Buddhist Women 2

Dr. Bimala Churn Law, Ph.D.

Mittakalika came of a Brahman's family in the town of Kammasadamma in the kingdom of the Kurus. When she grew up she one day heard the teaching of the Great Discourse on the Mahasatipatthana and entered the order of sisters. For seven years she could not elevate herself intellectually. Later on she won arhatship together with analytical knowledge. (Th. Commy., pp. 89-90).

Sakula (Pakula) was born in a Brahman family at Savatthi. Seeing the Master accepting the gift of the Jetavana, she became a believer. One day she heard the preaching of an arhat and was greatly convinced. She entered the order, strove hard for insight and soon won arhatship. She was given the foremost place by the Master among the bhikkhunis possessing divine eyes. (Th. Commy., pp. 91 f.; cf. Manorathapurani, pp. 219-220; cf. Anguttara N., I, 25.)

Sonadinna, a female devotee living in Nalanda used to serve the bhikkhus with the four requisites and used to observe the precept and uposatha with perfect regularity. She meditated on the four noble truths and attained sotapatti. (Vide my work, Heaven and Hell, p.53).

Aloma, a poor woman living at Savatthi in Benares not finding anything to offer, presented some rotten cooked rice without salt to the Buddha who accepted it. (Ibid., p.63).

Mutta came of a rich Brahman family of Savatthi. When she was twenty years old, she went to Mahapajapati the Gotami and got ordination from her. She was practising kammatthana and she was instructed by the Buddha to get herself free from all bonds. Afterwards she became an arhat. (Th. Commy., pp.8-9.)

Punna was the daughter of a leading citizen of Savatthi, When she was about twenty years of age, she heard the great Pajapati teach the doctrine, and renounced the world. She practised insight, being encouraged by the Master. In due course she attained arhatship. (Th. Commy., pp. 9-10.)

Dantika came of a Brahmin’s family at Kosala. When she came of age, she acquired faith in the Buddha in the Jetavana, and later entered the order under Mahapajapati Gotami at Rajagaha. While staying at Rajagaha, she climbed the Vulture's Peak after her meal, and while resting she developed insight and soon obtained arhatship with analytical knowledge. (Th. Commy., pp. 51-52.)

Vaddhesi was the nurse of Mahapajapati Gotami. When her mistress renounced the world, she followed her. For twenty-five years she was harassed by the lusts of the senses and failed to acquire concentration of mind. One day she heard Dhammadinna preach the Norm. She then began to practice meditation. Very soon she acquired the six supernatural powers. (Th. Commy., 75-76).

Uttama came of a householder family at Bandhumati. When she grew old, she heard the nun Patacara preach and entered the order. When Patacara gave her admonition, she was established in insight and very soon won arhatship. (Th. Commy., pp. 47-48). Thirty sisters born in different families of different places heard Patacara preach and were converted by her and entered the order. They practised insight and in course of time they won arhatship with patisambhida. (Th. Commy., pp.118-120.)

Uttara came of a certain clansmen's family at Savatthi. When grown up she heard Patacara preach the Norm. She became a believer, entered the Order and became an arhat. (Th. Commy, pp.161-162.)

Uttari was a theri who was 120 years old. She went to beg for alms. Once, while going for alms, she met the Buddha on the way and when going to salute him, she fell down. The Buddha delivered a sermon to her, and she having attained the first stage of sanctification died. (D.C., vol. III, p.110.)

Khujjuttara was the maid servant of Samavati, queen of King Udena of Kosambi. Her daily duty was to buy flowers from Sumana, a garland-maker for eight kahapanas. Once the Buddha together with the bhikkhu sangha was invited to take meals in Sumana's house. Khujjuttara waited on her and heard the sermon delivered by the Buddha. She obtained the fruit of Stream Entry after hearing the sermon. In former days she used to steal four kahapanas out of the eight kahapanas given to her by her mistress for buying flowers. After having obtained the fruit of Stream Entry she brought flowers to the value of eight kahapanas. She confessed her guilt when asked why she brought such a large quantity of flowers. She told Samavati that after listening to the Buddha's sermon she had acquired knowledge and came to realise that stealing things is a sin. Samavati after listening to the dhamma repeated by Khujjuttara also obtained the fruit of Stream Entry. She was well versed in Tripitaka. (D.C., I, pp.208 f.)

