by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Kassapa 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 Koṇāgamana attainment of Parinibbāna in this very bhadda-kappa, the life span of human beings gradually decreased from thirty thousand years to ten years and increased to asaṅkhyeyyas. When it reached twenty thousand years on its next decline, Bodhisatta Kassapa was reborn in Tusitā. Having complied with the request made by devas and Brahmās to becoming a Buddha, he descended to the human world to be conceived in the womb of Dhanavaī, a brahmin lady and wife of Brahmadatta Brahmin in the city of Bārāṇasī, which was ruled by King Kikī. When ten months had elapsed, the Bodhisatta was born in Isipatana Deer Park.
On his naming day, learned readers of omens and his relatives named him Kassapa, for he was a descendant of the clan of that name.
Divine-Like Household Life
When the boy Kassapa came of age, he lived in three mansions, namely, Haṃsa, Yasa and Sirinanda. Being entertained and served by his wife Sunandā, a brahmin lady, who had forty-eight thousand female attendants, he thus enjoyed a divine-like household life for two thousand years.
When he had seen the four omens while living a household life and when his wife Sunandā had given birth to a son, named Vinjitasena, he was stirred with religious emotion and he thought to himself: “I shall renounce the world immediately today.”
No sooner had he thought thus, the Bodhisatta’s mansion rotated like a potter’s wheel and flew up to the sky. And, like the moon coming out in the company of stars in autumn, it produced a very delightful light, and the mansion moved on, with hundreds of people accompanying it as though adorning the vault of heavens, as though exhibiting its glory, as though attracting spectators and captivating their hearts and as though lending splendour to the tree-tops. Finally, it came down to the ground with the Nigrodha Bodhi tree in its centre.
Then the Bodhisatta got down from the mansion. Standing on the ground, he accepted the robes offered by a Brahmā and put them on. The Bodhisatta’s wife and female attendants also got down from the mansion and went to a distance of forty usabhas (half a gāvuta) where they erected temporary shelters like barracks of an army. Joining the Bodhisatta, all the men, who had come along with him, also renounced the world.
Attainment of Buddhahood
With the recluses who had joined him, Bodhisatta Kassapa practised dukkaracariyā. On the full moon of Vesākha, the day on which he would become a Buddha, he partook the milk-rice offered by his wife Sunanda and spent the day-time in the local grove of acacias. In the evening, he proceeded alone to the Mahābodhi tree. On the way, he accepted eight handfuls of grass offered by Soma, a watchman of barley fields. As soon as he spread the grass at the foot of the Mahābodhi tree, there appeared the Aparājita Pallanka of fifteen cubit feet. Sitting cross-legged on the pallanka, he concentrated his energy of four levels and, in the same manner as previous Buddhas, he attained Buddhahood.
Five Occasions of The Buddha’s Teaching (Dhammābhisamaya)
After His attainment of Buddhahood, Buddha Kassapa stayed in the vicinity of Mahābodhi tree for forty-nine days. Having complied with a Brahmā’s request for His Teaching, He contemplated as to whom He should teach first and He saw the crore of recluses, His companions in renunciation, who were endowed with the merits of their past deeds which could lead to the Path and Fruition. By His psychic power, He immediately appeared at their residence, Isipatana Deer Park, near the city of Bārāṇasī. Staying in the middle of these recluses, the Buddha taught the Dhammacakka sermon by following the practice of previous Buddhas, as well as to devas and Brahmās, who went to listen respectfully. By the end of the sermon, two crores of devas and humans attained the Path and Fruition.
(This was the first Dhammābhisamaya.)
At a later time, when Buddha Kassapa taught Dhamma while travelling from town to town, from village to village, and from market-town to market-town, ten thousand crores of devas and humans attained the Path and Fruition.
(This was the second Dhammābhisamaya.)
Still at a later time, when Buddha Kassapa displayed the Twin Miracle of water and fire and taught the Dhamma near the asana tree, close to the gate of Sundara city, five thousand crores of devas and humans penetrated the Four Noble Truths and gained Emancipation.
(This was the third Dhammābhisamaya.)
Having displayed the Twin Miracle of water and fire, Buddha Kassapa, in the celestial assembly hall named Sudhamma in Tāvatiṃsa, taught Abhidhamma in order to benefit devas and Brahmās who had assembled there and respectfully listening. This Dhamma was especially meant for a deva, who had been His mother. At that time, three thousand crores of devas and Brahmās penetrated the Four Noble Truths and gained Emancipation.
