Inspiring bhikkhunis and laywomen in the EBTs - sutta quotes

Okay, I’m convinced! But really, it’s been on the to-do list for ages, and in fact we already have a rough draft. I will try to get to it as my first job once the nikayas are finished.


The Foremost Disciples (Etadaggavagga, AN Bk. 1 Vag. 14)

The Buddha names some of his bhkkhus and bhikkunis as foremost and gave special accolades- clearly to acknowledge them and to encourage others.

13 foremost bhikkunis
Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī : Eldest (Rataññū)
Khemā : Great Wisdom (Mahāpaññā)
Upalavaṇṇā : Psychic Power(Iddhimantu)
Paṭācārā : Discipline (Vinayadhārikā)
Dhammadinnā : Dhamma Speaker (Dhammakathika)
Sundarinandā : Meditation (Jhāyī)
Soṇā : Energetic (Āraddhaviriya)
Sakulā: Divine-Eye (Dibbacakkhu)
Bhaddā Kuṇḍalakesā : Speed in Deep Knowledge (Khippābhiññā)
Bhaddā Kapilānī : Past Life Recall (Pubbenivāsānussara)
Bhaddakaccāna : Great Deep Knowledge (Mahābhiññā)
Kisā Gotamī : Wearing Rough Robes (Lūkhacīvaradhārikā)
Singālamātā : Inclined to Confidence (Saddhādhimutta)

10 foremost female lay disciples
Sujātā : First Female Lay Disciple (Upāsikā Paṭhama Saraṇa)
Visākhā : Female Supporter (Dāyikā)
Khujjuttarā : Learned (Bahussuta)
Sāmāvatī : Loving-Kindness (Mettavihārī)
Uttarānandamātā : Meditator (Jhāyī)
Suppavāsā : Excellent Alms Donor (Paṇīta Dāyaka)
Suppiyā : Attending with Medicinal Drink (Gilānupaṭṭhāka)
Katiyānī : Unwavering Faith (Avecca Pasanna)
Nakulamātā : Trustworthy (Vissāsikā)
Kāḷī : Confidence in the Traditions (Anussava Pasanna)

Same excellence
Aññā Koṇḍaññā, Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī : Eldest (Rattaññū)
Sāriputta, Khemā : Great Wisdom (Mahāpaññā)
Moggallāna, Upalavaṇṇā : Psychic Power (Iddhimantu)
Anuruddha, Sakulā : Divine Eye (Dibbacakkhu)
Puṇṇa Mantāṇiputta, Sakulā, Citta : Dhamma Speaker (Dhammakathika)
Kankhārevata, Sundarinandā : Meditation (Jhāyī)
Soṇa Koḷivisa, Soṇā : Energetic (Āraddhaviriya)
Vakkali, Singālamātā : Inclined to Confidence (Saddhādhimutta)
Bāhiya Dārucīriya, Bhaddā Kuṇḍalakesā : Speed in Deep Knowledge (Khippābhiññā)
Ānanda, Khujjuttarā : Learned (Bahussuta)
Sobhita, Bhaddā Kapilānī : Past Life Recall (Pubbenivāsānussara)
Upāli, Paṭācārā : Discipline (Vinayadhāraka)
Mogharāja, Kisā Gotamī : Wearing Rough Robes (Lūkhacīvaradhāraka)
Tapusa and Bhallika, Sujātā : First to go for Refuge (Paṭhama Saraṇa)
Anāthapiṇḍaka, Visākhā : Supporter (Dāyaka)
Mahānāma, Suppavāsā : Excellent Alms Donor (Paṇīta Dāyaka)
Sura Ambaṭṭha, Katiyānī : Unwavering Faith (Avecca Pasanna)
Nakulapitu, Nakulamātā : Trustworthy (Vissāsaka)
cf. also
Vaṅgīsa Rādha : Extemporiser (Paṭibhānavantu) Extemporising (Paṭibhāneyyaka)
Nandaka Mahākappina : Instructor of Nuns (Bhikkhunovādaka) Instructor of Monks (Bhikkhu-ovādaka)

with metta


I think would be a really great project to support.

