by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Sumedha Buddhavamasa 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).
After the lapse of the aeon in which Buddha Padumuttara appeared, there passed seventy thousand suñña-kappas, which was devoid of Buddhas. In one kappa, three thousand aeons before the present one, there appeared two Buddhas, namely Sumedha and Sujātā. (It was a manda-kappa.)
Of these two Buddhas, Buddha Sumedha, as a Bodhisatta, on complete fulfilment of the Perfections was reborn in Tusitā which was a common practice of Bodhisattas. Having accepted the request made by devas and Brahmās to becoming a Buddha, he descended to the human world to be conceived in the womb of Sudatta, Queen of King Sudatta. When ten months had passed, the Bodhisatta was born in Sudassana royal gardens.
Royal Household Life
When he came of age, Prince Sumedha lived in three palaces, namely, Sucandāna, Kancana and Sirivaddhana. Entertained and served by his Chief Consort Sumanā and her forty-eight thousand maids of honour, he thus enjoyed a divine-like royal household life for nine thousand years.
While he was thus living a royal household life, Princess Sumanā gave birth to a son, named Punabbasu. Having seen the four omens, he renounced the world riding an elephant and became a recluse. Joining him in renunciation were one hundred crores of men who also became recluses.
Attainment of Buddhahood
Bodhisatta Sumedha observed dukkaracariyā with the hundred crores of recluses for fifteen days (for eight months according to the Sinhalese version). On the day of His Enlightenment, the full-moon day of Vesākha, he ate the milk-rice offered by Nakula, daughter of a wealthy man of Nakula village, and spent the daytime in the local sāla grove. In the evening, leaving his companions, he went alone (to the Bodhi Tree). On the way, he accepted eight handfuls of grass from a heretic, named Sirivaddhana. As soon as he spread the grass under the Mahābodhi (Mahānipa) tree, there appeared the Aparājita Pallanka of fifty-seven cubits. Sitting cross-legged on the pallanka, the Bodhisatta mustered his energy of four levels, dispelled Māra’s forces and attained the state of a Buddha, Omniscient, and Perfectly Self-Enlightened One, Lord of the three worlds.
Three Occasions of The Buddha’s Teaching (Dhammābhisamaya)
Having attained Buddhahood, Buddha Sumedha stayed near the Mahābodhi for seven weeks. Agreeing to the entreaty made by a Brahmā, He saw His younger half-brothers, Princes Sarana and Sabbakama (His future Chief Disciples), and also the hundred crores of recluses who were His companions in renunciation. He then, by His psychic power, immediately appeared at Sudassana royal gardens near the city of Sudassana.
On seeing the Buddha from a distance, the hundred crores of recluses, with faithful heart, welcomed Him: taking His bowl and robe, preparing His seat, paying respects and taking their seats around Him. Then the Buddha sent the gardener for His brothers, Princes Sarana and Sabhakama. He then taught the Dhammacakka-pavattana Discourse to all, including devas and humans, who had went to listen to Him. At that time, one hundred thousand crores of devas and humans attained the Path and Fruition.
(This was the first Dhammābhisamaya.)
At another time, having engaged in mahā-karuṇā samāpatti (attainment of great compassion) in the morning and surveyed the beings who were ripe for liberation, Buddha Sumedha saw a yakkha, named Kumbhakanna, a man-eating demon who revealed his terrible appearance at an entrance of a thick forest, thus making the forest tracks deserted. Buddha Sumedha went alone to the yakkha’s dwelling and, after entering it, sat on his prepared seat.
Then Kumbhakanna became furious, like an extremely poisonous snake struck with a stick. In order to threaten the Buddha, he assumed a horrible shape with his head like a mountain, his eyes opened wide and bright like sunrays; his long and broad fangs like ploughshares;his belly skin (dark blue), flabby and pendulous; his nose concave in the middle, convex at its base and tip and terrifyingly ugly; his mouth wide and reddened like a mountain cavity; his hair thick, tawny and rough. With this most terrible appearance, he stood before the Buddha, breathing forth smoke and flames towards Him and showered on Him rain of rocks, mountains, fire, hot water, hot mud, hot ashes, arms, burning coal, and hot sand. Despite this rain of ninefold weapons, the yakkha was unable to ruffle even a single hair on the Buddha’s body. Thinking to himself: “I will kill Him by asking a question”, he put forwards a question, like the yakkha Ālavaka, to the Buddha. By successfully answering the yakkha's question, Buddha Sumedha tamed him.
