See Shakyamuni Buddha Siddhartha Gautama

“This entry focuses on how the nature of a Buddha was understood in the early texts of Buddhism, typified by the Pāli Canon, rather than on the story of the historical Buddha, which is the subject of another entry, or on developed ideas on the nature of Buddhas in the Mahāyāna, on which see Buddha, bodies of, and Mahāyāna Buddhism (main survey article).” (EoBDKPHA)

“The term “Buddha” is not a proper name, but a descriptive title meaning “Awakened One” or “Enlightened One.” This implies that most people are seen, in a spiritual sense, as being asleep – unaware of how things really are. As “Buddha” is a title, it should not be used as a name, as in, for example, “Buddha taught that …” In many contexts, “the Buddha” is specific enough, meaning the Buddha known to history, Gautama (Pāli Gotama). From its earliest times, though, the Buddhist tradition has postulated other Buddhas who have lived on earth in distant past ages, or who will do so in the future. The Mahāyāna tradition also postulated the existence of many Buddhas currently existing in other parts of the universe. All such Buddhas, known as samyak-sambuddhas (Pāli sammā-sambuddhas), or “perfect fully Awakened Ones,” are nevertheless seen as occurring only rarely within the vast and ancient cosmos. More common are those who are “buddhas” in a lesser sense, who have awakened to the truth by practicing in accordance with the guidance of a perfect Buddha such as Gautama: arhats (Pāli arahats). There are also said to be pratyekabuddhas (Pāli paccekabuddhas), “individual Buddhas” who attain enlightenment without the benefit of a perfect Buddha’s teaching, and who give no systematic teachings themselves.” (EoBDKPHA)

“As “Buddha” does not refer to a unique individual, Buddhism is less focused on the person of its founder than is, for example, Christianity. The emphasis in Buddhism is on the teachings of the Buddha(s), and the “awakening” of human personality that these are seen to lead to. Nevertheless, Buddhists do show great reverence to Gautama as a supreme teacher and an exemplar of the ultimate goal that all strive for, so that probably more images of him exist than of any other historical figure.” (EoBDKPHA)

“The key role of a perfect Buddha is, by his own efforts, to rediscover the timeless truths and practices of Dharma (Pāli Dhamma) at a time when they have been lost to society (Aṅguttara Nikāya 1.286–7). Having discovered it for himself, he skillfully makes it known to others so that they can fully practice it for themselves and so become arhats (Majjhima Nikāya 3.8). Teaching Dharma, he initiates a spiritual community of those committed to Dharma: the four assemblies (Skt. pariṣats, Pāli parisās) consisting of the monastic community (sangha) of monks and nuns, and laymen and laywomen followers. Any of these who gains true insight into Dharma becomes a member of the Noble Sangha (stream-enterers, once-returners, non-returners and arhats). As founder of a monastic sangha and propounder of the rules of conduct binding on its members, a Buddha also fulfils a role akin to that of “law-giver.”” (EoBDKPHA)

“As to gender, the early texts say that while a woman can be an arhat, it is impossible for her to be an arhat who is also a perfect Buddha (Majjhima Nikāya 3.65–6, Aṅguttara Nikāya 1.28), just as a female cannot be a cakravartin ruler, a Śakra (Pāli Sakka) – chief of the thirty-three gods of the Vedic pantheon – a great Brahmā deity, or a Māra, an evil tempter-deity. Gender is something that can change between rebirths, however. The Theravādin tradition also saw it as necessary for a person to be male to be a bodhisattva, one heroically aiming at perfect Buddhahood. The Mahāyāna thought otherwise, though it had different views on the level of advanced bodhisattva-hood that could be attained while in a female body, and sometimes held that a woman could be a perfect Buddha.” (EoBDKPHA)

