[25. Nandā (Janapadakalyāṇi)1]

The Victor, Padumuttara,
was a Master of Everything.
[That] Leader arose in the world
one hundred thousand aeons hence. (1) [804]

The Admonisher,2 Instructor,3
Crosser-Over4 of all that breathe,
Skilled at Preaching,5 [he], the Buddha,
caused many folks to cross [the flood]. (2) [805]

Merciful,6 Compassionate One,7
Well-Wisher8 of all that breathe, he
established in the five precepts
all the rivals who had arrived. (3) [806]

In this way he was Unconfused9
and Very Well-Known10 by rivals,
Ornamented11 by arahants
who were masters [and] neutral ones. (4) [807]

The [body of the] Sage So Great
rose up fifty-eight cubits12 [tall];
he was Valuable Like Gold,13
Bearing the Thirty-Two Great Marks. (5) [808]

[People’s] lifespan at that time was
[fully] one hundred thousand years.
Remaining [in the world] so long,
he ferried many folks across. (6) [809]

I was born in Haṃsavatī,
in a clan of millionaires then,
glistening with various gems,
endowed with supreme happiness. (7) [810]

Having approached the Great Hero,
I heard [him] preaching the Dhamma,
ultimately sweet14 ambrosia15
which makes known the ultimate truth. (8) [811]

Then after inviting [him, the]
Three-Worlds-Ender, with Assembly,
giving him a large almsgiving,
[feeling well-]pleased by [my] own hands,
bowing [my] head to the Hero,
the World’s Leader with Assembly,
I aspired to that foremost place
of Buddhist nuns who meditate. (9-10) [812-813]

Then the Untamed-Tamer,16 Master,17
Refuge for the Three Worlds,18 [Buddha,]
the Leopard of Men,19 prophesied:
“you will receive that well-wished [place]. (11) [814]

In one hundred thousand aeons,
arising in Okkāka’s clan,
the one whose name is Gotama
will be the Teacher in the world. (12) [815]

Worthy heir to that one’s Dhamma,
Dhamma’s legitimate offspring,
the one known by the name Nandā,
will be the Teacher’s follower.” (13) [816]

At that time being overjoyed,
as long as life, heart [full of] love,
I attended on the Victor,
the Guide, providing requisites. (14) [817]

Due to that karma done very well,
with intention and [firm] resolve,
discarding [my] human body,
I went to Tāvatiṃsa [then]. (15) [818]

Fallen thence, I went to Yāma,20
[and] then I went to Tusita,
and then to Nimmānarati,21
and then Vāsavatti City. (16) [819]

In whichever place I’m reborn,
in accordance with that karma,
everyplace I was made chief queen
of [the gods who were] the kings [there]. (17) [820]

Fallen thence, in the human state,
[everyplace] I was made chief queen
of kings who turn the wheel [of law,]
and [powerful] regional kings. (18) [821]

Having experienced success,
among gods as well as humans,
becoming happy everywhere,
I transmigrated for aeons.22 (19) [822]

When [my] last rebirth was attained,
I was the blameless23 daughter of
King Suddhodana,24 [living in]
delightful25 Kapilavastu.26 (20) [823]

Seeing [my] splendor27 [and] beauty,
that [Śākyan] clan was rejoicing.28
Therefore they gave the name “Nandā,”
pleasant [and] excellent, to me. (21) [824]

[I was]29 renowned as “the Beauty”30
among all of the young women
in that same31 delightful city,
except [of course] Yasodharā.32 (22) [825]

[My] eldest brother’s the Buddha,33
the middle one’s34 likewise a saint;35
staying alone in the lay life,
I am exhorted by mother:36 (23) [826]

“Child, you’re born in the Śākyan clan,
following after the Buddha.
Why do you sit37 [there] in the house,
being bereft of [all your] joy?38 (24) [827]

Thought impure39 is youthful beauty,40
under the power of old age;
even a life which is healthy,
ends in disease, ends in dying. (25) [828]

