Dīpavaṁsa
[The Chronicle of the Island]

II. The Conquering of the Nāgas

[124] 1. Again, the holy, glorious Sambuddha (once) dwelt near the most excellent capital of Kosala, in the garden of Sudatta (Anāthapiṇḍika).

2. In this Jetavana garden Buddha, the light-giving king of the Truth, looking all over the world, saw beautiful Tambapaṇṇi.

3. When five years had elapsed (after he had attained Buddhahood), he went to the country of Tambapaṇṇi. By dispelling the Avaruddhaka (demons) he (once) himself had made the island empty.

4. (But) now the mountain serpents and the sea serpents fought a battle in the island, having arranged their arrays on both sides, an awful struggle.

5. All those Nāgas possessed great (magical) powers, all were frightfully venomous, all were wicked and violent, furious and filled with desire.

6. The Serpents were quick and excessively powerful, corrupt, cruel, and harsh, hasty, given to anger, longing for destruction (?).

7. Powerful Mahodara and resplendent Cūḷodara, both were valiant, both had an exceedingly brilliant appearance.

8. No one saw a way how peaceably to compose that struggle (?). Mahodara whose fierceness was furiously excited by pride, was destroying the island with its mountains and its forests: “I will kill all hostile serpents.”

9. Cūḷodara, filled with pride, roared: “May thousand koṭis of Nāgas approach; I will slay all them who dare to enter the battle; I will change the island, all its hundred yojanas, into one desert.”

10. The Serpents whose venomous fury could not be restrained, who possessed high (magical) powers, raged and sent forth flames (sent forth smoke and flames?); the Serpent kings, infatuated with anger, incited them to destroy the foes (who opposed them) in the battle.

11. Buddha, the blessed wanderer through the world, when he perceived the anger of the Serpent kings, (and saw) that the island was being destroyed, thought, in order to prevent this, many kind thoughts, for the sake of the highest bliss of (men) and gods.

12. (He thus reflected:) “If I do not go (to Laṅkā), the Serpents will not [125] become happy; the island will be destroyed, and there will be no welfare in future time.

13. Out of compassion for the Nāgas, for the sake of happiness (of men) I shall go there; may the happiness of the island prosper (?).

14. I perceive the excellent qualities of Laṅkādīpa; the Serpents shall not destroy the island from which I formerly have driven out the Yakkhas, and to which I have done good.”

15. Speaking thus the Sambuddha rose from his seat; he who possessed the gift of (supernatural) vision, left the Gandhakuṭī, and stood in the door (of the Jetavana garden).

16. All the gods who resided in the trees of the Jetavana garden, offered their services to him: “Let us go (with thee, o Sage who art) possessed of (supernatural) vision.”

17. (Buddha replied:) “Nay, remain ye all, Samiddhi alone may go (with me).” (Samiddhi) went, taking up the tree (where his residence was,) and holding it from behind (over Buddha’s head).

18. Samiddhi, when he heard what Buddha had said, was delighted; he took up the tree, roots and all, and followed the Tathāgata.

19. The highly powerful king of gods gave shade to the Sambuddha, the highest among men, and held (the tree) from behind over the most excellent Buddha.

20. The highest of men went to the place where the Nāgas fought their battle; the merciful Teacher (there) stood in the middle of both noble Nāgas.

21. Going through the air over the heads of both Nāgas, the Sambuddha, the chief of the world, produced a deep, terrifying darkness.

22. There arose a thick darkness, caused by the great (magical) power of the lion (among men); he was covered and veiled (?) by the darkness, and the tree too (?).

23. The frightened, terrified Nāgas did not see each other, nor did they see the Jina (?), (or) to what side they should direct their attacks.

24. They all forsook the battle, threw down their weapons, and stood all with clasped hands, paying reverence to the Sambuddha.

25. When (Buddha) perceived that they were struck with horror, when he saw that the Nāgas were terrified, he sent forth his thoughts of kindness towards [126] them, and emitted a warm ray of light.

26. A great sight it was, astonishing and terrifying; they all saw the Sambuddha like the bright moon in the sky.

27. Standing there, resplendent with all the six colours, shining in the air, illuminating the ten regions (of the world), he thus addressed the Nāgas:

28. “From what cause, o great king, did this contention among the Nāgas arise? Out of compassion towards yourself I have come speedily hither.”

29. (They replied:) “This Nāga Cūḷodara and that Nāga Mahodara, the maternal uncle and the nephew, are quarrelling with each other, desirous of treasure.”

30. The Sambuddha addressed a speech full of compassion to the savage Nāgas: “Anger which arises in the mind of the fool, begins small, and grows great.

31. For what reason do you undergo, all these many Nāgas, great suffering? Destroy that small throne, but do not destroy each other. Destroying one the other you are going to cause an unheard of destruction of life.”

32. Then he who possessed the gift of (supernatural) vision, agitated the Nāgas by (the description of) the sufferings in hell; he unfolded to them the (laws of) birth in the worlds of men and devas, and the nature of Nibbāna.

33. As the Sambuddha, the highest of men, thus preached the true doctrine, all the Nāgas, casting themselves down, propitiated the Tathāgata.