“The process of becoming a Buddha is seen to take many lives of dedicated practice. It is held that “a hundred thousand eons and four incalculable periods ago,” in one of his past lives, Gautama was an ascetic named Sumedha (in some Sanskrit texts, Megha or Sumati) who met and was inspired by a previous Buddha, Dīpaṃkara (Pāli Dīpaṅkara). He therefore resolved to strive for Buddhahood, by becoming a bodhisattva (Pāli bodhisatta), a being (sattva) who is dedicated to attaining perfect enlightenment (bodhi) (Buddhavaṃsa ch. 2). He knew that, while he could soon become an enlightened disciple of Dīpaṃkara, an arhat, the path he had chosen instead would take many lives to complete. It would, however, culminate in his becoming a perfect Buddha, one who would bring benefit to countless beings by rediscovering and teaching the timeless truths of Dharma in a period when they had been forgotten by the human race. He then spent many lives, as a human, animal and god, building up the moral and spiritual perfections necessary for Buddhahood. Some of these lives are described in what are known as Jātaka stories, of which there are 537 in the Theravādin collection (canonical verses plus commentarial prose expansion). Over the ages, he also met other past Buddhas. In his penultimate life he was born in the Tuṣita (Pāli Tusita) heaven, the realm of the “delighted” gods. This is said to be the realm where the bodhisattva Maitreya/Maitrī (Pāli Metteyya) now lives, ready for a future period in human history long after Buddhism has become extinct, when he will become the next Buddha (Dīgha Nikāya 2.76).” (EoBDKPHA)

Epithets of the Buddha

“In the suttas (Skt. sūtras) of the Pāli Canon, the most common way of referring to the Buddha is as Bhagavat (stem form) or Bhagavā (nominative form); the suttas frequently say, near their start, “At one time the Bhagavā was staying at …” The term Bhagavā is variously translated as: “Blessed One,” “Exalted One,” “Fortunate One,” “Lord.” It implies one who is full of good qualities. A common refrain on the qualities of the Buddha (for example Dīgha Nikāya 2.93), now often chanted in a devotional context, is:” (EoBDKPHA)

“Thus he is the Bhagavā, because he is an arhat, perfectly and completely awakened (sammā-sambuddho), endowed with knowledge and (good) conduct, well-gone (sugato), knower of worlds, an incomparable charioteer for the training of persons, teacher of gods and humans, Buddha, Bhagavā.” (EoBDKPHA)

“The term Tathāgata is used by the Buddha to refer to himself in his nature as an enlightened being, for example “A Tathāgata knows …” It is not used when he is giving details of his life as the individual Gautama. Tathāgata literally means either “Thus-gone” or “Thus-come.” The “thus” alludes to the true nature of reality, truth. Dīgha Nikāya 3.135 explains a Tathāgata as: he speaks factually and at a suitable time; he is fully awakened to all that any being experiences; from the time of his awakening, all he says is “exactly so” (tath’eva – “just thus”); “as he speaks, so he does (tathākārī), as he does, so he speaks (tathāvādī).”” (EoBDKPHA)

Buddha: human, god, or … ?

“While modern Theravādins sometimes say that the Buddha was “just a human,” such remarks have to be taken in context. They are usually intended to contrast the Buddha with Jesus, seen as the “Son of God,” and to counter the Mahāyāna view of the Buddha’s nature, which sees it as far above the human. These remarks may also be the result of a somewhat demythologized view of the Buddha. In the Pāli Canon, Gautama was seen as born a human, though one with extraordinary abilities because of the perfections built up in his long bodhisattva career. Although once he had attained enlightenment, he could no longer be called a “human,” as he had perfected and transcended his humanness. This idea is reflected in a sutta passage where the Buddha was asked whether he was a god (deva) or a human (Aṅguttara Nikāya 2.37–9). In reply, he said that he had gone beyond the deep-rooted unconscious taints (Skt. aśravas, Pāli āsavas) that would make him a god or human – a god being merely a being in one of the higher realms of rebirth – and was therefore to be seen as a buddha, one who had grown up in the world but who had now gone beyond it, as a lotus grows from the water but blossoms above it unsoiled.” (EoBDKPHA)

