10. The Story about the Elder Nun Bhaddā Kāpilānī


Bhaddā, after the usual start with Buddha Padumuttara, had a rather uncharacteristic lapse, in that in an intervening life she first gave something to an Independent Buddha, then took it back, and finally gave it again, and made an aspiration to have a beautiful body, which came true in her last life. The same thing happened with Uppalavaṇṇā in her previous life, see above.

The commentary gives an abbreviated version of Bhaddā’s final life story, referring the reader to the identical story given for her husband Pippali who would become famous as Mahā Kassapa. To make Bhaddā’s story complete I have inserted the relevant section.

It tells a very touching story from the early life of Pippali and Bhaddā. Although bethrothed to each other, neither wanted to marry and wrote to the other saying so, and that they intended ordaining instead. The letters were intercepted on the way, however, and they were tricked into marriage. They decided after the ceremony to maintain celibacy, and did not consummate the marriage.

After Pippali’s parents died, the young couple were obliged to take on the tasks of householders and look after the considerable fortune that was their family property. One day, on noticing the killing of insects on their estate, they asked who is culpable for the deaths. They learned, to their dismay, that the responsibility belongs to them alone.

As far as I understand the workings of kamma they would bear either none or very little responsibility for the death of the creatures, but in the story here all the blame for the deaths is put on them alone, which puts sufficient fear into their hearts that they abandon their wealth and decide to go forth.

This took place soon after the Buddha had attained Awakening, and they left on their quest before meeting or hearing about the Buddha. After disposing of their wealth and giving freedom to their servants, they wandered off together until they realised that remaining together might attract blame, and decided to split up.

Taking the right hand road, Pippali almost immediately met the Buddha and soon became one of his great disciples. Yet more years would pass before the founding of the Buddha’s Community of nuns, hence Bhaddā went forth amongst the Wanderers (Paribbājika); this again indicates that communities of female ascetics existed even before the Buddha founded his own Community.

Around five years later Mahā Pajāpatī Gotamī went forth as the first of the nuns, and not long after Bhaddā received ordination from her, attained Liberation and was placed at foremost amongst those who could remember their former lives. The male disciple having this same quality was Ven. Sobhita.

The story which leads up to this position really gives no grounds for why she would attain to this particular position, which is odd, as the stories are meant to illustrate this. Another curious thing is that in the next story, about Bhaddā Kaccānā (the Buddha’s former wife), she is said to excel all others in her attainment of recalling past lives, so it seems there is another anomaly here. Nevertheless, the story remains of great interest and is memorable in its own right.

The Traditions fail to mention her aspiration under Buddha Padumuttara, and indeed it seems her virtue is simply to support her husband (the future Mahā Kassapa) in his deeds, both here and in other future lives which are mentioned. Neither is it mentioned that she was placed in a foremost position in the Traditions, so again there is something of an anomaly in the story.

AN 1.5.10

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

pubbenivāsaṁ anussarantīnaṁ ChS omits: anussarantīnaṁ, yad-idaṁ Bhaddā Kāpilānī.
amongst those who can recollect their former lives, that is to say, Bhaddā Kāpilānī.

AA 1.5.10

Dasame, “Pubbenivāsan,”-ti RTE: pubbenivāsaṁ anussarantīnan-ti.
In the tenth (story), “Amongst those who (have knowledge of) their former lives,”

pubbe nivutthakhandhasantānaṁ ChS: nivuṭṭhakkhandha-. anussarantīnaṁ
it shows why, amongst those who could recollect the succession of the great mass of former lives,

Bhaddākāpilānī aggā ti dasseti.
the Elder Nun Bhaddā Kāpilānī was said to be foremost.

Her Aspiration and Good Deeds

Sā kira Padumuttarabuddhakāle
At the time of the Buddha Padumuttara, it seems,

Haṁsavatiyaṁ kulagehe nibbattitvā, SHB, PTS: nibbatttā.
she was reborn in a good family home in Haṁsavatī,

Satthu Dhammadesanaṁ suṇantī,
and while listening to the Teacher teach the Dhamma,

Satthāraṁ ekaṁ bhikkhuniṁ pubbenivāsaṁ
° seeing the Teacher place a certain nun

anussarantīnaṁ aggaṭṭhāne ṭhapentaṁ disvā,
as being foremost amongst those who recollect their former lives,

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

Her Good Deeds

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

anuppanne Buddhe, Bārāṇasiyaṁ kulagehe paṭisandhiṁ gaṇhitvā,
when there was no Buddha arisen, after being conceived in a good family home in Sāvatthī,

attano attano bhātu jāyāya RTE: attano bhaginiyā, her sister; ChS: sāmibhaginiyā; her husband’s sister. saddhiṁ kalahaṁ karontī,
during a quarrel with her brother’s wife,

tāya Paccekabuddhassa piṇḍapāte dinne,
when (the sister) gave alms food to an Independent Buddha,

“Ayaṁ imassa piṇḍapātaṁ datvā, attano vasaṁ vattetī,” ti
thinking: “After giving alms food to him, she has him under her control,”

Paccekabuddhassa hatthato pattaṁ gaṇhitvā,
she grabbed the bowl from the Independent Buddha’s hand,

bhattaṁ chaḍḍetvā, kalalassa pūretvā adāsi.
threw away the food, filled it with mud and gave (it back).

