The Mahavastu (great story)

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

This page describes buddha mangala which is Chapter XXIV 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 XXIV - The Buddha Maṅgala

After that auspicious kalpa, an infinite, immeasurable, incalculable kalpa afterwards, Mahā-Maudgalyāyana, there appeared next after Dīpaṃkara the Tathāgata, Arhan and perfect Buddha named Maṅgala. And when Maṅgala was the perfect Buddha the span of man’s life was a hundred thousand koṭis of years.

Maṅgala held three assemblies of his disciples. In the first assembly there were one hundred thousand koṭis of disciples, all arhans who had destroyed the āśravas, who had kept the observances, who had their minds liberated by perfect knowledge, whose fetters binding them to existence were utterly decayed, and who had reached their goal. The second assembly consisted of ninety koṭis of disciples, all arhans who had destroyed the āśravas, who had kept the observances, who had their minds liberated by perfect knowledge, whose fetters binding them to existence were utterly decayed, and who had reached their goal. The third assembly consisted of eighty koṭis of disciples, all arhans who had destroyed the āśravas, who had kept the observances, who had their minds liberated by perfect knowledge, whose fetters binding them to existence were utterly decayed, and who had reached their goal.

Again, Mahā-Maudgalyāyana, the perfect Buddha Maṅgala had a pre-eminent and noble pair of disciples, named Sudeva and Dharmadeva, the former eminent for his wisdom, the latter for his magic power. He had a nun named Śīvālī, and a leading female disciple named Aśokā, the former eminent for her wisdom and the latter for her magic power.[1] He had an attendant monk (249) named Pālita. His bodhi tree was the iron-wood tree.[2] His city was called Uttara, and it extended twelve yojanas east and west and seven yojanas south and north, and was surrounded by seven golden ramparts with golden roofs. It was encircled by seven long lakes shining and sparkling with the seven hues of gold, silver, pearl, beryl, crystal, coral, and ruby. These lakes had stairs leading down to them of two precious substances, gold and silver. The steps of these stairs were of the four precious substances, gold, silver, pearl and beryl. These lakes were covered with lotuses, blue, red and white, of fragrant smell. They were shaded by trees of these kinds, to wit, the mango, the rose-apple, the breadfruit, the lakuca,[3] the bhavya,[4] and the pālevata.[5] On the shores of these lakes, again, were beds of land and water plants, to wit, atimuktaka,[6] campaka,[7] jasmine, vātuskāra,[8] blue water-lily, and damanaka,[9] flowers culled by devas.

Again, Mahā-Maudgalyāyana, the city of Uttara was surrounded by seven rows of palm-trees—in general the description of the royal city of Dīpavatī can be applied to it.

The perfect Buddha Maṅgala’s father, named Sundara, was a noble and a universal king. His mother was the queen named Śirī.[10]

At that time, Mahā-Maudgalyāyana, I was a Nāga king, named Atula, one who had done good deeds and had great authority and a store of outstanding merit.(250) I venerated, honoured, revered, and worshipped the exalted Maṅgala and his community of disciples, gave him a suit of garments, and made my vow to win enlightenment.

The Exalted One proclaimed of me, “In an immeasurable, incalculable kalpa in the future, you will become a Tathāgata named Śākyamuni, an Arhan, a perfect Buddha.”

After Dīpaṃkara came a Leader named Maṅgala, who dispelled the darkness in the world and lit his torch of dharma.

Matchless was his radiance beyond other Conquerors. He shone forth with his thousand rays, outshining the radiance of a koṭi of suns.

And this Buddha expounded the four ultimate truths, and men, imbibing this essence of truth, dissipated the great darkness.

When he had awakened to the unsurpassed enlightenment there was first a conversion[11] of a hundred thousand koṭis at the first preaching of dharma to the devas.

When[12]... then the Buddha beat the peerless drum of dharma.

Again, when he expounded the Four Truths in the second assembly of devas, there was a second conversion of ninety koṭis.

When Sundara, the universal king, accepted Buddha and the dharma, the perfect Buddha beat the peerless drum of dharma.

Sunanda’s[13] subjects were ninety koṭis of men. All these without exception became disciples of the Buddha.

(251) When he again expounded the Four Truths in a third assembly of devas there was a third conversion of eighty koṭis.

