The Mahavastu (great story)

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

This page describes former buddhas which is Chapter XXI 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 XXI - Former Buddhas

Note: In the colophon this sūtra is styled bahubuddhasūtra, the “Sūtra of the Many Buddhas.” A sūtra of the same title is given in vol. 1, p. 46 ff, but the subject is only cursorily dealt with there. See vol. 1 (trans.), p. 46, n. 2.

The Exalted One, the perfect Buddha, having fully realised the aim he had set himself, was staying at Śrāvastī, in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍa’s[1] park, and teaching devas and men. He was respected, esteemed, revered, honoured and venerated, and so on up to[2] he had won control over his heart.[3] And in whatever states exalted Buddhas desire to abide, in these do they abide. (225) Their hearts are upright, gentle, supple, composed, loving, controlled, calm, free, pure, stainless, honest, steady, firm, rid of attachment, not clinging, incorrupt, sober, like the earth, like water, like fire, like air,[4] soft as kācilinda[5] is to the touch, like Indra’s column, and emancipated. Their knowledge is emancipated.[6] They have removed obstacles;[7] they are not fenced in[8] nor obstructed. They are the best of those who have the dharma as their banner, the best of brahmans, nobles, young householders. They are versed in the Vedas. They speak what is true, profitable, certain, unequivocal, not what is false and untrue. [Therefore the Tathāgata is so named because he does not speak what is not true.][9]

Now there the Exalted One said to the venerable Ānanda, “With only one bowl of alms, Ānanda, I am going to sit here for three months and abide in the states of former Tathā-gatas, Arhans and perfect Buddhas. No one is to intrude on me in any way.” “So be it, Lord,” said the venerable Ānanda in obedience to the Exalted One.

So the Exalted One sat there for three months with one bowl of alms, abiding in the states of former Tathāgatas, Arhans and perfect Buddhas.

Then when the three months were over the Exalted One emerged in the evening from his seclusion. Coming out of his hut[10] he sat down cross-legged. Now the venerable Ānanda saw the Exalted One sitting down cross-legged in the shelter of his hut,[11] and on seeing him, he went to him, bowed at his feet, and sat down to one side. As he thus sat down on one side, he said to the Exalted One, “The Exalted One’s faculties are calm and sublime, his complexion is clear, and his face is shining. Verily, the Exalted One is abiding in sublime states.”

When this had been spoken, the Exalted One said to Ānanda, “Even so, Ānanda, when he so wishes, Ānanda, the Tathāgata can sit down with one bowl of alms for the katya or (226) or what is left of the kalpa. And why? Because, Ānanda, it was so in the case of[12] former Tathāgatas, Arhans and perfect Buddhas who abode in these states, inasmuch as they had won the perfection[13] of charity, morality, forbearance, energy, meditation and knowledge.

An incalculable infinite kalpa ago there lived a Tathāgata, Arhan and perfect Buddha named Indradhvaja.[14] Now, Ānanda, the royal city of the Tathāgata, Arhan and perfect Buddha Indradhvaja was named Indratapanā, which was twelve yojanas long from east to west and seven wide from south to north.[15] It was encircled by seven ramparts made of gold and faced with gold.

Again, Ānanda, the royal city of Indratapanā was surrounded by seven rows of bright and beautiful palm-trees, made of the seven precious substances, gold, silver, pearl, beryl, crystal, white coral, and ruby. When the trunk was of gold the leaves and fruit were of silver. When the trunk was of silver the leaves and fruit were of pearl; when the trunk was of pearl, the leaves and fruit were of beryl; when the trunk was of beryl the leaves and fruit were of white coral; when the trunk was of white coral the leaves and fruit were of ruby, and when the trunk was of ruby the leaves, and fruit were of gold. And, Ānanda, when these palm-trees were stirred and shaken by the wind, there was a rustling sound[16] that was gentle, pleasant and charming, not grating on the ears, but like the sound of the five musical instruments, played in harmony by expert performers.[17] (227) And so, Ānanda, in the royal city of Indratapanā men then were intoxicated[18] by the music of the leaves of the palm-trees, and, endowed and provided with the five strands of sensual desires they diverted, enjoyed and amused themselves.

Again, Ānanda, the royal city of Indratapanā was encircled by seven bright and beautiful railings[19] made of the seven precious substances, gold, silver, pearl, beryl, crystal, white coral and ruby. Where the pillar was of gold, the cross-bars, the supports and the base were of silver; where the pillar was of silver, they[20] were of pearl; where the pillar was of pearl, they were of beryl; where the pillar was of beryl, they were of crystal; where the pillar was of crystal, they were of white coral; where the pillar was of white coral, they were of ruby, and where the pillar was of ruby, they were of gold.

Again, Ānanda, these railings were faced with two net-like fabrics, one of gold and the other of silver. On the gold network there were bells of silver, and on the silver network golden bells.

Again, Ānanda, the royal city of Indratapanā had three gates (228) on each side, bright and beautiful and made of the seven precious substances, gold, silver, pearl, beryl, crystal, white coral and ruby. These gates, Ānanda, had roofs of tiles[21] made of the two precious metals, gold and silver. These gates had steps made of the two precious metals, gold and silver. The floor beneath[22] these gates was made of the two precious metals, gold and silver. These gates had beams made of the two precious metals, gold and silver. They had paṭimodakas[23] made of the two precious metals, gold and silver. They had buttresses[24] made of the two precious metals, gold and silver.

Again, Ānanda, these gates had opening panels[25] made of the four precious substances, gold, silver, pearl and beryl; They were faced with plates[26] made of the two precious metals, gold and silver.

Again, Ānanda, these gates had shrines for relics[27] made of the two precious metals, gold and silver. In front of these gates pillars[28] were erected, which were embedded in the ground to the depth of three men’s length, were three men’s length high, and twelve men’s length in diameter.[29] They were bright and beautiful, made of the seven precious substances, gold, silver, pearl, beryl, crystal, white coral and ruby.

