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The Buddhavaṃsa (also known as the Chronicle of Buddhas) is a hagiographical Buddhist text which describes the life of Gautama Buddha and of the twenty-four Buddhas who preceded him and prophesied his attainment of Buddhahood.[1][2] It is the fourteenth book of the Khuddaka Nikāya, which in turn is the fifth and last division of the Sutta Piṭaka.[3] The Sutta Piṭaka is one of three pitakas (main sections) which together constitute the Tripiṭaka, or Pāli Canon of Theravāda Buddhism.[4]

TypeCanonical text; Vaṃsa
Parent CollectionKhuddaka Nikaya
PTS AbbreviationBv
Pāli literature
Lord Buddha
Lord Buddha

Along with the Apadāna and the Cariyāpiṭaka, the Buddhavaṃsa is considered by most scholars to have been written during the 1st and 2nd century BCE, and is therefore a late addition to the Pāli Canon.[5][6]


The first chapter tells how Gautama Buddha, to demonstrate his supernormal knowledge, creates a jewelled walkway in the sky.[7] In seeing this display, Sāriputta asks the Buddha:

"Of what kind, great hero, supreme among men, was your resolve? At what time, wise one, was supreme Awakening aspired to by you? ... Of what kind, wise one, leader of the world, were your ten perfections? How were the higher perfections fulfilled, how the ultimate perfections?"[8]

In response, the Buddha relays the remainder of the Buddhavaṃsa.[9]

In the second chapter Gautama tells how in a distant past life as layman named Sumedha, he received a prediction from Dīpankara Buddha that "In the next era you will become a buddha named Gotama.",[10] and told him the ten perfections he would need to practice.

Chapters 3 through 26 are accounts of the twenty-four historical Buddhas who achieved Buddhahood between Dīpankara and Gautama, and the acts of merit that Gautama performed towards them in his previous lives.

Chapter 27 is an account of the life of Gautama Buddha.[1]

Chapter 28 mentions three Buddhas that preceded Dīpankara,[1][11] as well as the future Buddha, Maitreya.[1][12]

Chapter 29 tells of the distribution of Gautama Buddha's relics after his death.[1]


  • Morris, R, ed. (1882). "XXVII: List of the Buddhas". The Buddhavamsa (PDF). London: Pali Text Society. pp. 66–7. Archived from the original on 2016-02-28.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  • Law, BC, ed. (1938). "The lineage of the Buddhas". The Minor Anthologies of the Pali Canon: Buddhavaṃsa, the lineage of the Buddhas, and Cariyā-Piṭaka or the collection of ways of conduct (1st ed.). London: Milford.
  • Takin, MV, ed. (1969). "The lineage of the Buddhas". The Genealogy of the Buddhas (1st ed.). Bombay: Bombay University Publications.
  • Horner, IB, ed. (1975). The minor anthologies of the Pali canon. Volume III: Buddhavaṁsa (Chronicle of Buddhas) and Cariyāpiṭaka (Basket of Conduct). London: Pali Text Society. ISBN 0-86013-072-X.
  • Vicittasarabivamsa, U (1992). "Chapter IX: The chronicle of twenty-four Buddhas". In Ko Lay, U; Tin Lwin, U (eds.). The great chronicle of Buddhas, Volume One, Part Two (PDF) (1st ed.). Yangon, Myanmar: Ti=Ni Publishing Center. pp. 130–321. Archived from the original on 2016-02-14.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Buddha Dharma Education Association (2014). "Suttanta Pitaka: Khuddaka Nikāya: 14.Buddhavamsa-History of the Buddhas". Guide to Tipiṭaka. Tullera, NSW, Australia: Buddha Dharma Education Association. Retrieved 2014-12-21.
  2. ^ Hinüber (1996), A Handbook of Pāli Literature, p. 43.
  3. ^ "Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines (Pali dictionary)". palikanon.com. Retrieved 2014-12-21.
  4. ^ Lancaster, LR (2005). "Buddhist books and texts: canon and canonization". Encyclopedia of religion (2nd ed.). New York: Macmillan Reference USA. p. 1252. ISBN 978 00-286-5733-2.
  5. ^ A textual and Historical Analysis of the Khuddaka Nikaya – Oliver Abeynayake Ph. D. , Colombo, First Edition – 1984, p. 113.
  6. ^ Horner (1975), The minor anthologies of the Pali canon, p. x. "It would seem that, however much Bv may be a latecomer to the Pali Canon, or however slight its metrical interest, its merits which may be said to include the clear-cut way in which it organizes its somewhat unusual contents...."
  7. ^ Horner (1975), The minor anthologies of the Pali canon, p. 1. Bv I, 5: "Come, I will display the unsurpassed power of a Buddha: in the zenith I will create a Walk adorned with jewels."
  8. ^ Horner (1975), The minor anthologies of the Pali canon, p. 8.
  9. ^ Horner (1975), The minor anthologies of the Pali canon, p. 9.
  10. ^ "Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra". Translations from the Taishō Tripiṭaka. Lapis Lazuli Texts. Retrieved 2014-12-21.
  11. ^ Horner (1975), The minor anthologies of the Pali canon, p. 96. Regarding the three Buddhas who came before Dīpankara, Bv XXVII, 1 states: "Immeasurable eons ago there were four guiders away: these Conquerors, Tanhankara, Medhankara, Saranankara and Dīpankara the Self-Awakened One were in one eon."
  12. ^ Horner (1975), The minor anthologies of the Pali canon, p. 97. Regarding Metteyya, Bv XXVII, 19: "I [Gautama Buddha] at the present time am the Self-Awakened One, and there will be Metteyya...."


External linksEdit

The chronicle of twenty-four Buddhas, by Mingun Sayadaw, edited and translated by Professor U Ko Lay and U Tin Lwin, Yangon, Myanmar. Includes only chapters 1, 22, 23, and 24.