Verses of the Elder Nuns

The Therigatha, the ninth book of the Khuddaka Nikaya, consists of 73 poems — 522 stanzas in all — in which the early nuns (bhikkhunis) recount their struggles and accomplishments along the road to arahantship. Their stories are told with often heart-breaking honesty and beauty, revealing the deeply human side of these extraordinary women, and thus serve as inspiring reminders of our own potential to follow in their footsteps.

An excellent print translation of the Therigatha is Poems of Early Buddhist Nuns, translated by C.A.F. Rhys Davids and K.R. Norman (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1989).

The translator appears in the square brackets []. Pali verse numbers appear in the braces {}.

Chapter 1 — Single Verses   {Thig 1-18}

Thig 1.1: An Anonymous Bhikkhuni
{Thig 1} [Thanissaro].

Like a pot of pickled greens boiled dry.

Thig 1.3: Punna
{Thig 3} [Thanissaro].

Bursting the mass of darkness.

Thig 1.11: Mutta
{Thig 11} [Thanissaro].

Free at last from three crooked things!

Thig 1.17: Dhamma
{Thig 17} [Thanissaro].

Collapsing to the ground from weakness —the Dhamma appears!

Chapter 3 — Groups of Three Verses   {Thig 39-62}

Chapter 4 — The Group of Four Verses   {Thig 63-66}

Chapter 5 — Groups of Five Verses   {Thig 67-126}

Chapter 6 — Groups of Six Verses   {Thig 127-174}

Chapter 10 — The Group of Eleven Verses   {Thig 213-223}

Chapter 12 — The Group of Sixteen Verses   {Thig 236-251}

Chapter 13 — Groups of (about) Twenty Verses   {Thig 252-365}

Chapter 14 — The Group of (about) Thirty Verses   {Thig 366-399}