by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes The Atanatiya Paritta contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as how the Āṭānāṭiya Paritta came to be Taught. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).
At one time, the Buddha was staying in the monastery on the Gijjakuta Hill near Rājagaha. During that time, Dhataraṭṭha, Virūḷaka, Virūpakkha and Kuvera, the Four Great Guardian Kings of the four quarters, held a conference at the celestial city of Āṭānāṭiya, the abode of Kuvera. After they had carefully arranged for the defences of
Tāvatiṃsa, the abode of Sakka, King of Devas, (against the Asuras) at the four directions, by employing hordes of yakkhas, gandhabbas, kumbhaṇḍas, and nāgas, they composed stanzas called the Āṭānāṭiya Paritta on the subject of the seven Buddhas (preceding Buddha Gotama). “Whosoever disregards and goes against the authority of the Buddhas' Doctrine and the authority of our commandments shall be meted out specific punishments,” they proclaimed. They also placed at the four quarters a big number of yakkhas, gandhabbas, kumbhaṇḍas, and nāgas for their own protection. Around midnight, they went to the Buddha in resplendent appearances, their personal radiance flooding the entire Gijjhakuta Hill. After having approached the Buddha, and making obeisance to Him, they sat at a suitable place.
(Note: It was unusual for devas to sit before the Buddhas' presence, they usually remained standing. But here they were sitting, out of reverence for the Āṭānāṭiya Paritta——Commentary).
The company of yakkhas who came with the Four Great Guardian Kings behaved in different ways in the presence of the Buddha: some of them made obeisance to Him and sat in a suitable place: some exchanged words of felicitations and sat in a suitable place; some raised their joined palms in the direction of Him and sat in a suitable place; some declared their names and lineage and sat in a suitable place; some sat remaining silent.
At that assembly of devas, Vessavaṇṇa addressed the Buddha in these words;
“Venerable Sir, among very powerful yakkhas, some have pious faith in the Bhagavā while others have not. It is the same with yakkhas of middling powers and those of small powers. Venerable Sir, most yakkhas do not have reverence for the Bhagavā (i.e., they do not like the Bhagavā) because the Bhagavā preaches refraining from killing, stealing, unlawful sexual conduct, lying and taking intoxicants whereas yakkhas generally do not refrain from killing, stealing, unlawful sexual conduct, lying and taking intoxicants. For these yakkhas who lack morality the five moral precepts is anathema.
“Venerable Sir, there are many bhikkhu disciples of the Bhagavā who dwell in monasteries in remote places. These remote places are permanent residences of very powerful yakkhas, who do not show reverence to the Bhagavā. To win their confidence, to serve as protection for bhikkhu-disciples, bhikkhunī-disciples, male lay disciples and female lay disciples of the Bhagavā, to let them be free from harassment of yakkhas, and for a peaceful, carefree life in all the four bodily postures for everyone, may the Bhagavā teach them the Āṭānāṭiya Paritta to the disciples.”
(Herein, Vessavaṇṇa acted as spokesmen for the four Great Guardian Kings because he was well acquainted with the Buddha and was also an accomplished speaker.) The Buddha accepted Vessavaṇṇa’s proposition by remaining silent.
Seeing that the Buddha approved his suggestion, Vessavaṇṇa recited the Āṭānāṭiya Paritta thus:
The Āṭānāṭiya Paritta (Pāli).
(1) Vipassissa ca namatthu, cakku mantassa sirīmato,
Sikhisspi ca namatthu, sabbabhutānu kampino.
(2) Vessabhussa ca namatthu, nhātakassa tapassino,
Namatthu Kakusandhassa, mārasenā pamaddino.
(3) Koṇāgamanassa namatthu, brāhmaṇassa vusīmato,
Kassapassa ca namatthu, Vippamuttassa sabbadhi.
(5) Ye cāpi nibbutā loke, yathābhutaṃ vipassisuṃ,
Te janā apisuṇātha, mahāntā vītasāradā.
(14) Jinaṃ vandatha Gotamaṃ, jinaṃ vadāma Gotamaṃ.
Vijjācaraṇa sampaññāṃ Buddhaṃ vandāma Gotamaṃ.
(15) Yena petā pavuccanti, pisuṇā piṭṭhimaṃsikā,
Pāṇātipātino luddā, corā nekatikā janā.
(17) Kumbhaṇḍānaṃ adhipati, Virūḷho iti nāma so.
Ramatī nicca gītehi, kumbhaṇḍehi purakkhato.
(18) Puttāpi tassa bahavo, ekanāmāti me suta,
Asītim dasa eko ca, indanāmā mahābbalā.
(19) Te cā pi Buddhaṃ disavāna, Buddhaṃ ādicca bandhunaṃ
Dūratova namassanti, mahāntaṃ vītasāradaṃ.
(20) Namo te purisā jañña, namo te purisuttama.
Kusalena samekhasi, amanussāpi taṃ vandanti
Sutaṃ netaṃ abhiṇhaso, tasmā evaṃ vademase.
