Showing posts with label Khuddaka Nikaya. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Khuddaka Nikaya. Show all posts

Monday, August 15, 2011

Maha Buddhavamsa - The Birth of The Bodhisatta

Maha Buddhavamsa - The Birth of The Bodhisatta

Maha Buddhavamsa
The Great Chronicle of The Buddhas
by Tipitakadhara Mingun Sayadaw

Edited and Translated by
U Ko Lay and U Tin Lwin

Women other than the mother of a Bodhisatta in his last existence are apt to give birth either after or before the ten-month period of pregnancy. They know no definite time when their baby would be delivered. Their childbirth takes place unexpectedly while they are in one of the four postures. Some deliver their babies while lying, others while sitting, still others while standing or walking.

As for the mother of a Bodhisatta in the last of his existences, it is quite to the contrary. Her pregnancy lasts precisely ten full months or 295 days from the date of conception. Furthermore a Buddhisatta is born only while the mother is assuming the standing posture. When he is born thus he is immaculately clean, without even a speck of impurity, like a ruby placed on a freshly woven cloth of Kasi origin.

An ordinary man has to go through a very miserable ordeal at the time of his birth. When the first spasms of the mother signalling the impending delivery begin, they set in motion a sequence of events, turning the baby into a head-down position; he has also to force his way out through the tight grip of the hard muscles in the region of the birth-canal, suffering excruciating pains in the process—the process which could be compared to a man falling into a fathomless pit, or to an elephant being pulled through a narrow keyhole.

But unlike such childbirth, the Bodhisatta always comes out at birth as easily as water filtered through a water strainer. Like a preacher of Dhamma slowly and calmly descending from the Dhamma throne after having delivered a sermon; or like a man slowly coming down to the covered stairways of a pagoda; or like the sun with its one thousand brilliant shafts of light breaking through the golden mountain and peering out, the Bodhisatta emerges in ease and comfort with stretched legs, open hands, wide-opened eyes, with mindfulness and comprehension, totally without fear.

Mahamaya Devi's journey to Devadaha City

When Queen Mahamaya reached the final stage of her pregnancy, carrying the Bodhisatta for ten full months in the lotus-like chamber of her womb as though she were carrying oil in a bowl, she felt the urge to visit Devadaha City of her royal relatives. She requested permission from King Suddhodana, saying: " O Great King, I would like to pay a visit to my relatives in Devadaha."

King Suddhodana gave his assent and had adequate preparations made for the queen's journey. The entire stretch of road from Kapilavatthu to Devadaha was repaired and smoothed out evenly, banana plants, betel palms, and water pots filled to the brim were placed (on stand) lining both sides of the roadway; flags and banners were also hoisted on poles along the road. Having prepared and decorated the highway comparable to a divine one, the king had Mahamaya Devi seated in state on a newly made golden palanquin which was carried by one thousand royal servants, accompanied by guards and attendants to perform sundry duties on the way. With such pomp and grandeur, the queen was sent off to Devadaha City.

(Different versions regarding the journey of Mahamaya Devi from Kapilavatthu to Devadaha are given in the Anudipani of this volume.)

Lumbini Garden of Sala trees

Between Kapilavatthu and Devadaha cities, there was a grove of sala trees by the name of Lumbini Garden frequented by people from both kingdoms for recreation. When Mahamaya Devi reached it, every sala tree in the grove was in full bloom from the bottom of the tree to the topmost branches.

Amidst flowers and twigs of sala trees swarms of bumblebees in five colours hummed, and flocks of birds of many species chirped, producing sweet melodious sounds. The whole sala grove was so delightful and enjoyable with special features that it might be likened to Cittalata Garden of Sakka, the Deva King. It was also like a place constantly filled with the sounds of mirth and merriment at a feast well organized by a powerful king. (This is the description of Garden given in the Jataka Commentary.)

On account of the melodious sounds emanating from the female bees which were buzzing delightfully among the buds and flowers, the twigs and branches; which were excited with the intoxicating nectar produced by fragrant sala flowers (and which were hovering around and enjoying the nectar themselves and carrying it for others as well); Lumbini was very much like Nandavana Garden, the delight of Devas.

(For the note on the words within the brackets, see the Anudipani)

Vibhusita balajanaticalini

Vibhusitangi vaniteva malini

Sada jananam nayanaIimalini

Vilumpinivativiroci lumbini

Just as a youthful maiden who can infatuate all men, who is possessed of limbs adorned with strings of beads and ear-ornaments, who is wearing flowers, is exceedingly fair, even so Lumbini Garden with all its ornamental features, the ever delightful resort which human beings feast their bee-like eyes on, was exceedingly beautiful as though it could even vie in splendour with that fair damsel. (These are the words in praise of Lumbini Garden by the Venerable Buddhadatta, the author of the Buddhavamsa Commentary)

On seeing Lumbini Garden of such immense splendour Mahamaya Devi felt a desire to amuse herself in it.

The ministers sought permission from King Suddhodana and with the royal consent they entered the garden carrying the Chief Queen on the golden palanquin.

The congregation of Devas and Brahmas

The moment Mahamaya Devi entered Lumbini Garden, all Devas proclaimed with an uproar which reverberated throughout the ten thousand world-systems, "Today the Bodhisatta will be born from the lotus-like chamber of the mother's womb." The Devas and Brahmas from the ten thousand world-systems congregated, crowding the whole of this universe, bringing with them a large variety of auspicious treasures as gifts to pay homage with in celebration of the birth of the Bodhisatta. The vault of heaven was covered all over with their celestial white umbrellas and the entire universe resounded with their auspicious songs, celestial music and the sounds of conch shells blown by them.

As soon as Mahamaya Devi got into Lumbini Garden, she felt a sudden urge to grasp with her hand a branch of the fully blooming sila tree, the trunk of which was straight and round. As if it were animate, the branch bent down itself like a cane stalk, made pliant by boiling, until it reached the palm of the queen, a marvellous event that stirred up the minds of many.

Queen Mahamaya stood holding the sala branch that came down into the palm of her outstretched lovely right hand which was adorned with brand-new gold bracelets with her fingers shapely like a lotus stem, her finger-nails bright red like the colour of a parrot's beak. The great beauty of Queen Mahamaya at that instant resembled the moon that newly emerges from the dark, sombre clouds showing signs of impending rain or the lightning that dazzles in a momentary flash, or a celestial nymph who makes her appearance in Nandavana Garden.

5 The Birth of the Bodhisatta

Holding the sala branch, Queen Mahamaya stood majestically in a dress of gold-threaded brocade and draped down to the tip of her feet in a full-length white embroidered shawl with exquisite patterns resembling the eyes of a carp. At that very moment she felt the unmistakable signs of the impending birth. Her retinue hastily cordoned off the area with curtains and withdrew.

Instantaneously, the ten thousand world-systems together with the great ocean roared, quaked, and trembled like the potter's wheel. Devas and Brahmas acclaimed in joy and showered flowers from the sky; all musical instruments produced mellifluous melodies automatically. The entire universe became unveiled with unobstructed visibility in all directions. These and other strange, marvellous phenomena, thirty-two in all, occurred simultaneously to herald the birth of the Bodhisatta. As the flying precious jewel emerging from the top of Mount Vepulla hovers and then descends slowly on a readily placed receptacle, so the Bodhisatta magnificently adorned with major and minor physical marks, was delivered clean and pure from the stupa-like lotus-womb of Mahamaya Devi on Friday the full moon of Vesakha, a summer month in the year 68, Maha Era, when the moon was in conjunction with the constellation Visakha.

The moment the Bodhisatta was born, two fountains of pure spring water, warm and cold, flowed down from the sky and fell on the already pure and clean bodies of the Bodhisatta and the mother as a token of homage, thereby enabling them to adjust the heat and cold in their bodies.

(Note on this is given in the Anudipani)

Receiving the Bodhisatta successively by Brahmas, Devas and humans

The four great Brahmas who were free from all sensual defilements first received the Bodhisatta on a golden net the moment he was born. Then they placed him before the mother and said:

"Great Queen, rejoice yourself; a son of great power has been born to you!"

Next, the four Great Devas received the Bodhisatta from the hands of the four Brahmas on a black antelope skin regarded as an auspicious object. Again, from the hands of the four Great Devas, the human beings received the Bodhisatta on a piece of white cloth.

Then, after leaving the hands of the people, the Bodhisatta stood firmly on his feet with the soles like those of a golden footwear, and touching the ground fully and squarely, he looked towards the eastern direction. As he did so, thousands of world-systems in the east became one continuous stretch of open space without any barrier or boundary between one another. The Devas and human beings in the eastern quarter most respectfully paid homage to the Bodhisatta with perfumes, flowers, etc. and said:

"O Noble Man, there is no one in this eastern direction who is your equal. How can there be anyone who is superior to you?"

Similarly, the Bodhisatta looked out in the rest of the ten directions—the four cardinal, the four intermediate, the downward and the upward directions—one after another. He saw no one equal to him in all these quarters. Thereupon, he faced northward from where he stood and took seven steps forward.

The Bodhisatta was followed by Maha Brahma, King of Brahmas, giving cover to him with the white umbrella and by Deva Suyama holding a fly-flap made of a yak tail. Other Devas with the remaining emblems of royalty such as the footwear, the sword and the crown also followed him from behind. The celestial beings in this procession were not visible to the people who could see only the regalia.

The Special Points for Note

When the Bodhisatta walked he did so the natural ground, but to the human beings he appeared to be walking through the air. The Bodhisatta walked 'au natural' without any clothes on, but to the human beings he appeared to be walking fully clad. Only as a new born child the Bodhisatta walked, but to the human beings he appeared to be sixteen years old.

(What has been heretofore narrated in connection with the Bodhisatta's taking the seven steps in the northern direction is in accordance with the Commentaries on the Buddhavamsa, the Sutta Mahavagga and the Jataka. In the Chapter on Vijata Mangala of the Jinalankara, however, the birth of the Bodhisatta is somewhat more elaborately related as follows:)

While the Bodhisatta took his steps the great Brahmas followed and shaded him with the royal white umbrella measuring three yojanas. So did the great Brahmas from the remaining worlds with their white umbrellas of the same size. Thus the whole universe was fully covered by white umbrellas resembling the garlands of white blooms.

The ten thousand Suyama Devas living in the ten thousand world systems stood holding individually their yak-tail fly-flaps; the ten thousand Santusita Devas of the same world-systems stood, holding their ruby-studded round fans, all swinging their fly-flaps and round fans right up to the mountain sides on the edge of the universe.

In the same way, the ten thousand Sakkas residing in the ten thousand world-systems stood blowing ten thousand conches.

