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Maha Buddha Vamsa



The Great Chronicle of Buddhas








Maha Buddha Vamsa

The Great Chronicle of Buddhas




Namo Buddhāya Siddam



Kīdiso te Mahāvīra,
Abhinīhāro Naruttama,
Kamhi kāle tayā Dhīra,
Patthitā Bodhim uttamā?





Buddha, who is endowed with the four kinds of right exertion, who is the “O highest among men and higher than devās and Brahmās, and who is thus Chief of these three categories of beings! How should we comprehend your resolve to gain Buddhahood of great glory, that pervades the whole universe extending from the bottom realm of intense suffering to the top realm of Brahmās. Since when has your mind become inclined to achieve the prime laurel of Perfect Self-Enlightenment, which surpasses the Enlightenment of a Private Buddha and the Enlightenment of a Disciple?”



This enquiring note of acclamation was sounded in the sky over the city of Kapilavatthu on the first waning moon of Kason, in the year 104 Mahā Era. The background story, in brief, of this question is narrated below.



The Buddha, the Omniscient One and Lord of the Three Worlds, observed the first rainretreat (vassa) in the Deer Park of Isipatana, Vārāṇasī, in the year 103 Mahā Era. During this retreat, He converted the Five Ascetics and the group of 54 friends headed by Yasa, son of a wealthy man, leading them to arahantship. When the retreat was over, He asked them to disseminate the Dhamma, which is excellent in all three aspects—the beginning, the middle and the end–and no two of them going in the same direction. He himself went alone towards the forest of Uruvelā to convert the three ascetic Kassapa brothers and their followers, numbering one thousand.



On the way to Uruvelā, on reaching Kappāsika grove, the Buddha met with thirty Bhadda-vaggiya brothers who were searching for an absconding woman. He established them in the lower Paths and Fruitions and made them ehi-bhikkhus. Then He proceeded alone to Uruvelā where He liberated the eldest brother, Uruvelā Kassapa and his 500 followers from heretical views. He did the same for Nadī Kassapa and his 300 followers and Gayā Kassapa and his 200 followers. Finally, He preached to all the one thousand ascetics, the Ādittapariyāya-sutta S 35:28 on the stone slab at Gayāsīsa and thereby established them in the Fruition of Arahantship. And, together with the one thousand newly accomplished arahants, the Buddha set out on a journey to the city of Rājagaha.



The day the Buddha arrived in Rājagaha, He helped King Bimbisāra and the brahmin householders, one hundred and ten thousand in all, with His Teaching to reach the state of sotāpatti-phala and another ten thousand brahmin householders established in the Three Refuges. The following day, the Buddha accepted the Veḷuvana Monastery which was generously donated by King Bimbisāra in support of His ministry. It was the first monastery He had ever accepted and the occasion of His acceptance of the monastery was marked by a great earthquake. From that time onwards, He had taught all those worthy of conversion, who came to Him, including those who would eventually become Chief Disciples, Great Disciples and Ordinary Disciples. He did so as though He were dispensing among them the medicine for deathlessness.



While the Buddha was thus busily engaging Himself, His father, King Suddhodāna, sent nine ministers, one after another, each with one thousand men, on a mission to invite Him to return to Kapilavatthu. Instead, they became arahants and neither conveyed the King’s message to the Buddha nor sent back any information to the King. So the Buddha’s playmate, the minister Kāḷudāyī, was sent as the tenth envoy, also with one thousand men. Kāḷudāyī and his men became arahants, too, and spent their time enjoying the bliss of their spiritual attainment. When the cold season was over and spring arrived, Kāḷudāyī made a humble request to the Buddha, in sixty-four verses, persuading Him to return to the home of His kinsmen. The Buddha then journeyed to the city of Kapilavatthu on the first day after the full moon of Tabaung travelling slowly, covering only one yojana a day, and arrived at Kapilavatthu on the first day after the full moon of Kason in the year 104 Mahā Era.



