THE CHRONICLE OF BUDDHA GOTAMA
BY MINGUN SAYADAW
|Volume Two, Part One, 1994; Translated by U Ko Lay and U Tin Lwin|
Kaladevila's act of laughing and weeping
Kaladevila, having acquired the Five Higher Knowledges and the Eight Attainments, could recall events of the past forty kappas and also foresee those of the future forty kappas. Thus he was capable of recollecting and discerning the events of eighty kappas in all.
(A detailed account of Kaladevila is given in the Anudipani of this volume.)
Having inspected the major and minor characteristics on the Bodhisatta Prince, Kaladevila pondered whether the Prince would become a Buddha or not and came to know through his foreseeing wisdom that the Prince certainly would. With the knowledge that "Here is a superb man," the Hermit laughed in great delight.
Again, the Hermit pondered whether he would or would not see the young Prince attain Buddhahood; he realized through his foreseeing wisdom that before the young Prince's attainment of Budhdahood he would pass away and be reborn in an Arupa abode of Brahmas where nobody would be capable of hearing the Deathless Dhamma even if hundreds and thousands of Buddhas were to come and teach it. "I will not get an opportunity of seeing and paying obeisance to this man of marvel who is endowed with unique merits of the Perfections. This will be a great loss for me." So saying and being filled with immense grief, Kadevila wept bitterly.
(An Arupa abode of Brahmas means a plane of existence which is totally devoid of material phenomena, there being only mental consciousness (citta) and its concomitants (cetasika). In such an abode are reborn tihetuka puthujjanas, worldlings with three roots (roots of non-greed, non-hate and non-delusion) and such Noble Ones as Sotapannas ('Stream-winners'), Sakadagamis ('Once-returners') and Anagamis ('Non-returners') who have attained the Arupa Jhana. The Sotapannas, Sakadagamis and Anagamis who have reached that Arupa Brahmas' abode will no longer return to the lower planes of existence. As they are experienced in practising meditation up to the stage of the Path and Fruition while in the sensuous wholesome abodes (kama sugati) and in the material (Rupa) abodes, they are able to pursue the same Vipassana (Insight) meditation that they had practised previously; they attain higher stages up to the Path and Fruition and Nibbana in the same abodes of Arupa, thereby terminating all suffering in samsra even though they do not hear the Dhamma from anyone. Worldlings of the three roots (who have won the Arupa Jhana in the human world) such as Hermits Kaladevila, Alara and Udaka were reborn in an Arupa abode upon their death; as this abode by nature is devoid of any kind of matter, those who are reborn there have absolutely no eyes (cakkhupasada) for seeing the Buddha and no ears (sotapasada) for hearing his Dhamma, thus they can neither behold a Buddha nor listen to his sermon even if one comes and delivers it. On their part, Buddhas do not pay a visit and give a sermon in an Arupa abode. And if worldlings have no chance to hear the Dhamma from others (parato ghosa), they will never attain the Path and Fruition.
(Kaladevila and Udaka who reached Nevasanna-nasannayatana Arupa abode as worldlings would remain in samsara for eighty-four thousand kappas. Alara who reached the Arupa abode of Akincannayatana would remain in samsara for sixty- thousand rnahakappas. Therefore even if a Buddha were to appear in the human world in the present kappa, they have no chance to realize Liberation.
(In this connection, it may be questioned as to whether Kaladevila could not have been reborn in a Rupa abode provided he directed his mind towards that existence. Since the Hermit had finlly attained the eight mundane Jhanas, his rebirth could have taken place in any of the ten Rupa Brahma worlds up to the topmost Vehapphala if he were so inclined. This is the answer.
(If there was such an opportunity, it may be asked: "Why had the Hermit no inclination to be reborn in one of the ten Rupa abodes of his choice?" The reply should be that he had no such inclination because he was not skilful enough to do so. (What it essentially means is this: a winner of the eight mundane attainments is likely to be reborn in one of the Rupa or Arupa abodes that attracts him. Devila could have been in a Rupa abode only if he desired to be there. If he were there he would have been in a position to pay homage as a Rupa Brahma to the Buddha. But his failure to be there was due to his lack of proper skill in directing his mind towards that particular abode which is lower than Arupa.
(There still arises another argument: "Devila who had kept away grief (domanassa) through his attainment of Jhanas should not have succumbed to that displeasurable feeling and shed tears." He did so because his was merely keeping grief away. To make it a little more explicit: only those mental defilements that have been completely eliminated by means of the Path cannot reappear in one's mental continuum. But those defilements just kept away from oneself through sheer mundane Jhana attainments are apt to reappear when confronted with something strong enough to draw them (back to oneself). Devila had not eliminated such defilements; he had only kept them away from himself by means of Jhana attainments. Hence his weeping.
(Still another question may be asked as to how it was possible for Devila to be reborn in an Arupa abode since he slipped from the Jhanas through grief when he wept. The answer should be that he could be so reborn because the same Jhanas were regained by him effortlessly. To make it still more explicit: the defilements that have been just removed from worldlings of mundane Jhana attainments come back because of a powerful factor and thereby making them slip from their Jhanas, but if the defilements do not reach the extreme the worldlings can readily regain their Jhanas as soon as the force of the emotion subsides; and it cannot be easily known by others that "These are the ones who have fallen off their attainments."
(In brief, like Devila and others, those who have gained the eight mundane Jhanas can be reborn in one of the ten Rupa Brahma abodes, which are lower, or in one of the four Arupa Brahma abodes, which are higher, if they have prepared their minds to do so. If they have not, they will be reborn only in the abode that is determined by the highest of their mundane Jhanas since that particular Jhana alone can effect such a result. The knowledge that one can reach any abode that one sets the mind on is acquired only through a Buddha's teaching within his dispensation. Outside the dispensation, however, there can be no such penetration. Devila was not a disciple of a Buddha; thus he did not belong to a Buddha's dispensation. Therefore he was ignorant of the means to train his mind. If he had known, he would have done so to be reborn in one of the ten Rupa Brahma worlds, of which Vehapphala is the highest. If he had done at all, he could have been reborn there and might get the opportunity of seeing the Buddha. But now his ignorance had led to the failure of doing what would be proper for him. He would therefore be reborn in Nevasanna-nasannayatana which is the topmost Arupa abode, and reflecting on his forthcoming rebirth, he became so distressed that he could not help weeping; when he thus wept, he lost his Jhanas. But, since he had committed no serious evil deeds whatever, he regained the eight mundane attainments by resuming the preliminary exercises of a kasina meditation effortlessly as soon as the tempo of his grievous defilements ceased with nobody knowing his slip from the Jhanas. Therefore it should be understood that Devila the Hermit was reborn in the Arupa Brahma abode of Nevasanna-nasannayatana on his death through Nevasanna-nasannayatana Jhana which is the highest of the eight mundane attainments.)
The enquiry made by people
When the courtiers saw the Hermit now laughing and now weeping, it occurred to them thus: "Our Venerable Hermit laughed first, and later he wept which is strange indeed." So they enquired: "Venerable Sir, is there any danger that might befall our master's son?" "There is no danger for the Prince. In fact, he will become a Buddha." "Then why do you lament?" the people asked again. "Because I shall not get an opportunity to see the attainment of Enlightenment by a superb man who is endowed with such wonderful qualities. This will be a great loss to me. So thinking, I lament," replied the Hermit.
(The above narration has been made in accordance with what is described in the Buddhavamsa and Jataka Commentaries and the Jinalankara, Sub-commentary. In some works on the life of the Buddha in prose, the reading goes as follows: When King Suddhodana asked, "At what age the Prince would renounce the world and attain Buddhahood?" Kaladevila answered, "At the age of thirty-five." This passage is a deduction from the words addressed by Devila to his nephew (sister's son) Nalaka the youth, "Dear Nalaka, a son has been born to King Suddhodana. The child is the Future Buddha; he will attain Buddhahood at the age of thirty-five" The king was not pleased to hear that his son would become a Buddha. He wanted to see his son only as a Universal Monarch, not as a Buddha. Therefore, he must not have asked about the time of his son's renunciation and attainment of Buddhahood. That is the reason for the omission of such a passage in the aforesaid Commentaries and Sub-commentary. Here in this work, too, we therefore make no mention of it.)
