The Mahavastu (great story)

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

This page describes gotama’s early wanderings which is Chapter XIX 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 XIX - Gotama’s early wanderings

(189) When the Bodhisattva had gone away, Chandaka turned back from the place Anomiya, and he and Kaṇṭhaka came to Kapilavastu. When King Śuddhodana heard that Chandaka had arrived bringing with him Kaṇṭhaka, the sunshade and the jewels, he ran out of his palace to the hall outside the gates, accompanied by his women. And Yaśodharā threw her arms around Kaṇṭhaka’s neck, wept, and said, “O Kaṇṭhaka, where have you taken the prince? What offence have I given you and Chandaka that you should take the prince away when I was sleeping blissfully? I and the sixty thousand women of the palace are bereaved.”

Chandaka replied, “What wrong have we done? For when the prince was leaving home I called out in a loud voice and Kaṇṭhaka neighed loudly, but there was none of you who woke up. Thousands of koṭis[1] of devas gathered in the air.

“The prince has been taken to a place called Anomiya, in the country of the Mallas, not far from the hermitage of the seer Vasiṣṭha. He gave his garments of Benares cloth to a hunter in exchange for a yellow garb. He himself cut off the lock of hair on the top of his head with a knife, and this lock of hair was taken[2] by Śakra, the lord of devas.

“Then the prince gave us[3] his jewels, and we returned. And thus did he enjoin me. ‘Greet my father for me,’ said he, ‘and my aunt and all my kinsfolk.’ And I shall come, when I have done my duty and fulfilled my mission.”

Yaśodharā, the sixty thousand women of the palace and the whole kingdom of the Śākyans wept and wailed, and all departed, each to his own home.

When Chandaka entered the royal palace, regal and choice food and drink were brought him. As for Kaṇṭhaka, sweetmeats mixed with honey were set before him, and other regal solid and soft food were heaped up before him. But Kaṇṭhaka did not eat them. (190) He remembered the Bodhisattva, and shed tears all the time. Some women of the palace with their regal and costly garments of cloth, silk and wool wiped Kaṇṭhaka’s tears. Others stroked his head, others his neck, others his back, others his shoulders, others his forelimbs, others his joints, others his tail, and others his hoofs. Some held morsels steeped in honey to his mouth, others fodder of various kinds, others dung,[4] others sweetmeats, others regal drinks in vessels of gold and silver studded with precious stones. But Kaṇṭhaka would not feed. He starved through grieving for the Bodhisattva, and died because he could not see him. When he died his body was honoured by King Śuddhodana with royal magnificence.

Immediately after death Kaṇṭhaka was reborn among the Trāyastriṃśa devas, becoming the son of the deva Śikhaṇḍi, and named Kaṇṭhaka. He was a deva of great might and power, and excelled all the other thousands who had been reborn before him as devas in the ten deva attributes of length of life, complexion, happiness, authority, retinue, form, voice, smell, taste and touch.[5]

When the Exalted One had set rolling the excellent wheel of dharma and was occupied with spreading his doctrine,[6] Mahā-Maudgalyāyana went on a visit to the world of devas. While he was there he saw the deva, Kaṇṭhaka, and having seen him he addressed him in verse.[7]

(191) As the moon on its fifteenth day, accompanied by its constellations, lights up all quarters, while the stars disappear from the sky,

So does this celestial home of thine in the city of the devas, flashing in its beauty, gleam like the sun.

Well-fashioned is the floor thereof, and bright with crystal and pearl and crimson gem, and no dust can be raised from it.

Thy pleasant terraces are of beryl, gold, crystal and silver, with upper rooms of graceful form.

Not far from the terraces are finely fashioned lotus-pools, with stairs of beryl strewn with golden sand.

On their banks grow stately trees, with branches shooting high, rising up from the sky towards Brahma’s citadel. Stirred by the wind, they sway in all directions.[8]

On their banks grow stately trees, with branches shooting high. All the four quarters are gay with flowers and resound to the sweet songs of birds.

Every part is covered with red and white and blue lotuses and is fragrant with the scent of various flowers.

Sixty Apsarases dance, each with a musical instrument,[9] (192) and as these celestial maidens dance in the grove a celestial sound is heard as from a flock of female birds.

Thou takest thy joy among heaven’s throng on a couch fitted with precious stones, its feet of gold, well made and well fashioned.

Resplendent as Brahmā art thou on this couch with its feet of gold and fitted with precious stones, as thou lookest out on the four quarters.

