The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

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The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby piotr » Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:12 pm

Hi,

I would like to start new thread with examples of women's wisdom & discrimination portrayed in the Pāli Canon. Let me begin with a story from the Bhikkhunī-saṃyutta:

    Then Māra the Evil One, desiring to arouse feat, trepidation, and terror in the bhikkhunī Somā, desiring to make her fall away from concentration, approached her and addressed her in verse:

      "That state so hard to achieve
      Which is to be attained by the seers,
      Can't be attained by a woman
      With her two-fingered wisdom."

    Then it occured to the bhikkhunī Somā: "Now who is this that recited the verse — a human being or a nonhuman being?" Then it occured to her: "This is Māra the Evil One, who has recited the verse desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in me, desiring to make me fall away from concentration."

    Then the bhikkhunī Somā, having understood, "This is Māra the Evil One," replied to him in verses:

      "What does womanhood matter at all
      When the mind is concentrated well,
      When knowledge flows steadily
      As one sees correctly into Dhamma.

      "One to whom it might occur,
      'I'm a woman' or 'I'm a man'
      Or 'I'm anything at all' —
      Is fit for Māra to address."

    Then the Māra the Evil One, realizing, "The bhikkhunī Somā knows me," sad and disappointed, disappeared right there. — Somā-sutta, SN 5.2 (Bhikkhu Bodhi transl.)


This particular saṃyutta is full of such poetical combats between the Māra and a bhikkhunīs. In every case wisdom of meditating bhikkhunīs is far greater than abilities of the Evil One. Another interesting story is preserved, with minor differences, both in Saṃyutta-nikāya and Udāna. It seems to be one of the most favourite stories of bhante Ṭhānissaro too. :smile: It begins with romantic-to-be scene at upper terrace of the King's Pasenadi palace. There he asks his wife — Queen Mallikā — "Is there anyone more dear to you than yourself?" And she answers that there is no one. Then she asks him the same question. King Pasenadi must agree with her answer and admits that "There is no one more dear to me than myself". Later, when whole situation was reported to the Buddha, he exclaimed verse which approves observation of the Queen Malikā and gives reason for compassionate action:

    Searching all directions
    with one's awareness,
    one finds no one dearer
    than oneself.
    In the same way, others
    are fiercely dear to themselves.
    So one should not hurt others
    if one loves oneself. — Rājā-sutta, Ud 5.1, cf. SN 3.8 (Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu transl.)


Another story which comes to my mind is found in the Majjhima-nikāya where bhikkhunī Dhammadinnā gives teachings to layman Visākha about variety of things such as: self-identification (sakkāya), fabrications, cessation of perception & feeling, etc. Later, when Visākha told this conversation to the Buddha, the Blessed One said:

    Dhammadinnā the nun is wise, Visākha, a woman of great discernment. If you had asked me those things, I would have answered you in the same way she did. That is the meaning of those things. That is how you should remember it. — Cūḷavedalla-sutta, MN 44 (Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu transl.)


Probably that is why bhikkhunī Dhammadinnā was praised in the Aṅguttara-nikāya (AN 1.239) as the foremost dhamma-teacher among bhikkhunīs.

Which stories describing women's wisdom you like?? :smile:
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...
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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby piotr » Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:50 pm

Hi,

Annabel wrote:A positive thread! :heart: I know you're probably looking for other stories. But this one is so good.


Thank you for this one. :smile: But actually, as I said earlier, I was hoping to read stories from the Pāli Canon which appreciate women's wisdom. :popcorn: If you know any then let us know!
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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby bodom » Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:51 pm

piotr wrote:Hi,

Annabel wrote:A positive thread! :heart: I know you're probably looking for other stories. But this one is so good.


Thank you for this one. :smile: But actually, as I said earlier, I was hoping to read stories from the Pāli Canon which appreciate women's wisdom. :popcorn: If you know any then let us know!


Therigatha
Verses of the Elder Nuns

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... index.html

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby Annapurna » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:06 pm

piotr wrote:Hi,

Annabel wrote:A positive thread! :heart: I know you're probably looking for other stories. But this one is so good.


Thank you for this one. :smile: But actually, as I said earlier, I was hoping to read stories from the Pāli Canon which appreciate women's wisdom. :popcorn: If you know any then let us know!


Sorry. Removed it. :smile:
http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/
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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby piotr » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:17 pm

Hi,

bodom_bad_boy wrote:Therigatha
Verses of the Elder Nuns


Yes! :thanks: How could I forget about it? Story about bhikhunī Somā (Thig 14.1) is incredibly powerful.
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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby bodom » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:20 pm

piotr wrote:Hi,

bodom_bad_boy wrote:Therigatha
Verses of the Elder Nuns


Yes! :thanks: How could I forget about it? Story about bhikhunī Somā (Thig 14.1) is incredibly powerful.


