[28. Yasodharā]

At one time the Leader of Men
was staying in a mountain cave
in the city, Rajagaha,
[which was] lovely and prosperous. [952]1

This is what was reasoned out [then]
by the nun [named] Yasodharā,
who was dwelling in that city,
inside a lovely convent [there]: [953]

"Nanda, Rahula and Bhadda;
likewise the two chief followers;
Suddhodana Maharaja,
and Gotamī Pajāpatī; [954]

the great theras of great renown;
and the therīs with great powers:2
they've gone to peaceful [nirvana],
traceless like the flame of a lamp. [955]

While the World's Lord still is living,
I’ll travel that peaceful path too.”
And having reasoned [all] that out,
she foresaw the end of her life. [956]

Foreseeing that life’s aggregates
would be destroyed that very day,
she set out from her own ashram,
carrying her robe and her bowl. [957]

Honored by one hundred thousand3
nuns, [the nun named Yasodharā,]
greatly powerful, greatly wise,
[then] went up to the Sambuddha. (1) [958]

Having worshipped the Sambuddha,
at the wheel-marked [soles of his feet],
sitting off to one side [of him,]
she spoke these words to the Teacher: (2) [959]

“I'm seventy-eight years old now,
the last of old age has arrived;
I'm reporting to the Great Sage:
I've attained [sainthood] in a cave. (3) [960]

Old age has ripened for me [now];
verily my life's a trifle.
Giving all you up I will go:
my refuge is made in myself. (4) [961]

In the final days of old age,
death breaks [the body into bits];
today at nighttime, Great Hero,
I shall achieve my nirvana. (5) [962]

Where there's no birth, no growing old,
nor sickness and death, O Great Sage,
I'm going to the [great] city
[which,] unconditioned, has no death. (6) [963]

Throughout [this vast] multitude here,4
[all these] revering5 the Teacher,6
know that [every] imperfection
is forgiven face-to-face, Sage. (7) [964]

Transmigrating in existence,
if I have [ever] disturbed you,7
I’m announcing it, Great Hero;
please forgive my imperfection. (8) [965]

After hearing [that] speech of hers,
the Lord of Sages8 [then] said this:
“What better can I say to you,
when you’re going to nirvana? [966]

Now9 display [your] superpowers,
doer of my dispensation;
let doubt in the dispensation
be cut off for all assemblies.”10 (9) [967]

Having heard the words of the Sage,
the Buddhist nun, Yasodharā,
worshipping the King of Sages,
[then] spoke this speech to the [Buddha:] [968]

"I am Yasodharā, Hero;
in the home I was your chief queen,11
born in the clan of the Śākyas,
established among the women.12 (10) [969]

In your household, O Hero, I
was the leader, the lord of all
of the [women there, who numbered]
one hundred thousand ninety six. (11) [970]

All of those women, endowed with
the virtues of beauty and grace,
youthful and well-spoken, revere
me, like people [revere] the gods.13 (12) [971]

Leader of a thousand maidens
in the home of the Śākyan Son,
they’re the same in pleasure and pain,14
like gods in [the garden named] “Joy.” (13) [972]

Beyond the essence of desire,
fixed as the essence of beauty,
[they’re] unmatched in terms of beauty,
other than [by] the World’s Leader.” (14) [973]

Speaking [words] beginning with these,
having risen into the sky,
Yasodharā displayed diverse
powers,15 with Buddha’s permission. [974]16

Worshipping17 the Sambuddha, she
showed the Teacher superpowers.18
She displayed great superpowers,
diverse, having various forms. (15)19

Body big as the universe,20
she [made] the continent21 up north
her head; eastern, western [her] wings;
[and made] India her torso; (16) [975]

tail feathers: the southern ocean;
[other] feathers: varied rivers;
[her] eyes were the moon and the sun,
[her] crest was cosmic Mount Meru. (17) [976]

[In her] beak, mountain at world’s end,22
[she carried] a tree23 with its roots.
Coming up to [him,] fanning [him,]
she’s worshipping the World’s Leader. (18) [977]

She made herself24 an elephant,
likewise a horse, mountain, ocean,
the moon and the sun, Mount Meru,
and Śakra, [the king of the gods]. (19) [978]

She covered the thousand-fold world
with blooming lotus,25 [and then said,]
“I am Yasodharā, Hero;
I worship [your feet], Eyeful One." (20) [979]

And making Brahma’s form appear,
she preached the doctrine of merit;26
"I am Yasodharā, Hero;
I worship your feet, Eyeful One.” (21) [980]

