Free Verses on Praising All the Devas

CW40: No.125

Written in Chinese by the Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen
Under the guidance of the author,
translated by Yutang Lin


Yogi Chen composed the first version of this hymn in Chinese for Buddhist practitioners in 1953 during his 25-year retreat in India. In 1983 he gave the second version in Chinese for monasteries. The second version differs from the first one in only six lines. Hence, we shall present our translation of the first version with each one of the six lines followed by that of the second version enclosed in brackets.

Yogi Chen himself translated the first version into English years ago and presented it to his readers as booklet 59 "A Praising to All the Gods." His translation was rhymed. The present translation tries to be literal, and hence not rhymed. We hope that with two translations the readers would appreciate more our gratitudes to the Dharma Protector Gods.

Yutang Lin

Free Verses on Praising All the Devas

The original teacher Sakyamuni Buddha

The venerable devas who protect the Dharma

The original teacher Sakyamuni personally announced
That he had come from the Tusita Heaven to Jambu,
And that his pravraj, subjugation of demons and turning the harma Wheel
Had been tirelessly helped by the Devas;

The precious World-honored One is, rarest to meet.
The first ones to plead for his birth in this world
Are the Devas whose great benevolence is unsurpassable;
The Devas played Eighty-four thousand musical tones,
Tone after tone they pleaded the incarnation of Buddha:
Please forget not us, the pitiful ones.

Holding a bowl the Four Caturmaharajas pleaded for His incarnation,
Only upon hearing this did Buddha accept the plea;
Thanks to the Devas for their unsurpassable great benevolence!

A decade and two years before Buddha's birth,
Venerable Suddhavasadeva came in advance.
He appeared as a Brahman and spread the prophecy:
Buddha's incarnation will soon be here!

The Holy family chosen had had thirty-two virtues,
This was revealed upon the Deva JnanaDhvaja's request;
To descend into Jambu in the form of a white elephant,
It was suggested by the Deva Superior Light;
The following Devas gathered upon Buddha's descent:
The four Caturmaharajas and Sakrodevanamindra,
Yamadevas, Tusitadevas,
Sunirmitas, Paranirmita-vasavartins,
The Lord of Saha-world--Brahma,
Brahmaparisadyas and Brahmapurohitas,
Abhasvaras and Parittabhas,
Apramanabhas and Suddhavasadeva,
Together with Akanistha,
Mahesvara and the other Devas,
Forsaking the pleasure of Dhyana-samadhi,
From Buddha's birth till his Nirvana,
They constantly served Buddha with pure intentions.

The Kali Age with little merits has only few Saints,
The incarnations of Bodhisattvas with Great Vows,
Just as the Devas pleaded for Buddha's incarnation,
I pray that you Devas plead more of them to come soon.
Even though Saints may be born in the Kali Age,
It is difficult for them to remain free from pollutions,
Just as the Devas served the Buddha,
I pray that you Devas protect them well and tight.

After Buddha had entered the womb, Suddhavasadeva
Showed half of his body to Buddha's King-father,
Reporting this rare event in stanzas.
The Yamadevas presented a wonderful palace,
For the Holy Queen to dwell in.
After Buddha's birth the devakanyas
Held wonderful oil to bath the Holy Mother,
They offered Buddha Heavenly clothings and jewelry.
Brahma Sakra then transformed himself into a very fine Monapokaya,
Praising with wonderful and auspicious phrases.
Mahesvara and Suddhavasadeva
Presented huge offerings to celebrate.

Buddha was brought to the Palace from where he was born,
The Devakanyas held fans made of peacock feathers,
Sprinkled perfume along the way,
Or held jeweled flowers or jeweled necklaces,
Each kind has five hundred thousand Devakanyas,
The Devas of Rupadhatu held jeweled banners,
The Devas of Kamadhatu held jeweled canopies,
Like clouds they filled the whole sky.

After Buddha had married his wife they lived in the secluded palace.
With stanzas the Devas persuaded him to leave home and become a monk.
The Tusita-Deva named Should-Leave-Home
Flew to the palace hall and recited wonderful stanzas,
Praising the superior merits of pravraj.
He also affected the musical instruments in the palace
To sound without being played the pleadings for pravraj.

