The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words

This page describes Mahavajira Insight Knowledge (Vipassana-nana) 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 Attainment of Buddhahood. 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).

Part 10 - Mahāvajira Insight Knowledge (Vipassanā-ñāṇa)

Summary: The Development of 3,600,000 crores of Mahāvajira Vipassanā Ñāṇa by the Bodhisatta.

Having done away with factors of defilements, such as lobha, dosa, etc., by means of the merits accumulated through fulfilment of pāramīs, such as dāna, etc., the Bodhisatta, who had also eliminated moha, the general of the defilements, together with its concomitants, which is apt to hinder and conceal the way to Nibbāna, practised and developed Mahāvajira Vipassanā meditation at dawn (in the last watch of the night), on the full moon of Vesākha. The method of practice and development in brief is as follows:

There are a hundred thousand crores of world-systems known as Āṇākhetta, the field of Authority[1] of a Buddha. When the Bodhisatta contemplated the true nature of those beings living in each universe and belonging to the three passages of time (past, present and future), he came to know full well that, no matter how numerous devas, humans and Brahmās were in a single universe, they could be reduced to twelve factors of Paṭiccasamuppāda, the Doctrine of Dependent Origination, as the ultimate reality: avijjā and sankhāra (past factors as cause); viññāṇa, nāma-rūpa, saḷāyatana, phassa, vedanā (present factors as effect); taṇhā, upādāna and kammabhava (present factors as cause) and jāti (otherwise known as upapatti-bhava), jarā and maraṇa (future factors as effect).

When he contemplated the true nature of devas, humans and Brahmās living in the remaining world-systems and belonging to the three passages of time, he came to know full well that, as in the case of the beings of this universe, the same twelve factors of Paṭiccasamuppāda form objects of Vipassanā meditation, ranging from avijjā to jāti, jarā and maraṇa.

Summing up the number of the objects of Vipassanā meditation, as there are a hundred thousand crores of world-systems, there are also a hundred thousand crores of each of the twelve factors. The total number of these objects will then become one million and two hundred thousand crores.

Like a man, who cut and cleared a thick jungle with tangling bushes and undergrowths, sharpened his sword again and again on the whetstone, the Bodhisatta also, in order to clear away the thick jungle and bushes of defilements (kilesa) numbering one thousand five hundred, repeatedly sharpened the sword blade of Mahāvajira Insight Knowledge (Mahāvajira Vipassanā-ñāṇa), his personal weapon, on the whetstone of ānāpāna fourth jhāna attainment (i.e., repeatedly getting absorbed in the ānāpāna fourth jhāna). After which, he contemplated each of the Factors of Dependent Origination, numbering one million two hundred thousand crores by reflecting on their characteristics of impermanence (anicca-lakkhaṇa), unsatisfactoriness (dukkha-lakkhaṇa) and insubstantiality (anatta- lakkhaṇa).

As each of the factors of Paṭicca-samuppāda, numbering one million two hundred thousand crores, promotes three Insight ñāṇas, namely, Insight Knowledge of Impermanence (Anicca Vipassanā-ñāṇa); Insight Knowledge of Unsatisfactoriness (Dukkha Vipassanā-ñāṇa) and Insight Knowledge of Insubstantiality (Anatta Vipassanā-ñāṇa), there arose altogether three million six hundred thousand crores of Mahāvajīra Insight Wisdom.

(A brief account of the Mahāvajira Insight Wisdom is contained in the exposition of Anupāda Sutta, Uparipaṇṇāsa Ṭikā and in the exposition of Sāriputta Moggallāna Pabbajjakathi, Mahākhandhaka Vinaya Sāratthadīpanī Ṭikā).

It is the usual practice of every Bodhisatta on the eve of his attainment of Buddhahood to reflect on the Doctrine of Dependent Origination in forward and backward orders. Our Bodhisatta, like the previous Bodhisattas, also reflected on the Doctrine of Dependent Origination in both orders. Thereupon, all the ten thousand world-systems that form the Field of Birth (jāti-khetta), quaked, the effect of which reaching to the limit of the bordering oceans.

After the Bodhisatta had cultivated sammasana-ñāṇa of three million six hundred thousand crores of Mahāvajīra Insight Wisdom by reflecting on the twelve Factors of the Doctrine of Dependent Origination as was usual for all the Bodhisattas, he again entered upon the ānāpāna fourth jhāna. (He did so in order to sharpen the sword blade of the higher Insight knowledge (Vipassanā-ñāṇa) such as the knowledge of arising and passing (Udayabbaya ñāṇa), on the whetstone of the ānāpāna fourth jhāna). Having thus entered upon the ānāpāna fourth jhāna (having sharpened the sword blade of the Higher Insight Knowledge), he rose from it and realised, with ease, the higher Vipassanā knowledge such as udayabbaya-ñāṇa.

