BORN in the time of the Buddha Vipassi, in his native town of Bandhumatī, as the daughter of a wealthy burgess, she became a pious lay-adherent, and at the Master's death she made an offering to the shrine of his ashes of a golden umbrella 117 surrounded with jewels. Reborn for this in various heavens, she was, in this Buddha-dispensation, reborn at Kapilavatthu as the daughter of the chief wife of Khemaka, the Sākiyan, and named Nandā. But because of her excessive beauty, charm, and loveliness, she was known as Nandā the Fair.
Now, on the day when she was to choose among her suitors,118 Carabhūta, her young Sākiyan kinsman, died. Then her parents made her leave the world against her will. But she, even after she had entered the Order, was infatuated with her own beauty, and, fearing the Master's rebuke, avoided his presence. Now the Exalted One knew that she was ripe for knowledge, and directed the Great Pajājatī to let all the Bhikkhunīs come to him for instruction. Nandā sent another in her place. And the Exalted One said, 'Let no one come by proxy.' So she was compelled to come. And the Exalted One, by his mystic power, conjured up a beautiful woman, and showed her becoming aged and fading, causing anguish to arise in Nandā. And he addressed her in these words:
Behold, Nandā, the foul compound, diseased,
And when he had finished speaking, she attained Arahantship. Repeating to herself the verses, she made them the announcement of her AÑÑĀ.
117 Or tee, surmounting the cupola. Vipassi was the first of the seven Buddhas of the Pitakas.
118 I read vāreyyadivase (cf. p. 276, verse 464), which makes sense anyway. It would appear that Carabhūta (pronounced Chără-) would have been the object of her choice.
119 Animittaŋ, ideals not depending on what is impermanent, or on what makes for sorrow, or on the presence of a persisting soul-entity (Rhys Davids, Yogāvacara's Manual, xxvii., xxviii.).
120 Māna, conceit, pride, vanity, one of the seven forms of bias. Majjh. Nik., i. 109, 110; Vibh., 340. Translator's Buddh. Psy., 298, n. 3.
The story of her past and present is like that of Nandā the Fair; but it was at Vesālī, in the princely family of the Licchavis, that she was reborn. 121 There is this further difference: she attained Arahantship after hearing the Master preach the Dhamma, and it was when reflecting on the change that had come over her that she, in joy, uttered these verses:
The Seven Factors of the awakened mind 122–
121 Cf. Rhys Davids, Buddhist India, 25, 40.
122 The Bojjhangas or Sambojjhangas; lit., parts or limbs of Bodhi. They were mindfulness, research in the Dhamma, energy, joy, serenity, concentration, equanimity (B. Psy., 84, n. 2. Cf. Ps. xxxi.).
123 'For inasmuch as the Exalted One is the very Body of the Norm, to discern the Ariyan Dhamma which is His is to see Him. The Buddhas and other Ariyans are said to be seen, not only by the sight of their visible shape, but also by insight into the Ariyan Dhamma, according as He said: "Verily, Vakkhali, he that seeth the Norm, he seeth me"' (Saŋyutta Nikāya, iii., p. 120). '"The Ariyan disciple who hears, brethren, is one who sees the Ariyans"' (Commentary).
O woman well set free! how free am I, 125
124 This is the Elder Sumangala, who in his verse (Theragāthā, 43) celebrates his release from three 'crooked things' (supra, Ps. xi.)–rom sickle, plough, and spade.
125 Expressed in the text by the representative drudgery of the 'mortar' (musala).
126 In the Pali the first two lines depart from the śloka metre, being apparently a curious variety of some metre I cannot identify. See Introduction. The last two lines revert to the śloka, sukhato being an obvious gloss. Quite literally, the quaint and elliptical passage runs: 'The shameless one me "sunshade" only,' which the Commentary explains as 'My husband calls me not even an umbrella which he makes for his livelihood.' There seems nothing in verses or Commentary to justify Dr. Neumann's inference that her husband lived on her adulterous earnings. Toil has spoilt her looks, and he takes no further pleasure in them.
Born of a respectable family, in the time of Kassapa Buddha, she won understanding, and became a Bhikkhunī, established in the precepts. But she reviled an Arahant Elder Sister by calling her a prostitute,127 and for this she went to purgatory. In this Buddha-dispensation she was reborn in the kingdom of Kāsī as the child of a distinguished and prosperous citizen. But because of the persistent effect of her former evil speech, she became herself a prostitute. How she left the world and was ordained by special messenger is related in the Culla Vagga. 128 For she wished to go to Sāvatthī to be ordained by the Exalted One. But the libertines of Benares barred the ways, so she sent and asked the Exalted One's advice, and he permitted her to be ordained by a messenger. Then she, working at insight, not long after obtained Arahantship, with thorough knowledge of the Dhamma in form and meaning. Thereupon she exclaimed:
No less my fee was than the Kāsī realm
127 Cf. Ps. lxvi.
128 Vinaya Texts (S.B.E. xx.), iii., p. 360. (Pronounced 'Chul'la.') Benares was the capital of Kāsī. On the name Aḍḍha Kāsī (lit., half-Kāsī), see op. cit., ii. 195, n. 2.
129 Tisso vijjā. The Brahmanic phrase, tevijjo, often recurring below –e.g., Ps. xxxvii.–and signifying 'versed in the three Vedas,' was, according to Anguttara-Nikāya, i. 163-5, adopted by the Buddha and applied to the three attainments of paññā, entitled reminiscence of former births, the Heavenly Eye, and the destruction of the Asavas.
