Saṃyutta Nikāya 16

Connected Discourses with Kassapa

10. The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters

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.”

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

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? 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.”

“Hold it, friend Ānanda! Don’t give the Saṅgha occasion to investigate you further. 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.

“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.”

But the bhikkhunī Thullatissa fell away from the holy life.