On the same day the Sakyan princes welcomed the Buddha and His host of bhikkhus in a great ceremony, they took them to Nigrodhārāma Monastery as arranged beforehand. On arrival at the Monastery, the Buddha sat in the seat specially prepared for Him and remained quietly surrounded by twenty thousand arahants. The Sakyans, who took too great a pride in their high birth, thought to themselves: “This Prince Siddhattha is younger than us. He is only a young brother, or a young nephew, or a young grandson of ours.” And, puffed up with conceit, they urged their younger kinsmen: “You bow in homage to the Buddha; we shall, however, stay behind you.”



The Buddha knew the inner minds of the Sakyan princes were dwelling with pride of their birth and thought to Himself: “These proud kinsfolk of mine do not realize that they have grown old without accomplishing anything beneficial for themselves. They know nothing about the nature of a Buddha. They know nothing about the power of a Buddha. What if I should display a Buddha’s might by performing the Twin Miracle of water and fire. I will make a jewelled walk in the sky, a platform as broad as the ten thousand universe. And, I will walk to and fro on it and pour forth a shower of sermons to suit the temperaments of all those who come to me.” No sooner had He resolved thus, the Brahmās and devās acclaimed their joyous approval.



Then the Buddha entered upon the fourth jhāna making white (colour) as His object of concentration. On arising from that jhāna, He made a firm resolve that light should spread all over the ten thousand universe. Immediately after that resolution, all the universe was flooded with light to the great delight of devās, humans and Brahmās. While they were rejoicing, the Buddha rose up into the sky by developing the supernormal power through exercise of the fourth jhāna. Then He proceeded to perform the Yamakapāṭihāriya (the Twin Miracle), which consisted of the appearance of flames of fire and streams of water emitted alternatively (1) from the top and bottom of the body, (2) from the front and the back, (3) from the eyes, (4) from the ears, (5) from the nose, (6) from the shoulders, (7) from the hands, (8) from the sides, (9) from the feet, (10) from the fingers, toes and from between one finger and another as well as from between one toe and another, (11) from each hair of the body, and (12) from every pore of the body. The emitted fire-sparks and water-sprays fell amidst the crowds of human and celestial beings as though the Buddha was letting the dust fell from His feet onto their heads. This exhibition of the Twin Miracle with the emission of fire and water alternately from the body of the Buddha created a marvellous spectacle of great splendour which inspired all the Sakyan princes with awe and reverence, moving them to utter words of resounding praise.



After the performance of the Twin Miracle, the Buddha created a jewelled walk of great brilliance which extended from east to west reaching even beyond ten thousand universe. He then walked up and down the jewelled walk and delivered several discourses to devās and humans suiting their mental dispositions.



At that time, the Venerable Sāriputta, who was residing at Gijjha-kūṭa Hill in Rājagaha, saw (through his supernormal power) the whole event (taking place at Kapilavatthu) and thought to himself: “I shall now go to the Buddha and make a request for a complete narration of the life histories of the Bodhisattas and the Perfections they had fulfilled.” Accordingly, he lost no time to gather the five hundred arahants, who were all his coresidents, and said to them: “Come, we will go. We will pay a visit to the Master and ask Him about the past stories of the Buddhas.” Having urged them to accompany him, they travelled through space by means of supernormal power, at so fast a speed which surpassed that of the wind and the storm. In a moment, the Venerable Sāriputta, with the company of bhikkhus, arrived before the Buddha and paid homage to Him. Then he uttered the verse,

Kīdiso te Mahāvīra,
Abhinīhāro nar’uttama,
etc.



mentioned at the beginning, thereby asking the Buddha to narrate elaborately how He had received the Definite Prophecy from the Former Buddhas and how He had fulfilled the Ten Perfections, which extend to thirty in all, for the Bodhisattas.



Then the Buddha, who was still on the walkway, responded with two verses:

Pītipāmojjajanānaṃ,
Sokasallavinodanaṃ,
etc.,



meaning: “Listen to the Buddhavaṃsa Discourse which could give you joy and happiness, remove the thorns of sorrow and bestow upon you the three kinds of bliss, namely, human existence, divine existence and Nibbāna. Having thus listened, try to follow and practise the Path, as will be explained in this Discourse, that could dispel conceit, eradicate sorrow, liberate you from saṃsāra and put an end to all suffering.” Thus the Buddha, out of compassion, urged all devās, humans and Brahmās reciting the verse numbering four bhāṇavāras (1080 stanzas).








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