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Digha Nikaya

Dīgha Nikāya
14 Mahāpadāna Sutta
Seven Fully Enlightened Buddhas

Details of the life and going forth of the Supreme Buddha Vipassī

Table of Contents

1. On Past Lives

This is as I heard. In those days, the Buddha was living in the city of Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Park, at Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery, in the meditation hut built under the shade of the kareri tree.

One day, after the meal, on return from the alms-round, several monks sat together in the hall by the kareri tree and a Dhamma discussion on the subject of past lives came up among them, “So this is how it was in past lives; such were the past lives.”

With the divine ear that is purified and superhuman, the Buddha heard that discussion among those monks. So the Buddha got up from his seat and went to the hall, where he sat on the seat spread out and asked the monks, “Monks, what were you sitting and talking about just now? What was the discussion you couldn’t finish?”

The monks told the Buddha what they were talking about, adding, “Bhante, this was the discussion that was unfinished when the Buddha arrived.”

“Monks, would you like to hear a Dhamma talk on the subject of past lives?”

“Now is the time, Blessed One! Now is the time, Holy One! Let the Buddha give a Dhamma talk on the subject of past lives. The monks will listen and remember it.”

“Well then, monks, listen and pay close attention, I will teach.”

“Yes, Bhante,” they replied. The Buddha taught this.

“Ninety-one eons ago, the Buddha Vipassī arose in the world, liberated and fully enlightened. Thirty-one eons ago, the Buddha Sikhī arose in the world, liberated and fully enlightened. In the same thirty-first eon, the Buddha Vessabhū arose in the world, liberated and fully enlightened. In the present fortunate eon, the Buddhas, Kakusandha, Koṇāgamana, and Kassapa arose in the world, liberated and fully enlightened. In this present fortunate eon, I have arisen in the world, liberated and fully enlightened.

“Monks, the Buddhas, Vipassī, Sikhī, and Vessabhū were born in the royal caste into royal families. The Buddhas, Kakusandha, Koṇāgamana, and Kassapa were born in the brahmin caste, into brahmin families. I was born in the royal caste into a royal family.

“Monks, Koṇḍañña was the clan of the Buddhas, Vipassī, Sikhī, and Vessabhū. Kassapa was the clan of the Buddhas, Kakusandha, Koṇāgamana, and Kassapa. Gotama is my clan.

“Monks, the Buddha Vipassī had a lifespan of 80,000 years. The Buddha Sikhī had a lifespan of 70,000 years. The Buddha Vessabhū had a life span of 60,000 years. The Buddha Kakusandha had a lifespan of 40,000 years. The Buddha Koṇāgamana had a lifespan of 30,000 years. The Buddha Kassapa had a lifespan of 20,000 years. For me, in the current period, the life-span is short, brief, and fleeting and even a long-lived person these days, lives only for a hundred years or a little more.

“The Buddha Vipassī was enlightened at the root of a Palol tree. The Buddha Sikhī was enlightened at the root of a burflower tree. The Buddha Vessabhū was enlightened at the root of a sal tree. The Buddha Kakusandha was enlightened at the root of an Mahari tree. Buddha Koṇāgamana was enlightened at the root of a cluster fig tree. Buddha Kassapa was enlightened at the root of a banyan tree. I was enlightened at the root of a sacred fig tree.

“The Buddha Vipassī had a fine pair of chief disciples named Khaṇḍa and Tissa. The Buddha Sikhī had a fine pair of chief disciples named Abhibhū and Sambhava. The Buddha Vessabhū had a fine pair of chief disciples named Soṇa and Uttara. The Buddha Kakusandha had a fine pair of chief disciples named Vidhura and Sañjīva. The Buddha Koṇāgamana had a fine pair of chief disciples named Bhiyyosa and Uttara. The Buddha Kassapa had a fine pair of chief disciples named Tissa and Bhāradvāja. I have a fine pair of chief disciples named Sāriputta and Moggallāna.

“The Buddha Vipassī had three major gatherings of disciples—one of 6,800,000, one of 100,000, and one of 80,000—all of them liberated monks who had destroyed their defilements.

“The Buddha Sikhī had three major gatherings of disciples—one of 100,000, one of 80,000, and one of 70,000—all of them liberated monks who had destroyed their defilements.

“The Buddha Vessabhū had three major gatherings of disciples—one of 80,000, one of 70,000, and one of 60,000—all of them liberated monks who had destroyed their defilements.

“The Buddha Kakusandha had one major gathering of disciples—40,000 liberated monks who had destroyed their defilements.

“The Buddha Koṇāgamana had one major gathering of disciples—30,000 liberated monks who had destroyed their defilements.

“The Buddha Kassapa had one major gathering of disciples—20,000 liberated monks who had destroyed their defilements.

“I have had one major gathering of disciples—1,250 liberated monks who had destroyed their defilements.

“The Buddha Vipassī had a chief attendant monk named Asoka. The Buddha Sikhī had a chief attendant monk named Khemaṅkara. The Buddha Vessabhū had a chief attendant monk named Upasanta. The Buddha Kakusandha had a chief attendant monk named Buddhija. The Buddha Koṇāgamana had a chief attendant monk named Sotthija. The Buddha Kassapa had a chief attendant monk named Sabbamitta. I have a chief attendant monk named Ānanda.

“The Buddha Vipassī’s father was King Bandhuma, his birth mother was Queen Bandhumatī, and their capital city was named Bandhumatī.

“The Buddha Sikhī’s father was King Aruṇa, his birth mother was Queen Pabhāvatī, and their capital city was named Aruṇavatī.

“The Buddha Vessabhū’s father was King Suppatīta, his birth mother was Queen Yassavatī, and their capital city was named Suppatīta.

“The Buddha Kakusandha’s father was the brāhmin Aggidatta, and his birth mother was the brāhmin lady Visākhā. At that time the king was Khema, whose capital city was named Khemavatī.

“The Buddha Koṇāgamana’s father was the brāhmin Yaññadatta, and his birth mother was the brāhmin lady Uttarā. At that time the king was Sobha, whose capital city was named Sobhāvatī.

“The Buddha Kassapa’s father was the brāhmin Brahmadatta, and his birth mother was the brāhmin lady Dhanavatī. At that time the king was Kikī, whose capital city was named Benares.

“My father was King Suddhodana, my birth mother was Queen Māyā, and the capital city is Kapilavatthu.”