Mahājano: “Bālā ayan,”-ti garahitvā,
The people said: “She is a fool,” and blamed her,

“Yāya te saddhiṁ kalaho kato, tassā kiñci na karosi,
° saying: “You had a quarrel with her, but did nothing to her,

Paccekabuddho te kiṁ aparajjhatī?” ti āha.
what offence has the Independent Buddha done to you?”

Sā tesaṁ vacanena lajjāyamānā puna pattaṁ gahetvā,
Feeling shame at these words, she took the bowl again,

kalalaṁ hāretvā, RTE: haritvā. dhovitvā gandhacuṇṇena ubbaṭṭetvā,
emptied the mud, washed and scrubbed it with fragrant soap powder,

catumadhurassa pūretvā,
filled it with the four sweet things, Ghee, honey, sugar and sesame oil.

upari āsittena padumagabbhavaṇṇena sappinā vijjotamānaṁ,
and sprinkling it with ghee shining the colour of a lotus calyx,

Paccekabuddhassa hatthe ṭhapetvā,
placed it in the hand of the Independent Buddha,

“Yathā ayaṁ RTE: Yathāyaṁ. piṇḍapāto obhāsajāto, evaṁ obhāsajātaṁ me sarīraṁ hotū.” ti
saying: “Just as this alms food shines forth, so may my body shine forth.”

Patthanaṁ paṭṭhapesī. ti SHB, PTS: ṭhapesī ti.
She established this aspiration.

Sabbaṁ RTE: Sabbam-etaṁ. Mahākassapatherassa RTE, ChS: -ttherassa. vatthumhi vuttanayeneva veditabbaṁ.
And everything should be understood as it has been related in the Elder Mahā Kassapa’s story. The text of the relevant sections have been included here to complete the story.

Her Last Life

...amhākaṁ Satthā loke uppajjitvā,
...after our Teacher had arisen in the world,

Pavattitavara-Dhammacakko, SHB: Pavattavara-. anupubbena Rājagahaṁ pāvisi.
and had Set Rolling the Noble Wheel of the Dhamma, he gradually entered Rājagaha.

Satthari tattha vasante, SHB, PTS: paṭivasante. ayaṁ Pippalimāṇavo, SHB, RTE: Pipphali-; and similarly throughout.
While the Teacher was dwelling there, this young brāhmaṇa Pippali, The future Ven. Mahā Kassapa.

Magadharaṭṭhe, Mahātitthabrāhmaṇagāme,
in the Magadha country, in the brāhmaṇa village called Great Ford,

Kapilabrāhmaṇassa Aggamahesiyā kucchismiṁ ChS: kucchimhi; also just below. nibbatto.
was reborn in the brāhmaṇa Kapila’s Queen’s womb.

Ayaṁ Bhaddā Kāpilānī PTS: Bhaddakāpilānī. Maddaraṭṭhe Sāgalanagare,
And Bhaddā Kāpilānī, in the Madda country, in the Sāgala town,

Kosiyagottabrāhmaṇassa Aggamahesiyā kucchismiṁ nibbattā.
was reborn in the brāhmaṇa Kosiya’s Queen’s womb.

Tesaṁ anukkamena vaḍḍhamānānaṁ,
Gradually they both grew up,

Pippalimāṇavassa vīsatime vasse, SHB, PTS omit: vasse. Bhaddāya soḷasame vasse sampatte,
and when the young brāhmaṇa Pippali was twenty years old, and Bhaddā had come to sixteen,

Mātāpitaro puttaṁ oloketvā,
his Mother and Father, after examining their son,

“Tāta, tvaṁ vayapatto,
said: “Dear, you are now mature,

kulavaṁso nāma patiṭṭhāpetabbo,” ti ativiya nippīḷayiṁsu.
you should keep up the family lineage,” It means he should now get married and have children of his own. and they pressed him greatly.

Māṇavo āha: “Mayhaṁ sotapathe evarūpaṁ kathaṁ mā kathetha,
The young brāhmaṇa said: “It is not suitable to talk such talk in my ear,

ahaṁ yāva tumhe dharatha RTE: jīvatha. tāva paṭijaggissāmi,
as long as you last I will look after you,

tumhākaṁ accayena SHB, PTS: pacchato. nikkhamitvā, pabbajissāmī.” ti
but after you have departed, I will go forth.”

Te katipāhaṁ atikkamitvā SHB, PTS: atikkametvā. puna kathayiṁsu, so pi SHB, PTS omit: pi. tatheva paṭikkhipi. RTE: paṭikkhipati, similarly on the next line.
After a few days had passed they spoke again, and again he refused.

Puna pi kathayiṁsu, puna pi paṭikkhipi.
Again they spoke, again he refused.

