Buddha's Compassion And The Story of Kisa Gotami and The Mustard Seed

From Access to Insight.

When Kisa Gotami's young child had died, she refused to believe he was dead. After asking many people — in vain — for medicine that would revive the child, she was finally directed to the Buddha. When she told him her story, he offered to provide medicine for the child, but he would need some mustard seed — the cheapest Indian spice — obtained from a family in which no one had died. She went from house to house asking for mustard seed, and no one refused to give it to her. But when she asked if anyone had died in the family, the universal response was always, "Oh, yes, of course." After a while, the message sunk in: Death is universal. On abandoning the child's body to a charnel ground, she returned to the Buddha and asked to be ordained as a nun, and afterwards became an arahant.

The story also illustrates Buddha's compassion in leading Kisa Gotami to a deeper realization of suffering and compassion by addressing her immediate practical needs.


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