Dinna was an upaisika of the Buddha. She was the queen of King Uggasena. A king promised to the deity of a nigrodha tree that he would worship the deity with the blood of one hundred Royals of Jambudipa (India) if he got the throne after his father's death. He then gradually defeated all the kings and princes and went to worship the deity, but the deity, seeing that many kings would be killed, felt compassion for them and refused his worship on the grounds that Dinna the queen of King Uggasena, whom he had defeated, was not present. The king had her brought, and Dinna preached a sermon on the avoidance of killing in their presence. The deity approved and the king refrained from killing and released the defeated and captured kings, who all praised Dinna for this act. It was due to her that so many kings were saved. (D.C., II, p.15 f.)

Sona came of a clansmen's family at Savatthi. In course of time, after marriage, she became the mother of ten sons and was known as Bahuputtika. The Dhammapada Commy. says that she had seven sons and seven daughters (D.C., II, pp.276--278). When her husband renounced the world, she divided all her riches equally between her sons. In a very short time her sons and daughters-in-law ceased to show respect. She then entered the Order of the bhikkhunis and began to practise insight strenuously in her old age. The master gave her suitable instructions. Sona Bhikkhuni then attained arhatship. (Th. Commy,, 95.) She occupied the foremost place among the bhikkhunis, making great exertion (Manorathapurani, 218-219; cf. A.N., I, 125).

Bhadda Kundalakesa came of the family of a banker at Rajagaha. When grown up, she one day saw Satthuka, the Brahmin's son, being led to execution by the city guard. She fell in love with him at first sight. She resolved to die if she did not get him. Her father heard of this and got Satthuka released by heavily bribing the guards. Satthuka was brought to Bhadda, who, decked in jewels, waited upon him. He saw her jewels and coveted them. He told Bhadda to get ready an offering to be given to the cliff deity. Bhadda did so. She adorned herself with all her jewels and accompanied her husband to the precipice with an offering. On reaching the top of the precipice, Satthuka told her to put off all her ornaments, which he had planned to take. In vain Bhadda pleaded that she herself and all her ornaments belonged to him. Satthuka did not take any notice of her pleadings. He wanted all her ornaments. Bhadda then prayed for an embrace with all her jewels on.

Satthuka granted her prayer. Bhadda embraced him in front and then, as if embracing him from the back, pushed him over the precipice. Satthuka died (cf. Dhammapada Commy., vol. II, pp.217 f.). Thereafter Bhadda did not come home, but she left the world and entered the Order of the Niganthas - Jains. She learnt the doctrine of the Niganthas and left their company. Thereafter she found no one equal to her in debate. She setup the branch of a jambu tree on a heap of sand at the gate of some village or town, with the declaration that any body able to join issue with her in debate should trample on this bough. Sariputta ordered some children who were near the bough, to trample on it. The children did so. When Bhadda saw the bough trampled, she challenged Sariputa to a debate before some Sakyan recluses, she was defeated and advised to go to Buddha for refuge. She went to the Buddha who discerned the maturity of her knowledge. Buddha spoke a verse and she attained arhatship with analytical knowledge. (Th. Commy., pp. 99f.) Bhadda was assigned a chief place among the bhikkhunis possessing ready wit. (Manorathapurani, p. 375; cf. Anguttara Nikaya, I, 25.)

Sama came of a rich householder's family at Kosambi. She was moved by the death of her dear friend, the lay-disciple Samavati. One day she listened to Elder Ananda preaching and acquired insight. On the seventh day after this she attained arhatship with a thorough grasp of the Dhamma - in form and meaning. (Th. Commy., 44-45.)

Another Sama who came of a clansmen's family at Kosambi, was a friend of Samavati, whose death afflicted her so much that she could not gain self-control for twenty-five years. In her old age she heard a sermon through which her insight expanded and she won arhatship with patisambhida (analytical knowledge). (Th. Commy., 45-46.)

