Patacara

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Bhikkhuni Patacara
040 Bhikkhuni Patacara, Shwezigon, Bagan.jpg
Tales of Bhikkhuni Patacara Theri, Shwezigon, Bagan, Myanmar.
Personal
Born 6th century BCE
Savatthi, Kosala Kingdom, India
Religious career
Teacher Gautama Buddha

Patacara was a notable female figure in Buddhism, described in the Pali Canon. Among the female disciples of Gautama Buddha, she was the foremost exponent of the Vinaya, the rules of monastic discipline. She lived during the 6th century BCE in what is now Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in India.

Early life[edit]

Patacara was described as the beautiful daughter of a very wealthy merchant of Savatthi, in the Kosala Kingdom. Her previous name was Roopwati, the most beautiful girl of the whole town. Her over-protective parents used to love her dearly and provide her every luxurious things. She also had a younger brother named Bharadwaj. Although, She was unhappy internally because of loneliness and no freedom to get out of the palace. She then gradually falls in a deep love and gets physically attracted with one of her parent's servants Amarshanath, a young, good-looking and innocent boy, who had a lower social status. Though Amarsh had no feelings of attraction with her. Once they go to the remote area of a forest to visit after parent's permission, where they have an intimate intercourse, after she wishes for. At the same time, her parents arrange a rich and high-classed prince Revant for her marriage, while she gets pregnant with Amarsh's child. But then she decides to elope secretly with her love Amarsh, while Amarsh denies to betray his owners. She then forcefully and emotionally requests him to escape from there, before her marriage happens or everyone knows about her pregnancy, before marriage. Then, Both Amarsh and Roopwati secretly elopes from the palace with some money and ornaments, and reaches to the village of remote area, against the parent's wish and permission. Then they settles down to the hut of poor farmers. And they lead a poor life-style of farmers to earn bread, without any luxury, but love each other very much. While the condition of her parents and her family gets worst, after they gradually learn about her and Amarsh's relation and long-time disappearance.

Childbirth[edit]

While in pregnancy, Patacara begged her husband to take her to her parents' house to give birth there, as was the tradition. She justified this by saying that parents always have a love for their child, no matter what has happened. Patacara's husband refused, stating that her parents would surely torture or imprison him. Realizing that he would not accompany her, she decided to return unilaterally. When the husband found her gone, he followed her and tried to persuade her to return, without success. Before they could reach Savatthi, a baby son was born. As there was no more reason to go to Savatthi, they turned back and resumed their life in the village.

Patacara later became pregnant again. Again she requested her husband to take her home to her parents and again unilaterally took matters into her own hands and began the journey, taking her son with her. Her husband followed and was again unable to persuade her to turn back. An unseasonally heavy storm hit, with much thunder, lightning and rain. Just then her birth-pains started, and she asked her husband to construct some shelter. While chopping some saplings, a poisonous snake bit him and he died instantly. Meanwhile, Patacara gave birth to a second son. The next morning, she found her husband lying dead, his body rigid. Distraught, she blamed herself for his death.

Loss of family[edit]

She continued on her journey to Savatthi, but when she came to the river Aciravati, it was swollen due to heavy rain. Unable to wade across with both children, she left the older child on the shore and carried the baby across to the other shore, before returning to take the first son. When she was midway through her return, a vulture swooped on the baby and flew off. Hearing his mother's screaming, the elder son believed Patacara was calling him and entered the water. He was swept off by the strong current. Having lost her family, she continued towards the city, but was informed that her parents and brother had been killed after their house collapsed during the storm. Devastated and depressed, Patacara goes to insanity and then she crazily starts to howl and undress herself. The people used to throw the stones at her, named her crazy women and tortured her, while no body recognized her who she was previously. It made her more aggressive and insane day-by-day.

Buddhist life[edit]

At that time the Buddha was staying at the Jetavana, Anathapindika's monastery. Patacara, after running through Savatthi naked and disconsolate, prostrated at the feet of the Buddha, describing her family tragedies. The Buddha explained this using Buddhist doctrines, and Patacara immediately understood the nature of impermanence. She thus became a sotapanna, the first stage of arahanthood, which she later achieved. The Buddha said that she was the foremost Keeper of the Vinaya amongst the Nuns, and thus the female counterpart of the monk Upali. Her interest in the "Rules of Conduct" of the monastic life was attributed to her reflections on her former indulgences.

Adaptions[edit]

  • The Nepali novel called Patachari, based on Patacara's whole life, was published on 2069, in Nepal, which is written by Nepali author Ashokman Shin, which received the positive reviews.
  • The Newari film "Patachara" was released in 2010, in Nepal, the story based on the life of Patacara, starring nepali stars Karma and Melina Manandhar.
  • There are other some films, based on the story of Patacara in other languages.

References[edit]

Hecker, Hellmuth (2006-09-23). "Buddhist Women at the Time of The Buddha". Buddhist Publication Society. Retrieved 2007-03-30.