9. The Story about the Elder Nun Kuṇḍalakesā


Bhaddā Kuṇḍalakesā’s story is one of the longer ones, showing a very capable and confident young woman. She began her career in the normal way under Buddha Padumuttara, and was also one of the seven sisters born to King Kiki.

In her last life she was reborn in a merchant’s family on the same day her future husband was born, though the signs accompanying his birth were very inauspicious, and they nearly had him put to death there and then.

The boy however grew up in safety, but from an early age was a kleptomaniac, stealing whatever he could get his hands on, no matter how many times his parents scolded him and tried to guide him rightly, and eventually, as he had no further talent, his Father gave him the means to become a professional thief, and left him to his fate.

The young man eventually broke into nearly every house in the city, and when the King found out, he gave the Mayor only one day to find the person responsible or die himself. The Mayor caught the thief, and when he was brought before the King he was sentenced to death.

For reasons not properly explained in the story here, when Bhaddā saw him on his way to execution, she fell in love, and begged for his release, which her Father organised. He was brought back to the house to be her partner. Even then his passion for theft couldn’t be assuaged, and he planned to kill Bhaddā and take her ornaments.

Bhaddā, however, turned out to be quick in wits and disposed of him before he disposed of her. Not able to return home after his death she renounced and became a Jaina nun. We notice here that nuns of other sects had their own hermitages and must have been a common sight in ancient India; these hermitages are mentioned again in the following story.

She excelled in debate and toured the country challenging others to debate with her, and finally came to Sāvatthī. There she met with Ven. Sāriputta who easily defeated her and asked her to meet with the Buddha. She went as asked, and the Buddha taught her in one verse, at the conclusion of which she attained Liberation, and went forth again in the nuns’ Community.

It was because of this display of her quick and ready wit that she was placed in foremost position amongst those who were quick in deep knowledge. Her male counterpart was Ven. Bāhiya Dārucīriya. The canonical story about him can be found in the influential meditation discourse at Udāna 1.10, which is translated elsewhere on this website.

AN 1.5.9

Etad-aggaṁ bhikkhave mama sāvikānaṁ bhikkhunīnaṁ
This is the foremost of my nun disciples, monastics,

khippābhiññānaṁ, yad-idaṁ Kuṇḍalakesā. RTE, PTS: Bhaddā Kuṇḍalakesā.
amongst those who are quick in deep knowledge, that is to say, Kuṇḍalakesā.

AA 1.5.9

Navame, “Khippābhiññānan,”-ti
In the ninth (story), “Amongst those who are quick in deep knowledge,”

khippābhiññānaṁ bhikkhunīnaṁ SHB, PTS: khippābhiññābhikkhunīnaṁ. Bhaddā Kuṇḍalakesā aggā ti dasseti.
it shows why the Elder Nun Bhaddā Kuṇḍalakesā, amongst those who were quick in deep knowledge, was said to be foremost.

Her Aspiration and Good Deeds

Ayam-pi hi RTE: Ayaṁ kira. Padumuttarabuddhakāle, Haṁsavatiyaṁ kulagehe nibbattā,
At the time of the Buddha Padumuttara, being reborn in a good family home in Haṁsavatī,

Satthu Dhammakathaṁ sutvā,
she listened to the Teacher talk about Dhamma,

Satthāraṁ ekaṁ bhikkhuniṁ khippābhiññānaṁ aggaṭṭhāne ṭhapentaṁ disvā,
and saw the Teacher place a certain nun as being foremost amongst those who are quick in deep knowledge,

adhikārakammaṁ katvā taṁ ṭhānantaraṁ patthesi.
and did a great deed and aspired for that position herself.

Various Good Deeds

Sā kappasatasahassaṁ devamanussesu saṁsaritvā,
She was reborn amongst gods and humans (only) for one hundred thousand aeons,

Kassapabuddhakāle Kikissa Kāsirañño gehe, The other formulas add here: paṭisandhiṁ gaṇhitvā, after being conceived.
and in the time of the Buddha Kassapa, in the home of Kiki, the King of Kāsi,

sattannaṁ bhaginīnaṁ abbhantarā hutvā,
she became (one) amongst seven sisters,

vīsativassasahassāni dasasīlāni samādāya,
established the ten precepts for twenty-thousand years,

komārikabrahmacariyaṁ SHB, PTS: komārabrahmacariyaṁ; carantī, RTE: carati.
living as a celibate,

Saṅghassa vasanapariveṇaṁ SHB, PTS: vasanakapariveṇaṁ. kāretvā,
made a dwelling place for the Community,

ekaṁ Buddhantaraṁ devamanussesu saṁsaritvā,
was reborn amongst gods and humans (only) during one period when there was no Buddha,

imasmiṁ Buddhuppāde
and when this (Gotama) Buddha arose

Rājagahanagare seṭṭhikule paṭisandhiṁ gaṇhi,
she was conceived in a merchant’s family in the city of Rājagaha,

Bhaddā tissā nāmaṁ akaṁsu.
and they gave her the name Bhaddā (Auspicious).

