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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Significance of Binara Poya

Significance of Binara Poya



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by Premasara Epasinghe



Buddha was a Philosophic genius, rolled into a single vigorous and radiant personality. He was a lover of men, women, animals and environment. He had things to say that no man or women, after 2500 years of bustling and hustling and chattering round the fountain of knowledge. Greater perhaps than his wisdom, was the example he set. He was a great teacher, philosopher, who in a way, emancipated the women folk in India by granting equal opportunities with men and the establishment of Bhikkuni order (order of the nuns). This event took place on a Binara Pura Pasalosvaka Poya Day. Today (Wednesday 22, September 2010) we celebrate this event. All temples will be flocked to the capacity. There will be Dana, Seela, Bhavana, and special religious ceremonies will be conducted.In the ancient times, India was known as the "Jambudipa" "The Island of the Rose-Apple". During this era, Indian society never recognised the strength and the value of women. Men were superior. This was their belief those days.



Establishment of Bhikkuni Order


The most significant event that happened on Binara Pura Pasalosvaka Poya day was the establishment of Bhikkuni Order (Admission of Nuns to the Buddhist Order). On the initiative of the Maha Prajapati Gotami, after many requests by her, the Buddha allowed the woman folk to enter the order.


Who is Maha Prajapati Gotami? She was the sister of Queen Mahamaya, mother of Prince Siddharta Gautama. She is the aunt of the Prince. Following Mahamaya’s passing away, seven days after the birth of Prince Siddharta, it was Maha Prajapati Gotami who brought up Prince Siddharta. According to the history of Buddhism, Maha Prajapati Gotami was the first Bhikkuni in Buddha Sasana. She entered the Order with five hundred princesses on a Binara Pura Pasalosvaka Poya Day and thus began the Bhikkuni Order.



Negotiator - Ananda Maha Thera


The Buddha turned down her request of entering the order thrice. The Buddha left the city of Kapilavastu and proceeded to Vesali and resided at Kutagara Hall. In the meantime, Maha Prajapati Gotami, with five hundred Princesses shaved their heads, wore as yellow robes, met Venerable Ananda Thera - the "Dharmabandagarika", Buddha's Cousin. Son of Amitodana, the brother of Suddodana. Ven Ananda Thera was a personal attendant to Gautama Buddha, whom everybody liked. Maha Prajapati Gotami, humbly requested Ven. Ananda to speak to the Enlightened one, and grant them permission for them to enter the Bhikkuni Order.Once again, Buddha turned down their request, made by Ananda Thera. Both Prajapati Gotami, thought Ven. Ananda Thera, consistently appealed to the Blessed One to grant permission. Considering kind appeals, at last Buddha granted permission to women folk to enter the Sasana. This permission was granted on a Binara Full Moon Poya Day.



Eight conditions - Garudharma


The enlightened one laid down eight important rules and conditions called Garudharma, or Code of Conduct, the Bhikkunis (Nuns) were instructed strictly to follow them.


They are:(1) A Bhikkuni (Nun), even she attained the Upasampada or High Order, even 100 year ago, she should honour, worship a Buddhist Monk who obtained the High Ordination on that very day without considering the seniority. In this case, the date of the seniority was immaterial.(2) The Bhikkunis should not perform Vas, or Rainy Retreat, where there are no Buddhist Monks.(3) Every fortnight, Bhikkunis should take advise regarding the performing of the Buddhist monks.(4) Bhikkunis should end their period of Vas Season or Rainy Retreat in front of an assembly of Bhikkus.(5) A Bhikkuni, who performed a wrongly act, should performed duties for six months and look after both Bhikkunis and Bhikkus.(6) A Bhikkuni should train as a novice for a period of a year and obtain her Higher Ordination (Upasampada) in the midst of a Bhikku Assembly.(7) For no reasons or other a Bhikkuni (Nun) should not insult a Bhikku.(8) Bhikkunis should never advice the Bhikkus but Buddhist monks are allowed to advise Bhikkunis or Nuns.



Buddha gave equal opportunity to women in Indian Society Freedom


The "Honourable Eight Rules of Ethnic & discipline indication of the Buddhist order that was maintained during the period of the Blessed One. These set of rules were laid for Bhikkunis to maintain discipline in the Sasana. The ancient Indian Society never gave equal opportunities in the society to women earlier. It was the Buddha, the great Mahapurisha or Great Teacher, that paved the way for their freedom.


The great "Dharmabandagarika" Ananda Thera, explained those "Eightfold conditions" laid by the blessed one to Maha prajapati Gotami and stated," if you accept and agree to follow the rules and regulations laid by Buddha, the Blessed One will grant permission for you all to enter the Bhikkuni Sasana or order.



Maha Prajapati in cloud nine


Maha Prajapati Gotami, the great kind hearted stepmother of Prince Siddharta Gautama Buddha, was in cloud nine. She was very happy in achieving her objective or mission at last. "Ven Ananda Thera Sir just as young men and women, bathe and adorn themselves with heaps of Jasmine flowers and then wear garlands of flowers, to do I accept the conditions laid down by the Gautama Buddha - the Enlightened one". She turned to the direction of the blessed one. She turned to the direction of the blessed one and worshiped.Thus, began the Bhikkuni Sasana or Order of the Nuns in the Buddha Sasana. It was a landmark in the history of women in the world. This great event took place on the day of Binara Pura Pasalosvaka Poya Day.Even today, all Buddhists in Sri Lanka and abroad celebrate this event on Binara Poya and take part in Buddhist Religious activities. The Buddhist Temples are filled to the capacity. Many observe Sil; listen to Dhamma Sermon; engage in seela; social activities, give alms to the needy poor people, free cattle who are to be slaughtered, and perform many religious acts on the peaceful and severe Binara Poya Day.



Sangamitta established Bhikkuni Sasana


With the advent of Buddhism to Sri Lanka during King Devanampiyatissa's era, the daughter of the Great Emperor Asoka's only daughter Sangamitta, brought the Bo-Sapling-Jayashri Mahabodhi to Anuradhapura and thus establish the Bhikkuni Sasana-Bhikkuni Order in Sri Lanka. It was her brother, Arahat Mahinda, who brought the greatest gift to Sri Lanka - Buddhism. Later Sangamitta, Asoka's sister, was responsible in establishing Bhikku Order or Bhikku Sasana in Sri Lanka. Today, very silently, sans any publicity, the Sri Lankan Bhikkunis contribute their share for the propagation in spreading the Message of Buddhism. Most of them are found in Buddhist Sacred areas, such as Anuradhapura, Kataragama, Kirivehera, Polonnaruwa, etc. They live very peaceful lives, performing religious rituals, delivering Dhamma Sermons, engage in Meditation and they play a prominent role in performing Bodhi Poojas. They live in Aramayas. The grateful Buddhist pilgrims in these areas provide alms to them. Once, Buddha in S.IV: 250 defined a virtuous women thus.


Such a virtuous lady, who possesses religious devotion, cultivates virtue, is endowed with wisdom and learning, makes a success of her life in this very existence. May all beings be happy. May the Triple bless you! The strong disbelief held by men in women's spiritual attainments, even after the recognised success by statement made by Buddha to Gotami when she visited him on the eve of death.


"O Gotami perform a miracle in order to dispel the wrong views of those foolish men who are in doubt with regard to the spiritual potentialities of women". This illustrates the spiritual strength of woman.

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