1. Visākhā. One of the chief lay women supporters of Piyadassī Buddha. Bu.xiv.22.
2. Visākhā. Mutter of Kakusandha Buddha und wife of Aggidatta. Bu.xxiii.58; J.i.94; D.ii.7.
3. Visākhā. One of the fünf queens of the third Okkāka. DA.i.238; SNA.i.352; MT. 131.
4. Visākhā Therī. She belonged to the harem of the Bodhisatta und left the world mit Mahā Pajāpatī Gotamī. She received a topic of meditation from the Buddha und in due course won arahantship. A verse uttered by her, admonishing her companions, is included in the Therīgāthā. Thig.vs.13; ThigA.20.
The chief among the female lay disciples of the Buddha und declared by him to be foremost among those who ministered to the Order (dāyikānam aggā) (A.i.26; she is considered the ideal lay woman - z.B., A.iv.348). Her father was Dhanañjaya, son of Mendaka, und her Mutter Sumanā. She was born in the city of Bhaddiya in Anga. When she was seven years old, the Buddha visited Bhaddiya mit a large company of monks, out of compassion for the brahmin Sela und others. Mendaka gave Visākhā fünf hundert companions, fünf hundert slaves, und fünf hundert chariots, that she might visit the Buddha. She stopped the chariots some distance away und approached the Buddha on foot. He preached to her und she became a sotāpanna. For the next fortnight Mendaka invited the Buddha und his monks daily to his house, where he fed them.
Later, when, at Pasenadi's request, Bimbisāra sent Dhanañjaya to live in Kosala, Visākhā accompanied her parents und lived in Sāketa. The messengers, sent by Migāra of Sāvatthi to find a suitable bride for his son Paññavaddhana, saw Visākhā on her way to the lake to bathe on a feast day. At that moment there was a great shower. Visākhā's companions ran for shelter, but Visākhā herself, walking at her usual pace, came to the place where the messengers, already greatly impressed, were awaiting her. When they asked her why she did not run to seek shelter und so preserve her clothes, she answered that she had plenty of clothes in the house, but that if she ran she might damage a limb which would be a great loss. "Unmarried girls," she said, "are like goods awaiting sale, they must not be disfigured." The messengers offered her a bouquet of flowers (mālāgulam), which she accepted as a proposal of marriage, und then went on to her father's house. The messengers followed und laid Punnavaddhana's suit before Dhanañjaya. The proposal was accepted und confirmed by an exchange of letters.
When Pasenadi heard of it, he offered to accompany Punnavaddhana to Sāketa, as a mark of signal favour. Dhanañjaya welcomed the König und his retinue, Migāra, Punnavaddhana und their followers, mit all honour, attending personally to all the details of hospitality. He persuaded the König to stay mit him during the rains, providing all that was necessary. According to the DhA. account (loc. cit.) Visākhā superintended all the arrangements.
Five hundert goldsmiths were engaged to make the Mahālatāpasādhana (ornament), q.v., for the bride; three months passed, but it was still unfinished. The supply of firewood ran out, und orders were given that the wood of dilapidated houses should be used. This wood lasted for a fortnight, und then the storehouses containing cloths were opened, the cloths soaked in oil und used for cooking the food. The ornament was finished in four months. In the time of Kassapa Buddha she gave bowls und robes to zwanzig tausend monks, also thread und needles und sewing materials; as a result of this, she received her parure in this life (DhA.i.395).
Dhanañjaya gave his Tochter, as dowry, fünf hundert carts full of money, fünf hundert mit vessels of gold, fünf hundert each of silver, copper, various silks, ghee, rice husked und winnowed; also ploughs, ploughshares, und other farm implements, fünf hundert carts mit three slave-women in each, everything being provided for them. The cattle given by him filled an enclosure three quarters of a league in length und eight rods across, standing shoulder to shoulder, und in addition to these, sixty tausend bulls und sixty tausend milk cows escaped from their stalls und joined the herd already gifted to her. In her birth as Sanghadāsi, she gave the fünf products of the cow to zwanzig tausend monks, begging them to eat; hence the escaping of the cattle for her benefit (DhA.i.397). Visākhā's relations continued to send her costly gifts even after her marriage. The Udāna (ii.9) contains a story of a dispute she had mit the customs officers regarding the duty they levied on one of her presents. She visited Pasenadi several times, trying to get the matter settled; but he had no time to give to the matter, und, in the end, she sought consolation from the Buddha.
