It is also traditionally included in books of 'protection' paritta. The sutta describes thirty-eight blessings in ten sections,  as shown in the table below:. The post-canonical Pali Commentary  explains that at the time the sutta was preached there was great discussion over the whole of Jambudvipa regarding the definition of blessings. Then it was that Sakka suggested that a deva should visit the Buddha and ask him about it.
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Mangala : Popularly it means lucky sign, omen good or evil, auspicious or inauspicious, or a blessing. In all countries and times there have been superstitions about these things and this is as true of western technological societies the increasing dependence upon astrology , as it was of India in the Buddha's days. Though people now may not divine auspices from the shapes of cloth nibbled by rats, they have plenty of other signs of fortune and misfortune.
For some reason or other, signs of fortune are few now in English tradition and offhand the writer could think of only one: it is lucky to pick up pins. But unlucky signs, and actions to ward off misfortune, are many. For instance, a few years ago a sister in an English hospital insisted that flowers of other colors be mixed in with my mother's red and white carnations — "or we shall have a death in the ward.
Another generally unlucky sign is for a black cat to cross one's path. In Nepal, though, they consider an overturned shoe to be very inauspicious when one is setting out on a journey.
And sailors the world over are well known for their attachment to good signs and dread of ill omens. Less specialized examples can be found in crossing one's fingers and in "touching wood" against disaster, and in the practice of throwing salt over the left shoulder into the Devil's eye whenever salt is spilt.
Did salt manufactures have anything to do with this? Certainly a well known Swedish match company did promote the idea of ill-luck following three smokers who light up on one match "three on a match". A bit nearer to commonsense is the superstition about not walking under ladders but most of these beliefs are quite irrational, like the children's idea that a bad day will follow after stepping on cracks in the pavement when going to school. Even nearer to the Buddhist idea of good omens in Thailand are dreaming of bhikkhus monks or temples, or seeing a bhikkhu when one comes out of the house first thing in the morning.
How such things can be interpreted differently is well illustrated by some Chinese business people for whom the sight of a bhikkhu — one who teaches the doctrine of voidness — at that time is a very bad omen!
But one could keep on and find innumerable examples of the popular idea of mangala. It was the Buddha's genius to show that it is the practice of Dhamma that is truly auspicious. In Buddhist countries there are many works explaining the contents of the Mangala Sutta. Some are in Paali but many are in the languages of the present Buddhist countries of S. They are popular books widely read by Buddhists there. Apart from this, lectures over the radio and sermons in temples and homes often take the form of a commentary upon this discourse or part of it.
English language lacks such a work, apart from the translation of the Paali commentary to the Sutta by Ven. The author's book written before this was available helps to fill an omission in English Buddhist literature. As the reviser of this book, I have often referred to Ven.
Where it was felt necessary some passages by the author have been omitted or rewritten. It is my hope that he will be satisfied with these changes which do not affect the plan of his work.
John Dimmick, my good Buddhist friend for many years, has patiently disentangled and typed the revised copy. The Mangala Sutta is so popular because of the wide range of its teaching within a few easily remembered verses.
Also because of its clarity and straightforwardness which is characteristic of the Dhamma as a whole. On receiving a gift copy of Dr. Soni's book on the Mahaa Mangala Sutta, which is an all-round summary of the Buddhist teachings for the attainment of peace, happiness and spiritual wisdom, I realized that it should be republished. I requested Dr. Soni to post a copy of his book to the Ven. In the meantime, I appealed to the Venerable Editor to consider its republication.
The sutta has been treated in a scholarly manner and presented so lucidly that it can be appreciated by a wide reading public. It contains wisdom which, if applied to our daily lives, is bound to bring about a moral and spiritual upliftment of all concerned. Through the merit of this publication may the author's and writer's parents attain Nibbaana's peace! Some two years back I shifted my library and manuscripts to Mandalay from my pre-war station, where the things had remained for over ten years separated from me, first because of the war and then because of the insecurity and insurgency in the country.
Though several books were found infested with bookworms, yet it was a delightful experience to get back the main part of the library intact. The joy, however, was damped by a profound shock, as the contents of a large and precious box were found damaged beyond recognition by white ants: precious because apart from some valuable and rare books, the box contained several major manuscripts on which I had worked devotedly for over nine years.
The files were a heap of wet mud with thousands of white ants wriggling in it. It seemed these destructive creatures had found access to the box during the long journey in the goods-train.
My shock can be better imagined than described! What had been safe from invaders, bombs, bullets, weather and storms, was lost through the white ants on the final journey. Truly, it was an object lesson in anicca , the impermanence of all compounded things.
Disheartened, but not quite despondent, I began immediately to extricate and save everything possible. Hundreds of mutilated and withering sheets were thus reclaimed. Among these were some which had my researches on the phenomenon of rebirth, and the psychology of consciousness, and also my writing and verses on the Mahaa Mangala Sutta.
With happy memories of the sutta thus revived, I shortly set to work to rewrite this book. Two pleasant results followed: firstly, the shock was soothed away by new inspiration; and secondly, this book was the result. It is hoped that this work will serve a useful purpose, but it will remain a moot point as to who should earn the gratitude for producing it, the author or the white ants.
The Mahaa Mangala Sutta is a rewarding text for the wholesome shaping of complex human civilization.
In this work an attempt is made to offer some studies of this important discourse of the Buddha, which provides a plan true at all times for the material and spiritual well-being of individuals in a democratic society. The discourse provides lessons of direct practical application, capable of immediate and fruitful use by people in all walks of life, irrespective of differences of sex or status, race or religion.
These precepts should have wide publicity so that they may be widely used, particularly at this juncture in human history when people are coming closer together, so that nations need a silken cord to unite them harmoniously into a family of cooperating and trusting members.
