8. The Story about the Elder Nun Sakulā
This is the shortest of the stories, and the least informative too, which is strange, as a section of her story which is very relevant to her placement here has been omitted, even though it is found in the Traditions (Apadāna) about her. As it is crucial for an understanding of the story I have included the relevant section below.
At the time of the Buddha Padumuttara In the Traditions she is stated to be that Buddha’s half-sister. she made her aspiration to gain foremost position amongst those with the divine eye, and during the Buddha Kassapa’s time, having received some oil, with a faithful heart, she lighted up the Buddha’s shrine with it for the whole night.
Because of that her body also shone forth, and she was famous and had penetrating vision in her next life in the Tāvatiṁsa Heaven. Later, when she was reborn in Buddha Gotama’s time she gained faith, went forth, and finally attained Liberation, and because of her past good deeds became adept in the divine eye, and attained the position as foremost in that skill in accordance with her aspiration.
The male disciple with this same quality was Ven. Anuruddha.
Etad-aggaṁ bhikkhave mama sāvikānaṁ bhikkhunīnaṁ
This is the foremost of my nun disciples, monastics,
dibbacakkhukānaṁ, yad-idaṁ Sakulā.
amongst those who have the divine eye, that is to say, Sakulā.
Aṭṭhame, “Dibbacakkhukānaṁ, SHB, PTS omit:
In the eighth (story), “Amongst those who have the divine eye, that is to say, Sakulā,”
dibbacakkhukānaṁ Sakulātherī RTE:
it shows why the Elder Nun Sakulā, amongst those who had the divine eye, was said to be foremost.
Her Aspiration and Good Deeds
Ayaṁ kira SHB, PTS:
At the time of the Buddha Padumuttara, it seems,
Haṁsavatiyaṁ kulagehe nibbattitvā,
she was reborn in a good family home in Haṁsavatī, According to the Apadāna she was that Buddha’s half-sister.
and when she was mature, while listening to the Teacher talk about Dhamma,
Satthāraṁ ekaṁ bhikkhuniṁ dibbacakkhukānaṁ aggaṭṭhāne ṭhapentaṁ disvā,
seeing the Teacher place a certain nun as being foremost amongst those who have the divine eye,
adhikārakammaṁ katvā taṁ ṭhānantaraṁ patthesi.
she did a great deed and aspired for that position herself.
Imamhi bhaddake kappe, brahmabandhu mahāyaso,
In this auspicious aeon, a very famous brāhmaṇa
Kassapo nāma gottena uppajji vadataṁ varo.
arose in the noble and well-known Kassapa clan. I.e. the Buddha Kassapa.
Paribbājakinī āsiṁ tadāhaṁ ekacārinī,
I was a female wanderer at that time, solitary,
bhikkhāya vicaritvāna alabhiṁ telamattakaṁ.
and after wandering for alms I received a little oil.
Tena dīpaṁ padīpetvā, upaṭṭhiṁ sabbasaṁvariṁ
Having lighted a lamp with that (oil), I attended all night
cetiyaṁ Dvipadaggassa vippasannena cetasā.
with a confident mind at the Foremost Human’s shrine.
Tena kammena sukatena cetanāpaṇidhīhi ca,
Through performing that good deed with excellent intentions,
jahitvā mānusaṁ dehaṁ Tāvatiṁsam-agacchahaṁ.
after throwing off the human body I went to the (Realm of) the Thirty Three.
Yattha yatthūpapajjāmi tassa kammassa vāhasā,
On account of that deed I shone forth in whatever place I was,
pajjalanti mahādīpā, tattha tattha gatāya me.
like a great light blazing, wherever I went.
Tirokuḍḍaṁ tiroselaṁ, samatiggayha pabbataṁ,
Beyond the walls, beyond the rocks, rising above the mountain,
passāmahaṁ yadicchāmi, dīpadānassidaṁ phalaṁ,
whatever I wanted (to see) I saw, as the result of that gift of light,
visuddhanayanā homi, yasasā ca jalāmahaṁ,
I had a purified eye, I shone forth with fame,
saddhāpaññāvatī ceva, dīpadānassidaṁ phalaṁ.
I was endowed with faith and wisdom, as the result of that gift of light.
Her Last Life
Sā kappasatasahassaṁ devamanussesu ChS:
She was reborn amongst gods and humans (only) for one hundred thousand aeons,
imasmiṁ Buddhuppāde Sāvatthiyaṁ kulagehe nibbattitvā, SHB:
and when this (Gotama) Buddha arose she was reborn in a good family home in Sāvatthī,
aparabhāge, Satthu Dhammadesanaṁ sutvā,
and later, while listening to the Teacher teach the Dhamma,
paṭiladdhasaddhā pabbajitvā, na cirasseva Arahattaṁ pāpuṇi.
she gained faith and went forth, and in no long time she attained Liberation.
Sā SHB, PTS omit:
From then on she became well-practiced in the divine eye.
Aparabhāge Satthā Jetavane nisinno, SHB, PTS:
Later, while the Teacher was sitting in Jeta’s Wood,
bhikkhuniyo paṭipāṭiyā ṭhānantaresu PTS, ChS:
as he was assigning the places of the nuns in order,
imaṁ Theriṁ dibbacakkhukānaṁ aggaṭṭhāne ṭhapesī ti.
he placed this Elder Nun in the foremost position amongst those who had the divine eye.
last updated: March 2015