Life of the Buddha

Electronically Distributed by BuddhaNet

(Part Two) 11. Sujata and the Seven Types of Wives

Sujata came from a wealthy family and was married to the son of Anathapindika. She was arrogant, did not respect others and did not like to listen to the instructions of her husband and his parents. As a result of her attitude there was trouble in the family every day.

One day, when the Buddha visited the house of Anathapindika, he heard an unusual uproar in the house and asked what it was about.

Anathapindika replied, “Lord, it is Sujata, my daughter-in-law. She does not listen to her mother-in-law, her father-in-law or to her husband. She does not even honour nor pay respect to the Exalted One.”

The Buddha called Sujata to him and spoke kindly to her, “Sujata, there are seven types of wives a man may have. Which of them are you?”

“What are the seven types of wives, Venerable Sir?” asked Sujata.

“Sujata, there are bad and undesirable wives. There is a wife who is troublesome. She is wicked, bad tempered, pitiless, and not faithful to her husband.”

“There is a wife who is like a thief. She wastes the money earned by her husband.”

“There is a wife who is like a master. She is lazy, and thinks only about herself. She is cruel and lacking in compassion, always scolding her husband or gossiping.”

“Sujata, there are the good and praiseworthy wives. There is a wife who is like a mother. She is kind and compassionate and treats her husband like her son and is careful with his money.”

“There is a wife who is like a sister. She is respectful towards her husband, just as a younger sister to her brother, she is modest and obedient to her husband’s wishes.”

“There is a wife who is like a friend. She rejoices at the sight of her husband, just like a friend who has not seen her friend for a long time. She is of noble birth, virtuous and faithful.”

“There is a wife who is like a handmaid. She behaves as an understanding wife when her shortcomings are pointed out. She remains calm and does not show any anger although her husband uses some harsh words. She is obedient to her husband’s wishes.”

The Blessed one asked, “Sujata, which type of wife are you like, or would you wish to be like?”

Hearing these words of the Blessed One, Sujata was ashamed of her past conduct and said, “From today onwards, let the Exalted One think of me as the one in the last example for I’ll be a good and understanding wife.” She changed her behaviour and became her husband’s helper, and together they worked towards enlightenment.