The Mahavastu (great story)

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

This page describes final defeat of mara which is Chapter XXXI 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 XXXI - The final defeat of Māra

When the heroic Bodhisattva came to the river Nairañjanā, then did Kāla,[1] the great Nāga, all alone, begin to reflect.

“How,” thought he, “this great earth resounds like a beaten pan of metal! Without a doubt a great hero is about to appear in the world.”

Hearing the great earth, filled with gladsome noise, resound, he emerged from his lair and looked out all around him.

And as the great Nāga looked out he saw the peerless Supreme Man, like a blazing fire-brand, or like lightning among the clouds.

The Lion-man went on his way along the banks of the Nairañjanā, unhurried and undisturbed,[2] bright as a sacrificial fire. Then Kāla the Nāga extolled the Lord.

Elated and filled with joy and happiness he adored the Bodhisattva, and uttered these verses:—

“Thou art like the great and glorious Saviours of the world whom I saw of yore. I have no doubt of this.

(398) “From the way[3] thou liftest up thy right foot, as thou scannest the regions around, O Supreme of Men, to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“From the way this earth resounds like a beaten pan of metal, there is no doubt, Great Hero, that to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“From the way my dark and gloomy abode is all suffused with radiance, to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“From the way the heaven everywhere stands filled with splendour, there is no doubt, Great Hero, that to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“From the way my vision is unobstructed and clear, O Guide, there is no doubt, Great Hero, that to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“From the way thou dost doff thy robe, and from the way thou goest down to the cool Nairañjanā, to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“From the way the Nairañjanā is gaily covered with flowers, there is no doubt, Great Hero that to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“From the way flowers rain down and devas throw their garments, and from the way trees bow before thee, to-day thou wilt become Buddha.”

The son of earth’s highest king hies him to the clear full stream and plunges in. Emerging he anoints himself and approaches the seat of former Buddhas.

Renouncing[4] this great earth, the four continents with their mountains, as though they were but a tuft of grass, (399) the Lion-man begs some grass of Svastika,[5] so that seated thereon he might attain the noble enlightenment.

Eagerly Svastika gave him who was like a disc of gold a handful of grass that was like soft cotton, and he took it in hands that were like soft cotton.

Then the Bodhisattva pushed on with the valour of a lion[6] to acquire unsurpassed immortality. He pushed on valiant as a Nāga, a bull, a swan, a curlew; irresistibly valiant; valiant in his noblest birth; valiant in his best birth; valiant in his knowledge of his former births;[7] valiant in his fitting birth;[8] valiant in virtue of the former birth in which he made his vow;[9] valiant as one who routs his foes; invincibly valiant; (400) valiant as a Great Man; valiant as one without attachments; valiant in his high-mindedness; valiant in his nobility; valliant in his fearlessness; valiant as a Beneficent One bringing light; he pushed on valiantly to triumph in the great conflict and to grasp supreme immortality.

Then as the Bodhisattva thus[10] pushed on, there moved round him from the right five hundred vāṇa[11] birds, five hundred flamingoes, five hundred curlews, five hundred peacocks, five hundred pheasants, and five hundred maidens. Kāla, the Nāga king, saw this, and when he had seen it he again said to the Bodhisattva, “Go, Great Recluse, go, Great Recluse. The way thou comest, O Great Recluse, is the way the exalted Great Recluse Krakucchanda came, and he awakened to the incomparable perfect enlightenment. To-day, O Great Recluse, thou too comest along that way, and to-day thou shalt awaken to the incomparable perfect enlightenment. Along the way thou comest, O Great Recluse, did the exalted Konākamuni come and he awakened to the incomparable perfect enlightenment. Thou, too, O Great Recluse, comest along that way, and to-day thou, too, wilt awaken to the incomparable perfect enlightenment. Along the way thou comest, O Great Recluse, the exalted Great Recluse Kāśyapa came and he awakened to the incomparable perfect enlightenment. Thou, too, comest along that way, O Great Recluse, and to-day thou wilt awaken to the incomparable perfect enlightenment.”

Then Kāla, the Nāga king, extolled the Bodhisattva as he went to the bodhi throne, in these verses:—[12]

(401) Then when Kāla had seen him who had lived in mastery for thousands of kalpas, for thousands of koṭis of kalpas, he addressed the foremost of the Śākyans as he moved on.

“The way thou goest, O Best of bipeds, calmly and fearlessly, thou wilt to-day awaken to the life that tends to the weal of man and of all beings.[13]

“Thou art set on the gentle way which those Buddhas of yore did tread. To-day, O Great Hero, thou wilt become Buddha.