“The suttas do contain some very “human” information on the Buddha, though. It is said that he was once teaching a group of laypeople “till far into the night.” After they retire, he asks Śāripūtra (Pāli Sāriputta) to teach the monks, as “My back aches, I want to stretch it,” and then retires to sleep (Dīgha Nikāya 3.209). In the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta (Dīgha Nikāya Sutta 16), we find the eighty-year-old Buddha expressing “weariness” at the prospect of being asked about the rebirth-destiny of each and every person who has died in a locality (Dīgha Nikāya 2.93), saying,” (EoBDKPHA)

“I am old, worn out … Just as an old cart is made to go by being held together with straps, so the Tathāgata’s body is kept going by being strapped up. It is only when the Tathāgata … enters into the signless meditative concentration that his body knows comfort.” (EoBDKPHA)


“In his final illness, he is extremely thirsty, insisting that there be no delay in his being given water to drink (2.128–9) the stream he asks for it from is found to be clear even though recently churned up by many passing carts).” (EoBDKPHA)

“Elsewhere in the same text miraculous details about him are reported, as when he crosses the Ganges by his psychic power (2.89). He states that if he had been asked, he would have had the power to live on “for a kalpa (Pāli kappa), or the remainder of one” (2.103), with kalpa generally meaning “eon,” but possibly here meaning the maximum human lifespan at that time, of around 100 years. The causes of earthquakes are said to include key events in the Buddha’s life: his conception; birth; enlightenment; first sermon; giving up any remaining will to live, in his final illness; and his passing into final nirvāṇa at death (2.108–9). Again, on the nights of his enlightenment and final nirvāṇa, he has very clear and bright skin, whose shining nature made golden robes look dull in comparison (2.133–4), and when he lies down between two sāl-trees, where he will die, these burst into unseasonal blossom in homage to him, and divine music is heard in the sky (2.137–8). Finally, after his death, the text reports that the gods prevent his funeral pyre from igniting until the senior disciple Mahā-kāśyapa (Pāli Mahā-kassapa) arrives at the site (2.163).” (EoBDKPHA)

“The above material suggests a transcendence which emerges from and yet goes beyond the human condition. This is perhaps another case of a Buddhist “middle way” avoiding two extremes: neither simply a human nor solely transcendent. That said, one of the early schools, the Lokottaravādins, or “Transcendentalists,” had a different view. One of their surviving texts is the Mahāvastu, which grew over a number of centuries, perhaps beginning in the late second century BCE. While its outlook has often been seen as foreshadowing certain Mahāyāna ideas, it has itself been shown to incorporate whole passages from early Mahāyāna scriptures, and may have been influenced by Mahāyāna concepts up to as late as the fifth century CE. It sees Gautama as “transcendental” even before his Buddhahood. He leaves the Tuṣita heaven in a mind-made body to bestow his blessings on the world, and though highly spiritually developed he pretends to start from the beginning, making “mistakes” such as asceticism (Mahāvastu 1.169–70). As a Buddha, he is an omniscient being who is ever in meditation. No dust sticks to his feet, and he is never tired. He eats out of mere conformity with the world, and so as to give others a chance to make much good karma by giving him alms food. For such a world-transcending being, it was felt that all incidents in his life must have occurred for a special reason. The Mahāvastu thus gives much attention to the Buddha’s biography, and also includes many Jātaka tales on his past lives. In examining his development to Buddhahood, a series of ten stages of the bodhisattva career were outlined. This idea was also important in the Mahāyāna, though the details are different. Unlike the Mahāyāna, the Transcendentalists still saw the goal for most people as arhatship, the way of the bodhisattva being only for extraordinary individuals.” (EoBDKPHA)