Again, Ānanda, these gates were covered with two net-like fabrics, one of gold and the other of silver. On the golden net-like fabric (229) were bells of silver and on the silver one golden bells. And, Ānanda, when these net-like fabrics were stirred and shaken by the wind, they gave out a sound that was gentle, pleasant and charming, not grating on the ear. It was just like the sound of the five musical instruments played in harmony by expert performers.[30]

Again, Ānanda, the royal city of Indratapanā was full of such sounds as those of elephants, horses, chariots, infantry, drums, cymbals, trumpets, flutes, lutes, songs and musical instruments. It was full of cries bidding men to eat, consume, drink, give gifts, live righteously, and of cries of welcome to recluses and brahmans.

Again, Ānanda, in the centre of the royal city of Indratapanā there was a pillar named Valayā, which was bright and beautiful, and made of the seven precious substances, gold, silver, pearl, beryl, crystal, white coral, and ruby. It was twelve yojanas high and embedded in the ground to the depth of four.

This did the Exalted One say. And when he had so spoken the Master went on to say more. “There was a Master,” said he, “named Indradhvaja, golden of countenance, distinguished by hundreds of virtues.

“He was a seer of great power, a Leader of the Saṅgha. He instructed seven hundred koṭis.

“(230) He, the honoured Leader of a crowd of recluses, entered the well-built city of Indratapanā.”

Now, Ānanda, the Tathāgata, Arhan and perfect Buddha Indradhvaja proclaimed the Tathāgata, Arhan and perfect Buddha Mahādhvaja. Mahādhvaja proclaimed Dhvajottama.[31] Dhvajottama proclaimed Dhvajarucira. Dhvajarucira proclaimed Dhvajaketu. Dhvajaketu proclaimed Ketudhvaja. Ketudhvaja proclaimed Dhvajadhvaja. Dhvajadhvaja proclaimed Dhvajamaparājita. Dhvajamaparājita proclaimed Aparājita. Aparājita proclaimed Supratāpa. Supratāpa proclaimed Pradīpa. Pradīpa proclaimed Supratiṣṭhita. Supratiṣṭhita proclaimed Nāgamuni. Nāgamuni proclaimed Mahāmuni. Mahāmuni proclaimed Munipravara. Munipravara proclaimed Saṃvṛtaskandha. Saṃvṛtaskandha proclaimed Bandhuma. (231) Bandhuma proclaimed Ariṣṭa. Ariṣṭa proclaimed Vijitāvin. Vijitāvin proclaimed Krakucchanda. Krakucchanda proclaimed Asamasama. Asamasama proclaimed Prabhaṅkara. Prabhaṅkara proclaimed Oghaja. Oghaja proclaimed Mahābala. Mahābala proclaimed Sujāta. Sujāta proclaimed Pāraṅgata. Pāraṅgata proclaimed Mahāprasāda. Mahāprasāda proclaimed Sukhendriya. Sukhendriya proclaimed Nakṣatrarāja. Nakṣatrarāja proclaimed Śatapuṣpa. Śatapuṣpa proclaimed Viraja. Viraj a proclaimed Brahmasvara. Brahmasvara proclaimed Śirasāhvaya.

Now, Ānanda, when Śirasāhvaya was the Tathāgata the capital city was named Puṣpāvatī. It was twelve yojanas long from east to west and seven wide from south to north. It was surrounded by seven walls of gold faced with gold and encircled by seven rows of palm-trees which were bright and beautiful,[32] and so on up to when the trunk of the palm-tree was of gold the leaves and fruit were of silver. And, Ānanda, when the palm-trees were stirred and shaken by the wind they gave forth a gentle and charming sound. The people (232) in the royal city of Puṣpāvatī were intoxicated[33] by the music of the leaves and fruit, and, endowed and provided with the five strands of sensual desires, they diverted, enjoyed and amused themselves.

Again, Ānanda, the royal city of Puṣpāvatī was encircled by seven railings, bright and beautiful, made of the seven precious substances, and so on as in the case of the royal city of Indratapanā.[34] The royal city of Puṣpāvatī[35] was full of such sounds as those of elephants, horses, chariots, infantry, drums, tabours, cymbals, trumpets, flutes, lutes, songs and music. It was full of cries bidding men to eat, consume, drink, give gifts, and live righteously, and of cries of welcome to recluses and brahmans. This royal city had a pillar named Valayā, bright and beautiful, and made of the seven precious substances, gold, silver, pearl, beryl, crystal, white coral and ruby. It was twelve yojanas high and embedded in the earth to the depth of four.

This did the Exalted One say. And when he had so spoken the Master went on to say more. “In the succession of these Buddhas,” said he, “Śirasāhvaya was the last.”[36]

“He was a seer of great power, a Leader of the Saṅgha. He instructed seven hundred koṭis. He, the honoured leader of a crowd of recluses, entered the well-built city of Puṣpāvatī.”

Now, Ānanda, the Tathāgata Śirasāhvaya proclaimed the Tathāgata Nāgakulottama. (233) Nāgakulottama proclaimed Kṣamottara. Kṣamottara proclaimed Nāgottama. Nāgottama proclaimed Aṅgottama. Aṅgottama proclaimed Vāsava. Vāsava proclaimed Candrima. Candrima proclaimed Hetumanta. Hetumanta proclaimed Jinendra. Jinendra proclaimed Jāmbunada. Jāmbunada proclaimed Tagaraśikhi. Tagaraśikhi proclaimed Paduma. Paduma proclaimed Kauṇḍinyagotra. Kauṇḍinyagotra proclaimed the Tathāgata also named Kauṇḍinyagotra.

This did the Exalted One say. And when he had so spoken, the Master went on to say more. “In the succession of these Buddhas the last was Kauṇḍinyagotra.

“These three hundred sublime Buddhas were all named Kauṇḍinyagotra.

“They were seers of great power, Leaders of the Saṅgha, in that one kalpa which is named Upala. Thrice three hundred koṭis was the great assembly of their disciples.

(234) “Thrice three hundred years was the term of life of their disciples, and the true dharma survived for twenty-three[37] thousand years after they had passed away.”