That is what the Buddha taught. When he had finished, the Blessed One got up from his seat and entered his meditation hut.

Soon after the Buddha left, those monks discussed among themselves, “It’s incredible, venerables, it’s amazing, the power and might of a Buddha! He is able to recollect the castes, names, clans, life-span, chief disciples, and major gatherings of disciples of the Buddhas of the past who became completely extinguished, ended defiled thought processes, ended the path which forms defilements, finished the cycle of rebirth, and overcame suffering. The Buddha knows the castes the past Buddhas were born in, and also their names, clans, conduct, qualities, wisdom, meditation, and liberation. Venerables, is it because the Buddha has clearly comprehended the law of Dhamma that he can recollect all these things? Or did deities tell him?”

However, the monks were unable to finish this conversation. At that moment, in the afternoon, the Buddha came out of meditation and went to the hall by the kareri tree, where he sat on the seat spread out and asked the monks, “Monks, what were you sitting and talking about just now? What was the discussion you couldn’t finish?”

The monks told the Buddha what they were talking about, adding, “Bhante, this was our discussion that was unfinished when the Buddha arrived.”

“Monks, it is because I have clearly comprehended the law of Dhamma that I can recollect all these things. The deities also told me about the past Buddhas.

“Monks, would you like to hear a further Dhamma talk on the subject of past lives?”

“Now is the time, Bhante! Now is the time, Blessed One! Let the Buddha give a further Dhamma talk on the subject of past lives. The monks will listen and remember it.”

“Well then, monks, listen and pay close attention, I will teach.”

“Yes, Bhante,” they replied. The Buddha taught this.

“Ninety-one eons ago, the Buddha Vipassī arose in the world, liberated and fully enlightened. He was born in the royal caste into a royal family. His clan was Koṇḍañña. His lifespan was 80,000 years. He was enlightened at the root of a Palol tree. He had a fine pair of chief disciples named Khaṇḍa and Tissa. He had three major gatherings of disciples—one of 6,800,000, one of 100,000, and one of 80,000—all of them liberated monks who had destroyed their defilements. He had a chief attendant monk named Asoka. His father was King Bandhuma, his birth mother was Queen Bandhumatī, and their capital city was named Bandhumatī.

2. Extra-Ordinary factors in the life of a Bodhisatta

“Monks, when the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, passed away from Tusita heaven, he was conceived in his mother’s womb, mindful and aware. This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.

“It’s extra-ordinary that when the Bodhisatta passes away from Tusita heaven, he is conceived in his mother’s womb and then—in this world with its gods, Māras and Brahmās, this population with its recluses and brāhmins, gods and humans—an immeasurable, magnificent light appears, surpassing the power of the gods. Even in the darkest hell—so dark that even the light of the sun and the moon, so mighty and powerful, doesn’t reach—an immeasurable, magnificent light appears, surpassing the power of the gods. The hell-beings reborn there recognize each other by that light, ‘So, it seems other hell-beings have been reborn here!’ And this ten thousand world system shakes, rocks and trembles. An immeasurable, magnificent light appears in the world, surpassing the power of the gods. This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.

“It’s extra-ordinary that when the Bodhisatta is conceived in his mother’s womb, the Four Great Gods approach to guard the four directions, so that no human or non-human or anyone at all shall harm the Bodhisatta or his mother. This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.

“It’s extra-ordinary that when the Bodhisatta is conceived in his mother’s womb, the mother becomes naturally virtuous. She refrains from killing beings, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and taking intoxicating drinks and drugs. This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.

“It’s extra-ordinary that when the Bodhisatta is conceived in his mother’s womb, the mother no longer gives rise to lustful thoughts about men, and she cannot be touched by a man with lustful thoughts. This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.

“It’s extra-ordinary that when the Bodhisatta is conceived in his mother’s womb, the mother obtains the five kinds of worldly pleasures (attractive sights, sounds, fragrances, tastes and tangibles) and pleases and entertains herself with those pleasures. This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.

“It’s extra-ordinary that when the Bodhisatta is conceived in his mother’s womb, from that moment on, the mother has no afflictions. She’s healthy and free of bodily fatigue. She sees the Bodhisatta in her womb, complete with all his various limbs, not deficient in any faculty. Suppose there was a beryl gem that was naturally beautiful, eight-faceted, well-worked, transparent, clear and endowed with all good qualities. And a thread of blue, yellow, red, white, or golden brown is run through the gem. Then, if someone with good eyesight were to take it in their hand and examine it thinking, ‘This beryl gem is naturally beautiful, eight-faceted, well-worked, transparent, clear and endowed with all good qualities. And a thread of blue, yellow, red, white, or golden brown is run through it.’ (Just as one can see the thread clearly inside the gem, the mother can see the Bodhisatta inside the womb.)

“When the Bodhisatta is conceived in his mother’s womb, from that moment on, the mother has no afflictions. She’s healthy and free of bodily fatigue. And she sees the Bodhisatta in her womb, complete with all his various limbs, not deficient in any faculty. This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.

“It’s extra-ordinary that seven days after the Bodhisatta is born, his mother passes away and is reborn in Tusita heaven. This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.

“It’s extra-ordinary that while other women carry the infant in the womb for nine or ten months before giving birth, it is not so for the mother of the Bodhisatta. She gives birth after exactly ten months. This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.

“It’s extra-ordinary that while other women give birth while sitting or lying down, it is not so for the mother of the Bodhisatta. She only gives birth standing up. This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.

“It’s extra-ordinary that when the Bodhisatta emerges from his mother’s womb, gods receive him first, then humans. This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.

“It’s extra-ordinary that when the Bodhisatta emerges from his mother’s womb, before the baby reaches the ground, the Four Great Gods receive him and place him before his mother, saying, ‘Rejoice, O Queen! An extra-ordinary child is born to you.’ This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.

“It’s extra-ordinary that when the Bodhisatta emerges from his mother’s womb, he emerges already clean, unsoiled by water, mucus, blood, or any other kind of impurity, pure and clean. Suppose a jewel was placed on a cloth from Kāsī. The jewel would not soil the cloth, nor would the cloth soil the jewel. Why is that? Because of the cleanliness of both.

“In the same way, when the Bodhisatta emerges from his mother’s womb, he emerges already clean, unsoiled by water, mucus, blood, or any other kind of impurity, pure and clean. This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.

