Categories
The Book of the Sixes

6.2 Vāseṭṭhī Therī

Hope dawns even amid the most horrific suffering of homelessness and madness triggered by grief – meeting the Buddha began this mother’s journey from the worst state to the highest blessings of all.

“Puttasokenahaṁ aṭṭā,
khittacittā visaññinī;
Naggā pakiṇṇakesī ca,
tena tena vicārihaṁ.

Tormented by the loss of my child
deranged demented
Nude, hair matted
I wandered aimlessly.

Vīthi saṅkārakūṭesu,
susāne rathiyāsu ca;
Acariṁ tīṇi vassāni,
khuppipāsāsamappitā.

Resting in trash piles,
cemeteries and roadways;
Like this for three long years.
Hungry. Thirsty.

Athaddasāsiṁ sugataṁ,
nagaraṁ mithilaṁ pati;
Adantānaṁ dametāraṁ,
sambuddhamakutobhayaṁ.

Then I saw him, the Blessed One,
near the city of Mithilā,
The Awakened One, tamer of the feral heart;
Fearless.

Sacittaṁ paṭiladdhāna,
vanditvāna upāvisiṁ;
So me dhammamadesesi,
anukampāya gotamo.

Regaining my senses
I paid homage and sat near.
In compassion, Gotama himself
taught me the Dhamma.

Tassa dhammaṁ suṇitvāna,
pabbajiṁ anagāriyaṁ;
Yuñjantī satthuvacane,
sacchākāsiṁ padaṁ sivaṁ.

On hearing his teaching
I went forth as a nun.
Striving with his teaching
I realized the blessed state.

Sabbe sokā samucchinnā,
pahīnā etadantikā;
Pariññātā hi me vatthū,
yato sokāna sambhavo”ti.

All grief is cut off – eliminated.
Done.
Because I fully comprehended
where it came from.

Categories
The Book of the Sixes

6.3 Khemā Therī

A pick-up line is wasted on this beautiful young woman, a bhikkhuni who has thoroughly seen the truth.

“Daharā tvaṃ rūpavatī,
ahampi daharo yuvā;
Pañcaṅgikena turiyena,
ehi kheme ramāmase”.

139. “You’re young and so beautiful,
and I’m a young man
Come, Kemā, let’s enjoy music –
our five senses the instruments!”

“Iminā pūtikāyena,
āturena pabhaṅgunā;
Aṭṭiyāmi harāyāmi,
kāmataṇhā samūhatā.

140. This putrid body!
Miserable, flimsy! 
I’m done with it, I’m irritated by it! 
Desire for sense pleasure is eliminated.

Sattisūlūpamā kāmā,
khandhāsaṃ adhikuṭṭanā;
Yaṃ ‘tvaṃ kāmaratiṃ’ brūsi,
‘aratī’ dāni sā mama.

141. Sensual pleasures are like swords and spears,
The mind and body* [receive the blows] like a chopping block;
Though called delightful,
sensual pleasures no longer delight me.

Sabbattha vihatā nandī,
tamokhandho padālito;
Evaṃ jānāhi pāpima,
nihato tvamasi antaka.

142. Enjoyment killed at every level,
the mass of darkness destroyed;
You see, evil doer,
you’re defeated, death-maker.

Nakkhattāni namassantā,
aggiṃ paricaraṃ vane;
Yathābhuccamajānantā,
bālā suddhimamaññatha.

143. Revering the constellations,
tending the [brahmanical ritual] fire in the woods,
Missing ultimate truth;
this is “purification” to fools.1

Ahañca kho namassantī,
sambuddhaṃ purisuttamaṃ;
Pamuttā sabbadukkhehi,
satthusāsanakārikā”ti.”

144. Now I revere the best of beings,
the Awakened One;
Having done what he taught,
I am free from all suffering.”

Link to translation for teenagers

Suttas

In the Khemā Sutta, SN 44.1, King Pasenadi seeks out a suitable teacher while on a journey and visits Arahant Khemā. He receives a deep teaching on the nature of the Buddha.

