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The Ascetic Sumedhā' s Life, and the Ten Perfections

Bhikkhu Giac-Hanh Dhammadhara,
Sri Lanka, 2003

Note: Read with VU-Times font (Viet-Pali Unicode)


Section - I: Abbreviation
Section - II: Introduction
Section - III: Sumedhā' s conception on life
Section - IV: What is the meaning of Pāramī and its importance in Buddhism?
Section - V: How many kinds of Pāramīs are there in Theravāda Buddhism,and what the is meaning of them?
Section - VI: What are the thirty varieties of Perfection (Pārami)?
Section -VII: Why is it called minor perfection in English or Cūla-pāramī in Pāli?
Section - VIII: The Ten perfections in detail
Section - IX: Conclusion


 Section - I: Abbreviation

Bv: Buddhavaṃsa
Dhp: Dhamma-pāda
Sa: Sattubhattaka
Jā: Jātaka
Ma: Mahājanaka
Ch: Chapter
V: Verse
Pg: Page
No: Number

 Section - II: Introduction

In Theravādin and Mahāyanic Buddhism there are Pāramīs and it is very important not only for Two Buddhist schools but also other religions if they want to practice them. Pāramīs lead one nearer and nearer to Nibbāna. As we know from all the past Bodhisattas, everyone wanting to become a Fully-Enlightened One must follow the Ten Pāramis according to their temperaments-Pa��āpārāmī, Saddāparamī, and Viriyāpāramī. A real Bodhisatta who follows Pa��āpāramī must practice throughout four asaṅkkheyyas and one hundred thousand world cycles. A real Bodhisatta who follows Saddāpāramī must spend eight asaṅkkheyyas and one hundred thousand world cycles. And a real Bodhisatta who follows Viriyāparamī must be practiced sixteen asaṅkkheyyas and one hundred thousand world cycles. In the present time our Gotama Buddha also had performed these Ten Pāramīs through four asaṅkkheyyas and one hundred thousand world cycles until he became the Fully-Enlightened One.

Therefore, every Bodhisatta who wants to become a Fully-Enlightened One in the future must practice the Ten Pāramīs at least four asaṅkkheyyas and one hundred thousand world cycles.

Section - III: Sumedhā's conception on life

Sumadhā was a son of rich man at Aramavatī, the royal city. He was born in a rich family. His parents were of pure morality and a high race at that time.

At the age of sixteen Sumedhā had acquired enough education. Unfortunately, his parents passed away when he was very young. All of his parent's wealth was guarded by his parents' personal treasurer (financier). When he had come of age, the financier handed over all wealth of his parents to him together with the lists of various things. When he saw his properties, he had a great thought to himself: "My great grandparents, grandparents and parents were only able to make great collecting and save properties, but they did have not the ability to take them along with them. As for me, I will carry all the wealth along with me after my death." So at that moment a deep understanding of life arose in him: "If there is heat, there must be cold; in the same way, if there is death, there must be deathlessness."

After this deep thought about his future life, he opened his treasure houses and gave all his possessions away such as money-houses, silver-houses, golden-houses and so on. Afterwards he went to Himavantā and made himself an ascetic. Only within seven days, he obtained supernormal-power. He could travel in the air.

Some time after, there was a golden occasion to welcome the Buddha Dīpaṅkarā to Rammavatī city. The people of Rammavatī city were repairing the road, and were very happy to wait for the coming of Buddha Dipankara. While traveling through the sky, suddenly the ascetic ā saw the people very cheerful in the road-reconstruction and city-decoration. He came down and questioned them. They answered that they were repairing the road in order to welcome Buddha Dīpaṅkarā and his followers so they could tread on the road comfortably. The ascetic ā felt very delighted and has a deep thought: "Oh! It is very difficult to hear the word 'Buddha' and it is indeed, harder to become a Buddha." So he asked permission from them to give him a room to repair a part of the path.

With his supernormal-power he could have finished the path repairing quickly but he did not like to do so. So he used his own labor with the purpose that he would gain more merit by using his labor rather than by using his supernormal-power. Before he finished repairing his portion, the Buddha and his disciples came. To protect the feet of the Buddha and his disciples from getting soiled, he laid down on the mud as a human-bridge. Among the welcoming people, there was a young woman, named Sumittā. As soon as the young woman saw the ascetic, she was very very happy and delighted. She therefore gave five lotus-flowers to him and left three lotus-flowers in her hands. The ascetic a offered the five lotus-flowers to the Buddha while lying on the muddy road.

