Aŋguttara Nikāya


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Aŋguttara Nikāya
VIII. Aṭṭhaka Nipāta
VI. Gotamī Vagga aka Sa-ādhāna-Vagga

The Book of the Gradual Sayings
VIII. The Book of the Eights
VI: The Gotamid

Sutta 51

Mahā-Pajāpatī the Gotamid[1]

Translated from the Pali by E.M. Hare.

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[181]

[1] THUS have I heard:

Once, while the Exalted One was staying among the Sakyas,
in Banyan Tree Park at Kapilavatthu,
Mahā-Pajāpatī, the Gotamid,[2] came and visited him and,
after saluting, stood at one side.

Thus standing, she said to the Exalted One:

'Lord, well were it that womenfolk should be allowed to go forth
from the home to homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.'

'Enough, O Gotamid!

Set not your heart upon the going forth of women
from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.'

And a second time Mahā-Pajāpatī, the Gotamid said to the Exalted One:

'Lord, well were it that womenfolk should be allowed to go forth
from the home to homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.'

'Enough, O Gotamid!

Set not your heart upon the going forth of women
from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.'

And a third time Mahā-Pajāpatī, the Gotamid said to the Exalted One:

'Lord, well were it that womenfolk should be allowed to go forth
from the home to homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.'

'Enough, O Gotamid!

Set not your heart upon the going forth of women
from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.'

Then Mahā-Pajāpatī, the Gotamid
seeing that the Exalted One would not permit women to go forth from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata
sad, sorrowful, in tears and sobbing,
saluted him and departed,
keeping him on her right.

 

§

 

Now the Exalted One,
when he had stayed at Kapilavatthu as long as he desired,
set out on a jounrey to Vesālī[3]
and in due course,
going from place to place,
arrived there.

And the Exalted One dwelt near Vesālī
in Mahavana at the Gabled Hall.

Then Mahā-Pajāpatī, the Gotamid having had her hair cut off
and donned yellow robes,
set out with a large company of [182] Sakyan women for Vesālī;[4]
and in due course they drew near to the Gabled Hall in Mahavana near Vesālī.

And Mahā-Pajāpatī stood outside the door,
her feet swollen[5]
and her limbs covered with dust,
sad and sorrowful,
sobbing and in tears.

Now the venerable Ānanda saw her thus standing, with swollen feet
and her limbs covered with dust,
sad and sorrowful,
sobbing and in tears,
and said to her:

'Wherefore, Gotamid, do you stand,
with swollen feet
and your limbs covered with dust,
sad and sorrowful,
sobbing and in tears outside the door?'

'It is because, reverend[6] Ānanda,
the Exalted One will not allow women to go forth
from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.'

'Then wait[7] here, Gotamid,
until I have asked the Exalted One
to allow women to go forth from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.'

And the venerable Ānanda went unto the Exalted One
and saluted
and sat down at one side.

So seated, he spoke thus:

'Lord, Mahā-Pajāpatī, the Gotamid
stands outside at the door,
her feet swollen and her limbs covered with dust,
sad and sorrowful,
sobbing and in tears, saying:

"The Exalted One will not allow women to go forth from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata."

Lord, well were it that women should be allowed to go forth
from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.!'

'Enough, Ānanda,
set not your heart upon the going forth of women
from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.

And a second time the venerable Ānanda addressed The Exalted One saying:

Lord, well were it that women should be allowed to go forth
from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.!'

And a second time the Exalted One responded:

'Enough, Ānanda,
set not your heart upon the going forth of women
from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.

And a third time the venerable Ānanda addressed The Exalted One saying:

Lord, well were it that women should be allowed to go forth
from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.!'

And a third time the Exalted One responded:

'Enough, Ānanda,
set not your heart upon the going forth of women
from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.

Then thought the venerable Ānanda:

'The Exalted One will not allow women to go forth from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.

What [183] if I were to ask the Exalted One in another way
to allow women to go forth from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata.'

And he spoke thus:

'Lord, if women go forth from the home to the homeless life
into discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata,
can they realize the fruit of Stream-winning,
of Once-returning,
of Non-returning
and of Arahantship?

