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The Life of The Buddha

21/02/201104:48(Xem: 870)
The Life of The Buddha

Buddha_101
THE LIFE OF THE BUDDHA
Ministry of Religious Affairs, Myanmar

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Content

 

 

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The Prophecy of the Buddha Dipankara

Lord Buddha, the Sakyan Prince, the real refuge of all men, devas and brahmas, had fulfilled the ten perfections (Parami) since the life of Sumedha. Four Asankhyeyyas and one hundred-thousand world-cycles ago, the future Buddha named Sumedha was the only son of a rich man at Amaravati, the Royal City. He came of rich parental lineage, both of whom were pure in morality and race.

Sumedha's View on Life

The young man Sumedha became an educated one when he reached the age of sixteen. His parents died since he was young. All of his wealth were guarded by his personal treasurer (financier). As he had come of age, the personal treasurer handed over all his wealth to him together with the lists of various things. When he saw his properties, he thought to himself: "My parent, my grandparents and my great grandparents were only able to make great earnings and save them, but were unable to take them along with them. As for me, I shall take all the wealth along with me."

At that moment a deep outlook on life arose in him: "If there is heat, there must be cold; in the same way, if there is death, there must be deathlessness."

Then he opened his treasure-houses and gave all his possessions away. Afterwards he went forth to Himavanta and made himself an ascetic. Within seven days, he attained the supreme psychic power. He could go around in the sky.

The five Stalks of Lotus-flowers given by Sumitta

It was the time of the golden occasion of welcoming the Buddha Dipankara to the great city of Rammavati. The citizens of Rammavati were repairing the road, eagerly waiting for the coming of Dipankara Buddha. While travelling through space, the ascetic Sumedha saw the citizens being engaged cheer fully in road-reconstruction and city-decoration, wondering what was going on below, he came down and questioned them. They answered that they were repairing the road in order that the Buddha and his disciples could tread on it comfortably.

The ascetic Sumedha felt greatly delighted and thought: "Oh! it's very hard to hear the word 'Buddha', and it is, indeed, harder to become a Buddha." He requested them to give him a chance to repair a part of the road.

Although the road-repairing could be finished quickly by his supernormal power, he used his own labour with the view that he would earn more merit by using his labour than by using his super-normal power. Before he finished repairing his portion of the road, the Buddha and his disciples came. To prevent the feet of the Buddha and his disciples from getting soiled, he prostrated himself on the mud to form a man-bridge. Among the welcoming people, there was a young woman named Sumitta. As soon as the young woman saw the ascetic, she was very happy and delighted. So, she gave five lotus-flowers to him leaving three lotus-flowers in her hands. The ascetic offered the flowers to the Buddha while lying on the muddy road.

The firm Determination and the bold Proclamation

On seeing the Buddha's noble glory, the young Sumedha thought: "If I wish, I can even today become an Arahat who has eliminated all kilesas (defilements). Yet it is not appropriate for me to leave others wandering in samsara although I have enough energy to save all beings. I will try to become a Buddha like the Buddha Dipankara. So he immediately decided with firm resolution to become a Buddha.

Afterwards, he made the following bold proclamations:-

Buddho bodeyyam=As I know the Four Noble Truths, so shall I make others know them;

Mutto moceyyam=As I am liberated from the bonds of life, so shall I make others be liberated likewise;

Tinno Tareyyam=As I swim across the great whirlpool of samsara, so shall I make others do the same.

The Buddha Dipankara, standing in front of Sumedha preordained as follows: 'This young ascetic, lying down as a bridge at the risk of his life, will become a Buddha like me in the future." On hearing this, the audience cheered and honoured Sumedha. The Buddha did not tread on him, but passed by him. The disciples of the Buddha followed suit. The future Buddha, Sumedha ascetic, having gained the preordainment given by the Dipankara Buddha, got up and sat cross-legged with great joy. When he reviewed the ways and means to be a Buddha, he found the Ten Noble Perfections - i.e. charity, morality... etc. While he reflected on the Ten Perfections repeatedly, the earth shook violently as if it cheered up the Bodhisatta.

The Fulfilment of the Perfections

The ascetic Sumedha, the Bodhisatta, fulfilled the Ten Perfections with unshakable effort throughout his uncountable existences.

1. The Fulfilment of the Perfection of Charity

Firstly, he fulfilled the perfection of charity, giving away his own properties, both animate and inanimate to others. By the fulfilment of the perfection of charity, he did not aspire to receive worldly pleasures, but to achieve the Supreme Enlightenment. He fulfilled the perfection of charity in many existences. Among them the lives of King Sivi and King Vessantara are very well known. King Sivi, the Bodhisatta, was very earnest in giving charity, and so Sakka, the king of Devas, wanted to investigate his inclination. Thus, the Sakka, in the form of an old blind brahmin, asked for an eye of King Sivi. The King Sivi took out both of his eyes and offered them to him lavishly.

Also, the Bodhisatta, in the life of King Vessantara, donated food, clothing and other utensils, that were valued at six hundred-thousand silver coins, in six pavilions daily. Once, the brahmins from Kalinga asked the king to donate them the invaluable white elephant and the king offered it generously too. The people objected to the last donation for the white elephant was regarded as a great honourable treasure to the country and to the people. Therefore, he had to forsake his royal palace and live as an ascetic at the valley of Vankaba in the Himavanta together with his Queen Maddi Devi, his son Jali and his daughter Kahnajina. During that time, the brahmin Jujaka asked for his children and he again offered them. He also offered his wife Queen Maddi to the Sakka who disguised himself as a brahmin.

Thus, the Bodhisatta had donated not only his own properties but also his wife and children in the fulfilment of the perfection of charity throughout his past existences. More over, he had sacrificed his own limbs and even his own life without hesitation in many existences.

