[20. Paṭācchārā1]

The Victor, Padumuttara,
was a Master of Everything.
[That] Leader arose in the world
one hundred thousand aeons hence. (1) [595]

I was born in Haṃsavatī,
in a clan of millionaires then,
glistening with various gems,
endowed with supreme happiness. (2) [596]

Having approached that Great Hero,
I heard [him] preaching the Dhamma.
Then, pleasure born [in my heart,] I
approached the Victor for refuge. (3) [597]

Then the Victor praised as foremost
of those who follow discipline,2
a Buddhist nun, modest, neutral,
careful about what’s allowed and not. (4) [598]

Then, with a heart [full] of pleasure,
wishing [I were fixed in] that place,
inviting the Ten-Powered One,3
the World’s Leader, with Assembly, (5) [599]

after feeding [them] for a week,
giving them the monastic robes,4
bowing [my] head down at [his] feet,
I spoke these words [to that Buddha:] (6) [600]

“If it meets with success, Leader,
I will become just like the one
who was praised by you, O Hero,
on the eighth day before [today].” (7) [601]

Then the Teacher said [this] to me:
“Lucky one, fear not; breathe with ease.
In the not-yet-become future,
you will attain that wished-for [place]. (8) [602]

In one hundred thousand aeons,
arising in Okkāka’s clan,
the one whose name is Gotama
will be the Teacher in the world. (9) [603]

Worthy heir to that one’s Dhamma,
Dhamma’s legitimate offspring,
the one known as Paṭācchārā
will be the Teacher’s follower.” (10) [604]

At that time being overjoyed,
as long as life, heart [full of] love,
I attended on the Victor,
World’s Leader with [his] Assembly. (11) [605]

Due to that karma done very well,
with intention and [firm] resolve,
discarding [my] human body,
I went to Tāvatiṃsa [then]. (12) [606]

In this [present] lucky aeon
Brahma’s Kinsman, Greatly Famed One,
[the Buddha] known as Kassapa5
was born, the Best of Debaters. (13) [607]

The attendant of the Great Sage
was the ruler of men back then,
the king of Kāsi, named Kiki,
in Benares, greatest city. (14) [608]

I was his third [royal] daughter,
who was named Samaṇaguttā.6
Hearing the Best Victor’s Teaching,
I chose [to seek] ordination. (15) [609]

Our father did not permit it;
we [stayed] at home during that time,
comfortable7 royal maidens
doing [our] practice with vigor
in virginal celibacy,
for twenty times a thousand years,
fond of waiting on the Buddha,
[the king’s] seven joyful daughters. (16-17) [610-611]

Samaṇī, and Samaṇaguttā,8
Bhikkhunī, Bhikkhadāyikā,
Dhammā, and also Sudhammā,
and seventh Saṅghadāyikā, (18) [612]

[now] I and Uppalavaṇṇā,
Khemā and the nun [named] Bhaddā,9
Kisāgotamī, Dhammadinnā,10
and Visākhā is the seventh. (19) [613]

Due to those karmas11 done very well,
with intention and [firm] resolve,
discarding [my] human body,
I went to Tāvatiṃsa [then]. (20) [614]

And now, in [my] final rebirth,
I’m born in a millionaire’s clan,
rich, prosperous, very wealthy,
in Śrāvasti, best of cities. (21) [615]

When I’d become a young woman,12
overpowered by [my own] thoughts,
after seeing a man from the
country, I went [away] with him. (22) [616]

I had produced a single son;
the second one was in my womb.
At that time, I had determined,
“I’ll go [see] mother [and] father.” (23) [617]

My husband13 was not pleased [at that.]
Then, when he was [on a] journey,
[I] snuck out14 of the house alone,
to go to supreme Śrāvasti. (24) [618]

Then my husband15 came [after me];
he caught up with me on the road.
Then my karma-born labor pains16
began, [and they were] very cruel. (25) [619]

At the time for me to give birth,
a massive rain-cloud arose [there],
and then [my] husband having gone
to find grass,17 was killed by a snake. (26) [620]

Then miserable [and] helpless,
in the throes of painful childbirth,18
going toward a relative’s house,19
seeing an overflowing stream,20 (27) [621]

carrying [my] newborn I crossed
to the stream’s other bank, alone.
After nursing [my] newborn son,
to help my other [son] to cross, (28) [622]

I turned; an osprey carried off
my wailing babe. [Then] the current
swept [him] away, [my] other [son].
That I was overcome with grief. (29) [623]

Going to Śrāvasti city,
I heard [that] my kinsmen were dead.
Full of grief I said at that time,
extremely overcome with grief, (30) [624]

“Both of my sons have passed away,
my husband is dead on the road;
mother and father and brothers
are burning on a single pyre.” (31) [625]

Then [I grew] pale and thin, helpless;
[I was] in a low state of mind.
After that, while roaming I saw
[him,] the Charioteer of Men. (32) [626]

Then the Teacher said [this] to me:
“Do not grieve, child; breathe easily.
You should search after your [own] self;
why uselessly torment yourself? (33) [627]

