Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma-sambuddhassa1
With most respectful adoration I pay obeisance to the Buddha who, like his predecessors, has made a very rare appearance; who, like them, has no peers among Brahmas, Devas and human beings in the three worlds; who, like them, forms a refuge for all these beings who bow in homage; and who is like them in all aspects of glory, virtues and attributes (except in eight individual features3 such as life-span, height, lineage, duration of strenuous exertion, rays emitted from body, conveyance used on renouncing the world, Bodhi-tree and size of dais as seat).
With most respectful adoration I pay obeisance to the Dhamma, which, through his Omniscience and out of profound compassion for all beings, has been well taught1 by that Buddha, and which has been held in high esteem by himself.
With most respectful adoration I pay obeisance to the Sangha, the Order of Noble Ones, who have become true sons of the Master by their proper and upright practice2 of the Dhamma.
Having paid obeisance to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, I shall now write in a language neither too brief nor too elaborate, neither too simple nor too difficult, and relying mainly on the canonical texts of the Buddhavamsa3 and its commentary and also taking relevant materials from other texts and commentaries, the Maha Buddhavamsa, the Great Chronicle of the Buddhas - a book on the lives of twenty-five Enlightened Ones from out of innumerable Buddhas past, whose number is far greater than that of the grains of sand of the Ganges,4 beginning with the account of the Exalted Dipankara, from whom the Future Gotama as the Hermit Sumedha received the definite prophecy5 that he would become a Perfectly Self-Enlightened One.
May those virtuous people, who are desirous of seeking merit and knowledge; who, with abiding faith, have established a firm foundation of refuge in the Buddha1 , the Dhamma and the Sangha; and who are properly and up rightly cultivating the threefold practice of morality (sila), concentration (samadhi) and insight (panna) - may they easily attain the Path, Fruition and Nibbana.
1. Here the author adds an adjectival clause reading "whose supremacy in the three worlds is like the ruby-studded pinnacle of a palace." The three worlds here are the three realms of sensuality (kama). materiality (rupa) and immateriality (arupa. The first corresponds to the realm of five senses, comprising the four woeful states (apaya), the human world and the six celestial worlds. The material and immaterial worlds belong to the Brahmas.
Singular opportunity of living in an age when a Buddha appears
The wealthy Anathapindika,1 soon to become the donor of Jetavana monastery, on his visit to Rajagaha when he would see the Buddha for the first time, heard the word "Buddha" from his wealthy brother-in-law2 in Rajagaha. As soon as he heard the sound "Buddha" he exclaimed, "Ghoso' pi kho eso gahapati dullabho lokasmim yad idam 'buddho buddho' ti", meaning "Friend, rare indeed it is in the world even to hear the utterance 'Buddha, Buddha.' "
While the Buddha was staying in the market town of Apana in the country of Anguttaripa, Sela3, a leading Brahmin teacher, heard from Keniya the matted-haired ascetic, the word "Buddha", As soon as he heard the sound "Buddha" it occurred to him thus: "Ghoso' pi kho eso gahapati dullabho lokasmim yad idam 'buddho buddho' ti", meaning "Rare indeed it is in the world even to hear the utterance 'Buddha, Buddha.' "Not long after, together with three hundred followers, he gained ehi-bhikkhu 4 monkhood, and seven days thence he at£dined arahatship with them.
In the light of these canonical extracts, it is very rare and difficult in the world even to hear the word "Buddha, Buddha;" inexpressably and extremely more so indeed is the appearance of a Buddha.
In this respect, it may be noted that the utterance "diamond" may refer to a genuine diamond or a fake. Like wise, because rumours of a coming Buddha had been widespread prior to the Buddha's appearance, both Anathapindika and Sela must have heard before the false claim of six heretical teachers5to be "Buddhas." But just as the sound (of the word) "diamond," only when spoken of a genuine one, would please one who can differentiate between a genuine diamond and a fake; so also, to such men of highly developed intelligence as Anathapindika and Sela, the utterance "Buddha" could have been delightful only when spoken of the true Buddha.