“The way trodden by the exalted Buddha Krakucchanda, the sage named Konāka, and the exalted Buddha Kāśyapa, that same way thou dost tread, O Lord.

“Go the way that Krakucchanda, Konākamuni and Kāśyapa went. O Hero, to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“From the way thou boldest the grass, from the way thou dost ask Svastika for it, from the way thou dost approach the bodhi throne, to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“The same honour is paid to thee, O scion of the Śākyans, as the saintly and reverent Śuddhāvāsa devas there paid to those Buddhas.

“The heavenly mansions everywhere are filled with splendour as in the days of former Buddhas;[14] there is no doubt, O Great Hero, that to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“Inasmuch as my gloomy and darksome abode has been all suffused with radiance, to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“Inasmuch as my vision is unobstructed and clear, O Guide, there is no doubt, O Great Hero, that to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“Inasmuch as this earth resounds like a beaten pan of metal, (402) there is no doubt, O Great Hero, that to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“Inasmuch as the winds blow and yet the trees stand unmoved, and inasmuch as the birds warble, to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“Inasmuch as the earth is everywhere covered with flowers—for it is at the arising of Buddhas that it becomes so adorned.

“Inasmuch as five hundred vāṇa birds salute thee from the right, there is no doubt, O Great Hero, that to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“Inasmuch as five hundred falcons[15] salute thee from the right, there is no doubt, O Great Hero, that to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“Inasmuch as five hundred flamingoes salute thee from the right, there is no doubt, O Great Hero, that to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“Inasmuch as five hundred curlews salute thee from the right, there is no doubt, O Great Hero, that to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“Inasmuch as five hundred peacocks salute thee from the right, there is no doubt, O Great Hero, that to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“Inasmuch as five hundred pheasants salute thee from the right, there is no doubt, O Great Hero, that to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“Inasmuch as five hundred full water-jars salute thee from the right, there is no doubt, O Great Hero, that to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“Inasmuch as five hundred maidens salute thee from the right, there is no doubt, O Great Hero, that to-day thou wilt become Buddha.”

With his face set towards a Conqueror’s perfection (403) he approached the seat of former Buddhas. At the auspicious time,[16] the Light of the world drew near to the noblest tree.

And Kāla, the Nāga king, extolled the Bodhisattva when he had reached his throne:—

“From the way thou hast spread thy bed with thy gentle webbed hands,[17] and from the way thou hast sat cross-legged, to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“Inasmuch as five hundred vāṇa birds salute thee from the right, near the king of trees, to-day thou wilt become Buddha.

“To-day, O Hero among men, thou pursuest the way of life followed by Buddhas of yore. Thou wilt destroy the army of the treacherous, cavalry, elephants, chariots and infantry.

“Inasmuch as the two and thirty marks of a Great Man are on thy body, there is no doubt that thou wilt shine[18] forth after crushing Māra’s host.

“To-day, O Destroyer of lusts and intoxication, having by means of knowledge eradicated the āśravas from thy heart,[19] thou wilt gain enlightenment, and come to cease to exist.[20]

“To-day, there will be no challenger[21] to thee and the dharma.” So did Kāla, the great Nāga, the noblest and best of serpents, gladly and reverently speak and say, “To-day thou wilt become Buddha.”

The Bodhisattva approved[22] and said, “Even so, O great Nāga, even so, O great Nāga, to-day I shall awaken to the perfect enlightenment”

The Lord of bipeds, his body braced[23] with joy and gladness, spoke to Kāla and said, (404) “To-day, O Kāla, thy word proves true. To-day I shall attain the supreme enlightenment.

“Even this great earth shall be mountainless, the moon shall fall from the sky, sooner than I shall fail to get there. Be joyful, O king of serpents.

“The wind shall cease to blow[24] on Meru’s summit, earth and sky shall meet, sooner than one such as I, who have reached my throne, shall fail to attain immortality.”

Seated there athwart the foot of the tree[25] he made this solemn utterance:—

“To-day, when the night passes away, I will destroy[26] the root of all existence leaving not a trace behind.”

When Kāla had praised the perfect Buddha with the thirty-two marks, he saluted him from the right and forthwith went away.[27]

As the Bodhisattva was seated there he won the five awarenesses,[28] namely, awareness of the past, of calm, of ease, of the impossible, and, finally, the supreme awareness that he would that day awaken to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment. He also mastered the four rules of polity,[29] namely, those relating to conciliation, punishment, dissension and gifts. Then wicked Māra flew through the air to where the bodhi tree was, and standing in the air he adored the Bodhisattva with his joined hands raised. But the Bodhisattva addressed wicked Māra in these verses.

