When I read this wonderful story, I wish to play this beautiful song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0TsYdlIuYs
and offer lots of beautiful fragrance flowers to show my admiration to Theri Khema (just like when Pancasikha-deva played songs to please the Buddha). I love this story very very much. Theri Khema: The Most Beautiful Etadagga
[ Selected, arranged & written by Gaby Hollmann, June 2006 ]
The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society in London published an article in 1893 entitled, Women Leaders of the Buddhist Reformation that offered a translation of Manoratha Purani, Buddhaghosa’s Commentary on the Anguttara Nikaya by Mabel Bode.Maha Buddhaghosas’s Commentary on the fourth chapter of the Anguttara Nikaya tells us that:
A very long time ago Khema was born in the city Hamsavati that was ruled by the Buddha Padumuttara and – independent of all Great Arhats who had done likewise - made her first resolve to attain perfect realization then. Upon seeing one of “the two chief disciples of that Blessed One going his round for alms, she gave him three sweet meats. And that very day, she had her own hair cut off, and bartered it for gifts which she gave to the Elder, uttering the prayer: ‘Hereafter, at some time when a Buddha appears in the world, may I become full of wisdom like you.’
“Thenceforth, spending her life zealous in good works and wandering from world to world among gods and men for a hundred thousand aeons, she re-entered existence at the time of Buddha Kassapa in the palace of Kiki, King of Kasi, as one among seven sisters; and for twenty thousand years she lived there a life of chastity and, with her sisters, had a dwelling place built for the Blessed One.”
Hellmut Hecker, a remarkable scholar on life-stories of Great Arhats, wrote, “Another time – so it is told – she was daughter-in-law of the Bodhisatta (Jataka 397), many times a great Empress who dreamt about receiving teaching from the Bodhisatta and then actually was taught by him (Jataka 501, 502, 534). It is further recounted that as a Queen she was always the wife of who was later Sariputta, who said about her: ‘Of equal status is the wife, obedient, speaking only loving words with children, beauty, fame, garlanded, she always listens to my words.’ (Jataka 502, 534.)
“This husband in former lives was a righteous king, who upheld the ten royal virtues: Generosity, morality, renunciation, truthfulness, gentleness, patience, amity, harmlessness, humility, justice. Because of these virtues the king lived in happiness and bliss. Khema, too, lived in accordance with these precepts. Only because Khema had already purified her heart and perfected it in these virtues in many past lives, she was now mature enough and had such pure and tranquil emotions that she could accept the ultimate Truth in the twinkling of an eye.”
Maha Buddhaghosa continued: “Then, having passed the interval between that time and the birth of the next Buddha, wandering from life to life in the worlds of gods and men, she was reborn in the time of this Our Buddha in the royal family in the city of Sagala in the Maddha Country (Magadha).
“Now when she came of age, she entered the household of King Bimbisara. The king thought to himself, ‘I am a chief supporter of the Master. Yet she, the consort of so leading a disciple, does not go to see him who has the ten Powers of Wisdom. I don’t like it.’” So the king had an idea, a tale recounted in The Dhammapada:
King Bimbisara asked Khema to go to the monastery at Jetavana to pay homage to Lord Buddha, but she had heard that the Buddha always spoke disparagingly about beauty and therefore avoided him. Knowing this, the king asked his musicians to sing praises of the monastery. They did and their songs roused Khema’s curiosity. Aware of her thoughts when she arrived, Lord Buddha created a celestial nymph who fanned him while he was teaching the Dharma. Only Khema perceived the heavenly maiden and saw her fade and wither away; in the end only a corpse was left to be seen. Khema instantly realized the truth of impermanence.
Lord Buddha then told her, ‘O Khema. Look carefully at this decayed body which is now only a skeleton of bones and had always been subject to disease and decay. Look carefully at the body which the foolish cherish so much. Look at the worthlessness of this young woman’s beauty.’
Having listened attentively, Queen Khema attained sotapatti fruition. Then the Buddha spoke the verse: “Beings who are infatuated with lust fall back into the stream of the craving they create, and they resemble a spider trapped in the web it has spun. The wise, having vanquished craving, go the way with determination and leave all ill behind.” Having listened attentively, Queen Khema became an Arhat.
Maha Buddhaghosa wrote: “Now, he who attains to Arhatship while he is yet a layman must pass away in death that very day or enter the religious life. She therefore, understanding that the end of her days was near, thought to herself, ‘I will ask permission to forsake the world myself.’ And, making obeisance to the Buddha, she returned to the palace and, saluting the king, stood before him. The king, feeling from her very manner that she had reached the noble state of Arahatship, said to her, ‘Queen, have you then really been to see the Blessed One?’ She answered, ‘Oh great king. What you have seen is of little moment. But to me the Blessed One has been fully revealed, even to the utmost. I pray you, let me forsake the world!’ And the king granted her request and sent her in a golden palanquin to the bhikkhunis place, where she should dwell.
“Now afterwards, the Master, seated at Jetavana, when assigning places, one after the other, to the Bhikkhunis, gave to Theri Khema the etadagga among those who are gifted with great wisdom.”
Love Buddha's dhamma,