There are no sons to [give] shelter,
not fathers nor even kinsmen.
There is no shelter with kinsmen
when one’s seized by the end-maker.” (34) [628]

After hearing the Sage’s speech,
I realized the first [path] fruit.
Having gone forth, in no long time,
I achieved [my] arahantship. (35) [629]

I’ve mastered the superpowers
[like] the “divine ear” element.
I know the hearts of others [too,]
I have done what the Teacher taught.21 (36) [630]

I remember [my] former lives;
[my] “divine eye” is purified.
Throwing off all the defilements,
I am22 purified, [I’m] stainless. (37) [631]

Then I learned the whole discipline,23
in the All-Seeing-One’s24 presence,
and I recited it [for him,]
correctly in every detail. (38) [632]

The Victor, pleased by [my]25 virtue,
[then] placed me in that foremost place:
“Paṭācchārā’s alone, foremost
of those who follow discipline.”26 (39) [633]

The Teacher’s been worshipped by me;
[I have] done what the Buddha taught.
The heavy load has been laid down,
the ties to existence severed. (40) [634]

The reason for which I went forth,
from [my] home into homelessness —
I have [now] achieved that purpose:
destruction of all the fetters. (41) [635]

My defilements are [now] burnt up;
all [new] existence is destroyed.
Like elephants with broken chains,
I am living without constraint. (42) [636]

Being in Best Buddha's presence
was a very good thing for me.
The three knowledges are attained;
[I have] done what the Buddha taught! (43) [637]

The four analytical modes,
and these eight deliverances,
six special knowledges mastered,
[I have] done what the Buddha taught! (44) [638]

Thus indeed Bhikkhunī Paṭācchārā spoke these verses.

The legend of Paṭācchārā Therī is finished.

The Summary:27

Ekūposathikā, and too
Salaḷā and Timodakā,
Ekāsanappadā, Dīpā,
Nalamālī and Gotamī,
Khemā, Uppalavaṇṇā and
Paṭācchārā the Buddhist nun.
There are four hundred verses [here,]
also ninety-six [verses more].

The Ekūposathikā Chapter, the Second


  1. “Cloak-Wanderer,” apparently a historical nun (see DPPN II: 112-114 for this implicit judgment) though apart from the list in A. of the “best of” monks and nuns (which could have been inserted into A.) the only canonical telling of all the details of Paṭācchāra’s life, and past lives, are found in this Apadāna account, from which ThigA and other commentaries likely draw; remembered as foremost among the nuns who know Vinaya or the monastic discipline.

  2. vinayadhārīnaŋ, lit., “carry the vinaya

  3. dasabalaŋ

  4. ticchīvaraŋ, lit., “the three monastic robes,” presumably a full set of them to the Buddha and each of those in the Assembly, starting with the nun who had been declared foremost bearer of the vinaya

  5. BJTS reads “Named Kassapa according to his Lineage (gottena)”

  6. ”Guarded Nun” “Protected Female Renouncer”

  7. sukhe ṭhitā, lit., “remaining in comfort.” Pronounce all four syllables when chanting to keep the meter or, to chant as a three-syllable word, read “comfortable royal princesses”

  8. I follow the original (in both recensions) in making this first foot a nine-syllable foot through the addition of the (superfluous) “and” (ccha). The comma amplifies its effect, to syncopate the verse such that the (respective, exact) parallelism of the following verse (in which, however, all four feet contain the expected eight syllables) becomes apparent.

  9. = Bhaddā Kuṇḍalakesī

  10. given the long names, this foot is unavoidably nine-syllables long, both in Pāli and in English

  11. here the text (in both PTS and BJTS editions) substitutes tehi kammehi (plural instrumental) for the ordinary tena kammena (singular instrumental) in this Apadāna stock phrase. Perhaps “good deeds” would be better here.

  12. or “when I had attained puberty:” yadā ccha yobbanupetā

  13. pati, “lord”

  14. niggatā, lit., “was gone out of”

  15. sāmi, “master”

  16. lit., “winds,” vātā

  17. dabbatthāya, lit., “for the sake of dabba grass”. Presumably the husband would have sought dabba grass to provide shelter, or a mattress, for his gestating wife.

  18. vijātadukkhena, lit., “with the suffering of giving birth”

  19. reading sakulālayaṃ (“going to the lair of [her] own clan,” BJTS gloss siya nǟ nivasaṭa = “going to a house of [her] own relatives”) for PTS sakuṇālayaŋ (“to a bird’s nest”)

  20. kunnadiŋ pūritaŋ, lit., “a bad river filled up.” Perhaps read kunnadiŋ as “rough river” rather than “small river” or “rivulet” per RD (whence my “stream”)?

  21. satthu sāsanakārikā, lit., “[I am] a doer of the Teacher’s dispensation”

  22. reading amhi (“I am”) with BJTS for PTS āsiŋ (“I was” “I became”)

  23. vinayaŋ sabbaŋ

  24. sabbadassino santike

  25. lit., “in the” “in that”

  26. vinayadhārīnaŋ, lit., “carry the vinaya

  27. this appears only in PTS; BJTS omits the summary of the second chapter despite including the other summaries, hence presumably by mistake