(405) “Thou standest in the aery sky, eager and alert like the king of beasts, with thy hands joined in adoration and veneration. Thou dost here venerate him who is worthy to be adored.”

[Māra replied:]

“Lo, I am a lord, the wise sovereign of all creatures, knowing ease and ill, and understanding the cause of them in the world.

“So that thou, O glorious Hero, mayst have good health in the days of thy youth, enjoy the pleasures of men and live in thy father’s house.

“Dwell in the great, joyous and rich sea-girt land. O Gotama, rule thy realm, offering the great sacrifices,

“The horse-sacrifice, the man-sacrifice, the white-lotus sacrifice,[30] and the sacrifice of the unbarred house.[31] After thou hast offered these sacrifices thou wilt become an immortal god.

“For having offered these sacrifices the Trāyastriṃśa devas and those of Indra are happy [in the enjoyment of sensual pleasures].[32]

“Do thou, my friend, listen[33] then, and do as I say, lest thou be lost in the future through abandoning the joys of this present world.”

These were the verses that Māra spoke before the Bodhisattva, and to him speaking thus the Bodhisattva made reply:—

“O thou wanton of thought, thou wicked one, with what intent art thou come hither? Thou art no lord, thus, nor king, nor Brahmā, nor Prajāpati.

(406) “If thou wert lord thou wouldst not supplicate me with joined hands raised. I have no delight in prosperous birth, whether it be low, high or mean. I am indifferent to thee.[34]

“I have no delight in the pleasures of prosperity, whether they be low, high or mean. I am indifferent to thee.

“As for those five strands of sensual pleasures which the world thinks good, I have no delight in them. I am indifferent to thee.

“As an elephant which has broken a snare or rent its bonds goes wherever it wishes....[35]

“So have I broken the bonds that bound me to my home, and am on my way to a fair city.”[36] “Behold the dharma,”[37] did those in the sky, glad and joyful, exclaim.

Again did Māra fly through the air to where the bodhi tree was and stood in the air. The Bodhisattva said to him, “Who art thou?” And Māra replied:—

“I am the lord who intoxicates[38] devas and men. The fair[39] Suras and Asuras who dwell in my domain, though caught in the cage of recurrent birth, are overcome by intoxication, and, drunk with pleasure, escape the snare of death.”

But he who had vision of the highest good, the great Seer on his throne, replied to Māra with melodious speech. His words perfectly befitted one[40] who was endued with an ocean of virtue and (407) had the tone of the bull-voice of the “Bull-Man.”

“Brave in heart art thou,” said he, “if thou art lord over thyself. If thou art lord over sensual desires, then art thou truly without a lord.

“The sons of the kings of men are sick with love of women. Men with diadems of pendant gems and jewels fall in the mire.

“Then on the backs of these men, the great lords who have thus succumbed, wanton women fall, who, caught in the impulse of their desire, passion and intoxication, laugh; and at that moment these women are become the slaves of Yama.

“Thou who art fallen under the thraldom of women vauntest thy sovereignty. Behold how thou art deluded. There is no sovereignty for him who is afflicted by sensual desires. There neither has been nor will be. Of this I am certain.

“I am he who this day has in fight vanquished thee and thy power. When the rising sun begins to shine I shall become Buddha. For, O Dark One, none who has sat on this throne in his last incarnation fails to arise as a Buddha.”

Māra said, “Why roarest thou as thou sittest at thy ease by the fair tree? For dost thou not yet see here, with their thousand warlike crests, the armed hordes of Piśācas, with many a Rākṣasa and many a Yakṣa, (408) a glad host of four arms, equipped with many a magical device?”[41]

The Bodhisattva replied:—

Were nayutas of koṭis of Māras assembled, a gathering of able heroes in a pent-up flood, I would not move a hair because of them, much less because of thee, thou Son of Darkness. Go thy way. Why dost thou prate to no purpose?

Māra thus rebuffed by the Bodhisattva went to his own abode and related the matter to his retinue. “This Bodhisattva, my friends,” said he, “who is seated beneath the bodhi tree is desirous of awakening to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment. He must be removed from his throne lest the multitude of men desert my dominion.”

Then his son named Janīsuta[42] spoke, and said, “Father, do not hinder him. Let him awaken to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment. I have learnt what his conception was like, what his birth and what his leaving home, and how he came to the bodhi throne and sat there. To-day he will awaken to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment. There is no being or collection of beings capable of stopping the Bodhisattva from winning the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment.”

Seated like an invincible lion is he at the foot of the tree, irradiating all the world. No good will it ever be to us if thou assaultest a seer like him.

