by J. J. Jones | 1949 | 305,330 words | ISBN-10: 086013041X
This page describes birth of gotama which is Chapter I 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..
Bodhisattvas are born in one of two classes of families, either a noble or a brāhman family. When the nobles dominate the earth, the Bodhisattvas are born in a noble family. When the brāhmans dominate the earth, they are born in a brāhman family. And, monks, whatever family a Bodhisattva is born in is endowed with sixty qualities. What sixty? That family is distinguished. It has nothing to do with what is trivial. It is of high birth and lineage, with a long and distinguished ancestry. It is rich in women and in men. It is not avaricious, and is without defect, baseness or meanness. It is wise and virtuous; it does not seek honour, but makes use of its wealth. It is steadfast in friendship, grateful and devout. Its conduct is not motived by favouritism, malice, folly or fear. It is irreproachable and hospitable. It is manly minded, steadfastly, nobly and superbly heroic. It honours shrines, devas and old friends. It is zealous in duty and in charity. It enjoys continuity, is renowned, and of good repute among devas. It is foremost, (2) supreme, pre-eminent among families, and has ascendancy over other families. It wields great power, and has a large, tireless, faithful and loyal retinue. It respects mothers and fathers, recluses, brāhmans and nobles. It is rich in wealth, treasures and granaries, in elephants, horses, goats and sheep, in female and male slaves, and in men servants. It is inviolable by strangers, rivals and foes. Whatever family a Bodhisattva is born in is endowed with these sixty qualities. All those beings who are reborn in such a family come to have the ‘Great Compassion’.
Then, when it was time for the Bodhisattva to depart from Tuṣita he made his great preparation. Thousands of devas, including the Cāturmahārājika devas, and all the Kāmāvacara devas, gathered together in Tuṣita at the time of the Bodhisattva’s departure. Bimbisāra was the first to be spoken to, and he was thus bidden, “Be reborn in Rājagṛha. As you have been trained in the Discipline, the great multitude will then take to the way of it.” Similarly, the merchant Abhaya and other wealthy laymen and brāhmans quickly rose up to depart from Tuṣita.
Next Udayana, the king of the Vatsas, was thus bidden, “Be reborn in Kauśambī. As you have been trained in the Discipline, the great multitude will take to the way of it.” Similarly, the layman Ghoṣila and other wealthy nobles and brāhmans were bidden. In this way thousands of devas accompanied the Exalted One as he passed on into his new birth, and were reborn in the sixteen great provinces of Jambudvīpa, in the families of wealthy nobles, brāhmans and laymen. They said to one another, “Without a doubt, since you are trained in the great Discipline, the great multitude also will take to the way of it.”
The Bodhisattva considered the matter of the place in which he should be reborn. “This king Śuddhodana,” thought he, “is worthy to be my father.” He then sought a mother who should be gracious, of good birth, pure of body, tender of passion, and short-lived, of whose span of life there remained only seven nights and ten months.
(3) The mothers of all Bodhisattvas die on the last of the seven days following their delivery of the Supreme of Men. Now what is the reason why mothers of an Omniscient One should die so soon after giving birth to the Best of Men?
While he is still dwelling in Tuṣita the Bodhisattva makes this his care as he searches for a mother whose karma is good.
“I will descend” says he, “into the womb of a woman who has only seven nights and ten months of her life remaining.”
And why so? “Because,” says he, “it is not fitting that she who bears a Peerless One like me should afterwards indulge in love.”
The Exalted One, indeed, at all times proclaims the depravity of sensual desires. Should then the mother of the Saviour of the world indulge in the pleasures of sense?
(To take an illustration from) the jewel-caskets which are found in the palaces of princes, the Best of Men is the jewel, his mother the casket.
While he seeks a mother who was to be short-lived on earth, the Bodhisattva sees in Kapilavastu the chief queen of Śuddhodana. And she was gracious, of good birth, pure of body, tender of passion, and short-lived; for of the span of her life only seven nights and ten months remained. Then the Bodhisattva thought to himself, “She is worthy to be my mother.”
As he contemplates the world, in Śuddhodana’s court (4) he beholds Māyā, a woman like the consort of an immortal, radiant as the lightning’s flash.
Observing in her his mother, he said to the immortals, “I am passing hence. For the last time I take up my abode in a woman’s womb for the sake of devas and men.”
The deva host, arrayed in fine jewels, raised their joined hands and spoke to him, saying, “O Man Supreme, whose beauty is sublime, may thy vow prosper.
“We, too, for the world’s sake, and to do thee honour, O Blameless One, will renounce the sweet enjoyment of sensual pleasures, and go and dwell in the world of men.” Exultantly they poured down from the sky a shower of the bright flowers of the coral-tree, and praised him in sweet words: “How marvellous it is,” said they, “that thou dost not desire the abodes of the immortals, where sweet peace reigns and where is no tribulation nor pain, and dost not crave for the pleasures of sense.
“How then can we be other than loth to part from thee, O Master of all that is. Thou, moreover, O Lotus-eyed One, will become the bourne of men and devas.”
Thus, at the time and on the occasion of the departure of him whose eyes were bright like the hundred-petalled lotus, did the glad hosts of devas shout through the ten quarters of the world.
Such was the talk in the city of Tusita whilst the peerless Māyā, Śuddhodana’s chief queen, went up to the king and said to him—
“Adorned with jewels, wearing my choicest raiment, and attended by my friends, I wish to spend the night away from you who are the joy of the Śākyans.
“O king, I would go up to the highest part of Dhṛtarāśtra’s fair palace, to lie abed there in the lotus-like pure abode.”
Pleased with the charming speech of his queen, King Śuddhodana with joyful intent addressed his courtiers, saying,
“Quickly let me know where Dhṛtarāśtra is. Have it wreathed in fair flowers, and strewn with heaps of flowers, that it be like a deva’s abode in heaven.
