Author Topic: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?  (Read 29818 times)

bambi

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2012, 10:33:46 AM »
By chance I came upon this story of Queen Mallika as mentioned by Jessie.

Queen Mallika
Female Disciples of Lord Buddha   
At the time of the Buddha, a daughter was born to the foreman of the guild of garland-makers in Savatthi. She was beautiful, clever and well behaved and a source of joy to her father.

One day, when she had just turned sixteen, she went to the public flower gardens with her girl-friends and took three portions of fermented rice along in her basket as the day's sustenance.

When she was just leaving by the city gate, a group of monks came along, who had come down from the monastery on the hill to obtain almsfood in town. The leader among them stood out; one whose grandeur and sublime beauty impressed her so much, that she impulsively offered him all the food in her basket.

He was the Awakened One. He let her put her offering into his alms bowl. After Mallika — without knowing to whom she had given the food — had prostrated at his feet, she walked on full of joy. The Buddha smiled. Ananda, his attendant, who knew that the fully Enlightened One does not smile without a reason, asked therefore why he was smiling. The Buddha replied that this girl would reap the benefits of her gift this very same day by becoming the Queen of Kosala.

This sounded unbelievable, because how could the Maharaja of Benares and Kosala elevate a woman of low caste to the rank of Queen? Especially in the India of those days with its very strict caste system, this seemed quite improbable.

The ruler over the United Kingdoms of Benares and Kosala in the Ganges Valley was King Pasenadi, the mightiest Maharaja of his day. At that time he was at war with his neighbor, the King of Magadha.

The latter had won a battle and King Pasenadi had been forced to retreat. He was returning to his capital on the horse that had been his battle companion. Before entering the city, he heard a girl sing in the flower gardens. It was Mallika, who was singing melodiously because of her joy in meeting the Illustrious Sage. The King was attracted by the song and rode into the gardens; Mallika did not run away from the strange warrior, but came nearer, took the horse by its reins and looked straight into the King's eyes. He asked her whether she was already married and she replied in the negative. Thereupon he dismounted, lay down with his head in her lap and let her console him about his ill-luck in battle.

After he had recovered, he let her mount his horse behind him and took her back to the house of her parents. In the evening he sent an entourage with much pomp to fetch her and made her his principal wife and Queen.

From then on she was dearly beloved by the King. She was given many loyal servants and in her beauty she resembled a goddess. It became known throughout the whole kingdom that because of her simple gift she had been elevated to the highest position in the State and this induced her subjects to be kind and generous towards their fellow men. Wherever she went, people would joyously proclaim: "That is Queen Mallika, who gave alms to the Buddha."

After she had become Queen, she soon went to visit the Enlightened One to ask him something which was puzzling her. Namely, how it came about that one woman could be beautiful, wealthy and of great ability, another be beautiful but poor and not very able, yet another although ugly, be rich and very able, and finally another be ugly, poor and possess no skills at all.

These differences can constantly be observed in daily life. But while the ordinary person is satisfied with such common place terms as fate, heredity, coincidence and so on, Queen Mallika wanted to probe deeper as she was convinced that nothing happens without a cause.

The Buddha explained to her in great detail that all attributes and living conditions of people everywhere were solely dependent on the extent of their moral purity. Beauty was caused by forgiveness and gentleness, prosperity due to generous giving, and skillfulness was caused by never envying others, but rather being joyful and supporting their abilities.

Whichever of these three virtues a person had cultivated, that would show up as their "destiny," usually in some mixture of all of them. The coming together of all three attributes would be a rarity. After Mallika had listened to this discourse of the Buddha, she resolved in her heart to be always gentle towards her subjects and never to scold them, to give alms to all monks, brahmans and the poor, and never to envy anyone who was happy.

At the end of the Enlightened One's discourse she took refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and remained a faithful disciple for the rest of her life.

She showed her great generosity not only giving regular alms, but also by building a large, ebony-lined hall for the Sangha, which was used for religious discussions.

She exhibited her gentleness by serving her husband with the five qualities of a perfect wife, namely: always rising before him, and going to bed after him, by always obeying his commands, always being polite, and using only kind words. Even the monks praised her gentleness in their discussions about virtue.

Soon she was to prove that she was also free of jealousy. The King had made up his mind to marry a second chief wife and brought a cousin of the Buddha home as his betrothed. Although it is said that it is in the nature of women not to allow a rival into her home, Mallika related to the other wife without the slightest malice. Both women lived in peace and harmony at the Court.

Even when the second wife gave birth to a son, the crown prince, and Mallika had only a daughter, she was not envious. When the King voiced disappointment about the birth of a daughter, the Buddha said to him that a woman was superior to a man if she was clever, virtuous, well-behaved and faithful. Then she could become the wife of a great King and give birth to an almighty Ruler. When the daughter, Princess Vajira, had grown up, she became Queen of Magadha and thereby the ancestress of the greatest Indian Emperor, Ashoka, who ruled Magadha 250 years later.

After Mallika had become a faithful lay devotee of the Buddha, she also won her husband over to the teaching. And that happened in this way: One night the King had a succession of sixteen perturbing dreams during which he heard gruesome, unfathomable sounds from four voices, which uttered: "Du, Sa, Na, So." When the King woke up from these dreams, great fear seized him, and sitting upright and trembling, he awaited the sunrise.

When his Brahman priests asked him whether he had slept well, he related the terror of the night and asked them what one could do to counteract such a menace. The Brahmans declared that one would have to offer great sacrifices and thereby pacify the evil spirits. In his fear the King agreed to that. The Brahmans rejoiced because of the gifts they would surely reap and busily began to make preparations for the great sacrifice. They scurried about, building a sacrificial altar and tied many animals to posts, so they could be killed.

For greater efficacy, they demanded the sacrifice of four human beings and these also awaited their death, tied to posts. When Mallika became aware of all this activity, she went to the King and asked him why the Brahmans were so busily running about full of joyous expectation. The King replied that she did not pay enough attention to him and did not know his sorrows.

Thereupon he told her of his dreams. Mallika asked the King whether he had also consulted the first and foremost of Brahmans about the meaning and interpretation. He replied that she first had to tell him who was the first and foremost of Brahmans. She explained that the Awakened One was foremost in the world of Gods and men, the first of all Brahmans. King Pasenadi decided to ask the Awakened One's advice and went to Prince Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's Monastery.

He related to the Buddha what had taken place in his dreams and asked him what would happen to him. "Nothing," the Awakened One replied and explained the meaning to him. The sixteen dreams which he had were prophecies, showing that the living conditions on earth would deteriorate steadily, due to the increasing moral laxity of the kings. In a meditative moment, King Pasenadi had been able to see future occurrences within his sphere of interest because he was a monarch concerned with the well-being of his subjects.

The four voices which he had heard belonged to four men who had lived in Savatthi and had been seducers of married women. Because of that they were reborn in hell and for 30,000 years they drowned in red-hot cauldrons, coming nearer and nearer to the fire, which intensified their unbearable suffering. During another 30,000 years they slowly rose up in those iron cauldrons and had now come to the rim, where they could once again at least breathe the air of the human realm.

Each one wanted the speak a verse, but because of the gravity of the deed, could not get past the first syllable. Not even in sights could they voice their suffering, because they had long lost the gift of speech. The four verses, which start in Pali with "du," "sa," "na," "so," were recognized by the Awakened One as follows:

Du: Dung-like life we lived,
No willingness to give,
Although we could have given much,
We did not make our refuge thus.

Sa: Say, the end is near?
Already 60,000 years have gone
Without respite the torture is
In this hell realm.

Na: Naught, no end near, Oh, would it end!
No end in sight for us.
Who once did misdeeds here
For me, for you, for both of us.

So: So, could I only leave this place
And raise myself to human realm,
I would be kind and moral too,
And do good deeds abundantly.