Ubbiri came of the family of a rich house-holder at Savatthi. She was very beautiful, and was brought to the palace by the king of Kosala. A few years later a daughter was born to her. This daughter was named Jiva. The king saw the child and was very much pleased. He then had Ubbiri anointed as queen. After a few years Jiva died. The mother used to go to the cemetery and shed tears. Questioned by the Exalted One as to why she was weeping, she said that she was sheding tears for her deceased daughter. She was questioned by the Exalted One as to which of her 84,000 daughters she was weeping for. She then spent a little thought and intelligence over the Norm thus taught by the Buddha. She was established in insight, and in due course she won arhatship by virtue of great merits. (Th. Commy.,53-54).

Kisagotami came of poor family at Savatthi. She was married to a rich banker's son who had forty crores of wealth. (D.C., II., pp. 270-75). Bodhisatta was her maternal uncle's son. One day, while the Bodhisatta was returning home after receiving the news of Rahula's birth, he was seen by Kisagotami from her palace. Buddha's beauty pleased Kisagotami so much that she uttered a stanza, the purport of which is, "the mother who has such a child and the father who has such a son and the wife who has such a husband are surely happy" (nibbuta), but the Bodhisatta took the word nibbuta in the sense of nibbanam. The Bodhisatta presented her with a pearl necklace for making him hear such auspicious and sacred words. (D.C., vol. I, p. 85; cf. Atthasalini, p. 34.) On the death of her only child she went to the Buddha with the dead body and requested him to bring the dead to life. Buddha asked her to bring a little mustard seed from a house where no man had died. Kisagotami went from house to house, but she came back to Buddha quite unsuccessful. The Buddha delivered a sermon which led her to become a bhikkhuni. Her insight grew within a short time and she attained arhatship. (Th. Commy., 174 f.). Then the master assigned her the foremost place among the bhikkhunis who used very rough and simple robes. (A.N., 1, p.25; cf.,Manoratha; purani, p.380.)

Once Kisagotami went to the Andhavana forest to meditate. Mara, came to her and said," You have killed your sons and now you are crying. Why are you not searching for another man? " Kisagotami replied, "I have completely destroyed my sons and my husband and I have no sorrow. I am not afraid of you, my attachment is destroyed and ignorance is dispelled. Killing the army of death I live sinless." Mara then left her. (S.N., I, pp.129-130). Once Kisagotami was coming through the sky to worship the Buddha while the god Sakka with his retinue was seated before the Buddha. She did not come to the Buddha, but worshipped him from the sky and went away. Being questioned by Sakka, the Buddha answered that she was his daughter. (D.C.,IV, 156-157.)

Patacara came of a banker's family at Savatthi. In her youth, she formed an intimacy with a servant of her house. On the day fixed for her marriage with another youth of equal rank to her she eloped with her lover and dwelt in a hamlet. There she used to perform household duties, and her lover used to bring wood from the forest and worked in a field belonging to others. Shortly afterwards Patacara gave birth to a child, but at the time of the birth of her second child, a storm arose. Her husband went to a forest to cut grass and sticks. While he cut a stake standing on an ant-hill, a snake came from the ant-hill and bit him. He fell there and died. The next morning Patacara went to the forest with her two children and found her husband dead. She lamented and left the place. On her way to her father's house there was a river, the water of which was knee-deep. She lost her children while crossing the river. With tears of grief, she came to Savatthi and learnt that her parents and brother had perished under the debris of the fallen house. She turned mad. Since then she did not wear clothing, and was therefore known as Patacara. One day the Exalted One saw her in that plight and said, "Sister! Cover your shamelessness." She regained her consciousness, and the Lord taught her that sons, parents and kinsfolk were no shelter, and asked her to discern this truth in order to make clear quickly the way to nibbana. Then she was established in the fruit of Stream Entry. Then she attained arhatship with analytical knowledge (Th. Commy., p.108 f; Manorathapurani, pp.356-360; cf. A.N., I, 25) Thereafter she preached the Buddha's dhamma and converted many afflicted women to the Buddhist faith.

The Therigatha Commy. says that Patacara had five hundred female disciples, who came of different families of different places. They were women who had married, borne children and lived domestic lives, but who had suffered loss. Overwhelmed with grief at the loss of children they went to Patacara, who asked them not to weep when the nature of birth and death was unknown to them. They were greatly moved by Patacara's teachings and renounced the world under her. They performed exercises for insight and soon became established in arhatship with patisambhida. (Th. Commy., pp. 122-123; cf. Dhammapada Commy., II, p.260 f.)