Introduction

 

Note that a fuller introduction to this work is given in a text & translation of this collection, entitled Safeguard Recitals, which is available elsewhere on this website. What follows is an excerpt from that book. It may be noted here that Safeguard Recitals also contains the material from the Mahāparittaṁ and the Avasānaṁ, which have not been included here.

Undoubtedly the best known collection of Buddhist texts in Sri Lanka is the Catubhāṇavārapāḷi, the Text of the Four Recitals. On any given day of the year you would not have to go very far to find a complete recital of these texts being made, usually by monks, in an allnight sitting, as the Buddhist community regards such a recital as being particularly auspicious, bringing safety, peace, and well-being in its wake.

Following the Autumnal Rains Retreat (Vassa) every temple in the land has such a recital to ensure the prosperity of the temple and the community it serves during the coming year; and every night in the temples up and down the land a selection of texts from this collection is recited to promote the safety and happiness of all those who attend such gatherings.

In times of adversity, when ill-health or disease are close at hand, certain discourses will be recited which are thought to be particularly effective in restoring confidence and good health. Other discourses are employed when invisible forces or spirits are behaving antagonistically towards people; and at times certain of these discourses are recited as a blessing upon those who hear them.

In terms of the media it would be hard to find any other book in Sri Lanka that has so many editions available, and most homes in the Buddhist community will possess and prize a copy. The Great Safeguard, or Mahā Pirit, which opens the recital has been recorded many times and can be heard morning and evening played over loudspeakers from homes and temples alike.

Enough then should have been said to give an idea of the central role these texts play in the life of Sri Lankan Buddhism, but these recitals are also popular in other Theravāda countries like Myanmar and Thailand, and there is every reason to believe that their popularity is growing in those countries where the Buddhist community forms a small but significant minority like Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and in those Western countries where Buddhism has now taken root.

Whenever these texts are recited let it be for the safety, peace, and happiness of all living beings. Having secured their lives on a firm foundation, may all beings then take steps to develop themselves further, until such time as they arrive at the complete cessation of suffering!

Dukkhappattā ca niddukkhā, - bhayappattā ca nibbhayā,
sokappattā ca nissokā - hontu sabbe pi pāṇino! (see p. 265)

 

About The Text

1: Authorities

The text of Catubhāṇavārapāḷi printed in the main section of this book has been established through a comparison of the following authorities, which are given here along with the abbreviations used in the variant readings:

CBhp: Catubhāṇavārapāḷi, edited by Ven Siri Sumanatissa Nāyaka Thero. Simon Hewavitarane Bequest Pāḷi Text Series Vol VII. 1956, reprinted Colombo, 1992.

MPP: Maha Pirit Pota, edited by Ācaryā Devundara Sri Vācissara Nāhimi, new edition by Makaladuve Sri Piyaratana Nāhimi. Colombo, 1995.

PPV: Piruvānā Pot Vahanse, edited by Attudāve Rāhula Sthavira. Taiwan. 1994.

The Commentary on Catubhāṇavārapāḷi, Sāratthasamuccaya, published in the Simon Hewavitarane Bequest Aṭṭhakathā Series Vol XXVII, 1929 (reprinted 1992), was also consulted.

2: Variant Readings

There are some variations in the text which, as they make little difference in recital have not been noted in the variant readings, but which may usefully be outlined here:

CBhp sometimes prints for the more usual n, as in nibbāṇa, pahāṇa; it also sometimes has for l, as in antaḷikkha, piḷakā.

MPP sometimes prints n where we normally find , as in utuparināma, pisuna.

PPV quite often has for ñ, and occasionally in place of other nasals, which is simply an alternative way of representing these sounds.

None of the books are entirely consistent in their usage, which may not be the fault of the editors, but because this is a collection of texts that was originally passed down in different manuscript traditions. However, in this edition I have preferred to prepare a text which is consistent, as far as that is possible.

Printer’s errors, like printing as the quotation marker, have also not normally been noted, though where they amount to the omission of a word or line they have been included.

Owing to the Sinhala typeface used in MPP & PPV it is impossible to tell the difference between u & ū when in combination with certain letters, so that e.g. bhikkhu & bhikkhū are indistinguishable, except by context, and so it was not possible to note variants in this regard.

3: Comparison

Although Catubhāṇavārapāḷi is a collection of material drawn from the 5 Nikāyas, there are some significant differences between the suttas and other material in the collection and in the source. Below is a synopsis of where these works are originally found, together with a brief outline of the differences that are found (whenever they exist) for reference. It should be noted that variant readings are not mentioned here, but only major differences affecting either the title or contents:

1.

Saraṇagamanaṁ (Vinaya Mahāvagga 1; Khp 1)
Mahāvagga: no title; Khp: Saraṇattaya

2.