Only such a transformation can save them from impending and utter disaster, which must be expected because of their terrible hatreds, greeds and misunderstandings. Conditioning of the individual towards wholesome conduct is really necessary.
Such a change of attitudes leads to definite improvement in not only domestic and social affairs but also in national and international ones. For the introduction and promotion of such friendliness, the auspicious words of the Buddha reaching us from across the ages provide an excellent guide. The present work introduces this worthy guide and this book is sent out in the faith and hope that it will help lead some people in the world towards better human relationships.
It is a happy coincidence that it is starting its auspicious journey from the city that was once the capital of the good King Mindon and which even today is the center of Buddhist learning in Burma. Superstitions and selfish desires weave a pattern of mind which interprets objective and subjective happenings in life as forebodings of personal weal and woe.
Thus, if on waking up in the morning, or on the start of a trip, or in the course of a long journey, or the beginning of an enterprise, or during a sacred ceremony, one meets with what is taken to be a sign of good fortune, such as a flower in bloom, a smiling face, good news or even something at first sight offensive but potentially considered good, some people feel assured of success in the subsequent course of events.
An autosuggestion like this might be of some use but to place complete reliance on it, neglecting the action necessary for the fulfillment of success, would be too much of wishful thinking, bound to result in frustration or failure.
So much importance is attached by some people to such omens of what is supposed to be auspicious that a sort of pseudo-science has grown up playing an undesirable role in the lives of those people by choking their initiative, by sustaining their fears, by suppressing self-confidence and by the promotion of irrational attitudes in them. In the time of the Buddha such a belief was as much in evidence as today, and as he was opposed to anything that fettered the healthy growth of the human mind he raised his voice against such superstitions.
He denounced "luck" or "fortune" or "auspiciousness" and proclaimed instead human behavior, associations and activities as the real origins of "fortune" or "misfortune. This had far-reaching effects in improving both human relationships and the efficiency of the human mind. In Indian society in the Buddha's time as in our own , people were addicted to superstitions about omens of good and bad luck besides being divided on their nature and implications, so it was natural that someone should inquire the views of the Great Teacher, the Buddha, on the subject.
His words of wisdom had already been an immense success not only with ordinary people but also with those in positions of power and those with great learning. A special messenger was therefore sent to meet the Buddha while he was staying at the Jetavana monastery in the garden of Anaathapi. The views expressed by the Lord in the Mahaa Mangala Sutta are a masterpiece of practical wisdom.
This sutta was recited in the First Buddhist Council by Venerable AAnanda, the attendant of the Buddha who had memorized so many of the Buddha's discourses. The Discourse is a charter in outline of family responsibility, social obligations, moral purification and spiritual cultivation. Within the compass of a dozen stanzas are included profound counsels and golden rules, which admirably point out the way life's journey should go if it is to reach the haven of perfect harmony, love, peace and security.
Beginning with emphasis on the need for a suitable environment, the Discourse lays appropriate stress on personal discipline, righteous conduct and adequate discharge of duties to one's near and dear ones. Then the higher virtues of humility, gratitude, patience and chastity are introduced.
And step by step are reached serenity, perception of truth and Enlightenment. A well-drawn chart like this correctly indicates the true course of progress on the stormy sea of life. Not only is the course correctly shown but also the rocks and other perils always to be found on such a journey are clearly pointed out. The wisdom of the Mangala Sutta is emphasized by its spiritual appeal which is firmly planted on this earth: while providing or rather, helping to grow wings to soar high into the ethereal regions and beyond.
The Buddha, as usual in his teachings, does not forget the needs and difficulties of the everyday world. Here lies its greatest appeal to the ordinary man, who, however much he may be fascinated by the ideal of renunciation and full-time spiritual practice, is still attached to the world through contact with family, friends and relations and the inevitable duties and obligations that this entails.
It is true to say that the appeal of the sutta is universal. A child in school may benefit from it as may a scholar in the university. It is as much applicable to the humblest citizen as to those in power. Though proclaimed by the Buddha, it is just as valuable to non-Buddhists, valuable in fact for all peoples at all times. Above all the sutta is a wonderful stimulus for reform. It indicates the simple and direct way the Buddha adopted to wean people from superstitions and irrational attitudes so that they could grow and mature towards an enlightened outlook.
This gradual method is unique to the Buddha. He made people see "luck," "omens" and "auspiciousness" in quite a new light, rejecting superstition and encouraging reliance upon one's own good actions. In consequence signs and omens gave way to his emphasis upon social obligations and duties founded on individual good conduct and leading to a society lighted by understanding and individual hearts enlightened by penetration of the truth.
This work contains a great variety of discourses, some upon basic subjects suitable for lay people, while others which have great depth are addressed to those who practice Dhamma all the time. The Sutta-Nipaata is the fifth item of the Minor Collection Khuddaka-nikaaya and is divided into five sections. The contents of this sutta also appear in the first item of the Minor Collection, known as the Minor Readings Khuddaka-paatha , called there simply "Mangala Sutta.
It is interesting to note that the tenth item of the same collection, the Jaataka birth stories which has chapters, each relating a previous life of the Buddha, has as the titles of the 87 th and rd Jaatakas, the Mangala Jaataka and the Mahaa Mangala Jaataka respectively.
These stories, though their contents are different, are interesting supplements to the sutta because the same spirit runs through all these texts. The story of the Mangala Jaataka concerns a brahman said to be an expert in predictions drawn from cloth. Obsessed with the superstition that any cloth, however new or costly, once bitten by a rat was highly inauspicious amangala , he had a valuable garment of his thrown away into a cemetery on discovering a rat-bite on it.
Maha Mangala Sutta at Siri Samanola Senasuna
Maha Mangala Sutta