The Mahavastu (great story)

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

This page describes megha and meghadatta which is Chapter XXIII 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 XXIII - Megha and Meghadatta

Now there was a certain learned man who was perfectly versed in the three Vedas and the six Vedāṅgas, in phonology,[1] in the fifth branch of study, that is, traditional lore,[2] and in the indexes and ritual.[3] He was an expert teacher of young brāhmans, and taught five-hundred of them from among the brāhman princes to recite the hymns of the Vedas.

At this time he had as pupils two young brāhmans, (232) named Megha and Meghadatta,[4] who were bound together by ties of mutual affection and friendship. The young brāhman Megha was clever, intelligent, thoughtful, and keen-witted, so that before long he had learnt all the hymns by heart. When he had completed learning the Vedas he left the Himalayas[5] and came down[6] into the provinces, saying, “I shall go and seek the means to pay my master’s fees.” He took with him his staff, his water-pot, his sunshade, his sandals and his bathing-mantle. Whatever village, city or town[7] he entered the confines of became free from affliction and distress through the power and influence[8] of the young brāhman Megha. On his way he begged of somebody, and was given five-hundred purāṇas.[9]

Then the thought occurred to him, “What if I now go to the royal city of Dīpavatī that I may see the citadel of a universal king with its seven treasures and its joyfulness?” When he entered the royal city of Dīpavatī he saw that it was in festive array. He wondered to himself, “What holiday is there to-day in the royal city of Dīpavatī, or what public affair or what festival? Perhaps King Arcimat has heard that the young brāhman Megha, who has thoroughly mastered the Vedas, has come down from the Himalayas to the provinces, and is on his way to the royal city of Dīpavatī. Hence this gay adornment of the city.” And as he goes forward he looks for someone who is entering the city to question him.

Just then there came along a young brāhman girl, gracious, comely, sedate, modest and coy, who was carrying a pitcher of water and seven lotuses. Megha asked her, “Is there a festival in the city to-day?” The young girl (who was named) Prakṛti replied to Megha in verse

Of a truth, young man, you are not of this place; you have come from another city, since you do not know that the Benefactor of the world, the Light-bringer, has come to Dīpavatī.

(233) Dīpaṃkara, the Guide of the world, Arcimat’s glorious offspring, a Buddha, is about to enter the city. It is in honour of him that the city is gaily decked out.

Megha asked her, “What price did you pay for those lotuses, lady?” She replied, “I bought five of them for five-hundred purāṇas, and the other two I had from a friend.” Then the young brāhman, Megha, said to her, “I’ll give you five-hundred purāṇas for the five lotuses. With them I’ll pay homage to the exalted Dīpaṃkara, and you can honour him with the other two.” She replied and said, “I’ll give you the five lotuses on the one condition that you will take me to wife. Wherever you may be reborn, I shall be your wife and you will be my husband.” The young brāhman Megha replied, “I mean to conceive the thought of winning the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment. How then shall I think of marriage?” She answered “Go on and conceive that thought. I shall not hinder you.”

Megha consented, and said, “I shall take you to wife in return for these lotuses. I shall honour the exalted Dīpaṃkara, and, also, I shall conceive the thought of winning the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment.” When he had given the five-hundred purāṇas and received the five lotuses, a sublime and sweet exaltation rose within him as he heard the maiden Prakṛti utter the name of Buddha.

“If you desire to honour the Guide of the world with a charming bouquet of lotuses, take me to wife to-day. So shall I be constantly faithful in love.

“As the blossom of the glomerous fig-tree[10] but rarely is found appearing in the world, O young brāhman (234), so is it with the appearance of glorious Buddhas and Tathāgatas.

“With this enchanting bouquet of lotuses do you honour the Buddha, the driver of tameable men. It will be the means of your enlightenment. And I shall everywhere be your wife.”

Megha replied:—

“To-day I take you to wife in return for this enchanting bouquet of lotuses. I shall honour the Buddha, the driver of tameable men, and this will be the means of my enlightenment.”

She, transported with joy, gave him the lotuses, knowing that he was allured by her love. And as he went his way she followed, until the young brāhman stood at a cross-roads.