On seeing the Buddha with noble glory the young a thought: "If I wish I can even become an Arahant who has eliminated all defilements (kilesas) today. Yet it is not appropriated for me to leave others wandering in Samsāra although I have enough energy to save all beings. I will try to become a Buddha like Buddha Dipankara." So he immediately decided with firm resolution to become a Buddha. Afterwards, he has made the following bold proclamations:

Buddho-bodeyyaṃ: As I know the Four Noble Truths, so shall I make others know them;

Mutto-mocceyyaṃ: As I am liberated from the bonds of the life, so shall I make others be librated likewise;

Tiṇṇo-tareyyam: As I swim across the great whirlpool of Samsāra, so shall I make others do the same.

The Buddha Dipankara, standing in front of Sumedhā, prophesied as follows:

This young ascetic a, lying down as a bridge at the risk of his life, will become a Buddha like me in the future. On hearing this, the people cheered and honored ascetic Sumedhā. Although he laid down as a human-bridge, but the Buddha and his disciples did not tread on him, only passed by him. The future Buddha, ascetic a, having obtained the prophecy made by Buddha Dīpaṅkarā, got up and sat cross legged with great joy. When he reviewed ways and means to be a Buddha, he found the Ten Noble Perfections such as Charity, Morality and so on. While he reflected on the Ten Perfections repeatedly, the earth shook violently as if cheering the Bodhisattva.

Section - IV: What is the meaning of Pāramī and its importance in Buddhism?

Pāramī is a Pāli word. It means "Perfection" or "Completeness" or "Highest state."

Pāramī is very important in Buddhism.The one who want to fulfill one's wish must practice the Ten Pāramīs, because the Ten Pāramīs are very powerful for any person who wants to attain the highest destination in the present life as well as in the future existences. Even our Lord Buddha before attaining Full-Enlightenment performed these Ten Paramis through four asaṃkkheyyas and one-lakh world cycles (cattari asaṅkkheyyani kappasatasahassanca.[1] ). Without performing Ten Pāramis He could not become a Buddha. So, these Ten Pāramīs are very important in Buddhism for anyone who wants to fulfill their better life in this very life as well as in the future existences. Therefore, one should perform them as much as possible.

Section - V: How many kinds of Pāramīs are there in Theravāda Buddhism, and what are the meanings of them?

According to the Theravāda Tradition there are Ten kinds of Pāramīs, namely:

1- Dāna-pāramī: the perfection in charity,
2- Sīla-pāramī: the perfection in morality,
3- Nekkhamma-pāramī: the perfection in renunciation,
4- Pa��ā-pāramī: the perfection in wisdom,
5- Vīriya-pāramī: the perfection in effort,
6- Khantī-pāramī: the perfection in patience,
7- Saccā-pāramī: the perfection in truthfulness,
8- Aditthā-pāramī: the perfection in resolution,
9- Mettā-pāramī: the perfection in loving-kindness,
10- Upekkhā-pāramī: the perfection in equanimity.

These are the Ten Paramīs in the Theravada Tradition of Buddhism, which our Lord Buddha had fulfilled through four asaṅkkheyyas and one hundred thousand world cycles (cattariī asaṅkkheyyāni kappasatasahassaṅca.[2]) In order to become a Fully - Enlightened One.

Section - VI:What are the thirty varieties of Perfection (Paramīs)?

Theravāda Buddhism has three levels of Paramī, they are, namely;

- Cūla-pāramī: minor perfection,
- Upa-pāramī: middle perfection,
- Paramatha-pāramī: major perfection.

One who has performed the above perfections by sacrificing the external properties, such as money, silver, gold, clothes, house, medicine, food and so on is has achieved minor perfection (cūla-pāramī).

Section VII: Why is it called "minor perfection" in English or cūla-paramī in Pāli?

Because this pāramī is very easy for everyone performing it. If one has a lot of properties or if one has generous mind one can perform this kind of pāramī very easy.

