Capa

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Cāpā was the wife of Upaka, the first person Buddha met after his enlightenment, according to the Therigatha. She later became a nun.

In the Therigata, we hear that after this meeting Upaka went to the Vaŋkahāra country and there, having been attended to by a certain Cāpā, a hunter's daughter, fell in love with her and married her. Thereafter he made his living selling the meat the hunter killed.

This Cāpā, who had aparently admired Upaka as long as he had been an ascetic, began to dispise him for having been entrapped by her and endlessly ridiculed him to the end that he left her and making his way to Savatthi, he found the Buddha and entered the order. It was said he became an Anagamin and being reborn in the Aviha Realm reached Arahantship there almost immediately. Cāpā too, apparently joined the order and became an Arahant.

Her life story has a slightly different version of Upaka's meeting with the Buddha.

Details of her life story

She, too, having made her resolve under former Buddhas, and heaping up good of age-enduring efficacy in this and that rebirth, till she had accumulated the sources of good, and matured the conditions for emancipation, was, in this Buddha-age, reborn in the Vankahāra country, at a certain village of trappers, as the daughter of the chief trapper, and named Cāpā.[15] And at that time Upaka, an ascetic,[16] met the Master as he was going to Benares, there to set rolling from his Bo-tree throne[17] the Wheel of the Norm, and asked him: 'You seem, my friend, in perfect health! Clear and pure is your complexion. Wherefore have you, friend, left the world? or who may your teacher be? or whose doctrine do you believe in?' And he was thus answered:

'All have I overcome. All things I know,
'Mid all things undefiled. Renouncing all,
In death of Craving wholly free. My own
The Deeper View. Whom should I name to thee?
For me no teacher lives. I stand alone
On earth, in heav'n rival to me there's none.

Now go I on seeking Benares town,
To start the Wheel, the gospel of the Norm,
To rouse and guide the nations blind and lost,
Striking Salvation's drum, Ambrosia's alarm.'

[130] The ascetic, discerning the omniscience and great mission of the Master, was comforted in mind, and replied: 'Friend, may these things be! Thou art worthy[18] to be a conqueror, world without end!'

Then, taking a by-road, he came to the Vankahara country, and abode near the hamlet of the trappers, where the head trapper supplied his wants.

One day the latter, setting off on a long hunt with sons and brothers, bade his daughter not neglect 'the Arahant'[19] in his absence. Now, she was of great beauty; and Upaka, seeking alms at her home, and captivated by her beauty, could not eat, but took his food home, and laid down fasting, vowing he would die should he not win Cāpā.

After seven days the father returned, and, on inquiring for his 'Arahant,' heard he had not come again after the first day. The trapper sought him, and Upaka, moaning, and rolling over, confessed his plight.

The trapper asked if he knew any craft, and he answered, 'No;' but offered to fetch their game and sell it. The trapper consented, and, giving him a coat, brought him to his own home, and gave him his daughter.

In due time she had a son, whom they called Subhādda.[20] Cāpā, when the baby cried, sang to him: 'Upaka's boy, ascetic's boy, game-dealer's boy, don't cry, don't cry!' mocking her husband.

And he said at length: 'Do not thou, Cāpā, fancy I have none to protect me.[21] I have a friend, even a conqueror eternal, and to him I will go.' She saw that he was vexed, and teased him again and again in the same way, till one day, in anger, he got ready to go.

She said much, but vainly, to prevent him, and he [131] set out westward. And the Exalted One was then at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove, and announced this to the brethren: 'He who to-day shall come asking, "Where is the Conqueror eternal?" send him to me.'

And Upaka arrived, and, standing in the midst of the Vihāra, asked: 'Where is the Conqueror eternal?' So they brought him, and when he saw the Exalted One, he said: 'Dost know me, Exalted One?'

'Yea, I know. But thou, where hast thou spent the time?' 'In the Vankahāra country, lord.' 'Upaka, thou art now an old man; canst thou bear the religious life?' 'I will enter thereon, lord.'

