This story concerns seven wise women, sisters, who are supposed to have lived around the time of Shakyamuni. They were of noble birth, aristocrats, and as was customary among the wealthy, they were surrounded by servants who took care of them. All they needed to do—much like the Buddha before he became a wandering mendicant—was entertain themselves. They liked to go to parties and have fun. According to the story, one day the eldest of the women said, “Today, instead of going to a party, let’s go to the crematorium” or, “Let’s go to the Nirvana Forest.” And so they did.

 

When they got there, they saw a corpse. The eldest sister pointed to it and said, “The corpse is here, where has the person gone?” At that, all seven women are said to have experienced enlightenment and realized the Way. At that moment a shower of flowers came down from heaven, and a voice said, “Excellent, Excellent.” The eldest sister asked, “Who is praising us?” and the voice from the sky said, “I am Indra and because I have seen the sacred women realizing the Way, I came and scattered a rain of flowers.”