Now, Ānanda, the last Tathāgata named Kauṇḍinyagotra proclaimed the Tathāgata Candana. Candana proclaimed Viraja. Viraja proclaimed Hiteṣin. Hiteṣin proclaimed Supātra. And, Ānanda, when Supātra was the Tathāgata, the royal city was named Abhayapurā. It was twelve yojanas long from east to west[38] and seven wide from south to north. It was surrounded by seven walls of gold and encircled by seven rows of palm trees, bright and beautiful and made of the seven precious substances.

In short, it is to be described in exactly the same way as Puṣpāvatī. There, too, was a pillar named Valayā which was bright and beautiful and made of the seven precious substances. And, Ānanda, the Tathāgata and perfect Buddha Supātra lived on for a full hundred kalpas contemplating the way of the dharma.[39] He proclaimed the Tathāgata Varuṇa.

This did the Exalted One say. And when he had so spoken, the Master went on to say more. “The Master Supātra,” said he, “perfect in beneficence and compassion and contemplating the way of the true dharma lived on for a full hundred kalpas, and instructed thirty-two nayutas of koṭis.”

After he had preached the word of the renowned calm[40] he proclaimed the Tathāgata Varuṇottama. (235) Varaṇottama proclaimed Dhṛtarāṣṭra. Dhṛtarāṣṭra proclaimed Śveturāṣṭra. Śveturāṣṭra proclaimed Śikhin. Śikhin proclaimed the Tathāgata who was also named Śikhin.

In the succession of these Buddhas sixty-two were named Śikhin. All lived in the kalpa of Paduma.[41]

Mighty in power, routing the hosts of their enemies they instructed[42] many[43] disciples in the true way.[44]

The last Tathāgata, Ānanda, proclaimed the Tathāgata Virūḍhaka. Virūḍhaka proclaimed Sunetra. Sunetra proclaimed Sujāta. Sujāta in the course of one single day[45] instructed eighty-four thousand nayutas of disciples, and on the same day he passed entirely away. And, Ānanda, the true dharma of that Tathāgata survived for thirty thousand years.

This did the Exalted One say. And when he had so spoken, the Master went on to say still more.

Now, Ānanda, the Tathāgata Sujāta proclaimed the Tathāgata Utpala. Utpala proclaimed Brahmottama. Brahmottama proclaimed Sudarśana. And, Ānanda, when Sudarśana was the Tathāgata the royal capital was named Devapurā.

It was twelve yojanas long and seven wide. It was surrounded by seven walls of gold (236), and encircled by seven rows of palm-trees, bright and beautiful, made of the seven precious substances. It is to be described in the same way as Abhayapurā.

In the succession of these Buddhas Sudarśana was the last. Mighty in power, Leader of a host of men, he instructed three hundred koṭis. He, the honoured Leader of a throng of disciples, entered the well-built city of Devapurā.

Now, Ānanda, the Tathāgata Sudarśana proclaimed the Tathāgata Arthadarśin. Arthadarśin proclaimed Mūla. Mūla proclaimed Auṣaḍhin. Auṣaḍhin proclaimed Hiteṣin. Hiteṣin proclaimed Jāmbūnada. Jāmbūnada proclaimed Sāla. Sāla proclaimed Abhijita. Abhijita proclaimed Jinavaruttama. Jinavaruttama proclaimed Sammatabhadra. Sammatabhadra proclaimed Śaśivimala. Śaśivimala proclaimed Pauṇḍarīka. Pauṇḍarīka proclaimed Candrima. Candrima proclaimed Bhāvitātman. Bhāvitātman (237) proclaimed Oghaja. Oghaja proclaimed Abhaya. Abhaya proclaimed Svayamprabha.

Svayamprabha proclaimed Mahābala. Mahābala proclaimed Āditya. Āditya proclaimed Pratāpavanta. Pratāpavanta proclaimed Hiteṣin. Hiteṣin proclaimed Dhvajottama. Dhvajottama proclaimed Dhvajadhvaja. Dhvajadhvaja proclaimed Ketu. Ketu proclaimed Ketūttama. Ketūttama proclaimed Asahya. Asahya proclaimed Jāmbūnada. Jāmbūnada proclaimed Sālarāja. Sālarāja proclaimed Akutobhaya. Akutobhaya proclaimed Nirmita. Nirmita proclaimed Upaśānta. Upaśānta proclaimed Jinendra. Jinendra proclaimed the Tathāgata who was also named Jinendra.

In the succession of these Buddhas the last was named Jinendra. There were three hundred of these sublime Buddhas all named Jinendra.

Mighty in power were they, Leaders of a host of seers: in that one kalpa of Mahāyaśa, thrice three hundred koṭis was the great assembly of these Leaders.

(238) Thrice three thousand years was the term of life of these Leaders, and thrice thirty thousand years did the true dharma survive after they had passed entirely away.

Now, Ānanda, the last Tathāgata named Jinendra proclaimed the Tathāgata Sarvārthadarśin. Sarvārthadarśin lived on in the world for a thousand kalpas contemplating the way of the true dharma. And then he proclaimed Aśoka. Aśoka proclaimed Dhvajottama. Dhvajottama proclaimed Nyagrodharāja. Nyagrodharāja proclaimed Vipulayaśa. Vipulayaśa proclaimed Jayanta. Jayanta proclaimed Śākyamuni. And, Ānanda, when Śākyamuni was the Tathāgata and perfect Buddha the royal capital was named Siṃhapurī. It was twelve yojanas long and seven wide. It was surrounded by seven walls of gold, and encircled by seven rows of palm-trees, bright and beautiful, and made of the seven precious substances. It is to be described in the same way as Indratapanā. In Siṃhapurī there was a column named Valayā, which is to be described as above.

In the succession of these Buddhas, Śākyamuni was the last. Mighty in power, Leader of a host of seers, he instructed three hundred koṭis. He, the honoured Leader of a throng of recluses, entered the well-built city of Siṃhapurī.