Just as taking a fake diamond to be genuine by unworthy persons of poor intelligence is a wrong notion, even so taking their masters (the six heretical teachers) to be genuine Buddhas by those who followed them was a wrong and harmful conclusion (micchadhimokkha).
In order to appreciate more profoundly the rare phenomenon of a Buddha's appearance in the world, it is important to know briefly (at the outset) the following (matter) concerning a Bodhisatta and a Buddha:
1. Bodhisatta (A Being destined to attain Enlightenment, i.e. a Future Buddha),
2. Bodhisatta-kicca (Duties of a Future Buddha).
3. Buddha (A Supreme Being who has fulfilled the duties of a Future Buddha and has consequently attained Enlightenment), and
4. Buddha-kicca, (Daily Duties of a Buddha).
The Fourfold Insight Knowledge of the Path (Magga-nana) 6 with or without accompaniment of Omniscience (Sabbannutanana) 7 is called Enlightenment (Bodhi). Enlightenment is of three kinds:
(1) Samma-sambodhi: Enlightenment consisting of the Fourfold Insight-Knowledge of the Path with the accompaniment of Omniscience. The Fourfold Insight-Knowledge of the Path is understanding of the Four Noble Truths8by oneself without a teacher's help, and it has distinctive power of removing mental defilements as well as habitual tendencies (vasana) of past existences; Omniscience is understanding of all principles worthy of understanding.
(2) Pacceka-Bodhi: Enlightenment consisting of the Fourfold Insight-Knowledge of the Path which is understanding of the Four Noble Truths by oneself without a teacher's help.
(3) Savaka-Bodhi: Enlightenment consisting of the Fourfold Insight-Knowledge of the Path which is understanding of the Four Noble Truths only with the help of a teacher.
(1) Noble Persons who have a strong wholesome desire to realise Samma-Sambodhi are called Samma- Sambodhisatta, "Future Perfect Buddhas,"9 (2) Noble Persons who have a strong wholesome desire to realise Pacceka-Bodhi are called Pacceka-Bodhisatta, "Future Private Buddhas," and (3) Noble Persons who have a strong wholesome desire to realise Savaka-Bodhi are called Savaka-Bodhisatta, "Future Disciples of a Buddha."
Three types of Future Buddhas10
Of these three kinds of Noble Persons (1) Samma- Sambodhisatta or Future Perfect Buddhas are grouped into three types: (a) Pannadhika Future Buddhas, (b) Saddhadhika Future Buddhas, and (d) Viriyadhika Future Buddhas.
Buddhahood is attainment of Omniscience (Sabbannutta nana ). To attain this Supreme Wisdom the seeker must have a mental make-up in which Wisdom is predominant. The factor of predominant Wisdom means careful consideration and forethought in doing everything physically, verbally or mentally. By so doing, one's wisdom becomes strengthened and mature existence after existence so that in due course one painlessly attains Omniscience which is far superior to all kinds of wisdom. Just as money is gained in the world by means of monetary investment, even so Omniscience is gained by means of intellectual investment.
(a) Future Buddhas called Pannadhika with the factor of predominant Wisdom always present in their endeavours become Buddhas after fulfilling their Perfections (Parami) for four asankhyeyya11and a hundred thousand aeons12.
(b) Other Future Buddhas also believe that they can become Buddhas by fulfilling Perfections, and in their mental make-up such belief is predominant. With them Faith plays a greater role than Wisdom. They are therefore called Saddhadhika Future Buddhas, "Future Buddhas with predominant Faith." Since they are not led by Wisdom but by Faith in their fulfilment of Perfections they cannot become Buddhas after four asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons, but only after eight asankhyeyyaand a hundred thousand aeons.13
(c) There are still other Future Buddhas who rely solely upon their Energy (Industriousness). For them Wisdom is not a principal factor. Neither do they place emphasis on the Faith that Perfections lead to Enlightenment. Holding that Energy brings about Buddhahood, they give top priority to Energy in their fulfilment of Perfections and become Buddhas only after sixteen asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons. They are therefore called Viriyidhika Future Buddhas, "Future Buddhas with Predominant Energy."
