Thailand's first bhikkhuni devoted her life to dhamma, women
¨Ò¡Ë¹Ñ§Ê×Í¾ÔÁ¾ì Bangkok Post ©ºÑº Saturday 28 June 2003
Thailand's first bhikkhuni, Ven Voramai Kabilsingh, passed away on Monday, June 23.
Ven voramai, 95, was the first Thai woman to receive full ordination from Taiwan in 1959, thus paving the way for women to participate fully in Buddhism.
Under the present law, only men can enter the monkhood, a sacred status for Buddhists who wish to follow the path to enlightenment.
Women who wish to develop their spirituality are only allowed to become mae chi (nuns), which is not considered a serious platform for dhamma study.
Ven Voramai assumed the ordained name of Ven Ta Tao Fa Tzu after her ordination, but she was known among her followers as Luang Ya (Grandmother Monk).
Always one to champion woman's independence, gender equality and compassion among humankind, Ven Voramai worked as a teacher and ran her own printing business. As a young woman, she rode her bicycle from Bangkok all the way to Singapore.
Luang Ya sponsored the construction of Wat Songdharmakalayani in Nakhon Pathom province, which she used as a centre for children and women. Her orphanage, educational and social welfare projects have particularly benefited the poor and pregnant women in need.
Ven Voramai's heritage is being carried on by her only daughter, Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, who followed in her footsteps and received ordination as a bhikkhuni in Sri Lanka. Chatsumarn received the ordained name of Dhammananda.
Ven Dhammananda was on the plane coming in from France when her mother left her physical body.
"The community did all the necessary preparation in my absence. She looked peaceful and actually beautiful. Ek, my eldest son, did well on my behalf to make a decision to take her back and not to have her to go through all the painful medical assistance. He was constantly in touch with the doctor until the end," said Ven Dhammananda.
"Two senior monks, one in his 70s and one in his 50s were present, taking charge of the ritual par. I am deeply grateful to them," she added.
The spiritual connection between the two bhikkhunis was strong.
"The night previous to June 23 (the day that Ven Voramai passed away) she was kind enough to let me know of her presence, a heavy breathing on my left ear, so that I woke up. The connection of the spirit is amazing. She did not have to know Paris, she went directly to me, to communicate. That is the power of the trained mind," she said.
The chanting ceremony for Ven Voramai is being held at Songdharmakalayani in Nakhon Pathom at 7pm in the evenings, until Monday.
Before becoming a bhikkhuni, Ven Voramai was married to Kokiat Satasen. She is survived by on daughter, Ven Dhammananda; three grandsons, Ekachat, Vorachat and Chatthakur; two great-grandchildren, Nanda-Chanok, six, and Parami, three.
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