Now the Exalted One, accompanied by eighty-thousand monks and by King Arcimat with eighty-thousand vassals and several thousands of wealthy nobles, recluses, brāhmans and sectaries, was on his way to the royal city of Dīpavatī.

As the Exalted One sets forth, thousands of dev as assemble, bringing thousands of sunshades studded with the seven precious stones.

Then he, the possessor of great virtue, with the swinging gait of an elephant in rut, with his body covered in sparkling net-work, put himself at the head of the noble throng.

(235) Devas hold sunshades over the pure deva, the handles of which were cunningly adorned with beryl, crystal, and solid gold.

These had been made by devas, and shone like the orb of the newly-risen sun in the sky. They were filled with brightly -shining, sweetly-tinkling bells.

The lord of the Three-and-Thirty devas held up a sunshade for him who shelters the world, a sunshade made in heaven, bejewelled with the seven precious stones and crowned with flowers of heaven.

Three thousand devas followed fanning the stainless lord, the sovereign of men, with a chowrie fan, the handle of which was well made of solid gold.

The earth heaves and subsides and subsides and heaves at the moment the Exalted One enters, owing to the power of the Daśabala.

And as soon as the Exalted One puts his golden-sandalled right foot down by Indra’s column there arises a marvellous noise.

Trumpets resound, and tabours and war-drums, though no one beats them, and horns, cymbals and pipes are played as the Pre-eminent Man enters.

And all the jewels in the city which are kept in caskets and wickerwork boxes rattle together, when he who knows the best of all jewels enters.

Then they carpet the ground before the Exalted One with costly soft garments of many a kind, crimson-dyed Benares

cloth and woven silk.

... [11]

(236) From the edge of the park right up to the inner court of the great king, the path of the king of men was radiant in its carpet of a hundred-thousand cloths.

And then young women go to the forest glades and gather heaps of flowers, which they shower on the lion-hearted man, pouring them over him as over a hill of gold.

As the mighty and merciful one draws near to Dīpavatī they pour the heaps of flowers on the glorious Exalted One.

These fragrant flowers when thrown from their hands stand over the Exalted One, the saviour of the world, like a five-hued canopy of blossoms.

Hovering unsupported in the air,[12] these fragrant flowers with their stalks turned inwards salute him by moving to the right when he stops.

When he, the Light of the world, moves on they follow; when he stops they stop. Not a single posture[13] of the mighty All-conquering One do they miss.

Even if the disintegrating winds[14] of the end of the world carried away this universe of three thousand worlds, they could not shake the canopy of flowers, much less carry it away.

The throng of devas in heaven, seeing the Exalted One all golden like the colour of the golden sugar-cane, exclaimed, “Behold the Dharma!”[15]

(237) The sky is draped with festoons of flowers; floods of flowers knee-deep sparkle on the earth, and in the air stands the canopy of flowers.

On all sides, to the accompaniment of music, exclamations of “Behold the Dharma” re-echo through the city as the valiant man enters.

The clear notes of the swan, sparrow, peacock and cuckoo, and the humming of bees are heard in Dīpavatī, mingling with the rattle of jewels in their caskets.

Then, Maudgalyāyana, the young brāhman Megha saw the exalted Dīpaṃkara coming when he was yet some distance away. He saw that he possessed the thirty-two marks of a Great Man, and the eighty minor characteristics; that his body was radiant; that he was endowed with the eighteen special attributes of a Buddha;[16] that he was strong with a Tathāgata’s ten powers, and gifted with the four grounds of perfect self-confidence.[17] He was like a Nāga, perfected in action, with his faculties turned inwards, with a mind not turned to external things; he was steadfast in dharma, with his faculties under control, with his mind calmed, having attained the perfection of the ideal self-control and tranquillity, and having himself well-guarded. He was like a Nāga who had triumphed over the functions of his senses, who was transparent as a pool, not muddied, but pure and fair. He was good to look upon, lovely, of peerless birth, shining with a lovely radiance that extended a yojana.

When he had seen all this, perception of the truth[18] came to Megha and he exclaimed, “I, too, will become a Buddha in the world.” Then, Mahā-Maudgalyāyana, the young brāhman Megha recited these verses:—

It has taken a long time for the All-seeing One to appear in the world. It takes a long time for Tathāgatas to be born. After a longtime, too, my vow will be fulfilled, and I shall become a Buddha. Of this I have no doubt.