Thus it should be noted that three designations — Pannadhika, Saddhadhika and Viriyadhika are applied only to Future Buddhas. Otherwise one would think that they belonged to Fully Enlightened Buddhas. These distinctions exist only while they remain as Future Buddhas, but once they attain Buddhahood, they are all identical in respect of Wisdom, Faith and Energy. One cannot say which Buddha is more accomplished than the other in each of these aspects.
Pannadhikanam hi saddha manda hoti panna tikkha;
Saddhadhikanam panna majjhima hoti saddha balava;
Viriyadhikanam saddha-panna manda viriyam balavam.14
In Pannadhika Future Buddhas, Wisdom is strong but Faith is weak;
In Saddhadhika Future Buddhas, Wisdom is medial but Faith is strong;
In Viriyidhika Future Buddhas, Faith and Wisdom are weak, but Energy is strong.
Reasons for difference between the three types of Future Buddhas
As has been stated, Bodhisattas are of three types with three respective periods of fulfilment of Perfections, namely, four asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons, eight asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons and six teen asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons. A reason this for difference is mentioned in the Paramidawgan Pyo15, an epic composed by the celebrated poet of Old Burma - Ashin Silavamsa16. According to it17 the difference lies in the Path chosen by the individual Future Buddha, viz., a Pannadhika Future Buddha chooses the Wisdom Path which takes four asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons to reach the goal; a Saddhadhika Future Buddha chooses the Faith Path which takes eight asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons to reach the goal; and a Viriyadhika Future Buddha chooses the Energy Path which takes sixteen asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons to reach the goal.
According to the view of other teachers as mentioned in the Pakinnaka-katha of the Cariya-Pitaka Commentary, the difference between the three durations lies in the three degrees of energy, namely, strong, medial and weak. ( This view implies that it takes Pannadhika Bodhisattas only four asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons for fulfilment of Perfections because of their predominant energy; the view is thus not free from the fault of confusion (sankara-dosa)18 as it mixes up Pannadhika Future Buddhas with Viriyakhika Future Buddhas.)
The view which appeals to the Commentator Dhammapala and others is that the difference in duration is due to the difference in the degrees - strong, medial and weak of maturity of Perfections leading to emancipation (Vimutti paripacaniya Dhamma).
To elaborate, even at the time of receiving the prophecy the Bodhisattas are of three types:
(i) Ugghatitannu Bodhisattas,19 (ii) Vipancittanu Bodhisattas20 and (iii) Neyya Bodhisattas.21
(i) Ugghatitannu Bodhisattas are those who have the capacity to attain Arahatship together with the six Higher Spiritual Powers (Abhinna)22 and four kinds of Analytical Knowledge (Patisambhida)23 they can attain that stage even before the end of the third line of a verse-sermon of four lines delivered by a Buddha if they wish to achieve Enlightenment of a Disciple (Savaka-Bodhi) in that very existence. ( This is one of the eight factors for receiving the prophecy.)
(ii) Vipancittannu Bodhisattas are those who have the capacity to attain Arahatship together with the six Higher Spiritual Powers (Abhinna) and four kinds of Analytical Knowledge (Patisambhida); they can attain that stage before the end of the fourth line of a verse-sermon of four lines delivered by a Buddha if they wish to achieve Enlightenment of a Disciple ( Savaka-Bodhi) in that very existence.
(iii) Neyya Bodhisattas are those who have the capacity to attain Arahatship together with the six Higher Spiritual Powers (Abhinna) and four kinds of Analytical Knowledge (Patisambhida); they can attain that stage at the end of the whole verse-sermon of four lines delivered by a Buddha if they wish to achieve Enlightenment of a Disciple ( Savaka-Bodhi) in that very existence.
