Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One, Two, Three and Four (Week of May 2, 2021)

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Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One, Two, Three and Four (Week of May 2, 2021)

Post by SDC »

:reading:

To coincide with this year’s Therīgāthā Festival, the selection this week will be the Book of Ones and Book of Twos of the Therīgāthā. For those not familiar with this text, these are the sayings of senior nuns who were alive around the time of the Buddha, and just like those found in the Theragāthā (the sayings of the senior monks), these verses are about striving and victory; about the glory of what has been achieved, and the suffering that has been destroyed. Having once hailed from womanhood, from personhood, from saṃsāra, these bhikkhunī sages strove to leave it all behind; to shatter the mass of darkness and become arahants.

Enjoy. :smile:
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Re: Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One and Two (Week of May 2, 2021)

Post by SDC »

:reading:

Therīgāthā (Verses of the Senior Nuns)
Ekakanipāta (Book of Ones)
Translated by Bhikkhu Sujato and Jessica Walton




Aññatarātherīgāthā (An Unnamed Nun (1st)) Thig 1.1
  • Sleep softly, little nun,
    wrapped in the cloth you sewed yourself;
    for your desire has been quelled,
    Like vegetables boiled dry in a pot.

Muttātherīgāthā (Muttā (1st)) Thig 1.2
  • Muttā, be released from your bonds,
    like the moon released from the eclipse.
    When your mind is released,
    enjoy your alms free of debt.

    That is how the Buddha regularly advised the trainee nun Muttā with these verses.

Puṇṇātherīgāthā (Puṇṇā) Thig 1.3
  • Puṇṇā, be filled with good qualities,
    like the moon on the fifteenth day.
    When your wisdom is full,
    shatter the mass of darkness.

    That is how this verse was recited by the senior nun Puṇṇā.

Tissātherīgāthā (Tissā) Thig 1.4
  • Tissā, train in the trainings—
    don’t let the practice pass you by.
    Detached from all attachments,
    live in the world free of defilements.

Aññatarātissātherīgāthā (Another Tissā) Thig 1.5
  • Tissā, apply yourself to good qualities—
    don’t let the moment pass you by.
    For if you miss your moment,
    you’ll grieve when sent to hell.

Dhīrātherīgāthā (Dhīrā) Thig 1.6
  • Dhīrā, touch cessation,
    the blissful stilling of perception.
    Win extinguishment,
    the supreme sanctuary.

Vīrātherīgāthā (Vīrā) Thig 1.7
  • She’s known as Vīrā because of her heroic qualities,
    a nun with faculties developed.
    She bears her final body,
    having vanquished Māra and his mount.

Mittātherīgāthā (Mittā (1st)) Thig 1.8
  • Having gone forth out of faith,
    appreciate your spiritual friends, Mittā.
    Develop skillful qualities
    for the sake of finding sanctuary.

Bhadrātherīgāthā (Bhadrā) Thig 1.9
  • Having gone forth out of faith,
    appreciate your blessings, Bhadrā.
    Develop skillful qualities
    for the sake of the supreme sanctuary.

Upasamātherīgāthā (Upasamā) Thig 1.10
  • Upasamā, cross the flood,
    Death’s domain so hard to pass.
    When you have vanquished Māra and his mount,
    bear your final body.

Muttātherīgāthā (Muttā (2nd)) Thig 1.11
  • I’m well freed, so very well freed,
    freed from the three things that bent me over:
    the mortar, the pestle,
    and my humpbacked husband.
    I’m freed from birth and death;
    the attachment to rebirth is eradicated.

Dhammadinnātherīgāthā (Dhammadinnā) Thig 1.12
  • One who is eager and determined
    would be filled with awareness.
    Their mind not bound to pleasures of sense,
    they’re said to be heading upstream.

Visākhātherīgāthā (Visākhā) Thig 1.13
  • Do the Buddha’s bidding,
    you won’t regret it.
    Having quickly washed your feet,
    sit in a discreet place to meditate.

Sumanātherīgāthā (Sumanā) Thig 1.14
  • Having seen the elements as suffering,
    don’t get reborn again.
    When you’ve discarded desire for rebirth,
    you will live at peace.

Uttarātherīgāthā (Uttarā (1st)) Thig 1.15
  • I was restrained
    in body, speech, and mind.
    Having plucked out craving, root and all,
    I’m cooled and quenched.

Vuḍḍhapabbajitasumanātherīgāthi (Sumanā, Who Went Forth Late in Life) Thig 1.16
  • Sleep softly, old lady,
    wrapped in the cloth you sewed yourself;
    for your desire has been quelled,
    you’re cooled and quenched.

Dhammātherīgāthā (Dhammā) Thig 1.17
  • I wandered for alms
    though feeble, leaning on a staff.
    My limbs wobbled
    and I fell to the ground right there.
    Seeing the danger of the body,
    my mind was freed.