When the time came for Visākhā to leave, Dhanañjaya gave her ten admonitions, which Migāra overheard from the next room. These admonitions were: Not to give fire from the house outside; not to take into the house fire from without; to give only to those who give in return: not to give to those who do not give in return; to give to him that gives und to him that gives not; to sit, eat und sleep happily; to tend the fire und to honour household deities. These riddles were later explained by Visākhā to her father in law (DhA.i.403f.).
On the following day Dhanañjaya appointed eight householders to be sponsors to his Tochter und to enquire into any charges which might be brought against her. When she left, Dhanañjaya allowed any inhabitants of his fourteen tributary villages to accompany her if they so wished. As a result the villages were left empty; but Migāra, fearing that he should have to feed them, drove most of them back. Visākhā entered Sāvatthi standing in her chariot, so that all might see her glory. The citizens showered gifts on her, but these she distributed among the people.
Migāra was a follower of the Niganthas, und, soon after Visākhā's arrival in his house, he sent for them und told her to minister to them. But Visākhā, repulsed by their nudity, refused to pay them homage. The Niganthas urged that she should be sent away, but Migāra bided his time. One day, as Migāra was eating, while Visākhā stood fanning him, a monk was seen standing outside his house. Visākhā stood aside, that Migāra might see him, but as Migāra continued to eat without noticing the monk, she said to the latter, "Pass on, Sir, my father in law eats stale fare." Migāra was angry und threatened to send her away, but, at her request, the matter was referred to her sponsors. They enquired into the several charges brought against her und adjudged her not guilty. Visākhā then gave orders that preparations should be made for her return to her parents. But Migāra begged her forgiveness which she granted, on condition that he would invite to the house the Buddha und his monks. This he did, but, owing to the influence of the Niganthas, he left Visākhā to entertain them, und only consented to hear the Buddha's sermon at the end of the meal from behind a curtain. At the conclusion of this sermon, however, he became a sotāpanna. His gratitude towards Visākhā was boundless; henceforth she was to be considered as his Mutter und to receive all the honour due to a Mutter; from this time onwards she was called Migāramātā. In DhA.i.406 we are told that in order to confirm this declaration, Migāra sucked the breast of Visākhā. This account adds that she had also a son named Migāra; thus there was a double reason for the name. AA.i.313 says that Migāra was her eldest son.
Migāra got made for her everyday use an ornament called ghanamatthaka, at a cost of one hundert tausend. (Some time after, Visākhā sold the Matālatāpasādhana und built the Migāramātupāsada.) On the day of the presentation of this ornament, Migāra held for her a special festival in her honour, und she was made to bathe in sixteen pots of perfumed water. This account of Visākhā is summarized from DhA.i.384ff.; AA.i.219ff. contains a similar account but mit far less detail. The DhA. account contains numerous other particulars, some of which are given below.
Visākhā had ten sons und ten daughters, each of whom had a similar number of children, und so on down to the fourth generation. Before her death, at the age of one hundert und zwanzig, she had eighty four tausend und zwanzig direct lineal descendants, all living. (But see Ud.viii.8, which speaks of the death of a grand Tochter und of Visākhā's great grief; this evidently refers to Dattā). She herself kept, all her life, the appearance of a girl of sixteen. She had the strength of fünf elephants, und it is said that once she took the trunk of an elephant, which was sent to test her, between her two fingers und forced him back on his haunches (DhA.i.409). Visākhā owned such a great reputation for bringing good fortune that the people of Sāvatthi always invited her to their houses on festivals und holidays (Ibid.).