With Ugghatitannu Bodhisattas the degree of maturity of Perfections leading to emancipation is so strong that they have to endeavour only for four asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons after receiving the prophecy. With Vipancitannu Bodhisattas the degree of maturity of Perfections leading to emancipation is medial and they have to endeavour for eight asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons after receiving the prophecy. With Neyya Bodhisattas the degree of maturity of Perfections leading to emancipation is so weak that they have to endeavour for sixteen asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons after receiving the prophecy.
Ugghatitannu Bodhisattas are identical with Panadhika Bodhisattas; so are Vipancitannu Bodhisattas with Saddhadhika Bodhisattas and Neyya Bodhisattas with Viriyadhika Bodhisattas.
Impossibility of attainment of Buddhahood before completing the required period of Perfections
The paddy species that ripens only when it is three, four or five months old by no means yields crops in fifteen days or a month although watering and weeding may have been done many times a day; its stems and leaves cannot grow (as much as one would like) and its ears cannot start bearing seeds, thrive and mature. In the same way, it should be noted that all the three types of Bodhisattas by no means attain full Buddhahood with its perfectly ripe fruit of Omniscience before they have completed the full course of Perfections that lasts a hundred thousand aeons in addition to four, eight or sixteen asankhyeyya even if, since receiving the prophecy, they have given daily alms like those of Prince Vessantara24and have observed pertinent virtues such as morality, etc.
24. Famous for his most daring generosity. From the time he was made king at the age or sixteen by his father he gave alms each day costing him six hundred thousand pieces of money. Besides, he gave his white elephant, which had the power of causing rain, to the drought-stricken citizens of Jetuttara against the will of his own people. He was therefore banished to Vankagiri, and while in exile he gave his son and daughter to Jujaka, an old brahmin who wanted to use them as slaves; he also gave his wife to Sakka who came under the disguise of a brahmin to ask for her as a test of his generosity. His existence is said to be the last of the Bodhisatta before he was reborn in Tusita, the third highest abode of celestial beings.
Mere desire to possess wealth and not working for it leads nowhere. Only when one works hard enough can one hope to gain the desired object. In the same way, the three types of Future Buddhas who wish to attain the above mentioned three respective types of Enlightenment attain them only when they have fulfilled their Perfections (Parami), sacrificed their life and limb in charity (Caga) and developed their virtues through practice (Cariya) as means of achieving the Enlightenment which they so desire.
In a business enterprise the extent of profit gained is determined by the capital invested and the effort put in. When the capital is large and the effort great, the profit is considerable; when the capital and effort are fair, the accruing profit is just fair; when the capital and effort are little, the profit gained is little. In the same way, there exist distinctions between Enlightenment attained by those who make investment in the form of fulfilment of Perfections, Sacrifice of life and limb in charity and development of virtues - the practices which are conducive to arising of Enlightenment25(Bodhiparipacaka). The profits gained in the form of Enlightenment differ inasmuch as there are differences in their investment of Perfections, sacrifices and virtues through Practice.
The differences may be explained as follows
(1) Samma-Sambodhisattas, Future Buddhas, who even before the definite prophecy (made by a Buddha saying "This person shall attain Buddhahood under a certain name in a certain World,")26 accumulate merits and make the mental resolution to become a Buddha.
As mentioned in the passage
in the Buddhapadana of the Apadana,27 a Future Buddha aspires mentally to Buddhahood in the presence of innumerable Buddhas throughout incalculable aeons.
After thus making the mental resolution for attainment of Buddhahood and accumulating special merits for and inestimable period of tune, when he becomes endowed with the eight factors28 ( like Sumedha the Hermit ), a Bodhisatta receives the definite prophecy from a living Buddha.
Here it should be noted that the act of resolution by and aspirant to become a Buddha (abhinnhara)29 is made up of two phases, as aspiration to Enlightenment prior to his possession of the eight factors is mainly mental, his act of resolution made before Buddhas one after another as not complete, and he is not yet entitled to the designation of Bodhisatta.
But when he becomes endowed with eight factors like Sumedha and, on that very account, he now makes the resolution saying:
"Imina me adhikirena katena purisuttame
sabbannutam papunitva taremi Janatam hahum"30
his act of resolution becomes complete then and there, and it enables him to be worthy of receiving the definite prophecy.
