I am looking for a Buddhist story from scriptures or otherwise real life, from any tradition, where a person is mentally abused, in a sense insulted, humiliated, looked down upon, etc who achieves Nirvana or Sotapanna or anything substantial towards the direction of Nirvana.

I found the story of Milarepa which fits my need but Milarepa apparently took revenge using black magic and did not forgive his wrong-doers, later on, he understood the uselessness of what he did and he followed Dhamma and got enlightened.

Another story is from the Akkosa sutta but that happened with the Buddha Himself post-Nirvana. I want something with good moral of forgiveness for others, for the perpetrators.

3 Answers 3


In Theragatha 12.2, we read the story of Sunita the Outcaste, who became an arahant:

In a lowly family I was born,
poor, with next to no food.
My work was degrading:
I gathered the spoiled,
the withered flowers from shrines
and threw them away.
People found me disgusting,
despised me, disparaged me.

Lowering my heart,
I showed reverence to many.

Then I saw the One Self-awakened,
arrayed with a squadron of monks,
the Great Hero, entering the city,
supreme, of the Magadhans.
Throwing down my carrying pole,
I approached him to do reverence.
He — the supreme man
— stood still out of sympathy just for me.
After paying homage to the feet of the teacher,
I stood to one side
& requested the Going Forth from him,
supreme among all living beings.
The compassionate Teacher,
sympathetic to all the world,
said: "Come, monk."
That was my formal Acceptance.

Alone, I stayed in the wilds,
untiring, I followed the Teacher's words,
just as he, the Conqueror,
had taught me.

In the first watch of the night,
I recollected previous lives;
in the middle watch, purified the divine eye;
in the last, burst the mass of darkness.

Then, as night was ending
& the sun returning,
Indra & Brahma came to pay homage to me,
hands palm-to-palm at their hearts:
"Homage to you, O thoroughbred of men,
Homage to you, O man supreme,
whose fermentations are ended.
You, dear sir, are worthy of offerings."

Seeing me, arrayed with a squadron of devas,
the Teacher smiled & said:
"Through austerity, celibacy,
restraint, & self-control:
That's how one is a brahman.
He is a brahman supreme."

In Therigatha 5.2, we read the story of a prostitute named Vimala, who presumably people looked down at. She became an arahant:

Intoxicated with my complexion,
figure, beauty & fame;
haughty with youth,
I despised other women.
Adorning this body
embellished to delude foolish men,
I stood at the door to the brothel:
a hunter with snare laid out.
I showed off my ornaments,
and revealed many a private part.
I worked my manifold magic,
laughing out loud at the crowd.

Today, wrapped in a double cloak,
my head shaven,
having wandered for alms,
I sit at the foot of a tree
and attain the state of no-thought.
All ties — human & divine — have been cut.
Having cast off all effluents,
cooled am I, unbound.


The Therigatha might have examples of this. One I found was the verses of Sumangalamaata:

O woman well set free! how free am I, How throughly free from kitchen drudgery! Me stained and squalid 'mong my cooking-pots My brutal husband ranked as even less Than the sunshades he sits and weaves alway. (23)

Purged now of all my former lust and hate, I dwell, musing at ease beneath the shade Of spreading boughs–O, but 'tis well with me! (24)

Patacara is maybe another good example:

Wailing in her woe– 'My children both are gone, and in the bush Dead lies my husband; on one funeral bier My mother, father, and my brother burn,' she wandered around from that day forth in circles, and because her skirt-cloth fell from her she was given the name 'Cloak-walker.' And people, seeing her, said: 'Go, little mad-woman!' And some threw refuse at her head, some sprinkled dust, some pelted her with clods.


There's also the story of an old man who, after giving all his wealth to his children, is left destitute when they refuse to care for him in his old age, so he becomes a monk. I can't remember the name though.

  • (becoming a monk becauseof lacking fine livelihood would be ordaining by thief..not far from sg13 )Isn't the last story somehow Freud-ish confused... Wasn't there not the occassion that the Buddha encouraged the old man to blame his children public so that they come to mind? How ever, my person will leave you and the others alone in you ensnared firm bond relation over long long time. There is not much to provide for those up in turning arround, unattentive, with short lasting objectives and less proper fear. May you all find access to trace unsenseable, and it's path, for your self with ease. Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 15:24
  • Ven. Yuttadhammo, thank you for the answer. I was not really hoping to get an answer from you here. But this makes me happy. Some 7-8 years back I had left a potentially mildly-abusive post on one of your youtube videos. It's a strange way Karma works.
    – user14568
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 17:08
  • natthi loke anindito Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 20:37

You have chosen a difficult subject, literally a battle hard to win. The classic tale is of Bharadvāja, but the approach listed in the link applies for all of us targeted by anger.

When you don’t get angry at an angry person you win a battle hard to win. When you know that the other is angry, you act for the good of both yourself and the other if you’re mindful and stay calm.

Notably, the Buddha continues on with this somber advice that those who do not return anger for anger are healing both and will be counted a fool for their meekness. And that is what makes this a battle hard to win:

People unskilled in Dhamma consider one who heals both oneself and the other to be a fool.”

Notably, the Buddha spoke these words to Bharadvāja the Rude...after Bharadvāja rudely insulted the Buddha.

And Bharadvāja accepted the Buddha's words. This is perhaps the most startling thing about the sutta. Why did Bharadvāja accept the Buddha's words?

With a cycle of abuse, the abused often become abusers. Bharavadja was abusive because he had perhaps come to think that the only way to escape abuse was to be biggest abuser around.

Bharadvāja accepted the Buddha's words because even after being abused by Bharadvāja, the Buddha did not respond with anger. The Buddha won a battle hard to win. And he gave Bharadvāja the escape from abuse.

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