34. All the Nāgas (then) came together, the Serpents reconciled themselves to each other, and all took their refuge (in Buddha), eighty koṭis of living beings.

35. (Thus they spoke:) “We might perish, all we Nāgas, on account of this throne.”

36. The two Nāga (kings), for the sake of restoring peace, took that most excellent throne (and thus spoke to Buddha:) “Accept this throne out of compassion, (o Sage who art) gifted with (supernatural) vision.”

37. The Sambuddha who possessed the gift of (supernatural) vision, accepted it by remaining silent. When they understood that he had accepted it, the two great Serpents were delighted.

38. (They thus addressed Buddha:) “May the blessed One sit down on this splendid, noble Veḷuriya throne which the Nāgas were longing for.”

39. The [127] Nāgas placed that throne in the midst of the two islands. There, on that throne, the light-giving king of the Truth sat down.

40. When those eighty koṭis of Nāgas had propitiated the Sambuddha, the Nāgas there served to him a meal, food and drink.

41. When he had removed his hands from the bowl, the eighty koṭis of Nāgas, surrounding him, sat down near the supreme Buddha.

42. At the mouth of the Kalyāṇī river there lived a Naga together with his children and with a great retinue of Nāgas; his name was Maṇiakkhika.

43. (He was) full of faith, and had taken his refuge (in Buddha), a true and righteous believer. When he came to that assembly of Nāgas, his faith still increased.

44. When this Nāga perceived the Buddha’s power, his compassion, and the fear of the Serpents (?), he bowed to him, sat down, and thus entreated the Tathāgata:

45. “Out of compassion to this island thou hast first dispelled the Yakkhas; this kindness towards the Nāgas is thy second act of compassion towards the Island.

46. May the holy, great Sage show his compassion still another time; I shall attend and do service to thee.”

47. Having heard what the Nāga said, Buddha, full of compassion for created beings, the blessed One, accepted (his invitation,) for showing kindness to Laṅkādīpa.

48. Having sat on the throne, the light-giver arose; the Sage then rested during the midday time in the interior of the island.

49. In the interior of the island the supreme light spent the day; he who possessed the gift of (supernatural) vision, entered upon the Brahmavihāra meditation.

50. At evening time the Jina thus spoke to the Nāgas: “Let the throne remain here; may the Khīrapāla tree This is the tree which the god Samiddhi bad taken to the island; see v. 17 et seq. station itself here. Worship, o Nāgas, all of you this tree and the throne.”

51. Having spoken thus, and preached to the Serpents, and given them that sacred object used by (himself), the Sambuddha returned to the Jetavana.

Here ends the conquering of the Nāgas.

[128] 52. Again, in the eighth year (after Buddha had reached Sambodhi), the Nāga king Maṇiakkhika invited the great hero together with five hundred Bhikkhus.

53. (These Bhikkhus) whose senses were subdued, who possessed the high (magical) powers, surrounded the Sambuddha; the Sage rose up into the air in the Jetavana, and proceeding through the air, he came to Laṅkā, to the mouth of the Kalyāṇī river.

54. All the Serpents constructed a pavilion of precious stones on the ground, and covered it with garments of different colours, with divine clothes.

55. (There were) ornaments of various precious stones, various blossoms of many descriptions, many flags of various colours; the pavilion was adorned in many ways.

56. They spread (cloth over the) entire (floor) and prepared seats; (then) they introduced the Fraternity with Buddha at its head, and invited them to sit down.

57. Sitting down together with five hundred Bhikkhus, the Sambuddha entered upon ecstatic meditations; he diffused (the rays of) his kindness to all quarters (of the horizon).

58. Seven times Buddha together with his pupils attained mystical trance; at that place (subsequently) the Mahāthūpa was built, the most excellent Cetiya.

59. The Nāga king Maṇiakkhika distributed a great donation (to the Bhikkhus). Having accepted the donation of that Nāga, having taken food, and gladdened (the Nāgas by preaching to them,) the Sambuddha together with his pupils rose up into the air.

60. At the place of the Dīghavāpi Cetiya, Buddha, he who was full of compassion to the world, descended from the air and again entered upon mystical meditation.

61. Having arisen from the trance at that place, the light-giving king of the Truth together with his pupils, wandering through the air, then proceeded to the place where the Bo tree was to be stationed in the Mahāmeghavana garden.

62. The Bo trees of three former Buddhas (there also) had been established on the ground; to that place he went, and there he entered upon meditation.

63. (He thus prophesied:) “Three Bo trees (have stood) at this place at (the time of) the teaching of [129] three Buddhas; my Bo tree also will stand on this very spot in future time.”

64. The highest being, the chief of men, having arisen from that meditation together with his pupils, went to the delightful Meghavana garden.

65. There also he plunged himself in meditation together with his pupils. Having arisen from that meditation, the light-giver proclaimed:

66. “This place first Kakusandha, the chief of the world, has accepted, sitting down on this spot where a throne has been erected.

67. This place secondly Konāgamana, the chief of men, has ....

68. This place thirdly Kassapa, the chief of the world, has …

69. Myself, Sambuddha Gotama, the descendant of the Sakya tribe, the chief of men, have attained (trance), seated on this spot, where a throne is to be erected.”