(239) Now, Ānanda, the Tathāgata Śākyamuni proclaimed the Tathāgata Sarvadaya. Sarvadaya proclaimed Atyuttama. Atyuttama proclaimed Uttara. Uttara proclaimed Samitāvin.[46]

The Tathāgata Samitāvin lived on in the world for a full thousand kalpas, contemplating the way of the dharma. And then he proclaimed the Tathāgata Baladatta. Baladatta proclaimed Bhāgīratha. Bhāgīratha proclaimed Aṅgīrasa. Aṅgīrasa proclaimed Nāgottama. Nāgottama proclaimed Nāgabala. Nāgabala proclaimed Puṣpa. Puṣpa proclaimed Puṣputtara. Puṣputtara proclaimed Meru. Meru proclaimed Ratnāgni. Ratnāgni proclaimed Puṣpakṛta. Puṣpakṛta proclaimed Dīpaṃkara. And, Ānanda, when Dīpaṃkara was the Tathāgata the royal capital was Dīpavatī. It was twelve yojanas long and seven wide. It was surrounded by seven walls of gold and encircled by seven rows of palm-trees, bright and beautiful, and made of the seven precious substances. The whole description is to be made as before.

In the succession of these Buddhas, Dīpaṃkara was the last. Mighty in power, Leader of a host of seers, he instructed eighty thousand disciples. He, the honoured Leader of a throng of recluses, entered the well-built city of Dīpavtī.

(240) Now, Ānanda, the Tathāgata Dīpaṃkara proclaimed the Tathāgata Sarvābhibhū. Sarvābhibhū proclaimed Padumuttara. Padumuttara proclaimed Atyuccagāmin. Atyuccagāmin proclaimed Yaśottara. Yaśottara proclaimed Śākyamuni. Śākyamuni proclaimed Arthadarśi. Arthadarśi proclaimed Tiṣya. Tiṣya proclaimed Puṣya. Puṣya proclaimed Vipaśyin. Vipaśyin proclaimed Śikhin. Śikhin proclaimed Viśvabhū. Viśvabhū proclaimed Krakucchanda. Krakucchanda proclaimed Konākamuni. Konākamuni proclaimed Kāśyapa. Kāśyapa proclaimed Śākyamuni. And I who am Śākyamuni have proclaimed Maitreya. Now, when Maitreya will be the Tathāgata the royal capital will be[47] named Ketumatī. It will be twelve yojanas long and seven wide. It will be surrounded by seven walls of gold, and encircled by seven rows of palm-trees, bright and beautiful, and made of the seven precious substances.

The whole previous description will apply to it.

In the succession of these Buddhas the last will be Maitreya. Mighty in power, the Leader of a host of seers, he will instruct seven hundred koṭis. He, the honoured Leader of a throng of recluses, will enter the well-built city of Ketumatī.

(241) He who recounts the extolled Buddhas,[48] the drivers of tameable men, from Īndradhvaja on to the future Maitreya, he, the Master, Ānanda, shines like the sun, as, in the Aśoka Grove, he questions the Lion-man, who is splendid in majesty, the Conqueror who has conquered the lusts, saying,

“Wonderful is the Exalted One’s fame, wonderful is his glory in all the regions of the world. What deed did the Exalted One perform that he now shines in the world of men and of devas?”

When he heard this, the Great Sage, who had utterly destroyed the sting of doubt,[49] the Choice Being, with unimpeded speech made reply,

“Hear, O Ānanda, what the root of virtue was like which I planted among Buddhas and their disciples, as I passed through my various lives.

“Whilst I was aiming at enlightenment and seeking the eternal abode, right good service did I render them with enraptured heart.

“When Dīpaṃkara was the Buddha, O Ānanda, and when Sarvābhibhū and Padumottara and Atyuccagāmin were the Buddhas;

“When the Buddhas were Yaśottara, Śākyamuni,[50] Arthadarśi, Tiṣya, Puṣya, the Best of Men, and Vipaśyin, the perfect Buddha;

“When the Buddhas were Śikhin,[51] Krakucchanda the greatly wise, Konākamuni and Kāśyapa, right great service did I render them with enraptured heart.

(242) “Mighty in power were they, infinite in wisdom,[52] famed throughout the world. These sublime Buddhas did I honour, and hence, O Ānanda, I now prevail.

“Hence is my glory unequalled and my fame gone forth in all regions of the world. Hence do I shine in the worlds of men, of devas, and of Brahmā.”

When he had heard these words spoken by the truthful Guide of the world, Ānanda, in gladness and in exaltation of heart, further asked,

“How long ago[53] did these Buddhas achieve superiority[54] in the world? For how long did they live on for the sake of the whole world?

“For thus does the golden-bright Buddha, in rapture and joy tell the praises of the great Seers, the Buddhas of long ago.

“For thus does the Buddha, who has insight into the highest good, and is the equal and peer of Buddhas, reveal the wondrous power[55] of all Buddhas.”

“The sphere of Buddhas,” said he, “is beyond thought, beyond compare and beyond measure.” “Enraptured was I, Lord, on hearing these immortal words.

“Infinite was the gain to the worlds of men and of devas and of Brahmā when he said that the sphere of the Buddhas was beyond the thought of others.

“That one Śākyan prince, offspring of Śākyans, of the highest Śākyan stock, the joy of the Śākyan clan, the Buddha, with those words[56] woke the world to truth.”

“After Dīpaṃkara, O Ānanda, a full koṭi of kalpas passed, (243) and then the Daśabala[57] Sarvābhibhū arose as a Light of the world.[58]

“When the Leader Sarvābhibhū had passed to his bourne, a hundred thousand kalpas afterwards the Daśabala Padumottara arose.

“When the Sugata Padumottara had passed entirely away, a hundred thousand kalpas afterwards the Exalted One, Atyuccagāmin, appeared.

“When the Saviour Atyuccagāmin had passed entirely away, having won fame throughout the world, five hundred kalpas afterwards there arose the Buddha Yaśottara.

“When the Buddha Yaśottara had passed away, a hundred kalpas afterwards there arose in the blind and lost world the valiant Buddha Śākyamuni.

“When the perfect Buddha Śākyamuni had passed away, Arthadarśin arose. Nine and ninety kalpas afterwards, O Ānanda, did he arise.

“Five and ninety kalpas afterwards the Light of the world Tiṣya arose; two and ninety kalpas after him the valiant man Puṣya arose in the world.

“Eighty-nine kalpas afterwards Vipaśyin arose in the world; thirty kalpas afterwards arose Śikhin and Viśvahhū.

