13.3 Cāpā Therī (291-311)

This set of verses is a conversation. It may be easier to follow in Ven. Gnanananda’s translation where the speakers are noted. See below. In Weingast’s version they seem to be all spoken by the bhikkhuni.

Norman

291. “Formerly I carried an ascetic’s staff; now I am a deer-hunter; because of craving I have not been able to go from the terrible mire to that far shore.

292. “Thinking me very enamoured of her, Cape has kept our son happy; having cut Cāpā’s bond I shall go forth again.”

293. “Do not be angry with me, great hero; do not be angry with me, great sage; for there is no purity for one overcome by anger, how much less is there austerity.”

294. “I shall indeed go out from Nālā; who will live here at Nālā? At Nala women bind ascetics who live in accordance with the doctrine, by means of their figure[s].”

295. “Come, Kāḷa, tum back, enjoy sensual pleasures as before; I shall be under your control, and also whatever relatives I have.”

296. “If indeed a quarter of this were as you say, Cāpā, truly that would be excellent for a man in love with you.”

297. “Kāḷa, like a sprouting Takkārī tree in flower on the crest of a mountain, like a flowering Dālikā creeper, like a Pāṭalī tree in the middle of an island,

298. “with my body smeared with yellow sandalwood paste, wearing my best muslin garments, being beautiful, why do you go away abandoning me ‘?”

299. “Just as a fowler wishes to snare a bird, so do you by means of your charming figure; but you will not fasten me.”

300. “But this child-fruit of mine, Kāḷa, begotten by you, why do you go away abandoning me with this child?”

301. “Wise men leave their sons and their relatives and their wealth; great heroes go forth, like an elephant which has broken its fastening.”

302. “Now I shall knock down to the ground on the spot this son of yours, with stick or knife; because of grief for your son you will not go.”

303. “If you give our son to the jackals and dogs, you will not tum me back again for the child’s sake, you wretched one.”

304. “Then fare you well now. Where will you go, Kāḷa? To what village, town, city, royal capital ?”

305. “Formerly we were leaders of groups, not ascetics although thinking ourselves ascetics; we wandered from village to village, to cities and royal capitals.

306. “But it will be different now, for the blessed one, the Buddha, alongside the River Nerañjara, has taught the doctrine to living creatures for the abandonment of all pain. I shall go to his presence; he will be my teacher.”

307. “You should utter my greeting now to the unsurpassed protector of the world, and having circumambulated him you should dedicate my gift.”

308. “This is indeed proper for us, as you say, Cāpā; now I should utter your greeting to the unsurpassed protector of the world, and having circumambulated him I shall dedicate your gift.”

309. And then Kāḷa went out alongside the River Nerañjara; he saw the awakened one teaching the state of the death-free:

310. pain, the uprising of pain, and the overcoming of pain, and the noble eightfold way leading to the stilling of pain.

311. He saluted his feet, circumambulated him, dedicated the gift for Cāpā, and went forth into the houseless state. He has obtained the three knowledges. He has done the Buddha’s teaching.

Weingast

Love is like all things.

One night it’s knocking at your front door.

The next morning it’s waving you goodbye.

My sisters.

The thing that breaks

and leaves sharp edges

that cut you from the inside—

that’s not the heart.

That’s the house you built

out of all the pretty things

other people told you,

and the strange promise

that what is felt today

will still be felt tomorrow.

But such houses are built to fall apart.

And when they do,

the heart must take to the open road

and leave the past behind.

At first I thought I couldn’t live without him.

Then I realized

there were certain things

that for a long time

I had been unwilling

to admit—

even to myself.

Look me in the eye, my sister.

You are more than your laughter

and your sighs.

You are more than your rage

and your tears.

You are much more than your body.

Ven. K Gnanananda Thero

The translations by Ven. K. Gnanananda are somewhat more explanatory and simplified than others. They are a good example of a faithful but non-literal translation.


Ven. Gnanananda

291. [Upaka:] Formerly, I was an ascetic wandering around with a pot and stick. But now I am a deer hunter. Because of craving, I haven’t been able to cross the swamp of sensual pleasures to reach the far shore.

292. Cāpā thinks that I am still attracted to her. She is cradling our son. But having cut the bond I had between Cāpā and myself, I will become a monk again.

293. [Cāpā:] My great hero, don’t be angry with me. My great sage, don’t be angry with me. For there is no purity for one overcome by anger, let alone the virtues of an ascetic.