Her Last Life

Taṁ divasaṁ yeva ca tasmiṁ nagare purohitaputto jāto.
That very day in the city the (King’s) chaplain’s son was born.

Tassa jātavelāya Rājanivesanaṁ ādiṁ katvā,
From the moment of his birth, beginning with King (Bimbisāra’s) residence,

sakalanagare āvudhāni pajjaliṁsu.
and throughout the whole city weapons blazed forth.

Purohito pāto va Rājakulaṁ gantvā Rājānaṁ sukhaseyyaṁ pucchi.
In the morning the chaplain went to the King’s family and asked if the King had slept comfortably.

Rājā: “Kuto, RTE, ChS adds: me. Ācariya, sukhaseyyo RTE: sukhaseyyaṁ; ChS: sukhaseyyā. ajja sabbarattiṁ
The King said: “How can I sleep comfortably today, Teacher, when all night

Rājanivesane āvudhāni pajjalitāni PTS: pajjalantāni. disvā bhayappattā ahumhā?” ti PTS: ahesumhā ti. āha.
we saw the weapons in the King’s residence blazing forth and we have become fearful?”

“Mahārāja, tappaccayā PTS omits: tappaccayā. mā cintayittha,
“Great King, do not worry for this reason,

na tumhākaṁ yeva gehe āvudhāni pajjaliṁsu, sakalanagare evaṁ ahosī.” ti
not only in your home did weapons blaze forth, it was so throughout the whole city.”

“Kiṁ kāraṇā, Ācariyā?” ti
“What is the reason, Teacher?”

“Amhākaṁ gehe coranakkhattena dārako jāto,
“In our home was born a child under the thieves’ star,

so sakalanagarassa sattu hutvā uppanno,
he will become an enemy to the whole city,

tassetaṁ pubbanimittaṁ,
this is the portent concerning him,

tumhākaṁ upaddavo natthi, sace pana icchatha, hārema RTE: hāretha; omit following nan ti. nan.”-ti
there is no danger for you, but if you wish, let us bear him off.”

“Amhākaṁ pīḷāya asatiyā, RTE omits: asatiyā; SHB, PTS: asati. hāraṇakammaṁ natthī.” ti
“There being no intention to harm us, there is no need to bear him off.”

Purohito: ‘Mama putto attano nāmaṁ gahetvā va āgato,’ ti
The chaplain, thinking: ‘My son has come bearing his own name,’

Sattuko tevassa RTE: tveva. nāmaṁ akāsi.
named him Sattuka (Little Enemy).


Seṭṭhigehe pi SHB, PTS omits: pi. Bhaddā vaḍḍhati, purohitagehe pi Sattuko vaḍḍhati.
Bhaddā grew up in the merchant’s home, and Sattuka grew up in the chaplain’s home.

So attano ādhāvanavidhāvanena kīḷituṁ samatthakālato RTE: samatthakabhāvato. paṭṭhāya
From the time he was able to play by running around here and there

attano vicaraṇaṭṭhāne SHB: vicaraṇaṭṭhānesu. yaṁ PTS: sayaṁ. yaṁ passati,
whatever he saw in any place he had wandered to,

taṁ taṁ PTS omits: taṁ taṁ. sabbaṁ āharitvā, Mātāpitūnaṁ gehaṁ pūreti.
he took all of it away, and filled up his Mother and Father’s home (with it).

Pitā naṁ kāraṇasahassam-pi PTS: kāraṇaṁ sayam pi. vatvā, vāretuṁ nāsakkhi.
His Father, although giving him a thousand reasons, was not able to restrain him.

Aparabhāge panassa vayappattassa,
Later, as he reached maturity,

sabbākārena pi RTE, ChS: sabbākārenāpi. vāretuṁ asakkuṇeyyabhāvaṁ ñatvā,
understanding it was an impossibility to restrain him in any way,

dve nīlasāṭake tassa SHB, PTS, ChS omits: tassa. datvā, SHB, PTS: nivāsāpetvā.
he gave him a pair of blue robes,

sandhicchedana-upakaraṇañ-ca siṅghāṭakayantañ-ca SHB, PTS: siṅghāṭakayantakañ-ca. hatthe datvā,
and put into his hands all the requisites for housebreaking and a grapple,

“Tvaṁ iminā RTE adds: ca; ChS adds: va. kammena jīvāhī” ti naṁ vissajjesi.
and sent him off, saying: “You can make a living through doing this work.”