I’ve mastered the superpowers
[like] the “divine ear” element.
I’m also a master, Great Sage,
of the knowledge in others’ hearts. (22) [981]

I remember [my] former lives;
[my] “divine eye” is purified.
All the defilements are destroyed;
[I] will not be reborn again. (23) [982]

In meaning and in the Teaching,
etymology and preaching,
[this] knowledge of mine was produced
in your presence, O Great Hero. (24) [983]

[My] meeting with [all] the Buddhas,27
the World-Lords, was well-seen by you;28
my extensive service [to them]
was for the sake of you, Great Sage. (25) [984]

O Sage, recall the good karma,
which formerly [was done] by me;
[that] merit was heaped up by me
for the sake of you, Great Hero. (26) [985]

I kept from misconduct, hindered29
the [nine] impossible places;30
I have sacrificed31 life [itself]
for the sake of you, Great Hero. (27) [986]

I gave myself to be a wife,
several tens of billions [of times].
I was not distressed about that,
for the sake of you, O Great Sage. (28) [987]

I gave myself to do service,
several tens of billions [of times].
I was not distressed about that,
for the sake of you, O Great Sage. (29) [988]

I gave myself to [provide] food,
several tens of billions [of times].
I was not distressed about that,
for the sake of you, O Great Sage. (30) [989]

I have given you [all my] lives,
several tens of billions [of times].
I’ll liberate [myself] from fear,
giving up my life [once more]. (31) [990]

Great Sage, for your sake I do not32
conceal the things of a woman,
numerous clothes of varied types,
ornaments affixed to33 [my] limbs. (32) [991]

Wealth and grain have been given up,
villages and also small towns,
fields and sons and daughters [as well]
have been given up, O Great Sage. (33) [992]

Elephants, horses, also cows,
slaves [as well as] servant-women
are given up beyond all count
for the sake of you, O Great Sage. (34) [993]

Whatever I am told [to give]
as alms to beggars, I give [that];
I don’t witness34 any distress
from giving the ultimate gift. (35) [994]

I have experienced35 dis-ease
of diverse types, beyond all count,
in [this] much-varied existence36
for the sake of you, Great Hero. (36) [995]

Attaining comfort[s,] I don’t thrill;
[I do]n’t get distressed by37 troubles.
Everywhere I remain balanced
for the sake of you, O Great Sage. (37) [996]

After experiencing [both]
pleasure [and] pain along the way,
the Great Sage reached Awakening,
the Teaching for which38 Buddha39 strived. (38) [997]

By you [and] by me there was much
meeting with the other World-Lords,
[whether you’re] the god Brahmā or40
Gotama Buddha,41 World’s Leader. (39) [998]

I performed a lot of service,
for the sake of you, O Great Sage;
while you sought the Buddha's Teaching,42
I was [always] your attendant. (40) [999]

One hundred thousand aeons [and]
four incalculable [aeons]
hence, Dīpaṅkara, Great Hero,
the Leader of the World was born. (41) [1000]

[Some]place in a nearby country,
inviting [him,] the Thus-Gone-One,
happy-minded folks are cleaning
the road [on which] he is coming. (42) [1001]

At that time there was a brahmin
[known by] the name of Sumedha.
He was making the road ready
for the All-Seer who was coming. (43) [1002]

At that time I was a maiden,
born in a brahmin [family],
known by the name of Sumittā.
I went up to that gathering. (44) [1003]

With eight handfuls of blue lotus
for offering43 to the Teacher,
in the midst of [all] the people
I saw that fierce [ascetic] sage.44 (45) [1004]

Seeing [him,] seated atop bark,45
surpassing46 [and] captivating,47
then I thought [like this to myself:]
“[this] life of mine is bearing fruit.” (46) [1005]

At that time I saw [that] sage’s
effort [which was then] bearing fruit;
due to previous karma, my
heart was pleased in the Sambuddha. (47) [1006]

Making [my] heart even more pleased,
I said, “O lofty-minded sage,
seeing no other gift [to give,]
I’m giving flowers to you, sage.48 (48) [1007]

There are five handfuls for you, sage;
the [remaining] three49 are for me.
Let there be success through50 this [gift]
for your Awakening,51 O sage.” (49) [1008]

The Fourth Recitation Portion
[Then that] sage, taking the flowers,
for the sake of Awakening,52
worshipped amidst the people the
Famed One, Great Sage53 who was coming. (50) [1009]

