Monday, June 21

Nakula's Parents



The sutta about Nakula's Parents, found at AN VI.16 provides some wonderful, deeply inspiring passages. I will not quote it in its entirety here, but 2 passages stand out:


Now it may be that you are thinking, 'Nakula's mother will take another husband after I'm gone,' but you shouldn't see things in that way. You know as well as I how my fidelity (lit., "householder-celibacy") has been constant for the past sixteen years. So don't be worried as you die, householder. Death is painful for one who is worried. The Blessed One has criticized death when one is worried."


That the word for mariltal fidelity literally means "householder-celibacy" may be significant. It may be the case that married householders can continue to enjoy their marriage bed, and that such fidelity is a sufficient component of a householder's sila; complete abstinence is not required for a layperson's progress on the path. For, as we see from the following passage, Nakula's mother did quite well.

"Now it may be that you are thinking, 'Nakula's mother will not reach firm ground in this Doctrine & Discipline, will not attain a firm foothold, will not attain consolation, overcome her doubts, dispel her perplexity, reach fearlessness or gain independence from others with regard to the Teacher's message [a standard description of a stream-winner],' but you shouldn't see things in that way. To the extent that the Blessed One has white-clad householder female disciples who reach firm ground in this Doctrine & Discipline, attain a firm foothold, attain consolation, overcome their doubts, dispel their perplexity, reach fearlessness, & gain independence from others with regard to the Teacher's message, I am one of them. If anyone doubts or denies this, let him go ask the Blessed One, the worthy one, the rightly self-awakened one who is staying among the Bhaggas in the Deer Park at Bhesakala Grove, near Crocodile Haunt. So don't be worried as you die, householder. Death is painful for one who is worried. The Blessed One has criticized being worried at the time of death."


After being exhorted by his wife, Nakula's father's disease subsided. He went at a later time to the Buddha, and the Buddha confirmed what Nakula's mother had said, and stated that Nakula's father was very fortunate to have such a wife -- "sympathetic & wishing for your welfare" -- as his counselor & instructor.

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