So taṁ divasato paṭṭhāya siṅghāṭakayantaṁ khipitvā,
From that day forward, after throwing his grapple,

kulānaṁ pāsāde āruyha, sandhiṁ chinditvā, PTS: chindetvā.
ascending residences of good families, making a breach,

parakulesu nikkhittabhaṇḍaṁ SHB, PTS: -bhaṇḍakaṁ. attanā ṭhapitaṁ viya gahetvā gacchati.
and taking the goods that other families had stored there, as if he had put them there himself, he departed.

Sakalanagare tena aviluttagehaṁ nāma nāhosi.
There was not a home in the whole city that was not plundered by him.

Ekadivasaṁ Rājā rathena nagare vicaranto sārathiṁ pucchi:
One day as the King was travelling about the city in his chariot, he asked his charioteer:

“Kiṁ nu kho imasmiṁ nagare tasmiṁ tasmiṁ ghare chiddam-eva paññāyatī?” ti
“Why is it that there appears to be a breach in every house in this city?”

“Deva imasmiṁ nagare Sattuko nāma coro
“God-King, in this city there is a thief named Sattuka who,

bhittiṁ chinditvā, PTS: bhinditvā. kulānaṁ santakaṁ haratī.” ti
having broken through the wall, carries off the property of the good families.”

Rājā Nagaraguttikaṁ pakkosāpetvā,
The King summoned the Mayor,

“Imasmiṁ kira nagare evarūpo nāma coro RTE: jāto coro. atthi,
and said: “It seems that in this city there is such and such a thief,

kasmā naṁ na gaṇhasī,” ti āha. SHB, PTS omit: āha.
why have you not grabbed him?”

“Mayaṁ, Deva, taṁ PTS: naṁ. coraṁ sahoḍhaṁ RTE: mayaṁ deva taṁ sahoḍḍhaṁ; SHB, ChS: sahoḍḍhaṁ. passituṁ na sakkomā.” ti
“We, God-King, are not able to find the thief together with the stolen property.”

“Sace SHB omits: Sace. ajja naṁ RTE: taṁ. coraṁ gaṇhasi jīvasi; RTE: sace ajja taṁ coraṁ passasi, gaṇha.
“If today you capture the thief you can live;

sace na gaṇhasi, PTS reads: Sace ajja naṁ coraṁ na gaṇhasi Rājāṇaṁ te karissāmī.” ti. Rājāṇaṁ te karissāmī.” ti
but if you do not capture (him), I will issue a Royal command.” I.e. he will give him capital punishment.

“Evaṁ Devā,” ti Nagaraguttiko sakalanagare manusse cāretvā, RTE: āṇāpetvā.
“Yes, God-King,” and the Mayor sent men all over the city,

taṁ bhittiṁ chinditvā, SHB, PTS: bhinditvā. parabhaṇḍaṁ avaharantaṁ, SHB, PTS: harantaṁ.
and after (Sattuka) had broken through a wall, and was making off with others’ goods,

sahoḍam-eva gahetvā RTE: sahoḍḍhameva netvā. Rañño dassesi.
they captured (him) together with the stolen property and brought him to the King.

Rājā: “Imaṁ coraṁ dakkhiṇadvārena nīharitvā ghātethā!” ti āha.
The King said: “Take this thief out through the south gate and execute him!”

Nagaraguttiko Rañño paṭissuṇitvā, SHB, PTS: paṭissutvā.
The Mayor gave his assent to the King,

taṁ coraṁ catukke catukke pahārasahassena tāḷento SHB, PTS: tāletvā. gāhāpetvā,
and having that thief flogged with a thousand strokes at each of the crossroads,

dakkhiṇadvāraṁ gacchati.
he went out Present tense used in the sense of the immediate past. by the southern gate. Executions always took place to the south of the city.

Her Marriage

Tasmiṁ samaye ayaṁ Bhaddā nāma seṭṭhidhītā, SHB: Bhaddā seṭṭhidhītā; PTS: Subhaddā seṭṭhidhītā.
At that time the merchant’s daughter Bhaddā,

mahājanassa kolāhalasaddena SHB, PTS: kalakalasaddena. sīhapañjaraṁ ugghāṭetvā,
after opening the window because of the uproar of the populace,

olokentī taṁ SHB, PTS omit: taṁ. Sattukaṁ coraṁ tathā RTE: vadhatthāya. nīyamānaṁ disvā,
while looking around, saw the thief Sattuka being brought out,

ubhohi hatthehi hadayaṁ sandhārentī,
and holding her two hands over her heart,

gantvā sirisayane adhomukhā nipajji.
went and lay down on the couch with her head held low.

Sā ca tassa kulassa ekadhītā PTS: ekadhītikā.
She was the family’s only daughter

tenassā ñātakā appamattakam-pi mukhavikāraṁ sahituṁ na sakkonti.
and her relatives were not able to endure even a trifling contortion of her face.

Atha naṁ Mātā RTE adds taṁ; SHB, PTS omits: Mātā. sayane nipannaṁ disvā, “Kiṁ karosi Ammā?” ti pucchi. SHB, PTS: pucchiṁsu.
Then her Mother, seeing her lying on the couch, asked: “What are you doing, Dear?”

