Dhammapada Chapter 8 Verse 100-115 (The thousands)
Verse 100 (One pacifying word is noble)
Sahassam api ce vācā, anatthapadasaṃhitā Ekaṃ atthapadaṃ seyyo, yaṃ sutvā upasammati
A single beneficial word which upon hearing one becomes tranquil is much better than a thousand sayings comprising of useless words.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 100 : TambadathikaWhile residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 100 with reference to Tambadathika, the executioner of thieves.
Tambadathika served the king as an executioner of thieves for 55 years; he had just retired from that post. One day, after preparing rice gruel at his house, he went to the river for a bath and intended to eat rice gruel on his return. As he was about to take the rice gruel, Venerable Sariputta, who had just arisen from sustained absorption in Concentration (jhana samapatti), stood at his door for alms-food. Seeing the thera, Tambadathika thought to himself, "Throughout my life, I have been executing thieves; now I should offer this food to the thera to make merits." So, he invited Venerable Sariputta to come in and respectfully offered the rice gruel.
After the meal, the thera taught him the Dhamma, but Tambadathika could not concentrate because he was so agitated of his life as an executioner. When the thera knew this, he decided to "trick" Tambadathika tactfully whether he killed the thieves because he wished to kill them or because he was ordered to do so. Tambadathika answered that he was ordered to kill them by the king and that he had no wish to kill. Then the thera asked, "If that is so, would you be guilty or not ?" Tambadathika then concluded that, as he was not responsible for the evil deeds, he was not guilty. He calmed down and requested the thera to continue his exposition of the dhamma.
As he listened to the Dhamma with proper attention, he came very close to attaining Sotapatti Magga (first stage of enlightenment) and reached as far as vipassana insight After the discourse, Tambadathika accompanied Thera Sariputta for some distance and then returned home. On his way home a cow (actually a demon in the guise of a cow) gored him to death.
When the Buddha came to the congregation of the bhikkhus in the evening, they informed him about the death of Tambadathika. When asked where Tambadathika was reborn, the Buddha told them that although Tambadathika had committed evil deeds throughout his life, because he comprehended the Dhamma after hearing it from Thera Sariputta and had already attained vipassana insight before he died, he was reborn in the Tusita deva world. The bhikkhus wondered how such an evil-doer could have such great benefit after listening to the Dhamma just once. To them the Buddha said that the length of a discourse is of no consequence, for one single word of sense can produce much benefit. In other words, a single meaningful beneficial word is better than a thousand senseless meaningless words.
Verse 101 (Better than a thousand useless verses)
Sahassam api ce gāthā, anatthapadasaṃhitā Ekaṃ gāthāpadaṃ seyyo, yaṃ sutvā upasammati A meaningful one line verse which makes one tranquil upon hearing is better than a thousand meaningless verses collected together.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 102: Bahiyadaruciriya
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 101 with reference to Bahiyadaruciriya.
A group of merchants went out to sea in a boat but their boat was wrecked at sea and only one of them survived. The only survivor held onto a plank and eventually came to land at the port of Supparaka. As he was naked, he tied the plank to his body, got hold of a bowl, and sat in a place where people could see him. Passers-by gave him rice and gruel; some thought he was an arahant and talked in praise of him. Some brought clothes for him to wear but he refused, fearing that by wearing clothes, people would give less to him.
As some said that he was an arahant, he mistakenly came to think that he really was one. Thus, because he was a man of wrong views who wears a piece of wood as his clothing thus he came to be known as Bahiyadaruciriya.
At about this time, Mahabrahma, who had been his friend in one of his previous lives, saw him going astray and felt that it was his duty to put Bahiya on the right path. So, Mahabrahma came to him in the night and said to him "Bahiya, you are not an arahant yet, and you do not have the qualities that make one an arahant." Bahiya looked up at Mahabrahma and said, "Yes, I must admit that I am not an arahant, as you have said. I now realize that I have done a great wrong. But is there anyone else in this world now who is an arahant?" Mahabrahma then told him that there lived in Savatthi Gotama Buddha, an arahant, who was perfectly self-enlightened.
