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 1Nothing in the poem identifies the speaker, other than the pejorative “pāpima” (vocative masculine s. or nt. s.) meaning evil one or evil-doer, which certainly could apply to some human men; tradition holds that it was Māra himself. In a similar poem in the Saṁyutta Nikaya, Māra approached to inquire, “Whose creed do you approve of?” When the bhikkhunī answered that she doesn’t approve of anyone’s creed, Māra responded with this challenge. SN5.8.]

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,

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

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.