The Great Sage [named] Dīpaṅkara,
seeing [him] amidst the people,
prophesied54 [future Buddhahood]
[for that] sage with a lofty mind. (51) [1010]

The Great Sage [named] Dīpāṅkara
[then] prophesied that my karma
would for numberless aeons hence
be exalted, that Sage So Great: (52)55

“She will be a like-minded [wife],
with karma and conduct like [yours];
through this karma she’ll be loving
for the sake of you, O great sage.56 (53) [1011]

Nice looking and much beloved,
desirable,57 speaking sweet words,
she will be a loving woman,
[and] an heir among [your] doctrines. (54) [1012]

Just as masters are protecting58
the goods that [they] accumulate,
so this one likewise will protect
[all] of the things that are wholesome. (55) [1013]

Compassionate for [future] you,
she will fulfill the perfections.
Like a lion [freed] from a cage,
she will achieve Awakening.” (56) [1014]

Rejoicing about [Buddha’s] speech,
I lived behaving in that way
the Buddha prophesied for me
numberless aeons ago. (57) [1015]

I brought pleasure to [my] mind when
that karma was well done [by me];
I experienced countless wombs,
divine [as well as] human [ones]. (58) [1016]

Undergoing pleasure [and] pain,
among gods [and] human beings,
when [my] last rebirth was attained,
I was born in the Śākyan clan. (59) [1017]

Beautiful and very wealthy,
famous and likewise virtuous;
endowed with every attainment,
I’m much-honored among the clans. (60) [1018]

Riches, fame, hospitality,
[and] indulgence in worldly things –
[they] do not agitate [my] mind;59
I have no fear from anything. (61) [1019]

I was appointed to attend
on what the Blessed One had said
within the harem of the king
in the kṣatriyan city then. (62)60

[I’m] a woman who’s a servant,
and [one] who feels pleasure and pain,
a woman61 who declares the facts,
a woman62 who’s compassionate. (63)
Buddhas [numbering] five billion,
and [another] nine billion [more] —
I provided vast alms to [them,]
those [Buddhas,] Gods Over the Gods.63 (64)

Listen to my [words,] O great king:
I’m constantly doing service64
to eleven billion [others,]
and fifty billion [Buddhas more]. (65)

I provided vast alms to [them,]
those [Buddhas,] Gods Over the Gods;
listen to my [words], O great king:
I’m constantly doing service. (66)

Twenty billion [other] Buddhas
and [another] thirty billion –
I provided vast alms to [them,]
those [Buddhas,] Gods Over the Gods. (67)

Listen to my [words,] O great king:
I’m constantly doing service
to forty billion [Buddhas more,]
and [another] fifty billion. (68)

I provided vast alms to [them,]
those [Buddhas,] Gods Over the Gods;
listen to my words, O great king:
I’m constantly doing service. (69)

Sixty billion [other] Buddhas,
[another] seventy billion –
I provided vast alms to [them,]
those [Buddhas,] Gods Over the Gods. (70)

Listen to my [words,] O great king:
I’m constantly doing service
to eighty billion [Buddhas more,]
and [another] ninety billion. (71)

I provided vast alms to [them,]
those [Buddhas,] Gods Over the Gods;
listen to my [words,] O great king:
I’m constantly doing service. (72)

There have been a million million
who were Chief Leaders of the World;
I provided vast alms to [them,]
those [Buddhas,] Gods Over the Gods. (73)

Listen to my [words,] O great king:
I’m constantly doing service
to another ninety trillion
who were Leaders of the World [too.] (74)

I provided vast alms to [them,]
those [Buddhas,] Gods Over the Gods;
listen to my [words,] O great king:
I’m constantly doing service (75)

to Great Sages [whose number was]
eight hundred and fifty trillion,
and seven hundred eighty-five
billion [additional Buddhas]. (76)

I provided vast alms to [them,]
those [Buddhas,] Gods Over the Gods;
listen to my [words,] O great king:
I’m constantly doing service. (77)

Lonely Buddhas, passion removed,
six hundred and forty million;
listen to my [words,] O great king:
I’m constantly doing service. (78)

Countless followers of Buddhas,
free of defilements, [and] stainless;
listen to my [words,] O great king:
I’m constantly doing service. (79)

I always practice65 the Teaching66
of those practiced in the teachings,67
at ease practicing the Teaching,
in this world and in the other. (80)

Well-practiced, the Teaching-practice;
that practice is not ill-practiced.
[I’m] at ease practicing Teaching,
in this world and in the other. (81)

