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Anagatavamsa - The Coming Buddha, Ariya Metteyya

Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:52 pm
by gavesako
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.[1] In Burma and Sri Lanka, the coming Buddha is generally spoken of as Ariya Metteyya, the Noble Metteyya.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]

Ven. Saddhatissa also cites many instances from the Pali chronicles (Mahavamsa and Culavamsa) in which Sinhalese kings honoured Metteyya.[7] 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."[8] 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.[9] 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.)[10] 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 Abbreviations" onclick=";return false;


Re: Anagatavamsa - The Coming Buddha, Ariya Metteyya

Posted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:00 pm
by gavesako
This text might be one of the sources of common beliefs in Theravada countries about the gradual disappearance of the Buddha-Sasana in several stages, and that nowadays there cannot be any arahants anymore:
The Duration of the Sasana of Buddha Gotama

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahatto Sammasambuddhassa

During the period from the time of Buddha Gotama to the minimum life span, the Buddha's Dispensation (Buddha-sasana) will disappear. When the Buddha agreed to create the Bhikkhuni Sangha, he told Ven. Ananda that the Sasana would last only half as long because of this. Instead of lasting one thousand years, it would last five hundred years. The commentary on the Abhidhamma text, Dhammasangani, says that when the First Buddhist Council convened by Ven. Maha-Kassapa rehearsed the Pali Canon, this made it possible for the Sasana to endure for five thousand years.[48]

The commentaries on the Vinaya Pitaka[49] and the Anguttara-nikaya[50] say that the eight important rules which the Buddha gave to the Bhikkhuni Sangha will make his Teachings last for five thousand years rather than five hundred. There will be one thousand years for Arahats who attain analytical insight, one thousand years for Arahats without those attainments, one thousand years for Non-returners, one thousand years for Once-returners, and one thousand years for Stream-winners. After these five thousand years of penetration of the true Doctrine (pativedha-sadhamma),[51] the accomplishment in the texts (pariyatti-dhamma) will remain. After the accomplishment in the texts disappears, the signs (linga) will continue for a long time. ..." onclick=";return false;

Re: Anagatavamsa - The Coming Buddha, Ariya Metteyya

Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:31 pm
by gavesako
Other commentaries also speak in terms of five stages of disappearance (antaradhana) of the Sasana:[53] (1) First, there will be the disappearance of attainment (adhigama), which would correspond to the age of deliverance. (2) The second disappearance is of the practice (patipatti), which corresponds to the ages of concentration and morality. (3) The disappearance of accomplishment in the texts (pariyatti) is third and corresponds to the age of learning. (4) The fourth disappearance is of the signs (linga). During this period, the only good action left is making gifts to those who wear a yellow strip of cloth around their necks, so this would correspond to the age of generosity. When this disappearance occurs, five thousand years will have passed.[54] After this period there occurs (5) the disappearance of the relics (dhatu). When the relics no longer receive honour, they will assemble at the seat where the Buddha attained Awakening under the Great Bodhi tree. There, they will make an effigy of the Buddha and perform a marvel similar to the Twin Marvel and will teach the Doctrine. No human being will be present, only Devas from the ten thousand world systems will listen, and many of them will attain release. After that, the relics will be burned up without remainder.[55]

In the Buddhist countries a lot of faith and devotion is directed at the remaining relics which are put on display in prominent places and stupas. Different kind of relics of the Buddha and disciples are distinguished:

Slideshow of the relics exhibition with detailed description at Wat Santidham, Chiang Mai
ภาพถ่าย พระบรมสารีริกธาตุ และพระธาตุ พระสาวก ครูบาอาจารย์ในประเทศไทยและต่างประเทศ
ที่ หอพระธาตุ วัดสันติธรรม จังหวัดเชียงใหม่" onclick=";return false;

Phra Boromasaririkathat พระบรมสารีริกธาตุ
ที่รวบรวมเรื่องราวประวัติและความเป็นมาบทพระคาถาบูชา" onclick=";return false;


Re: Anagatavamsa - The Coming Buddha, Ariya Metteyya

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:52 pm
by gavesako
A related blog post:

The traditional Buddhist vision of history sees countless past ages of humans receiving the Buddhadharma, only to eventually lose it over time with the world then descending into ignorance. The state of the world might still nevertheless be pleasant enough, though the lack of liberating dharma makes it a dark age. The greater cosmology paints most realms as being in an identical state where tathāgatas arise in the world and teach the dharma of liberation to beings.

