Exalted One was dwelling near S?vatth?, at Jeta Grove, in An?thapi??ika’s Park,
one morning, after robing himself, the Exalted One, taking bowl and cloak, went
to the home of An?thapi??ika,
the householder; he sat down on the seat made ready.
Now at that
time the people of the house were making a great noise; and when An?thapi??ika had come and saluted him and had sat
down at one side,
the Exalted One said:
housefather, do the people of your house make all this din and uproar? It is
just like fisher folk with a great haul, methinks!’
‘Lord, it is
Sujata, my daughter-in-law, who
lives with us. She is rich and has been brought here from a wealthy family. She
pays no heed to her mother-in-law, nor to her father-in-law, nor to her
husband; neither does she venerate,
honour, reverence nor respect the Exalted One.’
Exalted One called to her, saying ‘Come, Sujata!’
she replied, and came and saluted the Exalted One and sat down at one side.
Exalted One said:
man may have these seven kinds of wives- one like a slayer, one like a robber,
one like a mistress, one like a mother, one like a sister, one like a companion
and one like a handmaid.
are the seven; and which of them are you?’
‘Lord, I do
not fully understand what the Exalted One has put so briefly.
Well were it
for me, lord, if the Exalted One would teach me dhamma, so that I may understand
the meaning of the words spoken so tersely by the Exalted One.’
heed, listen, I will speak, Sujata.’
she replied, and the Exalted One said:
pitiless, corrupt in mind, neglecting husband and un-amiable, inflamed by other
men, a prostitute, on murder bent – let her be called: a slayer and a wife!
rob her husband of his gains- though little is the profit that he makes, whether
by craftsmanship, or from his trade, or by the plough – let her be called: a
robber and a wife!
glutton, bent on doing nothing, a gossip and a shrew with strident voice, who
brings to low account her husband’s zeal and industry – let her be called: a
mistress and a wife!
with loving sympathy, just as a mother for her only son, for husband cares, and
o’er his stored-up wealth keeps watch and ward – let her be called: a mother
and a wife!
her husband in the same regard as younger sister holds the elder born, the meek
in heart, who in his every wish her husband serves – let her be called: a
sister and a wife!
And she who
is as glad her lord to see as boon companions long apart to meet, a gracious
character of gentle birth, a fond helpmate – let her be called: companion and a
of the lash and stick, unmoved, all things enduring, calm and pure in heart, she
bear obedience to her husband’s word, from anger free – let her be called: a
handmaid and a wife!
who’s called: a mistress, slayer, thief, who’s harsh, immoral, lacking in
respect, when cometh death – will wander in the miseries of hell.
sister or companion, slave, in precept long established and restrained, when
cometh death – will wander in the happy heaven world.
Sujata, are the seven kinds of wives a man may have; and which of them are you?’
the Exalted One think of me as a handmaid and
a wife from this day forth.'” (Anguttara Nikaya7:59)
concept about the duties of a housewife is clearly stated by the Buddha in the
Anguttara Nikaya. As a housewife, a woman occupied a very important position in
the society. The Buddha declared that the prosperity of the family depended on
the efficiency of husband and wife and said that they are two pillars of the
family. According to Horner, practically many of the women appear to have
acquired the position of command and to have made themselves queens in their
It is narrated that
a husband likes a wife if she is beautiful, worthy to enjoy, virtuous, ever
attentive, and not lazy. Ideal couples such as King Pasenadi-Queen Mallika and
Nakulamata-Nakulapita have been treated respectfully. The Buddha laid stress on
ideal married life and believed in love and co-operation between the two
parties. They were respected and honoured because they were considered as the
ideal couple. From the class of royal personages, King Pasenadi and Queen
Mallika are considered the ideal couple. Nakulamata and Nakulapita make the
ideal couple from the class of citizens of the state. Due honour was given to
both the ideal couples in the society. If all goes well, then the wife is called the “comrade supreme” (Samyutta
Nikaya) like Dhammadinna-Visaka, according to I. B. Horner. Nakulamata and
Nakulapita were considered by the Buddha to be the most eminent among his
lay-disciples or their close companionship with one another (Anguttara Nikaya).
And they were matched in their faith in their teaching, their self-control, and
affectionate way in which they spoke to one another (AnguttaraNikaya).