In the Ekadhītu Sutta, SN 17.24, and the Āyācana Sutta, AN 4.176, she is held up, along with Uppalavaṇṇā Therī as what an ideal bhikkhunī should be.

Legends

In her present life, Arahant Khemā was appointed by the Buddha as one of his two chief bhikkhunī disciples. Formerly she was the wife of King Bimbisara. In the commentary to the Dhammapada, we learn how the king conspired to get her to visit the Buddha in the Bamboo Monastery. While there, the Buddha created an illusion of a beautiful woman who progressed from youth to old age and death. Upon seeing this, and hearing the words of the Buddha, she became an arahant on the spot and requested ordination.

Elsewhere in the Dhammapada commentary, the Buddha spoke a verse praising her wisdom.

In the commentary to the Buddha’s declaration of Mahāpajāpatī as the foremost Therī in terms of great wisdom, we learn of the actions she did in here previous life that lead to having this position in the Saṅgha. In the Therī Appadāna we can learn more about her.

Listen to the Pāli:

Recited by Ven. Ayya Sudhammā Therī
December 8th, 2020

Categories
The Book of the Sixes

6.4 Sujātā Therī

This young woman delighted in a festive day, but on the way home, felt inexplicably drawn towards a building hidden in the woods…

“Alaṅkatā suvasanā,
mālinī candanokkhitā;
Sabbābharaṇasañchannā,
dāsīgaṇapurakkhatā.

Looking glamorous, decked out in my finest,
Donning garlands of flowers, potent with sandalwood
Absolutely dripping with gold & jewels
And surrounded by my girls,

Annaṁ pānañca ādāya,
khajjaṁ bhojjaṃ anappakaṁ;
Gehato nikkhamitvāna,
uyyānamabhihārayiṁ.

Bringing food & drinks
Everything – entrees to desserts – in abundance,
I took off from the house
Headed to the entertainment park.

Tattha ramitvā kīḷitvā,
āgacchantī sakaṁ gharaṁ;
Vihāraṁ daṭṭhuṁ pāvisiṁ,
sākete añjanaṁ vanaṁ.

Had a great time hanging out and playing
Then on the way home
Near Sāketa Town, in Añjana Woods,
I saw and felt drawn into a monastery.

Disvāna lokapajjotaṁ,
vanditvāna upāvisiṁ;
So me dhammamadesesi,
anukampāya cakkhumā.

Finding the light of the world,
I paid homage and sat to one side;
In compassion the one with penetrative vision
Taught me the Dhamma.

Sutvā ca kho mahesissa,
saccaṁ sampaṭivijjhahaṁ;
Tattheva virajaṁ dhammaṁ,
phusayiṁ amataṁ padaṁ.

On hearing the great holy man
I penetrated the truth
Right there – the pure Dhamma!
The deathless state touched.

Tato viññātasaddhammā,
pabbajiṁ anagāriyaṁ;
Tisso vijjā anuppattā,
amoghaṁ buddhasāsanan”ti.

Then knowing the true Dhamma
I went forth into homelessness.
Attained is the Triple Knowledge;
Effective is the Buddha’s teaching!

Categories
The Book of the Sixes

6.5 Anopamā Therī

Named “Incomparable”, before she met the Blessed One and did a pivot, her beauty made her worth far more than her weight…in WHAT?!

“Ucce kule ahaṁ jātā,
bahuvitte mahaddhane;
Vaṇṇarūpena sampannā,
dhītā majjhassa atrajā.

151. I came from a preeminent family
Prosperous and wealthy
Endowed with fine complexion and figure
Truly I was the daughter of Megha.

Patthitā rājaputtehi,
seṭṭhiputtehi gijjhitā;
Pitu me pesayī dūtaṁ,
detha mayhaṁ anopamaṁ.

