The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes The Week on the Throne (Pallanka Sattaha) 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 Buddha’s stay at the Seven Places. 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 1 - The Week on the Throne (Pallanka Sattāha)

After attaining Buddhahood in this way, as the first waning day of the month of Vesākha newly broke, the Buddha breathed forth a solemn utterance of joy (udāna), and while sitting cross-legged on the Aparājita Throne, He conceived an idea thus:

“In order to win this Aparājita Throne, I have moved from one birth to another over the period of four asaṅkhyeyyas and a hundred thousand aeons, fulfilling the Ten Perfections several times in a unique manner. For four asaṅkhyeyyas and a hundred thousand aeons, in order to possess this Aparājita Throne, many a time have I cut off and given away my ornamented head; many a time have I taken out and given away my two eyes and my heart; many a time have I given away my son such as Jāli, my daughter such as Kanhajina and wife such as Maddī to those who asked for them as slaves. This is the Throne on which I have completely overcome the fivefold Mara. It is also a highly auspicious and glorious seat. While remaining on this seat, all my wishes, including the one to become a Buddha, have been fulfilled. I will not get up yet from this Throne which I owe so much.”

Thus the Buddha spent seven days on the Throne engaging in the fourth jhāna that led up to the Fruition of Arahantship, the attainments of which numbering more than a hundred thousand crores.

Engaging thus in the jhāna for the whole first waning day of the month of Vesākha, the Buddha enjoyed the bliss of emancipation, vimutti (Bliss of arahantship). During the first watch of the night of the first waning Vesākha moon, He contemplated the Doctrine of Paṭiccasamuppāda (Dependent Origination) thus: “Avijjā paccaya sankhāra— Because of ignorance (avijjā), three kinds of mental formations (sankhāras), namely, wholesome mental formations (puññābhi-sankhāra), unwholesome mental formations (apuññābhisankhāra) and static mental formations (anañjabhi-sankhāra) arise.” Beginning in this way, the Buddha went on contemplating in forward order the process in which the round of suffering arose. Again He contemplated: “avijjāya tv'eva asesavirāganirodho sankhāra nirodho— Because of the complete cessation of ignorance by not arising through the Path of arahantship, the three kinds of mental formations, namely, wholesome, unwholesome and static formations cease (by not arising).” Beginning thus, the Buddha went on contemplating in backward order the process in which the round of suffering ceased.

(Here it should be particularly noted that, though the Buddha had clearly understood all the Doctrines, He contemplated only the Doctrine of Paṭiccasamuppāda both in forward and backward orders because, when He took up

Insight Meditation, He did so by initially reflecting on this Doctrine and also because this Doctrine is very subtle, deep and hard to discern.)

When the Buddha repeatedly reflected on this Doctrine in both forward and backward orders, He understood more and more, clearer and clearer, the process of the arising of suffering in saṃsāra in forward order that, on account of the causes, such as ignorance, etc., there arose incessantly the effects, such as mental formation, etc. In like manner, the Buddha also understood the process of the cessation of saṃsāric suffering in backward order that, on account of the causes, such as the cessation of ignorance, etc., (by not arising), there ceased the effects which were the cessation of mental formation, etc., (by not arising). This led to the continuous appearance in the Buddha of a series of such mental impulsions as Mahā-kriyā somanassasahagata nānasampayutta asankharika javana preceded by joyful satisfaction, pīti, in the heart.

When a vessel is filled with butter or oil up to its brim, the surplus will overflow; similarly, when the vessel of the Buddha’s heart was filled with the oil of rapture preceded by the increasingly distinct knowledge of the Doctrine, the Buddha uttered an udāna verse as thought it overflowed His heart:

Yadā have pātubhavanti dhamma
ātāpino jhāyato brāhmanassa
Athassa kankhā vapayanti sabba
Yato pājanāti sahetudhammaṃ
.