All other Devas stood in like manner, some carrying flowers of' gold while others carrying natural flowers or scintillating glass flowers (flowers glittering like glass); some carrying flaps and banners, while others carrying gem-studded objects of offering. Female deities with various gifts in their hands also stood crowding the entire universe.

While the phenomenal display of homage which was like the rasayana, gratifying sight for the eye was in progress, while thousands of conches were being blown melodiously by human and devas, while celestial and terrestrial musical instruments were being played and female deities were joyfully dancing, the Bodhisatta halted after taking seven steps in the northward direction.

At that moment all the Brahmas, Devas and humans maintained complete silence, waiting expectantly with the thought "What is the Bodhisatta going to say?"

The fearless roar

When he halted after taking the seven steps in the direction of north the Bodhisatta made a fearless roar to be heard simultaneously by all throughout the entire ten thousand world-systems as follows:

(a) "Aggo' ham asmi lokassa!"

"I am the most superior among the living beings of the three worlds!";

(b) "Jettho' ham asmi lokassa! ",

"I am the greatest among the living beings of the three worlds!";

(c) "Settho' ham asmi lokassa!

"I am the most exalted among the living beings of the three worlds!"

(d) "Ayam antima jati! ",

"This is my last birth!";

(e) "Natthi dani punabbhavo! "

"There is no more rebirth for me!"

When the Bodhisatta made this bold speech, there was no one capable of challenging or rebutting him; the whole multitude of Brahmas, Devas and humans had to tender their felicitations.

The extraordinary acts of the Bodhisatta and their significance

Out of the extraordinary acts at the time of the Bodhisatta's birth, the following were omens, each with its significance.

(1) The Bodhisatta's firm standing with both feet evenly on the earth's surface was the omen signifying his future attainment of the four bases of Psychic Power (Iddhipada);

(2) The Bodhisatta's facing northwards was the omen signifying his future supremacy over all living beings;

(3) The Bodhisatta's taking seven steps was the omen signifying his future attainment of the seven Constituents of Enlightenment, the Jewel of the Dhamma;

(4) The Bodhisatta's having the cool shade of the celestial white umbrella was the omen signifying his future attainment of the fruition of Arahatship;

(5) The Bodhisatta's acquisition of the five emblems of royalty was the omen signifying his future attainment of five kinds of Emancipation (Vimutti), namely, Emancipation through performance of meritorious deeds of sensuous sphere (Tadanga Vimutti); Emancipation through attainment of Jhanas (Vikkhambhana Vimutti); Emancipation through attainment of the Paths (Samuccheda Vimutti; Emancipation through attainment of Fruitions (Patippassaddhi Vimutti); Emancipation through attainment of Nibbana (Nissarana Vimutti).

(6) The Bodhisatta's seeing in the ten directions without any obstruction was the omen signifying his future attainment of Unobstructed Knowledge (Anavaran nana)

(7) The Bodhisatta's fearless roar, "I am the most superior, the greatest and the most exalted!", was the omen signifying his future turning of the Wheel of the Dhamma (Dhamma Cakka) which no Brahmas, Devas or human beings are capable of halting or retarding its process;

(8) The Bodhisatta's fearless roar, "This is my last birth!; There is no more rebirth for me!," was the omen signifying his future attainment of Nibbana with no remaining physical and mental aggregates (anupadisesa).

The three existences in which the Bodhisatta spoke at birth

The Bodhisatta spoke immediately after his birth, not only in this last existence as Prince Siddhattha, but also when he was born to become Mahosadha the Wise, and when he was born to become King Vessantara. Hence there were three existences in which he spoke at birth.

Brief explanation: (1) In his existence as Mahosadha the Wise, the Bodhisatta came out of the mother's womb holding a piece of sandalwood which had been placed in his hand by Sakka, King of Devas. The mother on seeing the object in the hand of her newly born baby asked, "My dear son, what have you brought in your hand?" " O mother, it is medicine," answered the Bodhisatta.

He was thus initially named Osadha Kumara meaning "Medicine Boy." The medicine was carefully stored in a jar. All patients who came with all kinds of ailment, such as blindness, deafness, etc., were cured with that medicine, beginning with the Bodhisatta's wealthy father Sirivaddhana, who was cured of his headache. Thus because of the great efficacy of his medicine, the youthful Bodhisatta later came to be popularly known as Mahosadha, the young possessor of the most efficacious medicine.

(2) In the existence of the Bodhisatta as King Vessantara also, the moment he was born he extended his right hand with open palm and said. "O mother, what do you have in your golden palace that I can give in charity." The mother answered, "My dear son, you are born to wealth in this golden palace." Then the mother took the child's open hand, placed it on her palm and put a bag of one thousand silver pieces. Thus the Bodhisatta also spoke at birth in the existence of King Vessantara.

(3) As has been narrated above, in his last existence as Prince Siddhattha, the Bodhisatta made the fearless roar the moment he was born.

These are the three existences in which the Bodhisatta spoke immediately after the mother had given birth to him.

The phenomenal events at the Bodhisatta's birth and what they presaged

Also at the moment of the birth of the Bodhisatta certain events manifested clearly. These events and what they presaged will be explained below in accordance with the Mahapadana Sutta and Buddhavamsa Commentaries.

(l) At the time of the birth of the Bodhisatta the ten thousand world-systems quaked.

This was the omen presaging his attainment of Omniscience.

(2) Devas and Brahmas living in the ten thousand world-systems congregated in this universe.

This was the omen presaging the assembly of Devas and Brahmas for listening to the Discourse of the Wheel of Dhamma when delivered.

(3) The Brahmas and Devas were the first to receive the Bodhisatta at the time of his birth.

This was the omen presaging his attainment of the four Rupavacara Jhanas.

(4) The human beings received the newborn Bodhisatta after the Brahmans and Devas.

This was the omen presaging his attainment of the four Arupavacara Jhana.

(5) The stringed instruments such as harps made sound of music without being played.

This was the omen presaging his attainment of the nine Anupubba Vihara Samapatti consisting of the four Rupavacara-Samapatti, the four Arupavacara-Samapatti and the Nirodha-Samapatti.

(6) Leather instruments such as big and small drums made sound of music without being played.

This was the omen presaging his beating of the most sacred drum of Dhamma to be heard by humans and Devas alike.

(7) Prisons and fetters keeping men in bondage broke up into pieces.

This was the omen presaging his complete elimination of the conceited notion of 'I'.

(8) All kinds of diseases afflicting the sick disappeared like the dirt on copper when washed away by acid.

This was the omen presaging the attainment by human beings of the four Noble Truths, eradication of all suffering of samsara.

(9) The blind since birth could see all forms and colours as do normal people.

This was the omen presaging the acquisition by human beings of the Divine Eye (Dibbacakkhu.)

(10) The deaf since birth could hear all sounds as do normal people.

This was the omen presaging the acquisition by human beings of the Divine Ear (Dibbasota).

(11) The cripple gained healthy legs and could walk about.

This was the omen presaging the acquisition of the four Bases of Psychic Power (Iddhipadas).

(12) The dumb since birth gained mindfulness and could speak

This was the omen presaging the acquisition of the four Methods of Steadfast Mindfulness (Satipatthana).

(13) Ships on perilous voyages abroad reached their respective havens.

This was the omen presaging the acquisition of the fourfold Analytical Knowledge (Patisambhida Nana).

(14) All kinds of precious gems, both celestial and terrestrial, glittered most brilliantly.

This was the omen presaging the acquisition of the light of Dhamma; it was the omen presaging the brilliant glory of the Buddha who disseminated the light of Dhamma to those who were bent on receiving

(l5) Loving-kindness pervaded among all beings who were at enmity with one another.

This was the omen presaging the attainment of four Sublime States (Brahmavihara).

(16) The hell-fires were extinguished.

This was the omen presaging the cessation of eleven kinds of fires such as greed, anger, etc.

(17) There appeared light in the Lokantarika hells which normally are in total darkness.

This was the omen presaging the ability to dispel the darkness of ignorance and to shed the light of Wisdom.

(18) The river water which had been perennially flowing ceased to flow.

This was the omen presaging the acquisition of Fourfold Confidence (Catuvesarajja Nana).

(19) All the waters in the great ocean turned sweet in taste, This was the omen presaging the acquisition of unique sweet taste of peace resulting from the cessation of defilements.

(20) Instead of stormy winds light winds blew cool and pleasant.

This was the omen presaging the disappearance of the sixty-two kinds of wrong beliefs.

(21) All kinds of birds in the sky or on top of trees or mountains alighted to the ground.

This was the omen presaging the life-long taking of refuge (in the Triple Gem) by human beings after listening to the teaching of the Buddha.

(22) The moon shone forth far brighter than ever before.

This was the omen presaging the delighted mood of human beings.

(23) The sun being of moderate heat and clear radiance brought clement weather.

This was the omen presaging the physical and mental happiness of human beings.

(24) The Devas standing at the doorways of their mansions slapped their arms with the other hands, whistled and flung their clothes in merriment.

This was the omen presaging his attainment of Omniscient Buddhahood and making solemn utterance of joy.

(25) Torrential rain fell all over the four continents.

This was the omen presaging the heavy Dhamma rain of Deathlessness which fell with the great force of wisdom.

(26) All human beings felt no hunger.

This was the omen presaging their attainment of the Deathless Dhamma of kayagatasati which is mindfulness related to the body, or freedom from hunger for defilements after enjoying the Deathless food of kayagatasati.

(27) All human beings felt no thirst.

This was the omen presaging their attainment of the bliss of the Fruition of Arahatship.

(28) Closed doors burst open by themselves.

This was the omen presaging the opening up of the gates of Nibbana which is the eightfold Noble Path.

(29) Flower trees and fruit trees bore flowers and fruits respectively.

This was the omen presaging the people's bearing the flowers of

Emancipation (Vimutti) and the fruits of the four Noble Ones (Ariyaphala.)

(30) All the ten thousand world-systems were covered with the one and only flower-banner. The ten thousand world- systems were covered with the banner of victory.

This was the omen presaging the overspreading by the flower-banner, i.e., the Noble Path.

Moreover, the showering of exquisite flowers and exceedingly fragrant flowers, the brightness of stars and constellations even in sunlight the appearance of springs of pure clean water, the coming out of burrowing animals from their places, the absence of greed, hate and bewilderment, the absence of clouds of dust from the ground, the absence of obnoxious smells, the pervasion of celestial perfumes, the clear visibility of Rupa Brahmas to human beings, the absence of birth and death of human beings and other phenomena occurred distinctly. The occurrence of these phenomena constituted omens presaging the Buddha's attainment of attributes other than those mentioned above.