I agree. Good stuff.

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:26 pm

Just FYI, a contemporary nun who seems to me possessed of great wisdom and a great ability to teach "classical" Theravada... Ayya Khema. Her books that I've read and her audio recording that I've listened to... a fine an example of women's wisdom.
- Peter

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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby bodom » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:32 pm

Peter wrote:Just FYI, a contemporary nun who seems to me possessed of great wisdom and a great ability to teach "classical" Theravada... Ayya Khema. Her books that I've read and her audio recording that I've listened to... a fine an example of women's wisdom.


Agree. Very, very wise.

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby Element » Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:01 pm

piotr wrote:Then the bhikkhunī Somā, having understood, "This is Māra the Evil One," replied to him in verses:

    "What does womanhood matter at all
    When the mind is concentrated well,
    When knowledge flows steadily
    As one sees correctly into Dhamma.

    "One to whom it might occur,
    'I'm a woman' or 'I'm a man'
    Or 'I'm anything at all' —
    Is fit for Māra to address."

Clearly, the wisdom expressed above is not 'women's wisdom'. The wisdom is 'Dhamma wisdom'. I cannot see how the texts refer to it as 'women's wisdom'. The renunciate has spoken correctly in saying:

One to whom it might occur,
'I'm a woman' or 'I'm a man'
Or 'I'm anything at all' —
Is fit for Māra to address
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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jan 30, 2009 2:11 am

Hi Element,

Element wrote:Clearly, the wisdom expressed above is not 'women's wisdom'. The wisdom is 'Dhamma wisdom'. I cannot see how the texts refer to it as 'women's wisdom'.


Inasmuch as the wisdom happens to have arisen in the cittasantati whose accompanying rūpasantati is distinguished by the femininity controlling faculty, speaking conventionally, in accordance with the world's usage, one might correctly refer to it as "women's wisdom".

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby jcsuperstar » Fri Jan 30, 2009 6:47 am

wouldnt it be more correct though to say it is A woman's wisdom?

it's certainly not all women's wisdom, just as the dhamma spoken by the buddha or other male arahants is not men's wisdon, but a few men's wisdom?

the dhamma these arahants both male and female have spoken is a rare gift, like a precious jewel not a common pebble...
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jan 30, 2009 7:57 am

Hi JC,

jcsuperstar wrote:wouldnt it be more correct though to say it is A woman's wisdom?


Yes, if referring to just one woman.

it's certainly not all women's wisdom, just as the dhamma spoken by the buddha or other male arahants is not men's wisdon, but a few men's wisdom?


That's true, but the use of "women's wisdom" in the opening sentence of Piotr's initial post (I would like to start new thread with examples of women's wisdom & discrimination portrayed in the Pāli Canon) needn't be taken as implying the wisdom of women in general. On the other hand, there's no doubt that it does carry this undesired meaning when isolated from its context, as in Element's reply. To avoid this ambiguity perhaps it would be better to speak of the wisdom of ariyan women. I'll change the thread title to make the topic clearer.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby cooran » Fri Jan 30, 2009 8:40 pm

Hello all,

Very many women attained arahantship in the Pali Canon, including one who was a murderer, Bhadda Kundalakesa ... I'm not sure if all have any of their sayings and teachings recorded, but it would be good to know - if anyone can assist in this matter:

Buddhist women ~ Dr. Bimala Churn Law, Ph.D.
The Indian Antiquary, 1928, pp.49-54 (1928.03), 65-68 (1928.04), 86-89 (1928.05)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Excerpt:

An account of some famous women who figure prominently in the early Buddhist texts is given in the following pages. The account will show that women were not a negligible factor in the ancient Buddhist community of India.
Abhirupananda was the daughter of a Sakya noble named Khemaka. She was called Nanda the Fair for her great beauty and amiability. Her beloved kinsman, Carabhuta, died on the day on which she was to choose him from amongst her suitors. She had to leave the world against her will. Though she entered the order, she could not forget that she was beautiful. Fearing that, the Buddha would rebuke her, she used to avoid his presence. The Buddha knew that the time had come for her to acquire knowledge and asked Mahapajapati Gotami to bring all the bhikkhunis before him to receive instruction. Nanda sent a proxy for her. The Buddha said, "Let no one come by proxy." So she was compelled to come to him. The Buddha by his supernatural power conjured up a beautiful woman, who became transformed into an old and fading figure. If had the desired effect, and Abhirupananda became an arhat. (Therigatha Commy., pp. 25-26.)

Jenti or Jenta was born in a princely family of the Licchavis at Vaisali. She won arhatship after hearing the dhamma preached by the Buddha. She developed the seven Sambojjhangas. (Ibid., p.27).

Citta was born at Rajagaha in the family of a leading burgess. When she was of age, she one day heard the master preach and believed in his doctrine. She was ordained by Mahapajapati the Gotami. In her old age she climbed the vulture's peak and lived like a recluse. Her insight expanded and she won arhatship. (Ibid., p.33.)

