1. Buddha.– A generic name, an appellative — but not a proper name — given to one who has attained Enlightenment ¹ a man superior to all other beings, human and divine, by his knowledge of the Truth (Dhamma). The texts mention two kinds of Buddha: viz., Pacceka Buddhas — i.e., Buddhas who also attain to complete Enlightenment but do not teach the way of deliverance to the world; and Sammāsambuddhas, who are Omniscient and are teachers of nibbāna (Satthāro). The Commentaries, however,² mention four classes of Buddha: Sabbaññu-
Seven Omniscient Buddhas are mentioned in the earlier books;³ these are Vīpassī, Sikhī, Vessabhū, Kakusandha, Koṇāgamana, Kassapa, and Gotama. This number is increased in the later books. The Buddhavaṃsa contains detailed particulars of twenty-
The Mahāpadāna Sutta,⁷ which mentions the seven Buddhas, gives particulars of each under eleven heads (paricchedā) — the world-
The Buddhavaṃsa Commentary says ¹⁰ that in the Buddhavaṃsa particulars of each Buddha are given under twenty-
There are eight particulars in which the Buddhas differ from each other (aṭṭhavemattāni). These are length of life in the epoch in which each is born, the height of his body, his social rank (some are born in the khattiya caste, others as brahmins), the length of his austerities, the aura of his body (thus, in the case of Maṅgala, his aura spread throughout the ten thousand world systems, while that of Gotama extended only one fathom,¹¹ the conveyance in which he makes his renunciation, the tree under which he attains Enlightenment, and the size of the seat (pallaṅka) under the Bodhi tree.¹²
In the case of all Buddhas, there are four fixed spots (avijahitaṭṭhānāni). These are: the site of the seat under the Bodhi tree (bodhipallaṅka), the Deer Park at Isipatana where the first discourse is taught, the spot where the Buddha first steps on the ground at Saṅkassa on his descent from Tāvatiṃsa, and the spots marked by the four posts of the bed in the Buddha’s Gandhakuṭi in Jetavana. The monastery may vary in size; the site of the city in which it stands may also vary, but not the site of the bed. Sometimes it is to the east of the vihāra, sometimes to the north.¹³
Thirty facts are mentioned as being true of all Buddhas (samatiṃsavidhā dhammatā). In his last life every Bodhisatta is conscious at the moment of his conception; in his mother’s womb he remains cross legged with his face turned outwards; his mother gives birth to him in a standing posture; the birth takes place in a forest grove (araññe); immediately after birth he takes seven steps to the north and roars the “lion’s roar;” he makes his renunciation after seeing the four omens and after a son is born to him; he has to practise austerities for at least seven days after donning the yellow robe; he has a meal of milk-
A Buddha is born only in this world-
The Mahāpadāna Sutta ¹⁸ and the Acchariyabbhuta Sutta ¹⁹ contain accounts of other miracles that attend the conception and birth of a Buddha. Later books ²⁰ have greatly enlarged these accounts. They describe how the Bodhisatta, having practised the thirty perfections (pāramī), and made the five great gifts (pañcamahāpariccāgā), and thus reached the pinnacle of the threefold conduct (cariyā) — for relatives (ñātattha-
Sometimes only one Buddha is born in a world-
Having made these decisions, the Bodhisatta goes to Nandanavana in Tusita, and while wandering about there “falls away” from Tusita and takes conception. He is aware of his death but unaware of his decease consciousness (cuti-
On the day of the actual conception, the mother, having bathed in scented water after the celebration of the Āsāḷha festival, and having eaten choice food, takes upon herself the uposatha vows and retires to the adorned state bedchamber. As she sleeps, she dreams that the Four Regent Gods raise her with her bed, and, having taken her to the Himavā, bathe her in Lake Anotatta, robe her in divine clothes, anoint her with perfumes and deck her with heavenly flowers.²⁴ Not far away is a silver mountain and on it a golden mansion. There they lay her with her head to the east. The Bodhisatta, assuming the form of a white elephant, enters her room, and after circling right wise three times round her bed, smites her right side with his trunk and enters her womb. She awakes and tells her husband of her dream. Soothsayers are consulted, and they prophesy the birth of a Cakkavatti or of a Buddha.