After the King had heard these explanations, he became responsive to the request of the compassionate Queen and granted freedom to the imprisoned men and animals. He ordered the sacrificial altar to be destroyed.

The King, who had become a devoted lay disciple of the Buddha, visited him one day again and met a wise and well-learned layman there. The King asked him whether he could give some daily Dharma teaching to his two Queens. The layman replied that the teaching came from the Enlightened One and only one of his immediate disciples could pass it on to the Queens. The King understood this and requested the Buddha to give permission to one of his monks to teach. The Buddha appointed Ananda for this task. Queen Mallika learned easily in spite of her uneducated background, but Queen Vasabhakhattiya, cousin of the Buddha and mother of the crown-prince, was unconcentrated and learned with difficulty.

One day the royal couple looked down upon the river from the palace and saw a group of the Buddha's monks playing about in the water. The king said to Queen Mallika reproachfully: "Those playing about in the water are supposed to be Saints?" Such was namely the reputation of this group of the so-called seventeen monks, who were quite young and of good moral conduct. Mallika replied that she could only explain it thus, that either the Buddha had not made any rules with regard to bathing or that the monks were not acquainted with them, because they were not amongst the rules which were recited regularly.

Both agreed that it would not make a good impression on lay people and on those monks not yet secure, if those in higher training played about in the water and enjoyed themselves in the way of untrained worldly people. But King Pasenadi wanted to avoid blackening those monks' characters and just wanted to give the Buddha a hint, so that he could lay down a firm rule. He conceived the idea to send a special gift to the Buddha to be taken by those monks. They brought the gift and the Buddha asked them on what occasion they had met the King. Then they told him what they had done and the Buddha laid down a corresponding rule.

One day when the King was standing on the parapet of the palace with the Queen and was looking down upon the land, he asked her whether there was anyone in the world she loved more than herself. He expected her to name him, since he flattered himself to have been the one who had raised her to fame and fortune. But although she loved him, she remained truthful and replied that she know of no one dearer to herself than herself. Then she wanted to know how it was with him: Did he love anyone — possibly her — more than himself? Thereupon the King also had to admit that self-love was always predominant. But he went to the Buddha and recounted the conversation to find out how a Saint would consider this.

The Buddha confirmed his and Mallika's statements:

I visited all quarters with my mind
Nor found I any dearer than myself;
Self is likewise to every other dear;
Who loves himself may never harm another.


One day the Buddha said to a man whose child had died: "Dear ones, those who are dear, bring sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair"” the suffering that results from a clinging love. In spite of the clearly visible proof, the man could not understand this. The conversation was reported to the King and he asked his wife whether it was really true that sorrow would result from love. "If the Awakened One has said so, O King, then it is so," she replied devotedly.

The King demurred that she accepted every word of the Buddha like a disciple from a guru. Thereupon she sent a messenger to the Buddha to ask for more details and then passed the explicit answer on to her husband.

She asked him whether he loved his daughter, his second wife, the crown-prince, herself and his kingdom? Naturally he confirmed this, these five things were dear to him. But if something happened to these five, Mallika responded, would he not feel sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief or despair, which comes from loving? Then the King understood and realized how wisely the Buddha could penetrate all existence: "Very well, then Mallika, continue to venerate him." And the King rose, uncovered his shoulder, prostrated deferentially in the direction where the Blessed One was wont to stay and greeted him three times with: "Homage to the Blessed One, the Holy One, the fully Awakened One."

But their lives also did not remain quite without conflict. One day an argument arose between the couple about the duties of the Queen. For some reason the King was angry at her and treated her from then on as if she had disappeared into thin air. When the Buddha arrived at the palace the next day for his meal, he asked about the Queen, who had always been present at other times. Pasenadi scowled and said: "What about her? She has gone mad because of her fame." The Buddha replied that he, himself, had raised her up to that position quite unexpectedly and should become reconciled with her. Somewhat reluctantly the King had her called. Thereupon the Buddha praised the blessing of amity and the anger was forgotten, as if it had never happened.

But later on a new tension arose between the couple. Again the King would not look at the Queen and pretended she did not exist. When the Buddha became aware of this, he asked about her. Pasenadi said that her good fortune had gone to her head. Immediately the Awakened One told an incident from a former life:

Both were then heavenly beings, a deva couple, who loved each other dearly. One night they were separated from each other because of the flooding of a stream. They both regretted this irretrievable night, which could never be replaced during their life-span of a thousand years. And during the rest of their lives they never let go of each other's company and always remembered to use this separation as a warning so that their happiness would endure during that whole existence. The King was moved by this story, and became reconciled to the Queen. Mallika then spoke this verse to the Buddha:

With joy I heard your varied words,
Which spoken were for my well-being;
With your talk you took away my sorrow
Verily, you are the joy-bringer amongst the ascetics
May you live long!

A third time the Buddha told of an occurrence during one of the former lives of the royal couple. At that time Pasenadi was a crown-prince and Mallika his wife. When the crown-prince became afflicted with leprosy and could not become King because of that, he resolved to withdraw into the forest by himself, so as not to become a burden to anyone. But his wife did not desert him, and looked after him with touching attention. She resisted the temptation to lead a care-free life in pomp and splendor and remained faithful to her ugly and ill-smelling husband. Through the power of her virtue she was able to effect his recovery. When he ascended to the throne and she became his Queen, he promptly forgot her and enjoyed himself with various dancing girls. It is almost as difficult to find a grateful person, the Buddha said, as it is difficult to find a Holy One.

Only when the King was reminded of the good deeds of his Queen, did he change his ways, asked her forgiveness and lived together with her in harmony and virtue.

Queen Mallika committed only one deed in this life which had evil results and which led her to the worst rebirth. Immediately after her death, she was reborn in hell, though this lasted only a few days.

When she died, the King was just listening to a Dharma exhortation by the Buddha. When the news reached him there, he was deeply shaken and even the Buddha's reminder that there was nothing in the world that could escape old age, disease, death, decay and destruction could not immediately assuage his grief.

His attachment” "from love comes sorrow" was so strong, that he went to the Buddha every day to find out about the future destiny of his wife. If he had to get along without her on earth, at least he wanted to know about her rebirth. But for seven days the Buddha distracted him from his question through fascinating and moving Dharma discourses, so that he only remembered his question when he arrived home again. Only on the seventh day would the Buddha answer his question and said that Mallika had been reborn in the "Heaven of the Blissful Devas." He did not mention the seven days she had spent in hell, so as not to add to the King's sorrow. Even though it was a very short-termed sojourn in the lower realms, one can see that Mallika had not yet attained stream-entry during her life on earth, since it is one of the signs of a stream-enterer that there is no rebirth below the human state. However, this experience of hellish suffering together with her knowledge of Dharma, could have quickened Mallika's last ripening for the attainment of stream-entry.

Ensapa

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2012, 10:52:23 AM »
On Queen Malika, it seems that she did make some mistakes as documented here that shows the danger of making small mistakes and not doing anything about it. A lifetime of good deeds still brings about an existence in hell due to a one moment of negative action and and lying. It was just one lie, and it was 7 days in hell. Therefore it is very important to do confessions as much as possible especially to the people we love.

Some translation: Magga = path Pala = fruit niraya = hell

Quote
Dhammapada Verse 151
Mallikadevi Vatthu

Jiranti ve rajaratha sucitta
atho sarirampi jaram upeti
satanca dhammo1 na jaram upeti
santo have sabbhi pavedayanti.

Verse 151: The much ornamented royal carriages do wear out, the body also grows old, but the Dhamma of the Virtuous does not decay. Thus, indeed, say the Virtuous among themselves.

1. dhammo/dhamma: The nine Transcendentals, viz, the four Maggas, the four Phalas and Nibbana. (The Commentary)

The Story of Queen Mallika

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (151) of this book, with reference to Mallika, queen of King Pasenadi of Kosala.

