The Thirty Two Marks and Eighty Exemplifications of the Sambhogakaya
Geshe Jampa Gyatsho
Buddhist Himalaya: A Journal of Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Methods
Vol. III No. I & II (1990-1991)
Copyright 1990 by Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Methods
The following explanation is based on the Abhisamayalankara, a text written by Maitreya's disciple Asanga, who received this teaching from Maitreya in Tushita. This text was first translated into Tibetan by K'aba pal. tseg, a direct disciple of Lived during the reign of King Tri. Song De'u Tsen (755-804 A.D). The Indian pandit Hari bhadra wrote a commentary to this text which was translated into Tibetan and included in the Tan. Gyur with the name Abhisamyalankara-a loka. A short commentary can be found in the Ratnavali of Nagarjuna and in the Uttartantra Shastra of Mitreya. A Tibetan commentary was written by Chokyi Gyaltsen, a manifestation of Manjushri who lived in times of the second Dalai Lama. There is also some explanation in the Dhadrakalpika Sutra.
The accumulation of ten times the merits of the sravakas, pratyekabuddhas and ordinary sentient beings, creates the cause for one hair of the Buddha. The accumulation of hundred times these merits creates the cause for one Exemplification. The accumulation of eighty times these merits creates the cause for the eighty Exemplification. Accumulating the merits for the eighty Exemplification creates the cause for one of the Mark. The accumulation of thousand times these merits creates the cause for the curl in Buddha's forehead. The accumulation of hundred thousand times these merits creates the cause for the protuberance on top of Buddha's head. The accumulation of these merits for ten countless aeons creates the cause for Buddha's Holy speech, which is called the conch of Dharma and has sixty tow qualities. This represented by the three lines in Buddha's neck. According to Sutra there should b three lines., symbolizing the three training (conduct, concentration and wisdom). According to tantra there should be two lines, symbolizing the paths of sutra and tantra.
THIRTY TWO MARKS
1) The hands and feet of lord Buddha are marked by thousand spoked wheels
Cause: Inviting and accompanying the Gurus back to their places. Also serving the guru and his disciples and practicing charity.
2) Lord Buddha's feet look like a tortoise
They are soft, flat and round like the stomach of the tortoise.
Cause: Keeping firmly one's vows and making strong decision to keep them.
3) Lord Buddhas fingers and trees are connected by a web
Which reaches to their middle. They look like duck's feet .
Cause: Practicing the four sutra practices:
- Charity, which includes to make offerings to Buddha statues;
- Sweetly talking
- Encouraging other people to practice Dharma
- Forcing oneself to practice Dharma
4) The flesh of Lord Buddha's hands and feet looks soft and young
Cause: Making extensive offerings of food easy to chew and food hard to chew, (such as fruits). Also offering drinks.
5) Buddha's Holy body has seven elevations
The seven hollow parts two at the ankles, two at the shoulders and one at the back of the head, are covered by flesh.
Cause: Offering soft foods, such as porridge.
6) Lord Buddha's fingers are long
Cause: Releasing beings, which are in danger of being killed.
7) Lord Buddha's heels are wide, about one quarter of a foot.
Cause: Preventing sentient beings from beings killed, taking care of their lives and protecting them from life dangers.
8) Lord Buddha's Holy body is great and straight
It measures seven cubits and is not crooked.
Cause: Making vow not to kill any being, avoiding killing and preventing others from killing.
9) The protuberances on Lord Buddha's feet are not visible
They are covered by flesh. That refers to the outer bone.
Cause: Practicing virtue in general and specifically the six paramitas.
10) Each hair of Lord Buddha's Holy body goes upwards
Cause: Instructing people to practice virtue.
11) Lord Buddha's are like those of the antelope, smooth and straight
Cause: Teaching the five divisions of knowledge with a happy mind. these are: Dharma, handicrafts, medicine, logic, sound.
12) Lord Buddha's arms are long and beautiful
When he is standing they reach to his knees.
Cause: Giving away his wealth when asked by a beggar, instead of hiding it and saying: "I have nothing to give to you."
13) Lord Buddha's male organ is hidden, like that of a horse, It can't be seen.
Cause: Keeping secret those teachings and things that cannot be explained.
14) Lord Buddha's skin has a golden colour
It is called golden not because of the colour but because of it's being very clean clear.
Cause: Offering cushions.
15) Lord Buddha's skin is thin and smooth
Cause: Offering holy places, palaces and rooms which are very pleasant.
16) Each pore of Buddha's Holy body has only one hair growing towards the right
Cause: Avoiding gossiping and the wandering mind.
