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The Story of Khujjuttara – Lions Roar

Wendy Garling tells the story of one of many Buddha’s foremost feminine lay disciples, Khujjuttara, and her early contributions to the survival of the buddhadharma.

Khujjuttara and Somavati (element), Wat Pho. Photograph by Anandajoti Bhikkhu.

No different single factor exists
Just like the hindrance of delusion,
Which so obstructs humankind
And makes it wander eternally.

Those that have deserted delusion,
Cleaving via this mass of darkness,
Not roam and wander on;
In them the trigger is discovered no extra.

—Khujjuttara, as quoted within the Itivuttaka of the Pali canon, translated by John Eire, BPS Pariyatti Editions, 1996

I dwell on the coastal panorama of New England, the place one among my favourite actions is taking a stick and poking alongside the wrack line of the seashore, trying via the flotsam and jetsam deposited by the earlier excessive tide. The same old bounty consists of soggy seaweed, a miscellany of damaged shells, and tangled plastic detritus. I’m thrilled by the smallest victory: a fraction of finely honed sea glass, a rusty hinge off an previous ship. On the uncommon event, there’ll even be a treasure just like the tiny, scarlet chunk of Mediterranean coral I discovered at one grungy boat touchdown.

Not too long ago, the beachcomber in me has turned to researching the primary era of Buddhist girls, combing and sifting via the tales of the ladies who lived within the time of the Buddha. Every kind of treasures have turned up alongside the best way. At every flip, I really feel nearer to those girls as I peer into their lives, think about their worlds, and really feel their worlds contact mine. Dwelling in a person’s world wasn’t simple again then. Dwelling in a world raging with social injustice wasn’t simple both. The ladies at the moment had life experiences in some ways like ours in the present day. Additionally they had the Buddha. What do we discover in these tales when all of those worlds collide?

Khujjuttara’s extraordinary contribution is worthy of our deepest respect and gratitude.

A favourite story that has lately crept into my coronary heart and apply is the story of Khujjuttara, an enslaved lady who labored within the royal family of Queen Samavati of Kosambi. The story tells us that Khujjuttara was extraordinarily intelligent and succesful. We’re additionally informed she was “ugly” and impaired by a curved backbone. Because the story opens, her thoughts is as crooked as her physique since she is a thief. Every day the Queen provides her eight gold cash to purchase flowers available in the market and every day Khujjuttara places 4 cash in her pocket and returns to the palace with 4 cash price of flowers. This goes on for a while. The Queen, famend for her variety and mild coronary heart, suspects the deception, however says nothing.

At some point Khujjuttara goes to city to purchase flowers and comes throughout the Buddha giving a discourse. She turns into transfixed, listening to each phrase as if it had been meant only for her. On the spot, her thoughts transforms and she or he attains “stream entry,” a direct expertise of nirvana. She turns into joyfully imbued with an unshakable religion within the Triple Gem. With remorse for her long-held dishonesty, she spends all eight cash on an abundance of flowers that she returns to the Queen, whereas confessing her earlier transgressions and explaining her change of coronary heart. The delighted Queen invitations Khujjuttara to share the Buddha’s instructing with the 5 hundred women of the harem and instructs {that a} magnificent, excessive seat be ready for the event. She bathes Khujjuttara in perfumed water and attire her within the best material.

And so Khujjuttara’s fortunes had been eternally modified. It was her job to attend the Buddha’s teachings every time he preached close by and repeat them verbatim again on the palace. So eager was her reminiscence and adept was her talent in instructing that Khujjuttara introduced the Queen and all 5 hundred girls to stream entry. Not a lowly servant, she was revered as “mom” and dharma instructor to all of them.

The attain of Khujjuttara’s teachings was immeasurable. As she taught the Queen, so the Queen taught the King, and over time your complete kingdom transformed to the brand new religion. Totally conscious of Khujjuttara’s pre-eminence as a feminine lay instructor, the Buddha cited her “Foremost Amongst These Who Are Realized” as famous within the Anguttaranikaya within the Pali canon. An analogous listing within the Chinese language Ekottarikagama, names her “Foremost of These … who’re Supreme in Knowledge.” Additional, the Buddha admonished his lay disciples to carry her up as a job mannequin to encourage their daughters: “Expensive, it is best to turn into like Khujjuttara the lay follower … for that is the usual and criterion for my feminine lay disciples….”

Khujjuttara’s flawless reminiscence, similar to Ananda’s, was so correct that her teachings had been deemed buddhavacana, with 112 sutras spoken by her comprising the Itivuttaka within the Pali canon. A number of of those are actually distinctive as they comprise passages with out counterpart amongst different Pali discourses. Along with her mixed abilities of good recall and peerless instruction — the requisites for survival of the buddhadharma at the moment — Khujjuttara’s extraordinary contribution is worthy of our deepest respect and gratitude.


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