“(Then there followed) the great light Krakucchanda, Konākamuni and the glorious Kāśyapa. And in the same[59] auspicious kalpa,[60] I also arose, O Ānanda.

“And I have proclaimed that in a future age in this kalpa there will he a high-minded, mighty Buddha named Maitreya.

“For a whole kalpa did the exalted Dīpaṃkara live on in the world; Sarvābhibhū also lived on for a kalpa for the sake of the world.

“Padumottara lived on in the world for a full koṭi of years. (244) The exalted Atyuccagāmin lived on for a hundred thousand years.

“Yaśottara lived on for ninety thousand years, Arthadarśin for...[61], Tiṣya for ninety-five thousand, and Puṣya for ninety-two.

“In those days of yore the life of the Buddha Vipaśyin was eighty thousand years, and that of Śikhin seventy thousand.

“In those days of yore the life of Viśvabhū was sixty thousand years,[62] that of Krakucchanda fifty thousand, that of Konākamuni thirty thousand, and that of Kāśyapa twenty thousand.

“And now, Ānanda, the measure of the life of me who am sovereign of the Śākyans in this insignificant world is one hundred years.

“Some thrived[63] on their magic power, others on their deeds; but then putting aside their magic power and their deeds, they passed away in the middle of their sojourn in heaven.[64]

“Like the blazing sun when it is high in the sky in autumn, so did Dīpaṃkara stand with his radiance pervading a hundred yojanas.

“Irradiating all the world, teaching the dharma which so rarely appears, he lit up the world, and hence was he so named.

“The Daśabala Sarvābhibhū prevailed over thousands of koṭis of beings, and led them to the immortal Way. Hence was he styled ‘invincible’.

“Padumottara went to the park in his fair city, and there enjoyed himself in the pool.[65] (245) In the pool he saw a lotus growing as big as a chariot wheel.

“He climbed on to this and sat down there cross-legged. And while the large lotus was fading away he attained the five super-knowledges.

“And when he was in possession of the five super-knowledges he rose up in the air by his magic power. Leaning against the foot of the bodhi tree the Daśabala won omniscience.

“When the exalted Atyuccagāmin stood up he was as tall as a palm-tree. Hence was he called ‘the exceeding high one’.

“Wide-spread was the teaching of Yaśottara, who tamed the untamed. Infinite was this Exalted One’s glory. Hence was he styled ‘he whose glory is superior’.

“The Śākyan of Gotama’s clan left his prosperous and rich city and renounced the seven treasures.[66] Hence was he styled ‘the Śākyan sage’.

“Arthadarśin instructed hundreds of disciples in what is good and in Arhatship. Hence was this Conqueror styled in the world ‘he whose gaze is on what is good’.

“The Light of the world, Tiṣya, was born during the festival of Tiṣya[67]; he who dispels the darkness in the world was thus called Tiṣya.

“The Light of the world, Puṣya, was born during the festival of Puṣya. Hence was he called Puṣya in the world after that constellation,[68]

“With the insight of his watchful and all-seeing eye, Vipaśyin saw that forms were impermanent.[69] Vipaśyin means pure of sight. Hence came his name Vipaśyin.

(246) “A guardian of the earth, he ordained what is good and the rules that produce what is good.[70] Hence the Exalted One was styled Vipaśyin.[71]

“When the Conqueror Vipaśyin awoke to enlightenment he looked out on this world and perceived that it was in a state of trouble.[72] Hence was he called Vipaśyin.

“Śikhin was so called because at his birth the lock of hair[73] on his head glearned exceeding brilliantly like a blazing fire fanned by the wind.

“When the lord of Conquerors Viśvabhū was born it rained in a continuous downpour. So the report went forth that his name was Viśvabhū.[73]

“The exalted Krakucchanda and Konākamuni, and the glorious Kāśyapa were so named by their parents after the names of their clans.

“The splendid kinsman of the sun,[75] the Supreme, the Exalted One, the Foremost of Men, was by birth a noble, sprung from Ikṣvāku’s line.

“And then in a brahman’s unconquered and rich household, a brahman will renounce his plentiful pleasures and go forth to the religious life.

“In a prosperous household and one well adorned with wisdom[76] Maitreya will appear in the world in a future age.

“In his first assembly[77] there will be ninety-six koṭis, all of them Arhans who have won self-control and shed their passions. In his second assembly there will be ninety-four koṭis, (247) all of them Arhans who have won self-control and shed their passions. In his third assembly there will be ninety-two koṭis, all of them Arhans who have won self-control and shed their passions.

“The greatly wise Dīpaṃkara was by birth a noble. The Daśabala Sarvābhibhū was by birth a brāhman.

“The Daśabala Padumottara was by birth a noble, while the Exalted One Atyuccagāmin was by birth a brāhman.

“Yaśottara and[78] Śākyamuni were by birth nobles; Arthadarśin, Tiṣya, and the supreme of men, Puṣya, were by birth brahmans, great seers who made their selves to grow.

“Vipaśyin, Śikhin, and Viśvabhū were nobles, and Krakutsanda,[79] Konākamuni and Kāśyapa brāhmans.

“The son of King Śuddhodana of Ikṣvākus line by Māyā, he who brings joy to the Śākyans, was a Śākyan gently brought up.

“Maitreya will he be called who, free of passion, liberated, emancipated of heart, with a retinue of a hundred koṭis will pervade the worlds of men and of the lords of the Suras.[80]

“These Supreme of men arise in one of two kinds of families, either in a family of nobles or in one of brahmans.

“For when nobles are reputed foremost in the world, then are the Buddhas, the Supreme of men, born in a noble family.

(248) “And when brāhmans are refuted for their worth in the world, then are the Buddhas, the Great Seers, born in a family of brāhmans.

“Whilst I was questing after the supreme enlightenment, I saw Dīpaṃkara, the world’s Foremost Man, at a crossroads, wearing matted hair, and in my exultation I lauded him.

“Whilst I was questing after the supreme enlightenment, I took some flowers of gold and reverently showered them on Sarvābhibhū.