For example:

When one sees another person in an unfortunate situation, unhappy circumstances such as he has no clothes to wear, without food to eat, without lodging to dwell in, one may feel very pity on him with a generous mind. Then one can give away one's properties to that unfortunate person. In this case, one can perform minor perfection (cūla-pāramī) in Buddhism.

Concerning this minor perfection (cūla-pāramī) we have a special story of Bodhisatta Sumedhā as follows:

In the ancient time, our Lord Buddha (Gotama Buddha) was a bodhisatta named Sumadhā. He was born in a very rich family, when he reached the age of sixteen his grandparents and his parents had passed away and left for him a lot of properties such as gold pots, silver pots, money, places, etc., then he himself thought that: "My grandparents and my parents know how to earn wealth, money, treasure, but they could not know how to carry with them when they passed away."

Then he himself had a great thought that: "I must carry all my wealth after my death by the mean of performing charity (dāna)." Therefore, he announced to the area of his living that: "Everyone who needs my properties can come and take it please do not hesitate I will give it for you." After

announcement Bodhisatta a gave away all his properties and went to the forest to become a hermit. By performing this deed his wealth was never lost, and good results always follows him as his shadow follows his body.

"Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā
Manoseṭṭha manomaya
Manasā ce paduṭṭhena
Bhāsasi vā karoti vā
Tato naṃ dukkhamanveti
Cakkamva vahato padaṃ."

"All mental phenomena have mind as their forerunner;
they have mind as their chief; they are mind-made.
If one speaks or acts with an evil and, 'dukkha' follows him just as the
wheel follows the hoof- print of the ox that draws the cart"

"Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā
Manoseṭṭhā manomayā
Manasā ce pasannena
Bhāsati vā karoti vā
Tato nam sukha manveti
Chāyāva anapāyinī."

"All mental phenomena have mind as their forerunner;
they have mind as their chief; they are mind-made.
If one speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness (sukha) follows him
like shadow that never leaves him."

Section - VIII: The Ten Perfections (pāmīs) in detail

1 - Dāna-parami: the fulfillment of the perfection of Charity (dāna)

In this case, firstly the boddhisatta fulfilled the perfection of Charity (dāna) by giving away his own properties. It means he gave both animate and inanimate properties to others with a willing mind. By the fulfillment of his charity perfection (dāna-pāramī), he (the Bodhisatta) did not wish to gain worldly pleasures, but in order to attain Supreme Enlightenment. According to the Buddhavaṃsa Atthakatha or Jataka he fulfilled the charity perfection (dāna-pāramī) in many existences. Among them, the lives of King Sivi and the king Vessantarā are very famous and well-known.

King Sivi, the Bodhisatta, was very earnest in giving charity (dāna), and so Sakka, the king of the Deva realm, wanted to investigate. Therefore, Sakka himself came disguised in the form of an old blind Brahmin and asked for the eyes of king Sivi. King Sivi took out both of his eyes and offered them willingly.

In another case, the Bodhisatta, in the life of King Vesantarā, donated food, clothing and other utensils valued at six hundred thousand silver coins, in six pavilions daily. Once, the Brahmins from Kalinga asked the King to donate to them the invaluable white elephant and the King offered it to them generously too. His followers objected to the last donation, because white elephant is regarded as a great honorable wealth to the people as well as to the country. Therefore, he had to leave his royal palace and live as an ascetic in the valley of Vankabā in the Himavantā together with his Queen Maddi Devī, his son Jāli, and daughter Kahṇajina. During the time of his staying there, the brahmin Jūjakā asked for his children, and he offered them also. He also offered his wife Queen Maddī to Sakka who disguised himself as a Brahmin.

In the stories above, the Bodhisatta donated animate and inanimate properties. He donated not only his own properties but also his wife, as well as his children, in order to fulfill his charity perfection (dāna-pāramī) in many existences. Moreover, he sacrificed his own limbs, even his own life, in many existences without hesitation and fear. So, his intention was very high. This is the special lesson for us in this very life.

"Idha modati pecca modati
katapu��o ubhayattha modati.
So modati so pamodati
Disvā kammavisuddhamattano."

"Here he rejoices, hereafter he rejoices.
In both states the well-doer rejoices.
He rejoices, exceedingly rejoices,
Perceiving the purity of his own deeds."