And as thou reclinest on this couch with its downy cushions, celestial maidens arrayed in finery fan thee with chowrie fans.

For thee do these crowds of Apsarases gaily decked in network of gold wave their arms,[10] dance and harmoniously sing.

Some of the Apsarases here sing and play on their instruments, and others dance to the accompaniment of the harmonious music.

Others, all over the place, make gentle noise with their hands and feet. From the hair of others are wafted divine scents.

This abode of thine is made beautiful by celestial maidens who are fairer than the lotus. Ah, it is an abode enshrined in gold and adorned by Apsarases.

What deed didst thou perform of yore in other lives, by the root of merit of which thou wast reborn in Trāyastriṃśa?

What deed didst thou perform in a former life as a human being (193) by the root of merit of which thou hast reaped this reward?

How didst thou win this mastery over life, this glory, might, and prosperity, and dost enjoy celestial company?

What fair deed didst thou perform in one of thy previous lives? By what deed of merit dost thou enjoy this reward?

By what holy living, by what self-control, by what deed of merit dost thou rejoice in heaven’s company?

How didst thou come by this dazzling power and this beauty? By what deed of merit dost thou illumine all the quarters? I ask thee, O deva, tell me of what karma this is the fruit.

And the deva, thus questioned by Maudgalyāyana himself, in reply thus made answer to the elder—so have I heard.

I dwelt in Kapilavastu, the chief city of the Sākyans, with its cluster of high buildings and castles, and many a strong gateway.

In the home of the Śākyans’ chief, crowded with horses, elephants and chariots, with its gates of firm bolts and panels, and pinnacles of lizards’ heads.[11]

In this well-built, populous city, I was the steed of Śuddhodana’s son, and was born the same time as he.

And when the Best of Men left home and took to a wanderer’s life, then did he speak and utter a most perfect speech.

(194) And as soon as I heard this speech, thrilled and stirred, I obediently carried the Supreme of Men.

We came to a land of strangers, and at sunrise he left me and Chandaka and went on his way unheeding.

With my tongue I licked his feet with their tawny nails, and I wept as, looking up, I saw the Supreme of Men going away.

At the thought that no longer should I see the renowned son of the Śākyans, cruel pangs assailed me, and I resolved to die.

And in virtue of that, I now dwell in this mansion that is most excellent, thronged with fair women, and filled with pinnacled buildings.

If, sir, you should go into the presence of the Śākyan lion, greet the Supreme of Men in Kaṇṭhaka’s name.

And I, too, would love to salute the Supreme of Men. Verily, good is it to behold such mighty seers.

’Tis thus that I won the radiance of this Life, its glory and its strength, this magic power, and this divine company.

As a reward for my holy life, my self-restraint, and self-control, I’ve got such magic power as this, unfailing and more than human.

As for the fair karma that I stored up of yore, I am now enjoying the fruit of it.

All the joys that are dear to the mind are now my lot. Devas pay me worship, and I am honoured[12] of them.

(195) Set your hearts on him who is outstanding[13] among those deserving of offerings. Thus it is seen that a fair karma was accumulated by one who was merely a horse.[14]

Here ends the exposition of Kaṇṭhaka in the Mahāvastu-Avadāna.

Then, in the confines of the forest retreat, the Śuddhāvāsa devas created a hunter garbed in yellow. And the Bodhisattva saw him.

Then did he see in the forest retreat a hunter clothed in yellow. He went up to him and said,

“Take my two robes of Benares cloth and give me your yellow garb.” The hunter took the two robes of Benares cloth and gave him his yellow garb.

And when he had taken the suit of yellow cloth he became glad and elated, and he said, “This, now, is the excellent, prudent way for me to win the uttermost good.”

The Bodhisattva entered the forest where dharma was taught,[15] the retreat of the seer Vasiṣṭha. And when Vasiṣṭha the seer saw the Bodhisattva he wondered who he might be. Was he a man, a deva, Śakra, or Brahmā that, with the radiance of his body, he should flood this grove of penance? All the young Brāhman students, when they saw the Bodhisattva, hurriedly ran each to his own hut, fetched fruits of various kinds and drink, and then went to meet the Bodhisattva.

There he saw the aged, the greatly wise, the best of seers, named Vasiṣṭha after his clan, and went up to him.

He saw him with matted hair like a flame ruddy amid dark smoke, (196) seated calmly like the windless ocean.

The Śākyan hero, whose self was the dharma,[16] appeared before the sage and, bidden to enter, went into his retreat.

