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The Legend of Dipañkara Buddha






[New Series, Volume VI]

[London, Trübner and Company]


{Scanned and edited by Christopher M. Weimer, May 2002. The sequence ~m represents an m-tilde in the original.}

p. 377

ART. XIV.--The Legend of Dipañkara Buddha. Translated from the Chinese (and intended to illustrate Plates XXIX. and L., 'Tree and Serpent Worship'). By S. BEAL.

FROM a brief examination of a work in the India Office Library, called "K'ai yuen shºi kiau," (one volume of which is unfortunately missing), I find that the number of books included in the Chinese Buddhist Canon, down to the time of Tchi-Shing, the compiler of the work in question (who lived A.D. 730 during the Tang dynasty (618-904 A.D.), and shortly after Hwen-Thsang), amounted altogether to 1076, divided into 5048 chapters (kiouen), and included within 480 wrappers (chih). Of these, 330 belong to the "Little vehicle," and 968 to the "Great vehicle," leaving 108 miscellaneous and unclassified. Of the "Little vehicle," 240 are Sûtras, in 618 chapters, and 48 wrappers; 54 belong to the Vinaya Pi.taka, in 446 chapters and 45 wrappers; 36 belong to the Abidharma Pi.taka, in 698 chapters and 72 wrappers. Of the 968 belonging to the "Great vehicle," 515 are Sûtras, in 2173 chapters and 203 wrappers; 26 belong to the Vinaya Pi.taka, in 54 chapters and 5 wrappers; and 97 belong to the Abidharma Pi.taka, in 518 chapters and 50 wrappers.

   Amongst other works named in this valuable Thesaurus is one bearing the title "Fu-pen-hing-tsi-king," i.e. "Miscellaneous Notices respecting the Birth and History of Buddha," translated by Djinakûta (or Djñânakûta), a native of Gandhâra, in Northern India, who lived in the time of the Sui dynasty (581-617 A.D.). From this work I have selected the following legend of Dipañkara Buddha, to illustrate two of the sculptures occurring at Sanchi and Amravati, and represented in Pl. XXIX. and Pl. L., "Tree and Serpent Worship." I can have little doubt that these p. 378 identifications will be allowed to be plausible at least, and perhaps more than plausible.

   The legend begins with the previous history of Dipañkara, when he was an attendant on Ratnabhava Buddha:--

   At this time the world-honoured one addressed Ananda as follows:--"Ananda! I remember in ages gone by, too numerous for me to utter, that there was a sacred Chakravarti Râja, called Sudarsana, who, having subdued the four regions (i.e. the world), governed men according to law. During his reign there were no punishments of whipping or death--no soldier's weapons to torture or destroy, but all was prosperity and peace, and the people lived virtuously and religiously. Ananda! the city in which Sudarsana lived was called Jambunada, the walls from east to west were twelve yôjanas in length, and from north to south seven yôjanas. Ananda! that city of Jambunada was in a remarkable degree beautifully adorned and clean. The four precious substances were exclusively used in the garniture of it,--to wit, yellow gold, white silver, crystal and cornelian. Around the city there were seven distinct walls, each wall seven 'sin' (i.e. 56 cubits) in height, and three 'sin' (24 cubits) in breadth. Around this city, moreover, were seven successive railings beautifully carved, etc. [Here follows the usual description of a perfectly adorned city.] At this time, Ananda! there was a Buddha born called Ratnabhava, etc. This Buddha had formerly as a Bôdhisatwa lived in this city of Jambunada; and now he approached the city one day early in the morning to beg, at which time countless Devas descended to do him honour, and surrounded him as with a retinue, etc. At this time there was a certain village outside the city, one of whose inhabitants was going to be married to a person within the city, and on entering within the walls, he saw the place fully adorned and swept. Being filled with astonishment and reverence, he asked some one he met--'What is going on here?' The person replied--'There is a Buddha born called Ratnabhava, etc.; he is just going to enter the city to beg his food, and therefore these preparations have been made.' And then he went on to tell p. 379 the villager all about the excellences, etc., of Tathâgata, and of the Law and the Church. The villager, having heard the glorious nature of the three gems thus described, was filled with joy. He exulted amazingly, and reflected thus, 'Ratnabhava, etc., is seldom seen in the world. I will now go straight to him.' So thinking, he forthwith mixed with a crowd of citizens, and went together with them to the place where Ratnabhava was. Having arrived there, he thought within himself, 'If this Tathâgata has indeed acquired entire wisdom so as to know all hearts, he will know mine, and therefore he ought first of all to address himself to me in some consolatory figure or parable.' At this time Ratnabhava Buddha, knowing that man's heart, took the lead, and immediately addressed him and spoke. Then that villager was filled with joy; he exulted exceedingly. And because his vow was thus fulfilled, he respectfully requested Buddha to partake of his hospitality on the succeeding day. Then Buddha remained silent, on which the villager, accepting this silence for consent, was filled with joy, and went back to his house to make due preparations. Then the four Devarâjas, Brahmâ, Sakra, and the rest, and all the multitude of Devas, bearing every kind of offering, came to present them to Tathâgata. At that time the villager, coming to his house, on that very night arranged every kind of delicate food, of exquisite flavour and most pleasing taste. Having arranged it thus, he got up very early the next day, and began sweeping his house and sprinkling all sorts of perfumed water about it, and scattering all round flowers of the greatest beauty and choicest odor; then having arranged a seat, he sent messengers to tell Buddha, saying, 'All things are ready, oh, would that you would come to my humble dwelling!'

