The Play in Full
Degé Kangyur, vol. 46 (mdo sde, kha), folios 1.b–216.b
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
The Play in Full tells the story of how the Buddha manifested in this world and attained awakening, as perceived from the perspective of the Great Vehicle. The sūtra, which is structured in twenty-seven chapters, first presents the events surrounding the Buddha’s birth, childhood, and adolescence in the royal palace of his father, king of the Śākya nation. It then recounts his escape from the palace and the years of hardship he faced in his quest for spiritual awakening. Finally the sūtra reveals his complete victory over the demon Māra, his attainment of awakening under the Bodhi tree, his first turning of the wheel of Dharma, and the formation of the very early saṅgha.
This text was translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee under the supervision of Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche.
Cortland Dahl, Catherine Dalton, Hilary Herdman, Heidi Koppl, James Gentry, and Andreas Doctor translated the text from Tibetan into English. Andreas Doctor and Wiesiek Mical then compared the translations against the original Tibetan and Sanskrit, respectively. Finally, Andreas Doctor edited the translation and wrote the introduction.
The Dharmachakra Translation Committee would like to thank Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche for blessing this project, and Khenpo Sherap Sangpo for his generous assistance with the resolution of several difficult passages.
This translation has been completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The generous sponsorship of 簡源震及家人江秀敏，簡暐如，簡暐丞 Chien YuanChen (Dharma Das) and his wife, daughter, and son for work on this sūtra is gratefully acknowledged.
All flowers budded and blossomed. In the ponds, all the blue, red, and white lotus flowers also budded and blossomed. New fruit and flower trees sprung from the earth, budded, and came into blossom. Eight trees of precious gems appeared. Twenty thousand great treasures emerged and remained on the grounds. [F.42.b] Inside the women’s quarters, jeweled shoots sprouted forth. Scented water, saturated with fragrant oils, flowed forth. Lion cubs descended from the snow mountains. They joyfully circled the sublime city of Kapilavastu and then rested by the gates without harming anyone. Five hundred young white elephants arrived, stroking King Śuddhodana’s feet with the tips of their trunks, and then settling down next to him. Divine children, wearing sashes,  were seen moving back and forth between the laps of the women in the retinue of King Śuddhodana’s queen.
Nāga girls could be seen holding aloft various offerings, revealing the upper half of their bodies as they moved about in the sky. Ten thousand celestial maidens were seen hovering in the sky, holding up peacock feathers. Ten thousand full vases appeared in a ring around the city of Kapilavastu. Ten thousand celestial maidens appeared with vases of scented water on their heads. Ten thousand celestial maidens appeared holding up parasols, flags, and banners. Many hundreds of thousands of celestial maidens appeared holding conch shells, drums, clay drums, and cymbals adorned with bells.
The winds became still and ceased to blow. All streams and rivers stopped their flow. The sun, the moon, the celestial chariots, the planets, and the stars all stood still. The constellation of Puṣya appeared. King Śuddhodana’s residence became adorned with a net of jewels.  All fires were extinguished. The palace, temples, gateways, and doorways were decorated with tassels of jewels and gems. The doors to the storehouses of cloths and gems appeared wide open. [F.43.a] The calls of crows, owls, vultures, wolves, and jackals ceased to be heard. Instead many delightful sounds were heard. All people stopped their work. The ground became level without any bumps or hollows. All crossroads, junctions, roads, and marketplaces became as even and smooth as the palm of a hand and were beautifully bestrewn with flower petals. All pregnant women birthed their babies with comfort and ease. All the gods in the sāl forest revealed half their bodies from among the trees’ leaves and remained there, bowing. Such were the thirty-two omens that occurred. 
Then Māyādevī, due to the magnificence and strength of the Bodhisattva, knew that it was time for her to give birth. During the first watch of the night, she came to King Śuddhodana and spoke these words:
Monks, Māyādevī now set forth, surrounded and protected by 84,000 richly ornamented horse-drawn chariots, 84,000 richly ornamented elephant-drawn chariots,  and 84,000 brave, heroic, and handsome foot soldiers wearing excellent and solid armor. She was escorted by 60,000 Śākya maidens. She was guarded by 40,000 elders, youths, and middle-aged men from King Śuddhodana’s Śākya clan. She was also surrounded by 60,000 women from King Śuddhodana’s retinue, who sang songs and played music, bells, and cymbals. Some 84,000 celestial maidens followed her, as did 84,000 nāga maidens, 84,000 gandharva maidens, 84,000 kinnara maidens, and 84,000 female demigods. All of them were lavishly ornamented and sang her praise in melodic voices accompanied by music.
