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Sirimā

1. Sirimā Thera.– He was born in the family of a householder of Sāvatthi and was called Sirimā on account of the unfailing success of his family. His younger brother was Sirivaḍḍha. They were both present when the Buddha accepted Jetavana, and, struck by his majesty, they entered the Order. Sirivaḍḍha, though possessed of no special attainments, received great honour from the laity and recluses, but Sirimā was little honoured. Nevertheless, exercising calm and insight, he soon won Arahantship. Ordinary monks and novices continued to disparage him, and the Thera had to blame them for their faulty judgment. Sirivaḍḍha, agitated by this, himself became an Arahant.

In the time of Padumuttara Buddha, before the Buddha’s appearance in the world, Sirimā was an ascetic, named Devala, with a large following, and, having learnt the power of the Buddha through a study of the science of prognostication, he built a sand thūpa, to which he paid homage in the name of past Buddhas. The Buddha was born in the world, his birth being accompanied by various omens. The ascetic showed these to his pupils, and, having made them eager to see the Buddha, died, and was reborn in the Brahma world. Later, he appeared before them, inspiring them to greater exertions (Thag.vss. 159‑60; ThagA.i.279 f).

He is evidently identical with Pulinuppādaka Thera of the Apadāna. Ap.ii.426.

2. Sirimā.– Mother of Sumana Buddha. Her husband was Sudatta. Bu.v.21; J.i.34.

3. Sirimā.– Mother of Phussa Buddha and wife of Jayasena. Bu.xix.14; J.i.41.

4. Sirimā.– A lay woman, one of the chief patrons of Revata Buddha. Bu.vi.23.

5. Sirimā.– Wife of Anomadassī Buddha before his renunciation. Bu.viii.19.

6. Sirimā.– One of the chief lay women supporters of Sumedha Buddha. Bu.xii.25.

7. Sirimā.– One of the chief lay women supporters of Dīpaṅkara Buddha. Bu.ii.215.

8. Sirimā.– One of the chief lay women supporters of Vipassī Buddha. Bu.xx.30.

9. Sirimā.– One of the chief lay women supporters of Vessabhū Buddha. Bu.xxii.25.

10. Sirimā.– One of the palaces occupied by Vipassī Buddha in his last lay life. Bu.xx.24.

11. Sirimā.– One of the palaces occupied by Maṅgala Buddha in his last lay life. BuA.116.

12. Sirimā.– A courtesan of Rājagaha and younger sister of Jīvaka. She was once employed by Uttarā (Nandamātā) to take her place with her husband (Sumana) while Uttarā herself went away in order to indulge in acts of piety. During this time Sirimā tried to injure Uttarā, on account of a misunderstanding, but on realising her error, she begged forgiveness both of Uttarā, and, at the latter’s suggestion, of the Buddha. (The details of this incident are given Uttarā Nandamātā.) At the conclusion of a discourse taught by the Buddha in Uttarā’s house, Sirimā became a Stream-winner. From that day onwards she gave alms daily to eight monks in her house.

A monk in a monastery, three leagues away, having heard of the excellence of Sirimā’s alms and of her extraordinary beauty from a visiting monk, decided to go and see her. Having obtained a ticket for alms, he went to her house, but Sirimā was ill, and her attendants looked after the monks. When the meal had been served she was brought into the dining hall to pay her respects to the monks. The lustful monk at once fell in love with her and was unable to eat. That same day Sirimā died. The Buddha gave instructions that her body should not be burnt, but laid in the charnel ground, protected from birds and beasts. When putrefaction had set in, the king proclaimed that all citizens, on penalty of a fine, should gaze on Sirimā’s body. The Buddha, too, went with the monks, the lustful monk accompanying them. The Buddha made the king proclaim, with beating of the drum, that anyone who would pay a thousand could have Sirimā’s body. There was no response. The price was gradually lowered to one eighth of a penny. Yet no one came forward, even when the body was offered for nothing. The Buddha addressed the monks, pointing out how even those who would have paid one thousand to spend a single night with Sirimā would not now take her as a gift. Such was the passing nature of beauty. The lustful monk became a Stream-winner (DhA.iii.104 f; VvA.74 ff).

Buddhaghosa says (SNA.i.244 f, 253 f ) that Sirimā was Sālavati’s daughter, and succeeded to her mother’s position as courtesan. After death, Sirimā was born in the Yāma world as the wife of Suyāma. When the Buddha was speaking to the monks at her cremation, she visited the spot with five hundred chariots. Janapadakalyāṇī Nandā, who at that time was also a nun, was present, and when the Buddha taught the Kāyavicchandanika Suta (Vijaya Sutta) (q.v.) she became an Arahant, while Sirimā became a Non-returner.

The Vimānavatthu (pp.78 f., 86) gives the same story, adding that Vaṅgīsa was also present at the teaching of the discourse, and, having obtained the Buddha’s permission, questioned Sirimā and made her reveal her identity. Here Sirimā is said to have been born in the Nimmānaratī world, and no mention is made of her becoming an Non-returner while the lustful monk is said to have become an Arahant. Sirimā is mentioned in a list of eminent female lay disciples (upāsikā) at A.iv.347; AA.ii.791. Eighty-four thousand persons realised the truth after listening to the Buddha’s teaching at the cremation of Sirimā. Mil.350.

Sirimā-vimānavatthu. The story of Sirimā’s death and subsequent events. Vv.i.16; VvA.67 ff.

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