Sukka was born at Rajagaha in the family of a rich householder. When she attained years of discretion, she believed in the Master's teaching and became a lay disciple. One day she heard Dhammadinna preach and was so greatly moved that she renounced the world and followed Dhammadinna. She performed all the exercises for acquiring insight and very soon attained arhatship with patisambhida. Thereupon she became a great preacher and was attended by 500 bhikkhus. One day, along with the other bhikkhunis, she went to the hermitage of the bhikkhunis and taught the Buddha's doctrine in such a way that everybody listened to her with rapt attention; even the tree-spirit was so much moved that it began to praise her. At this the people were excited and came to the sister and listened attentively. (Ibid., pp.57-61.)

Sela was born in the kingdom of Alavi, as the king's daughter. She was also known as Alavika. One day, while yet a maid, she went with the king and heard the Master preach. She became a believer and lay disciple. A few days after, she took orders and performed the exercises for insight. She subjugated the complexities of thought, word and deed and soon won arhatship. Thereafter she lived at Savatthi when the Buddha was there. She entered Andhavana to meditate after finishing her midday meal. Mara once tried in vain to persuade her to choose the sensuous life (Ibid., p.61, f. Cf. Samyutta Nikaya, part 1, p.128).

Siha was born at Vesali as the daughter of General Siha's sister. She was named after her maternal uncle. When she grew up, she heard the Master teaching the Norm to her maternal uncle and became a believer. She was permitted by her parents to enter the order. For seven years she could not acquire insight as her mind became always inclined to objects of external charm. Then she intended to die. She took a noose, hung it round the bough of a tree and fastened it round her neck. Thus she succeeded in impelling her mind to insight which grew within and she won arhatahip. She then took off the rope from her neck and went back to her hermitage. (Ibid., pp.79-80).

Sundari Nanda was born in the royal family of the Sakyas. She was known as the beautiful Nanda. Thinking about the fact that her elder brother, her mother, her brother, her sister and her nephew had renounced the world, she too left it. Even after her renunciation, she was obsessed with the idea of her beauty and would not approach the Lord lest she should ber eproached for her folly. The Lord taught her in the same way as he did in the case of Nanda the Fair. She listened to the Master's teaching and enjoyed the benefit of the fruition of the first stage of sanctification. He then instructed her saying, "Nanda, there is in this body not even the smallest essence. It is but a heap of bones covered with flesh and besmeared with blood under the shadow of decay and death." Afterwards she became an arhat. (Ibid., pp.80 f.; cf. Manora- thapurani, pp. 217-218).

Khema was born in the royal family of Sagala. She was very beautiful and her skin was like gold. She became the consort of Bimbisara. One day she heard that the Buddha was in the habit of speaking ill of beauty, since then she did not appear before the Buddha. The king was a chief supporter of the Buddha. He asked his court-poets to compose a song on the glories of the Veluvana hermitage and to sing the song very loudly so that the queen might hear it. The royal order was carried out. Khema heard of the beauty of the hermitage and with the king's consent she came to the Veluvana Vihara, where the Buddha was staying at that time. When she was led before the Buddha, the latter conjured up a woman to be celestial nymph who stood fanning him with a palm leaf. Khema observed this woman like a more beautiful than she and was ashamed of her own grace. Sometime after she noticed again that the woman was passing from youth to middle age and then to old age, till with broken teeth, grey hair, and wrinkled skin, she fell on earth with her palm leaf. Then thought Khema that her beautiful body would meet with the same fate as that of the nymph. Then the Master, who knew her thoughts, said that persons subject to lust suffer from the result of their action, while those freed from all bondage forsake the world.

When the Master had finished speaking, Khema, according to the commentary, attained arhatship and according to the Apadana, she was established in the fruition of the first stage of sanctification and with the king's permission she entered the order before she became an arhat. Thereafter she made a name for her insight and was ranked foremost amongst the bhikkhunis possessing great wisdom. In vain Mara tried to tempt her with sensuous ideas. (Ibid., pp. 126 f.; cf. Manorathapurani, p.205; cf. Anguttara, n. 1, p.25).

Anopama was the daughter of a banker named Majjha living in Saketa. She was of unique beauty. She was sued by many sons of bankers, higher officers of the State, but she thought that there was no happiness in household life. She went to the Master and heard his teachings. Her intelligence matured. She strove hard for insight and was established in the third fruition. On the seventh day thereafter she attained arhatship. (Ibid., pp.138-139.)

Rohini was born at Vesali in the house of a very prosperous Brahman. When grown up she went to the Master and heard him preach the doctrine. She obtained sotapattiphalam. She converted her parents to Buddha's faith and got permission from them and entered the order. She performed the exercises for acquiring insight and very soon attained arhatship (Ibid., pp.214 f.)

