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Dr. Tin Htut

October 2000

       Out of eight glorious victories of the Buddha over his opponents the victory upon Baka Brahma was the most significant in terms of philosophical beliefs. Baka Brahma and his seventy-two followers believed that they were eternal. While residing in Jetavana monastery at Savatthi, the Lord saw in his vision that it was time to straighten the view of these Brahmas who were in the realm of Maha Brahma, the highest abode among the first Jhana planes.

       Once upon a time Baka Brahma was a human in one of the worlds in a universe where humans could live for a period of 100,000 years. He was a well-to-do Brahmin by the name of Kesava, but renounced all his wealth as he realised the ill effects of a householder’s life and became an ascetic. He practised Samatha meditation as a recluse and had achieved fourth Jhana or mental absorption. He was then endowed with supernatural powers and could see distant things and create illusions.

       During that time a group of five hundred merchants who were crossing a desert in a caravan of carts had lost their way. They had been travelling for seven days and had exhausted of their supplies of food and water. The ascetic Kesava saw them in his vision and in sympathy for their suffering he created an oasis, where they replenished themselves with water and food.

       At another instance Kesava saw in his vision hostages who were taken by a band of robbers while the hermit was residing near a remote hamlet beside Eine River. After hearing their agonies he sympathised with their misery and transformed himself into a king accompanied by fully armed troops. The bandits believed the illusion to be a real army and fled. Thus the villagers were saved from their hostage takers.

       Likewise, a serpent king by the name of Gangaya chased a group of naval officers as they contaminated the serpent’s waters with refuse. When the ascetic saw this danger he transformed himself into a Garuda, a giant hawk and threatened the serpent in order to save the crew.

       The would-be Gotama Buddha by the name of Kappaya hermit was a disciple (Antevaseka) of the ascetic Kesava in those days. The results of these Kamma and the absorption of the fourth Jhana concentration for nearly 100,000 years had led Kesava to reborn as a great Brahma god in Vehapphala, the lowest of the seven realms of Fourth Jhana Planes. As a Rupa Brahma god, Baka had lived for a period equivalent to the age of 500 universes.

       When he died he was reborn in Subhakinha, the highest realm of Third Jhana planes, where he lived as a Brahma god for another 64 universes. After dying from that Brahma existence he was reborn in Abhassara, the highest of the three realms of Second Jhana planes. He lived there as a Brahma god for 8 more universes and was reborn as Baka Brahma in the highest realm of the First Jhana planes..

       Baka was enjoying the immense span of existence with his 72 Brahma followers. Although he had died three times successively during this period he did not realised them, as the transition between these existences was so rapid that it seemed to be a continuous existence. He was regarding himself to be accomplished in a perfect state of eternality.

       When the Buddha saw him in his vision Baka was proclaiming that Brahmas were the highest and noblest of all and that there was no other superior being or a perfect state, which could be called 'Nibbana.' Baka assumed that Brahmas were free from ageing, ailments, death and other forms of suffering and was therefore the Nibbana. To correct his view Lord Buddha appeared instantly before Baka and his 72 Brahma followers.

       When Baka saw the Buddha he greeted him. "Welcome Ashin Gotama to our abode of Brahmas. Please strive hard and if you reborn as a Brahma you will be free from suffering." There were other Brahmas from the higher realms when Baka spoke those words. The Buddha replied, "My dear Brahmas, Baka has been deluded with this wrong view and is in total darkness. He is like a caged bird inviting a free one to come into his confinement to be free and happy. He is totally blinded by the wrong view and is assuming that the existence of Brahma is the Nibbana. Oh, how naive is he to overlook a potential danger. He has mistaken impermanence for permanence, and suffering as pleasure. He doesn’t seem to know that Nibbana really exists."

       Then Baka argued that he was not the only one who held this view, but all his seventy-two followers had the same view. He confirmed that he and his followers had done good Kamma together to obtain this status and that they had achieved Nibbana since they are free from birth, ageing, ailment and death.

       The Buddha replied, "My dear Baka you have lived as a Brahma for only 136432 Antara kappas or in other words only 100,000 Niyabbuda years (10 36). You have not surpassed Jati, Jaya, and Marana yet. I certainly foresee that you will die, but you are lacking wisdom to foresee your demise."

       Baka replied, "If you can tell us our past details we will believe you."

       Then the Buddha related their past lives and on how they had strive to obtain the present status. The Buddha answered all the questions posed to him by Baka. Finally in short of questions he tried to test the Buddha’s supra-mundane power and asked, "Now I shall disappear from your sight, you just try to find me if you can, my dear colleague."

       The Buddha accepted the challenge and replied, "Baka if you have the might, go ahead and try me."

       Baka tried in vain to disappear from the Buddha’s sight. He did not have the power to overcome Buddha’s ability to see everything.

       Then the Buddha took his turn and asked; "Now Baka, I will hide from your sight. You can try to find me."

       Baka still thought he had an equal capability to the Buddha and replied, "Try if you can."

       The Buddha then disappeared right in front of Baka and the rest of the Brahmas and hid from their view. All the Brahmas were amazed and tried to search the Buddha. From his invisibility state the Buddha uttered a stanza which had the following meanings and made his presence known. "I see the dangers of existence. I neither wish any existence nor cling to any."

       The Brahmas heard the voice, but could not see the Buddha. They were taken aback and admitted unequivocally that the Buddha was the greatest and mightiest of all. They admired the Buddha and praise him with the following words; "There is no equality to Lord Buddha in all the three classes of existence, neither among Brahmas, nor in Devas and Humans. The Buddha has all the powers, he is omniscient."

       All the Brahmas who were present discarded their wrong views and converted into the right view. They all took refuge in the Buddha saying, "We will follow the teachings of Lord Buddha."

        Lord Buddha then expounded the Dhamma, the Four Noble Truths to the audience of Brahmas including Baka. After that he returned to the abode of humans instantly. This is the fifth glorious victory of the Buddha in terms of chronology, but the most important one in respect to the position (eighth) of the Buddha as the Supreme Being of all the universes. In order to have more faith in the Buddha I have translated this editorial article published in Burmese from Myat Mingala Journal March 2000; 15(9):p13-15


  1. 'Maha Buddhawun,' by Tipitakathara Mingun Sayadawgyi U Vicittasara Bivamsa
  2. 'Myanmar Encyclopaedia,' vol 7
  3. 'Pali-Myanmar dictionary,' by Ledi Pandita U Maung Gyi

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