One) 28. The Story of Lady Patacara
the Buddha's lifetime there was a rich man who had
a charming daughter called Patacara. Her parents
loved her so much that they kept her in the seventh
storey of their mansion and did not let her go anywhere.
she was sixteen, Patacara's parents made arrangements
for her to marry the son of another wealthy man.
But she had already fallen in love with her pageboy
and wanted to be with him.
before the wedding, early in the morning, Patacara
dressed up like a servant and slipped out of the
mansion. She met her pageboy at an arranged place
and they ran away together.
couple traveled to a faraway place and were married.
After some time Patacara was ready to give birth
to their child. "Here I have no one to help
me," she said to her beloved husband, "but
a mother and father always have a soft spot in their
heart for their child. Please take me to my parents'
house so I may give birth to our child."
her husband said, "My darling, what are you
saying? If your mother and father were to see me
they would torture me to death. It is out of the
question for me to go." She begged him over
and over again and each time he refused to go.
day, when her husband was away, Patacara went to
her neighbours and told them, "If my husband
asks you where I have gone tell him that I have
gone home to my parents." When he came home
to find Patacara missing, her husband ran after
her and soon caught up, begging her to return home.
She began to refuse but right then her birth pains
started and she soon gave birth to a son. She thought,
"There is no point in going to my parents'
home now," and returned home with her husband.
some time she was ready to give birth to her second
child and left for her parents' home again while
her husband was at work. Again her husband came
after her and begged her to return with him but
this was happening a fearful storm arose. Patacara
told her husband, "Dear, my birth pains have
come upon me. I cannot stand it, please find me
a place to shelter from this storm."
husband took his axe and went here and there in the
heavy rain, looking for branches and leaves to make
a shelter. Seeing a bush growing on an anthill he
went to chop it down. As he did so a poisonous snake
slithered out and bit his hand, killing him immediately.
Patacara waited for her husband, her pains became
more and more severe and soon she gave birth to
another son. Weak, cold and wet she could do nothing
more than place her children to her bosom, curl
into the ground and wait out the night, worrying
desperately after her husband and sheltering as
best she could.
Early the next morning, with the newborn on her
hip and holding the hand of the other child, Patacara
went along the path her husband had taken and eventually
found him lying dead. "All because of me my
husband died on the road," she cried.
a while she continued walking along the path until
she came to the river Acirawati, which was flooded
from the storm. Since she felt weak from the previous
night she could not carry both children together.
Patacara placed the older boy on the bank and carried
the younger one across the river. She then put the
baby on a bed of leaves and returned for the older
had she come to midstream when a hawk came down
from the sky and swooped off with the young child.
Patacara saw the hawk and screamed in a loud voice,
"Su!, Su!" When he heard her voice across
the water the older boy thought, "Mother is
calling me." And, in a hurry to get to her,
he slipped down the bank and was swept away by the
Patacara became very distressed and cried and cried,
saying, "One of my sons has been carried away
by a hawk, the other swept away by the river, and
by the roadside my husband lies dead." She went
off weeping until she met a man and asked him, "Sir,
where do you live?"
Savatthi," he replied.
"In the city of
Savatthi in such and such a street lives such and
such a family. Do you know them, Sir?"
my good Lady, but don't ask me about that family.
Ask me about another family you know."
Sir, I know only that family. Please tell me about
them," said she.
"Since you insist, I cannot
hide the truth," said the man. "In the
heavy rains last night, the family's house collapsed,
killing all of them."
no!" cried Patacara.
can you see that fire over there?" he asked,
pointing to some flames. "That is their funeral
sooner had Patacara heard this than she fell on
the ground, rolling to and fro with grief. Some villagers
came and took her to the Jetavana monastery, where
the Buddha was teaching. The Buddha asked some ladies
to wash her, clothe her and give her food, and then
he consoled her in a most sweet and wonderful voice.
When she recovered her senses, and having gained
insight into her experiences, Patacara begged the
Buddha to ordain her. Thus Patacara became a bhikkhuni