The king’s orders were carried out, and when all had been made ready his courtiers approached the king and said to him!
“May our great protector protect the race of men for a full thousand years yet! All is ready. The noble mansion stands resplendent, and will give you a thrill of joy.”
Then Māyā, like the consort of an immortal, rose up from her lovely couch (6) and said to the king just as the sun had set, “I will cultivate harmlessness towards living things, and the chaste life. I will abstain from theft, intoxication and frivolous speech.
“I will, my lord, refrain from unkindly speech and from slander. I will, O king, refrain from abusive speech. This is my resolve.
“I will not nurse envy of the pleasures of others, nor cause injury to living things. And I will abjure false beliefs.
“I will, O king, follow these eleven rules of moral conduct. All this night has this resolve been stirring in me.
“Do not then, I pray you, O king, desire me with thoughts of sensual delights. See to it that you be guiltless of offence against me who would observe chastity.”
The king replied, “I shall have all your wishes fulfilled. Be at ease, you who have entered upon a noble life. I and my whole realm are at your command.”
She forthwith took all her thousand maidens, went up to the fair mansion, and lay down, her dear wish fulfilled.
And then on that bed of the colour of the snow-white lotus she whiled away the time in silence, contentedly calm and self-controlled.
She laid down her beautiful body on its right side, and she lay clinging to the bed as the flowering creeper clings to a tree.
Then, espying the queen on her bed, beautiful as a celestial maiden, throngs of devas came down from their home in Tuṣita and alighted on the terrace.
(7) All these immortals ecstatically bowing their heads and raising their joined hands, lauded the virtuous Māyā, the Conqueror’s mother, as she lay on the bed.
Then in great excitement a large throng of deva-maidens carrying fair garlands came, eager to see the Conqueror’s mother, and alighted on the terrace.
When they had come and seen Māyā on her bed in beauty that dazzled like the lightning’s flash, they were filled with great joy and happiness, and showered on her the flowers from heaven.
Having stood awhile in contemplation of such a wondrous and lovely, albeit human form, they said among themselves, “There is no one like her to be found even among the wives of the devas.
“Ah! dear friends, observe the loveliness of this woman. How befitting a Conqueror’s mother it is! As she lies on her bed she is radiant, alluring, and gleaming as with the sheen of gold.
“She will bear a Great Man who takes exceeding delight in charity, self-control and morality, who makes an end of all the āśravas, and who is free from passion. What more can you want, O queen?
“O woman, whose belly, with its bright streak of downy hair, curves like the palm of the hand, of you will be born he whose thought is boundless, who is ever undefiled, unsullied by what is foul.
“Rich virtue beyond compare has in a long course of time been acquired by this woman, who will bear him whose worth is illimitable and who is strong with the merit gained during a long time.
“You are a worthy woman, supreme among women. And your son will be the Pre-eminent of Men, who has abandoned lust and is rid of passion. What more can you want, O queen?”
Then Rākṣasas of various shapes were thus commanded: “Ye wielders of brave weapons, quickly take up positions in all quarters of the sky, and clear all its spaces of obstacles.”
And next the numerous band of the Gandharvas, comely of form, with shining bows, stood to guard him, whose mind is pure, at the moment of his descent.
The Four Lords of the world, too, stood in the air along with their retinues. “For to-day,” said they, “the Exalted One is coming down to earth to bring welfare, happiness and prosperity to the world”
Along with the Three-and-Thirty devas their chief, the bearer of the wheel, stood in the air, saying, “Soon the Exalted One in his yearning for the utmost happiness of the world will make his last descent”
A great host of devas, raising their joined hands and bowing at Māyā’s feet, looked out for the coming of the Conqueror from Tuṣita and uttered sweet words, saying,
“O thou who art strong with the merit won by purification, now is it time for thee to enter upon thy last existence. Thy mother is ready. Now have pity upon afflicted mankind” “Lo, I depart.” So did the Exalted One speak out and utter the happy word. And at that very moment the Conqueror’s mother saw in a dream him who had won maturity of fruition,
Entering her body in the form of a noble elephant, light of step, flawless of limb, gleaming like snow-white silver, with six tusks, a gracefully waving trunk and a crimson head.
Bodhisattvas do not descend into their mothers’ womb during the dark fortnight, but on the night of the full moon in the month Pauṣa. (9) Bodhisattvas enter the womb of a mother who observes the fasts, who is outstanding among women, who is joyful, distinguished, holding no intercourse with what is mean, who is gracious, pure of body, and tender of passion, is of good birth and family, comely, beautiful, renowned, tall and well-proportioned and accomplished, and who is in the prime of life, learned, wise, mindful, self-possessed, in all ways right-minded and perfect—the very best of women.
A radiance was shed by the Bodhisattva that illumined a whole Buddha-field. Then one deva asks another:
And that deva replies:
“The radiance is shed as a greeting by the liberating, sinless glory of those who everywhere succour men caught in the toils of rebirth (saṃsāra) and overcome by intoxication.”
The Bodhisattva said:
“Leave your cities, ye immortals. Verily, this is not the time for their delights. Rather is it the time to rive the strongholds of old age and death with the blows of knowledge.”
The Bodhisattva entered his mother’s womb, thoughtful, self-possessed and right-minded.
The lion-hearted man, roaring a lion’s roar, when it is the time and the occasion for him to pass away departs instantly, and re-appears in the home of a king.
(10) Who lights up all Tuṣita with lovely radiance, and now leaves the cities of the devas, him, the unsurpassed Conqueror, do I extol.
This incomparable Light of the World illumines with his beauty the whole world, including Brahmā’s world and all the race of men, brāhmans and recluses.
