INTRODUCTION TO THE MAHA-SAMAYA SUTTANTA

 

The method followed in this poem is nearly the same as in the two previous Suttantas, only here it is rather the minor gods, — the local deities, the personification of natural phenomena, guardian spirits, fairies, harpies, naiads, dryads, and many others — who are represented as themselves proclaiming their adherence to the new movement. Important gods are indeed incidentally mentioned ; and it is perhaps not without intention that great and small are here thrown together, as if Soma and Varuna and Brahma were really all of the same kind as the long list of spirits and fairies in which they appear 1.

 

The poem is almost unreadable now. The long list of strange names awakes no interest. And it is somewhat pathetic to notice the hopeless struggle of the author to enliven his unmanageable material with a little poetry. It remains, save here and there, only doggrel still.

 

There are three parts to the poem. The first is the list of gods ; the second the frame-work, put into the Buddha's mouth, at the beginning (after the prologue), and at the end ; the third the prologue, with the verses of the four gods of the Pure Abode. The prologue has been preserved as a separate episode in the Sa;«yutta, I, 27. The way in which the list is fitted into the frame-work in our sections 4, 5, and 6 is very confused and awkward ; and the grammar of the frame-work is inconsistent with the grammar of the list. It is highly probable therefore that the list itself, and also the epilogue, had been handed down as independent works in the community before our Suttanta was composed. The frame-work may be the work of the editor.

 

Our list here begins in §§ 7, 8, with seven classes or groups of gods, without personal names. The personal names begin at § 9, with the four Great Kings of the four quarters ; and

 

1 So above, Vol. I, p. 1 7, the worship of Agni is deliberately inserted in a list of animistic hocus-pocus.

 

§§ 10-20 follow with ten other groups in each of which the principal personal names are given. There is another list of gods in the Atanatiya (No. 32 in the Digha). This other list also begins with the four Great Kings ; and then adds, as a sort of afterthought or appendix, the names of forty-one gods, all mentioned one after another, without division into groups, and without any details. Our §§ 10-20 look very much like an improved and enlarged edition of the bare list in the Atanatiya. The latter is just such a mnemonic doggrel as was found useful in other cases also by the early Buddhists, who had no books, and were compelled to carry their dictionaries and works of reference in their heads. There are other instances in Pali literature of the original mnemonic verses, and their subsequent expansion, having both been preserved.

 

As the contents of the two lists, and their great importance for the history of religion in India, have been discussed else- where 1 it is only necessary here to remind the reader that when these Suttantas were composed the names they contain were full of meaning to the people ; and that the legends here told were intended to counteract the animistic delusions about them then so prevalent in the Ganges valley. They are almost the only evidence we have as yet outside the priestly books. Perhaps the most important fact to which they bear testimony is the continual change in animistic belief that went on in India. They are of especial value, as they show what those beliefs were at a particular period. We shall not be able to have a scientific history of religion in India until the absurd anachronisms of the classical Sanskrit literature have been discarded ; and until we have learnt carefully to distinguish between the divers faiths and gods which, in those books, are mixed up together, and supposed to have remained the same for many centuries on end.

 

1 Rhys Davids's 'Buddhist India/ pp. 219-237.

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MAHA-SAMAYA SUTTANTA

 

The Great Concourse

 

1. [253] 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, [254] 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 : —

 

' 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.'

 

[255] Then the other god recited to the Exalted

 

One this verse : —

 

' Who in the Buddha refuge take, they shall not go to woeful doom.

 

Then 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,

 

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

 

Like to so many lions crouching still,

Are vanquishers over the creeping dread,

White-minded, pure, serene and undefiled.

 

[256] Seeing within Kapilavatthu's grove

Five hundred such and more, disciples all,

To them who loved his word the Master spoke :

" Celestial hosts draw nio-h !

Look to it, brethren, that ye them discern ! "

And they, hearing the Buddha's word, forthwith

Strove ardently to see. 1

 

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 throngfino- 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 2 ,

 

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

 

1 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 the Colombo Sannaya of 1 89 1 . 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 fiatva in line 5 to the Buddha.

 

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

 

nd 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. [257] 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.

 

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

[258] 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, Viru/haka, 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, Vetendu, Vitu,

 

Vitucca, Candana, Ramasettha too,

Kinnughandu, Nighandu (nine in all).

Next, these Gandhabba chieftains all are come : —

Panada, Opamanfia 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,

 

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 1 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. [259] —

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, A suras,

Vasava's brethren, they of wondrous gifts

And splendid train 2 : — The Kalakanjas all

Of fearsome shape, the Danaveghasas,

Sucitti, Vepacitti, and Paharada —

 

With them came Namuci, spirit of Evil ;

And Bali's hundred sons, all of them named

After Veroca 3 , 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

 

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

 

2 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.

 

3 That is, their uncle Rahu.

 

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 1 ; 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 ; [260] Lord of the Vasus, too,

God Sakka, Generous One of yore 2 : —

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 Varuwa 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

 

1 The Castor and Pollux of Indian mythology.

 

2 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.

 

Debauched-by-sport x are come and those

Debauched-

In-mind 2 , 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, Arufta, 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. [261] The Khemiyas and gods from Tusita

And Yama heav'ns, the Kanakas 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 2 .

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,

 

1 On these described in the Brahmajala Suttanta, see Dialogues I, 3 2 > 33-

 

2 Nimmanarati, Paranimmita[vasavatti].

 

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 1

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 2 ,

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 3 .

 

1 In this word-play, Nago means also N'agu, not having sin, says the Cy. : — agum akarawato. So the gods, too, make bad puns! — untranslateable ones, alas.

 

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

 

3 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 Sanaw-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. Buddha- ghosa explains ' the Potent One ' (i d d h i m a) 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 i d d h i. 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 ' Vishwu Purawa,' 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). Alater 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, ' Ausgewahlte Erzahlun- gen in Maharashri,' pp. 20-28, translated by de Blonay in 'Rev. de l'H. des Rel.,' 1895, pp. 29-41).

 

21. To all of them thus hither come, those eods,

Marshalled around the Lord and Great Brahma,

The host of Mara cometh up. Lo ! now

 

The folly of the Murky One 1 :— [262] " 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 2 ,

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 3 ."

 

1 Kanho, for Mara. Cf. Kali, the Black Woman.

 

 

2 Mara is called Ma ha-se no, his army being of course sen a. The

Pali, making no distinction between syena (hawk) and sena, it is not impossible that a pun is here intended.

 

3 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.