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List of the named Buddhas in the Pali Canon

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An alter at the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, depicting the 28 Buddhas described in the Buddhavamsa
Sumedha, the youth who would after many reincarnations become Gautama Buddha, receiving his niyatha vivarana (prediction of future Buddhahood) from Dīpankara Buddha

Within the Theravadan Pali Canon, there are two well-known lists of Buddhas. The earlier texts of the canon identify seven buddhas, known as The Seven Buddhas of Antiquity (Saptatathāgata).[1] A later text, the Buddhavamsa, identifies a total of twenty-eight buddhas.

Other texts identify the future buddha Maitreya, who will appear on earth as a successor to Gautama Buddha. Thus, a total of twenty-nine buddhas are identified in traditional Pali texts.

The Seven Buddhas of Antiquity

In the earliest strata of Pali Buddhist texts, especially in the first four Nikayas, only the following seven buddhas, called The Seven Buddhas of Antiquity (Saptatathāgata), are explicitly mentioned and named:

  1. Vipassī
  2. Sikhī
  3. Vessabhū
  4. Kakusandha
  5. Koṇāgamana
  6. Kassapa
  7. Gautama

According to tradition, these seven buddhas are a bridge between two kalpas: the vyūhakalpa ("glorious eon") and the bhadrakalpa ("fortunate eon"). The first three buddhas in the list are the last buddhas of the vyūhakalpa, and the next four buddhas are the first buddhas of the bhadrakalpa:[2]

  1. Vipassī (the 998th Buddha of the vyuhakalpa)
  2. Sikhī (the 999th Buddha of the vyuhakalpa)
  3. Vessabhū (the 1000th and final Buddha of the vyuhakalpa)
  4. Kakusandha (the first Buddha of the bhadrakalpa)
  5. Koṇāgamana (the second Buddha of the bhadrakalpa)
  6. Kassapa (the third Buddha of the bhadrakalpa)
  7. Gautama (the fourth and present Buddha of the bhadrakalpa)

The Cakkavatti-Sīhanāda Sutta from the Digha Nikaya also mentions that following the Seven Buddhas of Antiquity, a Buddha named Maitreya is predicted to arise in the world.[3]

Seven Buddhas engraving a Sachi

"The Seven Buddhas", at Sanchi (1st century BCE/CE).

In the engraving of "The Seven Buddhas", at Sanchi, six Buddhas of the past are represented, together with the current Buddha, Gautama Buddha, with his Bodhi Tree (at the extreme right). In the central section of the engraving are three stupas alternating with four trees with thrones in front of them, adored by figures both human and divine. These represent six Buddhas of the past (namely: Vipassī Buddha, Sikhī Buddha, Vessabhū Buddha, Kakusandha Buddha, Koṇāgamana Buddha and Kassapa Buddha) with the current Buddha, Gautama Buddha. Three are symbolized by their stupas, and four by the trees under which each respectively attained enlightenment. The tree on the extreme right is the pipal tree of Gautama Buddha and the one next to it is the banyan tree of Kassapa Buddha. The identification of the others is less certain.[4]

The Buddhavamsa

The Buddhavamsa includes brief biographies of twenty-five buddhas: Gauatama Buddha and the twenty-four buddhas who preceded him. This text also identifies three more buddhas who proceded the group of twenty-five--thus, identifying a total of twenty-eight.

In countries where Theravāda Buddhism is practiced by the majority of people, such as Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, it is customary for Buddhists to hold elaborate festivals, especially during the fair weather season, paying homage to the 28 buddhas described in the Buddhavamsa.

Many Buddhists also pay homage to the future Buddha, Maitreya.

The 29 named Buddhas

The following list of twenty-nine buddhas includes the 28 buddhas identified in the Buddhavamsa plus the future buddha, Buddha Maitreya. Thus, this list includes:

