13.4 Sundarī Therī (312-337)

For this Therī, the translation by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thero has been used because it includes indications of who the speaker is.

It can be noted that there is some disagreement as to the meaning of the first two verses. In the translation below it is interpreted to refer to previous lives as an animal. In Norman’s and Bhikkhu Sujato’s it is interpreted that the bodies of dead children are placed in the charnel ground to be eaten.

Ven. K. Gnanananda

312. [Brāhmin:] Lady, in your previous lives you survived by eating your dead children. You mourned excessively day and night.

313. Brāhmin lady Vāseṭṭhī, having eaten hundreds of your dead children, why don’t you mourn them greatly today?

314. [Lady Vāseṭṭhī:] Brāhmin, it is not only me, in your previous lives, you too have eaten hundreds of your children and relatives.

315. But in this life, I have realized the escape from birth and death. Therefore, I do not grieve or cry, nor do I mourn.

316. [Brāhmin:] Vāseṭṭhī, you are saying something amazing. Whose Dhamma have you realized to speak firmly like this?

317. [Vāseṭṭhī:] Brāhmin, back then the Supremely Enlightened Buddha visited the city of Mithilā. He was teaching the Dhamma to beings for the eradication of all suffering.

318. Brāhmin, I heard the Dhamma from the Buddha about the end of defilements. Having realized the perfect Dhamma, I thrust away the grief for my children.

319. [Brāhmin:] Ah! I too shall go to the city of Mithilā. It would be good if the Blessed One would release me from all suffering.

320. The Brāhmin met the Buddha who was liberated and freed from defilements. The Great Sage, the Buddha, who reached the far shore of suffering taught him the Dhamma. That Dhamma is about suffering, the arising of suffering, the overcoming of suffering and the Noble Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of suffering.

321. He realized the perfect Dhamma. His only wish was to become a monk. Within three nights, the Brāhmin Sujāta attained the Triple Knowledge.

322. [Brāhmin:] Come, dear charioteer. Now go home and return this chariot to the Brāhmin lady. Tell her I am in good health and that the Brāhmin Sujāta has now become a monk and within three nights he attained the Triple Knowledge.

323. Then that charioteer took the chariot and a thousand gold coins and met the Brāhmin lady. He informed her that the Brāhmin was in good health, had become a monk, and within three nights attained the Triple Knowledge.

324. [Brāhmin lady:] Dear charioteer, since I heard from you that the Brāhmin has attained the Triple Knowledge, I give you this horse, chariot and a thousand gold coins as a gift of blessings.

325. [Charioteer:] Oh Brāhmin lady, keep the horse, chariot, and the thousand gold coins for yourself. I too will go and become a monk in the presence of the Buddha who has excellent wisdom.

326. [Brāhmin lady:] My dear daughter, Sundarī, your father has become a monk, abandoning his elephants, cows and horses, jewels and ornaments, lands and wealth. Now enjoy this wealth. You are the heir of our family.

327. [Sundarī:] My dear mother, abandoning elephants, cows and horses, jewels and ornaments, lands and wealth, my father has become a monk because he was troubled by the sorrow of his son’s death. I too shall become a nun, as I am troubled by sorrow over my brother’s death.

328. [Brāhmin lady:] My dear daughter, Sundarī, if you only wish to become a nun, may that noble intention come true! Once you become a nun you will survive on house-to-house alms food. You will wear a rag robe. Be content with these and become liberated from taints.

329. [Sundarī:] Venerable elder nun, I was still a trainee then. I purified my divine eye. I knew about my previous lives through the knowledge of recollecting past lives.

330. Venerable elder nun, you are my noble friend. Full of virtues, you beautify the community of nuns. It is because of your help that I attained the Triple Knowledge. The Buddha’s path has been fully followed by me.

331. Venerable elder nun, I wish to go to Sāvatthi; please allow me to go. I shall roar a lion’s roar in the presence of the excellent Buddha.

332. [Elder nun:] Sundarī, then go and see the Great Teacher who shines with golden colored skin. You can see the tamer of the untamed beings, the Buddha, who has no fear at all.

333. Sundarī, go and see the Buddha who is liberated from all suffering and defilements. He is desireless and detached from craving. Eradicating taints, the Buddha has completed the path to end suffering.

334. [Sundarī to Buddha:] Great Hero, having left the city of Bārāṇasī I have come to see you. I am your disciple Sundarī. I worship your sacred feet.

335. Enlightened One, you are the Buddha, you are the Great Teacher, and I am your daughter. I was born from your heart, and born from your Dhamma path. Eradicating all taints, I have completed the path to end suffering.

336. [The Buddha:] Fortunate nun, it is good that you visited me. Your visit is not unbeneficial. Your behaviour matches the way of tamed disciples. Eradicating desire and taints, being detached from craving, and having completed the path, such disciples visit the Great Teacher and worship his sacred feet.


We’ve all heard

the stories




who walk

across the world

to find their fathers.

And the endless tests and trials—

to prove who they really are.

But these stories often don’t end happily.

What do you really have to prove?

And to whom?

Through the beginningless turnings of birth and death,

you have had countless fathers.

But know this, my child.

You were born of the Dharma.




you are


even now—

as the Buddha,

like a rising sun,

races across

the world

to claim


as his




Norman: 638 words

Weingast: 97 words

Word count is a crude way to compare the translation with Weingast’s poem, but it is only 15% the size of the actual Therigatha text.


Leave a comment