The Buddha’s Last Days
THUS HAVE I HEARD. Once the Lord was staying at Rājagaha on the mountain called Vultures' Peak. Now just then King Ajātasattu Vedehiputta of Magadha wanted to attack the Vajjians. He said: 'I will strike the Vajjians who are so powerful and strong, I will cut them off and destroy them, I will bring them to ruin and destruction!'
And King Ajātasattu said to his chief minister the Brahmin Vassakāra: 'Brahmin, go to the Blessed Lord, worship him with your head to his feet in my name, ask if he is free from sickness or disease, if he is living at ease, vigorously and comfortably, and then say: "Lord, King Ajātasattu Vedehiputta of Magadha wishes to attack the Vajjians and says: 'I will strike the Vajjians... ,bring them to ruin and destruction!'" And whatever the Lord declares to you, report that faithfully back to me, for Tathagātas never lie.'
'Very good, Sire', said Vassakāra and, having had the state carriages harnessed, he mounted one of them and drove in state from Rājagaha to Vultures' Peak, riding as far as the ground would allow, then continuing on foot to where the Lord was. He exchanged courtesies with the Lord, then sat down to one side and delivered the King's message.
Now the Venerable Ananda was standing behind the Lord, fanning him. And the Lord said: 'Ananda, have you heard that the Vajjians hold regular and frequent assemblies?' 'I have heard, Lord, that they do.'
'Ananda, as long as the Vajjians hold regular and frequent assemblies, they may be expected to prosper and not decline. Have you heard that the Vajjians meet in harmony, break up in harmony, and carry on their business in harmony?' 'I have heard, Lord, that they do.'
'Ananda, as long as the Vajjians meet in harmony, break up in harmony, and carry on their business in harmony, they may be expected to prosper and not decline. Have you heard that the Vajjians do not authorise what has not been authorised already, and do not abolish what has been authorised, but proceed according to what has been authorised by their ancient tradition?' 'I have, Lord.' ... 'Have you heard that they honour, respect, revere and salute the elders among them, and consider them worth listening to? ... that they do not forcibly abduct others' wives and daughters and compel them to live with them? ... that they honour, respect, revere and salute the Vajjian shrines at home and abroad, not withdrawing the proper support made and given before? ... that proper provision is made for the safety of Arahants, so that such Arahants may come in future to live there, and those already there may dwell in comfort?' 'I have, Lord.'
'Ananda, so long as such proper provision is made,...the Vajjians may be expected to prosper and not decline.'
Then the Lord said to the Brahmin Vassakāra: 'Once, Brahmin, when I was at the Sārandada Shrine in Vesālī, I taught the Vajjians these seven principles for preventing decline, and as long as they keep to these seven principles, as long as these principles remain in force, the Vajjians may be expected to prosper and not decline.'
At this, Vassakāra replied: 'Reverend Gotama, if the Vajjians keep to even one of these principles, they may be expected to prosper and not decline - far less all seven. Certainly the Vajjians will never be conquered by King Ajātasattu by force of arms, but only by means of propaganda and setting them against one another. And now, Reverend Gotama, may I depart? I am busy and have much to do.' 'Brahmin, do as you think fit.' Then Vassakāra, rejoicing and delighted at the Lord's words, rose from his seat and departed. Soon after Vassakāra had gone, the Lord said: 'Ānanda, go to whatever monks there are round about Rājagaha, and summon them to the assembly hall.' 'Very good, Lord', said Ananda, and did so. Then he came to the Lord, saluted him, stood to one side and said: 'Lord, the order of monks is assembled. Now is the time for the Lord to do as he sees fit.' Then the Lord rose from his seat, went to the assembly hall...
The complete sutta is available here.