294. [Upaka:] I shall indeed leave this village of Nālā. Who will live here in Nālā? It was this female figure that kept ascetics from living righteously.

295. [Cāpā:] Come Kāla Upaka, turn back! Enjoy sensual pleasures as you did before! My relatives and I are astounded by you.

296. [Upaka:] Cāpā, even if one quarter of your admiration is expressed to a man who is attached to you, your appreciation will seem huge to him.

297. [Cāpā:] Kāla, there is a blooming takkārī tree on the peak of a mountain. There is a blooming pomegranate tree. There is a blooming pāṭalī tree in the middle of an island.

298. My body is smeared with red sandal-wood cream. I am wearing the best clothes from Kāsi. As I am very beautiful, how can you leave me, ignoring this beauty?

299. [Upaka:] A bird hunter wants to trap and capture birds. You are trying to do the same, but you will not capture me by your beauty.

300. [Cāpā:] Kāla, look at our son I obtained from you. Leaving me with our son, how can you abandon us?

301. [Upaka:] Wise men leave their sons, relatives, and wealth. Breaking all fetters, those great heroes become monks, like an elephant that has broken its chains.

302. [Cāpā:] Ah, I see. Then, I will now murder our son with a stick or a knife on the spot, or I will knock him down to the ground. Because of grief for your son, you will not go.

303. [Upaka:] Hey wretched lady, even if you throw our son into a pit of hungry wolves and dogs, you will not turn me back again for the sake of our son.

304. [Cāpā:] Kāla, my darling husband, then tell me where you are going. To which village, town, city, or kingdom are you going?

305. [Upaka:] Formerly, we were leaders of ascetic groups. Not being true recluses, we only pretended to be so. We wandered from village to village, city to city, and from kingdom to kingdom.

306. But this time it is different. Alongside the river Nerañjarā the Blessed One, the Buddha Gotama, teaches the Dhamma to beings for the eradication of all suffering. This time, I shall go to the Buddha’s presence. The Buddha will be my Great Teacher.

307. [Cāpā:] Ah! Please tell the unsurpassed protector of the world that I worship him. Yes, worship respectfully and dedicate the merit to me.

308. [Upaka:] Yes, as you say Cāpā, you can receive that merit. I will tell the unsurpassed protector of the world that you worshipped him. Having worshiped him, I will surely dedicate the merit to you.

309. Then Kāḷa went out alongside the river Nerañjarā. He saw the Supremely Enlightened Buddha teaching about the deathless state, Nibbāna.

310. That Dhamma is about suffering, the arising of suffering, the overcoming of suffering and the Noble Eightfold Path that leads to the cessation of suffering.

311. He worshipped the sacred feet of the Great Teacher. Having worshipped him respectfully, he dedicated the merit to Cāpā. He became a monk. He achieved the Triple Knowledge. The Buddha’s path has been fully followed by him.

Weingast

Love is like all things.

One night it’s knocking at your front door.

The next morning it’s waving you goodbye.

My sisters.

The thing that breaks

and leaves sharp edges

that cut you from the inside—

that’s not the heart.

That’s the house you built

out of all the pretty things

other people told you,

and the strange promise

that what is felt today

will still be felt tomorrow.

But such houses are built to fall apart.

And when they do,

the heart must take to the open road

and leave the past behind.

At first I thought I couldn’t live without him.

Then I realized

there were certain things

that for a long time

I had been unwilling

to admit—

even to myself.

Look me in the eye, my sister.

You are more than your laughter

and your sighs.

You are more than your rage

and your tears.

You are much more than your body.

Bhikkhu Sujato & Jessica Walton

Available for free on SuttaCentral.net.

Sujato & Walton

“Once I carried a hermit’s staff,
but these days I hunt deer.
My desires have made me unable to cross
from the awful marsh to the far shore.

Thinking me so in love with her,
Cāpā kept our son happy.
Having cut Cāpā’s bond,
I’ll go forth once again.”

“Don’t be mad at me, great hero!
Don’t be mad at me, great sage!
If you’re mired in anger you can’t stay pure,
let alone practice austerities.”

“I’m going to leave Nālā!
For who’d stay here at Nālā!
With their figures, the women trap
ascetics who live righteously.”

“Please, Kāḷa, come back to me.
Enjoy pleasures like you did before.
I’ll be under your control,
along with any relatives I have.”

“Cāpā, if even a quarter
of what you say were true,
it would be a splendid thing
for a man in love with you!”