152. Sons of kings sought me
Sons of millionaires craved me
One even messaged my father:
“Give me Anopamā!

Yattakaṁ tulitā esā,
tuyhaṁ dhītā anopamā;
Tato aṭṭhaguṇaṁ dassaṁ,
hiraññaṁ ratanāni ca.

153. However much she weighs –
Your daughter, the Incomparable –
Eight times that much I’ll give you
In raw gold and precious gems!”

Sāhaṁ disvāna sambuddhaṁ,
lokajeṭṭhaṁ anuttaraṁ;
Tassa pādāni vanditvā,
ekamantaṁ upāvisiṁ.

154. Yet I saw the Awakened One,
Foremost in the world, unsurpassed!
Having paid homage at his feet
I sat to one side.

So me dhammamadesesi,
anukampāya gotamo;
Nisinnā āsane tasmiṁ,
phusayiṁ tatiyaṁ phalaṁ.

155. He taught me the Dhamma –
Gotama himself – in compassion;
Sitting on that very seat
I reached the third fruit.2

Tato kesāni chetvāna,
pabbajiṁ anagāriyaṁ;
Ajja me sattamī ratti,
yato taṇhā visositā”ti.

156. Cutting my hair
I went forth to homelessness;
This is the seventh day
Since my craving dried up.

Categories
The Book of the Sixes

6.6 Mahāpajāpati Gotamī Therī

Known as “foremost” of the sisters, it was she who raised Prince Siddhattha from infancy, and pioneered the Sangha of Bhikkhunis.

“Buddha vīra namo tyatthu,
sabbasattānamuttama;
Yo maṁ dukkhā pamocesi,
aññañca bahukaṁ janaṁ.

157. Buddha, hero, homage to you!
Greatest of all beings –
Who released me from suffering
And many others as well.

Sabbadukkhaṁ pariññātaṁ,
Hetutaṇhā visositā;
Bhāvito aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo,
Nirodho phusito mayā.

158. All suffering: well understood!
Its cause – desire: dried up!
The eightfold path: developed!
Cessation: attained by me!

Mātā putto pitā bhātā,
ayyakā ca pure ahuṁ;
Yathābhuccamajānantī,
saṁsariṁhaṁ anibbisaṁ.

159. Mother son father brother
Grandma too – I’ve been them all;
I wandered on and on
Missing ultimate truth.

Diṭṭho hi me so bhagavā,
antimoyaṁ samussayo;
Vikkhīṇo jātisaṁsāro,
natthi dāni punabbhavo.

160. Then I saw him, the Exalted One
And this body is my last.
Rebirth-wandering abolished
Never again to become.

Āraddhavīriye pahitatte,
Niccaṁ daḷhaparakkame;
Samagge sāvake passe,
Esā buddhāna vandanā.

161. Energetic from the start and resolute,
Constantly making effort
And unified – see these disciples:
Now that’s homage to the Buddha!

Bahūnaṁ vata atthāya,
Māyā janayi gotamaṁ;
Byādhimaraṇatunnānaṁ,
Dukkhakkhandhaṁ byapānudī”ti.

162. For the welfare of the world
Māyā gave birth to Gotama;
For those stricken by sickness and death
He swept away the mass of suffering.

Suttas

In the Dakkhiṇāvibhaṅga Sutta, MN 142, Ven. Mahāpajāpatī tries to offer a robe she has made to the Buddha as a personal gift. He explains the different types of gifts and the benifits of giving to a saṅgha.

In the Nandakovāda Sutta, MN 146, She requests a Dhamma talk that leads to the enlightenment of her 500 companions.

In the Saṁkhitta Sutta AN 8.53, she asks for a Dhamma lesson in brief and the Buddha explains how she can know what is and is not his teachings.

Legends

In the commentary to the Buddha’s declaration of Mahāpajāpatī as the foremost Therī in terms of seniority, we learn of the actions she did in here previous life that lead to having this position in the Saṅgha. In the Therī Appadāna we can learn more about her.