The seven connatals of the Bodhisatta

At that precise moment of the birth of the Bodhisatta, the following seven were born simultaneously:

(1) Princess Yasodhara, also named Baddakaccana, mother of Prince Rahula,

(2) Prince Ananda,

(3) Minister1 Channa,

(4) Minister Kaludayi,

(5) Royal stallion Kandaka2,

(6) Maha Bodhi or Assattha Bodhi Tree, and

(7) Four jars of gold.

Since they were born or coming into being at the same time as the Bodhisatta, they were known as the seven connatals of the Bodhisatta.

Of these seven:

(1) Princess Yasodhara Bhaddakaccana was born of Suppabuddha, King of Devadaha City, and Queen Amitta

(2) Prince Ananda was the son of the Sakyan Amittodana, younger brother of King Suddhodana;

1. Minister: Minister is the translation of the Myanmar word {short description of image} which in turn is the author's rendering of the Pali amacca. Among the meaning of amacca given in the Tipitaka Pali-Myanmar Dictionary are minister, chief minister, king's advisor; friend, companion. In using the designation 'Minister' for Channa, the author obviously means one of these person of intimate relationship apart from the official rank as in 'Minister Kaludayi. Malalasekera describes Channa only as Charioteer.

2.The name of the Bodhisatta's steed is spelt in various ways: Kantaka, Kandaka and Kanthaka. Here in this chapter the author's choice is Kantaka but later on he changes it to Kandaka. Since the second word usually overrules the first, we write Kandaka even here and stick to it throughout for the sake of consistency.

(3) The Maha Bodhi Tree grew at the centre of the site of victory where the Buddha attained Enlightenment in Uruvela forest of the Middle Country;

(4) The four large jars of gold appeared within the precincts of the palace of Kapilavatthu City. Of these four:

(a) one was named Sankha, the diameter of its brim being one gavuta;

(b) another was named Ela, the diameter of its brim being two gavutas;

(c) the third was named Uppala, the diameter of its brim being three gavutas;

(d) the last one named Pundarika, the diameter of its brim being four gavutas, equivalent to one yojana.

When some gold was taken out of these four jars, they became replenished; there was no trace of any loss. (The account of these four jars of gold is given in the exposition of the Canki Sutta of the Majjhimapannsa Commentary, and also in the exposition of the Sonadanda Sutta of the Digha Nikaya Silakkhandhavagga Commentary.)

The order of the name of the seven birth-mates of the Bodhisatta given above is that contained in the Commentaries on the Jataka and the Buddhavamsa and also in the exposition of the Mahapadana Sutta of the Digha Nikaya Mahavagga Commentary.

In the exposition of the story of Kaludayi in the Anguttara Commentary and also in the exposition of the story of Rahula in the Vinaya Sarattha Dipani TikaAnanda's name has been left out from the list. It includes: (1) Bodhi Tree, (2) Yasodhara, (3) The four jars of gold, (4) Royal elephant named Arohaniya, (5) Kandaka the steed, (6) Minister Channa, (7) Minister Kaludayi, in that order.

It should be noted that the order of the items is given according to their respective reciters (bhanakas).

The Return of Mahamaya Devi to Kapilavatthu

The citizens from the two cities of Kapilavatthu and Devadaha conveyed Queen Mahamaya and her noble Bodhisatta son back to the city of Kapilavatthu.

Maha Buddhavamsa - The Conception of The Bodhisatta

Maha Buddhavamsa - The Conception of The Bodhisatta

Maha Buddhavamsa
The Great Chronicle of The Buddhas
by Tipitakadhara Mingun Sayadaw

Edited and Translated by
U Ko Lay and U Tin Lwin

At the precise moment of Bodhisatta Deva Setaketu's demise, Siri Mahamaya, the Chief Queen of King Suddhodana of the Kingdom of Kapilavatthu, was enjoying magnificent regal pleasures. She had now reached the third portion of the second stage of life called majjhima vaya. (majjhima vaya = Third portion of the second stage of life: see Anudipani of this book. The human life-span then was one hundred years. Thus the age of Siri Mahamaya Devi was around fifty-five years and four months. This is elaborated in the Samanta Cakkhu Dipani.)

The festival of the constellation Uttarasalha

It was the ninth waxing day of Asaha (June-July) in the year 67, Maha Era, when the Chief Queen Siri Mahamaya was fifty-five years and four months old. The people of the kingdom were joyously celebrating the festival of the constellation Uttarasalha, a traditional annual event. One and all participated hilariously in the festivity, outdoing one another in merry-making.

Siri Mahamaya Devi also took part in the festival that was celebrated from the ninth to the fourteenth waxing moon. The festival was distinguished by total abstinence from liquor and by beautification with flowers, perfumes and ornaments. On the full-moon day of the month, the Chief Queen woke up early, took a perfumed bath, made a most generous donation, giving away money and materials worth four hundred thousand. She then dressed up herself and had breakfast of choicest food, after which she took the eight precepts (from her teacher hermit Devila), and proceeded to the exquisitely decorated royal chamber, and spent the entire day on a couch of splendour, observing the eight precepts.

Mahamaya's dream

Observing the eight precepts and lying on the couch of splendour in the last watch of the full-moon night, Siri Mahamaya Devi fell into a short slumber and had a dream, which foretold the conception of a Bodhisatta, as follows:

The four Catumaharaja Devas lifted and carried her together with the bed to Lake Anotatta in the Himalayas. Then she was placed on the flat surface of the orpiment slab measuring sixty yojanas under the shade of a saIa tree which was seven yojanas high.

Thereafter, consorts of the four Catumaharaja Devas came on the scene, took the queen to Lake Anotatta and bathed her and helped her get clean. Then they dressed her in celestial costumes and applied celestial cosmetics to her; they also adorned her with celestial flowers. Then she was put to sleep with her head towards the east in the inner chamber of a golden mansion inside a silver mountain not far away from the lake.

At that moment in her dream she saw a pure white elephant grazing around the golden mountain not far from the silver mountain where there was the golden mansion inside which she slept. Then the white elephant descended from the golden mountain, ascended the silver mountain and entered the golden mansion. The white elephant then walked around the Queen clockwise, and effected entry into her womb from the right side by breaking it open.

The conception of the Bodhisatta

At the time when the queen was thus dreaming, Bodhisatta Deva Setaketu was going round Nandavana Garden in Tusita, enjoying delightful sights and sounds; while doing so he passed away from the abode of Devas with full comprehension and awareness. At that very instant the Bodhisatta was conceived in the lotus-like womb of his mother with the first great resultant consciousness (mahavipaka citta), one of 19 initial thought moments (patisandhi citta), a resultant of the first great wholesome consciousness (mahakusala citta) accompanied by joy (somanassa sahagata), combined with knowledge nana sampayuta), unprompted (asankharika) and caused by preparatory development (parikamma bhavana) prior to the attainment of the Jhana of Loving-kindness (Metta jhana). The event took place on the morning of Thursday the full moon of Asalha in the year 67, Maha Era, founded by King Anjana, grandfather of the Bodhisatta. The precise moment of his conception was marked by the conjunction of the moon with the constellation Uttarasalha.

(The name of the year and the days of the Bodhisatta's conception and birth are mentioned here in accordance with the calculations given in secular works of astrology and chronicles of kings. The Pali Texts, Commentaries and Sub-commentaries are silent about them. The Gotamapurana gives the 2570th year of the kaliyuga as the date of birth of Buddha Gotama.)

The violent earthquake

Simultaneous with the Bodhisatta's conception, there occurred a violent earthquake. The ten thousand world-systems trembled and shook in the following six modes:

(1) the earth surface rose up in the east and sank down in the west;

(2) it rose up in the west and sank down in the east;

(3) it rose up in the north and sank down in the south;

(4) it rose up in the south and sank down in the north;

(5) it rose up in the centre and sank down along the circumference;

(6) it rose up along the circumference and sank down in the centre.

The thirty-two great prophetic phenomena

Moreover, there appeared the thirty-two great prophetic phenomena that usually accompany the conception of a Bodhisatta in his last existence. From these wonderful events the wise could learn: "The Bodhisatta has been conceived." The thirty-two prophetic phenomena as enumerated in the introduction to the Jataka Commentary are given as follows:

(1) a great light of unsurpassed brilliance spread throughout the entire ten thousand world-systems;

(2) the blind gained eyesight at that moment as if they were desirous of seeing the glory of the Bodhisatta;

(3) the deaf also gained hearing at that moment;

(4) the dumb also gained the ability to speak at that moment;

(5) the deformed also became normal at that moment;

(6) the lame also gained the ability to walk at that moment;

(7) the imprisoned and the fettered (with handcuffs, chains, etc., for confinement) become free of all bondage;

(8) fires in every hell became extinguished;

(9) those suffering in the woeful state of petas were relieved of thirst and hunger;

(10) animals became free from danger;

(11) all beings afflicted with diseases were cured;

(12) all beings spoke endearingly to one another;

(13) horses neighed gleefully in a sweet and pleasant manner

(14) elephants trumpeted in a sweet and pleasant manner;

(15) all musical instruments such as cymbals, harps, trumpets, etc.; produced their normal sounds without being played.

(16) ornaments such as bracelets, anklets, etc., worn by human beings tinkled without striking one another;

(17) open spaces and sceneries in all directions became distinct and clear;

(18) soft breeze blew gently, bringing peace and comfort to all living beings;

(19) unseasonable rain fell heavily, (although it was not the raining season, heavy rain fell roaringly),

(20) subterranean waters oozed out of earth and flowed away in this and that directions;

(21) no birds flew in the sky, (at that moment birds did not fly in the air at all);

(22) river waters that normally flowed continuously ceased to flow "as a frightened servant stops moving at the shout of his master";

(23) natural salty water in the ocean became sweet at that moment;

(24) all directions were covered with five kinds of lotus in three colours, (all lakes and ponds had their water surface covered with five kinds of lotus);

(25) all aquatic and terrestrial flowers blossomed simultaneously at that moment;

(26) flowers on tree trunks (khandha paduma) bloomed exquisitely;

(27) flowers on branches (sakha paduma) bloomed exquisitely;

(28) flowers on creepers (latapaduma) bloomed exquisitely;

(29) inflorescent flowers (danda paduma) sprouting all over the land appeared in seven tiers after breaking through stone-slabs;

(30) celestial lotus flowers dangled earthwards;

(31) flowers rained down continuously in the environs;

(32) celestial musical instruments made sound of music automatically.