When the sage, profound as ocean and mighty as the Himalayas, saw the son of the Śākyan king, he wondered

Who this might be, glorious of form, dazzling more than the lightning’s flash, all golden, gleaming like a smokeless, blazing[17] fire.

Broadchested was he, with mighty arms, and admirable hands and fingers; compact was his belly, slender his figure; his carriage that of an antelope, and his hips were prominent.[18]

He was like a pillar of gold, and his eyes flashed like a bull’s. His bust was like that of a tiger, his feet and hands like the lotus.[19]

His body was bright with the marks won by the virtues of a hundred lives, as the moon is bright among the stars.

There were no befitting bright ornaments on his limbs; these characteristics alone adorned the body of the great-souled one.

As the true son of Meru’s circle[20] moved on stately as an elephant, the earth suddenly re-echoed to the tread of his feet.

With his tender, deep and resonant voice, he was capable of ordering effectively all the three worlds.

“By all these secondary and principal characteristics which I have enumerated, (197) he is marked as the supreme lord of all beings in the three worlds.

“With the radiance that flows from his entire body[21] he fills all this grove of penance like the rising sun.

“Endowed as he is with the eighty minor characteristics and the thirty-two marks of excellence, this dazzling young man is like Sanatkumāra.”[22]

The great seer went up to the young man so endowed with all the marks, the most charming of all beings, saying[23] “I'll question him.”

“Young man,” said he, “thou art like a Gandharva, like the moon, like an offspring of a deva. Why and with what purpose art thou come to this grove of penance?”

He, the king’s son, the son of all that is,[24] replied in words that were concerned with truth, but gentle, and affectionate in tone,

“I am a scion of Ikṣvāku’s[25] family, the son of King Śuddhodana. But I have left the world and renounced the kingdom, intent on release.

“For I saw the world oppressed by many ills, birth, disease, old age, and other ills, and so I left home for the sake of release.

“Where everything knows no becoming, where everything ceases, where everything is stopped, that region do I seek.”

When this had been spoken, then did the greatly wise, magnanimous and truthful seer reply to the prince of speakers, the son of the Śākyans’ king,

“O thou that art greatly blessed with such conduct, with such behaviour that has won the marks of excellence, and with wisdom, there is nothing that thou wilt not attain to.”

(198) Then the Bodhisattva went to Veśālī[26] and attached himself to Ārāḍa Kālāma.[27] But perceiving that his was not the way of deliverance[28], he left him and went to Rājagṛha.

He who was covered with the fair marks of excellence went to Rājagṛha, and, living in a mountain fastness in Magadha, went about for alms.

Śreṇiya,[29] king of Magadha, from his terrace saw him. He was gladdened at the sight, and said to his ministers,

“Sirs, behold him who is covered with the fair marks of excellence. Tall and stately is he, but looks before him no farther than a plough’s length.[30]

“Thoughtful, with his uplifted gaze, he is not born of an ignoble family. Let royal messengers follow on his trail to see to what abode he goes.”

And the messengers so enjoined followed behind on his trail to see whither the monk would go, to what home he would make his way.

When he had completed his round for alms, the sage left the town. He made for Pāṇḍava[31], and there would his abode be found.

Understanding that he had come to his home, one of the messengers went in after him, and another quickly went back and told the king.

“Your majesty,” said he, “the monk is on Pāṇḍava, eastwards from here. He is seated at the foot of a tree, calm and composed.

“He is lithe as a panther, bright as a tiger on a mountain ridge, like a lion in a mountain fastness—a mighty lion, king of beasts, is he.”

Thereupon the king hurriedly spoke to his ministers, “(199) Quickly make the way clear. We go to see the Best of Men.”

And the royal servants of high rank and renown quickly cleared the way, saying, “The king himself is coming this way.”

The royal servants of high rank and renown came and reported to the king, “Sire” said they, “the way to Pāṇḍava is clear.”

Then the king set out with his fourfold army, accompanied by his friends and ministers and escorted by a crowd of his kinsfolk.

He alighted from his chariot, and went onwards on foot.[32] The king approached the Bodhisattva alone, greeted him courteously, sat down opposite him and thus addressed him:

“Happy art thou. I offer thee a kingdom with an army of cavalry.[33] You can enjoy riches. I ask thee, tell me who are thy people.”

The Bodhisattva replied:—

“O king, my country is on the slopes of the Himalayas. Endowed with wealth and strength, I dwelt among the Kośalas.[34] I am an Ādityan[35] by clan and a Śākyan by family.