Subha was the daughter of a certain goldsmith of Rajagaha. She was very beautiful and was therefore called Subha. When grown up she saw the Master and believed in his doctrine. The Master saw the maturity of her moral faculties and taught her the dhamma. She was afterwards established in the fruition of the first stage of sanctification. Thereafter she entered the order under Mahapajapafi Gotami. She strove hard for insight and in course of time she won arhatship. (Ibid., pp.236 f.).

Tissa was born at Kapilavastu among the Sakyas. She renounced the world with Mahapajapati Gotami and became spiritually so developed that she attained arhatship. (Ibid., pp.11-13)

Sumedha, daughter of King Konca of Mantavati, was averse to the pleasures of senses from her childhood. She renounced the world hearing the doctrine of the Buddha from the bhikkhunis. Very soon she acquired insight and attained arhatship (Ibid., 272 f.)

Anula was the queen of the king of Ceylon. Surrounded by five hundred girls, she bowed to the theras and honoured them to her heart's content. Thera Mahinda preached dhamma to them. Peta stories, Vimana stories and Saccasamyutta more narrated to them. When they heard the most excellent portion of the doctrine, princess Anula and her five hundred attendants attained sotapatti. She became a believer in the Buddha, Dhamma and the Samgha. With her five hundred attendants she received the Pabbajja ordination from Samghamitta Mahatheri. (Dipavamsa, p.68; cf. Mahavamsa, Geiger's Text, pp. 108, 155.)

Canda came of a Brahman family. She earned her living by begging from door to door. One day she came to the spot where Patacara had just finished her meal. The bhikkhunis saw her hungry and gave her some food to eat. She ate the food and took her seat on one side. She then listened to the discourse of the Theri and renounced the world. She practised hard to attain insight. Her knowledge matured and her determination was strong. Hence she succeeded in attaining arhatship with patisambhida (Th. Commy., pp. 120-121.)

Gutta came of a Brahman family at Savatthi. In her youth household life became repugnant to her. She obtained her parents' consent and entered the order under Mahapajapati Gotami. Thereafter she could not for sometime control her mind from external interests. Then the Master gave her suitable instructions, and she attained arhatship together with patisambhida. (Th. Commy., pp. 157-159.)

Vijaya came of a certain clansmen's family of Rajagaha. She was a friend of Khema. When she heard that Khema, a king's consort, had renounced the world, she went to Khema, who taught her the Norm and ordained her. Very soon she won insight and after a short time attained arhatship with analytical knowledge. (Th. Commy, pp.159-160.) Mara came, to tempt her by saying, "You are young and beautiful, I am also young and beautiful, let us enjoy ourselves with music." She replied, "I find delight in rupa, sadda, gandha, etc. and I don't like soft-touch. I hate very much my rotten body which is easily destructible. My ignorance is dispelled." Then Mara left her. (S.N., 1, pp. 130-131).

Cala, Upacala and Sisupacala were born in Magadha at the village of Nalaka as the children of a Brahmani named Surupasari. They were younger sisters of Sariputta. When they heard that their brother had left the world for the order, they too renounced the world and striving hard, attained arhatship. In vain Mara tried to stir up sensual desires in them. (Th. Commy., 162-163; cf. S.N., Pt. I, PP. 132-134).

Uppalavanna came of a banker's family at Savatthi. Her skin was of the colour of the heart (gabbha) of the blue lotus. Hence she was called Uppalavanna. Many princes and banker's sons wanted to marry her. But she renounced the world, went to the bhikkhunis and was ordained. Thereafter one day she lighted a lamp, and by continually contemplating on the flame of the lamp, she gradually obtained arhatship with adhinna and patisambhida. (Th. Commy., 182 ff.) She was assigned a chief place among those who had the gift of iddhi. (Manorathapurani, p.207 ff.; Anguttara N., I, 25).

The Samyutta Nikaya tells us that Theri Uppalavanna went to Andhavana to meditate. There she sat at the foot of the Sala tree. Mara came to her and said to her, "You are Sitting at the foot of a fully blossomed Sala tree, are you not afraid of the wicked?" She replied, "I do not care for the wicked. I do not care for you." Mara left her. (Pt. 1, pp. 131-132). After defeating Mara, Uppalavanna was molested by her maternal uncle's son Ananda, who was enamoured of her beauty and who wanted to marry her. Although Uppalavanna had become a bhikkhuni, Ananda could not give up the desire of marrying her. Once Ananda concealed himself in the room of the Theri under her bedstead in her absence. When the Theri returned home and lay herself down on the bedstead, Ananda suddenly came out and committed rape on her. The Theri informed the bhikkhunis of this fact, and through the bhikkhunis brought this to the notice of the Buddha, who prohibited the bhikkhunis from living in forests. (D.C., II, 48-51.) Uppalavanna Theri acquired the power of performing a miracle by coming in to the presence of the Buddha to worship him with the pomp and grandeur of an individual monarch, being surrounded by a retinue extending over 36,000 yojanas and this miracle was visible to an assembly extending over twelve yojanas. (D.C., III, P.211.)