“It’s extra-ordinary that when the Bodhisatta emerges from his mother’s womb, two streams of water appear in the sky, one cool and one warm, for the Bodhisatta and his mother to use. This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.

“It’s extra-ordinary that as soon as the Bodhisatta is born, the Bodhisatta stands firm with his own feet on the ground. Facing north, he takes seven steps with a white decorated umbrella held above him, surveys all directions, and makes this brave statement, ‘I am the greatest in the world! I am the eldest in the world! I am the best in the world! This is my last birth. There are no more future lives for me.’ This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.

“It’s extra-ordinary that when the Bodhisatta emerges from his mother’s womb, then—in this world with its gods, Māras and Brahmās, this population with its recluses and brāhmins, gods and humans—an immeasurable, magnificent light appears, surpassing the power of the gods. Even in the darkest hell—so dark that even the light of the sun and the moon, so mighty and powerful, doesn’t reach—an immeasurable, magnificent light appears, surpassing the power of the gods. The hell-beings reborn there recognize each other by that light, ‘So, it seems other hell-beings have been reborn here!’ And the ten thousand world system shakes, rocks and trembles. An immeasurable, magnificent light appears in the world, surpassing the power of the gods. This is extra-ordinary but happens in all the lives of the Buddhas-to-be.”

3. The Thirty-Two Marks of a Great Man

“Monks, when Prince Vipassī was born, royal ministers announced it to King Bandhumata, ‘Sire, your son is born! Let your majesty see the prince!’ When the king had seen the prince, he had the brāhmin predictors summoned and said to them, ‘Sirs, please examine the prince.’ When they had examined the prince, they said to the king, ‘Rejoice, O King! An extra-ordinary son is born to you. You are fortunate, so very fortunate, to have a son such as this born in this family! The prince has the thirty-two marks of a great man.

“‘A great man who possesses these has only two possible destinies, no other. If he stays in the home-life he becomes a king, a universal king, a righteous and disciplined king. His kingdom extends to the entire earth, he achieves stability on the earth, and he possesses the seven treasures. He has the following seven treasures: the wheel treasure, the elephant treasure, the horse treasure, the jewel treasure, the woman treasure, the counselor treasure and the son treasure. He has over a thousand sons who are brave and heroic, defeating the armies of his enemies. After conquering this earth surrounded by seas, he rules with righteousness, without violence. However, if he goes forth from the lay life to homelessness and becomes a monk, he becomes a liberated one, a fully enlightened Buddha, who draws back the veil of ignorance from the world.

“‘Sire, what are the marks which he possesses?

  1. He has feet with level soles.
  2. On the soles of his feet, there are imprints of thousand-spoked wheels, with rims and hubs, complete in every detail.
  3. He has long heels.
  4. He has long fingers and toes.
  5. His hands and feet are soft and tender.
  6. His hands and legs are flexible.
  7. He has high-raised ankles.
  8. His calves are muscular like those of the eny deer.
  9. When standing upright and not bending over, he can touch his knees with either hand.
  10. His male organ is covered as if enclosed in a sheath.
  11. His complexion is golden and his skin has a golden sheen.
  12. He has smooth skin, so smooth that dust and dirt don’t stick to his body.
  13. His body-hairs are separated one per pore.
  14. His body-hairs grow upwards; they’re blue-black and curl clockwise.
  15. His body is as straight as a Brahmā’s.
  16. He has well-built muscles in seven places.
  17. His chest is like that of a lion.
  18. The gap between the shoulder-blades are filled in.
  19. His body is equally proportioned, and his height is six feet.
  20. His upper body is proportionally built.
  21. He has taste buds that enhance the taste of food.
  22. His jaw is like that of a lion (very strong).
  23. He has forty teeth.
  24. His teeth are even.
  25. His teeth have no gaps.
  26. His teeth are perfectly white.
  27. He has a long wide tongue.
  28. He has a Brahma-like voice which is as sweet as the bird Karavīka’s call
  29. His eyes are deep blue.
  30. He has big eyes like that of a newly born calf.
  31. Between his eyebrows there grows a single strand of hair, soft and white like cotton wool.
  32. His forehead is flat and tall.

“‘These are the thirty-two marks of a great man and the prince has these. A great man who possesses these has only two possible destinies, no other. If he stays in the home-life, he becomes a king, a universal king. But if he goes forth from the lay life to homelessness, he becomes a liberated one, a fully enlightened Buddha, who draws back the veil of ignorance from the world.’

4. He Came to be Known as Vipassī

“Monks, King Bandhuma had the brāhmin predictors dressed in fresh clothes and satisfied all their needs. Then the king appointed nurses for Prince Vipassī. Some suckled him, some bathed him, some held him, and some carried him on their hip. From when he was born, a white decorated umbrella was held over him day and night, with the thought, ‘Don’t let the cold, heat, grass or dust bother him.’ He was dear to and beloved by many people, like a blue, red or white lotus. He was always passed around with joy from nurses’ hip to hip.

“From when he was born, his voice was charming, graceful, sweet, and lovely. It was as sweet as the call of the Karavīka-bird found in the Himalayas.

“From when he was born, Prince Vipassī had the power of the divine eye which appeared as a result of his past good kamma. He could see for ten kilometers all around both by day and night.

“He was unblinkingly watchful, like the gods of the Tāvatiṁsa. And because it was said that he was unblinkingly watchful, he came to be known as ‘Vipassī.’

“Then while King Bandhuma was sitting in the judgment hall, he’d sit Prince Vipassī in his lap and explain the case to him. Sitting there in his father’s lap, the Prince Vipassī would thoroughly consider the case and draw a conclusion using a logical procedure. So this was all the more reason for him to be known as ‘Vipassī.’

“Then King Bandhuma had three mansions built for him—one for the winter, one for the summer, and one for the rainy season, and provided him with the five kinds of worldly pleasures. Prince Vipassī stayed in a mansion without coming downstairs for the four months of the rainy season, where he was entertained by performers—none of them men.

5. The Old Man

“Then, after many thousands of years had passed, Prince Vipassī addressed his charioteer, ‘My dear charioteer, arrange the finest chariots. We will go to a park and see the scenery.’

“‘Yes, Prince,’ replied the charioteer. He arranged the chariots and informed the prince, ‘Prince, the finest chariots are harnessed. Please go at your convenience.’ Then Prince Vipassī got on a fine carriage and along with other fine carriages, set out for the park.

