When Anuruddha visited his family in Kapilavastu, his sister Rohiṇī refused to see him as she was suffering from a certain skin disease. Anuruddha was persistent and requested her presence. She arrived with her face covered with a cloth in shame due to her condition. Her brother advised that she sell some of her clothing and jewellery and have a refectory constructed for the Buddha and the monks, as this would bring a great deal of merit. Rohiṇī did as she was advised and was assisted by her relatives. The construction was supervised by Anuruddha. He instructed her to fill the water pots every day and sweep the floors of the hall. She did so and began to slowly recover from her disease.
Once the hall was complete, the Buddha was invited to partake of alms-food. After finishing his meal, he sent for Rohiṇī. He asked her if she knew the reason for her affliction. She replied that she did not, so the Buddha told her a story of her past.
Rohiṇī had once, in a past life, been the queen consort of the king of Benares. The king had a favorite dancing girl, and the queen became incredibly jealous of her and plotted a scheme against her. One day, she had her attendant put some itching powder made of cowhage pods in the dancer's bed. They called to the dancer, and when she arrived, they threw the powder on her. In pain and desperation, the girl sought refuge in her bed, which caused her even more suffering.
The Buddha concluded that Rohiṇī had come to her current condition due to this evil deed. He exhorted his audience with the following verse:
Rebirth in Heaven Edit
After death, Rohiṇī was reborn in Trāyastriṃśa as a beautiful goddess, at the boundary of the territories among four deities. They became enamored with her beauty and each deity laid claim unto her. Unable to settle their dispute, they sought the advice of Śakra, the lord of Trāyastriṃśa.
Upon seeing her, Śakra turned to the gods and asked them of the condition of their minds upon seeing this new goddess. One god said that his mind was tumultuous like battlefield, the second said his mind was racing swiftly like a mountain river, the third said that he could not take his eyes off her, as if they were seized in a crab's claw. The fourth replied that his mind would not keep still and whipped about like a flag in the wind.
Śakra declared, “Your minds are over-powered by this form. As for myself, I want to live; I do not want to die. And if I do not get Rohiṇī then I shall surely die.”
- Acharya Buddharakkhita (1985). The Dhammapada:The Buddha's Path of Wisdom (PDF). Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society.
- Tin, Daw Mya (2019). The Dhammapada: Verses & Stories. Pariyatti Publishing. ISBN 9781681721200.
- Law, B.C. (2004). Heaven & Hell in Buddhist Perspective. Pilgrims Publishing. ISBN 9788177690859.
- Mahāthero, Punnadhammo. "The Buddhist Cosmos: A Comprehensive Survey of the Early Buddhist Worldview; according to Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda sources" (PDF).
- Burlingame, Eugene Watson; Bhikkhu Khantipālo (1985). Buddhist Stories From the Dhammapada Commentary (Part II) (PDF). Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society.