Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Long Discourses

30. Description of the World

Chapter 7: The Four God Kings

Geography

1. The Buddha addressed the monks, “A thousand yojanas to the east of Sumeru the mountain king is God King Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s city named *Bhadrottamā, which is 6,000 yojanas across. It has seven fortress walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations made of the seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

2. “A thousand yojanas to the south of Mount Sumeru is the God King Virūḍhaka’s city named Sudarśana, which is 6,000 yojanas across. It has seven fortress walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations made of the seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

3. “A thousand yojanas to the west of Mount Sumeru is the God King Virūpākṣa’s city called Cūḷasudarśana, which is 6,000 yojanas across. It has seven fortress walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations made of the seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

4. “A thousand yojanas to the north of Mount Sumeru is the God King Vaiśravaṇa’s three cities. The first is called Terrible, the second is called Heavenly Respect, and the third is called Refuge of Many. Each of them is 6,000 yojanas across. They have seven fortress walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations made of the seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

5. “North of the city Refuge to Many, there is a forest park called Kapīvanta, which is 4,000 yojanas across. That park has seven walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations made of the seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

6. “Between that park and the city, there’s a lake called Nalinī, which is forty yojanas across. Its water is clear and unpolluted. It has steps made of the seven treasures on its banks, and seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations made of the seven treasures. Blue, yellow, red, and white lotus flowers grow in it, and the colors mix together and shine at a distance of half a yojana. Their fragrance is also sweet-smelling for half a yojana. Those flowers also have roots like wheel hubs, and they produce sap that’s white as milk and tastes sweet as honey … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

7. “Except for the palaces of the Sun and Moon, the palace halls of the four god kings are forty yojanas across. Those palaces have seven walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling them with decorations made of the seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

8. “Those palace halls are forty yojanas, twenty yojanas, or at least five yojanas across. From the city Refuge to Many, there’s a treasure stairway that goes to the city Bhadrottamā. There’s a stairway that leads to the city Sudarśana. There’s a stairway that leads to the city Cūḷasudarśana. There’s a stairway that leads to the city Terrible and the city Heavenly Respect. There’s a stairway that leads to the park Kapīvanta. There’s a stairway that leads to Lake Nalinī. There’s also a stairway that leads to the palace of the great minister of the four god kings.

King Vaiśravaṇa

9. “If God King Vaiśravaṇa wants to go sightseeing at the park Kapīvanta, he thinks about God King Dhṛtarāṣṭra. God King Dhṛtarāṣṭra then thinks to himself, ‘King Vaiśravaṇa is thinking of me now!’ He gets himself ready and rides a treasure chariot to God King Vaiśravaṇa while surrounded by countless gandharva spirits. He goes before the God King and then stands to one side.

10. “King Vaiśravaṇa thinks about God King Virūḍhaka. God King Virūḍhaka then thinks to himself, ‘King Vaiśravaṇa is thinking of me now!’ He gets himself ready and rides a treasure chariot to God King Vaiśravaṇa while surrounded by countless kumbhāṇḍa spirits. He goes before the God King and then stands to one side.

11. “King Vaiśravaṇa thinks about God King Virūpākṣa. God King Virūpākṣa then thinks to himself, ‘King Vaiśravaṇa is thinking of me now!’ He gets himself ready and rides a treasure chariot to God King Vaiśravaṇa while surrounded by countless nāga spirits. He goes before the God King and then stands to one side.

12. “King Vaiśravaṇa thinks about the great minister of the four god kings. The great minister of the four god kings then thinks to himself, ‘King Vaiśravaṇa is thinking of me now!’ He gets himself ready and rides a treasure chariot to God King Vaiśravaṇa while surrounded by countless gods. He goes before the God King and then stands to one side.

13. “King Vaiśravaṇa then gets himself ready by putting on precious ornaments and clothes. He rides a treasure chariot to Kapīvanta Park while accompanied by countless hundreds of thousands of gods and spirits. A spontaneous wind blows the gate open, a spontaneous wind clears the ground, and another spontaneous wind scatters flowers on the ground until they’re knee-deep.

14. “The king entertains himself with the others there for one day, two days … or seven days. After their sightseeing is finished, they go back to their own palaces.

15. “King Vaiśravaṇa always has five great yakṣa spirits who attend to him left and right. The first is called Pañcāla, the second is called *Daṇḍala, the third is called Haimavata, the fourth is called *Dighra, and the fifth is called Sūciroma. These five yakṣa spirits are always following and serving him. Such are the fortune, virtue, and majesty of King Vaiśravaṇa.”


Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 31 May 2022