(238)Then, Mahā-Maudgalyāyana, the young brāhman Megha feeling a sublime exhilaration, a sublime joy and gladness, threw those five lotuses towards the exalted Dīpaṃkara, and they remained fixed as a bright veil covering the circle of Dīpaṃkara’s head. The young brāhman girl Prakṛti, also, threw her two lotuses, and these, too, stood suspended in the air.

Exalted Buddhas convince people by means of three miracles,[19] the miracle of magic power, the miracle of mind-reading,[20] and the miracle of instruction. The five lotuses thrown at the exalted Dīpaṃkara by the young brāhman Megha, those thrown by the young brāhman girl Prakṛti, and those thrown by other people, stood over the Exalted One as a canopy of flowers so as to win power over men ready to be trained,[21] and to bring joy and gladness to the young brāhman Megha. It was a canopy[22] lovely and fair to behold, with four props, four entrances, and draped with festoons of fine cloth.

When Megha saw these lovely and bright lotuses standing all around over the radiant head of the Exalted One, joy and gladness arose in him as he became aware of his sublime thought. Putting his water-pot on one side, and spreading out his robe on the ground, he threw himself down at the feet of the Exalted One and wiped the soles of them with his hair. And then he conceived this thought:—

“Ah! May I too in some future time become a Tathāgata, an Arhan, a perfect Buddha, gifted with knowledge and conduct, a Sugata, an unsurpassed knower of the world, a driver of tameable men, a teacher of devas and men, as this exalted Dīpaṃkara now is. So may I become endowed with the thirty-two marks of a Great Man, with his eighty minor characteristics, and with his radiant body. May I become endowed with the eighteen special attributes of a Buddha, strong with a Tathāgata’s ten powers, and confident with the four grounds of self-confidence, as this exalted Dīpaṃkara now is. So may I set rolling the incomparable wheel of dharma, as does now the exalted Dīpaṃkara. So may I preserve a body of disciples in harmony. So may devas and men deem me worthy to be heard (239) and believed. Having thus crossed, may I lead others across; emancipated, may I emancipate others; comforted, may I comfort others, as this exalted Dīpaṃkara now does. May I become this for the happiness and welfare of mankind, out of compassion for the world, for the sake of the great multitude, for the happiness and welfare of devas and men.”

Then, Mahā-Maudgalyāyana, the exalted Dīpaṃkara, aware of the young brāhman Megha’s great striving after the unsurpassed knowledge of a Buddha, aware of his store of the roots of goodness and of the vow of his heart, and knowing that he was without fault or defect, without blemish or scar, proclaimed that he would win the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment. “You will become, O young brāhman,” said he, “in the future, after an immeasurable, incalculable kalpa, in Kapilavastu, the city of the Śākyans, a Tathāgata of the name of Śākyamuni, an Arhan, a perfect Buddha, gifted with knowledge and conduct, a Sugata, an unsurpassed knower of the world, a driver of tameable men, a teacher of devas and men, as I now am. You will become endowed with the thirty-two marks of a Great Man, his eighty minor characteristics and his radiant body. You will become gifted with the eighteen special attributes of a Buddha, strong with a Tathāgata’s ten powers, and confident with the four grounds of self-confidence. Having yourself crossed, you will lead others across; emancipated, you will emancipate others; comforted, you will comfort others; having won final release you will give final release to others, as I now do. So will you set rolling the incomparable wheel of dharma. So will you preserve a body of disciples in harmony. So will devas and men deem you worthy to be heard and believed. And as I now am, you will become this for the welfare and happiness of mankind, out of compassion for the world, for the sake of the great multitude, and for the welfare and happiness of devas and men.

Immediately, Mahā-Maudgalyāyana, it had been proclaimed by the exalted Dīpaṃkara that he would win the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment, the young brāhman Megha rose up in the air as high as a palm-tree, and, throwing his cloak over one shoulder, with joined hands outstretched he did obeisance to the exalted Dīpaṃkara and his disciples. And at that moment and instant this great earth trembled and shook violently six times. The devas of earth raised a shout and made their cries heard as they shouted, (240) “Now it has been proclaimed by the exalted Dīpaṃkara that this young brāhman Megha will win the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment. He will do so for the welfare and happiness of mankind, out of compassion for the world, for the sake of the great multitude, for the welfare and happiness of devas and men.”

