The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Khema was one of the two chief female disciples of Buddha (the other being Uppalavanna). Khema was one of the wives of King Bimbisara and was very beautiful. One day the Buddha explained to her impermanence in a way to show her that the beauty would not last. Khema practiced and became enlightened and then decided to become a nun. She penetrated to the truth very quickly and was the chief nun during the time of Buddha.
She did not want to meet The Buddha as she knew he did not care much about Beauty, and she was very self conscious about hers. She heard about The Buddha from her husband who encouraged her to hear his sermons and told her how beautiful Buddha's monastery was. Very interested in seeing beautiful things, decked out in royal splendor, she went to the monastery of Lord Buddha. There Buddha saw her approaching and created an exceptionally beautiful maiden by his side, whose Beauty surpassed her own. Khema was captivated, seeing this, Buddha slowly aged the maiden :
Khema saw the maiden's beautiful skin wrinkle, her Hair change to gray and her Body age. She then saw the Body collapse with age and pass away, leaving behind just a corpse, which in turn changed to a heap of bones. Understanding that all conditioned phenomena were impermanent, Khema realized that the same would happen to her. How could she retain her Beauty when this exquisite vision aged and decomposed before her very eyes?