Is mātugāmasseta the 'feminine ideal'?

In reference to iti109

‘Saltwater crocodiles and monsters’ is a term for females.
‘Gaharakkhaso’ti kho, bhikkhave, mātugāmassetaṁ adhivacanaṁ.

I’ve looked at this thread already with regard to mātugāma, but I’m wondering what the seta adds to this context? The dictionary is indicating it’s to do with purity.

Is this about the idea of a women’s purity or the ‘feminine ideal’? ie more about the objectification than the object, if that makes sense.


Could it be parsed mātu gāmassa etam ?

(Note the 2 s)


I’m more curious about rendering that -

PED gives “a kind of harmful (nocturnal) demon, usually making the water its haunt and devouring men” for ‘ rakkhasa’….

From Vedic rakṣa ?

Ireland has, “ Monsters and demons’ is a synonym for womenfolk “

Will have to take a look at the commentary.


rākṣa(sa) presumably?

Gaha as in “house”? A “house demon”?

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Gaha2 [Sk. graha, gaṇhāti, q. v. for etym.] “seizer,” seizing, grasping, a demon, any being or object having a hold upon man.


:person_facepalming: thanks for pointing out the obvious.


Everything is obvious once you see it! :pray:


I see Masefield hews closest to the Pali syntax:

“with crocodiles, with demons—this, monks, is a metaphorical expression for womenfolk;”

(p. 107)

(He opts for the variant ‘sagaho sarakkhaso’)

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@Brahmali The Venerable invoked this sutta during a Dhamma talk for Polish Buddhists. And held in nervous tension with the lector whether he would reveal what was behind the words crocodile and monster. It was epic. Really funny and joyful.


I would say, perhaps in an effort to be charitable, that this sutta is aimed at young male monastics, warning them about the dangers of sexual desire.

It’s the lust that arises in the men’s minds that’s the monster, not the women themselves.


I agree. Women are not monsters. However, for an averagely intelligent person who can’t read metaphors, it can either be offensive or an argument to be discriminatory to all women.

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And of course, for the women it is the men who are the monsters! All such suttas work both ways.


I’m wondering if this is the case, shouldn’t these sorts of sutta now (2023) be translated in a non gender specific way? @sujato starts out well with:

Suppose a person was being carried along by a river current…

But then goes for

Mister, even though …

for the next line.

As an aside, as it stands the translation is inclusive in it’s warnings to hetero male paedophiles and hetero male zoophiles (my new word for today!), but not to women, gay males or the non-binary community. This both amuses and distresses me in fairly equal measure :wink:


My general rule is that translations should be non-gender specific unless the text is gendered. In this case, the text specifically refers to women in a clearly gendered way. We can reasonably interpret it in a more universal sense, but that would be step too far for a translation, I feel.

I don’t like this manner of expression, but it’s not my job as a translator to make the texts likable.


Thanks for taking the time Bhante. Until English morphs into a language that is gender non specific and translators don’t have the choice, I guess I’ll have to be content. Many thanks for pushing the envelope as far as you do.

Yes, many more monsters need to be added to the list! Whoever you might fancy, really. The world is a scary place.


What excites and attracts us is a monster and a danger to us. It was the same with the poor jataka deer. He followed the deer and ended up roasted on the fire… Valuable in my opinion. At least now I know the Venerable would agree with my interpretation of the jataka stories. About a rooster and a cat or about deer.

These are not stories for idiots at all, as some people think!

By the way, if anyone knows more jatak stories with the theme of dangerous traps. It would be most grateful for help.

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In Polish, rooster is “Kogut”. Story about the rooster has name in pali “Kokkuta Jataka” :smiley:
We Polish-speaking people are like a Buddha in many words :smiley:

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It is onomatopoetic term, so the word for rooster is based on the sound he makes. Like cock in English or cucurio in Latin. In other words, many language share the same word for rooster. :wink:


Haan in NIEDERLÄNDISCH. Je benijdt me. :smiley:

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