Hearing the shout of the devas of earth, the devas of heaven, the Cāturmahārājika devas, the Trāyastṛmśa devas, the Yāma devas, the Tuṣita devas, the Nirmāṇarati devas and the Paranirmitavaśavartin devas, at that moment and instant raised a shout that reached the devas in Brahmā’s heaven, crying, “Behold, thus has this young brāhman Megha been proclaimed by the exalted Dīpaṃkara to win the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment. He will do so for the welfare and happiness of mankind, out of compassion for the world, for the sake of the great multitude, for the welfare and happiness of devas and men.”

Then a great radiance, immense and sublime, shone forth in the world. And all the intervals between the spheres, regions of blackness lapped in blackness, of gloom lapped in gloom, of eternal darkness, where the moon and sun, powerful and majestic though they are, with all their brilliance cannot make their brilliance penetrate, with all their light cannot exert their light, suddenly became suffused with this radiance. The beings who had been reborn in those spheres became aware of one another, (and cried) “Lo! there are other beings reborn here. Lo! There are other beings reborn here.” Now all those beings were for that instant, for that moment immersed in bliss. Even those reborn in the great hell Avīci excelled the splendour of devas, of Nāgas, and of Yakṣas. The realms of Māra were eclipsed, rendered lustreless, gloomy and joyless. They fell in fragments, here for one kos, there for two, there for three. They fell in fragments for yojanas.

Their standards, too, fell, and wicked Māra was unhappy, discomfited, remorseful, tortured by an inward sting.

(241) Spreading[23] out his robe, and putting his water-pot on one side, he threw the lotuses he had in his hand, and fell down at the feet of the All-Wise.

The fragrant lotuses, when they leave his hand, stand to form a flowery five-hued canopy for the exalted saviour of the world.

Hovering unsupported in the air, these fragrant flowers with their stalks turned inwards, saluted him by moving to the right when he stopped.

As the Light of the world moves on, they follow; they stop when he stops. They do not miss a single posture of the mighty All-conquering One.

Even if the disintegrating winds of the world’s end carried away the universe of three-thousand worlds, they could not touch this canopy of flowers, much less carry it away.

The throngs of devas in heaven, seeing the Exalted One all golden like the golden sugar-cane, exclaimed, “Behold the Dharma!”[24]

Then the earth with ocean and sky quaked, and among the devas in heaven a wondrous shout went up when this prediction was proclaimed.

The Exalted One who carries high the banner of the unique good news, the sage Dīpaṃkara, has foretold of this Megha, “You will become a Conqueror.

“You will do[25] this for the welfare and happiness of the worlds of men, of Brahmā, of Sura and Asura. The desolate ways and the hells will fade away, the devas will wax strong.”

(242) A[26] most incalculable kalpa[27] ago there was a Master, named Dīpaṃkara, a light, a refuge, and a haven, a preacher of his own dharma, exalted, a prince of men.

He, in his wisdom having attained the highest good, confidently set rolling the wheel of dharma. Mindful, and firmly established in truth and dharma, he raised men out of their great fear and the rough places.

Megha saw the leader of the throng of recluses, Dīpaṃkara, who bore the bright marks of perfection. Calming his heart he worshipped the Conqueror, and as he worshipped he made his vow:—

“So may I live through this world as he whose mind is free of attachment lives. May I set rolling the incomparable wheel of dharma, the well-wrought wheel revered of devas and men.

“May I live for the sake of the world, and teach dharma to devas and men. So may I convert men as this Light of the world now does.”

A ware of his vow and seeing that he was free of all attachments, qualified in all respects, without fault, defect, blemish or scar, the wise Conqueror, in his discernment of what is good, proclaimed,

(243) “Young Megha, in an incalculable kalpa hence you will become a Buddha. When you are a Śākyan in Kapila-vastu, the abode of seers, then will you realise your vow.”

