List of the named Buddhas

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"The Seven Buddhas", at Sanchi (1st century BCE/CE). 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 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.[1]
Buddhist men at the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, paying homage to the 29 Buddhas described in Chapter 27 of the Buddhavamsa
Sumedha, the youth who would after many reincarnations become Gautama Buddha, receiving his niyatha vivarana (prediction of future Buddhahood) from Dīpankara Buddha

In countries where Theravāda Buddhism is practiced by the majority of people, such as Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, it is customary for Buddhists to hold elaborate festivals, especially during the fair weather season, paying homage to the 29 Buddhas described in the Buddhavamsa. The Buddhavamsa is a text which describes the life of Gautama Buddha and the 27 Buddhas who preceded him, along with the future Metteyya Buddha.[2] The Buddhavamsa is part of the Khuddaka Nikāya, which in turn is part of the Sutta Piṭaka. The Sutta Piṭaka is one of three main sections of the Pāli Canon of Theravāda Buddhism.

The first three of these Buddhas—Taṇhaṅkara, Medhaṅkara, and Saraṇaṅkara—lived before the time of Dīpankara Buddha. The fourth Buddha, Dīpankara, is especially important, as he was the Buddha who gave niyatha vivarana (prediction of future Buddhahood) to the Brahmin youth who would in the distant future become the bodhisattva Gautama Buddha.[3] After Dīpankara, 25 more noble people (ariya-puggala) would attain enlightenment before Gautama, the historical Buddha.

Many Buddhists also pay homage to the future (and 29th) Buddha, Maitreya. According to Buddhist scripture, Maitreya will be a successor of Gautama who will appear on Earth, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure Dharma. The prophecy of the arrival of Maitreya is found in the canonical literature of all Buddhist sects (Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana), and is accepted by most Buddhists as a statement about an event that will take place when the Dharma will have been forgotten on Jambudvipa (the terrestrial realm, where ordinary human beings live).

The Seven Buddhas of Antiquity[edit]

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:

  1. Vipassī
  2. Sikhī
  3. Vessabhū
  4. Kakusandha
  5. Koṇāgamana
  6. Kasyapa
  7. Gautama

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.[4]

However, according to a text in the Theravada Buddhist tradition from a later strata (between 1st and 2nd century BCE) called the Buddhavamsa, twenty-one more Buddhas were added to the list of seven names in the early texts[5][6]. Other later Buddhist texts hold that each kalpa has 1,000, and Metteya to be the fifth and future Buddha of the bhadrakalpa.[7] The previous kalpa was the vyuhakalpa (Glorious aeon), and the present kalpa is called the bhadrakalpa (Auspicious aeon). Just as the Theravada tradition adds the names of 21 Buddhas to this initial list of seven Buddhas, Mahayana Buddhism adds even more names of Buddhas, sometimes claiming that there has been, is, and/or will be infinite number of Buddhas.

According to the Theravada tradition, the seven Buddhas named in the early Buddhist texts are said to be of the following number in the specified kalpa, bridging the vyuhakalpa and the bhadrakalpa:

  1. Vipassī (the 998th Buddha of the vyuhakalpa)
  2. Sikhī (the 999th Buddha of the vyuhakalpa)
  3. Vessabhū (the 1000th and final Buddha of the vyuhakalpa)
  4. Kakusandha (the first Buddha of the bhadrakalpa)
  5. Koṇāgamana (the second Buddha of the bhadrakalpa)
  6. Kassapa (the third Buddha of the bhadrakalpa)
  7. Gautama (the fourth and present Buddha of the bhadrakalpa)

Historical mentions of previous Buddhas[edit]

Koṇāgamana (the second Buddha of the bhadrakalpa)[edit]

The Koṇāgamana Buddha, second Buddha of the bhadrakalpa, is mentioned in a 3rd-century BCE inscription by Ashoka at Nigali Sagar, in today's Nepal. There is an Ashoka pillar at the site today. Ashoka's inscription in the Brahmi script is on the fragment of the pillar still partly buried in the ground. The inscription made when Emperor Asoka at Nigali Sagar in 249 BCE records his visit, the enlargement of a stupa dedicated to the Kanakamuni Buddha, and the erection of a pillar:

"Devanam piyena piyadasin lajina- chodasavasa bhisitena Budhasa Konakamanasa thube-dutyam vadhite Visativa sabhisitena –cha atana-agacha-mahiyite silathabe-cha usa papite"
“His Majesty King Priyadarsin in the 14th year of his reign enlarged for the second time the stupa of the Buddha Kanakamuni and in the 20th year of his reign, having come in person, paid reverence and set up a stone pillar”.[8][9]

"Budha-sa Konākamana-sa" ("Of the Kanakamuni Buddha") inscription in the Brahmi Script, at Nigali Sagar, 250 BCE