“But I went away from my home, going not to seek pleasures but to renounce them and leave my rich home.”

[The king said:]

“So be it, then. Go thou on to gain[36] release. And when thou hast won enlightenment, then come hither again. (200) Teach me the dharma, O Gotama, that hearkening to it I may pass on to heaven.”

The Bodisattva replied:

“So, surely, your majesty, shall it come to pass. I shall gain enlightenment, of that I have no doubt. And when I have gained it, I shall return here, and teach you the dharma. This I promise you.”

When the Bodhisattva was with Udraka Rāmaputra,[37] he perceived that his was not the way of deliverance.[38] So he left him and came to Gayā.[39] And on Mount Gayāśīrsa the three similitudes[40] appeared to him. Thence he went to Uruvilvā, which he entered in quest of alms. Kāśyapa Pūraṇa[41] had also come thither for alms.

Putting aside all hindrances,[42] listen all ye with attentive mind and hear how the glorious Bodhisattva resorted to the haunts of former Buddhas.[43]

Having gone to live the religious life with Ārāḍa and Udraka and not finding satisfaction in their retreat, he went on towards the south, to the land resorted to by former Conquerors.

Begging for alms on the way, he, bright as an ornament of gold, reached Uruvilvā. In course of time, he came to the house of a village overseer which was crowded with men and women.

The village overseer had a daughter named Sujātā,[44] who was accomplished and well brought up. And when she saw the prince, she was stirred by the passion of love.

She shed tears as she stood before him reverently and respectfully,[45] (201) and she spoke to the prince, saying, “Noble sir, depart not to-day.

“O thou whose face is like the full moon, do not leave this place utterly and for ever. My eyes can never have enough of gazing upon thee, O valiant one.

“O thou that art lovely and brave, bearing the beautiful marks and wearing fine jewels,[46] why dost thou pass on when my heart is utterly blind[47] with unrequited love?”[48]

Then she heard the voices of female devas in the sky saying[49] “Verily, he is the son of King Śuddhodana from Kapilavastu.”

But she, eager to have him in sight, ran out of the village and lauded his many virtues, telling how the noble man was exiled from kith and kin.

A crowd of women with her wept, and followed after him whose beauty was golden. And she piteously bewailed him who was going to roam the forest.

“Fortunate,” said she, “will the wild beasts and their herds be, and the devas, the lords of the woods, who will behold the valiant man roaming the glades with the gait of a lordly swan.

“With limbs like delicate flowers, and feet sheer jewels the colour of the lotus leaf, how wilt thou walk over difficult ground tangled with kuśa-grass and leaves?

“Thou wast brought up on savoury dainty foods, thy body thrived on divers fine essences. How wilt thou live on a diet of roots and fruits and leaves in the forest with its tumbling mountain streams?[50]

“Having been wont to sleep on a bed with feet of ivory and gold, with fine coverlets, and strewn with flowers, how wilt thou live on a ground strewn with kuśa-grass and leaves?

“O noble man, in thy home thou wast wont to listen to the music of drum and tabour, (202) but now wilt thou hear the harsh, dreadful and roaring snort of the angry elephant.

“Mayst thou find a spot well furnished with roots and leaves and fruits, and a haunt of beasts that are gentle. O forest-wanderer, may the rock not torment thee when thou art thirsty and hungry.

“When thou art scorched by summer’s heat mayst thou find an embowered grove with a spring of water, And when it is cold in thy mountain caverns, may there be a cloudless sun.

“May Rākṣasas, Yakṣas and serpents guard thy body, the delicate body of the offspring of devas, which delighteth heart and eye more than stars and moon.”

But he came to the lower slopes of the Vindhyas, like a noble elephant desiring the lotus. Listen to the description of this variegated grove of penance in the fair forest.

Here are creeping plants with scarlet shoots in a glade of young and beautiful blossoming trees. Here they are burnt by a forest deva, there broken by an elephant’s tread.

Here is a tree adorned with inaccessible fruits hanging among the dense, impenetrable foliage; there an ancient hollowed tree, its root covered over with the thick brushwood of the forest.

Here, my men,[51] is the rare beauty of the lotus; there the forest is laved by[52] a mountain stream, and there the hermit’s retreat echoes all around to the songs of cuckoos, parrots and peacocks.

Here are jungles overgrown with grass and pitted with holes [ ];[53] there are the red stalks of reeds; here are wild deer, yak oxen, and buffaloes, and here and there troops of tigers and lions.

