Sunita the Outcaste


Sunita the Outcaste

In a lowly family I was born,
poor, with next to no food.

My work was degrading:
I gathered the spoiled,
the withered flowers from shrines
and threw them away.

People found me disgusting,
despised me, disparaged me.
Lowering my heart,
I showed reverence to many.

Then I saw the One Self-awakened,
arrayed with a squadron of monks,
the Great Hero, entering the city,
supreme, of the Magadhans.

Throwing down my carrying pole,
I approached him to do reverence.

He — the supreme man — stood still
out of sympathy
for me.

After paying homage
to the feet of the teacher,
I stood to one side
& requested the Going Forth from him,
supreme among all living beings.

The compassionate Teacher,
sympathetic to all the world, said:
“Come, monk.”
That was my formal Acceptance.

Alone, I stayed in the wilds,
I followed the Teacher’s words,
just as he, the Conqueror, had taught me.

In the first watch of the night,
I recollected previous lives;
in the middle watch,
purified the divine eye;
in the last,
burst the mass of darkness.

Then, as night was ending
& the sun returning,
Indra & Brahma came to pay homage to me,
hands palm-to-palm at their hearts:

“Homage to you, O thoroughbred of men,
Homage to you, O man supreme,
whose fermentations are ended.
You, dear sir, are worthy of offerings.”

Seeing me, arrayed with a squadron of devas,
the Teacher smiled & said:

“Through austerity, celibacy,
restraint, & self-control:
That’s how one is a brahman.
He is a brahman supreme.”

This reflection is from the Pali Canon, Theragatha 12.2 (PTS: Thag 620-631).