2. The Fulfilment of the Perfection Morality

Controlling bodily and verbal actions in order to avoid demerits is called Morality or Precepts (Sila). There are different kinds of Sila -- five precepts, eight precepts, . .etc. The Bodhisatta fulfilled the perfection of morality in his many past lives. There is a well known example of Prince Alinasattu who fulfilled the perfection of morality. The father of Prince Alinasattu, in hunting in the forest, got to a banyan tree that was dominated by an ogre who had the right to catch and eat everybody whosoever passed near by. He returned home after giving a promise to the ogre that he would come back the next day to be eaten by the ogre. When his son Alinasattu learnt about that matter, the prince himself went to the ogre on behalf of his father. When the ogre saw the prince coming boldly, the ogre dared not kill him. Finally, the ogre listened to the teachings of the prince and became one who observed the five precepts. The Bodhisatta had already sacrificed his life to fulfil the perfection of charity. Why dared not he risk his life in fulfilling the perfection of morality ?

3. The Fulfilment of the Perfection of Renunciation

Leading an ascetic life and forsaking the worldly sensual pleasure is called the fulfilment of the perfection of renunciation. There are many lives of the Bodhisatta who fulfilled the perfection of renunciation. Of them, the life of Prince Ayoghara is the most notable. After the birth of Prince Ayoghara, he had to live only in an iron cage due to the danger of ogres. He had to learn lessons there up to the age of sixteen. When he was sixteen, his father arranged to give him the throne and he was taken out of the cage. At that time, the prince thought to himself: "I had been in my mother's womb for ten months and in the iron cage for sixteen years. Though I had escaped from them,. I have not escaped from death yet." So, he relinquished the royal throne and went to the forest to lead an ascetic life.

4.The Fulfilment of the Perfection of Wisdom

In fulfilling the perfection of wisdom one has to seek the knowledge and develop the wisdom first. Then one has to teach others what one has already learnt and perform meritorious deeds for the welfare of others by his knowledge. Such a deed is called the fulfilment of the perfection of wisdom. It is obvious that the Bodhisatta Mahosadha, in the fulfilment of the perfection of wisdom, performed public welfare-work by the power of his wisdom. The king Culani Brahmadatta planned to arrest one hundred kings of the Jambudipa and kill them by poisoning their liquors. Mahosadha, the wise man, destroyed that plan by the power of his wisdom. Moreover. Mahosadha by his wisdom was able to settle the dispute between the two kings, Culani Brahmadatta and Videharaja, to a peaceful situation without any casualty.

5.The Fulfilment of the Perfection of Effort

Every exertion for the welfare of all beings is called the fulfilment of the perfection of effort. The Bodhisatta never slackened his effort. Either for his own benefit or for others, he diligently put forth strenuous effort without hesitation. He never gave up anything out of idleness or sleepiness; he was always diligent regardless of heat or cold, early or late. In the life of Mahajanaka, the diligent effort of the Bodhisatta was notable. One day, Mahajanaka, together with seven hundred people, sailed in a ship for the sake of trading in other lands. While the ship was crossing the seas, it was violently struck by a storm. Although all men on board were desperate and did not attempt to survive the disaster, the Bodhisatta used all his strength and swam in the wide ocean for seven days. Then he not only escaped from the disaster with the help of the goddess Manimekhala but also gained the throne of Mithila. If he did not make any effort to swim, he would not meet anyone who would save him, and he would die like others.

6.The Fulfilment of the Perfection of Patience

Tolerance and forbearance arise out of a peaceful mind with the thought: "If I retaliate the ill-treatment imposed by a stupid person, I shall also be a stupid one." Such a practice is called the fulfilment of the perfection of patience. The Bodhisatta, for the welfare of all beings, fulfilled the perfection of patience in every existence. Regarding the fulfilment of the perfection of patience, the life of the great monkey-king is remarkable. While a brahmin, the future Devadatta, climbed up a tree, a branch broke, and he fell into a ravine. As the monkey saw him crying, the monkey took him out of the ravine. While the tired monkey was sleeping with his head upon the brahmin's lap, the stupid ungrateful brahmin mercilessly struck the monkey's head with a stone in order to have its flesh as his meal. So, the monkey woke up and suddenly ran up a tree. But the monkey still worried that the stupid brahmin might lose his way in the forest and die. As he dared not get down to the ground, he jumped from one tree to another, showing the brahmin the way to his home by the drops of blood shedding from his head.

7.The Fulfilment of the Perfection of Truthfulness

Telling truth and keeping one's promise is called the perfection of truthfulness. The Bodhisatta did not tell lies; he kept his word as he promised to others and he did as he said in order to fulfil the perfection of truthfulness.

The life of King Mahasutasoma is remarkable in the fulfilment of the perfection of truthfulness. While the Bodhisatta became Mahasutasoma, King Porisada was expelled from his country, because he was found eating human flesh. He lived in a forest hunting human beings passing by. One day his sole was pierced by a sharp stump. In order to heal the wound, he made a pledge to the guardian deva of a banyan tree, saying: "Oh Deva, help me, please! If you heal my wound during one week, I will offer you as a sacrifice the blood from the throats of all Jambudipa kings." Within one week his wound healed of its own accord, but he thought that it was cured by the guardian deva of the banyan tree. Thus he caught all Jumbudipa Kings to offer their blood as a sacrifice. King Sutasoma, just before being arrested, made a promise to a brahmin to listen to the Dhamma recited by the brahmin. So he requested Porisada to let him fulfil his promise to the brahmin, promising that he would come back after listening to the Dhamma. Porisada released him easily. After he had heard the Dhamma, though he knew that he would be killed, he came back to Porisada without breaking his promise. Porisada was surprised to see him again and asked why he was not afraid to die. King Sutasoma preached the Dhamma to Porisada and thus Porisada became a good man. So he released all the arrested kings. With the help of King Sutasoma, Porisada regained his kingdom.