Bahiya, realizing the enormity of his guilt, felt very much distressed and ran all the way to Savatthi looking for the Buddha. Mahabrahma helped him by his supernormal power, so that the whole stretch of one hundred and twenty yojanas was covered in one night. Bahiya found the Buddha going on an alms-round with other bhikkhus and respectfully followed him. He pleaded with the Buddha to teach him the Dhamma, but the Buddha replied that since they were on an alms-round it was not yet the time for a religious discourse. And for a second time again, Bahiya pleaded, "Venerable Sir, one cannot know the danger to your life or to my life,we could die anytime and i will miss out on the teaching so please talk to me about the Dhamma."
The Buddha knew that Bahiya had made a long journey there in one night, and also that he was overwhelmed with joy at seeing the Buddha. That was why the Buddha did not want to talk about the Dhamma immediately but wanted him to calm down first so that he will then be able to take in the Dhamma properly. Still, Bahiya persistently pleaded for the third time.
So while standing on the road, the Buddha said to Bahiya, "Bahiya, when you see an object, be conscious of just the visible object; when you hear a sound, be conscious of just the sound; when you smell or taste or touch something, be conscious of just the smell, the taste or the touch; and when you think of anything, be conscious of just the mind-object."
After hearing the above discourse, Bahiya attained arahantship and he asked permission from the Buddha to join the Order. The Buddha told him to get the robes, the bowl and other requisites of a bhikkhu. On his way to get them, he was gored to death by a cow which was, in fact, an ogress in the likeness of a cow.
When the Buddha and the other bhikkhus came out after having had their meal, they found Bahiya lying dead on a rubbish heap. As instructed by the Buddha, the bhikkhus cremated the body of Bahiya and had his bones enshrined in a stupa.
Back at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha told the bhikkhus that Bahiya had realized Nibbana. He also told them that as far as speed was concerned in attaining Magga Insight (abhinna), Bahiya was the fastest, the best (Etadaggam). The bhikkhus were puzzled by the statement made by the Buddha and they asked him why and when Bahiya became an arahant.
To this, the Buddha replied, "Bahiya attained arahatship while he listened to my instructions given to him on the road when we were on the alms-round." The bhikkhus wondered how one could attain arahantship after listening to just a few sentences of the Dhamma. So, the Buddha told them that the number of words or the length of a speech did not matter if it was beneficial to someone.
In other words, a meaningful beneficial verse is of better advantage than a single useless verse.
Verse 102-103 (Self conquest is the best victory)
102 Yo ca gāthāsataṃ bhāse, anatthapadasaṃhitā Ekaṃ dhammapadaṃ seyyo, yaṃ sutvā upasammati. 103 Yo sahassaṃ sahassena, saṅgāme mānuse jine Ekañca jeyya attānaṃ, sa ve saṅgāmajuttamo
Better than the recitation of a 100 verses that are senseless and unconnected with the realization of Nibbana, is the recitation of a single verse of the Teaching, if on hearing it one is calmed. A man may conquer a million men in battle, but one who conquers himself is the greatest of conquerors.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 102-103 : Theri Kundalakesi
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses 102 and 103 with reference to Theri Kundalakesi.
Kundalakesi was the daughter of a rich man from Rajagaha. One day, she happened to see a thief being led out to be killed and she immediately fell in love with him. Her parents had to pay for the freedom of the thief, and they married her off to him. Although she loved her husband very dearly, her husband being a thief, was only attracted to her property and her jewels.
One day, he coaxed her to put on all her jewelry and led her to a mountain saying that he wanted to make some offerings to the guardian spirit of the mountain because that guardian spirit had saved his life when he was about to be killed. Kundalakesi went along with her husband, but when they reached their destination, the thief revealed that he intended to kill her and take her jewels. She pleaded with him to take her jewels, but to spare her life but it was of no avail.
