[39. Ambapālī1]

The Great Sage was Phussa [Buddha,]
[like] a garland of speckled rays.2
I was [that Buddha’s own] sister,
born in [Buddha’s] kṣatriyan clan. (1) [1307]

Having listened to his Teaching,
with a mind that was very clear,
giving [him] a large alms-giving
I aspired to achieve beauty. (2) [1308]

Thirty-one aeons in the past,3
Sikhi, Chief Leader of the World,
arose, the [Bright] Lamp of the World,
the Three Worlds’ Refuge, the Victor. (3) [1309]

I’m then born in a brahmin clan,
in lovely Āruṇa City.
Angered [about something,] I cursed
a nun with liberated mind. (4) [1310]

Misbehaved like a prostitute,
I dirtied the dispensation.4
Having thus cursed [the nun] like that,
because of that evil karma,
I went to a horrific hell,
full of terrible suffering.
Fallen from there, [again] reborn
human,5 I was an ascetic.6 (5-6) [1311-1312]

For ten thousand [different] lifetimes,
I was fixed in prostitution;
thus I was not freed from evil,
as though [I’d] eaten7 strong poison. (7) [1313]

In Kassapa’s dispensation,8
I practiced celibate [nunhood]9.
Due to that karma, I was born
in the city of the thirty.10 (8) [1314]

When [my] last rebirth was attained,
come to be spontaneously,11
I was born amidst mango boughs;
therefore I was “Mango-Guarded.” (9) [1315]

Along with ten million beings,
gone forth in the dispensation,12
I attained the unshaking state,
Buddha’s legitimate daughter. (10) [1316]

I’ve mastered the superpowers
[like] the “divine ear” element.
I’m also a master, Great Sage,13
of the knowledge in others’ hearts. (11) [1317]

I remember [my] former lives;
[my] “divine eye” is purified.
All the defilements are destroyed;
[I] will not be reborn again. (12) [1318]

In meaning and in the Teaching,
etymology and preaching,
[this] knowledge of mine was produced
in your presence, O Great Hero. (13) [1319]

My defilements are [now] burnt up;
all [new] existence is destroyed.
Like elephants with broken chains,
I am living without constraint. (14) [1320]

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! (15) [1321]

The four analytical modes,
and these eight deliverances,
six special knowledges mastered,
[I have] done what the Buddha taught! (16) [1322]

Thus indeed the bhikkhunī Ambapālī spoke these verses.

The legend of the bhikkhunī Ambapālī is finished


  1. “Mango-Guarded”, an historical nun, see DPPN I: 155-156

  2. raŋsiphusitāvelo, playing on/explaining the name “Phussa” (= speckled, cf. °phusita°)

  3. or “ago,” or “hence,” as elsewhere: ito

  4. jinasāsanadūsikā, lit., “defiling the Victor’s dispensation”

  5. lit., “among humans”

  6. tapassinī, lit., “a female practitioner of austerities”

  7. bhuttā…yathā; BJTS reads bhutvā

  8. kassape jinasāsane, lit., “in the dispensation of the Victor, Kassapa [Buddha]”

  9. reading °brahmacchariyam with BJTS for PTS °brahmaccheram, lit., “the Brahma-life” “the holy life” “celibacy”

  10. i.e., the thirty-three gods.

  11. ahosiŋ opapātikā

  12. it. “I went forth in the Victor’s dispensation”

  13. reading mahāmune with BJTS (and PTS alt.) for PTS mahāmuni, Great Sage.