These thirty-two great prophetic phenomena can also be called the thirty-two great wonders. The thirty-two wonders, that have been promised in the above Chapter on the Chronicle of the Twenty-Four Buddhas to be mentioned later in the "Chapter on the Chronicle of Buddha Gotama", were the same thirty-two great prophetic phenomena given here.

The entire ten thousand world-systems being adorned with such great prophetic phenomena appeared resplendent like a huge ball of flowers, or like a large bouquet massively made or a vast bed of flowers spread layer upon layer; the air around was laden with fragrance as though this were caused by the gentle movement of a yak-tail fly-flap

(Note on the thirty-two wonders is mentioned in the Anudipani of this book.)

Siri Mahamaya's dream read by learned Brahmins

When Queen Siri Mahamaya Devi woke up, she reported her dream to King Suddhodana.

On the following morning King Suddhodana summoned sixty-four leading Brahmin gurus and gave them prepared seats, that were fit fur noble ones, on the ground besmeared evenly with fresh cow dung and strewn all over with rice flakes and the like as an act of honour. The king also offered the Brahmins delicious milk-rice cooked with ghee, honey and molasses, filled to the brim of gold cups covered with gold and silver lids. And to make them pleased and satisfied the king presented them with starched clothes (brand new clothes), milch cows, and did other forms of honour.

After serving them with food etc., and honouring them thus to their pleasure and satisfaction, King Suddhodana had the queen's dream related to the Brahmins and asked them: "What does the dream mean, fortune or misfortune? Read it and give me your interpretations."

The Brahmins replied to the king, giving their interpretations: "Great King, lay all your anxieties to rest. The queen has now conceived. The baby in the womb is a boy, not a girl. A son will be born to you. If he chooses to lead a princely life he will surely become a Universal Monarch reigning over the four continents. If he renounces the household life as a recluse, he will surely become an Omniscient Buddha who destroys and removes the 'roof' of defilements in the three worlds."

The protection given by Deva Kings

From the moment the Bodhisatta was conceived, the Catumaharaja Devas, namely, Vessavana and others living in this universe, entered the splendid chamber of Queen Siri Mahamaya and gave protection continuously day and night, each holding a sword to ward of ghosts and ogres, unsightly beasts and birds, that could be seen or heard by the Bodhisatta and his mother. In this way forty thousand Maharaja Devas residing in the ten thousand world-systems (each system having four such deities) guarded the entire space from the doors of the queen's splendid chamber up to the edges of the world-system, driving away the ghosts, ogres, etc.

Such protection was afforded not because of the fear that someone would harm the lives of the Bodhisatta and his mother; verily, even if one hundred thousand crores of Maras were to bring one hundred thousand crores of gigantic Mount Merus to threaten the lives of the Bodhisatta in his last existence and his mother, all the Maras as well as the mountains would surely be destroyed; the Bodhisatta and his mother would remain unharmed.

Inspite of that, the protection had to he provided by the Catumaharaja Devas, each holding a sword just to ward off evil sights and sounds which could possibly cause anxiety and fear to the Queen. Another reason might be that Deva Kings protected the Bodhisatta through sheer veneration and devotion inspired by the Bodhisatta's glorious power.

The question may arise then whether the Deva Kings who came and kept guard inside the royal chamber of the Bodhisatta's mother made themselves visible or not to her. The answer is: they did not make themselves visible when she was bathing, dressing, eating and cleaning her body. They made themselves apparent when she entered her chamber of splendour and lay down on her excellent couch.

The sight of Devas might tend to frighten ordinary people, but it did not scare the Chief Queen at all by virtue of the Bodhisatta's glory and of her own. Seeing them was just like seeing familiar female and male palace guards.

The Mother's steadfast observance of moral precepts

The mother of a Bodhisatta in his last existence is usually steadfast in observing moral Precepts. Before the appearance of a Buddha, people usually took precepts from wandering ascetics by bowing and squatting respectfully before them, Queen Siri Mahamaya, prior to the conception of the Bodhisatta, also used to receive the precepts from Hermit Kaladevila. But when the Bodhisatta began to be conceived in her womb, it was no longer proper for her to sit at the feet of any other person. Only the precepts received from somebody as an equal (not as a subordinate) were observed. From the time of her conception of the Bodhisatta, she kept the precepts by herself. It should be noted that the Precepts were kept not at all by submitting herself as a disciple to hermit Kaladevila.

The absence of sensuous desires

The mother of a Bodhisatta in his last existence, from the time of pregnancy, becomes totally free of all sensuous desire for any man, even for the father of the Bodhisatta. It is her nature to remain chaste and pure. On the contrary, it cannot be said the sensuous thoughts would not arise in worldlings at the sight of her person. Because, by virtue of her long fulfilment of Perfections and performance at acts of merit, the mother of a Bodhisatta in his last existence is endowed with splendour or superb beauty, and elegance which could not be faithfully represented in any painting or sculpture of her by the most accomplished master artists and sculptors.

On seeing such a mother of the Bodhisatta, if onlookers are not satisfied with the mere sight of her, and if they would attempt to approach her with passionate thoughts, their feet would become transfixed on the spot as if they were fettered with iron chains. Therefore, it should be well borne in mind that the mother of Bodhisatta in his last existence is a noble, unique woman inviolable by any man or Deva.

The mother's womb likened to a stupa

The auspicious womb wherein a Bodhisatta is conceived is so sacred like a temple that no one else is worthy of occupying or making use of it. Besides, while the mother of a Bodhisatta is living no woman other than herself can be raised to the highest position as Chief Queen. Therefore, seven days after giving birth to the Bodhisatta, it is a natural phenomenon that she should pass away to Tusita abode of Devas. The lotus-like womb of Mahamaya Devi wherein the Bodhisatta remained was as if filled with brilliant diamonds.

The arrival of gifts

On hearing the good tidings that Mahamaya Devi, Chief Queen of King Suddhodana, ruler of the Kingdom of Kapilavatthu, had conceived a precious son of power and glory, kings from far and near sent most valuable gifts such as clothing, ornaments, musical instruments, etc., which might delight the Bodhisatta. The gifts that arrived in tribute from various quarters owing to the deeds of merit performed in previous existences by the Bodhisatta and his mother were so numerous as to defy any measure or count.

The mother seeing the child in her womb

Although Mahamaya Devi had conceived the Bodhisatta, she had no suffering at all such as swelling, pain, heaviness, etc. in the limbs unlike other pregnant women. Being thus free of these discomforts she easily passed through the first stage of her pregnancy. When she reached the advanced stage and the embryo took concrete shape with the development of the five main branches of the body, she often had a look at her child to find out whether the child was in a proper, comfortable position and, if not, to do the needful as in the way of all mothers. Whenever she took a look, she saw the Bodhisatta clearly like iridescent silk thread passing through the pure, clean, beautiful veluriya gem of eight facets; or, she saw him seated cross-legged reposefully leaning on the backbone of the mother like a speaker of Dhamma seated on the Dhamma throne leaning on its back-support.

The visibility or the Bodhisatta

The reason why Mahamaya Devi was able to see from outside the son remaining in the lotus-like chamber of her womb: by virtue of the deeds of merit performed by her in her previous existences, her skin texture and colour became extraordinarily clean and smooth, free from all impurities. The skin around the stomach was also smooth, clean and translucent like a sheet of glass or that of a priceless ruby. Thus the embryo was plainly visible to the mother who could see the Bodhisatta with naked eyes through the skin of her stomach, like an object encased in a crystal clear glass box.

Note: Though Mahamaya Devi could clearly see the son inside her womb, the latter from inside her womb could not see her because his eye consciousness (cakkhuvinnana) had not yet developed whilst in the mother's womb.

Maha Buddhavamsa - Nandavana Garden

Maha Buddhavamsa - Nandavana Garden

Maha Buddhavamsa
The Great Chronicle of The Buddhas
by Tipitakadhara Mingun Sayadaw

Edited and Translated by
U Ko Lay and U Tin Lwin

An account of Nandavana Garden will be given here as described in Nandana Vagga, etc., of the Sagatha Vagga Samyutta Commentary. Nandavana Garden is so named because it gives delight to all Devas who visit it.

Each of the six planes of the Deva world has its own Nandavana Garden. All these gardens give the same delight whether they belong to lower or upper celestial planes. Therefore only the Nandavana Garden of Tavatimsa abode is described in detail in the Texts (as an example).

This Nandavana Garden is a pleasant, splendid place with all kinds of precious celestial trees, flowers, pavilions, vehicles and a variety of enjoyable things which are enchanting, marvellous, awe-inspiring to the worldling. It is a true garden resort where Devas can amuse themselves with singing, dancing and other entertainments presented by dancers and artistes of various ages, various beauties, various voices, various forms and various colours; each troupe of performers tries to rival and outplay another in providing freely all kinds of sensual pleasures to those who come from all the four quarters.

This Nandavana Garden, considered by Devas to be a great adornment of their abode with all its splendour and auspiciousness, stands as the most charming resort, and those entering it to seek the five pleasures of senses—enjoyable sights, enjoyable sounds, enjoyable scents, enjoyable tastes and enjoyable touch—are all delighted and satisfied.

This Nandavana Garden is also a place of solace to those Devas who are nearing the end of their life-span; the five portents of impending demise which warn them of the coming fate inevitably appear then. Many Devas break down, sobbing and grieving at their imminent predicament of losing the blissful life for ever. But once they enter this enchanting garden they feel transformed back into persons of serenity, peace and happiness in an instant.

On whatever account they are afflicted with despair and lamentation, once Devas step inside Nandavana Garden they get absorbed in pleasures. As the morning dew and mist evaporate at the touch of the rays of the rising sun, as the flame of the oil lamp flickers and dies out through a strong gust of wind, so the worries of the dying Devas are laid to rest. A saying has come into existence thus: "He, who has not been to Nandavana Garden where all the best sensual pleasures of the world converge, cannot understand the real worldly happiness." Such is the attraction of Nandavana Garden to all worldlings.

In the exposition of Veranjakanda in the Vinaya Sarattha Dipani , Volume One, is given the following description: "Nandavana Garden of Tavatimsa Devas covers the area of sixty yojanas in extent. (According to some teachers, its extent is five hundred yojanas.) It is splendidly decorated by celestial trees of one thousand species." .

The Jinalankara Tika in its comment on Tividha Buddha Khetta also says: 'Nandavana Garden lies to the east of Sudassana City of Tavatimsa and is surrounded by walls, fire screens and arched gate ways made of jewels. The area measures one thousand yojanas. It is a recreational resort for all Devas. Two beautiful lakes, Mahananda and Culananda, are located between Nandavana Garden and Sudassana City. The environment of the lakes is clean. The surface water of the lakes is dark blue green, matching the sky free of mist and clouds.