On the second day, which happened to be the day the ruler of a nearby country was supposed to sacrifice his son to the yakkha, the countrymen brought cart-loads of food and offered it, together with the prince, to the yakkha. Instead, the yakkha offered the prince, whom he was to devour, to the Buddha. Having heard the good news, the people, who were waiting at the entrance of the forest, approached the Buddha. In that assembly, Buddha Sumedha preached to the yakkha a suitable sermon and helped ninety thousand crores of beings attained the knowledge of the Path.
(This was the second Dhammābhisamaya.)
Still on another occasion, Buddha Sumedha taught the Four Noble Truths to devas and humans in the garden of Sirinandāna, near. the city of Upakari. At that time, eighty thousand crores of them attained the Path and Fruition.
(This was the third Dhammābhisamaya.)
Three Occasions of The Disciples’ Meeting (Sannipāta)
There were three sannipāta, meetings of Buddha Sumedha’s disciples. In the first meeting, the Buddha was in the city of Sudassana. Then one hundred crores of arahats happened to have congregated.
(This was the first sannipāta.)
(This was the second sannipāta.)
Still at another time, the Buddha set out on a journey. Then the eighty crores of monks, who followed the Buddha on His journey, met.
(This was the third sannipāta.)
Future Buddha Gotama, as The Youth Uttara, received Prophecy from Buddha Sumedha
At that time, our Bodhisatta was a young man named Uttara, which means one who excels all others in virtues. He gave the Sangha, headed by the Buddha, his wealth of eighty crores, which was accumulated in his residence. After hearing the Buddha’s sermon, he was established in the three Refuges and became 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 future.”
Hearing the Buddha’s prophecy, the Bodhisatta was overjoyed and resolved to fulfil the Perfections even more.
Mindfully cultivating and developing his virtues as a monk in three postures of sitting, standing and walking (but entirely without lying down), he reached not only the eight attainments but the apex of the five psychic powers and on his death, he was reborn in the Brahmā abode.
Particulars of Buddha Sumedha
Buddha Sumedha’s birthplace was Sudassana. His father was King Sudatta and His mother was Queen Sudatta.
He reigned for nine thousand years. His three palaces were Sucandāna, Kañcana and Sirivaḍḍhana.
His Chief Consort was Sumanā who had eighty-four thousand maids of honour. His son was Prince Punabbasu.
His height was eighty-eight cubits. The rays emanating from His body spread over all directions, like the moon lighting up the sky and its stars.
Or, the Buddha’s body rays spread everywhere in the area of one yojana, like the Universal Monarch’s ruby shining all around to the extent of a yojana.
The life span during Buddha Sumedha’s time was ninety thousand years. He lived throughout, for four-fifths of this life spans, and rescued beings, such as devas, humans and Brahmās, from saṃsāric waters and placed them on Nibbānic shores.
Buddha Sumedha’s Dispensation witnessed numerous noble arahats (arahats were everywhere in His Dispensation) who were endowed with the threefold Knowledge and the sixfold Psychic Power, who were possessed of energy, who were undisturbed by the vicissitude of the world, who had the ability to view things, pleasant or unpleasant, in one and the same manner.
These noble arahats of incomparable fame were all liberated from defilements and free of four upadhis, bases of existence. The arahats, who were the Buddha’s disciples, having large retinues, shed the light of their wisdom and attained peaceful Nibbāna.
In this way Buddha Sumedha, Conqueror of the five Maras, attained Parinibbāna in the gardens of Medha. His relics dispersed in accordance with His resolve and existed all over Jambudīpa, being honoured by beings such as devas, humans and Brahmās.
Here ends Sumedha Buddhavaṃsa.
Footnotes and references:
Yakkha Alavaka: The best known yakkha of Buddha Gotama’s lifetime. He was King of Alavi. Once while he was away, the Buddha went to his palace and preached to his women-folk. Hearing of the Buddha’s intrusion, the furious Alavaka hurried home and tried to drive the Buddha out of his residence, but in vain. On the contrary, it was the Buddha who succeeded in softening the yakkha's anger. Yet the yakkha asked some questions just to fatigue the Buddha, who answered them to Ālavaka’s satisfaction and thereby making him a sotāpanna.