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SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.

Posted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:48 am
by mikenz66
SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.
Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi


https://suttacentral.net/en/sn16.10


Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Venerable Mahakassapa was dwelling at Savatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapiṇḍika’s Park. Then, in the morning, the Venerable Ānanda dressed and, taking bowl and robe, he approached the Venerable Mahakassapa and said: “Come, Venerable Kassapa, let us go to the bhikkhunīs’ quarters.” [286]

“You go, friend Ānanda, you’re the busy one with many duties.” [287]

A second time the Venerable Ānanda said to the Venerable Mahakassapa: “Come, Venerable Kassapa, let us go to the bhikkhunīs’ quarters.”

“You go, friend Ānanda, you’re the busy one with many duties.”

A third time the Venerable Ānanda said to the Venerable Mahakassapa: “Come, Venerable Kassapa, let us go to the bhikkhunīs’ quarters.”

Then, in the morning, the Venerable Mahakassapa dressed and, taking bowl and robe, went to the bhikkhunīs’ quarters with the Venerable Ānanda as his companion. When he arrived he sat down on the appointed seat. Then a number of bhikkhunīs approached the Venerable Mahakassapa, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. As they were sitting there, the Venerable Mahakassapa instructed, exhorted, inspired, and gladdened those bhikkhunīs with a Dhamma talk, after which he rose from his seat and departed.

Then the bhikkhunī Thullatissa, being displeased, expressed her displeasure thus: “How can Master Mahakassapa think of speaking on the Dhamma in the presence of Master Ānanda, the Videhan sage? [288] For Master Mahakassapa to think of speaking on the Dhamma in the presence of Master Ānanda, the Videhan sage—this is just as if a needle-peddler would think he could sell a needle to a needle-maker!”

The Venerable Mahakassapa overheard the bhikkhunī Thullatissa making this statement and said to the Venerable Ānanda: “How is it, friend Ānanda, am I the needle-peddler and you the needle-maker, or am I the needle-maker and you the needle-peddler?”

“Be patient, Venerable Kassapa, women are foolish.” [289]

“Hold it, friend Ānanda! Don’t give the Saṅgha occasion to investigate you further. [290] What do you think, friend Ānanda, was it you that the Blessed One brought forward in the presence of the Bhikkhu Saṅgha, saying: ‘Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I enter and dwell in the first jhana, which is accompanied by thought and examination, with rapture and happiness born of seclusion. Ānanda too, to whatever extent he wishes, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, enters and dwells in the first jhana’?”

“No, venerable sir.”

“I was the one, friend, that the Blessed One brought forward in the presence of the Bhikkhu Saṅgha, saying: ‘Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, … I enter and dwell in the first jhana…. Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, enters and dwells in the first jhana.’

The same exchange is repeated for the remaining meditative attainments and the six direct knowledges, all as in the preceding sutta: SN 16.9, viewtopic.php?f=25&t=30042

“I was the one, friend, that the Blessed One brought forward in the presence of the Bhikkhu Saṅgha, saying: ‘Bhikkhus, by the destruction of the taints, in this very life I enter and dwell in the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, realizing it for myself with direct knowledge. Kassapa too, by the destruction of the taints, in this very life enters and dwells in the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, realizing it for himself with direct knowledge.’

“Friend, one might just as well think that a bull elephant seven or seven and a half cubits high could be concealed by a palm leaf as think that my six direct knowledges could be concealed.” [291]

But the bhikkhunī Thullatissa fell away from the holy life. [292]


Notes

[286] From the absence of any reference to the Blessed One in the introduction it is likely that this sutta takes place after his parinibbāna. Spk supports this supposition (see following note), as does Ānanda’s use of the vocative bhante when addressing Mahākassapa. Before the Buddha expired the monks used to address one another as āvuso, “friend” (see DN II 154,9-15 DN 16 ).

Spk: Ānanda asked him to come to the bhikkhunīs’ quarters in order to inspire them and to explain a meditation subject, thinking they would place faith in the talk of the disciple who was the Buddha’s counterpart (buddhapaṭibhāga-sāvaka ).