He is endued with morality, forbearance, and austerity, and has reached the most perfect of all states. (409) Such is he with his banner raised, that, like an elephant, he will rive all his bonds.

Do thou regard this supreme one of all bipeds. He shines like the moon when it is full. How can such a design succeed? Senseless is he who undertakes to do such harm.

No one would go down a trench of burning coals; no one would touch a snake[43] with his hand. The blind man frightened by dogs behind him falls unseeing into a hidden well.

So are these people deficient in intelligence. No wise counsel is theirs who are so disposed, who, unbelieving and unseeing, fall upon such a pure pasture.[44]

If thou dost not heed these words now, thou wilt remember them when thou hast strayed from the right way and art wandering through the four regions of the earth like a vagrant jackal.

Kāla, his minister, spoke these verses:—

Everyone who follows his own haughty design, without sense or wit, falls into folly (410), like Janīsuta here, my lord, who, ill-advised, gives improper counsel.

Then Māra having donned his great armour came near to the Bodhisattva. But he was routed by the mere sound of the Bodhisattva’s cough. Again did Māra don his great armour, and he drew near to the Bodhisattva at the foot of the bodhi tree with his great army of four arms, including Kumbhāṇḍas, Yakṣas, and Rākṣasas. Making the whole ground for thirty yojanas around to throb, he mounted his chariot, to which a thousand horses had been yoked, carrying a dazzling bow, armoured and mailed, with banners and flags flying, to the accompaniment of many drums, tabours, kettledrums, cymbals and trumpets, and attended by an army of frightful and monstrous beasts which made a rumbling clamour. Some of these beasts had the faces of horses, others of buffaloes, others of asses, others of goats, others of rams, others of deer, others of lions, others of tigers, others of panthers, others of bears, others of dogs, others of hogs, others of cats, others of ravens, others of cocks, others of vultures, and others of eagles. Some were headless trunks, others were one-headed, others many-headed, others two-headed. Some were eyeless, others one-eyed. Some were without hands, others without feet. Some were without arms, others had ten arms. Some carried knives, others swords, others hatchets, others spears,[45] others pikes, others tridents, others ploughshares, others discuses,[46] others clubs, others hammers, others axes, others scimitars, and others skulls.[47] Some breathed fire from their mouths, others snakes. Some brandished in the air wheels with blades on their rims. Some rushed on foot against the Bodhisattva carrying an elephant, (411) others carrying a buffalo, others a horse, others an ass, others a headless trunk, others skulls, others a snake, others lions, others tigers, others leopards, others bears, others oxen, others buffaloes, others death’s-heads,[48] others mountain-tops, and others whole trees including the roots. Some rained down from the sky showers of hot embers, others showers of snakes and others showers of stones. Some rushed on the Bodhisattva mounted on elephants, others on horses, others on bulls, others on buffaloes, others on asses, others on oxen, others on deer, and others on hogs. But the Bodhisattva did not turn a hair or change his heart.

Then Māra, in his chariot drawn through the air by oxen and horses, conjured up his host, including horses and elephants, and advanced to the Bodhisattva’s noble seat.

Mounting his chariot drawn by thousands of horses, and carrying a dazzling bow, he uttered a fearful cry, “Slay him, slay him, quickly seize him.”

Terrible hordes of Rākṣasas, with the features of elephants, asses, horses and bulls, armed with clubs surged menacingly against the foe-slaying Bodhisattva.

Some big-bellied snakes rose from the ground and cried, “Slay him, seize him”—a horrible cry of desperation.

Others breathed snakes from their mouths, others fire, and others venom. Hordes of Piśācas carrying elephants rushed on foot to the assault.

(412) Some carried[49] mountain-tops as they attacked the Sage. Other hordes of Piśācas rained down from the sky showers of hot embers.

Others hovering in the air brandished wheels with blades on their rims. In the sky was the clash of weapons making a frightful thunderous din.

But the Bodhisattva, endued with the roots of virtue acquired during several koṭis of kalpas, thrice stroked his head, and thrice his bent knee. Then he struck the earth with his right hand, a gem of a hand, marked with a bright streak, beautified by being painted with the essence of lac, soft like cotton to the touch, and with copper-coloured nails. And the earth thus struck reverberated. Deeply and distinctly it resounded and re-echoed. Just as a vessel of metal made in Magadha when beaten on a mountain-top resounds and re-echoes deeply, so did the earth when struck by the Bodhisattva’s hand.[50] And Māra’s army as it reverberated was split, torn, broken up,[51] and turned away. Their elephants, horses and chariots collapsed; their feet, hands and weapons collapsed. They lost their direction, and taking the wrong way fell into the river Nairañjanā. Some fell on their left side, others on their right, others on their backs, others on their feet, others on their knees, others on their heads, and others on their faces. In fear and terror they cried out to one another.