Here are divers creeping plants with scarlet shoots clinging to young trees, (203) like women asleep, tired after a walk in their pleasaunce.

Here are the budded tops of the red amaranth clearly burgeoning into flowers, like the slumbrous eyes of women waking from their sleep.

Here, stirred by a gentle breeze, the branches of various bright flowering trees caress one another like women in play.

Here, the swaying[54] forest branches in bloom bend under the weight of their burden, like calf-bearing cows with the weight of their bellies.[55]

Here are flowering kiṃśuka[56] trees, in a row in the forest, like desirable large-eyed women, with upper garments of saffron, in their teacher’s house.

Here is a flowery spot covered with freshly-blown flowers, like a newly wedded bride lying at her ease, decked out in clusters of jewels.

Here are creepers with prickly thorns, bearing the marks of the hoofs of deer, buffalo and boar, and soaked by the blood of beasts slain by the mountaineer’s arrow.

Here a herd of elephants[57] on the ground,[58] with housings of white cloth; there boars, though able to ward off men, fall down[59] slain by tigers and lions.

Here is the chatter of Rākṣasas, and the fearful cries of Piśācas and Kumbhāṇḍas; there by night the talk of Guhyakas[60] is borne on the breeze.

Here by night the clouds rumble and the beasts of prey rejoice; (204) there fear-inspiring things assume many a form.

Here in this forest of trees does he abide who yearns for the welfare of the whole world and who rejoices in the great respect he exacts from wild beasts and from Rākṣasas.

A marvel was it, then, that the lord of animals, the choicest of beings, should seek the welfare of all creation equally with his own.

[For he said], “Even though I have to endure the ills of all men for a measureless kalpa, while seeking the release of them one by one, I shall lead across all beings. On this I am resolved.”

Then, when the choice being had lived a life of austerity in the forest for six years to secure the fading away of his karma, he came to recognise that the way he was on was not the way of release.

He gets the thought, “The way to enlightenment will prove to be the one I perceived of yore when, in the rose-apple garden of the Śākyan king, I practised the first meditation.[61]

“But, weak and frail as I am, with my blood dried up and my flesh shrivelled, I cannot win through to enlightenment. So let me now once more take some nourishment.”

The forest goddess said to him, “Do not eat, lest thy glory fade. We will restore strength to your limbs.”

Then he thought, “Everywhere am I known as one who has fasted continually. If I have my strength restored by these goddesses, then it will all be a deceit.”

Dismayed by these cozening words, he said, “No more of that” and rebuffed the goddesses. Then he partook of vetch, beans, peas and soup of molasses.

(205) Gradually he built up his body’s strength and vigour, and seeking food as he went, he made a good journey to Uruvilvā.

Then she who had in previous births been his mother, Sujātā by name, who was accomplished and well brought up, stood at the foot of a banyan-tree,[62] bearing some sweet milk-rice.

“O holy man,” saids he, “why is thy body so lean and worn out?” And she offered the milk-rice to the king’s son, commending it.[63]

The royal seer[64] thought, “This sweet milk-rice is well made,”[65] and the king’s son said to her, “With what object do you give me this gift?”[66]

She who had been the mother of this pure being in a hundred births sweetly replied to him, “It is my wish. Let me have it so.

“On the lower slopes of the Himalayas there is a city called Kapilavastu, which is renowned far and wide.

“A prince of that city, the son of the Śākyan Śuddhodana has left his people, renounced his kingdom, and gone into the forest.

“For six years he has been a wanderer in the wild and fearful forest of penance. By this gift to him my vow is fulfilled.[67]

“May my purpose prosper through the life of austerity which the excellent man seeks. May I, too, go along that way with the most excellent Great Man.”

Thereupon a celestial voice came out of the sky saying, “O Sujātā, this is he, the wise man sprung from the Śākyan royal house.

(206) “Terrible austerities of various kinds, and hard to accomplish, which dried up his blood and his flesh, did he go through in the forest of penance.

“But now he has abjured those useless practices, and is marching on towards that fair tree where former perfect Buddhas attained the incomparable enlightenment.”

Then Sujātā wept for joy, and trembling raised her joined hands to the Valiant Man and said to him,

“I have seen, O lotus-eyed one, that thou hast arisen from thy grim austerities in the terrible forest, and seeing this, my heart which had been stricken with grief feels joy again.

“It is six years since the beds I have slept in have brought me ease, for I was tormented by the arrow of grief as I thought of thy austerities.

“But now the whole kingdom, thy people, thy father, thy loved ones and thy aunt will be glad and joyful when they hear that thy penance is over.

