Long Discourses

The Great Chapter

14. The Sublime Story

Thus have I heard. The Exalted One was once staying at Sāvatthī, in Anāthapiṇḍika’s pleasaunce in the Jeta Wood, at the Kareri-tree cottage. Now among many bhikkhus who had returned from their alms-tour and were assembled, sitting together after their meal, in the pavilion in the Kareri grounds, a religious conversation bearing on previous births arose, to the effect that thus and thus were previous births.

And the Exalted One, with clear and Heavenly Ear surpassing the hearing of men, overheard this conversation among the bhikkhus. And arising from his seat he came to the pavilion in the Kareri grounds, and took his seat on the mat spread out for him. And when he had sat down he said to the brethren—‘What is the talk on which you are engaged sitting here, and what is the subject of conversation between you?’ [And they told him all.]

Then he said—‘Do you not wish, brethren, to hear some religious talk on the subject of former lives?’

‘Now is the time, O Exalted One, now is the time, Welcome One, for the Exalted One to give us a religious discourse on the subject of former lives. When the brethren have heard it from the Exalted One they will bear it in mind.’

‘Wherefore then, brethren, hearken well to me, and I will speak.’

‘So be it, lord,’ replied the brethren. And the Exalted One said—

‘It is now ninety-one aeons ago, brethren, since Vipassī, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, arose in the world. It is now thirty-one aeons ago, brethren, since Sikhī, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, arose in the world. It was in that same thirty-first aeon, brethren, that Vessabhū, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, arose in the world. It was in this present auspicious aeon, brethren, that Kakusandha, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, arose in the world. It was in this auspicious aeon, brethren, that Koṇāgamana, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, arose in the world. It was in this auspicious aeon, brethren, that Kassapa, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, arose in the world. It is in this auspicious aeon, brethren, that now I, an Arahant, Buddha Supreme, have arisen in the world.’

[And in like manner the rest of the statements in the following table are given in similar paragraphs.]

Kappa, Aeon Jāti, Social rank Gotta, Family Length of life at that epoch Tree under which he became enlightened Names of chief disciples
1. Vipassī 91st from now Noble Kondañña 80000 Pātali Khaṇḍa & Tissa
2. Sikhī 31st from now do do 70000 Pundarīka Abhibhu & Sambhava
3. Vessabhū do do do 60000 Sāla Sona & Uttara
4. Kakusandha In this aeon Brahmin Kassapa 40000 Sirīsa Vidhūra & Sañjiva
5. Konāgamana do do do 30000 Udambara Bhiyyosa & Uttara
6. Kassapa do do do 20000 Nigrodha Tissa & Bhāradvāja
7. Gotama do Noble Gotama 100 Assattha Sāriputta & Moggallāna
Number of Arahants present at assemblies Name of usual attendant Bhikkhu Father Mother Birth-place
1. Vipassī 68 lacs, 100000, 80000 Asoka Bandhumā Bandhumatī Bandhumatī
2. Sikhī 100000, 80000, 70000 Khemaṅkura Aruna Pabhāvatī Pabhāvatī
3. Vessabhū 80000, 70000, 60000 Upasannaka Suppatīta Yasavatī Anopama
4. Kakusandha 40000 Buddhija Aggidatta Visākhā Khemavatī
5. Konāgamana 30000 Sotthija Yaññadatta Uttara Sobhavatī
6. Kassapa 20000 Sabbamitta Brahmadatta Dhanavatī Bārānasī
7. Gotama 1230 Ānanda Suddhodana Māyā Kapilavatthu

Now not long after he had gone out, this talk arose among the brethren—‘How wonderful a thing, brethren, and how strange is the great genius, the master mind of the Tathāgata, that he should remember the Buddhas of old, who attained final completion, who cut off obstacles, who cut down barriers, who have ended the cycle, who have escaped from all sorrow—that he should remember of these that such was their rank, such were their personal names, such were their family names, such the span of their lives, such their pair of disciples, and such the number of the congregations of their disciples, telling us—“Of such was the birth of those Exalted Ones, such were their names, and their clans; such were their morals, their doctrines, their wisdom; thus did they live, and thus they gained emancipation.” Now, what think you, brother? Has this principle of truth been clearly discerned by the Tathāgata, so that by his discernment of it he remembers [all those facts] about the Buddhas of the past? Or have gods revealed this matter to the Tathāgata, so that thereby he remembers?’

[a] Now such was the trend of the talk that was going on among the brethren when the Exalted One, rousing himself at eventide from meditation, went to the pavilion in the Kareri grounds, and took his seat on the mat spread out for him. And when he had sat down, he said to the brethren—‘What is the talk on which you are engaged, brethren, as ye sit here, and what was the subject of conversation between you?’ [And they told him all.]

‘It is through his clear discernment of a principle of the truth, brethren, that the Tathāgata is able to remember [all those facts about the Buddhas of old]. And gods also have revealed these matters to him, enabling him to remember [all those things]. Do ye not wish, brethren, to hear yet further religious discourse bearing on former lives?’

Now, O Exalted One, is the time, now, O Welcome One, is the time! Whatsoever the Exalted One may tell us further bearing on former lives, the brethren will listen to it and bear it in mind.’

‘Wherefore, brethren, hearken and attend well, and I will speak.’

‘So be it, lord,’ replied the brethren. The Exalted One said—

‘I have told you, brethren, when Vipassī, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, arose in the world, into what rank and family he was born, how long he lived, where he became a Buddha, the names of his leading disciples, the number of his disciples, the name of his ministering bhikkhu, of his father, his mother, and of their place of residence.

‘Now Vipassī, brethren, when, as Bodhisat, he ceased to belong to the hosts of the heaven of Delight, descended into his mother’s womb mindful and self-possessed. That, in such a case, is the rule.

