by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Buddha descends from Tavatimsa to Sankassa 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 Seventh Vassa. 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).
People shifted from Savatthi to the Town of Sankassa
On the ninth waxing moon of Thadingyut, people lingering within the area of thirty-six yojanas, went and asked the Venerable Mahā Moggallāna: “Venerable Sir,.... it would be right and proper that we enquire the time of the Buddha’s return (to earth); we will not go back (to our own homes) until we have paid homage to the Buddha.” Venerable Mahā Moggallāna said: “Very well,” and dived right into the earth and went right up to the base of Mt. Meru. He willed that people should see him ascend to Tāvatiṃsa rising from within Mt. Meru. Then like a fine golden string threaded through a ruby he was clearly visible to the people, ascending from within the centre of the mountain to Tāvatiṃsa.
People who saw Venerable Mahā Moggallāna during the course of his ascent to the summit through the inside of the mountain measured his progress in terms of yojanas saying: “Now he has ascended one yojana, he has ascended two yojanas,” etc. On arrival at Tāvatiṃsa it was as if the Buddha’s feet rested on the head of Venerable Moggallāna who then approached the Buddha with profound respect and addressed: “Most Exalted Lord... people will not return to their home without paying homage to You and are anxious to know the time of Your descent to the world of humans.” The Buddha asked: “Dear son Moggallāna, where, at present, is your elder brother the Venerable Sāriputta?” Whereupon Venerable Moggallāna replied: “Most Exalted Lord, he has been keeping vassa at Sankassa town.” The Buddha made the following reply:
“Dear son Moggallāna... I will descend at the gate of Sankassa on the seventh day from now, that falls on the full moon day of Thadingyut, the time for the celebration of mahāpavarana. The distance between the two towns is thirty yojanas, but tell the people they need not bring any food for the journey, just as they would observe the precepts and go without taking any food or provisions to the monasteries at the head of the towns and villages but to listen to My Teaching (sermons) on this day. Venerable Mahā Moggallāna replied "Very well.... Most Exalted Lord.” On arrival back to earth, he relayed Buddha’s message to the people.
Buddha descent at The Gate of Sankassa Town by Triple Stairways
The Buddha made known His departure to Sakka: “Lay devotee Sakka, King of Devas.... I shall be returning to the world of humans” by way of formal leave taking. At the close of vassa, on the full moon day of Thadingyut, Sakka created a set of three stairways, one of gold, another of ruby and another of silver, side by side, with the bases at the Gate of Sankassa town and with their upper end resting on the summit of Mt. Meru. (1) The stairway on the right hand side was reserved for the devas, (2) the silver stairway on the left-hand side was reserved for the great Brahmās, (3) the ruby stairway in the middle was exclusively for the Buddha.
The Buddha, on the eve of departure, stood on the summit of Mt. Meru and performed the Twin Miracle of water and fire, and looked up at the sky. The whole region, right up to the realm of Akaniṭṭa Brāhma, appeared as an open space, unobstructed and clearly visible and when He looked downwards, He could see the Avīci at the bottom of the eight planes of misery; when He looked forward and side-ways, in all directions, thousands of worldsystems could be seen without any obstruction whatsoever. The strange scene was witnessed by all the devas, humans and Brahmās. Thus all the devas and Brahmāscould see the human beings and human beings could see them.
The Buddha caused the emanation of the six-hued rays from the body as He descended from Tāvatiṃsa to the world of humans, and there was no one in that crowd of spectators of thirty-six yojanas in circumference, who did not aspire to Buddhahood when they noticed the grandeur, greatness, grace and glory of the Buddha.
The devas came along down the gold stair-way on the right hand side. The Brahmās came along down the silver stairway on the left-hand side. The Buddha alone descended by the ruby stairway in the middle. Pañcasikha Deva on the right side of Buddha, paid homage by playing his Beluva harp; Suyama Deva also came along on the right side, fanning the Buddha with a fan made of hair of the yak’s tail; Santusita Deva came along on the same side fanning the Buddha with a fan studded with rubies, Sakka on the right hand side also blew the Vijayuttara, conch shell. Devas from the rest of the world system also came along paying homage in adoration in various ways. Brahmas came along by the silver stairway, holding the Brahmā’s white umbrella over the head of the Buddha as a gesture of profound respect.
Thus the Buddha descended to earth in the manner described above, and on arrival, stood at the gate of the town of Sankassa. Those people, who were gathered at Savatthi city, left after the morning meal, looking forward to seeing the Buddha on Pavarana day, at the end of the vassa. They eventually reached the gates of Sankassa town as quickly and effortlessly as if they were going to the monastery at the head of their village.