“In the city of Kapila the houses will resound to the music of a hundred instruments, with throngs of men and women laughing, beside themselves with joy.

“Partake of this sweet milk-rice and become the destroyer of the conduit that formerly irrigated existence,[68] and attain immortality, the griefless state, in a grove in the king’s domain.”[69]

The Light of men[70] declared to her, “For five hundred births you were my mother. In some future time you will be a Pratyekabuddha,[71] vowed to a Conqueror’s life.”

Here ends the prediction made to Sujātā in the Mahāvastu-Avadāna.

(207) Then the Bodhisattva, having finished his alms round, left the village of Senāpati[72] in Uruvilvā, with his bowl full of cakes of various kinds. But Kāśyapa Pūraṇa left with his bowl containing only leavings of food.[73] The Bodhisattva asked him, “Venerable Kāśyapa, have you received any alms?” And Kāśyapa replied to the Bodhisattva in a verse:—

Praskandaka, Balākalpa, Ujjaṅgala and Jaṅgala,[74] in these wicked villages I received not a single piece of alms.

The Bodhisattva replied to Kāśyapa Pūraṇa in verse:—

Praskandaka, Balākalpa, Ujjaṅgala and Jaṅgala, by these kind villages, see, my bowl is loaded.

When the Bodhisattva, against the wishes of his sobbing and weeping parents left home, King Śuddhodana sent out men with instructions to bring him constantly daily tidings of the prince. Therefore news of him came to the king, when the prince went to Anomiya to the retreat of the seer Vasiṣṭha; when he left the retreat of the seer Vasiṣṭha and went to Veśālī; when he joined Ārāḍa Kālāma at Veśālī; when he left Veśālī and went to Rājagṛha; when he joined Udaka Rāmaputra at Rājagṛha; when he was offered bounteous wealth by Śreṇiya Bimbisāra; when he left Rājagṛha and went to Mount Gayāśīrṣa; when he left Mount Gayāśīrṣa and went to the wood on the Uruvilvā bank of the Nairāñjanā; (208) when he was practising his harsh austerities in the wood at Uruvilvā; and when he strove his striving[75]—on all these occasions news came to him.[76]

When the Bodhisattva was practising the “breath-holding meditation.[77]” and to his great discomfort.[78] had stopped inhaling and exhaling through his nostrils and through the inner passages of both ears, those men said among themselves, “The prince is dead, for he neither exhales[79] nor inhales.” And they came to Kapilavastu and told King Śuddhodana. “Your majesty,” said they, “the prince is dead.” But the king did not believe it,[80] and he asked the men, “How do you know that the prince is dead?” They replied, “Your majesty, the prince is dead as a result of his severe austerities and meagre[81] diet. He no longer inhales and exhales, but lies like a log of wood. So we thought that, as the prince neither inhaled nor exhaled and his body was lean and frail, he was dead.”

Then King Śuddhodana said to himself, “Such honour was paid to the prince by thousands of devas when he came down[82] to his mother’s womb, and when he moved[83] in the womb; in such a wonderful manner was he born in the Lumbinī grove, and as soon as he was born he took seven strides over the ground, surveyed the quarters of the world, laughed a loud laugh and uttered the words, “I am foremost in the world, the best, the most excellent, to be worshipped of devas and men”; such strange marvels were seen at his birth, for this inanimate earth quaked and thousands of devas worshipped him; and such good fortune attended his leaving home, that a Great Man like this cannot be short-lived. It can be that the prince will prove to be immersed in calm concentration, just as he was on a former occasion before he had gone forth as a recluse, when he sat cross-legged in the cool shade of the rose-apple tree. It is because of this that the men conclude that the prince is dead.” Then he said to the men, “Go to the prince. He is not dead, but is immersed in calm concentration. (209) And bring me tidings of the prince daily.”

So they went again to Uruvilvā, entered the forest of penance and saw the prince in good health, breathing again and come out of his concentration. And they marvelled at the understanding of King Śuddhodana.

The monks heard of this incident when the Exalted One had set rolling the noble wheel of dharma, and they asked him, “How was it, Lord, that, when King Śuddhodana heard from these men in reply to his question that the prince was dead, he would not believe?” The Exalted One replied, “Indeed, monks, that was not the first time that King Śuddhodana hearing that I was dead[84] did not believe. There was another occasion also when, hearing that I was dead, he did not believe.” The monks asked, “.Was there another occasion, Lord?” The Exalted One replied, “Yes, monks, there was another occasion.”

