa (Knowledge of overcoming worldly ties). Through the ariya-magga, He realized all the attributes of Buddhas (i.e. He attained Buddhahood) and uttered the verse of elation: “Anekajati samsāram..... tanhanam khayamajjhagā”. This utterance was customarily made by all Buddhas.
No sooner had the Bodhisatta become a Buddha, a rain of lotuses fell as though to adorn every thing in the ten-thousand world-system.
What is particularly noteworthy is:
After becoming an Enlightened One, Buddha Padumuttara stayed absorbed in the phala-samāpatti for seven days under the Bodhi tree (in the first week). On the eighth day, He thought He would set His foot on the ground, and as He was trying to put down His right foot on the ground, Paduma lotuses, which normally flower in water, miraculously pushed through the earth and appeared under His feet.
Each lotus leaf measured nine cubits, each stamen filament, holding pollen, thirty cubits; each pollen, twelve cubits and each bloom had pollen that would fill nine water-jars.
Buddha Padumuttara was fifty-eight cubits tall; the measurement between the two arms was eighteen cubits; that of His forehead five cubits and that of each hand and leg eleven cubits. As His leg of eleven cubits trod on, another pollen of twelve cubits, about nine jar-full of pollen, rose up and spread all over His body of fifty eight cubits in height as though powder of red orpiment and sulphuret of arsenic was sprinkled on it. On account of this particular happening, the Buddha was renowned as Buddha Padumuttara.
(This was the description made by reciters of the Saṃyutta Nikāya.)
Three Occasion of The Buddha’s Teaching (Dhammābhisamaya)
Having attained Buddhahood, Buddha Padumuttara stayed near the Mahābodhi (Salaḷa) tree for seven weeks. Having accepted a Brahmā’s request, He thought as to whom He should teach first and saw Prince Devala and Prince Sujātā (His future Chief Disciples) who were endowed with the merits of their past deeds leading to the Path, Fruition and Nibbāna. Then He thought of their whereabouts and came to know that they were staying in Mithilā. Accordingly, taking His bowl and robe, and by His psychic power, the Buddha immediately appeared in the garden of Mithilā City.
Buddha Padumuttara then sent the gardener for the two princes, who discussed thus among themselves: “Our uncle’s son, Prince Padumuttara, after becoming a Buddha has come to our place of Mithilā city. We shall now visit Him.” Then they approached the Buddha with their retinues and sat at suitable places.
Buddha Padumuttara appeared resplendent with the Princes waiting upon Him, like the full moon attended upon by stars, He taught the audience of devas and humans led by the Princes, the Dhammacakka-pavattana Sutta which was also taught by all past Buddhas. At that time a hundred thousand crores of devas and humans attained the Path, Fruition and Nibbāna.
(This was the first Dhammābhisamaya.)
At another time, Sarada the hermit was teaching his followers some evil doctrine that would lead them to rebirth in woeful states. The Buddha went to Sarada’s assembly and taught His Dhamma, giving the congregation illustrations of dangers of rebirth in niraya (abode of intense suffering). At that time, thirty-seven hundred thousand devas and humans, including the disciples of Sarada, attained the Path, Fruition and Nibbāna. (This was the second Dhammābhisamaya.)
Still at another time, the Buddha’s father, King Ānanda, sent twenty ministers with twenty thousand men to bring back Buddha Padumuttara, who was staying at Mithilā, to his home city of Hamsavatī (the way King Suddhodāna did for his son Buddha Gotama.) On arriving in the presence of the Buddha in Mithilā, the twenty ministers and their twenty thousand men were called upon: “Come, O monks” by the Buddha, after giving them a sermon. They became ehi-bhikkhus”. Accompanied by them, He travelled to Haṃsavati and stayed in the city to up-lift the royal father spiritually.
Like our Buddha Gotama who visited Kapilavatthu and narrated the ‘Chronicle of Buddhas’ (Buddhavaṃsa) in the assembly of His relatives, Buddha Padumuttara also taught Buddhavaṃsa in the midst of His relatives while walking on the jewel-walk in the sky. At that time, five million devas and humans attained the Path, Fruition and Nibbāna.