8. The Fulfilment of the Perfection of Resolution

The Pali word, "Adhitthana" means firm determination or resolution to perform the good deeds that have already been planned to be done. The Bodhisatta, in his many past existences, fulfilled the perfection of resolution. It is most obvious that the Bodhisatta fulfilled the perfection of resolution in the life of Prince Temiya. The Bodhisatta, in his previous existence before the life of Prince Temiya, had been in hell for some minor error in his judgement over disputes as a king. The one-month-old prince Temiya, lying under a white royal parasol, attained the knowledge of Jatissara that could recall the previous existences. While he was gazing at the white parasol, he saw his life in hell. He was greatly shocked and afraid of becoming a king. So, the goddess of the white parasol, who had been his mother in a past life, knowing this intention, advised him thus, "My beloved son, Temiya, don't be afraid; if you don't want to be a king, pretend yourself to be a dumb and deaf person.'

From that time onwards, he made up his mind to pretend as a dumb and deaf person. So he did not speak and he did not listen to anyone. When he was sixteen, his father decided that he was not worthy of the royal throne and gave the order to expel him to the forest and kill him there. When he was about to be killed, he explained to his parents why he pretended to be deaf and dumb. Then he made himself a recluse.

9. The Fulfilment of the Perfection of Loving-kindness (Metta)

Metta means wishing for the well-being of others. One, who has cultivated loving- kindness, does not look at others' faults even when he is insulted verbally or bodily. Only with the view on the virtues of others, he goes on endeavouring for others' welfare.

To become a fully-enlightened Buddha, the Bodhisatta fulfilled the perfection of loving-kindness in his many past existences. In the life of the ascetic Suvannasama, he lived in the forest and looked after his parents who were blinded by a venomous snake. He also loved with true loving-kindness harmless animals as well as wild beasts such as lions, tigers, leopards, etc. He cultivated loving- kindness firmly and never felt angry even to wards the king, Piliyakkha, who shot him with a poisoned arrow, taking him as a beast. Later, by the power of loving-kindness and truthfulness, the poison became ineffective and disappeared. Thus not only his life was saved but also his parents regained their eye-sight.

10. The Fulfilment of the Perfection of Equanimity

The Pali word 'Upekkha' means equilibrium of the mind, not having a bias on account of hatred or love. The life of Lomahamsa was very famous in the fulfilment of the perfection of equanimity. Lomahamsa, the Bodhisatta, when his parents died, gave all his properties in donation and went into a forest. Although he wished to become an ascetic, he did not have a desire to be praised by people. So he wandered around with a single set of clothing. He did not stay for a long time in a place where he was well treated and revered. When he reached a village, though he was jeered and mocked insolently by wicked children and drunkards, he was not angry with them. In a cemetary, he slept with his head on a skull. The wicked kids gathered, and insulted him by spitting and discharging excrement and urine on him. He neither got angry with the children nor blamed them, nor felt depressed. Some people offered him flowers, good food and drinks. But he did not feel affectionate towards them either. His attitude towards good and bad was indifferent. He steadfastly maintained an equilibrium of mind (Upekkha) under any situation.

Ten Paramis and Thirty Paramis

When the above ten Paramis are multiplied by Parami (minor Perfection), Upaparami (middle Perfection) and Paramattha Parami (major perfection), there are altogether thirty kinds of Parami. For example, if material things are donated as the fulfilment of Parami, it is called Dana Parami. If body-organs such as eye and kidney are given away, it is called Dana Upaparami. Moreover, if one's own life is offered to others, it is called Dana Paramattha Parami.

Bodhisatta, who constantly fulfilled the Ten Perfections through four Asainkhyeyyas and one lakh world systems, reached the zenith of his fulfilment in the life of King Vesantara.

Three Noble Practices (Cariya)

The Bodhisatta, in fulfilling the perfections throughout his previous existences, practised the following three cariyas:

(a) Lokattha Cariya =the noble practice aiming at the welfare of all beings;

(b) Natattha Cariya =the noble practice aiming at the welfare of his own relatives and race;

(c) Buddhattha Cariya=the noble practice aiming at becoming the fully enlightened Buddha who can save beings from the sufferings of Samsara.

The Fivefold Great Sacrifice

In the exercise of Ten perfections in his many past existences, the Bodhisatta made the following fivefold great sacrifice:

1. the sacrifice of the most valuable treasure, royal kingdom and royal properties (Dhanapariccaga);

2. the sacrifice of sons and daughters (Puttapariccaga);

3. the sacrifice of one's wife(Bhariyapariccaga);

4. the sacrifice of one's limbgapariccaga); and

5. the sacrifice of one's Own life(Jivitapariccaga).

The Bodhisatta fulfilled the perfections, the fivefold sacrifices and the three cariyas throughout his past existences, in order to achieve only one reward, i.e. the Omniscience or Sabbannutanana. Indeed, the Sabbannutanana is so great that the Tathagatas have to exert great effort for a very long duration in order to achieve it.

Incomparable Achievements Arise out of Incomparable Sacrifices.

The Bodhisatta's sacrificial and selfless efforts, aiming at the reward of the Omniscience, are only for the welfare of all beings, but not for his own. Everyone should help others liberally for their welfare. As these perfections lead the whole society to peace and prosperity, he who fulfils the perfections can also achieve success as much as he does.

As a matter of fact, the Bodhisatta gave his life as a sacrifice for the welfare of the world selflessly and peerlessly. So he was endowed with everything needed in his final life. He is incomparable! He is supreme! He is peerless! We should follow the perfect example of the Buddha!