“Whilst I was questing after the supreme enlightenment, I gathered a bouquet of silvery powers and reverently showered them over Padumuttara.

“Whilst I was questing after the supreme enlightenment, I showered gold over the exalted Atyuccagāmin[81] who was compassionate to the world.

“Whilst I was questing after the supreme enlightenment I honoured with worship the illustrious Yaśottara as he was surrounded by his community of monks.

“Whilst I was questing after the supreme enlightenment, I took fragrant costly perfumes and sprinkled them over Sākyamuni.

“Whilst I was questing after the supreme enlightenment, I took gold and silver and beryl and reverently showered them on Arthadarśin.

“Whilst I was questing after the supreme enlightenment with ever-present endeavour, I praised Tiṣya, Saviour of the world, in his presence.

“Whilst I was questing after the supreme enlightenment and had attained the Path,[82] with rapture and reverence I stood worshipping Puṣya.

(249) “Whilst I was questing after the supreme enlightenment, I saw Vipaśyin coming like the moon when it is full, and I spread my cloak in his path.

“Whilst I was questing after the supreme enlightenment, I regaled with solid and soft food the world’s Benefactor, Śikhin, and his attendant company of monks.

“Whilst I was questing after the supreme enlightenment, in rapture I bestowed[83] costly robes on Viśvabhū and his monks.

“I lived the brahma-life under three Saviours of the world, and it was Kāśyapa who proclaimed of me that I should win the supreme enlightenment.

“Having been active[84] under twelve[85] Buddhas, under three I sought for nirvana. But the three kept me in the world and I became a deva of the Three-and-Thirty.

“After I had in the ninety-first kalpa returned to the world, for nine kalpas more I passed through various lives as a Bodhisattva.

“Endowed with an energetic body and having attained[86] wide wisdom I stood supreme in energy among men for nine kalpas.

“It is energy, the force that none other but me speaks of, which is the instrument[87] of enlightenment. And energy is not without praise as a force and faculty of the bodhyaṅgas.[88]

“The Best of Men progress by way of renunciation, charity, self-control and restraint. And when the world’s age begins anew[89] they become Valiant Men.[90]

“For a hundred kalpas the Best of Men strive to attain enlightenment, but the Śākyan Valiant Man became a perfect Buddha in the ninety-first kalpa.[91]

(250) Having a firm hold of the virtue of generosity,{GL_NOTE::} the greatly glorious Bodhisattvas laud the liberality, morality, and wisdom of the Great Seers.

The liberality of the Buddhas is taught by the Sugata in a matchless way and with matchless intelligence. Who will not feel a spiritual joy in remembering such a Sugata?

Thus did the Exalted One speak and the worlds of devas and of men and of Asuras rejoiced at his words.

Here ends the Sūtra of the Many Buddhas.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

See vol. 1, p. 5, n. 6.

[2]:

Text has vistareṇa nidānaṃ kṛtvā—describing the occasion in detail, i.e. as such occasions are usually described, e.g. 1, p. 34 (text).

[3]:

Reading cetovaśiprāpto for -prāptā of the text.

[4]:

I.e., having the unspoilt characteristics of the several elements. Cf. vol. 2, p. 260-1 (text).

[5]:

See vol. 2, p. 246, n. 14.

[6]:

Suvimuktaprajñā, a bahuvṛhi compound, “having emancipated knowledge.” Generally we have the expression prajñāvimukta”, Pali paññāvimutta, “emancipated by knowledge.”

[7]:

Literally, “with cross-bars removed,” reading utkṣiptaparigha. for -parikha. Cf. Pali ukkhittapaligha. The latter expression is found combined with saṃkiṇṇaparikha, “with trenches filled”, etc., as epithets of an Arhan. The text would thus seem to be faulty here, having one compound instead of two or more, and that one consisting of the participle of one and the substantive of the other. At M. 1.139 = A. 3.84, there are five such epithets of an Arhan.

[8]:

Reading aveṭhitaprākārā “with no walls surrounding,” for āveṭhitaprākārā, which would mean “with walls thrown round (them).”

[9]:

This sentence, as Senart remarks, is obviously a gloss which has found its way into the text.

[10]:

Vihāra.

[11]:

Kuṭi, here.

[12]:

Literally, “it is the nature or characteristic, etc., of,” bhavati and genitive.

[13]:

Pāramitā, so Nett. 87, but elsewhere in Pali pāramī. “In later literature there is mentioned a group often pāramīs,” P.E.D., where references are given.

[14]:

Also mentioned in vol. 1. See index.

[15]:

Text has vistareṇa only, after the sapta yojanāni, but “from south to north” is clearly implied after the general description of such cities.

[16]:

Literally “a sound came forth,” ghoṣa niścarati.

[17]:

The simile is shortened in translation. In full it would be “just as the sound of the five musical instruments... is gentle... so the sound of the palm-trees...”

[18]:

Soṇḍamanuṣyāpeyā for soṇḍāpeyā manuṣyā, an instance of tmesis. For soṇḍa, vol. 1, p. 194 has the Sk. śuṇḍa.

[19]:

Vedikājālā. See vol. 1, p. 153, n. 1. For the other architectural details see the other footnotes on the same page.

[20]:

The text, of course, repeats each term.

[21]:

The text has iṣṭakā “tiles” (or “bricks”) only. Perhaps, “bricks” is the right rendering here, but vol. 1, p. 195 (text) has vyāmotsaṅga, which has been rendered “arch”. See Vol. I, p. 154, n. 1.

[22]:

Dharaṇīyo, “earth”, “ground”, “supporting”.

[23]:

See vol. 1, p. 154, n. 6. Edgerton (B.H.S.D.) would read paṭimoka “an ornament fastened on”.

[24]:

? Pratikūla. This, possibly, corresponds to the anuvargā, “flanking towers” of vol. 1, p. 195. See trans. p. 154, n. 3. Edgerton (B.H.S.D.) queries whether it is for pratikūṭa, “counter-pinnacle.”

[25]:

Phalikaphalakānī, corresponding to phaṭikaphalakāni of vol. 1, p. 195. Edgerton (B.H.S.D.) says the right reading is phalakha = AMg. phalaha “a big plank”.

