The story of Theri Khema, chief female disciple of Buddha

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The story of Theri Khema, chief female disciple of Buddha

Postby Nori » Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:12 am

I read this story on another forum, thought others might be interested..


The Story of Theri Khema

While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (347) of this book (Dhammapada), with reference to Queen Khema.

Queen Khema was the chief queen of King Bimbisara. She was very beautiful and also very proud.

The king wanted her to go to the Veluvana monastery and pay homage to the Buddha. But she had heard that the Buddha always talked disparagingly about beauty and she therefore tried to avoid seeing the Buddha.

The king understood her attitude towards the Buddha; he also know how proud she was of her beauty. So the king ordered his minstrels to sing in praise of the Veluvana monastery, about its pleasant and peaceful atmosphere, etc. Hearing them, Queen Khema became interested and decided to set out for the Veluvana monastery.

When Queen Khema arrived at the monastery, the Buddha was expounding the Dhamma to an audience. By his supernormal power, the Buddha made a very beautiful young lady appear, sitting not far from him, and fanning him. When Queen Khema came to the audience hall, she alone saw the beautiful young lady. Comparing the exquisite beauty of the young lady to that of her own, Khema realised that her beauty was much inferior to that of the young lady. As she looked again intently at the young lady her beauty began to fade gradually. In the end, she saw before her eyes an old decrepit being, which again changed into a corpse, her stinking body being attacked by maggots. At that instant, Queen Khema realized the impermanence and worthlessness of beauty.

The Buddha knowing the state of her mind remarked, "O Khema! Look carefully at this decaying body which is built around a skeleton of bones and is subject to disease and decay. Look carefully at the body which is thought of so highly by the foolish. Look at the worthlessness of the beauty of this young girl." After hearing this, Queen Khema attained Sotapatti Fruition.

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
Verse 347: Beings who are infatuated with lust, fall back into the Stream of Craving they have generated, just as a spider does in the web it has spun. The Wise, cutting off the bond of craving, walk on resolutely, leaving, all ills (dukkha) behind.

At the end of the discourse Queen Khema attained arahatship and was admitted to the Order and became the Chief Female Disciple of the Buddha.

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The Story of Theri Khema *

While residing at the Gijjhakuta hill, the Buddha uttered Verse (403), with reference to Theri Khema.

One night, Sakka, king of the devas, came with his followers to pay homage to the Buddha. While they were with the Buddha, Theri Khema, by her supernormal power, also came through the sky to pay homage to the Buddha. But because Sakka and his company were there with the Buddha, she just paid obeisance to the Buddha, and soon left him. Sakka asked the Buddha who that bhikkhuni was and the Buddha replied, "She is one of my pre-eminent disciples; she is known as Theri Khema. She is matchless amongst the bhikkhunis in wisdom and she knows how to differentiate the right way from the wrong way."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 403. Him I call a brahmana, who is wise and is profound in his knowledge, who knows the right way from the wrong way, and who has attained the highest goal (i.e., arahatship).

* See also Chapter XXIV, Verse 347.
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Han: Theri Khemaa was given the etadagga (the foremost) by the Buddha for high wisdom (mahaa pa~n~naa).
The Buddha said: "Etadagga.m, bhikkhave, mama saavikaana.m bhikkhuniina.m mahaapa~n~naana.m yadida.m Khemaa."


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Btw: These stories are not from the Tipitaka, they were introduced later. I am not sure what the source.
Nori
 
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Re: The story of Theri Khema, chief female disciple of Buddha

Postby Akuma » Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:37 am

In case you havent seen it, maybe this is of interest to complement the story:

http://www.rinpoche.com/stories/khematheri.htm
Akuma
 
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Location: NRW, Germany


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