retrofuturist wrote:But would they still be devas 2500ish years on?
Probably. They are very long-lived and there are lots of modern anecdotes testifying to the efficacy of the Atanatiya Paritta in instigating interventions on their part.
One thing I forget to mention regarding the Atanatiya Paritta is that it was regarded by the commentators as a last resort for persons being harrassed by an amanussa. According to Buddhaghosa the victim of harrassment should first spend seven days reciting the Mettasutta, Dhajaggasutta and Ratanasutta. Only if this fails to solve the problem should he chant the Atanatiya Paritta to summon help from the yakkha chieftains.
Ben wrote:I think they're yakkhas actually in the Atanatiya...
The word 'yakkha' can be used as an honorific for devas, gandhabbas, nagas etc. The ones named in the sutta belong to several different classes of amanussa.
Khandhānaṃ rāsaṭṭhaṃ, āyatanānaṃ āyatanaṭṭhaṃ,
Dhātūnaṃ suññaṭṭhaṃ, indriyānaṃ adhipatiyaṭṭhaṃ,
Saccānaṃ tathaṭṭhaṃ aviditaṃ karotītipi ‘avijjā’.
It prevents knowing the meaning of heap in the aggregates, the meaning of actuating in the sense-bases, the meaning of voidness in the elements, the meaning of predominance in the faculties, and the meaning of suchness in the truths, thus it is called ‘ignorance’.
(Visuddhimagga XVII. 43)