“Along the way the Prince saw an elderly man, bent over, crooked, leaning on a walking stick, trembling as he walked, sick and past his youth. He addressed his charioteer, ‘My dear charioteer, what has that man done? His hair and his body are unlike those of other men.’

“‘Prince, he is called an old man.’

“‘But why is he called an old man?’

“‘Prince, he’s called an old man because he doesn’t have long to live.’

“‘But my dear charioteer, will I grow old? Am I not exempt from old age?’

“‘Prince, everyone will grow old, including you. No-one is exempt from old age.’

“‘Well then, my dear charioteer, that’s enough of the park for today. Let’s return to the royal palace.’

“‘Yes, Prince,’ replied the charioteer and returned to the royal palace.

“Back at the royal palace, the prince was sad and unhappily thought, ‘Shame on this thing called birth, since old age will come to anyone who’s born.’

“Then King Bandhuma summoned the charioteer and asked, ‘My dear charioteer, I hope the prince enjoyed himself at the park. I hope he was happy there.’

“‘No, sire, the prince didn’t enjoy himself at the park, he did not go to the park.’

“‘But what did he see on the way to the park?’ And the charioteer told the king about seeing the old man and the prince’s reaction.

6. The Sick Man

“Then King Bandhuma thought, ‘Prince Vipassī must not renounce the throne. He must not go forth from the lay life to homelessness to become a recluse. And the words of the brāhmin predictors must not come true.’ Considering this, he provided the prince with even more of the five kinds of worldly pleasures, which the prince enjoyed.

“Then, after many thousands of years had passed, Prince Vipassī had his charioteer drive him to the park once more.

“Along the way he saw a man who was ill, suffering, gravely ill, collapsed in his own urine and feces, being picked up by some and put down by others. He asked his charioteer, ‘My dear charioteer, what has that man done? His eyes and his voice are unlike those of other men.’

“‘Prince, he is called a sick man.’

“‘But what does being sick mean?’

“‘Being sick means his only wish is that he will recover from that illness soon.’

“‘But my dear charioteer, will I become sick? Am I not exempt from sickness?’

“‘Prince, everyone will get sick, including you. No-one is exempt from sickness.’

“‘Well then, my dear charioteer, that’s enough of the park for today. Let’s return to the royal palace.’

“‘Yes, Prince,’ replied the charioteer and returned to the royal palace.

“Back at the royal palace, the prince was sad and unhappily thought, ‘Shame on this thing called birth, since old age and sickness will come to anyone who’s born.’

“Then King Bandhuma summoned the charioteer and asked, ‘My dear charioteer, I hope the prince enjoyed himself at the park? I hope he was happy there?’

“‘No, sire, the prince didn’t enjoy himself at the park. He didn’t go to the park.’

“‘But what did he see on the way to the park?’ And the charioteer told the king about seeing the sick man and the prince’s reaction.”

7. The Dead Man

“Monks, King Bandhuma thought, ‘Prince Vipassī must not renounce the throne. He must not go forth from the lay life to homelessness and become a recluse. And the words of the brāhmin predictors must not come true.’ Considering this, he provided the prince with even more of the five kinds of worldly pleasures, which the prince enjoyed.

“Then, after many thousands of years had passed, Prince Vipassī had his charioteer drive him to the park once more.

“Along the way he saw a large crowd gathered making a hut out of red clothes. He asked his charioteer, ‘My dear charioteer, why is that crowd making a hut out of red clothes?’

“‘Prince, that is for someone who’s dead.’

“‘Well then, drive the chariot up to the dead.’

“‘Yes, Prince,’ replied the charioteer, and did so.

“When the prince saw the body of the deceased, he addressed the charioteer, ‘But why is he called dead?’

“‘He’s called dead because now his mother and father and his relatives won’t be able to see him anymore, and he won’t see them ever again.’

“‘But my dear charioteer, am I going to die? Am I not exempt from death? Will the king and queen and my other relatives not be able to see me? And will I never see them again?’

“‘Prince, everyone will die, including you. No-one is exempt from death. The king and queen and your other relatives will no longer see you, and you will never see them again.’

“‘Well then, my dear charioteer, that’s enough of the park for today. Let’s return to the royal palace.’

“‘Yes, Prince,’ replied the charioteer and returned to the royal palace.

“Back at the royal palace, the prince was sad and unhappily thought, ‘Shame on this thing called birth, since old age, sickness, and death will come to anyone who’s born.’

“Then King Bandhuma summoned the charioteer and asked, ‘My dear charioteer, I hope the prince enjoyed himself at the park? I hope he was happy there?’

“‘No, sire, the prince didn’t enjoy himself at the park. He didn’t go to the park.’

“‘But what did he see on the way to the park?’ And the charioteer told the king about seeing the dead man and the prince’s reaction.”

8. The Recluse

“Then King Bandhuma thought, ‘Prince Vipassī must not renounce the throne. He must not go forth from the lay life to homelessness and become a recluse. And the words of the brāhmin predictors must not come true.’ Considering this, he provided the prince with even more of the five kinds of worldly pleasures, which the prince enjoyed.

“Then, after many thousands of years had passed, Prince Vipassī had his charioteer drive him to the park once more.

“Along the way he saw a man, a recluse with a shaved head, wearing a robe. He asked his charioteer, ‘My dear charioteer, what has that man done? His head and his clothes are unlike those of other men.’

“‘Prince, that is called a recluse.’

“‘But why is he called a recluse?’

“‘He is called a recluse because he desires good deeds, wholesome actions, harmlessness, pure conduct, and compassion for all beings.’

“‘Dear charioteer, I like that recluse, I also like good deeds, wholesome actions, harmlessness, pure conduct, and compassion for all beings! Well then, drive the chariot up to that recluse.’

“‘Yes, Prince,’ replied the charioteer, and did so.

“Then, Prince Vipassī asked that recluse, ‘Dear recluse, what have you done? Your head and your clothes are unlike those of other men.’

“‘Prince, I am what is called a recluse.’

“‘But why are you called a recluse?’

“‘I am called a recluse because I desire good deeds, wholesome actions, harmlessness, pure conduct, and compassion for all beings.’

“‘Dear recluse, I like your way of life, I also like good deeds, wholesome actions, harmlessness, pure conduct, and compassion for all beings!’”