“Kāḷa, I am like a sprouting iris
flowering on a mountain top,
like a blossoming pomegranate,
like a trumpet-flower tree on an isle;

my limbs are anointed with yellow sandalwood,
and I wear the finest Kāsi cloth:
when I am so very beautiful,
how can you abandon me and leave?”

“You’re like a fowler
who wants to catch a bird;
but you won’t trap me
with your captivating form.”

“But this child, my fruit,
was begotten by you, Kāḷa.
When I have this child,
how can you abandon me and leave?”

“The wise give up
children, family, and wealth.
Great heroes go forth
like elephants breaking their bonds.”

“Now, this son of yours:
I’ll strike him to the ground right here,
with a stick or with a knife!
Grieving your son, you will not leave.”

“Even if you feed our son
to jackals and dogs,
I’d never return again, you bitch,
not even for the child’s sake.”

“Well then, sir, tell me,
where will you go, Kāḷa?
To what village or town,
city or capital?”

“Last time we had followers,
we weren’t ascetics, we just thought we were.
We wandered from village to village,
to cities and capitals.

But now the Blessed One, the Buddha,
on the bank of the Nerañjara River,
teaches the Dhamma so that living creatures
may abandon all suffering.
I shall go to his presence,
he shall be my Teacher.”

“Now please convey my respects
to the supreme protector of the world.
Circling him to your right,
dedicate my religious donation.”

“This is the proper thing to do,
just as you have said to me.
I’ll convey your respects
to the supreme protector of the world.
Circling him to my right,
I’ll dedicate your religious donation.”

Then Kāḷa set out
to the bank of the Nerañjara River.
He saw the Awakened One
teaching the deathless state:

suffering, suffering’s origin,
suffering’s transcendence,
and the noble eightfold path
that leads to the stilling of suffering.

He paid homage at his feet,
circling him to his right,
and conveyed Cāpā’s dedication;
then he went forth to homelessness.
He attained the three knowledges,
and fulfilled the Buddha’s instructions.

Weingast

Love is like all things.

One night it’s knocking at your front door.

The next morning it’s waving you goodbye.

My sisters.

The thing that breaks

and leaves sharp edges

that cut you from the inside—

that’s not the heart.

That’s the house you built

out of all the pretty things

other people told you,

and the strange promise

that what is felt today

will still be felt tomorrow.

But such houses are built to fall apart.

And when they do,

the heart must take to the open road

and leave the past behind.

At first I thought I couldn’t live without him.

Then I realized

there were certain things

that for a long time

I had been unwilling

to admit—

even to myself.

Look me in the eye, my sister.

You are more than your laughter

and your sighs.

You are more than your rage

and your tears.

You are much more than your body.

C.R. Davids & Commentary

Published in 1909, the translation by Caroline Rhys Davids was an attempt to render the verses in the Early Modern English that we associate with the King James Version. She also translated the background story for each nun. This is an example of a more creative translation that does not change the doctrine, although it uses very outdated and somewhat Christianized terms.

From the commentary: She, too, having made her resolve under former Buddhas, and heaping up good of age-enduring efficacy in this and that rebirth, till she had accumulated the sources of good, and matured the conditions for emancipation, was, in this Buddha-age, reborn in the Vankahāra country, at a certain village of trappers, as the daughter of the chief trapper, and named Cāpā. 351 And at that time Upaka, an ascetic, 352 met the Master as he was going to Benares, there to set rolling from his Bo-tree throne 353 the Wheel of the Norm, and asked him: ‘You seem, my friend, in perfect health! Clear and pure is your complexion. Wherefore have you, friend, left the world? or who may your teacher be? or whose doctrine do you believe in?’ And he was thus answered:

‘All have I overcome. All things I know,
‘Mid all things undefiled. Renouncing all,
In death of Craving wholly free. My own
The Deeper View. Whom should I name to thee?
For me no teacher lives. I stand alone
On earth, in heav’n rival to me there’s none.

Now go I on seeking Benares town,
To start the Wheel, the gospel of the Norm,
To rouse and guide the nations blind and lost,
Striking Salvation’s drum, Ambrosia’s alarm.’

