Do you have any references in the Tipitaka about Sakyamuni Buddha's journey of life?

I’ve read several book references about the Buddha’s journey of life.

I found several differences in it, such as the words added to make it different from what is written in several other books.

Based on my experience, I’ve seen a video about Buddha, although the addition of the vignettes in the video answered most of my questions and seemed reasonable. However, after I confirmed with one of the monks who master the tipitaka. He said this was not written in the tipitaka. And he said ‘If an untruth is believed then it is possible that the untruth will become the truth in the end’.
So, I beg if you have any references to the tipitaka about the journey of the Buddha’s life, either in Pali or English, if you can share it with me.

I apologize if my grammar and diction are not quite right.

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Majjhima Nikaya 36 includes an account of the Buddha’s life up to awakening. There are other suttas such as Majjhima Nikaya 19 which deal with the methods he used to attain awakening.

You probably mean MN26?

I recently read the biography by Ven. S. Dhammika called ‘Footprints in the Dust’ and it takes all the vignettes from the early suttas and bases the biography on this. Quite a down to earth biography.

You can download it here:

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There are several traditional biographies of the Buddha, all written few hundred years after His passing, all taking up materials in the Tipitaka and oral tradition and legendary tales.

They were written by people from different sects.

  1. Lalitavistara Sutra
  2. Abhiniskramana Sutra
  3. Nidanakatha, commentary of Pali Jataka
  4. Buddhacarita
  5. Mahavastu

If you see different versions of Buddha life story, it is highly possible it is because they referred to different ancient biography.

You might consider “The Life of the Buddha: According to the Pāli Canon”, by Bhikkhu Ñānamoli.
Includes material from the suttas and commentaries.


Just to second this choice, it’s an excellent book. The only thing I would add is the Attadanda sutta, which gives a unique perspective on the going forth.


You can get this book for free online here:


I have carefully read this book. I cannot find any reason why the enlightened one immediately met Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta, when he entered the forest. can you give me a reference, directly from tipitaka?

I have heard that enlightened ones practice self-mortification, even going so far as to eat his own feses. is this in the tipitaka? because it is not written in this book.

The Buddha practiced some austerities before he found the path, but he never ate feces and he was clear that such austerities are “low, vulgar, ignoble” — a waste of time.

I have read in one of the other books, that after the buddha parted ways with the kanthaka and entered the forest he saw ascetics torturing themselves, he knew that was not the way to attain enlightenment. But why did he still undergo self-torture in the end before attaining enlightenment? is there any reference about this in tipitaka?

and I’m not clear why he practuce self-torture before the enlightment according to this book ‘the life of buddha written by bhikkhu nanamoli’, please explain to me

Because he wasn’t enlightened. He didn’t know what he was doing, so he tried following what others around were doing. These practices were common in the ascetic communities, and there was a large body of theory behind them.

No, that’s not in the suttas.

Only in the Apadāna, regarded by modern scholarship as a very late addition to the Tipitaka. There the Bodhisatta’s ignorance of the uselessness of self-torture is claimed to be the effect of his having spoken slightingly of a past Buddha, Kassapa.

See the translation in the first chapter of Ven. Ānandajoti’s Why the Buddha Suffered.

how about the part ‘why he directly meet the alara kalama and udaka ramaputta, the first time he enter the forest?’ according to the book of bhikkhu nanamoli? can you explain to me?

He did eat the cow dung before full awakening. On MN 12:

I ate herbs, millet, wild rice, poor rice, water lettuce, rice bran, scum from boiling rice, sesame flour, grass, or cow dung. I survived on forest roots and fruits, or eating fallen fruit.

But this is abandoned after awakening with middle path as explained on AN 3.156

And what’s the middle practice?

It’s when a mendicant generates enthusiasm, tries, makes an effort, exerts the mind, and strives so that bad, unskillful qualities don’t arise.

They generate enthusiasm, try, make an effort, exert the mind, and strive so that bad, unskillful qualities that have arisen are given up.

They generate enthusiasm, try, make an effort, exert the mind, and strive so that skillful qualities arise.

They generate enthusiasm, try, make an effort, exert the mind, and strive so that skillful qualities that have arisen remain, are not lost, but increase, mature, and are completed by development. …

Thanks for your explanation and sharing, it’s really helpful @Joe.C @Mumfie @Snowbird @sujato @Khemarato.bhikkhu @Jasudho @prajnadeva @Danny @paul1


I’m not sure where you are getting the exact timeline from. I don’t think any of the suttas or stories indicate that he walked past his first tree in the forest and bumped into Alara Kalama. They were just the first people he worked with that were recorded.

Even taking into account the fact that some parts of the Buddha’s biography is found in the suttas and other parts are only found in commentaries, it’s important that we don’t expect every detail of his life to be recorded. That’s just not how things work. Even if you were to tell the story of your own life, you wouldn’t give a minute by minute account. You tell the important parts. Just because you don’t record anything between the important parts doesn’t mean that no time passed in the interval.

ok, I get it, you make me clear. then, Is it written in the Tipitaka why did he look for Alara Kalama and Udakka Ramaputta, not other ascetics?

They had good reputations as being meditation masters. Even after his enlightenment, the Buddha first thought to teach them, such was his respect for their spiritual abilities.