Translated by J. F. Dickenson
The life of the Buddha after his enlightenment was spent in wandering about and
preaching his new creed, which spread with extraordinary rapidity. The essential element
in its spread was the creation of a monastic order, or sangha. The texts here
illustrate some aspects of the early Buddhist Sangha.
Reprinted from a paper by J.F. Dickson, B.A., in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic
Society for 1874
In May, 1872, I was invited by my learned friend and pandit Kewitiyagala Unnanse, of
the Malwatte Monastery in Kandy, to be present at an ordination service, held, according
to custom, on the full-moon day of Wesak, (May, June), being the anniversary of the day on
which Gautama Buddha attained Nirvana, B.C. 543. I gladly availed myself of this
opportunity of witnessing the celebration of a rite of which Englishmen have but little
knowledge, and which has rarely, if ever, been witnessed by any European in Ceylon.
Nothing could be more impressive than the order and solemnity of the proceedings. It
was impossible not to feel that the ceremony was being conducted precisely as it was more
than two thousand years ago.
The chapter house (Sinhalese, Poya-ge) is an oblong hall, with rows of pillars forming
an inner space and leaving broad aisles at the sides. At the top of this inner space sat
the aged Abbot (Sinhalese, Maha Nayaka), as president of the chapter; on either side of
him sat the elder priests, and down the sides sat the other priests in number between
thirty and forty. The chapter or assembly thus formed three sides of an oblong. The
president sat on cushions and a carpet; the other priests sat on mats covered with white
calico. They all sat cross-legged. On the fourth side, at the foot, stood the candidates,
behind the pillars on the right stood the deacons, the left was given up to the visitors,
and behind the candidates at the bottom was a crowd of Buddhist laymen.
To form a chapter for this purpose not less than ten duly ordained priests are
required, and the president must be not less than ten years' standing from his Upasampada
ordination. The priests attending the chapter are required to give their undivided,
unremitting, and devout attention throughout the service. Every priest is instructed to
join heart and mind in the exhortations, responses, formulas, etc., and to correct every
error, lest the oversight of a single mistake should vitiate the efficacy of the rite.
Previously to the ordination the candidates are subjected to a strict and searching
examination as to their knowledge of the discourses of Buddha, the duties of a priest,
etc. An examination and ordination is held on the full moon day in Wesak, and on the three
succeeding Poya days, or days of quarters of the moon.
After witnessing the celebration of this rite, I read the Upasampada Kammavaca or book
setting forth the form and manner of ordering of priests and deacons, and I was
subsequently induced to translate it. This manual was translated into Italian in 1776, by
Padre Maria Percoto (missionary in Ava and Pegu), under the title of "Kammuva, ossia
trattato della ordinazione dei Talapoini del secondo ordine detti Pinzi," and a
portion of it was edited in 1841, in Pali and Latin, by Professor Spiegel. Clough
translated it in 1834, and Hardy has given an interesting summary of it in his Eastern
Monarchism; but neither the text nor any complete translation is readily accessible, and I
have therefore thought that this edition might possibly be acceptable to those who desire
information respecting the practice of Buddhism in Ceylon, where, as is well pointed out
by Mr. Childers, in his Pali Dictionary, (s.v. Nibbanam, p. 272, note), "Buddhism
retains almost its pristine purity."
With regard to the transliteration, I have used the system adopted (after Fausboll) by
Mr. Childers in his Dictionary. In the translation I have placed italics the rubrical
directions in the text, and all explanations and amplifications of the text I have placed
in square brackets. I have thus endeavoured to give a translation of the text as it
stands, and, at the same time, to set out the ordination service fully and completely,
precisely in the form in use in Ceylon at the present time, as I have myself witnessed it.
No one who compares this form with that given in Article XV. of Hodgson's "Literature
and Religion of the Buddhists in Nepaul," can fail to be struck with the purity and
simplicity of the Ceylon rite as contrasted with that in use among the Northern Buddhists.
Kandy, 9th January, 1873. J.F.D.
The Ordination Service
Praise be to the Blessed One, the Holy One, to him who has arrived at the knowledge of
[The candidate, accompanied by his Tutor, in the dress of a layman, but having the
yellow robes of a priest in his arms, makes the usual obeisance and offering to the
President of the chapter, and standing says,]
Grant me leave to speak. Lord, graciously grant me admission to deacon's orders. Kneels
down. Lord, I pray for admission as a deacon. Again, lord, I pray for admission as a
deacon. A third time, lord, I pray for admission as a deacon. In compassion for me, lord,
take these yellow robes, and let me be ordained, in order to the destruction of all
sorrow, and in order to the attainment of Nirvana. To be repeated three times. [The
President takes the bundle of robes.] In compassion for me, lord, give me those yellow
robes, and let me be ordained, in order to the destruction of all sorrow, and in order to
the attainment of Nirvana. To be repeated three times. [And the President then gives the
bundle of robes, the yellow band of which he ties round the neck of the candidate,
reciting the while the tacapancakam, or formula of meditation on the perishable nature of
the human body, as follows: kesa loma nakha danta taco-taco danta nakha loma kesa. Hairrof
the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin-skin, teeth, nails, hair of the body, hair
of the head. The candidate then rises up, and retires to throw off the dress of a layman,
and to put on his yellow robes. While changing his dress he recites the following: In
wisdom I put on the robes, as a protection against cold as a protection against heat, as a
protection against gadflies and musquitoes, wind and sun, and the touch of serpents, and
to cover nakedness, i. e. I wear them in all humility, for use only, and not for ornament
or show. Having put on the yellow robes, he returns to the side of his tutor, and says,]
Grant me leave to speak. I make obeisance to my lord. Lord, forgive me all my faults. Let
the merit that I have gained be shared by my lord. It is fitting to give me to share in
the merit gained by my lord. It is good, it is good. I share in it. Grant me leave to
speak. Graciously give me, lord, the three refuges and the precepts. [He kneels down.]
Lord, I pray for the refuges and the precepts.
[The tutor gives the three refuges and the ten precepts as follows, the candidate still
kneeling, and repeating them after him sentence by sentence.
I The Three Refuges
I put my trust in Buddha. I put my trust in the Law. I put my trust in the Priesthood.
Again I put my trust in Buddha. Again I put my trust in the Law. Again I put my trust in
the Priesthood. Once more I put my trust in Buddha. Once more I put my trust in the Law.
Once more I put my trust in the Priesthood.
II The Ten Precepts Or Laws Of The Priesthood
Abstinence from destroying life; Abstinence from theft; Abstinence from fornication and
all uncleanness; Abstinence from lying; Abstinence from fermented liquor, spirits and
strong drink which are a hindrance to merit; Abstinence from eating at forbidden times;
Abstinence from dancing, singing, and shows; Abstinence from adorning and beautifying the
person by the use of garlands, perfumes and unguents; Abstinence from using a high or a
large couch or seat; Abstinence from receiving gold and silver; are the ten means (of
leading a moral life).
[The candidate says,]
I have received these ten precepts. Permit me. [He rises up, and makes obeisance to his
Tutor.] Lord, I make obeisance. Forgive me all my faults. May the merit I have gained be
shared by my lord. Give me to share in the merit of my lord. It is good, it is good. I
share in it.
[This completes the ordination of a deacon, and the candidate retires.]
The foregoing ceremony is gone through previous to the ordination of a priest in all
cases, even where the candidate has already been admitted as a deacon. If the candidate is
duly qualified for the priestly office, he can proceed at once from deacon's to priest's
orders; otherwise he must pass a term of instruction as a deacon: but a candidate who has
received deacon's orders must solicit them again, and go through the above ceremony when
presented for priest's orders.
