1. Álavaka.-The king of Álavi. He was in the habit of holding a hunt once in seven days to keep his army in trim. One day when he was hunting, the quarry escaped from where the king lay in wait and, according to custom, it became the king's duty to capture it. He, therefore, followed the animal for three leagues, killed it and, having cut it in half, carried it in a pingo. On his way back he happened to pass under the banyan tree which was the abode of the Yakkha Álavaka. The Yakkha had been granted a boon by the Yakkha-king, which allowed him to eat anybody who came within the shadow of the tree. Accordingly, he seized the king, but later released him on obtaining his promise that he would provide him at regular intervals with a human being and a bowl of food (SnA.i.217ff).

For the rest of the story see Álavaka Yakkha.

2. Álavaka.-The Yakkha referred to above.

King Álavaka, with the help of the Mayor of the town (Nagaraguttika) and his ministers, was able to keep his promise for some time, by sending criminals to the Yakkha. The Yakkha's power was such that at the sight of him men's bodies became as soft as butter. Soon there were no criminals left, and each household was forced to contribute one child for sacrifice to the Yakkha.

Then women, about to bring forth children, began to leave the king's capital. Twelve years passed in this manner and the only child left was the king's own son, Álavaka Kumára. When the king learnt this, he ordered the child to be dressed in all splendour and taken to the Yakkha. The Buddha, with his Eye of Compassion, saw what was going to happen and went to the Yakkha's abode.

Álavaka was away at a meeting of the Yakkhas in Himavá. His doorkeeper Gadrabha admitted the Buddha, after warning him of the Yakkha's unmannerly nature. The Buddha went in and sat down on Álavaka's throne while Gadrabha went to Himavá to announce to his master the Buddha's arrival. While the Buddha was there, preaching to Álavaka's women-folk, the Yakkhas Sátágira and Hemavata, passing through the air on their way to the assembly in Himavá, being made aware of the Buddha's presence by their inability to fly over him, descended to Álavaka's palace and made obeisance to the Buddha before resuming their journey.

When Álavaka heard from Gadrabha and from Sátágira and Hemavata of the Buddha's visit, he was greatly incensed and uttering aloud his name, he hurried to his abode. There with all the various supernatural powers he could command he tried to dislodge the Buddha from his seat, but without success even his special weapon, the Dussávudha being of no avail against the Buddha. Then, approaching the Buddha, Álavaka asked him to leave his house, which the Buddha did. He then summoned the Buddha back and he came. Three times this happened and three times the Buddha obeyed, judging compliance to be the best way of softening his wrath, but the fourth time the Buddha refused to return. Thereupon Álavaka expressed his desire to ask questions of the Buddha, hoping thereby to fatigue him. The Buddha agreed, and when he had answered all the questions to Álavaka's satisfaction, the latter became a Sotápanna (SnA.i.239).

At dawn of day, King Álavaka's men brought the young prince, Álavaka-Kumara to the Yakkha, as sacrifice. Hearing the Yakkha's shouts of joy at the close of the Buddha's sermon, they greatly marvelled. When they announced to Álavaka that they had brought their offering, and handed him the child, he was much ashamed because of the Buddha's presence. Álavaka gave the child to the Buddha, who blessed him and gave him back to the king's messengers. The boy, having passed from the Yakkha's hands to those of the Buddha, and from there to the king's men, thereafter became known as Hatthaka Álavaka (SnA.i.239-40).

When the king and the citizens heard that the Yakkha had become a follower of the Buddha, they built for him a special abode near that of Vessavana and provided him with endless gifts of flowers, perfumes, etc., for his use. The story of Álavaka, of which the above is a summary, is given in full in SnA.i.217-40 and in SA.i.244-59. It is also given in brief in AA.i.211-12 and with some difference in detail.

Álavaka's abode was thirty leagues from Sávatthi, and the Buddha covered the whole journey in one day (SnA.i.220). The abode was near a banyan tree and on the ground (bhummattham,) well protected with walls, etc., and covered on the top by a metal net, it was like a cart enclosed on all sides. It was three leagues in extent, and over it lay the road to Himavá by air (SnA.i.222). Ascetics, having seen the glittering palace, often called to find out what it was. Álavaka would ask them questions regarding their faith, and when they could not answer he would assume a subtle form and, entering their hearts, would drive them mad (SnA.i.228).

Álavaka shouted his name before starting from Himavá to vanquish the Buddha. He stood with his left foot on Manosilátala and his right on Kelásakúta. His shout was heard throughout Jambudípa and was one of the four shouts, mentioned in tradition, as having travelled so far (SnA.i.223; for the others see Punnaka, Vissakamma and Kusá). Álavaka had a special weapon, the Dussávudha, comparable to Sakka's Vajirávudha, Vessavana's Gadávudha and Yama's Nayanávudha. It had the power, if it were thrown into the sky, of stopping rain for twelve years and if cast on the earth of destroying all trees and crops for a like period. If hurled into the sea it would dry up all the water, and it could shatter Sineru into pieces. It was made of cloth and is described as a vatthávudha, and it was worn as a part of the Yakkha's upper garment (uttariya).

There are three salient features in the story of Álavaka which link it closely to the large circle of stories grouped by Professor Watanabe (J.P.T.S.1909-10, pp.240ff) under the title of Kalmásapáda stories:

The conversion of Álavaka is considered one of the chief incidents of the Buddha's life (E.g., J.iv.180; vi.329; Mhv.xxx.84).

Álavaka's name appears in the Atánátiya Sutta, among the Yakkhas to whom followers of the Buddha should appeal for protection in time of need (D.iii.205). (See also Álavaka Sutta.)

1. Álavaka Sutta.-Records the eight questions asked of the Buddha by Álavaka Yakkha and the answers given by the Buddha. It is said (SnA.i.228) that Álavaka's parents had learnt the questions and their answers from Kassapa Buddha and had taught them to Álavaka in his youth; but he could not remember them and, in order that they might be preserved, he had them written on a gold leaf with red paint, and this he stored away in his palace. When the Buddha answered the questions he found that the answers were exactly the same as those given by Kassapa (SnA.i.231).

The sutta appears both in Sutta Nipáta (pp.31-3) and in the Samyutta Nikáya (i.213ff). The Álavaka Sutta is also included in the collection of Parittas.

2. Álavaka Sutta.-A conversation between the Buddha and Hatthaka Álavaka in which the Buddha states that he is among those who enjoy real happiness. A.i.136f.

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