Tato paṭṭhāya Mātā nirantaraṁ kathesi RTE: katheti. yeva.
From then on his Mother spoke incessantly about it.

Māṇavo: ‘Mama Mātaraṁ saññāpessāmī,’ ti
The young brāhmaṇa, thinking: ‘I must convince my Mother,’

rattasuvaṇṇassa nikkhasahassaṁ RTE: rattasuvaṇṇanikkhasahassaṁ. datvā,
gave a thousand coins of red gold,

suvaṇṇakārehi ekaṁ itthirūpaṁ kārāpetvā, SHB, PTS: kāretvā.
had a woman’s form made by the goldsmiths,

tassa majjanaghaṭṭanādikammapariyosāne, RTE: samajjana-.
and at the end of the work he rubbed and polished it and so on,

taṁ rattavatthaṁ RTE: rattavatthāni. nivāsāpetvā,
dressed it in red clothes,

vaṇṇasampannehi pupphehi ceva nānā-alaṅkārehi ca alaṅkārāpetvā
had it adorned with various ornaments and colourful flowers,

Mātaraṁ pakkosāpetvā āha: SHB, PTS omit: āha.
summoned his Mother and said:

“Amma, evarūpaṁ ārammaṇaṁ labhanto gehe vasissāmi, SHB, PTS: ṭhassāmi.
“Mother, finding someone of such a form I will live in a household,

alabhanto na vasissāmī.” ti SHB, PTS: ṭhassāmī ti.
but not finding her I will not live (there).”

Paṇḍitā brāhmaṇī cintesi:
The wise brāhmaṇī thought:

“Mayhaṁ putto puññavā dinnadāno katābhinīhāro,
“My meritorious son must have formed a resolution and given gifts,

puññaṁ karonto na ekako va akāsi,
he wasn’t making merit by himself alone,

addhā etena saha katapuññā suvaṇṇarūpakapaṭibhāgā va RTE omits: va. bhavissatī.” ti
surely there will be a woman whom he made merit with who is like this golden statue.”

Aṭṭha brāhmaṇe pakkosāpetvā sabbakāmehi santappetvā,
She summoned eight brāhmaṇas and satisfied them with all they wished for,

suvaṇṇarūpakaṁ rathaṁ RTE: rathe. āropetvā:
and mounted the golden statue on a chariot,

“Gacchatha, Tātā, yattha amhākaṁ jātigottabhogehi samānakule, PTS: samāne kule.
saying: “Go, Dears, and wherever there is a family similar to ours in birth, lineage and wealth,

evarūpaṁ dārikaṁ passatha imam-eva RTE: idam-eva. suvaṇṇarūpakaṁ
look for a girl who is like this golden statue,

paṇṇākāraṁ SHB: saccakāraṁ. katvā dethā,” ti uyyojesi.
and after making a present, give it (to her),” and she sent them off.

Te: ‘Amhākaṁ nāma etaṁ kamman,’-ti nikkhamitvā,
They (thought): ‘This is our work,’ and departed,

‘Kattha gamissāmā?’ ti cintetvā,
thinking: ‘Where will we go?’

‘Maddaraṭṭhaṁ nāma itthākaro, Maddaraṭṭhaṁ gamissāmā,’ ti
and: ‘The Madda country is a mine of women, let us go to the Madda country,’

Maddaraṭṭhe Sāgalanagaraṁ agamaṁsu.
they went to the Madda country and to the Sāgala town.

Tattha taṁ RTE omits: taṁ. suvaṇṇarūpakaṁ nahānatitthe ṭhapetvā ekamante RTE: ekam-antaṁ. nisīdiṁsu.
They set up the golden statue there at the bathing ghat and sat down on one side.


Atha Bhaddāya dhātī Bhaddaṁ nahāpetvā alaṅkaritvā, sirigabbhe nisīdāpetvā,
Then Bhaddā’s nurse washed and decorated Bhaddā and made her sit in the royal bed chamber,

nahāyituṁ gacchantī, SHB, PTS, ChS: āgacchantī. taṁ rūpakaṁ disvā,
and while going to bathe, she saw the statue,

‘Ayyadhītā me idhāgatā,’ ti saññāya santajjetvā, PTS: tajjetvā.
and thinking: ‘The Noble Lady has come here,’ she made a threatening gesture,

“Dubbinīte kiṁ tvaṁ idhāgatā?” ti talasattikaṁ uggiritvā,
saying: “Why are you so obstinate as to come here?” and lifting up her hand threateningly,

“Gaccha sīghan!”-ti gaṇḍapasse pahari.
she said: “Go (back) quickly!” and slapped it on the side.

Hattho pāsāṇe paṭihato viya vikampittha. ChS: kampittha.
Her hand trembled like she had struck a rock.

Sā paṭikkamitvā: SHB, PTS adds: va. “Evaṁ thaddhaṁ nāma!”
Stepping back, she said: “It is so hard!”

