Once upon a time the city of Vesali was a city of splendor and magnificence and great wealth; numerous were the folk that dwelt therein, and the streets thereof were thronged with inhabitants; therein resided seven thousand and seven hundred and seven Warrior princes, who reigned by turns. For each of the seven thousand and seven hundred and seven princes was provided a separate place of residence; equal in number were the palaces and pagodas; equal in number were the parks and pools, that each might take his pleasure out of doors. But after a time the food-supply gave out and the crops failed and a famine ensued. Thus arose plagues three in number: the plague of famine, the plague of evil spirits, and the plague of disease.
Then the inhabitants of the city assembled and met together and said to the king: "One that is Supremely Enlightened, a Buddha, has arisen in the world, for he, the Exalted One, preaches a Doctrine that avails to the weal and welfare and happiness of all living beings. Moreover, he possesses great magical power and great supernatural power. If he but come hither, these plagues will instantly subside." Accordingly they approached the Exalted One, did reverence to him, and spoke thus: "Reverend Sir, three plagues have arisen at Vesali. If you but go thither, they will subside. Come, Reverend Sir, let us go thither." The Exalted One acceded to their request.
At eventide the Buddha took his stand at the gate of the city of Vesali and spoke thus to the Beloved Disciple Ananda: "Ananda, receive from me this Sutta of the Three Jewels [Buddha, Doctrine, Order of Monks], and recite it as a charm within the three walls of the city of Vesali, making the rounds thereof with the Licchavi princes." Elder Anada received the Sutta of the Three Jewels from the lips of the Buddha, took holy water in the Buddha's stone bowl, and went and took his stand at the gate of the city.
And standing at the gate of the city, Ananda meditated on all the Merits of the Buddha, beginning with his High Resolve; considering in turn the Ten Perfections of the Tathagata, the Ten Minor Perfections, and the Ten Major Perfections; the Five Great Sacrifices; the Three Meritorious Acts: in behalf of the world, in behalf of his kinsmen, and for the sake of Enlightenment; his Descent into the Womb in the last state of his existence; his Birth of Queen Maya; the Great Retirement from the World; the Great Struggle, the Conquest of Mara the Evil One on the Throne of Enlightenment under the Bo-tree, the Attainment of Omniscience, and the Nine Transcendent Conditions.
And when he had so done, he entered the city, and during the three watches of the night went about within the walls thereof reciting the Sutta of the Three Jewels as a charm.
"Ye spirits that are in this place assembled,
"Therefore, O spirits, be ye all attentive,
"Of all the wealth in this world or the next world,
The moment he uttered the words Of all the wealth in this world or the next world, and threw the water upwards, it fell upon the evil spirits. From the third stanza on, drops of water resembling tiny balls of silver rose into the air and fell upon the sick men. Straightway the sickness of those men was cured, and rising to their feet in all quarters, they surrounded the Elder. And the evil spirits, with one accord, departed from the city and returned no more.