(This was the fourth Dhammābhisamaya.)
There was once an ogre who was as powerful as the one named Naradeva during Buddha Kakusandha’s lifetime. He was well known by the same name of Naradeva. Assuming the appearance of a king ruling in a city outside Jambudīpa and also assuming the king’s voice, behaviour and other characteristics, he killed the king and devoured him. Then he ruled over the whole kingdom slaying many people for food. He also indulged into debauchery pleasures with women.
When intelligent queens, maids of honour and members of retinue discovered that “This man is not our master, nor our king. He is indeed a yakkha,” he felt threatened and then killed and devoured them all and moved on to another city where he made himself king in the similar manner.
Killing and devouring people in this way, Naradeva arrived at Sundara City. Having heard of his reign of terror, the citizens became scared of the danger of death and fled from their city. Seeing the tumultuous situation of the people, Buddha Kassapa went and stood before the yakkha. When he saw the Buddha standing in front of him, he defied the Buddha by roaring thunderously. Unable to frighten the Buddha, he approach him for refuge. He also put forward some questions which the Buddha answered to his satisfaction. When the Buddha admonished him and preached a sermon, a large multitude of devas and humans, who had assembled there respectfully to listen to it, penetrated the Four Noble Truths and gained Emancipation.
(This was the fifth Dhammābhisamaya.)
The Single Occasion of The Disciples' Meeting (Sannipāta)
The meeting of Buddha Kassapa’s arahat-disciples took place just once. In the city of Bārāṇasī, when Tissa, son of the Purohita, saw the thirty-two marks of an extra-ordinary being on the body of Bodhisatta Kassapa, he remembered his father’s word that “only those who would become Buddhas can have such marks”. As he had not one iota of doubt about it, he thought to himself: “This Kassapa will become a Buddha through supreme renunciation. I shall work hard to be free from suffering of saṃsāra after becoming a monk in the presence of this Buddha Kassapa.” Accordingly, he went to the Himalayas and became an ascetic even before Bodhisatta Kassapa renounced the world. The ascetics of his company were twenty thousand in number.
Later on, when he heard that “Kassapa, after renouncing the world, has now become a Buddha”, he left the Himalayas with his company of twenty thousand ascetics, and requested for monkhood in the presence of the Buddha. Being called upon by the Buddha, “Come, monks”, Tissa the ascetic, with his twenty thousand companions, became ehibhikkhus and attained arahantship. In the assembly of these twenty thousand monks, on the full moon of Māgha, Buddha Kassapa recited the Ovāda Pāṭimokkha.
(This was the only sannipāta.)
Future Buddha Gotama, as Jotipāla the Youth, received Prophecy from Buddha Kassapa
Meanwhile our future Buddha Gotama was famous as Jotipāla the youth. He could recited the Veda texts continuously, learned various hymns by heart, reached perfection in the Vedas and was accomplished in treatises on prognostication that explain physical marks of an extra-ordinary being, etc., treatises on legends that narrate ancient tales and all arts and crafts that had been handed down by generation after generation of teachers. No less accomplished, but fully well-versed and skilful was he in terrestrial science and celestial science.
Jotipāla was an intimate friend of Ghaṭīkāra the potter, who, being a noble supporter of Buddha Kassapa, was greatly devoted to the Three Gems and was famous as an anāgāmi devotee. Ghaṭīkāra the potter took him to Buddha Kassapa.
After listening to the Buddha’s Dhamma, Jotipāla became a monk in the Buddha’s presence. Highly energetic, clever in performing duties, big and small, and not negligent in any matters associated with the three trainings of morality, concentration, and wisdom, he shouldered responsibilities in the Buddha’s Dispensation.
Having learned the Teachings (Pariyatti) of the Buddha which comprised nine divisions, he glorified the Buddha’s Dispensation. Discerning Jotipāla’s aforesaid marvellous qualities, Buddha Kassapa prophesied of him: “This bhikkhu Jotipāla will indeed become a Buddha, named Gotama, even in this bhadda-kappa.”
On hearing the Buddha’s prophecy, the noble bhikkhu Jotipāla became overjoyed and resolved to fulfil the Ten Perfections even more energetically.