17) Lord Buddha's forehead is adorned with a curled hair, Which has six characteristics: smooth, whit, flexible, can extend three
cubits, is curled from right to left and its tip is turned upwards. It looks like silver and is shaped like kyurura or ambala fruit.
Cause: The six characteristics depend on practicing the six paramitas but the most important cause is respecting and pleasing those
who are higher than us, such as lamas. parents and people of higher social status.
18) The upper part of Lord Buddha's Holy body looks like a lion
Cause: Giving help to those who ask for instead of ignoring them.
19) The upper part of Lord Buddha's shoulders is round, Like the neck of a golden vase.
Cause: Practicing according to the virtuous advice of teachers.
20) Lord Buddha's chest is wide
Between the two shoulders the chest is flat, covered with flesh and not rough.
Cause: Offering medicines and requesting doctors to give medicines.
21) Lord Buddha always experiences sweet and best taste
Because his tongue is not afflicted by the three diseases of wind, phlegm and bile, Once a benefactor offered horse meat to Lord
Buddha. The meat was very unpleasant and Ananda, Lord Buddha's disciple, was very upset about it. But Lord Buddha put a piece on
his tongue and then gave it to Ananda the meat tasted as the most delicious food he ever had in his life.
Cause: Taking care of sick people and doing whatever needs to be done for them.
22) The length and width of Lord Buddha's Holy body are like those of the nardrota tree
whose roots, stem and branches have the same size.
Cause: Building bridges and digging wells. Also giving away or letting people use fenced forests, parks and gardens.
23) Lord Buddha has a protuberance on his head, round shaped and directed clockwise.
Cause: Building places for teachings. libraries, temples and good houses.
24) Lord Buddha's tongue is long and nice
It can reach his hair line and ears is red like an utpala flower.
Cause: Speaking pleasantly for three countless aeons.
25) Lord Buddha's speech is like Brahma's
It has five qualities: - all beings can understand it
- all his words have the same intonation
- it is very profound and benefits all beings.
- it is pleasant and deeply attractive
- the words are in the proper order, clear and without mistakes.
Cause: When teaching sentient beings, finding a way to make them understand the teachings in their own language.
26) Lord Buddha's cheeks are round like those of a lion
Their contour is similar to the ritual mirror.
Cause: Not gossiping
27) Lord Buddha's teeth are very white
Cause: Respecting and praising all sentient beings.
28) The length of Lord Buddha's teeth is even
Cause: Avoiding the five wrong livelihoods: 1) pretending, 2) flattery, 3) without explicitly asking for something saying: "last year
you gave me such and such thing, it was so nice", 4) saying: "somebody gave me before this and that", expecting to receive it, 5)
giving away small things in order to get a big one.
29) There is no gap between Lord Buddha's teeth
Cause: Telling the truth for three countless great aeons.
30) Lord Buddha has forty teeth
Twenty up and twenty down.
Cause: Avoiding slander for three countless aeons
31) Lord Buddha's eyes are deep blue colour, like saphire
Also the white and black parts are not mixed.
Cause: Having great kindness towards all sentient beings, like a mother for her only son.
32) Lord Buddha's eyelashes are like those of the wish-fulfilling cow very straight
Cause: Looking for a long time without anger, attachment, ignorance or any other delusion.
(In the root text only seven of the causes appear. The others are implicit.
THE EIGHTY EXEMPLIFICATIONS
1) The nails of Lord Buddha are copper-coloured
Cause: Not having attachment to any compounded phenomena.
2) The nails of Lord Buddha have oily appearance
They are shiny and smooth.
Cause: Having a pure wish to help others
3) The nails of Lord Buddha are high, not crooked
Cause: Having been of high caste in many lifetimes.
4) Lord Buddha's fingers have a perfectly round shape.
Cause: Performing good actions of body, speech and mind; keeping good behavior.
5) Lord Buddha's fingers are wide
Cause: Keeping the root if virtue, which is always to thinks about future lives happiness: avoiding non virtuous actions: practicing virtuous action of body, speech and mind without mixing them with non virtus
6) Lord Buddha's fingers are finely pointed due to the power of blessings
Cause: Practicing gradually the three vehicles in the proper order.
7) The veins of Lord Buddha's body are not visible
Cause: Avoiding the ten non virtuous actions and the five wrong livelihoods.
8) Lord Buddha's veins do not have knots
That refers to all the bodily channels.
Cause: Being free from the knots of delusion.
9) Lord Buddha's inner ankle bone is not visible
Cause: Understanding and realizing the secret meaning of all dharmas and secretly teachings some students.
10) Lord Buddha's feet are equal
They are both of the same size and the toes are leveled.
Cause: Taking sentient beings out of the samsaric realms.
11) Lord Buddha walks like a lion, very proudly
Cause: Overwhelming all sentient beings with magnificence.