9. Becoming a Recluse

“Then the prince addressed the charioteer, ‘Well then, my dear charioteer, take the chariot and return to the royal palace. I shall shave off my hair and beard right here, dress in robes, and go forth from the lay life to homelessness and become a recluse.’

“‘Yes, Prince,’ replied the charioteer and did so.

“Then Prince Vipassī shaved off his hair and beard, dressed in robes, and went forth from the lay life to homelessness and became a recluse.”

10. A Great Crowd Goes Forth

“A large crowd of 84,000 people in the capital of Bandhumatī heard that Vipassī had gone forth and became a recluse. It occurred to them, ‘This must be no ordinary teaching and training, not an ordinary going forth in which Prince Vipassī has gone. Since the prince went forth, why don’t we do the same?’

“Then that great crowd of 84,000 people shaved off their hair and beard, dressed in robes, and followed the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, by going forth from the lay life to homelessness. Accompanied by that assembly, the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, wandered on tour among the villages, towns, and capital cities.

“Then as he was meditating alone, this thought came to his mind, ‘It’s not appropriate for me to live in a crowd. Why don’t I live alone, withdrawn from the group?’ After some time he withdrew from the group to live alone. The 84,000 went one way, and the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, went another.

11. Bodhisatta Vipassī’s Reflections

“Monks, as the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, was meditating under the Palol tree, this thought came to his mind, ‘These beings have fallen into suffering. They’re born, grow old, die, pass away, and are reborn, yet they don’t understand how to escape from this suffering, old age and death. Oh, when will an escape be found from this suffering, old age and death?’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what exists, is there old age and death? What is the condition for old age and death?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When birth exists, there’s old age and death. Birth is the condition for old age and death.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what exists, is there birth? What is the condition for birth?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When the arranging of kamma exists, there’s birth. The arranging of kamma is the condition for birth.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what exists, is there the arranging of kamma? What is the condition for the arranging of kamma?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When clinging exists, there’s the arranging of kamma. Clinging is the condition for the arranging of kamma.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what exists, is there clinging? What is the condition for clinging?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When craving exists, there’s clinging. Craving is the condition for clinging.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what exists, is there craving? What is the condition for craving?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When feeling exists, there’s craving. Feeling is the condition for craving.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what exists, is there feeling? What is the condition for feeling?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When contact exists, there’s feeling. Contact is the condition for feeling.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what exists, is there contact? What is the condition for contact?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When the six sense bases exist, there’s contact. The six sense bases are the condition for contact.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what exists, are there the six sense bases? What is the condition for the six sense bases?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When name and form exist, there are the six sense bases. Name and form is the condition for the six sense bases.’1

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what exists, is there name and form? What is the condition for name and form?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When consciousness exists, there is name and form. Consciousness is the condition for name and form.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what exists, is there consciousness? What is the condition for consciousness?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When name and form exist, there’s consciousness. Name and form is the condition for consciousness.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘This consciousness turns back from name and form, and doesn’t go beyond name and form.’ It is to this extent that a being is born, grows old, dies, passes away and reborn. That is: Name and form is the condition for consciousness. Consciousness is the condition for name and form. Name and form is the condition for the six sense bases. The six sense bases is the condition for contact. Contact is the condition for feeling. Feeling is the condition for craving. Craving is the condition for clinging. Clinging is the condition for the arranging of kamma. The arranging of kamma is the condition for birth. Birth is the condition for old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress to come. This is how this entire mass of suffering arises.’

“‘Arising, arising.’ Such was the vision, knowledge, wisdom, realization, and light that arose in the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, regarding teachings not learned before from another.

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what doesn’t exist, is there no old age and death? When what ceases, does old age and death cease?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When there is no birth, there’s no old age and death. When birth ceases, old age and death cease.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what doesn’t exist, is there no birth? When what ceases, does birth cease?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When the arranging of kamma doesn’t exist, there’s no birth. When the arranging of kamma ceases, birth ceases.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what doesn’t exist, is there no arranging of kamma? When what ceases, does the arranging of kamma cease?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When clinging doesn’t exist, there’s no arranging of kamma. When clinging ceases, the arranging of kamma ceases.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what doesn’t exist, is there no clinging? When what ceases, does clinging cease?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When craving doesn’t exist, there’s no clinging. When craving ceases, clinging ceases.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what doesn’t exist, is there no craving? When what ceases, does craving cease?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When feeling doesn’t exist, there’s no craving. When feeling ceases, craving ceases.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what doesn’t exist, is there no feeling? When what ceases, does feeling cease?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When contact doesn’t exist, there’s no feeling. When contact ceases, feeling ceases.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī thought, ‘When what doesn’t exist, is there no contact? When what ceases, does contact cease?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When the six sense bases don’t exist, there’s no contact. When the six sense bases cease, contact ceases.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what doesn’t exist, are there no six sense bases? When what ceases, do the six sense bases cease?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When name and form doesn’t exist, there are no six sense bases. When name and form cease, the six sense bases cease.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what doesn’t exist, is there no name and form? When what ceases, does name and form cease?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When consciousness doesn’t exist, there is no name and form. When consciousness ceases, name and form cease.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘When what doesn’t exist, is there no consciousness? When what ceases, does consciousness cease?’ Then, through wise consideration, he comprehended with wisdom, ‘When name and form doesn’t exist, there’s no consciousness. When name and form cease, consciousness ceases.’

“Then the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, thought, ‘I have discovered the path to enlightenment. That is: When name and form cease, consciousness ceases. When consciousness ceases, name and form cease. When name and form cease, the six sense bases cease. When the six sense bases cease, contact ceases. When contact ceases, feeling ceases. When feeling ceases, craving ceases. When craving ceases, clinging ceases. When clinging ceases, the arranging of kamma ceases. When the arranging of kamma ceases, birth ceases. When birth ceases, old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress cease. That is how this entire mass of suffering ceases.’

“‘Cessation, cessation.’ Such was the vision, knowledge, wisdom, realization, and light that arose in the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, regarding teachings not learned before from another.

“Monks, some time later, the Bodhisatta, Vipassī, meditated observing arising and cessation of the five clinging aggregates. ‘Such is form, such is the origin of form and such is the cessation of form. Such is feeling, such is the origin of feeling and such is the cessation of feeling. Such is perception, such is the origin of perception and such is the cessation of perception. Such are volitions, such is the origin of volitions and such is the cessation of volitions. Such is consciousness, such is the origin of consciousness and such is the cessation of consciousness.’ Meditating like this, his mind was soon liberated from defilements by not clinging to anything.