Sumangalamata came of a poor family of Savatthi. She was married to a basket maker. She acquired great merit. One day while reflecting on all she had suffered, she was much affected and her insight quickening, she attained arhatship with analytical knowledge. (Th. Commy., 28-30.)

Punna or Punnika acquired great merit in her previous birth, but owing to her pride she could not root out klesas (sins). She was born of a domestic slave at Savatthi in the household of Anathapindika, the banker. She obtained sotapattiphalam after hearing the Sihanada Suttanta. Afterwards Anathapindika gave her freedom because she defeated a Brahman named Udakasuddhika. Punna renounced worldly life and entered the order. She practised insight and very soon attained arhatship with patisambhida. (Th. Commy., pp. 199 f.).

Sundari was born at Benares as the daughter of Sujata, a Brahman. On her brother's death, her father became overwhelmed with grief. With the advice of Theri Vasitthi her father renounced the world, met the Buddha at Mithila, entered the order and in course of time attained arhatship. Sundari heard of her father's renouncing the world. She sacrificed all her wealth and pleasures of all kinds. She secured her mother's consent to leave the world. She then entered the order and striving hard she attained arhatship with patisambhida (Th. Commy., 228 f.).

Vimala was born at Vesali as the daughter of a public woman. When advanced in years she was moved to see one day the venerable Mahamoggallana going about for alms. She went to his house to entice him. Mahamoggallana rebuked her. She was ashamed and became a believer and lay sister. Sometime affer she entered the order and very soon attained arhatship. (Th. Commy., 76-77.)

Mittakalika came of a Brahman's family in the town of Kammasadamma in the kingdom of the Kurus. When she grew up she one day heard the teaching of the Great Discourse on the Mahasatipatthana and entered the order of sisters. For seven years she could not elevate herself intellectually. Later on she won arhatship together with analytical knowledge. (Th. Commy., pp. 89-90).

Sakula (Pakula) was born in a Brahman family at Savatthi. Seeing the Master accepting the gift of the Jetavana, she became a believer. One day she heard the preaching of an arhat and was greatly convinced. She entered the order, strove hard for insight and soon won arhatship. She was given the foremost place by the Master among the bhikkhunis possessing divine eyes. (Th. Commy., pp. 91 f.; cf. Manorathapurani, pp. 219-220; cf. Anguttara N., I, 25.)

Sonadinna, a female devotee living in Nalanda used to serve the bhikkhus with the four requisites and used to observe the precept and uposatha with perfect regularity. She meditated on the four noble truths and attained sotapatti. (Vide my work, Heaven and Hell, p.53).

Mutta came of a rich Brahman family of Savatthi. When she was twenty years old, she went to Mahapajapati the Gotami and got ordination from her. She was practising kammatthana and she was instructed by the Buddha to get herself free from all bonds. Afterwards she became an arhat. (Th. Commy., pp.8-9.)

Punna was the daughter of a leading burgess of Savatthi, When she was about twenty years of age, she heard the great Pajapati teach the doctrine, and renounced the world. She practised insight, being encouraged by the Master. In due course she attained arhatship. (Th. Commy., pp. 9-10.)

Dantika came of a purohita's family at Kosala. When she came of age, she acquired faith in the Buddha in the Jetavana, and later entered the order under Mahapajapati Gotami at Rajagaha. While staying at Rajagaha, she climbed the Vulture's Peak after her meal, and while resting she developed insight and soon obtained arhatship with analytical knowledge. (Th. Commy., pp. 51-52.)

Vaddhesi was the nurse of Mahapajapati Gotami. When her mistress renounced the world, she followed her. For twenty-five years she was harassed by the lusts of the senses and failed to acquire concentration of mind. One day she heard Dhammadinna preach the Norm. She then began to practise meditation. Very soon she acquired the six supernatural powers. (Th. Commy., 75-76).

Uttama came of a householder family at Bandhumati. When she grew old, she heard Patacara preach and entered the order. When Patacara gave her admonition, she was established in insight and very soon won arhatship. (Th. Commy., pp. 47-48). Thirty sisters born in different families of different places heard Patacara preach and were converted by her and entered the order. They practised insight and in course of time they won arhatship with patisambhida. (Th. Commy., pp.118-120.)

Uttara came of a certain clansmen's family at Savatthi. When grown up she heard Patacara preach the Norm. She became a believer, entered the Order and became an arhat. (Th. Commy, pp.161-162.)