‘It is the rule, brethren, that, when the Bodhisat ceases to belong to the hosts of the heaven of Delight, and enters a mother’s womb, there is made manifest throughout the universe—including the worlds above of the gods, the Maras and the Brahmas, and the world below with its recluses and brahmins, its princes and peoples—an infinite and splendid radiance, passing the glory of the gods. Even in those spaces which are between the worlds, baseless, murky and dark, and where even moon and sun, so wondrous and mighty, cannot prevail to give light, even there is made manifest this infinite and splendid radiance, passing the glory of the gods. And those beings who happen to be existing there, perceiving each other by that radiance, say—“Verily there be other beings living here!” And the ten thousand worlds of the universe tremble and shudder and quake. And that this infinite splendid radiance is made manifest in the world, passing the glory of the gods—that, in such a case, is the rule.

‘It is the rule, brethren, that, when the Bodhisat is descending into a mother’s womb, four sons of the gods go toward the four quarters to protect him, saying—“Let no one, be he human, or non-human, or whatsoever he be, work harm to the Bodhisat or to the mother of the Bodhisat!” That, in such a case, is the rule.

‘It is the rule, brethren, that, when the Bodhisat is descending into a mother’s womb, the mother of the Bodhisat is a woman virtuous through her own nature—averse from taking life, averse from taking what is not given, averse from unchastity, averse from lying speech, averse from indulgence in strong drinks. That, in such a case, is the rule.

‘It is the rule, brethren, that, when the Bodhisat is descending into a mother’s womb, that mother has no mind for indulgence in the pleasures of sense with men, and is incapable of transgression with any man whatever who may be enamoured of her. That, in such a case, is the rule.

‘It is the rule, brethren, that, when the Bodhisat is descending into a mother’s womb, that mother is living in the enjoyment yielded by the five senses, is addicted to it, possessed of it, surrounded by it. That, in such a case, is the rule.

‘It is the rule, brethren, that, when the Bodhisat is descending into a mother’s womb, no ailment whatsoever befalls that mother; at ease is she and un-afflicted in body; and within her womb she sees the Bodhisat complete in the endowment of all his organs and his limbs. Just as if, brethren, there were a beautiful cat’s-eye gem, of purest water, octangular, cut with supreme skill, translucent and flawless, excellent in every way. And through it were strung a thread, blue or orange, red, white, or yellow. If a man who had eyes to see were to take it into his hand, he would clearly perceive how the one was strung on the other. Even so, brethren, when the Bodhisat is descending into a mother’s womb, no ailment whatever befalls that mother; at ease is she and unaffected in body; and within her womb she sees the Bodhisat complete in the endowment of all his organs and his limbs. That, in such a case, is the rule.

‘It is the rule, brethren, that, on the seventh day after the birth of a Bodhisat, the mother of the Bodhisat dies, and rises again in the heaven of Delight. That, in such a case, is the rule.

‘It is the rule, brethren, that, whereas other women bring forth after bearing either nine or ten months, the mother of a Bodhisat brings not forth till she has borne the child ten months. That, in such a case, is the rule.

‘It is the rule, brethren, that, whereas other women bring forth sitting or reclining, the mother of a Bodhisat brings forth not so, but standing. That, in such a case, is the rule.’

‘It is the rule, brethren, that, when a Bodhisat issues from his mother’s womb, gods receive him first, afterwards men. That, in such a case, is the rule.

‘It is the rule, brethren, that, when a Bodhisat issues from his mother’s womb, and has not yet touched the earth, for four sons of the gods to receive him, and present him to the mother, saying—“Rejoice, lady, for Mighty is the son that is born to thee!” That, in such a case, is the rule.

‘It is the rule, brethren, that, when a Bodhisat issues from his mother’s womb, he comes forth stainless, undefiled by watery matter, undefiled by mucus, undefiled by blood, undefiled by any uncleanness whatever, pure, spotless. Just as if, brethren, a jewel were laid down on Benares muslin; the jewel is not stained by the muslin, nor is the muslin stained by it; and why is that? Because of the purity of both. Even so, brethren, is it at the birth of a Bodhisat. That, in such a case, is the rule.

‘It is the rule, brethren, that, when a Bodhisat issues from his mother’s womb, two showers of water appear from the sky, one of cold, the other of warm water, wherewith they do the needful bathing of the Bodhisat and of his mother. That, in such a case, is the rule.

‘It is the rule, brethren, that, when a Bodhisat has come to birth, he stands firm on both feet and, with his face to the north, takes seven strides, the while a white canopy is held over him and, looking around on every side, he utters as with the voice of a bull—“Chief am I in the world, Eldest am I in the world, Foremost am I in the world! This is the last birth! There is now no more coming to be!” That, in such a case, is the rule.

‘It is the rule, brethren, that, when a Bodhisat issues from his mother’s womb, there is made manifest throughout the universe—including the worlds above of the gods, the Maras and the Brahmas, and the world below with its recluses and brahmins, its princes and peoples—an infinite and splendid radiance passing the glory of the gods. Even in those spaces which are between the worlds, baseless, murky and dark, and where even moon and sun, so wondrous and mighty, cannot prevail to give light, even there is manifest this infinite and splendid radiance, passing the glory of the gods. And those beings who happen to be existing there, perceiving each other by that radiance, say—“Verily there be other beings living here!”: And the ten thousand worlds of the universe tremble and shudder and quake. And this infinite and splendid radiance is made manifest in the world, passing the glory of the gods. This, in such a case, is the rule.’