   "Then Ratnabhava, early in the morning, putting on his robes, and taking his alms-bowl, surrounded by numberless followers, went to receive the proffered hospitality. Arrived there, his disciples took their seats in due order. The villager, having seen Ratnabhava seated, immediately with his own hand offered to Tathâgata every kind of exquisite food and drink, speaking thus, 'Eat, my Lord, and all the p. 380 congregation, according to your desire.' When they had so eaten, still the provisions remained unexhausted, on which the villager thought thus, 'The meats and the drinks remain undiminished; doubtless this is in consequence of the miraculous power of Tathâgata adding continually to them according to the decrease from consumption. Now, then, I will go call my relatives to come and behold Tathâgata, so that when they have seen and have eaten, and are full, I may have further joy.' Again, he thought thus, 'Wonderful! wonderful, indeed, beyond all calculation, is the extent of the power of Buddha: for here come all my relatives, unbidden by any one, to assist and help me; there is no need for me, therefore, to invite a single person; and without using any effort, all things again arrange themselves as I would have them do.' Then Ratnabhava, after the feast, repeated such portions of the Law as were appropriate, for the sake of the villager, to his great joy; [the result of which was that he attained a new heart and entire peace.] Thus the villager and his friends, having heard the Law, arrived at Supreme Wisdom, and each went to his home. (This happy result having followed, the villager then said:) 'Oh, may I in future attain to the perfect knowledge of this Ratnabhava Tathâgata.' And again he said, 'Oh, would that I, in the midst of the great congregation, might thus be able to deliver the Law, and cause the hearts of men to rejoice, just as this Ratnabhava Tathâgata has preached among his congregation, and caused the Bhikshus to arrive at peace and unity of conduct!' Then that villager, having paid full and repeated reverence to Tathâgata, entered the community, shaved his head, left his home, and became a Bhikshu.

