INTRODUCTION TO
MAHA PARITTA PALI SACRED VERSES

 

0. INTRODUCTION TO PARITTA PARIKAMMA
    Preliminary to chanting the sacred verses

1. INTRODUCTION TO MANGALA SUTTA
    Discourse on Blessings

2. INTRODUCTION TO RATANA SUTTA
    Discourse on the Precious Jewels

3. INTRODUCTION TO METTA SUTTA
    Discourse on Loving Kindness

4. INTRODUCTION TO KHANDHA SUTTA
    Discourse on Body Protection

5. INTRODUCTION TO MORA SUTTA
    Discourse on Bodhisatta as a Peacock

6. INTRODUCTION TO VATTA SUTTA
    Discourse on the Bodhisatta as a Quail

7. INTRODUCTION TO DHAJAGGA SUTTA
    Discourse on the Crest of Banner

8. INTRODUCTION TO ATANATIYA SUTTA
    Discourse on the Protection at Devine City of Atanata

9. INTRODUCTION ANGULIMALA SUTTA
    Discourse on Arahant Angulimala

10. INTRODUCTION TO BOJJHANGA SUTTA
      Discourse on the Factors of Enlightenment

11. INTRODUCTION TO PUBBANHA SUTTA
      Discourse on a Good Morning


0. INTRODUCTION TO PARITTA PARIKAMMA
    PRELIMINARY TO CHANTING THE SACRED VERSES

The deities in various universes are warmly invited to assemble here and listen to the chanting of the Paritta which leads to happiness and liberation from suffering.

According to Buddhism, celestial beings are always waiting to listen to the Buddha’s teaching. During the Buddha’s time innumerable devas attained Enlightenment after listening to the Buddha Dhamma -- actually, more heavenly beings than human beings were successful.

It is stated that when devas are present, evil spirits will not be around. They will flee to other places and have no chance to cause trouble, diseases and disasters to human beings. Then people can live happily and safely.

It is an ancient Buddhist belief that celestial deities possess great powers to grant the wishes of human beings and bless them with happiness.

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1. INTRODUCTION TO MANGALA SUTTA
    DISCOURSE ON BLESSINGS

The word "Mangala" literally means "blessing", "auspicious signs" and "good omen". However, people want to know what constitutes a "blessing" that makes life happy. This issue came to be the concern of the devas (gods) too at the heavenly plane. For twelve years they argued about it and could not come to an agreement. Some thought that "blessing" refers to what is pleasurable to the senses - things that are pleasing to the eyes, ears, nose, taste and touch. But not all of them agreed.

Then devas of Tavatimsa heaven approached Sakka, King of Devas, for a solution. He suggested that the Buddha be consulted. Consequently, in the middle of the night, a deva with his retinues, came to visit the Buddha at Jetavana monastery. He asked the Buddha for the meaning of "blessing". In response, the Buddha delivered a discourse known as Mangala Sutta in which 38 highest blessings are enumerated.

Mangla Sutta is held in high esteem by all Buddhists. It is normally chanted for blessings and prosperity. Different from the conventional ideas of blessing, these thirty eight blessings are ethical and spiritual in nature. When a person applies them to daily life he will see the rich result immediately.

This discourse is found in the Sutta-nipata, Khuddakapatha.

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2. INTRODUCTION TO RATANA SUTTA
    DISCOURSE ON THE PRECIOUS JEWELS

When the Buddha was residing at Rajagaha, three kinds of terrible disasters struck the city of Versali. The people were faced with the dangers of extreme hunger, disease and harm by evil spirits.

Then thousands of people died helplessly in the city and they were desperate for help in such a situation.

Someone suggested to invite the Buddha, the Great Compassionate One. Together with the community of monks, including Venerable Ananda the Buddha went to the city. When they arrived there, torrential rains poured down and swept away the dead bodies and other evil things.

The Buddha taught Ratana Sutta (Discourse on the Precious Jewel) to Venerable Ananda and instructed him to walk around the city and recite this protective discourse and to sprinkle holy water from alms bowl of the Lord in order to bless the whole city.

After the blessing of the city, all disasters vanished and eventually disappeared.

