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Kisa Gotami

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Kisa Gotami and the Buddha

Kisa Gotami [alt. Krisha Gotami] was a female disciple of the Buddha. Before meeting the Buddha, she was married to a wealthy man of Savatthi and had a child. Her child died and she became overcome with grief. Her sorrow was so great that many thought she had lost her mind. An old man told her to see the Buddha. The Buddha told her that he could bring the child back to life if she could bring him a mustard seed from any family in the city where no one had died. She desperately went from house to house, but to her disappointment, she could not find a house that had not suffered the death of a family member. Finally the realization struck her that there is no house free from death. She returned to the Buddha, who comforted her and preached to her the truth. She was awakened and entered the first stage of enlightenment. Eventually, she became an arhat.

The following Dhammapada verse[1] is associated with her story:

Though one should live a hundred years
without seeing the Deathless State,
yet better indeed, is a single day's life
of one who sees the Deathless State.

In the "Gotami Sutta" (SN 5.3), Bhikkhuni Kisa Gotami declares:

I've gotten past the killing of [my] sons,
have made that the end
to [my search for] men.
I don't grieve,
I don't weep....
It's everywhere destroyed — delight.
The mass of darkness is shattered.
Having defeated the army of death,
free of fermentations I dwell.[2]

Notes

  1. Dhammapada, Ch. VIII, verse 114. See, for instance, Buddharakkhita (1996).[1]
  2. Thanissaro (1998).

Bibliography

  • Buddharakkhita, Acharya (1998). Sahassavagga: The Thousands (Dhp VIII). Available on-line at [2]
  • Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1998). Gotami Sutta: Sister Gotami (SN 5.3). Available on-line at [3]
  • C. Rhys Davids and K. Norman: Poems of Early Buddhist Nuns, Pali Text Society, pp. 88–9. Retaken at: [4]
  • Wendy Garling (2016), Stars at Dawn: Forgotten Stories of Women in the Buddha's Life, Shambhala Publications, pp. 95–106.