Digha Nikaya


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Sacred Books of the Buddhists
Volume III

Digha Nikaya

Dialogues of the Buddha
Part II

Sutta 20

Maha-Samaya Suttantam

The Great Concourse

Translated from the Pali by T.W. Rhys Davids

Public Domain

Originally published under the patronage of
His Majesty King Chulalankarana,
King of Siam
by The Pali Text Society, Oxford

 


 

[1][than] Thus have I heard.

The Blessed One was once dwelling among the Sakiyas,
at Kapilavatthu in the Great Wood,
together with a great band of the brethren,
about five hundred of them,
all being Arahants.

And gods from the ten thousand world-systems
oft-times assembled there
that they might visit the Exalted One
and the band of brethren.

2. Now to four gods of the hosts of the Pure Abodes
this thought occurred:

'That Blessed One is now dwelling among the Sakiyas, at Kapilavatthu in the Great Wood,
together with a great band of the brethren,
about five hundred of them,
all being Arahants.

And gods from the ten thousand world-systems
oft-times are assembling there
to see the Exalted One and his band of brethren.

What if we, too,
were to go into his presence,
and before him
were to recite each of us a poem?'

3. Then those gods,
as easily as a strong man might stretch out his arm,
or draw back his out-stretched arm,
vanished from the Pure Abodes,
and appeared before the Exalted One.

There they saluted him
and stood on one side.

And so standing
one of the gods recited to the Blessed One
this verse:

'Great is the gathering in the glade!
The hosts of heaven together met!
We too are come unto this congress blest,
and fain would see
The Company Invincible.'

Then another god recited to the Exalted One this verse:

[285] The brethren there, wrought up to concentration rapt,
make straight their hearts.
Wisely, as driver keeping grip on rein,
their faculties they guard.'

Then another god recited to the Exalted One this verse:

'All bars and bolts are hewn in twain for them,
The threshold is dug up.[1]
In purity, their way they go,
Stainless, with vision clear,
like well-tamed elephants.'

Then the other god recited to the Exalted One this verse:

'Who in the Buddha refuge take,
they shall not go to woeful doom.
When they put off this human frame they shall fill up the hosts in heaven.'

4. Then said the Exalted One to the brethren:

'Oft-times, brethren,
do gods from the ten world-systems
foregather to see the Tathagata
and the company of the Brethren.

Whosoever, brethren,
in the past
were Arahant Buddhas supreme,
upon them waited a like number of the heavenly hosts,
and a like number shall wait upon whosoever shall,
in the future,
be Arahant Buddhas supreme.

I will detail to you, brethren,
the names of the hosts of gods,
I will publish abroad, brethren,
their names,
I will teach you, brethren,
their names.

Hearken hereunto
and pay heed,
and I will speak.'

'Even so, lord,'
responded the brethren.

And the Exalted One spake thus:

5. 'In measured speech I will give utterance: -
Where'er their realm, there will ye find the gods,
But they who in the bowels of the hills
Sit with heart throughly purged and well composed, [286]
Like to so many lions crouching still,
Are vanquishers over the creeping dread,
White-minded, pure, serene and undefiled.

Seeing within Kapilavatthu's grove
Five hundred such and more, disciples all,
To them who loved his word the Master spoke:
"Celestial hosts draw nigh!
Look to it, brethren, that ye them discern!"
And they, hearing the Buddha's word, forthwith
Strove ardently to see.[2]

6. And lo! in them
Arose vision of those not born of men.
Some saw one hundred gods, ten hundred, some,
And some saw seventy thousand, others saw
Infinite multitudes thronging around.
And all their sight and seeing He Who Sees
Intuitively marked and understood.

