Ambapali The Former Courtesan

Another poem from the Theragatha. Ambapali was found as a baby by a gardener at foot of a mango tree in the king’s gardens. She was beautiful, but had not family, so she became a courtesan. She grew rich, and later in life converted to Buddhism. With her own money she bought a garden and converted it into a monastery. Her son ordained there as the monk Ven. Vimala-Kondañña. In her old age, Ambapali meditated on her aging body, and composed the following poem.

Once my hair was as curly and black as a bee.
Now as I age it looks more like hemp.
But the words of the Teacher remain.

Once my hair smelled like a bundle of flowers.
Now as I age it smells like old fur.
But the words of the Teacher remain.

Once my hair was as thick as a jungle grove, decorated with a comb and pin.
Now as I age it is dishevelled and thin.
But the words of the Teacher remain.

Once decorated with gold and jewels
Now as I age I have lost my hair.
But the words of the Teacher remain.

My eyebrows were once a shapely as though crafted by a sculptor.
Now as I age they are wrinkled and sagging.
But the words of the Teacher remain.

My eyes were once dark and sparkling as jewels.
Now as I age they grow dim.
But the words of the Teacher remain.

My nose was once exquisitely curved.
Now as I age it has shriveled.
But the words of the Teacher remain.

My ears were once as lovely as delicate bracelets.
Now as I age they are wrinkled and sagging.
But the words of the Teacher remain.

My teeth were once like budding plantains.
Now as I age they are broken and yellow.
But the words of the Teacher remain.

My voice was once like a bird playing in the jungle.
Now as I age it creaks and cracks.
But the words of the Teacher remain.

My breasts were once firm, round, and full.
Now as I age they sag like empty water skins.
But the words of the Teacher remain.

Once my body was as magnificent as a sheet of gold.
Now I am covered in wrinkles.
But the words of the Teacher remain.

This is what happens to the body. It becomes old, weary, and ugly.
Like a house with decaying mortar.
But the words of the Teacher remain.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Ambapali The Former Courtesan

  1. Just discovered your beautiful blog today, while I was searching for thoughts on jhana and nimittas. So excited to catch up on your many wonderful years of thoughtful and fun discourse, while newly connected to get the fresh baked ones!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s