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XXI:1 The power of the Ratana Sutta
Once, a famine broke out in Vesali. It began with a serious drought. There was an almost total failure of crops and many people died of starvation, followed by an epidemic of diseases. People could hardly cope with the disposal of the corpses. The stench of death was everywhere and it attracted evil spirits.
In their grief and sorrow, the people of Vesali tried to seek help from various sources but finally they decided to seek help from the Buddha. So a mission headed by Mahali, the Licchavi prince, requested King Bimbisara to invite the Buddha to pay a visit to Vesali and help them in their distress. Instead the king directed them to personally go and extend the invitation. The Enlightened One knew that his visit would be beneficial to many people, so he consented to go to Vesali.
The Buddha set out for Vesali with a large retinue of bhikkhus. As soon as he reached Vesali, heavy rains fell in torrents, thus cleansing the city. The Enlightened One was put up in a specially prepared rest-house. Sakka, king of the devas, came with his followers to pay homage to him and the evil spirits fled. That same evening the Buddha delivered the Ratana Sutta and requested Venerable Ananda to recite the same sutta while going round the city. Ananda did as he was told and as the protective verses (parittas) were being recited, many of those who were sick recovered. The Buddha delivered the same Sutta for seven consecutive days. At the end of the seventh day, everything returned to normal in Vesali. Heavy rains cleansed the city of the pollution. The Licchavi princes and the people of Vesali were very much relieved and were overjoyed. They were also very grateful to the Buddha.
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