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.

A selected anthology of 32 suttas from the Therigatha (and 88 from the Theragatha), Poems of the Elders: An Anthology from the Theragāthā & Therīgāthā, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, is distributed free of charge by Metta Forest Monastery. It is also available to read online and in various ebook formats at

For a complete translation, see 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 2 — Pairs of Verses   {Thig 19-38}

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 7 — Groups of Seven Verses   {Thig 175-195}

Chapter 8 — The Group of Eight Verses   {Thig 196-203}

Chapter 9 — The Group of Nine Verses   {Thig 204-212}

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}