Megha sent[28] another five-hundred purāṇas to his master, and when he had presented them he related to Meghadatta all that had happened. “Thus did I,” said he, “honour the exalted Dīpaṃkara, and he proclaimed that I should win the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment. Let us two now go to the presence of the exalted Dīpaṃkara, live the holy life and join his assembly.”

Meghadatta replied, “As yet I have not mastered the Vedas, and so I cannot go.”

When the association of friendship is rudely shattered and destroyed, men become as driftwood which is scattered in pieces upon the great sea.

But Megha went and embraced the religious life with Dīpaṃkara. People like Megha, because of their friendship with what is lovely,[29]after winning the favour of and worshipping innumerable countless thousands of koṭis of Buddhas and their companies of disciples, and after worshipping countless koṭis of nayutas of Pratyekabuddhas, experience the happiness that is attainable by devas and men,[30] until finally they awake to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment. For he[31] who has listened to the Driver of tameable men prays that he may not again go and grasp at material form[32] and the substratum[33] of existence.

But all Meghadatta said was, “This young brāhman Megha is much too ready to bow his head.” And he was not at all thrilled at hearing news of the Buddha from the young brāhman Megha. Through consorting with bad friends, he went on to commit the five crimes that bring immediate retribution.[34]

He fell in love with another man’s wife whom he visited

(244) early and late. Her mother, out of love for her child, tried to keep him away, fearing lest the husband should take him for an adulterer and kill him.

The impassioned man does not know moral good, nor does he see dharma. When passion overcomes a man, he becomes blinded.

Meghadatta killed the mother, and then went to his mistress, and in his infatuation laughingly told her what he had done. “I love you so much,” said he, “that for your sake I killed your mother.” The woman was horrified, and replied, “Do not come to me any more.”

He next became infatuated with his step-mother. She told him, “Go and kill your father, and you shall be my husband.” So he murdered his own father.

He was shunned in the neighbourhood, and his friends and relatives avoided him. From that neighbourhood he went to another place, saying, “No one will know me here.” Now to that place there came, in the course of his wanderings through the provinces, a monk who was a client[35] of his parents, and an arhan of great power. This monk saw his patrons’ son there.

But when Meghadatta in his turn saw the monk he became apprehensive, and said, “This monk must not be allowed to cause me any trouble here.” And he murdered the monk and arhan.

Then he embraced the teaching of him who was the perfect Buddha of the time. But when he had done so he caused dissension in the community, and wounded the Buddha till the blood ran.

For committing these five crimes he was reborn in the great hells. In the course of a long period of time he passed through one life after another in the eight great hells and in the sixteen secondary ones. (245) When the exalted Śākyamuni awoke to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment and set rolling the wheel of dharma, Meghadatta came to life in the great ocean as a fish named Timitimiṅgila,[36] many hundred yojanas in length.

When the layman Thapakarṇi[37] with five-hundred companions sailed in his ships towards that part of the ocean where the hungry sea-monster dwelt, there it was with its mouth gaping wide in readiness for food. The vessels of Sthapakarṇika the layman came to the very spot where the monster was. Lifting its jaws out of the water the monster said to him, “Layman, these vessels are doomed to the infernal regions. Do what you have to do, for your life is over.”

The sailors call on the gods, each ship invoking its own. Some invoke Śiva, others Vaiśravaṇa, others Skandha, others Varuṇa, others Yama, others Dhṛtarāṣṭra, others Virūḍhaka, others Virūpakṣa, others Indra, others Brahmā, and others the gods of the sea.[38] At length the venerable Pūrṇaka[39] observes and sees the layman Sthapakarṇika and his five-hundred companions in their distress. He rose up from Mount Tuṇḍaturika[40] and came flying through the air until he stood hovering over the vessel of Thapakarṇi on the sea. And all the five hundred merchants, stretching out their joined hands, stood up and cried, “Lord, lord, we turn to thee for salvation.”

The wise man replied, “I am not the Exalted One. I am but a disciple of his. Do you all with one voice cry out, ‘Homage to the Buddha.’” And all the five-hundred merchants cried out “Homage to the Buddha.” The sound of the Buddha’s name reached the ears of Timitimiṅgila, and this sound which he had heard an immeasurable incalculable kalpa before when the young brāhman Megha had mentioned the name of the Buddha Dīpaṃkara, came to him again when he was in the form of the fish Timitimiṅgila in the great ocean.