She realized that if she did not get rid of her husband, there would be no escape for her. She felt she must be cautious so she said wanted to hug him for one last time. Pretending to embrace him one last time, she pushed him off the cliff.
After this, she had no desire to return home. She left all her jewelry hanging on a tree, and went on her way, without any idea where she was going. She happened to come to a place of some Paribbajikas(female wandering ascetics) and she herself became a Paribbajikas. The Paribbajikas taught her all their one thousand problems in sophistry; being intelligent she mastered all of them within a short time. Then her teachers told her to go out into the world and if she should find somebody who could answer all her questions, to become a pupil to him.
Kundalakesi went throughout the length and breadth of Jambudipa, openly challenging everyone else to compete with her. So she came to be known as "Jambukaparibbajika."
On one occasion, she came to Savatthi. Before entering the city for alms-food she made a mound of sand and stuck a branch of eugenia on it, her usual sign of invitation to all others to take up her challenge. Venerable Sariputta took up her challenge. Kundalakesi asked him a thousand questions and Thera Sariputta answered them all.
When his turn came, he asked her just this, "What is the one? (ekam nama kim)." Kundalakesi could not answer, so she asked Thera Sariputta to teach her the answer to the question. Thera Sariputta replied that she should first become a bhikkhuni (nun); so she ordained by the name of Theri Kundalakesi. Within a few days, she became an arahat. Soon after this, the bhikkhus asked the Buddha, "How could it be possible for Bhikkhuni Kundalakesi to become an arahat after listening to so little Dhamma?" They also added that this lady had fought and won a victory over her husband, who was a thief, before she became a paribbajika. The Buddha then spoke on the efficacy of words of truth and on the importance of self-conquest.
In other words, instead of listening to a 1000 useless and meaningless verses, it is more beneficial to listen to one single useful beneficial verse. One who has conquers one's defilements is more victorious than one who has fought many battles.
Verse 104 -105 (Victory over oneself is unequaled)
Attā have jitaṃ seyyo, yā cā’yaṃ itarā pajā Attadantassa posassa, niccaṃ saññatacārino N’eva devo na gandhabbo, na māro saha brahmunā Jitaṃ apajitaṃ kayirā, tathārūpassa jantuno
Self-conquest is far greater than the conquest of others; neither a deity nor a celestial musician, nor Māra with Brahmā, can overturn the victory of one who is self-possessed and restrained.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 104-105: Brahmin Anatthapucchaka
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses 104 and 105 with reference to Anatthapucchaka, a brahmin.
On one occasion, a Brahmin by the name of Anatthapucchaka came to the Buddha and said to him, "Venerable Sir, I think that you know only the practices that are beneficial but not the practices that are un-beneficial." Buddha replied that he also knew the practices which were un-beneficial and harmful. Then the Buddha enumerated six practices which cause dissipation of wealth; they are: (1) sleeping until the sun has risen, (2) habitual idleness, (3) cruelty, (4) indulgence in intoxicants which causes drunkenness and negligence, (5) sauntering alone in streets at unearthly hours, and (6) sexual misconduct.
Then the Buddha asked the brahmin how he earned his living, and the brahmin replied that he earned his living by gambling. Next, the Buddha asked him whether he won or lost. When the brahmin answered that he sometimes lost and sometimes won, the Buddha said to him,"To win in a game of dice is nothing compared to a victory over moral defilements." In other words,to conquer one's own defilements is more victorious than conquering others.
Verse 106 (A Moment’s Honor to the Worthy is Best)
Māse māse sahassena, yo yajetha sataṃ samaṃ Ekañca bhāvitattānaṃ, muhuttam api pūjaye Sā y’eva pūjanā seyyo, yañce vassasataṃ hutaṃ Even if one make offerings to ordinary people month after month for a hundred years, if only for a moment, one honors a bhikkhu who has practiced Insight Development, this homage is indeed, better than a hundred years of making offerings,
Story related to Dhammapada106: Thera Sariputta's Uncle
While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 106 with reference to a brahmin, who was the maternal uncle of Thera Sariputta.