He, the Lord of bipeds, struck the earth with a hand soft as cotton. (413) The earth with the sea and the rocks shook. By him was the host of Namuci broken.

Then, because of the might of the Bodhisattva, Māra left the neighbourhood of the bodhi-tree. And as he fled, many a horse and elephant and warrior plunged down the banks of the river named Nairañjanā.

With his horsemen, chariots, and armour fallen and crushed, Māra, together with the hordes of Rākṣasas. ignorant of their direction, fell over the banks of the Nairañjanā, and all their weapons were lost.

The demon’s host, terrified by the might of magic power, stampeded for many a thousand yojanas. Then, though they were still not without fear, and trembled, (they cried out to one another), “We are fortunate to be alive and out of danger.”

Others of the demon host sobbed and wept. Meanwhile devas rained down flowers of the coral-tree and of the karkārava,[52] and in exultation acclaimed

The victory of the prince.[53] In the sky there were roars of drums, and shouts of “hurrah!” (414) re-echoed in the three worlds. The clear firmament was shaken when the Master won his victory.

A deva went to the deva-world and said:—

“Not in a hundred years would it be possible to tell the nature of the True, Supreme Man, who has gone to the banks of the Nairañjanā. What I shall relate is merely by way of example.

“I saw one who shone like the gold of Jāmbūnada, with a radiance a fathom’s length,[54] and with his body bright with the marks of excellence. Travelling all alone he set out for the Nairañjanā and the bodhi-throne.

“Each time he set his feet, which were like lotus-petals, on the ground, the earth joyously quaked with many a glad rumble.

“I saw the hosts of Māra assemble from all sides, a thousand koṭis of Yakṣas. They caused me fear and my heart did tremble. But they did not produce a quiver in him who is the essence of being.

“Even on earth his true nature was not known, but all around a thousand koṭis of devas proclaimed, “He will become a Conqueror,” (415) and in exultation they waved their garments about.

“I saw five hundred partridges, peacocks, flamingoes, cuckoos and sparrows; varied were their songs as he set out towards the Nairañjanā and the bodhi-throne.

“I saw a path fashioned by the immortals, which led to the Nairañjanā and the bodhi-throne, a path of incense, flowers and garlands, bright with blossoms and fragrantly scented.

“When Māra had been routed and his power utterly broken, the Bodhisattva, in the first watch of the night, purified his sight. In the middle watch the vanquisher of Māra brought to mind his life in previous existences.

“When the sun rose, the Saviour of the world, he who had destroyed the passion for existence, being perfect master of the conditions of Buddha-hood, attained the noble enlightenment to which former Buddhas had awakened.”

In the last watch of the night,[55] in the flush of dawn, towards daybreak, he awakened to all that the Man, the True Man, the Great Man, the Bull-man, the Real Man, the Heroic Man, the Elephant-man, the Lion-man, the Leader of men, the Red-lotus Man, the White-lotus Man, the Blue-lotus man, the Sterling Man, the Terrible Man, the peerless Driver of tameable men, the Valiant Man, the Courageous Man, the Solitary Man, (416) the Diligent Man, the Ardent Man, the Secluded Man, the Resolute Man, the Man who abides in the right way, mindful, firm, intelligent, wise, good and zealous, has at all times and everywhere to know, understand, and fully understand. To all this, to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment, he awakened through insight gained in a momentary flash of thought.

Devas who stood near with garlands in their hands asked, “How then? Is the Exalted One’s heart emancipated?” And the Exalted One, knowing in his heart the thought of these devas, on that occasion made this doubt-dispelling solemn utterance to them. “Having cut off craving,” said he, “I have rid myself of defilement. The dried-up āśravas do not flow.[56] The road of craving has been cut off, and is no longer there.[57] This then is the end of ill.”

Then waves of blossoms of divers colours, bright and fragrant, rained down, released from the hands of devas, to salute the king of devas.

To him whose energy is beyond compare, like iron,[58] whose great splendour of birth is like a flame, make obeisance; to him, the honoured of devas and men, the invincible.

When these things become manifest to a zealous and contemplative brāhman, all his doubts disappear,[59] since he understands things and their causes.

This is (the formula of) the arising of things from a cause given in direct order.[60]

(417) When these things become manifest to a zealous and contemplative brāhman, then all his doubts disappear, for he understands the decay of causes.

