by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes The Treatise on the Marks of a Great Man 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 Jewel of the Buddha. 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).
It became possible for these Brahmins to read the physical marks of a Great Man, such as a Buddha and other Noble Ones, owing to the following events: At times when the appearance of a Buddha was drawing near, Mahā Brahmās of Suddhāvāsa abode incorporated in astrological works certain compilations of prognosticative matters with reference to the marks, etc., of a Great Man who would become a Buddha (Buddha Mahāpurisa Lakkhaṇa). The Brahmās came down to the human world in the guise of brahmin teachers and taught all those who came to learn as pupils. In so doing their idea was: “Those, who are possessed of accumulated merit and mature intelligence, will learn the works of astrology which include (the art of reading) the marks of a Great Man.” That was why these Brahmins were able to read the marks such as those indicating the future attainment of Buddhahood and others.
The Thirty-Two Major Marks of A Great Man
[For Anudīpanī, see Explanations of The Thirty-two Major Marks]
There are thirty-two major marks which indicate that their possessor is a Great Man (Bodhisatta). They are as follows:
(1) The mark of the level soles of the feet which, when put on the ground, touch it fully and squarely;
(2) The mark of the figures in the one hundred and eight circles on the sole of each foot together with the wheel having a thousand spokes, the rim, the hub and all other characteristics;
(3) The mark of the projecting heels;
(4) The mark of the long and tapering fingers and toes;
(5) The mark of the soft and tender palms and soles;
(6) The mark of the regular fingers and toes like finely rounded golden rail posts of a palace window; there is narrow space between one finger and another as well as between one toe and another;
(7) The mark of the slightly higher and dust-free ankles;
(8) The mark of the legs like those of an antelope called eṇi;
(9) The mark of the long palms of the hands which can touch the knees while standing and without stooping;
(11) The mark of the yellow and bright complexion as pure siṅgīnikkha gold;
(12) The mark of the smooth skin (so smooth that no dust can cling to it);
(13) The mark of the body-hairs, one in each pore of the skin;
(14) The mark of the body-hairs with their tips curling upwards as if they were looking up the Bodhisatta’s face in devotion;
(15) The mark of the upright body like a Brahmā's;
(16) The mark of the fullness of flesh in seven places of the body: the two upper parts of the feet, the two backs of the hands, the two shoulders and the neck;
(17) The mark of the full and well developed body, like a lion’s front portion;
(18) The mark of the full and well developed back of the body extending from the waist to the neck like a golden plank without any trace of the spinal furrow in the middle;
(19) The mark of the symmetrically proportioned body like the circular spread of a banyan tree, for his height and the compass of his arms are of equal measurement;
(20) The mark of the proportionate and rounded throat;
(21) The mark of the seven thousand capillaries with their tips touching one another at the throat and diffusing throughout the body the taste of food even if it is as small as a sesame seed;
(22) The mark of the lion-like chin (somewhat like that of one who is about to smile);
(23) The mark of the teeth numbering exactly forty;
(24) The mark of the teeth proportionately set in a row;
(25) The mark of the teeth touching one another with no space in between;
(26) The mark of the four canine teeth white and brilliant as the morning star;
(27) The mark of the long, flat and tender tongue;
(28) The mark of the voice having eight qualities as a Brahmā's;
[For Anudīpanī, see The Mark of the Voice having Eight Qualities as a Brahmā]
(29) The mark of the very clear blue eyes;
(30) The mark of the very soft and tender eyelashes like a newly born calf;
(31) The mark of the hair between the two eyebrows;
(32) The mark of the thin layer of flesh that appears by nature like a gold headband on the forehead.
Explanations of The Thirty-Two Major Marks
(1) The mark of the level soles of the feet which, when put on the ground, touch it fully and squarely.
When other persons set foot on the ground, the tip of the foot or the heel or the outer part of the sole touches the ground first, but the middle portion of the sole does not. So also when the foot is lifted from the ground, the tip or the heel or the outer part of the sole comes up first.
But when a superb man like the Bodhisatta puts down his foot on the ground, the entire sole touches it evenly the way the sole of a soft golden shoe does when placed on the ground. In the same manner, when his foot is raised, the different parts of the foot come up simultaneously.
In case the noble Bodhisatta wants to set his foot on the uneven ground, with holes, trenches, deep crevices, ditches, pits, banks and the like, all the concave parts of the earth rise at that very moment, like an inflated leather bag and the ground become even, like the face of a drum.
If he lifted his feet with intent to put it down at a distance, even the royal Mount Meru appeared underneath the sole of his feet in a moment.
