Yasodhara newsletter on international buddhist woman's activities 
Vol.20 (no.75) April-June, B.E. 2546 (2003)



        In the 3rd Century B.C. King Asoka sent out Buddhist missionaries in9 different routes. One of them led by Prince Mahinda Thera, the King's royal son came toSri Lanka. He was successful in convertingTissa, the king of Sri Lanka to Buddhism. 
       The first Sri Lankan to have attainedthe first stage of enlightenment, Sodapanna,was Princess Anula, the king's sister-in-law. She asked the Thera if it was possible for her tolead an ordained life. Prince Mahinda Therasuggested to the King to send an envoy toKing Asoka in India inviting his sister, alsoa learned bhikkhuni, Princess SanghamittaTheri to come to Sri Lanka to establish the bhikkhuni Order. 
       With this historical context I will take you to Kelaniya Monastery, situated in the north of Colombo, Sri Lanka. One of the popular mural paintings at this temple recorded the eventwhen Princess Sanghamitta Theri arrived withthe bodhi sappling and the accompanied 10 learned nuns. King Devanampiya Tissa waschest-deep in the water to welcome them. This painting is seen world over. But we did notpay attention to yet another painting justopposite to this famous painting. 
        It so happened that on the day of ourvisit, the painting was under a restorationproject, the artists were at work with scaffoldingsand ladders barring us from the full view ofthe beautiful painting. We were disappointed not to be able to take the picture of Sanghamitta Theri. I came out to rest on the steps outside. For some reason I went back again and noticed that the artists were not at work any more.Naiyana, one of my students climbed up theladder to take the close-up picture of Sanghamittaand reported the ordination on the oppositewall. It turned out to be Princess Anula askingfor ordination from Sanghamitta Theri. Thescaffolding which was an obstacle in thebeginning now became instrument leading usto obtain the valuable picture of Princess Anula. (front cover) there were two paintings, one,Princess Anula, wearing white and was seenentering with her followers. The other, she was kneeling with the yellow robes in her arms,asking for upasampada from Sanghamitta Theri who was sitting in front of her. I was moved and gladdened to have this extraordinary chance todiscover such beautiful paintings. (Feb.24,2003) 



        After my ordination, it was March 3,2003 when Mr Edirisinghe took us to visit Ven Gotami, A Sri Lankan bhikkhuni who lived in Mahintale,the direction is opposite to Mahintale Stupaor what locally called Dagaba. Coming from Anuradhapura, we turned left at a junction just before Mahintale Dagaba and proceeded about 1-2 kms. before turning into a small lane on the right. We stopped at someone's house by the name Chandra. Edi (Mr Edirisinghe), called usout of our van. He announced that we have togo on foot. As to my understanding, we wereto visit some
"very good" bhikkhunis and samaneris who lived in that neighbourhood.We walked through someone's back yard until we came to a small shack-like dwelling. Thiswas the place where the samanerislived. We met two of them, Uttara and Sudharni, both samaneris. The chief nun, Bhikkhuni Gotami was invited to Malaysia at that time. Sr.Uttara could speak English, we made an offering of some fruits which we had bought on the way for this visit.
        As the conversation wenton back and forth in Sinhalese and English, I gathered that the army was happy to have the nuns living thereto give them instruction on meditation and they are now offering a pieceof adjoining land to build a proper nunneryfor them. 
        By this time Edi kept leading us, apparentlyinto the wilderness. I was not interested to seethe extent of land the army proposed to offer to the nuns, not in the hot sun, with my tired feet.I was a miserable 2-day old grumbling bhikkhuni. 



        Then someone convinced me that wewere going to see an inscription of PrincessAnula. I perked up without a good sip of any coffee.
"Why didn't you say so from the beginning" I responded putting extra speedin my steps. 
         From that height of the mount, Mahintale Dagaba could be seen on the other side. A small worship shrine for Anula Devi could be seenunder a bodhi tree. At the further end of the mount was a ruin of a dagaba, the archaeological dept.has declared it to be Anula Dagaba with aninscription on the stone slab saying that
"This place Princess Anula and 500 female followers took ordination, etc." 
          In order to protect the inscription, thedepartment had made a cement wall about 6 inches wide and 10 inches high to temporarily fence off the inscription and covered it withloose sand. 
         As the sun was setting, four of us, one bhikkhuni and three samaneris joined ourpalms and chanted the victorious verses to bless all the devas in the area, to turn yet anotherpage of history of Buddhism. I took it as anauspicious sign to have followed the footstepof the Princess Anula to lead this holy life the way the Buddha had provided us for, both thespace and opportunity. 
         May we brothers and sisters walk thisnoble path with strength and harmony. MayBuddhism prosper, and may all of us be freefrom suffering.

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