The two suttas mentioned above speak of the circumstances obtaining during the time spent by the child in his mother’s womb. It is said ²⁵ that the Bodhisatta is born when his mother is in the last third of her middle age. This is in order that the birth may be easy for both mother and child. Various miracles attend the birth of the Bodhisatta. The Commentaries expound, at great length, the accounts of these miracles given in the suttas. Immediately after birth the Bodhisatta stands firmly on his feet, and having taken seven strides to the north, while a white canopy, is held over his head, looks round and utters in fearless voice the lion’s roar: “Aggo ’haṃ asmi lokassa, jettho ’haṃ asmi lokassa, settho ’haṃ asmi lokassa, ayaṃ antimā jāti, natthi dāni punabbhavo.” ²⁶
To the later Buddhists,²⁷ not only these acts of the Bodhisatta, but every item of the miracles accompanying his birth, have their symbolical meaning. There seems to have been a difference of opinion among the Elders of the Saṅgha as to what happened when the Bodhisatta took his seven strides northwards. Did he walk on the earth or travel through the air? Did people see him go? Was he clothed? Did he look an infant or an adult? Tipiṭaka Cuḷābhaya, teaching on the first floor of the Lohapāsāda, settled the question by suggesting a compromise: the Bodhisatta walked on earth, but the onlookers felt he was travelling through the air; he was naked, but the onlookers felt he was gaily adorned; he was an infant, but looked sixteen years old; and after his roar he reverted to infancy! ²⁸
After birth, the Bodhisatta is presented to the soothsayers for their prognostications and they reassert that two courses alone are open to him — either to be a Cakkavatti or a Buddha. They also discover on his body the thirty-
The typical career of a Buddha is illustrated in the life of Gotama (q.v.) He renounces the world only after the birth of a son. This, the Commentary explains,³⁶ is to prevent him from being taken for other than a human being. He sees the four omens before his Renunciation: an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and a recluse. Some Buddhas see all four on the same day, others, like Vipassī, at long intervals.³⁷ On the night before the Enlightenment, the Bodhisatta dreams five dreams.³⁸ After the Enlightenment the Buddha does not teach until asked to do so by Mahā Brahmā. This is on order that the world may pay greater attention to the Buddha and his teaching.³⁹ A Buddha generally travels from the Bodhi tree to Isipatana for his first discourse, through the air, but Gotama went on foot because he wished to meet Upaka on the way.⁴⁰
The Buddha’s day is divided into periods, each of which has its distinct duties.⁴¹ He rises early, and having attended to his bodily functions, sits in solitude until the time arrives for the alms round. He then puts on his outer robe and goes for alms, sometimes alone, sometimes with a large following of monks. When he wishes to go alone he keeps the door of his cell shut, which sign is understood by the monks.⁴² Occasionally he goes long distances for alms, travelling through the air, and then only Arahants (khīṇāsavā) are allowed to accompany him.⁴³ Sometimes he goes in the ordinary way (pakatiyā), sometimes accompanied by many miracles. After the meal he returns to his cell; this is the duty before the meal (pure bhattakicca).
Having washed his feet, he would emerge from his cell, talk to the monks and admonish them. To those who ask for subjects of meditation, he would give them according to their temperament. He would then retire to his cell and, if he so desire, sleep for a while. After that, he looks around the world with his divine-
The Buddha is Omniscient, not in the sense that he knows everything, but that he could know anything should he so desire.⁴⁷ His knowledge (ñāṇa) is one of the four illimitables.⁴⁸ He converts people in one of three ways: by exhibition of miraculous powers (iddhipāṭihāriya), by reading their thoughts (ādesanāpāṭihāriya), or teaching them what is beneficial to them according to their character and temperament (anusāsanīpāṭihāriya). It is the last method, which the Buddha most often uses.⁴⁹ Though the Buddha’s teaching is never really lost on the listener, he sometimes teaches knowing that it will be of no immediate benefit.⁵⁰ It is said that wherever a monk dwells during the Buddha’s time, in the vicinity of the Buddha, he would always have ready a special seat for the Buddha because it is possible that the Buddha would pay him a special visit.⁵¹ Sometimes the Buddha will send a ray of light from his Gandhakuṭi to encourage a monk engaged in meditation and, appearing before him in this ray of light, teach him. Stanzas so taught are called obhāsagāthā.⁵²