One day, Mallika went into the bathroom to wash her face, hands and feet. Her pet dog also came in; as she was bending to wash her feet, the dog tried to have sex with her, and the queen appeared to be amused and somewhat pleased. The king saw this strange incident through the window from his bedroom. When the queen came in, he said angrily to the queen, "Oh, you wicked woman! What were you doing with that dog in the bathroom? Do not deny what I saw with my own eyes." The queen replied that she was only washing her face, her hands and her feet, and so was doing nothing wrong. Then she continued, "But, that room is very strange. If anyone went into that room, to one looking from this window there would appear to be two. If you do not believe me, O King, please go into that room and I will look through this window."

So, the king went into the bathroom. When he came out, Mallika asked the king why he misbehaved with a she-goat in that room. The king denied it, but the queen insisted that she saw them with her own eyes. The king was puzzled, but being dim-witted, he accepted the queen's explanation, and concluded that the bath room was, indeed, very strange.

From that time, the queen was full of remorse for having lied to the king and for having brazenly accused him of misbehaving with a she-goat. Thus, even when she was approaching death, she forgot to think about the great unrivalled charities she had shared with her husband and only remembered that she had been unfair to him. As a result of this, when she died she was reborn in niraya. After her burial, the king intended to ask the Buddha where she was reborn. The Buddha wished to spare his feelings, and also did not want him to lose faith in the Dhamma. So he willed that this question should not be put to him, and King Pasenadi forgot to ask the Buddha.

However, after seven days in niraya, the queen was reborn in the Tusita deva world. On that day, the Buddha went to King Pasenadi's palace for alms-food; he indicated that he wished to rest in the coach-shed where the royal carriages were kept. After offering alms-food, the king asked the Buddha where queen Mallika was reborn and the Buddha replied, "Mallika has been reborn in the Tusita deva world." Hearing this the king was very pleased, and said, 'Where else could she have been reborn? She was always thinking of doing good deeds, always thinking what to offer to the Buddha on the next day. Venerable Sir! Now that she is gone, I, your humble disciple, hardly know what to do." To him the Buddha said, "Look at these carriages of your father and your grandfather; these are all worn down and lying useless; so also is your body, which is subject to death and decay. Only the Dhamma of the Virtuous is not subject to decay."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 151: The much ornamented royal carriages do wear out, the body also grows old, but the Dhamma of the Virtuous does not decay. Thus, indeed, say the Virtuous among themselves.

Positive Change

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2012, 02:30:35 PM »
Buddhism is one of the few spiritual beliefs that do not discriminate women. As His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa said in one of his teachings, "The Buddha explained very clearly that all beings, irregardless of male or female, have the potential to attain Buddhahood. They all possess the primordial Buddha nature, and therefore they deserve equal chance to enlightenment."

The few selected women disciples of Lord Buddha highlighted in this thread are all incredible practitioners in their lifetime. Their life stories, though took place 2,500 years ago, still set a positive example for all female practitioners who aspire to attain Buddhahood.

However, let me touch on an important disciple of Buddha which led to the "acceptance" of women practitioners in general. Among the disciples of the Buddha, Venerable Ananda had the most retentive memory. Ananda joined the Sangha when he was a child. It was said that he became a monk together with Aniruddha and Bhadra. Initially when the four Sakyas princes became monks, Ananda was the youngest of all.

The father of Ananda was King Suklodana, Buddha's greatest betrayer, Devadatta was Ananda's elder brother. Once when Buddha returned to his homeland to preach, King Suklodana was afraid that Buddha would influence Ananda so after meeting Buddha, he brought Ananda to Vaisali so that there would be less opportunity of Ananda meeting Buddha. However, later Buddha went to Vaisali too so King Suklodana again brought Ananda back to Kapilavastu.

In fact, among the princes, Buddha had the greatest hope that Ananda would leave home with him. The Buddha could foresee the future and he thought, " If Ananda leaves home, he shall spread Buddha Dharma to the future generations.

When the Buddha knew Ananda had returned to Kapilavastu, he immediately went to the palace of King Suklodana. When Ananda saw the Buddha, he paid his respects to the Buddha and used a fan to fan Him. From here we can see that little Ananda had respected Buddha even at a young age.

When the time was ripe, Ananda and prince Bhadra joined the monk's community.

Helping in the Setting up of the Order of Nuns

Growing up in the Sangha, Ananda had a gentle and compassionate disposition. He was most respected by women because he was caring towards the bhikkhunis and women followers of the Buddha.

It was due to the effort of Ananda that Buddha allowed female to become bhikkhunis.

When Buddha's foster mother Mahaprajapati saw that the Buddha had attained enlightenment, that some of the princes had taken refuge in Buddha and the king was dead, she wanted to leave home to be a bhikkhuni or nun.

Mahaprajapati begged the Buddha to permit her to stay in the Buddha's community or Sangha but the Buddha refused. To avoid the frequent begging from his foster mother, the Buddha went to preach in Namantini monastery which was not far from Vaisali.

Mahaprajapati was not deterred. She gathered five hundred women of the Sakyan clan who had similar thoughts as her, shaved their hair and walked bare-footed to catch up with the Buddha. They walked for over two thousand miles and finally reached the monastery where the Buddha stayed. Having stayed in the palace for so long and not used to walking such long distances, the women looked tired and haggard. They paced outside the monastery and dared not enter. Ananda happened to come out and when he saw Mahaprajapati and the other women wearing the robes of bhikkunis, with dust and tears on their faces, he had a shock. He asked them, "What is going on?"

Mahaprajapati replied, "We leave our loved ones and relatives and walked all the way here to become bhikkunis. If Buddha refuse us again, we shall die here and never return!"

Ananda was so touched by the words that he could not control his tears. He related the message to Buddha and begged the Buddha to grant the women their wish.


The Buddha, however, refused, "Ananda, I sympathise with them but it is not appropriate to let women enter our community."

"Lord Buddha! Are men and women different in the Buddha Dharma?" Ananda picked up the courage to ask.

"Ananda! the Dharma is the same in heaven or in the world. I do not discriminate against women, that is to say that I treat all sentient beings as equal. Women can do as the men did, follow my Dharma and practice but they need not become bhikkunis. This is the question of our system and not whether men and women are equal. Women leaving home are like wild grass in the field which will affect the harvest."

This speech of the Buddha had profound meaning. On the aspect of humanity, women should be allowed to leave home however on the aspect of Dharma logic, it s not good to allow the two sexes to practice together. Wisdom and love move opposite ways, some people might give up practice for love so Buddha refused to let women to join the Sangha. Or perhaps the Buddha felt that as compared to men, women are more vain, delicate and slower than men so he disallowed women from entering to teach them a lesson.

Although the Buddha refused, nevertheless Ananda said in tears, "Lord Buddha! Can you bear to see them die, shouldn't you show them compassion and give them a helping hand?"

The Buddha felt that at times, it was impossible to care for both Dharma and feelings at the same time, he also understood that there was no pure and unchanging Dharma. Buddha was quiet for a while and finally agreed to Ananda's request to allow women to leave home. Happily, Ananda rushed outside to announce the good news. Mahaprajapti and the other women were overjoyed with tears. The Buddha met the five hundred women and wanted them to obey eight extra rules towards the monks.

Encounter with Matanga

Ananda was young and handsome and this caused him some trouble. One day, he begged in Sravasti and on the way back he saw a well. A peasant girl was getting water from the well. Ananda was thirsty so he asked the girl to give him some water.

The girl recognised the young bhikkhu in front of her was Ananda. Very shyly she said, "Venerable! I am a lowly peasant who is not fit to offer you anything."

When Ananda heard this, he consoled her, "Young lady! I am a bhikkhu and I am equal towards the rich and poor!"