[26]:

Phalakastāra. See vol. I, p. 154, n. 5. According to Edgerton (B.H.S.D.) the first part of the compound should be phalika = Sk. parigha “a bar”.

[27]:

Elūka, as in vol. 1, for eḍūka.

[28]:

Iṣīkāni, neut. for fem. in Sk., properly “reed,” “rush.” With iṣīkāni cf. Pali esika, esikā, a by-form of isikā, meaning “column”. See also Edgerton (B.H.S.D.).

[29]:

The dimensional terms are different in vol. 1, p. 196 (text). Ucca, “high” is there udvedha, from ud-vyadh, “to pierce through in an upward direction,” Pali ubbedha. Udvedha here must, therefore, indicate another dimension, and the only possible one remaining is that of the diameter or length through. We should, however, expect as the term for this dimension the BSk. pravedha (Pali pabbedha), which is used to indicate the distance pierced through by an arrow. (See P.E.D. for references). In vol. 1, p. 196 the standard of twelve men’s length is applied to the circumference, if, that is, Senart is right in so interpreting the obscure parigohya. (See trans. p. 154, n. 9. Edgerton (B.H.S.D.) gives it the same meaning, but thinks the form is corrupt).

[30]:

See p. 221, n. 6.

[31]:

“Tathāgata, Arhan, and perfect Buddha” are omitted in the translation of the rest of this passage, as well as “O Ānanda.”

[32]:

These adjectives are nominative in the text, instead of instrumental in agreement with tālapaṅktehi.

[33]:

Śuṇḍāmanuṣyāpeya. See p. 221, n. 7.

[34]:

Indratapanārājadhānīvat.

[35]:

Text has the locative case, emphasised besides by tatra, but the qualify ing adjective, aśūnyā, “not empty”, is nominative.

[36]:

Pacchimaka, BSk. and Pali; Sk. paścimaka.

[37]:

Treviṃsat, Sk. trayoviṃśat. Cf. Pali tevīsa.

[38]:

These two points of the compass are supplied in translation; they are wanting in the text.

[39]:

Properly, “the dharma as guide,” i.e., “the way along which it guides” dharmanetrī, cf. vol. 2, p. 373 (= trans. p. 338). Also Miln, 228 (dhammanetti), where, however, S.B.E. XXXVI, p. 204, translates” the eye of truth.” But Miss I. B. Horner, in a communication, points out that possibly the radical meaning of dharmanetri is “the cord that ties one to the dharma,” i.e. the strict observances of the rules of life according to dharma, which, of course, is another way of expressing” the way of the dharma.” She cites in support of this possibility SA. 2. 336 where bhavanetti is explained as bhavarajju, “the cord (tying one) to becoming.” So also MA. 3. 342 = DhsA. 364.

[40]:

Literally, “made the word spreading calm,” kṣemavaistārikaṃ prāvacanaṃ karitvā. Kṣemavaistārikam, here at first sight is an adjective qualify ing prāvacanam, i.e. “the word spreading calm,” but it seems better to take it as a substantive, either in apposition to prāvacanam, i.e. “The word which was the renowned calm” (sc. Nirvana) or as the object to prāvacanam karitvā taken as a compound verb of saying. For this sense of vaistārika Senart compares Pali vitthārika at J. 1.29. See also Edgerton, B.H.S.D.=

[41]:

Not mentioned elsewhere as the name of a kalpa.

[42]:

Vinesi, sg. for pl., i.e. “each of them” did so. According to Miss I. B. Horner there are several instances of such a usage of sg. for pl. in Pali.

[43]:

Pṛthū in the sense of bahū. Cf. Pali puthu (2).

[44]:

Satpathā for -ān, adjective qualifying śrāvakān. So pṛthū for pṛthūn.

[45]:

Ekinā divasavāreṇa. Ekinā is the instrumental of a consonantal stem of eka. See also vol. 2. 103 (text); 3. 12, 13 (text). See Edgerton, Gram. § 21.14.

[46]:

Here spelt Samitāvina.

[47]:

Abhūṣi, (sic) for bhaviṣyati. The redactor has copied the language of the previous passages too exactly.

[48]:

A metrical version of the same sūtra from another tradition, or, perhaps, even from a different school or sect which preferred the epithet Daśabala to Tathāgata.

[49]:

Miss I. B. Horner calls the translator’s attention to Niddesa 1. 59 where seven “stings,” or “barbs,” sallas, are mentioned, of which the “sting of doubt” is the last.

[50]:

Here called the “Śakyan-Lion,” Śākyasiṃha.

[51]:

Viśvabhū is omitted here. See p. 230.

[52]:

Ananta + lacuna in text? supply prajñā.

[53]:

Kevaciram. Keva is Sk. kīvant, and kīyant, Pali kīvant and kīva. Cf. kevarūpa vol. 1, p. 97, etc. On p. 416, of vol. 1, Senart remarks on this form, “Le Mâgadhi Jaina possède toute cette gamme de formes, evam, kevat, kevatiya, réduit en composition à ke” (after Weber, Bhagav., 422). Now see Edgerton, B.H.S.D., s.v.

[54]:

Ucyatām (? sic) for uccatām.

[55]:

Prātihārya. See, e.g., vol. 1, p. 193 (trans.).

[56]:

Text has tatha “thus,” only, but the reference is clearly to the words quoted by Ānanda as having been spoken by the Buddha.

[57]:

I.e., the Tathāgata, so-called from his possession of the “ten powers.” See vol. 1, p. 126.

[58]:

Reading Dīpāloko, nominative in apposition, for Dīpāloke.

[59]:

Eva, “thus,” “also.”

[60]:

Bhadrakalpa. Cf. Budv.A., 191, yasmiṇ kappe pañca buddhā uppajjanti so bhaddakappo.

[61]:

There is something wrong with the text here. It reads yaśottara navati varṣasahasrāṇi arthadarsī asthāsi. But according to the list already given more than once Yaśottara should be followed by Śākyamuni. Also the absence of a copula makes arthadarśī look like an adjective qualifying Yaśottara, instead of being, what it actually is, the name of the Buddha following Śākyamuni. Two MSS., however, insert Śākyasiṃho, i.e. Śākyamuni. That, of course, would upset the metre. It thus would seem as if the last and first lines respectively of two successive couplets have dropped out, and these would have given the years both of Śākyamuni and Arthadarśin.

