Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C. B. Varma Introduction | Glossary | Bibliography

073 – Maha Maya’s Dream

Mahamaya musing at her dream

King Suddhodana and Mahamaya analysing the dream

The name of the mother of Gotama was Maya, often called Mahamaya. She was the daughter of the Sakyan Anjana of Devadaha and mother Yasodhara – the daughter of Jayasena. (However, according to the Therigatha Atthakatha (141) her father was Mahasuppabuddha; and according to the Apadana (ii.538) her mother was Sulakkhana). She had two brothers and one sister. She and her sister Maha Pajapati were married to Suddhodana, who was the king of Kapilavatthu.

Mahamaya possessed every virtue of being the mother of the Buddha. She never violated the practice of panchasheela (five vows of righteous conduct, which means refraining from killing; steeling; sensual pursuits, lies and intoxicants). Further, according to the tradition she had practised parami for one thousand years; and was thus suitable to become the mother of the Buddha.

The day when the Buddha was to be conceived she kept fast; and at night she had a dream. In her dream she saw that the four devas, called the Chatumaharajas, took her to the Himava and placed her on a bed under a Sal tree. Then the wives of the devas came and bathed her in the Lake Anottata and dressed her in divine robes. They then took her to a golden palace and laid her in a magnificent couch, where the Bodhisatta in the form of a white elephant holding a white lotus in his resplendent trunk entered her womb through her right side. That was a full-moon day of Uttara Asalha to mark the beginning of a seven-day festival. She, too, had participated in the festival. Furthermore, on that day she did not sleep with her husband.

Next day, she told the dream to the king, who in turn consulted the court astrologers, and from them heard the prophecy that the child would either be universal monarch or a Buddha.