369 – One verse poems

Written by the first Buddhist nuns.

Punna – Spoken by the Buddha to her.

The name you are called by means full, Punna,
So be filled by the good things, like the moon when it is full,
Break through all that is dark with wisdom made full.

Who was Punna? She was born in a wealthy Brahman family. Her name means performing righteous deeds in the name of God. She was ordained by Mahapajapati Gotami (Foster mother of the Buddha. She was the first woman to seek ordination for women, from the Buddha directly). The Buddha sent a vision of him to her and used it to speak this verse to her. The vision enabled her to do what was expected of her and she became enlightened. She then repeated this verse to all her disciples.

Dhira – Addressing herself, repeating what was spoken by the Buddha to her.

The name you are called by means self-reliance, Dhira.
So know these for yourself:
Cessation, the stilling of projections, happiness.

Attain nibhana, unsurpassed safety from all that holds you back.

Each of the theris (senior nuns) was enlightened when she heard the verse spoken by the Buddha to her to announce her achievement.

Life of freedom and happiness

Nibhana is the freedom and happiness attained by humans who learn to live as the Buddha taught. The word nibhana comes from a verbal root meaning, “to blow out” and this metaphor refers to the fires of desire (especially the urge for sex), anger, and ignorance burning out and ceasing to be. Such a person who after attaining nibhana lives a life of freedom and happiness and after death is not reborn again.

How do these Therigatha (anthology of poems by Buddhist nuns) affect us? They enable us to glimpse our potential. We cease to fear our day to day lives and understand that tomorrow does not have to be like today. The verse sets us free.

Aim Hrim Klim

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