  • the three buddhas who lived before Dīpankara Buddha—Taṇhaṅkara, Medhaṅkara, and Saraṇaṅkara
  • Dīpankara Buddha - the Buddha who gave niyatha vivarana (prediction of future Buddhahood) to the Brahmin youth who would become Gautama Buddha.[5]
  • Twenty-three more buddhas who appear after Dipanakara and before Gautama Buddha
  • Gautama Buddha
  • Maitreya Buddha
Pāli name[6][7][8] Sanskrit name Caste[7][8] Birthplace[7][8] Parents[7][8] Bodhi tree[9][7][8][10] Incarnation of Gautama[8]
1 Taṇhaṅkara Tṛṣṇaṃkara Kshatriya Popphavadi King Sunandha, and Queen Sunandhaa Rukkaththana
2 Medhaṅkara Medhaṃkara Yaghara Sudheva, and Yasodhara Kaela
3 Saraṇaṅkara Śaraṇaṃkara Vipula Sumangala, and Yasawathi Pulila
4 Dīpaṃkara Dīpaṃkara Brahmin Rammawatinagara Sudheva, and Sumedhaya Pipphala Sumedha (also Sumati or Megha Mānava, a rich Brahman)[11]
5 Koṇḍañña Kauṇḍinya Kshatriya Rammawatinagara Sunanda, and Sujata Salakalyana Vijitawi (a Chakravarti in Chandawatinagara of Majjhimadesa)
6 Maṅgala Maṃgala Brahmin[12] Uttaranagara (Majhimmadesa) Uttara, and Uttara a naga Suruchi (in Siribrahmano)
7 Sumana Sumanas Kshatriya[12] Mekhalanagara Sudassana and Sirima a naga King Atulo, a Naga
8 Revata[13] Raivata Brahmin[12] Sudhannawatinagara Vipala and Vipula a naga A Veda-versed Brahman
9 Sobhita Śobhita Kshatriya[12] Sudhammanagara Sudhammanagara (father) and Sudhammanagara (mother) a naga Sujata, a Brahman (in Rammavati)
10 Anomadassi Anavamadarśin Brahmin[12] Chandawatinagara Yasava and Yasodara ajjuna A Yaksha king
11 Paduma[14] Padma Kshatriya[12] Champayanagara Asama, and Asama salala A lion
12 Nārada Nārada Dhammawatinagara King Sudheva and Anopama sonaka a tapaso in Himalayas
13 Padumuttara[15] Padmottara Kshatriya Hansawatinagara Anurula, and Sujata salala Jatilo an ascetic
14 Sumedha Sumedha Kshatriya Sudasananagara Sumedha (father), and Sumedha (mother) nipa Native of Uttaro
15 Sujāta Sujāta Sumangalanagara Uggata, and Pabbavati welu a chakravarti
16 Piyadassi[16] Priyadarśin Sudannanagara Sudata, and Subaddha kakudha Kassapa, a Brahmin (at Siriwattanagara)
17 Atthadassi Arthadarśin Kshatriya Sonanagara Sagara and Sudassana champa Susino, a Brahman
18 Dhammadassī Dharmadarśin Kshatriya Surananagara Suranamaha, and Sunanada bimbajala Indra, the leader of the gods (devas)
19 Siddhattha Siddhārtha Vibharanagara Udeni, and Suphasa kanihani Mangal, a Brahman
20 Tissa Tiṣya Khemanagara Janasando, and Paduma assana King Sujata of Yasawatinagara
21 Phussa[17] Puṣya Kshatriya Kāśi Jayasena, and Siremaya amalaka Vijitavi
22 Vipassī Vipaśyin Kshatriya Bandhuvatinagara Vipassi (father), and Vipassi (mother) patali King Atula
23 Sikhī Śikhin Kshatriya Arunavattinagara Arunavatti, and Paphavatti pundariko Arindamo (at Paribhuttanagara)
24 Vessabhū Viśvabhū Kshatriya Anupamanagara Suppalittha, and Yashavati sala Sadassana (in Sarabhavatinagara)
25 Kakusandha Krakucchanda Brahmin Khemavatinagara Agidatta the purohitta Brahman of King Khema, and Visakha airisa King Khema[18]
26 Koṇāgamana Kanakamuni Brahmin[19] Sobhavatinagara Yannadatta the Brahman, and Uttara udumbara King Pabbata of a mountainous area in Mithila
27 Kassapa[20] Kāśyapa Brahmin Baranasinagara Brahmadatta a Brahman, and Dhanavati nigroda Jotipala (at Vappulla)
28 Gotama (current) Gautama (current) Kshatriya Lumbini King Suddhodana, and Maya Asatu Bodhi Gautama, the Buddha
29 Metteyya Maitreya Brahmin[21] Ketumatī[22] Subrahma and Brahmavati[22] Naga Bodhi

See also


  1. Princeton Dict icon 166px.png Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. Saptatathāgata
  2. Princeton Dict icon 166px.png Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. bhadrakalpa
  3. "Cakkavatti Sutta: The Wheel-turning Emperor". Access To Insight. 
  4. John Marshall, A Guide to Sanchi, 1918 p.46ff (Public Domain text)
  5. "Life of the Buddha: Dīpankara's Prediction of Enlightenment". The Huntington Archive - The Ohio State University. Retrieved 2012-09-06. 
  6. Malalasekera (2007), Buddha, pp. 294-305
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Davids, TWR; Davids, R (1878). "The successive bodhisats in the times of the previous Buddhas". Buddhist birth-stories; Jataka tales. The commentarial introduction entitled Nidana-Katha; the story of the lineage. London: George Routledge & Sons. pp. 115–44. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 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. 
  9. Skt. Bodhirukka (tree of enlightenment)
  10. Malalasekera (2007), Bodhirukka, p. 319
  11. Ghosh, B (1987). "Buddha Dīpankara: twentyfourth predecessor of Gautama" (PDF). Bulletin of Tibetology. 11 (new series) (2): 33–8. ISSN 0525-1516. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Beal (1875), Beal S, Chapter III: Exciting to religious sentiment, pp. 10-17
  13. Malalasekera (2007), Revata, pp. 754-5
  14. Malalasekera (2007), Paduma, p. 131
  15. Malalasekera (2007), Padumuttara, pp. 136-7
  16. Malalasekera (2007), Piyadassi, p. 207
  17. Malalasekera (2007), Phussa, p. 257
  18. Prophecies of Kakusandha Buddha, Konagamana Buddha and Kassapa Buddha Archived 2011-07-13 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. Barua, A (2008). Dīgha-Nikāya: romanize Pāli text with English translation. 2 (1st ed.). Delhi, India: New Bharatiya Book Corporation. p. 6. ISBN 81-8315-096-9. 
  20. Cunningham, A (1880). "XVIII: Tandwa". Report of Tours in the Gangetic Provinces from Badaon to Bihar, in 1875-76 and 1877-78. Calcutta, India: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing. pp. 70–8. 
  21. "Cakkavatti Sutta: The Wheel-turning Emperor". www.accesstoinsight.org. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 Vipassana.info, Pali Proper Names Dictionary: Metteyya


Further reading

  • 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. 
  • 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. 

External links

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