Ven. Piyadassi (trans.), Ratana Sutra (Sn 2.1); Dhr. Seven, P. Macpherson (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
|Ven. Ananda, the Buddha's attendant|
Bringing a large number of monastics including his attendant, Ven. Ananda, the Buddha goes to Vesali. When he arrives, there come torrential rains that sweep away the decaying corpses. This purifies the atmosphere and makes the city clean. Then the Buddha delivers this "Jewel or Treasure Discourse" (Ratana Sutra) to Ananda.
He then gives him instructions as to how to tour the city with the Licchavi citizens reciting the sutra as a mark of protection (paritta) to the people of Vesali.
Ananda follows the instructions and sprinkles the sanctified water from the Buddha's own alms bowl. As a consequence the unclean spirits are exorcised and the pestilence subsides. Thereafter, Ananda returns with the citizens of Vesali to the Public Hall where the Buddha and his disciples have assembled awaiting his arrival.
- [NOTE 1: Ratana means "precious jewel, gem, treasure." Here the term is applied to the Triple Gem, Three Guides, or Three Jewels of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.]
2. "O, beings, listen closely! May you all radiate loving-kindness to those human beings who, by day and night, bring offerings to you (offer merit to you). Therefore, protect them with diligence.
3. "Whatever treasure there be either here or in the many worlds beyond, whatever precious jewel there be in celestial worlds, there is none comparable to the Tathagata (the Perfect One, the Wayfarer). This precious jewel is the Buddha. (Literally, in the Buddha is this precious jewel.) By this (asseveration of) truth may there be happiness.
|Unclean spirits (Hieronymus Bosch)|
5. "The supreme Buddha extolled a path of purification (the Noble Eightfold Path) calling it the path that unfailingly brings coherence (samadhi). There is nothing comparable to this coherence. This precious jewel is the Dharma. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.
6. "The eight persons extolled by virtuous people constitute four pairs. They are the disciples of the Buddha and are worthy of offerings. Gifts given to them yield [exponentially] rich results. This precious jewel is the Sangha. (Literally, in the Sangha is this precious jewel.) By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.
7. "With a steadfast mind and applying themselves well in the dispensation of the Buddha Gautama, free from (defilements), they have attained to that which should be attained (the stages of enlightenment culminating in arhatship) encountering the Deathless. They enjoy the peace of nirvana freely obtained (i.e., obtained without payment, avyayena, KhpA). This precious jewel is the Sangha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.
8. "As a post deeply planted in the earth stands unshaken by winds from the four quarters so, too, I declare is the righteous person who comprehends with wisdom the Four Noble Truths. This precious jewel is the [Noble or Arya] Sangha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.
9. "Those who realized the Four Noble Truths well taught by the one profound in wisdom (the Buddha, the "Awakened One"), even though they may be exceedingly heedless, they will not take an eighth rebirth* (in the realm of sense spheres). This precious jewel is the Sangha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.
- [*The reason it is stated that there will be no eighth rebirth for a person who has attained the stage of stream entry, the first stage of enlightenment, is that such a being -- now cleansed of some of the defilements (kilesas), taints (asavas), bonds (samyojanas), and corruptions (upakkilesas) that bind one to rebirth -- can at most only be reborn seven times (in the realm of sense spheres, according to Ven. Piyadassi but nowhere corroborated by the texts that we can find) before attaining full enlightenment and complete and final liberation from all rebirth and suffering.]
- [*Six major wrongdoings: i. matricide, ii. patricide, iii. the murder of arhats (fully enlightened beings), iv. the shedding of a buddha's blood, v. causing a schism in the Sangha (anantarika karma), and vi. pernicious wrong views or false beliefs with fixed destiny/results (niyata micca ditthi).]
- [*A stream-entrant (sotapanna), the first stage of enlightenment.]
|Woodland terrestrial-devas gathered round.|
13. "The Peerless Excellent One (the Buddha) the Knower (of Nirvana), the Giver (of Nirvana), the Bringer (of the Noble Path), taught the excellent Dharma (Teaching, Doctrine). This precious jewel is the Buddha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.
14. "Their past (karma) is spent, their new no more arises [an arhat makes only kriya not karma], their mind/heart to future becoming no longer clings. The seed (of rebirth-consciousness) has evaporated; they have no more craving for rebirth.
Those wise beings fade out (of this "continued wandering on" of samsara through rebirth and suffering) as the flame of this lamp (which has just faded away). This precious jewel is the Sangha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.
- [9: These last three stanzas are recited by Sakka King of the Devas (KhpA).]
|Sakka is Indra is St. Michael.|
16. "Whatever beings are assembled here, terrestrial or celestial, come let us salute the perfect Dharma, honored by devas and humans. May there be happiness.
17. "Whatever beings are assembled here, terrestrial or celestial, come let us salute the perfect Sangha, honored by devas and humans. May there be happiness."