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Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas


[243] At the top, Beggars, of those of my Female Beggars who has speedy intuitive powers (khippabhinnanam) is Bhadda Kundalakesa.

Bhadda Kundalakesa

(DPPN: She was foremost among nuns, of swift intuition, and was born in the family of a treasurer of Rajagaha. On the same day, a son was born to the king's chaplain under a constellation favorable to highwaymen, and was therefore called Sattuka. One day, through her lattice, Bhadda saw Sattuka being led by the city guard to execution on a charge of robbery. She fell at once in love with him and refused to live without him. Her father, out of his love for her, bribed the guard to release Sattuka, let him be bathed in perfumed water, and brought him home, where Bhadda, decked in jewels, waited upon him. Very soon, Sattuka began to covet her jewels and told her that he had made a vow to the deity of the Robbers' Cliff that, should he escape, he would bring him an offering. She trusted him and, making ready an offering, went with him arrayed in all her ornaments. On arriving at the top of the cliff, he told her of his purpose, and she, all undaunted, begged of him to let her embrace him on all sides. He agreed to this, and then, making as if to embrace him from the back, she pushed him over the cliff. The deity of the mountain praised her presence of mind saying that men were not in all cases wiser than women.

[The Deity of the Mountain:

Not in every case is Man the wiser ever
Woman, too, when swift to reckon, may ever prove as clever
Not in every case is Man the wiser reckoned
Woman, too, we'd reckon clever, if'n ever'd think a second.

--MO, vas him dar?]

Unwilling to return home after what had happened, she joined the Order of the white-robed Niganthas. As she wished to practice extreme austerities, they dragged out her hair with a palmyra comb. Her hair grew again in close curls, and so they called her Kundalakesa [Curlylocks]. Dissatisfied with the teaching of the Niganthas, she left them, and going to various teachers, became very proficient in discussion and eager for debate. She would enter a village and, making a heap of sand at the gate, set up the branch of a rose-apple saying, "Whoever wishes to enter into discussion with me, let him trample on this bough." [We have examples where a stick and a broom were similarly used.] One day, Sariputta, seeing the bough outside Savatthi, [inquired as to it's purpose and] ordered some children to trample on it. Bhadda then went to Jetavana accompanied by a large crowd whom she had invited to be present at the discussion. Sariputta suggested that Bhadda should first ask him questions; to all of these he replied until she fell silent. It was then his turn, and he asked "One ... what is that?" [Eka Nama Kim? — Who can answer? — The Psalms gives a long footnote attempting to understand how the question was not answered with reference to the Vedas: "In the beginning there was one only ... .He is one, he becomes three ... all things become one in prajna ... etc." hearing the question as "What is The One?", a Christian interpretation of the Pali. I suggest that what is heard here, as well as the surface question "One Name-a What-um?" is: HereShit KnowMake What-um? "What is the #1 thing here known as?" Or "Name that which is First and Foremost." If we remember that these are beggars, not Monks, "#1" is always Food — It is the first thing any baby mammal seeks out. Offering food is the first thing one does for a guest. It is the only thing on the mind of a hungry man. It is the First Lesson of Life. All Beings Live On On Food. Etc. — It becomes a Buddhist path to Nibbana as a consequence of its nature as a basic fundamental universal when seen in it's broadest definition and to it's deepest roots and is let go. All that comes after. What Sariputta is demonstrating is not that Curly did not know the Buddhist Doctrine, but that she was essentially still far removed from the most basic aspects of real life. — mo ] She, unable to answer, asked him to be her teacher. But Sariputta sent her to the Buddha, who preached to her that it were better to know one single stanza bringing calm and peace then one thousand verses bringing no profit. At the end of this sermon, Bhadda attained arahantship, and the Buddha himself ordained her.

Here is her stanza from the Psalms:

Hairless, dirt-laden and half-clad — so fared
I formerly, deeming that harmless things
Held harm, nor was I 'ware of harm
In many things wherein, in sooth, harm lay.
Then forth I went from siesta in the shade
Up to the Vulture's Peak, and there I saw
The Buddha, the Immaculate, begirt
And followed by the Bhikkhu-company.
Low on my knees I worshipped, with both hands
Adoring. 'Come, Bhadda' the Master said!
Thereby to me was ordination given.
Lo! Fifty years have I a pilgrim been,
In Anga, Magadha and in Vajji,
In Kasi and the land of Kosala,
Naught owing, living on the people's alms.
And great the merit by that layman gained,
Sagacious man, who gave Bhadda a robe --
Bhadda who now (captive once more to gear)
Is wholly free from bondage of the mind.