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Pacceka Buddha

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pacceka-buddha: an 'Independently Enlightened One'; or Separately or Individually (=pacceka) Enlightened One (renderings by 'Silent' or 'Private Buddha' are not very apt). This is a term for an Arahat (s. ariya-puggala) who has realized Nibbāna without having heard the Buddha's doctrine from others. He comprehends the 4 Noble Truths individually (pacceka), independent of any teacher, by his own effort. He has, however, not the capacity to proclaim the Teaching effectively to others, and therefore does not become a 'Teacher of Gods and Men', a Perfect or Universal Buddha (sammā-sambuddha ). - Paccekabuddhas are described as frugal of speech, cherishing solitude. According to tradition, they do not arise while the Teaching of a Perfect Buddha is known; but for achieving their rank after many aeons of effort, they have to utter an aspiration before a Perfect Buddha.

Canonical references are few; Pug. 29 (defin.); A. II, 56; in M. 116, names of many Paccekabuddhas are given; in D. 16 they are said to be worthy of a Thūpa (dagoba); the Treasure-Store Sutta (Nidhikhandha Sutta, Khp.) mentions pacceka-bodhi; the C. Nidd. ascribes to individual Paccekabuddhas the verses of the Rhinoceros Sutta (Khaggavisāna Sutta, Sn.) - See bodhi. See The Paccekabuddha, by Ria Kloppenborg (WHEEL 305/307).

The name given to one who is enlightened by and for himself - i.e., one who has attained to supreme and perfect insight, but who dies without proclaiming the truth to the world - hence the equivalent "Silent Buddha" sometimes found in translations. Pacceka Buddhas practice their pāramī for at least two thousand asankheyya kappas. They are born in any of the three kulas: brāhmana, khattiya, or gahapati only in a vivattamāna kappa, during which Buddhas are also born, but they never meet a Buddha face to face. They cannot instruct others; their realization of the Dhamma is "like a dream seen by a deaf mute." They attain to all the iddhi, samā patti and patisanhidā of the Buddhas, but are second to the Buddhas in their spiritual development. They do ordain others; their admonition is only in reference to good and proper conduct (abhisamācārikasikkhā).

Sometimes (e.g., at J.iv.341) it is stated that a Pacceka Buddha's knowledge and comprehension of ways and means is less than that of a Bodhisatta. They hold their uposatha in the Ratanamālaka, at the foot of the Mañjūsarukkha in Gandhamā dana. It is possible to become a Pacceka Buddha while yet a layman, but, in this case, the marks of a layman immediately disappear. Three caves in the Nandamūlakapabbhāra - Suvannaguhā, Maniguhā and Rajataguhā - are the dwelling places of Pacceka Buddhas. Round the Ratanamālaka, q.v. (or Sabbaratanamālaka), seats are always ready to receive the Pacceka Buddhas. When a Pacceka Buddha appears in the world, he immediately seeks the Ratanamālaka, and there takes his appointed seat. Then all the other Pacceka Buddhas in the world assemble there to meet him, and, in reply to a question by the chief of them, he relates the circumstances which led to his enlightenment. Similarly, all the Pacceka Buddhas assemble at the same spot when one of them is about to die. The dying one takes leave of the others, and, after his death, they cremate his body and his relics disappear. These details are given in SNA.i.47, 51, 58, 63; KhA.178, 199; ApA.i.125; see also s.v. Gandhamādana.

But, according to another account, they die on the mountain called Mahāpapāta (q.v.). There does not seem to be any limit to the number of Pacceka Buddhas who could appear simultaneously. In one instance, five hundred are mentioned as so doing, all sons of Padumavatī (q.v.), at the head of whom was Mahāpaduma. In the Isigili Sutta (M.iii.68ff ) appears a long list of Pacceka Buddhas who dwelt on the Isigili Mountain (q.v.), and after whom the mountain was named.

According to Buddhaghosa (MA.ii.889ff), the names in this list belonged to the five hundred sons of Padumavatī, but the number of the names is far less than five hundred. This discrepancy is explained by saying that as many as twelve bore the same name. Other names are found scattered over different texts, such as the Jātakatthakathā. E.g., Darīmukha (J.iii.240), Sonaka (v.249); see also DhA. iv.120, etc.

The name occurring most frequently in the texts is that of Tagarasikhī (q.v.). Mention is also made of the Pacceka Buddhas going among men for alms and spending the rainy season in dwellings provided by men. E.g., DhA.ii.112f.; iii.91, 368; iv.200. Their patthanā (SNA.51). Their wisdom less than that of a Bodhisatta (J.iv.341).

Among the teachings preserved of the Pacceka Buddhas, the most important is the Khaggavisāna Sutta (q.v.). For the definition of a Pacceka Buddha see Puggalapiññatti (p.14; cf. p.70). There he is described as one who understands the Truth by his own efforts, but does not obtain omniscience nor mastery over the Fruits (phalesu vasībhāvam).