Behold this wonder and this marvel, that the powerful Master, mindful and self-possessed, has come down into his mother’s womb,
That the Very Best of Men, bearing the marks of excellence, mindful and self-possessed has taken his place in his mother’s womb.
As soon as the Bodhisattva had descended, this great earth trembled, shook and quaked violently six times. There was
something thrilling in this quaking, something gleeful, gladdening, admirable, cheerful, assuring, graceful, joyful and serene, causing no injury nor fear. For while the earth quaked it destroyed no life whatever, whether animal or plant.
Then this earth bounded by ocean and Mount Meru quaked six times. And the worlds were made bright and lovely by the splendour of him who dispels the great darkness.
All the Nāga kings and lords eagerly gathered together to mount watch and ward.
(11) Śakra, also, lord of devas, and the devas Suyāma, Santuṣita and Sunirmita, the deva Vaśavartin, Great Brahmā, and the Śuddhāvāsa devas eagerly hurried to mount watch and ward over the Bodhisattva when he had entered his mother’s womb.
The city of Kapilavastu is become the chief of cities, like a city of the devas. It is all radiant with the hosts of immortals who enter it and whose coming is swift as thought.
Behind them thousands of deva chiefs with spotless crests take up their stations in great numbers to guard him whose worth is great.
Behind these deva hosts again, A suras, throngs of fork-tongued A suras, Yakṣas of strange forms, and hordes of Rākṣasas take their places.
In this way the air, thronged by hundreds of thousands of immortals, was glorified and utterly purified, for so great was the virtue stored up by the Benefactor.
When the mighty and mindful one passed away from his abode in Tuṣita, taking on the form of an elephant of the colour of a snow-white boar,
Mindful, self-possessed and virtuous he descended into his mother’s womb as she lay abed high up in the palace, fasting and clothed in pure raiment.
(12) At break of day she said to her gracious spouse, “Noble king (in my dream I saw) a white and lordly elephant come down into my womb.”
When the king heard this he summoned the diviners and bade them all declare the full portent of this dream.
The diviners said in reply to the king, “He who bears the thirty-two marks has come down into the queen’s womb,
“O king, you should rejoice because of him who has appeared in your family. O sovereign of earth, the heroic child in the womb is the peerless Great Being.
“According to what I myself have learnt from the teachers of old, one of two alternative careers lies before him, O valiant king.
“If he remains in the world, he will become a mighty lord, possessing treasures, powerful, always attended by victory, and with a hundred thousand kings in his train.
“But if he embraces the religious life and renounces the sovereignty of the four continents, he will become a self-guiding Buddha, the guide of men and devas.”
The Śākyan lady told her dream to her gracious spouse. “I saw,” said she, “a white and lordly elephant come down and enter my womb.”
When the king heard this he assembled the diviners and said to them, “Do you all declare the full portent of this dream.”
The diviners said in reply to the king, “He who bears the thirty-two marks has come down into the queen’s womb.
“If on the other hand, he continues to dwell at home he will conquer the whole earth. (13) He will have as sons a thousand Suras, such heroes will they be.
“But if he renounces his domain, which is so full of inexhaustible mines of wealth, and takes up the religious life, he will become a Buddha, all-knowing and all-seeing.”
Great Brahmā said:
“The woman who in her dream has seen the sun from the sky enter her womb will give birth to one who is the woman’s jewel, her husband’s treasure. He will be a universal king.
“The woman who in her dream has seen the moon from the sky enter her womb will give birth to a son who is both man and deva. He will be a mighty universal king.
“The woman who in her dream has seen the sun from the sky enter her womb will give birth to one who bears the marks of excellence. He will be a mighty universal king.
“The woman who in her dream has seen a white elephant enter her womb will give birth to a being as select as the elephant is among animals. He will be a Buddha who knows the Good and the True.”
The queen is asked, “Whom do you bear?” And she replies, “A universal king.”
(14) “I bear a universal ruler, a choice man, a valiant king, who illumines my womb with his golden beauty, and is endowed with the marks of excellence.”
But the devas in the sky acclaimed him with the title of “Exalted One,” saying, “He will become a Buddha, not a universal king.” And Great Brahmā recited this verse:
“You bear one who is as an elephant among men, the best of treasures, the destroyer of the force and violence of intoxication, the dispeller of dark and murky folly, the storehouse of good qualities, the possessor of boundless wealth, a royal seer, whose chariot wheel knows no obstacle, whose radiance is deathless.”
The queen replied:
“As passion and malice no longer have sway over me who have conceived the seed of the king of men, there is no doubt he will be of such splendour as you say.”
Again, when the Bodhisattva has entered his mother’s womb, his mother is comfortable whether she moves, stands, sits or lies down, because of the power of the Bodhisattva. No weapon can pierce her body, nor can poison, fire or sword prevail against her, because of the power of the Bodhisattva. Deva maidens attend to her with preparations made in heaven for cleaning and massaging the body. She is clothed in celestial raiment and adorned with celestial jewels, because of the power of the Bodhisattva. She obtains celestial perfumes, garlands, cosmetics and incenses, because of the power of the Bodhisattva.
Again, Mahā-Maudgalyāyana, (15) when the Bodhisattva has entered his mother’s womb, owing to his power all her escort deem her worthy of perfect obedience and loyalty, and offer her their services. The Bodhisattva is able to see his mother. Nothing, not even a bird, passes over her. She becomes sound and healthy. She enjoys a digestive heat that is equable, being neither too cold nor too hot and thus ensuring a regular digestion. She receives the choicest solid and soft food of the best and most superlative flavour. She becomes rid of passion and lives an unimpaired, flawless, unspotted, untarnished and absolutely pure and chaste life. In the heart of this preeminent woman no passion arises for any man, not even for King Śuddhodana. She lives in accordance with the five moral precepts, observing them to the full.