It should be noted that this complete act of resolution (abhinihara) is the great wholesome consciousness 32(intention or volition) that arises as a result of his reflection on the unimaginable attributes of a Buddha and his great compassion for the welfare of the entire world of beings. And this great wholesome consciousness has the unique power of motivating his fulfilment of Perfections, Sacrifice of life and limb in charity and development of virtues through Practice.
The moment that great wholesome consciousness arises in the Future Buddha, he sets himself on the Path leading to Omniscience. Because he is definitely on his way to Buddhahood, he now wins the title Bodhisatta. Owing to the great complete resolution which, as has been explained above, is the great wholesome consciousness, there becomes established in him the wholesome aspiration for full Omniscience and the unrivalled ability to fulfil Perfections, to sacrifice life and limb in charity and to develop virtues which form requisites for attainment of Omniscience.
And also because of the aforesaid great wholesome consciousness he reflects on the Perfections to be accomplished and determines the order for doing so. He does it by means of the knowledge of investigation of Perfections (Parami-pavicaya-nana), etc. which enables him to penetrate things without a teacher's help. This knowledge is a precursor to attainment of Omniscience, it is followed by the actual fulfilment of Perfections one after another.
As mentioned in the Nidana-katha of the Cariya-Pitaka Commentary,33 after receiving the definite prophecy of Buddhahood, the Future Buddha ceaselessly and uniquely strives to fulfil Perfections (Parami, Sacrifices (Caga) and virtues through Practice (Cariya)34 which are requisites for achieving the Path-Knowledge of Arahatship (Arahatta-magga-nana) and Omniscience (Sabbannuta-nana) by four means of development, namely, (i) sabbasambhara bhavana,
(ii) nirantara bhavana, (iii) cirakala-bhavana and (iv) sakkacca-bhavana.
Of these four (i) sabbasambhara-bhavana is complete development of the entire range of Perfections, (ii) nirantara-bhavana is development of Perfections throughout the minimum period of four asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons, or the medial period of eight asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons or the maximum period of sixteen asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons, without a break of even a single existence, (iii) cirakala-bhavana is development of Perfections for a long duration which is not an aeon less than the minimum period of four asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons; and (iv) sakkacca-bhavana is development of Perfections with seriousness and thoroughness.35
Moral Qualities of a Future Buddha
The Future Buddha, who has received the definite prophecy is strongly moved by great compassion for beings when he sees these helpless ones who have no refuge in this difficult journey of life, who are beset with a variety of intolerably acute sufferings such as those springing from birth, old age, sickness and death; of killings, imprisonment of beings maimed and disabled, of hardships associated with earning a living and the sufferings of beings in woeful states. Being so moved by this great compassion, he forbears his own suffering from such outrageous oppressive atrocities as cutting off of the hand, the leg, the ear, etc. perpetrated against him by those totally blind and ignorant people, and his compassion for them is long and enduring.
He suffuses them with compassion an this manner. "How shall I treat these people who have wronged me? I am of truth the person who is striving for Perfections with a view to liberating them from the woes of the cycle of births. Powerful indeed is delusion! Forceful indeed is craving! Sad it is that, being overwhelmed by craving and delusion, they have committed such great offences even against me who am endeavouring to liberate them thus.
Because they have perpetrated these outrages, serious troubles lie in wait for them."
Shedding his compassion on them thus he tries to find suitable ways and means to save them and reflects: "Being overwhelmed by craving and delusion, they have wrongly taken what is impermanent to be permanent, suffering to be happiness, nonself to be self and unpleasantness to be pleasantness. In what way shall I go to their rescue and get them out of suffering that arises owing to a cause."
While contemplating thus the Bodhisatta rightly discerns that forbearance (khanti) is the only means to set beings free from the bondage of existence. He does not show even the slightest anger to beings who have outraged him by cutting off his limbs, etc. He thought to himself, "As the result of demeritorious deeds done in my past existences I deserve the suffering now. Since I myself have done wrong previously, this suffering I deserve, I am the one who has started the wrongdoing." Thus he takes the offence of others upon himself.