(2) The mark of the figures in the one hundred and eight circles on the sole of each foot together with the wheel having a thousand spokes, the rim, the hub and all other characteristics:
The figures in the one hundred and eight circles are: (1) a large spear, (2) a house of splendour, srivatsa, (3) a buttercup flower, (4) three horizontal lines on throat, (5) a headornament, (6) a laid out meal, (7) a royal couch, (8) a hook. (9) a palace, (10) an arched gateway, (11) a white umbrella, (12) a double-edged sword, (13) a round fan of toddy palm-leaf, (14) a fan of a peacock’s tail, (15) a head-band like forehead, (16) a ruby stone, (17) a lustrous eating bowl, (18) a festoon of sumanā flowers, (19-23) the five kinds of lotus, namely, blue, red, white, paduma and puṇḍdarīka, (24) a jar full of mustard seeds, etc., (25) a bowl similarly full, (26) an ocean, (27) a Cakkavāḷa mountain, (28) the Himalayas, (29) Mount Meru, (30-31) the disc of the sun and the disc of the moon, (32) the planets, (33-36) the four island-continents with two thousand minor surrounding islands, (37) a Universal Monarch with flowers and seven treasures, (38) a white conch with a clockwise spiral shell, (39) a couple of golden carps, (40) a missile weapon, (41-47) seven great rivers, (48-54) seven surrounding mountain ranges, (55-61) seven rivers (between the seven mountain ranges), (62) a garuḷa king, (63) a crocodile, (64) a banner, (65) a streamer, (66) a golden palanquin, (67) a yak-tail fly-flap, (68) Kelāsa, the silver mountain, (69) a lion king, (70) a tiger king, (71) a Valāhaka horse king, (72) an Uposatha elephant king or a Chaddānata elephant king, (73) Bāsukī, the Nāga king, (74) a golden haṃsa king, (75) a bull king, (76) Erāvaṇa, the elephant king, (77) a golden sea-monster, (78) a golden boat, (79) a Brahmā king, (80) a milch cow with her calf, (81) a kinnarā couple (male and female), (82) a karavīka (bird) king, (83) a peacock king, (84) a crane king, (85) a cakkavāka (ruddy-goose) king, (86) a jīvaṃ-jīvaka or partridge (pheasant) king, (87-92) the six planes of celestial sensual existence, (93-108) the sixteen planes of rupāvacara Brahmā existence.
These are the figures in the one hundred and eight circles on the Bodhisatta’s soles.
(Then the author quotes the enumeration of these figures composed in verse form by the Taunggwin Sayadaw, Head of the Sangha, as it appeared in his Guḷhatthadīpaṃ Vol I. We do not translate it, for it will be a repetition.)
(3) The mark of the projecting heels.
By this is meant all-round developed heels. To elaborate: With ordinary people, the forepart of the foot is long;the calf stands right above the heel; and so the heel looks cut and hewn. This is not the case with the noble Bodhisatta. The sole of his foot may be divided into four equal parts, of which, the two front ones form the foremost sector of the sole. The calf stands on the third part. The heel lies on the fourth, looking like a round top (toy) placed on a red rug as though it has been treated on a lathe. (As for ordinary people, since the calf is situated on the top of the heel, the heel looks ugly, as though it were cut and hewn unsymmetrically. In the case of a Bodhisatta, however, the calf is on the third part of the sole. The rounded heel which occupies the fourth sector and which is conspicuous against the reddish skin is accordingly elongated and graceful.)
(4) The mark of the long and tapering fingers and toes.
With ordinary people, some fingers and toes are long and others short. Their girths also differ from one another. But this is not so in the case of the Bodhisatta. His fingers and toes are both long and even. They are stout at the base and taper towards the tip, resembling sticks of realgar made by kneading its powder with some thick oil and rolling it into shape.
(5) The mark of the soft and tender palms and soles.
The palms and soles of a Bodhisatta are very soft and tender, like a layer of cotton wool ginned a hundred times and dipped in clarified butter. Even at an old age they never change but remain soft, tender and youthful as when young.
(6) The mark of the regular fingers and toes like finely rounded golden rail posts of a palace window; there is narrow space between one finger and another as well as between one toe and another.
The four fingers (excluding the thumb) and the five toes of a Bodhisatta are of equal length. (If the reader raises his right palm and looks at it, he will see that his fingers are not equal in length.) The Prince’s eight fingers of both left and right hands are of equal length; so are his ten toes of both left and right feet. Accordingly, the somewhat curved lines on the joints taking the shape of barley seeds show no variation in length. In fact, they seem to form a row of curves, one touching another. The marks of these barley seeds are like uniformly and vertically fixed balusters. Therefore his fingers and toes resemble a palace window with a golden lattice created by master carpenters.
(7) The mark of the slightly higher and dust-free ankles.
The ankles of ordinary people lie close to the back of the feet. Therefore their soles appear to be fastened with cramps, small nails and snags; they cannot be turned at will. This being the case, the surface of the soles of their feet is not visible when they walk.