The ascetic, discerning the omniscience and great mission of the Master, was comforted in mind, and replied: ‘Friend, may these things be! Thou art worthy 354 to be a conqueror, world without end!’ Then, taking a by-road, he came to the Vankahāra country, and abode near the hamlet of the trappers, where the head trapper supplied his wants. One day the latter, setting off on a long hunt with sons and brothers, bade his daughter not neglect ‘the Arahant’ 355 in his absence. Now, she was of great beauty; and Upaka, seeking alms at her home, and captivated by her beauty, could not eat, but took his food home, and laid down fasting, vowing he would die should he not win Cāpā. After seven days the father returned, and, on inquiring for his ‘Arahant,’ heard he had not come again after the first day. The trapper sought him, and Upaka, moaning, and rolling over, confessed his plight. The trapper asked if he knew any craft, and he answered, ‘No;’ but offered to fetch their game and sell it. The trapper consented, and, giving him a coat, brought him to his own home, and gave him his daughter. In due time she had a son, whom they called Subhadda. 356 Cāpā, when the baby cried, sang to him: ‘Upaka’s boy, ascetic’s boy, game-dealer’s boy, don’t cry, don’t cry!’ mocking her husband. And he said at length: ‘Do not thou, Cāpā, fancy I have none to protect me. 357 I have a friend, even a conqueror eternal, and to him I will go.’ She saw that he was vexed, and teased him again and again in the same way, till one day, in anger, he got ready to go. She said much, but vainly, to prevent him, and he set out westward. And the Exalted One was then at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove, and announced this to the brethren: ‘He who to-day shall come asking, “Where is the Conqueror eternal?” send him to me.’ And Upaka arrived, and, standing in the midst of the Vihāra, asked: ‘Where is the Conqueror eternal?’ So they brought him, and when he saw the Exalted One, he said: ‘Dost know me, Exalted One?’ ‘Yea, I know. But thou, where hast thou spent the time?’ ‘In the Vankahāra country, lord.’ ‘Upaka, thou art now an old man; canst thou bear the religious life?’ ‘I will enter thereon, lord.’ The Master bade a certain Bhikkhu, ‘Come, do thou, Bhikkhu, ordain him.’ And he thereafter exercising and training himself, was soon established in the Fruition of the Path-of-No-Return, and thereupon died, being reborn in the Aviha heavens. 358 At the moment of that rebirth he attained Arahantship.

Seven have thus attained it, as it has been said.

But Cāpā, sick at heart over his departure, delivered her boy to his grandfather, and, following in the way Upaka had gone, renounced the world at Sāvatthī, and attained Arahantship. And uniting Upaka’s verses with her own, she thus exulted:

Davids

(Her husband speaks.)

‘Once staff in hand homeless I fared and free.
Now but a trapper am I, sunken fast
In baneful bog of earthly lusts, yet fain
To come out on the yonder side. My wife (291)
Plays with her child and mocks my former state,
Deeming her charm yet holdeth me in thrall.
But I will cut the knot and roam again.’ (292)
Cāpā.

‘O be not angry with me, hero mine!
O thou great prophet, be not wroth with me!
For how may he who giveth place to wrath
Attain to holy life and purity?’ (293)

‘Nay, I’ll go forth from Nāla. 359 Who would live
At Nāla now, where he who fain to lead
A life of righteousness sees holy men
Beguilèd by the beauty of a girl!’ (294)

‘O turn again, my dark-eyed lover, come
And take thy fill of Cāpā’s love for thee,
And I, thy slave, will meet thy every wish,
And all my kinsfolk shall thy servants be.’ (295)

‘Nay, were a man desirous of thy love,
He well might glory didst thou promise him
A fourth of what thou temp’st me here withal!’ (296)

‘O dark-eyed love, am I not fair to see,
As the liana swaying in the woods,
As the pomegranate-tree in fullest bloom
Growing on hill-top, or the trumpet-flower
Drooping o’er mouth of island cavern? See, (297)
With crimson sandal-wood perfumed, I’ll wear
Finest Benares robe for thee–O why,
O how wilt thou go far away from me?’ (298)

‘Ay! so the fowler seeketh to decoy
His bird. Parade thy charms e’en as thou wilt,
Ne’er shalt thou bind me to thee as of yore.’ (299)

‘And this child-blossom, O my husband, see
Thy gift to me-–now surely thou wilt not
Forsake her who hath borne a child to thee?’ (300)

‘Wise men forsake their children, wealth and kin,
Great heroes ever go forth from the world,
As elephants sever their bonds in twain.’ (301)

‘Then this thy child straightway with stick or axe
I’ll batter on the ground–to save thyself
From mourning for thy son thou wilt not go!’ (302)

