Author Topic: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?  (Read 29689 times)

ratanasutra

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Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« on: June 29, 2012, 05:27:04 PM »
We are know that Lord Buddha have ten principal disciples and each of them played an important role in the early days of Buddhism. 

I came across of some female disciples of Lord Buddha and would like to share here. 

Does anyone know other female disciples of Lord Buddha?
 


Female Disciples of Lord Buddha

Introduction
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."

Here are the short story of a women disciples of Lord Buddha. Her story, though took place 2,500 years ago, still set a positive example for all female practitioners who aspire to attain Buddhahood.

Maha Pajapati Gotami
Maha Pajapati Gotami was the founder of the Order of Nuns. She was Lord Buddha's foster mother as well as his maternal aunt. King Suddodhana married both sisters Maya and younger sister Gotami. When queen Maha Maya died on the seventh day of the birth of Prince Siddhartha her younger sister from that day became the queen and foster mother of the prince.

She felt miserably and lonely when Prince Siddhartha who had become the Buddha, Rahula his son and her own son Nanda renounced the worldly life for the higher life by entering monkhood. King Suddhodana had also passed away on attaining Arahatship. Ordination was now foremost in her mind.

She approached the Buddha on his visit to Kapilavathu and asked for the permission of forming the Order of the Nuns. But three times the Buddha turned down the request. She was dejected and returned home. Soon 500 women gathered round her as they too, felt the urge either through bereavement or following their beloved kith and kin to seek ordination.

So she determined to make amends. She shaved her hair and donned the yellow robe. Her 500 followers followed her example. Kapilavastu was separated from Jetavana monastery by a distance of 357 miles. She covered the distance with her followers by foot although various chieftains and lords placed chariots at their disposal. The dusty roads in those days were quite unlike the roads of the present day. There were no pavements or sealed surfaces. The gentle feet of Maha Pajapati Gotami were unused to such rough conditions. At the end of the journey they were thoroughly exhausted and travel-worn. The march caused a great stir in the district through which they passed. Such a walk attracted attention and soon the crowds lined the route. She felt that in the circumstances it was not fitting that she should court a refusal by the Buddha. So she and her 500 companions lingered at the entrance of Jetavana monastery when to their great good fortune Venerable Ananda appeared. He was amazed to see his aunt in such a sorry state. He inquired whether any calamity had befallen the royal house of the Sakyans or whether there was a revolt. She assured him there was nothing of the kind but told him the purpose of her mission. Venerable Ananda was eminently fit to play the role of a mediator. Again and again Venerable Ananda entreated the Lord but only to be refused.

Finally, Venerable Ananda asked whether it was not possible for a woman to attain the bliss of sainthood. The Buddha responded by saying that a woman could attain as well as a man and then consented to the establishment of the Order for Nuns, but only on eight conditions.

These were the eight conditions:

A Bhikshuni even if she was in the order for 100 years must respect a Bhikshu even of a day's standing.
A Bhikshuni should reside within 6 hours of traveling distance to and from the monastery where Bhikshus reside for advice
On Observance days, a Bhikshuni should consult the Bhikshus
A Bhikshuni should spend the Rainy Retreat under the orders of Bhikshus and Bhikshunis
A Bhikshuni should ply her life by both the orders
A Bhikshuni should on two years obtain the higher ordination (Upasampatha) by both orders
A Bhikshuni cannot scold a Bhikshu
A Bhikshuni cannot advise a Bhikshu rather it should be the other way round
When Venerable Ananda broached the news to Maha Pajapati Gotami she was glad. She wholeheartedly accepted the conditions laid down by the Buddha. She was true to her destiny, as not long afterwards she became an Arahant. So likewise did her companions on listening to the discourse called the Nandakovada Sutta by the Buddha. The King of Lichchavis built a residence for her and her followers at Vesali.

One day the Buddha accompanied by eighty Maha Arahats and a huge concourse of Bhikshus visited Pinnacle Hall in the city of Vaishali.

At such a sight Venerable Maha Pajapati Gotami was exceedingly glad. The disciples were fully worthy of the Lord as he was of them. She saw that Anna Kondanna, Shariputra, Mogyallana, Khema, Uppalawanna, Nanda, Rahula and his mother Yasodhara (Bimba Devi) were to predecease the Lord. She was determined not to tarry but that she should be the first to go. Although she was 120 years old yet signs of old age were not visible. Her hair and teeth resemble those of a girl of 16 years. At the moment of her resolution of obtaining Parinirvana the earth trembled and quaked. The thunder in the sky rent the air. Her companions likewise sought release.

She and her companions proceeded to meet the Lord. Compliments were exchanged. Although from the seventh day the prince was reared by her the Buddha amply repaid the debt due to her by her ordination. She gave a graphic picture of the infancy of Prince Siddhartha. How she has fed and bathed the prince.

In the meantime people from far and near flocked to the scene as the news spread. Diverse deities came. Vishva Karma deity who by his psychic power came to the rescue to provide much needed accommodation.

The Buddha requested Venerable Maha Pajapati Gotami to clear doubts about her sainthood. Then she paid tribute by performing many miraculous acts and all present including the Maha Arahats marveled.

She and her companions underwent the great release — Parinirvana. At last the cremation came to pass. The Lichchavi Princes brought sandalwood for the funeral pyre and the caskets containing the remains were made ready. The whole sky was overcast with the heavenly host during the day. The stars and the moon shone brilliantly overhead as night followed. People laid carpets and the deities held a canopy overhead. It was a unique ceremony the Buddha and the Maha Arahants graced, so the pyre was lit and only the relics of Venerable Maha Pajapati Gotami remained like pearls and those of others vanished from the scene. These relics were placed in the Buddha's bowl and given to him. The Buddha extolled the virtues of this great Arahant. He himself had ordained her and been her teacher and this was said to dispel any doubts.

The Buddha had a stupa built by the Lichavi Prince and the relics enshrined and the Buddha Himself joined the funeral procession. This was a unique honour paid by the Tathagata.

The Buddha addressing the monks and laity declared that Venerable Maha Pajapati Gotami was foremost in attainments among the female Maha Arahats of the Noble Order.

www.buddhanet.net

Jessie Fong

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2012, 06:22:38 AM »


Here's another one ...

Khema of Great Wisdom
Female Disciples of Lord Buddha   
Just as there were two foremost disciples in the order of monks, namely Shariputra and Moggallana, likewise the Buddha named two women as foremost amongst nuns, namely Uppalavanna and Khema.

The name Khema means well-settled or composed or security and is a synonym for Nirvana. The nun Khema belonged to a royal family from the land of Magadha. When she was of marriageable age, she became one of the chief consorts of King Bimbisara. As beautiful as her appearance was, equally beautiful was her life as the wife of an Indian Maharaja.

When she heard about the Buddha from her husband, she became interested, but she had a certain reluctance to become involved with his teaching. She felt that the teaching would run counter to her life of sense-pleasures and indulgences. The king, however, knew how he could influence her to listen to the teaching. He described at length the harmony, the peace and beauty of the monastery in the Bamboo Grove, where the Buddha stayed frequently. Because she loved beauty, harmony and peace, she was persuaded to visit there.

Decked out in royal splendor with silk and sandalwood, she went to the monastery. The Exalted One spoke to her and explained the law of impermanence of all conditioned beauty to her. She penetrated this sermon fully and still dressed in royal garments, she attained to enlightenment. Just like the monk, Mahakappina — a former king — she likewise became liberated through the power of the Buddha's words while still dressed in the garments of the laity. With her husband's permission she joined the Order of Nuns. Such an attainment, almost like lightning, is only possible however where the seed of wisdom has long been ripening and virtue is fully matured.