Look at even your [own] fine form:
charming, distracting to the mind,41
it’s adorned and ornamented
like42 Goddess Fortune embellished,43 (26) [829]

like concentrated44 world-essence45
medicinal balm for the eyes,46
generating praise for merit,47
rejoicing the Okkāka clan; (27) [830]

in no long time at all, old age
is going to overpower [it].
Young one, abandoning the house,
choose48 the Teaching, O blameless one.” (28) [831]

After hearing [my] mother’s words,
I went forth into homelessness
in49 body, but not in [my] heart,
[still] enthralled by youth and beauty. (29) [832]

Mother50 said to make my basis51
through study of the altered states,52
[pursuing it] with great effort.
I was not enthused53 about that. (30) [833]

Then the Great Compassionate One
saw54 me enthralled by sense pleasures.
To make me55 weary of beauty,56
through his own majestic power,
the Victor conjured up, in my
line of sight, a woman who shined;
she was gorgeous,57 truly brilliant,58
even more beautiful than I. (31-32) [834-835]

And I, astonished, seeing her59
very astonishing body,
thought [to myself,] “fruitful [today]
is the receipt of human eyes.” (33) [836]

I said to her, “O lucky one!60
Tell me the story how you’ve come,
and if you please, do tell to me
[your] clan, [your] name, [your] family.” (34) [837]

“No time for questions, lucky one;
let me lay [my head] in [your] lap.”61
As though sinking62 into my limbs
she reclined well63 for a moment. (35) [838]

Then putting [her] head in my lap
she with lovely eyes stretched out [there].
A spider,64 very venomous,
landed on that [woman’s] forehead. (36) [839]

When [it] had fallen onto her,
boils formed [all over her body];
popping open, they were oozing
putrid [chunks of] pus mixed with blood. (37) [840]

And [her] face was disfigured too,
with the putrid stench of a corpse;
and [her] body festered65 too,
[now] swollen up and [turning] blue. (38) [841]

With all of her limbs quivering,
gasping for every breath she took,66
making known her own suffering,
she piteously wailed [like this:] (39) [842]

“I’m afflicted with affliction,67
feeling [agonizing] feelings;
I’m sunk down in great affliction.
Be a refuge for me, O friend.” (40) [843]

“Where is [that] facial shine of yours?
Where is your [attractive] long nose?
Your excellent copper-red lips?
Where has your [beautiful] face gone? (41) [844]

Where’s [your] mouth, shining like the moon?
Where has your conch-shell-shaped neck gone?
And [both] your ears, swaying like swings,68
have [now] become [badly] discolored. (42) [845]

Your milk-laden [breasts shaped] like jugs
which resembled pointy [young] buds69
have popped open; you’ve become a
putrid corpse with a horrid stench. (43) [846]

[Your] slender middle70 [and] buttocks,
meat-stall71 where wounds and sins72 are born
[are now] adorned with excrement.
O! Beauty is not eternal! (44) [847]

Every born body [is the same:]
putrid-smelling and frightening,
like a loathsome73 cemetery,
where [only] fools [find their] delight.” (45) [848]

Then the Great Compassionate One,
my brother, Leader of the World,
Having seen me, moved in [my] heart,
he spoke these verses [to me then:] (46) [849]

“Nanda, look at [your own] body,
[also] a sick [and] putrid corpse.
Through disgustingness cultivate
[your] mind, well-composed and tranquil. (47) [850]

Just as is this, so too is that;
just as is that, so too is this:
putrid [and] emitting a stench,
causing delight [only] to fools. (48) [851]

Considering that in this way,
industrious by day and night,
you will see with your own wisdom,
having turned away in disgust. (49) [852]

After that I was deeply moved,
having heard [those] well-said verses;
remaining there, being at peace,74
I attained [my] arahantship. (50) [853]

Everyplace where I am seated,
I [reach] the highest altered states.
The Victor, pleased by [my]75 virtue,
[then] placed me in that foremost place. (51) [854]

My defilements are [now] burnt up;
all [new] existence is destroyed.
Like elephants with broken chains,
I am living without constraint. (52) [855]

Being in Best Buddha’s presence
was a very good thing for me.
The three knowledges are attained;
[I have] done what the Buddha taught! (53) [856]

The four analytical modes,
and these eight deliverances,
six special knowledges mastered,
[I have] done what the Buddha taught! (54) [857]

Thus indeed Bhikkhunī Nandā spoke these verses.

