This is absolutely NOT about the blockbuster movie by Richard Gere and Julia Robert!!
Janapada Kalyani Nanda was indeed a very pretty woman.
Janapada Kalyani Nanda: Pretty Woman
[Translated from the Pali by Dr.C.B.Varma, D.Litt]
Janapada Kalyani Nanda was the prettiest maiden of the janapada (the kingdom). She was engaged in marriage to Nanda, the half brother of Gotama Buddha. Hence, she earned the sobriquet of Janapada Kalyani, which means the “Grace of the Kingdom”. She belonged to a noble family.
Engaged to the prince of the kingdom she was in deep love with her prospective groom and was over-thrilled with the prospect of her marriage with him.
Just on the day before her marriage when all preparations for the ceremony were being made the Buddha arrived at the palace and sent for Nanda, the groom. Further, she saw him walking out with the Buddha and thought that he would be back soon. But to her disappointment the groom did not return because the Buddha had taken him to his monastery to teach him to renounce the house-hold life and become a monk.
When all preparations for her marriage were taking place; she decked out in her finest dress and sat in the mandap decorated with flowers and with the banana stems raised on its four corners, the news of Nanda’s renunciation was announced all of a sudden. The news came as a blow on the bride-in-waiting. Shocked and terribly hurt, she swooned.
The Spiritual Journey of Janapada Kalyani
And in the course of time, she felt that her entire life was to be a waste. There was nothing very significant for her to pursue in the palace. She therefore decided to also join the Buddhist monastic order (Sangha). She renounced the sensuous home life under the guidance of Theri Pajapati Gotami, the Buddha and Nanda's mother.
Nevertheless, although Janapada Kalyani had outwardly renounced the world, her attachment to her own body and beauty remained intense. She was very proud of her physical charms.
As a result, she did not dare give ear to the Buddha’s discourses, which she felt would only highlight the impermanence of worldly phenomena like good looks.
She never allowed even the thought that her own unsurpassed beauty could some day fade away.
But it eventually happened that while visiting the Buddha with other bhikkhunis from the abbey (many of them also former royalty from the Buddha's family) she heard him preach.
The Buddha knew her mind with his psychic ability. He therefore created the mental form of a surpassingly gorgeous lady, who stood fanning him before he started his discourse.
While listening to the sutta, Janapada Kalyani was riveted by this young lady's stunning beauty. Then as the discourse progressed, she saw the maiden aging, passing the stages of decrepitude with:
Moreover, she also witnessed firsthand the change in the people's gaze, which was now no longer lustful and eager but cold and indifferent as they looked at her fanning the Buddha.
The aging continued and worsened until she saw her dead body begin to decompose in a mass of filth.
This startling demonstration filled Kalyani with a sense of spiritual urgency and mindfulness. The Buddha had sped up the inevitable not to distress her, but to impress on her the liberating-truth and the reason for temporarily detaching from everything impermanent.
Finally, detached from the mental bondage of craving for sensuality, she was able to really hear the sermon. It elevated Kalyani to the point of stream entry. This is the first stage of enlightenment, which results from seeing all phenomenal things as: passing, distressing, and utterly depending on supporting conditions for their existence. She realized (not believed) the truth of the impersonal, "empty" nature of things (anatta). And leaving behind desire for all things that rise and fall, she glimpsed nirvana -- the deathless, unsurpassable bliss.
Some time later, on hearing the Buddha deliver the discourse on the process of the body's decomposition (Kayavicchandika Sutta), Janapada Kalyani attained arahantship.
Love Buddha's dhamma,
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