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Ratana Sutta

1. Ratana Sutta.– One of the suttas of the Khuddakapāṭha. It is also included as the first sutta of the Cūḷa Vagga of the Suttanipāta. See also Gaṅgārohaṇa Sutta. It was taught at Vesāli, on the occasion of the Buddha’s visit there at the invitation of the Licchavī, who begged him to rid the city of the various dangers which had fallen upon it. According to the Commentaries (SNA.i.278 ff; DhA.iii.436 ff; KhpA.164 f), the Buddha first taught the sutta to Ānanda and asked him to go round the city, accompanied by the Licchavi princes, reciting the sutta and sprinkling water from the Buddha’s bowl. Immediately all the evil spirits fled from the city and the people recovered from their diseases. They then gathered at the Mote hall with various offerings and there they conducted the Buddha. In the assembly were present not only all the inhabitants of Vesāli, but also the devas of two deva worlds, with Sakka at their head. The Buddha taught the Ratana Sutta to this great crowd. Another account, quoted by Buddhaghosa (DhA.iii.165), says that in the assembly the Buddha taught only the first five stanzas, the rest having been earlier recited by Ānanda. Because this sutta was first taught ward off the evil from Vesāli, it became the most famous of Buddhist protection discourses (Paritta)

The sutta consists of seventeen verses: the first two contain a request to the devas to receive the homage and offerings of men and protect them in their danger; then follow twelve verses, descriptive of the virtues of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Saṅgha. It ends with three verses purporting (DhA.iii.195) to have been spoken by Sakka on behalf of all the devas, expressing their adoration of the Buddha, his Dhamma and his Saṅgha. It is also said (DhA.iii.196) that during this visit the Buddha stayed at Vesāli for two weeks, teaching the sutta on seven consecutive days; on each day eighty-four thousand beings realised the Truth. The Sutta seems also to have been known as the Gaṅgārohaṇa Sutta (Cv.xxxvii.191). When Sri Lanka was troubled by famine and plague in the reign of Upatissa II, the king had the sutta taught by monks while walking in the streets of the city. All troubles vanished, and he decreed that his successors should do likewise in times of need (Cv.xxxvii.195 f). Sena II had the whole sutta inscribed on a golden plate and held a great festival in its honour (Cv.li.79).

The sutta is given in the Mahāvastu (i.290 ff), where it is described as Svastyanagāthā.

2. Ratana Sutta.– The Dīghanikāya Commentary (DA.i.250) refers the reader to a Ratana Sutta of the Bojjhaṅga Saṃyutta for details of the seven gems of a Cakkavatti. The reference is evidently to the Cakkavatti Sutta (q.v.) S.v.98.