Guide to Tipitaka
Canonical Pâli Buddhist Literature of the Theravâda School
Part 6 - Vimana Vatthu Pali
Vimaria means mansion. Here it refers to celestial mansions gain- ed by beings who have done acts of merit In this text are eighty-five verses grouped in seven vaggas, in the first four vaggas, celestial females give an account of what acts of merit they have done in previous existences as human being and how they are reborn in deva realm where magnificent mansions await their appearance. In the last three vaggas, the celestial males tell their stories.
The Venerable Maha Moggallana who can visit the deva realm brings back these stones as told him by the deva concerned and recounts them to the Buddha who confirms the stories by supplying more background details to them. These discourses are given with a view to bnng out the fact that the human world offers plenty of opportunities for performing meritorious acts. The other objective for such discourses is to refute the wrong views of those who believe that nothing exists after this life (the annihilationists) and those who maintain that there is no resultant effect to any action.
Of the eighty-five stories described, five stories concern those who have been reborn in deva world having developed themselves to the stage of Sotapanna in their previous existences, two stories on those who have made obeisance to the Buddha with clasped hands; one on those who had expressed words of jubilation at the ceremony of building a monastery for the Samgha, two stories on those who had observed the moral precepts, two stones on those who had observed the precepts and given alms, and the rest deal with those who have been reborn in the deva world as the wholesome result of giving alms only.
The vivid accounts of the lives of the devas in various deva abodes serve to show clearly that the higher beings are not immortals, nor creators, but are also evolved, conditioned by the results of their previous meritonous deeds; that they too are subject to the laws of anntca^ dukkha and anatta and have to strive themselves to achieve the deathless state of Nibbana