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Bhaddā of the Kapilas.

NOW she was born in the time of Padumuttara Buddha, in a clansman's house at Haŋsavatī. Come to years of discretion, she heard the Master preach, and saw him assign a Bhikkhunī the first rank among those who could recall previous lives. Thereat she made her resolve, wishing that she, too, might acquire such a rank. Working merit all her life, she was reborn, when no Buddha had arisen, in a clansman's house at Benares, and in due course married.

Then one day a quarrel arose between her and her sister-in-law. And the latter having given food to a Silent Buddha, Bhaddā thought, 'She will win glory for this,' and taking the bowl from his hand, she filled it with mud instead of food. The people said, 'Foolish woman! what has the Silent Buddha done to offend you?' And she, ashamed of herself, took back the bowl, emptied and scrubbed it with scented powder, filled it with the four sweet foods, and sprinkled it on the top with ghee of the colour of a lotus-calyx. Handing it back, shining, to the Silent Buddha, she registered a prayer: 'May I have a shining body like this bowl!'

After many fortunate rebirths, she was reborn, in the time of Kassapa Buddha, at Benares, as the daughter of the wealthy treasurer. But by the fruition of her previous karma her body was of evil odour, and she was repulsive to others. Much troubled thereby, she had her ornaments made into an ingot of gold, and placed it in the Buddha's shrine, doing reverence with her hands full of lotuses. Thereby her body, even in that birth, became fragrant and sweet. As a beloved wife she did good all her life, was reborn in heaven to celestial joys, and at length took birth as the daughter of the King of Benares. There she lived gloriously, ministering to Silent Buddhas. When they passed away she was greatly troubled, and left the world for ascetic practices. Dwelling in groves, she practised Jhana, and was reborn in the Brahma heavens, and thence into the family of a brahmin of the Kosiya clan at Sāgala.185 Reared in great state, she was wedded to the young noble Pippali at the village of Mahā-tittha. When he renounced the world she handed over her great wealth to her kinsfolk that she too might go forth; and she dwelt five years in the Sophists' Grove,186 after which she was ordained by Great Pajāpatī the Gotamid. Establishing insight, she soon won Arahantship.

And she became an expert in knowledge of her past lives, through the surplus force of her resolve (made in past ages), and was herein ranked first by the Master when, seated in the Jeta Grove among the company of Ariyans,187 he classified the Bhikkhunīs. One day she broke forth in a Psalm, recounting all that she had wrought, accompanied by a eulogy of the virtues of the great Elder Kassapa, 188 thus:

Son of the Buddha and his heir is he,
Great Kassapa, master of self, serene!
The vision of far, bygone days is his,
Ay, heaven and hell no secrets hold for him. (63)

Death too of rebirth hath he won, and eke
A seer is he of mystic lore profound.
By these three arms
189 of learning doth he stand
Thrice-wise, 'mong gods and men elect, sublime. (64)

She too, Bhaddā the Kapilan–thrice-wise
And victor over death and birth is she–
Bears to this end her last incarnate frame,
For she hath conquered Mara and his host. (65)

We both have seen, both he and I, the woe
And pity of the world, and have gone forth.
We both are Arahants with selves well tamed.
Cool are we both, ours is Nibbana now! (66)

184 Dr. Neumann translates Kapilāni by 'the Blonde' (kapilo is auburn, reddish), as if in keeping with the soubriquet of the other Bhaddā (Ps. xlvi.). I have not done so because elsewhere a soubriquet is always explicitly accounted for in the Commentary, and here nothing is said. Moreover, and this is fairly conclusive, the Apadãna chronicle, quoted in the Commentary, makes Bhaddā 'daughter of Kapilā the twice-born (brahmin).' Kapilānī, therefore, refers to her family. and should be Kāpilānī. The Phayre and Paris MSS. of the Therīgāthā both read Kāpilāni, so does Vin., iv., 290, 292.

185 On the three Sāgalas, see Rhys Davids, Buddhist India, p. 38. According to the Apadāna this was the capital of the Maddas (cf. Ps. lii.). Mahātittha, the 'great ford,' was a brahmin village in Magadha.

186 Titthiyārāma, near the Jeta Grove at Sāvatthi.

187Defined in the Pitakas as meaning Buddhas, Silent Buddhas, and their disciples. This judgment is the subject of Ang. Nik., i. 23-26.

188 Mahā-Kassapa became the leader of the Buddhist Order when the Buddha had passed away. According to the Apadāna, Kassapa was identical with Pippali, her husband, and had been her husband in three former lives. Kassapa was either the family name or the personal name; Pippali either the personal or the local name. See Dialogues, i. 193. His story is fully told in the Commentary on the Psalms of the Brothers, and in that on Ang. Nik., i. 23.

189 The metaphor is not Buddhist. The Pali reads 'by these three wisdoms' (etāhi tīhi vijjāhi). See Ps. xxii. 26. The case of Bhaddā is noteworthy as being the only one where wife and husband–united for so many ages–act in harmony up to the day when, having aided each other in donning the religious dress, they leave the world together, then part on their several ways to the Buddha, enjoying thereafter good comradeship in the Order. So she in the Apadāna:
'Thereafter soon I won the rank of Arahant.
Ah! well for me who held the friendship wise and good
Of glorious Kassapa.'

Next: Canto V. Psalms of Five Verses