Every Buddha founds an Order; the first verse setting forth the monastic training (pāṭimokkhuddesagāthā) of every Buddha is the same.⁵³ The attainment of Arahantship is always the aim of the Buddha’s instruction.⁵⁴ Beings can obtain the four higher knowledges (abhiññā) only during the lifetime of a Buddha.⁵⁵ A Buddha has ten powers (balāni) which consist of his perfect comprehension in ten fields of knowledge,⁵⁶ and physical strength equal to that of a billion elephants.⁵⁷ He alone can digest the food of the devas or food which contains the ambrosia (ojā) put into it by the devas. No one else can eat with impunity the food that has been set apart for the Buddha.⁵⁸ Besides these excellences, a Buddha possesses the four assurances (vesārajjāni),⁵⁹ the eighteen extraordinary qualities (āveṇikadhammā),⁶⁰ and the sixteen kinds of pre-
The remembrance of former births a Buddha shares with six classes of purified beings, only in a higher degree. This faculty is possessed in ascending scale by non-
Every Buddha holds a Mahāsamaya, and only a Buddha is capable of teaching a series of suttas to suit the different temperaments of the mighty assembly gathered there.⁶³
A Buddha is not completely immune from disease (e.g., Gotama). Every Buddha has the power of living for one whole world-
After the Buddha’s death, his Doctrine is gradually forgotten. The first Piṭaka to be lost is the Abhidhamma, beginning with the Paṭṭhāna and ending with the Dhammasaṅgaṇī. Then, the Aṅguttaranikāya of the Sutta Piṭaka, from the eleventh to the first Nipāta; next the Saṃyuttanikāya from the Cakkapeyyāla to the Oghatarana; then the Majjhimanikāya, from the Indriyabhāvanā Sutta to the Mūlapariyāya Sutta, and then the Dīghanikāya, from the Dasuttara Sutta to the Brahmajāla Sutta. Scattered verses (gāthā) like the Sabhiyapucchā, and the Āḷavakapucchā, last much longer, but they cannot maintain the religion (sāsana). The last Piṭaka to disappear is the Vinaya, the last portion being the mātikā of the Ubhatovibhaṅga.⁷⁰
When a Buddha dies, his body receives the honours due to a monarch.⁷¹ It is said that on the night on which a Buddha attains Enlightenment, and on the night during which he dies, the colour of his skin becomes exceedingly bright.⁷² At all times, where a Buddha is present, no other light can shine.⁷³
No Buddha is born during the evolving cycle (saṃvaṭṭamānakappa), but only during the devolving cycle (vivaṭṭamānakappa).⁷⁴ A Bodhisatta who excels in paññā can attain Buddhahood in four immeasurable aeons; one who exels in saddhā, in eight, and one whose viriya is the chief factor, in sixteen.⁷⁵ When once a being has become a Bodhisatta there are eighteen conditions from which he is immune.⁷⁶ The Buddha is referred to under various epithets. The Aṅguttaranikāya gives one such list. There he is called Samaṇa, Brāhmaṇa, Vedagū, Bhisaka, Nimmala, Vimala, Ñāṇī, and Vimutta.⁷⁷
The Buddha generally speaks of himself ⁷⁸ as Tathāgata. His followers usually address him as the Blessed One (Bhagavā), while others call him by his name (Gotama). In the case of Gotama Buddha, we find him also addressed as Sakka,⁷⁹ Brahma,⁸⁰ Mahāmuni,⁸¹ and Yakkha.⁸² Countless other epithets occur in the books, especially in the later ones. One very famous formula, used by Buddhists in their ritual, contains nine epithets, the formula being: Bhagavā arahaṃ sammāsambuddho, vijjācaraṇasampanno, sugato, lokavidū, anuttaro, purisadammasārathi, satthā devamanussānaṃ, Buddho Bhagavā.⁸³ It is maintained ⁸⁴ that the Buddha’s praises are limitless (aparimāṇa). One of his most striking characteristics, mentioned over and over again, is his love of quiet.⁸⁵ In this his disciples followed his example.⁸⁶ The dwelling place of a Buddha is called the Gandhakuṭi. His footprint is called Padacetiya, and this can be seen only when he so desires it. When once he wishes it to be visible, no one can erase it. He can also so will that only one particular person shall see it.⁸⁷ It is also said ⁸⁸ that his power of love is so great that no evil action can show its results in his presence. A Buddha never asks for praise, but if his praises are uttered in his presence he takes no offence.⁸⁹ When the Buddha is seated in some spot, none has the power of going through the air above him.⁹⁰ He prefers to accept the invitations of poor men to a meal.⁹¹
See also Gotama and Bodhisatta. Also the article on Buddha in the N.P.D.