The Monkhood of Nalaka the youth
Having answered thus, Kaladevila the Hermit pondered: "Though I will miss the Bodhisatta Prince's attainment of Buddhahood, I wonder whether somebody among my relations will have an opportunity of witnessing it." Then he foresaw that his nephew Nalaka would. So he visited his sister's place and summoned his nephew and urged him, saying:
"My dear nephew Nalaka, the birth of a son has taken place in the palace of King Suddhodana. He is a Bodhisatta. He will attain Buddhahood after passing the age of thirty-five. You, my nephew, are somebody deserving of seeing the Buddha. Therefore, you had better become a recluse even today."
Though born to the parents of eighty-seven crores' worth of wealth, the young Nalaka had confidence in his uncle, and thought "My uncle would not have urged me to do what is not beneficial. He did so because it is of benefit indeed." With this conclusion he had the robes and the alms-bowl bought and brought immediately from the market. Having his hair and beard shaved, and putting on the robes, he said to himself:
"I have become a recluse with dedication to the Buddha, the noblest personage in the world. (I become a recluse being dedicated to the Buddha who will certainly appear.)"
Having said thus, he faced to the direction of Kapilavatthu, where the Bodhisatta was, and made obeisance, raising his clasped hands in fivefold veneration. Thereafter he put his bowl in a bag, slang it on his shoulder and entered the Himalayas. Awaiting to receive the Buddha there in the forest, he devoted himself to asceticism.
(In connection with the birth of the Bodhisatta, the history of his lineage together with the founding of Kapilavatthu City is mentioned in the Anudipani.)
The Prognostication of the
marks on the Bodhisatta
at the head-washing and naming ceremonies
On the fifth day after the birth of the noble Bodhisatta, the father King Suddhodana held the head-washing ceremony, and with the idea to name his son he had his palace pervaded with four kinds of fragrant powder, namely, tagara (Tabernaemontana coronaria), Iavanga (cloves, Syzygium aromaticum), kunkuma (saffron, Crocus sativus), and tamala (Xanthochymus pictorius) and strewn with the five kinds of 'flowers', namely, saddala (a kind of grass), rice, mustard seeds, jasmine buds and puffed rice. He had also pure milk-rice cooked without any water, and having invited one hundred and eight learned Brahmins who were accomplished in the three Vedas, he gave them good and clean seats prepared in the palace and served them with the delicious food of milk-rice.
(The enumeration of the four kinds of fragrant powder here is in accordance with that given in the exposition of the Sekha Sutta, Majjhima Pannasa Tika and in the Tika on the Mahaparinibbana Sutta. (a) In the exposition of the Mahasudassana Sutta, however, kunkuma is replaced by turukkha. (b) In the exposition of the Avidure Nidana, etc., Jataka Tika, the enumeration is black sandalwood, tagara, camphor and essence of sandalwood. (c) In the Magadha Abhidhana (Abhidhanappadipika) the four are saffron, cloves, tagara and turukkha. (d) The exposition of the sixth Sutta of the Asivisa Vagga, Salayatana Samyutta Tika, contains saffron, turukkha, cloves, and tamala. (e) The Mala1aakara Vatthu has sala, mahatagara, camphor essence and sandalwood essence, (f) The Jinatthapakasani mentions aguru (aloe wood), tagara, camphor and sandalwood.)
Having fed them, the king honoured them, making excellent offerings to them, and out of one hundred and eight Brahmins, eight were selected and asked to prognosticate the marks on the body of the Bodhisatta.
Among the eight selected Brahmins, the seven, namely, Rama, Dhaja, Lakkhana, Jotimanta, Yanna, Subhoja and Suyama, having examined the physical marks of the Bodhisatta Prince each raised two fingers and made two alternative predictions with no decisiveness thus: "If your son who is endowed with these marks chooses to live the life of a householder, he will become a Universal Monarch, ruling over the four great Islands; if he becomes a monk, however, he will attain Buddhahood."
But Sudatta of the Brahmin clan of Kondanna, the youngest of them, after carefully examining the Prince's marks of a Great Man raised only one finger and conclusively foretold with just one word of prognostication thus: "There is no reason for the Prince's remaining in household life. He will certainly become a Buddha who breaks open the roof of defilements."
(The young Brahmin Sudatta of the Kondanna clan was one whose present existence was his last and who had previously accumulated meritorious deeds that would lead him towards the fruition of Arahatship; therefore he excelled the seven senior Brahmins in learning and could foresee the prospects of the Bodhisatta that he would definitely become a Buddha. Hence his bold reading with only one finger raised.)
This reading of the marks by young Sudatta, a descendent of Kondanna family, with the raising of a single finger was accepted by all the other learned Brahmins.
The Treatise dealing with the Marks of a Great Man
It became possible for these Brahmins to read the physical marks of a Great Man such as a Buddha and other Noble Ones owing to the following events: At times when the appearance of a Buddha was drawing near, Maha Brahmas of Suddhavasa abode incorporated in astrological works certain compilations of prognosticative matters with reference to the marks, etc. of a Great Man who would become a Buddha (Buddha Mahapurisa Lakkhana). The Brahmas came down to the human world in the guise of Brahmin teachers and taught all those who came to learn as pupils; in so doing their idea was: "Those who are possessed of accumulated merit and mature intelligence will learn the works of astrology which include (the art of reading) the marks of a Great Man." That was why these Brahmins were able to read the marks such as those indicating the future attainment of Buddhahood and others.
There are Thirty-two Major Marks of a Great Man
There are thirty-two major marks which indicate that their possessor is a Great Man (Bodhisatta). They are as follows;
1. The mark of the level soles of the feet which, when put on the ground, touch it fully and squarely;
2. The mark of the figures in the one hundred and eight circles on the sole of each foot together with the wheel having a thousand spokes, the rim, the hub and all other characteristics,
3. The mark of the projecting heels;
4. The mark of the long and tapering fingers and toes;
5. The mark of the soft and tender palms and soles;
6. The mark of the regular fingers and toes like finely rounded golden rail posts of a palace window; there is narrow space between one finger and another as well as between one toe and another;
7. The mark of the slightly higher and dust-free ankles;
8. The mark of the legs like those of an antelope called eni
9. The mark of the long palms of the hands which can touch the knees while standing and without stooping;
10. The mark of the male organ concealed in a sheath like that of a Chaddanta elephant;
11. The mark of the yellow and bright complexion as pure singinikkha gold;
12. The mark of the smooth skin (so smooth that no dust can cling to it);
13. The mark of the body-hairs, one in each pore of the skin;
14. The mark of the body-hairs with their tips curling upwards as if they were looking up the Bodhisatta's face in devotion;
15. The mark of the upright body like a Brahma's;
16. The mark of the fullness of flesh in seven places of the body: the two upper parts of the feet, the two backs of the hands, the two shoulders and the neck;
17. The mark of the full and well developed body like a lion's front portion;
18. The mark of the full and well developed back of the body extending from the waist to the neck like a golden plank without any trace of the spinal furrow in the middle;
19. The mark of the symmetrically proportioned body like the circular spread of a banyan tree, for his height and the compass of his arms are of equal measurement;
20. The mark of the proportionate and rounded throat;
21. The mark of the seven thousand capillaries with their tips touching one another at the throat and diffusing throughout the body the taste of food even if it is as small as a sesamum seed;
22. The mark of the lion-like chin (somewhat like that of' one who is about to smile);
23. The mark of the teeth numbering exactly forty;
24. The mark of the teeth proportionately set in a row;
25. The mark of the teeth touching one another with no space in between;
26. The mark of the four canine teeth white and brilliant as the morning star;
27. The mark of the long, flat and tender tongue;
28. The mark of' the voice having eight qualities as a Brahma's;
29. The mark of the very clear blue eyes;
30. The mark of the very soft and tender eyelashes like a newly born calf's;
31. The mark of the hair between the two eyebrows;
32. The mark of the thin layer of flesh that appears by nature like a gold headband on the forehead.
These are the thirty-two marks of a Great Man. (Extracted from the Mahapadana Sutta and Lakkhana Sutta of the Digha Nikaya as well as from the Brahmayu Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya.)
