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Kassapa Buddha

Also called Kassapa Dasabala to distinguish him from other Kassapas. The twenty-fourth Buddha, the third of the present fortunate aeon (bhaddakappa) and one of the seven Buddhas mentioned in the Canon

Over his relics was raised a thūpa one league in height, each brick of which was worth ten million.

It is said ³ that there was a great difference of opinion as to what should be the size of the thūpa and of what material it should be constructed; when these points were finally settled and the work of building had started, the citizens found they had not enough money to complete it. Then a Non-returner devotee, named Sorata, went all over Jambudīpa, enlisting the help of the people for the building of the thūpa. He sent the money as he received it, and on hearing that the work was completed, he set out to go and worship the thūpa; but he was seized by robbers and killed in the forest, which later came to be known as the Andhavana.

Upavāṇa, in a previous birth, became the guardian deity of the cetiya, hence his great majesty in his last life.⁴ Among the thirty-seven goddesses noticed by Guttila, when he visited heaven, was one who had offered a scented five-spray at the cetiya.⁵ So did Alāta offer āneja-flowers and obtain a happy rebirth.⁶

The cause of Mahā-Kaccāna’s golden complexion was his gift of a golden brick to the building of Kassapa’s shrine.⁷ At the same cetiya, Anuruddha, who was then a householder in Bārāṇasī, offered butter and molasses in bowls of brass, which were placed without any interval around the cetiya.⁸ Among those who attained Arahantship under Kassapa is mentioned Gavesī, who, with his five hundred followers, strove always to excel themselves until they attained their goal.⁹ Mahākappina, then a clansman, built, for Kassapa’s monks, a pariveṇa with one thousand cells.¹⁰ Bakkula’s admirable health and great longevity were due to the fact that he had given the first fruits of his harvest to Kassapa’s monks.¹¹

During the time of Kassapa Buddha, the Bodhisatta was a brahmin youth named Jotipāla who, afterwards, coming under the influence of Ghaṭīkāra, became a monk.¹² This Ghaṭīkāra was later born in the Brahma-world and visited Gotama, after his Enlightenment. Gotama then reminded him of this past friendship, which Ghaṭīkāra seemed too modest to mention.¹³ The Majjhimanikāya ¹⁴ gives details of the earnestness with which Ghaṭīkāra worked for Jotipāla’s conversion when Kassapa was living at Vegaḷiṅga. The same sutta bears evidence of the great regard Kassapa had for Ghaṭīkāra.

The king of Bārāṇasī at the time of Kassapa was Kikī, and the four gateways of Kassapa’s cetiya were built, one by Kikī, one by his son Pathavindhara, one by his ministers led by his general, and the last by his subjects with the treasurer at their head.¹⁵ It is said that the Buddha’s chief disciple, Tissa, was born on the same day as Kassapa and that they were friends from birth. Tissa left the world earlier and became an ascetic. When he visited the Buddha after his Enlightenment, he was greatly grieved to learn that the Buddha ate meat (āmagandha), and the Buddha taught him the Āmagandha Sutta, by which he was converted.¹⁶

The Ceylon Chronicles ¹⁷ mention a visit paid by Kassapa to Sri Lanka in order to stop a war between King Jayanta and his younger brother. The island was then known as Maṇḍadīpa, with Visāla as capital. The Buddha came with twenty thousand disciples and stood on Subhakūṭa, and the armies seeing him stopped the fight. In gratitude, Jayanta presented to the Buddha the Mahāsāgara garden, in which was afterwards planted a branch of the Bodhi-tree brought over by Sudhammā, in accordance with the Buddha’s wish. The Buddha taught at the Asokamālaka, the Sudassanamālaka and the Somanassamālaka, and gave his rain-cloak as a relic to the new converts, for whose spiritual guidance he left behind his disciples Sabbānanda and Sudhammā and their followers. In Kassapa’s time Mt. Vepulla at Rājagaha was known as Supassa and its inhabitants as the Suppiyas.¹⁸ However, many other places had the same names in the time of Kassapa as they had in the present age — e.g., Videha,¹⁹ Sāvatthi,²⁰ Kimbila,²¹ and Bārānasī.²²

