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An alter in Yangon, Myanmar, depicting the 29 Buddhas described in the Buddhavaṃsa

The Buddhavaṃsa, also known as the Chronicle of Buddhas, is a text from the Pali canon that contains brief biographies of Gautama Buddha and the twenty-four buddhas who preceded him. The text also identifies the names of three other buddhas from an earlier era, and predicts the arrival of the future buddha Metteyya. Thus, this text identifies a total of twenty-nine buddhas which are recognized within the Pali tradition.[1][2][3]

The Buddhavaṃsa is the fourteenth book of the Khuddaka Nikāya of the Pali Canon.[4] Along with the Apadāna and the Cariyāpiṭaka, the Buddhavamsa is considered by most scholars to have been written during the 1st and 2nd century BCE, and is therefore considered a late addition to the canon.[5][6]

In countries where Theravāda Buddhism is practiced by the majority of people (such as Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, and Thailand), it is customary for Buddhists to hold festivals paying homage to the twenty-nine buddhas described in the Buddhavaṃsa.[7]


Sumedha, the youth who would after many reincarnations become Gautama Buddha, receiving his "prediction of future Buddhahood" (niyatha vivarana) from Dīpankara Buddha

The first chapter tells how Gautama Buddha, to demonstrate his supernormal knowledge, creates a jewelled walkway in the sky.[8] In seeing this display, Sāriputta asks the Buddha:

"Of what kind, great hero, supreme among men, was your resolve? At what time, wise one, was supreme Awakening aspired to by you? ... Of what kind, wise one, leader of the world, were your ten perfections? How were the higher perfections fulfilled, how the ultimate perfections?"[9]

In response, the Buddha relays the remainder of the Buddhavamsa.[10]

In the second chapter Gautama tells how in a distant past life as Sumedha, he received a prediction from the then Dīpankara Buddha that "In the next era you will become a buddha named Śākyamuni.",[11] and thought out the ten perfections he would need to practice.

Chapters 3 through 26 are accounts of the twenty-four historical Buddhas who achieved Buddhahood between Dīpankara and Gautama, and the acts of merit that Gautama performed towards them in his previous lives.

Chapter 27 is an account of the life of Gautama Buddha.[1]

Chapter 28 mentions three Buddhas that preceded Dīpankara,[1][12] as well as the future Buddha, Maitreya.[1][13]

Chapter 29 tells of the distribution Gautama Buddha's relics after his death.[1]


  • Morris, R, ed. (1882). "XXVII: List of the Buddhas". The Buddhavamsa (PDF). London: Pali Text Society. pp. 66–7. Archived from the original on 2016-02-28. 
  • Law, BC, ed. (1938). "The lineage of the Buddhas". The Minor Anthologies of the Pali Canon: Buddhavaṃsa, the lineage of the Buddhas, and Cariyā-Piṭaka or the collection of ways of conduct (1st ed.). London: Milford. 
  • Takin, MV, ed. (1969). "The lineage of the Buddhas". The Genealogy of the Buddhas (1st ed.). Bombay: Bombay University Publications. 
  • Horner, IB, ed. (1975). The minor anthologies of the Pali canon. Volume III: Buddhavaṁsa (Chronicle of Buddhas) and Cariyāpiṭaka (Basket of Conduct). London: Pali Text Society. ISBN 0-86013-072-X. 
  • Vicittasarabivamsa, U (1992). "Chapter IX: The chronicle of twenty-four Buddhas". In Ko Lay, U; Tin Lwin, U. The great chronicle of Buddhas, Volume One, Part Two (PDF) (1st ed.). Yangon, Myanmar: Ti=Ni Publishing Center. pp. 130–321. Archived from the original on 2016-02-14. 

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Buddha Dharma Education Association 2014.
  2. Hinüber (1996), A Handbook of Pāli Literature, p. 43.
  3. Morris, R., ed. (1882). "XXVII: List of the Buddhas". The Buddhavamsa. London: Pali Text Society. pp. 66–7. 
  4. "Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines (Pali dictionary)". palikanon.com. Retrieved 2014-12-21. 
  5. A textual and Historical Analysis of the Khuddaka Nikaya – Oliver Abeynayake Ph. D. , Colombo, First Edition – 1984, p. 113.
  6. Horner (1975), The minor anthologies of the Pali canon, p. x. "It would seem that, however much Bv may be a latecomer to the Pali Canon, or however slight its metrical interest, its merits which may be said to include the clear-cut way in which it organizes its somewhat unusual contents...."
  7. Buddhahood (Wikipedia)
  8. Horner (1975), The minor anthologies of the Pali canon, p. 1. Bv I, 5: "Come, I will display the unsurpassed power of a Buddha: in the zenith I will create a Walk adorned with jewels."
  9. Horner (1975), The minor anthologies of the Pali canon, p. 8.
  10. Horner (1975), The minor anthologies of the Pali canon, p. 9.
  11. "Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra". Translations from the Taishō Tripiṭaka. Lapis Lazuli Texts. Retrieved 2014-12-21. 
  12. Horner (1975), The minor anthologies of the Pali canon, p. 96. Regarding the three Buddhas who came before Dīpankara, Bv XXVII, 1 states: "Immeasurable eons ago there were four guiders away: these Conquerors, Tanhankara, Medhankara, Saranankara and Dīpankara the Self-Awakened One were in one eon."
  13. Horner (1975), The minor anthologies of the Pali canon, p. 97. Regarding Metteyya, Bv XXVII, 19: "I [Gautama Buddha] at the present time am the Self-Awakened One, and there will be Metteyya...."


External links

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