All of Lumbinī Grove was sprinkled with droplets of perfumed water and strewn with celestial flowers. Every tree in that perfect grove had leaves, flowers, and fruits, even though it was out of season. Even the gods had done their best to decorate the forest. They had, in fact, made it appear like the gods’ Miśraka Garden. [F.45.a]
When Māyādevī arrived at the Lumbinī Grove, she stepped down from her fine chariot. As human and divine maidens encircled her, she wandered from tree to tree and from grove to grove. She looked among all the trees and eventually arrived beneath a very special and exquisite fig tree. Its branches spread out, full of lush leaves and clusters of blossoms, and further adorned with numerous flowers from the realms of both humans and gods. Richly scented cloths of many colors were draped across its branches. It was sparkling with the light of many gems and jewels. Its roots, trunk, branches, and leaves were all adorned with jewels. Its branches were long and spread out spaciously. The ground where the fig tree stood was smooth like the palm of a hand, beautiful and open, and it was full of dark blue grass, the color of a peacock’s neck. The earth was pleasant to the touch, like soft kācilindika cloth. This tree had supported the mothers of previous victorious ones, and it had been praised in the poetry of the gods.  It was a tree to which the wholesome and peaceful gods of the pure realms would bow down and touch with their heads, including their topknots and diadems. Now the queen and her retinue had arrived at this pure and stainless fig tree.
However, at this moment the Bodhisattva’s magnificence and power caused the fig tree itself to bow down and pay homage to him. Māyādevī stretched out her right arm, like a flash of lightning appearing in the middle of the sky, and grasped a branch of the tree. She auspiciously directed her gaze into the open sky and stretched her body. At that point sixty thousand goddesses from the desire realm approached Māyādevī to assist and venerate her.
Such were the miracles that occurred while the Bodhisattva was in his mother’s womb. Now, as the ten months had been completed, [F.45.b] he emerged from his mother’s right side, fully aware and mindful. In this way he was unstained by any impurities of the womb, which otherwise are said to stain everyone else.
Monks, at that time Śakra, lord of the gods, and Brahmā, lord of the Sahā World, appeared before the Bodhisattva. As they remembered and recognized who he was, they were full of veneration for the Bodhisattva and wrapped him up in divine silk. The temple in which the Bodhisattva had dwelt while in his mother’s womb was carried off by Brahmā, lord of the Sahā World, and the other gods of the Brahma realm up into their realm, where they enshrined the temple in a memorial and made it an object of worship. Thus the Bodhisattva was first received by the gods rather than by any humans.
As soon as he was born, the Bodhisattva stepped onto the ground. Wherever his feet touched the ground, a large lotus immediately sprung from the earth. Then the great nāga kings Nanda and Upananda revealed their upper bodies in the sky and produced two streams of cool and warm water to rinse the Bodhisattva’s body.  Śakra, Brahmā, the guardians of the world, and many hundreds of thousands of gods then bathed the Bodhisattva in perfumed water and scattered flower petals over him. A parasol of precious gems and two yak-tail whisks also appeared from midair.
The Bodhisattva stood on a large lotus and surveyed the four directions with his lion’s gaze, the gaze of a great being. At that time the Bodhisattva, with unhindered higher knowledge, which he manifested due to the ripening of previous roots of virtue, saw the entire great trichiliocosm. He saw all the cities, towns, [F.46.a] estates, kingdoms, royal cities, and lands, as well as all gods and humans. He also perfectly knew the minds of all sentient beings and carefully surveyed them, looking to see if there was anyone similar to himself in terms of virtuous conduct, discipline, meditative absorption, or knowledge. However, in the entire great trichiliocosm, the Bodhisattva did not see anyone like himself.
At that point the Bodhisattva felt a lion-like fearlessness, free of anxiety or apprehension. Without any hesitation or wavering, he reminded himself of his good motivations. Because he had examined the minds of all sentient beings, he now knew their thoughts. Unsupported, he took seven steps toward the east and declared, “I will be the cause of all virtuous practices.”
Wherever the Bodhisattva took a step, a lotus sprouted forth. He then took seven steps toward the south and said, “I am worthy of the offerings of gods and humans.” Next he took seven steps toward the west and, pausing on the seventh step, he proclaimed these satisfying words in lion-like fashion: “I am the Supreme Being  on this earth. This is my last birth, where I shall uproot birth, old age, sickness, and death!” He then took seven steps toward the north and said, “I will be supreme among all sentient beings!” Next he took seven steps downhill, saying, “I will subjugate Māra and his army! I will cause great rain clouds of the Dharma to shower down on all hell beings, extinguishing the fires of hell and filling the beings there with happiness.” Finally he took seven steps uphill, lifted his gaze, and said, “All sentient beings will look up to me.” [F.46.b]
As the Bodhisattva spoke in this way, his words were immediately heard throughout the entire great trichiliocosm. Such was the nature of the foreknowledge that sprang from the ripening of the Bodhisattva’s previous actions. Whenever a bodhisattva takes birth into his final existence, and as he awakens to perfect and complete buddhahood, various miracles unfold.
Monks, at that time all beings were so delighted that the hairs on their bodies shivered. There was also a terrifying quaking of the earth, which caused the hairs on their bodies to stand on end. The cymbals and musical instruments of gods and humans sounded without being played by anyone. At that time all the trees in the great trichiliocosm—whether in season or not—blossomed and bore fruit. From the expanse of pure space, the sound of thunder rang out, and from the cloudless sky, a fine mist of rain showered down ever so gently, mixed with divinely colored flowers, cloths, ornaments, and powdered incense. Deliciously scented breezes blew, delightful and cooling. In all directions there was no darkness, dust, smoke, or mist to be seen, and everything appeared bright and beautiful.
