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Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas


[245] At the top, Beggars, of those of my Female Beggars who have attained Great Intuitive Powers (mahabhinnappattanam) is Bhadda Kaccana.

Bhadda Kaccana

(DPPN: Rahulamata — The name, generally given in the texts, of Rāhula's mother and Gotama's wife. She is also called Bhaddakacca, and, in later texts, Yasodhara, Bimbadevi and, probably, Bimbasundari. The Northern texts seem to favor the name of Yasodhara, but they call her the daughter of Dandapani. It is probable that the name of Gotama's wife was Bimba, and that Bhaddakacca, Subhaddaka, Yosadhara and the others, were descriptive epithets applied to her, which later became regarded as additional names. It is also possible that in Gotama's court there was a Yasodhara, daughter of Dandapani, and that there was a later confusion of names. The Commentarial explanation, that she was called Bhaddakaccana because her body was the color of burnished gold, is probably correct. To suggest that the name bears any reference to the Kaccanagotta seems to be wrong, because the Kaccana was a brahmin gotta and the Sakyans were not brahmins. [Interesting side note: In a dispute between himself and some brahmins about which was the higher cast, the Nobles or the Brahmins, Gotama won the dispute by pointing to the fact that while it was permissible for a Brahmin to merry a Brahmin or a Noble and still be accepted within the Brahmin cast, it was not permitted for a Noble to marry outside the Nobility and still be accepted within the cast of Nobles.]

Rahulamata was born on the same day as the Bodhisatta. She married him (Gotama) at the age of sixteen, and was placed at the head of forty thousand women, given to Gotama by the Sakyans, after he had proved his manly prowess to their satisfaction. Gotama left the household life on the day of the birth of his son Rāhula. It is said that just before he left home he took a last look at his wife from the door of her room, not daring to go nearer, lest he should awake her [and lose his will to depart]. When the Buddha paid his first visit to Kapilavatthu after the Elightenment, and on the second day of that visit, he begged in the street for alms. This news spread, and Rahulamata looked out of her window to see if it were true. She saw the Buddha, and was so struck by the glory of his personality that she uttered eight verses in its praise. These verses have been handed down under the name of Narasihagatha; on that day, after the Buddha had finished his meal in the palace, which he took at the invitation of Suddhodana, all the ladies of the court, with the exception of Rahulamata, went to pay him obeisance. She refused to go, saying that if she had any virtue in her the Buddha would come to her. The Buddha went to her with his two chief Disciples and gave orders that she should be allowed to greet him as she wished. She fell at his feet, and clasping them with her hands, put her head on them. Suddhodana related to the Buddha how, from the time he had left home, Rahulamata had herself abandoned all luxury and had lived in the same manner as she had heard that the Buddha lived — wearing yellow robes, eating only once a day, etc. And the Buddha then related the Candakinnara Jataka to show how, in the past, too, her loyalty had been supreme.

On the seventh day of the Buddha's visit, when he left the palace at the end of his meal, Rahulamata sent Rāhula to him saying "Thatis your father, go and ask him for your inheritance." Rāhula followed the Buddha, and, at the Buddha's request, was ordained by Sariputta.

Later, when the Buddha allowed women to join the Order, Rahulamata became a nun under Mahapajapati Gotami.

Buddhaghosa identifies Rahulamata with Bhaddakaccana who, in the Anguttara Nikaya, is mentioned as chief among nuns in the possession of supernormal powers (mahabhinnappattanam). She was one of the four disciples of the Buddha who possessed such attainment, the others being Sariputta, Moggallāna and Bakkula.

In this account Bhaddakaccana is mentioned as the daughter of the Sakyan SuppaBuddha and his wife Amita. She joined the Order under Pajapati Gotami in the company of Janapadakalyani (Nanda), and in the Order she was known as Bhaddakaccana Theri. Later, she developed insight and became an arahant. She could, with one effort, recall one asankheyya [incalculable period] and one hundred thousand kappas [evolutions and devolution's of the world system].

In the Theri Apadana an account is found of a Theri, Yasodhara by name, who is evidently to be identified with Rahulamata, because she speaks of herself as the Buddha's pajapati [wife] before he left the household and says that she was the chief of ninety thousand women [must be 50,000 were hers — I take these figures to be rounded numbers, but roughly accurate. The Buddha on several occasions describes the utter luxury of his former life, and other descriptions of what was considered luxury in those days boggles the mind.]