The mother of the Buddha (D.ii.52; see Thomas: op. cit.,
Her father was the Sākiyan Añjana of
Devadaha, son of Devadahasakka, and her
mother Yasodharā, daughter of
Jayasena. (Mhv.ii.17ff.; elsewhere her father is
called Mahā Suppabuddha (ThigA.141), while the Apadāna (ii.538) gives the name
of her mother as Sulakkhanā).
Suppabuddha were her brothers, and Mahā
Pajāpatī her sister. Both the sisters were married to
Suddhodana in their youth,
but it was not till Māyā was between forty and fifty that the Buddha was born
(Vibhā.278). She had all the qualities necessary for one who was to bear the
exalted rank of being the mother of the Buddha: she was not too passionate, she
did not take intoxicants, she had practiced the
pāramī for one hundred thousand
kappas, and had not, since her birth, violated the five
sīlā. On the day of her
conception she kept her fast, and in her sleep that night she had the following
dream: the four Mahārāja gods took her in her bed to Himavā and placed her under
a sāla tree on Manosilātala. Then their wives came and bathed her in the
Anotatta Lake and clad her in divine robes. They then led her into a golden
palace and laid her on a divine couch; there the Bodhisatta, in the form of a
white elephant, holding a white lotus in his gleaming trunk, entered into her
right side. This was on the day of the Uttarāsālhanakkhatta, after a festival
lasting seven days, in which she had already taken part.
Queen Maya dreamt that a white elephant entered her side at
the conception of the Bodhisatta.
From the day of her conception she was guarded by the Four
Regent Gods; she felt no desire for men, and the child in her womb could be seen
from outside. At the end of the tenth month she wished to return to her people
in Devadaha, but, on her way thither, she stopped at the sāla grove in
and there her child was born as she stood holding on to the branch of a sāla
tree (J.i.49ff). Seven days later Māyā died and was reborn as a male in the
Tusita world, under the name of Māyādevaputta (Thag.vss.533f.; ThagA.i.502).
Buddha visited Tāvatimsa immediately after the performance of the Twin Miracle
at the foot of the Gandamba tree, on the full moon day of Āsālha, and there,
during the three months of the rainy season, the Buddha stayed, preaching the
Abhidhamma Pitaka to his mother (who came there to listen to him), seated on
Sakka's Pandukambalasilāsana, at the foot of the Pāricchattaka tree. (It is said
that, during this time, at certain intervals, the Buddha would return to earth,
leaving a seated image of himself in Tāvatimsa to continue the preaching while
he attended to his bodily needs, begging alms in Uttarakuru and eating his food
on the banks of Anotatta, where Sāriputta waited on him and learnt of what he
had been preaching to the devas.) (DhSA.i.15; DhA.iii.216f)
The Commentaries (UdA.276f ) state the view, held by some,
that had Māyā been alive the Buddha would not have shown such reluctance to
bestow ordination on women. This view, says Dhammapāla is erroneous. It would
have made no difference, for it is the dhammatā of all Buddhas that women shall
be ordained, but subject to certain important restrictions. The mothers of all
Buddhas die very soon after the birth of their son, because no other child is
fit to be conceived in the same womb as a Buddha.
Māyā is mentioned in several Jātakas as the mother of the
Bodhisatta - e.g., in
- the Alīnacitta,
- the Katthahāri,
- the Kurudhamma,
- the Kosambī,
- the Khandahāla,
- the Dasaratha,
- the Bandhanāgāra,
- the Mahāummagga,
- the Mātuposaka,
- the Vessantara,
- the Susīma,
- the Somanassa
- the Hatthipāla.
According to some contexts, after her birth as Phusatī in the Vessantara Jātaka,
Māyā became one of the daughters of King Kikī.
Māyā's resolve to be the mother of a Buddha was formed
ninety one kappas ago in the time of Vipassī Buddha (J.vi.480f). She was then
the elder daughter of King Bandhumā. One of the king's vassals sent him a piece
of priceless sandalwood and a golden wreath, worth one hundred thousand. The
sandalwood the king gave to his elder daughter and the wreath to the younger.
The elder powdered the sandalwood and took it in a golden casket to the Buddha.
Some of the powder she offered to the Buddha to be rubbed on his body, and the
rest she scattered in his cell. It was the sight of the Buddha's golden body
that inspired her with the desire to be the mother of such a being. Her sister
later became Uracchadā.
Mahadevi pond where she bathed before giving birth to the Buddha
Maha Devi Temple in Lumbini, Nepal.
Pilgrimage to Lumbini, Nepal, which is Lord Buddha's birth-place.
The Buddha was born as a prince in Lumbini, Nepal.