‘When the boy Vipassī, brethren, was born, they brought word to Bandhuman the raja saying—“A son, my lord, is born to you! May it please you to see him?” Now when Bandhuman the raja had seen the babe, he sent for the brahmin soothsayers, saying—“Let the reverend brahmin soothsayers see the child.” Then, brethren, when the brahmin soothsayers had seen the child, they said to Bandhuman the raja—“Rejoice, lord, for one of the Mighty Ones is born thy son! Fortune is thine, my lord, good fortune is thine, in that in thy family such a son has come to birth! For this babe, my lord, is endowed with the thirty-two marks of the Great Man; and to one so endowed two careers lie open, and none other. If he live the life of the House, he becomes Lord of the Wheel, a righteous Lord of the Right, ruler of the four quarters, conqueror, guardian of the people’s good, owner of the Seven Treasures. His do those seven treasures become, to wit, the Wheel treasure, the Elephant treasure, the Horse treasure, the Gem treasure, the Woman treasure, the Steward treasure, the Eldest Son treasure making seven. More than a thousand sons will be his, heroes, vigorous of frame, crushers of the hosts of the enemy. He, when he has conquered this earth to its ocean bounds, is established not by the scourge, not by the sword, but by righteousness. But if such a boy go forth from the life of the House into the Homeless state, he becomes an Arahant, a Buddha Supreme, rolling back the veil from the world.

‘“And what, my lord, are the thirty-two marks of the Great Man, wherewith endowed, this child hath two careers open to him, and only two—that of the Lord of the Wheel … that of Buddha Supreme?

‘“This babe, my lord, has feet with level tread. That this is so counts to him as one of the marks of a Great Man.

“‘On the soles of the babe’s feet wheels appear with a thousand spokes, with tyre and hub, in every way complete. That this is so counts to him as one of the marks of a Great Man.

‘“This babe has projecting heels, he is long in the fingers and long in the toes, soft and tender in hands and feet, with hands and feet like a net.

His ankles are like rounded shells;

His legs are like an antelope’s.

Standing and without bending he can touch and rub his knees with either hand.

His male organs are concealed in a sheath.

His complexion is like bronze, the colour of gold.

His skin is so delicately smooth that no dust cleaves to his body.

The down on it grows in single hairs, one to each pore. The small hairs on his body turn upward, every hair of it, blue-black in colour like eye-paint, in little curling rings, curling to the right.

‘“This babe has a frame divinely straight.

He has the seven convex surfaces.

The front half of his body is like a lion’s.

There is no furrow between his shoulders.

His proportions have the symmetry of the banyan-tree—the length of his body is equal to the compass of his arms, and the compass of his arms is equal to his height.

His bust is equally rounded.

His taste is supremely acute.

His jaw is as a lion’s.

He has forty teeth, regular teeth, continuous, the eye-teeth very lustrous. His tongue is very long.

He has a divine voice like the karavika-bird’s.

His eyes are intensely blue, he has the eyelashes of a cow.

Between the eyebrows appears a hairy mole, white and like soft cotton down.

His head is like a royal turban.

This too counts to him as one of the marks of a Great Man.

‘“Endowed, my lord, as is this babe with these two-and-thirty marks of the Great Man, two careers and none other are open to him …” [as above, 31] …

‘Thereupon Bandhuman the raja, brethren, let the brahmin soothsayers be invested with new robes and gratified their every desire.

‘And Bandhuman the raja, brethren, engaged nurses for the babe Vipassī. Some suckled him, some washed him, some nursed him, some carried him about on their hip. And a white canopy was held over him day and night, for it was commanded—“Let not cold or heat or straws or dust or dew annoy him!” And the boy Vipassī, brethren, became the darling and the beloved of the people, even as a blue or red or white lotus is dear to and beloved of all, so that he was literally carried about from lap to lap.

‘And when the boy Vipassī was born, brethren, he had a lovely voice, well-modulated and sweet and charming, just as the voice of the karavika-bird in the mountains of Himalaya is lovely and sweetly modulated and charming l.

‘And when the boy Vipassī was born, brethren, there was manifested in him the Heavenly Eye born of the result of his karma, by the which verily he could see as far as a league by day and eke by night.

‘And when the boy Vipassī was born, brethren, he looked forward with unblinking eyes, like the gods in the heaven of Delight. Now it was because of this, people exclaiming “Vipassī, Vipassī”—“a Seer, a Seer!”—that this became his name. And again, brethren, while Bandhuman raja was sitting as judge, he would take the boy on his hip and so lay down the law as to the cases arising till verily the boy, thus seated on his father’s hip, and continually considering, would also determine the points of the matter according to justice. Then at the thought “It is the babe who is judging cases aright” ever more and more did that word “a Seer, a Seer!” become used as his name.

‘Now Bandhuman raja, brethren, had three palaces built for the boy Vipassī, one for the rains, one for the winter and one for the summer, and he had them fitted with every kind of gratification for the five senses. Thus it came to pass that Vipassī spent the four months of the rainy season in the rains-palace, ministered to by bands of female musicians l; and not once did he come down (from the upper terrace) into the mansion.’

Here endeth the Birth chapter.

Chapter 2

‘Now the young lord Vipassī, brethren, when many years, many centuries, many thousands of years had passed by, bade his charioteer make ready the state carriages, saying—“Get ready the carriages, good charioteer, and let us go through the park to inspect the pleasaunce.” “Yea, my lord,” replied the charioteer, and harnessed the state carriages and sent word to Vipassī—“The carriages are ready, my lord; do now what you deem to be fit.” Then Vipassī mounted a state carriage, and drove out in state into the park.

‘Now the young lord Vipassī saw, brethren, as he was driving to the park, an aged man as bent as a roof gable, decrepit, leaning on a staff, tottering as he walked, afflicted and long past his prime. And seeing him Vipassī said—“That man, good charioteer, what has he done, that his hair is not like that of other men, nor his body?”

‘“He is what is called an aged man, my lord.”

‘“But why is he called aged?”

“He is called aged, my lord, because he has not much longer to live.”

“Why then, good charioteer, enough of the park for to-day! Drive me back hence to my rooms.”

‘Thereupon Bandhuman raja, brethren, sent for the charioteer and asked him—“Well, good charioteer, did the boy take pleasure in the park? Was he pleased with it?”