 

The Life of Prince Siddhattha, the Future Buddha

The Demise from the Abode of Devas

After being prophesied by the Dipaakara Buddha and the other twenty three Buddhas who appeared during four Asankhyeyyas and one hundred thousand world cycles as well, the Bodhisatta fulfilled the Perfections. He had accumulated the ten Perfections completely in the life of King Vessantara. And then he was reborn as Deva Setaketu in the abode of Tusita. The Deva enjoyed the supreme divine bliss throughout his life. When the end of his life drew near, the Devas and the Brahmas from ten thousand universes gathered and approached him. They requested, "Dear Deva, it is the right time for you to become a Buddha. May you be reborn in the human abode."

The Five Great Observations

The Bodhisatta Deva did not consent to their request instantly; he first made the following five great observations:

(1) Period (Kala): The proper period for a Buddha to appear is when the life-span, of human beings is between one hundred thousand years and one hundred years.

(2) Island-Continent(Dipa): Among the four great island continents, only the Jambudipa or the Southern Island-continent is the place where Buddhas appear.

(3) Place (Desa): Even in the southern Island-continent, Buddhas appear only in Majjhima Desa--Middle Regions.

(4) clan (Kula): In Majihima Desa, Buddhas came of only royal clan, khatthiya, or Brahmin clan.

(5) The Mother's Life-span (Matu ayu pariccheda) The future mother of Buddha must possess good moral character and must have fulfilled the perfections for one hundred thousand worlds. Moreover, her life-span must be such that she dies on the seventh day after giving birth to the Bodhisatta.

The Birth of the Bodhisatta at Lumbini Park

The Deva Setaketu, after making the five great observations, promised to be reborn in the human abode. Soon after he gave his promise, he passed away from the abode of Tusita, and was duly conceived in the womb of Mahamaya Devi, the chief consort of King Suddhodana. Right at the time of his conception, there broke out a violent earthquake. The dale of his conception was Thursday, the fullmoon day of Waso (about July) in the year 67 Maha Era (624 B.C). While Mahamaya Devi was sleeping in her grand chamber, having observed eight precepts, she dreamed as follows:-

"The four Kings of Devas bathed her in Lake Anotatta in the Himavanta and dressed her in celestial costumes. Next she was put to sleep with her head towards the east in the golden mansion inside the silver mountain. At that time, she felt that a white elephant entered her womb through her right side.

The Three Bold Utterances

On the fullmoon day of Kason (about May), the royal mother, Mahamaya Devi, set out on a journey to Devadaha where her relatives lived. Now the ten-month duration of her pregnancy was up. Between Kapilavatthu and Devadaha, there was a grove of Sal trees known as Lumbini.

The Sal trees were in full bloom. The Bodhisatta was born while the royal mother was holding on to a branch of a fully blooming Sal tree. At that time, too, the earth quaked violently.

Devas and Brahmas paid homage to the Bodhisatta who had just been born. The Bodhisatta prince, standing on the ground, looked towards the ten directions. After taking seven steps northwards and standing erect firmly on the ground, he boldly proclaimed the following solemn utterances:

(a) Aggohamasanu Lokassa: I am the foremost among the living beings of the world.

(b) Jetthohamasami Lokassa: I am the greatest among the living beings of the world.

(c) Setthohamasami Lokassa: I am the noblest among the living beings of the world.

Next, the royal mother, Mahamaya, returned to Kapilavatthu with her son, the Bodhisatta prince. The Bodhisatta was born on Friday, the fullmoon day of Kason (about May) in the year 69 Mahha Era (623 B.C). Mahmmaya passed away on the seventh day after giving birth to her son and was reborn in the Tusita realm.

Handing over the Throne to the Bodhisatta

The royal father King Suddhodana invited the brahmin prophets, who mastered the three Vedas, and asked them to examine the physical marks of the prince on the fifth day after he had been delivered. The seven Brahmins predicted: "If the prince leads the life of a householder, he will become a Universal Monarch; if he renounces the world he will become a Buddha." The youngest prophet Kondanna, however, prophesied, "He will certainly become a Buddha." The prince was named Siddhattha as he could fulfil the desires of all living beings and bring about their prosperity as well. He belonged to the Gotama clan.

After the death of Mother Maya Devi, Mahipajapati Gotami, the sister of Maya Devi, became the Chief Queen of King Suddhodana, and the royal stepmother Gotami brought up and looked after the prince on behalf of her elder sister.

At the age of sixteen, the prince had already learnt what a prince should do. The king Suddhodana wanted his son to become a Universal Monarch. The King managed to construct the three grand, magnificient mansions called Ramma, Subha and Suramma as royal residence for the prince to sojourn during the three seasons in turn and he crowned the prince king so that the latter should not renounce the world and live in the forest.

The prince chose Yasodara as his consort. She was the daughter of King Suppabuddha who was the brother of his late mother. He made her his chief queen and lived in the lap of great luxury at each of the three elegant palaces in accord with the three seasons.

Seeing the Four Great Omens

The Prince Siddhattha, after enjoying the luxurious pleasures of the King for 13 years, came to the age of twenty-nine. He used to go to the royal garden together with his retinue. On his way to the royal garden, he saw the four great omens, namely an old man, a sick man, a dead man and a recluse. Each of them was created by devas (gods) after an interval of four months. The royal father Suddhodana took measures to prevent the Bodhisatta from seeing these miserable sights with the help of his guards, because he was worried that the Bodhisatta might renounce the worldly life. So the Bodhisatta had never seen the aged, the sick, the dead and the recluse till then. When he saw the four great omens consecutively, he was shocked and remorseful. An idea flashed upon his mind: "I shall also, one day, become old, sick and die." He could not bring himself to enjoy the luxury and pleasure of the palace. Therefore, he was determined:

"I shall renounce the worldly pleasure today to become a recluse like the one whom I had seen." While he was staying in the royal garden, he was informed that his chief queen Yasodara had given birth to a son and he was startled, thinking; "There appears one more fetter." And he decided, "I shall renounce the world tonight."

He murmured: "This son will hinder me. from renouncing the world just like the Devil Rahu seizing the moon." That is why the royal son was named Rahula.

