by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Vessabhu 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).
After Buddha Sikhī’s attainment of Parinibbāna, in that very kappa of two Buddhas, the life span of human beings decreased gradually from seven thousand years to ten years; then it increased to asaṅkhyeyyas, and when it reached sixty thousand years on its next decline, on complete fulfilment of the Perfections, future Buddha Vessabhū, accepting the request made by devas and Brahmās to becoming a Buddha, descended to the human world to be conceived in the womb of Queen Yasavati, Consort of King Suppatita, in the city of Anoma. When ten months had elapsed, the Bodhisatta was born in Anupama Park.
When the Bodhisatta-prince was born, he uttered triumphant words that were pleasing to people and, on that account, on his naming day, learned readers of omens and his relatives named him Prince Vessabhū (By ‘triumphant words’ was meant three great words beginning. with “Aggo'ham'asmi lokassa,” etc., uttered courageously like the roar of a bull.)
Royal Household Life
When he came of age, Bodhisatta Vessabhū lived in three palaces, namely, Ruci, Suruci and Rativaddhana. Being entertained and served by thirty thousand female attendants headed by Princess Sucitta, he thus enjoyed a royal household life for six thousand years. Renunciation
When he had seen the four omens while enjoying royal household life and when Princess Sucitta had given birth to a son, named Suppabuddha, Bodhisatta Vessabhū renounced the world riding a golden palanquin to the royal gardens. He then wore the robes offered by Brahmā. Thirty-seven thousand men joined him and also became recluses by themselves.
Attainment of Buddhahood
With these thirty-seven thousand recluses, Bodhisatta Vessabhū practised dukkaracariyā for six months. On the full-moon day of Vesākha, the day he would become a Buddha, he partook the milk-rice offered by Sirivaddhana, resident of the market-town of Sucitta, and spent the day time in the local sāla grove. In the evening, he went alone to the Mahābodhi tree. On the way, he accepted eight handfuls of grass offered by Narinda, King of Nāgas. As soon as he spread the grass at the foot of the (sāla) Mahābodhi tree, there appeared the Aparājita Pallanka, measuring forty cubits.
Sitting on the pallanka, the Bodhisatta concentrated his energy of four levels and attained Buddhahood, in the same manner as previous Buddhas.
Three Occasions of The Buddha’s Teaching (Dhammābhisamaya)
After His attainment of Buddhahood, Buddha Vessabhū stayed in the neighbourhood of Mahābodhi tree for forty-nine days. Accepting a Brahmā’s request for His Teaching, He contemplated as to whom He should teach first and saw His younger half-brothers, Prince Sona and Prince Uttara, who were His future Chief Disciples, and who were endowed with the merits of their past deeds which led to the Path and Fruition, He immediately appeared in Aruna Park near Anupama City by His psychic power. He then sent the gardener for the two Princes and, in the midst of the two Princes and their retinues, He taught the Dhammacakka sermon, which previous Buddhas had taught too, to devas and Brahmās who had also went to listen the Dhamma respectfully. On that occasion, eighty thousand crores of devas and humans attained the Path and Fruition.
(This was the first Dhammābhisamaya.)
At a later time, when Buddha Vessabhū made a tour of big towns in the country and taught Dhamma, seventy thousand devas and humans of His audiences attained the Path and Fruition.
(This was the second Dhammābhisamaya.)
Still at a later time, Buddha Vessabhū, in the same city of Anupama, eradicated wrong views that were entangled like the meshes of net and highly injurious. In this way, He pulled down the ‘banner of arrogance’ of the heretics and hoisted the 'banner of noble Dhamma'. In this assembly of human beings, who had gathered in an area of nine yojanas, and a large multitude of devas and Brahmās, He displayed the Twin Miracle of water and fire and developing their faith, sixty crores of devas and humans were delighted with ‘Elixir of immortality’ administered by the Buddha. (That is to say, sixty crores of devas and humans gained Emancipation.)
(This was the third Dhammābhisamaya.)
Three Occasions of The Disciples’ Meeting (Sannipāta)
There were three meetings of Buddha Vessabhū’s disciples. The first took place on the full-moon day of Māgha. At that time, in the midst of eighty thousand crores of arahats, who had previously became monks at the meeting of Sona Thera and Uttara Thera (His future Chief Disciples), Buddha Vessabhū recited the Ovāda Pāṭimokkha.
(This was the first sannipāta.)