An ordinary person, hearing Khema's story, only sees the wonder of the present happening. A Buddha can see beyond this and knows that this woman did not come to full liberation accidentally. It came about like this: In former times when a Buddha appeared in the world, then Khema in those past lives also appeared near him, or so it has been recounted. Due to her inner attraction towards the highest Truth, she always came to birth wherever the bearer and proclaimer of such Truth lived. It is said that already innumerable ages ago she had sold her beautiful hair to give alms to the Buddha Padumuttara. During the time of the Buddha Vipassi, ninety-one eons ago, she had been a teacher of Dharma. Further it is told, that during the three Buddhas of our happy eon, which were previous to our Buddha Gautama, she was a lay disciple and gained happiness through building monasteries for the Sangha.


extracted from : http://www.drukpa-nuns.org/index.php/khema-of-great-wisdom

bambi

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2012, 06:23:08 AM »
Interesting for women to become a Bhikkhuni 2,500 years ago. When Pajapati went to Buddha to request ordination after King Suddhodana passed away, Buddha refused her 3 times on the reason that it is very hard for women to lead monastic life. And 1 of it was when Ven. Ubonwanna Theri, who was raped by a young man whilst she was dwelling in the forest.

So when Ananda asked Buddha to ordain Pajapati, Buddha set these 8 rules which I found some
to be slightly different from yours and more informative.

The Buddha said to him, “Ananda, I will give my approval on the condition that they accept the eight Garudhammas, which are as follows:

- However old a bhikkhuni may be, she must pay respect even to a newly ordained monk and should learn and practise this dhamma throughout her life.

- A bhikkhuni must not stay in a nunnery to observe the Buddhist Lent where there is no bhikkhu nearby and should learn and practise this dhamma throughout her life.

- A bhikkhuni must invite a bhikkhu every fortnight to fix the date of Sabbath and the day to listen to the exhortation (Ovada) of the monks and should learn and practise this dhamma throughout her life.

- A bhikkhuni must perform the ceremony of Confession and taking advice both in the bhikkhu Sangha and the bhikkhuni Sangha and should learn and practise this dhamma throughout her life.

- A bhikkhuni must observe the manattna discipline first from a bhikkhu and then from a bhikkhuni and should learn
and practise this dhamma throughout her life.

- A bhikkhuni, after training in six pacittiya rules of the bhikkhuni patimokkha, should seek upasampada from both bhikkhu and bhikkhuni sanghas and should learn and practice this dhamma throughout her life.

- A bhikhhuni must not admonish a bhikkhu and should learn and practice this dhamma throughout her life

- Since having become a nun, she should be receptive to learning and should learn and practise this dhamma throughout her life.

Ananda tell her that if she can abide by these rules, I will grant her ordination.”
 

Another disciple of Pajapati was her daughter Sundari-Nanda. Sundari in Pali means "beautiful." She was considered to be the most beautiful woman in her country. She was the daughter of Suddhodana and Pajapati and therefore a half-sister of the Buddha. She was not as interested in the fact that she was beautiful as she was in becoming awakened. She was known to have a natural ability in religious practice, and was declared by the Buddha to be foremost among the nuns in meditative power.

And another is Pajapati's nurse that took care of Pajapati since she was a child.

Carpenter

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2012, 06:58:16 AM »
Thank you Ratanasutra for opening this thread, I have never thought that there is female disciple for Gautama Buddha, I thought all disciples are male. After reading this thread, I also went online to surf to see any other female that has created a legend but never mentioned by anyone before.

This is one of the disciple of Gautama Buddha as well, please read:

Samavati was one of the chief consorts of King Udena, Kosambi. One day, her maid named Khujjuttara had the opportunity to listen to the Buddha expounding the Dhamma. She attained the first stage of the noble truths after listening to the Dhamma. Khujjuttara subsequently repeated the Dhamma to Samavati and her five hundred maids. All of them also attained the first level of Buddhist sainthood. She then continued to repeat the Buddha Dhamma to Samavati and her maids each time after listening to the Buddha from that day onwards.

King Udena also had another chief queen called Magandiya. She instigated that Samavati was not loyal to him and tried to kill him. The enraged king fitted his bow with an arrow dipped in poison and aimed at Samavati. Samavati and her ladies spread the power of goodwill (metta) to the king instead.

The arrow shot had turned back miraculously, although an arrow shot by the king would usually go through a rock even. King Udena promptly realized the innocence of Samavati.

After the initial failed attempt, the evil Magandiya plotted with her unscrupulous uncle to burn Samavati and her maids alive. As the fire ravaged on mercilessly while they were trapped in, upasika Samavati and her maids had kept on meditating. Thus, some of them progressed ahead onto the third level of noble truth while the rest attained the second level of noble truth.

As a conclusion, there are two points I would like to share. The first is that females are also capable of realizing the Noble Truths. This is just as the males, be they laities or monks if we practice the Buddha’s trodden path sincerely. The second point is that if we were to continue practicing even under unfortunate conditions/circumstances, we will attain the noble truth of Buddhism.


Ensapa

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2012, 09:29:05 AM »
Here's a touching story of a lady who became a nun during the Buddha's time.

Quote

 

(Part One) 28. The Story of Lady Patacara

During the Buddha's lifetime there was a rich man who had a charming daughter called Patacara. Her parents loved her so much that they kept her in the seventh storey of their mansion and did not let her go anywhere.

When she was sixteen, Patacara's parents made arrangements for her to marry the son of another wealthy man. But she had already fallen in love with her pageboy and wanted to be with him.

Just before the wedding, early in the morning, Patacara dressed up like a servant and slipped out of the mansion. She met her pageboy at an arranged place and they ran away together.

The couple traveled to a faraway place and were married. After some time Patacara was ready to give birth to their child. "Here I have no one to help me," she said to her beloved husband, "but a mother and father always have a soft spot in their heart for their child. Please take me to my parents' house so I may give birth to our child."

But her husband said, "My darling, what are you saying? If your mother and father were to see me they would torture me to death. It is out of the question for me to go." She begged him over and over again and each time he refused to go.

One day, when her husband was away, Patacara went to her neighbours and told them, "If my husband asks you where I have gone tell him that I have gone home to my parents." When he came home to find Patacara missing, her husband ran after her and soon caught up, begging her to return home. She began to refuse but right then her birth pains started and she soon gave birth to a son. She thought, "There is no point in going to my parents' home now," and returned home with her husband.

After some time she was ready to give birth to her second child and left for her parents' home again while her husband was at work. Again her husband came after her and begged her to return with him but she refused.

While this was happening a fearful storm arose. Patacara told her husband, "Dear, my birth pains have come upon me. I cannot stand it, please find me a place to shelter from this storm."

Her husband took his axe and went here and there in the heavy rain, looking for branches and leaves to make a shelter. Seeing a bush growing on an anthill he went to chop it down. As he did so a poisonous snake slithered out and bit his hand, killing him immediately.

As Patacara waited for her husband, her pains became more and more severe and soon she gave birth to another son. Weak, cold and wet she could do nothing more than place her children to her bosom, curl into the ground and wait out the night, worrying desperately after her husband and sheltering as best she could.