" Time for the Bodhisatta Deva's demise.

When Bodhisatta Deva Setaketu entered Nandavana Garden, the accompanying retinue of male and female deities addressed him: .

"On your demise from this abode of Devas, may you proceed to a good abode, the destination of beings accomplished in meritorious deeds!"

The Devas accompanying Bodhisatta Setaketu also urged him to recollect again and again his acts of merit done in the past and moved about in Nandavana Garden, surrounding the Bodhisatta. While the Bodhisatta was roaming about in Nandavana Garden in the company of the Devas, who were urging him to reflect upon his previous meritorious life, the time of his demise arrived.

Maha Buddhavamsa - The Story of Setaketu Deva


Maha Buddhavamsa
The Great Chronicle of The Buddhas
by Tipitakadhara Mingun Sayadaw

Edited and Translated by
U Ko Lay and U Tin Lwin

In this way, our Future Gotama had adorned himself with the flower of prophecy, "This man will certainly become a Buddha amongst three kinds of beings (men, Devas and Brahmas)", uttered by the twenty-four Buddhas, ranging from Dipankara to Kassapa, out of the twenty seven Buddhas who appeared in the period of time lasting four asankhyeyya and one hundred thousand aeons. Throughout that period of four asankhyeyya and one hundred thousand aeons, the Bodhisatta had endeavoured to fulfil the Perfections (Parami), sacrifices (caga) and virtues through practices (cariya) by the aforesaid four means of development (bhavana) and reached the pinnacle of the fulfillment of all these requisites conducive to the attainment of Buddhahood. This being so, in the last existence as a Future Buddha when he was reborn as Prince Vessantara, he brought to termination the entire period of Parami-accumulation by performing all the final acts of merit which surpassed everything, which was beyond comparison and which was to be crowned with success of enlightenment. This commanded the awe and veneration even of the inanimate great earth (mahapathavi) that quaked and trembled seven times. And having ended his life-span in the human abode, the Future Buddha was reborn as a Deva by the name of Setaketu in the abode of Tusita. He was endowed with the ten attributes in which he was superior to other Devas, namely, (1) long life; (2) physical beauty; (3) great happiness; (4) immense wealth and retinue; (5) authority and power, (6) sense of sight; (7) sense of hearing; (8) sense of smell, (9) sense of taste; (10) sense of touch.

(When it is said that "the great ocean, starting from the Cakkavala range of mountains, gets deeper and deeper till it reaches the foot of Mount Meru, and its depth becomes eighty-four thousand yojanas," it goes without saying that counting all droplets of water in the ocean is impossible. In the same way, when virtuous people learned briefly from hearing or from reading that the Future Buddha, in four asankhyeyya and one hundred thousand aeons, untiringly and continuously fulfilled the Parami, cagas and cariyas by the four means of development, one can reflect profoundly with devotional faith on how the Bodhisatta had developed the Perfections, etc. in the course of existences that were more numerous than the countless droplets of water in the great ocean.)

The uproar announcing appearance of a Buddha
(Buddha kolahala)

Deva Setaketu, the Future Buddha, enjoyed the supreme divine bliss in the abode of Tusita for four thousand years according to Deva reckoning, which is equivalent to five hundred and seventy-six million years in the human world. Then one thousand years by human calculations before the end of his life-span an Tusita, Suddhavasa Brahmas proclaimed:

"Friends, in a thousand years from today, there will appear in the human abode an Omniscient Buddha!"

Because of this proclamation from the vault of heaven, the uproar announcing the appearance of a Buddha (Buddha kolahala), "An Omniscient Buddha will be appearing! An Omniscient Buddha will be appearing!" reverberated across the entire human world one thousand years ahead of the event.

(With reference to the name of the Bodhisatta Deva, it is mentioned in the Chapter on Ratanasankama, Buddhavamsa Pali, as follows: Yada'ham tusite kaye santusito nama'ham tada. This shows that the Deva had the name of Santusita. Also in the Buddhavamsa Commentary and Jinalankara Tika the same name is mentioned. But in the exposition of the Pubbenivasa-katha, Veranja-kanda of the Parajika Commentary, and in the exposition of the Bhayabherava Sutta of the Mulapanasa Commentary, the Deva's name is given as Setaketu. Moreover, successive authors of Myanmar Buddhavamsas such as the Tathagata-Udana Dipani, Malalankara Vatthu, Jinatthapakasani etc., give Setaketu as the name of the Deva. Therefore, it has been explained by various teachers that Santusita was a common name derived from Tusita, the name of the celestial abode, whereas Setaketu was the proper name that specifically refers to the Deva who would become Buddha Gotama.)

The request made to the Bodhisatta Deva

On hearing the uproar announcing the advent of a Buddha, all Deva kings belonging to the ten thousand world-systems, such as Catu Maharajas, Sakka, Suyama, Santusita, Sunimmita, Vasavatti and all Maha-Brahmas congregated in a certain universe to hold a discussion on the Future Buddha whose divine life-span remained only seven days by human reckoning, and whose approaching end of life had become manifest through five predicting signs (pubbanimittas) (pubbanimittas: See the Anudipani in this book for details. ) Then they all approached Setaketu Deva with their hands joined in adoration and requested him as follows:

"O Bodhisatta Deva, you had completely fulfilled the ten Perfections, not with the desire to gain the bliss of Sakka, of Mara, of Brahma, or of a Universal Monarch. You had fulfilled these Perfections, aspiring only after Omniscient Buddhahood in order to acquire for yourself freedom from the three worlds as well as to liberate the multitudes of humans, Devas and Brahmas. O Bodhisatta Deva, this is the most propitious time for you to become an Omniscient Buddha! This is truly the right moment to become an Omniscient Buddha! Therefore, may you take conception in the womb of your mother of the human abode. After attaining Supreme Enlightenment, may you liberate humans, Devas and Brahmas from samsara by teaching the Dhamma on Deathlessness, Nibbana."

The Bodhisatta made the five great investigations

The Bodhisatta Deva Setaketu did not hastily give his consent to the supplication of the Devas and Brahmas who had come together from the ten thousand world-systems; in consonance with the tradition of previous Bodhisattas, he made the five great investigations as follows:

(1) appropriate time for the appearance of a Buddha,

(2) appropriate island-continent for the appearance of a Buddha,

(3) appropriate country for the appearance of a Buddha,

(4) the family into which the Bodhisatta (in his last existence) is reborn, and

(5) the span of life of the Bodhisatta's mother.

(1) Of these five great investigations, the Bodhisatta considered first: "Is the time right or not for the appearance of a Buddha in the human world?" The time is not proper for the advent of a Buddha when the life-span of human beings is on the increase from one hundred thousand years. Owing to such longevity, suffering caused by birth, suffering caused by disease, suffering caused by old age and suffering caused by death are not manifest. Veiled by their lengthy life-span, human beings tend to be oblivious of all suffering. The Dhamma sermons to be delivered by Buddhas invariably centre around the characteristics of impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha) and non-self (anatta). If Buddhas who appear when the life-span is more than one hundred thousand years give sermons on the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta the people of that period will be perplexed, wondering what the Buddhas are teaching; they will neither listen to nor believe the sermons. Without listening or believing, human beings will surely wonder what the Buddhas' preaching is. They will never realize the Four Noble Truths and never achieve Nibbana. It will be fruitless to teach the non-believers the discourse on the three characteristics which would liberate them from samsara. Therefore, the period when the life span extends more than one thousand years is not the proper time for Buddhas to appear.

The period when the life-span of human beings falls below one hundred years is also not proper for a Buddha's appearance because beings belonging to such a period abound in the defilements of sensual pleasures. The Dhamma sermons given to such people will not endure; in fact, they will fade away instantly just as the scribbling with a stick on the surface of the water will disappear, leaving no mark whatsoever. Therefore the short period of the declining life-span below one hundred years is also not the proper time for the Buddhas to appear.

Only the periods ranging from one hundred thousand years life-span to one hundred years' life-span are right for the coming of a Buddha. These are the periods in which birth, old age and death manifest themselves easily, in which the teaching on the three characteristics and the teaching as to how beings can be liberated from samsara as understood easily and in which beings are not so overwhelmed by the defilements of sensual pleasures. Hence the appropriateness of the period for the most opportune arrival of a Buddha. Therefore, only the period below the one hundred thousand years' life span and the period above the one hundred years' life-span by human reckoning is the most propitious time for a Bodhisatta to attain Buddhahood. (Incidentally, when the Devas and Brahmas made their entreaty to Setaketu, the life span of human beings was in the one-hundred-year range.) Thus Bodhisatta Setaketu Deva came to see the right time clearly and decided, "This is the most propitious time for me to become a Buddha."

(2) Then he investigated the island-continent which serves as the place for the appearance of Buddhas. There are four large island-continents, each surrounded by five hundred smaller islands. Of these, one, which is called Jambudipa as it is distinguished by a Jambu (rose apple or Eugenia) tree growing on it, was discerned clearly by the Bodhisatta as the only island-continent on which previous Buddhas had appeared.

(3) Then he went on investigating thus: "This Jambudipa is extremely vast measuring ten thousand yujanas. Where did former Buddhas appear in this vast expanse of land?" Then he saw Majjhimadesa, the Middle Country, in Jambudipa as the place for the appearance of ancient Buddhas.

(Majjhimadesa, the Middle Country, is demarcated on the east by the great sala tree east of the market-town of Gajangala; on the south-east by the river Sallavati; on the south by the market town of Setakannika; on the west by the Brahmin village of Thuna; on the north by Usiraddhaja mountain. The Middle country having the said five demarcations is three hundred yojanas in length and two hundred and fifty yojanas in breadth with the circumference of nine hundred yojanas. Regions outside this boundary are called border areas (paccanta). Only in Majjhimadesa do Omniscient Buddhas, Pacceka Buddhas, Chief Disciples, eighty Great Disciples, Universal Monarchs and powerful, wealthy Khattiya, Brahmana and Gahapati clans live and prosper.)

In the Middle Country was situated Kapilavatthu, the royal city of the kingdom of the Sakyas. Bodhisatta Deva Setaketu decided that he should be reborn in that royal city.

(4) Investigating the family in which the Bodhisatta in his last existence should be reborn, he clearly perceived: "The former Bodhisattas in their respective last existences belonged neither to the merchant class nor to the poor class. They were born only in a royal or a brahmin family, whichever is considered superior by the people of the period. At the time when people show the highest honour to the ruling families, the Bodhisatta is born in their class. At the time when people do so to the brahmins, he is born in one of their families. The present time witnesses the aristocrats being honoured by the people; I should be reborn in one of these families. Among them King Suddhodana of Kapilavatthu is a direct descendent of Mahasammata, the first elected primeval king, through an uninterrupted Khattiya lineage of pure Sakya clan. This King Suddhodana of pure, noble birth shall be my father."