Uttari was a theri who was 120 years old. She went to beg for alms. Once, while going for alms, she met the Buddha on the way and when going to salute him, she fell down. The Buddha delivered a sermon to her, and she having attained the first stage of sanctification died. (D.C., vol. III, p.110.)

Khujjuttara was the maid servant of Samavati, queen of King Udena of Kosambi. Her daily duty was to buy flowers from Sumana, a garland-maker for eight kahapanas. Once the Buddha together with the bhikkhusamgha was invited to take meals in Sumana's house. Khujjuttara waited on her and heard the sermon delivered by the Buddha. She obtained sotapattiphalam after hearing the sermon. In former days she used to steal four kahapanas out of eight kahapanas given to her by her mistress for buying flowers. After having obtained sotapattiphalam she brought flowers to the value of eight kahapanas. She confessed her guilt when asked why she brought such a large quantity of flowers. She told Samavati that she had acquired knowledge and came to realise that stealing things is a sin committed by a person who listened to the Buddha's sermon. Samavati after listening to the dhamma repeated by her obtained sotapattiphalam. She was well versed in Tripitaka. (D.C., I, pp.208 f.)

Sona came of a clansmen's family at Savatthi. In course of time, after marriage, she became the mother of ten sons and was known as Bahuputtika. The Dhammapada Commy. says that she had seven sons and seven daughters (D.C., II, pp.276--278). On her husband renouncing the world she divided all her riches equally between her sons. In a very short time her sons and daughters-in-law ceased to show respect. She then entered the Order of the bhikkhunis and began to practise insight strenuously in her old age. The master gave her suitable instructions. Sona Bhikkhuni then attained arhatship. (Th. Commy,, 95.) She occupied the foremost place among the bhikkhunis, making great exertion (Manorathapurani, 218-219; cf. A.N., I, 125).

Bhadda Kundalakesa came of the family of a banker at Rajagaha. When grown up, she one day saw Satthuka, the purohita's son, being led to execution by the city guard. She fell in love with him at first sight. She resolved to die if she did not get him. Her father heard of this and got Satthuka released by bribing the guard heavily. Satthuka was brought to Bhadda, who, decked in jewels, waited upon him. He saw her jewels and coveted them. He told Bhadda to get ready an offering to be given to the cliff deity. Bhadda did so. She adorned herself with all her jewels and accompanied her husband to the precipice with an offering. On reaching the top of the precipice, Satthuka told her to put off all her ornaments which he had come there to take. In vain Bhadda pleaded that She herself and all her ornaments belonged to him. Satthuka did not take any notice of her pleadings. He wanted all her ornaments. Bhadda then prayed for an embrace with all her jewels on.

Satthuka granted her prayer. Bhadda embraced him in front and then, as if embracing him from the back, pushed him over the precipice. Satthuka died (cf. Dhammapada Commy., vol. II, pp.217 f.). Thereafter Bhadda did not come home, but she left the world and entered the Order of the Niganthas. She learnt the doctrine of the Niganthas and left their company. Thereafter she found no one equal to her in debate. She setup the branch of a jambu tree on a heap of sand at the gate of some village or town, with the declaration that any body able to join issue with her in debate should trample on this bough. Sariputta ordered some children who were near the bough, to trample on it. The children did so. When Bhadda saw the bough trampled, she challenged Sariputa to a debate before some Sakyan recluses and was advised to go to Buddha for refuge. She went to the Buddha who discerned the maturity of her knowledge. Buddha spoke a verse and she attained arhatship with analytical knowledge. (Th. Commy., pp. 99f.) Bhadda was assigned a chief place among the bhikkhunis possessing ready wit. (Manorathapurani, p. 375; cf. Anguttara Nikaya, I, 25.)

Sama came of a rich householder's family at Kosambi. She was moved by the death of her dear friend, the lay-disciple Samavati. One day she listened to Elder Ananda preaching and acquired insight. On the seventh day after this she attained arhatship with a thorough grasp of the Dhamma in form and meaning. (Th. Commy., 44-45.)

Another Sama who came of a clansmen's family at Kosambi, was a friend of Samavati, whose death afflicted her so much that she could not gain self-control for twenty-five years. In her old age she heard a sermon through which her insight expanded and she won arhatship with patisambhida (analytical knowledge). (Th. Commy., 45-46.)

Ubbiri came of the family of a rich house- holder at Savatthi. She was very beautiful, and was brought to the palace by the king of Kosala. A few years later a daughter was born to her. This daughter was named Jiva. The king saw the child and was very much pleased. He then had Ubbiri anointed as queen. After a few years Jiva died. The mother used to go to the cemetery and shed tears. Questioned by the Exalted One as to why she was weeping, she said that she was sheding tears for her deceased daughter. She was questioned by the Exalted One as to which of the 84,000. daughters she was weeping for. She then spent a little thought and intelligence over the Norm thus taught by the Buddha. She was established in insight, and in due course she won arhatship by virtue of great merits. (Th. Commy.,53-54).