Mahāgīvaṁ disvā: RTE: evaṁ thaddhabhāvaṁ ñatvā pakkamitvā suvaṇṇarūpakaṁ disvā. ‘Ayyadhītā me,’ ti saññaṁ uppādesiṁ,
Seeing her stiff neck, thinking: ‘My Noble Lady,’ she made a gesture,

“Ayyadhītāya hi me nivāsanapaṭiggāhikāya pi ayuttā,” ti āha.
and said: “This is inappropriate for a Noble Lady who is dressed by me!”


Atha naṁ te manussā parivāretvā: “Evarūpā te Sāmidhītā?” ti pucchiṁsu.
Then those men surrounded her and asked: “Is your Master’s daughter like this?”

“Kiṁ esā imāya sataguṇena sahassaguṇena mayhaṁ Ayyā ChS: Ayyādhītā. abhirūpatarā,
“Why this is as lovely as my Noble Lady, who has a hundred, even a thousand, virtues,

dvādasahatthe gabbhe nisinnāya padīpakiccaṁ natthi,
there is nothing that can hold a candle to her when she is sat in her twelve-cubit chamber,

sarīrobhāseneva tamaṁ vidhamatī!” ti
the radiance of her body destroys the darkness!”

“Tena hi āgacchā,” ti SHB: āgacchāhī ti; RTE: āgacchāmā ti. pūjaṁ ChS: khujjaṁ. gahetvā, suvaṇṇarūpakaṁ rathe ChS: rathaṁ. āropetvā,
“Then come,” and they took the offering, mounted the golden statue on a chariot,

Kosiyagottassa brāhmaṇassa RTE omits: brāhmaṇassa. gharadvāre ṭhatvā āgamanaṁ nivedayiṁsu.
and stopped at the gate of the house of the brāhmaṇa of the Kosiya clan and announced their coming.

Brāhmaṇo paṭisanthāraṁ katvā: “Kuto āgatatthā?” ti pucchi.
The brāhmaṇa received them well and asked: “From where did you come?”

“Magadharaṭṭhe Mahātitthagāme Kapilabrāhmaṇassa gharato.” ti
“From the house of the brāhmaṇa Kapila in the Great Ford village in the Magadha country.”

“Kiṁ kāraṇā āgatā?” ti
“For what reason have you come?”

“Iminā nāma kāraṇenā.” ti
“For this reason,” (and they explained).

“Kalyāṇaṁ, Tātā, samajātigottavibhavo RTE: samānajāti-. amhākaṁ brāhmaṇo,
“It is good, Dears, this brāhmaṇa has the same birth, lineage and wealth as us,

dassāma ChS: dassāmi. dārikan,” ti paṇṇākāraṁ gaṇhi.
we will give (him) the girl,” and he received the bride-gift.

Te Kapilabrāhmaṇassa sāsanaṁ pahiṇiṁsu:
They sent a message to the brāhmaṇa Kapila,

“Laddhā dārikā, kattabbaṁ karothā.” ti
saying: “Having found the girl, please do what should be done.”

Taṁ sāsanaṁ sutvā Pippalimāṇavassa ārocayiṁsu:
After hearing the message, they informed the young brāhmaṇa Pippali,

“Laddhā kira dārikā.” ti
saying: “It seems the girl has been found.”

Māṇavo: ‘Ahaṁ na labhissantī ti cintesiṁ, ime laddhā ti vadanti.
The young brāhmaṇa (reflecting): ‘I thought they will not find (her), and now they say she is found.

Anatthiko hutvā, paṇṇaṁ pesessāmī,’ ti
Misfortune has arisen, I will send her a letter,’

rahogato paṇṇaṁ likhi.
and having gone into seclusion he wrote a letter.

“Bhaddā attano jātigottabhogānurūpaṁ gharāvāsaṁ labhatu,
“Bhaddā should gain a household life suitable to her birth, lineage and wealth,

ahaṁ nikkhamitvā pabbajissāmi, mā pacchā vippaṭisārinī ahosī.” ti
(but) having renounced, I will go forth, do not regret it later.”


Bhaddā pi: “Asukassa kira SHB, PTS: nāma kira. maṁ dātukāmo,” ti sutvā,
Bhaddā also, having heard: “It seems they desire to give me to such and such,”

rahogatā paṇṇaṁ likhi.
went into seclusion and wrote a letter.

“Ayyaputto attano jātigottabhogānurūpaṁ gharāvāsaṁ labhatu,
“The Noble Sir should gain a household life suitable to his birth, lineage and wealth,

ahaṁ nikkhamitvā pabbajissāmi, mā pacchā vippaṭisārī ahosī.” ti
(but) having renounced, I will go forth, do not regret it later.”


Dve paṇṇāni antarāmagge samāgacchiṁsu.
The two letter bearers met on the highway.

“Idaṁ kassa paṇṇan?”-ti
“Whose letter is this?”

“Pippalimāṇavena Bhaddāya pahitan.”-ti
“The young brāhmaṇa Pippali send it to Bhaddā.”

“Idaṁ kassa paṇṇan?”-ti RTE, ChS: “Idaṁ kassā?” ti.
“This is whose letter?”