Also, from the empty space above, the great melodious and profound sounds of the realm of Brahmā were heard. All the light of the sun, the moon, Brahmā, Śakra, and the guardians of the world  was eclipsed by an otherworldly light of a hundred thousand colors, which filled the entire great trichiliocosm and brought pleasure and happiness, both physical and mental, to everyone that it touched. At the very moment when the Bodhisattva was born, all beings became filled with bliss. All types of attachment, anger, delusion, pride, [F.47.a] dislike, dejection, fear, greed, jealousy, and stinginess subsided, and everyone abandoned all forms of unwholesome conduct.
The illnesses of the sick were cured. The hungry and the thirsty were relieved of their hunger and thirst. The drunk and intoxicated were freed from their intoxication. The mad had their sanity restored. The blind could see. The deaf could hear. The crippled had their capacities restored. The destitute gained wealth. The imprisoned were freed. All ailments and sufferings of those in the hell realms, starting with the Hell of Ultimate Torment, ceased at that moment. The suffering of those born into the animal realm, such as the fear of being eaten by one another, was also pacified. Likewise the sufferings experienced by beings in the realm of the lord of death, such as hunger and thirst, were also pacified.
The newborn Bodhisattva had already practiced good conduct for countless trillions of eons, and he possessed great diligence and strength. As such, when he took his first seven steps, he had already attained the state of reality. Therefore all the buddhas, the blessed ones, in all the realms in the ten directions blessed the earth at that spot of vajra nature so that it would not be destroyed by his steps. Monks, such was the awesome strength of the newborn Bodhisattva’s first seven steps.
At that time the entire world was filled with a bright light, and the sounds of singing and dancing were heard. A rain of flowers, powders, incense, garlands, jewels, ornaments, and cloths [F.47.b] showered down from innumerable clouds. All beings were filled with perfect joy.  In short, when the Bodhisattva, who is more exalted than anyone in all the worlds, came into this world, many inconceivable events took place.
Venerable Ānanda now stood up from his seat, removed his robe from one shoulder, and kneeled, placing his right knee on the ground. He joined his palms in the direction of the Blessed One, bowed, and addressed these words to him:
“The Blessed One, the Thus-Gone One, is truly more amazing than anyone else. The Bodhisattva possessed incredible qualities, but how much more so the One Who Has Awakened to Perfect and Complete Buddhahood? O Blessed One, I therefore take refuge in Lord Buddha four times, five times, ten times, fifty times, a hundred times, or rather many hundreds of thousands of times!”
“In the future there will be some monks who do not train their bodies and minds and do not acquaint themselves with discipline and knowledge. Like unskilled children, they will be highly proud, wild, arrogant, unrestrained, distracted, hesitant, doubting, and without trust. They will bring stains on the monastic order and not live like proper monks. When they hear about the Bodhisattva entering his mother’s womb in such a pure way, they will not believe it. Instead they will gather and gossip, saying, ‘Listen, all of you, just listen to this nonsense! The Bodhisattva supposedly entered into his mother’s womb, where he mixed with impure fluids. And yet he is said to have had such enjoyments. Moreover, it is said that when he was born, he emerged from his mother’s right side without being sullied by any stains of the womb. [F.48.a] But how could this be possible?’
“Such fools will not understand that the bodies of those who have engaged in excellent actions are not begotten from unclean fluids. Monks, such sublime beings enter into and abide in the womb in the finest manner.  It is due to their love and compassion for sentient beings that bodhisattvas are born into the world of humans, since gods do not turn the wheel of Dharma. Why is this? Ānanda, it is because beings would otherwise have been discouraged, thinking, ‘The Blessed One, the Thus-Gone One, the Worthy One, the completely perfect Buddha is a god. We are just human beings, so we are not able to achieve that state.’
“It will not occur to these foolish beings, such thieves of the Dharma, to think, ‘This being is inconceivable and we cannot judge him.’ Ānanda, these future people will also not believe in the Buddha’s miracles, let alone the miracles displayed by the Thus-Gone Bodhisattva. Ānanda, these foolish beings will be overcome with desire for wealth, respect, and praise. They will sink into filth and be overcome with their lust for honor. In this way these impertinent beings will abandon the Buddha’s teachings. Just consider how much nonvirtue they will accumulate!” [B5]
“Ānanda,” replied the Blessed One, “not only will there be those who reject the sūtras and speak poorly of them, [F.48.b] there will also be monks who perform many negative deeds and leave aside their obligations as monks.”
Venerable Ānanda’s hairs stood on end as he exclaimed, “I pay homage to the Buddha!” He then said to the Blessed One, “Blessed One, when I hear about the conduct of those wicked beings, it almost makes me faint!”
“Ānanda,” said the Blessed One, “the behavior of such people will not be proper, but base. Ānanda, through their improper conduct, these beings will fall into the great hell of incessant pain. Why is this? Ānanda, there are some monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen who do not feel inspired when they hear sūtras like this one. Instead they do not trust these sūtras and they reject them. As soon as they die, they will all fall into the great Hell of Ultimate Torment. Ānanda, one should never attempt to measure the thus-gone ones. Why not? Because, Ānanda, the thus-gone ones are immeasurable, profound, vast, and difficult to judge.