Renunciation

When he got to the palace from the royal garden, he went to bed early, because he did not want to enjoy the royal entertainment as usual. The lady-attendants fell asleep in the light of scented oil-lamps. They were all asleep--some with their thighs or calves exposed, some with saliva oozing from the corners of their lips, some opening their mouths wide, some snoring and some rolling, turning and talking in their sleep. When the Bodhisatta woke up at midnight, he felt that the sleeping lady-attendants were corpses and he himself were in a cemetery. So he decided to leave the palace at once.

The Deterrence of the Evil Mira

and the Welcome of Devas and Brahmas

The Bodhisatta awoke Minister Channa and ordered him to get the royal horse Kandaka saddled. Then he went to the royal chamber of Yasodara as he wished to see his son. Yasodara with the son by her side was sleeping, embracing him warmly. Although he wanted to take his son into his hands, he turned back from the threshold of the chamber lest she would be awakened and be a disturbance to his renunciation.

The Bodhisatta, riding on Kandaka, left the palace along with Minister Channa. It was Monday, the fullmoon day of Waso, 97 Maha Era (594 B.C). Thereupon, the evil Mara, standing in the sky, deterred, saying: "On the seventh day from now, the flying Wheel of Treasure will appear and you will be the Universal Monarch who rules over the four island-continents. Do not renounce this world."

"Oh, Mara, I know that the Wheel of Treasure will arise seven days later. I don't want the Universal Kingship. I will strive to become a Buddha." So saying he went on his journey. The devas and the brahmas who were looking forward to the appearance of the Buddha were delighted so much that they went together with the Bodhisatta. holding up beautiful, colourful torches, scattering flowers and sandal wood powder, singing and playing musical instruments.

The Lamentation of the Whole Palace

On reaching the other bank of Anoma river at dawn, the Bodhisatta took his hair-knot by one hand, and with a sword in the other, cut it off. The hair remained at that length, i.e. at two finger-breadth, until his death.

When he threw up the hair-knot into the sky, making a solemn resolution: "If I shall certainly become a Buddha. may this hair stay in the sky", the hair did stay in the sky. Sakka, the king of devas, received it with a jewelled casket and took it to Tavatimsa. Then he built the Culamani pagoda, enshrining the hair relic in it.

Next the Bodhisatta received the alms-bowl and the yellow robes offered by the Brahma Ghatikara. Then, doning the robe, he took the life of an ascetic. Brahma Ghatikara took the royal dress of the Bodhisatta to the Brahma abode and built Dussa Cetiya, enshrining the dress. The Bodhisatta sent his minister Channa with the horse Kandaka back to the capital. Kandaka left his master in great despair. When it lost sight of its master, it could bear its grief no more and died. Channa continued his journey alone and reported the news to the king. On hearing the news, the whole palace burst into tears.

The Request of Bimbisara

After becoming an ascetic, the Bodhisatta stayed in the mango grove called Anuppiya near Anoma river for seven days and then he proceeded to Rajagaha. When he went into the town for alms-food, the citizens looked admiringly at the splendid and graceful appearance of the Bodhisatta. On hearing the news, King Bimbisara followed and pleaded the Bodhisatta who was residing at the foot of Mount Pantava. The King pleaded with the Bodhisatta not to lead a homeless life as he was still very young. Moreover, the King admired and respected the Bodhisatta so much that he offered his kingship to the Bodhisatta. The Bodhisatta refused what he was offered. At last King Bimbisara requested the Bodhisatta to come first to his country when he attained the Buddhahood.

PRACTISING AUSTERITIES

Devas Thought that Siddhattha was dead

The Bodhisatta left for the groves not far from the southern part of Rajagaha. He placed himself under the guidance of the tw ascetic leaders, Alara and Udaka, and practised for Jhana (concentration). He soon gained the mundane jhanic ecstasy. Knowing his capability, the two ascetic leaders made him leader as themselves. But he did not accept their proposals. He decided that the power of his jhanic ecstasy was not the way to attain the omniscience. Thus he proceeded to the Uruvela grove.

In those days, there prevailed an ideology among the ascetics that one can attain enlightenment only by means of practising strenuous and severe austerities. Hence the Bodhisatta practised them in the Uruvela grove for six years. He took food very sparingly. He undertook the difficult practice very severely, having just a fruit for the whole day. Some times he took no food at all. His flesh and blood dried up because of the severe effort. The thirty-two special bodily marks disappeared and the bright golden complexion became gray also. The skin of the belly stuck to the spinal-cord. His sacred body was reduced to a skeleton. Indeed, he was nearly dying. The skin of the head wrinkled and withered like a little tender gourd dried up in the sun. As he was very frail, he fell down and fainted while walking with the contemplation of breathing-out and breathing-in. Some devasthought that Siddhattha was dead.

After having practised austerities for six years, he reflected that he would not be able to attain the enlightenment unless he was healthy and strong. So he went round for alms again and followed the Middle Way (Majjhimapatipada). Thus, his complexion became golden and bright again, and he became strong enough to practise the Middle Way. The thirty-two special bodily marks of the greatest man reappeared. The group of five ascetics-Kondanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama and Assaji - had attended to the Bodhisatta while he was practising austerities for six long years. They were looking forward to hear the very first discourse when he attained Buddhahood. Nevertheless, when he partook of food again by going round for alms to sustain himself and followed the Middle Way, they became disappointed with him. So they departed from him and left for the Migadaya (Deer Park).

Sujata's Offering of Milk-Rice

There was a market town called Sena near Uruvela Grove. Sujata, the daughter of a wealthy man there offered food in oblation to the deva of a banyan tree on the fullmoon day of Kason yearly as all her wishes were fulfilled. On the fullmoon day of Kason of that year, Sujata offered milk-rice together with the gold cup to the Bodhisatta, who was sitting magnificently under the banyan tree. She thought that the guardian deva himself was sitting to receive her offering.

