Arrival of Arahath Therini Sanghamitta in Sri Lanka



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by Walter Wijenayake


Arrival of Arahath Therini Sanghamitta with the Bo-tree sapling


She arrived at the Port of Jambukola or Dambakola.On her arrival in Anuradhapuwa, she along with her companion Bhikkhunis took up residence in the home,named ‘Upasika Viharaya’,constructed by the King for the purpose.


Full Moon Poya Day of Unduvap ,which falls today, the 16th day of December 2013 signifies the arrival of Arahath Therini Sanghamitta in Sri Lanka together with a southern sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree in Buddha Gaya, under which the Sakyamuni Siddhartha Gauthama Buddha attained Enlightenment.


Today, it is the day of commemorating her visit, as well as it led to the establishment of the Bhikkhuni Sasana in Sri Lanka and the planting of the Bodhi sapling in Maha Meuna Uyana in Anuradhapura.


It is well recorded in our history that the arrival of her brother, as well as the son of the Indian Emperor Asoka, Arahath Mahinda Maha Thera led to the establishment of Buddha Sasana in this country during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa on the previous Full Moon Poya Day of Poson.


In the progress of this process, the Maha Thera ordained all the males who disclosed their desire to be ordained as Bhikkhus. At this juncture, Princess Anula – the sister-in-law of King Devanampiyatissa expressed her desire to be ordained as a Bhikkhuni, to the King who conveyed it to the Maha Thera who explained to the King that in accordance with Vinaya rules, a Bhikkhu cannot ordain a female person and suggested that the King invites his sister ,Arahath Therini Sanghamitta to come to Sri Lanka and to establish the Bhikkhuni Order in the country. The King did so accordingly.


The emperor sent his daughter Arahath Therini with18 other Bhikkhunis accompanied by representatives of eighteen gilds of craftsmen ,and a special team to look after the Bodhi sapling which was also brought by her on her arrival.


She arrived at the Port of Jambukola or Dambakola.On her arrival in Anuradhapuwa, she along with her companion Bhikkhunis took up residence in the home,named ‘Upasika Viharaya’,constructed by the King for the purpose.


After planting the Bodhi sapling ,ceremonially in Maha Meuna Uyana, she ordained Princess Anula and the Royal ladies, as had been arranged together with all the others who renounced the lay lives with them as Bhikkhunis, thus creating and completing the Buddhist community – the Bhikhus, the Bhikkhunis, the Upasakas and the Upasikas in the country.


Some time back, she, with her companion Bhikkhunis shifted to another home called ‘Hatthalaka Viharaya’ which was also built by the King at a very quiet place on the land where the state elephant was tethered.


She was very busy along with her other Bhikhunis’ teaching and disciplining our Bhikkhunis in the Thamma and the Vinaya for 49 years and passed away at the age of 79 years while residing in "Hatthalaka Viharaya’ at Anuradhapura. Her last rites were performed during the reign of King Utthiya at a place close to Sri Maha Bodhi.


The Bhikkhuni Sasana, introduced by the Arahath Therini , grew fast in the country. Even a deligation of 11 Bhikkhunis headed by Bhikkhuni Devasara proceeded to China and established the Bhikkhuni Sasana during the reign of King Mahanama in Sri Lanka.


However, the Bhikkhuni Sasana as well as the Bhikkhu Sasana ceased to exist in 1017 when Anurahdpura fell in to the hands of Cholas and ceased to be the capital.


After all, Siam Nikaya, Amarapura Nikaya and Ramanna Nikaya were established in the country for Bhikkhus .The women who aspired renunciation were told that they cannot be ordained as Bhikkhunis, because the absence of Bhikkhunis, the Bhikkhus are not in a position to give them senior ordination (Upasampada) according to Vinaya rules.


However, on December 08, 1996 ten dasa sill Mathas from Sri Lanka were ordained at the Mulagandakuti premises at Saranath in Isipathana , in Uttar Pradesh, in India, covering a new page in the history of Buddha Sasana. They were given residence at a special Upasikaramaya at the Maha Bodhi Centre premises in Saranath. Further, they were taught Hindi. English, Bhikkhuni Vinaya and higher knowledge of the Dhamma.


Since this ordination of Sri Lankan Bhikkhunis, there have been further ordination ceremonies in Buddha Gaya and in Sri Lanka. Now there are approximately 250 fully ordinate nuns as well as many novices nuns who are planning to receive the higher ordination, which they are eligible to do after having kept their samaneri vows for two years.


 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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