Early the next morning, with the newborn on her hip and holding the hand of the other child, Patacara went along the path her husband had taken and eventually found him lying dead. "All because of me my husband died on the road," she cried.

After a while she continued walking along the path until she came to the river Acirawati, which was flooded from the storm. Since she felt weak from the previous night she could not carry both children together. Patacara placed the older boy on the bank and carried the younger one across the river. She then put the baby on a bed of leaves and returned for the older child.

Hardly had she come to midstream when a hawk came down from the sky and swooped off with the young child. Patacara saw the hawk and screamed in a loud voice, "Su!, Su!" When he heard her voice across the water the older boy thought, "Mother is calling me." And, in a hurry to get to her, he slipped down the bank and was swept away by the river.

Now Patacara became very distressed and cried and cried, saying, "One of my sons has been carried away by a hawk, the other swept away by the river, and by the roadside my husband lies dead." She went off weeping until she met a man and asked him, "Sir, where do you live?"

"In Savatthi," he replied.

"In the city of Savatthi in such and such a street lives such and such a family. Do you know them, Sir?"

"Yes, my good Lady, but don't ask me about that family. Ask me about another family you know."

"Good Sir, I know only that family. Please tell me about them," said she.

"Since you insist, I cannot hide the truth," said the man. "In the heavy rains last night, the family's house collapsed, killing all of them."

"Oh no!" cried Patacara.

"Yes; can you see that fire over there?" he asked, pointing to some flames. "That is their funeral fire."

No sooner had Patacara heard this than she fell on the ground, rolling to and fro with grief. Some villagers came and took her to the Jetavana monastery, where the Buddha was teaching. The Buddha asked some ladies to wash her, clothe her and give her food, and then he consoled her in a most sweet and wonderful voice. When she recovered her senses, and having gained insight into her experiences, Patacara begged the Buddha to ordain her. Thus Patacara became a bhikkhuni (nun).

At that time the Buddha was staying at the Jeta Grove, Anathapindika's Monastery. He saw Patacara approaching from afar and recognized that in a past life she had made an earnest resolve to become a nun well versed in the Law. Therefore, he instructed his disciples not to obstruct her, but to let her enter and come near him. As soon as she was close to the Buddha, through his supernatural powers, she regained her right mind. Then she also became aware of being naked and in her shame she crouched upon the ground.

One of the lay-followers threw her a cloak and after she had wrapped herself in it, she prostrated at the feet of the Buddha. Then she recounted to him the tragedy that had befallen her.

The Teacher listened to her with compassion and then made it clear to her that these painful experiences she had gone through were only tiny drops in the ocean of impermanence in which all beings drown if they are attached to that which rises and ceases. He told her that all through many existences, she had wept more tears over the loss of dear ones than could be contained in the waters of the four oceans. He said:

But little water do the oceans four contain,
Compared with all the tears that man hath shed,
By sorrow smitten and by suffering distraught.
Woman, why heedless dost thou still remain?

This exposition of the Awakened One penetrated her mind so deeply that at that moment she could completely grasp the impermanence of all conditioned things.

When the Enlightened One had finished his teaching she had attained the certainty of future liberation by becoming a stream-winner. She practiced diligently and soon realized final deliverance. She said:

With plows the fields are plowed;
With seed the earth is sown;
Thus wives and children feed;
So young men win their wealth.

Then why do I, of virtue pure,
Doing the Master's Teaching,
Not lazy nor proud,
Nirvana not attain?

Having washed my feet,
Then I watched that water,
Noticing the foot-water
Flowing from high to low.
With that the mind was calmed
Just as a noble, thoroughbred horse.

Having taken my lamp,
I went into my hut,
Inspected the sleeping-place,
Then sat upon the couch.

Having taken a pin,
I pushed the wick right down, and
Just as the lamp went out,
So all delusion of the heart went too.

It had been enough for her to see the water trickle down the slope, to recognize the whole of existence, each life a longer or shorter trickle in the flood of craving. There were those that lived a short time like her children, those like her husband who lived a little longer, or her parents who lived longer yet. But all passed by a constant change, in a never-ending rising and ceasing. This thought-process gave her so much detachment, that she attained to total emancipation the following night.

The Buddha said about Patacara, that she was the foremost "Keeper of the Vinaya" amongst the Nuns. Patacara was thereby the female counterpart of the monk Upali. That she had chosen the "Rules of Conduct" as her central discipline is easy to understand, because the results of her former indulgences had become bitterly obvious to her.

She learned in the Sangha, that an intensive study of the rules was necessary and purifying, and brought with it the security and safety of self-discipline; she learned not to become complacent through well-being or anxious and confused through suffering. Because of her own experiences she had gained a deep understanding for the human predicament and could be of great assistance to her fellow nuns.

She was a great comfort to those who came to her in difficulties. The nun Canda said that Patacara showed her the right path out of compassion and helped her to achieve emancipation.

Another nun, Uttara II, reported how Patacara spoke to the group of nuns about conduct and discipline:

Having established mind,
One-pointed, well-developed,
Investigate formations
As other, not as self.

Uttara took Patacara's words to heart and said:

When I heard these words, —
Patacara's advice,
After washing my feet —
I sat down alone.

Thereby this nun, too, was able to attain to the three "True Knowledges" (vijja) and final liberation. In the "Verses of the Elder Nuns" we have a record of Patacara's instructions to the nuns and their resultant gains:

Having taken flails,
Young men thresh the corn.
Thus wives and children feed;
So young men win their wealth.
So likewise as to Buddha's Teachings,
From doing which there's no remorse.
Quickly cleanse your feet
And sit you down alone.
Devote yourselves to calm of mind,
And thus do Buddha's Teachings.
When they heard these words —
Patacara's instructions,
Having washed their feet,
They sat down, each one alone,
Devoted themselves to calm of mind.
And thus followed the Buddha's Teachings.
In the night's first watch

Past births were remembered;
In the middle watch of the night
The eye divine was purified;
In the night's last watch
They rent asunder the mass of gloom.
Having risen, they bowed at her feet,
Her instructions having done;
We shall live revering you
Like the thirty gods to Indra,
Undefeated in war.
We are with triple knowledge true
And gone are all the taints.

* [First watch of the night: 6-10 p.m; Middle watch: 10 p.m.-2 a.m.; Last watch: 2-6 a.m.]

Patacara was able to effect the change from a frivolous young girl to a Sangha Elder so quickly, because from previous births she had already possessed this faculty. During the previous Buddha's existence, it is said that she had been a nun and had lived the holy life for many, many years. The insights gained thereby had been hidden through her actions in subsequent lives. But when the next Buddha appeared in the world, she quickly found her way to him, the reason unbeknown to herself, spurred on by her suffering. Relentlessly attracted to the Awakened One and his doctrine, she entered into the homeless life and soon attained to eternal freedom.

It is said in the Lamrim that she had to suffer in this way because in a previous life, as the queen, out of jealousy she killed the son of one of the king's cocumbines and when confronted, she denied it many times. For every time she lied and denied her action, she was buried once. But what is amazing is that despite that she rose above the sufferings that she had and used it to accelerate her Dharma practice instead.

Carpenter

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2012, 01:56:10 PM »
Hehe, guess what? Just now during dinner time, I went on to search for other female disciple of the Buddha, I found another one, That is Kisagotami.