This is (the formula of) the arising of things from a cause given in the reverse order.[61]

Māra fashioned vicious-minded creatures to break up the throne of the Exalted One. But when the sun rose they all melted away.

And on that occasion the Exalted One made this solemn utterance:—

When these things become manifest to a zealous and contemplative brāhman, the host of Māra is shattered, as the sky is irradiated by the sun.[62]

And when the Exalted One first attained enlightenment he made this solemn utterance:—

Blessed is the fruition of merits; the desire (of the meritorious) is fulfilled. Quickly he attains perfect calm and complete release.

Māra’s devas who stand in front ready for the assault cannot thwart the good man.

The bodies of men of little merit have no strength. He is strong who has attained concentration[63] and is possessed of merit.

If even one who is in the deva-world, the Vaśavartin[64] devas, or a human being, (418) aims at what should not be done,[65] then nothing succeeds for him.

But if on the other hand he seeks Nirvana, the immovable, griefless state, with little difficulty he attains the way that ends ill.

Then the Exalted One said, “Verily, it is he who has subdued the world that can enter upon concentration.[66] This world is torment, and he who takes pleasure in contact with it[67] experiences passion in his self. For men become like unto that by which they are intoxicated.[68] This world clings to becoming,[69] is tainted by becoming and finds its delight in becoming. Where there is becoming, there is ill. It is then, monks, for the sake of checking becoming that the Tathāgata enters upon the good life. For all those who say that there is a way out in the world[70] from becoming will find no way out from it. So I declare. Again, monks, all those who say that there is release in the world from becoming are not free from it. So I declare. The arising of ill is consequent on there being a substrate of existence.[71] With the entire destruction of this substrate, monks, there is no arising of ill. Behold this wide world, given to ignorance, becoming,[72] not free from the arising of becoming. All the becomings that arise in the whole extent of it are impermanent, liable to ill and to change. This is the truth as seen by perfect wisdom. When the craving for becoming is destroyed, there is no longer any delight in it, and the utter cessation of craving is Nirvana. There is no further becoming for him who has passed to Nirvana. Māra is overcome; the battle is won; the foe defeated, and all becoming is transcended.[73]

The Exalted One, perfectly enlightened, had fully realised the end for which he had striven.[74] Wicked Māra, with all his might and his host, had been routed, by the mere sound of his coughing, at the foot of the bodhi tree. When he had thus awakened (419) to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment, had set rolling the noble wheel of dharma, and had gathered together a great following, he stayed at Rājagṛha, teaching devas and men, respected, esteemed, revered, honoured and venerated. He had won the highest gain and honour. He was in possession of the monk’s requisites of robe, bowl, bed, seat, and medicines

for use in sickness. There, spotless like a lotus in water, he exhorted those already possessing merit to acquire further merit, consolidated in fruition those already partaking of it, and confirmed memories of past lives in those already partaking of them. He gave a bounteous share of ambrosia to devas and men, and enabled hundreds of thousands of koṭis of beings to attain immortality. He raised them up from the great abyss, from their evil plight, from the wilderness of the round of rebirth, without beginning or end, in hells and so forth, and established them in repose, bliss, tranquillity, steadfastness, fearlessness, in Nirvana. He converted[75] people from all lands, the people of Aṅga and Magadha, of Vajjī and Malla, of Kāśi and Kośala, of Kuru and Pañcāla, of Ceti, Vatsā and Matsyā, of Śūrasena, of Aśvaka and of Avanti. He was one who manifestly excelled[76] in knowledge. A Self-becoming One, he abode in deva states,[77] in brāhman states, in immovable states, in Āryan states, in durable states. A Buddha, he abode in a Buddha’s states; a Conqueror, he abode in a Conqueror’s states; an expert, he abode in an expert's states, and an Omniscient One, he abode in the states of an Omniscient One. He had gained control over his thoughts, and, in short, the Buddha abode in whatever states appropriate to an Exalted One that he desired.

Footnotes and references:


Two if not three different versions of the episode of Kāla have already been given in the first and second Avalokita-sūtras. Here is yet another and distinct version.


Anigha. See p. 339, n. 1.


Yathā. See p. 250, n. 4.


There is an incoherence in the text here, due either to a lacuna or to a misplacing of the verses; perhaps the latter is more likely, as the passage bears some relation to p. 401 (text).


See p. 126.


Siṃhavikrāntaṃ vikrame. Cf. the similar passage, p. 249.


Pūrvotpāda. See p. 245, n. 3.


Reading yugyotpāda for yugot°. See p. 245, n. 4.


See p. 245, n. 5.


The text repeats all the details.


An unknown bird. The leading seems certain here and below.