The girl was deeply attracted by Ananda's looks and his gentle speech. She even dreamed of marrying him. In actual fact, young Ananda could not forget the young lady too! Next day, when he passed by her house, the girl smiled and acknowledged him. Ananda began to feel confused. However at the moment he remembered he was the bhikkhu who had to abide by the precepts, he though of Buddha, his power engulfed him. Ananda suddenly found wisdom, as if the Buddha had turned into a gust of wind to guide him back to the Jetavana monastery.

On the second day, Ananda calmed himself then went to the city to beg. The young girl wore a new dress and had a new hairdo. She stood on the road waiting for Ananda. When she saw him, she followed him and refused to let him go. Ananda was nervous and helpless. He returned to the monastery and told the Buddha everything. The Buddha then told him to bring the girl to him.

When the girl heard that Buddha wanted to see her, she was shocked but in order to get Ananda, she picked up courage to see the Buddha. Upon seeing her, Buddha said, " Ananda is a practising monk, to be his wife you need to leave home and be a bhikkhuni for a year, are you willing?"

"I an willing, Lord Buddha!" The girl was surprised that the Buddha had so easily made her wish come true, so she answered very quickly.

"According to my system, leaving home needs approval from parents, can you get your parents to approve of it?"

The Buddha did not make things difficult for her. His conditions were not impossible and the girl immediately went home to fetch her mother. Her mother very happily agreed to let her daughter become a bhikkuni first before marrying Ananda.

In order to be Ananda's wife, the girl very happily shaved her hair to become a bhikkuni. She listened to Buddha's preachings very enthusiastically and practised according to Buddha's guidance. Her desires and emotions calmed down after each passing day and in less than half a year, she realised that in the past her pursuits for love was a shameful behaviour.

Buddha always preached that the five forms of desires were unclean Dharma and the source of sufferings. Only when the five desires were cleared could the mind become pure and the life peaceful.

The girl realised her obsession with Ananda was unclean and bad. She regretted and one day, she knelt in front of Buddha and tearfully repented, " Buddha! I am awake now, I will not be ignorant like I used to be. I am very grateful to you. In order to convert ignorant sentient beings like us, you have put in so much effort to think of various ways! From now on, I am going to be a bhikkuni forever, follow Buddha's footsteps to be a messenger of truth!"

Buddha's earnest teachings had finally awakened her to become a model bhikkhuni!

This girl was the well-known Matanga. In allowing a peasant girl to be a bhikkhuni, Buddha received a lot of criticism and opposition from people as the caste system was prevalent at that time. However, Buddha advocated equality of the four castes. The incidence of Matanga's attraction to Ananda's looks and the turning of misfortune into happiness had become a matter of great interest in the Buddhist community and a charming story through the ages.

Trouble with Females

Ananda was helpful towards bhikkhunis. As he could get along well with people, all women, especially bhikkunis had deep respect for him. Sometimes when he walked with Maha Kassapa, bhikkhunis usually asked for Ananda's advice before they asked Maha Kassapa, though Maha Kassapa was more senior than Ananda, in terms of knowledge, experience and age.

The minds of bhikkhus and bhikkhunis are constantly at war with their sensible reasonings and emotions. If sensibility win, they can become Buddha, if emotions win, they remain as ordinary people. It is difficult to expect all bhikkhus and bhikkhunis to lead a withered and dull life without any form of love of the world.

In the Jetavana monastery, there lived a young female bhikkhuni. She was deeply attracted by Ananda's outstanding features and grace and loved him secretly. However, living in the strict Buddhist community, she was not allowed to break the precepts, so she felt helpless and frustrated.

One day, this young bhikkhuni fell sick and she asked someone to pass a message to Ananda asking him to visit her. Next morning, before he went to beg for food, the kind Ananda went to visit the bhikkhuni. However she was half dressed and when Ananda walked near her, she looked at him with deep love. Ananda immediately understood and without uttering a single word, he turned and walked away. The young bhikkhuni quickly got up from bed, dressed and rushed after Ananda. She invited Ananda to sit down. When Ananda sat down, he said, " Sister! Do not use unclean things to feed your body, do not have incorrect thoughts of sexual desire. Sister! You are unwell, as long as you put your body and mind in an undemanding state, you will soon recover."

However, the young bhikkhuni still looked at Ananda with tenderness and love, she said, "I understand what you mean but no matter how hard I try, I can't control my feeling for you. People, in order to feel protected and peaceful, cannot be without demands!"

"Sister! You must not think this way. People work for clothes, food and shelter for cultivation of body. To cultivate a healthy body is to practice the way, then the mind can be peaceful. To forget the path but instead pursue the impermanent desire is incorrect. We cultivate our body and mind, cut off all desires to pursue the true path and not be lured by void and empty ways!"

The bhikkhuni was deeply touched and put off her desire for love. She received the Dharma eyes.

Actually, Ananda had no thoughts of love nor desire for women but only pure friendship. However, because of women, he encountered a lot of problems thereby causing jealousy and criticisms.

Becoming Buddha's Attendant

In Buddha's heart, Ananda was the person to spread Buddha's seeds. However, his problems with women were especially much. In order to let Ananda control himself and practice with concentration, Buddha intended to make Ananda his attendant.

In fact, ever since Buddha attained enlightenment, Sariputra, Mogallana, Kapala and others, had taken turns to serve the Buddha. We could say that within these twenty over years, the Buddha had no permanent attendant serving him.

It might be due to Buddha's old age that he needs a constant attendant. A number of bhikkhu volunteered to serve Buddha but Buddha rejected and assigned them to preach in various places. Mogallan understood the Buddha's feelings so together with Sariputra, they persuaded Ananda, "Ananda bhikkhu! The Buddha's intention is that you become his attendant. You are young, capable, intelligent and gentle, we hope you will agree."

Initially, Ananda declined giving the excuse of heavy responsibility. However, he finally agreed after much persuasion from Sariputra and Mollagana. But Ananda listed three conditions:

1. Buddha's clothing, whether new or old, he refuses to wear.
2. When devotees invite the Buddha to receive offerings, he will not go along.
3. When it is not time to see the Buddha, he will not see him. Other than these, he is willing to serve Lord Buddha.

Mogallan and Sariputra related Ananda's conditions to the Buddha. Not only was Buddha not angry, instead he happily praised,

"Ananda is really a bhikkhu with character. He listed three conditions to avoid criticisms. He does not want others to criticise that he serve Buddha because of good clothes and food. He knows how to prevent these conditions…"

From then on, Ananda became Buddha's attendant. He was only twenty over years old. During his twenty-seven years with Buddha, he acted according to Buddha's instructions and accompanied Buddha to preach at various places. He was also the mediator between Buddha and bhikkhus. In the Sangha, Ananda maintained a modest and respectful attitude. Many devotees took refuge in Buddha because of him.

Ensapa

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2012, 01:40:11 PM »


Encounter with Matanga

Ananda was young and handsome and this caused him some trouble. One day, he begged in Sravasti and on the way back he saw a well. A peasant girl was getting water from the well. Ananda was thirsty so he asked the girl to give him some water.

The girl recognised the young bhikkhu in front of her was Ananda. Very shyly she said, "Venerable! I am a lowly peasant who is not fit to offer you anything."

When Ananda heard this, he consoled her, "Young lady! I am a bhikkhu and I am equal towards the rich and poor!"

The girl was deeply attracted by Ananda's looks and his gentle speech. She even dreamed of marrying him. In actual fact, young Ananda could not forget the young lady too! Next day, when he passed by her house, the girl smiled and acknowledged him. Ananda began to feel confused. However at the moment he remembered he was the bhikkhu who had to abide by the precepts, he though of Buddha, his power engulfed him. Ananda suddenly found wisdom, as if the Buddha had turned into a gust of wind to guide him back to the Jetavana monastery.

On the second day, Ananda calmed himself then went to the city to beg. The young girl wore a new dress and had a new hairdo. She stood on the road waiting for Ananda. When she saw him, she followed him and refused to let him go. Ananda was nervous and helpless. He returned to the monastery and told the Buddha everything. The Buddha then told him to bring the girl to him.

