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Chapter XVII
Sankasya. Buddha’s Ascent to and Descent from the Trayastrimsas Heaven, and Other Legends.

From this they proceeded south-east for eighteen yojanas, and found themselves in a kingdom called Sankasya,1 at the place where Buddha came down, after ascending to the Trayastrimsas heaven,2 and there preaching for three months his Law for the benefit of his mother.3 Buddha had gone up to this heaven by his supernatural power,4 without letting his disciples know; but seven days before the completion (of the three months) he laid aside his invisibility,4 and Anuruddha,5 with his heavenly eyes,5 saw the World-honoured one, and immediately said to the honoured one, the great Mugalan, “Do you go and salute the World-honoured one.” Mugalan forthwith went, and with head and face did homage at (Buddha’s) feet. They then saluted and questioned each other, and when this was over, Buddha said to Mugalan, “Seven days after this I will go down to Jambudvipa;” and thereupon Mugalan returned. At this time the great kings of eight countries with their ministers and people, not having seen Buddha for a long time, were all thirstily looking up for him, and had collected in clouds in this kingdom to wait for the World-honoured one.

Then the bhikshuni Utpala6 thought in her heart, “To-day the kings, with their ministers and people, will all be meeting (and welcoming) Buddha. I am (but) a woman; how shall I succeed in being the first to see him?”7 Buddha immediately, by his spirit-like power, changed her into the appearance of a holy Chakravartti8 king, and she was the foremost of all in doing reverence to him.

As Buddha descended from his position aloft in the Trayastrimsas heaven, when he was coming down, there were made to appear three flights of precious steps. Buddha was on the middle flight, the steps of which were composed of the seven precious substances. The king of Brahma-loka9 also made a flight of silver steps appear on the right side, (where he was seen) attending with a white chowry in his hand. Sakra, Ruler of Devas, made (a flight of) steps of purple gold on the left side, (where he was seen) attending and holding an umbrella of the seven precious substances. An innumerable multitude of the devas followed Buddha in his descent. When he was come down, the three flights all disappeared in the ground, excepting seven steps, which continued to be visible. Afterwards king Asoka, wishing to know where their ends rested, sent men to dig and see. They went down to the yellow springs10 without reaching the bottom of the steps, and from this the king received an increase to his reverence and faith, and built a vihara over the steps, with a standing image, sixteen cubits in height, right over the middle flight. Behind the vihara he erected a stone pillar, about fifty cubits high,11 with a lion on the top of it.12 Let into the pillar, on each of its four sides,13 there is an image of Buddha, inside and out14 shining and transparent, and pure as it were of /lapis lazuli/. Some teachers of another doctrine15 once disputed with the Sramanas about (the right to) this as a place of residence, and the latter were having the worst of the argument, when they took an oath on both sides on the condition that, if the place did indeed belong to the Sramanas, there should be some marvellous attestation of it. When these words had been spoken, the lion on the top gave a great roar, thus giving the proof; on which their opponents were frightened, bowed to the decision, and withdrew.

Through Buddha having for three months partaken of the food of heaven, his body emitted a heavenly fragrance, unlike that of an ordinary man. He went immediately and bathed; and afterwards, at the spot where he did so, a bathing-house was built, which is sti............
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