What would be nice maybe is to have some short sayings by contemporary nuns. Even just a paragraph or a few lines, or better still an essay, saying what they find inspiring about these passages.

I could certainly help with the translations, that would be no problem at all.

The overall idea is quite well organized as it is, and could easily see each of the original posts as a chapter, with the sayings from the suttas, and some from nuns as well. It would make a lovely free distribution book.


Bhante, thanks for your support with translations, and your suggestions! I’ll contact a few people to see if they would be willing to contribute.
Is there any estimate as to when your translations will be proofread?
I’m also very happy about the Therigatha. Yay! :tada:



The time frame is mid-Jan.


Looking forward to it!! :hearts::anjal:

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I’m not sure this counts as these are devas, but they’re female and inspiring and say cool stuff.

I’m referring to the two Suttas about Pajjuna’s daughter. SN 1.39 and SN 1.40

SN 3.8 Mallikaa

[The Blessed One was at Saavatthii]

At this time King Pasenadi of Kosala was on the upper terrace of the palace with Queen Mallikaa. And the king asked her: “Mallikaa, is there anyone dearer to you than yourself?”[1]

“Your Majesty, there is no one dearer to me than myself. And you, sire, is anyone dearer to you than yourself?”

“Nor is there anyone dearer to me, Mallikaa, than myself.”

Then the king went down from the palace and visited the Blessed One [and told him the whole story.] And the Blessed One, understanding, thereupon uttered this verse:

Though in thought we range throughout the world,
We’ll nowhere find a thing more dear than self.
So, since others hold the self so dear,
He who loves himself should injure none.


Vaddhi Sutta (SN 37.34) tr. Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

"A female disciple of the noble ones who grows in terms of these five types of growth grows in the noble growth. She grasps hold of what is essential and what is excellent in the body. Which five?

"She grows in terms of conviction.
"She grows in terms of virtue.
"She grows in terms of learning.
"She grows in terms of generosity.
"She grows in terms of discernment. […]

She grows in conviction & virtue,
discernment, generosity, & learning:
A virtuous female lay disciple
such as this
takes hold of the essence
right here within herself.


Just in case this recent opus is not known,
The following seems like an interesting study which could possibly list those quotes that we’ve started gathering on this thread. The book title “Women in Early Indian Buddhism: Comparative Textual Studies” and was published in 2013. I’ll paste the entire review:

The path of practice as taught in ancient India by Gotama Buddha was open to both women and men. The texts of early Indian Buddhism show that women were lay followers of the Buddha and were also granted the right to ordain and become nuns. Certain women were known as influential teachers of men and women alike and considered experts in certain aspects of Gotama’s dhamma. For this to occur in an ancient religion practiced within traditional societies is really quite extraordinary. This is apparent especially in light of the continued problems experienced by practitioners of many religions today involved in challenging instilled norms and practices and conferring the status of any high office upon women. In this collection, Alice Collett brings together a sampling of the plethora of Buddhist texts from early Indian Buddhism in which women figure centrally. It is true that there are negative conceptualizations of and attitudes towards women expressed in early Buddhist texts, but for so many texts concerning women to have been composed, collated and preserved is worthy of note. The simple fact that the Buddhist textual record names so many nuns and laywomen, and preserves biographies of them, attests to a relatively positive situation for women at that time. With the possible exception of the reverence accorded Egyptian queens, there is no textual record of named women from an ancient civilization that comes close to that of early Indian Buddhism. This volume offers comparative study of texts in five different languages - Gandhari, Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese and Sinhala. Each chapter is a study and translation, with some chapters focusing more on translation and some more on comparisons between parallel and similar texts, whilst others are more discursive and thematic.

About the author (2014)

Alice Collett is a Fellow of the Arts and Humanities Council of Great Britain (AHRC) and Lecturer at York St John University. She has worked in different universities in North America and the UK, and published several articles on women in early Indian Buddhism, including two which look at reception history and review the modern scholarly debate on the subject. She is currently working on a monograph entitled Pali Biographies of Buddhist Nuns, for which she is in receipt of an Arts and Humanities Research Council award.