“Etaṁ vajjhaṁ katvā nīyamānaṁ coraṁ addasathā?” ti RTE, ChS: addasa, Ammā?” ti.
“Do you see this thief they have prepared and brought out to be executed?”

“Āma, Amma, addasāmā.” ti ChS: āma, ammā ti.
“Yes, Lady, we do see (him).”

“Etaṁ labhamānā jīvissāmi, alabhamānāya me maraṇam-evā.” ti RTE: varanti.
“If I get him I will live, but if I don’t get him there is surely death for me.”

Te taṁ nānappakārena SHB, PTS: anekapariyāyena. pi saññāpetuṁ asakkontā:
They, being unable to convince her in any way,

“Maraṇā jīvitaṁ seyyo,” ti sallakkhesuṁ.
considered: “Life is better than death.”

Athassā Pitā Nagaraguttikassa santikaṁ gantvā, sahassaṁ lañjaṁ RTE: lañcaṁ. datvā,
Then her Father went into the Mayor’s presence, and gave him a thousand in a bribe,

“Mayhaṁ dhītā core paṭibaddhacittā,
° saying: “My daughter is infatuated with this thief,

yena kenaci upāyena imaṁ muñcā,” ti āha.
please free him through some means or other.”

So: “Sādhū,” ti seṭṭhissa paṭissuṇitvā, SHB, PTS: paṭissutvā. coraṁ gahetvā,
He, saying: “Very well,” assenting to the merchant, grabbed the thief,

yāva suriyassa RTE, ChS: sūriyassa. atthaṅgamanā SHB, PTS: atthūpagamanā. ito cito ca papañcāpetvā,
and delayed at the funeral bier until the sun was setting,

suriye RTE, ChS: sūriye. atthaṅgate, SHB, PTS: atthaṁ upagacchante. cārakato ekaṁ manussaṁ nīharāpetvā, RTE: suriye atthaṁ upagate corabhāvaṁ katvā ekaṁ corakaṁ corakato nīharāpetvā.
as the sun set, he drove a certain man from the prison,

Sattukassa bandhanaṁ RTE: sattukaṁ bandhanā. mocetvā, Sattukaṁ seṭṭhigehaṁ pesetvā,
and loosening Sattuka’s bonds, he sent Sattuka to the merchant’s home,

tena bandhanena itaraṁ bandhitvā,
and having the other man bound with (Sattuka’s) bonds,

dakkhiṇadvārena nīharitvā ghātesi.
he drove him through the southern door and had him executed.


Seṭṭhidāsā pi Sattukaṁ gahetvā seṭṭhino nivesanaṁ SHB, PTS: seṭṭhinivesanaṁ. agamaṁsu. RTE: āgamiṁsu; ChS: āgamaṁsu.
The merchant’s servants grabbed Sattuka and took him to the merchant’s residence.

Taṁ disvā seṭṭhi: “Dhītu manaṁ pūressāmī,” ti
Seeing him, the merchant, thinking: “I will fulfil my daughter’s desire,”

Sattukaṁ gandhodakena nahāpetvā,
had Sattuka bathed in scented water,

sabbābharaṇapaṭimaṇḍitaṁ RTE, PTS: sabbālaṅkārapatimaṇḍitaṁ. kāretvā, pāsādaṁ pesesi.
adorned with all decorations, and sent him to the mansion.

Bhaddā pi: SHB omits: pi; PTS: Subhaddā. “Paripuṇṇo me saṅkappo,” ti RTE: Paripuṇṇā me saṅkappā ti.
Bhaddā, thinking: “My desire is fulfilled,”

anekālaṅkārena SHB, PTS: atirekālaṅkārena. alaṅkaritvā taṁ paricamānā carati. SHB: vicarati; ChS: taṁ paricarati.
decorated (herself) with innumerable decorations and amused (herself) with him.

Sattuko, katipāhaṁ vītināmetvā, cintesi:
Sattuka, after a few days had passed, thought:

“Imissā pasādhanabhaṇḍakaṁ PTS: pasādhanaka-. mayhaṁ bhavissati,
“Her decorative articles will be mine,

kenaci SHB, PTS: kenacid-eva. upāyena imaṁ ābharaṇaṁ gahetuṁ vaṭṭatī?” ti
(but) by what means is it fitting to grab her ornaments?”

Samīpe sukhena nisinnakāle PTS: sukhanisinnakāle. Bhaddaṁ āha:
At a time they were sitting comfortably together, he said to Bhaddā:

“Mayhaṁ ekaṁ vacanaṁ vattabbaṁ atthī.” ti
“There is a word of mine I would like to speak.”

