1. Whatever beings are here assembled, Whether terrestrial or celestial, May all beings be glad. Moreover, may they attentively Listen to what is said:
2. Therefore, pay heed all you beings, Show your friendliness to humankind, Who day and night bring you offerings. Hence, protect them diligently.
Here’s my personal view
Superficially, the 1st and 2nd verse appeared to be an invocation for supernatural beings to take heed. However, if we look at the background event, it was recorded that huge ceremonial rituals had already been conducted previously.
Unfortunately, those prayers and rituals did not yield any results. At their wits end, the lords in Vesali decided to invite Buddha. Taking this into context, the verses when recited in public would reinforce and remind one of useless rituals.
I imagined that; if I was present at that time, I would have witnessed the nobles conducting grand sacrificial ceremonial rituals to pray for rain and stop the plague. I would have witnessed the situation getting worse. Then a newly acclaimed religious figure (Gautama Buddha) was invited and He came with 500 monks. They also conducted a ritual too.
In fact a very simple one! Just sprinkling of water from an alms bowl! The leading monk was chanting….IT MUST BE SOME SPECIAL MANTRA. I must try to hear what he is chanting. They are repeating it over and over again while walking the city grounds.
Then I followed the procession and heard the above 2 verses.
In a way, the verse is ironic and seems to have a bit of sarcasm. Previously, the government had spent much resources trying to appease the supernatural by conducting extensive rituals.
Here, a group of monk was using the cheapest of resources, 1 bowl of water! The 2nd verse definitely would remind me of the useless sacrificial ceremony that was conducted previously. Furthermore, this group of monks seemed confident that they can communicate with the supernatural and seek their attention! I would be impressed and will want to hear what they have to say.
I do not know about you.But I find the personality of the Buddha witty and humorous. Without offending the population who was on teeter edge of mass hysteria, he managed to educate with compassion and humor.
From the mysticism perspective, it was recorded that Buddha arrived at Vesali with a retinue of spiritual beings. (Both celestial and terrestrial) These beings treasure the holy Dharma more than anything else.
I think it makes sense because they also have mental sufferings. All their heavenly and supernatural attainments cannot make them completely happy. Therefore they like to be close to Buddha and listen to his teachings.
Seriously, we cannot expect heavenly beings to be tempted by our mundane sacrificial offerings right? To use a metaphor, our ceremonial ritual offerings is like trying to impress a billionaire with a piece of biscuit that was picked from the ground.
In Buddhist mysticism, what is more important is our mind and spiritual thoughts. They have to be pure. We must have strong refuge in the Triple Gems.Our focus and concentration must be strong. Then our prayers will be heard and perhaps entertained.