The story of Krisha Gotami & the mustard seed
With installation by Adrienne Shaw
Krisha Gotami was a young woman who had the good fortune to live at the time of the Buddha. When her first born child was about a year old, it fell ill and died. Grief stricken and clutching its little body, Krisha Gotami roamed the streets, begging anyone she met for a medicine that could restore her child to life. Some ignored her, some laughed at her, some thought she was mad, but finally she met a wise man who told her that the only person in the world who could perform the miracle she was looking for was the Buddha.
So she went to the Buddha, laid the body of her child at his feet, and told him her story. The Buddha listened with infinite compassion. Then he said gently, “There is only one way to heal your affliction. Go down to the city and bring me back a mustard seed from any house in which there has never been a death.”
Krisha Gotami felt elated and set off at once for the city. She stopped at the first house she saw and said: “I have been told by the Buddha to fetch a mustard seed from a house that has never known death.”
“Many people have died in this house”, she was told. She went on to the next house. “There have been countless deaths in our family” they said. And so to a third and a fourth house, until she had been all around the city and realised the Buddha’s condition could not be fulfilled.
Rinpoche,Sogyal 1992, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Rider, United Kingdom pp28,29.