On account of his only wish, which was attainment of Omniscience, our Bodhisatta, who would become the inconceivable Lord of the three worlds, kept himself far away from all demeritorious deeds that are to be avoided throughout saṃsāra, repeated existences, and he put efforts unflinchingly to perform meritorious deeds, which ordinary people can hardly do, in absolute fulfilment of the Ten Perfections.
From the above, quoted Buddhavaṃsa Text, it seems that Ghaṭīkāra the potter brought his friend, Jotipāla the youth, to Kassapa Buddha without difficulty. In reality, however, he did not succeed easily in doing so. He had to persuade Jotipāla again and again and finally, used force by dragging him along by his hair. This is mentioned in the Ghaṭīkāra Sutta, Raja Vagga of the Majjhima Paññāsa. The detailed story of Ghaṭīkāra and that of Jotipāla should be known from that Sutta.
Particulars of Buddha Kassapa
Buddha Kassapa’s birthplace was Bārāṇasī City where King Kiki reigned. His father was Brahmin Brahmadatta and His mother was Dhanavati, a brahmin lady. He lived a household life for two thousand years. His three mansions were Haṃsa, Yasa and Sirinanda.
His wife was Sunandā, a brahmin lady who had forty-eight thousand female brahmin attendants. His son was Vijitasena.
The vehicle in which He renounced the world was a mansion. He practised dukkaracariyā for seven days.
Buddha Kassapa’s height was twenty cubits. He was glorious like forceful lightning and the full moon surrounded by planets and stars.
The life span during His time was twenty thousand years. He lived for four-fifths of this life span rescuing numerous beings from saṃsāric waters and placed them on the shores of Nibbāna.
Buddha Kassapa created the big pond of Pariyatti Dhamma for beings, such as devas, humans and Brahmās, and gave the ‘unguent of Catu Parisuddhi Sīla’ for them to beautify their minds, made them put on the garments of hirī and ottappa, distributed among them the flowers of thirty-seven Bodhi-pakkhiyā Dhammā, and placed the spotless mirror of sotāpatti-magga ñāṇa so that they could see clearly for themselves, distinguishing between faulty things and faultless things, between acts of merit and acts of unwholesomeness. He placed the mirror as though He were inviting those who were wandering in search of Nibbāna near the aforesaid pond, “Behold (yourselves in) all kinds of adornment.”
By providing those who listened to His admonishment with the clothing of the Five Precepts, Ten Precepts and the four Catuparisuddhi Sīla so that they could fight against their enemy of defilement. By making them fasten their coats of mail of the four mundane and five supramundane jhānas; by making them wear the leather robe of sati and sampajañña; by supplying them with the full military equipment of sublime energy of four levels; by giving them the shield of four satipaṭṭhānas so that they could defend themselves from various enemy defilements. (By making His army of Disciples) wield the lances of very sharp vipassanā-ñāṇa and gave them the sword of magga-paññā, the swords that had been sharpened on the whet stone of vīriya and by handing to them the supramundane precepts so that they could eradicate their inclinations to associate with defilements. By giving them various dressing articles of Three Vijjās and Six Abhiññānas, having fashioned the crowning flower of supramundane Fruitions so that they could adorn and beautify themselves with. And, by making a big cluster of the flowers of nine supramundane Dhammas and together with it, He gave them the white umbrella of arahatta-phala so that they could protect themselves against the sun of demerits. By so doing, Buddha Kassapa created the great bloom of the Eightfold Magga, leading happily to the haven of Nibbāna. That Buddha Kassapa and His numerous arahat-disciples attained Parinibbāna and came to the end of His final existence.
That Buddha Kassapa, the embodiment of unmeasured qualities, whom others could hardly approach; the gem of Dhamma taught by Him, was in a position to extend its bold invitation saying: “Come, have a look and try it as a practice.”; the gem of Sangha, the Order of Disciples who were most excellent and had practised that Gem of Dhamma well, all these had vanished. Unsubstantial and futile indeed are all conditioned things!
In this way, Buddha Kassapa, Conqueror of the five Maras, Teacher of devas and humans, attained Parinibbāna in a great park called Setavya, near Setavya City, in the country of Kāsi. People of Jambudīpa unanimously held a meeting and, for honouring, they erected a cetiya with bricks; each brick to lay externally costs a crore (of money) and each brick to lay internally costs five millions. This cetiya was one yojana high.
Here ends Kassapa Buddhavaṃsa.