Poems from elder Nuns

The followings are poem from nuns found in Therigatha. Theri means Elder nun and gatha means verses. These are spontaneous verses of Nuns and I include some of my favorite here. Here’s the sources of these wonderful verses.


Mutta {v. 11}  

So freed! So thoroughly freed am I! — from three crooked things set free: from mortar, pestle, & crooked old husband. Having uprooted the craving that leads to becoming, I’m set free from aging & death.
I like the humor and spontaneous outburst from the heart. In the verse, mortar and pestle refers to the kitchen chores of cooking because in India, the various herbs and spices are crushed into a paste for seasoning of food. You can’t keep them for long in ancient India and one can imagine this laborous task every day.
Free from mortar, pestle and crooked old husband indeed!
If you are a guy reading this, remember not to take your wife’s cooking for granted and be grateful!
You can really feel the joy in her heart. Freedom from the mundane and Samsara.

Thig 3.2


translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Four times, five, I ran amok from my dwelling, having gained no peace of awareness, my thoughts out of control. So I went to a trustworthy nun. She taught me the Dhamma: aggregates, sense spheres, & elements. Hearing the Dhamma, I did as she said. For seven days I sat in one spot, absorbed in rapture & bliss. On the eighth, I stretched out my legs, having burst the mass of darkness.
I am full of admiration for this nun who is full of zeal and effort. Sitting in absorbtion for 7 days and breaking free on the 8th! WoW!

Vimala: The Former Courtesan

Intoxicated with my complexion figure, beauty, & fame; haughty with youth, I despised other women.
Adorning this body embellished to delude foolish men, I stood at the door to the brothel: a hunter with snare laid out.
I showed off my ornaments, and revealed many a private part. I worked my manifold magic, laughing out loud at the crowd.
Today, wrapped in a double cloak, my head shaven, having wandered for alms, I sit at the foot of a tree and attain the state of no-thought.
All ties — human & divine — have been cut. Having cast off all effluents, cooled am I, unbound.
This verse show the contrast between vanity and spirituality. Through her description, we know that she must be lovely to behold. Now a nun, peaceful and calm, she exhibit a new found confidence on her attainment in Enlightenment.


[The Buddha admonished me:]

Gutta, devote yourself to the goal for which you went forth, having discarded [hope] for a dear son of your own. Don’t fall under the sway of the mind. Hoodwinked by mind, beings in love with Mara’s realm, roam through the many-birth wandering-on, unknowing.

Abandoning these lower fetters, nun —
sensual desire,
ill will,
self-identity views,
grasping at precepts & practices, and uncertainty as the fifth — you won’t come to this again.
Forsaking passion, conceit, ignorance, & restlessness —cutting through [all] the fetters — you will make an end of suffering & stress.
Discarding birth & wandering-on, comprehending further becoming, free from hunger in the right-here-&-now you will go about totally calmed.
Here, the nun share with us admonishment by Buddha. It is a very direct advice and following it leads to liberation.

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