The following text originates in Maharatnakuta-sutra, an excerpt from the legend of Magician Bhadra's attainment of buddhahood. It holds interest in a number of ways, perhaps the most intriguing the highly superlative description of the Buddha's powers. The description is particularly fascinating in the light of the fact that neither the Buddha nor his followers ever declared him to be anything equivalent to a creator-god or other cosmic godheads or avatars, but rather depicted him as a man who worked his way up the cosmic ladder over eons and eons of time.
Extracted from Garma C.C. Chang's translation under the title "A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras", Motilal Banarsidass, 1991 (online). Subheadings mine. In contrast to the Pali scriptures, the Mahayana canon is decidedly more juicy and abundant in its descriptions of the Buddha, even if it causes the scene of the narratives to switch from a more history-flavored one into a world of magic and mysteries.
aṇor aṇīyān mahato mahīyān
ātmāsya jantor nihito guhāyām /
tama-kratuḥ paśyati vīta-śoko
tama-kratuḥ paśyati vīta-śoko
dhātu-prasādān mahimānam ātman //
"Smaller than the smallest, greater than the greatest,The anatman-doctrine (teaching of no permanent self) of the Buddhists notwithstanding, the narration that follows is almost a perfect commentary as if it were on this classic aphorism of Katha-upanishad (2.20), an early philosophical work seminal to the teachings of later Hindu philosophers. The exposition of ten cosmic wind wheels reflects the elemental principles of derivative causation found in both Buddhist and Taoist schools of metaphysical and analytical thought.
the self is hidden in the creature's heart.
Crosser of darkness, conqueror of pleasure and pain,
In elemental tranquility, he perceives the majesty of the self."
Powers of the Tathagata
When the magician saw that the World-Honored One had accepted his invitation, he thought, "Gautama does not know my intention; he is definitely not an All-Knowing One." Then he bowed and took his leave.
The Venerable Maudgalyayana was in the asembly at that time and saw what had happened. He approached the Buddha and said to him, "Bhadra intends to deceive the Tathagata and the monks. May the World-Honored One decline his invitation!"
The Buddha told Maudgalyayana, "Do not think in this way. Only those who have desire, hatred, and ignorance can be deceived, but I eradicated those defilements long ago, for I realized that not a single dharma ever arises. I have been firmly abiding in right action for many kalpas. How can anyone deceive me?
"Now, you should know that the magician does not perform real magic, but the Tathagata does. Why? Because the Tathagata realizes here and now that all dharmas are illusory. Even if all the sentient beings were as skilled in magic as Bhadra, all their magical powers combined could not compare with those of the Tathagata, even if their powers were multiplied by a hundred, a thousand, or any amount, numerical or figurative."
Producing Billion-world Universes
The Buddha asked Maudgalyayana, "What do you think? Can the magician magically produce a billion-world universe and magnificently adorn all of it?"
Maudgalyayana answered, "No."
The Buddha said, "Maudgalyayana, you should know that I can magically produce magnificently adorned worlds, as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, inside a hair's tip, and even this does not exhaust the Tathagata's miraculous powers.
The Great Cosmic Wind Wheels
"Maudgalyayana, you should know that there is a great wind-wheel called Breaker that can break a billion-world universe to pieces.
"There is another wind wheel called Great Hurricane that can ruin worlds and then rebuild them.
"There is another wind wheel called Propeller that can revolve worlds.
"There is another wind wheel called Secure Abiding that can blow as high as the Akanistha Heaven.
"There is another wind wheel called Scatterer that can whirl away and scatter Mount Sumeru, the Black Mountain, and other mountains.
"There is another wind wheel called Fierce Flame that can blow fierce flames up to the Brahma Heaven during the raging conflagration at the end of a kalpa.
"There is another wind wheel called Quencher that can quench the raging conflagration at the end of a kalpa.
"There is another wind wheel called Cool that can cause a cloud to cover a billion-world universe.
"There is another wind wheel called Universal Downpour that can pour down heavy rains on the worlds during the raging conflagration at the end of a kalpa.
"There is another wind wheel called Drying Up that can dry up the spreading flood at the end of a kalpa. There are so many wind wheels that I could not finish enumerating them even if I spoke until the end of this kalpa. All this, Maudgalyayana, you should know.
Conquering the Great Wind Wheels
"What do you think? Can the magician dwell securely in any of these wind wheels for a moment?"
Maudgalyayana answered, "No."
The Buddha told Maudgalyayana: "The Tathagata can walk, stand, sit, and lie undisturbed in the wind wheels. The Tathagata can also put those wind wheels into a mustard seed and display their motions without the mustard seed either expanding or contracting, and without the wind wheels in the seed obstructing each other. Maudgalyayana, you should know that the feats of magic accomplished by the Tathagata have no limit."
When the Venerable Maudgalyayana and the assembly heard the Tathagata's words, they were all overwhelmed by wonder and awe. They all bowed down before the Buddha and exclaimed in unison, "Because we have now met the great Teacher who has these awe-inspiring miraculous powers, we are greatly blessed. One who has the opportunity to hear of the wonderful miraculous powers of the Tathagata, the World-Honored One, and generates profound faith and understanding will certainly gain great blessings adn bring forth a vow to attain supreme enlightenment."