After the Bodhisatta had cleansed himself in the River Neranjara, he took forty-nine mouthfuls of milk-rice. After he had the food, he placed the gold cup afloat in the river, making the solemn resolution: "If I shall become a Buddha today, may this gold cup float upstream." The gold cup floated up stream for eighty cubits and then sank down.

Vanquishing the Mara

Then the Bodhisatta stayed the whole day in the Sal grove near Neranjara, reflecting on the constituent parts of the body. In the evening, on the way to the Bodhi Tree, he accepted eight handfuls of grass offered by Sotthiya, the grass-cutter. The Bodhisatta approached the Bodhi Tree from eastward, went around the tree clockwise three times, and scattered the eight handfuls of grass at the foot of the tree. Thereupon, the magnificent jewelled throne, 'Aparajita pallanka' appeared marvelously. He sat cross-legged on it, facing eastward with his back against the trunk of the Bodhi Tree.

Then he made the solemn resolution: "Let my flesh and blood dry up, and let only my skin, nerves and bones remain! Never shall I unfold this cross-legged position until I attain Buddhahood!" Then the Bodhisatta cultivated mindfulness of breathing-out and breathing-in and remained completely absorbed in the fourth jhanic ecstasy.

On seeing the Bodhisatta seated with firm and solemn resolution, Mara knew that the Bodhisatta would certainly attain Buddha-hood on that day. So he disturbed and fought him, riding Girimekhala elephant and leading numerous fighting forces armed with various weapons. The Mara attacked the Bodhisatta incessantly by creating violent storms, by shoering weapons and hot ash, etc., as if the world were going to be destroyed. The Bodhisatta, however, vanquished him by virtue of the power of Perfections which he had accomplished through four asankhyeyyas and one hundred-thousand worlds. The Bodhisatta repulsed successfully the force of Mara before the sun-set.

 

The Attainment of Buddhahood

Contemplating on mindfulness of breathing-out and breathing-in and remaining absorbed in the fourth Anapana jhanic ecstasy, the Bodhisatta gained the Pubbenivasanussatinana the higher psychic power to remember past existences of himself as well as of others -- during the first watch of the night. In the middle watch of the night, he attained Dibbacakkhunana -- the power of supernormal vision to see penetratively things, big or small, far or near, fine or gross like the divine eyes. In the last watch of the night. the Bodhisatta contemplated the "Law of Cause and Effect" and practised insight meditation. Then he fully realized the Four Noble Truths and attained Asavekkhaya or Arahattamagganana -- the higher psychic power which enables one to eradicate defilements absolutely.

As soon as the Bodhisatta gained the Arahatta-magga-nana, he also attained the Omniscience, Sabbannuta-nana, the Fully Enlightenment. He attained Buddhahood at the age of 35. It was Wednesday, the fullmoon day of Kason, in the year 103 Maha Era (589 B.C.). When he became the Enlightened One who was worthy of veneration of all living beings -- human beings, devas and brahmas -- and was incomparable by gaining Omniscience. All devas and brahmas from the ten-thousand worlds came to pay obeisance to the Buddha delightfully and happily. The earth vehemently trembled and resounded with the roll of thunder bursting loudly in the sky. All flowering plants of the whole world bloomed out of season, as if they were paying homage to the Buddha.

The Virtue of Sabbannuta-nana

The Buddha gained the great Omniscience, Sabbannuta-nana, in his last existence as he had accomplished the Ten Perfections, the Three Noble Practices and the five Great Sacrifices.By the power of Omniscience, the Buddha knew all things that should be known. He fully realized every phenomenon -- both the conditioned and the unconditioned.

Of all that should be known, the Buddha absolutely knew about each and everything from the beginning to the end. Here are the three attributes of the Omniscience:

1. Knowing all things to be known without exception.

2. Knowing the natural tendencies of the person who is going to hear the discourse, and

3. Knowing how to expound the discourse.

After achieving the supreme Enlightenment, the Buddha, rejoicing at his conquest, uttered the following Verse of Victory.

1. Anekajati samsaram sandhavissam anibbisam Gahakaram gavesanto dukkha jati punappunam

2. Gahakarakadittho si Puna geham na kahasi Sabba te phasuka hhagga gahakutam visamkhitam Visankharagatam cittam tanhanam khayam ajjhaga

My mind has attained the unconditioned. Achieved is the end of craving.

The Six Heretics Who Claimed To Be Buddhas

The Buddha appeared as an incomparable Omniscient One in the world. There had been a rumour about the appearance of the Omniscient Buddha one thousand years before hand.

There had also appeared many branches of knowledge including the system for identifying the features of the Greatest Man. The people were eager to see the Buddha. the Exalted One. At that time, there appeared many impostors who claimed to be the Buddha. Among them were six prominent heretics who were roaming about with their followers pro claiming their own doctrines.

They were:

1. Purana Kassapa.

2. Makkhali Gosala,

3. Ajita Kesakambala,

4. Pakudha Kaccayana.

5. Sancaya Belatthaputta, and

6. Nigantha Nataputta.

They were, in fact, just impostors who appeared prior to the enlightenment of the Real Buddha. So the wise did not accept them as the real Buddhas. However, the ignorant majority went to them for refuge taking them to be the real Buddhas and got ensnared in their wrong views.

Seven Days Each at Seven Places

(1) Pallanka Sattaha: - After attaining the Buddhahood, the Buddha remained seated on the throne under the Bodhi Tree enjoying the blissful peace of Phalasamapatti for the whole week. (This seven-day period is called Pallan ka Sattaha.)

(2) Animisa Sattaha - After rising from the throne, the Buddha went to the place 48 cubits away to the north-east of the throne and stood there gazing back at the golden throne and the Bodhi Tree without closing his eyes for one whole week. (This seven-day period is called Animisa Sattaha.)