Kisagotami came of poor family at Savatthi. She was married to a rich banker's son who had forty crores of wealth. (D.C., II., pp. 270-75). Bodhisatta was her maternal uncle's son. One day, while the Bodhisatta was returning home after receiving the news of Rahula's birth, he was seen by Kisagotami from her palace. Buddha's beauty pleased Kisagotami so much that she uttered a stanza, the purport of which is, "the mother who has such a child and the father who has such a son and the wife who has such a husband are surely happy" (nibbuta), but the Bodhisatta took the word nibbuta in the sense of nibbanam. The Bodhisatta presented her with a pearl necklace for making him hear such auspicious and sacred words. (D.C., vol. I, p. 85; cf. Atthasalini, p. 34.) On the death of her only child she went to the Buddha with the dead body and requested him to bring the dead to life. Buddha asked her to bring a little mustard seed from a house where no man had died. Kisagotami went from house to house, but she came back to Buddha quite unsuccessful. The Buddha delivered a sermon which led her to become a bhikkhuni. Her insight grew within a short time and she attained arhatship. (Th. Commy., 174 f.). Then the master assigned her the foremost place among the bhikkhunis who used very rough and simple robes. (A.N., 1, p.25; cf.,Manoratha; purani, p.380.)

Once Kisagotami went to Andhavana to meditate. Mara, came to her and said," You have killed your sons and now you are crying. Why are you not searching for another man? " Kisagotami replied, "I have completely destroyecl my sons and my husband and I have no sorrow. I am not afraid of you, my attachment is destroyed and ignorance is dispelled. Killing the army of death I live sinless." Mara then left her. (S.N., I, pp.129-130). Once Kisagotami was coming through the sky to worship the Buddha while Sakka with his retinue was seated before the Buddha. She did not come to the Buddha, but worshipped him from the sky and went away. Being questioned by Sakka, the Buddha answered that she was his daughter. Kisagotami, who was the foremost among the bhikkhunis, used very rough and simple robes. (D.C.,IV, 156-157.)

Patacara came of a banker's family at Savatthi. In her youth she formed an intimacy with a servant of her house. On the day fixed for her marriage with another youth of equal rank she eloped with her lover and dwelt in a hamlet. There she used to perform household duties, and her lover used to bring wood from the forest and work in a field belonging to others. Shortly afterwards Patacara gave birth to a child, but at the time of the birth of her second child, a storm arose. Her husband went to a forest to cut grass and sticks. While he cut a stake standing on an ant-hill, a snake came from the ant-hill and bit him. He fell there and died. The next morning Patacara went to the forest with her two children and found her husband dead. She lamented and left the place. On her way to her father's house there was a river, the water of which was knee-deep. She lost her children while crossing the river. With tears of grief she came to Savatthi and learnt that her parents and brother had perished under the debris of the fallen house. She turned mad. Since then she did not wear clothing, and was therefore known as Patacara. One day the Exalted One saw her in that plight and said, "Sister! Cover your shamelessness." She regained her consciousness, and the Lord taught her that sons, parents and kinsfolk were no shelter, and asked her to discern this truth in order to make clear quickly the way to nibbana. Then she was established in the sotapattiphalam. She attained arhatship with analytical knowledge (Th. Commy., p.108 f; Manorathapurani, pp.356-360; cf. A.N., I, 25) Thereafter she preached the Buddha's dhamma and converted many afflicted women to the Buddhist faith.

The Therigatha Commy. says that Patacara had five hundred female disciples, who came of different families of different places. They were married, bore children and lived domestic lives. Overwhelmed with grief at the loss of children they went to Patacara, who asked them not to weep when the manner of birth and death was unkown to them. They were greatly moved by Patacara's teachings and renounced the world under her. They performed exercises for insight and soon became established in arhatship with patisambhida. (Th. Commy., pp. 122-123; cf. Dhammapada Commy., II, p.260 f.)

Vasitthi came of a clansmen's family at Vaisali. Her parents gave her in marriage to a clansman's son of equal position. She had a son. When the child was able to run about, he died. Vasitthi went mad with grief. She came to Mithila and there she saw the Exalted One, self-controlled and self-contained. At the sight of the Buddha the frenzy left her and she recovered her normal mind. The master taught her the outlines of the Norm. Performing all proper duties, she acquired insight, and struggling with the help of full Knowledge, she soon attained arhatship together with a thorough grasp of the Norm in form and spirit. (Th. Commy., 124-125.)

