News ≫ Unduvap Poya Day: Bikkhuni Order Established

Unduvap Poya Day: Bikkhuni Order Established

Dec 22, 2018
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In the 2562nd year since the passing away of the Buddha, the Full Moon Poya of Unduvap falls today, the 22nd of December as the day for observance of traditional eight or ten precepts.

The day is of special significance because Sangamitta Theri, the daughter of Emperor Dharmasoka, arrived in the island bringing with her a Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi sapling from Buddha Gaya and the institution of Bhikkhuni Sasana. Sangamitta Theri was accompanied by several Arahat Bhikkhunis, Kshatriya family members, Brahmins, ministers in King Dharmasoka’s court. The two kings though they had never met each other were long time friends

As per the chronicle, on a Poson Full Moon Day, the Arahat Mahinda Thera brother of Sangamitta arrived in the island of Sri Lanka and established Buddhism and founded the Sangha Sasana. This prompted an urge from the women to enter the order, the Bhikkhuni Sasana. Queen Anula was foremost, with a large number of followers she gained intellectual attainments and pleaded Arahat to grant them ordination. As Mahinda Thera was not able to offer ordination to females in accordance with the Vinaya, this compelled the Emperor to request his daughter Sangamitta to accept the assignment as Mahinda Thera appealed for.

Bo Sapling from Sri Maha Bodhi

Sangamitta Theri and her entourage left from the port of Tamralipti, the ship arriving at the port of Jambukola patuna in seven days for King Devanampiyatissa to receive the party and the sapling with great honour. The Bo Sapling which was in a golden casket and rituals were performed before it was brought to Anuradhapura.The sapling was planted with a magnificent ceremony in the Maha Megha Garden where it lasts for over 23 centuries receiving the adoration of millions of followers.

Buddha treated women with kindness and civility and pointed out to them too, the path to harmony, purity and blessedness. Women from all walks of life accepted the teachings and joined the order, Sangamitta theri did all in her power to raise female followers to higher levels of life. She worked with untiring devotion and fearless bravery for the moral, rational and pious upliftment of the womenfolk.

Buddhism makes no distinction on gender in all matters. Arahat Sangamitta their passed away while residing at an Upasikaramaya in Anuradhapura at the age of 79, for King Utthiya to perform last rites in close proximity to Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.

The Bhikkhuni order that was established lasted for over a 10 centuries. They say the Cholian invaders were responsible for the disappearance of it. However, the Bikkhuni sasana was revived on 8th December, 1996 at the Mulagandhakuti premises, in Uttar Pradesh, India when seven Dasa Sil Mathas from Sri Lanka were ordained as bikkunis.

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