Quote
here lived in Savatthi a girl called Gotami, in poor circumstances, belonging to the lowest caste. Because she was very thin and haggard, a real bean-pole, everyone called her the haggard (kisa) Gotami. When one saw her walking around, tall and thin, one could not fathom her inner riches. One could truly say about her:

Her beauty was an inner one
One could not see its spark outside.

She was despondent because due to her poverty and lack of attractiveness, she was unable to find a husband. But one day it suddenly happened that a rich merchant who appreciated her inner wealth and considered that more important than her outer appearance, married her. However, the husband's family despised her because of her caste, her poverty and her looks. This animosity caused her great unhappiness, especially because of her beloved husband, who found himself in conflict between love for his parents and love for his wife.

But when Kisagotami gave birth to a baby boy, the husband's whole clan finally accepted her as the mother of the son and heir. Her relief about this changed attitude was immense and a great burden was taken from her. Now she was totally happy and contented. The boy grew up and soon started playing outside, full of energy and joy. However, one day her happiness showed itself to be based on an illusion. Her little son died suddenly. She did not know how to bear this tragedy. Beyond the usual love of a mother for her child, she had been especially attached to this child, because he was the guarantee for her marital bliss and her peace of mind.

His death made her fear that her husband's family would despise her again and that they would blame her, saying she was karmically unable to have a son. "Kisagotami must have done some very despicable deeds, to have this happen to her," people would say. And even her husband might reject her now. All such ideas and imaginings revolved in her mind and a dark cloud descended upon her. She simply refused to accept the fact that the child was dead, and became obsessed with the fantasy that her child was only sick and that she had to get medicine for him.

With the dead child in her arms, she ran away from her home and went from house to house asking for medicine for her little son. At every door she begged: "Please give me some medicine for my child," but the people replied that medicine would not help any more, the child was dead. But she did not understand what they were saying to her, because in her mind she had resolved that the child was not dead. Others laughed at her without compassion. But amongst the many selfish and unsympathetic people, she also met a wise and kind person who recognized that her mind was deranged because of grief. He advised her to visit the best physician, namely the Buddha of the ten powers, who would know the right remedy.

She immediately followed this advice and ran to Prince Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's Monastery, where the Buddha was staying. She arrived in the middle of a discourse being given by the Buddha to a large congregation. Totally despairing and in tears, with the corpse of the child in her arms, she begged the Buddha, "Master, give me medicine for my son." The Awakened One interrupted his teaching and replied kindly that he knew of a medicine. Hopefully she inquired what that could be.

"Mustard seeds," the Enlightened One replied, astounding everyone present.

Joyfully, Kisagotami inquired where she should go to obtain them and what kind to get. The Buddha replied that she need only bring a very small quantity from any house where no one had died. She trusted the Blessed One's words and went to the town. At the first house, she asked whether any mustard seeds were available. "Certainly," was the reply. "Could I have a few seeds?" she inquired. "Of course," she was told, and some seeds were brought to her. But then she asked the second question, which she had not deemed quite as important: whether anyone had died in this house. "But of course," the people told her. And so it went everywhere. In one house someone; had died recently, in another house some time ago. She could not find any house where no one had died. The dead ones are more numerous than the living ones, she was told.

Towards evening she finally realized that not only she was stricken by the death of a loved one, but this was the common human fate. What no words had been able to convey to her, her own experience — going from door to door — made clear to her. She understood the law of existence, the being fettered to the always re-occurring deaths. In this way, the Buddha was able to heal her obsession and bring her to an acceptance of reality. Kisagotami no longer refused to believe that her child was dead, but understood that death is the destiny of all beings.

Such were the means by which the Buddha could heal grief-stricken people and bring them out of their overpowering delusion, in which the whole world was perceived only in the perspective of their loss. Once, when someone was lamenting the death of his father, the Buddha asked him which father he meant: the father of this life, or the last life, or the one before that. Because if one wanted to grieve, then it would be just as well not only to feel sorrow for the one father.

Another time a grief-stricken person was able to see reality when the Buddha pointed out to him that his son would be reborn and that he was only lamenting for an empty shell.

After Kisagotami had come to her senses, she took the child's lifeless body to the cemetery and returned to the Enlightened One. He asked her whether she had brought any mustard seed. She gratefully explained how she had been cured by the Blessed One. Thereupon the Master spoke the following verse to her:

In flocks and children finding delight,
with a mind clinging — just such a man
death seizes and carries away,
as a great flood, a sleeping village.

Because her mind had matured and she had won insight into reality, it was possible for her to become a stream-winner after hearing the Buddha proclaim just that one verse. She asked for admittance into the Order of Nuns.

After having spent some time as a nun, practicing and studying Dharma, she watched her lamp one evening and compared the restlessly hissing flames with the ups and downs of life and death. Thereupon the Blessed One came to her and again spoke a short verse:

Though one should live a hundred years
not seeing the Deathless State,
yet better is life for a single day,
seeing the Deathless State.

When she heard these lines, she was able to shed all fetters and became one of the arahants, the fully Enlightened Ones.

Ninety-two eons ago, in one of her former lives, she had been the wife of a Buddha-to-be, at the time of the Buddha Phussa. During the time of the last Buddha before the Sage of the Sakyas, namely Buddha Kassapa, she had been a King's daughter who became a nun.

In the collection of "Verses of the Elder Nuns" her stanzas can be found, in which she describes the great joy the Buddha imparted to her. Therefore she praises friendship with the Noble and Holy Ones:

The Sage has emphasized and praised
Noble friendship for the world.
If one stays with a Noble Friend,
even a fool will become a wise person.
Stay with them of good heart
for the wisdom of those who stay with them grows.
And while one is staying with them,
from every kind of dukkha one is freed.
Dukkha one should know well,
and how dukkha arises and ceases,
and the Eightfold Path,
and the Four Noble Truths.

The compassion of the Buddha, the most noble friend of all, had saved her from all suffering experienced in this and former lives. She used as her model, the heartrending example of the nun Patacara who had also been afflicted with temporary insanity after the death of not only husband and two sons, but also parents and brothers. Because women's longing for men is so deeply ingrained, the Buddha said, "For a man does the woman strive." From this attachment is born the torture of jealousy, the lack of self-reliance, and the despair of loneliness.

Only when one penetrates a woman's suffering in this way can one realize the full impact of Kisagotami's gratitude towards the Buddha who showed her the way. So she says:

"Woman's state is painful,"
declares the Trainer of tamable men.
"A wife with others is painful
and once having borne a child,
some even cut their throats;
others of delicate constitution
poison take, then pain again;
and then there's the baby obstructing the birth,
killing the mother too."

After she attained to arahantship, she was able to see her past lives and could now say:

Miserable woman, your kin all dead
and limitless dukkha you've known.
So many tears have you shed
in these many thousands of births.

The third part of her verses finalizes her joy in finding liberation and release from all suffering:

Wholly developed by me is
the Eightfold Noble Path going to Deathlessness,
Nirvana realized,
I looked into the Mirror of the Dharma.
With dart removed am I,
the burden laid down, done what was to be done,
The elder nun Kisagotami,
freed in mind and heart, has chanted this.

When Mara,
  • as he had done so often before with other nuns, came to tempt her, to distract her from meditation and asked her whether she was lusting for man now that her child was dead, she immediately replied, discerning the ruse:


* [Mara is traditionally depicted as the "tempter" or "temptation." While here it is made to appear as if "he" were an outer force, the Buddha taught that temptation arises in one's own heart and mind because of one's own defilements.]