Again, when the Bodhisattva has entered his mother’s womb all Nāga kings and lords, whether born of eggs or from the womb, or from moisture, or spontaneously, enter her abode and sprinkle her with celestial sandal-wood powder, with celestial powder of tamāla leaves, with celestial aloe-wood powder, with celestial keśara powder and celestial flowers. They laud her with perfect praise, with consummate praise. And when they have sprinkled her with celestial sandal-wood powder, they sprinkle her with celestial aloe-wood powder, keśara powder and tamāla powder. And when they have sprinkled her with showers of celestial blossoms and (16) lauded her with perfect and consummate praise, they thrice salute the Bodhisattva’s mother from the right and go their way. (And all this is) through the power of the Bodhisattva.
Again, when the Bodhisattva has entered his mother’s womb all the Suparṇa kings and lords, the Caturmahārājika devas, the Trāyastriṃśa devas, the Yāma devas, the Tuṣita devas, the Nirmāṇarati devas, the Paranirmitavaśavartin devas, and the Brahmā devas enter her abode and sprinkle her with celestial powder of the sandal-wood and the aloe-wood. They sprinkle her with celestial powder of tamāla leaves, with celestial showers of blossoms, and laud her with perfect, consummate and absolutely pure praise. Then saluting her thrice from the right they go their way. (All this is) through the power of the Bodhisattva.
Again, when the Bodhisattva has entered his mother’s womb he does not occupy a position that is either too high or too low. He does not lie on his face, nor on his back, nor on his left side, nor squatting on his heels. But he sits in his mother’s right side with his legs crossed. He is not polluted by bile, phlegm, blood or any other foul matter, but remains clean. For while the Bodhisattva is in his mother’s womb he has his body rubbed with perfumes and washed clean. He is able to see his mother, while she in her turn can see the Bodhisattva in her womb like a body of pure gold and is enraptured at the sight.
Just as though a gem of beryl in a crystal casket were placed in her curving lap, so does his mother see the Bodhisattva like a body of pure gold illumining her womb.
(17) Hosts of devas come by night and by day to inquire after his welfare. And the Bodhisattva is pleased at their doing this, and greets them by raising his right hand, but without hurting his mother. Neither the devas, nor the Nāgas nor the Yakṣas, nor the Māruts, nor the Rākṣasas, nor the Piśācas leave him by day or night. Nor is there any talk of the affections there, nor of sensual pleasures, nor any other trivial talk. But they speak of nothing other than the Bodhisattva’s beauty, his comeliness, his being, his might, his complexion, his glory and his root of virtue. Their worship of the Bodhisattva in his mother’s womb does not cease. Celestial musical instruments are played, celestial scents of aloe-wood are wafted and celestial flowers and powders rain down. And thousands of Apsarases sing and dance around. The Bodhisattva’s mother laughs and talks with thousands of deva maidens. And when she falls asleep the deva maidens briskly fan her with garlands of the coral-tree. (All this is) through the power of the Bodhisattva.
Such then is this perfect descent into the womb, unsurpassed in the great system of three-thousand worlds.
And now behold another marvel, the marvel of the talk, begetting the most perfect ecstasy, that there was among that large concourse of devas.
Theirs was no talk of sensual delight, nor of Apsarases, nor of song, nor of instrumental music, nor of eating and drinking.
Theirs was no talk of jewels, nor of dress. No talk of
driving or of pleasure-gardens occurred to their minds. “Oh! Good is the inimitable light of the Leader who is strong through his merit. It outshines the worlds of men and devas.” Such is the clear-toned talk that goes on there.
(18) “Oh! Good is the conception that befits the karma of him who has won perfection.” Such is the varied talk that goes on in that gathering.
With these pure psalms of acclamation for him whose wisdom is excellent they while away the time. Such is the talk that goes on in that gathering.
And so the devas rejoice as they relate these varied themes, telling of his beauty, his complexion, his might, his excellence and his valiant conduct.
The mothers of all Bodhisattvas are delivered when the tenth month is completed.
Let clouds charged with the fragrance of aloe-wood quickly descend from the sky to shade Lumbinī’s grove, so that it be full of the aroma of exquisite powders.
Adorn each fair pathway with jute and wool and silken cloth, that they be like the kalpavṛkṣa trees of the lord of devas in heaven.
Devas and deva maidens bearing scented garlands come to Lumbinī’s grove.
(19) Wearing earrings of crystal gems and resplendent garments, and carrying fragrant garlands they come floating down the pathways of the sky.
Some carry baskets full of the flowers of the coral-tree; others baskets full of yellow sandal-wood flowers, or, again, of woven stuff.
With joy in their hearts the Apsarases, bearing garlands of land and water flowers, and gems and jewels, turn their faces towards Jambudvīpa.
Deva maidens come floating through the air, carrying full eighty-four thousand sunshades of gold and jewels.
The air, with hundreds of pennants of woven cloth flying high, is filled as though with pinnacles bright with crystal and gems and coral.
Delighted serpent-lords scatter clouds of sweet-smelling vapour in the air. And there were hundreds of other marvels besides.
When Māyā, the Conqueror’s mother, surrounded by her friends, enters that fair grove, she rides on in her gay chariot, a queen like the consort of an immortal, knowing the rule of joy.
She, coming to it in play, leant with her arm on a branch of the wavy-leafed fig-tree, and playfully stretched herself at the moment of giving birth to the Glorious One.
Then ninety thousand deva maidens quickly flocked thither, and raising their joined hands, they addressed Māyā with devotion in their hearts.
(20) “To-day, O queen, you will give birth to him who crushes old age and disease, a noble youth of immortal stock, honoured and beloved in heaven and on earth, a benefactor of devas and men.
