3. The Discourse about Kisāgotamī
Thus I have heard:
at one time the Fortunate One was dwelling near Sāvatthī at Anāthapiṇḍika’s grounds in Jeta’s Wood.
Then the nun Kisāgotamī, Comm: Kisāgotamī, because of having little flesh and blood she was called thin (Kisā), Gotamī is her (clan) name. In the past it seems in a certain family in Sāvatthī having 80,000 in wealth it all turned to ashes. The head of the family, having not thrown away those ashes (thought): “Inevitably there will be some merit (remaining), and it will be possible to restore (the wealth) through that merit.” Having filled golden coloured vessels (with the ashes), and set them up in the market, he sat down close by. Then a certain poor family’s daughter (thinking): “Having got a halfpenny, I can carry away some wood and vegetables,” while going along the road said this to the head of the family: “You have so much wealth in the market, how much will there be in the home?” “Having seen what, dear girl, do you speak thus?” “This is pure gold!” He (thought): “She must be endowed with merit.” Having asked the place she was living, and set in order his goods at the market, he approached her mother and father and said this: “In our house there is a young boy growing up, give her to this boy.” “Why, Master, do you play with poor people (like us)?” “(I am) known as an intimate friend to the poor, give her, and she will be the wife of the head of the family,” and having taken her he led her to the house. After intercourse she became one who had borne a son. The son, at one time when he was wandering around on foot, died. Having been born in a poor family, she went to the great family (and said): “My son has come to destruction.” Being overcome by grief, she put aside the duties to her son’s body, and took his dead body and roamed about wailing in the city. One day, having drawn close to the Buddha, the One of Ten Powers, on the highway: She said: “My son has fallen ill, give some medicine, Fortunate One.” “Go, and having wandered in Sāvatthī, from a house where there has formerly been no deaths, bring a mustard seed, and that will be medicine for your son.” She entered the city, and beginning from the nearest house, she went in accordance with the Fortunate One’s words, begging for mustard seed from house to house, “Where will you find such a house?” they said. Having wandered to several homes (she understood): “It seems to be a general rule everywhere (that people die), not only my son.” Having left the corpse in a shed she asked for the going-forth. The Teacher sent her to the nunnery and said: “Give her the going-forth.” In the razor hall itself (while they were still giving her the going-forth) she attained Worthiness. In connection with this Elder: “Then Kisāgotamī...” was said. having dressed in the morning time, after picking up her bowl and robe, was entering Sāvatthī for alms. After walking for alms in Sāvatthī, and returning from the alms-round after the meal, she approached the Blind Man’s Wood to pass the day, and having entered Blind Man’s Wood, she sat down at the root of a certain tree to pass the day.
Then the Wicked Māra desiring to give rise to fear, terror, and horror in the nun Kisāgotamī, desiring to drive her out of concentration, approached the nun Kisāgotamī, and after approaching he addressed the nun Kisāgotamī with a verse:
“Why do you, like one with a dead son, sit solitary with a tearful face, Comm: with a tearful face means like someone with a tearful face.
Having entered the Wood alone, do you seek for a man?”
Then it occurred to the nun Kisāgotamī: “Who is this, a human or a non-human, speaking this verse?” Then it occurred to the nun Kisāgotamī: “This is the Wicked Māra desiring to give rise to fear, terror, and horror in me, desiring to drive me out of concentration, who speaks this verse.”
Then the nun Kisāgotamī having understood: This is the Wicked Māra, replied with these verses to the Wicked Māra:
“I am at the end of dead sons, Comm: I am at the end of dead sons means now I am at the end, gone past, I sit aside (such is the sub-commentarial explanation of this strange phrase). This is what is said: just as there is a past, and end of dead sons, so I am dead to sons, now there is nothing known as a dead son. (I am) finished with men, Comm: I am one who is finished with men means for me there is an end of men, for me in whom there is an end of dead sons there is also an end of men, it is impossible now to seek for men.
I do not grieve, I do not cry, I am not afraid of you, friend.
Everywhere delight is dead, Comm: everywhere delight is dead means my delight and craving for all dwellings, continuation, persistence, destinations, realms or states involving the constituents, the sense spheres or the elements is dead. broken Comm: destroyed means broken through knowledge. is the dark mass, Comm: the mass of darkness means the the mass of ignorance.
Having defeated Death’s army, I live without pollutants.”
Then the Wicked Māra (thought): “The nun Kisāgotamī knows me!” and pained and depressed he vanished right there.
last updated: May 2012