The demon, Alavaka, lived in his own mansion at a banyan tree near Alavi. He was a demon of great power, who was very conceited and ferocious. He possessed a special weapon in the form of a fabulous white robe. When he threw it up into the sky, there would be no rain for twelve years; if he let it fall on the earth, all plants would die and never grow again in twelve years; if he threw it into the sea, the sea would dry up, and if he threw it at a mountain as big as Meru, the mountain would break into pieces. He never paid respect and obeisance to any ascetic and even to his parents. He had the permission of the deva-king, Vessavana, to kill and eat anyone who came into the area covered by the shade of his banyan tree at noon.
Once the King of Alavi happened to rest under the banyan tree, on returning from hunting deer alone. But the demon spared the King’s life as the latter promised to send a human being and a pot of rice to the demon every day. On reaching the palace, the King, at the suggestion of the Mayor, sent a prisoner, who was sentenced to death, to the demon every day.
When no prisoner was left in the prison, the King let his men put some jewels on the road and arrested the person who picked up those jewels. And the person was sent to Alavaka with a pot of rice as before. Then no one dared to pick up jewels on the road. Next the King, after consulting with his ministers, forced people to give up their young babies, one of whom was to be sent daily to the demon.
After twelve years there was no child left, except the King’s own son, to be sent to the demon. The King ordered his men to snatch his son from the queen, and to send the prince to the demon the next day.
On that evening, the Buddha went alone to Alavaka’s mansion in order to admonish him. At that time Alavaka was at the meeting of demons, and the Buddha waited for him, sitting on his throne. The demon Gadrabha, the door-keeper, informed Alavaka of the Buddha’s visit. The two demons, Hemavata and Satagiri, seeing the Buddha giving a discourse to Alavaka’s demon attendants at his place, also told him to pay homage to the Buddha. Once he heard the news he became furious, and he stamped his right foot on the Kelasa Mountain. Standing at the peak of the mountain, he shouted out his name loudly: “It’s me, Alavaka”. The whole world shook in fear at his shout.
When he reached his residence, he found his wives and attendants listening to the Buddha’s teaching, and so he became more furious. So he sent a violent storm to kill the Buddha. But the storm was of no avail. He made the rain fall heavily so that the Buddha would be drowned. His attempt was again in vain. Furthermore, he caused the showers of stones, weapons, fire, hot ash, sand, and mud-flows to fall one after another on to the Buddha. But all these did not hurt the Buddha. So finally he created a thick darkness to frighten the Buddha. However, the Buddha was neither frightened nor harmed by all these attacks.
Then Alavaka led a demon army with various weapons. The troops marched towards the Buddha, assuming various frightening forms and making loud roars. However, the demon-troops dared not go near the Buddha just as flies dare not rest on a red-hot iron rod.
Alavaka charged the Buddha incessantly in several ways until it was beyond midnight, yet he could not defeat the Buddha. Thus he used his last weapon, Dussavuda, the fabulous white robe.
The special weapon, Dussavuda, flew towards the Buddha like thunder and lightning amidst smoke and fire. Nevertheless, when it got near the Buddha it became an ordinary piece of rug. Alavaka could not understand why. Then an idea fleshed upon him that he failed on account of the power of loving-kindness which the Buddha radiated upon all beings. So he decided to destroy that power of the Buddha by accusing the Buddha thus: “Oh, Samana Gotama, why do you trespass on my residence without my permission? Get out of my residence now”.
The Buddha, realizing that a violent person could never be admonished violently, He went out readily. Alavaka thought that he made a mistake in attacking the Buddha who could be persuaded easily. So he became mild and gentle. But in order to test the Buddha whether He was really humble, he again gave the order: “Samana Gotama, get into my residence again”. Again the Buddha complied with the command. The Buddha went out of and entered the residence three times as commanded. But on the fourth time, knowing Alavaka’s intention to seize the Buddha’s legs and throw Him to the other bank of the Ganga River, He refused to leave the residence.
Thereupon, Alavaka planned to ask the Buddha questions and throw Him away to the other bank of the Ganga River if He could not answer the questions. The parents of Alavaka learnt some doctrinal questions and answers from Kassapa Buddha, and they passed this knowledge on to Alavaka. As time passed by he could remember only the questions and forgot the answers. So he wrote the questions so that he would not forget them. These were very profound questions and they could be answered only by the Buddha. Alavaka had asked these questions to some ascetics who came to look at his grand mansion. When they were at a loss to give correct answers, Alavaka seized their legs and threw them away to the other bank of the Ganga River. So now he demanded the Buddha to answer his questions.
First he asked: “Oh, Samana Gotama, what is the best treasure in this world? What is the practice that brings happiness? What is the most delicious taste, and what kind of livelihood is the noblest?”
The Buddha answered immediately: “In this world, Alavaka, to have faith in the Three Gems and in Kamma and Its Results is the best treasure; the practice of the ten meritorious deeds can bring happiness; telling the truth is the most delicious taste; and living on the knowledge which brings forth benefits in the present the future existences is the noblest”.
The Buddha proceeded to answer his other questions. While listening to the answers, which were given with compassion and loving-kindness, Alavaka became calm and gentle. Finally he was enlightened as a Stream-winner (Sotapanna).
Early in the next morning the King’s men came to the demon and handed the Prince to him. He was ashamed to accept the offer in the presence of the Buddha, so he offered the Prince to the Buddha. Later the Prince grew up and named Hatthalavaka, who practiced the four types of Sangaha Dhamma* and worked for the promotion and propagation of Sasana.
In this way, the Buddha managed to subdue the ferocious demon Alavaka. The people of Alavi and eighty-four thousand human-beings, devas and brahmas were liberated from round of rebirths.
Note: Sangaha Dhamma* means helping others with gift (dana), and with pleasant speech (piyavasa), being benevolent (attacariya) and being impartial (samanahattata).
Source : posted by Ye' Thu Aung (Buddhism for Beginners)