On one occasion, Thera Sariputta asked his uncle the brahmin whether he was doing any meritorious deeds. The brahmin answered that he was making offerings to the value of 1000 Kahapanas every month to the Nigantha ascetics, hoping to get to the Brahma world in his next existence.
Thera Sariputta then explained to him that his teachers had given him false hopes and that they themselves did not know the way to the Brahma world. Then he took his uncle the brahmin to the Buddha, and requested the Buddha to expound the Dhamma, which would surely take one to the Brahma world.
The Buddha said to the brahmin, "Brahmin, an offering of a spoonful of alms-food to a bhikkhu would be much better than your present offering of one thousand Kahapanas to your teachers." In other words, to honor a well-disciplined bhikkhu is more meritorious and beneficial then donating a 1000 dollars to ordinary people.
Verse 107 (Better than a century of fire-sacrifice)
Yo ca vassasataṃ jantu, aggiṃ paricare vane Ekañca bhāvitattānaṃ, muhuttam api pūjaye Sā y’eva pūjanā seyyo, yañce vassasataṃ hutaṃ
Even if one tends the sacred fire in the forest for a century, if only for a moment one pays homage to a bhikkhu who has perfected himself, that honor is better than a century of fire-sacrifice.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 107: Thera Sariputta's Nephew
While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 107 with reference to Thera Sariputta's nephew.
On one occasion, Thera Sariputta asked his nephew, a brahmin, whether he was doing any meritorious deeds. His nephew answered that he had been sacrificing a goat in fire-worship every month, hoping to get to the Brahma world in his next existence. Thera Sariputta then explained to him that his teachers had given him false hopes and that they themselves did not know the way to the Brahma world. Then he took his nephew the young brahmin to the Buddha. There, the Buddha taught him the Dhamma that would lead one to the Brahma world and said to the brahmin, "Young brahmin, paying homage to the bhikkhus for a moment would be far better than making sacrifices in fire-worship for a hundred years."
In other words, paying homage to a true enlightened arahant is much better than doing sacrifices which is not meritorious.
Verse 108 (Better than sacrificial slaughter)
Yaṃ kiñci yiṭṭhaṃ va hutaṃ va loke, saṃvaccharaṃ yajetha puññapekho Sabbam pi taṃ na catubhāgameti, abhivādanā ujjugatesu seyyo
In this world, one may make sacrificial offerings/gifts all the year round in order to gain merit; But all these offerings are not worth a quarter of the merit gained by worshiping the Noble Ones (Ariyas) who walk the right path.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 108 : Thera Sariputta's Friend
While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 108 with reference to a friend of Thera Sariputta.
On one occasion Thera Sariputta asked his friend, a brahmin, whether he was doing any meritorious deeds and he replied that he had been making sacrificial offerings on a big scale, hoping to get to the Brahma world in his next existence. Thera Sariputta told him that his teachers had given him false hopes and that they themselves did not know the way to the Brahma world.
Then he took his friend to the Buddha, who showed him the way to the Brahma world. To the friend of Thera Sariputta, the Buddha said, "Brahmin, worshipping the Noble Ones (Ariyas) only for a moment is better than making sacrificial offerings, great and small, throughout the year." In other words, even if one were to make many sacrificial offerings all year round, it is more meritorious to worship an arahant even for one moment.
Verse 109 (Honoring Venerables yields four benefits )
One who always respects and honors those who are older and more virtuous will have four benefits namely longevity, beauty, happiness and strength which will increase.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 109 : Ayuvaddhanakumara
While residing in a village monastery near Dighalanghika, the Buddha uttered Verse 109 with reference to Ayuvaddhanakumara.
Once, there were two ascetics who practiced religious austerities (tapacaranam) for forty eight years together. Later, one of the two left the hermit life and got married. After a son was born, the family visited the old hermit and paid obeisance to him. To the parents the hermit said, "May you live long," but he said nothing to the child.
