The woman at the well

Ananda, the favorite disciple of the Buddha, having been sent by the Buddha on a mission, passed by a well near a village. He saw a girl by the well who was called Pakati, a girl of the Matanga caste. He asked her for water to drink. Pakati said:

“O Brahman, I am too humble and mean to give you water to drink, do not ask any service of me lest your holiness be contaminated, for I am of low caste.”

And Ananda replied:

“I ask not for caste but for water”;

And the Matanga girls heart leaped joyfully and she gave Ananda a drink.

Ananda thanked her and went away; but she followed him at a distance. Having heard that Ananda was a disciple of Gotama Sakyamuni, the girl followed him back to the Buddha and cried:

“O Lord help me, and let me live in the place where Ananda your disciple dwells, so that I may see him and minister unto him, for I love Ananda.”

The Blessed One understood the emotions of her heart and he said:

“Pakati, your heart is full of love, but you do not understand your own sentiments. It is not Ananda that you love, but his kindness. Accept, then, the kindness you have seen him practice unto you, and in the humility of your station practice it unto others. Verily there is great merit in the generosity of a king when he is kind to a slave; but there is a greater merit in the slave when he ignores the wrongs which he suffers and cherishes kindness and good will to all mankind. He will cease to hate his oppressors, and even when powerless to resist their usurpation will with compassion pity their arrogance and supercilious demeanor.

“Blessed are you, Pakati, for though you are a Matanga you will be a model for noblemen and noble women. You are of low caste, but Brahmans may learn a lesson from you. Swerve not from the path of justice and righteousness and you will outshine the royal glory of queens on the throne.”

– An old Buddhist story.

Author: Bite-Size Dhamma

I'm a Buddhist layperson, trying to live well and skilfully with compassion, generosity, and discernment. I work in the field of housing law and homelessness casework. I have a beautiful kind wife, a very cute dog, and two loveable but surly cats.

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