Passed is the time of my child's death
and I have fully done with men;
I do not grieve, nor do I weep,
and I'm not afraid of you, friend.
Sensual delight in every way is dead,
for the mass of darkness is destroyed.
Defeating the soldiery of death,
I live free from every taint.

Addressing Mara as "friend," she shows her lack of fear and her equanimity. Grumbling sullenly, Mara disappeared just as before when he had tried in vain to fetter other nuns to the realm of birth and death.

The nun Kisagotami, rising to holiness from lowliest birth, was praised by the Buddha as amongst the seventy-five greatest nuns.

Kisagotami has been through a very deep grief that brought her mind to a very dangerous state, I believe anyone who told her any Dharma about life and death, about the law of impermanence, she would definitely not able to listen, but Buddha used a very skillful way to make her realize.

This is very true, for someone who has been through a very deep sorrow and grief situation, if we can skillfully make them realize the truth, they will have kind of spiritually awakened and start the journey to search for the ultimate truth. That’s why being able to born having a smooth life, it is consider bad karma, because when we are too comfortable in life, we would not truly understand Dharma and hence they will leave Dharma further and further.



Jessie Fong

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2012, 04:19:05 PM »
BUDDHA'S FEMALE DISCIPLES

Maha Pajapati Gotami
Queen Mallika
Khema of Great Wisdom
Bhadda Kundalakesa
Kisagotami
Sona
Nanda
Queen Samavati
Patacara

Ensapa

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2012, 11:09:30 AM »
Here's another story of a nun who was the Buddha's half sister and renowned for her beauty. The Buddha skillfully taught her impermanence as she was extremely attached to her own beauty and from there she gained the realization for liberation.

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Nanda, The Half-Sister Of the Awakened One 

When she was born, Nanda was lovingly welcomed by her parents — the father of the Buddha and his second wife. Her name means joy, contentment, pleasure, and was given when parents were especially joyful about the arrival of a baby.

Nanda was extremely well-bred, graceful and beautiful. To distinguish her from others by the same name, she was later called "Rupa-Nanda," "one of delightful form," or sometimes "Sundari-Nanda," "beautiful Nanda."

In due course many members of her family — the royal house of the Sakyans — left the household for the homeless life, influenced by the amazing fact that one of their clan had become the fully-enlightened Buddha. Amongst them was her brother Nanda, her cousins, and finally her mother, together with many other Sakyan ladies. Thereupon Nanda also took this step, but it is recorded that she did not do it out of confidence in the teacher and the teachings, but out of love for her relatives and a feeling of belonging with them.

One can easily imagine the love and respect accorded the graceful half-sister of the Buddha and how touched the people were by the sight of the lovely royal daughter, so near in family ties to the Blessed One, wandering amongst them in the garb of a nun.

But it soon became obvious that this was not a good basis for a nun's life. Nanda's thoughts were mainly directed towards her own beauty and her popularity with the people, traits which were resultants of former good actions. These resultants now became dangers to her, since she forgot to reinforce them with new actions. She felt that she was not living up to the high ideals the people envisioned for her, and that she was far from the goal for which so many noble-born clansmen had gone into the homeless life. She was sure that the Blessed One would censure her on account of this. Therefore she managed to evade him for a long time.

One day the Buddha requested all the nuns to come to him, one by one, to receive his teaching, but Nanda did not comply. The Master let her be called specially, and then she appeared before him, ashamed and anxious by her demeanor. The Buddha addressed her and appealed to all her positive qualities so that she listened to him willingly and delighted in his words. When the Blessed One knew that the talk had uplifted her, had made her joyful and ready to accept his teaching, he did not immediately explain absolute reality to her, as is often mentioned in other accounts, frequently resulting in noble attainment to his listener.

Because Nanda was so taken up with her physical beauty, the Buddha used his psychic powers to conjure up the vision of an even more beautiful woman, who then aged visibly and relentlessly before her very eyes. Thereby Nanda could see, compressed within a few moments, what otherwise one can only notice in people through decades — and often because of proximity and habit one does not even fully comprehend: the fading away of youth and beauty, the decay, the appearance of wrinkles and gray hair. The vision affected Nanda deeply; she was shaken to the center of her being.

After having shown her this graphic picture, the Buddha could explain the law of impermanence to her in such a way that she penetrated the truth of its completely, and thereby attained the knowledge of future liberation — stream-entry. As a meditation subject the Buddha gave her the contemplation of the impermanence and foulness of the body. She persevered for a long time with this practice "faithful and courageous day and night"; (Thig 84) as she described in her verses:

 Sick, impure and foul as well,
Nanda, see this congeries
With the unlovely,
  • develop mind

Well-composed to singleness.
As is that, thus will this likewise be.
Exhaling foulness, evil smells,
A thing it is enjoyed [**] by fools.

Diligently considering it,
By day and night thus seeing it,
With my own wisdom having seen,
I turned away, dispassionate.

With my diligence, carefully
I examined the body
And saw this as it really is —
Both within and without.

Unlusting and dispassionate
Within this body then was I:
By diligence from fetters freed,
Peaceful was I and quite cool.

— Thig 82-86

 * [The meditations on seeing the body as unattractive, either as parts, or in death. See "Bag of Bones," Wheel 271/272.]
** [Play on her own name, Nanda or Joy and "abhinanditam."]

Because Nanda had been so infatuated with her physical appearance, it had been necessary for her to apply the extreme of meditations on bodily unattractiveness as a counter-measure to find equanimity as balance between the two opposites. For beauty and ugliness are just two kinds of impermanence. Nothing can disturb the cool, peaceful heart ever again.

Later the Buddha raised his half-sister as being the foremost amongst nuns who practiced Jhana.
  • This meant that she not only followed the analytical way of insight, but put emphasis on the experience of tranquillity. Enjoying this pure well-being, she no longer needed any lower enjoyments and soon found indestructible peace. Although she had gone into homelessness because of attachment to her relatives, she became totally free and equal to the One she venerated.


 * [Jhana: Total meditative absorption.]

Ensapa

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2012, 11:15:50 AM »
I have also found the full story of Samvati although the account differs slightly than the story found in Liberation in the Palm of Your hand. This version left out the part where she realized that it was by her own karma that she had to die in this way and accepted it and no longer struggled to accept death. Also missing is what she did to Magandiya in her previous life where she set fire to Magandiya, killing her. Some of her handmaidens tried to fly but they could not due to the power of karma. That detail is also missing from this version as well.

Quote
Samavati was one of the chief consorts of King Udena, Kosambi. One day, her maid named Khujjuttara had the opportunity to listen to the Buddha expounding the Dhamma. She attained the first stage of the noble fruits after listening to the Dhamma. Khujjuttara subsequently repeated the Dhamma to Samavati and her five hundred maids. All of them also attained the first level of Buddhist sainthood. She then continued to repeat the Buddha Dhamma to Samavati and her maids each time after listening to the Buddha from that day onwards.

King Udena also had another chief queen called Magandiya. She instigated that Samavati was not loyal to him and tried to kill him. The enraged king fitted his bow with an arrow dipped in poison and aimed at Samavati. Samavati and her ladies spread the power of goodwill (metta) to the king instead.

The arrow shot had turned back miraculously, although an arrow shot by the king would usually go through a rock even. King Udena promptly realized the innocence of Samavati.

