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Yamaka Pāṭihāriya

The Twin Miracle of the “double appearances”. When the Buddha laid down a rule forbidding the exercise of supernatural powers by monks — following on the miracle performed by Piṇḍola-Bhāradvāja (q.v.) — the heretics went about saying that henceforth they would perform no miracles except with the Buddha. Bimbisāra reported this to the Buddha, who at once accepted the challenge, explaining that the rule was for his disciples and did not apply to himself. He, therefore, went to Sāvatthi, the place where all Buddhas perform the miracle. In reply to Pasenadi, the Buddha said he would perform the miracle at the foot of the Gandamba tree on the full-moon day of Āsāḷha. This was in the seventh year after the Enlightenment (DA.i.57).

The heretics therefore uprooted all mango trees for one league around, but, on the promised day, the Buddha went to the king’s garden, accepted the mango offered by Ganda, and caused a marvellous tree to sprout from its seed. The people, discovering what the heretics had done, attacked them, and they had to flee helter-skelter. It was during this flight that Pūraṇa Kassapa (q.v.) committed suicide. The multitude, assembled to witness the miracle, extended to a distance of thirty-six leagues. The Buddha created a jewelled walk in the air by the side of the Gandamba. When the Buddha’s disciples knew what was in his mind, several of them offered to perform miracles and so refute the insinuations of the heretics. Among such disciples were Gharaṇī, Cūḷa-Anāthapiṇḍika, Cīrā, Cunda, Uppalavaṇṇā and Mahā-Moggallāna.

The Buddha refused their offers and related the Kaṇha-usabha and Nandivisāla Jātaka stories. Then, standing on the jewelled walk, he proceeded to perform the Twin Miracle (Yamaka-pāṭihāriya), so called because it consisted in the appearance of phenomena of opposite character in pairs — e.g., producing flames from the upper part of the body and a stream of water from the lower, and then alternatively. Flames of fire and streams of water also proceeded alternatively from the right side of his body and from the left. DA.l.57; DhA.iii.214 f. explains how this was done. From every pore of his body rays of six colours darted forth, upwards to the realm of Brahmā and downwards to the edge of the Cakkavāḷa. The Miracle lasted for a long while, and as the Buddha walked up and down the jewelled terrace he taught the multitude from time to time. It is said that he performed miracles and taught discourses during sixteen days, according to the various dispositions of those present in the assembly. At the conclusion of the Miracle, the Buddha, following the example of his predecessors, made his way, in three strides, to Tāvatiṃsa, there to teach the Abhidhamma Piṭaka to his mother, now born as a devaputta.

The Twin Miracle is described at DA.i.57, and in very great detail at DhA.iii.204; see also J.iv.263 ff. The DhA. version appears to be entirely different from the Jātaka version; the latter is very brief and lacks many details, especially regarding Piṇḍola’s miracle and the teaching of the Abhidhamma in Tāvatiṃsa. The account given in Dvy. (143‑66) is again different; the Miracle was evidently repeatedly performed by the Buddha (see, e.g., Candanamālā), and it is often referred to — e.g., J.i.77, 88, 193; Ps.i.125; SNA.i.36; AA.i.71; MA.ii.962; Mil. 349; Vism.390; PvA.137; Dāṭhāvaṃsa i.50. The miracle was also performed by the Buddha’s relics; see, .e.g., Mhv.xvii.52 f; Sp.i.88, 92.

It is said (Mil.349) that two hundred million beings penetrated to an understanding of the Dhamma at the conclusion of the Miracle.

The Twin Miracle can only be performed by the Buddha. Mil.106.