Thereafter the Venerable Ananda reported all that happened in the city to the Buddha, who was waiting for him at the City Hall of Vesali. There the Buddha recited the same discourse and explained the gracious value of this Paritta to His disciples who were present.

This discourse is usually defined as the glorious virtues of three Precious Jewels; namely, Buddha, Dhamma and Samgha. It is chanted to free people from dangers caused by disease, evil spirits and famine.

This Sutta is found in the Khuddaka Patha and Sutta Nipata Text.

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3. INTRODUCTION TO METTA SUTTA
    DISCOURSE ON LOVING KINDNESS

Once the Buddha was residing at Jetavana Monastery in Savatthi to spend the Rain’s retreat. Five hundred monks requested the Buddha to teach them on the subject of meditation.

After that the monks went to a distant forest, near Mt. Himavanta during the rainy season. They took shelter under huge trees as temporary residence and were engaged intensively in the practice of meditation.

By the virtuous power of the monks, the tree-deities were unable to live at the top of trees. So they were waiting for the return of their place, but they knew that the monks would continuously engage themselves in the practice of meditation without returning back to their monasteries.

At night the tree-sprits tried to frighten them by appearing in fearful forms and making frightful sounds. Consequently the monks decided that the place was not suitable for the practice of meditation.

They returned to the Buddha and informed Him about their difficulties and requested for another place for meditation. The Buddha instructed them to return to the same forest and taught them to recite the discourse on loving kindness and radiate it to all living beings.

The tree spirits were very much pleased with the monks’ recitation and requested them to stay there. From then on the monks meditated peacefully without any further disturbances. They also received the affectionate care and respect from the tree-spirits.

Finally, all the monks realized perfect emancipation and became the Worthy Ones (Arahants).

This Discourse is found in the Khuddaka-patha and Sutta-nipata and it is normally used to radiate loving kindness towards all beings so that they are well and happy.

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4. INTRODUCTION TO KHANDHA SUTTA
    DISCOURSE ON BODY PROTECTION

The discourse on the Body Protection is mentioned in the Khandha Vatta Jataka Story. According to the story, the Bodhisatta (the Future Buddha) was an ascetic in a previous life. He heard his fellow ascetics complaining about the dangers from snakes and other creatures. He therefore instructed them to recite this protective Khandha Paritta not only for protection against snakes, but also against other poisonous creatures.

According the Culavagga Vinaya Pitaka Text, this Sutta was composed by the Buddha, when a certain monk died of snake bite. The Buddha declared that this would not happen if the monks had recited the discourse and radiated loving kindness to the four dragon-kings and other poisonous creatures.

This Paritta is also used for protecting against snakes, other creatures and many kinds of dangers and disasters.

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5. INTRODUCTION TO MORA SUTTA
    DISCOURSE ON BODHISATTA AS A PEACOCK

Once when the Buddha was residing at Jetavana monastery, he delivered the Jataka Story about a golden peacock who was a Bodhisatta. He related this story to one of his disciples who had been enchanted by a woman.

At one time a golden peacock (a Bodhisatta) lived on the golden hill of Dandaka in the Himalaya mountain. In the morning, while watching the sunrise the peacock chanted the divine mantra. After that he went about searching for food. In the evening at sunset, the bird did the same and then went to sleep.

One day Queen Khema of Benares dreamed that she heard a peacock giving a discourse. She requested the King to bring the peacock to the palace so that she could listen to his doctrine in real life. The King then sent the hunter to catch the bird. But by the protective power of the divine mantra, the trap would not work.

For seven years the hunters could not succeed. He died and it was followed by the queen’s death. The king was angry with the bird. He made an inscription saying that whosoever would eat the flesh of the peacock, would be young and immortal always.

So several successive rulers of the kingdom attempted to capture the bird, but all were in vain. The seventh successor to the king sent a clever hunter, who had a charming peahen, which could sing very sweetly. Early one morning the hunter set up the snare with the peahen in front of the peacock, the bird was tempted. It approached her without chanting the Mantra and was caught in the snare.

The hunter happily presented it to the king. The king was delighted at the Bird’s beauty. He placed it on a royal seat and had a conversation with it.