When the girl heard that Buddha wanted to see her, she was shocked but in order to get Ananda, she picked up courage to see the Buddha. Upon seeing her, Buddha said, " Ananda is a practising monk, to be his wife you need to leave home and be a bhikkhuni for a year, are you willing?"

"I an willing, Lord Buddha!" The girl was surprised that the Buddha had so easily made her wish come true, so she answered very quickly.

"According to my system, leaving home needs approval from parents, can you get your parents to approve of it?"

The Buddha did not make things difficult for her. His conditions were not impossible and the girl immediately went home to fetch her mother. Her mother very happily agreed to let her daughter become a bhikkuni first before marrying Ananda.

In order to be Ananda's wife, the girl very happily shaved her hair to become a bhikkuni. She listened to Buddha's preachings very enthusiastically and practised according to Buddha's guidance. Her desires and emotions calmed down after each passing day and in less than half a year, she realised that in the past her pursuits for love was a shameful behaviour.

Buddha always preached that the five forms of desires were unclean Dharma and the source of sufferings. Only when the five desires were cleared could the mind become pure and the life peaceful.

The girl realised her obsession with Ananda was unclean and bad. She regretted and one day, she knelt in front of Buddha and tearfully repented, " Buddha! I am awake now, I will not be ignorant like I used to be. I am very grateful to you. In order to convert ignorant sentient beings like us, you have put in so much effort to think of various ways! From now on, I am going to be a bhikkuni forever, follow Buddha's footsteps to be a messenger of truth!"

Buddha's earnest teachings had finally awakened her to become a model bhikkhuni!

This girl was the well-known Matanga. In allowing a peasant girl to be a bhikkhuni, Buddha received a lot of criticism and opposition from people as the caste system was prevalent at that time. However, Buddha advocated equality of the four castes. The incidence of Matanga's attraction to Ananda's looks and the turning of misfortune into happiness had become a matter of great interest in the Buddhist community and a charming story through the ages.



Actually, there is another dimension to Matanga's story. It is mentioned in the Shuragama sutra.

Quote
Sutra:

At that time, because Ananda was begging in sequential order, he passed by a house of prostitution and was waylaid by a powerful artifice. By means of a mantra of the Kapila religion, formerly of the Brahma Heaven, the daughter of Matangi drew him onto an impure mat.

Commentary:

At that time Ananda was being stern and proper, honoring with propriety the method for obtaining food. Because Ananda was begging in sequential order - by going door to door, house to house - he passed by a house of prostitution and was waylaid by a powerful artifice. It was not real, but was something conjured up. The daughter of Matangi had urged her mother to make use of a mantra, which allegedly had come from the gods of the Brahma Heaven and had been brought down to the human realm. But it was phony; it was empty and false, so it is called an “artifice.”

Matangi is a Sanskrit name, interpreted to mean “Vulgar Lineage,” indicating that she was not honorable. Her daughter’s name was Prakriti, which is Sanskrit for “Basic Nature.”

Ananda was snared by a mantra of the Kapila religion, formerly of the Brahma Heaven. Matangi had learned her false mantra from members of the tawny-haired religion. In fact, the mantric device was falsely named, because it was not really a transmission from the Brahma Heaven. Its proponents just claimed it was, and in that way got people to believe in them. However, the recitation of the mantra was able to turn Ananda’s spirit and soul upside down and he fell into a stupor as if asleep, dreaming, or drunk. Without realizing what was happening he went into the house of prostitution. The mantra “which came from the Brahma Heaven,” had rendered him totally oblivious and had totally confused his self-nature.

”Basically Ananda was a sage who had been certified as having attained the first fruition. Then why was the mantra purported to have come from the Brahma Heaven able to confuse him?” you wonder.

He became confused because he had concentrated on studying the sutras and had not been attentive to samadhi-power; and so although he had attained the first fruition; his samadhi-power was still insufficient. Therefore when he encountered this kind of demon he was confused by her, and the daughter of Matangi drew him onto an impure mat.

Ananda was extremely handsome. His features were almost as perfect as the thirty-two fine marks of the Buddha. Ananda’s skin was snowy white and glistened like silver, sparkled like frost. Most Indians had dark complexions but Ananda’s skin was extremely soft, supple, smooth, and especially fair. That is why Matangi’s daughter was infatuated with Ananda the moment she laid eyes on him and went running to tell her mother that she wanted Ananda.

”He’s a disciple of the Buddha,” her mother said. “How can you want him? He’s a bhikshu and cannot marry. You can’t have him.”

”That doesn’t make any difference to me,” replied her daughter. “Mother, you’re going to have to think of a way to trap Ananda for me. If I can’t marry Ananda I won’t go on living,” she said obstinately.

Her desire was so overpowering that it was a matter of life and death.

”Ah,” thought Matangi, “She loves him so much. I’ll have to think of a way to do what cannot be done.” So she used the mantra, a deviant dharma from the Kapila religion, and recited until Ananda became hypnotized. He followed her in a daze like a drunken beggar, in such a stupor that he couldn’t tell east from west, or north from south. He went right into the house and followed Matangi’s daughter into her room and onto the bed.

Sutra:

With her licentious body she stroked and rubbed him until he was on the verge of destroying the precept-substance.

Commentary:

This was a dangerous spot to be in! With her licentious body she caressed him until he was on the verge of destroying the precept-substance. He still hadn’t broken it. This is an important point. When one receives the precepts one becomes endowed with a certain substance, which, if destroyed, is as serious as if your very life had been cut off. It is extremely important for people who have left the home-life not to break precepts. If precepts are broken, you might just as well die. As for Ananda, if the text said that his precept-substance was “already” destroyed, it would mean it would be all over for him, Ananda would have fallen, and in the future he would have had a great deal of difficulty in cultivating successfully.

Why did Matangi’s daughter have such a compelling attraction for Ananda? It stemmed from the fact that Ananda and Matangi’s daughter had been married to one another in five hundred former lives. Because they had been a married couple in so many former lives, as soon as she saw Ananda this time, her old habits took over, and she fell madly in love with him. Ananda had been her husband before and she was determined to have him for a husband again. Because of those seeds passed down life after life, she was now willing to sacrifice everything - even her very life - for the sake of her love for Ananda.


This shows the power of imprints.
D4 The Tathagata compassionately rescues him.
E1 He quickly returns and speaks the mantra.

Sutra:

The Tathagata, knowing Ananda was being taken advantage of by the indecent artifice, finished the meal and immediately began his return journey. The king, great officials, elders, and laypeople followed along after the Buddha, desiring to hear the essentials of dharma.

Commentary:

Whenever the Buddha accepted an offering he always spoke the Dharma after the meal for the sake of the vegetarian host. Only after speaking the dharma would he return to the sublime abode of the Jeta Grove. But this time there were special circumstances. The Tathagata, knowing Ananda was being taken advantage of by the indecent artifice, finished the meal and immediately began his return journey. Knowing that Ananda had met with difficulty and was on the verge of destroying the Precept-substance, the Buddha ate quickly, and as soon as he finished he immediately returned to the sublime abode of the Jeta Grove. In fact, I imagine he did not eat very much, since his beloved disciple and cousin and personal attendant was in trouble. The Buddha thought, “Ah, my attendant is being waylaid by demons. He’s been captured by demons. How can this be?”

The king, great officials, elders, and laypeople followed along after the Buddha, desiring to hear the essentials of the dharma. Everyone knew that there was some important reason why the Buddha had not spoken dharma for the vegetarian host after the meal. They thought that the reason for the hasty retreat would certainly be announced, so everyone - the king, the officials, the elders, and the laypeople - followed the Buddha back to the sublime abode of the Jeta Grove. Why? Everyone had forgotten everything else but the single-minded desire to understand whatever important principle of dharma was about to be spoken. They didn’t know what had come up that was so unusual. Everyone was anxious to hear what the Buddha would say.