“Bhaddāya Pippalimāṇavassa pahitan,”-ti ca vutte dve pi vācetvā,
“Bhaddā sent it to the young brāhmaṇa Pippali,” and after saying that and reading (the letters),

“Passatha dārakānaṁ kamman”-ti
saying: “Look at the children’s deeds!”

phāletvā araññe chaḍḍetvā,
they tore them up and threw them away in the wilderness,

samānapaṇṇaṁ likhitvā, ito ca etto ca pesesuṁ. SHB: etesaṁ pesesuṁ; RTE: etesuṁ pesesuṁ; PTS: etesuṁ pesenti.
wrote similar letters, and sent them from here and there.

Iti tesaṁ anicchamānānaṁ yeva samāgamo ahosi.
Thus neither (Pippali nor Bhaddā) wished there to be a meeting.


Taṁ divasam-eva māṇavo SHB, RTE: taṁ divasaṁ yeva māṇavo pi. ekaṁ pupphadāmaṁ gahetvā ṭhapesi.
The day (they married) the young brāhmaṇa took a garland of flowers and set it up. There seems to be an ellipsis in the story here as they are now married, but it doesn’t say how that came about.

Bhaddā pi tāni sayanamajjhe ṭhapesi. RTE: Bhaddā pi Kāpilānī sayanamajjhe ṭhapetvā; SHB, PTS: Bhaddā pi tāni vāmena majjhe ṭhapetvā.
Bhaddā also set (one up) in the middle of the bed.

Bhuttasāyam-āsā ubho pi: ‘Sayanaṁ abhiruhissāmā,’ ti samāgantvā,
Having enjoyed supper they both thought: ‘We will go up and lie down,’ and having met (in the bedroom),

māṇavo dakkhiṇapassena sayanaṁ abhiruhi,
the young brāhmaṇa went up and lay down on his right side,

Bhaddā vāmapassena abhiruhitvā āha:
and Bhaddā after laying down on her left side, said:

“Yassa passe pupphāni milāyanti tassa rāgacittaṁ uppannan-ti vijānissāma, RTE: jānissāma; SHB, PTS: vijānissāmā ti.
“On whichever side the flowers fade we will know that a lustful thought arose to the one (on that side),

imaṁ pupphadāmaṁ na allīyitabban.”-ti
you should not come near this garland of flowers.”

Te pana aññam-aññaṁ sarīrasamphassabhayena
Through fear of their bodies coming into contact with each other

tiyāmarattiṁ niddaṁ anokkamantā RTE, PTS: anokkantā. va vītināmenti,
they passed the time without falling asleep during the three watches of the night

divā pana hasanam-attam-pi ChS: hāsamattam pi. nāhosi.
and during the day there was no laughter.


Te lokāmisena asaṁsaṭṭhā yāva Mātāpitaro dharanti,
For as long as their Mothers and Fathers continued they were unaffected by material life in this world,

tāva kuṭumbaṁ avicāretvā, tesu kālaṅkatesu vicārayiṁsu.
and they did not manage the family estates, but with their passing, they had to manage them.

Pippalimāṇavassa ChS: Mahatī māṇavassa. sampatti sattāsītikoṭidhanaṁ.
The young brāhmaṇa Pippali was very wealthy, having eight hundred and seventy million.

Ekadivasaṁ sarīraṁ ubbaṭṭetvā chaḍḍetabbaṁ SHB, chaḍḍhetabba-; PTS: chaḍḍetabba-. suvaṇṇacuṇṇam-eva,
The golden powder that was thrown away after bathing his body for one day,

Magadhanāḷiyā dvādasanāḷimattaṁ SHB: dvādasanāḷī; PTS: dvādasanāḷiṁ. laddhuṁ vaṭṭati.
was enough for twelve measures by the Magadha measure.

Yantabaddhāni saṭṭhimattāni taḷākāni, ChS: saṭṭhi mahātaḷākāni.
There were at least sixty reservoirs with irrigation machines,

kammanto dvādasayojaniko, Anurādhapurappamāṇā cuddasa gāmā, RTE: Anurādhapurappamāṇo dāsagāmo.
his workplace was twelve leagues, there were fourteen Anurādhapura-sized villages, The Great Commentator Buddhaghosa was residing in Anurādhapūra, the ancient Sri Lankan capital, when he compiled the commentaries.

cuddasa hatthānīkā, cuddasa assānīkā, cuddasa rathānīkā. RTE: hatthānikā . assānikā . rathānikā.
fourteen elephant armies, fourteen horse armies and fourteen chariot armies.


So ekadivasaṁ alaṅkata-assaṁ RTE: alaṅkatāssaṁ. āruyha SHB, PTS: alaṅkatarathaṁ abhiruyha.
One day, after mounting a decorated horse

mahājanaparivuto kammantaṁ gantvā,
and going to work surrounded by the populace,

khettakoṭiyaṁ ṭhito naṅgalehi bhinnaṭṭhānato,
standing at the top of ten million fields that were being broken by the plough,

kākādayo sakuṇe gaṇḍuppāpādike pāṇake ChS: gaṇḍuppādādipāṇake. uddharitvā, khādante disvā,
and having seen the birds, beginning with the crows, digging up and eating the earth worms, and insects and so on,

“Tātā, ime kiṁ khādantī?” ti pucchi.
he asked: “Dear, what are they eating?”