The sound of the Buddha’s name is not unavailing. And now, in the form of Timitimiṅgila, Meghadatta thought, “A Buddha has appeared in the world, whilst I am fallen into a state of woe.” Deeply moved he shut his jaws again, and just because he had called to mind the Buddha’s name he died of hunger. Immediately after his death he was reborn in the great city of Śrāvastī, (246) in a family of brāhmans. There was he born and grew up to be a young lad.

As it has been said by the Exalted One, “I declare, monks, there is no other cause but karma.”

Now the name of Dharmaruci was given to this young lad, and when he grew up he embraced the teaching of the Exalted One. By application, endeavour and exertion he attained the three stages of knowledge[41] and the six super-knowledges[42], and realised the mastery of the powers.[43] Three times daily did he repair to the Exalted One to bow at his feet, and each time the Exalted One reproved and reminded him, saying, “It is a long time, Dharmaruci, it is a very long time, Dharmaruci.” And Dharmaruci always replied, “Just so, Lord, just so, Sugata. It is a long time, Lord, a very long time, Sugata.”

The monks in perplexity inquired of the Exalted One, saying, “Three times a day does Dharmaruci come to the Exalted One and the Exalted One says, ‘It is a long time, Dharmaruci, it is a very long time, Dharmaruci.’ And Dharmaruci always replies, ‘Just so, Lord, just so, Sugata. It is a long time, Lord, a very long time, Sugata.’ Now we, Lord, do not understand the meaning of these words.”

The Exalted One explained in detail to these monks the course of events since the time of Dīpaṃkara, “and,” he added, “I was the young brāhman Megha, and Dharmaruci here was Meghadatta.”

“Thus, monks, not in vain is the sound of the Buddha’s name. It persists until all ill ceases.”

Then[44] Dharmaruci, the elder, approached the Master and bowed at his feet. The Master said, “It is a very long time, Dharmaruci.”

“It is a very long time, O Guide of the world,” says Dharmaruci in reply to the Master, and the Conqueror, though he knows,[45] asks him, “Why do you say, ‘It is a very long time’ ?”

Dharmaruci replies, “Of yore I was the fish Timitimiṅgila in the sea, extremely weak from hunger, and foraging[46] for my food.

(247) “Many nayutas of creatures had found their way into my maw, when there came along five-hundred merchants, in their ships.

“When the vessels came my way all the merchants, distraught with terror at the peril they were in, with one voice called out, ‘Homage to the Buddha, to the Daśabala.’

“Hearing the sound of the Buddha’s name, unheard of by me before,[47] I was gladdened, thrilled and uplifted in heart, and I hurriedly closed my mouth.

“Nayutas of beings reborn as beasts heard these five-hundred merchants, and through the sound of the Daśabala’s name I raised myself out of my state of woe.

“Lord, it was through this meritorious act of mine that I won my present human state. It. was as the fruit of this good conduct that I came to be called Dharmaruci.

“By that same cause, O Self-becoming One, not long after I had become a monk under thy teaching, I shed my lusts and became an arhan.

“Having gone through an endless round of rebirths (saṃsāra) for koṭis of nayutas of kalpas, I called to mind the Sugata, and exclaimed, ‘At long last, O Benefactor of the world.’

“At long last my dharma-eye[48] is cleared, my doubt of dharma is dispelled. Long did I dwell in the dark dungeon of folly, in states of woe.

“By this merit of mine, the darkness was dissipated, and passion and hatred were suppressed. And here at length is this birth of mine free of any residual basis[49] of another life, with the stream that is a conduit to further existence[50] completely dried up.

“Great then was the fruit for Timitimiṅgila of his hearing the Buddha’s name. Who, then, Lord, would not produce that immortal sound?

(248) “One must therefore rid oneself of the five hindrances[51] which are the shackles of the heart, and listen to the Buddha’s voice, fully realising how rare a thing it is.

“Hard is it for men to win deliverance from the jungles of unreal forms. But Buddhas appear, and then will come faith and release.”