The parents were puzzled and asked the hermit the reason for his silence. The hermit told them that the child would live only seven more days and that he did not know how to prevent his death, but Gotama Buddha might know. So the parents took the child to the Buddha; when they paid obeisance to the Buddha, he also said, "May you live long" to the parents only and not to the child. The Buddha also predicted the impending death of the child. To prevent his death, the parents were told to build a pavilion at the entrance to the hous and put the child on a couch in the pavilion.
Then some bhikkhus were sent there to recite the parittas (Protection discourse) for seven days. On the seventh day the Buddha himself came to that pavilion and the devas from all over the universe also came. At that time the ogre Avaruddhaka was at the entrance, waiting for a chance to take the child away. But as more powerful devas arrived the ogre had to step back and make room for them so that he had to stay at a place far away from the child. That whole night, recitation of parittas continued, thus protecting the child.
The next day, the child was taken up from the couch and made to pay obeisance to the Buddha. This time, the Buddha said, "May you live long" to the child. When asked how long the child would live, the Buddha replied that he would live up to 120 years. So the child was named Ayuvaddhana.
When the child grew up, he went about the country with a company of five hundred fellow devotees. One day, they came to the Jetavana monastery, and the bhikkhus, recognizing him, asked the Buddha, "For beings, is there any means of gaining longevity?" To this question the Buddha answered, "By respecting and honoring the elders and those who are wise and virtuous, one would gain not only longevity, but also beauty, happiness and strength."
In other words, if one shows respects and honors the wise virtuous elders, then one will benefit with increase in life span, beauty, happiness and strength .
Verse 110 (Better than a hundred years)
Yo ca vassasataṃ jīve, dussīlo asamāhito Ekāhaṃ jīvitaṃ seyyo, sīlavantassa jhāyino
Compared to one who live a 100 years leading immoral and uncontrolled life, It is better to live a single day morally and absorbed in meditative states
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 110: Samanera Samkicca
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 110 with reference to Samanera Samkicca.
On one occasion, 30 monks each took a subject of meditation from the Buddha and left for a large village away from Savatthi. At that time, 500 robbers were staying in a thick jungle and they wanted to make an offering of human flesh and blood to the guardian spirits of the forest. So they came to the village monastery and demanded that one monk be given up to them for sacrifice to the guardian spirits.
From the eldest to the youngest, each one of the monks volunteered to go. Novice Samkicca was only seven years old but had already attained arahatship. Samkicca said that Thera Sariputta, his teacher, knowing this danger in advance, had purposely sent him to accompany the monks, and that he should be the one to go with the robbers. So he went along with the robbers. The rest of the monks felt very bad for having let the young samanera go. The robbers made preparations for the sacrifice; when everything was ready, their leader came to the samanera, who was then seated, with his mind fixed on jhana meditative state.
The leader of the robbers lifted his sword and struck hard at the young samanera, but the blade of the sword curled up without cutting the flesh. He straightened up the blade and struck again; this time, it bent upwards right up to the hilt without harming the samanera. Seeing this strange happening, the leader of the robbers dropped his sword, knelt at the feet of the samanera and asked his pardon. All the 500 robbers were amazed and terror-stricken; they repented and asked permission from Samkicca to become monks. He complied with their request.
The young samanera accompanied by five hundred new monks returned to the village monastery and the thirty bhikkhus felt very much relieved and happy on seeing him. Then Samkicca and the 500 bhikkhus continued on their way to pay respect to Thera Sariputta, his teacher, at the Jetavana monastery.
After seeing Thera Sariputta they went to pay homage to the Buddha. When told what had happened, the Buddha said, "Bhikkhus, if you rob or steal and commit all sorts of evil deeds, your life would be useless, even if you were to live a hundred years. Living a virtuous life even for a single day is much better than a hundred years of a life of depravity. In other words, living a single day ethically and meditating is much better than living up to 100 years old doing immoral deeds.