Explanations of the thirty-two major marks
1. The mark of the level soles of the feet which, when put on the ground, touch it fully and squarely.
When other persons set foot on the ground, the tip of the foot or the heel or the outer part of the sole touches the ground first, but the middle portion of the sole does not. So also when the foot is lifted from the ground, the tip or the heel or the outer part of the sole comes up first.
But when a superb man like the Bodhisatta puts down his foot on the ground, the entire sole touches it evenly the way the sole of a soft golden shoe does when placed on the ground. In the same manner, when his foot is raised, the different parts of the foot come up simultaneously.
In case the noble Bodhisatta wants to set his foot on the uneven ground, with holes, trenches, deep crevices, ditches, pits, banks and the like, all the concave parts of the earth rise at that very moment like an inflated leather bag and the ground become even, like the face of a drum.
If he lifted his feet with intent to put it down at a distance, even the royal Mount Meru appeared underneath the sole of his feet in a moment.
2. The mark of the figures in the one hundred and eight circles on the sole of each foot together with the wheel having a thousand spokes, the rim, the hub and all other characteristics.
The figures in the one hundred and eight circles are: (1) a large spear, (2) a house of splendour, srivatsa, (3) a buttercup flower, (4) three horizontal lines on throat, (5) a head-ornament, (6) a laid out meal, (7) a royal couch, (8) a hook, (9) a palace, (10) an arched gateway, (11) a white umbrella, (12) a double-edged sword, (13) a round fan of toddy palm-leaf, (14) a fan of a peacock's tail, (15) a head-band like forehead, (16) a ruby stone, (17) a lustrous eating bowl, (18) a festoon of sumana flowers, (19-23) the five kinds of lotus, namely, blue, red, white, paduma and pundarika, (24) a jar full of mustard seeds, etc., (25) a bowl similarly full, (26) an ocean, (27) a cakkavala mountain, (28) the Himalayas, (29) Mount Meru, (30-31) the disc of the sun and the disc of the moon;
(32) the planets, (33-36) the four island-continents with two thousand minor surrounding islands, (37) a Universal Monarch with flowers and seven treasures, (38) a white conch with a clockwise spiral shell, (39) a couple of golden carps, (40) a missile weapon;
(41-47) seven great rivers. (48-54) seven surrounding mountain ranges, (55-61) seven rivers (between the seven mountain ranges), (62) a garuda king, (63) a crocodile, (64) a banner, (65) a streamer, (66) a golden palanquin, (67) a yak-tail fly-flap, (68) Kelasa the silver mountain, (69) a lion king, (70) a tiger king, (71) a Valahaka horse king, (72) an Uposatha elephant king or a Chaddanta elephant king, (73) Basuki the Niga king, (74) a golden hamsa king, (75) a bull king, (76) Eravana the elephant king, (77) a golden sea-monster, (78) a golden boat, (79) a Brahma king, (80) a milch cow with her calf;
(81) a kinnara couple (male and female), (82) a karavika (bird) king, (83) a peacock king, (84) a crane king, (85) a cakkavaka (ruddy-goose) king, (86) a jivajiva or partridge (pheasant) king, (87-92) the six planes of celestial sensual existence, (93 -108) the sixteen planes of Rupavacara Brahma existence.
These are the figures in the one hundred and eight circles on the Bodhisatta's soles.
(Then the author quotes the enumeration of these figures composed in verse form by the Taunggwin Sayadaw, Head of the Sangha, as it appeared in his Gulhatthadipani, Vol. I. We do not translate it, for it will be a repetition.)
3. The mark of the projecting heels
By this is meant all-round developed heels. To elaborate: with other persons the forepart of the foot is long; the calf stands right above the heel; and so the heel looks cut and hewn. That is not the case with the noble Bodhisatta. The sole of his foot may be divided into four equal parts, of which the two front ones form the foremost sector of the sole. The calf stands on the third part. The heel lies on the fourth, looking like a round top (toy) placed on a red rug as though it has been treated on a lathe. (As for ordinary people, since the calf is situated on the top of the heel, the heel looks ugly as though it were cut and hewn unsymmetrically. In the case of the Bodhisatta, however, the calf is on the third part of the sole. The rounded heel which occupies the fourth sector and which is conspicuous against the reddish skin is accordingly elongated and graceful.)
4. The mark of the long and tapering fingers and toes
With other people, some fingers and toes are long and others short. Their girths also differ from one another. But that is not so in the case of the Bodhisatta. His fingers and toes are both long and even. They are stout at the base and taper towards the tip, resembling sticks of realgar made by kneading its powder with some thick oil and rolling it into shape.
5. The mark of the soft and tender palms and soles
The palms and soles of the Bodhisatta are very soft and tender like a layer of cotton wool ginned a hundred times and dipped in clarified butter. Even at an old age they never change but remain soft, tender and youthful as when young.
6. The mark of the regular fingers and toes like finely rounded golden rail posts of a palace window; there is narrow space between one finger and another as well as between one toe and another.
The four fingers (excluding the thumb) and the five toes of the Bodhisatta are of equal length. (If the reader raises his right palm and looks at them, he will see that his fingers are not equal in length.) The Bodhisatta Prince's eight fingers of both left and right hands are of the same measurement; so are his ten toes of both left and right feet. Accordingly, the somewhat curved lines on the joints taking the shape of barley seeds show no variation in length; in fact, they seem to form a row of curves, one touching another. The marks of these barley seeds are like uniformly and vertically fixed balusters. Therefore his fingers and toes resemble a palace window with a golden lattice created by master carpenters.
7. The mark of the slightly higher and dust-free ankles
The ankles of other people lie close to the back of the feet. Therefore their soles appear to be fastened with cramps, small nails and snags; they cannot be turned at will. This being the case, the surface of the soles of their feet is not visible when they walk.
The ankles of the Bodhisatta are not like that: they are about two or three fingers' length above the soles like the neck of a watering jar. Therefore the upper part of the body from the navel upwards maintains itself motionlessly like a golden statue placed on a boat: only the lower part of the body moves, and the soles turn round easily. The onlookers from the four directions—front, back, left and right—can see well the surface of his soles. (When an elephant walks, the surface of the sole can be seen only from behind. But when the Bodhisatta walks, his soles can be seen from all four quarters.)
8. The mark of the legs like those of an antelope called eni
(Let the reader feel his calf. He will find the hardness of his shin bone at the front and see the muscles loosely dangling on the back.) But the Bodhisatta's calves are different; like the husk that covers the barley or the paddy seed, the muscles evenly encase the shin bone making the leg round and beautiful; it is thus like that of an antelope known as eni.
9. The mark of the long palms of the hands which can touch the knees while standing and without stooping
Other persons may be hunch-backed or bandy-legged or both hunch backed and bandy-legged. Those who are with bent backs have no proper, proportionate frame because the upper part of the body is shorter than the lower part, nor do those with bandy legs because the lower part of the body is shorter than the upper part. (It means that the former are shorter in their upper part and the latter are shorter in the lower part of the body.) Because of the improper, disproportionate development of the frames, they can never touch their knees with their palms unless they lean forward.
It is not so in the case of the Bodhisatta. Neither the upper part of his body is bent nor the lower part crooked; both the upper and the lower parts are properly and proportionately formed. And so, even while standing and without stooping, he can touch and feel the knees with both the palms of his hands.
10. The mark of the male organ concealed in a sheath like that of a Chaddanta elephant
The male organ of the Bodhisatta is hidden in a lotus-like sheath, bearing resemblance to that of the king of bulls or to that of the king of elephants and so forth. It is the organ that has a cover as if it were placed in a felt, velvet or thick-cloth pouch that is made to measure.
11. The mark of the yellow and bright complexion as pure singinikkha gold
The Bodhisatta naturally has a complexion of smooth solid gold like a golden statue which has been polished with the powder of red oxide of lead (vermilion) and rubbed with the canine tooth of a leopard and treated with red ochre.