Disgusted with transmigration,
I went forth into homelessness,
surrounded by thousands [of nuns,]
after renouncing with nothing. (82) [1020]

After abandoning [my] home,
I went forth into homelessness.
When eight months68 had not yet elapsed
I attained the Four [Noble] Truths. (83) [1021]

Like the waves upon the ocean,
[folks] are bringing many varied69
monastic robes and alms to eat,
requisites [as well as] lodgings. (84) [1022]

My defilements are [now] burnt up;
all [new] existence is destroyed.
Like elephants with broken chains,
I am living without constraint. (85) [1023]

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! (86) [1024]

The four analytical modes,
and these eight deliverances,
six special knowledges mastered,
[I have] done what the Buddha taught! (87) [1025]

Thus many sorts of suffering
and many types of happiness;
the pure life [now] has been achieved,
I have obtained all achievements. [1026]70

The woman who’s giving herself
for the merit of the Great Sage
attains companionship [with him],
[and] unconditioned nirvana. [1027]

The past is thoroughly destroyed,
and the present [and] the future;
all of my karma is destroyed:
I worship your feet, Eyeful One.” [1028]

Thus indeed Bhikkhunī Yasodharā spoke these verses.

The legend of Yasodharā Therī71 is finished


  1. these first six verses appear in BJTS, but not PTS.

  2. mahiddhikā = possessing great magical powers.

  3. reading satehi satassehi sā (BJTS) for satehi saha pañcchahi (“by five hundred,” PTS). As the subsequent three apadānas make clear, these authors believed that Yasodharā approached the Buddha accompanied by considerably more than 500 nuns.

  4. reading ettha with BJTS for PTS nāma (“indeed”)

  5. reading samupāsanti (“attend upon together” “honor jointly”)

  6. lit., “to/of the Teacher,” “give reverence to the Teacher”

  7. PTS khalitaŋ cche tavaŋ mayi, BJTS khalitaṃ cche mamaṃ tayi, both to be construed the same way

  8. munindo

  9. câpi, lit., “and also”

  10. “in the dispensation” may be governed by “all the assemblies” or, as I have it here, “doubt;” the grammar is ambiguous; the alternate reading would be “let doubt be cut off for all the/assemblies in th’ dispensation”

  11. te pajāpatī

  12. reading itthi-y-aṅge (lit., “in the body of women”) with BJTS for PTS itthi atho (“and a woman who is established”)

  13. devatā, or “deities” “supernaturals” “fairies” “spirits”

  14. samānasukhadukkhā tā.

  15. iddhi anekā, lit., “superpowers”

  16. this verse does not appear in PTS, whereas PTS supplies (15) which does not appear in BJTS. The two verses are sufficiently different to warrant inclusion of both, though it creates some unevenness in the flow of the narrative here. The Pāli is: evamādīni vatvāna uppatitvāna ambaraṃ/iddhi anekā dassesi buddhānuññā yasodharā

  17. abhivādetvā, or “after saluting”

  18. iddhiŋ

  19. this verse does not appear here in BJTS, whereas BJTS supplies [974] which does not appear here in PTS. The two verses are sufficiently different to warrant inclusion of both, though it creates some unevenness in the flow of the narrative here. This verse does appear in BJTS below [1054], as in PTS, in the reduplication of Yasodharā’s apadāna as the apadāna of Eighteen Thousand Buddhist Nuns Headed Up by Yasodharā.

  20. cchakkavālaŋ samaŋ (BJTS cchakkavāḷasamaṃ) kāyaŋ, lit., “body the same as the ring surrounding the universe”

  21. or Uttarakuru “island” (dīpa). This verse presumes knowledge of the ancient Indian understanding of India (here jambudīpaŋ [BJTS °dīpo], “the Island of Rose-Apples”) as one of the four great islands or continents making up the whole world. It lies to the south, with the other three being north, east and west of India.

  22. lit., “in the ring surrounding the universe” (cchakkavālagiri°; BJTS cchakkavāḷagiri°)

  23. jamburukkha°, lit., “a rose-apple tree”

  24. °vaṇṇaŋ…dassayi

  25. reading phullapadmena with BJTS for PTS phullapaccchchena (?)

  26. dhammaŋ…puññataŋ, alt. suññataṃ (“emptiness”!)

