Gem of Wisdom for Daily Reflection: 

Buddha’s 15 days of Miracles in Losar

The first full-moon day in the Tibetan New Year (Losar) is known as the Day of Miracles (Chotrul Duchen) to commemorate fifteen consecutive days of miracles performed by Shakyamuni Buddha to subdue the challenges of six heretic teachers (tirthikas) who were advocates of beliefs in total contradiction to the doctrine of Buddhadharma.

According to the sutras, these six sectarian teachers were Purana Kassapa who denied the existence of consequences for positive or negative actions; Makkhali Gosala who denied the existence of free will to shape one’s destiny; Ajita Kesakambala who denied the possibility of rebirth after death; Pakudha Kaccayana who denied the existence of moral choices, and held the belief that pleasures, sufferings and the souls are eternal; Sanjaya Belatthiputta who believed in taking no stand on any issue; and Nigantha Nataputta who believed in moral retribution and an eternal soul. 

At one time, Shakyamuni Buddha with hundreds of fully ordained monks was staying in Jeta Grove (Jetavana) outside the city of Rajagriha, ruled by King Bimbisara who was a devotee to the Buddha’s teaching. The younger brother of King Bimbisara who followed the teachings of the six heretic teachers decided to offer a feast to all who would attend. 

On the day of the feast, the six heretics attended and sat in the highest seats. Before Buddha and his entourage could make their way to the remaining seats, the six heretics found themselves got up and went to the lower seats. Three times they tried to return to the highest seats but each time they found themselves unable to move from where they were.

Buddha then took the highest seats and water for washing hands was offered to the World-Honoured One who said to his host that it should be first offered to his own teachers. But when the water was offered to the six heretics, nothing appeared to pour from the water vessel. It was then offered to Buddha who washed his hands with water flowed freely from the vessel and everyone was able to do the same afterwards. 

Before partaking of the feast, Buddha was asked by his host to bless the food. Buddha replied he should request his own teachers to perform the blessing. But when the six heretic teachers tried to pray, they were unable to utter a single word and Buddha was asked again by his host to bless the food. Buddha did the blessing as requested with a clear captivating voice. 

Food was then offered to Buddha who again said to his host to offer it first to his own teachers. But when the food was offered to the heretics, whichever food they tried to take simply took flight from their hands. It was only after food was taken by Buddha that others could do the same.

After the feast, request of teaching was made to Buddha who again said to his host to ask his own teachers first to give a discourse of their doctrines. Once again, all six heretic teachers were unable to utter a single word. Buddha then gave a teaching that reached the mind of everyone in spite of their different faculties, causing them to achieve different levels of spiritual attainment. As a result, many people turned away from the teaching of the heretics and decided to follow Buddha’s doctrine.

The six heretics felt so embarrassed by their experiences that they supplicated to Mara - the Lord of Illusion - to stop the activities of Buddha. Mara complied with their wishes by manifesting in their form and displayed various miraculous acts in public to attract new followers for them. They then went to King Bimbisara to present a request of contest with Buddha.

King Bimbisara informed Buddha of the challenge and made his plea for Buddha to respond. Buddha simply replied it will happen in the right time and asked the king to prepare a suitable venue for the contest. While this was underway, Buddha to everyone's surprise left Rajagriha for the city of Vaisali. 

Emboldened by their conviction that Buddha was in fear of them and ran away, the six heretics chased after Buddha and went to Vaisali to issue their request for a contest with Buddha to the King of Licchavi who promptly relayed their challenge to the World-Honoured One. 

Once again, Buddha replied it will happen in the right time and asked the king to prepare a suitable venue for the contest. 

Soon afterwards, Buddha left Vaisali for the country of Kausambi, then to the land of King Shun Tsin, followed by Tigitsashiri, Kapila, and finally returned to Sravasti. 

Throughout Buddha’s sojourn in different countries, he was chased after by the six heretics and by all the kings with their large numbers of retinues from the countries he had just visited. At each country, the heretics issued the same challenge to Buddha whose response was always that it will happen in the right time. 

The right time eventually arrived on the first spring day of the lunar new year in Sravasti. 

On the first day, Buddha went to the field that had been prepared for the contest and sat upon the lion throne. After King Prasenajit made his offering to Buddha, the World-Honoured One placed a toothpick in the ground from which a most magnificent tree instantly emerged from the soil with branches extended far and wide over the entire open air venue, bearing luscious leaves, blossoms of flowers, fruits and multi-coloured glimmering gems of every kinds. Buddha then spoke to the congregation of whom many attained the enlightened state of an arhat while many others were planted auspicious seeds for rebirth in the higher realms of human and gods.

On the second day, after King Udrayana made his offerings to Buddha, the World-Honoured One turned his head first to right, then to left, whence upon jewel mountain manifested on either sides. Each mountain issued spring water which had eight exquisite tastes. One mountain was covered by lush meadows for the grazing of animals and one mountain was full of blessed food that could satiate the needs of human. Buddha then spoke to the congregation of whom many developed bodhichitta while many others were planted auspicious seeds for rebirth in the higher realms of human and gods.

