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Puṇṇā

1. Puṇṇā.– Slave girl of Sujātā. J.i.69; AA.i.218.

2. Puṇṇā Therī.– An Arahant. She was born in a householder’s family of Sāvatthi, and, at the age of twenty, having heard Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī teach, she left the world. One day, while meditating, the Buddha appeared before her in a ray of glory and she became an Arahant.

In the past she was a kinnarī on the banks of the Candabhāgā, and, having seen a Pacceka Buddha, worshipped him with a wreath of reeds. Thig. vs.3; ThigA. 9 f.

She is perhaps identical with Naḷamālikā Therī of the Apadāna. Ap.ii.515.

3. Puṇṇā Therī.– (v.l. Puṇṇīkā) An Arahant. She was born in Anāthapiṇḍika’s household, as the daughter of a domestic slave. She was called Puṇṇā because, with her birth, the number of children in the household reached one hundred.

On the day, on which she heard the Sīhanāda Sutta she became a Stream-winner. She converted the brahmin Sotthiya, who believed in purification through water (the conversation is recorded in Thig. vs. 236‑51), and thereby won the esteem of Anāthapiṇḍika, so that he freed her. Thereupon she entered the Order and in due course became an Arahant.

In the time of Vipassī Buddha she was born in a clansman’s family and entered the Order. She learned the Tipiṭaka and became a distinguished teacher. She did the same under five other Buddhas — Sikhī, Vessabhū, Kakusandha, Koṇāgamana, and Kassapa — but, owing to her tendency to pride, she was unable to root out the defilements. ThigA. 199 ff; Ap.ii.611.

Buddhaghosa, however, say of this Therī (MA.i.347 f; the story, with very different details, is given in AA.ii.716 f) that she was a slave girl of Anāthapiṇḍika. On one occasion, when the Buddha was about to set out on a tour, Anāthapiṇḍika and the other chief patrons of the Buddha, loth to lose him for several months, begged him to remain with them. However, the Buddha declined this request, and Puṇṇā, seeing Anāthapiṇḍika very dejected and learning the reason, offered to persuade the Buddha to stay. So she approached him and said that she would take the Three Refuges with the Five Precepts if he would postpone his tour. The Buddha at once agreed, and Puṇṇā was freed and adopted as Anāthapiṇḍika’s daughter. She later joined the Order, and became an Arahant after listening to an admonition (Therigāthā, vs.3, about Puṇṇā 2) of the Buddha, who appeared before her in a ray of glory. Here we undoubtedly have a confusion of legends. See Puṇṇā (2).

It may be this same Puṇṇā who is mentioned in the Milindapañha (p.115) as one of the seven people whose acts of devotion brought them recompense in this very life.

4. Puṇṇā.– The slave girl of the brahmin soothsayer of the Nānacchanda Jātaka. When asked what boon she desired, she answered, “A pestle and mortar and a winnowing basket.” J.ii.428, 429.

5. Puṇṇā.– A slave woman of Rājagaha. Late one night, when standing outside the house, cooling herself after having pounded a large quantity of rice, she saw Dabba-Mallaputta taking some monks to their lodgings. She thought to herself that she had to work and therefore could not sleep early, but why should monks, who are free from care, be sleepless? She concluded that one of them was sick or had been bitten by a snake. At dawn the next day she went down to the bathing-ghat, taking a cake made of rice dust and baked over charcoal, meaning to eat it after the bath. On the way she met the Buddha and offered him the cake, though she did not expect he would eat it. However, the Buddha, who was with Ānanda, accepted the gift and sat down to eat it, while Puṇṇā stood watching. When the meal was over, the Buddha asked her what she had thought of the monks, and she told him. The Buddha pointed out to her that monks could not sleep until late for they had to be watchful and assiduous. At the end of the discourse Puṇṇā became a Stream-winner.

It was in reference to this Puṇṇā that the Kuṇḍakakucchisindhava Jātaka was taught. DhA.iii.321 ff.

6. Puṇṇā.– A slave woman. The Commentaries mention (e.g., MA.ii.696) that the Buddha once made a rag robe (paṃsukūla) out of a garment cast off by her in a cemetery overgrown with weeds (atimuttakasusāna). When the Buddha donned the robe the earth trembled in wonder. It was this robe that the Buddha exchanged with Mahā-Kassapa; when the Buddha picked it up from the cemetery where Puṇṇā had cast it off it was covered with insects (SA.ii.149).

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