The ankles of a Bodhisatta are not like this: they are about two or three fingers' length above the soles like the neck of a watering jar. Therefore, the upper part of the body from the navel upwards maintains itself motionlessly, like a golden statue placed on a boat: only the lower part of the body moves, and the soles turn round easily. The onlookers from the four directions, i.e., front, back, left and right, can see well the surface of his soles. (When an elephant walks, the surface of the sole can be seen only from behind. But when the Bodhisatta walks, his soles can be seen from all four quarters.)
(8) The mark of the legs like those of an antelope called eṇi.
(Let the reader feel his calf and he will find the hardness of his shin bone at the front and see the muscles loosely dangling on the back.) But the Bodhisatta’s calves are different; like the husk that covers the barley or the paddy seed, the muscles evenly encase the shin bone making the leg round and beautiful; it is thus like that of an antelope known as eṇi.
(9) The mark of the long palms of the hands which can touch the knees while standing and without stooping.
Ordinary persons may be hunch-backed or bandy-legged or both hunch-backed and bandy-legged. Those who are with bent backs have no proper, proportionate frame because the upper part of the body is shorter than the lower part, nor do those with bandy legs because the lower part of the body is shorter than the upper part. (It means that the former are shorter in their upper part and the latter are shorter in the lower part of the body.) Because of the improper, disproportionate development of the frames, they can never touch their knees with their palms unless they lean forward.
It is not so in the case of a Bodhisatta. Neither the upper part of his body is bent nor the lower part crooked; both the upper and the lower parts are properly and proportionately formed. And so, even while standing and without stooping, he can touch and feel the knees with both the palms of his hands.
(10) The mark of the male organ concealed in a sheath like that of a Chaddanta elephant.
The male organ of a Bodhisatta is hidden in a lotus-like sheath, bearing resemblance to that of the king of bulls or to that of the king of elephants and so forth. It is the organ that has a cover as if it were placed in a felt, velvet or thick-cloth pouch that is made to measure.
(11) The mark of the yellow and bright complexion as pure siṅgīnikkha gold.
Bodhisattas naturally have complexion of smooth solid gold, like a golden statue which has been polished with the powder of red oxide of lead (vermilion) and rubbed with the canine tooth of a leopard and treated with red ochre.
(With reference to this characteristic, even though the Pāli Texts and their Commentaries stated “...suvaṇṇavaṇṇa kañcanasannibhattaca...” of which suvaṇṇa and kañcana mean ordinary gold, the translation by noble teachers into Myanmar of these words is “...like siṅgīnikkha gold...”. This is due to the fact that the word ‘siṅgīnikkha savaṇṇo’ meaning ‘having the colour of siṅgīnikkha pure gold’ is contained in the gāthās uttered by Sakka in the guise of a youth, when the Bodhisatta entered the city of Rājagaha for alms-food, and also due to the fact that singī stands out as the best kind of gold. Among the different kinds of gold used by people, rasaviddha gold is superior to yuttika gold, ākaruppaññā gold is superior to rasaviddha gold, the gold used by devas is superior to ākaruppaññā gold, among the variety of gold used by devas, sātakumbha gold is superior to cāmīkara gold; jambunada gold is superior to sātakumbha gold; and finally singī gold is superior to that jambunada gold. It is said so in the exposition of the Paṭhama Pīṭha in the Vimānavatthu Commentary, and the exposition of the chapter on Bimbisārasamāgama, Mahākhandhaka of the Vinaya Mahāvagga, Terasakaṇḍa Tika.)
(12) The mark of the smooth skin (so smooth that no dust can cling to it).
The skin of the Noble One is so soft and smooth in texture that both fine and gross dust cannot cling to it. Just as a drop of water, which falls on a lotus leaf, cannot stay on it but falls away, even so all the dust that touches a Bodhisatta slips off instantly.
If he is thus dust-free and clean, why does he wash his legs and hands or bathe? He does so for the purpose of adjusting himself to the temperature of the moment, for the purpose of enhancing the merit of the donors, and for the purpose of setting an example by entering the monastery after cleansing himself as required by the disciplinary rules so that his disciples might follow.
(13) The mark of the body-hairs, one in each pore of the skin.
Other people have two, three or more body-hairs growing in each pore. But this is different in the case of a Bodhisatta, only a single hair grows in each pore.
(14) The mark of the body-hairs with their tips curling upwards, as if they were looking up at the Bodhisatta’s face in devotion.
The Bodhisatta’s body-hairs, one in each pore, are blue like the colour of a collyrium stone. These hairs curl upwards clockwise three times as if they were paying homage by looking up at the Bodhisatta’s face, fresh and graceful like a new paduma lotus bloom.
(15) The mark of the upright body like a Brahmā's.
Just as a Brahmā’s body which never inclines forward or backward or sideways even slightly but assumes an upright attitude, so is the Bodhisatta’s body which is perfectly straight upwards. He has a body which is tender and beautiful, as though it were cast in siṅgīnikkha gold.