According to Xuanzang, Koṇāgamana's relics were held in a stupa in Nigali Sagar, in what is now Kapilvastu District in southern Nepal.[10]

Gautama Buddha (Sakyamuni, the fourth and present Buddha of the bhadrakalpa)[edit]

The historical Buddha, Gautama, also called Sakyamuni ("Sage of the Shakyas), is mentioned epigraphically on the Pillar of Ashoka at Rummindei (Lumbini in modern Nepal). The Brahmi script inscription on the pillar gives evidence that Ashoka, emperor of the Maurya Empire, visited the place in 3rd-century BCE and identified it as the birth-place of the Buddha.[11][note 1]

The words "Bu-dhe" and "Sa-kya-mu-nī" in Brahmi script, on the Rummindei pillar of Ashoka.

When King Devandmpriya Priyadarsin had been anointed twenty years, he came himself and worshipped (this spot) because the Buddha Shakyamuni was born here. (He) both caused to be made a stone bearing a horse (?) and caused a stone pillar to be set up, (in order to show) that the Blessed One was born here. (He) made the village of Lummini free of taxes, and paying (only) an eighth share (of the produce).

— The Rummindei Edict, one of the Minor Pillar Edicts of Ashoka.[14]

The 29 named Buddhas[edit]

Pāli name[15][16][17] Sanskrit name Class(Varṇa)[16][17] Birthplace[16][17] Parents[16][17] Bodhirukka (tree of enlightenment)[16][17][18] Incarnation of Gautama[17]
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)[19]
5 Koṇḍañña Kauṇḍinya Kshatriya Rammawatinagara Sunanda and Sujata Salakalyana Vijitawi (a Chakravarti in Chandawatinagara of Majjhimadesa)
6 Maṅgala Maṃgala [20] Uttaranagara (Majhimmadesa) Uttara (father) and Uttara (mother) A naga Suruchi (in Siribrahmano)
7 Sumana Sumanas Kshatriya[20] Mekhalanagara Sudassana and Sirima A naga King Atulo, a Naga
8 Revata[21] Raivata Brahmin[20] Sudhannawatinagara Vipala and Vipula A naga A Veda-versed Brahman
9 Sobhita Śobhita Kshatriya[20] Sudhammanagara Sudhammanagara (father) and Sudhammanagara (mother) A naga Sujata, a Brahman (in Rammavati)
10 Anomadassi Anavamadarśin Brahmin[20] Chandawatinagara Yasava and Yasodara Ajjuna A Yaksha king
11 Paduma[22] Padma Kshatriya[20] Champayanagara Asama (father) and Asama (mother) Salala A lion
12 Nārada Nārada Kshatriya Dhammawatinagara King Sudheva and Anopama Sonaka A tapaso in Himalayas
13 Padumuttara[23] 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 Kshatriya Sumangalanagara Uggata and Pabbavati Welu A chakravarti
16 Piyadassi[24] Priyadarśin Brahmin 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 Brahmin Vibharanagara Udeni and Suphasa Kanihani Mangal, a Brahman
20 Tissa Tiṣya Kshatriya Khemanagara Janasando and Paduma Assana King Sujata of Yasawatinagara
21 Phussa[25] Puṣya Kshatriya Kāśi Jayasena and Siremaya Amalaka Vijitavi
22 Vipassī Vipaśyin Kshatriya Bandhuvatinagara Vipassi (father) and Vipassi (mother) Pāṭalī (Stereospermum chelonoides) King Atula
23 Sikhī Śikhin Kshatriya Arunavattinagara Arunavatti and Paphavatti Puṇḍarīka (Mangifera indica) Arindamo (at Paribhuttanagara)
24 Vessabhū Viśvabhū Kshatriya Anupamanagara Suppalittha and Yashavati Sāla (Shorea robusta) Sadassana (in Sarabhavatinagara)
25 Kakusandha Krakucchanda Brahmin Khemavatinagara Aggidatta, the purohita Brahman of King Khema, and Visakha Sirīsa (Albizia lebbeck) King Khema[26]
26 Koṇāgamana Kanakamuni Brahmin[27] Sobhavatinagara Yaññadatta, a Brahman, and Uttara Udumbara (Ficus racemosa) King Pabbata of a mountainous area in Mithila
27 Kassapa[28] Kāśyapa Brahmin Baranasinagara Brahmadatta, a Brahman, and Dhanavati Nigrodha (Ficus benghalensis) Jotipala (at Vappulla)
28 Gotama (current) Gautama (current) Kshatriya Lumbini King Suddhodana and Māyā Assattha (Ficus religiosa) Gautama, the Buddha
29 Metteyya Maitreya Brahmin[29] Ketumatī[30] Subrahma and Brahmavati[30] Nāga (Mesua ferrea)

See also[edit]