[287] Spk: He was not involved with building work, etc., but the four assemblies would come to the Elder Ānanda lamenting over the Buddha’s demise and he would be obliged to console them (see SN 9.5 and I, n. 541).
  • On one occasion the Venerable Ānanda was dwelling among the Kosalans in a certain woodland thicket. Now on that occasion the Venerable Ānanda was excessively involved instructing lay people. [541] ...
    Note 541: pk: This sutta takes place shortly after the Buddha’s parinibbāna. The Venerable Mahākassapa had enjoined Ānanda to attain arahantship before the first Buddhist council convened, scheduled to begin during the rains retreat. Ānanda had gone to the Kosala country and entered a forest abode to meditate, but when the people found out he was there they continually came to him lamenting over the demise of the Master. Thus Ānanda constantly had to instruct them in the law of impermanence. The devatā, aware that the council could succeed only if Ānanda attended as an arahant, came to incite him to resume his meditation.

[288] Her name means “Fat Tissā.” Spk glosses vedehimuni with paṇḍitamuni, “wise sage,” explaining: “A wise person endeavours with erudition consisting in knowledge—that is, he does all his tasks—therefore he is called Videhan (paṇḍito hi ñāṇasaṅkhā-tena vedena īhati … tasmā vedeho ti vuccati). He was Videhan and a sage, hence ‘the Videhan sage.’” Ap-a 128,12, however, offers a more plausible explanation: “Ānanda was called vedehimuni because he was a sage and the son of a mother from the Vedeha country [= Videha] (Vedeharaṭṭhe jātattā Vedehiyā putto).” See I, n. 233.
  • Note 233 from SN 3.14: Ajātasattu was Pasenadi’s nephew, son of his sister and King Bimbisāra, ruler of Magadha. While still a prince Ajātasattu was incited by Devadatta to usurp the throne and have his father executed; soon afterwards his mother died of grief. War broke out when Pasenadi and Ajātasattu both laid claim to the prosperous village of Kāsı̄, situated between the two kingdoms, which Pasenadi’s father, King Mahākosala, had given to his daughter when she married Bimbisāra (see prologue to Ja No. 239). The four divisions of the army are elephant troops, cavalry, chariot troops, and infantry, enumerated in the next sutta.
[289] Khamatha bhante Kassapa bālo mātugāmo. I have translated this sentence with complete fidelity to the text, aware that some readers might find the rendering provocative. One consultant told me, “You’ve just lost half your readership,” and suggested I avoid drawing criticism to the translation by rendering bālo mātugāmo as “she is a foolish woman.” To my mind, this would distort the meaning of the Pāli in subservience to current views of gender. I do not see how the sentence could be construed in any other way than I have rendered it. I leave it to the reader to decide whether Ānanda himself could actually have made such a statement or whether it was put into his mouth by the compilers of the canon.

[290] Spk: This is what is meant: “Do not let the Saṅgha think, ‘Ānanda restrained the disciple who was the Buddha’s counterpart, but he did not restrain the bhikkhunī. Could there be some intimacy or affection between them?’” He utters the following passage (on his meditative attainments) to demonstrate how he is the Buddha’s counterpart.

[291] Spk glosses sattaratana (seven cubits) as sattahatthappamāṇa (the measurement of seven hands); a hattha (lit. “hand”), which extends from the elbow to the fingertip, is approximately two feet. This is one of the rare texts in the Nikāyas where the word abhiññā is used collectively to designate the six higher knowledges.

[292] Spk: After she had censured the disciple who was the Buddha’s counterpart, even while Mahākassapa was roaring his lion’s roar about the six abhiññās, her saffron robes began to irritate her body like thorny branches or a prickly plant. As soon as she removed them and put on the white clothes (of a lay woman) she felt at ease.

Re: SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:33 am
by mikenz66
This is a rather curious Sutta.

Ānanda and Mahakassapa appearing to not get on.

Ānanda's infamous "Women are foolish" statement.

An apparently boastful Mahakassapa.

A grumpy Bhikkhuni Thullatissa, who abandons the robes at the end of the sutta.

Any pointers on what message(s) we should take from all this?