As for ordinary people, their bodies generally lean or bend in one way or the other at one of these three places, viz., the nape, the waist and the knees. If bent at the waist, the body leans backwards and if bent at the nape and the knees, the body stoops forwards. Some very tall people tend to lean sideways, either left or right. Those who lean backwards, have their faces turned upwards, as if they were observing and counting the constellations in the sky; those who bend down, have their faces turned downwards, as if they were studying the characteristics of the earth. Some people are lean and emaciated like spikes or sticks because they have not sufficient blood and flesh.
Bodhisattas, however, are not like this, as they have upright bodies, they resemble a golden post of the arched gateway erected at the entrance to a celestial city.
In this matter, such features as an upright body like a Brahmā’s and some other characteristics of a Great Man are not yet fully manifest during his infancy as an ordinary person of average intelligence. But, by examining the marks, features, and conditions as they existed at the time of his birth, the learned Brahmins, because of their expert knowledge in the Vedayita Mantras of the Suddhāvāsa Brahmās, have come to believe: “When the Prince grows older with greater intelligence, the characteristics of his body, such as being upright like a Brahmā’s and so forth, will become manifest and seen by all.” Therefore they pondered and reckoned and offered their readings as though the marks were then already visible fully to them. (In the same way, the growth of exactly forty teeth, their being regular and such other features did not come into existence in his infancy yet but since the Brahmins foresaw that these features would appear later on at an appropriate time, they could predict by means of their learning in the mantras of the Suddhāvāsa Brahmās.)
(16) The mark of the fullness of flesh in seven places of the body: the two upper parts of the feet, the two backs of the hands, the two shoulders and the neck.
Ordinary persons have their insteps, backs of the palms, etc., where the arteries manifest, swollen and distinct in wavy patterns and are like a network. The bone-joints are also visible at the edges of the shoulders and also in the neck. On seeing them, therefore other people would think that they are like petas (ghosts), who are dwellers of the cemetery and have ugly shoulders, protruding neck-bones and swollen arteries.
It is not so in the case of the noble Bodhisatta. There is fullness of the flesh in the aforesaid seven places. Fullness of flesh does not mean that the flesh has puffed up to the point of ugliness. It is the fullness which is just elegant, which just makes the arteries not conspicuous and the bones not protruding. Therefore, the Bodhisatta has no arteries puffed up in the insteps of the feet and on the backs of the palms, and also no bones thrusting out at the edges of the shoulders and in the neck. He has the neck that is like a small wellpolished golden drum. Because of the fullness and elegance in the said seven places of the body, he appears in the eyes of the onlookers like a wonderfully carved stone image or like an exquisitely painted portrait.
(17) The mark of the full and well-developed body like a lion’s front portion.
The front portion of the lion is fully developed but its’ back part is not. Thus, the back part is not given as an example here, and the comparison is only with the forepart. Though this example is given, it is not that there are such unseemly features in the Bodhisatta’s body as are found in the lion’s, namely, bending, rising, sinking, and protruding and so on in certain parts of the body. In fact, the limbs of the Bodhisatta are as they should be, i.e., long where they should be long, short where they should be short, stout where they should be stout, lean where they should be lean, broad where they should be broad, round where they should be round, and thus his limbs are the most becoming and the most beautiful. The likeness of the Bodhisatta’s body cannot be created by any master craftsmen or any renown artists.
(18) The mark of the full and well developed back of the body, extending from the waist to the neck like a golden plank, without any trace of the spinal furrow in the middle.
This briefly means that the back of a Bodhisatta is particularly developed and magnificent. The flesh over the ribs, the flesh on both left and right sides of the back and the flesh in the middle of the back are well formed and graceful from the waist up to the neck.
The surface of the back of ordinary people appears split into two sections. The spine and its flesh in the middle remain sunk and depressed or curved; or it comes out and becomes bulging. The flesh on either side of the middle backbone appears convex and straight, like a split bamboo placed in a prone position. The flesh at the edges of the back is thin and slight.
As for the Bodhisatta, the flesh on either side and at the end of his spine, that on his ribs, on the portion underneath his shoulders and along the middle of his spine, are all fully developed from his waist to the neck, without any traces of a long cut in the middle. And so, the surface of his back is full with layers of flesh, like an erected plank of gold.
(19) The mark of the symmetrically proportioned body like the circular spread of a banyan tree, for his height and the compass of his arms are of equal measurement.
Just as a banyan tree with its trunk and branches measuring fifty or a hundred cubits has its vertical length and its horizontal length equal, even so the Bodhisatta’s height and the length of his arms when stretched out sideways are of equal measurement (which is four cubits). (The height and the length of the two arms of other people are generally not equal.)
(20) The mark of the proportionate and rounded throat.
