Previous studies on the seven past Buddhas (SPB) deal mainly with Dighanikaya. 14, Samyuttanikaya. 12.65, Dhammapada. 183 etc. In this article an effort has been made to assume the process of establishment of the concept of SPB, solely based on the verse texts of the Pali Nikaya and their corresponding canonical texts.
The ‘concept of the SPB’ has been divided here into two phases: one concerns the Buddhas before Sakyamuni, and another concerns the concept of seven Buddhas with Sakyamuni as the seventh one.
In the Sagathavagga of the Samyuttanikaya, terms like ‘atita sambuddha’ can be found expressing a plural form. This plural form was used for buddha as a common noun. Later, because of the problem of meter, few terms remained in plural form even after the singular form was used for the Buddha as a proper noun.
The example of addressing Sakyamuni as ‘isisattama’ can be found only in the Varngisasutta. In the beginning, most probably it was understood as ‘the best 〈-tama〉 ’. But, influenced by the verses describing the past Buddhas, it came to be interpreted as ‘seventh 〈sattama〉’.
It can be assumed that except Kassapa Buddha and Sikhin Buddha of the Sagathavagga, the other Buddhas were first put into a group of past Buddhas and then a story was related to each.