The point to note here is that Buddhism is a curious religion in that it predicts its own demise. It is essentially understood that since all things are impermanent, then the institution of the sangha which perpetuates the Buddha's Dharma likewise will eventually succumb to the vicissitudes of time and worldly pressure. There is no ultimate end to such cycles either since time is infinite. The teachings do not conclude with any sort of ultimate end.

Traditions of knowledge are actually very fragile. They depend on transmission from generation to generation. Even with a large amount of literature in tow it still requires new generations to adequately master the material and pass it on to their descendents. A written language is easily lost when those literate in it fail to pass it on to future generations. Buddhist traditions are largely oral traditions that exist with vast canons at their disposal, though the canons rely on oral transmission and communities rather than vice-versa. If printed works are not reprinted they will decay. If the practice methods are not conferred to future generations they will likewise be lost in a few decades. ...
So, are we presently in an age of decline and headed for another dark age? Buddhism as I've outlined before on this blog seems to be in statistical decline. Some also sense that the quality of teachings and practitioners has been on the decline as well. I believe this is also true given the negative effects of modernization and industrialization coupled with all the subsequent philosophical beliefs which are essentially opposed to Buddhism that have been forced onto people through state run education systems. Such belief systems as materialism are regarded as default and possessing normalcy with anything else as deviant. With such views as the new norm there is little room for Buddhist traditions to be respected as anything more than quaint spiritual traditions. ...
Consequently, as industrial civilization declines and eventually becomes a memory of antiquity the long-term well-being of Buddhist traditions begs our consideration. It entirely depends on the people involved in the project. Preserving canons is one part of the process of continuity, but there must also be those who transmit the practices, histories and customs to future generations. The well-being and sustainability of a tradition is determined largely by the behavior, aspirations and activities of its members. The responsibility rests on our shoulders.
The idea of dark ages and more pressing an imminent dark age might be unappealing to consider, but dealing with reality and the unappealing aspects of it is essential. You can't fix saṃsāra, but you can deal with the conditions as they emerge and provide some degree of ease for yourself and others. With proper foresight and precautions a lot of unnecessary suffering can be avoided. It is my hope Buddhist traditions become aware of this in the coming decades and suitably prepare. Looking back over history, Buddhism has been around for twenty-five centuries. It would be good for it to be around at minimum for another twenty-five centuries. ... -ages.html" onclick=";return false;

Re: Anagatavamsa - The Coming Buddha, Ariya Metteyya

Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:59 am
by gavesako
As mentioned above, the ceremony of Vessantaradesanā is annually organized because it is influenced by the Malaya Sutta[8], which is a post-canonical text; the author of the sutta is unknown. Another reason is to maintain Buddhism from the extinction based on the Buddha’s prediction. According to His prediction, Buddhism will gradually vanish after it has reached the 2000 years and there will be very few monks who are well-versed in the Tipitaka. There are five kinds of disappearance of Buddhism as follows:

1.Pariyatti antaradāra: The disappearance of pariyatti studies(theoretical studies),
2.Paṭipatti antaradāra: The disappearance of paṭipatti (the practice),
3.Paṭiveda antaradāra: The disappearance of paṭiveda( the real experience)
4.Sangha antaradāra: The disappearance of the Sangha,
5.Dhātu antaradara: The disappearance of dhātu( the Buddha’s relics)
Discerning the causes of disappearance of Buddhasāsana from the prediction, the Lao ancient Buddhist scholars made an effort to prevent it from vanishing by composing and translating the Vessantara Jātaka in various versions and made it easy in both prose and poems. The poetic version often brings melodramatic expression which it really attracts the audiences. Therefore, the Vessantaradesanā is remained until today.