Some people have necks, which are long like that of a crane; others have necks which are curved like that of a paddy-bird; still others have necks which are pudgy, swollen and large like that of a pig. When they speak, veins around the necks puff up, looking like a meshed netting, and their voices come out feebly and faintly.
The neck of a Bodhisatta is like a well-rounded small drum. When he speaks, the network of veins is not visible. His voice is loud and booming like the sound of thunder or a drum.
(21) The mark of the seven thousand capillaries with their tips touching one another at the throat and diffusing throughout the body the taste of food, even if it is as small as a sesame seed.
The Bodhisatta’s seven thousand capillaries, whose upper ends interconnected forming a group, lie at his throat. They appear as though they are waiting to send down the taste of all the swallowed food throughout his body. When the food, even as small as the size of a sesame seed, is placed on the tip of his tongue and then eaten, its taste diffuses all over his body. That was why the Bodhisatta was able to sustain his body with a mere grain of rice or with just a palmful of bean soup, etc., during his six-year long practice of austerities (dukkaracariyā).
Since it is not so in the case of ordinary people, the nutritious essence of all the food eaten by them cannot spread all over their bodies. For this reason, they are much exposed to diseases.
(22) The mark of the lion-like chin (somewhat like that of one who is about to smile).
This mainly means to draw a comparison only with the lower chin of the lion. Only the lower jaws of the lion has fullness, his upper jaw is not so well formed. Both the upper and lower jaws of a Bodhisatta, however, are full like the lion’s lower jaw. They are also comparable to the moon which rises on the twelfth of the bright fortnight.
(23) The mark of the teeth numbering exactly forty.
What is meant is that the Bodhisatta has twenty upper teeth and twenty lower teeth, making a complete set of forty teeth.
As for ordinary people, those who are said to have a complete set of teeth possess only thirty-two in all. The Bodhisatta, however, excels others by having forty teeth, twenty upper and twenty lower.
(24) The mark of the teeth proportionately set in a row.
Ordinary people have some teeth protruding and some short and depressed, thus forming an irregular set. On the contrary, the Bodhisatta has even teeth, like pieces of mother-ofpearl uniformly cut by a saw.
(25) The mark of the teeth touching one another with no space in between.
Ordinary people have the teeth which are separated from one another or which have gaps between one another like those of a crocodile. Therefore, when they eat and chew fish, meat, etc., the gaps are filled with particles of food that are stuck in them. This is not so in the case of the Bodhisatta. His teeth stand like diamonds properly fixed in a series on a plank of gold or coral.
(26) The mark of the four canine teeth white and brilliant as the morning star.
Some canine teeth of ordinary people are in a decaying state, thus they are blackened or discoloured. But the Bodhisatta’s four canine teeth are extremely white, they are endowed with the kind of brilliance which surpasses that of the morning star.
(In this connection, it may be asked as to how the learned Brahmins knew the characteristics relating to these teeth, when in fact the teeth had not come out yet in the newly born Bodhisatta. The answer is: The learned Brahmins, who read the body-marks on the authority of their Brahmanical book, observed the likely place where the teeth would grow, and in anticipation of what would certainly take place on the Bodhisatta’s coming of age, they predicted as though the teeth had already grown.
(Here something about the treatise on the marks of a great man will again be told as given in the exposition of the Ambaṭṭha Sutta and others. On the eve of the appearance of a Buddha, Brahmās of Suddhāvāsa abode inserted the science of prognostication in the Vedic books, proclaiming that “these form the prognostication about Buddhas”, they gave instructions in the Vedas under the disguise of Brahmins. In the work on the marks of a great man that contains the prognostication about Buddhas, the physical marks of those who would become Buddhas, Paccekabuddhas, Agga-sāvakas, Eighty Mahā-sāvakas, the mother and father of a Buddha, His noble attendants or a Universal Monarch are mentioned completely. Therefore, the description of the marks of a great man directly occurs in these ancient Vedic texts.
(But after the Buddha’s attainment of Parinibbāna, the treatise on the marks of a Great Man that came into existence by virtue of the Buddha’s glory gradually disappeared, starting with one or two gāthās, in the same way as the light generated by the sun gradually disappeared after sunset.)
(27) The mark of the long, flat and tender tongue.
The tongues of other people may be thick;they may be small, short, rough or uneven. Contrasting with them, the Bodhisatta’s tongue is very soft, long, broad and beautiful.
To make the meaning more explicit: The characteristics of the Buddha’s tongue could not be seen easily by those wishing to study them after His attainment of Buddhahood. So, in order to dispel the doubts of the youths, Ambaṭṭha, Uttara and others, who had come to investigate them, the Buddha demonstrated the softness of His tongue by curling and rolling it round to look like a hard pin (or to look like a rolled food coupon) and then by stroking with it the two sides of the nose; he demonstrated its great length by stroking with it the passage of the two ears; he demonstrated its breadth by covering with it the whole surface of the forehead right up to the edge of the hair. (The tongues of ordinary people cannot come out from the mouth more than one inch.)
