WARREN: BUDDHISM IN TRANSLATIONS
§ 102. The Buddhist Apocalypse
[The following is the account given by Prof. J. Minayeff, of St. Petersburg, of the second of the Manuscripts used by him in editing the Anāgata-Vamsa (History of Future Events), but with the Pāli passages translated into English. See Journal of the Pāli Text Society for 1886, page 33.]
II.B. A MS. on paper, 24 pages, marked by the letters (k-b). It is a copy from the MS. in the Library of Mg. Hpo Hmyin at Rangoon. This recension is a mixed one, in prose and in verse. It begins --
Hail to that Blessed One, that Saint, and Supreme Buddha!
THUS HAVE I HEARD.
On a certain occasion The Blessed One was dwelling at Kapilavatthu in Banyan Grove on the banks of the Rohanī River.
Then the venerable Sāriputta questioned The Blessed One concerning the future Conqueror:
"The Hero that shall follow you
As Buddha, of what sort is he?
Th' account in full I fain would learn.
Declare to me, thou Seeing One."
When he had heard the elder's speech,
The Blessed One vouchsafed reply:
"I'll tell it thee. Sāriputta,
Pray lend your ears, for I will speak.
"Our cycle is a happy one,
Three Leaders have already lived,
And eke the leader Kassapa.
"The Buddha now Supreme am I,
But after me Metteyya comes,
While still this happy cycle lasts,
Before its tale of years shall lapse.
"This Buddha, then, Metteyya called,
Supreme, and of all men the chief --"
Then follows a history of the previous existence of Metteyyo, with the three Buddhas, Sumitto, Metteyyo, and Muhutto, during twenty-seven Buddhas, and finally at the time of the Buddha Gotama, when he was born as son of Ajātasattu, prince of Ajita (pp. ka--ca). On page ca begins the future history of Metteyya with a quotation of the recension compiled in verse. Then follows the description of the gradual declension of the holy religion:
"How will it occur? After my decease, first will occur the five disappearances. And what are the five disappearances? The disappearance of the attainments, the disappearance of the method, the disappearance of learning, the disappearance of the symbols, the disappearance of the relics. These are the five disappearances that are to occur.
"The attainments: -- Only for a thousand years from the time The Blessed One passes into Nirvana will the priests be able to acquire the analytical sciences. Then as time goes on my disciples will attain only to never returning, to once returning, to conversion. As long as such exist the disappearance of the attainments will not yet have occurred. But with the death of the last disciple that has attained to conversion the attainments will have disappeared.
"This, O Sāriputta, is the disappearance of the attainments.
"Disappearance of the method: -- My disciples being unable  to realize the trances, the insights, the Paths, and the Fruits, will keep only the four purities of conduct. Then as time goes on they will keep only the commandments forbidding the four deadly sins. As long as there are a hundred or a thousand priests who keep the commandments forbidding the four deadly sins, the disappearance of the method will not have occurred. But when the last priest shall break the precepts, or shall die, the method will have disappeared.
"This, O Sāriputta, is the disappearance of the method.
"Disappearance of learning: -- As long as the text of the Three Baskets, which is the word of The Buddha, and as long as their commentaries are extant,[nmo1] the disappearance of learning will not have occurred. But as time goes on there will be irreligious kings of base extraction, and the courtiers and others in authority will be irreligious, and then the country people throughout the kingdom will be irreligious. On account of their irreligion the god will not rain in due season, and the crops will not flourish properly. And when the crops do not flourish, those who are wont to give the reliances to the congregation of the priests will be unable to do so any more. And the priests, not receiving the reliances, will not teach the novices, and as time goes on learning will disappear. When it disappears, it is the Great Work [i.e. Patthāna. See page xviii] that first disappears; when that has disappeared, then the Yamaka, the Kathā-Vatthu, the Puggala-Paññatti, the Dhātu-Kathā, the Vibhanga, and the Dhamma-Sangani do so. When the Abhidhamma-Pitaka has disappeared, the Suttanta-Pitaka will also disappear. When the Suttanta disappears, it is first the Aṅguttara-Nikāya that disappears, and when the Aṅguttara-Nikāya disappears, then the Samyutta-Nikāya, the Majjhima-Nikāya, the Dīgha-Nikāya, the Khuddaka-Nikāya will disappear. My disciples will only remember the Jātaka together with the Vinaya-Pitaka. It is, however, only the well-conducted priests that will remember the Vinaya-Pitaka. But as time goes on they will be unable to remember the Jātaka, and first the Vessantara Birth-Story will disappear, and when the Vessantara Birth-Story has disappeared . . . the Apannaka Birth-Story will disappear. When the Jātaka  has disappeared, they will only remember the Vinaya-Pitaka. As time goes on the Vinaya-Pitaka will disappear, but as long as a four-line stanza remains among men, so long the disappearance of learning will not have occurred. But when a pious king shall cause a purse containing a thousand pieces of money to be placed in a golden casket on the back of an elephant, and shall cause proclamation up to the second and third time to be made throughout the city to the sound of the drum, as follows: 'Anyone who knows a single stanza spoken by The Buddhas, let him take these thousand coins together with this elephant,' and yet shall fail to find anyone who knows a four-line stanza, and shall receive again the purse containing the thousand pieces into the royal palace, then the disappearance of learning will have occurred.
