Dīpankara Buddha

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Dīpankara Buddha
Ascetic Sumedha and Dipankara Buddha
Ascetic Sumedha and Dipankara Buddha
Sanskrit:  Dīpankara
Pāli Dīpamkara
Burmese:  ဒီပင်္ကရာ ([dìpɪ̀ɴkəɹà])
Chinese:  燃燈佛 (Rándēng Fo)
Mongolian:  ᠵᠣᠯᠠ ᠢᠢᠨ ᠵᠥᠬᠢᠶᠠᠭᠴᠢ᠂ ᠳᠢᠸᠠᠩ᠋ᠭᠠᠷ;
Зулын Зохиогч, Дивангар;
Zula yin Zohiyagci, Divangar
Thai:  พระทีปังกรพุทธเจ้า
Tibetan:  mar me mdzad
Vietnamese:  Nhiên Đăng Phật
Venerated by:  Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana
Attributes:  Causer of Light
Preceded by:  Saraṇaṃkara Buddha
Succeeded by:  Koṇḍañña Buddha


Statues of Dipankara Buddha in Kathmandu.

Dīpankara (Sanskrit and Pali Dīpaṃkara, "Lamp bearer"; Bengali: দীপঙ্কর ; Chinese 燃燈佛 (pinyin Rándēng Fo); Tibetan མར་མེ་མཛད། mar me mdzad; Mongolian Jula-yin Jokiyaγči, Dibangkara, Nepal Bhasa: दिपंखा Dīpankha, Vietnamese Nhiên Đăng Phật) one of the Buddhas of the past, said to have lived on Earth one hundred thousand years.

Theoretically, the number of Buddhas having existed is enormous and they are often collectively known under the name of "Thousand Buddhas". Each was responsible for a life cycle. According to some Buddhist traditions, Dīpankara (also Dīpamkara) was a Buddha who reached enlightenment eons prior to Gautama, the historical Buddha.

Generally, Buddhists believe that there has been a succession of many Buddhas in the distant past and that many more will appear in the future; Dīpankara, then, would be one of numerous previous Buddhas, while Gautama was the most recent, and Maitreya will be the next Buddha in the future.

Chinese Buddhism tends to honor Dīpankara as one of many Buddhas of the past. Dīpankara, Gautama (Buddha of the present), and Maitreya (Buddha of the future), collectively form the Buddhas of Three Times.


Dīpankara is generally represented as a sitting Buddha, but his depictions as a standing Buddha are common in China, Thailand, and Nepal; with the right hand he generally forms a protection mudra (abhaya mudra), and often he forms it with both hands.

Dīpankara is rarely depicted alone; one of the Buddhas of Bamyan, destroyed by the Taliban government in Afghanistan in 2001, was said to portray Dīpankara. Statues of Dīpankara can also be found in the Longmen and Yungang Grottoes in China.

He is generally depicted with two Bodhisattvas, Manjushri and Vajrapani (common in Java) or Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani (common in Sri Lanka); or with the Buddhas who come after him, Gautama and Maitreya.


One story shown in Buddhist art stupas has Gautama Buddha (also known as Shakyamuni) in a former incarnation known as Sumedha, a rich Brahmin turned hermit kneeling and laying his long black hair on the ground, in an act of piety that the Dīpankara Buddha could cross a puddle of mud without soiling his feet.[1][2]

This story between Dīpankara Buddha and Shakyamuni, occurred many lifetimes before Shakyamuni's eventual enlightenment. From this act, Dīpankara told Sumedha "In the ages of the future you will come to be a Buddha called 'Shakyamuni'",[3] to which Sumedha replied, "I am to become a Buddha, awakened to enlightenment; may you tread with your feet on my hair - on my birth, old age, and death."

Dīpankara Buddha then said, "Freed from human existence, you will become an effective teacher, for the sake of the world. Born among the Shakyas, as the epitome of the Triple World, the Lamp of all Beings, you will be known as Gautama. You will be the son of King Suddhodana and Queen Maya. Shariputta and Moggallana will be your chief disciples. Your caretaker will name as Ananda."

In the 40-plus years of his life after enlightenment, the Buddha Shakayamuni is said to have recounted almost 554 past life stories, (called Jataka tales) of his prior existences. Gautama Bodhisattva is quoted as saying a person starts the journey to become a Buddha filling 10 Paramita or "perfections". Some sources and scriptures recount that Shakayamuni Buddha was born in the time of Dīpankara Buddha, and was rich and gave away all his wealth to become a Monk. It is said that Gautama Bodhisattva received his first Niyatha Vivarana, (or definite foresighting by a Buddha) from Dīpankara Buddha. This encounter, among many other predictions of Shakyamuni Buddha's future enlightenment, can be found in a Mahayana text named the Sangatha Sutra.[4]


By the 17th century, Dīpankara had become a figure of veneration in Nepalese Buddhist communities. These followers consider him a protector of merchants and associate him with alms-giving.

He is also considered the protector of the sailors, and sometimes statues of Dīpankara are found on the coastline to guide and protect the ships in their route.

Folk worshippers in Taiwan also revere Dīpankara.

The Buddhavamsa says that Dipamkara nirvanized in Nandarama, where a stupa was built which was thirty six yojanas high. [5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Life of the Buddha: Dīpankara's Prediction of Enlightenment". The Huntington Archive - The Ohio State University. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Ghosh, B (1987). "Buddha Dipankara Twentyfourth Predecessor of Gautama". Bulletin of Tibetology 2: 33–38. 
  3. ^ "The Diamond Sutra". The Huntington Archive - The Ohio State University/World Zen Fellowship. Retrieved 7 February 2010. 
  4. ^ Sanghata Sutra
  5. ^ John S. Strong (2007). Relics of the Buddha. p. 45.