Sutra:

Then the World Honored One emitted a hundred rays of jeweled and fearless light from his crown. Within the light appeared a thousand-petalled precious lotus, upon which was seated a transformation-body Buddha in full-lotus posture, proclaiming a spiritual mantra.

Commentary:

Shakyamuni Buddha, the World Honored One, emitted a hundred rays of jeweled and fearless light from his crown. The hundreds of rays can represent the hundred realms. Within the light appeared a thousand-petalled jeweled precious lotus, which can represent the Thousand Suchnesses. These meanings can be investigated gradually. Now it is enough to understand the passage in general. From his crown, the crown of his head, were emitted a hundred rays of jeweled light and from these lights radiated fearless lights. The rays of “fearless lights” showed possession of a great awesome virtue. Fearing nothing, they were able to subdue all heavenly demons and externalists. No mantra whatever could withstand them. Not even one “purported to have come from the Brahma Heaven.”

The hundred rays of jeweled light also brought forth a thousand-petalled jeweled lotus, upon which was seated a transformation-body Buddha in full-lotus posture. In “full lotus posture” you sit with your legs crossed over one another, your feet resting on the tops of opposite thighs. There is a great deal of merit and virtue involved in sitting in full lotus.

This transformation-body Buddha was proclaiming a spiritual mantra. He pronounced the Shurangama Mantra. For Shakyamuni Buddha to have a transformation-body Buddha speak the mantra represents the secret cause within the secret cause, the king of kings of mantras. The Shurangama Mantra is extremely important. If you who study the Buddhadharma can learn the Shurangama Mantra in this life, you will not have been a human being in vain. If you do not learn the Shurangama Mantra, it will be like climbing a mountain made of the seven jewels - gold, silver, crystal, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, red pearl, and carnelian - and coming back down empty-handed. You arrive at the top of the mountain and you think about picking up some gold or perhaps some pearls, but then wonder if you should take silver instead. In the end you can’t decide which ones it would be best to take and so you come away without any at all. That is the situation of people who can’t memorize the Shurangama Mantra. So I hope that everyone will at the very least study hard enough so that they are able to recite it from memory. Not to speak of several weeks’ effort, it is worth several years’ effort if needed. It is extremely valuable. And this opportunity you have now to encounter it is extremely rare, very hard to come by. It is “the unsurpassed, profound, subtle, wonderful dharma.” There is nothing higher, nothing deeper. The Buddha used the Shurangama Mantra to save Ananda, who had already attained the first fruition of arhatship. Now, if you ordinary people do not rely on the Shurangama Mantra, how can you end birth and death? Therefore each of you should resolve to take my advice in this.



If you have not noticed, this sutra is bordering near to tantra as it talked about the Buddha emanating a lotus  from his crown. This sutra actually contains all of the headings of the Lamrim, but in a different order as the emphasis is different.

This text also has the commentary of Hsuan Hua.

(source: http://www.cttbusa.org/shurangama1/shurangama1_11.asp)

pgdharma

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2012, 01:51:35 PM »
Another of the female disciples of Buddha is Yasodhara. She was the former wife of Gautama Buddha and was chief amongst those who attained great supernormal powers.

Yasodhara was the daughter of King Suppabuddha and Pamit?, sister of the Buddha's father, King Suddhodana. Her father was a Koliya chief and her mother came from a Shakya family. The Shakya and the Koliya were branches of the ?dicca or Ik?v?ku clan of the solar dynasty. There were no other families considered equal to them in the region and therefore members of these two royal families married only among themselves.

She was wedded to her cousin, the Shakya prince Siddhartha in his 16th year when she was also 16 years of age. At the age of 29 she gave birth to their only child, a boy named R?hula. On the day of his birth the Prince left the palace. Yasodhar? was devastated and overcome with grief. Hearing that her husband was leading a holy life, she emulated him by removing her jewellery, wearing a plain yellow robe and eating only one meal a day.[5] Although relatives sent her messages to say that they would maintain her, she did not take up those offers. Several princes sought her hand but she rejected the proposals. Throughout his six year absence, Princess Yasodhar? followed the news of his actions closely.

When the Buddha visited Kapilavatthu after enlightenment, Yasodhar? did not go to see her former husband but ask Rahula to go to buddha to seek inheritence. For herself, she thought: "Surely if I have gained any virtue at all the Lord will come to my presence."

Sometime after her son R?hula became a novice Monk, Yasodhar? also entered the Order of Monks and Nuns and within time attained Arahantship. She was ordained as Bhikkhuni included among the five hundred ladies following the Pajapati Gotami to establish Bhikkhuni Order. She was declared as foremost in possessing the supernatural power among the Nuns. Amongst female disciples she was chief of those who attained great supernormal powers. She died at 78, two years before Buddha's Parinibb?na.

bambi

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #20 on: July 21, 2012, 02:12:35 PM »
Wow! Its great that so many of us did some research and found so many of Buddha's fore disciples. As I was reading some articles, I came across one more story. Her name is Nun Subha and She became Enlightened after 8 days of ordination! It is really an interesting story to read.

Subha - the Enlightened Nun

Because she had observed her precepts well as a good devotee of a former Buddha, Subha was born as the beautiful daughter of a prosperous goldsmith during the dispensation of Lord Gotama Buddha. Since her birth brought good luck to the household, her proud father named her Subha, which means "Lucky." He often thought, "This daughter of mine promises to be a perfect beauty. She reminds me of the superb royal jewellery I make!"

By the time Subha reached her sixteenth year, her father had become a rich man, receiving commissions from many rich clients. As his trade prospered, he had many goldsmiths working under him. Subha often wore the beautiful necklaces, coronets, and other ornaments he crafted for queens and princesses, parading and showing off their beauty. The parents and neighbors admired good-natured Subha, who appeared even more beautiful wearing delicate, refined ornaments. As Subha was kind, her home was a happy place, where friends and relations assembled in harmony.

Subha's neighbors often talked of a royal prince who had left his palace to lead an ascetic life. They said that the noble Sage had become a great saint, with many disciples. One day when the people of Rajgriha expected the noble sage's arrival, Subhas' father declared that day a holiday for his workmen and the maid Subha went with her parents and friends to witness the great sage's arrival. When the populace, led by King Bimbisara, heard the Lord Buddha's teachings, they were filled with joy. By evening the king, his retinue, and all the citizens of the town had accepted Buddhism as their faith. Very soon monasteries were offered to the Buddha, where some of the monks stayed, while others set forth to preach the doctrine.

Soon Buddhism was the accepted religion of the country. Many young men and women joined the Order of monks and nuns. Subha accompanied her parents to the teaching site and listened happily to the discourses. She saw the yellow-robed nuns and spoke with them. Her family became good devotees who often visited the monastery. One day, as the Lord surveyed the audience with supernormal vision, he saw that the maid Subha was experiencing last birth in samsaric existence - that she would become a nun and gain enlightenment. As the Lord preached that day, Subha listened intently and, at the end of the discourse, she attained the stage of a Stream Entrant. Thereupon she pleaded with her parents to allow her to become a nun. The parents were reluctant to part with her since, as their only child, she was slated to inherit their wealth. So, because they loved her, they tried their best to change her mind. In the end, however, they relented and, in due course, she became a nun. Her parents and relations thought that Subha would soon leave the nunnery and return to them, since she was fond of wearing fine clothes and jewellery.

Meanwhile Subha received doctrinal instructions from the nuns and observed her precepts well. She listened well when the nuns preached the Dharma and discussed doctrinal topics at length. She received instructions on meditation and meditated peacefully. Without her, the fond parents' home became a desolate place. Eventually, they talked over with friends and decided to visit the nunnery with the idea of coaxing Subha to return home. As they visited the nunnery, her mother began to weep, saying: "Dear daughter! Our home is a desolate place without you. Think of the lovely gold jewellery made specially for you by your father! These ornaments decorated your neck, ears, and arms! Once you loved to wear them! Now we have no daughter to inherit them! Dear daughter, we are rich with much wealth and many servants! Return and be the owner of all our wealth!" Her relations and friends made the same appeal while the mother cried.