“Do not give way to anxiety, for we shall render tendance to you. Only tell us what is to be done, and lo! it is all done.”
Then the Four Great Lords of the world with their thick celestial tresses of hair, attended by their retinues, quickly foregathered there, and drew near to the queen from the right.
And all the deva hosts hovering in the air as they attended Māyā, carrying fragrant garlands in their hands, and with their attendant escorts, presented a bright array.
Again, a Bodhisattva’s mother is not delivered as she lies or sits down, as other women are, but in a standing position. And the Bodhisattva, mindful and thoughtful, issues from his mother’s right side without doing her any harm.
For the Supreme of Men are born from their mother’s right side; it is here that all the valiant men abide when in their mother’s womb.
Why is not that side of the Conqueror’s mother rent as she gives birth to the Best of Men, and why does no pain ensue?
Tired with his stay in the womb, the Bodhisattva takes seven strides.
As soon as he is born he takes seven strides over the earth, surveys the regions of it and laughs a loud laugh.
(21) Now listen to what the tradition says as to why he takes seven strides and not eight or six.
When the Sage, the benefactor of the whole world, was tired with his stay in the womb, he stepped forth eagerly, as it was his last sojourn there.
When he had taken his seven strides a throng of devas came floating down, and the Sage was taken up by the Lords of the world in their arms.
Then there fell a drizzling rain of celestial blossoms mingled with the powder of the coral-tree and thick with that of the celestial sandal-wood.
For a long time the exultant devas diffused the most divine incense to grace the splendour of the supremely Intelligent One.
I shall here tell, too, the tradition, the edifying doctrine as to why the Peerless Man surveys the regions of the world.
He finds not among beings, whether devas or men, one whose birth was like his, whose conception was like his.
As shining gold is the side of the Conqueror’s mother of whom the Omniscient One is born into his last existence.
As soon as he was born this was the thought that occurred to the supremely Eloquent One: “Is there anyone who is my equal in intelligence?
“Are there any who are irked by the course of recurrent birth (saṃsāra) as I am?” It is for this purpose, to have this doubt resolved, that the Kinsman of the Sun scans all the regions of the world.
Then the Prince of Speakers, surveying the regions, espies (22) thousands of koṭis of devas, and this is why he laughs.
As soon as he is born the devas of Māra’s world say to him, “Thou wilt become a wealthy universal king over the four continents
But he laughs at that, and says, “You do not know me for what I am. For I shall become the Supreme of Men, all-knowing and all-seeing
And teachers are agreed upon this eventuality, for thus was the teaching of the lion-hearted men well proclaimed.
And as he walked along a fan and a sunshade of their own accord followed him, lest gadflies and gnats should alight on the body of the Omniscient One.
As soon as the Sugata was born devas first received the Conqueror, and afterwards men bore the Peerless One in their arms.
The devas welcomed the Sugata who displayed the thirty-two marks of excellence, (23) and afterwards men bore the Peerless One in their arms.
The lights of men were dimmed, because the world was bathed in radiance as soon as the Sugata, the torch-bearer of men and devas, was born.
As soon as the Sugata was born his folk ran in quest of water. And lo! wells full of water, brimming overflowed right before their eyes.
Two pitchers of water appeared, one of cold, the other of warm water, wherewith they bathed the golden body of the Sugata.
Again, because of the Bodhisattva’s power, immediately after the Sugata was born, the mother of the Bodhisattva was without hurt or scar. The womb of the Bodhisattva’s mother was unscathed and at ease.
Again, immediately after the Bodhisattva was born there appeared amid the four million continents a twig of the holy fig-tree, the very finest of earth’s produce. In the middle of the island there appeared, through the Bodhisattva’s power, a forest of sandal-wood trees which became a source of delight and enjoyment to the Bodhisattva.
Then thousands of devas and thousands of Apsarases bearing fragrant garlands came to do honour to the Bodhisattva. One deva asks another, “Whither do you go?” And the other replies:
“She, the consort of the king, is about to give birth to that peerless offspring who is bright like the flower of the blossoming lotus. Here on earth he will win the highest good, overcoming Māra and his power. It is to this hero that I repair.
(24) “His body is untouched by the impurities of the womb, even like the exquisite lotus that is born in the mud of pools. Beautiful as the newly risen sun he excels the immortals in Brahmā’s heaven
Then as soon as he was born in a family of the Śākyans, the Wise One took seven mighty strides. Scanning the regions of the world he laughed aloud, and said, “This, at length, is my very last existence
And many devas held up in the sky a glittering sunshade inimitably studded with gems and pearls and outshining all others in splendour, and waved garlands of the coral-tree.
They held up in the sky a fair and golden sunshade gleaming like a shell in the sunlight, whilst they waved cunningly-fashioned fans in their hands as they fanned the Conqueror.
Two pitchers of water speedily appeared in the sky, one fragrant, pleasantly warm, agreeable and beneficial to men, the other healthful, invigorating and icy-cold.
Then on Meru’s summit devas of various kinds took off their robes that were scented with all sorts of perfumes, and, standing in long ranks on all sides, (25) vigorously waved them. Six times did they make the firm earth quake.
Devas in their mansions, resplendent in gold and silver and gems, to the sound of musical instruments looked on the Conqueror’s auspicious birth. They lit up the sky with its moon, sun and stars.
“This is the Great Seer who, having crossed the great ocean of life through the worlds of devas, Nāgas and Yakṣas, will attain to that one region wherein is peace.” Thus did the enraptured devas proclaim of him.
Immediately after the Bodhisattva was born five-hundred Sākyan young men with Sundarananda at their head, five-hundred maidens with Yaśodharā at their head, five-hundred men-servants with Chandaka at their head, five-hundred horses with Kaṇṭhaka at their head, five-hundred elephants with the young elephant Candana at their head, and five-hundred stores of treasure appeared. Five-hundred kings sent messengers to greet him.
