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Binara Poya and the Bhikkhuni Order

By Premasara Epasinghe Daily News 11/8 2008 Sri Lanka

Out of the Poya days, which falls during the rainy season, Binara is of special significance as far as Buddhist Order is concerned. Binara Poya begins according to the English Season in Autumn (Sarath in Sinhala) between Summer and Winter from September to November in the Northern hemisphere.

During this period, members of the Maha Sangha, observe the Disciplinary Code laid down by the Blessed One. They stay indoors during this rainy season and perform special monastic rituals and attend to many religious ceremonies, meditate and deliver sermons.

There is a very close relationship between the Buddhist monks and lay - 'dayakas'. Temples get filled with large number of devotees observing “Sil” on Binara Poya day. Youth play a prominent role in Buddhist activities on Poya days.

 The Bhikkhuni Order

When the Blessed One was residing at Nigrodharamaya in the City of Kapilavastu, Queen Mahāpajāpatī, approached the Enlightened One, and requested permission for women to enter the Order. The Buddha turned down her kind request thrice.

The Buddha left Kapilavastupura, proceeded to the City of Vesali and resided at Kutagara Hall.

In the meantime, Queen Mahāpajāpatī, the chief of the Bhikkhuni Sasanaya, who played a lead role, with five hundred wives of the princes, shaved their heads, wore yellow robes, met Venerable Ananda Thera and humbly requested him to speak to the Blessed One to grant permission for them to enter the Bhikkhuni Order.

Once again, the Buddha turned down their request, made by Ven. Ananda. Again and again Ven. Ananda appealed to the Buddha to grant permission for Prajapathi Gothami and her 500 companions to enter the Order.

Considering the request of Queen Mahāpajāpatī the Buddha granted permission to womenfolk to enter the Sasanaya on Binara Poya day and requested them that they should strictly follow and honour the eight important principles (Garu Dharma Ata) laid down by the Buddha. It was called as the Code of Conduct for Bhikkhunis.

Some of the highlights of this “Garu Dharma” are:

a) A Bhikkhuni (Nun), although she had attained the Higher Order, eVen. hundred years ago, She should worship and honour a Bhikkhu who had attained the Higher Order on that very day. Here the date of the seniority does not matter.

b) No Bhikkhuni should be engaged in Retreat in an area where there are no Bhikkhus. (Monks)

c) Bhikkhunis should take the advice of Bhikkhus. (Monks)

d) At the end of the Retreat a Bhikkhuni should ceremoniously end the “Retreat” in the presence of Bhikkhunis and Bhikkhus.

e) A novice Bhikkhuni, should gain higher ordination in front of Bhikkhunis only after one year of study.

f) Bhikkhunis should not advise Bhikkhus, although Bhikkhus may advise Bhikkhunis.

Venerable Ananda, described these condition to Queen Mahāpajāpatī and stated “If you accept these conditions, the Blessed One will grant permission to initiate the Bhikkhuni Order.

Queen Mahāpajāpatī facing the direction of the Blessed One made this announcement. “Ven. Ananda, just as young men and women would bathe and adorn themselves with garlands of Jasmine flowers, so do I accept those conditions laid down by the Blessed One.

Thus, was the beginning of the Bhikkhuni Order (Sasanaya) on a Binara Full Moon day.

With the advent of Buddhism to Sri Lanka during King Devanampiyatissa's reign, the daughter of the Great King Emperor Asoka's daughter Sanghamitta brought the Bo-sapling Jayasiri Maha Bodhi and there began the Bhikkhuni Sasanaya in Sri Lanka.

In a very silent manner sans publicity, the Sri Lankan Bhikkhunis, contribute their share for the propagation of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. They also play a leading role in spreading the Message of Buddhism.
We are ever grateful to them.

Video on Uposatha Observance:

The Bhikkhuni Net An Alliance for Bhikkhunis: http://www.bhikkhuni.net/

The Buddhist Poya Uposatha Observance Day Calendar is here:

May the Triple Gem Bless you!


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