The peacock asked the king why he was caught. The king said that the former king left an inscription saying that whosoever eat its flesh could be young and immortal. The peacock said that in his previous life, he observed the five precepts strictly and as a result his body became golden in colour.

The story of the previous life was explained by the peacock in detail as well as the power of the divine mantra. The king was very pleased. The bird was released to fly back to the golden hill of Dandaka.

This discourse is generally recited for safety and as a protection against being trapped or imprisonment. It is found in the Khuddaka Nikaya Pali text and the Jataka Story.

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6. INTRODUCTION TO VATTA SUTTA
    DISCOURSE ON THE BODHISATTA AS A QUAIL

Once upon a time, the Buddha, accompanied by his disciples, went round for alms-food through a certain village in Magadha. On their return, they came to a place where the forest fire broke out; the monks fled towards the Buddha and saw him standing untouched by the raging flames.

When they praised Him for His miraculous powers, the Lord explained to them that it was due to the power of a statement of truth.

In His previous life, the Bodhisatta (Future Buddha) was a quail. When a forest fire was burning out of control, all creatures ran away fearing for their lives, including his own parents. A young baby quail left helpless in the nest. Thereupon he contemplated on the virtues of past Buddhas and determined a matchless statement of truth in his present life. The forest fire passed over him in a spot of sixteen length away. This place lasts for the entire world cycle and possesses great power.

This discourse is generally used for protection against fire and it is found in the Jataka, Cariyapitaka and Khuddaka Nikaya Pali text.

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7. INTRODUCTION TO DHAJAGGA SUTTA
    DISCOURSE ON THE CREST OF BANNER

When the Blessed One was staying at monastery of Anathapindika, in Jeta’s Grove near Savatthi, He spoke to the monks as follows: "Long ago there was a fierce battle between large group of devas (gods) and asuras (titans). The king of the gods told his men that should they become frightened, they need only look up at crest of banner of him and the other three kings of gods- Pajapati, Varuna and Isana. Then the rising of fear, panic and tingly sensation of the flesh would be overcome."

But the Buddha added that they might or might not be successful because these kings of heaven are not yet free from passion, hatred and delusion. If they look up at the Buddha’s crest they could be successful because the Buddha is free from passion, hatred and delusion.

Hence the Lord instructed his disciples to remember the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha with all the glorious virtues. By doing so, any kind of fear, panic or tingly sensation of the flesh will disappear definitely because the Buddha unlike Sakka, is supremely Enlightened and is free from passion, hatred and delusion. He is also without fear, panic or fright and he does not flee (runaway).

This discourse is normally recited for protection against fear and horror. It is also recited for protection during a battle or in time of war.

Some physicians recite the virtues of the Triple Gem to empower the medicine to be potent and effective. Some criminal and political prisoners also recite this discourse as a way of obtaining their release.

This Paritta is based on the Sakka Story as found in Samyutta Nikaya Text.

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8. INTRODUCTION TO ATANATIYA SUTTA
    DISCOURSE ON THE PROTECTION AT DEVINE CITY OF ATANATA

On one occasion when the Buddha was staying at Vulture’s Peak near Rajagaha the four guardians (king of the gods) of the universe came to see the Buddha from the four directions and informed Him that many demons in human beings were not respecting the Buddha and His teachings. They attacked monks and laymen and frightened them when they were alone practicing meditation.

One of the kings, Vessavanna (Kuvena) asked the Buddha for permission to deliver the Atanatiya Discourse to human beings who could then recite the Sutta when they wanted to be protected when left alone to do their meditation. The Lord gave His consent by remaining silent.

According to commentary, this Sutta derived its name from a town called Atanata where the four guardians of the universe assembled and chanted it.

This discourse is normally used for protection against evil spirits and for gaining good health and happiness.

It is found in the Pathikavagga, Digha Nikaya and Dhammapada, Khuddaka Nikaya.

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9. INTRODUCTION ANGULIMALA SUTTA
    DISCOURSE ON ARAHANT ANGULIMALA

The chaplain of King Kosala (the mother) had a baby boy, named Ahimsaka, also known as the son of Mantani. At the time of his birth the weapons in the whole country were shining. His father predicted that he would become a robber.

