A Bhadra kalpa is a long
geological period of time, when five Buddhas appear in the world.
The Buddhas Kakusanda, Konagama, Kasyapa and Gautama, have already
appeared, and the one to come is Buddha Metteyya (Maitreya), the
last in the lineage of Buddhas, whose Sasana is said to exist for
80,000 years. The life- span of the present Buddha's Sasana is only
5,000 years of which 2,545 years have already lapsed.
According to the 'puranas' (sacred books of the Hindus), the long
phases of geological time are governed by mythical periods of solar
variance, known as 'kirita-yuga' (1,728,000 years), 'Treta uga'
(1 ,296,000 years), 'Dwapara-yuga' (864,000 years) and 'kali-yuga'
(432,000 years), These four 'yugas' conjointly make one Maha yuga
(4,320,000 years), 71 'Maha-yugas' make one 'Manvantaras (306, 720,000
years) and 1,000 Manvantaras' make one 'kalpa', Le., approximately
306,720 million solar years. All periods of Buddaha's time have
been reckoned by 'kalpas' (eons).
The present 'Kali-yuga' (time period) is attributed to a period
of gradual degeneracy of moral, marked with low estimation of human
conduct, continued deterioration of the human values, slow disappearance
of righteousness, and giving rise to viciousness, resulting in injustice,
deviation from truth, covetousness, sexual misconduct, crime, cruelty,
terrorism etc. Only the appearance of a Buddha can put things in
a proper social order, for the well-being of mankind. In the Anagathavamsa
desana the Buddha, spoke about human conduct under such ignoble
conditions, and said "Dasavassesu kesu, bhikkhave, manussesu
panca masika kumarika alampatheiya bhavissati" (The life span
of a person, 0 bhikkus, will not exceed ten years, and marriages
will be solemnized when girls attain the age of five months). Kinship
will not be a taboo for cultural tidings and passionate desires
and any man will marry any woman regardless of relationship.
The treatise Anagathavamsa desana (which gives an account of the
future Buddha Metteyya) is said to have been written by the erudite
scholar Kassapa (1160-1230). Some have ascribed the book to the
Ven. Wilgammula Maha Thera, who had written it at the request of
king Parakramabahu IV (1303-1333), during the Kurunegala period.
The commentaries on Jataka stories refer to Bodhisatta Metteyya
in the Tusitha celestial abode, and Pali chronicles mention that
Sinhala kings had honoured the Bodhisatta, and aspired to meet him
and listen, to his discourses, to attain Nlbbana, a total state
of extinction from desires and suffering.
The present Buddha Gautama, addressed one of his two chief disciples,
Ven. Sariputta, and said: "When Buddha Muhurtha alias Padu
muttara (the 12th in the lineage of Buddhas) appeared in the world,
the universal monarch Prabhavanta received his initiation' to become
a Buddha, having perfected the ten 'paramitas' (perfections) necessary
to become a Bodhisatta. (These are transcendental virtues practiced
by Bodhisatta to gain Enlightenment, i.e., Samma Sambodhi. After
his death, the monarch Prabhavanta, would be born in the Tusitha
heaven, as Bodhisatta Metteyya awaiting an opportunity to descend
to the earth and become a Buddha."
Thusita is the Heaven of Satisfaction, and the fourth of the six
celestial abodes, the other five being Catummaharajika, Thavatimsa,
Yama, Nimmanarati and Paranimmita-vasavatti. It is said that Bodhisattas
are reborn in the Tusitha heaven, just before their last birth the
hurnan world, when they will attain Enlightenment. Gotama Buddha
was also born in the Tusitha heaven as Bodhisatta Setaketu, before
appearing in the world.
The ten 'paramitas' are to be developed and brought to maturity
by the Bodhisattas in their past existences, and how to practice
them is illustrated in numerous Jataka stories and are regarded
as canonical. They are 'dana'. (generosity), 'si/a' (morality) 'nekkhamma'
(renunciation), 'panna' (wisdom), 'viriya' (energy), 'khanti' (patience),
'sacca' (truthfulness), 'adhittana' (determination), 'metta' (loving-kindness)
and 'upekkha' (equanimity). According to the Cariya Pitaka commentary,
'parami' are those virtues which are cultivated with compassion,
guided by reason, uninfluenced by selfish motives, and unsullied
by misbilief and all feelings of self-conceit.