2 - Sīla-pāramī: the fulfillment of the perfection of Morality (sīla)

Controlling the verbal actions and bodily actions due to avoid unwholesome deeds is called morality (sīla). According to the Buddhist tradition there are different kinds of morality (siīla), and the people who observe them are also different. There are five precepts or eight precepts or nine precepts for lay devotees, and ten precepts for novices, and two hundred twenty seven precepts for Buddhist monks, etc.

The Bodhisatta fulfilled his morality perfection (sīla-pāramī) in his many existences. We can say that he fulfilled the morality of perfection through four asaṅkkheyyas and one hundred thousand world cycles (cattarī asaṅkkheyyāni kappasatasahassa�ca.[6]) There is a very famous story of Prince Alīnasattu who fulfilled the perfection of morality. His father while hunting in the forest, reached to banyan tree that was occupied by an ogre who had the power to catch and eat everybody who passed nearby his area. His father returned home after giving a promise to the ogre that he would come back on the next day to be eaten by the ogre. When his son who named Alīnasattu knew about this situation, on behalf of his father, he himself went to the place occupied by the ogre. When the ogre saw prince Alīnasattu coming boldly, the ogre was humbled and dared not kill him. Finally, the ogre listened to a Dhamma talk by prince Alīnasattu and became one who undertook the five precepts. As we knew in the charity perfection (dāna-pāramī) the Bodhisatta has already scarified his life in order to fulfill the perfection of charity (dāna-pāramī). Therefore,, in the case of fulfillment of perfection of morality he never hesitated to risk his life due to fulfill his perfection of morality with bold mind through four asaṅkkheyyes and one hundred thousand world cycles (cattarī asaṅkkheyyāni kappasatasahassa�ca.)

3 - Nekkhamma-pāramī: the fulfillment of the perfection of Renunciation

Practicing an ascetic life and abandoning worldly sensual pleasure is called the fulfillment of the perfection of renunciation. For Bodhisatta left a golden throne many times in his past existences. When the Bodhisatta was a King Sutasoma (Jataka No.525.Vol 6), he left his golden throne and dear Queen, as well as dear sons and daughters, to become an ascetic. However, his life as Prince Ayoghara is perhaps the most notable. After the birth of Prince Ayoghara, he always lived in an iron cage because he wanted to escape from the danger of ogres. He had to learn lessons there up to the age of sixteen. When he reached sixteen, his father had an intention to give him the throne and he was taken out of the cage. At that time, the prince himself thought that: "In past lives I have been in my mother's womb for ten months and in iron cage for sixteen years. Though I had escaped from them. But I have not escaped from death yet." Because of this deeply thought, he abandoned the royal throne and went to the forest to become an ascetic:

"Good friends and citizens assembled here,
Hearken, my trusty counselors, to me
Now that gray hairs upon my head appear,
Henceforth it is my well a monk to be"

Indeed, he knew about his friends and citizens. They always trusted in him as a counselor, but he realized that even a counselor or a king both of them could not escape the birth, aging, sickness and death. Only became an ascetic life might he escape from them. Therefore, he left his kingdom and became an ascetic forever. In the same way, we can look to when our Lord Buddha was a Prince Siddhattha. He was expected to take the royal throne. His life was luxurious but could not satisfy him, and he left the royal kingdom and became an ascetic. Finally he attained the final goal or Nibbāna (Deathlessness):

"Gataddhino visokassa
vippamuttassa sabbadhi
Parilāho na vijjati.

"For him who has completed the journey
for him who is sorrowless,
for him who from destroyed all ties,
the fever (of passion) exists not."

4- Paṅ��ā-pāramī: the fulfillment of the perfection of the Wisdom (pa��ā)

'Pa��ā' is the pāli word meaning 'Wisdom', and 'wisdom' means the knowledge in some aspects such as the knowledge of arts, knowledge of sciences, knowledge of philosophy, etc., knowledge here is meaning the skill in both practicing and theories which can differentiate the cause and result or cause and effect.

There are seven ways of developing wisdom:

1- Asking questions to the wise frequently,
2- Keeping one's mind and one's body clean,
3- Being balanced in faith, effort, etc.,
4- Disassociating with the unwise or fools,
5- Associating with the wise or sage,
6- Pondering deeply on difficult problems or matter,
7- Often desiring for the wisdom wherever lying down, sitting, standing or walking.

