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Verse 147: The story of Sirima

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (147) of this book, with
reference to Sirima the courtesan.

Once, there lived in Rajagaha, a very beautiful courtesan by the name of Sirima. Every day
Sirima offered alms-food to eight Bhikkhus. One of these Bhikkhus happened to mention to
other Bhikkhus how beautiful Sirima was and also that she offered very delicious food to the
Bhikkhus every day. On hearing this, a young Bhikkhu fell in love with Sirima even without
seeing her. The next day, the young Bhikkhu went with the other Bhikkhus to the house of
Sirima. Sirima was not well on that day, but since she wanted to pay obeisance to the
Bhikkhus, she was carried to their presence. The young Bhikkhu, seeing Sirima, thought to
himself, "Even though she is sick, she is very beautiful !" And he felt a strong desire for her.

That very night, Sirima died. King Bimbisara went to the Buddha and reported to him that
Sirima, the sister of Jivaka, had died. The Buddha told King Bimbisara to take the dead body
to the cemetery and keep it there for three days without burying it, but to have it protected
from crows and vultures. The king did as he was told. On the fourth day, the dead body of
the beautiful Sirima was no longer beautiful or desirable; it got bloated and maggots came
out from the nine orifices. On that day, the Buddha took his Bhikkhus to the cemetery to
observe the body of Sirima. The king also came with his men. The young Bhikkhu, who was so
desperately in love with Sirima, did not know that Sirima had died. When he learnt that the
Buddha and the Bhikkhus were going to see Sirima, he joined them. At the cemetery, the
corpse of Sirima was surrounded by the Bhikkhus headed by the Buddha, and also by the king
and his men.

The Buddha then asked the king to get a drummer announce that Sirima would be available
on payment of one thousand in cash per night. But no body would take her for one thousand,
or for five hundred, or for two hundred and fifty, or even if she were to be given free of
charge. Then the Buddha said to the audience, "Bhikkhus! Look at Sirima. When she was living,
there were many who were willing to give one thousand to spend one night with her; but now
none would take her even if given without any payment. The body of a person is subject to
sure decay and degradation"

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 147: Look at this dressed up body, a mass of sores, a frame of bones, sickly, a subject
of many thoughts (of sensual desire). Indeed, that body is neither permanent nor enduring.

At the end of the discourse, the young Bhikkhu attained Sotapatti Fruition.

Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A.,
Burma Pitaka Association, Rangoon, Burma 1986.

Saved: 24 December 2016  https://What-Buddha-Said.net/Canon/Sutta/KN/Dhammapada.Verse_147.story.htm