(With reference to this characteristic, even though the Pali Texts and their Commentaries stated " .. suvannavanna kancanasannibhattaca .. ", of which suvanna and kancana mean ordinary gold, the translation by noble teachers into Myanmar of these words is " like singinikkha gold...". This is due to the fact that the word singinikkha savanno' meaning 'having the colour of singinikkha pure gold' is contained in the gathas uttered by Sakka in the guise of a youth when the Bodhisatta entered the city of Rajagaha for alms-food, and also due to the fact that singistands out as the best kind of gold: among the different kinds of gold used by people, rasaviddha gold is superior to yuttika gold, akaruppanna gold is superior to rasaviddha gold, the gold used by Devas is superior to akaruppanna gold; among the variety of gold used by Devas, satakumbha gold is superior to camikara gold; jambunada gold is superior to satakumbha gold; and finally singigold is superior to that Jambunada gold. It is said so in the exposition of the Pathama Pitha in the Vimanavatthu Commentary, and the exposition of the chapter on Bimbisarasamagama, Mahakhandhaka of the Vinaya Mahavagga, Terasakanda Tika.)
12. The mark of the smooth skin (so smooth that no dust can cling to it.)
The skin of the Noble One is so soft and smooth in texture that both fine and gross dust cannot cling to it. Just as a water drop that falls on a lotus leaf cannot stay on it but falls away, even so all the dust that touches the Bodhisatta slips off instantly.
If he is thus dust-free and clean, why does he wash his legs and hands or bathe? He does so for the purpose of adjusting himself to the temperature of the moment, for the purpose of enhancing the merit of the donors, and for the purpose of setting an example by entering the monastery after cleansing himself as required by the disciplinary rules so that his disciples might follow.
13. The mark of the body-hairs, one in each pore of the skin
Other people have two or three or more body-hairs growing in each pore. But it is different in the case of the Bodhisatta: only a single hair grows in each pore.
14. The mark of the body-hairs with their tips curling upwards as if they were looking up the Bodhisatta's face in devotion
The Bodhisatta's body-hairs, one in each pore, are blue like the colour of a collyrium stone. These hairs curl upwards clockwise three times as if they were paying homage by looking up the Bodhisatta's face, fresh and graceful like a new paduma lotus bloom.
15. The mark of the upright body like a Brahma's
Just as a Brahma's body which never inclines forward or backward or sideways even slightly but assumes an upright attitude, even so the Bodhisatta's body is perfectly straight upwards. He has a body which is tender and beautiful as though it were cast in singinikkha gold.
As for others, their bodies generally lean or bend in one way or the other at one of these three places: the nape, the waist and the knees. Of these three places, if it bends at the waist, the body leans backwards; if it bends at the nape and the knees, the body stoops forwards. Some very tall people tend to lean sideways, either left or right. Those who lean backwards have their faces turned upwards as if they were observing and counting the constellations in the sky, those who bend down have their faces turned downwards as if they were studying the characteristics of the earth. Some people are lean and emaciated like spikes or sticks because they have not sufficient blood and flesh.
The Bodhisatta, however, is not like that; as he has an upright body, he resembles a golden post of the arched gateway erected at the entrance to a celestial city.
In this matter, such features as an upright body like a Brahma's and some other characteristics of a Great Man are not yet fully manifest in his infancy to an ordinary person of average intelligence. But, by examining the marks, features, and conditions as they existed at the time of his birth, the learned Brahmins, because of their expert knowledge in the Vedanga Mantras of the Suddhavasa Brahmas, have come to believe: "When the Bodhisatta Prince grows older with greater intelligence, the characteristics of his body such as being upright like a Brahma's and so forth will become manifest and seen by all" Therefore they pondered and reckoned and offered their readings as though the marks were then already visible fully to them. (In the same way, the growth of exactly forty teeth, their being regular and such other features did not come into existence in his infancy yet: but since the Brahmins foresaw that these features would appear later on at an appropriate time, they could predict by means of their learning in the mantras of the Suddhavasa Brahma's.)
16. The mark of the fullness of flesh in seven places of the body, the two upper parts of the feet, the two backs of the hands, the two shoulders and the neck
Other persons have their insteps, backs of the palms. etc., where the arteries manifest swollen and distinct in wavy patterns and are like a network. The bone-joints are also visible at the edges of the shoulders and also in the neck. On seeing them therefore other people would think that they are like petas (ghosts), those dwellers of the cemetery having ugly shoulders, protruding neck-bones and swollen arteries.
It is not so in the case of the noble Bodhisatta. There is fullness of the flesh in the aforesaid seven places. Fullness of flesh does not mean that the flesh has puffed up to the point of ugliness. It is the fullness which is just elegant, which just makes the arteries not conspicuous and the bones not protruding. Therefore the Bodhisatta has no arteries puffed up in the insteps of the feet and on the backs of the palms, and also no bones thrusting out at the edges of the shoulders and in the neck. He has the neck that is like a small well-polished golden drum. Because of the fullness and elegance in the said seven places of the body, he appears in the eyes of the onlookers like a wonderfiully carved stone image or like an exquisitely painted portrait.
17. The mark of the full and well-developed body like a lion's front portion:
The front portion of the lion is fully developed; but the back part is not. Thus the back part is not given as an example here, and the comparison is only with the forepart. Though this example is given, it is not that there are such unseemly features in the Bodhisatta's body as are to he found in the lion's, namely, bending, rising, sinking, and protruding and so on in certain parts of the body. In fact, the limbs of the Bodhisatta are as they should be: long where they should be long, short where they should be short, stout where they should be stout, lean where they should be lean, broad where they should be broad, round where they should be round, and thus his limbs are the most becoming and the most beautiful. The likeness of the Bodhisatta's body cannot be created by any master craftsman or any superman.
18. The mark of the full and well developed back of the body extending from the waist to the neck like a golden plank without any trace of the spinal furrow in the middle:
This briefly means that the back of the Bodhisatta is particularly developed and magnificent. The flesh over the ribs, the flesh on both left and right sides of the back and the flesh in the middle of the back are well formed and graceful from the waist up to the neck.
The surface of the back of the other people look split into two sections. The spine and its flesh in the middle remain sunk and depressed; or it is curved; or it comes out and becomes bulging. The flesh on either side of the middle backbone appears convex and straight like a split bamboo placed in a prone position. The flesh at the edges of the back is thin and slight.
The Bodhisatta is different. The flesh on either side and at the end of the spine, that on the ribs, on the portion underneath the shoulders and along the middle of the spine, are all fully developed from the waist to the neck without any trace of a long cut in the middle. And so, the surface of his back is full with layers of flesh like an erected plank of gold.
19. The mark of the symmetrically proportioned body like the circular spread of a banyan tree, for his height and the compass of his arms are of equal measurement:
Just as a banyan tree with its trunk and branches measuring fifty or a hundred cubits has its vertical length and its horizontal length equal, even so the Bodhisatta's height and the length of his arms stretched out sideways are of equal measurement (which is four cubits). (The height and the length of the two arms of other people are generally not equal.)
20. The mark of the proportionate and rounded throat:
Some people have their necks which are long like that of a crane; other people have their necks which are curved like that of a paddy-bird; still others have the necks which are pudgy, swollen and large like that of a pig. When they speak, veins around the necks puff up, looking like a meshed netting, and their voice comes out feebly and faintly.
The neck of the Bodhisatta is like a well-rounded small drum. When he speaks, the network of veins is not visible. His voice is loud and booming like the sound of thunder or a drum.
21. The mark of the seven thousand capillaries with their tips touching one another at the throat and diffusing throughout the body the taste of food even if it is as small as a sesamum seed:
The seven thousand capillaries whose upper ends interconnected forming a group, lie at the throat; they appear as though they are waiting to send down the taste of all the swallowed food throughout the body. When the food even as small as the size of a sesamum seed is placed on the tip of the tongue and then eaten, its taste diffuses all over the body. That was why the Bodhisatta was able to sustain his body with a mere grain of rice or with just a palmful of bean soup, etc. during his six-year long practice of austerities (dukkaracariya).