"This, O Sāriputta, is the disappearance of learning.
"Now as time goes on the last of the priests will carry their robes, their bowls, and their tooth-sticks after the manner of the naked ascetics. They will take a bottle-gourd, make of it a begging-bowl, and carry it in their arms, or in their hands, or in the balance of a carrying-pole. And as time goes on a priest will say, 'What is the good of this yellow robe?' and cut a small piece of yellow cloth, and tie it around his neck, or his ears, or his hair, and devote himself to husbandry or trade and the like, and to taking care of wife and children. Then he will give gifts to the southern congregation. And the fruit of this gift, say I, will be a myriadfold. As time goes on the priests will say, 'What do we want with this?' and they will throw away the piece of yellow cloth and persecute the wild animals and birds of the forest, and thus the disappearance of the symbols will have occurred.
"This, O Sāriputta, is the disappearance of the symbols.
"Thereupon, the dispensation of The Supreme Buddha being now five thousand years old, the relics will begin to fail of honor and worship, and will go wherever they can receive honor and worship. But as time goes on they will not receive honor and worship in any place. Then, when the dispensation has disappeared, the relics will come from every place; from the serpent world, from the world of the gods, and from the  Brahma-world; and having congregated together at the throne under the Great Bo-tree, they will make an effigy of The Buddha and perform a miracle resembling the double-miracle, and will teach the Doctrine. Not a single human being will be found at that place; but all the gods from ten thousand worlds will come together and listen to the Doctrine, and many thousands of them will attain to the Doctrine. And these will cry aloud, saying, 'Divine sirs, on the seventh day from now our One Possessing the Ten Forces will pass into Nirvana.' Then they will weep, saying, 'From henceforth we shall be in darkness.' Then the relics will put forth flames of fire and burn up that effigy without remainder.
"This, O Sāriputta, is the disappearance of the relics."
Immediately after this, there follows an account of the destruction of the Kappa [World-Cycle]. The verse recension does not run on continuously in the compilation. The verses are interrupted by prose insertion, e. g., on page na there is inserted the ancient history of Mahāpanāda; on page tha there is a description of the capital of King Sankha. Further on page da there is described the attainment of pāramita [the Perfections], the conception and birth of Metteyya, his palaces, his life there, his departure from home, and his death. On page na is depicted the sacred tree and the body of the future teacher. This recension ends thus:
f. [i.e., Folio] ba. "But who shall not behold Metteyya, The Blessed One? and who shall behold him?
"One who creates a schism in a church, as it is said, 'Devadatta remains in hell for the entire world-cycle,' as well as all others born in the Avīci hell, from performing the five crimes that constitute 'proximate karma,' those cherishing wholly heretical views, and those who slander the noble disciples, shall not see him. The naked ascetics who create a schism by denying the congregation allowable privileges shall not see him. All other beings who give gifts, keep the precepts, keep fast-days, fulfil their religious duties, found shrines, plant sacred fig-trees, parks and groves, make bridges, clear the highways, take their stand in the precepts, and dig wells, shall see him. Those who, in their longing for a Blessed One, shall  make a gift even if only of a handful of flowers, or of a single lamp, or of a mouthful of food, shall see him. Those who feel pleasure at meritorious deeds shall see him. Those who further the religion of The Buddha, prepare the pavilion and the seats for the preachers of the Doctrine, bring forward the fan, make offerings of cloth, canopies, garlands, incense, or lamps, or are stanch sustainers of the ministrations of the Doctrine, shall see him. Those who listen to the Vessantara Birth-Story shall see him, likewise those who give to the congregation offerings of food etc. shall see him. Those who wait on their mothers and their fathers, and perform respectful duties for their elders among their kinsfolk shall see him. Those who give ticket-food, fortnightly food, and food on fast-days, those who practise the ten means of acquiring merit shall see him. And when they have listened to the Doctrine of The Blessed Metteyya, they shall attain to saintship."
Then our Blessed One, in order to show who of those about him were to become Buddhas, said:
"Metteyya excellent, Rāma,
Pasenadi Kosala, 'Bhibhū,
Dīghasoni and Samkacca,
Subha, the Brahman Todeyya,
These ten are Future Buddhas now,
And in due course, in time to come,
Wisdom Supreme shall they attain."
End of the Metteyya Discourse and History of Future Events.
[nmo1]Bold/italics mine. This is one pernicious tale; no doubt the source of the idea that the jhanas are no longer attainable. But here the author has betrayed himself with a statement that can only have been made after the existence of the commentaries and those we know were put together long after the death of the Buddha.