The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words

This page describes Biography (11) Yasodhara Theri contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as life Histories of Bhikkhunī Arahats. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).

Biography (11) Yasodharā Therī

(As the Myanmar saying goes: “Masses of water follow the tide”, so also is the story of Bhaddhā Kaccānā (Yasodharā Therī), which is inseparably bound with that of the Buddha. The Commentary therefore treats her story only in a brief manner. We do likewise in this book.)

(a) Her Past Aspiration

The future Bhaddha Kaccānā (Yasodharā Therī), was reborn into a worthy family in the city of Haṃsāvatī, during the time of Buddha Padumuttara. When she was attending a sermon by the Buddha, she saw a bhikkhunī being named by the Buddha as the foremost bhikkhunī in attaining great supernormal power. She aspired to that attainment. After making an extraordinary offering to the Buddha, she made her aspiration in front of Him.

(b) Becoming A Bhikkhunī in Her Last Existence

The future Bhaddha Kaccānā was reborn only in the deva realm or the human realm for one hundred thousand world-cycles. During the time of Buddha Gotama, she was reborn as the daughter of the Sakyan Prince Suppabuddha, who was an uncle of the Buddha. She was named Bhadda Kaccānā.

When she came of age, she was married to Prince Siddhattha and became his Chief Queen. She gave birth to Prince Rāhula. On the night she gave birth to Rāhula, Prince Siddhattha renounced the home life. After attaining Perfect-Enlightenment at the foot of the Mahābodhi tree, the Buddha concerned Himself with the spiritual welfare of the sentient world. He made a journey to Kapilavatthu where He caused the enlightenment of His kith and kin.

During the Buddha’s fifth year (vassa) of Buddhahood, His father attained arahatship while reigning as a king and passed away the same day. Then Queen Mahāpajāpati Gotamī and the five Sakyan Princesses, whose husbands had become bhikkhus (as a result of listening to the discourse of the Great Occasion of Mahāsamaya Sutta), became bhikkhunīs in the Buddha’s Teaching. At that time, Queen Yasodharā (Bhaddha Kaccānā) and Princess Janapadakalyāṇī became bhikkhunīs with Mahāpajāpati Gotamī as the therīs’ preceptress.

Yasodharā, as a bhikkhunī was referred to as Bhaddha Kaccānā Therī. She strove to gain Insight and in due time attained arahatship.

(c) Bhadda Kaccānā Therī as The Foremost Bhikkhunī

Bhaddha Kaccānā Therī, after attaining arahatship, was most proficient in the exercise of supernormal powers. At one sitting, in a single adverting of her mind (āvajjana), she could recall all her previous existences over one incalculable period and a hundred thousand world-systems. This extraordinary feat of hers became the talk of the bhikkhu-world.

With reference to that wide reputation, the Buddha, in naming distinguished bhikkhunīs in a congregation in Jetavana monastery, declared:

Bhikkhus, among My bhikkhunī-disciples who are endowed with great supernormal powers, Bhikkhunī Bhaddha Kaccānā is the foremost etadagga).”

(Note that there are only four outstanding disciples of the Buddha who are endowed with such great supernormal powers. They have exceptional powers to recall past lives over one incalculable period and a hundred thousand worldsystems whereas other disciples can recall their past lives over a hundred thousand world-systems only. The four such exceptional disciples were the two Chief Disciples, Venerable Bākula and Bhaddha Kaccānā Therī.

The original name of the bhikkhunī was Bhaddha Kaccānā but on account of her golden complexion she was also known as Bhaddakañcānā.)

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