The Mahavastu (great story)

by J. J. Jones | 1949 | 502,133 words | ISBN-10: 086013041X

This page describes anugita-gatha which is Chapter IV(b) of the English translation of the Mahavastu (“great story”), dating to the 2nd-century BC. This work belongs to the Mahasanghika school of early Buddhism and contains narrative stories of the Buddha’s former lives, such as Apadanas, Jatakas and more..

Chapter IV(b) - Anugīta-Gāthā

Note: This text is extracted from the Mahāvastu vol 1 chapter 3 (the story of Abhiya):

so taṃ dānaṃ datvā praṇidhesi lokanāyako asya |
devamanuṣyācāryo āryaṃ dharmaṃ prakāśeyaṃ || 1 ||

1) When[1] he had presented his gift, he made his vow. “May I,” said he, “become a guide of the world, a teacher of dev as and men. May I preach the noble dharma.

dharmolkāṃ vicareyaṃ parāhaṇe dharmabherīṃ sapatākāṃ |
ucchreyaṃ dharmaketuṃ āryaṃ śaṃkhaṃ prapūreyaṃ || 2 ||

2) “May I bear about the torch of dharma. May I beat the bannered drum of dharma. May I raise the standard of dharma. May I blow the noble trumpet.

evaṃ ca mahyaṃ asyā prakāśanā deśanā ca dharmasya |
evaṃ ca bahū satvā ārye dharme niveśeyaṃ || 3 ||

3) “Thus may I expound and preach dharma. Thus may I establish many people in the noble dharma.

evaṃ ca me śruṇensuḥ devamanuṣyā subhāṣitaṃ vākyaṃ |
evaṃ ca dharmacakraṃ pravartaye bahujanahitāya || 4 ||

4) “Thus may devas and men listen to my eloquent words. Thus may I set rolling the wheel of dharma for the sake of the multitude.

kṛcchrāpannaiḥ satvaiḥ jātijarāpīḍitaiḥ maraṇadharmaiḥ |
bhavacakṣukaiḥ apāyā prajñāskandhaṃ niveśeyaṃ || 5 ||

5) “May I plant the rudiments of wisdom in the people who are sunk in misery, who are tormented by birth and old age and are subject to death, who see only with the bodily eye, and (lead them) from their evil plight.

saṃjīve kālasūtre saṃghāte raurave avīcismiṃ |
ṣaṭsu gatīhi vikīrṇāṃ bhavasaṃsārāt pramoceyaṃ || 6 ||

6) “May I release from the round of existence (saṃsāra) those who are scattered in Saṃjīva, Kālasūtra, Saṃghāta, Raurava, Avīci, and the six spheres of existence.[2]

narake pakvavipakvā apāyaprapīḍitāṃ maraṇadharmā |
alpasukhaduḥkhabahulāṃ bhavasaṃsārāt pramoceyaṃ || 7 ||

7) (43) “May I release from the round of existence (saṃsāra) those whose karma has fully or partly matured[3] in hell, those who are afflicted in evil plight, those who are subject to death, and those of little happiness and much misery.

arthaṃ careyaṃ loke devamanuṣyāṇāṃ deśiya dharmaṃ |
evaṃ vineya satvāṃ yathā ayaṃ lokapradyoto || 8 ||

8) “May I live on doing good in the world, teaching dharma to devas and men. Thus may I convert people as this Light of the world[4] does.

evaṃ ahaṃ lokam imaṃ careyaṃ yathā ayaṃ carati asaṃgamānaso |
cakraṃ va varteya ananyasādṛśo susatkṛto devamanuṣyapūjito || 9 ||

9) “May I live in this world as He whose mind is rid of attachments does. May I set rolling the wheel that has not its like, and is honoured and revered[5] by devas and men.”

praṇidhiṃ ca jñātvā susamudgato jino sarvehi hetūbhi upasthitehi|
akhaṇḍa-acchidram avraṇaṃ viyākare arthadarśī matimāṃ || 10 ||

10) The noble-born Conquer or,full of insight and understanding, aware of this vow, and seeing that all the conditions were satisfied, that (Abhiya) was without flaw, defect or blemish, thus proclaimed of him:—

buddho tuvaṃ hohisi lokanāyako anāgate kalpaśatasahasre |
kapilāhvaye ṛṣivadanasmiṃ śākiyo tadā ayaṃ praṇidhi vipākam eṣyati || 11 ||

11) “You will become a Buddha in the future, after a hundred thousand kalpas. You will become a guide of the world, a Śākyan of Kapilavastu in Ṛṣivadana.[6] Then will this vow of yours be fulfilled.”

atha sāgarāvalimahī prakampate ca divi devasaṃgheṣu |
vyākaraṇaṃ tasya dyutimato abhyudgami abhyudgataṃ ghoṣaṃ || 12 ||

12) Then the sea-girt earth shook, and the proclamation made of this illustrious monk Abhiya reached the ears of the assemblies of devas in heaven. A cry went up that,

eṣa abhiyo bhagavatā atyantasubhāṣitagītadhvajena |
sarvābhibhunā muninā viyākṛto hohisi jino tvaṃ || 13 ||

13) (44)The exalted Sarvābhibhū, whose banner is exceeding eloquent speech, had foretold to Abhiya, “You will become a Conqueror.

taṃ hitasukhāya hohisi sabrahmasurāsurasya lokasya |
hāyiṣyati asurakāyaṃ naramarusaṃgho vivarddhanti || 14 ||

14) “You will become that for the benefit and welfare of the worlds of Brahmā, of Suras and Asuras. The crowd of Asuras will dwindle, the community of men and devas will grow”.[7]

Footnotes and references:


A verse redaction of the story of Abhiya.


In the earlier Pali texts these gatis or “spheres of existence” are five in number, viz. hell, the brute creation, the ghost world, human life, and the deva worlḍs. Later texts add a sixth, viz. existence as asuras. Elsewhere the Mahāvastu (i. 293) makes the gatis eight in number, without, however, indicating what the additional ones may be.


? Pakvavipakvā, a reading adopted by Senart in preference to the obscure pakṣavipakṣa of the MSS.


Lokapradyota (once also lokasya pradīpa, p. 167, where see note) occurs several times in the Mahāvastu as an appellation of the Buddha, but has no exact counterpart in the Pali texts, the nearest being “eye in the world." (The translator is indebted for this suggestive comparison to Miss I. B. Horner.)


Although these adjectives are, in the text, nom. sing, masculine, the analogy of other passages shows, as Senart suggests, that they must be regarded as qualifying cakram, and they are translated accordingly.


In Pali Isipatana, the open space near Benares where was situated the famous Migadāya or Deer Park. Ṛṣivadana is the more frequent of the two forms of this name in the Mahāvastu, the other form being Riṣipattana. In one place, however, (1. 359), it is spelt Ṛṣipatana in accordance with the etymology of the name there given, viz. that it was so-called because the bodies of the Pratyekabuddhas “fell” there—ṛṣayo’tra patitā. The explanation of the name in Pali texts is slightly different. “Isipatana was so called because sages, on their way through the air (from the Himalayas), alight here or start from here on their aerial flight—isayo ettha nipatanti uppatanti cāti Isipatanaṃ.” (D.P.N.)


Cf. D. 2. 271. Yadā Tathāgatā loke uppajjanti arahantosammāsambuddhā dibbākāyā paripūrenti, hāyanti asurakāyā ti.