(5) Finally, he investigated as to who should be his mother in his last human existence. He clearly perceived: "The royal mother of a Buddha is a paragon of modesty and chastity; she never indulges in liquor or intoxicants; she has accumulated merit and fulfilled perfections throughout one hundred thousand aeons to become the mother of a Buddha. From the moment she is born as the future mother of a Buddha, she continuously observes and upholds the five precepts without any breach. Siri Mahamaya Devi, the Chief Consort of King Suddhodana, is fully endowed with all these qualities. Thus this Chief Queen Siri Mahamaya Devi shall be my mother." Then investigating further the remaining life-span of Siri Mahamaya Devi, he perceived clearly that she had only ten months and seven days more to live.

The consent given to the Devas and Brahmas

In this way, after making the five great investigations, the Bodhisatta Deva Setaketu resolved, "I will descend to the human abode and become a Buddha." Having so resolved, to the Devas and Brahmas from the ten thousand world-systems who had assembled to request him, the Bodhisatta gave his consent thus: "O Devas and Brahmas, now is the time for me to become a Buddha as requested by you. You may now take leave as you please; I will go down to the human abode to attain Buddhahood."

After delivering his pledge and bidding farewell to all Devas and Brahmas, Bodhisatta Deva Setaktu, entered Nandavana Celestial Garden accompanied by Tusita Devas.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - Glossary

The Debate of King Milinda
edited by Bhikkhu Pesala

Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc.

4 Fruits of the Path
1. The Stream-winner (sotàpanna). On realising  nibbàna
for the first time the stream-winner destroys the three
fetters of personality-belief, belief in rites and rituals,
and doubts. He is incapable of committing any of the
heinous crimes and if he does any other evil he is
incapable of concealing it. He is assured of attaining
arahantship within seven lives at the most.
2. The Once-returner (sakadàgàmi) greatly reduces the
strength of the fetters of desire and ill-will and will, at
most, be reborn only once more on earth before
attaining arahantship.
3. The Non-returner (anàgàmi) eradicates totally the
fetters of desire and ill-will and will not be reborn again
on earth but will gain arahantship in the higher planes of
devas or Brahmàs.
4. The Arahant removes the remaining five fetters,
destroys all ignorance and craving and puts an end to
all forms of rebirth, thus gaining the final goal of the
holy life.
4 Modes of Fearlessness (vesàrajja)
The Blessed One said, “I do not see any grounds on which
anyone might reprove me as to: 1) being fully awakened,
2) the floods being fully destroyed, 3)knowledge of what
is an obstacle to progress, 4)knowledge of Dhamma that
leads to the destruction of the floods.

5 Aggregates of Being (khandha)
When we say ‘living being’ it is just a conventional way of
speaking. Underlying this convention are the wrong views
of personality-belief, permanence and substantiality.
However, if we consider more carefully what a living be-
ing or a person really is we will find only a stream of ever
changing phenomena. These can be arranged in five
groups: the body or material phenomena; feelings, percep-
tions, mental formations and consciousness. It should not
be understood that these groups are something stable;
they are only categories.
5 Hindrances (nãvaraõa)
Sensual desire, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and
remorse, doubt. These defilements are called hindrances
because they obstruct the development of concentration.
8 Causes of Earthquakes
1.This earth is supported by water, the water by air, the
air by space. At times great winds blow strongly and
the water is shaken. When the water is shaken, the
earth is shaken. (N.B. Water is the element of cohesion
or fluidity, air the element of motion. These elements
are present even in molten rock).
2.A recluse or deity of great power causes the earth to
shake by the power of concentration.
3.When the Bodhisatta passes away from the Tusita
heaven, mindfully and deliberately, and is conceived in
his mother’s womb, the great earth shakes.

4.When the Bodhisatta issues forth from his mother’s
womb, mindfully and deliberately, the great earth shakes.
5.When the òathàgata attains the supreme and perfect
enlightenment the great earth shakes.
6.When the Tathàgata sets in motion the wheel of the
Dhamma the great earth shakes.
7.When the Tathàgata, mindfully and deliberately, gives
up the life-sustaining mental process, the great earth
shakes. (He could prolong his life by supernormal
power but not being asked, he gives up the possibility
and announces the time of his death.)
8.When a Buddha passes away and attains  parinibbàna
the great earth shakes.
10 Fetters (saüyojana)
Sensual desire (kàmachanda), ill-will (byàpàda), pride
(màna), personality-belief (sakkàyadiññhi), doubt (vicikicchà),
adherence to rites and ceremonies (sãlabattaü), desire for
existence (råparàga), jealousy (issà), avarice (macchariya),
ignorance (avijjà).
10 Perfections (pàramã)
Generosity (dàna), virtue (sãla), renunciation (nekkhamma),
wisdom (pa¤¤à), energy (viriya), patience (khanti), truthful-
ness (sacca), determination (adhiññhàna), loving-kindness
(mettà) and equanimity (upekkhà).
18 Characteristics of a Buddha (Buddhadhammà)
1–3) Seeing all things; past, present and future. 4–6) Pro-
priety of action, speech and thought. 7–12) Establishment

of the following so that they cannot be frustrated by others:
intentions, doctrines, that which proceeds from concentra-
tion, energy, liberation and wisdom. 13) Avoiding pleas-
ures or anything that could  invite ridicule; 14) Avoiding
strife and contention. 15)  Omniscience. 16) Doing all
things fully conscious. 17)  Doing all things with some
purpose. 18)Not doing anything from unwise partiality.
32 Parts of the Body (for contemplation)
Head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin; flesh, sinews,
bones, bone-marrow, kidneys; heart, liver, membranes,
spleen, lungs; large intestine, small intestine, mesentery,
gorge, faeces; bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat; solid fat,
liquid fat, saliva, nasal mucus, synovic fluid, urine, brain.
Abhidhamma — the higher teaching. It uses the analytical
method. Whereas the discourses use the conventional
language of man or being the Abhidhamma uses terms
like ‘five aggregates of being,’ mind and matter, visible
object and sensitive eye-base etc.
Absorptions (jhàna) — Stages of mental concentration
gained by inhibiting the five hindrances. The result of
these states is rebirth in the Brahmà realm.
Austerities (dukkarakàrikà) — These are practices of self
mortification, which were practised by the Bodhisatta.
They should be distinguished from ascetic practices
(dhutanga), which, although difficult, are neither ignoble
nor unprofitable.

Arahant — See 4 Fruits of the Path.
Bactrian Greek — (Yonaka). There are several references to
Yonaka other than in the Milinda Pa¤ha. An inscription in
caves at Nasik, near Bombay refers to nine Yonaka who
were donors, and the  Mahàvaüsa has references to
monks from Yona, one Yonadhammarakkhita who must
have been a Bactrian Greek bhikkhu.
Bhikkhu — A Buddhist monk who has received the higher
ordination. The literal meaning is ‘beggar’ though a
bhikkhu is not allowed to beg, but may only stand and
wait for alms to be offered.
Bodhisatta — A being totally dedicated to the attainment
of the perfect enlightenment of a Buddha, for which one
has to develop the perfections for many aeons.
Bodhi Tree — The tree under which the Bodhisatta be-
came Buddha. The ânanda Bodhi Tree was a sapling of
the original tree that ânanda brought to Sàvatthi to re-
mind people of the Buddha when he was away.
Another sapling was sent to Sri Lanka by Asoka and is
still worshipped.
Brahmà — A god or divine being who is in a plane of exist-
ence detached from sensuality.
Brahmacàrin — One who leads a life of chastity.
Brahman — A Hindu priest or one of that caste.

Càra (good conduct) is the fulfilment of duties. Its counter-
part, sãla, is refraining from wrong-doing.
Merit (pu¤¤à) — Good actions that are the basis for happi-
ness and prosperity in the round of rebirths.
Minor and Lesser Precepts — The Pàñimokkha rules are ar-
ranged in seven groups in order of severity. Offences of
Defeat (pàràjika), Formal Meeting (saïghàdisesa), Indeter-
minate (aniyata), Forfeiture (nissaggiyà pàcittiya), Expia-
tion (pàcittiya), Confession (patidesaniyà) and Wrong-
doing (dukkaña). Wrong speech (dubhàsita) is not included
in the  Pàñimokkha itself but is found elsewhere in the
Vinaya rule. The author’s decision on this matter is very
reasonable, since the pàcittiya rules include killing ani-
mals, drinking intoxicants, telling lies, hitting or abusing
monks. These could not be called ‘minor’ training rules
that the Buddha might have considered optional after
his passing away.
— See 4 Fruits of the Path.
Parinibbàna — The death of a Buddha, Pacceka Buddha or
Patimokkha — The 227 training rules that the monks recite
in the Uposatha day ceremony every full-moon and new-

Puthujjana (Ordinary Person) — A distinction should be
made between a blind worldling (andho puthujjana) and a
well-informed person (kalyàõa puthujjana). Neither is free
from personality belief, but the well-informed person
who has faith in the Buddha’s enlightenment and be-
lieves in kamma will cultivate the path to enlightenment.
The blind worldling, who holds wrong views, will rarely
do wholesome deeds like charity, let alone take up the ar-
duous practice of meditation for concentration or insight.
Rains (vassa) — The three months from August to October
during which the monks remain in one place. A monk’s
seniority is measured in rains or the number of years he
has been a monk.
Reasoning (yoniso manasikàra) — Often translated as ‘Sys-
tematic attention’. It means paying attention to the char-
acteristics that reduce defilements rather than to those
that increase them.
Samaõa — A recluse or ascetic, not necessarily Buddhist.
Solitary Buddha — A Pacceka Buddha or one who attains
enlightenment without the help of an Omniscient Buddha.
Unlike an Omniscient Buddha, the Solitary Buddha has
not fully developed the ability to teach others.
Stream-winner — See 4 Fruits of the Path.
Sutta — The collection of discourses containing the major-
ity of the Buddha’s teaching to both monastics and laity.

Tipiñaka — The threefold collection of Sutta, Vinaya and
Abhidhamma;  i.e. discourses, disciplinary rules and
Vedagå — is used in the Milinda Pa¤ha in the sense of a soul
or experiencer who sees, hears, smells, tastes, feels or
knows. It is also an epithet of the Buddha meaning ‘The
one who has attained to knowledge’.
Vinaya — The six books of the Tipiñaka that deal with the
monks’ discipline and other regulatory matters.
Visuddhimagga — A much respected manual, written in
Pali in the 3rd century A.D. by Venerable Buddhaghosa,
that elucidates the three-fold training of virtue, concen-
tration and wisdom.