Since it is not so in the case of others, the nutritious essence of all the food eaten by them cannot spread all over their bodies. For this reason, they are much exposed to diseases.
22. The mark of the lion-like chin ( somewhat like that of one who is about to smile):
This chiefly means to draw a comparison only with the lower chin of the lion. Only the lower jaws of the lion has fullness; his upper jaw is not so well formed. Both the upper and lower jaws of the Bodhisatta, however, are full like the lion's lower jaw. They are also comparable to the moon which rises on the twelfth of the bright fortnight.
23. The mark of the teeth numbering exactly forty
What is meant is that the Bodhisatta has twenty upper teeth and twenty lower teeth, making a complete set of forty teeth.
As for others, those who are said to have a complete set of teeth possess only thirty-two in all. The Bodhisatta, however, excels others by having forty teeth, twenty upper and twenty lower.
24. The mark of the teeth proportionately set in a row:
25. The mark of the teeth touching one another with no space in between:
26. The mark of the four canine teeth white and brilliant as the morning star:
Other persons have some teeth protruding and some short and depressed, thus forming an irregular set. On the contrary, the Bodhisatta has even teeth, like pieces of mother-of-pearl uniformly cut by a saw.
Other people have the teeth which are separated from one another or which have gaps between one another like those of a crocodile. Therefore, when they eat and chew fish, meat, etc., the gaps are filled up with particles of food that are stuck in them. It is not so in the case of the Bodhisatta. His teeth stand like diamonds properly fixed in a series on a plank of gold or coral.
Some canine teeth of other people are in a decaying state; thus they are blackened or discoloured. But the Bodhisatta's four canine teeth are extremely white; they are endowed with the kind of brilliance which surpasses that of the morning star.
(In this connection, it may be questioned as to how the learned Brahmins knew the characteristics relating to these teeth when in fact the teeth had not come out yet in the newly born Bodhisatta. The answer is: The learned Brahmins who read the body-marks on the authority of their Brahmanical book observed the likely place where the teeth would grow, and in anticipation of what would certainly take place on the Bodhisatta's coming of age, they predicted as though the teeth had already grown).
(Here something about the treatise on the marks of a great man will again be told as given in the exposition of the Ambattha Sutta and others. On the eve of the appearance of a Buddha, Brahmins of Suddhavasa abode inserted the science of prognostication in the Vedic books. Proclaiming that "these form the prognostication about Buddhas", they gave instructions in the Vedas under the disguise of Brahmins. In the work on the marks of a great man that contains the prognostication about Buddhas, the physical marks of those who would become Buddhas, Pacceka Buddhas, Aggasavakas, Eighty Mahasavakas, the mother and father of a Buddha, his noble attendants or a Universal Monarch are mentioned completely. Therefore the description of the marks of a great man directly occurs in these ancient Vedic texts.
But after the Buddha's attainment of Parinibbana, the treatise on the marks of a Great Man that came into existence by virtue of the Buddha's glory gradually disappeared, starting with one or two gathas. in the same way as the light generated by the sun gradually disappeared after sunset.)
27. The mark of the long, flat and tender tongue:
The tongues of other people may be thick; they may be small, short, rough or uneven. Contrasting with them, the Bodhisatta's tongue is very soft, long, broad and beautiful.
To make the meaning more explicit: The characteristics of the Buddha's tongue could not be seen easily by those wishing to study them after his attainment of Buddhahood. So, in order to dispel the doubts of the youths, Ambattha, Uttara and others, who had come to investigate them, the Buddha demonstrated the softness of his tongue by curling and rolling it round to look like a hard pin (or to look like a rolled food coupon) and then by stroking with it the two sides of the nose; he demonstrated its great length by stroking with it the passage of the two ears; he demonstrated its breadth by covering with it the whole surface of the forehead right up to the edge of the hair. (The tongues of ordinary people cannot come out from the mouth more than one inch.)
28. The mark of the voice having eight qualities as a Brahma's:
Other people have voices which are intermittent, cracked and unpleasant like the caw of a crow. In contrast with them, the Bodhisatta is endowed with a Brahma-like voice. To make it more explicit: the Brahma's voice is pure and clear because it is not effected by bile or phlegm. So also the Bodhisatta's organs of articulation such as the throat, palate, etc. are purified and cleansed by virtue of his accumulated acts of merit. Because of such purity and cleanness, the sound that originates at the navel comes out with clarity, it possesses eight qualities. They are:
6. compactness (it does not go beyond audience),
7. deepness (it is not shallow but forceful), and
What is in fact extraordinary, marvellous and astonishing about this voice is that it is a hundred times, nay, a thousand times sweeter and more pleasant than the extremely melodious voice of a karavika bird. To elaborate: the cry of the karavika is slow, drawl, long protracted and pleasant; it is full, compact and sweet. While sitting on an upper branch of a tree, it warbles, and then it moves onto a lower branch; yet it is able to hear the sound it has made while on the upper branch: so slow and pleasant is its cry.
Having cut open a luscious ripe mango by biting with its beak and drinking the juice that flows out, the karavika warbles; then the four legged animals get intoxicated with the karavikas sound (as though they were rendered unconscious by drunkenness) and begin to gambol with great delight. Other quadrupeds too, that have gone to the grazing ground and are eating and chewing the grass, forget the food in their mouth and stand still, listening to the sound uttered by the karavika. Small animals such as deer, antelopes, etc., who are on the run in fear, fleeing for life as they are chased in great haste by beasts of prey such as lions, leopards and tigers, having forgotten the danger to their lives, stop running only to listen to the karavika's voice without lifting up the foot that has been put down and without putting down the foot that has been lifted up. In the same way, the wild beasts who have been chasing to pounce on their prey become unaware of the food which they are about to eat, stop chasing and listen only to the karavika's cry. Birds flying in the sky spread their wings and stop flying to listen. Fish in the water also keep their hearing organs steady and stop to listen to the song of the karavika. (Buddhavamsa Commentary.)
(Please see the story of the karavika's sound and Queen Asandhimitta in the Anudipani of this volume.)
29. The mark of the very clear blue eyes:
This does not mean to say that both eyes of the Bodhisatta are blue all over. The expression is made as a general statement. In fact, where they should be blue they have the colour of aparajita flower; where they should be yellow and golden they are like the colour of kanikara flower; where they should be red they are like the colour of bandhuka flower; where they should be white they are like the colour of the morning star; where they should be black they are like the colour of black beads. The eyes of the Bodhisatta bear resemblance to an open window in a golden mansion—the window that has the motif of a lion made of rubies at its base. (According to the Jinalankara Tika, the likeness is that of a palace window that has a lion's figure made of rubies and fixed at its bottom on the golden wall.)
30. The mark of the very soft and tender eyelashes like a newly born calf's:
This particular mark is termed gopakhuma lakkhana in the Pali Text. The Pali word gopakhuma refers to the eye (the whole eye) comprising the eye lashes and other parts of the eye. Of all kinds of calves, the eye of a black calf is thick and turbid. That of a red calf is particularly clear and bright. Here in the case of gopakhuma lakkhana, it signifies the eyes of the new born red calf. The eyes of other people are not perfect.
Like the eyes of elephants, rats or crows, some have protruding eyes, and others have eyes with deep sunken eye-sockets. The Bodhisatta's eyes are different. They are like thoroughly washed and polished ruby stones and have soft and smooth tender, fresh, bluish eyelashes growing in a row. This mark of the entire eye is characterized by the eyelashes. (This mark is in effect a description of the whole eye with reference to the eyelashes which form only a part of the eye. What is meant is that the Bodhisatta had the eyes which are not protruding, nor sunken but are clear like ruby stones kept well-washed and polished; with eyelashes which are soft, smooth, tender, fresh and bluish, growing in a row like those of a newly-born red-coloured calf.)
31. The mark of the hair between the two eyebrows (unnaloma):
This hair grows gracefully in the middle of the two eyebrows, directly above the ridge of the nose and at the centre of the forehead. It is pure all over like the Morning Star. It is as soft as the cotton wool ginned and refined a hundred times and dipped in clarified butter. It is white as the colour of simbali, silk-cotton. When it is stretched from the tip with one's hand, it is two cubits long. When it is released from the hand, it coils back clockwise with the tip curling upwards. It is of beauty that attracts and commands veneration of every onlooker like a silver star studded on a pure gold plate, or like pure milk flowing out of a golden vessel, or the Morning Star in the sky that reflects by the sun light at dawn.