The Buddha’s psychic powers and extra-sensory perception

“While Jesus is more often associated with so-called “miraculous” wonders than the Buddha, these are also attributed to him. In gaining hearers for his message, the Buddha did not always rely on his charisma, reputation and powers of persuasion. Psychic powers are not seen as supernatural miracles, but as the supernormal products of the great inner power of certain meditations. A late canonical passage (Paṭisambhidāmagga 1.125) describes his “marvel of the pairs,” which later legendary material ascribes to the Buddha while staying at Śrāvastī (Pāli Sāvatthī; Dhammapada commentary 3.204–16). This describes a public challenge in which the Buddha was asked to display his psychic powers in the hope that he would abstain and thus appear to lack such abilities. He therefore agreed to meet the challenge at a later date, when he rose into the air and produced both fire and water from different parts of his body. Occasionally, the Buddha is said to have used his powers for physically healing a devout supporter, such as bringing a long and very painful childbirth to an end (Udāna 15–16), or curing a wound without leaving even a scar (Vinaya 1.216–18). However, he made it an offence for monks to display psychic powers to lay-people (Vinaya 2.112), and saw teaching as a much better way to influence others than such a means (Dīgha Nikāya 1.211–14). He generally regarded psychic powers as dangerous, as they could encourage attachment and self-glorification. In a strange parallel to the temptation of Jesus in the desert, it is said that he rebuffed Māra’s temptation to turn the Himālayas into gold (Saṃyutta Nikāya 1.116).” (EoBDKPHA)

“The suttas not infrequently refer to a set list of psychic powers (Skt. ṛdddhis, Pāli iddhis), including walking on water, flying, and multiplication of one’s bodily form (for example Dīgha Nikāya 1.77–8), which may be developed on the basis of attainment of meditative dhyāna (Pāli jhāna). Maudgalyāyana (Pāli Moggallāna), one of the Buddha’s two chief disciples, was famed for such powers. Dīgha Nikāya 1.77 describes a related power of generating a mind-made body (manomaya-kāya). Not surprisingly, the Buddha is attributed with all these powers, and in one passage he says that he could carry out all the forms of psychic power either with his mind-made body or with his normal body composed of the physical elements (Saṃyutta Nikāya 5.282–3).” (EoBDKPHA)

“Dīgha Nikāya 1.79–80 also describes two forms of extra-sensory perception: hearing sounds at great distances – whether human or divine – and reading the minds of others. Such powers are often described as being used by the Buddha, as when reporting what a god says, or reporting what “someone might think” when a person in his audience had just thought this, before going on to carefully respond to such a line of thinking. It is said that mind-reading is carried out by one of four ways: by noting visible signs; by noting sounds, human or divine; by noting something implied by sound; or by probing someone’s mind, to see what he or she thought (Skt. vitarka, Pāli vitakka) they will have next, while one is oneself in second dhyāna (a state free of vitarka) (Dīgha Nikāya 3.103–4)” (EoBDKPHA)

“Overall, the attitude to such wonders in the Pāli Canon is: they are real possibilities for human beings to develop; they may be spiritually useful in aiding others; but they should not be sought for their own sake, and a person may become attached to them if they are not careful.” (EoBDKPHA)

Did the Buddha claim to be omniscient? (Skt. sarva-jña, Pāli sabba-ññū)?

“In one passage, the Buddha denies that he teaches, “There is no renunciant or brahmin who is omniscient (sabba-ññū) and all-seeing (sabba-dassāvī), who can have complete knowledge and vision; that is not possible” (Majjhima Nikāya 2.126–7). Rather, he teaches, “There is no renunciant or brahmin who knows all, who sees all, simultaneously; that is not possible.” Accordingly, in another sutta, the Buddha does not accept that “The renunciant Gautama claims to be omniscient and all-seeing, to have complete knowledge and vision thus: ‘Whether I am walking or standing or sleeping or awake, knowledge and vision are continuously and uninterruptedly present to me.’” Rather, what he does claim is the “threefold knowledge” (Skt. traividyā, Pāli tevijjā) – as experienced on the night of his enlightenment – that he could: “in so far as I wish,” remember his past lives; “in so far as I wish,” see beings being reborn according to their karma, and directly know his state of liberation (Majjhima Nikāya 1.482).” (EoBDKPHA)