“Gaṇḍuppāde, Ayyā.” ti
“Earth worms, Noble Sir.”

“Etehi kataṁ pāpaṁ kassa hotī?” ti
“Who (pays) for the wickedness done by these (birds)?”

“Tumhākaṁ, Ayyā.” ti
“You do, Noble Sir.”

So cintesi: ‘Sace etehi kataṁ pāpaṁ mayhaṁ hoti,
He thought: ‘If mine is (the result) for the wickedness done by these,

kiṁ me karissati sattāsītikoṭidhanaṁ,
what will I do with eight hundred and seventy million,

kiṁ dvādasayojaniko kammanto,
what use is a workplace of twelve leagues,

kiṁ saṭṭhi yantabaddhāni taḷākāni,
what use sixty reservoirs with irrigation machines,

kiṁ cuddasa gāmā? RTE: kiṁ dāsagāmā.
what use fourteen villages?

Sabbam-etaṁ Bhaddāya Kāpilāniyā niyyādetvā ChS: niyyātetvā. nikkhamma pabbajissāmī.’ ti
Having given everything over to Bhaddā Kāpilānī I will renounce and go forth.’


Bhaddā pi Kāpilānī tasmiṁ khaṇe,
Bhaddā Kāpilānī at that time,

antaravatthusmiṁ ChS: -vatthumhi. tayo tilakumbhe pattharāpetvā,
three pots of sesame seeds having being sown over the inner fields,

dhātīhi parivutā nisinnā, kāke SHB, PTS: kākehi. tilapāṇake khādamāne ChS: khādante. disvā,
was sitting surrounded by her helpers, and saw crows eating the worms (that dwelt) in the sesame,

“Ammā, kiṁ ime khādantī?” ti pucchi.
and asked: “Lady, what are they eating?”

“Pāṇake, Ayye.” ti
“Worms, Noble Lady.”

“Akusalaṁ kassa hotī?” ti
“Whose is the unwholesome (result)?”

“Tumhākaṁ, Ayye.” ti
“Yours, Noble Lady.”

Sā cintesi:
She thought:

‘Mayhaṁ catuhatthavatthaṁ nāḷikodanamattañ-ca laddhuṁ vaṭṭati,
’Four cubit of clothes and a mere measure of milk-rice is enough for me,

yadi panetaṁ ettakena janena kataṁ akusalaṁ mayhaṁ hoti,
but if the unwholesome (deeds) done by this many people is mine,

addhā SHB, PTS omit: addhā. bhavasahassena pi vaṭṭato sīsaṁ ukkhipituṁ na sakkā,
it is certainly not possible to lift my head from the round (of births and deaths) through a thousand rebirths,

Ayyaputte āgatamatte yeva sabbaṁ tassa niyyādetvā,
having given everything over to the Noble Sir as soon as he returns,

nikkhamma pabbajissāmī.’ ti
I will renounce and go forth.’


Māṇavo āgantvā nahāyitvā RTE: nhatvā; SHB, PTS: nahatvā. pāsādaṁ āruyha mahārahe pallaṅke nisīdi.
The young brāhmaṇa returned after bathing, ascended the mansion and sat down on an expensive couch.

Athassa RTE, PTS: Atha. Cakkavattino anucchavikaṁ SHB, PTS: anucchavika-. bhojanaṁ sajjayiṁsu.
They prepared a meal for him suitable for a Universal Monarch.

Dve pi bhuñjitvā, parijane nikkhante, rahogatā RTE: rahogate. phāsukaṭṭhāne nisīdiṁsu.
After they both had eaten, and with the departure of the attendants, they sat down on a comfortable spot in seclusion.

Tato māṇavo Bhaddaṁ āha:
Then the young brāhmaṇa said this to Bhaddā:

“Bhadde imaṁ gharaṁ āgacchantī kittakaṁ dhanaṁ āharī?” ti
“Bhaddā, when coming to this house how much wealth did you bring?”

“Pañcapaṇṇāsa sakaṭasahassāni, Ayyā.” ti
“Fifty-five thousand carts, Noble Sir.”

“Etaṁ sabbaṁ, yā ca PTS: yāva. imasmiṁ ghare sattāsītikoṭiyo, SHB, PTS: satta-asītikoṭiyo.
° “There is all this wealth, plus eight hundred and seventy million,

yantabaddhā saṭṭhi taḷākādibhedā, RTE, PTS add: ca. sampatti atthi,
and sixty reservoirs with irrigation machines and so on,

sabbaṁ tuyhaṁ yeva niyyādesin.”-ti ChS: niyyātemī ti.
I give all of this over to you.”

“Tumhe pana kuhiṁ ChS: kahaṁ. gacchatha, Ayyā?” ti
“But where will you go, Noble Sir?”

“Ahaṁ pabbajissāmī.” ti
“I will go forth.”