It further occurs to him thus. "Only with forbearance, will I be able to save them. If I do wrong to the wrong doer I will become like him; I will not be different from him. How then can I liberate them from the woes of the cycle of births? Never can I.36 Therefore, resting on the strength of forbearance which is the basis of all strengths, and taking their misdeeds upon myself, forbear I will; and with loving-kindness and compassion as guides, I shall fulfil the Perfections. Only by so doing will I attain Omniscient Buddhahood. Only by having attained Omniscient Buddhahood will I be able to save all beings from suffering that arises owing to a cause." He thus sees the correct situation as it stands.
Having observed thus, the Future Buddha fulfils his Perfections in a unique manner - the Perfections being ten ordinary ones, ten superior ones and ten most superior ones, thirty in all, known as Requisites of Enlightenment (Bodhisambhara). The fulfilment of Perfections takes place in the above-mentioned four ways of development.37
Not living long in celestial abodes while fulfilling Perfections
Before he attains the complete fulfilment of Perfections as in the existence of Vessantara,38 while still fulfilling Perfections, sacrificing life and limb in charity and developing practices is a unique manner, a Future Buddha may be reborn frequently as a divine being of long life in consequence of his great meritorious deeds. But he chooses to cut short his life in the divine world by means of intentional death (adhimutti-marana)39 because it is difficult to fulfil Perfections in those celestial abodes; accordingly, he is reborn in many a world of human beings where he can continue to fulfil Perfections.
Perfections compared with an ocean
However enormous an ocean may be, it is finite in its extent, being limited by its bed at the bottom, by its surface at the top and encircled by cakkavala mountains on all sides. On the other hand, the ocean of Perfection in alms-giving (dana-parami) fulfilled and accumulated by the Future Buddha is infinite in its extent, its dimensions are limitless. With regard to this particular Perfection of alms— giving one cannot define its limits by the extent of external properties given away; by the amount of flesh or blood given away; or by the number of eyes or heads sacrificed. Likewise, one cannot speak of limits of other Perfections such as that of morality (sila-parami.) Thus in this comparison of the ocean with the ocean of Perfections, it should be noted that the former is limited in capacity however vast it may be whereas the latter is of infinite magnitude.
Future Buddhas do not feel even intense pains
At noon during the hot season a man may go down into a deep lake and take a bath there submerging himself; and while he is so doing he dose not take note of the intense heat that descends from the sky. In the same way the Future Buddha who suffused himself with great compassion, while seeking the welfare of beings, goes down into the ocean of Perfections and submerges himself there. Since he is suffused with great compassion, he does not feel even intense pains, caused by cutting off his limbs, etc. by evil cruel persons, as sufferings.
Long duration needed for fulfilment of Perfections
A Future Buddha has to fulfil Perfections at least four asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons from the time of his receiving the prophecy to the last existence when he achieves the completion of his fulfilment of Perfections (as in the existence of Vessantara). According to the Samyutta Nikaya. an aeon is a period of time during which, if the bones of a being were piled up, the size of that pile would become as high as a mountain. Therefore the number of births taken by the Future Buddha during the long period of four asahkhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons would be larger than that of drops of water in a great ocean. Among these existences there is none that has not witnessed his fulfilment of Perfections and none that has passed in vain.
The accounts of fulfilment of Perfections by the Future Buddha as mentioned in the 550 Jataka stories and in the stories of Cariya-Pitaka are just a few examples out of the total experiences which he had during the long period of four asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons. It is like a bowl of water taken out of a great ocean in order to sample its salty taste. The Buddha told these stories as illustrations as occasions arose and under appropriate circumstances. The number of stories he had told and the number of stories he had not may be compared to the water in a bowl and the water in a great ocean respectively.
