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Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas


[241] At the top, Beggars, of those of my Female Beggars who has firmly established energetic effort (araddhaviriyanam) is Sona.


(DPPN: A Theri. She was declared foremost among nuns for capacity of effort (araddhaviriyanam). She belonged to the family of a clansman of Savatthi, and because, after marriage, she had ten sons and daughters, she came to be called Bahuputtika (many-child-ed). When her husband renounced the world, she distributed her wealth among her children, keeping nothing for herself.

Her children soon ceased to show her any respect, and she entered the Order in her old age. She waited on the nuns and studied most of the night. Soon her strenuous energy became known to the Buddha, and he, sending forth a ray of glory, spoke to her. Then she attained arahantship.

The Anguttara Commentary says that after she became an arahant she wished her colleagues to know this because they had been in the habit of constantly finding fault with her for various things, and she did not wish them to continue doing so and thereby commit a sin. She therefore filled a vessel with water, which she heated by her iddhi-power, using no fire. When the nuns came to look for water she told them that if they wanted warm water they cold have it from the vessel. They found the water hot, and understood. Then they begged her forgiveness.

From the Psalms:

Ten sons and daughters did I bear within
This heap of visible decay. Then weak
And old I drew near to a Bhikkuni
She taught to me the Norm, wherein I learnt
The factors, organs, bases of this self,
Impermanent compound. Hearing her words,
And cutting off my hair, I left the world.
Then as I grappled with the threefold course,
Clear shone for me the Eye Celestial.
I know the 'how' and 'when' I came to birth
Down the long past, and where it was I lived.
I cultivate the signless, and my mind
In uttermost composure concentrate.
Mine is the ecstasy of freedom won
As Path merges in Fruit, and Fruit in Path.
Holding to naught, I in Nibbana live.
This five-grouped being have I understood.
Cut from its root, all onward growth is stayed.
I too am stayed, victor on basis sure,
Immovable. Rebirth comes never more.