(28) The mark of the voice having eight qualities as a Brahmā's.
Other people have voices which are intermittent, cracked and unpleasant like the caw of a crow. In contrast with them, the Bodhisatta is endowed with a Brahmā-like voice. To make it more explicit: the Brahmā’s voice is pure and clear because it is not effected by bile or phlegm. So also the Bodhisatta’s organs of articulation, such as the throat, palate, etc., are purified and cleansed by virtue of his accumulated acts of merit. Because of such purity and cleanliness, the sound that originates at the navel comes out with clarity, it possesses eight qualities, which are:
(6) compactness (it does not go beyond audience),
(7) deepness (it is not shallow but forceful), and
What is in fact extraordinary, marvellous and astonishing about this voice is that it is a hundred times, maybe, a thousand times sweeter and more pleasant than the extremely melodious voice of a karavīka bird. To elaborate: The cry of the karavīka is slow, drawl, long protracted and pleasant; it is full, compact and sweet. While sitting on an upper branch of a tree, it warbles, and then it moves onto a lower branch; yet it is able to hear the sound it has made while on the upper branch: so slow and pleasant is its cry.
Having cut open a luscious ripe mango by biting with its beak and drinking the juice that flows out, the karavīka warbles; then the four legged animals get intoxicated with the karavīka's sound (as though they were rendered unconscious by drunkenness) and begin to gambol with great delight. Other quadrupeds too, they have gone to the grazing ground and are eating and chewing the grass, forget the food in their mouth and stand still, listening to the sound from the karavīka. Small animals, such as deer, antelopes, etc., who are on the run in fear, fleeing for life as they are chased in great haste by beasts of prey, such as lions, leopards and tigers, having forgotten the danger to their lives, stop running only to listen to the karavīka's voice without lifting up the foot that has been put down and without putting down the foot that has been lifted up. In the same way, the wild beasts who have been chasing to pounce on their prey become unaware of the food which they are about to eat, stop chasing and listen only to the karavīka's cry. Birds flying in the sky spread their wings and stop flying to listen. Fish in the water also keep their hearing organs steady and stop to listen to the song of the karavīka. (Buddhavaṃsa Commentary)
(Please see the story of the karavīka's sound and Queen Asandhimittā in the Anudīpanī: Chapter 1.)
(29) The mark of the very clear blue eyes.
This does not mean to say that both eyes of a Bodhisatta are blue all over. The expression is made as a general statement. In fact, where they should be blue, they have the colour of aparājita flower; where they should be yellow and golden, they are like the colour of kaṇikāra flower; where they should be red, they are like the colour of bandhuku flower; where they should be white, they are like the colour of the morning star; where they should be black, they are like the colour of black beads. The eyes of a Bodhisatta bear resemblance to an open window in a golden mansion——the window that has the motif of a lion made of rubies at its base. (According to the Jinālaṅkāra Tika, the likeness is that of a palace window that has a lion’s figure made of rubies and fixed at its bottom on the golden wall.)
(30) The mark of the very soft and tender eyelashes like a newly born calf’s.
This particular mark is termed gopakhuma lakkhaṇa in the Pāli Text. The Pāli word gopakhuma refers to the eye (the whole eye) comprising the eye lashes and other parts of the eye. Of all kinds of calves, the eye of a black calf is thick and turbid. That of a red calf is particularly clear and bright. Here in the case of gopakhuma lakkhaṇa, it signifies the eyes of the new born red calf. The eyes of ordinary people are not perfect. Like the eyes of elephants, rats or crows, some have protruding eyes, and others have eyes with deep sunken eye-sockets. The Bodhisatta’s eyes are different. They are like thoroughly washed and polished ruby stones and have soft and smooth tender, fresh, bluish eyelashes growing in a row. This mark of the entire eye is characterized by the eyelashes. (This mark is in effect a description of the whole eye with reference to the eyelashes which form only a part of the eye. What is meant is that the Bodhisatta had the eyes which are not protruding, nor sunken but are clear like ruby stones kept well-washed and polished, with eyelashes which are soft, smooth, tender, fresh and bluish, growing in a row like those of a newlyborn red-coloured calf.)
This hair grows gracefully in the middle of the two eyebrows, directly above the ridge of the nose and at the centre of the forehead. It is pure all over, like the morning star. It is as soft as the cotton wool ginned and refined a hundred times and dipped in clarified butter. It is white as the colour of simbali silk-cotton. When it is stretched from the tip with one’s hand, it is two cubits long. When it is released from the hand, it coils back clockwise with the tip curling upwards. It is of beauty that attracts and commands veneration of every onlooker, like a silver star studded on a pure gold plate, or like pure milk flowing out of a golden vessel, or the morning star in the sky that reflects by the sun light at dawn.