Subha, determined to stop further appeals, tried to convince them that their appeals were in vain. She advised them with these words:

Listen well, my mother and relations.
Attired nicely as befitted a youth,
I listened to the teachings of the Lord.
In a wholesome state of mind,
I then realised the Truth.
So I left my parents who loved me,
My devoted friends and relations all,
All luxuries of a comfortable life,
Considerable wealth, lands and fields.
Craving for worldly comforts,
Does not suit my life now.
I left my homey comforts.
I shall not go there again,
I prefer a life of solitude,
Devoid of all craving.
Those fallen into the abyss of desire,
Often face disappointments,
Loss of their wealth,
Bodily hurt and even worse disasters.

Dear relations, listen to me.
Why do you try to tempt me
With all the troubles that I have left behind?
Dear friends, please realise that I am a homeless nun,
Who discerns no value in wealth!
My head is shaven;
I am clad in the robes of the Order.
Please realize my homeless mendicant state!
Living on whatever food others offer me,
Wearing robes that others offer me,
Living according to the precepts -
Such is the life of a nun.

Omniscient Lord Buddha,
As well as the noble Sangha,
Have shattered all bonds of desire
To attain the freedom of liberation.
They are free and happy!

Craving and desire are frightful enemies.
Like a devastating fire, they bring
All troublesome sorrows in their wake.
Like enemies, they chose to punish us.
Sensual pleasures are a terror,
Poisoning the minds of people.
Like a poisoned dart, they pierce the pure mind,
Misleading people to danger and sin.
Pleasures of the senses are frightful,
Like a snake's head about to sting.

Those ignorant people,
Who unable to cross the mire of desire,
Wallow in the pleasures of the senses.
They see no end in birth and death,
In the vast sea of existence.
Thus craving brings forth,
Rebirth in sorrowful conditions.
Their feed are as if bound
Forever in the ocean of samsaric existence.

Greed and desire create foes,
Enticing followers to danger.
Repenting their folly,
They face endless sorrows.
Partaking of sugar-coated poisoned food,
They are happy, singing at first.
As the poison works, it brings much torment.
Suffering and disaster follow in its wake.

Therefore, dear friends and relations,
For these reasons, I do not accept
Your ideas of happiness dependent on wealth.
I have found happiness in being a nun.
Never will I accept home life again!
Even as the Noble Ones,
Who followed the Noble Eightfold Path,
Were able to cross the fearful ocean of samsara,
I shall certainly follow their steps,
To gain the bliss of nibbana.

The friends and relations who listened never tempted her again. Most of them realised the truth of her words, and were happy when they listened to her.

Meditating on peace, Subha was able to attain her goal of attaining full liberation on the eighth day after her ordination. One day, as the enlightened nun was enjoying the bliss of meditation, Lord Buddha pointed her out to the nuns who came to worship him, saying: "Nuns! Look at the nun Subha! She has been well-trained by Theri Uppalavanna. Full of faith, she has maintained mindfulness and restrained her senses. By earnest endeavour, she has gained deliverance from the bonds. Her practice has culminated in the full attainment of Arahantship. She has reached the Three Higher Knowledges. It is only eight days since she received ordination. She is indeed a credit to the Order of Nuns!" When Sakra, the king of the gods, overheard the Lord's words, he came with his retinue of heavenly beings and worshipped the enlightened nun Subha.

Ensapa

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2012, 02:30:32 PM »
Here's another very devout student of the Buddha who became one of his main sponsors. She is Visakha.

Quote
Visakha was the devout and generous daughter of a millionaire. When she was only seven years old, the Buddha visited her birthplace. Her grandfather, hearing of the Buddha's visit, advised Visakha to go out and welcome him. Though she was so young, she was religious and virtuous. As such, immediately after hearing the Dharma from the Buddha, she attained the first stage of sainthood.

When she was fifteen years old, some Brahmins saw Visakha and thought she would be an ideal wife for their master Punnavaddhana, the son of a millionaire named Migara. Visakha possessed the five kinds of feminine beauty: beautiful hair, a beautiful figure, beautiful bone structure, beautiful skin which was smooth and golden in colour, and youthfulness. Accordingly, they made arrangements for Visakha to be married to Punnavaddhana.

On her wedding day, her wise father gave her some advice under these ten headings:

1. A wife should not criticise her husband and parents-in-law in front of other people. Neither should their weaknesses or household quarrels be reported elsewhere.

2. A wife should not listen to the stories or reports of other households.

3. Things should be lent to those who return them.

4. Things should not be lent to those who do not return them.

5. Poor relatives and friends should be helped even if they do not repay.

6. A wife should sit gracefully. On seeing her parents-in-law or her husband, she should respect them by rising from her seat.

7. Before taking her food, a wife should first see that her parents-in-law and husband are served. She should also make sure that his servants are well cared for.

8. Before going to sleep, a wife should see that all doors are closed, furniture is safe, servants have performed their duties, and that parents-in-law have retired. As a rule, a wife should rise early in the morning and unless she is sick, she should not sleep during the day.

9. Her parents-in-law and husband should be treated very carefully, like fire.

10. Her parents-in-law and husband should be given the respect due to devas.

From the day Visakha arrived in Savatthi, the city of her husband, she was kind and generous to everyone in the city and everyone loved her.

One day, her father-in-law was eating some sweet rice porridge from a golden bowl when a monk entered the house for alms. Although her father-in-law saw the monk, he continued to eat as if he had not. Visakha politely told the monk, "Pass on, Venerable Sir, my father-in-law is eating stale food."

For a long time Visakha's father-in-law had been unhappy at her because she was a devout follower and supporter of the Buddha while he was not. He was looking for a chance to break off the marriage between his son and Visakha, but her conduct was faultless. Now he saw his chance. Misunderstanding Visakha's words, he thought she had brought disgrace to his family.

He ordered Visakha to be expelled from the house, but she reminded him of her father's request to eight clansmen. Her father had told them, "If there be any fault in my daughter, investigate it."

The millionaire agreed to her request and summoned those eight clansmen to come and investigate whether Visakha was guilty of rudeness. When they arrived he secretly told them, "Find her guilty of this fault and expel her from the house."

Visakha proved her innocence by explaining, "Sirs, when my father-in-law ignored the monk and continued to eat his milk-rice porridge he was not making merit in his present life. He was only enjoying the merits of his past actions. Was this not like eating stale food?"

Her father-in-law had to admit that she was not guilty of being rude.

There were other misunderstandings after this, but Visakha was able to explain to her father-in-law's satisfaction. After these incidents, her father-in-law began to realise his error and to see the great wisdom of Visakha. At her suggestion, he invited the Buddha to their house to give teachings. On hearing the discourse he became a sotapanna (first stage of sainthood) .

With wisdom and patience, she succeeded in converting her husband's household to a happy Buddhist home. Visakha was also very generous and helpful to the monks. She built the Pubbarama monastery for the monks at great cost. Immense was her joy when the Buddha spent six rainy seasons there.

In one of the discourses that the Buddha delivered to Visakha, he spoke of the eight qualities in a woman that bring her welfare and happiness in this world and the next: "Herein, Visakha, a woman does her work well, she manages the servants, she respects her husband and she guards his wealth. Herein, Visakha, a woman has confidence (saddha) in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha; virtue (sila); charity (caga); and wisdom (panna)."

Being a woman who had many talents, Visakha played an important role in various activities amongst the Buddha and his followers. At times, she was given the authority by the Buddha to settle disputes that arose amongst the nuns (bhikkhunis). Some Vinaya rules of discipline were also laid down for the nuns when she was called in to settle their disputes.