12. The Invitation of Brahma

“Then, the fully enlightened Buddha Vipassī thought, ‘Why don’t I teach the Dhamma?’

“Then he thought, ‘This Dhamma I have realised is deep, hard to see, hard to understand, peaceful, sublime, beyond the scope of reason, subtle and only comprehensible to the wise. But people like craving, they love it and enjoy it. It’s hard for them to see this thing; that is, specific conditionality, dependent origination. It’s also hard for them to see this thing; that is, the stilling of all formations, the letting go of all attachments, the ending of craving, fading away, cessation and Nibbāna. If I were to teach the Dhamma, others might not understand it, which would be wearying and troublesome for me.’

“Monks, then these inspired verses, which were not learned before from another in the past, occurred to him:

“‘I’ve struggled hard to realize this,
enough with trying to teach it to others!
This Dhamma is not easily understood
by those caught up in defilements like greed and hate.

“‘Those caught up in greed can’t see
what’s subtle, going against the stream,
deep, hard to see, and very fine,
for they’re covered in a mass of darkness.’

“So, as the Buddha Vipassī reflected like this, his mind was reluctant and did not want to teach the Dhamma.

“Then a certain Great Brahma, knowing what the Buddha Vipassī was thinking, thought, ‘Oh my goodness! The world will be lost, the world will perish! The mind of the Buddha Vipassī, the liberated one, the fully enlightened Buddha, is reluctant and he does not want to teach the Dhamma.’ Then, as easily as a strong person would extend or contract their arm, he vanished from the Brahma world and reappeared in front of the Buddha Vipassī. He arranged his robe over one shoulder, knelt on his right knee, raised his joined palms toward the Buddha Vipassī, and said, ‘Bhante, let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma! Let the Compassionate One teach the Dhamma! There are beings with little defilements in their minds. They will deteriorate if they don’t get to hear the Dhamma. There will be those who understand the Dhamma if only they get to hear the Dhamma!’

“When he said this, the Buddha Vipassī said to him, ‘I thought this as well, Brahma, “Why don’t I teach the Dhamma?” Then it occurred to me, “This Dhamma I have realised is deep, hard to see, hard to understand, peaceful, sublime, beyond the scope of reason, subtle and only comprehensible to the wise. But people like craving, they love it and enjoy it. It’s hard for them to see this thing; that is, specific conditionality, dependent origination. It’s also hard for them to see this thing; that is, the stilling of all formations, the letting go of all attachments, the ending of craving, fading away, cessation and Nibbāna. If I were to teach the Dhamma, others might not understand it, which would be wearying and troublesome for me.”’

“‘Brahma, then these inspired verses, which were not learned before from another in the past, occurred to me:

“‘I’ve struggled hard to realize this,
enough with trying to teach it to others!
This Dhamma is not easily understood
by those caught up in defilements like greed and hate.

“‘Those caught up in greed can’t see
what’s subtle, going against the stream,
deep, hard to see, and very fine,
for they’re covered in a mass of darkness.’

“’Brahma, as I reflected like this, my mind was reluctant and I did not want to teach the Dhamma.’

“For a second time, and a third time that Great Brahma begged the Buddha to teach.

“Then, understanding the Brahma’s invitation, the Buddha Vipassī surveyed the world with the eye of a Buddha, because of his compassion for beings. He saw beings with only a few defilements in their minds, and some with many defilements in their minds; with keen faculties and with weak faculties, with good qualities and with bad qualities, easy to teach and hard to teach. Some of them lived seeing the danger in wrongdoing and the danger of falling into miserable worlds, while others did not. It’s like a pool with blue, red or white lotuses. Some of them sprout and grow in the water without rising above it, thriving underwater. Some of them sprout and grow in the water reaching the water’s surface. And some of them sprout and grow in the water but rise up above the water and stand with no water clinging to them.

“In the same way, the Buddha Vipassī saw beings with only a few defilements in their minds, and some with many defilements in their minds.

“Then that Great Brahma, knowing what the Buddha Vipassī was thinking, addressed him in verse:

“‘Standing high on a rocky mountain,
one can see the people all around.
In the same way, all-seer, wise one,
ascend the palace built of Dhamma!
You’re free of sorrow; but look at these people
overwhelmed with sorrow, troubled by birth and old age.

“‘Rise, hero! Victor in the battle with Māra, leader of the caravan,
the debtless one, wander the world.
Let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma!
There will be those who understand!’

“Then the Buddha Vipassī addressed that Great Brahma in verse:

“‘Wide open are the doors to the deathless!
Let those with ears come with faith.
Thinking it would be troublesome, Brahma, I did not teach
the well-realised, sublime Dhamma among humans.’

“Then the Great Brahma, knowing that his request for the Buddha Vipassī to teach the Dhamma had been granted, bowed and respectfully circled him, keeping him on his right, before vanishing from there.

13. The Chief Disciples

“Then the Blessed One, Vipassī, the liberated one, the fully enlightened Buddha, thought, ‘Who should I teach first of all? Who will quickly understand this Dhamma?’ Then he thought, ‘That Khaṇḍa, the king’s son, and Tissa, the chief advisor’s son, are wise, competent, clever, and for a long time had only a few defilements in their minds. Why don’t I teach them first? They will quickly understand this Dhamma.’

“Then, as easily as a strong person would extend or contract their arm, he vanished from under the tree of enlightenment and reappeared near the capital city of Bandhumatī, in the deer park named Khema.

“Then the Buddha Vipassī, addressed the park keeper, ‘My dear park keeper, please enter the city and say this to the king’s son, Khaṇḍa, and the chief advisor’s son, Tissa, “Sirs, the Blessed One Vipassī, the liberated one, the fully enlightened Buddha, has arrived at Bandhumatī and is staying in the deer park named Khema. He wishes to see you.”’

“‘Yes, Bhante,’ replied the park keeper, and did as he was asked.

“Then the king’s son, Khaṇḍa, and the chief advisor’s son, Tissa, had the finest carriages harnessed. Then, they got on a fine carriage and, along with other fine carriages, set out from Bandhumatī for Khema. Park. They went by carriage as far as the ground allowed, then got off and approached the Buddha Vipassī on foot. They bowed respectfully and sat down to one side.

