Twelve Great Deeds of Buddha's Life

Life of Sakyamuni - in drawing ( I )

Life of Sakyamuni - in drawing ( II )





Twelve Great Deeds of Buddha's Life


Tibetan Buddhist tradition divides the life of Buddha into 12 glorious events. These defining incidents of the Buddha's life are given visual form in densely packed sequences narrated in a special “thangka” (genre of paintings) known as the "Twelve Great Deeds of Buddha's Life" (Tib. Dzad pa chu nyi).



1. His Promise to Take Birth in the Human Realm


Before Buddha was born into this world as Shakyamuni, he was a bodhisattva in the Tushita heaven. With enhanced great compassion, he vowed to manifest himself in the sentient world and relieve people from their sufferings.





2. Queen Maya's Dream


Bodhisattva selected King Shudhodhana and Queen Mayadevi, the ruler of the Shakya clan as his future parents.  This generous couple was well known throughout the land for their just and noble bearing.

His descent from the Tushita heaven occurred as a dream to Mayadevi. In this dream, a six tusks white elephant approached and touched her right side with its trunk. Through this symbolic act, the bodhisattva entered the womb of Mayadevi and impregnated her.










3. Birth of the Buddha


Queen was pregnant and would soon give birth. According to the tradition, women had to return to her parents’ place to have the baby delivered.  On her way home, the Queen took a break at Lumbini Park.  She was holding onto a branch with her right hand when the prince was born.

Immediately upon his birth, the prince  stood up and took seven steps, each a lotus sprang up.   When he made the seventh step, with one finger pointing to the heaven and another to the ground, he said: "Up in the heaven and down on earth, I am the most respected."  Once, the earth moved with the sun shining luminous and warm, covered entirely the great trichiliocosms.  Dragon Gods from above flowed two crystalline and pleasant streams upon the prince.

King Suddhodana gave the baby name Siddhartha, meaning “the accomplisher of aims”.




按照古印度的习俗,外嫁女要回娘家生产,临近菩萨诞生之日,摩耶夫人启程返回天臂城。途经蓝毗尼园稍作休息,在 优悠缓步的摩耶夫人,将手轻放在无忧树上,这时太子自右胁降生。







4. A Youth Dedicated to the Mastery of Learning and Athletics

Queen Mayadevi passed away seven days after giving birth to the prince.  Therefore the baby-prince was brought up by aunt Mahapajapati. 


As the Prince, Siddhartha was provided with the finest upbringing and his life had ample quantities. He received the finest education and mastered all lessons taught.  His great compassion raised when he came across a falcon killing a python, he realized Mahamundra since he understood the sufferings of all beings. 


In his younger years, he excelled in sports and other contests of skill. The vigorous training befitted the grooming of a future monarch. He was said to particularly excel on the horse and archery.























5. The Skillful Conduct of Worldly Affairs

Having been warned by the court astrologers that his son may well give it all up and choose the path of meditation, Buddha's father tried his best to shield him from the harsh realities of life.

King wanted his little prince be a King than an enlightened one, so three palaces the spring, summer and rainfall were built.  His marriage with Yasodhara was arranged by the royal family.






6. The Four Encounters

Once the Prince’s visit his regional communities outside the four gates,  encountered the sufferings of aged, illness and death. The prince eventually met a meditation-practitioner who drowns in his eternal happiness. King failed to shield his son from the harsh realities of life. The grown up prince wanted to seek a proper way to ensure one’s life of transcendence sufferings.












7. The Renunciation of Worldly Life

One night Siddhartha confirmed his determination and headed to his path of enlightenment. He left his imperial family, throne and wealth wandered into the wood. At dawn he reached a village where he shaved head to cheek, changed into simple robe and sent his lad to inform his parents about his decision. He promised he would come back to his clans and deliver the noble truth to each and every one when he reached his enlightenment.





8. The Six Years of Austerities

Wandering in his search for enlightenment, Buddha came to a pleasant hermitage by a lovely stream, where, he joined five mendicants in a way of discipline based on progressively severe fasting. He ate a single grain of rice everyday the first two years, drank little water everyday for the second two years, and took nothing at all during the last two years.


Consequently, he became so skinny his bones stuck out like a row of spindles, he needed to surpass this situation and thanked the shepherd girl who offered him a cup of rice-germ milk. He then moved on until he landed at huge Bodhi Tree where he settled and vowed he would not move unless he attained enlightenment.











9. The Defeat of Mara

Hearing this solemn vow, Mara, the king of evil beings is the manifestation of death and desire, felt threatened. Mara's power over sentient beings originated from their attachment to sensuous pleasures and the consequent fear of death which lead to intense suffering. Enlightenment would free Siddhartha from Mara's control and provide an opportunity for others to free themselves also by emulating him.


