The Story Behind Mangala Sutta
The word “Mangala” literally means “blessings”, “auspicious signs” and “good omen”. Every one including the devas (gods) wants to know what constitutes a “blessing”. For twelve years they argued about it and could not come to an agreement. Some thought that “blessing” refers to what is pleasurable to the senses- things that are pleasing to the eyes, ears, nose, taste and touch, but not all of them are of the same opinion.
The devas of Tavatimsa heaven then approached Sakka, King of Devas, for a solution. Sakka suggested that the Buddha be consulted. Consequently, in the middle of the night, a deva with his retinues, came to visit the Buddha at Jetavana monastery. He asked the Buddha for the meaning of “blessing”. In response, the Buddha delivered a discourse known as Mangala Sutta in which 38 highest blessings are enumerated.
Though the Mangala Sutta was not delivered as protective discourse, all Buddhists hold it high esteem and it is the first sutta to be recited in any paritta recital for a very special reason. Different from the conventional ideas of blessing, these thirty eight blessings are ethical and spiritual in nature. When a person applies them to his daily life he will see the rich result immediately. What greater blessings can one ask for?
This discourse is found in the Sutta-nipata, Khuddakapatha and is normally chanted for blessings and prosperity.