Another directly relevant work:

Susan Elbaum Jootla, “Inspiration from Enlightened Nuns”, Buddhist Publication Society (Kandy, Sri Lanka), 1988.


SN 10.7

Punabbasu - The Non-Human Punabbasu

  1. At one time the Blessed One lived in the monastery offered by Anāthapiṇḍika in Jeta’s grove in Sāvatthi.
  1. At the time the Blessed One was advising, inciting, gladdening and making light the hearts of the bhikkhus with a talk on extinction. The bhikkhus too were listening lending ears attentively to absorb the essential.
  1. At that time the mother of the non-human Punabbasu was rejoicing with her son in this manner:

“Uttarika and Punabbasu, don’t make a noise, I’m listening to my Teacher
The Blessed One told of extinction for the release from all bonds
Throughout a long time I loved this Teaching.
One’s own sons and husband are endearing,
Those that tread the path of this Teaching are more endearing to me.
Dearly loved sons or husband do not release you from unpleasantness
As listening to the Teaching that releases living things from unpleasantness
The world is afflicted with decay and death,
The Teaching is realized for overcoming decay and death
I desire to hear that Teaching, Punabasu don’t make a noise.


  1. “Mother I will not say Uttara be silent, I listen to the Teaching.
    Hearing the Teaching is pleasant.
    Knowing it, I tread that path with difficulty.
    The Teaching is indeed a light for gods and men.
    The Enlightened One bears the last body and preaches.”

(Punabbasu’s mother:)

  1. “It is noble to give birth to a wise son
    My son likes the pure Teaching of the Enlightened One
    Punabasu may you be happy! I realized it today
    I realized the four noble truths. Uttara you too listen to me.”


Sukka I - The Bhikkhuni Sukka I

  1. At one time the Blessed One was living in the squirrels’ sanctuary in the bamboo grove in Rajagaha.
  1. At that time the bhikkhuni Sukka was preaching a large gathering of people.
  1. A non-human pleased with the bhikkhuni Sukka went from street to street and from junction to junction and said this stanza.

“Why should I say this, the people of Rajagaha are as though drunk, for a second.
They do not listen to Sukka preaching the deathless state,
Which comes unhindered, unmixed and with strength.
I think the wise drink it, as though a traveler caught in a rainy cloud.”


Sukka 1I - The Bhikkhuni Sukka II

  1. At one time the Blessed One was living in the squirrels’ sanctuary in the bamboo grove in Rajagaha.
  1. At that time a certain lay disciple had given the bhikkhuni Sukka almsfood.
  1. A non-human pleased with the bhikkhuni Sukka went from street to street and from junction to junction and said this stanza.

“Much merit accrues to that wise lay disciple
For giving alms to Sukka released and free from all bonds.”


(11) Cira or Vira - The Bhikkhuni Cira

  1. At one time the Blessed One was living in the squirrels’ sanctuary in the bamboo grove in Rajagaha.
  1. At that time a certain lay disciple had given the bhikkhuni Cira a robe.
  1. A non-human pleased with the bhikkhuni Cira went from street to street and from junction to junction and said this stanza:

“Much merit accrues to that wise lay disciple
For giving a robe to Cira, released and free from all bonds.”


Fabulous thread!
Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu! x 3000


For some good vibes I wanted to bring this up again…hope thats ok.
Thank you @vimalanyani, you’ve cleared my blurred vision.


A study of the Therīgāthā points to the fact that “Of the seventy-three nuns featured in it, three – Ubbirī (51-53),178 Sujātā (145-150),179 and Kisāgotamī (213-223)180 – realise arahantship as laywomen and then ordain afterwards.” The important point is that one can become an arahant while living the life of a lay person. In the case of women of this period in history it is logical that they decided to ordain as this will free them from the control of the men of their family.