Saṅghātherīgāthā (Saṅghā) Thig 1.18
  • I gave up my home, my child, my cattle,
    and all that I love, and went forth.
    And now that I’ve given up desire and hate,
    dispelled ignorance,
    and plucked out craving, root and all,
    I’m at peace, I’m quenched.
    • End Book of Ones
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Re: Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One and Two (Week of May 2, 2021)

Post by SDC »

:reading:

Dukanipāta (Book of Twos)
Translated by Bhikkhu Sujato and Jessica Walton



Abhirūpanandātherīgāthā (Abhirūpanandā) Thig 2.1
  • Nandā, see this bag of bones as
    diseased, filthy, and rotten.
    With mind unified and serene,
    meditate on the ugly aspects of the body.

    Meditate on the signless,
    give up the underlying tendency to conceit;
    and when you comprehend conceit,
    you will live at peace.

    That is how the Buddha regularly advised the senior nun Nandā with these verses.

Jentātherīgāthā (Jentā) Thig 2.2
  • Of the seven awakening factors,
    the path for attaining extinguishment,
    I have developed them all,
    just as the Buddha taught.

    For I have seen the Blessed One,
    and this bag of bones is my last.
    Transmigration through births is finished,
    now there’ll be no more future lives.

    That is how these verses were recited by the senior nun Jentā.

Sumaṅgalamātātherīgāthā (Sumaṅgala’s Mother) Thig 2.3
  • I’m well freed, well freed,
    so very well freed!
    My pestle’s shameless wind was wafting;
    my little pot wafted like an eel.

    Now, as for greed and hate:
    I sear them and sizzle them up.
    Having gone to the root of a tree,
    I meditate happily, thinking, “Oh, what bliss!”

Aḍḍhakāsitherīgāthā (Aḍḍhakāsi) Thig 2.4
  • The price for my services
    amounted to the nation of Kāsi.
    By setting that price,
    the townsfolk made me priceless.

    Then, growing disillusioned with my form,
    I became dispassionate.
    Don’t journey on and on,
    transmigrating through rebirths!
    I've realized the three knowledges,
    and fulfilled the Buddha’s instructions.

Cittātherīgāthā (Cittā) Thig 2.5
  • Though I’m skinny,
    sick, and very feeble,
    I climb the mountain,
    leaning on a staff.

    Having laid down my outer robe,
    and overturned my bowl,
    propping myself against a rock,
    I shattered the mass of darkness.

Mettikātherīgāthā (Mettikā) Thig 2.6
  • Though in pain,
    feeble, my youth long gone,
    I climb the mountain,
    leaning on a staff.

    Having laid down my outer robe
    and overturned my bowl,
    sitting on a rock,
    my mind was freed.
    I’ve attained the three knowledges,
    and fulfilled the Buddha’s instructions.

Mittātherīgāthā (Mittā (2nd)) Thig 2.7
  • I rejoice in the host of gods,
    having observed the sabbath
    complete in all eight factors,
    on the fourteenth and the fifteenth days,

    and the eighth day of the fortnight,
    as well as on the fortnightly special displays.
    Today I eat just once a day,
    my head is shaven, I wear the outer robe.
    I don’t long for the host of gods,
    for stress has been removed from my heart.

Abhayamātutherīgāthā (Abhaya’s Mother) Thig 2.8
  • My dear mother, I examined this body,
    up from the soles of the feet,
    and down from the tips of the hairs,
    so impure and foul-smelling.

    Meditating like this,
    all my lust is eradicated.
    The fever of passion is cut off,
    I’m cooled and quenched.

Abhayātherīgāthā (Abhayā) Thig 2.9
  • Abhayā, the body is fragile,
    yet ordinary people are attached to it.
    I'll lay down the body,
    aware and mindful.

    Though subject to so many painful things,
    I have, through my love of diligence,
    reached the ending of craving,
    and fulfilled the Buddha’s instructions.

Sāmātherīgāthā (Sāmā) Thig 2.10
  • Four or five times
    I left my dwelling.
    I had failed to find peace of heart,
    or any control over my mind.
    Now it is the eighth night
    since craving was eradicated.

    Though subject to so many painful things,
    I have, through my love of diligence,
    reached the ending of craving,
    and fulfilled the Buddha’s instructions.
    • End Book of Twos
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Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One and Two (Week of May 2, 2021)

Post by SDC »

Thoughts?
  • Is anyone reading this text for the first time? Impressions?
  • Favorites? Thig 1.5 was a gut punch the first time I read it. I find those direct descriptions to very effective.
  • I also enjoy the brevity of these shorter sayings, which is naturally less prevalent in the longer, narrative form found in the latter verses of the text.
Looking forward to discussing the verses. :smile:
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Re: Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One and Two (Week of May 2, 2021)

Post by mikenz66 »

Thanks, SDC,

Of those, 1.1 and 2.5 particularly resonate with me. They give the feel of real people speaking to me from 2500 years ago. You're right that these short verses are very powerful.