Seṭṭhidhītā sahassalābhaṁ labhitvā viya tuṭṭhamānasā:
The merchant’s daughter, like one who had received a thousand (coins), with a satisfied mind,

“Vissatthaṁ vada, ChS: vadehi. Ayyā,” ti āha.
said: “Speak freely, Noble Sir.”

“Tvaṁ cintesi: ‘Maṁ nissāya iminā jīvitaṁ laddhan,’-ti
“You thought: ‘His life was saved because of me,’

ahaṁ pana gahitam-atto va corapapātapabbate adhivatthāya devatāya, SHB, PTS: adhivatthadevatāya.
but when they grabbed me on the mountain from where they throw down thieves I prayed to the god living there,

‘Sacāhaṁ jīvitaṁ labhissāmi, balikammaṁ te RTE: vo. dassāmī’ ti āyāciṁ.
imploring: ‘If I receive my life, I will make an offering to you.’

Taṁ nissāya mayā jīvitaṁ laddhaṁ, sīghaṁ balikammaṁ sajjāpehī.” ti
Because of that my life was saved, quickly get an offering ready.”

Bhaddā: PTS: Subhaddā. ‘Ahaṁ SHB, PTS omit: Ahaṁ. tassa manaṁ pūressāmī,’ ti balikammaṁ sajjāpetvā,
Bhaddā, thinking: ‘I will fulfil his desire,’ prepared the offering,

sabbaṁ pasādhanaṁ SHB, PTS: sabbapasādhanaṁ. pasādhetvā,
decorated herself with all decorations,

ekayāne āruyha sāmikena saddhiṁ, corapapātapabbataṁ RTE: corapapātaṁ. gantvā,
mounted a vehicle with her husband, and went to the mountain from where they throw down thieves,

‘Pabbatadevatāya balikammaṁ karissāmī,’ ti abhiruhituṁ āraddhā.
began to ascend, thinking: ‘I will make an offering to the god of the mountain.’

Sattuko cintesi: ‘Sabbesu abhiruhantesu
Sattuka thought: ‘With all of us ascending

mama imissā ābharaṇaṁ gahetuṁ RTE: gahetvā. okāso na RTE, ChS: na okāso. bhavissatī,’ ti
I will not be able to grab her ornaments,’

tam-eva balibhājanaṁ gāhāpetvā, pabbataṁ abhiruhi.
so after having her take the offering-vessel, he ascended the mountain. It mean he went with her alone, having dismissed the entourage.

So Bhaddāya PTS: Susbhaddāya. saddhiṁ kathento piyakathaṁ na katheti,
But while speaking with Bhaddā he spoke no endearing words,

sā iṅgiteneva tassa RTE: sā teneva corassa. adhippāyaṁ aññāsi.
and from his gestures she understood his intention.

Atha naṁ so āha: “Bhadde, tava sāṭakaṁ ChS: uttarisāṭakaṁ. omuñcitvā,
Then he said to her: “Bhaddā, cast off your robe,

kāyāruḷhaṁ te SHB, PTS omit: te. pasādhanaṁ ettha bhaṇḍikaṁ karohī.” ti
and make a bundle here of all the ornaments heaped up on you.”

“Sāmi, mayhaṁ ko aparādho?” ti
“Husband, what is my fault?”

“Kiṁ panāhaṁ, bāle, SHB, PTS omit: bāle. balikammatthaṁ āgato?” ti, saññaṁ karosi.
“Why, fool, do you think I have come to make offerings?” he said, making a sign.

“Ahañ-hi imissā devatāya yakanaṁ ubbaṭṭhetvā, dadeyyaṁ SHB: ubbattetvā khādeyyaṁ; PTS: ubbattetvā mādeyyaṁ; RTE: ubbaṭṭetvā dadeyyaṁ. balikammāpadesena,
“Having torn the liver out of that god I could give an offering in this place,

pana tava ābharaṇaṁ gaṇhitukāmo hutvā āgatomhī.” ti
but I have come desiring your ornaments.”

“Kassa pana, Ayya, pasādhanaṁ kassa ahan?”-ti
“Noble Sir, but whose are the ornaments, and whose am I?”

“Mayaṁ evarūpaṁ na jānāma,
“We do not know of such a thing,

aññaṁ tava santakaṁ, aññaṁ mama santakan.”-ti SHB: ṭhantakan ti?
as your property is one thing, and my property is another.”

“Sādhu, Ayya, ekaṁ pana me adhippāyaṁ pūretha,
“Very well, Noble Sir, but let me fulfil one wish,

alaṅkataniyāmeneva me PTS omits: me. purato ca pacchato ca āliṅgituṁ dethā.” ti
let me give you in all your finery a hug from in front and from behind.”

So: “Sādhū” ti sampaṭicchi.
Saying: “Very well,” he accepted.

