Great ladies in Buddhism | Daily News


Great ladies in Buddhism

Kundalakesi was a pretty dame who hailed from an aristocratic high-class family. Her parents tried to give her in marriage to a suitable young man. But Kundalakesi refused all such proposals. She was proud, arrogant and disobedient to her parents. She was a character with unusual energy and intelligence.

One day while she was peeing through the window of their upstairs mansion, she observed a graceful youth being taken for execution. He happened to be a notorious bandit caught by the king's soldiers. She, on first sight of this young man, sympathized him and fell in love with him. She pestered and begged her parents to get this man released from his impending execution. She wanted to marry him.

Strategic means

The parents were overpowered by her atrocious demand and robust desire. So they bribed the king's executioners and saved this bandit. She married him and was happy to live with him. As time elapsed the bandit could not fit into the elite life pattern.

He wanted to get rid of Kundalakesi by some strategic means. He said that he wished to make an offering (puja) to the god for saving his life. He insisted that she should accompany him wearing her exquisite dress and gold ornaments to the steep rock (Chora Pabbata) for making the offering. She obeyed.

While they were on the rock the bandit declared his intention of robbing and killing her. Kundalakesi was very intelligent and begged of him to allow her to worship her husband before death. So saying she made three rounds worshipping him with folded hands. In the final round, she pushed the bandit from the steep rock and allowed him to die.

She threw away her ornaments and did not go back to her parents. After this harrowing incident, she became disgusted with family life and became a wandering mendicant. She became a competent religious communicator. Later she entered the Buddhist Bhikkhuni Order following a defeat in an argument with Venerable Sariputta Thera. Patachara too resembled Kundalakesi in her beauty, rich privileged family and social status and freedom of behaviour and thought. The only difference was that Patachara had a brother unlike Kundalakesi, who happened to be the only child of her wealthy parents. Like Kundalakesi she too disobeyed her parents and disliked her being given in marriage to a privileged youth. Patachara was deeply in love with the servant who was working in their mansion.

Great love

She eloped with him, leaving her parents and her fortune. Patachara and her husband lived bound in great love to each other in a far off rural land in a hut. Her husband worked as a labourer while she engaged in household activities.

Their family life was uneventful and their mutual love was unprecedented. In the meantime Patachara became pregnant and she developed a desire to see her parents. Her husband declined to visit. With her second pregnancy, she again developed her wish to see her parents.

This time her husband agreed without making a fuss and they started the journey together with her first son. It was a season of heavy rain and Patachara developed labour paints on the way and she was about to deliver a new baby.

Her husband went in search of some creepers to construct a temporary shed for Patachara's confinement. Unfortunately, he was attacked by a venomous snake. In the meantime, she delivered a second son and Patachara went in search of her beloved husband.

When she found him dead, she felt so sorry, but still, she decided to go on her way to see her parents.

It was still raining and the river Achiravathie was overflowing. She had to cross this river to reach Savathnuvera where her parents and her brother lived. Crossing the river was a huge task. She first carried her newborn son across the river and placed him on the opposite bank and was returning to accompany the first son who was waiting for her on the other bank.


But all of a sudden a hawk snatched the newborn son and flew off despite her wailings and clapping to drive it away. The first son mistook her cries and clapping as signals for him to jump into the water to accompany her. So this child jumped into the river and he was carried away by the water current.

Having lost her beloved husband and two children, Patachara was in a state of emotional shock and despair. She still moved on towards Savathnuvera almost naked in physical form and almost mad with unbearable sorrow, when she met a man on the way.

This person informed her that her parents and her brother. He further showed her the columns of smoke rising from their funeral pyre at a distance. Patachara became quite insane but continued to move on towards Savathnuvera. On the way she was being scolded and stoned by some ruffians considering her to be a madwoman.

She was fortunate to reach Veluvanaramaya where the Buddha was preaching to a congregation of devotees. One devout Buddhist offered her a shovel to cover her naked body.

The Buddha comforted her with sound advice and brought her back to proper senses. She opted to become a Buddhist nun (Bhikkhuni) and entered the Order. Patachara became a full disciplined Bhikkhuni. Later she was appointed as the head of the Bhikkhunis and she attained arahanthood.

Heretic connection

Sundari and Cinci Manavija were notorious female ascetics (paribrajikas) who levelled serious charges of misconduct against the Buddha. They were instigated by Buddha's rival religious leaders – heretics. Both these women were proud because they believed in the high social connections with the heretics.

Sundari was a pretty young female ascetic wearing white clothes as she belonged to the paribrajika sect. She used to frequently visit at odd times to Jetavanaramaya where the Buddha and the monks including Venerable Ananda Thera were residing. When the devotees asked why she used to frequent this monastery she used to smile coyly and given suspicious responses. Sometimes she was seen nursing the flower beds and sometimes walking around the Buddha's sleeping chamber (ganda kutiya).

After about a fortnight she was reported to be missing. King Kosol ordered an inquest and her dead body was recovered being buried near the Jetavanaramaya pond. The heretics began to spread rumours and levelled charges of murder against the Buddha and the monks while displaying her corpse to the public. Venerable Ananda Thera suggested that they should leave Jeetavanaramaya to evade these charges. But the Buddha declared that He and his monks were innocent of this crime and the truth would emerge within a week.

In the meantime, King Kosol continued his search for the truth and found that the heretics (tirtakas) have bribed some ruffians to murder Sundari and bury her at Jetavanaramaya premises.

Cina was a poor young woman whose parents were unknown but supposed to have been illegitimately born because of the Jains (niganthas). She happened to be a cheap prostitute. She was been bribed by the Jains to insult the Buddha. She was confident of her high relationship with the Jains. 

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