(32) The mark of the thin layer of flesh that appears by nature like a gold headband on the forehead.
What is meant is that the Bodhisatta has a perfect forehead as well as a perfect head.
The thin layer of the flesh on the forehead of the Bodhisatta covers the whole of it, rising from end to end, i.e. from the top part of the right ear to the left. This particular layer of flesh being soft, golden in colour, lustrous and extensive on the entire forehead is graceful like a gold band fastened to a royal forehead. In fact, the gold band on a king’s forehead (the royal insignia) is an imitation of the forehead of a Bodhisatta which is use as a sign of royalty by kings who have no such natural feature). (This is an explanation of how the Bodhisatta is endowed with the perfect forehead).
The head of the Bodhisatta is perfect in all aspects. Unlike the Bodhisatta’s, the heads of ordinary people are imperfect. Some look like a monkey’s, as though they were broken in two parts. Others seem to have cracks. Still others have so little flesh that they appear as skulls just covered by the skin. There are also heads disproportionate like a gourd, and there are still others which are curved at the back or protruding (with the occiput bulging). In contrast with them, the Bodhisatta has the head of perfect fullness like a golden baluster, as if it had been carved out with a round chisel to make it round, smooth and beautiful.
(This thirty-second mark is mentioned in the Text as uṇhīsasīso. Its meaning can be taken in two ways: (a) having a head which looks as though it were wrapped by a thin layer of flesh on the forehead, or (b) having a round splendid head like a headband made by an expert. Because of its dual meaning, the explanations of both the perfect forehead and the perfect head are given here.)
(The kamma and other factors that bring about these thirty-two major marks are separately discussed in the Anudīpanī.)
The Eighty Minor Characteristics
The Bodhisatta, a great man, is also endowed with eighty minor characteristics called asīti anuvyañjana, which accompany the major ones. These eighty minor marks will now be briefly mentioned, as appear in the Jinālaṅkāra Tika and other texts.
(1) Closely knitted fingers and toes with no intervening gaps (cit'angulita).
(2) Fingers and toes tapering gradually from the base to the tips (anupubb'angulita).
(3) Round fingers and toes (vaṭṭ'angulita).
(These are the three characteristics concerning the fingers and toes.)
(These are three characteristics concerning the fingernails and toenails).
(This is the one characteristic concerning the toes.)
(9) Manner of walking gracefully like an elephant king (gajasamān'akkamatā).
(10) Manner of walking gracefully like a lion king (sīhasamān'akkamatā).
(11) Manner of walking gracefully like a haṃsa king (haṃsasamān'akkamatā).
(12) Manner of walking gracefully like a bull king (usabhasamān’akkamatā).
(13) Manner of walking clockwise (dakkhiṇātvaṭṭa gatitā).
(These are the five characteristics concerning the manner of walking.)
(14) Round knees that are beautiful on all sides (samantato cārujaṇṇu maṇḍalatā).
(This is the one characteristic concerning the knees.)
(15) Well developed male organ (paripuṇṇa purisavyañjanatā.)
(This is the one characteristic of the male genitalia.)
(16) Navel with uninterrupted lines (acchidda nābhitā.)
(These are the three characteristics concerning the navel.)
(19) Thighs and arms like an elephant’s trunk (dviradakara sadisa-ūrubhujatā).
(This is the one characteristic concerning the thighs and arms.)
(20) Well proportionate body (suvibhatta gattatā). (By this is meant flawless frame.)
(21) Gradually rising body (anupubba gattatā). (By this is meant agreeably formed upper and lower parts of the body.)
(22) Fine body (mattha gattatā).
(23) Neither lean nor plump body (anussann ānanussanna sabbagattatā).
(24) Wrinkle-free body (alīna gattatā).
(25) Body free of moles, freckles, etc. (tilakādivirahita gattatā).
(26) Regularly lustrous body (anupubba rucira gattatā).
(27) Particularly clean body (suvisuddha gattatā).
(More characteristics concerning the body will follow later on.)
(This is the only characteristic concerning the physical strength.)
(29) Prominent nose like a golden goad (tunga nāsatā).
(This is the only characteristic concerning the nose.)
(This is the only characteristic concerning the gums.)
(31) Clean teeth (suddha dantatā).
(32) Neat and smooth glossy teeth (siniddha dantatā). (Two characteristics concerning the teeth.)
(33) Pure faculties of sense, such as eyes, etc. (visuddh'indriyatā).
(This is the only characteristic concerning the sense-faculties of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body.)
(34) Round canine teeth (vaṭṭa dāṭhatā).
(This is the only characteristic concerning the canine teeth.)
(35) Red lips (ratt'oṭṭhatā).
(This is the only characteristic concerning the lips.)
(36) Long mouth-cavity (āyata vadānatā).
(This is the only characteristic concerning the mouth.)