“The Buddha Vipassī taught them step by step, a Dhamma lesson on giving, virtue, and heaven. The Buddha Vipassī explained the drawbacks of worldly pleasures, pain associated with defilements, and the benefit of renunciation. When the Buddha knew that their minds were ready, pliable, rid of hindrances, joyful and confident, the Buddha explained the special teaching of the Buddhas: suffering, its cause, its cessation, and the path leading to the cessation of suffering. Just as a clean cloth rid of stains would properly absorb dye, in that very seat, the stainless and undefiled vision of the Dhamma arose in the king’s son, Khaṇḍa, and the chief advisor’s son, Tissa, ‘Everything that arises will cease.’

“They saw, attained, understood, and realised the Dhamma. They went beyond doubt, got rid of confusions, and became self-assured and independent of others regarding the Buddha’s instructions. They said to the Buddha Vipassī, ‘Excellent, Bhante! Excellent! It’s as if someone were to turn upright what was overturned, or revealed what was hidden, or pointed out the path to someone lost, or lit a lamp in the dark so people with good eyes could see what was there, the Buddha made the Dhamma clear in many ways. We go for refuge to the Blessed One, to the Dhamma, and to the Saṅgha. Bhante, may we receive the going forth and ordination from the Buddha?’

“They then received the going forth and ordination from the Buddha Vipassī. Then the Buddha Vipassī, encouraged, roused and inspired them with a Dhamma lesson. He explained the drawbacks of conditioned things, pain associated with defilements, and the benefit of Nibbāna. Being taught like this, their minds were soon liberated from defilements by not clinging to anything.

14. The Going Forth of the Large Crowd

“A large crowd of 84,000 people in the capital of Bandhumatī heard that the Blessed One, Vipassī, the liberated one, the fully enlightened Buddha, had arrived at Bandhumatī and was staying in the deer park named Khema. They also heard that the king’s son, Khaṇḍa, and the chief advisor’s son, Tissa, had shaved off their hair and beard, dressed in robes and gone forth from the lay life to homelessness under the Buddha. It occurred to them, ‘This must be no ordinary teaching and training, no ordinary going forth in which the king’s son, Khaṇḍa, and the chief advisor’s son, Tissa, have gone forth. Since they have gone forth, why don’t we do the same?’ Then those 84,000 people left Bandhumatī for the deer park named Khema., where they approached the Buddha Vipassī, bowed respectfully and sat down to one side.

“The Buddha Vipassī taught them step by step, with a Dhamma lesson on giving, virtue, and heaven. He explained the drawbacks of worldly pleasures, pain associated with defilements, and the benefit of renunciation. When he knew that their minds were ready, pliable, rid of hindrances, joyful, and confident, he explained the special teaching of the Buddhas: suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the path leading to the cessation of suffering. Just as a clean cloth rid of stains would properly absorb dye, in those very seats, the stainless and undefiled vision of the Dhamma arose in those 84,000 people, ‘Everything that arises will cease.’

“They saw, attained, understood, and realised the Dhamma. They went beyond doubt, got rid of confusions, and became self-assured and independent of others regarding the Buddha’s instructions. They said to the Buddha Vipassī, ‘Excellent, Bhante! Excellent! It’s as if someone were to turn upright what was overturned, or revealed what was hidden, or pointed out the path to someone lost, or lit a lamp in the dark so people with good eyes could see what was there, the Buddha made the Dhamma clear in many ways. We go for refuge to the Blessed One, to the Dhamma, and to the Saṅgha. Bhante, may we receive the going forth and ordination from the Buddha?’

“They then received the going forth and the ordination from the Buddha Vipassī. Then the Buddha Vipassī, encouraged, roused and inspired them with a Dhamma lesson. He explained the drawbacks of conditioned things, pain associated with defilements, and the benefit of Nibbāna. Being taught like this, their minds were soon liberated from defilements by not clinging to anything.

15. The 84,000 Who Had Gone Forth Previously

“The 84,000 people who had gone forth previously also heard, ‘It seems the Blessed One Vipassī, the liberated one, the fully enlightened Buddha, has arrived at Bandhumatī and is staying in the deer park named Khema. He is teaching the Dhamma!’ Then they too went to see the Buddha Vipassī. The Buddha Vipassī taught them step by step, with a Dhamma lesson on giving, virtue, and heaven. He explained the drawbacks of worldly pleasures, pain associated with defilements, and the benefit of renunciation. When he knew that their minds were ready, pliable, rid of hindrances, joyful, and confident, he explained the special teaching of the Buddhas: suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the path leading to the cessation of suffering. Just as a clean cloth rid of stains would properly absorb dye, in those very seats, the stainless and undefiled vision of the Dhamma arose in those 84,000 people, ‘Everything that arises will cease.’

“They saw, attained, understood, and realised the Dhamma. They went beyond doubt, got rid of confusions, and became self-assured and independent of others regarding the Buddha’s instructions. They said to the Buddha Vipassī, ‘Excellent, Bhante! Excellent! It’s as if someone were to turn upright what was overturned, or revealed what was hidden, or pointed out the path to someone lost, or lit a lamp in the dark so people with good eyes could see what was there, the Buddha made the Dhamma clear in many ways. We go for refuge to the Blessed One, to the Dhamma, and to the Saṅgha. Bhante, may we receive the going forth and ordination from the Buddha?’

“They then received the going forth and the ordination from the Buddha Vipassī. Then the Buddha Vipassī, encouraged, roused and inspired them with a Dhamma lesson. He explained the drawbacks of conditioned things, pain associated with defilements and the benefit of Nibbāna. Being taught like this, their minds were soon liberated from defilements by not clinging to anything.”

16. The Allowance to Wander

“Now at that time, a large Saṅgha of 6,800,000 monks were living at Bandhumatī. As the Buddha Vipassī was in meditation, this thought came to his mind, ‘The Saṅgha residing at Bandhumatī is now large. What if I was to urge them saying,

“‘Wander forth, monks, for the welfare and happiness of the people, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, welfare, and happiness of gods and humans. Let two monks not go on one road. Teach the Dhamma that’s excellent in the beginning, excellent in the middle, and excellent in the end, meaningful and well-phrased. Explain the spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. There are beings with only a few defilements in their minds. They will deteriorate if they don’t get to hear the Dhamma. There will be those who understand the Dhamma! But when six years have passed, you must all come to Bandhumatī to recite the monastic code.’

