A large group of devas pays a visit to the Buddha. This sutta is the closest thing in the Pali canon to a "Who's Who" of the deva worlds, providing useful material for anyone interested in the cosmology of early Buddhism.
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Translation by Piyadassi Thera
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Translation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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- Thanissaro Bhikkhu's Introduction
This discourse is an interesting example of the folklore of the Pali canon. It shows that the tendency of Asian popular Buddhism to regard the Buddha as a protective figure, and not just as a teacher, has its roots in the earliest part of the tradition. Metrical analysis indicates that the long "tribute" section of this discourse is very old, while the verses in the introductory section — which is also found in the Samyutta Nikaya — are later in form. This fits with a more subjective judgment: that the tribute was an earlier composition — in the honorific style of the ancient court bards — to which the introduction was added later. This judgment is based on the fact that the two sections do not quite fit each other. The introduction to the tribute indicates that the reciter of the tribute is the Buddha himself, whereas the narration in the tribute indicates otherwise.
At any rate, this discourse is the closest thing in the Pali canon to a "who's who" of the deva worlds, and should provide useful material for anyone interested in the cosmology of early Buddhism.
The Commentary reports the belief that the devas enjoy hearing this discourse chanted in Pali. Until recently it was part of many monks' standard memorized repertoire, to be chanted at weddings and the dedication of new buildings. Even today, as many of the traditions of memorization in Asia seem to be falling by the wayside, there are a few monks and laypeople who chant this discourse regularly.