I am fixing up the html file of the Mahavastu. In one section, the ‘Buddha to be’, Dipamkara, was in Tusita (heaven) surveying peoples and lands for a suitable place to take birth.
On page 177 the following verses appear:
While he is still
dwelling in Tuṣita,
the Bodhisattva exercises
great mindfulness in his search
for a mother whose karma is good.
For he must descend
into the womb of a woman
who has only seven nights
and ten months of her life remaining.
And why so?
Because, says he,
it is not seemly that she
who bears a peerless one like me
should afterwards indulge in love.
According to these verses, it would be unseemly for the Bodhisattva’s mother to indulge in ‘love’ (that is, sex) after giving birth to him. Why I ask? To me this is sexist.
In addition, it is borish (to me ), the description the text gives as to what is a ‘proper’ family for the Bodhisattva to be born in to. According to the text, the family must be endowed with sixty qualities, such as “of high birth and lineage…pre-eminent among families, and has ascendancy over other families…is rich in wealth, treasuries and granaries, elephants, horses, cattle and sheep, in female and male slaves and servants.”
What is wrong with, say, your average working class family?
I know the Mahavastu is a late text. (Incidently, this section of the Mahavastu has many similarties to a number of suttas in the Digha Nikaya where there are descriptions of elaborate and highly ornate palaces with gold, silver, and so on – also considered to be late). But with this kind of rhetoric, what kind of impressions and perceptions does it create? I’m just putting it out there, but I find these things counter productive to the world that many good people are trying to create, ie, one that does not set some up to be more priveleged, to the detriment and suffering of others.