“The suttas attribute the claim to continuous omniscience (as expressed above) to Mahāvira, the Jain leader, though they also say that he prevaricated when actually asked a question (Majjhima Nikāya 2.31). Ānanda also jokes that some teachers make this claim yet have to ask people’s names, fail to get alms food, and get bitten by dogs – so that they then cover themselves by saying that they knew these events were destined, so did not avoid them (Majjhima Nikāya 1.519).” (EoBDKPHA)

“At Aṅguttara Nikāya 2.25, the Buddha says:

Monks, in the world with its gods, māras, and brahmās, in this generation with its renunciants and brahmins, gods and humans, whatever is seen, heard, sensed, and cognized, attained, searched into, pondered over by the mind – all that do I know … I fully understand.” (EoBDKPHA)

“Admittedly, the terms “omniscient” or “all-seeing” are not included in the list of 100 or so epithets of the Buddha uttered ecstatically by the householder Upāli (Majjhima Nikāya 1.386–7). Nevertheless, within certain late texts of the Pāli Canon, the Buddha is referred to as omniscient and/or all-seeing (Paṭisambhi-dāmagga 1.131, 133, 174, Buddhavaṃsa IIA.57, Kathāvatthu and in line with such passages, the postcanonical Theravādin Milindapañha (p. 102) (which the Burmese include in the Pāli Canon) says:” (EoBDKPHA)

“The Lord was omniscient, but knowledge-and-vision was not constantly and continuously present to the Lord. The Lord’s omniscient knowledge was dependent on the adverting (of his mind); when he adverted to it he knew whatever it pleased (him) to know, being able to do this quicker than someone opening or closing their eyes.” (EoBDKPHA)

(p. 106)

“The Sarvāstivādin Abhidharmakośabhāṣya (ch. 9) says much the same, though it refers to the Mahāsaṃghikas as holding that a Buddha can know all dharmas in one instant.” (EoBDKPHA)

“That said, the above claims relate to the Buddha once he was actually a Buddha, not before this, during his spiritual quest. Moreover, the “threefold knowledge,” as the key example of the Buddha’s knowledge, says little about the future other than knowledge of how particular beings will be reborn. At Dīgha Nikāya 3.134, when the issue of whether the Buddha’s great knowledge extends to the future is raised, he claims that it does; but the example of such knowledge that is given is that he knows that he will have no further rebirths. In other contexts, though, the Buddha claims to know things in the distant future, such as that the next Buddha, in a golden age in the distant future, will be Metteyya (Sanskrit Maitreya; Dīgha Nikāya 3.76). This, though, could be construed as based on knowledge of the current spiritual maturity of Maitreya, and of the long time between any two Buddhas in the past. The Buddha being seen as having a kind of omniscience is of course a ground for Buddhists trusting his teaching.” (EoBDKPHA)

Buddha-Fields (Buddha Lands

“Early Buddhism contained the idea that there are countless worlds spread out through space (e.g. Aṅguttara Nikāya 1.227). The Theravādin commentator Buddhaghosa refers (Visuddhimagga 414) to these in its idea of different kinds of “Buddha-fields” (Skt. Buddha-kṣetras, Pāli Buddha-khettas): the field of birth, consisting of the 10,000 worlds that quaked at the Buddha’s birth; the field of his authority, consisting of many hundreds of thousands of worlds where various parittas, or protective chants of his, have power, and the field of his range of knowledge, which is immeasurable. In the Mahāyāna, there developed the idea that heavenly Buddhas create their own Buddha-fields as ideal realms in which to attain awakening.” (EoBDKPHA)

