Is the Earth as Witness of Buddha's Enlightenment Canonical?

Dear Dhamma friends,

again my memory is failing me: Is the earth as witness of Buddha’s enlightenment canonical? Do you know sutta references, or is the story post-canonical?


It’s later, but as early as Gandhara due to sculptures there of that story.

Consider MN 36; likely an early account, and no temptations by Mara at all.

It’s post-canonical, the Pali version being found in the Nidānakathā, which is the introductory part of the Jātaka Atthakathā.

And he said to Māra, standing there before him: “Māra, who is witness that thou hast given alms?”
And Māra stretched forth his hand to the hosts of his followers, and said: “So many are my witnesses.”
And that moment there arose a shout as the sound of an earthquake from the company of Māra, saying, “I am his witness! I am his witness!”

Then the Tempter addressed the Great Man, and said: “Siddhattha! Who is witness that thou hast given alms?”

And the Great Man answered: “Thou hast living witnesses that thou hast given alms, and I have in this place no living witness at all. But not counting the alms I have given in other births, let this great and solid earth, unconscious though it be, be witness of the seven-hundredfold great alms I gave when I was born as Vessantara!”

Cīvaragabbhantarato dakkhiṇahatthaṃ abhinīharitvā “Vessantarattabhāve ṭhatvā mayhaṃ sattasatakamahādānassa dinnabhāve tvaṃ sakkhī na sakkhī” ti mahāpathavi-abhimukhaṃ hatthaṃ pasāresi.
And withdrawing his right hand from beneath his robe, he stretched it forth towards the earth, and said: “Art thou, or art thou not, witness of the seven-hundredfold great gift I gave in my birth as Vessantara?”

Mahāpathavī “ahaṃ te tadā sakkhī” ti viravasatena viravasahassena viravasatasahassena mārabalaṃ avattharamānā viya unnadi.
And the great Earth uttered a voice, saying: “I am witness to thee of that!” overwhelming as it were the hosts of Māra as with the shout of hundreds of thousands of foes.

Then the mighty elephant “Mount-girded” as he realized what the generosity of Vessantara had been, said: “The great gift, the uttermost gift was given by thee, Siddhattha!” And he fell down on his knees before the great man. And the company of Māra fled this way and that way, so that not even two were left together: throwing off their clothes and their turbans, they fled, each one straight on before him.
(Jāt-a. i. 74).

T. W. Rhys Davids’ translation of it is available from

The Story of the Lineage


Thanks so much bhante! It’s one of the things I could have sworn I read in a sutta…

The closest I got from a sutta was AN 8.70

Again, when the Tathāgata awakens to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment, this earth shakes, shudders, and trembles. This is the fifth cause and condition for a powerful earthquake.