“Then a certain Great Brahma, knowing what the Buddha Vipassī was thinking, as easily as a strong person would extend or contract their arm, vanished from the Brahmā world and reappeared in front of the Buddha Vipassī. He arranged his robe over one shoulder, knelt on his right knee, raised his joined palms toward the Buddha Vipassī, and said, ‘That’s so true, Blessed One! That’s so true, Compassionate One! The Saṅgha residing at Bandhumatī is now large. Please urge them to wander, as you thought. Bhante, I’ll make sure that when six years have passed, the monks will return to Bandhumatī to recite the monastic code.’

“That’s what that Great Brahma said. Then he bowed and respectfully circled the Buddha Vipassī, keeping him on his right side, before vanishing from there.

“Then in the late afternoon, the Buddha Vipassī came out of meditation and addressed the monks, telling them all that had happened. Then he said,

“‘Wander forth, monks, for the welfare and happiness of the people, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, welfare, and happiness of gods and humans. Let two monks not go on one road. Teach the Dhamma that’s excellent in the beginning, excellent in the middle, and excellent in the end, meaningful and well-phrased. Explain the spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. There are beings with only a few defilements in their minds. They will deteriorate if they don’t get to hear the Dhamma. There will be those who understand the Dhamma! But when six years have passed, you must all come to Bandhumatī to recite the monastic code.’

“Then most of the monks departed to wander the country that very day.

“Now at that time, there were 84,000 monasteries in India. When the first year came to an end, the deities announced, ‘Bhantes, the first year has ended. Now five years remain. When five years have passed, you must all go to Bandhumatī to recite the monastic code.’

“And when the second year … the third year … the fourth year … the fifth year came to an end, the deities announced, ‘Bhantes, the fifth year has ended. Now one year remains. When one year has passed, you must all go to Bandhumatī to recite the monastic code.’

“And when the sixth year came to an end, the deities announced, ‘Bhantes, the sixth year has ended. Now is the time that you must go to Bandhumatī to recite the monastic code.’ Then that very day the monks went to Bandhumatī to recite the monastic code. Some went by their own psychic power, and some by the psychic power of the deities.

“There the Blessed One, Vipassī, the liberated one, the fully enlightened Buddha, recited the monastic code like this,

“‘Patience when you’re insulted is the highest austerity.
Nibbāna is the highest peace, say the Buddhas.
No true monk bothers another,
nor does a venerable hurt another.

“‘Not to do any evil;
to cultivate the good;
to purify one’s mind;
this is the instruction of the Buddhas.

“‘Not speaking ill nor doing harm;
restraint in the monastic code;
moderation in eating;
staying in remote meditation huts;
commitment to the jhāna practice—
this is the instruction of the Buddhas.’

17. Being Informed by Deities

“At one time, monks, I was living in the province of Ukkaṭṭhā, in the Subhaga Forest at the root of a magnificent sal tree. As I was in meditation, this thought came to mind, ‘It’s not easy to find a world where I haven’t lived in for a long time, except for the Suddāvāsa Brahma world. Why don’t I go to see those deities?’

“Then, as easily as a strong person would extend or contract their arm, I vanished from the Subhaga Forest and reappeared with the Aviha deities.

“Monks, in that order of deities, many thousands, many hundreds of thousands of deities approached me, bowed respectfully, stood to one side, and said to me, ‘Bhante, ninety-one eons ago, the Buddha Vipassī arose in the world, liberated and fully enlightened. He was born as a prince into a royal family. Koṇḍañña was his clan. He had a lifespan of 80,000 years. He was enlightened at the root of a Palol tree. He had a fine pair of chief disciples named Khaṇḍa and Tissa. He had three major gatherings of disciples—one of 6,800,000, one of 100,000, and one of 80,000—all of them liberated monks who had destroyed all their defilements. He had a chief attendant monk named Asoka. His father was King Bandhuma, his birth mother was Queen Bandhumatī, and their capital city was named Bandhumatī. And such was his renunciation, such his going forth, such his striving, such his enlightenment, and such his rolling forth of the wheel of Dhamma. Bhante, after practicing the spiritual life under that Buddha Vipassī, we abandoned our desire for worldly pleasures and were reborn here among the Aviha deities.’

“Monks, other deities came and similarly recounted the details of the Buddhas Sikhī, Vessabhū, Kakusandha, Koṇāgamana, and Kassapa.

“Monks, in that order of Aviha deities, many thousands, many hundreds of thousands of deities approached me, bowed respectfully, stood to one side, and said to me, ‘Bhante, in the present fortunate eon, you, the Blessed One, have arisen in the world, liberated and fully enlightened. The Blessed One was born as a prince into a royal family. Gotama is the Blessed One’s clan. The Blessed One’s life-span is short, brief, and fleeting. Even a long-lived person lives for a hundred years or a little more. The Blessed One was enlightened at the root of a Sacred Fig tree. The Blessed One has a fine pair of chief disciples named Sāriputta and Moggallāna. The Blessed One has had one major gathering of disciples—1,250 liberated monks who had destroyed all their defilements. The Blessed One has a chief attendant monk named Ānanda. The Blessed One’s father is King Suddhodana, your birth mother was Queen Māyā, and your capital city is Kapilavatthu. And such was your renunciation, such your going forth, such your striving, such your enlightenment, and such your rolling forth of the wheel of Dhamma. Bhante, after leading the spiritual life under you, we abandoned our desire for worldly pleasures and were reborn here among the Aviha deities.’

“Monks, then together with the Aviha deities, I went to see the Atappa deities… the Sudassa deities … and the Sudassi deities. Then together with all these deities, I went to see the deities of the Akanitta Brahma world, where we had a similar conversation.

“Monks, this is how the Blessed One is able to recollect the castes, names, clans, life-span, chief disciples, and major gatherings of disciples of the Buddhas of the past who became completely extinguished, ended defiled thought processes, ended the path which forms defilements, finished the cycle of rebirth, and overcame suffering. This is so, because I have clearly comprehended the law of Dhamma and also because the deities told me these things.”

That is what the Buddha said. Satisfied, the monks were happy with what the Buddha taught.

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Dīgha Nikāya 14 Mahāpadāna Sutta: Seven Fully Enlightened Buddhas

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