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 practise 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
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 Gandhamādana. 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; KhpA.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).
See also Mātanga (2).