Verse 111 ( A wise one's life is great)
Yo ca vassasataṃ jīve, duppañño asamāhito Ekāhaṃ jīvitaṃ seyyo, paññavantassa jhāyino
Though one should live a hundred years of evil understanding and uncomposed, better is living one single day possessed of wisdom and absorbed in higher meditative states.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 111 : Khanu-Kondanna
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 111 with reference to Khanu Kondanna.
Thera Kondanna, after taking a subject of meditation from the Buddha, went into the jungle to practise meditation and there attained arahantship. Coming back to pay homage to the Buddha, he stopped along the way because he was very tired. He sat on a large stone-slab, meditated and was fixed in jhana concentration.
Then 500 robbers after looting a large village came to the place where the thera was. Taking him for a tree stump they put their bundles of loot all over and around the body of the thera. When day broke they realized that what they took to be a tree stump was, in fact, a living being. They thought it was an ogre and ran away in fright.
The thera revealed to them that he was only a monk and not an ogre and told them not to get frightened. The robbers were awed by his words and asked his pardon for having wronged him. Then all the robbers requested the thera to admit them into the Order. Due to this incident, Thera Kondanna came to be known as "Khanu Kondanna" (tree-stump Kondanna)
The thera accompanied by the new bhikkhus went to the Buddha and told him all that had happened. To them the Buddha said, "To live for a hundred years in ignorance, doing foolish things, is useless; now that you have seen the Truth and have become wise, your life of one day as a wise man is much more worthwhile." In other words, better is to live one day wisely than to live a hundred ignorant foolish lives.
Verse 112 (Better than a century of laziness)
Yo ca vassasataṃ jīve, kusīto hīnavīriyo Ekāhaṃ jīvitaṃ seyyo, viriyam ārabhato daḷhaṃ
Better than a hundred years lived lazily and with little effort, is one single day lived with energy aroused and with intense effort.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 112: Thera Sappadasa
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 112 with reference to Thera Sappadasa.
Once a bhikkhu was not feeling happy with the life of a monk; at the same time he felt that it would be improper and humiliating for him to return to the life of a lay person. So he thought it would be better to die.Thus he put his hand into a pot where there was a snake but the snake did not bite him. This was because in a past existence the snake was a slave and the monk was his master. Because of this incident the bhikkhu was known as Thera Sappadasa (snake slave elder). On another occasion, Thera Sappadasa took a razor to cut his throat; but as he placed the razor on his throat he reflected on the purity of his morality practice throughout his life as a monk and his whole body was suffused with delightful satisfaction (piti) and bliss (sukha). Then detaching himself from piti, he directed his mind to the development of Insight Knowledge and soon attained arahatship, and he returned to the monastery.
On arrival at the monastery, other monks asked him where he had been and why he took the knife along with him. When he told them about his intention to take his life, they asked him why he did not do so. He answered, "I originally intended to cut my throat with this knife, but I have now cut off all moral defilements with the knife of Insight Knowledge."
The monks did not believe him; so they went to the Buddha and asked. "Venerable Sir, this monk claims that he has attained arahantship as he was about to kill himself. Is it possible to attain Arahatta Magga (enlightenment) within such a short time?"
To them the Buddha said, "Bhikkhus! Yes, it is possible; for one who is zealous and strenuous in the practice of Tranquillity and Insight Development, arahantship can be gained in an instant. As the bhikkhu walks in meditation, he can attain arahantship even before his raised foot touches the ground."
In other words, it is better to live one day striving in effort to practice the noble eightfold path than living a hundred years idly without any effort.
Verse 113 (Realizing impermanence is best)
Yo ca vassasataṃ jīve, apassaṃ udayabbayaṃ Ekāhaṃ jīvitaṃ seyyo, passato udayabbayaṃ
Better than a hundred years lived unaware of the rise and fall (of conditioned things) is one single day lived aware of the rise and fall (of conditioned things).
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 113: Nun Patacara
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 113 with reference to Patacara.
Patacara was the daughter of a rich man from Savatthi. She was very beautiful and was guarded very strictly by her parents. But one day, she eloped with a young male attendant of the family and went to live in a village, as a poor man's wife. In due course she became pregnant and as the time for confinement drew near, she asked permission from her husband to return to her parents in Savatthi, but her husband discouraged her. So, one day, while her husband was away, she set out for the home of her parents.