:heart:
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Re: Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One and Two (Week of May 2, 2021)

Post by pegembara »

SDC wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 3:36 am Thoughts?
  • Is anyone reading this text for the first time? Impressions?
  • Favorites? Thig 1.5 was a gut punch the first time I read it. I find those direct descriptions to very effective.
  • I also enjoy the brevity of these shorter sayings, which is naturally less prevalent in the longer, narrative form found in the latter verses of the text.
Looking forward to discussing the verses. :smile:
A straightforward read tells you what the teachings actually meant. All basically pointing to the same message over and over again. Quite inspiring.

I like these-

Dhīrātherīgāthā (Dhīrā) Thig 1.6
Dhīrā, touch cessation,
the blissful stilling of perception.
Win extinguishment,
the supreme sanctuary.

Vīrātherīgāthā (Vīrā) Thig 1.7
She’s known as Vīrā because of her heroic qualities,
a nun with faculties developed.
She bears her final body,
having vanquished Māra and his mount.
Last edited by pegembara on Sun May 02, 2021 5:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One and Two (Week of May 2, 2021)

Post by DooDoot »

SDC wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 3:34 am
Muttātherīgāthā (Muttā (2nd)) Thig 1.11
  • I’m well freed, so very well freed,
    freed from the three things that bent me over:
    the mortar, the pestle,
    and my humpbacked husband.
    I’m freed from birth and death;
    the attachment to rebirth is eradicated.
Jentātherīgāthā (Jentā) Thig 2.2
  • Of the seven awakening factors,
    the path for attaining extinguishment,
    I have developed them all,
    just as the Buddha taught.

    For I have seen the Blessed One,
    and this bag of bones is my last.
    Transmigration through births is finished,
    now there’ll be no more future lives.
Sujato forgot to translate "jati" above as "rebirth". Possibly notify the Venerable.
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Re: Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One and Two (Week of May 2, 2021)

Post by asahi »

First time reading , yes enough for the sufferings , we need to live at peace .


Thig 1.14

Having seen the elements as suffering,
don’t get reborn again.
When you’ve discarded desire for rebirth,
you will live at peace.


And i like "I’m cooled and quenched" .
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Re: Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One and Two (Week of May 2, 2021)

Post by Sam Vara »

SDC wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 3:36 am Thoughts?
  • Is anyone reading this text for the first time? Impressions?
  • Favorites? Thig 1.5 was a gut punch the first time I read it. I find those direct descriptions to very effective.
  • I also enjoy the brevity of these shorter sayings, which is naturally less prevalent in the longer, narrative form found in the latter verses of the text.
Looking forward to discussing the verses. :smile:
Thank you for this selection. I'm not familiar with them and they are extremely beautiful. I was immediately arrested by Thig. 1.5, and thought I would mention it in the comments; then I thought that just registering my preferences was a bit lame and so I decided not to bother; and then I saw your comment and I'm glad we agree!

What's interesting here is how they are cumulative in their effect. They don't follow on in a coherent thread, but reading one seems to open you up and make you strangely vulnerable. And in that state, the others then have a different sort of effect. I also loved Thig. 1.6, but I think it impressed me because I had just read 1.5, and was somehow more open to it.

It's also really refreshing to have a topic that doesn't immediately provoke disputes and wrangling about meaning and doctrine. (Although I'm sure someone will be along soon to prove me wrong!) You either "get" these, or you don't. In that respect, the concluding line to Thig. 1.2:
That is how the Buddha regularly advised the trainee nun Muttā with these verses.
is very powerful. I have the image of the very elderly Muttā being questioned by monks, and her simple recollection:
Muttā, be released from your bonds,
like the moon released from the eclipse.
When your mind is released,
enjoy your alms free of debt.
That's all she could remember, or thought was useful, or could be bothered to say. And she remembered that the Blessed One called her by name.

Thanks, SDC! :heart: :anjali:
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Re: Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One and Two (Week of May 2, 2021)

Post by JohnK »

SDC wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 3:35 am :reading:

Dukanipāta (Book of Twos)
Translated by Bhikkhu Sujato

...
Sumaṅgalamātātherīgāthā (Sumaṅgala’s Mother) Thig 2.3
  • ...
    My pestle’s shameless wind was wafting;
    my little pot wafted like an eel.