   "Ananda, after an innumerable number of asa~mkhyeyas of ages, this Bhikshu again encountered a Buddha, who was born in the world under the name of Prabhâkara Tathâgata. Then this Bhikshu, paying religious worship to this Buddha, and observing the precepts of personal purity, became one of his disciples, as before. In this condition he once more prayed, 'Oh, that I, in virtue of the merit I have acquired, may, during my future births from age to age, escape being p. 381 born in the inferior paths!' At this time Prabhâkara Buddha, well acquainted with his prayer, delivered this prediction in reference to him, and said, 'Virtuous one, in ages to come, after endless asa~mkhyeyas of kalpas, you shall attain the condition of Buddha Tathâgata, etc., and your name shall be Dipañkara.' [And so he was born, after the manner of every Buddha, from the right side of his mother.] Meantime Dipañkara Bôdhisatwa, with every faculty and function perfect, and of great grace of person, day by day grew up to manhood. Dwelling in the palace provided for him, he indulged himself in every pleasure [the five pleasures]. But, in the midst of all, a thought arose in him that all these joys were but for a moment. Having thought of this, he left his home, shaved his head, and became a recluse; he put on the kashâya garments of a hermit, and left all connexions with the world. Then he sought the attainment of Supreme Wisdom, and arrived at complete emancipation. Afterwards, using his Divine faculty of sight, he reflected thus: 'Who will be the first to hear and receive the true Law?' Immediately he saw that the world was without any one fit for so high a privilege. Again he reflected (looked) three times, but still found no one. Thus he lived in the world three thousand years, but still remained alone without any disciple. After three thousand years, Dipañkara thought thus: 'All men are sunk in sin, and fascinated this long time by the deceptions of sense. I must now convert them, and give them understanding.' Reflecting thus, he caused the appearance of a city to proceed from his lamp and fix itself in space. He made all the buildings to appear as if constructed of crystal, and outside the city every kind of Tâla-tree made of the seven precious substances, and avenues and gardens (as before described). Suddenly the people of Djambu (i.e. of the world) saw this city from its four walls emit very fierce flames, bright and burning hot. Then great fear filled their breasts, and they congregated together and spoke thus--'Alas! alas! see how yonder abode is burning in flames, surely it will be soon entirely destroyed!' Then they looked for some Buddha to appear to convert and save p. 382 those wretched people. But they only saw the flames still burning, and the people in vain seeking for refuge and shelter. Desiring protection, there was none to protect; they looked for salvation, but there was no one able to save! Then they said again--'Oh, would that that city could be brought near to us, or we to them, that we might extinguish the conflagration!' Just then they saw Devas, Nâgas, Yakshas, Gandharvas, those who were men and not men (Kinnaras),1 come forth from that city, and cry out, 'Why do the flames burn so? Whence comes this fire?' Then there appeared three porchways, one of gold, another of silver, the third of crystal; in the middle of the way were Tâla-trees made of the seven precious substances; from the midst of these trees there came a voice, which said,'Oh, all ye men! Assemble ye in one place, if ye indeed desire to see Dipañkara Buddha Tathâgata, etc., for that Buddha not long hence will descend to Jambudwîpa.' Then all the people of Jambudwîpa went straightway towards those covered ways to see Dipañkara coming forth from the city and descend to Jambudwîpa. At this time Dipañkara, having appeared, took his seat on the Lion throne, and for the sake of those people began to deliver the Law, i.e. in praise of charity, purity, abstinence, and in recommendation of the merit of the religious profession; and then seeing that there were signs of conversion, he delivered the whole Law, as former Buddhas had done, viz. that relating to the four Truths--sorrow, accumulation, deliverance, and the paths. Then on the first day of this preaching there were 6000 myriads of men converted, who became Rahats, and their hearts freed from an external laws. The second day, he converted 5000 myriads of men; the third day 4000 myriads, till the seventh day. After this Dipañkara remained in the world one kalpa."

   Again, Buddha spoke thus to Ananda:--"I remember, in countless ages gone by, there was a king called 'Niang-nu,' (Satruñjaya), of the Kshatriya caste, and duly anointed, according p. 383 to the rule of his ancestors (shan). He lived in a great city called Padma (or Paduma), twelve yôjanas long, seven yôjanas broad; the ground even and smooth [here follows the usual description of a city], equal in every respect to the city Arka of Vaisravana, the Northern Ruler,--on every side equally glorious, so perfectly adorned and beautiful was it, Ananda! that Satruñjaya Râja had a certain rich and eminent Brahman, whose name was Sûryapati, brave and strong, possessed of every species of wealth--gold, gems, elephants, horses, slaves, cattle of every kind, without stint. Within his treasure-house was found every kind of precious substance--yellow gold, white silver, true pearls, lapis lazuli, crystal, cornelian, coral, all entirely complete as the (treasury of) Vaisravana, the Northern King.