‘“No, my lord, he was not.”

‘“What then did he see on his drive?”

‘[And the charioteer told the raja all.]

‘Then the raja, brethren, thought thus—“We must not have Vipassī declining to rule. We must not have him going forth from the House into the Homeless state. We must not let what the brahmin soothsayers spoke of come true.”

‘So, that these things might not come to pass, he let the youth be still more surrounded by sensuous pleasures. And thus Vipassī continued to live amidst the pleasures of sense.

‘Now after many years, many centuries, many thousands of years had passed by, the young lord Vipassī, brethren, again bade his charioteer make ready, and drove forth as once before.

‘And Vipassī, brethren, saw as he was driving to the park, a sick man, suffering and very ill, fallen and weltering in his own water, by some being lifted up, by others being dressed. Seeing this, Vipassī asked, “That man, good charioteer, what has he done that his eyes are not like others’ eyes, nor his voice like the voice of other men?”

‘“He is what is called ill, my lord.”

‘“But what is meant by ‘ill’?”

‘“It means, my lord, that he will hardly recover from his illness.”

‘“But am I too then, good charioteer, subject to fall ill; have not I got out of reach of illness?”

‘“You, my lord, and we too, we all are subject to fall ill, we have not got beyond the reach of illness.”

‘“Why then, good charioteer, enough of the park for to-day! Drive me back hence to my rooms.” “Yea, my lord,” answered the charioteer, and drove him back. And he, brethren, going to his rooms sat brooding sorrowful and depressed, thinking—“Shame then verily be upon this thing called birth, since to one born decay shows itself like that, disease shows itself like that.”

‘Thereupon Bandhuman raja, brethren, sent for the charioteer and asked him—“Well, good charioteer, did the young lord take pleasure in the park and was he pleased with it?”

‘“No, my lord, he was not.”

‘“What did he see then on his drive?”

‘[And the charioteer told the raja all.]

‘Then the raja, brethren, thought thus—“We must not have Vipassī declining to rule; we must not have him going forth from the House to the Homeless state; we must not let what the brahmin soothsayers spoke of come true.”

‘So, that these things might not come to pass, he let the young man be still more abundantly surrounded by sensuous pleasures. And thus Vipassī continued to live amidst the pleasures of sense.

‘Now once again after many years … the young lord Vipassī … drove forth.

‘And he saw, brethren, as he was driving to the park, a great concourse of people clad in garments of different colours constructing a funeral pyre. And seeing them he asked his charioteer—“Why now are all those people come together in garments of different colours, and making that pile?”

‘“It is because someone, my lord, has ended his days.”

“Then drive the carriage close to him who has ended his days.”

‘“Yea, my lord,” answered the charioteer, and did so. And Vipassī saw the corpse of him who had ended his days and asked—“What, good charioteer, is ending one’s days?”

‘“But am I too then subject to death, have I not got beyond the reach of death? Will neither the raja, nor the rajanee, nor any other of my kin see me more, or I ever again see them?”

‘“You, my lord and we too, we all are subject to death, we have not passed beyond the reach of death. Neither the raja, nor the rajanee, nor any other of your kin would see you any more, nor would you ever again see them.”

‘“Why then, good charioteer, enough of the park for to-day! Drive me back hence to my rooms.”

‘“Yea, my lord,” replied the charioteer, and drove him back.

‘And he, brethren, going to his rooms, sat brooding sorrowful and depressed, thinking—“Shame then verily be upon this thing called birth, since to one born the decay of life, since disease, since death shows itself like that!”

‘Thereupon Bandhuman raja, brethren, [questioned the charioteer as before , and as before let Vipassī be still more surrounded by sensuous enjoyments]. And thus Vipassī continued to live amidst the pleasures of sense.

‘Now once again after many years … the lord Vipassī … drove forth.

‘And he saw, brethren, as he was driving to the park, a shaven-headed man, a Wanderer, wearing the yellow robe. And seeing him he asked the charioteer—“That man, good charioteer, what has he done, that his head is unlike other men’s heads and his clothes too are unlike those of others?”

‘“That is what they call a Wanderer, because, my lord, he is one who has gone forth.”

‘“What is that, to have gone forth?”

“To have gone forth, my lord, means being thorough in the religious life, thorough in the peaceful life, thorough in good actions, thorough in meritorious conduct, thorough in harmlessness, thorough in kindness to all creatures.”

‘“Excellent indeed, friend charioteer, is what they call a Wanderer, since so thorough is his conduct in all those respects. Wherefore drive up to that forth-gone man.”

‘“Yea, my lord,” replied the charioteer, and drove up to the Wanderer. Then Vipassī addressed him, saying—“You, master, what have you done that your head is not as other men’s heads, nor your clothes as those of other men?”

‘“I, my lord, am one who has gone forth.”

‘“What, master, does that mean?”

‘“It means, my lord, being thorough in the religious life, thorough in the peaceful life, thorough in good actions, thorough in meritorious conduct, thorough in harmlessness, thorough in kindness to all creatures.”

‘“Excellently indeed, master, are you said to have gone forth, since so thorough is your conduct in all those respects.”

‘Then the lord Vipassī, brethren, bade his charioteer, saying—“Come then, good charioteer, do you take the carriage and drive it hence back to my rooms. But I will even here cut off my hair, and don the yellow robe, and go forth from the House into the Homeless state.”

‘“Yea, my lord,” replied the charioteer, and drove back. But the lord Vipassī, there and then, cutting off his hair and donning the yellow robe, went forth from the House into the Homeless state.