The quotation does not commence strictly at the right place, for the verses themselves start with an introduction to the eulogy.


The text here cannot be right. The MSS. read janikṣayāya, where, as Senart suggests, jani may be Pali for jyāni, and the compound could thus mean “for the end and destruction of (for) all creatures (sarvasatvāna)” But such an expression is utterly foreign to Buddhist language, and Senart emends into jinapāramitāye, “for (in) the perfection of a Conqueror.” We would thus have “thou wilt awaken (lit. awakest) to a course of life (caritaṃ budhyasi) in the perfection of a Conqueror,” which leaves sarvasatvāna (g. pl.) difficult, if not impossible, to construe. In these circumstances it is suggested that the original reading was janakāyasyārthāya, “for the sake of the multitude of men,” which may render it possible to take sarvasatvāna as a genitive dependent on arthāya implied from the preceding compound. The fifth syllable is long instead of short, both in this emendation as well as in Senart’s.


Literally “as by former (Buddhas),” purimehi yathā.


? Pattri, not mentioned in the passage, p. 356, of which this is a repetition.


Svastikakāle. Senart, however, suggests that the meaning may be, “when he saw Svastika” (see p. 126), but it is difficult to see why this one incident among the many which marked the occasion of the Buddha’s coming to the bodhi tree should be singled out here.


Literally “with gentle webs,” mṛdūhi jālehi. Senart, however, interprets with reference to the interlacing of the stalks of the straw as it was arranged to form a bed.


The text has the present virocasi.


Literally, “the āśravas (-tainted) heart,” sāśravaṃ cittam. Cf. Pali sāsava, e.g. D. 3. 112, iddhi yā sāsavā “super-normal power which is concomitant with the mental intoxicants.” (Dial. 3. 106.)


Vibhotsyasi (vibhavati).


“One speaking against,” prativaktā.


Saṃrāgeti for saṃrādhayati. Cf. ārāgeti for ārādhayati, p. 330, n. 2.




Vidhamati, Pali id., from vidhmā, intransitive use, “blow itself out.” Cf. J. 1.284.


? tiryaṃ va drumavarasya samīpe, “across near the tree,” tiryaṃ being interpreted as = Pali tiriyam, Sk., tiryañc. Or, is tiryam here = “a bird” (animal)? If so, the meaning would be “like a bird,” qualifying girāṃ pramuñci.


Ūhanāmi, Pali from ud-han.


These two verses are misplaced here; they should come at the end of Kāla’s eulogy on the preceding page.


This group of five saṃjñās does not seem to be mentioned in Pali texts.


This sentence, as Senart observes, is obviously an interpolation here. He compares Yājñavālkya 1. 345.


Puṇḍarīka. See p. 224, n. 8.


Nirargaḍa. See p. 224, n. 7.


The line is incomplete. Kāmakānām, with which it ends is also obviously incorrect, but suggests an original kāmānām.


The text has kruhi, which is inexplicable, and is probably a contaminated form affected by the next word karohi. It has been assumed in the translation the original word was some form of śru.


Te, acc. dependent on verbal notion in anapekṣa. But the identical expression in the next stanza could be rendered “I am indifferent to them,” i.e. te can there be acc. pl. of 3rd pers. pronoun, referring to kāmā. But here the antecedent substantive is fem. sg.


Lacuna. The simile of the elephant breaking its bonds is found also at Sn. 29 and Thīg. 301.


Varaṃ puram, sc. Nirvana. See p. 143.


See vol. I. p. 192, n. 4.


Īśvara madakara.


Reading °varā for °varo.


Literally “(speech,) the perfection of appropriateness,” (vacanaṃ) ākalpakoṭi.




See p. 308.


Āśīviṣa, Pali āsīvisa, of which the BSk. (also āsīviṣa) is a Sanskritisation. (See P E.D.)


Gocara. Perhaps the rendering should be extended into a paraphrase, “one whose pasture is pure.” Cf. the similar use of gocara in Pali, e.g. Dh. 22, ariyānaṃ gocare ratā, “finding delight in the pasture of the good,” and ib. 92 vimokho yesaṃ gocaro, “whose pasture is liberty.”


Bhiṇḍipāla, Sk. bhindipālā, Pali bhindivāla, Prk. bhiṇḍimāla and °vāla. See P.E.D. for references.


Cakra, “a sharp, circular missile weapon, especially applied to the favourite weapon of Viṣṇu.” (M.W.)


Karaṅka, must be taken in its literal sense, as there is no evidence that the word was ever used as the name of a particular kind of weapon.