‘And if thou throw the child to jackals, wolves,
Or dogs, child-maker without ruth, e’en so
‘Twill not avail to turn me back again!’ (303)

‘Why, then, go if thou must, and fare thee well.
But tell me to what village wilt thou go,
What town or burg or city is thy goal?’ (304)

‘In the past days we went in fellowship,
Deeming our shallow practice genuine.
Pilgrims we wandered–hamlet, city, town,
And capital–we tramped to each in turn.’ (305)

‘But the Exalted Buddha now doth preach,
Along the banks of the Nerañjarā, 360
The Norm whereby all may be saved from ill.
To him I go; he now my guide shall be.’ (306)

‘Yea, go, and take my homage unto him
Who is the supreme Sovran of the World,
And making salutation by the right, 361
Do thou from us to him make offering.’ (307)

‘Now meet and right is this, e’en as thou say’st,
That I in doing homage, speak for thee
To him, the Supreme Sovran of the World.
And making salutation by the right,
I’ll render offering for thee and me.’ (308)

So Kāla went to the Nerañjarā,
And saw the very Buddha on the bank,
Teaching the Way Ambrosial: of Ill, (309)
And of how Ill doth rise, and how Ill may
Be overpast, and of the way thereto,
Even the Ariyan, the Eightfold Path. (310)
Low at his feet the husband homage paid,
Saluted by the right and Cāpā’s vows
Presented; then the world again renounced
For homeless life; the Threefold Wisdom won,
And brought to pass the bidding of the Lord. (311)

Weingast

Love is like all things.

One night it’s knocking at your front door.

The next morning it’s waving you goodbye.

My sisters.

The thing that breaks

and leaves sharp edges

that cut you from the inside—

that’s not the heart.

That’s the house you built

out of all the pretty things

other people told you,

and the strange promise

that what is felt today

will still be felt tomorrow.

But such houses are built to fall apart.

And when they do,

the heart must take to the open road

and leave the past behind.

At first I thought I couldn’t live without him.

Then I realized

there were certain things

that for a long time

I had been unwilling

to admit—

even to myself.

Look me in the eye, my sister.

You are more than your laughter

and your sighs.

You are more than your rage

and your tears.

You are much more than your body.

Pali

Pali text from the Mahāsaṅgīti Tipiṭaka Buddhavasse 2500: World Tipiṭaka Edition in Roman Script.

Pali

“Laṭṭhihattho pure āsi,
so dāni migaluddako;
Āsāya palipā ghorā,
nāsakkhi pārametave.

Sumattaṃ maṃ maññamānā,
cāpā puttamatosayi;
Cāpāya bandhanaṃ chetvā,
pabbajissaṃ punopahaṃ”.

“Mā me kujjhi mahāvīra,
mā me kujjhi mahāmuni;
Na hi kodhaparetassa,
suddhi atthi kuto tapo”.

“Pakkamissañca nāḷāto,
kodha nāḷāya vacchati;
Bandhantī itthirūpena,
samaṇe dhammajīvino”.

“Ehi kāḷa nivattassu,
bhuñja kāme yathā pure;
Ahañca te vasīkatā,
ye ca me santi ñātakā”.

“Etto cāpe catubbhāgaṃ,
yathā bhāsasi tvañca me;
Tayi rattassa posassa,
uḷāraṃ vata taṃ siyā”.

“Kāḷaṅginiṃva takkāriṃ,
pupphitaṃ girimuddhani;
Phullaṃ dālimalaṭṭhiṃva,
antodīpeva pāṭaliṃ.

Haricandanalittaṅgiṃ,
kāsikuttamadhāriniṃ;
Taṃ maṃ rūpavatiṃ santiṃ,
kassa ohāya gacchasi”.

“Sākuntikova sakuṇiṃ,
yathā bandhitumicchati;
Āharimena rūpena,
na maṃ tvaṃ bādhayissasi”.

“Imañca me puttaphalaṃ,
kāḷa uppāditaṃ tayā;
Taṃ maṃ puttavatiṃ santiṃ,
kassa ohāya gacchasi”.

“Jahanti putte sappaññā,
tato ñātī tato dhanaṃ;
Pabbajanti mahāvīrā,
nāgo chetvāva bandhanaṃ”.

“Idāni te imaṃ puttaṃ,
Daṇḍena churikāya vā;
Bhūmiyaṃ vā nisumbhissaṃ,
Puttasokā na gacchasi”.