The Perfection of alms-giving fulfilled by the Buddha is sung in praise in the Jinalankara as follows:
Aiming at Infinite Wisdom, and full of faith and fervour, that Bodhisatta had given in charity his ruby-red blood in quantities much more than drops of water in the four oceans, aiming at Infinite Wisdom and full of faith and fervour, he had given in charity his naturally soft and tender flesh in quantities which would exceed the great earth that is 240,000 yojanas. in extent, aiming at Infinite Wisdom and full of faith and fervour, his heads with glittering crowns studded with nine gems he had given in charity would pile up higher than Mount Meru, aiming at Infinite Wisdom and full of faith and fervour, he had given in charity his wondrous smiling eyes, dark as corundum or of a beetle's wing, more numerous than the stars and planets in the space of the universe.41
(2) Future Private Buddhas (a) called Pacceka-Bodhisattas have to fulfil their Perfections for two asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons They cannot become Private Buddhas if their duration of fulfilment of Perfections is less than that number of aeon. Because as has been said in the chapter dealing with previous Bodhisattas, Enlightenment of a Private Buddha (Pacceka Buddha) cannot become mature before they have completed the full course of Perfections.
(3) Future Disciples called Savaka-Bodhisattas are (a) Future Chief Disciples (Agga savaka), a pair of Disciples like the Venerable Sariputta42 and the Venerable Moggallana,43(b) Future Great Disciples (Maha savaka), those like the eighty Great Disciples44 in the lifetime of Buddha Gotama and (c) Future Ordinary Disciples45(Pakati savaka), all arahats other than those mentioned above. Thus there are three categories of Future Disciples.
Of these three categories (a) Future Chief Disciples have to fulfil their Perfections for one asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons (b) Future Great Disciples, for a hundred thousand aeons, and as for (c) Future Ordinary Disciples, duration of their fulfilment of Perfections is not directly given in the Texts. However, it is said in the Commentary and Sub-Commentary of the Pubbenivasakatha (in the Mahapadana Sutta46) that Great Disciples can remember their past lives for one hundred thousand aeons and Ordinary Disciples for less than that figure. Since fulfilment of Perfections takes place in every existence of theirs, it may be inferred that Future Ordinary Disciples have to fulfil Perfections not more than a hundred thousand aeons. The duration of their fulfilment of Perfections is thus indefinite: it may be one hundred aeons or one thousand aeons, etc. According to some, it may be just one or two existences as illustrated by the story of a frog.47
As has been said before, after fulfilling their Perfections for their respective duration, the three types of Future Buddhas attain the Fourfold Knowledge of the Path (Magganana), which is understanding of the Four Noble Truths by himself without a teacher's help, as well as Omniscience (Sabbannutanana), which is understanding of all principles that are worthy of understanding. They acquire at the same time the special attributes of a Buddha that are infinite (ananta) and immeasurable (aparimeyya). Such attributes are so immense that, if a Buddha extols the attributes of another Buddha without touching on any other topic for an aeon, the aeon may come to an end, but the attributes will not. The 'Noble Person who has thus attained Enlightenment with no equal in the three worlds is called an Omniscient Buddha or a Perfectly Self-Enlightened One (Samma-sambuddha).
After fulfilling the necessary Perfections for two Asankheyya and a hundred thousand aeons, a Private Buddha attains Enlightenment consisting of the Insight-Knowledge of the Path which is understanding of the Four Noble Truths (Magganana) by himself without a teacher's help. But he does not achieve Omniscience and the Ten Powers (Dasabalanana).48etc. The Noble Person who has thus attained Enlightenment is called a Private Buddha or a Minor Buddha (Pacceka-Buddha).
After fulfilling the necessary Perfections for one asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons if he is a Future Chief Disciple, or a hundred thousand aeons if he is a Future Great Disciple, or a hundred aeons or a thousand aeons or any smaller number of aeons if he is a Future Ordinary Disciple, a Future Disciple attains Enlightenment consisting of the Insight-Knowledge of the Path which is understanding of the Four Noble Truths (Savaka-Bodhinana), with the help of a teacher who is a Buddha. The Noble Person who has thus attained Enlightenment of a Disciple (Savaka-Bodhinana) is called an Enlightened Disciple (Savaka-Buddha); he may have the status of a Chief Disciple, a Great Disciple or an Ordinary Disciple.