   "Ananda! at this time Sûryapati, the great Brahman, on account of the exceeding affection he bore to the King, constantly had conversation with him; and every day, for a short time at least during the day, went to visit him, with scarce any deviation. Ananda! that Satruñjaya Râja at this time had a certain business in hand, which he entrusted to the Brahman Sûryapati to settle, desiring him to decide and judge concerning it well and truly. Sûryapati having equitably disposed of the case, it afterwards entered into the King's head that he would do something to double the prosperity and happiness of this Brahman, and so he divided his kingdom with him, and built him a city called Yen-chü [lord of the boundary], with streets and gates perfectly adorned, and lovely even as the city Padma itself. Ananda! that Sûryapati Râja [called Râja, because he now possessed half the kingdom] had a queen called Chandrottara. Ananda, when Dipañkara Buddha descended from the Tusita heaven, he was incarnated in the womb of Chandrottara, entering through her right side, in the palace of Sûryapati. Ananda, after a time Satruñjaya Râja got to hear the news that the chief lady of Sûryapati had brought forth in the royal palace a boy called Dipañkara, very beautiful to behold, and able to give great joy; unequalled in the world, endowed with all the characteristic marks, pure as a golden p. 384 figure. The young child having been born, his horoscope was taken, and the Brahmans declared that he would be either a Chakravarti or a Buddha; if the former, he would possess the seven insignia, viz. a golden discus, a Divine pearl, a priceless woman, an elephant, horse, lordly minister and treasurer, and every prosperity would attend his reign; but if he be a recluse, then he would arrive at complete enlightenment, and be known by the ten names belonging to a Buddha. Ananda! this child became a recluse, and fulfilled the functions and mission of a Buddha. At this time, Satruñjaya reflected thus:--'Seldom indeed does a "Lord of the World" come to be born; it is difficult to hear such a one, and difficult to see him.' So Satruñjaya sent messengers to the abode of Sûryapati to speak to him thus: 'We hear now that the queen of your majesty has borne a beautiful boy, endowed with all the peculiar marks. We desire to invite that Dipañkara Buddha, etc., to come and live at our city of Padma, and to receive our offerings, and we will send an escort to meet him.' Then those ambassadors, thus instructed, went to the city Yen-chü, and delivered their message. Then Sûryapati Râja, having received the message, was sorrowful, and quickly assembled his council and ministers, and spoke thus:--'Consider well, I pray you, what answer is to be given to this message.' Then all the ministers addressed the King, and said: 'Concerning this matter, we think Dipañkara Buddha himself should be consulted; for he has great charity and compassion.' The Râja Sûryapati replied: 'Such also is my opinion.' Then the Râja and all his ministers went in a body to the place where Dipañkara Buddha was, and having arrived there, (they delivered the message). Then that Buddha assayed to tranquillize the King, and said: 'Mahârâja! compose your heart, and be not distressed; have no fear or grief on this score; for in truth I myself at this time wish to go forth and travel abroad through the various places of the earth, to teach and convert men; for my love extends even to the whole human race.' Then Dipañkara Buddha set out, surrounded by an innumerable body of disciples, and departed. p. 385 Meanwhile Sûryapati escorted him to the borders of his territory, and then, having worshipped at his feet and performed three circuits round him, with many tears, he left him, and returned to his own palace.

   "Now Satruñjaya Râja, hearing that Dipañkara was coming to his dominions, even to the city of Padma, surrounded by clouds of followers, was filled with joy, and ordered forthwith all the roads to be swept, watered, and garnished, even like the fairy city of the Gandharvas. Then the King Satruñjaya published an edict to all within and without the city for a distance of twelve yôjanas, to the effect that whatever persons there were within such distance, none whatever should purchase for themselves flowers or perfume; but in whatever places such were to be bought, that they should be reserved for the King as offerings to Dipañkara Buddha. Then Satruñjaya Râja, accompanied by the four kinds of military escort, in great display, went forth out of the city to meet that Dipañkara Buddha.

   "At this time, on the southern face of the Himâlayas belonging to that country, there was a certain Brahmachâri called Ratna (?). His father and mother belonging to the caste of Brahmans, for seven generations past, without the least defilement or reproach, perfectly versed in the four Vedas, etc. His pure birth was affirmed by the horoscope of a talented soothsayer, and 500 children of illustrious families were present on the auspicious occasion to present him with offerings. [Ananda! you must know that this Ratna, the Brahman, was none other than Maîtreya Bôdhisatwa that now is.]

