Title- Devaduta Sutta


Devaduta Sutta



By knowing this Sutta, I expect my Dhamma friends would get a lightening of wisdom beyond social life greeting and thinking. Generally, when people see an infant of their friend, neighbor, colleague, etc., they say, “How lovely he or she is”. When see an aged person, they say, “How nice and lucky you are still in good health till that age”. When see an infirm, they say, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine sooner”. When see dead person, they say the dead’s relatives, “Don’t feel too much sorrows”. When see a prisoner, they say, “He is too naughty that he is worthy to be in jail”. These are the generally said words by most people; in social we all have to agree to say like that is a must to be convenient in daily life. But “saying” and “thinking” can either be same or different. In Dhamma point of view, if you say like that and also think like that, it is not a good way. So, say “normal” and think “different”. Because they all actually are the signs of warning for you to do good deeds in time.





Yama, the King of Hell



The king of Vemanika-petas, who belong to gods of Catumaharajika realm, is called King Yama. He sometimes enjoys pleasures of devas and sometimes suffers the painful fruits of bad kamma(like ordinary petas). There are many Yamas who preside over the trial of sinners (i.e., those who did evil deeds in previous life) in their offices situated at the four gates of hell. Their duties are like the judges of the human world. But not all those who arrive at the gates are subject to trail.



Those who had done grave unwholesome kammas and so are evident sinners go direct to hells. Those with minor akusala-kamma get the opportunity to be judged by Yamas with the expectation that they might escape hell. The trials conducted are not meant to incriminate but to give them chance to escape from being punished if they so deserve. They, Yamas, are like judges of court of appeal nowadays. So it should be noted that Yama, the king of hell, is a judge and imperial monarch.



{Devaduta Sutta, Uparipannasa}






The Wardens of Hell



These hell wardens also belong to the class of Catumaharajika-devas. They are either ogres or demons. Their regular duties include sending minor sinners to Yama for trial and carrying out cruel punishments to serious sinners. Since hellfire is a form of uuja-rupa conditioned by evil deeds, only the sinners and not the hell wardens are scorched by the heat.






A Trial Chaired by Yama



The following is a brief account of a trial conducted by Yama; this episode is taken from Devaduta Sutta. Whenever a sinner is brought before Yama, he always asks him about the Five Divine Messengers (Panca Devadutas) : an infant, an aged, an infirm, a dead person and a prisoner.





Yama: Sinner, while you are a human being did you not see newborn baby wallowing helplessly in his or her own excreta?


Sinner: I did, Your Honour.


Yama: If so, did it ever occur in your thoughts, “I will be reborn like this helpless baby wallowing in excreta and urine in many future lives. I cannot escape rebirths. It is high time I controlled my thoughts, words and deeds so as not to suffer again like this infant” ?(Note: Yama asked this question with compassion)


Sinner: Your Honour, I was not at all mindful and thus had no interest in doing wholesome deeds.


Yama: Unwholesome deeds are done by yourself, not by your relatives, parents and friends. Since you are guilty of living thoughtlessly, you must now pay for your evil deeds as in the custom.





Yama repeated the same questions four more times, regarding the aged, the infirm, the dead and the prisoner. If after the fifth question, the sinner did not recall any of his past good deeds, Yama himself tried to recall if the sinner in front of him had ever shared merits with him when he did meritorious deeds. (Considering this fact, Buddhists nowadays share merits with King Yama when they do meritorious deeds). If he, King Yama, remembered the meritorious deed he reminded the sinner. If by the reminding of King Yama or the sinner himself recalled such an incident, as soon as he remembered his meritorious deed, he escaped from hell and was reborn in the celestial world. There were many of such beings. Only in such circumstances did it become evident that one’s meritorious deeds are one’s refuge. When it was evident that the sinner had no merits to his credit, King Yama kept silent. Then only would hell-wardens come and rage away the sinner to torture him in a deserving hell.






An Advice


After thinking about the melancholic sufferings in hell, one should cultivate good kamma. It is no use to feel remorse over deeds already done; it is time now to control oneself not to do any more evil deeds. In the past when a young bhikkhu had listened to Devaduta Sutta, he asked his teacher not to teach him any more scriptures but to show him the proper way to practice meditation. He practised meditation diligently and became an Arahant. Only then did he continue his academic studies. Countless beings have attained Arahantship by practicing meditation after listening to this Sutta. It is said that all previous Buddhas preached this Sutta.






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