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The Buddhavamsa (also known as the Chronicle of Buddhas) is a Buddhist text which describes the life of Gautama Buddha and the twenty-seven Buddhas who preceded him. It is the fourteenth book of the Khuddaka Nikāya, which in turn is part of the Sutta Piṭaka. The Sutta Piṭaka is one of three pitakas (main sections) which together constitute the Tripiṭaka, or Pāli Canon of Theravāda Buddhism.[1] A fairly short work in verse, the Buddhavamsa details aspects of the life of Gautama Buddha and the twenty-four preceding Buddhas in twenty-eight chapters. This canonical text, along with the Apadana and Cariyāpiṭaka, has been described as hagiographical[2] as well as a "latecomer" to the Canon.[3]


The first chapter tells how the Buddha, to demonstrate his psychic powers, creates a jewelled walkway in the sky.[4] In seeing this display Ven. Sariputta 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?"[5]

In response, the Buddha relays the remainder of the Buddhavamsa.[6]

In the second chapter he tells how in a distant past life as Sumedha he took a vow to become a Buddha, received a prediction from the then Buddha Dipankara that he would indeed do so and thought out the 10 perfections he would need to practise. The next 23 chapters tell of the intervening 23 Buddhas and the acts of merit that the Buddha performed towards them in his previous lives. Chapter 26 tells of his own life. Chapter 27 summarizes all twenty-five of these Buddhas; it also mentions three Buddhas that preceded Dipankara[7] as well as the future Buddha, Metteyya.[8] Chapter 28 tells of the distribution of the Buddha's relics after his death.


  • Horner, IB (1975). "Chronicle of Buddhas (Buddhavamsa)". The Minor Anthologies Of The Pali Canon: Part III: Chronicle Of Buddhas (Buddhavamsa) and Basket Of Conduct (Cariyapitaka). Oxford: Pali Text Society. pp. 1–99. ISBN 086013072X. 
  • "The lineage of the Buddhas", in Minor Anthologies of the Pali Canon, volume III, 1st edition, tr B. C. Law, 1938
  • Morris, R, ed. (1882). "XXVII: List of the Buddhas". The Buddhavamsa. London: Pali Text Society. pp. 66–7. 
  • The Genealogy of the Buddhas, tr M. V. Takin, Bombay University Publications, 1969

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lancaster, LR (2005). "Buddhist books and texts: canon and canonization". Encyclopedia of religion (2nd ed.). New York: Macmillan Reference USA. p. 1252. ISBN 978 00-286-5733-2. 
  2. ^ Hinüber (2000), p. 43.
  3. ^ See, e.g., Horner (2000), 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, are in no way thereby diminished."
  4. ^ Bv I, 5: "Come, I will display the unsurpassed power of a Buddha: in the zenith I will create a Walk adorned with jewels" (Horner, 2000, p. 1).
  5. ^ Bv I, 74-77 (Horner, 2000, p. 8).
  6. ^ See Horner (2000), p. 9, n. 1.
  7. ^ Regarding the three Buddhas who came before Dipankara, Bv XXVII, 1 states: "Immeasurable eons ago there were four guiders away: these Conquerors, Tanhankara, Medhankara, Saranankara and Dipankara the Self-Awakened One were in one eon" (Horner, 2000, p. 96).
  8. ^ Regarding Metteyya, Bv XXVII, 19: "I [Gautama Buddha] at the present time am the Self-Awakened One, and there will be Metteyya.... (Horner, 2000, p. 97).


  • Hinüber, Oskar von (2000). A Handbook of Pāli Literature. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-016738-7.
  • Horner, I.B. (trans.) (1975; reprinted 2000). The Minor Anthologies of the Pali Canon (Part III): 'Chronicle of Buddhas' (Buddhavamsa) and 'Basket of Conduct' (Cariyapitaka). Oxford: Pali Text Society. ISBN 0-86013-072-X.