Categories
The Book of the Sixes

6.7 Guttā Therī

Guttā, whose name means Guarded, shares the reflections that helped her guard her mind to escape its wayward control.

Gutte yadatthaṁ pabbajjā,
hitvā puttaṁ vasuṁ piyaṁ;
Tameva anubrūhehi,
mā cittassa vasaṁ gami.

Guttā, the aspiration for which you went forth –
Giving up motherhood, wealth and all that you cherished –
Devote yourself to that.
Don’t let your mind take you for a ride. 2

Cittena vañcitā sattā,
mārassa visaye ratā;
Anekajātisaṁsāraṁ,
sandhāvanti aviddasū.

Deceived by the mind
Delighting in Māra’s stomping grounds,
Sentient beings journey through countless rebirths
Fools wander on.

Kāmacchandañca byāpādaṁ,
sakkāyadiṭṭhimeva ca;
Sīlabbataparāmāsaṁ,
vicikicchañca pañcamaṁ.

Sense desires, ill-will
And belief in a self
Rites & rituals wrongly clutched
And doubt as the fifth;

Saṁyojanāni etāni,
pajahitvāna bhikkhunī;
Orambhāgamanīyāni,
nayidaṁ punarehisi.

Having abandoned These fetters, Bhikkhunī,
Which lead downwards,
You’ll not return again.

Rāgaṁ mānaṁ avijjañca,
uddhaccañca vivajjiya;
Saṁyojanāni chetvāna,
dukkhassantaṁ karissasi.

Forsaking desire (for existence),
Conceit, ignorance and restlessness;
Having cut these (final) fetters
You’ll be done with suffering.

Khepetvā jātisaṁsāraṁ,
pariññāya punabbhavaṁ;
Diṭṭheva dhamme nicchātā,
upasantā carissatī”ti.

Finished with the cycle of rebirths
Fully understanding renewed existence
With a mind free from hunger 2
You will go in peace.

Categories
The Book of the Sixes

6.8 Vijayā Therī

After gaining a comprehensive Dhamma teaching from a wise bhikkhuni (elsewhere identified as her close friend in lay-life, Arahant Khemā), Vijayā gained victory over her disturbed mind, to attain the highest goal.

Catukkhattuṁ pañcakkhattuṁ,
vihārā upanikkhamiṁ;
Aladdhā cetaso santiṁ,
citte avasavattinī.

Four times, maybe five
I quit the monastery
Never gaining peace of heart
My mind out of control.

Bhikkhuniṁ upasaṅkamma,
sakkaccaṁ paripucchahaṁ;
Sā me dhammamadesesi,
dhātuāyatanāni ca.

Having approached a bhikkhuni
I respectfully interrogated her.
She pointed out to me the Dhamma –
(Four) elements, (six) sense bases

Cattāri ariyasaccāni,
indriyāni balāni ca;
Bojjhaṅgaṭṭhaṅgikaṁ maggaṁ,
uttamatthassa pattiyā.

Four noble truths
(Five) faculties & powers
(Seven) enlightenment factors and eightfold path –
To attain the highest goal.

Tassāhaṁ vacanaṁ sutvā,
karontī anusāsaniṁ;
Rattiyā purime yāme,
pubbajātimanussariṁ.

Having listened to her words
Doing her instruction…
In the first of the night:
Past-life recollection.

Rattiyā majjhime yāme,
dibbacakkhuṁ visodhayiṁ;
Rattiyā pacchime yāme,
tamokhandhaṁ padālayiṁ.

In the middle of the night:
Divine eye purified.
In the last of the night:
The mass of darkness destroyed.

Pītisukhena ca kāyaṁ,
Pharitvā vihariṁ tadā;
Sattamiyā pāde pasāresiṁ,
Tamokhandhaṁ padāliyā”ti.