Footnotes and references:


See Vol. I, p. 3, n. 5.


Praticchita, Pali for BSk. pratīcchita.


Mo, corrected by Senart from mām. He, however, takes it for nominative subject of the verb. But it would seem better to take it as genitive, object of dattvā. Cf. Vol. I, p. 290, n. 2. The whole sentence is mo kumāreṇa. ābharaṇāni dattvā nivartitā.


? ukkarikāni.


Cf. Vol. I, pp. 25, f.




This is the theme of Vv. 81, also, but there are notable differences in the two texts.


Reading sarvadiśāṃ for °diśā.


Literally “On (to, with) each single musical instrument,” ekamekasmiṃ tūryasmiṃ. For tūrya see Vol. I, p. 135, n. 2.


Bāhā, Pali for bāhu.


Barth compares the Makkaras at Bharhut.


Reading apacita for upacita, “stored up,” which makes no sense here and may be due to its occurrence in both the preceding and the following stanzas.


Literally “such” tādṛśam. We should expect the locative tādṛśe in apposition to tasmin. Senart renders tādṛśam, “comme moi,” i.e. as a sort of adverbial accusative, but this would seem to leave dakṣiṇīyeṣu without syntactical connexion with the rest of the sentence. The accusative word may plausibly be explained as due to the distance between it and the word to which it is in apposition, the indirect object coming to be felt as a direct object.


Adopting Senart’s conjecture that rakṣabhūtena (= by a rakṣa or rākṣasa) should be changed to aśvabhūtena.


Dharmāraṇya, an unusual compound.


Dharmātmā, another unusual compound.


Jotimāna, a Prakrit form for jyoti°. So Senart.


In these stanzas we have a rough and ready description of the greater and lesser characteristics of a Mahāpuruṣa. See Vol. I, pp. 180, ff. and Vol. 2, pp. 40 f.


The text here is corrupt. The stanza ends padmapādakaro nagha: The last word is printed with a question mark, and is otherwise known only in the compound naghamāra (see B.R.). It gives no sense here. The metre is against reading °karanakho, which would give the sense of “the nails on his hands and feet were like the lotus.”


? Merumaṇḍalasāra.


Śarīrasamucchrayā, a tautological compound, samucchraya itself meaning “body,” see Vol. I, p. 134, n. 1. Here it is ablative, with ā = ād (āt).


One of the four sons of Brahmā and oldest of the progenitors of mankind.


Adopting one of Senart’s conjectures, supplying iti after paripṛccheyam and taking upagamya as being for upagame, an example of the orthography ya for e which Senart finds also on the preceding page. Although the preceding passage starts as oratio obliqua dependent on vismito abhūt, “wondered,” before the end it imperceptibly passes into direct speech.


The text has sarvabhūtātmayā, which might conceivably mean something like “(in words, girā) consonant with all reality” (literally “were the self of all things.”) But such an epithet is hardly appropriate to gir, and Senart is forced to interpret it as “qui pénètre, qui va à tous les êtres,” an interpretation which seems to ignore -ātma altogether. Miss I. B. Horner makes the interesting suggestion that we should read sarvabhūtātmajā and take it, in spite of the -jā, to be in apposition to nṛpātmaja, “the king’s son.” The epithet is quite appropriate when we consider who the king’s son was, for it may be taken as a way of expressing the fact that the Buddha was the embodiment of the truth of all things.


See Vol. I. pp. 77, 293.


See Vol. I, p. 208, n. 2.


See above p. 114 f.


Mārga nairyāṇika. Cf. Pali niyyānika.


Sreṇiya Bimbisāra. See Vol. I, p. 210, n. 1.


Yugamātramna prekṣati, a special characteristic of Pratyekabuddhas, see Vol. I, p. 119, n. 3.


Pali Paṇḍava, a hill near Rājagṛha. Cf. J. 1. 66, Sn. 414.


Padasā, instrumental of the consonantal(s) declension, padas. Cf. Pali.


Adopting Senart’s very tentative conjecture of rājyam aśvāroham sainyakam for the MS. reading rājna aśvāroha va selako, which is untranslatable.


See Vol. I, pp, 29, 265 ff., 295 f.


Āditya, Pali Ādicca, another name for Sūrya (Suriya), the sun. It was also the gotra name of the Śākyans. (D.P.N.)


Spṛśāhi. Cf. Pali phusati in sense of “to gain.”


See above p. 116f.


Mārga niryānika, see above p. 189, n. 3.