Then to his followers who loved his Word
The Master turned and spoke: - "Celestial hosts
Draw near! Them do ye, brethren, recognize
As I, in rhythmic speech, each in their turn
Proclaim them unto you in order due:-"

7. Seven thousand Yakkhas of our country's soil
Of wondrous gifts and powers exceeding great,
And comeliness, and splendid following,[3]
Are come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

Six thousand Yakkhas from Himalaya,
Diverse in hue, of wondrous gifts and powers
[287] And comeliness and splendid following,
Are come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

From Sata's Hill three thousand Yakkhas more,
Diverse in hue, of wondrous gifts and powers
And comeliness, with splendid following,
Have come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

Thus have I sixteen thousand Yakkhas told,
Of diverse hue, of wondrous gifts and powers
And comeliness, and splendid following,
Who come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

8. Five hundred more from Vessamitta's host,
Of diverse hue, of wondrous gifts and powers
And comeliness and splendid following,
Have come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

Kumbhira, too, of Rajagaha town,
Having his dwelling on Vepulla's mount,
More than a hundred thousand in his train,
This Yakkha likewise to the wood is come.

9. King Dhatarattha rules the Eastern clime,
Lord of Gandhabbas, mighty monarch he,
With splendid following. Sons has he too,
Many and strong, all after Indra named.
And these of wondrous gifts and mighty power
And comeliness and splendid following,
Have come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

Virulha, ruler of the Southern clime,
Lord of Kumbandas, mighty monarch he,
With splendid following. Sons has he too,
Many and strong, all after Indra named.
And these of wondrous gifts and mighty power
And comeliness and splendid following,
Have come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

[288] Virupakkha rules o'er the Western clime,
Lord of the Nagas, mighty monarch he,
With splendid following. Sons has he too,
Many and strong, all after Indra named.
And these, of wondrous gifts and mighty power
And comeliness and splendid following,
Have come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

Kuvera rules over the Northern clime,
Lord of the Yakkhas, mighty monarch he,
With splendid following. Sons has he too,
Many and strong, all after Indra named.
And these, of wondrous gifts and mighty power
And comeliness and splendid following,
Have come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

So stood those four great kings within the wood
Of Kapilavatthu, on the four climes
Shedding effulgent radiance round about:
Over the East King Dhatarattha shone,
To right, Virulhaka, westward
Virupakkha, Kuvera o'er the North.

10. With them are come their vassals versed in craft,
Hoodwinking wizards, apt to cloak and feign: -
Maya, Kutendu, Vtendu, Vitu,
Vitucca, Candana, Ramasettha too,
Kinnughandu, Nighandu
(nine in all).
Next, these Gandhabba chieftains all are come: -
Panada, Opamanna too, and Matali
The driver of the gods, Cittasena
The Gandhabba, Nala, Janesabha,
Pancasikha and Suriyavaccasa,
Daughter of Timbaru. These princes all
And with them other chiefs, Gandhabbas too,
Are come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

11. Now too Nagas are come from Nabhasa,
And from Vesali and from Tacchaka,
[289] Kambalas, Assataras, Payagas
With all their kin. Nagas from Yamuna,
And Dhatarattha, too, with brilliant trains,
Eravana, great among Naga folk,
He too is come into the forest glade.

They who twice-born,[4] winged and keen
Of sight, the heavenly Harpies who,
With violence prey on Naga chiefs, -
Gaudy and Well-winged are their names -
Have flown into the wood. -
The cobra kings felt quite secure.
A refuge from the dreadful birds
Buddha had made. With gentle words
Entreating one another they,
The Harpies and their prey alike
To the Buddha as their Sanctuary come.

12. They whom the Lightning-Hand did smite,
Now dwellers in the ocean, Asuras,
Vasava's brethren, they of wondrous gifts
And splendid train[5]; - The Kalakanjas all
Of fearsome shape, the Danaveghasas,
Sucitti, Vepacitti, and Paharada -
With them came Namuca, spirit of Evil;
And Bali's hundred sons, all of them named
After Veroca,[6] having armed a host
Of warriors, hied them to their noble liege,
And Rahu said, " Good luck attend this mote
For which the brethren now have sought the wood!"