(21) Jinaṃ vandatha Gotamaṃ, jinaṃ vandāma Gotamaṃ.
Vijjācaraṇa sampaññāṃ Buddhaṃ vandāma Gotamaṃ.
(22) Yattha coggacchati suriyo, ādicco maṇḍalī mahā,
Yassa coggaccha mānassa, divasopi nirujjhati.
Yassa coggate sūriye, samavarīti pavuccati.
(23) Rahadopi tatha gambhīro, samuddo saritodako.
Evaṃ taṃ tattha jānanti, samuddo saritodako.
(24) Ito sā pacchimā disā, iti naṃ acīkkhatī jano,
Yaṃ disaṃ abhipāleti, mahārājā yasassi so.
(25) Nāgānañ ca adhipati, virūpakkho ti nāma so,
Ramatī nacca gītehi, nāgehi purakkhato.
(26) Puttāpi tassa bahavo, ekanāmāti me sutaṃ,
Asīti dasa eko ca, indanāmā mahābbalā.
(27) Te cāpi Buddhaṃ disvāna, Buddhaṃ ādicca bhandunaṃ.
Dūratova namassanti, mahāntam vītasārādaṃ.
(28) Namo te purisā jañña, namo te purisuttama.
Kusalena samekhasi, amanussāpi tam vandanti
Sutaṃ netaṃ abhiṇhaso, tasmā evaṃ vandemase.
(29) Jinaṃ vandatha Gotamaṃ, jinaṃ vandāma Gotamaṃ.
Vijjācaraṇ sampaññāṃ Buddhaṃ vandāma Gotamaṃ.
(36) Te yāne abhiruhitvā,
Sabbā disā anupariyāyanti, Pasārā tassa rājino.
(38) Tassa ca nagarā ahu,
Āṭānāṭā kusināṭā parakusināṭā,
(39) Uttarena kasivanto,
Nanavutiyo ambara ambara vatiyo,
Āḷaka mandā nāma rājadhānī.
Kuverassa kho pana mārisa māhārājassa visāṇā nāma
tasmā kuvero mahārajā vessavaṇṇoti pavuccati.
(43) Jīvaṃīvaka saddettha, atho oṭṭhava cittakā,
Kukuttakā kuḷīraka, vane pokkharasātakā.
(45) Ito sā uttarā disā, iti naṃ ācikkhatī jano,
Yaṃ disaṃ abhipāleti, mahāarāja yasassi so.
(46) Yakkhānañca adhipati, kuvero iti nāma so,
Ramatī nacca gītehi, yakkheheva purakkhato.
(49) Namo te purisājañña, namo te pivrisuttama.
Kusalena samekhasi, amanussāpi taṃ vandanti
Sutaṃ netaṃ abhiṇhaso, tasmā evaṃ vademase.
(50) Jinaṃ vandatha Gotamaṃ, jinaṃ vandāma Gotamaṃ,
Vijjācaraṇa sampaññāṃ, Buddhaṃ vandāma Gotamaṃ.
——(This is the Āṭānāṭiya Paritta)——
Then Vessavanna said:
“Venerable Sir, this is the Āṭānāṭiya Paritta which is to be used as protection for bhikkhu-disciples, bhikkhunī-disciples, male lay disciples, female lay disciples, to let them be free from the harassment of yakkhas, and for a peaceful, carefree life in all the four bodily postures for everyone. Venerable Sir, if a yakkha, or a gandhabba, or a kumbhaṇḍa, or a nāga were to possess with intention to harass any one of the bhikkhu-disciples, or bhikkhunī-disciples, or male lay disciples, or female lay disciples who has learnt this Paritta well, that yakkha will not enjoy the respect and reverence in the village or town which is my prerogative (to allow or disallow them such respect and reverence). Venerable Sir, that yakkha cannot have mansion of his own or get my permission to reside permanently in my city called Aḷakamandā.”
After mentioning to the Buddha, the disqualification that surround a recalcitrant yakkha, etc., Vessavaṇṇa went on to say that just as there were recalcitrant men who defied the authority of king, there were also recalcitrant yakkhas who did not obey the authority of the four Great Guardian Kings and that, in case those recalcitrant yakkhas were to possess and harass the four classes of the Buddha’s disciples (bhikkhu-disciples, bhikkhunī-disciples, male lay disciples and female lay disciples), thirty-eight deva Generals, such as Inda, Soma, Varuṇa, should be invoked and reported to, describing details.
After that, Vessavaṇṇa bid the Buddha farewell in these words:
“Venerable Sir, we have many affairs to attend to, we shall go now.” (For the Myanmar rendering of Āṭānāṭiya Paritta and details of Vessanna’s additional remarks, reference may be made of Pāthika Vagga.)
The Buddha said: “Great Guardian Kings, you know the time to go. (i.e., you may go as you please.)”
Then the four Great Guardian Kings rose from their seats, made obeisance to the Buddha and vanished there. The company of yakkhas, who arrived together with the four Great Guardian Kings, bade farewell to the Buddha in different ways as on their arrival, some rose to make obeisance to the Buddha and vanished from there; some exchanged memorable words of felicitation and vanished from there; some raised joined palms in the direction of the Buddha and vanished from there and some just vanished without saying anything.
