Buddhism and Tarot: Lady Patacara, Queen of Swords
(c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2002

There was once a very rich man who had a lovely and charming daughter named Patacara. Her parents loved Patacara so much that they kept her on the seventh floor of their mansion and never let her out. At sixteen, Patacara's parents made arrangements for her to marry to son of another man of wealth. Patacara had already fallen in love with her servant and wanted to have a life with him. Shortly before her wedding, Patacara disguised herself as a boy and left her parent's mansion. She met her beloved and they ran away together to a place far away and were wed.

At the time that Patacara was ready to give birth to her first child, she asked her husband to take her to home to her parents house. She had no one to help her where they were and she thought her parents loved her enough to forgive them. Her husband repeatedly refused her requests to return to her parents, saying that they would have him tortured and killed if they returned. One day when her husband was at work, Patacara told her neighbours to tell her husband that she had left to go home. When her husband heard this he came after her and begged her to return home. All of the excitement started her birth pains and she gave birth to a son. She had no choice but to return to their home with him.

At the time the birth of their second child was imminent, Patacara again tried to leave for her parent's home while her husband was working, taking their first born with her. Again, her husband came after her. This time when he caught up to her a terrible storm was brewing and her birth pains started. Her husband took an axe and started chopping vines and branches to make a shelter to protect them from the heavy rains. As he was chopping, a poisonous snake came out of the bushes and bit him, killing him instantly.

Patacara waited for her husband to return. Her pains grew stronger and stronger and finally she gave birth to another son. She was so exhausted, weak and cold that all she could do was curl up with her two children snuggled close to her. She sheltered them all as best she could.

In the morning, with her new baby on her hip and holding her other boy's hand, she set out looking for her husband. They found his body lying on the road. Patacara was deeply grieved and blamed herself mercilessly for his death.

She wandered with her children further up to road and came to the Acirawati River which was swollen from the heavy rains. Patacara still felt weak from giving birth so she placed her oldest child on the river bank and carried the new born across the river first. As she was returning for her oldest child, a hawk swooped down out of the sky and snatched the baby. Patacara screamed at the hawk to frighten it away but her oldest child thought his mother was calling him and he slipped down off of the bank into the river. The strength of the current was too much for the young boy and he was swept away. Patacara cried and cried.

Patacara was still weeping when she came upon a stranger on the road. She asked him where he was from and he told her he was from Savatthi. Savatthi was Patacara's home town and she asked for news of her family. The stranger told her he didn't want to tell her of them, to please ask her about another family. Patacara was insistent and the stranger told her that during the storm their house had collapsed and the whole family was dead. He pointed to a fire in the distance and told her that it was their funeral fire.

Patacara collapsed on the road - inconsolable in her grief. Villagers carried her to the Buddha who was preaching at the Jetavana monastery. Buddha requested that some women feed her, bathe her, get her clean clothes. When this was accomplished, then he consoled her. Patacara regained her composure and benefited from Buddha's insights. She begged Buddha to ordain her, which he did, making her a bhikhuni (nun).

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This page was created on October 26, 2002.