The candidate being duly qualified, returns with his tutor, and goes up to the
President of the chapter, presenting an offering, and makes obeisance, saying,]
Permit me to speak. Lord, graciously grant me your sanction and support. He kneels
down. Lord, I pray for your sanction and support; a second time, lord, I pray for your
sanction and support; a third time, lord, I pray for your sanction and support. Lord, be
my superior. This is repeated three times. [The President says,] It is well. [And the
candidate replies,] I am content. This is repeated three times. From this day forth my
lord is my charge. I am charge to my lord. [This vow of mutual assistance] is repeated
[The candidate rises up, makes obeisance, and retires alone to the foot of the
assembly, where his alms-bowl is strapped on his back. His tutor then goes down, takes him
by the hand, and brings him back, placing him in front of the President. One of the
assembled priests stands up, and places himself on the other side of the candidate, who
thus stands between two tutors. The tutors say to the assembly,] With your permission,
[and then proceed to examine the candidate as to his fitness to be admitted to priest's
orders]. Your name is Naga? It is so, lord. Your superior is the venerable Tissa? It is
so, lord. [The two tutors together say,] Praise be to the Blessed One, the Holy One, to
him who has arrived at the knowledge of all Truth. [They then recite the following
commands of Buddha.] First it is right to appoint a superior. When the superior has been
appointed, it is right to inquire whether the candidate has alms-bowl and robes [which
they do as follows]. Is this your alms-bowl? It is so, lord. Is this the stole? It is so,
lord. Is this the upper robe? It is so, lord. Is this the under robe? It is so, lord. Go
and stand there. [The candidate here retires, going backwards in a reverential posture,
and stands at the lower corner of the assembly. The tutors remain in front of the
President, and one of them says,] Priests, hear me. The candidate desires ordination under
the venerable Tissa. Now is the time of the assembly of priests. I will instruct the
candidate. [The tutors make obeisance to the President, and go down to the foot of the
assembly, and join the candidate, whom they instruct and examine as follows.] Listen,
Naga. This is the time for you to speak the truth, to state what has occurred. When asked
concerning anything in the midst of the assembly, if it be true, it is meet to say so; if
it be not true, it is meet to say that it is not. Do not hesitate. Conceal nothing. They
inquire of the candidate as follows. Have you any such diseases as these? Leprosy? No,
lord. Boils? No, lord, Itch? No, lord. Asthma? No, lord. Epilepsy? No, lord. Are you a
human being? Yes, lord. Are you a male? Yes, lord. Are you a free man? Yes, lord. Are you
free from debt? Yes, lord. Are you exempt from you come with the permission of your
parents? Yes, lord. Are you of the full age of twenty years? Yes, lord. Are your alms-bowl
and robes complete? Yes, lord. What is your name? Lord, I am called Naga. What is the name
of your superior? My superior, lord, is called the venerable Tissa. [Here ends the
examination in the midst of the assembly, and one of the tutors reports the result as
follows:] This candidate desires ordination under the venerable Tissa. He is free from
disqualifications. He has his alms-bowl and robes complete. The candidate asks the
assembly for ordination under his superior the venerable Tissa. The assembly gives the
candidate ordination under his superior the venerable Tissa. If any of the venerable
assembly approves the ordination of the candidate under the venerable Tissa, let him be
silent; if any objects, let him speak. A second time I state this matter. Priests, hear
me. This candidate desires ordination under the venerable Tissa. He is free from
disqualifications for the priestly office. His alms-bowl and robes are complete. The
candidate asks the priesthood for ordination under his superior the venerable Tissa. The
assembly gives the candidate ordination under his superior the venerable Tissa. If any of
the venerable assembly approve the ordination of the candidate under his superior the
venerable Tissa, let him be silent; if any objects, let him speak. A third time I state
this matter. Priests, listen. This candidate desires ordination under the venerable Tissa.
He is free from disqualifications for the priestly office. His alms-bowl and robes are
complete. The candidate asks the priesthood for ordination under his superior the
venerable Tissa. The assembly gives the candidate ordination under his superior the
venerable Tissa. If any of the venerable assembly approves the ordination of the candidate
under his superior the venerable Tissa, let him be silent; if any objects, let him speak.
[The two tutors here again make obeisance to the President, and say,] The candidate has
received ordination from the priesthood under his superior the venerable Tissa. The
assembly approves the resolution: therefore it keeps silence. So I understand your wish.
Translated from the Samyutta-Nikaya (xvi. 31)
Thus have I heard.
On a certain occasion The Blessed One was dwelling at Savatthi in Jetavana monastery in
And there The Blessed One addressed the priests:
"Priests," said he.
"Lord," said the priests to The Blessed One in reply.
And The Blessed One spoke as follows:
"Take pattern by the moon, O priests, when ye go a-begging. Hold aloof, O priests,
both in body and in mind, never weary your welcome, nor be impudent to your benefactors.
"Just as a man, O priests, would regard a dilapidated well, or a rugged mountain,
or a river difficult to ford, and hold aloof both in body and in mind, in exactly the same
way, O priests, take pattern by the moon when ye go a-begging, hold aloof both in body and
in mind, never weary your welcome, or be impudent to your benefactors.
"Kassapa, O priests, takes pattern by the moon when he goes a-begging. He holds
aloof both in body and in mind, never wearies his welcome, nor is impudent to his
"What do you say to this, O priests? What sort of a priest is worthy to go
"Reverend Sir, our beliefs derive from The Blessed One, have The Blessed One for
their guide and their authority. Pray, Reverend Sir, let the answer to this find
expression in the mouth of The Blessed One. Anything the priests hear from The Blessed One
will be kept in mind."
Then The Blessed One waved his hand in the air: "Just as my hand, O priests, is
not caught, nor seized, nor held fast by the air, in exactly the same way, O priests, when
the mind of a priest who goes a-begging is not caught, nor seized, nor held fast, and when
willing that they should gain who wish for gain, and that they should acquire merit who
wish to acquire merit, he is as delighted and pleased with the gains of others as with his
own, such a priest, O priests, is worthy to go a-begging.
"The mind of Kassapa, O priests, when he goes a-begging is not caught, nor seized,
nor held fast, and willing that they should gain who wish for gain, and that they should
acquire merit who wish to acquire merit, he is as delighted and pleased with the gains of
others as with his own.
"What do you say to this, O priests? What sort of a priest is an unworthy teacher
of the Doctrine? And what sort of a priest is a worthy teacher of the Doctrine?"
"Reverend Sir, our beliefs derive from The Blessed One, have The Blessed One for
their guide and their authority. Pray, Reverend Sir, let the meaning of this saying find
expression in the mouth of The Blessed One. Anything the priests hear from The Blessed One
will be kept in mind."
"Then listen, O priests, and pay strict attention, and I will speak."
"Yes, Reverend Sir," said the priests to The Blessed One in assent.
And The Blessed One spoke as follows:
"Any priest, O priests, who in teaching the Doctrine to others thinks as follows:
'O that they may hear from me the Doctrine! and be won over by what they hear, and
manifest delight towards me,' such a priest, O priests, is an unworthy teacher of the
"Any priest, O priests, who in teaching the Doctrine to others thinks as follows:
'The Doctrine has been well taught by The Blessed One, avails even in the present life, is
immediate in its results, is inviting and conducive to salvation, and may be mastered by
any intelligent man for himself. O that they may hear from me the Doctrine, and be
enlightened by what they hear, and as a result of their enlightenment begin to act
accordingly!' and thus teaches the Doctrine to others because of that Doctrine's intrinsic
goodness, and because of compassion, mercy, and kindness, such a priest, O priests, is a
worthy teacher of the Doctrine.
"Kassapa, O priests, in teaching the Doctrine to others, thinks as follows: 'The
Doctrine has been well taught by The Blessed One, is of advantage even in the present
life, is immediate in its results, is inviting and conducive to salvation, and may be
mastered by any intelligent man for himself. O that they may hear from me the Doctrine,
and be enlightened by what they hear, and as a result of their enlightenment begin to act
accordingly!' and thus teaches the Doctrine to others because of that Doctrine's intrinsic
goodness, and because of compassion, mercy, and kindness.
"I will admonish you, O priests, by the example of Kassapa, or by that of any one
who may resemble Kassapa, and when you have been admonished, begin to act
And Hate Not His Father
Translated from the Visuddhi-Magga (chap. iii.)
For some persons even mother and father are no hindrances, as in the case of the young
priest, the nephew on his mother's side of an elder who dwelt in Korandaka monastery.