   "Now amongst the 500 young men who ever attended the person of Ratna, to hear from his mouth the mode of reciting the Sacred Books, there was a particular Brahmachâri called Megha, conspicuous among the rest, almost equal to his master in learning, sixteen years old, and of very graceful appearance, of pure birth during seven generations, his family without reproach, his horoscope also a perfect one. He was incomparable in the world, his body like yellow gold, and his head-dress (or hair) the same; his voice soft and sweet, as p. 386 the voice of Brahmâ. This youth, having learned from the mouth of Ratna the mode of reciting the Sacred Books perfectly, desired at length permission to return home. Ratna, being loth to let Megha go, addressed him thus: 'My son (manava), I have yet one Shaster handed down from Rishis of old times, unknown by sound or by sight to heretics and Brahmans; wait with me, and I will teach it to you.' The youth replied, 'Oh, would that you would instruct me in it!' Then the Brahman taught him this also. Afterwards the youth requested once more to know what else he had to acquire. The Brahman replied, 'There are certain household rules peculiar to the Brahman caste, these also yeu must learn from my mouth for your own guidance and profit.' The youth replied, 'Would that you would teach me these rules!' [The Brahman gave his consent on condition the youth would in return make certain offerings to him.] Then the youth replied, 'I have no such gifts as these to offer to my lord; but I will, by your permission, go beg them all over the world, and then come back and give them to you.' On this the Brahman gave him permission to go even as he desired. Then Megha, having prostrated himself before his master, and having walked round him three times in token of respect, departed.

   "At this time Megha heard that there was a place 500 yôjanas off from the Snowy Mountains called Survacha (?). In that city there was a distinguished Brahman called Tsai-tse-tai, exceedingly rich. This Brahman desired to make offerings to the 60,000 Brahmans who, according to appointment, were met together in assembly called Môcha. Accordingly he had prepared for each individual a parasol, etc., and for the head Brahman (Sthavira) very excellent gifts of gold, together with 1000 cows with their calves, 500 damsels, their bodies beautifully omamented, among whom Shen-chi was chief. And now the year of the Pañcha assembly having expired all but one day, the Brahman youth Megha arrived from the Snowy Mountains, and came to the city, even to the place where the assembly was being held. Then those 60,000 Brahmans, seeing the youth afar off, immediately raised a p. 387 great cry, and said, 'Bravo! How well selected is this place for the Pañcha assembly, for here comes Brahmâ Deva himself to receive the offerings of this congregation!' Then Megha, the young man, replied to these 60,000 Brahmans, and said, 'Call not out in this way, as if I were Brahmâ Deva, for I am in truth a man, and not Brahmâ.' Then the Brahmans said, 'Then who are you?' To which he replied, 'Is it possible that you have not heard of the Brahmachâri who resides on the southern side of the Snowy Mountains, whose name is Ratna, so thoroughly versed in every kind of religious works, with his 500 desciples, of whom Megha is the chief, a youth of sixteen years of age, completely instructed, and equal to his master, with a voice as sweet as that of Brahmâ Deva? Have you Brahmans heard of this before or not?' Then they all answered, 'We have.' Then said Megha, 'Well, then, I am that well-instructed youth,' On this those Brahmans were filled with joy, and cried with a loud voice, 'Bravo! bravo! This assembly is well constituted now that Megha has come to receive its offerings!'

   "At this time the wife of the Brahman Tsai-tse-tih, with Shen-chi and the other damsels, from the top of the balcony saw afar off this youth, so beautiful in appearance, and beyond compare for grace. Then having seen him they conceived great joy in their hearts, and turning to the four quarters of the heavens they did reverence to all the Devas and Spirits, and their hearts secretly entertained this thought, 'Oh, would that this fair youth might overcome in his discourse the Sthavira and all the Brahmans, so that we might get rid of these ungracious companions, and not be given to such contemptible people in marriage!' Then Megha, advancing into the assembly, respectfully turned round three times, after which he advanced straight up to the Sthavira, and, with soft and courteous voice, addressed him thus, 'Venerable sir, what Shaster can you recite?' Then all the 60,000 Brahmans cried out together, 'Megha, respectable youth! ask not such a question of our President, as to what Shaster he can recite; for in truth he is able, according to the rules of our caste, to recite thoroughly from beginning to end all p. 388 the Shasters [or it may be 'recite and maintain'].' Then the youth Megha replied, 'Ye Brahmans, your President may indeed be able to recite from memory all the medical and polite treatises [or works on mechanical arts], but it is only my master who posseeses the scarce and rarely found literature of the Brahmans. For instance, let me ask you, have you a Shaster called "Sien-yeou"1 or no?' Then the 60,000 Brahmans all replied, 'As yet we never heard of such a treatise even by name, much less have we got it, and still less are we able to recite it.' Then Megha replied, 'My master, teaching me the different works of the Law, amongst others instructed me in this Shaster of the Veda called Sien-yeou; and, moreover, I can recite it.' Then all those Brahmans composing the assembly said, 'Be pleased to explain and give us the pleasure of hearing this new Shaster.' Then the youth Megha, occupying a place appointed by the President, with the voice of Brahmâ, recited that Shaster of the Veda known as Sien-yeou. Then all those Brahmans, filled with joy, cried out with one voice, 'Precisely according to our own heart and mind!' Then they joyously requested him to become their President, and partake of the best drink and food provided for such a dignified office. Then Megha, pushing the President, commanded him to come down from his seat, and take his place below; and then himself ascending the seat of honour, received the water and food, after which also he accepted such of the offerings as were fit.

