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Manoa 16.1 (2004) 209

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To Rule the Universe

In the beginning, the gods and goddesses held an election to determine who would be best suited to rule the universe. The first candidate was Agnidevaputra, the God of Fire. "I am the strongest," he said, "so I should rule. Witness my power." Then, as he began to chant in a loud voice, a huge fire rose up from the center of the universe and began to burn everywhere. The other gods and goddesses trembled with fear, and they all raised their hands to elect Agnidevaputra. All the deities, that is, except Valahakedeputra, the God of Water.

Valahakedeputra said, "I can control fire." And immediately, he created a huge deluge to extinguish the fire. As the floodwaters rose higher and higher, all the deities raised their hands to vote for him, except Saradadevi, the Goddess of Art and Wisdom.

Saradadevi said, "Dear friends, fire and water can frighten and kill people, but I give birth to beauty. When I begin to dance, you will relax and completely forget about fire and water." Saradadevi then danced and sang, and all the gods and goddesses became entranced. Instead of drinking water through their mouths, they began pouring wine into their ears, eyes, and noses. Awed by Saradadevi's power, all the deities raised their hands, except Gandharva, the God of Celestial Music.

Gandharva said, "Woman can overcome man, but man can also overcome woman." Then he began to play his heavenly guitar and sing, and all the deities swooned as the music flowed through the hall. As if in a stupor, they all raised their hands, except Santidevaputra, the God of Peace, Mindfulness, and Clear Comprehension.

Santidevaputra said, "I am the God of Peace. I always practice mindfulness and clear comprehension. Whether you vote for me or not, I rule myself. To rule the universe, you must first rule yourself. To rule yourself, you must be able to rule your own mind. To rule your mind, you must practice mindfulness and clear comprehension."

All of the gods and goddesses recognized Santidevaputra's strength and elected him unanimously. They understood that peace is the strongest force in the world.

Maha Ghosananda was elected Somteja (Supreme Patriarch) of Cambodian Buddhism in 1988 and has been nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is also a scholar and translator of fifteen languages.



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