These three verses contain the qualities of the Triple Gem and were taught to a boy named Chatta by the Supreme Buddha who asked him to go for refuge.
The Sage of the Sakyan clan, the Supreme Buddha, who completed the journey to Nibbana, is the best among humans. The Blessed One crossed over Samsara with his excellent wisdom and effort. Go for refuge to this Great Teacher, the Supreme Buddha.
The Dhamma, taught by the Supreme Buddha, helps beings remove desires, craving, and sorrows. This sweet, well explained, well analyzed Dhamma is never disagreeable. Go for refuge to this great teaching, the Supreme Dhamma.
The Blessed One’s noble disciples consist of the Four Pairs and the Eight Individuals. Those who offer gifts to these people gain fruitful results. Go for refuge to these excellent disciples, the Supreme Sangha.
After Chatta’s death he was reborn as a deva. One day he went to see the Supreme Buddha. In order for others to learn about merit, the Supreme Buddha then questioned him in the following way.
Neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the star Phusa is as bright as your mansion. Your large bright mansion shines in the sky brilliantly. What heavenly world did you come from today?
The radiance of your mansion can be seen for more than two thousand kilometers. This beautiful mansion shines both at night and day – pure, bright, and brilliant.
Around the palace there are beautiful flowers – red lotuses, white lotuses, and water lilies. Golden nets with fancy carvings are hanging there; they too shine like the sun. The mansion is decorated with divine red and yellow cloth and filled with the sweet fragrance of aloe, piyangu, and sandalwood. The mansion is surrounded by devatas with bright golden-colored bodies. It looks like the beautiful night sky covered by stars.
Devas and devatas are different colors here. Their bodies and hair are decorated with various flowers and ornaments. Golden flowers release a sweet smell when the breeze blows.
How did you receive these wonderful things? What meritorious action did you do to have gained this wonderful result? Is it because of your virtue or restrained life? Could you please explain it to me?
One day a boy was walking on a road. You, the Great Teacher, met him and advised him by preaching the Dhamma. That boy, Chatta, promised to follow you, the Great Teacher, like a precious gem.
I was that boy, Bhante. When you asked me to go for refuge to the Buddha, the Great Victor, the Dhamma and the Noble Sangha, at first I told you that I did not know what they were. Once you had explained them to me, I went for refuge to the Triple Gem.
Wise people do not praise the actions of evil people who kill. You asked me if I knew about the precept of abstaining from killing living beings. At first I told you that I did not know about it. Once you had explained it to me, I observed that precept.
You asked me if I knew about the precept of not taking others’ belongings if they are not given to us. At first I told you that I did not know about it. Once you had explained it to me, I observed that precept.
You asked me if I knew about the precept of not going to others’ wives since it is a very low thing. At first I told you that I did not know about it. Once you had explained it to me, I observed that precept.
You asked me if I knew about the precept of not saying things as if they were true when I know they are not. Lying is not praised by the wise. At first I told you that I did not know about it. Once you had explained it to me, I observed that precept.
You asked me if I knew about the precept of not using intoxicants, by which one loses mindfulness. At first I told you that I did not know about it. Once you had explained it to me, I observed that precept.
On that day, I observed the Five Precepts and followed the Great Teacher’s Dhamma. Later, when I reached an intersection on the road, I was surrounded by a gang of robbers. They killed me just to take my money.
Going for refuge and observing the Five Precepts is the only merit I recollect doing. I did not obtain any other merit in my life. As a result of those meritorious deeds, I was reborn in this Tavatimsa Heaven and now experience all the happiness that I wish for.
I kept those precepts for just a moment. Look at the amazing result of practicing the Dhamma! When devas with lesser pleasures than I have seen me shining brilliantly with superior pleasures, they wish to be like me.
Think about the excellence of a very brief teaching. I went to heaven and received divine happiness. If that is the case, I think those who listen to this Dhamma frequently will surely attain the state of fearlessness, the supreme bliss of Nibbana.
Even if a very small meritorious deed is practiced in this Dhamma, very great results can be expected. Look at the god Chatta who collected merit, lighting up heaven like the sun illuminating the earth.
Some gods get together and talk about me saying, “What are the meritorious deeds that he did to have gained these results? What kind of good things should be practiced? When we gain a human birth again, we will observe the Precepts and practice the Dhamma.”
My great teacher helped me very much. He was compassionate towards me and came to meet me, under the hot sun. Today I have come to you again, Great Teacher. You are the truth in this world. Please be compassionate towards me. I would like to listen to the Dhamma.
When the disciples in this teaching abandon sensual desire, desire for existence, and delusion, they will never come back to sleep in the mother’s womb. They attain final Nibbana at passing away and become calm.