[35. Sukkā1]

Ninety-one aeons ago the
Leader, whose name was Vipassi,
arose, the One Good to Look At,2
the One with Eyes for Everything. (1) [1214]

I was then in Bandhumatī,
born in an undistinguished clan.
Having heard the Sage’s Teaching,
I went forth into homelessness. (2) [1215]

Learned bearer of the Teaching,
good preacher, varied discourser,
I was a [nun] who practiced the
dispensation of the Buddha. (3) [1216]

Then giving many Dhamma-talks
with friendship to the populace,
fallen from there I was reborn,
full of splendor, in Tusitā. (4) [1217]

Thirty-one aeons hence, Sikhi,
a Heap of Fire,3 burning with fame,
the Victor, the Best Debater,
[the Buddha,] arose in4 the world. (5) [1218]

At that very time going forth,
skilled in Buddha’s dispensation,
making the Victor’s sayings shine,
I then went to the thirty [gods]. (6) [1219]

The Leader [named] Vessabhu, [too,]
arose thirty-one aeons hence.
And then as well I was the same:5
[a Buddhist nun] with vast knowledge. (7) [1220]

Gone forth, a Dhamma-bearer, I
made Buddha’s6 dispensation shine.
Gone to the lovely gods’ city,
I experienced great comfort. (8) [1221]

In this [present] lucky aeon,
Kakusandha, Supreme Victor,7
arose, the Excellent Leopard,8
and then as well I was the same. (9) [1222]

Gone forth, [I] illuminated
the Sage’s thought, as long as life.9
Fallen from there, I went as far
as the sphere of the thirty [gods]. (10) [1223]

[And] in this very same aeon
the Leader Konāgamana
arose [next,] the Excellent Lamp,10
Ultimate among all beings. (11) [1224]

At that time too, going forth in
the Neutral One’s dispensation,
learned bearer of Dhamma, I
made Buddha’s11 dispensation shine. (12) [1225]

Also in this [lucky] aeon
Kassapa [Buddha,] Seventh Sage,
arose, the Refuge of the World,12
Non-Hostile One,13 Ender of Death.14 (13) [1226]

Gone forth in the dispensation
of that Hero Among Men15 as well,
[I] learned the good Teaching by heart,
was confident in inquiry, (14) [1227]

very moral, also modest,
[very] skilled in the three trainings,16
giving many talks on Dhamma
with friendship as long as I lived.17 (15) [1228]

Due to that karma done very well,
with intention and [firm] resolve,
discarding [my] human body,
I went to Tāvatiṃsa [then]. (16) [1229]

And now, in [my] final rebirth,
in Giribbaja,18 best city,
[I was] born to rich millionaires,19
with a huge quantity of gems. (17) [1230]

When [Gotama,] the World’s Leader,
surrounded by one thousand monks,
entered [the city,] Rajgir,20 he
was praised by the thousand-eyed [god:]21 (18) [1231]

“The Restrained One,22 with former ascetics23 restrained;
the Liberated One,24 with those liberated;
[who had] the same color as a coin25 made of gold,
the Blessed One entered Rajagaha city.” (19) [1232]26

Seeing the Buddha’s majesty,
and hearing him, Heap of Virtues,27
pleasing my heart in the Buddha,
I worshipped28 [him] with all [my] strength. (20) [1233]

At [some] moment after that, in
the presence of Dhammadinnā,29
having gone forth from [my own] home,
I went forth into homelessness. (21) [1234]

I destroyed [all] the defilements
while [my] hair was being cut off.
Going forth, in no long time, I learned
[Buddha’s] entire dispensation. (22) [1235]

After that I preached the Dhamma
in a huge gathering of folks.
While Dhamma was being preached, there
was insight into the Teaching.30 (23) [1236]

Seeing varied thousands of folks
[achieving insight,] astonished,
a spirit,31 very pleased by me,
roaming about Rajgir [said this]: (24) [1237]

“Why are these people in Rajgir
acting like nymphs drunk on honey,
unless32 they’re honoring33 Sukkā,
[who’s] preaching the ambrosial state? (25) [1238]

Methinks the wise are drinking that
irresistible and unmixed
strength-bestower, like travelers
[drink rainwater from] a raincloud.” (26) [1239]

I’ve mastered the superpowers
[like] the “divine ear” element.
I’m also a master, Great Sage,34
of the knowledge in others’ hearts. (27) [1240]

I remember [my] former lives;
[my] “divine eye” is purified.
All the defilements are destroyed;
[I] will not be reborn again. (28) [1241]

In meaning and in the Teaching,
etymology and preaching,
[this] knowledge of mine was produced
in your presence, O Great Hero. (29) [1242]

My defilements are [now] burnt up;
all [new] existence is destroyed.
Like elephants with broken chains,
I am living without constraint. (30) [1243]

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! (31) [1244]

The four analytical modes,
and these eight deliverances,
six special knowledges mastered,
[I have] done what the Buddha taught! (32) [1245]

Thus indeed the bhikkhunī Sukkā spoke these verses.