:heart:
Mike

Re: SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 8:09 am
by mikenz66
This sutta has two Chinese parallels: https://suttacentral.net/sn16.10
Unfortunately, they don't have English translations on Sutta Central. Anyone up to summarising the similarities and differences to the Pali?

:heart:
Mike

Re: SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:06 pm
by aflatun
mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:33 am
This is a rather curious Sutta.

Ānanda and Mahakassapa appearing to not get on.

Ānanda's infamous "Women are foolish" statement.

An apparently boastful Mahakassapa.

A grumpy Bhikkhuni Thullatissa, who abandons the robes at the end of the sutta.

Any pointers on what message(s) we should take from all this?

:heart:
Mike
I'm really not sure mike, the meaning is not clear to me, it kind of reads like a big bummer to be honest!

Maybe Bhikkhuni Thullatissa didn't understand that authority comes from attainment of the goal, not one's personal relationship with the Buddha (Ananda) (Perhaps she thinks otherwise because "women are foolish" :thinking:)

Knowledge > "personal relationships" with the Teacher ?

Or maybe she just didn't like Mahakassapa's style :)

Re: SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:51 pm
by L.N.
mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:33 am
Any pointers on what message(s) we should take from all this?
Maybe that one is to be cautious of judging teachers according to our personal assessment of them. It seems Bhikkhuni Thullatissa favored Ananda, maybe because he was much more engaged with the Bhikkhunis and with other people generally than was Mahakassapa. So she somehow found fault in Mahakassapa despite his wisdom. Similarly, we might favor what one person says over what some other person says on the basis of some personal preference other than the underlying wisdom of what is being said.

Re: SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.

Posted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:33 am
by mikenz66
Thank aflatun and L.N. Those are great comments!

:heart:
Mike

Re: SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:32 am
by thomaslaw
mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 8:09 am
This sutta has two Chinese parallels: https://suttacentral.net/sn16.10
Unfortunately, they don't have English translations on Sutta Central. Anyone up to summarising the similarities and differences to the Pali?

:heart:
Mike
Yes, the English translation and the similarities and differences to the Pali are presented in this article:

Choong Mun-keat. 2017. ‘A comparison of the Pāli and Chinese versions of the Kassapa Saṃyutta, a collection of early Buddhist discourses on the Venerable Kāśyapa’. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 27 (2): 295-311.

Particularly pp. 303-304, section (4) "Women are foolish": Ananda's response to Mahakasyapa (SA 1143 = ASA 118 = SN 16.10; cf. SA 1144 = ASA 119 = SN 16.11)

The Chinese version only says 'this' woman (not 'women are foolish'). :thumbsup:

Thomas

Re: SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:10 am
by mikenz66
Thanks Thomas.

That is an interesting article. Choong Mun-Keat has also written articles about the Brāhmaṇa Saṃyutta and the Sakka Saṃyutta.
The Pali text SN 16.10 has the statement “women are foolish” made by Ananda
to Mahakasyapa, whereas the two Chinese versions, SA 1143–4 and ASA 118–9, refer to
only the particular bhikshuni in question as being foolish.

It is possible that the translators of the two Chinese versions deliberately portrayed
the event in this way by adding the word “this”, in order to avoid offending
Chinese women of that period.
[Unfortunately, the diacriticals and Chinese characters do not copy properly.]

:heart:
Mike

Re: SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:10 pm
by SDC
Hard to imagine pride getting the best of an arahat, though there are accounts of rather unsavory behavior by arahats so I suppose it is not out of the question. If I recall correctly, Ven Kassapa practiced as a layperson while continuing to live with his wife, who also practiced. Just doesn't add up.