“Ānanda, when some beings hear sūtras like this one, they become joyful, elated, and full of faith. Those beings obtain something wonderful. Their lives become meaningful and their humanity serves a purpose. Their conduct is excellent and they take hold of what is truly essential. They are freed from the three lower realms. [F.49.a] They become heirs of the thus-gone ones and obtain all that they need. Their trust is meaningful and they will receive their fair share of the provisions of the kingdom. They will trust deeply in noble beings and cut through Māra’s snares. They will cross over the wastelands of saṃsāra and remove the thorns of misery. They will reach a place of supreme joy and genuinely take refuge. As appropriate objects for others’ generosity, they are worthy recipients of offerings. These beings appear in the world only rarely, and when here they are to be held as proper objects of generosity. Why is that? It is because they have faith in the teachings of the thus-gone ones, which go against all worldly conventions.
“Ānanda, those beings do not possess any inferior forms of roots of virtue.  Ānanda, those beings are not just companions who befriend me for a few lifetimes only. And why is that? Because, Ānanda, some beings are pleased and delighted to hear me, but not to see me. Some, Ānanda, are pleased and delighted to see me, but not to hear me. Still others, Ānanda, are pleased and delighted both to see me and to hear me. Ānanda, whatever the case, when beings are pleased and delighted to see me or hear me, you can be certain that they are friends who have accompanied me for multiple lifetimes. The Thus-Gone One sees them, and the Thus-Gone One will liberate them. They have the same qualities as the Thus-Gone One. They have gone for refuge in the Thus-Gone One. The Thus-Gone One has accepted them.
“Ānanda, even during earlier times when I was practicing the conduct of a bodhisattva, [F.49.b] others came to see me, desperate and bound by fear, begging me to protect them from their fears, which I did. So now that I have awakened to perfect and complete buddhahood, I will certainly do the same. Ānanda, strive in faith; the Thus-Gone One urges you thus! Ānanda, the task before you has already been completed by the Thus-Gone One. The Thus-Gone One has pulled out the thorn of pride.
“Ānanda, if a person is willing to travel for hundreds of miles just to receive news of a friend and is delighted to hear that news, then how about if they actually meet their friend? Whoever relies on me and generates the roots of virtue will be recognized by the future thus-gone ones, the worthy ones, the completely perfect buddhas, who will think, ‘Those beings are the old friends of the thus-gone ones. They are also our friends.’
“Why is that? Ānanda, it is because friends please and delight each other. Whoever is dear to one’s friend is also dear and delightful to oneself. Therefore, Ānanda, have trust and understand it to be so. Develop trust and think, ‘I also entrust myself to the thus-gone ones, the worthy ones, the completely perfect buddhas  of the future. They are also my friends.’ Think like this, and your wishes will be fulfilled.
“Ānanda, think of this example: Consider a man who is strong and well-regarded but has only one son. Now, if that father has many friends, then even if he should pass away, the friends of the father will still accept the son and not reject him. Ānanda, in the same way, whoever has faith in me, I will accept as my friend. They will take refuge in me. The Thus-Gone One has many friends. [F.50.a] And because those friends of the Thus-Gone One speak genuinely and tell no lies, I entrust those friends of the Thus-Gone One to those who speak the truth—the future thus-gone ones, the worthy ones, the completely perfect buddhas. Therefore, Ānanda, strive to have faith! That is what I ask of you!”
On this topic, it is said:
Monks, at the time of the Bodhisattva’s birth, a great show of generosity was instigated. Moreover, five hundred children of noble family were born. Ten thousand girls, headed by Yaśovatī, were also born, as well as eight hundred female servants and five hundred male servants, headed by Chanda. Likewise ten thousand mares and ten thousand colts, headed by Kaṇṭhaka, were born. Finally five hundred female elephants and five hundred male elephants were born following the Bodhisattva’s birth. These births were all recorded in registers by King Śuddhodana and given to his young son for entertainment.
Through the power of the Bodhisattva and for his enjoyment, a bodhi tree grew at the center of the four billion regions, while a sandalwood-tree forest grew at the inner region. Also for the Bodhisattva’s enjoyment, five hundred parks sprang forth in the area surrounding the city. The entrances to five thousand treasures became visible as they broke forth from the earth. Thus all of King Śuddhodana’s intentions were perfectly fulfilled.
Then the king wondered, “Now, what shall I name my young son? Well, immediately when my son was born, all of my aims were fulfilled, so I will name him Sarvārthasiddha, Fulfiller of All Aims.” Then King  Śuddhodana arranged a great naming ceremony and announced, “This child’s name is Sarvārthasiddha.”
[F.52.a] Monks, although the Bodhisattva had now been born, his mother’s right side was not torn or damaged but had returned to its usual state. Moreover, Trita’s wells manifested with flowing waters, and three ponds of scented oil sprang forth. Then five thousand celestial maidens came before the Bodhisattva’s mother, bringing fragrant oils perfumed with the scent of celestial perfumes. They wanted to know how the birth had gone and whether she was feeling weary. Likewise five thousand celestial maidens bearing unguents came before the Bodhisattva’s mother and asked how the birth was and whether she was weary. Then five thousand celestial maidens bearing vases filled with water scented with celestial perfumes came before the Bodhisattva’s mother and asked how the birth was and whether she was weary. Next five thousand celestial maidens bearing divine children’s clothing came before the Bodhisattva’s mother and asked how the birth was and whether she was weary. Then five thousand celestial maidens bearing divine children’s ornaments came before the Bodhisattva’s mother and asked how the birth was and whether she was weary. Finally five thousand celestial maidens singing and playing divine instruments came before the Bodhisattva’s mother and asked how the birth was and whether she was weary.
Monks, for seven days following the Bodhisattva’s birth, he was honored with celestial and human music, respected, revered, [F.52.b] and given various offerings in the Lumbinī Grove. Food, drink, and enjoyments were proffered. The entire Śākya clan gathered, and everyone called out with delight, practiced generosity,  engaged in merit, and satisfied the needs of 32,000 priests each day. They gave anything that was desired to whoever desired it. Śakra and Brahmā also manifested themselves in the form of young priests within that gathering of priests and, sitting at the head of the line, they sang these verses of auspiciousness:
Monks, you may think that it was because of the Bodhisattva that Māyādevī died. But you should not look upon things that way, since she had reached the maximum extent of her lifespan. Monks, seven days after the bodhisattvas of the past were born, their mothers also died. And why is that? Because once a bodhisattva is born and has grown up, it would destroy his mother’s heart if he were to renounce his home.
Monks, seven days earlier Māyādevī had gone in great pomp from the city of Kapilavastu to the pleasure grove. However, with a splendor one trillion times greater than that, the Bodhisattva now entered the city of Kapilavastu. When he entered, five thousand vases filled with scented water were carried ahead of him. Likewise five thousand maidens carrying fans made of peacock feathers walked ahead. Five thousand maidens waving palm fronds preceded them, and farther ahead came five thousand maidens holding golden vases of scented water, who sprinkled this water upon the path. They were preceded by five thousand maidens holding various fresh garlands of wildflowers, as well as five thousand maidens carrying various boxes. Then came five thousand maidens holding fine jewels and sweeping the path. Farther ahead walked five thousand maidens carrying beautiful cushions, and  five thousand priests carrying bells and ringing out sounds of auspiciousness. In front of them there were five thousand beautifully decorated elephants. Then came twenty thousand horses covered with golden ornaments and full of jewels. [F.53.b]
Following the Bodhisattva were eighty thousand chariots beautifully outfitted with lattices of golden bells, and with parasols, victory banners, and flags hoisted. Then came forty thousand imposing foot soldiers and heroes wearing strong armor. Uncountable billions of gods of the desire and form realms, hovering in the sky, made various types of offerings to the Bodhisattva and followed after him. The Bodhisattva himself rode in a chariot, which the gods of the desire realm had decorated with a great array of ornaments. Twenty thousand celestial maidens with ornate jewelry held up jewel garlands and guided the chariot. Between every two of the celestial maidens was a human maiden, and between every two human maidens was a celestial maiden. However, because of the power of the Bodhisattva, the celestial girls did not find the smell of the human girls displeasing. Nor were the human maidens overwhelmed by the sight of the beautiful celestial maidens.
Monks, in the city of Kapilavastu, five hundred Śākyas had constructed five hundred homes for the Bodhisattva. When the Bodhisattva entered the city, they stood in front of these houses with their hands folded. Bowing reverentially, they invited the Bodhisattva:
“Sarvārthasiddha, please come here! God of Gods, please come here! Pure Being, please come here! Sublime Captain, please come here! Bringer of Pleasure, Joy, and Rapture, please come here!  You Who Are Renowned as Being beyond Reproach, please come here! All-Seeing One, please come here! Peerless One beyond Equal, with your splendor, qualities, and [F.54.a] body adorned with the major and minor signs, please come here!”
King Śuddhodana wanted to make everyone happy, so he took the Bodhisattva into all the houses. In this way it took four months before the Bodhisattva entered his actual residence, the palace known as Display of Gems.
Then the eldest of the elders of the Śākya clan gathered to discuss who among their women should be responsible for the upbringing, care, and nurturing of the Bodhisattva. They agreed that it should be a skilled and kind person who could care for him in a loving and altruistic atmosphere. Five hundred Śākya women came to volunteer, saying, “I will care for the prince! Please let me take care of the prince.”
The eldest male and female Śākyas then argued, “All of these women are impetuous young girls, who are vain and proud because of their beauty and youth. Such women are incapable of caring for the prince and his needs. However, the prince’s maternal aunt Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī would be able to raise the prince so that he is happy and well. She will also be able to please King Śuddhodana.”
Since everyone agreed with this suggestion, they encouraged Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī to take on this task. And indeed Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī raised the prince well. At that time thirty-two additional nurses were appointed to serve the Bodhisattva. Of these, eight would carry him, eight were nursemaids, eight were playmates, and eight were appointed to bathe him.
