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Puṇyabalāvadāna (T. sod rnams kyi stobs kyi rtogs pa brjod pa བསོད་ནམས་ཀྱི་སྟོབས་ཀྱི་རྟོགས་པ་བརྗོད་པ།), or The Account of the Noble Deeds of Punyabala, is a sutra of the Sanskrit tradition which is categorized as an avadana (an account of noble deeds). This text is preserved in the Tibetan Kangyur.


In Shravasti, at Prince Jeta’s Grove, several elder monks in the Buddha’s assembly cannot agree on which human quality is most valuable and beneficial: beauty, diligence, artistry, or insight. They ask the Buddha, who replies that merit, which gives rise to all the qualities they have noted, is of most benefit to beings. To illustrate this point, he tells the story of a past life in which he was born as Punyabala, with four older brothers who were each named after their most prized quality: Rupabala, Viryavanta, Shilpavanta, and Prajnavanta. In an ensuing contest to determine which quality produces the best outcomes in real life, Punyabala wins, and through his merit is granted dominion over much of the world. The Buddha then goes on to tell the story of his even earlier lifetime as Dyutajaya, during which he developed the intention to attain Buddhahood through the accumulation of merit.

This account is written in one the most recognizable literary forms in Buddhism: the Buddha’s past-life stories. Most past-life stories of the Buddha are found within two genres of Buddhist literature: avadanas and jatakas.[1]


Kazuo Kano has noted that a Sanskrit version of this text that once belonged to the Indian scholar Atisha is currently stored in the Potala Palace in Lhasa.[2]

Tibetan Translation

The Tibetan translation of this sutra can be found in the General Sutra section of the Tibetan Dergé Kangyur, Toh 347. The colophon of the text states that it was translated from Sanskrit into Tibetan by translators Jinamitra and the Tibetan Devacandra. the text is grouped within the category of Shravakayana sutras.


  1. 84000 Translating the Words of the Buddha.
  2. 84000 Translating the Words of the Buddha.