According to Theravada Buddhism's Pali canon's Buddhavamsa and its commentary, Sumedha Buddha is the eleventh of twenty-four Buddhas who preceded the historical Gotama Buddha. Sumedha Buddha was born in Sudassana. According to the canon at the age of 9,000 years old he became an ascetic, practiced austerities for eight months, and attained Enlightenment. He lived 90,000 years, and died in Medhārāma.
The Buddhavamsa describes Sumedha Buddha in this fashion:
Sumedha, hard to attack, of intense incandescence, supreme sage in all the world. He was clear-eyed, full-mouthed, of tall stature, upright, majestic. He sought the welfare of all beings and released many from bondage.
During Sumedha Buddha's lifetime, the one destined to become Gotama Buddha was known as the brahmin Uttara who, upon entering ascetic life, made an offering to Sumedha Buddha and his Order of 80 crores of wealth.
Sumedha as a previous life of Gotama Buddha
The name Sumedha is found elsewhere in early Buddhist canons in the stories of other Buddhas. Most notably, during the dispensation of the first of twenty-five buddhas, Dipankara Buddha, the historical Gotama Buddha was living as a brahmin-then-ascetic named "Sumedha."
In the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, Sumedha receives the prediction of his future buddhahood and leaps into the air growing to a height of seven tala trees. His hair however remains on the ground detached from his body. Dipamkara warns his disciples not to step on the hair. Hundreds of thousands of persons then came and made offerings of flowers and perfumes to the hair. There is a story preserved in the Diryavadana in which Sumati's hair is replaced by better hair, the original hair being gathered by King Dipa who gives it to King Vasava who counts 80,000 strands and gives one to each of his ministers; who create caitya to enshrine them in their districts.
- 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.
- Malalasekera, G.P. (1899-1973), Dictionary of Pali Names, entry 4 for "Sumedha" (London, Pali Text Society). Retrieved 23 December 2014 from PaliKanon at http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_names/s/sumedha.htm .
- Horner (1975), pp. l, 54-55.
- Horner (1975), pp. 55-56.
- Malalasekera (1899-1973), op cit.
- See, e.g., Horner (1975), pp. xlix, 9-25.
- Malalasekera (1899-1973), entry 1 for "Sumedha."
- John S. Strong (2007). Relics of the Buddha. p. 136.