Having pervaded this body with bliss and happiness
I then remained there;
On the seventh day I stretched my legs
Having destroyed the mass of darkness.

Chakkanipāto niṭṭhito.

The Book of the Sixes is finished.

Categories
The Book of the Sevens

7.1 Uttarā Therī (2nd)

We see industrious men succeeding in life, but can we, too, succeed in our wish, if we try? From a wise woman Uttarā learned the answer.

“Musalāni gahetvāna,
dhaññaṁ koṭṭenti māṇavā;
Puttadārāni posentā,
dhanaṁ vindanti māṇavā.

“Taking pestles
Young men grind grain –
(Having done this)
Supporting wife & kids
Young men gain wealth

Ghaṭetha buddhasāsane,
yaṁ katvā nānutappati;
Khippaṁ pādāni dhovitvā,
ekamantaṁ nisīdatha.

“So make effort with the Buddha’s teaching –
Having done this, you’ll never regret it.
Hurry! rinse your feet
Go find a place to sit3

Cittaṁ upaṭṭhapetvāna,
ekaggaṁ susamāhitaṁ;
Paccavekkhatha saṅkhāre,
parato no ca attato”.

“Gather the mind
Unified and well-stilled
Consider formations
As alien, not self.”

“Tassāhaṁ vacanaṁ sutvā,
paṭācārānusāsaniṁ;
Pāde pakkhālayitvāna,
ekamante upāvisiṁ.

Having heard what she said
Paṭācārā’s instruction
I rinsed my feet
And found a place to sit.

Rattiyā purime yāme,
pubbajātimanussariṁ;
Rattiyā majjhime yāme,
dibbacakkhuṁ visodhayiṁ.

In the first of the night:
Past-life recollection.
In the middle of the night:
Divine eye purified.

Rattiyā pacchime yāme,
tamokhandhaṁ padālayiṁ;
Tevijjā atha vuṭṭhāsiṁ,
katā te anusāsanī.

In the last of the night:
The mass of darkness destroyed.
I arose with the Triple Knowledge –
Done is your instruction.

Sakkaṁva devā tidasā,
saṅgāme aparājitaṁ;
Purakkhatvā vihassāmi,
tevijjāmhi anāsavā”.

Like Sakka, whom the 30 gods (honor)
(The one) triumphant in battle
(You) will always be honored by me
Having the Triple Knowledge, I am taintless.

Categories
The Book of the Sevens

7.2 Cālā Therī

An evil guy tries to shame this bhikkhuni out of her peaceful meditation, but she claps back.

Satiṁ upaṭṭhapetvāna,
bhikkhunī bhāvitindriyā;
Paṭivijjhi padaṁ santaṁ,
saṅkhārūpasamaṁ sukhaṁ”.

Mindfulness gathered
This bhikkhuni developed (five) faculties,
Broke through to the peaceful state
The happiness of stilling all formations…

[Māra interrupts her reverie 2]

Kaṁ nu uddissa muṇḍāsi,
samaṇī viya dissasi;
Na ca rocesi pāsaṇḍe,
kimidaṁ carasi momuhā”.

“For whom did you shave your head?
You appear as though a nun
Yet you don’t follow religious folk
Why do you wander foolishly?”

Ito bahiddhā pāsaṇḍā,
diṭṭhiyo upanissitā;
Na te dhammaṁ vijānanti,
na te dhammassa kovidā.

“Outsiders, religious folk
Rely on false views
They don’t know the Dhamma
They have no wisdom in the Dhamma

Atthi sakyakule jāto,
buddho appaṭipuggalo;
So me dhammamadesesi,
diṭṭhīnaṁ samatikkamaṁ.

There exists, born to the Sakyans,
The Awakened, incomparable;
He taught me the Dhamma
Going beyond views:

Dukkhaṁ dukkhasamuppādaṁ,
Dukkhassa ca atikkamaṁ;
Ariyaṁ caṭṭhaṅgikaṁ maggaṁ,
Dukkhūpasamagāminaṁ.