Sā tena sampaṭicchitabhāvaṁ ñatvā, purato āliṅgitvā,
Understanding his acceptance, she hugged him from the front,

pacchato āliṅgantī viya hutvā, pabbatapapāte pātesi.
made like she was hugging him from behind, and threw him from the mountain from where they throw down thieves.

So patanto ākāse yeva SHB, PTS: ākāse va. cuṇṇavicuṇṇo ahosi.
He fell through the air and was crushed to pieces.

Tāya kataṁ vicitrabhāvaṁ disvā, RTE: tāya katavicuṇṇabhāvaṁ disvā: PTS: ñatvā.
Seeing the wondrous nature of her deed,

pabbate adhivatthā devatā guṇakittanavasena imā gāthā āha:
the goddess who dwelt on the mountain spoke this verse expounding her virtue:

“Na so sabbesu ṭhānesu puriso hoti paṇḍito,
“Not on every occasion is it a man that is wise,

itthī pi paṇḍitā hoti, tattha tattha vicakkhaṇā.
a women is wise also, she is wise now and then.

Na so sabbesu ṭhānesu puriso hoti paṇḍito,
Not on every occasion is it a man that is wise,

itthī pi paṇḍitā hoti, muhuttam-api cintaye.” ti Also occurring at Kuṇḍalakesātheriyāpadāna, Ap. 2.3.31-32.
a women is wise also, (if) she but think for a moment.”

Her First Ordination and Teaching

Tato Bhaddā PTS: Subhaddā. cintesi: ‘Na sakkā mayā iminā niyāmena puna gehaṁ gantuṁ.
Then Bhaddā thought: ‘Because of this I am not able to return again to my home.

Ito va RTE omits: va. gantvā ekaṁ pabbajjaṁ pabbajissāmī,’ ti
I will go from here and go forth in some going forth (or other),’

Nigaṇṭhārāmaṁ gantvā, Nigaṇṭhe pabbajjaṁ yāci.
and she went to the Nigaṇṭha’s monastery and requested to go forth amongst the Nigaṇṭhas.

Atha naṁ te āhaṁsu: “Kena niyāmena pabbajjā hotū?” ti
Then they said this to her: “What manner of going forth?”

“Yaṁ tumhākaṁ pabbajjāya uttamaṁ, tad-eva karothā.” ti
Saying: “Please give your supreme going forth.”

Te: “Sādhū,” ti tassā tālaṭṭhinā kese luñcitvā pabbājesuṁ.
Saying, “Very well,” they pulled out her hair with the shell of a palm nut and gave her the going forth. In the Traditions the story is very different from here on. There she is said to have lived in a cemetery and seeing a rotting corpse asked the Jainas about it, who couldn’t answer and sent her to the Buddha (!) where she heard the Teaching about impermanence, gained faith, went forth and soon after was Liberated.

Kesā puna vaḍḍhantā RTE adds: pi. rāsirāsivasena kuṇḍalāvattā hutvā, vaḍḍhiṁsu,
But her hair grew back in ringlets and wavy curls,

sā teneva kāraṇena Kuṇḍalakesā nāma jātā.
and because of that, the name Kuṇḍalakesā (Curly Hair) arose.


Sā attano pabbajitaṭṭhāne sabbasippaṁ uggaṇhitvā,
She learned all the skills in the place of her going forth,

‘Tesaṁ ChS: Etesaṁ. ito uttariṁ ChS: uttari. viseso natthī,’ ti ñatvā,
and knowing: ‘There is no further distinction beyond this,’ I.e. she had learned all they could teach.

gāmanigamarājadhāniyo vicarantī,
wandering from village to town to capital city,

yattha yattha paṇḍitā atthi, tattha tattha gantvā
wherever there were learned men, she went there

tesaṁ jānanasippaṁ sabbam-eva uggaṇhāti. SHB, PTS: gaṇhati.
and learned all the arts they knew.

Athassā bahūsu ṭhānesu sikkhitabhāvena paṭivādaṁ dātuṁ samatthā na honti.
And in many places, because she was so learned no one was able to give a reply to her.

Sā attanā saddhiṁ kathetuṁ samatthaṁ adisvā,
Then not seeing anyone who was able to dispute with her,

yaṁ gāmaṁ vā nigamaṁ vā pavisati, tassa dvāre vālukarāsiṁ katvā,
in whatever village or town she entered, she piled up sand at the gate,

tattha jambusākhaṁ ṭhapesi, PTS, ChS: ṭhapeti.
and set up a branch of a rose-apple tree right there,

“Yo mama vādaṁ āropetuṁ sakkoti, so imaṁ sākhaṁ maddatū,” ti
saying: “Whoever is able to refute my word, he should trample down this branch,”

samīpe ṭhitānaṁ dārakānaṁ SHB, PTS: ṭhitadārakānaṁ. saññaṁ deti.
and she informed the children standing nearby.

Taṁ sattāham-pi maddantā na honti.
No one trampled it down even after seven days.

