The Occasion where the Buddha Manifested as Sakra to Liberate Brahmans

Zhuanji Bai Yuan Jing, Vol. 2



  When the Buddha was at Karanda Bamboo Garden in the city of Rajgir, there lived a minister named Licchavi in the kingdom of Magadha. His thoughts were biased, incorrect, and contrary to reality. He did not believe in the principle of karmic retributions.

  Licchavi prodded Ajatasutru to plot a revolt against and kill his own father, King Bimbisara. Ajatashatru did so and thus committed one of the five most heinous crimes and created evil karma that could cause one to fall into hell.

  After designating himself king, Ajatasutru summoned all his subjects and held a great assembly. He told his subjects that he had established a strict and harsh legal system that, among others,  prohibited everyone from coming near the Buddha to greet Him or complain to Him. After hearing the king’s order, no one dared pay his respects to the Buddha or worship Him. However, the people would secretly meet and have a discussion once in a while. In one of such meetings, the following was said: “The Veda Sutra states, ‘Sramana Gautama is a great religious leader respected by all celestial beings.’ If we chant the Buddha’s name together and invite Him, He may come to our meeting place. Thus, together, we can make offerings and wait for the Buddha to come.” Thereafter, all the Brahmans praised the Buddha’s name with sincerity: “We single-mindedly take refuge in You, Sramana Gautama, and respectfully request You to come to this gathering to accept our prayers and offerings!”

  Day and night, the Tathāgata observes with compassion the obstacles to sentient beings’ attainment of liberation. When the Brahmans invoked His name and prayed to Him fervently, the Tathāgata knew the wholesome roots of such Brahmans and knew that they were due to attain liberation. He then manifested as Sakra and came to the gathering place of the Brahmans from the sky. The Brahmans all stood up and greeted Sakra manifested by the World-Honored One, humbly and politely requested Him to take the high seat, and said, “Our wishes are now being completely fulfilled. In all our future lives, we will definitely obey, carry out, and take refuge in the teachings of Sramana Gautama.” The Sakra manifested by the World-Honored One then praised them all. At that time, the World-Honored One knew that their minds were prepared and disposed to listen to His teachings, so He manifested to them in His original appearance to respond to their invocation of Him, and He taught them the Four Noble Truths upon their request. All the Brahmans understood and accepted the World-Honored One’s teachings to their core concepts and immediately realized the fruition of a srotaapanna. The Brahmans were full of joy and prepared numerous delicious food to offer to the Buddha and the sangha assembly. After receiving the offerings, the bhikkhus, sensing this extraordinary cause and condition, asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, what kind of cause and condition of virtues did the Brahmans cultivate in the past that they could offer delicious food to the Buddha and the sangha assembly?”

  The World-Honored One then told the bhikkhus, “Listen carefully to my explanation. Immeasurable eons ago, a Buddha appeared in Vārāṇasī. His name was Miaoyin (Wondrous Sound) Tathāgata. At that time, Miaoyin Tathāgata led a bhikkhu assembly to the castle where the king  lived, to preach the Dharma. Upon hearing about the arrival of Miaoyin Tathāgata, the king led his ministers in welcoming the Tathāgata respectfully and said to Him, ‘World-Honored One! Please accept our offerings of clothing, food, beddings, and decoctions good for three months.’ Miaoyin Tathāgata immediately accepted the four kinds of offerings good for three months from the king and his ministers. Thereafter, seven-jeweled lotus flowers started to manifest from the navel of Miaoyin Tathāgata. Within each precious lotus flower, there was an image of the body of the Buddha solemnly sitting cross legged and emitting magnificent light. The light's radiance filled all the ten directions and six paths of rebirth, reaching upward to Akaniṣṭha Heaven (the highest heaven of the Form realm ) and down to Avīci Hell (the hell of incessant sufferings). Upon seeing this magnificent demonstration of Miaoyin Tathāgata, the king instantly aspired to achieve unsurpassed Bodhi Mind and vowed to attain Buddhahood. The Buddha then immediately predicted the king’s future, saying, ‘You will become a Buddha in your future lifetimes, and your name will be Shakyamuni. You will help liberate immeasurable sentient beings.’”
  The Buddha then told the bhikkhus, “Do you want to know who the king was at that time? I was the king. The Brahmans of today were the ministers at that time. Their conviction to make sincere offerings to Miaoyin Tathāgata enabled them to be reborn in the heavens or the human world. In their immeasurable future lifetimes, they will not fall into the three evil destinies of animals, hungry ghosts, or hell. I was able to achieve the fruition of Buddhahood because I had cultivated virtues when we made offerings to Miaoyin Tathāgata together at that time! That is also why there are so many human and celestial beings who are making offerings to me today.” After hearing this, all the bhikkhus gleefully and faithfully practiced the Buddha’s teachings.

This article is an excerpt from the Electronic Journal of True Enlightenment,  Issue 44