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Translation from the Pali of the Vimanavatthu commentary. Stories and commentary on the urgent need to live in a way appropriate to avoiding a lower rebirth.
F rom U Ko Lay's Guide to Tipitaka:Vimana means mansion. Here it refers to celestial mansions gained by beings who have done acts of merit. In this text are eighty-five verses grouped in seven vaggas. In the first four vaggas, celestial females give an account of the acts of merit they have performed in previous existences as human beings and of their rebirth in deva realms where magnificent mansions await their appearance. In the last three vaggas the celestial males tell their stories.
The Venerable Maha Mogallana, who could visit the deva realm, brought back stories as told to him by the devas concerned and recounted them to the Buddha who confirmed the stories by supplying more background details to them. These discourses are given with a view to bringing out the fact that the human world offers plenty of opportunities for performing meritorious acts. The objective for such discourses was to refute the wrong views of those who believe that nothing exists after this life (the annihilationists) and those who maintain that there is no resultant effect to any action.
The vivid accounts of the lives of the devas in various deva abodes serve to show clearly that the higher beings are not immortals, nor creators, but are also evolved conditioned by the result of their previous meritorious deeds. They too are subject to the laws of anicca, dukkha, and anatta and have to strive themselves to achieve the deathless state of nibbana.