Then King Śuddhodana gave orders, saying, “Now take the queen hence”. In what will the Bodhisattva be conveyed? In a jewelled palanquin made by the deva Viśvakarma. Who will bear this palanquin? The Four Great Lords are standing by, and they say, “We will carry (26) the elect of beings The Bodhisattva climbs into the palanquin along with Māyā, his mother. Śakra, the lord of devas, and Great Brahmā form an escort.
King Śuddhodana gave orders to his ministers, saying, “Now lead the child, who is the strength of the Śākyans, to the temple to worship at the feet of the goddess Abhayā”. In obedience to the king’s command his ministers do so, saying, “We shall make him bow his head at the feet of the goddess Abhayā But when they came into the presence of the goddess it was his feet (and not his head) that the young child put forward, while the goddess Abhayā bowed her own head instead at the child’s feet.
Against his will the Hero, the great Saviour of the world, the Teacher of kings entered the shrine. But when they would have him salute the goddess with his head, it was his feet that he put forward.
Then the goddess Abhayā said, “It is not fitting that he should worship me. If he should make obeisance to anyone, that one’s head would assuredly be split in seven.”
(27) When the child had entered the royal palace, the king bade his priest to fetch at once the wise men who were skilled in the rules and significance of signs.
Rid of conceit and pride and arrogance eight-thousand Maheśvaras, with their joined hands raised, approached him who was newly-born and revered of devas and men.
Arrayed in pure garments and robes they stood quietly at the door of the king’s palace, and addressed the door-keeper in a tone gentle as the cuckoo’s, saying,
“Go in to Śuddhodana and say to him, ‘Here are eight-thousand men who know the rules and significance of signs, and they would enter, if it is your pleasure
“So be it,” said the door-keeper in obedience to them, and he went into the palace. Raising his joined hands, he joyfully addressed the lord of earth, saying,
“O king, peerless in excellence, whose glory is ablaze, smiter of your foes, may you rule your realm a long time yet. Men like the immortals stand at your gates and crave admittance.
“Because of their full clear eyes, their soft voices, their tread like that of elephant in rut, doubt arises in me whether these be men and not sons of the immortals.
“As they walk about the dust of the earth does not soil their noble feet. No footprints of theirs are seen on the ground—this, too, is a marvel.
“Stately and quiet are their gestures, noble their bearing, and controlled the range of their vision. They give great delight to all who behold them.
(28) “And here is another marvellous thing. No shadows are seen cast by their bodies, and no accompanying noise is heard as they move along.
“O king, without a doubt they are come to view your noble son. You should joyfully see and greet these devas, who were not born of the womb.
“They carry fair and fragrant garlands in their hands. Their gestures are graceful, and their persons are charming and lit up with glory. Without a doubt these are exalted devas.”
When Śuddhodana heard these words his body thrilled with joy, and he replied, “To be sure, let them with all speed enter within this noble palace.
“And why? Because such are not the forms of ordinary men. Humans do not have such majesty as you say these persons have.”
Then the door-keeper returned to the Maheśvaras, and, bowing with joined hands uplifted, joyfully and cheerfully did them obeisance, and said,
“His majesty is pleased, sirs, that you should at his behest enter the valiant king’s palace that is fit to be a stronghold of the devas.”
When they heard this the eight-thousand Maheśvaras entered the royal palace of the head of his unconquered race.
And Śuddhodana, a stately and well-built figure, seeing the Maheśvaras when they were still some way off, rose up with his court to meet them.
The valiant king addressed them, saying, “I hid you all a hearty welcome. For we are pleased with your appearance, your calm, your self-control, and your strength.
(29) “Here are our most honourable seats. Pray be seated at once, sirs, to give pleasure to us.”
Then they who were rid of conceit, pride and arrogance, and were blameless in deed, sat down on these seats the feet of which were bright and glittering with many a gem.
After waiting a while one of them addressed the king, saying, “Let your majesty hear what the cause of our coming hither is.
“A son is born to you, O king, who is wholly faultless in body and who is judged fair by all the world and possesses to perfection the marks of excellence.
“For we, skilled in the science of signs, can recognise the marks of virtue and of vice. If it is not hard for you, we would see him who bears the marks of a Great Man.”
The king replied, “Come, see my son, whose good name is secure, who brings joy to devas and men, and who possesses the marks of excellence to perfection.”
Then they said to the king, “Great profit have you well
gained, O mighty king, in that there has been born in your family a Great Man who possesses the thirty-two marks. These are—
He has feet with level tread.
He has designs of wheels on the soles of his feet.
He has long toes and fingers.
He has broad and projecting heels.
He has sharply arched feet.
(30) His legs are like the antelope’s.
His body is divinely straight.
He can touch his knees with his hands when standing erect. His male organ is encased in a sheath.
His body is proportioned like the banyan-tree.
His hands and feet are soft and tender.
His hands and feet are webbed.
His body is perfectly formed.
The down on his body grows in single hairs, one to each pore. The down on his body grows straight upwards.
He has a smooth skin.
He has a [ ] skin.
He has the gait of a swan.
There is no hollow between his shoulder-blades.
His body has the seven convex surfaces.
He has an excellent sense of taste.
His skin is the colour of gold.
He has the bust of a lion.
He has regular teeth.
His eye-teeth are perfectly white.
His bust is equally rounded.
His tongue is long and slender.
His voice is like that of Brahmā.
His eyes are blue.
His eyelashes are like a cow’s.
Between his eyebrows he has a hairy mole.
His head is shaped like a royal turban.
Such is the Saviour with the thirty-two marks of excellence.
Footnotes and references:
See Vol. i, p. 4, n. 11.