Besides the Āmagandha Sutta mentioned above, various other teachings are mentioned as having been first promulgated by Kassapa and handed on down to the time of Gotama and re-taught by him. Such, for instance, are the questions (pucchā) of Āḷavaka and Sabhiya and the stanzas taught to Sutasoma by the brahmin Nanda of Takkasilā.²³ The Mittavindaka Jātaka (No.140) is mentioned as belonging to the days of Kassapa Buddha.²⁴ Mention is also made of doctrines that had been taught by Kassapa but forgotten later, and Gotama is asked by those who had heard faint echoes of them to revive them.²⁵ A discourse attributed to Kassapa, when he once visited Bārāṇasī with twenty thousand monks, is included in the story of Paṇḍita-Sāmaṇera.²⁶ It was on this occasion that Kassapa accepted alms from the beggar Mahāduggata in preference to those offered by the king and the nobles.

Kassapa held the uposatha only once in six months.²⁷ Between the times of Kassapa and Gotama the surface of the earth grew enough to cover Sūkarakatalena.²⁸

The records of Chinese pilgrims contain numerous references to places connected with Kassapa. Hiouien Thsang speaks of a stūpa containing the relics of the whole body of the Buddha, to the north of the town, near Srāvasti, where, according to him, Kassapa was born.²⁹ Mention is also made of a footprint of Kassapa.³⁰ Stories of Kassapa are also found in the Divyāvadāna.³¹

The Dhammapada Commentary ³² contains a story, which seems to indicate that, near the village of Todeyya, there was a shrine thought to be that of Kassapa and held in high honour by the inhabitants of the village. After the disappearance of Buddha Kassapa’s teaching, a class of monks called “white-robed recluses” (setavattha-samaṇavaṃsa) tried to resuscitate it, but without success.³³


¹ D.ii.7. ² The BuA.217 calls the first two palaces Haṃsavā and Yasavā.

³ MA.i.336 ff.

DA.ii.580; for another story of the building of the shrine see DhA.iii.29.

J.ii.256. J.vi.227. AA.i.116. AA.i.105. A.iii.214 ff.

¹⁰ AA.i.175. ¹¹ MA.iii.932.

¹² Bu.xxv; BuA.217 ff; D.ii.7; J.i.43, 94; D.iii.196; Mtu.i.303 ff, 319.

¹³ S.i.34 f. ¹⁴ M.ii.45 f. ¹⁵ SnA.i.194. ¹⁶ SnA.i.280 ff.

¹⁷ Mhv.xv.128 ff; Sp.i.87; Dpv.xv.55 ff; Mbv.129. ¹⁸ S.ii.192.

¹⁹ J.vi.122. ²⁰ J.vi.123. ²¹ J.vi.121. ²² J.vi.120. ²³ J.v.476 f; 453. ²⁴ J.i.413.

²⁵ E.g., MA, i.107, 528; AA.i.423. ²⁶ DhA.ii.127 ff. ²⁷ DhA.iii.236.

²⁸ MA.ii.677. ²⁹ Beal, op.cit., ii.13. ³⁰ Ibid. i., Introd. ciii.

³¹ E.g., pp.22 f; 344 f; 346 f; see also Mtu., e.g., i.59, 303 f.

³² DhA.iii.250 f. ³³ VibhA.432.

References in the notes are to the Pāḷi texts of the PTS. In the translations, these are usually printed in the headers near the spine, or in, for example, the Visuddhimagga, they are given in square brackets in the body of the text, thus [68]. References to the Jātaka Commentary are given as J, not JA, which would normally be used, as that is reserved for the Journal Asiatic.