Here ends the history of Dīpaṃkara in the Mahāvastu-Avadāna.[52]

Footnotes and references:


Sākṣaraprabhedāna, “the breaking up of letters,” “word-analysis.”


Itihāsapañcama, literally” traditional lore as the fifth.” Cf. D. i. 88.


Sanighaṇṭakaiṭabha (sic for °ubha), from nighaṇṭa (Pali nighaṇḍu) “explained word, vocabulary, index” and kaiṭubha (Pali keṭubha) explaineḍ by Buddhaghosa (DA. 1.247) as “the science which assists the officiating priest by laying down rules for the rites or by leaving them to his discretion.” (See Pali Dictionary.)


Of these two only Megha is mentioned in the Pali texts. In Ap. 2. 430 there is the story of a Megha, who, like the present one, lived in the time of Dīpaṃkara, but fulfilled the role Meghadatta has here. His opposite number in the Pali text is Sumedha (D.P.N.).


Where learned men and ascetics generally had their hermitages and schools.


Okasta, i.e. avakasta, of doubtful derivation, but here and elsewhere in our text obviously of this meaning.


See note p. 14.


Adopting Senart’s suggestion that we should read tejānubhāvena for the tejodhātubhāvena of the text. For there need be no question here of those other miraculous phenomena associated with the word tejodhātu. Tejas is used here in just the same sense as it was above in denoting the influence or power of the unborn Bodhisattva.


Literally “ancient pieces.” Probably the copper not the silver coin of this name is meant here. It is not possible to say whether they were the earlier type of rectangular pieces of punched metal, tokens in fact, or the later stamped, legend-bearing and circular coins in the proper sense of the word.


Udumbara, the Ficus glomerata. The rarity of Buddhas is often compared to the rarity of the blossoming of this tree.


A corrupt unintelligible passage of two lines, apparently specifying other kinds of material, or, perhaps, explaining those already named. Possibly, as Senart suggests, it is a gloss, as it breaks the continuity of the verse, and does not readily admit of a metrical arrangement.


Literally “in the unsupported pathway of the sky,” gaganapathe nirālambe. Cf. note p. 166.


Īryāpatha, see note p. 18.


Samvartakā vātā, the winds supposed to blow during the aeon of the “rolling up” (samvartati, see p. 43) or dissolution of the world.


Aho dharmaṃ. Senart interprets dharmaṃ here as a shortened form of adbhutadharmaṃ, and renders, “Ah! quel miracle! quelle merveille!” Miss I. B. Horner, however, in a note to the translator, makes the happy suggestion that the phrase is to be interpreted on the analogy of such Pali expressions as Bhagavā dhammdbhūto (A. 5. 226, etc.) and yo dhammaṃ passati so maṃ passati (5. 3. 120, etc.) That is to say, the Buddha is here hailed and identified as the very incarnation of the dharma. If objection be taken to dharmam as an accusative of exclamation there is manuscript authority for the vocative dharma.


I.e. the āveṇikā dharmā. See above p. 33.


Vaiśāradya. See p. 33.


Advayasaṃjñā. The meaning of advaya in this term is not certain. Senart cites Hemacandra who gives advaya as a name for the Buddha, while the Mahāvyutpatti gives advayavādin as a similar name. From the latter it would appear that advaya could denote “Buddhist doctrine” or “truth.” Miss I. B. Horner has called the translator’s attention to what may be a related idea in Sn. 884, ekaṃ hi saccaṃ na dutīyam atthi. [??trained??]


Ādeśanā, Pali ādesanā.


Or, “because, for the sake of, men ready to be trained.” Vaineyavaśena For vaineya see note p. 42.


Vitāna. The accompanying adjectives are masculine, as the substantive itself sometimes is, although it is neuter immediately above.


A metrical, but almost verbally identical version of the prose passage above.


Aho dharmaṃ. See note p. 192.


Kāhasi, Pali future of karoti. Cf. kāhinti, p. 256 (text).


Another metrical version of the proclamation of Megha’s future Buddha-hood, but without the details of the legend as given above.


Asaṃkhyeyatara, comparative for superlative, as often.