According to the Anagathavamsa desana (Discourse on the future Buddha),
"Buddha Metteyya, having made the great five surveys ('panca-maha-vi/okana),
i.e., the continent, the country, the time, the caste and the mother,
will descend to the earth, at the right time, and conceive in the
womb of Brahmawathie, the Brahmin consort of Subrahma, the chief
priest ('agra purohitha') of the univereal monarch Sankha, whose
kingdom will be Ketumati (the present Benares). During her gestation
period of ten months, she will be protected by the 'devas' (deities),
and she will observe the five precepts ('pancaseelaJ, without a
breach, during pregnancy, "with the Bodhisatta seated cross-legged
inside her womb".
As the great child is born, he will be named Ajitha, and will bear
the 32 marks common to Buddhas. The 'devas' present at the time
will address the mother saying "Rejoice, 0 Great Lady, for
mighty is the son born to you. In his young days, the child will
live in four palatial mansions named Sirivadda, Vaddhamana, Siddhatta
and Candaka. He will enjoy all the luxuries of life, and in his
youth will marry the beautiful damsel Candamukhi of equal age. Both
will enjoy conjugal harmony akin to the 'devas', and life on earth
will be similar to that of the celestial abodes. Their child will
be named Brahma vaddana.
At the age of 18 years, the prince will renounce the world after
seeing the four signs, viz: an old man, a sick man, a dead man and
a contented man (a hermit) who had gone forth from lay life. These
same signs made the present Buddha Gautama to renounce the world
at the age of 29 years). This yellow-robed recluse Ajitha, better
known as Bodhisatta Metteyya, will sit under a 'nuga' (Ficus bengalensis),
and strive for seven days to attain Buddhahood.
The Dasabodhisatta·uddesa states the 'devas' of the ten thousand
world systems will take flowers and honour the Bodhisatta in his
effort to release from human bondage and suffering. The king of
the 'asuras' (demons), Vysravana or Vesamuni will guard the palace.
The king of the Nagas will offer him a precious gem, the king of
the Suppannas will offer him a jewelled necklace, and the king of
the Gandhabbas will honour him with music and dancing.
In the Mahavamsa (ch.32:81-84) it is stated that the Metteyya Buddha's
chief disciples will be king Dutugemunu and his brother Saddha Tissa.
His parents will be king Kavantissa and his consort Viha~amaha-devi.
King Dutugemunu's son Saliya will be the son of prince Ajitha, prior
to renunciation. The Thupavamsa too makes a similar forecast. The
Anagathavamsa desana gives a different story. It says that the two
Chief Disciples of the Buddha Metteyya will be Asoka ana Brahma
deva. His chief attendant ('purohitha') will be Maha Thera Seeha.
His chief female disciples will be Maha Theri Paduma and Sumana.
His two male attendants will be
Sudhanna and Sangha, and the two female attendants will be Yasawathie
According to the Mahayana tradition, the Metteyya Bodhisatta Avalokitheswara
Natha, now dwelling in Thusita heaven, is expounding the Dhamma
(doctrine) to the celestial cohorts of the inner celestial mansion.
He will appear in the world, several million years later, after
the existing Sasana of Buddha Gautama becomes defunct. The popular
belief among the Buddhists in Sri Lanka is that god Natha (one of
the four guardian gods of the island), will make his appearance
in the world as Buddha Metteyya. Hence, he is honoured above other
gods of the Buddhist pantheon.
The Buddha Metteyya will preach his first discourse and proclaim
his doctrine in Nagavana (the Snake Grove) at Isipatana near Ketumati,
and king Sankha will be present to hear the sermon. Many are supposed
to attain penetration (' abhisamaya') into the Four Noble Truths.
The king Sankha will give his Jewelled palace to the disciples of
the Buddha Metteyya. People will be ordained with the words 'ehi
bhikkhave' (Come 0 bhikku!). In the Digha Nikaya it is said that
just as Buddha Gautama was accompanied by hundreds of bhikkus, 'Buddha
Metteyya will be accompanied by thousands in number".
According to the Anagathavamsa desana, those who qualify themselves
to meet the Buddha Metteyya are "those who do meritorious deeds,
who observed 'siI' on uposatha days, who observed 'vas' (religious
retreat), who observed celibacy, who built cetiyas and reliquaries,
plant Bodhi trees, renovate temples a other religious edifices,
and write religious books, and those who work for the establishment
of the Sasana."