The Buddha relates The Story of The Visit of The Four Great Guardian Kings
On the next morning, the Buddha related to the bhikkhus the story of the visit of the four Great Guardian Kings and recited the Āṭānāṭiya Paritta.
Then he said:
“Bhikkhus, learn the Āṭānāṭiya Paritta; study it again and again, commit it to memory. Bhikkhus the Āṭānāṭiya Paritta is beneficial to all. It will serve as protection for bhikkhu-disciples, bhikkhunī-disciples, male lay disciples, female lay disciples; it could enable them to free themselves from harassment of yakkhas, and to lead a peaceful, carefree life in all the bodily postures.”
Ritual for Reciting The Āṭānāṭiya Paritta
The reciter of Āṭānātiya Paritta must have a thorough knowledge of the Paritta, both in word and meaning. He must be able to enunciate every word correctly. Should there occur any flaw in enunciating it or any deficiency in reciting it, the efficacy of the Paritta will not be as great as it should. Its efficacy depends on the overall efficiency in the reciting.
If the reciter has any self motive of personal gain in the learning and reciting the Paritta, the objective of the Paritta, will not be achieved. The reciter should be primarily motivated by a desire to gain liberation from the round of rebirths, and recite the Paritta in an attitude of good will to all.
——Commentary on Pāthika vagga——
In driving out the yakkha that has possessed a person, Mettā Sutta, Dhajagga Sutta, Ratana Sutta should be tried first. Only if the reciting of those Suttas for even whole days fail, should Āṭānāṭiya Paritta be recited.
Some teachers advised: The reciting bhikkhu should abstain from cakes made from dough, fish, meat and non-vegetarian foods, nor should he dwell at a cemetery. The reason is that yakkhas are fond of those kinds of food, and like to frequent cemeteries so that they could get better opportunity to possess men.
The place where the Paritta is to be recited should be plastered with fresh cow-dung. A clean seat should be spread for the reciter, who should see to his personal cleanliness.
The bhikkhu who is to recite the Paritta should be brought to the assigned place at the house of the victim, surrounded by an armed guard. The recital should not be made in an open space. It must be made in a fully enclosed room, well guarded with armed men. The reciter should have an attitude of good will to all (i.e., including the recalcitrant yakkha). The diffusion of mettā is the internal security for the reciter while an armed guard is the external security. These precautions are necessary for a trouble-free recital.
First of all, the victim must be made to get established in the (Five) Precepts. Only after being established in the Five Precepts should the Paritta be recited for his protection. These measures should put an end to the harassment of yakkhas.
If the yakkha does not release the victim after the end of the recital, the victim should be carried to the monastery and laid on the stupa precincts. An offering, at the place where the victim is lying, will be made to the Buddha together with offerings of lights. The stupa precincts must then be swept clean. Auspicious stanzas (of Maṅgala Sutta) should then be recited as a preliminary measure. Then a loud proclamation should be made calling upon all bhikkhus residing within the monastic area to assemble on the stupa precincts. There will be a certain tree in a grove in the vicinity of the monastery where a guardian tree spirit is traditionally said to reside. A person should be sent to that tree to act as official messenger of the congregation of bhikkhus, where he should say: “O yakkhas, your presence is wanted by the bhikkhu-Sangha.” The yakkhas who resided in that area (including the yakkha who has possessed the victim) cannot neglect the formal invitation because he does not dare to disregard the authority of the Buddha and the four Great Guardian Kings.
Then the victim must be asked: “Who are you?” (Addressing the victim here is addressing the yakkha that has possessed him.) When the yakkha reveals his name, the bhikkhus should say: “Friend so-and-so, we share our merit in our offerings of flowers, seat, and alms-food to the Buddha. The Sangha have recited for your benefit auspicious stanzas; these stanzas are the friendly gift of the Sangha to you. Now, out of respect for the Sangha, release this victim.”
The recalcitrant yakkha should respond to the request of the bhikkhu congregation, made in loving kindness. If he does not respond, then an invocation should be made to the thirty-eight deva Generals, such as Inda, Soma, Varuṇa, and they should be told in these terms: “Deva Generals, as you know, this yakkha has disregarded our request made in lovingkindness. So we have to use the authority of the Buddha.” Having let the deva Generals know the necessity of resorting to the Āṭānāṭiya Paritta in those terms, a recitation of the Paritta should be made. This is the procedure where the victim is a lay person.
In the case of a bhikkhu being possessed by a yakkha, the place for the congregation of bhikkhus should be cleaned; a loud proclamation about the convening of the bhikkhu congregation made, sharing of merit made to the recalcitrant yakkha (for the offerings of flowers, etc., to the Buddha) and a genial request made to him to withdraw. Only when the yakkha remains unresponsive should the Āṭānāṭiya Paritta be recited. (This is the procedure for bhikkhu-victims).