As the Buddha was dwelling in the Jetavana monastery, one early morning, He saw the benefit that would accrue to prince Alavaka, who would realize the fruit of Anagami. and to the demon Alavaka, who would realize the fruit of Sotapatti. That day, prince Alavaka was to be offered to the demon Alavaka to be eaten up in pursuance of a promise by the King to make human sacrifices to the demon.
The abode of the demon was about a league from the city of Alavi. After taking the morning meal, the Buddha set out from the Jetavana monastery all alone, and after traversing a distance of thirty leagues arrived at the abode of Alavaka, the demon, and stood at the entrance to it.
The gate-keeper Gadrabha was asked by the Buddha for permission to spend one night at the abode. He said that his master Alavaka, the demon, is away in the snowy region attending a meeting of the demons, and that the Buddha should not think of spending a night there, as Alavaka was extremely ferocious, and had no regard even for his parents.
When the Buddha repeated his request, the gate-keeper said that he would go and inform his master, and left the abode for the snowy region. Meanwhile, the Buddha entered the abode, and sat on the seat of the demon. The females in the abode saluted the Buddha and sat round Him. and listened to His admonition.
The gate-keeper Gadrabha went to the meeting of the demons, and informed his master of the arrival of the Buddha in his abode. He was signaled to be silent by Alavaka, who was furious to hear the news. Meanwhile, Satagira and Hemavata, two demons, who were on their way to the meeting had seen the Buddha at Alavaka's abode, and saluted the Buddha. They, too, told Alavaka that it is a blessing to him as the Buddha was at his abode. Alavaka was all ablaze with anger at this news, and came to his abode.
As the demon saw the Buddha, he said:
“Go out, you monk”.
“very well, my friend”. So saying, the Buddha went out.
“Come in, you monk., the demon ordered.
“very well, my friend”. So saying, the Buddha came in. Thus the demon ordered the Buddha three times to get out and three times to enter. Each time the Buddha did as He was ordered. But when for the fourth time the Buddha was asked to get out, He refused to do so, and said:
“No, my friend, I am not getting out. You may do whatever you can..
Alavaka said: .I will ask you a question. If you cannot answer it, I will distort your mind, or I will split your heart, or I will take you by your feet and throw you across the river”.
The Buddha said:
.My friend, there is nobody in all these worlds of gods. Maras, Brahmas, and human beings, who can distort my mind or split my heart or take me by my feet and throw me across the river. If, of course, you have a question to ask, you may ask it”.
Alavaka asked eight questions in stanzas from the Buddha. These questions with their answers had been learnt by him from his parents who had learnt them from the Buddha Kassapa. He had forgotten the answers, but he had preserved the questions by writing them on gold leaves, and had kept them in his custody.
The first stanza was as follows:
“what is the greatest wealth for a man? what brings the highest bliss when well mastered? What is the sweetest of all tastes? which is the best way of life?”
The Buddha answered:
The Buddha answered:
“The greatest wealth for a man is faith. The true doctrine when well mastered brings the highest bliss. The sweetest taste is the truth. wise living is the best way of life”.
The Buddha answered all the eight questions, and asked Alavaka to ask other religious teachers, too, for the answers. Alavaka said that he was fully satisfied with the answers given and that there was no need to ask any other monk or Brahmin for the answers to his questions. He further said:
“The visit of the Buddha here today is a great blessing to me, indeed. Now 1 know to whom offerings should be made for the highest results. I will now go from village to village, and town to town paying my respect to the Buddha and His teachings”.
Alavaka was greatly satisfied at the exposition of the teaching by the Buddha, and took refuge in the Buddha, the doctrine, and the fraternity of monks: and he offered to be a life-long devotee of the Buddha.