(It should be noted and accepted here that the Bodhisatta realized higher Vipassanāñāṇa with ease because, as he had entered the Order of Bhikkhu in the presence of past Buddhas and learnt the three Piṭakas and practised Vipassanā meditation, he cultivated and developed even to the extent of attaining Udayabbaya-ñāṇa, Bhaṅga-ñāṇa, Bhaya-ñāṇa, Ādīnava-ñāṇa, Nibbidā-ñāṇa, Muccitukamyatā-ñāṇa, Paṭisankhā-ñāṇa, and Sankhār’upekkhā-ñāṇa. And also because his Insight Knowledge had developed and grown immensely by virtue of the aforesaid three million six hundred thousand crores of Mahāvajīra Vipassanā Sammasana Ñāṇa.)

     ——Jinālaṅkāra Ṭikā and Sutta Mahāvagga Ṭikā——


Udayabbaya-ñāṇa: knowledge of arising and passing away of conditioned things;
Bhaṅga-ñāṇa: knowledge of dissolution of conditioned things;
Bhaya-ñāṇa: knowledge of fear of conditioned things;
Ādinavā-ñāṇa: knowledge of disgust and dread of conditioned of things;
Nibbidā-ñāṇa: knowledge of weariness of conditioned of things;
Muccitukamyatā-ñāṇa: knowledge of longing to escape;
Paṭisaṅkhā-ñāṇa: knowledge of special effort;
Saṅkhārupekkha-ñāṇa: knowledge of detachment from conditioned existence.

Just as a man, on reaching the eaves of his house after taking a long journey, did not halt at all at the threshold but went straight into the house on finding the door wide open, so the noble Bodhisatta having realized higher and higher vipassanā-ñāṇa with ease by successively passing through the series of eight stages of ñāṇa, such as udayabbaya-ñāṇa, etc., finally reached the last stage which was the knowledge of conformity (Anuloma-ñāṇa), did not stop there. Instead of stopping at saccānuloma-ñāṇa, which is like the gate way (to the city of Nibbāna), he immediately proceeded to clear away the clouds and darkness of ignorance and delusion, (avijjā-moha), which conceal the four Truths, namely, the Truth of Suffering (Dukkha Sacca), the Truth of Origin of Suffering (Samudaya Sacca), the Truth of Cessation of Suffering (Nirodha Sacca), and the Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of suffering (Magga Sacca) by means of three kinds of conformity to the function of Truth (Saccānuloma-ñāṇa), namely, preliminary impulsion (parikamma), access impulsion (upacāra), and conformity (anuloma) which are included in the mind-process (magga-vīthi.[2])

Having thus dispelled the thick murk that hides the truth, he clearly saw, as one saw the moon clearly in the cloudless sky, and realized the Great Light of Nibbāna through the Knowledge of the First Path, sotāpatti-magga-ñāṇa, which immediately follows gotrabhū-ñāṇa, the Knowledge of overcoming of worldly ties and changing over to noble lineage.

(The thought moment of sotāpatti-magga-ñāṇa appeared once and ceased. This is immediately followed by the appearance and cessation three times of Javana, impulsion of sotāpatti-phala which is the effect of the said sotāpatti-magga, in accordance with the attribute of the Dhamma known as Akālika (Immediate Fruition). Then follows the flow of bhavaṅga-citta).

Because the sotāpatti-magga had been attained thus, the mind continuum of the Bodhisatta was completely rid of the three defilements, namely, sakkāya-diṭṭhi[3], vicikicchā[4] and sīlabbataparāmasa[5]. These defilements would never rise again in the Bodhisatta’s mind continuum.

Footnotes and references:


The field of Authority of a Buddha: There are three fields (khettas) concerning a Buddha according to Jinalankara Tika and Parajika Commentary: 1. Jati khetta, the field of birth limited by the ten thousand world-systems that quaked on the Perfect One’s taking re-birth linking. 2. The field of Authority (Āṇākhetta), limited by the hundred thousand crores of world-systems where the following safeguards (parittas), are efficacious: Ratana Sutta, the Khandha Paritta, the Dhajagga Paritta, the Ātanātiya Paritta and the Mora Paritta. 3. The field of scope (Visaya-khetta), is boundless and immeasurable in which the Buddha Ñāna can exercise his sabbññuta-ñāṇa, knowing anything anywhere that the wishes.


For better comprehension of the entire paragraph, vide Chapter XXI § 129 ff and Chapter XXII § 3,4 of The Path of Purification. Nānamoli. 3rd Edn. B.P.S, Kandy.


Sakkāya-diṭthi: belief in the illusion that there is Self, Soul.


Vicikicchā: doubt or wavering of mind about: 1. the Buddha; 2. the Dhamma; 3. the Sangha;4. the disciplinary rules (sikkha); 5. the past; 6. the future; 7. both past and future; 8. Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppāda.)


Sīlabbataparamāsa: Adherence to wrongful rites and ceremonies; the misleading belief that there are paths other than the Ariya Path of Eight Constituents that can liberate one from dukkha.

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