32. The mark of the thin layer of flesh that appears by nature like a gold headband on the forehead.
What is meant is that the Bodhisatta has a perfect forehead as well as a perfect head.
The forehead: the thin layer of the flesh on the forehead of the Bodhisatta covers the whole of it rising from end to end, i.e. from the top part of the right ear to the left. This particular layer of flesh being soft, golden in colour, lustrous and extensive on the entire forehead is graceful like a gold band fastened to a royal forehead. In fact, the gold band on a king's forehead (the royal insignia) is an imitation of the forehead of a Bodhisatta for use as a sign of royalty by kings who have no such natural feature). (This is an explanation of how the Bodhisatta is endowed with the perfect forehead).
The head: the head of the Bodhisatta is perfect in all aspects. Unlike the Bodhisatta's, the heads of others are imperfect. Some look like a monkey's as though they were broken in two parts. Others seem to have cracks. Still others have so little flesh that they appear as skulls just covered by the skin. There are also heads disproportionate like a gourd, and there are still others which are curved at the back or protruding (with the occiput bulging). In contrast with them, the Bodhisatta has the head of perfect fullness like a golden baluster as if it had been carved out with a round chisel to make it round, smooth and beautiful.
(This thirty-second mark is mentioned in the Text as unhisasiso. Its meaning can be taken in two ways: (a) having a head which looks as though it were wrapped by a thin layer of flesh on the forehead, and (b) having a round splendid head like a headband made by an expert. Because of its dual meaning, the explanations of both the perfect forehead and the perfect head are given here.)
(The kamma and other factors that bring about these thirty-two major marks are separately discussed in the Anudipani.)
Here end the explanations of the thirty-two major marks.
The Eighty Minor Characteristics
The Bodhisatta, a great man, is also endowed with eighty minor characteristics called asiti anuvyanjana, which accompany the major ones. These eighty minor marks will now be briefly mentioned as they occur in the Jinalankara Tika and other texts.
(1) Closely knitted fingers and toes with no intervening gaps (cit'angulita)
(2) Fingers and toes tapering gradually from the base to the tips (anupubb'angulita).
(3) Round fingers and toes (vatt'angulita). (These are the three characteristics concerning the fingers and toes.)
(4) Red fingernails and toenails (tamba nakhata).
(5) Tall, pointed and prominent fingernails and toenails (tunga nakhata).
(6) Neat and smooth fingernails and toenails (siniddha nakhata). (These are three characteristics concerning the fingernails and toenails).
(7) Neither receding nor protruding ankles, i.e. inconspicuous ankles (nigula gopphakata). (Others' ankles are bulging and conspicuous.)
(8) Evenness of the tips of all ten toes (sama padata). (This is the one characteristic concerning the toes.)
(9) Manner of walking gracefully like an elephant king (gaja saman'akkamata).
(10) Manner of walking gracefully like a lion king (siha saman'akkamata).
(11) Manner of walking gracefully like a hamsa king (hamsa saman'akkamata).
(12) Manner of walking gracefully like a bull king (usabha-saman'akkamata
(13) Manner of walking clockwise (dakkhinavatta gagita). (These are the five characteristics concerning the manner of walking.)
(14) Round knees that are beautiful on all sides (samantato carujannu mandalata). (This is the one characteristic concerning the knees.)
(15) Well developed male organ (paripunna purisavyanjanat) (This is the one characteristic of the male genitalia.)
(16) Navel with uninterrupted lines (acchidda nabhita.)
(17) Deep navel (gambhira nabhita).
(18) Navel with a right turning ringlet (dakkhinavatta nabhita). (These are the three characteristics concerning the navel.)
(19) Thighs and arms like an elephants trunk (dviradakara sadisa-urubhujata). (This is the one characteristic concerning the thighs and arms.)
(20) Well proportionate body (suvibhatta gattata). (By this is meant flawless frame.)
(21) Gradually rising body (anupubba gattata). (By this is meant agreeably formed upper and lower parts of the body.)
(22) Fine body (mattha gattata).
(23) Neither lean nor plump body (anussannananussanna Sabbagattata)
(24) Wrinkle-free body (alina gattata).
(25) Body free of moles, freckles, etc. (tilakadivirahita gattata).
(26) Regularly lustrous body (anupubba rucira gattata).
(27) Particularly clean body (suvisuddha gattata). (More characteristics concerning the body will follow later on.)
(28) Physical strength equal to that of one thousand crores of Kalavaka elephants (kotisahassa hatthibala dharanata).
(This is the one characteristic concerning the physical strength.)
(29) Prominent nose like a golden goad (tunga nasata). (This is the one characteristic concerning the nose.)
(30) Dark red gums (suratta dvijamamsata). (In the Samantacakkhu Dipani occurs rattadvijamukhata, red lips.) (One characteristic concerning the gums.)
(31) Clean teeth (suddha dantata).
(32) Neat and smooth glossy teeth (siniddha dantata). (Two characteristics concerning the teeth.)
(33) Pure faculties of sense such as eyes, etc. (visuddh'indriyata) . (One characteristic concerning the sense-faculties of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body.)
(34) Round canine teeth (vatta dathata). (One characteristic concerning the canine teeth.)
(35) Red lips (ratt'otthata). (One characteristic concerning the lips.)
(36) Long mouth-cavity (ayata vadanata). (One characteristic concerning the mouth.)
(37) Deep lines on the palms (gamhhira panilekhata).
(38) Long lines (ayata lekhata)
(39) Straight lines (uju lekhata).
(40) Beautifully formed lines (surucira-santhana lekhata).
(41) Halo spreading around the body in a circle (parimandala kayappabhavantata.
(42) Full cheeks (paripunna kapolata). (One characteristic concerning the cheeks.)
(43) Long and broad eyes (ayatavisala nettata).
(44) Very clear eyes with five kinds of colour (panca pasadavanta nettata). (Two characteristics concerning the eyes.)
(45) Eyelashes with their tips curling upwards (kunjitagga bhamukata). (One characteristic concerning the eyelashes.)
(46) Soft, thin and red tongue (mudu tanuka ratta jivhata) (The Samantacakkhu Dipani Volume I, says that by this characteristic should be taken three things: softness, thinness and redness while other teachers wish to take only two: softness and thinness. Here in this book the charcteristic is mentioned as one in accordance with the Jinalankara Tika) (One characteristic concerning the tongue.)
(47) Long and beautiful ears (ayata-rucira kannata). (In this connection too, two things are taken by others.) (One characteristic concerning the ears.)
(48) Varicosity-free vein (nigganthi sirata). (There are no varicose veins.)
(49) Neither receding nor protruding veins (i.e. inconspicuous veins) (niggula sirata). (Two characteristic concerning the veins.)
(50) Round elegant head like a circular umbrella (vatta-chatta nibha caru sisata). (One characteristic concerning the head.)
(51) Long, broad and graceful forehead (ayata-puthu nalata sobhata). (One characteristic concerning the forehead.)
(52) Natural and beautiful eyebrows that need not be groomed (susanthana bhamukata).
(53) Soft eyebrows (sanha bhamukata).
(54) Eyebrows in regular order (anuloma bhamukata).
(55) Large eyebrows (mahanta bhamukata).
(56) Long eyebrows ayata bhamukata). (Five characteristics concerning the eyebrows.)
(57) Supple body (sukumala gattata).
(58) Very relaxed body (ativiya-somma gattata).
(59) Very bright body (ativiya-ujjalita gattata).
(60) Dirt-free body (absence of body secretion) (vimala gattata).
(61) Non-sticky body (the body skin always looks fresh) (komala gattata).
(62) Neat and handsome body (siniddha gattata).
(63) Fragrant body (sugandha tanuta). (Fifteen characteristics concerning the body including the above eight from No. 20 to No. 27)
(64) Body hairs of equal length (no difference in length (sama lomata
(65) Non-sticky hairs (komala lomata).