After the initial failed attempt, the evil Magandiya plotted with her unscrupulous uncle to burn Samavati and her maids alive. As the fire ravaged on mercilessly while they were trapped in, upasika Samavati and her maids had kept on meditating. Thus, some of them progressed ahead onto the third level of noble fruit while the rest attained the second level of noble fruit.

diamond girl

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2012, 12:27:26 PM »
I like this thread very much. I am not a sexist but it is just such a pleasure to learn more about nuns in Buddhism. It has always been my perception that Buddhism is one religion of complete fairness and humility. In today's times where gender discrimination still exist, it is just liberating to know that during Buddha's time, when gender discrimination was more apparent, that in Buddhism it was not present.

Here is an article with the nuns listed here plus more:
http://wisdomquarterly.blogspot.ch/2008/08/notable-buddhist-nuns.html

A Nun's Life - VERY Nice Watch
A Nun's Life, part 1 Small | Large





brian

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2012, 04:40:53 PM »
Thank you Ratanasutra for opening this thread, I have never thought that there is female disciple for Gautama Buddha, I thought all disciples are male. After reading this thread, I also went online to surf to see any other female that has created a legend but never mentioned by anyone before.

This is one of the disciple of Gautama Buddha as well, please read:

Samavati was one of the chief consorts of King Udena, Kosambi. One day, her maid named Khujjuttara had the opportunity to listen to the Buddha expounding the Dhamma. She attained the first stage of the noble truths after listening to the Dhamma. Khujjuttara subsequently repeated the Dhamma to Samavati and her five hundred maids. All of them also attained the first level of Buddhist sainthood. She then continued to repeat the Buddha Dhamma to Samavati and her maids each time after listening to the Buddha from that day onwards.

King Udena also had another chief queen called Magandiya. She instigated that Samavati was not loyal to him and tried to kill him. The enraged king fitted his bow with an arrow dipped in poison and aimed at Samavati. Samavati and her ladies spread the power of goodwill (metta) to the king instead.

The arrow shot had turned back miraculously, although an arrow shot by the king would usually go through a rock even. King Udena promptly realized the innocence of Samavati.

After the initial failed attempt, the evil Magandiya plotted with her unscrupulous uncle to burn Samavati and her maids alive. As the fire ravaged on mercilessly while they were trapped in, upasika Samavati and her maids had kept on meditating. Thus, some of them progressed ahead onto the third level of noble truth while the rest attained the second level of noble truth.

As a conclusion, there are two points I would like to share. The first is that females are also capable of realizing the Noble Truths. This is just as the males, be they laities or monks if we practice the Buddha’s trodden path sincerely. The second point is that if we were to continue practicing even under unfortunate conditions/circumstances, we will attain the noble truth of Buddhism.

WOW! Thank you for posting this up really! It had not crossed my eyes that how did it all began (i mean nun hood) and i can't believe my eyes when i read the article and it mentioned Buddha's foster mother??? I was like oh my god!! So after the truth, i came to read about her life struggle to be a nun and i have to say i really admire her passion and determination to be ordained. Especially when we are talking about those days where women generally have no right to decide on their own things and this article have really opened up my eyes!

Ensapa

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2012, 12:01:00 PM »
Here's another story I found uppalavanna. She is considered as one of the the Buddha's chief female disciples, the other being Khema.

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Uppalavanna was the extraordinarily beautiful daughter of a rich merchant. Her skin was the blue-black color and texture of the calyx of the blue lotus. Because of the unusually beautiful color of her complexion, her parents named her Uppalavanna or "one with the hue of the blue lotus." When she came of age her parents had her married to a young merchant from a wealthy family. As was the custom at the time, she moved to her husband’s home in Savatthi.

Uppalavanna lived happily with her in-laws until her husband had to travel to Rajagaha for business. Neither Uppalavanna nor her husband were aware that she was pregnant when he left. When her pregnancy became noticeable, her mother-in-law accused her of misconduct. Despite her pleas of innocence, Uppalavanna was cast out of her home by her mother-in-law who now despised her. Uppalavanna, who had not done any wrong, decided that she would go to Rajagaha in search of her husband.

The journey was long and difficult. Accepting the hospitality of strangers who felt compassion for the beautiful woman who was heavy with child, she walked slowly from city to city until her labor pains started. Resting in a hut on the wayside, she gave birth to a son. Tired and weak, Uppalavanna wrapped the newborn in her robe and rested. Then, leaving the baby in the hut, she walked to the river nearby to wash.

A stranger who was passing by heard the faint cry of a baby. Seeing the little boy with no parents in sight, he decided to adopt the child. When Uppalavanna came back to the hut, she was devastated. Weeping in sorrow she ran about looking for her child, but she was unable to find her son.

Uppalavanna felt terrible. She knew she could no longer go to her husband. He would surely kill her if he found out that she had lost his son. A firstborn son would become head of the family and carry on the lineage. In India, a male-dominated society, this child was precious and his birth a celebrated event. Uppalavanna knew that she had no hope of being forgiven for her carelessness. With nowhere else to turn, she decided to go home to her parents. She was walking through a thick jungle when a robber hiding in the jungle caught sight of her. Attracted by her unusual beauty, he decided to take her as his wife. The desperate Uppalavanna agreed.

Before long she conceived again and gave birth to a baby girl. Her life, however, was not a happy, comfortable one. Her husband was often violently angry with her. He continually reminded her of her past and his gracious hospitality towards her in taking her as his wife. After one such long and furious argument, he stormed off in anger. Uppalavanna, who was furious with her husband, jumped up inadvertently tossing her baby daughter from her lap and onto the bed. The girl flew off the bed onto the floor cutting her head. Blood gushed from the wound as the baby lay unconscious. Uppalavanna was sure she had accidentally killed her daughter. She knew that her husband would never believe her that it was an accident. She feared for her life for she knew the wrath of her robber husband. So she decided to run away again.

Earning her keep by performing menial jobs, the beautiful Uppalavanna scraped together a living. Her former wealth and beauty were of no use to her. She was a fallen woman, ashamed to go back to her parents and afraid to go back to her husband. So she lived many years in great poverty. One day as she was gathering firewood, a handsome youth saw her. Attracted by the older woman’s beauty, he decided to take her as his wife. Tired of her insecure life, she agreed.

Uppalavanna and her husband lived together in harmony for some time. Then one day he had to leave home on business. When he returned he brought home a second wife – a very beautiful woman who was in the flush of youth. Uppalavanna accepted the younger woman reluctantly. (Men often had their way, and having more than one wife was a common). The two women formed a shaky friendship. Uppalavanna was grooming the second wife’s hair one day when she noticed a large, jagged scar on her head. The young woman informed her that she was the daughter of a robber who had injured her head when her mother had fought with her father and accidentally dropped her.


Like an actress, Uppalavanna's beauty shone through in spite of her shaved head.

Uppalavanna was horrified. This was her daughter whom she had left for dead years before! The thought that she and her daughter had shared a man sickened her. Unable to bear the shame of her degrading life she went to the Buddha for solace and comfort. Uppalavanna then decided to join the Order of Nuns.

Soon thereafter it was her turn to unlock and clean the assembly hall. After she had lighted the lamp and swept the hall, the flame of the lamp attracted her. Concentrating on the element of fire, she went into deep meditation and attained enlightenment together with the Analytical Knowledges.

