The Coming Buddha, Ariya Metteyya -- as described in the Anagatavamsa
We have gathered here all the information we could find in the Theravada tradition concerning the coming Buddha. In Burma and Sri Lanka, the coming Buddha is generally spoken of as Ariya Metteyya, the Noble Metteyya. The term Ariya was already added to the name in some post-canonical Pali texts, and it shows the deep respect felt for the Bodhisatta who will attain Awakening in the best of conditions. Indeed, all aspects of his career as a Buddha rank among the highest achievements of Buddhas of the past as recorded in the Buddhavamsa (The Chronicle of Buddhas).
It is only natural that over the years many people have aspired to meet Buddha Ariya Metteyya-not only because it has become less common for people to attain Awakening, but also because of a natural desire to encounter such a rare occasion. In his introduction to his edition and translation of the Dasabodhisatt-uppattikatha (The Birth Stories of the Ten Bodhisattas), Ven. H. Saddhatissa has given several texts included in Pali commentaries and chronicles and in Sinhalese Buddhist texts in which the writers express the wish to meet the coming Buddha.
The commentary on the Jataka stories ends with a poem in which the writer aspires to be with the Bodhisatta Metteyya in the Tusita Deva world and to receive a sure prediction of future Buddhahood from him when he becomes a Buddha. Sinhalese versions of the Visuddhimagga end with a poem in which the writer aspires to rebirth in the Tavatimsa Deva world and then to final liberation under Buddha Metteyya. Ven. Sadhatissa attributes these verses to Ashin Buddhaghosa, but they seem to be written by a copyist. Another aspiration to encounter Buddha Metteyya is found at the end of Sinhalese manuscripts of Ashin Buddha- ghosa's Atthasalini.
Ven. Saddhatissa also cites many instances from the Pali chronicles (Mahavamsa and Culavamsa) in which Sinhalese kings honoured Metteyya. King Dutthagamani of the second century B.C. was considered to be destined to become the next Buddha's chief disciple.
Royalty and high-ranking officials in Burma often made similar aspirations. This seems to have led to building pagodas with five sides at Pagan. Paul Strachan points out that with the Dhamma-Yazika (Dammrazik) Pagoda, completed in 1196 by King Sithu II, "The addition of a fifth side to temple and stupa ground plans in Burma is without precedent throughout the Buddhist world and the Burmese were possibly the first society throughout the world to attempt this pentagonal type of plan for a major architectural work. The origins of this movement lie in contemporary religious thought: the cults of Mettaya, the future buddha, and the present cycle of five buddhas." Two thirteenth-century inscriptions at the temple in Buddha Gaya record that repairs on the temple were carried out through the generosity of King Kyawswa of Burma, and the concluding verse is an aspiration to become a disciple of Buddha Metteyya. As in Sri Lanka, many Buddhist texts end with the aspira- tion to meet Buddha Ariya Metteyya.
Just as the future Buddha Metteyya became more important for Buddhists as the centuries went by, many of the texts giving infomation about him are fairly late. The Anagatavamsa is said to have been written by the author of the Mohavicchedani, Ashin Kassapa (1160-1230 A.D.) It is very difficult to know how far back information goes when it is given in the Pali commentaries, sub-commentaries, chronicles, and other texts written down after the canon. We have given all the information available to us that is part of the Theravada tradition, but we must be careful to remember that texts such as the Dasabodhisattuppattikatha (The Birth Stories of the Ten Bodhisattas), the Dasabodhisattauddesa, the Dasavatthuppakarana, and the Sihaavatthuppakarana seem to contain information that was added at a relatively late date. This is especially evident in the many variants in various texts for names and numbers.
The Bodhisatta Metteyya
Buddha Ariya Metteyya
The Duration of the Sasana of Buddha Gotama
The Coming of Buddha Ariya Metteyya
The Birth of the Next Buddha
The Wheel-turning Monarch Sankha
The Career of Bodhisatta Metteyya
How to Meet Buddha Metteyya
Appendix A: The Chronicle of the Future Buddha
Appendix B: The Aspiration to Meet Buddha Ari Metteyya
List of Abbreviationshttp://www.budsas.org/ebud/metteya/arimet00.htm