Preśitāni. As no mention is made of Megha’s securing another five-hundred pieces, and as he seems to take the money in person, Śenart suggests that preśitāni should be corrected into yācitāni, “begged,” i.e. for his master.


Kalyāṇamitrāṇyāgamya. Cf. S. 5. 3 mamaṃ kalyāṇamittam āgamma, “because of my friendship with what is lovely,” (K.S. 5.3.) The Pali Commentary explains āgamma as equivalent to ārabbha, sandhāya or paṭicca, i.e. “beginning with” or “owing to.” Senart, in his note, had already, without the aid of the Pali parallel, given this sense to āgamya.


A reference to the three attainments (sampatti) viz. (1) happiness in the world; (2) happiness among the devas; (3) Nirvāna. (See references in Pali Dictionary s.v. sampatti.)


The text here is corrupt; The first rūpam (yo rūpam naradamyasārathin śrutvā) is unintelligible. Possibly it conceals some epithet of the Buddha.




Upādi, Pali id. “Stuff of life, substratum of existence” (Pali Dictionary). In Pali always in the compound upādisesa, “having some basis of existence left,” and more frequently negative, anupādisesa, as descriptive of nibbāna. Cf. above p. 69 (text), anupādivimuktī, “complete release.”


Pañcānantaryāṇi sc. karmāṇi. The five such crimes specified here are matricide, parricide, killing an Arhan, causing schisms, and wounding a Buddha. These are five of the six abhiṭhānas referred to at Sn. 231 = Kh. 6. 10 and enumerated by the Commentary on that passage as consisting of the five just named, together with the crime of following other teachers. The only other place where these crimes are given as five, viz. Miln. 25, does not say what they were, for the five offences mentioned immediately before, murder, theft, impurity, lying and intemperance are the converse of the five śīlani. See p. 168 and Mrs. Rhys Davids at Dhs. trsl. 267.




A word meaning “swallowing whale after whale”—timi, a fabulous fish Cf. J. v. 462; V. 2. 238; Ud. 54.


Or Sthapakarṇika, as below, a name identical with Stavakarṇin in the Pūrṇaka story in the Divyāvadāna (pp. 24 ff.) which has been translated by Burnouf in his Introduction à l’histoire du Bouddhisme indien, pp. 255 ff.


Vaiśravaṇa, epithet of Kuvera, god of wealth (Pali Vessavaṇa), Dhṛtarāṣṭra (Pali Dhataraṭṭha), Virūḍhaka (Pali Virūḷha and Virūḷhaka), and Virūpakṣa (Pali Virūpakkha) are the Four Great Kings or Regents. See p. 25. Skandha (sic for Skanda) is a name for Kārttikeya, son of Śiva and god of war (Pali Khanda) “mentioned with Siva in the Udāna Commentary, 351” (D.P.N.). The other names are well known.


Several persons of this name are mentioned in the Pali texts.


Otherwise unknown.


Vidyā, Pali vijjā. When given as three the vidyās usually denote the last three degrees in the third stage of attainment of the highest knowledge, viz., prajñāsampadā. (The other two are śīlasampadā and cittasampadā.) The three degrees referred to are (1) memory of past lives, (2) knowledge of passing away and coming to be, and (3) the knowledge of the eradication of the āśravas.


Abhijñā, Pali abhiññā, as described e.g. at D. 3. 280 are six, and consist of (1) various manifestations of ṛddhi (iddhi) or magic power, (2) the possession of the “deva-ear” or clairaudience, (3) mind-reading, (4) memory of former lives, (5) the “deva-eye” or clairvoyance, and (6) the eradication of the āśravas. Three of them are thus identical with the three vidyās.


See p. 43.


A metrical version of the story of Meghadatta.


Reading jānanto for jānantaṃ of the text.


Viparimuṣaṃ, root muṣ, “to plunder”—a doubtful conjecture by Senart.


aśruta. Is this correct here? In the prose version the fish, as Meghadatta, had heard of the Buddha from his companion Megha.


See p. 126.


aśeṣā, “without a remnant,” for anupādiśeṣa see p. 199.


bhavanetri, Pali bhavanetti.


Nīvaraṇā, seep. 117.


Compare Apadāna 489.

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