It is related that the young priest had gone to Rohana to hear the precepts read, and
the elder's sister, who was a lay devotee, used constantly to ask the elder for news of
her son. One day the elder determined to go and fetch the lad, and set out in the
direction of Rohana. The youth also had left his quarters, and had issued forth from
Rohana. For he said to himself, "It is a long time that I have lived here. I will go
now and see my preceptor, and having learnt how the lay woman is doing, I will return
again." And they both met on the banks of the Ganges. Then the young priest performed
his respectful duties to the elder at the foot of a certain tree, and when the latter
asked him, "Whither are you going?" he told him. Said the elder, "You do
well; the lay woman is always asking after you, and it is for this very reason that I am
come. By all means go, and I will stay and keep residence here." And thus he
The young priest arrived home at the monastery on the day for beginning residence, and
they assigned to him a cell which had been built by his father. On the next day his father
came, and inquired of one of the priests, "Reverend sir, to whom has my cell been
assigned?" And when he heard it had been assigned to a young stranger, he drew near,
and having done obeisance, he said,
"Reverend sir, any one who enters upon residence in my cell has a garment given
"What mean you, O layman?"
"For the next three months you must beg your food at our house, and when, after
the solemnity of inviting criticism, you wish to depart, come and take leave of us."
The other assented by his silence.
Then the layman went home, and said to his wife, "A certain reverend stranger is
in the dwelling I put up, and we must wait on him attentively."
"Very well," said the lay woman in assent, and prepared excellent food, both
hard and soft.
At breakfast-time the lad came to the house of his mother and father, but no one
recognized him. And he remained three months, and always ate his alms at their house. And
when residence was over, he announced to them that he was about to depart.
Then said his mother and father, "Reverend sir, you can go on the morrow."
And the next day they fed him in their house, and then filled up a measure of sesamum oil
and gave it to him, and also a lump of sugar, and nine cubits' length of cloth, and said,
"You can go now, reverend sir." And he returned thanks, and set out in the
direction of Rohana.
And his preceptor, after the solemnity of inviting criticism, was coming in the
opposite direction, and met him in the place where they had met before. The lad performed
his respectful duties to the elder at the foot of a certain tree. Then said the elder,
"Well, my friend, did you see the lay woman?"
"Yes, reverend sir," said he in reply, and told him all the news. And having
anointed the feet of the elder with the sesamum oil, and made him a drink with the lump of
sugar, and given him the cloth, he did obeisance before him and saying, "Reverend
sir, Rohana is the place for me," he departed on his way.
The elder came to the monastery, and on the next day entered the village of Korandaka.
And the lay woman, who was always looking up the road, and saying, "Now, now my
brother is coming with my son," saw him approaching alone, and fell at his feet, and
wept, and lamented, saying "My son, methinks, must be dead, inasmuch as the elder
Then thought the elder, "Surely, the lad, through the moderateness of his
passions, must have gone away without announcing himself." And he comforted her, and
told her the whole story, and drawing forth the cloth from the scrip in which he carried
his bowl, he showed it to her.
The lay woman was pleased, and lying prostrate, with her face in the direction in which
her son had gone, she worshiped, saying,
"Methinks The Blessed One must have had in mind a body of priests like my son when
he preached the relay course of conduct, the Nalaka course of conduct, the tuvattaka
course of conduct, and the course of conduct customary with the great saints, showing how
to take delight in the cultivation of content with the four reliances. This man ate for
three months in the house of the mother who bore him, and never said, 'I am thy son, and
thou art my mother.' O the wonderful man!"
For such a one mother and father are no hindrances, much less any other lay devotees.
Story Of Visakha
Translated from the Dhammapada, and from Buddhaghosa's comment
"As flowers in rich profusion piled Will many a garland furnish forth; So all the
years of mortal man Should fruitful be in all good works."
"As flowers in rich profusion piled." This doctrinal instruction was given by
The Teacher while dwelling near Savatthi in Eastern Monastery; and it was concerning
Visakha, a female lay disciple. She was born, we are told, in the city of Bhaddiya, in the
kingdom of Bengal. Her father Dhananjaya, son of Mendaka the treasurer, ranked also as
treasurer, and her mother was the lady Sumana, his principal wife.
When Visakha was seven years old, The Teacher, perceiving that the Brahman Sela, and
others of her city, were competent to attain to salvation, went thither on his wanderings,
accompanied by a great congregation of priests.
Now at that time Mendaka, who was filling the office of treasurer in that city, was
head of a household of five persons of great merit. The five persons of great merit were:
Mendaka the treasurer; Paduma, his principal wife; Dhananjaya, his eldest son; the
latter's wife, Sumana; and Mendaka's slave, Punna. Now Mendaka the treasurer was not the
only person of illimitable wealth in Bimbisara's territory. There were five of them:
Jotiya, Jatila, Mendaka, Punnaka, Kakavaliya.
When Mendaka the treasurer heard of the arrival of The One Possessing the Ten Forces,
he sent for the little maid Visakha, the daughter of his son Dhananjaya the treasurer, and
said to her:
"Dear girl, this is an auspicious day for you and for me! With your five hundred
girl-attendants mount five hundred chariots, and with these five hundred female slaves as
your retinue go to welcome The One Possessing the Ten Forces."
"Very well," said she, and did so. But as she will knew what etiquette
required, when she had gone as far in her carriage as was proper for carriages to go, she
alighted, and on foot drew near to The Teacher. Then she did him obeisance, and stood
respectfully at one side. Pleased with her behavior, The Teacher taught her the Doctrine,
and at the end of the discourse, she attained to the fruit of conversion, together with
her five hundred maidens.
Also Mendaka the treasurer drew near to The Teacher, and listening to a sermon,
attained to the fruit of conversion, and invited him for the morrow to breakfast. On the
next day at his own house he served The Buddha and the congregation of the priests with
excellent food, both hard and soft; and thus for half a month he gave liberally. And when
The Teacher had stopped in the city of Bhaddiya as long as he wished, he departed.
Now at that time Bimbisara and Pasenadi the Kosalan were connected by marriage, being
each of them the husband of the other's sister. And one day it occurred to the Kosalan
king: "In Bimbisara's territory dwell five men of illimitable wealth, while there is
not one in mine. Suppose, now, I go to Bimbisara, and ask him for one of these persons of
And going to king Bimbisara, he was received cordially by the latter, who then asked,
"What was your purpose in coming?"
"In your territory dwell five men of illimitable wealth, persons of great merit. I
have come with the intention of taking one of them back with me. Let me have one."
"It would be impossible for me to move one of those great families."
"I will not go without," was the reply.
The king took counsel with his ministers, and then said to him:
"To move such powerful personages as Joti and the others, would be like moving the
world. But Mendaka the great treasurer has a son called Dhananjaya the treasurer: I will
consult with him, and then give you my reply."
Then Bimbisara sent for Dhananjaya the treasurer, and said to him,
"Dear friend, the king of the Kosalans says he will not return home unless you go
with him. Therefore, go with him, pray."
"Sire, I will go, if you send me."
"Then make your preparations, dear friend, and go."
So he got himself ready, and the king was full of kind attentions to him, and at
parting formally instrusted him to Pasenadi the king. And Pasenadi the king set out for
Savatthi, intending to spend one night on the way. And coming to a pleasant spot, they
Then said Dhananjaya the treasurer,
"Whose territory are we on now?"
"Mine, O treasurer."
"How far is it from here to Savatthi?"
"It is very crowded in a city, and my suite is a large one. Sire, if it so please
you, I will dwell here."
"Very good," said the king in assent; and mapping out for him a city, he gave
it to him, and went away. And from the circumstance that the settlement in that place was
made in the evening [sa-yam], the city received the name of Saketa.
Now there was dwelling at Savatthi a young man named Punnavaddhana, who was the son of
a treasurer named Migara, and had just come of age. And his mother and father said to him,
"Son, choose yourself a wife from what family you please."
"Oh! I have no use for anything of that sort."
"Son, act not so! No family can last without children."
"Well, then," said he, when they continually insisted, "If I can have a
girl endowed with the five beauties, I will do as you say."
"But, son, what are these five beauties?"
"Beauty of hair; beauty of flesh; beauty of bone; beauty of skin; and beauty of
(The hair of a woman who is experiencing the reward of great merit is like a peacock's
tail, and, when it is loosened and allowed to fall, reaches to the bottom of the tunic,
where the ends turn and point upwards. This is "Beauty of hair." The lips are of
a fine color, resembling a bright red gourd, and are smooth and pleasant to the touch.
