Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Buddhist Story The Anger Eating Demon

Buddhist Story The Anger Eating Demon Image
Updated tale retold by Ven. Nyanaponika Thera (author of the BUDDHIST DICTIONARY)

"Demon" ("asura") on Sakka's throne eating anger of the sky-"devas "(mooligaisidhan)

THE ANGER-EATING DEMON (RETOLD)Ven. Nyanaponika, Wisdom Quarterly edit, SN 22 (Grouped Discourses)

Once there lived a "demon" (ASURA) who had a peculiar diet: He fed on the anger of others.

His feeding ground was the human world. And there was no lack of food for him. For he found it easy to provoke a family quarrel, or national even racial hatred. So to stir up a willingness for combatants to fight was not very difficult. Whenever he succeeded, he could gorge himself during a war without much further effort. Once war is started, hate multiplies by its own momentum and affects even normally friendly people.

The demon's food supply became so rich that he sometimes had to restrain himself from overeating, being content with gnawing on a small piece of resentment here and there.

Spaceport 33 (the "Tavatimsa akasha-deva" world)

But as often happens as a result of success, he became overbearing. One day feeling bored he thought: "Shouldn't I try it with the DEVAS [shining ones]?"

Reflecting on where best to feed, he chose Tavatimsa, the Space World of the 33 "Devas", ruled by Sakka, King of the "Devas". He knew that although they were far above petty and selfish quarrels, only a few of the beings there had entirely eliminated the fetters of ill-will and aversion.

So by a psychic feat he transferred himself to that space realm. He was lucky enough to come at a time when King Sakka was away. There was no one in the large audience hall. So the demon seated himself on Sakka's empty throne. He waited quietly for things to happen, which he hoped would bring him a SULLEN feast. Soon some of the celestial inhabitants came to the hall.

They could hardly believe their eyes to see this disgusting monster sitting on the throne, squat and grinning. Recovering from their initial shock, they began to shout and lament:

"Oh, demon! How dare you sit on the throne of our ruler? What gall! What a crime! You should be cast headlong into the lowest hells, straight into a boiling cauldron! You should be quartered alive! Get out! Get out!"

He started to ooze a smoky-red-glowing aura


While the "devas" grew angrier and angrier, the demon was delighted in his feast. Moment by moment gorging, he grew in size, in strength, in power. But the anger he absorbed into his system started to ooze as a smoky-red-glowing aura. This vexing mist kept the "devas" at a distance and dimmed their natural radiance.

Suddenly a bright glow appeared at the other end of the hall. It grew into a dazzling light from which the "deva"-king Sakka emerged.Sakka, because he had entered the undeflectable STREAM THAT LEADS TO NIRVANA, was unshaken by what he saw. The smoke screen created by the anger of the "devas" parted when he slowly and politely approached the usurper of his throne.

"Welcome, friend! Please remain seated, relax. I can take another chair. May I offer you a drink out of hospitality? Our timeless AMRITA (nectar) is good. Or if you prefer a stronger brew, some [entheogenic] SOMA?"

While Sakka spoke these genuinely friendly words, the demon rapidly shrank and finally disappeared, trailing behind a whiff of malodorous smoke which likewise soon dissolved.

ANGER-EATING DEMON (ORIGINAL)

Wisdom Quarterly translation based on sacred-texts.com (Section 93, SN xi.3.2)

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Buddha was staying in Savatthi at Jetavana monastery in Anathapindika's Park. There the Blessed One addressed the monastics:

"Bhikkhus"! Bhagwan" (lord)!" they replied. Then he told this tale:

"Once upon a time, O monastics, a certain sickly and decrepit demon took his seat on the throne of Sakka, the leader of the ["Tavatimsa"- and "Catumaharajika"- world] "devas". The "devas", O monastics, of the Suite of the Thirty-three [Tavatimsa spaceport] were angered, annoyed, and spoke indignantly:

" 'O wonderful! O marvellous! Here this sickly looking and decrepit demon has taken his seat on the throne of Sakka, the leader of the "devas"!"

Now, O monastics, as the "devas" of the Suite of the Thirty-three were angered, annoyed, and spoke indignantly, in that same proportion did the demon grow handsomer, better looking, and more pleasing.

Then, O monastics, the "devas" of the Suite of the Thirty-three drew close to Sakka, the leader of the "devas". Having drawn near, they spoke to as follows:

"Sir, a sickly and decrepit demon has come here and taken his seat on your throne. And the "devas "of the Suite of the Thirty-three, sir, are angered, annoyed, and speak indignantly: 'O wonderful! O marvellous! Here this sickly and decrepit demon has taken his seat on the throne of Sakka, the leader of the "devas".' And, sir, as the "devas" of the Suite of the Thirty-three are angered, annoyed, and speak indignantly, in that same proportion does the demon grow handsomer, better-looking, and more pleasing. Sir, surely now, it must be an anger-eating demon."

Then, O monastics, Sakka leader of the "devas" approached the anger-eating demon. He threw his upper garment over his shoulder and, planting his right knee on the ground, stretched out his joined palms to the demon, and three times announced himself:

"Sir, your obedient servant, Sakka, leader of the "devas"! Sir, your obedient servant, Sakka, leader of the "devas"! Sir, your obedient servant, Sakka, leader of the "devas"!"

The more, O monastics, Sakka leader of the "devas", proclaimed his name, the more sickly and decrepit the demon became and soon disappeared. Then, O monastics, Sakka leader of the gods, resumed his seat and used the occasion to induce in the "devas" a more fitting frame of mind, by means of the following stanzas:

"My mind is not so easily cast down,
Nor does it lightly swerve from its own course;
And, O, long angry can I never be,
For anger finds no dwelling place in me.

"I never in anger utter harsh words,
And never proclaim my virtue's fame;
Instead myself I seek to keep subdued
In the interest of my future weal."

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