10.1 Kisāgotamī Therī (213-223)


213. The state of having noble friends has been praised by the sage with reference to the world; if he resorted to noble friends, even a fool would be wise.

214. Good men are to be resorted to; in this way the wisdom of those who resort to them increases. Resorting to good men one would be released from all pains.

215. One should know pain, and the uprising of pain, and its cessation, and the eightfold way, even the four noble truths.

2 16. The state of women has been said to be painful by the charioteer of men who are to be tamed; even the state of being a co-wife is painful; some, having given birth once,

217. even cut their throats; [some] tender ones take poisons; [some] having entered the belly are murderers; both suffer misfortunes.

218. Going along, about to bring forth, I saw my husband dead; having given birth on the path, I had not yet arrived at my own house.

219. Two sons dead and a husband dead upon the path for miserable me; mother and father and brother were burning upon one pyre.

220. Miserable woman, with family annihilated, you have suffered immeasurable pain; and you have shed tears for many thousands of births.

221. I dwelt in the middle of the cemetery; then the flesh of my sons was caused to be eaten; with my family destroyed, despised by all, with [my] husband dead, I attained the death-free.

222. I have developed the noble eightfold way leading to the death-free; I have realized quenching; I have looked at the doctrine as a mirror.

223. I have my dart cut out, my burden laid down; I have done that which was to be done. The therī Kisāgotamī, with mind completely released, has said this.


A child dead.

And a mad search for a magic seed.

It’s a story as old as dust.

Brave up, my sisters.

The day will come

when you run

from house

to house.

People will meet you at the door,

look you in the eye,

and they won’t let you in.

I’m sorry, they’ll say.

But we can’t help you.


When everyone you love is gone,

when everything you have

has been taken away,

you’ll find the Path



every rock

on the


These are the words of Kisagotami.


1 comment

  1. Apart from a vague idea of a dead child and a journey, this is completely different. The text depicts Kisagotami as a teacher who cares greatly about the details of the Dhamma and repeatedly cites her own teacher. When she does so, she does it accurately: the things she says are in the Dhamma are in fact found in the Dhamma. She cares about getting it right, a concern that Weingast eliminates for obvious reasons. Apart from mentioning a dead child, Weingast’s poem systematically removes all the details of the Buddha’s teachings and the historical specifics of the context. He elides the horror and madness of Kisagotami’s words, with its detailed descriptions of the sufferings of women (and its awareness that the Buddha was sensitive to such suffering). He eliminates rebirth as usual, thus completely misrepresenting the nature of Kisagotami’s journey. Instead of an endless series of horrifying tragedies over countless lives, Weingast imagines that her worst fear is being ignored by her neighbors. In Weingast’s fantasy, Kisagotami has lost all her danger, her knowledge, and her accomplishments, and has become a suburban housewife. He goes on to propose the dangerous and false idea that Dhamma will come to you when everything has been taken away. In Kisagotami’s life, yes, that is what happened. But there are plenty of people who came to the Dhamma without losing everything, and plenty more who lost everything and found no wisdom but only despair. Kisagotami is telling the story of her life; Weingast makes it into a platitude. His poem then ends with the falsehood that these are the words of Kisagotami.

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