'They can, Ānanda.

If women go forth from the home to the homeless life
into discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata,
they can realize the fruit of Stream-winning,
of Once-returning,
of Non-returning
and of Arahantship.

'Lord, if women can go forth from the home to the homeless life
into discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata,
and can realize the fruit of Stream-winning,
of Once-returning,
of Non-returning
and of Arahantship,
since Mahā-Pajāpatī has been of great service to the Exalted One -
for as his aunt,
nurse
and foster-mother,[8] she gave him milk,
when the Exalted One's mother died -
well were it that women should be allowed to go forth from the home to the homeless life
into discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata'

 

§

 

'If, Ānanda, Mahā-Pajāpatī, the Gotamid receive these eight cardinal rules,
it shall be for her the acceptance:[9]

Though she has been accepted a hundred years,
a mun must pay respect,
raise her hands in salutation,
rise up from her seat
and salute a monk,
who has but that day been accepted.

This is a rule[10] to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

A nun must not spend the rainy season
where there is no resident monk.

This is a rule to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

Twice a month a nun must question the Order
concerning the date of the Observance day
and the next time of preaching.

This is a rule to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

After the rainy season
a nun must keep the [11]"Invitation Festival"
before both Orders
in respect to three matters:
those seen,
those heard
and those suspected.

This is a rule to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

[184] A nun guilty of a serious offence
must undergo a penance before both Orders
for the half-month.

This is a rule to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

After training for two rainy seasons
in the six rules,[12]
a nun must seek full acceptance of both Orders.

This is a rule to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

Not on any pretext
must a nun revile or abuse a monk.

This is a rule to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

From today, Ānanda, admonition[13] by nuns of monks is forbidden,
but admonition of nuns by monks is not forbidden.

This is a rule to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

If Mahā-Pajāpatī receive these eight cardinal rules,
it shall be for her the acceptance.'

 

§

 

Now when the venerable Ānanda had learnt these eight rules from the Exalted One,
he went to Mahā-Pajāpatī and said this to her:

'If, Gotami receive these eight cardinal rules,
it shall be for her the acceptance:

Though she has been accepted a hundred years,
a mun must pay respect,
raise her hands in salutation,
rise up from her seat
and salute a monk,
who has but that day been accepted.

This is a rule to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

A nun must not spend the rainy season
where there is no resident monk.

This is a rule to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

Twice a month a nun must question the Order
concerning the date of the Observance day
and the next time of preaching.

This is a rule to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

After the rainy season
a nun must keep the "Invitation Festival"
before both Orders
in respect to three matters:
those seen,
those heard
and those suspected.

This is a rule to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

A nun guilty of a serious offence
must undergo a penance before both Orders
for the half-month.

This is a rule to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

After training for two rainy seasons
in the six rules,
a nun must seek full acceptance of both Orders.

This is a rule to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

Not on any pretext
must a nun revile or abuse a monk.

This is a rule to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

From today, by nuns of monks is forbidden,
but admonition of nuns by monks is not forbidden.

This is a rule to be honoured,
respected,
revered,
venerated
and never to be transgressed during her life.

If Gotami you receive these eight cardinal rules,
it shall be for you the acceptance.'

 

§

 

'Reverend Ānanda, just[14] as a woman or man,
young and tender in years
and fond of dress,
would, after washing the head,
receive with both hands
a garland of lotus flowers,
of jasmine flowers
or of some sweet-scented creeper
and place it on top of the head;
even so I, sir, receive these eight cardinal rules,
never to be transgressed all my life.'

 

§

 

Then the venerable Ānanda returned to the Exalted One,
saluted him and sat down at one side.

So seated, he said:

'Lord, Mahā-Pajāpatī, the Gotamid has received the eight rules.

If, Ānanda,
women had not been allowed to go forth
from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata,
then long would have lasted the [185] godly life;
for a thousand years would Saddhamma have lasted.