Because of her comprehensive supernormal powers, the Buddha declared Uppalavanna the "female foremost in supernormal powers." She became his second chief female disciple. Together with Khema she helped the Buddha with the teaching and administration of the growing congregation of nuns. Uppalavanna, who had suffered greatly in her youth because of society’s treatment of women, helped other young women attain freedom from suffering. Her experience of the unique suffering faced by women made it easy for her to empathize with others in similar situations.

To understand Uppalavanna’s quick attainment of enlightenment, we need to go back many aeons to the time of Padumuttara Buddha. At the time of Padumuttara Buddha, Uppalavanna was born to a wealthy family in the City of Hannsavati. She had seen the Buddha Padumuttara appoint another nun "foremost in supernormal powers" and second female chief disciple. Inspired by that nun, Uppalavanna had provided meals and requisites to Padumuttara Buddha and his retinue for seven days. She had then made the aspiration to become the chief disciple of a buddha. Padumuttara Buddha, seeing that Uppalavanna would fulfill her aspiration, gave her a sure prediction that under the Buddha Gautama she would become second chief female disciple and foremost in supernormal powers. From this time onward Uppalavanna had performed meritorious deeds earnestly and worked towards her aspiration.

The canon documents some of Uppalavanna’s past births. At the time of Kassapa Buddha, who preceded Gautama Buddha, Uppalavanna was born to the royal family of Benares (Varanasi) as the daughter of King Kiki. She had been a devoted follower of Kassapa Buddha and had performed many meritorious deeds, including the building of a beautiful monastery for him and his disciples. When she died she was reborn in a divine realm and enjoyed heavenly bliss for an extremely long time.



Her next birth was as a poor woman. Between the time of Kassapa Buddha and Gautama Buddha, there had appeared on earth many non-teaching (pacceka) buddhas. A pacceka buddha who had been in deep meditation for seven days on Gandhamadana Mountain had descended from the mountain in search of alms. At that time Uppalavanna had just picked some blue lotus flowers and rice, which she had then made into popped rice.

On seeing that pacceka buddha, she offered him the popped rice and the beautiful blue lotus flowers. Then, full of joy, she had aspired to become as beautiful as a blue lotus. Accepting the meal and the flowers, the pacceka buddha had returned to the mountaintop, using supernormal powers. When she died Uppalavanna was reborn in a heavenly realm and enjoyed heavenly bliss for a very long time.


She then passed away from there and was born again in the human realm. The canon documents that a hermit who lived in the forest near a lake where blue lotus flowers grew had found the beautiful baby by the side of the lake, beside the flowers. The baby, who was very beautiful with skin the color of a blue lotus, was named Uppalavanna by the hermit. He then decided to adopt the helpless infant. Uppalavanna grew up to be exceedingly beautiful and resembled a celestial nymph (sky-deva). She led a sheltered life alone in the forest with the hermit.

One day, a traveler who was passing through the forest saw the unusually beautiful girl and inquired as to her origin from the hermit. When the hermit explained that she was an orphan and that he had brought her up as his own child, he went back and informed the king of the exceptionally beautiful maiden who lived in the forest. The king decided to make her his consort. Together with his courtiers, he visited the hermit and asked Uppalavanna to be his queen. She agreed. Leaving the forest, she moved into the palace and soon became his favorite.

In her next birth Uppalavanna was reborn in Rajagaha as the wife of a farmer. At this time eight pacceka buddhas had appeared in the world, and Uppalavanna had the good fortune to offer them alms. She had prepared a meal of fragrant rice and was taking it to her husband who was tilling the land when she saw the eight seeking alms. She had immediately given them the meal prepared for her husband and invited them to her home for a meal on the following day. She had then prepared fragrant food and picked eight bunches of blue lotus flowers, which she had offered them after the meal. For a second time, she aspired to be as beautiful as a blue lotus.

Her next documented birth was in Savatthi at the time of Gautama Buddha. The aspiration to be a chief disciple made at the time of Padumuttara Buddha was to bear fruit. Her degrading life -- sharing her husband with her daughter -- was too much to bear. It weighed heavily on her mind. She decided to join the Order of Buddhist Nuns under the Buddha.


Even though the canon documents two instances of Uppalavanna’s aspiration to be as beautiful as a blue lotus, it is most likely that she also renewed her original aspiration to be foremost in supernatural powers and the second chief disciple, because fulfilment of such an aspiration requires great effort and many meritorious deeds. It is likely that her unusual color and exotic beauty attracted more attention, which resulted in the preservation of this section of the text. The fact that Uppalavanna immediately agreed to be a nun under the Buddha Gautama, and the fact that she attained enlightenment shortly thereafter, indicates that there must have been many other instances when she had developed wisdom and spiritual insight and renewed her aspiration after performing meritorious deeds.

At that time it was common for nuns and monks to retreat to the woods to meditate. Uppalavanna returned from her almsround and entered her hut in the Dark Forest. An admirer named Ananda, who was infatuated with her, had entered her hut and hidden under her bed. Shortly after she had laid down to rest, he caught her by surprise, climbed on top of her, and overpowered her. Despite her pleas and protests, he sexually abused her. He then left, sneaking out just as he had slipped in.

The unskilful act of abusing an enlightened being, however, was too powerful. Tormented by his heavy karma, Ananda died burning in the fires of his desire and was reborn in the Avici Hell.

Uppalavanna composed herself and informed the nuns of her ordeal. The nuns in turn informed the Blessed One. The Buddha’s worst fears for his Order of Nuns had come to pass. Uppalavanna, his chief disciple, had been overpowered, abused, and treated with disrespect. Approaching King Pasenadi of Kosala, the Buddha requested that he build a residence for the nuns within the confines of the City. He then made it a monastic rule that nuns should not reside or go alone to meditate in the forest. From that time on, nuns resided only in the city.

Sometime later the monks assembled in the Dharma hall to discuss this incident. There arose a debate as to the needs of Arhats to gratify their passions. The Buddha then cleared up their doubts by informing them that the desire between a man and woman is quenched in those who have attained enlightenment and described an Arhat (brahmin) thus:

"One, who like water on a lotus leaf
Or mustard seed on a needle point,
Clings not to pleasures sensual –
That one I call a brahmin [Arhat]."

Uppalavanna recounts her suffering, psychic powers, and final attainment of liberation in the Verses of the Female Saints (Therigatha) as follows:

"Both of us, mother and daughter
Were co-wives
Of me there was religious excitement
Amazing hair raising.
Woe upon sensual pleasures
Impure, evil-smelling, with many troubles
Wherein we,
Mother and daughter were co-wives.
Having seen the peril in sensual pleasures
And (seeing) renunciation as firm security,
I went forth in Rajagaha from the home
To the homeless state.
I know that I have lived before
The divine-eye has been purified
And there is knowledge of the state of mind
The ear-element has been purified
Supernormal powers too have been realized by me
I have attained the anihilation of craving
(These) six supernormal powers have been realized by me
The Buddha’s teaching has been done.
Having fashioned a four-horse chariot by supernormal powers
Having paid homage to the Buddha’s feet
The glorious protector of the world
I stood on one side."
-- (Therigatha 224-229)

Uppalavanna was often desired by admirers because of her extraordinary beauty. The fact that she was a member of the Sangha (the Buddha’s Monastic Order) did not deter them. She rebukes Mara, the Tempter, over this in the following verses.