Akṣudrāvacara. Vol. 1, p. 197 (text) has akṣudrāvakāśa.
Anavadyabhīru, for avadyabhīru of Vol. 1, p. 198 (text). The latter compound means “fearful of what is blameworthy.” Formally, the former should mean the exact opposite “fearful of what is not blameworthy,” but, if the reading is correct, it must be taken as a direct negative of the latter compound as a whole, an-avadyabhīru, which can be interpreted to mean “not (having cause to) fear anything blameworthy,” i.e. not guilty of any blameable act.
Sthūlabhikṣa. See Vol. 1, p. 156, n. 3.
Ātmapūrvāpara in the text. Vol. 1, p. 198, (text) however, has labdhapūrvāpara. Senart, therefore, suggests the emendation of ātma into ātta (ā-dā), which would give the same sense exactly as labdha. For the interpretation, see Vol. I, p. 156, n. 4.
Apradharṣya. Cf. duṣpradharṣya of Vol. I, p. 198 (text). The P.E.D., ṣ.v. appadhaṃsa, equates this with Sk. apradhvaṃsa, “not to be destroyed,” citing J. 4. 344, where the variant reading is suppadhaṃsa. The same dictionary, however, s.v. dhaṃsati, while relating this verb to Vedic dhvaṃsayati, “to fall to dust,” etc., and its causative dhaṃseti to Sk. dhvaṃsayati, adds that the causative is more likely the equivalent of Sk. dharṣayati “to infest, molest, etc.” The Mhvu. forms seem to support this latter suggestion.
In round number, of course.
See Vol. I, p. 157, n. 1.
See Vol. I, p. 25, n. 3.
See Vol. I, p. 126, n. 1.
I.e. Śreṇiya Bimbisāra. See Vol. I, p. 210, n. 1. Bimbisāra and the other persons named here, are, of course, devas still bearing the names they had when they were human beings on earth.
See Vol. I, p. 141. If the two are identical.
The Udena of the Pali texts, king at Kauśambī (Kosambī), the capital of the Vatsas (D.P.N.).
See Vol. I, p 7 n. 2; p. 157, n. 2.
See Vol. I, p. 113, etc.
See Vol. I, p. 4, n. 12.
See Vol. I, p. 157, n. 3.
See Vol. I, p. 1, n. 6, and index.
See Vol. I, p. 158, n. 1,
See Vol. I, p. 56, n. 1.
See Vol. I, p. 178, n. 2.
See Vol. I, p. 55, n. 3.
See Vol. I, p. 33, n. 8
See Vol. I, p. 98, n. 3.
Sahitam. See Vol. I, p. 115, n. 2.
See Vol. I, passim and index.
Here not the name of one of the “Four Great Kings” (see Vol. I, p. 25, n. 3) but of some place or palace otherwise unknown.
See Vol. I, p. 77, n. 2.
Literally “of four limbs or parts,” caturanginī, i.e. warriors on elephants, on horseback, in chariots, and on foot.
Manojñasaṃghāta. Cf. Vol. I, p. 159, n. 6.
Reading svakulam, as in Vol. 1, p. 201 (text), for sakuśalam of the text.
See Vol. I, p. 115, n. 3.
The locative mayi is here used as the object of pratikāṅkṣi, but the accusative, mām, in the corresponding passages in Vol. I, pp. 145, 202 (text). Probably the scribe accidentally copied mayi from the next line, where it recurs in a regular usage.
Antarato. See Vol. I, p. 116, n. 1.
Reading kanakamarīci, as in Vol. I, p. 203 (text), for kanakaīti, “stream of gold.”
Mahāpuruṣa. See Vol. I, p. 33, n. 1.
See Vol. I, p. 49, n. 2.
Ibid., p. 73, n. 5.
Ibid., p. 35, n. 4.
Ibid., p. 25, n. 1.
See Vol. I, p. 25, n. 3.
Ibid., n. 2.
The text has me “my” for se (see n. 5, p. 13) “her."
See Vol. I, p. 164, n. 1.
See Vol. I, p. 95, n. 3.
Ibid., p. 24, n. 2.
See Vol. I, p. 164, n. 1.
Ibid., p. 165, n. 3.
Ibid., p. 165, n. 4.
Ibid., p. 28, n. 4.
See Vol. I, p. 3, n. 5.
Maheśvaras. See Vol. 1, p. 178, n. 2.
Vigatamalamakhila. A rather irregular compound.
See Vol. I, p. 4, n. 7.
I.e. the Bodhisattva.
Reading vīrāsane for vīraśayane. See Vol. I, p. 164, n. 3.
Vaipañcika. See Vol. I, p. 164, n. 4.
A repetition of the above account taken from another source. Its fragmentariness is betrayed by the inconsequential punar “again”, “on the other hand.”
Etādṛśāṃ vīrāṃ. Senart suggests that it would be more natural to read etādṛśo vīro, nom-sg., in apposition to the subject.
Literally, “an elephant, the select (or elect) of beings,” gajosattvasāra,
Reading amararuci as in Vol. I, p. 211 (text), for samaruci; or, perhaps, asamaruci, “whose radiance is unequalled.”
Senart retains the form mātu: for the nom., which, he says, “n’ a rien d’ invraisemblable”.
Reading pariṣkārehi for pariśeṣehi of the text.
Inadvertently introduced here from Vol. I, p. 211 (text), where he is the recipient of the parallel account of the birth of Dīpaṃkara.
Se = asyā:
See Vol. I, p. 168, n. 1.
Reading sampūrṇosamādinnāni, as in Vol. I, p. 211 (text), for sapūrva-.
Cf. M. I. 73.
See Vol. I, p. 168, n. 6.
Ibid., p. 32, n. 3.
See Vol. I, p. 25, n. 2.
Ibid., p. 28, n. 1.