But now, Ānanda, since women have gone forth from the home to the homeless life
into the discipline of Dhamma,
declared by the Tathāgata,
not for long will the godly life last;
now, Ānanda, just for five hundred years will Saddhamma last.

Just as those clans, that have many women and but few men,
easily fall a prey to robbers and pot-thieves;[15]
even so, Ānanda,
in whatever discipline of Dhamma
women are allowed to go forth
from the home to the homeless life
that godly life will not last long.

Just as when the disease known as "white-as-bones "[16]
falls upon a field of ripened rice,
that field does not last long;
even so, Ānanda,
in whatever discipline of Dhamma women are allowed to go forth
from the home to the homeless life
that godly life will not last long.

Just as when the disease known as "red-rust"[17]
falls upon a field of ripened sugar-cane,
that field does not last long;
even so, Ānanda,
women are allowed to go forth
from the home to the homeless life
that godly life will not last long.

And now, Ānanda, just[18] as a man might build a dyke to a great reservoir,
with a view to the future,
so that no water could pass beyond it;
even so I, Ānanda,
with a view to the future,
have laid down for nuns these eight cardinal rules,
which must not be transgressed so long as they live.'

 


[1] This sutta recurs at Vin. ii, 253 (S.B.E. xx, 320); for the Tibetan version see Rockhill's Life, p. 60 f. See also Thomas's Life, 108 f.

[2] At A. i, 25 [AN 1.235] she is called the chief of the nuns in respect to seniority; for her life see A.A.i, 337. She was Nanda's mother (above, p. 112, n. 5); and Pajāpatī's visit, according to the Comy. here, occurred just after Nanda's ordination; for details see A.A. i, 315 f., or for a short summary, Gooneratne's trsl. of A. i, p. 32. The Comy. calls the town Kapilapura.

[3] According to V. A. Smith's map in Watters' Chwang, the distance between these two places is roughly 200 miles, as the crow flies; the Chinese pilgrim travelled via Rāmagāma, Kusinārā and Benares, a very wide detour. A near way must have followed the Hiraññavati (the Gandak) river.

[4] Suna; see p. 470 of the text; the S.e. of the Comy. reads phoṭo for pāṭo.

[5] Bhante.

[6] The text reads hoti for hohi.

[7] After the Buddha's death, Ānanda was charged before the Council of Rājagaha with the offence of having persuaded the Buddha to allow women to become nuns, thereby causing the decay of the Order. See Vin. ii, 289.

[8] Vin. ii, 255 here adds khīrassa dāyikā; the S.e. of A. also omits. For the full story of this incident see J. i, 49; Warren's Buddhism 42.

[9] Upasampadā. The Comy. observes that both 'going forth' and full ordination is to be understood.

[10] Pavāraṇā. It was the name given to the festival held at the termination of Vassa, the Buddhist Lent. It was an occasion for mutual confession of shortcomings between members of the Order. It appears to have lasted only one day.

[11] The Commentator observes that he only briefly here deals with these eight and refers to the Samanta-pāsādikā for the full Comy.

[12] Comy. The six rules (for novices), eating at wrong times, etc.

[13] Vacanapatha. Comy. ovādānusāsanadhammakathā; see Rhys Davids at S.B.E. xx, 324, whom I follow. P.E.D. s.v. 'the (five) ways of speech' for which see M. i, 126; but this will not suit the context. F. L. Woodward in Some Sayings 122: 'The right of a sister to have speech among brethren.'

[14] Besides at Vin., loc. cit., this simile recurs at M. i, 32.

[15] Comy. has the same remark as on the Vin. passage, quoted in the translation, op. cit. 325: 'With lamps lit in pots they search for booty.' The simile recurs at S. ii, 264 (K.S. ii, 176), and in the Tibetan version, see Rockhill, loc. cit.

[16] Setaṭṭhika, perhaps mildew. Comy. explains thus: Some insect (pāṇako) bores the stem and the head of the paddy is not able to get the sap.

[17] The text reads mañjiṭṭhika, with v.l. mañje-. Comy. and S.e. with v.l. The former explains: The end of the cane is red.

[18] Cf. like similes at M. iii, 96; A. iii, 28.


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