Dīpavaṁsa
[The Chronicle of the Island]
Ed. note: Oldenberg didn’t provide a translation of the title, so I have added my own.

Adoration to the venerable, holy, universal Sambuddha.

I. Buddha’s subjection of the Yakkhas Ed. note: I have added titles to each chapter, mainly drawn from the end-titles; when no end-title exists, I have made a title, according to contents, and placed it in square brackets.

[117] 1. I will set forth the history of Buddha’s coming to the Island, of the arrival of the relic and of the Bo (branch), of the doctrine of the teachers who made the recensions (of Dhamma and Vinaya), of the propagation of the Faith in the Island, of the arrival of the chief of men (Vijaya); listen.

2. Listen attentively to (the history proclaimed by) me, which inspires joy and delight, which causes serenity and gladdens the mind, which comprises many various forms.

3. With elated minds, satisfied, delighted and joyful, attentively receive the faultless, auspicious discourse.

4. Listen all, giving your minds (to the subject); I will proclaim a history, handed down from generation to generation, highly praised, adorned in many ways, joined together in this (work), just as flowers of various kinds (form a garland).

5. Attend to this incomparable praise of the Island (Ceylon), which dwells upon the most excellent successions (of teachers and kings), which is new and unrivalled and well narrated, which has been handed down by Saints, which is praised by all good men and revered by the holy ones.

6. On the immovable, firm, unshaken throne, a place worthy of the eminent one, the highest of men sat down, establishing himself in the four branches (of fortitude).

7. Seated on this most excellent throne, at the foot of [118] the king of trees, the chief of men, the highest among human beings, like a fearless lion, did not tremble, when he saw Māra with the hosts of his army.

8. Having overcome the dispute of Māra and put him to flight together with his army, the Conqueror, full of joy, wise, tranquil, and steadfast, –

9. mastered the state of meditation which consists in spiritual insight, and the thorough perfection of attention, (and also the knowledge of) many various qualities, distinguished by manifold attributes.

10. Mastering the knowledge of former existences and the gift of supernatural vision, the enlightened great Sage spent three watches of the night.

11. Thereafter, in the last watch, he revolved (in his mind) the causes of existence; the glorious One fixed the mind on them in direct and reverse order.

12. Having thoroughly understood the Dhamma, the highly wise One, who had reached emancipation by the destruction of human passions, taught (created beings) the abandonment (of temporal obstacles) and the attainment of the path (to sanctification).

13. The great Sage obtained (“abhisambuddha”) the most excellent knowledge of omniscience. Thus first arose the title “Buddha, Buddha”.

14. Having penetrated all qualities and uttered his proclamation (of triumph) This proclamation of triumph is the famous stanza, Dhp., v. 153. [Editor’s note, actually 153-154: Anekajātisaṁsāraṁ sandhāvissaṁ anibbisaṁ | gahakārakaṁ gavesanto: dukkhā jāti punappunaṁ. | Gahakāraka diṭṭhosi! Puna gehaṁ na kāhasi: | sabbā te phāsukā bhaggā, gahakūṭaṁ visaṅkhitaṁ, | visaṅkhāragataṁ cittaṁ, taṇhānaṁ khayam-ajjhagā. Through the round of countless births and deaths I have wandered without finding | the housebuilder I was seeking: born and suffering once again. | O housebuilder, now you are seen! You will not build the house again: | all your rafters have been broken, and the ridgepole has been destroyed, | my mind has reached the unconditioned, and craving’s end has been achieved]., the light-giver then spent seven days on that most excellent throne.

15. He in whom all fear had ceased, who had performed his duties and was free from sin, delighted, glad, and joyful, thought many kind thoughts.

16. In one moment, in one instant a Buddha surveys the whole world; he unveiled his fivefold power of vision and looked down over many people.

17. The highest of men sent forth the irresistible power of his knowledge; the stainless teacher then saw the most excellent Laṅkādīpa, –

18. an exquisite country, endowed with a beautiful climate, fertile, a mine of treasures, which had been visited by former Buddhas and had been inhabited by multitudes of Saints.

19. Perceiving the most excellent island of Laṅkā, a fertile region, a dwelling-place [119] fit for Saints, the compassionate One who well understood the right and wrong time, thus thought:

20. “In the present time Yakkhas, Bhūtas and Rakkhasas (inhabit) Laṅkādīpa, who are all too low for (adopting the doctrine of) the Buddhas; their power I can outroot.

21. Having driven out the hosts of Yakkhas, the Pisācas and Avaruddhakas, I will establish peace in the island and cause it to be inhabited by men.