(3) Cankama Sattaha - Next, he spent one whole week walking up and down a jewelled path which extended east to west 60 cubits between the Bodhi Tree and the place where he had formerly stood. (This seven-day period is called Cankamasattaha.)

(4) Ratanagara Sattaha - After that the Buddha went to the jewelled chamber, known as Ratanagara. which was created by devas at a place 40 cubits away from the Bodhi Tree. It was situated to the north-west of the Bodhi Tree. There the Buddha contemplated his most profound teaching - Abhidhamma. When he contemplated the final portion of the Abhidhamma, known as Mahapatthana, his mind became very pure and consequently his blood and complexion also became very clear. Thereupon. the six couloured rays brilliantly emanated from every part of his sacred body and spread through the whole universe. (This seven-day period is called Ratanagara Sattaha.)

(5) Ajapala Sattaha - The Buddha then went to the Ajapala banyan tree where the goatherds used to rest. The banyan tree was situated, at the bank of the Neranjara River, 128 cubits away to the east of the Bodhi Tree. Under the banyan tree, the Buddha enjoyed the blissful peace of Phalasamapatti for seven days. During these days, the three daughters of Mara, who was in despair be cause he had lost the battle against the Bodhisatta, felt pity for their father. So they came to entice the Buddha in various seductive guises. As their enticing had no effect on the Buddha, they went away. (This seven-day period is called Ajapala Sattaha.)

(6) MucalindaSattaha - There was a barringatanis accutangula tree, called Mucalinda, which was situated two hundered cubits away to the south east of the Bodhi Tree. There was also a lake called Mucalinda near that tree. The Buddha went to the foot of that tree and enjoyed the bliss of Nibbana by entering upon Phalasamapatti. At that time great showers of rain fell for seven successive days and thus the weather was very cold. The Dragon King, Mucalinda, of the lake sheltered the Buddha by winding his body seven times around the Buddha's body and holding his head over the Buddha's head. (This seven-day period is called Mucalinda Sattaha.)

(7) Rajayatana Sattaha - Finally the Buddha went to buchanania lalifolia tree called Rajayatana. which lay 160 cubits away from the Bodhi Tree. There he enjoyed the blissful peace of Nibbana by entering upon Phalasamapatti for seven days. (This seven-day period is called Rajayatana Sattaha)

Offering the First Alms-food

After the Rajayatana Sattaha the Buddha ate myrobalan fruit offered by the Sakka and got defecated. He also cleaned his teeth and mouth by chewing liquorice wood, also offered by the Sakka, and washed his face with the pure water of Lake Anotatta. Indeed, he did not have any food during those 49 days. The nutritive essence of milk-rice of Sujata sustained him through that long period. His complexion was radiant and his face was calm and peaceful.

While the Buddha was staying under the Rajayatana tree, the two merchant-brothers, Tapussa and Bhallika, citizens of Pokkharavati of Ukkala Division, were on their way to Majjhima desa (Middle Region) with 500 carts loaded with goods. They were informed about the appearance of the Buddha by a deva who had been one of their relatives in their past existence. Thus they came to venerate the Buddha.

The merchant-brothers went to the Buddha and offered him rice-cake and honey-comb. The Buddha blessed them and let them take refuge in the Buddha and the Dhamma. They were the very first devotees to have taken refuge in the two Sacred Gems. Afterwards, they pleaded the Buddha to give them some thing to be worshipped for ever. Thus the Buddha touched his head with his right hand and gave them some hair. When they arrived back in Ukkala. they built a shrine called Tikumba on the Singuttara Hill and enshrined the hair relics. It is traditionally believed that that shrine is the Shwedagon pagoda in Myanmar now.

Request to Expound the Dhamma

After staying at the seven places for seven days each, the Buddha went back to the Ajapala banyan tree from Rajayatana, contemplated the dhamma which he had gained and pondered thus: "I have already attained the Omniscience and have already done what is to be done at the foot of the Bodhi Tree for my own sake. But, in the life of Sumedha. I proclaimed that:

Buddho bodheyyam: As I know the Four Noble Truths, so shall I make others know them;

Mutto moceyyam : As I am free from the fetters binding me to existences, so shall I make others free from the fetters;

Tinno Tareyyam: As I cross over the whirlpool of Samsara, so shall I make others cross over it.

In accordance with these proclamations, it is now the right time to expound the Dhamma.

But the Dhamma that I have realized is indeed profound. subtle and difficult to comprehend. All beings in the world will not be able to understand the dhamma as they are grossly overwhelmed by greed. anger and ignorance. It will be merely wearisome for me if I were to expound the dhamma. Reflecting thus, the Buddha became hesitant to teach the dhamma.

Knowing the Buddha's tendency, the Brahma named Sahampati, together with devas and brahmas, came and requested the Buddha to expound the Dhamma.

It is the nature of the Buddhas to teach the Dhamma only after being requested. To teach the Dhamma only after being requested makes the Dhamma more virtuous and more respectable. Moreover in those days the Brahma was regarded as the Buddha and venerated by the whole world. As the Brahma himself requested the Buddha to teach the dhamma, it became the most respectable and venerable Dhamma.

The Buddha himself actually knew although the whole world was veiled with ignorance, that there were some persons who were wise enough to understand his Teachings I and that they would lose the chance of being liberated from the whirlpool of Samsara if they did not hear the Teachings (the Dhamma).

Planning to Expound the First Discourse

After deciding to preach his teachings~ he looked with his Buddha's Eye to whom he should preach the Dhamma. His two former worldly teachers, Alara and Udaka. first appeared in his vision. However he came to realize that Alara passed away only seven day ago and Udaka only at the midnight of the previous day. Moreover, he found that them were in the Arupa -- brahma Realm where one can listen to the Dhamma.

