Lakkhaṇa Sutta ("The Marks of a Great Man")

SO I HAVE HEARD. At one time the Buddha was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. There the Buddha addressed the mendicants, “Mendicants!”

“Venerable sir,” they replied. The Buddha said this:

“There are thirty-two marks of a great man. A great man who possesses these has only two possible destinies, no other. If he stays at home he becomes a king, a wheel-turning monarch, a just and principled king. His dominion extends to all four sides, he achieves stability in the country, and he possesses the seven treasures. He has the following seven treasures: the wheel, the elephant, the horse, the jewel, the woman, the treasurer, and the counselor as the seventh treasure. He has over a thousand sons who are valiant and heroic, crushing the armies of his enemies. After conquering this land girt by sea, he reigns by principle, without rod or sword. But if he goes forth from the lay life to homelessness, he becomes a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha, who draws back the veil from the world.

And what are the thirty-two marks?

He has well-planted feet.

On the soles of his feet there are thousand-spoked wheels, with rims and hubs, complete in every detail.

He has projecting heels.

He has long fingers.

His hands and feet are tender.

His hands and feet cling gracefully.

His feet are arched.

His calves are like those of an antelope.

When standing upright and not bending over, the palms of both hands touch the knees.

His private parts are retracted.

He is gold colored; his skin has a golden sheen.

He has delicate skin, so delicate that dust and dirt don’t stick to his body.

His hairs grow one per pore.

His hairs stand up; they’re blue-black and curl clockwise.

His body is as straight as Brahmā’s.

He has bulging muscles in seven places.

His chest is like that of a lion.

The gap between the shoulder-blades is filled in.

He has the proportional circumference of a banyan tree: the span of his arms equals the height of his body.

His torso is cylindrical.

He has an excellent sense of taste.

His jaw is like that of a lion.

He has forty teeth.

His teeth are even.

His teeth have no gaps.

His teeth are perfectly white.

He has a large tongue.

He has the voice of Brahmā, like a cuckoo’s call.

His eyes are deep blue.

He has eyelashes like a cow’s.

Between his eyebrows there grows a tuft, soft and white like cotton-wool.

His head is shaped like a turban.

These are the thirty-two marks of a great man. A great man who possesses these has only two possible destinies, no other.

Seers outside of Buddhism remember these marks, but they do not know the specific deeds performed in the past to obtain each mark.

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