At that time the great sage Asita, who had the five extraordinary powers, was residing on the slopes of Himavat, the king of mountains, together with his sister’s son Naradatta. When the Bodhisattva was born, he saw many amazing miraculous displays and he perceived many gods who joyfully hovered in the sky, waving banners and calling out, “Buddha!” Witnessing this, he thought to himself, “Excellent! I must see this!” With his divine eye, he looked all over Jambudvīpa and saw that a prince had been born to King Śuddhodana in the city of Kapilavastu. It was a prince who shone with the light of merit, who was worshiped by everyone, and whose body was beautifully adorned with the thirty-two marks of a great being. He said to the young priest Naradatta,
“Young priest, listen! A jewel has come into this world! In the city of Kapilavastu, in the household of King Śuddhodana, a prince has been born. He shines with the light of merit, is worshiped by everyone, and is beautifully adorned with the thirty-two marks of a great being. If he remains in his palace, he will become a universal monarch who commands the four armies. He will be a victorious and pious Dharma king with the necessary strength to govern. He will also have seven precious possessions, which are the precious wheel, the precious elephant, the precious horse, the precious wife, the precious jewel, the precious steward, and the precious minister. He will beget one thousand sons, who will all be heroic, brave, handsome, and triumphant. By his innate strength, he will subdue and conquer the entire world and its oceans without using force or weapons, and in a way that accords with the doctrine. [F.55.a] In this way the entire world will be his kingdom. If, however, he leaves his home and goes forth as a renunciant, he will become a thus-gone one, a worthy one, a completely perfect buddha. He will become a teacher and a guide who is independent of others and renowned throughout the world. So come, let us go and see him.” 
Just like the king of swans, the great sage Asita, accompanied by his nephew Naradatta, soared through the sky to the city of Kapilavastu. When he arrived, he concealed his magical powers and entered the city on foot. He went to the palace of King Śuddhodana and walked right up to the palace gates where, monks, he saw many hundreds of thousands of animals gathered.
The gatekeeper returned from the king’s quarters and told the sage Asita to enter the palace. The sage Asita went before King Śuddhodana and told him, “Great King, may you be victorious! May you be victorious! May you live long! May you rule in accord with the Dharma!” [F.55.b]
King Śuddhodana first honored the sage by giving him water to bathe his feet and rinse his mouth. He then very respectfully seated him on a cushion. Once he saw that the sage was sitting comfortably, he respectfully addressed him, “Sage, I do not recall having seen you before. Why have you come here?” 
The king said, “Great Sage, the child is sleeping now. Please wait for a short while until he wakes.”
Monks, out of affection for the sage Asita, the Bodhisattva now showed signs of having awakened. King Śuddhodana carefully lifted Prince Sarvārthasiddha with both hands and carried him before the sage Asita. When the sage Asita looked at the Bodhisattva, he saw that his body was wonderfully adorned with the thirty-two marks and eighty signs of a great being. His body was superior even to that of Śakra, Brahmā, and the guardians of the world. It was even more splendorous than hundreds of thousands of suns, and all of its parts were perfectly beautiful.
The sage exclaimed, “Oh! An amazing being has been born in this world! An exceptional and amazing being has been born in this world!” He stood up from his seat, joined his palms, prostrated to the Bodhisattva’s feet, and circumambulated him.
He then took the Bodhisattva on his lap and remained pensive. He saw that the Bodhisattva’s body bore the thirty-two marks of a great being, and he knew that these marks could only indicate one of two possibilities. [F.56.a] He saw that if the Bodhisattva was to stay in the palace, he would become a universal monarch who commands the four armies. He would be a victorious and pious Dharma king with the necessary strength to govern. He would also have the seven precious possessions of the wheel, the elephant, the horse, the wife, the jewel, the steward, and the minister. He would beget one thousand sons, who would all be heroic, brave, handsome, and triumphant. By his innate strength, he would subdue and conquer the entire world and its oceans without using force or weapons, and in a way that accords with the doctrine. In this way the entire world would be his kingdom. On the other hand, if he were to leave his home and go forth as a renunciant, he would become a thus-gone one, renowned as the completely perfect Buddha, a peerless leader. As the sage saw this, tears streamed down his face and he sat there sobbing. 
Seeing the sage crying, shedding tears and sobbing, the king became afraid and distressed, and he very quickly inquired of the great sage, “Sage! You shed tears, you cry, and you sigh deeply. What is wrong? Is some misfortune to befall the prince?”
The great sage Asita replied to the king, “Great King, I am not crying for sake of the prince, and no misfortune will befall him. I cry for myself because, Great King, I am elderly, old, and decrepit. Prince Sarvārthasiddha, however, will awaken to perfect and complete buddhahood and turn the wheel of the unexcelled Dharma in a way that cannot be done by any ascetic, priest, god, demon, or anybody else who follows worldly teachings. He will teach in a way that is beneficial and brings happiness to the world, including the gods. He will share a teaching of pure conduct, which is good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end. It will be a teaching with excellent meaning and excellent words. It will be unique, perfect, pure, purifying, and consummate. [F.56.b]
“When those who are bound within the caste system hear his teaching, those who are not free from birth will be liberated. Likewise those who are afflicted by old age, sickness, death, grief, lamentation, suffering, unhappiness, and irritation will be liberated from old age, sickness, death, grief, lamentation, suffering, unhappiness, and irritation. The rain of the sublime teaching will refresh those who are tormented by the flames of desire, anger, and stupidity.