At a later time, there took place a meeting of thirty-seven thousand recluses of the town of Soreyya. They were those who followed Bodhisatta Vessabhū’s example when he renounced the world but, when the Bodhisatta left them and went alone to another place, they also moved on to somewhere else. On hearing that the Buddha had taught the Dhammacakka sermon, they went to Soreyya and paid homage to the Buddha, who taught them Dhamma and made them ehi-bhikkhus. In the audience consisting of four features, the Buddha recited the Ovāda Pāṭimokkha.
(This was the second sannipāta.)
Still at a later time, Buddha Vessabhū visited the city of Narivahana to give blessings to the city’s ruler, named Upasanta. Hearing of the Buddha’s visit, King Upasanta and his retinue immediately went out to welcome the Buddha, invited Him respectfully and performed a ceremony of grand alms-giving. Having listened to His Dhamma, the King was so filled with piety that he renounced the world. Joining him were sixty thousand of his men who also became monks by themselves. Together with Upasanta they attained arahantship. Being surrounded by these monks, the Buddha recited the Ovāda Pāṭimokkha.
(This was the third sannipāta.)
Future Buddha Gotama, as King Sudassana, received Prophecy from Buddha Vessabhū
Meanwhile, our future Buddha Gotama was King Sudassana who had an appearance, fair and pleasing to the eye, in the city of Sarabhavati. When Buddha Vessabhū, Lord of the three worlds, visited the city, he listened to the Buddha’s Dhamma and became so pleased that, with his folded hands raised to his head, he made a great alms-giving including robes to the Sangha, headed by the Buddha. In the very city of Sarabhavati, he built a monastery, called ‘Perfumed Chamber’, for the Buddha and also a thousand encircling monasteries for the Sangha, and offered to them.
Since the Bodhisatta was delighted profoundly with the Dhamma taught by Buddha Vessabhū, he desired fervently to become a monk. Accordingly, he gave away all his royal wealth to the cause of the Buddha’s Dispensation and took up, in the Buddha’s presence, the life of a virtuous monk, free from idleness, day and night. Having become a monk, he acquired moral qualities, observed all thirteen ascetic practices (dhutaṅgas) and lived in the Buddha’s Dispensation, being happy in fulfilment of the Perfections.
Filled with faith and joy, the Bodhisatta monk paid obeisance to Buddha Vessabhū. Then there occurred a great longing in him for Omniscience. Knowing that the Bodhisatta monk had undiminished energy, Buddha Vensabhū prophesied: “In the bhadda kappa, thirty-first aeon from the present one, this monk, Sudassana, will indeed become a Buddha, Gotama by name.”
Having heard Buddha Vessabhū’s prophecy, Bodhisatta monk Sudassana was overjoyed and determined to fulfil the Ten Perfections even more energetically.
Particulars of Buddha Vessabhū
Buddha Vessabhū’s birthplace was Anoma City. His father was King Suppatita and His mother was Queen Yasavati.
He reigned for six thousand years. His three palaces were Ruci, Suruci and Rativaḍḍhana.
His Chief Consort was Sucittā who had thirty thousand maids of honour. His son was Prince Suppabuddha.
The vehicle He used in renunciation, after seeing the four omens, was a golden palanquin. He practised dukkaracariyā for six months.
His two male Chief Disciples were Sona Thera and Uttara Thera. His attendant was Upasanta Thera.
Buddha Vessabhū’s height was sixty cubits and glorious like a golden column. The rays emitted from various parts of His body were particularly bright, like the fire on top of a hill at night.
The life span during Buddha Vessabhū’s time was sixty thousand years. He lived for four-fifth of this life span, rescuing beings, such as devas, humans and Brahmās, from saṃsāric waters and placed them on Nibbānic shores.
He explained Dhamma elaborately to people in accordance with their dispositions. Having bequeathed the Dhamma-boat to cross saṃsāric waters for the benefit of the posterity, Buddha Vessabhū with His arahat-disciples attained Parinibbāna.
Buddha Vessabhū and His arahats, who were worthy of veneration shown to them by devas, humans and Brahmās, and monastic buildings where they had physically maintained themselves, all had vanished. Unsubstantial and futile are all conditioned things!
In this manner, Buddha Vessabhū, Conqueror of the five māras and Teacher of devas and humans, attained Parinibbāna in Khemā Park, near Usabhavati City. His relics, according to His resolve, dispersed and reached everywhere in Jambudīpa (to be enshrined in cetiya) and became objects for honouring by beings such as devas, humans and Brahmās.
Here ends Vessabhū Buddhavaṃsa.