The Bv 60 stated that:

"Wisdom is best, the good confess
Like the moon in starry skies
Virtue, fortune, righteousness,
Are the handmaids of the wise."

Therefore, according to this quotation the wisdom is the best and it takes a predominant role in the performing of various functions. It is known as Vimamsadhipati, one of the four predominant conditions. That wisdom is of three kinds:

- Sutamaya-pa��ā: the wisdom obtained from hearing,
- Cintāmaya-pa��ā: the wisdom obtained from thinking,
- Bhāvanāmaya-pa��ā: the wisdom obtained from Jhāna and phala.

Based on these three kinds of wisdom, the Bodhisatta strived for attainment of mundane psychic power (lokiya jhāna abhi��a). Then he strived for the attainment of lokiya bhāvanā pa��ā until he reached sankharupekkhā vipassanā�āṇa. He had strived to obtain them because he wanted to work for the welfare of all beings, as well as saving all beings from the misery of Samsāra. So the Bodhisatta fulfilled the perfection of wisdom up to the state of sankharupekkhā�āna before he attained Buddhahood.

5 - Vīriya-pāramī: the fulfillment of the perfection of Effort (vīriya)

The Bodhisatta, in fulfilling the perfection of Effort, tried all his best, risked his own body such that the blood and flesh dried up and only sinews, bones, and skin remained.

In order to fulfill his perfection he forgot himself and tried to accomplish a task only. Whatever obstruction or difficulty, he did not step back with fear and hesitation. Besides, he strived to overcome many difficulties until he had reached the final goal (Nibbāna). His mind had steadfast strenuous effort in noble righteous. Which is called right effort (sammā-vāyāma). Right effort is also known as right exertion (sammāppadhāna), which is the endeavor to put away evil that has arisen in the past, to abstain from evil that has not arisen yet, to strive for the arising of good, that has not yet arisen, and to develop good that has already arisen.

The Māhajanaka-Jātaka No 539.V6 states that: "Who art thou, striving manfully here in mid-ocean from land? Who is the friend thou trustiest in, to lend to these a helping hand?"

By effort one can accomplish one's wish in a small case, as well as a big case or important situation. Without putting any effort in to studying we can not gain what we want to obtain. Therefore, effort is very important in fulfilling the task. Looking at the many past existences of our Lord Buddha. So we can see clearly whatever the Bodhisatta had done in the past while fulfilling the perfection of effort, he did not make less effort for ordinary tasks nor put forth more energy for more arduous ones. He always made the same maximum exertion whether for a small task or a great task. So his exertion was constantly going on and on while he was fulfilling any wish of his life. Therefore, in the Cp A 274 it is said that energy (vīriya) is the highest effort (uttamaṃ padhānaṃ), because it is able to bring one to Supreme Enlightenment (sammāsabodhim pāpetum samatthatāya).

While the ship was crossing the sea, it was violently struck by a great storm. Although all the men on the ship were hopeless and did not attempt to survive the disaster, the Bodhisatta used all his strength and swam in the wide ocean for the seven days without taking a rest. Even though he felt very tired he strived so much. Then he not only escaped from the disaster with the help of the Goddess Manimekhalā but he also gained the throne of Mithīlā. In this dangerous situation if he did not make any effort to swim, he might not meet anyone who would save him, and he would die like others who went together with him for trading in other lands. Therefore, effort is very important in every situation. Without effort our Lord Buddha could not be a Buddha at the present time. In the same way, without effort Bodhisatta Māhajanaka could not reach other lands. Otherwise he might have died in the ocean like the others. So effort is a special lesson fore everyone who wishes to fulfill for one's wish.[10]

"Uṭṭhānena ppamādena
saṃyamena damena ca
Dipaṃ kayirātha medhāvī
Yaṃ ogho nābhikirati."

"By sustained effort, earnestness, discipline, and self-control
let the wise man make for himself an island,
which no flood overwhelms."

6 - Khantī-pāramī: the fulfillment of the perfection of the Patience (khanti)

Tolerance and forbearance arise out of a peaceful mind with the thought: " If I retaliate to the ill-treatment done to me by a stupid person, I shall also be a stupid one."