The legend of Sukkā Therī35 is finished

  1. “White” “Bright” Good,” an historical nun, DPPN II: 1173-1174

  2. ccharunayano

  3. sikhī, a play on the meaning of the Buddha’s name. It can also mean “peacock.” Here sikhī viya, lit., “like a heap of fire”.

  4. reading loke (loc.) with BJTS (and PTS alt.) for PTS lokaŋ (acc.)

  5. tadā pi ccha tath’ ev’ ahaŋ

  6. lit., “the Victor’s”

  7. jinuttamo

  8. varasaddūlo. BJTS reads narasaddūlo, which is also the reading in Therī-apadāna [814] above; PTS alt. gives narasaraṇo (“Refuge for Men”). Cf. the note to Thera-apadāna [6131] on this rather uncharacteristically loose, and rare but repeated, Apadāna Buddha-epithet (or epithets). Does the variation suggest a lack of meaning in the epithet itself (in Apadāna the leopard [as dīpi] usually appears as part of a list of wild animals, not [unlike say the lion, elephant, swan, bull] as part of a Buddha-epithet)

  9. reading yathāyukaṃ with BJTS for PTS yathāsukhaŋ (“as much as comfortable” or perhaps “as I pleased”)

  10. dīpavaro

  11. lit., “the Victor’s”

  12. lokasaraṇo

  13. araṇo, lit., “having no battle,” “not adversarial,” rhymed in the epithets lokasaraṇo and maraṇantago that also appear in this verse

  14. maraṇantago, lit., “gone to the end of death”

  15. naravīra, or “Heroic Man” “Having the Virility of a Man” (“Masculine One”)

  16. tisso sikkhā, i.e., training in morality (sīla), wisdom (paññā) and meditative states (samādhi)

  17. reading hitā ‘va ‘haṃ with BJTS for PTS mahāmune (“O Great Sage”)

  18. = Rājagaha, Rajgir, in Bihār

  19. lit., “born in a rich clan of millionaires”

  20. or Giribbaja, here Rājagahaŋ

  21. sahassakkhena, i.e., Śakra/Indra, king of the gods

  22. danto, or “Tamed”

  23. purāṇajaṭilehi, lit., “former matted-haired [ascetics]”

  24. vimutto

  25. Siṅgī-nikkha-savaṇṇo, lit., “having the same color as a golden/”ginger” coin;” nikkha can also be an ornament, or a weight, The thrust, anyway, is that the Buddha was shiny like gold.

  26. these lines (41 syllables in PTS, 40 syllables in BJTS [which omits the ccha after purāṇajaṭilehi]) are presented by both PTS and BJTS as a single verse, though they break the two-footed lines differently and I am at a loss for how to understand the “verse” metrically. A quote from some prose text? A verse in more complex meter, garbled in transmission? I have translated into the closest approximation of the latter possibility in Apadāna, namely a 12-12-12-12 verse (which would suggest the possible loss of seven syllables [in the case of PTS’ reading] or eight syllables [in the case of BJTS’s reading] sometime comparatively early in the transmission process (since it affects all the extant mss.) In addition to conforming to a verse-form occasionally encountered elsewhere in Apadāna, this implicit 12-12-12-12 structure works very nicely for the basic units that then make up the four discrete feet.

  27. taŋ…guṇasañcchayaŋ

  28. lit., “did pūjā

  29. #23, above

  30. lit., “there was an [achieving of] insight into the Dhamma of twenty million.” Dhammâbhisamaya, “insight into the Dhamma” or “entry into the Dhamma” or “comprehension of the Dhamma” or “penetration into the Dhamma” refers to the achievement of a firm grasp on the essentials of the Teaching. It is used as a technical term in the account of each Buddha in the Buddhavaṃsa, one among many categories of Buddha-achievement enumerated there.

  31. yakkho

  32. ye…na, lit., “those who have not”

  33. PTS payirupāsanti breaks the meter; BJTS upāsanti does not. The two are essentially the same verb, the former with an additional pari<payir

  34. reading mahāmune (voc.) with BJTS for PTS mahāmuni (nom.)

  35. This is the BJTS reading. PTS reads bhikkhunī Sukkā