When the thirty-two Constituents of Enlightenment (Bodhi-pakkhiya-dhammās) appeared vividly in the mental continuum of an arahat, who has rid himself of all that is evil, who is endowed with right exertion to heat up one thousand five hundred defilements, whose meditation is steadfast and keen to the extent of reaching the Path of Appanā-jhāna, by reflecting on the characteristics of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and non-substantiality of various samatha objects such as breathing-out and breathing-in and of both material and mental aggregates; then on account of the vivid appearance of the thirty-two Constituents of Enlightenment, He thoroughly knows the aggregate of suffering comprising ignorance, etc., as the causes, and mental formations, etc., as the effects. On discerning clearly this Doctrine of Paṭiccasamuppāda, all the doubts regarding the Doctrines or all the sixteen doubts regarding mind and matter, that would occur in the three phases of time (past, present and future) owing to the ignorance of the Doctrine of Paṭiccasamuppāda, disappear in the mental continuum of that arahat just as dewdrops vanish with the onset of sun heat.

In the middle watch of night, the Buddha contemplated the Doctrine of Paṭiccasamuppāda repeatedly in forward and backward orders throughout the watch. When He was contemplating, His knowledge of Nibbāna, the cessation of the cause, became clearer and clearer. This led to the continuous appearance in the Buddha of a series of such mental impulsion as Mahā-kriyā somanassa-sahagata ñāṇa-sampayutta asaṅkhārika javana preceded by wisdom and rapture. Since He was unable to control that rapture, again He uttered another udāna on account of that rapture preceded by wisdom as though the rapture spilled:

Yadā have pātubhavanti dhamma
ātāpino jhayato brāhmanassa.
Athassa kankhā vapayanti sabha
yato khayaṃ paccayānam avedi
.

When the thirty-two Constituents of Enlightenment appeared vividly in the mental continuum of an arahat, who has rid himself of all that is evil, who is endowed with right exertion to heat up one thousand five hundred defilements, whose meditation is steadfast and keen to the extent of reaching the Path of Appanā-jhāna, by reflecting on the characteristics of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and non-substantiality of various samatha objects such as breathing-out and breathing-in and of both material and mental aggregates; then, on account of this vivid appearance of the thirty-two Constituents of Enlightenment, He penetrated the unconditioned Nibbāna, the cessation of all the causes such as ignorance, etc. On discerning clearly the unconditioned ultimate Nibbāna called the cessation of causes (paccayakkhaya), all the doubts, that would occur owing to ignorance of Nibbāna, disappear in the mental continuum of that arahat, just as dewdrops vanish with the onset of sun heat.

In the last watch of the night, the Buddha contemplated the Doctrine of Paṭiccasamuppāda repeatedly in forward and backward orders throughout the watch. When He was thus contemplating, His knowledge of the noble Path that sees thoroughly the incessant going round and cessation of the cycle of suffering became clearer and clearer.

This led to the continuous appearance in the Buddha of a series of such mental impulsions as Mahā-kriyā somanassa-sahagata ñāṇa-sampayutta asaṅkhārika javana preceded by wisdom and rapture. Since He was unable to contain that rapture, still again He uttered a third udāna on account of that rapture preceded by wisdom, as though the rapture spilled:

Yadā have pātubhavanti dhammā
atāpino jhāyato brāhmanassa
vidhūpayaṃ tiṭṭhati mārasenāṃ
sūriyo va obhāsayaṃ antalikkhaṃ
.

When the thirty-two Constituents of Enlightenment appeared vividly in the mental continuum of an arahat, who has rid himself of all that is evil, who is endowed with right exertion to heat up one thousand five hundred defilements, whose meditation is steadfast and keen to the extent of reaching the Path of Appanā-jhāna, by reflecting on the characteristics of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and non-substantiality of various samatha objects such as breathing-out and breathing-in and of both material and mental aggregates; then, just as the sun that rises and stands on the top of Mount Yugandhara, illuminating the whole vault of heaven with its own light, even so (that arahat by means of the thirty-two Constituents of Enlightenment) crushes the ten Māra armies, such as sensuality, etc., and remains in the brilliance of the torch of His wisdom resembling the sun.

(In the Udāna Pāli, it is stated that during the first watch of the night, the Doctrine of Paṭiccasamuppāda was reflected in forward order; during the middle watch, it was reflected in backward order and during the last watch, it was reflected in both forward and backward orders. This statement refers to the Buddha’s reflection on the seventh night that completed His week-long stay on the Throne.)

After reflecting on the Doctrine of Paṭiccasamuppāda in forward and backward orders throughout the three watches of the night of the first waxing moon of Vesākha, the Buddha uttered the aforesaid three verses of Udāna;on the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh days too, He remained on that Aparājita Throne, enjoying the bliss of arahantship.

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