Monthly Archives: October 2016

NAKULAMATA’S LION’S ROAR

I love this story. Nakulamātā (literally, Mother of Nakula) is not only a person of accomplished inner discipline and her husband’s teacher in this instance, but she is also someone who has realized the mind’s true nature. She is at the very least what the tradition calls a ‘stream entrant.’

She tells her husband, “I am one of those who have crossed over doubt, gotten rid of bewilderment, attained self-confidence, and become independent of others in the Teacher’s teaching. If anyone has any doubt or uncertainty about this, the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One is dwelling among the Bhaggas at Suṃsumāragira, in the deer park at Bhesakalā Grove. They can go and ask him.”

She and her husband Nakulampitā (father of Nakula) are very close, as other stories about them show.

In this story, her husband is in danger of dying, and it appears that he is fretting. He is restless. The obvious cause of this is immoderate desires. So she firmly counsels him. He takes her admonition to heart and abandons his reactive states of mind, on the spot (demonstrating clearly the depth of his commitment to reality. Fretting is always a wishing for some other world.)

It would appear that the disposition of his mind played a part in his languishing in a life-threatening sickness; because he immediately improved and afterward the illness ceased altogether.

At the end of the story, Nakulampitā goes and reports the whole thing to the Buddha, who praises Nakulamātā and affirms her wisdom. In case you in doubt, lionesses do roar.

The translation is Bhikkhu Bodhi’s, from the Anguttara Nikāyā, (A.III.295ff)

16 (6) Nakula:

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Bhaggas at Suṃsumāragira, in the deer park at Bhesakalā Grove. Now on that occasion the householder Nakulapitā was sick, afflicted, gravely ill. Then the housewife Nakulamātā said this to him: “Do not die full of concern, householder. To die full of concern is painful. To die full of concern has been criticized by the Blessed One.

(1) “It may be, householder, that you think thus: ‘After I’m gone, Nakulamātā won’t be able to support our children and maintain the household.’ But you should not look at the matter in this way. I am skilled at weaving cotton and knitting wool. After you are gone, I’ll be able to support the children [296] and maintain the household. Therefore, householder, do not die full of concern. To die full of concern is painful. To die full of concern has been criticized by the Blessed One.

(2) “It may be, householder, that you think thus: ‘After I’m gone, Nakulamātā will take another husband. ‘But you should not look at the matter in this way. You know, householder, and so do I, that for the last sixteen years we have led the layperson’s celibate life. Therefore, householder, do not die full of concern. To die full of concern is painful. To die full of concern has been criticized by the Blessed One.

(3) “It may be, householder, that you think thus: ‘After I’m gone, Nakulamātā won’t want to see the Blessed One and the Saṅgha of bhikkhus.’ But you should not look at the matter in this way. After you are gone, householder, I will be even keener to see the Blessed One and the Saṅgha of bhikkhus. Therefore, householder, do not die full of concern. To die full of concern is painful. To die full of concern has been criticized by the Blessed One.

(4) “It may be, householder, that you think thus: ‘Nakulamātā does not fulfill virtuous behavior.’1279 But you should not look at the matter in this way. I am one of the Blessed One’s white-robed female lay disciples who fulfill virtuous behavior. If anyone has any doubt or uncertainty about this, the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One is dwelling among the Bhaggas at Suṃsumāragira, in the deer park at Bhesakalā Grove. They can go and ask him. Therefore, householder, do not die full of concern. [297] To die full of concern is painful. To die full of concern has been criticized by the Blessed One.

(5) “It may be, householder, that you think thus: ‘Nakulamātā does not obtain internal serenity of mind.’ But you should not look at the matter in this way. I am one of the Blessed One’s white-robed female lay disciples who obtain internal serenity of mind. If anyone has any doubt or uncertainty about this, the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One is dwelling among the Bhaggas at Suṃsumāragira, in the deer park at Bhesakalā Grove. They can go and ask him. Therefore, householder, do not die full of concern. To die full of concern is painful. To die full of concern has been criticized by the Blessed One.

(6) “It may be, householder, that you think thus: ‘Nakulamātā has not attained a foothold, a firm stand, assurance in this Dhamma and discipline; she has not crossed over doubt, gotten rid of bewilderment, attained self-confidence, and become independent of others in the Teacher’s teaching.’ But you should not look at the matter in this way. I am one of the Blessed One’s white-robed female lay disciples who have attained a foothold, a firm stand, assurance in this Dhamma and discipline; I am one of those who have crossed over doubt, gotten rid of bewilderment, attained self-confidence, and become independent of others in the Teacher’s teaching. If anyone has any doubt or uncertainty about this, the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One is dwelling among the Bhaggas at Suṃsumāragira, in the deer park at Bhesakalā Grove. They can go and ask him. Therefore, householder, do not die full of concern. To die full of concern is painful. To die full of concern has been criticized by the Blessed One.”

Then, while the householder Nakulapitā was being exhorted in this way by the housewife Nakulamātā, his ailment subsided on the spot. Nakulapitā recovered from that illness, and that is how his illness was abandoned.

Then, not long after he had recovered, the householder Nakulapitā, leaning on a staff, approached the Blessed One. He paid homage to the Blessed One and sat down to one side. The Blessed One then said to him:

“It is truly your good fortune and gain, householder, that the housewife Nakulamātā has compassion for you, desires your good, and exhorts and instructs you. Nakulamātā is one of my white-robed female lay disciples who fulfill virtuous behavior. She is one of my white-robed female lay disciples who obtain internal serenity of mind. She is one of my white-robed female lay disciples who have attained a foothold, a firm stand, assurance in this Dhamma and discipline, who have crossed over doubt, gotten rid of bewilderment, attained self-confidence, and become independent of others in the Teacher’s teaching. It is truly your good fortune and gain, householder, that the housewife Nakulamātā has compassion for you, desires your good, and exhorts and instructs you.”


 

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