MYANMARPEDIA

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Bhadda Kapilani

Posted by myanmarpedia on September 27, 2007

I. Immediate family of the Buddha
1.King Suddhodana(father)

2.Queen Maha Maya(mother)
3.Maha Pajapati Gotami(aunt and foster mother)
4.Yasodhara(cousin and wife)
5.Rahula(son)

II. Male Disciples
6.Sariputta (first chief male disciple)
7.Moggallana (second chief male disciple)
8.Ananda(cousin and personal attendant)
9.Maha Kassapa(preserver of the Dhamma)
10.Anuruddha (cousin and foremost in divine eye)
11.Maha kaccana (foremost in explaining deep and complex sayings )
12.Bakkula (foremost in good health and longevity)
13.Sivali (foremost in obtaining monastic requisites)
14.Angulimala(murderer turned saint)
15.Nanda(stepbrother)
16.Devadatta(cousin and brother-in-law)

III. Female Disciples
17.khema (first chief female disciple)
18.Uppalavanna (second chief female disciple)
19.Bhadda Kundalakesa(debating nun, foremost in quick understanding)
20.Patacara(foremost in discipline)
21.Sundari Nand (stepsister)
22.Bhadda Kapilani (foremost in recollecting past births)
23.Kisa Gotami (foremost in wearing coarse rag-robes)
24.Isidasi
25.Sona(foremost in effort)

IV. Royal Patrons
26.king Bimbisara
27.Queen mallika
28.King Pasenadi
29.Queen Samavati

V. Lay Disciples
30.Anathapindika(chief male lay disciple)
31.Visakha (chief female lay disciple)
32.Citta (foremost lay disciple in teaching the Dhamma)
33.Rohini(cousin of the Buddha)
34.Jivaka(physician)
35.Ashin-upagotes

Bhadda Kapilani

Bhadda was the former wife of Maha Kassapa. Together with her husband she led a celibate life and eventually gave up her wealth and possessions to lead the life of an ascetic in search of Truth. When Kassapa suggested that they should part ways in search of a Teacher she agreed, and taking the left fork of the road, approached Savatthi. She listened to the Dhamma of the Buddha at Jetavana but as He had not yet formed the order of the nuns she remained in a nunnery with another sect of ascetics.

It was approximately five years later that the Buddha formed the order of the nuns. Bhadda then joined the order, meditated and attained Arahanthship. At the time of the Padumuttara Buddha, Bhadda, together with her husband, had performed many meritorious deeds. Whilst Kassapa, then known as Vedeha, had been inspired by a monk who led an austere life, Bhadda had been inspired by a nun who could recollect many past births. After performing many meritorious actions, she had aspired to be the nun foremost in recollection of past births. The Padumuttara Buddha, seeing that her aspiration would be fulfilled, declared that at the time of the Gotama Buddha, one hundred thousand world cycles into the future, she would be the nun foremost in recollecting past births.

It is interesting to see the effects of the great Arahanths’ aspirations and their fulfilment. Even though Bhadda had the potential to be an Arahanth and had taken to the holy life five years prior to Maha Pajapati, she had no inclination to establish the order of the nuns. Her aspiration was to recollect aeons of past lives. This knowledge was her strength and was what she used in motivating her pupils. When studying the histories of the great disciples one realizes how varied they were in temperament and interests, how each one was inspired by different attributes, selected that which interested them and then used this faculty to help others see the Truth. Bhadda used her knowledge of past lives to interest and motivate her pupils to perform acts of merit and to strive diligently.

Also interesting are Bhadda’s past associations with Kassapa. During the era of the Buddha Padumuttara, Bhadda and Vedeha performed many wholesome deeds and at death were reborn in the heavenly realms.

The next recorded life story is many, many years later, at the time of the Buddha Vipassi, the fifth preceding Buddha, ninety-one world cycles prior to the Buddha Gotama. At that time Bhadda and Kassapa were once again husband and wife, but they were exceedingly poor. So poor, that they had only one outer garment which was of good quality. Husband and wife shared this one garment by each taking turns to go out.

