by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Piyadassi 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).
When the aeon in which Buddha Sujātā appeared had come to an end and one thousand eight hundred aeons had elapsed, in a certain (Vara) aeon there appeared three Buddhas, namely, Piyadassī, Atthadassī and Dhammadassī. The story of Piyadassī, the first of these three, is as follows:-
On completion of his fulfilment of the Perfections, Bodhisatta Piyadassī was reborned in Tusitā which was a common practice of Bodhisattas. Having agreed to the entreaties of devas and Brahmās to becoming a Buddha, he descended to the human world to be conceived in the womb of Queen Candā, Queen of King Sudatta, in the city of Sudhannavati. When ten months had elapsed, the Bodhisatta was born in the garden, named Varuṇa.
The Bodhisatta was given the name of Piyadassī as delightful miracles were manifest to multitudes of people on his naming day.
Royal Household Life
When the Bodhisatta came of age, he lived in three palaces, namely, Sunimmala, Vimala and Giriguha. Being entertained and served by Princess Vimalā and her thirty-three thousand maids of honour for nine thousand years, he enjoyed a divine-like royal household life.
After seeing the four omens and after Princess Vimalā had given birth to a son, named Kancanavela, he went forth in a chariot drawn by thoroughbred steeds. A crore of men were inspired and became recluses themselves.
Attainment of Buddhahood
With that crore of recluses, Bodhisatta Piyadassī practised dukkaracariyā for six months. On the full-moon day of Vesākha, the day of his Enlightenment, he partook the milk-rice offered by the daughter of Brahmin Vasabha, resident of the brahmin village of Varuṇa and spent the daytime in the local sāla grove. He went alone to the Mahābodhi tree in the evening. On the way, he accepted eight handfuls of grass offered by Sujātā the heretic. As soon as he spread the grass under the Bodhi tree, Kakudha, there appeared the Aparājita Pallanka, which was fifty-three cubits. Sitting cross-legged on it, and mustering his energy of four levels, he drove away Māra’s forces and attained Omniscience, Perfectly Self-Enlightened Buddhahood and state of the Chief of the three worlds.
Three Occasions of The Buddha’s Teaching (Dhammābhisamaya)
After His Enlightenment, Buddha Piyadassī stayed in the neighbourhood of the Mahābodhi tree for forty-nine days, liked what previous Buddhas did. He discerned that the one crore of recluses, who had renounced the world with Him, were endowed with the merits of their past deeds which lead to the attainment of the Path and Fruition. He then, by psychic power, immediately appeared in the royal garden, which was named after the nearby city of Usabhavati. Being surrounded by the crore of recluses, He taught the Dhammacakka-pavattana Sutta, which was also taught by previous Buddhas, to devas and Brahmās who had gathered there to listen to Him.
(This was the first Dhammābhisamaya.)
The Buddha’s second teaching took place on the mountain of Sudassana, near Usabhavati City. Sudassana, the yakkha King of the mountain, was then holding a wrong view. People living in Jambudīpa annually brought food costing a hundred thousand pieces of money to offer to him, who, sitting side by side with the human King of Usabhavati, was honoured by the whole continent as god.
At that time, thinking that He would remove Sudassana’s wrong view, Buddha Piyadassī went to his mansion, while he was away at a meeting of yakkhas. He sat on Sudassana’s splendid couch and stayed there emitting His rays of six colours, like the sun appearing at the top of Yugandhara mountain in the month of Kattikā (October-November), in autumn. Sudassana’s retinue of yakkhas honoured the Buddha with flowers, scents, unguent, etc., surrounding Him.
On his return from the yakkhas' meeting, Sudassana saw the rays of six colours coming out from his mansion, he thought to himself: “Never have I seen before such splendour of diverse brilliant colours. Who could be the person occupying my place? Is it a human being? Or a divine one?” On surveying, he saw the Buddha with a network of rays of six colours like the autumnal sun rising from Mount Yugandhara. “This shaven-headed monk is sitting on my luxurious bed being surrounded by members of my retinue,” said Sudassana to himself, with his heart tormented by anger. “Well, I shall display my physical might to this monk.” So thinking, he turned the whole mountain into a mass of blazing flames.
Having done so, he inspected, wondering “whether the shaven headed monk has become ashes in the flames,” but saw the Buddha with a serene face and a glorious body emitting brilliant lights because of the network of diverse rays. “This monk can withstand the burning fire,” he thought. “Well, I shall drown Him in a huge flood of water.” He then caused an immense mass of water to rush into the mansion with a high speed. Though the Buddha was remaining in the mansion flooded with water, not even a single thread of His robe nor a single hair of His body got wet.