Among these Great Personages namely, Omniscient Buddhas, Private Buddhas and Enlightened Disciples, Omniscient Buddhas are called Tarayitu49Beings, the Mast Supreme Ones, who, having themselves crossed over the ocean at Samsara,50 save others from its perils.
Private Buddhas are called Tarita51Beings, the Noble Ones who have crossed over the ocean of Samsara on their own, but are unable to save others from its perils. To elaborate: Private Buddhas do not appear in an age when an Omniscient Buddha makes his appearance. They appear only in the intervening period between the lifetime of two Buddhas. An Omniscient Buddha realises far himself the Four Noble Truths without guidance and has the ability to teach and make others understand them. A Private Buddha also realises the Four Noble Truths on his own, but he is in no way able to teach and make others understand them. Having realised the Path, Fruition and Nibbana (Pativedha)52 he is unable to recount his personal experiences of these attainments because he lacks possession of appropriate terminology for these supramundane doctrines. Therefore a Private Buddha's knowledge of the Four Truths (Dhammabhisamaya)53 is compared by the commentators to a dumb person's dream or an ignorant peasant's experience of a city life for which he has no words to express. Private Buddhas (Tarita Beings) are thus those who have gone across Samsara on their own, but who are in no position to help others cross.
Private Buddhas may bestow monkhood on those who wish to become monks, and they may give them training in special practices of the holy life (Abhisamacarika)54 thus:
"In this calm manner you should step forward, step backward, you should see, you should say," and so on; but they are not able to teach them how to differentiate between mind and matter (nama-rupa), and how to view them in terms of their characteristics, namely, impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality, etc. so that they may reach the stage of realisation of the Path and Fruition. (The next paragraph is omitted )55
Noble Disciples who are Savaka-Bodhisattas, are called Tarita Beings as they have been helped cross the ocean of Samsara and saved by Omniscient Buddhas. To illustrate, Upatissa, the wandering ascetic, who was to become the Venerable Sariputta, became established in the Path and Fruition of Sotapatti, on hearing from the Venerable Assaji the following stanza:
Ye dhamma hetuppabhava
tesam hetum tathagato. 56
From this account one would think Noble Disciples could be both those who have been saved (Tarita Beings) by others and those who have saved others ( Tarayitu Beings). But the teaching of a Buddha's disciple has its origin in the Buddha; it does not originate from the Disciple himself. He does not preach a sermon of his own without taking help and guidance from the teaching of the Buddha. Therefore such Disciples are to be called Tarita Beings, not Tarayitu Beings, as they can by no means realise the Four Noble Truths without a master; and their realisation of the Path and Fruition can take place only with the master's help and guidance.
As has been said, Private Buddhas and Noble Disciples are Tarita Beings and Tãrita Beings respectively. Hence after their realisation of the Path and Fruition of Arahatship they entered into the stage of attainment of Fruition (Phala samapatti) and attainment of Cessation (Nirodha samapatti) for their own enjoyment of bliss of Peace, not working for the benefit of others. On the other hand, an Omniscient Buddha (Samma-Sambuddha) would not remain working for his interest only. In fact, even at the time of fulfilling Perfections he resolves:
"Having understood the Four Noble Truths I will make others understand the same (Buddho bodheyyam)," and so on. Accordingly, he performs the five duties of a Buddha continuously day and night.57
Because he has to perform the five duties of a Buddha, the Buddha takes rest just a little while after his day-meal each day. At night he rests only for one third of the last watch of the night. The remaining hours are spent attending to his five duties.
Only those Buddhas who are possessed of energy in the form of unique and supreme diligence (payatta ), one of the glories (Bhaga ) of a Buddha, are able to perform such duties. The performance of these duties is not the sphere of Private Buddha and Disciples.
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To be continued
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