   "Then the great Brahman Ts'ai-tse-tih was distressed with the thought that he had not arranged the laws of the assembly according to the rules of the highest doctrine, forasmuch as the youth Megha declined to accept some of the offerings, whereupon he spake thus, after a profound reverence, to Megha, 'My Lord will surely receive these my gifts, and not cause me to be deficient in my duty to the Assembly!' On which Megha replied, 'Illustrious Brahman, your gifts are superabundant; it is not that there is anything wanting, p. 389 but only that some things are good for me to accept, and others not; and therefore I decline the latter.'

   "Then the vanquished President thought thus within himself, 'For a long time have I coveted these gifts, and now this stripling has come and pushed me down from my place of honour, and taken my reward. If in future births, in return for my present merit, I am born in the world with this youth, then may I have an opportunity of returning him a due recompense!' [Ananda! at that time, I was Megha, and the Brahman was Da.n.dapâni, and the Sthavira was Devadatta, and so in every birth Devadatta through his ignorance has opposed and hated me.]

   "Then Megha, taking with him the various gifts he had received, desired to return towards the Snowy Mountains, in order to offer them to the Brahmachâri there. And so he passed through various villages, towns, cities, and countries, staying and going as he list, observing men and things, till at last he arrived at the city of Paduma and entered it, when lo! he beheld it adorned and beautified to a degree that cannot be described (as we have mentioned above). Then the youth thought thus within himself, 'Why is this city of Paduma thus adorned? Is it possible that some one desires to hold a Môcha meeting here? Or perhaps there is about to be a public sacrifice made in honour of the stars and heavenly mansions; or perhaps there is a public thanksgiving for prosperity, or some distribution of reward; or perhaps this is the time for the assembly of Brahmans; or perhaps the people of this city have heard of my fame, and reported that I am coming, and so desire all the Brahmans to hold a disputation with me; and yet there is no one here who seems to recognize me, or to do me reverence.' Then I1 asked a man I met, and said, 'My good fellow, why is this city so beautifully adorned and decorated?' To which he replied, 'Most learned youth, is it possible that you have not heard that Dipañkara Buddha Tathâgata, etc., has lately expressed a desire to come to this city of Paduma, to declare the Law and p. 390 convert the people, and that on his account all these preparations are being made, and that our King Satruñjaya has ordered all the people to assist in advancing these decorations, and so the inhabitants, wishing to promote their own merit and to honour Dipañkara, have adorned the city as you see?'

   "At this time, Ananda! I remembered that in our Law it is thus written, 'Whatever man possesses the thirty-two signs of supereminent beauty, he will either be a Chakravarti or else a Buddha, of this there can be no doubt.'

   "Then, Ananda! I thought thus, 'I will go straight to the resting place (and examine and see, and if satisfied I will) worship and offer an offering to this Dipañkara Buddha, and ask for myself that in future time I may arrive at the same state of perfection, then afterwards I will go and present my offering to my master the Brahmachâri.'

