04.01 Bhaddā Kāpilānī (63-66)

Weingast’s title is “Bhadda Kapilani ~ Red Hair”

The Essay From Lioness Roars to Purrs – A Review of The First Free Women by Matty Weingast begins with an analysis of these verses.


63. Kassapa, the son, the heir of the Buddha, well concentrated, who knows his former habitation and sees heaven and hell,

64. and has attained the destruction of rebirths, is a sage perfected in supernormal knowledge. Because of these three knowledges he is a brahman with triple knowledge.

65. In just the same way Bhaddā Kāpilānī, with triple knowledge, having left death behind, bears her last body, having conquered Māra and his mount.

66. Having seen the peril in the world, we both went forth; with āsavas annihilated, tamed, we have become cool, quenched.


After our wedding,

my husband and I put on robes together

and soon went our separate ways.

Not exactly what most would call a honeymoon.

Is that what love looks like?


when you see what love is

and what it isn’t.

Marriage is hard.

The good times come and go.

True love doesn’t throw a curtain

over the whole world

and imprison whoever it cares about the most

on an empty stage.

When the mind is free,

it’s free of expecting

more than is reasonable

from any one person.



  1. “Marriage is hard. The good times come and go.”

    Ahh, such timeless wisdom! Needless to say, it has nothing to do with exultant celebration of Bhaddā Kāpilānī.

    Weingast adds the inexplicable title “Red Hair”. Kāpilānī was a brown-skinned Indian woman with black hair. But Weingast goes out of his way to depict her as a white woman. There’s no discernible narrative purpose for this as it has no relation to the verses, either those of the Therigatha or of Weingast. It’s just gratuitous racial erasure for its own sake.

    In her verses, Kāpilānī adopts a canny rhetorical strategy, getting her audience onside in her praise of one of the Buddha’s most accomplished followers. She then has the audacity to claim that she is his equal in spiritual matters. Her primary concern was escaping the trap of rebirth, and her spiritual achievements are framed in this light. Her relation with Mahākassapa is only revealed in the last lines, and only then by way of contrast with her current state of freedom.

    Weingast systematically removes all suggestion of what actually mattered to her. The Kāpilānī of Weingast’s imagination defines herself, not in terms of freedom from rebirth, but in her relationship with a man.

    The concept of freedom which he places in Kāpilānī’s mouth is not “expecting more than is reasonable from any one person.” This obviously has nothing to do with Buddhism or Kāpilānī. It’s curious, then, why Weingast settled on this specific way of depicting freedom.

    Remember the narrative framing of these poems: a man is speaking while pretending to be a woman. And throughout Weingast’s verses, though admittedly not explicitly so here, the imagined audience is female.

    So what we have is a man telling women that they will be free if they lower their expectations of men; that they shouldn’t stifle men by “imprisoning” them in relationship. It’s a message that subtly affirms the values of the patriarchy, gaslighting women, and preemptively justifying the bad conduct of men.

  2. Thank you Bhante. Couldn’t have said it better myself. As if her biggest problem is her “unreasonable” expectations of her husband?Seriously??

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