At that time the Buddha Vipassi was giving a special sermon and both Bhadda and her husband, Ekasataka, wanted to hear Him speak. But as they only had one garment Bhadda went during the daytime and her husband went in the night. As the Ekasataka listened to the sermon, the value of giving and generosity became so deeply impressed in his mind that he wanted to give the only outer garment they had to the Vipassi Buddha.

But after the thought entered his mind Ekasataka started to have doubts. Thoughts rushed through his mind. “How can we manage with no outer garments? This is all we both have. Should I not consult my wife first?” Then pushing aside these doubts, he removed his outer garment and laid it at the feet of the Vipassi Buddha. Having done so he clapped his hands joyfully and cried, “I have won! I have won!” When the king, who was also in the audience, heard the cry of victory, he inquired as to what had happened. The king was overwhelmed by the poor man’s act of generosity. Making him the court chaplain he gave Ekasataka and his wife many sets of clothes.

And so the situation of the poor couple changed. Resulting from this selfless act, at death Ekasataka was reborn in a celestial realm. There he lived in splendour until the effects of his wholesome deeds wore off, whereupon he was reborn as a righteous king with Bhadda as his chief queen.

Many other past life stories are documented where Kassapa and Bhadda had been associated. Once Bhadda and Kassapa were the parents of ananda. After the aged mother of ananda’s teacher fell hopelessly in love with ananda, so much so as to plan the death of his teacher, her own son to have her lover, both Bhadda and ananda took to the life of ascetics.

On another occasion Kassapa and Bhadda had been the Brahmin parents of four sons. Bhadda’s four sons were the Bodhisatta, our Buddha Gotama, Sariputta, Moggallana and Anurudha (Jataka 509). Parents and children had all taken to the holy life of ascetics.

Also interesting is the life story at a time between Supreme Buddhas when Bhadda had wronged a Pacceka Buddha. She had quarrelled with her sister-in-law, and seeing that her sister in-law had just offered fragrant food to a Pacceka Buddha, she had taken his bowl, thrown out the food and filled it with mud. Almost immediately she had felt remorse for her action. Taking the bowl back she had washed it and refilled it with fragrant, well-prepared food.

As a kammic consequence of this action, in a subsequent birth Bhadda was born with great wealth and beauty but her body gave off an unbearable smell. Her husband, who was again Kassapa, could not stand the smell and left her. She had many other suitors because of her wealth and beauty, but none would remain with her because of her offensive odour.

During this period there had appeared in the world a fully enlightened Supreme Buddha named Kassapa. Feeling that her life was of little use Baddha sold all her property, melted down her jewellery and formed a golden brick which she donated to the shrine that was being built to hold the relics of the Kassapa Buddha, who had just passed away. As a result of this deed her body became fragrant again and her former husband took her back.

The last documented life story was where Bhadda had been the Queen of Benares and had supported many Pacceka Buddhas. Deeply moved at the sudden death of the Pacceka Buddhas she had given up her life as queen and taken to the life of an ascetic. By the powers of her renunciation and her meditative lifestyle she had been reborn in a Brahma realm. At the same time Kassapa too had been reborn in the Brahma realm. It was after this life that they had been reborn in the human world as Pippali Kassapa and Bhadda Kapilana. It was also the experience in the Brahma realm that resulted in their decision to lead a celibate life.

As an Arahanth Bhikkhuni Bhadda devoted herself to the teaching of younger nuns in monastic discipline. The Therigatha documents her praise of her former husband Kassapa and her own attainment of emancipation.

“A son of the Buddha and his rightful heir,
Kassapa who is well concentrated
Knows his abode in previous lives
The Brahmin is a triple knowledge bearer.
Just so is Bhadda Kapilani
A triple knowledge nun who has left death behind.
Having conquered mara (death) and his mount,
She lives bearing her final body.
Having seen the grave danger in the world,
We both went forth into homelessness.
Now we are destroyers of the cankers,
Tamed and cool, we have won Nibbana.”

— (Therigatha 63-66)

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3 Responses to “Bhadda Kapilani”

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  3. […] foremost in quick understanding) 20.Patacara(foremost in discipline) 21.Sundari Nand (stepsister) 22.Bhadda Kapilani (foremost in recollecting past births) 23.Kisa Gotami (foremost in wearing coarse rag-robes) […]

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