Sunday, January 16, 2011

The story of Kisa Gotami and the Mustard Seed

Kisa Gotami lived in the time of the Buddha Shakyamuni at Savatthi in a poor household where she was called Gotami. She was so lean that they called her Gotami the Lean (Kisa). When she married, her new family scorned her, but when a son was born she was honored. 
When her son was of an age to run to all kinds of places, he one day fell and died. She was very sad. She thought about the scorn she had received and knew that without her son, she would be thrown out of the household. So in her sorrow she took the dead body on her hip and roamed the town, going from door to door asking for medicine. But people mocked her and asked her: of what use is medicine? She was so deeply lost in her sorrow that she did not understand what they meant. 
Then a certain wise man told her ‘Good woman, go to the Buddha, the Enlightened One, and ask Him for medicine for your child.'
So when the Master was teaching nearby, she went where he was staying and said: 'Oh Lord, give me medicine for my child.'
And the Master, beholding her destiny, replied: 'Go to town, and beg a mustard seed in a house where no man has died.' 
She did so and at the very first house asked: 'I would like a mustard seed as medicine for my child. If in this house no one has died, please give me a mustard seed.' The answer was: 'Who knows how many people have died here'.  'Then what use is such a mustard seed?' she said and went on to the next house, and the next, never getting what she asked. 
Her sorrow had subsided a bit, and she came back to her right mind. She thought: 'All over this town it must be like this. The Buddha must have known this and in his wisdom made me see.'
She rejoiced and buried the body out in a field and sang this verse:
This is no law for village or town,
No law for any single family.
Through all the world of devas and men
this law holds good:
All is Impermanent.
Content with her insight, she went back to the Buddha and he said: 'Have you found your mustard seed, Gotami?'
 She said: 'Done is the business of the mustard seed. Please teach me!.
 Gotami was later on ordained as a nun.
This is a good story that shows us how ignorance brings suffering in our lives and after getting wisdom, we can gain happiness.
But why is important to understand death? Because we all want to be happy, but in order to be happy, we need to understand that death is also part of life. If not, we are going to live a life of suffering, always fearful of the moment of death and if is not ours, from our loved ones. If you know death is coming, don’t run away, since you will never be able to escape, on the contrary, don’t waste time and prepare for it. Have your affairs in order and live a moral life.
This knowledge, when understood and applied, can help us make sense of this present lifetime. We learn to live the here and now because tomorrow, what is tomorrow?  


  1. what lesson did the kisa gotami teach?

  2. Buddha was given some assignment to Gothami till her sorrow get cram-down.And also there is hidden truth behind to check the ability of understanding dharma by Gothami and prepared for her to that.Here death body symbolize rupa(body) and mustered seed symbolize( nama )This reflect non of the living being remain forever but their viggnq never die down( like mustered seed as remain dead houses.

  3. it taught Buddhists that they need to follow dharma and sangha :)