‘Now at Bandhumati, brethren, the raja’s seat, a great number of persons—some eighty-four thousand souls—heard of what lord Vipassī had done, and thought—“Surely this is no ordinary religious rule, this is no common going forth, in that the lord Vipassī himself has had his head shaved and has donned the yellow robe and has gone forth from the House into the Homeless state. If the lord Vipassī has done this, why then should not we also?” And they all had their heads shaved, and donned the yellow robes, and in imitation of Vipassī the Bodhisat they went forth from the House into the Homeless state. So Vipassī the Bodhisat went on his rounds through the villages, towns, and cities accompanied by that multitude.

‘Now there arose, brethren, in the mind of Vipassī the Bodhisat, when he was meditating in seclusion, the following consideration—“That indeed is not suitable for me that I should live beset. ’Twere better were I to dwell alone, far from the crowd!”

‘So after a time he dwelt alone, away from the crowd. These eighty-four thousand Wanderers went one way, and Vipassī the Bodhisat went another way.

‘Now there arose, brethren, in the mind of Vipassī the Bodhisat, when he had gone to his place, and was meditating in seclusion, the following consideration—“Verily this world has fallen upon trouble; one is born, and grows old, and dies, and falls from one state, and springs up in another.”

‘“And from this suffering, moreover, no one knows of any way of escape, even from decay and death. O when shall a way of escape from this suffering be made known, from decay and from death?”

‘Then to Vipassī the Bodhisat, brethren, this occurred—“What now being present, is birth also present; what conditions birth?” Then, brethren, from attention to the cause arose the conviction through reason—“When becoming is, birth also is present; becoming is the condition of birth.”

‘Then to Vipassī the Bodhisat, brethren, this occurred—“What now being present, is becoming also present; what conditions becoming? “Then, brethren, from attention to the cause arose the conviction through reason—“Where grasping is, there is becoming; grasping is the condition of becoming.”

‘Then to Vipassī the Bodhisat, brethren, this occurred—“What now being present, is grasping also present; what conditions grasping? “Then, brethren, from attention to the cause arose the conviction through reason—“Where craving is, there is grasping; craving is the condition of grasping.”

‘Then to Vipassī the Bodhisat, brethren, this occurred—“What now being present, is craving also present; what conditions craving?” Then, brethren, from attention to the cause arose the conviction through reason—“Where feeling is, there is craving; feeling is the condition of craving.”

‘Then to Vipassī the Bodhisat, brethren, this occurred—“What now being present, is feeling also present; what conditions feeling? “Then, brethren, from attention to the cause arose the conviction through reason—“Where contact is, there is feeling; contact is the condition of feeling.”

‘Then to Vipassī the Bodhisat, brethren, this occurred—“What now being present, is the sixfold field also present; what conditions the sixfold field? “Then, brethren, from attention to the cause arose the conviction through reason—“Where name-and-form is, there is the sixfold field; name-and-form is the condition of the sixfold field.”

‘Then to Vipassī the Bodhisat, brethren, this occurred—“What now being present, is name-and-form also present; what conditions name-and-form?”

Then, brethren, from attention to the cause arose the conviction through reason—“Where cognition is there is name-and-form; cognition is the condition of name-and-form.”

‘Then to Vipassī the Bodhisat, brethren, this occurred—“What now being present, is cognition also present; what conditions cognition?’ Then, brethren, from attention to the cause arose the conviction through reason—“Where name-and-form is, there is cognition; name-and-form conditions cognition.”

‘Then to Vipassī the Bodhisat, brethren, this occurred—“Cognition turns back from name-and-form; it goes not beyond. Only as follows can one be born or stow old or die or fall from one condition or reappear in another; that is, in that cognition is conditioned by name-and-form, and name-and-form by cognition, the sixfold field by name-and-form, contact by the sixfold field, feeling by contact, craving by feeling, grasping by craving, becoming by grasping, birth by becoming, decay and dying by birth, and so too grief, lamentation, ill, sorrow and despair come to pass. Such is the coming to be of this entire body of Ill.”

‘“Coming to be, coming to be!”—at that thought, brethren, there arose to Vipassī the Bodhisat a vision into things not called before to mind, and knowledge arose, reason arose, wisdom arose, light arose.

‘Then to Vipassī the Bodhisat, brethren, this occurred—“What now being absent, is decay and dying also absent; by the ceasing of what does decay and dying cease?” Then, brethren, from attention to the cause arose the conviction through reason—“Where birth is absent, decay and dying are absent; when birth ceases, decay and dying cease … Where becoming is absent, birth is absent; when becoming-ceases, birth ceases … Where grasping is absent, becoming is absent; when grasping ceases, becoming ceases … Where craving is absent, grasping is absent; when craving ceases, grasping ceases … Where feeling is absent, craving is absent; when feeling ceases, craving ceases … Where contact is absent, feeling is absent; when contact ceases, feeling ceases … Where the sixfold field is absent, contact is absent; when the sixfold field ceases, contact ceases … Where name-and-form is absent, the sixfold field is absent; when name-and-form ceases, the sixfold field ceases … Where cognition is absent, name-and-form is absent; when cognition ceases, name-and-form ceases … Where name-and-form is absent, cognition is absent; when name-and-form ceases, cognition ceases.”

‘Then to Vipassī the Bodhisat, brethren, this occurred—“Lo! I have won to this, the Way to enlightenment through insight. And it is this, that from name-and-form ceasing, cognition ceases, and conversely; that from name-and-form ceasing, the sixfold field ceases; from the sixfold field ceasing, contact ceases; from contact ceasing, feeling ceases; from feeling ceasing, craving ceases; from craving ceasing, grasping ceases; from grasping ceasing, becoming ceases; from becoming ceasing, birth ceases; from birth ceasing, decay and dying, grief, lamentation, ill, sorrow and despair cease. Such is the ceasing of this entire body of Ill.”

; Thereafter, brethren, Vipassī the Bodhisat dwelt in the discernment of the rising and passing away of the five groups [of individual life] depending on grasping—“Such is form, such is the coming to be of form, such is its passing away; such is feeling, such is the coming to be of feeling, such is its passing away; such is perception, such is its coming to be, such is its passing away; such are the syntheses, such is their coming to be, such is their passing away; such is cognition, such is its coming to be, such is its passing away.”

