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Nakulapitu Suttaṃ

(A.iii.295)

Nakula’s Father

At one time the Blessed One was dwelling among the Bhaggā at crocodile mountain, in the deer park at Bhesakāḷā grove. Then on one occasion the householder Nakulapitā was ill with a serious disease. Then Nakulamātā said to the householder Nakulapitā: “Do not be anxious about dying, householder. It is painful to die with anxiety. The Blessed One has criticised dying with anxiety. Do not think thus: ‘Nakulamātā will not be able to care for our children and maintain the household after my passing.’ It should not be regarded thus, householder. I am skilled, householder, in spinning cotton and making wool.¹ I am able, householder, after your passing to care for our children [296] and maintain the household.  Therefore, householder, do not be anxious about dying. It is painful, householder, to die with anxiety; the Blessed One has criticised dying with anxiety.

“If, householder, you think thus: ‘After my passing Nakulamātā will go to another household.² It should not be regarded thus, householder. You and I know, householder, that for sixteen years with have lived the celibate life of householders. Therefore, householder, do not be anxious about dying. It is painful, householder, to die with anxiety; the Blessed One has criticised dying with anxiety.

“If, householder, you think thus: ‘After my passing Nakulamātā will not want to visit ³ the Blessed One and the community of monks.’ It should not be regarded thus, householder. After your passing, householder, I will want to visit the Blessed One and the community of monks even more. Therefore, householder, do not be anxious about dying. It is painful, householder, to die with anxiety; the Blessed One has criticised dying with anxiety.

“If, householder, you think thus: ‘After my passing Nakulamātā will not fulfil virtuous behaviour.’ It should not be regarded thus, householder. As far as any white-robed female lay disciples of the Blessed One fulfil virtuous behaviour, I am one of them.⁴ Whoever has any doubt about this may approach the Blessed One the worthy, Fully Enlightened Buddha who is dwelling among the Bhaggā at crocodile mountain, in the deer park at Bhesakāḷā grove, and ask him about it. Therefore, householder, do not be anxious about dying. [297] It is painful, householder, to die with anxiety; the Blessed One has criticised dying with anxiety.

“If, householder, you think thus: ‘Nakulamātā the householder is not one who can attain serenity of mind.’ It should not be regarded thus, householder. As far as any white-robed female lay disciples of the Blessed One can attain serenity of mind,⁵ I am one of them. Whoever has any doubt about this may approach the Blessed One the worthy, Fully Enlightened Buddha who is dwelling among the Bhaggā at crocodile mountain, in the deer park at Bhesakāḷā grove, and ask him about it. Therefore, householder, do not be anxious about dying. It is painful, householder, to die with anxiety; the Blessed One has criticised dying with anxiety.

“If, householder, you think thus: ‘Nakulamātā the householder is not well-grounded, has not found a foothold and relief in this Dhamma and discipline, has not crossed over doubt, got rid of confusion, attained assurance, and dwells independent of any other in the dispensation.’ It should not be regarded thus, householder. As far as any white-robed female lay disciples of the Blessed One is well-grounded, has found a foothold, and relief in this Dhamma and discipline, has crossed over doubt, got rid of confusion, attained assurance, and dwells independent of any other in the dispensation, I am one of them.⁶ Whoever has any doubt about this may approach the Blessed One the worthy, Fully Enlightened Buddha who is dwelling among the Bhaggā at crocodile mountain, in the deer park at Bhesakāḷā grove, and ask him about it. Therefore, householder, do not be anxious about dying. It is painful, householder, to die with anxiety; the Blessed One has criticised dying with anxiety.”

Then as Nakulapitā the householder [298] listened to this exhortation by Nakulamātā his disease was spontaneously cured. That his how Nakulapitā was cured of his disease.⁷ Then not long after he had recovered, Nakulapitā the householder, leaning on a stick, approached the Blessed One, and having approached, paid homage to the Blessed One, and sat down at one side. As Nakulapitā was sitting there at one side, the Blessed One said to him:–

“It is a gain for you, householder, a great gain for you householder! The householder Nakulamātā has compassion for you, and desires your welfare that she exhorts you and encourages you thus. As far as any of my white-robed female lay disciples fulfils virtuous behaviour, she is one of them. As far as any of my white-robed female lay disciples can attain serenity of mind, she is one of them. As far as any of my white-robed female lay disciples is well-grounded, has found a foothold and relief in this Dhamma and discipline, has crossed over doubt, got rid of confusion, attained assurance, and dwells independent of any other in the dispensation, she is one of them. It is a gain for you, householder, it is a great gain for you householder! That the householder Nakulamātā has compassion for you, and desires your welfare that she exhorts you and encourages you thus.”

Notes:

1. The Commentary glosses: “Having sheared goats or sheep, having carded the fleece, makes wool.” (Veṇiṃ olikhitunti eḷakalomāni kappetvā vijaṭetvā veṇiṃ kātuṃ).

2. The Commentary glosses: “Take another husband.” (Aññaṃ gharaṃ gamissatīti aññaṃ sāmikaṃ gaṇhissati).

3. Literally “to see” (dassana), but “visit” is more appropriate in this context.

4. This is a declaration of her attainment of Stream-winning, calling the Blessed One as a witness. Her husband might have entertained some doubts whether her morality was temporary or stable, so she made this asseveration of truth (saccakiriyaṃ kātuṃ) to remove any doubts that he might have. Bhikkhu Bodhi comments that including  “After my passing,” here is an error, but I think it is not. If she was not a Stream-winner, she might fulfil the precepts only while her husband was alive to protect her, but after his passing might fall away from virtue without his support.

5. Any Stream-winner can easily obtain absorption by contemplating the virtues of the Triple Gem: “Iti pi so Bhagavā … etc.

6. Again, Nakulamātā makes an asseveration of truth by declaring her attainment of Stream-winning, calling the Blessed One as a witness.

7. There are several other examples in the texts of an act of truth curing disease. The Aṅgulimāla Paritta is one used to relieve a difficult childbirth, and other Paritta discourses also use the power of asserting the truth for protection from danger. The Suvaṇṇasāma Jātaka is another example of curing disease in this way.

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