Kisa Gotami and the mustard seeds

“In due time Kisa Gotami became pregnant, and after ten lunar months gave birth to a son. But the child died as soon as he was able to walk. Kisa Gotami had not known death before, and when they came to remove the child’s body for cremation, she refused to let them do so, saying to herself: “I will get medicine for my son.” Placing the dead child on her hip, she went from house to house, asking: “Do you know a cure for my son?” Everyone said to her: “Woman, you are completely mad in seeking medicine for your son, but she went away, thinking: “Truly, I will find someone who knows the right medicine for my child.” Now, a certain wise man saw her and thought to himself: “I must help her.” So he said: “Woman, I do not know if there is a cure for your child, but there is one who will know, and I know him.”

“Sir, who is it who will know?”

“Woman, the Lord will; go and ask him.”

So, she went to the Lord, paid reverence to him, stood at one side, and asked: “Venerable sir, is it true as men say that you know a cure for my child?”

“Yes, I know.”

“What then do I need?”

“A few mustard seeds.”

“I will get them, Venerable sir, but in whose house?”

“Get them from a house where no son or daughter or any other person has ever died.”

“Very well, sir,” Kisa Gotami said, and having paid reverence to the Lord, and having placed the dead child on her hip, she went to the village and stopped at the very first house.

“Have you any mustard seeds? They say they will cure my child.” They gave her the seeds, and then she asked: “Friend, has any son or daughter died in this house?”

“What do you ask, woman? The living are few and the dead are many.” “Then take back your seeds, for they will not cure my child,” she said, and gave back the seeds they had given her.

In this way she went from house to house but never did she find one that had the mustard seed that she needed, and she thought: “Oh! It is a difficult task that I have. I thought it was only I who had lost a child, but in every village the dead are more than the living.” While she reflected, her heart which had quivered now become stable” – Anguttara Nikaya 273

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