Sometimes, on certain sutras, the text begins by saying that the assembly is composed of monks, bodhisattvas, etc but also by devas, asuras, dragons, etc...
I know that sometimes there are metaphors on sutras, sometimes things are just a way of meaning things, but starting a text like that sems that indeed there were devas, etc listening the Buddha.
How do you see these sentences? As real?
If sutras reflect the trustful word of Buddha and if such ideas are not real, how can we accept as real and not a lie, the rest of the sutra?
Just see the example of Pratyutpanna Sutra:
Thus I have heard:
At one time the Bhagavān was in the Karaṇḍa Bamboo Garden of the city of Rājagṛha, together with an innumerable multitude of great Bodhisattvas, bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās, as well as gods, dragons, asuras, yakṣas, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, and mahoragas. All were seated in the huge assembly.
See..I dont positively disbelieve in such beings..and here's the 'but',.. but apparently these beings ( 'gods ' etc ) also attended the pre-Buddhist Vedic teachers when THEY taught.
The gods, dragons, asuras, yaksas et al also attended the teachings of Mahavira the founder of Jainism.
They turned up too to listen to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in 17th century Orissa
So,what do we conclude ?
Do we conclude that the gods, dragons, asuras et al are not fussy, that they turn up fairly promiscously to disparate teachings ?
Or that all accounts of their appearances, apart from those in the Suttas , are bogus..even those which pre-date Shakyamuni ? That somehow the authors of the Vedas knew what was going to happen when the Buddha taught...even though what he was teaching contradicted them ?
Or do we perhaps come to the conclusion that there are a common stock of walk-on parts in accounts of spiritual teachers who emerged from the culture of the Indian subcontinent..and that the list of characters are there to lend gravitas rather than as depictions of historical events...
You are assuming Nosta that these accounts are either lies OR historical.
There are several other alternatives.