This is "Beauty of flesh." The teeth are white, with even interstices,
resembling a row of diamonds set upright, or evenly cut mother-of-pearl. This is
"Beauty of bone." The skin, even without the application of sandal-wood perfume,
or any rouge, or other cosmetic, is glossy like a blue-lotus wreath, and white like a
wreath of kanikara flowers. This is "Beauty of skin." She possesses a
youthfulness as fresh when she has brought forth ten times, as if she had brought forth
but once. This is "Beauty of youth.")
Then his mother and father invited and entertained one hundred and eight Brahmans, and
inquired of them,
"Are there any women endowed with the five beauties?"
"Assuredly there are."
"Then let eight of you go in search of a girl of this description."
And giving them a liberal present, they continued: "When you return, we will
remember you again. Go, search for a girl of this description, and as soon as you find
her, put on her this decoration." And with that they placed in their hands a gold
wreath worth a hundred thousand pieces of money, and dismissed them.
So the eight Brahmans went searching through all the large cities, but discovered no
girl endowed with the five beauties. Then they turned back, and as they were returning,
they chanced to arrive at Saketa on Public Day. "Now," thought they, "our
mission will be effected."
It seems that every year in that city there was held a festival called "Public
Day". Then all those ladies who are not in the habit of going out of doors issue
forth from their homes with their attendants, and show themselves in public, going on foot
to the banks of the river. And on the same day they do this, all the rich men's sons of
the warrior and other castes station themselves alongside the paths in order to put
garlands on the heads of any pretty girls they may see of equal rank with themselves.
And these Brahmans came also, and stationed themselves in a hall on the banks of the
river. At that moment Visakha, then some fifteen or sixteen years of age, came to that
place on her way to bathe in the river, being decked in all her ornaments, and attended by
five hundred maidens. And suddenly a cloud arose, and it began to rain. The five hundred
maidens took to running, and sought refuge in the hall. The Brahmans scanned them
carefully, but saw not one among them endowed with the five beauties. Then Visakha came up
at her natural gait, and entered the hall, and her garments and ornaments were wet.
The Brahmans perceived that she had four of the beauties, and being desirous of seeing
her teeth, they began conversing among themselves, saying,
"Our daughter is of a lazy disposition; her husband, we must needs suppose, will
have to content himself with sour gruel."
Then said Visakha, "What is that you are saying?"
Dear girl, we say thus and so."
(They say the sound of her voice was sweet, sounding forth like the tones of a gong of
Then with a sweet voice, she asked them again,
"Why do you say that?
"Your attendant women came running to this hall, and did not get their garments or
their ornaments wet. But though it is but a little way, you did not run at all, and got
your garments and ornaments wet. This is why we speak as we do."
"Good sirs, say not so. I am better able to run than they; but I had my reasons
for not running."
"What were they, dear girl?"
"Good sirs, there are four things which do not appear to advantage when running.
And there is another reason."
"Dear girl, what are the four things?"
"Good sirs, an anointed and richly dressed king does not appear to advantage when
he binds up his loin-cloth, and runs in the royal court. Every one finds fault, saying,
'How is it this great king rushes around like any householder?' He appears to advantage
when walking at a slow gait. The king's caparisoned state elephant does not appear to
advantage when running. He appears to advantage when marching at an elephant's natural
dignified pace. A man who has retired from the world does not appear to advantage when
running. Every one finds fault, saying 'How is it this monk rushes about like any layman?'
He appears to advantage when adopting a tranquil gait. No woman appears to advantage when
running. People justly find fault with here, saying, 'How is it this woman rushes about
like a man?' These four do not appear to advantage when running."
"But what, dear girl, was your other reason?"
"Good sirs, a daughter is brought up by her mother and father, who put a value on
every limb in her body. For we are goods for sale. They bring us up in order to marry us
into another family. If we should run and stumble, either over our skirts or over some
obstacle on the ground, and in falling should break either a hand or a foot, we should
remain as burdens on our families. But articles of ornament, if they get wet, can dry.
This, good sirs, was my reason for not running."
All the while she was talking, the Brahmans were beholding the splendor of her teeth,
such splendor as they felt they had never seen before. And having applauded her speech,
they took the gold wreath, and placed it on her head, and said:
"You, dear girl, are the one whom this befits."
Then she asked them: "Good sirs, from what city are you come?"
"From Savatthi, dear girl."
"The treasurer, the head of the family, what is his name?"
"His name, dear girl, is Migara the treasurer."
And my young master, what is his name?"
"He is the young Punnavaddhana, dear girl."
Having thus ascertained that the family was of equal caste to her own, she sent a
message to her father to send the chariot. For although she had come on foot, it is not
allowed to maidens to return in that manner when once they have been decorated with the
wreath. The daughters of influential families return in chariots and the like; others,
either mount ordinary carriages, or walk under a palm-leaf parasol, or, if that is
lacking, they raise the skirts of their cloaks and throw them over their shoulders. In the
present instance, her father sent her five hundred chariots, and she and her attendants
mounted and returned home, while the Brahmans accompanied them.
Then said the treasurer to the Brahmans,
"Whence are ye come?"
"From Savatthi, great treasurer."
"The treasurer, what is his name?"
"Migara the treasurer."
"What is the son's name?"
"The riches, how great are the riches?"
"My dear," said he, "I hear that your father-in-law has come with the
king of the Kosalans. Which house shall we get ready for him, which for the king, and
which ones for the deputy kings?"
Now clever was the treasurer's daughter, with a fully matured and keen intellect, the
result of longing expressed and aspiration cherished through a hundred thousand
world-cycles. And she gave orders: "Let such and such a house be got ready for my
father-in-law, such another for the King, and such others for the deputy kings."
After making these arrangements, she next summoned the slaves and servants, and said to
them: "Let so many of you wait on the king, and so many on the deputy kings; and do
you who are hostlers and the like take care of the elephants, horses, and other beasts;
for our guests must have a merry time while they are here." Such were her orders. And
why? So that none might say: "We came to Visakha's merrymaking and got nothing for
our pains, but spent our time looking after our beasts."
That same day, Visakha's father sent for five hundred goldsmiths, and giving them a
thousand nikkhas of red gold, besides silver, gems, pearls, coral, diamonds, etc., enough
to go with it, he said: "Make for my daughter what is called the great creeper
After remaining a few days, the king sent a message to Dhananjaya the treasurer,
"It is too great a load for a simple treasurer to feed and take care of us. Be
pleased to appoint a time for the maiden's departure."
But Dhananjaya the treasurer returned word to the king:
"The rainy season is now come, and you can well afford to remain four months. Let
everything pertaining to your army be my care. It will be time enough for your majesty to
go when I dismiss you."
From that time on it was like a continual festival for the city of Saketa. From the
king down, every one was provided with garlands, perfumes, garments, and other gifts, so
that each one felt himself the especial object of the treasurer's hospitality.
Thus three months went by, but the parure was not yet finished.
Then came the masters of ceremonies, and announced to the treasurer:
"There is no lack of anything else, but the army has not sufficient wood to cook
"Go, my dear sirs, take all the tumble-down elephant stables, and other buildings
of the kind in the city, and all the dilapidated houses, and use them for
This wood did the cooking for half a month, and thereupon they again announced to the
"There is no wood."
"At this time in the year one cannot go for wood. But open the store-houses where
stuffs are kept, and make wicks of the coarse cloths, dip them in vessels of oil, and so
cook your meals."
They did so for half a month, and thus four months had gone by, and the parure was
finished. There was no thread in this parure; silver was used instead. When this parure
was on, it extended from head to foot. At the latter place were bunches of gold medals,
and silver dies. On the crown of the head was a medal, at the top of the ears two, at the
throat one, at the knees two, at the elbows two, and at the sides of the waist two.
Now a part of this parure consisted of a peacock, and there were five hundred feathers
of red gold in the wing on the right side, and five hundred in the one on the left side.
The beak was of coral, the eyes were of jewels, and likewise the neck and the
tail-feathers. The midribs of the feathers were of silver, and likewise the shanks of the
legs. When placed in position on Visakha's head, it appeared like a peacock dancing on the
summit of a mountain, and the sound which came from the thousand midribs rolled forth like
the tones of celestial choruses and orchestras. And it was only when people had come quite
close that they knew it was not a real peacock.
This parure was worth ninety millions, and a hundred thousand was spent on the
workmanship. But what was the deed in a previous existence which caused her to obtain this
parure? They say that in the time of Kassapa Buddha she gave cloth for robes to twenty
thousand priests, also thread and needles and dyeing material, all her own property; and
the parure was the result of this liberality. For the giving of robes by a woman attains
its fruition in the great creeper parure; by a man, in the supernatural bowl and robes.
When the great treasurer had thus spent four months in getting ready his daughter's
trousseau, he began giving her the dowry. He gave five hundred carts full of money, five
hundred carts full of gold dishes, five hundred full of silver dishes, five hundred full
of copper dishes, five hundred full of silk garments, five hundred full of clarified
butter, five hundred full of husked rice, and five hundred full of plow-shares and other
implements. They say the reason why he thus gave her all manner of implements was for fear
that his daughter in her new home might need something, and be obliged to send to a
neighbor's for it. And he gave fifteen hundred waiting-maids whose duties were to bathe,
feed, and dress her,-all of them handsome slaves, and richly dressed, and riding in five
hundred chariots, three to each several chariot.
Then he determined to give his daughter some cattle, and gave orders to his men:
"Look you now! Go and open the door of my lesser cattle-fold, and post yourselves
for a distance of three quarters of a league, and at every quarter-league have a drum. And
let the space across from side to side be a hundred and forty cubits, and let not the cows
transgress those limits. And as soon as you get them in position, sound your drums."
They did so. When the cows passed out of the fold, and had gone a quarter-league, the
men gave a signal with the drum, and again at the end of the second quarter-league, and
again at the third quarter-league. And they hemmed them in at the sides. Thus, for a space
of three-quarters of a league in length, and a hundred and forty cubits across, the cows
stood so close that they chafed one another.
Then said the great treasurer, "That is enough cows for my daughter. Shut the
door." So they shut the door of the fold; but, notwithstanding the door was shut,
such was the effect of Visakha's merit that the vigorous bulls and the milch cows leaped
up and got out. And in spite of all the men could do to prevent them, sixty thousand
vigorous bulls and sixty thousand milch cows got out, and behind the milch cows followed
vigorous bull calves.
What was the deed in a previous existence by reason of which the cattle thus got out?
Because once she kept on giving, in spite of the efforts people made to stop her. As
tradition has it, in the time of The Supreme Buddha Kassapa, she was the youngest of the
seven daughters of king Kiki, and her name was Servant-of-the-Congregation. And as she was
once giving the five products of the cow in alms to twenty thousand priests, the young
priests and the novices cried, "Enough, enough!" and closed their hands up
tight. But, notwithstanding their efforts to prevent her, she kept on giving, saying,
"Here is a sweet bit; here is a dainty morsel." This was the reason the cattle
kept on coming out, notwithstanding the efforts made to prevent them.
When the treasurer had got thus far in his giving, his wife said to him,
"You have assigned goods to my daughter, but no male and female vassals to do her
bidding. Why is this?"
"Because I want to find out who are fond of her, and who are not. Of course, I
shall send vassals with her to do her bidding. When she comes to mount her chariot to
depart, I shall make proclamation: 'Let all who wish to go with my daughter, do so; and
let all others stay at home.'"
Now the day before she was to depart, the treasurer sat in his room and had his
daughter sit by him, and he admonished her, telling her what rules of conduct she should
adopt when she came to dwell in her husband's family. And it happened that Migara the
treasurer was seated in the next room, and overheard the admonition of Dhananjaya the
treasurer, which was as follows:
"My child, as long as you dwell in your father-in-law's family, the in-door fire
is not to be taken out of doors; out-door fire is not to be brought within doors; give
only to him who gives; give not to him who does not give; give both to him who gives, and
to him who does not give; sit happily; eat happily; sleep happily; wait upon the fire; and
reverence the household divinities." This was the tenfold admonition.
On the next day he assembled the different guilds of artisans, and in the presence of
the royal army he appointed eight householders to be sponsors for his daughter, saying,
"You are to try any charge of sin that may be brought against my daughter in her new
home." Next he had his daughter put on her great creeper parure that was worth ninety
millions, and gave her besides five hundred and forty millions with which to buy aromatic
powders for her bath. And causing her to mount a chariot, he took her about in the
neighborhood of Saketa as far as to Anuradhapura, through fourteen villages that were
subject to him; and as he went through one after another, he caused proclamation to be
made: "Let all who wish to go with my daughter, go." On hearing the proclamation
all the inhabitants of the fourteen villages, without exception, issued forth, saying,
"When our mistress is on the point of leaving, why stay we here?" Then
Dhananjaya the treasurer, full of polite attentions to the king and Migara the treasurer,
accompanied them a short distance on their way; and having intrusted his daughter into
their hands, he there took leave of them.
And Migara the treasurer rode in a conveyance behind the others, and beholding a great
crowd of people following, he asked,
"Pray, who are these?"
"They are male and female vassals to do the bidding of your daughter-in-law."
"Who could ever feed so many? Beat and drive them away and keep only those who do
"Hold!" cried Visakha; "do not drive them away! The one army can feed
But the treasurer persisted, saying, "My dear girl, we have no use for them. Who
is there to feed them?" And he caused his men to fling clods of earth at them, and to
beat them with sticks, and all those who did not run he took with him, saying, "These
are a plenty."
When Visakha approached the gate of the city of Savatthi, she began to reflect,
"Shall I enter seated in a covered conveyance, or standing erect in a chariot?"
Then she thought, "If I am in a covered conveyance when I enter, no one will see the
elegance of my great creeper parure." So she entered the city standing in her
chariot, and showing herself to the whole town. And when the inhabitants of Savatthi
beheld the magnificence of Visakha, they said, "This, then, is Visakha. Truly, her
magnificence becomes her well!" And thus it was in great pomp she entered the
Then all the inhabitants of the city sent gifts to her, according to their power, and
according to their ability; for they thought, "Dhananjaya the treasurer was
exceedingly hospitable to us when we went to his city." But Visakha took all the
gifts that were sent her, and distributed them to the different families everywhere
throughout the city. And in sending, she accompanied each gift with an affectionate
message: "This is for my mother, this for my father, this for my brother, and this
for my sister;" thus treating each one according to age, and making, as it were, all
the inhabitants of the city her relatives.
Now towards the end of the night, her thoroughbred mare gave birth to a foal. And
Visakha, accompanied by her female slaves bearing torches, went to the stable, and
superintended while they washed the mare with warm water, and anointed her with oil. Then
she returned to her own quarters.
Now Migara the treasurer had for a long time been favorably disposed to the sect of
naked ascetics. And urged by this feeling, though The Buddha was dwelling in a neighboring
monastery, he neglected him in the festivities of his son's wedding, but determined to do
the naked ascetics an honor. So, on a certain day, he had some rice porridge cooked in
several hundred new dishes, and extended an invitation to five hundred of the unclothed.
And when he had got them all into his house he sent a message to Visakha, saying,
"Let my daughter-in-law come and do reverence to the saints."
When Visakha heard the word "saints" she was greatly delighted, for she had
been converted, and was a noble disciple. But when she came to the place where they were
eating, and beheld them, she was angry with the treasurer, and returned to her own
quarters, saying reproachfully, "These persons so devoid of shame and fear of sinning
cannot be saints. Why did my father-in-law have me summoned?"
When the unclothed caught sight of her, they all with one mouth reproached the
"Why, O householder, did you not find some one else for a daughter-in-law? You
have introduced into your house an arrant misfortune-breeder, a disciple of the monk
Gotama. Make haste and have her expelled from the house."
"It is out of the question," thought the treasurer, "for me to expel her
just because these men tell me to do so. She is from too powerful a family." And he
dismissed them, saying,
"Your reverences, young people sometimes act without knowing what they are about.
Hold your peace!"
Then he sat down on a costly seat, and began to eat the sweet rice porridge from a
golden bowl. At that moment a [Buddhist] elder on his begging rounds entered the house.
Visakha was standing fanning her father-in-law, and saw him. And thinking, "It would
not be fitting for me to announce him to my father-in-law," she moved off in such a
way as to call his attention to the elder. But the foolish, unconverted man, although he
saw the elder, made as if he did not see him, and with head bent down, he kept on eating.
"Pass on, reverend sir," said Visakha, when she perceived that her
father-in-law made no sign, notwithstanding he had seen the elder; "my father-in-law
is eating stale fare."
The treasurer, although he had borne with the talk of the naked ascetics, the moment
she said, "He is eating stale fare," removed his hand from his bowl, and
"Take away this rice porridge, and turn the girl out of the house! To think that
she should accuse me, and in a time of festivity, too, of eating anything unclean!"
But all the slaves and servants in the house belonged to Visakha. Who was there to
seize her by hand or foot? There was not one who dared so much as open his mouth.
"Father," said Visakha, after listening to him; "I'll not leave so
easily as you seem to think. I am not a common prostitute, picked up at some river
bathing-place; and daughters whose parents are still living are not turned out so easily.
Now my father has provided for this very case. When I was starting to come hither, he
summoned eight householders, and put me in their charge, saying, 'If any charge of sin be
made against my daughter, investigate it.' Have these men summoned, and establish my guilt
"She speaks well," said the treasurer, and had the eight householders
Said he: "This young girl, when I was seated, in a time of festivity, eating rice
porridge from a golden bowl, said I was eating what was unclean Find her guilty and turn
"Dear girl, is it so, as he says?"
"That is not as I say:-but when a certain elder on his begging-rounds came and
stood in the door-way, my father-in-law, who was eating sweet rice porridge, paid no
attention to him. Then I thought: 'My father-in-law is not acquiring any merit in this
existence, but is consuming old, stale merit.' So I said: 'Pass on, reverend sir; my
father-in-law is eating stale fare.' Now, what fault is there here of mine?"
"There is none. Our daughter speaks justly. Why are you angry with her?"
"Sirs, granted that this is no fault: but one night in the middle watch, she went
out behind the house, accompanied by her male and female slaves."
"Dear girl, is it so, as he says?"
"Good sirs, I went for no other reason but that I thought when a thoroughbred mare
was bringing forth in this very house, it would not do to sit still and make no sign. So I
had my slave-girls take torches, and went and caused the mare to receive the attentions
suitable for a time of foaling."
"Sir, our daughter does in your house work that is unfit even for slave-girls,
What fault can you discover here?"
"Sirs, granted that here also there is no fault. Her father, however, was
admonishing her at the time she was starting to come hither, and gave her ten admonitions
of a deeply hidden meaning; and I do not understand them. Let her tell me their meaning.
For instance, her father said, 'The in-door fire is not to be taken out of doors.' Is it
possible, pray, for us to get on with our neighbors, without ever sending fire to their
"Is it so, as he says, dear girl?"
"Good sirs, my father did not mean that by what he said; but this is what he
meant: 'Dear girl, if you notice any fault in your mother-in-law, or your father-in-law,
or your husband, do not tell of it outside in some one else's house. There is no worse
fire than this.'"
"Sirs, so be it: but her father said: 'Out-door fire is not to be brought within
doors.' Would it be possible, if our in-door fire were to go out, for us not to fetch fire
"Is it so, as he says, dear girl?"
"Good sirs, my father did not mean that by what he said; but this is what he
meant: 'If any of your neighbors, whether male or female, speak ill of your father-in-law,
or of your husband, do not bring their talk home, and repeat it saying. "So and so
has this or that to say of you." For there is no fire comparable to this fire.'"
Thus, in this point also she was guiltless. And as in this case, so also in the others;
and the following is their purport:
"When her father said to her: 'Give only to him who gives,' he meant, 'Give only
to those who give borrowed articles back again.'"
And "Give not to him who does not give," meant, "Give not to those who
do not give back again what they borrow."
"Give both to him who gives, and to him who does not give," meant, "When
your needy relatives and friends come to you, you should give to them, whether they are
able to repay you or not."
"Sit happily," meant, "When you see your mother-in-law, or your
father-in-law, or your husband, you should rise, and not keep your seat."
"Eat happily," meant, "You should not eat before your mother-in-law, or
your father-in-law, or your husband. You must eat after you have waited on them, and they
have been helped to everything they wish."
"Sleep happily," meant, "Do not ascend your couch to lie down to sleep
before your mother-in-law, or your father-in-law, or your husband; but when you have done
for them all the different services which should be done, you can afterwards yourself lie
down to sleep."
"Wait upon the fire," meant, "You should look upon your mother-in-law,
your father-in-law, and your husband, as if they were a flame of fire, or a royal
"Reverence the household divinities," meant, "You should look upon your
mother-in-law, your father-in-law, and your husband, as your divinities."
When thus the treasurer had heard the meaning of the ten admonitions, he was unable to
find any reply, and sat with downcast eyes. The householders then said to him,
"Treasurer, is there any other sin in our daughter?"
"Sirs, there is none."
"Then, if she is guiltless, why did you attempt without cause to turn her out of
"Good sirs," said Visakha, at this point in the discussion, "although at
first it was not fitting that I should leave at the command of my father-in-law, yet now
that you whom my father appointed to try charges which might be brought against me, have
found me guiltless, it is a good time to go."
So saying, she gave orders to her male and female slaves to get ready the carriages and
make the other necessary preparations.
"Dear girl, I spoke in ignorance; pardon me," said then the treasurer,
speaking half to the householders.
"Good sir, I do pardon you all there is to pardon. I am, however, daughter in a
family that has studied and has faith in the religion of The Buddha, and to see something
of the congregation of the priests is necessary to us. If I can be allowed to wait on the
congregation of the priests at my pleasure, I will stay."
"Dear girl, wait on your monks as much as you please," was the reply.
Visakha, accordingly, sent an invitation to The One Possessing the Ten Forces, and on
the next day received him at her house. And the naked monks, when they heard that The
Teacher had gone to the house of Migara the treasurer, went also, and sat down outside the
house encompassing it. Visakha, having given the water of donation, sent a message to her
"All the arrangements for the entertainment are ready. Let my father-in-law come
and wait on The One Possessing the Ten Forces."
But as he was about to go, the naked ascetics restrained him, saying,
"O householder, go not near the monk Gotama."
So he sent back word: "Let my daughter-in-law wait on him herself."
When she had waited on The Buddha and on the congregation of the priests that followed
him, and the meal was now at an end, she again sent a message:
"Let my father-in-law come and hear the sermon."
"If I were not to go now, it would not do at all," said then the treasurer;
for he was very desirous of hearing the Doctrine.
"Well, then," said the naked monks, when they saw he was bent on going,
"you may listen to the Doctrine of the monk Gotama, if you will sit outside of a
curtain." Then they went ahead of him, and drew a curtain around, and he went and sat
down outside of the curtain.
But The Teacher thought, "Sit outside of a curtain, if you will, or beyond a wall,
or beyond a mountain, or at the end of the world. I am The Buddha, and can make you hear
my voice." And marching as it were with a mighty Jambu trunk held aloft, and
showering down as it were showers of ambrosia, he began to teach the Doctrine in
Now when a Supreme Buddha teaches the Doctrine, those in front, and those behind, and
those beyond a hundred or a thousand worlds, and those, even, who inhabit the abode of the
Sublime Gods, exclaim: "The Teacher is looking at me; The Teacher is teaching the
Doctrine to me." To each one it seems as if The Teacher were beholding and addressing
him alone. The Buddhas, they say, resemble the moon: as the moon in the midst of the
heavens appears to every living being as if over his head, so The Buddhas appear to every
one as if standing in front of him. This gift is said to be their reward for liberality in
previous existences, when, for the benefit of others, they cut off their own garlanded
heads, gouged out their own eyes, tore out their own hearts, and gave away to be slaves
sons such as Jali, daughters such as Kanhajina, and wives such as Maddi.
And Migara the treasurer, as he sat outside the curtain, and turned over and over in
his mind the teaching of The Tathagata, became established in the thousandfold ornamented
fruit of conversion, and acquired an immovable and unquestioning faith in the three
refuges. Then, raising the curtain, he approached his daughter-in-law, and taking her
breast in his hand, he said: "From this day forth you are my mother," thus
giving her the position of mother. And henceforth she was known as "Migara's
mother"; and when, later on, she had a son, she named him Migara.
The great treasurer then let go his daughter-in-law's breast, and went and fell at the
feet of The Blessed One, and stroking them with his hands, and kissing them with his lips,
he three times proclaimed his own name, "Reverend Sir, I am Migara."
"Reverend Sir," continued he, "all this time have I been without knowing
that on you should one bestow alms to obtain great reward. But now I have learnt it,
thanks to my daughter-in-law, and am released from all danger of being reborn in a lower
state of existence. Truly, it was for my advantage and for my welfare that my
daughter-in-law came to my house." So saying, he pronounced the following stanza:
"Now have I learnt where rich reward Will surely follow every gift! Truly a happy
day for me, When first my daughter sought my home!"
Visakha invited The Teacher again for the next day on her own account, and on the day
after her mother-in-law also attained to the fruit of conversion. And henceforth that
house kept open doors for the religion of The Buddha.
Then thought the treasurer, "My daughter-in-law is a great benefactress to me; I
must make her a present. And, truly, her present parure is too heavy for every-day wear. I
will have a very light one made, which she can wear both by day and by night in all the
And he had made what is called a highly polished parure, worth a thousand pieces of
money: and when it was finished, he invited The Buddha, and the congregation of the
priests, and assiduously waited on them at breakfast. And causing Visakha to bathe herself
with sixteen pitcherfuls of perfumed water, he placed her in front of The Teacher, and
putting her parure upon her, he had her do obeisance. Then The Teacher, after giving
thanks for the repast, returned to the monastery.
And Visakha continued to give alms, and do other deeds of merit, and she received the
eight boons from The Teacher. And as the crescent of the moon waxes great in the sky, so
did she increase in sons and daughters. They say she had ten sons and ten daughters, and
of these each had ten sons and ten daughters, and of these also each had ten sons and ten
daughters. Thus the children and children's children which had sprung from her numbered
eight thousand and four hundred and twenty persons.
She lived to be a hundred and twenty years old, but there was not a single gray hair on
her head,-always she appeared as if about sixteen. When people saw her on her way to the
monastery, surrounded by her children and children's children, there were always those who
inquired: "Which of these is Visakha?" Those who saw her as she walked would
think: "I hope she will walk a little further; our lady looks well when she
walks." And those who was her stand, or sit, or lie, would think: "I hope she
will lie a little longer now; our lady looks well when she is lying down." Thus in
respect of the four postures, it could not be charged against her that there was any one
posture in which she did not look well.
Moreover, she was as strong as five elephants. And the king, hearing that Visakha was
currently reported to be as strong as five elephants, was desirous of testing her
strength; and one day, as she was on her way back from the monastery where she had been to
hear a sermon, he let loose an elephant against her. The elephant, lifting his trunk, came
on to meet Visakha. Of her five hundred attendant women, some fled away, while others
threw their arms about her. And when she asked what the matter was, they replied:
"They say the king is desirous of testing your iron strength, and has let loose an
elephant against you." When Visakha saw the elephant, she thought, "What is the
need of my running away? It is only a question how I shall take hold of him." And,
being afraid that if she seized him roughly it might kill him, she took hold of his trunk
with two fingers, and pressed him back. The elephant was unable either to resist or to
keep his feet, and fell back on his haunches in the royal court. Thereupon the crowd
shouted "Bravo!" and she and her attendants reached home in safety.
Now at that time Visakha, Migara's mother, lived at Savatthi, and had many children and
many children's children, and the children were free from disease, and the children's
children were free from disease, and she was considered to bring good luck. Among her
thousands of children and children's children not one had died. And when the inhabitants
of Savatthi had their festivals and holidays, Visakha was always the first to be invited,
and the first to be feasted.
Now on a certain day of merry-making, the populace were going in their fine clothes and
ornaments to the monastery to listen to the Doctrine. And Visakha, having come from a
place of entertainment, and wearing the great creeper parure, was likewise proceeding with
the populace to the monastery. There she took off her ornaments, and gave them to her
slave-girl. Concerning which it is said,
"Now at that time there was a merry-making at Savatthi; and the people in gorgeous
array went to the park. Visakha, also, Migara's mother, in gorgeous array went to the
monastery. Then Visakha, Migara's mother, took off her ornaments, and tying them up in a
bundle in her cloak, gave them to her slave-girl, saying, 'Here, take this bundle.'"
It would appear that she thought it not seemly to enter the monastery wearing such an
extremely costly and showy parure,- a decoration which, when put on, adorned her from head
to foot. Thus it was that, as she was proceeding to the monastery, she took it off, and
made of it a bundle, and gave it to a slave-girl, who had been born with the strength of
five elephants as the result of former good deeds, and hence was able to carry it. Thus
her mistress could say to her, "Dear girl, take this parure. I will put it on when I
return from The Teacher."
Having put on her highly polished parure, she drew near The Teacher, and listened to
the Doctrine. And at the close of the sermon she rose, did obeisance to The Blessed One,
and went forth from his presence. The slave-girl, however, forgot the parure. Now it was
the custom of Ananda the elder, when the assembly had listened to the Doctrine, and had
departed, to put away anything that had been forgotten. And so this day he noticed the
great creeper parure, and announced to The Teacher,
"Reverend Sir, Visakha has gone forgetting her parure."
"Lay it aside, Ananda."
The elder lifted it up, and hung it on the side of the staircase.
And Visakha, in company with her friend Suppiya, wandered about the monastery to see
what could be done for the in-coming, for the out-going, for the sick, and others. Now it
was the custom of the young priests and novices, when they saw the devout ladies bringing
clarified butter, honey, oil, and other medicaments, to draw near with basins of various
kinds. And on that day also they did so.
Thereupon Suppiya saw a certain sick priest, and asked him,
"Sir, of what do you stand in need?"
"Meat broth," was the reply.
"Very well, sir; I will send you some.
But as she failed on the next day to obtain any suitable meat, she made the preparation
with flesh from her own thigh; and afterwards by the favor of The Teacher her body was
When Visakha had attended to the sick and to the young priests, she issued forth from
the monastery. But before she had gone far, she stopped and said,
"Dear girl, bring me the parure; I will put it on."
Instantly the slave-girl remembered that she had forgotten it, and had left it behind.
And she said,
"Mistress, I forgot it."
"Go, then, and get it, and bring it hither. But if my master, Ananda the elder,
has taken it up and laid it away anywhere, then do not fetch it. It is a present to my
master." It appears she knew that the elder was in the habit of putting away
valuables which highborn personages had forgotten; and this was why she spoke as she did.
When the elder saw the slave-girl, he said to her,
"Why have you returned?"
"I went away forgetting my mistress' parure," said she.
"I have put it by the staircase," said the elder; "go and get it."
"My lord," said the slave-girl, "an article which has been touched by
your hand is not to be reclaimed by my mistress." And so she returned empty-handed.
"How was it, dear girl?" said Visakha. And she told her.
"Dear girl, never will I wear an article which my master has touched. I make him a
present of it. Nevertheless, it would be troublesome for my masters to take care of it. It
will sell it, and give them things which are more suitable. Go fetch it."
And the slave-girl went and fetched it.
Visakha did not put it on, but sent for some goldsmiths and had it appraised.
"It is worth ninety millions," said they; "and the workmanship is worth
a hundred thousand."
"Then put the parure in a wagon," said Visakha, "and sell it."
"There is no one who is able to take it at such a price, and a woman worthy to
wear such a parure is difficult to find. For in all the circuit of the earth only three
women have the great creeper parure: Visakha, the great female lay disciple; the wife of
Bandhula, the general of the Mallas; and Mallika, daughter of a treasurer of
So Visakha paid the price herself; and, putting ninety millions and a hundred thousand
into a cart, she took the amount to the monastery.
"Reverend Sir," said she, when she had made her obeisance to The Teacher,
"my master, Ananda the elder, has touched with his hand my parure, and from the time
he has touched it, it is impossible for me to wear it again. I have endeavored to sell it,
thinking that with the amount I should get for it, I would give things suitable for
priests. But when I saw there was no one else able to buy it, I made up the price myself,
and have now brought the money with me. Reverend Sir, which one of the four reliances
shall I give?"
"Visakha, a dwelling-place at the east gate for the congregation of the priests
would be fitting."
"The very thing, Reverend Sir!"
And Visakha, with a joyous mind, bought a site for ninety millions, and with another
ninety millions she began constructing a monastery.
Now one day, as The Teacher at dawn was gazing over the world, he perceived that a son,
Bhaddiya, had been born from heaven into the family of a treasurer of the city of
Bhaddiya, and was competent to attain to salvation. And after taking breakfast at the
house of Anathapindika, he directed his steps towards the north gate of the city. Now it
was the custom of The Teacher, if he took alms at the house of Visakha, to issue forth
from the city by the south gate and lodge at Jetavana monastery. If he took alms at the
house of Anathapindika, he would issue forth by the east gate, and lodge in Eastern Park;
but if The Blessed One was perceived at sunrise making his way to the north gate, then
people knew that he was setting out on his travels.
So when Visakha heard on that day that he had gone in the direction of the north gate,
she hastened to him, and making an obeisance, said, "Reverend Sir, are you desirous
of going traveling?"
"Reverend Sir, at this vast expense am I having a monastery built for you.
Reverend Sir, turn back."
"Visakha, this journey admits not of my turning back."
"Assuredly," thought Visakha, "The Blessed One has some special reason
in all this." Then she said, "Reverend Sir, in that case, before you go, command
some priest to stay behind who will know how the work should be done."
"Visakha, take the bowl of any one you wish."
Then Visakha, though fond of Ananda, thought of the magical power of the elder,
Moggallana the Great, and how swiftly the work would progress with him to assist, and took
The elder then looked at The Teacher.
"Moggallana," said The Teacher, "take five hundred priests in your train
and turn back."
And he did so: and by his supernatural power they would go a distance of fifty or sixty
leagues for logs and stones; and having secured logs and stones of tremendous size, they
would bring them home on the same day. And they who placed the logs and stones on the
carts were not exhausted, nor did the axles break. And in no long time they had erected a
two-story building on high foundations and approached by steps. The building contained a
thousand apartments,-five hundred apartments being in the lower story, and the same number
in the upper.
After traveling about for nine months, The Teacher came again to Savatthi; and in these
nine months Visakha had put up her building, and was now at work on the peak, which was
intended to hold the water-pots, and was finished in solid, beaten, red gold.
And Visakha, hearing that The Teacher was proceeding towards Jetavana monastery, went
to meet him; and, conducting him to her monastery, she exacted of him a promise:
"Reverend Sir, dwell here for four months with the congregation of the priests,
and I will have the building completed."
The Teacher consented; and thenceforth she gave alms to The Buddha, and to the
congregation of the priests in the monastery.
And it came to pass that a certain female friend of Visakha came to her with a piece of
stuff that was worth a thousand pieces of money.
"Dear friend," said she, "I want to replace some of the floor covering
in your pavilion, and spread this instead. Tell me a place in which to spread it."
"Dear friend, if I were to tell you there was no place left, you would think, 'She
does not want to let me have a place.' But look through the two floors of the pavilion and
the thousand apartments yourself, and find a place in which to spread it."
Then the other took the piece of stuff worth a thousand pieces of money, and went
through the building; but finding no stuff there of less value than hers, she was overcome
with grief; for she thought: "I shall have no share in the merit of this
building." And stopping still, she wept.
And Ananda the elder happened to see her, and said, "Why do you weep?" And
she told him the matter.
"Let not that trouble you," said the elder; "I will tell you a place in
which to spread it. Make a door-mat of it, and spread it between the place for washing the
feet and the staircase. The priests, after washing their feet, will wipe them upon the mat
before they enter the building: thus will your reward be great." This spot, it
appears, had been overlooked by Visakha.
For four months did Visakha give alms in her monastery to The Buddha and to the
congregation which followed him; and at the end of that time she presented the
congregation of the priests with stuff for robes, and even that received by the novices
was worth a thousand pieces of money. And of medicines, she gave the fill of every man's
bowl. Ninety millions were spent in this donation. Thus ninety millions went for the site
of the monastery, ninety for the construction of the monastery, and ninety for the
festival at the opening of the monastery, making two hundred and seventy millions in all
that were expended by her on the religion of The Buddha. No other woman in the world was
as liberal as this one who lived in the house of a heretic.
On the day the monastery was completed, when the shadows of eventide were lengthening,
she walked with her children and her children's children round and round the building,
delighted with the thought that her prayer of a former existence had now attained its
complete fruition. And with a sweet voice, in five stanzas, she breathed forth this solemn
"'O when shall I a mansion give, Plastered with mud and stuccoed o'er, A pleasing
monastery-gift?'O this my prayer is now fulfilled!
"'O when shall I give household goods, Benches and stools to sit upon, And
bolsters, pillows for the couch?'O this my prayer is now fulfilled!
"'O when shall I provisions give, The ticket-food so pure and good, Smothered in
broths of various meats?'O this my prayer is now fulfilled!
"'O when shall I give priestly robes, Garments of fine Benares cloth, And linen,
cotton goods as well?'O this my prayer is now fulfilled!
"'O when shall I give medicines, Fresh butter, butter clarified, And honey,
treacle, purest oil?'O this my prayer is now fulfilled!"
When the priests heard her, they brought word to The Teacher;
"Reverend Sir, in all this time we have never known Visakha to sing; but now,
surrounded by her children and her children's children, she walks singing round and round
the building. Pray, is her bile out of order? or has she become mad?"
"Priests," said The Teacher, "my daughter is not singing; but the desire
of her heart having come to pass, in her delight she breathes forth a solemn
"But when was it, Reverend Sir, she made the prayer?"
"Priests, will you listen?"
"Reverend Sir, we will."
Whereupon he related a tale of ancient times
"Priests, a hundred thousand cycles ago, a Buddha was born into the world by the
name of Padumuttara. His term of life was a hundred thousand years; his retinue of those
in whom depravity had become extinct was a hundred thousand; his city was Hamsavati; his
father, king Sunanda; and his mother, queen Sujata. The chief benefactress of this
Teacher, a lay devotee, had obtained the eight boons and held the position of mother, and
used to provide him with the four reliances. Every evening and morning she used to wait on
him at the monastery, and a certain female friend constantly accompanied her.
"When this friend saw on what intimate terms she conversed with The Teacher, and
how much she was beloved, she began to consider: 'What do people do to be beloved by The
Buddhas?' And she said to The Teacher:
"'Reverend Sir, what is this woman to you?'
"'She is the chief of my benefactresses.'
"'Reverend Sir, by what means does one thus become chief benefactress?'
"'By praying for a hundred thousand world-cycles to become one.'
"'Reverend Sir, could I become one, if I now made my prayer?'
"'Assuredly, you could.'
"'In that case, Reverend Sir, come with your hundred thousand priests and take
alms of me for seven days.'
"The Teacher consented; and for seven days she gave alms of food, and on the last
day stuff for robes. Then she did obeisance to The Teacher, and, falling at his feet, made
"'Reverend Sir, I do not pray for rule among the gods, or any other such reward as
the fruit of this alms-giving; but that from some Buddha like yourself I may obtain the
eight boons, and have the position of mother, and be chief of those able to provide the
"The Teacher looked into the future for a hundred thousand cycles to see if her
prayer would be fulfilled, and said:
"'At the end of a hundred thousand cycles a Buddha named Gotama shall arise, and
you shall be a female lay disciple of his, and have the name Visakha. For him you shall
obtain the eight boons, and obtain the position of mother, and become chief of the
benefactresses who shall provide the four reliances.'
"... and after a life of meritorious deeds, she was reborn in the world of the
gods. And continuing to be reborn in the world of the gods and the world of men, she was
born in the time of The Supreme Buddha Kassapa as the youngest of the seven daughters of
Kiki, king of Benares. In this existence she was called Servant-of-the-Congregation; and
having married, and with her sisters for a long time given alms and done other meritorious
deeds, she fell at the feet of The Supreme Buddha Kassapa, and prayed: 'At a future time
may I hold the position of mother to a Buddha such as you, and become chief of the female
givers of the four reliances.' Now, after further rebirths in the world of the gods and
the world of men, she has been born in this existence as the daughter of Dhananjaya the
treasurer, the son of Mendaka the treasurer, and has done many meritorious deeds for my
religion. Thus it is, O priests, that I say my daughter is not singing, but that, at the
realization of her prayer, she breathes forth a solemn utterance."
And The Teacher continued his instruction, and said,
"Priests, just as a skilful garland-maker, if he obtain a large heap of various
kinds of flowers, will go on and on making all manner of garlands, even so does the mind
of Visakha incline to do all manner of noble deeds." So saying, he pronounced this
"As flowers in rich profusion piled Will many a garland furnish forth; So all the
years of mortal man Should fruitful be in all good works."