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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Inauguration of the Bhikkhuni Sasana

Inauguration of the Bhikkhuni Sasana


by Walter Wijenayake.

Today, September 22, 2010, falls the Full Moon Poya Day of Binara.

It was on such a Poya day that the Sakyamuni Siddhartha Gauthama Buddha while he was spending his fifth Vassana season in Kutagarasala of Vesalipura, when Maha Prajapati Gotami – undeterred by his repeated refusal to admit women into the order – having cut off her hair, donned yellow garments, accompanied by a large number of Sakyan ladies came on foot all the way to Kapilavasthu and begged yet again for ordainment. The Buddha, in deference to the appeal made by Rev. Ananda Maha Thera the Dhamma Bhandagarika on their behalf, relented and finally gave them permission to enter the order, subject to observance of eight chief precepts and thereby inaugurated the Bhikkhuni Sasana.

On this particular day, five hundred Sakyan ladies, along with Maha Prajapati Gotami, entered the Order of Bhikkhunis. She was the maternal aunt of Prince Siddhartha and was also his foster mother.

The Buddha laid eight major conditions (Ashta Garu Dharma) for the females to enter the order of Bhikkhunis and Maha Prajapati Gotami was allowed to become the first Bhikkhuni only if she was willing to accept them. Since she was willing to abide by Ashta Garu Dharma, she could get the Bhikkhuni Sasana established. At the beginning there were five hundred Bhikkhunis in the Bhikkhuni Sasana.

The eight major conditions

1. A Bhikkhuni has to worship a day old higher ordained Bhikkhu even if she was one hundred years old in higher ordination. She should get up from her seat and show her due respects to the Bhikkhus who observe the major precepts.

2. A Bhikkhuni should not observe the rainy seasonal precepts in an area where there are no Bhikkhus.

3. Every fortnight a Bhikkhuni has to request for ‘pohoya kamma’ from the Bhikkhus. She has to know the time she should obtain advice from the Bhikkhus.

4. When a Bhikkhuni concludes her rainy seasonal precepts observation, she has to do it in front of both Bhikkhunis and Bhikkhus.

5. A Bhikkhuni who has committed a major mistake should confess it in the presence of both Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis.

6. A Bhikkhuni has to undergo two years as special trainee and then become a higher ordained Bhikkhuni in the presence of both Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis.

7. A Bhikkhuni should not scold Bhikkhus under any circumstances.

8. A Bhikkhuni should not advise Bhikkhus, but Bhikkhus should advise Bhikkhunis.

This month Binara is considered as an important month because it was also during such a month that the Buddha had visited Thavuthisa heaven to preach Abhidhama to his mother (Mathru Divya Raja) and celestial multitude.

The main theme during this month, especially on this Poya, is meditation. The members of the Maha Sangha are expected on this poya day to enjoy in meditation and observe the rules of Vinaya (discipline) to the very letter to show their unstained devotion to the Dhamma preached by the Sakyamuni Siddartha Gauthama Buddha, since the day he preached Dhammachakkapavattana Sutta in Deer Park at Isipathana of Benares, to his former allies – the Pasvaga Mahanun (1) Kondanna, (2) Vappa, (3) Baddhiya, (4) Mahanama and (5) Assaji in quest of truth.

Buddhist meditation, or Bhavana, is the stilling of one’s mind leading to concentration (Samadhi) and one pointedness of mind (Chittekaggaatha) and finally to wisdom (Panna) if the fruits were to be realized. But a layman or a member of the Maha Sangha must have a basis of ‘Sila’(virtue) if meditation is to succeeded.

At least either the five precepts, the eight precepts or the ten precepts are necessary for a layman and parisuddhi purified precept for a Bhikkhu to successfully launch out on the deeply difficult path of meditation leading to the ultimate realization.

The practice of meditation leads to a balanced mind, a virtue of vital importance not only to the Yoghi but also to the ordinary layman.

With unstained devotion Bhikkhus observe Vinaya and spend greater part of their time in practicing meditation (Bhavana) in the Binara month of Vassana season. The Buddha is seen giving Bhikkhus suitable subjects of meditation, techniques and methods to be adopted by individuals who strive zealously and strenuously to attain nirvana.

Today the poya begins at 12.30 p.m. and concludes at 02.47 p.m tomorrow. Today is set apart to observe Sil.

1 comment:

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