“Ayya, SHB, RTE, PTS omit: Ayya. aham-pi tumhākaṁ yeva āgamanaṁ olokayamānā nisinnā,
“Noble Sir, I also have been sitting here waiting for your coming,

aham-pi pabbajissāmī.” ti
I also will go forth.”

Tesaṁ ādittapaṇṇakuṭi viya tayo bhavā upaṭṭhahiṁsu.
The three states of continuation The sense worlds (kāmaloka), the form worlds (rūpaloka) and the formless worlds (arūpaloka). appeared to them like three leaf-huts that are burning.

Te antarāpaṇato kāsāyāni ChS: kasāvarasapītāni. vatthāni mattikāpatte ca āharāpetvā,
They had their clothes died yellow with astringents and clay bowls brought from the market,

aññam-aññaṁ kese ohārāpetvā:
shaved off each others’ hair,

“Ye loke Arahanto te uddissa amhākaṁ pabbajjā,” ti vatvā,
saying: “Our going forth is on account of those who are Liberated in the world,”

thavikāya patte osāretvā, aṁse laggetvā, pāsādato otariṁsu.
and depositing their bowls in their bags, and slinging them over the shoulder, they descended from the palace.

Gehe dāsesu vā kammakāresu SHB, PTS: kammakaresu. vā na koci sañjāni.
No one from the home, whether servants or workers, recognised them.

Atha ne SHB, PTS: te. brāhmaṇagāmato nikkhamma dāsagāmadvārena SHB, PTS: dāsakammakaragāmadvārena. gacchante,
Then, having departed from the brāhmaṇa village, while going through the entrance to the servants’ village,

ākappakuttavasena dāsagāmavāsino SHB, PTS: cuddasa gāmavāsino. sañjāniṁsu.
they were recognised by those living in the servants’ village by their gait and deportment.

Te rodantā pādesu nipatitvā: “Kiṁ amhe anāthe karotha, Ayyā?” ti āhaṁsu.
Throwing themselves at their feet crying, they said: “Noble Ones, why do you leave us helpless?”

“Mayaṁ bhaṇe ādittapaṇṇasālā viya tayo bhavā ti pabbajimhā, SHB, PTS: pabbajissāma.
° After saying: “We, friends, (having seen) that the three states of continuation are like three leaf-huts that are burning, are going forth,

sace tumhesu ekekaṁ bhujissaṁ karoma, vassasatam-pi nappahoti, PTS: nappahomā ti.
if we were to make you freemen one by one, it would not be possible with one hundred years (you are so many),

tumhe va RTE, PTS: tumhe ca. tumhākaṁ sīsaṁ dhovitvā, bhujissā hutvā jīvathā,” ti vatvā,
after washing each other’s heads, Apparently a sign that they were given their freedom. live as freemen,”

tesaṁ rodantānaṁ yeva pakkamiṁsu.
and leaving them crying they went away.


Thero purato gacchanto nivattitvā olokento SHB, PTS omit: nivattitvā olokento. cintesi:
The Elder, as he was going along in front, after stopping and looking,

‘Ayaṁ SHB, PTS omit: Ayaṁ. Bhaddā Kāpilānī sakala-Jambudīpagghanikā itthī,
thought: ‘This Bhaddā Kāpilānī, who is worth more than all the women in the Rose-Apple Isle,

mayhaṁ pacchato āgacchati.
is coming along behind me.

Ṭhānaṁ kho panetaṁ vijjati yaṁ kocid-eva evaṁ cinteyya:
But there may be a reason for someone to think thus:

‘Ime pabbajitvā pi vinā bhavituṁ na sakkonti, ananucchavikaṁ karontī.’ ti
‘Having gone forth they are not able to live apart, but that is unsuitable (for them).’

Koci vā pana amhesu RTE: koci nāma amhesu; SHB, PTS omit: amhesu. manaṁ padūsetvā, apāyapūrako bhaveyya,
If someone defiled their minds in this way, they might (risk) filling up the lower worlds,

imaṁ pahāya, mayā SHB, PTS: mayhaṁ. gantuṁ vaṭṭatī,’ ti cittaṁ uppādesi.
after abandoning her, it is right to go off by myself,’ (this) thought arose.

So purato gacchanto dvedhāpathaṁ disvā tassa PTS: tattha. matthake aṭṭhāsi.
While going forward he saw a junction in the path and stood at its head.

Bhaddā pi āgantvā vanditvā aṭṭhāsi.
Bhaddā came and worshipped and also stood there.

Atha naṁ āha: “Bhadde, tādisiṁ itthiṁ mama pacchato āgacchantiṁ disvā
Then he said to her: “Bhaddā, having seen such a woman as you following me,

‘Ime pabbajitvā pi vinā bhavituṁ na sakkontī,’ ti cintetvā,
and thinking: ‘Having gone forth they are not able to live apart,’

amhesu paduṭṭhacitto mahājano apāyapūrako bhaveyya,
through us the people may defile their minds, and might fill up the lower worlds,

imasmiṁ dvedhāpathe tvaṁ RTE: dvedhāpathe ṭhatvā. ekaṁ gaṇha, ahaṁ ekena gamissāmī.” ti
(therefore) at this junction you take one (road), and I will go by another.”