Then he continued to contemplate whe would be able to understand his teachings. He saw the group of five ascetics who had at tended to him when he was meditating at Uruvela forest. They were now in Migadaya Forest near Baranasi. So he went on foot to the forest which was eighteen yojanas (about l44 miles) away from the Bodhi Tree.

Turning the Wheel of Dhamma

He arrived at the Migadaya forest (a sanctuary for deer) on the evening of the fullmoon day of Waso. He made himself known as a Buddha to the five ascetics and expounded the very first discourse known as Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which consists of the two extremes to be avoided, the Middle Path to be followed and the Four Noble Truths to be realized. After hearing that discourse, Venerable Kondanna and the eighteen crores of devas and brahmas became sotapannas (stream winners). There broke out a booming earth-quake - a great rejoicing of the devas and the brahmas over the preaching of the discourse.

The Buddha preached this Sutta in the evening, when the sun had just set and the moon began to rise. It was Saturday, the fullmoon day of Waso (about May) in the year 103 Maha Era (588 B.C). There came numerous devas and brahmas to listen to his Teachings. The flowers bloomed Out of season. Thus the whole world was beautifully brilliant in the radiance of the celestial beings. Then the Buddha explained the Sutta in detail to the four ascetics who were not yet enlightened to Noble Truths.

Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama and Assaji practised in accordance with the Wheel of Dhamma for four days, from the first waning day to the fourth. And one after another, they entered the stream of Ariya Path. On the fifth waning day of Waso, the Buddha proceeded to preach "Anatta1akkhana Sutta" to the Group of Five Bhikkhus. At the end of this Sutta, they became arahats, eradicating all defilements.

Thenceforth, there arose the Order of Sangha in the world.

The Ordination of Yasa and His Friends

The Buddhji observed the rain-retreat period together with the Group of Five Bhikkhus. At that time, in Baranasi, a rich man and his wife Sujata had a son called Yasa. He spent his life in ease and luxury. One day, he, however, felt disgusted at the sensual pleasure and left his house stealthily for Issipatana deer'park at midnight. He arrived there before dawn and met the Buddha. The Buddha preached him some discourses. After hearing the dhamma- he became a stream winner. The rich man, Yasa's father, also came to the Buddha while searching for his son. 'The Buddha expounded the dhamma to the rich man and he also became a stream winner. And consequently, he was the very first layman to take refuge in the Three Gems (Tevacika).

Yasa, too, attained the Arahattaship when he heard the discourse preached to his father. The next day, the Buddha and Venerable Yasa went to his parents house for alms-food. The Buddha expounded the discourse again and Yasa's mother and Yasa's wife became stream-winners as well. Thus they were the first lay women to take refuge in the Triple Gems.

On hearing of Yasa's ordination, fifty-four of his friends reflected thus: "The Teachings which such a person as Yasa followed must not be an ordinary one" And so they went to the Buddha and they all were ordained as monks by the Buddha.

The First Bhikkhus on Missionary Work

At that time there were sixty-one arahats including the Buddha in the world. Their cankers had already been extinguished. The Group of Five and fifty-five arahats led by Yasa were the 'Ehi-Bhikkhu' arahats, i.e.. their lay-man appearances disappeared and they were transformed into monk's when they were merely called by the Buddha. 'come on, my bhikkhus!"

They spent the first rain-retreat period in Issipatana deer park, Baranasi. At the end of this period the Buddha sent for the sixty arahats and admonished them thus:" "Oh. Bhikkhus! I've already been freed from the defilements and so have you all. Go forth in all directions expounding the Dhamma which is excellent in the beginning, in the middle and in the end for the welfare of men and devas out of compassion to the whole word. Not two of you must go together on the same journey.

Afterwards the Buddha himself went to Uruvela grove to teach the Dhamma to one thousand ascetics led by the three Kassapa brothers, viz.. Uruvela Kassapa, Nadi Kassapa and Gaya Kassapa.

While the Buddha was taking a rest at the foot of a certain tree on his way to Uruvela, he met the thirty Bhaddavaggiya brothers who were searching for a woman who had stolen their ornaments. They happened to come across the Buddha and asked the Buddha whether the Buddha had seen a woman passing by. Then the Buddha asked them in return thus: "Which is better-- searching for a lost woman or searching for oneself?" All the princes replied that searching for oneself is better. Then the Buddha explained the Dhamma to them and they all became Stream-Winners. The Buddha ordained them as bhikkhus.

Converting the One Thousand Ascetics to the Right Way

Thereafter the Buddha proceeded to the Uruvela forest where the one thousand ascetics lived.

When he arrived there at sun - set, he asked the chief of the ascetics to let him spend the night at their fire place. The chief Kassapa told him that a fierce dragon lived at the freplace. The Buddha asked for permission three times and was allowed to spend the night there. Then the Buddha entered the fireplace. The dragon sent out flames towards the Buddha The Buddha sent back stronger flames and subdued the dragon. He put the dragon in his alms-bowl and showed it to the chief Kassapa. Kassapa was surprised and he requested the Buddha to keep on staying there.

In the following night, Kassapa saw the four great devas, the celestial king Sakka and brahmas respecting the Buddha.

Nevertheless, the ascetic thought: "Gotama is mighty and powerful, but he has not attained arahatship as I have." Only after the Buddha had performed one thousand five hundred and six kinds of miraculous power, the ascetics respected and admired the Buddha. They requested the Buddha to ordain them as bhikkhus.

Next the Buddha went to the Gayasisa together with one thousand bhikkhus. There he delivered the discourse of Adittapariyaya Sutta which explains how the whole world or the whole body is in flame. ie, being burnt by the fire of lust, greed, anger, ignorance, rebirth, ageing, death, grief, lamentation, bodily pain, distress of mind and agony. At the end of the discourse, they all attained Arahatship.

 

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Content 02 | 03 | 04 | 05

---o0o---

Source : Buddhism Today

Update : 01-05-2002

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