(66) Every body hair coiling clockwise (dakkhinavatta lomata).
(67) Blue body hairs like the colour of broken stones of collyrium (bhinn'anjana-sadisa-nila lomata). (The Samantacakkhu Dipani says that it is the blue hair on the head that has the splendour of a golden mountain.)
(68) Round body hairs (vatta lomata
(69) Smooth body hairs (siniddha lomata). (Six characteristics concerning the hairs of the body.)
(70) Very subtle inhaling and exhaling breath (atisukhuma-assasapassasa dharanata). (One characteristic concerning the respiration.)
(71) Fragrant mouth (sugandha mukhata). (One characteristic concerning the mouth.)
(72) Fragrant top of the head (sugandha muddhanata). (One characteristic concerning the top of the head.)
(73) Jet-black hair (sunila kesata).
(74) Hair curling clockwise (dakkhinavata kesata).
(75) Naturally well groomed hair (susanthana kesata.
(76) Neat and soft hair (siniddha kesata sanha kesata).
(77) Untangled hair (alulita kesata).
(78) Hair of equal length (sama kesata). (Other people have long and short hair mixed. It is not so in the case of the Bodhisatta.)
(79) Non-sticky hair (komala kesata). (Seven characteristics concerning the hair.)
(80) Aggregate of luminous rays called ketumala halo which shines forth from the top of the head. The Bodhisatta is marvellous by means of the ketumalahalo (ketumalaratana vicittata). (One characteristic concerning the halo.)
The Bodhisatta possesses the above eighty minor characteristics. (The enumeration is made here in accordance with that contained in the Jinalankara Tika)
The aforementioned major and minor marks can also be termed as satapunna characteristics. The Bodhisatta has performed a hundred-fold of the total number of times all other beings have done each kind of meritorious deed throughout the innumerable world-systems. Hence his merits are known as satapunna, 'a hundredfold merit', whereby he acquires the thirty-two major and eighty minor marks as a result.
In this way, having examined the Bodhisatta's major and minor marks carefully, the learned Brahmins predicted saying: "The Prince will attain Buddhahood." After discussing among themselves the matter of naming of the Prince, they gave him the name of Siddhattha as an omen indicating that he would successfully accomplish the task for the benefit of the entire world.
(Regarding the Five Bhikkhus (Pancavaggi) headed by the Venerable Kondanna, the Sarattha Dipani VinayaSub-Commentary on the one hand and Jataka Commentary and the Buddhavamsa Commentary on the other narrate different stories. The story of the Five Bhikkhus will be inserted here according to the versions of the said Sub-Commentary and Commentaries.)
The Sarattha Dipani's version
At the time of the birth of the Bodhisatta, out of the learned Brahmins who were the selected mark-readers, such as Rama, Dhaja, Lakkhana, Manti, Kondanna, Bhoja, Suyama and Sudatta, the five led by Kondana foretold saying: "The Prince would certainly become a Buddha." Thereafter, having handed over to their families the remunerations they received at the prognostication ceremony, they put on the robes, dedicating themselves to the Bodhisatta as they had come to the conclusion: "That great man, the Bodhisatta Prince, will not remain in a household life so he will definitely attain Buddhahood." These Brahmins had been well-versed in the Vedas since their boyhood; they had been also treated as teachers since then. The five agreed among themselves to renounce the world, for they thought to themselves: "We will not be able to cut off the tangles of our families when we get married. It is therefore better for us to go forth early." Hence their dedication to the Bodhisatta immediately after their prognostication when they were still young. Taking up their residence in forest dwellings, they sometimes enquired, asking lay people: "Friends, has the young prince renounced the world?" "How can you see the prince's renunciation? He is enjoying royal luxuries in the midst of female dancers in the three palaces as though he were a divine being," replied the people. Then the Brahmins, thinking that "The wisdom of the Prince is not mature yet," went on waiting unworriedly for the moment of the Bodhisatta's renunciation. (This is the version given in the third volume of the Sarattha Dipani Tika.)
The Version of the (Commentaries on the Buddhavamasa and the Jataka
After naming the Bodhisatta Prince Siddhattha, the select eight learned Brahmins went home and summoned their sons and said: "Dear sons, we are now advanced in age. Prince Siddhattha, son of our King Suddhodana, will certainly become an Enlightened One. We do not know for sure, however, whether we will see the young prince attain Buddhahood. When he does, take up an ascetic life in the dispensation of that Buddha"
Out of the eight learned Brahmins, seven lived till old age but expired before the Bodhisatta's renunciation and were reborn in good or evil existences in accordance with their respective deeds. Kondana alone survived in good health. When the Bodhisatta attained manhood and renounced the world, he went to Uruvela forest and mused: "Delightful is this region! It is agreeable to one who is inclined to engage in meditation" And while the Bodhisatta was then devoting himself to Dukkaracariya asceticism in that forest, Kondanna, learning the news "The Bodhisatta has become a recluse", went to the sons of the late seven Brahmins and said: "Young men, Prince Siddhattha is said to have become a recluse. The Prince will certainly attain Buddhahood. If your fathers were still alive, they would have gone forth and taken up an ascetic life themselves today. If you are desirous of becoming recluses yourselves, do come along. I am going to follow that noble Bodhisatta and become an ascetic." Of the seven Brahmins' sons, three remained lay men as they did not agree to go forth.
Only the remaining four agreed and became recluses with Kondanna as their leader. These five persons came to be known as Pancavaggi Theras. (This is the narration given in the Buddhavamsa and Jataka Commentaries.)
After King Suddhodana had his son prognosticated, he was reported by the Brahmins that "the son will renounce and become a recluse". So he asked, "On seeing what will my son go forth?" "On seeing the four omens—an old man, a sick man, a dead man and a recluse—your son will renounce the world and become a recluse," answered the Brahmins unanimously.
On hearing the Brahmins' reply, King Suddhodana ordered, saying: "If my son will renounce after coming across those four omens, from now on, do not permit any person who is aged, ailing or a recluse to visit my son; they would create samvega in him and make him bent on renunciation. I do not want my son to become a Buddha. I want to see him only as a Universal Monarch ruling over the four great islands with two thousand surrounding smaller ones and travelling in the sky by means of the Wheel-Treasure in the company of followers thirty-six yojanas in extent." Then guards in sufficient number were placed around the four quarters at every distance of one gavuta to ensure the absence of the aged, the sick, the dead and the recluse within the sight of the Bodhisatta.
That very day an auspicious head-washing ceremony was held at which eighty thousand royal relatives were present and they discussed among themselves thus: "Whether the Prince will become a Buddha or a Universal Monarch, each of us will give a son to wait upon him, If he becomes a Buddha, he will travel magnificently in the company of recluses who are of royal blood. Or, if he becomes a Universal Monarch, he will tour majestically being accompanied by eighty thousand princes." Then each of them promised to present a son (to the Bodhisatta).
On the seventh day after the birth of the Bodhisatta Prince, his mother Mahamaya Devi, reaching the end of her life-span, passed away and was reborn in Tusita abode as a Deva bearing the name of Santusita.
(The mother died not because she had given birth to the Bodhisatta, but because her life-span had come to an end. It may be recalled that even when the Bodhisatta Setaketu Deva made the five great investigations, Mahamaya had only ten months and seven days more to live. Nobody else is worthy of occupying the lotus-like womb of the Bodhisatta's mother, for it is like the perfumed chamber which has housed a Buddha or his statue or an object of worship. Besides, while the Bodhisatta's mother is still alive, it is not appropriate to keep her aside and make another woman Chief Queen. So his the usual course of event (dhammata) that the Bodhisatta's mother should remain alive for only seven days after giving birth to her son. Hence the passing away of the mother at that time.)
