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Mahāsudassana Sutta

Taught between the twin Sāla trees in Upavattana, the grove of the Mallas. Ānanda asks the Buddha not to die in the “little wattle and daub” town of Kusināra, but in some important city, such as Campā, Rājagaha or Sāvatthi. The Buddha tells him that Kusinārā was once Kusāvatī, the royal city of King Mahāsudassana, and was surrounded by seven ramparts, a city containing all the characteristics of a great capital.

Mahāsudassana possessed the seven treasures of a Cakkavatti:

  1. the wheel treasure (cakka ratana),
  2. the elephant treasure (hatthi ratana) named Uposatha,
  3. the horse treasure (assa ratana), named Valāhaka,
  4. the jewel treasure (maṇi ratana),
  5. the woman treasure (iṭṭhi ratana),
  6. the household (gahapati ratana), and
  7. the councillor (parināyaka ratana).

He also possessed four powers: he was handsome, long-lived, free from disease, and beloved by all classes of people. He had lotus ponds made all over his kingdom, food and clothing being placed on their banks for any who might require them. With the money brought to the king by the people, Vissakamma, under Sakka’s orders, built the Dhammapāsāda Palace, filled with all splendor and luxury. The king possessed a gabled hall called Mahāvyūha, where he spent the hot part of the day. In front of the Dhammapāsāda was the Dhammapokkharaṇī.

Having realised that his power and glory were the result of past good deeds, Mahāsudassana practiced generosity, self conquest and self-control, and developed the four jhānas, suffusing all quarters with thoughts of love, compassion, sympathetic-joy, and equanimity.

Mahāsudassana had eighty-four thousand cities, the chief of which was Kusāvatī; eighty-four thousand palaces, the chief being Dhammapāsāda; eighty-four thousand gabled houses, the chief being Mahāvyūha; eighty-four thousand state elephants, led by Uposatha; and eighty-four thousand horses, led by Valāhaka. He had eighty-four thousand chariots led by Vejayanta, and eighty-four thousand wives, of whom Subbaddā was the chief. One day, the king realised that his death was approaching, and, when Subhaddā visited him to try and induce him to enjoy his pleasures, he stopped her, telling her to speak to him of the impermanence of things and the need for giving up all desire. While she talked to him of these things, he died and was reborn in the Brahma world. For eighty-four thousand years be bad been a prince, a viceroy and a king respectively, and later, for forty-eight thousand years, a devout layman in the Dhammapāsāda. Mahāsudassana is identified with the Buddha (D.ii.169‑99; the story is also referred to at S.iii.144).

In the time of Kassapa Buddha, Sudassana had been a forester. He met a monk in the forest and built a hut for him. He also requested the monk to receive alms every day at his house or, at least, to eat there. The monk agreed, and Sudassana made his hut comfortable in every way, constructing walks, bathing places, gardens, etc., outside. He also gave him innumerable gifts, of various kinds and descriptions. DA.ii.631 f.

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