13. The gods of Fire and Water, Earth and Air
Are hither come; celestial Varunas
[290] With their attendant Varuneian sprites,
And Soma with Yaso. Come, too, the gods
From Love and Pity born, with splendid train.
These ten, a tenfold host in all, of hue
Diverse, of wondrous gifts and mighty power,
And comeliness, with splendid following,
Are come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

14. Come Vishnu with his gods, the Sahalis,
The Asamas and the Yama twins;[7] the elves
That dwell within the moon attend the Moon,
The solar fairies too attend the Sun,
While fragile spirits of the Clouds attend
The Constellations; Lord of the Vasus, too,
God Sakka, Generous One of yore:[8] -
These ten, a tenfold host in all, of hue
Diverse, of wondrous gifts and mighty powers,
And comeliness, with splendid following,
Are come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

15. Now too are come the fairies Sahabhu,
In flaming radiance like crests of fire: -
The Aritthakas, Rojas, like azure flowers,
With Varuna and eke Sahadhamma,
And Accuta is come, Anejaka
And Suleyya and Rucira are come,
Come too Vasavanesi deities.
These ten, a tenfold host in all, of hue
Diverse, of wondrous gifts and mighty powers,
And comeliness, with splendid following,
Are come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

16. Samanas, Great Samanas, sprites like men
And sprites like Supermen, are come, the gods
[291] Debauched-by-sport[9] are come and those Debauched -
In-mind,[10] fairies that haunt the Green and they
That wear the Red, they too that Pass-Over,
And the Great Passers-o'er, with splendid following.
These ten, a tenfold host in all, of hue
Diverse, of wondrous gifts and mighty powers,
And comeliness, with splendid following,
Are come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

17. Sukka, Aruna, Karumha fairies too,
With Veghanasas, having at their head
Th'Odatagayhas, come; Vicakkhanas,
Sadamattas, Haragajas, and they
Called the Mixed gods with splendid following;
Pajunna thundering is come, he who
Pours down the rains upon the quarters four.
These ten, a tenfold host in all, of hue
Diverse, of wondrous gifts and mighty powers,
And comeliness, with splendid following,
Are come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

18. The Khemiyas and gods from Tusita
And Yama heav'ns, the Katthakas and suite,
Lambitakas and the chief Lama-gods,
The Fiery spirits, and the Asavas,
They who rejoice in shapes they make themselves,
And they who use creations not their own.[10]
These ten, a tenfold host in all, of hue
Diverse, of wondrous gifts and mighty powers,
And comeliness, with splendid following,
Are come rejoicing to the forest glade
To see the brethren met together there.

19. These sixty spirit hosts, of divers hues,
According to their name and class are come,
[292] And with them others, whosoe'er they be,
Saying "Him who has outlived birth, for whom
No barrier stands, for whom the flood is crossed,
The Asavas are not, Him shall we see,
Ferry-man o'er the flood, mighty through purity,[11]
Moon that has passed beyond th'enshrouding dark."

20. Then Tissa, the Eternal Youth, and with
Him Paramatta and Subrahma, sons
Of the Potent One, came to the congress-wood.
Great Brahma, suzerain of thousand worlds
In Brahma-heaven, has thither been reborn,[12]
Mighty in power, and in shape awesome
And vast, of great renown. Ten of his lords,
Each regnant o'er a Brahma-world, are come,
And in their midst with all his suite comes Harita.[13]

[293] 21. To all of them thus hither come, those gods,
Marshalled around the Lord and Great Brahma,
The host of Mara cometh up. Lo! now
The folly of the Murky One:[14] - "Come on
And seize and bind me these, let all be bound
By lust! Surround on every side, and see
Ye let not one escape, whoe'er he be!"
Thus the Great Captain bade his swarthy host,[15] And with his palm did smite upon the ground
Making a horrid din, as when a storm-cloud
Thunders and lightens, big with heavy rains.
Then he recoiled, still raging, powerless
Aught to effect.

22. And He-Who-Sees by insight knew all this
And understood. Then to his followers
Who loved his word the Master spake: "The host
Of Mara comes! Brethren, beware of them!
"And they, hearing the Buddha's word, forthwith
Held themselves all alert. The foe departs
From them in whom no lust is found, nor e'er
Upon whose bodies stirs a hair.

[Then Mara spake:-]

"All they, those victors in the fight, for whom
All fear is past, great of renown, His followers,
Whose fame among the folk spreads far and wide,
Lo! now with all creation they rejoice."'[16]

 


[1] 'The bars and bolts and hindering threshold stone of lust, ill-will and stupidity,' explains Buddhaghosa.