  • List of Buddhas
  • List of bodhisattvas
  • Ten Bodhisattas
  • Thirty-five Confession Buddhas
  • Five Tathagatas
  • Praises to the Twenty-One Taras
  • Bhadrakalpikasutra
  • List of Buddha claimants
  • Glossary of Buddhism
  • Notes[edit]

    1. ^ Several alternative translations have been published.[12][13]


    1. ^ John Marshall, A Guide to Sanchi, 1918 p.46ff (Public Domain text)
    2. ^ Morris, R, ed. (1882). "XXVII: List of the Buddhas". The Buddhavamsa. London: Pali Text Society. pp. 66–7.
    3. ^ "Life of the Buddha: Dīpankara's Prediction of Enlightenment". The Huntington Archive - The Ohio State University. Archived from the original on 2014-08-08. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
    4. ^ "Cakkavatti Sutta: The Wheel-turning Emperor". Access To Insight.
    5. ^ A textual and Historical Analysis of the Khuddaka Nikaya – Oliver Abeynayake Ph. D. , Colombo, First Edition – 1984, p. 113.
    6. ^ 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.
    7. ^ "Chapter 36: The Buddhas in the three periods of time". Buddhism in a Nutshell Archives. Hong Kong: Buddhistdoor International. Retrieved 2014-12-21.
    8. ^ Basanta Bidari - 2004 Kapilavastu: the world of Siddhartha - Page 87
    9. ^ Inscriptions of Asoka. New Edition by E. Hultzsch (in Sanskrit). 1925. p. 165.
    10. ^ John S. Strong (2007). Relics of the Buddha. p. 130.
    11. ^ Paranavitana, S. (Apr. - Jun., 1962). Rummindei Pillar Inscription of Asoka, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 82 (2), 163-167
    12. ^ Weise, Kai; et al. (2013), The Sacred Garden of Lumbini – Perceptions of Buddha's Birthplace (PDF), Paris: UNESCO, pp. 47–48, archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-08-30
    13. ^ Hultzsch, E. /1925). Inscriptions of Asoka. Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 164-165
    14. ^ Hultzsch, E. (1925). Inscriptions of Asoka. Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 164-165
    15. ^ Malalasekera (2007), Buddha, pp. 294-305
    16. ^ a b c d e Davids, TWR; Davids, R (1878). "The successive bodhisats in the times of the previous Buddhas". Buddhist birth-stories; Jataka tales. The commentarial introduction entitled Nidana-Katha; the story of the lineage. London: George Routledge & Sons. pp. 115–44.
    17. ^ a b c d e f 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.
    18. ^ Malalasekera (2007), Bodhirukka, p. 319
    19. ^ Ghosh, B (1987). "Buddha Dīpankara: twentyfourth predecessor of Gautama" (PDF). Bulletin of Tibetology. 11 (new series) (2): 33–8. ISSN 0525-1516.
    20. ^ a b c d e f Beal (1875), Beal S, Chapter III: Exciting to religious sentiment, pp. 10-17
    21. ^ Malalasekera (2007), Revata, pp. 754-5
    22. ^ Malalasekera (2007), Paduma, p. 131
    23. ^ Malalasekera (2007), Padumuttara, pp. 136-7
    24. ^ Malalasekera (2007), Piyadassi, p. 207
    25. ^ Malalasekera (2007), Phussa, p. 257
    26. ^ Prophecies of Kakusandha Buddha, Konagamana Buddha and Kassapa Buddha Archived 2011-07-13 at the Wayback Machine
    27. ^ Barua, A (2008). Dīgha-Nikāya: romanize Pāli text with English translation. 2 (1st ed.). Delhi, India: New Bharatiya Book Corporation. p. 6. ISBN 81-8315-096-9.
    28. ^ Cunningham, A (1880). "XVIII: Tandwa". Report of Tours in the Gangetic Provinces from Badaon to Bihar, in 1875-76 and 1877-78. Calcutta, India: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing. pp. 70–8.
    29. ^ "Cakkavatti Sutta: The Wheel-turning Emperor".
    30. ^ a b, Pali Proper Names Dictionary: Metteyya


    Further reading[edit]

    • Law, BC, ed. (1938). "The lineage of the Buddhas". The Minor Anthologies of the Pali Canon: Buddhavaṃsa, the lineage of the Buddhas, and Cariyā-Piṭaka or the collection of ways of conduct (1st ed.). London: Milford.
    • Takin, MV, ed. (1969). "The lineage of the Buddhas". The Genealogy of the Buddhas (1st ed.). Bombay: Bombay University Publications.
    • Vicittasarabivamsa, U (1992). "Chapter IX: The chronicle of twenty-four Buddhas". In Ko Lay, U; Tin Lwin, U (eds.). The great chronicle of Buddhas, Volume One, Part Two (PDF) (1st ed.). Yangon, Myanmar: Ti=Ni Publishing Center. pp. 130–321.

    External links[edit]