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Patipūjikā

A woman of Sāvatthi, who once had belonged to the retinue of the god Mālābhārī, and passed out of her deva existence while sitting on the branch of a tree picking flowers for him. She remembered her former existence, and yearned to rejoin Mālābhārī even after she was married, hence her name. With this object in view she did many good deeds, and is said to have developed simultaneously the fifty-six qualities of goodness.

She gave birth to four sons, and dying one day of a sudden illness, was reborn again in Tāvatiṃsa ¹ into the retinue of Mālābhārī. On seeing her, he asked where she had been, since he hadn’t seen her for the whole day. He was greatly agitated on hearing her story, realising how short is the span of human life.

Among those monks who received regular alms from Patipūjikā, there were some who were still worldlings (puthujjana). They were greatly distressed on hearing of her death, and asked the Buddha about her destiny. He related her story, and recited the Dhammapada verse:

Who gathers the flowers (of sensual pleasure),

whose mind is distracted,

and who is insatiate in desire,

the Destroyer brings under his sway. (Dhp.v.48)

At the end of the verse many attained Stream-winning. DhA.i.363 ff.

¹ One day in Tāvatiṃsa is equivalent to 100 years of human life, so not even one full day had passed. This story makes me wonder who is more heedless — gods or human beings? The gods were apparently busy only picking flowers while Patipūjikā had raised four children, but still found time to offer alms regularly to the monks (ed.)

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