Buddha toured the four gates of the city to observe.
The Venerable Suddhavasadeva appeared
At the east gate as an old man to affect the Buddha.
At the south gate a man with various diseases,
At the west gate a dead man,
At the north gate a Mahabhiksu
Preaching to Buddha the Dharma of Pravraj.
Buddha then requested his father to let him leave home.
The King father picked brave and fierce soldiers,
Night and day they guarded the palace in and out,
The double gates would sound and disturb ten Lis,
Without help from the Devas, how could one escape?
The Yaksas generals, twenty-eight in number,
All waited for orders at the palace of Vaisravana.
Venerable Pure Wisdom Deva granted his spiritual power
To make all the brave soldiers sound asleep;
Venerable Adornment Play Deva
Made all elephants and horses sleep in silence;
Venerable Glorious Wisdom Deva granted his spiritual power
To pave a jeweled path in the sky;
Venerable Dharma Activities Deva granted his spiritual power
To make those palace maids look ugly;
Venerable Development Deva granted his spiritual power
To make Buddha alone suddenly awake at midnight;
Sakro-devanamindra showed the path
When the Pusya star met the moon,
At midnight Buddha indeed awoke and got up,
Calmly he came out and stood with folded palms,
Rightfully thinking of all the Buddhas in the ten directions;
The four Caturmaharajas came with their Deva followers,
Sakro-devanamindra stood in the sky.
All the Devas simultaneously made loud pleas:
This is just the right time! Please leave home soon!

After Chandaka had brought Chantze to Buddha,
They walked through the sky and the earth quaked in six manners.
All the people inside or outside the palace did not know this.
During the night they walked for six yojanas;
Having arrived the Uruvilva-kasyapa forest,
And bad farewell to Chandaka and Chantze,
Alone and far away from the majestic place,
In the forest only the Devas were so dear!
Who would know to serve Buddha then?
Thanks to the Devas for having served Buddha for men.
Knowing that Buddha disliked his luxurious clothings,
Venerable Suddhavasadeva offered him kasaya;
Only then did Buddha proclaim that his pravraj was complete.

During the Kali Age it is difficult to cultivate Nice Roots,
Being greedily attached to the five desires it is difficult for people to renounce the worldly things,
Some people are of shallow root yet aspire to the profound path,
Pretending to be Bodhisattvas they don't drop out from the society,
Or although they have left home and entered the monastic life,
They have led the multitude too early to practice on their own.
Those who have left home and monastery both,
[Those who have entered the monastery and kept silas as Buddha taught,]
Are the superior wonderful Dharma instruments,
May the venerable Devas secretly protect them,
As you protected Buddha's genuine pravraj.

For six years Buddha diligently practiced dhyana,
Daily he ate only one grain of rice and same of sesame,
He was constantly protected by the Devas,
Papiyan watched for his mistakes but could not find any.
A sujata girl wanted to make offerings to a Brahmacarin,
Suddhavasadeva hid the body of the Brahmacarin,
The sujata girl saw only the Buddha's presence,
She offered him the milk porridge of auspicious sign.
Buddha went to the Vajra Seat of Bodhimandala,
Sixteen venerable Devas protected this place,
Their names are, respectively, Turn-to-progress Deva,
Venerable Ajita Deva, Dana Deva,
Venerable Respectful Love Deva, Brave-Power Deva,
Venerable Sugata Deva, Dharanimdhara Deva,
Venerable Light-emitting Deva, Vimala Deva,
Dharmasvara Deva, Dharmadhvaja Deva,
Auspicious Activities Deva, Apratihata Deva,
Maha-alamkaraka Deva, Vimala-Sila Deva,
Pundarika-Prabha Deva, all sixteen of them
Had attained the stage of avaivartika,
Constantly and devotedly they protected the Bodhimandala.
Sakra then transformed into a grass cutter
Who offered the auspicious Kusa grass as Buddha's cushion.
Mahabrahma presented huge offerings
Of countless jewels that filled the sky.
After Buddha had sat on the Vajra Seat he made the Great Vow.
The Devas of the six devalokas stayed in the south-east,
Respectfully and Carefully they were guarding against hindrances.
The Devas surrounded Buddha in four directions, above and below,
They respectfully protected the Buddha.
Papiyan led the male and female devils,
Did their best to threaten with force or entice with charms.
Venerable Suddhavasadeva gave them warnings and admonitions.
Countless Devas threw heavenly flowers,
Praising the fact that Buddha was unaffected by the devils.

