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Mahasamaya Sutta, 1 Definition(s)

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Mahasamaya Sutta Mahasamaya Sutta

1. Mahasamaya Sutta. Preached at Mahavana in Kapilavatthu, where the Buddha was staying with five hundred arahants. The gods of the ten thousand world systems had come to visit the Buddha and the monks, and were joined by four gods from the Suddhavasa, who saluted the Buddha in verse. The Buddha then addressed the monks and recited this sutta (D.ii.253-62). It is possible to divide the discourse into three parts.

The first contains a list of the devas and other beings present to worship the Buddha. It is a long list of strange names given in verses, mostly doggerel. Many of the beings mentioned are to us now mere names, with no special information attached. Most of them were probably local deities, the personification of natural phenomena, guardian spirits, fairies, harpies, naiads, dryads, and many others, who are here represented as adherents of the Buddha, come to do him honour. It is noteworthy that even the most important gods - e.g., Soma, Varuna and Brahma - are only incidentally mentioned, added to the list, as it were, without special distinction. A similar list of devas is found in the Mahavastu (i. 245; iii.68, 77); the addition of Siva to this list is significant. The list of gods given in the Mahasamaya should be compared with that given in the Atanatiya Sutta.

The second part of the sutta is the framework of the words attributed to the Buddha, introducing the list of devas, giving the Buddhas warning to the monks to beware of Mara and Maras declaration that he had no power over them as arahants are free from fear.

The third part of the sutta may be called the prologue, the verses of greeting spoken by the devas from Suddhavasa (Rhys Davids, Dial.ii.282f).

This prologue is elsewhere preserved as a separate episode (S.i.27).

The Commentaries give long accounts of the preaching of the Mahasamya (E.g., SNA. 357ff.; DA.ii.672ff). The arahants mentioned are Sakiyan and Koliyan youths, representatives of Sakiyan and Koliyan families, sent to join the Order as a sign of gratitude to the Buddha for having averted the quarrel between the two families regarding the water of the Rohini. On that occasion the Buddha had preached to the opposing armies the Attadanda Sutta and the Phandana, Latukika and Vattaka Jatakas (DA.ii.674 adds the Pathavuddriyana and the Rukkhadhamma Jatakas). He then related the story of their origin, showing that both families were descended from a common stock. When the quarrel was thus settled, two hundred and fifty young men from each family entered the Order and the Buddha dwelt with them in Mahavana. But the wives of the men tried to entice them back; the Buddha, therefore, took them to Himava, where he preached to them the Kunala Jataka on the banks of the Kunala Lake.

Added: 12.Apr.2009 | Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names
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