12) Lord Buddha walks like and elephant
Cause: controlling the harmful nagas by his magnificence.
13) Lord Buddha flies like the wild goose.
Cause: Being able to fly in space to help sentient beings.
14) Lord Buddha is the leader of all groups, Like the elephant of Indra.
Cause: Helping to fulfill sentient being's wishes.
15) Lord Buddha walks towards the right, like circumambulating, and keeping others to his right.
16) Lord Buddha walks beautifully
To everybody he appears beautiful and cheerful.
Cause: Walking and wearing his robes slilfully.
17) Lord Buddha walks straight, on the path.
Cause: Not following the hinayana or pratyekabuddha's path, but always keeping on the mahayana path.
18) Lord Buddha's bodily actions are gentle not rough
Cause: Praising other people's qualities.
19) Lord Buddha's Holy body looks very clean, without any fault.
Cause: His actions of body, speech and mind are not mixed with pollutions.
20) All the parts of Lord Buddha's Holy body are in good proportion
Cause: Giving teachings to sentient beings according to their level of mind.
21) Lord Buddha's Holy body is completely pure
Cause: Keeping pure behaviour of body, speech and mind.
22) Lord Buddha's whole body is smooth and soft
Cause: Due to his great human compassion having always peaceful thoughts
23) Lord Buddha's Holy body is stainless
Completely free from bad smells and their imprints.
Cause: His mind being free from delusions.
24) Lord Buddha's Holy body is stainless
Cause: Lord Buddha has eliminated all delusions and wrong conceptions by realizing the whole vinaya.
25) The limbs of Lord Buddha's Holy body are supple and noble
Cause: expressing extensively the good qualities of others.
26) Lord Buddha's steps are equal
Cause: Having equal, impartial mind.
27) Lord Buddha's eyes are completely clean
The white part doesn't have red, yellow or black; not like the moon which has some black shadows.
Cause: Giving teaching which always benefit others.
28) Lord Buddha's flesh has a nature without wrinkles
Cause: Giving teachings with examples which are easy to understand.
29) Lord Buddha's body doesn't become thin or week
Cause: Practicing the Dharma, such as the six paramitas, without being discouraged and doing whatever needs to be done for the
benefit of others.
30) Lord Buddha's Holy body is well built up
Cause: The root of his virtue surpasses all worldly beings.
31) Lord Buddha's Holy body is very harmonious
His flesh is not too loose and not too tight.
Cause: Having exhausted the cause of taking rebirth in samsara.
32) Lord Buddha's limbs have perfect shape, as well as his fingers and hails.
Cause: Explaining the origination and the cessation of the twelve links, in order to take beings mind.
33) Lord Buddha's inner vision is clear, without any obscuration.
Cause: Teaching how to be reborn in the upper realms or how to attain nirvana and omniscient mind.
34) Lord Buddha's stomach is round in shape
Cause: Teaching and leading the disciples into the perfect morality of keeping all types of vows.
35) Lord Buddha's waist is proportionate to his Holy body
Not too thin and not too wide.
Cause: Having eliminated the propensities of pride.
36) Lord Buddha's waist is not stretched
Cause: Having eliminated the propensities of pride.
37) Lord Buddha's stomach and belly are leveled.
Cause: Teaching Dharma endlessly.
38) Lord Buddha's nevel is deep.
Cause: Realizing the meaning of profound voidness.
39) Lord Buddha's nevel is coiled towards the right
Cause: Leading the disciples according to their capability.
40) Lord Buddha's Holy body is beautiful from every side
Cause: Causing the disciples around him to perform beautiful actions of body, speech and mind.
41) The action of Lord Buddha's Holy body, speech and mind are pure.
Cause: Having a pure heart.
42) Lord Buddha's Holy body doesn't have moles or scars
Cause: Not showing the wrong path and if the time is not appropriate, not showing the right path either.
43) The palms of lord Buddha's hands are soft like the cotton from a special tree
Cause: Making the body, speech and mind of all sentient beings happy by his teachings.
44) The lines in Lord Buddha's hands are very clear, like peacock feathers
Cause: Giving teachings with impartial mind to those who are and those who are not his disciples and through that, realizing the state
45) The lines in Lord Buddha's hands are deep
Cause: Having completed the profound Dharma and having complete understanding of the profound voidness.
46) The lines in Lord Buddha's hands are long
Cause: Giving teachings which are beneficial for both temporal and ultimate happiness.
47) Lord Buddha's mouth is not too long
Cause: Showing many teachings according to the three levels of disciples (lower, middle and high).
48) Lord Buddha's lips are like cherries
Cause: Realizing all living and non-living phenomena as reflections in a mirror.