So he sent his three young daughters to seduce the prince, who had no response.  The Mara sent his troop with arms to frighten the prince who did not even wink his eye.

Meditating under the Bodhi Tree for forty nine days all the bewitched obscured by gone, the insight of the prince was crystal clear and brightly pure.








10. Victory of Bodhicitta

That was a full moon night in May, the Prince went into deep meditation. As the morning star appeared, he become an Enlightened One, Buddha. Calmly the seated Buddha touched the earth with his right hand.


The earth thundered like saying “I am his witness”. Buddha exclaimed “How wonderful! All beings can become Buddhas!” if all the immoral thoughts and attachments that worrying you be gone for good, delivered yourselves from sufferings of the cyclic existence and realized nirvana then you become Enlightenment.


悉达多端身正坐、摄心思维四十九天后,夜睹天上明星,而豁然了悟。他看到了生命的缘起,受苦的原因 ,以及离苦处方得乐的方法


这时已成正等正觉,是时大地震动,彷佛在说我见证这庄严的一刻。佛陀说:『奇哉!奇哉!一切大地众生皆有如来智慧德相,只因妄想执着不能证得。』指出一切众生皆有佛性, 若能够去除妄想烦恼,便证得无上菩提。









11. The Proclamation of the Teachings

As an enlightened one Buddha at his deep meditation gave a teaching on “Avataṃsaka-sūtra”. Beside he ascended to Trayatrimsa heaven and gave his passed away mother Queen Mahadevi a discourse. Buddhas, Buddhisattvas, devas Kings of Heavens, deities and gods from all dimensions assembled, applaud and delighted in Dharma joy.


Devas incited Buddha to propagate his teachings and ensure all beings have the chance to develop their awareness.


Buddha therefore started to preach his teachings and left the Bodhi Tree, he first went up to Sarnath near Varanasi where he met the five mendicants with whom he had previously traversed the path of asceticism. Hearing his discourse, the Four Noble truths, they became his first disciples.  Hence, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha have formed a Triple Gems for us to pay homage and treasure with. Buddha with his 1250 disciples traveled around one third of India and his teachings covered the same.

Buddha broke down the scriptures of external paths and turned their followers to his monastic order. With the highest respect and honor preaching Dharma entitled the turns of Dharma-cakra. That means Dharma will roll on and on as long as Triple Gems exist.






此后,佛陀率领一千二百五十位弟子,周游各地,宣讲佛法,碾破异端邪说。释迦牟尼佛推动正法之轮,弘扬佛法,称为「转法轮」。佛陀弘法利生,平等慈悲 ,身教言教深入民间,自成宗教,佛法僧三宝传承至今不絶,普度无量众生。




12. The Passage into Parinirvana

For the sake of living beings. Buddha had given us the Sutra, Vinaya, Adhidharma (Doctrine, Discipline and Discussion) and lots of teachings and practices.

Buddha had passionately comforted those sad and tears, and given us the hope of bright future. Numerous impressed stories and legends of inspiration were recorded and told are the foot print of Buddha that every Buddhist would spend their life time to follow. The linage of Great lamas and generations of elders monk are the Deans who carry forwards Buddha’s virtues, leaders of pilgrim and patterns for devotee to cultivate.











Traveling great distances to disseminate his teachings, Buddha finally reached the city of Kushinagara. With his disciples in a grove, he lay there, reclining on his right side, facing west, with his head supported by his hand.  Shakyamuni realized clearly that death was approaching.

“Those established will vanish.  Don’t be lazy, keen on practice.  When we are apart Sila will be your guidance and settle down on the Four Earnest Contemplations”  and

“My dear disciples, purify one’s mind, there will be no granting for indulgence.” are the last words he gave to his disciples. Towards midnight of the same day, the event known in Buddhist terminology as the Parinirvana, or "Final Nirvana," took place. It was a full-moon night and also his eightieth birthday. The Enlightened One passed through progressively higher planes of meditation until he attained entry into Parinirvana.

One scripture gives an eloquent description of the scene: "The trees burst into full bloom out of season, bent down over the Buddha, and showered his body with their flowers, as if to do him supreme honor. There were heavenly flowers that rained down and scattered over the venerable one. . . . And the world was like a mountain whose summit has been shattered by a thunderbolt; it was like the sky without the moon." Perfume oil, aloe wood and sandalwood were prepared for the cremation. Afterwards the relics were divided into eight shares and placed for worship in eight pagodas built by King Asoka.