She, too, having made her resolve under former Buddhas, and heaping up good of age-enduring efficacy in this rebirth and that, was born in the 94th æon 130 as a fairy. She worshipped with offering of flowers a Silent (Pacceka) Buddha. 131 And after many other births among men and gods, she was, in this Buddha-dispensation, born at Rājagaha in the family of a leading burgess. When she had come to years of discretion she heard the Master teaching at the gate of Rājagaha, and, becoming a believer, she was ordained by the Great Pajāpatī the Gotamid. And at length, in her old age, when she had climbed the Vulture's Peak, and had done the exercises of a recluse, her insight expanded, and she won to Arahantship. Reflecting thereon, she gave utterance as follows:
Though I be suffering and weak, and all
130 I.e., before this present age.
131 Cf. Ps. iii.
Heaping up merit under former Buddhas, she was born during the time of Siddhattha, 132 the Exalted One, in a burgess's family, and worshipped at his shrine by offering there a jewelled girdle. After many births in heaven and on earth, through the merit thereof, she became, in this Buddha-dispensation, the child of an eminent brahmin at Rājagaha. In other respects her case is like the preceding one, save that it was another hill corresponding to Vulture's Peak up which she climbed. 133
She, too, reflecting on what she had won, said in exultation:
Though I be suffering and weak, and all
132 One of the (later elaborated) twenty-four Buddhas.
133 Rājgir (the ancient burg) is surrounded by some seven hills. See Cunningham's Archæological Survey, iii., Pl. xli.
134 Lit., 'Now is my heart (or mind) set free!' For lovers of the mountain, the 'great air' and the sense of spiritual freedom will be tightly bound up. The age of the two climbers throws into relief the arduousness of their spiritual ascent.
THE GIJJHAKŪṬI (VULTURE PEAK) RANGE ABOVE OLD RĀJAGAHA.
To face p. 28.
Born in the time of Vipassi Buddha of a noble family, and become a lady of his father's court, she won meritorious karma by bestowing food and precious raiment on an Arahant Elder Sister. 136 Born finally, in this Buddha-dispensation, in the princely family of the Sākiyas, at Kapilavatthu, she left the world together with Great Pajāpatī the Gotamid, and, going through the requisite training for insight, not long after won Arahantship.
Reflecting thereon, joy and gladness stirred her to say:
On full-moon day and on the fifteenth day,
135 Mettā in the Commentary. Mittā=amica. Cf. Ps. viii. Both Mittā and Mettikā (Ps. xxiv.) may be patronymics, derived ultimately from Mitra (Mithra), the Vedic propitious, friendly Day or Sun god.
136 In the Apadāna it is 'a religieux' of no specified Order.
137 See Rhys Davids, Buddhism, 139-141.
'Upward from sole of foot, O mother dear,
138 One of the twenty-four.
139 I.e., she of the Lotus
140 Abhaya's verses (Th., 26, 98) do not refer to his mother.
She, too, having made her resolve under former Buddhas, and heaping up merit of age-enduring efficacy in this and that state of becoming, was, in the time of Sikhi Buddha,142 reborn in a great noble's family, and became the chief queen of his father Aruṇa. And one day she worshipped the Exalted One with offering of red lotuses given her by the King, when Sikhi Buddha, at alms-time, entered the palace. Reborn for this among gods and men, she was, in this Buddha-dispensation, born once more at Ujjenī in a respectable family, and became the playmate of Abhaya's mother. And when the latter had left the world, Abhayā, for love of her, also took orders. Dwelling with her at Rājagaha, she went one day to Cool-Grove to contemplate on a basis of some foul thing.143 The Master, seated in his Fragrant Chamber, caused her to see before her the kind of object she had been directed to choose. Seeing the vision, dread seized her. Then the Master, sending forth glory, appeared as if seated before her, and said:
Brittle, O Abhayā, the body is,
And when he had finished speaking she attained Arahantship. Exulting herein, she turned the verses round into an address to herself.
142 Second of the Seven Buddhas.
143 B. Psy., p. 69. The 'foul things' were corpses or human bones, such as might be seen in any charnel field, where the dead were exposed and not cremated. I have before me a photograph of a Ceylonese bhikkhu seated in the cleft of a rock contemplating two skulls and other bones lying before him–a modern snapshot of a scene that might be 2,500 years old instead of 250 days.
144 Lit. (as in many other verses), 'done is the will, or rather the system or teaching (sāsanaŋ) of the Buddha.' Verses 36, 38, and 41 (except the last two lines) are in the text identical, though varied in translation.
She, too, having made her resolve under former Buddhas, and heaping up good of age-enduring efficacy in this and that state of becoming, being reborn in fortunate conditions, took birth, in this Buddha-dispensation, at Kosambī, in the family of an eminent burgess. When her dear friend, the lay-disciple Sāmāvatī, died, she, in her distress, left the world. But being unable to subdue her grief for her friend, she was unable to grasp the Ariyan Way. Now, while she was seated in the sitting-room, listening to Elder Ānanda preaching, she was established in insight, and, on the seventh day after, attained Arahantship, with thorough grasp of the Dhamma in form and meaning.
And reflecting on what she had won, she expressed it in this psalm:
Four times, nay, five, I sallied from my cell,
145 Cf. 2 Cor. x. 5.