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Similes

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Similes

The Debate of King Milinda
edited by Bhikkhu Pesala

Chapter 18
The Similes
“Venerable Nàgasena, with which qualities
must a monk be endowed in order to realise
1. The Donkey
“Just, O king, as the donkey, wherever he may lie down,
does not rest long; so should the monk who is intent on
arahantship not rest long.”
2. The Cockerel
“As the cockerel goes to roost at the proper time; so should
the monk quickly perform his duties239 after the almsround
and enter a solitary place for meditation.
“As the cockerel rises early; so should the monk rise early.
“As the cockerel constantly scratches the ground in
search of food; so should the monk constantly reflect on the
food he takes reminding himself, ‘I eat this not for enjoy-
ment, nor for complexion, but merely to appease the pain
of hunger and to enable me to practise the holy life, thus I
shall put an end to sorrow’.
238.In the Pali text, 67 similes are given but some of them are repetitive and others rely for
their effectiveness on a play on words in Pali which is difficult to translate so I have only
included a selection here. The numbering, however, has been retained to make cross-
reference easier.
239.As a point of interest, one of the duties mentioned is sweeping the surround to the cetiya
or pagoda. In the time of Asoka some 84,000 were built in India, but above in Dilemma
25 honouring the remains of the Tathàgata was not the duty of monks. In the Mahàyàna
Vinaya there are a number of extra minor training rules relating to the proper conduct
with regard to cetiyas.

“As the cockerel, though it has eyes, is blind at night;
so should the monk while meditating be as if blind, paying
no attention to sense objects that might disturb his con-
“As the cockerel, even though driven off with sticks
and stones, will not desert his roost; so should the monk not
give up his mindfulness whether he is engaged in making
robes, in building, teaching, studying the scriptures, or in
other work.
4. The Female Panther
“As the panther conceives only once and does not resort
again to the male; so should the monk, seeing the suffering
inherent in rebirth, resolve not to enter on any future
existence. For this was said by the Buddha, O king, in the
Dhaniya Sutta of the Sutta Nipàta:
“Having broken the fetters like a bull,
as an elephant having broken the creepers,
so there will be no more rebirth for me.
Therefore, rain, O cloud, if you like!”240
7. The Bamboo
“As the bamboo bends whichever way the wind blows; so
should the monk be flexible and conform to the teaching.
10. The Monkey
“As the monkey dwells in a mighty tree, well covered with
branches; so should the monk dwell with a learned teacher,
who is worthy of veneration and able to instruct him.
240.Sn. v 29. Trnsl. Hammalawa Saddhàtissa

12. The Lotus
“As the lotus remains undefiled by the water in which it is
born and grows; so should the monk be undefiled by
support, offerings and veneration.
“As the lotus remains lifted far above the water; so
should the monk remain far above worldly things.
“As the lotus trembles in the slightest breeze; so
should the monk tremble at the mere thought of doing any
evil, seeing danger in the slightest fault.
20. The Ocean
“As the ocean casts out corpses on the shore; so should the
monk cast out defilements from his mind.
“As the ocean, though it contains many treasures,
does not cast them up; so should the monk possess the
gems of the attainments but not display them.
“As the ocean associates with mighty creatures; so
should the monk associate with those fellow disciples who
are of few desires, virtuous, learned and wise.
“As the ocean does not overflow its shore; so should the
monk never transgress the precepts even for the sake of his life.
“As the ocean is not filled up even by all the rivers
that flow into it; so should the monk never be satiated with
hearing the teaching and instruction in the Dhamma, Vinaya
and Abhidhamma.
21. The Earth
“As the great earth is unmoved by fair or foul things
thrown down on it; so should the monk remain unmoved
by praise or blame, support or neglect.

“As the great earth is unadorned but has its own
odour; so should the monk be unadorned with perfumes
but endowed with the fragrance of his virtue.
“As the great earth is never weary though it bears
many things; so should the monk never be weary of giving
instruction, exhortation and encouragement.
“As the great earth is without malice or fondness; so
should the monk be without malice or fondness.
22. Water
“As water naturally remains still; so should the monk be
without hypocrisy, complaining, hinting, and improper
behaviour and remain undisturbed and pure by nature.
“As water always refreshes; so should the monk,
full of compassion, always seek the good and benefit of
“As water never harms anyone; so should the monk,
earnest in effort, never do any wrong that would produce
quarrels or strife, or anger or discontent. For it was said by
the Blessed One in the Kaõha Jàtaka:
“O Sakka, Lord of all the world, a choice thou didst declare:
No creature be aught harmed for me,
O Sakka, anywhere, Neither in body nor in mind:
this, Sakka, is my prayer.”241
27. The Moon
“As the moon increases day by day in the waxing phase; so
should the monk increase in good qualities day by day.
241.Jà. iv. 14. PTS trnsl

30. The Universal Monarch
“As the universal monarch gains the favour of the people
by the four bases of popularity [generosity, affability,
justice and impartiality] so should the monk gain the
favour of monks and laity.
“As the universal monarch allows no robbers to dwell
in his realm; so should the monk allow no cruel, lustful or
angry thought to dwell in his mind.
“As the universal monarch travels all over the world
examining the good and the bad; so should the monk exam-
ine himself thoroughly as to his thoughts, words and deeds.
35. The Mongoose
“As the mongoose protects himself with an antidote before
approaching a snake; so should the monk protect himself
with loving-kindness before approaching the world, which
abounds in anger and malice, strife and contention.
40. The Elephant
“As the elephant turns his whole body when he looks
round; so should the monk turn his whole body when he
looks round, not glancing this way and that but keeping his
eyes well controlled.
“As the elephant lifts up his feet and walks with care;
so should the monk be mindful and clearly comprehending
in walking.
46. The Indian Crane
“As the Indian crane warns people about their future fate
with his cry; so should the monk warn people about their
future fate with his teaching of Dhamma.

47. The Bat
“As the bat, though he sometimes enters men’s houses,
soon leaves; so should the monk, though he enters men’s
houses for alms, soon leave.
“As the bat when he frequents men’s houses does no
harm; so should the monk when visiting men’s houses do
no harm there, being easily supportable and considerate of
their welfare.
48. The Leech
“As the leech feeds until he is satisfied before he lets go; so
should the monk take a firm hold of his meditation object
and drink the delicious nectar of freedom until he is
50. The Rock Snake
“As the rock snake can survive for many days without food
but still keep himself alive; so should the monk be able to
keep himself going even though he receives only a little
alms. For this was said by Venerable Sàriputta:
“Whether it be dry food or wet he eats, let him to
full repletion never eat. The good recluse goes forth
in emptiness, and keeps to moderation in his food.
If but four mouthfuls or five he gets, let him drink water
for what cares a man with mind on arahantship fixed
for ease.”242
242.Thag. vv 982, 983.

60. The Carpenter
“As the carpenter discards rotten wood and takes only
sound timber; so should the monk discard wrong views
like eternalism, nihilism, the soul is the body, the soul is
one thing the body another, all teachings are alike excellent,
the unconditioned is an impossibility, men’s actions are
useless, there is no holy life, when a being dies a new being
is reborn, conditioned things are eternally existing, the one
who acts experiences the result thereof, one acts and
another experiences the result, and all other such wrong
views on the result of kamma (intention) and action (kiriya).
Having discarded all such paths he should seize the idea of
voidness, which is the true nature of conditioned things.
61. The Waterpot
“As the waterpot that is full makes no noise; so should the
monk be not garrulous even though he knows much, for
this was said by the Blessed One:
“Listen to the sound of water.
Listen to the water running through chasms and rocks.
It is the minor streams that make a loud noise,
The great waters flow silently.”
“The hollow resounds and the full is still.
Foolishness is like a half-filled pot;
The wise man is a lake full of water.”243
243.Sn. vv 720, 721, trnsl. Hammalawa Saddhàtissa. Only the second verse.

On the conclusion of this debate between the elder and the
king the great earth shook six times, lightning flashed and
the gods rained down flowers from heaven. Milinda was
filled with joy of heart and all his pride was subdued. He
ceased to have any doubt about the Triple Gem and,
renouncing all obstinacy, like a cobra deprived of its fangs
he said, “Most excellent, venerable Nàgasena! You have
solved the puzzles that were worthy of a Buddha to solve.
Among the Buddha’s followers there is no one like you,
except for Venerable Sàriputta. Please forgive me for my
faults. May you accept me as a follower, as one gone for
refuge for as long as life lasts.”
The king, with his soldiers, supported the elder and
his large following and had a dwelling place constructed
called Milinda Vihàra. Later, Milinda handed over his
kingdom to his son and, going forth into homelessness, he
developed his insight and attained arahantship.

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Ascetic Practices

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Ascetic Practices

The Debate of King Milinda
edited by Bhikkhu Pesala

Chapter 17
The Ascetic Practices
The king saw monks in the forest, lone and
far away from men, keeping hard vows.
Then he saw householders at home, enjoy-
ing the sweet fruits of the Noble Path.
Considering both of these deep doubts he
felt, “If laymen also realise the truth, then surely making
vows must be worthless. Come! Let me ask that best of
teachers, wise in the threefold collection of the Buddha’s
words, skilled to overthrow the arguments of the oppo-
nents. He will be able to resolve my doubts!”
Milinda approached Nàgasena, paid respects to him,
and seated at one side asked: “Venerable Nàgasena, is there
any layperson who has attained nibbàna?”
“Not only one hundred or a thousand but more than
a billion227 have attained nibbàna. “
“If, Nàgasena, laypeople living at home, enjoying the
pleasures of the senses can attain nibbàna what is the use of
the extra vows? If one’s enemies could be subdued with
fists alone what would be the use of seeking weapons? If
trees could be climbed by clambering up what would be the
use of ladders? If it was comfortable to lie on the bare
ground what would be the use of beds? Just so, if a layper-
son can attain nibbàna even while living at home what is the
use of the extra vows?”
227.As well as human beings there were millions of deities and Brahmas who realised
nibbàna while listening to the Dhamma

“There are, O king, twenty-eight virtues of these
practices on account of which the Buddhas have a high
regard for them. The keeping of the vows is a pure mode
of livelihood, its fruit is blissful, it is blameless, it brings no
suffering to others, it gives confidence,
228 it doesn’t
229 it is certain to bring growth in good qualities, it
prevents back-sliding, it doesn’t delude, it is a protection,
it fulfils one’s desires, it tames all beings, it is good for self-
discipline, it is proper for a recluse, he is independent,
he is free,
231 it destroys desire, it destroys hatred, it
destroys delusion, it humbles pride, it cuts off discursive
thoughts and makes the mind one-pointed, it overcomes
doubts, it drives away sloth, it banishes discontent, it
makes him tolerant, it is incomparable, it is beyond
measure, and it leads to the destruction of all suffering.
“Whosoever carries out these vows becomes en-
dowed with eighteen good qualities. His conduct is pure,
his practice is fully accomplished, his actions and speech
are well-guarded, his thoughts are pure, his energy is
stirred up, his fear is allayed, views of personality are
dispelled, wrath dies away and love arises, he eats per-
ceiving the repulsive nature of food, he is honoured by
all beings, he is moderate in eating, he is full of vigilance,
he is homeless and can dwell wherever it suits him, he
detests evil, he delights in solitude, and he is always
228.He is free from fear of robbers.
229.That is by the need to protect property.
230.He is unattached to families.
231.He is free to go anywhere. Vism. 59-83.

