163. Thus have I heard — On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthi, in Prince Jeta’s grove, in the monastery of Anāthapiṇḍika. At that time, Bhikkhunī Somā, having put on the lower and upper robe, taking the almsbowl and double robe, she wandered for alms in Sāvatthi. Have wandered for alms, after the meal she approached the Blind Man’s grove¹ to spend the day. Having entered the Blind Man’s grove, she sat down at a certain tree to spend the day. Then Māra, the evil one, wishing to arouse fear, trembling, and horripilation to make her fall away from concentration approached Bhikkhunī Somā, and having approached spoke this verse to her:–
“The state that is hard to attain, which can be attained by sages,
Cannot be attained by a woman, with her two-fingered ² wisdom.”
Then it occurred to Bhikkhunī Somā: “Is this a human being or a non-human being who utters this verse?” Then it occurred to her: “This is Māra, the evil one, who recited this verse, wishing to arouse fear, trembling, and horripilation to make me fall away from concentration.”
Then, having understood: “This is Māra, the evil one,” Bhikkhunī Somā uttered this verse in reply:–
“What does it matter being a woman, when the mind is well composed?
Knowledge flows on with perfect insight into the truth.
“Whoever thinks thus, ‘I am a woman or a man,
Or I am anything at all,’ it is proper for Māra to address.”
Then Māra, the evil one, realising: “Bhikkhunī Somā knows me,” being disappointed and depressed, disappeared from there at once.
1. The Blind Man’s grove was so called because it was so thick that it was hard to see into or out of it.
2. With two fingers a woman makes a thread by twisting cotton fibres.