Function of Javana - The foulness of the body

In the 'Visuddhimagga' (I, 55) we read about the 'Elder' 

Mahā-Tissa :

...It seems that as the Elder was on his way from Cetiya-pabbata to

Anurādhapura for alms, a certain daughter-in-law of a clan, who had

quarrelled with her husband and had set out early from Anurādhapura all

dressed up and tricked out like a celestial nymph to go to her relatives' home,

saw him on the road, and being low-minded, she laughed a loud laugh.

(Wondering) What is that?", the Elder looked up, and finding in the bones of

her teeth the perception of foulness, he reached Arahantship.


Hence it was said :

'He saw the bones that were her teeth,

And kept in mind his first perception;

And standing on that very spot,

The Elder became an Arahant.'


But her husband who was going after her saw the Elder and asked

'Venerable sir, did you by any chance see a woman?'


The Elder told him :

'Whether it was a man or woman

That went by I noticed not ;

But only that on this high road

There goes a group of bones.'


Mahā-Tissa was not absorbed in the object he experience, nor entranced by

the details. He realized when he perceived the woman's teeth the 'foulness of

the body' and he did not take what he perceived for 'self'. The perception of

the 'foulness of the body' reminds us not to see the self in the body, but to

realize bodily phenomena as rūpas which do not stay. Mahā-Tissa saw things

as they are ; the paññā arising at that moment was to the degree that it

could eradicate all defilements.

Topic 187