The legend of Nandā Therī is finished.

  1. “Joy,” an historical nun, daughter of King Suddhodana and Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī (#17, above), hence half-sister (plus, given that her mother was the Buddha’s mother’s sister) of the Buddha, remembered as foremost among those with meditative power. Malalasekera (DPPN II:1217) takes her as Sundarī Nandā, though there has been some confusion with the other Nandās among the famous nuns; “Janapadakalyāṇī” is also an epithet used for the Nandā caled Rūpanandā (DPPN I:934; II: 748) who also is said to be a “sister” of the Buddha. Cf. also in this mix Abhirūpanandā (DPPN I:143)

  2. ovādako, or “Advisor” “Exhorter.” Vv. 2-6 here are found verbatim as vv. 2-6 of five separate apadānas of monks in the Therāpadāna, #531 {534} (Dabbamalla) and #534-537 {537-540} (Mahākoṭṭhika, Uruvelakassapa, Rādha and Mogharāja, respectively).

  3. viññāpako

  4. tārako

  5. desanākusalo

  6. anukampako

  7. kāruṇiko

  8. hitesi

  9. nirākulaŋ

  10. suñññataŋ, or “empty [of ill-will],” which is BJTS Sinhala gloss reading; I construe the epithet as su + ñata

  11. vicchittaŋ

  12. ratanāna-aṭṭha-paññāsaŋ uggato. A ratana (Sinh. riyan) is figured as twelve-fingers (aṅgula), according to Sinh-Eng Dictionary about eighteen inches. The claim here then is that Padumuttara Buddha was 1044 inches (or 87 feet) tall.

  13. kañcchanagghiyasaṅkāso, lit., “like a gold valuable thing” or “like a gold festoon work”

  14. paramassādaŋ, or “having the ultimate taste”

  15. amataŋ, or “deathless”

  16. adantadamako could mean either “tamer of the untamed” or “tamer who is untamed;” I leave the ambiguity open with the hyphen, admitting here my preference for “tamer of the untamed” (which is also the BJTS reading, cf RD on dametar), and recommend pronunciation in chanting which through stress on the first term in the compound, and tone, can emphasize that the Buddha is one who tames those who are untamed/feral.

  17. pabhu

  18. tilokasaraṇo

  19. narasaddūlo. Cf. notes to Thera-apadāna [6131], above and Therī-apadāna [1222], below

  20. Yāma, Tusita, Nimmānarati and Vāsavatti are all heavens in the Buddhist cosmology.

  21. BJTS reads nimmāṇaratiṃ

  22. anekakappesu, lit., “during various aeons”

  23. aninditā

  24. “Good Rice-Gruel,” the Buddha’s (bodhisatta Siddhattha’s) biological father

  25. ramme. BJTS reads puramhi, “in the city”

  26. kapilavhaye, lit., “in the [city] named for Kapila”

  27. reading siriṃ ccha with BJTS for PTS (and BJTS alt.) siriyā, “with splendor”

  28. nanditaŋ

  29. ccha, lit., “and [I was]”

  30. kalyāṇi ti

  31. pi, or “very” (emph.)

  32. the Buddha’s wife, #28 of Therī-apadāna, below.