  27. reading buddhānaṃ with BJTS (or PTS alt. Buddhāna) for PTS pubbānaŋ (former)

  28. saṅgaman te su-dassitaŋ allows for a wide range of meanings; here I follow the BJTS in a fairly modest one. The half-verse could be taken more provocatively to mean, e.g., “when the Buddhas were World-Lords (or “during the time of the former World-Lords”) meeting (or “intercourse”) with you was well seen [by me]”

  29. reading vārayitvā anāccharaṃ with BJTS for PTS cchayantī anāvaraŋ (“burning/tormenting ?)

  30. abhabba-ṭṭhāne, the nine moral states or spheres of activity into which an arahant will not/cannot fall, D.iii.133 (and cf. D.iii.235 where only the first five appear as a set). This is Pāsādika Sutta, #29 of Dīghanikāya, section 26. The nine are: (1) cannot deliberately take the life of a living being (2) cannot steal (3) cannot have sexual intercourse (4) cannot deliberately lie (5) cannot hoard anything for his own indulgence (6) cannot act wrongly through attachments (7) cannot act wrongly through hatred (8) cannot act wrongly through folly (9) cannot act wrongly through fear

  31. reading sañcchattaṃ with BJTS (and PTS alt.) for PTS samattaŋ (“fulfilled” “completed”)

  32. reading °bhaṇḍe na gūhāmi with BJTS for PTS bhaṇḍena gūhāmi (“I conceal with a thing”)

  33. lit., “gone to”

  34. lit., “see,” fig. “know”

  35. reading anubhuttaṃ with BJTS for PTS pariccchchattaŋ (“are sacrificed,” cf. PTS alt. anubhontaŋ)

  36. saṃsāre, or “wheel of life”

  37. lit., “in”

  38. yaŋ dhammaŋ

  39. lit., “Sambuddha”

  40. lit., “and”

  41. lit., “Sambuddha,” paralleling the usage in the previous verse

  42. reading gavesato buddhadhamme with BJTS for PTS gavesantā buddhadhammaŋ (“I, searching for the Buddha’s Teaching)

  43. lit., “doing pūjā

  44. i.e., Sumedha

  45. reading cchīrānupari āsīnaṃ with BJTS for PTS cchirānugataŋ dassitaŋ (“associated for a long time, seen”)

  46. patikantaŋ, BJTS atikantaṃ

  47. manoharaŋ

  48. reading ise (voc.) with BJTS for PTS isiŋ (acc.)

  49. reading tayo with BJTS for PTS tato

  50. BJTS and PTS alt. read samā (“equal to”) for saha here,

  51. bodhanatthāya tavaŋ (PTS alt. tava); the phrase can also be translated, “for the sake of your knowing [me]”

  52. or, as above, “for the sake of knowing [me]”

  53. reading mahā-isiṃ (acc.) with BJTS for PTS mahā-isi (nom.)

  54. lit., “the Great Hero prophesied”

  55. BJTS consigns this verse to an asterisked footnote, recognizing that it occurs in a number of its alternate recensions.

  56. BJTS agrees with PTS in presenting this as mahā-ise (voc.) but reference alternate readings mahā-isi (nom.), presumably troubled by the Buddha addressing Sumedha as “Great Sage”

  57. reading manāpā with BJTS for PTS manasā

  58. reading yathā…anurakkhanti sāmino with BJTS for PTS yathā…anurakkhati sāmi no (“as our master protects”)

  59. lit., “there is no agitation [to my mind]”

  60. This and the following 19 verses (20 verses total) are not included here in BJTS. vv. (62) and (63) do appear at BJTS [1092]-[1093]

  61. lit., “and a woman”

  62. lit., “and a woman”

  63. etesaŋ devadevānaŋ

  64. adhikāraŋ sadā mayhaŋ, lit., “my service is constant” “my service is daily”

  65. or do: from ccharati

  66. saddhamma°, lit “good Teaching”

  67. dhammesu cchiṇṇānaŋ sadā saddhamma-ccharino

  68. aṭṭhamāse, BJTS reads addhamāse (“half a month”)

  69. reading bahu ‘neke with BJTS for PTS buhun eke

  70. this and the following concluding verses do not appear here in PTS, and are unusual (though not unique) for Apadāna in which individual poems usually conclude with what I’ve dubbed the “concluding refrain” (vv. 85-87) [1023-1025]. Interestingly they (plus one more, also duplicated elsewhere) do appear, in the same unusual post-refrain position, below, as vv. 57-59 (plus 60) of apadāna #30, Eighteen Thousand Nuns with Yasodharā, and are also in this position in the BJTS version of that apadāna (vv. [1100-1102] plus [1103]).

  71. PTS omits Therī, which I supply from BJTS.