“He will lead onto the straight path to nirvāṇa those beings who are veiled by a variety of mistaken views and who have entered mistaken paths. He will free from bondage those who are trapped in the cage and prison of saṃsāra and who are bound by the fetters of disturbing emotions. In those beings who are blinded by darkness, clouded vision, and the cataract of ignorance, he will engender the eye of insight. For those beings who are wounded by the thorn of disturbing emotions, he will pull out that thorn.  Great King, an uḍumbara flower sometimes, though rarely, blooms in the world. Great King, in the same way, rarely, once in many millions of years, a blessed buddha is born in the world. And this great prince will certainly awaken to unexcelled, perfect, and complete buddhahood.
“Once he awakens to unexcelled, perfect, and complete buddhahood, he will liberate many billions of beings, bringing them across the ocean of saṃsāra and establishing them in immortality. Yet I shall not live to see this jewel of the Buddha. This is why, Great King, I cry and sigh so sadly. [F.57.a] I will not be able to venerate him, even if I remain healthy.
“Great King, if you look in our scriptures, you will see that the prince Sarvārthasiddha will not stay at home. The reason is, Great King, that the prince Sarvārthasiddha bears the thirty-two marks of a great being. And what are these marks?
“(1) Great King, Prince Sarvārthasiddha has a crown extension. That, Great King, is the first mark of a great being found on Prince Sarvārthasiddha. (2) Great King, Prince Sarvārthasiddha’s hair is deep blue like the neck of a peacock or kohl powder, and curls to the right. (3) His forehead is even. (4) Great King, at the place between Sarvārthasiddha’s eyebrows, there is a ringlet of hair the color of snow or silver. (5) Great King, Prince Sarvārthasiddha’s eyelashes are like those of a bull. (6) His eyes are of a deep blue color. (7) He has forty teeth. (8) He has even teeth. (9) His teeth are without gaps between them. (10) His teeth are perfectly white. (11) Great King, Prince Sarvārthasiddha has the voice of Brahmā. (12) His experience of taste is unexcelled. (13) His tongue is very long and slender. (14) His jaw is like that of a lion. (15) His shoulders are well-rounded. (16) Seven of his body parts are well-rounded. (17) His chest is broad. (18) His skin is smooth and golden. (19) When standing up straight, his hands reach his knees. (20) His torso is like that of a lion. (21) Great King, Prince Sarvārthasiddha’s arm span and height are identical, like the banyan tree. (22) Each of his hairs grows individually, and their tips curl to the right and upward. (23) His private parts are well sheathed. (24) His thighs are well-rounded. (25) His calves are like those of the black antelope, the king of deer. (26) His fingers are long. (27) His heels are broad. (28) [F.57.b]  His arches are high. (29) His palms and the soles of his feet are soft. (30) His fingers and toes are webbed. (31) Great King, on the palms of his long-fingered hands and on the soles of his long-toed feet, there are beautiful thousand-spoked wheels with both center and rim. (32) Great King, Prince Sarvārthasiddha has even and well-placed feet.
“Great King, Prince Sarvārthasiddha possesses these thirty-two marks of a great being. Great king, marks of this type are not found on the body of a universal monarch; these are the marks found on the body of a bodhisattva.
“Great King, the body of Prince Sarvārthasiddha is adorned with eighty minor marks. Because he has these signs, Prince Sarvārthasiddha will not stay at home, but will certainly develop renunciation and depart from his home. Great King, what are these eighty minor marks? Well, Great King, (1) Prince Sarvārthasiddha’s fingernails are rounded, (2) copper colored, and (3) glossy. (4) His fingers and toes are rounded, (5) long, and (6) well proportioned. (7) His veins are not visible. (8) His anklebones are not visible. (9) His joints are not visible. (10) His feet are even, rather than uneven. (11) His heels are broad. Great King, (12) Prince Sarvārthasiddha has markings on his hands that are even, (13) clear, (14) deep, (15) straight, and (16) well arranged. (17) His lips are red like the bimba fruit. (18) His voice is not loud. (19) His tongue is supple, soft, and copper colored. (20) His voice is melodious like the trumpeting of an elephant, or the roll of thunder. [F.58.a]
“Moreover, (21) his arms are long. (22) He is excellently clean. (23) His body is soft. (24) His body is not subject to fear or hesitancy. (25) His body is well proportioned, (26) heroic, (27) beautiful, and (28) well composed. (29) His kneecaps are broad, large, and well-developed. Great King, (30) Prince Sarvārthasiddha’s body is rounded, (31) very smooth, (32) straight, and (33) well structured. (34) His navel is deep, (35) not crooked, and (36) tapering.  (37) Like a sage, he is very pure in his conduct. (38) He is exceedingly attractive, (39) of pure appearance, and (40) shines with a light that dispels all darkness.