[2] The connexion of the various clauses of this stanza is obscure; and the interpretations of the native scholars differ. We have followed the version of lhe Colombo Sannaya of 1891. Samarasekhara's translation (Col. 1905) takes the assita in line 1 to refer to the Arahants. Buddhaghosa's commentary may be understood either way. All agree in referring natva in line 5 to the Buddha.

[3] Yassassino, glossed here by Buddhaghosa as parivarasam-panna, and later, in this Suttanta, by yasena samannagata.

[4] All birds are twice-born, first from the mother's womb (when she lays the egg), and then from the egg itself.

[5] These are all born of Suja, Vasava's mother, and had been driven out of heaven by 'Him-with-the-thunderbolt-in-his-hand.' The latter had been identified, at the time when this poem was composed, with Sakka.

[6] That is, their uncle Rahu.

[7] The Castor and Pollux of Indian mythology.

[8] This seems to come in here most strangely: but it is an epithet of Sakka expressly designed to distinguish him from Indra, the Vedic god, whose epithet was 'Destroyer of Towns,' see p. 297.

[9] On these described in the Brahmajala Suttanta, see Dialogues I, 32, 33.

[10] Nimmanarati, Paranimmita[vasavatti].

[11] In this word-play, Nago means also N'agu, not having sin, says the Cy.: - agim akaranato. So the gods, too, make bad puns! - untranslateable ones, alas.

[12] Upapanno. Note the Buddhist care to bring even 'Great Brahma' under the universal Law, 'rem inexorabilem.'

[13] The inter-dependence of the clauses, and also of the names, in this stanza, is ambiguous. It may hereafter become clear that the author (or authoress) thought of Tissa and the Eternal Youth as two distinct persons, or of the Eternal Youth and the Great Brahma of the Buddha's time as one. The grammar is against the first of these suppositions. But we have seen (above, p. 272, 3) that the Maha-Brahma of Govinda's time was Sanm-kumara, the Eternal Youth (so also D. I, 200 compared with D. II, 209, 225); and Tissa according to tradition (Smp. p. 296, 7) was the name of a Maha-Brahma. Buddhaghosa explains 'the Potent One' (iddhi ma) as the Buddha; it is much more likely to have been intended for Brahma, who claims (above, p. 247) to have acquired the potency of iddhi.
This legend of the Ever-virgin Knight, Sanam-kumara, is the Indian counterpart of the European legend of Sir Galahad. The oldest mention of it is in the Chandogya Upanished (Ch. VII), where the ideal of the saintly knight teaches a typical brahmin about the highest truth (compare Deussen's note on p. 171 of 'Sechzig Upanishads'). In the Nikayas the Eternal Youth is frequently quoted as the author of a famous verse which says that, though the knight takes precedence among all those that trust in lineage, he that is perfect in wisdom takes precedence over all (see above, I, 121, and M. I, 358; S. I, 153; A. V, 326. At S. II, 284 the verse is ascribed to the Buddha). A similar sentiment is ascribed to him in the Great Bharata. In mediaeval literature he is said to have been one of five or seven mind-born sons of Brahma, like the Sons of the Potent One in our verse. (For the five see the references in Wilson's 'Vishnu Purana,' I, 38; for the seven those in Garbe's 'SAmkhya-philosophie,' p. 35). Buddhaghosa has a similar tale (quoted J.R.A.S., 1894, p. 344). A later and debased Jain version of the legend tells us at length of the love adventures and wives of the chaste knight, with a few words at the end on his conversion to the saintly life (Jacobi, 'Ausgewählte Erzählungen in Maharashtri pp. 20-28, translated by de Blonay in 'Rev. de l'H. des Rel.,' 1895, pp. 29-41).

[14] Kanho, for Mara. Cf. Kali, the Black Woman.

[15] Mara is called Maha-seno, his army being of course sena. The Pali, making no distinction between syena (hawk) and sena, it is not impossible that a pun is here intended.

[16] We have followed the traditional interpretation in ascribing these last four lines to Mara. They may quite as well, or better, be a statement by the author himself.


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