Itivuttaka: The Buddha’s Sayings

The Section of the Threes

83. The Five Prognostic Signs

This was said by the Lord…

“Bhikkhus, when a deva is due to pass away from a company of devas, five prognostic signs appear: his flower-garlands wither, his clothes become soiled, sweat is released from his armpits, his bodily radiance fades, and the deva takes no delight in his heavenly throne. The devas, observing the prognostic signs that this deva is due to pass away, encourage him in three things with the words: ‘Go from here, friend, to a good bourn. Having gone to a good bourn, gain that which is good to gain. Having gained that which is good to gain, become firmly established in it.’”

When this was said, a certain bhikkhu asked the Lord: “Venerable sir, what is reckoned by the devas to be a good bourn? What is reckoned by the devas to be a gain that is good to gain? What is reckoned by the devas to be firmly established?”

“It is human existence, bhikkhus, that is reckoned by the devas to be a good bourn. When a human being acquires faith in the Dhamma-and-Discipline taught by the Tathāgata, this is reckoned by the devas to be a gain that is good to gain. When faith is steadfast in him, firmly rooted, established and strong, not to be destroyedby any recluse or brahmin or deva or Māra or Brahmā or by anyone else in the world, this is reckoned by the devas to be firmly established.”

When a deva whose life is exhausted
Passes away from a deva-company,
The devas encourage him
In three ways with the words:

“Go, friend, to a good bourn,
To the fellowship of humans.
On becoming human acquire faith
Unsurpassed in the true Dhamma.

That faith made steadfast,
Become rooted and standing firm,
Will be unshakeable for life
In the true Dhamma well proclaimed.

Having abandoned misconduct by body,
Misconduct by speech as well,
Misconduct by mind, and whatever else
Is reckoned as a fault,

Having done much that is good
Both by body and by speech,
And done good with a mind
That is boundless and free from clinging,

With that merit as a basis
Made abundant by generosity,
You should establish other people
In the true Dhamma and the holy life.”

When the devas know that a deva
Is about to pass from their midst,
Out of compassion they encourage him:
“Return here, deva, again and again.”