Suffering, suffering’s origin,
Suffering’s transcendence, and
The noble eightfold path
That leads to the stilling of suffering.2

Tassāhaṁ vacanaṁ sutvā,
vihariṁ sāsane ratā;
Tisso vijjā anuppattā,
kataṁ buddhassa sāsanaṁ.

On hearing his words
I lived delighting in his teaching
Attained is the Triple Knowledge
Done is the Buddha’s teaching

Sabbattha vihatā nandī,
tamokhandho padālito;
Evaṁ jānāhi pāpima,
nihato tvamasi antaka”.

Enjoyment killed at every level
The mass of darkness destroyed;
You see, evil-doer
You’re defeated, death-maker.”

Note: This and the following two poems loosely match some stanzas of the conversations with Māra at SN 5.6, 5.7, 5.8, but with the names switched around. According to tradition all three, Cālā, Upacālā and Sīsūpacālā, were sisters of the greatest monk, Ven. Sāriputta.

Please see the short essay Knowing Māra.

Categories
The Book of the Sevens

7.3 Upacālā Therī

An evil guy tries to start a flirtatious debate to provoke this bhikkhuni out of her peaceful meditation, but she shuts down his argument.

Satimatī cakkhumatī,
bhikkhunī bhāvitindriyā;
Paṭivijjhi padaṁ santaṁ,
akāpurisasevitaṁ”.

“Mindful, with vision
A bhikkhuni of developed faculties
I broke through to that peaceful state
Not embraced by immoral men.”  

[Māra interrupted this bhikkhuni’s reverie3]  

Kiṁ nu jātiṁ na rocesi,
jāto kāmāni bhuñjati;
Bhuñjāhi kāmaratiyo,
māhu pacchānutāpinī”.

“Why don’t you approve of birth?
One who’s born gets to enjoy sensual pleasures.
Enjoy the delights of the senses!
Don’t [miss out and] later regret it.” 2

Jātassa maraṇaṁ hoti,
hatthapādāna chedanaṁ;
Vadhabandhapariklesaṁ,
jāto dukkhaṁ nigacchati.

“For the born there is death!
Hand & foot severed
Execution, bondage, calamity
The born descends to suffering.

Atthi sakyakule jāto,
sambuddho aparājito;
So me dhammamadesesi,
jātiyā samatikkamaṁ.

[But] there exists, born to the Sakyans,
The rightly Awakened, incomparable;
He taught me the Dhamma
For overcoming birth:

Dukkhaṁ dukkhasamuppādaṁ,
dukkhassa ca atikkamaṁ;
Ariyaṁ caṭṭhaṅgikaṁ maggaṁ,
dukkhūpasamagāminaṁ.

Suffering, suffering’s origin,
Suffering’s transcendence, and
The noble eightfold path
That leads to the stilling of suffering.3

Tassāhaṁ vacanaṁ sutvā,
vihariṁ sāsane ratā;
Tisso vijjā anuppattā,
kataṁ buddhassa sāsanaṁ.

On hearing his words
I lived delighting in his teaching
Attained is the Triple Knowledge
Done is the Buddha’s teaching

Sabbattha vihatā nandī,
tamokhandho padālito;
Evaṁ jānāhi pāpima,
nihato tvamasi antaka”.

Enjoyment killed at every level
The mass of darkness destroyed;
You see, evil-doer
You’re defeated, death-maker.”

Sattakanipāto niṭṭhito.
The Book of the Sevens is finished.

Note: This and the adjacent poems loosely match some stanzas of the conversations with Māra at SN 5.6, 5.7, 5.8, but with the names switched around. According to tradition all three, Cālā, Upacālā and Sīsūpacālā, were sisters of the greatest monk, Ven. Sāriputta.

Please see the short essay Knowing Māra.