Another reason why people like the Vessantara Jātaka because Vessantara Bodhisattva is a righteous, generous and kind. He has the ten qualities of the righteous king. Therefore, he is a role model of all kinds of people and they have strong conviction to listen to Vessantaradesanā because of the Bodhisattva is the present Buddha.
When giving Dāna, most people wish to be reborn in the heavenly realm and have aspirations to meet the Metteya, the future Buddha. This is also influenced by the story of Venerable Malayadeva who travelled to heaven and hells and reported his experience to people in the human world. The Mettaya told Malaya Thera that if someone has a wish to be reborn in the time of him, he must listen to the Vessantara Jātaka recitation a whole day in full of 1000 Pāḷi gathā, he will get benefits from this and will not reborn as a purgatory beings, but will travel in the saṃsara with the save boat.

* The resource from Thailand mentioned that Malaya sutta in non-canonical text, but in Hema Goonatilake confirmed that the story of Malaya is not included in the Tipitaka, it is a post-canonical text, the Malaya Vatthu, not a sutta, a story about Malaya Thera, Sinhalese monk who had astral travel to heaven and hells and had a conversation with Maitreya Deva in Dusita heaven and after he returned to the human realm he reported experience to the people written in 1208 A.D. or in 13th (Hema:2009:38) ... sopha.html" onclick=";return false;

Re: Anagatavamsa - The Coming Buddha, Ariya Metteyya

Posted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:22 am
by Sati1

I was wondering what the origin of the knowledge presented in the Anagatavamsa is if the text was written almost two millenia after Buddha lived. Did Buddha himself see the future (eg about Buddha Metteya and the decline of the sassana) and teach it to His disciples, who maintained the oral tradition until it was written down almost 2,000 years later? I'm trying to figure out how reliable the Anagatavamsa is.

Thank you,

Re: Anagatavamsa - The Coming Buddha, Ariya Metteyya

Posted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:43 pm
by gavesako
Most of the information in the Anagatavamsa is gathered from earlier commentaries which were written much earlier, so there must have been a tradition about the gradual decline of the Sasana.

Re: Anagatavamsa - The Coming Buddha, Ariya Metteyya

Posted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 1:19 pm
by Khalil Bodhi

I can't thank you enough for your recent posts. :anjali:

Re: Anagatavamsa - The Coming Buddha, Ariya Metteyya

Posted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 4:28 pm
by Sati1
Dear Ven. Gavesako,

Many thanks for your reply. I had the fortune of finding a printed copy this morning at the Amaravati library, which I will use to study the text further.


Re: Anagatavamsa - The Coming Buddha, Ariya Metteyya

Posted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:58 pm
by martinfrank
Dear Ven. Gavesako

Could you enlighten us about what in your eyes is the value of these texts about the coming Buddha? Do you consider these texts Asian folk Buddhism and interesting for Western Buddhists who want to understand Asian folk Buddhism?

Obviously as long as the Pali Canon is available as a document the time for another Buddha has not yet come. It may well be another thousand or several thousand years until the time has come. Until then shouldn't we follow Lord Buddha's teaching which we have in front of us?

According to Lord Buddha the teaching of the Buddhas is always the same. So why wait for the next teacher if we know that he will teach the same?

With due respect (did I miss something?)


Re: Anagatavamsa - The Coming Buddha, Ariya Metteyya

Posted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 12:46 pm
by gavesako
The Buddhist tradition always had a memory of previous Buddhas (seven in this world era, see Atanatiya Sutta, DN) and naturally would expect a new Buddha to appear in the world after the teaching of Gotama Buddha has degenerated and disappeared. If you consider the history of SE Asia with its many wars and social upheavals which also had an effect on the state of the Sasana, it is only natural that people were speculating about the end of Buddhism as they knew it and preparing themselves for the arrival of Metteyya (making merit so that they would have the good kamma to meet him in the future). There are some Suttas in which the Buddha already predicts a decline of Dhamma-Vinaya in the future, and Pārāpariya (Theragatha v. 920—948) shortly after the parinibbana laments the degeneration of the Sangha.