|The Buddha reclining into final nirvana, Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda, Burma (Bas1953/flickr).|
|The Buddha's feet (vanishingtattoo.com)|
|Wheels with 1,000 spokes (vanishingtattoo.com)|
- "Naga" means "a great being," such as an elephant or a great, magical dragon. Buddhists adopted the term as an epithet for the Buddha and his arhat (fully enlightened) disciples.
- Because Dona phrases this question in the future tense, it has led to a great deal of discussion as to what the entire dialogue means: Is he asking what the Buddha will be in a future life, or is he asking what he is now? The context of the discussion seems to demand the second alternative. Dona wants to know what kind of being has such amazing footprints. The Buddha's image of the lotus describes his present state, but the grammar of Dona's questions would seem to demand the first. A.K. Warder, in Introduction to Pali (p. 55), notes that the future tense is often used to express wonder, surprise, or perplexity about something in the present: "What might this be?" "What on earth is this?" This seems to be the sense of Dona's questions. Dona's earlier statement -- "These are not the footprints of a human being" -- is also phrased in the future tense. The mood of wonder extends throughout this conversation. It is also possible that the Buddha's answers, which are also phrased in the future tense, are a form of word-play. The Buddha may be using the future tense in both its meanings to refer both to his present and to his future state.
- What is a yakkha? It is a class generally described as non-human beings (amanussā). They are mentioned with devas (shining ones, "angels"), rakkhasas (ogres, "demons"), dānavas (a name for the asuras, "titans," descendents of Danu), gandhabbas (messenger-angels, the lowest rank of celestials), kinnaras (avians, garudas, suparnas), and maho-ragas (royal bloodline nāgas, reptilians, or great creatures), for example in J.v.420. In other lists (e.g., PvA. 45, 55) they range immediately above the petas ("hungry ghosts"); in fact, some of the happier petas are called yakkhas. Elsewhere (e.g., A.ii.38) they rank, in progressive order, between human (manussā) and messenger-angel (gandhabbā). They are of many different kinds: spirits, ogres, dryads, ghosts, spooks. In early records, yakkha, like nāgā, is an appellative and is anything but depreciative; it is a compliment. Therefore, not only is Sakka, King of the Gods (Devas in two space worlds immediately above the human plane), so referred to (M.i.252; J.iv.4; DA.i.264), but even the Buddha is spoken of as a yakkha in poetic diction (M.i.386). Many gods (devas), such as Kakudha, are so addressed (S.i.54).
- The Buddha not identifying himself as a human being relates to a point made throughout the Pali canon: An awakened/enlightened person cannot be defined in any way at all. On this point, see MN 72, SN 22.85, SN 22.86, and the article, "A Verb for Nirvana." Because a mind beset by clinging is "located" by its clinging, an fully awakened person takes no place in any world. This is why such a person is unsmeared by the world or sphere (loka) like the lotus unsmeared by muddy water.
|The Buddha's golden skin (MarmaladeToast)|
|Mahayana in Malaysia (focusandsnap)|