Visakha died at the ripe age of one hundred and twenty.

pgdharma

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #22 on: July 27, 2012, 02:56:27 PM »
Here's the story of Sona, the nun who used to have many children, who became a nun anyway and attained arahatship:

Quote
There was a housewife in Savatthi who had ten children. She was always occupied with giving birth, nursing, upbringing, educating and arranging marriages for her children. Her children were her whole life. She was therefore known as "Sona with many children."

She was rather like Migara's mother of the same city, though the latter had twenty children. We may find such an abundance of offspring in one family somewhat strange today. However, this was not uncommon in Asia and even in some parts of the West.

Sona's husband was a lay follower of the Buddha. After having practiced moral conduct according to the precepts for several years while living the household life, he decided that the time had come to enter into the holy life, and so he became a monk. It was not easy for Sona to accept this decision, yet she did not waste her time with regrets and sorrow, but decided to live a more religiously dedicated life. She called her ten children and their husbands and wives together, turned her considerable wealth over to them, and asked them only for support for her necessities. For a while all went well. She had sufficient support and could spend her time in religious activities.

But soon it happened that the old woman became a burden to her children and children-in-law. They had not been in agreement with their father's decision, and even less did they agree with their mother's devout attitude and religious speech. Indeed, they thought of their parents as foolish because they would not indulge in the pleasures their wealth could purchase. They considered their parents mentally unstable, religious fanatics; this attitude made them despise their mother.

They quickly forgot that they owed all their riches to their mother, that she had lavished many years of care and attention on them. Looking only at the present moment, they considered the old woman a nuisance. The words of the Buddha, that a grateful person is as rare in the world as one who becomes a Noble One, proved true again in this case.

The increasing disdain by her children was an even greater pain for Sona than the separation from her husband. She became aware that waves of bitterness arose in her, that reproaches and accusations intermingled. She realized that what she had taken to be selfless love, pure mother's love, was in reality self love, coupled with expectations. She had been relying on her children completely and had been convinced that she would be supported by them in her old age as a tribute to her long years of solicitude for them, that gratitude, appreciation and participation in their affairs would be her reward. Had she not looked at her children as an investment then, as an insurance against the fear and loneliness of old age? In this manner, she investigated her motives and found the truth of the Enlightened One's words in herself. Namely, that it was a woman's way not to rely on possessions, power and abilities, but solely on her children, while it was the way of the ascetic to rely on virtue alone.

Her reflections brought her to the decision to enter the Order of Nuns so that she could develop the qualities of selfless love and virtue. Why should she remain in her home where she was only reluctantly accepted? She looked upon the household life as a gray existence and pictured that of a nun as brilliant, and so was ready to follow here husband's path. She became a nun, a Bhikkhuni in the order of the Buddha's followers.

But after a while she realized that she had taken her self-love along. The other nuns criticized her behavior in many small matters. She had entered the Sangha as an old woman and had dozens of habits and peculiarities which were obstacles in this new environment. She was used to doing things in a certain way, and the other nuns did them differently.

Sona soon realized that it was not easy to reach noble attainments, and that the Order of Nuns was not the paradise she had envisioned — just as she had not found security with her children. She also understood that she was still held fast by her womanly limitations. It was not enough that her weaknesses were abhorrent to her, and that she was longing for more masculine traits. She also had to know what to do to effect the change. She accepted the fact that she had to make tremendous efforts, not only because she was already advanced in years, but also because until now she had only cultivated female virtues. The masculine characteristics which she was lacking were energy and circumspection. Sona did not become discouraged, nor thought of the Path as too difficult. She had the same sincerity and steadfastness as her sister-nun-Soma, who said:

What's it to do with a woman's state
When the mind, well-composed
with knowledge after knowledge born,
sees into Perfect Dharma clear?
For who, indeed, conceives it thus:
A woman am I, a man am I,
or what, then indeed, am I?
Such a one can Mara still address.

It became clear to Sona that she had to develop courage and strength to win victory over her willfulness and her credulity. She realized that it was necessary to practice mindfulness and self-observation, and to implant into her memory those teachings which could be at her disposal when needed to counteract her emotions.

What use would be all knowledge and vows if she were carried away by her emotions, and her memory fail her when it was most needed? These were the reasons which strengthened Sona's determination and will-power to learn the Buddha's discourses. Through many a night thereby she attained the ability to memorize them. Furthermore, she took pains to serve her sister-nuns in a loving way and to apply the teachings constantly. After having practiced in this way for some time, she attained not only the assurance of non-returner, but became an arahant, fully-enlightened, a state she had hardly dared to hope for in this lifetime.

It happened without any special circumstances to herald it. After she had made a whole-hearted commitment to perfect those abilities which she lacked, no matter what the cost, she drew nearer to her goal day by day. One day she was liberated from the very last fetter. The Buddha said about her that she was foremost of the nuns who had energetic courage.

In the "Verses of the Elder Nuns" she describes her life in five verses:

Ten children having borne
from this bodily congeries,
so I, now weak and old,
approached a Bhikkhuni.

The Dharma she taught me —
groups, sense-spheres and elements,

I heard the Dharma,
and having shaved my hair, went forth.

While still a probationer
I purified the eye divine;
Former lives I knew,
and where I lived before.

One-pointed, well-composed,
the Signless [**] I developed,
immediately released,
unclinging now and quenched!
Knowing the five groups well,
they still exist; but with their roots removed.
Unmovable am I,
on a stable basis sure,
now rebirth is no more.

*[The five groups (or aggregates), the twelve sense spheres and the eighteen elements.]

**[One of the three gates to freedom the other two being the Desireless and Emptiness.]

Sona's sister-nuns, who had formerly been her severe critics, and who had thought that because of her age she would not be able to change, now apologized to her sincerely and endeavored to follow her good example.
This is a good story that every child or parent should read.  Sona’s story is one from which we can all learn. Children who read this should reflect on their responsibilities to their parents. Our parents took care of us when we were too young to take care of ourselves, taught us right from wrong and showed us the Dhamma. The Buddha said that even if we carried our parents on our shoulders for our entire lifetime (shoulder the responsibility of their care and comfort) we would not be able to settle the obligation we owe them for what they have done. The effects of what one does to one’s parents have forceful results. Both the wholesome and unwholesome deeds we perform towards our parents have serious consequences.

For parents there is much to learn from Sona. We do not own our children. How can we, when we do not even own ourselves? Children should fulfill their obligations to their parents. We should show them by example. But bringing up children in Western society is even more difficult than bringing them up in the East. If our children don’t fulfil their duties we must remember that the Buddha said that we are our own saviours. Nothing is gained by reflecting on their omissions and getting bitter and angry. But much can be gained by disciplining ourselves and purifying our own minds. The cause of suffering – craving lies within us. All we can do is to ensure that we have done our best for our children. We cannot save them just as they cannot save us. In the end each of us is our own saviour.

Dondrup Shugden

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2015, 05:14:20 PM »
The order of the Nuns was founded by the foster mother and aunt of Gautama Buddha.  It took numerous requests before Maha Pajapati Gotami was granted ordination.  It was due to mediation from Venerable Ananda and Maha Pajapati Gotami's determination to be a member of the monastic order.

In order to protect the nuns, Gautama Buddha gave special instructions for the nuns to follow.

This article is about many of the female Buddhists who become nuns and that was 2500 years ago.  Their stories are inspiring. 

Kim Hyun Jae

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #24 on: March 28, 2015, 07:21:57 AM »
All the comments above were very interesting reads. It has not occurred to me previously to find out about the female sangha of the Buddha, especially of what had become of them, their stories and whether there are still reincarnations of them currently.

It is quite logical that the female sangha nuns would have created the seeds to be planted to reincarnate again and again to show us the continuity of the dharma. The notion of being a "male" or "female" is interchangeable too. Physically, there are differences but their mind streams will be the same for sangha.