Atha naṁ gahetvā, pakkamati.
Then taking it, she departed.

Her Conversion and Attainment

Tasmiṁ samaye amhākaṁ Bhagavā loke nibbattitvā,
At that time our Fortunate One had been reborn in the world,

Sāvatthiṁ upanissāya Jetavane viharati.
and was living in Jeta’s Wood at Sāvatthī.

Kuṇḍalakesā pi kho anupubbena Sāvatthiṁ patvā,
Then Kuṇḍalakesā, after gradually reaching Sāvatthī,

antonagaraṁ RTE: antonagare. pavisamānā porāṇakaniyāmeneva,
and entering the city in the same way as before,

vālukārāsimhi RTE: vālukarāsimhi; PTS: vālikarāsimhi. sākhaṁ ṭhapetvā dārakānaṁ saññaṁ datvā pāvisi.
set her branch in the sand, informed the children and left.

Tasmiṁ samaye Dhammasenāpati, Bhikkhusaṅghe paviṭṭhe,
At that time (Ven. Sāriputta,) the General of the Dhamma, after the Community of monks had already entered (the city),

ekako va nagaraṁ pavisanto vālukāthūpe RTE: vālukathūpe; PTS: vālikapuñje. jambusākhaṁ disvā,
saw the Rose-Apple branch in the sand heap while entering the town alone,

“Kasmā ayaṁ ṭhapitā?” ti pucchi.
and asked: “Why is this placed here?”

Dārakā taṁ RTE: dārakā naṁ aparihāpetvā. kāraṇaṁ aparihāpetvā, kathesuṁ.
The children, without omitting anything, told him the reason.

“Evaṁ sante imaṁ gahetvā, maddatha, dārakā.” ti
“That being so, take it and trample on it, children.”

Tesu Therassa vacanaṁ sutvā ekacce maddituṁ na visahiṁsu,
They listened to the Elder’s word (but) some didn’t dare to trample on it,

ekacce taṁ khaṇaṁ yeva ChS: khaṇe yeva. madditvā, cuṇṇavicuṇṇaṁ akaṁsu.
some others, after trampling on it in an instant, crushed it to powder.

Kuṇḍalakesā bhattakiccaṁ katvā nikkhamantī,
Kuṇḍalakesā, while leaving after taking her meal,

taṁ SHB, PTS omit: taṁ. sākhaṁ madditaṁ disvā: “Kassetaṁ kamman,”-ti pucchi.
saw the branch trampled down and asked: “Who did this deed?”

Athassā Dhammasenāpatinā kārāpitabhāvaṁ kathayiṁsu.
Then they told her the General of the Dhamma had caused it to be done.

Sā: ‘Attano thāmaṁ ajānanto
She thought: ‘He must be knowing his own strength

imaṁ sākhaṁ maddāpetuṁ no visahissati, SHB, PTS: visahessati.
else he wouldn’t dare to have had the branch trampled down,

addhā mahanto eso RTE: addhā eso mahanto; PTS: eko. bhavissati!
he must surely be a great man!

Aham-pi pana khuddikā bhavantī, na sobhissāmi, SHB, PTS: sohissāmi.
But I am insignificant (in comparison), and I will not shine,

‘Antogāmam-eva pavisitvā, parisāya saññaṁ dātuṁ vaṭṭatī,’ ti cintetvā,
° and (yet) thinking: ‘After entering the village, it is right to inform the people,’

tathā akāsi.
that is what she did.

Asītikulasahassanivāse nagare sabhāgasabhāgavasena RTE: sabhāgavasena. sabbe va RTE omits: va.
All eighty thousand families residing in that city in their various neighbourhoods

sañjāniṁsū ti SHB, PTS: jāniṁsū ti. veditabbaṁ.
were informed, so it should be understood.

Thero pi bhattakiccaṁ katvā, aññatarasmiṁ rukkhamūle nisīdi.
The Elder, after the meal duties, sat down at the root of a certain tree.

Athāyaṁ Kuṇḍalakesā mahājanaparivutā, Therassa santikaṁ gantvā,
Then Kuṇḍalakesā, surrounded by the populace, went into the presence of the Elder,

paṭisanthāraṁ katvā ekamantaṁ PTS: akamante. ṭhatvā.
exchanged greetings and stood on one side.

“Bhante, tumhehi sākhā maddāpitā?” ti pucchi.
She asked: “Reverend Sir, did you have the branch trampled down?”

“Āma, mayā PTS: mayā mayā. maddāpitā.” ti
“Yes, I had it trampled down.”

“Evaṁ sante, tumhehi saddhiṁ amhākaṁ vādo hotu, Bhante.” ti
“That being so, reverend Sir, let there be (a discussion) on our doctrine, together with yours.”

“Hotu, Bhadde.” ti
“Let it be so, Bhaddā.”