‘And for him, abiding in the discernment of the rising and passing away of the five groups depending on grasping, not long was it before his heart, void of grasping, was set free from the “Intoxicants.”

Here endeth the Second Portion for recitation.

Chapter 3

‘Then to Vipassī the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, brethren, this occurred—“What if I were now to teach the Truth.”

‘Then to him, brethren, this occurred—“I have penetrated this Truth, deep, hard to perceive, hard to understand, calm, sublime, no mere dialectic, subtle, intelligible only to the wise. But this is a race devoting itself to the things to which it clings, devoted thereto, delighting therein. And for a race devoting itself to the things to which it clings, devoted thereto, delighting therein, this were a matter hard to perceive, to wit, that this is conditioned by that, and all that happens is by way of cause. This too were a matter hard to discern—the tranquillization of all the activities of life, the renunciation of all substrata of rebirth, the destruction of craving, the death of passion, quietude of heart, Nirvana. And if I were now to teach the Truth, and other men did not acknowledge it to me, that would be wearisome to me, that would be hurtful to me.”

‘And then verily, brethren, to Vipassī the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme were revealed on the spur of the moment these verses unheard of before—

“This that through many toils I’ve won—
Enough! Why should I make it known?
By folk with lust and hate consumed
Not this the Truth that can be grasped!
Against the stream of common thought,
Deep, subtle, difficult, delicate,
Unseen ’twill be by passion’s slaves
Cloaked in the murk of ignorance.”

‘In these words, brethren, pondering over the matter, did the heart of Vipassī incline to be averse from exertion and not to preach the Truth. Thereupon to one of the Great Brahmas, when he became aware in thought of the thoughts of Vipassī, this occurred—“Alas, the world will perish! Utterly alas, will the world perish, now that the heart of Vipassī the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, inclines to be averse from exertion and not towards preaching the Truth!”

‘Then, brethren, did that Great Brahma, like a strong man stretching” his bent arm out, or drawing-back his outstretched arm, vanish from the Brahma world and appear before Vipassī. And the Great Brahma, brethren, draping his outer robe over one shoulder and stooping his right knee to the ground, raised his joined hands towards Vipassī the Exalted One, the Arahant, the Buddha Supreme and said—“Lord! May the Exalted One preach the Truth! May the Welcome One preach the Truth! There are beings whose eyes are hardly dimmed by dust, they are perishing from not hearing the Truth; they will come to be knowers of the Truth.”

‘At these words, brethren, Vipassī the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, spoke thus to the Great Brahma—“To me too, O Brahma, did it occur—‘What if I now were to preach the Truth? But I judged that the world was not fit for it, would not acknowledge it; and that that would be wearisome for me, hurtful for me’ … And so, O Brahma, pondering over the matter, my heart inclined to be averse from exertion, and not towards preaching the Truth.”

‘But this Great Brahma, brethren, addressed Vipassī a second time …

‘… and again a third time, saying—“Lord! Let the Exalted One preach the Truth! Let the Welcome One preach the Truth! There are beings whose eyes are but hardly dimmed with dust; they are perishing from not hearing the Truth; they will come to be knowers of the Truth!”

‘Then, brethren, when Vipassī the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, became aware of the entreaty of the Brahma, because of his pitifulness towards all beings, he looked down over the world with a Buddha’s Eye. And so looking, brethren, he saw beings whose eyes were nearly free from dust, and beings whose eyes were much dimmed with dust, beings sharp of sense and blunted in sense, beings of good and of evil disposition, beings docile and indocile, some among them discerning the danger in rebirth and in other worlds, and the danger in wrong doing. As in a pond of blue, or red, or white lotuses, some lotus-plants born in the water grow up in the water, do not emerge from the water, but thrive sunken beneath; and other lotus-plants, born in the water and grown up in the water, reach to the level; while other lotus-plants born in the water and grown up in the water, stand thrusting themselves above the water, undrenched by it; even so, brethren, did Vipassī the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, look down over the world with a Buddha’s Eye, and see beings whose eyes were nearly free from dust, and beings whose eyes were dim with dust, beings sharp of sense and blunted in sense, beings of good and of evil disposition, beings docile and indocile, and some among them discerning the danger in rebirth in other worlds, and the danger in wrong doing.

‘Thereupon that Great Brahma, brethren, when he became aware in thought of the thoughts of Vipassī, spoke to him in verse—

“As on a crag, on crest of mountain standing,
A man might watch the people far below,
E’en so do thou, O Wisdom fair, ascending,
O Seer of all, the terraced heights of Truth,
Look down, from grief released,
upon the nations Sunken in grief,
oppressed with birth and age.
Arise, thou Hero! Conqueror in the battle!
Thou freed from debt! Lord of the pilgrim band!
Walk the world o’er, sublime and blessed Teacher!
Teach us the Truth; there are who’ll understand.”

“Wide opened are the portals to Nirvana!
Let those that hear renounce their empty faith!
Despairing of the weary task, O Brahma,
spake not of this doctrine, sweet and good, to men.”

‘Then, brethren, that Great Brahma thinking—“Verily I am the one by whom an opening has been given for the preaching of the Truth by Vipassī the Exalted One, the Arahant, the Buddha Supreme,” bowed down before Vipassī, and passing round him by the left vanished away.

‘Then to Vipassī, brethren, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, this occurred—“To whom now should I first preach the Truth? Who will quickly understand this doctrine?” And he thought—“There is Khaṇḍa, the raja’s son, and Tissa, the chaplain’s son, both dwelling at Bandhumati. They are learned, open-minded and wise, and for long have had but little dust in their eyes. If I were now to teach the Truth first to them, they would quickly understand it.” Thereupon, brethren, did Vipassī, like a strong man stretching his bent arm out, or drawing back his outstretched arm, vanish from the Wisdom Tree and appear in the Sanctuary, in the deer-park at Bandhumati.