"You who are so beautiful
Seated beneath a Sal tree with blossoms crowned
Aware of your own loneliness
Do you not tremble when seducers come along?"
"Though men like you, seducers
A hundred-thousand strong should approach
Not a single hair of mine will rise
Nor will I quake with fear
And so, Tempter, coming alone
Of what effect are you?
I who possess supernormal powers
Can make my form disappear
Between your eyebrows or your belly
I could lodge and stay
How then, Mara, can you see me?
My mind I have so disciplined that
Clairvoyance I have cultivated
The fourfold path I have realized
I know the Buddha’s words and ardently I follow.
Lusts as deadly weapons, rend and tear apart
These our bodies, heirs of senses
Desires of which you speak
Lack all attraction for me.
I have conquered all desire
And rent apart
The murky gloom of ignorance
Know, Tempter, I have triumphed over you."
-- (Therigatha 230-235)

The exotically beautiful and bluish Uppalavanna, who could relate to the suffering women faced, was a great asset to the Buddha. Using her supernormal powers and her gentle and pleasing nature, she helped many thousands of women in their emancipation. Drawn by her beauty, compassion, and gentle manner, many emulated the great female Arhat and also attained enlightenment.


rossoneri

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2012, 07:03:23 AM »
Is good to know there's so many female disciple of Lord Buddha and apparently there's is one particular famous disciple called Queen Samavati.



A Famous Female Disciple of Buddha - Samavati

We normally hear of male disciples of the Buddha, be he a laity or monk. Female disciples of the Buddha are seldom mentioned in the Buddhist texts. So, as a Buddhist nun I would like to introduce Samavati, a famous female disciple of the Buddha to you.

Samavati was one of the chief consorts of King Udena, Kosambi. One day, her maid named Khujjuttara had the opportunity to listen to the Buddha expounding the Dhamma. She attained the first stage of the noble fruits after listening to the Dhamma. Khujjuttara subsequently repeated the Dhamma to Samavati and her five hundred maids. All of them also attained the first level of Buddhist sainthood. She then continued to repeat the Buddha Dhamma to Samavati and her maids each time after listening to the Buddha from that day onwards.

King Udena also had another chief queen called Magandiya. She instigated that Samavati was not loyal to him and tried to kill him. The enraged king fitted his bow with an arrow dipped in poison and aimed at Samavati. Samavati and her ladies spread the power of goodwill (metta) to the king instead.

The arrow shot had turned back miraculously, although an arrow shot by the king would usually go through a rock even. King Udena promptly realized the innocence of Samavati.

After the initial failed attempt, the evil Magandiya plotted with her unscrupulous uncle to burn Samavati and her maids alive. As the fire ravaged on mercilessly while they were trapped in, upasika Samavati and her maids had kept on meditating. Thus, some of them progressed ahead onto the third level of noble fruit while the rest attained the second level of noble fruit.

As a conclusion, there are two points I would like to share. The first is that females are also capable of realizing the Noble Truths. This is just as the males, be they laities or monks if we practice the Buddha’s trodden path sincerely. The second point is that if we were to continue practicing even under unfortunate conditions/circumstances,
we will attain the noble fruit of Buddhism.

Ensapa

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2012, 10:26:02 AM »
Here's the story of Sona, the nun who used to have many children, who became a nun anyway and attained arahatship:

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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.

Ensapa

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Re: Who are the female disciple of Gautama Buddha?
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2012, 08:47:36 AM »
here is another nun story that I would like to contribute :)

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Bhadda Kundalakesa
Female Disciples of Lord Buddha   
In Rajgir, the capital of the kingdom of Magadha, lived a girl of good family named Bhadda. Her parents protected her very carefully, because she had a passionate nature and they were afraid that she would be hurt due to her attraction to men. One day from her window Bhadda saw how a thief was being led to the place of execution. He was the son of a Brahman (priest-caste) but had a strong tendency towards stealing.

She fell in love with him at first sight. She convinced her father that she could not live without him, and so he bribed the guards who let the condemned man escape.

Soon after the wedding the bridegroom became obsessed with the desire to get his wife's jewelry. He told her he had made a vow that he would make an offering to a certain mountain deity if he could escape execution. Through this ruse he managed to get Bhadda away from his home. He wanted to throw her down from a high cliff to gain possession of her valuable ornaments. When they came to the cliff, he brusquely told her about his intention. Bhadda, in her distress, likewise resolved to a ruse that enabled her to give him a push so that it was he who fell to his death.

Burdened by the enormity of her deed, she did not want to return to lay life. Sensual pleasures and possessions were no longer tempting for her. She became a wandering ascetic. First she entered the order of Jains and as a special penance, her hair was torn out by the roots, when she ordained. But it grew again and was very curly. Therefore she was called "Curly-hair" (Kundalakesa).

The teaching of the Jain sect did not satisfy her, so she became a solitary wanderer. For fifty years she traveled through India and visited many spiritual teachers, thereby obtaining an excellent knowledge of religious scriptures and philosophies. She became one of the most famous debaters. When she entered a town, she would make a sand-pile and stick a rose-apple branch into it and would announce that whoever would engage in discussion with her should trample upon the sand-pile.

One day she came to Savatthi and again erected her little monument. At that time, Sariputta — the disciple of the Buddha with the greatest power of analysis — was staying at the Jeta Grove. He heard of the arrival of Bhadda and as a sign of his willingness for debate, he had several children go and trample on the sand-pile. Thereupon Bhadda went to the Jeta Grove, to Anathapindika's Monastery, accompanied by a large number of people. She was certain of victory, since she had become used to being the winner in all debates.

She put a number of questions to Sariputta. He answered all of them until she found nothing more to ask. Then Sariputta questioned her. Already the first question affected Bhadda profoundly, namely, "What is the One?" She remained silent, unable to discern what the Elder could have been inquiring about. Surely he did not mean "God," or "Brahman" or "the Infinite," she pondered. But what was it then? The answer should have been "nutriment" because all beings are sustained by food.

Although she was unable to find an answer and thereby lost the debate, she knew that here was someone who had found what she had been looking; for during her pilgrimage of half a century. She chose Shariputta as her teacher, but he referred her to the Buddha. The Awakened One preached Dharma to her at Mount Vulture Peak and concluded with the following verses:

Though a thousand verses
are made of meaningless lines,
better the single meaningful line
by hearing which one is at peace.

Just as the wanderer Bahiya was foremost amongst monks who attained arahantship faster than anyone else, she was foremost amongst nuns with the same quality. Both grasped the highest Truth so quickly and so deeply that admittance to the Order followed after attainment of arahantship. Mind and emotions of both of them had long been trained and prepared, so that they could reach the highest attainment very quickly.

Bhadda's verses have been handed down to us in the collection of the "Verses of the Elder Nuns," as she summarizes her life:

I traveled before in a single cloth,
With shaven head, covered in dust,
Thinking of faults in the faultless,
While in the faulty seeing no faults.

When done was the day's abiding, [**]
I went to Mount Vulture Peak
And saw the stainless Buddha
By the Order of Bhikkhus revered.
Then before Him my hands in anjali [***]
Humbly, I bowed down on my knees.
"Come, Bhadda," He said to me:
And thus was I ordained.
Debt-free, I traveled for fifty years
In Anga, Magadha and Vajji,
In Kasi and Kosala, too,
Living on the alms of the land.
That lay-supporter ” wise man indeed”
May many merits accrue to him!
Who gave a robe to Bhadda for
Free of all ties is she.

* [Vajja: fault, can also mean "what is obstructive to spiritual progress."]
** [The daytime spent in seclusion for meditation.]
*** [anjali: hands placed palms to palm respectfully.]