Upon Buddha's Ful1 Enlightenment he showed auspicious signs. The Devas were happy and offered many treasures,
The Devakanyas sang hymns in praise of Buddha:
After Suddhavasadeva had praised, so did Apramanabha,
After Brahmadeva had praised, so did Paranirmita-vasavartin,
After Sunirmita had praised, so did Tusitadevas,
After Sakra had praised, so did the four Caturmaharajas.
They also presented countless huge offerings.

During the Kali Age a practitioner may encounter many obstacles,
The practitioners have many desires and thus become accessible to the devils,
The perverted views and governmental harassments attack him from outside,
The hardships, sicknesses and doubts attack him from within,
The five skandhas are vehemently active and difficult to get rid of,
The essence of realization is profound, subtle and difficult to achieve,
So many are the practitioners yet so few are the accomplished ones,
Don't you Devas feel pitiful seeing this?
Just as you protected Sakyamuni Buddha's perfect accomplishment,
May you venerable Devas diligently guard the practitioners
So that they are free from the hindrances of devils,
[So that they may peacefully stay in the monastery,]
They soon accomplish the Evolution and the Perfect Yogas,
[They, adhering to the teachings of Buddha, soon become accomplished,]
They fully possess the six supernatural abilities and the ten powers,
And they exemplify the fruitful merits of Vajrayana.
[And they exemplify the fruitful merits of Bodhi-path.]

After Buddha had achieved Enlightenment he remained in silence.
Papiyan did dare to plead for Buddha's Nirvana.
The conch-tuft Brahma, Lord of the Saha-world,
Pleaded to Buddha on behalf of us, the suffering multitude.
Time and again he pleaded Buddha thrice to turn the Wheel of Dharma.
How could the then muddle-headed mankind
Know to plead as Brahma did?
Now that Buddha Dharma is spreading among human beings,
Thanks to the Brahma who originated the spreading of Dharmas!

After Buddha had granted his permission to turn the Dharma Wheel,
The four Devas who guarded the Bodhi-tree:
Dharma-receiver, Rasmiprobhasa, Dharma-enjoyment
And Dharma-activities again asked:
Where should Buddha turn the Dharma Wheel for the very first time?
The Devas of devalokas or rupalokas
Held jeweled banners or jeweled canopies
To adorn and sanctify Mrgadava.
Eighty-four thousand jeweled Lion-Seats
Were merged into one by Buddha to sit while preaching.

After Buddha had converted the five venerable Bhiksus,
He manifested eighteen transformations to convert Kasyapa.
Sakra exhibited his brightness while listening to the Dharma.
After Buddha had received offerings he wanted to take a bath,
Sakra pointed to the ground and there a pond became.
Sakra knew that Buddha wanted to wash his robe,
So he brought a huge fine square rock.
Sakra knew that Buddha wanted to dry his robe in the Sun,
Again he brought a hexagonal rock to be used.

Afterwards Buddha turned the Dharma Wheel at various locations,
Up to the heavens or down into the ocean,
Until his Nirvana under the Sala-trees,
No time and no where were the Devas not
The guardian protectors of Sakyamuni Buddha.

In the Kali Age the devil's army has strong power,
The Bodhi-place everywhere has many obstacles,
Kings and government officials mostly are of perverted views,
Well-learned scholars occasionally obtain the faith,
Yet they seldom practice according to the Dharma.
Sometimes there are virtuous men with noble aspirations who
[All the monasteries that are well-established]
Would like to establish the unsurpassable great Dharma banner,
But the financial as well as man power are often insufficient.
May the Devas remember the activities of Sakyamuni Buddha.
How strenuous did you guard Buddha?
Now Dharma is like a delicate thread,
Such a Dharma vein is most precious!
You Devas should exert more protection power than you did for Buddha.
Multiply your efforts and all come to support
So that the virtuous men with great aspirations,
[So that the Dharma propagators with great aspirations,]
Possess longevity, good luck and superb authority,
Become capable of continuing the Holy Karma of Sakyamuni Buddha,
And revive the great banner of Buddha Dharma.
I pray that you Devas do protect us well and tight!
I pray that you Devas do protect us well and tight!

In the autumn of 1953, Chen Chien Ming composed this hymn in his hermitage in India.

The first version was written for the practitioners; now it is amended to be used by the monasteries in the summer of 1983.

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