"Nahiverena verāni
sammanti'dha kudācancaṃ
Esa dhammo sanatano."

"Hatred never ceases through hatred in this world;
Through love alone it ceases. This is an eternal law."

Such kind of practice is called the fulfillment of the perfection of Patience.

The Bodhisatta, for the welfare of all beings, fulfilled the perfection of patience in four asaṅkkheyyasand one hundred thousand world cycles. (cattarī asaṅkkheyyāni kappasatasahassa�-ca.) [13]

Regarding to the fulfillment of the perfection of patience the life of the great monkey-king is notable. A Brahmin, the future Devadatta, climbed up a tree, but unfortunately a branch of the tree broke, and he fell into a ravine. When the monkey-king saw him crying, he compassionately took him out of the ravine. While the tired monkey-king was sleeping with his head upon the Brahmin's lap, the stupid ungrateful Brahmin mercilessly struck the monkey-king with a stone in order to have his flesh as a meal. Indeed, the Brahmin was a very rude person; he had no gratitude to his benefactor. So, the monkey-king woke up and suddenly ran up a tree. But really the monkey-king was still worried that the stupid, ungrateful Brahmin might lose his way in the forest and die. As he dared not get down to the ground, he jumped from one tree to another, showing the Brahmin the way to his home by the drops of blood shedding from his head.

"Na pupphagandho paṭivātam eti
na candanaṃ tagaramallikā vā
sata� ca gandho pativātam eti
sabbā disā sappuriso pavāti."

"The perfume of flower blows not against the wind,
nor does the fragrance of sandalwood, tagara and jasmine,
but the fragrance of the virtuous blows against the wind,
the virtuous man pervades every direction."

"Candanaṃ tagaraṃ vā' pi
uppalaṃ atha vassikī
Etesaṃ gandhajātānaṃ sīlagandho anuttaro."

"Sandalwood, tagara, lotus, jasmine:
above all these kinds of fragrance,
 the perfume of virtue is by far the best."

By this monkey-king's story as well as verses, Nos 54 -55 in the Dhamma-pāda we can realize that the fragrance of a noble person is the best one in the world and it can pervade everywhere, against the wind, and flies in all directions in the world. Such as the deed of the monkey-king who took the Brahmin out from the ravine and showed him the way to go back to his house.

7- Saccā-pāramī: the fulfillment of the perfection of Truthfulness (sacca)

Not telling a lie only telling the truth and always keeping one's promise is called the perfection of truthfulness (saccā-pāramī). Especially, the Bodhisatta never told lies; he always kept his words as he promised others and he did as he said in order to fulfill the perfection of the truthfulness. The Bodhisatta had fulfilled the perfection of truthfulness for four asaṅkkheyas and one hundred thousand world cycles (cattarī asaṅkkheyyāni kappasatasahassa�ca.) [16]

The life of the Bodhisatta as King Mahāsutasoma is remarkable in the fulfillment of the perfection of truthfulness (saccā-pāramī), (Mahāsutasoma Jātaka.No537.Vol.6). While the Bodhisatta was King Mahāsutasoma, King Porisāda was expelled from his country, because he was found eating human beings passing by. One day, a sharp stump pierced his sole. In order to heal wound, he made a pledge to the guardian deva of a banyan tree, saying: "Oh Deva, help me, please! If you heal my wound in only during one week. I will offer you as a sacrifice the blood from the throats of all Jambudipa Kings. "Within one week his wound healed of its own accord, and he caught all Jambudīpa kings to offer their blood as sacrifice. King Mahāsutasoma, just before being arrested, made a promise to a Brahmin to listen to the Dhamma propounded by the Brahmin. So he requested Porisāda to let him fulfill his promise to the Brahmin, promising that he would come back after he had listened to the Dhamma. Porisāda released him easily. After he had heard the Dhamma, though he knew that he could be killed, he came back to Porisāda without breaking his promise. Porisāda was surprised to see him again and asked why he was not afraid to die. King Mahāsutasoma preached the Dhamma to Porisāda and thus Porisāda became a good man immediately. So he released all the arrested kings. With the help of kingMahāsutasoma, Porisāda regained his kingdom. The truthfulness of King Mahāsutasoma not only helped himself but influenced many others.