   "Then again I reflected thus, 'What sacrifice can I offer to this Buddha, and by what means can I increase in myself the seeds of virtue?' Then I considered that all the Buddhas, honoured of men, desire not offerings of money, but only such holy donations as are prescribed in the Law, and that I as yet had no acquaintance with the true meaning of the Law. Nevertheless, I thought I will go and seek to purchase the most beautiful flower I can find, and then offer it to him with the prayer that in future time I also may become a Buddha.' Forthwith I went to a hair-dresser's house, and spoke thus to him, 'Sir, can you sell me that flower?' Whereupon he replied to me thus, 'Respectable youth, is it possible that you have not heard of the orders given by our King Satruñjaya that "whatever chaplets of flowers there are in the city that not one of these shall on any account be sold, because the King himself desires to obtain all such flowers to present them to Buddha"?' On hearing this, I went again and again to the different hair-dressing shops, to try and purchase a wreath of flowers; but in vain, for I got from them no other answer than that I had before received, and could obtain none. Then, as I passed from street to street, making every private inquiry to accomplish my end, p. 391 I chanced to see a dark-clad water girl, whose name was Bhadrâ, secretly take a seven-stalked Utpala flower and put it inside her water pitcher, and then go onwards upon her way. Seeing this I was greatly rejoiced, and forthwith went up to her, and said, 'What are you going to do with that Utpala flower which I saw you put in your pitcher? I will give you 500 gold pieces for it if you will sell it to me.' Whereupon the girl replied, 'Virtuous youth, have you not heard that Dipañkara Buddha, honoured of men, Tathâgata, etc., is now about to enter the city in consequence of the King's invitation? For so it is, that Satruñjaya, our King, has conceived a peculiar reverence for him; and being desirous to establish firmly in himself some ground of merit, has issued orders to all within the city and twelve yôjanas round it, that whatever scented unguents or flowers there be, on no account should these be sold to any private individual, as the King himself would buy up all for the purpose of presenting them (to Buddha). Now in our neighbourhood there is a certain hair-dresser called Satrusaha; he has a wife who privately took from me 500 pieces of money, and gave me in return this seven-stalked fiower; and the reason why I thus transgressed the edict of the King was because I wanted very much to make an offering to Dipañkara Buddha Tathâgata, etc., and was unable except in this way to obtaiu the means of accomplishing my wish.'

   "Then I addressed the girl again, and said, 'My good girl, the explanation you have just given, and made known to me, will justify you in taking my 500 gold pieces, and giving me five stalks of the Utpala flower, and keeping two yourself.' Then the young girl replied, 'Respectable youth, what will you do with the flowers if I give them to you?' Then I replied, 'It is a difficult thing to see a living Buddha (Tathâgata), and difficult to meet with him when born. Having now the good fortune to encounter Dipañkara, I wish to buy this flower to honour him therewith, and to sow for myself some seeds of merit, that hereafter I may arrive at the condition of perfection also.'

   "Then the young girl spake to me thus again, 'I perceive p. 392 from your extemal appearance, and also from the qualifications of your mind, so resolute in your love of the Law, that you will certainly hereafter obtain complete enlightenment. Mânava! if you will promise me that up to the time of your perfection in every successive birth you will take me as your wife, and that if you arrive at perfection you will permit me to follow you as a disciple, and devote myself to obtain the condition of a Rahat in your retinue of followers,--if you will promise me this,--then I will give you five stalks of this Utpala flower; but if you will not make such a promise, I will not give them to you.'

   "Then I replied, 'My good girl, I am of the Brahman caste, perfectly pure, and thoroughly conversant with the four Vedas (or discourses of the Vedas, or perhaps Vedangas). In these Vedas it is thus said, "If a man wishes to obtain perfection or the condition of a Bôdhisatwa, then that man should nourish in himself a principle of love and pity for all creatures, and seek his object in perfect tranquillity whatever may betide him, so that he should not even grudge to sacrifice his body, but be ready to give it up for the sake of men, and much more (to give up) his wife and his children, his maidens and his riches, not to desire to retain them for a moment." My good girl, I now desire and pray that I may obtain supreme wisdom, prompted by my desire to give peace and joy to all creatures; and therefore in pity for them, if a man should come and ask of me my wife and children as a sacrifice, and you through any love to me should throw an obstacle in the way, then you would break my heart, and my vow would be unfulfilled; whilst you, on your part, would be exceedingly guilty. But if you also will promise and vow that through all time you will make no difficulty in letting me give up everything I possess in charity, then I will enter into a contract with you that you shall ever be my wife.'

   "Then she replied to me thus, 'Mânava! suppose there came a person to your side, and begged my body of you, I would not grudge to give myself up, much less would I grudge children or riches.' Then I said, 'Let it be even so then; according to your vow I promise through future time p. 393 to have you as my wife.' Then that maiden received from me the 500 gold pieces, and gave to me the five stalks of the Utpala flower. 'The other two stalks,' she said, 'offer for my sake, that we may together have the same destiny.' Adding this, 'You wish now to establish a ground of merit for yourself: take these two flowers also, and offer them for my sake, and pray that we may be ever born together and not separated through lapse of days.'