After that the yakkha king, Sudassana, contemplated another method by which he hoped the Buddha would be suffocated and killed. He brought the mass of water close to the Buddha, who appeared glorious in the greenish blue waters with all network of rays like the bright moon on the full-moon night of Kattikā and seated being surrounded by Sudassana’s courtiers. Unable to control his anger and thinking: “I shall put the great monk to death by all means,” he caused a rain of nine kinds of weapons to fall on the Buddha. Because of the Buddha’s great physic power, all these weapons turned themselves into various beautiful and fragrant clusters and garlands of flowers and fell at His feet.
Seeing that miraculous phenomenon, Sudassana became much more resentful and violent (instead of getting awed with faith). He caught hold of the Buddha by the legs with his two hands and lifted Him up. Then passing over the great ocean, he rushed to the mountain ranges that mark the end of the Cakkavāḷa, for he wanted to rid his abode of the Buddha. “How is He? Is He dead or alive?” Thinking thus, he looked at the Buddha and (as though in a dream) saw Him remained seated in the mansion. It then occurred to him thus: “Ah, this great monk is so powerful, I was not able to drag Him out of my place. If somebody comes to know of what I am doing now, it will be a disgrace to me. Therefore, before anyone sees, I shall go away, abandoning both the monk and the mansion.”
At that moment, the Buddha, knowing Sudassana’s thoughts, resolved so that devas and humans could see him holding the His legs. In accordance with this resolve, Sudassana was unable to leave his abode (as he had planned) but remained there holding the Buddha’s legs with both of his hands.
That was the day when a hundred and one kings of the whole of Jambudīpa gathered together to honour the yakkha king with bali offerings. The hundred and one kings saw
Sudassana holding the Buddha’s legs and marvelled at what they saw, exclaiming: “Our King of yakkhas was massaging the legs of the King of recluses! Oh! Buddhas should be indeed marvelled at with the snapping of the fingers. Oh, their attributes are indeed wonderful!” With their hearts inclined towards the Buddha they paid homage to the Buddha with their elapsed hands placed on their heads.
At that gathering, Buddha Piyadassī gave Dhamma instructions to the audience with Sudassana at its head. Then ninety thousand crores of devas and humans attained arahantship.
(This was the second Dhammābhisamaya.)
At another time, in the city of Kumuda, which was nine yojanas in extent, its area being nine yojanas, the wicked monk Sona, opponent of Buddha Piyadassī (the counterpart of Devadatta in the lifetime of our Buddha Gotama), after consulting with the King’s son, Prince Mahāpaduma, incited him to kill his father. After various attempts to have Buddha Piyadassī killed proved futile, he enticed the driver of the royal elephant, Donamukha by name, whom he gave instructions, saying: “When Buddha Piyadassī entered the city on alms-round, kill Him by releasing Donamukha towards Him.”
Since the elephant-driver was not so intelligent to judge what was beneficial and what was not, he thought thus: “This monk Sona is an intimate friend of the King. If he does not like me, I could be dismissed from service.” So he agreed to do so. On the next day, he managed to know the time when the Buddha would enter the city for alms-food. Then he went to Donamukha, who was in a state of frenzy and made it more intoxicated and then sent it to kill the Buddha.
As soon as he was let out, Donamukha crushed elephants, horses, buffaloes, bulls, men and women whom he encountered on the way, destroyed all buildings that were in its way, and like a cannibal-demon, it devoured all the flesh of its preys in the noisy company of eagles, kites, crows and vultures. And finally, as soon as it saw the Buddha from a distance, it rushed towards Him at a high speed.
With their hearts which almost burst open with fear and anxiety, the citizens took to house-tops, walls, stone parapets, brick parapets, trees, etc., and on seeing the elephant, who was rushing to the Buddha, they' screamed: “Ah! Ah!” and some of them even tried to stop the elephant in various ways. Seeing Donamukha, the king of elephant rushing towards Him, the “Elephant of A Buddha”, with His tranquil heart, diffusing intense compassion, permeated it with sublime loving-kindness. Then Donamukha, its heart made tender with the permeation of the Buddha’s loving-kindness, realized its wrong-doing and became so shameful that it could not stand in a natural manner before the Buddha but lay down with its head at the Buddha’s feet as though it was about to sink into the earth.
Watching the event, the citizens were filled with joy and shouted in acclaim, like the roar of a lion. They also honoured the elephant in various ways, with highly fragrant flowers, sandal-wood powder, ornaments and so on. They even threw up their turbans and garments. Celestial drums were also beaten in the sky.