‘And Vipassī, brethren, bade the park-keeper, saying—“Ho you, good park-keeper, go into Bandhumati and tell Khaṇḍa the raja’s son, and Tissa the chaplain’s son, that Vipassī, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, has arrived at Bandhumati and abides in the Khema deer-park. He wishes to see you.” “Ay, my lord,” replied the park-keeper, and went to Bandhumati and gave this message to Khaṇḍa and Tissa.

‘Then they, ordering out their state carriages, mounted, and drove out from Bandhumati to the deer-park. As far as there was a road they drove, and then alighting went on foot into the presence of Vipassī. And being come they saluted Vipassī, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, and seated themselves beside him.

‘To them Vipassī discoursed in due order; that is to say, he gave them illustrative talk on generosity, on right conduct, on heaven, on the danger, the vanity and the defilement of lusts, on the advantages of renunciation. When the Exalted One saw that they had become prepared, softened, unprejudiced, upraised and believing in heart, then he proclaimed that Truth which the Buddhas alone have won; that is to say, the doctrine of Sorrow, of its origin, of its cessation, and the Path. And just as a clean cloth, from which all stain has been washed away, will readily take the dye, just even so did Khaṇḍa and Tissa obtain, even while sitting there, the pure and stainless Eye for the Truth, and they knew—“Whatsoever has a beginning, in that is also inherent the necessity of passing away.”

‘Then they having seen the Truth, won the Truth, understood the Truth, sounded the depths of Truth, having crossed the waters of doubt and put away perplexity, having gained full confidence and become dependent on none other for the teaching of the Master, addressed Vipassī, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, and said—as if a man were to set up that which has been thrown down, or were to reveal that which has been hidden away, or were to point out the right road to him who has gone astray, or were to bring a light into the darkness so that those who had eyes could see external forms—even so has the truth been made known in many a figure by the Exalted One. We here, lord, betake ourselves to the Exalted One as our guide, and to the Truth. May we be suffered to go forth from the world under the Exalted One, may we be suffered to obtain ordination.”

‘And so, brethren, Khaṇḍa the raja’s son and Tissa the chaplain’s son obtained retreat and ordination under Vipassī, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme. Them did Vipassī instruct, arouse, incite and gladden with religious discourse, making clear the danger, the vanity and the corruption of component things, and the advantage in Nirvana. And they thus instructed, aroused, incited and gladdened by his discourse, their hearts ere long, being void of grasping, were set free from the Intoxicants.

‘Now a great multitude, brethren, of the inhabitants of Bandhumati—some 84,000 souls—heard that Vipassī, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, had come to Bandhumati and was staying at the Sanctuary (Khema), in the deer-preserve; and how Khaṇḍa the raja’s son and Tissa the chaplain’s son, had actually at his instigation shaved their heads and put on the yellow robe, and had gone forth from the House into the Homeless state. And hearing it they thought—“Surely this is no ordinary religious rule, this is no common going forth, in that the raja’s son and the chaplain’s son have had their heads shaved, have donned the yellow robe and gone forth from the House into the Homeless state. Khaṇḍa and Tissa have indeed done this; why then should not we?”

‘So all that multitude came out from Bandhumati to see Vipassī, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, and when they were in his presence they saluted him and sat down by him.

‘And to them Vipassī discoursed, even as he had discoursed to Khaṇḍa and Tissa….

‘And they too as those … who have gained full confidence and become dependent on none other for the teaching of the Master, addressed Vipassī even as Khaṇḍa and Tissa had done, asking that they might obtain ordination.

‘And so, brethren, those 84,000 souls obtained retreat and ordination under Vipassī the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme. Them did Vipassī instruct, arouse, incite and gladden with religious discourse, making clear the danger, the vanity and the corruption of component things, and the advantages in Nirvana. They thus instructed, aroused, incited and gladdened by his discourse, their hearts ere long, being void of grasping, were set free from the Intoxicants.

‘Now a great multitude, brethren, of recluses—some 84,000—heard from the former multitude of Vipassī’s visitation. And they, too, went out from Bandhumati to see him.

‘And to them did Vipassī likewise discourse, and it happened even so with them.

‘… and their hearts too ere long were set free from the Intoxicants.

‘Now at that time, brethren, a vast company of bhikkhus was staying at Bandhumati. And to Vipassī the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, as he meditated in solitude, this idea arose in his mind—“There is now a vast company of bhikkhus dwelling at Bandhumati. What if I were now to grant leave to the bhikkhus and say—‘Fare ye forth, brethren, on the mission that is for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, to take compassion on the world, to work profit and good and happiness to gods and men. Go not singly; go in pairs; teach ye, brethren, the Truth, lovely in its origin, lovely in its progress, lovely in its consummation, both in the spirit and in the letter, proclaim ye the higher life in all its fullness and in all its purity. Beings there are whose eyes are hardly dimmed with dust, perishing because they hear not the Truth. Moreover after every six years have passed come ye to Bandhumati, the royal residence, there to recite the summary of the Rules of the Order.”

‘Now one of the Great Brahmas, brethren, when he became aware in thought of the thoughts of Vipassī, like a strong man stretching his bent arm out, or drawing back his outstretched arm, vanished from the Brahma-world and appeared in the presence of Vipassī the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme. Then, draping his outer robe over one shoulder, he raised his joined hands towards the Exalted One, saying—“Even so, O Exalted One! Even so, O Welcome One! Let the Exalted One thus grant leave to this great company of bhikkhus, as he has a mind to do … Moreover we too, lord, will do even as the bhikkhus after every six years have passed; we will come to Bandhumati there to recite the Patimokkha.”