(This was the third Dhammābhisamaya.)
Three Occasions of The Disciples’ Meeting (Sannipāta)
The meetings of Padumuttara’s disciples took place three times. In the first meeting of a hundred thousand crores of bhikkhus on the full-moon day of the month of Māgha, the Buddha recited Ovāda Pāṭimokkha in the garden nearby, also named Mithilā
(This was the first sannipāta.)
At another time, after observing vassa at Mount Vebhāra, the Buddha taught numerous people who had come to see Him; on being called upon by the Buddha: “Come O monks”, ninety crores of them became ehi-bhikkhus. At the meeting of these bhikkhus, the Buddha recited Ovāda Pāṭimokkha.
(This was the second sannipāta.)
Still at another time, Buddha Padumuttara, Lord of the three worlds, while travelling, in order to help multitudes of people free from the bonds of defilements, recited Ovāda Pāṭimokkha at the meeting of eighty thousand monks, who as lay men had gone forth in renunciation from various villages, market-towns, districts and countries.
(This was the third sannipāta.)
Future Buddha Gotama, as a Governor, received Prophecy from Buddha Padumuttara
At that time, our future Buddha Gotama was Jatila, governor of a province and was very wealthy. He performed a great alms-giving of food and clothing-material to the Sangha, with the Buddha at its head. At the end of the sermon, which was delivered in appreciation of the alms-giving, the Buddha prophesied 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.
Unusual Features of Buddha Padumuttara’s Dispensation
When Buddha Padumuttara appeared, the opposing heretics who were holding wrong views, were unhappy, distressed, powerless and fading away. They received no respect, no generosity and the like, even from a few people. In fact, they were driven out of the country.
Then the heretics met together and approached the Buddha with these words: “Most energetic, heroic, Venerable Sir, may you be our Refuge.”
The compassionate Buddha Padumuttara established the heretics, who had come to Him, in the Three Refuges together with the observance of the Five Precepts.
In this way the Dispensation of Buddha Padumuttara was free of heretics who were holding wrong views. It was indeed marvellous with arahats who were accomplished in the five kinds of mastery, who were not affected by (vicissitudes) of the world and who had the virtues of sīla, samādhi, paññā and khantī.
Particulars of Buddha Padumuttara
Buddha Padumuttara’s birthplace was Haṃsavati City. His father was King Ānanda and His mother was Queen Sujātā.
His Chief Consort was Vasudatta who was attended by forty-three thousand maids of honour. His son was Prince Uttara.
(The number of the maids is given as a hundred and twenty thousand in the section on ‘royal household life’ but here it is mentioned as forty-three thousand. The two numbers therefore seems inconsistent. It should be noted, however, that the former was the total number of maids serving the Princess and the latter was the number of maids in each batch that waited upon the Princess at a time.)
The vehicle during His renunciation, after seeing the four omens, was a palace. He practised dukkaracariyā for seven days.
Buddha Padumuttara’s height was fifty-eight cubits. Endowed with thirty-two marks of an extra-ordinary being, He was like a column of gold erected as an object of worship.
The rays emitting from the Buddha’s body cannot be hindered by gates, doors, walls, trees, high and huge earthen hills, rocky mountains and the like. In fact, the rays shone forth within the surrounding area of twelve yojanas.
The life span during Buddha Padumuttara’s time was a hundred thousand years. He lived for eighty thousand years, (four-fifths of the life span) and rescued many beings, such as devas, humans and Brahmās, from the currents of saṃsāra and placed them on the shores of Nibbāna.
Having eradicated all kinds of doubt in beings whom He conveyed to Nibbāna, Buddha Padumuttara with His bhikkhu disciples, attained the end of His existence (just as a great mass of fire became extinct after burning brightly)!
Here ends Buddha Padumuttaravaṃsa
Footnotes and references:
Ten modes for each of the five khandhas make 50 altogether. The ten modes are enumerated in the Patisambhida Magga Commentary as follows: Impermanent (anicca), crumbling (paloka), unstable (cala), disintegrating (pabhangu), uncertain (addhuva), mutable (viparinama dhamma), essence-less (asara), unprosperous (vibhava) and liable to death (marana dhamma).