The Buddha and other arhats

“In the early Buddhist texts, the Buddha is himself said to be an arhat (Pāli arahat) and to be in most respects like any other arhat (“worthy one”): one who has destroyed attachment, hatred and delusion and the rebirth they lead to, and fully experienced nirvāṇa in life. Any arhat’s experience of nirvāṇa is the same; however, a perfect Buddha is seen as having more extensive knowledge than other arhats. For example, he can remember as far back into previous lives as he wants, while other arhats have limitations on such a power, or may not even have developed it. What he teaches is just a small portion of his huge knowledge (Saṃyutta Nikāya 5.438), for he only teaches what is both true and spiritually useful (Majjhima Nikāya 1.395). Moreover, a perfect Buddha is someone who, by his own efforts, rediscovers the Dharma and teaches it anew when it has previously been lost to society. Other arhats can then teach based on their own experiential understanding, but this is gained from practicing under the guidance of a perfect Buddha.” (EoBDKPHA)

The Buddha and Dharma

“Of the three refuges, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, the first two are particularly closely related. The Buddha chides a monk who had too much uncritical faith in him, so as to be always following him round: “Hush, Vakkali! What is there for you in seeking this vile visible body? Vakkali, whoever sees Dharma, sees me; whoever sees me, sees Dharma” (Saṃyutta Nikāya 3.120). This close link between the Buddha and Dharma is reinforced by another sutta passage, which says that a Tathāgata can be designated as “one who has Dharma as body” (Dhamma-kāya) and as “Dharma-become” (Dhamma-bhuãta)(Dīgha Nikāya 3.84). These terms indicate that a Buddha has fully exemplified the Dharma, in the sense of the Path, in his personality or “body”: he embodies it. Moreover, he has fully realized Dharma in the supreme sense by his experience of nirvāṇa, the equivalent of the supreme Dharma: Aṅguttara Nikāya 1.156 and 158 have parallel passages on the Dharma refuge and nirvāṇa, as “visible here and now, timeless, inviting investigation, leading onward, to be experienced individually by the wise.” The arhat is no different in these respects, for he is described as “become the supreme” (brahma-bhūta) (Saṃyutta Nikāya 3.83), a term which is used as an equivalent to “Dharma-become” in the above passage. Any enlightened person, Buddha or arhat, is one who is “deep, immeasurable, hard-to-fathom as is the great ocean” (Majjhima Nikāya 1.487). Having “become Dharma,” their enlightened nature can only really be fathomed by one who has “seen” Dharma with the “Dharma-eye” of stream-entry. While Christians see Jesus as God-become-human, then, Buddhists see the Buddha (and arhats) as human-become-Dharmad” (EoBDKPHA)

“The commentary (2.314) on the above Saṃyutta Nikāya 3.120 says:

Here the Blessed One shows Dharma-body-ness, as stated in the passage, “The Tathāgata, great king, has Dharma as body. For the ninefold supramundane Dharma is called the Tathāgata’s body.” Here, the supramundane Dharma refers to nirvāṇa along with the four “path” and four “fruit” experiences that know it in the eight kinds of Noble persons.” (EoBDKPHA)

“In the Milindapañha, it is explained (p. 73), that while it is not possible to point out where the Buddha is after his death, “it is possible … to point to the Lord by means of the Dharma-body; for Dharma … was taught by the Lord.” Buddhaghosa also says of the Buddha, “whose Dharma-body brought to perfection the treasured qualities of the aggregates of virtue etc. [concentration, wisdom, freedom and knowledge and understanding]” (Visuddhimagga 234). Thus the Buddha is seen as very closely related to the Dharma that he taught and practiced, and which in the highest sense is nirvāṇa, the unconditioned.” (EoBDKPHA)

The thirty-two marks of a great man

“The Lakkhaṇa Sutta (Dīgha Nikāya, Sutta 30; 3.142–79) describes “thirty-two marks or characteristics (Skt. lakṣaṇas, Pāli lakkhaṇas) of a great man (Skt. mahā-puruṣa, Pāli mahā-purisa)” that the Gautama was seen as born with. These were held to foretell a future as either a Buddha or a cakravartin (Pāli cakkavatti), a compassionate emperor, ruling the world according to the ethical values of the Dharma. The concept of such marks is said to have been referred to in the Brahmanic tradition (Dīgha Nikāya 1.88, 2.16, Majjhima Nikāya 2.134, Suttanipāta vv. 999–1003 and p. 106), and Jain texts (see Mahāvīra, the founder/reformer of Jainism, as having had them). One might see the “marks” as intended as either as physical in the normal sense, or as aspects of a “spiritual” body which only sensitive people could sense. Each mark is said to be caused by a particular excellence in a past life, and to be indicative of a particular quality of the life of a Buddha or cakravartin. The essentials of the sutta are in Table 1.” (EoBDKPHA)

