Buddha's life: Thai animated movie and its Little Errors

Dear friends,
this post will probably need a lot of editing, but the note is sitting on my Desktop and I feel it’s better if I publish it as is than keep it in secret. So, please, excuse the imperfections and the hilarious incompleteness of this post.

Buddha’s Life - Thai production animated film about the life of the Buddha: The Differences between the Film and the Pāḷi Tipiṭaka Scriptures

There are many movies and documentaries about the Buddha’s life, but one in particular made me very happy. It is made by Thais, dubbed into English, and you can watch it for free in YouTube -

It takes around 5 hours and the animation tries to be as realistic as possible.

Now as much as it tries to be perfect in accordance with the Pāḷi Commentaries, there are quite a few things that I spotted there not exactly right. Many of the things there I personally don’t know, so some of the points in my list may be wrong.

It would be great if an admin or a moderator can make this post into a publicly editable version, so that you all can contribute to my efforts. The aim is to provide a list of the things that are not accurate in the movie and thus later, if anyone watches the movie and wants to know accurately what is in the scriptures, they can use this list as a reference for correction of the details. The beginning part of the list may need exact minutes and seconds - please, watch the movie, enjoy nice graphics and help increase the movie’s accuracy by editing this list. :sun_with_face:

Anything ambiguous that could be interpreted as correct somehow, is not mentioned here.

Pāḷi pronunciation is sometimes inaccurate: e.g. pañcavaggiyā is read as pankavaggiyā instead of the correct pañchavaggiyā, Mucalinda is read as Mukalinda instead of Muchalinda, dukkhaṃ is read as dakhaṃ instead of du-khaṃ; sometimes spelling is not accurate when it comes to the length of vowels, e.g., Upālī instead of the correct Upāli