22… . Let those wicked beings fully live out their span of life; (afterwards) there, in the most excellent Laṅkādīpa, an opportunity will arise for (the propagation of) the Faith.

23. Having removed (those) beings, having comforted many people and taught them the way, the road, the path of Saints, –

24. I shall reach complete Parinibbāna like the setting sun. Four months after my Parinibbāna the first convocation will be held …;

25. a hundred and eighteen years later A mention of the second convocation, which was held a hundred years after Buddha’s death, is wanting in the MSS.; the third is said to have been held 118 years after the second. the third convocation will take place, for the sake of the propagation of the Faith.

26. Then there will be a ruler over this Jambudīpa, a highly virtuous, glorious monarch known as Dhammāsoka.

27. This king Asoka will have a son, a clever man, Mahinda, the learned converter of Laṅkādīpa.”

28. Having foreseen these circumstances which were full of importance, (and understanding) the right and wrong time, the blessed Buddha placed a (divine) guard over this island.

29-30. The Jina, having performed his various duties during the seven-times seven days (at the following places, that is) the throne, the Animisa (Cetiya), the cloister, the jewel-house, the Ajapāla and Mucalinda trees, and seventhly near the Khirapāla grove, the hero went to Bārāṇasī in order to establish the kingdom of the Truth.

31. When he established the kingdom of the Truth and preached the most excellent Truth, the conversion of eighteen koṭis of beings took place.

32. Kondañña, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahānāma, and Assaji, these five great Theras attained emancipation when [120] he had preached the Anattalakkhaṇa discourse.

33. Residing in Bārāṇasī, in Isipatana, the Jina released the four friends of Yasa and, besides, the fifty youths.

34. Having spent the rainy season in Bārāṇasī, the Tathāgata released in the Kappāsika grove the [thirty] Bhaddavaggiyas.

35. Wandering thence from place to place, he came to Uruvelā; there the stainless Teacher saw Uruvelakassapa, an ascetic of the Jaṭila sect.

36. In the room where Kassapa kept his sacred fire, the highest of men conquered a serpent. Witnessing this miracle they all invited the Tathāgata:

37. “Reside here, o Gotama, during the four winter months; we will daily provide you with rice.”

38. The Tathāgata, the chief of men, residing during the winter in Uruvelā, devoted himself to the conversion of the Jaṭilas together with their followers.

39. (Once, during that period,) both Aṅgas and Magadhas prepared a great sacrifice. (Kassapa), seeing that great gains (could be obtained) at this sacrifice, conceived the following ignoble thought:

40-41. “The great Samaṇa possesses high (magical) powers and great faculties; if he shall perform miracles or preach in the great assembly, the fee will escape me and go to Gotama. Well, the great Samaṇa should not appear in the assembly.”

42. The Tathāgata understands action and resolution, intention and desire, the sixteen constituent parts of thought.

43. Having understood the thought of the Jaṭila, the Sage, who looks through the minds of other men, went by his high (magical) power to (Uttara-) Kurudīpa collecting alms.

44. Near the Anotatta lake Buddha took his meal; there he gave himself up to meditation (jhāna) and compassionate thoughts.

45. With his Buddha-eye, the highest in the world looked over the universe; the stainless Teacher (then) saw the most excellent Laṅkādīpa.

46. At that time the ground of Laṅkā was covered with great forests and full of horrors; frightful, cruel, blood-thirsty Yakkhas of various kinds, –

47. and savage, furious, pernicious Pisācas of various shapes and full of various (wicked) thoughts, all had assembled together.

48. “I shall go there, in their midst; [121] I shall dispel the Rakkhasas and put away the Pisācas; men shall be masters (of the island).”

49. Having considered this matter, full of compassion, the great hero rose into the air and came hither from Jambudīpa.

50. In the midst of the assembly of Yakkhas, above their heads, he was seen, standing in the air, holding his seat (in his hands).

51. The assembled hosts of Yakkhas saw the Sambuddha standing there, but they did not think that he was the Buddha; they supposed him to be another Yakkha.

52. On the bank of the river, near Mahiya Pokkhala, on the site of the Subhaṅgana Thūpa, there the highest of men stood, and entered upon the highest ecstatic meditation.

53. The Sage, the awakener of quick attention, speedily entered upon that meditation (by revolving) in a moment by one thought (the whole system of qualities). Suddenly he thence rose; he who had reached (all) perfections by his virtuous resolutions, … finished his meditation.

54. There the hero stood, performing miracles by his (magical) power, like a Yakkha of high (magical) power and great (supernatural) faculties; gathering (?) thick clouds, containing thousands of rain drops, he sent rain, cold winds, and darkness.