"Dhammapīty sukhaṃ seti
vippasannena cetasā
Ariyappavedite dhamme
sadāramati paṇdito."

"He who imbibes the Dhamma abides in happiness with mind pacified;
the wise man ever delights in the Dhamma revealed by the Ariyas."

The delight in the Dhamma and truthfulness of King Mahāsutasoma was very effective. It made good not only for him but also helped others know how to gain benefits as well as be free from all suffering.

8 - Adiṭṭhāna-pāramī: the fulfillment of the perfection of Resolution (adiṭṭhāna)

Adiṭṭhāna is a pāli word, meaning "firm determination" or "solemn resolution" to perform good deeds that have already been planned to be done. The one who always keeps adiṭṭhāna focuses on the plan by which he wants to do it. The Bodhisatta, in his many past existences, fulfilled the perfection of resolution. It is obvious that the Bodhisatta fulfilled the perfection of resolution in the life of Prince Temiya. The Bodhisatta, in his previous existence before the life of Prince Metiya, had been born in hell (niraya) for some minor error in his judgment as a king in settling disputes.

"Sabbapāpassa akaranaṃ
kusalassa upasampadā
Sacitta pariyopanaṃ
etam budddhana sasanaṃ."

"Not to do evil,
To cultivate good
to purify one's mind.
This is the teaching of the Buddhas."

The one-month-old prince Temiya, lying under the while royal parasol, attained the knowledge of jatissara that could recall the previous existences while he was gazing at the parasol, he saw his life in hell. He was greatly socked and afraid of becoming a king. So the goodness of the while parasol, who has been his mother in the past life, knowing this intention, advised him thus. "my beloved son, Temiya, do not be afraid; if you do not want to be a king, disguised yourself to be a dumb and deaf person".

Since at that time onwards, he made up hi mind to pretend to be a dumb and deaf person. So he did not speak as well as he did not listen to others. When he reached the age of sixteen his father decided that he was not worthy of royal throne and gave the order to expel him to the forest and kill him there. When he was about to be killed, he explained to his parents why he pretended to be deaf and dumb. After explanation he made himself a recluse.

"Dullabho purisāja��o
na so sabbattha jāyati
yatha so jāyatī dīro
taṃ kulaṃ sukhamedhati."

Hard to find is a man of great wisdom;
such as man is not born everywhere.
Where such a wise man is born,
That family thrives happily.

9 - Mettā-pāramī: the ffulfillment of the perfection of Loving-kindness (Mettā)

Mettā is a pāli word, it means "loving-kindness," or having the desire to bring about the welfare of others. It is different from the love with attachment such as the love between men and women (Tanhā-pema), a husband and wife, parents and children, and so on. Loving-kindness has the nature of pure and noble will (adosa), and it is also called the sublime state of mind (Brahmavihāra). One who can cultivate loving - kindness is said to be living in the sublime abode.

Besides, Mettā means wishing for the well-being of others. One who has cultivated loving-kindness, does not look at other's faults even when he is insulted verbally or bodily. Looking at only the virtues of others, he always tries to get benefit for other's welfare.

To become a fully-enlightened Buddha, the Bodhisatta fulfilled the perfection of loving - kindness through four asaṅkkheyyas and one hundred thousands world cycles. Especially, his life as the ascetic Suvannasāma was very remarkable. He lived in the forest and looked after his parents who were blinded by a venomous snake. He took care of his parents and whatever his parents commanded he fulfilled willingly. He also loved with true loving-kindness, harmless to all animals, as well as wild beasts such as tigers, lions, leopards, etc., He cultivated loving- kindness firmly, and never felt angry even towards the king, Pīliyakkha, who shot him with a poisoned arrow, thinking him to be a beast. Later, by the power of loving-kindness and truthfulness, the poison became ineffective and disappeared. Thus not only his life was saved but also his parents regained their eye-sight.

"Nahi verena verāni
sammanti'dha kudācancam
Averana casammanti
esadhammo sanantano."

"Hatred never cease through hatred in this world;
through love alone they cease. This is an eternal law."

10 - Upekkhā-pāramī: the fulfillment of the perfection of the Equanimity (Upekkha).