  33. tilokaggo, lit., “Three Worlds’ Chief”

  34. majjhimo, or BJTS (and PTS alt.) pacchchimo, “the last” — BJTS Sinh. gloss mä kaṇiṭu bǟyā (“my younger elder brother”)

  35. arahā, “worthy” “an arahant”

  36. that is, by Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī, founder and leader of the Assembly of Nuns (bhikkhunīsaṅgha)

  37. reading kinnu v’ acchchasi with BJTS for PTS kiŋ na acchchasi, (“why don’t you sit”)

  38. nandena pi vinā bhūtā, a play on the nun’s name

  39. asucchisammataŋ, or “not considered pure” (depending on whether the compound is understood as asuci-sammataŋ or a-succhisammataŋ)

  40. rūpaŋ

  41. manoharaŋ, “delightful”

  42. BJTS reads sasikantam (?) for PTS passa kantaŋ, perhaps a typo given the absence of a note

  43. siri-saṅkhata-sannibhaŋ

  44. reading PTS alt puñjitaŋ (“lumped together”) or BJTS piṇḍitaṃ (“pressed into a ball”) for PTS pūjitaŋ (“worshipped”)

  45. lokasāraŋ

  46. nayanānaŋ rasāyanaŋ

  47. puññānaŋ, lit., “for merit[orious deed]s,” i.e., plural

  48. PTS vara. BJTS reads cchara, “wander”

  49. dehena, lit., “with”

  50. lit., “And mother”

  51. PTS reads saraŋ (“flowing, going” or perhaps “arrow,” “lake,” “remembering,” “sound”), alt. padaŋ (“root”); BJTS reads paraṃ (?)

  52. jhān’ajjhena

  53. na cchâhaŋ tatra ussukā, omitting “and” in the translation

  54. disvā, lit., “seeing”

  55. nibbindanatthaŋ, lit., “for the sake of weariness”

  56. or “form”: rūpasmiŋ

  57. dassanīyaŋ, lit., “to be looked at,” “eye-cchandy”

  58. surucchiraŋ

  59. lit., “her, seeing [her] very”

  60. ehi subhage

  61. spoken by the conjured up woman

  62. reading sīdantiīva with BJTS for PTS nisīdantī (“sitting”)

  63. reading supasuppaya with BJTS (and following BJTS Sinhala gloss) for PTS passajissaŋ (? the side? “I will look at my limbs?”)

  64. reading lūtā (Sinh. gloss makuḷuvek) with BJTS (and PTS alt., sort of [lutā, sic]) for PTS luddā (“hunters” [or “disgusting/gruesome thing” ?])

  65. reading vipubbañccha (“festering”) with BJTS for PTS sabbañccha (“all” “entire”), though the latter is also a reasonable enough reading.

  66. reading nissasantī (lit., “gasping for breath [or “panting” or “sighing” or “exhaling”]) with BJTS (and PTS alt.) for PTS nissayanti (“they are pursuing” “leaning on”)

  67. or “suffering with suffering” “ill at ease with dis-ease” etc.: dukkhena dukkhitā homi

  68. reading dolālālā (lit., “swing-aquiver”) with BJTS for PTS dolālocchā (“swing” + ?) and alts. dolālolā “swing unwavering/undisturbed,” dolātulā, ”swing” + ?) which seem to emulate the alliteration of BJTSdolālālā even at the expense of apparent meaning

  69. especially the buds of mimusops elengi (says RD quoting Hardy, see makuḷa s.v.), = Spanish Cherry, Pāli vakula. This accepts the PTS reading here, makul[ḷ]a-khārak’-ākārā, recognizing that there is a lot of variation (BJTS reads makuḷamburuhākārā [“resembling the buds of trees in water” (?)])

  70. reading tanumajjhā with BJTS for PTS vedimajjhā, “in the middle of the bench” (?)

  71. sūnā, lit., “slaughterhouse”

  72. reading sūnā vaṇitakibbisā with BJTS (and PTS alt.) for PTS sūnā ‘va nītakibbisā (“like a slaughterhouse leading to sin” ?)

  73. jegucchchaŋ; BJTS reads bībhacchchaṃ, with similar range of meaning (disgusting, horrible, dreadful)

  74. or, reading vipassantī with BJTS, “investigating” “applying insight”

  75. lit., “in the” “in that”