Ibid., n. 3.
Ibid., n. 4.
Utkuṭuka. See Vol. I, p. 169, n. 1.
Mārutas. This form of the name denotes the Mārutas, “gods of the winds” regarded as the children of Diti (M.W.). It occurs again on p. 381 (text), but the present passage seems to be the only place in the Mhvu. where they are mentioned along with demons or spirits like Nāgas, Yakṣas, etc. In Vol. I marutas is used at least twice as a synomym for devas. See p. 119, n. 2, and p. 179, n. 2.
See Vol. I, p. 74, n. 2.
See Vol. I, p. 27, n. 2.
See Vol. I, p. 171, n. 2.
Ibid., p. 301.
I.e., the Bodhisattva’s mother will be delivered as she clings to a branch of this tree. But elsewhere in the Mhvu. (Vol. I, p. 118) and even in the sequel of the present account, it was to a branch of the wavy-leafed fig-tree (plakṣa) that Māyā clung. J. 1. 52 has the same tradition as the present passage that the tree was the Sāl tree.
See Vol. I, p. 78, n. 1.
Reading salīlā for śarīrā, as in Vol. I, p. 215 (text).
Madajanana. See Vol. I, p. 171, n. 4.
Reading kṣipratn as in Vol. I, p. 215, (text) and in the MSS, The text has kṣiptam!
See Vol. I, p. 118, n. 1. Drumavaram, “fair tree,” as in Vol. I, p. 149 (text) is more suitable to the context than caṅkramavaram.
Śaṅgeriyas. See Vol. I, p. 172, n. 1.
See Vol. I, p. 172, n. 4.
Reading gaganam, as in Vol. I, p. 216, (text) for nagaram.
Reading citra, as in Vol, I, p. 216 (text), for pitta.
Divyapraveṇihasta. See Vol. I, p. 173, n. 3.
See Vol. I, p. I, n. 3.
Manomayena rūpena. See Vol. I, p. 174, n. 1.
But it is the fact and not the reason that is stressed in the sequel.
Artīyanti. See Vol. I, p. 174, n. 3, where ārttiyante should be corrected into arttīyante.
Cāreṇa. Vol. I, p. 219 (text) has pāśena, “by the snare.”
See Vol. I, p. 175, n. 1.
Vipākam. Vol. I, p. 220 (text) has viśeṣā, i.e. “distinguished teachers are agreed upon this (etam).”
A number of verses inserted from another source or tradition.
See n. 3, p. 116.
Avatiṣṭhe, cf. Pali potential tiṭṭhe. Vol. I, p. 220 (text) has avatiṣṭhet.
See Vol. I, p. 175, n. 3.
Reading sāmam for ca-asya, as in Vol. I, p. 220 (text). See Vol. I, p. 175, n. 4.
Literally, “relaxed,” “untied,” anonaddha from an-ava-nah. The corresponding term in Vol. I, p. 221 (text) is anārabdha, which Senart renders, “n’éprouve aucune fatigue.”
Literally “in the midst of the four hundred koṭis of continents,” caturṇāṃ dvīpakoṭiśatānāṃ madhye. This enumeration of continents seems to be unknown elsewhere.
Aśvattha. The Ficus religiosa.
This is a reminiscence of the story of the miraculously appearing island in the account of the birth of Dīpaṃkara. See Vol. I, p. 173, p. 176, n. 2, and p. 182, n. 16.
Apparently a set of verses from yet another account of the Buddha’s birth. They are also introduced into the account of the Buddha Dīpaṃkara’s birth. See Vol. I, p. 176.
Vimāna. See Vol. I, p. 26, n. 1.
Or Nanda, simply, son of Śuddhodana and Mahāprajāpatī, and, therefore, half-brother of Gotama.
Who became Gotama’s wife.
Gotama’s squire. See Vol. I, pp. 122 ff.
His horse. See Vol. I, ibid.
His elephant, which is not named in the Pali texts.
The Vedic creator or architect of the universe here becomes a deva famed for his handiwork.
See Vol. I, p. 177, n. 2.
Literally, “his feet appeared,” pādā prādurbhūtā.
See Vol. I, pp. 13, 20 1, and passim.
Utthāpanīyā gāthā. Senart cites B.R. s.v. utthāpanī ṛc, “beschliessender Vers.”
Reading naralañcaka for °lambaka. See Vol. I, p. 90, n. 3. The use of this epithet in the present context would seem to support the explanation suggested in the note referred to.
I.e. “successful in all things.”
See Vol. I, p. 178, n. 2.
I.e., the brāhmans, among whom the experts would normally be sought.
Praśāntadṛṣṭipathā for °yathā of the text. See Vol. I, p. 119, n. 3.
Bhavi sarveśām. The form bhavi is inexplicable, although Senart does not remark on it. The corresponding passage in Vol. I, p. 225 (text), has vas sarveśām, which would seem to suggest that bhavi hides some form (? contracted) of bhavantas, “you.” Two MSS. read bhava. As a verb bhavi could be construed as a 2nd aorist, 3rd sing., which might allow of some such rendering as “there has been a welcome to (you) all,” or, giving it a potential or optative force “Let there be a welcome.” But it seems better to put bhavi down to a scribal error, and to regard it as a truncated form inadvertently copied from the bhavatām directly below it in the next line.
Suvyapadeśakṣema. See Vol. I, p. 120, n. 2.
Vādicandra. See Vol. I, p. 180, n. 2.
See Vol. I, p. 56, n. 1; but here the word is a mere honorific title for these devas.
See Vol. I, p. 51, n. 2.
The mnemonic verses enumerating the “marks” are practically identical with those describing the “marks” of Dīpaṃkara in Vol. I, pp. 226-7 (text) and pp. 180-2 (translation), where notes and references are given.