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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.


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