Dasasikkhāpadāni (Vinaya Mahāvagga 1; Khp 2)
Mahāvagga: no title; Khp: Dasasikkhāpadaṁ, also has the word samādiyāmi (I undertake) at the end of each precept

3.

Sāmaṇerapañhaṁ (Khp 4)
Khp: Kumārapañhaṁ

4.

Dvāttiṁsākāraṁ (Khp 3)

5.

Paccavekkhaṇā (M2, passim)
M2: no title

6.

Dasadhammasuttaṁ (Aṅg 10:48)
Aṅg omits the nidāna (introduction) and the conclusion from Idam-avoca...onwards

7.

Mahāmaṅgalasuttaṁ (Khp 5; Sn 2:8)
Khp: Maṅgalasuttaṁ

8.

Ratanasuttaṁ (Khp 6; Sn 2:1)

9.

Karaṇīyamettasuttaṁ (Khp 9; Sn 1:8)
Khp, Sn: Mettasuttaṁ

10.

Khandhaparittaṁ (Vinaya Cullavagga 5; Aṅg 4:67)
Cullavagga: no title, has different opening upto Na ha nūna..., replaces Idam-avoca Bhagavā, idaṁ vatvā Sugato athāparaṁ etad-avoca Satthā, with Evañ-ca pana bhikkhave kātabbaṁ. Aṅg omits Idam-avoca Bhagavā...Satthā.

11.

Mettānisaṁsasuttaṁ (Aṅg 11:16)
Aṅg omits nidāna, starts at Mettāya bhikkhave...; also omits Idam-avoca Bhagavā...to the end

12.

Mittānisamsaṁ (Jātaka 538)
Jātaka has no title

13.

Moraparittaṁ (Jātaka 159)
Jātaka has no title

14.

Candaparittaṁ (Devaputtasaṁyuttaṁ 2:9)
Saṁyuttaṁ has simply: Sāvatthiyaṁ viharati. Tena kho...etc

15.

Suriyaparittaṁ (Devaputtasaṁyuttaṁ 2:10)
Saṁyuttaṁ omits the nidāna entirely, begins with Tena kho...

16.

Dhajaggaparittaṁ (Sakkasaṁyuttaṁ 11:3)
Saṁyuttaṁ has simply: Sāvatthiyaṁ viharati, followed by Bhūtapubbaṁ...etc

17.

Mahākassapattherabojjhaṅgaṁ (Bojjhaṅgasaṁyuttaṁ 46:14)
Saṁyuttaṁ title: Gilāna 1

18.

Mahāmoggallānattherabojjhaṅgaṁ (Bojjhaṅgasaṁyuttaṁ 46:15)
Saṁyuttaṁ title: Gilāna 2

19.

Mahācundattherabojjhaṅgaṁ (Bojjhaṅgasaṁyuttaṁ 46:16)
Saṁyuttaṁ title: Gilāna 3
omits the line: sāyanhasamayaṁ paṭisallānā vuṭṭhito

20.

Girimānandasuttaṁ (Aṅg 10:60)
Aṅg omits Evaṁ me sutaṁ

21.

Isigilisuttaṁ (M 116)
M reads simply: Ariṭṭho nāma bhikkhave Paccekabuddho, (as does PPV in the variant readings)

22.

Dhammacakkappavattanasuttaṁ (Vinaya Mahāvagga 1; Saccasaṁyuttaṁ 46:11)
Saṁyuttaṁ has title as: Tathāgatena vutta 1 (but section title is Dhammacakkappavattanavaggo); abbreviates the list of devas by reading Brahmakāyikā devā instead of the full list. Mahāvagga has no title,
and also abbreviates the list of devas by reading Brahmakāyikā devā instead of the full list.

23.

Mahāsamayasuttaṁ (D 20)

24.

Ālavakasuttaṁ (Yakkhasaṁyuttaṁ 10:12; Sn 1:10)
Saṁyuttaṁ has the title Ālaviṁ omits the line beginning Atha kho... before the verses, includes an extra line Asmā lokā paraṁ lokaṁ — evaṁ pecca na socati at end of verse 7; omits the prose found after the verse.

25. 

Kasībhāradvājasuttaṁ (Brāhmaṇasaṁyuttaṁ 7:11; Sn 1:4)
Sn is the same as here, however Saṁyuttaṁ has the title as Kasi; omits the first 3 prose lines after verse 5, replaces Kasībhāradvāja’s request for ordination, and subsequent attainment with a request to be accepted as a lay disciple.

26.

Parābhavasuttaṁ (Sn 1:6)

27.

Vasalasuttaṁ (Sn 1:7)

28.

Saccavibhaṅgasuttaṁ (M 141)

29.

Āṭānāṭiyasuttaṁ, pt 1 (D: 32)
Dīgha has the title as -suttantaṁ

 

Ānandajoti Bhikkhu
August 2002