The age of Mahamaya Devi at the time of demise
To the query, "In which period of life did Mahamaya Devi die?", the answer is: "She died in the middle period." To elaborate since desires and passions abound in sentient beings in the first period of life, a woman who conceives in this period cannot take good care of her pregnancy. Accordingly, the baby at that time is susceptible to many diseases. But the womb of the mother remains clean when she passes two thirds of her middle period and reaches the last third. And whoever takes conception in such a clean womb is free from diseases. Therefore the Bodhisatta's mother, after enjoying palatial luxuries in the first period of life, gave birth to her son and died when she came to the third and last stage of her middle period of life (Digha-Nikaya Commentary, Vol.II, in the exposition of Bodhisatta dhammata)
Strictly following the exposition of' this Commentary, famous teachers of old have composed an aphorism in a verse form to state that the mother of the Bodhisatta passed away when she was precisely fifty six years, four months and twenty seven days old. There is also another one saying that the royal mother conceived at the age of fifty-five years, six months and twenty days.
Further explanation in brief: At the time when the mother Maya was born as a human being, the general life-span was one hundred years which may be equally divided into three periods, each consisting of thirty—three years and four months She enjoyed her luxurious life in the first period of thirty—three years and four months. If the second period of thirty—three years and four months are made into three portions, each portion covers eleven years, one month and ten days. The sum of the first two portions will then be twenty—two years, two months and twenty days. To his, add the number of years and in months of the first period, and the result is fifty—five years, six months and twenty days. At this age did the mother conceive the Bodhisatta. Hence the second aphorism.
If and when the ten months' duration of pregnancy as well as the seven days that followed the Bodhisatta's birth are added to the fifty five years, six months and twenty days, the sum total will be fifty-six years, four months and twenty-seven days. Hence the first aphorism.
(An elaboration of the meaning of the subject—matter under discussion is given in the Samantacakkhu Dipani, Vol.1.)
Whether the royal mother Maya was reborn as a male or a female celestial being
To the question as to whether the royal mother Maya was reborn as a male or a female celestial being in the abode of Tusita, the answer no doubt should he that she was reborn as a male.
In this matter, after superficially studying the Pali statement mataram pamukham katva" some scholars say or write that she was reborn as a female deity; but such reliable works as the Theragatha Commentary and others hold that "Maya was only a male deity in Tusita world of gods." Concerning Thera Kaludayis verses in the Dasaka Nipata of the Theragtha Commentary, Vol.II, it is said:
"devupapatti pana purisabhaven' eva jata, " (Maya's) rebirth in the abode of gods took place only in the form of a male"
Also in the section on the Bodhisatta's auspicious birth, the Jinalankara Tika, it is mentioned: "Yasma ca Bodhisattena vasitakucchi nama cetiyagabbhasadisa hoti, na sakka annena , sattena avasitum va paribhun va. Tasma Bodhisattamatamata gobbhavutthanato sattame divase kalam katva Tusitapure devaputto hutva nibbatti," "The womb in which the Bodhisatta had stayed was like the chamber of a cetiya: other beings did not deserve to stay there or to use it. Therefore seven days after giving birth, the Bodhisatta's mother died and became 'son of a god' in the celestial city of Tusita."
Still in the exposition on the Visatigatha of the Manidipa Tika, Vol.1, it is asserted: "Siri, Mahamaya hi Bodhisattam vijayitva sattahamattam thatva ito cavitva Tusitabhavane purisabhaven'eva nibbata, na itthibhavena ti", "Having lived only for seven days after giving birth to the Bodhisatta, Siri Mahamaya passed away from this world and was reborn only as a man (male deity), not as a woman (female deity). It is a regular incident that all the mothers of Bodhisattas should live only seven days after childbirth and that they should all die to be reborn in Tusita Deva abode only as a god and never as a goddess." Therefore the fact that Mahamaya was born only as a male deity (Deva) in Tusita should be accepted without doubt.
The appointment of attendants for the Bodhisatta
For his son Prince Siddhattha, King Suddhodana selected and appointed two hundred and forty female attendants who were clean and fair, skilled in carrying out their duties such as breast-feeding, by giving sweet milk free of pungent, salty and other unpleasant tastes, bathing, carrying and nursing.
The king also appointed sixty male servants to help the female attendants and further appointed sixty officers who would oversee the duties of these men and women.
Of the two hundred and forty female attendants, sixty were to breast-feed the Bodhisatta Prince, another sixty were to bathe him with scented water and dress him, still another sixty were to carry him supporting and clasping with their hands, or in their laps and so on for long; and the remaining sixty had to share the same duty by taking over the Prince in turn. Thus the nursing work was distributed among two hundred and forty female attendants. With the sixty male servants and sixty officers, there were altogether three hundred and sixty persons responsible for looking after the little prince.
All this is given in accordance with the Sutta Mavavagga and its Commentary where mention is definitely made of appointment of attendants by King Bandhuma for his son Prince Vipassi (the Bodhisatta). On this basis, the appointment by King Suddhodana has been described.
In the Swezon Kyawthin, (Question No. 33 of Volume 1) this is asked in verse form by Shin Nandadhaja, the celebrated Samanera of Kyeegan village. The answer given by Kyeethai Layhtat Sayadaw is: "There are 60 Myanmar hours in one day and one night; since four nurses had to take charge in turn every one hour, multiply 60 by 4, and the result is 240."
It' we take the reckoning made in the Swezon kyawthin, "four nurses had to take charge in turn every one hour" in the sense that one was to feed, and another one was to bathe and dress , still another one to tend to him, supporting and clasping with her hands or in her lap, and the last one to carry on the same task after taking over the Prince in turn, then it is quite in consonance with what is contained in the exposition of the Mahapadana Sutta of the aforesaid Sutta Mahavagga Commentary.
The selection of Attendants as described in the Temiya Jataka
In the exposition of the Temiya Jataka, Jataka Commentary, the detailed description of how King of Kasi chose attendants for his son Temiya (the Bodhisatta) is recorded as follows:
(1) A tall woman was not appointed nurse because the child's neck is apt to become elongated for having to suck milk while remaining close to her bosom.
(2) A short woman was not appointed nurse because the child's neck is apt to become stunted for having to suck milk while remaining close to her bosom.
(3) A thin woman was not appointed nurse because the child's limb such as thighs, etc., are apt to be hurt for having to suck milk while remaining close to her bosom.
(4) A fat woman was not appointed nurse because the child is apt to become crippled with its thighs, knees and legs deformed for having to suck milk while remaining close to her bosom.
(5) A long-breasted woman was not appointed nurse because the child's nose is apt to become snub as it might be pressed by her long breasts as he sucks milk while remaining close to her bosom.
(6) A woman with too dark a complexion was not appointed nurse because her milk is very cold and not suitable for the child in the long run.
(7) A woman with too white a complexion was not appointed nurse because her milk is very warm and not suitable for the child in the long run.
(8) A woman suffering from cough was not appointed nurse because her milk is very sour and not suitable for the child.
(9) A woman suffering from phthisis was not appointed nurse because her milk is pungent and bitter and not suitable for the child.
Thus such women were not appointed attendants; only those free from all defects were appointed, so says the above mentioned Commentary.
Relying on the statement of the Commentary, Manli Sayadaw describes the same selection of attendants in verse form (v. 498) in his Mahasutakari Magha Deva Linka Thit, (The author then quotes the whole verse in toto, but we have skipped it over.)
The upbringing of the Bodhisatta by Mahapajapati Gotami through breast-feeding
Though attendants were selected and appointed for Prince Siddhattha in the said manner, it was his aunt (or step mother) Mahapajapati Gotami who more often than not breast-fed him. To explain: After the demise of Mahamaya Devi, King Suddhodana raised the Bodhisatta's aunt to the status of Chief Queen. Two or three days after the birth of the Bodhisatta by Queen Maya, his aunt Mahapajapati Gotami bore Prince Nanda. When Queen Maya passed away on the seventh day after the Bodhisatta's birth, Mahapajapati Gotami entrusted her own son Prince Nanda (who was only three or four days old) to nurses, and she herself breast-fed the Bodhisatta and looked after him. It was in the lap of his aunt (and step mother) that the Bodhisatta stayed most of the time. (From the exposition of the Dakkhinavibhanga Sutta in the Uparipannas Commentary.)
In this way, Prince Siddhattha the Bodhisatta grew up blissfully in a gradual manner under the care and treatment of hosts of attendants and in great pomp and splendour.