At the top of the mountain, I spread my outer robe where perhaps she once spread hers.
I set down my bowl, and there was her staff, the twin of my own.
Using both staffs, I lowered myself down and leaned back against a large gray rock.
I let go of the staffs and my hands were empty.
The mountain went on holding me. Then it let me go.
Now I also leave behind my staff, just in case you ever pass this way.
This verse is from the Therigatha, a Buddhist text consisting of a collection of 73 short poems of women who were senior nuns. The poems date from a three hundred year period, starting in the late 6th century BCE. It is the companion text to the Theragatha, verses attributed to senior monks. It is the earliest known collection of women’s literature composed in India.