Taking it as a whole, keeping the possibility of corruption in mind, the point was likely that you should not judge a monk based on his outward status. I believe Kassapa passed away prior to the Buddha, which means that Ananda had yet to become an arahat when these events took place - if Ananda had a bolstered reputation, being the Buddha's attendant, followers were likely apt to take him more seriously than the much older Kassapa (who was widely associated with being very austere) despite the fact that he was perhaps the most impressive of all the arahats. Also there is the whole deal of Ananda being pro-Bhikkuni, and being the one who convinced the Buddha to allow for the lineage despite his twice refusing. Taking all of this into consideration, it may have been a prime opportunity to let the nuns know that despite Ananda's generosity and stature, the arahats far exceeded him in terms of understanding the Dhamma. Who knows how problematic the issue had become and perhaps Kassapa served to quell the spread of the relatively inferior influence of Ananda which was likely taking place due to his reputation and not necessarily any deliberate action on his behalf.

Re: SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:43 pm
by mikenz66
SDC wrote:
Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:10 pm
I believe Kassapa passed away prior to the Buddha, which means that Ananda had yet to become an arahat when these events took place ...
Probably correct on the second point, but apparently not the first. See:
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=28966#p416291

A small part of the DPPN entry:
http://aimwell.org/DPPN/maha-kassapa_thera.html
He was very reluctant to teach the nuns, but on one occasion he allowed himself to be persuaded by Ānanda, and accompanied by him he visited the nunnery and taught the nuns. He was probably not popular among them, for, at the end of his discourse, Thulla-Tissā openly reviled him for what she called his impertinence in having dared to teach in the presence of Ānanda, “as if the needle-pedlar were to sell a needle to the needle-maker.” Kassapa loved Ānanda dearly, and was delighted when Ānanda attained Arahantship in time to attend the First Recital, and when Ānanda appeared before the Arahants, it was Kassapa who led the applause. However, Kassapa was very protective of the good name of the Order, and we find him  blaming Ānanda for admitting into the Order new members incapable of observing its discipline and of going about with them in large numbers, exposing the Order to the criticism of the public. “You are a corn-trampler, Ānanda,” he says, “a despoiler of families, thy following is breaking up, thy youngsters are melting away,” and ends up with “The boy, methinks, does not know his own measure.” Ānanda, annoyed at being called “boy,” protests: “Surely my head is growing grey hairs, your reverence.” This incident, says the Commentary  took place after the Buddha’s death, when Ānanda, as a new Arahant and with all the honour of his intimacy with the Buddha, whose bowl and robe he now possessed, had become a notable personage. Thullanandā heard Kassapa censuring Ānanda and raised her voice in protest, “What now? Does Kassapa, once a heretic, deem that he can chide the learned sage Ānanda?” Kassapa was shocked by her words, and complained to Ānanda that such things should be said of him who had been singled out by the Buddha for special honour.
:heart:
Mike

Re: SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:22 pm
by binocular
L.N. wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:51 pm
Maybe that one is to be cautious of judging teachers according to our personal assessment of them. It seems Bhikkhuni Thullatissa favored Ananda, maybe because he was much more engaged with the Bhikkhunis and with other people generally than was Mahakassapa. So she somehow found fault in Mahakassapa despite his wisdom. Similarly, we might favor what one person says over what some other person says on the basis of some personal preference other than the underlying wisdom of what is being said.
Who had seniority as a monk -- Ananda or Mahakassapa?

Re: SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:06 pm
by mikenz66
binocular wrote:
Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:22 pm
Senior in what sense? Number of rains, or types of attainments?

From the above DPPN link:
Mahā-Kassapa Thera was one of the Buddha’s most eminent disciples, chief among those who upheld minute observances of form (dhutavādānaṃ)....

Ānanda came to be known as Dhammabhaṇḍāgārika, owing to his skill in remembering the word of the Buddha; it is said that he could remember everything spoken by the Buddha, from one to sixty thousand words in the right order; and without missing one single syllable. ...
http://aimwell.org/DPPN/ananda.html#Attendant

:heart:
Mike

Re: SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.

Posted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 1:01 am
by Dhammanando
binocular wrote:
Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:22 pm
Who had seniority as a monk -- Ananda or Mahakassapa?
Ven. Mahākassapa was ordained first.

Re: SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.

Posted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 3:54 pm
by L.N.
Alphabetically, Ananda comes first.

Re: SN 16.10 Bhikkhunūupassaya Sutta. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters.

Posted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 8:51 pm
by mikenz66
:rofl: