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Erāvaṇa

1. Erāvana.– Sakka’s elephant. He was once the elephant of the king of Magadha, who gave him to Māgha and his companions to help them in their good works on earth. As a result, when Magha and the others were reborn in Tāvatiṃsa, Erāvana was born there himself and became their companion. Ordinarily he was a deva like the others, because there are no animals in the deva-world, but when they went to the park to play, Erāvana assumed the form of an elephant, one hundred and fifty leagues in size. For the thirty-three devas, Erāvana erected thirty-three heads (kumbha), each two or three quarters of a league in girth. Each head had seven tusks, each fifty leagues long, each tusk bore seven lotus plants, each plant seven flowers, each flower seven leaves, and on each leaf danced seven nymphs (padumaceharā). For Sakka himself there was a special head, Sudassana, thirty leagues around, above it a canopy of twelve leagues all of precious stones. In the centre was a jewelled couch one league long, on which Sakka reclined in state. DhA.i.273 f; also SnA.i.368 f. (where there are a few slight variations).

In the Dhammika Sutta (Sn.v.379) Erāvana is mentioned among the devas who visited the Buddha to pay him homage. He is also mentioned among the Nāgā present at the teaching of the Mahāsamaya Sutta (D.ii.258; perhaps here a king of snakes is meant, because he is mentioned with others who are avowedly snakes). It is emphasised in several places (e.g., MA.i.472; DA.ii.688; also VvA.15 and Kvu.ii.599) that Erāvana is a devaputta and a Nāga only by birth (jātiyā). The Jātaka stories (J.v.137) mention Sakka as riding Erāvana, particularly when making comparisons between kings parading on the backs of elephants (e.g., V.iii.392). Erāvana is one of the chief features of Tāvatiṃsa (V.vi.278).

2. Erāvana.– The name of the elephant belonging to Candakumāra. J.vi.147.

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