3

Many accounts of the Buddha's life describe Śuddhodana preventing his son from leaving the palace to avoid a prophecy said by Asita. For example, this site says:

Suddhodana was determined to see his son become a king so he prevented him from leaving the palace grounds. But at age 29, despite his father's efforts, Siddhartha ventured beyond the palace several times.

In what sutta (of any canon or tradition) the Asita prophecy and the above events are described? The only sutta I know about Asita is Snp 3.11 but it does not mention the alternative prophecy for his future, and most suttas I know have the Buddha describing the palaces he lived in, but not his father's plans to prevent him from becoming a Buddha.

Also, it's commonly said that, after going outside the palace, he saw a sick, an old, and a dead person. Is this in the pali canon? DN 14 says Vipassi was the one who encountered these people. I only know of suttas such as AN 3.39 where it says that the Bodisatta reflected on sickness, old age and death. Do these stories got conflated?

2

In what sutta (of any canon or tradition) the Asita prophecy and the above events are described? ...

.

Asita apparently see the child Bodhisattva either on the very day that he was born, or within three days thereafter. The Buddha,vaṁsa Commentary mentions the 5th day as the “head lustration” and naming day, when 108 brahmins were invited. If these, 8 of them—beginning with Rāma (J 1:56, v270) —were versed in reading the 32 marks of the great man. Seven of them raised two fingers, predicting that the child would become a wheel-turner if he lived a household life, and become buddha if he renounced the world.

The youngest of them, Koṇḍañña, was certain of the child’s future, and raised one finger, proclaiming the he would surely become the Buddha. Koṇḍañña later becomes the eldest of the group of 5 monks who attended to the Bodhisattva before his awakening. However, Asita is not mentioned amongst these brahmins.

Source: Introduction to Nālaka Sutta by Piya Tan


... he saw a sick, an old, and a dead person. ...

Even though I was endowed with such fortune, such total refinement, the thought occurred to me: 'When an untaught, run-of-the-mill person, himself subject to aging, not beyond aging, sees another who is aged, he is horrified, humiliated, & disgusted, oblivious to himself that he too is subject to aging, not beyond aging. If I — who am subject to aging, not beyond aging — were to be horrified, humiliated, & disgusted on seeing another person who is aged, that would not be fitting for me.' As I noticed this, the [typical] young person's intoxication with youth entirely dropped away.

Source: Sukhamala Sutta, Four sights

And what is ignoble search? There is the case where a person, being subject himself to birth, seeks [happiness in] what is likewise subject to birth. Being subject himself to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, he seeks [happiness in] what is likewise subject to illness... death... sorrow... defilement.

Source: Ariyapariyesana Sutta, Four sights

  • Thank you Suminda. What about his father's desire of him becoming a wheel-turner and making arrangements for that? Do you know any references to that? – Thiago Mar 21 '17 at 5:21
  • If you search though it might be in the Buddha,vaṁsa and / or Jataka and / or cemeteries. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Mar 21 '17 at 6:08
  • A good starting point would be to trace footnotes and bibliography of THE BUDDHA AND HIS TEACHINGS by Venerable Nárada Maháthera and Thus We Heard Recollections of the Life of the Buddha. Latter is a novel, historic story, with references as per the authors, with some dramatising and composed elements, as per the introduction. Also SD 49 by Piya Tan / Dharmafarer. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Mar 21 '17 at 6:41
1

What about his father's desire of him becoming a wheel-turner and making arrangements for that? Do you know any references to that?

There's a version of the prophesy (which doesn't mention Asita by name, nor the king's reaction to it) on page 219 (page 265 of the PDF) of this PDF, one of the Mahabuddhavamsa translations.

The king's attitude can be inferred from page 246 (page 292 of the PDF), the section titled "Measures Taken to see the Prince from seeing the Four Omens"; and on page 262/308 (chapter 3, "Seeing the Four Great Omens") in the section titled, "King Suddodhana increased the strength of the guards".

So these details (also including the Lion's Roar and other miracles) are in the Mahabuddhavamsa (this edition is more than a 1000 pages long), not necessarily in a sutta.

I'm puzzled though: I've examined the author's introduction and table of contents of this PDF and I don't wholly understand what's what. Why are there three chapter ones, for example? Why does page 246/292 have a section titled "The Version of the Commentaries on the Buddhavamsa and the Jataka", what does that mean? How much is "commentary"?

Given the size of it, I suppose it what's described on the first page of text after the table of contents, titled "The Author", page 45 of the PDF, which says,

... he assiduously compiled Maha Buddhavamsa, being the Maynmar exposition on the lives of the Buddhas as related mainly in the Buddhavamsa Pali Text of the Khudakka Nikaya. This compilation, resulting in six volumes in eight books, commenced in 1956 and ended in 1969. The work, being the author's magnum opus, ...

  • 1
    Buddhavamsa is part of the pali canon. Mahabuddhavamsa is a book written by Mingun Sayadaw at the request of Prime Minister U Nu and the Buddha Sasana Council from 1955 to 1960. This is not canonical, through maybe sourced from commentarial and other earlier literary material. I am adding this just for additional information. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Mar 21 '17 at 12:34
  • The bit I quoted implies that the Maha Buddhavamsa is "the Maynmar exposition on the lives ... as related mainly in the Buddhavamsa Pali Text of the Khudakka Nikaya ... resulting in six volumes"? Is the canonical text (from the Khudakka Nikaya) much shorter? Does it mostly describe the lives of the 24 Buddhas, or does it describe the life of Gautama Buddha in great detail? – ChrisW Mar 21 '17 at 13:09
  • See Tipiṭaka (Roman) > Tipiṭaka (Mūla) > Suttapiṭaka > Khuddakanikāya > Buddhavaṃsapāḷi at tipitaka.org/romn or Buddhavaṃsa @ Sutta Central It is part of Vol 42 (of 54) of the Buddha Jayanthi edition. This volume is one of the smaller volumes also. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Mar 21 '17 at 14:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.