‘Then Vipassī, brethren, arose towards eventide from his meditations and told the bhikkhus [of what he had deliberated and of the visitation of the Great Brahma].

‘“I grant ye leave, brethren! Fare ye forth on the mission that is for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, to take compassion on the world and to work profit and good and happiness to gods and men. Go not singly but in pairs; teach ye, brethren, the Truth, lovely in its origin, lovely in its progress, lovely in its consummation, both in the spirit and in the letter; proclaim ye the higher life in all its fullness and in all its purity. Beings there are whose eyes are hardly dimmed with dust, perishing because they hear not the Truth; they will become knowers of the Truth. Moreover, brethren, after every six years have passed come ye to Bandhumati, there to recite the Patimokkha.”

‘Then those bhikkhus, brethren, for the most part on that very day, set forth on their mission among the people.

‘Now at that time, brethren, there was a very great number of religious dwellings in Jambudīpa—some 84,000". As one year was drawing to a close the angels proclaimed the news—“Ho, friends! One year is ending; now five years remain. At the end of five years we have to go to Bandhumati to recite the Patimokkha.”

‘And [this they did at the close of each remaining year, proclaiming] at the end of the sixth year—“Ho, friends! The six years are at an end. Now is the time for us to go to Bandhumati to recite the Patimokkha.” Then, brethren, those bhikkhus, some by their own magic power, some by the magic power of the gods, on that very day came to Bandhumati to recite the Patimokkha.

‘Then verily, brethren, did Vipassī, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, thus rehearse a Patimokkha—

“How may ye best the flesh subdue?
Be patient, brethren, be forbearing.
What is the highest, what the best?
Nirvana, brethren, say the Buddhas.
For he’s no Wanderer who harms
His fellow man; he’s no recluse
Who works his neighbour injury.
Work ye no evil; give yourselves to good;
Cleanse ye your hearts—so runs the Buddhas’ word.
Blame not, strike not, restrain self in the Law,
With temperance eat, lonely seek rest and sleep,
Given to thoughts sublime—so runs the Buddhas’ word’.”

‘At one time I, brethren, was dwelling at Ukkaṭṭha, in the Delectable Wood, beneath a giant sal tree. Now to me as I meditated in solitude this idea arose in my mind—“There is but one abode of beings easily accessible that I have not dwelt in for a very long time, and that is among the gods of the Pure Mansions. What if I were now to repair thither? Then, brethren, as a strong man stretching his bent arm out, or drawing back his outstretched arm, so did I vanish from beneath the giant sal tree in the Delectable Wood at Ukkaṭṭha and appear among the gods of the Aviha heaven. In that group of gods, brethren, several thousands of them came up to me, and saluting me, stood by and spake thus—

“Friend, it is now ninety-one aeons since Vipassī the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, arose in the world. Vipassī, friend, was of the noble class and was born in a noble family. Vipassī, friend, was by family a Koṇḍañña…. The span of life in his time, friend, was 80, years. He attained enlightenment, friend, under a trumpet-flower tree. His chief disciples, friend, were a pair named Khaṇḍa and Tissa. He had, friend, three companies of disciples, sixty-eight lacs, one lac, and eighty thousand in number. His special attendant, friend, was named Asoka. His father was the raja Bandhuman, whose queen, Bandhumati, was his mother, and whose seat was the town of Bandhumati. His leaving the world, his becoming a recluse, his travail, his enlightenment, his setting the Wheel of Truth a-rolling, were each on such and such wise. And we being of those who have lived the holy life under Vipassī our Exalted One, and purged the lusts of the flesh, have been reborn here.”

‘And again, brethren, in that group of gods, several thousands of them …. And again, brethren, several hundreds of them came up to me, and saluted, and stood on one side, and said—“Friend! In this fortunate aeon the Exalted One has now arisen in the world as an Arahant, Buddha Supreme. The Exalted One, friend, is of noble birth, born in a clan of nobles, in a family with Gotama for surname. Small, friend, is the span of life in the Exalted One’s time, brief and soon past; he who is long-lived lives a hundred years more, or less. The Exalted One, friend, became a Buddha under an aspen tree. He has, friend, two chief disciples, Sāriputta and Moggallāna, a glorious pair. He has had one assembly, friend, of disciples, in number, and in this company all are arahants. He has for attendant, friend, for chief attendant, one named Ānanda. His father, friend, is the raja Suddhodana, whose wife Māyā is his mother, and whose seat is the town of Kapilavatthu. His leaving the world, his becoming a recluse, his travail, his enlightenment, his setting the Wheel of Truth a-rolling, were each on such and such wise. And we, friend, being of those who lived the holy life under our Exalted One, and purged the lusts of the flesh, have been reborn here.”

‘Thereafter, brethren, I resorted, not only to the Aviha gods, but also to the home of the Cool gods; and so, including both the Aviha gods and the Cool gods, I came to the home of the Fair gods. Then on, including thus the Aviha and Cool and Fair gods, I came to the home of the Well-seeing gods. And yet on, including thus Aviha and Cool and Fair and Well-seeing gods, till I came to the home of the senior gods. [And in each of these heavens numbers of the gods accosted me and told me of their previous birth under Vipassī and the following Buddhas down to the present one, myself.]

‘Thus, brethren, through his clear discernment of that principle of the Truth, is the Tathāgata able to remember the Buddhas of old, who attained final completion, who cut off obstacles, who cut down barriers, who have ended the cycle, who have escaped from all sorrow—so that he can remember as to their birth, their names, their families, the span of life usual in their time, their pair of disciples, and their congregations of disciples, and can say—“Of such was the birth of those Exalted Ones, such were their names, their families, such were their morals, their doctrines, their wisdom; how they lived and how they gained emancipation.’”

Thus spake the Exalted One. And the brethren, pleased at heart, rejoiced at the word of the Exalted One.