Śīrṣakaroṭi, practically synonymous with karaṅka. The word translated “carrying” in this passage is gṛhya, which, if the application were to living things only might be rendered “leading.”


Uggiramāna, Pali uggirati, Sk. udgurate.


The text repeats the description of the hand given above.


Lujje and pralujje. See p. 323 n 4.


See vol. I, p. 221, n. 1.


Literally, “spoke out,” “The victory is the prince’s,” supplying iti with vācamudīrayanti vijayo pārthivasya.


Reading vyāmaprabha for vyoma° of the text. Cf. Pali byāmappabha.


For this passage cf. Vol. 1, p. 185, and notes.


For the applicability of śuṣka, “dry,” and sravati, “flow,” to the āśravas see Vol. 1, p. 49, n. 2.


Chinnaṃ vartmaṃ na vartati. Cf. 5. 4. 52 chinnavaṭuma, where the Com. explains vaṭuma as being for taṇhā-vaṭuma. Hence the translation.




Senart prints vyapanenti, which he interprets as being from vi-apa-eti apparently regarding the first n as excrescent. But it is better to emend this verb, into vyapayanti, which would correspond to the Pali vapayanti (vi-apa-yā) of the same stanza as found at V. 1. 2.


Anulomo pratītyasamutpāda: Cf. V. 1. 1. This is obviously an interpolated remark by a scholiast who remembered that in V. the stanza just quoted followed the statement of the paṭiccasamuppāda, but who did not realise that his context was different.


Pratiloma: pratītyasamutpāda: See preceding note.


This stanza as it occurs in V. 1.2 is slightly different—vidhūpayaṃ tiṭṭhati... Mārasenaṃ—“he stands dispelling the host of Māra.”


The text here is not above suspicion. As printed it reads balavāṃ bhoti samādhī sambhāravatāṃ sapuṇyavatāṃ, which could be rendered “what is strong is the concentration of those who concentrate (? sambhāravatām) and of those who have merit.” If the text is correct we would seem to have a unique example of an adjective meaning” he who concentrates,” viz. sambhāravant. But such a word does not seem to be known. Senart lists it in his index, but has no note on it. Besides the context is concerned with the strength of persons not of abstract qualities. In these circumstances, it is tentatively proposed to read balavāṃ bhoti samādhīṃ samāpadyamāno sapuṇyavān. Or, perhaps, some form of (sam)bhāvayati could be substituted for samāpadyamāno.


Vasavartino = Vaśavartino.


I.e. in “body, speech, and thought.”


Reading lokavijito... samādhīṃ samāpadyats for lokavijitaṃ... samādhis.


The text here can not be right. It reads sparśoparato rāgaṃ vedeti ātmano, which would mean “he who has ceased to be in touch with it (sc. the world) experiences passion of self.” If this reading is retained, the sense would obviously require the insertion of na, “not,” with vedeti. But it would seem simpler and more in keeping with the context to emend sparśa-uparata into sparśa-abhirata (or avarata), “he who delights in touch.”


Literally, “By what men are intoxicated from that there is no difference,” yena yena hi madyanti tato na bhavati anyathā. Senart’s interpretation is different: “ce n’est pas de ce dont ils s’enivrent (c’est-à-dire des objets des sens qui éveillent en eux le désir, rāga) que peut venir pour les hommes le changement (c’est-à-dire la déliverance).” But, he adds,” la construction est bien pénible.”




Bhavana. Miss I. B. Horner calls the translator’s attention to a striking parallel to this passage in Ud. 33. The two passages are so similar that they must be directly from the same source. The Mhvu. text, also, generally supports the emendations which Woodward, on the basis of Netti. and the Comy., makes in the Ud. text. (See Verses of Uplift, 40). But his emendation of vibhavataṇhā’ bhinandati into vibhavam nābhinandati, which gives the obscure rendering “he joys not in its slaying,” should be still further emended into bhavam na abhinandati, “he joys not in becoming,” as in the Mhvu.


Upadhi. See Vol. 1, passim.




The translation is conjectural only. Senart adopts the “simple” reading apatyakta, which, he says, has taken the place of a lectio difficilior, upetyagā. He admits that apatyakta cannot be correct (the compound apa-tyaj is not found), but he cannot suggest a better reading. Possibly, upetyagā hides some form of upa-ati-gā, “to escape”, i.e. (cf. Pali upaccagā), which might have been mistaken for a compound of tyaj.


For this passage, with the exception of the allusion to Māra, cf. Vol. 1, p. 29.


Āvarjayati, cf. Pali āvajjeti.




Vihāra. Cf. Vol. 1, p. 30. A comparable passage at A. 3. 28-9, has āyatana for vihāra.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: