Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

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

084 – The Savatthi Miracles

Narratives on miracles are integrated with the Buddha’s life and legends ever since he was born.

The Buddha, however, did not approve of the public demonstrations of the miracles, particularly after the report of the Pindola Bharadvaja’s feat at Rajagaha. There, Pindola had accepted the challenge of a merchant, who by placing a sandal-wood bowl on a high pole had ridiculed and challenged all holy persons to bring that down. Accepting the challenge, Pindola flew in the air and brought that down to the sheer amazement of all the gazers.

King Bimbisara requesting the Buddha to demonstrate his
power in Savatthi to refute the heretics
Showing the miracle at Savatthi Buddha manifested in
myriad forms in one time as is popularly believed in India

Since then, the Buddha laid down a rule for the monks to refrain from the demonstration of the miracles in public. Capitalising on the monks’ abstinence from the miracles the heretics started speaking ills of the Buddha and his followers.

King Bimbisara, however, was hurt with the news and had visited the Buddha to request him to accept the challenge by demonstrating miracles. So, following the tradition of earlier Buddhas, who had demonstrated their miracles in Savatthi, he, too, reached Savatthi and demonstrated the miracles on the foot of the gandamba tree on the full-moon day of Asalha. (This was the seventh year of his Enlightenment).

To convince the heretics, the Buddha created a jewelled terrace in the air and walked on it. Further, he made his appearance in thousand forms according to some tradition. His miracles made many heretics flee from Savatthi. This was the time when Purana Kssapa, too, fled but died on the way.

After the conclusion of the Savatthi miracles he landed on Tavatimsa Loka, in three strides, following the example of the preceding Buddhas.

See Dhammapada Atthakatha iii.20; Theragatha 1.244; Udana Atthakatha 252;