A Study of Jayamaṅgala Gāthā, or verses on the Buddha’s Victory and Blessing
The Jayamaṅgala Gāthā is one of the most frequently recited texts in the Southeast Asian Buddhist world. It is usually recited on important occasions like a marriage ceremony, or when setting out on an important journey, or when inaugurating any venture of significance. The contents of the stanzas recited clearly show that the ritual is intended to bring happiness and prosperity to the persons concerned or the successful completion of a project. Hence, these verses have come to be called “the stanzas of success and prosperity,” While the origin of these stanzas is shrouded in mystery, it can be deduced that they were composed in Sri Lanka by a devoted Buddhist poet, during the 11th and 13th centuries.
These stanzas are regarded as efficacious because they relate eight occasions, when the Buddha triumphed over his powerful opponents. The stanzas consist of eight episodes: 1. Māra defeated by the Buddha, 2. Āḷavaka converted by the Buddha, 3. pacifying of Nāḷāgiri by loving-kindness, 4. conversion of Aṅgulimāla, 5. exposure of Ciñcā’s lies by serenity, 6. Saccaka humbled by wisdom, 7. Nandopānanda tamed by Mahā-Moggallāna, 8. Baka Brahma cured of conceit by wisdom. These eight verses recall the great events which took place between the Buddha and his powerful opponents, who had tried to kill, or humiliate, or defeat him. They also show how the Buddha overcame all these disturbances peacefully through his great virtues; and finally how the Buddha converted his opponents to follow the righteous way of living. One who recites these verses regularly and mindfully following the example given by the Buddha, can overcome many difficulties.
Each time the Buddha triumphed over his adversaries, he left them with realizations, and in awe of the pure powers of generosity, patience, self-control, loving-kindness, serenity, truthfulness and other virtues. One can use the gatha as a reflection on the Buddha’s qualities (Buddhānussati). Jayamaṅ- gala Gāthā is a set of eight benedictory stanzas extolling the virtues of the Buddha. It may also be cited as a popular rite partly related to the chanting of paritta (protection). It is learned by novice monks in monastic education.