¹ Na mātarā kataṃ, na pitarā kataṃ — vimokkhantikaṃ etaṃ buddhānaṃ bhagavantānaṃ bodhiyā mūle ... paññatti, MNid.458; Ps.i.174.
² E.g., SA.i.20; AA.i.65
³ E.g., D.ii.5 f; S.ii.5 f; cp. Thag.491; J.ii.147; they are also mentioned at Vin.ii.110, in an old formula against snake-
¹¹ However, when he wishes, a Buddha can spread his aura at will (BuA.106).
¹² Only the first five are mentioned in DA.ii.424; also at BuA.105; all eight are given at BuA.246 f., which also gives details under each of the eight heads, regarding all the twenty-
¹⁶ D.ii.225; D.iii.114; the reasons for this are given in detail in Mil. 236, and quoted in DA.iii.900 f.
¹⁷ Similar earthquakes appear when he is born, when he attains Enlightenment, when he gives the first discourse, when he decides to die, when he finally does so (D.ii.108 f; cp. DA.iii.897).
²³ See Mil.123.
²⁷ See, e.g., DA.ii.439; thus, standing on the earth means the attaining of the four bases of success (iddhipāda); facing north implies the spiritual conquest of multitudes; the seven strides are the seven factors of enlightenment (bojjhaṅgas); the canopy is the umbrella of emancipation; looking round means unveiled knowledge; fearlessness denotes the irrevocable turning of the Wheel of the Dhamma; the mention of the last birth, the Arahantship he will attain in this life, etc.
³⁴ For details concerning his voice see DA.ii.452 f; and MA.ii.771 f.
⁴⁶ Details of the wandering (cārikā) and the reasons for them are given at length in DA.i.240‑3. When the Buddha cannot go on a journey himself, he sends his chief disciples (SNA.ii.474). The Buddha announces his intention of undertaking a journey two weeks before he starts, so that the monks may get ready (DhA.ii.167).
⁴⁷ See MNid.178,179; see also MNidA.223; SNA.i.18.
⁴⁸ Neither can the Buddha’s body be measured for purposes of comparison with other bodies, MA.ii.790.
⁴⁹ BuA.81. The Buddha’s rivals say that he possesses the power of bewitchment (āvattanīmāyā); but this is untrue, as sometimes (e.g., in the case of the Kosambi monks) he cannot make even his own disciples obey him. Some beings, however, can be converted only by a Buddha. They are called Buddha veneyyā (SNA.i.331). Some are pleased by the Buddha’s looks, others by his voice and words, yet others by his austerities, such as the wearing of simple robes, etc; and finally, those whose standard of judgment is goodness, reflect that he is without a peer (DhA.iii.113 f ).
⁵⁶ A.v.32 f; M.i.69, etc. At S.ii.27 f., ten similar powers are given as consisting of his knowledge of Dependent Origination. The powers of a disciple are distinct from those of a Buddha (Kvu.228); they are seven (see, e.g., D.iii.283.
⁶⁰ Described at Lal. 183, 343, Buddhaghosa also gives (at DA.iii.994) a list of eighteen Buddhadhammā, but they are all concerned with the absence of duccarita in the case of the Buddha.
⁶⁴ The Commentary explains (DA.ii.554 f ) that world-
⁶⁷ DA.iii.899 f; for the history of Gotama’s relics see Gotama.
⁷¹ These are detailed at D.ii.141 f.
⁷² D.ii.134. Here we have the beginning of a legend which later grew into an account of an actual “transfiguration” of the Buddha.
⁷⁷ C.iv. 340) Buddhaghosa gives seven others: Cakkkumā, Sabbabhūtanukampī, Vihātaka, Mārasenappamaddī, Vusitavā, Vimutto and Aṅgirasa (DA.iii.962 f).
⁷⁸ This term is explained at great length in the Commentaries, e.g., DA.i.59 f.
⁷⁹ SN. vs. 345; perhaps the equivalent of Sākya.
⁸³ These words are analysed and discussed in Vism. 198 ff.
⁸⁴ E.g., DA.i.288.
⁸⁵ E.g., D.i.178 f. He is also fond of solitude (paṭissallāna), D.ii.70; A.iv.438 f; S.v.320 f., etc. When he is in retirement it is usually the wrong-
2. Buddha.– A king of forty-
3. Buddha.– A minister of Mahinda V. He was a native of Māragallaka and, in association with Kitti, another minister, vanquished the Coḷa army at Paluṭṭhagiri. He received as reward his native village. Cv.lv.26‑31.