“Great King, (41) Prince Sarvārthasiddha moves with the serene gait of an elephant, (42) the stride of a lion, (43) the step of a great bull, (44) the swoop of a swan. (45) His steps always make beautiful circles to the right. (46) His sides are rounded, (47) well proportioned, and (48) straight. (49) His waist is slight like the curve of a bow. (50) His body is free of any blemishes or dark spots. Great King, (51) Prince Sarvārthasiddha has rounded canines. (52) His canines are sharp and well spaced. (53) His nose is elegantly high. (54) His eyes are clear, (55) stainless, (56) warm, (57) elongated, (58) large, and (59) resemble blue lotuses.
“Great King, Prince Sarvārthasiddha has (60) even eyebrows that are (61) thick, (62) dark, (63) continuous, and (64) tapered. (65) His cheeks are plump, (66) even, [F.58.b] (67) unblemished, and (68) free from the flush of aggression. (69) His sense organs are clearly apparent. Great King, (70) Prince Sarvārthasiddha has a perfect tuft of hair between his brows. (71) His face and forehead are proportional. (72) His head is large. (73) His hair is black, (74) even, (75) fragrant, (76) soft, (77) well kempt, (78) well arranged, and (79) curly. Great King, (80) Prince Sarvārthasiddha has hair that curls into the forms of the endless knot, the mark of auspiciousness, the mark of eternal happiness, and the mark of prosperity. Great King, Prince Sarvārthasiddha has all of these eighty marks.
“Great King, these eighty marks that Prince Sarvārthasiddha bears mean that Prince Sarvārthasiddha will not remain in his home, but will certainly leave the palace in order to live the life of a renunciant.”
When King Śuddhodana heard the sage Asita’s prophecy about the prince, he rejoiced and felt satisfied, elated, joyful, and blissful. He rose from his seat, prostrated at the feet of the Bodhisattva, and spoke this verse:
And so, monks, King Śuddhodana satisfied the sage Asita and his nephew Naradatta appropriately with a banquet, offered them fine garments, and circumambulated them. Then the great sage Asita returned to his own abode by magically flying through the air. Once there, the great sage Asita told the young priest, “Naradatta, when you hear that a buddha has appeared in this world, [F.59.a] you must go immediately to see him and take ordination with that teacher. This will have a long-lasting purpose and bring you benefit and happiness.”
On this topic, it is said:
“Friends, there is a bodhisattva, a great being, who has excellently and diligently practiced purification, generosity, discipline, patience, diligence, concentration, knowledge, methods, studies, conduct, ascetic practices, and austerities for countless trillions of eons. He has great love, great compassion, and great joy, and is possessed of a noble mind by virtue of its equanimity. He strives for the benefit of all beings and is shielded by the armor of diligence. He has appeared out of the roots of virtue that were brought about by previous buddhas.
“He is adorned with the marks of a hundred merits and is full of a determined resolve. He conquers the enemy’s army and has a joyful and excellent mind without stains. He bears the crowning banner of great wisdom. He uproots the strength of the demons. He is the great leader of the trichiliocosm and is worshiped by gods and humans. He has performed great sacrifices and possesses an exceedingly excellent accumulation of merit. Since he has his mind set on deliverance, he will uproot birth, old age, and death. He is wellborn and will bring beings to awakening. Born into the family of King Ikṣvāku, he has come to the world of humans. He will soon awaken to unexcelled, perfect, and complete buddhahood. [F.61.a] Let us go and pay homage to him, serve him, respect him, and praise him. The other gods who are overcome by their pride will see us paying homage to the Bodhisattva, and they will cast aside their pride, haughtiness, and arrogance. They will also go to pay homage, service, and respect to the Bodhisattva. This will bring lasting purpose, benefit, and happiness to those gods, until they attain immortality. The might and prosperity of King Śuddhodana will become renowned. Let us make a true prophecy about the Bodhisattva, and then return.” 
After the god Maheśvara had said this, he took off for the palace of King Śuddhodana surrounded by one million two hundred thousand gods, bathing the entire city of Kapilavastu in light. The gatekeeper informed the king of their arrival, and Maheśvara entered the palace with the king’s permission. He prostrated, touching his head to the Bodhisattva’s feet, drew his robe over one shoulder, and circled the Bodhisattva many hundreds of thousands of times. He then took the Bodhisattva onto his lap and spoke these joyful words to King Śuddhodana: “Great King, you should be supremely delighted! The reason, Great King, is that the Bodhisattva’s body is beautifully ornamented with the major and minor marks of a great being, and he outshines the world of gods, humans, and demigods with his color, magnificence, renown, and glory. Great King, it is therefore certain that the Bodhisattva will awaken to unexcelled, perfect, and complete buddhahood.”
[F.61.b] Monks, in this way the god Maheśvara, together with the many gods of the pure realms, made offerings to the Bodhisattva and showed him great respect. As they had now given the true prophecy, they returned to their own abodes.
On this topic, it is said:
This concludes the seventh chapter, on the birth.
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