   "Then Dipañkara Buddha began to enter the city Paduma from without, whereupon I, taking in my hands these seven stalks of the Utpala (five in one and two in the other), beheld from far Buddha approaching,1 his body beautiful and upright, shining with splendor and grace, his mind calm and at rest, his senses collected and peaceful as a glassy lake; thus with steps like the king of the elephants, he advanced, surrounded by countless disciples and Devas, who scattered around him endless flowers of every variety and scented perfumes. Then Satruñjaya Râja, accompanied by the four sorts of military escort, proceeded from the gates of the city to meet Dipañkara Buddha. At this time the concourse of people was simply innumerable, with all sorts of diverse beings, Kinnaras, Kumbhandas, and Dragons, who brought flowers and every sort of scented wood, and scattered them above the person of this Tathâgata. These flowers, instead of falling to the earth, formed a canopy over the head of Dipañkara, moving with him as he went, and standing still as he rested. Then, on witnessing this, I conceived much reverence in my heart for the person of Buddha, and taking the seven stalks of the Utpala flower, I cast them above Dipañkara, making this vow, 'If in future time I shall become Buddha, and teach the Law just as this Buddha, and receive the reverence of all men in like manner, then let these flowers remain in mid-air, the leaves hanging downwards and the flowers standing upwards, crowning the canopy that shades the head of Buddha, and moves as he moves, and p. 394 rests as he rests.' And so it was, when I beheld this portent fulfilled, that I conceived much faith in my heart as well as reverence.

   "Ananda! at this time the countless multitudes of people were spreading their priceless garments in the way, made of Kâsikâ (wool of Kâsi), fine white wool, etc.; they covered the earth with them completely. Then I, Ananda! seeing this, and having on me only a deer-skin doublet, I took this off to spread on the ground. Then all the people in anger took my poor garment from the place where it lay and dragged it away and flung it on one side; whilst I in grief thought, 'Alas for me! Will not the world-honoured Dipañkara pity my case and think of me in my distress?' No sooner had I thought thus, than Buddha, knowing my heart, took pity on me. Accordingly, by his Divine power, he caused to appear on the ground as it were a portion of the road covered with mud,1 on which those men in astonishment looked at one another, but not one of them entered the muddy place to help Dipañkara across. Then I, after some thought, spread out my skin garment on the muddy spot, and undoing my hair, covered the garment with my hair, so that Buddha might cross over in perfect comfort, as on a bridge. So, none of the people having put their foot on this covering, Buddha first crossed over, and then I made a vow. 'Oh, that an the disciples might likewise pass across!' And then I prayed again that I might in future ages become a Buddha, even as Dipañkara, possessed of the same miraculous power, and worshipped alike by gods and men; and then I vowed again if Dipañkara does not now give me a prediction of becoming Buddha, I will not rise from out this mud, but I will remain even as I am. Then the earth quaked six times (in prospect of the coming prediction, and in consequence of the earnestness of my vow)."


   [Dipañkara then passes over, but permits none of the p. 395 Bhikshus to follow on the same path. He then predicts that Megha will become a Buddha (Sâkya Muni), on condition that he leaves all his wealth, shaves his head, and follows him as a disciple. Then Megha ascended into the air the distance of seven Tâla-trees, and did reverence to Dipañkara.]


   [These Legends, when all are translated, will explain many obscure references in Buddhist literature, and also throw some light on the rise of Romance literature in Europe. I have not added any explanatory notes to the above translation, as I hope to be able to publish the entire work from the Chinese.]--S. B.

Journals Buddhist Articles


p. 382

1 Vide Jul. ii. 390, n. Compare this account with pl. xxix. fig. 1, Tree and Serpent Worship. The horned figures on the right of the plate evidently represent Kinnaras. (Vide Jul. ut suprà.)

p. 388

1 Sien-yeou is equivalent to "Former Existence," the work therefore would be one of the Pûranas.

p. 389

1 The Legend is now narrated in the first person, as Megha is one with Sâkya Buddha in a former birth.

p. 393

1 There can be no doubt, I should suppose, that this legend is intended to be perpetuated on the right hand pillar of plate L., "Tree and Serpent Worship." This Legend is alluded to by Fahien (Buddhist Pilgrims, p. 43).

p. 394

1 This fable is alluded to in Julien, ii. 97. I think the left hand pillar, plate L., "Tree and Serpent Worship," represents Gôpâla (or rather Gôpî) with her dishes of cream; whilst the central figure represents the dragon Gôpâla. Vide Jul. ii. 99.