Dhammadinna came of a clansmen's family at Rajagaha and became the wife of a Setthi named Visakha. One day her husband heard the master teaching, and after hearing him he did not hold converse with her as he used to do before, but renounced the worldly life. Dhammadinna too became a bhikkhuni and took up her residence in a village. One of the great merits acquired in her previous births was her subjugation of the complexities of thought, word and deed. By virtue of this merit, she soon attained arhatship together with thorough mastery of the form and meaning of the Dhamma. Then she returned to Rajagaha and was questioned by her husband on the khandas and the like. She answered so correctly that she was praised by the Buddha and was ranked as foremost among the sisters who could preach. (Th. Commy., 15; cf. Manorathpurani, pp. 360-363; Anjuttara N., I, 25.)

Dhamma came of a respectable family at Savatthi. Given in marriage to a suitable husband, she became converted. On her husband's death, she entered the Order. In due course she won arhatship with thorough knowledge of the Norm in form and meaning. (Th. Commy., p.23).

Mettika was the daughter of a rich Brahman of Rajagaha. She climbed a hill and lived like a recluse. She acquired insight and within a short time won arhatship (Th. Commy., p.35).

Abhaya came of a respectable family at Ujjain. She was a friend of Abhayamata. She followed her in renouncing the world, and entered the Order. In course of time she attained arhatship at Rajagaha. (Th. Commy., 41-43.)

Soma was born at Rajagaha as the daughter of the purohita of King Bimbisara. When advanced in years she became a lay disciple. Afterwards she entered the order of the bhikkhunis. She performed exercises of insight and within a short time won arhatship. Mara tried in vain to divert her from this path. From the Samyutta Nikaya we learn that Mara came to her and said,"What is to be obtained by the Rishis, you are, with slight wisdom, trying to have it. That which is difficult to be obtained by great sages, you being a silly woman, want to have." She replied: " If my mind is steadfast, I must acquire it, my womanly nature will not prevent me from acquiring it." Mara then left her. (Th. Commy., pp. 66-67; cf. S.N., 1, p.129.)

Bhadda Kapilani came of a Brahman family of the Kosiya clan at Sagala. She was married to a young noble Pippali at the village of Mahatittha. When her husband renounced the world, she made over her wealth to her kinsfolk. She then left the world and dwelt five years in the hermitage of the heretics. Thereafter, she was ordained by Mahapajapati Gotami. Establishing insight she soon won arhatship. By the master she was ranked first among the bhikkhunis who could remember previous births (Th. Commy., 67 f.; cf. Manorathapurani, p.375; cf. Anguttara N., I, p.25).

-ooOoo-
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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby Ben » Fri Jan 30, 2009 9:42 pm

Excellent post, Chris!
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby LG2V » Sat Sep 14, 2013 1:20 am

Thanks for the great post, Cooran!


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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby zamotcr » Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:11 pm

Indeed, very powerful words.

As a contrary, there is this quote from Bahudhātuka Sutta:

15. “He understands: ‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that a woman could be an Accomplished One, a Fully Enlightened One—there is no such possibility.’1090 And he understands: ‘It is possible that a man might be an Accomplished One, a Fully Enlightened One—there is such a possibility.’ He understands: ‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that a woman could be a Wheel-turning Monarch…that a woman could occupy the position of Sakka [66]…that a woman could occupy the position of Māra…that a woman could occupy the position of Brahmā—there is no such possibility.’ And he understands: ‘It is possible that a man might be a Wheel-turning Monarch…that a man might occupy the position of Sakka…that a man might occupy the position of Māra…that a man might occupy the position of Brahmā—there is such a possibility.’


Taken from: http://palicanon.org/index.php/sutta-pitaka/majjhima-nikaya/720-mn115-bahudha-tuka-sutta-the-many-kinds-of-elements#calibre_link-2635

Personally, I don't like this quote, very chauvinistic.
Last edited by zamotcr on Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby robertk » Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:45 pm

please don't write posts suggesting any suttas are inauthentic in classical forum
moderator note.
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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby zamotcr » Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:49 pm

robertk wrote:please don't write posts suggesting any suttas are inauthentic in classical forum
moderator note.


Sorry and fixed.

It would be good to know an interpretation from someone expert in this topic :namaste:
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Re: The Wisdom of Ariyan Women

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Sep 20, 2013 7:07 pm

zamotcr wrote:It would be good to know an interpretation from someone expert in this topic :namaste:


Here is one:
Dhammanando wrote:It’s part and parcel of the general doctrine that in their final life bodhisattas will be reborn in circumstances that permit them to have the optimal impact upon devas and men.[1] For example, it is said that they will be reborn in whatever happens to be reckoned as the highest social class at that time; the place of their birth will be a cultured and not a barbarous one; they will be physically attractive, possessed of a good voice, etc. etc.

The texts don’t spell out precisely why it would be better for them to be men rather than women, but it's not hard to guess. As far as we know, all human societies are patriarchal, always have been, and most probably always will be.[2] So, if you’re intent on making a really big splash in the world, other things being equal, possession of a male body will stand you in better stead than possession of a female one.


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