As a student at Taxila University, he was much liked by the Rector for his good behaviour and intelligence. Some students were jealous of him and accused him of having a close relationship with the Rector’s wife. To test his student’s honesty and loyalty the Rector asked him to collect one thousand fingers. Obediently he did so and made a garland of his victims’ fingers to hang around his neck. Hence he became notorious as the robber with a garland of fingers (Angulimala Cora). Eventually Angulimala had one thousand fingers, short of one.

People in the country complained to King Kosala about the robber cum murderer. So an announcement was made that the king’s army would kill the dangerous man. Mantani, mother of the wanted man, went to look for him in order to save him. Knowing that the dangerous man would kill even his own mother for the thousandth finger if he saw her, the compassionate Buddha went to the forest. Angulimala chased after his mother. The Buddha stood between the two--mother and son. Angulimala decided to seize the Buddha instead. The Buddha performed a miracle so that Angulimala could not catch up with Him although the walking was slow. He was also made aware of reality when the Buddha spoke to him. Immediately, Angulimala was converted and ordained. Soon he attained the Arahantship.

One day Venerable Angulimala heard that a woman was having difficulty in labour. He went to the Buddha for help. He was asked to chant a Paritta, known as Angulimala Sutta since then, which contained a statement of truth-that since he became the Buddha’s disciple he had never taken a life. Without question he went back to the woman and chanted the Paritta and immediately the woman gave birth safely.

Today Angulimala Sutta is still used as a paritta for woman to have safe birth. It could be found in Majjhima Pannasa and Majjhima Nikaya.

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10. INTRODUCTION TO BOJJHANGA SUTTA
      DISCOURSE ON THE FACTORS OF ENLIGHTENMENT

On one occasion, the Buddha was staying at Rajagaha in the bamboo grove, the feeding ground of black squirrels. At that time, Venerable Kassapa who was living in the Pipphali Cave was affected with a disease and was seriously ill. The Lord visited him and recited the Discourse on Seven Factors of Enlightenment. After the recitation the Lord gave a discourse on it. At the end, the Elder recovered from his illness.

On another occasion, Venerable Maha Moggalana was living at Vultures’ Peak and was gravely ill. So the Lord visited him. In the same way the Lord recited and taught the discourse to him. After hearing it the Venerable also recovered from his illness.

On the third occasion, The Buddha who was living in the Bamboo Grove was afflicted with a disease and suffered great pain. Then Venerable Maha Cunda approached the Lord, paid respect to Him and took care of him. The Lord requested the Elder Cunda to recite the Seven Factors of Enlightenment as usual. Then the Lord recovered from all the illness.

This Sutta is normally used for protection against sickness. It is found in Bojjhanga Sutta, Mahavagga Samyutta Nikaya.

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11. INTRODUCTION TO PUBBANHA SUTTA
      DISCOURSE ON A GOOD MORNING

This discourse for protection is called Pubbanha – Good Morning. Composed by wise sages of ancient time it contained nineteen stanzas based on the three verses found in Agguttara Nikaya – Pubbanha Sutta and one verse in Sutta Nipata – Ratana Sutta.

"Oh! Noble Ones! Whosoever, at early morning, noon and evening practice a wholesome action of body, speech and mind, such a one will have a happy morning, a happy day and a happy evening…."

This Paritta is recited for protection against epidemics, wars and famine in a country, and for individuals. It is recited to avoid misfortunes due to undesirable influence of the planets.

Though the name of the Paritta is Good Morning, it can be chanted at any time – in the morning, afternoon or late in the evening. Being the eleventh Paritta in this book of Discourse on Protection, we recite this discourse to wish all beings well and happy and be liberated from all suffering.

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Paritta_bk.gif (9965 bytes)

This "Introduction to Maha Paritta Pali Sacred Verses" is part of the book named

MAHA PARITTA PALI SACRED VERSES
By Venerable Sayadaw U Panna Vamsa (Dhammacariya)

  Maha Sasana Ramsi Burmese Buddhist Temple (Singapore)
Tel. (65)62511717, Fax. (65)62560043, mailto:burtempl@singnet.com.sg