“Sace puttaṃ siṅgālānaṃ,
kukkurānaṃ padāhisi;
Na maṃ puttakatte jammi,
punarāvattayissasi”.

“Handa kho dāni bhaddante,
kuhiṃ kāḷa gamissasi;
Katamaṃ gāmanigamaṃ,
nagaraṃ rājadhāniyo”.

“Ahumha pubbe gaṇino,
Assamaṇā samaṇamānino;
Gāmena gāmaṃ vicarimha,
Nagare rājadhāniyo.

Eso hi bhagavā buddho,
nadiṃ nerañjaraṃ pati;
Sabbadukkhappahānāya,
dhammaṃ deseti pāṇinaṃ;
Tassāhaṃ santikaṃ gacchaṃ,
so me satthā bhavissati”.

“Vandanaṃ dāni vajjāsi,
lokanāthaṃ anuttaraṃ;
Padakkhiṇañca katvāna,
ādiseyyāsi dakkhiṇaṃ”.

“Etaṃ kho labbhamamhehi,
yathā bhāsasi tvañca me;
Vandanaṃ dāni te vajjaṃ,
lokanāthaṃ anuttaraṃ;
Padakkhiṇañca katvāna,
ādisissāmi dakkhiṇaṃ”.

Tato ca kāḷo pakkāmi,
nadiṃ nerañjaraṃ pati;
So addasāsi sambuddhaṃ,
desentaṃ amataṃ padaṃ.

Dukkhaṃ dukkhasamuppādaṃ,
dukkhassa ca atikkamaṃ;
Ariyaṃ caṭṭhaṅgikaṃ maggaṃ,
dukkhūpasamagāminaṃ.

Tassa pādāni vanditvā,
Katvāna naṃ padakkhiṇaṃ;
Cāpāya ādisitvāna,
Pabbajiṃ anagāriyaṃ;
Tisso vijjā anuppattā,
Kataṃ buddhassa sāsanaṃ.

Weingast

Love is like all things.

One night it’s knocking at your front door.

The next morning it’s waving you goodbye.

My sisters.

The thing that breaks

and leaves sharp edges

that cut you from the inside—

that’s not the heart.

That’s the house you built

out of all the pretty things

other people told you,

and the strange promise

that what is felt today

will still be felt tomorrow.

But such houses are built to fall apart.

And when they do,

the heart must take to the open road

and leave the past behind.

At first I thought I couldn’t live without him.

Then I realized

there were certain things

that for a long time

I had been unwilling

to admit—

even to myself.

Look me in the eye, my sister.

You are more than your laughter

and your sighs.

You are more than your rage

and your tears.

You are much more than your body.

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  1. Cāpā’s story is fascinating and dramatic. She’s living with a hunter, and apparently they are failures at being fake ascetics. Her husband has a crisis of confidence and decides to ordain. She resists and uses every trick she has to keep him, even threatening violence against her son. Eventually, she gains confidence in the Buddha and suports her husband’s choice. The story is a troubling and ambiguous one, and the text leaves many details that invite fleshing out: the responsibilities of a father to his wife and son, or the way that female stereotypes affect the interior lives of women. Weingast avoids hard questions by eliminating almost all these details, keeping only the general idea that she was relucatant to lose her man then changed her mind. The reasons given for changing her mind are completely different: gone is any mention of faith in the Buddha, replaced by vague ruminations (“certain things that for a long time I had been unwilling to admit”). Weingast’s style is to create the impression of wisdom by alluding to a profundity too shy to appear on the page. The presence of this text in the Therigatha is challenging as it does not foreground Cāpā’s journey but her husband’s, and she takes the stereotypical role of temptress. Her journey is that she is able to outgrow the stereotype. Rather than grappling with this challenge, Weingast ignores it, making Cāpā another Mary Sue. The title—represented in the text merely by the conventional tag at the end of the poem—calls her a therī (i.e. a senior nun), and obviously the presence of the text in the Therigatha suggests this. But the verses do not say that she became a nun; rather they celebrate her devotion as a laywoman. Maybe she ordained later when her boy grew up. But Weingast’s poem depicts her as a teaching nun, a role she does not have in the text. Her spiritual growth as depicted in the text is not considered worth noticing, presumably as it does not meet the expectations that a contemporary American man has about women. The deeply embedded cultural and historical reality of her life is elided: we no longer see an Asian, a person of color, a woman of the past, a woman of complexity. We see only Weingast’s idea of what matters to women.

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