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Kisagotami: A Lesson On Impermanence

August 2, 2009

Story found on web

Kisagotami, a young woman, was married to the only son of a rich man and they had a male child. The child died when he was two years old. Kisagotami had intense attachment for the child. She clasped the dead child to her bossom, refused to part with it, and went from house to house, to her friends and relatives, asking them to give some medicine to bring the child back to life.

A Buddhist monk said to her: “O good girl! I have no medicine. But go to Lord Buddha. He can surely give you a very good medicine. He is an ocean of mercy and love. The child will come back to life. Be not troubled”.

She at once ran to Buddha and said, “O venerable sir! Can you give any medicine to this child ?”. Buddha replied, “Yes. I will give you a very good medicine. Bring some mustard seed from some house where no child or husband or wife or father or mother or servant had died”. She said, “Very good, sir, I shall bring it in a short time”.

Carrying her dead child in her bossom, Kisagotami went to a house and asked for some mustard seed. The people of the house said, “O lady, here is mustard seed. Take it”. Kisagotami asked, “In your house, has any son or husband or wife, father or mother or servant died ?”. They replied, “O lady! You ask a very strange question. Many have died in our house”. Kisagotami went to another house and asked the same. The owner of the house said, “I have lost my eldest son and my wife”. She went to a third house. People of the house answered, “We have lost our parents”. She went to another house. The lady of the house said, “I lost my husband last year”.

Ultimately Kisagotami was not able to find a single house where no one had died. Viveka and Vairagya dawned in her mind. She buried the dead body of her child. She began to reflect seriously on the problem of life and death in this world.

Kisagotami then went to Lord Buddha and prostrated at his lotus feet. Buddha said to her, “O good girl! Have you brought the mustard seed ?”. Kisagotami answered, “I am not able to find a single house where no one has died”. Then Buddha said, “All the objects of this world are perishable and impermanent. This world is full of miseries, troubles and tribulations. Man or woman is troubled by birth, death, disease, old age and pain. We should gain wisdom from experience. We should not expect for things that do not and will not happen. This expectation leads us to unnecessary misery and suffering. One should obtain Nirvana. Then only all sorrows will come to an end. One will attain immortality and eternal peace”.

Kisagotami then became a disciple of Buddha and entered the Order of Nuns.

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