49) Lord Buddha's tongue is flexible
Cause: Subduing living beings by soft words.
50) Lord Buddha's tongue is thin
Cause: Having knowledge of the different skills for teaching, like the different logical reasons to explain sunyata.
51) Lord Buddha's tongue is red
Cause: Explaining the vinaya teachings which are the antidote to delusions and which are difficult to understand by those with childish
mind and by those who are attached to him.
52) Lord Buddha's tongue makes sounds like thunder
Cause: Being free from all fears, such as the eight fears.
53) Lord Buddha's speech is soft and sweet
Cause: Speaking pleasantly.
54) Lord Buddha's fanges are round
Cause: Having eliminated the root of all delusion and specifically the root of attachment.
55) Lord Buddha's fanges are sharp
Cause: Having subdued those difficult to subdue because of their strong ignorance, hatred and attachment.
56) Lord Buddha's fangs are white
Cause: Having eliminated delusions by practicing very white actions, like keeping the vinaya.
57) Lord Buddha's fanges equal
Cause: Realizing the non-self existence of both samsara and nirvana.
58) The root of Lord Buddha's fangs is wide and the points are thin
Cause: Explaining gradually the path of the three vehicles.
59) Lord Buddha's nose is high (big)
Cause: Having the method of the five paramitas and the wisdom of sunyata.
60) Lord Buddha's nose is perfectly clean
Cause: Due to his actions, having caused his disciples to perceive his as practicing clean, pure moral conduct.
61) Lord Buddha's eyes are wide
Cause: Teaching the mahayana path extensively for many aeons.
62) Lord Buddha's eyelashes are thick
Cause: Releasing countless being from samsara.
63) Lord Buddha's eyes are shaped like lotus petals
The white and black parts are not mixed and are very clear.
Cause: Beings the object of praise for young gods. goddesses and human beings.
64) Lord Buddha's eyebrows are long
Cause: Perceiving and understanding the future.
65) Lord Buddha's eyebrows are soft
Cause: Subduing living beings by giving them gentle teachings, such as the vinaya, instead of rough ones such as jumping into the
fire and standing on a trident, like the non-Buddhists do.
66) Lord Buddha's eyebrows are oily
Cause: His holy mind being permeated by the water of virtue and not dry.
67) The hairs of Lord Buddha's eyebrows have equal length
Cause: Seeing the shortcomings of delusions.
68) Lord Buddha's hands are long and white
Cause: Having conquered attachment, which is very difficult to conquer.
69) Lord Buddha's ears have equal size and shape
Cause: Having conquered attachment, which is very difficult to conquer.
70) Lord Buddha's ears are completely free from defects
Cause: Establishing sentient beings into the state of peace with impartial thought.
71) Lord Buddha's forehead is clear and open
There is a clear distinction between. the forehead and the hairline.
Cause: Not following wrong views since beginningless times.
72) Lord Buddha's forehead is wide and big
Cause: Destroying all bad speech.
73) Lord Buddha's head is wide, Like the sun or the full moot.
Cause: Having accomplished all the prayers to benefit others
74) Lord Buddha's hair is black, like a very black particular stone
Cause: Having eliminated completely the attachment to form and so on.
75) Lord Buddha's hair is very thick
Cause: Having completely avoided that which has to be avoided.
76) Lord Buddha's hair is soft
Cause: Having a very peaceful and gentle mind, free from the wrathful thoughts arise from delusions.
77) Lord Buddha's hair is untangled
Cause: His Holy mind is not confused by attachment.
78) Lord Buddha's hair is not rough and hard
Cause: Having eliminated harsh speech from its roots.
79) Lord Buddha's hair is scented
Cause: Offering flowers to the Three Jewels, which is the cause to attain Buddhood and one of the thirty seven practices of the
80) Lord Buddha has designs is his Holy body, like the pal. gyi peu and the square tashi.
The "pal. gyi peu" (sanskrit: pata) is what we call the endless knot. The design is formed by two "endless knots" and in between them a
square called "tashi", so that the whole figure looks like a vajra. This figure appears in Lord Buddha's thumbs and big toes. The Other
fingers and toes each of them have swastikas and seven circles forming a spiral towards the right. Some texts say that the pa.l. gyi peu
is at the Lord Buddha's heart and they don't mention the thumbs and toes. for instance, in the practice of "Ga. dhen 1ha gyama", Lama
Je Twong Khapa comes out of the "pal. gyi peu" at Maitreya's heart.
Cause: Lord Buddha's holy body is very beautiful to be seen.
In the Bhadrakalpika Sutra it is explained that each mark is related to practice, of the six paramitas and from the practice of the six paramitas any of the marls can arise.