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The Story of Khujjuttara – Lions Roar

Wendy Garling tells the story of one of the Buddha’s foremost feminine lay disciples, Khujjuttara, and her early contributions to the survival of the buddhadharma.

Khujjuttara and Somavati (element), Wat Pho. Photo by Anandajoti Bhikkhu.

No different single factor exists
Like the hindrance of delusion,
Which so obstructs humankind
And makes it wander without end.

Those who’ve deserted delusion,
Cleaving via this mass of darkness,
No longer roam and wander on;
In them the trigger is discovered no extra.

—Khujjuttara, as quoted within the Itivuttaka of the Pali canon, translated by John Ireland, BPS Pariyatti Editions, 1996

I stay on the coastal panorama of New England, the place one of my favourite actions is taking a stick and poking alongside the wrack line of the seashore, wanting via the flotsam and jetsam deposited by the earlier excessive tide. The common bounty consists of soggy seaweed, a miscellany of damaged shells, and tangled plastic detritus. I’m thrilled by the smallest victory: a fraction of finely honed sea glass, a rusty hinge off an outdated ship. On the uncommon event, there’ll even be a treasure just like the tiny, scarlet chunk of Mediterranean coral I discovered at one grungy boat touchdown.

Recently, the beachcomber in me has turned to researching the primary technology of Buddhist girls, combing and sifting via the tales of the ladies who lived within the time of the Buddha. All varieties of treasures have turned up alongside the way in which. At every flip, I really feel nearer to those girls as I peer into their lives, think about their worlds, and really feel their worlds contact mine. Living in a person’s world wasn’t straightforward again then. Living in a world raging with social injustice wasn’t straightforward both. The girls at the moment had life experiences in some ways like ours at this time. They additionally had the Buddha. What do we discover in these tales when all of these worlds collide?

Khujjuttara’s extraordinary contribution is worthy of our deepest respect and gratitude.

A favourite story that has lately crept into my coronary heart and apply is the story of Khujjuttara, an enslaved girl who labored within the royal family of Queen Samavati of Kosambi. The story tells us that Khujjuttara was extraordinarily intelligent and succesful. We’re additionally instructed she was “ugly” and impaired by a curved backbone. As the story opens, her thoughts is as crooked as her physique since she is a thief. Each day the Queen offers her eight gold cash to purchase flowers out there and every day Khujjuttara places 4 cash in her pocket and returns to the palace with 4 cash value of flowers. This goes on for a while. The Queen, famend for her form and delicate coronary heart, suspects the deception, however says nothing.

One day Khujjuttara goes to city to purchase flowers and comes throughout the Buddha giving a discourse. She turns into transfixed, listening to each phrase as if it have been meant only for her. On the spot, her thoughts transforms and she or he attains “stream entry,” a direct expertise of nirvana. She turns into joyfully imbued with an unshakable religion within the Triple Gem. With remorse for her lengthy-held dishonesty, she spends all eight cash on an abundance of flowers that she returns to the Queen, whereas confessing her earlier transgressions and explaining her change of coronary heart. The delighted Queen invitations Khujjuttara to share the Buddha’s instructing with the 5 hundred girls of the harem and instructs {that a} magnificent, excessive seat be ready for the event. She bathes Khujjuttara in perfumed water and clothes her within the most interesting fabric.

And so Khujjuttara’s fortunes have been without end modified. It was her process to attend the Buddha’s teachings every time he preached close by and repeat them verbatim again on the palace. So eager was her reminiscence and adept was her ability in instructing that Khujjuttara introduced the Queen and all 5 hundred girls to stream entry. No longer a lowly servant, she was revered as “mother” and dharma instructor to all of them.

The attain of Khujjuttara’s teachings was immeasurable. As she taught the Queen, so the Queen taught the King, and over time the whole kingdom transformed to the brand new religion. Fully conscious of Khujjuttara’s pre-eminence as a feminine lay instructor, the Buddha cited her “Foremost Among Those Who Are Learned” as famous within the Anguttaranikaya within the Pali canon. An identical checklist within the Chinese Ekottarikagama, names her “Foremost of Those … who are Supreme in Wisdom.” Further, the Buddha admonished his lay disciples to carry her up as a task mannequin to encourage their daughters: “Dear, you should become like Khujjuttara the lay follower … for this is the standard and criterion for my female lay disciples….”

Khujjuttara’s flawless reminiscence, akin to Ananda’s, was so correct that her teachings have been deemed buddhavacana, with 112 sutras spoken by her comprising the Itivuttaka within the Pali canon. Several of these are really distinctive as they include passages with out counterpart amongst different Pali discourses. With her mixed abilities of good recall and peerless instruction — the requisites for survival of the buddhadharma at the moment — Khujjuttara’s extraordinary contribution is worthy of our deepest respect and gratitude.


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