The Master bade a certain Bhikkhu, 'Come, do thou, Bhikkhu, ordain him.' And he thereafter exercising and training himself, was soon established in the Fruition of the Path-of-No-Return, and thereupon died, being reborn in the Aviha heavens.[22] At the moment of that rebirth he attained Arahantship.

Seven have thus attained it, as it has been said.

But Cāpā, sick at heart over his departure, delivered her boy to his grandfather, and, following in the way Upaka had gone, renounced the world at Sāvatthī, and attained Arahantship. And uniting Upaka's verses with her own, she thus exulted:

(Her husband speaks.)

[291] 'Once staff in hand homeless I fared and free.
Now but a trapper am I, sunken fast
In baneful bog of earthly lusts, yet fain
To come out on the yonder side. My wife

[292] Plays with her child and mocks my former state,
Deeming her charm yet holdeth me in thrall.
But I will cut the knot and roam again.'

Cāpā

[293] 'O be not angry with me, hero mine!
O thou great prophet, be not wroth with me!
For how may he who giveth place to wrath
Attain to holy life and purity?'

[294] 'Nay, I'll go forth from Nala.[23] Who would live
At Nala now, where he who fain to lead
A life of righteousness sees holy men
Beguilèd by the beauty of a girl!'

[295] 'O turn again, my dark-eyed lover, come
And take thy fill of Cāpā's love for thee,
And I, thy slave, will meet thy every wish,
And all my kinsfolk shall thy servants be.'

[296] 'Nay, were a man desirous of thy love,
He well might glory didst thou promise him
A fourth of what thou temp'st me here withal!'

[297] 'O dark-eyed love, am I not fair to see,
As the liana swaying in the woods,
As the pomegranate-tree in fullest bloom
Growing on hill-top, or the trumpet-flower
Drooping o'er mouth of island cavern? See,

[298] With crimson sandal-wood perfumed, I'll wear
Finest Benares robe for thee — O why,
O how wilt thou go far away from me?'

[299] 'Ay! so the fowler seeketh to decoy
His bird. Parade thy charms e'en as thou wilt,
Ne'er shalt thou bind me to thee as of yore.'

[300] 'And this child-blossom, O my husband, see
Thy gift to me- — now surely thou wilt not
Forsake her who hath borne a child to thee?'

[301] 'Wise men forsake their children, wealth and kin,
Great heroes ever go forth from the world,
As elephants sever their bonds in twain.'

[302] 'Then this thy child straightway with stick or axe
I'll batter on the ground — to save thyself
From mourning for thy son thou wilt not go!'

[303] 'And if thou throw the child to jackals, wolves,
Or dogs, child-maker without ruth, e'en so
'Twill not avail to turn me back again!'

[304] 'Why, then, go if thou must, and fare thee well.
But tell me to what village wilt thou go,
What town or burg or city is thy goal?'

[305] 'In the past days we went in fellowship,
Deeming our shallow practice genuine.
Pilgrims we wandered — hamlet, city, town,
And capital — we tramped to each in turn'

[306] 'But the Exalted Buddha now doth preach,
Along the banks of the Nerañjara,[24]
The Norm whereby all may be saved from ill.
To him I go; he now my guide shall be.'

[307] 'Yea, go, and take my homage unto him
Who is the supreme Sovran of the World,
And making salutation by the right,[25]
Do thou from us to him make offering.'

[308] 'Now meet and right is this, e'en as thou say'st,
That I in doing homage, speak for thee
To him, the Supreme Sovran of the World.
And making salutation by the right,
I'll render offering for thee and me.'

[309] So Kala went to the Nerañjara,
And saw the very Buddha on the bank,
Teaching the Way Ambrosial: of Ill,

[310] And of how Ill doth rise, and how Ill may
Be overpast, and of the way thereto,
Even the Ariyan, the Eightfold Path.

[311] Low at his feet the husband homage paid,
Saluted by the right and Cāpā's vows
Presented; then the world again renounced
For homeless life; the Threefold Wisdom won,
And brought to pass the bidding of the Lord.

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This page incorporates those translations of the stories of Capa and Upaka by Michael Olds which he has released into the public domain (Copyright Statement).