| Minor Stories Index
The Story of Theri Kundalakesi
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (102) and
book, with reference to Theri Kundalakesi.
Kundalakesi was the daughter of a rich man from Rajagaha. She had led a very
but one day, she happened to see a thief being led out to be killed and she
immediately fell in
love with him. Her parents had to pay for the freedom of the thief, and they
married her off
to him. Although she loved her husband very dearly, her husband being a thief,
attracted to her property and her jewels. One day, he coaxed her to put on all
and led her to a mountain saying that he wanted to make some offerings to the
spirit of the mountain because that guardian spirit had saved his life, when he
was about to be
killed. Kundalakesi went along with her husband, but when they reached their
thief revealed that he intended to kill her and take her jewels. She pleaded
with him to take
her jewels, but to spare her life, but it was of no avail. She then realized,
that if she did not
get rid of her husband, there would be no way of escape for her. She felt she
cautious and crafty. So she said to her husband ,that as they would be together
only for a
few moments more, she wanted to pay respect to him for the last time. So saying,
round the man respectfully, she pushed him off the crag, taking him unaware.
After this, she had no desire to return home. She left all her jewellery hanging
on a tree, and
went on her way, without any idea where she was going. She happened to come to a
some Paribbajikas (female wandering ascetics) and she herself became a
Paribbajikas taught her all their one thousand problems in sophistry;
mastered all of them within a short time. Then her teachers told her to go out
into the world
and if she should find somebody, who could answer all her questions, to become a
pupil of him.
Kundalakesi went throughout the length and breadth of Jambudipa, openly
everyone else to compete with her. Accordingly, she came to be known as
On one occasion, she came to Savatthi. Before entering the city for alms-food,
she made a
mound of sand and stuck a branch of eugenia in it, her usual sign of invitation
to all others to
take up her challenge. Thera
Sariputta took up her challenge. Kundalakesi asked
thousand questions and Thera
Sariputta answered them all. When his turn came, he
just this, "What is the one? (ekam nama kim)." Kundalakesi could not answer, so
Sariputta to teach her the answer to the question. Thera
should first become a Bhikkhuni; so she became a Bhikkhuni, by the name of Theri
Within a few days, she became an Arahat.
Soon after this, the Bhikkhus asked the Buddha, "How could it be possible for
Kundalakesi to become an Arahat after listening to the Dhamma only
added that this lady had fought and won a victory over her husband, who was a
she became a Paribbajika.
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
Verse 102. Better than the recitation of a hundred verses, that are senseless and
with the realization of Nibbana, is the recitation of a single verse of the
Teaching (Dhamma), if
on hearing it, one is calmed.
Verse 103. A man may conquer a million men in battle, but one who conquers
himself is, indeed,
the greatest of all conquerors...
Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A.,
Burma Pitaka Association, Rangoon, Burma 1986.
24 December 2016