'Upekkhā' is a pāli word meaning "equanimity" or "equilibrium" of the mind. It means maintaining a neutral attitude towards pleasant and unpleasant things without bias towards either of them, and not having a bias on account of hatred or love. So, upekkhā-pāramī is the perfection to be fulfilled with a balanced attitude without leaning towards the extremes of love and hatred. The Bodhisatta fulfilled the perfection of equanimity or equilibrium by maintaining a neutral attitude towards such feelings as love, hatred, happiness or unhappiness, which arise in the mind. Especially, Bodhisatta Lomahamsa was very famous in his fulfillment of the perfection of equanimity or equilibrium (Lomahaṃsa Jātaka No. 94.Vol. 1). When his parents died, they left him much propertiy such as gold, silver, money and so on. Then one day, he had a deep thought of charity (dāna). He gave all his property in donation and went into a forest. Although he wished to become an ascetic, he did not have a desire to be praised by people. So he wandered around with a single set of clothing. He did not stay for a long time in a place where he was well treated and revered. When he reached a village, though he was jeered and mocked insolently by wicked children and drunkards, he was not angry with them. In the cemetery, he slept with his head on a skull. The wicked kids gathered, and insulted him by spitting and discharging excrement and urine on him. He neither got angry with the children nor blamed them, nor felt depressed. Some people offered him flowers, good food and drinks. But he did not feel affectionate towards them either. His attitude towards good and bad was indifferent. He steadfastly maintained and equanimity of mind (upekkhā) under any situation.

"Khantī paramaṃ tapo titikkhā
Nibbāna paramaṃ vadanti Buddhā
Nahi pabbajito parūpaghātī
Samano hoti paraṃ viheṭhayanto."

"Forbearing patience is the highest austerity
Nibbana is supreme, say the buddhas.
He. Verity, is not a recluse who harms another
Nor is he an ascetic who oppresses others."


Section - IX: Conclusion

The Ten Pāramīs, are priceless Gems in the treasury of Buddhism, which all Sammāsambuddhas, Paccekabuddhas, and Sāvakas have to tread on. Buddhism has offered these Gems to humankind as a spiritual gift to lead people to Nibbāna (Deathlessness) because, their function is to help people eliminating greed (lobha), hatred (dosa), and delusion (moha) as well as creating a peaceful world in which living beings are dwelling. Those who have trodden on this journey must abandon their own happiness and devote their life to the welfare and happiness of living beings and gods.

The world is a long sigh of worries and sufferings. Buddhism, therefore, has opened the way to relieve us from these. This was the reason why the hermit Sumedhā delayed his enlightenment to enter into a long trip of birth and death out of compassion for the good, happiness and welfare of gods and humans.

The Buddha's history being with the time from the time of Sumedhā, under the feet of Lord Buddha Dīpaṅkarā, making a great vow to achieve Buddhahood. Do you know? When I read the great chronicle of the Buddha, suddenly goose flesh arose all over my body, and I was really attracted by this beautiful and marvelous history. The more I read the Buddha's story, the more I was excited and I make a vow deep in my heart to go on this journey.

May all persons put these Pāramīs into their daily activities, the beauty of life in which one will get fragrant flowers and sweet fruits of peace and happiness for oneself one's family, and the people around one as well.

[1] Bv-2

[2] Bv-2

[3] Dhp. V1.Ch1.Pg1

[4] Dhp. V2.Ch1.Pg2

[5] Dhp. V16.Ch1.Pg7

[6] Bv-2

[7] Jā. No.525. P.92


[9] Su. Jā. No 402

[10] Ma.Jā.No 539.Vol.6

[11] Dhp.V 25. Ch2. Pg 27

[12] Dhp.V.5. Ch1. Pg 8

[13] Bv-2

[14] Dhp.V54.Ch4.Pg56-57

[15] Dhp.V54.Ch4.pg56-57

[16] Bv.2

[17] Dhp.V79.Ch6.Pg75

[18] Dhp.V183.Ch13.Pg165

[19] Dhp.V193.Ch14.Pg77

[20] Dhp.V5.Ch1.Pg8

[21] Dhp.V184.Ch14.Pg165


Sincere thanks to Bhikkhu Giac-Hanh Dhammadhara (08-2003)

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last updated: 23-08-2003