Her husband followed her and caught up with her on the way and pleaded with her to return with him; but she refused. It so happened that as her time was drawing so near, she had to give birth to a son in one of the bushes. After the birth of her son she returned home with her husband.
Then, she was pregnant again with a second child and as the time for confinement drew nears taking her son with her, she again set out for the home of her parents in Savatthi. Her husband followed her and caught up with her on the way; but her time for delivery was coming on very fast and it was also raining hard. The husband looked for a suitable place for confinement and while he was clearing a little patch of land, he was bitten by a poisonous snake, and died instantaneously.
Patacara waited for her husband, and while waiting for his return she gave birth to her second son. In the morning, she searched for her husband, but only found his dead body. Saying to herself that her husband died on account of her, she continued on her way to her parents. As it had rained incessantly the whole night, the river Aciravati was in spate; so it was not possible for her to cross the river carrying both her sons.
Leaving the elder boy on this side of the river, she crossed the stream with her one day-old son and left him on the other bank. She then came back for the elder boy. While she was still in the middle of the river, a large hawk hovered over the younger child taking it for a piece of meat. She shouted to frighten away the bird, but it was all in vain; the child was carried away by the hawk. Meanwhile, the elder boy heard his mother shouting from the middle of the stream and thought she was calling out to him to come to her. So he entered the stream to go to his mother, and was carried away by the strong current. Thus, Patacara lost her two sons as well as her husband.
So she wept and lamented loudly, "A son is carried away by a hawk, another son is carried away by the current, my husband is bitten by a poisonous snake!" Then, she saw a man from Savatthi and she tearfully asked after her parents. The man replied that due to a violent storm in Savatthi the previous night, the house of her parents had fallen down and that both her parents together with her three brothers, had died, and had been cremated on one funeral pyre.
Upon hearing this tragic news, Patacara went stark mad. She did not even notice that her clothes had fallen off from her and that she was half-naked. She went about the streets, shouting out her woes. While the Buddha was giving a discourse at the Jetavana monastery, he saw Patacara at a distance; so he willed that she should come to the congregation.
The crowd seeing her coming tried to stop her, saying "Don't let the mad woman come in." But the Buddha told them not to prevent her coming in. When Patacara was close enough to hear him, he told her to be careful and to keep calm. Then, she realized that she did not have her skirt on and shamefacedly sat down. Someone gave her a piece of cloth and she wrapped herself up in it. She then told the Buddha how she had lost her sons, her husband, her brothers and her parents.
The Buddha said to her, "Patacara, have no fear; you have now come to one who can protect you and guide you. Throughout this round of existences (samsara), the amount of tears you have shed on account of the death of your sons, husbands, parents and brothers is voluminous; it is even more than the waters of the four oceans." The Buddha expounded to her the Anamatagga Sutta, which dealt with countless existences, and she felt relieved. Then, the Buddha added that one should not think too much about those who were gone, but that one should purify oneself and strive to realize Nibbana. On hearing this exhortation from the Buddha, Patacara attained Sotapatti Fruition (stream winner).
Then Patacara ordained as a nun. One day, she was cleaning her feet with water from a water-pot. As she poured the water for the first time, it flowed only a short distance and disappeared; then she poured for the second time and the water went a little farther, but the water she poured for the third time went the farthest. As she looked at the flow and the disappearance of water poured cut successively for three times, she came to perceive clearly the three stages in the life of beings.
The Buddha seeing her through supernormal power from the Jetavana monastery sent forth his radiance and appeared to her in person. He then said to her, "Patacara, you are now on the right track, and you now have the true perception of the five aggregates (khandhas). One who does not perceive the impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality of the aggregates is useless, even if he were to live for a hundred years." At the end of the discourse, Patacara attained arahantship. In other words, living one day realizing the impermanence nature of all conditioned things is better than living a 100 years not knowing.