When the layman Uttara[14] accepted the Buddha’s teaching, then the perfect Buddha beat the peerless drum of dharma.

Uttara’s subjects were eighty koṭis of men, and all these without exception became disciples of the Buddha.

The great seer Maṅgala held three assemblies of disciples, who were rid of the āśravas, passionless, calm, and austere.

The first assembly consisted of a hundred-thousand koṭis, the second of ninety, and the third of eighty.

At that time I was a Nāga king, named Atula, enjoying great prosperity and possessing an outstanding store of merit.

To the accompaniment of the celestial instruments of the Nāgas I sang the praises of the great seer Maṅgala, gave him garments, and came to his refuge.

He, Maṅgala, the Buddha, the Guide of the world, proclaimed of me, “In an immeasurable kalpa hence you will become a Buddha in the world, in the happy flourishing city of the Śākyans, Kapilavastu.

“The mother who will bear you will be called Māyā. Your father will be a Gotama, named Śuddhodana.

Kolita and Upatiṣya will be your chief disciples; Kṣemā and Utpalavarṇā your chief nuns.[15]

“Your attendant will be named Ānanda, (252) and your bodhi tree will be that noble tree, the holy fig-tree.[16]

When I heard this prediction by the great seer Maṅgala, I exerted my energy and made my mind steady with the resolve never, as I fared along, to abandon the ways of enlightenment.

Uttar a was the name of the great seer Maṅgala’s city, Sundara the name of the noble, his father, and Śirikā his mother’s name. Sudeva and Dharmadeva were the great seer Maṅgala’s chief disciples, Śīvālī and Aśokā his chief female disciples.

His attendant was named Pālita, and his bodhi tree was the blossoming iron-wood tree.

The great seer had a brotherhood of a hundred thousand koṭis, and while on earth the great hero led across a great multitude.

He led across a great multitude by spreading his teaching abroad, shining bright as fire or the newly-risen sun.

As it is not possible to count the waves of the ocean, so is it not possible to count the sons of the Exalted One.

And now the blessed Buddha, the true dharma, and the noble company of his disciples all are wholly gone. Are not all existing things[17] vanity.[18]?

Here ends the history of Maṅgala in the Mahāvastu-Avadāna.

Footnotes and references:


With the exception of Dhammasena for Dharmadeva, these are also the chief monks and nuns of Maṅgala in the Pali texts. There, too, Pālita (see below) is his attendant, and Uttara his city.


Nāgavṛkṣa (Pali nāgarukkha) usually nāgakeśara, a tree noted for its hard wood and great masses of red flowers—messua Roxburghii or ferrea Lin.


A species of bread-fruit tree.


Perhaps, Averrhoa carambola.


Diospyros embryopheris.


Gaertnera racemosa.


See p. 172.


An unknown plant. The reading is doubtful.


I.e. damana, the flower Artemisia Indica, commonly called Donā.


In the Pali texts his parents are Uttara and Uttarā.


Or “conviction,” abhisamaya (Pali id.) “insight into, comprehension, realisation,” etc. See Pali Dictionary and Kvu. trsl. 381 f.


Lacuna. Cf. Budv. IV.


Sic for Sundara.


Possibly an echo of the tradition preserved in the Pali texts, where this was the name of Maṅgala’s father. He is called a “layman” (gṛhapati) as he could not be called a cakravartin so soon after the mention of another, although his retinue is that of a universal king, not that of a layman. This reference to the Pali texts solves the difficulty caused by the name better than Senart’s suggestion in his notes on this passage, namely, that the passage is an interpolation which grew out of a gloss giving “Uttara” as a synonym for Sundara.


So in the Pali tradition, Kolita and Upatiṣya being the personal names of Mahā-Maudgalyāyana and Śāriputra, respectively. Similarly with regard to Ānanda (below).


Aśvattha (Pali assattha), usually, though doubtfully, explained as aśva-stha, “where the horse stands.” The Ficus religiosa.


Samṣkārā. See p. 99.


Reading nanu riktā on the analogy of Bu. II. 219 (p. 18) (sabbaṃ samantarahitaṃ nanu rittā sabbasaṅkhārā) for anuriktā of the text. The emendation seems to be justified, also, by the reading of one MS. which has °tītān anuriktā for the °tītā anuriktā of the text.

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