“The Lakkhaṇa Sutta then elaborates on the parallels between a Buddha and a cakravartin; gives a detailed expression of a notion of a Buddha’s spiritual body, and links this to past karma in a very detailed way. In this respect, it accords with the general idea that “This body … is not yours, it is not another’s: it is to be seen as old karma which is constructed, thought out, felt” (Saṃyutta Nikāya 2.64–5).” (EoBDKPHA)

“The above marks were later used as a basis for visualizing the Buddha and the qualities he embodied, and then for the form of Buddha-images when these developed (no. 32 coming to be shown as a protuberance on the head, called the uṣṇīṣa, Pāli uṇhīsa, or turban). Meditators may have also mindfully thought of the marks in relation to their own bodies so as to help arouse the related qualities.” (EoBDKPHA)

Bodies of the Buddha

“From the above, we thus see various concepts of Buddha-bodies. A Buddha: embodies Dharma, or perhaps has “a Dharma-body” consisting of Path qualities; can meditatively generate a mind-made body; has a body, perhaps in the sense of a spiritual body, endowed with the thirty-two marks; as well as a normal physical body.” (EoBDKPHA)

“Table 1 The thirty-two marks of a great man according to the Lakkhaṇa Sutta

Mark/characteristic (quote).

Past karmic cause of the mark and what it portends for the present life (précis).

  1. Well planted are his feet, evenly he lowers his foot to the ground, evenly he lifts it, evenly he touches the ground with the sole of his foot.

Past deeds: unwavering good conduct in body, speech and mind, in generosity, self-discipline, observance of holy days, in honoring parents. In the present: he cannot be impeded by any enemy, whether external or from within the mind.

  1. On the soles of his feet and on the palms of his hands wheels arise – with a thousand spokes, with rim and hub, adorned in every way and well-defined within.

Past deeds: protected and helped others. In the present: he has a great retinue of followers.

  1. He possesses extended heels.

Past deeds: non-violence and compassion. In the present: he is long-lived.

  1. Long are his fingers and long are his toes.

As for 3.

  1. Soft and tender are his hands and feet.

Past deeds: became loved through the four bases of sympathy: generosity, pleasing speech, beneficial conduct and impartiality. In the present: followers are well disposed to him.

  1. Net-like are his hands and feet.

As for 5.

  1. His feet have raised ankles like conch shells.

Past deeds: an explainer of true welfare and of Dharma. In the present: becomes the foremost person among laypeople (as a cakravartin) or renouncers (as a Buddha).

  1. His lower leg is like the antelope’s, well shaped and pleasing.

Past deeds: quickly became skilled in crafts and sciences. In the present: quickly learns those things beneficial to a cakravartin or a Buddha.

  1. While standing and without bending, he touches and rubs all over his knees with both palms.

Past deeds: knew the nature of individuals and what they needed. In the present: rich in material or spiritual possessions.

  1. Covered in a bag is that which garments must conceal.

Past deeds: reunited long-lost friends and relatives. In the present: many physical, or spiritual, sons.

  1. Golden is his color and his skin shines as gold—like the most splendid lord of the gods.

Past deeds: never angered, however provoked, and gave away soft fabrics. In the present: will receive fine fabrics.

  1. Subtle is his skin; due to the subtlety of his skin, neither dust nor stain sticks to his body.

Past deeds: keen to enquire of the wise about good and bad actions. In the present: great wisdom.