[62]:

Varṣasahasrāṇi is understood with this and the next two numerals.

[63]:

Literally, “stood” asthānsu.

[64]:

Antarāparinirvṛta, cf. Pali antarā parinibbāyin = an Anāgāmin. But the whole verse is enclosed in brackets by Senart as being of doubtful appropriateness here. Not only is the metre different from that of the rest of the passage, but the subject is the Buddhas who pass away from their lives on earth, not in heaven. The word “heaven” is used here only for convenience of translation; there is no svarga in the text. But the expression antarāparinirvrita does have a sense which approximates that of “heaven”, for it denotes that happy state which good men attain after death and from which they pass to nirvana instead of to rebirth.

[65]:

Sare from sara = Sk. saras.

[66]:

Sc. of a cakravartin or universal king.

[67]:

Tisyamahe vartante, i.e. the festival celebrating the ascendancy of the lunar mansion, the sixth (or eighth), called Tiṣya.

[68]:

Name of the sixth lunar mansion.

[69]:

The text has rūpāṇi paśyati anīryo. Senart explains anīryo with reference to īryāpatho, iriyāpatho, “the (four) postures” (see vol. 1, p. 18) and translates “supérieure aux conditions ordinaires de la vie.” It is difficult, however, to see the relevance of this. The verse emphasises Vipaśyin’s insight. Any man can see forms, but it requires a man of insight to discover their true nature, which is impermanence. Anīryo has, therefore, been emended into anityā, “he sees that forms are impermanent.” Cf. rūpe anicc’ anupassanā, Ps. 2. 186 f. See the Mahāpadāna Suttanta (D. 2.1ff) for similar emphasis on Vipaśyin’s insight.

[70]:

This is from the tradition of Vipaśyin’s sagacity as a ruler, which is alluded to, e.g., in the Mahāpadāna Suttanta, and is cited here as further proof of his insight.

[71]:

I.e. one gifted with insight.

[72]:

Text has keśaridharmam, “a hairy state”(!). The emendation is fairly obvious. Though two MSS. have veśari, the right reading is kisara, which is found several times in the Mhvu. joined to alpa- in the sense of “with little difficulty or trouble.” See the text of vol. 1, p. 270; 2, pp. 216, 286; and 3, p. 31, and translation vol. 2, p. 206, n. 2. The original form is probably the Vedic kṛcchra. Cf. Pali kiccha and kasira. At D. 2, 30 we have the first of the two Pali forms—kicchaṃ vatāyaṃ loko āpanno, “verily this world has fallen on trouble.” The fact that these words are there an observation of Vipassi’s strengthens the supposition that the BSk. equivalent of kiccha is the word needed to express what is practically the same thought in the Mhvu.

[74]:

The explanation of the name apparently rests on the similarity in sound between viśva, “all,” and varṣa, “rain”. The BudvA., 247, says of his Pali name that he was so called because, when he was born, he roared like a bull, vasabhanādaṃ nadi. The Com. on Mhvs. (Vaṃsatthappakāsinī, 1.63) has two other, alternative, explanations of the name.

[75]:

I.e. Gotama. The verse implies that he was called after his clan.

[76]:

Sumatipratimaṇḍita. The verse implies that Maitreya is derived from mati,“wise”.

[77]:

Sc. Maitreya’s.

[78]:

No copula in text, while the verb āsi is sg. as well as the predicate kṣatriyo. But as seen above we have to do with two distinct Buddhas of these names.

[79]:

So spelt here instead of Krakucchanda. Cf. vol. 1 (text), pp. 2, 6.

[80]:

Merely another way of saying, “the worlds of men and of devas.”

[81]:

Atyuccagāmin is nominativus pendens in the text, but in sense is the object of okire “I strewed him with gold,” okire being opt. (1 sg.) in aor. sense.

[82]:

Text has samāpanna only, which may indicate either the winning of the Path of Arhantship or the attainment of the (eight or nine) samāpattis.

[83]:

Ācchādaye. See p. 36, n. 2. Here opt. (1 sg.) in aor. sense.

[84]:

Or “satisfied,” kṛtin.

[85]:

Senart reads āpañcahi and renders “sous cinq”, but he has to admit that his interpretation is very doubtful. It seems pretty obvious, however, that the right reading is dvādaśahi. For we have been told that Gotama had served “twelve” Buddhas before the three under whom he lived the brahma-life, and who, presumably, were the three who prevailed on him to live on in the world.

[86]:

Samāhita. See P.E.D. for references to the Pali use of this word in the same sense.

[87]:

Literally “contrives”, yantreti, denominative of yantra, “machine.”

[88]:

See vol. 2, p. 142, n. 3.

[89]:

Vivartamāne lokasmim. Cf. vivartakalpa. See vol. 1, p. 43, n. 3.

[90]:

It seems hopeless to try and arrive at any consistency in these figures. In two places in the preceding passage Senart suggests navati, “ninety”, for nava, “nine”, so as to make Gotama’s re-incarnations as a Bodhisattva total a period of ninety kalpas, to be followed by his enlightenment in the ninety-first. But while this explanation would be consistent with the figure in this last line, there is much in the passage that it does not take into account. The passage as a whole clearly implies that Gotama became a Bodhisattva in the ninety-first kalpa, having in the preceding kalpas paid honour to other Buddhas. Then follow nine kalpas of successive rebirths as a Bodhisattva, which bring us to the hundredth kalpa. Thus, if the same figures apply to all Buddhas the line, te bodhiṃ kalpaśatena samudānenti narottamā would be a correct summing up of the figures. Unfortunately, this line is followed by atha ekanavate kalpe sambuddho śākyapuṅgavo, which can only be understood as implying a distinction between te... narottamā, “those (? other) Buddhas,” and Gotama himself (Śākyapuṅgava).

[91]:

The sūtra is rounded off by an extract from a stock of commonplace quotations.

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: