Kisa Gotami

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Kisa Gotami was the wife of a wealthy man of Savatthi. Her story is one of the more famous ones in Buddhism. After losing her only child, Kisa Gotami became desperate and asked if anyone can help her. Her sorrow was so great that many thought she had already lost her mind. An old man told her to meet Buddha. Buddha told her that before he could bring the child back to life, she should find white mustard seeds from a family where no one had died. She desperately went from house to house, but to her disappointment, she could not find a house that had not suffered the death of a family member. Finally the realization struck her that there is no house free from mortality. She returned to the Buddha, who comforted her and preached to her the truth. She was awakened and entered the first stage of Arhatship. Eventually, she became an Arhat.

The following Dhammapada verse[1] (in Pali and English) is associated with her story:

In the "Gotami Sutta" (SN 5.3), Bhikkhuni Kisa Gotami declares:

I've gotten past the killing of [my] sons,
have made that the end
to [my search for] men.
I don't grieve,
I don't weep....
It's everywhere destroyed — delight.
The mass of darkness is shattered.
Having defeated the army of death,
free of fermentations I dwell.[2]

The story is the source of the popular aphorism: "The living are few, but the dead are many".

A literary tradition has also evolved round the story of Kisa Gotami, much of it in oral form and in local plays in much of Asia. In the Therigatha (or "Verses of the Elder Nuns") from the Pali Canon, it is reported the original version of the Kisa's story, later taken back in a number of popularized alternative (yet all similar) versions.[3]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Dhammapada, Ch. VIII, verse 114. See, for instance, Buddharakkhita (1996).[1]
  2. ^ Thanissaro (1998).
  3. ^ Richard Winter, Cambridge Buddhist Centre

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]