(37) Deep lines on the palms (gambhīra pāṇilekhatā).
(38) Long lines on the palms (āyata lekhatā).
(39) Straight lines on the palms (uju lekhatā).
(40) Beautifully formed lines on the palms (surucira-saṇṭhāna lekhatā).
(41) Halo spreading around the body in a circle (parimaṇḍala kāyappabhātvantatā).
(42) Full cheeks (paripuṇṇa kapolatā).
(This is the only characteristic concerning the cheeks.)
(43) Long and broad eyes (āyatavisāla nettatā).
(44) Very clear eyes with five kinds of colour (pañca pasādavanta nettatā).
(Two characteristics concerning the eyes.)
(45) Eyelashes with their tips curling upwards (kuñjitagga bhamukatā).
(This is the only characteristic concerning the eyelashes.)
(The Samantacakkhu Dīpanī, Volume I, says that by this characteristic should be taken three things: softness, thinness and redness, while other teachers wish to take only two: softness and thinness. Here in this book the characteristic is mentioned as one in accordance with the Jinālaṅkāra Tika.)
(This is the only characteristic concerning the tongue.)
(47) Long and beautiful ears (āyata-rucira kaṇṇatā). (In this connection too, two things are taken by others.)
(This is the only characteristic concerning the ears.)
(48) Varicosity-free vein (niggaṇṭhi siratā). (There are no varicose veins.)
(49) Neither receding nor protruding veins (i.e. inconspicuous veins) (niggūḷa siratā).
(Two characteristic concerning the veins.)
(This is the only characteristic concerning the head.)
(This is the only characteristic concerning the forehead.)
(52) Natural and beautiful eyebrows that need not be groomed (susaṇṭhāna bhamukatā).
(53) Soft eyebrows (saṇha bhamukatā).
(54) Eyebrows in regular order (anuloma bhamukatā).
(55) Large eyebrows (mahānta bhamukatā).
(56) Long eyebrows (āyata bhamukatā).
(Five characteristics concerning the eyebrows.)
(57) Supple body (sukumāla gattatā).
(58) Very relaxed body (ativiya-somma gattatā).
(59) Very bright body (ativiya-ujjalita gattatā).
(60) Dirt-free body (absence of body secretion) (vimala gattatā).
(61) Non-sticky body (the body skin always looks fresh) (komala gattatā).
(62) Neat and handsome body (siniddha gattatā).
(63) Fragrant body (sugandha tanutā).
(Fifteen characteristics concerning the body including the above eight from No.20 to No. 27.)
(64) Body hairs of equal length (no difference in length (sama lomatā).
(65) Non-sticky hairs (komala lomatā).
(66) Every body hair coiling clockwise (dakkhiṇāvaṭṭa lomatā).
(67) Blue body hairs like the colour of broken stones of collyrium (bhinn'añjana-sadisanīla lomatā).
(The Samantacakkhu Dīpanī says that it is the blue hair on the head that has the splendour of a golden mountain.)
(68) Round body hairs (vaṭṭa lomatā).
(69) Smooth body hairs (siniddha lomatā).
(Six characteristics concerning the hairs of the body.)
(70) Very subtle inhaling and exhaling breath (atisukhuma-assāsapassāsa dhāraṇatā).
(This is the only characteristic concerning the respiration.)
(71) Fragrant mouth (sugandha mukhatā).
(This is the only characteristic concerning the mouth.)
(72) Fragrant top of the head (sugandha muddhanatā).
(This is the only characteristic concerning the top of the head.)
(73) Jet-black hair (sunīla kesatā).
(74) Hair curling clockwise (dakkhiṇāvaṭṭa kesatā).
(75) Naturally well groomed hair (susaṇṭhāna kesatā).
(76) Neat and sort hair (siniddha kesatā saṇha kesatā).
(77) Untangled hair (aluḷita kesatā).
(78) Hair of equal length (sama kesatā).
(Other people have long and short hair mixed. This is not so in the case of the Bodhisatta.)
(79) Non-sticky hair (komala kesatā).
(Seven characteristics concerning the hair.)
(80) Aggregate of luminous rays called ketumālā halo which shines forth from the top of the head. The Bodhisatta is marvellous by means of the ketumālā halo (ketumālāratana vicittatā).
(This is the only characteristic concerning the halo.)
The Bodhisatta possesses the above eighty minor characteristics. (The enumeration is made here in accordance with that contained in the Jinālaṅkāra Tika.)
The Satapuñña Characteristics
The aforementioned major and minor marks can also be termed as satapuñña characteristics. The Bodhisatta has performed a hundred-fold of the total number of times all other beings have performed in each kind of meritorious deed throughout the innumerable world-systems. Hence, his merits are known as satapuñña, ‘a hundred-fold merit’, whereby he acquires the thirty-two major and eighty minor marks as a result.