See above p. 117. A version of these events has already been given above (pp. 126 ff.) as an account given by the Buddha to his monks, The first version would seem to be nearer the Pah tradition, while this second version has affinities with that in Lal. Vist.


See above p. 117 ff.


See Vol. I, p. 208.


See Vol. I, p. 117, n. 1.




See above p. 126, n. 7.


Sapatissa, metrically for the Pali sappaṭissa. The BSk. form is sapratīśa (see Vol. I, p. 137, n. 1).


This is inconsistent, for we have already been told that Gotama had sent his jewels home by Chanda. But this is only evidence that this version is from another tradition.


Note disagreement of genders in sarvāndhakṛto hṛdayam.


Literally “(the heart) of me unsatisfied,” atṛptāyā me.


Bhāṣantām, an irregular form, demanded by the metre, qualifying devatānām. One MS. reads narāṇām ca bhāṣatām, but nabhagatānām and the context show that the allusion is to devas.


? Nirjharavana, “forest of cascades.”


Vīrās, voc. pi., referring to the audience. Cf. “listen,” sṛṇotha, above.


Literally, “receiving,” °lābho.


The lacuna represents an inexplicable word in the text of the MSS., viz, mṛṣitā. Senart here calls attention to the very conjectural nature of many of his restorations in this passage.


Kupyaka, cf. Pah kuppa, ger. of kuppati, Sk. kupyate. But Senart, unsuccessfully, seeks the name of a tree in this word.


But there is a lacuna in the text, and the interpretation must remain doubtful.


“A tree bearing beautiful red flowers, Butea frondosa.”


Gajakaraṅkanikaro, unless it is to be taken more literally “a multitude of elephant skulls.”


Kṣitim gale of the text do not seem to make sense, and should probably be emended into kṣititale, “on the surface of the earth.”


Viṣādi, sing, verb with pl. subject.


See Vol. I, p. 84, n. 2.


See above p. 44.


See above p. 126, n. 7. The Mhvu. story of Sujātā is obviously made up from several varying traditions.


There is no main verb following , “she,” but only the two participles dadatvā and parikīrtaya. The latter is anomalous in form, for by Sanskrit rules we should expect parikīrtya.


I.e. Gotama.


Sujāta, a play, as Senart suggests, on the name Sujātā.


As has been seen (above p. 126 n. 7) the drink was originally intended for the god of the banyan trees in fulfilment of a vow.


As Senart remarks, this is obviously an interpolation from another version of the story.


Purimabhavanetri. With bhavanetri, cf. Pali bhavanetti.


? Drumarājapṛthivīṣaṇḍe, the compound seems somewhat irregular, but the allusion is clearly to the bodhi tree, which did not grow in the wilds, but in civilised territory.


Narapradīpa. Cf. lokapradīpa, etc., Vol. I, p. 37, n. 1.


See Vol. I, p. 40, n. 3. Here the synonym pratyekajina is used.


I.e. the village overseer referred to above as the father of Sujātā. See p. 126, n. 7.


Atiriktakena pātreṇa. Cf. Pali anatiritta, of food which is not the leavings of a meal, i.e. fresh food.


Four villages belonging to Uruvilvā, mentioned only here.


Prahāṇa, for pradhāna. Cf. above p. 120, n. 2.


This is a summing up made in translation; in the text the statement “news came to him” is repeated after each clause.


Āsphānaka dhyāna, see above p. 120, n. 4.


Lūkhatāya. See lūha above p. 63, n. 1.


Uśvasati, according to Senart, a false Sk. form due to the mistaken notion that the regular ucchvasati was Prakrit.


Pattīyati. See above p. 106, n. 2.


Lūha. See above p. 63, n. 1.


Reading avakrāntasya for avakrānti.


Garbhacaṅkramasya. Senart compares Lal. Vist. p. 76 f. for this reference to the adoration of the Bodhisattva by devas when he moved about in his mother’s womb.


Literally, “hearing of me, that I was dead” mamāntareṇa kālagato ti śrutvā. Mamāntareṇa would normally mean “after me,” a meaning inadmissible here. Senart refers to an earlier instance where antara denotes “obstacle,” and argues that this meaning and that of “after” combine to give the sense of “interposition.” Mamāntareṇa therefore, he says, means “dans ma disparition.” But there seems to be no room for this idea alongside of kālagato, and it would be simpler to take antareṇa as a variant of antaram in the sense of “on account of,” “with regard to.” Below, the expression is replaced by mama kāraṇena and mam arthāya.

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