  • ! Asita bows to the baby Siddhattha who is lying in a cradle (should be touched by the princes feet)
  • ! Prince Siddhattha under the tree (older than one month) sends his caretakers to watch the plowing ceremony (the ladies went away on their own; the prince according to Jinālaṅkāraṭīkā was one month old, no mention of him being older in any Pāḷi texts)
  • ? Teacher of prince Siddhattha - Visavāmitta (?) taught him, the prince trained in 18 arts and sciences until he was adept. (reference in the Pāḷi scriptures needed, probably not existent)
  • (?) the archery skills the prince performed to get Yasodhara are not mentioned at all
  • ! The animation of Kanthaka’s rebirth as a god implies gandhabba, interim life
  • ! The five friends ascetics went forth after the prince Siddhattha (but in fact they went forth short time after his birth and waited for him)
  • (?) Five dreams are only interpreted, the dreamt imagery is not shown or mentioned
  • (?) offering of meal from Sujātā is awkwardly portrayed because the Thai custom of using cloth/tray is not applicable
  • ! the Buddha-to-be ate the meal from Sujātā from a golden tray and then sent the tray upstream in a river (I think he ate his meal from a jade bowl and sent his jade bowl upstream)
  • (*) The transformation of the meditation seat under the Bodhi tree is right; I just think it must have been much less comfortable than the grass
  • ! The ridding of Māra through Dhāranī goddess of earth (who appeared without the Buddha’s calling) by the flood of poured water in shared merit, Māra and his army are swept away by the flood (in fact, the Buddha touched the
  • earth and earth shooked, Māra then ran away with his troops, his lute fell on the ground - then Sakka’s assistant Pañcasikha took it)
  • ! Pubbenivāsānussatiñāna is mentioned as an insight knowledge (it is an absorption-based knowledge)
  • ! The Buddha standing and gazing at the Bodhi tree for 7 days (I think he was sitting)
  • ! one of Māra’s daughters tries to touch the Buddha and experiences immediate pain (is that in any scripture?)
  • ! the animation of the Mara’s daughters Taṇhā, Aratī, Rāgā where their faces are destroyed through the Buddha’s magical power (their faces seem undesirable to the Buddha, but that doesn’t mean they are deformed for the deities)
  • ! the animation of the Mara’s daughters perishing (they just leave, not perish)
  • (?) Muchalinda is a seven-headed dragon (any Pali reference for this?)
  • ! The Buddha seems to be resolved to teach Dhamma on His own (they omitted the mention of Brahma Sahampati coming and requesting the Buddha to teach, after the Buddha’s “thought” that people bound by lust and hatred cannot understand the Dhamma)
  • (?) The story of the Buddha meeting Upaka soon after His Enlightenment is not mentioned at all
  • (?) In 2:13 of the video, when the Buddha visits Kapilavatthu and meets with his father Suddhodana for the first time since his Great Departure, the king recollects the times he paid respect to the prince Siddhattha. There is a mention that the second bowing, when the prince meditated under a roseapple tree during a plowing ceremony, happened when the Buddha-to-be was 7 years old. A Burmese scripture of Jinālaṅkāra suggests that the Buddha-to-be was 1 month old. Where is this information of 7 years age mentioned in the Pāḷi text?
  • (!) The Buddha calls the king Suddhodana “father” (I think He called him
  • (!) In 2:48 The request of Devadatta from the Buddha to lead the Saṅgha is portrayed without respect, Devadatta not bowing to the Buddha. (However, Devadatta actually did pay respect to the Buddha when he spoke to Him.)
  • (!) In 2:48 Devadatta is shown as requesting to become the leader of the Saṅgha right now, “from now on”.
  • (!) In 2:48 Devadatta is rejected from his request to become the leader of Saṅgha by the Buddha, who says “absolutely not, Devadatta”. (The important strong words of the Buddha, that Devadatta eats the spit of lay people and would be spitted out by the Saṅgha, are missing. )
  • (!) In 2:50 Devadatta mentions that he should pretend being strict in Dhamma-Vinaya. (However, the strictness of Devadatta was genuine and not pretended.)
  • (*) 2:51 Devadatta and Buddha speak about eating / not-eating meat (however, they spoke about eating / not-eating meat and fish, the point in the video is inaccurate)
  • (!) 2:58 When Devadatta is swallowed by the earth, he says he offers his chin bone to the Buddha. {There is no such mention in the Pāḷi scriptures, up to my knowledge.)
  • (!) 03.02 King Ajātasattu visits during the light of the day the Buddha and the Buddha thinks the king cannot become Enlightened due to the patricide kamma (the visit happened at night; the Buddha told it to monks and not to Himself)
  • (!) 03.05 The Buddha and monks visit the king Suddhodana in his palace and are dressed covering only one shoulder (they certainly had covered both shoulders as they visited a lay person’s home)
  • (!) 03.24 The Buddha descends while keeping a gesture in both his hands, that may need reconsideration; there is no umbrella (parasol) above the Buddha’s head (the gods carried umbrellas above the Buddha’s head)
  • (!) 03.39 The monks go on alms-round with only one shoulder covered (should have both shoulders covered)
  • (!) 03.46 The Parileyyaka elephant dies while the monkey who also supported the Buddha in the Parileyya forest (here called Rakkhitavana) watches the dead elephant (in fact, the monkey by this time was already dead, because it died while happily jumping on the trees and then falling on the ground, after successfully donating honey comb to the Buddha)
  • (!) 3.54 Angulimala becomes a Stream-Enterer already during his first meeting with the Buddha (he is not a Stream-Enterer even when he is a monk and gives says that he never killed since he became an Ariya, which there means since he became a monk - I do not remember any more the reason why it was not possible that Angulimala was a Stream-Enterer by that time)
  • (!) 3.57 The Brahma Baka speaks with the Buddha, holding weapons and being alone with the Buddha (there was a crowd of Brahma Baka’s subjects; the Buddha does not teach Dhamma to anyone who holds a weapon - I am aware it is just a symbol)
  • (!) 3.58-59 Baka Brahma takes various forms to hide in the peek-a-boo game with the Buddha (there is no mention of Brahma Baka taking forms of animals, both the Brahma and then the Buddha just performed disappearance from sight)
  • (!) 4:02 The Buddha speaks to Baka Brahma after revealing Himself (in fact, the Buddha speaks to Baka Brahma still while invisible)

May you all be happy and healthy,
Ashin Saraṇa

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My children enjoyed it!
Thanks for pointing out all the errors, venerable. Overall at least the producers tried to follow the texts.

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Sadhu for your efforts. I’ll see if I can watch it.
If anyone has corrections to make… just add them and either Robert or myself can add them. But Robert is the English expert :slight_smile: