List of the named Buddhas
There are two well-known lists of Buddhas in the Theravadan Pali Canon. The earlier texts identify seven buddhas, known as The Seven Buddhas of Antiquity (Saptatathāgata). 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, The Seven Buddhas of Antiquity (Saptatathāgata), are explicitly mentioned and named:
According to tradition, these seven buddhas are a bridge between two kalpas: the vyuhakalpa and the bhadrakalpa. The first three buddhas in the list are the last buddhas of the vyuhakalap, and the next four buddhas are the first buddhas of the bhadrakalpa:
- Vipassī (the 998th Buddha of the vyuhakalpa)
- Sikhī (the 999th Buddha of the vyuhakalpa)
- Vessabhū (the 1000th and final Buddha of the vyuhakalpa)
- Kakusandha (the first Buddha of the bhadrakalpa)
- Koṇāgamana (the second Buddha of the bhadrakalpa)
- Kassapa (the third Buddha of the bhadrakalpa)
- Gautama (the fourth and present Buddha of the bhadrakalpa)
One sutta called Cakkavatti-Sīhanāda Sutta from an early Buddhist text called the Digha Nikaya also mentions that following the Seven Buddhas of Antiquity, a Buddha named Maitreya is predicted to arise in the world.
Seven Buddhas engraving a Sachi
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.
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 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.
- Twenty-three more buddhas who appear after Dipanakara and before Gautama Buddha
- Gautama Buddha
- Maitreya Buddha
|Pāli name||Sanskrit name||Caste||Birthplace||Parents||Bodhirukka (tree of enlightenment)||Incarnation of Gautama|
|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)|
|5||Koṇḍañña||Kauṇḍinya||Kshatriya||Rammawatinagara||Sunanda, and Sujata||Salakalyana||Vijitawi (a Chakravarti in Chandawatinagara of Majjhimadesa)|
|6||Maṅgala||Maṃgala||Brahmin||Uttaranagara (Majhimmadesa)||Uttara, and Uttara||a naga||Suruchi (in Siribrahmano)|
|7||Sumana||Sumanas||Kshatriya||Mekhalanagara||Sudassana and Sirima||a naga||King Atulo, a Naga|
|8||Revata||Raivata||Brahmin||Sudhannawatinagara||Vipala and Vipula||a naga||A Veda-versed Brahman|
|9||Sobhita||Śobhita||Kshatriya||Sudhammanagara||Sudhammanagara (father) and Sudhammanagara (mother)||a naga||Sujata, a Brahman (in Rammavati)|
|10||Anomadassi||Anavamadarśin||Brahmin||Chandawatinagara||Yasava and Yasodara||ajjuna||A Yaksha king|
|11||Paduma||Padma||Kshatriya||Champayanagara||Asama, and Asama||salala||A lion|
|12||Nārada||Nārada||Dhammawatinagara||King Sudheva and Anopama||sonaka||a tapaso in Himalayas|
|13||Padumuttara||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||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||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|
|26||Koṇāgamana||Kanakamuni||Brahmin||Sobhavatinagara||Yannadatta the Brahman, and Uttara||udumbara||King Pabbata of a mountainous area in Mithila|
|27||Kassapa||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||Ketumatī||Subrahma and Brahmavati||Naga Bodhi|
- List of bodhisattvas
- Thirty-five Confession Buddhas
- Five Tathagatas
- Praises to the Twenty-One Taras
- Glossary of Buddhism
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