  1. He has separate hairs on his body; the hairs arise singly, one to each pore.

Past deeds: did not lie, a truth-speaker, reliable, non-deceiving. In the present: citizens, or monks and nuns, will do what he requests.

  1. He has hairs on his body which turn upwards. Dark up-turned hairs, black in color curling in rings and turning auspiciously to the right.

As for 7.

  1. His frame is straight like a brahmā’s.

As for 3 and 4.

  1. Seven outflowing places has he: on both hands there are outflows, on both feet there are outflows, on both shoulder-tips there are outflows, at the top of the back there is an outflow.

Past deeds: gave good food to others. In the present: he receives good food.

  1. Lion-like is the upper part of his body.

Past deeds: worked to benefit others in faith, morality, learning, renunciation, Dharma, wisdom, and material possessions. In the present: cannot lose anything, material or spiritual.

  1. Filled is the hollow between his shoulders.

As for 17.

  1. He is proportioned like the sphere of the Banyan tree. As is his body, so is the span of his arms. As is the span of his arms, so is his body.

As for 9.

  1. Smoothly rounded are his shoulders.

As for 17 and 18.

  1. He releases the highest of tastes. Taste-bearing flows that arise in the neck when in happiness he turns upwards are carried all round.

Past deeds: avoided physically harming others. In the present: little illness, good digestion, also equable and tolerant of exertion.

  1. Lion-like is his jaw.

Past deeds: avoided idle chatter, but spoke on Dharma and discipline. In the present: cannot be overcome by any opponent, external or internal.

  1. Forty are his teeth.

Past deeds: avoided slander, but delighted in harmony. In the present: his citizens or monks and nuns will not be divided.

  1. Level are his teeth.

Past deeds: avoided wrong livelihood, i.e. by means of cheating, bribery, deception, killing, theft. In the present: citizens or monks and nuns will be pure.

  1. Undivided are his teeth.

As for 23.

  1. Utterly white are his teeth.

As for 24.

  1. Mighty is his tongue.

Past deeds: avoided harsh speech, but spoke in an agreeable way. In the present: will have a persuasive voice.

  1. He has the voice of a brahmā, soft as the Indian songbird.

As for 27.

  1. Very blue are his eyes.

Past deeds: looked at others in a straightforward, open, direct and kindly way, not furtively. In the present: will be popular and loved by all types of people.

  1. His eye-lashes are like those of a young calf.

As for 29.

  1. The filament that arises between his eyes is white like soft cotton.

As for 13.” (EoBDKPHA)

“After his death, Buddhists have particularly looked to his two-fold heritage: the Dharma-body of his teachings and his physical remains. While the Theravāda tradition emphasizes that the Buddha, since his death, is beyond contact with the world and cannot respond to prayer or worship (cf. Milindapañha 95–101), something of his power is still seen to remain in the world, to be drawn on through the practice of his teachings, the chanting of portions of them in protective blessing chants (Pāli parittas) and the bodily relics which remained after his cremation (see entry on Buddha, relics of).” (EoBDKPHA)

“As seen from the entry on Ennobling Truth/Reality, the Third, in its discussion of nirvāṇa beyond death, the Buddha did not accept any of four views on an enlightened person after death: that he “is,” “is not,” “both is and is not” and “neither is nor is not.” In practice, this is taken to mean that he is not non-existent, but that his state cannot be expressed in words. What seems fairly clear from the early texts is that, as one can only be individualized by the conditioned aggregates of body and mind, that state cannot be one in which he exists as an individual being.”” (EoBDKPHA)

See also: Bodhisattva career in the Theravā da; Buddha, dates of; Buddha, early symbols; Buddha, family of; Buddha, historical context; Buddha, style of teaching; Buddhas, past and future; Ennobling Truths/Realities; Ennobling Truth/Reality, the First; Ennobling Truth/Reality, the Second; Ennobling Truth/Reality, the Third: nirvāṇa; Ennobling Truth/Reality, the Fourth: the Ennobling Eightfold Path; Pratyeka-buddhas.


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