The Māhavastu on Maitreya  (40-43)


Such, Māha-Maudgalyāyana is the"natural"career. And what is the "resolving " career? There have elapsed immeasurable, incalculable kalpas since a Tathāgata named Śākyamuni, an Arhan, a perfect Buddha, proficient in knowledge and conduct, a Sugata, an unsurpassed knower of the world, a driver of tameable men, and a teacher of devas and men, appeared in the world. Now, Māha-Maudgalyāyana , Śākyamuni's city was named Kapilavastu, and so on.At that time I was a merchant, and after I had made an offering of rice-milk to Śākyamuni, I made a vow to win enlightenment.

When (the Bodhisattvas) have laid up an abundant store of merit, and have body and mind well developed they approach the beautiful Buddhas and turn their thoughts to enlightenment, [each vowing). 

"By the merit I have formerly laid up in store, may I have insight into all things. May not my vow come to naught,but may what I vow come to pass.

"May my store of the root of merit he great enough for all living beings.Whatever evil deed has been done by me, may I alone reap its bitter fruit.

"So may I run my course through the world as He whose mind is rid of attachments does. May I set rolling the wheel of dharma that has not its equal, and is honored and revered of devas and men."

I first offered a drink of rice-milk to the world-transcending exalted Śākyamuni an incalculable kalpa ago. Then was my first vow made.

An immeasurable, incalculable kalpa afterwards, Māha-Maudgalyāyana , a Tathāgata of the name of Samitāvin appeared in the world, an Arhan, a perfect Buddha, proficient in knowledge and conduct, a Sugata, an unsurpassed knower of the world, (49) a driver of tameable men, and a teacher of devas and men.

Now at that time there was a Bodhisattva, who was a universal king, ruling over the four continents, who was triumphant, possessing the seven treasures of a king, who was righteous, a king of righteousness, pursuing the path of the ten virtues. These seven royal treasures are the wheel, the elephant, the horse, the precious stone, the woman, the house- holder,and the counsellor. He had a full thousand sons,who were valiant, courageous, and stout of limb, who crushed the armies of their foes. He ruled over these four continents, to wit, Purvavideha, Jambudvipa, Aparagodaniya and Uttara-kuru - a land compact and peaceful, untroubled by the scourge and sword, girt by sea and mountain, which he had won not by violence, but by righteousness. 

Now, Māha-Maudgalyāyana , this universal king supplied the perfect Buddha Samitāvin and his company of disciples with all the requisites, with robe, alms-bowl, bed, seat, and medicines for use in sickness. He had a palace built of the seven precious substances, gold, silver, pearls, beryl, crystal, white coral, andruby, with eighty-four thousand pillars, each pillar up to its middle fashioned of points of gold set close together. ^ He had

erected eighty-four thousand buildings with peaked roofs, bright and sparkling, of the seven precious substances, gold, silver, pearls, beryl, crystal, white coral and ruby.

When, Māha-Maudgalyana, he had built such a distinguished palace, the universal king presented it to the perfect Buddha : Samitāvin, and made this vow "

Ah May I in some future time become an Arhan, a (50) Tathāgata, Buddha, proficient in knowledge and conduct, a Sugata, an unsurpassed knower of the world, a driver of tameable men, and a teacher of devas and men, as this exalted Samitāvin now is. May I become endowed with the thirty-two marks of a Great Man, and my body adorned with his eighty minor characteristics. May I have the eighteen distinctive attributes of Buddhahood, and be strong with the ten powers of a Tathāgata, and confident with the four grounds of self-confidence, as this exalted perfect Buddha Samitāvin now is. Having crossed over, may I lead others across ; comforted, may I comfort others ; emancipated, may I emancipate others. May I become so for the benefit and welfare of mankind, out of compassion for the world, for the good of the multitude, for the welfare and benefit of devas and men.

Such, Māha-Maudgalyāyana , was the vow of the Tathāgata.

May I journey through this world as He whose mind is rid of attachments does. May I set rolling the wheel that has not its equal, and is honored of devas and men.

Then, this thought occurred to the perfect Buddha Samitāvin: “How now? When I have utterly passed away, when these disciples of mine have passed, and when the preaching of the dharma has ceased, after how long a time will an exalted Buddha appear in the world?" 

He did not foresee one in one kalpa, (51) nor in two. It was in a hundred thousand kalpas that he foresaw a Buddha in the world.

Then, Māha-Maudgalyāyana , feeling of great pity for all beings came over the compassionate Buddha Samitāvin.  “I must,'' said he, inevitably fulfill the five obligations of a Buddha. What five?  I must set rolling the wheel of dharma. I must convert my mother and my father, and those ready to receive the Buddha's teaching, and I must anoint the heir to the throne.  For he, when I have passed away, will become a Buddha in the world. As I am now, so this Bodhisattva, Ajita,will become a Buddha in the world. His name will be Ajita, of the Maitreya family, in the capital city, Bandhuma. Let me then continue in life for a hundred thousand kalpas." 

Then, the perfect Buddha Samitāvin addressed his monks : “As I was alone here in seclusion and retirement this mental reflection arose in me. When I have utterly passed away, when my disciples, too, have passed, and when the preaching of dharma has ceased, after how long a time will a Buddha appear in the world ? I did not foresee one in one kalpa, nor in two kalpas, nor in three. But in a hundred thousand kalpas I did foresee a Buddha in the world. Now, I must inevitably fulfill the five obligations of a Buddha, and this person whom I have to anoint heir to the throne will be reborn among the long-lived devas. What now if I decide to live on for these one hundred thousand kalpas ? Who will stay with me? "

(52) Then, Māha-Maudgalyāyana , eighty-four thousand monks who had full mastery over the powers, chose to live on in this world. "We, lord,"said they,"We, Sugata, will stay." And so the perfect Buddha Samitāvin and his disciples lived for a very long time.


Jones, J.J. (trans.) (1949–56). The Mahāvastu (3 vols.). London: Luzac & Co. 


Retrieved 5 May 2009 from "Internet Archive" 

Vol. I: http://www.archive.org/details/sacredbooksofbud16londuoft, 

Vol. II: http://www.archive.org/details/sacredbooksofbud18londuoft, 

and 

Vol. III: http://www.archive.org/details/sacredbooksofbud19londuoft.

 © Leo Rivers 2013