“These ten individuals are worthy of undertaking the
vows: one full of confidence, full of shame, full of courage,
void of hypocrisy, one who is self-reliant, steadfast, desir-
ous of training, of strong determination, very introspective,
and one who is of a loving disposition.
“All those laypeople who realise nibbàna while living
at home do so because they practised these vows in former
births. There is no realisation of the goal of arahantship in
this very life without these vows. Only by the utmost zeal-
ousness is arahantship attained. Thus the value of keeping
the vows if full of value and might.
“Whosoever, O king, having evil desires in his mind,
should take upon himself these vows seeking after material
gain shall incur a double punishment; in this world he will be
scorned and ridiculed and after death he will suffer in hell.
“Whosoever, O king, whose conduct is consistent
with monkhood, who is worthy of it, who desires little and
is content, given to seclusion, energetic, without guile, and
has gone forth not from desire for gain or fame but with
confidence in the Dhamma, wishing for deliverance from
old age and death, he is worthy of double honour for he is
loved by gods and men and he quickly attains the four
fruits, the four kinds of discrimination,
the three-fold
vision233 and the sixfold higher knowledge.
“What are the thirteen vows? Wearing rag-robes,
using only three robes, living only on alms-food, begging
232. Pañisambhidà¤àõa — Discrimination of meaning, law, language and intelligence.
233. Tevijjà — Recollection of past lives, knowledge of the arising and passing away of
beings, knowledge of destruction of the floods (àsava).
234. Abhi¤¤àõa — Supernormal power such as flying through the air, the divine ear or
clairaudience, penetration of minds, plus the above three

from house to house without preference, eating one meal a
day, eating from the bowl only, refusing later food, dwell-
ing in the forest, dwelling at the root of a tree, dwelling in
the open, dwelling in a cemetery, using any sleeping place
allotted to him, and not lying down to sleep.
“It was by the observance of these vows that Upasena
was able to visit the Blessed One when he was dwelling in
and it was by these same vows that Sàriputta
became of such exalted virtue that he was declared second
only to the Blessed One himself in ability to preach the
“Very good, Nàgasena, the whole teaching of the
Buddha, the supramundane attainments and all the best
achievements in the world are included in these thirteen
ascetic practices.”
235.See Vism. 59ff, for details.
236.Vin. iii. 230ff.
237.A. i. 23, cf. S. i. 191.

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - A Question Solved by Inference

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - A Question Solved by Inference

The Debate of King Milinda
edited by Bhikkhu Pesala

Chapter 16
A Question Solved by Inference
Milinda the king went up to the place
where Nàgasena was and, having paid
respect to him, sat down at one side.
Longing to know, to hear and to bear in
mind, and wishing to dispel his ignorance,
he roused up his courage and energy, established self-
possession and mindfulness and spoke thus to Nàgasena:
“Have you, venerable Nàgasena, ever seen the
“No, great king.”
“Then have your teachers ever seen the Buddha?”
“No, great king.”
“So, Nàgasena, the Buddha did not exist; there is no
clear evidence of the Buddha’s existence.”
“Did those warriors exist who were the founders of
the line of kings from which you are descended?”
“Certainly, venerable sir, there can be no doubt about
“Have you ever seen them?”
“No, venerable sir.”
“Have your teachers and ministers of state who lay
down the law ever seen them?”
“No, venerable sir.” D. i. Sta. 13.

“Then there is no clear evidence of the existence of
those warriors of old.”
“Nevertheless, Nàgasena, the royal insignia used by
them are still to be seen and by these we can infer and know
that the warriors of old really existed.”
“Just so, O king, we can know that the Blessed One
lived and believe in him. The royal insignia used by him are
still to be seen. There are the four foundations of mind-
fulness, the four right efforts, the four bases of success, the
five moral powers, the five controlling faculties, the seven
factors of enlightenment and the eight factors of the path;
and by these we can infer and know that the Blessed One
really existed.”
“Give me an illustration.”
“As people seeing a fine, well-planned city would
know it was laid out by a skilled architect; so the city of
righteousness laid out by the Blessed One can be seen. It
has constant mindfulness for its main street, and in that
main street market-stalls are open selling flowers, per-
fume, fruits, antidotes, medicines, nectar, precious jewels
and all kinds of merchandise. Thus, O king, the Blessed
One’s city of righteousness is well-planned, strongly built,
well protected and thus impregnable to enemies; and by
this method of inference you may know that the Blessed
One existed.”
“What are the flowers in the city of righteousness?”
“There are meditation objects made known by the Blessed
One: the perception of impermanence, of unsatisfactoriness,
soullessness, repulsiveness, danger, abandoning, dispas-

sion, disenchantment with all worlds, the impermanence of
all mental formations; the meditation on mindfulness of
breathing, the perception of the nine kinds of corpses in pro-
gressive stages of decay, the meditations on loving-
kindness, compassion, sympathetic-joy and equanimity;
mindfulness of death and mindfulness of the thirty-two
parts of the body. Whoever, longing to be free from old age
and death, takes one of these as the subject for meditation
can become free from desire, hatred and delusion, pride and
wrong views, he can cross the ocean of saüsàra, stem the tor-
rent of craving and destroy all suffering. He can then enter
the city of nibbàna where there is security, calm and bliss.”
“What are the perfumes in the city of righteousness?”
They are the undertaking of the restraints of the three ref-
uges, the five precepts, the eight precepts, the ten precepts,
and the Pàtimokkha restraint for monks. For this was said by
the Blessed One:
“No flower’s scent can waft against the wind,
Not sandalwood’s, nor musk’s, nor jasmine flower’s.
But the fragrance of the good goes against the wind
In all directions the good man’s name pervades.”223
“What are the fruits in the city of righteousness?”
“They are the fruit of stream-winner, the fruit of once-
returner, the fruit of non-returner, the fruit of arahantship,
the attainment of emptiness, the attainment of signlessness
and the attainment of desirelessness.”224
223.Dhp. v 54.

“What is the antidote in the city of righteousness?”
“The Four Noble Truths are the antidote to counteract the
poison of the defilements. Whoever longs for the highest
insight and hears this teaching is set free from birth, old
age, death, sorrow, pain, grief, lamentation and despair.”
“What is the medicine in the city of righteousness?”
“Certain medicines, O king, have been made known by the
Blessed One by which he cures gods and men. They are
these: the four foundations of mindfulness, the four right
efforts, the four bases of success, the five controlling facul-
ties, the five moral powers, the seven factors of enlighten-
ment, and the eightfold noble path. With these medicines
the Blessed One cures men of wrong views, wrong thought,
wrong speech, wrong actions, wrong livelihood, wrong
effort, wrong mindfulness and wrong concentration. He
rids them of desire, hatred and delusion, pride, personality-
belief, doubt, restlessness, sloth and torpor, shamelessness
and recklessness and all other defilements.
“What is the nectar in the city of righteousness?”
“Mindfulness of the body is like nectar, for all beings who
are infused with this nectar of mindfulness of the body are
relieved of all suffering. For this was said by the Blessed
“They enjoy the nectar of the deathless
who practise mindfulness of the body.”225
224.One with great resolution contemplates impermanence and attains signlessness, one
with great tranquillity contemplates unsatisfactoriness and attains desirelessness, one
with great wisdom contemplates not-self and attains emptiness.
225.A. i. 45.

“What are the precious jewels in the city of righteousness?”
“Virtue, concentration, wisdom, freedom, knowledge and
vision of freedom, knowledge of discrimination and the
factors of enlightenment are the precious jewels of the
Blessed One.
* “What is the precious jewel of virtue?
It is the virtue of restraint by the Pàtimokkha rules,
the virtue of restraint of the sense faculties, the vir-
tue of right livelihood, the virtue of reflection on the
proper use of the four requisites of almsfood, medi-
cine, robes and lodgings, the virtue of restraint
according to the major, middle and minor codes of
discipline226 and the habitual virtue of the noble
* “What is the precious jewel of concentration?
It is the first jhàna with initial application and sus-
tained application, the second jhàna without initial
application but with sustained application, the
third jhàna with neither initial nor sustained appli-
cation but with pure joy, bliss and one-pointedness;
and it is the concentration on emptiness, on sign-
lessness and desirelessness. When a monk wears
this jewel of concentration, evil, unprofitable
thoughts are shed from his mind like water from a
lotus leaf.
226.Described in detail in the Sàma¤¤a Phala Sutta of the Dãgha Nikàya, these disciplines list
all kinds of wrong livelihood for a monk, such as fortune telling and getting involved
in householder’s business, and all misbehaviour such as playing games.

* “What is the precious jewel of wisdom?
It is the knowledge of what is wholesome and what
unwholesome, what blameless and what blame-
worthy, and knowledge of the Four Noble Truths.
* “What is the precious jewel of freedom?
Arahantship is the gem of gems, the precious jewel of
freedom adorned with which a monk outshines all
* “What is the precious jewel of knowledge and vision
of freedom?
It is the knowledge by which the noble disciple re-
views the paths, the fruits and nibbàna, and reflects
on the defilements that have been got rid of and the
defilements that still remain.
* “What is the precious jewel of knowledge of
It is the analytical insight of meaning, law, language
and intelligence. Whoever is adorned with this jewel
is unafraid when approaching any kind of assembly,
confident in the knowledge that he can answer any
kind of question that might be put to him.
* “What is the precious jewel of the factors of
They are the jewels of mindfulness, investigation of
truth, energy, joy, tranquillity, concentration and
equanimity. Adorned with these jewels the monk
illumines the world with his virtuousness.”