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Visakha was the devout and generous daughter of a millionaire. When she was only seven years old, the Buddha visited her birth place. Her grandfather, hearing of the Buddha’s visit, advised her to go out and welcome the Buddha. Though she was so young, she was religious and virtuous. As such, immediately after hearing the Dhamma from the Buddha, she attained the first stage of sainthood. When she was fifteen years old, some Brahmins who saw her, thought she would be an ideal wife for their master Punnavaddhana, the son of a millionaire named Migara. Visakha possessed the five kinds of feminine beauty – beautiful hair, a beautiful figure, beautiful bone structure, beautiful skin which was smooth and golden in colour, and youthfulness. Accordingly, they made arrangements for Visakha to be married to Punnavaddhana. One her wedding day, her wise father gave her some advice under ten headings as follows: 1. A wife should not criticize her husband and parents-in-law in front of other people. Neither should their weaknesses nor household quarrels be reported elsewhere. 2. A wife should not listen to the stories or reports of other households. 3. Things should be lent to those who do return them. 4. Things should not be lent
to those who do not return them. 5. Poor relatives and friends should be helped even if they do not repay. 6. A wife should sit gracefully. On seeing her parents-in-law or her husband, she should respect them by rising from her seat. 7. Before taking her food, a wife should first see that her parents-in-law and husband are served. She should also make sure that her servants are well cared for. 8. Before going to sleep, a wife should see that all doors are closed, furniture is safe, servants have performed their duties, and that parents-in-law have retired. As a rule a wife should rise early in the morning and unless she is sick, she should not sleep during the day. 9. Parents-in-law and husband should be treated very carefully like fire. 10. Parents-in-law and husband should be given the respect due to Devas. From the day Visakha arrived in savathi, the city of her husband, she was kind and generous to everyone in the city and everyone loved her. One day, her father-in-law was eating some sweet rice porridge from a golden bowl when a Bhikkhu entered the house for alms. Although her father-in-law saw the Bhikkhu, he continued to eat as if he had not seen the Bhikkhu. Visakha politely told the Bhikkhu, “pass on, venerable sir, my father-in-law is eating stale food.” For a long time Visakha’s father-in-law had been unhappy at her because she was a devout follower and supporter of the Buddha while he was not. He was looking for a chance to break off the marriage between his son and Visakha, but her conduct was faultless. Now he had got his chance. Misunderstanding Visakha’s words, he thought she had brought disgrace to his family. He ordered Visakha to be expelled from the house, but she reminded him her father’s request to eight clansmen. Her father told them, “if there be any fault in my daughter, investigate it.” The millionaire agreed to her request and summoned those eight clansmen to come and investigate whether Visakha was guilty of rudeness. When they arrived he told them, “Find her guilty of this fault and expel her from the house.” Visakha proved her innocence by explaining, “Sirs, when my father-in-law ignored the Bhikkhu and continued to eat his milk rice-porridge he was not accruing merit in his present life. He was only enjoying the merits of his past actions. Was these not like eating stale food?” her father-in-law had to admit that she was not guilty of being rude. There were other misunderstanding after this, but Visakha was able to explain to his satisfaction. After this, her father-in-law had realized his error and the great wisdom of Visakha. At her suggestion, he invited the Buddha to their house to give a sermon. On hearing the sermon, he became a Sotapanna. With wisdom and patience, she succeeded in converting her husband’s household to a happy Buddhist home. Visakha was also very generous and helpful to the monks. She built the pubbarna monastery at a great cost for the use of monks. Great was her joy when the Buddha spent six rainy seasons there. In one of the discourses that the Buddha delivered to Visakha, he spoke of the eight qualities in a woman that tend to her welfare and happiness in this world and the next: “herein, Visakha, a woman does her work well, she manages the servants, she respects her husband, and she guards his wealth. Herein, Visakha, a woman has confidence (Saddha) in the Buddha, Dhamma and sangha, virtue (Sila), charity (caga), and wisdom (Panna).” Being a lady who had many talents, she played an important role in various activities amongst the Buddha and his followers. At times, she was given the authority by the Buddha to settle disputes that arose amongst the Bhikkhunis (nuns). Some Vinaya rules of discipline were also laid down for the Bhikkhunis when she was called in to settle their disputes. She died at the age of one hundred and twenty.