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Re: [SanghaOnline] Uppalava.n.naatheriigaathaa

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  • han tun
    To: Venerable Khammai Dhammasami, Sir, Some time back, a friend of mine and I read the first three verses of the Uppalava.n.naatheriigaathaa. 224. Ubho maataa
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 2 11:25 PM
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      To: Venerable Khammai Dhammasami,

      Sir,

      Some time back, a friend of mine and I read the first three verses of the Uppalava.n.naatheriigaathaa.

      224. "Ubho maataa ca dhiitaa ca,
      maya.m aasu.m [aabhu.m (sii.)] sapattiyo;
      Tassaa me ahu sa.mvego,
      abbhuto lomaha.msano.

      224. "In enmity we lived, bound to one man,
      Mother and daughter, both as rival wives!
      O what a woeful plight, I found, was ours,
      Unnatural offence! My hair stood up.
      -----
      225. "Dhiratthu kaamaa asucii,
      duggandhaa bahuka.n.takaa;
      Yattha maataa ca dhiitaa ca,
      sabhariyaa maya.m ahu.m.

      225. "Horror fell on me. Fie upon this life
      Of sensual desire, impure and foul,
      A jungle thick with thorny brake, wherein
      We hapless pair, my girl and I, had strayed!
      -----
      226. "Kaamesvaadiinava.m disvaa,
      nekkhamma.m da.t.thu khemato;
      Saa pabbajji.m raajagahe,
      agaarasmaanagaariya.m.

      226. "The evils in the life of sense, the strong
      Sure refuge in renouncing all, she saw.
      At Raajagaha went she forth and left
      The home to live the life where no home is.
      -----

      Sir, my friend, referring to the above three verses, said that Uppalava.n.naa Therii must have a very troublesome life before she became a bhikkhunii. I told him that these three verses cannot be the life story of Uppalava.n.naa Therii, because as I gather from (i) Buddhist Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, and (ii) Dhammapada Commentary, and (iii) Mahaa Buddhava.msa by Mingun Sayadaw, Uppalava.n.naa became a bhikkhunii without marrying any man. So these three verses must be the account of another person, and Uppalava.n.naa Therii must have repeated them for the sake of sa.mvega. But my friend would not take my word. He wanted some textual reference. So, at that stage I wrote to you in May 2012 seeking your kind advice.

      ---------------------

      Since then, while waiting for the time you may have some free time, I came across Psalms of the Early Buddhists: I. Psalms of the Sisters by Mrs. Rhys Davids, and I found the following excerpts.

      Quote: [And the Master, seated in conclave in the Jeta Grove, assigned her the foremost rank in the mystic powers. She, pondering the bliss of Jhana and of fruition, repeated one day certain verses. They had been uttered in anguish by a mother who had been living as her daughter's rival with him who later, when a Bhikkhu, became known as the Ganges-bank Elder, and were a reflection on the harm, the vileness and corruption of sensual desires.] End Quote.

      Quote: [Note: Four gaathaa's ascribed to this famous Sister are, in the Therigaathaa, recorded without break. The Commentary breaks them up into four episodes. In the first, a merchant's wife at Saavatthi, about to bear her first child in her husband's prolonged absence on business at Raajagaha, is turned out by his mother, who disbelieves the wife's fidelity. She seeking her husband, and delivered of a son at a wayside bungalow, another merchant carries off the babe in her absence, and adopts it. A robber-chief finds the distracted mother, and she bears him a daughter. This child she accidentally injures, and flees from the chief's wrath. Years after her son, yet a youth, weds both mother and daughter, ignorant of the kinship. The mother discovers the scar on her daughter's head, and identifies her rival as her own child.] End Quote.

      ---------------------

      Sir, from the above, it becomes clear that the first three verses do not portray the life of Uppala-va.n.naa Therii, but it was the story of the mother of a bhikkhu, known as the Ganges-bank Elder or Ga"ngaatiiriya Thera.

      Next, to be sure, I checked with Theragaathaa, and there I found the following:

      4. Ga"ngaatiiriyattheragaathaa

      127. "Ti.n.na.m me taalapattaana.m, ga"ngaatiire ku.tii kataa;
      Chavasittova me patto, pa.msukuula~nca ciivara.m.

      128. "Dvinna.m antaravassaana.m, ekaa vaacaa me bhaasitaa;
      Tatiye antaravassamhi, tamokhandho [tamokkhandho (sii. syaa.)] padaalito"ti.

      Sir, I do not have the English translation of the above two verses, but I do not think it explains his story of wedding unknowingly his own mother and sister.

      I think the detailed account will be in the Theragaathaa A.t.thakathaa and Theriigaathaa A.t.thakathaa, but I do not have the a.t.thakathaas. I will be most grateful if you have any comments on this topic.

      Respectfully,
      Dr Han Tun

      --- On Wed, 5/23/12, Khammai Dhammasami <oxford.k.dhammasami@...> wrote:
      From: Khammai Dhammasami <oxford.k.dhammasami@...>
      Subject: Re: [SanghaOnline] Uppalava.n.naatheriigaathaa
      To: SanghaOnline@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 4:16 PM

      Dear Dr. Han Tun,

      Can you remind of this question again in July when I have some free time? At the moment, I am examining some doctoral theses and preparing for conferences.

      with metta
      Ven. Khammai Dhammasami


      On 23 May 2012 03:57, han tun <hantun1@...> wrote:
      To: Venerable Khammai Dhammasami,

      Sir, I read the following three gaathaas in the Uppalava.n.naatheriigaathaa.

      11. Dvaadasakanipaato
      1. Uppalava.n.naatheriigaathaa

      224. "Ubho maataa ca dhiitaa ca,
      maya.m aasu.m [aabhu.m (sii.)] sapattiyo;
      Tassaa me ahu sa.mvego,
      abbhuto lomaha.msano.

      225. "Dhiratthu kaamaa asucii,
      duggandhaa bahuka.n.takaa;
      Yattha maataa ca dhiitaa ca,
      sabhariyaa maya.m ahu.m.

      226. "Kaamesvaadiinava.m disvaa,
      nekkhamma.m da.t.thu khemato;
      Saa pabbajji.m raajagahe,
      agaarasmaanagaariya.m.

      Sir, I will be very grateful to know whether the above three gaathaas represent the life of Uppalava.n.naa Therii or whether she was repeating the gaathaas uttered by another bhikhunii?

      Respectfully,
      Dr Han Tun

      --

      Venerable Dr. Khammai Dhammasami, DPhil (Oxford)
      Executive Secretary, International Association of Buddhist Universities (www.iabu.org);
      Executive Secretary, Association of Theravada Buddhist Universities (www.atbu.org);
      Trustee & Fellow, Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, University of Oxford;
      Professor, ITBMU, Yangon;
      Abbot, the Oxford Buddha Vihara, UK, Singapore & Malaysia
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