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Common Buddhist Text [7a] Part I: The Buddha | Chapter 1: The Life Of The Historical Buddha | Conception, birth and early life

Chief Editor: Venerable Brahmapundit
Editor: Peter Harvey

Translators: Tamás Agócs, Peter Harvey | Dharmacārī Śraddhāpa | P.D. Premasiri
G.A Somaratne | Venerable Thich Tue Sy

PART I: THE BUDDHA

 CHAPTER 1: THE LIFE OF THE HISTORICAL BUDDHA

Conception, birth and early life

L.1 The wondrous birth of a great being

Here the Buddha addresses Ānanda, the disciple who acted as his chief personal attendant. The Buddha has previously told him of various wondrous things pertaining to his conception and birth, and now asks him to enunciate them so that other monks can hear of and be inspired by them.

Then the Blessed One addressed Venerable Ānanda: ‘Ānanda, that being so, you may eulogize more fully the wonderful and marvellous qualities of the Tathāgata.’

‘Venerable sir, I heard and learned this from the Blessed One’s own lips:

“Ānanda, mindful and clearly comprehending[1]Fully alert, fully aware, or fully knowing. the bodhisatta appeared in the Tusita heaven.[2]One of the many kinds of heavenly rebirths. A particular feature of this is that it is said to be where bodhisattas dwell immediately prior to the life in which they become a Buddha.” Venerable sir, this I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.

… “Ānanda, mindful and clearly comprehending the bodhisatta remained in the Tusita heaven.” Venerable sir, this too I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.

… “Ānanda, for the whole of his lifespan the bodhisatta remained in the Tusita heaven.”

Venerable sir, this too I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.

… “Ānanda, mindful and clearly comprehending the bodhisatta departed from the Tusita heaven and descended into his mother’s womb.” Venerable sir, this too I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.

… “Ānanda, when the bodhisatta passed away from the Tusita heaven and descended into his mother’s womb, an immeasurable glorious light surpassing the divine majesty of the gods appeared in the world with its gods, māras and brahmās,[3]This could also be translated ‘with its Māra and Brahmā’, i.e. the Māra of our particular world and its Great Brahmā. with its people, renunciants, brahmins, kings and the masses. And even in those awful open world intervals, of gloom and utter darkness, where the sun and the moon, mighty and powerful as they are, cannot make their light prevail; there too an immeasurable glorious light surpassing the divine majesty of the gods appeared. And the beings reborn there perceived each other by that light: ‘Friend, so indeed there are also other beings reborn here.’ And this ten-thousand-fold world-system shook,[4]World-system: a single world-system is something like a solar system, which extends as far as the moon and the sun move in their course and light up the quarters with their radiance. There are also: … Continue reading quaked, and trembled, and an immeasurable glorious light surpassing the divine majesty of the gods appeared in the world.” Venerable sir, this too I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.

… “Ānanda, when the bodhisatta descended into his mother’s womb, four young gods came to guard him at the four quarters so that no humans or nonhumans or anyone at all could harm the bodhisatta or his mother.” Venerable sir, this too I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.

… “Ānanda, when the bodhisatta descended into his mother’s womb, the mother of the bodhisatta was inherently virtuous, refraining from killing living beings, refraining from taking what is not given, refraining from sexual misconduct, refraining from false speech, and refraining from wines, liquors, and intoxicants, the basis of negligence.”[5]These form the five ethical precepts recommended for the lay follower. Venerable sir, this too I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One…

… “Ānanda, on the seventh day after the birth of the bodhisatta, the bodhisatta’s mother passed away, and was reborn in the Tusita heaven.” Venerable sir, this too I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.

… “Ānanda, other young women give birth after carrying the child in the womb for nine or ten (lunar) months, but not so the bodhisatta’s mother. The bodhisatta’s mother gave birth to him after carrying him in her womb for exactly ten months.” Venerable sir, this too I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.

… “Ānanda, other young women give birth seated or lying down, but not so the bodhisatta’s mother. The bodhisatta’s mother gave birth to him standing up.” Venerable sir, this too I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.

… “Ānanda, when the bodhisatta came forth from his mother’s womb, gods received him first, then human beings.” Venerable sir, this too I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.

… “Ānanda, when the bodhisatta came forth from his mother’s womb, he did not touch the earth. The four young gods received him and set him before his mother saying: ‘O queen, rejoice, a son of great power has been born to you’.” Venerable sir, this too I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.

… “Ānanda, when the bodhisatta came forth from his mother’s womb, he did so dirt free, unsmeared by water, humours, blood, or any kind of impurity, clean and dirt free. Ānanda, suppose there were a gem-jewel placed on a Kāsi cloth, then the gem would not smear the cloth or the cloth the gem. Why is that? It is because of the purity of both. Ānanda, so too when the bodhisatta came forth from his mother’s womb, he did so dirt free, unsmeared by water, humours, blood, or any kind of impurity, clean and dirt free.” Venerable sir, this too I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.

… “Ānanda, when the bodhisatta came forth from his mother’s womb, two jets of water appeared to pour from the sky, one cool and one warm, for bathing the bodhisatta and his mother.” Venerable sir, this too I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.

… “Ānanda, as soon as the bodhisatta was born, he stood firmly with his feet on the ground; then he took seven steps facing north, and with a white parasol held over him, he looked at every quarter and uttered the words establishing his leadership:[6]Literally bull-like speech, i.e. like the roar of a bull marking his leadership of a herd.
I am the highest in the world; I am the best in the world;
I am the foremost in the world.
This is my last birth; now no more renewed existence.”

Venerable sir, this too I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.

… “When the bodhisatta came forth from his mother’s womb, an immeasurable glorious light surpassing the divine majesty of the gods appeared in the world with its gods, māras and brahmās, with its people, renunciants, brahmins, kings and the masses. And even in those awful open world intervals, of gloom, and utter darkness, where the sun and the moon, mighty and powerful as they are, cannot make their light prevail; there too an immeasurable glorious light surpassing the divine majesty of the gods appeared. And the beings reborn there perceived each other by that light: ‘Friend, so indeed there are also other beings reborn here.’ And this ten-thousand-fold world-system shook, quaked, and trembled, and an immeasurable glorious light surpassing the divine majesty of the gods appeared in the world.” Venerable sir, this too I consider as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.’

‘Ānanda, that being so, you should consider this too as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Tathāgata: Ānanda, here for the Tathāgata feelings are known as they arise, as they are present, as they disappear; perceptions are known as they arise, as they are present, as they disappear; thoughts are known as they arise, as they are present, as they disappear; Ānanda, you should consider this too as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Tathāgata.’

‘Venerable sir, since this is so, I consider this too as a wonderful and marvellous quality of the Blessed One.’

Acchariya-abbhuta SuttaMajjhima-nikāya III.118–120, 122–124, trans. G.A.S.

References
1 Fully alert, fully aware, or fully knowing.
2 One of the many kinds of heavenly rebirths. A particular feature of this is that it is said to be where bodhisattas dwell immediately prior to the life in which they become a Buddha.
3 This could also be translated ‘with its Māra and Brahmā’, i.e. the Māra of our particular world and its Great Brahmā.
4 World-system: a single world-system is something like a solar system, which extends as far as the moon and the sun move in their course and light up the quarters with their radiance. There are also: clusters of 1000 of these; galactic clusters of 1000 of these clusters; and super-galactic clusters of 1000 of these galactic clusters (*Th.62). Between world-system are pitch-dark world-intervals in which certain unfortunate beings live lonely lives.
5 These form the five ethical precepts recommended for the lay follower.
6 Literally bull-like speech, i.e. like the roar of a bull marking his leadership of a herd.

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