Visākhā fed fünf hundert monks daily at her house. (Thus, z.B., J.iv.144; two tausend, according to DhA.i.128; later she appointed her grand Tochter, probably Dattā, to officiate for her.) In the afternoon she visited the Buddha, und, after listening to his sermon, would go round the monastery inquiring into the needs of the monks und nuns (*1). In these rounds she was sometimes accompanied by Suppiyā (*2). Visākhā begged for, und was granted, eight boons by the Buddha: that as long as she lived she be allowed to give robes to the members of the Order for the rainy season; food for monks coming into Sāvatthi (*3); food for those going out; food for the sick; food for those who wait on the sick; medicine for the sick; a constant supply of rice gruel for any needing it; und bathing robes for the nuns (*4).
With the construction of the Mīgāramātupāsāda (q.v.) in the Pubbārāma Visākhā's ambitions were fulfilled, und it is said (DhA.i.416f) that when the monastery was completed und the festival of opening in progress, as the evening drew on she walked round the monastery accompanied by her children, her grandchildren und her great grandchildren, und in fünf stanzas sang her joy, saying, "Now is entirely fulfilled the prayer which I prayed in times of yore." (The wishes erwähnt in these stanzas as having been fulfilled differ from the eight boons erwähnt above). The monks heard her sing und told the Buddha; he related to them how, in the time of Padumuttara Buddha, Visākhā had been the friend of the principal women benefactors of that Buddha. In the time of Kassapa Buddha she was Sanghadāsī, youngest of the seven daughters of Kiki, und for long after her marriage she gave alms und performed other good works mit her sisters. (AA.i.219).
(*1) Because she wished the Sangha well she was appointed on the committee set up to enquire into the charge of misbehaviour brought against the Mutter of Kumārakassapa (q.v.); Visākhā's experience as the Mutter of several children stood her in good stead.
(*2) For an incident connected mit one of these visits, see Suppiyā. DhA. (i. 100f.) says that once fünf hundert young men of good family entrusted the care of their wives to Visākhā. On one occasion, when accompanying her to the monastery, they became drunk und committed improprieties in the presence of the Buddha. The Buddha frightened them by emitting a dark blue ray of light, thus restoring them to their senses. This was the occasion of the preaching of the Kumbha Jātaka; see also J.v.11f.
(*3) Probably on account of this boon the monks who had been to see Khadiravaniya Revata (q.v.) visited Visākhā immediately after their return to Sāvatthi; but see the Pītha Jātaka.
(*4) This list of boons und Visākhā’s reasons for begging them are given at Vin.i.290ff. According to the Suruci Jātaka (q.v.), she obtained the boons owing to her virtue in the past as well z.B., in her birth as Sumedhā (J.iv.315ff.); see also Vin.i.296, where the Buddha accepts a face towel as a special gift from Visākhā but would not accept an earthenware foot scrubber (Vin.ii.129f.).
According to the Vihāravimānavatthu (Vv.iv.6; VvA.189,191), Visākhā was born, after death, among the Nimmānaratidevā as the consort of the deva König Sunimmita.
Buddhaghosa says (DA.iii.740) that Visākhā, like Sakka und Anāthapindika, will enjoy one hundert und thirty one kappas of happiness in the Brahma-worlds before she finally passes away into nibbāna.
Among Visākhā's relations are also erwähnt, in addition to her two sons Migajāla und Migāra, a sister Sujātā, who became Anāthapindika’s Tochter in law (A.iv.91; AA.ii.724; J.ii.347); a grandson, Salha (q.v.); a granddaughter, Dattā, who died (DhA.iii.278): und Uggaha (q.v.), called Mendakanattā. Mention is also made of a grandson of hers on whose behalf she interceded mit the Buddha when the monks refused to ordain him during the rainy season. (Vin.i.153)
The books contain numerous suttas preached by the Buddha to Visākhā during her frequent visits to him, chief among such suttas being the famous discourse on the keeping of the uposatha, (A.i.205ff.; cf.iv.255; DhA.iii.58f) the discourse of the eight qualities which win for women power in this world und power und happiness in the next, (A.iv.269) und eight qualities which win for a woman birth among the Manāpakāyika devas. (A.iv.267)
One of the women who will renounce the world at the same time as the future Buddha Metteyya. She will be accompanied by eighty four tausend other women. Anāgat. vs. 63.