55. (He then spoke to the Yakkhas:) “I will send you heat; give unto me a place where I may sit down. I possess such power over the fire as will dispel these dangers.”

56. (The Yakkhas replied: “If thou art able to dispel them, sit down wherever thou likest; we all consent; show thy power over the fire.”

57. (Buddha replied:) “You all ask me for warmth; I shall quickly produce the great heat which you are desiring, a fierce, burning fire.”

58. As the sun shines in summer at noon, so fearful heat penetrated the assembly of Yakkhas.

59. Like the heat spread by the four suns at the end of a Kappa, such and greater still was the glow sent forth by the seat of the Teacher.

60. As the rising sun cannot be restrained in the sky, thus (Buddha’s) carpet [Ed. note: A better, and more understandable, translation of nisīdana would be mat: thus (the Buddha’s) hide mat… etc.] of skin cannot be restrained in the air.

61. The carpet diffused great heat, like the fire at the end of the Kappa, as the sun (scorches) the earth, [122] or like a great flame of fire.

62. Diffusing heat like a heap of burning coals, the carpet appeared similar to a cloud, or to a glowing iron mountain.

63. It spread insupportable heat over the islands. The Yakkhas quickly fled in all ten directions, to the east, the west, the south, the north, above, and beneath.

64. “Whither shall we go for safety and refuge? How shall we be released from this fearful being?

65. If this powerful Yakkha assumes the form of the fiery element, and burns us, all of us Yakkhas will perish like a handful of chaff, like dust blown away by the wind.”

66. And Buddha, the chief among Sages, the bringer of happiness, the compassionate, merciful great Sage, when he saw the afflicted, frightened Yakkhas, thought how to administer joy to the minds of these non-human beings.

67. (He) then (thought of) another island, similar to this, with low ground and high ground, with many various aspects, beautifully adorned by rivers, mountains, and lakes, the island of Giri, most similar to the country of Laṅkā.

68. (It was) free from danger, well protected, surrounded by the ocean, full of excellent food and rich grain, with a well tempered climate, a green, grassy land, the beautiful island of Giri, superior to this (island).

69. It was charming and delightful, green and cool, adorned by gardens and forests, exquisite; there were trees, full of blossoms and fruits; it was empty and solitary, subject to no master.

70. (It was situated) in the great sea, in the midst of the ocean and of the deep waters, where the waves incessantly break; around it there was a chain of mountains, towering, difficult to pass; to enter it against the wish (of the inhabitants) was difficult.

71. Full of desire and anger towards other beings, backbiting, pitiless, given to injuring other beings, cruel and furious, violent, merciless, ...

72. (Buddha thus spoke:) “Ye Rakkhasas and ye wicked hosts of Yakkhas, I give unto you this island which is not far from Laṅkā, the whole old island of Giri; may they all inhabit it and multiply undisturbed.

73. This country of Laṅkā is a residence inhabited by men since remote Kappas; [123] may many men dwell in the country of Laṅkā, as they did in former times in the Oja, Vara, and Maṇḍa island.

74. Adorned with these and other good qualities, a residence fit for men, auspicious in many ways, it will shine among the islands, when the Doctrine will have been brought there, like the full moon in the sky at the time of Uposatha.”

75. Weighing the prosperity and the high happiness of the two, the Sage who knew all worlds, interchanged the two islands and the two (kinds of beings), men and Rakkhasas, (as a peasant) easily (interchanges) his pairs of bullocks.

76. Gotama by his (magical) power drew the island towards himself, like the headstalls of bullocks which are drawn (towards the driver) with a strong rope. The Sage drew together one island towards the other, like two ships which are surrounded by stout ropes.

77. Having joined the beautiful island to the other, the Tathāgata transported (?) the Rakkhasas, (saying:) “May all Rakkhasas dwell in Giridīpa . . ”

78. The eager Yakkhas ran to Giridīpa, like thirsty people in summer to a river; they all entered it never to return; the Sage (then) restored the island to its former place.

79. The highly satisfied Yakkhas and the highly pleased Rakkhasas, having received this excellent island which they desired, all began to laugh with great joy, and all went to celebrate the festival called Nakkhattamaha.

80. When Buddha saw that joy had been restored to these non-human beings, he the Jina, having exerted his benevolence towards them, pronounced the spell of protection. Having walked three times round the island, for the sake of its ever-lasting protection and the expulsion of the Yakkha hosts, –

81. having comforted the Pisācas and (other) non-human beings, having established a guard and restored a lasting peace, having put down all distress in the island, the Tathāgata returned to Uruvelā.

Here ends (Buddha’s) subjection of the Yakkhas.