(Nāḷāgīri, the elephant during the time of our Buddha Gotama, was similarly tamed, and when it was respectfully lying before the Buddha, people threw on it various adornments, which covered the whole of its body. From that moment onwards, Nāḷāgīri had been called Dhanapāla ('Keeper of Wealth'). Thereupon, it walked backwards with respect and when it had entered its shed, it is said (in the Cūlahamsa Jātaka Commentary), the adornments went back to their respective original owners owing to the Buddha’s resolve. In the same way, when the people threw theirs on Donamukha, it should be taken that they were given as reward to the elephant.)
Then the Buddha stroked the head of the elephant who was lying prostrated at His feet and exhorted it with the words that suited its mentally. The elephant that has thus been exhorted regained its conscience and became so tamed that it looked like a monk-disciple of the Buddha, disciplined in Vinaya. Having exhorted Donamukha the way Buddha Gotama exhorted Dhanapala, Buddha Piyadassī give a discourse in the midst of the people who had gathered there. At that time, eighty thousand crores of people attained the Path and Fruition.
(This was the third Dhammābhisamaya.)
Three Occasions of The Disciples’ Meeting (Sannipāta)
There were three meetings of the Disciples of the Buddha. On the first occasion, when Buddha Piyadassī paid a visit to the city of Sumangala, the two friends, Prince Palita and the youth, Sabbadassi, son of the King’s purohita, (both were His future Chief Disciples) hearing of the Buddha’s visit to their city, they welcomed Him together with their one hundred thousand crores of retinue. They listened to His sermon and gave alms for seven days. On the seventh day, at the end of the Buddha’s sermon which was given in appreciation of the meal, both of them, together with their hundred thousand crores of followers, became monks and attained arahantship. In the midst of these monks, the Buddha recited the Ovāda Pāṭimokkha.
(This was the first sannipāta.)
At another time, at the gathering where the divine-yakkha Sudassana was tamed, ninety crores of men put on the robe and attained arahantship. Being surrounded by these ninety crores of monks, the Buddha recited the Ovāda Pāṭimokkha.
(This was the second sannipāta.)
Still at another time, on the occasion of taming of the elephant Donamukham, eighty crores of men renounced the world and attained arahantship. In the midst of these eighty crores of arahats, the Buddha recited the Ovāda Pāṭimokkha.
(This was the third sannipāta.)
Future Buddha Gotama, as Brahmin Kassapa, received Prophecy from Buddha Piyadassī
At that time, our future Buddha 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 one hundred thousand crores. He then offered it to the Sangha headed by the Buddha. Rejoicing in his act of merit, he took refuge in the Three Gems and kept the Five Precepts steadfastly, lest he should become heedless.
Remaining in the midst of the Sangha, Buddha Piyadassī made the prophecy concerning the youth, Kassapa: “One thousand eight hundred 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.
Particulars of Buddha Piyadassī.
Buddha Piyadassī’s birthplace was Sudhāññavatī City. His father was King Sudatta and His mother was Queen Candā.
He reigned for nine thousand years. His three palaces were Sunimmala, Vimala and Giriguha.
His Chief Consort was Vimalā who had thirty-three thousand maids of honour. His son was Prince Kañcanavela.
The vehicle He used for His going forth, after seeing the four omens, was a chariot drawn by thoroughbred horses. He practised dukkaracariyā for six months.
Buddha Piyadassī had innumerable followers and good reputation. He was also endowed with thirty-two marks of an extra-ordinary being. His height was eighty cubits, like a great sāla tree in full bloom.
There was no torch-light, moonlight or sunlight that could vie with the physical light of the peerless Buddha Piyadassī which surpassed them all.
The life span during the time of Buddha Piyadassī was ninety thousand years. Living for four-fifth of this life span, He rescued many beings, such as devas, humans and Brahmās, from the currents of saṃsāra and put them on the shores of Nibbāna.
Buddha Piyadassī, who was to be liken with past peerless Buddhas, and the pair of His peerless Chief Disciples, etc., had all vanished. Unsubstantial and futile indeed are all conditioned things!
In this way, the Noble Monk, Buddha Piyadassī attained Parinibbāna in the park of Assattha trees. In that park, the cetiya erected and dedicated to Buddha Piyadassī (as has been stated before for other Buddhas) was three yojanas high.
Here ends Piyadassī Buddhavaṃsa.
Footnotes and references:
With the snapping of the fingers: equivalent to expression of praise or approval with clapping of the hands.
“Elephant of a Buddha”: Noble Ones such as Buddhas and arahats are sometimes figuratively likened to such noble animals as elephants, lions, bulls, etc. in Buddhist literature. For instance in the Dhammapada, there is a chapter named Nāga Vagga, the verses of which described the qualities of a nāga “elephant”, that may be compared to those of a sage in the Milindapañha, the epithet Buddha-nāga is conspiquously mentioned.