On the third day, after King Shun Tsin made his offerings to Buddha, the World-Honoured One spat a mouthful of water onto the ground upon which a large lake with seven types of precious gems covering the bottom was formed. The lake surface was full of lotus flowers in a diversity of colours and their fragrance permeated the air. Buddha then gave teachings to the congregation of whom many developed bodhichitta while many others were planted auspicious seeds for rebirth in the higher realms of human and gods.

On the fourth day, after King Indravarma made his offerings to Buddha, the World-Honoured One manifested a pool from which eight streams flowed outward and returned in circular pattern. From the sound of the running streams, the congregation heard the teachings of the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment. Many acquired understanding of the causes of enlightenment while many others were planted auspicious seeds for rebirth in the higher realms of human and gods.

On the fifth day, after King Brahmadatta made his offerings to Buddha, streams of golden light emanated from the World-Honoured One and purified the three poisons of every beings who had the fortunate karmic conditions to benefit in the entire world. When Buddha spoke, many developed bodhichitta while many others were planted auspicious seeds for rebirth in the higher realms of human and gods. 

On the sixth day, after the poeple of Licchavi made their offerings to Buddha, the World-Honoured One made it feasible for everyone present to discern the thoughts in each other’s mind. When Buddha spoke, many developed bodhichitta while many others were planted auspicious seeds for rebirth in the higher realms of human and gods. 

On the seventh day, after the people of Sakya made their offerings to Buddha, the World-Honoured One blessed everyone there so that they became chakravartins to lend support to the propagation of Dharma in the future. When Buddha spoke, many developed bodhichitta while many others were planted auspicious seeds for rebirth in the higher realms of human and gods. 

On the eighth day, after Indra and Brahma made their offerings to Buddha, the World-Honoured One touched the earth with his right hand while seated upon the lion throne. Amidst the trumpeting sound of elephants, five wrathful deities manifested and destroyed the thrones of the six heretic. Vajrapani then appeared with flaming vajra which terrified the six heretic to such extreme that they jumped into water and vanished. The ninety thousands deserted followers of the heretics besought Buddha to accept them into monkhood to which the World-Honoured One was happy to concede. Instantly, the hairs and beards of all the new monks miraculously fell by themselves. Eighty-four thousands beams of light then radiated from the Buddha’s skin pores to fill the entire sky. From each beam of light emerged a lotus flower upon which seated an emanation of Buddha accompanied by attendants, giving teaching to all the new monks in accordance to their faculties. Many developed bodhichitta while many others were planted auspicious seeds for rebirth in the higher realms of human and gods. 

On the ninth day, after Brahmaraja made his offerings to Buddha, the World-Honoured One caused his own body to enlarge in size until his height reached the highest heaven of the Brahma, and from there he gave teachings through beams of light streaming from his body reaching all ten directions. 

On the tenth day, after the four Guardian Kings made their offerings to Buddha, the World-Honoured One caused his own body to enlarge in size further than the previous day until his height reached the highest heaven of the formless realm, and from there he gave teachings through beams of light streaming from his body reaching all ten directions. 

On the eleventh day, after Anathapindika made his offerings to Buddha, the World-Honoured One entered into meditation, his body dissolved into golden light while his voice gave teaching to the congregation.

On the twelfth day, after Tseta made his offerings to Buddha, the World-Honoured One entered into meditation, golden light radiated from his body bringing his teaching of great compassion to every corner of the world, purified the three poisons from the minds of every living beings who had the fortunate karmic conditions to benefit.

On the thirteenth day, after King Shun Tsin made his offerings to Buddha, two beams of light  radiated from the navel of the World-Honoured One to reach the height of fifteen meters. From each of these beam of light emerged a lotus flower upon which seated an emanation of Buddha. Each Buddha then replicated the same process and caused the manifestation of more lotus flowers and more emanations of Buddha instantly filling the entire world, giving teaching all the while to those who have the fortunate karmic conditions to receive.

On the fourteenth day, after King Udrayana made his offerings to Buddha, the World-Honoured One transformed the flowers that was offered to him into twelve hundreds and fifty gems-encrusted carriages. Buddha then gave teaching to living beings throughout world just as a physician would tend to the healing of the sick.

On the fifteenth day, after King Bimbisara made his offerings to Buddha, the World-Honoured One asked King Bimbisara to bring him all the empty platters he could found and in one instant, all the platters were miraculously filled with food of a hundred types of delicacy which were shared among the congregation. Buddha then expounded all the misery in the world were caused by our own negative actions. Upon hearing Buddha’s teaching, many attained the fruition of stream-enterers, once-returners, non-returners, and arhats while many others developed bodhichitta or were planted auspicious seeds for rebirth in the higher realms of human and gods.

Henceforth, the fifteenth day of the Tibetan lunar new year is referred to as Day of Miracles (Chotrul Duchen) to commemorate fifteen days of miracles performed by Shakyamuni Buddha. The Festival of Miracles is one of four major Buddhist festivals  during which effects of positive and negative actions are multiplied by 10 million times. The other three are Saga Dawa Duchen, the Festival of Vaishakha; Chokhor Duchen, the Festival of Turning the Wheel of Dharma; and Lha Bab Duchen, the Festival of Decent from Heaven.

 

* This article is compiled from the teaching given by Lama Dondrup Dorje Rinpoche.