    Now, as for greed and hate:
    I sear them and sizzle them up...
Wondering about the imagery here. Is it a literal pestle -- releasing entrancing aromas of ground spices? Is it the aroma from the contents of the pot? Is the first verse indicative of previous entrancement or is desire already beginning to waft away? (Is one greed and one hate or are the two lines not related in that way?) Or are the pestle and the pot symbolic of something else? Are these images found in other places in the canon that would clarify? I get the "sizzle them up" as previously described in Thig 1.1.
:anjali:
Edit: I was familiar with some of these but not all (from Thanissaro Bhikkhu's collection).
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Re: Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One and Two (Week of May 2, 2021)

Post by Sam Vara »

JohnK wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 2:55 pm
SDC wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 3:35 am :reading:

Dukanipāta (Book of Twos)
Translated by Bhikkhu Sujato

...
Sumaṅgalamātātherīgāthā (Sumaṅgala’s Mother) Thig 2.3
  • ...
    My pestle’s shameless wind was wafting;
    my little pot wafted like an eel.

    Now, as for greed and hate:
    I sear them and sizzle them up...
Wondering about the imagery here. Is it a literal pestle -- releasing entrancing aromas of ground spices? Is it the aroma from the contents of the pot? Is the first verse indicative of previous entrancement or is desire already beginning to waft away? (Is one greed and one hate or are the two lines not related in that way?) Or are the pestle and the pot symbolic of something else? Are these images found in other places in the canon that would clarify? I get the "sizzle them up" as previously described in Thig 1.1.
:anjali:
Yes, I wondered about that, and in particular whether the mortar and pestle might be some kind of sexual imagery. But here is Thanissaro's alternative translation:
So freed! So freed!

So thoroughly freed am I—

from my pestle,

my shameless husband

& his sun-shade making,

my moldy old pot

with its water-snake smell.

Aversion & passion

I cut with a chop.

Having come to the foot of a tree,

I do jhāna, from the bliss thinking:

“What bliss!”
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Re: Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One and Two (Week of May 2, 2021)

Post by JohnK »

Also:
SDC wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 3:34 am Muttātherīgāthā (Muttā (2nd)) Thig 1.11
  • I’m well freed, so very well freed,
    freed from the three things that bent me over:
    the mortar, the pestle,
    and my humpbacked husband.
    I’m freed from birth and death;
    the attachment to rebirth is eradicated.
Here, I was thinking mortar and pestle were just indicative of the householder life of food prep.
Edit: As in Theragatha 1:43 -- 3 crooked things: sickles, shovels and plows (per Thanissaro Bhikkhu).
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Re: Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One and Two (Week of May 2, 2021)

Post by Sam Vara »

JohnK wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 3:10 pm Also:
SDC wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 3:34 am Muttātherīgāthā (Muttā (2nd)) Thig 1.11
  • I’m well freed, so very well freed,
    freed from the three things that bent me over:
    the mortar, the pestle,
    and my humpbacked husband.
    I’m freed from birth and death;
    the attachment to rebirth is eradicated.
Here, I was thinking mortar and pestle were just indicative of the householder life of food prep.
Edit: As in Theragatha 1:43 -- 3 crooked things: sickles, shovels and plows (per Thanissaro Bhikkhu).
Yes, I think that's so. Symbols of the endless and wearying need for consumption.
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Re: Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One and Two (Week of May 2, 2021)

Post by JohnK »

Sam Vara wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 3:02 pm
JohnK wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 2:55 pm ...
Yes, I wondered about that, and in particular whether the mortar and pestle might be some kind of sexual imagery. But here is Thanissaro's alternative translation:
So freed! So freed!

So thoroughly freed am I—

from my pestle,

my shameless husband

& his sun-shade making,

my moldy old pot

with its water-snake smell.

Aversion & passion

I cut with a chop.

Having come to the foot of a tree,

I do jhāna, from the bliss thinking:

“What bliss!”
His translation seems even more like it is sexual imagery -- unless it's just my dirty mind!
Edit: I've always thought my mind was dirtier than my body, but these verses remind me that the teachings tell me to contemplate the body as dirty, too.
Edit again: Contemplating the body as dirty is really to cleanse the mind of attachment.
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Re: Therīgāthā, The Verses of the Elder Bhikkhunīs, Book One and Two (Week of May 2, 2021)

Post by Sam Vara »

JohnK wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 3:22 pm His translation seems even more like it is sexual imagery -- unless it's just my dirty mind!
Edit: I've always thought my mind was dirtier than my body, but these verses remind me that the teachings tell me to contemplate the body as dirty, too.
Edit again: Contemplating the body as dirty is really to cleanse the mind of attachment.
Looking at the translation with word look-up is quite interesting.

https://suttacentral.net/thig2.3/en/sujato

There seems to be quite a lot of guesswork and filling in. It shows what fragile little fragments these sayings are, where there is no sustained argument to provide context.
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