32 Marks of a Great Man

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: 32 Marks of a Great Man

Postby Individual » Sat May 02, 2009 7:24 pm

TheDhamma wrote:Robert Bluck writes (above):

"Each of the Buddha’s marks is seen imaginatively as relating to spiritual progress, from the ‘well-planted feet’ which resemble ‘the first steps one takes towards the Dhamma’ to the ‘turban crown’ which symbolizes ‘insight into the real nature of things: anicca, dukkha, anatta’ (Thirty-Two Marks, 1995: 106–7)."

The use of 'imaginatively' and 'symbolizes' seems to imply a metaphorical, symbolic account of the 32 marks.

On this, it's worth pointing out that the Brahmajala Sutta says:

...tying the hair into a top-knot... Samana Gotama abstains from such embellishment and adornment. A worldling, bhikkhus, might praise the Tathagata in this manner.

And yet, of the Buddha's characteristics, they include:

53. His topknot is like a crown.

...

80. He has a topknot as if crowned with a flower garland.

So, did he have a top-knot or not? Based on the described appearance of the Buddha, most statues give him a top-knot. In one sutta (forget which, though), Upali the barber cut his hair, suggesting Gautama wasn't bald.
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Re: 32 Marks of a Great Man

Postby Fede » Sat May 02, 2009 8:33 pm

Individual, you had a great, long, huge thread on another forum on this 'topknot' business.... you still asking.....?? :popcorn:
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Re: 32 Marks of a Great Man

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Sat May 02, 2009 9:40 pm

Fede wrote::oops:


On the subject of this Pandora's Box... where did I read that Hope (left behind and trapped in the box) was not a positive sign, but rather a negative one, and that Hope, whilst appearing to be a positive attribute, actually raises far too many desires, only to see them dashed and destroyed....? Hope was, after all, in the Box, denoted as containing "All the Evil of Mankind".....
I wish I could find the post.
It made sense......


That was me, a revelation I had in high school while reading Bullfinch's Mythology. That cynical bit of my rambling was on e-sangha under a thread about Japanese soldiers losing hope. One of my more darker gems, I'll admit. :tongue:

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Re: 32 Marks of a Great Man

Postby Jechbi » Sat May 02, 2009 9:49 pm

Individual wrote:So, did he have a top-knot or not?

Are you sure it's not just a big snail?
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But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: 32 Marks of a Great Man

Postby Individual » Sun May 03, 2009 1:22 am

Fede wrote:Individual, you had a great, long, huge thread on another forum on this 'topknot' business.... you still asking.....?? :popcorn:
:namaste:

I'm not asking, because I don't think there is a sufficient answer. When I asked, I don't remember getting a straightforward answer. I remember hearing some people flat-out deny it was a topknot without substantiating their claim. I mention it here because it is relevant, demonstrating a case of a possibly metaphorical description of the Buddha's appearance.
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Re: 32 Marks of a Great Man

Postby Dhammanando » Sun May 03, 2009 1:33 am

Individual wrote:So, did he have a top-knot or not?


Taking into account the Suttas' teaching on the eight great assemblies, I would suppose that the Buddha exhibited a top-knot when visiting assemblies of people with top-knots, but not when visiting other kinds of assembly.


    'Ananda, there are these eight kinds of assembly. What are they? They are an assembly of khattiyas, an assembly of brahmins, an assembly of householders, an assembly of ascetics, an assembly of devas of the Realm of the Four Great Kings, an assembly of the Thirty-Three Gods, an assembly of maras, an assembly of Brahmas.

    'I remember well, Ananda, many hundreds of assemblies of Khattiyas that I have attended; and before I sat down with them, spoke to them or joined in their conversation, I adopted their appearance and speech, whatever it might be. And I instructed, inspired, fired and delighted them with a discourse on Dhamma. And as I spoke with them they did not know me and wondered: "Who is it that speaks like this? Is he a deva or is he a man?" And having thus instructed them, I vanished from there, and still they did not know: "He who has just vanished - was he a deva or was he a man?"

    'I remember well, Ananda, many hundreds of assemblies of brahmins ... many hundreds of assemblies of householders ... many hundreds of assemblies of ascetics ... many hundreds of assemblies of devas of the Realm of the Four Great Kings ... many hundreds of assemblies of the Thirty-Three Gods, many hundreds of assemblies of maras ...

    'I remember well, Ananda, many hundreds of assemblies of Brahmas that I have attended; and before I sat down with them, spoke to them or joined in their conversation, I adopted their appearance and speech, whatever it might be. And I instructed, inspired, fired and delighted them with a discourse on Dhamma. And as I spoke with them they did not know me and wondered: "Who is it that speaks like this? Is he a deva or is he a man?" And having thus instructed them, I vanished from there, and still they did not know: "He who has just vanished from here - was he a deva or was he a man?"
    (Parisa Sutta, AN. iv. 307-8; Mahaparinibbana Sutta, DN. ii. 109-110)

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