“Kassa pucchā hoti, ChS: hotu. kassa vissajjanan?”-ti
“But who should ask, and who should answer?”

“Pucchā nāma amhākaṁ pattā, tvaṁ pana tuyhaṁ jānanakaṁ pucchā.” ti
“Our questions are ready, you can ask according to your understanding.”

Sā Therena dinna-anumatiyā RTE: dinnānumatiyā.
Consent having been given by the Elder

sabbam-eva attanā RTE, ChS: attano. jānanakaṁ vādaṁ pucchi, Thero sabbaṁ vissajjesi,
she asked everything according to the doctrine she understood, and the Elder answered it all,

sā sabbaṁ pucchitvā, tuṇhī ahosi.
and having asked everything, she fell silent.

Atha naṁ Thero āha:
Then the Elder said to her:

“Tayā bahuṁ pucchitaṁ, mayam-pi ekaṁ pañhaṁ pucchāmā.” ti
“You asked many things, but we will ask only one question.”

“Pucchatha, Bhante.” ti
“Ask away, reverend Sir.”

“Ekaṁ nāma kin?”-ti
“What is said to be one?”

Kuṇḍalakesā: “Na jānāmi, Bhante,” ti āha.
Kuṇḍalakesā said: “I don’t know, reverend Sir.”

“Tvaṁ ettakam-pi na jānāsi, aññaṁ kiṁ jānissasī?” ti
“If you don’t know even that much, how will you know anything else?”

Sā tatheva RTE, ChS omit: tatheva. Therassa pādesu patitvā:
She fell at the Elder’s feet right there

“Tumhākaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi, Bhante,” ti āha.
and said: “I go to you for refuge, reverend Sir.”

“Mama saraṇagamanakammaṁ natthi,
“There is no coming to me for refuge,

sadevake loke Aggapuggalo dhuravihāre vasati, Taṁ saraṇaṁ gacchā.” ti RTE, ChS: gacchāhi ti.
the Greatest Person in the world with its gods dwells in a monastery nearby, go to Him for refuge.”

Sā: “Evaṁ karissāmi, Bhante.” ti
She said: “I will do so, reverend Sir.”

Sāyanhasamaye, Satthu Dhammadesanāvelāya,
In the evening time, at the time the Teacher was teaching Dhamma,

Satthu SHB, PTS omit: Satthu. santikaṁ gantvā,
she went into the presence of the Teacher,

pañcapatiṭṭhitena vanditvā, ekamantaṁ aṭṭhāsi.
worshipped with the fivefold prostration and stood at one side.

Satthā, tassā madditasaṅkhārāya cariyāvasena, RTE: cariyavasena.
The Teacher, by way of subjugating her (volitional) processes,

Dhammapade imaṁ gātham-āha:
spoke this verse found in the Dhammapada:

“Sahassam-api ce gāthā anatthapadasaṁhitā,
“Even though one possesses a thousand lines from verses which are unbeneficial,

ekaṁ gāthāpadaṁ seyyo, yaṁ sutvā, upasammatī.” ti Dhp 101. In the Dhammapada commentary it says that this verse was recited in regard to Bāhiya’s Awakening, and that Dhp 102 was the verse that is connected to Ven. Kuṇdalakesī: Yo ca gāthāsataṁ bhāse, anatthapadasaṁhitā, ekaṁ dhammapadaṁ seyyo, yaṁ sutvā upasammati; The one who speaks a hundred verses which are unbeneficial, better still is one line of verse, which, having heard, she is calmed.
they are surpassed by one line of verse, which, having heard, one is calmed.”

Sā gāthāpariyosāne yathā ṭhitā va,
At the conclusion of the verse, just as she was standing there,

saha paṭisambhidāhi Arahattaṁ patvā, pabbajjaṁ yāci.
after attaining Liberation together with the analytic knowledges, she asked for the going forth.

Satthā tassā pabbajjaṁ sampaṭicchi, PTS: paṭicchi. sā bhikkhunī-upassayaṁ ChS: bhikkhunupassayaṁ. gantvā pabbaji.
The Teacher agreed to her going forth, and she went to the nunnery and went forth.


Aparabhāge catuparisamajjhe kathā udapādi:
Later this discussion arose in the midst of the four assemblies: That is, the monks, nuns, male and female lay devotees.

“Mahantā vatāyaṁ Bhaddā Kuṇḍalakesā,
“Great is this Bhaddā Kuṇḍalakesā,

yā catuppadikagāthāvasāne Arahattaṁ pattā!” ti
in that she attained Liberation at the end of just four lines of verse!”

Satthā taṁ kāraṇaṁ, aṭṭhuppattiṁ katvā,
For this reason the Teacher, as the occasion had arisen,

Theriṁ khippābhiññānaṁ aggaṭṭhāne ṭhapesī. ti
placed this Elder Nun in the foremost position amongst those who were quick in deep knowledge.



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