“Āma, Ayya, pabbajitānaṁ mātugāmo nāma malaṁ:
“Yes, Noble Sir, for those gone forth, women are known as a stain,

‘Pabbajitvā pi RTE adds: ime. vinā na bhavantī,’ ti amhākaṁ dosaṁ dassanti,
thinking: ‘Having gone forth these are not living apart,’ they will make the fault ours,

tumhe ekaṁ maggaṁ gaṇhatha, ahaṁ ekaṁ gaṇhitvā, SHB, PTS omit: ahaṁ ekaṁ gaṇhitvā. vinā bhavissāmā.” ti
you take one path, I will take another, and we will live apart.”

Tikkhattuṁ padakkhiṇaṁ katvā,
After reverentially circumambulating him three times,

catūsu ṭhānesu pañcapatiṭṭhitena vanditvā,
worshipping with the five-fold prostration on all four sides,

dasanakhasamodhānasamujjalaṁ añjaliṁ paggayha,
extending a reverential salutation with the ten fingernails joined together,

“Satasahassakappappamāṇe SHB, PTS: Satasahassakappaparimāṇe. addhāne kato mittasanthavo
° saying: “Our friendship and fellowship that ran over a measure of one hundred thousand aeons

ajja bhijjatī,” ti vatvā:
is broken today,” This seems to presage her ability to know past lives, although this was happening before her ordination or attainment.

“Tumhe dakkhiṇajātikā nāma, tumhākaṁ dakkhiṇamaggo vaṭṭati,
and “You are known as one belonging to the right, the right path is suitable for you,

mayaṁ mātugāmā nāma vāmajātikā, amhākaṁ vāmamaggo SHB, PTS: vāmo maggo. vaṭṭatī,” ti
I am a woman belonging to the left, the left path is suitable for me,”

vanditvā maggaṁ paṭipannā.
after worshipping, she entered the (left) path.

Tesaṁ dvedhābhūtakāle RTE: dvedhāgatakāle. ayaṁ mahāpathavī,
At the time of this juncture the great earth,

“Ahaṁ SHB, PTS omit: Ahaṁ. cakkavāḷagirisinerupabbate dhāretuṁ sakkontī pi, RTE: sakkomi, omits: pi; PTS omits: pi.
° as though saying: “This universe with its mountains and Mount Sineru I am able to bear,

tumhākaṁ guṇe dhāretuṁ na sakkomī,” ti vadantī viya viravamānā akampi,
but your virtue I am unable to bear,” quaked with a roar,

ākāse asanisaddo viya pavatti, SHB: pavattittha; RTE: vaṭṭati; PTS: pavattati. cakkavāḷapabbato unnadi. SHB: uṇṇami; RTE: oṇami; PTS: unnamati.
which spread like thunderstorms in the sky, and the mountain (at the centre of the) universe resounded.

* * *

Mahākassapathero RTE, ChS: -tthero. pana dakkhiṇamaggaṁ gahetvā,
But the Elder Mahā Kassapa, after taking the right hand road,

Dasabalassa santikaṁ Bahuputtakanigrodhamūlaṁ gato,
went into the One of Ten Power’s presence at the root of the Many Sons’ Banyan Tree (shrine),

ayaṁ Bhaddā Kāpilānī vāmamaggaṁ gaṇhitvā, RTE: gaṇhitvā va.
while Bhaddā Kāpilānī, after taking the left hand road,

mātugāmassa pabbajjāya ananuññātabhāvena Paribbājikārāmaṁ agamāsi.
because there wasn’t (yet) permission for women to go forth, went to the Wandering Nuns’ monastery.

Yadā pana Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī ChS: Mahāpajāpatigotamī. pabbajjañ-ca labhi, RTE, ChS: Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī pabbajjañ-ca upasampadañ-ca labhi.
But when Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī received the going forth,

tadā sā Therī RTE omits: Therī. Theriyā santike pabbajjañ-ca upasampadañ-ca labhitvā,
then that Elder, It is curious that she should be called an Elder at this point, as she is still unordained in the nuns’ Community. after receiving the going forth and the higher ordination in the presence of the Elder Nun,

aparabhāge, vipassanāya kammaṁ karontī,
later, while working at insight meditation,

Arahattaṁ patvā pubbenivāsañāṇe ciṇṇavasī ahosi.
attained Liberation and became one who had mastered the knowledge of former lives.

Atha Satthā Jetavane nisīditvā, bhikkhuniyo paṭipāṭiyā ṭhānantaresu SHB, PTS, RTE: ṭhānantare. ṭhapento,
Then after the Teacher had sat down in Jeta’s Wood, as he was assigning the places of the nuns in order,

imaṁ Theriṁ pubbenivāsaṁ anussarantīnaṁ aggaṭṭhāne ṭhapesī ti.
he placed this Elder Nun in the foremost position amongst those who recollect their former lives.



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